travel ideas – Schloss Bensberg

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Germany’s Schloss Bensberg – an indulgent weekend 

This month’s travel recommendation is located in Germany, where I live part of the year.  My partner’s traditional birthday present to me is usually a trip to somewhere beautiful, inspiring or exotic. This year, we went to Schloss Bensberg for some much needed relaxation.  Schloss is the German word for palace, and Bensberg is a small town just outside of Cologne. The palace, a former hunting lodge for the Count Palatine of the Rhine, was converted into a 5 star luxury hotel in the 1990s. The palace is a stunning relic of royal Europe; it was commissioned in the 1700s by Johann Wilhelm, then current Count Palatine, for his wife Anna Maria. Due to his wife’s taste for grandeur, Johann Wilhelm used Versailles and Winchester Castle as architectural models for the schloss. He used the site’s elevated scenery and views onto the Rhine Valley and river to entice his wife. The hotel is situated such that it allows for a breathtaking view of the cathedral city of Cologne without being in the city proper.

Schloss Bensberg

Romantic gardens at Schloss Bensberg

The Decline

Johann Wilhelm died before the Schloss was completed, however; instead of finishing the project herself, Anna Maria left Germany, grief stricken, and returned to Italy, her land of origin. When she left, she took the numerous artists, plasterers and painters who were originally commissioned to work on Schloss Bensberg with her. As a result the building remained unfinished. Over the centuries, the building was used as a military hospital, cadet school, boarding school and refugee centre.

The Transformation

In the 1990s, however, the building was purchased and renovated at a cost of 75 million euros and nearly a decade of work, transforming it into a luxury hotel. My partner chose this hotel for me because, like Stonehurst, it combines my love of old buildings which have been repurposed and made new.

The Schloss has a 10,000 sq ft beauty and spa centre, which I can say was total pamperology. A claim to fame of the hotel is the Michelin-star cuisine of Joachim Wissler in their Restaurant Vendôme, the tenth best restaurant in the world.  After a few dinners there, I can understand why!

Sublime. Indulgent. Just like Stonehurst Place (ok, a little bigger) 🙂

Shadomy, Stonehurst Place

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“Wonderful B&B in Midtown”

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Great B&B with lots of character. Friendly and welcoming staff. Great breakfast.

Posted on Hotels.com by Andrew, US on February 24, 2016

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The Rockettes: Fall in Step

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Fall In Step

Inspired by The Rockettes? That’s me!  Most of my efforts so far on our Carriage House extension of Stonehurst Place have been labour-intensive design work.  As lead designer,  I work with the principal architect as well as our innkeepers (thankfully Paul is a talented architect as well as incredible innkeeper!) to create what will be an inspiring and breathtaking use of space.  We want these new suites to fall in step with the design aesthetic of Stonehurst Place, where our guests are truly comfortable in our elegant-but-not-fussy mansion house.  Almost every day, I pour over the architectural plans that litter my desk, wearing reading glasses and still using a magnifying glass because the print on the drawings is font size 2.  Although it’s a labour of love, that love can sometimes be left behind while I measure out minute distances, calculating the exact size of a toilet or plotting comfortable walking widths and paths through the suites.  One thing that always lifts my spirits, though, is crawling through hundreds and hundreds (thousands?) of listings on the internet to find perfect pieces of art to compliment the new décor.

The Rockettes

Vintage photograph of The Rockettes

The Rockettes Perfectly Fall In Step

The other day, I found a terrific piece to use in one of the new suites. This slightly tattered but still amazing picture is an original 1937 newspaper photo, labeled “Radio City Music Hall Leggy Pin-Up Rockettes.”  The piece is a large format, silver gelatin photograph that highlights the precision and glamour of the dancing troupe as they line the stage and brandish their show-stopping legs and precise uniformity.  Dramatic, enchanting, and absolutely glamorous, this Radio City Music Hall artifact is truly exquisite, and just the kind of piece I love sharing with Stonehurst Place guests.  We already have a collection of vintage photographs, most of which are in our “Hollywood Glamour” Piedmont and Farnsworth rooms.  Those vintage photographs feature classic Hollywood designers and stars, notably Edith Head, Marlene Dietrich, Rita Hayworth, and Joan Crawford.

The Rockettes are a source of fascination for me. This group of women, trained to control their bodies so well that they are in perfect unison, are an awesome sight. Of course, the rounds and rounds of auditions to become a Rockette are incredibly difficult to make it through, but the end goal is worth it.  They seem like a community of women perfectly attuned to each other’s body movements.  Although their schedules are incredibly harsh, especially during the Christmas Season when The Rockettes present five shows a day, seven days a week, I see it as a true team sport.  Their best known routine is an “eye-high leg kick in perfect unison in a chorus line,” which they are preparing to do in this image … which is why I had to purchase it. It shows these women about to deliver their daily dose of perfection, just as we strive to do daily at Stonehurst Place.  They are hovering on the brink, about to complete their performance. Their genuine smiles brighten up the image. They are ready to show off their skills.

I am in awe of their excitement.

