My Weird, Fun, Life-Changing Quest to Have Sex with 100 Different People

landscape6By Anonymous as told to Michelle Mulligan

A few years ago, I uprooted my entire life on a mission to find happiness.

I had just quit a 15-year career in tech startups, moved across the country to New York, and enrolled in art school full-time. I went from spending my days (and nights) taking international conference calls and building other people’s businesses to reading poetry—and building stories of my own. Serendipitously, my sweet boyfriend, James, also had a great job opportunity in New York, so we moved east together.

Outwardly, everything seemed perfect: a 47th floor apartment near Central Park with a doorman, a dog, and a beautiful man.

But one day, staring at the cardboard boxes we’d never unpacked, I realized I still wasn’t happy.

I’ve always been a vocal feminist and a proper #GirlBoss—before it was even a thing. But in my personal life, I’ve had a long history of putting myself second. Moving in with James, despite my deep reservations, was only the latest example. Before him, in a different relationship, I’d ignored our sexual incompatibility—and in turn my own pleasure. I found myself unsatisfied, depressed, and 30 pounds heavier.

“I wanted to understand who I was sexually when I wasn’t saddled with labels like ‘girlfriend’ or ‘prospective wife.’

The pattern was clear: I was unable to articulate my needs in a committed relationship.

With James, I’d once again come to a place where I couldn’t recognize myself. We’d essentially become roommates who never had sex anymore. We decided to separate.

Cut to a couple years later. I was still not quite ready for a long-term relationship but I was tired of going without—I wanted to explore sex again. And I wanted to do it with as many different people as I could without letting myself default to the familiar trap of monogamy. More to the point, I wanted to explore who I was with radically different people. And I knew I would have to go big.

So, in the same way that adventurers set off to backpack across Europe before turning 30 or climb Mount Everest before they die, I set a goal to have sex with 100 partners before my 40th birthday. Along the way, I would aim to regain control of my own happiness, and reconnect with my fleeting orgasms—I wanted to understand who I was sexually when I wasn’t saddled with labels like “girlfriend” or “prospective wife.”

Before we begin…
3 Things to Know About my Sexual History:

My 20s were a blur of transactional hookups thanks to working insane hours in tech startups. Sex was an escape in between meetings and red-eyes.
I didn’t have my first orgasm until I was 31, in a committed relationship, with someone who took his time to truly discover my body.
James was #57.

The Rules:

Repeats don’t count.
Oral sex doesn’t count. (More on this later.)
I would have to orgasm. I would never compromise on this again.

And with that, I signed up for a slew of online dating sites and was on my way.
#58. The Hedge Fund Manager

Stewart, a literal millionaire I met online, charmed me with the wit and thoughtfulness of his profile. We met at an upscale café. He was wearing Gucci loafers and a perfectly matching silk handkerchief. Money was his preferred pickup tool, I learned, as he tried to win me over with private airplanes, beachfront properties, and proposals to whisk me away to a ski weekend. He joked that by our third date I’d be obsessed with him.

I found his confidence to be wholly unreasonable—and very attractive. So I invited him home. Inspired by the tension, I wanted what happened in my apartment to be hot. But it was entirely mediocre.
Stocksy

I chalked it up to first-time nerves and agreed to visit his house in the Hamptons the next weekend. After all, I hadn’t had an orgasm, so it didn’t count yet anyway—and I was determined.

Things were pleasant enough, until the awkward moment when he clumsily felt around my lady parts in the dark. Again, it wasn’t working. Normally, I would have just gone along with it or pretended. But this time, there was rule number three.

I had to show him the way.

As he continued bumbling through, I tapped him on the shoulder. “Do you have a headlamp?” I asked, thinking of the camping gear I’d seen in his garage.

“Huh?” he said, looking up.

“Go, get it.”

After rummaging through his gear and cracking a few jokes, he put the LED lamp around his head and jumped back into bed. I gave him step-by-step directions, showing him what felt good to me.

Slowly, I felt my body react—the first orgasm a man had given me in ages.
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Ultimately, things fizzled with Stewart. But, a small victory: I had spoken up for myself, with a relative stranger. I was ready for the next adventure.
#65. The Writer

In art class, I met a brilliant writer 10 years younger than me. First, we met to discuss our work. He had been a fashion photographer and hearing him expound on the beauty business turned me on—as did hearing about how the patriarchy prompted him to quit his job. He was unassuming and scrawny, but he also stood up for my work in class during critiques.

Slowly, we became enamored with each other’s brains, talking late into the night at our favorite libraries and cafes. Finally, one night at my apartment, tea turned into making out and then slow, sweet, quiet sex.
Stocksy

For so long, I’d experienced sex solely in my physical body—it was like this animal act that I happened to do with a person I really liked. To that point, it felt electric to finally be with someone who stimulated me mentally. I’d never taken the time to explore a cerebral connection like this in a sexual capacity.

After a while, though, when it was clear he wanted more than I was prepared to give, I realized I had to move on.
#84. The Feminist Dom

Scrolling through Tinder one day, I saw a profile I loved (now there’s a rarity). There was a reference to feminism (bonus!), Rilke, and the phrase “no vanilla.” He had full lips and a deliciously half-Bosnian and half-Spanish look. In person, he had the gentle manner of an English major with the vocabulary of a kink-ster. He was in an open relationship and loved dominant sex.

I sat across from him in a chair while he told me how this was going to work: He was going take my clothes of and take control of my body. He explained that I’d have to tell him when to stop. He wasn’t going to go easy on me—if things didn’t feel safe, I should speak up.

Stocksy

“Okay, of course,” I said, practicing consent.

He grabbed a handful of my hair and pulled my neck back. “Now you play by my rules,” he said. His gentle demeanor disappeared, and he started barking orders. It felt exhilarating and terrifying, and somehow bright and clear. Generally, I’d always been in charge, and now, for the first time, someone was taking total control of me.

I came back for more.

The next time I saw him, the orders started right away.

“Get on your knees,” he said. “Lift your chin, now!” Then he pulled a cloth out of a bag. A blindfold went over my eyes, and I froze. Naked, on all fours, I’d never felt so vulnerable before. My heart started racing, and I wasn’t sure why. He intuited my hesitance.  “Are you okay?” he asked, checking in with my comfort level. “You didn’t follow the rules,” he said as he took the blindfold off. “You should have stopped me if you’re uncomfortable.”

“I need you to promise me that you’re not going to hurt me,” I said, in a small voice I didn’t recognize.

“You need to tell me everything you’re feeling,” he said, holding me. “I want you to know that you’re safe. You can feel safe with me.” After a while I told him that I did, and that I was ready. He put the blindfold back on, and we started again.

In his pushing for me to articulate my needs, I felt more protected than I ever had—with anyone. And then, I proceeded to have one of the best orgasms of my life.
#91. The Power Director

I had been doing some consulting work on a TV show and was often in contact with the producers. I had seen clips of the show dozens of times, and I hadn’t really thought twice about anyone in the cast. But when I met the director, Gabrielle, and I was smitten.

Sexy and poised, with dark, cat-shaped eyes, she charmed the room. Wearing a grungy scarf and a well-tailored military jacket, she seemed both confident and brilliant. As I watched her operate, I felt a slow attraction taking shape: I’d never even considered being with women, but I just wanted to be close to her—to be walking in step with everything she was about.
Stocksy

Later, at an awards ceremony, we texted all night, even when sitting right next to each other. At drinks after, I confessed. She looked at me, startled.

“I’m seeing someone, plus, you’re straight,” she said. She turned me down.

Five months passed, during which I slept with other people—but I thought about her.

Then after a night together, she let me kiss her. Eventually, she agreed to stay with me for a weekend. I was nervous that I would be terrible, that I wouldn’t know what to do. So I let myself be led. She took over, telling me exactly how she wanted me to touch her. Then, she explored my body for hours, getting familiar with the sounds I made, finding exactly what I wanted, letting it go, and finding it again.

