A regal stay at Bovey Castle

Introduction to the Angles

Once upon a time, in a land surrounded mostly by high rise buildings, the London Eye and Big Ben, properly known as The Elizabeth Tower named after a real life Queen, were four friends known as the Angles, who had all assembled to this land and made it their chosen home. One Angle (me) originated from the continent of Africa, the other New Zealand, whilst the remaining two were born in England.

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Photo credit: Angie

These Angles, for the sake of this story, happened to be Prince and Princesses too and the Prince in this tale is our one and only Aftab from Fresh and Fearlesss, whilst the Princesses are Angie from Silverspoon London, Emma known as the London Kiwi Emma and myself, Binny from Binny’s Kitchen.

So how did this Prince and 3 Princesses cross paths? Well as strange as it sounds, it was actually through the blogosphere through their common love for blogging, and they firmly became friends over copious amounts of Mojitos, Pornstar Martinis, Champagne, breakfast dates and generally because they had so much in common and all complimented each other’s vast personalities.

Before anyone thinks my spelling has gone all crazy, Angles is used deliberately and was our fitting name born from an auto correct error on Whatsapp by the Prince of the group, who had meant to call the Princesses his Angels but ended up calling them Angles. It was also said Prince’s birthday recently and so the 3 other Princess Angles had decided to surprise him with a birthday trip away.

PS: all 4 Angles make a perfect square 🙂

The secret plot

The Princesses created a secret Whatsapp group called “Don’t tell Aftab” and quickly plotted options of where to take the Prince on his surprise trip. Train tickets and Junior Suites were booked once the destination was chosen and then the Prince was taunted with threats of selfies with Paddington Bear, McDonald lunches and camping (not glamping) on muddy terraines forcibly wearing backward caps. It turns out the Prince doesn’t even own a cap! (Don’t worry Aftab, this will be rectified soon).

In reality, the Princesses had gone all out and booked massive rooms at Bovey Castle, a luxury castle in Dartmoor, for an overnight stay. The only clue Prince Aftab had been given was that Princess Angie was getting her hair done and that it was a good idea to pack a suit. All other questions were ignored swiftly to avoid giving away even the tiniest of detail.

The Journey to Bovey Castle

The Princesses and the unsuspecting Prince began their journey at Paddington station at 11:30am on a Sunday morning. They jumped on to a train with the Prince not allowed to read the destination. Princess Angie had kindly brought Champagne for refreshments which were well consumed after many boomerang attempts had been made.

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Prince Aftab was still none the wiser during the journey and when the train pulled up at Exter St Davids was when the Prince and Princesses all jumped off.

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However, it was still another 40 minute drive to the castle and this further added to the anticipation as even the driver, known as Mr Apple (that was the name of the taxi company so he has inherited this name) decided to join in the taunting fun and scared Prince Aftab with descriptions of muddy campsites with no wifi and having to eat daffodils for survival. The funny part is that they were actually without wifi for a good couple of hours.

It was all worth it though, driving through the gorgeous English countryside and Prince Aftab spotting horses and ponies along the way being a massive equestrian lover. The car soon arrived at regal looking glossy gates and then a winding road leading up to the castle and Prince Aftab shrieked with excitement realising that he was going to spend the night in a castle.

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The rooms at Bovey Castle

Check in was smooth and seamless and the Prince and Princesses were all shown their individual rooms, where they quickly took obligatory room photos and videos for insta stories and then re-assembled for lunch outside on a glorious day as they were all absolutely starving.

All the rooms were Junior suites and had some serious design features, breathtaking views and just all massive!

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Princess Binny’s room is pictured above and had a super comfy bed complete with Mulberry England pillows, a separate lounge area and a spacious bathroom with both a dreamy tub and a shower.

However, Princess Angie’s bathroom was the one that they were all super jealous of. Look at that!

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Lunch at Bovey Castle

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How gorgeous is this lunch spot and how amazing are the views?

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Lunch was delicious and the Prince and Princesses were all so hungry so everything was devoured rapidly. Princess Binny went for the SMITH’s fish ‘n’ chips, Princess Emma chose scotch eggs, and Princess Angie went for smoked salmon whilst Prince Aftab opted for the roast chicken sandwich with lettuce and tomato.

