San Francisco can never have too many French cafes and bistros. The latest darling addition to the famed Aqua restaurant group, Cafe de la Presse makes a much-needed comeback, and it is prepared to impress. With executive chef Laurent Manrique at the helm, how could we not be dazzled?
Located in Union Square, across the street from the Chinatown Gate, it truly is the perfect melting pot for a locale, placed amidst many international hotels and shops. The old-world interior reminds one of a scene of a typical bistro in Paris from the 1930s, with dark tobacco stained walls and framed vintage posters. This mini-time travel experience is absorbed as you nurse an espresso from the round marble tables. What’s really exciting is that the management retained the international newsstand behind the bar. Copies of Le Monde, Paris Vogue, Le Figaro, etc. are all at your fingertips. All that is missing is a tabac or cigar station to make it really authentic, but I’m not complaining.
The best news? The menu is truly authentic bistro fare. Under Manrique’s direction, French-trained chef Patrick Albert whipped out a wide range of dishes, from the Croque Monsieur sandwich ($8) to the tasty Coquilles St. Jacques a la Provencale ($21).The Tartes Flambees are the definite winners for the lunch menu. The blanched onions melded perfectly with the smooth creme fraiche, which balanced nicely with the savory bacon. Sardines a l’Huile ($10) is another winner. These house-marinated sardines will change your impression of the everyday sardine. Served with an array of dipping sauces such as garlic aioli and olive tapenade, your taste buds will thank you for trying this dish.
Spring’s the perfect time to travel. Whether you are on spring break or on biz travel, you might be lucky enough to swing by San Francisco, the lovely City by the Bay. Feeling tired from work conferences or shopped too much? Here’s a couple spas to revitalize your spirit:
Spa Vitale, the recently-opened boutique spa within Hotel Vitale, is right along the Embarcadero of downtown SF. The indoor/outdoor haven encompasses sunlight-filled massage and treatment rooms, outdoor soaking tubs, and a luxurious view of the San Francisco bay. This urban oasis specializes in innovative bathing rituals, massages, foot treatments and nurturing facials.
Signature treatments include the Bathing Ritual ($60), a fantastic escape in the infinity tubs set among an intimate bamboo garden on the rooftop. This is a great way to prelude a spa treatment, but may be experienced by itself. Gourmet bathing milks, bubbling warm water and cool cucumber eyewash welcome a decadent way to soak your tired muscles.
Valentine’s Day or not, smart traveling gals need to streamline their carry-on essentials. Stuck on the airport? Don’t fret. Whether it’s a weekend getaway or a biz trip, it’s wise to create a basic travel kit. The following are a must for every romantic globetrotter. Who knows – you just might meet that cutie on your flight”¦
Breath Palette Water Kits ““ Say goodbye to icky breath and hello to natural oral hygiene! These shot-sized mouthwashes come in small individual packets, so packing is super easy. Alcohol-free, they come in flavor palettes such as East Meets West, Smoothie, Zen Palette and Sweet Tooth, all of which contain different flavors such as Green Tea , Coffee, Melon and Pumpkin Pudding. Yum.
$7.00; 10 ml, 5 per kit
Available at: www.breathpalette.com, Nordstrom and Fred Segal
Guinot Eau Demaquillante Parfaite (One Step Cleansing Water) – A complete 3-in-1 cleanser, makeup remover and toner, it also contain Hyaluronic Acid to moisturize. Floral & cucumber extracts help soothe that awful airplane skin so you can be dewy soft for the entire flight. No worries about spilling – it has a tight leak-proof cap!
$28.00, 6.7 oz.
Available at the following LA spas: English Day Spa (323-653-4701), Thibiant Day Spa (310-278-7565) and The Beauty Collection (323-930-0300).
Jaqua Rose Bouquet Hydrating Facial Mist – Who needs scented candles when you can use this lovely facial spray on just about anything? Infused with Rose Hip and Aloe Vera, it softens the skin while doubling as a linen spray. No more musty hotel rooms ““ spray it on your pillows and sheets for that sexy boudoir effect.
$20.00, 6 oz.
Available at: www.victoriassecret.com
Barielle Nail Polish Remover Towelettes – Look pretty and stylish doing your mani-pedi with these awesome towelettes. Formaldehyde and alcohol-free, each pad removes polish off all ten fingers or toes. These darling heart-shaped lovelies also contain Vitamin E to nourish. Now that’s efficient!
$2.50 for 3 individually packaged towelettes
Available at: Bath & Body Works Flagship Stores
What can I say about the Ritz Hotel Group that hasn’t been said? After a brief slump, they seem to be back on track, providing excellent luxury rooms and prestige service. Nowhere has this been more evident to me than the Ritz-Carlton Boston Common.
Located at 10 Avery Street just a couple of blocks from the famed Bostonian Park, the Ritz Boston Common is all about one thing. Service. Sure, they have the marble floors, glittering chandeliers, large bathrooms, fantastic bedding…but what they really excel at is personal service. Don’t believe me? How about this one.
