Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘Hotel’

Honeymoon and Hotels: Il Gatto Bianco

I told you previously that the views of Capri, particularly from our room at the Hotel Gatto Bianco, had all proved a little overwhelming. That is why, when I ventured out onto our balcony for the first time, and being quite unable to decide which view to capture, I turned one way and made a sketch, and 180 degrees to the other to create this painting. Created using my favourite holiday medium of gouache on paper, this view becomes the latest addition to my collection of Honeymoon and Hotels gouaches.

Capturing both the dense mass of houses and rooftops, alongside the ravishing view of Capri’s most famous Faraglioni rocks, this painting is for me as typical a depiction of Capri as one could get. For it is filled with joy, colour and flowers – the same flowers which fell, cascaded, covered and sprung up all over this island of holiday happiness, a land so entrenched in hedonism and chic that even the most perfumed manifestations of nature’s best blooms race to find a home there.

Gatto Bianco FINAL

Flowers and Faraglioni: View from the Hotel Gatto Bianco (© 2019 Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, gouache on paper)

However perhaps my favourite feature of this painting is also my favourite element of the room itself –  those multicoloured, hand-painted majolica floor tiles which characterised the rooms of the Hotel Gatto Bianco, and which are present throughout the Amalfi Coast. It’s so refreshing to enjoy such tiles which, although devoid of imperfections, are evidentially hand-painted, and all the more beautiful because of it. I can genuinely share the pain of their creator –  this small representation of the type caused me no end of back pain, such was the meticulous detail required. I can only imagine how laborious the work must be when multiplied across 100s and 1000s of tiles. Yet the result is an interior utterly imbued with the spirit of the Mediterranean, and of the stunning island of Capri.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2019. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Sicily Inspires: Baroque Suite at the Palazzo Trigona

I cannot agree with those who say it is unimportant where you stay on holiday. “It’s only where you sleep” they proclaim, while bedding down into a threadbare hostel with more cockroaches than fellow guests. For me, the accommodation acts as a kind of spinal cord of a holiday from which all other experiences branch off; it is the place where the real rest takes place, those moments of marvellous contemplation, and where you can truly feel at home in a strange city. So for me where you stay on holiday is very important, all the more so because these places so often inspire me to paint.

Having started making gouache illustrations of hotels and hotel rooms back on my 2015 honeymoon, I have carried on the tradition in places such as Granada, Rome and Marrakech. And Noto in southern Italy was never going to be an exception, especially when we saw the splendour of the suite in which we found ourselves at the Palazzo Trigona Suites, just next to Noto’s iconic cathedral.

Noto is a city awash with baroque detail and architectural grandeur, and so it felt appropriate that we would be housed in a room which exhibited wonderful high ceilings, a stately black and white chequerboard floor, and all number of design flourishes befitting the period. Such was the grandiosity of the room that we took to playing baroque classical music whenever we were in situ, and against that erudite background I sat down to create this gouache painting.

Noto Suite FINAL

Baroque Suite at the Palazzo Trigona (gouache on paper, ©2017, Nicholas de Lacy-Brown)

Featuring the understated tones of grey and gold which made up the room’s design, as well as that wonderful floor and accompanying furniture, the highlight of the painting is the room’s view, looking onto the Chiesa Madre di San Nicolò Cathedral, the side profile of which dominates the piece. It’s a work which feels very different from my illustrations which have gone before it, which seems about right. After all, there’s no place quite so magnificently, baroquely, like Noto.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. For more information on the artwork of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, visit http://www.delacybrown.com 

Our Alhambra Terrace

People take inspiration from holidays in various ways, weather through collating a set of ravishing photos, collecting foodie ideas, or even rounding up the tackiest and most whimsical souvenir. For me, it’s all about art.  There is no better way, in my mind, to look back on a holiday than through the art I great during that time. Because more than just taking a photo, the process of creating a painting or sketch involves time and contemplation, and therefore has the power to instil the final product with the great value of a comprehensive collection of memories and sensations. That is why I always do my best to get a hotel room with a view, in the knowledge that that alone will provide me with much of the inspiration I will need in the place I will feel most comfortable creating.

On our trip to Granada, we stayed in the Hotel Casa 1800, a stunningly quaint property characteristic of the rickety old houses and palazzos crammed into the ancient Albayzín district alongside the banks of the Darro River. Incredibly located just off the Plaza Santa Ana, the hotel boasted an unrivalled view of the Alhambra, but not in every room. In fact very few benefited from the crème de la crème of Granada views, but with ours, we were given the opportunity not just to enjoy the view through a window, but from our very own little terrace.

