Category Archive for Art + Design

Sofitel Luang Prabang review: Laos luxury hotel! 3 Nagas restaurant, Black Friday grunge goth punk fashion.

luxury hotel Sofitel Luang Prabang

Ah, take us back to Laos! The laid-back, Buddhist country stole a piece of our hearts when my friends and I visited in September.

Staying at Sofitel Luang Prabang hotel made our trip particularly memorable. As you can see from the images, this property is a Southeast Asian tropical daydream.

Hôtel Sofitel Luang Prabang

In this final story from Luang Prabang, we’ll take you through Sofitel’s lush gardens —  as well as sister property 3 Nagas by MGallery. Fair warning: you might feel hungry when you see the river-fresh Laotian food we ate.

i am gia goth punk fashion

But first, since it’s Black Friday (Nov 23), I thought I’d share some finds that caught my eye. I Am Gia has Goth grunge punk clothes that are currently on sale for Cyber Monday.

(1) Their amazing one-sleeve bodysuit is apocalypse sci-fi ready.
(2) Love the plaid tartan and silver chain of Gia’s skirt.
(3) And how great is this leopard print coat:  reminds me of the one Shirley Manson of the band Garbage wore in the 90s!

Click the thumbnails for more of my I Am Gia picks:

nightmare before christmas bomber jacket coat

It’s almost the Nightmare Before Christmas, and these Goth clothes are on sale right now as well.

Love this Jack Skellington bomber jacket, this Gothic Xmas long sleeved dress, and epic skull sweater.

More skeleton designs below; click to view:

blogger closet sale selling wardrobe depop

I’m also offering Black Friday reductions on my closet sale! Just listed new items from my wardrobe, and happy to do bundles and discounts.

You can shop my Depop @lacarmina (or Google “La Carmina Depop” to find my shop). If you prefer, you can contact me by email (gothiccarmina attt gmail dott com) to do a sale, instead of using the app.

spa Hotel Sofitel Luang Prabang, Laos

Yukiro and I wore dresses with decadent accents to match the stately French design of Sofitel Luang Prabang.

OOTD: My dress is Cyberdog, and I’m holding a UV-protecting parasol by Boy1904 Umbrellas.  My shoes are these platform sandals by Rocket Dog, and my black lace capelet is Pheren Couture.


The Sofitel is located in Ban Mano, a peaceful residential quarter of Luang Prabang. The grounds are a fusion of Laotian materials with colonial-meets-contemporary French design. How inviting are these colorful pillows and lounge seats by the swimming pool?

sofitel luang prabang reviews

The inner courtyard features a lush pond with floating lilies, framed by palm trees and tropical flowers. We dared to do acrobatics on the stepping stones across.

(Photos by Julie Hunter)

bedrooms sofitel hotel luang prabang rooms

Sofitel Luang Prabang has rooms fit for royal queens. The suites feature five-metre-high ceilings, and open up to a private garden / patio, or personal swimming pool.

These modern rooms have an old-world nostalgia: traditional art on the walls, and a four column carved poster-bed shaded by mosquito netting.

luang prabang laos luxury resorts

The clay-roofed villas are outfitted with every luxury — yet you feel as if you’re nestled in the quiet countryside of Laos.

laos lounge swimming pool hotel

Luang Prabang is frequently described as a “sleepy” city, giving travellers a chance to slow down and focus on wellness. At Sofitel’s Le Spa, we indulged in ancient Laotian massages, where the ladies climbed up and used their elbows to work out all our kinks. The hotel also offers free essential oil baths, delivered right to your room.

garden suite pool villa sofitel luang prabang

Now this is how to enjoy life: lounge around, eat apples, and brew lemongrass and roselle tea!

Love how the Sofitel incorporates regional hand-woven textiles, pillows, pottery and antiques in each room.

breakfast buffet sofitel laos

Every morning, we feasted on the breakfast spread overlooking the pool and gardens. The pots hold sticky rice, stewed fish, vegetable noodles, and other local specialties.

laos rice rolls noodle soup

Sofitel Luang Prabang’s breakfast menu includes items made fresh to order: such as Indochina noodles in soup, and pork rice rolls. You can also choose from the international spread (croissants, yogurt, cheese, pancakes, eggs cooked in any way.)

laos instrument xylophone

The hotel honors Laotian culture through art displays and events. Guests can also take part in the morning alms ceremony, where locals offer food to a procession of saffron-robed Buddhist monks. 

poolside cocktails bar luang prabang

It’s hot and humid in Laos… this 25-metre mosaic-tiled pool is calling us in for a dip.

luxury accommodations luangprabang

Luang Prabang’s Old Town is only a 5 minute drive away, so the hotel is in the perfect spot for cultural explorations. (You can see the heritage city and temples in our first post about Laos.)

