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One of the tastiest sights (and sounds) of summer is the ice cream van. But did you ever wonder how this tried and true classic has evolved over the years?
In Britain, ice cream vans mean summer. They are synonymous with childhood and bygone days of bicycles and water balloon fights. Always heard before they were seen, their chimes heralded relief from the summer sun in the saccharine-sweet tunes of some song you knew well, but didn’t know where from …
Thanks to Van Monster for providing such a fun and tasty infographic to share!
A (somewhat belated) happy birthday to Bird of Smithfield and cheers for the brilliant self-hosted bday par-tay! I had a blast and loved exploring your multiple floors of foodie fun – especially hanging out at your Veuve Clicquot roof terrace taking in the views of Smithfield Market and Clerkenwell.
I’m a little embarrassed to admit I missed the takeoff two years back and that it’s taken me all this time to make it round for a peck of something yummy at Bird. Boy, have I been missing out!
It’s a keen space. Yes, the terrace is lovely on a warm evening. But the private dining room is special too. I loved the mid century modern elements with a splash of quirky accouterments. Still, it was the food and drink that has me hankering for a return. Luckily enough, I’ve got a foodie friend throwing her own birthday bash soon at Bird. A repeat is fast approaching! Woo hoo. Making up for lost time!
Chef Owner Alan Bird does a whiz-bang job serving down to earth but scrumptious dishes. Nibbles such as crispy monkfish cheeks with spiced tartar sauce really do it for as. Same can be said for Cornish crab with pearl barley, parsley and brandy cream. Fancy a steak? The restaurant’s right across the street from the city’s age old meat market.
While at the shindig I slipped in on a wine pairing hosted by The Knotted Vine, new “young and dynamic London based wine importers” from just round the corner at Cow Cross Street “dedicated to working exclusively with hands on, quality driven winemakers from across the globe.” From what I’ve tasted, the fellows are importing some fine quaffs indeed.
Bird of Smithfield is located at 26 Smithfield Street, EC1A 9LB. Find out more at birdofsmithfield.com.
Recipe kit delivery service, Marley Spoon, came knocking at my door recently with a couple of ready-to-cook meals for me to try. It was all yummy stuff, healthy too, and really easy to prepare. I was impressed with the service and the quality of the food. If you’re short on time but keen to have a home cooked meal, give ‘em serious consideration.
Marley Spoon “removes the hassle of grocery shopping and the problem of food waste, so that cooking a delicious meal at home no longer has to be a cumbersome chore.”
I’ve seen a number of services similar to Marley Spoon come and go over the past few years. Most never really seem to take off or simply fizzle out in one way or another. Judging from my Marley Spoon experience though, I reckon it’s got what it takes to last.
Recipes are updated weekly with chefs creating seven new dishes for customers to try. The week I tried the service, I enjoyed a halloumi-rific “Flavour Bomb” salad and a classic kedgeree with green asparagus. Instructions were straightforward. Cooking time was pretty short. Results were attractively presentable and delish. Clean up wasn’t any worse than after any typical meal.
I especially liked how the Flavour Bomb, which came with chorizo, could be adapted for my girlfriend and I. She doesn’t eat meat – but loves halloumi. Me, I devour whatever’s plated in front of me and adore chorizo. So she got some extra cheese with her dish while I cooked mine up separately with all the meat. As for the kedgeree, the asparagus was a really nice touch, and I was impressed with how fresh and flavourful the asparagus was.
At the moment for the next few weeks, Marley Spoon is featuring recipes from a “new generation of tastemakers” including Becca Johns of Amuse Your Bouche; Dannii Martin of Hungry Healthy Happy; Jessica Simmons of Nourishing Jessica; Karen Booth of Lavender & Lovage; and acclaimed cookbook author, BBC 4’s Today contributor, and YouTube sensation Donal Skehan.
Marley Spoon delivers “to most of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, with the exception of remote regions.” Prices start at £5.50 per meal. Given quantity, quality of ingredients and how tasty the results were, I’d say that’s good value.
Find out more at marleyspoon.co.uk.
