A Little Place I Know


An enchanting mosque in Cairo by Philip Hewat-Jaboor


Aqsunqur Mosque, Bab el-Wazir Street, Tabbana Quarter, Cairo

There’s something profoundly enchanting about Egypt. The light and the landscape are so extraordinary, with the Nile snaking through the country, and this belt of lush green landscape, which then stops abruptly. You can literally stand with one foot in the green and the other in the desert. The Egyptians are hugely welcoming – an absolute pleasure to spend time with. I’ve been going there for 35 years and I spend two to three months there every year. I especially love Cairo. It has wonderful architecture: Pharaonic, Islamic, 19th-century, and now, with new Egyptian museum, 21st century. In the old Islamic quarter there’s a little mosque, the Aqsunqur, or Blue Mosque, which isn’t particularly well known or visited, and is a little hard to find. Parts of it were built in the 1340s, others in the mid-17th century, and there are walls completely covered in marble, precious stones and blue tiles brought from Damascus – a wonderful combination of materials, with a courtyard grown over with palm trees. It’s all incredibly beautiful, with the most magical atmosphere. I really find it very moving.

Philip Hewat-Jaboor is an art advisor and the chairman of Masterpiece art fairs (June 26 – July 3, 2019; masterpiecefair.com)

Your address: The St. Regis Cairo


An historic jazz club in New York by Reggie Nadelson


206 West 118th Street, New York
In the early 1940s, Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie got together and invented bebop. They did it at Minton’s Playhouse, a shabby club on 118th Street in Harlem. Bebop was brand new; it was modern jazz: difficult to play, impossible to dance to. The music eventually moved to 52nd Street and Greenwich Village, to clubs where the audience sat in reverent silence trying to work it all out. Miles Davis, Ray Brown and Max Roach joined in, and bebop blew everyone away. As jazz moved away, the great Harlem clubs and ballrooms shut down. Then, in the 21st century, the neighborhood made a comeback. Great restaurants opened all over Harlem, and so did Minton’s Playhouse. A spiffy room with photos of Dizzy and Charlie on the walls, Minton’s showcases some of the best jazz around, and shares its premises with The Cecil Steakhouse, which serves great steaks and terrific drinks.

Reggie Nadelson is the author of At Balthazar: The New York Brasserie at the Center of the World

Your address: The St. Regis New York


An off-the-beaten-track Florentine restaurant by Filippo Ricci


Osteria delle Tre Panche, Via A. Pacinotti 32/R, Florence
When people ask me for a restaurant recommendation, I always suggest Osteria delle Tre Panche. We’ve been going there since it opened, and we probably still go at least twice a week, because whenever friends visit, they want to go too. It’s tiny – and not in typical restaurant territory. Just one room, for 20 people max, all sitting on benches (or panche) and a really small kitchen. But it’s a tremendous dining experience. The Osteria specializes in truffles – they have one of the best white truffle sauces in Italy. But in my opinion it’s all about the cheesecake, arguably the best in the world. It’s so good that people FedEx it to the US. Nowadays two young guys, Andrea and Vieri Bista, run the restaurant. They’re both chefs, but they alternate daily – one guy cooks, the other waits the tables. They’re so good, we’ve taken them around the world with us – Shanghai, Moscow, Miami, Las Vegas, Dallas, all over. We like to host dinner parties wherever we go, and we love to bring this Italian flavor. We have countless Michelin-starred restaurants in Florence, but for me, this is still the best.

Filippo Ricci is creative director of Florence-based luxury tailoring house Stefano Ricci (stefanoricci.com)

Your address: The St. Regis Florence


A poster museum in Shanghai by Timothy Parent


Propaganda Poster Art Centre, Room B-OC, 868 Huashan Rd, Shanghai
I came across Shanghai’s Propaganda Poster Art Center through a friend who suggested it as somewhere to take visitors looking for a bit of culture. Shanghai is more of a city for living than sightseeing – that’s more Beijing’s thing. So, very few people know about this museum, which is pretty tucked away, in the basement of an old residential complex. But that’s kind of the cool thing about it. You feel you’ve really discovered something. It’s a visual representation of China’s ideology from the 1950s to the 1980s – mostly posters, but with some comics – and it’s fascinating to see how the country changed during those decades. It’s like a unique window into China’s recent history. There are a lot of posters about economic growth, sport, film and the other big theme, crushing the West. There are also interesting themes about the Chinese working with “suppressed groups” and how they aligned themselves with certain African and Asian countries. And some are very futuristic. It’s pretty enlightening, for sure. You could easily spend half a day there if it’s the kind of thing you’re interested in.

Timothy Parent is the founder of the chinafashionbloggers.com and a contributor to The Business of Fashion

Your address: The St. Regis Shanghai Jingan

A Little Place I Know


A traditional restaurant in Astana by Ryan Koopmans


Qazaq Gourmet, 29 Mangilik El St, Astana

This restaurant is in the main business area, near the Palace of Peace and Reconciliation (designed by Norman Foster) and lots of political buildings, so it’s right at the heart of Astana life. Although it’s on the ground floor of a modern luxury complex, inside they try to showcase the best of traditional Kazak food and culture. The staff wear local costumes as well as little hats inspired by those worn by nomadic Mongol swordsmen. There are musicians playing beautiful old instruments and dancers who swirl about in a central space. Although it sounds touristy, it’s not at all. It’s really well done, and feels upscale and interesting rather than cheesy. Visitors get so into it, they sometimes dress up in costumes too. The best thing about this place, though, is the food. It serves mainly meat, because that’s what Kazak people enjoy: lamb, then beef shashlik, and lots of horse meat, which is a staple here. The food is often accompanied by camel’s milk, which is an acquired taste. I prefer the vodka, which comes in little ceramic flasks. People have a really good time here. It’s somewhere you forget all preconceptions, and listen to people playing their traditional instruments and look at beautiful local souvenirs and iconographic paintings of mountains and horses, and just... have fun. It’s a real celebration of Kazak life.

Ryan Koopmans is an award-winning Amsterdam-based photographer (ryankoopmans.com)
Your address: The St. Regis Astana


A museum in Mexico City by Roland Herlory


Museo Experimental El Eco, Sullivan 43 Col. San Rafael, Mexico City
I love Mexico City for so many things. Not just for its energy, its chaos, its people’s sweetness, the colors, flavors, incredible food and the mountains. I love it for its architecture, from colonial buildings to art deco beauties and innovative midcentury structures. There’s one building I particularly cherish: the Museo Experimental El Eco. Located in the heart of Colonia San Rafael, El Eco feels more like a living sculpture than a museum. The building was designed in the 1950s by Mathias Goeritz, who was a sculptor before he became an architect – and it’s typical of its time: simple, pure, geometric, ambitious and humanist; a jewel in the middle of the urban jungle. In the past, it’s been used as a restaurant, a club, all sorts of things. Today, it’s a space for spatial experimentation, showcasing a range of different exhibitions. I’m always surprised by the emotion I feel when I walk in. It’s like a sculpture you can step into. Once you’ve experienced it, you can then wander to the city’s canals and take a boat to the city, or to Frida Kahlo’s house. I think it’s the best secret in town.

Roland Herlory is CEO of designer swimwear company Vilebrequin (vilebrequin.com)
Your address: The St. Regis Mexico City


A luxury concept store in New York by Suzanne Syz


The Webster, 29 Greene Street, SoHo, New York
This concept store just opened in SoHo in New York, and it’s already one of my favorite places. The owner, Laure Hériard Dubreuil, who was a merchandiser for Nicolas Ghesquière at Balenciaga and Stefano Pilati at Yves Saint Laurent, opened her first store in Miami, then others in Bal Harbour and Houston. This one, though, is pretty unique because it’s in a six-story cast-iron house, in an area that was known for its artistic life. It feels cozy and homely, with light walls, pretty wallpaper and beautifully designed furniture, which you can buy. I like the boutique because you can get things here that you won’t find anywhere else: special-edition shoes by Gianvito Rossi and Louboutin, and pieces from labels like Prada and Miu Miu. Last time I went, I bought some of Dubreuil’s own-brand LHD pants and dresses – she does the best range of easy-to-wear clothes. It’s a place where you can wander from floor to floor and find new things: menswear on the third floor; jewelry; bags by Simon Miller or Loewe – pretty much everything a girl needs to be happy.

