Tag Archives: hotel recommendations

Top 5 things to do in Istanbul

Legendary Shopping District1. The Grand Bazaar
Four thousand shops, stalls, restaurants – even its own mosque. With goods that are both cheap and extravagant you’ll be sure to bag a bargain. Make sure you head over to Dhoku, whose hand-woven Turkish kilims bear ethno-cool designs conceived by the international architecture group Superpool. The best part is that prices are fixed and there’s no hard sell. A sure relief as throughout Grand Bazaar there is an army of arm-twisting  salesmen. For those looking for a piece of Turkish authentic furniture then head over to the Asmalimescit district for some curvy, organic wood furnishings from Turkey’s hottest interior design group, Autoban. Find out more here

Hotels near The Grand Bazaar:
Ottoman Hotel Park
Rast Hotel
Tan Hotel

Italian restaurant2. Lucca & Babylon
The Lucca, an Italian restaurant and cocktail lounge for people who want to  indulge in the city’s top after-work and pre-party scenes. The cozy interior sets the atmoshphere, plenty of artwork and even a few books, a DJ spins loud house and soul music while the professionals and socialites sip champagne cocktails and pomegranate mojitos. If your looking for a place with excellent music then Babylon is a must. The best live music from Turkey and around the globe, as well as the occasional star DJ, join the cool kids and dance until your hearts content. Find out more

Hotels near the Lucca & Babylon:
Swissotel The Bosphorus Istanbul
Çırağan Palace Kempinski Istanbul
Radisson Sas Bosphorus Hotel

3. Mikla
For a fantastic view of Istanbul’s amazing skyline why not do it in style at the Mikla. This beautiful restaurant thanks to celeb chef Mehmet Gurs serves global-fusion food. Foie gras and porcini terrine, cherrywood-smoked lamb loin with walnut pistou, Turkish coffee, millefeuille and much more await if you can pry your eyes from the view.

Hotels Near the Mikla:
The Marmara Taksim
The Marmara Pera
Pera Rose Hotel

4. Topkapi Palace
The Topkapi oozes history, of course there are other attractions such as the ruins of the Roman Hippodrome, the massively vaulted Hagia Sofia Cathedral, the cobalt-tiled Blue Mosque. But the best stories lurk in the centuries-old walls of Topkapi Palace, where sultans plotted murders and invasions, eunuchs and harem girls cavorted in plush dens and court artists and artisans fashioned some of the most beautifully wrought creations in Islam. Make time to pop round the corner to the Blue Mosque – just avoid prayer time. Find out more

Hotels Near the Topkapi Palace:
Arena Hotel
Gülhanepark Hotel
Hotel Yasmak Sultan

5. Istiklal Caddesi
This 19th century, French influenced area is where Istanbullus eat, shop, drink and have fun. This cosmopolitan area includes cinemas, bars, theatres and restaurants as well as a wide range of shops. On the main drag there are cake shops of appalling sinfulness (Inci Pastanesi, Istiklal Caddesi, No 124), some of the best bookshops in the world (Pandora, Buyukparmakkapi Sokak, 3, and Simurg, Hasnun Galip Sokak). Nevizade Sokak is the place to go to drink beer and rakı. This is best approached through the Fish Market (Balık Pazar), which has its own Armenian church (Uc Horon). Find out more here

Hotels Near the Istiklal Caddesi:
The Marmara Taksim
Misafir Suites Istanbul
Nippon Hotel

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The 5 top things to do in New York this spring

1. Tim Burton at MOMA: Until 26 April
Tim Burton has just cemented his reputation as one of the world’s finest and most influential directors with his recent masterpiece Alice In Wonderland. Following on from classics like The Nightmare Before Christmas, Edward Scissorhands and Beetlejuice, Burton has created another trip into his own distinctive world and his fevered imagination is fully explored in this exhibition at MOMA. From early childhood drawings to never-seen-before moving image works, this is a fascinating insight into Burton’s mind. Throw in concept art, storyboards, puppets, maquettes, costumes and cinematic ephemera from his films and this is a must for any Burton fan. Find out more here

