Browsing Category

Hotels – Luxury

Hotels, Hotels - Luxury, London, Restaurants

Pret a Diner: The Bohemians

Ultra-cool, nomadic collective Pret a Diner has returned to London, bringing a touch of decadence and culture to the city’s dining scene.

Pret a Diner: The Bohemians, from Royals to Rogues, revives the spirit of artistic London and Cafe Royal Hotel is the perfect location, steeped in its own rebellious history.  Creative greats such as Oscar Wilde, Mark Twain, Virginia Woolf, Andy Warhol, The Beatles and Madonna have all graced the glamorous Regent Street hotel.

Last week, we visited for KP Kofler’s unique dining experience that has brought two Michelin starred New York-based chefs to the UK.  Chef Patti Jackson’s Delaware and Hudson is one of Williamsburg’s hottest prix-fixe restaurants while Ryan Tate has received acclaim as head chef of farm to table restaurant Blenheim in the West Village.

They’ve join Andrew Turner, Executive Chef at Cafe Royal Hotel, to create a special four-course set dinner with dishes cooked by each chef.  The menu is modern American with Dutchy Pennsylvanian influence and offers a rare taste of the three restaurants.

Exquisite restaurant The Domino has been transformed into a bohemian den of iniquity with dramatic flowers, crystal-encrusted animal skulls and objets d’art at play with the room’s gilded opulence.  We were seated at a table for two and the cool, unpretentious staff took us on a culinary journey, explaining each dish thoroughly.

On arrival, we were presented a delightfully fragrant Bohemian Punch, made with gin and jasmine tea punch.  Served in a vintage-style cut glass coupe with a sprig of jasmine clipped to the side, the cocktail was refreshing, elegant and lightly perfumed – my ideal kind of drink.

The drinks menu has been devised by Cafe Royal Bars Manager Tiziano Tasso and Dominic Jacobs of The Running Horse Mayfair and The Whip.  DJs Maxology provide a hip soundtrack alongside guest DJs and The Unit London has curated the intriguing artwork.

We started with a sharing plate of snacks with bites from all of the chefs.  Pea and Sorrel by Ryan Tate was a delicate orb filled with a lovely chilled pea soup.  It melts quickly, so should be scooped up with a spoon and devoured instantly.  Baltimore Crab with Pickled Ramps by Patti Jackson was a nice blend of sweet and tart.

My favourite snack was Andrew Turner’s Cheese and Truffle – velvety, cool, truffle-infused cheese packed inside a miniature plant pot, topped with enoki mushrooms, black sesame crumbs and a pesto crisp bread.  The snacks were accompanied by some rather lovely molecular olives that burst in the mouth, crispy cheese straws for dipping and Patti Jackson’s tasty Dutchy Pretzels with Cafe Royal butter.

We started with a beautifully-presented Tuna Carpaccio with Gentleman’s Relish by Andrew Turner.  The chilled, silky tuna carpaccio was  dotted with soy and ginger sauce and complemented by a quail’s egg with caviar, thin slices of mooli, radishes, chunky cucumber and burnt-edge shallots wrapped around smooth gentleman’s relish (sorry to ruin the mystery but it’s a kind of anchovy paste).

I’m not a fan of cucumber, so some parts of this starter weren’t so well suited to my palate, but it’s certainly a fresh and interesting dish.

The main courses however were right up my street and happily there was a choice of two so we could have a taste of both.  I went for Patti Jackson’s indulgent Duck with Celery Pecan Gratin and Rhubarb.  This was high end American comfort food at its very best and an absolute joy to eat.

The tender, juicy duck was cooked perfectly medium and was elevated by duck confit coated in golden breadcrumbs with strong meat and herb flavours.  The celery pecan gratin was lightly creamy with a mature cheese flavour and the roasted rhubarb added a welcome touch of sharpness.  It was served with simple whole asparagus and finished with a rich duck jus.

Steven went for the lighter Seabass with Piquillo Pepper, Fennel and Dill by Andrew Turner.  The beautifully cooked fish was succulent and flaky with a lovely crispy skin.  It went very well with the dill-infused piquillo pepper puree and was punctuated with black olive crumble and olive pearls.

For dessert, we both enjoyed Ryan Tate’s Strawberries, Maple Vacherin and Buttermilk. It was a pleasure to crack open the delicious maple-infused meringue to reveal the fresh sliced strawberries, airy vanilla cream and the slightly tart buttermilk sorbet.  I can’t think of a more satisfying, sweet and refreshing dessert to finish the meal with – it was simply divine.

As if that sugar high wasn’t enough, we were treated to a pot of fresh mint tea served with petit fours.  We grazed on a box full of bubblegum white chocolate truffles, cola pâtes de fruit, dark chocolate orange sticks and salted caramel popcorn in a miniature plant pot.

To walk off the splendid dinner, we took a stroll around to view the carefully-chosen artworks by Jake Wood-Evans and Ryan Hewett.  Look out for the striking John Lennon piece in the bar.

Not only is Pret a Diner a memorable sensory dining experience in a beautiful location, but it offers the chance to try signature dishes straight out of New York.  I recommend dining a little later than usual when the atmosphere becomes more lively and taking your time to really take in the experience.

Pret a Diner: The Bohemians runs until 23rd May at The Club at Cafe Royal Hotel. Priced at £75 per person, including a four-course menu, snack sharing plate from three different chefs, petit fours and coffee.  For more information, visit: www.pretadiner.com

Chérie City was a guest of Pret a Diner

Photos by Pret a Diner

Dublin, Hotels, Hotels - Luxury, Restaurants

A Weekend at The Westbury, Dublin

My weekend trip to Dublin with my mum was made especially memorable with our stay at The Westbury Dublin.

Part of the family-run Doyle Collection, The Westbury is a luxury, five star hotel in the heart of the city, just off Grafton Street.  It’s also a member of The Leading Hotels of the World, so you can expect that extra attention to detail and top class service.

The hotel’s grand marble lobby is impressive and always buzzing with guests checking in or relaxing in the lounge.  It really comes to life with fine artwork, exquisite floral arrangements and twinkling crystal chandeliers.

Afternoon tea in the lobby lounge is quite an institution in Dublin and we loved spending time there on the comfy sofas in front of the roaring open fire.  There’s even a Champagne trolley to add that extra touch of decadence.

Our check-in was swift and very welcoming – we were offered a bottle of mineral water each and a map to get our bearings.  On the way to our Deluxe Twin Room on the second floor, I was impressed that the lift has a leather bench to rest your weary feet between floors, just like Claridges in London.

Even before entering our room, I fell in love with the long corridors covered with pastel-hue striped walls and a Beverly Hills vibe.  Our spacious room was just as pretty, designed in a soft neutral palette with highlights of crimson, chocolate and beige.

Happily we both had a queen-size Sealy bed covered with 300 thread count Lissadell linen, a velvet throw and floral cushions to ourselves.  The room also features a fantastic walk-in wardrobe, 32″ flatscreen TV, executive writing desk, minibar, Nespresso machine and a kettle with plenty of tea and coffee.

