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Mihaela Lica Butler

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Mihaela Lica-Butler is travel writer and travel public relations consultant by profession, lover of cultures and cuisine. She has built a fun career while chiming in on many topics, from relating the trials and tribulations of the people of Kosovo, to experiencing, first hand, the heroics of the Romanian soldiers serving for the UN. But she thrives in conveying her love for travel and places in written word, and she is happy to be a constant contributor for some of the world's best travel sites.

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The Garage Museum of Contemporary Art

Moscow is one of the most exciting destinations in the world, especially if you love art. There are hundreds of galleries, art studios and shops to explore. Plus, local artisans love to showcase their crafts at festivals and other events. Here are some of the most popular galleries, recommended for our guests at Mamaison All-Suites Spa Hotel Pokrovka Moscow, and for city visitors.

Moscow’s State Tretyakov Gallery is not only one of the biggest museums of art in the country, but also one of the most interesting. It boasts over 100,000 art works, including icons, graphics, paintings and sculptures. The museum, which opened its doors boasts many masterpieces, some 1000 years old.

The State Tretyakov Gallery

The Multimedia Art Museum (MAMM) at Ostozhenka St. 16 is a branch of the Moscow House of Photography. The museum features new media arts, multimedia set ups and interesting lectures, as well as educational programmes for children.

Another interesting venue for contemporary arts is CCIFabrika (ЦТИ ПRОЕКТ_FАБRИКА). Housed in a beautiful old paper factory, this venue boasts several exhibition spaces, and stages dance and theater shows, concerts, events, and art exhibitions.

CCIFabrika

Galerie Iragui came to Moscow from Paris, and it was received with great interest. Besides hosting works by French contemporary artists, the gallery also showcases art by emerging European talent, and works by famous Russian creators. This is an interesting, unique space, and can be found at 7/7-5, Malaya Polyanka Moscow.

For lovers of photographic art, Pobeda offers an interesting mix of the works from upcoming artists and established international talent. On display, there are photographs by both Russian and international photographers. You simply cannot miss this outstanding gallery, which is located at the Red Square.

Pobeda

RuArts is a young, experimental art venue, created to encourage the development of the young art scene in Moscow. It celebrated 10 years in 2014, and is focused on video art, photography and experimental media. It is a very interesting venue, and it can be found at 1-y Zachatyevskiy Pereulok.

Finally, one of the most interesting venues for contemporary arts is the Garage Center for Contemporary Culture at 9/45 Krymsky Val St.. The gallery showcases contemporary art from upcoming and established Russian artists, as well as occasional internationals.

The Garage Museum of Contemporary Art

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Moscow

February is still gray and grim in Moscow, but not for lovers. There are so many wonderful destinations in this cosmopolitan city, that choosing it to re-declare your love is as good as you can imagine. From your Mamaison All-Suites Spa Hotel Pokrovka Moscow, which will spoil you from arrival till the moment you leave, this is truly a city to celebrate romance.

Shop at Lillies, to have that perfect fashionista outfit for Valentine’s dinner, or, if you want to splurge, choose the Chanel Boutique for clothing, accessories, jewelry, cosmetics, watches and footwear. Another excellent destination to buy luxury fashion is Moscow’s celebrated Novinsky Passage selling the most fashionable clothes, sports gears, footwear, underwear, mobile phones, gadgets, and much more.

Moscow

Perfect Valentine’s Day gift and outfit sorted, plan a romantic day out, doing something not many tourists do on this occasion. Take a ride in the metro, for example, and see the most beautiful metro station in the city (and probably in the world), Komsomolskaya, or stop along the way to admire other artistic and architectural gems like Mayakovskaya, Taganskaya, Novoslobodskaya, and Arbatskaya, to mention but a few.

Izmailovo, part of the State Historical Museum, was once home to several rich and famous Russian families, whose legacy can still be seen here. A museum of rare beauty, this can make for a romantic date if you are into art and history.