Hotels near MOMA:
Club Quarters Rockefeller Center
Warwick New York
Hilton New York

2. Whitney Biennial: Until 30 May
The Whitney Museum of American Art Biennial hasn’t got a theme this year, just a date: 2010. The exhibition represents a small portion of the world’s contemporary art production, including artists such as David Adamo, Julia Fish, Rashaad Newsome (and about 50 others). The Whitney chose the date to, “give the idea of time as an element of the Biennial and to demonstrate the influence of the past on 2010.” The Whitney is on Madison Avenue at 75th Street.
Find out more here

Hotels near The Whitney:
Hotel Wales
The Franklin Hotel
The Surrey

3. Tribeca Film Festival, 21 April – 2 May
Established in 2002 to revitalise Lower Manhattan after September 11th, the Tribeca Film Festival is now one of the most prominent and recognisable film festivals in the world. With Robert De Niro leading the way, it rarely goes wrong. The 2010 film list includes much-anticipated movies from Michael Winterbottom and Neil Jordan. Find out more here

Hotels in Lower Manhattan:
Duane Street Hotel Tribeca
Thompson LES
Soho Grand Hotel

4. Cirque du Soliel, Banana Shpeel: Until 3 May
Produced by the famous Cirque du Soleil, Banana Shpeel is a new twist on vaudeville, a theatrical mix of comedy and dance currently playing at The Beacon Theatre off Broadway until May. Mixing jokes with tap, hip hop, eccentric dance and slapstick, all linked by a hilarious narrative, it’s a visual treat. Find out more here

Hotels near Broadway:
Hotel 41 at Times Square
AKA Times Square
Millennium Broadway

5. Gossip Girl location tours: Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays
If you’re a fan of hit TV show Gossip Girl then you’ll love this tour of the programme’s top locations around New York. The characters are all glossy NYC socialites who love sex, drugs and intrigue and now you can see their playground. See the hotel where the Van der Woodsens live, the Constance Billard School for Girls where the characters are students and the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum, scene of the Bass / Van der Woodsen wedding. Find out more here

Hotels in the Lower East Side:
Hotel on Rivington
Blue Moon Hotel
The GEM Hotel SoHo

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Compare hotel prices on Booking.com and Expedia

We think that Gekko is the smarter way to find the right hotel for your trip. Gekko already helps you find a hotel you’ll love by giving you personalised hotel recommendations and now we’re giving you the chance to compare hotel prices on two of the largest online travel companies.

On over 20,000 top hotels in our most popular cities, we will now show you the hotel rates on Booking.com and Expedia for the dates that you would like to stay. So you can now find the right hotel and book at the best price on your favourite travel site.

Find a hotel you’ll love on Gekko now.

We are going to be adding more top travel sites in the next few weeks so keep checking the Gekko blog or sign up here to receive Gekko updates.

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Top 10 Hotel Bars in New York City

1. Gansevoort rooftop
Fantastic rooftop bar in Manhattan, just moments from NYC’s main attractions, which is perfect for a sunny summer afternoon but avoid the Meat Packing Bridge and Tunnel crowd at the weekends.
See the Gansevoort rooftop.

2. The Library Hotel
Great bar for evening drinks or afternoon coffee. Take a look at the Library.

3. Gramercy Park
Great downstairs bar and up on the rooftop too. Find out more about the Gramercy Park hotel.

4. Soho Grand
Great for indie muso celeb spotting. Check out the Soho Grand.

5. The Peninsular rooftop
Great views of the city and Central Park from this rooftop bar. Check out the Pen here.

6. The Hudson
Indoors and outdoors – great daytime or evening, gets very busy later. See The Hudson hotel.

7. The Royalton
Really cool hotel bar in Midtown Manhattan between Times Square and the Rockefeller Center. Great cocktails and you can hang out with the wannabe beautiful people – my mate Tony loved the place! Click here for details of the Royalton.

