Can Anyone Tell Me Where There is a Good French Restaurant?

French Restaurant design

When looking for a new restaurant, there is nothing like finding a French restaurant. Every time I go to a new city, finding a French restaurant is always on my “To Do” list. There’s something charming about finding these little gems. Often, I am going both for the food and the décor of the restaurant. I have found that French restaurants frequently have detailed design that speak to the level of artistry that you find in their cooking. It is as though, the French look at dining as a “complete” experience; one for your pallet as well as  your senses. The French don’t leave anything for you to guess about, but instead to imagine, wonder, savor, and desire.

To make your travel planning more simplified, below is a listing of the top 14 French restaurants in the United States. Most are in New York City or somewhere in California. However, there are some in New Orleans, Vegas, Minneapolis. Of shoot, non in my home town.

I hope that you find one that appeals to  your taste. Bon appetite!

5 Things You Need to Know About Washington, DC

Washington DC-Capital

There is nothing like spending a weekend in Washington, DC. Arrival on Thursday afternoon of a holiday weekend means that you are greeted with millions of families and school children on trips, and traffic that you can’t imagine. But who cares about that. You’re in DC.

If you’ve ever wondered if the country has returned to its former glory, visit Washington, DC to see all the new building that is going on. New communities are being developed everywhere you look. Condos loom above city streets, and green spaces are being factored in so that it doesn’t all look like a jig-saw puzzle.

1. Restaurants are “King”

The best thing about DC is  the proliferation of restaurants that have recently opened. More than one can count, and each one trying to be better than then next. It is hard to find a “bad” restaurant in the district. However, mediocre is making a come-back.

For my weekend travels, I decided to try some old favorites and some new. For old favorites I went to Busboys and Poets, a great place to have any meal, although get ready for an energetic crowd. Next, I tried, The Hamilton, a beautifully decorated large restaurant across from the Willard Hotel. The menu at The Hamilton is eclectic and the service is slow. However, it is worth going there just to see the place.  They have a nice bar. I ventured to Columbia Heights to have  brunch at The Heights, a delightful neighborhood restaurant, with great outdoor dining, and food to match.

2. Luxury Properties and Hotels Abound

Every where you look in the District, you see evidence of new construction, and all of it is expensive. New condos, and row houses are re- forming what used to be drab old communities into chic new ones with people out walking their dogs and enjoying coffee at a nearby cafe. One neighborhood that I dropped by was the Navy Yard. It was only a few years ago that this was nothing to look at, but now, it has beautiful condos, green space, restaurants, bars, and shopping areas. Everything that a person could want within a small community.

If you are looking for luxury hotel space, the city continues to build hotels on practically every corner. Trump is remodeling, what used to be the old Post Office Building, to put up a mammoth property, Trump International Hotel,   which sits at the end of 11th St as it intersects with Pennsylvania Av.  Opulent is all one can say about how the structure looks. The hotel will include high-end shopping and office facilities.  The Conrad is building a hotel in DC, and I look forward to the elegance that it will bring to this busy city.

3. Shopping Matches 5th Ave.

Washington used to be known for its big box and outlet stores. No more. Now,  there are a myriad of designer showrooms that capture your attention and your wallet. The designers that now have showrooms here match those of 5th Ave in NYC.  Store after store provides you with the latest in both women’s and men’s fashion. I would say that this is easily a place where people would fly to for shopping rather than to New York.

4. This is an “Uber” City

While there are still plenty of cars and bicycles in the city, the use of “Uber” is considerably high. People utilize Uber much like a taxi service here, for short and long trips, and schedule black car service when then really wish to make an impression; which is all the time.

5.  Get Ready to Pay

Your nation’s capital is quickly becoming the city for the “well heeled.” It is not unusual to find  hotel room rates to be north of $500 per night, and certainly the cost for two to dine out is in excess of $200. However, everyone is there to enjoy themselves, and what a great time you will  have.

I hope that the museums remain open so that the rest of us will have something to do when our money runs out.

Hotel Regina, Paris: Renovated to Luxury Level

If you are planning a trip to Paris, finding a hotel is one of the most critical parts of planning your trip. You’re probably trying to find one that is interesting, comfortable, beautifully decorated, and in the right location. Look no further than the newly renovated Hotel Regina, Paris,  a 100 room hotel, including twenty-two (22) suites, is a stand-out, and is  aptly situated  across from the Louvre.

The hotel, which was originally built in 1900, has for the past year, undergone a complete renovation of its exterior and interior spaces. This includes all 100 rooms, which have been individually designed. Both the layout of the rooms, and the collection of furnishings are beautifully designed, yet speak to the historical French furniture styling. Each room has been carefully and tastefully decorated with comfort, and usage clearly in mind. Furniture placement is not obtrusive. The lines are clean and subtle. Bathrooms are large and nicely appointed with sumptuous robes for you to slip into. This is a place that makes you feel “at home.”

The hotel is located in the fashion, shopping and museum district, with exceptional views of the Eiffel Tower. You can’t get any better than that! It boasts a first-class restaurant for fine dining, and serves tea in the afternoon. Concierge service is available to assist you in making your tour and evening plans.

So, place yourself in the “heart of the action” while being part of a boutique hotel experience. For photos, and a brief article on this property, see the following link.

