Posts Tagged ‘hotel’
Picture a Flemish painting. The Dylan has succeeded to capture the Amsterdam light to perfection, its pale crystal quality which transforms bland tints to a palette of pearl, ivory, luminous and elegant grey. If the building has kept its original charm (the restaurant features beautiful brick walls and even the original bread ovens, memories of a distant past when the room was just a bakery), the hotel has re-modernised some of the structural lines. A purer, more vibrant white, contempory art here and there, a balance between wood, leather and more daring colours, lilac sometimes, an asian inspired lock, a fold-up bar that any traveller would love to bring to each new destination. Some of the luxurious suites remind me of the such well designed New York penthouses. Irresistible charm.
Outside, the night is falling softly. We are in the lounge, the sculptural chimney throws amber shadows all around. We have walked around the city all day, the armchairs are comfortable, soothing the tiredness in our legs and shoulders. A pure moment of peace, which we celebrate with a glass of Apostelhoeve Riesling Brut 2011, produced using the Champagne method. Oh, such a lovely sparkle, fast lace keeping its pace quite a long time too, aromas reminiscent of musk but closer to lemon and vanilla in taste. As if each little bubble magically faded the real world away. The crisp acidity of the wine, making your mouth water for more, is a perfect match to the plump, fruity olives brought to our table.
We’re here for the High Wine. Quite a novelty, a sophisticated version of the afternoon tea. There will be no scones but four carefully chosen wines, each paired with a delicious bite (rather generous though, as you will see), three savoury and one sweet. It easily replaces dinner but with a playful side.
The first wine is a Sauvignon blanc, a Domaine Octavie 2012 from the Touraine region. A floral caress, white lily followed by apple and honey, very modern. This was served with thin slices of halibut, nicely framed by the tanginess of juicy grapefruit. Accompanied by tiny sweet cucumber balls, crunchy mini croutons, a really pleasurable contrast of textures.
The second chapter of this wine story opens on a South Australian chardonnay, a 2012 by Milton Park. look at the golden straw colour! It smells of nectarine, ripe peach, superb pear, a summer afternoon in an orchard, bottled. It is to be enjoyed with Red Gurnard, the pink flesh of the fish easily coming away as tender flakes. Underneath is a nest of freshly made pasta with a succulent, velvety, slightly spicy tomato sauce.
The tasting now turns to red, a poetically named Les Romanes. This Côteaux du languedoc is faithful to its promise: red fruit and spices from the Syrah and garrigue flavours that only the Grenache noir can bring… Soft but enchanting, with just a hint of grass and mint, it would also be perfect with a dessert.
But here, it highlights oh-so-so-so-tender veal slices. Asparagus, blanched to leave a little crunchy texture, a comforting mushroom risotto. All woken up by a touch of Savora mustard, with its famous notes of homey, turmeric, clove, nutmeg…
The High Wine concludes on a suprising Swiss dessert vintage by John & Mike Favre. This Sauvignon, a 2011, proves a real nectar, rich but well structured in sugar, both honeyish and floral. That with the moist banana cake, the kind that makes me think of my mother’s Sunday baking on rainy days, pure heaven. The addition of black pepper ice cream adds another dimension, brings the cinnamon to the fore.
Verdict? Cocooned, charmed by the wide palette of wines, soothed by the music of the open fire, it is rather difficult to find the will to get up and leave… This is an excellent alternative to a formal dinner, with a real refinement in the dishes served. Very romantic atmosphere too.
High Wine – 39.50€ / person
1016 GB Amsterdam
I was recently telling you about the gorgeous, gorgeous beaches in Cornwall, absolutely perfect to let kids run in soft waves and build sand fortresses, let alone invent a thousand adventures. Tempted by a family break there? I have just the hotel for you. Bedruthan Steps is THE ideal place. I am not exaggerating. It is entirely thought through for parents, allowing them an “us and me” time altogether, even if you have forgotten half of the essentials. And whatever the age of your little ones.
First, super comfy rooms, simple but elegant, each presenting Cornish artwork, a painting, a sculpture. And there’s space, lots of it. For an extra bed or two, more still for suitcases and for the kids to play. A working space too should you need one – well balanced worlds. We had a splendid view on Mawgan Porth beach, just down the hill, there is a path you can quickly take to get there. It’s easy to spend the whole day on the sands, up to sunset. In the bathroom, you’ll find Cornwall Soap Box toiletries - herb-filled shampoo and soap bars all handmade locally, organic too. I had to keep one intact just to make the clothes fragrant with this in our suitcase – just imagine: lavander-rosemary-patchouli. It leaves your skin ever so soft after the salt and sand.
