I don’t just love to travel.

I live to travel.

The road to the international airport is my favorite road traveled.

It means I’m on my way to another great adventure.

For years I’ve traveled with Stephanie Johnson cosmetic bags

and I’ve written about them in magazines everywhere too.

Now I’m also addicted to Stephanie’s blog:

Stephanie Johnson Style Compass

a fabulous and stylish look 

into her exotic life of world travel,

where she stays, what she wears, where to shop and dine

and fun things to do.

Today I’m re-posting her insider guide to Hong Kong.

Never know when you’re going to need it…

Stephanie Johnson Style Compass: 

Destination Hong Kong

follow Stephanie Johnson on twitter @SJTraveler

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DESTINATION: HONG KONG!

I’ve
been to Hong Kong many times over the years and this last trip was full
of cultural surprises and new culinary adventures.  In keeping with my
theme of getting outside my comfort zone this year, I shook things up
and stayed in a new hotel in a different part of town and tried
everything new.

STAY

I’d gladly hop the 15 hour flight to return to The Upper House.  The place is perfection.  Of course, it didn’t hurt that they upgraded me upon arrival to a 1000+ square foot suite. (American Express platinum
card, y’all.  Get on it!)

From my arrival in a Lexus RH450 Hybrid with
full moon roof to view the Hong Kong skyline, to Wi-Fi so I could
FaceTime with my daughter, I was hooked.

Check-in was in the room where a large tote bag full of wrapped
presents waited for me (swear), and the minibar (or more rightly dubbed,
maxi bar) had free treats, sodas, beer and juices for my enjoyment.  A
huge glass jar of m&m’s, anyone?  And yes I said FREE.

The room was such a zen paradise that I’m not a skilled enough
wordsmith to do it justice.  I’ve never slept better and that’s a
statement considering the jet lag issue.

The Upper House is redefining the guest experience.  Rather than a
reception and concierge desk, their staff is knowledgeable on many
matters and is encouraged to walk the extra mile.  One staff number did
just that.  When I asked about a dinner spot he literally walked out
the front door (without telling anyone!) and escorted me down the bend,
across the road, to a neighborhood restaurant.  I can promise you will
feel at home here and likely won’t want to leave.  Flawless.

I’ve been to Hong Kong numerous times before and always stay at the Intercontinental
 on the Kowloon side.  The views of Victoria Harbor are worth the stay
alone and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss those 6am Tai Chi classes
by the pool.

EAT

The China Club has a dress code (love that) and some
devilishly good cuisine.  Cubed filet with fried garlic chips is a
house favorite and mine too.  Stay for the tea show in the main dining
room where a man ‘dances’ with his teapot while pouring tea, and watch
the chef toss dough sky-high and make noodles out of it . . . with his
fingers.

I love Hutong as much for its food as its traditional Beijing decor.  I’m a repeat offender, you will be too.

 For a more casual lunch try Zen for
dim sum in a mall atmosphere.  Or go local and eat the best dumplings
and noodles in the fabric market on the Kowloon side.  Sorry the name is
only printed in Chinese characters (=real deal!), but find it at 192
Tai Nan Street in the Sham Shui Po district.  Formerly housed under a
tarp on the street, this delicious noodle bar “got rich” and now has a
restaurant environment indoors . . . good for them, but I miss a stool
on the street!

I would go to Sevva for a rooftop drink before dinner and try Zuma for sushi prepared in an open kitchen setting.  After too many dumplings you may be craving something from home, so try Gaia for a green salad and a thin crust pizza.

After watching the light show from Kowloon and walking the Canton Road, I took the Star Ferry back to Central and popped into Inagiku for dinner at The Four Seasons Hotel. 
An instant favorite with Harbor views, and a tempura and tappanyaki
bar.  I learned how to eat tempura the Chinese way (with two varieties
of salt) and the Hong Kong way (with tempura dipping sauce).

DO

Do take local transport!  I loved the trolley, trams, Star Ferry and the MTR.   A great way to see the city and easy to use.

The trip highlight for me was the awesome sight of the Big Buddha on
Lantau Island and the gorgeous cable car ride to get there.  I only wish
I’d known that you can hike to the Buddha . . . the hiking trail winds
up green hills on wooden boardwalks, stairs and earth.  Make it a day
trip and hike the peak taking in the nature and views . . . a nice
respite from the city lights.

Take the junk out for a sail on Victoria Harbor and be sure to see
the light show from the Kowloon side at 8pm nightly.  Back in Central I
walked endlessly through the Soho and Lan Kwai Fun neighborhoods
enjoying the local market stands, down the Hollywood road and up
Pottinger Lane where I bought my daughter tiny bows for her hair.

