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London, Restaurants, Reviews, UK

AFTERNOON TEA ON THE THAMES: OXO TOWER, LONDON

October 1, 2016

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After a morning of meetings and an endless amount of walking an afternoon of relaxation (and over eating) at OXO Tower Restaurant to experience their Afternoon Tea was just what I needed. Me and my friend arrived around 15 minutes before we were due to be seated and whilst we waited we were invited onto the terrace to enjoy the views of the city from over the River Thames.

The restaurant itself features floor to ceiling windows that flood in natural light from their stunning terrace area. If it wasn’t raining on the day I came for my visit I would have definitely sat outside so I could admire the city skyline. However, the indoor area was just as lovely! The decor is modern and minimal with a white and royal blue colour scheme.

There is an array of specialty teas to choose from, all of which are refillable and you can try as many as you like throughout your afternoon – this applies also to the food that is served. Once we decided on drinks the waiter brought over the first round of indulgent treats. The first level consisted of finger sandwiches filled with carefully selected ingredients. The second level presented a selection of “bites” such as mini Yorkshire puddings and OXO Tower’s scotch eggs with an interesting twist. The waiter on hand described each individual sandwich and snack in great detail, highlighting the different flavours and elements.

The next serving stand offered the traditional scones with clotted cream and jams, as well as a selection of rich desserts and cakes. The scones which were dusted in caster sugar were warm when served – a small detail I think really makes an Afternoon Tea all the more satisfying.

Overall, I really enjoyed my afternoon at OXO Tower. The service was smooth and faultless, the food was incredible and the venue is simply beautiful. The attention to detail with regard to how the food is prepared, put together and presented is extremely impressive. Every single ingredient that they use in the sandwiches, condiments and desserts is well thought out by the chefs making this Afternoon Tea stand out from the crowd.

So if you are looking for an experience that offers impeccable quality food as well as an awe-inspiring venue to enjoy it all at then I recommend booking in at OXO Tower Restaurant. For more information or reservations please head to their website below:

www.harveynichols.com/restaurant/the-oxo-tower

Bars, London, Reviews, UK

AN EVENING OF MAGIC: ARTESIAN, LONDON

September 6, 2016

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If you’re looking for an unforgettable evening of pure indulgence where you can enjoy the finest cocktails in the world (literally), then Artesian is the place come to. Located within The Langham off of Regent Street, Artesian is a cocktail bar that oozes class and sophistication attracting a casual, yet up-market crowd that enjoy the exclusivity that it offers. Winner of “The World’s Best Bar” for four years running it didn’t take long for me to realise why this particular bar, out of all of the bars in the world, really was “the best.”

Me and guest ordered a cocktail each upon arrival – our choices guided by the head barman who also bought us over two lovely little samples of their “You’re So Gangsta” cocktails for us to try. Whilst we waited for our drinks to be expertly created the waiter bought over bar snacks for us to enjoy – one pot of cashew nuts and another pot of lightly salted potato chips.

We were more than impressed with our first drinks! I had a gin based cocktail called “Chameleon Crystals” and my guest ordered a classic Espresso Martini. My cocktail was served in a wooden box, I was told to make a wish and then the wonderful barman opened up the box to reveal my drink. Thick white smoke came billowing out and it smelt amazing. Highly recommend you try this one!

Next up we ordered the “Anti-Hero” and “Suspended In Time”. One came served in a giant lego elephant (yes, I know how that may sound), and the other came served with an eye-catching blue ring attached to a white net which wrapped itself around the rounded glass. Placing on the ring on my guest’s finger the glass was dropped and the whole idea behind the name of the cocktail became clear!

The creativity of the cocktails at Artesian are simply genius – its like a magic trick every time they bring your cocktails over. The bar’s cocktail list and concept changes every so often to offer it’s guests new and even more exciting drinks – they already have a fantastic collection of cocktails, so I’m sure the bar men have their hands (and minds) full trying to come up with new ideas.

Overall, despite the bar’s impressive awards and prestigious location Artesian is actually a very fun and relaxed place to drink. The bar men are extremely humorous and the waiters & waitresses make you feel more than welcome – offering their recommendations with precise knowledge and politeness. If you want to impress someone or have an evening filled with surprises Artesian wins hands down. I will come here every time I am in London now just to see what’s new!

