Monday, 12 February 2018

Insiders Guide: Places to Dine in the Red City

Marrakech has a very vibrant and happening restaurant scene. There are a lot of new places opening all the time and of course there are the timeless classics that have been around forever. The fusion between the North African, French, Italian and Asian kitchen creates some interesting menus in many of the newer restaurants and it is always and fun and tasty experience to dine in the Red City. Marrakech is becoming quite the foodie destination and a lot of international tourists come here just for the food.

Seven new, trendy and great places to dine are presented in this blog post, bon appetite!

We have previously listed our favourite restaurants including classics like Grand Cafe de la Poste, La Table of Royal Mansour, Dar Zellij and Le Palace. You can check out previous restaurant guides HERE, HERE and HERE.


North African, French, Italian and the Asian kitchen and fusions between them are popular in Marrakech

But there are so many great new restaurants opening and new favourites added to our list of must-eats that it is high time to update our recommendations. Here are our insider’s guide where to dine in Marrakech:

1. Le Petit Cornichon 

Le Petit Cornichon has been open less than a year and is operated by Erwann Lance, who has several 2- and 3-star Michelin restaurants in Paris and New York on his CV. He was previously in charge of the fine dining restaurant at the ultra-luxury hotel Royal Mansour, he managed to bring both the chef and service staff with him when launching his vision of Le Petit Cornichon. High ambitions, perfectionist cooking, stylish, contemporary and colourful. Service is generally very attentive in high-end Moroccan restaurants, and at Le Petit Cornichon it’s a cut above all the rest. Casual concept and laid-back atmosphere, but what you get on the plates and how it arrives is seriously on the same level as international fine-dining. It really shows that the owner loves his restaurant, he floats around elegantly with the guests (who feel more like guests than customers) every evening and loves to share personal advice and anecdotes on food and wine. The wine list displays intriguing local bottles that you normally won’t find, but also a large selection of exceptional international wines rarely seen in Moroccan restaurants. Le Petit Cornichon has already arrived safely in Marrakech, and it is destined to be a culinary destination. We just love this place and keep coming back for more!

Le Petit Cornichon 

2. Le Trou Au Mur 
This new and very stylish restaurant in the heart of Marrakech Medina is the latest edition to the vibrant restaurant scene in the red city. And what an edition! A true foodie destination that is specialising in historic forgotten Moroccan dishes as well as modern International classics. 

Le Trou Au Mur brings a breath of fresh air to Marrakech. This gem is chic, laid back, fun and intimate but, above all, totally serious about food. The restaurant is fully licenced and features a very nice wine-list. Here you can enjoy an early supper with a glass of wine on the beautiful roof terrace or dine in the chic restaurant. The interior décor is a blend of superb local craftsmanship with the best of modern European style. With its own traditional clay mechoui oven on view, melt-in-the mouth mechoui roasts will be a feature, but no less so than a variety of carefully researched old family recipes rarely seen outside private Moroccan homes. There are both Moroccan dishes with a twist and modern classics on the menu. It's very rare to find a restaurant like this in the ancient Medina and walking through the door of Le Trou Au Mur is like stepping into another world. 

Le Trou Au Mur means "the hole in the wall"

3. La Table du Palais 

This is the restaurant of the iconic Palais Riad Lamrani. Palais Riad Lamrani is the most beautiful palace in the medina and the restaurant is now open also for non-residents during evenings. The tables are set in the lush and magical courtyard garden of this ancient palace and you dine in this candle lit courtyard under the stars. It is a truly unique and beautiful experience. During cold evenings you are invited to the palatial dining room inside. You come here both for the ambience and for the food. It is the perfect setting for a romantic dinner and by far the most beautiful Riad experience in town. A pre- or post-dinner cocktail can be enjoyed in one of the many beautiful salons surrounding the courtyard garden. The restaurant offers a fusion of the Moroccan and French kitchens and the presentations are worthy of any fine dining restaurant in Paris. There is a great wine list and if you see Eric, ask him for some special French wines hidden in the wine cellar and not mentioned in the wine list.
La Table du Palais at Palais Riad Lamrani

