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My favourite restaurants of 2017

December 29, 2017
Le Dali, Le Meurice, Paris

This year blogging has taken a bit of a backseat as I’ve had to prioritise other things.  But below is a summary of all the restaurants I loved this year, from London to Stockholm to Marrakech:


Neo Bistro ££

One of my top 2017 favourites is this slightly under the radar bistro, set up by the ex-Harwood Arms chef and the owner of Anglo. Ignore its slightly dodgy location right by Oxford Street as this cosy restaurant offers a fantastic tasting menu at great value: six courses for £45.

Neo Bistro, London

Serge et le Phoque, The Mandrake Hotel ££

Well this certainly was a bit of a showstopper.  Not just the restaurant, but the Mandrake Hotel itself.  It’s certainly ‘out there’ in terms of decor and design; fun, over the top and daring.  The restaurant is more toned down, with a real focus on the food.  Which is very good.  Also, the bathrooms are very cool.

Serge et le Phoque, Mandrake Hotel, London

Magpie £

Magpie is the new restaurant by the guys who opened the very popular (Michelin star) Pidgin in Hackney.  Its very central location on Heddon Street means no excuses not to go, and 100% worth it.  Fun vibes, with trolleys of small plates zipping by, ensuring you can try the full range of their delicious dishes.   The tartare in particular was excellent.

Magpie, London

CUT at 45 Park Lane £££

An oldie but a goodie.  You can’t go wrong with a Wolfgang Puck restaurant, but it’s been an age since I’ve had meat as good as it was here.  The perfect place for a spoiling dinner.

Wishlist: Southam Street, Clove Club, Lyle’s (yes, I know I’ve very behind)



The Mash Inn, Buckinghamshire 

It’s only been open for a year or so but it’s gone from strength to strength.  This pub with rooms, less than a 30 minute train ride from Marylebone, is ideal for a quick London getaway.  Especially for foodies, their 9 course tasting menu (£65) is phenomenal.  And the homemade breakfast in bed is the best wake up ever.

The Mash Inn

The Bull Inn, Cotswolds

One of my favourite countryside getaways this year was at the adorable and beyond cosy Bull Inn, a beautiful pub with rooms in the charming village of Charlbury.  Every room is carefully designed with a lovely use of colour and different wallpaper, and it was close to impossible leaving their cosy fireplace.  Their restaurant offers well priced, hearty British dishes and the staff are wonderful.

The Bull Inn, Charlbury



Piano Strada, Rome

A new favourite in a city which keeps on giving.  This restaurant, run by four blondes, ticks all the boxes. Great location, cool interiors, excellent food.  We’ve booked to return in January.

Piana Strade, Rome

Apollinare, Spoleto 

Should you find yourself in this quiet but very pretty Umbrian town, make sure you have lunch at this brilliant restaurant.  It was the first lunch we had of our holiday, but safe to say also the best.  Book a table on their terrace and eat pasta to your hearts content.

Apollinare, Spoleto



Oaxen Slip

Our favourite restaurant in the city with a lot of good restaurants.  Charming service, lovely setting, and excellent food. Obviously go for the fish dishes, you are in Sweden after all.

Oaxen Slip, Stockholm

Rosendals Tradgard

The only place for a picnic lunch in Stockholm’s summer months.  No prettier place to be than in Rosendal Park, eating the cafe’s delicious sandwiches and cafes. Affordable too (for Stockholm).

Rosendals Tradgard, Stockholm

More recommendations for Stockholm can be found here.



La Famille

Like stepping into an oasis of calm and green, in the middle of Marrakech’s hectic medina.  If you need a break from tagines then La Famille is the answer, offering incredible salads and pastas and cakes in a beautiful, bohemian setting.

Le Famille, Marrakech

Wishlist: La Table du Marche

More tips for Morocco can be found here.



Alain Ducasse at Plaza Athenee

The most sparkly, beautiful breakfast imaginable.  I can only imagine what dinner is like here.

Alain Ducasse at Plaza Athenee

Le Dali at Le Meurice

There are few more eye catching restaurants than Le Dali, in one of the most iconic hotels in Paris.  And *those* deserts! Not to be missed.

