A Travel Editor’s Little Black Book: 8 Secret Addresses

Verity, Toronto

In this high-speed world of social media, nothing’s really a secret address anymore. But we’ve discovered a few spots that still hold surprise and delight for us. We’ve compiled a short list of those places we just can’t help but share, whether it’s for tea, for sleeping over or for just stopping by.

Scroll through and add these secret addresses to your contacts list. (Just don’t tell them we sent you.)



Two Bali Retreats

  1. Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, Ubud

Sure, Bali is not exactly a secret. But Ubud, which is away from the beaches and the bars and the partiers (you get the drift), is an inland utopia of wildlife-rich jungles, the raftable Ayung river – and retreats where you can disconnect from the world and reconnect with nature, or yourself.


Just off the main road in Ubud, you’ll find this new sanctuary, a paradise sprawled along the river and built around lush jungle life. Villas have private infinity pools, as well as living spaces off the main bedroom for added privacy. But as sprawling as it seems, it is home to only 35 suites and 25 private villas.


The Mandapa Spa is situated along the river, with nothing but its babbling ebb and flow for a soundtrack. Bliss. http://www.ritzcarlton.com/en/Properties/Mandapa/Default.htm


  1. Four Seasons Bali at Sayan

This is a getaway that’s secret yet familiar, the best kind. Among the rice paddies and the river views, is a retreat that immerses you in the local Balinese culture: From programs where you can work with rice farmers, take tours with the resort’s gardeners, even learn more about the Balinese Hindu philosophy.

Four Seasons1

You can try AntiGravity Yoga – we did, and it was surprisingly more relaxing than we thought, a great way to stretch – and take mindfulness meditation classes. Indonesian style cuisine and dining is in the trees, on terraces that are close enough for you to reach out and touch the palm fronds that shade the space.


Of course, it wouldn’t be a Four Seasons without that good old Canadian hospitality and friendliness that’s bred in the hotel chain’s bones, and we’re glad that it is. Everyone smiles here. And so did we. Heaven. http://www.fourseasons.com/sayan/


2 Ways to take in Afternoon Tea and Art in Dublin

  1. The Merrion

Where tea is an art form of different proportions. ‘Art Tea’ at The Merrion 5 star hotel is perhaps one of the most lavish afternoon tea services in Dublin. Sink into one of the Drawing rooms’ (yes, there’s more than one) overstuffed couches, recline by the fire, and admire the art – on the walls and on your plate. The art is 19th- or 20th-century, the art of sweets is served on fine china with miniature creations inspired by the work of J.B Yeats, William Scott, Louis Le Brocquy and others.


It’s the perfect place to relax, accompanied by teas and coffees selected by the in-house tea masters and barista, while browsing through a complimentary copy of The Merrion art collection catalogue. Don’t leave until you’ve taken a stroll through all the drawing rooms to admire the works that line the walls.

Upper Merrion Street, Dublin 2 T: +353 1 603 0600 http://www.merrionhotel.com/drawingrooms_tea.php


2. The Westbury

If you like tea with a view, this is the place. Just a few floors above Dublin’s popular Grafton Street, The Westbury Hotel’s Afternoon Tea on The Gallery level is a must-do. Considered a Dublin institution, the Afternoon Tea features a sampling of sandwiches, scones, homemade pastries and divine patisserie; the fragrant teas come from all over the globe and are served in pretty traditional silver teapots.


When we visited, many of the Chef’s creations and pastries were inspired by objets featured in the display cases sprinkled about The Gallery and the lobby by the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland. And, if you’re feeling particularly indulgent, try a glass of Moët & Chandon Rosé from the Champagne trolley. And did we mention The Westbury is a Doyle Collection hotel, which also includes the Bloomsbury in London and The Dupont Circle in Washington D.C., as well as a member of The Leading Hotels of the World? Even better, you can have tea here until 5.00 pm, so make an afternoon of it.