Londoners who enjoy the charm of boutique shopping and the excellence of world-renown brands will appreciate Seven Dials in Covent Garden. At its bi-annual shopping event this May, over two-hundred stores came out in force to offer discounts, freebies, tasters, and try-ons. Here’s a little sampling of what went on, compliments of Maddie Salters, along with some of her picks, recommendations, and favourites, to wet your appetite until their next event.
The seven streets of independent British storefronts and internationally recognised labels that make up the Seven Dials offer an array of options, whether you’re looking to window shop, relax and mange on an outdoor terrace, spruce up at a salon, or get a jump on the season’s latest trends. It includes some of the most scenic consumer spaces in London, from the cobbled walks studded in coffee go-tos along Monmouth Street, to the sporty wears in brick buildings along Earlham Street. The Seven Dials shopping event, taking place once a year in December (to cover last-minute Christmas shoppers) and once in May to welcome the spring, has a feeling of community and pageantry that ties together its diverse walks and invites London out to socialise while they spree.
A highlight of the experience was the number of wide open spaces available for public use. Both at St Martin’s Courtyard, and at the Seven Dials’ central park, food trucks were out in force, buskers were keeping the mood up, lawn chairs and outdoor games kept families amused and relaxed. Any time marathon shopping is involved, a key is knowing there’s a spot where you can sit down, regroup, and take a breather. These areas, serviced with free drinks by local restaurants and cafes for the event (not to mention some icy-cool, seriously delicious tea-infused cocktails by King Bloom; edible glitter, vodka, and coconut served in a jam jar, anyone?) managed to be both relaxed and re-energising. The perfect spot for organising a plan of attack, and taking breaks in between exploring shops.
As for the event itself, highlights included May trend talks, held in a VIP teepee by the Senior Style Director of Elle Magazine and Esquire Magazine. Open to the public, the talks went over the season’s designer highlights, and Q&As allowed shoppers to get an intimate look of what’s on-point for the months to come directly from celebrated stylists.
20% discounts across participating stores, manicures at Pretty Ballerinas, fragrance consultations at Miller Harris, and free makeup tutorials at Shu Uemura were a few of the extra perks that put a spring in my step. I also appreciated the charitable nature of the event: Seven Dials tote bags, being sold along the streets, donated shopper’s funds to the charity Dragon Hall – and everyone really got into the spirit of donating!
Lastly, I loved the vibe of the event. If Seven Dials wasn’t already enchanting enough, a fairytale illustration with a rare tranquility to it in comparison to most of London’s retail havens, then the gutsy vibe of the May event only added to the allure. Music, cheerful people milling about, everyone willing to stop and have a chat: it was like one cool, laid back party, where everyone had on a good pair of shoes.
Don’t worry if you missed out – look for their next event this December, and pay them a summery visit in the meantime.
Find out more at sevendials.co.uk.
Looking for something to spice up the summer? How about a couple of jars of instant yum? I’m offering one lucky reader the chance to win two new palate pleasing and oh-so aromatic chilli relishes from That Hungry Chef.
So, back in the early days of spring, I headed to north Islington for a fantastic night discovering the culinary talents and gracious hosting of husband and wife team Pratap and Nikhat Chahal, who together organise a supremely inviting supper club called That Hungry Chef.
Chef Pratap boasts an impressive CV, having worked in the kitchens of Gordon Ramsay Claridge’s, Chez Bruce, Cinnamon Club, The Orrery, Galvin Bistrot and The Peasant, while front of house Nikhat comes from a career in child psychology (a perfect background for handling dining patrons?). When not hosting their club, they cater private events and make a range of Mojo Risin’ chilli sauces, relishes, and pickles.
In delicious addition to enjoying Chef Pratap’s amazing restaurant quality/home cooked feast, a highlight of that evening was getting to sample his Mojo Risin’ aromatic chilli relishes.
Now – just in time for your summer BBQs and picnics – That Hungry Chef has launched two new additions to the already popular range of relishes. There’s the rich and sticky Sweet Tomato & Chilli Relish and a Mild Chilli & Herb Relish with a “cool heat” kick to it. Both make magnificent marinades for grilling or roasting meat, fish or veggies. They’re great for dips too.
Craving a taste?