Le Dali, Le Meurice

Wishlist: Carbon, Balagan




Located in up and coming East Amsterdam in the iconic Entrepot dock, this brand new restaurant is not only beautiful to look at, but the food is good too.  And not your standard fare either, often seasonal products are used, mostly cooked on an open fire.  I love the service here, who greet you with a handshake and were exceptionally friendly and helpful all evening.

Entrepot, Amsterdam


Despite its odd location, just outside the city along a motorway, Restaurant Bureau is a unique restaurant with an incredible rooftop terrace and a well priced menu.  It’s not the place for first time Amsterdam visitors, but if you know the city well, this is the ideal place to try something different.

Bureau, Amsterdam

For more Amsterdam tips, click here.

Wishlist: Choux, Marius, Vinkeles (at the Dylan)



The Japanese Restaurant, the Chedi

The most romantic setting for dinner, sitting at the candlelit Long Pool of this beautiful Muscat hotel.  Phenomenal Japanese food.  More tips on Oman can be found here.

The Chedi, Muscat



The Palmenhaus

The Palmenhaus has been around for years, and I still remembered it from my time of living in Vienna almost 20 years ago.  It’s a beautiful, airy, old tropical house, perfect for a coffee and an excellent cake, or for lunch or dinner, overlooking the Burggarten.  A special place.

Palmenhaus, Vienna

More recommendations for Vienna can be found here.

Amsterdam, Argentina, Blog, Italy, Lisbon, London, Marrakech, Morocco, Portugal, Puglia, South Africa

Best of 2015: My favourites

December 29, 2015
city turtle

2015 has been a busy year in terms of travel, I’ve done numerous city weekend breaks in Europe (Amsterdam / Lisbon / Barcelona /Krakow), some relaxing, foodie holidays (Puglia / Bordeaux / Cyprus) and some serious ‘wow’ trips (Argentina / South Africa).

Here are my 2015 favourites: 

The Show Stopper: The Test Kitchen, Cape Town.

No wonder it’s been awarded South Africa’s number one restaurant for the 4th year in a row, as well as the best restaurant in Africa.  We were so lucky to have dinner here and try their incredible 10 course Tasting Menu.  We sat at the kitchen bar, which I highly recommend, as it is truly one of the best experiences watching these top chefs put together the most incredible food.

Runner up: La Colombe, the sophisticated and much-loved restaurant in Constantia, the exclusive suburb of Cape Town.  With beautiful views, delicate food and perfect service, I can completely understand why people rave about it (and why it was voted South Africa’s 2nd best restaurant).

Test Kitchen, Cape Town

Most spectacular Hotel: Eolo, Argentina.

I was completely blown away by this fantastic Relais & Chateaux, nestled in the Patagonian hills.  This is a simple, elegant and intimate boutique hotel – which is all about the views, the fantastic service, the beautiful Argentine design and the excellent food.  By far the best place I stayed in Argentina.

Runner up was Rattrays, Mala Mala in Sabi Sands.  The most beautiful colonial lodge, and the best base for wildlife viewing in South Africa. Runner up 2: Babylonstoren, South Africa, the most wonderful Cape Dutch farm and hotel in between Franschoek and Paarl.  I could not fault the design.

Eolo, Argentina

Favourite new discovery: Puglia, Italy.

Italy is, and will always be, my favourite country.  And I know it quite well.  But 2015 was the first time I traveled to ‘the heel’ of Italy, to Puglia, and I was taken aback by how much I adored it.  So different to the rest of the country, I loved its dark red earth, the hundred year old olive groves, turquoise seas, the white-washed hill top towns, the brilliant food and wine, and the incredible value for money.  Read all about my favourite places in Puglia here.

Runner up: Krakow, Poland.  Who knew Poland was quite so beautiful?  I absolutely loved this pretty and well-preserved Medieval city.  Wonderful architecture, great dining options, and super affordable.

Controcorrente, Ostuni


Favourite new London restaurant: Shackfuyu, Soho.

Fans of the Bone Daddies restaurant group will not have missed their Soho pop up, which received such high acclaim (especially its Kinako french toast with green tea soft serve ice cream) that it has now thankfully become a permanent fixture.  My favourite dish was the aubergine with babu aruru, that alone is a reason to return.