Westbury Mall, Grafton Street, Dublin 2 T: +353 1 679 1122



2 London Hotel Escapes

  1. Hotel 41

This Red Carnation property is sandwiched between its sister hotel, Rubens at the Palace, yes, that palace in London (hello, your majesty!) and bbar and restaurant, one of the Rubens’ outposts that features South African wine and cuisine. But it’s the discrete signage and the black and white polish of 41 that welcomes its guests into an exclusive, 5-star private hideaway. The beauty of this place is its snug and cosy feel, and here, snug and cosy is a good thing. All warm and rich hues, and with only 30 rooms.


The Executive Lounge, or what I like to call the Candy Lounge, with its scrumptious breakfasts and complimentary cornucopia of treats (nightcap and a handful of lollies, anyone?), attentive service – oh, and the Gin and Tonics. You must order one. You’ll end up having two. http://www.41hotel.com/candybar


  1. The Levin

With just 12 bedrooms, you may feel like you’ve crashed a tony Knightsbridge townhouse slumber party. But then you explore. And discover this family-run property  is the closest hotel to Harrods (shopping!), Harvey Nicholls is just up the way, and that it has The Metro, a subterranean restaurant that doubles as a pub, for weary shoppers to take respite.


The best part? You don’t have to stay here to have a post shopping pint or two. And if you’re hankering for some Michelin-starred fare, it is just steps away, next door at The Capital – a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World – and Nathan Outlaw’s Knightsbridge outpost. Happy hour anyone? www.thelevinhotel.co.uk/www.slh.com


2 ways to join the Club or have a Spa day in Toronto

  1. Verity and The Ivy at Verity

This club in downtown Toronto is unique and exclusive: unique in that it is a private members club – for women, only, and well that’s what makes it exclusive. It’s a throwback to those gentlemen’s clubs (they still exist!), but with a decidedly feminine power network. Inviting décor, a dining room/members lounge, meeting rooms of all sizes and the Sweetgrass spa, including a swimming pool, with most of the walls acting as art gallery space, reside in the heritage building on Queen Street E. Right next door is George, the award-winning restaurant. And membership includes all of the above, including preferred access to George plus a chance to network and be mentored by the 800-and-counting fellow women movers and shakers, from the corporate elite to artists and fitness gurus.


But what’s more secret is that Verity also has a tiny boutique hotel, The Ivy, on property. Four bedrooms, all plush and romantic, complete with Hästens all-natural beds, all overlooking a 19th-century courtyard. And you can bring along a gentleman, should you wish. Secret getaway, indeed.

For membership at Verity and more information on The Ivy, http://verity.ca/


  1. Miraj Hammam by Caudalie Paris

When some of us read the word Hammam, we might think Turkish and other middle-eastern ways to take the waters in the form of being hosed down, dunked in icy pools and scrubbed to within an inch of our skins’ lives. Sure, exfoliation is a part of the treatments at the Miraj Hammam by Caudalie Paris (purveyors of vinotherapy – that’s wine-based, to you and me) in the Shangri-La Toronto but what we’re really here for is to visit three countries in three hours, all under one oasis of calm umbrella – even the décor and little details, the Jerusalem gold marble benches and sweet cakes and herbal teas, for instance, take their cues from a global mashup. So, not just from the vineyards of Bordeaux, but off the continent, as well.

hammam2Start with a deeply soothing steam, where you can sweat out the toxins, the head off to Morocco with the spa’s signature full-body gommage, which translates loosely into exfoliation, to help stimulate new skin cells to the surface; follow it up with a stop in Thailand and a traditional massage that uses Yoga poses, stretching (a note here: the therapist does get up close and personal here as she manipulates your limbs into poses, but uses a pillow as a cushion between you) and pressure points to help lymphatic drainage and boost circulation.

Finally, who doesn’t want to end a good voyage with a little bit of wine? This vintage, however, is for your face. Head to France, in your treatment room, that is, and say oui to a Caudalie facial, using the company’s wine-based products. Drink up.

Did you know? Moroccan mint tea is a traditional drink of Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. In North Africa, offering it to guests is thought of as a sign of friendship. The herb acts as a powerful antioxidant, as well as a mild sedative due to its calming properties. At the Miraj Hammam at the Shangri-La, it is the house tea, and is made with freshly ground mint and unrefined sugar. www.mirajcaudaliespa.com/