Category Archives: Hotels

In Review: Staying Cool Apartments, Birmingham

staying cool birmingham
When looking for somewhere to stay the night before I ventured off to The Gadget Show, I kept clicking back on the the tab that housed the website of Staying Cool Apartments in Birmingham. Though it wasn’t the closest option suggested for proximity to the NEC (about 15 minutes by train), it’s location was nothing to be snubbed; in The Rotunda, it is practically piggybacking the Bullring. That, on top of five star reviews? You better believe it was booked post haste.

Sincerely, I could not have had a better experience.

Zipping towards the top of the cylindrical building, I felt myself smiling as soon as I entered the room. Though the space is ‘just’ a studio, the interiors are bright, light, trendy, and all illuminated by floor to ceiling windows that give you an exceptional bird’s eye view of the city.

While a lot of hotel rooms feel like someone else’s space, Staying Cool is kitted out with everything you would possibly need in your own home. For long-stays? Gargantuan and paraben-free beauty supplies, a washing machine, Monopoly, Scrabble, a pack of cards, coffee table books, and more. I particularly enjoyed the fact that I was provided fresh oranges for the juicer as well as a pack of Urban Coffee Company house blend for the cafetiere.

Before venturing out to explore the city for a few hours, I unpacked my things, cracked the windows, and checked my vibrating phone to find a text from the front desk wishing me a pleasant stay and any help if I needed it. Such sensational customer service – especially when followed by a tweet – is just one of the factors that separate Staying Cool from the rest of the pack.

As two of my best friends travelled up from London to spend the evening (and utilize the oven and wine glasses) with me, we were all as enamoured as each others. The views. The location. The bed (!!). The service.

I am quite literally in a hurry to return (maybe to their apartments in Barcelona next time, eh?).

staying cool birmingham
staying cool birmingham 16
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In Review: Scarfes Bar, London

scarfes bar london
Last Friday – after a very busy morning in the rain – The Manfriend and I ran up to High Holborn from Somerset House, through tropical waves of droplets, and darted into Scarfes Bar at Rosewood London as fast as our shoes would allow.

With its own revolving entrance preceding the hotel’s Edwardian courtyard, entering Scarfes is not dissimilar to leaving London. The space is indisputably slick with a tactful living room appeal: a roaring fire, sumptuous velvet chairs and books lining every inch of available wall space. Inspired by evangelist artist Gerald Scarfe – his pieces are featured throughout the bar – everything comes together as a distinctive living canvas.

Deciding to run with a literary homage, the bar have even presented their lunch menu inside an antique leather book jacket. And what a menu it was.

To start, we couldn’t ignore the multitude of cocktails floating from the mahogany bar. In addition to a starter of tandoori prawns (with cardamom and burrani raita) and an exquisitely simple salad of marinated Cèpes, chorizo, and tomato confit, we submitted ourselves to the drinks menu. For me, the Seine River Fizz (Grey Goose vodka, Domaine de Canton ginger, lime juice, basil leaves, Fentimans Victorian lemonade, topped with bespoke elderflower foam) and a Bubble & Shrubs (Sipsmith gin, St. Germain elderflower, home-made berry shrubs, dashes of Orange Bitters, and a splash of bubbles) for the gentleman. Both heart-breakingly delectable.

For our mains, we initially went for the same dish (the ‘Bhapa Bagda’ Bengali Whole Lobster), but decided to split it and order an accompanying casserole – with Venison, root vegetables, and veal jus – to share, as well. The lobster, as expected, was a slice of coconut and mustard-spiced heaven. The casserole (our ‘token second’), as unexpected, impressed us all the same. Served in a Staub tin alongside country bread, the meat was incredibly tender and flavourful without an ounce of stodge.

At first offer, we were positive we would abstain from dessert in favour of cocktails, but were quickly coerced into a Pear & Ginger crumble with spiced anglais and a pot of Winter Rumtopf with rum & raisin ice cream. While I would have happily finished my meal with a Hat’s Off (Jaral de Berrio Mezcal, Aperol, lemon juice, grapefruit juice, agave nectar) alone…

…I just can’t do preserved fruits…

…The Manfriend’s serving-size-for-two Pear & Ginger crumble was an excellent goodbye to both bar and waistband.

This bar is destined for The Lists: Top 50 Bars In The World, 5 Bars You Can’t Miss in London, Best Art Bar in Europe…the superlative potential is endless. My vote? Best Place in London To Spend Your Afternoon. And money.