Runner up: Taberna do Mercado.  While Nuno Mendes’ new Spittalfields restaurant has divided opinion, I loved this cosy, down to earth Portuguese restaurant, with hearty ‘grandma-style’ dishes.

Bone Daddies Shackfuyu, Soho

Favourite new London bar: The Gin Parlour at Mr Fogg’s Tavern, Soho.

I was already a fan of Mr Fogg’s Residence in Mayfair, and so was delighted when Mr Fogg’s Tavern opened at the end of the year.  While the Tavern itself is often heaving, upstairs you’ll find a much quieter and more sophisticated Victorian Gin Parlour, with delicious (albeit expensive) cocktails.

Runner upCahoots . While it’s a nightmare to get a booking, I thought the interiors and the Underground theme was incredible (and the cocktail prices reasonable).

Mr Fogg's Tavern, Soho

Best value hotel: The Capaldi, Marrakech.

If you’re looking for a sunny but short break away from London, then Marrakech is the perfect option.  Just a 3 hour flight, but where the weather is infinitely better and where there is an astonishing array of five star hotels.  While the likes of the Amanjena, the new Mandarin Oriental and Kasbah Tamadot are luxurious but very expensive options, the Capaldi offers the best of both worlds.  It’s a beautiful hotel, set in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains, half an hour drive from Marrakech’s medina, and a complete paradise.  Best of all is that rooms are from £100 per night, so totally affordable.  I loved it.

Runner up: Hotel Ormes de Pez, in the Medoc area of Bordeaux. With only a few rooms, I loved staying at this very comfortable, traditional French Chateau boutique hotel, where you are beautifully looked after by Gilles.

Capaldi, Marrakech


Favourite new London hotel: The Zetter Townhouse, Marylebone.

The Zetter Townhouse in Clerkenwell is a London favourite, but the new Townhouse in West London is giving it a good run for its money.  With quirky interiors, a very cosy sitting room/bar/lounge and rooms with the comfiest looking beds I’ve seen – this is British design at its best.

Runner up: the very modern Mondrian Hotel at the Sea Containers on the South Bank, where I especially loved the views and the cocktail bar.

Zetter Townhouse, Marylebone

Favourite Amsterdam new-comer: Cafe Panache, Amsterdam.

This laid-back, stylish cafe-restaurant had such a fantastic vibe, I thought I was in New York.  The food is good, but the main reason to come is for the atmosphere, and the bar filled with locals, which stays open until late.

Runner up: The W Hotel, Amsterdam.  While I’m not a massive fan of the W group, I must say I completely adored the new W’s ‘Lounge’ bar on the top floor, where the views of the Dam Palace are out of this world, and where I’d pay good money to have a swim in their pool with a view.

Cafe Panache, Amsterdam

Most original bar: Floreria Atlantico, Buenos Aires.

It doesn’t get more original than when the entrance to a bar is a fully functioning flower shop.  This bar has been repeatedly voted one of the world’s best bars, and I can totally see why.

Floreria Atlantico, Buenos Aires


Favourite healthy option: Pluk, Amsterdam.

Too pretty for words, this newcomer to Amsterdam’s beloved Negen Straatjes (Nine Little Streets) is the perfect girlie health haven.  Pick a juice, a salad and a detox shot and you’re good to go.  I love their Instagram feed too.  If you’re looking for something more substantial for brunch, then their sister property Ree 7 (on the same street), is also worth checking out.

Runner up: Flax & Kale, Barcelona. I was really wowed by this healthy ‘flexitarian’ restaurant, which combined stunning interiors with a delicious, unique menu.

Pluk, Amsterdam


Best bottomless brunch: Bourne & Hollingsworth Buildings, Clerkenwell.

2015 was the year I fell in love with Exmouth Market, a new part of London I had shockingly never been to before.  B&H Buildings is around the corner, and it’s colonial, bright interiors makes it the ideal place for brunch (try and get a table in their green house).  Best of all is that they offer bottomless Bellinis (£16) or Bloody Mary’s (£15) for weekend brunch.

Bourne and Hollingsworth Buildings, Clerkenwell

Favourite local: Hally’s and Little H, Parsons Green.

