• Switzerland
  • A guided travel of Lake Lucerne

    Zurich

    Lucerne

    I would say for a first trip to Switzerland, Luzerne is a great choice . Everything is conveniently located around lake and you could do a week of sight seeing concentrating on mainly the lake. Its less then a hour from Zurich and has great transport links. This is where your rural trip really begins. This pretty little town has a taste of everything from food, shopping (high and low end), architecture, and scenery. Most of the large hotels are located across the lake as soon as you exit the station. The thing i loved most about this town was its convenience. Its small do it can be done in a day. I just wondered by foot and got lost. The streets are almost reminiscent of dutch towns, and the lakes of the Italian also. I stayed at the Grand National hotel in Luzerne, a beautiful renaissance style architecture hotel with the same founder of the Ritz hotel group. With beautiful staircases and golden architecture with high ceilings, the hotel makes you feel like royalty.

    I stayed in the junior suite on the second floor, with panoramic views of the lake.

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    Balconies looking onto lake lucerne

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    The junior suite

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    Grand National staircase

    The hotel has a classy charm, and a peaceful presence after a adventurous day around lucerne town. each of the rooms are equipped with Baylis and harding cosmetics, Bose speakers,I pad for room service, complimentary waters, and swiss chocolate, all followed by a Germanesque breakfast by the Lake.

    Whats to do?

    Mount Pilatus I have mixed reviews of this place. I really wanted to see it after googling all the gobsmacking images. I went all the way to the top , and guess what? I saw nothing. The weather has a habit of being unpredictable. I was perplexed as to why i was sold a ticket, but it turns out, its up to you to visit the website and see if there is any views on the morning of the visit, because they won’t give you any information, and no refund if there is a view. I would say it was a better bet to warn people before they purchase their tickets, and to perhaps close off the event all together, but it’s not happening anytime soon.

    Visit a chocolate shop Its expensive but taste like no other. Rather then go for the standard bards or packaged items, try to pick something fresh and handmade from places such as Laderach or Sprungli, or it will be equivalent to eating a Lindt bar which is available in the UK. Lets face it, there is no point to travel all the way to Switzerland not to try real Swiss chocolate.

    Church of Leodegar is breathtakingly beautiful. Its located close to the Lion structure, and if i had to pick one attraction to see Luzerne it would be this. Its breathtakingly beautiful inside

    Tour around the lake

    There are numerous towns and villages to visit around the lake, and a great tour of Luzerne is hopping from one town to the other. They are all unique in character with a abundance of hidden gems. I took the chance to visit the pretty town of Ennetburgen, residing for one night at the  beautiful lodge style hotel which has categorised as top 10 views of the world. Villa Honegg is a beautiful retreat high up in the hills boasting a infinity pool looking into the magical Lake Lucerne. I advise to wake up early to get a view of the magical sunrise, where you can see life awakening slowly below you.

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    Views from the magical infinity pool

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    Serene views of the mountains

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    Sunrise when the mountains become lit

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    In pool jacuzzi

    Breakfast is done in a afternoon tea style fashion starting with some local swiss favourites with a selection of cheeses and Veal bacon presented beautifully on a 3 tier stand, followed by a hot food mains selected from the menu by choice. Lastly a selection of petit pancakes of five different flavours.

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    Beautiful neutral tone rooms

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    Cosy bedrooms with balcony views of the mountains

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    Slippers, blankets and binoculars to add to the country retreat feeling

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    Poolside, wearing Superdry snow jacket, New balance trainers, Tommy hilfiger leggings, Nixon watch and Noisy May top

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    Bedroom  balcony views

    You will not be disappointed. At £700 a night per couple, its a big stretch but one worth doing. Ive been to many hotels which claim a 5 star and but there are always niggly things to point out. When it came to Villa Honegg, I could not point a single negative point. Coming back down from my hotel to Ennetburgen left me with a sense of being back to reality, and I knew nothing was going to beat Villa Honegg on my trip.

    Weggis

    The pretty town of Weggis was once described by author Mark Twain as “This is the charmingest place we have ever lived in for repose and restfulness, superb scenery whose beauty undergoes a perpetual change from one miracle to another, yet never runs short of fresh surprises and new inventions. We shall always come here for the summers if we can”

    Its a pretty little town made up of chalets and beautiful valleys. I can almost imagine christmas here.  With small boutiques and shops, it consists of a  small close knit community which harbours at the south of Lake Lucerne opposite Ennetburgen. This quaint town is very picturesque and you could spend hours on end sitting on the edge of the boat docks feeling what Mark Twain did.

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    Travel tips

    Switzerland requires much planning, or as i found, things go wrong!

    Firstly plan your journey ahead. The trains are so precise here and always leave on time. Make sure you reach the station on time. Their train time tables are very confusing in comparison to London, and you will dos likely have to do some asking around before you know which train to catch.

    Currency exchange rate is lower in switzerland compared to the UK by quite a lot. I would advise, either use your card so your own bank will charge you at their rate, or opt to changing money before. Switzerland is expensive be warned!

    Despite what people may say, I found Zurich airport a terrible design. Some of their gates are a whole train ride away and passport security is before you get tot he gate (after duty free…. YES!!) which is why i missed my flight. Don’t spend time in duty free if your gate is about to open. Some of them are in a completely different building which requires a train journey. I was a bit baffled as to how it won one of the top 10 airports in the world.

    Don;t try to train fare dodge. You my believe there are no officers however they usually dress in disguise, and you could face a hefty 100CHF fine if you don’t have a valid ticket.