If nature is your thing, enjoy the beautiful landscapes of Bitsevskii Wood, between the residential areas of Chertanovo, Yasenevo and Ziuzino. This protected area is the green lungs of Balaklavskii Prospect, a romantic destination all year round. During the winter season, the woods are also favored as a cross-country skiing destination.

Ultimate Pampering in Moscow: Spa by Algotherm

Before you end your romantic day out, let yourself pampered at the exclusive Spa by Algotherm, which takes up two floors of your Mamaison All-Suites Spa Hotel Pokrovka. The most luxurious medical spa in Moscow, Spa by Algotherm at Pokrovka was created to restore the harmony in between body and spirit, offering an oasis of relaxation and calm set in an atmosphere of luxury and lavish comfort. Even if you don’t stay at Mamaison Pokrovka, when your trips bring you to Moscow, check out the gem in our crown, for an experience that has the stuff of period-drama, and romance film illusion.

Wedding Bliss at Mamaison Pokrovka Moscow

Finally, seal the day with dinner at Meat & More the perfect setting for a date, for a wedding, and, why not, even for a psychedelic evening. Just look around you: the interior is so fresh, innovative, and unexpected, that it can transfigure into any theme you may choose. A wedding? We are a favorite partner of the Wedding Magazine, and many couples pick MEAT & MORE for a lively party, after they tie the knot.

The cuisine is refined and sophisticated, just like the interior decor by Anton Gorlanov. This is the only restaurant in the Mamaison collection to welcome you 24 hours a day, every day. When hunger strikes, just step inside the restaurant, and the staff will make you feel like a VIP, every time.

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Crytstal Ball

If you visit Prague in February, to celebrate love with that someone special in your life, stay at a Mamaison hotel, as now rooms are available at promotional prices. And if you love beauty and art, as much as you love culture and discovering new places, Prague is a true destination for the soul. Fall in love with this beautiful city, and visit some of its cherished landmarks, but also add to your itinerary the following recommendations.

Amade

Many restaurants in Prague will offer outstanding menus for Valentine’s Day, and our own Restaurant Amade at Mamaison Suite Hotel Pachtuv Palace is no exception. Romantic and elegant, with a contemporary vibe, and unique interior design defined by exciting and uplifting elements, such as comfy cushions, and crystal chandeliers, Amade offers a sophisticated urban experience that inspires unforgettable moments and romance. Just like the decor, the cuisine, rooted in Czech traditions, but recreated with flair and gusto, refines your Valentine’s Day dining experience with sophisticated flavors, and dishes fit for royalty.

Amade

How else would you want to experience the City of a Hundred Spires? For romantic couples, Mater Urbium is the city break of choice, for its lush, palatial charm, for medieval, fairy-tale like atmosphere, for cuisine, and yes, for everything that makes your heart beat faster, in amazement.

Imagine getting lost on the cobbled streets that once witnessed secrete romance stories between blue-blooded Czech royalty, and their Austro-Hungarian rulers. This is when you will understand why Prague is revisited like an urban art gallery, over and over again: its vast arteries are lined up with outstanding landmarks of diverse architectural styles.

Galerie Rudolfinum is a celebration of love and art, an ideal spot to bring a date for special moments that touch the soul in mysterious ways. If art is not on your list of priorities, an enchanted trip on the Vlatva River, aboard the Hamburg will certainly leave an unforgettable mark: the boat takes you on a romantic cruise, with music, dancing, and fine dining.

Or try Lázně na Lodi, the spa on the ship, on the river at Rašínovo nábřeží. Enjoy some great views on Prague while relaxing in a classic Finnish sauna or in an open-air pool with hot water on the deck. The spa will be open on Valentine’s Day, so give it a try.

carnevale

February is also the season of the Prague Carnevale, which, this year, is held from February 6th till February 17th. Don’t miss its colorful festivities, which take place at various venues around the city. Bohemian costume parades will take place in front of Old Town Hall, but the most exciting event takes place February 14, at 19:30 at the Clam-Gallas Palace: the Crystal Ball, “A Barocco Grandioso.” Keep in mind that you can only attend if you were appropriate period costumes.