4. Le Jardin / Royal Mansour
Le Jardin is the new poolside restaurant of Royal Mansour. This is the chicest outdoor restaurant in town, beautifully located in a lush garden surrounded by palm trees and the new pool of Royal Mansour. The service is flawless, the guests are fabulous, and the food is great. The menu is mainly Asian divided into a "hot" and "cold" section, where the tapas-sized portions come either from the charcoal grill or from the sushi kitchen. This may be the best sushi we ever tasted. Ever. There are also some very innovative takes on the pizza (a small Pizetta with black truffles) and the classical burger. It's the perfect spot for a lazy, long wine lunch with a cool crowd and jet-set ambiance. Excellent DJ:s pump up the vibe as night falls.

Le Jardin at Royal Mansour

5. La Cour des Lions
The world-famous repertoire of Moroccan food can naturally be found in every street, square and corner in Marrakech. But if you fancy eating it with a spectacular view, and quite often you do, then head to the iconic five-star hotel Es Saadi Palace and its restaurant La Cour des Lions. Overlooking the Atlas Mountains as well as the enticing gardens belonging to the hotel, and the interior shows off some delicate Moroccan crafts and arts within the modernist stylish decor. Acclaimed Moroccan star chef Fatema Hall has taken the North African food experience to the next level and offers traditional Moroccan food with a tiny modern twist and beautiful presentations. Do dress up a bit and enjoy the atmosphere, it really is that kind of place. You won’t find this resto much in the touristic guide books, it’s a hidden gem amongst expats and locals, who love stopping by for a drink in the lobby bar both before and after dinner. in. Es Saadi is strong favourite with the Hollywood crowd and international entertainment business, and in a very discreet manner, so you never know who you might stand next to in the elevator.

  • Dining with a view at La Cour des Lions

6. Quattro (At Four Seasons)

Dark and decadent with the ambiance and vibe of a night club, but at heart it’s an Italian Trattoria. Stunning outdoor terrace, framing some great views over the beautiful gardens at Four Seasons. The all-Italian menu is extensive and features traditional Italian dishes like amazing Pizzettas served directly from the Neapolitan pizza oven. Don’t be afraid of a few Moroccan twists here and there. Beautiful presentations and a fun approach to the Italian kitchen we all love. Excellent steaks, amazing pasta and fresh salads. Portions are big so even the starters can double as a main. The wine list contains some seriously interesting local wines, as well as Italian ones. The service is friendly and very attentive, and this is the place to go for a great Italian dinner in a very chic setting.

A night club vibe at Quattro, located at Four Seasons

7. Le Grand Table Francais

Le Grand Table Francais is the French fine dining restaurant of iconic luxury hotel Royal Mansour. This is as posh as it gets in Northern Africa. You dress up to go here and before even entering the restaurant you are struck by the beauty of the architecture and led into a first-class version of 1001 night. The interior in the dining room is sophisticated and sober in beige and gold colours, styled to perfection by the discrete staff all wearing white gloves. The service is immaculate, and the food is world class. There are both tasting menus and a la carte options available and the wine list is extensive including some very interesting French, Italian and Moroccan wines. Star chef Marc Lahoreau creates the most delicious and innovative compositions, many of which get their final touch by the table. The texture, temperature and tastes are perfection. Le Grand Table Francais offers a world class dining experience in a very stylish setting. By far the best (and most expensive) place to dine in Morocco and a memory for life!

The grand entrance to La Grand Table Francais

These are all some amazing new restaurants in Marrakech that we truly appreciate.

We are off to discover more great restaurants around Morocco!

When are you coming to dine in the Red City?

