London Daily Photo: Escalation

LDP 2015.07.20 - Escalation

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This Voucher Code Makes Jealous Sweets 20% Sweeter!

This Voucher Code Makes Jealous Sweets 20% Sweeter!

Who wants something sweet at 20% off the regular cost? Me! Me! Me! Oh you you you do too? Well, that’s cool because there is plenty to go round, and I’ve got an exclusive limited run voucher code offering tikichris readers (Hey! That’s you!) a substantial discount when placing an online order for any box from Jealous Sweets!

Jealous Sweets makes craft gourmet confectionery for grownups who want a little elegance from their sweet treats. I’m a fan – especially of the intensely fruity Wild Cherries – and reckon the entire range of Wild Cherries, Yummy Bears, Grizzly Bears, Fizzy Friends, Tangy Worms and Sour Beans are packed with way more flavour than any of the typical sweets on the market. Something about the experience seems amplified compared to eating most other candies. Win a Complete Range of Jealous Sweets Jewel Box Treats

To make the indulgent pleasure of Jealous Sweets just a teensy bit sweeter, I’ve teamed up with these crafty confectioners to share some pretty big savings with my readers.

For 20% off your online purchase of any Jealous Sweets boxes use this code:

TIKI20

The code is valid from 20 July to 31 August 2015.

Shop online at thejealouslife.com/shop.

Win a Complete Range of Jealous Sweets Jewel Box Treats

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Car Parts?

Car Parts?

Where do you shop for car parts? Do you go to your local garage? Hit some big brand store? Look online for the parts you need at sites such as www.BuyCarParts.co.uk?

I’m just wondering because – although very much still in contemplation mode – I sometimes think it might be a good idea for me to bite the bullet and get one. I know my girlfriend is aiming to buy a car. It would be largely for her work, but I’m certain I would see some fun and convenience come of it.

I’ve been in London for over a decade now and haven’t had or really needed a car that whole time. I’ve often wished I had one just to get around on the weekends though for shopping trips, mini-breaks out of town. It’s a bit of a weird one for me to be without my own vehicle. Since I was 16 until I moved to London, I’d always driven and owned a car.

Odds are if/when my partner … or I .. or the two of us together actually buy a car, it will be used. I’m fine with that but would like to have a better idea of cost of upkeep here in London.

Who’s got advice on buying, owning and maintaining a car in London? Your thoughts would be much appreciated.

Thanks!

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London Daily Photo: St Pancras

LDP 2015.07.19 - St Pancras

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It’s Dawg Days for Byron Burgers with the New Freddar Cheese

Freddar Dawg at Byron - DSC_8981

Coming soon to a Byron near you: the Freddar Dawg, a “hamburger that thinks it’s a hot dog” and features the popular burger joint’s own newly created cheese – Freddar.

The Freddar Dawg is a cheeseburger stacked with a 6oz beef patty cut into (think: conjoined slider twins) and served in a brioche-y hot dog roll with streaky bacon, onion, pickles, shredded iceberg lettuce, American mustard, Byron sauce and (drumroll please) the newly debuted Freddar cheese.

The cheese is exclusive to Byron and made from a “top secret” recipe with “all the vibrant colour and melty goodness of American cheese.” A blend of Grana Padano, Red Leicester and mature Cheddar, it’s super yummy with a perfectly pliant, just-oozy-enough texture and seems pretty much to be an ideal cheese for a juicy burger.

As for the Dawg, it’s delicious (one of the better burgers I’ve had lately) but very much a form-over-function creation. Priced at £10.95, the Freddar Dawg will be available from 21 July until 31 August at all Byron restaurants. I suspect the new cheese will stay on the menu for well after that, as I’m certain it will prove to be a hit.

I tried my Dawg at a recent preview party held at the spacious Rathbone Place Byron just off Oxford Street (6 Rathbone Place, W1T 1HL). In addition to gluttonously gnashing my way through this limited edition elongated burger and going ga-ga over the new cheese, I really appreciated the chance to sample Byron’s summertime jalapeño slaw (£3.25). I couldn’t get enough of it!

There are almost 40 Byron outlets in London alone and a dozen or so more across the UK. For details go to byronhamburgers.com.

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London Daily Photo: Platform Garden

LDP 2015.07.18 - Platform Garden

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Fizz & Fish! WineTrust at Hook Camden Town

DSC07269

Online wine retailer WineTrust recently teamed up with sustainable fish restaurant Hook Camden Town for a “Fizz & Fish” pairing of Champagnes and sparkling wines with a variety of fish and chip dishes. Coolest thing about this match made in foodie heaven (or at least from my greedy perspective) was that they kindly invited me along to enjoy the savoury slurp fest!

I get invited to lots of launches, tastings, and other food and drink related events. Such has been the case for a few especially tasty years. The invites seem to keep getting bigger and better too. I love it – and when it’s really good it is absolutely amazing. I’m not telling you that to brag but to place what I’m about to say in proper context. So impressed was I by the food and wine – and perhaps most especially by how thoughtfully it was presented – that the glowing report I’m about to issue might could do with a disclaimer to qualify my rave review is not just a load of hyperbolic hot air. I left the Fizz & Fish evening as a neophyte fan of both WineTrust and Hooked … as well as an even firmer believer in the delicious effects of pairing something crisp and bubbly with excellent fish and chips.

WineTrust

WineTrust aims to “take the risk out of buying wines” by offering customers “exceptional value” wines from small indie producers that are hand selected by Masters of Wine and range in price from £6.95 to £50. Rather than having a vast list of bottles to tick each and every imaginable taste, WineTrust homes in on a scaled down and smartly curated selection of what its experts consider the best and most interesting wines on the market.