To be in with a chance to win the two new Mojo Risin’ chilli relishes from That Hungry Chef, simply tweet the following:
Good luck. Please take a moment to read the terms and conditions before tweeting!
I’ll pick one winner at random on Monday 1 June at 11.30am BST. The winner will receive a one 100g jar each of That Hungry Chef’s two new relishes: Sweet Tomato & Chilli Relish and Mild Herb & Chilli Relish. To be eligible to win, you need to have an address in the UK where the prize can be posted. Good luck.
That Hungry Chef’s Complete Line of Products
Products currently available from That Hungry Chef include that following:
The Mojo Risin’ range (110g portions in glass jars)
- Green Chilli Relish
- Red Chilli Relish
- Smokey Chilli Relish
The Mojo Risin’ range (100g portions in glass jars)
- Sweet Tomato & Chilli Relish
- Mild Herb & Chilli Relish
The Curious Pickle Collection (200g portions in glass jars)
- Achari Beef
- Pork Vindaloo
Shop online, book a spot at the next supper club, and find out more at thathungrychef.com.
With summer fast approaching, we all have frozen treats on the brain. If you’re looking for something that packs a more flavourful punch than off-the-truck lollies, with more glam than you’ll find in typical soft serve, then Godiva has you covered. Maddie Salters visited Godiva’s Regent Street location for the re-launch of its ice cream trio, to get the low down on what’s a must-try.
The Godiva flagship store is an oasis of calm on the busy shopping street. Even packed to the nines for the re-launch of their spring and summer lineup, the store’s effortlessly chic, clean feel, bolstered by friendly staff and floor-length windows that let the sun shine through, made me feel at home right away – if my living room happened to house an impressive collection of truffles, that is.
Although old staples like Godiva’s chocolate covered strawberries and icy Chocolixir drinks were temptingly on display, the soft cream was the main star of the event. Their flavours, which include Chocolate, Vanilla, and Swirl, are especially appealing for real chocolate connoisseurs. The Vanilla option is bolstered by creamy white chocolate, which gives the ice cream a finer texture and deeper taste, while the chocolate variety contains 72% dark chocolate. Along with being calorie-conscious, this makes for a chocolate ice cream that’s light and deliciously in line with what chocolate should taste like, with the cocoa notes overtaking the tang of the sugar. It’s sweet, but it tastes like the genuine article. As for the the Swirl? It’s the best of both worlds, speaking from personal experience– I’d pick it every time.
Most exciting for me was that Godiva had set up a dressing station for our cups and cones. Like an old-time candy parlour, waiters in pastel aprons and pin stripes handed out our ice cream of choice, and then we popped over to accessorise it with a mountain of toppings. Chocolate syrup, chocolate flakes, and hazelnut crumb were all on offer, but my recommendation would be to go with the Crispy Pearls in dark chocolate. Along with being a Godiva exclusive, their light crunch balances out the custard-like consistency of the ice cream out well.
Because I can’t help but mention the Chocolixers, if you’re more in the mood for a milkshake than a cone when you pop in, then the Iced Dark Chocolate Raspberry Chocolixir won’t steer you wrong. Belgian chocolate blended with raspberry jam and vanilla whipped cream: yes, please. (They also come in milk chocolate, white chocolate, and hazelnut varieties.)
As ever, dark chocolate goes well with bubbly drinks, and the sweet rosé provided by Bluebell Sussex was a nice surprise. A thoroughly English brand, it really pulled together the feeling of the launch being a London affair: energy and elegance with a gourmet touch.
A cone at Godiva will run you £4.50 – and even that can be accessorised, with a chocolate-dipped waffle cone and an embellished Godiva square. (Why not?)
If your head isn’t already spinning with ice cream dreams, keep in mind they have a Twitter and Instagram competition coming up, win some refreshing treats!
Visit Godiva Regent Street at 141 Regent Street, W1B 4JA or look up your nearest location online at godivachocolates.co.uk. Follow @godivauk on Twitter and Instagram to be kept up-to-date with their competition news.
A recent and delicious visit to Sicily was made all the more juicy, fruitful and scenic with the Agromobile app.
Agromobile is a website and a free to download app sharing food and wine related itineraries in Sicily. Interested “land food,” “seafood” or the “nectar of the gods?” That’s how Agromobile divvies up its itineraries with practical suggestions grounded with a local perspective to help visitors make of their time on the island.