For more information or for reservations please visit their website below.

www.Artesian-Bar.co.uk

London, Restaurants, Reviews, UK

DINING IN STYLE: THE IVY MARKET GRILL, LONDON

August 2, 2016

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The Ivy Market Grill is located right in the center of the bustling area of Covent Garden. The Ivy collection restaurants are renowned all over London and at select places across the UK for their impeccable service and their quintessential British cuisine. I was invited to their all-day dining restaurant for dinner and I was more than impressed with The Ivy hospitality.

The interior of the restaurant is warm and welcoming. It’s decor is made up of dark wooden furnishings, brass fixtures and an impressive bar that takes center stage within the restaurant where you can watch the barmen whip-up some of The Ivy’s superb cocktails. At first it reminded me of an Irish pub, but as I was led to my table and took in my surroundings the elegance of the venue was apparent.

To start, me and my guest had a cocktail each followed by our starters of mozarella with asparagus and seared scallops. The cuisine on offer here is mostly classic British dishes such as Sheperd’s pie and fish & chips, but the menu does span over to some European dishes such as chicken Milanese. There is also a huge range of high quality seafood options which were highlighted by our waiter. However, the grill section of the menu is what really caught my attention – after all it is named the “Market Grill”.

For the mains we ordered fillet steak and salmon fish cake both with side portions of their amazing truffle chips – which we quickly realised we didn’t need after a few bites as we both got extremely full. We only really needed one portion of the chips, if that! The dishes were served to perfection and looked great – totally “Instagramable” so don’t dig in straightaway.

Then finally to finish, I had the Strawberry shortcake sundae and my friend had the classic chocolate dome – you know the one every restaurant has where they pour over the hot sauce… I’d highly recommend the strawberry sundae and my only regret is that I didn’t leave enough room to finish off this dessert, it tasted so good!

Overall, The Ivy Market Grill was a fantastic place to come for an indulgent three-course meal. The seductive interior, impeccable staff and wide-ranging menu are all worthy of the iconic Ivy name. I would most definitely be dining here again if I were in the area.

For more information or for reservations please head to their website below:

www.theivymarketgrill.com

London, Restaurants, Reviews, UK

A QUIRKY AFTERNOON TEA: sketch, LONDON

August 1, 2016

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On the second day of my London trip I headed over to the elite area of Mayfair where I was invited to experience one of the best Afternoon Tea’s in the city and in one of the most interesting venues I have ever seen.

sketch is located at 9 Conduit Street and the building has a long history associated with architecture, design and art. It was formerly the Royal Institute of British Architects and then later became the London Atelier of Christian Dior. There are a number of different rooms within sketch consisting of the Lecture Room & Library, the Parlour, the Glade, the East Bar, and the Gallery.

The very fashionably dressed staff seated me and my guest in the Gallery for our afternoon tea. The Gallery is a dimly lit, but playfully decorated room that looks almost like an up-market American diner. The walls are lined with interesting art work by David Shirgley (239 pieces to be exact) and everything around you is pink and velvet! At the top of the room there is a bar and the tables are presented beautifully. The tableware such as the tea cups, plates, sugar bowl and tea pot are all designed by the artist David Shirgley which all bare interesting little words – completely Instagrammable by the way!

A selection of finger sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jams were included in the afternoon tea which are all refillable. Then finally after all of this you have the little pastries which look far too good to eat. A wide choice of teas are also offered which again, you can have as much as you want. By the end of the afternoon me and my guest were extremely full. We couldn’t say anything bad about the service or the quality of the food – it was amazing! Even the toilets are amazing! You just simply have to go.

For more information or reservations please see sketch’s website below.

www.sketch.london

Hotels, London, Reviews, Travel, UK

AN URBAN ESCAPE: K WEST HOTEL & SPA, LONDON

July 31, 2016

Although I have lived in the UK all of my life I had never ever been to London – except on school trips when I was a child. So I was so excited to head down and see what all the fuss was about. I was invited to stay at K West Hotel & Spa for one night and this urban style hotel with an array of celebrity guests to its name was the perfect way to begin my three day trip.