Fulham gets criticised for being slightly on the dull side when it comes to restaurants and bars, but one thing it can get right is brunch.  Hally’s remains one of my favourite Fulham locals, and with the arrival of its smaller and healthier sister property Little H (with a Cali twist), I couldn’t be happier.

Runner up: St Clements, toward Eelbrook Common, is also a great option if Hally’s is fully booked.  Manuka Kitchen also remains a firm favourite.

Hally's Parsons Green

Favourite City Break: Lisbon, Portugal.

It was my second time visiting the Portuguese capital this year, and I liked it even more than the first time I went.  Lisbon combines excellent weather with beautiful architecture, an innovative foodie scene and incredible value for money.   Take an extra day off work and give yourself a day on the beach to add some proper R&R to this city break, and you’ll feel like you’ve been on a proper holiday.  Read all about my Lisbon highlights here.

Runner up: Barcelona.  This Spanish city never fails to disappoint. With wonderful tapas bars, fantastic rooftop bars and the beach (with its brilliant beach bars), I could return again and again.



Blog, Marrakech, Morocco

The Capaldi, Marrakech – STAY

June 7, 2015
Capaldi, Marrakech

Marrakech is one of my favourite destinations.  It’s a 3 hour flight from London, the weather tends to be very good from mid-April until the end of September, and it offers a huge range of beautiful hotels (most of which with very good prices).

My most recent trip to Marrakech took me to a new hidden gem: the Capaldi Hotel, nestled in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains.  I only had lunch here but fell head over heals in love with this place.  It’s about a 40 minute drive outside Marrakech’s medina, so this is really a place to come to if you’ve visited Marrakech before or if you’re just looking to completely relax and get away from everything.

the Capaldi, Marrakech

As you turn off the main road onto a dirt track you wonder where you’re going to end up. But like so many Moroccan hotels and Riads, beauty often lies behind unremarkable walls or gates.  Having said that, the Capaldi has a stunning arched carved ‘entrance’ which leads you into the hotel and its grounds. Through these doors you can already catch a glimpse of the snow capped Atlas Mountains and a turquoise pool, surrounded by generous gardens. Stepping across the threshold you find yourself in an oasis of lush green lawns, olive tree lined paths and heavily scented Bourgainvillea.

the Capaldi, Marrakech

The Capaldi is all about rest and relaxation. About getting away and properly unwinding. And at a place like this it’s hard to find a reason to leave.  Owned and run by a charming English couple, they will ensure you are more than well looked after. Hang out on expansive white day beds by one of their two pools, or get pampered in their hammam. Have a seriously good (the chefs are Michelin star trained) fresh and healthy Mediterranean lunch on their roof terrace overlooking the mountains.  Or retreat back to your room – spacious, with tasteful Moroccan interiors and huge beds – for an afternoon siesta.

the Capaldi, Marrakech

the Capaldi, Marrakech

the Capaldi, Marrakech

the Capaldi, Marrakech

If you get restless and crave more action, grab a 40 minute cab to the medina, where you can immerse yourself in the souks and the colours, smells and noises of the enchanting Jmaa el Fna UNESCO World Heritage Square (for more tips on Marrakech check out my blog from my previous visit).  For those who appreciate art and like bright colours and gardens, visiting the Yves Saint Laurent Majorelle Gardens is a must.

The Majorelle Gardens, marrakech

Or, if you prefer some exercise and fresh air, go trekking in the beautiful Atlas Mountains, stopping off at one of the Berber villages for a cup of sweet mint tea. Alternatively, the beautiful Lalla Takerkoust Lake is only a 5 minute drive from the hotel (or a 40 minute hike), where you can enjoy a picnic and a cool dip. 

The options are endless. And best of all? It’s so affordable. are offering 3 nights in September for £433 in one of their Farm House rooms with Terrace. Yes, I triple checked that.  I will have to go back to have the full Capaldi experience.

