Category Archives: Hotels

Faroes and Away: My New Happy Place

Sometime between my trip to the Faroe Islands and writing up this series about the experience, I paid a visit to the dentist for a routine check up and cleaning. To say I’m not a fan of going to the dentist would be putting it mildly. Usually during a check up, I’ve got my eyes clinched tight and my hands clutching the arms of the chair with my lower legs and feet squirming around. In my mind, I’m concentrating as hard as I can on pleasant thoughts and such. This last time in the dentist’s chair, my mind went straight back to the Faroes. It’s my new ‘happy place’ I reckon and as scenic a mind’s eye destination as I could ever image. I was, for perhaps the first time during dental appointment, completely unfazed and all but unaware of the activity going on in my mouth. Continue reading

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Faroes and Away: Shhh …

It may seem mundane and not terribly exciting, but one of the main reasons I loved my time in the Faroes was the peace and quiet found there. Folks say that silence is golden. But during one particularly placid morning at my hotel, it was mostly deep green and soft brown with tiny dots of wild flower yellow and a soothing blue ocean view. Continue reading

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Faroes and Away: Koks Restaurant and Its New Nordic Kitchen

One especially delicious ‘just go’ reason to visit the Faroe Islands is the opportunity to dine at Koks restaurant. Located at Hotel Foroyar with sweeping views over the town of Torshavn and across the bay to the island of Nolsoy, the restaurant features haute cuisine dishes “designed to delight guests with the essence of Faroese culinary heritage” using ingredients almost exclusively sourced locally. For English speakers, the restaurant’s name might sound a bit unappetising, but don’t let that put you off … or expect anything salacious. It simply means “cooks” and is apt enough given the magic done there. Continue reading

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Faroes and Away: Just Go

Why the tiny (if staggeringly scenic) nation of the Faroe Islands wasn’t overrun with tourists during my visit in early August is beyond me – especially considering that my flight from Stansted was hardly more than two hours long and that I had never seen anywhere on earth quite as extraordinary or been anywhere quite as distinctive. That this archipelago of 18 islands jutting from the juncture of the North Atlantic and the Norwegian Sea is such an accessible yet sparsely populated and utterly gorgeous destination should be reason enough for you to stop whatever it is you’re doing right this instant and start making plans to see the Faroes for yourself. Continue reading

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Aberlour at the Source: More than Whisky

Even when setting aside the distillery tour, cooperage visit, and the delectable chance to taste the Aberlour range of single malts in the very environment where they’re made, my Speyside time was still such a blast. The area is absolutely gorgeous, all the food I had was delish, and the hours spent outside communing with nature were as invigorating as they were relaxing. I would have loved to have been able to extend my trip at least a few more days as there was just so much great stuff to see and do. Indeed, I would be so very keen to head back that way again to get to continue discovering this lovely part of Scotland. Continue reading

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Win a G&T Experience for Two at The Polo Bar at The Westbury Hotel

A month or so ago I had the pleasure of sampling the new gin and tonic menu at The Polo Bar at The Westbury Hotel. Created by Tanqueray mixologist Tim Homewood and Polo Bar manager Elias Yiallouris, the new G&Ts are part of a “Botanical Brew Experience” collaboration between Tangueray No. TEN gin and Fever-Tree tonic water. All feature the quadruple distilled gin and the premium tonic along with an intriguing array of fresh ingredients. And – just in time for the height of summer – here’s a chance for one lucky reader and a guest to do what I got to do and sample a couple of these fantastic drinks for free. Continue reading

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Win Dinner for Two and an Overnight Stay at The Tommyfield London Pub

Located just five minutes from London’s Waterloo and owned by Renaissance Pubs, The Tommyfield now fully embraces its coaching inn roots by becoming a luxurious city crash pad as well as a cracking London local. Tempted? Keep reading to find out how to win a free night’s stay plus dinner for two at this ace Kennington pub! Continue reading

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Sleep Basel: The Passage

During my Basel City Break, I stayed at The Passage. Only open since February of this year, the sleek and minimalist four star hotel served as a conveniently positioned base for exploring the city and a comfy HQ well worth returning to. Continue reading

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Hard Rock Hotel Opens in Ibiza

There’s a new house that’s going to be all the rave on the island of Ibiza. Hard Rock International has just opened Hard Rock Hotel Ibiza – its first hotel in Europe. Are you ready to party “hard” in sizzling hot … Continue reading

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Grand Palladium Palace Ibiza Resort & Spa

Ibiza! It’s been coming up in conversations a lot lately. I’ve never actually been but definitely would be keen to pay the island a visit. I’ve always had a wonderful time in Spain during each of my many trips there, and word is all the Balearic islands are just as amazing and extremely beautiful. And based on what I’ve been hearing recently, if and when I do manage to get to Ibiza, the perfect place to stay might just be the Palladium Palace. Continue reading

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4 Fun Bars in Athens (OneTravel)

