Viva Espana! Madrid’s Magical Hotel Villa Magna

HOOD: Central Madrid, Spain
VIBE: Sophisticated
PROPERTY SIZE: 150 rooms
ROOM STYLE: Contemporary
WE LOVE: The location – right in the heart of Madrid

WORDS BY: Ian Pryer – visited Nov 2015

In the course of ones travels, there are occasional confluences resulting in an outstanding and memorable experience.

A recent and first trip to Madrid combined with a stay at Villa Magna was magical.

Hotel Villa Magna, a former palace although totally remodeled, is located on Paseo de la Castellana. This extraordinary tree-lined boulevard (it cannot be called a street) is one of the major thoroughfares of Madrid but because of its width, traffic never presents a problem. As one draws up to Hotel Villa Magna, one cannot fail to notice the efficiency and sophistication with which the whole arrival process is handled. An air of calm pervades as luggage quietly disappears and one is escorted to the reception desk for a noticeably smooth check-in.

The décor of the lobby, soft muted tones, interesting sculptures, comfortable furniture foretell of what one might expect from a stay at Hotel Villa Magna. Directly off the lobby is their very pleasant bar (they believe that the best gin and tonics in Madrid are served here) and lounge area. Although both are accessible to non-guests, neither is ever overcrowded.

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Lobby bar

Adjacent to the bar is a casual indoor/outdoor eating area offering a range of snacks and tapas appropriate to the time of day.

Patio Magnum
Indoor/outdoor dining

On the other side of the lobby is Restaurant Villa Magna which serves as a breakfast room in the morning and then becomes one of Madrid’s leading restaurants at lunch and dinner.

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Restaurant Villa Magna

The rooms are as comfortable as the lobby would suggest, fitted with every convenience one would expect from a hotel of this standard (daily newspaper, safe, tea and coffee making facility etc.). Even the television set, when not in use, looks like a mirror.

Prestige 02
Grand Prestige Room

Adjacent to reception is the Concierge for whom nothing appears to be too much trouble. Their restaurant recommendations were all superb. My wife and I weren’t necessarily looking for gourmet experiences but rather establishments where we could rub shoulders with locals. Lateral at 89 Paseo de la Castellana was “buzzing” at 9 p.m. Platea, just around the corner from the hotel is truly a Centro de Ocio Gastronomica, a very upmarket food court with live music and a wonderful atmosphere. We were directed by the Concierge to an area about 300m from the hotel where we were told we would find any number of tapas bars. We ate and drank most reasonably at Makkila but am sure that any would have been equally wonderful.

An absolute Madrid must – El Rastro Market on a Sunday morning: a taxi ride (fares are most reasonable and cabs readily available) from the hotel should not to be missed. If shopping is important, Madrid’s biggest department store, El Corte Ingles, is directly behind the hotel and connected to it. The main entrance of El Corte is on Calle Serrano, Madrid’s most elegant shopping street with every conceivable “brand”. The major art galleries are within walking distance or a short taxi ride away. Like most cities, Madrid has a “hop-on, hop-off” bus and there is a stop less than 200 m. from the hotel.

Book a private, custom tour of Madrid here

In this most elegant and exciting city, Hotel Villa Magna is truly wonderful.

As a Goldman/Travelcall client, the following amenities are included:

  • Buffet breakfast in Restaurant Villa Magna each day
  • Tapas and wine once during the stay
  • Room upgrade, subject to availability
  • Complimentary internet access
  • Villa Magna sweets box
  • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability
  • Round trip airport transfers for Executive Suite Bookings & above

Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam review: The fabled canals have a new leading light

HOOD: Amsterdam City Centre
VIBE: Sophisticated
PROPERTY SIZE: 93 rooms and suites
ROOM STYLE:  Classic
WE LOVE:  That is has the largest private garden in Amsterdam
INSIDER TIP: Rent a bicycle and take in the sights along the many designated bike paths. The hotel’s Guerlain Spa can heal any tired muscles – Tip courtesy of Virtuoso

WORDS BY: Chris Cheyne, Goldman Travel

As we overlooked the canal, to have the late Summer breeze come through, carrying with it the sounds of weekenders out on their boats was just lovely.

Late August and early September are beautiful times of the year to visit Amsterdam. The sun is out late, the weather still warm, the sunsets long, most of the crowds have dissipated, but there’s still a great buzz in the air. People spend their weekends on leisure craft on the canals, eating great food and drinking wine and enjoying the leisurely pace along the waterways – calling out greetings to the passers by on the banks.

Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam: The Waldorf has one of the most iconic historic locations of Amsterdam. Experience timeless elegance and warm hospitality on the grand 17th century canal palaces of the Herengracht. Enjoy a wealth of world-class amenities and personalized service in the heart of Amsterdam.
Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam: The Waldorf has one of the most iconic historic locations of Amsterdam. Experience timeless elegance and warm hospitality on the grand 17th century canal palaces of the Herengracht. Enjoy a wealth of world-class amenities and personalized service in the heart of Amsterdam.

Situated on the most stylish of Amsterdam’s canals, the Herrengracht (“Gentleman’s Canal”), the Waldorf Astoria combines six grand mansions, creating the most superb and genteel hotel in Amsterdam.

For those who enjoy a bit of history and architecture, in transforming the houses into the hotel, many of the original features were maintained and preserved, such as beautiful 17th century banisters on the staircases, and wonderful artworks which reflect its proximity to both the Hermitage and Rijksmuseum.

Along with the usual array of excellent food and beverage outlets you’d expect from the Waldorf Astoria brand, there are a few additional features of this hotel which are quite unique for Amsterdam properties. First and foremost of these (particularly for the warmer months) is the largest private garden in Amsterdam. Beautifully manicured flower beds and lawns share the space with a well curated selection of sculptures, which are also a dominant feature in the corridor to… the indoor pool! One of a very few hotels in Amsterdam to have one, the pool area looks out onto the garden, has a large steam room and sauna, and showers that I would want to recreate in my home if I had the space.

Courtyard Garden: all 93 spacious rooms and suites overlooking the city’s canal or the courtyard garden.
Courtyard Garden: All 93 spacious rooms and suites overlooking the city’s canal or the courtyard garden.
Indoor Pool: Retreat to the restful oasis of the hotel’s luxury spa, and refresh with a dip in the indoor swimming pool.
Indoor Pool: Retreat to the restful oasis of the hotel’s luxury spa, and refresh with a dip in the indoor swimming pool.

One of the Waldorf Astoria’s signature common areas, Peacock Alley, is interpreted in Amsterdam with beautiful shades of blue and white, reflecting (by design or not) the classic colours of Holland’s famous Delft ceramics. This palette extends to the rest of the hotel, creating a calm and elegant environment. On arrival, you can select one of the five signature scents on offer to have your bed linens sprayed each evening to create an even more personal experience while in residence. Each has been crafted exclusively for the hotel.

Peacock Alley, a Waldorf Astoria tradition.
Peacock Alley, a Waldorf Astoria tradition.

With all rooms having views onto the garden, or canal, each is light-filled and comfortable. Oversized bathrooms with Ferragamo amenities add to the comfort, though what we found to be a particularly nice touch – the windows can on request be unlocked so that you can let the fresh air in.

King Loft: Located on the highest floor of the hotel and featuring a traditional wooden ceiling and elegant décor, this loft room offers guests a unique and refined accommodation for their stay in Amsterdam. The room features 44 sq m/473 sq ft, high-floor, bath TV, 42-inch TV, complimentary WiFi, entertainment center
King Loft: Located on the highest floor of the hotel and featuring a traditional wooden ceiling and elegant décor, this loft room offers guests a unique and refined accommodation for their stay in Amsterdam. The room features 44 sq m/473 sq ft, high-floor, bath TV, 42-inch TV, complimentary WiFi, entertainment center
Queen Deluxe: The spacious & sophisticated bathroom with inset TV, typically features a large shower. The room include an abundance of modern amenities including a 42-inch flat screen TV, a state-of-the-art entertainment system, complimentary WiFi and an Espresso coffee machine.
Queen Deluxe: The spacious & sophisticated bathroom with inset TV, typically features a large shower. The room include an abundance of modern amenities including a 42-inch flat screen TV, a state-of-the-art entertainment system, complimentary WiFi and an Espresso coffee machine.

Of course, as a member hotel of Virtuoso, booking with the Goldman Group brings with it additional recognition at the hotel, along with a number of inclusions (below), so contact any of the team at Goldman Travel, Travelcall or Travelphase to ensure your next visit to the city of canals is a truly luxurious, and memorable one.

AMENITIES: (book with us for)

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Continental breakfast daily, for up to two in room guests
  • $100 USD Equivalent Food & Beverage credit
  • Welcome Amenity including personlised welcome card from GM

Our 2015 Virtuoso Travel Week Top 15 Hotels

Virtuoso Travel Week in Las Vegas showcases the world’s best hotels and hots spots from the Virtuoso collection. From the 300+ properties presented to us at Travel Week 2015, we’ve shortlisted 15 that, for reasons of design, destination or all-round desirability, captured our imagination and left us longing to lodge in.