See Europe By Train

train station_unsplash

In celebration of Mother’s Day, I thought that I would write about something that is a bit different. As mothers, we appreciate the cards, gifts and the flowers that we receive from our loved ones, but it is nice to dream about doing something different. A European Train trip.

I have always wanted to  take a trip on a train. I think that it would be both relaxing. There are several trips that are available now that you can take. Of course, I am looking for one that offers a spa onboard. I don’t think they have that yet.  It is worth considering if you wish to see the scenery and don’t want to argue with your spouse over directions and the GPS as you drive thousands of miles.

The Venice Simplon Orient Express is the most well known of the luxury trains. It takes journeys from London to Venice. Paris to Budapest, Bucharest and Istanbul. There are many departure cities from which to select. The most important thing is that the train is absolutely luxurious. It has a champagne bar, exquisite dining facilities, and sleeping cars that are outstanding.

This is the train that you want to be on as you view the sites of Europe. I like the idea of being able to view the scenery, read, eat, drink, and get up and walk around. For long trips this keeps me interested in what is going on. Also, I think that the people that one might meet on a long trip might be interesting.

All of this luxury does not come at a cheap price. Plan upon spending approximately $5,000 per person depending upon the length of stay. You may want to just have the experience with a shorter trip (one nights stay) for about $2,700. However, when you are considering that you are traveling like royalty, who cares about spending a few dollars or euros.


If You Only Have One Night, Make It Count!


Courtesy of the Conrad,Indianapolis
Courtesy of the Conrad,Indianapolis

Recently, my husband and I decided to take a quick trip to celebrate his birthday. We decided to go to Indianapolis and stay at the Conrad. Under normal circumstances, one might say, why would you select Indianapolis, and this particular hotel?

We selected Indianapolis because it is a nearby city and we thought that it would be a fun place to go for an overnight stay. There is shopping, jazz clubs, and great dining.  Since we were celebrating his birthday, I selected the Conrad, because I thought it would be a different experience from the other box hotels. I had no idea what we were in for.

There are only four (4) Conrad hotels in the US, Ft. Lauderdale, Indianapolis, Chicago, and New York. All the others are in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. When you stay at the Conrad, you quickly realize why the hotel brand has such an “exclusive” aura. The properties are beautiful, even sumptuous, and they take service and execution to its highest level.

When making our reservation, I had included an email note that said that we were celebrating my husband’s birthday and requested that they have a little “snack” in the room. Upon arrival, when we drove up and exited our vehicle, the valet asked for our name, and when I gave it, he said “Happy Birthday, sir.” The same thing happened at the Front Desk. My husband couldn’t believe it. The staff was certainly on point.

Courtesy of the Conrad, Indianaspolis

The hotel lobby is open and modern, yet inviting and relaxing. When you are at the Conrad, you feel transformed. I couldn’t believe that we were in a mid-western city. Somehow, it has a  European feel,  and even though it has over 200 rooms, it still intimate, like a boutique hotel at its best. You can tell that a lot of thinking went into the design of this hotel.  The hotel has beautiful art collections in the lobby and on the second floor, that more than catch your eye, they  cause you to want to browse and discover more.  This is not your busy business  hotel. This is a hotel that is committed to the “guest experience.” In fact, my husband and I didn’t want to leave it. There’s something interesting for you around each corner, something that will make you want more, whether it is the spa, fitness center, or the adjoining restaurant and bistro.

The hotel  capitalizes on the fact that today’s traveler likes to keep it simple, and so they have made it so. Adjoined to the hotel is the Capital Grille, known for its exquisite upscale dining, and a Wine and Bistro, called Tastings, which has one of the largest wine collections by the glass, or bottle, in the world.  The Capital Grille has a gorgeous bar that offers all types of  drinks and cocktails in a relaxed atmosphere. Surrounded by dark wood, you will find locals at the Capital Grille Bar, nattily attired and sipping on their favorite drink, while discussing politics or sports. The more energetic Wine and Bistro,  Tastings, offers small plates to go along with all that wine that you drink. Music plays, while you hear people laughing and talking as they drink flights of wine. Tastings is clearly  “meeting” place.  Depending upon what you prefer, both places  provide a wonderful opportunity to have a great experience without ever having to leave the hotel premises.

Courtesy of the Conrad, Indianapolis
Courtesy of the Conrad, Indianapolis

But now it is time to relax in your room. Rooms are large with spectacularly comfortable furnishings. If you are interested in in-room dining, you will love the staff that appear at your door dawning white coats as they carry in your tray. It is all quite spectacular! The staff are warm and friendly and make you feel “at home” at your residence at the Conrad. Yes, you can dream of living the high life, as you go down to the lobby and watch beautiful cars pull up in front of the hotel. Everyone is given “red carpet” treatment.

So, what happened with the snack in the room you ask? When we arrived, there it was on a tray. Nuts, candies, chocolate covered strawberries, and the best part, a card signed by the staff to my husband. He said that he “felt like a rock star.” What a lovely way to execute the request, and how wonderful it made him feel.

Many hotels can provide a nice stay, and even be friendly to you upon arrival. Ask the right questions, but few know how to treat guests with a level of importance that lets them know that it is a guest centered hotel. From the design, to the training of its staff, this is a hotel that thinks and cares about every aspect of what the guest will experience, and they want to make sure that they get it right.

So, if you only have one night to stay, my recommendation is to select wisely. Select a place that you know has phenomenal service, a great location, can provide every amenity, and make you feel special. I would say, select the Conrad.