Suzanne Syz is the founder of her eponymous jewelry brand (suzannesyz.ch)
Your address: The St. Regis New York


A contemporary art space in Miami by Thaddaeus Ropac


Institute of Contemporary Art, 61 NE 41st Street, Miami
I’ve been going to Miami regularly for about ten years now for the Miami Beach Art Basel art fair – which is, after the original Art Basel in Switzerland, probably the most important art fair in the world, especially for the American market. And while fun is maybe the wrong word to describe something so intense, it’s a great event. What’s crucial about Miami Beach Art Basel is that everyone from the art world is there – the artists, the collectors, the other gallerists and curators. So if you’re working on a big upcoming exhibition, for example, Miami is a great opportunity to network. It’s a party town, of course – and there was a moment when we were afraid the parties would take over – but the quality is still there. This year I had a wonderful surprise, which was discovering the new Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami. It’s a great space for contemporary art right in the heart of the Design District, where there’s lots of activity, lots of shops, nightlife and restaurants and so on. These wonderful collectors, Irma and Norman Braman, decided to put their money and energy into the project. It’s not huge. It couldn’t rival the big museums in New York or London or Paris. But it doesn’t matter. It demonstrates the great role that contemporary art can play in a city like Miami – and it’s a wonderful place to visit.

Thaddaeus Ropac is one of the world’s leading gallerists, with galleries in Salzburg, Paris and London (ropac.net)
Your address: The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort

A Little Place I Know


An Ottoman palace
in Istanbul
by Leon Jakimič

Dolmabahçe Palace, Visnezade Mahallesi, Dolmabahce Cd, Istanbul
The palace is set between the ports of Besiktas and Kabatas and overlooks the Bosphorus, in which the old Ottoman fleets used to anchor. You can arrive here either on foot, through the little cobbled streets, or by boat, on the glittering waters. Either way, it’s an impressive building – a testament to the opulent life of the Ottoman sultans and the power of their empire. Outside, it’s embellished with intricate white carvings. Inside, every centimeter is decorated with marble, gold and crystal. Built in the 19th century, it’s full of history. Because of my interest in crystal, I was particularly impressed by the world’s largest Bohemian chandelier, in the Ceremonial Hall, which was sent to Istanbul by Queen Victoria of England. It’s an extraordinary example of what can be made by master craftsmen. Of course it’s not the only beautiful thing: each room is different, whether it’s the harem – which was the Sultan’s private area – the study room, the alabaster baths or the throne room. The building is filled with references to other great nations: it was the intention of the Ottoman emperors to build a palace that would match the success of European emperors, culture and architecture. If you’re visiting, it’s also worth going to the neo-baroque Dolmabahçe Clock Tower, the Dolmabahçe Mosque and the Palace Collections Museum. But allow a few days: there’s so much culture and history, you could spend a lifetime here.

Leon Jakimic is founder of the Czech crystal brand Lasvit (lasvit.com)
Your address: The St. Regis Istanbul


A tea shop in Chengdu
by Asa Eriksson-Ahuja

Yao Li Cha Shi, Tiexiangsi Road, Chengdu
This little tea house, located in the more commercial south side of Chengdu, is surrounded by modern structures that accentuate its more traditional architecture and materials. Even the entrance – a wooden porch with a thatched roof – makes you feel like you’re entering an ancient garden house. Step inside and you find an airy, Zen-like room, lit by rice-paper windows. The interiors are all tastefully decorated with potted trees, teapots, hanging calligraphy and fans. The owner wanted to create a space that honored the rich traditions of China’s tea-drinking culture, and he sells only premium-quality Chinese tea, as well as refined teaware and tea-serving garments from Japan. One of the best products sold here is a green tea called Meng-Ding Yan cha, found only in Sichuan province on the slopes of the Meng Mountain. My favorite place to drink it is the Japanese-style space on the third floor, sitting on a tatami mat. Before this shop opened in February 2017, there were only traditional Chinese-style tea houses in Chengdu. The combination of Chinese and Japanese elements in this new one makes it very special.

Asa Eriksson-Ahuja is the co-founder of the tea-humidor brand Lotusier (lotusier.com)
Your address: The St. Regis Chengdu


A compendium of global
treasures in New York
by Pippa Small

De Vera, 1 Crosby Street, New York
This store is in a part of Soho that’s forever changing – you might walk one block and it feels quite grimy, and the next it’s impossibly glamorous. It’s an area that’s always in a state of flux. From the outside, it’s pretty difficult to guess what it sells: it’s dark and unreadable, like a treasure box. Inside, it looks part cathedral, part museum and part eccentric collector’s home. It’s lined with 19th-century museum displays stocked with pieces from around the world. There’s Catholic iconography and kitsch Japanese ceramics, found objects, architectural details, little boxes, curiosity cabinets, jewelry made from old stones, seals, ancient beads, pearls, diamonds, antique pieces remade into modern wonders. It’s an appreciation of the natural world. Everything is curated with a strong point of view and vision, and the line between display, decor and product seems blurred in a deliciously “unshoplike” way. You just wander, brushing past some things and peering intently at others as you discover them. I’ve found all sorts of things I love in there: ancient baroque pearls strung into a bracelet, a huge mirror-like old Moghul diamond ring, and strings of colored gems that looked like a child’s string of plastic beads, but actually turned out to be a collection of rubies, corals and emeralds. I often come here just to look. I don’t have to buy anything to feel happy and enriched.

Pippa Small is an ethical jeweler who works with marginalized people, from Afghan lapis craftsmen to Kalahari Bushmen. She has a New York boutique at ABC Carpet & Home (pippasmall.com)
Your address: The St. Regis New York


A traditional souq in Doha
by Jeremy Morris

Souq Waqif, Doha
There has been a souq in the vibrant Al Souq area of Doha for more than a century. It was originally a place where Bedouins and locals came together to trade, near the water’s edge, but in 2006 it was renovated in traditional Qatari architectural style, with cobbled lanes and whitewashed buildings, mud-rendered walls and exposed timber beams. Inside, it’s a brilliant assault on the senses: a maze of alleyways with market stall-holders selling brightly colored fabrics, spices and exotic birds, Arabic coffee-sellers and uniformed porters carrying shopping. There’s an amazing choice of restaurants and wonderful coffee shops, with the smell of shisha wafting above it all. You can get pretty much anything from the region here: traditional spices and herbs, preserved lemons and Yemeni honey, Iranian bread and dates from Qatar, as well as incense and perfumes, handcrafted goods in leather, gold, clay or wood. The bird souq is particularly lovely: there are exotic birds chirping away next to magnificent hooded falcons. And I love the vivid colors of the textiles – the deep reds, vibrant greens and ocher yellows always give me inspiration when I’m designing with our precious gemstones. Business colleagues introduced the souq to me, and we had a wonderful traditional meal with soccer on the TV screens behind us – memorable and great fun.

