Hotels preach to the converted

Converted hotels are catching on, according to, which has released a list of the world's best hotels in buildings once used for other purposes.

The No.1 spot goes to Prague's Mandarin Oriental, housed in a converted Dominican monastery from the 14th century.

Others on the list include the Liberty Hotel in Boston, formerly the Charles Street Jail, where the nightclub is in the old drunk tank; La Purificadora in Puebla, Mexico, which was an 1884 ice factory; and Singapore's Wanderlust Hotel in a schoolhouse in the Little India district. Each of the floors of the four-storey Wanderlust has a different theme, ranging from industrial glam to eccentricity to black and white. attributes the popularity of converted hotels to their unique architectural features, sense of history and community and their positions, often in the up-and-coming warehouse districts or newly fashionable city neighbourhoods.

Good life on the Farm

The New Zealand lodge The Farm at Cape Kidnappers, Hawkes Bay, is cooking up a treat with two celebrity chef weekends.

Tetsuya Wakuda is holding court on the first weekend, August 17-19, and Kiwi chef Peter Gordon moves into the kitchen on September 1. The Whanganui-born Gordon has three award-winning restaurants in London: the Providores, Tapa Room and Kopapa.

Each chef will prepare a degustation dinner and Gordon will also conduct a one-hour cooking demonstration. The weekends also involve cocktail receptions and matched wines from Neudorf and Dry River.

Guests will have time for a free 50-minute massage or an unlimited day of golf without green fees.

The Tetsuya weekend costs $NZ2010 ($1578) a person a night, twin share; the Gordon weekend costs $NZ920.


Far East in London

The Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park is putting a different spin on the London Olympics by offering guests a ride in the hotel's red rickshaw and a luxury picnic for two in Hyde Park.

If guests aren't interested in the marathon swimming at The Serpentine in Hyde Park and other events in the area, they can point their rickshaw to the boutiques of nearby Knightsbridge.

The hotel's rickshaw experience costs from £850 ($1312) a night, twin share, and includes rickshaw, picnic, English breakfast and one night's accommodation.