Friday, 11 November 2016

Hotel Review: Louise Sur Coer, Brussels

Last weekend, I quietly slipped away to Brussels for the weekend. I say quietly as I barely mentioned my trip via social media which is unusual for me; I love to explore the globe and take you guys with me on my travels. But sometimes you just need a proper break to spend some quality time with people without the interruption of social media. I think that’s what they call a digital detox and after switching off for a couple of days, I wholeheartedly recommend it. Aside from having a self-imposed restraining order from your phone, the most important ingredient for a proper break is somewhere indulgent and delicious to stay holed up. The hotel I stayed in was utter perfection so I just have to share it with you.
Louise Sur Coer is one of the most beautiful little hotels I have had the pleasure of calling home. The brainchild of renowned artist Dimitri Parimeros, Louise Sur Coer is situated in an1874 townhouse a short walk from the centre of Brussels. Dimitri has spent the last 5 years painstakingly renovated the house with incredible attention to detail. He has personally sourced each piece of furniture and painting from across Belgium, the hotel also features a number of his sculptures and paintings. Set across 4 floors, each floor is themed around a different period; the ground floor is inspired by the regency era and features wood panelling and a beautiful working marble fireplace, the floor I stayed on is themed around the decadent 1930s.

 Despite arriving in Brussels at around 10am, Dimitri made sure our room was ready for us to check in on arrival and even prepared a delicious breakfast feast for us. He chatted to us about the property and how he came to open Louise Sur Coer, explaining his journey from artist residing in Paris to Brussel hotelier and showing us key pieces in the living area and dining room. He also chatted to us about our time in Brussels and put together an amazing walking itinerary from the hotel complete with restaurant suggestions and places he loved as a local – better than any guidebook or blog. He was so kind and welcoming; it felt like staying with a friend rather than in a hotel.
As mentioned, the floor we stayed on was themed around the 1930s and the room I stayed in is the exquisite art deco-themed “Van Huffel” room, named after the architect Albert van Huffel. A stunning black marble fireplace dominates the large bedroom and the mantel piece is topped with an art deco mirror which Dimitri designed himself. The gold accents, wood floor and cosy soft furnishings create a snug, homely feel.

A glass cabinet in the corner conceals the entrance to the spectacular bathroom; just give the cabinet a tug to reveal stairs with an ironwork bannister which open up to the biggest bathroom you’re likely to find in a hotel. The bathroom’s focal point is the beautiful roll-top bath and walk-in rainforest shower which is encased in beautiful stained glass. The art deco features carry through from the bedroom, with a beautiful mirror and bronze decal above the bathtub.

The main downside of the hotel is that it’s so sumptuously snug that you won’t want to leave. During our two day stay, we only managed to tear ourselves away once, for a brief walk through Brussels to get some food. Other than that, we stayed happily cocooned in our lavish little haven. An indoor picnic and dinner delivery via Uber Eats won over heading out to check out the restaurants that Dimitri suggested. I often feel a bit stir-crazy if I spend much time cooped up in hotel rooms in Europe as they’re usually tiny, but the Van Huffel room was super spacious, it felt like the perfect size to spend the weekend snuggled up with plenty of room.
Hotels, especially in Europe, can be really hit and miss, with tiny rooms, miniscule bathrooms, nondescript designs and very impersonal service. This is why I prefer to stay in small, boutique hotels rather than generic hotel chains – I love getting a feel of the place I’m visiting. Even in the context of boutique design hotels, Louise Sur Coer hotel is a really special find. The entire property has been hand curated by Dimitri and it feels like the setting for a Gucci campaign rather than a hotel that you can stay in. The best part is that the hotel only opened a few months ago so it’s very much under the radar so it’s just our little secret. I have a feeling people are going to catch on to this little gem pretty quickly.
Rooms start at 135euros a night, the Van Huffel room is from 145euros. For more information, visit the Louise Sur Coer website or email Dimitri at