Wines chosen for the Fizz & Fish tasting were lovely and accompanied the assortment of fishy treat beautifully. A dry and bready Ayala Brut Majeur NV and a couple of tasty numbers from Charles Heidseick and Nyetimber held their own with each dish and were all certainly worthy of solo sipping too. My favourite wine of the night, though, was the 2014 Pink Moscato from Innocent Bystander served with a refreshing dessert of green apple and lemon sorbet. WineTrust sells this light and fruity Australia drink for £6.95 a half-bottle, which I reckon is a heck of a price for such a crowd pleasing fizz that’s certain not to fizzle out.

Find out more – including info about joining WineTrust affordable wine club – at winetrust100.co.uk.

Hook Camden Town

As for Hook’s contribution to the Fizz & Fish equation, I was in all sincerity blown away by all the dishes presented. Lemon and fennel panko sea bass with an oyster and sorrel sauce; Champagne tempura of mackerel with Avruga caviar; ink and tarragon tempura of plaice with pickled beetroot … every mouthful was a treat. And all of it had been sustainably caught to boot.

Here in the UK (Hook has a new outlet in Brixton too as well as its original market stall in Dublin and a restaurant in Brussels), Hooked sources its fish from Flying Fish Seafoods in Cornwall which use small fisheries to line catch fish sustainably and responsibly. So the menu at Hooked is catch of the day, everyday – and only ever just that. Such a fresh approach adds up to a rotating menu of more than 50 different fish and chips varieties to offer (depending on what the boats brought in) alongside dozens of different homemade sauces (garlic truffle mayo was probably my fave during the tasting) as well as the restaurant’s own seasoned salts, sides, and desserts. Hook’s seaweed-soaked chips were particularly scrumptious, especially after receiving a spritz or two of sherry vinegar spray.

Hook Camden Town is located at 63-65 Parkway, NW17PP. Find out more at hookrestaurants.com.

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London Daily Photo: From the Far End of the Table

LDP 2015.07.17 - From the Far End of the Table

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Win a Pot of Hotel Chocolat Fruit Bombes to Chill

Win a Pot of Hotel Chocolat Fruit Bombes #ChocToChill

COMPETITION IS NOW OVER AND THE WINNERS HAVE BEEN CONTACTED. THANKS SO MUCH FOR READING TIKICHRIS. PLEASE STAY TUNED FOR LOTS MORE FUN AND FREEBIES TO COME!

Chocolate. It’s not just for Christmas/Valentine’s/Easter/Mother’s Day anymore! Served the right way (and at the right temperature), chocolate can be a terrific treat to help take the edge off a hot summer’s day. Case in point: Hotel Chocolat’s Fruit Bombes. I’ve got ten free pots of these summer sensations to give away.

Hotel Chocolat’s Fruit Bombes to Chill are da bomb and come in five fantastic flavours: blackcurrant, lime, lemon, cherry and passion fruit. With the perfect contrast of fruit tang and smooth chocolate, they’re best served after being chilled for at least 30 minutes. Pop in the fridge then pop in your mouth.

To be in with a chance to win one of ten pots of Fruit Bombes, simply tweet the following:

RT to win a pot of #chocolate Fruit Bombes to Chill from @HotelChocolat compliments of @tikichris:ow.ly/PJh6F #ChocsToChill

Please take a moment to read the terms and conditions before tweeting!

T&C

I’ll pick ten winners at random on Monday 27 July at 11.30am BST. Each winner will receive one pot of Fruit Bombes from Hotel Chocolat valued at £9. To be eligible to win, you need to have an address in the UK where the prize can be posted. Good luck.

Have a look at all of Hotel Chocolat’s summer gifts and chocolates:
hotelchocolat.com/uk/shop/gift-ideas/summer

COMPETITION IS NOW OVER AND THE WINNERS HAVE BEEN CONTACTED. THANKS SO MUCH FOR READING TIKICHRIS. PLEASE STAY TUNED FOR LOTS MORE FUN AND FREEBIES TO COME!

Check out more tikichris competitions.

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Yelp London’s Big Night In: Free Treats and Services Delivered to Your Doorstep

Yelp's Big Night In

Have you heard about Yelp London’s Big Night In? With mega-loads of free treats and services being offered to 30 lucky Yelpers, a quiet Friday night at home never looked so good!

Friday July 31st, Yelp will run its first ever Big Night In with freebies on offer to include the following:

  • Free food delivered by Deliveroo;
  • Free wine delivered by Mr. Vine;
  • Free laundry picked up and delivered right to your door from Laundrapp;
  • Your home beautifully cleaned by Hassle, for free;
  • Anything you want, picked up and delivered by Quiqup; and
  • A service of your choice from Bizzby such as a free therapeutic massage, an errand run or a personal trainer session.

Wow.

Find out more and RSVP at yelp.co.uk/events/london-yelps-big-night-in.
Participants will be chosen next week.

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5 Things Not to Miss in Mauritius (OneTravel)

Mauritius

You couldn’t be blamed for hitting the beautiful beach and never leaving during the entirety of your stay in the tropical island paradise that is Mauritius.

However, myriad rewards await those visitors willing to shake the sand out of their shoes and explore this vibrant and diverse Indian Ocean nation.

Read my complete post at OneTravel.

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London Daily Photo: At the Bar

LDP 2015.07.16 - At the Bar

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Affordable Hotels Near Earl’s Court

Affordable Hotels Near Earl' s Court

Traveling to London at any time of year, whether it is for business or for leisure, can seem to be quite expensive for you. The airfare alone can cost you a lot of money so you want to try to find as many ways to save money as you can once you have arrived in the city.

