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Amsterdam, Blog, France, Italy, London, Marrakech, Paris, UK - Outside London

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.

Barcelona, Blog, Spain

Barcelona: An overview

August 29, 2015

Barcelona is not the prettiest city Europe has to offer.  If Gaudi doesn’t do it for you, then some of its architecture may not appeal, nor some of its main sights (i.e. the Sagrada Familia and Park Güell).  But – bold statement I know – it is perhaps one of Europe’s funnest cities.  So lively, so vibrant, so cosmopolitan.  And it may also have been one of the best foodie weekends I’ve had in a while (well, since Bordeaux!).


Here are my top tips for Spain’s favourite city (though I maintain that Madrid gives it a good run for its money), with more detailed blogs to follow:


I’d been to Barcelona a few times before and covered the main sights then.  This time my weekend was spent largely hopping from cafe to bar to beach.  But here are the sights worth seeing if it’s new to you:

*The Sagrada Familia is not my favourite cathedral (read: not a fan of Gaudi), and think it looks a bit like a melted candle.  But it is still worth seeing, purely because it is so unique.  And some people love it!

*Park Güell, right in the north of the city on Carmell Hill, and certainly a bit of a schlep up (there are escalators) is colourful and admittedly quite fun.  It’s a great place for photos of the city.  If you want the signature photos with the lizard then you need to pre-book tickets to get in.


*Apart from that I would enjoy walks through the older areas of Barcelona like Gothic and El Born, or Segway tours are also a very popular way of seeing the city.

*Lastly, the fact that Barcelona has a (very easily accessible) beach is of course a massive bonus.  Head to Barceloneta and soak up some rays, or grab a glass of rosé at one of the many beach bars (more on that later).  It does get very crowded in the summer, but that just means plenty entertaining people watching.


The Metro is excellent (and quick), and, at 1 euro per journey, very cost effective.  It means that if you stay in slightly further afield areas like Gracia, you can be in the city centre within 10 minutes.  But, as the locals will tell you, Barcelona is a city of bicycles.  So renting a bike may well be worth it.  I walked a lot, and find you discover more of the city doing so.  But I appreciate that in 30 degree heat this may not be everyone’s cup of tea.



Once upon a time I was not a fan of Spanish food.  This changed a few years ago when I went to Madrid and tried ‘real’ tapas.  Barcelona has so many fantastic restaurants and cafes I found it hard to choose which ones to try, but I was very pleased with my selection.  Here are a few highlights:


*For the healthy ones amongst you, there is no better place to go than FLAX & KALE, a beauty of a ‘Flexitarian’ restaurant, with a mind-boggling array of cold-pressed juices, inventive salads and fantastic tuna/salmon burgers. I’m still craving their blueberry quinoa muffins, and need to go back for their raw cheesecake.

If you’re looking for other healthy options, try Mother and Press & Reset.

Flax & Kale, Barcelona

*For those of you looking for a more ‘classic’ brunch, then FEDERAL CAFE (in Gothic or Raval) is a must go.  From the beloved smashed avocado on rye bread with poached eggs and all the sides you can dream of, to their very popular (I can see why) French toast with pears, bacon and maple syrup – this is a brunch no-brainer.  Their design is cool, and you can expect huge open windows allowing light to stream in.  Service a bit offish.

Federal Cafe, Barcelona

*For something a bit more upmarket (though their service needs working on), CORNELIA & CO transports you straight to Manhattan.  This chic eatery serves delicious small plates perfect for sharing, and is also a good choice for dinner.  They serve breakfast too (but sadly not in August).  Their shop is worth a browse, it has some lovely bits and bobs (I loved their copper salad bowls).

Cornelia & Co, BarcelonaCornelia & Co, Barcelona


We didn’t really hold back when it came to dinner, and Llamber and Boca Grande may be two of my new favourite European restaurants.  Both serve tapas, but not like the greasy, oily, carby mess I once knew.  This is as sophisticated and inventive as tapas gets.

