Sunday, June 22, 2014

Capannelle Winery - Gaiole in Chianti

Our second vineyard was the “Capannelle” a very young winery was bought in 1974 from Raffaele Rosetti who actually didn’t want to produce wine. After a few years of producing excellent wine, the original owner sold this wonderful property to Mr. James Sherwood, the owner of the Orient Express Hotels, know called Belmond Collection. Mr. Sherwood expanded the winery and added a stunning wine cellar with a unique wine safe. After a small tour through the cellars Giulia prepared a winetasting with four different wines (one Rosé wine, one refreshing Chardonnay, one typical Chianti Classico and one Solare 2006). During this tasting we were treated with some Tuscany specialties.
Make sure that you also purchase the renowned 50&50 which is produced in cooperation with the vineyard “Avignonesi” near Montepulciano.

We wooul like to thank the Capannelle winery for the nice tour and the unforgettable wine tasting! We were completely invited by Capannelle. Our above written review is our personal opinion and hasn't been influenced.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Castello di Brolio - Barone Ricasoli

The best start for a picture perfect day in the most wonderful area of the Chianti - was the “Castello Brolio - Barone Ricasoli”, the oldest winery of whole Italy. It is a beautiful castle between Florence and Siena and was in the past a very important place for Florence. They could spy out their enemy Siena because it was the last castle belonged to the city Florence.Barone Bettino Ricasoli, who lived around the 19th century, was the founder of the well-known Chianti Classico (80% Sangiovese, 15% merlot and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon). They are one of the biggest wine exports with 3 million bottles, of which 80% are going to the United States.

We would like to thank the Barone Ricasoli winery tor the invitation to join the interesting Classic Tour for free. 

Friday, June 20, 2014

Fèlsina Winery - Castelnuovo Berardenga

The last point of our trip was the “Fèlsina” winery. In 1966 Dominic poggiali Fèlsina bought the estate. After driving through the wonderful alley we reached the court of the Fèlsina winery. We got a very interesting private tour from Irene. She showed us around the old cellars and told us their new project: vino Spumante. After the tour we had a wine tasting in the beautiful garden in the middle of olive trees and under a pergola. We tried a spumante Brut, one glas of Rancia (100% Sangiovese), one Chianti Classico and one very good vin Santo (Trebbiano and Malvasis).

We would like to thank the Felisna winery for taking time to show us around the winery and for the wine tasting.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

72 Hours at the Castel Monastero in Tuscany

Located on the southern part of Chianti, next to Castelnuovo Berardegna, there used to be a castle, the name of this castle was Castel Monastero.

You're lucky, because this luxurious holiday retreat is still alive and even more luxurious then before the expensive renovation. If you ever find this place without a navigation system which is just confusing you even more, you will arrive at this place, just one hour south of Florence. After 13 hours of travelling from Munich, including one lunch break in Modena (at La Quercia di Rosa) and one longer shopping stop at Barberino Fashion Outlet, 30 minutes before Florence. 

After our arrival we were greeted by the kind front desk staff member Stefano who showed us around and even accompanied us to the room. The room itself, a Prestige Room, was very dark upon entering and the layout made the room even smaller then it used to be. A real highlight of our room was the enormous bathroom with double basin, bath tub, separated room with toilet, bidet and a huge shower. Don't worry, you will never run out of these luxury toiletries by no other then Lorenzo Villoresi, the nose of Italy - there are plenty of them inside the bathroom.

When you forgot your wake up call, then you might be awake due to some gardener cutting the greens around the buildings. If not, it's not really bad as the breakfast is nothing impressive. I have stayed in many luxury hotels and this breakfast is alright, but there are lot more products to offer even in Tuscany. We found the female service chef a bit rude, because we wanted to order Scrambled eggs with ham and not to take the cold and foamy scrambled eggs from the buffet! She did not accommodate our request and seemed to be more hectic than helpful.

The bar is a very nice place to chill out in the evenings and all staff members were quite nice and helpful. The snacks and the wines served at the bar are also very good. A real problem was the cocktails we ordered. We wanted to have Pina Colada. Unfortunately there is no barkeeper at the bar and therefore the Pina Colada was disgusting. I complained one time and they immediately served another one, far better but with little rum only and still the wrong glass. It is absolutely not the fault of the staff but for the price of 12 euros per cocktail we expected a real highlight. In fact it was a disappointment.

Due to the fact that the staff members are not teached how to make a perfect cocktail, they do not have a shuttle service (which is more then necessary for tourists coming without a car), the Wi-Fi did not work properly and because of the fact that our room was smaller than expected, we can only grant 7/10 points. 

Nonetheless, Stefano was the highlight of our stay and made us feel welcome. 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Norway's Best Hotel or The Thief Hotel

Recently I have been to a trip to Norway and Sweden on an extended weekend in June. First I flew to Stockholm via Frankfurt and after a two night stay at the Grand I left the Venice of the North by flying to Oslo with Norwegian Air Shuttle, an airline to remember (they offered free Wi-Fi and unlimited onboard entertainment on your mobile or tablet device). After the arrival at Oslo Airport I took the Flytoget Airport High-Speed Train and within 20 minutes I reached Oslo Central Station. From there, an exclusive taxi (they only have modern Mercedes taxis - that's why they are so expensive :) ) brought me to my breath-taking Designhotel. After 5 minutes taxi drive and crossing a parking garage, I finally arrived at the coolest Luxury Hotel I have seen so far - The Thief.

After checking in I received one of their largest rooms and one of the only ones overlooking the Oslo Harbour. Everything is new and absolutely dazzling inside this little place of design heaven. In fact I love the design of Antonio Citterio (I love the Bulgari Hotels) and at the Thief, all furniture was desiged by Antonio Citterio and made by B&B Italia and Maxalto.