This luxurious list includes six perfect properties in Europe, two in the Middle East, four in Central and North America and three in Asia.

Amenities listed for each hotel are available when booked through us.


EUROPE: Greece, France, Spain, Italy and Hungary

Canaves Oia Suites
Santorini, Greece

River Pool Suite at Canaves Oia
River Pool Suite at Canaves Oia Suites

Oia-M-G!!  This is what we think of when someone says Santorini. 24 sparkling white cliff-side suites (plus one amazing villa), all with exterior plunge pools. Apparently the marriage proposal to “yes” ratio is exceptional (no wonder). For stays of 4+ nights, Virtuoso amenity is one private catamaran sunset tour for two any day during the stay. And that’s where you pop the question!

AMENITIES

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Daily Buffet breakfast, for up to two in room guests
  • Welcome Amenity – bottle of local Santorinian wine & fresh fruit
  • Euro 80 Food & Beverage credit per room, per stay
  • For stays of 4 or more nights
    • In lieu of the 80 euro Food & Beverage credit, guest may opt for one catamaran sunset tour for two any day during the stay
  • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability

Prince de Galles, a Luxury Collection Hotel
Paris, France

Mosiacs at Prince de Galles Paris
Mosiacs at Prince de Galles Paris

“Fantastique” location – on Georges V between Four Seasons and Champs-Élysées. Reopened in 2013 after a two-year renovation, it retains its classic design but with a contemporary edge; bathroom buffs will adore the shower  in the l’Appartement Parisien duplex suite – brass tapware with glittering gold and white mosaic tiles (pictured).  Michelin-star restaurant La Scene by Chef Stéphanie Le Quellec.

AMENITIES

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Daily full breakfast, for up to two in room guests
  • $100 USD Equivalent Food & Beverage credit
  • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability

Hotel Belles Rives
Antibes, France

Hotel Belles Rives, French Riviera
Hotel Belles Rives, French Riviera

The place to be seen in the gorgeous town of Juan Les Pins on the French Riviera. Classic design, spacious rooms, glamorous crowd. At their private beach (where, for those not staying at the hotel, a chair costs around 50 Euros for the day!) is an amazing water-sports club, where kids can learn how to waterski, and a very chic beach restaurant and bar.

AMENITIES

  • Upgrade at time of arrival, subject to availability
  • Complimentary buffet breakfast for two daily for duration of the stay
  • $100 USD Voucher on the Beach Restaurant from April to September; $100 USD Voucher at the Restaurant Bar Fitzgerald from October to March
  • Early check-in/Late check-out, subject to availability

Puente Romano Beach Resort & Spa Marbella
Marbella, Spain

Puente Romano Marbella Pool
Puente Romano Marbella Pool

White-washed beach resort on Marbella’s “Golden Mile”. Amazing facilities, including a Six Senses Spa, 9 restaurants (one of which has a Michelin Star) and 10 tennis courts with serious on-court cred: Novak Djokovic trains there when he stays over Christmas every year!

AMENITIES

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Daily Buffet breakfast, for up to two in room guests
  • $100 USD Equivalent Resort or Hotel credit
  • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability

Il Borro Estate
Tuscany, Italy

Il Borro Estate Tuscany (Member of Relais & Châteaux)
Il Borro Estate Tuscany (Member of Relais & Châteaux)

Just when you thought the Italian countryside couldn’t get any more charming, enter Salvatore Feraggamo’s grandson, of the same name. The handsome Tuscan estate, at which the famed shoe designer’s equally handsome grandson will greet you, comprises exclusive villas, farmhouses, vineyards, olive groves, shops and a church. While the Virtuoso amenity isn’t a pair of SF shoes, spending time at the Ferragamo family’s stunningly restored village will not disappoint.

AMENITIES

  • Daily full breakfast, for up to two in room guests
  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • $100 USD Equivalent Spa Services credit
  • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability

Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace
Budapest, Hungary

Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace - Budapest, Hungary
Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace – Budapest, Hungary

In a restored landmark building (featuring original details) at the foot of the historic Chain Bridge. Close to business district, cultural sites and boutiques. Four Seasons guests have access to nearby Brody House, a private members-only club (think Soho House). Enjoy the studio exhibitions, sensational bar and dining as you rub shoulders with every celebrity currently in town (this is where they all hang!).

