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Nomade, Tulum – STAY / EAT / DRINK

February 19, 2017
Nomade, Tulum

Nomade is one of Tulum’s newest arrivals, and there was a bit of buzz about it when it first opened; the little sister to the popular Be Tulum (next door).  There are so many places to stay in Tulum that when planning my holiday I found it hard to choose, but had read rave reviews in Conde Nast Traveller and heard from others who’d stayed there that Nomade was definitely worth while.  It also seemed to offer better value than some other places.

Admittedly when we arrived (having just left the paradise that is Esencia), it took a bit of re-adjusting.  This North-African inspired eco-resort is undeniably hip and bohemian, with a young crowd and Indi beats playing on the beach throughout the day.  It’s so different to anywhere I’ve stayed before, but after 24 hours here I had completely relaxed into the hippy, laid back vibe of the place and absolutely loved it.

It’s on the southern side of Tulum’s beach, and so is much less hectic than some of the resorts further north.  The quarter mile private beach is possibly also the best in Tulum, far more expansive than those of many other resorts.  Often for the first few hours of the day we would find ourselves practically all alone on the beach (thank you jet lag), and had the pick of whichever incredible ‘day bed’ we wanted.

Nomade, Tulum, Mexico

Nomade life is extremely chilled out, starting with a healthy set breakfast which I missed enormously upon leaving.  I loved the shot of warm water with lemon which accompanied the breakfast (fruit, yoghurt, eggs, and very fresh pastries).

Nomade, Tulum

It’s hard to describe quite how beautiful the beach and the sea is here.  So breathtaking, and the sea so warm that even we (and we are really not water lovers) swam regularly and often for long stretches, playing in the waves.

Tulum, MexicoNomade, Tulum

The rooms are basic and very rustic, especially if you’re used to minimalist or more polished interiors.  We had one of their Jungle Suites with a sea view, which was comfortable enough but to be honest I would highly recommend going for a Sea View or Ocean Front Cabana – these rooms are much much better as you’re right on the beach.  I rather disliked the mud brown splashed walls which I know fits in with their eco sentiments, but which didn’t really do it for me.  But that’s probably the only real criticism I had of this place, and I just know that if I return, I should pay extra to stay in one of the cabanas.

Nomade, Tulum

Activity wise there is complimentary yoga on the beach every morning, there are bikes to borrow and water sports to explore.  But you’d be surprised how quickly it is to slip into a routine of doing nothing but soaking up the sun, swimming, sleeping, eating and drinking.

Their sea grill restaurant La Popular is outstanding.  We had some of the best food in Tulum here, their tuna tartare with passion fruit was one of my favourites.  Service is a little rusty, and the (mostly French) staff can be quite gruff and impatient, but we’ll forgive them.  The bartenders were all delightful and could rustle up fantastic Margaritas.  The highlight of these dozy days was ordering two large Margaritas in plastic cups, and walking all the way up the beach (between 30 minutes to an hour) at sun set, until we got to our dinner destination.  So magical.

Nomade, TulumNomade, TulumNomade, Tulum

Every evening when returning from dinner we would be welcomed back at Nomade with hundreds of candles lining the pathways.  Truly a wonderful experience, and I would recommend it to those looking for a relaxed, simple but beautiful beach holiday.

 Nomade

KM 10, Carr. Cancún – Tulum

Mexico

Blog, Mexico, Tulum

Mur Mur, Tulum – EAT

February 19, 2017
Mur Mur, Tulum

Mur Mur wins my award for most Instagrammable place of Tulum.  We passed it a number of times as it’s in a great location near big hits like Harwood and Arca.  While it’s set back from the ‘main strip’, it’s very eye catching (and there are some pretty – though extortionate – boutiques surrounding it).

Mur Mur, Tulum

So one day we tore ourselves away from the beach and cycled to Mur Mur for lunch.

Perhaps it’s the combination of their palm tree printed arm chairs, moss green sofas and distressed wooden furniture that give Mur Mur the ultimate laid back but stylish vibe.   The sofas are so comfortable that getting up is the last thing you want to do, so inevitably you end up spending hours here, sipping a cold beer or glass of white wine and savouring the peace and quiet.

