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White nights, green rooms and undiscovered beaches

A brave face: participants in Jillian McDonald's installation, Zombies in Condoland, at last year's Nuit Blanche in Toronto.

JENNIFER ROBERTS/jennifer roberts The Globe and Mail

White nights
Tonight's Scotiabank Nuit Blanche festival is a high point on Toronto's cultural calendar. With a giant balloon by Jeff Koons - and a project by Iain Baxter& that has local celebrities playing Monopoly with real money at the Toronto Stock Exchange - it's likely to match last year's attendance of close to a million people. But it's not the only show around. Tonight is also Nuit Blanche in Paris, arguably the granddaddy of all-night festivals, which has a huge lineup including Canadian installation audio artist Janet Cardiff. And when it's all over, the city of Paris is serving breakfast at City Hall. ;

(Very) green rooms Most hotels, despite those earnest notes asking you to reuse your bath towels, are not exactly sustainable businesses. So when a boutique hotel opens with solar panels, grey- and rainwater collection systems and boilers fuelled by woodchips, it's worth noting. The Scarlet Hotel is an attractive new 37-room boutique hotel in Cornwall, England, with a serious agenda of environmentally friendly features. If the water's a bit nippy this time of year, not to worry: The spa offers Ayurvedic treatments, the architecture and design are lovely, and the restaurant serves locally sourced venison.

High table As of this month, an airline is promising genuinely high-quality Indian meals, and it's… Lufthansa? The German airline (which serves seven destinations in India) enlisted two top chefs from the luxury Leela hotel chain, Farman Ali and Surender Mohan, to develop menus for first class and business class including a prawn curry masala and a fish curry from the southern city of Alleppey. Next time, you can say no thanks to the schnitzel.

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Beach combing With its civil war fading into history, Nicaragua is poised to enjoy some of the tourism that has been flowing into Costa Rica for decades. Like its southern neighbour, the country has gorgeous beaches, forests, mountains and two sea coasts - but for now it lacks what travel experts call "tourism infrastructure." That's changing with the arrival of small hotels such as Orquidea del Sur, facing the Pacific on Yankee Beach near the Costa Rica border. So book for this winter and join the surfers, before the developers and the all-inclusives show up.

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About the Author
Architecture critic

Alex Bozikovic is The Globe and Mail's architecture critic. His writing appears regularly in the Arts section and in the news pages. He is an author of Toronto Architecture: A City Guide (McClelland and Stewart, 2017). He has won a National Magazine Award and has also written for design publications such as Azure, Blueprint, Dwell, Spacing and Wallpaper. More

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