The gardening event of the year opens to the public today. Before you head to 2015’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show, have a look at these not-to-be-missed highlights.
I dropped by the show yesterday for the press/VIP preview. I skedaddled before I could get to any big game celeb and royalty spotting but managed to see most of what’s in store for the inevitable throngs of garden enthusiasts soon to swarm the gracious grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea. Here’s a quick look at what I enjoyed most:
The M&G Garden 2015 – The Retreat
Beyond doubt, the exhibition garden that impressed most (and had me coming back twice to view) was Jo Thompson’s The Retreat with its “two-storey oak framed building inspired by the writing room of poet Vita Sackville-West at Sissinghurst Castle, a large natural swimming pond edged with water-loving plants, a woodland of river birches, acacias and acers, and a garden with tumbling roses and peonies in a palette of greens, punctuated by soft pinks, lavender blues and creams, with a touch of orange. Be sure to check it out – and when you do don’t miss the chance to climb up in the loft for a peek!
Edo no Niwa – Edo Garden by Ishihara Kazuyuki Design Laboratory
This marvellous and inviting Japanese Edo period garden stopped me and everybody else who sauntered by it in our tracks with its lush, textured and colourful landscape. Its small cascading waterfall, wee house with round window and smoothly rounded rock stairs were a delight to behold.
Shaun Rankin at Gaze Burvil
The RHS Chelsea Flower Show runs until 23 May at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, SW3 4SL. Find out more and book tickets at rhs.org.uk.
Shake Shack launches its second London eatery with a new restaurant opening soon (20 May) at Westfield Stratford City. Guess who got to sample some classic Shack favourites alongside some new and exclusive to Stratford menu items this afternoon?! Don’t hate the player, folks. In fact, don’t even hate the game. Just get over there starting tomorrow for some of East London’s best best burgers, hot dogs, crinkle cut fries, frozen custards …
Treats exclusive to the Stratford restaurant include a indulgent mix of big flavoured Americana with awesomely British enhancement:
• A SmokeShack burger featuring British free range Wiltshire cure smoked bacon, chopped cherry peppers and ShackSauce (£7.25 for a single, £10.50 for a double);
• The ShackMiester Sausage hot dog with Sillfield Farm Cumberland pork sausage topped with cheese sauce and crispy ShackMiester Ale marinated shallots (£5);
• The Peanut Butter CrunchCrete with chocolate custard, St John Bakery chocolate hazelnut brownie, peanut butter sauce and chocolate toffee (£5 for a single, £7.50 for a double);
• East End Pie Oh My, vanilla custard and a slice of Flour Power bramley apple pie (£5 for a single, £7.50 for a double);
• and the Banana Pretzel Pudding vanilla custard with paul.a.young chocolate covered pretzels, caramel sauce, fresh banana and maldon salt (£5 for a single, £7.50 for a double).
To be sure there’s a great variety of shakes, ShackMeister Ale, wine, and more – even doggie biscuits for your pooches – for your consideration.
I loved grinding through a range of what’s on offer at the new Shack. I must confess though my preferred item is still the basic ShackBurger. But the ShackMeister sausage saw me gnawing more a few bites.
Shake Shack Westfield Stratford City is located at The Street, Stratford Avenue, E20 1EJ. Find out more about it, the original London Covent Garden restaurant and all of Shake Shack’s restaurants at shakeshack.com.
In a lot of ways, Barcelona is as perfect a city break destination as ever you can hope to come across. As mentioned over the past few posts about my recent visit, there’s somewhere for just about any taste or interest readily at hand and to be enjoyed to the fullest extent – and all with its own distinctively Catalan flair. I had a wonderful time taking in the sights and delights of the world class city and loved this opportunity to share the very best of that trip with you.
To help you browse the posts I’ve published about my quick and rejuvenating Barcelona break, here’s a list with links to all of them:
- Too Brief but Brilliant!
- High on Generator
- Ah-Inspiring Hotel Arts
- The Stylishly Sumptuous Hotel Majestic
- OneOcean Club at Marina Port Vell
Cheers for following my Barcelona Brief miniseries. Please feel free to take a look at all my series and special features.