Thankfully, without regret.

scarfes bar london
scarfes bar london
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Review: Afternoon Tea at The Halkin with JING

the halkin afternoon tea
Thanks to Ametsa’s newly Michelin-starred credentials, its parent hotel – The Halkin – has been getting a lot of attention this month.

It’s time for a bit more.

Presenting…Afternoon Tea in The Halkin Bar! The Halkin’s latest tea menu is all that a classic tea should be, is peppered with delicious flourishes, and served alongside a selection of palate-dazzling JING teas (go for the jasmine pearl).

Sandwiches are large and in charge (read: if you’re taking a dude, he’ll be more than pleased); King prawns with watercress and cocktail dressing, cornfed Chicken breast with tumeric and spring onion, baby Cucumber with cream cheese and chives, and – the hero – Scottish smoked salmon with caviar and spicy peppers.

When time came to head into sweeter territory, sigh, the scones were a slight disappointment. Though the scones themselves were served slightly stale, the quick breads were saved when paired with small pots of honey-infused strawberry jam and clotted cream topped with pansy petals.

The tiered treats, however, were as dressed to impress as the photos suggest. We’ve got an almond and cocoa sponge cake (aka opera cake) soaked in coffee and chocolate mousse, a lemon meringue tartlet, a pistachio brownie with white chocolate and madagascan vanilla cream, then – GASP – a passionfruit macaron filled with gossamer-light meringue and fresh raspberries. Though bites of each allowed me no room for the final beaker of mango, strawberry and mascarpone brew, I could have been convinced to shove it in my purse for later. Maybe I did.

The Halkin Afternoon Tea is priced at £28 per person, £38 with a glass of Champagne (Louis Roederer Brut Premier), and is available from 3-5pm daily.

the halkin afternoon tea
the halkin afternoon tea
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Review: Bulgari Hotel Brunch (+ Movie Screening!)

bulgari hotel brunch
While I have oohed and ahhed over the magic that is the Bulgari Hotel before, each visit to their Hotel & Residences seems to cast a honeymoon phase love spell on me.

Over London Fashion Week, I took a lunchtime break to experience ‘La Dolce Domenica‘ – Bulgari’s indulgent Sunday brunch experience – for some stylish weekend solace. Nestled in the chicer-than-chic Il Bar lounge area, the spread itself features fresh fruits, smoothies and juices, artisan breads and pastries, Italian cheeses and hams, decadent desserts, and a ‘hot food’ menu (order the eggs!) to order your brunchtime favourites from.

Though it costs an occasion-worthy £58 per person, the addition of a cocktail and private 3pm film screening in their state-of-the-art cinema (popcorned and all) makes it fabulous value for money.

For reservations, call + 44 (0)20 7151 1025.

bulgari hotel brunch
bulgari hotel brunch
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LFW Cocktails at The Met

met bar lfw
Like every good fashion journalist, I spent last night preparing for London Fashion Week by ordering multiple cocktails at The Metropolitan’s infamous Met Bar.

Over London Fashion Week, Kate Moss’ old haunt will be offering five limited edition cocktails inspired and co-created with some of the hautest designers of the moment.

Varying between £12-14.50, these cocktails are a ride and a half. From concept to consumption, each drink is a work of art.

The Cinnamon Spice & All Things Nice (inspired by Matthew Williamson) kicked things off with orange rum, caramelised citrus fruits, cinnamon and passion fruit, mirroring the designer’s frequent Caribbean and Indian influences.

The Velvet Underground, inspired by Tom Ford and his signature colour palette, is a blend of Tanqueray with blueberries, raspberries, sugar and lime juice. The taste antithesis of Burberry-inspired ‘The Bailey’; creamy hazelnut liquor with butterscotch and vodka.

Personal favourites were, of course, champagne based; The Rebel Without A Cause – a delicious concoction of Hendrick’s, Chambord, Rose champagne, lemonade, rosebud ice cubes and Vivienne Westwood femininity – and The Quintessential Rock Star – Paul Smith‘s signature stripes replicated in a flute of Blue Curaçao, passion fruit syrup and champagne.

If you’re lucky enough to have a show invitation on hand, you will even receive a 20% discount. Time you get your drink on, fashionistas.

met bar lfw
met bar lfw
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