Monthly Archives

April 2016

Bars, Reviews, Singapore, Travel

MY TOP PICKS: BEST BARS IN SINGAPORE

April 23, 2016

Enjoying a cocktail or two and getting all dressed up is one of my favorite things to do and I made it my mission to find out where in Singapore were the most amazing places to go. With just one night to fully enjoy the bar scene I managed to experience three of the best bars in the city. Each one had their own unique style and atmosphere with something different to offer.

Manhattan

This New-York style bar located within the Four Season’s Regent Singapore truly left me speechless. The bar currently holds position number 5 on Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2016 list and position 35 on the World’s 50 Best Bars 2015 list, and I can now see why.

The bar boasts a glamorous interior that is dimly lit making for a rather romantic and seductive atmosphere which is perfect for sipping on their world-class cocktails. The bar also has two very interesting features – an ingredients room and a rickhouse, the first ever in-hotel rickhouse might I add, and without getting too technical a rickhouse is a storage room of wooden barrels that are filled with spirits that are left over time to age and blend.

Me and my boyfriend were treated to several cocktails and bar snacks which were just incredible – go for a Spectrum Punch or a Mad Dog cocktail, you won’t be disappointed! The chef, Nicholas, personally delivered the food and just listening to him describe it was an experience in itself. The presentation and attention to detail of this bar is spectacular – they stamp their ice with their logo… I mean, I never even knew that was possible? I loved this bar and you have to go. It is a must!

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Southbridge

Another favourite venue of mine for evening drinks during my trip to Singapore was Southbridge. This intimate rooftop bar is located in the lively Boat Quay area overlooking the Singapore River and offers 360 views of the city’s unforgettable skyline. The bar prides itself on its oysters, which if you have never tried them then here is the perfect place to do so. They make for a good picture opportunity, served on a long platter resting on top of little stones and pebbles.

The cocktails are delicious, crafted by experienced bar staff and the best part is the drinks don’t cost the earth like most of the bars you may go to in this bustling metropolis. Another thing I loved it here at Southbridge was the atmosphere – laid-back and lively all at the same time which is the best combination. When we arrived at around 9pm the bar was thriving with a great crowd of people, mostly young professionals getting ready for a night out, and the buzz of the place was electric.

I would highly recommend that you plan a visit to Southbridge when you are in Singapore, it will not disappoint you that is for sure. It closes at midnight however, so get there early and watch the sunset!

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Flight at Sky On 57

This super sleek rooftop bar has the best view in Singapore hands down. Located right on top of the Marina Bay Sands hotel, on level 57, you will feel on top of the world taking in the glittering city below. The staff are really on top of their game here and feel like no matter what you order it will be delivered beyond your expectations.

Flight is a watering hole for those who want to feel like a VIP offering bottle service with a twist! So instead of your standard mixers like lemonade, coca cola, or orange they have a variety of exotic concoctions to compliment your choice of spirit and suggestions can be found on the menu to make sure you pick the best one.

What’s more, if you don’t finish your bottle that night they will save it for you for the next time you come or if you want to let your friends or family come and use it then that’s also an option too. The bar’s cocktail menu was extensive but will undergo a revamp pretty soon making it even better, the manager explained that the bar will focus more on executing traditional cocktail recipes in a way that enhances each element of the drink, stripping them back and adding in a modern flair.

Overall this was another venue you have to visit. The service is great and the cocktails are just beautiful (I recommend Flight’s version of the Singapore Sling) and finally you will never want to leave because of that view.

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Hotels, Reviews, Singapore, Travel

MY WEEKEND STAY AT HOTEL YAN: SINGAPORE

April 20, 2016

Spending the weekend in one of my absolute favourite destinations in the world – Singapore – whilst making my way back over to Bali for the last leg of my year-long Southeast Asia adventure has been one of the highlights of my trip. My time was spent wining and dining at roof top bars, shopping on the gorgeous Orchard Road, taking panoramic pictures of the city’s skyline and relaxing after a long day (or should I say, long night) in what felt like a home away from home.

Hotel YAN was everything I needed and more. Here is my review of the hotel:

The Hotel Concept

The director was kind enough to give me a run-down of the hotel’s concept. The word YAN is translated from the Chinese language and means Swallow, the bird. The exterior design of the hotel mimics that of a birds nest and you will see all around the premises the hotel’s logo which is the feather. The decor can be described as industrial-chic, reminiscent of the steel industry that used to dominate the area in which the hotel is located called, Kampong Glam.

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Location & Getting About

After landing at Changi airport me and my boyfriend managed to catch a shuttle bus to the hotel which was a really convenient and cheap alternative to jumping in a taxi. We paid 9 SGD each and reached our hotel within around 30 minutes (after dropping off two passengers before us). The hotel is located in the “hipster” area of Kampong Glam which is a 15 minute drive into the city centre or if you prefer public transport you will find, just around the corner, Lavender MRT station which connects you to Singapore’s version of the subway.  The area itself has a variety of boutique cafes, restaurants and a shopping centre. It is alive with culture being home to Singapore’s old Malay royalty and neighbour to Little India.

