The Notebook

At Rocco Forte Hotels

Follow The Notebook to stay up to date with the latest news and happenings in our hotels and destinations across the globe.

An Alternative Guide to Christmas in London
The festive period is one of the best times of the year to visit London. Colourful decorations light up the streets, the city explodes with exciting events and an infectious festive buzz fills the air right up until the New Year. With so many people heading to the capital to enjoy a holiday break or do some Christmas shopping, London can get extremely busy. Avoid the crowds and discover a different side to the capital with this alternative guide to Christmas in London.
London
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Discover Rome with Pablo Picasso and Hotel de Russie
Brilliant, original, and revolutionary, Pablo Picasso is widely considered one of the most influential artists of all time. Revered for his boundary-pushing and often surrealist artworks, the Spanish artist left an impression everywhere he visited. During a sabbatical in Rome in 1917, however, the tables turned as career and love became intertwined and his life was changed forever. As Hotel de Russie commemorates 100 years since Picasso’s visit with special anniversary celebrations, we look back at his time in the Eternal City and discover how art enthusiasts can experience Rome through his eyes.
Rome
A Book Lover’s Guide to Edinburgh
Edinburgh has been a muse to many of Britain’s greatest writers. With beautiful vistas, historic buildings and a rich, engrained culture, it’s easy to see why. From celebrated poet Robert Burns to ‘Harry Potter’ author JK Rowling (whose screenwriting debut ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ enters cinemas this month), the city has provided writers with the inspiration needed to produce great works of literature for many decades. If you’re a book lover, follow this literary guide to Edinburgh and explore the places that have influenced, or appeared in, many famous novels and poems.
Edinburgh
Six of the Best Food Markets in Brussels
Healthy eating and fresh, local cuisine have become increasingly important to discerning travellers. With this in mind, Maestro Fulvio Pierangelini, Creative Director of Food for Rocco Forte Hotels, has partnered with best-selling Belgian author and ceramist Pascale Naessens to launch a delicious new healthy menu at Bar Amigo as part of the Rocco Forte Nourish programme.
Brussels
Six Festive Christmas Markets in Berlin
Germany’s annual Christmas markets are unrivalled. Nostalgic, entertaining and colourful in every sense of the word, they are excellent places to indulge in some last minute Christmas shopping, or to fill up on traditional German treats. Open from late November through to late December, Berlin has an excellent array of festive markets to explore. If you’re planning a trip this winter, follow this guide to the best Christmas markets in Berlin.
Berlin
An Essential Guide to the Munich Art Scene
For many travellers, Munich is synonymous with beer, Bavarian food and castles, but among its historic buildings and lively beer halls there’s a burgeoning art world to discover. Put down the beer stein and head into the city’s best art institutes to uncover a creative industry that’s sure to intrigue and inspire. From historical collections at leading museums to modern works at the city's best contemporary art galleries, follow this essential guide to the Munich art scene. Located right in the museum quarter, The Charles Hotel is the perfect location to start your tour.
Munich
The Best Places to Shop for Antiques in Brussels
When thinking of Brussels, chocolate often springs to mind, but another local industry garnering worldwide attention is that of antiques dealing. Whether looking to spruce up your home with unique furnishings or surprise a loved one with a thoughtful gift, antiques make wonderful purchases. There’s no shortage of places to shop for ancient treasures and antiques in Brussels. As Christmas approaches, Olga Polizzi, Deputy Chairman and Director of Design at Rocco Forte Hotels, and Hotel Amigo take us on a tour of the best antiques stores, dealers and markets to visit in Brussels.
Brussels
Five of the Most Delicious Trattorias in Florence
Italy is a food connoisseur’s nirvana, and Florence, home of the Tuscan trattoria, is one of its key culinary hubs. From intimate family-run restaurants to cosy local favourites and bustling eateries on historic piazzas, follow this guide to the best trattorias in Florence.
Florence
Where to Find the Best Russian Vodka in St Petersburg
The Germans cherish beer, the French love wine and the Scottish savour whisky, but in Russia, the national drink of choice is, undoubtedly, vodka. St Petersburg has enjoyed a long love affair with spirit, whose name is thought to stem from the Russian word for water ‘voda’. Its origins are debated, with both Poland and Russia claiming to have invented it, however the first solid evidence of its production in Russia was by monks in Moscow in the early 1400s. Nowadays, there are hundreds of vodka producers across the country, creating everything from popular brands like Russian Standard, Beluga and Stoli to craft varieties. Discover where to sample Russia’s favourite spirit with this guide to the best Russian vodka in St Petersburg.
