BERMUDA | WHERE TO STAY

Whether you’re thinking old world glam, bohemian beach vibe, country inn quaint or ultra-modern hipster, there’s a hotel for you in Bermuda. In fact, for such a small place, there are literally dozens of resorts to choose from, and all of them deliver on their promises. My selects run the gamut from renovated B+B to secluded and sleek to the grandest of dames, and all are worth the trip.

Elbow Beach
60 South Shore Road, Paget PG04, Bermuda
+1 441 236 3535

Elbow Beach is one of Bermuda’s best-known resorts and for good reason — built in 1908, it was the island’s first beachfront resort, situated on one of the most beautiful pink sand beaches Bermuda has to offer. Set on 50 acres, Elbow Beach has everything you could ever want in a resort hotel: A state of the art spa, tennis, water sports and a few great restaurants, including Mickey’s Bistro, which is one of the only restaurants on the island to sit directly on the sand.

Hamilton Princess & Beach Club
76 Pitts Bay Road, HM08, Bermuda
+1 441 295 3000

The Hamilton Princess, one of the oldest and grandest hotels in Bermuda, is ideally situated within walking distance of Hamilton, the island’s capital.  Built in 1885, the hotel just underwent a huge 150 million dollar renovation in advance of the 2017 America’s Cup, and today is home to the owner’s private art collection, which rivals any Modern Art museum you’ve ever seen. With works by Andy Warhol, Rene Magritte, Roy Lichtenstein, David Hockney and Jeff Koons (and way more), this is a true art lover’s paradise. Tours can be arranged even if you’re not a guest of the hotel. Other amazing amenities include an Exhale Spa complete with their famous barre classes, a fitness room overlooking the marina, Marcus’, a great restaurant by celeb chef Marcus Samuelsson (don’t miss the wings and the jerk cauliflower), and bathrooms outfitted with products by Le Labo. It’s also worth noting that The Princess is the only place on the entire island where you can rent a Twizzy, a sort of open-air, moped-golfcart-electric smart car hybrid that are ridiculously fun to drive and are, in my opinion, the best way to get around the island.

The Loren
116 South Road, Tucker’s Town Smiths, HS01 Bermuda
+1 44 1293 1666 | 1.844.384.3103

The Loren at Pink Sands has the honor of being the newest build on the island in the last 45 years, and what it lacks in history, it makes up for in design. Like a breath of fresh air amongst the older and maybe grander properties, The Loren is decidedly fresh, modern and sleek. The 36 rooms are enormous, beautifully decorated and each has impressive balconies overlooking the sea with room for 4 to lounge comfortably. Bathrooms are tricked out with Malin + Goetz products and the public spaces throughout the hotel are simply sublime. The hotel also has 2 restaurants: The Pink Beach Club which offers open-air dining in a more casual setting and Marée, the resort’s fine dining spot with one of the prettiest private rooms I’ve ever seen.  And don’t let the location deter you – while The Loren might be a bit secluded, that can be a good thing, especially if a romantic getaway is what you’re after. Besides, as expected, they’ve thought of everything, and in addition to the hotel’s shuttle and the abundance of taxis on hand, they’ll also rent you your own Twizzy which makes getting around that much more fun.

Rosedon Hotel
61 Pitts Bay Road, Pembroke, Bermuda
+1 800 742 5008 or +1 441 295 1640

The Rosedon bills itself as “Uniquely Bermudian” and I’d have to agree. With a brand new renovation that brought the hotel from quaint B+B to Boutique status, it’s one of the most idyllic spots, with a definite old-world vibe. While it’s not on the beach (it sits across the street from the Hamilton Princess, just a stone’s throw to the main drag on the island’s capital), it does have a shuttle and privileges at Elbow Beach Resort, which gives it some serious street cred. The Rosedon is also home to Huckleberry, one of the best restaurants in Bermuda, with Michelin-Starred Chef Lucy Collins in the kitchen. Don’t miss breakfast on the front porch, and make sure to order her avocado toast, which just might be the best anywhere.

Rosewood Bermuda
60 Tucker's Point Drive, Hamilton Parish, HS 02 Bermuda
+441 298 4000

Perched on a cliff above Castle Harbor, nearly every room at Rosewood Bermuda offers a direct view of the sea, which makes it one of the island’s most sought-after properties. What makes it even more exciting is the comprehensive $25 million reno it’s currently undergoing (the plan is to reopen in April 2018), which includes a total redesign of the resort's guestrooms, beach club, golf clubhouse and Sense, the hotel’s spa. And PS; While there’s a shuttle to take guests to the beach club every 30 minutes, the more expensive rooms come with their own golf carts, which, in my opinion, is totally worth it.

The St. Regis
If your plans to visit Bermuda can wait a year, book a room at the St Regis on St Catherine’s Beach for early 2019 (fingers crossed). This property, located just outside Fort St Catherine, will be one of the few on the island to boast a beachfront location, a casino and its own 18-hole golf course.

 

BERMUDA | WHERE TO EAT

As with its options for places to stay, Bermuda’s restaurant scene is vast and varied. From traditional Bermudian fried fish sandwiches to more upscale continental, and a few celebrity chefs thrown in, you could stay in Bermuda for a month and never eat at the same place twice. These are my standouts.

 

1609
Fairmont Hamilton Princess
76 Pitts Bay Rd.
+1 441 298 2028

Great cocktails, ceviches, burgers and salads are served al fresco outside overlooking the Hamilton Princess’ marina. Sit back and enjoy watching the yachts float by.

Bailey's Ice Cream
Blue Hole Hill, Bermuda
+1 441 293 8605

With flavors inspired by Bermuda (yes, they have Rum Swizzle and Dark + Stormy), Bailey’s is definitely worth the stop (and the calories). It’s also across the street from The Swizzle Inn, so I think it’s perfectly acceptable to drink the drink and then eat the ice cream and call that lunch.

The Beach House at Blackbeards
5 Coot Pond Rd, St George's
+1 441 297 1400

I can’t say anything about the food here at this open-air café overlooking Achilles Bay, because I haven’t tried it. But I’m not sure it even matters, because the views are so spectacular that whatever they’re serving will taste that much better. It’s also the perfect place for a sunset cocktail.

Blu
25 Belmont Drive, Warwick WK06
+1 441 232 2323

The only negative thing I can say about Blu is that it’s only for open dinner, which is a shame because the views overlooking the Great Sound from its spot on the Belmont Hills Golf Course are spectacular. Come here for the sushi, which is always fresh, or if you’re feeling celebratory order a bottle of bubbles and an ounce or two of Osetra Caviar.

Bolero Bistro
95 Front St, Hamilton HM 12
+1 441 292 4507

Tucked into a narrow alleyway behind Front Street, Bolero is a family-run neighborhood bistro offering some pretty classic French dishes. What makes it a star in my book is the fact that you’ll be hard-pressed to find a tourist in the place, which is always a good sign.

Bouchee Bistro
75 Pitts Bay Rd
+1 441 295 5759

With 7 varieties of Eggs Benedict, there’s no better spot for breakfast in Hamilton. And, on Saturdays and Sundays, they serve the island’s traditional Codfish and Potatoes which is hard to find and impossible to resist.

Food Trucks
Various locations
Food trucks have hit Bermuda in a pretty significant way, and this is where you’ll find real, authentic cooking. Look for Smokin’ Barrel near the ferry station in Hamilton for some insane BBQ and DeGraff’s at City Hall for their meat pies.

Huckleberry
The Rosedon Hotel
61 Pitts Bay Rd, Hamilton
+1 441 478 2256

Huckleberry is everything I love about Bermuda in a nutshell: totally unexpected, incredibly charming and really, really good. Chef Lucy Collins who hails from Charleston via New York (she worked at Momofuku and Michael White’s Marea before heading back South to Bermuda) has a Michelin Star and a brilliant way of turning ingredients into magic. Her restaurant, located inside the uber-quaint and newly renovated Rosedon Hotel, brings farm to table to a whole new level. Everything on the menu is locally sourced, non-GMO and organic, and her menu manages to marry the flavors of Bermuda with her incredibly varied pedigree. Her avocado toast leaves all of the other avocado toasts you’ve choked down over the years in the dust, and her Tomahawk Pork Chop is so good you’ll likely be back for seconds. And this will sound insane, but I’m suggesting you do at least one breakfast on the front porch and one dinner in the dining room — both experiences are totally different and totally sublime.

Harry’s
96 Pitts Bay Road, Pembroke HM 08
+1 441 292 5533

Overlooking Hamilton Harbor, Harry’s is a finer dining spot, but the lounge area — Harry’s Bar – is great and serves some good tapas-like apps. And don’t miss Harry’s special rum blend, which was made to the specifications of Harry Cox, the Bermudian for whom the restaurant is named.

Mad Hatters
22 Richmond Rd, Hamilton,
+1 441 297 6231

Rumor has it that when the owner of Mad Hatters told his grandmother he was planning to get into the restaurant business, she told him he was “mad as a hatter.” And that’s how magic gets made. Chef Ben Jewett turns out new menus on a weekly basis based on what’s fresh and what he can get from the local farms.