Mur Mur, TulumMur Mur, Tulum

This is the perfect place for breakfast or lunch, more cafe than restaurant – though they do have a cool cocktail bar (of course), which is also open in the evening.  Fancying a change from the Mexico cuisine overload, we opted for their sour dough sandwiches with side salads.  I went for the grilled vegetables and Rob for the chicken.  Expecting something far less refined, I was very impressed by the standard of the food.  It’s all locally sourced and you can tell how fresh the produce is.

Mur Mur, Tulum

The service here was slow, and they took their time with our order, but sometimes you need to remind yourself that you’re in Tulum not London and relax.  Having said that, our waiter was excellent, friendly, and knew his stuff – recommending beers and wine to us.

In short, while Tulum is not short on excellent restaurants, Mur Mur is a great day hang out.  Even if you’re not hungry, grab a beer and enjoy some time out of the sun in this delightful little establishment.

Mur Mur

Quintana Roo 15,

Tulum

Mexico

Andalucia, Blog, Bologna, Croatia, London, Mexico, Mexico City, Prague, Rome, Sicily, Spain, Tulum

BEST OF 2016: MY FAVOURITES

January 1, 2017
City Turtle 2016

2016 was another busy year of travel.  I enjoyed a record number of European city breaks (Rome, Prague, Bologna, Istanbul, Marbella, Paris, Amsterdam) and a few brilliant longer trips to Miami, New York, Hvar, Andalucia and Mexico.  Hopefully all my blogs have been useful for those travelling to these destinations.

Here are my favourites of 2016:

Most Spectacular Hotel: Hotel Esencia, Mexico

I promise I’ll stop banging on about this hotel, but this boutique design hotel stands out for me as one of the best places I have ever stayed.  Its stretch of beach is so peaceful, the sand so white and the sea gloriously turquoise. The rooms are white washed, minimalist and super comfortable.  Morning yoga is the best way to start the day there, followed by a delicious healthy breakfast.  It’s no wonder Conde Nast voted it as one of 2016’s best hotels.

Esencia, Mexico

Runner up: Finca Cortesin (and I shockingly still have not written a blog about this place).  Hands down one of Europe’s most beautiful properties, high in the hills 30 minutes from Marbella, with sea and mountain views.  The interiors are so elegant, the swimming pools vast and the spa to die for.

Finca Cortesin, Spain

Favourite new discovery: South East Sicily

A week of exploring all the Baroque-rich towns and cities of South Eastern Sicily is such a treat.  Each of the towns, from Ragusa to Modica to Note are all so individual, with good restaurants, a few fun bars, and lots of pretty streets to explore.  Our seafood lunch at Taverna Cialoma in Marzamemi was one of the big highlights of our trip.  And we learnt that the very underestimated city Catania is also worth a stop.

Ragusa, Sicily

Favourite new London restaurant: Foley’s

With so many restaurant openings in London this year, it’s hard to pick a favourite.  But everything from the divine alfresco bar (with the best Espresso Martinis), to a menu where you literally want to eat every dish (and we did), to the friendly, helpful staff, meant that Foley’s wins the 2016 prize.  A place I know I’ll return to, again and again.

Foleys, FItzrovia

Runner up: The Ninth and Clipstone.  Both of these relatively new openings in London have a lot in common: excellent food, reasonable pricing and great atmosphere.  The Pain Perdu at the Ninth is the best pudding I’ve had this year.

The Ninth, Fitzrovia

Favourite Bar – International: The Living Room, at the Faena, Miami

Wow, the new(ish) Faena hotel in Miami is a true showstopper, rich in colour and gold and opulence.  And walking into its main bar, The Living Room, is like stepping into Gatsby’s 1920s.  I loved every moment of being in this crazy, vibrant, colourful place, where you don’t know where to look or which cocktail to pick from their indulgent menu.  The Faena’s restaurant Pao was also a highlight of my visit.

