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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.

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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.

 

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The Sheraton Dubai Creek

Having been to Dubai a few times, on this trip we decided to stay somewhere different and opted to be Creekside at the five star Sheraton Dubai Creek Hotel. With its nautical boat shape, the Sheraton Dubai Creek is a gorgeous, luxurious hotel with its plush interiors, variety of restaurants and bars, as well as amenities such as a gym and a spa.

It was one of the first five star hotels in Dubai, and has remained popular since 1978. It  is located within walking distance of Dubai Metro, which is convenient.

You can get to Bur Dubai in 3 minutes, and to the Burj Khalifa and Dubai Mall in 15 minutes, which is really good. There is also water taxi services that you can take to the souks, such as the gold souk, which is a must do experience.

It is a really good hotel, whether you are in Dubai for business or pleasure, and is great for families too. There are complimentary shuttle services to Dubai Mall, the world’s largest mall, which is really convenient.

We stayed in the Junior Suite, which had a panoramic view of the creek, and was such a fabulous room, and a treat for my in laws, as this was their first time in Dubai.

The room was really spacious, the bathroom was really big and the room had its own living room area, which was so nice to relax in after a day of touring Dubai. Not forgetting that famous Sheraton Sweet Sleeper bed. This is my favourite part of staying at Sheraton hotels as you know exactly what to expect and honestly that bed is super dreamy. I always have the best sleep when I am away from my own bed in them.

 

The room had air conditioning, 2 TVs (one in the room and one in the lounge), a hairdryer, coffee machine, mini bar and safe.

Love how its so modern as well and that there are buttons to press for either making up the room or do not disturb. The traditionalist in me loves hanging up the sign though!

With the Junior suite, you also have access to the club lounge for breakfast, afternoon tea and happy hour, as well as a dedicated hospitality desk in the Sheraton lounge. In fact when we checked out, we did the formalities in the lounge sat in comfortable chairs which was such a different experience to the usual standing at the front desk and handing in your keys experience.

The Starwood hospitality as always is amazing and we were happy to indulge in this Chocolate Cake.

My favourite part about staying in hotels is the breakfast and the variety at Sheraton Dubai Creek was amazing. From fruits, cereals, cold meats, cheeses, cooked breakfasts and fresh juices, there was something for everyone. I especially loved eating parathas for breakfast.

 

You could eat inside or outside facing the pool. We alternated between the two while we were staying at the hotel.

Lounging by the pool was also nice and there were plenty of sun beds. You can catch glimpses of boats from here. It is not close to the beach, however, and the pool is on the slightly smaller side.

On one morning I even decided to blog from my room whilst admiring the view outside! There was complimentary wifi throughout the hotel.

On other days, I got my coffee and cake fix at the Lobby, which is the hotel’s coffee shop and area to relax. They also serve food here so if you fancy an alternative to the breakfast buffet, you can dine here. The omelette with avocado was my favourite.

There is also an Indian, Italian, Japanese restaurant as well as a Pub in the hotel. I also loved the bar area as it had a fabulous view of the creek. Friday brunch is a big thing in Dubai and the hotel offers some really good deals for this too.

We thoroughly enjoyed our stay at Sheraton Dubai Creek and found the service to be excellent, the food fantastic and the hotel perfect in terms of its surroundings as well as luxe interiors and amenities. If you don’t mind being far from the beach, and are after a different location in Dubai, then this hotel is really ideal.

For more information about Sheraton Dubai Creek click here.

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The Sheraton Mexico City Maria Isabel Hotel

The Sheraton Maria Isabel, also known as Sheraton Mexico City, is centrally located on Paseo de la Reforma, overlooking the famous Angel of Independence. The drive to the hotel was only 30 minutes from Mexico City International Airport. The hotel was originally built in 1962 by the Bolivian tycoon Antenor Patiño.

I was staying at the hotel as part of a press trip to attend the Latin America 50 Best Restaurant Awards, with a group of bloggers and journalists.

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The hotel has 755 rooms and suites, and is close to the Reforma 22 shopping mall, as well as Zona Rosa, where you can find many Mexican eateries and shops. It is such a convenient location and the subway station is really close by too. It is based in the financial district and close to major banks and offices.
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My room was on the SPG floor and was a club room. It had that wonderful Sheraton  Sweet Sleeper™ Bed, which is one of the cosiest beds I have ever slept in. What I love about staying at Sheraton hotels is that you get the same experience no matter where you are in the world so as soon as your head hits the pillow it feels like you are in the comfort of your own home.
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The room itself was large with a lovely desk, which I made my temporary office, as well as a nice spacious bathroom, with a lovely tub, which was very well used daily after long days of excursions. There was also a dressing table area, with excellent lighting, and a hairdryer, ironing board as well as massive cupboard space, in case you wanted to unpack your belongings.
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There were ample plugs dotted around the room, as well as a very handy full length mirror, which made getting ready that much more convenient.
The hotel had various restaurants and bars, including the Jorongo bar, where you could listen to live Mariachi music, an Italian restaurant called Restaurant Amici, a Japanese restaurant and a deli.