Ever been having an amazing time while traveling in a foreign country when you needed to check something online or simply wanted to share an awesome instance with the world only to thwarted by no access to the internet or the fear of paying exorbitant roaming rates keeping you from clicking happily? If only more destinations could be like Tel Aviv – at least with respect to the WiFi!
Tel Aviv’s free WiFi system, launched by the city a year and a half ago, includes 180 free hot spots covering nearly four million square meters and encompassing the entire city with its famous beaches, streets, coffee shops, bars, parks, and startup hubs are all covered by the free WiFi zones.
A key component of my brief Barcelona visit was a browse around OneOcean Club at Marina Port Vell. When it opened at the end of 2014, this private club raised the bar (and expectations) for the boating world by offering a range of luxury services and facilities just steps from the boundless amenities and amusements of an ever buzzing metropolis.
Chief among OneOcean’s aims is to connect the superyacht industry with the city of Barcelona. From what I saw, it appears well in line to do so with fashionable aplomb. Adding an element of Superyacht sophistication to the already fantastic Barcelona beachfront – without stealing any footing from the less-likely-to-own-a-yacht public’s access to it, OneOcean is mostly certainly there, just ever so slightly removed. The waterfront warren of Barceloneta seems fairly firmly rooted in its working class past (as long as it can withstand a tide of hipster inflow – and as much as any centrally situated urban community can in the 21st century). The family friendly and touristic attractions of Marina Port Vell – IMAX, aquarium, pedestrianised Rambla de Mar – all look safe too. If anything, the proximity of the club to the city means crews are going to hit the ground (or nearby Metro station) running, with shore leave excuses to spend time and money aplenty across town while their billionaire bosses and wealthy passengers do … well, whatever it is filthy rich folk do.
Whether you own them or just like seeing them bobble in the background, a wall of yachts against a rippled sea and a crisp blue sky is a delightful sight for sipping drinks at Bluewave. Turn your head though, and the mood shifts with a panorama of the Barcelona skyline and the city’s famous westward statue of Christopher Columbus in easy view. Moving from the bar to the restaurant, the wonders become closer at hand and more tangibly rewarding.
Executive Chef César Guillén’s modern twist on traditional Catalan cuisine yields delicious results. I adored every bite of my tataki of “dry aged” sirloin starter and would consider sneaking back in (though it should be said: security at OneOcean is tight!) for another go at my gorgeous main course of charcoal-grilled octopus with parmentier, slow cooked egg and truffle oil. I would hardly complain if I had to end a meal with a dessert comprised of citrus cake, yuzu foam, yoghurt sauce and matcha ice cream.
OneOcean was conceived by Salamanca Group, owners of the newly transformed superyacht marina, Marina Port Vell and private members’ OneOcean Club in Barcelona. OneOcean offers a fresh approach combining Salamanca Group’s 13 years’ experience supporting ultra high net worth individuals with experience in the yachting industry. Through a worldwide network of people, services and facilities, OneOcean provides highly tailored solutions, working with transparency to help clients with a range of services such as …
- Acquisitions and disposals ;
- New build management;
- Operational & technical management;
- Project management;
- Refit and maintenance;
- Berth sales and rental;
- Finance and insurance;
- Yacht charter, retail and marketing;
- Compliance and yachting regulations;
- Private office and lifestyle facilities.
OneOcean Club is located at Moll de la Barceloneta 1, 08003. Find out more at oneoceanclub.es.
More to come! Gracias for reading tikichris.
The last of my two nights in Barcelona was something of a stylishly sumptuous spree with an exquisitely comfortable sleepover at the aptly named Hotel Majestic.
If you’re keen to hold convenient court in Barcelona’s elegant and central Eixample district (yet never realise it as long as the door to your room’s terrace is kept shut to not allow even a decibel of noise to seep in from the streets), then this five star hotel’s location is for you. Within easy reach of Las Ramblas; loads of upscale shops; Gaudi’s Casa Batlló, La Pedrera (Casa Milà) and Sagrada Familia; and the Barri Gòtic, it’s a fine location for sightseeing. The hotel is also only a minute’s stroll from Passeig de Gràcia station, where you can hope a train to the airport and be there in about a half hour.
