The well-traveled life
Lisa Borgnes Giramonti, the gimlet-eyed blogger behind A Bloomsbury Life is back for a second stint on our Editors’ Blog. (See her previous blogs here.) This time around, she’s sharing her resolutions for 2010—and the elegant accoutrements she’s found to help her achieve them. Check back here every Friday for Lisa’s weekly installments.
Part Three : I resolve to keep expanding my horizons, whether it be from the comfort of my red armchair or via planes, trains and automobiles.
A peripatetic childhood in Europe means a love of travel runs deep within me. I voyage not just to change the scenery but to become transformed on the inside as well. Admittedly, in today’s economy, it’s not always possible to set sail for distant shores, so the following list includes a multitude of ways to broaden your orbit, including a few that don’t require venturing past the front door.
I’m not ashamed to say it: When I travel these days, I like to rest my weary head on a pillow with a high thread count. Discovering Splendia.com has been a real godsend. Their website offers a dizzying list of luxury and character hotels for practically every destination and budget, 24/7 customer service and zero booking fee. I’ve used them for hotels in New York, Paris and Marrakech and have slept like a baby on three continents. Splendia.com
Marrakech is full of great hotels; one of the chicest and most under-the-radar is without a doubt La Sultana. Authentically Moroccan, it has welcomed a steady flow of discerning travelers who aren’t altogether thrilled with the renovation of La Mamounia. Composed of five historic riads linked together, La Sultana is a luxury oasis inside the ancient walled medina, just minutes from the souk. We stayed in the “crocodile” room, seen above. lasultanamarrakech.com
Ooh, the eternal search for the perfect wash bag. This one is crying out to accompany you on your next journey, whether it’s around the globe or just across town for a sexy sleepover. Fashioned like a vintage parcel and complete with details like ornamental string, stamps and a hand-written reminder of your nightly ablutions, it makes remembering to take off your eye makeup a no-brainer. bloomsburystore.com
These traditional French syrups are all the rage among children and have been for centuries. In Europe over Christmas, my son couldn’t get enough of the mint syrup diluted with sparkling water and I no doubt owe his good behavior to his predilection for this particular drink. Personally, I’m more partial to the grenadine—not only is it tinted a divine Vreeland red, but a splash adds a note of wickedness to any cocktail. simplygourmand.com
I was given this cookbook over Christmas and, after three weeks in my kitchen, it’s now on my nightstand because it’s so delicious to dip into. Part travelogue, part recipe book, it’s filled with historical anecdotes and stories that reflect the diversity of London’s butchers, bakers and syllabub makers. Leek tarts, rose fairy cakes, ale and beef stew, it’s all in here. If you love food and you love London, this book will have you eating like a local. amazon.co.uk
Argan oil has been touted for centuries for its anti-aging properties, so after visiting a women’s collective in Morocco and being face-to-face with acres of dewy skin, I instantly grabbed a bottle. Unfortunately, it smells like a goat’s bottom (no surprise since goats eat the argan fruit and then excrete out the miracle-rich nut.) But I have to admit my skin is glowing. My next bottle will be Josie Maran’s organic version —her company supports UNESCO women’s organizations and I’m sure she’s worked the kinks (and stinks) out. sephora.com
I am a complete sucker for personalized woven labels. To me, they evoke the fabled worlds of Enid Blyton and Evelyn Waugh, in which posh finishing schools require them and grand hotels can instantly tell whether you’re an aristocrat or an arriviste by your choice of color and fabric. Of course, that’s not my universe, but it doesn’t stop me from wanting to emblazon every stitch of clothing I own. (Black background, white lettering.) Who knows? I just may. itsmineusa.com
If you find yourself in Chicago before March 14th, you absolutely must get yourself to the Bloomsbury exhibit at Northwestern’s Block Museum. Even after all these years, the eponymously named group is still endlessly fascinating (I’m not immune to their charms—I named my blog after them.) No matter what you think of their eccentricities, it’s impossible to disregard their passionate devotion to art, friendship, domesticity and the pursuit of love in its many and varied forms. blockmuseum.northwestern.edu
Fancy a reprieve from the bleakness of midwinter without the expense of a ticket to warmer climes? Stella McCartney’s Nude perfume is like traipsing through a rose garden in Gloucestershire. Redolent with fresh Moroccan rose, peony blossom, grey amber and vanilla, it’s both seductive and subtle and not grandmotherly in the slightest (the way some rose scents can be.) Put it on and you’ll swear it’s not snowing outside. sephora.com
My biggest bugbear about airplane travel isn’t so much the flight delays or the spotty service—I’m resigned to that—but not knowing where the seat I’m sitting in has been. So when my immensely practical friend Hope told me about Plane Sheets, I nearly fell to my knees. Available in coach and first class sizes, Plane Sheets transform a grotty, overused airline seat into a hygienic private sanctuary in seconds. Even better, they’re available in elegant black toile. Charlotte Moss, are you listening? planesheets.com
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