Marcus’
Fairmont Hamilton Princess
76 Pitts Bay Rd.
+1 441 298 2028

Inside the Hamilton Princess is celeb Chef Marcus Samuelsson’s airy spot with a gorgeous bar, a view of the marina and a menu of his greatest hits. Try the wings (I promise, this is NOT bar food), the jerk cauliflower, and any of his specialty cocktails.

Mickey’s Bar & Bistro
60 South Shore Rd.
+1 441 236 3535

This is another spot where I can’t attest to what you’re going to eat, but Mickey’s, which sits in the sand at Elbow Beach, is virtually the only restaurant in Bermuda where you can dine al fresco while you have your toes in the sand. So, does it really matter what’s on your plate?

The Ocean Club
The Fairmont Southampton
101 South Shore Rd., Southampton, SN02
+1 441 238 8000
If you’re in the mood to sit outside, eat oysters, drink wine, and stare at the clear blue waters of Bermuda, then The Ocean Club is for you. If you’re not, then I feel sad about what you’re going to miss if you don’t at least do a drive by for a quick snack on the giant patio.

Port O' Call
87 Front St, Hamilton HM 11
+1 441 295 5373
Probably the most refined of the restaurants on Front Street, Port O Call feels a bit like a breath of fresh air on a strip of restaurants that are decidedly pub-like and on the heavier side. There’s lightness to the room as well as the menu. You can’t go wrong with any of the offerings, but I’d recommend the fish of the day, which is delivered daily by local fishermen.

Red Carpet
37 Reid Street, Hamilton
+1 441 292 6195

This is about as far off the radar as you can get. In fact, it’s virtually unknown by tourists, and I almost feel bad letting the cat out of the bag. Word on the street is that they serve the best lobster in all of Bermuda.

Rock Island Coffee
48 Reid Street, Hamilton
+1 441 296 5241

Yes, I consider coffee to be a food group, especially if it’s as good as the coffee at this Bermuda-meets-Williamsburg café. They roast their own beans and have a cute patio perfect for sipping your morning cup.

Rustico and La Trattoria
38 N Shore Rd, Flatts Village FL03
+1 441 295 5212

23 Washington Lane, Hamilton HM11
+1 441 295 1877

Once you’ve had your fill of fish, head over to either of these long-standing Italian spots on either end of the island for some surprisingly good pizza.

Wahoos Bistro + Patio
36 Water St, St.George's GE05
+1 441 297 1307

The thing to order at this waterfront eatery is — you guessed it — wahoo. The tacos are amazing (and enormous) as are the wahoo nuggets and the simply grilled wahoo. If you’re really hungry, though, order the Bermuda Triangle: Wahoo three ways. Other standouts are the traditional rice + peas and the sweet potato fries.

Waterlot Inn
The Fairmont Southampton
Middle Rd, Bermuda
+1 441-238-8000
Great steaks and perfect sunsets make this upscale steakhouse worth the trip for sure. Go early and enjoy a cocktail at The Dock.

BERMUDA | WHAT TO DO

The thing I wasn’t expecting about Bermuda, and the thing that most impressed and excited me, was the sheer number of attractions, activities and hidden gems there are to discover. There’s truly something for everyone — plus plus. Traveling with an adventurer? Go cliff diving into the turquoise sea off of Admiralty House Park, the ruins of a former naval residence. Want to explore the island on foot? Head to the 18-mile Railway Trail, built on the old train tracks that run from St. George’s all the way across the island straight up to Somerset Village. History Buff? Visit the town of St George’s, a UNESCO Heritage site that once served as the island’s capital (it was moved to the more centrally located city of Hamilton in 1815) and is home to St Peter’s Church, the Unfinished Church and Fort St. Catherine. Sun Seeker? There are beaches galore, and each has its own feel, from the cliffs of Jobson’s Cove to the calm waters of Tobacco Bay and miles and miles of pink sand in between. And this doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of Bermuda. My list is long and unfinished. I guess I’ll need to go back again — and again and again — if I want to see to see it all. But here’s my list in progress.

Rent a Twizzy. I’m starting with this because it’s the best way to navigate all 22 miles of Bermuda. Thanks to their Clean Air Act, each Bermudian household is allowed only one car, and car rentals are not permitted on the island. That leaves taxis (which can be pricey), bicycles (not for everyone) or mopeds (not the safest mode of transport for those unfamiliar with the island roads) and now, the Twizzy. At the end of 2016, the Government approved the use of these sort of open-air, moped-golf cart-electric smart car hybrids that are ridiculously fun to drive and are, in my opinion, the best way to get around the island. You can rent them at the Hamilton Princess from Current Vehicles (Ask for Somers – he’ll hook you up and let you know how to download the Maps.Me app that will show you the locations of charging stations around the island).

Get a Driver. I know I just said you should rent a Twizzy, and you should, but you should also hire a driver for at least one day to get a real feel for the island and all of its incredible history. But don't get just any driver. The one you want is Larry Rogers (+44 1 734 8024 larry.rogers67@gmail.com), and you’ll need to book him in advance. Larry’s a born and raised Bermudian with a keen sense of humor and a knowledge of the island that rivals Wikipedia. He also has ins at a few places that are off limits to tourists (ask him to take you to Palm Grove Gardens, the private residence of the Gibbons family that has some of the most beautiful landscapes you’ll ever see). I found him most helpful in going from Hamilton to St George’s as the roads in that direction aren’t quite as pretty as the ones to the South, and being in a car saved some time getting to this side of the island. And if a Twizzy isn’t your thing at all, I’d say get Larry to take you around as much as possible. And make sure to ask him to throw in some life lessons, or “Larryisms” as he likes to call them. #priceless.

Visit a Farm. This one is unexpected for sure — a farm visit might not be at the top of your list of things to do on an island vacation, but I implore you to give it a chance, because Wadson’s Farm is so much more than your average farm. Tom Wadson started farming in 1976 with one acre and he’s grown it to over 40 today.  With everything from curly kale to strawberries to hydroponic lettuces, not to mention chickens, ducks, hogs and sheep that are harvested on site, this is farm to table at its best and most authentic. No middle man, no mass distributor — just Tom’s partner, Marty Hattfield, going door to door to the island’s restaurants offering the week’s harvest. And it’s Marty who will show you the farm and give you quite a lesson in horticulture while he’s at it. Wadson’s Farm 10 Lukes Pond Road, Southampton, Bermuda +1 441-238-1862.

Check out The Naval Dockyards. Hop in your Twizzy and follow the South Road along some of the island’s most beautiful beaches, including Astwood Park, Horseshoe Bay and Elbow Beach. Take it all the way to the Northwest tip of the island, where you’ll find some amazing sites at the Naval Dockyards like the National Museum of Bermuda which houses more than 75,000 artifacts of Bermudian history, and the Clocktower Mall which is pretty much the only place you’ll be able to find any tourist trinkets to bring home.
Give yourself time, though, because there’s a ton to see on the way. I highly recommend a stop for lunch at Bella Vista Bar + Grill (Port Royal Golf Course, 5 Port Royal Drive, Southampton SB03, +441 232 0100) located at the top of Port Royal, one of the island’s only public golf courses. The food isn’t the draw here — it’s the view that will stop you in your tracks. Perched high above the sea, it’s the only place you’ll get to see the ocean from this vantage point and it is so, so worth it. Have a glass of rosé, a salad and take it all in. Moving on, swing by Glass Beach, a tiny bit of shoreline located near an old bottling factory that has now become a beach made almost entirely of sea glass. Be warned, though: It’s illegal to take anything away with you, so make sure you bring your camera. Back on the road, you’ll drive over Somerset Bridge, the world’s smallest drawbridge which connects Sandy’s Parish to Somerset Island. And I know you just finished lunch, so you may want to wait until after you’ve visited the Dockyards, but whatever you do, make a pit stop at Woody’s (1 Boaz Island, Somerset Village, Bermuda) for the best fish sandwich on the planet: Perfectly fried Grouper or Wahoo served on raisin bread (yes, you read that right) with coleslaw, cheese, tartar sauce and hot sauce. I know what it sounds like, but trust. I promise. And I’ll give you your money back if you disagree.
Note: The other option is to take a ferry from Hamilton to Somerset, which is a beautiful way to see the island, but in my opinion, you miss out on some good sightseeing. Unless of course you have time to try it both ways, then I say definitely do that.

Hit the Beach. The topography of Bermuda is so varied that it’s as likely to feel like the South of France as it is the Bogs of Ireland, and the island’s 75 miles of coastline are no exception. From the rocky cliffs of Admiralty to the gentle surf at John Smith Bay, there’s a beach for everyone and every activity. Tobacco Bay on the North Side near St George’s is known to be a great spot for snorkeling and has a beachside café with a bar and live music, making it a popular spot for the Sun Seeking generation. Horseshoe Bay, on the South Side is, and always has been, the most popular beach on the island; and Cooper’s Island, on the Southeastern tip, which was once occupied by a NASA space tracking station, is 45-acres of mostly unspoiled terrain that boasts miles of beautiful beaches alongside one of the world’s most impressive bird sanctuaries. And there are dozens of others worth discovering as well: Elbow Beach, Jobson’s Cove, Warwick Long Bay, Church Bay, Turtle Bay and Mermaid Bay to name just a very few. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Drew’s Bay in St George’s, which a local beach for two. Yes, only for two people. That's it. It’s an unwritten Bermudian rule, so be sure to change course if you arrive and find the sliver of beach already occupied.
But regardless of the beach you choose, rest assured it will be a slice of heaven, complete with crystal clear turquoise waters, beautiful pink sand, and an abundance of sunshine.