Jeremy Morris is the third generation of jewelers at David Morris, which has outlets from Doha and Moscow to Baku (davidmorris.com)
Your address: The St. Regis Doha

A Little Place I Know


A linen shop in Mumbai
by David Linley

Khadi Stores, 145 Prathana Samaj, Ram Mohan Road, Mumbai
I went to this shop primarily because Amin Jaffer, international director of Asian art at Christie’s in India, took me there – so it’s really his Little Place I Know, which I’ve learned to love too. Like all the best places, it’s in a nondescript alley, in a nondescript building. But once you’ve gone up the stairs, you find yourself in an Aladdin’s cave of linens; it’s a purveyor of the finest khadi (or hand-woven) cloth in India. What’s interesting about khadi is that it’s not just cloth. In 1918, Mahatma Gandhi encouraged everyone in India to spin and weave, as a way of reducing dependency on Britain. So the cloth also has political resonance (hence Khadi Stores’ motto: “The Original Freedom Wear Since 1937”). The Maheshwari family has had Khadi Stores for four generations, and the father and son who run it are always dressed beautifully with their crisp white shirts, waistcoats and Nehru jackets. All their cotton is exquisite, from dhoties and kurtas to tablecloths and bedspreads, and all neatly stocked in one big room. Should you want to see something, it’s extracted and shaken out: a very good sales trick, because you then feel obliged to take it. Most things are hard to resist, anyway. Amin Jaffer always ends up buying all sorts, and I keep thinking about a beautiful throw. I haven’t given in... yet.

David Linley, a nephew of the Queen, is an English furniture-maker and honorary UK chairman of the auction house Christie’s
Your address: The St. Regis Mumbai



A trattoria in Rome
by Anna Fendi

Trattoria Al Moro, Vicolo delle Bollette 13, Rome
This will always be my favorite place to eat in Rome; it’s where my husband took me on our first date, and we discovered we had the same favorite dish. It’s like stepping inside a time capsule, with the walls of its three smallish dining rooms covered in newspaper clippings and photographs. It’s full of history: Mario Romagnoli (whose nickname was Il Moro) started it in 1929, and it’s now run by the third generation of Romagnolis, who have served every artist, performer and filmmaker who has come to Rome. The staff are also part of the restaurant’s appeal: older Italian men, who are kind and attentive, especially with difficult customers like me. Although they’re well known for their spaghetti al Moro (a piccante reinterpretation of carbonara), my favorite is zuppa di arzilla, a humble Roman soup with fresh vegetables and stingray, which is incredibly delicate and delicious. They also have an extensive wine list, handwritten in a giant book. Everything about it is special, which is why it’s full of Romans.

Anna Fendi is head of development for her family’s fashion brand.
In 2016 she launched her own tableware and wine company
Your address: The St. Regis Rome



A Scandinavian
gallery in New York
by Eva-Lotta Sjöstedt

Scandinavia House, 58 Park Avenue, New York
The American-Scandinavian Foundation, established in 1911, opened the Scandinavia House at the start of the millennium as a showplace for Scandinavian culture and life. Today it has several exhibitions a year, ranging from photography and painting to fashion and literature. From outside, it’s quite modern-looking: a discreet entrance, near the best shops in and around Madison Avenue, framed by flags from Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland. Inside, you see extraordinary things that you’d never see elsewhere; a few years ago, for example, there was a beautiful exhibition of paintings from the Danish Golden Age from the private collection of John L. Loeb Jr., the former US ambassador to Denmark. The center puts on exhibitions that explore nature and sustainability, concerts, panel discussions and film screenings that focus on Nordic life. It’s very special to me; not only is it a place to keep in touch with my Nordic heritage, it’s also a Scandinavian sanctuary in the middle of the hustle and bustle of New York.

Eva-Lotta Sjöstedt is CEO of the Danish design brand Georg Jensen
Your address: The St. Regis New York


A Tibetan café in Lhasa
by Jean-Michel Gathy

Mayke Ame, Barkhor Street, Lhasa
In Tibet, everything people do has a religious and spiritual value. The most important temple in Lhasa is the Jokhang, which is surrounded by sub-temples, and a long path, about a kilometer long, which goes around the edge of the complex. Tibetan pilgrims walk around it, clockwise, praying and turning prayer wheels as they go, and perhaps stopping off for some refreshment afterwards. Of many restaurants near the temple, I particularly like a very Tibetan one that is always full of local people. It’s two levels high: on ground level is the owner’s house, and about 12ft above that, a mezzanine restaurant. Its architectural language is simple, unadorned – it’s merely a place to stop and eat after you’ve finished your prayers. Unlike the temples below, which are incredibly peaceful, up there it’s chaotic: packed with tables and Tibetans in religious dress. There’s a real spirit about it, a real soul. You could stay there three hours just watching people come and go, and walking around below, doing their prayers in an uninterrupted line. You don’t go for the comfort, or the food. They eat yak, which they cook in yak butter, so it’s incredibly fatty and rich, with a local big fat potato from the Himalayas, and beans with a tomato sauce. I try not to eat – you wouldn’t unless you were incredibly hungry; I usually have tea. The people serving are all lovely Tibetans: high-cheekboned, black-haired, smiling people with reddish skin. It’s a bit like going to Café de Flore in Paris; you don’t go for the food, you go for the street life.

Jean-Michel Gathy is a leading hotel designer
Your address: The St. Regis Lhasa


A Little Place I Know

A South Indian
restaurant in Mumbai
by Naeem Khan


Trishna, Sai Baba Marg, Kala Ghoda, Fort, Mumbai

I first ate at Trishna ten years ago, and now whenever I’m back in Mumbai I just have to go there. The restaurant is hidden away in a back street in the Kala Ghoda area, which has a lot of art galleries and cafés. It’s been there for about 50 years and is owned by a family from Mangalore, which is on the coast in South India. As Mumbai restaurants go, it’s not particularly cool or fashionable, but it serves the best food in the world. The first time I went to Trishna I was a bit surprised – the furniture is basic, it’s quite dark, with pictures of Mangalore and a large fish tank – but I’d heard so much about it from my brothers I thought, “OK, I’m willing to experiment.” Since then it has become a bit of a hotspot, with a more international clientele, though the décor hasn’t changed. The menu mainly consists of Konkani or Mangalorean cuisine, so there’s a lot of fish and seafood. The best thing is the giant crabs. The way they prepare them with chili and garlic is just incredible. For me, Trishna is the taste of India. It’s not northern Indian cooking, which is predominantly Mughal, it’s South Indian, which means things like light coconut curries, steamed lentils, seafood and grilled fish, so it’s much healthier. It’s spicy though, which I love. For Indian food to be really special the ingredients have to be totally fresh. At Trishna you can tell that the coconuts have just been picked and the spices are all freshly ground. The crabs couldn’t be fresher: they actually bring a huge live crab to your table before they cook it. These days I go to Trishna about twice a year, usually for a family gathering. My brothers and sisters and I have been going there for 10 years, so it has a lot of happy memories. Going there has become a kind of joyful family ritual, with delicious food.

Naeem Khan is an Indian-American fashion designer based in New York
Your address: The St. Regis Mumbai

A vintage perfume
shop in Bangkok
by Simon Westcott


Karmakamet, Chatuchak Weekend Market, facebook

This tiny little perfume shop is the sort of place you really have to look out for. Actually, you’ll probably smell it before you see it. Inside, it feels like an old-fashioned Thai pharmacy, full of dark wood shelving with scratched mirrored walls and medicine cabinets stocked with the most beautiful candles, fragrances and perfumes. The brand has been around since the 1970s, and the shop since 2001, selling the most intoxicating melange of essential oils, room fragrances, perfumes and all things scent-related. Although they use ingredients from all over the world, there’s a distinctly Asian influence in their scents, which include East Indian Sandalwood, Silver Needle White Tea and Siamese Lemongrass Peppermint. Each product comes in such beautiful vintage, hand-made packaging that you almost don’t want to open it. I’ve got so addicted to their scents that whenever I’m in Bangkok, I stock up. Products I buy most are the room diffusers, in scents like the earthy, masculine Egyptian Fig and zingy, fresh Pomegranate; travel candles, which I take wherever I go; and stashes of things to give as gifts. Last time I bought a Siamese Lemongrass Peppermint candle, and whenever I light it, I’m transported back to leisurely evenings in Thailand, sitting in the warm, heady heat listening to the cry of a nearby gecko. Lots of brands have tried to emulate it, but this place is the real deal.