8. The Bowery
A little old skool on the decor but great cocktails. The Bowery hotel.

9. The Mercer
Great for drinks and food, upstairs or down in the basement! See The Mercer.

10. The Rivington
I love the restaurant here and the bar is a lively place to enjoy after dinner. Take a look at The Rivington.

There are three new additions to New York that I have yet to visit –

The Standard New York in the Meat Packing District.
The Andaz on Wall Street.
The Crosby Street Hotel in SoHo.

I’d welcome any comments from people who have been to any of these!

For a Gekko’s other hotspots in NYC, see my New York Address Book.

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The best hotel bars in London

Hotel bars are brilliant for many reasons. The late opening hours, the cosmopolitan crowds and the fact that they retain a feeling of exclusivity even if anyone can walk in for a drink. And if you really can’t get home, you can always try getting a room at the hotel at the end of the night. Here’s Gekko’s top five London hotel bars.

Artesian at The Langham, West End
For a bit of old-school glamour, you can’t beat The Langham. One of London’s finest grand hotels, this Victorian pile has just been refurbished to the tune of £50 million. The chic east-meets-west interiors and pagoda bar make things as urbane as they get this close to Oxford Circus, and with rum the spirit of choice, there’s plenty of classy daiquiris and hurricanes to be enjoyed.
Find out more about The Langham

Bar 190 at The Gore, Knightsbridge
Bar 190 blends opulence with tradition to dramatic effect. It was famously the setting for the Rolling Stones’ Beggars Banquet film, and a certain Medieval bacchanalia remains with mahogany panelling, formal oil paintings and intimate lighting set against a neon-lit bar. At the back of the room, a jewel-studded ‘Cinderella Carriage’ holds a VIP table for six. The tapas menu is also fabulous.
Find out more about The Gore

The Long Bar at The Sanderson, West End
A bar that lives up to its name and, in keeping with the rest of this achingly hip hotel, is a designer’s dream. Full of media types and moneymen of an evening, the DJ pumps out nightly beats whilst the cool crowd lap up the special cocktails. Martinis are the real star here with some inventive combinations. Check out the ‘Sanderson Predicts’ nights to hear the best live new music in the perfect setting.
Find out more about The Sanderson

The Connaught Bar, Mayfair
Ferociously chic and immaculately turned out, the prices might be dizzying but so is the experience. The Cubist-style design fits perfectly with the bespoke martinis from the seriously professional mixologists. Completing the picture are fashionable titbits from stellar chef Hélène Darroze: sashimi of scallops & truffle vinaigrette anyone?
Find out more about The Connaught

Donovan Bar at Brown’s Hotel
An original stained-glass window is now the only survivor of this room’s Balmoral baronial past. It is now a slick noughties lounge named after 1960s photographer Terence Donovan which attracts stylists and fashion editors like barflies to superior Cognac. The bar displays many of Donovan’s best works which pleasingly complements the monochramtic design. The cocktail list is addictive as is the feeling that you are drinking with the in-the-know crowd.
Find out more about Brown’s Hotel

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Gekko’s top Art and Design hotels in Europe

The first ever boutique design hotel I stayed at was in Brighton, maybe 10 years ago. The Pelirocco, self styled Original Rock and Roll Boutique hotel offers uniquely themed rooms, a personalised service and a bar that stays open until you go to bed. Unsprisingly, I’ve been back many times.

This started my search across Europe for similarly inspired hotels where design, art and experience influenced my choice over and above the star rating. Here are a few that I discovered.

The Five Hotel, Paris, France
Describing itself as one of the most innovative hotels in Paris, Five offers a subtle and elegant combination of arts and originality. Step inside and you enter another world. Each room has a unique atmosphere through the choice of design, lighting and even scent. The reception is transformed to an art gallery and short films are played in the elevator. Check the photos for a taste of the Five experience

Another cool option in Paris is the Philippe Starck designed Mama Shelter. A bit more expensive but well worth looking into.