This is where my oral sex rule broke down. I used to think oral sex wasn’t “real” sex—but the Power Director opened my mind. It can be just as intimate and just as powerful. So yes, it counts.

I had never been multi-orgasmic, but with her it happened, over and over. It felt like she was opening a space in my body that I didn’t know I had.

Then came the deal breakers: She wouldn’t be with me unless it was in a monogamous relationship. Although I saw in her a truly fantastic hypothetical partner, I still felt like staying single.
The Finish Line

The Power Director and I were together for three intense months before we decided to go back to being just friends. Then I celebrated my big 40th birthday—just 9 partners short of my 100 person goal.

Friends flooded me with questions: if I’ll go back to the challenge (200?), if I’ll date another woman, and if monogamy is even for me. And the answer, if I’m honest, is—I don’t know yet.

What I do know from my 100 Partners Challenge is that I can finally trust myself to walk away from the relationships I don’t wholeheartedly want and to seek out experiences that will bring me joy. I can take control and ownership. And if I’m still curious, I can spend the next decade figuring it all out.

The Top 5 Cosmetic Procedures for Women

cosmetic-procecure

Over the past three or four decades following increased surgical procedures, advanced technology and social acceptance, cosmetic surgery has become less of an exclusive reserve for the wealthy and more of a privileged lifestyle choice among the wider public. For some, it is even an essential career choice with many top surgeons remarking that there isn’t a single soul in Hollywood who hasn’t gone under the knife at some stage despite most celebrities and movie stars swearing blind to the contrary.

According to the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ISAPS) the United States is still by and large the biggest provider of top level cosmetic surgery with royals, celebrities and dignitaries from across the globe flying into New York and Beverly Hills for treatment. There were 13.1 million cosmetic procedures performed in the States last year worth a whopping $10.4 billion to the cosmetic surgery industry.

With the upsurge in wealth around global emerging markets and an increasing demand to dip into the fountain of youth offered by the magicians with a scalpel, we decided to break our own rules, and show case five of the top procedures for women in this article, and five of the top procedures for men in the next. Explore which ones are the most sought after and who are some of the top cosmetic surgeons performing them.

Top 5 Cosmetic Procedures for Women

1. Breast Augmentation
It’s no real surprise that breast augmentation continues to be the front runner in women’s cosmetic procedure of choice. As you are no doubt aware, breast augmentation involves enhancing the size and shape of the breasts, what isn’t such common knowledge as that there are various ways to achieve this, namely: saline or silicone implants (augmentation mammoplasty), breast lift (mastopexy) best for patients with sagging breasts, and finally fat injections. The latter is a form of non-surgical breast enhancement, although doctors maintain that surgical procedures remain the most reliable and consistent.

Specialist profile: Doctor Frederic H Corbin
Dr. Frederic H Corbin was coined “the breast expert” by People magazine, a moniker that the surgeon has used for self-promoting his specialist area of breast augmentation ever since. Although details of the plastic surgeon’s celebrity clients are very hush, hush it is hard to imagine that they go anywhere else if Dr. Corbin’s photo gallery is anything to go by. Dr. Corbin’s extensive experience of 25 years in the business has helped him amass a legacy of work that has featured heavily in the media including on the BBC, in Marie Claire and most notably on The Oprah Winfrey Show.

2. Nose Reshaping (Rhinoplasty)
No prizes for guessing what “nose reshaping” entails – that’s right, the reshaping of the nose. The medical term “rhinoplasty” comes, as so do many of cosmetic surgical medical terms, from the Greek language: rhis “nose” plassein “to shape”. It accounted for the second most procedures among women in 2011 and is regarded as the most difficult of all facial cosmetic procedures. Nose reshaping can be requested for a variety of reasons including: previous injuries leaving the nose asymmetrical, a deviated septum or other medical reason usually to do with ease of breathing, because the nose is too wide, nostrils are excessively flared or the tip is enlarged, crooked, thickened or droops.

Specialist profile: Samieh Rizk
Egyptian born Sameih Rizk was voted the Top Facial Plastic Surgeon 2011 by respected American healthcare research company Castle Connolly, and is one of a few double board-certified surgeons by the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. A maiden rhinoplasty procedure often involves removal of tissue and cartilage which is notoriously difficult to correct if a patient is unhappy with the results, it is in this area of “reconstructive rhinoplasty” where Dr. Rizk specialises. He prides himself on minimally invasive endoscopic surgical techniques, natural results and rapid recovery times. He is also an active member and supporter of the face-to-face programme, a national non-profit organisation, which treats facial injuries in women who are victims of domestic violence.

3. Liposuction (Lipectomy)
Liposuction is the alternative to the rather more daunting road of a healthy balanced diet and a series of punishing training sessions in the gym. For a quick and easy fix to problems of tyres around the midriff, many women opt for the surgical option of removing fat deposits and redefining the contours of the body. A typical technique involves a laser or ultrasonic generator producing waves that breakdown the fat cells which are then removed via a tube known in the industry as a ‘cannula’. Granted, it doesn’t sound particularly pleasant but after a brisk recovery period most women aren’t complaining when they see the results in the mirror.

Specialist profile: The Cadogan Clinic
The Cadogan Clinic is overseen by Mr. Bryan Mayou who pioneered the procedure in the UK more than 30 years ago and remains a leading expert in the field. The purpose built clinic excels in soothing interior décor and top level consultancy care providing patients with ultimate pre and post-op comfort and relaxation. Liposuction procedures include the traditional method, SmartLipo MPX laser treatment and the elusive Bodyjet liposuction.This advanced method delivers pulses of saline fluids to gently dislodge the fat, so the need for forceful movement of the suction tube is eliminated, minimising bruising and reducing your recovery time.

4. Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty)
Similar in some respects to liposuction, a tummy tuck has a bit of a naughty reputation for being a gym diverting cheat. A tummy tuck involves removing excess skin (up to 50%!) and fat from the abdomen and tightening the underlying abdominal muscles. It is particularly popular among those who have recently lost weight or given birth. This technique will get rid of any nasty stretch marks or immovable belly bumps.

Specialist profile: The Harley Group
The Harley Group has a firm and long-standing reputation as one of the world’s leading cosmetic surgery groups. By continually improving and refining their services and monitoring innovations in surgical technology, the Harley Group are able to offer the most up-to-date and comprehensive range of procedures. The Harley Group tummy tuck takes around two hours and uses permanent stitches for incisions that are not externally visible meaning patients can be confident with a new flat tummy without any of the embarrassing tell-tale surgical signs. You can watch this short video from The Harley Group for more information.

5. Butt Lift
Due to the media frenzy over celebrity heinies in recent years, think J-Lo, Beyonce and, err, Kate Middleton, a number of women have been looking at ways to prop up their rear end. In fact buttock implants were up a staggering 43% in 2011 which if you compare to breast augmentation, a paltry 4%, it gives some indication into the current craze for the backside bulge. There are two different ways in which to give your buttocks a youthful and prominent perkiness: the Brazilian butt lift, which is a non-surgical fat transfer and butt implants, which involves the insertion of silicone. The choice between the two largely depends on your natural body shape and size.

Specialist profile: La Clinique
Where better to get your Brazilian butt lift than the country that spawned the craze? Of the numerous plastic surgeries dotted around Brazil, La Clinique is considered to be among the finest and also has clinics in Spain and the United States. La Clinique promises treatments to improve the contour of the buttocks creating a body silhouette.

By Tyler Black

“I Had Sex at Work” 5 Scandalous Stories of Office Rendezvous

Image by © Roman Aerzinger

Colleagues with a cause

1 – “We were working on the same political campaign for 15-hour days, seven days a week, so we were always around each other. But we were just friends. Then she asked me if I wanted to ‘relax’ with her for a bit. She made it sound like a business arrangement. We closed the door to a rarely-used office and went down on each other up against the wall. We hooked up one more time after that, but decided to be luxurious and checked into a hotel instead.” —Seth

Because…this place is here?