Simon Westcott is head of Luxe City Guides, which offers sophisticated, opinionated pocket-sized guides to 36 cities around the globe
Your address: The St. Regis Bangkok

An Istanbul emporium
of objects for bathing
by Rifat Özbek


Abdulla, beside Fez Café, Grand Bazaar, abdulla.com

If I had to recommend just one shop in Istanbul it would be Abdulla, on Halicilar Street in the Grand Bazaar. It’s a totally unique shopping experience that offers the best of traditional and contemporary Turkey. The bulk of what Abdulla sells was made especially for the hammam, or Turkish steam bath. He has the very finest quality hand-loomed peshtemals, or Turkish towels, which are 100 per cent natural cotton, luxuriously thick and tasseled. He has such a beautiful range, all neatly folded in perfect little piles. As well as stocking specialist objects for the hammam, such as takunyas (wooden hammam slippers), keten zincir (scrubbing mitts), ponza (scrubbing brushes) and tas (small metal bowls), Abdulla also sells robes, scarves, hand thrown ceramics and a few fun pieces and divine vintage treasures that may include a rare piece of tribal jewelry or clothing. His soaps have a great following because they are 100 per cent natural, made with olive oil and scented with herbs and flowers: juniper, sandalwood, nettle, almond, citronella. He really has done all the work for you when it comes to sourcing and manufacturing using the best local craftsmanship. Once you’ve browsed his wonderful wares you can pop next door to his Fes Café, with its wonderful old brick arched ceilings, for delicious traditional treats such as baklava and sweet apple pie, accompanied, perhaps, by a cup of thick Turkish coffee or fresh mint tea, served on a beautiful old metal tray, with a glass of water and a little toothpick with a square of delicious lokum, or Turkish delight. A lovely way to end a shopping trip.

Rıfat Özbek is a Turkish fashion designer who transforms vintage fabrics into cushions sold at Yastik in Istanbul, Le Bon Marché in Paris and Dwell in New York
Your address: The St. Regis Istanbul

A museum of
Islamic antiquities
in Cairo by Dr. Zahi Hawass


Gayer-Anderson Museum, Ahmed Ibn Tolon, sca-egypt.org

The Gayer-Anderson Museum is situated right next to the oldest mosque in Cairo, Ibn Tulun. The building it’s housed in has had many owners over the years, one of whom was a woman from Crete, which is how it became known as Beit al-Kritliyya [“house of the Cretan woman”]. It actually consists of two houses. Between them there’s a passage leading to the eastern door of the mosque. When I was young, I used to travel from my village to stay with my aunt. I would visit the pyramids and then play soccer with friends in the streets around this house. The first time I saw it, something about it touched my heart. Its architecture is truly unique. The museum itself takes its name from Major R.G. Gayer-Anderson, an English army officer who in 1935 wrote a letter to the Committee of Arab Antiquities asking to live in the house. He told them he would furnish it in Islamic style, and fill it with precious antiquities. He also promised that, when he died, he would leave everything to them. The committee approved and Anderson began collecting Islamic furniture and artifacts from Egypt, Syria, Asia, Persia, China and Europe. He lived there until 1942, when he was forced to leave Egypt due to ill health. The houses were turned into a museum about 40 years ago. My favorite exhibits are the ostrich egg and the mazwalla [sundial] found in the mosque of Ibn Qalawun, which was used as a watch to announce the time for prayer. I also love the objects that belonged to Gayer-Anderson, displayed in his office, such as his gramophone, typewriter, bottles, personal photographs and a decree from King Farouk. It’s a fascinating window into the past.


Archaeologist Dr. Zahi Hawass is the former Egyptian Minister of Antiquities
Your address: The St. Regis Cairo

A Little Place I Know

A stylish menswear
boutique in New York
by Jonathan Adler


Grahame Fowler, 138 W 10th Street, grahamefowler.com

Grahame Fowler is located in Greenwich Village, which happens to be where I live and where I have one of my four New York stores. I may be biased but I think it’s the best neighborhood in the city. When I first moved to New York in the early 1990s, the Village was an alternative universe where any creative dream could become a reality. That spirit still infuses the neighborhood. The store is a petite little thing with curiosities piled up in the single window. It’s tiny, twinkly and alluring, filled top to bottom with everything you need – and everything you didn’t know you needed – to be a smart, stylish dude. Even if you’re not naturally smart or stylish, if you shop here, no one will know. The owner, Grahame Fowler, is as divine as his West Village jewel box of a shop. I hate it when people use the word “curated” for anything other than an art exhibition, but Grahame has done an impeccable job assembling the best bits and bobs from around the world. He’s the nicest guy and has the best taste. With everything piled high, it’s like the chic-est yard sale you’ve ever been to. It’s my go-to shop to stock up on Trickers wingtips. They’re simultaneously chunky yet refined and if you re-sole them they’ll last longer than you will. Whenever I’m there I also look at the vintage Rolexes (but never buy) and I’ve never said no to a cardigan. Your granny had it right when she warned you that you never know when you might catch a chill.

Jonathan Adler is a potter, designer and author
Your address: The St. Regis New York

A Room at the National
Air & Space Museum
in Washington
by Nick English


NASM, Independence Ave, 6th Street SW, airandspace.si.edu

Having grown up in and around aviation, and being a pilot myself, one of my favorite places is the National Air & Space Museum in Washington, D.C.  I love the juxtaposition of the old and new in there, the earliest inventions and the latest in aviation and aerospace technology. When you first step through the doors, above you is the Spirit of St. Louis, the plane Lindbergh flew across the Atlantic, which is thrilling, and then up on the first floor is the backup lunar module, which gives me chills every time I see it. Although the building is enormous – holding more than 60,000 objects, as well as photographs, videos and documents – within it is a small space that’s particularly special. This is the room in which the 1903 Wright Flyer is kept: the first successful heavier-than-air powered aircraft made by the Wright brothers. Around the pavilion, there are illustrations, artifacts and instruments associated with the Wrights’ pursuit of flight, and in the center of the space is the plane itself. Although it appears to have little in common with today’s aircraft, resembling a bundle of wire and cables, parts of which are covered in cloth, there’s much of it that remains the same in aircraft today. It’s an extraordinary piece of engineering – and one I love so much that we persuaded the Wright Family Foundation to give us some of the original material from it to put into a few of the limited-edition watches we make. I can visit this room time and time again, to see the plane and hear stories about it, told by volunteers. These folks exude the same passion for aviation that drove many of the pioneers of flight. Whenever I leave this museum I feel even more inspired to achieve my goals.

Nick English is co-founder of aviation-themed watchmaker Bremont
Your address: The St. Regis Washington, D.C.

A Lebanese sheesha
restaurant in Doha
by Dominick Farinacci


Lebanese Village Restaurant, Salwa Road, facebook.com/lv.qatar

This sheesha restaurant on the busy Salwa Road is easy to miss; the best way to identify it is by the sign above the door, which is in the colors of the Lebanese flag, decorated with a cedar tree. Inside, the first thing you see is a cloud of delicious-smelling sheesha smoke, and then beyond that, a lovely Lebanese man with slicked-back hair who finds you the perfect table, takes your order (my favorite is Double Apple), then delivers a three-foot-high sheesha. Another man walks around with a cast-iron pot full of glowing charcoal to make sure everyone’s sheesha is perfect. You often hear people shouting “Fahem, fahem”, calling him over to replace their charcoal. Because everyone knows it’s one of the best sheesha places in town, it’s always filled with locals and Gulf residents in national dress, either relaxing on weathered white leather couches or passionately conversing beneath walls lined with photos of Lebanese icons. The menu is illustrated with beautiful photographs of Lebanon, and the dishes are equally appealing, from hummus and spicy potatoes to kibbeh neyah. The latter is something I thought I’d never eat and now adore: raw beef or lamb with spices, to which you add olive oil, a mint leaf and a piece of raw onion before wrapping it in bread. Delicious! Another thing I love here is that everyone is treated like family; having lived in Doha for two years, I have come to realize how hospitable, caring and respectful the Arab community is. For me, coming here with friends, hanging out on the couches with great food and service, all make for the perfect night out.