The Capaldi Hotel

Km 39 Route d’Amizmiz,

Lalla Takerkoust, 42202, Morocco

+212 5244-85891

Photos the Capaldi’s own

Blog, Marrakech, Morocco

Marrakech: the Medina and Beyond

August 1, 2013

Marrakech: the Medina and Beyond

At Dusk

Walking onto the famous UNESCO World Heritage square Jmaa El Fnaa will have an effect on you – whether you like it or not.   During daylight this vast expanse of space is relatively empty; the ever-present orange-juice stalls line one side, carpets are rolled out around the square on which toothy Moroccans have laid out a selection of woven ‘sun hats’, dusty trinkets and shiny plastic sunglasses.  Three old men sit in the middle of the square in front a few snakes coiled around each other, basking in the sun.  A slight hint of interest by a passer-by will trigger the men to grab their flutes and play a song.  The snakes seem disinterested.  I only see one react and move to the music, like a teenage boy unwillingly dancing at a school disco.

At night the square truly comes to life; out of no where hundreds of stalls appear, selling anything from snails, to lamb shish and steaming tagines.  Huge crowds of locals and tourists alike crowd around entertainers.  Covent Garden is nothing compared to this.  On our first night we were so overwhelmed by how many people there were we asked a local whether there was a particular special occasion.  He laughed kind-heartedly and told us it was like this every night.

People are divided on what they think of Marrakech.  More often than not people almost gave me a pitying look when hearing I was off to Morocco for a week.  I loved it six years ago and loved it once more upon my return.  But I can see how the busy souqs, the hectic but proud salesmen, the winding maze-like medina alleyways and the heat can get to you.  Ideally you want to spend a few days at most in the medina and then find some peace and quiet in the Palmerie, the Atlas Mountains or the Atlantic Coast further a field.



Where we stayed

In the Medina

Riad Joya €€€

Derb El Hammam, Marrakech

+212 52439164

An oasis of peace in the heart of the bustling Mouassine area North West of Jmaa El Fnaa.   This stunning riad is not easily found, but once there you won’t want to leave.  The style is Moroccan Milanese – stylish as well as traditional.  Each room is different, from ‘Arabe’ to ‘Zanzibar’ themes, some with small fireplaces, others with huge metal bathtubs.  We stayed in the Ambre Gris room, ‘grey’ the key word.  The room radiated a sense of calm, from the vast soft bed to the large shower with plenty of potions and lotions to cleanse you of the medina dust.  The manager, Noubine, is always around, always ready to help you and advise.   The roof terrace is expansive, you can have your (delicious) breakfast there or sunbathe if you can take the heat. One of the pricier riads in the medina, but also known as one of the best.

Riad Joya

Riad Joya's Roof Terrace

In the Palmeraie 

Dar Zemora €€

Rue el Aandalib, Marrakech

Not so much a hotel as a very charming English-owned home.   With only three rooms and three suites, this beautiful house is surrounded by the most beautiful garden.  You’d never think a lawn could be quite so green having passed through Dar Zemora’s dusty surroundings.   Arriving here from the hectic medina is (literally) a breath of fresh air.  It is no surprise that so many birds and bees have made this place their home.  The style is very Moroccan, the standard rooms a good size, simple but comfortable.  The suits are large, very large. We stayed in the Perla Suite and were overwhelmed by the size!  Especially our roof terrace was incredible, with our own pagoda.  The pool and area around it is beautiful and peaceful, the service excellent; bringing you cold water and a cold towel every so often.  I would definitely recommend you stay for either lunch or dinner (or both) – fixed prices for a fixed menu.  The drinks menu also has very reasonable prices, unlike most other Palmeraie/5* hotels.

Dar Zemora - our private terrace

dar zemora



Where we ate

Les Terrace des Espices €€

15 Souk Charifia Sidi Abdellaziz

Beautiful setting, wonderful vibe.  We found Cafe des Espices and believed this was it. The waiter shook his head and led us into the deep and dark souqs until we finally found the sister restaurant.  The ‘terrace’ is worth getting lost for – huge, atmospheric, with nooks to lounge in.  While it does not serve alcohol you come here for the food.  It is exceptional. We went for the Moroccan salads to start (fresh and tasty) and then had a lamb and prune and a lemon chicken tagine.  The best tanginess we had all holiday. And all for a very reasonable price.

