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A Winter Weekend in Montreal, France

TravelRebecca O'Byrne5 Comments
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Planning a trip to the South of France may, as a default, come to mind as something firmly on your summer to-do list but what if the perfect Winter weekend away could be spent elegantly in the magical surrounds and the wonderfully French backdrop of Montréal, tucked away at Camellas-Lloret at the beginning of December. 

With a short three nights and four days to spare, my Love and I set off on a romantic weekend together that saw us fly into Carcassonne airport from Dublin. Direct flights with Ryanair are irresistibly inexpensive in the off-season months. What took us there? Well, it was almost two years ago that I found a dreamy hotel on Instagram and ever since I just knew it was a place my soul absolutely needed to experience in this lifetime. I was prepared for Camellas-Lloret being a wonderful little haven but in all honesty, it is even dreamier in real-life than I could ever have anticipated (and my oh my the dreaminess is off the charts on their wonderfully curated Instagram account).

Set in the medieval hilltop village of Montréal in the Languedoc region, Camellas-Lloret, is the epitome of what one would imagine everything to be in the South of France (this was our first ever visit), refined yet rustic, touchable yet otherworldly beautiful. A ‘love-project’ of a beautiful couple Annie (a New Yorker) and Colin (from South Africa) Moore, the 18th-century house boasts the most incredible, authentic original structure. With five uniquely designed bedrooms, a simple but beautiful walled garden, the enticing greenhouse which plays home to the lemons and mandarins that make their way to the tables each morning for breakfast in the form of Annie’s marmalade and a terrace perfectly fit for summer evenings dripping in rosé, the place is so divine that you could spend a month and never leave. 

Annie, an interior designer and someone whom I think I'd like to be the I grow up (she’s great at everything from wonderful chats, marmalade making, baking, photography, cooking and just generally being fabulous) - is from New York and has designed the house to feel like ‘home’. White-washed walls and draping vintage linens, contrasting textures with original chandeliers and old-world sculptures are met with the chicest of the chic modern touches throughout. With furniture slipcovers, the perfect kind of magazine stacks and all the buildings original pine flooring, it is founded on authentically refined French elegance along with the toppings of a truly talented interior designer and is exactly where one finds peace and space to relax, surrounded by the kind of beauty found only in the South of France. 

Colin is fantastic with kindly helping guests plan out their days if you are set on exploring the areas around Montréal. His suggested routes guided us to wonderful cafes, tapas bars, museums, the local castle and a beautiful little village nearby famous for its bookstores. All in all, winter weekends at Camellas-Lloret are all about long lie-ins as the sun beams through the shutters, afternoon strolls exploring the beautiful countryside, followed by a glass of white beside the crackling fire, which is where we spend our evenings reading, all cosied up catching up on our favourite books and enjoying wonderful conversations with Annie and Colin. 

Whether you visit in summer or winter, find yourself there for a night or a month, it is a haven that re-ignites the soul and leaves you wondering how you’ll ever leave. 


LOCATION

Montréal, France just a 10/15 minute drive from Carcassonne Airport or one hour from Toulouse

RATES

Starting from €140 per room per night

WHAT TO DO & SEE

Incredible local antique/vintage shopping

Get lost in the surroundings of the Cathar castles

Book in for a body and attitude balancing session with Colin who is a world-renowned doctor of Chiropractic and a wellness coach

Head off for afternoon bike rides by the Canal du Midi

(In summer) Spend your days on beautiful Mediterranean beaches

Spend time relaxing at the house with a book and rosé (all day)

Organise a wine tasting and visit near-by vineyards

TIPS

Renting a car is essential to explore the surrounding towns and villages

Families are very welcome but really the property is much more oriented toward and appreciated by adults

TO BOOK

You can contact Annie directly at annie@camellaslloret.com


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To book, you can contact Annie directly at annie@camellaslloret.com

 

Shop The Hotlist; Travel Edition

Travel, StyleRebecca O'ByrneComment

Summer is en route and that means we're also en route.. to some fabulous destinations in the coming weeks and months that is. Get ready for your every vacay desire with today's HSF Hotlist. From sexy sandals and fabulous dresses to the little most delightful beauty touches and perfect airport outfit, this travel edit will cover your every need!

Dine at the Dolce & Gabbana Martini Bar, Milan

Life, TravelRebecca O'ByrneComment

When it comes to chic you can be sure to trust the Italians to do things just right. Demure and sexily fun, the combination of two of Italy’s most considerable brands Dolce & Gabbana and Marinti is perhaps a creation of genius proportions and one that, upon stepping into their collaborative world brings about a sense of both the old-world glamour of Italy coupled with a more modern dash of boldness so synonymous with Milan. 