During your stay at the Majestic, by all means take the hotel up on any offer for breakfast. Sumptuous, tremendous and that’s just the selection of traditional Spanish and Catalan charcuterie! Chef Nandu Jubany’s “Majestic Breakfast Experience” buffet was such a treat. Presenting a lavish spread of whatever you might crave for your morning meal alongside a best-of array Spanish and Mediterranean produce and gorgeous tapas (not to mention unlimited bubbly), it was an absolute treat. And when you’re there enjoying your gorgeous breakfast bonanza but slightly overwhelmed by the quality and sheer quantity of the food, just make sure you try the tortilla! The Majestic’s was the best I’d ever had … that wasn’t homemade by a friend.
Service was utterly gracious and prompt throughout the hotel. The lobby (especially while the pianist was playing) was a lovely setting to relax. My Deluxe City View room was perfectly suited to all my needs with free WiFi, Nespresso coffeemaker, marble bathroom with toiletries by Bulgari, and all sorts of extra treats and amenities to have me wishing I could have extended my visit for even one more night but preferable a more sizeable stretch of time.
Hotel Majestic is located at Passeig de Gràcia, 68-70, 08007. Find out more at hotelmajestic.es.
More to come! Gracias for reading tikichris.
Hey y’all. I’m just passing along the word about an upcoming seminar where I’ve been asked to sit as a member of a “panel comprising three accommodation providers and three highly influential bloggers from a spectrum of the hospitality industry.” With a theme of “Clearing up the Mystery of Blogging,” the event is being organised by the Hotel Marketing Association, a branch of the Chartered Institute of Marketing, in partnership with Traverse Connect. It will be held the evening of 17 June in the York Suite of the Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington.
I’m honoured to have been considered for the panel and am looking forward to the chance to wag my chin talking about hotels and travel from a blogger’s perspective. Also, I’m chuffed to see another confirmed panellist is Ernest Opoku, Digital Marketer at Generator Hostels. He’s a swell fella, and I’ve recently become a big fan of Generator.
Aimed at an audience of bloggers, social media specialists, hospitality marketers and operators “who understand the importance of social media in matters relating to reputation management, promotion, consumer purchasing behaviour and the evolving service culture,” the seminar’s focus will be “experiences, case studies, pitfalls, best practice and how best to develop relationships for your specific marketing needs.” Following the panel discussion, there will be an opportunity to network.
Clearing up the Mystery of Blogging
6.30pm to 8pm (with networking until 9)
17 June 2015
York Suite, Royal Garden Hotel
£20 HMA/CIM/CIM TRAVEL/HOSPA members
£25 Non members
For more details and to book tickets:
Follow the discussion on Twitter:
The Royal Garden Hotel is located at 2-24 Kensington High Street, W8 4PT. Visit the hotel online at royalgardenhotel.co.uk.
The highest building in Barcelona? It’s the five-star, 43-storey Hotel Arts. At the top floor of this seaside beacon of luxury is 43 The Spa. For rarefied pampering with a view to match, the spa’s signature 43 Sea Experience allows the body to unwind while the mind and spirit soar. That guests can have a gorgeous al fresco lunch several floors down just minutes after … or a stroll the beach … or hit the far humbler but nonetheless inviting neighbourhood bars in nearby Barceloneta … or hop the Metro/hail a cab for more decidedly Barcelonan delights adds dreamy depth to such splendorous me-time.
43 The Spa
Open-air terraces with sweeping views of city and sea, eight treatment suites, hydrotherapy pools, saunas and steam baths (all with awesome views) augmented by an extensive menu of treatments a la Spanish skincare brand Natura Bissé: I adored every moment of my visit to 43 The Spa. Upping the indulgence to another level all together, signing up for the 43 Sea Experience treatment let all that fine living seep in and really do its magic over a restful hour and 20 minutes massage combining various chiropractic techniques, pressure, stretching manoeuvres and aromatherapy precious oils to stimulate the senses and deeply relax the entire body. My therapist Anita was a total champ, by the way!
