Favourite City: Paris
“What is there not to love about Paris?” Marisa Wee muses. It is, after all, a city known just as much for its old-world charm as it is for its avant-garde atitude. The stylish traveller especially enjoys visiting during Paris Fashion Week when the city is abuzz with activity. On occasion, she will secure a seat at bistro Le Coq Rico (98 Rue Lepic, 75018 Paris), where one can spot fashion editors working on their show reviews over a plate of coq au vin and a glass of wine.
8 Rue Scribe, 75009 Paris
My annual pilgrimage to Paris always includes a visit to the Palais Garnier, not only to marvel at its architectural grandeur but also to enjoy the Paris Opera Ballet, one of my favourite ballet companies in the world.
Musée du Louvre
Musée du Louvre, 75058 Paris
No one should ever leave this city without wandering through the hallowed halls of the Musée du Louvre. Once, I spent a week with a private guide luxuriating in the works of the grand Italian masters including Jacques-Louis David’s famed The Coronation of Napoleon painting commissioned by the emperor himself. It never ceases to amaze me how one can overlook all the grand paintings in this gargantuan museum and just crowd around the Mona Lisa. I suppose it’s because it is one of the last surviving paintings of Leonardo Da Vinci.
Rue des Rosiers
One of the things to do in Paris is to shop. Of course, there are all the famed big brands along Rue du Faubourg, Rue Saint-Honoré and Avenue Montaigne. However, on Sundays, you’ll find me inelegantly devouring falafel along Rue des Rosiers and visiting quirky little boutiques for hidden treasure.
84 Rue de Varenne, 75007 Paris
Prepare to wear nothing but your chicest clothes with an elastic waistband to enjoy Paris’s haute cuisine. I’ve always enjoyed L’Arpège with its ever-changing and innovative menu. Chef Alain Passard can often be spotted rushing in and out of the kitchen, obliging to photos with patrons.
ON WEE: DRESS, BELT, HAT BOX, BOOTS,
BO DENTELLE EARRINGS IN WHITE GOLD WITH DIAMONDS, ARDENTES RING IN WHITE GOLD WITH DIAMONDS, THREE EMPRISE RINGS IN WHITE GOLD WITH DIAMONDS, and POLKA-DOT SCARF
ON DOG: MONOGRAMMED DOG COLLAR
Dr Adrian Ng and Dr Loh May-Han
Favourite City: Venice
Venice’s every building, waterway and street is a vision of beauty to Adrian Ng and Loh May-Han. “First-time visitors to the city should do the touristy stuff. It is a rite of passage to sail down the Grand Canal, take in the sights at Piazza San Marco and saunter across the Rialto Bridge in its full tourist setup and glory,” says Ng who last visited the city in late 2009 with his wife. He jests: “Much has been said about the sinking of Venice. Visit her before she goes under!”
Piazza San Marco 57, 30124 Venezia
Ng: We love this cafe because having been established in 1720, it is the oldest cafe in Europe and has a commanding view of Piazza San Marco. Pay a small premium to observe the hustle and bustle of the square. With the Campanile di San Marco towering over the square and the ancient bronze winged Lion of Venice standing guard over the historic piazza, one can imagine being magically transported back in time to witness the height of European naval power.
Basilica di San Marco
San Marco 328, 30124 Venezia
Loh: We were captivated by the Basilica for its history, as the remains of Saint Mark is found within. Nicknamed Church of Gold, it is a splendid example of Byzantine-influenced architecture. The intricate details and beauty of the interior will captivate you. As photo mementos are not allowed, take time to slowly appreciate the space. Climb up the stairs and look over the piazza to see beyond the hordes of tourists that threaten to overrun the place. Do cover knees and shoulders as a mark of respect as it is sacred grounds.
The Footsteps of Ernest Hemingway
Begin at Hotel Gritti Palace
Campo Santa Maria del Giglio 2467,
Ng: Ernest Hemingway considered The Gritti Palace his home in Venice, a city he idealised in Across the River and into the Trees. The round journey will take you past Harry’s Bar, where he had a favoured berth; Palazzo Ivancich, the family home of his muse Contessa Adriana Ivancich; and Rialto Mercato. For an abridged version of the walk, start off at Ponte di Rialto to cut through the neighbourhoods of San Polo, Santa Croce and Dorsoduro. Weave through the Maze of Calle from Rialto Mercato down to Scuola Grande di San Rocco then onto Gallerie dell’Accademia.
San Polo, Campo de la, 30125 Venezia
Loh: There are many famous fish markets around the world and we’d say that the Venetian version is one of the top few. The market showcases a brilliant myriad of colours from the food and vegetables on sale there. There is also freshly caught seafood from the lagoon and seasonal produce on display. We love to visit markets and supermarkets whenever we travel to see how the locals live.