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Valentine's Day

One of the most anticipated holidays follows in February: St. Valentine’s Day, a day for lovers and couples, but also a day to celebrate love in all its forms. Traditionally an occasion for lovers to declare their feelings, this is also a celebration of friendship for many people in the world, and, in different countries, it is a celebration with roots in pagan agricultural rituals related to plants, and the beginning of the work in vineyards and fields.

At Mamaison Hotels & Residences, St. Valentine’s Day is what you want it to be: a day like any other day, when you are welcomed in style in any Mamaison Hotel; an occasion to visit a new and exciting European destination; a day to escape the world with your beloved better half, finding sanctuary in one of our most sophisticated rooms, specially decorated for the occasion, and priced to give you a bit extra to spend on gifts… Book now your romantic stay in a Mamaison hotel, and make this Valentine’s Day truly special.

Valentine's Day

More than special Valentine’s Day hotel deals, Mamaison Hotels & Residences mark this day with a variety of romantic dinner menus in their most stellar restaurants. At Mamaison Hotel Le Regina Warsaw, Chef Paweł Oszczyk prepared this menu for couples who celebrate romance at La Rotisserie:

La Rotisserie Valentine's Day menu

Another restaurant that will spoil couples this Valentine’s Day is Mamaison All-Suites Spa Hotel Pokrovka’s Meat & More in Moscow, where the dinner will be held in the spacious living room of one of the best hotel rooms in the Russian capital.

Dinner price 3150 rubles per person.
Reservations by phone +7495229 57 78 or email reservations.pokrovka@mamaison.com

Mamaison All-Suites Spa Hotel Pokrovka Moscow

Finally, the Valentine’s Day menu at La Perle Noire Restaurant and Lounge in Budapest features marinated scallop, trout fillet, French rack of lamb served with squid crust and tortellini filled with chestnuts; asparagus velouté, veal tenderloin, and other delicious mains. Valentine’s Day Menu is 9.000 Ft/person, includes VAT and service charge.

La Perle

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leica

A thriving center of cultural significance, Warsaw is a destination for every budget, appealing equally to adventure travelers, culture buffs, historians, party goers, and the list could go on. This time, we’d like to introduce to you some of the most fascinating art spaces in town, featuring both contemporary and classic works, true temples of beauty, where you can enrich your soul, while getting closer to the spirit of this outstanding destination.

Our first stop is MiTo at Ludwika Waryńskiego 28, a concept cafe, that also acts as a gallery space, showcasing contemporary art by local creators, in small temporary exhibitions. If beauty is not enough, the cafe also offers an exceptional selection of books for sale: no matter what you like, you will leave this place richer.

MiTo

Leica Gallery (address: ul. Mysia 3 00-496 Śródmieście) is for lovers of photographic art. It mainly shows art by Polish artists and photographers, in temporary exhibitions (other solo, or group), mainly revolving around current trends and social realities.

Galeria Kuratorium is a space for contemporary art, but also a design store. A unique art concept space, this shop is exclusively focused on works by young local talent. What they sell here is an inspiring alternative to traditional souvenirs, authentic and valuable, an excellent choice for art collectors, but also for everyone who wants to enhance a home, or a work space, with quality artworks.

Kuratorium

More local art can be admired at Bęc Zmiana (Mokotowska 65) – a non-profit space, dedicated to the promotion of modern Polish art and culture. More than art exhibitions, this space also hosts concerts, events, readings, and other cultural activities.

