Where to Stay: The Claska Hotel, Tokyo

Part hotel, part restaurant, part event space and part super cool design shop, this hip and quirky boutique hotel is a hidden gem in Tokyo’s off-the-beaten path Meguro neighborhood.

The hotel was remodeled from an old business hotel in 2003 as a collaboration between the English Design firm Tomato and up-and-coming Japanese designers. The minimalist aesthetic of the space is thoughtful and well designed, but still retains the energy and slightly worn feel from a past time.

Not all rooms are created equal at the Claska, and the hotel is often booked up months in advance. Each room has a different design, so guests often do their research and reserve a specific room.

The Claska’s restaurant Kiokuh is situated right in the lobby, ideal for people watching in the lobby over a pot of tea or cocktail. The restaurant’s French-based menu serves breakfast, lunch and dinner throughout the day. There are two options for breakfast - either a Japanese and American menu. Meals are simple but delicious. Try the Japanese breakfast if you are feeling adventurous!

Claska’s fantastic shop “DO” sells a well curated mix of Japanese clothing and housewares. Certainly not your traditional souvenir shop, this is a destination in itself where ceramics, artisan fabrics, and trendy clothes abound.

Take advantage of the hotel’s complimentary bikes to explore the many interior design shops and restaurants sprinkled throughout the neighborhood. Meguro is slightly off the beaten path, but much more low key than many parts of busy Tokyo. Its a charming neighborhood and I really enjoyed exploring this quieter side to the city. 

-- IF YOU GO -- 

Pack... comfy walking shoes, pocket wifi and a Tokyo guidebook

Plan ahead... each room at the Claska is different. do you research and book in advance if you have a preference on your room's style (my vote is for the "Modern" rooms: Japanese and Scandinavian style, with clean lines and plenty of space!)

Read more… One-stop shop for design lovers

Where to Stay: Nick's Cove, Tomales Bay

One of my favorite escapes from San Francisco is heading north to Point Reyes and Tomales Bay. It's a beautiful spot that feels far away from everything but in reality is only about an hour and a half drive from the city. I've shared some favorite spots in the area before in my Tomales Bay Guide. You can do it as a day trip, but it’s worthwhile to invest the time to stay a few nights. It’s a beautiful slice of part of the world it is. 

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Any time we drive up to the Tomales area, we plan our drive to stop at the Marshall General Store for lunch. The oysters are fresh and the sandwiches are filling and delicious.

After lunch, keep driving to reach Nick's Cove, a charming and unassuming inn off the side of Highway 1.  Twelve cottages line the coast and the hillside across the road to make up this spot. Low key but completely luxurious, with wood burning stoves, claw-footed tubs and heated tile floors in the bathroom in most of the cabins. I've stayed here twice, once in a waterfront and and once in a waterview cottage. If you can justify the splurge, the waterfront bungalows are perfection. Waking up to the water is one of life's great pleasures, and it's equally as pleasing to watch the sun set over Tomales Bay from your own private over-water porch. 

Be sure to indulge in your complimentary oysters upon check-in, and enjoy the casual atmosphere at the roadside restaurant for a hearty dinner after working up your appetite on a hike in Pt Reyes National Seashore earlier in the day.

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If You Go

Pack… No matter the season, it gets chilly in the evenings and mornings on the water. You'll want an extra layer for hiking, cozy sweats for lounging by the fire.

Good For… Romantic getaway

Plan Ahead… To maximize your relaxation, you’ll want to book a waterfront room. Al’s is my favorite! If you are just going to eat at the restaurant (which I recommend so you don’t have to drive) you can make dinner reservations when you arrive.

Value… There’s a fairly big range in price depending on which cottage you book, and when you go (also note there’s a 2 night minimum on the weekends). The rooms are cozy, comfortable and outfitted with details like heated floors in the bathroom and in some rooms soaking bathtubs and fireplaces. The value for the price is worth it if you are looking for an off the grid place to recharge.

Where to Stay: Carneros Resort & Spa, Sonoma

Wine country is obviously an essential Northern California destination, and living in San Francisco means we are usually lucky to make a day trip to enjoy some wine every so often. But there are some amazing hotels up in Napa and Sonoma counties, and I have a long wish list of places I'd love to stay. The Carneros Resort and Spa has been on the top of that list since we moved out here, and we finally made it happen to celebrate my first Mothers Day! 

