Kimpton Blythswood Square Hotel Glasgow | Hotel Review

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Where is the most iconic hotel in all of Glasgow? 

Answer: The Kimpton Blythswood Square Hotel notorious for its historic gardens, it's award winning spa and stylish interiors. Whilst out on a press trip with Diageo exploring the Haig Distillery, I got to visit this wonderful hotel and today I'm going to share some photos and thoughts. 

The Kimpton Blythswood Square Hotel is the only AA five-star hotel in Glasgow and a fantastic landmark for this beautiful city. Upon arrival I really felt at home with Xavier my concierge greeting me with warm smiles and pleasantries. Not to mention a solid handshake. 

I admired the modern art that festooned the walls of the lobby before being shown to my room. Once inside I slumped on the bed after a long journey, the quality of the mattress did not go unnoticed. The bedding and the soft furnishings were sublime. The design of the hotel has this great alchemy, fusing traditional architecture and design with a fresh modern look. Everything was immaculate and ahead of my evening meal, I was chuffed to find there was an iron and ironing board to get me ready for the evenings frivolities. 

Another great facet of this hotel is the thermal experience. It's actually a very romantic and antiquated hotel that prides itself on tradition and comfort. I'd certainly recommend getting a relaxing massage and some afternoon tea. 

The dinner service is also top notch. Although if you'd like to experience more of the city's culinary delights then the hotel is situated very close to a wonderful restaurant called Two Fat Ladies. You're also only a ten minute walk to the centre of Glasgow where you'll find a plethora of restaurants and shops. 

I was sad to leave the comfort and hospitality of this fine hotel. However, the service was good and true to the end. The concierge loaded my luggage into the taxi and waved me off like a family member. I'll certainly be back next time I'm in town. 

The Non-Touristy Travel Guide When Visiting New York City

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What is the most non-touristy thing to do when visiting New York City? 

Answer: A visit to the Cooper Hewitt Museum is an absolute must. It's probably well known to locals, but it was very sparsely attended during my recent visit and we had a tour guide all to ourselves for free. 

It has many fascinating features and inventive ways to think about sustainability. For example the decomposing burial suit. It might be grim to think about it but we're not exactly eco-friendly when we commit ourselves to the ground. 

I also loved this electronic wallpaper room that allowed you to create your own designs and logos. It's quite simplistic. The 007 wallpaper took me all of 20 seconds to make (as I'm sure you can tell) but the effect is fantastic and makes for a great Instagram photo. 

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Best Non-touristy places to Eat in New York 

If you're looking for a place to eat near the Cooper Hewitt Museum then the Le Botaniste at 833 Lexington Ave is great value for money. It's also not at all over-crowded and I have no idea why. We went twice and it was empty. 

However, the food was delicious made of plant-based prescriptions bowls with combinations of cereals, veggie proteins, seeds, and vegetables. 

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Surprising not overly busy: Central Park 

I was surprised at how empty Central Park was. We went round on the weekend, the weather was great and there was still plenty of room to set up a picnic. Dogs are kept on a leash between 9am and 9pm, so you won't have to compete with animals and owners sprinting around chasing frisbees. 

Good to know:

If you're traipsing back to the hotel after hours be mindful the gates at Central Park close at 1am. 

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Place to ourselves 

If you're looking for a quiet, non-touristy hotel in NYC, but would like to stay fairly central, then I can recommend the Freehand Hotel. It's capacious, with multiple communal rooms and bars. Even a rooftop bar. But a lot of the time it felt deserted. 

It has a wonderful artisan feel. You can tell it's made by a team of creatives, for creatives. 

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And why not while you're there

Visit Trump Tower. Believe it or not you can just walk in. You'll have a mandatory back check but I was surprised at the ease of access. Again very few people around.

There's not much to see that's open on the ground floor. A couple of gift shops and a restaurant. But it was en-route and free. You may as well whilst you're in the neighbourhood. 

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Places we went to that were crowded 

Grand Central Station 

Grand Central station is very busy. Imagine Liverpool Street during rush hour but bigger and more aggressive. All the pubs and bars within a stone’s throw are equally busy around 5-7pm. I'd avoid that area if you're looking for a quiet drink or meal. 

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The Guggenheim Museum 

Whilst it wasn't too busy, I found that it was quite noisy for an art gallery. The building is impressive (if you've seen Mr Poppers Penguins you'd be familiar with the elliptical stairwell that runs serpentine up 4 floors. 

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The Natural History Museum 

Again it's a museum that's a huge tourist attraction. Sadly a bit outdated compared to modern museums. However, the dinosaur exhibit is worth the price of entry alone. 

48 Hours in Palma, Mallorca, Spain | Thing to See and Do

Friend of the blog and contributor Peter Brooker, editor of Human Research, has just landed back from a long weekend in Palma. Lucky so-and-so, dodging the English rain as per usual. 