5 star Sofitel Luang Prabang

Sofitel Hotel Luang Prabang was once a century-old colonial mansion. It was transformed into a resort in 2010, but retains the elegant manicured gardens and amethyst tiles.

laos luxury travel vacations

“Step by step, oh, baby, gonna get to you, girl.” I think you can tell we had a grand time at Sofitel! (They’re one of my favorite hotel groups; I’ve stayed with them in Rio and Bangkok as well.)

Governor's Grill restaurant Sofitel Luang Prabang

One evening, we ate dinner at Governor’s Grill. The hotel’s steakhouse brings traditional Lao spices and flavors together with Western specialties. The cocktails, made with coconut and fresh fruit, were the perfect start — along with creamy pumpkin ginger soup. 

buffalo tasting menu larb laos

Then came this impressive buffalo tasting platter! The board was piled high with local buffalo prepared in different ways: steaks, kebabs with vegetables, Laotian larb (minced meat salad) and more.

chocolate shaped shoe high heels dessert

We hardly had room to eat the chocolate shoe with tropical fruits for dessert.

(The hotel also offers a four-course cooking class with the chefs. Guests get to visit a local market and then learn how to prepare authentic Lao fare).

3 Nagas Luang Prabang - MGallery by sofite

On another night, we checked out their other Luang Prabang property: 3 Nagas, an MGallery by Sofitel hotel.

“Naga” refers to a serpent or snake in Sanskrit, and reflects the mythical feeling of these boutique accomodations. There are 15 rooms in three restored historical houses, blending contemporary style with traditional architecture.

3 nagas boutique hotel laos

The colonial manors are furnished with dark woods, warm throws and spiral staircases. You can either sleep in Lamache House (once an ice cream shop to the royal palace) or Khamboua House (built for the king’s counsellor in 1903).

boutique art design hotel luang prabang 3 nagas

Red decorative accents add to the warmth of 3 Nagas. Guests can stroll in the courtyard garden, and rent one of the matching bicycles. This hotel is right in the city center, so it’s easy to see the Night Market, galleries and temples.

3 nagas restaurant tasting menu dinner

Parked outside, this vintage red automobile hints at the classic food served at 3 Nagas Restaurant and Bar. Try the tasting menu, which gives you a broad selection of Laotian favorites.

traditional laos food luang prabang

After a rice cake amuse bouche, we ate up this deep fried Mekong river weed, served with sesame seeds and homemade jam. Then came this generous platter with a variety of local dishes, paired with the famous sticky rice.

luang prabang fine dining restaurants

I spy Tom Son Pla (Mekong river fish soup with lemongrass and vegetables), Phanaeng chicken curry, stir fried beef, and steamed egg with mushrooms and herbs wrapped in banana leaves. We were surprised at how much we loved the cone of sticky rice, which is not sweet and goes perfectly.

3 nagas restaurant review dessert

We couldn’t resist getting dessert from the old-time parlor. Coconut, mango and roselle ice cream.. plus custom passionfruit ginger cocktails. A meal to remember.

weird funny strange luang prabang

Khop tchaï laï laï (thank you very much) to the kind Sofitel staff for welcoming us! We’re so happy we stayed at this elegant hotel, known as one of the most luxurious in Laos. 

I hope you’ll get a chance to visit as well. You can learn more on Sofitel Luang Prabang’s Facebook page and Instagram @SofitelLuangPrabang.

luxury hotels luang prabang

Isn’t the Sofitel Luang Prabang straight out a dream? Until next time, Laos.

(PS – a reminder that there are Black Friday sales going on right now, including the alternative styles below. Have fun!)


Park Hotel Tokyo: Japanese artist rooms & design hotel! Synthwave Japan parties, Office Goth meeting.

the reformation nellie black dress fashion blogger

Meet me in my fishbowl… So happy to be back in the uplifting Japanese art hotel, Park Hotel Tokyo!