We booked a Premier Garden Cottage, arrived on Friday after work and basically never left our cozy room again. With a king sized bed, outdoor deck, lounge chairs, large soaking bath tub, an outdoor shower and a fireplace, we had everything we needed and the ingredients for a perfect weekend. 

We traveled with our young son, so the stunning pool that I drooled over on instagram was off-limits to us (but yes I did sneak in for a photo). However, for us hanging out in our cottage was all we needed for a perfect weekend. We ordered room service from their fabulous restaurant Boon Fly Cafe for all of our meals -- didn't have to wait for a table or worry about our baby crying in the restaurant, plus we got to eat every meal alfresco on our deck (except for breakfast in bed!) Win-win-win in my book. And yes, the Boon Fly Donuts are worth it. Definitely dip them in the chocolate sauce. 

The property is large and very family friendly. It would be a great destination for any trip (romantic getaway, a girls trip, etc), but I really loved it for traveling with a baby. There is a family friendly pool that we spent a few hours relaxing at, and there were lots of other young couples with babies cruising around. 

This can obviously be a great home base for wine tasting in the region -- it is very centrally located on Sonoma County's Highway 12, and is a short drive to my favorite vineyard Scribe Winery

 

 

 


If You Go

Pack... bathing suits, easy sandals, wine tasting-chic dress, and a wide brimmed hat to keep the sun out. 

Good for... traveling with small babies, wine country weekend, girls trip

Plan ahead... wine tasting reservations usually need to be made in advance. The hotel staff can assist with that and any reservations for meals. The staff was very friendly, helpful & accommodating throughout our stay. 

Price... It's expensive, and the price has deterred me from staying a few times before. But if you are in need of a relaxing getaway in a beautiful setting, it's worth saving your pennies for a splurge (we put some old AmEx points to good use).  

Where to Stay: The Line, Washington, DC

In a city that has long lacked hip and trendy places to stay, there's a new kid on the block and its the Line Hotel. Recently opened in late December, you can still score a room at the incredibility discounted preview price. Nestled in the heart of Adams Morgan, a buzzing, diverse neighborhood with tons of great restaurants and bars, the location is a great option for visitors to the nation's capital that are not looking for a fancy place to stay on the National Mall or a chain hotel in Pentagon City. You may be tempted not to leave the hotel during your stay. With 3 restaurants, 2 bars and a coffee shop, and a distinct "see or be scene" vibe in the hotel lobby, its a spot you could easily post up for some impressive people watching all afternoon. We arrived at 2pm on a Sunday and it was packed. Laptops open and cocktails being enjoyed. 

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The hotel was built in a former First Church of Christ, Scientist with a strong emphasis on preserving original details, like the organ that is now deconstructed and hangs from the lobby ceiling as a work of art and subtle light fixture. 

The rooms are thoughtfully designed with an eclectic mix of art hung on the walls, textiles throughout and most importantly, a comfortable bed. After checking we inquired about switching rooms to one that had a bathtub (I'm 7.5 months pregnant over here!) The staff was more than happy to accommodate, a bellhop came to our room to move our bags and the manager personally greeted us to escort us to the next room. This turned out to be a suite (room 406 for the record) with a stunning view of the entire city, the Washington Monument and Capitol building peaking out above the buildings. The helpful attitude to make this switch, with only a small increase in the nightly price, was service I've rarely encountered at similar hotels. Our new room provided a spacious area to enjoy the views as we watched the sun set and also take a relaxing bath. It was so comfortable that we debated ordering room service for dinner, but with one of my favorite restaurants, Mintwood Place, just 2 blocks away, I couldn't resist an opportunity to indulge in their Tagliatelle Bolognese. 

The Line call their hotels a place for community, culture and exploration, and I'd say they hit the mark. I lived in DC for years, and am so excited there is finally a place I'm excited to stay when I come back to visit. 

 

 

Where to Stay: Sublime Comporta

Often the road less traveled leads you to exactly where you need to be. And the road to Comporta, Portugal in November is certainly a less traveled path. Known as a popular beach escape for many Europeans, Comporta is increasingly a popular destination with new hotels opening up over the past few years.