Get Out On the Water. Whether it’s paddle boarding on the North Shore where the waters are calm, taking a JetSki tour around the island from the Hamilton Princess Beach Club or snorkeling around Tobacco Bay, the waters around Bermuda are about as clear as you will ever see.  

Go Underground. The limestone caves that run beneath Bermuda are almost as awe-inspiring as the scenery above ground. And while there are tourist spots like the more commercial Crystal Caves and Fantasy Caves ( 8 Crystal Caves Road, Hamilton Parish CR 04, +1 441-293-0640 ), which have perfectly choreographed and scripted group tours with a modern infrastructure that takes you 120 feet below sea level, my suggestion is to find those caves that are a bit further off the beaten path. Try the Cathedral Cave at the Grotto Bay Hotel, where you can actually take a swim through the cave’s crystal clear waters, or Green Bay Cave in Harrington Sound, which is the longest cave in Bermuda, with more than 2 km of underground tunnels.

Take a Walk Through History. The original capital of Bermuda, St George’s, was founded in 1906 accidentally when Admiral George Sommers’ ship carrying 150 passengers was swept off course. It was a happy accident, though, because today St George’s is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and carries with it a rich and storied history. You could simply spend an afternoon walking the streets of St George’s, which is a wonder in itself. The architecture of Bermuda really shines here, but you really need at least a full day to explore everything St. George’s has to offer. St. Peter’s Church, the oldest Anglican Church in the Western Hemisphere; The Unfinished Church which was originally constructed to replace St Peter’s but was abandoned; Somers Garden where the heart of the town’s founder, George Somers, is buried; and Fort St Catherine, a seaside fort that was used first by Bermudian Militia and then by regular Royal Artillery units from 1612 into the 20th Century, are just a few of the places you must see. Add in a visit to The Bermudian Heritage Museum (29 Water St, St.George's, +1 441-297-4126), which celebrates the history of Bermuda’s African American heritage. In fact, the first slaves were brought to Bermuda in the 1620s and the slave trade wasn’t outlawed on the island until 1807, so it informs quite a bit of the island’s story. The museum was opened in 1998 with the goal of researching, collecting, preserving, displaying, and promoting this 400-year history, and it does it with incredible pride. It's a tiny building that you would likely walk right by, but don’t. Instead take a step inside, introduce yourself to Marion at the front desk, and ask her for a brief tour. It’s another example of the uniqueness of Bermuda, and a reminder that it really is so much more than just your typical vacation spot.

Follow the Scent.  Isabelle Ramsay-Brackstone took over The Bermuda Perfumery (Stewart Hall 5 Queen Street, St George's GE05, +1 441-293-0627), a ridiculously charming fragrance shop in 2004, and her passion for scent is literally intoxicating. Her perfumes, which are all hand crafted on site (on site! By hand! Not in a factory!), are meant to capture the essence of the island: the botanicals, the beach, the railway trail, the cuisine and the music. And they do just that. My personal favorite is South Water, a unisex scent that perfectly captures the pink sands and turquoise waters that surround the island. And as with the rest of Bermuda, there’s history here, too. Ask Isabelle to show you the original bottle of perfume that was recovered from the 1864 shipwreck of the Marie Celestia, and then smell the scent she was asked to recreate. You can also take an afternoon to create your own fragrance in the shop: On Tuesdays and Thursdays in the slower months (and by appointment the rest of the year), Isabelle offers workshops that let you in on the secrets of scent-making. You can also swing by on Wednesdays and Fridays for a spot of tea with Paula, the perfumery’s on-site Pastry Chef who bakes confections almost as delightful as the shop she serves them in.

Catch a Sunset. Sunsets in Bermuda are an event that shouldn’t be missed, and luckily there are some prime spots from which you can witness nature’s greatest show. Harborfront (40 Crow Lane at the BUEI, Pembroke HM 11, +1 441-295-4207) has a terrace perfect for a sunset cocktail; The Pompano Beach Club (36 Pompano Beach Road, Southampton SB 03, +1 800 343 4155) has the distinct honor of being considered the best place to snap a selfie during sunset and the Beach House at BlackBeards, right outside of Fort St Catherine on Achilles Bay, never disappoints with its views or its cocktails.

Pack a Picnic The one thing Bermuda lacks is outdoor dining. To remedy that, I’d suggest you head to Miles Market (96 Pitts Bay Rd, +1 441-295-1234), pick up a baguette or two, some prepared salads, a bottle of wine and make yourself a picnic. There’s almost nowhere on the island that isn’t picture-perfect, but some of my selects for picnic spots are the cliffs above the sea at Astwood Park on the South Shore, Admiralty House on the North Shore where you can spend a lazy afternoon diving off the Amalfi Coast-like cliffs into the turquoise waters; and Barr’s Bay Park, next to the Hamilton Bermuda Yacht Club where you can lay on the grass and watch the sailboats drift by.

Go Gallery Hopping. There’s a good amount of art to see in Bermuda, both local and foreign. See the landscape of Bermuda through the eyes of artists such as Georgia O’Keefe and Winslow Homer at Masterworks Museum of Bermudian Art ( 183 South Rd). The Bermuda National Gallery of Art (17 Church St, Hamilton) is another showstopper located inside Hamilton’s City Hall, full of local work that spans centuries. If you’re a modern art lover, don’t miss a tour of the Hamilton Princess (76 Pitts Bay Road, HM08, +1 441 295 3000) where the owners rotate the pieces from their private collection, which is massive and rivals any modern art museum you’ve ever been to. We’re talking Warhol, Damien Hirst, Magritte and De Kooning, and that’s not even a fraction of the list.

Get High. There are two lighthouses in Bermuda, and both are worth a visit. The Gibbs Hill Lighthouse (Lighthouse Road, St Anne's Rd, Cross Bay SN 01, Bermuda), was opened in 1844 and soars 114 feet high. Climb all 185 steps to the top for a great photo op. St. David’s Lighthouse, located on St. David’s Island overlooking the South Shore isn’t quite as high, but the views are equally as stunning.

Commune With Nature. Every inch of Bermuda exudes perfect, natural beauty, so it makes sense that the island is also home to miles and miles of nature reserves, botanical gardens and national parks. The Bermuda Botanical Gardens (169 South Road in Paget Parish DV 04, +1 441-236-4201) are 26 acres of everything from rose and hibiscus gardens to aviaries and greenhouses. There’s also an incredibly fragrant Garden for the Sightless full of flowers and aromatics, designed for the blind. Tom Moore’s Jungle (aka Walsingham Nature Reserve, Walsingham Ln., Harrington Sound Rd., Hamilton Parish) is a 12-acre reserve in Hamilton parish named for the Irish poet who spent most of his time in Bermuda, and along with lush greenery, you’ll find several natural swimming holes (Blue Hole is the most famous) as well as Tom Moore’s Tavern, the oldest eatery in Bermuda which dates back to the 17th century. Cooper’s Island Nature Reserve is surrounded by water on the Southeastern tip of Bermuda and provides access to a number of public beaches, including Clearwater Beach at Annie’s Bay, one of the island’s most pristine spots. There’s also a wildlife observation tower, which is a great place to spot whales in the spring. And if you’ve ever wondered what a rubber tree looked like, wonder no more: The Southlands Estate is home to the largest grove of rubber trees in Bermuda.

Drink It In. Last, but definitely not least, is my favorite activity: Drinking. Just kidding. Sort of. Seriously, though, you cannot and should not visit Bermuda without a quick (or not so quick) stop at The Swizzle Inn ( 3 Blue Hole Hill, CR 04) where, thanks to their potent Rum Swizzles (the official drink of Bermuda), you’ll “Swizzle In and Swagger Out.” And if it’s nightlife you’re looking for, take a stroll down Front Street in Hamilton. Stop into The Pickled Onion for a Dark & Stormy (another local fave) or the newly opened Astwood Arms, a Victorian style pub with great drinks and even better music. If it’s local flavor you’re after, make your way to Bermuda Bistro for great pub food and even greater live entertainment.

STOCKHOLM | WHERE TO STAY

Berns Hotel
Näckströmsgatan 8, 111 47
+46 8 566 322 00

With auspicious beginnings as one of Stockholm’s most beloved restaurants in 1863, followed by a stint as a celebrated nightclub, this hotel is steeped in Swedish history. The rooms are understated and luxurious but be warned: there’s still a nightclub in the building, along with bars and hopping restaurants, so if quiet and low-key is what you’re after, you might want to keep looking.

Ett Hem
Sköldungagatan 2, 114 27
+46 8 20 05 90

The Ett Hem is synonymous with Stockholm-chic, and for good reason. It’s small, cozy and just quirky enough to remind you that you’ve landed in a very special city. Set in a residential area, the rooms are small but super luxe and the restaurant is outstanding. Note: Even if you don’t stay here, make it a point to come for a drink or dinner. You won’t be disappointed.