In this article Peter will give you the skinny on where to stay in Palma, restaurants to visit and some tips on things to see and do. 

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Palma, Mallorca, or Majorca for the English-phonetic, is a drop below the luxury of Saint Tropez, but a class above Ibiza. (So I'm told, have been to neither). 

All I can say is that Bilbao was a right-off. I've been in the dog-house ever since for taking my girlfriend to Bilbao, the place with one decent looking building, one inaccessible James Bond location and beyond average unadventurous cuisine. 

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The missus has since revoked my rights to book anything accept short stay car parking at Gatwick. Which was actually harder than it sounded given the immediacy after the BA debacle at Heathrow and reported fire at Victoria. Trains were out. Flights got cancelled/delayed. We really had to walk between the raindrops just to catch this flight. 

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Where to stay in Mallorca

Hotel Tres has it all. It’s a twenty minute cab ride from the airport that will cost you 20 Euros. We stayed for four nights at roughly just over 200 GBP a night. This came with breakfast included, which was decent enough. Though they charged for the coffee which didn't sit well with me. Sure you can get a regular black coffee, but we asked for soya cappuccino and got given a bill. I mean sonofabitch. Is it really that much of a calorie burner? 

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Ok I'm angry, but I would still recommend this hotel. I asked them to recommend restaurants ahead of our arrival and they did so. They also helped me try and get some movie location spots locked down, which was real sweet of them. 

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The room has one of these rolling tables that stretches the entire length of the bed. Genius. Someone is finally listening to me. I'll once again lay out the essentials of what I look for in a hotel room. 

1.   Room to dump stuff. 

2.   A bidet. 

3.   Soft pillows. Medium to soft mattress, queen size minimum. Not to single mattresses wedged together. 

4.   Decent shower pressure. 

5.   Air con that won't give you the lergie. 

6.   A telephone that you don't need a degree in astro-physics to use. (The phone did not work). 

7.   Decent WiFi. 

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The rooftop had something close to an infinity pool. You had a view of the Cathedral opposite. (Shut on a Sunday). Every now and then we saw the waiter, Thomas. We liked Thomas, he was an enterprising young man. 

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Where to eat in Mallorca

The good people at Hotel Tres were able to offer the following recommendations. The hotel is within walking distance of all three restaurants we frequented. Less than 5 minute walk. 

OMBU - Rating: 8/10 decent food, good service. We got a seat outside both times. Best dish? The Corvina ceviche with avocado, kumquat in syrup and kilos. 

KOA - This was our favourite. No outside seating but very tranquil and classical interiors. Best dish? The 
Golden ceviche, ginger sweet potato, seasonal fruits and fried plantain.

Caballito del Mar we tried on the first night and had the black paella. In fairness that paella lasted us for days, but generally this was the most touristy of all restaurants. 

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Just bear in mind that all restaurants will bring out white bread and olives. Which you won't have asked for, and isn't free. But this covers a service charge that most restaurants in London will charge you for regardless. 

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Shops to visit in Mallorca

The Puzzle shop is the most famous. The lady in charge is a lot of fun. She invites you to solve puzzles and there's nothing more satisfying than proving your manliness than cracking the puzzle in under 30 seconds. 

That only happened once. 

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Opposite you'll find the Vilebrequin store. Of course lots of overpriced swim shorts but it's handy to go in and try some on. I now know what size I am should I find some crop up on eBay. Yes I'm sorry, but I'm not spending 250 Euros on a pair of swim shorts. Do you know how much travel writers get paid? 

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Favourite store has to be Typographia. Now here I did a mini splurge and bought 3 t-shirts. The fit and quality is immense and the designs are quirky. They currently stock in Tate Modern, no international shipping which is nuts. So if you see it, you buy it ok? 

Ice creams are consistently good everywhere. Fill your boots. 

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Train Ride to De Soller and Boat Trip to Magaluf

Sadly I can't recommend the company we booked with as they gave us mis-information which nearly led to us missing our boat. However, you'll find plenty of companies online that you can book through. 

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The train ride through the mountains is a very famous feature of the island and you shouldn't pay more than 50 Euros a ticket. There are no toilets on the train, so don't get caught out. The train ride will take you an hour but it's open-window, cool and feels antiquated in a good way. 

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The full day boat ride is also a very popular touristy thing to do. Both beaches you'll reach on the tours are saturated. No space to build a sandcastle. But you can jump off the boat and cool down in the sea. The food is thrown in and is actually quite tasty. 

It's a good way to spend a day if you're running a tight budget. 

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Hop on Hop Off

These run fairly regular outside of the Cathedral. It will cost you 18 euros a ticket. Nice way to kill an hour but you'll learn very little about the city from the commentary. 

I actually dozed off. But don't let that deter you. It's important to take bus tours I think to get a feel for the city. 