The arts and culture center of Warsaw is unique, exciting, challenging and extraordinary. The locals transform simple spaces into exceptional concept venues, pretty much like Pies Czy Suka (Szpitalna 8), where you will find a design store and a cocktail bar sharing the same roof. On sale here, items by local emerging artists and craftsmen. You can sip a delicious cocktail while you admire the goods, pondering what to buy. It’s pretty hard to choose: everything is beautiful, valuable, and enticing.

Keret House

Last, but not least, the Keret House, is an ­art installation inserted between two buildings at ul. Chłodna 22.

The house’s location is where two ghettos – the large ghetto and the small ghetto met. Only a few steps from the house stood a footbridge that connected both sealed off areas.

A fully functional building, the Keret House is equipped with all the amenities required for living in the city. The Keret House is open for visitors only on selected days. Visit the website to learn when you can see this outstanding creation by Architect Jakub Szczęsny. Call it the world’s narrowest house if you will, and don’t miss it. This outstanding work of art measures 92 cm in its narrowest point ­and 152 cm in its ­widest point.

La Rotisserie seating

A Gem of Budapest: La Perle Noire Restaurant and Lounge

A new world opened as our mystery guest stepped onto the patio of La Perle Noire Restaurant and Lounge, which is, according to local media and residents, one of the most beautiful terraces in Budapest. And they are not wrong. Time stands still here, in a silent intensity, you find yourself captivated, under the magic spell of a relaxing urban garden. For you are the mystery guest. Welcome to a different hospitality experience. Prepare to enjoy the finest local dishes, the freshest local, and organic, ingredients, and the friendliest atmosphere in this magic city.

We’ve got it: you are a foodie. But, you are, probably, not alone. You are here to share the time of your life with someone special, and we will do anything we can to make your time with us as memorable as you imagined it. This is, after all, award-winning Mamaison Hotel Andrassy Budapest.

It could still be summer: the patio is green and cheerful. Guests come, and go, but you can linger for hours, in candlelight, under the stars, savoring signature dishes inspired by both Hungarian and French traditions.

But then, the weather may not always be on your side, so La Perle Noire Restaurant and Lounge is a haven of sorts, even when the elements are hostile. If you arrive too early, that “hear-a-pin-drop” silence may put you off, but patience, dear mystery guest: the energetic staff will appear in no time, with just the right culinary suggestions to take away your blues.

La Perle Noire Restaurant and Lounge

Imagine indulging in a Barbary duck breast with Rougié duck liver, chili Beluga lens ragout and gingery green apple, arriving at your table looking pretty much as sensual as a Charles Willmott painting. Now, that’s perfection, as some celebrity chef somewhere would say in front of the cameras. But, maybe, just maybe, you want something with local flavors? A “Chef menu,” one of the two you can choose from, paired with the right sommelier recommendations, will do the trick. In other words, precious mystery guest, no matter the season, we will overindulge you, for sure.

Moscow’s Darling for Lovers: MEAT & MORE Restaurant

So, dear  mystery guest, you are now in Moscow, probably staying at Mamaison All-Suites Spa Hotel Pokrovka. Good for you! Did you know that this fine luxury establishment hosts the 11th Spa by Algotherm in existence? Yes, the hotel redefines pampering in all its forms. You can expect the same treatment from MEAT & MORE Restaurant, the jewel in our crown.

MEAT & MORE is the perfect setting for a date, for a wedding, and, why not, even for a psychedelic evening. Just look around you: the interior is so fresh, innovative, and unexpected, that it can transfigure into any theme you may choose. A wedding? We are a favorite partner of the Wedding Magazine, and many couples pick MEAT & MORE for a lively party, after they tie the knot.

The cuisine is refined and sophisticated, just like the interior decor by Anton Gorlanov. This is the only restaurant in the Mamaison collection to welcome you 24 hours a day, every day. When hunger strikes, just step inside the restaurant, and the staff will make you feel like a VIP, every time.