Grand Hotel Stockholm
Södra Blasieholmshamnen 8, 103 27
+46 8 679 35 00

A self-proclaimed haven for celebs and high-profile clients since 1874, The Grand hotel is just that: Grand. Situated right on Stockholm’s harbor, The Grand Hotel is about as over a top as an old school, high-end hotel should be with rooms that harken back to a long-forgotten era. Service is sublime and the on-site restaurant, Matbaren https://www.grandhotel.se/en/food-beverage/mathias-dahlgren/matbaren by Chef Mathias Dahlgren, is one of the city’s best.

Lydmar
Södra Blasieholmshamnen 2, 103 24
+46 8 22 31 60

This is where we stayed, and there aren’t enough words for me to describe how much we loved it. Set right in the city center within walking distance of most everything, it boasts harbor views and a great, casual but hip restaurant. Rooms are comfortable and cozy with a good mix of old world charm and modern convenience. And bonus: while the hotel doesn’t have a gym onsite, it does have XX at the Grand Hotel, just next door, whose gym is as spectacular as it should be.

COPENHAGEN | WHERE TO STAY

Hotel D’Angleterre
Kongens Nytorv 34, 1050
+45 33 12 00 95

Look up the word “plush” in the dictionary and I’m pretty sure you’ll find a picture of this hotel next to the definition. After undergoing a $110 million reno, the D’Angleterre, which dates back to 1755, is as luxurious and serene as it should be, and its location in the center of Copenhagen makes it a prime place to make your home base. 

Hotel SP34
Sankt Peers Stræde 34
+45 33 13 30 00

With daily wine hour, live concerts and DJ sessions on Friday nights, and a fully organic breakfast buffet, SP34 is definitely for the modern traveler. Located in Copenhagen’s Bohemian Latin Quarter known for its cafes, restaurants and design stores, SP34 is a great option for those looking for a more local experience.

The Nimb Hotel
Bernstorffsgade 5, 1577
+45 88 70 00 00

With only 38 rooms, you’ll have to plan ahead, but it’s worth it. The rooms are individually decorated and each boasts a view of the beautiful Tivoli Gardens (and bonus: you’ll get free entrance with your stay).

The Sanders
Tordenskjoldsgade 15, 1055
+45 46 40 00 40

The newest addition to the Copenhagen boutique hotel scene, The Sanders marries high-end luxury with quirky Danish design. Owned by former Danish Royal dancer, Alexander Kølpin, it’s no surprise that the décor is somewhat theatrical, with each of the 54 rooms modeled after the design you might have found on a luxury train back in the day (think Orient Express). All of the public spaces are equally as charming and dramatic and offer lots of outdoor options, which is huge draw in the long days of the Danish summer.

SKT Petri Copenhagen
Krystalgade 22, 1172
+45 33 45 91 00

Maybe I love SKT Petri because its housed in what used to be home to the Daells Varehus department store, or maybe it’s because even though it’s large (288 rooms) it still feels boutique-y. But whatever it is, it’s a hotel that has my heart. The rooms are well designed, bright and clean and the Garden Courtyard is an awesome spot to take lunch.

COPENHAGEN | WHERE TO EAT

Barr
Strandgade 93, 1401
+45 32 96 32 93

When Noma chef René Redzepi closed his doors to relocate in February 2017, he turned the space over to German-born Danish chef Thorsten Schmidt, and to say that my meal here was extraordinary would not even begin to do it justice. For starters, the restaurants’ design is nothing short of perfect: all warm and woody and modern-rustic farmhouse. It’s a room you want to spend the day in (and actually, we did). The menu is small enough to allow you to order everything (we did that, too). There’s not one thing I would suggest you skip, but there are a few you cannot miss: Hot Smoked Herring (and I don’t like herring), the Ribs for Two (first choice) and Glazed Cod for Two (second choice) and the thing you REALLY can’t miss? The Belgian Waffle with Lumpfish Roe and Sour Cream. It’s so good you might even order it twice (guilty). Come for lunch when the light is soft and perfect and you can spend a decent amount of time, because I promise you won’t want to leave.

Bæst
Guldbergsgade 29, 2200
+45 35350463

No matter how good it is, at some point, you’re going to need a break from Nordic food, and Bæst not only thankfully serves pizza, it serves what might be the best pizza you’ll ever eat anywhere. Lively, loud and packed at all times, the menu is great, simple Italian and you can’t go wrong with any of it. But I promise, the pizza is where it’s at. (PS: this is another spot by Christian Puglisi and Kim Rosen. See Manfreds + Relae, below).

Geist
Kongens Nytorv 8, København K, 1050
+45 33133713

Chef Bo Bech secured a loan to open his first restaurant, Paustian, by setting up a grill on the street outside a bank and making a leek dish for the bank manager. The next day he had the money. Paustian earned him a Michelin star and praise from the food world (Noma chef Rene Redzepi called him one of the world’s greatest chefs). Today he is in the kitchen at Geist, his sexy, urban eatery that checks all of the Copenhagen restaurant scene boxes: Great design? Got it. Beautiful staff. Yep. Inventive, New Nordic Cuisine? Of course. In fact, it’s the perfect marriage of modern cuisine with a hearty Danish twist. Don’t miss the Baked Silver Onions with Tamari, Ginger, Lime and Sesame or the Suckling Pig. Both are signature dishes and both are sublime. 

Geranium
8, Per Henrico Lings Allé 4, 2100
+45 69 96 00 20

With three (yes, three) Michelin stars and a Chef who won a bronze, silver AND a gold in France’s Bocuse d’Or cooking competition, Geranium might very well be the best restaurant in Copenhagen. And what makes the Modern Scandinavian eatery even cooler is its location on the eighth floor of the country’s national soccer stadium. 

Gro Spiseri
Æbeløgade 4, 2100
+45 31 87 07 45

Really good family-style dishes served on a green roof just outside the city. The setting is as romantic as it gets, and the menu focuses on organic and local products.

Hija de Sanchez
8 Slagterboderne København V, 1716
+45 53 73 95 10

When it’s time for lunch and you need a taco (and who doesn’t?), this is your spot. Chef and Owner Rosio Sanchéz, a first generation Mexican-American from the Southside of Chicago, knows her stuff. And Mexican food in Copenhagen is sort of like finding an oasis in the desert. Sidebar: Sanchéz was the pastry Chef at Noma.

Höst
Nørre Farimagsgade 41, 1364
+45 89 93 84 09

Höst has won several International design awards, including the Worlds’ Best Designed Restaurant from the Restaurant & Bar Design Awards and the World’s Most Beautiful Restaurant from Travel + Leisure. And if you can believe it, the design takes a backseat to the food. With a menu based on seasonal Nordic cooking and a dining room that’s at once cozy AND airy, you cant go wrong with a meal here.

Manfreds
Jægersborggade 40, 2200
+45 36 96 65 93

Run by Chef Christian Puglisi and front-of-house head, Kim Rossen, who met at Noma years ago, this is the more laidback cousin to their high-end Relae. Part organic wine bar, part veggie-focused family-style restaurant (that also serves meat, to be clear), it’s cozy, intimate and super hearty. 

Mother
Høkerboderne 9-15, 1712
+45 22 27 58 98

Super casual pizza spot (with a Danish twist, obv). A great lunch option. 

Noma
Refshalevej 96, 1432
If you have heard anything abut dining in Copenhagen, you’ve likely heard about Noma, one of the most famous restaurants to ever grace this Earth. I won’t bore you with the details since I’m sure you know them already (and if you don’t, it’s been written about so many times I’d hate to even try to compete), but when we visited in January 2018, the new Noma was not yet open. We did tour the site, but alas missed eating there. All of this to say that I’ve included it not because I have first-hand knowledge of Chef René Redzepi’s brilliance, but because I firmly believe that every person who sets foot in Denmark should make a pilgrimage there. We did eat in the restaurants of many of Redzepi’s disciples, and the Noma movement is one that should not be missed. All of the food we had was extraordinary and inventive and worthy of all of the praise its been given, so I can only guess that the actual Noma will be even more spectacular.

Relae
Jægersborggade 41, 2200
+45 36 96 66 09

Choose from 4 or 7-course tasting menus that are chock full of sustainable ingredients and won’t break the bank. Run by Chef Christian Puglisi and Kim Rossen, two of Noma’s disciples, the feel is decidedly so. And while the cuisine is mostly New Nordic, it’s also something more with some Italian and even Asian inspiration.

Torvehallerne
Frederiksborggade 21, 1360
+45 70 10 60 70

One of the best food halls I’ve seen with over 60 stalls, it’s perfect for a stroll and a great, casual lunch. 

Sanchez
Istedgade 60, 1650
+45 31 11 66 40

She may have started with tacos, but Chef Rosio Sanchéz moved on to something between casual and fine Mexican dining and you should be glad she did. The perfect spot for a break from New Nordic. 

108
Strandgade 108, 1401
+45 32 96 32 92

Another of Noma’s siblings, this one with one Michelin star, the only way I can describe 108 is that it’s super cool. All steel and glass and concrete, the design is modern as is the menu. And it is GOOD. And yes, it’s New Nordic.