  • Uncategorized
  • 6 great eats in Marrakesh

    Theres no denying that one of the best things about Morocco is the food. Marrkaech is very famous for its range of eats and I remeber how I got sick of just targine on my first trip.. I spent my recent trip exploring some new eats (their not all high end or touristy!!) to realise there is more then just targine to Morocco. Sometimes the simple things can be best. It’s easy to get stuck in the a typical tourist trap and eat with just google as a helping hand. Ive comprised a list of a few places i was impressed by below

    Cafes

    Zaatar Maa Zit Firs things first, Morocco is not really a arabic, so their breakfst varies from Moroccan pancakes and bread. I decided to mingle more with the locals on this occasion and see where they were eating. One of my favourite places turned out to be ‘Maatar Za Bit’ in Mohammed 5. I found in Marrakech you can fall in a tourist trap when it comes to food, but it was just good honest, simple food. Everything is cooked fresh so the service may seem a bit slow, but I thought it was a good sign. They were very attentive and I spent most of my mornings for breakfast here, and they didnt hesitate to a few requests. They do everything from targines, mediterranean breakfast,chicken shewarmas, kebab and pizza. They don’t do any pushy selling either, just clean , tasty and honest. A great sign of a good cafe is checkout how many locals are using it. If its good enough for them, it will be good enough for you!

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    Address: Avenue Mohamed 5 Num 268 | 30 meters from Dino Coffee & 300 meters from Mc Do, Marrakech 40000, Morocco

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    Grand Cafe de la posts The perfect French alfresco daytime dining ambience with a spritz of Mediterranean to it. French tourists spend their lunch times here. A relaxed but stylish complexion  poste

    Price:££

    Avenue Imam Malik, Marrakech 40000, Morocco

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    Dinner

    Azar What a remarkable place! A perfect gothic style dimly lit restaurant gives this restaurant a almost perfect romantic atmosphere. I would recommend going for the set menu for two, which includes 9 fezzes, 2 mains, and a selection of sweets. This menu is a selection of flavours of North African with mediterranean, slowly ascending into  berber style cusine and desserts, leaving an array of flavours in your mouth. It will set you back slightly £££ howevermell worth it for a special night out. Whilst eating you will enjoy a impressive bellydance show, and a live guitarist. This place was oh so special!

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    Price £££

    Address: Rue de Yougoslavie، Marrakesh, Morocco
    Phone: +212 5244-30920

    Les Jardins De Bala  Set on top of one of the most beautiful Riads you will ever see, the Les Jardins de Bala is a classy , contemporary Indian restaurant serving one of the best biryanis i have ever tried. The decor is fit enough for a Raja from the Mughal era! The serve everything from South Indian, to North and Pakistani cuisine. It’s a peaceful way too end your day in the Medina,and you will briskly hear the bustling Jma al Fna in the distance a short fall away.

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    High end

    Royal Mansour If your after come classy dining, Marrakech has countless award winning hotels. The afternoon tea at the Royal Mansour is a great compliment to the traditional high tea. They have cleverly combined French, English and Moroccan  savoury and sweet snacks to bring you the ideal tea experience, whilst admiring traditional designed architecture nd surroundings. This hotel is owned by the Toyal family of Morocco as is the Royal mansour, setting the standards. I did find the Moroccan tea slightly unusual, and perhaps not to everyones liking, but its  great insight to berber sweets and savoury pieces. The French was exceptional!

    26 rue de la Koutoubia, 40000, Marrakech 

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    Price:£££

    Rue Abou Abbas El Sebti, Marrakech 40000, Morocco

    La Mamounia If you really do want to treat yourself, then this is the one. Im going to finish my post with this one. Theres not a lot to be said but WOW! It’s a world class hotel, and won conde naste traveller awards 2015. Le Marocain dining will cost you approx £70 one average. If however its too pricey for you, and you want to experience the surroundings, opt into using their outdoor gardens and having some drinks instead! You will still get a similar experience for less!

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    Price:££££

    Avenue Bab Jdid، Marrakesh 40040, Morocco

  • Turkey
  • The scenic range of Cappadocia

    I have to say firstly, that Cappadocia has left me mesmerised. Cappadocia is a natural region which has been formed through volcanic eruptions  1000’s of year ago, leaving behind a scenic landscape and unusual rock formations which pulls in millions of tourists each year. Besides this, Cappadocia possesses the perfect weather and views making it the ideal destination for hot air ballooning. If you have alway wanted to do a hot air balloon ride, look no further.

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    Morning views from the terrace Millstone Suites

    Lets observe a bit closer. You need to wake up in time for sunset approximately 5 am to view the balloons in all their glory. Somewhere between 30-40 balloons set off in the distance, making it the most surreal observation you will have ever seen. It’s a moment that will truly grasp you, and one not to be forgotten. The balloons drift over the rose valley, and with the sunrise lighting up the valley, it will almost seem like you are staring at a painting.

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    Many of the local land formations were historically made into caves. You need to look in Cappadocia history to truly appreciate the nature of the caves in this UNESCO world heritage site, and what makes it so special. Local people have bought caves, and transformed them into 5 star suites, also known as ‘cave hotels’ which brings us onto our first attraction here; it’s a must if your visiting the area. I was lucky enough to stay with Millstone Suites; a 7 bedroom luxury boutique cave hotel located on the edge of Uchisar.

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    Turkish ‘Menemen’ for breakfast


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    Breakfast with views of the valley

    This pretty property is run by Alper Kankilic and had a beyond wonderful ambience. Each suite is traditional with the modern fitted luxuries, making it a perfect romantic setting, but still articulating the original features of the cave. Every evening the terrace comes alive, as guest mingle together on the wonderful fire lit terrace looking over the Rose valley, enjoying some homemade Turkish cuisines. With the relaxed ambience, chilled music, and the two resident puppies Whisky and Malt running around, I almost felt pleasantly at home.