2 – “I was running a non-profit in Washington D.C. and was on the outs with my on-again off-again girlfriend. We had just had drinks and decided we were on again as we were walking by my office. I told her I had to get something inside, then closed the door of my office behind me and we went at it on my desk…and then in my desk chair. It was probably the best sex we ever had.” —Dan

Now *that’s* a view!

3 – “Full disclosure: It wasn’t me having the sex. But when I worked in Times Square, everyone in my office suddenly started squealing and pressing themselves up against the window one day, and when I went over to see what all the fuss was about, it was a couple in the office across the street from us…having sex. It lasted a full 10 minutes, which we of course watched every second of. At one point when they were going at it doggy-style, he *CHECKED HIS PHONE.* Anyway they never saw us—but the people in the office above them did, and held up a sign that said ‘What are you looking at?! Call us!’ It was great.” —Jessica

Closing the deal

4 – “I had been hooking up with this girl who volunteered at my place of employment. She kept saying that we shouldn’t see each other (she wanted a serious relationship and knew that wasn’t going to be with me) but then we would see each other and one of us would propose a drink and we’d hook up again. This one time she was helping me close up. We started making out on the couches in the lobby area. I had to get something from my office and she followed me in and immediately reached for my belt buckle. I barely had time to get the curtains drawn before we were on my desk. Honestly it was magical.” —Michael

Show time

5 – “My boyfriend and I both worked in a theater and we hooked up in the booth when no one was attending a show. I always thought the idea was really hot…but I couldn’t enjoy it because I kept thinking someone would walk in.” —Lisa

By Lodro Rinzler

Top 10 Restaurants in the World

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The World’s 50 Best Restaurants are voted for annually by over 900 industry experts and are considered an alternative to the more established Michelin rankings. We’ve sliced off the top 10 restaurants from the listing which was released in April 2015.

1. Noma, Copenhagen, Denmark

The 45-seat two Michelin star restaurant in Copenhagen set in a dockside warehouse, is headed by chef René Redzepi (pictured above) and is famous for seasonal Nordic cuisine and unusual local ingredients such as reindeer moss and cod liver.

2. El Celler de Can Roca, Girona, Spain

A local family-owned restaurant rooted in the fiercely independent state of Catalonia. It was at number one last year and has been on this list for almost a decade.

3. Osteria Francescana, Modena, Italy

In third place for the second consecutive year, Osteria Francescana balances Italian heritage and modernity to offer an experience that satisfies traditionalists and those looking for something new.

4. Eleven Madison Park, New York, US

This very unique fine-dining restaurant housed in New York’s Credit Suisse building is far from a dour affair. From service to the food selection, be prepared to be surprised.
5. Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, London, UK

Headed up by Blumenthal’s right-hand man, Ashley Palmer-Watts, this restaurant at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in London’s Knightsbridge is widely celebrated for it’s reinvention of historical British food.

6. Mugaritz, San Sebastián, Spain

Mugaritz takes attention to detail to new heights. Diners aren’t given access to a menu before booking and are instead treated to a personalised series of some 20 or so dishes.

7. D.O.M, Sao Paulo, Brazil

The chef of Deo Optimus Maximus – a name meaning ‘God is greatest and best’– has taken research trips with scientists and anthropologists deep into the Amazon to test potential ingredients for his South American menu.

8. Arzak, San Sebastian, Spain

The menu here reworks traditional dishes, and extracts the best from local ingredients using cutting-edge techniques, yet still honours its Basque culinary heritage.

9. Alinea, Chicago, USA

Located in Lincoln Park, Alinea is a truly modern restaurant. Divided into four distinct rooms to allow patrons privacy and an uninterrupted dining experience. Alinea’s ground-breaking tasting menus typically comprise a mindblowing 15 to 19 course journey.

10. The Ledbury, London, UK

Tucked away in a corner of west London’s fashionable Notting Hill neighbourhood, this restaurant has long-time regulars alongside an increasing number of international visitors. The menu combines the UK’s best ingredients from a huge network of small-scale suppliers, with an emphasis on game, intriguing vegetables and obscure herbs and roots.

By Lifestyle Boutique

9 Of The Best Champagnes

The nights are drawing in, and any excuse to get sloshed on expensive plonk seems like a good one. Avoid the inevitable hangover that two-for-one supermarket fizz will bring and invest in some of the best champagnes on the market right now.

“Champagne is intrinsically associated with celebration,” says Max Merkulovs, head sommelier at the Michelin-starred Galvin at Windows restaurant on Park Lane. “It’s bubbly, light, and wonderfully easy to drink. It’s also a nuanced, subtle drink with an almost overwhelming range of varieties”.

“A current trend is ‘grower champagnes’ which take a more artisanal approach,” says Ben Murray, manager at the formidably well-stocked Hedonism Wines in London’s Mayfair. “These estates grow the grapes themselves, as opposed to buying them. They take care of the winemaking process from beginning to end.” The techincal details of good champagne remain consistent: “Look at t he mousseux, or frothiness. There should be a constant stream of bubbles.” But its flavour can vary enormously: “It can range from incredibly light, almost aperitif-y, with lemon zest through to the much richer, more decadent end of the spectrum, with smoky notes of mineral and spice,” Murray says.

Herewith, our edit of the nine champagnes we’ll be drinking this month.

 

 Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve NV

The new expression of Charles Heidsieck’s Brut Reserve NV has been greeted with much acclaim (and multiple gold medals) since being released in September 2011. “There’s a marked citrus flavour on both the nose and the palate,” says Merkulovs. “It is mid-weight, clean, pure and frank, with a decent maturity for an NV blend.” Guaranteed to be a crowd-pleaser.

Dom Pérignon 2004

“This latest release from the house [Moët et Chandon] is surprisingly approachable and will mature beautifully for another 30 years – if you’ve the patience,” says Murray. “Fresh, crisp, with crunchy green apples and nectarines along with lots of stony minerality, it’s the perfect aperitif for any very special celebration.”

Krug Clos du Mesnil 2000

“One of the greatest champagnes ever; the perfect balance of power and finesse,” says Murray. “Made from chardonnay grapes in a tiny single vineyard, it shows mind-boggling complexity of fruits, flowers and minerality, plus a very long aging potential.”

BILLECART-SALMON Cuvée Elisabeth Salmon 2002

Produced with the addition of a small amount of red wine, rose champagnes are popular at this time of year. Billecart Salmon’s 2002 vintage is the marque’s prestige rosé, thanks to the sunny summer in 2002, which lasted until September’s harvest of pinot and chardonnay grapes. “It has a deep complexity, a savoury quality that takes this out of the flavour spectrum where most pink champagnes reside,” says Merkulovs. Simply, it’s the best champagne rosé on the market.

Charles Heidsieck Reserve Rosé

“Fruity, aromatic; it will add magic to any occasion,” says Murray. “Dried roses and wild strawberries lead the palate, ending with warm baking spices and gingerbread in a long finish. Smooth and elegant, it’s perfect for autumn evenings.”

Ruinart Blanc de Blancs NV

Established in 1729, Ruinart is the oldest of the champagne houses. “Blanc de blancs” may sound like the name of a French TV game show, but means the grapes used are 100 per cent chardonnay. The result? A light champagne which works alone or with oysters or sashimi. “The Ruinart has an open, expressive nose full of dried white fruits,” says Merkulovs. “The blanc de blancs style is gentle and creamy, but there is lots of substance underneath.”

Moët et Chandon Dom Perignon OENOTHÈQUE 1992

There’s a reason Dom Perignon is considered the best wine in the world. It’s an exclusive vintage champagne, meaning if the vineyard has a weak year, they don’t produce anything. “The nose conjures up light aniseed and fresh almonds,” says Merkulovs. “The palate is beautifully firm, but gives way to airy and delicate flavours and a distinctive toasty aroma.” Save it for a special occasion.

