We have asked Sheena of Citizen Femme to share her thoughts with us about her love for travel and 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?
Location and distinct style are the basis of any hotel decision. I love boutique hotels, interesting design and excellent service. I love individually run hotels, or hotels where each property is like a brand of its own. You can see heart has gone into it, and comfort and design are key. I confess, I love luxury – beautiful bedrooms with floods of light pouring in through the window, huge luscious beds, pillows and lovely bathrooms.
If you had to choose 3, which were the most special (boutique) hotels you have ever stayed at and what made them so special?
The service at The Mandeville Hotel in London far surpasses many hotels, with the best hotel concierge at any hotel I’ve ever stayed in. The location is my favourite, in Marylebone, and you are walking distance to everything you want to see, do, places to eat and drink and they have the most comfortable beds.
The Upper House in Hong Kong is like having your head in the clouds. It’s an incredibly tranquil escape from the madness that is Hong Kong. There is no check-in desk, pool, spa etc, but its peaceful and hidden with a beautiful library with fireplace, and on the 49th floor is a single, perfect restaurant called Café Gray Deluxe, a gem set in the clouds.
Chateau Eza in Eze, South of France is traditional and romantic and utterly enchanting. They have an elegant terrace where you can sit with an Aperol Spritz and look over the Cote d’Azur. You feel like you’re in a classic old movie with the feel of the Hotel, the design, the exceptional service and brilliant food.
I also love L’Hotel and Le Crillon in Paris, and am constantly exploring.
If you had your own boutique hotel, what 3 things would you make sure existed?
Other than all the assumed items of comfort, quality, design and service, I would insist on these items, which are often hard to come by:
- An excellent hairdryer. It is incredibly hard to find, along with enough power outlets.
- A good room service menu, with lots of options exceeding burgers and chips. And a menu that is easy to navigate. Some hotels are trying to take advantage of a tech revolution, and it is very difficult to pick what you want from a hard-to-navigate iPad or TV menu.
- Fast Speed Wifi, which should really be a staple in Hotels now.
- One more! A love a lobby area that is combined with the reception. You’ll find it buzzing with people drinking coffee, hanging out and meeting friends. Immediately you get a great sense of a hotel.
Name 3 things you loved in hotels you stayed in before…
- A juice menu
- Although I didn’t like the overuse of tech, I stayed at The Armani Hotel in Milan and you could use the iPad to show you who was at the door and respond, so you didn’t have to get out of the bed, or shout to the door saying ‘come back later!
- Mobile phones so you don’t go crazy on phone bills (they have this at The Mandeville)
Name 3 things you wouldn’t want to experience in a hotel ever again.
- Rude staff as if they are doing you a favour
- Staff walking into your rooms unannounced, despite the ‘do not disturb’ sign
- Badly designed bathrooms, confusing showers and water leaking on the floor – drive me nuts and it happens in the best hotels!
I also generally dislike PR spins for the sake of it. Make it a genuine added benefit and service, not adding a service or spin because it is press worthy only.
How do you feel about the Amberlair concept?
Its great! As long as you have 2 intelligent people heading it, as you do, and making sure all ideas are properly executed, it’s a real community project and you can absolutely make the most fantastic product!
Where are you off to next?
Los Angeles, then Chamonix to ski and I’m in London with my family for Christmas.
Sheena Bhattessa is the founder of luxury online travel magazine, Citizen Femme. Sheena grew up in the hospitality industry in a family of hoteliers so has always had a love of travel and a keen eye for boutique properties. But her background is as an actress, working in theatre and TV in London and the USA.
Alongside her acting career, Sheena launched Citizen Femme in 2017, a platform that drives the trends and informs the growing next generation of traveller. She has over 35 writers from around the world providing tips and insider guides in the course of less than year, providing daily content. She brings together the opinions of travel writers, opinion formers and tastemakers, making it easy for the generation that looks for everything online.
Sheena continues acting and most recently completed a Royal Shakespeare Company production of Queen Anne at the Theatre Royal Haymarket and CBS series Ransom.