Exeter Edition II – News & Travel Wisdom
Central & Eastern Europe
New Luxury Boutique Hotel Opening in Krakow
We are very excited that the Bachleda Luxury Hotel MGallery by Sofitel opens in Krakow’s Old Town on March 1st. A boutique hotel with just 64 rooms, the location could not be better, just a few steps from Wawel Castle. Rooms are luxurious and some on the 3rd and 4th floors have views of the castle. Lori and Michelle have already had the opportunity to see the hotel prior to opening, so give them a call if you are considering a visit to Poland this year!
Gwen’s Top Tip – Visit Gdansk
Our General Manager and Poland expert Gwen says: “For years I was guilty of brushing off Gdansk as an essential visit in Poland. I always thought it was a minor stop, crowded in summer, and not so important for anyone’s limited vacation time. Last year, I spent some time in Gdansk and that definitely changed my mind. It’s one of the best value cities you can visit in Poland but also one with a deep history that is evident in two fantastic newer museums. Maybe, like me, you remember seeing images of the solidarity movement from the nightly news. Going through the Solidarity Center was a fantastic look back at this time. Many people also don’t realize that World War II began in Gdansk and the World War II Museum that opened in 2017 is one of the most comprehensive museums I have been to and even has displays for kids. This great look at contemporary history coupled with the value that Gdansk provides makes it the essential stop on a Poland itinerary. This year a brand new Radisson Hotel & Suites will open with fantastic views of the Old Town and river. Skip the busy festival months of July and August and you have one of the best values in Europe that delivers in quality, history & more!”
Europe’s Most Interesting Museum Project
This fall will see the gradual opening of the Humboldt Forum, Europe’s most important museum project that has been under construction since 2015. Housed in the completely reconstructed Berlin City Palace once home to Prussian Kings and German Emperors, on Berlin’s Museum Island, this is certainly an ambitious and expensive project with the final cost being estimated at $700M. The Forum will bring the Asian Art and Ethnological Museums together under one roof, along with exhibitions by the Berlin City Museum and Humboldt University. Lecture halls, cinemas and restaurants will combine to make this one of Berlin’s must-see attractions.
Van Gogh in Amsterdam
The Van Gogh and the Sunflowers exhibition runs from June 21 to September 1, 2019 at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. Without a doubt, this is sure to be one of Amsterdam’s most in demand exhibitions and will include 25 other works from the museum’s sunflower collection!
Michelin Rated Restaurants in Dubrovnik
In 2017, the Michelin Guide awarded their first star to a restaurant in Dubrovnik. Reviewing Restaurant 360 they said ‘A striking restaurant built into the historic town walls sit on the curved battlement terrace for an impressive view of the old port. The sexy cocktail bar and lounge has intimate booths and the modern open kitchen features a decorative tank teeming with fish. Classic dishes are presented in a modern style.‘ We like to think we are ahead of the curve as we have been recommending this stunning restaurant as a favorite Dubrovnik spot for many, many years! This year there are a total of 12 Dubrovnik restaurants rated by Michelin, but 360 remains the only one with a star.
Historic Heritage Hotel Set to Re-Open in Hvar
Hvar is one of our favorite places on the Dalmatian coast. The very first luxury boutique hotel will open this year on the island. The Palace Elisabeth is located right in the heart of Hvar town overlooking the main square. The beautiful building dates back to the 13th century. It was rebuilt in 1899 and named the Spa Hotel Empress Elisabeth, after the famous Austrian Empress Sissi. The hotel will have 45 rooms and suites, a spa and two outdoor terraces overlooking the central square of Hvar.
Stay in the heart of a UNESCO World Heritage Zone
The Marriott Mostar located right next to Stari Most will be opening this summer. This will be the first world-class hotel in Mostar and an excellent option for guests that want to enjoy a more in-depth stay in this historic town.
Museum of Contemporary Art, Belgrade
Closed for a decade for renovation Belgrade’s Museum of Contemporary Art is worth a visit for its striking modernist architecture alone. The permanent collection contains the world’s largest collection of Yugoslav art, featuring work by Petar Dobrović and Milan Konjović.
