Stephen Travels

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Accommodations on a Horse Farm With Mesmerizing Scenery in Franz Josef, New Zealand

My 10-hour drive down the west coast of New Zealand’s South Island brought me from a subtropical environment with beaches, ferns, and palm trees in Abel Tasman National Park and the town of Kaiteriteri to the ranges of the Southern Alps and snow-topped mountains. The wonderful diversity of the country’s landscapes and climates fully comes alive on State Highway 6, a route that largely hugs the wild coast and occasionally turns inland to, for instance, Westland Tai Poutini National Park, where I had booked a night’s stay at Glacier Cottages in the township of Franz Josef. Quiet and scenic, with unexpected four-legged entertainment and free milk — you’ll want to spend more than just one night here. Read more >

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Bird Hunting Inside Hotel Monaco in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Hotel Monaco, Pittsburgh, PennsylvaniaHaving already stayed at the Baltimore property of Hotel Monaco, I knew what to expect when I checked into the Pittsburgh location: a spotless, comfortable, exceptionally quiet room; great service; perfect location. What I wasn’t anticipating, however, was the whimsical bird motif throughout — subtle little popup appearances in unexpected places, making my weeklong stay in this superior hotel an enjoyable guessing game as I hunted for new feathered friends every day. Read more >


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Travel Through Time at Detroit’s Inn on Ferry Street

Inn on Ferry Street, Detroit, MichiganDetroit has seen better days — we all know that. But that doesn’t mean it’s a hopeless case. In fact, it’s one of the most interesting American cities I’ve ever visited. And when I was searching for a place to stay in this Michigan city — one of the best in the United States for architecture, and by far one of the most anthropologically riveting — I decided to opt for something from its grander days rather than a shiny new glass-and-steel hotel. So I took a step back in time and, for four days, I led a semi-Victorian life at the unique Inn on Ferry Street. Read more >


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Ca’ San Rocco: Venice’s Perfect Secret B&B

A substantial number of people who spend more than a day in Venice, Italy, tend to overnight out of town in nearby Mestre — it’s convenient to Venice, and accommodation prices are much more reasonable. But I would not suggest that. If you’ve come all this way to see Venice, stay in Venice. It may cost you more, but the experience and memories will far outweigh your parsimony. And once I decided to forgo a room with a canal view, the financial difference was barely noticeable because I stayed at Ca’ San Rocco, an utterly charming, comfortable, quiet, and affordable bed and breakfast in the heart of Venice. Read more >


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Mediterranean Luxury at Malta’s Hotel Phoenicia

Since it opened in 1947, Hotel Phoenicia has been one of the foremost hotels in the Maltese Islands, and I was fortunate enough to spend a week here during my visit to this Mediterranean archipelago. From the second I arrived to the second I checked out, the entire staff effortlessly provided warm and accommodating service amid the resplendent setting, maintaining a tradition of excellence that has been the hallmark of the Phoenicia for 70 years. Read more about this preeminent hotel >


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Affordable Luxury in the Heart of Tallinn, Estonia

I wanted to stay within the walls of Tallinn, Estonia’s Old Town, a top UNESCO Heritage Site, but a bit removed from the tourist bull’s-eye of Raekoja plats (Town Hall Square). Upon my first glance at the Savoy Boutique Hotel, I knew I had found what I was searching for: a surprisingly affordable luxury hotel in a perfect location with an enviable list of amenities and services. Read more >


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A Sweet Life at an Old Sugar Plantation in St. Kitts

Ottley's Plantation Inn, St. KittsFeeling chilly? Weary of scraping ice off your windshield and shoveling? Starting to fantasize about a tropical location, where rock salt is replaced by the salt on the rim of your margarita glass? Then think about it no further and book a stay at Ottley’s Plantation Inn. Long gone are the days of backbreaking labor in the sugarcane fields here. Today, it’s a polished — and exceptionally well-run — oasis on the balmy Caribbean island of St. Kitts. Read more >