Krug Grande Cuvée NV

Though young compared to some champagne houses (it was founded in 1843), Krug is well-regarded and renowned for its range of Grande Cuvées. As ever the “NV” stands for “non-vintage”, but Krug prefer the term “multi-vintage” as each release features a blend of up to 50 wines from a range of 30 separate crus, with various reserve vintages blended in. “Quite an elegant nose here,” says Merkulovs. “Firm and yet gentle at the same time.”

Bollinger Special Cuvée

“Rich, generous with very fine mousseux; ripe pears, brioche and toasted cashews on the palate,” says Murray. “Bollinger keep the wine on the lees [yeast deposits that occur during fermentation] for an unusually long time, which lends it a wonderful creamy character. Some of the best value fizz.”

By Max Olesker

The Top 10 Foods for Great Sex

aphrodisiac-food-kindescortEverybody wants to have great sex. If you’re not having any sex, you want it; if you’re having okay sex, you want an upgrade to great and if your sex life is great, well, you want it to be mind-blowing. And it’s possible. But there’s more to great sex than meets the eye. And it begins in the kitchen.

Your nutrition is vital to the quality of your sex life. Wining and dining a date will more likely result in a great night’s sleep rather than a great romp in the sack. To really get things going, you need to stimulate your ‘circuitry,’ your nervous and circulatory systems. You can’t clog your arteries with saturated fat that slow circulation, inhibit blood flow and decrease the ability of the body to feel stimulation and expect to have great sex.

So brace yourself. Here they are, the top ten foods (and not just in my opinion…) to put sizzle in more than your sauté pan.

1). Whole grains
Brown rice may look like Clark Kent, but a bowl of whole grains, like oatmeal can make you Superman (or woman) in bed. While not the stuff of fantasy, that morning bowl of oats is high in zinc and can increase testosterone, which increases sexual desire (in both men and women). And being complex carbohydrates, whole grains create staying power, so you can perform in a way that matches your passion.

So the next time you are contemplating breakfast in bed, think oatmeal, not croissants or bacon and eggs (which will clog your arteries and put you back to sleep).

2). Chocolate
What is the magic of this rich, dark, creamy, sensual, sweet, sexy…sorry, I got distracted… There is true mojo in chocolate. This lovely indulgence is a rich source of magnesium, which soothes nerves, making us feel open and receptive. But the true power of chocolate is phenylalanine (just being able to say it is impressive and scores big points…), an amino acid that raises the body’s endorphins and produces dopamine, the brain chemical that surges during orgasm…for both men and women, creating…well, spectacularly great ‘O-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h’s.’

3). Oysters (hang on, fellow vegans…don’t panic…)
Casanova was right. But I’m guessing that he didn’t know that it was all about the zinc, which improves testosterone levels which leads to incredible sexual performance, as well as improved sperm count (in case you are looking to spread your seed about). But if he did, he’d score big in the brains department as well.

Oh…for those of us who wouldn’t even think about slurping oysters, munch on some chia, sesame or pumpkin seeds or chow down on spinach, basil, thyme and sea vegetables for your zinc fix.

4). Chili Peppers
Hot peppers really heat things up as we eat them, but capsaicin, the source of that heat, triggers endorphins, our sensations of pleasure, which is very, very good for very, very good sex. Chilies also stimulate the nervous system, accentuating the effects of arousal, which is very, very, very good for very, very, very good sex. Conclusion? Hot, spicy foods can lead to hot, spicy sex.

5). Chia Seeds
Yes, the same seeds that can grow a chia pet can contribute to great sex. In terms of nutrition, a mere tablespoon of these tiny, ancient seeds are like making a smoothie made from salmon, spinach and human growth hormone. Packed with omega 3’s and 6’s, protein, calcium, iron, zinc (again!), fiber and antioxidants, chia seeds will give you stamina to burn, improve circulation and increase your body’s ability to feel stimulation. Brought to Aztec kings in homage, these tiny seeds will have you flushing your little blue pills right down the drain.

6). Ginger, Garlic, Onions
To really get your juices flowing, pile on the garlic, leeks, onions, scallions and chives. Known as alliums, these powerful vegetables will give you the stamina that pharmaceuticals can only promise. There are religious sects that actually ban the consumption of these humble foods because they believe they feed desire.

Containing chemical compounds that stimulate blood flow to genital area, these vegetables cause intense feelings of arousal, resulting in a strong, enduring sex.

And if bad breath worries you, just pull the little green sprout from the center of the garlic clove before mincing and make sure you both munch on the parsley garnish on your plates. Breath won’t be an issue…and with any luck, you’ll be so busy, who’ll care?

7). Olive oil
We need fat to produce sex hormones; not the kind that builds up around our bellies and hips, but healthy fat in our food. Here comes the sexy part. Fat and cholesterol are metabolized in the liver, stimulating the production of testosterone and estrogen, which we need for our sex drive…and performance. A healthy balance of sex hormones produces a strong libido in men and women.

But skip the saturated fats in steak, butter and lobster and drizzle some extra virgin olive oil (rich in vitamin E, shown to improve sexual function) on the pasta, on the salad, on her, on him…

8). Tomatoes
Tomatoes were named ‘love apples’ by the Puritans for their ‘sinful’ sexual stimulation. Sought after as a love potion due to their red color, which signified excitement and passion, we now know the force behind tomatoes is the antioxidant, lycopene, a powerful libido-enhancer in both men and women.

And since the mere scent of tomatoes has been shown to increase penile blood flow by 5%, perhaps that tomato bruschetta is a good idea for dinner tonight.

9). Soy
Chinese medicine tells us that soy relaxes and cools the body. When people are relaxed, they tend to be more open and receptive. In the bedroom, that’s good!

But it’s the science of soy that’s the sexy part. Soy contains phytoesterogens, hormone-like compounds that bind estrogen receptors. With soy as a regular part of your diet, vaginal lubrication is less of a problem (that’s very good…). But the best part? Studies have shown that soy can be very beneficial to prostate health, which is crucial to male sexual function.

Makes tofu seem a lot sexier now, I bet. Oh, and for those of you not eating soy, add some fennel to your diet for the same benefits.

10). Artichokes
So you think the sexy part of artichokes is eating them, fingers all sticky with oil, juices dribbling down the wrist, just begging to be kissed away? Ancient Romans believed that eating artichokes were not only an aphrodisiac, but would result in everlasting life. They were off on the living forever part, but artichokes can result in better sex.

Science has shown that pantothenic acid (sexy, huh?) is the reason for artichokes’ reputation. Regulating bile production, artichokes tonify the liver, which governs nervous system response, so eating artichokes increases our response to stimulus. And increased response to stimulus means better sex.

With these ten foods added to your diet, you’ll be off to the races…if and only if, you make healthy food choices overall, exercise regularly and live a more natural life.

Oh, I almost forgot. The worst foods for sex? Guaranteed that men will be on Cialis or Viagra and women won’t be interested in sex at all? The usual suspects: refined sugar, saturated fat, soda, junk foods and excessive alcohol. They’ll not only make you fat and sick; they ensure that you’ll sleep alone.

By Christina Pirello

Luxurious Venice Hotels

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With an embarrassment of riches, Venice has a hotel to suit everyone’s taste

Dredging the lagoon of Venice for gold–hotel gold–is serious business. That’s because there’s a lot at stake: Venice is one of those mythically romantic destinations many people spend their whole lives dreaming about, and when they get there they don’t want to screw up where they lay their heads. Consider these classics, and you never will.

 

Hotel Cipriani
Arriving in the Venetian archipelago is no hardship – especially if you’re staying at the Cipriani. A mahogany launch greets you at Marco Polo airport on the mainland for the 40-minute glide across the most
famous lagoon in the world. The pilot looks like Montgomery Clift as imagined by Caravaggio, with a beauty mark that makes Elizabeth Taylor’s seem insipid. Among your fellow passengers is a silky Omar Sharif type and his bodacious girlfriend, who’s 19 if she’s a day. The cabin has white frills at the windows and buttoned banquettes in that wonderfully bilious shade of green beloved by the doges. “Murano on your left,” the pilot says casually, as if he were pointing out nothing more extraordinary than the Long Island Expressway, and your heart beats faster.