ON LOH: BLOUSE, SKIRT, CAPUCINES BB BAG, ARDENTES EARRINGS IN WHITE GOLD WITH DIAMONDS, ARDENTES RING IN WHITE GOLD WITH DIAMONDS, and TAMBOUR BIJOU SECRET WATCH IN WHITE GOLD AND MOTHER-OF-PEARL WITH DIAMONDS
ON NG: JACKET, T-SHIRT, TROUSERS, TAMBOUR SPRING TIME WATCH IN WHITE GOLD, and UMBRELLA
Favourite City: Rio de Janeiro
Even though her first visit to Rio de Janeiro was when she was just 20, Kelly Sia remembers all the intoxicating sights and sounds like it was just yesterday. “The people love to celebrate life and it is easy to make friends there,” she says. Finding it hard to say goodbye to the city, she made her first return trip a year later.
Venues around the city
I attended the carnival during my second visit and the experience is out of this world. You can only truly comprehend it by being there. I was lucky enough to have made friends with a local girl who got me into the world-famous Beija-Flor samba school to be trained to perform at the parade. You must try to time your visit with the carnival.
Tijuca National Park
Here you will find the Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer) statue and is a must-visit as it is the city’s icon. When you get up the mountain, you will be able to take in the picturesque views of the city of Rio de Janeiro and Sugarloaf Mountain as well as the Copacabana and Ipanema beaches.
Belmond Copacabana Palace
Avenida Atlântica 1702,
Located by the beach, this hotel allows you to easily enjoy the Rio de Janeiro beach culture. The view is gorgeous. The hotel is also close to the other popular beach Ipanema, a great place to go shopping for bikinis. When in Rio, you have to get some. Check out Bumbum, a chic home-grown swimwear store.
DRESS, SEQUINNED PETITE MALLE BAG, SANDALS, V NECKLACE IN GOLD, TAMBOUR MONOGRAM INFINI WATCH IN PINK GOLD, and EMPRISE FINE STONES RING IN GOLD
Favourite City: New York City
New York City is where Paige Parker lived for more than a decade and also where her husband Jim Rogers proposed to her right after he finished the 1998 NYC Marathon. “Living and working in New York was a fabulous chapter in my life. Now returning to the city as a visitor, I still feel renewed and recharged after every visit,” she says.
25 East 77th Street, NY 10075
I’d recommend The Mark as it’s posh without being pretentious. Located less than one block from Central Park, it’s close by for those who enjoy a good run outdoors. If not, the hotel’s modern gym is well-equipped for your use. I don’t often have room service, but there’s something exceptional when it comes from the hotel’s in-house restaurant by Jean-Georges Vongerichten.
155 West 51st Street, NY 10019
This is one of the best restaurants for dinner. They have been around for almost 30 years and boast three Michelin stars, the finest service and the most handsome waiters. They offer top wines that are recommended by wine master Aldo Sohm who was once a winner of the World’s Best Sommelier competition. Le Bernadin is a restaurant that even New Yorkers covet and because it’s not on the latest and greatest lists, tourists do not flock here. For dinner, I’d likely order caviar and dover sole, washed down with some Bâtard-Montrachet. I’d conclude the meal with a matcha dessert — a yummy green tea custard with jasmine ice-cream.
1000 Madison Avenue, NY 10075
Make time for lunch or a glass of vino at Sant Ambroeus on Madison. If you are lucky, or if you slip the maitre d’ a little love, then you may snag a table out front where you’ll hear the latest gossip or witness a multibillion-dollar merger formation. And dress for this one, since only the most beautiful people hang out at Sant Ambroeus.
Metropolitan Museum of Art
1000 Fifth Avenue, NY 10028
One must visit this museum — its permanent collection is outstanding and its visiting exhibits draw large crowds. Anna Wintour’s love of The Costume Institute has brought extraordinary fashion collections there over the last few years. Buy an international membership with the museum and have brunch in the private Members Dining Room.
Metropolitan Opera House
30 Lincoln Center Plaza, NY 10023
Lincoln Center Theater
150 West 65th Street, NY 10023
Depending on the season, I’d recommend either an American Ballet Theatre performance at the Metropolitan Opera House, a New York City Ballet performance or a New York Philharmonic concert at Lincoln Center Theater. My first date with Jim in NYC was to the ballet at Lincoln Center. After which, we walked home and made a stop at Gray’s Papaya (72nd and Broadway) for a hot dog — this is a must in NYC as it is the best hot dog ever.
COAT, SEQUINNED PETITE MALLE CLUTCH, ARDENTES DISC NECKLACE IN WHITE GOLD WITH DIAMONDS, and ROCK SAPHIR ROSE RING IN WHITE GOLD WITH DIAMONDS
Elaine Lim-Chan and Dr Chan Kok Weng
Favourite City: Milan
Italy will always hold a special place in the hearts of Elaine Lim-Chan and Chan Kok Weng. They did after all, spend five weeks in the country during their honeymoon in 1999. In particular, they fell in love with the city of Milan, which they have returned to visit once every year in the following decade.