     The Flamin Marvellous restaurant is a perfect addition to this already beguiling property. They restored old stone bakery which was located originally where the hotel is built, unlocks a piece of history and produces the most delicious Turkish flavours, expanding your imagination to how delectable the bakery must have been 100’s of years ago .They serve everything from house wine, traditional Turkish cuisines intertwined with Armenian and mediterranean influences, burgers, and continental breakfasts. I love Turkish food, it has so much soul to it and recommend to try their dishes as part of your journey to this incredible place. I enjoyed the menemen for breakfast; its a perfect way to start the day consisting of eggs, peppers and tomatoes , and ‘testi kebabi’ for dinner. They also have a impressive collection of liqueurs, wines and cocktails, so you will be spoilt for choice!

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    Millstone cave suites The perfect cave hotel

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    Starting price for rooms will set you back about £125.00, includes breakfast

     

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    Address: Tekelli mah. Divanlı sok. No:20
    Uchisar/Nevsehir
    Turkey

    Phone: +90384 219 2288

    Email: info@millstonecavesuites.com


    Museum Hotel Uchisar

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    Jacuzzi at the Museum hotel suite

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    Museum hotel The cave suite

    If your looking for a very high end luxury hotel with a Byzantine feel to it, the museum hotel is located a few walks away. This 30 bedroom award winning premium property includes silk furnishing details, mosaic marble bathrooms accompanied by jacuzzi bath tubs in each and every one of their rooms. Their proudest asset is their infinity pool which offer ‘Alfresco’ massages on demand, with views of the valley which will have you reminiscing for a long time.

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    The museum hotel Rooftop infinity pool: winner of the luxury hotel awards, best luxury boutique hotel Europe

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    Views from the courtyard

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     They have a Michelin restaurant which I really recommend called Lil’a, which blends food from the historical influence of the Ottoman empire, including the likes of Armenia, Anatolia and greece. This combination, and a touch of culinary consultant Murat Bozok, gives the restaurant such a impeccable edge. They own their own 500 acre of land where their produce is freshly grown, ensuring you only have natural and local products on your plate.   Cappadocia was home to so many civilisations, and being the only Relais & Châteaux hotel in Turkey, I wouldn’t give this number a miss! Their food will ensure you take a journey into history

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    Price £300 p/n

    Address:  Tekeli Mah. Goreme Cad. No 1 Uchisar, 50240 Merkez/Nevşehir, Turkey
    Phone: +90 384 219 2220

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    Top things to do in Cappadocia

    Besides Cappadocia being a relaxing retreat, if you find yourself wanting to explore, read my guide below which touches light on just some of the many things this wonderful destination has to offer

    Go shopping for a turkish carpet. Ikman carpets is popular amongst tourists, and they have beautiful Turkish rugs priced from anywhere between £100- £2000 . All their products are handmade and they have a impressive gallery display. Prepared to be enticed by Turkish coffee and shish whilst you haggle

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    Ikman carpets: Aydinliorta Mah. Hakki Pasa Meydan Goreme, Nevsehir 50180, Turkey

    Pasabag Valley (Valley of the monks)  Visit the Pasbag valley and knock up a camel ride to visit the fairy chimneys. It has a beautiful landscape with twin and triple chimneys . Paşabağ means “Pasha’s Vineyard”, a name it received after the Byzantine Greek population left the region which is located in the middle of a vineyard.

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    Camels at the Paşabağ valley

    Uchisar castle is a fort/castle, originally used as a safe house when enemies were nearby. It is located nearby the cave hotels in the town of Uchisar. It has small dwarf like holes throughout which has aroused some myths of dwarf like people living here. People would leave their homes in Uchisar, and flock to the fort and hide. This castle really gives the town some character, and as the fortress can be seen from almost every suite, its not hard to imagine how life may have been. From here you can also walk further onto the pigeon valley

    Open air museum, a monastic settlement from 4000 bc. It has approximately 9-10 churches with beautiful preserved artefacts, due to the lack of light. One of them even resembles petra. This was my top place to visit in Cappadocia

    Saruhan, used as a stopover house by during the era of the silk road, by the Perisans. Its now used as a show house, and in the evening you can find the art of sufi dancing which is so prominent in Turkey, known as the Dervish whirlers. A must go if your a Rumi or Turkish/Persian literature fan. Tickets are approximately 25euros for the show

    Underground City, a historical underground network used by the christians to escape persecution by the Romans, and later muslims. the largest underground city is 10 floors deep, and you will find yourself ducking and diving, in between the cold atmospheric walls. You will see everything from their fridge rooms, to their living rooms. It’s a very odd experience, just make sure you don’t get lost!

    Hot Air balloons It’s the most scenic place in the world for a hot air balloon ride. You will witness approximately 30-40 balloons around you, with epic views of the rose valley. You will be expected to wake up early, as balloon rides begin about 5am or according to sunrise.

  • hong kong
  • Inside of Hong Kongs Luxury Intercontinental

    I’m a sucker for rooftop pools, and The Hong Kong Intercontinental really exhilirates my senses. There is something slightly surreal about watching the world go by from a rooftop infinity pool

    The prestige property is located on the edge of the victoria Harbour in the Kowloon district. it has 1600 individually appointed rooms. For a surcharge of   HK450  (£37) you can sit back in comfort with a signature ‘nine dragons’ cocktail, in the knowledge you’ve snagged one of the most desirable spots in town with the most epic panoramic views!