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After lunch the Prince and Princesses relaxed in the bar area with some coffees whilst they planned what they were going to do that evening and the next day.

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The Princesses had arranged for some champagne to be sent to Prince Aftab’s room and he somehow ended up with two, so one bottle was consumed before everyone went to their rooms to freshen up and get ready for dinner.

Dinner and Drinks

The Prince and Princesses wore their respective fancy outfits and met up for dinner, which was the most excellent affair. Starting off with champagne (Ruinart), they enjoyed some luscious starters, mains and desserts and it was a fabulous fine dining experience.

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The selection of starters included smoked & cured South coast sea trout served with winter beetroot and goat’s curd, seared diver scallops, accompanied with a Oyster emulsion, pickled onions and beer battered clams and beetroot salad with goat’s curd. I do apologise for the quality of these photos as my camera just did not like the lighting that evening!

 

The mains included a poached fillet of Cornish turbot, rosette of Devon lamb and fillet of “Dartmoor Beef Welly” which had to be shared between two people.

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Dessert was a selection that included warm dark chocolate fondant with fennel ice-cream and blood orange, honeycomb ice-cream and a baked rum pineapple served with coconut cake and raisins.

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Breakfast and Exploring the grounds

After a champagne fuelled evening, the Prince and Princesses had breakfast with slightly sore heads and opted for cooked breakfasts from the menu, before heading off to explore the gorgeous grounds of the Castle. Pictured below is a delicious Egg Benedict.

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A Golf Buggy was hired and Prince Aftab and Princess Emma took it in turns to drive.

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There is so much to do and see within the vicinity and they just could not stop marvelling at the perfectly manicured green gardens, rolling hills, lakes and features. The majority of the grounds is a golf course so if you are a keen golfer this is an idea holiday venue.

There are also tennis courts and lovely areas to walk around in.

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All was going well with the Golf Buggy and exploring the area snapping away taking various photos and the Prince and Princesses were thoroughly enjoying themselves. It was a lovely sunny day with warm temperatures and that fresh crisp countryside air to breathe in while birds chirped away happily.

An Outtake and Crime Scene

…Until disaster struck and the Golf Buggy managed to get stuck in the mud. The below area will forever be etched in the minds of the Prince and Princesses.

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All four royals descended the buggy and attempted to push it out of the mud and after several attempts were successful, even though with muddy shoes and slightly bemused faces.

The Golf Buggy had also been decorated with bits of mud. This didn’t deter the Prince and Princesses, who continued their journey across the grounds to get the best shots.

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This is what you get when bloggers are faced with an amazing view of the castle! Thanks to Princess Emma for capturing this action shot!

Saying goodbye to Bovey Castle and resident Beaky

After a very thorough exploration, the Prince and Princesses returned to the castle for a final lunch and to catch their breath before taking a taxi drive back to the station to return to their promised land, London.

The blog post cannot end with mention of resident Beaky, who lives in a gorgeous room at the castle.

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Yes we all know how much Princess Binny loves African Grey Parrots so this made her very excitable and she loved getting to know Lord Beaky.

The verdict

The Prince loved his stay at the castle and was totally in his element. The princesses also had an amazing time and they would all recommend Bovey Castle for a fabulous escape without any hesitation.

The rooms were just brimming with wow factors and the bed was so comfortable. They had lovely little touches such as complimentary Sloe Gin in the room.

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The grounds are stunning and so picturesque. Sometimes it is a great reminder of how serene the English countryside is and how a staycation is so ideal to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. You don’t always have to fly abroad to have a holiday 😉

It is also very romantic, as well as being perfect for a family break. Dogs are very welcome too so if you are looking for a dog friendly venue, this is perfect.

There us so much to do, as well as there being a spa on site if you want to pamper yourself, as well as an indoor pool.

The food and drink is fabulous and the Prince and Princess thoroughly enjoyed all their meals on site.

All in all it was the perfect escapade and choice of venue for Prince Aftab’s birthday surprise and all the royals were keen to come back one day, as well as already planning the next Angle adventure.

For more information on Bovey Castle go to their website, which can be accessed here.