Eat at Bar Luce, Milan

Travel, InteriorsRebecca O'ByrneComment

Stepping into Bar Luce, whether before, during or after adventuring through Fondazione Prada, is akin to stepping some decades into the past and a rather dreamy Milanee cafe of times gone by. Designed by film director Wes Anderson whose visionary work is typically of a symmetrical world that plays into a weirdly wonderful perfection, his real world creation at Bar Luce is, as it were, a less fantastical reality in which the everyday life can be enjoyed - ratherly chicly. 

Visit Fondazione Prada, Milan

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Created in 1993 by Miuccia Prada and her husband Patricia Bertelli, Fondazione Prada is a philanthropic project whose main interest remains loyal to the investment of ideas and the analyses of present times through art. Supporting the the world of contemporary art through artist commissions, research exhibitions and initiatives related to cinema and the hosting of contemporary philosophy conferences, the Fondazione’s mission is to encourage and support the opportunity to extend and intensify the process of learning. 

Stay at La Villa des Oranges, Marrakech

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With a complimentary car pick up from Marrakech airport, it's just a fifteen minute journey home toVilla des Orangers. The reference to home is appropriate for never have fewer places ever felt so homely, somewhere so foreign. Upon stepping inside this beautiful Riad style hotel, it's quick to materialise that the world outside it's walls fades into nothing but a distant memory. 

Gulla Jonsdottir, Architect & Designer

Travel, InteriorsRebecca O'ByrneComment

Gulla Jonsdottir’s completed projects include some of the most luxurious hotels, restaurants, bars, lounges and galleries the world over. The architect and interior designer’s appreciation of space, uncompromising beauty and the delicate dance between the sensual and empirical awards her the prestige as one of our generation’s most fresh and dynamic innovators. 

Stay at Mama Ruisa, Rio de Janeiro

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Set in a gated space in the trendy Rio neighbourhood of Santa Teresa, Mama Ruisa, is an old and stately mansion that once played home to a wealthy Brazilian family and today to guests who wish to find themselves lost in a tasteful yet very authentic Brazilian experience and amid the hillsides of this magnificent city. 

The Joule, Dallas

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Separating itself from the masses with it’s distinct tenacity and Downtown Dallas vibe, The Joule is Dallas’s bold little number with the perfect touch of Southern hospitality. Reflective of the city’s somewhat more refined tone in comparison to Austin or Houston, The Joule is a finely restored 1920’s landmark building that now plays home to the city’s visitors wishing to temporarily escape the norm and embrace the unexpected.

Eat at In Situ, San Francisco

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Uncompromisingly cool and collected, distinctively unique and promisingly unlike many other high-brow gourmet dining encounters, In Situ is one of San Francisco's hottest fine dining experiences. Situated at the heart of the arts, the concept restaurant is SFMOMA's flagship restaurant and places itself front and centre on the ground floor lobby of the city’s iconic Museum of Modern Art.

The Broad, Los Angeles

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Los Angeles is the nucleus of the contemporary art world. Home to some of the most iconic originators in art, architecture and cultured creations, since September 2015 the city is also home to the world's most impressive modern art museum, The Broad. 

Rio de Janeiro

TravelRebecca O'ByrneComment

Visiting new and foreign lands is one of my favourite ways to spend my life and in admitting my ignorance in knowing little to almost nothing of Brazil before landing there, I can't quite begin to describe just how fabulous our trip there was last year. 

There to attend one of my Love's best friend's wedding just north of Rio in Buzios, we decided to take a little longer in travelling to the other side of the world and added time on either end of the special occasion in order to explore this country so rich in culture, art and an altogether otherworldly authentic way of living that neither of us had ever quite experienced despite both of our insane weakness for travel.

First stop though was Rio. Gosh where to begin in attempting to narrate this somewhat cryptic city that even after spending a long weekend in we left with an overall sense of mystery that unless living as a local one might never quite gain a complete understanding of. Beyond beautiful in it's insanely unrefined yet splendid rawness, it's a definite mix of all sorts of contrasts and differences; darkness and light, poverty and wealth, beach-living and dangerous alleyways. With no doubt an endless array of things to do, people to meet and experiences that will live with you for life, it's full of wonders to explore and experience.

Today I'm thrilled to share with you all that we lived and loved and can most definitely say what brought to life this city as our home if even for use those three short days..



Stay

I love a good boutique hotel. Like Love with a capital L. And Mama Ruisa, our little sanctuary for those three precious nights, sure lived up to all my expectations as one of Rio's most stylish and personal stays. Set in a gated space in one of Rio's trendiest neighbourhoods, Santa Theresa, is the old and stately mansion that once played home to a wealthy Brazilian family and now to guests who wish to find themselves lost in a chic yet very authentic Brazilian experience. From it's stunning decor that brings a touch of French to a strong Brazilian foundation and vastly expansive rooms that make you feel like staying forever to waking each morning to a most magical view of the city from atop Santa Theresa as you have your breakfast on a private balcony and the utmost attentive staff who are there to help you with anything to do with your being in Rio, I cannot recommend this heavenly paradise more. 