Near the pool in a garden setting – with views of the Med and Frank Gehry’s iconic fish stature – Hotel’s seasonal restaurant, Marina, is “the star of the summer” offering light, informal meals for outdoor dining. A post-treatment lunch was just the thing to ease back to a more grounded reality. A rather frisky menu features fun dishes like fried nori, nachos with guacamole and lobster, guava cheesecake as well as a range of fresh seafood dishes, salads, gazpachos, and pizzas from a wood-fired oven. There’s a great assortment of wine, cocktails and smoothies too!
I didn’t check in at the hotel. So I can’t comment on Hotel Arts’ rooms and suites. But if my time at the spa followed by such a pleasant lunch serves as an indication, I can only expect a sumptuous stay is in order for its fortunate guests.
Hotel Arts Barcelona is located at Carrer de la Marina, 19-21, 08005. Find out more at hotelartsbarcelona.com.
More to come! Gracias for reading tikichris.
For my first of only two nights in Barcelona, I stayed at Generator … in the 8th floor penthouse … and absolutely loved it! If you hanker for a bit of luxury and a chance to spread out when in Barcelona (while still holding on to more than a few spare euros in your pocket), this suite is hard to beat. But whatever you might hope to achieve when booking a budget conscious visit to this bodacious city, you’d be smart to keep in mind Generator’s rather broad spectrum of possible overnight arrangements.
With the penthouse stay, all my reqs for quality accommodation were met in spades. The king-sized bed had a firm mattress. The shower’s water pressure was something fierce (but only if you wanted it to be). The WiFi signal was strong throughout the property and shared with guests for free. Beyond my baseline for comfort, well … the bidet in the penthouse was a nice touch. Giant windows plus a wrap around terrace with excellent views of La Sagrada Familia – not to mention the mountains and the sea – presented compelling reasons simply to stay put despite the bounty of urban fun just outside the hostel’s entrance.
So yeah, the penthouse blew me away. But honestly I was impressed with Generator’s complete range of accommodation options. Affable General Manager, Elwin Meijvis, kindly gave me a tour of the hostel. He and all staff encountered were really friendly – laidback but on the ball.
Shared dorms (mixed gender and women-only) looked so much better than the hostels I remember from my own backpacking days of yore, with 21st century gadget compatibility ensured. Private rooms were practical and well designed, with rooms on the top two floors all have outdoor space. Public chill-out and lounge areas were comfy and attractive with plenty of nooks or open spaces. I liked the youthful and almost frisky feel of the place tempered with a reserved attitude respectful to any combination of guest expectations – you could be a hepped up and solo twenty-something or a family with small children and check out having had a pleasant stay here. And the entire place – from the edges of the penthouse’s 30m2 wrap around terrace to the corners of the shared dorm bathrooms – was so incredibly impeccably clean.
You can book a bed at Generator for as low as €9. Rates for the penthouse start at €200 (which seems like stupidly good value based on my experience and especially considering the suite has so much space with foldout sofas for five guests, plenty of storage and a full kitchen – just one toilet though).
In the Neighbourhood
As tempting as it was to remain aloft in the penthouse admiring the amazing views it affords, I managed some time on the ground exploring the trendy streets of Gracia, the neighbourhood where the hostel is situated. Here are some of the tastier highlights.
Xurreria Trebol: At Generator, you’re all but arm’s reach from churros y chocolate at the humble but highly esteemed Xurreria Trebol where an inexpensive assortment of typical Spanish and traditional Catalan treats can be tried. Details at churreriatrebol.es.
La Gilda: Lunch here was great! I particularly loved my octopus, avocado and pistachio salad as well as my glass of slightly chilled Mysti Syrah from Origami Wines. More at lagildabcn.com.
Pepita: Highly recommended and extremely popular, La Pepita serves up the right mix of tapas to meet local expectations while keeping a steady flow of tourists and expats happy too. They do a more than acceptable and keenly refreshing G&T here too. Visit La Pepita online at lapepitabcn.com.
Generator Barcelona is located at Carrer de Corsega 373, 08037. It’s in a well-connected part of town with respect to public transport. I arrived there from the airport via train and Metro in a jiffy and at minimal expense. The location is a smart one for sight-seeing too with loads of attractions and the best of Gaudi’s works all nearby. Find out more about the hostel and the entire Generator group at generatorhostels.com.
