Well I’m finally back home after the most extensive travel year of my life. When all was said and done in 2013, I logged over 200,000 miles in the air, spent 175 nights sleeping in hotel beds somewhere around the world, and ate meals at more than 250 different restaurants. My travels took me to 48 cities in 19 different countries, many of them more than once.
I thought it was high time I started writing an annual travel blog for my website to highlight the best of everything I experienced, so you can have a few points of reference if you ever happen to find yourself in any of the cities I have traveled to.
The lists here only account for the places I actually set foot in during 2013. A much more extensive (lifetime) list will be forthcoming shortly on MarcAccetta.com section, Marc Recommends.
The items in each category are not listed in any particular order. I have commented on each one so you have some insight as to why I have put it on the list.
American Airlines is FINALLY getting new planes. Their new planes are fantastic. I flew over 200,000 miles with them in 2013 so I am very grateful for their upgrades! I am very blessed to fly business or first class on all my flights, so any airline is very good in that class of service. American is definitely very good, but it is not the best. Of all the airlines I flew this year, Emirates blows all the others away as far as service, pampering and atmosphere!
Excellent. Great service and very comfortable conditions.
Always a pleasure to fly them. Their lounge at London’s Heathrow is like my second home! Their service throughout Europe is very reliable and comfortable.
Hands down the very best. Best service….biggest screens…Best entertainment…..Great food and by far the best wine!
I was stunned that the seat did not go totally flat in business class though on the 16 hour flight from Dubai to Dallas. With everything else they do to elevate their planes, that was actually shocking….but it was still the best!
Richard Branson has THE best airport lounge on earth at London’s Heathrow Airport first class lounge. You can have a great shave or a haircut, a full massage and eat in their excellent restaurant.
Their flights have walk up bars in business class and very comfortable seats. The food and such are very good, but not on a par with Emirates.
Metropole in MONTE CARLO
Probably one of the 2-3 most beautiful hotels I have ever stayed at! Incredible restaurants and impeccable service!
Le Grande in PARIS
Luxurious older hotel that is rich with history. Great location and fantastic service.
Hotel De La Villa in ROME
Located at the top of the famous Spanish Steps right in the heart of Rome. Amazing view from their rooftop restaurant/bar.
Ca Maria Adele in VENICE
Quaint boutique hotel we stumbled across many years ago. The service is way over the top. Only about 12-15 rooms in the whole place. Gorgeous decor and ambiance.
Marina Bay Sands in SINGAPORE
Gorgeous, Las Vegas style hotel and casino that has one of the most famous, mind blowing pools in the world. It’s on the rooftop about 57 floors up, has a negative edge, and is about the length of two football fields! It has real palm trees and a view of the city that has to be seen to be believed! The Ku DeTa restaurant and club are on the roof too.
Ritz Carlton in MAUI
One of my all time favorites! Gorgeous grounds. They play the first PGA tour event their every year. Spectacular course! Great restaurants and pool, and a gorgeous private beach too. My favorite are the outdoor tennis courts and basketball court!
Hyatt in MAUI
This was the first place I ever stayed in Hawaii and it’s as magical today as it was almost 30 years ago! Gorgeous grounds dotted with flamingos and other exotic wildlife. The Swan Court restaurant has live swans that swim right by you as you take in an incredible Hawaiian view and eat a delicious breakfast. It also has a spectacular pool and slide!
Westin Excelsior in FLORENCE
Elegant older hotel in a great location of Florence. Right across from the equally remarkable St Regis. The WESTIN has a very popular rooftop bar and is my favorite spot in Florence.
Hotel Za Za in DALLAS
Very exotic chic boutique hotel in downtown Dallas. Very romantic and a hot spot for Dallas “in crowd” at night. They have gorgeous themed suites too. Our favorite is the Moulin Rouge Suite!
DaVinci Hotel in JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA
Very classy hotel in the Sandton business district. It is right on Mandela square which is the place to be in Johannesburg. Excellent restaurants and wonderful service…..and very secure (which is important in JoBurg)
Grecian Park in AYIA NAPA, CYPRUS
I love this place! It is outside the main business areas of Cyprus. It is close to the famous Nissi Beach where they have some of the wildest parties a beach has ever known. The best part of the hotel is the Cliff Bar that overlooks the water and has breathtaking views!
Four Seasons in LIMASSOL, CYPRUS
This is not part of the Four Season hotel chain, but it is still fantastic. The best hotel in Cyprus by far in my opinion. Great food and immaculate service
Marival Residences in NUEVO VALLARTA, MEXICO
This is, by far, my favorite place in Mexico. The residences are like a Trump style condo! The food is excellent. Great private beach and awesome rooftop pool and bar.