St. Petersburg is more popular than ever, both for private shore excursions and for privately planned itineraries through the country. We are constantly looking for new experiences for our travelers.
Enamel Painting Workshop
For anyone that enjoys a hands-on creative experience, we highly recommend an enamel painting master-class. The classes are held at one of Russia’s most renowned jewelers and restoration experts. The company is 107 years old and continues the tradition of Carl Faberge. Their artisans worked on the interior of the Church of Spilled Blood, and they created the Red Stars that graced the Kremlin Towers during the Soviet period. Enjoy the tour of their workshops followed by the artists master-class.
Ride a Vintage Soviet Volga
Car aficionados and anyone that appreciates a vintage touch will enjoy a driving tour of St. Petersburg in a Soviet era car. All the cars are owned by their drivers and have been lovingly restored. Let your guide take you on a city tour past the main sights for the best photo opportunities!
Visit a Soviet Era Apartment in St. Petersburg
Go back to the 20th Century in St. Petersburg and visit an extraordinary early Soviet apartment, now owned by one of the leading antique dealers of the city. The home is actually a recreation of what the original apartments in this historic building looked like before they were converted into Soviet communal apartments. This apartment building was built just before the Russian Revolution as one of the most advanced and luxurious apartment complexes of Russia, used to house the most senior officials in the USSR. Sergey, the owner, will greet you and give you a personal tour of the antique-filled rooms, set with authentic artifacts of the 19th and 20th centuries. Should you be interested, nearly everything in the apartment is actually for sale.
Moscow’s Latest World-Class Restaurant
Radisson Collection opens in Georgia
Our Georgia team saw the Radisson Collection Tsinandali under construction last fall, and it is now open! An excellent option for a stay in the heart of the wine country, Kakheti. The Caucasus mountains provide a stunning natural backdrop. Our favorite rooms and suites are the ones with terraces. The hotel also features three restaurants with international, French and Georgian cuisine.
Boutique Opening in Baku
The Dinamo Hotel in Baku was opened by the President of Azerbaijan in July last year. With just 28 extremely spacious rooms ranging from 430 square feet to over 1,000 square feet, this is the ideal option for guests that prefer a more intimate hotel experience.
Luxury Accommodations Yerevan
The Alexander is now the best luxury hotel in the Armenian capital. We love the Superior and deluxe rooms with balcony and the stand out Atelier 1797 Penthouse Bar & Grill located on the top floor of the hotel for breakfast with a view of the city!
Deep Sea Eating
The most extraordinary restaurant opening of 2019 (and possibly this decade) will be in Norway this March. Simply named Under this completely unique project combines nature, gastronomy and architecture for an experience that will stay with you forever. The 3,000 square foot restaurant is an architectural masterpiece 18 feet under the sea. Open in the evening only, the dining experience takes up to four hours to savor. The immersion tasting menu is approximately $450.00 per person with wine pairing. We are sure that this will become a destination restaurant very quickly!
Oslo’s Newest Hotel
March 15th is the opening date of Oslo’s much anticipated Amerikalinjen, a boutique hotel in the former Norwegian American Line Building and sister hotel to the Thief. As with many hotels in the region, the rooms are on the small side. We love the Deluxe Loft rooms with Balcony that at 380 square feet are the most spacious.
Recognition for our Expert!
We are very pleased that our Regional Director – Leigh Landis – has been recognized by Wendy Perrin as a Trusted Travel Expert for Scandinavia.
Navigating logistics in Scandinavia can be confusing and frustrating. Leigh works with each traveler to give the best possible individual travel advice and save significant time in research. Outside the main capitals, some of the best places to stay are small independent hotels that are not easily found. Whether creating a city program in Stockholm, Copenhagen, Helsinki or Oslo, or a more extensive self-drive program in Norway or a multi – country trip, each itinerary is completely customized to your specific requirements. One of the most popular and unique services that Leigh provides is a tailored White-Glove Self-Drive. We even pre-program the GPS before you go! This also includes the complete support of our on the ground local teams. This is the best way to get the most value from travel in Scandinavia, which is one of the most expensive regions in Europe. You can enjoy a blend of independent travel with privately guided tours with the benefit of Leigh’s local knowledge. See Leigh’s reviews here.