Budapest: Things to See and Do | The Ultimate Travel Guide

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Today I'm going to let guest editor Peter Brooker talk more about his recent travels. His last article 48 hours in Bilbao will prove to be a very useful tool for me as I weigh up options for future weekends away. Today he's going to talk about his recent weekend break in Budapest. With some tips, hints, how to budget etc.

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I'd been once before to Budapest. Like most men subjected to a long week working on a production line, rueing missed opportunities and poor life choices,  a weekend reprieve in Budapest was just the antidote.

That was me ten years ago, embarking on a friends stag do that would prove to be one of the most blistering, relentless anarchic weekends of my life. Much like the Kennedy case file, most of the information of what happened that weekend can't be revealed until all parties have effectively, well, died. Let’s just say we lost the hotel deposit before we even got to our room.

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This recent trip as a sober man in his forties with a respectable girlfriend, featured none of that debauchery. Although I did get to see packs of disaffected men on the fringes of being thrown off planes, marauding through the Hungarian capital with lecherous dog-hungry eyes.

I don't think it's an exclusively British thing, but we have a fetishistic nature about us that makes us easier to spot when on holiday.

Where to stay in Budapest?

The Baron Residence Hotel is acutely central in Budapest. Relatively cheap, 3 nights for 282 GBP with breakfast thrown in. Breakfast is bare-bones; hardly the flagship for Budapest cuisine but can tie you over for a few hours.

It's not an Instagram-type hotel. I didn't get one shot inside. But not all hotels were designed for the purpose of showing off. This is classic eastern-European utilitarian style.

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Where to Eat in Budapest?

There are many great Hungarian restaurants on a street called Raday Utca. This is mainly populated by locals and we were recommended this street by the concierge at the hotel.

The ONYX is probably one of the most expensive restaurants, we didn't go there but looked inside and it looked very swish.

The Kacsa Restaurant is quiet and out of the way. Little old school in terms of decor but I want to give them a mention because the gentleman who served us was genuine and well put together.

Anna Cafes are dotted around and is the best place for lemonades and people watching.

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Things to see in Budapest

I'd definitely take a walk up to Liberty Statue. It’s incredibly scenic with plenty of lofty views of the Danube. You don't really get those views in London. Primrose Hill maybe, unless you do the Shard or certain public high rises.

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The National Gallery has some great photography exhibitions. Especially the Fortepan exhibition Every past is my Past. This gallery has pictures mined from clearance sales, discarded photos, most handed down through generations. The owners and subjects are sometimes unidentified. There are currently 111,000 photos in the collection.

Up in the dome you'll also get some awe inspiring shots of the city.

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The Labirintus

So who knew that Dracula was a real person? Vlad the Impaler was a nasty piece of work. He tortured people by shaving the skin of his victims feet, coating the open wounds in salt and had goats lick them.

Vlad the Impaler was imprisoned here in these endless labyrinthian tunnels which is worth a visit, but you'll be pleased to leave.

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Saint Stephens Basilica

The Americans will have you believe the stairs leading up to the dome go on forever. Don't believe a word of it. A modest schlepp will get you to one of the best views overlooking the city.

The exhibitions inside are not modernised or curated in a way that is the least bit interesting. However, the Cathedral is beautiful inside and well worth a look.

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Where to go in Budapest for movie lovers

Budapest is a city utilised my filmmakers for its post-apocalyptic brutalism that is littered within the capital and its surrounding districts. The Stock Exchange Palace for example was used as Harrison Ford's home in Bladerunner 2049.

The Whale Building on the river was used in The Martian and Heroes Square was partly used for opening sequence in Red Heat.

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If you’re a lover of movie memorabilia you can check out Ernst Gallery for eclectic rare movie posters. There is the Pinball Museum which houses the Rocky Pinball machine and you can also have fun spotting 007 number plates on the cars around town. We only saw one but there are plenty of 00's or 'other agents' as I amusingly coined. (Yes the girlfriend rolled her eyes).

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Some last tips

The local currency is HUF and a lot of places only take cash. There are plenty of ATM's dotted around the capital so you shouldn't worry.

The airport is about a 30 GBP Uber ride into the centre of Budapest. It's a very walkable city and we didn't get any transportation when we were there. We covered 50 km in the 3 days we were there by foot, so make sure you bring comfy shoes.

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The Gellert Hotel is an infamous place for thermal spas. We went inside the hotel to look around but we didn't frequent the spas, despite it being highly recommended. The Szabadsag Bridge is opposite and great for INSTA photos as you can climb up a small section.

The city is very chewed up currently as a lot of construction work is going on in a lot of the squares. This could fizzle a romantic weekend away if you're hoping to see Budapest this year.

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48 Hours in Bilbao | Things to see and do

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Today I'm going to hand over the reins to my guest editor Peter Brooker to talk about his recent trip to Bilbao, Spain. Next year Bilbao will host some UEFA cup games so anyone travelling for the footie might find this interesting. Also as Peter will no doubt discuss, it's a veritable James Bond location.