*LLAMBER is more laid back, a little edgier, and slap bam in the trendy El Born area.  Beautiful interiors with red brick walls and a nice terrace outside too. Our favourite dishes were the asparagus and prawn ‘sticks’ with fondu, and the cheese (some of which were very strong) and meat sharing plates.  I also loved their tomato bread.  After dinner head to Passeig del Born for a few more drinks to end the night.

Llamber, Barcelona

Llamber, Barcelona

*BOCA GRANDE is an assault on all your senses (but in a good way).  The smell, the noises, the beautiful people, the food.  I could people watch for hours, but it was more the incredible intricate interiors of the place that properly fascinated me, with countless mirrors, rows of colourful bottles and dim lighting.  As garish as this sounds, they’ve made it look very tasteful.  Their squid ink risotto with cuttlefish was delicious, as was their tuna and avocado tartar.  Their gazpacho was the best I’ve had.  This is the perfect Saturday night dinner date place.

Boca Grande, Barcelona


*Barcelona nails its rooftop bars, and the TERRAZA DEL PULITZER was by far our favourite.  While you’re not here for the views (below average), this leafy, trendy bar is clearly a favourite amongst locals.  I absolutely loved its vibe.  By 9pm on a Friday people were dancing like it was 3am in a London club.  But the music is chilled rather than too pumping, so it’s perfect for a pre-dinner drink and catch up with friends. Other rooftop bars like La Terrassa at Hotel Villa Emilia and the Sky Bar are apparently also worth going to.

Pulitzer Terrace, Barcelona

*LA VINYA DEL SENYOR: known as Barcelona’s best wine bar.  Located right opposite El Born’s Santa Maria church, this is the place to come and try a number of their excellent (and very well-priced) Rioja’s, while enjoying a beautiful view.  They’re open until 1am, after which you can stumble on to one of the many bars that El Born has to offer.

La Vinya del Senyor, Barcelona

*As if dinner at Boca Grande wasn’t good enough, heading upstairs to their famous cocktails bar BOCA CHICA is a must-do.  Reminding me a little of London’s super fun Mr Fogg’s (if you have not been, go), this glamorous, extravagent bar is the ideal place to start – or end – your night. It is ludicrously expensive, but totally justifiable.  Oh and check out their loos: an experience in itself.

Boca Chica, Barcelona

boca g

*GALLITO – our favourite ‘Chiringuito‘.  Barceloneta’s beach bars cannot be missed, especially for day time drinking. We visited a number, some disappointed (MOMA – don’t bother) but one became our favourite hangout of the weekend (Gallito).  We checked out the newer nieghbouring Pez Vela, but found it more uptight, more expensive and less fun than Gallito.  Gallito just gets it right.  It’s not too touristy at all, and has a large shady terrace, though even sitting inside on their large loungy sofas is appealing.  Their house rosé (18 euros a bottle) is delicious, as are their sharing plates (though the nachos and guacamolo are a little on the small side).

Gallito, Barcelona


We stayed in an excellent Airbnb in Gracia, with a lovely outside terrace (perfect for pre-drinking).  Admittedly probably the best (and most central) areas to stay in are El Born/Gothic/Eixample.  If you prefer hotels to apartments, then I absolutely loved HOTEL BRUMMELL.  In the quieter Poble Sec neighbourhood, this brand new boutique design hotel has everything you need.  The rooms aren’t massive, but they use the space cleverly.  With super comfy beds and rain showers and the penthouses have large terraces, you’ll be very comfortable here.  I adored their small pool and sunbathing deck, as well as their courtyard terrace.  You have access to yoga classes at the next door Garage, and can rent bikes and buy souvenirs at their cool little boutique. Plus, from rooms starting from 100 euros a night, it’s ridiculous value for money.

