Recently a project took me to Antwerp in Belgium, just a few days before the easter weekend. I was lucky enough to stay on the first floor of Boulevard Leopard bed and breakfast.
All original from the 1900's the 3 meter high ceilings and objects such as oil paintings and beautiful antique furniture surrounded you, the creaky wooden floorboards, the low lighting of the chandeliers all had me walking around touching things for hours.
Aantique tableware, coffee in a silver pot with a small bowl of greek yoghurt with watermelon awaited at a table at 8am on the morning after my arrival. I was greeted by Martin (the owner of the establishment) as i walked in to what is his own kitchen where he supplies breakfast and serves it himself to his quests)
A warm character, and very well to do, he brought me out some freshly squeezed orange juice, a selection of breads with cheese and ham. He then asked me if i would care for an egg. I misunderstood him at first so he did the impression of a chicken. Then understood him.
I dipped my left over cheese and ham sandwich into the boiled egg which was surprisingly great.
The living room features a gas fire, flat screen cable television, DVD, Stereo, Wifi, Mini kitchen with a secretion of beverages.
The originally 1900's tiled bathroom was my favourite thing, with the tub and the huge double sink.
The main bedroom features a double bed theres also a quest room with two single beds down the hallway.
Thanks for having us Martin!
I've always been intrigued by Bath, it's beauty and character are well known especially in the other Somerset regions such as where I grew up ( Weston-Super-Mare). I visited as a child but always wanted to see it as an adult and appreciate it's allure in full.
The hotel was beautiful, with a range of services on offer from ordering magazines and papers to shoe shining. The room also dazzled, Spacious and modern without being too modern and detracting from it's dated exterior. Queensberry is a beautiful reminder in a dazzling city that a hotel isn't just a place to sleep in its a place to escape to and truly relax.
Sally Lunns- known for the buns which truly are delightful, soft and light in both texture and taste. a highlight for me had to be the prawn cocktail, fresh zesty with the red onions giving the kick. The buns were the main factor here but the food just didn't have that vitality needed, it felt like a pub lunch or some grub you get from an aunt kindly offering Sunday leftovers. 2/5
Abbey hotel restaurant- it's nice to dine sometimes where you're not staying for the experience away from the main experience, especially as some hotel bars and restaurants are gems in their own right., The restaurant was relaxed and calm with domed doors and large walls with art sitting on them. The music was mellow and soothing.I enjoyed the starter of pressed chicken terrine served with leek potato and mustard salad, the mustard remained on the right side and helped balance the dish. I also enjoyed the refreshing Baked Apple cocktail light and fruity apple juice with a slight zest owing to the lime. Light, slight yet delightful dishes that after three courses will have you largely satisfied. 3/5
The Mint Room (pictured)
Tucked away but judging by how busy it was it's clearly not a secret. My favourite dish had to be the Curry Rabbit. The Rabbit was delicious, tender and greatly flavoured, spicy yet delicately spiced with a slow build up it had to be one of my favourite curried dishes to date.Using meat and fish not too traditional with Indian food such as the flavoursome rabbit and the smoky sword fish and by doing so uniquely crafting dishes that exceed expectations and make mint room a must visit
A few of the favourite Things to do
Roman baths- starting off in the most significant in terms if Bath's ancient history, strolling round the Roman baths and hearing via the in ear audio guide Bath's history and rich heritage
Tour bus- actually quite cute to relax and see and hear the history of this historic city full of fun details and facts that drops you off at most of the destination points from The Royal Crescent to The Jane Austen Centre
Jane Austen centre- Fun for all ages interesting to hear About one of Britons most loved authors, her life and connection to Bath
Fashion museum- The building itself is grand it features beautiful designs from the likes of Ossie Clark to Versace, I arrived just before the change over of the new dress of the year but was excited to see Raf Simons piece for Dior and truly understand his vision with the deconstructed and highly modern ball gown
It's always fun to escape London to smaller parts of England that have managed to thrive and create their own identity. Bath manages to mix history and heritage but not be trapped in it and become a relic. It's a beautiful place with quite a lot going on yet not too much going on. Bath allows for the distance and space that a trip away should give and has enough to do and see to not allow boredom to set in.
We travelled on National Express with fares starting at just £5
Miami Beach, FL
Just a few days before Miami's WMC (Winter music conference) i took a trip away from New york to warm and sunny Florida.
