A Stay at the Dorchester in London

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 Classic luxury is the vibe at the Dorchester

On my recent trip to London, my husband and I decided to go the classic luxury route and booked a stay at The Dorchester when we found a “pay for two nights, stay for three” deal in the Offers section of their website.  I’m a fan of the brand and am particularly fond of The Hotel Eden in Rome and had a great experience at their sister London property 45 Park Lane.

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Flowers in the lobby

The Dorchester oozes serious classic luxury. From the oversized floral arrangements in the lobby to the butler delivering a spot of tea from room service, this hotel has all old school London trademarks, without being boring or stuffy. The service is top notch, and friendly. The doorman even entertained me with stories from when he lived in L.A. for a few years during the 80s.

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The living area of room 810

We were upgraded to Park Suite and to say the room was large is an understatement. The living area was huge, with a dining table that worked as a desk for two, and a large seating area with overstuffed couches and chairs. It was clear the room could be joined to the adjacent room, so the suite was suitable for families, or executives traveling with assistants that want both proximity and privacy.

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The fire exit map at the Dorchester

The fire exit route map on the door was unlike one I’ve ever seen before. It lacked room distinctions, because the property can combine rooms various ways to accommodate guests, whatever their clients needs may be.

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Left: This Asian cabinet housed the minibar Right: a bold mix of patterns

The bedroom was also generously sized. Suite 810 was also blissfully quiet, thanks to double-paned windows. The dreamy bed was easy to sink into and hard to get out of since it was so comfortable. Maybe that’s why I never made it to the hotel’s gym during my stay?

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Succulent centerpiece on the table of Suite 810

The Suite overlooked Hyde Park and had an enormous dining and living area that closed off entirely from the hallway leading to the bedroom. There was a powder room off the hall next to the living room, so the master bathroom still had privacy.

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Oversized comfy couches in the living area of a Park Suite at the Dorchester

The Dorchester knows that it’s the little things that make a hotel feel like your home away from home. From the Champagne welcome amenity to the delicious shortbread biscuits in the minibar, I never wanted for much during my stay.

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Orchids in the London morning light

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The gleaming marble master bathroom

The master bathroom had loads of marble, dual sinks, great light for getting ready and a fabulously deep soaking tub.

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A peek inside the minibar- filled with with British classics

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Fresh roses in the suite area

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The gorgeous fruit basket (and Champagne) were the welcome amenity

My husband and I found our favorite feature of the hotel was the sleek and contemporary Bar at the Dorchester. The space was cool and felt casual and sexy, and had a large list of classic cocktails.

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The Bar is a great spot for variety of cocktails, including an inspired Gin & Tonic

I went for an unusual gin & tonic suggested by my waitress. The Bar also had a nice menu and the succulent olives were some of the best I’ve had outside of Italy. The bread pudding was a standout.

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The bread pudding served in the Bar at the Dorchester

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Royal Salute on display at the Bar at the Dorchester

High end whisky, including Royal Salute Scotch, makes it feel like a lot of very big business deals get done (or at least celebrated) in this bar.

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Left: Salmon at lunch at the The Grill Right: A spot of tea from Room Service for breakfast

The Dorchester has newly renovated The Grill restaurant and it’s gorgeous. Filled with Murano glass chandeliers and fine cuisine, it was a joy to just sit in the room during lunch and breakfast. I did not try the hotel’s more formal three star Michelin Alain Ducasse restaurant or China Tang.

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Champagne in the gorgeously renovated Grill

If you’re interested in a prime Mayfair location and classic luxury, the Dorchester is a classic for a reason. If you can’t stay overnight, come check out the flower-filled promenade for high tea or have a drink at the Bar.

My husband feels more comfortable at the more sleek and contemporary 45 Park Lane next door, which is closer to our own personal aesthetic, but he very much enjoyed a few days at this London Classic.

The Dorchester
Park Lane, Mayfair
London, W1K 1QA

Suites and Rooms Reservations: +44 (0) 20 7317 6530
Fax  +44 (0) 20 7629 8080

Rates from $650.38

Where To Go For Sunday Roast in London: The Ship

 

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Pork Roast for Sunday at The Ship

I was recently in London and made plans to get together with expat friends on a Sunday. They suggested we meet at The Ship in Wandsworth for Sunday Roast. My friends are foodies and we’ve never shared a bad meal. I’m always game to try something new, and I was excited to head to a new area of Southwest London I had not yet explored.

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Yorkshire Pudding on top of the pork roast

Sunday Roast wasn’t a tradition I was familiar with, but it sounded fun and tasty. I learned that going out to a pub for Sunday Roast is a thing for Brits. It’s like brunch is to Americans, only with more meat and beer instead of mimosas. The Ship had a few different roasts to choose from– chicken, pork and beef.

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The Ship is also known for their excellent Scotch Eggs

We started the meal with a few Scotch Eggs ((£4.25), which are a pub favorite of mine and they were delicious. When our roasts showed up, we were all surprised by the amount of food. Portions are more than generous. Sunday roast is served with the traditional trimmings- mashed potatoes, vegetables, and topped with traditional Yorkshire pudding. I had the pork roast and my husband went for the beef. We swapped halfway through and gave our thumbs up to both versions.

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We split sticky toffee pudding for dessert

Our friend insisted we finish the meal with sticky toffee pudding. It was drenched in toffee sauce which had a lovely caramelized burn and was served with prune ice cream. One order was enough for all four of us to share.

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The bar at The Ship 

The Ship has a great location along the Thames in an area of London I have never explored before. There is a lovely riverside patio that I’d like to visit again when the weather is warmer.

