We have asked Polina Steier of Caviar Affair to share her thoughts with us about her love for hotels, and Amberlair, of course. And before you ask, a #BohoLover is a Boutique Hotel lover… just like us!
How do you choose a hotel when you travel?
Our bespoke luxury traveler readers rely on my colleagues and myself to inspire them with exceptional and extraordinary properties around the world, exceptional experiences and itineraries. I seek out hotels that our readers would love to stay in and return to. The hotels I seek must have a personal approach to excellent, not stuffy, and discreet service. They must have a strong sense of place with strong ( non-cookie cutter) design that evokes a sense of place. Fast, free WiFi is always a plus. Free, well curated minibar items. Must have a boutique intimate feel, even if it’s a large grand property. Must have insiders VIP access to hard-to-get into places and connection to bespoke local experiences. The bedding absolutely must be high quality with fine hand feel sheeting and duvets (mattresses could be luxury and locally crafted – like a great horsehair mattress). Towels as well – Oversized thirsty plush towels. I like a “modern cocooning” type of hotel that offers the highest levels of creature comforts after a day of adventurous “roughing it” exploration. I love to swim, so a pool or nearby access to a pool is always a plus.
If you had to choose 3, which were the most special (boutique) hotels you have ever stayed at and what made them so special?
I can’t choose just three —
Royal Mansour in Marrakech – The King of Morocco treats his guests lavishly at his townhouse-suites.
I love the intricate local artwork throughout the villas and the amazing food at the restaurants. Your personal butler also offesr a delicious tea that you can enjoy from your rooftop sunken Jacuzzi overlooking the Marakkech skyline while the haunting call to prayer is heard throughout the city. Lavish breakfast is served in your private courtyard fountained garden.
Townhouse Galleria in Milano for their outstanding high level of service and their embrace of modern design without touching the centuries old façade and special interiors.
Laucala in Fiji for the warm full staff musical singing welcome when your private plane touches down, and for their marvelous attention to service such as squeezing freshly picked mangoes and papaya for your morning juice and fishing at your whim for your fresh sashimi. The lavish delicious breakfasts under a thatch roof on your private villas beach is dreamy. I love the electric jeep they give you to tool around the private island.
Las Ventanas al Paraíso in Los Cabos – For their freshly garden foraged salads, just-caught seafood, and freshly squeezed margaritas. The villas are incredible and the “director of romance” helped me plan a surprise for my husband with a wonderful special “only at Paraiso” experience. I love how this resort lights up with flickering candles at night.
Minaret Station in New Zealand – For their elegant romantic tented suites in the New Zealand alps – and helicopter only access.
The Efendi in Akko, Israel – for the gorgeous design and incredible rooftop views of the sea, souks and mosques.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about one other all time favorite hotel –
The Singita Grumeti in the Serengeti. For it’s cocooning luxury tents and cabins and a birds eye view of the great migration from your back porch. Imagine thousands of wildebeest passing right by your tent in the morning as you sip warm tea, mesmerized. The cashmere clad hot water bottles they provide in your bed after dinner is also a wonderful touch.
Each perfectly evokes what I seek in a hotel. The common golden thread in all the hotels chosen above is their unique experiences available only at or through the properties, their exceptional intuitive attention to details and your needs/desires and their outstanding sense of place. And, of course, great food!
If you had your own boutique hotel, what 3 things would you make sure existed?
- Welcoming, warm, unobtrusive service with a fine eye towards detail and the needs of guests
- Exceptional in suite amenities such as free, fast wifi, locally sourced bath products, sumptuous sheets, duvets and pillows and terrific curated (free) minibar items
- Offering unique bespoke one-of-a kind culinary/spa/area exploration experiences found only through or at the hotel
Name 3 things you loved in hotels you stayed in before…
- At Laucala in Fiji – I loved my birthday private champagne filled yacht ride around the gorgeous island of Laucala followed by a private fireside chefs sumptuous bbq (complete with amazing personal cake) and local musicians To cap of the evening – a petal strewn bath awaited in my villas hand carved Indonesian wood tub.
- At Townhouse Galleria in Milano, I loved my personal butler’s attention to detail from what I wanted in the types of bed sheeting, to the exact temperature of the drawn bath, to the personal chef prepared midnight snacks (caviar topped roasted potatoes, of course!) . I also loved my butler -led private insiders tour of La Scala.
- At the Giraffe Manor in Nairobi, I loved waking up in the early morning to two long purple tongued giraffes poking into our second story window, and feeding them from a treat filled bucket in the suite.
- At the Peninsula Hong Kong, I loved seeing the mesmerizing junks float by below our suite and swimming in their gorgeous pool. Their high tea is amazing, too.
Name 3 things you wouldn’t want to experience in a hotel ever again.
Unclean. Flimsy threadbare sheeting. Minibar charges.
How do you feel about the Amberlair concept?
This is a novel concept that will be warmly embraced. To create boutique hotels and exceptional experiences stemming from the feedback, advice and input of like-minded ultra-luxury travelers would be outstanding. I am looking forward to seeing (and experiencing) Amberlair’s debut.
Where are you off to next?
Finland to enjoy the Northern Lights from incredible ice igloos, and Tatarstan to stay at my uncles dacha with family.
Polina Steier founded Caviar Affair magazine as its Editor in Chief in 2005 to inspire a like minded community of voyagers seeking unique luxury, bespoke, highly personalized travel and culinary experiences and extraordinary hotels worldwide. She oversees the award-winning editorial and design staff and freelance journalists of the magazine’s print and digital editions.
Caviar Affair magazine inspires its readers to create their own memorable journeys and discover and rediscover the world through food, wine and wonderful hotels with a sense of place.
Polina lives with her husband in the San Francisco Bay Area. You can find her on Facebook and Twitter.