The room was bright and when I opened the curtains I had an impressive panorama and thanks to the cool design of this hotel, I could even see the other side of the harbor, which lies behind the hotel. Beside an enormously comfortable bed, a balcony, two comfortable chairs and a large entrée, there was also a stunning bathroom, which had a separate shower and separated toilet. When you walked into the bath in the nights, a cushioned light went on. 

But the best of all was really my view (I loved it so much), nearly all sights were at your fingertips: The old castle and the fortress, the harbour, the Oslo Fjord, the top of the Oslo Opera House as well as the Modern Museum in front of the hotel! Did I also mention that my room had an in-room shop? The Thief is probably the first hotel to offer such service in Europe, they have everything you need: socks, a white shirt, tie, hair spray, facial mask, earplugs, headsets, and even toothbrushes and hand creams. 

Beside all this luxury, a room at The Thief is also equipped with a Nespresso Coffee Machine (and plenty of capsules - I love if hotels are generous in all ways) and for turn-down-service in the evening, a bottle of hot water and tea arrives. Pure glam can also be found in the bathrooms: you can choose between neutral smelling toiletries by Carita Paris or either the colourful british branded ila bath amenities. I chose the option to try each night a different one, and I love both! This is also an excellent idea. From my point of view, this should be the case at all luxury hotels.

Last but not least I would like to mention the breakfast buffet. Although the quality of the products is very good and also all staff members are very helpful and kind, the buffet seems to be on the small side. And after strolling through it you soon notice that it really is. Scrambled eggs, omlettes and special wishes can be ordered in front of the cuisine or just tell your server - they are all happy to assist you.

The worst part of my stay was that I had to leave after two stunning nights at one of my latest favorite hotels. The check-out went fast, but unfortunately I did not receive any envelope nor an adequate bill with the hotel dates on it. 

Total points for my experience at The Thief: 9,0/10

Rooms start at 260,00 euros per room/night including breakfast.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Staying at The Grand (Hotel) Stockholm - Part 2

The best part of my stay was of course the Nordic Spa at the Grand Hotel. The indoor pool is one of the most wonderful in Europe to my taste, together with the one at the Corinthia London and the Hotel Europe in Killarney. There were two gender-separated changing rooms with sauna, steam room and dipping pool as well as showers and a small bar. The temperature of the indoor pool was very pleasant at 27c. If this is still too cold for your taste, there is a hot jacuzzi next to the pool at very comfortable 32c. One thing to remember is that the out-of-the-world Nordic Spa is also limited by space and therefore there are also limited relax chairs: a total of 10 chaise longues are way too less at peak hour, but there are also relax zones around the pool which take away the 

After coming back to my room at the first evening we decided to have dinner in the hotel and after coming back to the room I found out that there was a disturbing noise coming from the ballroom in front of my room. I went down to the front desk to change the room, but they told me that no other rooms are available. So I went back very sadly and waited until 11pm until the music stops according to the schedule. In fact it was 11.15 pm until there was no more noise.

After a sightseeing tour on Stockholm's waters with a boat, we went through the market hall, the Vasa Museum and of course we have been to NK, the Selfridges or Harrods of Scandinavia. When coming back to the hotel I watched inside the ballroom and I saw that they build up for an huge event. I guessed that there will be the same issue on the second night. And of course I was right! When coming back to my room at 10.00 pm I experienced noise again. I called the front desk and they told me again, no other room available, that the event lasts until 1 am. WOW, so I wanted to have a drink at Cadier Bar, but there was absolutely no seat available. 

After checking out, they did not take notes about my issues and they only grant a compensation after I complaint about my sleepless nights. They invited us for breakfast one day and that's it. I was not satisfied with this small compensation and therefore contacted the General Manager personally after coming back to Austria. 

Mrs Barck finally invited me to stay again at the Grand Hotel Stockholm and I am waiting for the voucher to be arrived here in Central Europe. I will keep you updated for a new experience at this Grand Hotel and member of the Leading Hotels of the World.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Staying at The Grand (Hotel) Stockholm - Part 1

After some stressful weeks it was time again for me to take a little break and hide away from everyday life. I decided to visit the deep North of Europe, a place where I have never been before. I booked Lufthansa return tickets from Innsbruck to Stcokholm via Frankfurt and from Oslo back to Innsbruck also via Frankfurt. I was very satisfied with all flights, except the SAS flight, where you have to purchase your drinks and snacks, otherwise all other flights served free drinks and snacks, as usual with Lufthansa. Unfortunately the Business Class seats were not different from the ones in Economy Class, you just get your neighboring seat in addition, which is nice but not necessary. 

After a two hours flight from Frankfurt, I arrived at Stockholm Airport, which is originally in Arlanda, 40 km outside of the city center. I took a taxi as this is the most convenient option, which brought me to the Grand Hotel within 30 minutes. The arrival was not very special and I was not even guarded to the room. The booked Single Room was also very nicely decorated and furnished in a modern way with new furnitures. The bathroom was held in white marble and everything was brand new inside my room. Unfortunately the room as very small for my kind of expectations and also the view was not really "Grand"!

On the above pictures you can see my suitcase in relation to the room size. Not really what I expected from such a renowned hotel and from a member of Leading Hotel of the World. After a while I started exploring the city and left the Grand Hotel behind me. On the same evening I had dinner at the Verandan Restaurant overlooking the Royal Palace, which is open to public for free on National Day (6 June). The food was very good for Sweden's standards and the views were just impressive. I really loved the dessert: "Chocolatnepumuk" or something like that.