The building is… amazingly huge – so many places to explore! Lots of cosy lounges to relax with fantastic armchairs and sofas. And cushions. And toys, even for babies and toddlers – allowing you a pause to drink that coffee. Even better: they have a children’s club with a full program of activities and even softplay. Yes, this will be a holiday for you too. How about a massage at the hotel spa, mmmh? They also propose baby massage lessons and family yoga ones. In the summer time, you can enjoy the outdoor swimming pools (yes, plural) but for cold or rainy days there is a heated indoor one with a smaller paddle-pool for kids who can’t swim yet. The green spaces have a play area with slides, etc… and a picturesque view.
Coming with a baby? The rooms are well sound-proofed. I am still amazed at never hearing a cry at all during my stay. None. Very quiet. But if you’re wondering – there is a microwave available to anyone at any time. And you can go down to the lounges whenever you want in the middle of the night. The reception will listen to you, offer a hot drink, help you de-stress and sometimes that is all you need to in turn soothe your little one. This is all about you here. They will even provide a baby monitor with coverage all the way to their restaurant.
During the day, The Wild Café will welcome you – Scandinavian deco (Skandium touches, Orla Kiely mugs…). Kids friendly, of course: high chairs, patience, round and colourful cutlery, special menus. And, once again, wow, what a view. There are lots of mouthwatering cookies on the counter and treats to take back too, all homemade: Bramley apple, bramble and lemon curd, wild rosehip jelly… This is where breakfast is served: local apple juice, charcuterie, cheese, yogurt, fantastic muesli, even French pancakes! It is open till late evening when replaced by The Herring: more adult (kids from 12+), more gourmet, more refined. Watch this space, I’ll show you very soon what that is all about…
It’s the best family pause I can recommend, really covering all you could dream of. Between everything the hotel has to offer and the nearby beach, I even doubt you need the rest of Cornwall!
Bedruthan Hotel & Spa
It was just before Christmas. One of those days when clouds seem to brush against the Parisian roofs, where light paints everything in shades of grey. When the only weapon against winter sadness seems to be wrapping yourself in the flashiest scarf you can find, a discreet sign of rebellion. And so I pushed the door of la Villa Madame with a sigh of relief, welcomed by a honeyish, comforting luminosity. For a second, the voice of the concierge fades away. There are two glass jars on the side of the counter, one filled with Fraises Tagada (sugary strawberry Haribo, slightly sour, addictive. they dissolve wonderfully in vodka) and marshmallow bears covered in chocolate. Dare to tell me that wouldn’t distract you too…
Some hotels tell a story. La Villa Madame can be explored as you would turn the pages of a beautiful fairy-tale book. At the bottom of the spiralling stairs, a single metallic escarpin looks suspended in the air, silently calling for an urban Cinderella. All around, a rather magical landscape was reinventing snow, orchid blooms recreating snow flakes, carpet of pinecones on the ground, silver birch trees, moss here and there. A few more colourful orchids catch the eye, ephemeral sculptures. The yard had been turned into an alpine alcove, amazing tables cut straight into a tree trunk, showing off natural marble, curved shapes. Sheltered by the Christmas trees, a few candles lit, oh, it wouldn’t have suprised me to see a reindeer appear!
There are a couple of cosy lounges inside too, classical chairs covered in cheerful colours – red circled with gold, a spring green with intricate tracery in the velvety fabric. Art books, a Go game, invite one to stay a little longer, to ask for a steaming cup of green tea…
The room retained the same soothing elegance. It may seem classical, but look closely – little touches of The Orient, a vibrant red, a particular kind of lacquer, a sculpture above the bed like an inked brush tracing a random line. Lots of little details that make it so comfortable, sticking in your mind, making a difference – a design pencil, a very gentleman-like umbrella, a Richard coffee machine with a large choice of capsules (even tea ones for the perfect brew!), books and travel guides to leaf through. In the bathroom, gorgeous orchid and spellbinding Hermes products, green orange zest scent. Such luxury indulging in a bubble bath under an arc of delicate flowers.
Breakfast is quite a feast, the table for two suddenly covered in treats. Creamy scrambled eggs or eggs and soldiers with perfectly grilled sourdough bread… butter pastries, with that particular crunchiness you only really get in France… Chic English jam, Tiptree… Freshly pressed green apple juice, fruit salad… Monogrammed butter – an importance in every detail, the shape of a teapot, the roundness of a knife.