Hello everyone, I'm going to give you a breakdown of things to do (and avoid) if you're planning on spending a weekend in Bilbao.

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WHERE TO STAY in BILBAO

I have been twice to Bilbao and have stayed in both the COSMOV Hotel and the MERCURE hotel. The latter being more convenient for business, the former being a nice bag-drop boutique hotel that is equipped well enough for an enjoyable stay.

Both located centrally and a minute’s walk from the Guggenheim.

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BEST MUSEUMS in BILBAO

The first things you'll discover a distinct lack of decent museums in Bilbao. I have to put the Guggenheim down as a disappointment. The building itself is beautiful. Made of Titanium, Glass and Limestone. It's reminiscent of a beached ship, an ode to the lustrous ship making history of Bilbao.

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It's also incredibly vast inside. Unfortunately no photography of any nature is allowed inside, but in all honesty, the Modern Art fails to live up to its incredulous chassis in which it is housed.

That said, if you're staying at the Cosmov hotel, I recommend buying your admission tickets at the hotel lobby as it will include breakfast. 24 Euros each, and the breakfast was one of the best we (my girlfriend and I) had all weekend.

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FINE ARTS MUSEUM - in Bilbao was far better. Perhaps because I'm into photography more. The current photography exhibition of Los Zubiaurre. Memoria grafica is utterly beguiling.

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Have a look at this photo of a mother and father receiving a letter from their son. It's the reason why we should all write more. Much more. Admission 10 Euros each.

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BILBAO ATHLETICO - the stadium tour is undoubtedly the best attraction in Bilbao, no matter what your views on soccer are. It's an hour long, immersive and you get a sense of what it's like to be a professional footballer. With access to the press box, the changing rooms, the dugouts and the trophy room.

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WHERE TO EAT IN BILBAO 

This is what let the city down big time. Not enough variety and not enough middle tier pricing. There are 22 Michelin-starred restaurants in Bilbao, but when you're traveling on a budget, minimum course orders starting from 50 Euros are a definite no-no.

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The drop off then is quite staggering. We did find a quirky dig called Coppola, inspired by the owners love for the director Francis Ford Coppola. Decent pizza, nice decor, even prices. But Pizza?! Do I have to schlepp to Spain to get a decent pizza?

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We only stumbled upon this little place by accident as all other half-decent restaurants were shut at 6pm. Some only taking bookings after 9pm. Come on Bilbao! What about Johnny foreigner that likes his dinner done by 7pm and his slippers on by 10pm latest?

A friend of mine called me out after my seemingly blasphemous rant about the Spanish and their fixation on white bread. Apparently it's 'part of the culture. The bread isn't like the white bread you get in Tesco. It's much lighter and really good. Taking away that thread would be like stopping serving chips in a chippy. (Sic). It's not for the tourists at all'.

Well with the last part, I have to agree.

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We did find one restaurant that provided excellent service and quality food. Called The Premierk. Out of the way, but you can find it on the way to the Bilbao Stadium.

MAIN ATTRACTION 

Being a James Bond fan you will at least get to see a James Bond location. The spot where Pierce Brosnan landed as he abseiled out of a Swiss Bankers balcony can be found directly across the Guggenheim and in front of the Jeff Koons Puppy. 

I have written extensively about getting to the balcony, (not open to the public) on my blog here.

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Novotel London Brentford: Hotel Review

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Today I'm going to give you a look inside the Novotel in Brentford. Let’s start with the location. For many the very word 'Brentford' doesn't necessarily smack London and it's hardly the poster child for the business hospitality.

Or so you thought.

I'm here to persuade you otherwise. I've got a place in my heart for Brentford. I was first stationed here in my previous life as an I.T specialist. Making then a more joyless commute from Kent to Middlesex.

Nowadays its rather more accessible.

How to get to Novotel in Brentford

You can catch a bus from Northfields Station from the Piccadilly line that takes circa 10 mins and run every 8 mins. There's the Brentford over ground station itself, and it's just a short drive from the beauty of Kew Royal Botanical Gardens.

For anyone coming into town that likes their Rugby you're a stone’s throw from Twickenham and only 20 minutes from Heathrow.

The Novotel is a very business focused hotel. Plenty of USB ports and plug sockets to deal with the woes of modern technology. There is a beautiful ornate wood pique palm tree structure that sprawls from the floor and coverts the ceiling as if it's trying to penetrate the other side.

The reception is also very modern and relaxed, just a receptionist with an iMac. Cordial, polite frictionless check-in and check-out.

The lounge is festooned with half cup, armless couches that are haloed by inspection lamps, drooping from the thinnest of metal arms craning from the floor. In the corners there are design-sofa stations resembling small bulbous rock formations.

Away from the design, the WiFi is terrific. Great upload and download speed throughout the hotel. The gym and the swimming pool have a great sleek appeal. Everything looks like it was installed yesterday.