Alhambra Terrace FINAL

Alhambra Terrace (Hotel Casa 1800 Granada) 2016 ©Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, gouache on paper

As soon as we saw it, we knew it would be hard to tear ourselves away from the hotel. Such a cosy space and an unbeatable view could not easily be rivalled by a public space after all. With a moment’s glance, I knew the painting I would create that would best befit our experience of this space. And here it is. Making clear reference to the Honeymoon Suite collection created one year ago, this gouache painting continues the trend of painting the view from the hotel rooms enjoyed on our various travels. However with its Alhambra view, painted in a creamy orange with deep green shadows, this is one hotel room it will be hard to beat, no matter how much my future painting needs might demand it.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. For more information on the work of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, head to his art website at www.delacybrown.com

Mallorca Sketchbook: Garden at the Son Viscos

Readers of my post yesterday will not be surprised that my short stay at the Son Viscos bed and breakfast in Valldemossa provided sufficient inspiration for the creation of a little souvenir artwork. For in that hour or so we spent in the fresh, sun-dappled leafy garden alongside the beautiful light-infused farmhouse kitchen, clutching a glass of chilled white wine in one hand and a book in the other, we felt utterly tranquil. It was as though time had stood still, and there was certainly enough to make this little sketch of the kitchen door, framed by creeping plants, with a rustic set of steps leading up to it from the verdant garden below. Precious memories, now enshrined in this page of my sketchbook.

Garden at the Son VIscos (2015, © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen on paper)

Garden at the Son VIscos (2015, © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen on paper)

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Mallorca’s ultimate eden: The Son Viscos Bed & Breakfast

Many may smirk when the inhabitants of paradise complain, but even we locals of Mallorca know when enough is enough. And having lived now for almost two months of temperatures in excess of 35 degrees, every so often, one just has to get away from it all. Nothing extreme mind you – I’m not talking the 20 degrees drop which a visit to London may entail, but rather a drive up into the stunning Tramuntana mountains where, at night at least, the air is notably fresher than city life in Palma and sumptuously comfortable. And as this very hot weather happened to coincide with my 32nd birthday (yesterday!) it seemed like the perfect excuse to treat ourselves a little, and book a little night away in a cooler, lusher paradise.

The location we chose could not have been more perfect. Located in the footfalls of the Tramuntana in the valley which gives the magical town of Valldemossa its name, the Son Viscos Bed and Breakfast was like a home from home, but we’re talking the kind of home which only the most avid readers of interior design magazines could wish for.

Interiors of the Son Viscos

DSC00407 DSC00374 DSC00413 DSC00507 DSC00369 DSC00510 DSC00424 DSC00372 DSC00373 DSC00381 DSC00367

Owned by the proprietors of the popular interior design store, Mosaic, located in cool Santa Catalina in Palma, the Son Viscos hotel is a euphoria of design harmony, with understated muted tones and natural woods offsetting perfectly amongst carefully chosen rustic antiques and ceramic items. The west-facing kitchen, which was flooded with light in the afternoon, and filled with a bounteous feast of the freshest breakfast produce in the morning, was the beating heart of a guesthouse which maintained all of the characteristics of the most welcoming of family homes.

The Son Viscos garden

DSC00389 DSC00533 DSC00398 DSC00396 DSC00388 DSC00485 DSC00382 DSC00434

Our room, the Menta suite, offered the very best of comfort with a lavish but pared down minimalist wooden four poster bed, together with haphazardly placed original art, design arm chairs and super soft towels. Flooded with light from an ample terrace, the room boasted enviable views of the Valldemossa monastery, and benefited from all of the freshness of the lush mountains opposite.

And it was precisely that fresh air which so loving nurtured us as we settled down for our night at the Son Viscos, finally able to escape the suffocating heat which had tampered with our dreams for months. Waking enlivened and refreshed, we had yet more pleasures to discover, for opposite the Son Viscos, the hotel’s extensive grounds extended to sun dappled woods hugging the side of the valley, and included fresh water streams, ancient moorish mills and even a dainty stone bridge which had more than survived the tests of time.

The Son Viscos’ sumptuous grounds

DSC00618 DSC00535 DSC00588 DSC00566 DSC00486DSC00549 DSC00521 DSC00532 DSC00550 DSC00586 DSC00580 DSC00579 DSC00525 DSC00612 DSC00600

The Son Viscos hotel was frankly an experience in a million, for its meticulously conceived design, its perfectly bucolic location, and for the sheer welcoming comfort it offered. As I sit here now, back in hot Palma, recounting my time there I long to return. Something tells me it won’t be long.