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    Views from the rooftop pool

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    246708_10151049917778309_581552155_nRooftop pool Bar

    252500_10151057137138309_2131711423_nNight view from the pool
    262858_10151050476073309_2100817074_nSignature cocktails in the lobby

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    If you love cities, Hong Kong is a huge contender against the city out there with the likes of Dubai, Tokyo, London and New York. It’s pretty impressive in its lineup, and I love the fact the cultural experience is so vast here! Theres a lot more to Hong Kong then just Hotels and skyscrapers. It boasts a rich cultural and historical heritage,with a dash of western values which has come about from its pre British reign. With more then one island to explore in a city that never sleeps, you will be pretty rapt in Hong Kong. Choose from various things to do in this cosmopolitan city such as panoramic views from the Victoria Harbour and peak, cultural trips to Lantau Island, or excursions to Macau. Make sure you guys head over to my review of ‘The venetian hotel- Macau’

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    View from the top

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    Avenue of the Stars

  • London
  • A Exclusive look at Cafe Royals’ ‘Diwania Lounge’


    Mens Wood Watches



    Yesterday I got a exclusive peak at the modish ‘Diwania lounge’, the latest edition Hotel Cafe Royal. Located in the prestigious area of W1, this property is eminently pleasing. They boast a pretty impressive apartment here with panoramic views, and it’s not that i’ve never visit a suite before, but something about this quite that set it features apart from another.  The property is rich with history, and elegance, and as you transcend up their stair case, ahistorical story unfolds.

    I was pleased to be in the chance of visiting their new, and exciting pop collaboration currently being held with Harrods, showcasing the ‘made with love’ range. Its a temporary submergent which has been open since Ramadan, showcasing Harrods personalised perfumery and bag collection taking place in their gilded style of  French Louis XVI Ballroom.

    Immediately on arrival, my attention was deflected by the striking gold architecture. The gold accents are reminiscent of a French Royal Palace, only with the finest attention to detail. The elegant lounge extends to a  open rooftop terrace, overlooking Regent street with some beautifully articulated pillars to shape your panoramic views.

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    Gold decor at the Diwania Lounge  Regent Street

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    The hot mezze and state of the art cocktails

    The exceptional menu will include hot and cold meze, grilled chicken skewers, marinated lamb cutlets and tagine, as well as delicious delicacies like baklava and Turkish delight. These dishes will be complimented by a selection of international dishes from the hotel’s own culinary team, under the guidance of Head Chef, Armand Sablon. With quite a large selection of Middle Eastern dishes, you will be spoilt for choice. P.S, I recommend trying the pistachio cocktail, its a interesting blend of  as it sounds!

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    Panoramic views of Regent Street

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    Sunglasses by rayban and Jacket by Frocks and Frills; bag by Karen Millen

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    Watch by Jord Watches- click here to buy- enter ’35FRANKIEsoHOT’ for 10% off. Or head over to https://www.woodwatches.com/g/monuslifestylediaries to win a e voucher of $80 to spend with them, and a chance to win a watch. 

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    I love this place! It’s refreshing to see somewhere for our Middle Eastern clients who come to the UK, and being frequent travellers, this unique lounge is much to be appreciated

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    Open from 15 July until 28 August 2016, until 3 am daily

    Book by emailing Diwania@hotelcaferoyal.com

    Price: £££

    HOTEL CAFÉ ROYAL, 68 REGENT STREET, LONDON W1B 4DY TELEPHONE +44 (0)20 7406 3333

  • Marrakech Riad
  • Marrakech Top 10

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    ref : lahcen mellal photgraphy

    If your thinking of going to Marrakech for a short trip , why not take a look my inspirational guide below? it’s just a tip of the iceberg of all the things you can do! I will be taking another trip to Marrakech in September to bring you the best of food!

    Visit one of the top hotels in the world

    Marrakech has some top boutique hotels, and La Mamounia certainly set the standards when it was voted Best Hotel in the World by Conde Nast Traveller UK in September 2015. The intricate property is a aficionados dream come true, and with its equable ambience, you will truly appreciate the hard work thats gone into this place. Originally the 3-ha park was given by the Sultan ‘Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdellah’ to his son, Moulay Mamoun, for his wedding in the 18th century. It was green oasis behind the city’s Kasbah and became quickly known for his lavish garden parties. Later updated to a hotel in 1923 the ‘La Mamounia’  a property that proudly exhibits moorish opulence seamlessly. It’s a must see.

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    Gardens patio of La Mamounia Marrakesh

     

    The Jardin Majorelle

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    The famous Jardin majorelle also known as the’ Yves Saint Laurent gardens’ , features a abundance of blue architecture. Its a modern masterpiece created to work in harmony with the hand crafted botanical gardens of exotic and rare species with surroundings, making it a pleasurable experience . Designed by French artist Jacques Majorelle in the 1920s and 1930s, it later belonged to Yves Saint Laurent in the 1980’s who described it as ‘a unlimited source of inspiration, dreaming many times about the unique colours.

    Try some targine

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    Targine at cafe arabe

    Get traditional by trying some local cuisines. I recommend Cafe arabe or nomad for some delicious home made targine, a dish slow cooked in a targine plate with a choice of lamb, fish or chicken!. If you love targine you may want to get hands sticky, and dive straight into a  Moroccan cooking class at fez such as the one here below:

    If you decide to buy your own targine pots, read the guide on safe targines

    Visit the Ben Youssef Medersa

    Officially the largest quranic school of North Africa , the Medersa (meaning school in Arabic ) once had 900 students in 132 dorms arranged around the courtyard studied religious and legal texts here. It’s now open to visitors and boasts a array of colours and intricate wall designs

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    Shopping

    It’s hard to travel somewhere like Marrakesh and not want to take a piece of it back with you. The medina is the perfect market to shop in, but you will have to be ready to haggle . The medina will erupt your imagination back to the stories of alibaba. The souks sell a variety of spices, artisans and handmade decorative home pieces. It’s easy to get lost here so make sure you have a local sim card which allows you to use internet for £1 a day

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    The red walls of the Medina

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    Carre Eden located near Jemma al Fna

    Or if your looking for somewhere a bit more contemporary hit Gueliz, the newer part of the city, is a more modern vibe featuring extensive European shopping brands, eateries and cafes. Best of all, you don’t have to haggle. Their grandest shopping complexes include the Menara mall or Carre Eden

    Menara; Avenue Mohammed VI, Marrakech, Morocco

    Stay in a Riad

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    One of my favourite Riads in Kesbah , the Al Maha

    I love riads, I hope I can own one one day! Read my favourite riad guide here. They really are a true rendition of traditional Moroccan life. Many riads have since been restored under the UNESCO scheme by foreigners, bringing out there original characters and artisans, and each riad has something new to explore. The roads are a architectures dream, based on a central atrium with a fountain surrounded by trees and bedrooms.  They are a architectures dream!