And as for fairy tale stories, it feels such a pity to reach “The End”. How about switching to “And they lived there happy forever after”? Now I get why they give you candies on the way out, to stop you from sighing sadly…
Hôtel Villa Madame
44 Rue Madame
Nice is such a fascinating town that you really want to stay right in the centre, enjoy each moment of sunshine. What you do not want, however, is to spend a fortune on that hotel room. Difficult compromise when you are not a 20 year old and still have an idea of comfort in mind! We stayed at Le Grimaldi hotel, part of the Coeur de City collection. A simple but a very comfortable hotel of the Coeur de City collection. A 4* too! The location is ideal – in the heart of the famous Carré d’Or, 2mn walk from the pedestrian street Massena and 10mn from the station.
Behind a Belle Epoque facade, you can first relax in the colourful lounge, taking in the cheerful atmosphere of the region. In the rooms, the decoration is really cosy, spacious, in appeasing beige hues that capture perfectly the Provence light. A welcoming armchair here, detailed botanical prints there will catch your eye… The bed was so nice I slept 8 hours in a row, which rarely happens in my books! Yes, the building is so quiet, helping you relax immediately, it is quite a break from the routine. Depending on which floor you are on, the view is on the Nice roofs or even towards its beautiful hill. Mine was directly on a palmtree – such a lovely touch of exoticism, even more so in winter. A fantastic good quality/price ratio.
Bonus points for:
* The free, unlimited Wifi. A computer is also available on the ground floor.
* Forgotten anything in your suitcase? There’s a mini supermarket in the street.
* The breakfast buffet is super generous and varied. You can even indulge in brioche and eggs and soldiers!
Hôtel Le Grimaldi Nice
15, Rue Grimaldi
The Legend Hotel is a place where lights really come alive, where nights bring an even more magical atmosphere, very fairy-tale like. Ideally placed between Montparnasse and Saint-Germain with even a tube station around the corner, it truly is a gem. The boutique hotel par excellence, jewel-sized, 34 rooms only, chic but very friendly, every detail in thoughtful design. Oh yes. As soon as you step in – don’t forget to look up and admire the ceiling, blooming into futuristic foliage.
Further on, a tree carries strange fruits, honey light suspended in the air, surreal. This is where you will have breakfast – or simply indulge in a glass of wine. The counter encapsulates forest moss in resin and this is quite a sight. The room opens up to a comfortable lounge, almond armchairs, bottle-shaped lamps, wooden stools. Outside, a tiny yard becomes a cocoon for lovers, cheerful aniseed chairs, red roses on the table, screen of bamboo…
The bedrooms hide behind heavy, gold doors with a metal hammered effect, a fantastic luxurious touch. Do come in. On the walls and ceiling, floral sculptures, some laced with fibre optics, shiny petals projecting complex, poetic shadows on the walls. It feels like sleeping under a starry night. The bed is framed with subtle, transparent, almost vaporous curtains, lit in sepia – such an invite for romance, sweet words, confidences of the night. In this magical setting, dreams can only come true… to the point that you will forget to open the shutters. The ever so comfortable mattress and wide selection of cushions are from Tempur – truly soporific (remember, I called them the Rolls of pillows here).
The bathroom is as elegant. Nice optical illusion on the mosaic, uneven, pearly and glittering, matched with silver accessories. Excellent tropical shower, appeasing, mineral scented toiletries by Pascal Morabito. The space is very Zen, as contemporary as the rest of the hotel.
In the morning, you finally wander onto the balcony and enjoy the view over Hausmanian roofs, such a Parisian sight. Turning around, you’ll notice more details of the room, gold speckles on the curtains, the embossed velvety fabric on the walls…
Do take the time to have breakfast, yes, yes, under that tree. The counter will be covered high with treats – sincerely the best hotel breakfast I have ever seen! Salads, charcuteries, savoury and sweet tartines, fresh fruit salad, cheese, bread, pastries, brioche, a mountain of cakes… There is a great coffee machine too in case you fancy a cappuccino. Loved the tea infusing-bags, very stylish and unusual flavours – honey, herbs, smoked.
A fascinating hotel, sparkling, full of surprises. For memorable weekends!