Hotel Brummell, Barcelona

Hotel Brummell, Barcelona

Other affordable hotels worth checking out are the Praktik hotel chain (Praktik Bakery being my favourite), or, if you want to splash out a bit, I’ve heard very good things about the stunning Cotton House Hotel.  You’re spoilt for choice.

Watch this space for more detailed blogs to come about my favourite Barcelona hangouts or check my instagram for more photos.

Blog, Italy, Puglia

Cisternino, Puglia

August 19, 2015

This was our ‘local’ town.  And how lucky we were to be just a 5 minute drive from this pretty white town in the Valle D’Itria (aka Trulli country).  It seems to have some of the best restaurants in the area (while lacking in bars, but nearby Locorotondo helps out there).  There are pots of plants and flowers everywhere: blood red geraniums spilling over windowsills, big green ferns in shady corners.  The pots of cacti on quiet stairwells serve as a reminder that you’re in the hot south.



We had dinner on the stylish roof terrace of La Capase. While from the inside I would have done the decor very differently, and I don’t think they used the space well (or the right colours), the roof terrace was unexpectedly lovely.  I had read good things about La Capase, but again had not expected the standard of food – or the presentation – to be so good.   Everything from the tuna tartare with miso froth, to the breaded lamb with liquorice and finally a seriously phenomenal array of puddings (the chocolate souflé won) left us more than impressed.  Best of all is that their prices are so reasonable – a dinner which would have cost about £80 per person in London cost about €40 here – which some how makes the food taste even better.

Le Capase, CisterninoLe Capase, CisterninoLe Capase, CisterninoLe Capase, Cisternino

Apart from La Capase, there are a number of other recommended restaurants in town.  We happened upon Enoteca Il Cucco, where my father bought a number of local wines (they have a great selection).  Most days it is also open for dinner, with a small but excellent menu, and obviously a very good choice of wine.  The restaurant was closed when we went, but the owner was very charming and you could tell she loves her job and is passionate (and knowledgeable) about wine.

Enoteca Il Cucco, Cisternino

Finally, Osteria Sant’Anna is meant to be really good too.  Despite a nondescript exterior, it has a large dining room with vaulted ceilings as well as a terrace and the ambience, service and food is meant to be of an exceptional standard.

Forno Pronto is what we really should have tried: the local favourite where butchers allow you to choose your meat and they BBQ it for you on the spot.  There was one on nearly every street, and we saw locals as well as a few tourists enjoying it.

An excuse to return, not that I need it.

All photos are mine.

Blog, UK - Outside London

Bath: An easy weekend escape

November 13, 2012
Royal Crescent, Bath

In need of getting out of London but don’t want to travel too far? Look no further than the prettiest city in the Cotswolds – only 90 minutes away.

Bath reminds me of my childhood.  It used to be the closest ‘nice’ city to school.  It reminds me of going to do Christmas shopping.  Of buying my first pair of flares. Of staying here with my parents after they’d watched me try and perform in the school play.  It also always used to remind me of Covent Garden – with its squares full of talented buskers surrounded by large crowds.  I have only pleasant memories of this pretty city and yet had not been back in at least 5 years.  So this weekend I decided to escape London and head back down memory lane.

The Weir that runs through Bath, with the Cotswold hills in the background

I found Bath more beautiful than I had remembered.  As the train pulled into the small station I admired Bath’s surrounding hills in their autumnal colours and could already catch a glimpse of the rows of limestone Georgian houses with their identical facades, to which Bath owes its beauty and its classical, almost royal feel.   The limestone of the buildings has this unique honey colour, which gives Bath the warmth that perhaps Edinburgh – while also stunning and Georgian, yet with grey, not yellow stone – lacks.

Bath's honey-coloured limestone houses

Bath’s honey-coloured limestone houses


It is immediately understandable why Bath is such a hugely visited city – not only because of its looks, but it has a small-town feel, easy to navigate around and heaving with cute little cafes, delicious brasseries and vibrant bars.  Of course its major attraction – and the very reason it exists in the first place – is because of the Baths.  The Romans used to come here to bathe themselves in the healing waters – and the original baths can still be visited and are very popular.