P&P

Saturday, 20 January 2018

Our Love Affair with Hotel Locarno

Our love affair with Rome begun 12 years ago when we first visited the eternal city together. We were immediately blown away by all the history, the great food, the architecture, the light, the Romans and the ambiance of the city. We kept returning to Rome over the years and nowadays we even have our own house just one hour south of Rome. On that very first trip we stayed at the legendary Art Deco Hotel Locarno and totally fell in love with this stylish and discrete hotel, it's amazing interiors and friendly staff. 

Welcome to Hotel Locarno!

Hotel Locarno became like our home away from home in Italy and we kept returning, both to Rome and to this iconic little hotel. We have stayed in all the different suites (the Venetian suite is our favorite) and several of the other rooms as well. We have celebrated holidays here, we enjoyed many fun nights in the bar and when our first dog was born in 2006 (in Sweden) we received the happy news while having a delicious breakfast at Hotel Locarno. 

These days we check in when we want to spend the night in Rome and we use the hotel as our chic Roman office for our Communications Agency Red City PR. This last week we worked on several projects from our suite, took meetings in the cool garden of the hotel and this is where we outlined the details for a major and top secret celebrity collaboration for one of our clients. Hotel Locarno is the perfect place for those secret meetings and conversations that can only be whispered.

Breakfast is served!

Hotel Locarno was built 1925 and is a real Art Deco beauty filled with unique art and antiquities. Renovations are always carried out with a great respect for the Art Deco heritage and to preserve the ambiance of the property. There are in total 44 rooms and suites, they are all divine and so stylish! Hotel Locarno is very sophisticated and discrete, the perfect place for a secret love affair, discrete meetings and intimate moments. The hotel is known for its attentive staff and stunning atmosphere. It has played the leading role in movies and major fashion shoots and is loved by celebrities, business people and hotel connoisseurs alike.

Come and enter a world of Art Deco and great service!

Catherine Deneveue, Kylie Minogue, Kate Moss, Arnold Schwartz, Gwyneth Paltrow and Woody Allen and many more have passed through these stylish doors. It's always a fun crowd staying at Hotel Locarno and we love to talk to our fellow residents in the bar or in the lounges. It's like you know each other even if it's the first time you meet since you both share the passion for this place.This hotel is very private and knows how to keep secrets. In fact Hotel Locarno is itself like a very well-kept secret that you need to be let in on. So, with this blog post we share this little secret with you (but don't tell anyone else). We have stayed at many iconic luxury hotels and in unique properties around the globe but Hotel Locarno is truly our favorite. It has such a special ambiance and is really a unique place.

Welcome to check into a well kept secret.

The service is very friendly but discrete and the concierge gets you in to all the right places in Rome. There is even a dog-concierge that knows all the best spots for dogs and can arrange dog walking, dog sitting and play dates for your four-legged family member. Talk about pet friendly hotel! Cicero of course loved to stay here.

There is a dog concierge to give five-star service also to the four-legged guests.

Back in the 1920:s a famous Italian film called "Hotel Locarno" was filmed at the hotel capturing the spirit of the hotel and the life of it's guests. The hotel has since then been the location for many fashion shoots and films as well as meetings and secret encounters. Hotel Locarno is a world of it's own, in fact it's like stepping into a five-star version of Wes Anderson's "Grand Budapest Hotel". With such a great atmosphere and so many interesting people you don't really want to go outside .

The original poster from the film "Hotel Locarno"

This time we stayed in the Matilde Di Canossa suite, named after the excentric previous owner of the building. It is a stunning corner suite filled with Belle Epoque antiquities, art, hand-painted textile wallpaper, Venetian chandeliers and a little terrace. It was the perfect place for our longer stay in Rome, where combined a lot of work and meetings with some fun friends and great food.

The Matilde Di Canossa suite

Sweet dreams!

How about this art deco bathroom!

A small terrace

Cicero loved our suite (and so did we)

Do not disturb, we are not leaving our suite!