    If you havent accoodated yourself in a riad and simply want to visit one, how about just going to one for dinner. Try the Dar Cherifa, its the oldest riad in Marrakech, and the food is delicous!

    Take a excursion to Ouzoud

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    The picturesque falls

    I done my tour to here with click excursions which can be booked here , after extensive research they were the cheapest company and provide really good service. Ouzoud was only two hours away, and its the largest waterfall in North Africa. It’s very impressive, and you can hike all the way round it, where you will end up at restaurants on the other side close to the exit. You can have a Moroccan barbecue right beneath the falls,surrounded by berber monkeys. It will surely be a memorable experience

    contact@clickexcursions.com
    00 212 661 165 800

     

    Jemma al Fna

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    Taken from Glacier, overlooking the square

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    The Jemmaa al Fna has some mixed reviews, and its not a place for all of us. But if you like the idea of snake charmers, belly dancers, and monkeys, it will rock your boat. It comes alive at night, and its usually to come with a few people rather then travel alone. If you decide to come alone, jus watch your bag, and keep some change (10-20 dirham just about does it) to give to performers if you decide to photograph them. I find its good to be stern if you don’t want something as their quite pushy here, or just stand to the side and watch from a distance. I kept my sunglasses on and earphones in if I didn’t want attention- just a tip!

    A note to women; its good to free slightly modest here. Fashion of all types is tolerated in Morocco, but the rule slightly changes here. Why attract unwanted attention if its just going to ruin your night?

    Derb Chtouka, Marrakesh 40008, Morocco

    Have a hammam treatment

    Originating from Turkey, the Islamic variant of the Roman bath, steam bath is a focus on water, as distinct from ambient steam followed by a scrub down. Ham is a popular treatment in Marrakech and you will be spoilt for choice! I recommend heading down to hammam de la Rose

    Address: 130, Dar El Bacha | Medina, Marrakech 40000, Morocco
    Phone Number: 212524444769

  • Dubai
  • Dubai travel and food guide

    Dubai is the largest city amongst the 7 of the UAE.The beautiful state of the Emirates, a tranquil desert Oasis on the Persian Gulf, is a dream city built on ideas and concepts never explored before. Everytime you visit Dubai, you will find something new from your previous visits. It’s a relatively new blue print drafted up and built over 45 years, and its hard to believe what once was a empty desert, is evolving at such a fast pace as it is. It has attracted expats from all over the globe to join the large financial hub and hospitality industry. Along with the establishment of Dubai, it has also become a attractive holiday destination with a bustling party life , clubs, tranquil residences, beaches , and shopping experiences to remember! Dubai travel has to be ticked off your bucket list

    My regulars will know all about my love affair with Dubai. I love the emirates and their limitless . They can take any idea , and make it into something bigger and better. Just take the Burj Khalifa for example, officially the tallest building in the world, and getting taller! It has 148 floors in total boasting 360 panoramic views of Dubai. Don’t underestimate what Dubai has to offer!

    Where did I Stay?

    I was invited along to SPG hotels, The Sheraton Dubai mall of Emirates situated inside of Dubai Mall, the premium, glamourous end of the SPG brand, with all amenities built within, where you can simply walk out of your hotel directly into the world famous ‘Mall of Emirates’.

    They boast some breathtaking views of the Burj Khalifa Skyline,the burj Al Arab from the southside, twin rooftop pools, 433 rooms, and 3 restaurants with a beautiful shish terrace. You won’t be short of things to do here. Visiting Dubai previously, I always chose to stay Downtown, or Jumeirah, however I always felt exahausted by the traffic and hustle and bustle of Downtown. Mall of Emirates is a considerably more feasible option, located on the 4th interchange of Sheikh Zayed road, and Downtown is only 10 minutes drive from here!

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    The beautifully decorated reception at Sheraton

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    SPG Hospitality at its finest

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    Beautiful views of the Burj Khalifa skyline from the terrace


    IMG_4848 Shisha Terrace lounge @ Sheraton MOE

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    Bedroom views of Burj Al Arab

    Pricier Luxury residence options? 

    If your after something luxury, head over to The Palm or Jumeirah. The man made island has some beautiful properties such as the Atlantis, Four Seasons, The One and Only and the Fairmont. if you don;t have a budget to cover these hotels, you can always use their bar or attend one of their restaurants, and have a leisure around the hotel this way!

    Shopping

     Dubai is a shoppers dream. The mall of emirates multi-level shopping mall currently features more than 630 retail outlets, 7900 parking spaces, over 100 restaurants & Cafes, 80 luxury stores and 250 flagship stores. They also have themiddleeasts first indoor skiing resort- Ski Dubai. Best of all, everything is available tax free!

