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Condé Nast Traveler Hot List - Hotels 2006

Hotels are like husbands—you can kiss a lot of frogs on the way to Prince Charming. Condé Nast Traveler did just that, combing through thousands of new properties—incognito, of course. Playing matchmaker nonpareil, we present the 130 hotels that won us over (plus our hard-won wisdom on their shortcomings). After all, trusted straight talk is the hottest commodity.

PRICE KEY
$ = $199 or less
$$ = $200 to $299
$$$ = $300 to $399
$$$$ = $400 or more

BULGARIA

Kempinski Hotel Grand Arena
Bansko, Bulgaria
$$


Until recently a quiet little village of stone houses and mehanas (low-roofed taverns), Bansko is currently the Continent's hot ski destination, and its first high-end hotel is a 159-room complex of five chalet-style buildings adjacent to the state-of-the-art ski lift. Aside from the usual blond oak and knotty pine typical of European ski resorts, the Grand Arena makes an effort to relate to the historic old town, a ten-minute walk away, with hand-painted paneling in the dining rooms and wooden tiles in the bathrooms. Storage-friendly guest rooms come with separate tubs—essential for soaking sore muscles.

When to go: December through April, for ski season; summer is popular with hikers.

Which room to book: Nos. 145, 147, 149, 155, 157, and 159, mountain-facing doubles in Building One (doubles, $150–$300).





CROATIA

Hilton Imperial Dubrovnik
Dubrovnik, Croatia
$$$


They don't make hotels like this one anymore, but they can renovate them. Built in 1895 just outside the old city walls, the Imperial entertained visiting royalty, plutocrats, and celebrities for nearly a hundred years. Then, following the Serbian shelling of Dubrovnik in 1991, it abruptly became a refugee shelter, remaining so for a decade. Hilton reopened it last May after refinishing and modernizing every square inch, but it's impossible to fake those royal proportions, from the semicircular terraces to the deep balconies—which, while big, don't overwhelm. The service is unobtrusive and magnificent. For instance, since you can't get a same-day edition of a British or French newspaper in Dalmatia, the Imperial will supply guests with a full-size computer printout.

When to go: Late spring and early fall, when the weather is at its best.

Which room to book: Nos. 132 and 134 are blessed with balconies and a view taking in the whole sweep of the old city and the Adriatic Sea beyond (doubles, $250–$380).





Astoria Design Hotel
Opatija, Croatia
$


At the end of the nineteenth century, the pretty resort town of Opatija, with its elegant parks and cafés, drew a titled crowd from all corners of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, but the music stopped with the outbreak of World War I. Now Opatija is staging a comeback, evidenced by the influx of stylish young European visitors. They're flocking to the Astoria Design Hotel, a Belle Epoque beauty that's been shrewdly renovated to offer good-looking comfort for reasonable prices. All 51 rooms are spacious and are kitted out in quiet colors and contemporary furniture. Many have small balconies, and all include flat-screen TVs. The slick lobby bar is popular with locals, and the restaurant has an excellent catch-of-the-day menu.

When to go: The uncrowded months of May, June, September, and October are warm enough for swimming in the sea out front.

Which room to book: Since the rates are so low, splurge on a suite with a private balcony (doubles, $121–$145).






CZECH REPUBLIC

Maximilian Hotel
Prague, Czech Republic
$


With a superb location five minutes from Old Town Square, the renovated 71-room Maximilian is all about smart design. Czech-born architect Eva Jiricna has created attractive and useful communal spaces—a library, an honor bar, a small business center, and a glass-roofed breakfast room—that stir trendy travelers out of their chambers. The rooms are pretty swell, though, with high ceilings, neo-Cubist furniture, and great lighting—both recessed and on adjustable headboard stalks for reading in bed. For a real escape, there's the Floating Center—a room with a huge tub for relaxing in total silence. If you want something a bit less extreme, various Thai massages are on offer.

When to go: Winter (the rest of the year, there are simply too many tourists).

Which room to book: Low-floor doubles such as Nos. 104, 106, and 108 are not only quiet but convenient for popping into the business center or the bar (doubles, $160–$240).





RUSSIA

Kempinski Hotel Moika 22
St. Petersburg, Russia
$$


The 197-room Kempinski occupies the best spot on a picturesque canal, overlooking the Winter Palace and its sprawling Palace Square. The elegant 1853 facade is intact—guests still enter through an old carriageway—and interiors gleam with old-world opulence, from the intricately patterned marble floor in the central atrium to the gilt mantle clocks, portraits of monarchs, and carved period furniture. Evoking the city's port history, curtains and carpets sport nautical symbols, and the glass-covered rooftop Belle Vue Brasserie, one of the hotel's two French restaurants, resembles the lounge on an ocean liner. Diners there have a perfect vantage point for viewing St. Petersburg's best-known landmarks, including the spires of the Peter and Paul Fortress and the Admiralty, and the gold dome of St. Isaac's Cathedral.

When to go: June and July, for the impossibly long daylight of the White Nights; January, for the dazzling snow of a real Russian winter.

Which room to book: One of the five Moika River Executive Suites, which have views of the Hermitage and the Moika River (doubles, $213–$369).




Condé Nast Traveler Hot List - Tables 2006

Leaving home opens up a world of ever-evolving culinary experiences. Here then, our definitive list of the year's 82 best new places to eat—from Australia to Vietnam and with entrées from $3 to $98.