As you’ll see in this photo diary, Park Hotel is full of inspiration. In addition to galleries, an entire level of consists of “Artist Rooms” decorated from floor to ceiling in breathtaking designs.

(I’m wearing this Nellie dress by The Reformation. Click the images below for more from the eco-designer:)

keroppy maeda tokyo japan body modifications

Plus, we brought back the “Corporate Goth Boardroom Meeting”! Read on for Tokyo Gothic shenanigans involving body modifications, scandalous Sailor Moon tattoos, and copious amounts of absinthe with yuzu.

park hotel tokyo blogger influencer window seat

You may remember that I stayed with Park Hotel Tokyo in 2016. I fell in love with this view, and was keen to return on my recent trip to Japan (where the Pirates were working on a German travel TV show, with me as host).

Park Hotel is well-located in Shiodome, not far from Ginza and Tokyo Tower. In 2013, the hotel underwent a revamp that put the focus on Japanese beauty and design.

geisha goldfish room park hotel

The team runs an “Artist in Hotel” residency, which invites Japanese artists to stay in a room and turn it into a work of art. They paint directly on the walls and fixtures; the space becomes a 3D canvas for expression. Although the artist rooms each have very different styles, they are linked by a Japanese sense of aesthetics, with themes like “Sumo” and “Zen”.

tokyo art hotels, luxury design hotels

Guests can request to stay in a specific artist room as long as its available (see the different interiors on Park Hotel’s website). This time, I wanted to be One with the puffy-cheeked fish in Aki Narita’s “Geisha Goldfish” queen room! 

While she was staying in this room, the artist felt as if she were in an aquarium. Over the course of seven months, Aki Narita covered the wallpaper and ceilings with vermilion goldfish, and traditionally dressed geishas. Lying on the bed and gazing at the art, I felt as if I were floating in water with them. 

ark hotel themed artist rooms japanese

Dreaming of goldfish was considered lucky in ancient Japan — and I certainly had happy, lucid dreams while staying in Park Hotel.

All of the Artist Rooms are on the 31th floor, along with this Gallery Lounge. Guests can sit by the big windows and enjoy pastries and drinks, while flipping through the wide selection of art books.

japanese theme hotels tokyo

We got to peek inside some of the other Artist in Hotel creations. It was astonishing to see the wide range of styles and works: there were rooms themed around nature, yokai (Japanese ghosts and monsters), cats, castles, and more.

Above is a detail from the Mount Fuji room by Shiki Taira. The entrance is fashioned like a red Shinto torii gate, with gods flying around the sky above the famous mountain. On the other wall, seven lucky gods relax on a treasure ship. The theme is linked to the panoramic view out the window; on a clear day, you can see the peak of Fuji-san in the distance.

tokyo park hotel artist residence residency

The works at Park Hotel are never static. One evening, I was delighted to see an artist painting Japanese women in Edo-style kimono, right outside the my door! This is Aki Narita, who also designed my Geisha Goldfish room.

She and Yoko Naito had a joint exhibition at the hotel, called “At the Bottom of a Well.” The two artists transformed the 25th-floor atrium into a well in the sky. (Park Hotel holds four art exhibitions a year, to complement the seasons.)

art exhibitions park hotel japan

As we walked around Park Hotel, we felt as if we were in a modern art museum. Sculptures fill the airy lobby, as well as the 31st floor and 34th top floor gallery.

space cats painting art collage

An Art Concierge helps guests learn about local exhibitions and the current displays at the hotel. (Cats in space – love it.)

breakfast buffet park hotel tokyo restaurants

Park Hotel Tokyo is designed by French architect Frederic Thomas. The building has a contemporary Zen feel, with plenty of greenery. In his words, the interiors aim to create “harmony between the culture and nature of the surroundings.”

Every morning, we devoured a Japanese buffet breakfast (grilled salmon, gobo, hijiki, chawanmushi) in this peaceful lounge, featuring dark woods and gold accents.

tokyo japan handicrafts purses

The lobby is located on the 25th floor. A glass atrium soars high above it, bringing in natural light and allowing guests to experience the passage of time.

japanese traditional dolls ningyo

I enjoyed browsing the cases filled with dolls, purses, handicrafts, sculptures and other works (available for sale) by the resident artists.

If you love Japanese aesthetics and culture, Park Hotel is the place to be. With five-star hospitality and inspiring art throughout, there’s no hotel as special as this in Tokyo.

killstar madelyn sun dress sundress

Now, down to serious business…. Your evil bosses held an Office Goth “team meeting” in the boardroom of Park Hotel! 