Such a pleasure to eat outside, in the tiny, tiny but so green terrace space of the Hôtel Amour. Eyes looking at the sky, even if it is grey, feeling free from the outside urban world. Walls covered in ivy and ferns, leafy garlands under the conservatory, a pond with Japanese carps. So soothing. The menu prices are, hum, very Parisian but the selection is delicious. When the waitress underlined the 13 Euros salad was a small portion, she really meant it. It would not be a meal even if you were on a strict diet. It was, however, suberb, super fresh products, super tasty: peas, broad peas, chiselled herbs, lemon zests, melt-in-the-mouth goat’s cheese. Why not try the summery faisselle with honey and pinenuts? Or the small (yep, you got the message) but so cloud-like Valrhona chocolate mousse sprinkled with chopped hazelnuts (I so have to do this at home)? Warming: the address is very well known and very much like so do book to avoid disappointment.
8 rue Navarin
Life is sweet in Berlin. Streets are so vibrant closer to the evening, laughs cascading, terraces getting busy, music making you feel so alive. You want to stay close to this night life, as close as you can. In Mitte, the art and shopping center, we loved Lux 11 with rooms so spacious you can really call them an apartment. Even better, they do have a kitchenette complete with fridge, microwave and dishwasher : ideal if you are staying more than a week-end.
And, oh, the joy of getting back to the flat bathed in light, kicking off your shoes, walking barefoot on the comfy carpet and crashing on that bed with crisp white sheets… The bathroom is very discreet, melting in the room deco, the shower (tropical rain effect, my favourite) hidden behind a mirror. Even the usual goodies (cotton, file…) are put in a lovely box closed with a ribbon. And finally a hotel that puts a real green concept in place (and not just the towel changing thing). Rather than the miniature toiletries (lovely to take back but such a waste of plastic too when you think of it), giant bottles decorated by a designer. Called Love it or leave it, they exist in two ranges for the shower gel and body cream: women (fresh and floral) and men (spicy, a touch of musc).
Little luxuries such as a plasma screen and DVD player are also there. On the desk, we found the cutest vodka bottle, shaped as a skull which you can buy in various sizes from reception. And sweets for the sweet, a popcake planted in bear candy, this animal being the symbol of Berlin.
The little plus: fashionistas will want to make a detour via the Aveda hair-spa, highlighting plant power.
Some rooms, like ours, also have a balcony so do enjoy the local view: straight on, a 10mn walk, is the famous Fernsehturm, from which you can have a 360 degrees view on the town.
Rosa-Luxemburg Str 9-13
Just for info – a taxi ride from Tegel Airport on a Friday evening is a mere 21€. There also is a bus from/to the airport stopping a few streets away, for a few euros.
Fancy celebrating Canada Day? Here are a few ideas. Trafalgar Square will hold quite a party on July 01, concerts included. You can also indulge in the special Canadian menu at the Charing Cross Hotel. Or you can raise your glass to this fascinating country at the Glenn Miller bar, overlooking Oxford Street (and shopping can make you so thirsty right?). The atmosphere is of course dedicate to the American singer, a little swing, a little jazzy, funly blue lights, memorabilia on the walls. And their brand new creations, The Red Frog. Aromas of juicy fruit, of almond. To the palate, nutty, very refreshing, sweet, reminding slightly of kirsch but slightly more floral. The secret? Chambord, Canadian Club, Disannoro and cranberry juice. The little plus? The cherry - not on the cake but in the cocktail, infused with the flavours. Go on. You know you want one too…
Glenn Miller Bar
Thistle Hotel Marble Arch
London W1H 7EH
Did you know Canada Day is on July 01? London being an incredible melting pot, Trafalgar Square will theme a whole party around this – music and food included. You can also go the extra step, especially if you are nostalgic from this fascinating country. The Charing Cross Hotel is just a minute walk from there and will be serving a few treats inspired by the maple syrup territory… The perfect conclusion!
Iprobably have passed this hotel a thousand times. I never expected such splendour inside – quite a surprise. Flower arrangement, comfy chairs, very cocoon like Just go up the gorgeous stairs (ah to come here for a ball with a luxurious silky gown!), The Brasserie is on the first floor with sculpted ceilings and chiselled glass lamps. It overlooks The Strand, offering a lovely natural light and design atmosphere.