STOCKHOLM | WHERE TO EAT

Agnes
Norra Agnegatan 43, 112 29
+46 8 410 470 19

I would say that this was hands down our favorite meal in Stockholm. It’s a relatively new (June 2017), neighborhood spot that marries the best of Spanish-style Tapas with traditional Swedish dishes and don’t be concerned by the slightly unfocused menu — every dish we had (and I am ashamed to tell you we had them all) was spot on. Snag the Chef’s table if you can, where you can sit by the open kitchen and have a nice chat with the Chef while he cooks for you.

Babette
Roslagsgatan 6, 113 55
+46 8 509 022 24
Sometimes you need a break from Swedish food, and pizza, being the universal perfect food, is always a good choice. And the good news is that Babette's happens to be amazing.

Café Nizza
Åsögatan 171, 116 32
+46 8 640 99 50

Brought to you by former managers of Frantzén, Café Nizza is open 7 days a week  from 12-12 and is always busy. The three course lunch menu and four course dinner menu change daily, and both can be enjoyed in the huge outdoor area during the summer months.

Ekstedt
Humlegårdsgatan 17, 114 46
+46 8 611 12 10

Chef Nikolas Ekstedt grew up cooking on a grill, but one day became impatient and couldn’t wait for the coals to get hot, so he pushed his pan directly into the flames, and that’s how magic gets made. Today, he cooks at Ekstedt his eponomous restaurant, in a fire pit, a wood fired oven and a wood stove. And that’s it. And it’s amazing. The Setting is New Nordic, as is the food, and if you can snag a seat facing the kitchen, you’re golden.

Frantzén
26, Klara Norra kyrkogata, 111 22
+46 8 20 85 80
This is Stockholm's (maybe even Sweden's) most celebrated restaurant, with two Michelin stars and celeb Chef Björn Frantzén in the kitchen. Book in advance, though , because the restaurant only seats 23, and some extra cash to cover the $375 tasting menu. It's well worth any trouble, though, because the space and the food are spectacular.

Matbaren
The Grand Hotel
Södra Blasieholmshamnen 6, 111 48
+46 8 679 35 84

Michelin-Starred Chef Mathias Dahlgren makes damn good food at all three of his restarants, but Matbaren is my fave. It’s laid back, locally focused and gorgeous. And the location inside The Grand Hotel can’t be beat.

Nytorget 6
Nytorget 6, 116 40
+46 8 640 96 55

Set on a quiet street in trendy Södermalm, Nytorget 6 is a cozy bistro known for its Swedish meatballs, which should be the first thing you eat when you land, because: Ikea. Seriously, though, it’s cute and feels super authentic and not at all tourist-y. We had our first meal here, and didn’t disappoint.

Oaxen Krug
Beckholmsbron 26, 115 21
+46 8 551 531 05
Oaxen opened 21 years ago by husband and wife team Magnus Ek and Agent Green. They've come a long way since the early days and today

Fotografiska
Stadsgårdshamnen 22, 116 45
+46 8 509 005 00

Located inside the city’s Museum of Photography (which is incredible, btw), this ain’t your average museum café. A well-known (and loved) restaurant in its own right, this is serious farm to table dining, with a focus on vegetables. Open for brunch (on the weekends) and dinner. 

Sturehof
Stureplan 2, 114 35
+46 8 440 57 30

Fish is the focus at this bistro located on the South side of Stureplan. Open 7 days a week, 365 days a year, it’s always busy and with good reason. Its vibe is Grand Central Oyster bar (minus the tourists) meets any of Paris’ best bistros and it’s the perfect spot for a bottle of wine, a plate of oysters or sautéed sole and some really good people watching.

Svartgrens
Tulegatan 24, 113 53
+46 8 612 65 50

Everything here is made from scratch: They dry age their beef, smoke their own bacon, and base their stocks with bones from the same farms they get their meat (which is all locally sourced and butchered, btw). The menu changes daily but get a steak because it’s just that good.

COPENHAGEN | WHAT TO DO

Amalienborg Palace
Amalienborg Slotsplads 5, 1257
+45 33 12 21 86

The home of the Danish Royal Family, Amalienborg Palace is all Rococo goodness. 

Designmuseum
Bredgade 68, 1260
+45 33 18 56 56

This is a must-do. Follow Danish design from the beginning of time through present day, including fashion. It’s a great first-stop for a crash course in what you’ll see for the rest of your trip.

Louisiana Museum of Modern Art
Gl Strandvej 13, 3050 Humlebæk
Located 35km from the city, this museum is well worth the trip. From Picasso to Giacometti, there are over 4000 pieces in the permanent collection, so make some time. And don’t miss a walk through the incredible Sculpture Park.

Glyptoteket
Dantes Plads 7, 1556
The personal collection of Carl Jacobsen, the son of the Carlsberg Brewery family, it’s primarily a sculpture museum (you can see Rodin’s The Kiss here) and the collection focuses mostly on Ancient Greek and Roman works as well as art from the Danish Golden Age. 

STOCKHOLM | WHAT TO DO

The ABBA Museum
Djurgårdsvägen 68, 115 21
+46 8 121 328 60

Because, ABBA.
Seriously, though, if you ever listened to their music (or saw Mamma Mia), please go. It’s campy AF and so worth the entertainment.

Artipelag
Artipelagstigen 1Värmdö
+46 8 570 130 00

Think of this as Stockholm’s version of DIA Beacon, except it’s in Stockholm so it’s infinitely cooler. Located about a 20 minute drive outside of the city (you can get there by boat in the warmer months), on the island of Värmdö, the modern art mecca was opened BabyBjörn founders Björn and Lillemor Jakobson in 2012. With more than 100,000 square feet of interior art space plus walking trails that snake endlessly through the island’s pine trees at the water’s edge, this is a place you have to see. You just have to. The space includes a design shop, two restaurants and endless inspiration.

Drottningholm Palace
Drottningholm
+ 46 8 402 62 80

Don’t be surprised if the home of the Royal Family looks a lot like a mini-Versailles. It was, in fact. inspired by it, and it’s just as beautiful as its French counterpart (this one, though, is on UNESCO's World Heritage list). To get there, you take It’s about an hour boat ride you take to get there, complete with A classic sight an hour boat ride from the city and a beautifully maintained mini-Versailles that was inspired by 17th-century French architecture and has incredible, untouched Gustavian interiors.

Fotografiska
Stadsgårdshamnen 22, 116 45
+46 8 509 005 00
I’m a huge fan of photography, and this museum exceeded all of my expectations. The exhibits are decidedly cutting edge and with their incredible restaurant, it’s the perfect way to spend an afternoon.

Royal Palace of Stockholm
Gamla Stan Slottsbacken
+46 8 402 61 30

The Swedish are good at royalty, so a visit to their Royal Place is a must. Although the Swedish royal family now resides in Drottningholm Palace, the Royal Palace still holds an important role, both as a historic monument and as the host of banquets and receptions, and it’s pretty fun to look at.

Gamla Stan
Stockholm’s Old City is well worth a tour. Dating back to 1252, it’s one of Europe’s best preserved Medieval cities, full of twisty narrow streets and grand buildings.

Humlegården
Karlavägen 32, 114 31
+46 73 685 56 07
This park on Ostermalm is a fave for a lazy afternoon picnic.

Östermalm
This is where you’ll find the highest land prices in all of Sweden, so you can imagine the types of homes, shops and restaurants you’ll find here. This is where the bulk of the great design stores are (See WHERE TO SHOP)

Östermalms Saluhall
Östermalmstorg 114 39
This is considered to be the world’s 7th best food hall, and it’s a must-see. You’ll find everything here, plus enough Swedish treats to bring hone with you.

Skansen
Djurgårdsslätten 49-51, 115 21
+46 8 442 80 00

Skansen is the world’s oldest open air museum. Which is what, exactly? Glad you asked. Basically, it’s 150 historic homes in a park setting. You can go into the houses (some of which date back to 1600s) and see the stunningly preserved interiors. We didn’t go (because, winter), but this is from our friends at Indagare Travel, who I trust implicitly: The residences were collected toward the end of the 19th century, when scholar and folklorist Artur Hazelius rescued 150 outstanding traditional houses and placed them here among gardens and allées. Of special note: Skogaholm Manor, built in 1680, has superb Gustavian interiors with decorative pale gray paneled walls. There’s even a plaster bust of Gustav III in the salon.

Sodermalm
This is the hip, artsy area of Stockholm (Fotografiska is located here), full of cute cafes and shops. In the summer you can even swim off the small beaches in Tantolunden park.

Vasa Museum
Galärvarvsvägen 14
+46 8 519 548 00

The warship Vasa sank just minutes after launching in 1628 and spent the next 333 years under water. In 1961 the ship was salvaged and the Vasa Museum was born. It’s oddly (or not, if you’re into old ships, which I’m not) incredibly interesting and one of those Stockholm institutions you just shouldn’t miss. 

COPENHAGEN | WHAT TO BUY

The Apartment
Overgaden neden Vandet 33, 1st floor, 1414
Enter this fully shoppable apartment, and you’ll want to just grab your bags and move in. Honestly it’s chock full of everything that makes Denmark the design capital of the universe.

Cinnober Bookshop
Landemærket 9, 1119
+45 26 13 98 33

If you’re into paper and stationary and desk accessories, Cinnober is for you. There’s a beautiful selection of coffee table books as well.