 

 

Hotel Review : Swahili Beach – a luxury hotel in Diani, Kenya

During our trips back home to Kenya we always try and have a mini break in Diani, the south coast of Mombasa, and this time we chose Swahili Beach, a luxury 5 star hotel, as our chosen venue to relax and unwind on a half board basis.

Swahili Beach has a unique look and designed with a traditional Swahili and Arabic architectural flair which is characterised by the use of arches, high ceilings, stone and pale colours. I love this design and find it has a charm of its own. Everything is so spacious and open and tranquil. The decor is all deliciously Swahili and beautiful.

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The resort

The resort itself is extensive with 7 cascading pools, gorgeous gardens and set on the beach with a view of the Indian Ocean. I have to highlight that it is not the most beautiful stretch of beach in Diani but it is still lovely and peaceful.

There are various areas across the resort with ample sun loungers and chairs to relax in and there is also a coffee lounge, where afternoon tea is served daily, and a beach bar and restaurant, which is really nice.

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Check in

Upon arrival we were given refreshing Dawas, which are a popular Kenyan cocktail, to cool down with in the intense heat. This was a lovely gesture and check in was really smooth, quick and seamless. The staff were really welcoming and friendly.

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The rooms

At Swahili Beach they have three categories of rooms – standard, superior and Executive. We were upgraded to the Executive suite, which was MASSIVE. It had its own lounge area, bedroom, ginormous bathroom and impressive balcony. There was a view of the pool area palm fringed with the coconut trees I adore!


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The balcony was so difficult to capture in one shot but here is a series of shots so you get an idea!

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The bathroom had a dreamy sunken bath as well as a separate shower and had a stunning design.

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The room had a large TV, desk, ample mirrors and plugs in convenient spots, hairdryer, eco friendly toiletries as well as air conditioning and a fan. The wifi was good and the room was clean and extremely comfortable. We had no complaints about anything.

Food and Drink

There were lots of choices with a lot of African and Indian dishes as well as classic continental ones. As we were on a half board basis, we decided to have lunch at the beachside restaurant Barharini, which was really nice. The sound of the waves whilst eating your lunch is one of my favourite ways to eat al fresco.

For dinner we dined at the buffet restaurant, Majilis, which means meeting place. There was a really good selection, especially for vegetarians as one of our party was a vegetarian. It was a special occasion and the hotel pulled out all the stops to make it special so we were very happy and grateful for that.

Breakfast, also in the Majilis, had an incredible spread of fresh fruits, juices, cold meats, cheeses, pastries, cereals, eggs, hot food and also some Kenyan specials.

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The Kahawa Lounge, where we had our afternoon tea, serves coffees and teas, and at tea time you can have pancakes, bhajias, cakes, and other delicious treats. This is complimentary.

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The cocktails were really good at Swahili Beach too! The mojitos kept me refreshed and happy.

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Amit was more than content with his chilled beers :o)

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The Dawas were delicious too!

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If you fancied it, you could also have fresh madafu (coconuts). I adored this little table that signposted this.

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The hotel also has a seafood restaurant and an Indian restaurant, but we didn’t get a chance to try these out.

Service and Facilities

The service at the hotel was really good. The staff were really attentive without being intrusive and quick at helping or taking food and drink orders.

The pool was my favourite feature of the hotel, and I had a fantastic time swimming and sunbathing by the pool. The hotel was very quiet when we stayed so we had most of the pool to ourselves.

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The hotel also has a spa but I didn’t get a chance to try it out.

The Location

Swahili Beach is located on Diani Beach. The beach is really relaxing and peaceful but I wouldn’t say it is the best stretch of beach you can find in Diani, having stayed at other hotels at the South Coast. However, it is still a really decent stretch of beach and there are nice comfortable lounge chairs to chill in.

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Overall we really enjoyed our stay at Swahili Beach. It was really good value for money when comparing rates at other hotels (March 2017) and the service, food, room and overall experience was wonderful and we would recommend it.

For more information about Swahili Beach visit their website.