Saturday, 14 May 2016

Hotel Review: Palazzo Versace Dubai

When I think of Dubai, I naturally think of opulent luxury. It’s hard not to. Home to the world’s tallest building, the world’s largest mall and one of the few places in the world where you can order an Uber Chopper, the glamorous emirate is a place for indulgence and excess. I’ve travelled to Dubai on several occasions and knew this all too well. Deciding where to stay in Dubai is quite frankly mindboggling. The competition between hotels is extremely high, which each hotel aiming to redefine the notion of luxury in their own way. There truly is something for everyone in Dubai but if you’re after sumptuous extravagance, there really is only one place to stay in Dubai, the newly opened Palazzo Versace.
Palazzo Versace Dubai is the second hotel from the iconic fashion brand, the first being on Australia’s Gold Coast. Opened in December 2015, the hotel is an ode to luxury with Artistic Director Donatella Versace overseeing design for all of the interiors, including each of the 215 rooms and 169 condominiums. Design elements include hand-cut marble, stained-glass mosaics and ceilings hand painted in gold as well as the Medusa head, Greek Key and iconic Versace prints.
Situated on the rather quiet Dubai Creek, Palazzo Versace has an imposing presence on the waterfront. Styled after a 16th-century Italian palace, the hotel is one of the first to be opened in Dubai’s new Cultural Village and therefore enjoys a premium position in what is sure to be Dubai’s hottest spot. Currently, the Cultural Village is a work-in-process, with building work going on around Palazzo Versace. This wasn’t a problem at all for me; it’s totally unnoticeable once you’re in the hotel and its grounds, which act as a lush paradise amid the construction. One of the buildings currently being constructed in the vicinity is set to be the tallest building in the world – overtaking Dubai’s own Burj Khalifa.
Once inside the hotel itself, you are transported to an oasis of Italian luxury. The floor of the 1,000sqm lobby is decorated with 1.5 million mosaic pieces while the ceiling is adorned with the most spectacular chandelier. It’s a truly breath-taking space and sets the tone for the rest of the hotel. While furniture features Versace prints, the textiles are decorated with peacocks, falcons or horses.
I stayed in one of the sumptuous deluxe rooms with views of the lagoon and Dubai Creek.
The room was truly magnificent. The high ceiling and floor-to-ceiling windows gave the room a super spacious feel while the details just oozed luxury. Beautiful timber parquet flooring was paired with the most luscious rug in the room and dressing area while the bathroom mirrored the lobby with marble and mosaic elements. My room had a soothing salmon pink colour theme with Versace-printed linens and textiles. The bathroom, complete with a walk-in shower, his and hers sinks and a huge bath, was as luxurious as you would expect from the House of Versace.
The service more than matches the opulence of the hotel; each member of staff was so friendly, accommodating and welcoming – the staff at the pool always made sure I had a shady cabana to read in and kept me cool with cold towels while the doorman, Victor, gave me a warm welcome every single time.
Staying at Palazzo Versace was truly an experience. The entire hotel is a sublime design spectacular, which the photos are able to capture more than words could. My entire stay here was wonderful. I’ve stayed at a lot of incredible hotels during my travels but my stay here was a very, very special experience. Hotels in Dubai better watch and learn, Palazzo Versace has really raised the bar and redefined the meaning of 5* luxury.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Hotel Review: The Oberoi, Bali

One of the things I love about Bali is that it truly has something for everyone, from Kuta’s a brash, backpacker’s paradise to the spiritual sanctuary of Ubud. For those who prefer their travel a little more luxe and cosmopolitan, Seminyak is an absolutely essential destination. Located on the West coast, Seminyak is a fashionable beach resort which almost feels like a separate island in its own right. Its popularity is growing owing to the plethora of high end boutiques, art studios, chic restaurants and of course 5* hotels. This is the place to truly indulge, relax and forget your worries, which is exactly what I needed after an action packed five days in Ubud - Seminyak felt like just the place to unwind and put my feet up.

We stayed at The Oberoi Bali, which is located right on Seminyak beach. Although The Oberoi is within walking distance of the key bars and restaurants in the area, the resort itself feels like a remote beachfront sanctuary. We had planned to watch sunset at one of the renowned beach clubs in Seminyak on our first night at the Oberoi but the view from the beach was so perfect we enjoyed a couple of cocktails at the Kayu Bar before stepping onto the beach to watch the sun melt into the ocean. This was without a doubt one of the best beach views I’ve experienced in Bali, if not in South East Asia.