I didn't bring Charlie with me this time round but you can check in a pet for an additional 15 GBP. So if you're flying into the UK for business, you should certainly consider the Novotel in Brentford. Equidistant between Heathrow and Central London.



Thinking of Getting a Motorbike/Scooter in Bali: Read this before you do

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Bali certainly doesn't have the heightened chaos of Ha Noi, but it can still fairly intimidating if you've never been on a scooter before. Even if you have, it's best you acquaint yourself with a couple of do's and don'ts before you saddle up. 

Scooters are a great way to get around the island and in particular, short journeys around each location you're visiting, like Canggu. You can of course use Taxi's and they have GoJek app for rides, similar to Uber. Which is cheap. Although I've heard it can take a long time to get one booked.

You'll find most cafes, bars, gyms and restaurants all have decent WiFi so you shouldn't have any trouble getting online. 

Prices for scooter rental in Bali will range from 40,000-70,000 IDR per day. (2- 5 GBP). If you're looking to rent a single scooter for a longer period you can often negotiate a better rate. 

SAFETY TIP

Always wear a helmet and never accept a poor conditioned one. It has to be immaculately presented and well fitted. If they do not have one, do not hire the bike. Move on to find a better place.

DO's 

  • When over taking you must use your horn. Otherwise you run the risk of over riders veering into you. 

  • Keep a look out for wildlife. You'll share the road with more dogs, cows and wildfowl than you thought possible. 

  • Take your driver’s licence with you. You can get a temporary Balinese driving license (tourist driver's license) from the police station in Denpasar within a day (although this is not technically required to hire a scooter). Check with your hotel or ask any of the locals, they will know how you can get there. The cost is usually 22-23 GBP. Bring I.D and your sober face. 

If you have had no experience with riding, you can take a 2 hour training course. (Drop me a comment in the box below if you need any help). Alternatively you can always get your friend or someone from your group to assist you.

GOING FAST

Going fast (although don't) is easy. It's the going slow that is hard and that’s when most accidents happen. So train doing tight corners slowly in a car park until you feel ready to hit the road. 

The main traffic flow is rarely faster than 40km/h. However, 40km/h on a scooter is a different beast to doing 40km/h in the safety of your Ford Fiesta. The main roads are fun and you can (and should) get up to speeds around 60-70km/h. 

You'll find there is a cacophony of horns on the streets. Don't mistake this for London traffic sounds. These horns are to let people know of your presence. If you get beeped it's not out of aggression. 

LASTLY

If you're thinking of upping your fitness levels you can always hire a push bike. The heat is quite something out here so this might not be for you. It's always an option and many people cycle around in Bali due to lack of training/confidence on a motorbike. 

 

The Best London-Centric Content Creators on Instagram

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Instagram is still a wonderful place to hang out. Despite the negativity and influencer backlash that was doing the round earlier this year. I've really tried to turn my account into a place for positivity. It also gives me a chance to keep abreast of people’s lives that I would otherwise struggle to keep in touch with.

I'm going to be in Bali for a couple more days then it's back to blighty. Which I have missed. London has everything. It's home and I can't wait to see Charlie and the folks again. I've made a list of some London centric Instagram accounts that act as cosy reminders. Almost like love notes in my lunch box.

Here are some of the Best London-Centric Content Creators on Instagram.

ALEX COCKWILL

(Images above) Alex is an occasional engineer and has international imagery from New York, Sweden and soon Hong Kong and Sydney. You can check out his Instagram grid here.

There is something very gritty and urban about Alex's work. You can almost taste London through the photos. 

London Tip #1

You should definitely head over to the ArcelorMittal Orbit in East London. The area near Stratford has been rejuvenated since the London Olympics in 2012. A great place to shop, eat and abseil. 

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LONDON 

Simply @London. Wow there is a guy that got in there quick with the Instagram handles. With over 2.2 million followers it's going to be top of most searches. It's an Editorial Platform & Creative Agency and for your chance to be featured you can tag #ThisIsLondon.

London Tip #2

If you're coming to London and you so happen to be a James Bond fan. There are numerous James Bond locations in and around London. I've posted a blog about those here.

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UK SHOOTERS 

They shoot a lot around the UK, not exclusive to London but their London content is sublime. And through the prism of UK Shooters its highly distinguishable. With regular meet ups it's a great community spirit. Tag #uk_shooters and shop the merchandise here.

London Tip #3

If you're in town for a few days, maybe your hotel doesn't have a gym but you want to keep your fitness levels up, then check out KOBOX gym. I am an ambassador for the club, very proud of that. You can find them on Baker Street, The City and Kings Road, Chelsea. I've included them in my blog why I love London which you can check out here.

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BEN VISUALS

The shame of it is Ben hasn't posted for a while. Come back Ben!! However, there are 156 posts on his feed and they're all a mini slice of escapism. Shot through obscure frames, with art nouveau eye, disruptive picture plains. I like this guy, shot on a Canon, only 16 apparently.