More to come! Gracias for reading tikichris.
Just back from far too few but still wonderfully rejuvenating days in Barcelona, it’s easy to proclaim it as the ideal getaway. So ideal, I can’t stop thinking about what it might be like to get way there for good! No matter your “thing” – art, food, beach, luxury, street life, shopping, history … etc etc ad nauseum – or whether you’re one to zealously guard a small budget or magnificently blow a big one, you can do so with flying colours in this captivating Catalan capital. And if you’re like me and want the best of it all in maximum dosage, then keep an eye out for upcoming posts in my Barcelona Brief.
My visit was a study in relaxation, veering at times toward the ultra luxury end of the city break spectrum but sprinkled with ample instances of more down to earth and simple pleasures. And that’s the terrific thing about Barcelona. You can have your cheap and cheerful churros on the street in the morning and then be pampered in the afternoon with a beachside (if 43 storeys up) spa treatment – with plenty of [insert favourite activities here] in between. In the evening? Maybe drop in at a newly launched private club set on the marina or dive into a round of tapas at an amazing neighbourhood hot spot.
In the next few days I’ll share first hand accounts about places to park it (be ‘it’ a superyacht or a super-stuffed backpack) before hitting the town, along with advice on where to park your tookus in some of Barcelona’s better barstools and restaurant seats for amazing food and drink.
And don’t worry. I’ll get much more specific with these suggestions and more pronto. Until then …
If it ain’t broke don’t fix it! Yeah, I tapped and clicked the Addison Lee app again to get me to/from those pesky London airports. I’ve relied on the app a number of times before and definitely plan to for upcoming trips as I’ve yet to have any issues with the service.
I flew EasyJet return via Gatwick to Barcelona. From Barcelona Airport, getting into town was easy and inexpensive with a short(ish) train ride from Terminal 2 to the city centre. It cost around €4 for a single trip.
Lots more to come! Gracias for reading tikichris.
My favourite wine event of the year, Raw, returns to London this Sunday and Monday (note: Monday is trade only) featuring “one of the most exciting collections of fine, natural, organic and biodynamic wine artisans” sharing some of the best and most interesting wines I expect to sample in 2015.
Raw is the UK’s biggest independent wine fair and offers visitors the chance to sample more than 1,000 different wines from 195 producers. With new wines launching and unrepresented producers attending, RAW will be the only place in the UK to taste a number of the wines at the fair.
Raw runs Sunday 17 and Monday 18 May at the Old Truman Brewery, 83 Brick Lane, E1 6QL. Tickets start at £30 (in advance for one-day access). Find out lots more at rawfair.com.
Yesterday, I had a lovely lunch visiting with Caroline and Adeline, two French expat friends bringing a taste of their home country to commuters zipping through Old Street Station. Their Les Deux Amies pop-up offers a short and sweet (and savoury) assortment of responsibly sourced, French crêpes, galettes and homemade jams and sauces with a side of social enterprise.
I tried two of their creations: a savoury and a sweet. The savoury number was essentially a hot dog in a (gluten-free) galette (£6). Yum. The sweet one was a crêpe with homemade salted caramel sauce and toasted almonds flakes (£4). It was gorgeous.
Caroline and Adeline’s great food is coupled with good cause – or “social and solidarity economy, sustainable development and warm environment to be for customers and employees” as explained on the Values page of their website. They aim to use organic, British and responsibly sourced ingredients. They’ve teamed up with homeless charity Emmaus to provide work for people in need. They share warm smiles to passers-by for free.
Les Deux Amies will be at Old Street Station, EC1Y 1BE until 5 June, Monday to Friday from early morning to early evening. Find out more about their Old Street stall and other opportunities to eat their treats at lesdeuxamies.co.uk.
For movie buffs, Francophiles, and paparazzi wannabes, the coming of May means it’s time for the glitz and glamor of the world’s most famous film festival: Cannes! Celebrating its 68th “edition” of showcasing the world’s best cinema, this year’s Festival de Cannes runs from the 13th to the 24th of May.
The highlights of Cannes 2015 promise to be many.