Dominick Farinacci is the former Global Ambassador
to Jazz at Lincoln 
CenterYour address: The St. Regis Doha

An East meets West interiors
store in Kuala Lumpur
by Evelyn Hii


Ambiance, G Village, 35 Jalan Desa Pandan, ambiance.com.my

Ambiance is a fabulous collection of Asian furnishings, paintings and curios that I discovered only recently. Located in a new building, G Village, with stunning views of Kuala Lumpur’s city center, it’s a large, airy space stuffed full of treasures, many of them small enough to put in your suitcase if you’re just visiting KL. The atmosphere in the store is very relaxed; you’re free to browse to your heart’s content, which you really need to do – even on the  fourth circuit I always discover special something that I hadn’t spotted before. The owners, Jim Moore and Jason Long, are Scottish and Malaysian respectively, a character mix reflected in the fusion of products they sell. They personally source every item – many of which are one-off discoveries they’ve made on their travels around Asia – and they can always give you a great deal of detail about each piece. Jason’s mother, sister, brother, niece and brother-in-law also work at Ambiance, making it a real family business, in classic Asian style. The whole shop bursts with color in its lamps, furniture, ceramics, fabrics, candles, gems, trinkets. They have two other stores in KL but, like a box of chocolates, I’m saving each to savor separately. Best of all, twice a week Jim and Jason open up their home in Damansara Heights to regular customers for coffee mornings. Ambiance is unique to Kuala Lumpur, a treasure trove of all things Asian. That makes it a very special place for me.

Evelyn Hii is the owner of No Black Tie, Kuala Lumpur’s
most famous jazz club. 
Your address: The St. Regis Kuala Lumpur

A Little Place I Know

A bar for all moods in Singapore by Maria Grachvogel

Kilo Lounge, 66 Kampong Bugis, kilokitchen.com
Because I now have a shop in Singapore, I’m there quite often, and this bar is my favorite. It’s in a little backwater called Kallang, close to the river in an old storage warehouse, so it’s very much off the beaten track and not easy to find. I only discovered it because a couple of years ago a friend suggested we meet there one evening. To be honest, when the taxi dropped me off, I wondered if I had come to the right place. It was only when I heard noise coming from the minimalist warehouse ahead that I ventured in. The room has a raw, industrial look with polished concrete floors and relaxed seating that give it the feel of a homely loft. It’s also open on two sides, which allows a cooling breeze to waft through. Although they cook great Eastern food here, it’s the cocktails that my friends and I enjoy most. I usually have a spicy margarita with jalapeño-infused tequila and citrus salt, or the fresh but complex mojito, which is infused with coriander, basil and mint. As well as friendly and attentive staff, Kilo Lounge has a lovely atmosphere. In the early evening it’s very relaxed, an ideal place to meet friends for a cocktail. Later, they have amazing music, and sometimes club nights, which are great fun for people like me who love to dance. What makes it special is that it offers so many different experiences in one place, so there’s something to do whatever mood you’re in.

Fashion designer Maria Grachvogel’s elegantly draped pieces are sold in boutiques around the world, from Laguna Beach and Dubai to Singapore
Your address: The St. Regis Singapore

A vintage fashion boutique in Los Angeles by Georgina Chapman

LILY et Cie, 9044 Burton Way, Beverly Hills, lilyetcie.com
Burton Way, the boulevard on which this beautiful vintage shop is situated, is the Park Avenue of Beverly Hills. The building itself dates back to 1923 and has wide windows that are known for their creative displays. Beneath 18ft-high ceilings are stunning architectural columns and wonderful Art Deco details, such as 1920s lanterns from I. Magnin. But of course it is the inventory that makes this shop remarkable. The racks are filled with important pieces from every great label and brand, all in immaculate condition. The owner, Rita Watnick, worked for Van Cleef & Arpels and Cartier as well as for prestigious fashion houses, so the store’s jewelry is equally fabulous. Watnick works alongside her husband Michael Stoyla, and the seven-strong staff have been together for a very long time. The collection of haute couture is unparalleled. They currently own one of the only two Alexander McQueen Oyster gowns (the other is at the Met in New York), the Black Swan dress worn by Nicole Kidman for the cover of Vogue in 2003, and the amazing YSL cheongsam shown in the Through the Looking Glass exhibition at the Met. But not everything in the shop is as precious; there is lots of fabulous daywear and eveningwear at very approachable prices, as well as bathing suits, sunglasses, shoes and bags. I once bought a pair of beautiful 1950s DeLillo earrings here which I wore to the Oscars. There is really no store like it anywhere.

Georgina Chapman is co-founder of the fashion label Marchesa

A marvelous museum in Doha by Edward Dolman

The Museum of Islamic Art, Waterfront, Doha, mia.org.qa
This museum isn’t really a “little place” since it’s not diminutive in any shape or form. But it is full of so many little treasures that anyone visiting Doha just has to go and visit it. The building is on an island in the bay; you get to it via a long bridge from the corniche, through an avenue of palm trees. From afar, it looks like a medieval fortress. But get up close and you recognize the genius of I. M. Pei, who has designed the building so that light and shade play constantly against its many planes, making its architecture appear timeless. The inside is equally impressive. The entrance hall is a giant domed atrium, with vast windows on all five floors that give spectacular views over the Gulf and West Bay area of Doha. Set around the atrium, in galleries of porphyry and Brazilian lacewood, are masterpieces of Islamic art from the 7th to the 19th centuries. The museum also hosts several exceptional exhibitions each year, of rare and priceless loans as well as pieces from its own treasures, of which there are many including a fabulous collection of Iznik ceramics, whose colors are so vibrant it is hard to believe that many were created more than 500 years ago. It’s not just the exhibitions that attract: the members of staff, drawn from many nationalities and cultures, are highly knowledgeable, gracious and welcoming. Plus, there’s a shop that sells high-quality replicas of some of the treasures on display, and around it a park, which is a lovely environment in which to relax. What’s really unique about this building, though, is its architecture; there is no other structure like it in the world. Just strolling up the palm-lined promenade at dusk is a wonderful experience, and being able to access its world-class collections at midnight during Ramadan is magical.

Edward Dolman is Chairman and CEO of contemporary art auction house Phillips
Your address: The St. Regis Doha

A modern restaurant in Istanbul by Yotam Ottolenghi

Lokanta Maya, Kemankes Caddesi 35a, Karaköy, lokantamaya.com
This little restaurant looks like a smart French bistro, but it’s actually quite a relaxed Turkish spot in the historic district of Beyoglu. This area of Istanbul is a wonderful mix of the old and the new: although it’s steeped in tradition and quite conservative in some ways, there are pockets of creativity. So, alongside meyhaneler – the little drinking houses that serve classic mezze well into the early hours – there are fashion boutiques, hotels, galleries and, in among them, this gorgeous restaurant, owned by the chef Didem Senol. Didem studied at the French Culinary Institute and spent time working in the kitchens of Eleven Madison Park and Le Cirque, both in New York, which is why her food, although Turkish, feels like it’s had a blast of New York energy. All the ingredients Turkish people love – such as stuffed vine leaves, thick yoghurt sauces, grape molasses, olive oil, slow-roasted meats – are there, but in exciting, original small dishes. She makes the type of food I really love, such as herb-packed fritters, cauliflower soup with caramelized pear, slow-cooked lamb with burnt aubergine purée, and tahini ice cream with puréed pumpkin. The decor, which is modern and light, is also great, as is the service: attentive and slick, but relaxed. So it feels chilled but confident at the same time, and modern with a hint of tradition. But then, so much of this city is like that. It’s particularly great to discover on foot, whether you’re strolling along the river or exploring the food market. It’s a city that’s full of good times.

