Festive Afternoon Tea at The Tea Lounge in St. Ermin’s Hotel, London

I moved to Colchester last December so I rarely travel to London now during the weekends. As a result, I do not see my friends often. As Christmas is approaching fast, I took my friend – Verity to a delicious and stylish afternoon tea in the pretty Tea Lounge at the St. Ermin’s hotel. I had a dinner this hotel at their Caxton Grill restaurant last month and absolutely loved it so I was really looking forward to having our Festive Afternoon Tea there.

Venue and location:

The Tea Lounge is located inside of Westminster’s exclusive St. Ermin’s Hotel which was voted a ‘Top London Hotel’ in Condé Nast Traveller Reader’s Choice Awards.

On my way to the venue, I decided to walk through St. James Park which is just around the corner but other attractions such as the Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland and the Houses of Parliament are only a short walk away. St. Ermin’s Hotel can be easily reachable by tube, bus or walking if you are exploring the central London.

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Service and atmosphere:

The Afternoon Tea is served daily from 12 noon to 6pm and sittings last 1.5hrs. We arrived at around 1 p.m. and we were welcomed by a friendly waitress. The St. Ermin’s Tea Lounge offers its guests a relaxing environment where you can indulge in the delights of afternoon tea whilst catching-up with a friend or spoiling someone you love. There was a soft, relaxing music playing in the background which was soothing after shopping on Oxford Street in the morning.

The menu: 

The St. Ermin’s Tea Lounge offers a variety of Afternoon Tea menus including gluten free and vegetarian options which are available on request. As soon as we sat down, we received a tea menu where we discovered a large selection of ‘Tea Makers of London’ teas. We both decided to have a pot of Festive Tea.

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Our tea arrived in no time and was followed by a beautifully presented stand of the sweet and savoury delicacies. We started with a range of finger sandwiches including:

  • Turkey, cranberry stuffing & baby spinach
  • Crayfish, rocket & lemon mayonnaise
  • Roasted squash, nut-free pesto & Somerset brie
  • Red pepper, hummus, mint & coriander
  • Salt beef, horseradish & mustard cress

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They were all tasty and presented well. Once we finished our savoury treats, we moved to a selection of sweet cakes and pastries. I enjoyed them all but my favourite 3 were:

  • Cranberry & vanilla verrine
  • Ginger mousse with mulled berry compote
  • Chestnut sponge, spiced pear jam, nutmeg custard & brandy cream

Lastly, we had some delightful freshly baked scones (Plain & fruit) which were served with some clotted cream and a selection of jams. What a perfect end to our festive Afternoon Tea experience!

Overall experience:

The St. Ermin’s Tea Lounge not only offers a welcoming atmosphere whilst being set in pretty surrounds but also offers a great selection of sweet and savoury treats which were all beautifully presented and tasty. What a great way to refuel after shopping all morning!

This was my second visit to St.Ermin’s hotel and once again I left impressed. I will definitely visit again soon!

Price:

£49 per person with unlimited prosecco is available throughout December.

Website:

For more information and to book visit:
https://www.sterminshotel.co.uk/eating-drinking/afternoon-tea/

Address:
Tea Lounge at St. Ermin’s Hotel, Autograph Collection
2 Caxton Street
Westminster
London SW1H 0QW

I hope that you enjoyed reading this review!

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Pauline

Our stay at Chilston Park Hotel in Lenham, Kent

Whether you are looking for a romantic break for two, a spa break or just a weekend away then you should definitely check what Hand Picked Hotels offer. It was my first adventure when I discovered one of their properties and let me tell you – I loved it. I recently travelled to Kent’s countryside and stayed in the stunning Chilston Park Hotel. If, like me, you are seeking the best places to stay in then you should definitely visit.

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Location:

Chilston Park Hotel in located in the picturesque village of Lenham. Visitors can easily reach it whether they are travelling from Ashford, Dover or London which are only a short drive away. If you enjoy romantic walks then the hotel offers picturesque views of its neighbouring lake combined with a tranquil charm of its garden.

In addition, if you are planning to stay in Kent for a few days then Chilston Park Hotel would be a perfect base from where you can experience this beautiful part of England with many famous castles, landmarks and nearby white cliffs.

Service:

As soon as we entered the hotel, we were welcomed by a helpful receptionist. The porter took us to our rooms and as there was some time to spare we decided to have a drink at the historical lounge. Both bar and restaurant staff were helpful and professional.

Rooms:

Chilston Park Hotel offers its guests 53 bedrooms to suit their needs and budget – ranging from classic rooms to exclusive suites. All rooms were individually styled and are now known by a name, not a digit, as they have their own unique history and feel. Some rooms come with a view of the lake others overlook the grounds. Most importantly they all provide homely comforts you require whilst being away from home.