AMENITIES

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Continental breakfast daily, for up to two in room guests
  • $100 USD Equivalent Food & Beverage credit

MIDDLE EAST: Israel and UAE

Mamilla Hotel
Jerusalem, Israel

Mamilla Hotel Jerusalem
The Lobby at Mamilla Hotel Jerusalem

Designed by Moshe Safdi, arguably one of the world’s most significant modern-day architects, and designer of Yad Vashem Children’s Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem, in conjunction with equally renowned Piero Lissoni. Exceptional design on an extraordinary scale; from the huge black staircase in the middle of the hotel entrance, to the volumes of stone used throughout.

AMENITIES

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability (excluding Suites)
  • Daily full breakfast, for up to two in room guests, served in the Ballroom
  • $100 USD lunch or dinner credit for up to two people per room, at Mamilla Cafe
  • Bottled mineral water and sundried fruits in room upon arrival
  • 10% reduction on treatments at the Akasha Well-being center, hotel, restaurants and bars
  • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability

Al Maha
Dubai, UAE

Bedouin Suite at Al Maha Resort Dubai
Bedouin Suite at Al Maha Resort Dubai

For those who want to break up their layover in Dubai with a difference, opt for this desert oasis just one hour’s drive from Dubai International Airport. Every one of Al Maha’s canvas-roofed suites has its own private swimming pool. Virtuoso amenity for stays of 2+ nights is private airport transfers. Europe can wait a couple of days…

AMENITIES

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Daily full breakfast, for up to two in room guests
  • For 1 night stay: $45 USD Spa & $45 USD Food & Beverage credit per room
  • For stays of 2 nights or more: Private Round trip airport transfer
  • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability

NORTH/CENTRAL AMERICA: California, New York and Mexico

Post Ranch Inn
Big Sur, California, US

Post Ranch Inn Bug Sur
Post Ranch Inn Bug Sur

Big Sur splendour. Every room features stunning ocean and mountain views, a fireplace, spa tub and deck. There are three heated infinity pools and a seriously amazing restaurant (Sierra Mar) for when you do feel like venturing out of your private cliff side sanctuary. Or you could always get room service!

AMENITIES

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Daily Buffet breakfast, for up to two in room guests
  • $100 USD Equivalent Resort or Hotel credit
  • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability

The Ranch at Live Oak
Malibu, US

The Ranch at Live Oak Malibu
The Ranch at Live Oak Malibu

A week long health and wellness retreat designed to help you reach your detox or weight loss goals with nutritional and fitness programs. A “luxury” bootcamp with serious PR cred – we’ve read so many articles in Harpers Bazaar, Conde Nast, Vogue Living etc – and impressive results to back it up. If a ‘detox retreat’ is your thing, this is pretty much as good as it gets.

AMENITIES

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Daily full breakfast, for up to two in room guests
  • Choice of one complimentary spa treatment
  • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability

Trump International Hotel And Tower New York
New York, US

Trump International Hotel New York
Trump International Hotel New York

A great option for clients wanting to stay ON Central Park. Where Midtown meets the Upper West side, meaning some of the best access to Broadway, museums, shopping (Bergdorfs is a 15-min walk to the opposite lower corner of Central Park), Times Square (8 blocks) and more… not to mention spectacular views. 90% of rooms have full kitchens, so perfect for anyone spending a bit more time in the city. Jean Georges dining throughout (including to your room!) and a beautiful rooftop restaurant and bar designed by Philippe Stark.

AMENITIES

  • Upgrade at time of arrival, subject to availability
  • Complimentary continental breakfast for two daily for duration of the stay
  • Guests choice of $100 USD equivalent Spa Services credit or $100 USD equivalent Food & Beverage credit
  • Early check-in/Late check-out, subject to availability

Las Alamandas Resort
Costalegre, Mexico

Las Alamandas Resort
Las Alamandas Resort

A gorgeous beachside estate with just 17 private villas, all designed and furnished in their own colour. This is a beautiful retreat for couples/families who want to relax and not move. Great food, very private villas and also some lovely communal spaces around the expansive grounds. A good add on for anyone spending time in Puerto Vallarta – it’s a 2.5 hours drive.

AMENITIES

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Continental breakfast daily, for up to two in room guests
  • $100 USD Equivalent Resort or Hotel credit
  • Welcome Margaritas upon arrival
  • Tropical Fresh Fruit Platter Daily and Lemonades
  • Welcome bottle of wine
  • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability

ASIA: Thailand and Cambodia

Banyan Tree Phuket
Phuket, Thailand

Banyan Tree Phuket Pool Villa Bath
Banyan Tree Phuket Pool Villa Bath

Following renovations, back in operation as of 1st November with refurbished Banyan Pool Villas (all with private pool and outdoor bath), two new restaurants by Spanish chef Alfonso De La Dahesa.