MEAT&MORE

If your question is “How happy can a steak make a man?”  then the answer from MEAT & MORE is “elated.” Steaks pass as simple meals, but not when they are prepared with the best meat cuts available on the market, and refined with signature gravies, and sides that put the world’s most famous restaurants to shame.

Not a “meat” fan? Well, there’s always the “more,” which stands for creative chef dishes, melt-in-your-mouth desserts, soups, salads, and internationally-inspired mains that change seasonally.

Timeless Elegance, and Cuisine by Paweł Oszczyk: La Rotisserie Restaurant, Warsaw

This imperial space is the reason why many local residents visit Mamaison Hotel Le Regina Warsaw time after time, every week. Everything you see, touch, or eat in this urban eatery is the best. You don’t need to be a guest of the hotel to indulge in the finest gourmet creations available in Warsaw.

The “grand” experience is open to all foodies, always changing, innovative, and fresh. The restaurant is as romantic, as it is family friendly. It is as suitable for business lunches, as it is for exclusive parties. And the terrace: is a sanctuary.

La Rotisserie interior

This is where you will find Chef Paweł Oszczyk, recently designated the Polish Chef de l’Avenir 2014, a prestigious award by the International Academy of Gastronomy, which recognizes culinary excellence. No wonder that the local food bloggers rave about the cuisine, and if you consider that the wines are hand-picked by Andrew Strzelczyk, the Polish Champion Sommelier in both 2012 and 2013, you’ll soon be convinced that only a few other selected restaurants in Warsaw come close to what La Rotisserie has to offer.

In other words, if you are looking for the ideal place to satisfy your passion for gourmet foods, this is it. Every other dish is more of a treat than the first, and every glass of wine is godliness.

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Mamaison Hotel Le Regina Warsaw

A charming European destination, Warsaw is as interesting in Winter, as it is in Spring, or any other season. With activities and attractions for every budget, this is the perfect cityscape, any time of the year. To enjoy a great time as a couple, or as a family, take advantage of our Winter Early Bird discounts, and save 20% at Mamaison Hotel Le Regina Warsaw or Mamaison Residence Diana. For those of you planning a trip to Warsaw this season, here’s what we recommend.

diana

First, have a blast at the Winter Town at the National Stadium. This is the second edition of a festival of sorts, that brings you 3 spectacular ice rinks, an ice hill with a slide and pontoons, and even an ice bar. Of course, there are many other exciting attractions: shows on ice “Kings on Ice” and “Xtreme Ice Show,” but also a disco skating rink and toddler activities every morning.

National Winter

Escape the gloomy days with a visit at the Wilanow Palace, and lose yourself inside the Labyrinth of Light, a light art installation covering over 1000 m², in the garden at the Orangery. This year, the theme is Alice in Wonderland – and the labyrinth offers attractions for young and old. 2015 marks the third and last year when the Labyrinth of Light art installation can be seen by visitors at the Wilanow Palace. You have time till March 15, 2015 to see it. The Royal Garden of Light is open every day from 09:00 till 16:00 – tickets are affordable and grant you access to other attractions at the palace, including the Labyrinth of Light, Garden of Imagination, and the Golden Courtyard.

light

Labyrinth of Light, photo by Marcin Mastykarz

Till February 15, 2015, you can still visit the largest Lego exhibition in Poland, which is on display at the National Stadium. On display, a 11-metre-long Titanic model, built with more than 500,000 Lego bricks; the new LEGO – Volvo excavator; the mock-up of the Simpsons family house in Springfield; Lego renditions of cars of the Polish communist regime era; and much more.

lego expo

Don’t forget to like Mamaison Hotels and Residences on Facebook for even more exciting travel news and updates from Warsaw, and for special offers from our hotels and restaurants.

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2015 - Happy New Year

2014 was an amazing year, a year of joy for the Mamaison family, which is now part of the CPI Hotels group, one of the major hotel groups in the Czech Republic. We’ve received tremendous accolades from travelers just like you, and from the media, we had unique events to celebrate our guests in Mamaison hotels in six European destinations (Prague, Ostrava, Budapest, Bratislava, Warsaw and Moscow). We also launched this special blog, to bring you travel news from Mamaison destinations.

