London is marking its territory with toilet-blocks turned restaurants. The newest, on the site of a late 19th century gents’, Restaurant Story, near the Tower Bridge and with views of the Shard, has the original porcelain urinals on display. And not far from Oxford Circus, overhead and intricately detailed cisterns remain at the Attendant cafe that’s underneath Foley Street. In the Middle East, Dubai’s Safa Park, public facilities last year opened as The Archive, an espresso bar and a library of Middle Eastern and North African art literature designed by Japanese architect Takeshi Maruyama. Just watch your potty mouth, vulgar language is strictly forbidden in the member state of the United Arab Emirates. See www.restaurantstory.co.uk.
PARIS BY TUK-TUK
Of all the ways to explore Paris, tuk-tuk must surely be one of the most romantic. From the back of the vintage Calessino Piaggio, an Italian design from the 1960s, or one of the more modern Thai-designed electric five-seaters, Paris by Tuk-Tuk owner Eric Perrier says the 2½-hour trips are a way of leaving the city's cliches behind, as well as negotiating narrow streets. The classical tour takes in the Eiffel Tower, Notre-Dame and Champs-Elysees, with a pit stop for mint tea at the Mosque of Paris or wine at a bar, while the Left Bank tour takes in St-Germain-des-Pres, place de Furstenberg, Jardin du Luxembourg gardens and the Latin Quarter. Perrier also recommends an outdoor market. "Our aim is to share the best of our city and to make you feel like a real Parisian for few hours," he says. See paris-by-tuktuk.com.
MALDIVIAN SNOOZE BUTTON
While a good night's sleep on holiday should be a given, Anantara Kihavah Villas in the Maldives has gone one better, offering a sophisticated version of the dinner, bath and bed ritual normally reserved to help little ones enter the Land of Nod. After an early dinner, a "slumber guru" will escort you to your villa for a milk bath by candlelight and a massage on the outside deck using lavender or ylang-ylang oils. Before lights out, herbal tea, hot chocolate and home-made biscuits are served in a bed with feather mattress topper, 1000-thread-count Egyptian cotton, and with eye masks and earplugs at the ready. What price sleep? The guru, $US236 ($257) a couple a night; rooms from $US1351 a night. See anantara.com.
LAKE COMO’S PERFECT PITCH
Hotel recorded music sets the tone of a stay and tunes mismatched to the surrounds - too loud or on endless loop - are sure to elicit complaints. One establishment intent on perfect pitch, the Grand Hotel Tremezzo on Lake Como, brought in experts Music Concierge to tailor tunes to the century-old hotel. By the lake and the pool it's Everybody Loves the Sunshine by Seu Jorge and Almaz; in the spa there are compositions by Italian pianist Ludovico Einaudi. At dinner be prepared to be serenaded by recordings of Carla Bruni and Andrea Bocelli. At the uber-cool W Hotels, from New York to Guangzhou, global music director Michaelangelo L'Acqua sets the tone with artists such as Cee Lo Green, Alicia Keys or Groove Armada on the universal playlist. See grandhoteltremezzo.com; starwoodhotels.com.