We were kept well hydrated during our stay with a number of complimentary bottles of mineral water, as well as a welcome gift of large bottles of San Pelegrino sparkling and still water and a generous fruit bowl.

The luxurious marble bathroom has a deep-soaking tub and a shower with good pressure, plenty of extra-wide towels as well as a two full sets of gorgeous Aromatherapy Associates bathroom products.  Plush bathrobes and slippers give that extra touch of comfort.

On our first evening, we enjoyed dinner in the hotel’s newest restaurant Balfes.  Named after the street it’s located on, Balfes has a modern European bistro feel and it was buzzing with a well-heeled crowd on Saturday night.

We were seated at a cosy corner booth on a long Chesterfield sofa with good views of the street outside and the open kitchen.  The menu is a tempting mix of crowd-pleasers and more creative dishes, all cooked using the finest Irish seasonal produce.

To start, I ordered the most delicious Pan-fried scallops with carrot & ginger and a sesame crumb (€14).  The four plump scallops were perfectly golden on the outside and I loved the subtle Asian flavours of smooth, ginger-infused carrot puree and nutty sesame.

My mum went for a lovely and simple Celeriac soup topped with fresh herbs and drizzled with olive oil and served with wedges of sundried tomato and soda bread.

Balfes’s secret weapon is a josper grill, so I couldn’t resist following the scallops with some good Irish grilled meat.  I really enjoyed my Loin of milk-fed veal, roast artichoke, confit potato and baby spinach.  The enormous piece of veal was tender and succulent with a smoky, charcoal taste and the vegetables were a perfect accompaniment.

I thought my main course couldn’t be beaten, but my mum’s Fish and chips with crushed peas and tartare sauce was out of this world.  The fresh, flaky cod was covered in the most delicious beer batter and was served with a cone of tasty skin-on chips.

The only thing that didn’t hit the spot was my Banoffi with hot chocolate mousse (€7.50). It was swimming in a rich dark chocolate sauce that overpowered the sliced banana, vanilla ice cream and chocolate cookie base.

My mum’s Rice Pudding with coconut and mango was excellent with a pleasant texture and fragrant, Thai-inspired aromas.  We finished the meal with pots of fresh mint tea and rolled up to bed feeling full and content.

After a good night’s sleep in our heavenly beds, we headed down to the hotel’s main restaurant Wilde for a delicious, leisurely breakfast.  The restaurant is of course named after Dublin’s own Oscar Wilde and the hotel is just short walk away from the Oscar Wilde Monument at nearby Merrion Square.

We were seated at a table with plush velvet seating and were swiftly served pots of freshly-brewed coffee and tea, plus our choice of white or brown toast with salted butter.

I loved the pancakes with berry compote, mascarpone and maple syrup and my mum enjoyed fantastic scrambled eggs served with bubble and squeak and a grilled tomato.

On the second morning, we decided to keep it light and go for a few bites from the generous continental buffet.  Everything is high quality and we particularly liked the chocolate cake with cocoa nibs, pain au chocolat and home-made granola yoghurt pots.

The Westbury is a stunning, perfectly-located hotel with exquisite hospitality, where you can feel truly at home.

Is there anything that could make it even better?  Well, perhaps a small spa to complete the five star experience, however guests can indulge in some pampering with the Take 30 with The Westbury and Crème de la Mer package just around the corner at luxury department store Brown Thomas.  For a luxury weekend in the heart of Dublin, The Westbury should be top of your list.

Rooms at The Westbury start from €230 per night on a bed and breakfast basis.  For reservations visit www.doylecollection.com/hotels/the-westbury-hotel or call +352 (1) 679 1122.

Chérie City was a guest of The Westbury

Photos by Chérie City and The Westbury (Balfes interior by Paul Winch-Furness)

 

 

Beauty, Hotels, Hotels - Luxury, London, Spa

Sodashi Facial at Sense Spa at Rosewood London

The colder months in London can be tough on the skin, so what better to way to get the glow back than with a revitalising facial?

For a few hours of uninterrupted ‘me time’, I visited Sense Spa at Rosewood London – an urban sanctuary within the five star luxury Holborn hotel.

Sense Spa works exclusively with Australian high end natural skincare brand Sodashi and it’s currently the only spa in London where you can experience a treatment using its products. I’ve had the pleasure of using Sodashi face and body products before, but this was my first time trying a Sodashi treatment and it was just as heavenly as I expected.

Sense Spa has sleek, Asian-inspired interiors and a seductive atmosphere with dimmed lighting, glowing lanterns and aromatic aromas filling the air.

I arrived 30 minutes before my treatment to begin my spa journey with a relaxing detox in the sauna and steam room.  The spa facilities have a private feel and are located in the separate changing rooms with bamboo and slate walls and underfloor heating.

You’re always aware of being in a luxury hotel with attention to small details such as large glass bottles of still and sparkling water with an ice bucket, fine glassware and very plush robes.  I also loved the quirky locker door handles in the shape of regal-looking animals – an easy way of remembering which one is yours.

The spa facilities are available to both spa and hotel guests and I was pleasantly surprised to find I had them all to myself during my visit.  The sauna and steam room were powerful and immaculately maintained and the sensory showers were fun with different rainfall experiences and a tropical vibe.

My therapist Lara met me in the stunning gold leaf and teak relaxation lounge and led me to a cosy treatment room.  I was offered a delicious red berry juice to sip on while she examined the current state of my skin and identified what I wanted to achieve from my Pure Radiance Facial (60 mins/£110).

My main goals were clearing some blemishes, adding moisture to dehydrated areas and bringing some radiance back to my skin.  Happily the consultation was thorough but didn’t take too long, without the extensive lifestyle analysis that I’ve experienced at some spas.

The heated spa bed was raised on both sides to make it super comfortable and a wide cushion was placed behind my knees to balance the pressure.  Once the music was chosen and I was neatly tucked in, Lara encouraged me to take slow, deep breaths, inhaling the aromas of calming essential oils that invigorate the senses.

My covered legs, feet and arms were lightly pressed to get the energy flowing.  My skin was double-cleansed with a light camomile cleansing lotion and hydrated with a calming rose face mist.  Lara used lymphatic drainage massage to reduce any puffiness and concentrated on congested areas around my t-zone.

A gentle, non-abrasive face polish exfoliated my skin and then a plant essence replenish mask was applied.  While the mask was working, I enjoyed the most divine head massage, as well as having the knots in my shoulders kneaded away.

My skin was then finished with a spritz of face mist, eye-lifting gel, balancing serum and a balancing face and neck moisturiser.

After my treatment, I was led to the relaxation lounge to stay in this blissful state a little longer.  I reclined on the comfy spa bed with copies of Vogue and Tatler and was served warming jasmine tea in a decorative Chinese porcelain cup designed exclusively for Rosewood London.

The central table also offers large carafes of citrus-infused water and fresh fruit to keep you feeling refreshed.  While I was revelling in some peaceful magazine-reading, Lara prepared a tailored list of Sodashi products that would benefit my skin at home.