We stayed in ‘Evelyn’ which features a stunning views across the garden and grounds. Our room featured a comfortable, pencil four poster bed with luxury linen, a large wardrobe, coffee table with two chairs and a telephone. In addition, there were tea and coffee making facilities.

Our en-suite bathroom also had a classic décor. A selection of natural bath toiletries was supplied. In addition, there were some soft towels, slippers and bath gowns provided.

Facilities:

Besides its charming rooms, hotel features the bar, lounge as well as a pretty garden. After sightseeing during the day, the bar was a great place to relax and enjoy a drink. A nice selection of alcoholic beverages and cocktails was on offer.

In addition, there were many great historic features such as beautiful classic staircase, fireplace with two guarding lions and a bookshelf with lots of old historic books.

Restaurant:

The hotel also prides itself in having a 2 AA Rosette – ‘Culpeper’s’ restaurant that offers an inviting atmosphere and is located in the original dining room of the house featuring a decorative ceiling and fireplace.

As we are massive foodies, we decided to have our dinner there and we were impressed with the vibrant, modern British, seasonal dishes created by the head chef – Adrian Martin. I was also happy to discover that many of the ingredients were sourced locally to offer the highest quality dishes. We decided to have some house red wine with our meal but diners also have an opportunity to sample some of the wines offered by the sommelier.

To start with I had some pan seared Rye Bay scallops with burnt onion relish, cauliflower purée and pancetta crumb. They were simply divine. My husband had some griddled tiger prawns roasted in red pepper sauce, citrus and parsley oil.

For my main, I decided to have some roast fillet of Atlantic cod in parsley cream sauce whilst my husband had a crispy belly of Caldecott pork and braised cheek layered with garlic and potato cake, caramelised apple puree and Biddenden cider vinaigrette. Both dishes were cooked to perfection and we finished them in no time.

Choosing a dessert was not a problem at all when I saw a sticky toffee pudding on the menu. It was accompanied by some Butterscotch sauce and vanilla ice cream which was simply mouth-watering. My husband decided to have a selection of British cheeses served with some homemade chutney and Miller’s Damsels wafers.

Overall experience:

Chilston Park Hotel offers a charming accommodation to anyone seeking to experience a relaxing and unforgettable moments in the English countryside. From the moment we entered, we were enchanted by its history, décor and pretty location. Both food and service were faultless so I would definitely recommend this hotel to anyone who plans any adventures to Kent.

I would love to experience some other hotels from Hand Picked Portfolio as I was really impressed with this establishment.

Website:

For more information and to book visit:

https://www.handpickedhotels.co.uk/chilstonpark/

Address:

Sandway, Lenham, ME17 2BE, Kent United Kingdom

Hope you enjoyed reading this review!

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Pauline

Our stay in VISIONAPARTMENTS in Zurich

We travelled to Zurich recently for a short, weekend break. We stayed in one of the luxurious apartments managed by VISIONAPARTMENTS. They offer over 1,800 tailored temporary living solutions in Berlin, Frankfurt, Lausanne, Warsaw, Vevey, Vienna, Zug and Zurich. The main clientele of VISIONAPARTMENTS are businessmen and young leisure travellers who collectively help to create a great atmosphere there.

Location:
VISIONAPARTMENTS Wolframplatz building is situated just a few metres away from the Giesshübel Train Station which can get you to the Zürich Main Train Station in a few minutes. It makes it a perfect location for whether you are there on business or – like us – travelling for a short city-break. The airport is only 40min away can be easily reached by public transport too.
You can also grab a bite to eat nearby, with the nearest restaurants located only a short walk away or go shopping at the Sihlcity Shopping Centre which is a 5min walk away from the apartments.

Apartment:
The concept of an aparthotel is one that offers most of the services of a hotel: rooms are regularly cleaned but rather than living in a room, you are spend your time in a fully-equipped apartment. VISIONAPARTMENTS units are available in a variety of layouts, styles and sizes and are competitively priced whether you are looking for a long- or short-term accommodation.


We stayed in a lovely, fully furnished Junior Duplex Apartment (No# WO010), split over 2 levels. On the ground floor, it featured a bathroom, living room area and a kitchen (with a small mini-fridge, microwave and dishwasher). A staircase lead us up to our spacious bedroom with its own en-suite bathroom.

The bedroom had a large, comfortable king size bed, flat screen TV and handy night stands. There was a selection of toiletries available in our master bathroom in addition to comfy robes and slippers.


After long days of sightseeing, I really enjoyed coming back to our apartment and relaxing on the large sofa watching some news before going to bed. As our apartment had a fully furnished kitchen – we prepared our breakfasts there, trying some locally produced goods.