Shadomy, Stonehurst Place

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“Best B&B in ATL”

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My husband and I spent the a night at Stonehurst for a delightful one-night getaway! We couldn’t have asked for a more relaxing and elegant stay. The property and décor restored to original time period. The room was spectacular with a working gas fireplace(lit during turndown service w/ chocolates and low lighting for ambience upon our return). The spring water, robes, charging dock, towel warmer and fresh flowers made this place over the top, along with a variety of refreshments that were available 24/7 in the parlor; (wine, soda, snacks). If that doesn’t meet your fancy walk across the hall to the dining area where you’ll find cookies, cakes, fruit, fruit infused water, or check out the back porch for hot coffee and teas to your liking in another lil hideaway of beautiful relaxing décor. The full gourmet breakfast is a must, along with fresh pressed hot coffee. You have the feel a quaint romantic getaway! Step outside, look up and you’re reminded that you’re in the middle of downtown ATL (Piedmont area), walking distance to shopping, great eats, and a beautiful park. A big thank you to the caretakers who made us feel welcomed and at home. You’ll be blown away by the beauty and attentiveness of the caretakers to make sure your every need is met. To boot, their a true green property with reclaimed water etc. Oh– loved, loved the bath soaps and hair products! Our only regret is we could only stay one night, but we will for sure to return our next visit!!! Don’t pass up this hidden gem. Thank you from Perry, GA

Posted on TripAdvisor by Brewer2016, Perry, Georgia on February 9th, 2016

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“Great Visit and First B&B”

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My wife and I recently stayed at Stonehurst. Place. We were in the area for an event and Stonehurst was close. We had never been to a B&B but we both love older homes and architecture. We were graciously welcomed when we entered the home and given a quick tour and history. The house has been beautifully restored and furnished. Our breakfast the following morning was delicious and prepared by the owners and host of the house. We will definitely try to find our way back for another visit.

Posted on TripAdvisor by Kind_0f_Picky, Cumming, Georgia on February 9th, 2016

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“Exceeded my expectations”

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My partner & I had our elopement here. It was very last minute and the staff was amazing at making EVERY SINGLE thing happen with no stress. The property is beyond gorgeous & amenities were top notch.

Posted on TripAdvisor by Shannon B., Columbus GA on February 9th, 2016

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“Master Suite bigger than most urban appartments”

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I took my husband to Stonehurst for a one-night getaway for his birthday. We stayed in the Master Suite and were blown away. We’ve stayed around the world, but this room, more specifically, the bathroom, was beyond anything we’ve experienced. The shower had a total of THREE heads, two shower heads and a rainfall feature. The bathtub was lovely and high-tech. Breakfast was a beautiful two course meal. I also appreciated the “greenness” of the hotel. Utilizing rainwater is something more of us should be doing and it’s so refreshing to experience. Paul and Lori were wonderful and beyond courteous.

Posted on TripAdvisor by Katie W, Atlanta, GA on February 2nd, 2016.

 

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Stonehurst Place is All About Romance this Valentine’s Day!

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Valentine's Day

Stonehurst Place is the perfect place for romance.

Valentine’s Day at Stonehurst Place

Stonehurst Place is all about romance, and nothing tops the romance of Valentine’s Day! Over sixty-two percent of Americans confess to celebrating Valentine’s Day, whether it’s as simple as a home-made card or as extraordinary as a night in one of our suites!

Valentine's Day

Toast your loved one at Stonehurst Place, Atlanta’s #1 accommodation!

According to statistics, approximately 180 million Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged each year, making Valentine’s Day the second most popular card-sending holiday, Christmas being the first.  Of all those cards, eighty-five percent of them are purchased by women.  An estimated 250 million roses are produced for this single holiday, and almost seventy-five percent of them are purchased by men.  Americans will purchase about 58 million pounds of chocolate prior to February 14th, and almost 200 million gallons of sparkling wine.

The history of Valentine’s Day, and its patron saint, is murky. There is more than one St. Valentine, but two of them are attributed to deeds regarding romance and love. In 496 AD, Pope Gelacius proclaimed that February 14th was St. Valentine’s Day .  The association of that day with romance and courtship continued through the Middle Ages, and by the 18th Century, gift-giving and handmade cards had become common in England.  In the 1840’s greeting cards began to be commercially produced in the United States.

As with many of our holidays, food plays an important role, and most people think about how much of that 58 million pounds of chocolate they will purchase. But there are other  ‘love’ foods .  Did you know that three specific herbs are associated with Valentine’s Day?  Basil is a traditional symbol of fertility and was often worn by women to signal their single nature. The scent of lavender is said to be an aphrodisiac. Rosemary has long been a symbol of love, with it being used frequently in wedding bouquets during the Middle Ages.

The red color and heart shape of strawberries make it the perfect fruit to celebrate love. Strawberries are also the symbol of Venus, the goddess of love.  Chocolate-covered strawberries make the ultimate Valentine’s combination!

And then there’s that 58 million pounds of chocolate! Chocolates became a common gift in the Victorian Era. Richard Cadbury, whose British family manufactured drinking chocolate, found a way to use the pure cocoa butter leftover from the process. His solution was “eating chocolates,” which he packaged in lovely boxes he designed himself. When the chocolates had been eaten, people could use the beautiful boxes to save mementos such as love letters.

Valentine's Day

Our Candlelight Romance package, complete with rose petals and Godiva chocolate.

Whether it’s a proposal, a honeymoon or anniversary, a babymoon or just a night on the town, Stonehurst Place is the perfect place for romance. We’ve even created the Candlelight Romance package, complete with rose petals and Godiva chocolate, to add to your reservation.  A couples massage can also be arranged, if you desire.  And, of course, there’s always an intimate, candlelit restaurant within walking distance!  Just ask, and we’ll recommend a few.

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