Lovely Bath

My weekend was a mixture of walking around the city, enjoying the crisp and surprisingly sunny weather, a lot of chilling in yummy cosy Cafes, some early Christmas shopping and quite a lot of photo-taking and City Turtling around.  It is the perfect place for a weekend break and an escape from London.  Yes, it is a busy touristy city but that also adds to its lively vibe.  It is not over-crowded in any way.  And while it’s not cheap, it is much more affordable than London – which makes it a great place to treat yourself but not bore a hole in your bank account. Which is of course why City Turtle likes it so much.

One of Bath's many alleyways

One of Bath’s many alleyways


How to get there:

A 90 minute train from London Paddington station will take you straight into central Bath.  Book ahead and return tickets are from £15 return.



Where to stay:

Bath has many lovely hotels and B&Bs.  But unless you book early you’ll have a hard time finding an available place you like and can afford.

Splash out: Royal Crescent Hotel £££

16 Royal Crescent, Bath BA1 2LS

I’ve always wanted to stay here. The closest I’ve come to this is High Tea here (which is amazing).  The hotel itself has prime location in the centre of the crescent – the most impressive sight in Bath – and is the most luxurious place to stay in Bath.  It does not come cheap though – rooms from £200.




Where I stayed: AirBnB ££

Rochfort Place, Bath BA2 6PB

I struck gold with this place.  Brenda’s studio is perfectly located – just 5 minutes walk from the centre – and it’s in a Georgian house with high ceilings, masses of space and even with a little balcony facing the back garden where you can sit in peace and quiet.  Brenda is lovely, she even leaves coffee, tea, biscuits and bread for you to use in the little kitchen. One night costs £85 which is more than reasonable for what you get.

The lovely balcony

The lovely balcony



What to do: 

The Roman Baths

The Roman Baths, Abbey Church Yard
Bath, BA1 1LZ

Price: £12.25 for an adult ticket

 The tourist-attraction of Bath.  Formerly known by the Celts and the Romans as ‘Aquae Sulis’ (meaning ‘the waters of Sulis’ – Sulis was a goddess identified with Minerva), it was first a Celtic shrine and from about 43AD a Roman bath and temple.  It is beautifully preserved and you can also see the curses scratched onto metal by locals during the Roman time – written to the goddess Minerva – asking her to punish those who had wronged them.

The Roman Baths

The Roman Baths


The Thermae Spa

Bath Street

Price: From £26 for 2 hour use

I was hugely excited about going to the Thermae baths for my own little healing treatment.  We wanted to go just as Bath was turning dark, as apparently the views from the rooftop pool are the most beautiful then. And it wouldn’t be so full.  We got there, assuming we could walk straight in and warm ourselves in the hot water. This was not to be the case, there was a queue snaking all the way around the building – some tourists told us they had been queueing for an hour. An hour!  They must have clever marketing because on all the pictures they make it look like it’s just you and maybe one other person in the pool.  I couldn’t imagine having to queue for an hour just to share a magical moment with 60 other tourists.

Word of advice: don’t go on a Saturday evening – and especially not when the rugby is on as this attracts even more tourists. Also, they charge for use of slippers and dressing gowns, so if you want to save money – bring these along.

Thermae Baths

Thermae Baths



Bath is a great city to walk around – I love its cobbled streets, some steep, others narrow and winding.  I love the views of the surrounding Cotswold hills – sometimes you catch sight of a stunning country house in the distance:

country estate Bath

Hidden but stunning

Bath also has some lovely little parks, like Henrietta park which is good for a stroll.

