Last year was a great one for hotel and restaurant openings, particularly for the intimate and one of a kind places I love. Here were the best of the spots that I was lucky enough to check out in 2010.
1. Corsica's U Palazzu Serenu: I think Corsica is one of Europe's best kept secrets and this stylish boutique hotel is the kind of property that I hope to see more of there. Had a great stay here in September: intimate rooms and personal service.
2. New York's Torrisi: This Italian star on Mulberry Street is helmed by Mario Carbone and Rich Torrisi and everything from the garlic bread to the beef short rib is outstanding. The chilly December night I went, Gwyneth Paltrow and Mario Batali were eating together there. Enough said.
3. Italy's Borgo Egnazia: Puglia is Italy's rising star with beautiful beaches and lovely untouristy towns. This new luxe hotel is yet another reason to visit.
4. Miami's Soho Beach: The member's only club and hotel empire grew this year with an impressive new property in SoBe. I thought the restaurant, Cecconi's was great, and the spa Cowshed and nice rooms make it the new hot stop in Miami.
5. Taormina's Metropole: I find most of Taormina's hotels a bit fusty but enjoyed this new arrival on a quick trip this October and it's a great base for exploring this part of Sicily -- don't miss the nearby vineyards up on Mount Etna.
6. Venice's Venissa: A destination restaurant on the charming island of Mazzorbo. The setting is lovely in a vineyard dating from the 1800's and the food is sublime with a real local ethos (for more Venice picks check out my Venice 36 Hours.)
7. Todos Santos' Rancho Pescadero: About an hour's drive from Cabo, this destination resort on the beach epitomizes barefoot chic and they just added a great yoga pavilion. My only caveat is that the food was mediocre when I went just after Christmas.
8. Florence's Ino: Tucked away on a side street near the Uffizi and Ponte Vecchio, this little wine bar and sandwich is a perfect spot for a quick lunch or place to pick up picnic supplies. The fresh bread, artisinal products and great wine make me wish there was one in every town in Italy (for more Florence picks check out my Florence 36 Hours)
9. London's Mark's Bar: This speakeasy-style bar under the Hix House in Soho is a fab central place to meet for cocktails--the list is encyclopedic with names like Hanky Panky and the Matador. They also make a mean burger.
10. Italy's Basilicata. This beautiful region south of Amalfi is wonderfully undeveloped with pristine beaches, small mountain towns and cultural masterpieces like Matera where Mel Gibson filmed The Passion. Francis Ford Coppola is set to open a property here soon but for now stay in Matera's Le Grotte della Civita, the small but charming Hotel Torre Fiore or La Locanda delle Donne Monache in Maratea.