Overall experience:
We stayed at the VISIONAPARTMENTS in Zurich for 2 nights and we really enjoyed it. The complex is super modern – you do not need to even check in/check out as you get an access code to your apartment on the day of your arrival. I was impressed with how spacious and stylish our apartment was. There is no restaurant onsite but if you do not mind preparing your own breakfast or having it at one of the nearby cafes then that shouldn’t be an issue. I would definitely recommend it to all travellers who like to stay in beautiful modern surroundings that offer an excellent price to quality ratio.

Address:
Wolframplatz. 1,
8045 Zürich, Switzerland

Website:
https://visionapartments.com/en/

I hope you enjoyed reading this review!

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Pauline

Holiday destinations: Hamburg, Germany

As it was a Bank Holiday weekend last week, we travelled to Hamburg in Germany. I’ve never there before so I was looking forward to discovering this second largest German city with the largest port. Hamburg has became one of the major centres for international trade due to its location and it continues to be one of the wealthiest cities build on maritime stories. Locals have mastered how to live well and if (like me) you like to indulge in diverse cuisine then you would enjoy your stay here as there are a plenty of great restaurants, bars and breweries to visit.

If you like sightseeing then you can take one of the sightseeing walking tours showing you the city’s highlights or grab a map and discover the major sites by yourself.

Here is a short list of my suggestions of places worth visiting:

  • Speicherstadt – the largest warehouse district in the world located in the port of Hamburg with some signature red-brick warehouses, canals & museums.

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  • Elbphilharmonie Hamburg – a newly constructed concert hall in the HafenCity on the Grasbrook peninsula of the Elbe River. It is one of the largest and acoustically most advanced concert halls in the world which cost 8 times more to build than the Sydney Opera House.
  • Townhall and Alster – the seat of local government which is one of Germany’s 16 state parliaments. Located next to Hamburg’s most popular river – Alster leading to many shopping malls and boutiques.
  • Planten un Blomen – a large city park with a size of 47 hectares featuring themed gardens, a lake & Japanese tea house

How to get there?

If you live in the UK then you can easily get to Hamburg from most of major cities. We’ve flown from London Stanstead and it took us slightly over 1 hour to get there. Perfect for a short weekend break.

Other tips:

Hamburg has a very good transport network and you should definitely get a Hamburg Card when you visit – it will cover all your travel in addition to some discounts i.e. to some of the top attractions, restaurants, river cruises etc.

I hope you enjoyed reading this review.

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Pauline

Our stay at Regnum Aparthotel & Spa in Bansko, Bulgaria

A few weeks ago, I was in Bulgaria with my husband to resolve some issues with my parent’s holiday home. We spent a few days in Bansko and a couple of days in Sofia. I love travelling to Bulgaria and today I would like to tell you about our stay at the Regnum Apart hotel & Spa in Bansko.

Location:

Regnum Apart hotel & Spa is based in the popular town of Bansko at the foot of the Pirin Mountains, in southwest Bulgaria. It is only a few minutes’ walk from town’s high street on which you can find many nice restaurants, clubs and a gondola. The hotels location is perfect – no matter whether you are in Bansko for skiing, hiking or just passing by.

Atmosphere:

Regnum Apart hotel & Spa has a classic and sophisticated décor. Its guests can enjoy many common areas such as an outdoor swimming pool, spa, bar, reading room and a large lounging area. All staff members we spoke with were helpful and accommodating.

Room:

We stayed in an Executive deluxe suite which consisted of two rooms, bathroom and a balcony with stunning mountain views. We enjoyed relaxing in our spacious living room with kitchenette which was fully equipped with a kettle all plates, cutlery, mini-fridge, safe box, and oven. We didn’t cook whilst we were there, but it would be handy for anyone who fancy preparing their meals whilst away from home. Our bedroom had a stylish décor and a comfortable with king size bed and a flat-screen TV.
Our bathroom had both shower cabin and bathtub and again was finished to a high standard. A selection of complimentary toiletries was also provided.


My favourite space in the apartment was our balcony – the view was simply stunning and as we were in Bansko in June it was perfect to lounging on with a drink after hiking all day.

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Overall experience:
We enjoyed our stay in Regnum Apart hotel & Spa and I would recommend it to anyone travelling to Bansko. In addition, the hotel has recently opened its own thermal SPA in a picturesque village of Banya. Regnum Banya Thermal features an outdoor swimming pool with mineral water which is complimentary to use for all hotel guests and can be easily reachable in 10min by a free hotel’s shuttle bus. The SPA has great facilities including a steam room, sauna and if you fancy you can have one of beauty treatments or a massage whilst in there.