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The exterior of The Ship Wandsworth

Pork and chicken roasts cost £14.50, beef roast £16.00. The Sunday Roast experience at The Ship in Wandsworth was a great introduction to the tradition. The generous portions, atmosphere, and overall goodness of the meal was also a good value for money.

The Ship
41 Jews Row, Wandsworth
London. SW18 1TB
T: 020 8870 9667
E: ship@youngs.co.uk

A Stay at The Prince Hotel St. Kilda, Melbourne

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The sunny reception area at the Prince

I first stayed at The Prince Hotel on a trip to Melbourne over a decade ago. I immediately fell in love both the Aussie chic boutique property and the St. Kilda neighborhood.

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The living room of the Prince Premier Suite

But boutique hotels age in dog years– and a lot can change (or needs to change) over the years. While I still adore the property, and particularly the it’s pleasant staff, the hotel is really in need of a makeover. Design details which seemed so innovative when the hotel opened now feel stale.

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The bedroom area of the Prince’s Premier Suite

My room- the Prince Premier Suite- was well maintained and still had a great bathroom with a fabulous free-standing tub and gorgeous light. The balcony off the bathroom felt a tad neglected and in need of some “freshening up.” The carpet in the hallways is visibly showing the wear and tear. The bright pink chair in the hallway, which once seemed like a bright and bold choice, made me think, “Wow. You’re still here.”

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Left: The large soaking tub and Right: natural light fills the contemporary bathroom

The light-filled bathroom with it’s huge soaking tub was my favorite feature of my suite at the Prince. It’s definitely stood the test of time and provides enough space and light for a couple to share, although the sink and shower area are a bit cramped in comparison.

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REN amenities in the bathroom

One of the hotel’s best features is it’s Aurora Spa, which I did not have a chance to visit this trip. The Prince also has a great dining option, Circa. The public spaces are beautifully maintained and breakfast was delicious and included in my room rate.

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The breakfast room at The Prince

One of the hotel’s prime features is it’s location, just above St. Kilda’s gay friendly Prince of Wales Public Bar (this means both Kylie and Danni Minogue are in heavy rotation when the jukebox is working). The Prince of Wales also has a Bandroom which is staple of Melbourne’s music scene featuring both local acts and international ones– Michael Franti and Spearhead played here earlier this month.

I still love the Prince and recommend it for those who want a pleasant place to stay in the area. But boutique hotel connoisseurs won’t find anything edgy or innovative here.

The Prince

2 Acland Street, St Kilda
Melbourne, Australia
thedesk@theprince.com.au
+61 (0) 3 9536 1111

Rates start at $133 USD

Where to Eat in Melbourne, Australia: Cicciolina Restaurant and Back Bar, St. Kilda

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Cicciolina has a great lunch special: Pasta of the day + a glass of Wine for A$29.50

One of my favorite things about visiting St. Kilda is checking out the ever-changing restaurant scene. On my recent trip, I decided to try Cicciolina Restaurant and Back Bar. According to the restaurant’s own website, Cicciolina’s has been a “St. Kilda Institution since 1993.” Despite Cicciolina’s long running presence in the area, the restaurant was still new to me.

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Art filled walls and mid-century touches add to Cicciolina’s funky vibe

I liked the restaurant’s mid-century modern space and art-filled walls. I was a bit surprised that an Italian restaurant had limited pasta options, but it all worked out in the end. The Special Pasta of the Day, featured ribbons of pasta topped with tomato sauce, basil topped with a light dollop of mascarpone cheese and garnished with shaved almonds, was rather delightful. My husband and I swapped pastas halfway through the meal.

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Tubetti all’Amatriciana – guanciale, bacon, tomato and oregano ragu (A$29.50 )

Non-pasta eaters will appreciate the fresh seafood options marked up on the chalk board like wild barramundi filet and kingfish carpaccio. The standout deal was the Monday to Friday Pasta + Wine Special for  A$29.50, which is available from 12-6pm. My husband got that I helped myself to his Little Angel Sauvignon Blanc 2013. It made for a delightful lunch.

The Cicciolina menu also had gluten free dishes available, including some gluten free pastas, and an extensive wine list. My biggest complaint about Cicciolina is that the bathroom is extremely difficult to find, even after getting instructions.

Cicciolina

130 Acland Street
St Kilda, Victoria3182

Australia

T: 03 9525 3333
F: 03 9525 3397

E: cicciolina@netspace.net.au

Clouds and Sky: A Global Photo Essay

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Clouds and sand in the Hoanib River Valley, Namibia

It’s April and spring is in the air. That often means rain and cloudy skies. As a photographer, I much prefer a little dramatic cloud action to bright blue skies. Here are some of my favorite recent images to show why clouds can be a good thing. Namibia has the best clouds I’ve ever met. They add drama and softness to the often beautifully desolate landscape.

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Cloud reflections on the River Derwent

I recently visited Tasmania for the first time. The landscape reminded me a bit of Scotland, only the Southern Hemisphere’s version.

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#shotoniPhone6 unset panorama of the River Derwent 

The island had some gorgeous wispy clouds. This made it fun photograph landscape on the River Derwent at sunset. I liked framing the scene both vertically and shooting in panorama mode on my iPhone 6.

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Dramatic sunrise in Sydney

Clouds make all the difference when photographing sunrise and sunset. They are nature’s own filter, changing the color and mood of the magic hour.  I liked the way their texture complemented Sydney Harbour when I took this shot of the Sydney Opera House at sunrise.

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Blue hour clouds over the Olympics in Seattle

Seattle has too many gray days for my taste. But when the cloud cover is just right it can make for some fantastic colors during blue hour after sunset. I thought the Olympics looked particularly stunning bathed in pastel light this week.

A Picture Per Day

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