Does it get any better than this?Nobody thinks so.
The Cipriani’s throwaway talent as an enabler of once-in-a-lifetime entrances is married to an utterly unique location, one that will always make every other hotel on the lagoon an also-ran. The Orient-Express flagship is snuggled on the sleepy island of Giudecca, a five-minute boat ride from Venice’s Piazza San Marco. As overheard on the free 24/7 shuttle between the hotel and the piazza, guests love having the city at their fingertips-and the assurance that they can avenge themselves on the throngs by escaping them. In a place that welcomes more than 10 million visitors every year, this is no small consideration. Guests retreat to the Cipriani’s voluptuously scented gardens and Olympic-sized saltwater pool, as well as three restaurants and as many bars, features that make it more of a resort than a hotel. If Venice drowned tomorrow, I am quite sure people would still go to the Cipriani. Indeed, the Cipriani was a “destination resort”-reason enough for crossing the globe-long before the term was coined.

Though some find a number of the 106 guest rooms démodé, there are armies who would return for them alone. My own room in the original, 1956 building was done in a not-unpleasant style that resists classification: peach wall-to-wall carpeting, coppery mirrors, an eccentric seven-sided peach sofa, bamboo furniture, and walls upholstered in peach watered silk. (If I didn’t like peach, I would’ve been in trouble.) The Ravolta Carmignani linen sheets were cuddly from years of laundering, though having the bed face away from the water is one of the great missed opportunities in the annals of hotel design. The bathroom, in red Verona marble, was filled with goodies that, for once, you could really use: nailbrush, toothpaste, volumizing hair gel! But I will never be able to get my head around rectangular toilet seats. Is there something I don’t know?Are other people built differently than I am?

For those who require a bit of architectural distinction, two 15th-century annexes, the Palazzo Vendramin and Palazzetto Barbaro, have Byzantine windows, not to mention butler service. In T+L’s World’s Best Awards, this year the Cipriani placed sixth among European hotels.

Did somebody say “gold standard”?

HOTEL CIPRIANI, Giudecca 10, Fondamenta San Giovanni; 800/223-6800, fax 39-041/520-930; doubles from $535.

Hotel Gritti Palace
The Gritti has the most seductive breakfast terrace in Venice-I know because I’ve tried them all. Tables are set on a handsome deck built over the Grand Canal at an ideal distance from Piazza San Marco: close enough for a spontaneous promenade around the square, but not so close that you’re sucked into the vortex created by the inevitable crowds.

As you sit on the Gritti’s deck, the only thing that comes between you and the lapping water is a phalanx of flower boxes with white geraniums. Crisply striped chair pads match the awning, and finches skitter up to your bread basket, though the croissants, filled with apricot jam, are too good to share even a crumb. Two nearby vaporetto stops ensure just the right measure of animation. And the views of the church of Santa Maria della Salute are heart-stopping. If Baldassare Longhena had given eyelashes to the Virgin that crowns his Baroque masterpiece, a guest enjoying uova strapazzate on the Gritti terrace would be able to make them out.

Named for the 77th doge of Venice, whose home it was in the 16th century, the Gritti is the most purely Venetian hotel in town, with a va-va-va-voom opulence that leaves you slightly woozy. You like damask?The Gritti’s got damask. You like brocade?The Gritti’s got brocade. Gilt, marble, ancestral portraits?Right this way. Confectionery Murano glass, with rosettes like translucent buttercream?Certo. In spades. La dolce vita, it seems, means never having to say basta.

Opulence as practiced at the Gritti is the real thing. It’s not interpreted, it’s not digested, and heaven knows it’s not watered down. The style of the 99 guest rooms reflects the beauty-for-beauty’s-sake way in which the doges lived. Dozens of hotels in Venice offer vulgarized assembly-line versions of the look. At more than $500 a night in high season, the Gritti isn’t giving anything away. But you get what you pay for.

Service is precisely what you’d expect from such a pedigreed institution. You know the way some concierges treat guests like idiots, shielding them from the place they have traveled thousands of miles to experience?Well, not the Gritti. How could I ever forget Maurizio, who talked me out of taking a water taxi to dinner, explaining that the restaurant could be reached easily (and for a tenth of the cost) by vaporetto and on foot?As a dividend, I saw a pocket of the city I would otherwise have missed.

At every other hotel I stayed at in Venice, it was the Gritti’s subtlety I missed. When serving fruit, the kitchen goes to the exquisite trouble of arranging a knife between the tines of a fork. And there’s a dedicated check-out desk, where you can study your bill in privacy. How civilized.

The Gritti let me down just once, when my shutters jammed against the stone sill, obscuring what I could see of the Grand Canal. As any hotelier will tell you, there are only three things that count in a guest room here: the view, the view, and the view. How does the saying go again-nothing’s perfect?
Hotel Gritti Palace, San Marco 2467, Campo Santa Maria del Giglio; 800/325-3589, fax 39-041/5200-0942; doubles from $522.

Hotel Danieli
La signora from Texas was not amused.
“Did you hear that crash this morning?” she asked. “I thought the whole building was coming down.”

La signora wasn’t kidding. At sunrise a boat had shouldered up to the Danieli, which occupies a hectic stretch of Grand Canal real estate east of Piazza San Marco, to collect what sounded like thousands of empty Prosecco bottles. They seemed to fall from a great height.

You don’t have to be clairvoyant to imagine the foibles of living in Venice, which is not just an island, but an island with an irrational web of waterways. The Danieli has asked municipal authorities to wait until, say, 8:30, when most guests are awake, for glass to be taken away. But it’s a losing battle.

The front-office manager explained that one way Venetians survive their city is by focusing on the trade-offs: the canal that brought the garbage boat also carried serenading gondoliers, who could have been singing just for me, and someone else had to pay for one of La Serenissima’s most famous treats.

With glancing views of the island of San Giorgio Maggiore, the Danieli is long on treats. Like the Gritti, it’s folded into a (14th-century) doge’s residence. And yet the two hotels could not be more different. Where the Gritti is intimate, the Danieli is sprawling. Where the Gritti has a residential feel, the Danieli is baronial. Where the Gritti is twinkling, the Danieli is moody.

The Danieli’s 233 rooms speak to customers with an appreciation for high, coved ceilings, trompe l’oeil marble panels, and walls painted blush pink. Though there are plenty of regulars for whom only the original Gothic palazzo will do, its annexes have their fans, even if the Casa Nuova is only 19th-century (not Venice’s greatest architectural moment) and the later Danielino has a dour faÁade. Americans are said to prefer the additions, which are linked to the main building by covered bridges, because the rooms are generally larger. And only the Danielino offers proper terraces.

It’s the thought of how fabulous the Danieli could be, but isn’t quite, that produces a sigh. Breakfast is a feeding frenzy, and the atrium lobby has the atmosphere of a train station. With up to 445 people under its roof, this is one hotel that is not in control of its numbers. Still, there’s hope. At 12:03 p.m. I gave a still-wet-behind-the-ears concierge a map and a list of 17 shops and restaurants to be pinpointed; at 12:06 I had my map back, duly marked.
Hotel Danieli, Castello 4196, Riva degli Schiavoni; 800/325-3509, fax 39-041/520-0208; doubles from $350.

Four more in venice . . .

Hotel Monaco & Grand Canal
San Marco 1325, Calle Valleresso; 800/457-4000, fax 39-041/520-0501; doubles from $334. English art historians and American gallery owners love this 50-room gem for its unforced Venetian vibe, old-world understatement, location across the calle from Harry’s Bar, value (a five-star establishment, almost, at four-star prices), and no-groups policy. The restaurant doesn’t just serve the best hotel food in Venice; it serves some of the best food in the city.