Dansk Made for Rooms
Istedgade 80, 1650
+45 32 18 02 55

More great Danish design.

Designer Zoo
Vesterbrogade 137, 1620
+45 3324 9493

There are 7 in-house designers over 7 workshops, all selling very cool and unique handmade goods.

Dora
Værnedamsvej 6, 1619
+45 32 21 33 57

Classic design on a super cute corner.

Georg Jensen
Brigade 12, 1260
+45 3311 5252
Because, George Jensen.

Hay
Østergade 61, 1100 (2nd + 3rd floors)
+45 42 82 08 20

Designer tech pieces alongside dishware and every other home accessory you can imagine.

Herrernes Magasin by David K
Nørregade 20, 1165
+45 33 11 06 23

Men always get the short end of the shopping stick, so let him loose in here and he’ll forget all about the bags you’re making him carry. From bowties to blazer, he’ll walk out looking like a real Danish Gent.

Illumes Bolighus
Amagertorv 10, 1160
+45 33 14 19 41

Copenhagen’s version of a department store is a mecca for modern design.

Rue Verte
Ny Østergade 11, 1101
+45 33 12 55 55

High-end interior design in a building almost as beautiful as what they’re selling.

Stilleben
Niels Hemmingsens Gade 3, 1153
+45 33 91 11 31

The best of Danish design (because EVERYONE needs a glass teapot. Not kidding).

Storm
Regnegade 1, 1110
+45 3393 0014

It’s easy to forget about clothing when you’re surrounded by so much home design, but don’t miss a visit to Storm, where you’ll find cutting edge men’s and women’s brands alongside great local skincare and makeup brands.

Summerbird
Kronprinsensgade 11, 1114
+45 33 93 80 40

When you need some energy to keep going on your shopping excursion, head to this amazing chocolate shop where all of their chocolate is from Valrhôna and has zero additives or preservatives.

STOCKHOLM | WHAT TO BUY

Acne Studios
Multiple Locations
Your favorite store actually hails from Sweden.

Asplund
Sibyllegatan 31, 114 42
+46 8 662 52 84

Danish furniture and then more Danish furniture. But you’re in Stockholm, so you might just want to move into the showroom.

DesignHouse Stockholm
Hamngatan 18-20, 111 77
+46 08 762 81 19

The name kind of says it all, but this is where you’ll find all if the Swedish modern design you can handle.

Grandpa Södermannagatan
Södermannagatan 21, 116 40
+46 8 643 60 80

Fashion, home décor and vintage furniture in one of the coolest spaces you’ll ever see. And the name is so perectly Swedish, you have to love it.

Jacksons
Sibyllegatan 53
+46 8 665 3350

Vintage furniture in Stockholm is almost a better score than the new stuff, and Jacksons is the place to find it.

Snickarbacken
Snickarbacken 7
+46 8 667 10 22

Located just on the border of Ostermalm, you’ll find everything from locally made jams to houseplants and art in this converted 19th century stable. There’s also a cute café serving breakfast and lunch.

Svenskt  Tenn
Strandvägen 5, 114 51
+46 8 670 16 00

This is one of Stockholm’s original design stores, showcasing some of the most beasutiful fabrics and pieces. They also have a beautiful tea salon if shopping if you need a break from shopping.

CARTAGENA | WHERE TO STAY

There aren't a ton of choices inside the walled city, but they are all charming and provide calming oasis from the bustle and heat of the city streets. The most important features to look for are pools and air conditioning, both of which are necessities in the heat as far as I'm concerned.

BASTION
Super cool and boutique-y, it's less Cartagena and more high design but the pool, rooftop deck and restaurant (El Gobernador by Rausch) make it a great place to hang your hat.

CASA SAN AGUSTIN
Set in a former monastery, Casa San Agustin does a flawless job of maintaining its authenticity while providing 5-star service. Everything from the most comfortable beds on the planet to beautifully maintained gardens make it a total pleasure.

HOTEL SOFITEL LEGEND SANTA CLARA CARTAGENA
It's all about the pool here — it's the ;largest inside the walled city. In fact the entire hotel is larger than any other inside. Housed in former convent, the building is beautiful but the rooms definitely feel less authentic and more big box than some others.

THE TCHERASSI HOTEL + SPA
After a two-year restoration designed by Latin fashion designer Silvia Tcherassi, The Tcherassi Hotel + Spa  is a 250 year old colonial mansion complete with seven unique rooms and suites, In addition to oversized, luxurious guestrooms featuring high ceilings, rich wood floors, private balconies and large open bathrooms, the hotel boasts a full service spa, a vertical garden of more than 3000 local plants, four pools and a roof deck with 360 degree views of both the historic city and the sea.

CARTAGENA | WHERE TO EAT

A couple things about food in Cartagena: it's good, but not quite as good as you want it to be; street food can be amazing but can also lead to some stomach issues, so be smart and start a strong dose of probiotics a few weeks  before you go; and don't be afraid to ask for salt as it seems under seasoning is a city-wide epidemic. It's also important to remember that Cartagena has only become a popular destination in recent years and the food scene is still trying to catch up.  What they lack in food, though, they more than make up for in friendly service, lively atmosphere and great attitudes.

ALMA at Casa San Agustin
We stayed at this hotel and it's probably one of the most charming places I have ever been. And the courtyard restaurant doesn't disappoint either. Just stick with  the Aquachile which is fresh and light, the roasted sea bass and the shrimp skewers (and the Iberico ham is pretty good too). Stay away from what they recommend, though — the Sea Bass Chicharrones — which sound amazing but are actually just fried and under seasoned fish.

CAFE DEL MAR
Centro, Baluarte Santo Domingo
+57 5 664 6513
I don't even know if they serve food here to be honest, but the drinks are good and the view at sunset from the terrace is not be missed.

DEMENTE
Cra. 10 #29-29, Cartagena
+57 5 660 4226
Outside the walled city in Getsamani (think Williamsburg), Demente is super cool and super inventive Tapas-Italian-Colombian influenced food that is all locally sourced. The pizzas are great and it's awelcome change from the norm.

EL KILO
Cra. 7 #36122, Cartagena
+57 5 6641779
El Kilo is a relative newcomer to the Cartagena food scene and it's probably one of the younger and more hip-feeling places. The food is easy — ceviches, raw bar and skewers. The whole fish was one of the best we had.

LA CEVICHERIA
Cl. 39 #7 14, Cartagena
+57 5 660 1492
The name says it all.

LA MULATA
Calle Quero 9 58 Sandiego, Cartagena
+57 5 6646 222
perfect spot for lunch. Young, busy and full of locals.

LA PERLA
Cl. 35 #4 - 42, Cartagena
+57 5 664 2157
Another Peruvian-style place that we didn't love, but have heard such good things about I have to hope they were just having an off night.  Regardless, the Tamarind Margarita was well worth the visit.

LA VITROLA
Centro, Calle Baloco, #2-01, Cartagena
The menu is authentic Cuban (!) and the atmosphere is worth the visit. It's pretty old school so make sure you're no traveling with anyone under the age of 16  — they won't be allowed in!

OOH LA LA
Cl. 35 #4-48, Cartagena
+57 5 664 4321
We did a cooking class here (See WHAT TO DO) and the food was great. Run by a husband and wife team (he's French, she's Cartagenian) who worked all throughout Paris, the food is a great combo of both if their backgrounds.

RESTAURANT CANDÉ
Candé is a fave for tourists and Cartagenians alike. The menu is 100% authentic with a few twists and the room is lovely: whitewashed and fresh. We loved it for lunch. Don't miss the traditional ceviches, the chicharrones and the crab rice.ing on menu.

VERA
In the Tcherassi Hotel + Spa
Centro, Calle Del Sargento Mayor, #6-12, Cartagena
+57 5 664 4445
This might have been the best restaurant we ate in, which is weird considering its Italian, but Chef Daniel Castano spent 12 years working in New York with Mario Batali, so there you have it.  The pastas were great and I had a fantastic Mediterranean salad with perfectly grilled artichokes and a perfect dressing. It's not easy to find a green vegetable in Cartagena, let alone a salad, so this was a welcome change.

CARTAGENA | WHAT TO BUY

morchilas-bags.jpg

 

 

CIGARS
Stay away from buying them on the street — they are likely fake. Instead go to Casa Havana for a cigar, a mojito and some live salsa. 

EMERALDS
If you're into them, this is the place to get them as Colombia is the world's largest producer of Emeralds. From what I've heard, Lucy Jewelry is the place to get them.

MORCHILAS
These bags are literally sold everywhere. They come in bright colors or neutrals and can range in price from $10 to $50 depending on where you go. I got all of mine on the street and they made great homecoming gifts. 

THIS IS CARTAGENA
There are bunch of these around the city and they sell local wares all produced in Cartagena.

CARTAGENA | WHAT TO DO

Cartagena is a very smalll city with a very big heart, but not a ton of stuff to do. Here are some of the highlights.

CAFE HAVANA
While Cafe Havana opened as recently as 2006, it's become a mainstay of Cartaganian nighttime. Located in Getsmani, it's the ONLY place to go to hear live salsa. 

