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About Joe

Joe Brancatelli is a publications consultant who is best known in the travel industry as the former editor of Frequent Flyer magazine. But he was also the Travel Advisor of Travel Holiday magazine and a contributing editor to Travel & Leisure. He is the founder of
JoeSentMe.com, the noncommercial, all-volunteer website for business travel.

Insider Travel tips from Joe Brancatelli

Joe's Tips for Hong Kong

Joe's Tips for Honolulu, Hawaii

  • I stay at the Halekulani. The rooms are lovely, the food is wonderful, the staff is terrific. It's smack in the middle of the wildest part of Waikiki, yet it is literally designed to be a haven.
  • I just love Keo's. Branches come and go depending on the finances and the real-estate realities and the whim of the owner, Keo Sananikone. I prefer Keo's because I can't get Thai food like his anywhere else in America.
  • I say embrace Waikiki. Too many people go to Hawaii and try to get away from Waikiki. Me, I love it. It's Times Square with a beach--and everyone on the street is happy. How can you not like that?

Joe's Tips for London, United Kingdom

  • Location is SO important. It's not perfect, but the Langham is across from BBC House and the general manager brings in his own wines from his home region in France. So the restaurant is a treat. I always used to stay at the Hotel Victoria, which is attached to Victoria Station. But now that I use the Heathrow Express to come into town, I am anxiously awaiting the Paddington Hilton. And I still like Bailey's, which is right across the street from the Gloucester Road tube stop. And if I have to do business in Canary Wharf, you won't do better than the Four Seasons Canary Wharf.
  • I often just wander aimlessly into any Indian restaurant I can find. The joy is in the discovery. I could say the same thing for the Edgware Road. Just wander into any wonderful Middle Eastern place you can find. But if I want to take someone for a meal, and I want to be off the beaten track, I like Topkapi (25 Marylebone High Street). The Turkish food is good, not expensive, and tourists don't overrun the place.
  • I suggest folks begin paying attention to the shift of the town north. The Heathrow Express links Heathrow with Paddington in just 15 minutes. So I now find myself staying around Paddington more and more, which means getting used to life north of Hyde Park. It's very different from The City.

Joe's Tips for New York City, New York

  • When I can afford it, I stay at The Mark. It's homey and sophisticated at the same time. I also used to love staying at the Millennium Hilton at the World Trade Center. Great bargain for New York, with great views of the Harbor, a great restaurant that's never crowded.
  • The joy is the diversity. My favorite place for a business lunch is Jewel of India (77 West 44th). Got an amazing set-price lunch ($14) and a buffet, if you fancy that. It's centrally located near Grand Central and just at the edge of the Theater District. And you never need a reservation and it's quiet for discussion.
  • I beg people NOT to bring a car into Manhattan. And, now, I insist you go to Ground Zero. This place will be informing the view of the rest of our lives. How can you not go?

Joe's Tips for Rome, Italy

  • I now use an apartment in the Palazzo Olivia. It's on a tiny street. At one end of the street is the Piazza Navonna, the heart of the centro storico. At the other end of the street is the Via Vittorio Emanuele, one of the key streets of modern Rome. The apartments themselves are wonderful, the owner has just opened a nice restaurant downstairs, and you can't beat the location or the price.
  • I could go on forever about restaurants. But since I generally use an apartment rental, I have the luxury of a kitchen. So I often go to Volpetti (Via della Scrofa), which is what the Romans call a salsamentaria. You can get wonderful food to go (portare a via) and then I often augment it with a salad and a nice bottle of wine and a great loaf of bread. An amazing treat in a great restaurant town.
  • I honest to goodness say "Do as the Romans do." It takes a couple of days to get the sense and the rhythm of the city, but the payoff is wonderful. Rome is a place where you can simply ignore the rest of the world, but only if you try to make yourself a native.

Joe's Tips for San Francisco, California

  • San Francisco is a great hotel town. But, increasingly, I find myself gravitating to The Drisco, which is up in Pacific Heights. It's a converted apartment. There's a great breakfast room and the guest rooms are lovely. And the neighborhood is wonderful and generally free of tourists. And you can get an easy ride to the business district. And, by San Francisco standards, it's cheap. There are often rooms available through San Francisco Reservations, the consolidator, for about $160 a night. They are often worth twice that.
  • There are just so many places to eat. I would never entertain here, but when it's just me or I'm with a gastronomic pilgrim, I go to PPQ, a Vietnamese noodle/soup joint. Definitely down market, but the garlic noodles are heavenly. I generally end up at the branch on 2332 Clement.
  • Fly to Oakland. Ignore SFO whenever you can. Oakland is just easier to use and it's a quick BART ride under the Bay to San Francisco.
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