Grand Hotel dei Dogi
Fondamenta Madonna dell’Orto 3500; 39-041/220-8111, fax 39-041/722-278; doubles from $281. Before this blissfully removed palazzo opened in 1998, travelers were out of luck if they wanted luxury accommodations away from the percolating atmosphere around Piazza San Marco. The Dogi is tucked in the northern part of the city and – unlike every other Venetian hotel of note – looks across the lagoon to the mainland. Home to the French embassy in the 18th century, the hotel also has a landmark garden. The 68 guest rooms are a bit over the top, but then, why not?

II Palazzo at the Bauer
San Marco 1459, Campo San Moisé; 800/223-6800, fax 39-041/520-7557; doubles from $557. Visionary Francesca Bortolotto Possati altered the hotel landscape in Venice last year after spending $38 million to create a separate boutique property within the workaday Bauer. A church-and-state policy gives the two hotels separate entrances, reception areas, and concierges. Planted on the Grand Canal, Il Palazzo was coaxed out of an 18th-century residence with a dazzling Gothic faÁade. But while certainly comfortable, the underaccessorized guest rooms fall just short of the mark.
Pensione Accademia “Villa Maravege” Dorsoduro 1058, Fondamenta Bolliani; 39-041/521-0188, fax 39-041/523-9152; doubles from $150. If every pensione in Venice was as beautiful and well-run as this, there’d be no need for hotels. How do you improve on a 17th-century palazzo (which once housed the Russian embassy), 30 spick-and-span rooms, a right-on-the-Grand Canal location, and a vast garden?At these prices, you can’t afford not to see Venice.

By Christopher Petkanas

Best Hotels in London

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Book your next stay at one of these hotels—they’re the best in London.

The 2012 Olympics put London in the spotlight and inspired a building boom, meaning there’s more to experience in the British capital than ever—and that includes accommodation options.

You can unpack your bags in an intimate Victorian hotel opposite Kensington Palace, or settle into the recently redesigned theater district hotel that hosted Elizabeth II’s coronation ball.

No. 1 Stafford London by Kempinski
With three very distinct buildings, this refined property offers something for everyone: the main house, fresh from a renovation, offers tastefully appointed rooms with a traditional decor; rooms in the Carriage House have a country house flair, and Stafford Mews houses modern suites that sprawl over seemingly endless square feet. There’s also plenty of choice at the newly launched Lyttelton which focuses on rustic, British cuisine: summer truffle pappardelle, and wild sea bass with heirloom tomatoes. At the American bar, 3,000 memorabilia items (knick-knacks, photographs, airplane models, ties) hang from the walls, and the in-house wine cellar specializes in Burgundy and Bordeaux.

No. 2 The Milestone Hotel
This stately red-brick Victorian hotel with plush, antiques-filled interiors, opposite Kensington Palace has 57 rooms, 6 apartments, 1 restaurant, and 1 bar, all perfectly refined and with the best service around. The property has a residential feel, thanks to its intimate size and personal gestures like English sweets at turndown. The top pick for service in the 2008 Worlds Best Service awards, the Milestone Hotel is so much better than being at home. All of the rooms are individually decorated.

No. 3 The Langham, London
The 380-room Victorian-era landmark (unveiled by the Prince of Wales in 1865 and still a royal favorite) has recently been restored to its storied grandeur and brought into the 21st century with flat-screen TVs and wireless Internet in every room. British-style afternoon tea—voted London’s best in one recent poll—is served daily in the posh Palm Court off the lobby (try the tomato-and-cream-cheese sandwiches and the lemon posset cups). But the real culinary treat is the Roux at The Landau restaurant, a collaboration between legendary chefs (and father and son) Albert and Michel Roux Jr., for roasted wild sea bass and free-range Gloucester Old Spot pork loin. Langham’s new Asian owners have added subtle Eastern touches, too. At the Chuan Spa, Asian healing arts take center stage; holistic revitalizing treatments are grounded in traditional Chinese medicine. And the Langham’s central location, across from the Art Deco masterpiece BBC Building, makes it perfect for exploring Soho, Mayfair, and the funky Fitzrovia neighborhood.

No. 4 The Lanesborough
A Georgian-style building overlooking Hyde Park, the Lanesborough maintains the elegance of an 18th-century private residence. The 93 rooms blend Regency period details—parquetry inlaid furnishings and wood veneers—with state-of-the-art tech amenities (complimentary laptops, Mac mini entertainment systems), ensuring that you’ll never have to compromise on either convenience or style. 24-hour butler service means that you’ll never have to unpack or press your clothes, and that tea and coffee will be served with your wake-up call. The oak-paneled Library Bar stocks hard-to-find whiskeys and Cognacs (including some dating back to 1770).

No. 5 Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park
Zen is the mantra at this luxurious, Asian-influenced haven that’s consistently regarded as one of the world’s best hotels. Its location, opposite Harvey Nichols and adjacent to Hyde Park, doesn’t hurt, nor do onsite restaurants Bar Boulud and Dinner by Heston Blumenthal. The hotel is also home to London’s best state-of-the-art spa, a deeply cosseting and stylish basement space offering ESPA treatments, a small vitality pool, steam room, dry sauna, and a gym. Health-conscious guests can take advantage of complimentary tai chi classes in the park before breakfast. Bedrooms are large, decadent, and comfortable, with gold-hued drapes, marble-topped tables, and sumptuous bathrooms with Jo Malone or Aromatherapy Associates products—plus slick service. No wonder the hotel draws hordes of celebrity guests.

No. 6 The Savoy
When the Savoy opened in the heart of the theater district in 1889, it introduced many hotel firsts: the use of electricity, en-suite bathrooms, and elevators. That’s why, ever since, the property has played host to members of the royal family, world leaders, and celebrities of the stage and screen. The 268 rooms follow in the line of the original Edwardian and Art Deco aesthetic even after a 3-year Pierre Yves Rochon redesign. Legendary is the kitchen where Escoffier reigned, and the halls that hosted Elizabeth II’s coronation ball. To relive it all, visit the Savoy’s own on-site museum for displays commemorating the property’s storied past.

No. 7 The Goring
This 69-room family-run hotel deftly balances glitz and English charm. Minutes walk from Buckingham Palace, the century-old pile has long been royally favored: it’s where King George VI (and a teen Elizabeth II) came for breakfast to celebrate the end of WWII. Guest rooms layer thoughtful touches with the best of British design. Nina Campbell, Tim Gosling, and Russell Sage recently revamped six suites using historic silk, some originally commissioned for state carriages of the Royal Mews. In the David Linley-designed Dining Room, guests can feast on British traditional dishes (steak and kidney pie, Lincolnshire rabbit stew) under scintillating Swarovski chandeliers.

No. 8 Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane
In 2010, the Four Seasons reopened its 11-story tower near Hyde Park Corner after a two-year, head-to-toe renovation by Pierre Yves Rochon. Rooms were redesigned (and expanded) with sycamore panels and tartan draperies; dressing room closets and bathrooms redone with walnut and brushed steel cabinetry, and vanity mirrors with integrated televisions. The Amaranto restaurant was introduced to grand applause—a trio of connecting spaces (an atrium, club lounge, and conservatory) featuring Italian-inspired creations, including London’s first Italian tea. The hotel’s crowning achievement: the rooftop spa, an oak and stone sanctuary with glass-walled treatment rooms, water sculptures, and birds-eye views of the leafy treetops of Hyde Park.

No. 9 Chesterfield Mayfair
This boutique property near Green Park brings to the table two important features hard to come by at many grand London hotels: personalized service and an intimate setting. Upon arrival, the capable staff will not only ensure that you have the pillows and duvet you desire but, if you choose, that your dog has a comfy bed, too. Each of the 107 guestrooms is decorated according to themes such as Savile Row or African Savannah. The flora and fountain in the Conservatory provide the background for afternoon tea, and a live pianist plays nightly at the laid-back Butlers restaurant.