CARTAGENA CONNECTIONS
I'm not usually one for organized tours, but we wanted to do a couple of special excursions and were directed to Kristy Ellis and her company, Cartagena Connections. It turns out that Cartagena lends itself perfectly to these types of tours because, as I said, there's not a ton of stuff to do on one's own, but there is a ton of history and incredible stories to be found if you find the right guide. Kristy, an Australian transplant, is just that. She knows everything about everywhere and is an absolute joy to be around — something that seems like a requirement for a tour guide but so often isn't the case.  We took a tour of the Mercado Bazurto and did a cooking class with her, and if we had more time we for sure would have taken advantage of any number of the other tours she offers.

GABRIEL GARCIA MARQUEZ
If you're a fan of Magical Realism, then Cartagena is the place for you. Birthplace of the creator of the genre, you can visit Marquez' house and take audio tours of the streets and places where many of his books, like One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera, were set.

MERCADO BAZURTO
Here's what I have to tell you before I say anything else: Don't plan on doing a tour of this market by yourself. Really — don't. I don't care how adventurous or well-traveled you are. Call Kristy (see above) and have her take you, because this is no cute farmer's market, this is about as down and dirty as you can get, and anything you think you might know about health and sanitary regulations needs to be put to rest. It's hot, muddy, dirty and little bit scary, but it's well worth the trip to get a true sense of the culture. And make sure to find the "food court" and have a bite at Restaurant Cecilia, made famous by Anthony Bourdain, where the rice and fish are both amazing and the beers are super cold.

THE ROSARIO ISLANDS
Like I said, Cartagena is HOT. And while the Caribbean lays just outside the walls, the beaches in the city are not swimmable and are inhabited mostly by  the homeless. So do yourself a favor and rent a boat (we used Boating Cartagena and they were amazing) and head out to The Rosario Islands, an archipelago about 62 miles off the coast of Cartagena. You won't even believe you're in the same country - the water is crystal clear and the snorkeling is fantastic. The guys at Boating Cartagena can organize lunch for you at any of the hotels on the islands which makes for a really nice day spent getting massages, having lunch and laying on the beach. And if you can, take 2 days and spend one having lunch at Cholon, an "island" (it's really a peninsula, but who's counting) located in Baru. And by lunch I mean eating freshly caught seafood while standing under a thatched hut in the middle of the ocean (they'll also deliver food to your boat, but trust me on this — you want to eat it in the water because you will never ever have that kind of experience again).  And don't say no to he guy who comes by canoe and offers you freshly snatched oysters, either. Apparently Cholon can turn into quite the party during the high season, but if you get there early enough you can get out before the real partying starts.

ICELAND | WHERE TO EAT

A note on eating in Iceland: We love to find little local restaurants in our travels and had hoped that on all of our day trips outside of the city to see various natural phenomena we would land in some amazing spots for real, local, authentic food. This is not the case. There are roadside stops for gas, coffee, rest rooms and Icelandic clothing, and this is where you eat. It’s strictly soups and sandwiches, which are fine, but nothing to write home about. The only exception is the very small restaurant on the black sand beach in Vik. It’s called the Black Beach Restaurant and if you can snag a window seat, you'll have a pretty good view of Dyrhólaey and the ocean. The lamb stew is good, but the lamb chops are the thing to get, bizarre as it may seem. Another note: for a reason I cannot seem to determine, Icelanders love to add fruit to their savory dishes. Sauces are all a bit sweet and unless you love that, you just might want to watch out and ask for sauce on the side when appropriate.

BAEJARINS BEZTU PYSLUR 
Tryggvatagata 1, 101 Reykjavík
+354 511 1566
This is the stand that sells the most famous hot dog in Iceland, and maybe the world. I’m told the line can take over 2 hours at lunchtime, so we opted for a pre-dinner snack and only waited a few minutes. So what’s so special about it? Well, it’s made of lamb for starters and somehow it has a much better “snap” than our regular all-American dogs. It also comes loaded – I mean loaded — with toppings: ketchup, sweet mustard, remoulade and raw onions and fried onions, which might be a good thing, but I actually found the sauces to be so sweet I had ordering regrets.

DILL 
Hverfisgata 12, 101 Reykjavík
+354 552 1522
Often compared to places like Noma and Per Se, Dill has earned the reputation of being the best restaurant in Reykjavik. And it actually is, if super high end, new Nordic cuisine is what you’re after. Chef Gunnar Karl Gislason creates modern dishes using only the freshest and most local ingredients making sure to stick closely with Icelandic traditions.  Options are a 5 or 7 course tasting menu with or without a wine pairing and often include things you have always heard about but probably never tasted like reindeer or whale. But fear not, they’re done in only the most perfect way.

FISHMARKET (Fiskmarkadurinn) 
Adalstræti 12, 101 Reykjavik
+354 578 8877
Here’s where you’ll find all that puffin you’ve been hearing about, but it’s likely smoked and it’s definitely delicious. Flavors skew towards Asian, which is a welcome twist and if you’re going to eat fish in Iceland. Which, of course, you are.

GRILLMARKET (Grillmarkaðurinn)
2a Lækjargata, 101 Reykjavík
+354 571 7777
The meaty brother of the below-mentioned Fishmarket, we happened upon this spot for lunch one day and loved it so much, we went back for dinner. The name says it all: grilled everything — meats, fish and vegetables and all to perfection. The bi-level space is Iceland industrial chic: cozy, glowy complete with lava rock walls and the service is as friendly as it gets. Please don’t miss the crispy duck salad (one of the few dishes where I actually enjoyed the use of fruit) or the ribs — and please bring me back a rack. Also, a note: it’s not that easy to find – while the address lands you on Lækjargata, the entrance is actually down a little alley around the corner next to the Nordic Store.

GEIRI SMART 
Canopy Reykjavik
Hverfisgata 30, 101 Reykjavík
+354 528 7050
My love for this hotel is endless and includes this restaurant, which is as perfect as everything else they do. The menu seems tricky, but it’s well worth it and the Chef is reportedly the best in Iceland at the moment.

ICELANDIC FISH + CHIPS 
Tryggvagata 8, 101 Reykjavik
+354 511 1118
There’s a serious lack of ambiance here, but the location on the harbor makes it a great spot for lunch. Some say it’s the best fish and chips in Reykjavik, and that just might be true. We also loved the salads, the Skyr dipping sauces and the oven baked fish. Just make sure to ask for a side of malt vinegar because it makes the meal.

KOL 
Skólavörðustígur 40, 101 Reykjavik
Unsurprisingly, most of the entrees here are cooked in the coal oven (get it?). Opt for the seafood tower (because, seafood tower) and then if you’re not sick of them, the langoustines.

LAVA AT THE BLUE LAGOON
+354 420 8800
We had low expectations for our meal at Lava because as awesome as the Blue Lagoon is, it’s also one of the biggest tourist destinations (if not THE biggest) in the country, and good food and tourist traps don’t usually go hand in hand. I’m pleased to tell you we were totally wrong. Aside from the fact that many diners are still in various states of undress: bikinis, swim trunks, spa robes, the food is pretty freakin’ phenomenal and a great way to start your Icelandic adventures.  The fish is fresh, the rack of lamb tender and perfectly seasoned and the vegetarian options were inventive and delicious without being precious. The views of the lagoon are also pretty spectacular and the soaring walls of lava rock are something to behold.

MESSINN
Laekjargata 6b, Reykjavik 101
+354 546 0095
A relative newcomer, Messinn might win my vote for best fish we had while we were in Reyjkavik. A favorite among locals (always a good sign), the menu is 99% fish and 100% delicious. The pan-fry’s are just that – fish served in pans with a variety of set ups. My favorite was the salmon done with coconut, cashews and chili (the heat!) and in second place was the plaice with tomatoes, capers and garlic. For the non-fish eaters the giant pan of ratatouille and Israeli couscous is a delicious option.

NAM LAUGAVEGUR
Laugavegur 18, 101 Reykjavik
+354 519 6303
At some point you'll need a break from Icelandic food. You'll also need a break from the astronomical expense of eating out, so head to Nam, a Vietnamese noodle and dumpling bar set behind a tourist shop on the main shopping street. The menu is simple and the dishes fresh and refreshing. I know it sounds weird, but I promise you it's worth it.

ROK 
Frakkastigur 26a, Reykjavik 101
+ 354 544 4443
Tucked onto the cutest street you’ll ever see, next to the famous Hallgrímskirkja Church, Rok serves an Icelandic version of Tapas, which after 5 days of eating Icelandic food, was a nice change. The menu when we were there was wintery (because, um, it was winter) and was pretty perfect: Christmas lamb chops with cumin, pulled pork, duck comfit and the like. We also had a ptarmigan soup, which was insanely good. What’s ptarmigan? I’m glad you asked. It’s a partridge-like bird that lives in Iceland. Who knew?

SÆMUNDUR Í SPARIFÖTUNUM at the KEX HOSTEL
Skúlagata 28, 101 Reykjavik
+ 354 561 6060
Forget what you think you know about hostels because Kex isn’t that. This former biscuit factory overlooking the harbor is one of the hottest spots in the city, and its Gastropub is the perfect place for a cozy Icelandic meal.

SLIPPBARRIN AT THE MARINA HOTEL
Myrargata 2, 101 Reykjavík
+354 560 8080
Cool hotel, cooler restaurant. Especially if you like cocktails, like the Pippi Gonzales which is made with dill aquavit. The menu is made up of locally sourced ingredients and the room is as fresh as the menu.