The hotel itself is as beautiful as the beach location. Set amongst acres of perfectly manicured tropical gardens adorned with frangipani, the hotel grounds are a tranquil and calm oasis in the midst of a chic resort town. The resort is picture perfect and the delicate frangipani scent in the air just adds to the serene vibe. Ancient Balinese temples are dotted around the resort as well as a natural stone amphitheatre, which serves as a setting for regular Balinese dance performances. Just beyond the amphitheatre is the pool, which overlooks the beach and serves as the heart of the hotel. Despite leisurely breakfasts at the Frangipani Café, we always found space around the pool. The pool staff were also super attentive and made sure we were covered when it came to the essentials – towels, sunblock and cocktails.

We stayed in an ocean-view Linai room which was everything you would expect from an Oberoi hotel. As with the rest of the hotel grounds, rooms and villas heavily feature Balinese influences. Floor-to-ceiling double doors ensured that our room was bathed in natural light, complementing the dark teak furniture and dove grey marble tiles. The room is perfectly appointed, as you would expect from The Oberoi, with an opulent kingsize bed, TV, DVD player and iPod dock. For me, the piece de resistance was the incredible glass-walled bathroom, which features an beautiful sunken marble bathtub complete with bath salts, bubble bath and candles.

Seminyak is the glittering jewel in Bali’s crown and standards for boutiques, restaurants, bars and hotels is incredibly high. The Oberoi Bali exceeds the high expectations; the hotel, location and grounds and unparalleled and the super attentive staff make sure your stay is blissful and stress-free. My stay in Seminyak was definitely one of the highlights of an incredible 2 week trip to Bali, a testament to the hotel and it’s staff. 


Friday, 7 August 2015

Hotel Review: Ritz Carlton, Kuala Lumpur

Over the last year, I’ve been fortunate enough to Asia fairly frequently and I’ve learnt that the journey is as important as the destination. Of course, my trips to Cambodia, India and Vietnam have all been incredible but spending 20 hours on a plane to arrive super jetlagged is no fun. This is why I prefer booking flights with overnight layovers – I break up the journey, arrive more refreshed AND I get to check out a whole new city. This is exactly what I decided to do on my way back home from Cambodia, as I was flying with Malaysian Airlines I decided to stop off in Kuala Lumpur for a couple of days rather than wile away a few hours at the airport.

As I only had a couple of days to take in as much as possible, location was the most important factor when looking at hotels. The beautiful Ritz-Carlton, Kuala Lumpur is located in the Golden Triangle, enjoying the enviable position of being at the centre of modern Kuala Lumpur. The Golden Triangle is the heart of KL’s shopping and nightlife area and the ideal location if you’re only in the city for a short stay, the Triangle is home to Bukit Bintang is the main shopping area as well as Jalan P. Ramlee which has some of the best places to go out at night too. During my stay, I spent time in Starhill Gallery – a luxury mall which is interlinked to the hotel – as well as Bukit Bintang and Pavillion Mall which are just a short walk away.

The hotel, as you would expect from a Ritz Carlton hotel, is luxurious and opulent. The lobby oozes old world charm, with marble floors, Venetian paintings in ornate guilt frames and a glittering chandelier. My check-in was super speedy and the concierge was so helpful, pointing out the various places within walking distance as well as giving me some great restaurant and bar recommendations.

Before I knew it, I was being whisked up to my suite. The exquisite Premier Suite was decorated in neutral, cream shades with luxurious detailing, from the lush beige carpets to the sumptuous golden blackout curtains. The living and dining area was well appointed, with an inviting sofa as well as a desk and dining table, which came with some delicious fruit and macaroons. The huge windows had amazing views of the stunning Kuala Lumpur skyline. I barely had time to take in the view when there was a knock at the door and I met both of my personal butlers who were on hand for the duration of my stay. As an executive hotel, each of the 365 rooms enjoys butler service on their respective floor; however the suites have the added luxury of personal butler service.

The master bedroom was equally elegant, super spacious and tastefully decorated with a lavish, inviting kingsize bed as the centerpiece. The bed was such a cocoon of coziness that I was loathed to leave it in the morning! The bedroom was accompanied by a walk-in wardrobe, which made me regret only spending a couple of days in Malaysia. The piece de resistance was the chic marble bathroom, which featured a large shower enclosure with a rainfall showerhead, separate marble bath and matching sink.

