Stephen Travels

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Oceanside Luxury in Swakopmund, Namibia

Strand Hotel, Swakopmund, NamibiaEnticingly comfortable rooms and luxurious suites, with satellite TV and Wi-Fi, proper tea service, great air conditioning, and well-designed bathrooms. Three restaurants, a lobby bar, and a beer garden. Relaxing lounges. Private parking. Superior staff and knowledgeable activities directors. Gym and full-service spa. It could be a list of requirements from guests at hotels in the world’s most-visited cities. But this is not New York, for example, or Tokyo. This is Swakopmund, Namibia, and you’ve just checked in to the Strand Hotel, a fine four-star hotel with gorgeous nightly sunsets and just about everything you could possibly want in a hotel. Read more >

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Quiet Luxury in the Polish Capital

Hotel Bellotto, Warsaw, PolandEven though it’s one of the premiere hotels in Warsaw, Poland, it sounds Italian — and with good reason. Hotel Bellotto was named after Bernardo Bellotto, the Venetian artist who spent the last 20 years of his life in Poland, unwittingly playing a critical role in the rebuilding of Warsaw after nearly the entire city was destroyed during World War II, long after he died in 1780. Today, the five-star hotel’s name pays homage to this critical player in Warsaw’s rebirth while providing exceptionally wonderful services and luxurious rooms. Read more about it >


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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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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 >