Photo credit: https://luxuriavacations.com/destinations/usa/faena-hotel-miami-beach

Runner up:  The Bar at the Baccarat Hotel, New York. This hotel is so fantastically blingy, as of course you’d expect considering the owners.  It’s a stunning hotel (the rooms are far more toned down than the public areas), but the bar really stood out.  It’s always packed with very glamorous people, the cocktails are fantastic and the interiors are fabulous.

Photo credit Baccarat Hotels

Favourite English Countryside retreat: Foxhill Manor, the Cotswolds

The Cotswolds is one of my favourite areas of England; the countryside is so breathtakingly beautiful here and the villages are all so picturesque, with so many pretty Cotswold stone cottages, lovely cafes and restaurants and fantastic country walks.  So staying at the exclusive five star Foxhill Manor (Dormy House’s sister property) was one of the highlights of 2016, the ultimate country house hotel.  The food was amazing here, our suite the size of my house in London, and the views of the Cotswolds out of this world.

Foxhill Manor, Cotswolds

Favourite Restaurant – International: Quintonil, Mexico City

Chosen not because it’s voted as the 12th best restaurant in the world, but purely because it was a magical experience, and I’ve never had Mexican food like it.  It’s incredible value for money, and the amuse bouches we had here were some of the best I’ve had.  That said, its Mexico City competitor Pujol deserves a mention too, also for its creative food and noteworthy tasting menu.

Quintonil, Mexico City

Runners up:  This is such a tough one, as I have eaten at some seriously wonderful restaurants this year.  Still, if I had to choose, I loved Marzapane in Rome because it is was so different, so modern and so un-Roman.  At the same time, Sansho’s tasting menu in Prague was exceptional, and fantastic value.  And last but not least, Dalmatino in Hvar, Croatia was unexpected and their squid ink truffle gnocchi mind-blowing.

Marzapane, Rome

Favourite beach: Tulum, Mexico

Who knew Mexico’s Riviera Maya had such incredible beaches?  The beach at Tulum is possibly the most perfect beach I’ve been on.  Lined with palm trees and eco hotels (no building is higher than the tallest palm tree), white powdery sand and warm welcoming turquoise waves, it really is a paradise beach.  Plus, it stretches on and on, and makes for the best walk at sunset, Margarita in hand.  Especially the beach at Nomade (photo below) was phenomenal.

Tulum, Mexico

Runners up: Dubovica Beach on Hvar, Croatia and South Beach, Miami.  These two beaches couldn’t be more different, but each has it’s own bit of wow.  Dubovica beach is small, pebbled and one of the prettiest European beaches I’ve seen.  It has a lovely beach bar too and it’s generally not too full of tourists.  South Beach Miami is of course heaving with people, but that doesn’t stop it from being ‘wow’ in its own way.  It’s one of the most fun beaches I’ve been to, great for people watching, with so much going on.

Dubovica Beach, HvarMiami Beach

Favourite Afternoon tea: Petersham Nurseries

I don’t know how I only managed to visit this heavenly place until so recently, but I fell head over heals for Petersham Nurseries.  Even on a cold (but beautiful) winter afternoon the Cafe was so warm and cosy, the cakes so delicious and the selection of teas ideal.  I can’t wait to return in the spring and the summer.

Photo Credit: http://friendlynettle.com/day-petersham-nurseries-%E2%99%A5/

Favourite city break: Prague

People warned me that yes, the city is beautiful, but it’s touristy and the food isn’t good.  Well, yes, I’d agree that’s it’s busy, but it’s hard to avoid tourists these days.  And, after all, I’m one too.  But I’d disagree that you can’t eat well.  One of my favourite restaurants of the year, Sansho, was here.  Plus Field was excellent too, as was CottoCrudo at the Four Seasons.  There’s lots to do and see, and it’s incredibly affordable too.  Win win.

a-prague-top-ten-sights

Runner up was Bologna, with so much charm and beauty, and excellent Italian food and wine.  Our experience at Drogheria della Rosa was absolutely one of the most memorable of 2016.