Santa Maria delle Grazie
Piazza di Santa Maria delle Grazie, 20123 Milano
Lim-Chan: This Unesco World Heritage site houses one of the world’s most famous paintings, Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece — The Last Supper. To us, this is a must-see, at least once in your lifetime. Due to its overwhelming popularity, sadly, you only get to appreciate it for a mere 15 minutes, so make the most of it.
Teatro alla Scala (La Scala)
Via Filodrammatici, 2, 20121 Milano
Chan: You enter into this plain, unembellished building to discover a beautiful and magnificent opera house that has played host to some of the greatest opera artists and singers from around the world. The theatre is dressed in red and gold, has a spectacular stage and its crystal chandelier simply takes your breath away. We watched Giuseppe Verdi’s Aida and the acoustics were amazing.
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
Piazza del Duomo, 20123 Milano
Chan: This is a stunning shopping mall that showcases fine architecture of blue glass-vaulted ceilings and mosaic flooring. In the centre of the shopping dome is a prancing bull made of tiles. Each time we’re there, Elaine would do a little spin over the bull as tradition. She says it brings good luck.
Four Seasons Hotel Milan
Via Gesù, 6/8, 20121 Milano
Lim-Chan: This luxurious and modern hotel was once a 15th-century convent and has a beautiful garden. They boast an impeccable level of service and pay attention to the smallest of details. We love its restaurant Il Teatro that serves traditional Milanese cuisine using only fresh local produce. You must also check out the hotel’s annual Chocolate Room, where a display of all sorts of chocolate awaits.
ON CHAN: JACKET, SHIRT, TROUSERS, SCARF, SNEAKERS, and LIMITED EDITION ESCALE WORLDTIME WATCH IN WHITE GOLD
ON LIM-CHAN: JACKET, DRESS, LOUISE BAG, POINTY PUMPS, FOREVER EARRINGS IN WHITE GOLD WITH DIAMONDS, TAMBOUR SPIN TIME GALAXIE WATCH IN 18K WHITE GOLD WITH WHITE AND BLACK DIAMONDS, and YOU & ME RING IN WHITE GOLD WITH DIAMONDS
Favourite City: Tokyo
Susanna Han first visited Tokyo 22 years ago at the invitation of Japanese architect Kenzo Tange and remembers being filled with excitement from the very get go. “As I began to discover Tokyo, I noticed that the city stays true to its deep-rooted culture and traditions, and yet showcases elements of modernity,” says the fashion chameleon. Han and her family love the city so much that they visit at least six times a year for both extended holidays and quick visits.
Grand Hyatt Tokyo
6-10-3 Roppongi, Minato-ku
I like to stay at the Grand Hyatt located in the heart of the gleaming Roppongi Hills complex. The hotel has excellent restaurants such as Shunbou, Keyakizaka and Roku Roku. And if you spend some time at its Maduro Bar, you might spot some celebrities.
3-6-34 Moto-Azabu, Minato-ku
We make it a point to visit Kanda whenever we are in Tokyo. The three-Michelin-starred restaurant never fails to delight with creations made from seasonal produce and unexpected ingredients. The best dish I’ve had there was steamed rice topped with tiny Japanese shrimps, mushrooms and truffle.
2-6-15 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku
If you are in search of a sensational dining experience, then this is the place to go. But note you’ll have to make bookings well in advance. On one visit, we got to watch how yuzu bread is made. The flour was mixed at our table before the yeast was allowed to ferment and the dough taken into the kitchen to be baked for us. What I also enjoy at this restaurant is its sake, champagne and wine-pairing recommendations that go with the degustation menus.
Tsukiji Fish Market
5-2-1 Tsukiji, Chuo-ku
The atmosphere here is vibrant and first-time visitors should try to fit this busy fish market into their itinerary. But the market gets really crowded so try to get there by 4am. You’ll be able to witness dozens of sellers dealing with fresh and live seafood. It is a unique experience.
JACKET, SKIRT, DORA BAG, TRUNK MARRON SCARF, ARDENTES EARRINGS IN WHITE GOLD WITH DIAMONDS, ROCK SAPHIR ROSE RING IN WHITE GOLD WITH DIAMONDS, and TAMBOUR MONOGRAM SHINE WATCH IN WHITE GOLD WITH DIAMONDS
BOOTIES, HAN’S OWN
Favourite City: Hong Kong
Stephanie Lee loves Hong Kong for how traditional and modern elements coexist seamlessly. “It is a place where humble food stalls compete with gourmet restaurants on fair grounds; where buildings are designed by famous Western architects while adhering to the rules of feng shui and where clothing markets can still hold their own against sprawling malls,” she says. Apart from these endearing qualities, Lee also loves Hong Kong as a number of her close relatives and friends reside there. “It makes the visit more worthwhile,” she adds.