In this spirit, we are now recommending things to do in Budapest in the first days of 2015. We will follow up with news from all our destinations, to help you plan a great start in the new year.

Budapest

Budapest enters in the new year with style and class, first celebrating with music, in a variety of venues all around the city. Check out the schedules at the Budapest Palace of Arts (Béla Bartók National Concert Hall), the Hungarian State Opera, the Budapest Congress Center or at the Papp László Sport Arena. New Year’s concerts are also held in churches and basilicas. The programmes are varied, satisfying a variety of musical preferences: you can listen to classical music, choir, opera and more.

The Carnival Season in Hungary, called Farsang, kicks of January 6, and lasts till March 5, 2015. As every year, several venues around the country, and in Budapest, will organize events to celebrate this important religious festival. Among the most interesting events to attend during these days, mark in your calendar the Budapest International Circus Festival (January 9-13);a retro-themed carnival celebration called Symbál, on February 8; a Baroque costume party at the Museum of Fine Arts on February 15 (tickets include a late night visit of the “Caravaggio to Canaletto”); the carnival at Vajdahunyad Castle on March 1st; and the Fat Thursday, featuring great food at low prices, in over 500 fine dining venues around Budapest, including the best of all, our own La Perle Noire Restaurant and Lounge, at Mamaison Hotel Andrassy.

Fővárosi Nagycirkusz

Speaking of good food, do not miss the Mangalica Festival, taking place February 6-8; an event that pays homage to the pure Hungarian heritage breed of pig “mangalica.” Traditional dishes prepared with mangalica pork meat include sausages and salami. After this festival, Budapest celebrates gastronomy with another fun festival: the Budapest Fish Festival (February 13-16). Here, taste the local fishermen’s soup, made with freshwater fish, or try the local wine and pálinka.

mangalica fesztival

We wish you a happy start in the new year, and thank you for choosing Mamaison Hotels and Residences, as individual as you!

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    Christmas woman with stars

    There’s no other season more celebrated around the world than Winter, especially in December, when a great part of the world dresses up in Christmas lights, and cheers for the birth of Christ, the Savior. This is the season to give, to share positive feelings and thoughts, to help each-other, to rekindle broken relationships with family and friends, to forgive, and finally, to remember the values that truly matter, those values that make the essence of humanity, and make us whole.

    Christmas cheer.

    Mamaison Hotels and Residences have prepared a variety of packages to make your winter truly magical this year. First, the Winter Early Bird Breaks offer you 20% off when you book at least 30 days prior to arrival, and you stay in any Mamaison hotel that participates in this offer at least two nights, for a travel window starting with December 2, 2014 and ending March 31, 2015.

    If you cannot book 30 day prior your arrival to the Mamaison hotel of your choice, you can still save 15% if you stay at least two nights, during the same travel window as above, with the second special offer: Winter Treats.

    mamaison winter

    More than mere places to spend the night after a day of exploring your favorite destinations, Mamaison Hotels and Residences are also places where you can get pampered, and where you can experience authentic local hospitality and cuisine. This is true at Christmas too, when you can dine in some of Mamaison’s classiest restaurants: Meat & More at Mamaison All-Suites Spa Hotel Pokrovka Moscow; La Perle Noire Restaurant and Lounge at Mamaison Hotel Andrassy Budapest; and at Restaurant Legend at Mamaison Business & Conference Hotel Imperial Ostrava.