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2015 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

The Honeymoon Chronicles, Part I: La Colombe d’Or

To say that my wedding and the honeymoon which followed was a whirlwind of emotions would be no exaggeration. Within minutes of cutting our sensational ombre wedding cake in Chelsea, we were whisked off in the old fashioned style, straight to our honeymoon, leaving our guests behind, and sadly no tied up cans trailing our vehicle. Our destination was the French Riviera, and with only further wedding cake to keep post-wedding hangovers at bay, we tried to prepare ourselves mentally for this further change in circumstances as we were whisked through the night to the South of France.

DSC07374

Our arrival in the tiny village of Saint-Paul de Vence near Nice could not have been more different from the city we had departed. Utterly at peace, with a distinctive fragrance of pines and cypresses freshening the air. As darkness had already descended, the village was permeated by little yellow street lamps, subtly illuminating the central plaza where pétanque balls lay in wait for the following day’s play. And amidst the darkness, one sign glowed more than any other: Lighting a golden dove on a blue and yellow sky, it was the sign of La Colombe d’Or – we had arrived.

Our bedroom at La Colombe d’Or

DSC06256 DSC07040 DSC06332 DSC06238 DSC06226 DSC06247 DSC06237 DSC06234

La Colombe d’Or (the golden dove) is a legendary destination in the South of France. First opened in the 1920s by Paul and Baptistine Roux, it began life as a quaint little inn nestled against the magnificent ancient ramparts of the village of Saint-Paul de Vence. Its stunning garden terrace abundant in shady fig trees together with its cosy restaurant interior soon began to attract a faithful clientele, and as the French Riviera became progressively more a centre for thinkers and artists, so too did La Colombe become a gathering place for the crème of the artistic set.

Around the pool and in the gardens

DSC06269 DSC07105 DSC06401 DSC06402 DSC07111 DSC06407 DSC06272 DSC07050 DSC06276 DSC06371 DSC06390 DSC06697 DSC06369 DSC06376

As the years went on, and the Roux family continued to welcome and befriend some of the world’s most famous artists and intellectuals, so too did La Colombe’s remarkable collection of modern art grow, much of which was swapped in exchange for accommodation and their famously delicious Provençal cuisine. So La Colombe d’Or grew, both physically (gradually subsuming neighbouring buildings) and reputationally, and its art collection today stands as one of the most staggering private collections of modern art you could ever hope to see. On its walls, original works by Picasso, Braque, Sonia Delaunay, Calder, Miro, Chagall, Cesar and so many others hang; its leafy terrace is dominated by a stunning ceramic mural by Fernand Leger; and its most stunning swimming pool languishes alongside a remarkable Calder Mobile, a mosaic by Braque, and a recently installed ceramic mural by Sean Scully.

Interiors, and La Colombe’s incredible collection of modern art

DSC06427 DSC07346 DSC07373 DSC07355 DSC06434 DSC07352 DSC06435 DSC07344 DSC07347

For any enthusiast of 20th century art, or indeed for anyone beloved of the utmost aesthetic tranquility, La Colombe d’Or is a paradise on earth, beyond mere description – it has to be experienced. In the unpretentious little chairs which are clustered on its restaurant terrace, one can see the ghosts of the famous writers and artists who used to sit there in the shadows of the fig trees Jacques Prévert, Yves Montand, James Baldwin, Pablo Picasso… In the unapologetically rustic walls and furniture, you feel as though invited into the warmest of family homes. And in its paradisal gardens, fringed by pillars and scattered with fallen blossom, and alongside that most sensational of swimming pools, you feel as though you have entered some kind of parallel world. Utterly at peace. This was paradise found.

La Colombe’s stunningly cosy restaurant terrace

DSC06333 DSC07367 DSC06410 DSC06421 DSC06352 DSC06349 DSC06354 DSC06350 DSC07370 DSC06412 DSC06335 DSC07360

And so in La Colombe d’Or, we happily stationed ourselves for the first four days of our honeymoon. And so the rush of emotions which had commenced at our wedding continued. It was to be the most sensational few days imaginable.

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2015 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Prague (Part 3): Buddha-Bar Chic and delectable places to eat

When a city trip is turning into something of a damp squib and you’ve realised you should have brought a winter coat despite its being late summer, sometimes all you need is a little luxury to make things right again. When the squares and museums are packed to the rafters with no-budge tourists and the cafes are full of larger-lout British stag parties, it’s the escape to the finer side of things that will put a smile back on your face. And so it was, when my partner and I ventured recently to Prague in the Czech Republic, that ever optimistic of having a happy holiday experience, we were able to turn round the somewhat disappointing experience of an ever so cold, damp weekend in tourist-packed Prague into two nights of luxurious hedonism, thanks to the hotel where we were staying, and some of the great restaurants we were lucky enough to find during the trip.