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First Impressions 

As soon as we stepped out of the taxi two of the hotel’s friendly porters were there to take our luggage which met us at our room. When we walked into the reception area the decor captivated me and I also have to mention that it smelled so good! In fact each floor of the hotel has its own unique smell selected personally by the director.  Check-in was speedy and the receptionist was very attentive – anticipating my needs before I even needed to ask for anything.

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Deluxe King Bedroom

The room was cozy and featured a king sized bed with bright white bed sheets. To contrast, the room also boasted dark wood furniture and an interesting wall piece that could be used to store your small belongings on and also hang up your clothes. Just behind the bed was a long desk where you found the kettle along with tea and coffee, and the mini bar which was in fact free – another small thoughtful gesture.

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20160417_160924The bathroom was connected to the room, interestingly, by floor to ceiling glass panels which were fully exposed to the bedroom. However, you could cover the bathroom unit over with a curtain if you wanted more privacy. All toiletries such as shampoo, body lotion and hand soap were all organic.

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Everything in the room is branded with the feather logo and this attention to detail was very impressive, even the towel labels embodied this small logo. Overall, the room is fully equipped to tend to all of your needs – free bottled water, fast wifi, international TV and comfy slippers.

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Final Thoughts

Overall, Hotel YAN was perfect for a weekend away in the cosmopolitan city of Singapore.

20160416_181312The hotel, being only 4 and half months old, was already accommodating plenty of guests and the success of this boutique establishment, in my opinion, will only continue to grow over time. The director informed me that the restaurant called Nido (which translates to “Nest” to follow the hotel’s theme) would be open in just a few weeks and would offer the only service that was truly missing on my stay – food and beverage.

I would definitely recommend this hotel to my friends and family and would without a doubt return on my next visit. It is a hidden gem within a city that has so much to offer.

For more information: www.Hotel-Yan.com

 

Bars, Hotels, Nha Trang, Vietnam

A DAY OF LUXURY: SHERATON NHA TRANG HOTEL & SPA

April 13, 2016

The Start Of The Day

I was invited to experience the outstanding hospitality of the Sheraton whilst I was in Nha Trang, Vietnam and it did not disappoint. As soon as me and my boyfriend arrived at around 8am the staff were ready to escort us to the lift and whiz us straight up to their 28th floor restaurant and bar called Altitude. As soon as you walk out of the lift we were greeted by incredible views of the city and the ocean, and of course the staff, who were making us feel so welcome.

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Rise & Shine Breakfast

We enjoyed the launch of their breakfast menu, Rise & Shine at their super-cool rooftop venue. The theme was white and blue and huge cushy sofas were spread out along the entire room facing out towards the floor to ceiling windows where you could enjoy a coffee whilst watching the city come alive for the day. The venue then opened out onto an outdoor terrace fitted with high, comfortable table and chairs shaded by big blue umbrellas. However, we chose to sit slightly inside as it was far too hot to brave the sunshine so early in the day.

Breakfast offered free-flow coffee and tea and the food menu offered several options including Vietnamese noodle soup, Banh Mi (which is a Vietnamese style baguette), fruit platter or pastry basket. They also extend their menu to wide selection of fresh fruit juices, smoothies and a number of different types of coffees. I recommend trying the Vietnamese coffee, it’s kind of like an espresso but tastes almost like chocolate!

The price for one person is set at 150,000VND (£4.70) or for two people it is 200,000VND (£6.30). The staff members were so attentive throughout our breakfast and the food was wonderful. All in all it was a phenomenal way to begin the day.

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The Pool

With access to the hotel pool, I then spent the rest of the morning at their luxurious fresh water infinity pool which was, again, set against the backdrop of the stunning views of the ocean. It was such a relaxing place to be and we didn’t want to leave at all. Here in this part of the hotel you will find a complete wellness complex that includes facilities such as a luxury spa, huge gym, steam room and sauna rooms, and also Jacuzzis. They even have a beauty salon and cooking school, so it’s safe to say that there is enough going on at the Sheraton to keep you busy should you stay there!

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Sunset At Altitude

Later that evening we then returned to enjoy the sunset at happy hour at the same venue that we enjoyed our breakfast, Altitude. We ordered Pina Coladas and Strawberry Daiquiris which were superb! Sometimes in Vietnam you order a cocktail and it can be completely undrinkable, however the cocktails at the Sheraton were delicious and really generous in size which is always a great sign. At happy hour, between 4pm-7pm you can order a cocktail, beer or cider and you’ll get one for free. They also provide you with a little snack of homemade potato chips on the side which is a really lovely touch, again it is these little things that really reflect the quality of the venue.

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Conclusion

Overall, my experience of the Sheraton Nha Trang was simply wonderful. The staff are a credit to the hotel and the facilities are excellent. The combination of the views, the quality of the food and drink, and the luxurious environment set out by the Sheraton made for an unforgettable day.