Staying in Central London may be ideal for you because it is so close to many of the top attractions and key business areas of the city, but you may fear that the hotels there are just too far out of your budget range. It is good to know that you can find cheap and budget accommodation in Central London if you know just where to look for it.

Finding the Right Place

When you first begin to search for affordable hotels in this area of London you may not want to just settle for the first place that comes along in your search. Make sure you do some research regarding the hotel first to see how well it has been rated and just where its location is for you. You want to try to choose a hotel that is located near to public transportation so that you can use public transit to get around the city. This is the easiest and most affordable way for you to get around, particularly if you are not that familiar with London and leery of driving around the city yourself. You may want to take a look at hotels in Earls Court and in particular the Hotel Lily, one of the finest of the cheap and budget hotels in Earl’s Court.

What the Hotel Offers You

The Hotel Lily is in a prime location in Central London in the Kensington area, right in Earl’s Court. The Earl’s Court Exhibition Centre is home to many business events, conferences and meetings and it is also the location of the Earl’s Court Station so you can have an easy walk to use the public transportation in the area. The hotel itself is within easy distance of many of the top attractions in London, including the Chelsea Football Ground, Hammersmith Apollo, Royal Albert Hall and others. The rooms have all been recently refurbished and redecorated for a modern design and look and feature all of the amenities you are looking for when you want a comfortable place to stay. You can also have the complimentary breakfast each morning of your stay right in the dining room to get your day started the right way.

You get all of the great qualities of the Hotel Lily at one of the best prices found anywhere in Central London. This will help you to save money on your trip so you do not have to worry about going over your budget to stay at a nice place. When you are planning your trip to London be sure to check the room availability at the Hotel Lily so you can book your room and have a great stay at an affordable rate.

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Living Lech: Auf Wiedersehen!

Living Lech

For Maddie Salters, four days in Lech am Arlberg was a rejuvenating experience. Though known as ski country, she found “the relatively uncharted summer territory was just as charming and far less crowded, with enough recreational activities available to keep me constantly on my toes.” High-altitude fun in the stunning Alps meant Maddie was out daily hiking, fishing, and enjoying the early July heat spell.

My stay at Hotel Aurelio let me balance activity with relaxation. My down time was spent recuperating in the spa, dining on local fare on the sun terrace, learning about Austrian wines from the sommelier, and taking in a cooking class or two. While I am a convert to Lech’s summer season, there’s still plenty to do at any time of year in this enchanting valley. I won’t soon forget its marvelous vistas.

To help you browse the entire series about my fantastic few days at the Hotel Aurelio, here’s a list with links to all of the posts:

Living Lech

Cheers for following Living Lech. Please feel free to take a look at all tikichris miniseries and special features and more great posts by Maddie Salters.

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Recipe: Jack Daniel’s Manhattan

Jack Daniel's Manhattan

With a taste of Tennessee and a touch of New York sophistication, a Jack Daniel’s Manhattan is Americana in a martini glass. Using the world’s favourite whiskey to create this highly regarded cocktail is a flavourful (and easy!) way to stir up some good times without raising too much of a fuss.

Have a look at the recipe and see how you get on mixing your own.

JACK DANIEL’S MANHATTAN Yum

Ingredients

  • 1-1½ parts Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7
  • ½ part sweet vermouth
  • Dash of bitters

Instructions

  • Combine in a shaker with ice. Serve straight up. Garnish with a cherry.

Serve

  • Drink responsibly and enjoy.
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Living Lech: A Taste of Austria’s Gourmand Side

Living Lech: A Taste of Austria’s Gourmand Side

Maddie Salters takes on Austrian “couture gastronomy” and finds the experience one for “the record books.”

Austria, like any culture-rich nation, has a consummate tradition of food: timeless recipes, fresh ingredients, and local preferences. That’s given. What I didn’t expect from my four-day trip to Lech, a traditional valley town nestled into the sprightly Alps, was for my farm-fresh experience to cross-over with world-renown couture gastronomy. And here’s the thing about couture: it always fits. (Not sure if I could say the same for my jeans afterwards.)

While it might be impossible to taste your way across a country in so little time, I’ll admit, I tried. As a guest of the Hotel Aurelio, I let the experienced staff there be my culinary guides: a calling they rallied to by designing decadent, multi-course meals, and by letting me engage with the food in surprising and delighting ways. Participating in the process, from fishing my own dinner in a nearby pond, to taking a morning cooking class with their 3-Hauben Chef de Cuisine, deepened my appreciation for each bite.

My first dinner in Lech, in Aurelio’s Licca Lounge, was a meal for the record books. The Licca Lounge, one of three dining options in the plush lower-level of the hotel, creates a cozy atmosphere with wide, embracing sofas, an elegant bar, and deep wooden paneling that echoes the warm ambient light by nightfall. The carte du jour, like the room itself, had been designed specifically to welcome guests to Austria, an introduction to its rich culinary heritage. Farmer’s brown bread swathed in cheese and chive butter, beef tartare with quail egg, smoked local salmon, deconstructed balsamic tomatoes with mozzarella, roasted aubergine in regional spices … mouth watering yet? These were just the starters. (Eating in Lech became synonymous with marathon long-run training.)

I was already fairly stunned and satiated when the real, hearty, melt-in-your-mouth provincial dishes began to roll out: tomato compote soup with delicate haddock cheeks; three-cheese baked speatzle decked out in fried onions; wiener schnitzel in cranberry sauce; veggie-roasted prime beef stew; and a multi-aged Volrarlberg cheese platter. Not to mention Lech’s love affair with potatoes, which were served so many ways, I lost track of everything but the bowl featuring them pan-scalded and scalloped. “Save Room for Dessert” became less of a philosophy and more of a life-goal. (For the record, dessert featured Austrian supper-table musts, like fluffy shredded pancakes “Kaiserschmarrn,” apple strudel, polenta “flummery” pudding, and roast cherries.)