Like a lot of sunny Mediterranean destinations, the nightlife in Athens goes late and is, of course, a load of fun. From what I could tell during my recent visit to the Greek capital, Athenians are as friendly as anyone … Continue reading

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8 Great Gin Bars in London (OneTravel)

Gin. It’s a London thing. So it’s no surprise that this city has some of the best bars to drink it. Here’s a look at eight great places to enjoy an elbow bender with the infamous Mother’s Ruin. Read my … Continue reading

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Grecotel Pallas Athena: Great Boutique Hotel in the Heart of Athens, Greece (OneTravel)

I’ve just returned from a long weekend in Athens, Greece where I had a fantastic time exploring this ancient and buzzing city full of all sorts of contemporary charm. In fact, I’ve been raving about the trip almost non-stop since … Continue reading

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New Gin and Tonic Menu at The Polo Bar at The Westbury

An invitation to sample a newly launched gin and tonic menu at The Polo Bar at The Westbury Hotel presented an excellent opportunity to discover a fine place to have a drink. Continue reading

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‘Make My Switzerland’ App Helps You Discover Top Tips from Locals (OneTravel)

“Choose a city, pick your mood, discover top tips from our locals.” That’s what a relatively new Make My Switzerland app offers visitors hoping to achieve maximum Swiss delight – whether aiming for alpine heights, lounging by the lake or … Continue reading

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Made in Mayfair Insider Experience with Intercontinental and London Luxury Quarter (OneTravel)

The InterContinental London Park Lane hotel has teamed up with London Luxury Quarter to create custom made “Made in Mayfair Insider Experience” tours. From Britain’s oldest family run perfumery to bespoke shoes that take nine months from order to delivery, … Continue reading

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Win a Bijoux Afternoon Tea for Two at The Langham London

London’s historic home of the afternoon tea, The Langham London, is preparing once again to launch its annual Bijoux Afternoon Tea with Champagne Laurent-Perrier. To be served in the refined and elegant setting of the hotel’s Palm Court, the specially themed “Summer Season” tea will be available from 15 May to 6 July and priced at £52 per person (£65 with a glass of Laurent-Perrier Brut). But guess what? Here’s a chance for one lucky reader to win tea for two for the price of a tweet. Continue reading

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Portugal Please: Herdade da Malhadinha Nova

My Portuguese adventure coming to a close, I was left with only one more night to savour before flying back to Blighty. Good thing my last night was in an absolutely fantastic setting! Otherwise, I might have started to doubt for a second the hospitality show to me throughout this lovely little country as well as the foodie expertise that’d gone into the execution of my Festival of Food itinerary. As the trip unfolded though, I never once questioned the restorative benefits of my adeptly planned week-long ramble through Portugal. Indeed, I arrived back home eager to share the stories of my time abroad. The story I’m sharing today is one of a luxury homestead that’s an easily recommendable destination: Herdade da Malhadinha Nova. Continue reading

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Portugal Please: Eggs-cellent Time in Portalegre

Next on my Portugal Please road trip itinerary was the southern and sunny region of Alentejo where the appetising promise to “road test” the new Festival of Food offering from British tour operator, Sunvil, lay ahead. First stop in this gorgeous land of cork farms and vineyards … of ancient Moorish ramparts and prim churches hiding grandiose interiors … was the hilltop border town of Portalgre where I arrived just in time to attend the annual and eggy Feira de Doçaria Conventual for a taste of traditional sweets from the region and more. Continue reading

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Portugal Please: Coimbra

Capital of Portugal during the Middle Ages with a historic UNESCO World Heritage Site university established in 1290 (making it the fifth oldest in the world), Coimbra is a city steeped in age old tradition yet imbued with a youthful spirit. Continue reading

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Portugal Please: Charming and Cheeky Aveiro

Know as the “Venice of Portugal,” Aveiro is an attractive little coastal canal-crossed town in the Centro region of Portugal. I spent a couple of days in this part of the country, marvelling at how awesome the region was yet how largely undiscovered by tourists it seemed to be. Pretty, walkable and full of lovely shops, bars and restaurants, Aveiro was a particularly fine place for my introduction to the area. Continue reading

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Portugal Please: Morgadio da Calçada

Situated atop a plateau yielding (yet more) beautiful panoramic views of the Douro River and its undulant valley, the tiny ancient village of Provesende was my final stop in the area. Here I took a quick wander round the village and a proper snoop inside 17th century mansion (with contemporary accommodations) Morgadio da Calçada. Continue reading

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Portugal Please: Even More Douro Valley Quintas

No, I didn’t just lounge around at a couple of scenically situated hotels while in the Douro (although, that would be a terrifically recuperative way to spend one’s time). When I wasn’t enjoying my stay in the luxury laps of Quinta do Vallado and Quinta Nova, I was bopping all over the rest of the valley trying to visit as many different vineyards as possible – and loving every minute of it. Here are a few brief notes about the rest of the Douro Valley quintas I visited, including Quinta do Crasto, Quinta da Pacheca, Quinta do Panascal and Quinta do Seixo. Continue reading