Leaving Sense Spa through the hotel’s attractive courtyard, my skin felt plump, smooth and thoroughly hydrated.  I avoided wearing make-up for the rest of the day, so I really felt the benefit of the products and those precious few hours of tranquility.

The Sodashi Pure Radiance Facial is ideal for those looking for a holistic, natural treatment with effective results.  With excellent spa facilities, friendly staff and elegant surroundings, Sense Spa at Rosewood London is the place to be for a spot of indulgence in the city.

For more information and booking, visit: www.sensespalondon.com

Cherie City was a guest of Sense Spa at Rosewood London

All photos by Rosewood London

Hotels, Hotels - Luxury, London

Templeton Place Luxury Serviced Apartments, London

On my most recent travels, I had the pleasure of spending the night at Templeton Place luxury serviced apartments before jetting off from Heathrow to Miami the next morning.

Templeton Place is part of London-based Supercity Aparthotels and the stylish sister property of The Rosebery in leafy Clerkenwell, where I stayed and loved last summer.

The high end Suites are located on a quiet residential street in Earl’s Court, west London, just moments away from the bustling high street and Earls Court Underground station. They’re in an ideal spot for exploring the nearby V&A, Natural History Museum, Knightsbridge department stores and Hyde Park.

The splendid converted Victorian townhouse certainly looks the part and inside, the reception and corridors and decorated with interesting contemporary artworks.  While the exterior may appear traditional, there is a zippy, modern lift to take you and your luggage up to your fully air-conditioned Suite.

Templeton Place features an impressive 30 Suites, including the ample Studios, larger Premier Studios and One Bedroom Suites.  There is also a day-time reception desk and daily concierge to assist with any arrangements and reservations, just like a hotel.

We arrived late afternoon and entered the password on the front door keypad, then found our key waiting for us in the secure internal postbox (there’s also an emergency helpline to call if you have any problems getting in).

Our Premier Studio on the second floor was spacious and homely with high ceilings and soaring windows, designed in a bright palette with charcoal, orange and yellow highlights.  I was delighted to discover that many of the furnishing were similar to those used at The Rosebery and the standard of accommodation was equally high.

The open-plan room features a comfy sofa and coffee table, leading on to a dining area with a flat-screen TV and fully-equipped kitchen.  There is also a dedicated working area with attractive decorative plates overhead and complimentary, high-speed wifi.

The sleek kitchen is filled with home comforts, including an oven-microwave, hob, washing machine with dryer, fridge, kettle, toaster and a full set of crockery, cutlery and glassware.  The only appliance it doesn’t have is a dishwasher, but that wasn’t a problem with our short stay.  It’s also worth noting that there is a weekly maid service.

A Nespresso machine and plenty of espresso capsules, plus a selection of black and herbal teas are kindly provided.  I was pleased to find thoughtful touches such Club biscuits to munch on and an Aerolatte milk frother for bedtime hot chocolates.  There was also a small bottle of milk and two bottles of mineral water in the fridge – a kind welcome amenity.

We prepared a quick and tasty meal from M&S on Earl’s Court Road that evening and found the appliances easy to use.  It was a great convenience to have the use of a well-appointed kitchen and make the stay even more relaxing.

The sleeping area was sectioned off from the living room with a frosted glass partition, however the TV was still comfortably visible.  The king-size bed was heavenly with the finest linen, plump pillows and plenty of decorative cushions.

Despite it being a busy evening in Earl’s Court, there was no noise from the street below and we slept ever so soundly, which is exactly what you want before a morning flight.

The slick, shiny bathroom was petite but well-appointment with a fantastic walk-in shower, heated towel rail, plenty of wide, high quality towels and a full set of Gilchrist & Soames bathroom products.

Templeton Place is a real home away from home and the perfect base to feel settled during a long-stay in London.  The Suites’ Earl’s Court location is great for local shopping, transport links into the city and also quick access to Heathrow Airport.

Above all, it’s a real pleasure to hold the keys to a quintessential London townhouse and live like a well-heeled local in this desirable postcode.

A Studio Suite at Templeton Place starts from £189.60 per night and is subject to a minimum stay of 7 nights.  For more information and booking, visit: www.supercityuk.com

Chérie City was a guest of Templeton Place

Photos by Cherié City (exteriors by Templeton Place)

Accessories, Designers, Fashion, Hotels, Hotels - Luxury, London, London Fashion Week, Restaurants, Shopping

Chloé Debuts at Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London

It’s rare that I write about hotel packages, but Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London’s partnership with French fashion maison Chloé is just too fabulous not to share.

I can’t resist a luxury fashion and hotel collaboration when it’s done well and the Chloé Debuts package is a cut above the rest.  In celebration of London Fashion Week, hotel guests can own the Drew handbag ahead of the shows and enjoy a limited edition Chloé afternoon tea at The Rosebery with Chloé champagne cocktails.

The package also includes one night’s accommodation for two in an elegant Knightsbridge Turret Suite, à la carte breakfast for two, personalised service at Chloé on Sloane Street to receive the Chloé Drew bag, plus a bottle of Chloé Love Story perfume.

As someone who owns almost every Chloé fragrance, I’m interested to see if the special champagne cocktails will be inspired by notes in the fragances (a current cocktail trend in London) or the colours and shapes of the new collections.  Either way, they’re sure to be refined and feminine, befitting their exquisite surroundings in The Rosebery.

In addition to the hotel package, there will be a mannequin showcasing the fashion collection in the Lobby, plus two vetrines displaying the Drew bag in a number of colours and patterns.

Drew is a delicate, modern saddlebag with round, sculpted lines, sumptuous leather, a knotted fob chain and horseshoe pivots – available in three sizes.  Who could resist?

Do you love hotel and fashion brand partnerships?  Which is your favourite fashion-inspired afternoon tea at a luxury hotel?

The Chloé Debuts accommodation package starts from £1,568 and is valid from 12th February to 9th March.  For more information and booking, visit: www.mandarinoriental.com/london 

Hotels, Hotels - Luxury, Miami, Restaurants

The Restaurant at The Setai, Miami Beach

The highlight of our recent stay in Miami was a beautiful dinner at The Restaurant at The Setai Miami Beach.

The luxury five star hotel occupies a prestigious spot on Collins Avenue and brings a touch of the Far East to South Beach with sleek, Asian-inspired interiors.

A member of The Leading Hotels of the World, The Setai boasts an authentic Art Deco facade and was originally built in 1938 as the Dempsey-Vanderbilt Hotel.  It now also includes an adjacent 40-storey glass residential tower.

Arriving at The Setai, it immediately feels sophisticated and seductive with dimmed lighting, a buzzing atmosphere and a hint of aromatic incense to stir the senses.

The interiors are both grand and minimal with accents of Burmese teak, Indonesian bronze and dark grey bricks sourced from Art Deco buildings in Shanghai.

The hotel is equipped with an impressive number of amenities including three pools all set at different temperatures, four restaurants and bars and The Spa at Setai by THÉMAÉ.