The Hotel Concept

K West Hotel & Spa in 2014 was completely redesigned internally to reflect its musical ties with many rock ‘n’ roll superstars of the past such as David Bowie, The Kinks and also Bob Marley & the Wailers. Due to its proximity to music venues such as O2 Shepherds Bush Empire and the Apollo it continues to attract its celebrity guests – so make sure you keep your eye out when you stay here as you never know who you could bump into in the lobby or the lifts!

Also it is well worth mentioning that the hotel has an award winning spa located inside – it was awarded ‘Best Spa in London’ at the Good Spa Guide Awards 2015 and winner of a World Luxury Spa Award. There is a wide range of treatments available and the facilities include a hydrotherapy pool, sanarium, sauna, dry flotation tank, aromatic herbal steam room to name only a few!

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Location & Getting About 

The hotel is located in the west of London in a busy area called, Shepards Bush. It is within walking distance to notably popular areas such as Notting Hill, Portobello Road and Kensington. It is also right next to Westfield – one of Europe’s biggest shopping centres with over 240 shops! I arrived from St. Pancreas international train station and found it quite simple to jump straight on the tube from there all the way over to Shepards Bush. You will find the underground station which is closest to the hotel is via the Central line and from there it is a 3 minute walk to the hotel, which is so convenient when you have a heavy suitcase with you or if you want to go exploring the city.

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First Impressions

Upon arrival the door was opened for me and I was lead over to the check-in desk. The lobby area is a sleek white area that is connected to the bar which was full of hotel guests and business people holding meetings. There was definitely a vibrant atmosphere within the hotel and it seemed like there was so much going on. I was quickly checked-in and given a brief run through about the hotel’s facilities, asked if I needed help with my luggage and pointed in the direction of the lifts. The staff on reception were extremely helpful – I was expecting a delivery that afternoon and I also needed to change the time of my dinner reservation in which both tasks that were dealt with efficiently so I didn’t have to worry at all!

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The Executive Room

The room I was booked into was extremely spacious with a lounge area, work desk, huge king sized bed, coffee and tea making section and a small bathroom. The decor was a mixture of dark blues, purples and greys creating a modern, luxurious feel. I felt like I had my own office with the desk area which came complete with a hotel tablet that you could use to order room service, read about the facilities and various other helpful things.

In the lounge area there was artwork of the late David Bowie and a selection of magazines. I was also greeted by a bottle of ice cold champagne which was amazing! The room was well lit with natural light streaming in from the huge windows that spanned the length of the room and the bed was enormous. The bathroom was simple and clean, and the hotel also offers its guests “The White Company” toiletries that smell gorgeous. You don’t have to worry about calling reception for things such as hairdryers and ironing boards as the room comes fully equipped.

In the morning I was delivered my breakfast of scrambled eggs with salmon, a bowl of cereal and literally no end of pastries! Also included was a pot of tea, bottle of fruit juice and condiments. There was so much to eat! You could definitely feed two people with this breakfast – unless of course neither of you like pastries.

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The Restaurant 

As part of my stay I was invited to dine at the hotel’s restaurant – Studio Kitchen. The menu is inspired by New York style food such as burgers, mac’ n’ cheese but also available are European style dishes. The venue is ultra sleek – keeping up with the standards of the rest of the hotel decor, but  at the same time it is very casual. The restaurant is a place to come and relax if you’re on a business trip or have had a long day exploring the bustling city. Across the back of the restaurant is a long, wavy cushioned seating area with floating style lighting hanging from the ceiling creating a very artistic feel to the restaurant. Me and my guest enjoyed a wonderful three course meal with a bottle of red wine. I opted for the pork belly and my friend tried out the steak, and both were fantastic! I’d highly recommend the squid and bread board to start alongside a glass of wine.

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Final Thoughts

Overall, my stay at K West Hotel & Spa was an effortless retreat where I didn’t have to worry about anything at all. I had everything that I needed provided by the room and I felt like I was really looked after by the staff on hand. The modern, rock ‘n’ roll theme was refreshing and staying here makes you feel like you aren’t missing out on anything as there is such a “buzz” all around the hotel. It’s great for both business and leisure, and if it’s good enough for all the musicians it’s good enough for me. For more information or to make a reservation please head to their website.

www.k-west.co.uk