Pivnica HS
Sarajevo, Bosnia


Mirroring Sarajevo's transformation from war-torn to up-and-coming, Pivnica HS, a chic restaurant opulent enough for a visit from Franz Josef, has risen in the ruins of an abandoned warehouse. Though entirely new, this spacious and cool bi-level restaurant and brewpub has all the trappings of past grandeur: Art Deco brass filigree, faux-faded decorative prints, a baby grand, and a crew of efficient waiters sharply decked out in crisp pink-on-black uniforms. When heads of state come to town, they sample local specialties, tuck into veal medallions and massive chateaubriands, and finish with tart and tangy flambéed bananas. Forget the wine list—this is a beer hall, after all, and house microbrews such as the light, nonfiltered draft are fresh, flavorful, and perfectly thirst-quenching (entrées, $6–$24).

Address: 15 Franjevacka, Sarajevo
Tel: 387 33 239 740

Aromi
Prague, Czech Republic


Locals in the Czech capital have a closely guarded secret: While most tourists swarm the restaurants around Prague Castle and Old Town Square, some of the best eating in the city takes place in the posh neighborhood of Vinohrady, former home of the royal vineyard. The best new restaurant in this tree-lined quarter is Aromi, a bustling trattoria where chef Riccardo Lucque prepares the cuisine of his home region, Marche, in a refurbished nineteenth-century salon. Pasta highlights include pappardelle with fresh porcini mushrooms, gnocchi with tangy veal ragout, and ravioli with black-truffle fondue. Among main courses, the osso buco with roasted garlic and saffron risotto is sublimely tender. For dessert, the house-made orange-scented tiramisu is reason enough to cross town. Lucque offers a selection of excellent wines from Tuscany and other great regions, although his true love is evident in the collection of rare grappa bottles (entrées, $8–$18).

Address: 78 Manesova, Prague
Tel: 420 222 713 222

Le Monde
Bratislava, Slovakia


The Slovak capital has long played Cinderella to spotlight-stealing Prague. But Bratislava's fairy godfather just might be Norwegian restaurateur Nils Jebens, who follows up his handful of high-end Czech destinations with just one address here: Le Monde, which even Praguers concede may be his best. Although the restaurant provides plenty of top-shelf people-watching, window seats are essential—with their views of the Hapsburg-era Hviezdoslavovo Square, the National Theater, and the stately Carlton Hotel. The innovative Continental menu includes pan-seared foie gras with a clove-scented apple mille-feuille, squid-ink risotto with grilled octopus, venison over grilled figs, and rack of lamb topped with a sweet-and-savory mix of fried chorizo and giant golden raisins. Unless you're one of Bratislava's Monaco-based supermodels back in town for the weekend, save room for dessert: The dark-, milk-, and white-chocolate terrine emboldened with whiskey is terrific, the strawberry cappuccino luscious (entrées, $13–$28).

Address: 8 Rybárska Brána Bratislava
Tel: 421 254 415 411

Condé Nast Traveler Hot List - Spas 2006

Spas are today's lifestyle essential, as varied in their approach to pampering and wellness as they are ubiquitous. We donned robes in the world's newest, from intimate day-spas to sprawling resort facilities, to bring you the year's 55 best…and the inside scoop on their most coveted treatments.

Kerubina Spa & Wellness
Göd, Hungary


Budapest's first five-star spa resort, 15 miles from the capital at the Pólus Palace Thermal Golf Club Hotel, has plenty of natural appeal: The inviting indoor-outdoor thermal pool is drawn from local hot springs and cooled to a soothing 90 degrees. Highlights include the mosaic-decorated area that makes up the Finnish and infrared saunas, and the steam room centered on an icy plunge pool. As you move from this watery oasis to the three treatment rooms, don't let the incongruous sounds of the simulated golf driving range nearby disturb your calm. While not all of the therapists speak English, they get their point across with sublime treatments. The 90-minute Prestige Body Relax session ($87) is a mix of mud wraps and full-body massage (massages, $29–$60).

Tel: 36 27 530 500
Amenities: Resort spa, Water feature

Concierge.com - Condé Nast Traveler
 

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I subscribe to Conde Nast Traveler and I was wondering how to do post this information on the forum. Thanks for doing this.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
new bulgaria said:
I subscribe to Conde Nast Traveler and I was wondering how to do post this information on the forum. Thanks for doing this.
I subscribe to Conde Nast Traveler too! ;)
I wanted to post this stuff ever since I got my issue and saw the EE countries. But I just got an email from them today, and they posted the list on their website, so I decided to put it all together here.
 

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I like to rate companies by their buildings, and I hate Conde Nast and their Nasty tower.
Interesting list though. Did you post only about EE hotels, restaurants and spas?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
3tmk said:
I like to rate companies by their buildings, and I hate Conde Nast and their Nasty tower.
Interesting list though. Did you post only about EE hotels, restaurants and spas?
Conde Nast Traveler is the best travel publication in my opinion. Has nothing to do with the building.

And yes, if you notice, the title says "Eastern Europe". :)
 

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Hilton Imperial Dubrovnik...thats where I stayed last summer:eek:kay:
Okay hotel, but not as I hoped it would be. Still new, so I guess they have some things to work out.
 

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yeah, but I wondered how they would rate with the rest of Europe.
Still, their picks looks pretty nice, although I have no idea if there's better or worse.
 

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These don't look very comfortable

:laugh:
 
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