St Petersburg
Where to See Incredible Greek and Roman Ruins in Sicily
The island of Sicily at the toe of Italy’s boot has an incredible history. Over its lifetime, it has been governed by many great civilizations, from the Romans and the Greeks to the Byzantine empire. Each culture has left its mark in some way or another, the Greeks and Romans through striking architecture. Take a tour of these beautiful preserved ruins in Sicily to step back in time and discover the multicultural heritage of the island.
Sicily
The Art of Scottish Tartan Weaving
Tartan is Scotland's most famous fabric. Originally the cloth of Scottish warrior clans, tartan patterns tell tales of heritage and ancestry. The checked fabric is a recognised symbol of Scotland and has a long and storied history that stretches back many centuries. As The Balmoral unveils its new tartan uniform, designed in partnership with Kinloch Anderson, we take a look at the art of Scottish tartan making and discover the meaning behind hotel’s bespoke fabric.
Edinburgh
Italy Meets Germany in Dario Cammarata’s Frankfurt Kitchen
Bringing a taste of Sicily to Frankfurt, Dario Cammarata combines Italian emotion and authenticity with German precision and produce. As Executive Chef at Villa Kennedy, Dario crafts creative menus for Gusto restaurant, where he’s known for his distinctive and flavoursome dishes, such as his Ravioli Green Sauce. Since his arrival in the city, Dario has become an authority in the local culinary scene, both in and out of the kitchen. We sat down with Dario to talk about his Sicilian heritage, his unique cooking style and his top tips for culinary enthusiasts in Frankfurt.
Frankfurt
Six of the Most Romantic Gardens in Rome
With its crumbling ruins, historic bridges, pretty parks, and dimly lit trattorias, Rome is undoubtedly one of Europe’s most romantic cities. And when the sun is shining, how better to soak up the city’s amorous atmosphere than with a leisurely walk through one of its many beautiful gardens? From havens of tranquillity in the centre of the city to sprawling green spaces, here are six of the most beautiful gardens in Rome to explore on your next romantic break.
Rome
Six of the Best Annual Festivals in Berlin
Berlin is one of the most exciting cities in Europe when it comes to culture, nightlife and the arts, and true to its reputation, everything in the city is celebrated in style. The annual events calendar offers visitors plenty of opportunity to experience Berlin’s cultural diversity through a busy schedule of festivals dedicated to everything from classical music and jazz to film and dance. Plan your next trip around this selection of exciting annual festivals in Berlin, and you might find yourself making repeat visits.
Berlin
The Highest Towers in Florence for an Amazing View
While Florence is beautiful from the ground, it’s even more captivating with a bird’s eye view. From above, historical buildings tower above a sea of red roofs, stretching out towards the Tuscan countryside. Arguably the best views of the city can be found at the top of the many historic towers in Florence, so put on your walking shoes and climb up to the top for a fresh perspective of the city and surrounding region.
Florence
Five Incredible Bavarian Castles to visit on a Trip to Munich
Germany’s palaces are like something out of a fairy tale. Whether rising out of the forests or sprawling across luscious meadows, they’re architecturally impressive and breathtakingly beautiful. Drive a short distance out of Munich and you’ll find some of the finest Bavarian castles in the country, like Linderhof Palace and Neuschwanstein Castle, built by King Ludwig II. Take a day trip from the city to explore our pick of the most captivating castles in Bavaria.
Munich
Five Places to Discover Art in Edinburgh
Scotland may not be considered primarily for its arts, preferring to associate itself with things like whisky, haggis and golf, but in the capital there’s plenty of opportunity to indulge your inner artist. As performing arts festival The Edinburgh Festival Fringe takes over the city throughout August, we look at the busy theatres and quiet galleries pioneering the city’s burgeoning art scene. Join us as we explore the best places to find fine and contemporary art in Edinburgh.
Edinburgh
Recipe: Glorious Grouse
The Glorious 12th August marks the start of the Scottish grouse season. The Balmoral’s Number One Head Chef, Brian Grigor, has prepared a young grouse dish perfect for the occasion.
Edinburgh
Five Beautiful Parks in London for a Picnic
London is at its most beautiful when the sun is shining. The city buzzes as people make the most of the good weather and indulge in one of England’s greatest summer pastimes: a picnic. From deer-watching at Richmond Park to live theatre at Regent’s Park, there’s plenty to entertain while tucking into a feast at one of the many beautiful parks in London. When the sun comes out, follow this guide to the best green spaces to throw down your picnic blanket this summer.
London
Insider: The right kind of look by David Gandy
Insiders by Rocco Forte Hotels gives guests the unique opportunity to discover some of our cities’ best-kept secrets, as told by locals. Our guest editors range from world-famous actors and respected authors to the masterminds of a city’s cultural scene.