We visited on a lively Saturday night and were warmly greeted and shown to our lovely table in the courtyard.  A wedding with elegant, well-heeled (and very lucky) guests was in full swing on one side of the courtyard, so we had the chance to watch the celebrations while dining.

While The Setai Grill is dedicated to Asian specialities, Executive Chef Mathias Gervais has created a stunning Mediterranean menu for The Restaurant at The Setai.  The dishes are inspired by the traditional flavours and cooking techniques of Europe’s ‘Sun Coast’ and are as light as they are tasty.

We started our meal with a round of expertly-mixed cocktails from the bar.  My Plum Tart was sweet and potent with a mix of home-made plum wine, Bombay Sapphire Gin, cranberry juice, fresh lime juice, dememera sugar and orange bitters.

Steven’s Rose Hip Whiskey Sour was a classic with a pretty, fragrant twist.  It was an easy-to-drink blend of orange peel-infused Glenrothes Alba, Kaval rose hip liqueur, calamansi lime juice, simple syrup and egg white.

We always endeavor to try completely different dishes, but I forgot to check Steven’s order when at the last second I also opted for the Lobster Salad ($29).  Of course, it wasn’t a decision I regret as it was an absolutely divine starter.

A generous amount of chilled, meaty poached Maine lobster was accompanied by chunky pieces of watermelon and zesty pink grapefruit segments.  It was marinated in a punchy, tart citrus dressing and garnished with delicate frisée and piquant chili strands.

I followed with Giant Prawns ($48), grilled ”a la plancha”.  Two prawns may sounds rather meagre for a main course, but these little beasts were simply enormous.

The plump, succulent prawns were served shelled with the heads decoratively reattached.  They were nicely seared to golden brown and full of flavour without much seasoning needed.  They were served with a selection of perfectly-cooked seasonal vegetables including whole asparagus, sweet carrots, courgettes, broccoli and cherry tomatoes.

The prawns were finished with an emulsion of Pata Negra, which gave the dish just a touch of saltiness without overpowering the natural seafood flavours.  It was a light yet satisfying dish that let the ingredients do the talking and it didn’t require any side dishes.

Steven went for a slightly more indulgent Pat LaFrida Bone-In Short Ribs ($42).  The slow-braised beef was incredibly juicy, tender and the finest quality.  It was served with comforting potato gnocchi that was pillowy and light as air and doused in a rich, meaty jus.

The flavours were intensified with typically Mediterranean Niçoise olives and a silky, aromatic herb crème fraîche that melted beautifully over the beef.  Even though this was a more extravagant choice, it still had a lightness of touch.

For dessert, I couldn’t resist the Bavarois Cake ($13).  The pretty, pink dessert featured a crunchy pistachio biscuit base and was layered with cool raspberry cream, zingy passion fruit mousse, fine sponge and a vibrant blackcurrant glaze.  It was finished with uplifting lemon sorbet, biscuit crumble, a chocolate curl and a few dots of raspberry coulis.

Steven went for a classic Baba au Rum ($12).  The golden, brioche-like Neapolitan cake was doused in high quality Jamaican rum and served with plenty of lightly-whipped, vanilla scented crème Madame and luxurious vanilla ice cream.

It was a traditional European dessert done extremely well with no surprises or tweaks needed.

We finished the meal with peppermint tea served in Asian-style cast iron pots, accompanied by dainty, freshly-baked Madeleines.  Leisurely sipping away, we spent time soaking up the atmosphere and enjoying the balmy Miami weather.

We left this blissful oasis of calm feeling relaxing and well-nourished before experiencing Collins Avenue in its full neon-sprawling, Saturday night glory.

The Restaurant at The Setai is a fabulous spot to experience exceptional food and people-watch in exquisite surroundings.  Service is not only warm and attentive but experience and intuitive.  It was a very memorable meal and if this is the standard of The Restaurant, I can only imagine the joys of staying at The Setai.

For more information and booking, visit: www.lhw.com/thesetai

Chérie City was a guest of The Setai

Photos by Chérie City and The Setai

The Restaurant at the Setai on Urbanspoon

Bars, Hotels, Hotels - Luxury, London, Restaurants

Dinner & Champagne at Bistro 51, St. James’ Court, A Taj Hotel

St. James’ is a part of historic London that feels so elegant, refined and quintessentially English.  With the city developing so rapidly, a stroll through this neighbourhood reminds me of London’s dapper, old world charm.

Nestled on Buckingham Gate is the luxurious St. James’ Court, A Taj Hotel.  Its exquisite Victorian architecture makes it one of London’s most attractive hotels and the lobby is just as welcoming with marble floors, warm wood panelling and plush seating.

We visited last week for dinner, courtesy of the lovely folk at Zomato, and on arrival we headed to The Hamptons Bar at the back of the lobby for a decadent Laurent-Perrier Champagne Flight with specially-paired canapés.  We had a cosy table overlooking the splendid courtyard and a live pianist provided a soothing soundtrack.

The Laurent-Perrier Champagne Flight certainly looked the part with three mini Champagne flutes ready to be filled on a special presentation tray.  The first fizz we tried was Laurent-Perrier Brut served with scallop and avocado tartare with lemon oil.  This light, easy to drink Champagne has prominent citrus notes and it went perfectly with the fresh scallop, creamy avocado and meyer lemon.

We then moved on to the Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Rosé, paired with smoked salmon and prawn marie rose rolls.  Not only did they match in colour, but the sweet, tangy prawns and intense smoked salmon complemented the Champagne’s red and black fruit notes.  This Champagne’s attractive pink colour is achieved by using the saignée method of leaving the red grape skins on the wine for up to three days.

Our third tasting was Laurent-Perrier Vintage 2004, served with asparagus ratatouille crostini.  This was our favourite of the three, as it is was the most rounded with biscuity, vanilla notes.  The Chardonny 50% and Pinot Noir 50% Champagne went perfectly with the vegetable crostini, which was nicely marinated and drizzled with olive oil and balsamic glaze.

The Laurent-Perrier Champagne Flight is fantastic value at just £20 per person and feels like more of a ceremony than simply ordering a glass of Champagne.  It also makes a perfect after-work treat when you’re ready to be perked up with a few bites and bubbles.

Before getting too tipsy, we moved across the lobby to Bistro 51, the hotel’s modern European and Pan Asian restaurant.  The bright, contemporary restaurant has a calm atmosphere and there are a few different seating sections so it feels private and intimate.

We chose from the Chef’s Menu, which offers four options for each course.  After ordering, we were brought a selection of freshly-baked pumpkin seed rolls and carrot bread, accompanied by the most delicious creamy mushroom dip.  We tried not to overdo it with the bread, but it was just so tasty and moreish.

To start, I ordered Pan seared scallops, cauliflower puree and pancetta.  The dish looked appealing and was beautifully-presented.  The scallops were ever so fresh and lightly browned, though unfortunately too salty, as though they’d been seasoned twice.  They went well with the velvety smooth and subtle cauliflower puree and the flavoursome pancetta cooked two ways in a paper-thin strip and crunchy pieces.