 

 

 

Hotel review: Le Dokhan’s Paris

Le Dokhan’s Paris, located between Trocadero and Champs Elysees, is part of the Starwood Group of Hotels, under the Tribute Portfolio collection. A five star hotel, originally built as a residence in the 18th century, it was our choice mainly due to its wonderful location (walking distance to the Eiffel Tower), but also as we are SPG members. SPG is the Starwood Preferred Guest loyalty program. Our closest station was Trocadero.

When I first read about the hotel, what caught my attention was that it houses Paris’s first and oldest champagne bar, which has also featured in the World’s Best Bars list as well as the World’s Best Champagne Bars. The dream!

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Le Dokhan’s has 45 chic guest rooms, including four suites, across six floors that are accessed by a famous Louis Vuitton elevator.

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To our delight, when we checked in we were upgraded to the Ming Suite, which was on the 6th floor of the hotel. We took the Louis Vuitton elevator (YES CAN YOU BELIEVE IT) up to the 6th floor and were in awe of how pretty the décor was. From the large windows we had a view of the Eiffel Tower which was an extra bonus.

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The room was decked out with lots of amenities and we had a Nespresso machine for that all important morning coffee, a hairdryer, toiletries from Korres, a lovely mini lounge area, a TV and a desk. Wifi is complimentary which is always a plus!

 

The bathroom was spacious and bright and had a tub with an overhead shower. Everything had a modern feel and was luxurious.

My favourite aspect though wasthat they had left a Samsung Smart phone with data on it in the room for us to use when we went out exploring which was incredibly handy for navigating around. I thought this was a really nice touch. You could even make free calls from it and use it to order cabs.

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While we were settling in the room after check in, there was a knock on the door and we were given an invitation for 2 Complimentary glasses of Champagne of our choice as well as 2 Macarons to indulge in. This is the type of service from the Starwood Group of Hotels that keeps me loyal!

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The Champagne bar is the venue for breakfast at the hotel in the morning. The bar itself opens at 6pm and we headed there later that evening to relax and enjoy a glass. I had a glass of Champagne in a gorgeous coupe glass whilst Amit changed his option for a classic Gin and Tonic instead. What was lovely was that the bartender came over with a tray of different Champagne glasses and asked me to pick one. Some were truly fancy and I had never seen glasses like that before!

Although we didn’t have breakfast at the hotel as we had our heart set on going to get fresh bread and pastries from a Boulangerie in the morning, I can imagine that it was really good as when we walked past in the morning there were a lot of happy faces in the restaurant/bar area and a lovely aroma.

In terms of the room, the bed was so comfortable! I had a really good night’s sleep after a day of exploring and walking around the City of Light. The size of the room wasn’t the biggest for a suite but Parisians sure know how to meticulously decor and fit everything in that we had everything we could have possibly wanted.

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Downstairs near the reception, is a comfortable lounge area complete with a roaring fireplace. It was the perfect spot to come and sit with a book to unwind. It was rather difficult to get up once we had made ourselves comfortable!

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I loved my stay at Le Dokhan’s. Whilst more a boutique hotel, its location is absolutely perfect, prices are so reasonable for a 5 star hotel and the service was exemplary. Plus you are super close to a global award winning Champagne Bar! C’est parfait!

There were so many restaurants in close proximity to the hotel and our favourite was literally across the road, a French Bistro called  Ducale Café on 110 rue Lauriston. I highly recommend the French Onion Soup there!

Disclaimer: We received an upgrade. We had pre-paid for a room however all views and photos are my own.

My 11 favourite London Hotel Cocktail Bars

The best part about living in London is there are so many fabulous cocktail bars to choose from, and some of my favourites are housed inside luxury hotels. In the name of research (!!) I have tried lots of them and here are my favourites. I couldn’t cut my list down to ten so you have 11 choices instead!

I will caveat that at the majority of them I had a Mojito but I did try some other cocktails at some of them too. I have chosen these based on factors which include ambience, atmosphere, deliciousness of the cocktails and service and are listed in no particular order.

1. The Blue Bar, The Berkeley

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With its plush, trendy interiors, the Blue Bar at the Berkeley is a really swish venue with delicious cocktails. It is all blue too! My favourite cocktail was the Toffee and Bubbles. The drinks are colour coded and it is definitely the place to bring a date to impress them!