The bar of Hotel Locarno is a celebrity itself serving award winning cocktails in the stylish Art Deco bar inside and the lush secret garden outside. The Locarno bar was voted second best bar in Italy (and that is with some pretty tough competition) and both locals and international guests flock here every night. We love to spend the afternoons working in the garden and then staying on for aperitif, music and checking out the crowd as night falls. Our favorite cocktail is the "1925", named in honor of the opening year of the hotel.

The bar is open!

Art Deco style - what else?

The secret garden, aka our office

Hotel Locarno at night.

Apertivo o'clock

With great service, stunning rooms, unique atmosphere and a fun crowd you don't really want to leave the little luxury time-capsule that is Hotel Locarno but eventually we do go out and walk the charming streets around Piazza del Popolo and the park Villa Borghese. There are many stylish bistros, cool bars and fine dining restaurants in the area. 

Best Restaurants in Rome (according to us)
- Ristorante Camponeschi: this iconic restaurant has been around for over 30 years and we have been coming here for 12 years. The owner, Alessandro Camponeschi, welcomes everyone to this beautiful restaurant with a sophisticated setting and a modern take on the Roman kitchen. Friendly fine dining with amazing food, beautiful presentations and great wines (many from the vineyard of the owner).
- Jardin de Russie: this is the laid-back and at the same time posh restaurant of Hotel du Russie. Beautiful garden seating in spring/summer and a very international vibe. Modern kitchen and very nice food. Don't miss the bar with an amazing caviar menu!
- Hosteria dei Numeri Primi: this is a vibrant and cool restaurant in the trendy Trastevere area. Brilliant wine bar, casual dining and lots of fun! Favored by the trendy Romans.
- Ad Hoc: a very trendy, busy and fun bistro with high ambitions in the kitchen and a great atmosphere.
- Casina Valadier: this fine dining restaurant is located in a stunning villa with great views overlooking Rome. Very sophisticated. Offers a business lunch weekdays that is great value for money.

Foodie Heaven!

But now, after a month working (and playing) in Italy, it is time to head back home to the Red City and execute some of the exciting projects we have been working on in Rome. But we will soon come back to Bella Italia, our beloved house in Arpino and our favorite hotel in Rome. Now it's check-out time.

Thanks for another amazing stay dear Hotel Locarno - we will soon be back!

Arrivederchi Italia, Bonjour Morocco!
P&P

Friday, 5 January 2018

Fabulous Florence

HAPPY NEW YEAR! 

We wish all of you a lot of love, laughter and adventures in 2018!

Florence is always a good idea for everyone!

We really love Florence, or Firenze as the Italians call it, and when we realised it had been almost four years since we last visited this beautiful and historical town we immediately decided to go there again. But first we were off to celebrate New Year's Eve with friends in a beautiful villa in Marche on the east coast of Italy. So we took our white little Fiat and headed for Mogliano in the Marche region, Southeast of Tuscany. It was a beautiful three hour drive over the mountains and through Abruzzo national park.

On the road again, driving over the mountains towards Marche.

Our friends have just recently renovated an old farm house and turned it i to this stunning villa.

Marche is a beautiful area with rolling hills and amazing nature, so much more genuine and less touristic than Tuscany.

This is our new years team. Lots of good food, great wines, laughs and dancing when we welcomed 2018.

After three days in great company it was time to leave for Florence.

Another scenic three hour drive took us to Florence and wow was it great to be back! Florence is the capital city of the Tuscany region. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, but with approx 383.000 inhabitants it is still a small town with a very genuine feeling.

The iconic bridge Ponte Vecchio

Florence was a centre of medieval European trade and finance and one of the wealthiest cities of that era. It is considered the birthplace of the Renaissance, and has been called "the Athens of the Middle Ages". A turbulent political history includes periods of rule by the powerful Medici family and numerous religious and republican revolutions. From 1865 to 1871 the city was the capital of the recently established Kingdom of Italy. The Florentine dialect forms the base of Standard Italian and it became the language of culture throughout Italy due to the prestige of the masterpieces by Dante, Petrarch, Boccacci and Machiavelli.