Chef Tim Wanless recently visited Canada and was so inspired he could not resist receating some of the delicious ideas and specialties. Sit back, order a chilled Coors and enjoy. The mains include a tempting Grilled Canadian Pacific Salmon Steak with Clam Chowder and Ontario sweet corn which I hear simply melts in the mouth. Yet t my heart fell for the Newfoundland Caribou wrapped in Peameal bacon, the title simply made me smile. No worry, no real caribou but the most superb venison you have ever tasted, served pink and so, so intense in taste. Let alone they have matched two different cuts. This is wrapped in a Toronto special bacon, marinated in maple syrup which added a sweet final note that is particularly addictive. Such tender meat, such a complex taste, you simply cannot stop. And look at the plate - doesn’t it look like a work of art, with the carrot and parsnip mash, the confit fennel like stylish touches on a contemporary painting? I wasn’t expecting such an elegant dish, and spent a few minutes just taking pictures of it. It makes it taste even better!
The oh-so-famous pancakes are of course on the dessert menu with a very elegant maple syrup ice-cream, the kind you feel like licking the spoon for. My curiosity was stronger. What could the Beaver Tail look and taste like? Imagine dough, flattened and fried, topped with butter. No greasiness though, just pure taste, a lot more flavour than I expected. This is absolutely decadent with maple syrup, jam, peanut butter or Nutella. Or you can try a bit of each - I did. I ever found out you can have a layer of jam on top and of Nutella inside and that is pure bliss. I still do not have a favourite. Just don’t think of the calories, go for it! I swear you will miss these at breakfast the following day.
This Canadian menu is served until July 01 so be quick, go and try it! It is ever so rare to get a taste of Canuck cuisine: not to be missed. Main meals start from £13.95 per person and desserts cost £6.50 per person.
Charing Cross Hotel
London WC2N 5HX
Afternoon teas are so very British. But the London touch is to constantly reinvent them, make them magical. Here is a most fantastic one, a Thai twist, fusion of two culture. Pure elegance and refined taste, with an extraordinary attention to details, down to the traditional chiselled flowers.
This takes place at Nipa Thai, a gem hidden on the first floor of Lancaster London hotel. Gorgeous chairs, discreet but perfect service, golden sculptures on the wall, curved arum flowers on the tables…
…and a fantastic view on Hyde Park. This is only the first floor and yet, being above the double decker changes everything, almost as if there were no window, as if you were on a terrace and could touch the branches. How did we not know about this? Is this one of London’s most guarded secrets?
First are brought warm towels, lemongrass fragranced. The perfect transition, allowing you to leave the routine outside and relax. Why not ask for a fresh mint tea which will underline the exotic tastes perfectly?
And that is when you go wow. Just wow. There is no other word for it. You were expecting a treat, this is a feast in 4 plates.
First, the sandwiches, remodernised. A vegetarian version, cream infused with green papaya, avocado and just a hint of chilli… Moist bang bang chicken, slightly peppery on caraway seed bread… Rare spiced beed with pickled cucumber on white bread… Thai shrimp salad, so very tasty on tomato bread. What a range of colours, so beautiful you almost want to play dominos with them. the kind of sandwich you take a bite a of, mmmmh, then gesture to your friends they have to try this at this very instant.
For more exotic flavours, switch to the next plate - crunchy spring roll, sweetcorn and vegetable fritters with lemony pan sauce, ravioli hiding a bite of chicken and nuts, sweet, crunchy: I could eat a mountain of those!
Desserts are as extraordinary and could sincerely be in a French pâtisserie, there is a real savoir-faire behind these. It is just difficult to decide where to start! With the banana doughnut and its heart of caramelised coconut rice? Ot the cloud like chocolate mousse cake, made with coconut milk and jasmine, and just a touch of liquid chocolate on top that melts in the mouth? The lychee log is lovely too, wrapped in thin sliced of fresh pineapple. There also is quite a surprising Thai Bakewell tart, cruncy thin pastry, water chestnut layer, silky coconut cream and cherries. Yet my favourite definitely is the sweet sushi: mango, coconut rice pudding, more mango and seaweeds. So different, so fine, so refreshing too.
Of course, there are scones, some plain, others mango flavoured. Just add your clotted cream then choose between a strawberry & basil jam or an orange and jasmine one. It is not just an afternoon tea, it’s an edible poem!
A last note, a Thai shot with lychee jelly, cubes of fresh mango and pineapple, sprinkled with cocont. Melt in the mouth, simply divine.
The most surprising is the price. All this, with such a quality, for £22/person? Really? In London? What are you waiting for? Bring the love of your life, your mum, your best friends!
Thai afternoon tea, from June 01, 2013
Served on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 14.00 to 16.00
Lancaster London hotel, 1st floor
London W2 2TY