For more info: The Blue Bar

2. The Connaught Bar at The Connaught Hotel

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Ask anyone and this bar tops so many people’s favourite bars lists in London and I can see why! The Mojito was pretty damn good! It has won many accolades and is housed inside the iconic Connaught Hotel.

For more info: The Connaught

3. The Artesian Bar at The Langham

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The Artesian is one of my favourite and most picked drinking establishments and as much as they perfect the Mojito, they also do some quirky cocktails too which are served in treasure chests, by example, and with so much flair and theatrical style. Perfect place to escape a crazy shopping day away from Oxford Street.

For more info: Artesian Bar

4. The American Bar at The Savoy

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I visited here with some friends and we all ordered our classic favourite drinks and each one was just perfect and spot on! This bar tops international best bar lists and it is much deserved. I loved how the waiters were all so dressed up in tux’s and you would feel like dressing up to go here! Perfect for a special occasion.

For more info: The American Bar

5. The Churchill Bar and Terrace at The Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill

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This is the first time I have seen a Mojito served with so much snazziness and it was definitely worth it! My friend had the Raj Mojito, which had some chillies in it, whilst I opted for the classic and we both enjoyed our drinks thoroughly. The comfy sofas were a massive plus point and the living room style charm meant that we could have sat there for hours!

For more info: The Churchill Bar and Terrace

6. The Amaranto bar at the Four Seasons London Park Lane

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This has been our choice of venue for pre-dinner drinks on many the occasion and it continues to draw us in with its trendy vibe and superb service! It is an oasis away from herds of tourists in Mayfair and the perfect venue to catch up with friends. The food in the neighbouring restaurant is really good too!

For more info: Amaranto Bar

7. The Arch Bar at the InterContinental, London Park Lane

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The best place to people watch from whilst enjoying a really good cocktail! They do a mean Mojito and they also do really good Pornstar Martinis, as the Dynamic Duo have tested rigorously! Lovely place to pop in for a drink and maybe then have dinner at Theo Randall’s restaurant after too.

For more info: The Arch Bar

8. Scarfes Bar at the Rosewood London

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I adore the decor in the Scarfes Bar in Holborn and its library feel. It has a grand vibe with comfortable seats, a long bar that you can sit at and they serve some really good indian food too! It has a quintessential British feel and it is housed at the Rosewood London, which is such a beaut hotel. Go to the Mirror room first for brunch and then pop in to the Scarfes bar after for some refreshments!

For more info: Scarfes Bar

9. Smith & Whistle at Sheraton Grand Park Lane

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Smith & Whistle is my secret absolute favourite from the list and is always my top choice when in the area for a quick drink or a pre-dinner tipple. I adore this bar and if you haven’t been you have got to go! It has a Mayfair mystery theme to it and has such a lovely relaxed and casual vibe for Mayfair that you feel like you are going home everytime you go in!

For more info: Smith and Whistle

10. The Courtyard Bar and The Long Bar at The Sanderson Hotel, London

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The perfect spot for G&Ts or a glass or two of champagne – love the vibe in the Courtyard, especially on a bright day, you could easily forget you are steps away from the madness of Oxford Street! If you haven’t had the afternoon tea here yet it is a must!

For more info: Sanderson Hotel

11. The Donovan Bar at Brown’s Hotel

I can’t believe how long it took me to discover this fashionable bar and boy is it a gem in Mayfair! I love the quirky presentation of the cocktails, the fun vibe, the ambience and it is the best place to forget a bad day or celebrate milestones over some excellent drinks. This cocktail was The Photographer and just loved that it was served inside a Camera Lens. The drink was Chase Marmalade mixed with Cointreau, fresh lemon juice, mango juice, fresh strawberries, fresh blackberries, homemade raspberry syrup and a few drops of Donovan bar Bitters. NOM NOM NOM

For more info: The Donovan Bar

There you have my favourites! What are yours? Would love to know in the comments below.

Hotel review: Hilton Athens

The 5 star Hilton Athens, is located in central Athens, close to main tourist sites and the Plaka District, as well as being in close proximity to the metro lines.