No. 10 Brown’s Hotel
Luxury hotelier Rocco Forte restored this historic treasure beyond its former glory, and his sister, Olga Polizzi, transformed the public spaces and 117 bedrooms within these 11 Georgian townhouses. It all fits perfectly into today’s London. The Donovan Bar displays black-and-white portraits of city stars from the 50’s and 60’s to great effect. Scottish tartan banquettes and British racing-green woolen armchairs abound, while the wood-paneled lounge evokes elegance without feeling old-fashioned. Guest rooms are a snazzier affair, with reproduction antique furnishings juxtaposed with soft colored textiles and walls of modern art. Its impressive basement spa performs Carita, Aromatherapy Associates, and Dr. Sebagh treatments.

Best Hotels in Buenos Aires

BUENOS-AIRES1The city’s most luxurious hotels are concentrated in Recoleta, its most luxurious neighborhood. Pretty much any building here could be converted into a five-star property, and many of them have. Palacio Duhau, for example, a magnificent Neoclassical pile from the 1920s, stood empty for several decades before Hyatt Hotels acquired it in 2002, reopening it as a Park Hyatt four years later. For once, the profit interests of a multinational and the heritage interests of a city found themselves in perfect alignment.

To avoid category fatigue, I’ve included two hotels on this list, Algodon Mansion and Faena Hotel + Universe that occupy the gray area between boutique and luxury. Both offer a less reliable but potentially more memorable experience than, say, the Four Seasons. If you’re looking for a hotel where the concierge is still called “the Concierge,” and where guests are still more likely to get their news from the complimentary newspaper than from their tablet, look no further than the Alvear Palace.

No.1 Palacio Duhau, Park Hyatt Buenos Aires

If money is no object, the choice between the old mansion and the new tower is the proverbial no-brainer. The latter offers a decent, if vanilla, five-star experience; the former is something special, with original features such as red marble floors, brass door fittings, fireplaces, and ceiling cornices meticulously preserved and restored. The health club, restaurants, and bars are terrific.

No.2 Algodon Mansion

It’s the little things that count: The iPod-synced hydrotherapy massage tub; the temperature-controlled wine rack behind the damask sofa; the rooftop cognac and cigar bar. Housed in a handsome Recoleta mansion from 1912, this luxe boutique delivers a high-end experience with nonchalant aplomb. For the urban leg of a honeymoon, nowhere could be better.

No.3 Alvear Palace Hotel

Lodging emperors (Akihito), screen sirens (Sophia Loren), presidents (Nelson Mandela) and dodgy Swedish pop-rock duos (Roxette) since 1932, the Alvear is comfortably the city’s most famous hotel. If you’re an average Joe like me, stepping into the gleaming marble lobby will make you feel twice as classy, five times as wealthy, and around ten years older. French restaurant La Bourgogne is overrated; lunch, tea and brunch spot L’Orangerie is not.

No.4 Faena Hotel + Universe

Few hotels anywhere have generated as much hype and debate over the past decade as this one. But it’s probable that for every guest repelled by designer Philippe Starck’s singular vision—unicorn heads mounted in the restaurant, chandeliers that look like deep-sea creatures, etc.—there are nine dazzled by it. It’s the kind of place where you might easily find yourself sharing an elevator with Sting.

No.5 Four Seasons, Buenos Aires

If you’ve stayed at a Four Seasons, you’ll know what to expect: peerless staff, including a bend-over-backwards concierge service, luxuriously equipped guestrooms, and top-notch shared amenities. This particular property’s USP is La Mansión, a Beaux-Arts construction from 1920 that now houses seven opulent suites. If you’re Madonna, you book the lot.

By Matt Chesterton

Best Hotels in New York

West Tower Deluxe Room

Book your next stay at one of these hotels, they’re the best in New York City.

There are a dizzying number of hotel options in Manhattan, ranging from midtown’s grande dame hotels to chic boutique properties in Tribeca. Let T+L simplify your search with this indispensable guide to the best New York City hotels and their notable amenities.

While some of these properties are already well known, we love them for their hidden charms, such as under-the-radar movie screenings or courtyard tea service. Get the scoop on the top hotels in New York City, based on readers’ votes in our annual World’s Best Awards survey.

No. 1 St. Regis, New York
Built in 1904, and still gleaming from its 2005 renovation, this Beaux-Arts beauty is a well-polished monument to old New York. The lobby is a model of old-school opulence, with a trompe l’oeil ceiling, Corinthian-capped pilasters, and a king’s ransom in marble and gold trim. In the dark-wood-paneled Cognac Room, the ghosts of brandy-sipping patricians linger beneath the antique paintings; and the mahogany King Cole Bar (birthplace of the Bloody Mary) looks better than ever now that decades of tobacco residue have been scrubbed from its famous mural. The 256 redone rooms all have canopy beds, paisley carpets, and silk wall coverings—and each floor comes with its own tuxedoed 24-hour butler. Alain Ducasse’s newest restaurant, Adour, opened on-site to great fanfare.

No. 2 Ritz-Carlton New York, Central Park
The sight (and, it must be said, smell) of carriage horses greets you as you enter this 33-story, limestone-fronted building on the southern edge of Central Park. Transformed from the St. Moritz Hotel in 2002, it has a laid-back, town house feel (tasseled damask curtains, fringed armchairs) and is known for its beyond-the-call-of-duty service. The multilingual staff—which includes bath butlers, a tech butler (for troubleshooting laptop issues), a gemologist, and an award-winning concierge team—will loan you (or your dog) a Burberry trench coat if it’s raining, and come evening, the chauffeured house Bentley is at your disposal. The 259 rooms and suites, done up in taupe and pale rose tones, come with damask curtains and four pillow choices; bathrooms are outfitted with deep soaking tubs and Frederic Fekkai amenities. Cap off your stay with drinks at the African-wood Star Lounge, adorned by potted palms and original Samuel Halpert paintings of New York.

No. 3 The Four Seasons, New York
Raising the opulence bar—even for a Four Seasons property—this soaring, sleek, I. M. Pei-designed tower epitomizes the cool high life in this coolest of American cities. The spare stone façade leads to a cavernous marble lobby, where the voices of arriving guests echo among angular stone columns and vaulted skylit ceilings. Fifty-two stories high, the hotel has 364 rooms with views overlooking the midtown skyline (if you’re facing north) and Central Park (to the south); the higher you go, the better and more expensive the vantage point. The average 600-square-foot size is massive by NYC standards, and all rooms are kitted out with clean-lined wood furniture; velvety fabrics in shades of champagne and cream; and spacious marble baths, many with soaking tubs that fill in 60 seconds. The amenities include a spa offering rose-petal foot soaks and the sublime L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon restaurant.

No. 4 Trump International Hotel & Tower New York
This soaring black monolith on Columbus Circle, with its gold awning that seems to jut out into traffic, isn’t the subtlest hotel in town—but then The Donald has never been known for his modesty. In fact, when the Mandarin Oriental opened nearby in 2003, Trump boasted (in block letters, on the side of the Trump) that his hotel had the better Central Park views. The thing is, though—he’s right. The Trump’s 35 Park View Suites, each 900 or 950 square feet with nine-foot windows overlooking the park’s south end, really do feel as though they’re directly on top of Manhattan’s greenest patch. Even the rest of the hotel’s 167 units, though, feel like tricked-out condos; all are modern, with cream-colored fabrics, large closets, and jetted tubs; all suites have full kitchens. You’re not treated like royalty here as much as like a bigwig executive; the staff includes personal “attachés” who can arrange your meeting schedules and stock your fridge before you arrive, and a cadre of personal trainers who can tailor your workout or set the pace as you jog in the park.

No. 5 Mandarin Oriental, New York
As sumptuous and plush as the Four Seasons (a few blocks away) is slick and modern, the popular MO occupies the 35th through the 54th floors of the Time Warner Center at the southwest corner of Central Park. The hotel is accessed via a special elevator in an entryway decorated with a giant, fiery-looking Dale Chihuly sculpture. Of the 248 rooms, many of them are on the small side, and some have views that are compromised by neighboring high-rises. Still, all are furnished with opulent Asian-inspired details, including silk bedspreads and pillows in rich colors of scarlet and gold, Japanese brush paintings, and in some suites, cushy Oriental rugs. The 14,500-square-foot spa (which includes a glassed-in 75-foot-long pool and Espa treatments like ayurvedic scalp stimulation and Thai yoga massage) is quite possibly the city’s best.

