France in summer: Three ways to do it in style

Skip your usual vacation spot this summer, and go to France. You need a break from the norm (I sure do), and there are some great deals all over the country that make it hard to resist getting on a plane for seven hours of smelling the passenger crammed in next to you.

Focus on what happens when you hit the ground: it’s worth it.

Bessé Signature Hotels has put together three hotel deals in France that make the burden of air travel worth shouldering. Step off the plane and head to some of the country’s unique contemporary hotels, and you’ll forget all about having your sweaty neighbor’s head on your shoulder for the entire trip across the Atlantic.

Girls: Check out the Hotel Edouard 7 for a girls’ getaway, and you won’t be disappointed. The “Girls Night Out” package includes a suite for three, limousine transfers to and from the airport and three sets of Princesse tam tam pajamas – not to mention a variety of Keihl’s products and a bottle of champagne every day(!). The best part, I suspect, is the three VIP passes to Le Printemps, complete with personal shopping services and a 10 percent discount on all your purchases. As if this isn’t enough, you’ll score breakfast and dinner en suite every day. The deal is good through the end of August and starts at 380 euros a night.

Golf: Pack the ladies of to the Hotel Edouard, and take the guys out to Domaine de la Bretesche, in the Brittany region. Dinner for two every day at the Michelin-starred Montaigu is a nice touch, but that doesn’t compare to having your greens fees covered every day for 18 holes of golf. Get the frustration of the links rubbed out every da at the Spa de la Cour Carree, and you’ll have the perfect golf experience. Rates start at 800 euros a night for two guests, through August 31, 2010.

City: Beat the currency fluctuations with a guaranteed rate of $395 a night at theHotel Bel-Ami in Paris. Good through the end of the year, this deal includes a double superior room and breakfast every day. Explore the city, and dodge the beggars that lurk under the Eiffel Tower. It’s a great time.

Tokyo restaurants tops in Michelin

Tokyo is the top dining city in the world, according to the latest Michelin Guide. With 11 restaurants at three stars, it’s pushed past Paris, the former top dog in the culinary world. Eight of the nine Tokyo restaurants with three starts retained their Michelin ratings year-over-year, and three were bumped up from two stars to three for 2010. Paris has only 10 three-star restaurants in the 2010 Michelin Guide, and New York only has four.

According to Oyvind Naesheim, Nobu Hong Kong’s executive chef, “Tokyo is an unbelievable city for food,” continuing, “The passion and perfection at some top Tokyo restaurants show us why this city is so outstanding in fine dining.”

Two thirds of the 197 Tokyo restaurants listed by Michelin focus on Japanese food, focusing on common styles includingfugu, soba, sukiyaki, tempura and sushi. Three of the 11 three-star spots went to French Restaurants.

In total, Tokyo has 261 stars, more than any other city in the 23 countries that Michelin covers. Look for the list of Tokyo three star restaurants after the jump.

  1. Esaki, Classic Japanese (new)
  2. Ishikawa, Classic Japanese
  3. Joel Robuchon, French
  4. Kanda, Japanese
  5. Koju, Japanese
  6. L’Osier, French
  7. Quintessence, French
  8. Sushi Mizutani, Sushi
  9. Sukiyabashi Jiro Honten, Sushi
  10. Sushi Saito, Sushi (new)
  11. Yukimura, Classic Japanese (new)

Four hotel deals in France this winter

Go to Europe this winter! Bessé Signature Hotels, a collection of some of France‘s most unique contemporary hotels, has three deals that make travel to this inspiring corner of the world easier than ever. At discounts of up to 35 percent, it’s going to be hard to stay home.

At Domaine de la Bretesche, take advantage of the “Winter Promotion” rate to enjoy Brittany for around $280 a night. La Bretesche is a Relais & Chateau property with only 32 rooms and suites wrapped in a fortified 15th century estate. While you’re there, dine at Montaigu, a Michelin-starred restaurant, get rubbed down at the Spa de la Cour Carree and play 18 holes surrounded by a century old forest.

At Hotel Edouard 7 in Paris, start every excursion into the city from avenue de l’Opera, not far from the Louvre and Place Vendome. The latest special involves a “currency guarantee”: book at $399 a night through December 15, 2009, and don’t worry about any swings in the euro. Normally, average euro-denominated rate for this hotel is €345 (which comes out to $512).

The Hotel Bel-Ami is in Paris’ St Germain-des-pres district and is also offering a dollar-denominated guarantee. Book for $395 a night through the end of 2010 to get a double superior room and breakfast daily.

Crash for a night or two at the Hotel Jules in Paris by December 28, 2009, you can save 20 percent and enjoy a complimentary buffet breakfast … for just €160. And, you can add a third night to your stay for only €134.

Michelin comes to Hong Kong. Will it ever be the same?

Michelin, the famous (or infamous) French restaurant guide has been branching out lately. Two years ago, Tokyo became the first Asian city to be visited by the star-giving gourmet food experts. This year, Tokyo received more stars than any other city. For those unfamiliar with the Michelin rating system: 1 star means your restaurant is awesome, two means it is unbelievably awesome, and three means you provide nothing less than orgasmic gourmet experience.

Hong Kong and Macau became the second Asian destination for Michelin. Two restaurants received the coveted three star rating, while two dozen others received one or two stars.

In the US and Europe, a Michelin star can make a chef’s career. The fame doesn’t yet translate in the Pacific Rim. But gourmet cuisine is definitely on the rise in Hong Kong. I hope the coming of Michelin doesn’t change the culinary atmosphere there. What would the city be without the chaotic dim sum joints, the hidden away seafood restaurants, and tiny noodle shops? The whole “food as art” thing has its place. There is nothing wrong with it. But if everyone suddenly goes gourmet, Hong Kong would lose its wild restaurant culture. If that happens, then the whole territory might as well just break off and sink into the South China Seas.

[Via Globespotters and The Standard HK]