I also liked the Brussels sprouts leaves, black olive crumble and dashes of olive oil that punctuated the dish.

Steven tried the Salmon and cucumber tartar with yuzu dressing.  The chunky, fresh salmon was marinated with strong flavours of cucumber, onion and dill, drizzled in a creamy, citrusy yuzu dressing and topped with high quality caviar.  The portion size was substantial and it was a light and enjoyable start to the meal.

I followed with the Cajun spiced chicken breast, new potatoes tossed with spinach, however as I wasn’t really in the mood for heat, I requested it without the Cajun spice (the friendly staff were happy to oblige).  The succulent, juicy chicken breast certainly didn’t miss the spice, as it was infused with the aromas of fresh thyme and herbs and had a light, golden skin.

I loved the slightly sweet new potatoes muddled with a light Parmesan cream sauce and wilted spinach and the most perfect long-stem asparagus.  The dish was finished with a rich, meaty jus and more of that yummy black olive crumble.

Steven tried the Masala fried fish, aloo and chickpea chaat.  The flaky, tender fish was lightly fried with an aromatic, crisp coating and was accompanied by piquant spiced potatoes, tasty spiced chickpeas and julienne vegetables.  It was a punchy dish with real depth of flavour and a combination of invigorating spices.

I finished with the Tonka bean crème brûlée with hazelnut biscotti.  The cool, creamy crème brûlée had just a hint of fragrant tonka bean and the caramelised crust was good but could’ve done with a little more time under the blowtorch to make it crunchier.

I loved the authentic, crunchy hazelnut biscotti and the unexpected joy of proper rum and raisin ice cream, finished with freeze-dried raspberry pieces.

Steven’s Sticky toffee pudding with vanilla ice cream was a British classic at its very best.  The moist and airy sponge was sweetened with chopped dates and was drenched in a very indulgent, thick toffee sauce.  It was finished with a scoop of luxurious vanilla ice cream, biscuit crumble and a sugar spear.

We finished the meal with pots of Earl Grey tea and went back to the lobby to enjoy the piano music before leaving.

The warm atmosphere and kind hospitality at St. James’s Court really made our evening and our dining experience in the Hamptons Bar and Bistro 51 was very memorable.  The Laurent-Perrier Champagne Flight added that extra touch of decadence and I can’t recommend it enough.

For more information and booking, visit:  See the menu on Zomato.

Chérie City was invited by Zomato and St. James’ Court, A Taj Hotel

Photos by Chérie City and St. James’ Court, A Taj Hotel

Hotels, Hotels - Design, Hotels - Luxury, Miami, USA

A Stay at Tides South Beach – Miami

Our recent stay in Miami was a short and sweet weekend break, so we wanted our hotel to be special.

Tides South Beach ticks all of the boxes with an unbeatable Ocean Drive location, boutique feel and an outdoor pool.  It’s a stylish haven in the heart of a buzzing, neon-drenched part of town and just a few steps away from the iconic Miami Beach.

The Miami hotel scene is flourishing with exciting new openings, however Tides South Beach is already an established player and everyone we met on our travels spoke of it affectionately.

Tides South Beach is a true Art Deco hotel with striking architecture that dates back to 1936.  Its plush interiors, designed by Kelly Wearstler, also reflect the glamour of the age with a retro beach-chic look.

The open-plan lobby has a Biba vibe with wide leather sofas, shimmering gold screens, palms, hand-painted tropical murals and an original terrazzo floor.  It’s the kind of space you can imagine appearing in a fashion photo shoot with Tamara de Lempicka-esque models elegantly lounging.

The ground floor also includes The Tides Restaurant and Terrace, where guests can enjoy a complimentary welcome drink to get settled in – a lovely, old school touch.

The mezzanine level overlooks the lobby and leads to the hotel’s outdoor heated swimming pool.  While waiting for our room to be ready, we headed straight to the pool to soak up some sun.  The medium-sized pool has a comfortable temperature for swimming (my pet hotel hate is cold pools) and is flanked by sunloungers with parasols and two cabanas at each end.

You can keep hydrated with complimentary chilled water infused with citrus fruits or order a cocktail, lunch or snacks to enjoy poolside.  Unlike some of Miami’s flashier hotels, the pool is reserved only for hotel guests and we were delighted to find the pool quiet and intimate on Saturday afternoon with only the music from the neighbouring bars below.

Tides South Beach surprisingly has only 45 guest rooms and every one boasts a fantastic ocean view.  Our Signature Ocean Front Studio on a high floor was absolutely enormous and beautifully-designed.

There are so many gorgeous design features to discover, including a most exquisite hammered gold writing desk, petrified log mini coffee tables, a faux zebra-skin rug and a large bronze sun sculpture above the king-size bed.  The low-set bed was very soft and comfortable, with crisp, high quality linen and good pillows.

The windows aren’t great for keeping out the music from the lively Palace Bar next door or impromptu live percussion on the street during the day, however we did sleep very well at night.  We enjoyed watching the bar’s famous drag show after dinner on Saturday, where the pavement outside became a catwalk.  I have to say, I was quite sad to miss their RuPaul’s Drag Race party on the Monday night that we were leaving.

The room features a comfy sofa and chair in the living area, a 42-inch LCD TV, DVD player and iPod docking station, powerful air-conditioning and free wifi.  A highlight is the large separate walk-in wardrobe with a generously-sized fitted wardrobe, storage drawers and room for suitcases, a mini bar and a Nespresso machine, although it’s a shame that the espresso capsules are charged for.

The spacious bathroom is an absolute delight with a beautiful marble sink, a rainfall shower with deep soaking tub, magnifying mirror, plenty of fluffy towels and face cloths, plush waffle bathrobes and a full set of lavender and peppermint bathroom products by C.O. Bigelow.

America’s oldest apothecary brand isn’t easy to find in the UK, so that was a real treat and I really liked the relaxing, aromatic products.

A real perk of staying at Tides South Beach is doing the beach in style with complimentary loungers, towels and an umbrella for guests. Regrettably we didn’t quite find the time for a proper beach session, as it rained non-stop on Sunday and Monday was set aside for exploring.

If you’re in Miami to unwind, you don’t need to venture far and can hop between the beach and the hotel’s swimming pool, followed by dinner on the terrace.

Tides South Beach has an attractive indoor restaurant and bar, but most people choose to make the most of the weather and atmosphere on the terrace.

Almost all of the hotels on this stretch of Ocean Drive have a terrace restaurant with passersby walking through the middle and staff coaxing guests in to dine.  The food looks tempting and there are cheap cocktails the size of your head on offer – it is party central after all.  The terrace can either be delightful or a little congested, depending on the time of day (breakfast is a safe bet).

If you want a more peaceful dining experience, Tides South Beach has a few tables closer to the entrance, so you can observe the scene from above.  Or, you can indulge in 24-hour room service in the comfort of your own studio.

Tides South Beach is a romantic, characterful boutique hotel with an enviable location and fabulously-appointed rooms.  They don’t call it the ‘Diva of South Beach’ for nothing.