If you could tear yourself away from the magnificent room, the Ritz Carlton’s wonderful Spa Village occupies the 4th floor, which has a family-friendly pool and a separate pool for adults - the latter being the perfect spot to relax. The spa itself offers a plethora of treatments to help you unwind, though I have to admit I didn't have the opportunity to indulge in any treatments.

I could sum the Ritz Carlton, Kuala Lumpur in two words: class act. The hotel is absolutely beautiful without being ostentatious, the décor and atmosphere was that of understated elegance which automatically makes guests feel at ease. The service was absolutely impeccable from my airport pickup to the swift check in and ever helpful concierge. My entire stay felt so easy and seamless, nothing was too much trouble and my suite was perfection. It's rare for me to feel at home in a hotel but that's exactly how I felt for the duration of my stay at the Ritz Carlton. It was wonderful to stay at the Ritz Carlton, Kuala Lumpur for my layover - next time I'm making it my destination rather than a pleasant stop in my journey.


Friday, 10 July 2015

Hotel Review: Roomers, Frankfurt

Known as Germany’s financial capital and home to the European Central Bank, Frankfurt isn’t the obvious destination choice for those visiting Germany. But as I learnt during last year’s trip to the Malmo in Sweden, sometimes visiting a city which is a little off the beaten track is so rewarding. Frankfurt has a lot more to offer besides banking. The beautiful river Main snakes its way through the city, with beautiful tree-lined walkways on either side of the river. The city itself has a striking mix of architecture with the quaint timber-framed buildings contrasting with the imposing skyscrapers which dominate the skyline and have led to the nickname Mainhatten.

Due to the financial focus of the city, the majority of hotels have a very business-like feel so when I discovered Roomers; I knew I had to stay there. There’s nothing clinical about the sensual dark tones and luxe leather accents and the location is superb, just a stone’s throw from the Hauptbahnhof train station and all of the major sites and attractions.

After a super late flight, I checked into Roomers just after midnight, a little weary from travel and expecting check in to be a little difficult based on past experiences of checking into hotels at unsociable hours. I was pleasantly surprised by the super-efficient and friendly check in, within three minutes of stepping foot in reception I had a glass of bubbles in one hand and my room key in the other. I couldn’t help but notice that the hotel was playing Mystikal, so of course I commented on how great the music was. The staff all suggested I check out the bar, which is one of the best in Frankfurt and the DJ only plays hiphop. Sold.

As tired as I was, I found the energy to freshen up and head to the bar. In keeping with the rest of the hotel, the bar was super dark with an intimate feel, cosy cubbies on one side with the oval bar dominating the room. Part upscale New York bar, part speakeasy, the vibe is so cool and totally unexpected in Frankfurt. I managed to find a seat by the bar and this is how I met Thomas, one of the best barmen I have ever met (and I know a lot). After ordering a couple of cocktails from the menu, Thomas took charge and created some amazing cocktails and shots including an Oriental take on a classic Bloody Mary. I had so much fun chatting to Thomas and tasting some incredible cocktails, I actually spent both nights hanging out in the bar until closing.

Needless to say, after those cocktails and 5am bedtimes, I was pretty keen to check out the exclusive spa on the top floor of the hotel. Designed by 3Deluxe-Biorhythm architects, the spa is a mixture of Balinese zen balanced with contemporary design. I took advantage of the relatively empty spa and spent a long time hanging out in the Jacuzzi, sauna and steam rooms as well as the incredible relaxation tubs filled with glass beads. When all of that relaxation became too much, I wandered out to the serene roof terrace to take in the breathtaking view of Frankfurt’s skyscrapers.

When I walked into my room, I couldn’t help but smile. It was beautiful. All dark wood floors, padded leather headboards and sweeping organza curtains; undeniably sexy. The queen-sized bed, complete with a golden leather headboard and faux fur throw, was so inviting and super comfy. So much so that I refused to leave my room until Saturday afternoon, opting to listen to A$AP Rocky’s new album through the Marshall sound system and laze around in bed rather than take in the sights of the city. Despite the dark colour palette, the room felt spacious rather than closed in, this is partially due to the exposed bathroom design – the sink, vanity area and shower are part of the room rather than being enclosed, much like the design of The Standard in New York.
 Between the room I couldn’t tear myself away from, the serene spa and the amazing Thomas, I enjoyed a wonderful stay at RoomersFrankfurt. From the moment I walked in, the bar was set very high and the design touches and wonderful staff consistently exceeded expectations. Everything was so well considered and the staff felt like friends by the time I left, this is undoubtedly the place to stay in Frankfurt – in fact, I’m sure I’ll be back within a year to visit Roomers again!