Yotam Ottolenghi is a chef specializing in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine.
His latest book, Nopi: The Cookbook, is published in September
Your address: The St. Regis Istanbul

A Little Place I Know

The Western-inspired restaurant in Park City by Kris “Fuzz” Feddersen

Purple Sage, 434 Main Street, purplesageparkcity.com
If my wife and I get time for a quiet dinner together, this is where we go. Although Purple Sage has been here as long as I can remember – and I’ve lived in this city for 14 years – it’s the sort of place you could walk by and not really notice. From the outside, it’s pretty small and quaint: one of many galleries, restaurants and bars in the lovely historic brick buildings on Main Street. Inside, though, it’s quite contemporary and funky, and really narrow – just wide enough for a row of tables down one side and a small passageway alongside. It’s all really cozy: between the tables they have hung beautiful cream pieces of fabric painted with sage leaves, creating intimate booths, and it’s lit with pale purple glass lights. The back’s slightly different, with a bar painted with cowboys and broncos and Rocky Mountains by local artist Wes Wright. Although the décor is fun, it’s the food we go for. We both always order the same thing: after a cocktail, I have the veal meatloaf with poblano chilli peppers and pine nuts, and my wife has the butternut ravioli. Also, the waiters are clearly all ski-nuts who ski by day, and work here at night: they have that grizzled, outdoors look about them, and clearly love their lives. There are a lot of great restaurants in Park City, but this one is warm, relaxed and homely, so just right for us.

American freestyle skier Fuzz Feddersen competed in three Olympics and coached the gold-medal-winning 1998 US Olympic team. Last year the CEO of Flying Ace Productions was inducted into the Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame
Your address: The St. Regis Deer Valley

The 17th-century pharmacy in Florence by Anna Friel

Pharmacy of Santa Maria Novella, Via della Scala 16, smnovella.it

This is the most beautiful store I have ever been in. You could easily miss it, because it’s tucked away in a road not far from the train station, and only has a little sign outside. But once you’re inside, you can’t believe how much there is within its walls. Founded by Dominican friars, it first opened its doors to the public in 1612.
I discovered it 12 years ago with friends from Siena who had taken us to Florence for the day. Going in through its grand doors was like entering a scene from Patrick Süskind’s novel, Perfume. You can feel the history – and of course, smell it. The minute you enter, you are met with the most incredible fragrances of flowers and essential oils, as well as beautiful ceramic medicinal jars and stunning frescoes on the ceilings. It’s a place to take your time while kind, very knowledgeable members of staff explain about the ingredients in each bottle, and let you sample them. There are 300 types of soap, powders, lotions and perfumes, all made from natural ingredients, using recipes that are hundreds of years old. It’s a place in which I could spend all day learning. If you don’t know what you like or even what suits you, the staff will introduce you to different substances until you do. I usually end up with a few perfumes that I use on their own and combine occasionally to create an entirely new blend. That’s fun, because you’re creating something totally original. I also almost always buy Melgrano Terracotta Pomegranate home fragrance, which is a mix of rose and sandalwood, and a candle that smells like the interior of a local church. I never visit Florence without going there; it has become a treat I look forward to.

The Master Cleanse, starring Johnny Galecki and Anna Friel, is released this year
Your address: The St. Regis Florence

The craft boutique in Singapore by Daniel Boey

Tyrwhitt General Company, 150a Tyrwhitt Road, thegeneralco.sg

You’d never know from the street that this nondescript pre-war building is Singapore’s hippest creative hub. Look around and all you’ll see are hardware stores and old traditional businesses, and around the corner an ancient Buddhist temple. Even on the front of the building, there is only a sign saying Chye Seng Huat Hardware (which is now closed, the space having been turned into a coffee shop). But go inside, climb a flight of stairs, and you feel like you’ve stumbled upon the Magic Faraway Tree. The space is full of incredible curiosities, all designed and made in Singapore. One of the three owners, Sam, is like a walking encyclopedia on the Singapore crafts scene, and can tell you everything about the pieces he stocks and the people who make them. He also runs great workshops over weekends, teaching skills that range from leathercraft and printmaking to ceramics and floral arrangement. Every time I go in, I’m like a kid in a candy store, because there are always creative people hanging out; you might meet musicians, artists, culinary people, the fashion lot, all coming for inspiration, or to make something. It’s also useful because I am constantly on the lookout for new creatives to collaborate with. And there are fantastic items to buy every time I go there, all displayed as they would be in a hardware store on perforated wooden boards, and ranging from a Star Wars-themed lithograph to badges, wallets, skateboards, scent and books by local artists. What’s nice is that it’s a world that is really creative and far from the commercialization of normal retail outlets. It’s a place that feels like a home.

The Book of Daniel: Adventures of a Fashion Insider, chronicling the adventures of Singapore’s “fashion godfather”, is published by Marshall Cavendish
Your address: The St. Regis Singapore

The gourmet deli in Abu Dhabi by Joanne Froggatt

Wafi Gourmet, Nation Galleria Mall, 1st Street, wafigourmet.com

The very last place you’d expect to find a traditional deli is in a smart mall in the middle of a city of skyscrapers. From the outside, it looks like any other high-end delicatessen. But the minute you walk in, your senses are overloaded with delicious aromas and incredible delicacies arranged in beautiful patterns and colors, and the most impressive hampers I’ve ever seen. It’s owned by Dubai’s H. E. Sheikh Mana Bin Khalifa Al Maktoum and is packed with every edible treat you could want, from olives, pickles, oils and salads to pastries, lentils, tagines, fresh breads, fresh fish and kebabs as well as sweet treats such as dried fruits, nougat and ice cream; the list goes on and on. The best thing of all is that you can sample it all before you buy. When I was there recently, we ended up trying cabbage stuffed with mild, creamy labneh cheese, bright pink pickled turnip, eggplant stuffed with tomatoes, walnuts and chilies, and a selection of olive salads, which were all fresh and delicious. I like the fact that you can take the food home, or eat it on a lovely balcony with views of the beach; plus, the waiter can bring you a selection, so you can try new things. You’re encouraged to take your time, so we ended up also trying a selection of traditional sweet pastries, which involved lots of syrup, pistachios and cashews – heaven! – and Moroccan tea served in a beautiful silver pot. In a modern, bustling city like this, it is the perfect place in which to sit for a while, look out to sea and watch the world go by, with a tummy full of treats. The deli is always full of locals, too, smoking shisha and having leisurely lunches, which is probably the best recommendation you could ever want.

Joanne Froggatt has twice been nominated for an Emmy Award for her performances as Anna Bates in Downton Abbey, and won a Golden Globe in 2015
Your address: The St. Regis Abu Dhabi; The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, Abu Dhabi
Issue 1 - A Little Place I Know - Image 1

A Little Place I Know

Issue 1 - A Little Place I Know - Image 1

Santa Maria Novella, Florence by Jason Wu

Florence is a great city for walking, which is how I came across the Officina Profuma-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella (to give it its full Italian name). This exquisite old apothecary celebrated its 400th birthday last year, but has been in existence since 1221, when Dominican friars from the nearby church grew herbs for medicinal purposes. Whenever I walk into this cool, dignified building, I always feel as if I am stepping into a church, with its vaulted ceilings, arched entrances, tiled floors and tall, elegant proportions. It’s like going back in time, with all the bottles, glass-fronted cabinets and neatly attired staff.
What I love most about it – aside from its palatial interiors – are the beautiful scented products. Everything is handmade, from soaps and creams to the famous colognes and fragrances. Lily of the valley, rose, violet, jasmine, honeysuckle and iris are just a few of the scents that fill the air. “The Water of the Queen” was created here for Catherine de’ Medici in the 1500s, a combination of citrus and bergamot, and is still Santa Maria Novella’s signature scent today. The apothecary is presided over by a very elegant Italian gentleman called Eugenio Alphandery, who keeps one foot in the past with his dedication to old-world traditions while keeping his eye on the future of the brand. But everything is organic and made by artisanal methods and I love it that many of the ingredients are grown locally in the hills around Florence. The packaging is really gorgeous, too. Santa Maria Novella is a feast for the senses, its old-fashioned ways a welcome respite from the craziness of the 21st-century world outside its doors.