Indigo Pearl in PHUKET, THAILAND
Very exotic hotel. Gorgeous decor. 4-5 beautiful pools that spread throughout the property. Excellent restaurants and big spacious rooms. Our suite had dual massage tables in the room! A short 5 minute walk brings you to the local beach where the food is fantastic and 30% of what you pay at the hotel. The town also offers great massages for about $10!
Okura in BANGKOK, THAILAND
This is a very high end, brand hew hotel. The Okura is a Japanese chain that is renowned for its world class cuisine. They also have the full on, Japanese bathrooms with heated toilet seats and several other amenities. It’s worth staying there just for the bathrooms. I’m just sayin’!
Royal Myconian in MYKONOS, GREECE
One of the most gorgeous hotels in all of the Greek islands. Great pool and great views of the Mediterranean. Beautiful grounds and large rooms.
JW Marriott in WASHINGTON, D.C.
Beautiful hotel in the center of DC. Great restaurants and bars in the hotel. Great rooms and great service.
Gorgeous design! The Omni is the newest and hottest hotel in downtown Dallas. Remarkable ambiance throughout the whole property.
Marriott Marquis in NEW YORK CITY
This is the perfect hotel for a New Year’s Eve experience in the big apple. You can go to the hotel party for $3000 a person (not my choice) that is on the 8th floor and overlooks Times Square for a perfect view of everything…..or you can just go out to the area for hotel guests anytime you want (we chose 11:30pm) to listen to the music live, and wait for everyone to count down New Years. You can scream and shout with everyone, and then 3 minutes after the ball drops, you can move right into the center of it all, with great songs still blaring and confetti flying everywhere, and enjoy the full New Years experience for about 30-45 minutes. Then you will be cold and want to go right back in the beautiful hotel!
FAVORITE AIRPORT HOTELS
Marriott in HONK KONG
Insanely good lounge with remarkable food. One of the best breakfasts I have ever experienced and just a short train ride from downtown.
Radisson in OSLO, NORWAY
Beautiful hotel with a great restaurant and it’s right in the terminal so it’s super convenient.
Marriott at LONDON HEATHROW AIRPORT
One of my homes away from home. Excellent Italian restaurant and overall great property!
Novotel in BANGKOK, THAILAND
Unusually opulent hotel for an airport. Huge rooms and it’s right in the terminal. It rated as one of the top 5 airport hotels in the world.
Park Lane Sheraton in LONDON
Old, ugly, and WAY…. overpriced and VERY bad service
Le Jules Verne in PARIS, FRANCE
This is on the highest floor of The Eiffel Tower you can dine at. (The one on the slightly lower floor is a very average buffet) Le Jules Verne has excellent gourmet food. Excellent service. Very expensive, but well worth the surreal experience. Make reservations 6 months in advance.
Joël Robuchon in MONTE CARLO
Outstanding 2 star Michelin restaurant created by the celebrity chef the restaurant is named after. The bread cart alone is to die for….and the warm foie gras is unmatched! Very expensive but amazing!
La Giostra in FLORENCE, ITALY
The BEST dining experience of 2013…..and that’s a mouthful (pardon the pun). The chef who is Italian royalty and cooks every night because he loves to cook, ordered for us, and we were not disappointed. The pasta with white truffles must have been cooked in heaven. We also discovered a new favorite Italian wine…..a Cabernet Franc, Paleo. It was so great, we drank 4 bottles with dinner (4 of us) and then went to the vineyard a few days later and ordered a case to be sent back home.
Osteria Enoteca San Marco in VENICE, ITALY
Great local restaurant. Not too many tourists. Excellent service. Italians say Florence has the best restaurants in Italy, and this is a great reason why! And they have Paleo too!
Harry’s Bar in ROME, FLORENCE & VENICE
Classic restaurants that originated from Harry Cipriani in NYC. They are all great. The Venice one is owned and operated by the original owner in NY….the others are run by the wife’s family, but also excellent! As a matter of fact, the club sandwich in the Florence location is THE best club sandwich on earth!
Harry Cipriani in NEW YORK CITY
Momma Mia….We ALWAYS go there when we are in NYC. located by Central Park and the Plaza Hotel. The tagliardi with veal ragu is my favorite, but everything on the menu is amazing!
Il Tinello in NEW YORK CITY
Great Italian food. The table side Caesar is one of the best I have ever had. Their table side antipasto is also remarkable. No matter what you order, you will love it!
Raco De La Villa in BARCELONA, SPAIN
We found this gem thanks to our hotel concierge. The bread is TO DIE FOR! It comes with a garlic spread that is from another planet!
The prosciutto platter is a MUST! Better than any you have ever had!
Chamberlains Steakhouse in DALLAS, TEXAS
My favorite steakhouse in Dallas. There are so many great ones, that I may get many sound arguments to the contrary, but I love it. I normally have their NY strip and the truffle cheese grits are a must!