Our hotel of choice was the 5 star Buddha Bar hotel situated a few minutes from the centre of Prague’s Old Town. Being what it suggests on the tin – a concept hotel with a strongly oriental-influenced twist – it was an unusual choice for us. We love chic little boutique hotels, but I would usually go for something that at least resembled the local culture. But Buddha Bar are a long established brand that stands for the quintessence of cool: of dark chic surroundings, of sumptuous self-indulgent luxuries, all pulled together by the classic asian-inspired lounge-bar melodies of the famous Buddha bar soundtrack. Consequently when I discovered that there was a hotel of the brand so well situated in Prague, and probably half the price what a 5 star would cost in capital cities elsewhere, I was seduced and decided to take the plunge into the orient. And I’m so glad we did.

Our room at the Buddha Bar Hotel

DSC06289 DSC06299 DSC07342 DSC06284 DSC06287 DSC06297 DSC06309 DSC06281 DSC06308 DSC06270 DSC06271 DSC06306 DSC06268 DSC07332 DSC06280

In our luxuriously pampered room, every detail had been taken care of. On the wall, a Bang & Olufsen TV pumped out a selection of Buddha Bar groves through expertly mastered surround sound speakers extending to all parts of our room. In our extensive bathroom, a free standing bath benefitted from its own dedicated TV, floor to ceiling windows overlooking Prague, and remote controlled electric blinds should you prefer a little privacy from amongst your bubbles; while the his and hers sinks were accompanied by a panoply of l’Occitane branded bath products. In the bedroom, an indulgently soft bed was plied high with luxurious throws and cushions, while beside it, a seating area already came fully stocked with gifts of chocolate and a complementary cocktail each – the perfect antidote to the tourist scrum outside. Meanwhile, across the room, on the surfaces and alongside notes and information booklets, little fresh orchids had been delicately placed – the height in attention to detail, which followed through to the whole hotel experience.

For beyond our room, the hotel of course enjoyed its own Buddha Bar restaurant, a large cavernous place camped up with a huge oversized golden Buddha around which densely candlelit tables glittered in an otherwise dark and seductive atmosphere. We enjoyed an abundance of creative sushi whose innovative flavour combinations buzzed and zinged in a way that the bog standard California role could never hope to replicate. Meanwhile upstairs, a daily breakfast combining buffet treats and a choice of hot dishes always came accompanied with a glass of chilled prosecco. Now that’s my kind of breakfast.

The Buddha Bar restaurant – images courtesy of www.buddhabarhotelprague.com

buddha-bar-restaurant-gal-11-1300x867 buddha-bar-restaurant-gal-06-1300x867

But of course we had to leave the hotel sometimes, and when sightseeing got too much, we managed to find two equally exquisite restaurants in which to enjoy the classier side of life. The first, a discovery quite by accident, was Zdenek’s Oyster Bar, an exceptionally chic little place, filled with brass fittings and lamps made from champagne bottles, that more closely resembled an upmarket Parisian bistro than a traditional Czech eatery. Being as Prague is very much inland, we were at first sceptical of a seafood restaurant in the heart of the city, but our doubts were put to rest by a main of succulent grilled prawns in a creamy sweet peppery rich sauce, with buttery toasted brioche served to be dipped into the tasty liquor. Never have I lavished so enthusiastically over a dish of prawns. I was completely won over on the one dish alone, let alone the other details which made the meal so special – an oyster shell filled with creamy salted butter; delicious crisp local white wine, and steaming muscles each ripe and juicy and a joy to eat.

Zdenek’s Oyster Bar

DSC06341 DSC06347 DSC06343 DSC06350 DSC06344 DSC06349

The second of our restaurant successes was likewise a departure from the Czech theme – this time George Prime Steak, which was less traditional steak house than a high class boudoir decked out with highly polished chrome and black lacquer interiors all made to sparkle with modern chandeliers and low lighting. The only real nod to America was the extensive Californian wine list, one of which we enjoyed to the full, despite the waiters leaving the bottle on a far away table and then neglecting to refill our often empty glasses. But they can be forgiven – for the real star of the show was the steak. We opted for fillet which, they told us, was fried in temperatures so hot that it immediately caramelised the outside into a rich sweet crust – a delectable exterior encasing soft tender flesh. It was almost certainly one of the best steaks I have ever eaten.

My only drunken picture of George Prime Steak’s opulent interior…

DSC07316

But we were in the Czech republic after all, and my final nod of this post has to go to what must be my favourite aspect of Prague gastronomy – the multi layered Czech honey cake “Medovnik”. Without looking at a recipe, I can only guess that this cake comprised thin layers of honeyed sponge interlaid with a honey and gently spiced gingery, cinnamon cream. Oh it was truly to die for, hence why I must have eaten around 5 slices before the trip was out. Now that really was worth fighting the tourist scrum for.

and that honey cake to die for

medovnik

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2014 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.