AMENITIES

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Daily full breakfast, for up to two in room guests served in restaurant or Double Pool Villa
  • A complimentary lunch or dinner for up to two people per room
    • Set lunch at Banyan or Set dinner at Watercourt or Saffron
  • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability

Belmond La Résidence d’Angkor
Siem Reap, Cambodia

Belmond La Résidence d’Angkor Siem Reap, Cambodia
Pool at Belmond La Résidence d’Angkor Siem Reap, Cambodia

The perfect mix of local love and Belmond bliss at this tropical oasis in the heart of Siem Reap. Clients will love the two great restaurants and a bar headed up by Mexican Chef Saul and tranquil Kong Kea spa… a stay here spoils all the senses.

AMENITIES

  • Daily full breakfast, for up to two in room guests
  • A complimentary 50-minute massage
    • for up to two people, per room, once during stay
  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability

Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort
Chiang Saen, Thailand

Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort
Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort

Five new family suites: this property is brilliant for kids, who will love impromptu visits from elephants at mealtimes and the chance to visit the camp. Rates include airport transfers, all meals, house wine and beer, minibar, plus your choice of daily activity (spa treatment, tour of elephant camp, cooking class etc).

AMENITIES

  • Upgrade at time of booking, subject to availability from 3 Country Deluxe Room to 3 Country Suite
    • (During peak holiday period Dec. 16 – Jan. 6, Upgrade at time of arrival, subject to availability applies)
  • Daily Buffet breakfast, for up to two in room guests and up to four guests in Family Suite
  • $100 USD Equivalent Resort or Hotel credit
  • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability

Designer digs. Armani Hotel Milan in review

HOOD: Montenapoleone area in Milano
VIBE: every week is fashion week
PROPERTY SIZE: 95 designer guest rooms and suites
ROOM STYLE:  contemporary chic
WE LOVE:  it’s Armani
INSIDER TIP: allocate a few post-shopping/pre-aperitivo hours to recharge in the relaxation pool on the 7th floor Armani/SPA

WORDS BY: Joshua Ogilvie, SmartFlyer Australia

At the heart of Milan’s world-famous fashion district, the Armani Hotel Milano, a personal project of iconic Italian fashion designer Giorgio Armani, is his vision of comfort and hospitality.

Every furnishing and fixture in the 95 guestrooms and suites has been chosen for its sculptural, aesthetic and sensual qualities.

Armani Premiere Room
Armani Premiere Room

The rooms and suites are elegant, sophisticated, and to borrow a fashion phrase, look perfectly tailored. There’s not an ostentatious object to be found; this handsome hotel is tactile and presented in perfect taste. Rooms are spacious, lighting atmospheric, and all are appointed with Armani’s luxurious amenities.

We didn’t want to leave the 200sqm Armani Presidential suite, complete with full-service cocktail bar and kitchen. Not without hosting aperitivo anyway!

Armani/Bamboo Bar
Armani/Bamboo Bar

The 7th floor the Armani/Ristorante and the Armani/Bamboo Bar offer uninterrupted and 360 degree views of city’s skyline, stretching as far as the Italian Alps. The Armani/Ristorante draws on Italian excellence with international influences while the Armani/Bamboo Bar is as much the perfect place for a vibrant aperitivo as it is the perfect place to be seen drinking one.

On the hotel’s top floor, the panoramic Armani/SPA boasts 1,000-square-meters of beauty, offering tailored treatments (each guest starts with a personal consultation to determine the perfect program), steam and sauna experiences, and a unique relaxation pool with its louvered window roof and walls. It’s refined, luxurious and utterly relaxing.

Armani/SPA
Armani/SPA

The hotel’s building, not surprisingly a perfect A in shape, is home to Milan’s Armani-designed, Japanese juggernaut, Nobu. The hotel bookends the North end of of Via Monte Napoleone, itself home to Valentino, Céline, Dior, Versace, Gucci, Fendi, Prada, Salvatore Ferragamo, Louis Vuitton and co.

This hotel is at the heart of, and embodies the designer soul of Milan.

The hotel’s clientele are so cool it could put lesser likes out of their comfort zone. But if you’re confident in your own skin (or rocking designer duds among the glitterati) the hotel itself is warm, welcoming, and makes you feel a million dollars.

Mission accomplished Mr Armani.

AMENITIES: (book with us for)

  • Upgrade upon arrival, subject to availability
  • Daily full breakfast for up to two in-room guests in Armani/Ristorante
  • Welcome Armani amenity in room upon arrival
  • US $100 equivalent Food & Beverage credit to be utilized during stay
  • Complimentary Internet access