Koh Samui, Thailand, Travel

KOH SAMUI: TOP 5 THINGS TO DO

April 3, 2016

Finally managing to catch up with my blogging! And here are my top 5 things to do if you are planning a trip to Koh Samui in Thailand. This island has everything to offer from gorgeous beaches, nightlife, sight seeing and here I’ve listed my recommendations.

Beaches

Chaweng Beach is the main beach on the island. It is the place to be both day and night. With its endless bars and hotels lining its golden shore there’s no end of places to grab a cocktail or a beer and enjoy the island’s atmosphere. It’s not the best beach I’ve ever been to, but on a really sunny day the water is turquoise and crystal clear, you literally feel in paradise. It was one of my favourite ways to spend my weekends, if I wasn’t riding around the island exploring!

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Coral Cove Beach, this was my favourite beach after Chaweng. It is covered in huge boulders the size of buses and makes the most gorgeous back drop for those picture perfect holiday snaps – I actually did a mini-shoot here for a Thai-based swimwear brand which you can see here. The beach is very quiet and you feel like you are on your own private section. It’s a bit of a hidden gem on the island that no one really knows about, but very easily accessible from the main road, just look out for signs to Coral Cove Resort or Bungalows.

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Viewpoints

There are several “official” viewpoints you can go to on Koh Samui, but with the island being so hilly and mountainous anyway, all you really need to do is go driving into the hills yourself and get lost – you always come across some sort of view of the island and it is always stunning. However, the viewpoints I recommend the most are Lat Ko, towards Lamai, and Khao Hua Jook Pagoda Temple in Chaweng.

Lat Ko offered the most beautiful view of the island, in my opinion, and I also heard it’s supposed to be even more of a sight at sunrise (but I was never up that early). You will inevitably stumble across it if you are taking a trip to Lamai in the south of the island and the views you will see are of Chaweng. There’s lots of stairs that lead you down to the bottom where you will find a rocky section which is perfect for taking photos.

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Khao Hua Jook Pagoda Temple, although this was under renovation and slightly over-grown with trees when I went to view it, it still offered a gorgeous view of the island towards the north. The temple that is situated here as well is very pretty, so worth the visit for that also. It’s a little bit out of Chaweng, up towards a bar called Q Bar which can be seen from below in Chaweng, from the lake. It also looks out on to the airport so if you enjoy watching planes take off and land then this is the place for you!

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Fishermans Village

This area located in Bophut and makes a great change from the hustle and bustle of Chaweng when you want to get food or drinks. It is full of restaurants; most venues are right on the shore with sea views. It’s like a little town where you can literally do everything like, shopping, eating, drinking, relaxing so well worth a visit! It also has a good night market to wander around on Friday’s and Saturday’s – me and my boyfriend always used to grab whole pizza’s from this one stall for 100 baht each which were so good! In terms of dining at the restaurants here it is slightly more expensive than Chaweng, but they are a lot more luxurious.

One must go to place here is Coco Tams – the nicest bar venue on the island, I loved it there but it was extremely expensive (in Thailand terms) so keep that in mind if you are on a budget.

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Chaweng Night Market

This food market by Chaweng Lake was my favourite place to grab food after a day out. It is full of street style restaurants and stalls which sell everything from burgers, pizza’s, local cuisine and fresh seafood. It is also a great place to stop by for a cocktail or a beer as it is really reasonably priced in comparison to the proper bars located on the main road or the beach. The atmosphere is great and there is so much going on here and it is great for people watching. It makes a nice change from the usual dining experience!

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Sight Seeing

On Koh Samui there aren’t a large amount of sights to go and visit, but to be honest I’m not a massive “sightseer” myself, however I would definitely recommend going to see the Big Buddha Temple. Here in the north-eastern corner of the island you will find this beautiful golden Buddha statue that can been seen for miles. It is really something when you get up and close to it, especially the walk up to it in which the stairs is lined with a colourful dragon. The size of it is enormous and contrasted to the bright blue ocean and sky it really makes for a pleasant experience and is picture perfect holiday snapping material.

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Just 5 minutes down the road from the Big Buddha Temple you will also be able to go and see Wat Plai Laem Temple. Here you will find two huge, stunning carved statues and a ceremonial hall which lie on top of a lake. It is brightly coloured and the lake is full of gigantic fish which you can feed. This compound allows visitors to take a look into the Chinese-Thai beliefs as well as the Buddhist side. You will see here a white 18-armed figure of the Goddess of Mercy and Compassion, Guanyin and you will also see a white laughing Buddha.

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My tip when going to visit both of these sights is to dress appropriately but if you forget don’t despair as the Big Buddah Temple offers cover ups, however the other site does not. Both of these sites can be found on Google maps with great accuracy.

Overall, the island has so much to offer and it is really, really beautiful. I couldn’t recommend enough just exploring the ins and outs of Koh Samui yourself by renting a bike and just driving anywhere you feel like. You will always stumble across a stunning view or hidden gem of a beach! Just what travelling is all about.