We stayed at the Hilton Athens for three nights, with breakfast provided, during our trip to Athens. It was our first time visiting Greece and I was overwhelmed by the hospitality.  As we were staying in an executive room, our check in was done in the executive lounge, by a lovely lady called Efi. She was so brilliant at recommending restaurants and tours, that we ended up booking everything through her, as they also provided concierge services in the executive lounge.

Room

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The room, which was on the 12th floor,  was really spacious and we had a view of the Acropolis in the distance. It is more of a business hotel so the interiors were minimalist with a focus more on practicality with a long desk and mini lounge area.

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There was a balcony, which if I had visited in a warmer month, would definitely have spent some time blogging in as even when I went outside in January, the cool crisp fresh air was so lovely.

The bathroom was beautiful and had both a bathtub and a shower and was large compared to other hotel bathrooms. I loved the grey and white marble design and did manage to have a lovely soak in the tub after a long day of sightseeing.

Restaurants/Breakfast

The breakfast spread at the Hilton was magnificent. It was a massive buffet choice ranging from fresh fruits, cereals, pastries, cold meats, cheeses to hot dishes which included breakfast classics as well as Greek specialities, such as their spinach pie, which I have to say is amazing. I was totally down with eating feta cheese for breakfast too. The feta cheese in Athens compared to the one you buy in the supermarket back home are so different in taste!

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They also had amazing croissants so I was very happy!

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I also ordered in room service on one day and was so impressed by the way it was presented! I had opted for french toast with maple syrup and strawberries as well as a coffee, but look at this spread that arrived!

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For lunch, we had amazing food at the Byzantino restaurant too. Our dishes were presented beautifully and the service was on point. We had gone for a Greek salad with quinoa and a baked goats cheese roll in kataifi dough with spicy tomato marmalade.

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There are 4 other restaurants but unfortunately we didn’t get to try them.

We did, however, try the cocktails at the Galaxy Bar and Restaurant, which is on the rooftop with a spectacular view. At night it is so magical!

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They had heaters on so it was perfect sitting outside in the evenings. They have a beautiful bar and lounge area inside too. It is the perfect spot for a pre-dinner drink or a catch up and has a lovely ambience and vibe. The cocktails are really delicious too!

If you are staying on the Executive floor, you also have complimentary meals at the Executive lounge and it is a great place to relax with a coffee or tea too.

Amenities

The hotel has a beautiful spa which I am so gutted I didn’t get a chance to use, especially as access to the indoor heated pool, sauna and other aspects are included for those guests staying on the executive floor. The pool looked amazing!

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They also have a gym, which Amit used each day and was really happy with the equipment that they had and said it was all top of the range.

They also have an outdoor pool, which we could see from our room, but it is open during the summer months and as we went in January, we could not use it.

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All in all we were so happy with the hotel and especially the location, as a taxi ride to anywhere cost under 10 euros!

The service was excellent and the staff were always willing to help. They always gave us such fantastic tips on what we should do to get the most out of our trip and always had a warm friendly smile.

The hotel was busy during our stay as there was a conference going  on, but we really didn’t feel it as it was a large hotel and with so many restaurants, it was easy to get a table at breakfast, for example.

If you are thinking of visiting Athens and are looking for a convenient and lovely hotel to stay at in the central part, the Hilton Athens ticked all the boxes for us.

Thank you Hilton Athens for a memorable stay and for looking after us s0 well.

For more information click here.

The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, Mumbai

Ever since I watched a documentary on BBC about the five star ultra luxe Taj Majal Palace Mumbai, it has been high on my list of hotels to stay at. Whilst planning my trip to Mumbai, I asked my blogger friend Ayushi from The Foodie Diaries, who is from India, where she would recommend staying. She suggested Taj Mahal Palace and my mind was made up!

I booked it and anxiously waited for the time to arrive to check into the iconic, grand and luxurious hotel, built in 1903 by Jamshetji Tata. It is the Tata group’s flagship hotel and has made history several times since its establishment.

The motivation to build the hotel was invoked when Jamshetji read a sign outside the Watson hotel that stipulated “Dogs and Indians not allowed.” This infuriated him so much he decided to build a grander hotel welcome to all and thus the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel was born.