I spent 3 nights at a friends in Palm beach, drove to Fort Lauderdale and stayed with a friend there for two nights, then went onto Miami's south beach for two nights where i stayed at the newly opened Gaythering Hotel.
The hotel had a futuristic, industrial, parisian vibe to it. Red shower curtains, cool lighting fixtures, plus artwork by the owner.
A good all round view...
Lots of art/fashion magazines. This is the living area where quests can watch tv and relax. Sharon Needles came on the night i stayed to host Ru Pauls drag race.
However the self spa was my favourite bit, it features a jacuzzi with massage jets, dry cedar sauna, Aroma Hamam mud lounge and a steam room.
Thanks for having us!
the beach, the warmth, the easy transport that's cheap and cheerful with ten rides on train or tram hitting the ten euro mark.
My favorite shop overall was a charity/ thift store called Humana that had a cute selection of garments from old school Adidas and Nike sweaters to throw back 80's patterned jackets. Surprisingly there was a large range of clothes for men from sportswear to Lyle & Scott, Fred Perry & Lacoste, they were in mostly small to medium sizes. It was refreshing to see a charity store that was aware of it's second hand/vintage status yet didn't reflect that in the price. Many of the clothes were €4 with tailored and leather jackets also on hand for around €15.
There was a few places around us from the ever present McDonald's if you're into food that you know. For me it was more about quality eats nice places and low prices, There was a few shops to be cautious of serving bland and tasteless food, they even went so far to cook a Ristorante pizza and serve it doing nothing but taking it out of the box and placing it in the oven. There was also good experiences with variety of restaurants serving Spanish cuisine to Chinese and Thai and even a Wok to Walk. I highly enjoyed Macchina Pasta bar, that stayed open till late, it allowed you to choose the pasta of your choice and then add toppings and sauce, prices were cheap and cheerful and you could watch as it was made. I also enjoyed some of the many bakeries that even had the NYC started 2013 craze the Cronut.
Things to do
The Aquarium is a nice escape for a few hours and next to the beach front, so you can go for a stroll before or after and soak up the sun. I also found trawling the La Boqueria food market. The market stocks a wide range of food from meats to fresh fruit, sweets and smoothies. I found it fun trying the fresh fruits and vegetables and conversing with the stall keepers.
We traveled with Easy Jet, which was a first for me, fast, cheap and reliable it won't be the last. Its great to have budget airlines that don't feel to budget and that's where Easy Jet excels.This is my second time in Barcelona, I've always found that it's a city but a calm one. There's not much to sight see in truth beyond Gaudi's buildings and park but that's not what I expect from Barcelona. With cheap drinks and a slower and more relaxed pace, I escape to the city to party at night usually at Arena, the poly sexual club with the latest pop and r&b music with sprinkling of Spanish hits. It's cheap and cheerful and always brings in a Jolly crowd. and relax in the day on the beach by soaking up the sun.
Far Rockaway 2014
On a strangely warm sunny weekend in late February i'm in a pair of Doctor Marten chelsea boots, some denim jeans and a faded blue hoodie walking along the snowy beach. We just spent a purifying weekend at the Playland Motel.
I first discovered Playland in the middle of summer when they threw one of their famous summer garden bashes. The atmosphere was great, people were playing bowls, table tennis, laying in deck chairs and doing karaoke.
Each room, designed by a different artist takes you to a different realm when you close your eyes and wakeup in the morning. The first night we stayed in "My Bloody Dreams" by Nadia Kaufhold which included a hammock and red paint leaking down the walls like blood. The second night we went for something a little more calm. The simplicity room designed by Federico Saenz-Recio which by night you could only hear the ocean and the traffic light swinging gently in the breeze.
Below: Cactus room designed by Federico Saenz-Recio
Below: Room designed by British designer Simon Spurr which exlores the relationship of light moving within a fixed space.
Below: Robbie and Apples designed by WaveWam
Shasta and Robyn. Thanks for having us!
We traveled on ID bus, the coaches were clean, smell and look new and were spacious enough to chill out and sleep with reclining chairs, curtains, night lights, air con and two very important factors that some of the rivals are missing, plugs & wifi, allowing for you to remain connected and entertained. Prices start at just £35 and I have to say I haven't traveled so easily on a coach ever and comfort is an important factor when you're spending 8-9 hours on board. ID bus is a much recommended service and source of Transport.