But let me stick to the highlights, before I write myself hungry. After the first meal, I was relatively sure that nothing could compare to my initial enchantment. How does a kitchen staff live up to opening night? The answer was by infusing each new culinary experience with originality and expertise. A good meal isn’t complete without a wine pairing that can hold its own. I was completely impressed by Aurelio’s sommelier, Markus, who not only chose immaculate pairings by course, but who was a staunch believer in Austrian wines. Perfect, since that’s what I was in the region to try. Each bottle came with not just a list of tasting notes, but an itinerary of how sun, soil, and water affect the grapes that had gone into it. My glass was never empty, and whites and reds were switched out flawlessly to match tasting notes on the menu. Even the dessert wine (usually a no for me) needed refilling. After dinner, it was a treat to take a personal tour of the local schnapps on offer, in elegant Swarovski bottles. (On my final night I forwent the loose-leaf sencha tea for a nightcap of spicy 2003 Rochelt, the enticing “Wilde Vogelbeere.”)

I was also thrilled by Aurelio’s dedication to locality. The town’s fishmongers and dairy farmers bring their fare, and the kitchen staff rolls up their sleeves to collect wild mushrooms and herbs to add to their complex dishes. (These are frozen after summer, to be available for dishes throughout winter.) Plates were furnished in candied wildflowers, and decorated in flamboyant petals that I began to recognise from my hikes. As always, Aurelio was happy to tailor the experience, and offers guests the opportunity to pick their own vegetables and medicinal herbs.

The kitchen staff was immaculate. Each meal began with a gift from the chef, not written into the menu, a tiny gastronomic high point to punctuate drinks on the terrace. While I always opted to eat on the sun terrace, with its long, tarrying deck southerly mountain views, and shady spaces, I did take a gander through Restaurant “Aurelio’s”: their fine-dining nook. The kitchen was located just behind it, where award-winning head chef Christian Rescher and Souschef Markus Niederwanger showed me how to toss together a cool lime-wasabi salmon tartare and hand-roll pasta. (For those of us who are not Michelin-starred chefs, Rescher also gives some amazing everyday cooking tips and tricks, useful for making any cuisine. Guests can book cooking classes through Aurelio, and the five-star recipes are sent home with them after.

A high-point was trekking to the Zug pond, led by an Aurelio team, to fish for my dinner. Fishing and hunting are popular in Lech, and Aurelio offers guests a unique service, where catches are filleted and served by their staffers, either in one of Aurelio’s restaurants, or, packed to go with wine and accompaniments, for a sunny summer picnic.

Throughout every meal, the absolute beauty of each plate astounded me as much as the innovation of shapes and flavours. Cucumbers, one of my favourite foods, were served as marshmallows, mousses, and boiled into tapioca. (Don’t even get me started on the many uses of chili foam …)

The moral? Go to Lech hungry.

Living Lech: A Taste of Austria’s Gourmand Side

Check out my other Living Lech posts to find out more.

Hotel Aurelio is located at Tannberg 130, A-6764 Lech am Arlberg, Austria. Learn more at aureliolech.com.

Posted in Austria, Drink, Food, Hotels, Living Lech, Luxury, Maddie Salters, restaurants, Travel, Wine | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

London Daily Photo: Converge

LDP 2015.07.15 - Converge

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Living Lech: An Unrivaled Experience at Aurelio’s Lush Spa

Hotel Aurelio Spa

A high point of Maddie Salter’s visit to Lech am Arlberg was her trip to the spa at the Hotel Aurelio. Winner of a Relax Guide SPA Award in 2015, the state-of-the-art location includes a 23-meter swimming pool, experience baths, saunas, treatment rooms, and more while offering a wide array of rare amenities and tailored services.

The aim of Aurelio’s “SPA experience” is simple: total rejuvenation, unhurried and deeply enjoyed. That it combines this philosophy with effortless style is an extra treat. I was delighted by the sleek lines and immersive lighting of its indoor activity pool, the voguish multi-jet shower stations located by the hot baths, the wide lockers with sumptuous robes and slippers at the ready, and the body refreshers from St Barth’s line of moisture-rich products. Though compact, the spa had what felt like a sprawling layout, with its gym, lounge, saunas, treatment areas, and aquatics kept separate, so that each individual element could be indulged in as a complete experience. I savoured having the time to relax between elements, stealing a breath of fresh air on the outdoor deck and cooling off on the cushioned lounge chairs after an hour’s work on the elliptical.

While Lech brims with spa and physiotherapy options, Aurelio stands out with its promotion of total body wellness packages for men, women, couples, and even teenagers. Each spa package can be individually altered to suit an array of desires or to target specifically problematic areas. A typical retreat might include a morning in the Techno Gym with a personal trainer for a full body workout that accommodates athletes and sciatica sufferers alike. Afterwards, a fizzy cold kombucha tea and a rinse off in the showers enliven a visitor for a dip in the pool. Après workout, the aroma steam room or Finnish sauna are both excellent wind-down options, especially when combined with a relaxing soak in the herbal or acoustic hot baths.