Jason Wu is a St. Regis Connoisseur. His Grand Tourista Bag, crafted for a new generation of global traveler, was inspired by the hotel brand’s perspective on today’s grand tour. St. Regis Boutique

Your address: The St. Regis Florence

Berry Bros. & Rudd, London by Jancis Robinson

I first discovered this lovely old wood-panelled wine shop in the 1970s, when I started to write about wine. Berry Bros. had been there for a very long time by then. It was founded as a coffee shop at the end of the 17th century, and they still have the scales that were used to weigh the coffee – and the clientele. Lord Byron, William Pitt and the Aga Khan were all weighed here, and regular customers can do the same to this day. The place is an extraordinary slice of history. It has uneven floorboards, high wooden desks (with PCs hidden within), a warren of rooms to the side and wine-filled cellars below. In the 1930s, Charles Walter Berry (the place is still owned and run by Berrys and Rudds) took what was then considered the extraordinarily adventurous step of touring the wine regions of France. Before that, English wine merchants stayed at home and required their vast imports of wine to come to them. These days, the chairman, Simon Berry, has cleverly retained the historic aura of Berry Bros while pioneering all sorts of 21st-century initiatives, such as online retailing and a Hong Kong operation. The historic cellars are now hired out as event spaces and do duty as a wine school. They also hold a lot of tastings, so I’m there at least four times a year. I have many fond memories of meals eaten there, but probably my favourite is of a dinner held in aid of Wine Relief, at which one half of a couple bid £20,000 for a prize lot – without the agreement of the other half! If Berry Bros and Rudd were to close, I’d think that life as we know it had ceased.

Jancis Robinson’s latest book Wine Grapes is published by Allen Lane, £120. jancisrobinson.com
Issue 1 - A Little Place I Know - Image 2
Issue 1 - A Little Place I Know - Image 3

The Brooklyn Farmacy & Soda Fountain, New York by Alain Ducasse

I just adore this place, which locals affectionately call “The Farm”. It was my co-author, Alex Vallis, who first introduced me to the Brooklyn Farmacy & Soda Fountain, and I was touched by the old-fashioned styling, which retains the original pharmaceutical cases and penny-tile floor. And it’s good to know that this delightful Brooklyn enterprise has helped revive interest in the great American soda fountains that existed in big cities and small towns from the late 19th century to the 1960s. Like those wonderful places, this modern-day version offers sweet, homemade soft drinks and the staple – chocolate egg cream. I’ll never forget the first time I tried this dangerously addictive dessert-drink made from chocolate syrup, soda water and cream. The cool, fizzy, chocolate concoction evokes dreams of a mythical golden age in New York. And, trust me, you will always find room for the egg cream. I truly believe that co-owners and siblings Gia Giasullo and Peter Freeman, whose father was a shopkeeper in Greenwich Village for 30 years, have preserved a piece of culinary history. The Farmacy has become part of the fabric – some might say the heart – of this quaint Carroll Gardens neighborhood, and it wouldn’t be the same without it. The shop is lined with shelves of local artisanal foods, helping to sustain and promote the neighborhood – I like that. Every chance I get when I’m in New York, I come to recharge my batteries. It’s about simple pleasures, with a generous helping of nostalgia. Kids from one to 92 will find something in this place; that which is authentic never goes out of style.

J’aime New York, by Alain Ducasse and Alex Vallis, is published by Alain Ducasse Editions, $100.

Your address: The St. Regis New York

Palazzo Spada, Rome by Iwona Blazwick

The combination of the greatest architectural monuments in the world – the Pantheon, the Colosseum, St. Peter’s – fantastic weather, close friends and a burgeoning contemporary art scene make Rome a perennial destination. But I also love its hidden quirks and secrets, and one of my favorite places is Palazzo Spada on Piazza Capo di Ferro. I love the fact that the arcade is both a serious architectural composition and an optical illusion – the Baroque artists were brilliant at playing with perspective. My parents were architects and I almost studied it, so this is a perfect combination of architecture and the art of trompe l’oeil. The artist Cesare Pietroiusti first revealed this marvel to me. It was a cardinal, a mathematician and a sculptor who joined forces in 1632 to create this astonishing optical illusion in the heart of the city. The 16th-century palazzo was bought by Cardinal Spada, who commissioned the starchitect of his day, Francesco Borromini, to add a Baroque flourish. Borromini built a 40-metre colonnade which looks down on to an elegant marble statue. If you look along this beautiful arcade, you will see the spectacle of live cougars leaping across its colonnaded perspective. The shocking truth is, however, that it is only meters long and the statue a miniature 60cm high. The mountain lions are just stray cats made to look hair-raisingly enormous by the false perspective plotted with the help of a mathematician. Add to this the Palazzo Spada Collection, which includes Andrea del Sarto, Brueghel, Caravaggio, Dürer, Rubens and Titian, plus Artemisia Gentileschi, the sole woman artist to gain recognition from the Baroque period – and you have a very special place indeed.

Your address: The St. Regis Rome
Issue 1 - A Little Place I Know - Image 4
Issue 2 - A Little Place I Know - Image 4

A Little Place I Know

Issue 2 - A Little Place I Know - Image 1

The craft shop in Bangkok by David Yeo

35 Soi 40, Th Charoen Krung, Bangkok

Although most of the shops along this busy, narrow street cater to tourists, this unique store in a former monastery can be found among a cluster of interesting antique shops. Stepping inside Thai Home Industries is like being transported on to a dusty film set back in the days when Somerset Maugham stayed nearby. It’s family-owned –they’ve had it for four generations – and the staff, who all appear to be in their sixties, are laid-back and charming. I don’t think they even have an electronic till; all sales are handwritten on a simple ledger, and their only nod to modern times is a credit-card machine.

One of the things I particularly love is that there seems to have been no thought as to how products are displayed. They are stuffed randomly into whatever space is available, which makes for a very interesting visit because you are never quite sure what is in the next display cabinet, except that it will be whimsical and a delight. In one there might be finely woven rattan fruit baskets and highly polished mother-of-pearl shells; in another, embroidered napkins and hand-beaten wrought-iron platters.

The bronze bowls – or khan long hin – are my favorite. Used to offer gifts in Thai Buddhist rituals, they come from the tiny bronzesmith village of Baan Phu in Thonburi province and are incredibly time-consuming to make. First, raw copper, tin, and a special type of particularly malleable gold are melted together in a charcoal-fired cauldron to create the unique blend of liquified bronze. Once that is set, each piece will be worked and polished by a master craftsman. They are unique not only in Bangkok but in the whole of the country, as are many of the objects at Thai Home Industries.

In 2012 David Yeo was named Asia Pacific Restaurateur of the Year by the World Gourmet Series. 
Your address: The St. Regis Bangkok

A global market in Manhattan by Donna Karan

705 Greenwich Street, New York, urbanzen.com

It’s like a sophisticated global market, every piece selected according to who produces it. There is handmade furniture and pottery from Bali, handcut lace bedlinen from Vietnam, myriad artisanal jewelry made of bead and bone, papier-mâché shopping bags, tobacco-leaf vases…

I’m obsessed with preserving culture through artisanal crafts because they’ve been passed on from generation to generation. And with artisanal pieces you can feel the hand that created it – personal, one-of-a-kind, made just for you. Even when an artisan makes the same pieces, no two are ever identical, so you’re buying something special.

