Too often on business trips, the end of a workday means room service and perhaps a drink at a nondescript hotel bar. But if you choose a hotel in the right place, you can greatly improve your entertainment options once your work is done. the good life's favorite spots for mixing pleasure with business:
Located in Sydney's business district, the Observatory Hotel is steps away from two of the city's most beautiful landmarks: the Opera House and the Harbor Bridge. This European-style hotel also offers a fun package: when your meetings are over, take a tour of the Sydney Observatory and it'll even let you name a star ($610; observatoryhotel.com.au).
In Paris, the intimate Hotel Daniel, a 19-room and seven-suite boutique hotel, serves every business need with Wi-Fi access throughout the hotel. "It's more cozy than a Hilton, with a very [Asian], colorful feel, like a house," says manager Cecile Croisard. But it's a house designed by noted London-based talent Tarfa Salam--and it's conveniently located on a quiet street behind the bustling Champs-Elysées and the Faubourg St-Honoré ($320; hoteldanielparis.com).
Business travelers to Dublin's Clarence hotel can not only work hard but also feel hip, especially if they run into the owners, U2's Bono and the Edge. The hotel is on a quiet street but right smack in the middle of the city's most active neighborhood, full of lively bars, restaurants and shops ($380; theclarence.ie ).
In Asia, we find it tough to beat the Mandarin Oriental chain. The Bangkok hotel, celebrating its 130th anniversary, offers its own exotic blend of business and pleasure: the Oriental suite comes with a 30-person meeting room, while the spa recently added the only Moroccan bath in Thailand ($350 and up; mandarinoriental.com).
Hot Spot: The Ledbury London
Tatler magazine declared this Notting Hill newcomer the "Restaurant of the Year 2006." Furthermore, it's earned a Michelin star and three AA rosettes. It's not hard to see why.
Ambience: The spacious corner room has dark-wood floors and floor-to-ceiling windows that let in plenty of natural light. Though it's right on the street, boxwood trees block prying eyes.
Entrees: The sea bass with pumpkin gnocchi, pumpkin puree and tiger prawns is an irresistible combination. We also loved the tender milk-fed lamb with creamed potatoes and truffle. Or, if you can't decide, try the tasting menu at £55 per head for a selection that includes tuna loin wrapped in basil and roast foie gras with fig puree.
Dessert to die for: If your sweet tooth gets the best of you, try the jasmine tea and milk-chocolate chantilly with baked banana and caramel. Or the chicory crème brûlée with coffee ice cream and chocolate madeleines. What a way to end it!
Wine list: A good majority of the more than 700 bottles on offer are French and Italian; the sommelier recommends the earthy 2001 Italian Langae Rossa Filli Cigliuti, with hints of chocolate, coffee beans and licorice, for £50 a bottle.
4 Hours In: Muscat
With the magnificent Grand Mosque at its center, the Omani capital exemplifies harmony in architecture and society.
Visit: Bait Al Zubair Museum to view traditional Omani weaponry, dress, household utensils, jewelry and other artifacts in what's probably the best cultural collection from all regions of Oman (As-Saidiyah Street).
Smell: like royalty by purchasing Amouage, among the world's most expensive perfumes. Or mix a personal scent from essential oils at one of the numerous perfumeries.
Wander: around the original city at the port of Mutrah, guarded by a magnificent fort. The early-morning fish market and the souk offer exotic souvenirs, including the only true frankincense.
Drink: cooled coconut water through a straw straight from the shell, or fresh fruit juice sold on the street. It's the best way to beat the heat.
Beauty: Beating Sunburn And Wrinkles
Everyone knows that sunscreen with a high sun-protection factor (SPF) blocks the ultraviolet rays (UVB) that cause sunburn. But the latest products also flaunt their protection against the ultraviolet rays (UVA) that cause aging. Both types can cause skin cancer. La Roche-Posay's new velvety-textured Anthelios XL Melt-in Cream SPF 50+ (£10.95; laroche-posay .com ) and Vichy's new hypoallergenic Capital Soleil Spray SPF 50+ (£12.95; vichy.com ) have ultrahigh UVA protection in the form of Mexoryl XL, a broad-spectrum UVA/B filter. Shiseido's new Refreshing Sun Protection Spray SPF 15 PA+ features a Dual Sun Protection System to deflect both kinds of UV rays (£18.50; shiseido.com ). And fair-skinned beach bunnies will love Bioderma's new fragrance-free Photoderm MAX SPF 50+ UVA 35 (£11; bioderma.com ). Bring on the sunshine.
Style: Show Us Your Bra
Most women try to cover up their pesky bra straps. Now two designer labels are making brassieres that are meant to be shown off. The Z-Bra Collection (from $80; z-bra-collection.com ) uses strands of faux pearls and beads instead of plain old bra straps. They're comfortable and look great with shoulderless tops. Women can change the straps like a pair of earrings to match their clothes. Spoylt Lingerie (from $127; spoylt.com ) offers bras with Swarovski crystal straps. Each comes with a matching camisole that can be worn in the boardroom (under a suit) or bedroom.
Adventure: Swimming the Savage Seas
Bored with swimming laps? Try open-water swimming. Known for island hopping, SwimTrek leads intrepid aquaphiles through more than a dozen venues, including Turkey, Greece, Australia and the fabled Hellespont. Treks typically cover five kilometers a day, with cultural stops--after a change to dry clothes (from $1,180; swimtrek.com). Elpis Travel & Tours in Cyprus operates an Aphrodite tour of the Mediterranean, with live concerts and plays at night (from $950; elpistravel.com ). If you want to swim solo around Cape Town, Cape Swim will provide you with a support boat and links to fellow swimmers (from $377; capeswim.com ). And you can practice with Art of Swimming classes off Malta, Egypt and St. Thomas. Owner Steven Shaw aims to get your stroke to "look more like an eagle and less like a chicken" ($1,462; artofswimming.com ).