For those looking for an afternoon of deep repose or specifically hoping to work out pains, strains, and kinks, Aurelio’s massage menu includes the indulgent Aroma Oil Massage, the vigorous Sports Massage, and the medicinal Individual Massage. All options can be stylized to include slimming, softening, or sensation oils to rejuvenate the skin. For profound skin renewal, a pampering facial at the Aurelio includes a consultation and treatments by celebrated dermatologist Dr Strum, whose anti-aging creams work on a molecular level. Dr Strum works with few spas internationally, and her scientific facial regiments focus on deep hydration, tissue stimulation, and skin tightening.

When a visitor is ready to face the world again (though the Aurelio spa really begs the question, why ever leave?,) the cosmetic rooms await to help guests take on the day, with options that include manicures, pedicures, waxing, lash and brow dying, hairstyling, and makeovers. Want to finish up with a spritz of St Barth’s perfume or cologne, and accessorize with a bit of topaz jewelry on your way out? Check.

During my stay I opted for an hour-long Sports Massage, targeted at my shoulders and lower back, where old injuries made the muscles tight. My massage therapist, Yasmine, did a wonderful job of working all extra summer sporting knots out of my body, rotating and stretching my limbs at intervals during the deep tissue reflexology, so that everything was remarkably loose and limber by the end. I made a habit out of visiting the gym facilities by nightfall, and became unashamedly attached to stealing away into the aroma sauna, preferring the exfoliation by wet heat to that of the dry Finnish sauna. It was addictive: the delicious crackle of cool water being tossed over the hot stones, the fragrant wood of the sauna beds, and spry feeling of weight lifting from my pores as they infused with the herbal cocktail on the air made for a venerable retreat.

Unfortunately, the skin specialist wasn’t available when I visited (a bit before Aurelio’s proper summer season came into swing,) but I was surprised to learn about the “blood cream” Dr Strum had on offer—facial moisturizers based on patient’s individual biology. Talk about lavish!

I was especially impressed by the individualised experience, with the spa catering to visitors on a personal level, altering menu options to fit the needs and inclinations of its guests. Guests include those not staying at Aurelio, with Day Spa hours running 9am to 3pm, at €80/per person (inclusive of a €35 treatment voucher.) For Aurelio guests, the spa stays open until 8pm.

For individuals looking to be truly cosseted, there is the option of having an in-home spa experience. The Aurelio Chalet, a private overnight cabin that can be booked for groups of up to sixteen, includes an exact replica of the Aurelio spa. Treatments can be booked from the comfort of your own cabin, and all amenities remain the same. Especially cozy for families, a projector cinema is included in the home spa, presumably so that guests can have one of the poshest Home Alone II viewings of all time. Oh là là!

Massages at the Aurelio spa start from €90/per person (45 minutes,) and facials begin at €160/per person (70 minutes.)

To read more highlights from my Lech adventure, check out the other posts in my Living Lech series.

Hotel Aurelio is located at Tannberg 130, A-6764 Lech am Arlberg, Austria. Learn more at aureliolech.com.

Posted in Austria, Hotels, Living Lech, Luxury, Maddie Salters, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

London Daily Photo: Steps to Nowhere

LDP 2015.07.14 - Steps to Nowhere

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Living Lech: Sporting and Recreation in the Athletic Alps

IMG_Hans_Wiesenhofer_2005 (4)

In this latest post of her Living Lech series, Maddie Salters takes full advantage of the activities and services on offer at Hotel Aurelio.

The bowstring of my recurve bow groaned backwards, close to my cheek. When I let it go, a feathered arrow went whirring past shady fir trees and mossy grass, directly into the hide of a wild bore. Thirty points.

While game hunting is permitted in Lech (venison, rabbit, and foxes are popular choices,) what I participated in was more of a hunting game. Learning to shoot wooden arrows in surprisingly straight lines or vaulted arcs across a terrain of wilderness, at foam animals that ranged from roaring bears to peaceable bucks. When Hotel Aurelio, whose knowledgeable staff was responsible for my outdoor itinerary, had put “Archery” on the menu, I could have hardly imagined a hike through the wildflower-dappled hills surrounding the hotel, guided to targets at different distances and sizes, standing on tree trunks and jumping over small streams.

It was my first introduction to the world of summer sport and outdoor recreation in the resort town of Lech, and it was a blast. After four days in Lech, my running shoes were dusty with exertion, but I still couldn’t shake the feeling I wanted more time to appreciate everything on offer. Luckily, Hotel Aurelio put together a programme that allowed me to dabble in a wide array of Lech’s summer options. Fishing, llama trekking, cooking classes, and marathon shopping (it may as well be a sport,) were all highlights for me.

Leading a gentle llama named Gregor through sun-kissed valleys, over rivers where holiday fly fishermen greeted us in cheerful German, past lazing cows sharing wide paths with mountain bikers and hikers of all ages, I felt a world away from the hustle of city life. At the Zug pond, a watering hole only a pleasant trek away from the Aurelio, I learned to cast a fishing line and reel in some of the finely raised local trout, which were taken back to the hotel ahead of me to be put on ice for dinner. Enjoying a cool Apfelsaft g’spritzt (a local favourite, made by blending domestic apple juice and sparkling water) on a terrace after a long day out became my preferred way to unwind.

As a newcomer to Lech, I was relatively open to suggestion for what to try. But by day three, when I’d gained some insight about the town, Aurelio was tailoring a bespoke itinerary based my preferences, happy to work with me on the fly and accommodate my interests as they took shape. I took advantage of the Lech Card they provide to all overnight guests, which granted free access to Lech’s chairlifts, tour buses, museums, and more.