Lots of master pieces of art were created in Florence

Legendary luxury hotel Helvetia & Bristol is located in an old palazzo.

We checked into the iconic luxury hotel Helvetia & Bristol (member of Leading Hotels of the World, Star Hotels) with perfect location right in the historical center, close to all sights as well as the high end shopping streets. Helvetia & Bristol is an old palace, "palazzo", in true Belle Epoque style filled with amazing art and antiquities. We were upgraded to a beautiful two-room suite with impressive interiors and a stunning Art Deco style marble bathroom complete with Jacuzzi. We absolutely loved our stay and the concierge service was world class.

Our beautiful two-bedroom suite.

Our suite was filled with art, textile wallpapers, chandeleirs and antiquities.

Belle Epoque style

Cicero loved both the suite and the friendly staff at this pet friendly luxury hotel.

There is so much to see and experience in Florence. If you love art and history this is really a treasure of a city! The Ufizzi museum and Palazzo Pitti exhibit some of the finest art collections in the world. There are amazing cathedrals and churches as well as great architecture everywhere you turn. Not to mention the very nice and posh shops.

The beautiful and very graphical cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore, also know as the Duomo

 Cicero is checking out the sights of Florence!

Florence is a major tourist destination so if possible try to avoid peak season. And be aware that even in low season and even if you pre-book your entry tickets and get assigned an entry time slot for the major sights you are still in for a lot of queing and waiting. To get into the cathedral it can easily be a 2-3 hour wait and even with pre-booked tickets to the Ufizzi museum you will need to spend hours waiting in line to pick up your tickets and get in.

The best thing to do is just to walk around and enjoy the architecture and ambience.

Like all Italian towns Florence is pet friendly and you can bring your dog to all the restaurants, even the fine dining ones. It's really fun to explore a city with your four-legged family members.

Florence by night.

Buonasera Firenze!

The cathedral at night.

There are many great restaurants in Florence and it is good advice to to some research in advance as well as to make reservations to avoid being forced to eat at the toursist traps that you easily end up at if you just chose some place randomly. 

Amazing food at very chic JK Place


Enjoying a champagne lunch at the Guide Michelin restaurant Wintergraden by Caina (pets are also welcome).

INSIDERS GUIDE FLORENCE

Where to stay
- Helvetia & Bristol (elegant luxury hotel in belle epoque style with best possible location and great ambience)
- JK Place (trendy and chic boutique hotel with almost a New England feeling to the interiors)
- St Regis (iconic hotel with a quiet location and sophisticated style)
- Westin Excelsior (a big five star hotel with excellent service)
- Four Seasons (located in a lush garden a bit outside town)

Where to eat
- Il Santo Bevitore (very trendy bistro with a modern take on the Italian kitchen, excellent food and a really cool crowd).
- Wintergarden by Caina at St Regis (very nice fine dining experience with one Guide Michelin star)
- Il Borro (stylish restaurant with high ambitions, operated by the fashion house Ferragamo)
- JK Place Lounge (very cool and trendy lounge that serves excellent lunch and dinner in a stylish setting)
- Hostaria Bibendum (belle epoque style restaurant with a charming street terrace, excellent food in a sophisticated setting)
- Trattoria 13 Gobbi (very busy, very crowded, very genuine)
- Harry's Bar (the Florence version of the iconic Venice restaurant, a bit touristy but also fun and excellent food).

What to do:
- Walk the streets of Florence!
- Ufizzi museum
- Palazzo Pitti
- Galleria del Academia (where the famous statue of David is to be seen)
- Duomo cathedral
- Shop luxury brands in the brand shops located in the charming streets and alleys.
- Check out the Prada outlet outside town..

The stylish lobby of JK Place

The amazing glass ceiling of the winter garden at St Regis

The three of us sure love Florence!

Now we are back in Arpino and working on several exciting projects for our Red City PR clients from our Italian office.

Have a great start of 2018!
P&P