Musings from October Travels
A few weeks ago I visited New Orleans for the first time ever and I'm not quite sure how I managed to miss this amazing city until now. My husband, Hank, planned our stay at Soniat House and I absolutely adored it. I love when a place exceeds your expectations--the website didn't convey their impeccable service and the charming antiques in every suite. It was an oasis on the edge of the French Quarter that allowed us to walk everywhere from the Garden District to the Bywater. I couldn't get enough of the small collection of vintage items at Soniat Antiques, with my nose pressed against the glass each time I walked to my room.
Photograph of Soniat House in New Orleans, LA
We booked a private tour from New Orleans Architecture Tours to begin our Saturday exploration. Together with our guide, Katrina, we meandered through the Garden District observing the evolution of the houses spanning everything from single shotgun to Italianate to Queen Anne. I always love viewing history through the lens of architecture.
Photographs of the architecture tour in New Orleans, LA
And then we strolled! I had to visit Mignon for the adorable children's clothing. We then worked our way down Magazine Street, popping in and out of boutiques. Sunday Shop is not to be missed.
Photographs of Mignon (left) and Sunday Shop (right) in New Orleans, LA
After a refresh at the hotel, we headed back out for dinner at Le Petite Grocery via the streetcar. I loved the switchback wooden seats, integrated brass handles and industrial lights. Riding the streetcar is like stepping back in time AND a great way to see the city.
Sunday morning naturally began with breakfast. If you stay at the Soniat, you must order the chicory coffee and biscuits (made to order) to your room. The Wall Street Journal Off Duty happened to be featuring NOLA which added further color to our itinerary.
Photograph of Soniat House Sunday morning breakfast
Walking off breakfast, we meandered into A Gallery to check out their incredible photography collection--the Helmut Newtons were a favorite.
My father-in-law went to Tulane, so it was a must that we ride the St. Charles line once more to The Camellia Grill on S. Carrollton Ave. A lively staff delivers classic southern diner food to locals and students in this restaurant with an S-shaped counter that snakes around its entirety.
The entire city of New Orleans revolves around food and music, as did the rest of our day. We indulged ourselves with caviar, oysters and scallops at Le Revolution for dinner and took in the bustling scene on Frenchmen Street. Live music pours out of every open door while impromptu concerts occur on each street corner and local artists share their work at the art markets. We wandered our way down to Hotel Peter and Paul in the Marigny. The hotel makes use of four late 19th century buildings that originally housed the Catholic school and church but have been transformed by Studio WTA and ASH NYC into a colorful and unique place to stay. My husband and I savored our last night of vacation together over drinks at the hotel's Elysian Bar.
Photographs of New Orleans, LA
Sadly the weekend had come to an end--on Monday morning my husband returned to California while I had two more days planned in Charleston.
After checking in to The Dewberry Charleston, a hotel created as founder John Dewberry's vision of "Southern Reimagined", I ran across to King Street to pop into Hampden Clothing and then Lake. Have you seen their luxurious sleepwear for adults and kids? Our group ended the day together by enjoying the seasonal menu at Fig.
Photograph of a house in Charleston, SC
We were a mix of LA, Aspen and UK designers invited on what has affectionately been dubbed "the golden ticket": a behind-the-scenes factory tour of the genius that is The Urban Electric Company. Founder Dave Dawson gave us a look at the (entirely American-made!) process of bespoke decorative lighting. Dave has built an incredible company over the past 15 years which has always aimed at working closely with the interior design industry to create highly customizable products. Urban Electric now occupies several buildings at the Charleston Naval Base and we were able to see their newest space which is due to open in a few months.
Photographs of Urban Electric Company tour in Charleston, SC
That afternoon, we toured the Aiken-Rhett House, which is one of the oldest houses in Charleston. The house, built in 1820, is being very minimally restored with a focus on preservation. The tour was followed by dinner at Chez Nous with Urban Electric co-founder Jen Dawson and Creative Director Michael Amato. Chez Nous is a pint-sized restaurant in a beautifully restored antebellum home. Each night features a new menu handwritten in gorgeous script by chef Jill Mathias. Our long exterior table in the warm Southern autumn truly felt like dining in someone's private garden.
Photograph of Aiken-Rhett House (left) and Chez Nous (right) in Charleston, SC
I was missing my Anyon crew (and of course the littles at home!) so I was happy to be heading back to San Francisco. Upon returning to Anyon, I caught up with Kelly, our Atelier director, and got to hear highlights from her simultaneous trip to Tulum in celebration of her birthday. Tulum Beach is known for its powdery white sand and turquoise ocean water. It is rustic and undeveloped with a vibrant restaurant scene which was the perfect recipe for ultimate relaxation while spending quality time with friends.
Photographs of Tulum, Mexico by Kelly, Atelier Director
Photograph by Gitano in Tulum
One of the highlights of her trip was her visit to the Coqui Coqui Coba Residence & Spa, which is set in the remote village of Coba on the shore of a lagoon deep within the jungle of the Yucatan Peninsula. Coba is home to ancient ruins of Mayan civilization and Coqui Coqui used the setting as inspiration for their design--the architecture blends seamlessly into the natural surroundings. Coqui Coqui is more than just a line of products we carry in the Atelier; the company represents a lifestyle brand of understated luxury with their boutique hotels and perfumeries. Needless to say that their mantra that luxury is about time and space and place resonates with all of us at Anyon. Kelly highly recommends a day at one of their spas.
Photograph of Coqui Coqui Coba by Kelly, Atelier Director (left) and Photograph by Coqui Coqui (right)
Photographs of Coqui Coqui Coba by Kelly, Atelier Director
As I write this, I am headed to the Design Leadership Summit in London so stay tuned for some UK highlights. I know for most of us November promises to be another busy month of prepping for the holidays and travel. But for now we hope everyone is enjoying the seasonal changes that autumn brings!