House on the beach
The Legian resort on Bali's Seminyak has converted its beach house into an exclusive three-bedroom holiday villa, featuring a private 16-metre infinity pool, an outdoor bale pavilion and walled tropical garden. Styled by Indonesian interior designer Jaya Ibrahim, The Beach House sits on its own stretch of sand and faces west to catch the picture-perfect Balinese sunsets. Guests also receive the attention of a 24-hour butler and chauffeur with the option of a personal chef. Prices until December 22 start from US$2,700 a night. For details and reservations, visit www.ghmhotels.com.
Magic lantern shows, both public and private, were a favourite 19th-century window to the world for many Hong Kong residents, providing the earliest form of popular travelogue. Hand-coloured glass slides projected onto whitewashed drawing-room walls and screens at venues such as the Theatre Royal in City Hall showed audiences views of the world and its exotic peoples for several decades. Published this month, Memories of a Lost World: Travels Through the Magic Lantern, by Charlotte Fiell, contains a collection of more than 800 such images from 'the bustling streets of Victorian London and the ruins of ancient Egypt to the temples of Japan and the tribesmen of New Guinea'. The hardcover, 704-page first edition is available for pre-order at Amazon.co.uk for GBP24.95 (HK$306).
The great revival
One of Europe's most anticipated hotel openings scheduled for next year is that of the St Pancras Renaissance London. Originally due to open in 2009, the hotel will occupy part of what was once the Midland Grand in the magnificent St Pancras Chambers building (right). The official launch date has been fixed for May 5, the 138th anniversary of the 1873 opening of the Midland Grand, which closed in 1934.
Anyone hoping to stay at the hotel - conveniently located next to the St Pancras Eurostar train station - next summer will need to book well in advance. Accommodation includes 245 guest rooms and 38 Victorian suites, 'bursting with period features such as high ceilings and tall windows'. Renovation seems to have been carried out tastefully and professionally, as befits what is considered to be a contender for London's finest surviving example of Gothic Revival architecture. 'The magnificent interior has been restored to its former glory with painstaking attention to detail using expert teams of hundreds of craftsmen and painters,' claim the new owners. 'Many of the original areas of the hotel considered of particular historical importance have been carefully renovated including the 'Ladies Smoking Room', the first place in Europe where it was acceptable for women to smoke in public.' Visit www.marriott.com for opening rates and more details.
Deal of the week
Cathay Pacific Holidays is offering a business-class package to the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh that includes round-trip flights and two nights? accommodation at the Raffles Hotel Le Royal (left) from HK$5,359. This is a perperson price for two people travelling together with State Room accommodation, daily breakfast and travel insurance. For a package price of HK$5,629 you can upgrade to a Landmark Room.
A quick comparison on the hotel website (phnompenh.raffles.com) will show that this would definitely be a worthwhile choice. Extra nights are available for between HK$900 and HK$1,030 each. Once the fuel surcharge and airport taxes have been added, these prices go up by about HK$300. For online reservations, visit www.cxholidays.com or call 2747 4336.