London Tip #4

You might be looking to get some nice scenic shots along the canals. The Thames isn't the most picturesque of city rivers. This isn't Lucerne you know. But I've mapped out a few nice canal walks where I've taken Charlie before. You can check out that blog here.

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SHOTS DR

The infamous yet elusive Damien Rivoire. Specialises in London's streets and towers. With a penchant for the most gorgeous sunrises and sunsets. All taken with a Nikon D3200. 

London Tip #5

Coming to London and need a trim? I recommend Ruffians who have 3 barber stores in London. 

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HOLBROOK SHOTS

Luke Holbrook takes some of the most amazing photos of London. He uses a Sony A7iii and when he's on the move, a Galaxy S9+. I love the slow capture shots. Gives London a late night Bladerunner vibe.  

London Tip #6

Coming to London and want to know which hashtags to use? I always use #VisitLondon in my stories. Also tagging me will help as I will give you thumbs and buy you coffee! 

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TMNIKONIAN

You can buy his prints, contact details in his bio. Maybe I should start selling my prints. Leave a comment below if you think there is a market for me selling life sized cardboard cuts out of me without a shirt on. How about the Carl Thompson calendar, will surely fetch 50p on eBay right? 

London Tip #7

For an awesome place to shop and eat, where people might not find you, try out St Christopher's Place

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BASTAKE PICS

Basim (hope that's his name) is a London based Photographer (naturally) and a VFX artist. He has an eye for colour and architecture. But from unconventional vanguards. I love his innovations and the crispness of his delivery. 

London Tip #8

What about a Rooftop bar? London has some of the best in the world and I recommend the Santa Monica at Skylounge. I've made some notes over on the blog

 

Top Places for Brunch in Canggu, Bali

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Back in Bali people. That will be for sure, the name of my next coffee table book. It's my predictive text response for where people ask where I am currently. Admittedly it's been quite the tour. Hopefully my travel tips and Vlogs have been of use for anyone looking to travel to Sydney, Bali, Philippines, Singapore etc. 

Today I'm going to extend my travel advice in Bali, and give you all the best top places for brunch in Canggu. 

CRATE 

It's true what they say about Crate in Canggu, they really do have the fastest internet in town. An amenity not to be underestimated for a travelling blogger looking to upload his vlogs and insta stories. 

You'll look to pay 200k for 2 meals and 2 smoothies. (Just over 10 GBP which is more than digestible, pun intended).  

Great for INSTA photos, everything is presented like it was designed for a fitness magazine supplement. Extra bonus points for free refills (not sure if that was just for me) and for brewing your own brand of coffee. 

MOTION

The most amazing smoothie you'll find in all of Bali can be sourced at Motion cafe. Go for the Banana Gluten free smoothie and pancake and thank me later.

The food is fresh, full of flavour, healthy and always filling! Places for parking the scooter are available. Might sound obvious but not all cafes in Bali offer this. 

ORGANIC CAFE

The air conditioning inside is a God send. Especially for those just coming from a training session. (You may have seen me in boot camp a couple of times on my INSTA stories. I feel like I'm training to take on Drago out here). 

The prices are very reasonable and the location is just a stone's throw away from Batu Belig Beach.

NUDE

Seriously recommend the smashed avocado on toast and ricotta corn fritters. It's great for people watching as you can sit outside and watch the world and his dog go by. 

Healthy and delicious and I found NUDE had the best service of all the cafes in Canggu. Remember to smile people, it doesn't take much. 

OKA'S BAKERY 

I found Oka's Bakery to be the best place for value for money. Generally eating in Canggu is relatively cheap. But if you're traveling on a real budget then this place is the best. Great espresso machine coffee, big portions of food and very delicious sweets like the snow balls. 

Recommend the breakfast wrap. 

LOFT

Some of the best Vegan options in Canngu. Not exclusively Vegan however. I recommend the beetroot hummus, the best I had in Bali. 

It's a very popular spot and good for socialising if you're looking to share stories with fellow surfers, travellers etc. 

 

 

48 Hours in Sydney: Best places to visit

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Sydney was amazing. I wish I had more time (and money) to stay longer. However, I ticked somethings off the list, not everything I got to try but got some great tips and advice from the locals and people on Instagram. 

Here for you is a list of amazing things to do in Sydney.

The Rocks

The Russell Boutique Hotel is nice and a good base for your stay, slightly off the beaten track (albeit in a tourist destination) - it will be relatively quiet during the week but very noisy/boozy area on Friday& Saturday nights.

If you need to grab a quick French breakfast/brunch close to your hotel there’s the local la Renaissance.

If you’re after a kangaroo, crocodile or Emu pizza try the Australian Heritage Hotel

Close by you is the Museum of Contemporary Art (entrance on George St, and backs on to harbour/Circular Quay). MCA has exhibitions which honour and reflect the Aboriginal indigenous people of Australia which gives a different historical perspective to the European settlement. Cafe on rooftop has nice outlook, and another on ground floor to people watch on Circular Quay. Good gift shop.