TULUM | THE UPDATE

I am fortunate enough to take 5 days every year to go to Tulum, which is one of my favorite places on the planet. I just got back from my 5th annual escape and while I have pretty much exhausted my recs in the previous guide (read it here), I needed to add a few things that I was lucky to discover on this trip.

WHERE TO SLEEP

HOTEL NOMADE TULUM
Carretera Tulum-Boca Paila, Km.10.5,
+1 877 265 4139

With the same owners as my Beloved Be Tulum,  Nomade Tulum is the more esoteric sibling. More hip commune than hotel, they call it a  "human centered hotel, conceived as a temporary habitat for those ready to learn and share, ready to awake the soul, and free the mind." Rooms are all hand-built from natural local materials, creating a combination of modern eco-chic with upscale glamping. And with weekly retreats, workshops and talks alongside a "culinary shaman" who prepares raw and cooked organic fare, you're sure to return to real life a whole lot more centered than you were when you left.

SANARA TULUM
Carretera Tulum-Boca Paila, Km 8.2
"Space to heal, breathe and be free," Sanara may sound like your typical Yoga Retreat/Hotel, but it's far from ordinary. It's won a whole bunch of Architectural awards, boasts an incredibly beautiful (and healthy) restaurant called The Real Coconut and yes, the beachside yoga pavillion is pretty spectacular. Make sure to book a beachside room, though. The jungle side can prove to be a little dicey at night.


WHERE TO EAT

ARCA
Carretera Tulum-Boca Paila, Km. 7.6
I was wondering how long it would take someone to come in and give Eric Werner of Hartwood a run for his money. Well, these two Chefs: Maya from Mexico and Fausto from San Francisco have finally done it. The open air space is maybe even more gorgeous than its competition next door, and the food is as inventive and fresh, but is a lighter version of what Werner does at Hartwood.  Everything is farm (and sea) to table, sustainable and delicious. And the drinks are on point as well. Arca is a welcome addition to the Tulum dining scene for sure.

LUNCH AT NOMADE
Sit on the beach, order a margarita and get the whole fish with green sauce. Then send me a thank you note.

LUNCH AT LA ZEBRA
Carretera Tulum-Boca Paila, Km 8.2
+52 1 984 115 4726

I know I mentioned the new chef's table at La Zebra in my last Tulum post, but what I had never done before was go for lunch. I can't recommend it highly enough - the food is traditional Mexican, and there's nothing fancy about the menu, but the flavors are all just a little elevated and the food feels a bit more refined than most of what you'll find in Tulum. Tacos are all fantastic (pork cheek sous vide, anyone?) as are the ceviches, and I kid you not: the chicken quesadilla is the best I've ever had

← Back to Tulum

Tulum | Where to Eat

A Note on Eating in Tulum: with the exception of one or two places, almost all restaurants are predominately outside, so dress accordingly: spots on the beach side which can get windy and those on the jungle side often require bug spray.

ANTONITO'S LA CHIAPANECA
Cancun - Chetumal Mz 6 Lt 8, Centro
+52 1 984 114 6386
In Town

Cheap yet amazing tacos here, the best being the Al Pastor. Oh, and they’re .52 each.

BE TULUM
Km.10 Carretera Tulum-Boca Paila
+52 1 984 803 2243
Beach Side

As much I love staying here (see Where to Stay), I love eating here even more. It’s almost gotten to the point where we often will do all three meals in a day. Tables are set right in the sand and the menu is traditional Mexican with incredible ceviche, grilled fish and amazing tacos.

CASA BANANA
Km. 8.5, Carretera Tulum Boca Paila
+52 1 984 806 2871
Jungle Side

They call it urban rustic cuisine. I call it delicious. It’s Argentine and most everything is cooked in the wood-fired oven and is all really, really good. Their craft bar program is also impressive.

CASA JAGUAR
Km 7.5, Carretera Tulum-Boca Paila
+52 1 998 222 2749
Jungle Side

It might actually be too hip for me, but Casa Jaguar is the darling of all the cool peeps who head to Tulum. More open-air lounge than straight up restaurant, the menu is inventive and the drinks even moreso. Make sure to stop by on Thursdays when it turns onto a dance club at 10pm.

CASA VIOLETA
Km 8.2, Carretera Tulum-Boca Paila
+52 1 984 171 0986
Beach Side

A bottle of rosé and a plate of fish tacos pretty much sums up what Casa Violeta means to me. They do breakfast really well here, too, and it’s one of the only enclosed restaurants (albeit in all glass), so a good option in the rain.

CHAMICO’S
No website. No address. No phone. Lunch only.
It’s locals only and the menu is fish only. But it’s the freshest fish you’ve ever had. And the coldest beer. Make it at least once and bring cash.
Directions (from Mr. and Mrs. Romance): From Tulum you head north back towards Cancun on the main road (there’s only one!). When you get to a sign for Oscar & Lalo’s Restaurant, turn off. If you miss the turn, don’t worry. There’s a U-turn bay ahead so you get a second go at it. Drive down the unsealed road right to the end. And I mean right to the end. Go past all the hotels you’ll find there, nod and smile at the security guard halfway down, who’ll (slowly) unhitch the chain gate for you to continue. When you come to what looks like an abandoned parking lot and an old ship, you’re there. You won’t see any signs but you should see the white of the chairs through the palm trees.

EL TÁBANO
Km 5, Carretera Tulum Boca Paila
+52 1 984 134 8725

Jungle Side
This was the first restaurant I ever ate at in Tulum, and it holds a very special place in my heart. Actually, it’s the lavender shrimp that holds that. Truly, everything served from the open-air kitchen is incredible, and the vibe is laid back and super friendly. The menu changes daily and is written on a series of chalkboards at the center of the dining room and it’s all fresh and delicious.

GITANO
Km 7, Carretera Tulum Boca Paila
+52 1 984 188 2184

It’s like all of your Pinterest dreams come true. Chandeliers in the trees, tike torches along the path and bathrooms bathed in candlelight. And the food is spot on, too. Don’t miss the chorizo or anything from the bar.

HARTWOOD
Km 7.6, Carretera Tulum-Boca Paila
Jungle Side

Hartwood may very well be the most famous of all of Tulum’s restaurants which is sort of incredible considering it’s open only 4 days a week from 6pm-11pm (maybe less in the case of inclement weather), has no electric appliances (save for one lone blender), doesn’t take reservations and starts taking names at 3pm (in person only). But Chef Eric Werner’s (formerly of Peasant in NYC) food can’t be denied. Everything he makes is by hand, grilled or cooked in the incredible wood-burning oven and is the true essence of farm to table.  So take a beach break at 3, get on line and prepare to be amazed. And if you love the food as much as I think you will, you can make it home with the new Hartwood cookbook

LA ZEBRA
Km 8.2, Carretera Tulum-Boca Paila
+52 1 984 115 4726

The new chef’s table is where it’s. 8, 10 or 12 course tasting menus of traditional Mexican recipes with a twist. Chef Eliza Bonilla hails from Mexico and his cooking is pretty spectacular. If a tasting menu isn’t your thing, any regular meal at Le Zebra is far from regular. And the Sunday night Salsa party is pretty incredible, too.

LOS AGUACHILES
Avenue Tulum MZA, 40 LTE. 1 Centro
In town

Amazing ceviches and hot sauces. One of Chef Eric Werner’s faves.

MATEO’S MEXICAN GRILL
Km 5.2, Carretera Tulum Boca Paila
+52 1 984 179 4160
Jungle Side

The closest thing you’ll ever come to a sports bar in Tulum, it’s the perfect stop for a taco and a beer.  And breakfast is awesome here as well.

MEZZANINE
Km 1, Carretera Tulum Boca Paila
Beach Side

Another hard sell is good Thai in Tulum, but here it is. In case you’ve OD’d on tacos and tequila, you can get your fix of high end pad thai and curries here. And it’s all really, really good!

POSADA MARGHERITA
Km 4.5, Crta. Tulum-Boca Paila
+52 1 984 801 8493
Beach Side

If traveling to Mexico for Italian food feels wrong to you, let Posada Margherita relieve you of that thought. Not only is it good Italian food, it’s AMAZING Italian food. The restaurant is owned by the perfectly gorgeous Alessandro Carrozzino who makes sure to sit down at each table personally and recite the short menu (usually 2-3 handmade pastas and 2-3 fresh fish dishes).  He sets the vibe for your meal – relaxed, laid back and chic as hell.

RESTAURARE
Km 6, Carretera Tulum Boca Paila
+52 984 168 1282
Jungle side

It’s a Vegan paradise here at Restaurare where everything comes straight from local farmers. Think mushroom ceviche and Mayan lasagna.

TAQUERIA LA EUFEMIA
Km 9, Carretera Tulum Boca Paila
+52 1 984 151 6979
Beach Side

“Today … relax and eat some fucking tacos,” so says the chalkboard message in front of this beachside Taqueria. Um, you don’t have to ask me twice.

ZAMAS
Km 5, Carretera Tulum Boca Paila
+1 52 984 877 8523
Beach Side

Crayola colored tables on the beach make for a happy place for breakfast, lunch or dinner.