For more information and booking, visit: www.tidessouthbeach.com

Photos by Chérie City (pool and terrace by Tides South Beach)

Chérie City received a press rate for the stay

 

Barcelona, Hotels, Hotels - Luxury, Restaurants

Blanc, Mandarin Oriental Barcelona

Blanc Brasserie & Gastrobar at Mandarin Oriental Barcelona has to be one of the city’s prettiest restaurants.  It was the dreamy design that drew me to the casual all-day restaurant, but also its Mediterranean and Asian menu sounded particularly tempting.

Mandarin Oriental Barcelona occupies a prestigious location on the chic Passeig de Gràcia, nestled between Eixample’s designer boutiques and iconic Gaudí buildings.  It feels immediately grand and luxurious as you stroll up the raised walkway towards the lobby, bathed in a soft golden glow.

The intimate lobby has the plush appearance of a high end store rather than the lofty marble reception that you might expect from a five star hotel housed in a former bank building.  The hotel’s two Michelin star fine dining restaurant Moments by Chef Carme Ruscalleda attracts a well-heeled crowd and is renowned for its innovative Catalan gastronomy.

Blanc is a more low-key, casual affair with cool interiors and a great ambiance.  By day, Blanc is a bright, sleek space but at night, it turns more seductive with dimmed lights and chilled out music.  Every table feels private and has comfortable seating, whether it’s a deep sofa, armchair or high-back wicker chair.

The crowd is a mix of hotel guests and locals and when we visited, the restaurant became steadily full.  We were warmly greeted by the friendly staff and were served ice cold mineral water.

We began the meal with the chef’s special amuse-bouche of Croqueta with squid ink.  The petite croquetas were light and crispy with a punchy seafood flavour and velvety texture, served with creamy garlic aioli.  They were a perfect bite-size treat that somehow captured the flavours of traditional Catalan cuisine in one mouthful.

For my starter, I decided to go with the light and flavoursome Ravioli with prawn from Palamós, ceps and shallot (€26).  I’d expected the ravioli to be Asian-style dumplings, perhaps served in a dim sum steaming basket.  However, when the dish arrived, it was even more exciting and creative than I’d hoped.

Tiny pieces of sautéed ceps and shallot were encased in a ‘ravioli’ of delicate, juicy prawn.  I’ve never experienced anything like it – each little bite was heavenly and masterfully prepared.  The manager later told us that prawns from Palamós in Girona are world-renowned for their sweetness and unique reddish colour.

While my starter was light and healthy, Steven’s Rigatoni with carbonara stuffing and veal juice (€14) was extremely indulgent.  The large tubes of pasta were oozing with rich, smooth carbonara stuffing and covered in a cream sauce and grilled cheese.  As it that wasn’t enough, the rigatoni was accompanied by a dark, meaty veal jus.  It was a delicious, comforting starter that’s not for the faint-hearted.

For the main course, I went for a typically Catalonian dish of Cod confit, emulsion of ganxet white beans and garlic chips (€22).  The succulent, beautifully-cooked cod confit was so fresh and satisfying.  It was served on a generous amount of smooth, dense ganxet white bean purée and finished with punchy garlic chips and a colourful, slightly piquant tomato and red pepper jus.

Steven ordered the Candied rack of lamb from Aragon, ratte potatoes and shallots (€23).  The tender, lean rack of lamb was well-marinated in a sticky, sweet sauce, which was given a touch of sharpness from the whole shallots.  It was a substantial, satisfying dish with rich flavours.

I ended on a light note with an Exotic macaron with fresh mango and lime sorbet (€9).  The exquisite macaron was filled with whipped mango cream and topped with crunchy brittle, mango compote and a scoop of refreshing, zesty lime sorbet.

The dessert was finished with perfect pieces of fresh mango and drops of sticky mango gel.  It’s an ideal choice if you want to end the meal with something luscious, light as air and reasonably healthy.

Steven chose the winning dessert – an impossibly decadent 100% chocolate with milk tonka and candy ice cream (€11).  The heavenly dessert was made of velvety milk chocolate ganache on a praline biscuit base, encased in glossy chocolate.  It was topped with a layer or sweet caramel and dark chocolate and served with luxurious candy caramel ice cream.

It was a truly indulgent, memorable dessert that’s substantial enough for two to share (or leave you on a sugar high).

To round off our meal, we ordered a pot of Oolong black tea and Yunnan red tea, which came served in an authentic Asian metal tea pot.  The tea menu at Blanc is a real delight, with glass tubes filled with different teas for you to sample the aromas before making a decision.

Our teas were served with dainty, fruity petit fours – an ideal way to finish a fantastic dinner.

Blanc Brasserie & Gastrobar at Mandarin Oriental Barcelona is a stunning restaurant with accomplished cooking and warm, attentive service.  It has plenty of atmosphere and a sense of intimacy, making it a great spot for a date or evening out with friends.  After dinner, pay a visit to the slick rooftop bar Terrat for creative cocktails, cool beats and impressive views over the city.

As we were leaving, we were kindly given bottles of mineral water for the journey back – that’s just the Mandarin Oriental way.

For more information and booking, visit: www.mandarinoriental.com

Chérie City was a guest of Blanc at Mandarin Oriental Barcelona

Photos by Chérie City (interiors by Mandarin Oriental Barcelona)

 

Barcelona, Hotels, Hotels - Luxury

Hotel Arts Barcelona

Hotel Arts has been on my travel wish list since I first visited Barcelona many years ago.  It’s one of the most prominent contemporary luxury hotels in the city, soaring above the Barceloneta beach and Port Olimpic.

Owned by Ritz-Carlton, the five star hotel is most often recognised for its proximity to Frank Gehry’s iconic ‘Peix’ golden fish sculpture, which shimmers majestically on the seafront landscape.

Hotel Arts was built to coincide with the Olympic Games in 1992 and offers unrivalled views over the former Olympic Village across 44 floors.  The hotel is impressively large with 483 rooms and suites, including a Royal and Presidential Suite, private apartments and club level rooms.

As the name suggests, the hotel boasts a significant collection of Spanish contemporary art with carefully-chosen pieces discreetly punctuating the hotel spaces.

The buzzing lobby is located on the first floor and features a gallery of boutiques including Pretty Ballerinas.  There is an elegant, open-plan lounge with a trolley of chilled water and sweets for guests to enjoy, as well as many of the hotel’s restaurants, Frank’s Bar and an outdoor terrace.

On arrival, we were warmly welcomed and offered a glass of Champagne or chilled water as we checked in.  The staff looked ever so chic in sleek black suits designed exclusively by Spanish fashion designer Cortana.

Our very spacious Deluxe Room on the 26th floor was bright and airy, designed in a soft palette of neutral colours and finished with luxurious furnishings.  The large windows on one side of the room boast spectacular views of the beach and Port Olimpic and there is a padded window seat for taking in the landscape.