I didn’t get to it this trip, but seeing Hong Kong from the Peak via
tram is a must.  Go at dusk when you can see all the lights.

After a long day be sure to check out FOOT (yes
that is really the name) on the Queen’s Road Central for an authentic
reflexology treatment.  A fun Hong Kong experience to have your feet
rubbed while lounging in a recliner in a dark room among a dozen other
people.  I went twice.

SHOP

I love the local markets, and Stanley Market
 is great for tourists wanting to stock up on silk pj’s, jade objects
and other Chinese trinkets.
 If you are a serious fashionista then by
all means hit Lane Crawford, Joyce and Harvey Nichols.
 All their holiday windows were gorgeous and rivaled Fifth Avenue back
home.  (Loved an entire gown complete with train made of red clothes
pins!)

follow Stephanie Johnson on twitter @SJTraveler

find her on facebook SJTraveler

her website is www.StephanieJohnson.com

and read her blog: Style Compass

One of the most fabulous things a fashionista can do while in Tuscany is find her way to the Prada Outlet in Montevarchi.

For some reason most people seem to think this is a difficult spot to find, and as such waste shoe dollars on paying for a tour or a town car to get them there.
I say save your Prada dollars, rent a car, and make a gorgeous day of it.

Afterall, Prada at 70% discount is still expensive. And driving in Italy is both fun and fast!

The Prada Outlet, although hidden and secretly named, is a jewel not to be missed. Apparently the biggest Prada store in the world, this emporium is no typical outlet experience.

Beautifully laid out and immaculate with an enormous selection (when I was there anyway),

the impeccably Prada clad staff are super helpful and engaging.

I had all kinds of fun with sales assistants who emphatically removed items from me that they decided were less than flattering, and then en masse talked me into the sexiest red Prada dress I have ever seen. Just looking at it hanging in my closet takes my breath away.

Runway videos on giant flatscreens put you in the quintessential Prada frame of mind, and the runway music throughout the store reminds you that you are in the land of the luxe.

You get a numbered ticket at the entrance, which not only regulates the number of shoppers inside at any given time, but also serves as your personal identifier. You choose your items and hand them to the sales assistant who has them ready and waiting for you at the check out counter. No messy dragging around armfuls of clothes and shoes here.

If driving from Florence you can take a swift route down the autostrada and veer off to Montevarchi. I sincerely recommend allowing yourself some extra time, and leaving the autostrada at Poggibonsi, and taking yourself on an exquisite ride through the Chianti.
The views are breathtaking, and the little towns you pass through are to die for.

My favorite? Radda in Chianti. Stop in at the Dante Alighieri Bar/Enoteca for a cappucino en route,

or even better, on the way back sit out on the patio and have Fabrizio and Carolyn bring you lovely local wines and a perfect Tuscan late lunch. Heaven.

Once in Montevarchi get yourself onto Via Levanella Becorpi (easy to find – its one of the main streets) and drive approximately 3 kms. You’ll feel like you are halfway to nowhere, when on the left you’ll see a huge, white, modern factory style building. Turn left at the corner and drive to the end of the building. At the last gate you will see a parking lot filled with tour buses, chauffeur driven limos and towncars. And you will have reached Utopia!

The Prada Outlet is called Space – you won’t see a Prada sign from the street..

 Although it initially feels tourista-geeky, everyone takes pictures outside with their black SPACE bags

 even celebrity designer Michelle Mirkovich from Divinity Jewelry

One last piece of advice. Whatever you are planning on spending at the Prada Outlet, quadruple the amount.

The only shopper’s remorse I have felt both in Italy in general, and at the Prada Outlet, is for the things I didn’t buy, not for those that I did.

I’m already saving for the next round…

Airline magazines are so hideously boring.

As a rule I would rather pull my eyelashes out one by one than sit there and try to read one at 35 000 feet.
With one extraordinarily fabulous exception.

Air France’ Madame magazine.

Trust the french to get this so incredibly right. Albeit via two Brits, Lee Swillingham and Stuart Spalding of the London based Suburbia design studio.
The duo who have designed ad campaigns for luxury brands such as Dior, Longchamp, Tod’s and Bottega Veneta have given Air France Madame a complete makeover and a compelling new identity.
The bilingual (french and english) bi-monthly magazine has the look and feel of Vogue, with exquisite fashion photo stories, cool editorial and a cutting edge aesthetic.

Par example: check out this story, from the Air France Madame April 2011 issue.

Rhapsodie, fluid silhouettes and colors, a very chic 70’s retro…

featuring model Nicole Hofman, shot by Nikos Papadopoulos and styled by Virginie Dhello

Can you even believe its an inflight magazine??
Fab, non?
A bientot!
Wheels up Paris…