Thursday, 4 June 2015

Hotel Review: Hotelito Lupaia, Italy

The process of choosing a hotel is a funny thing; everyone has a different set of priorities and you can easily spend hours if not days choosing where to stay. But sometimes you get lucky and a hotel chooses you. As much as I love a gallivanting in a new city, I’ve been yearning for some peace and quiet recently, my priority became finding a lovely under-the-radar, hidden gem of a hotel for some much needed R&R. While trying to decipher which pretty, picturesque little town to visit in Tuscany, I stumbled upon a picture of Hotelito Lupaia. More specifically, the jaw-droppingly beautiful infinity pool which has views across the gorgeous Tuscan countryside. Sold.
Hotelito Lupaia is located in the middle of a picturesque lush, green valley in Val d’Orcia, between the towns of Montepulciano and Pienza. As the images I had seen suggested, it’s very remote and idyllic. To describe it as off-the-beaten-path is an understatement; I used the latitude and longitude in the sat-nav and drove about 10 minutes on a little stony road to my final destination.
Hotelito Lupaia is truly breath-taking; even my pictures failed to capture how magical it is. A former medieval borgo, the hotel is made up of several cottages all connected with lovely old stone paths and surrounded with well-manicured gardens. And all around, the Tuscan countryside is laid out in front of you like a painting.

Like all good homes, the heart of Lupaia is its kitchen. Located in the biggest building at the centre of the hotel, the kitchen is a rustic Italian dream with the original beams, pretty tiling and copper pans hanging from the ceiling. The wonderful chef and team are on hand, preparing an authentic Tuscan feast each evening and the most impressive continental breakfast spread I’ve ever seen in the morning.
I was spoilt for choice and just had to indulge in a mammouth multi-course breakfast of homemade jams, cakes and croissants as well as fruits, cheeses and freshly cooked eggs. Hotelito Lupaia prides itself on being as carbon-neutral as possible; the cheese is sourced from a farm just across the valley which has the best pecorino I’ve ever tasted. The weather was gorgeous so I enjoyed my breakfast in the quiet wisteria-laden courtyard and took in the beautiful view of the Val di Chiana hills.

The rooms themselves are pretty, ivy-covered cottages from the original borgo, each one has been painstakingly restored and is unique. I stayed in the emerald green haven that is the Bosco room; I can safely say that I have never stayed anywhere so magnificent. From the cool, terracotta tiles to the handpainted walls and sumptuous window swags, the entire room was decorated in complementary shades of bold yet calming green.

I’m not the biggest fan of green but it really worked. Nothing about the décor in minimal, everything is carefully selected for impact – the hard-carved antique walnut bed with matching dressing table was the focal point of the room. Though the colours were bold, the room still retained an undeniably luxe feel with heavy fabrics and pretty, rustic touches such as the original rafters.

The real cherry on the cake is the magnificent infinity pool which overlooks the stunning rolling hills. The view coupled with the tranquillity and peace make for a killer combination; the pool at Hotelito Lupaia is among one of my favourite places in all of Italy.

My stay at Hotelito Lupaia was truly wonderful; all of the little details and touches have made this a really magical place unlike anywhere I have ever stayed. I can't fault a single thing, everything from the rooms and décor to the location and food is absolutely perfect. Lupaia has earned a special place in my heart and I'm looking forward to coming back for years to come.