Amazing Roof Terrace Restaurant/Lounge

Amazing Roof Terrace Restaurant/Lounge

Cafe des Arabe €€

184, rue Mouassine | Medina, Marrakech 

Owned by an Italian, this chilled out restaurant/cafe/lounge is ideally located minutes from Jmaa el Fnaa and near the souqs. It is the only place in the heart of the medina which has an alcohol licence, which means it attracts quite a few tourists.  Again, the roof terrace is ideal for a lunch in the shade, the food a mixture of Moroccan and Italian. Great place to come for a cold beer as a welcome break from the hot sun.  Also lovely in the evening.

Wonderfully shaded Roof Terrace

Wonderfully shaded Roof Terrace

Villa Flore €€€

4 Derb Azzouz, Marrakech (around the corner from Riad Joya)

Trip Advisor reviews perhaps give this place a bit too much flattery.  Or perhaps we just went for the wrong courses.  Yes, it is a beautiful riad (I would have been interested to check out the rooms) and the court yard, where there restaurant is, is sophisticated and welcoming.  But the menu is limited.  The lamb – much raved about on Trip Advisor – was super expensive so we went for a tagine and the duck instead.  Portions were small. The food was good but nothing special.  It was perfect for us though as it was round the corner from our riad.  So we did not get lost that night.


Dejeuner a Marrakech €€

24, Place Douar Graoua, Marrakech

I loved this place!  Slightly removed from the centre of the medina, but actually quite easy to find from Jmaa el Fnaa, this tall terracotta building has seating areas on each level.  The best is, of course, the roof terrace, with views across the medina.  I really liked the menu – a mixture of Moroccan and more international cuisine.  Their salad options were good – a duck and goats cheese salad, a chicken with tarragon salad and a smoked salmon and dill blinis salad.  I got excited by the idea of blinis so went for the latter which I actually wouldn’t advise as the salmon was still a little frozen.  Loved our experience here though and would definitely come back for dinner.

The views of the rooftops of Marrakech

The views of the rooftops of Marrakech

Other places we wanted to visit but did not get round to:

Mama Tilee

13 Derb El Arsa, Riad Zitoun Jdid, Marrakech

Meant to have fantastic set menus in a nice setting.  A little bit out of our way so we chose restaurants closer to us.

Beldi Country Club

A hotel, restaurant and country club, all rolled into one – this is the ideal retreat to head to if you’re staying in one of Marrakech’s riads and need a cooling dip and some fresh countryside air.  Beldi is only 6km form the pink city, so it’s easy to come here for the day to lounge by one of their many pools, have lunch at their amazing restaurant, or enjoy their spa and hammam.  Rooms from £140 per night.

Beldi Country Club


Where we drank

KosyBar €

47, Place des Ferblantiers, Marrakech

This was our first ‘destination’ in Marrakech and we were not disappointed.  Situated in the mellah (the Jewish area), it is a max 10 minute walk from the Jmaa El Fnaa.  Ideal to come here as the sun is setting over the medina – the views from the roof terrace are beautiful.  You can see stalks nests high above and hear children laughing and playing in the square below.  The cocktails are pretty good and an average price for Marrakech (around 90 Dirham, or 7 pounds).   A good place to start your evening.


Mamounia €€€

Sidi Mimoun, Marrakesh

For those who want to have a glimpse of this iconic hotel – where Churchill stayed and loved it so much the bar was named after him.  The bar is super swish, the cocktails truly excellent and you are minutes walk from the medina but yet surrounded by beautiful gardens.  The only draw back are the prices.

Sky Bar €€ 

89 Angle Bld Zerktouni et Mohamed V Gueliz (above Renaissance Hotel)

We didn’t make it here but I heard good things about this cool bar.  Again, nice roof terrace, average priced drinks and a pleasant atmosphere.  Close to Jmaa El Fnaa and Un Dejeuner a Marrakech.

The Medina

We were lucky enough to get an Abercrombie & Kent guide to take us round the main highlights of the medina.  There is not a huge amount to see, it is by no means Rome or Paris.  But just walking around, bartering for a leather bag and having a drink at a local cafe is part of the experience.

If you’ve had enough of the noises, heat and smells of Marrakech then the place I suggest you visit is Essaouira – a beautiful, small, breezy, beachside town.  My experience there will be the topic of my next blog, including tips on where to stay, eat and drink.

Marrakech's spices

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