Room features include an executive writing desk, a comfy seating area, powerful air-conditioning, built-in double wardrobe, minibar and high-speed wifi (charged at £25 for 24 hours).  There are some high-tech fixtures such as a state-of-the-art Bang & Olufsen audovisual system and a control panel next to the beds to manage the lighting, blinds and music.

Our two twin beds weren’t really ideal for a couple, but they were ever so comfortable and furnished with sumptuous, high quality linen.  We had the most fantastic night’s sleep that evening due to the marshmallow-soft beds and the room’s excellent sound-proofing.

The marble and dark wood bathroom is an absolute delight with a walk-in rainfall shower with a bench, double sink, a deep soaking tub with a large bowl of bath salts, plush bathrobes and thick towels.

The bathroom shelves are filled with grooming essentials and a full set of Asprey Purple Water bathroom products (with even more provided in the shower).

After unpacking and settling into our room, we made our way to the outdoor pool and terrace on the second floor to soak up the sun.  The welcoming pool attendants asked if we preferred a lounger in the sun or the shade and then prepared our spot complete with an extra-large towel, bottles of mineral water and fresh green apples.

Hotel Arts has a great pool scene with hotel guests enjoying a swim or a bite of tapas, gelato and cocktails by the pool, set to a cool chill-out soundtrack.  It’s a little too easy to skip the city’s sights and give in to the seductive tranquility of the pool all afternoon, which many guests were pleased to do.

Marina, one of the hotel’s casual restaurants, is also just a few steps away from the pool and offers a tempting all-day menu of tapas, wood-baked pizza, gourmet salads and chilled soups.

We were lucky enough to visit 43 The Spa, which is open to guests booking a treatment.  The peaceful duplex spa exclusively uses products by Barcelona-based skincare brand Natura Bissé and has eight treatment rooms.  Spa facilities include a heavenly hydrotherapy pool, ice fountain, experience shower, steam room and a fabulous sauna with panoramic views over the beach.

It’s worth leaving some time to unwind over a herbal tea and healthy snacks in the relaxation room, complete with plush individual beds and a fantastic private terrace with sun loungers.

Back in our room waiting for us was a fabulous tray of white and dark hand-made chocolates and crunchy hazelnut pebbles, along with a personalised welcome note.  It was a generous and delicious welcome gift that perked us up as we got ready to head out for the evening.

We started our night in the hotel with a round of cocktails at Frank’s Bar, named in tribute to the architect Frank Gehry.  The bar is divided into three different areas – the terrace, the sleek main bar and the intimate back room designed in a cool retro style.

As the weather was so balmy and pleasant, we had our cocktails on the terrace, accompanied by a bowl of paprika crisps to graze on.  We both tried cocktails from the Frank Gehry Cocktail Experience, inspired by cities that he has created work for, as well as locations for new projects this year.

Mine was a juicy, refreshing Panama Mango Cooler made with Bacardi, mango puree, sweet and sour and Fever Tree ginger ale.  Steven enjoyed a classic Los Angeles-inspired Mint Julep with Maker’s Mark, mint, sugar and Fever Tree soda.  Both cocktails were expertly-mixed and had a boozy kick that set us up properly for the evening.

We already had dinner plans, but there’s really no need to even leave the hotel, as two of Barcelona’s most highly regarded fine dining restaurants are at the hotel.  The beautifully-designed two Michelin starred restaurant Enoteca is overseen by Chef Paco Perez and focuses on seasonal Mediterranean dishes, with an emphasis on fish and seafood.

Renowned restaurant Arola serves innovative tapas, casseroles and fresh produce from the Boqueria Market, overseen by Chef Sergi Arola, who trained with Ferrán Adrià and Pierre Gagnaire.

In the morning, our breakfast at Café Veranda can only be described as epic.  It’s a luxurious buffet offering copious amounts of jamon Iberico carved straight from the leg, waffles and crepes made to order, dim sum, eggs and bacon, delicious mini pastries and cakes, bagels, fruit plates, gourmet yoghurts and cereals.

As if that isn’t enough, a chef is on hand to pour glasses of Laurent-Perrier Champagne – the ultimate in breakfast indulgence.  It’s worth leaving enough time to enjoy a leisurely breakfast and start the day with more than a few treats.

Hotel Arts Barcelona a stunning hotel with first class service, luxurious rooms and all the facilities you could ever hope for from a five star hotel.  Being close to the beach, it has a resort feel and is ideal if you’re looking for a full hotel experience, rather than just a base to explore the city.

Rates at Hotel Arts Barcelona start from £245 per room per night, bed and breakfast.  For more information and booking, visit: www.hotelartsbarcelona.com

Chérie City was invited by Hotel Arts Barcelona

Photos by Chérie City and Hotel Arts Barcelona

Breakfast, Hotels, Hotels - Luxury, London

Weekend Staycation at Belgraves, A Thompson Hotel

Belgraves, a Thompson Hotel is a stunning design hotel in the heart of London’s chic Belgravia.

It’s the only hotel outside of the US and Canada by hip lifestyle brand Thompson Hotels.  While many Thompson hotels are all about downtown cool, Belgraves adds a youthful vibe to a sophisticated, well-heeled neighbourhood.

Its surroundings are postcard pretty (think pastel-coloured townhouses and private gardens) and the hotel is just a short walk from Chelsea, Knightbridge and the designer stores of Sloane Street.  It’s also in immediate company of high end boutiques such as Anya Hindmarch Bespoke, Emilia Wickstead, Christian Louboutin, Pretty Ballerinas, Pierre Hermé Paris and Rococo Chocolates.

We visited Belgraves for a weekend staycation on a hot summer’s day (stepping into the air-conditioned lobby was a welcome relief).  Designed by acclaimed British interior designer Tara Bernerd, the towering hotel is contemporary with rich tones and just a dash of English eccentricity.

Our King Premium Room on a high floor had a cool loft feel and was long and spacious.  It’s designed in shades of grey and cream with purple-burgundy highlights and features a light oak hardwood floor covered with a luxurious patterned rug.

There are typical Thompson signatures such as a stylish metal beaded curtain, cream leather ergonomic chair by the desk and 400-count Sferra bed linen with purple vertical stripes.  There is also a stunning bespoke Ralph Lauren mirror above the bed, a large LCD flat-screen TV, minibar and iHome dock and alarm clock.

My favourite part of the room was the bay window with a plush purple-burgundy banquette offering fabulous views over the park and elegant Belgravia.  It’s like a peaceful hideaway which you can separate off with sheer curtains.  It also features a coffee table and has an electrical plug, so you can work on your laptop or just enjoy some quiet reading time.

Tea and coffee making facilities are on a list of ‘available on request’ complimentary amenities and I highly recommend calling down to receive them.  While sachets of Nescafe aren’t particularly exciting, we were delighted by the selection of black and herbal JING Teas.

The king-size bed with a leather headboard was ever so comfortable and was covered in sumptuous Sferra linen and plump pillows.

We were welcomed with a handwritten note and a lovely sweet treat of a handmade marshmallow and chocolate-dipped meringue.  Stationary addicts won’t be able to resist the gorgeous bespoke correspondence paper and envelopes provided – a small detail that really sets Belgraves apart.