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Visiting in the off-season gave us a chance to see the sleepy beach town without tourists, or really many people at all. With most of the town was closed for the season, we enjoyed a relaxing few days at the new-ish Sublime Comporta hotel and leisurely explored the area without fighting any crowds or traffic. Within an easy hour drive from Lisbon, we were happy to escape to a nice hotel for the last few days of our trip. 

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Located on 17 acres, the Sublime Comporta is built to blend in with the natural surroundings. We stayed in a Cabana Suite that included a cozy king bed, and a full kitchen, fireplace and living area in a separate room, plus a deck and private pool give you the option to never leave your cabana! 

A spa, pool, fire pit, on-site organic garden, yoga pavilion and tennis courts offer plenty of activities to keep you busy during your stay. We, however, found it hard to leave the cozy couch in front of the fire (and the staff was happy to frequently re-stock our wood supply). It was so pleasant to hunker down and enjoy our minimalist but comfortable cabana. 

The on-site restaurant Sem Porta uses lots of local ingredients and offers an upscale dining experience. While the restaurant was good, it's very pricey, and we really enjoyed eating a more causal meal in the lobby bar one night.  

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The hotel is not right on the beach, but it can be reached in a quick 10 minute drive. We ventured out several times for meals during the day, and while a lot was shut down for the season, we found a few noteworthy spots. Have I mentioned the amazingly delicious seafood that we encountered at most meals on this trip? Enjoy!  

  • Comporta Cafe - One of our best meals of the trip. We ate on the deck right off the beach, filled up on clams and seafood spaghetti and enjoyed the ocean breeze.
  • Restaurante Dona Bia - A popular restaurant but was unfortunately closed for the season.
  • Eucalyptus - We had a casual meal here - a good place for a simple sandwich and coffee. 

A Birthday Surprise

I'm lucky I married a guy who loves exploring and experiencing new places as much as I do. And he is also one heck of a good planner himself. Bonus points for his undying love of a good surprise. 

To mark my recent milestone birthday, my lovely husband secretly packed an overnight bag (bathing suit, running shoes - the essentials) and loaded it into the car without my knowledge. As we set out to do some Saturday errands we were in fact (and still unbeknownst to me) on our way over the Golden Gate Bridge for a night away!

The Cavallo Point Lodge has been on my radar for awhile. My parents visited a few years back and had a wonderful time. It is also just a quick 10 minute drive from our apartment and we've driven past the exit often. But when we actually turned off the highway I still wasn't sure what was up.

 A room with a view. 

A room with a view. 

However, from the minute we arrived and the valet whisked away our car, I was blown away.

The service was top notch throughout our entire stay. We had one of the eco-friendly, contemporary suites with views of the Golden Gate Bridge just steps from the main restaurant and bar, but we felt completely removed and secluded. Our room, with a large gas fireplace separating the bed and the sitting area, was a perfect place to relax with some wine and watch the fog roll in and out of the city. We didn't get a peek into the historic lodging, though I can report they are completely charming from the outside. I would definitely recommend a stay in the contemporary lodging - especially as most of them have the unbeatable Golden Gate Bridge views!

After arriving and settling into our room, we explored the property a bit, stopping by the pool and the spa to soak in some sunshine (all with a glass of wine in hand, naturally). We didn't take advantage of any spa services but the aptly named Healing Arts Center & Spa definitely has me itching to plan a return visit. 

Before dinner we stopped in to the Farley Bar. This is one of those cozy wooden bars that you could spend hours in cuddled up by the fireplace. We had a reservation at the hotel's Murray Circle restaurant so we didn't stay long. But there are no complaints here. Dinner was a highlight - one of those meals that exceeded our expectations, all the way through to dessert. We indulged in local oysters, kale salad, duck ... and enjoyed it all. 

A lazy breakfast on the patio the next morning was a perfect way to wrap up our quick getaway. Cavallo Point Lodge is one of those fabulous hotels where you can relax and be pampered but also feel close to nature and enjoy breathtaking views no matter where you are on the property.

For us, it was such a treat to get away without actually having to travel. I loved every minute of my birthday surprise. Can't wait to go back!