Somewhere else to consider staying and one our next trip will definitely consist of a night or forever at is Hotel Saint Teresa. We spent two days chilling here, having lunch and generally just loving every moment in the chic surroundings of this precious place. Rustic yet perfectly polished it's so fabulous on every level and the kind of place that if you never left you'd live in heaven forever!

http://instagram.com/hautesofabulous/

Experience


Unbeknownst to us, and frankly quite the shock, weather wasn't to be on our side during the trip - three days of sunshine out of 16. However, blessed with insane heat and clear blue skies one of the days, one of our favourite parts of Rio was definitely getting to see the city's gorgeous landscape from atop Sugarloaf Mountain. Leaving from Prais Vermelha, a cable car takes you on the first leg of the journey stopping at Urca Mountain (220 meters above sea level). Here you can't help but bow to the breathtaking, 360degree views of the city. Keep going though because even these are nothing to the those that meet you when you reach Sugarloaf Mountain itself, after taking another cable car to the sister mountain sitting right beside it. Towering at 396 meters over sea level you can really see the city in all it's glory, a perfect view of all that rests below including Copacabana Beach, The Christ, Guanabara Bay and the picturesque blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean. 

Allotting an entire morning or afternoon, or day even if you have it to sit and read and take photos, is essential to this activity and something that are we to ever return to Rio we shall most definitely be doing again. Next time at sunset which is supposedly so so magical. 

To feel at home in a city hanging out in a beautiful park is a must for me to know I've truly spent enough time to feel and truly observe the essence of native life. Our Sunday afternoon spent at Parque Lage was that and so much more. Also known as the Taj Mahal of Rio, Parque Lage is like a postcard you step into and never want to leave and one that despite the likes of Snoop, Pharrell and the Black Eyed Peas having shot some of their biggest music videos there, seems to be overshadowed in travel guides by it's nearby sister park, the Botonical Gardens. The mansion that resides at Parque Lage used to be a private home and is now an art school where exhibitions of all kinds are held.

As people watching is one of our guilty pleasures in life and after a cocktail in the mansions cafe, my Love and I blissed out and spent an entire afternoon hanging out here soaking up the most exquisite scenes that are bound to set your heart alight. The gardens are simply divine, not to mention the amazing sounds of the birds and monkeys that all call it home. Funnily enough too, it was all after a (rather disappointingly clouded) journey up to the see Christ the Redeemer who it turns out overlooks the beautiful scene of Parque Lage below.. although on this cloudy day we still couldn't see him from here either. 

http://instagram.com/hautesofabulous/
http://instagram.com/hautesofabulous/

Experience


Before we left on our travels, I was honestly a little naive to the dangerous side of Rio. I lived in South Africa for a year when I was just 18 and even then I was a little unaware of being an outsider in such foreign lands. As part of my traveller self though I like that, to go somewhere with an open mind and not let a preconceived judgement determine my experience. I mean I knew on a subconscious level that it's not exactly Disneyland but quite frankly, despite the beauty, I was to learn of just how dangerous a city it is. Paul wouldn't let me watch 'City of God' - the infamous movie about Rio's most notorious favela - before leaving (not to mention us embarking on a walking tour of one of the other favelas during our stay) and thank goodness he was so wise. It's INSANE. I like to pride myself on being a slight badass when it comes to facing real-life situations in the face and in my naivety, off we went with two of our divine friends who were in the city and spent an afternoon on a walking tour of one of the city's largest shanty towns. 

Our tour guide was incredible and if you are to one day experience Rio in it's rawest form, there's nobody like him to show you around. He brought us through what is something only your wildest imagination could conjure up. Unlike the townships of Cape Town and the one I worked in in Plettenberg Bay during my time in South Africa, the buildings are of concrete structure and are stronger than most in standing up to the harsh weathers that tear other shanty towns apart around the world. Built on top of each other with literally just enough space to walk between each building, the favela sprawls over miles of acres and is home to some several million people who work here, rear their families and build their daily lives. Our tour guide informed us of how built up it has become and in the past 10 years how much safer it's streets have become in a transformation that has seen drug wars lessened, police enforcement implemented, and the quality of life risen beyond measure for those who call it home. They now even have satellite TV and WiFi - within reason. To us though, it was insane - a world that seems so far from our norm and yet one that once inside you're captivated by it's intensity and almost movie like reality. We learned of how just 10 years ago there is no way even the police would enter, not to mention a white foreigner. Kids running around with machine guns and drug lords killing the next target on their never-ending list of customers in need of their next fix. Life had absolutely no meaning it would seem and those who entered did so at the risk of loosing their life. 

