Friday, April 15, 2011

Weekend Away With Savoir Faire

Ok, call me crazy, however I would like to visit several recognized hotspots around the world and most of them are in the Middle East. The desire comes not necessarily from a desire of danger and daily bombings. It has been born from the fact that before dictators, wars and internal strife ravaged these countries, they were popular tourist destinations for the jet -set and hippies alike. They are steeped in history, which goes back 1000’s of years, with a rich tapestry of culture, art and craft.
One place high on my list is Afghanistan and Kabul in particular. During the 1960’s Kabul developed a rather cosmopolitan atmosphere, which has since been decimated and lost due to various occupations and regimes. So if I was to travel to Kabul there is not much to select from in the range of accommodation. There is the old Intercontinental Hotel which was once a part of the Intercontinental Chain. It has commanding views over Kabul with an outdoor swimming pool which I guess would be highly unusual in Afghanistan. I am not sure about this one, while obviously it was the place when it opened in 1969; it has probably seen better days. My choice would then be The Serena Hotel Kabul opened in 2005. Originally built in 1945, the hotel has been completely refurbished and extended via the addition of an entire new wing. Reflecting the pure grace of classic Islamic architecture, the reincarnated hotel retains many of the key elements of the original, but has also been intuitively restyled so as to reflect the many historical influences that have been brought to bear on this 3,000 year-old city. I can also see influences of Frank Lloyd Wright in the building and the interiors. Part of the Serena Hotel Chain it is probably the best hotel in Kabul. Serena Hotels is a hotel chain that operates in Afghanistan, Kenya, Mozambique, Pakistan, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. It is one of 96 companies that make up the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED), the for-profit arm of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN). The prairie style of Lloyd Wright is highly evident in the low slung architecture and geometric shapes. Tied in with classic Islamic architecture, it is a modern contemporary take on both forms of architecture. Interiors use traditional Islamic motifs in decorations that almost take on an Art Deco feel, without being pretentious. Rich earth like tones combine with natural woods and light to create very stylised interiors. Unusually the hotel has a large terrace palazzo area with superbly manicured shrubs and trees that make arriving at this hotel seem like a welcome relief from what must be the rather dusty and ramshackle streets of Kabul. So, if I ever make it to Kabul this is where I would like to stay. Hopefully the country will begin to stabilize as I can imagine the investment in tourism would benefit the economy markedly.


  1. The prairie style looks so different in this context! I hope we see peace in our lifetime in this area as well.

  2. I traveled alone to Afghanistan in 1973...yes I was one of those hippies going overland to India...those were the best days. I stayed in the local hotels...lovely places with green courtyards and large airy rooms. It was like a trip back in time...horses thundering down the streets and few women in sight. I created quite a sensation with my long blonde hair and western clothes. It felt dangerous then....and I'm sure it feels dangerous now.....

  3. I hope you get your holiday in quieter times. I suppose these hotels are today mostly filled by journalists.

  4. Frank Lloyd Wright prairie style in Kabul...who knew?
    David, great post!

  5. Hello:
    It is a great pity that so many countries of interest have been affected by war and devastation with, of course, a huge loss to the economy with the disappearance of tourists.
    The Middle East is, in so many respects, the seat of civilisation that one can only hope and pray for greater stability to come to the region, bringing with it a much needed rebirth.

    We were interested to note the comparisons you make between the architecture of the Serena Hotel and the work of Lloyd Wright. A fascinating post.

  6. ===============================================

    You work so much !
    Incredible !

    So ...go go go there !
    And bring back some new wonderful photographs !

    I also liked the post of the DS ...

    Have a Magical New Week end !
    Kiss_kiss !

  7. umm...well, you have fun out there in Kabul. I'm sure it's wonderful...but uh..I think I'll pass for now.

    Send us a postcard.

  8. One of my friends is something of a guerrilla journalist; he recently flew to Libya on a whim and has been creating video updates

    If you decide to ever follow through on your Kabul designs, I'll connect the two of you

    Nice post,


  9. chocolate, vanilla, strawberry....everyone has their flavor.

    i'll stay put.

  10. It would have been the last place in the world that I would have thought going to! But it is good to know there is somewhere decent to stay, ann on second thoughts I guess one could find quite more interesting characters at the bar than in most of places nowadays.
    Thanks for the tip :)

  11. I love the second photo!!

    Great weekend!

  12. Great and amazing places. Wow. I would like to be on all of them. ;)


  13. I go to Rimini next week!
    And I want to visit Venice for one or two days too.

  14. well, as i see it, i'm get bombed every day at work at the moment, so might as well go away somewhere exotic and still get bombed!

    ok, maybe not. but i do see the appeal in these places.


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