Friday, September 17, 2010

An evening at the Kennedy Center

Last night at the Kennedy Center, I couldn't help but think how the building has grown on me in the last 8 years since I've moved to DC. When I moved here I thought it was the most hideous building in Washington, but now, I sorta like it! I've ALWAYS loved these Lobmeyr fixtures in the opera house, above. They look like jewelry in a box against all of that red velvet.
I also found out that the gold and red curtain at the stage, with its distinctive pattern, was a gift from Japan. First cherry blossoms, and then a 5 story tall gold curtain; Japan has been good to DC!
The Grand Foyer is enormous, but the scale of the architecture is so large that one doesn't even notice. Apparently it's one of the largest rooms in the world and I heard the Washington Monument would fit in here laying down with room to spare; really just insane!
Again, great glamorous mid-century chandeliers are really the jewels of the room. Generally I prefer a more classical space for concert venue, but maybe this modernism stuff isn't so bad?
all photos taken with my (unincredible) droid incredible phone.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Cypress Inn, Carmel

After leaving San Francisco, my next stop was Carmel where I spent the majority of my vacation. Yes, this is the week of hotels at ArchitectDesign!I stayed at the Cypress Inn, one of the better known hotels in Carmel, partly owned by singer & actress Doris Day.
The board-formed concrete building dates from 1929 but has had many lives, mostly as an assisted living residence, believe it or not! It was built as the Hotel La Ribera by Dr. Rudolf Kocher and Hugh Comstock, the most well known developer of Carmel.
The Spanish / Mediterranean style architecture fits well in the moderate climate and besides the fairytale styled cottages by Comstock throughout the village, the style tends to dominate the area.
Part of the development lies further up the hill and is not part of the hotel. Notice how it is taller up the hill to catch views of Carmel Bay.
Around the side is a courtyard garden for guests, where visitors can take tea, breakfast or just relax. The hotel is known as being extremely pet friendly and nearly everyone you see has a dog or two with them. Because of this, it has become the hangout of many locals, who were so incredibly friendly that within an HOUR of arriving I had made a few friends I spent time with throughout the week: all at the bar of the Cypress Inn!
More photos of the courtyard. In this detail shot, you can see the board formations in the concrete: a look the architect in me LOVES. Notice how thick these walls are, the hotel is really quiet inside.
As a nod to Doris Day, this small planting area had a sign referring to one of her movies 'please don't eat the daisies'! LOVED THIS!
The lounge behind the lobby was constantly buzzing with locals and guests. Doris Day music is the continual soundtrack in this public area and posters from her movies line the walls.
For an old movie buff like me -this was heaven! The food and drinks were really great too.
The restaurant is known as Terry's, after Doris's son who was part owner in the hotel but unfortunately passed away years ago.
I loved this chandelier in one of the hallways.
My room was located in one of the newer parts of the hotel and it really was a home away from home. I loved the beamed ceilings.
The jacuzzi tub in the corner of the room didn't hurt either! In true California style, complimentary sherry and fruit in each room.
The french doors in the room faced this quiet little courtyard.
And I couldn't not include this fabulous vintage mercedes owned by the other owner of the hotel(or rumor had it).
Fabulous hotel, fabulous town and fabulous car!

Sir Francis Drake Hotel, San Francisco

While in San Francisco, another hotel I stayed in was the legendary Sir Francis Drake, right off Union Square Park, seen above; a fantastic central location only blocks from the Fairmont.
Opened in 1928, the hotel saw its heyday up till WWII when it was used primarily by the military for army housing. The Drake has always been known as a party venue for locals and tourists alike from it's Prohibition Era roots, with its Persian Room and the Starlight Roof restaurant and bar with city views.
The lobby retains the glamorous decorations from it's beginnings: considered modern in the 20s, it now is one of those 'grand old spaces'. I loved these original murals depicting Sir Francis Drake's near discovery of the San Franciso area. Despite a major renovation a few years ago by the Kimpton Group of hotels (a company that I really admire for their appreciation of historic buildings,rehabilitation and reuse policies) the hotel is a bit tired now, especially the rooms.It's an old hotel and as can be expected, these rooms are TINY. Thats fine for most travelers as you spend little time in them but they also are a bit....worn shall we say? The rates reflect this and it has really become a budget hotel in a great location.
The Drake respects their party roots and this lovely bar has been added to the lobby -a great way to enjoy a beautiful space! It's not the Fairmont, but still a great venue at a great value.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Fairmont, San Francisco

While in California earlier this summer, one of the hotels I stayed in in San Francisco was the beautiful and historic Fairmont.
Located at the top of Nob Hill, a VERY tall hill, it requires a little bit of work on foot (trust me). However, once there, the climb was worthwhile with spectacular views in every direction.
The lobby is one of those grand old lobbies that you automatically think of when you hear 'city hotel'. It's right out of an old movie: a glamorous place to have a drink or meet friends.
While the hotel opened in 1907 after a devastating earthquake, all of this heavy marble really did make me a bit nervous. After more than 100 years though, I guess we're safe!
One of my vivid memories from the trip was getting dressed up for the symphony and walking through this hallway on my way out of the hotel. It's all so over the top but in a good way!
While we didn't eat in the restaurant, it seemed like a really lovely place for breakfast or lunch. It's right in the heart of the hotel but had spectacular lighting which made it feel like continual sunshine.
A detail of the restaurant -check out that ceiling!
The walls have a beautiful mural and I'm always a sucker for white tableclothes.
The hotel has obviously been renovated many times over the years, but some great old details still exist, like this curved marble staircase from the restaurant down to all of the ballrooms and the famous Tonga Room!
The large ballroom had these great old shell sconces; love their dramatic flair!
Throughout the many hallways were beautiful gilded marble tables and beautiful mirrors: this especially large one was outside the main ballroom.
Near the ballroom on one of the lower levels is the famous Tonga room. The legendary space opened as a bar in 1945 but originally began as an indoor pool in 1929 which opened with an official dive by actress Helen Hayes!
It was sadly closed on the days we stayed in the hotel, but I managed to sneak in for a peak!How I would have loved to eat here!The floors above are also nicely decorated with some interesting chinoiserie art, this piece faced the door to our room.Also loved these fabulous mirrors at the end of the hallways. The hotel is really immense, it was a bit of a hike from the elevator.The room was basic but comfortable; light filled and cheerful.None of the furniture was quite standard issue.And just to part, the closet was immense - probably the size of my apartment here in DC! Seriously, you could have fit a double bed in here with room to spare, the picture doesn't quite capture that. My 3 shirts hanging there sure do look lonely though!
If you find yourself in San Francisco, I highly recommend the Fairmont!