Art Hotel Atelier sur Mare, Castel di Tusa, Italy

This place is an art lovers paradise but completely different to the two options above. Located on the wonderful bay of Castel di Tusa, 20 km from Cefalu, each room has been conceived and designed by an internationally famous, contemporary artist. They even let you change rooms each night to experience something different.

Hotel de Filosoof, Amsterdam, Netherlands

The Philosophy Hotel is well known with inspired rooms reflecting cultural and philospohical themes. The reviews are mixed but this is good value for a unique experience and good location near the Vondelpark, walking distance to the city centre.

Hotel Fox, Copenhagen, Denmark

The Hotel Fox has to be one of my favourites. Twenty one international graphic design artists have transformed the hotel and created an exciting, environmentally conscious, lifestyle hotel. With DJ’s at the weekend, designer treats and roof terrace serving food and drinks, this is one Copenhagen hotspot to check out.

Art Luise Kunsthotel, Berlin, Germany

A short walk from the Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag this place offers an extraordinary experience. Greeted in the lobby by sculpture, each room is again uniquely designed`and the hotel offers a wonderful courtyard for outdoor relaxation.

For more inspiring Art and Design Hotels around the world take a look at the Gekko Art Hotel Hotspots including some luxury hotel options like the Gramercy Park in New York and the Bellagio in Las Vegas. Some fantastic choices!

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What’s hot in London this March

Ron Arad Retrospective at the Barbican Centre, London: Until 16 May
Ron Arad is one of the most influential designers of this generation. Arad moved to London in the early 1970s to study at London’s Architectural Association, and has established a reputation over three decades for challenging, daredevil work. Arad has produced everything from carbon fibre armchairs to polyurethane bottle racks. His beautiful furniture can connect to Bluetooth, send and receive SMS messages from iPhones and other smartphones. The exhibition runs at the Barbican until Sunday, May 16th.
Find out more here.

Click here to see recommended hotels near the Barbican

The Loft by Nuno Mendes: Throughout March
Nuno Mendes, a chef trained at El Bulli, last year invited people into his Dalston flat for a 10-course meal that he called his “personal test kitchen.” Mendes wanted to use it as a testbed for his experimental brand of cooking. He’s invited Swedish chef Ola Rudin, with his molecular cuisine to join him, and it can cater 16 at a time. Definitely worth a visit if you are in London. The cost is £100 per person, and you can find out more at http://www.nunomendes.co.uk/loft.html.

Click to see recommended hotels near Dalston

Dave Matthews at The O2: 6 March
Dave Matthews will continue his European tour on 6 March at the state of the art O2 Arena. Dave Matthews has inspired millions and has continued to deliver superior performances and bring people from all over the world together with his musical abilities. The Dave Matthews Band is one of the greatest American Jam Band’s of all time. This show is going to sell out quickly so be sure to buy your tickets as soon as possible. You don’t want to miss it. Buy tickets here.

Click to see recommended hotels near The O2

Soap at The Riverside Studios: 5 March – 25 April
From the same creator of La Clique, Markus Pabst, Soap finally hits London after a ten month run in Berlin. A mix of circus and cabaret, the show takes place in a bathroom setting where eight peculiar characters perform a mix of dance, burlesque, comedy, gravity-defying moves and precise aerial acrobatics, using a bathtub, showers and water to create mesmerising visual effects. Find out more here

Changing Media Summit: 18 March
The Changing Media Summit returns to London bringing you another packed one-day fix of all things digital media and providing you with access to speakers, content and networking you simply can’t get anywhere else. Confirmed speakers include, Michael Wolff, the founder of Newser.com and author of Rupert Murdoch biography The Man Who Owns the News and Austin Heap, executive director of the Censorship Research Centre and Twitter activist during the Iranian elections. Find out more here

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