Drogheria della Rossa, Bologna

And what has 2017 got in store for me?  Definitely more European city breaks, with Rome and Stockholm already booked, a trip back to Andalucia and Italy this summer for sure, and Mallorca in September.  I’d also really like to return to Vienna, explore Porto and maybe go to some of the Greek islands…  Let’s see where 2017 takes me!

Blog, Mexico, Tulum

Sanara, Tulum

December 31, 2016
Sanara, Tulum

Tulum is heaving with hotels of all kinds, mostly of the eco, rustic variety.  While we stayed at Nomade, the other place I would have loved to have stayed is Sanara.

Sanara is a very small (19 rooms), eco boutique hotel, which focuses on wellness.  I love it’s minimalist white rooms, which are spacious, steps from the beach and come with lovely roll top baths.   You can expect daily yoga and can enjoy their spa and wellness centre, with various packages of ‘personal healing journeys’.

Sanara Tulum (photo credit Sanara)

Sanara is not your most affordable option in Tulum, but it’s absolutely worth spending a little extra for such a beautiful and relaxing hotel.

Still, if you don’t stay here it’s absolutely worth stopping by for a sunset drink or for a delicious, healthy lunch or dinner at their top restaurant Coconut.   We came here to enjoy one of their wonderful cocktails, and it felt a lot calmer than the more buzzing Nomade.

Sanara, TulumSanara, TulumSanara, Tulum

If you’re looking for a party, Sanara is not for you.  But if you want to unwind and leave Tulum feeling more ‘zen’, healthy and rested, then you’ve come to the right place.

Sanara

Tulum

 

Blog, Mexico, Tulum

Hartwood, Tulum

December 10, 2016
Hartwood, Tulum

People rave about Hartwood.  If you type ‘restaurant Tulum’ into Google, Hartwood will take over the search results.   Set up by the American Eric Werner, the New York chef came to Tulum on holiday in 2009 and never left.  He brought with him his wood-fire cooking techniques, and Hartwood quickly became the place to dine in Tulum.

Open only for dinner, the menu is very fish and meat heavy, all cooked on an open fire of course.  Good news is you can actually book ahead now (just send them an email), which we did, and smugly skipped all the queues (there are always queues).   We ate here on our final night and were not disappointed.

The restaurant itself is busy and atmospheric, lit mostly by countless candles.  It’s loud in a way that you can still enjoy conversation, and the buzz is such that it encourages you to buy that extra bottle of wine, or a (delicious) Mezcal-coffee shot instead of pudding.  It’s probably the most upbeat place in Tulum.

Hartwood, Tulum

The menu changes daily.  We shared gambas to start, which were huge and beyond juicy, and gone in seconds.  As a main Rob went for the octopus, and I went for their beef, beautifully pink on the inside, and smoky and crispy on the outside.  To finish I had my Mexcal shot (!) and Rob the sweetcorn ice cream.  I was pretty skeptical about it, until I tried it.  And then proceeded to pretty much finish the whole thing.

Hartwood, TulumHartwood, Tulum

Conclusion: yes, Hartwood is good.  And it should absolutely be on your Tulum bucket list.  But don’t forget about places like Arca (right next door) and El Tabano, which might not have the same press, but definitely deserve it.

Hartwood

Carretera Tulum Boca Paila 7.6Km

77780 Tulum

Photo credit: All mine, difficult to take decent photos with no light!

Blog, Mexico, Tulum

Tulum: an overview

December 3, 2016
Tulum

Let’s get one thing straight: I’m not a hippy, nor does the whole ‘hippy thing’ especially appeal to me.  So I was a little apprehensive about going to Tulum.  Except, Tulum isn’t very hippy at all.  That’s really in its backpacker’s past.  Instead, it now seems to attract glamorous beach babes and all the New York cool kids (and a fair few celebrities).  It’s main selling point is its incredible white sandy beach and beautiful, warm sea, as well as offering fantastic restaurants, bars, boutiques and plenty of outward bound activities (snorkelling, paddle boarding, cenote swimming).