London
How to Travel Healthy with Madeleine Shaw
Maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle is one of the biggest challenges when travelling, as with new cuisines and unusual schedules comes the temptation to let good habits slip. Rocco Forte Hotels has joined forces with Madeleine Shaw, world-renowned trained nutritionist and author of Get The Glow, to tackle this issue and provide guests with guilt-free dining options. Using her years of experience and training, Madeleine has created Rocco Forte Hotels Nourish, a health-focused menu which is available at our restaurants and bars or in guests’ suites. As the new concept launches, we sit down with Madeleine to talk cuisine, philosophies and how travel healthy every time.
London Berlin Frankfurt
Recipe: Crostone with eggs, asparagus and black truffle
Crostone is a perfect example of Tuscan cuisine. Fresh, local and simple ingredients, it is delicious at any time of day especially with a glass of rich Tuscan wine.
Florence
A Guide to Frankfurt's Apple Wine and Where to Drink it
For Frankfurt locals, apple wine is as much a tradition as beer is for the Bavarians of Munich. Delicious, distinctive and surprisingly healthy, apfelwein (to use the German word) has been bringing ‘joie de vivre’ to the city for hundreds of years. Its roots stretch back to the 17th century when the beverage was not only a thirst quencher, but the saviour of the local wine industry. Here, we explore the craft of apple wine making, which is unique to the area.
Frankfurt
Five of the Best Art Galleries in Auguststrasse
Auguststrasse may only be half a mile long, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in artistic value. The micro-neighbourhood, nestled within Berlin’s Mitte district, is a burgeoning creative hub that is fast becoming the premier place to go to explore avant-garde contemporary art. Follow us into Auguststrasse and discover a captivating array of art galleries taking residence along the narrow street.
Berlin
Five Great Places to See Modern Art in Rome
As the former seat of the Roman Empire, Rome is one of the most historic cities in the world. But there’s more to this city than ancient culture and crumbling ruins. As the capital modernises, an air of change blows through the city, influencing everything from architecture and art to dining and leisure. The art scene, in particular, has welcomed a wealth of contemporary offerings, from internationally acclaimed museums like MAXXI to collective art hubs and creative spaces. On your next visit, make time to see these five great places for modern art in Rome.
Rome
On the Hunt for Truffles in Tuscany
Truffles are some of the most prized gourmet delicacies in the world. Difficult to find, expensive to purchase and impossible to cultivate, the fungus fruits are favoured by the world’s top chefs for their unique and powerful flavours. As truffle season approaches, take a trip to truffle hunting paradise Tuscany, where white and black truffles grow underground and take centre stage in local cuisine.
Florence
An Insider’s Guide to Mayfair Art Galleries
London’s West End is the artistic heart of the city. While Soho is synonymous with theatre, art is the lifeline of Mayfair. From iconic Cork Street to stylish Albermale Street, home to Brown’s Hotel, this prestigious district is filled with art galleries and showrooms displaying traditional and contemporary works. Whether you’re a collector, an artist, a gallery owner, or simply partial to some window shopping, follow this guide to the best Mayfair art galleries, and find out how to join exclusive tours hosted by Brown’s Hotel.
London
The Most Beautiful Art Nouveau Architecture in Brussels
Brussels is commonly considered the capital of Art Nouveau. A walk through the city centre offers a history lesson in architecture as beautifully preserved Art Nouveau buildings from the late 19th to early 20th centuries stand shoulder-to-shoulder with historical Gothic structures. Explore the incredible Art Nouveau buildings in Brussels and discover the works of Victor Horta, the Belgian patron of Art Nouveau, as well as the homes of notable talents such as Paul Cauchie and Paul Saintenoy.
Brussels
An Insider’s Guide to St Petersburg with Lidia Leontyeva
A trip to St Petersburg is a magical experience, especially during the snowy winter season. With so much history and culture on your doorstep, there’s an amazing amount to see and do, from live Russian ballet to tours of grand imperial palaces. The best way to see the city like a local is to get an insider’s guide to St Petersburg from a lifelong resident. Lidia Leontyeva, Director of Guest Relations at Hotel Astoria, takes us on a journey through her hometown, from the city’s most fascinating secret spots to the best of Russian hospitality.
St Petersburg
Behind the Scenes at Rocco Forte Hotels with Olga Polizzi
Finding a harmonious balance between comfort, character and creativity is an interior designer’s greatest challenge. Aiming to inspire and appease its guests, Rocco Forte Hotels puts a lot of thought into design to ensure that every element of every room is considered. Olga Polizzi, Deputy Chairman and Director of Design, keeps her finger firmly on the pulse of design trends while carefully considering the history and culture of the city where each hotel is based. Enjoy a behind the scenes glimpse of the design process as we speak to Olga about her passion for interiors and the stunning new suites.
Edinburgh London Brussels Berlin Frankfurt Munich Florence Rome Sicily St Petersburg

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