There is also a Sheraton Club Lounge for club level guests and SPG Platinum members where you can enjoy complimentary breakfast, afternoon hors d’oeuvres and a variety of beverage options all with a lovely view from the 18th floor.

As it is a business hotel, it has ample amenities for meetings and conferences. There were several conferences going on whilst we were staying there.

The hotel has a swimming pool and fitness amenities as well, in case you fancy keeping fit whilst staying in Mexico City.
The room service choices are excellent and I treated myself to pancakes one morning, with a nice steaming hot cup of coffee, and some freshly squeezed orange juice.
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On my last day I also ordered in Pizza, as I was working hard from my room, catching up on emails and blog posts and it was so delicious! Room service is available 24/7 and is really quick.
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Needless to say I couldn’t resist the comfort of the bed and ended up working from it eventually!
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If you are planning on  visiting Mexico City, this hotel is just perfect in terms of location, the rooms, amenities and service. It is also in a safe neighbourhood, and at no point did I feel concerned about my safety.
My room was complimentary as I was staying at the hotel as part of a press trip, however, rates start from USD 98 a night.
To read more about my time in Mexico City, click here.
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The Club Damascus Sandwich at Langham Hotel #CookForSyria 

Throughout November, there is a great fundraising initiative called #CookForSyria,  curated by Instagram sensation Clerkenwell Boy and SUITCASE Magazine to raise money to aid the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Syria. Several chefs and restaurants are contributing by adding Syrian inspired dishes to their menus and donating money from each dish sold to this great cause.

The Langham hotel is taking part in this initiative and has added a ‘Club Damascus’ sandwich to their menu, available at the Palm Court for lunch or dinner, throughout November. £2 from each sandwich will be donated towards UNICEF’s Syria’s Relief Fund.

The Dynamic Duo, that is Aftab from Fresh and Fearless and myself, tried the Club Damascus Sandwich, whilst catching up.

The sandwich is inspired by popular cooking ingredients in Syria and is a delicious combination of melt in your mouth lamb, onions, garlic yoghurt dressing and slaw, filled between two lovely, soft and warm pitta breads and wrapped in a paper. I loved the presentation and I have to say, I am so glad we didn’t go for starters as it was so filling and dreamy.

You can order the Club Damascus Sandwich as part of your lunch or dinner, and enjoy it in the Palm Court. It is a fabulous restaurant with a relaxing yet classic vibe.

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We thoroughly enjoyed the Club Damascus Sandwich and it is really tasty. We decided to order our favourite dessert at the Palm Court to end our meal with a sweet note. The Creme Brulee of course!

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Such a heavenly and gorgeous dessert and the Palm Court does a particularly good version!

If you want to contribute to the #CookForSyria initiative and love food, this is a great way to do something good whilst enjoying Syrian inspired food. In addition, other ways to participate are to host a supperclub, attend an event, or donate directly.

For more information on the Langham Hotel go here.

To learn more about the #CookForSyria campaign go here.

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I have some exciting travel plans to share….

Hola!

I have something super exciting to announce and share!

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I am flying to Mexico City (23 September) to attend the Latin America 50 Best Restaurants Awards Ceremony thanks to the Mexican Tourism Board, who have kindly invited me and are hosting me. I will be back in the UK next Friday 30th September.

The awards ceremony will announce the fourth annual list of Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants 2016 on Monday 26th September at Centro Cultural Roberto Cantoral, which I absolutely can’t wait to attend and I stressed for weeks about finding a dress, which I have at last 🙂

The countries participating are Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guyana, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela.

You can follow the live countdown on Twitter, join in the action on Facebook and Instagram and watch the livestream from 8:45pm Mexico City time. The time difference is 6 hours (Mexico City is 6 hours behind).

In preparation for the trip, I have been reading up lots on Mexico City in this massive book, by Lonely Planet, which is really good! It is my first time visiting the capital and I will of course have various blog posts about the trip on my return.

 

This is the second time I will be visiting Mexico, the first time being to Cancun in 2011 for a beach holiday. The beaches are amazing by the way 🙂

Here are some snaps from my previous trip to Cancun in 2011. You can read more about that trip here.

You can follow my trip on my Facebook page, Twitter @binnyjs and Instagram @binnys_kitchen (wifi dependent).

I have a fun and packed itinerary, organised by the Mexican Tourism Board, which includes dining at some of the restaurants on the top 50 list, which I am very excited about, sightseeing and even a tequila tasting!

My home for the week will be the Sheraton Mexico City Maria Isabel Hotel, and I will share some photos of the hotel too. If you have looked at my regularly stayed at hotel brands, you will know I am a die hard Starwood fan so am very happy about that.

This will be my first time travelling so far away (an 11 hour flight by myself) and staying alone so this is a major step for me going somewhere not knowing what to expect. I am very excited though and literally counting down!

Hope you enjoy all my updates and I look forward to sharing all my experiences in Mexico City with you.

Adiós!

Binny xx

PS: For anyone worrying, Mexico City has been declared Zika Free by the CDC, which was a major factor in me deciding to go 🙂