No. 6 NoMad Hotel
It took a New York minute for the long-overlooked stretch between the Flatiron and Herald Square to go from interstitial wasteland to Manhattan’s “it” neighborhood. Out went the wig shops and counterfeit perfume dealers; in came glittery nightspots and brand-name chefs. The tipping point? The elegantly burnished NoMad Hotel, which opened in a 1903 Beaux-Arts tower on 28th Street. Developer Andrew Zobler—whose Ace Hotel jump-started the area’s transformation in 2009—has partnered with chef Daniel Humm and restaurateur Will Guidara, the acclaimed duo behind Eleven Madison Park. The NoMad’s 168 Jacques Garcia–designed guest rooms channel old New York, with atelier-inspired furniture and claw-foot tubs. But you’re likely to spend more time in the five—yes, five—dining rooms and bars downstairs, where walls of bookshelves and mohair banquettes provide a sexy backdrop for Humm’s signature foie-gras-and-truffle-stuffed chicken.

No. 7 Andaz Wall Street
Perhaps a sign that things are looking up on Wall Street: Hyatt’s bullish move to open the tech-savvy, David Rockwell–designed Andaz. Hosts carry handheld PC’s used to make key cards on the spot, and at Bar Seven Five, located at the top of an undulating staircase, a bartender will prepare Manhattans tableside from a Pullman-style caddy. The 253 guest rooms feature seven-foot-high windows, which means that the bleached wood interiors (complete with soaking tubs) are flooded with natural light. In lieu of a conventional check-in desk, a host greets you in the lobby, offers you a seat and a glass of wine, and enters your name into a handheld e-tablet that looks something like an iPad. After swiping your credit card and producing a key card, the host escorts you to your room—which, for around $275, features 345 square feet of crisply designed and furnished space, 10-foot ceilings, dark stained-oak floors, and a long, transparent window between the bedroom and the bathtub.

No. 8 Andaz 5th Avenue
The city’s second property from Hyatt’s boutique brand—located directly across from the New York Public Library—has 184 loftlike guest rooms with 12-foot floor-to-ceiling windows and muted interiors by designer Tony Chi. With the signature Andaz check-in process (there’s no reception desk), you’ll be greeted by a tablet-toting host who accommodates you throughout your stay. Nods to New York City fill every nook and cranny: high-profile artists decorate the ever-changing Fifth Avenue doors with their vision of Gotham; the Shop restaurant incorporates fresh food from local purveyors (donuts from Brooklyn’s popular Dough bakery); and guest room sconces resemble early 1900s subway lanterns. And if you’ve been strolling the streets in sandals on a scorching summer day, you’ll certainly appreciate thebathroom’s porcelain footbath.

No. 9 The Pierre
The Pierre-by-Taj refreshes the luxury and exclusivity that have long defined the hotel. From that unparalleled location—at the southeast corner of Central Park—to a reputation for quality and discretion that has attracted and coddled guests of wealth and taste from Britain’s Prince Philip to the Rolling Stones, the Pierre has always been one of New York’s top-tier hotels. The new Pierre—lighter, more contemporary, but still an assured grande dame—was unveiled in stages. First, Taj hired designer Alexandra Champalimaud to refresh the Grand Ballroom and the Cotillion Room. Then, every room and suite was redesigned by James Park Associates of Singapore. They now hint at Taj’s ownership with Indian-made window treatments and handwoven carpets and South Asian art chosen by a Mumbai gallerist. The Pierre has also installed state-of-the-art electronic systems in every room, and bathrooms have been enlarged and equipped with wall-to-wall marble, deep tubs, and glass showers with rain heads.

No. 10 Ritz-Carlton New York, Battery Park
Set at the southern tip of Manhattan, this Ritz may be the only hotel in the city where you’ll wake to the morning cries of seagulls. The 39-story tower’s location is either a huge selling point or an inconvenience, depending on your point of view: although it’s set far from most of the city’s main attractions, it’s also set far from crowds, and the natural light that floods through the windows—reflected off the waters of the Hudson—is of a quality you won’t find elsewhere here. These simpler pleasures—light, quiet, views of the Statue of Liberty and passing ships—are the real reasons to stay here; the customary Ritz-Carlton crystal-and-marble formality isn’t much in evidence. The 298 lemon-yellow and sea-green rooms—all with Frette linens and Bulgari bath products—start at a spacious 425 square feet; those with harbor views have window telescopes. Abstract works by New York artists hang on walls throughout the hotel, while gently curving hallways and Art Deco touches allude to the cruise liners that once called at the adjoining harbor.

No. 11 Hôtel Plaza Athénée, New York
One of the few independent hotels left in Manhattan, this 142-room bijou is cherished by Europeans (and savvy celebrities) for its intimacy and attentive staff. Set on a quiet, tree-lined street off Madison Avenue, the hotel entry has a hushed, secret-garden ambience; guests check in while seated at an antique French desk, then pass huge granite urns of cascading flowers on their way to the elevators. Guest rooms are decorated with fanciful elegance—marble bathrooms, fine Italian linens, gold Paul Garnier wall clocks—while architectural drawings add a touch of civility to public spaces. In the afternoons, guests can join well-heeled locals for cocktails or afternoon tea in the dusky, leather-floored Bar Seine.

No. 12 The Carlyle, A Rosewood Hotel
A stylish classic, the Carlyle gets all the details right—from the chessboard floors and (still-working!) mail chutes to the new Empire Suite, a cashmere-walled, $15,000-a-night duplex designed by Thierry Despont and curated by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. A haven for presidents and blue bloods since 1930, the Carlyle has a pedigreed past, to say the least; it’s easy to imagine Jackie Kennedy and Audrey Hepburn bumping into one another at lunch—oh wait, they did. Each of the 187 surpassingly tasteful rooms is unique, but many feature Louis XVI-style furnishings and black-marble bathrooms courtesy of decorator Alexandra Champalimaud, who recently revamped the –05 line. Audubon prints and hardwood floors throughout the hotel are original; cocktails at Bemelmans (with murals by the author of the Madeline children’s books) and cabaret at the recently spiffed-up Café Carlyle are two nonpareil experiences of uptown nightlife.

No. 13 The Surrey
Set in a landmark 17-story Beaux-Arts-style building on Madison Avenue and 76th Street, the 190-room hotel reopened in 2009 following a $60 million top-down restoration led by award-winning designer Lauren Rottet. The result? An aesthetic nod to uptown swank (the Bar Pleiades has beige-quilted walls that were inspired by a Chanel handbag) mixed with contemporary accents (a striking six-foot tapestry of Kate Moss greets guests in the lobby). Spruced-up rooms and suites—in shades of gray, cream, and white—have Duxiana beds, Pratesi bathrobes, and exclusive amenities from perfumer Laura Tonatto. Other tony features: a 2,200-square-foot, private rooftop garden; a deluxe room service menu from Café Boulud; and the relocated Cornelia Spa, which opened at the property in July 2012.

No. 14 The London NYC
Since opening in late 2006, the London may have received less press than its Gordon Ramsay-run in-house restaurant, but this elegant, all-suite hotel justly deserves its own following. The 562 suites, the smallest of which are an expansive 500 square feet, are models of streamlined elegance; the parquet oak floors, dark embossed-leather desks, and curving velvet banquettes were all chosen by designer David Collins, who has worked his magic at some of Europe’s chicest hotels. All bathrooms are furnished by Waterworks with sunken marble tubs, showers with dueling “rain” showerheads, and sumptuous bath towels and robes. Book a table at Mr. Ramsay’s only stateside restaurant a month early; if you can’t get in, try for a slate-blue banquette at his less-formal spot, Maze—or just order room service from the restaurant.

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