To me, any time you have an artisan make something, you are supporting the artist, their family and, by association, their community. Some projects were set up for specific reasons; for instance, the Urban Zen Haiti Artisan Project was established in conjunction with the Clinton Global Initiative to help create business opportunities for Haitians after the earthquake of 2010.

Another thing I enjoy is the pride with which everyone at Urban Zen works. They’re aware of being a part of something bigger than a typical retail store, that ten per cent of sales goes to support the Urban Zen Foundation – and that there’s a story behind what they’re selling.

I fall in love with the place every time I go in there. It’s so evocative of other cultures, with comfortable furniture to sit on, tribal music playing and the scents of essential oils in the air. It feels like someone’s exotic home. I’m constantly discovering new things, and I have never walked out without a bag in my hand.

Donna Karan’s Urban Zen Foundation is at urbanzen.org
Your address: The St. Regis New York
Issue 2 - A Little Place I Know - Image 2
Issue 2 - A Little Place I Know - Image 3

The wine shop in Rome by Olivier Krug

Via dei Prefetti 15, 00186 Rome, enotecalparlamento.com

I discovered the Enoteca al Parlamento about nine years ago, walking with my son, whom I had taken to Rome on his own for his 10th birthday. Walking down a tiny street near the Palazzo Montecitorio, the Italian parliament, right in the heart of the city, we spotted three windows: not big, but filled with beautiful bottles. So we went in, and spent hours there. The owners, a charming man, Daniele Tagliaferri, and his wife, Cinzia Achilli, whose father Gianfranco founded the shop, have built it up to be the best wine shop in Rome. It has got more than 10,000 bottles from all over the world and all sorts of spirits, including cognacs and armagnacs from 1800, which they tell me they would never sell. What was wonderful was that, when we went in, they had dozens of empty bottles of Krug signed by my family, who unbeknownst to me had been there before us, as well as photographs on the wall of our old Krug Rolls-Royce delivery car.

Now whenever I’m in Rome I go back. It’s a great combination of a little restaurant, a delicatessen and a traditional wine shop.

One minute you’re walking in, and hours later you’re struggling out having bought almost everything. The food is incredible. I usually end up having four courses – mostly pasta – and then spend ages deciding what to take away: they have 80-year-old balsamic vinegars, pickled mushrooms, grilled onions, olive oils, honeys and jams. And incredible cheeses. I always leave with mozzarella and parmesan (although I’ve learnt that you can’t take mozzarella in your hand luggage, so now if I’m going to Rome I carry check-in luggage).

Cinzia is also a chocolate specialist, and I usually leave licking my fingers, having been given one of her premier-cru chocolates as a treat. The family have become friends, and now often come to stay just before Christmas, bringing with them a little picnic of treats for us. When we walked into that shop the first time, we never dreamt that would happen.

Oliver Krug is a sixth-generation champagne producer
Your address: The St. Regis Rome

A cool hardware store in London by Bruce Pask

85 Redchurch Street, London, labourandwait.co.uk

Since I started exploring Shoreditch in East London a few years ago, it has undergone a transformation not unlike that of Williamsburg in New York, where an authentic, formerly “textured”, shall we say, neighborhood has become a bit of a scene. Labour and Wait is on the corner of a great street, which has changed almost out of recognition in recent years. The rounded facade is covered in beautiful green glazed tiles which make it look as though it’s been there for many years. The interior feels like a cross between an old hardware store and a design museum: full of utilitarian items and household gadgets carefully curated and beautifully presented.

The staff wear these great work aprons, which lends it the mood of a dry-goods shop from yesteryear. They also maintain a hushed, respectful air, allowing customers to quietly ponder their purchases. I find it all quite relaxing and so contrary to the craziness one finds in most stores these days. When I walk in, time slows down. It inspires a pensiveness, a quiet reverence for beautifully functional, everyday objects that have stood the test of time by being well made and utterly useful.

I often seek out hardware stores when I travel because each country has its own unique everyday objects. The products here are specifically English and although they may seem quite old-fashioned, they are very useful: handmade brushes, pendant lamps, enamel kitchenware and beautiful wooden toilet brushes paired with a slender galvanized bucket. They also carry the loveliest vintage Welsh blankets.

I love walking up Brick Lane on a Sunday, popping into Labour and Wait, followed by another great clothing store, Hostem, followed by the Owl and Pussycat for the most delicious fireside Sunday roast. It’s my favorite way to spend a Sunday in London. I never leave the city without paying a visit.

Bruce Pask is men’s fashion director of T: The New York Times Style Magazine 

Issue 2 - A Little Place I Know - Image 4
Issue 2 - A Little Place I Know - Image 5

A pottery paradise in San Francisco by Michael S. Smith

2900 18th Street, San Francisco. heathceramics.com

Right in the heart of Industrial San Francisco, this shop is near the Mission District and Franklin Square, and is painted a soft concrete grey with dramatic red awnings outside. The original Heath Ceramics was started in Sausalito, California, by an artisan potter, Edith Heath, in 1948. It is now run by the creative couple Catherine Bailey and Robin Petravic, who opened this San Francisco outpost in a converted laundry building a year or two ago. Whenever I take clients there, they love it because it has incredibly high ceilings and large windows, so it is airy and open, and has lots of space they can wander round for inspiration.

Everywhere you look, there are not only amazing hand-fired rustic ceramic dishes and cookware, but gifts, vases, glasses, maple boards and place settings in beautiful linen. The walls of tiles are useful because you can see what they look like en masse, or in combinations. For me, the go-to products are the coffee mugs – they fit my hand really comfortably and coffee and tea just seem to taste better from them. Sometimes fine porcelain just won’t do in a casual setting, whereas these always feel comfortable and relaxed.

I think their merchandising team has done wonders to highlight the soft yet brilliant colors they offer. And they always have seasonal highlights, so the products are never exactly the same – this summer they had pretty, soft greens and powder blues (although I would also recommend the Aqua and Redwood ranges).

All the staff are extremely helpful and attentive. I’ve used them to help send gifts, and they take care of everything, from suggesting place settings and style options to wrapping and delivery. It helps that they send it in wonderful packaging, because it makes every piece feel even more special.

Michael Smith has been decorator to the White House since 2009.

His book, Building Beauty: The Alchemy of Design, is published by Rizzoli
Your address: The St. Regis San Francisco

A speakeasy in Singapore by Wei Koh

583 Orchard Road, Singapore

Entering the Horse’s Mouth is like going into a speakeasy – you feel like you’ve discovered some kind of hidden gem. The entrance is actually inside a ramen restaurant, where you least expect to find it. What always amazes me, and what I especially love about this bar, is the fact that it is on Orchard Road, which is an absolutely teeming part of Singapore – a city reknowned for the density of its population – and yet for some reason not that many people seem to know about it. In reality it’s a cross between a classic cocktail bar and a Japanese izakaya – the kind of little place you find everywhere in Japan where they serve snacks as well as drink, and where people go after work. But at the Horse’s Mouth they serve seriously good food. In fact, everything they do, they do well, with care and an attention to detail and style – including really good cocktails. For me, the Horse’s Mouth makes the perfect transition from day to night, from business to pleasure, and from week to weekend. I always recommend it to anyone visiting Singapore, and I tell people to ask for the bartender, Louis, and his Bison Grass martini. You can’t go wrong with that.

Wei Koh is editorial director of The Rake and Revolutions

Your address: The St. Regis Singapore
Issue 2 - A Little Place I Know - Image 6