The Upper House
Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Admiralty
Designed by renowned architect and designer Andre Fu, this boutique hotel is sleek and boasts amazing views of Victoria Harbour. Its accessibility to Pacific Place downstairs and other mega malls nearby allow for some serious shopping and guests can later unwind over cocktails at the hotel’s chic Café Gray Deluxe on the 49th floor where service is very efficient.
Sai Kung Peninsula
Sai Kung, New Territories
Even though Hong Kong gives an impression of being a concrete jungle, 70 percent of Hong Kong is actually countryside. Sai Kung Peninsula in the New Territories is an ideal way to appreciate some breathtaking scenery. My first time here was in the rain. Despite that, I found that Sai Kung, with its eclectic waterfront, to be charming. It also has a large number of seafood restaurants and bars.
Lung King Heen
8 Finance St, Central
Eight years ago, I was hosted here by the owners of Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong for dinner. It is the first Cantonese restaurant in the world that serves traditional Cantonese specialities to be awarded three Michelin stars. Despite this accolade, the ambience does not feel pretentious. The quality of the dishes are good and I appreciate that they have just enough creativity to stand out and yet not deviate too much from the original.
Times Square, 1 Matheson St,
This was my grandfather’s favourite place to shop and I used to accompany him there whenever we travelled to Hong Kong together. Lane Crawford is Hong Kong’s oldest department store and is one of the most respected. It carries a large number of the world’s most sought after designer labels and the selection it carries for both men and women is amazing. It helps that shopping in Hong Kong excludes sales tax.
COAT, TOP, SKIRT, SUNGLASSES, and TAMBOUR MONOGRAM TIMEZONE WATCH IN PINK GOLD
Dana and Darren Cheong
Favourite City: Istanbul
Dana Cheong has been to Istanbul six times in the past four years — once with her husband Darren Cheong and the rest of the times either with her kids Beatrice and Brandon, or on her own. To ensure an enjoyable experience, it is worth sourcing for a good guide, she says. “We were once fortunate to have one of Istanbul’s top guides take us around. The way he regaled us made the history sound interesting, which made all the difference in how my family and I enjoyed the city,” she says.
Sultan Ahmed Mosque (The Blue Mosque)
At Meydani No. 7, Fatih, 34122
Dana: Each time I am in Istanbul, I visit the Blue Mosque as I find that it gives me a sense of calm. It is a historical venue that witnessed the coexistence of two of the world’s major religions, Islam and Christianity. The architecture showcases the influences of both religions and its beauty is something you must witness for yourself.
Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at the Bosphorus
Kuloğlu Mh., Çırağan Cd. No. 28, Bosphorus, 34349
Dana: This hotel offers spectacular views of the Bosphorus, the straits that connects the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara. Its location makes it a good base for you to explore the area. Compared to neighbouring hotels, the Four Seasons is quieter, something I appreciate after a long day of sightseeing. When staying there, do go for walks by the water.
The Park Hyatt Istanbul Macka Palas
Tesvikiye, Bronz Sokak No. 4 Sisli, 34367
Darren: This is another hotel that we love. The rooms here have such large bathrooms that they can be transformed into Turkish hammams. You can enjoy this treatment in the comfort of your own room.
Sevan Bıçakçı Grand Bazaar
Molla Fenari Mah. Gazi Sinanpaşa Sk.
No:16 Eminönü 34440
Dana: Sevan Bıçakçı is an outstanding and unique jeweller. His works reflect the Turkish culture and his love for his country. Most of his works feature precious stones that feature internal carvings. The technique he employs is impeccable. When I was there, I made an interesting purchase — a bangle that featured a rose gold string intricately woven around it with diamonds. He told me an Arabian princess had just bought one like it.
The Grand Bazaar
Darren: It is [one of] the biggest bazaars in the world and is said to have more than 3,000 shops that sell all sorts of wares and souvenirs. We like to visit their home-grown label called Koç that specialises in leather and fur jackets.
ON DARREN: JACKET, T-SHIRT, TROUSERS, DAMIER KEEPALL BAG, MONOGRAM SNEAKERS, and LIMITED EDITION ESCALE WORLDTIME WATCH IN WHITE GOLD
ON DANA: TUNIC, PETITE MALLE CLUTCH, THIGH-HIGH WEDGE BOOTS, MULTI-TIER CHAIN NECKLACE IN GOLD, LONG V NECKLACE IN GOLD, and TAMBOUR SPIN TIME WATCH IN WHITE GOLD WITH BLACK DIAMONDS AND WHITE DIAMONDS