Hotel Accommodations

Are you ready for your annual vacation? Whats it gonna be this time, The Hilton or The Comfort Inn, or possibly a splash on The Ramada? All great at doing they’re thing. But there is something else. A boutique hotel.

Whats a boutique hotel? Think about the relaxed atmosphere at home, combined with artistically themed furnishings and decor. Mix that in with customer service to die for. Truck loads of must have conveniences; satellite tv, internet access and luxurious spa treatments, make for an appetizing retreat.

The building that houses the boutique may be styled on a particular era, like the 1920s or 40s. The building itself might even date back to the 20s or before it. Don’t forget though that all the latest in technology will be at your aid as well.

Some boutiques only have between 20 and 80 rooms. Booking early on the internet or via phone is recommended. You will be able to find some larger boutiques that have over 100 rooms. In these boutique hotels you will find swimming pools, restaurants and bars on site. Some provide free access to roof top terraces.

So, doesn’t sound much different than a chain hotel i hear you say. Well for a start your hotel will incorporate a period of history or its local surroundings and ingest them into the theme of the hotel. Local arts, crafts and furniture, will be cultivated from the local area into the hotel. The Anasazi Hotel in Santa Fe for example, displays local southwest region culture to decorate its home.

New Orleans boutiques, have designed their hotels around the 19th century era. This is fitting as most of them are housed in historic buildings. A hotel called The Hotel Union Square, located in San Francisco, bases its decor theme on the prohibition era.

That isn’t to say all boutiques base their theme on the local area. The Inn of Five Graces in Santa Fe bases its theme on the soutwest culture and mixes it with Asian culture. There are plenty of boutiues outside of the US, in cities as far away as Moscow and Singapore.

Some of the boutiques in beautiful places like Cannes and Istanbul, are in high demand. Make sure to plan ahead and check out availability well in advance if planning a trip abroad. Bear in mind you may not get your first choice booking, but some of the smaller boutiques also have a lot to offer.

So while the regular hotels offer a high standard of facilities and suites, boutique hotels are renowned for their high levels of hospitality. Couple this with some splendid design touches and amazing amenities, a boutique hotel will offer you a rich rewarding vacation experience.

All in all a stay at a boutique hotel if definitely worth paying the increased premium for. With top notch service, no end of luxuries, and even a bit of culture, who says a vacation has to be a blase experience.

An Expat Guide to Buying Furniture in a Foreign City

There are a lot of choices to buy furniture as an expat in Singapore. Apart from the usual modern furniture, you can buy ready-made or custom-made rattan and oriental furniture.

If you decide to buy Oriental furniture, be aware that their size and design may not be suitable once you are repatriated. A nice antique Chinese bed is not only difficult to transport but may look awkward in your living room at home in London, as nothing else will fit in! Besides, this furniture is made for use in a different climate and may shrink, expand and crack. Also, before shipping back your furniture you should have it fumigated!

Antiques and Reproductions

Before you start, you need to decide if you want to decorate your home, take back some memories or seriously collect specific items as an investment into the future. The term antique is used for a variety of items offered and you need to inform yourself first about the host and home countries’ regulations and custom requirements such as import and export restrictions on religious artifacts (e.g. Buddha statues).

– Educate yourself before you buy.

– Keep detailed receipts of each item, and take photos.

– Buy quality, not quantity.

– Envisage each item in your home country environment and be realistic about size, durability and looks.

– Insure expensive new purchases.

Custom-Made Furniture

To avoid confusion and disappointment, provide a sample or a photograph and specify your requirements in writing:

– Correct dimensions/measurements.

– Type of material to be used.

– Type of frame/material used.

– Type of finish and color.

– Type of foam to be used for padding and cushions.

– Springs to be used (box springs are recommended).

– Fabric of the cushion cover.

– Cording.

– Time of delivery.

– Price, incl. taxes and other costs involved.

– Deposits you made.

– Extra requirements like kiln-dried wood, fumigated etc.

– The support structure should be made of hardwood frames.

– Screws should be used instead of nails or staples.

– Cuts must be concealed.

– Wicker used should be evenly woven and have close fitting joints.

– Cushions should be made out of high-density foam.

Oriental Furniture

There are many different types depending on the country of origin, style or material used. Furniture made in India or Indonesia is often produced in small villages and come with a native touch rather than being in an immaculate condition, which is very exotic. Chinese furniture come in rosewood, camphor, lacquer, coromandel, teak, Elmwood and many other woods and may be antique, a reproduction or modern. Custom-made furniture should be seasoned or kiln-dried to avoid shrinking in a dry environment. To allow the wood to expand furniture should be produced with tongue-and groove- floating panels.

Teak Furniture

The Latin name for Teak is Tectona grandis, which is offered all over Southeast Asia. Teak is an extremely dense, coarse-grained hardwood, which is well known for its durability and resistance to water, the woodworm and many chemical agents. Today, there are teakwood plantations catering to the furniture industry.

When purchasing Teak furniture:

– Buy 100% solid teak. (Not Shorea wood or a combination of both woods.)

– Teak should be made from kiln dried and not green lumber.

– Teak should be plantation grown. Ask for certification.

– Thick pieces of wood used make the product solid and durable.

– Oil finishes will darken the products.

– Plain furniture lightens into a silver gray when left outdoors.

Oriental Carpets

– Before you buy any Turkish, Persian, Chinese, Pakistani, Indian or any other carpets check your own countries customs regulations as there may be restrictions on importing them back home.

– Join a class teaching you how to buy a genuine oriental carpet (sometimes offered by dealers.)

– Buy at a reputable dealer and insist on a certification with origin, description, price, date and place of purchase even when you pay cash and keep the receipts at a safe place.

– Try out your carpet at home before purchase and make yourself familiar with the return policy of the dealer.

– Before you bid at a carpet auction, learn the trade!

– Buy pads or rubberized mats (Ikea) together with your carpets to prevent slipping on marble, tile and wooden floors.

– Ask your dealer how to care for your carpet.

– Inquire about after-sales services like cleaning and repair.