Travel Bag

Written by Keridwen Cornelius, Leah LeMoine & Craig Outhier Category: Travel Issue: September 2016
Group Free

Room with a Milieu

When the novelty of the average hotel room wears off, book a stay at themed accommodations near and far.

Madonna Inn

“Over the top” is the tip of the ornamentation iceberg at this San Luis Obispo gem. Its 110 rooms each has a different kooky, kitschy theme, with highlights including Caveman (pictured), Jungle Rock, Fabulous Fifties, Swiss Chalet, Oriental Fantasy and Antique Cars.

100 Madonna Rd., San Luis Obispo, Calif., 


Grand Highland Hotel

History hounds can bunk in 12 rooms overlooking Prescott’s historical Courthouse Square, each decorated to represent a pivotal period or person in local and U.S. history. Our favorites: Big Nose Kate Room, Sharlot Hall Room and the Rough Riders Room.

154 S. Montezuma St., Prescott, 928-776-9963,

Hotel des Arts

Artsy even by San Francisco standards, this boutique hotel in the French Quarter offers 51 rooms, each filled with themed art – from luchador murals to surrealist 3-D art installations – commissioned from international artists. 

447 Bush St., San Francisco, Calif., 415-956-3232,

Aria Hotel Budapest

True to its name, music is the aesthetic inspiration for this Hungarian haven. Its 44 rooms and five suites are each designed to evoke a beloved musician or piece or period of music, from the Franz Liszt studio to the Elvis Presley luxury room.

5 Hercegprimas St., Budapest 1051, Hungary, 212-201-1155 (New York sales office),

– Leah LeMoine



Just Back from… Oaxaca

Valley chefs share their culinary travels 

This month: Ross Simon of Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour

If tequila had a badass older brother who smoked, it would be mezcal. Until recently, this roasted agave rebel was hiding out in deepest Mexico with moonshine makers. Now he’s every bartender’s BFF, and he’s luring the booze-curious to Oaxaca, the colonial-meets-coastal core of the mezcal world.

Our favorite Scottish spirits sage, Ross Simon, just got back from a fact-finding mission. Here are his recommendations for Oaxacan watering holes:

Mezcalogia: Owned by a sixth-generation mezcalero, this mecca serves mezcal straight and in exotic cocktails. “It has a great selection and knowledgeable, fun staff that knows everything mezcal,” Simon says. Calle Manuel García Vigil 505, Centro, Oaxaca, +52 951 514 2734

El Destilado: This tapas restaurant and bar is “owned by a couple of ex-pats who really fell in love with the city of Oaxaca,” Simon says. “The inspiration and hospitality shine, while the food is some of the best in town.” 5 de Mayo 409, Oaxaca, +52 951 516 2226

La Biznaga“If you are looking to get your pulque fix while in town, this is a great spot,” Simon says, referencing Mexico’s oldest hooch, a milky, non-distilled agave liquor. “It’s served cold and fresh in a frosted glass.” Gral. Manuel García Vigil 512, Centro, Oaxaca, +52 951 516 1800

Can’t make it to Mexico? Taste the fruit of Simon’s travels in B&T’s Dr. Reyes, Dr. Reyes – a smoky, citrusy mix of mezcal and marmalade. 1 W. Jefferson St., Phoenix, 602-340-1924,

– Keridwen Cornelius



New Around Town: Bisbee

In the wake of its anointment as “America’s Best Historic Small Town” by USA Today, we thought it opportune to check in with our favorite funky Southern Arizona art colony.

Beast Brewing Company

Founded by New England transplants James and Amanda Gibson in the San Jose district south of Old Bisbee, this wily watering hole specializes in strong ales, double IPAs and other sturdy craft styles befitting the town’s rough-and-tumble history. Know it by the distinctive animal-skull handles in the taproom. 1326 W. Hwy. 92, Ste. 8, 520-284-5251,


Ana’s Seasonal Kitchen

Old Bisbee is crammed with quirky, tucked-away little eateries, including this Latin-inspired breakfast-and-lunch joint, which opened last year. Grab a breakfast burrito or blueberry pancakes and chill on the shaded back patio for a serene start to your day. 105 Main St., 520-353-4015

Sidepony Express Music Festival

Celebrating its 5th birthday in 2016, this three-day indie-eclectic music showcase is still kinda-sorta new – at least relative to the better known Bisbee Blues Festival. More than 80 bands will play at multiple venues November 11-13.


Mel’s Bisbee Bodega

No need to drive up the highway to Circle K now that this locally owned convenience store and tobacco shop has opened for business, located conveniently near Brewery Gulch. It will be your go-to place for aspirin after a night of tippling at St. Elmo. 27 Subway St., 520-249-6314

– Craig Outhier