(My dress is Killstar, and my shoes are these platform sandals by Rocket Dog.)

yuzu liqueur tokyo japanese citrus alcohol

Park Hotel has a takeover-worthy board room, measuring 450 square feet. The space features a large table with chairs, soaring view, projector and screen (which we used to broadcast synthwave music and outrun projections!)

The hotel can provide refreshments, but we brought our own… Can you spot the yuzu citrus liqueur, and absinthe from Oregon? 

corporate goth office goth meeting

You may recall that we’ve hosted a few gatherings in meeting rooms, including our “corporate gothic” Shinjuku party.

In Tokyo, it’s expensive to rent out a restaurant or event space. However, business culture is big here, so there are a lot of boardrooms… Why not use one for a few hours, to discuss important Gothic matters?

tokyo goth tattoos, gothic tattoo

The “Office Goth” meeting started off with role call, and individual presentations. Atsushi displayed his new ouroboros snake tattoos. Yukiro held up his flyer for his regular Majyo (Witch) party with DJ Sisen, and Lauren told us about her upcoming performances with her band Rough Antique.

magnet implant body modification japan

Keroppy Maeda (who you may remember from our Bagelheads adventures) demonstrated his latest body modifications. He now has a magnet implanted in his hand, which lets him dangle a spoon from his palm, and move magnetic objects around like a Jedi master.

office goth clothes corporate gothic clothing

Yukiro and I reviewed our quarterly projections. Miffy and a pentagram soon appeared on the whiteboard (this is an Office Goth meeting, after all).

gothic culture academic conference

Becky and Naomi then staged a takeover, demonstrating their superior drawing skills.

business goth presentation workwear

The discussion got heated at times… Good thing we had refreshments and darksynth music to keep us going strong.

sailor moon dark moon crescent tattoo forehead

Love this view of Tokyo at night, from our perch high above the city. (My dark moon crescent sticker is by Capumon).

temporary tattoos face

Everyone joined the moon cult, and put these temporary tattoos on their foreheads. (Some forgot to wash the crescent off, and went to work the next day with it still attached!)

funny tattoos sailor moon

Certain team members found… more scandalous places to affix their Capumon black moon tattoos! They used ice to apply them for added pain and pleasure.

synthwave tokyo japan outrun retrowave

“Dark Moon crystal power, make up.” I think we’ve achieved Goth Sailor Moon squad goals.

japan crazy party

Thumbs up or down for the tattoo placement? I think the reaction is mixed!

goth culture conference meeting

Very happy to see old friends again, whenever I’m in Tokyo. Everyone is so creative — werking drag shows, performing in bands, illustrating web comics, writing books.

japanese goth hair side shaved undercut

I spy Joy Division, fetish collars, undercuts and pentagrams. Don’t stare into the eyes of the Medusa for too long…

tokyo japan board room rental

Let’s just say that things got pretty crazy by the end of the night… Our Office Goth boardroom parties are simply the best!

park hotel jomon room

When the meeting adjourned, the Park Hotel staff let us survey a few more Artist Rooms. Somehow, everyone fit on the bed in Daisuke Kagawa’s Jomon room.

We were awed by his paintings, which reflect the Japanese earthenware and people of this prehistoric period.

wabi sabi artist room park hotel japan

Time for a thoughtful pose in the Wabi-Sabi room by Conami Hara. She combined landscapes with sulfur-reacted silver foil, resulting in these shimmering rainbow colors on all the walls.

japanese art hotels rooms

How many Goths can you fit on a bed? As we demonstrate, the hotel rooms are quite spacious by Japanese standards.

tokyo design hip hotels

No matter how many times you return to Park Hotel Tokyo, your stay feels unique thanks to these stunning Artist Rooms. You can see more photos from inside these decorated rooms, in my review post from 2016.

tokyo tower night view park hotel

A massive thank you to Park Hotel Tokyofor welcoming us back to your sublime accommodations. I’ll certainly be booking a room here again — can’t get enough of this view of Tokyo Tower.

japanese doll figurine dolls

Have you stayed in an art hotel before? Isn’t the range of Japanese designs here inspiring?

goth slumber party gothic sleepover

Til our next Office Goth meeting, or slumber party… Tokyo spooks, see you again soon!