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Portugal Please:  Quinta Novo de Nossa Senhora do Carmo

A lovingly restored 18th century manor cum 21st century four star hotel and the centrepiece of a lofty patchwork of vineyards rolling down to the Douro River: Quinta Novo de Nossa Senhora do Carmo was my home for a night. Leaving Vallado for a full-on day of winery visits around the Douro, my second evening in this idyllic valley wound down in equal parts elegance and comfort. Continue reading

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Portugal Please: Porto

My Portugal Please tour commenced in the compact and cosy city of Porto, which proved to be an excellent gateway to the Douro Valley and a fine place to visit in and of itself. If you’re looking for somewhere to visit for a city break, Porto is only a two hour flight away from London with plenty to see and do and eat and drink and browse and buy. Here are some highlight from my all too brief time there. Continue reading

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Good Stuff

Good Stuff and lots of it! Here’s the low down on some fine things to see, sip or savour – all of which I’ve recently come across and thought were worth sharing with you. Enjoy. Dodo Chilli Dipping Sauce I recently got … Continue reading

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Istanbul in an Instant

For my birthday, Kemey and I spent a long weekend in Istanbul. Yes indeed, ya gotta do the Blue Mosque/Hagia Sophia/Basilica Cistern/Topkapi Palace/Grand Bazaar shuffle when you’re there, but there’s so much more to see and do in this massive and dynamic city. Here are just a few of the “other” highlights from our trip. Continue reading

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New Regional Wine & Cheese Menu at Theo Randall at the Intercontinental

Allow me to commence this rave by saying that Theo Randall’s Head Sommelier, Yuri Gualeni, is a frickin’ genius and Chef Randall is a very wise man indeed to let Gualeni do his thing. Case in point: the young sommelier’s new wine and cheese pairing that’s been “designed to be a journey through Italy’s terroir and traditions.” I tried it last night and loved every moment. Priced from £24 per person – and tailored to guest preferences – the menu includes four Italian wines paired with four regional cheeses. Continue reading

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Dixie Detours: Laissez les Bon Temps Rouler!

Happy Mardi Gras! I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my Dixie Detours miniseries featuring the highlights from my recent trip to Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, Louisiana and Florida along with suggestions for planning your own sojourn to the Deep South. Continue reading

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Dixie Detours: Miami in a Minute

The final stop of our Dixie Detours visit to the US was Miami, where an overnight layover afforded Kemey and me the chance to check in on some friends who had recently moved there – big thanks to Tanya and Francesco for being such fantastic hosts and showing us around so much of your fine town – while soaking up some south Florida sunshine before heading back to Blighty. Continue reading

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Dixie Detours: Sweet Shoals Music

Before our visit to the Muscle Shoals area of Alabama, I never would have imagined the music of Aretha Franklin could resonate even more with me than it already did. Goosebumps on top of goosebumps – how’s that gonna happen? But there I was standing in Studio A of Fame Studios in humble little Florence, Alabama where the mighty diva recorded such classics as Do Right Woman, Do Right Man, and something clicked in a deep and soulful sort of way. In the few days since Kemey and I checked out the Shoals, listening to Aretha’s songs has been coupled with an even deeper and more satisfying feeling than before. Continue reading

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Dixie Detours: Chattanooga, Choo Choo City

Chattanooga is my old teenage stomping ground. Since I’ve moved away, every year or two when I’ve managed to make it back for a visit (usually around Christmastime), the area always seemed to have gotten better than I remembered it being. Same holds true this time round. Continue reading

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Dixie Detours: Tabasco Tourism on Avery Island

Louisiana’s most iconic brand, McIlhenny Company’s Tabasco brand Original Red Sauce packs a wallop of distinctively spicy flavour. For all its flavoursome punch, it’s comprised of only three natural ingredients: aged red peppers, vinegar and salt from Avery Island, which is also the home of all Tabasco production. In addition to the pepper sauce factory, the island (roughly two hours from New Orleans and 40 minutes from Lafayette) is also a botanical garden, bird sanctuary and wildlife refuge. Our last day in Louisiana, Kemey and I spent a fantastic morning on Avery Island before carrying on with our Dixie Detours road trip. Here are some highlights from the fun time we had there. Continue reading

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Dixie Detours: A Cajun Good Time in Lafayette

It’s a down home kind of place, Lafayette, where a koozie for your cold one is handy asset indeed. Continue reading

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Dixie Detours: NOLA!

New Orleans is a sultry dream. I can’t imagine anywhere else in America that’s even half as beguiling or idiosyncratic. Probably the most dynamic city in the US, it is without doubt the most spontaneous and freewheeling. When I think about other destinations across the planet that offer experiences comparable to what I’ve happened upon in NOLA, I find myself coming up with a list of my absolute favourites places. Put simply, NOLA rocks (it shucks, jives, slides, saunters, shimmies and rolls too). Continue reading

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