    At Meat & More in Moscow, you and your party will enjoy exquisite menus, featuring tuna fillet in sesame seeds, ravioli with ricotta cheese, duck breast with carrot puree and more. The set price for the festive menu, which will be available from 18:00 on December 31, 2014, is 2,900 RUB. You can enjoy this offer regardless if you are a guest of the hotel or not. So plan a festive evening in Mamaison All-Suites Spa Hotel Pokrovka Moscow’s fine restaurant. If you want to enjoy Christmas dinner at Meat & More, you will need to order in advance. For this special holiday, the restaurant offers a whole roasted turkey with apple stuffing served with seasonal vegetables and fruit (4 kg) for 5900 RUB. Pre-order at least 5 days in advance, at +7 495 229-57-57.

    Christmas Turkey In Wooden Tray

    La Perle Noire Restaurant and Lounge, one of the finest restaurants in Budapest, the jewel of Mamaison Hotel Andrassy, serves creative European cuisine drawing upon French and Hungarian traditions. Their Christmas and New Year’s Eve menus this year will reflect their strengths, giving you a truly gourmet dining experience, at exceptional prices. The Christmas Menu will be available from December 20, to December 28, 2014, featuring: duck liver pudding with quince, piemont hazelnut and gold raisin; fish velouté with orange, marinated milt and in air bag baked pike-perch; veal ossobucco rilette; venison loin á la Stroganoff style with Annabelle potato and cornichon; crispy black cod fish fillet with chestnut, bergamia oiled quail egg and mushrooms; and homemade gerbeaud with pecan, elderberry jam and ras el hanout ice cream. The New Year menu, equally rewarding, features even more delicious treats, only available that special evening. See La Perle Noire’s menu page for prices.

    In Ostrava, restaurant Legend pays tribute to the traditional Czech cuisine. You will feel the authentic Czech Christmas atmosphere on Dcember 24, and 25, when the chef prepares a unique, special menu, full of surprises. January 1, 2015, is dedicated to celebrating the New Year, with a fresh menu, drawing upon the same Czech culinary traditions.

    Floating candles

    Last, but not least, is you want to spend time this season in Budapest, Mamaison Hotels & Residences have partnered with Inter Relocation to offer you the chance to win a luxury two-night stay at our Hotel Andrassy, including breakfast and a voucher for a fantastic dinner at La Perle Noire Restaurant, with a second prize of a voucher for dinner for two at La Perle Noire Restaurant. Simply enter by answering the following two simple questions and sending your answers via email to info@interrelo.com

    1. How large (in square meters) is the “Deluxe King with Bath” room type at the Mamaison Hotel Andrássy?
    2. In what year was Inter Relocation founded?

    We wish you a wonderful Christmas season, and a Happy New Year!

    Chopin Museum

    Warsaw is advertised as the city of Chopin, because the great Polish composer Frédéric François Chopin was born and raised here. His musical genius drew inspiration for many of his early works from the life pulsing on these historic streets, and from the beautiful nature of the local parks.

    “The muse of his homeland dictates his songs, and the anguished cries of Poland lend to his art a mysterious, indefinable poetry which, for all those who have truly experienced it, cannot be compared to anything else,” said Franz Liszt once, referring to Chopin.

    Fryderyk Chopin Statue in Warsaw © Artur Bogacki - Fotolia.com

    Fryderyk Chopin Statue in Warsaw © Artur Bogacki – Fotolia.com

    In fact, Chopin loved the cradle of his youth so much, he requested his heart be removed after death and returned to his beloved Warsaw. So if you want to tour Chopin’s Warsaw, you only need to follow his heart.

    Walk down Krakowskie Przedmieście, to find the Church of the Holy Cross, where the heart of the composer rests in an urn immured in a pillar. This remarkable church, one of the most visited landmarks of the city, was built between 1679 and 1757, and was a collaborative effort, involving the creative genius of several architects and artists, including Józef Szymon Bellotti, the royal architect at the Royal Court of Poland, for the main building; as well as Józef and Jakub Fontana for the towers and the facade. But nothing of the original works remains: the church was blown up by the Germans in 1945. What you see today is the work of architect B. Zborowski. Luckily, the urn containing the heart of the composer was removed during the Warsaw Uprising (1944) by the Germans, who gave it to Bishop Antoni Szlagowski. Only on October 17, 1945 the heart was returned to the church, during a ceremony that celebrated 96 years since Chopin’s death.