CLUB-009723

I appreciated using Aurelio as a hub by which to arrange and personalise my activities. It gave me time to relax and enjoy, while gracious staffers arranged the specifics. I opted out of the sporty Alpine test drive Aurelio that has on offer, shunning the tempting thought of getting behind the wheel of a Bentley or Mercedes, instead opting to enjoy Aurelio’s spa and gym facilities. Had I a longer stay, I would have taken advantage of the nearby tennis courts, golf greens (the Lech Card offers you a day on the three-hole course for free (a new course will debut in summer 2016,) and mountain biking. More daring guests took on paragliding and water rafting, as well as multi-day trekking tours. Hotel Aurelio itself offers a summer menu of personal shopping across Lech’s premier boutiques, as well as helicopter, boating, and golfing tours. All of my experiences were booked through Aurelio, as the hotel has relationships with the local guides and shops.

Lech is especially great terrain for hikers, offering a range of courses, from gentle valley walks for beginners, to advanced Alpine eco-hiking and Olympic altitude training paths. The ski slopes, which make for lilting bike paths in the summer months, cut through varied landscape: there’s an orchid hike, the ancient cultural dwellings of the Walser people, and even an “ibex horn,” a grand clam relic surrounded by fossils up to 200 million years old. I suggest combining a cable car ride in with any hike, for the fantastic panoramic views, and to give your feet a rest. When I was feeling the heat, the natural spring water founts (called “Schwarzbach Riesling”) cooled me off, and the frequent rest stops with benches, hammocks, and cold drinks were much appreciated. (My one Protip would be to bring a range of clothing: temperature can change suddenly in Lech.)

Also a family destination, Sport Park Lech offered indoor climbing, bowling, and gaming courts, fit for a rainy day. The Kid’s Active Club, free with a Lech Card, offers children a romp around the forest pools, Monday-Friday.

Culturally, Lech has a number of surprising summer activities, from classical orchestral festivals, to sports car rallies, to wellness and philosophy symposiums. Musical events take place almost weekly, and its outdoor market pops up on Thursdays, with fresh honey and local wines, accessibly in the centre of town.

From the sun deck of Hotel Aurelio, I enjoyed my final sunset in Lech with the smell of my trout on the grill for an outdoor BBQ.

Hotel Aurelio was the focal point of my trip, providing activities, dining, and spa packages which I enjoyed throughout my stay. Check out my other Living Lech posts to find out more.

Learn more about Hotel Aurelio at aureliolech.com.

Posted in Austria, Hotels, Living Lech, Luxury, Maddie Salters, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

London Daily Photo: Monday

LDP 2015.07.13 - Monday

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Living Lech: Summer at the Magnificent Hotel Aurelio

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During her three night visit to the “fairytale landscape” of Lech, Maddie Salters stayed at Hotel Aurelio, where her “every impulse and need was catered to in a decadent manner indicative of the finest five-star hotels.” According to Maddie, “to say the Hotel Aurelio spoils you would be an understatement: choices seem boundless, from cuisine to entertainment, and bespoke itineraries are par for the course.”

Located in the heart of town, with a vantage point overlooking the cleave of the river Lech through a tousle of pretty Austrian-style cabins, the Aurelio offers a staggering view of the mountain ranges beyond. From the front gate, it’s just a short walk into the city centre, with luxury shopping, weekday markets, fine dining, and terraced cafes serving iced lattes and green apple gelato. A bit of a cool breeze blowing in from snowcapped hills helped to take the edge off the swelter – I happened to visit during the warmest week of the year. The heat made Aurelio’s personal ski lifts an attractive summer option, a fine way to scale the distance to the mountain tops for a picnic, a vista, or a jaunty hike back downhill. You can’t argue with door-to-peak service.

There’s nothing quite like settling in to a welcome glass of bubbly on Aurelio’s terrace, gulping in honeyed air and listening to the faint tinkle of cowbells in the distance to set you right after a day of air travel. The hotel arranged for my transport from Innsbruck airport a private car that tarried through winding mountain paths only open to summer visitors, taking an hour and a half to reach the hotel. Other ports of entry include Friedrichshafen airport, and both Langen and Sankt Anton rail stations. My own trip was preciously scenic—Lech sees to it that its summer slopes are verdant and green as soon as the snow clears, ablaze with wildflowers and offering commanding panoramas.

The first thing that struck me about Aurelio was that it offered the luxury of peace. Lech is hardly what I’d call the boonies, being an elegant, charming, and refined little town, somehow deeply international despite its traditional trappings. But it is nearly untouched by the racket of cars and the clamor of crowds. (Crowd-control in Lech is even in place in the winter, where quality favors quantity, and there are caps on the number of hotel and ski guests allowed. The city prides itself in accommodating every sense, including that of space.) So unusual is it for a Londoner to hear silence that the hotel might have felt removed from contemporary reality, if not for the thoroughly modern service (which includes WiFi on tap across its grounds).

Service at the Aurelio was seamless. My bags didn’t touch my hands between the car and my room, and I knew the first name of each pleasant member of staff within the first half-hour. When I did retire to my room, the signs of exemplary attention to detail were waiting: a welcome bundle of fruit, and sparkling wine on ice. Austrian, of course.  

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My room itself, a lavish double, was wide and sun-dappled. All of the Aurelio’s rooms, from its 14 doubles to five suites, inclusive of its private Chalet, were built using local wood. The smell of sun-baked cedar and pine lulls with rustic charm, and blends seamlessly with its modish style and amenities: a flatscreen high definition television, a minibar stocked with sparkling cider and cool water, and a balcony with cozy blankets included. Aurelio’s restrictive size meant that it was never too crowded, and staffers are always on hand to assist guests.