Henrietta Park

Henrietta Park

Royal Crescent

While most of Bath feels small and cute, the Royal Crescent is quite the opposite.  Built in the mid 18th Century, this sweeping crescent of Georgian terraced houses are – in my eyes – one of the most stunning pieces of architecture in Britain.  The crescent is so majestic – the way it stands so tall and proud on a hill overlooking a large ‘garden’ and green valley.  A great place for a photo, I certainly could not resist it.

Garden in front of the crescent

‘Garden’ in front of the crescent

The Crescent and City Turtle

The Crescent and City Turtle


Cotswold inhabitants will travel to Bath to do their shopping.  I love Bath’s shopping streets – so unlike Oxford street – and they have recently totally rebuilt a shopping area and developed it into ‘SouthGate’.  It mimics the Georgian architecture with a Bath stone facade and so fits in very well with the city.  The shops have greatly improved since my shopping days there 10 years ago..



Where to Eat:


The Boston Tea Party ££

19 Kingsmead Square
Lower Lansdown, Bath

Perfect place for a yummy breakfast, with all ingredients locally sourced and an extensive menu full of all the things you love to eat. They also have lunch options and a great Kids Menu.

Boston Tea Party, Bath

Boston Tea Party



Jika Jika £/££

I love this place!  You could come here and not leave all afternoon.  They serve a variety of brunch and lunch dishes, but their burritos are to die for.  Especially the pulled lamb, tzatziki and tabouleh burrito.  It attracts all kinds of people – from students, to families, to couples which together add to the bustling vibe of the place.  I noticed they had quite an extensive drinks menu, but at the time my eyes were more drawn to the milkshakes and fresh apple juices, rather than which vodka they had on offer.

Jika Jika

Jika Jika

The inviting bar

The inviting bar

Open Kitchen

Open Kitchen

Hall and Woodhouse  ££

1 Old King Street

01225 469259

The website does not do it justice.  This place is the place to come to for a Sunday roast.  Their roast menu is simple: beef, lamb, pork or chicken for £11.50 – with all the trimmings. And the portions are very generous.  There is also just a basic lunch menu which offers some nice options.  Downstairs is more of a cafe where you can have breakfast or just a coffee and a cake.  Apart from that I liked the interior of the building itself – very open and light, with a big glass ceiling.  Book ahead as it’s very popular.

Hall & Woodhouse

Woodhouse & Hall


Circus ££

34 Brock Street

01225 466020

Hugely popular, Circus is a cute little bistro just off the Circus, close to the Royal Crescent.  It has a lovely ambience and you must book well ahead, especially for a Saturday evening as locals and tourists a like flock to this place.  The steak with shallots and claret gravy is a must.  They also do lunch with a cheaper menu.

Circus, Bath



Where to drink:

Jacob’s Cafe

Puts Starbucks to shame with incredible Chai Lattes and Cappuccinos.  The cake selection is to die for.  And though it is right int he middle of the buzz it has plenty of seating spaces upstairs and you can curl up on the large leather sofas and read a book while enjoying Jacob’s treats..

Jacob's Coffee House, Bath

Jacob’s Coffee House

A proper cappuccino, Jacob's Coffee House

A proper cappuccino


Sub 13

Edgar Buildings

Pretty trendy place to go and it is made even more appealing because the cocktails are amazing. And they are Buy One Get One Free from 5 – 8pm every day.  The bar-tenders are super friendly and do their best to create the most delicious drinks for you.  Espresso Martinis recommended!  The main room turns into a dance floor on a Friday and Saturday night, open till 3am.  Be warned, unless you have a reserved table it is very difficult to get in after 11pm.

Sub 13 Cocktails

Sub 13 Cocktails



Grove Street, Bath

Quirky and cool, this underground bar has random bric-a-brac everywhere – from Mao on the men’s loo door to sewing machines on some of the tables.  It’s a popular place and open till quite late so recommended if you’re looking for a boozy night in Bath.

Quirky Opium Bar, Bath

Quirky Opium Bar



A mad tramp dancing in a fountain

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