    Holy Cross Church Warsaw © stavrida - Fotolia.com

    It’s easy to see Chopin’s Warsaw like a tourist: the city celebrates its most beloved son with pride and joy, and promotes all the significant landmarks that were touched by the composer, one way or another. The official route suggested by the City of Warsaw was inaugurated in connection with the 200th anniversary of Chopin’s birth in 2010. When you follow the route, you will find several multimedia benches, which have an interactive sound system that will play Chopin’s music. There are 15 spots where you can rest on one of Chopin’s Benches, all connected with landmarks that played an important role in the life of the composer.

    For instance, at Radziwiłł Palace, where Chopin performed for the first time in public, the bench will play RONDO in C minor, Op.1; 32”. At the Holy Cross Church, you will listen to the MEMORIAL MARCH from SONATA in B minor, Op.35; 45”; while the bench on Miodowa Street will play MAZUREK in A minor, Op.68; 34”. This is the street where you will find Honoratka, the only venue from Chopin’s time that still stands in its original form.

    Honoratka

    The composer used to dine and meet with his contemporaries often in the restaurant, back then called Kawiarni Honoratka. Today’s Honoratka is a place to discover traditional Polish cuisine, accompanied by the music of the master. Almost everything here is designed as an homage to Chopin: you will feel his presence, an uplifting experience, enhanced by cultural and artistic events and exhibits. And, of course, there’s even a Chopin menu.

    Another uplifting experience on the itinerary is the Łazienki Królewskie Park, where, in the heat of July, August and September, every Sunday, from noon to 16:00 there are free Chopin piano concerts performed outdoors at the foot of the Chopin Monument, one of the most recognizable symbols of the city.

    Łazienki Królewskie Park © aarstudio - Fotolia.com

    The park used to be a playground for young Fryderyk and the son of the Prince. The gardens surrounding the various royal buildings are among the most beautiful in the city, and are popular for tourists and residents alike, not only for their outstanding landscape, but also for the events held here. Besides Sunday Chopin concerts, from June to September you can also appreciate performances by the Horse Quadrilles, which are staged on each first sunday of the month at 12:00.

    Łazienki Królewskie Park is the site of the Royal Residence of King Stanisław August, today a prestigious museum, showcasing the Royal collections of paintings, sculptures, numismatics, and graphics, as well as temporary exhibitions on various themes.

    No other landmark on the Chopin itinerary is as authentic as Salonik Chopinów, a small part of the flat where the composer spent his last years before leaving Poland. The flat, the only one belonging to the composer, which is still open to the general public, can be found inside Pałac Czapskich, formerly Pałac Krasińskich, and currently the Academy of Fine Arts. The apartment, however, doesn’t feature original furnishings, which were destroyed or lost during the World War II. Instead, the beautiful drawing salon was recreated in 1960 based on drawings by Antoni Kolberg.

    If these landmarks are not enough to tame your thirst for knowledge, step inside Pałac Ostrogskich for the largest collection in the world of memorabilia and documents related to Chopin. One of his original pianos is still preserved here, together with manuscripts of his works, letters, notes, photographs, personal items, and much more. Unlike most museums celebrating the life and work of a local hero, the Fryderyk Chopin Museum is the most modern biographical museum in Europe. The experience is direct, hands-on, designed to satisfy curiosity and interest in visitors of all ages. 15 different rooms inside the palace are each a different “mini-museum” dedicated to the great composer.

    This tour that celebrates Chopin will bring the purest of the local spirit closer to your heart. This is a kind of experience that completes your understanding of Varsovian tradition in unusual and unexpected ways, in tune, if you will, and perfect harmony: the kind of experience that redefines the purpose of travel, enriching your soul.