It was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. I loved it. However I'm not going to lie, we most definitely had a feeling that we were encroaching upon territory that was not ours and although some of the locals see it that we bringing awareness to the situation and also a certain amount of business, it still felt somewhat wrong to be there as a tourist. The scariest part, and the moment in which I realise was most real having since seen "City of God" was when two boys, no more than 12 years old, passed us with guns in their hands. Casually speaking, I got lost in the moment thinking perhaps it was just part of a movie. But sadly no, crime and mortality is still very much part of reality in the favelas in Rio. 

http://instagram.com/hautesofabulous/
http://instagram.com/hautesofabulous/

Eat & Drink


As we were only there for a short time, restaurants and cocktails weren't our main priority - we just wanted to experience as much as possible. Although having said that, we gave it our best shot. Again, as major sushi lovers we had a divine fix of our favoured cuisine at Yumê which is so much fun. With an aquarium floor upon which you sit to enjoy your evening it's such a beautiful spot for couples. And for a drink before or after, Sobe, located right next door is so cool. The cocktail list is extensive and super tempting, especially as you sit outside under the nights stars. 

As I already mentioned, drinks and a late lunch at Parque Lage are the ultimate way to spend any liquid-y lunch and dining at the stunning Térèze at Hotel Saint Teresa is sheer luxury of the chicest kind. Not to mention somewhere to chill by the pool with a cocktail or coffee after. 

Somewhere to delve into the true Brazilian foodie experience is Porcāo Rios, the city's infamous all-you-can-eat meat restaurant. Whether you do the buffet style serving and control your own portions or go all out with the table service - the waiters continue to bring food after food to the table until you flip the coloured pig on the tablet to red, you're sure to get a real Brazilian dinner affair. 

Another place we adored - in all that sparkles on one of the most beautiful date nights ever, was AprazívelHere you will fall head-over-heels in love with Rio by night. The views of the city are breathtaking and take you away from the world. Dinner here is a treat and something to cherish for a night of celebrations. Make sure that when reserving you ask for a table outside wth the view the restaurant is famous for. 

http://instagram.com/hautesofabulous/
http://instagram.com/hautesofabulous/

All in all our first time in Rio was beyond amazing. Weather might not have shown up but despite that, to experience people, places and things so new to us was enthralling far beyond anything a day laying on Copacabana Beach would've allowed. Although visiting it is a must if you've come this far, no matter the weather..

http://instagram.com/hautesofabulous/

Shop Your Rio Style


Love R x

Paris

TravelRebecca O'ByrneComment

Despite all that's been going on, this past year I've been blessed to take several trips to Paris, one of my favourite cities in the world. My Love has been working there quite a bit and so I've simply never been able to resist fluttering my wings and following my heart. As one might put it, Paris is a constant master of any romantic heart, tempting and enticing with every meeting..

Sketch, London

Travel, InteriorsHaute So Fabulous1 Comment

Conceived in 2002 by restaurateur Mourad Mazouz and infamous French master chef Pierre Gagnnaire, Sketch, London is a slick and desirable destination, or perhaps more accurately an experience, that continues to attract and capture the chic crowd, one hard to get booking after another. Truly 'Instagram' famous since the 2014 opening of ' The Gallery' which is home to a tickiliciously pink creation by Parisian based designer and architect, India Mahdavi. The contemporary pink mix and old-Hollywood style velvet furnishings, in turn plays as a classic backdrop for the most eclectic and 'grammable' experiential exhibit I've had the pleasure of dining amid yet. Showcasing 239 of David Shrigley's original works on the walls, Sketch is a dream any night of the week. It's collision of art and design, humour and panache bring a rather interesting beauty to life. The atmosphere is fun and in fact, it's a rather tempting act to simply stare at the walls, loosing oneself in the mysterious, dark and humorous world of Shrigley's infamous doodles. 

The walls though aren't the sole dwelling place for the exhibition pieces. Tables and their settings are also works of art by Shrigley who said of his ceramic designs, "It is the first artwork that I have made that can go in the dishwasher". Don't forget to check your plate once you're done, trust me. 

And of course, as with any chic collaboration of the creatives, the waiting staff wear the coolest designs by fashion designer Richar Nicoll. 

Although Sketch is admittedly not the new kid on the block these days, it's been on my list for quite some time and upon a recent quickie to London with my best friend I was thrilled to make a fun and fabulous night of it. Admittedly I'm not the girl who goes to places for the love of food but rather the experience, I must stop to say the food is utterly delicious; obviously. I had two starters, the broccoli veloutè to (actually) start and then tuna tartar as my main, both leaving me in the dream of starting all over again to savour every bite. 

Bathroom breaks are off the charts kind of interesting. You've got to see it to believe it. But let's just say it's like landing in space in your very own designer chic shell!

Book your night of fun at sketch.london

And check out DavidShrigley for a taste of why I loved Sketch so much.

Love R x