Also handy is the Sydney Harbour Bridge so how about doing the bridge climb, guys?!

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Circular Quay Area

A stroll from The Rocks is the bustling hub of Circular Quay:

Opera House. Legendary Opera House and a signature landmark. If you are there after May 24 you’ll be able to see it spectacularly lit up during Sydney Vivid Festival.

The Royal Botanic Gardens are lovely to stroll through, just next to Opera House. Once upon a time there used to be tribes of Flying Foxes/bat like creatures living in the trees - quite creepy little things but at dusk each night they’d fly en masse past the window of my hotel (beside Hyde Park/Darlinghurst). Authorities tried to get rid of them because they were destroying the trees, so not sure if you'll still find them in the Gardens.

Top restaurants with dress circle views of Circular Quay are Quay, Aria and Bennelong - expensive but world class.

For more casual, buzzy evening dining by the water but without the big views perhaps go to Cowper Wharf, Woolloomooloo - There are a line-up of eateries, some of the better ones are China Girl, Otto.

There are lots of awesome cheaper, cheerful restaurants in inner city suburbs of Surry Hills, Darlinghurst, Chippendale so worth researching yourself to find your favourite kind of cuisine and vibe.

Definitely explore Surry Hills, Darlinghurst, Redfern if you're into your street photography. Old worker cottages, classic pubs etc. 

Circular Quay is home to the city's Ferry transport hub and you must go somewhere on a ferry as it gives a unique perspective and a good look at the beautiful harbourside properties.

Some of the trips you could do by ferry are:

Taronga Zoo Ferry - they have some native animals there at the zoo and it's a quick trip by water with nice views back to the city from the northern side of the city.

Rose Bay Ferry - go for lunch at Catalina, Rose Bay. (Ask for seat with view) You’ll go past some of Sydney's most expensive real estate on the way there in the Eastern suburbs of Double Bay, Elizabeth Bay, Darling Point, Point Piper. [This is the ferry Favourite Hooman took to go to his school, Cranbrook in Bellevue Hill]. 

Rose Bay wharf is where the seaplanes land and take-off, so if you really want to cover some ground and maybe fly up to Palm Beach where the rich and famous have their weekend houses, then maybe consider a sea-plane tour! (There seem to be two companies that do tours to the same restaurants/destinations that accommodate the seaplane)

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Bondi Area

Bondi Beach - Yes, it's a cliche destination, and yes, you might be underwhelmed in terms of the beach but don’t not go as it epitomises the Aussie beach lifestyle. 

If you have an Opal prepaid public transport card you can get a 333 bus from city to the beach cheaply and reasonably quickly. 

Bondi Beach is very busy at weekends. Visit iconic restaurant Icebergs which I really like…the views are highly instagramable but book seat with view.

Another good place to eat is Seans Panorama.

While you’re at Bondi Beach and feel like some fresh sea air/exercise then the Bondi to Bronte coastal walk is spectacular. 

Or have a swim in the saltwater pool below Icebergs!

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Paddington suburb

If you want to get out of the city and have a wander in a pleasant local suburb then there’s a strip of Paddington you could look at:

Start at the little pocket of fashion shops around Glenmore Rd, then you can walk up Oxford Street taking in the quirky little William St shopping area which runs the length of the street, ending with coffee in Alimentari. An awesome design store you should check out is Dinosaur Designs where you should buy a little vase or platter to take home as a souvenir.

Beautifully merchandised tiny showroom. Paddo Inn is an upmarket pub for local upwardly mobile, Parlour X a fashion store, international labels in interesting historic building. If you need an emergency blow-wave my old hairdresser is Valonz. Smart modern bistro for dinner in the area is Centennial Hotel.

So that is but a few recommendations around the city for a first or second time visitor!

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The Whitsundays & How to Get There | One Off the Bucket List

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I hope you all enjoyed my latest YouTube video about Whitsundays. This article will just be a quick debrief on how to get there, where to stay and also a chance for me to share some more photos I took on my trip. Which was awesome by the way, thanks for asking. 

The easiest way I found to get to Whitsundays was flying in from Sydney or Brisbane to Hamilton Island. Virgin Australia do a flight out there and it will take you about an hour from Brisbane (longer from Sydney).

From there, Cruise Whitsundays operate a transfer to Hamilton Island to Airlie Beach. This takes about an hour and will set you back 60 USD. 

Airlie Beach harbour is buzzing. A vibrant beach, very much the hub for people either heading off to Whitsunday Island, The Great Barrier Reef or Fraser Island. I stayed there for 4 days and didn't see the same face twice. 

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I booked ahead for the tour through Red Cat Adventures (not affiliated) although if you have time it might be an idea for you to rock up on Airlie Beach and ask around the various travel agents. Ask for the best price, also if you're staying on a boat or hotel. I've heard the boats are more community focused if you're wanting a more social experience. 