The only let down was hotel’s buffet which we decided to try on one of the nights. All food was bland and overpriced for Bulgaria as it was around 20euros per person. It was a canteen quality food which I would not expect in a 5-star hotel.

Website:

For more information and to book visit:
https://www.regnum.bg/en/

Hope you enjoyed reading this review!

X

Pauline

Holiday destinations: Milan, Italy

A couple of weeks ago, I traveled with my husband to Milan in Northern Italy. I’ve been in Milan a few times before as I love the cosmopolitan vibe offered by this global city which is perfect for anyone who loves the art, design, entertainment and fashion.

Milan has been recognised as one of the worlds fashion capitals and the famous Milan Fashion Week takes place here on a yearly basis. It is also one of the key European financial capitals and Italian stock exchange is based here.

Over 8 million visitors are attracted by Milan every year as the city has lots of heritage with some great museums and art galleries featuring some of the most famous collections in the world including works by Leonardo da Vinci.

If you like sightseeing then there is a lot to see and the city will appeal to a wide range of different visitors.

Here is a short list of my suggestions of places worth visiting:

  • Duomo di Milano – one of the largest Gothic cathedrals in the world which completion took almost 600 years. Located on a Piazza del Duomo with many lively cafes and the elegant fashion shops.
  • Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II – one of the most beautiful and oldest shopping malls in the world featuring many designer boutiques based in a four-storey arcade opposite of Duomo di Milano in central Milan.
  • Sforzesco Castle – a castle built in the 15th century by Francesco Sforza who was a Duke of Milan.

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  • Sempione Park – a large park leading to Sforzesco Castle which was established in 1888.
  • Teatro alla Scala – a well-known opera house which was established in 1778.

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How to get there?

If you live in the UK then you can easily get to Milan from most of major cities. We’ve flown from London Heathrow and it took us slightly over 2 hours.

I hope you enjoyed reading this review.

X

Pauline

Our dinner at Informal Restaurant in Barcelona, Spain

As you are probably aware, I love travelling and I am a massive foodie. During my recent trip to Barcelona, I visited lots of local restaurant and bars but only 2 of them really stood out from the rest. Today, I would like to tell you about my experience at Informal Restaurant in Barcelona.

Location:

The Informal Restaurant is located in the Serras Hotel in Barcelona. It is situated in a famous Bari Gotic area, just a few minutes away from Barceloneta station. It is a 7 minute walk from Las Ramblas.

Atmosphere:
The whole hotel has a minimalist, modern decor with its linen fabrics, neutral colors and use of materials like iron and wood that connect it to the surrounding marina. As soon as we entered the restaurant we were welcome by a friendly hostess and introduced to Rodrigo who was our waiter throughout the evening. There was a relaxing music playing at the background. In the middle of the restaurant there was an open kitchen and grill which was great as you could admire your food being made.

The menu:

The menu at Informal Restaurant is developed by Michelin Star Chef Marc Gascons who focuses or Catalan and Mediterranean specialties. He aims to provide its dinners with a delicious selection of dishes made using locally sourced products from land and sea.

The restaurant offers a nice selection of dishes but we decided to order from ‘Menu Experience: Picasso’.

To start with, we ordered a few tapas dishes to share:

  • some homemade toasted flat bread with tomato and extra virgin olive oil;

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  • salted anchovies from L’Escala with olive oil and pepper;

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  • mixed salad of green beans, green peas, Iberian ham and black truffle;
  • steamed artichokes, bulgur, celeriac, orange vinaigrette and black truffle;

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  • patatas bravas;
  • free-range chicken roast croquettes.

For my main I decided to have a roasted monkfish with peas, squid and chicken juice. It was mouth watering!

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My husband had some succulent veal with potato parmentier and some seasonal mushrooms. His meal was simply amazing and he thought that it was the best veal he’s ever eaten which is a big statement to make as we eat out at least twice a week.

I love desserts and I was looking forward to trying some of Informal Restaurant’s roast apple dessert with puff pasty, pine nuts and lemon cream. It was delicious!

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My husband ordered some chocolate ice cream and gnache with olive oil and salt. It was a perfect combination of sweet and salty experiences in one dessert.

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Overall experience:
We both enjoyed our dinner at Informal Restaurant. Chef Marc Gascons offers its diners a great selection of some of the best best local food with a modern twist. Throughout our meal the service was friendly and attentive. They made us feel relaxed and welcomed. The restaurant is also very conveniently located so I would definitely visit it again next time I am in Barcelona.

Website:
For more information and to book visit:

https://hoteltheserrasbarcelona.com/en/informal.html

Address:

Carrer de la Plata, 4,

08002 Barcelona, Spain

I hope you enjoyed reading this review!

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Pauline