Entertainment & Activities
Strolling across the Siene after a terrific display of talent from a troupe that played with fire and glass balls, watched from the steps outside Nortre Dame and looking onto the fabled church. Afterwards we met several interesting characters socializing and watching as see through moth like creatures danced to the lights illuminating the river bank and then it was on to Rue des arquebusiers to the opening of several small galleries show's. A personal favorite was the Walter Pffiefer exhibit at Sultana gallery.
We also went to the Lourve taking advantage of the free entry for EU members under 26 and seeing the majority of the painted collections with the Lourve being so big it's worth multiple trips to not exhaust yourself and take in the art and surroundings slowly and surely.
La Java was interesting to say the least a little too packed yet fun could be had and there was a performance from a band and enough room to dance, drink and get merry and on the Second night we went to a little bar called Mimi's which was great for a catch up with friends with a very chilled laid back vibe.
It seems on every visit to the city I feel there's more to see and do and that I'm yet to truly experience the Parisian experience yet on this trip I saw more and felt more then I did on my last. Paris is a great city for culture and art with beautiful architecture, spacious streets and loads of underground art and music activities to go see and do. Both hotel and travel were more comfortable and experiences I would gladly do again
We stayed at the 'perfect hotel' in Anvel on the Rue Rodier not too far from the centre but still able to escape the hustle and bustle €28 per person per night for a triple room with shared showers or the option to have an ensuite for two euro's more was also on the cards, Anvel is full of hotels as is Paris on a whole but its advised to book in advance as finding a vacancy was quite hard visting no less than 15 before we finally came across a free space. Perfect Hotel was a relaxed and calm with the option for breakfast included for the price I cannot complain or find fault, the staff were helpful and must say I had an enjoyable stay and would gladly return.
The city is fairly easy to get around once you've got a grasp of the metro and travel comes in relatively cheap with a single on tube at just 1.70, bus is a great way to see the sights as is the zipper carts which we got from Palai de grande an overwhelming sight in itself and a grand introduction to the city beauty is never far from the eye from buildings to the Effiel tower. Ques seemed to snake for miles so we opted out on going in & up leaving it to another visit although we did get to witness its splendour and grandeur with the sheer size of it reminding of how small you're.
The city it seems is best at night with an interesting night Life we partied at The Social club one night (electro music and a mixed crowd of all sorts) we danced to electro beats to the early hours and then flagged down a cab to take us home (minimum spend or so we was told was €6.80 no matter how short the ride ). On the second night we drank at a cute little bar Acte 3 on Rue Qincampoix , Acte is neatly tucked away with no sign on the door, more of those who know just know where it is. Serving a range of cocktails and mixtures Acte is a nice place to escape to for quiet & cosy drinks. The beauty of Paris seems most evident at night with the dazzling and I mean literally dazzling & shimmering Eiffel tower a pretty sight as it is also sends out & beams of light across the Parisian sky.
The louvre's Egyptian collection puts the British museum to shame although in one room it may seem you're looking at bricks and get tiresome the other rooms extensive collection of artefacts from scrolls, jewellery, clothing, busts etc make up for it. There's a lot to take in and it feels as though you've visited Northern Africa after leaving the glass pyramids and reflecting on the greatness seen of a civilisation that always ceases to amaze. Not to overshadow the main attraction here which of course is the Mona Lisa surprised at first by its size its an attraction and something to see and do. Not too far from Anvel was The Sacre-coeur a multi domed and arched church that's dazzling to look at, to get to the church involves climbing many steps yet once at the top you can see a flat plan view of the capital and there's distractions on the way such as an entertainer covering a spectrum of songs from Take That to Bob Marley. Drink and food stalls clutter the courtyard from alcohol to pop inside is a feat stained glass windows and extensive art work
Paris is a great city to escape to at an affordable price the eight hour journey isn't too bad as isn't the £58 price and with so much heritage and history allowing for so much to do experience, see and take in.. Although one of Europe's most expensive cities a good time can be had especially for under 25's on a budget, seeing and doing as many visitors to the city do. Overall an enjoyable experience with an endless list of things to do and others left for a revisit