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    My mall of emirates shopping experience

     

    Excursions

    Take a excursion to Ras Al Khaimah : Yes there is lots to do and see outside of the city centre. As the UAE is not so large, you can easily hire a car, and drive to local cities. in fact the drive to Ras Al Khamiah took us the best part of 2-2.5 hours, and its a huge change of scenery! You will be close to the border of Oman, which has a stunning insta worthy mountainous range, and a jaw dropping sunset to watch. we saw the fortress, and  wall of Ras al Khaimah, and visited the reserves. If your looking for something less strenuous, there is tonnes of companies offering desert duning or camel riding tours

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    Looking into Oman from Ras

    Visit the Burj Khalifa

    It’s the worlds tallest building, and you can visit the 128th floor observation deck for a price of £30.00. If you have a bigger budget pay and additional £15.00 for the sunset, or £80 to of to the 148th floor. I much like the night views, Dubai just comes alive at night

     

    Get the best of the city with a view from a rooftop bar

    Yes there is a extrenuous amount of bars and choices here. On Every corner, and every hotel, there is a competition of which bar will have the best views, best coctails. If i had a choice, I would visit very bar possible in Dubai. If your a first timer, stick to bars in Jumeirah or the Palm- I love the Royal mirage One and Onlys’ 101 bar for its ambience, or the Four Seasons Jumeirah where their perfectly formed arches resemble the city.

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    Views from Four Seasons Bar

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    For rooftop city bars try out ‘Shades’ at the address in Dubai Marina, they have a gorgeous rooftop pool and breathtaking views of the Dubai Marina, or somewhere closer to downtown I recommend the level 43 @ four Points sheraton.One of my favourite bars is Four Points sheraton on Sheikh Zayed Road. It’s the perfect place to enjoy the heart of the city, and glance over the skyscrapers and phenomenal views of the Burj Khalifa, whilst sipping on state of the art cocktail.


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    Try some Indian food

    The UAE is obviously a arabic country, however historically, it has tied in a lot of trade from nearby areas such s India, Pakistan and iran. In fact in the 1940’s many people flooded into dubai for work and business and it has had a large influence from Asia, culturally, in terms of language and food. You cannot come to dubai without trying some Indian food, because its much part of their culture now, and alongside this its attracted some top ranked Indian chefs!


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    Just a ‘taste’ of the House of curry dishes

    I was invited along to the House of Curry on Jumeirah Beach, an exotic array of indian dishes which takes you through a incredible journey taste journey from the South to the North. I particularly loved the Kerala fish, lamb Bhoti and the drinks. Being Indian, this took me back to my childhood, and it was as good as home made. This place does not cease to disappoint! The beautiful Indian garden setting is amazing too with colours and themes dating back to the Mughal Empire. They have a beautiful tree growing through the centre with traditional Rajasthani and Jaipur paintings and architecture.

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    Beautiful views from the Mint Leaf Dubai

    Based on the original sister restaurant Mint Leaf based in London, there has been much success to Dubais’ branch after its initial launch in August 2015. Mint Leaf, located in the emirates financial tower is a whole new take on Indian food. They present their food as a three course menu, with a taster style presentation of several starters, mains or desserts. The food palette is immensely colourful, and tastes amazing. Its a modern take of Indian food, where they play with new tastes and styles which you may not have tried before, giving it a Michelin star feel. Take the gulab jaman , a traditional Indian/ Persian desert. It has been adapted to a cheese cake, or soft shell crab/ wild mushroom and fennel soup with white truffle oil. Their food is cooked in front of you, and monitored by Chef Vivek. It truly is a beautiful experience visually and taste too, as there are beautiful views of the Burj Khalifa in front of you, and looking down on the city! They also have a lovely bar upon entrance, which gets pretty busy on weekends!

     

    Visit the Burj Al Arab

    If you can’t afford a night here like the rest of us, you can always visit one of the restaurants or bar;s. Using the facilities in a hotel is a great way to get access and a wonder around.  This is a 7 star hotel who’s architectural design is down to Chinese artist Kuan Chew. It’s of great significance to Dubai and a proud achievement. It will probably be the most surreal hotel you have been to! Wether you find it impressive or just plain odd is unto you!

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    Fountains in front of the Burk Khalifa

    Dubai Fountains

    Every half an hour, in front of the Burj Khalifa, you can watch Dubai fountains spring into a beautiful water show, each show is choreographed individually to work in ambience with the music and something new from the show before. I recommend sticking around after a show is complete to get to the front before the next one, as crowds gather up pretty fast here. It can also be seen from the Terrace of the Palace hotel situated behind Souk Al Bahar whilst enjoying some Thai food at ‘Thipara’.

    Cultural Villiage

    After getting lost in all the above, its easy to forget what the Emirates are really about. It;s important to leave the sky scrapers behind and develop  a better understanding of Emirate culture and life before the creation of Dubai. Situated in the Shindaga neighbourhood of Bur Dubai, the museum is small but informative exhibits on display. You’ll find bags of spices, incense, rose petals, and traditional medicinal products stacked outside each stall. From here you can walk to the Dubai creek, get a Dhow (boat) across the river and visit the Spice Souk or gold Souks’.

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    Spice markets in the Cultural Village 

     

    Visit a theme Park

    The theme parks are endless in Dubai. Wild Wadi, Aqua adventure, Ferrari world… the list is endless. I love Wild Wadi, and for a extra fee, you can go swimming with dolphins. It’s a amazing experience as towards the end, the dolphins will perform a show for you and show you their best tricks. You can visit the theme park at the Atlantis Hotel Dubai

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  • Marrakech Riad
  • Marrakech: Where to stay

    Weather its the food, exotic smells, abundance of culture, beautiful architecture, art, or call to prayer, it’s easy to be seduced by Marrakech. I’d often read a lot about marrakech, but visiting was a experience in itself. I will actually admit, I have Marrakech fever. It’s difficult not to fall in love with this city!