The rooms themselves feature queen-sized beds with twice-changed sheets, and a bathroom with an eight-pronged shower and waterfall faucet, accessorized by products from L’Occitane en Provence and the St Barth’s line. (Unashamedly, I spent about two hours each night enjoying these facilities, primping away. Naturally, a hair drier is provided, and the full bath has neck pillows for easy reading. Going above and beyond expectation, you can request any toiletries you may need from reception that are not immediately available.) Speaking as someone who travels light, I marveled at the four closets. I found the lack of a coffee or tea maker initially confusing, but the point of Aurelio is to be hands-off: your doppio or earl gray is brought to your room, no need to take off your slippers.

The double rooms struck me as ideal for a romantic getaway or honeymoon. Aurelio’s suites are just right for larger families, accommodating children and incorporating office space for the businessman or woman. For the traveler who wants the very best, the Aurelio Chalet with its own live-in spa, theater, and restaurant offers a multi-floor refuge of comfort. Best of all, each of these options are notably more economic in the summer, paradoxically considered the “off” season.

As for special touches, I was especially delighted to have the opportunity to swathe myself in one of Aurelio’s comely robes and take a moment alone on the balcony with the nightly refresher of fruit that was brought up. The soft, cool sheets of the bed offered a seamless nights’ sleep, perfected by the light waft of sprightly country air coming in from the terrace.

Hotel Aurelio was the focal point of my trip, providing activities, dining, and spa packages which I enjoyed throughout my stay. Check out my other Living Lech posts to find out more.

Hotel Aurelio is located at Tannberg 130, A-6764 Lech am Arlberg, Austria. Learn more at aureliolech.com.

Posted in Austria, Hotels, Living Lech, Luxury, Maddie Salters, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

London Daily Photo: Horizon

LDP 2015.07.12 - Horizon

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Living Lech: Where Luxury and Adventure Await

Lech, schšnste Gemeinde …sterreichs

After a few days of luxury staying at five-star Hotel Aurelio in Lech, Austria, Maddie Salters is delighted to be able to share the highlights of her visit in a series she’s entitled Living Lech.

Lech am Arlberg is a linchpin in European ski culture, known for its flawless slopes and prim luxury hotels, which offer privacy and comfort to winter holidaymakers. But Lech blooms into a little-known treasure in the summer, when its rolling green hills and burbling rivers become the ideal location for hiking, biking, and sport. Michelin-starred plates are served out on sunny terraces and relaxation becomes synonymous with indulgence.

I spent four gorgeous days in Lech at the five-star Hotel Aurelio, a premier name in sumptuous accommodation. Surrounded by the vivacious charm of Lech itself, the Aurelio staff who were responsible for my itinerary showed me the city’s two faces: its adventurous side, built for adrenaline junkies and trailblazers, and its leisure side, an almost hedonistic dose of serious repose and revitalization. Whatever your taste, the sizzling summer months in Lech can accommodate.

More to come!

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London Daily Photo: Readymade Cocktail

LDP 2015.07.11 - Readymade Cocktail

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Infographic: Are You a Grammar Nerd?

The Anatomy of a Grammar Nerd

The folks behind Grammarly claim they’re got the world’s most accurate grammar checker. As you type, Grammarly scans your text to check for over 250 advanced grammar rules. The checks include common grammatical errors such as subject-verb agreement, article use, and modifier placement in addition to contextual spelling mistakes.

With a Facebook fan base of more than five million and an overall community of seven million, they’ve certainly must have the world’s biggest collective of grammar aficionados in the world. To celebrate its growing popularity and a staunch love of language and writing, Grammarly conducted a friendly survey to find out what makes a grammar nerd and shared the results in this fun infographic.

Are you a grammar nerd?

Anatomy of a Grammar Nerd Infographic

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1 Way to Save Big While Visiting Lisbon (OneTravel)

Lisbon Street Scene

Not my first time exploring Portugal’s steeply sloped and indubitably sunny riverside capital and I sincerely hope it won’t be my last – but a recent weekend break in Lisbon turned out to be a brilliant way to spend a few days without having to spend a load of cash. Compared to many European destinations, much of the best that Lisbon has to offer is a bargain and very affordable.

As prosaic as it may sound, the key to unlocking much of my Lisboagood times – and the Lisboa savings – was picking up the …

Read my complete post at OneTravel.

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Camino Tapas Bar Carves a Path to a New Bankside Location

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Popular tapas bar and restaurant, Camino, launched its sixth London venue last month at The Blue Fin Building on Canvey Street. Furthering restaurateur Richard Bigg’s vision of casual Spanish dining in Britain, Camino Bankside offers Londoners more opportunity to enjoy Executive Chef Nacho Del Campo’s smart menu of tapas, sharing platters and more in a stylish setting with plenty of outdoor seating.

Grabbing a bite en route to a show at the National Theatre during an early evening weekday visit last week, Kemey and I were impressed by the swift service. Our waiter was really friendly too and seemed to manage a packed house (or at least the outdoor seating area where we dined was all abuzz) with exceptional grace.

We admired much of the food he presented. I loved the Padron peppers (£5), but let’s face it such a basic dish is hard to screw up. Items requiring a bit more finesse that nonetheless pleased included a great tasting slice of tortilla de patata (£4) and an addictively scrumptious bowl of chipirones a la Andaluza (crisp-fried baby squid with aioli and lemon, £5.50).

Definitely delicious but leaning toward the gratuitous end of the tapas spectrum was the Hamburguesa Iberia (mini Iberico pork burger with Idiazabal cheese, roasted onions, watercress and patatas bravas, £5.75). To be sure I wolfed it down but next time (and I see no reason why there shouldn’t be a next time) I’d probably just go with the secreto Iberico (pork skirt with sweet potato mash, £9.75) or one of the Jamon Iberico charcuteria options.