Sparks Steak house in NEW YORK CITY
Incredible ambiance. One of the best I have ever experienced. Great service. Absolutely HUGE steaks and portion sizes. The streaks are all great and the lamb chops are fantastic! Great wine list too!
…..and yes, this is the place that John Gotti’s crew gunned down Paul Castellano in the street!
The 21 Club in NEW YORK CITY
One of our favorites. Old school elegance. Incredible service! The most extensive, extraordinary wine list I have ever seen. The ultimate power brokers hang out in NYC. Suit and tie required.
CUT in SINGAPORE @ MARINA BAY SANDS HOTEL
Wolfgang Pucks steakhouse is excellent. You can get great US beef, or wagu raised in Idaho, or even wagu grade 6 or higher from Japan. Very expensive but the wagu beef is absolutely incredible! Worth every penny, and it’s A LOT of them!
Sushi Samba in LAS VEGAS at PALAZZO HOTEL
Fantastic sushi and sashimi dishes. Head and shoulders above most restaurants of its kind. Expensive, but excellent.
Sushi of Gari 46 in NEW YORK CITY
Great sushi. One of the best in the city. Japanese owned and operated. Not cheap, but the sushi is fresh and delicious, and the chefs are very creative.
Nick and Sam’s in DALLAS, TEXAS
A great steakhouse in Dallas…..and it also has many other great food choices as well. Their warm foie gras is the best in Dallas. Great ambiance….always packed and a great bar scene too!
Bones in ATLANTA
One of my favorite steakhouse in the world. Incredible NY Strips and Filets….excellent bones salad, and cheesecake directly from NYC. Great service and ambiance too. The total package.
Antinoo’s in VENICE, ITALY
Very elegant restaurant in a gorgeous hotel right on the water. Incredible gourmet food and incredible view and service.
La Terrazza in VENICE, ITALY
Gorgeous restaurant with great ambiance. Had remarkable salted sea bass there.
Dionysos in ATHENS, GREECE
Gorgeous decor that must be seen to be described properly. Great view of the Parthenon and the Acropolis. Excellent Greek food and wonderful ambiance. Very romantic at night.
Il Tiatro Restaurant & Pizzaria in FLORENCE, ITALY
One of our favorite. Great local food and fun festive attitude. Wonderful friendly service too.
Orsay in NEW YORK CITY
Excellent. French restaurant in NY. Great ambiance and service. We had our 10 year anniversary dinner there. Very romantic!
Butcher Shop in JOHANNESBURG
This is an excellent steak house on Mandela square in Sandton. You can get great ostrich steak or incredible oxtail stew in addition to all the traditional steak options.
Carnegie Deli in NEW YORK CITY
The classic famous NY deli with sandwiches that are way too big for any one person to eat. Melt in your mouth brisket, corned beef, pastrami, etc. very small and crowded. A true New York experience. No reservations allowed. You will usually wait, but it’s worth it!
Cask and Flagon in BOSTON
The ultimate sports bar right in the shadow of Fenway Field. I had my first. Blueberry Beer there! (Which was amazing) My buddy had a brisket and Mac and cheese sandwich! VERY delicious food….. NOT ideal for those on a diet!
Moe’s Original in TUSCALOOSA, ALABAMA
As my daughter gets to know this quaint small town so well, this is our favorite BBQ place so far. The food is rich and delicious, but the portions are not huge so you can justify the calories if you are watching your figure but still enjoy great food.
Fiore in BOSTON
Very good Italian restaurant in north part of the city. One of the guys who has worked at Fenway for 25 years recommended if and we were happy he did!
Maguires in DALLAS, TEXAS
My standby. We are there 2-3 times a week when I am in Dallas. Great continental menu. Excellent service. Mark MaGuire, the owner, is almost always there mingling with the regulars. I would go there just for their signature iced tea!
Brasserie Ruhlmann in NEW YORK CITY
Great French bistro right across from the skating rink at Rockefeller Center. We love to get a table outside and people watch as we enjoy a bottle of Bordeaux and some great light food.
Payard Bistro in LAS VEGAS at CEASAR’S PALACE HOTEL
Excellent for breakfast. Fantastic quiche, pancakes, omelette, etc. Very cool ambiance and very colorful decor.
This is a private car service that anyone can get. Just download their app. You just request a car, in any city they service around the world, and they send a car in minutes!
And, it’s priced more like a taxi than a limo!
HEATHROW EXPRESS IN LONDON
If you are headed to downtown London from HEATHROW airport, a taxi will be close to £100 or $160 and take over an hour. The train is much cheaper and much faster! You can get tickets anywhere in your arrival terminal.
LONDON SUBWAY “TUBE”
One of the best subway systems in the world. Very safe and very user friendly for tourists.