Situated opposite the iconic Gateway of India, it was the first hotel in India to have electricity, the first licensed bar, the first all day dining restaurant and the first discotheque. In addition, it was Mumbai’s first harbour landmark.

Popular with socialites, celebrities and even presidents, it has had a long list of well known people staying there and after staying there I have come to understand why. The service, the grandeur, the luxurious interiors is like no other that I have experienced before. I think I have caught the Taj bug myself!

Famous guests include the Obamas, Kate Middleton and Prince William, Sir David Attenborough, the Queen, Hilary Clinton, just to name a few. It has also been a popular choice for weddings and I can imagine just how spectacular a wedding ceremony at this hotel would be.

It all started with our arrival, which was far from the stand in front of the reception desk filling out forms, standing awkwardly while your passport gets photocopied and your card is swiped ahead of any room expenses you may incur.

Instead, we were given the biggest warm welcome and smiles and ushered to a comfortable lounge area and offered a welcome drink. Meanwhile, a lady dressed in a beautiful saree arrived with an Aarti plate and did a little welcome ceremony with a candle. She then gave us necklaces, called Tulsi Malas. They are thought to ward off evil, bring good fortune, and clear your aura. I loved the gesture and the meaning behind it and thought it was such a lovely touch.

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The decor in the reception area was just phenomenal and it caught every single person’s attention. Just look at the flower arrangement! It got photographed so much by people and is really eye catching.

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In the reception area, also lies a tribute to the hotel staff and guests who tragically lost their lives in the Mumbai Terror Attacks. Their names are all inscribed into the wall and every evening candles are lit. There is also the name of Lucy, a brave dog who was shot dead by the terrorists. The tree that can be seen is one of the remnants of the attack and is now called the Tree of life. I thought this was such a lovely way to remember the victims of the attack and also commend the bravery of the hotel staff who put their lives at risk to protect the guests.

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While we were in the lounge area, our room keys were brought to us and we were explained a little about where everything we needed was, and then were taken up to our room, which was in the restored Palace wing side of the hotel. The other side is the Tower wing.

Our room had a view of the pool and was just such a stunning room! It had a large comfortable bed, the bathroom was just dreamy and I loved all the little touches. We even had a butler service.

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The in room amenities included a mini bar which was stocked really well. Water was complimentary.

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Once we had freshened up, we went exploring around the hotel and the grounds are just so beautiful!

We loved sitting by the pool and having coffee and just relaxing! It was so peaceful and an oasis away from the hustle and bustle of Mumbai. I temporarily forgot where I was.

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This swing was also a favourite spot and it turned out it has so many memories for so many people of their childhood visits to the hotel.

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In the evening we also went for the Heritage tour, which is daily and tells you more about the history of the hotel as well as shows you the key venues and artwork, of which there is a rather impressive collection in the art gallery which can be purchased. It is really worth doing and so interesting.

We learned that the teak panelling on the wall in the picture below was once the Air India counter!

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For me one of the many highlights of the Taj was the spectacular breakfast spread. There was seriously something for everyone! Do not miss breakfast whatever you do!

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We had our breakfast outside and enjoyed the warm weather in the beautiful seating area, which was so bright and colourful. The top was covered so there was no invasion of our food by any creepy crawlies or birds and it was weather proof too.

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In terms of food, the hotel has so many amazing choices including Japanese, Chinese, Indian, Street Food and cafe style food, as well as a Patisserie. We tried the street food and the Chinese restaurant, called Golden Dragon, which were both amazing. The Pani Puri was a must order!

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I wish I had a longer stay and as it got closer to the time to leave I got sadder and sadder and already mentally planned a return visit!

The Taj Mahal Palace is located in the southernwest point of the City in Colaba, and is opposite the Gateway of India.

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Close by are many famous markets such as Crawford and Chor Bazaar, shops, restaurants, as well as the famous Leopold Cafe.

If you are planning a trip to Mumbai and want somewhere amazing to stay I can’t recommend the Taj Mahal Mumbai Palace enough. It has a serious wow factor, is stunning and the service is just exceptional. I am now looking forward to trying out some of the other Taj hotels.

I received a media rate for this stay. All views and photos are my own.