As at other Camino outlets, the wine list is a good one. We loved our “seductive” bottle Vina Zorzal 2013 (£27) and found it paired fairly well with a mx of dishes.

Room for dessert? A scoop (£1.25 each) of refreshing blood orange sorbet and another of toasted almond ice cream did the trick!

As mentioned, we sat outside but the tiled interior with contemporary Spanish furnishings, moody lighting and looooong and smartly stocked bar looked lovely.

Camino Bankside is located at 5 Canvey Street, SE1 9NA and is among the better-valued eateries wrapped round the ground floor of The Blue Fin Building. Find out more at camino.uk.com.

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London Daily Photo: ‘!

LDP 2015.07.10 - '!

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Preview: The Greatest Spectacle of Lucha Libre at York Hall, Bethnal Green

The Greatest Spectacle of Lucha Libre

An “electrifying three-day extravaganza” headlined by “Mexico’s greatest luchador,” El Hijo del Santo, and starring “the finest Mexican fighters, Bolivia’s famous Fighting Cholitas and the UK’s own Lucha Britannia” and mucho mucho mas enters the ring at York Hall in Bethnal Green tonight, Thursday 9 July to commence what promises to be an epic weekend!

I’m heading to this “greatest spectacle” on Saturday night and cannot wait. I’m not sure if it will live up to the experience I had catching a night of lucha libre at Arena Mexico a few years back in Mexico City, but I have no doubt the evening with be an action packed blast. If you’ve never had the pleasure of witnessing the awesome force that is Mexican professional wrestling, do yourself a massive favour and make this off kilter event your weekend priority.

York Hall is located at 5 Old Ford Road, E2 9PJ. For more information and to book tickets go to luchalibreworld.co.uk.

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Ian Francis | The Chosen Form of Your Destroyer | Lazarides Rathbone

The Chosen Form of Your Destroyer

With each piece appearing to vibrate off the canvas with moody apprehension, Bristol-based artist Ian Francis’ exhibition of new mixed media works at Lazarides Rathbone (his third at the gallery) suggests that nightmares can be beautiful too.

The show is titled The Chosen Form of Your Destroyer and came across to me as a challenge as much as a suitable description. During the brief chance I had to stick my head in at the exhibition’s opening, I could not choose one piece that “did it for me” more than any of the others. All the works devastate thoroughly and insist you give them a long linger of a look.

The Chosen Form of Your Destroyer is on view now and runs until 1 August at Lazarides Rathbone, 11 Rathbone Place, W1T 1HR. Find out more at lazinc.com.

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London Daily Photo ScrewControl

LDP 2015.07.09 - ScrewControl

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Sunlight Gleams on My Strategically Placed Coffee Machine (espressoCrazy)

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Lousy photo? Maybe. But it illustrates well what I’m most pleased to blog about at this moment.

Just look at all that streaming sunlight coming into the shot from my back garden! And what’s it gleaming on? My Francis Francis Y1.1 Touch coffee machine that’s now set up with its own little coffee stand strategically placed just outside the kitchen (which is finally done) on the way to the garden with mugs, cups and saucers, teas, illy capsule canisters etc.

Yep, things are starting to take the right shape at my house with it now actually looking and feeling like an actual clean and livable home … for the most part anyway.

Read my complete post at espressoCrazy.

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Find the Best Hotels near the Top Shopping Areas in London

Hotels Near Top Shopping Areas

Millions of people come to London each year for travel, but they all come for a variety of reasons.

While some may visit the city because it is part of their business, others come strictly to take in some of the tourist sites. Many visit to see some of the great history, art and culture that the city has to offer. Others look forward to visiting the many pubs, restaurants and fine dining establishments that city provides. A large number of tourists come to London for something completely different – the opportunity to do some great shopping. London has some of the finest shopping areas in the world and if you are coming to the city to shop you want to be sure that you look at hotels in Chiswick London as the best place for you to stay.

Staying in the Right Area

Looking for hotels in Chiswick when you are planning a shopping excursion in London can make things much easier for you. Chiswick hotels place you in one of the best spots in the West London area and near to some of the top shopping you will find. You will be near Westfield Shopping Centre and Harrods, two of the most famous shopping spots in the world today. You can also easily get to places like West End, Harvey Nichols, Sloane Street, Brompton Cross and more. There are also countless art galleries, antique shops and smaller shops in the region for you to enjoy. As you look at hotels in Chiswick you will find that the Best Western Chiswick Palace has the most to offer you in terms of comfort, location and price.

A Quality Stay in the Best Location

This hotel can provide you with everything you are looking for in the West London area. The hotel itself is nearby to Heathrow Airport so you can easily get to and from the hotel. You will also find several rail stations and bus terminals nearby to allow you to get around the city easily for all of your sightseeing and shopping. The hotel itself features a number of different sizes of rooms to suit any needs you and your party may have for your stay. Each room offers amenities like free Wi-Fi Internet access, in-room coffee and tea facilities, in-room safes, flat screen TVs, laundry service, babysitting service and more. There is also a continental breakfast available each morning of your stay. You will find all of this plus room rates at very affordable prices.

If shopping is your goal while in London you will find that among the cheap hotels in Chiswick London that the Best Western Chiswick Palace cannot be beat. Take the time to look over the rooms and the availability when you are ready to plan your trip and you will see just how much the hotel has to provide for you. You will get a comfortable stay at a savings that is well within your budget so you can have more time and money to use for your shopping excursions.

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London Daily Photo: Hair Salon, Georgian Village, Wood Street

LDP 2015.07.08 - Hair Salon, Georgian Village, Wood Street

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