    Marrakech has always seemed slightly cliche to me, and always struck me as a place to visit to experience the quintessential Saharan life of North Africas’ region. It’s the fourth largest city in Morocco, located in the foothills of the Atlas mountains, and is the perfect destination to visit if you want to introduce yourself to Morocco.

    Due to its geographical location, it’a accessible, in only 3 and a half hours from London, making it one of the easiest journeys to do Its bursting with a abundance of culture in such a short fall of time. In other words, it’s perfect! Being a islamised Country has made it subject to certain stereotypes due to prevailing political problems nearby, however keep an open mind and you will be welcomed with open arms. Somehow the city manages to balance its culture and assent western values seamlessly.

    Where to stay?

    You will find countless riads in the Medina and old city, or countless hotel chains in the new hotels. If you want to experience real moroccan hospitality, go for a Riad, even if it’s only for a night! Once owned by the wealthiest citizens such as merchants and courtiers focused around family privacy and protection from the weather in Morocco, They will take you back in time ,. Many of the restored riads in the districts of Mouassine and Lakssour offer the finest examples of restoration as historically these areas contained many of the grand palaces from Marrakech’s Saadian period, now owned mostly by foreigners, helping restore UNESCO sites.

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    Luxury: Riad Al Maha

    Almaha is a relatively new premium boutique Riad, with a decor fit for royalty. With large spacious suites, amongst only 12 rooms, your truly likely to have a unique one to one experience here. All the food is home made, and you could spend hours bird watching on the hotel grounds, or admiring the rooftops from the Terrace.

    When I arrived to Al maha, I was greeted to a average wooden door from the main street. I did’t really know what to expect. When I entered, I was greeted by wonderful staff with a mint tea, in a quaint front room with a large bookcase. ‘Ma’am, there is a secret door in here, can you guess where ‘? I had a look around, and from watching one too many movies I guessed a moving bookcase would’t be far off, although I couldn’t see any entry points. She pushes the book case and asked me ‘ please come in’ . I approached with suspicion, enjoying the banter at the same time. After this, I’m sure the wow in my facial expressions said it all. How is this great hidden gem, hidden behind that one door? I already have a feeling I won’t want to leave. And thats what I love about Marrakech. On every corner or through every door, it holds a little secret waiting to be explored.

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    Beautiful grounds of AlMaha

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    This riad is cleverly designed by Charles Kaisin, a Belgian architect. With the thick walls, and centre water feature, and beautifully draped curtains, it was at least 10 degree cooler as you enter. With only 8 exclusive boutique rooms individually tailored, their accomodation is fit for a king (literally)! It’s a surreal experience, with only the sound of birds or fountain to keep you company. This is definitely my number one property in Marrakesh!

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    Almaha Boutique Marrakech hotel grounds

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    Homemade traditional Moroccan Cuisine

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    In hotel spa

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    The pixel room- each pixel is handcrafted to imitate the ‘Jna Al Fna’ Square

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    Key Features: Luxurious interior design exclusive by Charles Kaisah, located in prestige Kesbah, boutique rooms,  ;Price ££££

    55 Derb Ben Zina، Marrakesh 40040, Morocco; +212 5243-86782; http://www.almahamarrakech.com

    Perfect for romance/couples

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    Budget: Riad Adore

    Marrakesh is full of a range of beautiful options if on a budget. There are many reasonable priced riads dispersed around the Medina with a beautiful boutique feel , each one to its own identity. I was lucky enough to try our Riad Adore. Its a small chic read, run more by a small number of staff, making the service exceptionally personal. With 10 individually decorated rooms, newly decorated by Christoper S , Its located in one of the oldest neighbourhoods of the Medina.

    The patio area is decorated with pretty greys, authentic feeling window shutters, and the sound of the fountains make you feel you are sleeping out in the open at night. The property facilitates a hammam, a salon offering a wide range of treatments, a library, and a rooftop berber tent perfect for shisha summers, or fire lit winters.

    The boutique riad comes alive at night, lit with candles and chillout music, making a magical atmosphere for the guests.

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    Fatima room 

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    Riad Adore grounds

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    Riad Adore,94 Derb Tizouagrine, Dar El Bacha, Marrakech Medina 00 44 (0) 7935 079 983 (UK) Riadadore.com

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    Medina: Riad Star

    If you want to opt into staying deep in the Medina and experience the old city first hand, then head to Riad Star. It’s owned by Mike wood, but was the original home of Josephine Baker in the early 1940’s, so it’s got a unique character which sets it apart from other riads.  The  7 bedrooms character property has changed very little, with just the much needed updates to the bedroom keeping the original artefacts to give the feel you are stepping into her original home. Its a fun modern art deco property with Moroccan spirit, and stepping into the riad is like taking a step back in time to the 1940’s flapper era without sacrificing modern comforts. You will have fun dressing up as Josephine, as they still have her costumes on display for guests to try on.

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    Colourful doors on the First floor terrace

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    Conveniently located near the Ben Youssef Mederessa, its one of the tallest buildings in the neighbourhood with astonishing views of the rooftops and Koutobia mosque especially at the sunset hour .You can take a stroll on the terrace at night, enjoy the sunset, prayer time next to the rooftop fireplace with some tasty homemade dinner.

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    Rooftop terrace

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    The terrace top room which I stayed

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    The rooms have small dainty artisans belonging to Josephine herself, and all rooms are equipped with top of the range en suites with power shower, luxury robes, silk sheets, hairdryer, mini fridge and

    Watch me having fun at riad star!

    staff are extremely attentive and friendly, and you feel part of a family from the day you step in . Most importantly, they provided a prepaid mobile phone to each of their guests to call them if they take a stroll out and hesitate to find their way back. Even on my third trip to Morocco I was hopeless in the Medina! Safety is a huge thing and the Medina can be daunting at night, especially if its your first time! This service really sets this Riad apart.