I left my mobile phone charger at home and needed to charge my phone. My travel companion was in the same predicament. We called the front desk to see is (embarassedly) someone could charge one of our phones in our vehicle with our car chargers. Mais Non! Proclaimed the Concierge. No sooner had we put down the receiver than there was a knock at the door. A very helpful gentleman collected our phones and said he would return post haste. When he came back, he had a charger that accommodated each phone. “We have about 50 types of phone chargers we loan out to guests,” he said with a grin. I call that service. With a smile. Or Grin.
Back to the hotel and its amenities. It’s posh without being severe. Comfortable and cozy. They have 24 hour room service and the menu is impeccable. They have a Bath Butler, in case you want your bath drawn for you, old school style. The rooms are very well kept and very well cleaned (This is a big one for me when traveling. Huge.). The Club Level offers light nibbly things and snacks from sun-up until night cap time. Additionally, the hotel has direct access to The Sports Club/LA Boston, Olympic pool and Spa.
Lots of places can offer you comfortable rooms and convenient location. But what is most uncommon about The Ritz-Carlton Boston Common is the blend of luxury, service and privacy…a staff dedicated to insuring you a flawless stay and the Ritz-Carlton tradition of, let’s face it, doing things just a little bit better than the rest.
Our Drawn baths serve as an antidote to jetlag for long distance travelers, a reward at the end of a successful business day, or the chance to pamper oneself.
A personal attendant will be pleased to draw the bath of your choice fifteen minutes prior to the appointed hour. Please place your reservation two hours in advance by dialing 8338.
Boston Tea Party Bath
Our fore fathers took tea and dropped it into Boston Harbor. This was an act of rebellion, but we have taken their idea and made it something decadent. This fragrant tea bath of lavender and natural sea salts will sooth your body from a day of shopping and walking the Freedom Trail. We have also added a choice of herbal tea to enjoy during your enlivening bath. There is no history lesson here, but relax and enjoy.
Make Way For Ducklings
If the ducklings in The Boston Public Garden could have this bath, they would never leave for the winter. This delightfully cozy bubble bath is joined by a playful rubber duck, a mug of hot cocoa or chocolate milk, and freshly made Ritz-Carlton cookies. No matter what your age is this bath will bring the child out in you.
Isn’t it Romantic
The puritans founded Boston in 1630, but this bath is not for the puritanical. Scented bubbles and rose petals would make anyone blush. Lay back and enjoy this delightful bath with champagne and strawberries and a romantic C.D. to set the mood. What a perfect way to start your sleep experience.
Mars & Venus Bathing Experience
What is that saying, “Women are from Venus, Men are from Mars.” Well, this selection of his and hers mineral salts come from the depths of the bright blue sea. These sea salts will cleanse the body and soul and give you a refreshing outlook for the rest of your stay. As part of this relaxing bath choose from our selection of magazines and compact discs to help sooth your spirit.
Our bath Butler will be happy to present our extensive selection of hand-milled soaps, made exclusively for The Ritz-Carlton. These unique soaps will be hand cut for you prior to your bathing experience. Let your mood make the choice.
The bath menu is available from 9am to 10pm. Prices are subject to a 15% service charge.
The Standard Hotel on the Sunset Strip has always been a haven for lounging by the pool, sipping cocktails, and spotting celebs. Recently, the Hollywood hot spot has been graced with a more serene touch. The Spa at the Standard, which rests on the top floor of the hotel, is a mini-spa touting the city’s best manicures and pedicures. They will also offer facials, waxing, and massage. If sun is shining, you can enjoy your treatment in a poolside cabana, or for ultimate privacy, in your guest room.
In the week leading up to the American Music Awards, media, LA hipsters, and celebrities enjoyed some pampering to celebrate the opening of the Spa at the Standard. The spa is owned and operated by the Virtual Spa, and it emanates a home-y feeling. The Spa provides clients an opportunity to experience the Virtual Spa’s skilled technicians before inviting them into their home. With years of spa experience, Lisa Hall is setting up the Standard Hotel with a truly special retreat for pampering and treatments for the guests of the hotel.
Although life in LA is often uncertain, there is always one thing you can depend on – traffic. Lisa Hall, Founder and Creative Director of the Virtual Spa, moved to LA from Chicago with the idea of creating another location spa, like the one she owned in The Windy City. After braving the roads and congestion around the Chicago area, she was struck with a novel idea: instead of going to a spa, why not create a spa that comes to you!
“With the hassle of getting from one place to another, by the time you get home from the spa, you are as stressed as you were before you got there,” says Hall. “So I decided to bring the spa environment in to the place where people are most comfortable, their home.”
Treatments include anything from massage, facial, private yoga instruction, waxing mani/pedis, hair services, and more. The technicians are all passionate about what they do, and know the importance of human touch. The holiday season is the perfect time to treat yourself or someone else on your list to the essence of being pampered.
You can find the Virtual Spa online at www.theVirtual-Spa.com.