Friday, 20 March 2015

Hotel Review: Bambu, Cambodia


If you’ve been following my recent series of travel posts documenting my time in Cambodia, you’ll know that I fell in love with Battambang, Cambodia’s charismatic, sleepy city. Originally intended as a short visit, almost like a palette cleanser after spending time in hectic, tourist-centric Siem Reap, I ended up falling for Battambang’s ramshackle French colonial charms and staying for longer than I planned to. Often touted as ‘the real Cambodia’, it’s almost as if the mass wave of tourism over the last decade or so has completely washed past Battambang, I felt like I really got under Cambodia’s skin and experienced the real country rather than just the dichotomy of modern Phnom Penh and ancient Angkor temples. Needless to say, I strongly suggest taking a stroll off the beaten path to experience the real Cambodia when you visit.
As I was travelling solo and off the beaten path, I decided to play it safe and stay in a hotel rather than a guesthouse or hostel. This was me being cautious rather than out of necessity; Cambodia is one of the safest countries I’ve travelled in, I was troubled way more in Malaysia and even Spain! My caution did serve me well, as it led me to Bambu hotel. Located a short walk to the East of the tranquil Sangkae River, the boutique hotel is easily one of the best hotels in Battambang.
Designed in traditional Franco-Khmer style, beautifully combines local Khmer and French colonial architecture which is reflective of the aesthetic of Battambang. The reception is inviting, drawing your gaze through the room and out to the serene pool area, which is one of the highlights of the hotel. The pool is literally the heart of the hotel, sitting between the 16 luxury bedrooms and the restaurant and reception areas. It serves as an idyllic oasis of calm in the city. Every time I needed some respite from gallivanting around the city I popped back to the pool to put my feet up, it felt like a little inside secret.
If the pool was an oasis of calm, my room was a sanctuary. After the eight hour boat journey, it was a sight for sore eyes! The wooden interior and rustic feel made it feel like a very luxurious tree cabin while the gorgeous, cool tiling was a nod to the Franco-Khmer design. The stone inlaid bathroom was minimal but beautiful, like the rest of the room it was understated luxury which reflected nature. The one word I would use to describe the room is sublime; I’ll let the pictures do the talking.
I also have to mention the service at Bambu which was impeccable. Each member of staff was warm and helpful, from the tuk tuk driver who collected me at the boat dock to the reception staff and housekeeping. Nothing was too much trouble - day trips, restaurant recommendations, tuk tuk drivers and extending my stay were all handled within the blink of an eye. The owner, Pat, is fascinating and has a wealth of knowledge on the local area. I obviously picked his brains about the best places to eat and ended up eating at a local night market for the princely sum of $5 as well as David Thompson’s world class Jaan Bai restaurant for $15.
For me, Bambu is the epitome of what a boutique hotel should be. It oozes understated luxury but is sympathetic and reflective of its surroundings. Luxury hotel chains are lovely but often clinical in feel, there is usually little difference between staying in the Istanbul property and the London property. Bambu is inherently Cambodian and totally channels the charm and charisma of Battambang.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Hotel Review: The Renaissance Malmo, Sweden

Towards the end of 2014, I decided to explore more under-the-radar European cities. I’ve been fortunate enough to travel across Europe quite extensively and the ‘main cities’ have started to feel quite saturated. European cities are so beautiful and picturesque but the major cities tend to be quite formulaic with a well-trodden path between the must-visit attractions. How lovely would it be to actually explore a city and take it in rather than shuffle between sites.
Malmo in Sweden was right at the top of my list, rather than Stockholm or even Gothenburg. Sweden’s third largest city is a melting post of over 150 nationalities resulting in a dynamic mini-powerhouse of a city with Italian coffee shops sitting next to Danish half-timber houses. Known as the City of Parks, a quick search on Google Images reveals a city with beautiful parks and squares as well as a shimmering canal and medieval, cobbled streets. Perfect for a relaxing weekend getaway.

Although Malmo is a small city, location was important to me which is why I stayed at the superb Renaissance Malmo hotel. Situated seconds away from the vibrant Lilla Torg square as well as some of the city’s best restaurants and boutiques, the Renaissance enjoys being in Malmo’s equivalent of London’s Soho or New York’s Meatpacking District – you could not get a better location.
The hotel itself is on the corner of two unassuming, picturesque cobbled streets, one of which takes you to a corner of Lilla Torg. The hotel strikes the perfect balance of being essentially on the square, but far enough to be super quiet and peaceful even on raucous Friday and Saturday nights. The hotel is also a short walk from Malmo Central Station which has direct trains across to Copenhagen.