    Riad Star, 13 Derb Alilich, Kaat Bennahid District, Marrakesh; 800-845-0810; riadstar.com.

    Key Features: Boutique Riad, Medina location, Excellent views of rooftop and Koutoubia, Events can be arranged here, onsite hammam

    Perfect for solo travellers/ groups of friends/female travellers Price ££

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    Chain hotel: Four Seasons

    On the other hand, if you are after something a bit more commercial, you won’t have a shortfall of a well known large chain group to choose from. Marrakesh has attracted properties from the Four Seasons, Sofitel, Sheratton and Fairmont. I resided with the Four Seasons, and although it comes at a larger price tag,they have done a fabulous job of keeping the Moroccan identity, whilst amalgamating their signature image well. This property is located at a prestigious part of Marrakesh, and it has 141 rooms, alongside 27 suites – all with private balcony and terraces, on site Le Spa, swimming pools, tennis courts, and fitness grounds. Their tranquil gardens are a world away from the bustling city and most importantly which goes without saying, you will be treated with the exclusive hospitality as a Four Seasons. I recommend their properties worldwide!

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    Four seasons signature fountain

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    Hotel grounds at night

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    Four Seasons signature coffee  leaf

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    Generous views from the deluxe rooms

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    Look who we bumped into! Zoz Alajail follow him on Insta @zozalajail

    Key features: 5 star hotel, chain group hotel, Situated in premium neighbourhood of Marrakech, 3 nights get one free; Price ££££

    One things for sure, if your coming to Morocco, you should’t miss out on the serenity and hospitality of riads, lets face it, how many times will we get the chance to experience a riad?

    perfect for couples, families, people with a high budget

  • Doha
  • Ritz Sharq Villiage and Spa

    Thankyou to The Ritz Sharq Villiage and Spa for hosting me

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    Sunglasses by Marc Jacobs

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    The Ritz Pool |  Dress by Lipsy

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    Dress & shoes by Newlook

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    Abaya by Bahrainlicious

    For everyone who watched my snaps (monu_b) , you will know how much I loved this hotel! With the grand entrance, the range of restaurants, the Six Senses Spa, Its literally as the name suggests, a village! There is so much to do under one roof. I recommend a 4-5 day trip in Doha, if you want to beat the prices of Dubai but have the same experience.

    You can watch my blog here:

  • Doha
  • Top 5 hotels in Doha


    So if you guys are planning a visit soon, read my guide below of the top 5 hotels in Doha as tried and tested by me!

    On a budget?

    If anyone has watched my youtube blog, you will know I love Movenpick hotels. Ive worked with them in the past, but its their values which I find attractive. They are a high end chain group, but everything about them shouts simplicity. The Movenpick West bay is pretty good buck for your money. It’s located centrally in the west Bay, amongst all the 6 star hotels, but they have the most killer view to outdo them all. If your looking for glamour on a budget its definitely the place to stay. They have a pool with a pretty impressive view not he 24th floor, where you can see the whole of Doha, and overlook all the much more expensive competitors nearby. I would say this is the number one place to stay in Doha in terms of location and cost. They have 60 suites out of their 300 rooms which i stayed in,  and the experience was like no other. The rooms are large and over looking the city, with a separate living room and bedroom. Its a great view to wake up to! Rooms start at 700 riyal which is reasonable for this financial hub. Theirs lots going on nearby so why not slip in a drive under the city as the sun sets!

    They also won ‘Qatar’s leading city hotel’ by World Travel Awards’ 2015

    Mövenpick West Bay Doha prides itself on being a Green Hotel, with a major focus on sustainable operations, and spreading awareness on living green.

    The hotel supports local Go Green initiatives, in coordination with the Qatar Green Building Council, partnering up on several occasions and projects such as “Art from Trash’, “No Paper Day’, as well as hosting the Council’s events at the hotel.

    The employees of the hotel are also living green; lead by the property’s Green Team, the hotel organizes numerous green activities annually, including Earth Hour, Beach Clean Ups and Tree Planting projects. They are also currently supporting a local charity which works with disabilities.

     

     

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    Pool on the 24th floor

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    The suite

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    Impressive views from the suite

    Going traditional?

    Head to the Souq Waqif boutique hotels! Traditional Arabian settings in luxury! Located throughout the Souq, this impressive 9 property empire owned by the Qatari royal family, takes you back in time to what arabia is all about! The spice markets, restaurants and Souq will keep you busy until the early hours of the morning. Read my post about them here

    Boutique hotels Souq Waqif

    Luxury Spa?

    The Ritz Sharq village and Spa. They have some pretty amazing concessions here, such as restaurant Parisa which I tried out. It’s super close to the airport, and it;s tucked and hidden away from all the hustle and bustle. You wake up in the morning to peace and quiet. The grounds are absolutely lovely, with a shish lounge, swimming pools, and the impressive award winning ‘Six Senses Spa’. You can read about them here

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    The Ritz has a impressive outdoor pool

    Simple?

    Head to Amari Boutique hotels. It has a lovely view of the West Bay area, and a small but attractive rooftop pool. It’s located more towards the residential area of Doha, but its location made it slightly more appealing. In the city its hard to get away from the noise, but it did just that!

    Cool and Snazzy?

    W Hotels is definitely a hip hotel, with a state of the art light display as you enter. If you love the hustle and bustle, and your young, it’s perfect. I tried out La Spiga, which is traditional Italian cuisine, and it has to have been one of my favourite restaurants I went to! You can follow their very beautiful snapchat account on ‘wdoha’ to find out more about their upcoming events. Be sure they will be hosting .

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    monu's lifestyle diaries.

    monu's lifestyle diaries.