The full marble bathroom is stylish and luxurious, with a powerful walk-in rain shower, plenty of high quality towels, oversized Frette terrycloth robes, black Thompson-branded slippers and a full set of bathroom amenities by REN.  It has a slightly open-plan feel with sliding wooden doors and only the metal beaded curtain covering the glass-walled shower.

In the morning, breakfast is served in Pont St, the hotel’s attractive restaurant overseen by executive chef Sophie Michell.  It’s a comfortable spot with a pretty tiled floor, cosy leather banquettes by the windows and counters laden with cakes and macarons.

Health-conscious guests will be tempted by the Belgrave’s superfood, dairy free almond quinoa porridge, Avocado smashed on rye bread toast or a ‘create your own’ fruit and vegetable juice.

For something more indulgent Pont St hits it out of the park with Crab cakes Benedict with jalapeno Hollandaise, Bubble and squeak patties with poached eggs, black pudding, streaky bacon, watercress and home-made chutney and Cinnamon French toast with caramelised apples.

We went for the Continental Buffet, which was done exceedingly well with a generous amount of gourmet treats.  Highlights were the delicious spelt banana bread, flaky pain au chocolat and farm-style blueberry yoghurt.  I never usually eat cold cuts for breakfast, but the house roasted honey glazed ham infused with juniper flavours was out of this world.

Pont St’s lunch and dinner menus also sound tempting and in the warmer months, there’s a small outdoor terrace.  Guests can also get outdoors with an Urban Picnic freshly prepared by Sophie Michell and made up of grazing dishes such as saffron and buttermilk chicken skewers and strawberry and pink peppercorn tarts, rounded off with spritz cocktails.

Like other Thompson hotels, there’s a cool lounge scene and the open-plan mezzanine is sectioned into different socialising areas.  The snug is an intimate space with an open fireplace, a plush cashmere sofa and Persian carpets, while the Bar has a speakeasy vibe and features an absinthe fountain.

Adjoining the Bar is the Terrace where you can indulge in vintage Cuban cigars, creative cocktails and tempting bar bites such as Lobster Rolls, Sliders and Ice Cream Sandwiches.  It has a retractable roof, heaters and wifi connection for the the ultimate comfort, even when the sun’s not shining.

The hotel doesn’t have a spa (only a small fitness room), but guests can take advantage of a special day rate at nearby Grace Belgravia, a chic private club for health and wellbeing.

Belgraves is the kind of hotel that I would happily return to and recommend again and again – not just for the sleek design but for its homely atmosphere.  The staff are so friendly and attentive, particularly the charming breakfast staff which can be rare in the hotel world.  With such a fabulous location and excellent facilities, Belgraves should be the place you call home for your next stay in London.

Room rates at Belgraves, A Thompson Hotel start from £299 plus VAT per night for a King Superior Room.

For more information and booking, visit: www.thompsonhotels.com/belgraves

Chérie City was a guest of Belgraves, A Thompson Hotel

All photos by Chérie City

Brunch, Hotels, Hotels - Luxury, London, Restaurants

Sunday Brunch at Le Méridien Piccadilly

Sunday Brunch is quickly becoming an established London ritual with so many different cuisines and concepts to choose from.

For a truly indulgent Sunday, the best luxury brunch can be found at the Terrace Grill & Bar at Le Méridien Piccadilly.  The three-course brunch is set out as a bountiful buffet with hot and cold options and a live carving station.  As it that wasn’t enough, a free-flow of Prosecco makes the experience even more decadent.

When we arrived, brunch was already in full swing and almost every table in the main dining room was taken up by ‘in the know’ brunchers.  It attracts a well-heeled, convivial crowd of local couples, families and friends as well as hotel guests.

Our table overlooked the elegant Moet & Chandon Summer Terrace, with striped deck chairs, striped deck chairs, white and gold life rings and parasols.

A talented singer performed acoustic jazz and soul classics with her guitarist while the lovely Valentino worked the room, topping up the glasses of Prosecco and chatting with guests.  What could be more fabulous for a lazy Sunday!

The different brunch courses are divided into separate stations with the dessert table on its own on the lower mezzanine.  We started with a few bites from the salad station station, which offers poached salmon Nicoise salad, cured hams and salami, smoked salmon, pickled red cabbage, potato salad, spicy cous cous salad and a choice of dressings.

The roast turkey and prosciutto ham were delicious and I couldn’t resist adding some Brie and Gruyère from the dessert station to make up a charcuterie and cheese plate.

The tapas and bowl food station includes hummus, marinated olives, sweet tomato confit, peppered mackerel spread and Caesar salad.

I particularly liked the fresh and tangy crayfish, asparagus and mango cocktail.  The Italian-style tomato, mozzarella and pesto salad was also summery and light enough not to fill you up before the hot dishes.

The highlight of the brunch is the live carvery station, where you can make up a Sunday roast with a variety of slow-cooked meats straight from the oven.  The chef carves slices of roast sirloin beef, roast leg of lamb and roast chicken to order and you can even choose which cuts you prefer.

The roast sirloin beef was tender and juicy while the roast chicken was succulent and infused with fresh herbs.  I accompanied the meat with some fluffy, crispy Yorkshire puddings, aromatic lemon and herb stuffing, herb roasted potatoes, slow-roasted carrots, creamy carrot and swede mash, steamed mixed greens and a generous amount of rich gravy.

The hot buffet also includes a soup of the day, mushroom risotto with truffle oil, gnocchi and breakfast items such as sausages, bacon and hash browns.  It’s tempting to overload on the roasts, or even go back for seconds, but the other main dishes are ever so tasty and worth trying.

Be sure to save lots of room for dessert, as the generous array of colourful sweets is just so tempting.

Start with Chef’s Mum’s recipe Apple Crumble with lashings of fresh custard.  It’s a classic done extremely well with plenty of juicy apples stewed with cinnamon and an exemplary, crunchy crumble topping.

The main feature is the selection of exquisite éclairs in flavours including lemon, chocolate, coffee, pistachio, strawberry and vanilla.  They were delicious and perfectly bite-size – a nod to the hotel’s contemporary French style.

Those with a sweet tooth will love the home-baked cupcakes and the velvety smooth strawberry and chocolate dessert pots.  Of course, you can still work towards your five-a-day with luscious, exotic fresh fruit.

The Terrace Grill & Bar is a perfect spot for a stylish Sunday Brunch with excellent food and a lively, warm atmosphere.  I liked that you can get up and walk around between courses and set the meal at your own pace.  It’s a relaxed style of brunch that I would happily go back to again and again.

Sunday Brunch at the Terrace Grill & Bar at Le Méridien Piccadilly is priced at £39 per person, £49 with a free flow of Prosecco.  For more information and booking, visit: www.terracegrillandbar.com

Chérie City was a guest of Le Méridien Piccadilly

Photos by Chérie City (interiors by Le Méridien Piccadilly)

The Terrace Grill and Bar at Le Méridien Piccadilly on Urbanspoon