 The hotel lobby is what you would imagine from a boutique Swedish hotel, clean lines and lots of white…with an art instillation adding a quirky touch along with the soft purple-lit front desk. The rooms were decorated equally beautifully, all dark wood floors, crisp white walls and linens perked up with raspberry and apple shades. Well-appointed with a desk (for my hair and make-up as opposed to actual working), a beautifully carved wardrobe and spacious bathroom, my room was a little haven. I was particularly taken with the beautiful chaise longue, which became my little nook writing, working out where to have dinner and pretty much everything in between.  

The Renaissance is notorious for having the comfiest beds across the land and I can attest to their cosiness, thick mattresses crowned with a sumptuously soft mattress topper are my morning weakness. As hard as it was to leave my comfy nest each morning, the delicious breakfast spread is a huge incentive. Breakfast is served in the renowned Rosen Bar & Dining, one of the top restaurants in its own right; it is the in-house restaurant at the Renaissance. I opted for healthy granola with Greek yoghurt with berries and green tea for breakfast but there’s a huge option of proper cooked breakfast fare as well as continental cheeses and meats.

Although the Renaissance Malmo has a very boutique feel with a chic, modern design aesthetic, it’s owned by the Marriott Group which explains the impeccable service and general high standards. My experience staying at the Renaissance was faultless, from the super helpful staff to the pristine room and delicious breakfast.


Thursday, 19 February 2015

Hotel Review: Sofitel Lisbon Liberdade

When it comes to travel, I feel so fortunate to live in London. With four airports including one of the biggest airports in the globe, it’s equally easy to jet off to Europe or further afield at the drop of a hat. This is exactly what I did in November with one of my best friends to alleviate my post-Cambodia blues. We settled on Lisbon for our girly getaway as neither of us have been but the fairytale medieval feel of the city really appealed to both of us – unlike most European cities, Lisbon seemed quaint with warrens of cobbled streets rather than well-trodden, pristine boulevards and the usual sprinkling of stores you see in every city across Europe.
We stayed in the Sofitel Lisbon Liberdade, situated on the tree-lined Avenida da Liberdade in downtown Lisbon. A stone’s throw away from the metro and the likes of the Louis Vuitton and Prada boutiques, the area is the perfect setting for the recently renovated Softitel. The hotel is a short walk from the central squares and metro as well as the world famous graffiti art dotted around Lisbon – the location could not be any more ideal, it’s always much nicer to be able to take a leisurely stroll around a city rather than missing it while you’re on the metro.
One of my gripes with staying in a large chain hotel is that they can sometimes feel a little soul-less; you would be anywhere in the world and the hotel is exactly the same inside. This is why I always enjoy staying in Sofitel hotels, they are naturally luxurious with exceptional service but the hotels always tend to reflect their surroundings. The Lisbon Liberdade hotel is no different; the rich dark wood is complemented with ocher and deep red accents and peppered with paintings by local artists, evoking a Gallic, Portuguese flavour. The feeling is of an intimate boutique hotel on a much larger scale.
In London, some of my favourite bars are hotel bars (hello Berners Tavern), but for some reason I don’t tend to spend a lot of time in hotel bars when I’m away on holiday. After Tinuke and I indulged in a cocktail at the Softitel’s lovely bar, I saw the error of my ways and I feel like I’ve been missing out all this time. The bar had a little bit of an old school, Soho House-esque gentleman’s club vibe, it was like we had discovered a really cool, comfy hidden nook to grab a really great cocktail. The bar staff were wonderfully attentive and gave us some great tips on where to visit, as well as showing us the traditional way of serving Absinthe.
The ocher and deep red colour scheme extended to the bedrooms, subtly reinforcing the Portugese influence. Despite being right on the Avenida da Liberdade, the room was super quiet but enjoyed views across the pretty boulevard and views of one of the seven hills which surround Lisbon. As the window was quite small, the room was a little dark but we were out during the day and only back in the evenings when we would have the lights on. It’s a tiny niggle but insignificant when you weigh up the side of the room, which was spacious enough for a huge bed, sofa, desk and an armchair. The bathroom was equally roomy and had a bath as well as a shower – which I made full use of as I had an awful fever on the trip. I loved the Yves Delorme robes, the most luxurious hotel robes ever!
The location is second to none, the hotel is beautiful and the service is exceptional. The Sofitel Lisbon Liberdade is the perfect choice for an indulgent weekend in Lisbon.
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