Tulum

STAY

There are so many hotels and beach shacks to choose from in Tulum, it’s hard to make a decision.  I’d read about Tulum’s newest opening in Conde Nast Traveller: Nomade, Be Tulum’s sister property right next door.  With its laid back vibes, stunning (and quiet) stretch of beach, wellness focus and Indi vibes, this has quickly become a Tulum favourite.  I’d definitely only opt for their Sea View or Ocean Front Suites – the other rooms can feel a little dark ( and I wasn’t a fan of their brown mud-like walls at all).  This is place for the young and lively, with chilled music constantly playing in the background.

Nomade, Tulum

Fashion bloggers seems to adore the eco-resort Azulik,  with some of the most amazing Tree House Suites overlooking the beach and open air baths.  This adults only resort is super private and exclusive.  While I didn’t stay there, I personally loved the feel of Sanara, a small and quiet boutique hotel (19 rooms) with wellness at the forefront, daily yoga and a top restaurant Coconut.

Sanara Tulum (photo credit Sanara)

 

EAT

One thing you’ll do in Tulum (apart from never want to leave), is eat well.  There’s a different restaurant or cafe to choose from every step you take along the Tulum strip.  Signs for ‘healthy food’, ‘cold-pressed juices’ and ‘tacos’ are everywhere (as well as ‘Margaritas’, of course).

Hartwood is by far the most famous restaurant in Tulum.  Open only for dinner, this buzzing restaurant is the place to be for fish and meat lovers (all food is cooked on an open fire).  Good news is you can actually book now (just send them an email).  But we found Arca a close contender, not just in location (it’s right next door) but also in terms of the quality of the food and experience.  The design of the restaurant and bar was beautiful.

Arca, Tulum

If you’re looking for traditional, outstanding Mexican food, then El Tabano is the top spot.  Super affordable, with a large menu scribbled on the black board, we had one of our favourite meals here (and they served our favourite Mexican wine: Casa Madero).  If you need a change from Mexican cuisine, then Posada Margarita (possibly nearly as popular as Hartwood) serves the best Italian food in Tulum.  Their fresh pasta dishes were incredible, and one of their salads for lunch on the beach works very well too.

For other lunch options, Mur Mur is an Ingrammer’s dream – all green and white furniture, big pot plants and a great brunch menu.  There are some lovely (if very expensive) boutiques down the little lane where Mur Mur is too.

Mur Mur, Tulum

Finally, Zamas is worth a stop, if not for the quality of the food (average tacos, but great avocado and goats cheese tostados) or the service (below average) but for the colourful terrace and beautiful views of the ocean.  But our favourite lunch place? Most definitely Nomade’s Sea Grill restaurant on the beach La Popular: the best seafood we had and the most incredible setting.

Zamas, Tulum

DRINK

You’ll never be short of alcoholic beverages in Tulum.  While it’s super laid back and finding a nightclub is close to impossible, there are plenty of bars, and plenty of relaxed beach club parties to be found (if you want to find them).  Gitano was one of our favourite bars, and certainly the swankiest (and most expensive) one out there.  Not so rustic or beachy, more polished and suave. Phenomenal cocktails for about £7 – £8 a pop.  La Patrona (right next to El Tabano, if you’re having dinner there) is much more low key, with a very limited cocktail and beer menu (all $8) and good Margaritas.

La Patrona, Tulum

If you’re looking for a place for a good sundowner though, then health-focused hotel Sanara’s Coconut Bar & Restaurant is ideal: with a lovely terrace overlooking the beautiful sea and beach.  Their herb-infused cocktails were delicious and if we’d had time I would have returned here for lunch.

But the best way to enjoy a cocktail in Tulum? Ask Nomade’s beach bartender for a ‘Margarita to go’ (i.e in a plastic cup) and walk the stretch of the beach, cocktail in hand, at sunset.

Nomade, Tulum, Mexico

More detailed blogs to follow about Tulum: keep an eye out.

 

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