There's many tours. You can book in advance, but you can also rock up on the day and choose a tour that’s right for you. I opted for the Ride to Paradise tour. Which is now the new name I give to my little gentleman. Replacing his previous alias, Big Wednesday

As you'll see in my video I got to enjoy many splendours. Including relaxing in a hammock with a gorgeous cup of tea overlooking the stretched greens and unspoilt beaches. The dorms were plush; fit for a James Bond film. The food was inclusive and included BBQ grilled fish put on by the crew. 

Included in the package is snorkelling, canoeing, kayaking and paddle boarding. Sure the weather wasn't the best. Rained at times and the clouds looked murderous on some days. Still, made for some great photos that I'll include here.

Overall one off the bucket list and a very well put together tour. If you have any questions about Whitsundays then drop me a comment and I'll help out where I can. 

 

 

Alpas Hostel in Siargao: Hostel Review

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Another day another hostel. Today I'm going to review the Alpas Hostel in Siargao. The quaint retreat is located in General Luna, within 1.4 miles of Guyam Island and 1.4 miles of Cloud 9 Surfing Area.

I am starting to feel like Ed Norton in Fight Club. Letting go of all material possessions. I'm not missing TV. Not missing the meetings, the photoshoots, the constant chase for payments from brands. 

I am missing my family, a certain someone and of course, twinkle toes himself, Charlie the Frenchie. When we are reunited I imagine it will look like the end credits of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Timely reference. 

The Alpas Siargao offers a garden, a shared lounge a bar and most importantly a hammock. The property is 4.3 miles from Daku Island and 7.5 miles from Naked Island. (Not as kinky as it sounds). 

So let’s start with the bad and work our way to the good. 

TRUE - there are mosquito nets to use although I survived the night just fine with anti-pest repellent spray. 

TRUE - in some reviews I've read there is apparently an, 'unwater-like' smell to the supply. It was something I came across but wasn’t bad at all.

TRUE - There is WiFi, although quite slow. But there are many local bars and cafes where you'll be able to post those precious photos. 

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The best things about Alpas Hostel 

The ambience is really is what you'd expect. Relaxed, serene, picturesque. The staff are helpful and the owner was very good to me. Helping me hire a motorbike and giving me an itinerary of things to see and do around the islands. 

It can't be underestimated finding non-objective local advice. So many places are dependent on sending you to certain bars, shops and restaurants to earn commission. You only have to visit Hoi An to figure that out. 

The property is a hut style accommodation and whilst it doesn't come with a beach view, it is walking distance to the beach. Also you'll find a laundry shop, very important finding these conveniences when on the road.

It's a relatively new place so I'm hoping next time I'm back they'll make some modifications. But I'll definitely come back here. It's very chilled. It's very quiet. It's a bit of me. 

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Carl‘s Island Inn in Bantayan Island: Hotel Review

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I need to tell you about Carl's place. I know, you're probably going to expect me to make some pithy remark about nominative determinism. Still you have to admit it's a little uncanny right? 

Carl‘s Island Inn in Bantayan Island became my sanctuary for a few days. It has the basic amenities, fridge, shower, toiletries. The WiFi is super quick and I got satellite TV in my bedroom. 

What really distinguishes Carl‘s Island Inn like no other place is the service offered. I'd like to think it's because my name is Carl that I got a few special handshakes from the help. Who knows. But everyone came armed with a smile on their face. 

The Hotel is ran by a German-Filipino Couple. The Owner Karsten treated me like royalty and gave me a decent itinerary. He helped me organise some scooters and pointed me in the right direction as to where I could hire a boat to see some Whale Shark Site Seeing! If you want shuttle to the docks they will drive you with their private tricycle. Tony the concierge come-super hero transporter always had a smile on his face and made every trip seem like a pleasure. 

Carl‘s Island Inn is a short five minute walk from the beach and circa 15 minute walk from the city centre. Your best bet is to rent a scooter from the hotel and explore the island. The breakfast was healthy and had a good range. Continental mostly and included in the bill so no hidden costs on checkout. 

Personal note. You'll do well to eat healthy in the Philippines. Outside of The Farm in San Benito I've found the country crucially devoid of any healthy restaurants. It's not like the Bali vibe where you have smoothie stalls at every turn. It's very westernised, very fried chicken and not finger lickin' good. 

It's a very eco-conscious hotel that allows you to refill your bottle for free. They lend you a reusable stainless steel water bottle and canvas tote during your stay so you don't add to the single use plastic waste. Thumbs up for that one! 

Carl‘s Island Inn has only been open a short spell. Not even had a review on Trip Advisor yet at the time of me writing this. I'd say it's got a great future ahead of it. 

 

The Farm at San Benito: The Ultimate Wellness Break

Today I want to talk about the stay I had down at the wellness resort, The Farm at San Benito. You may have caught some of my Instagram stories of me unwinding by the waterfall pretending to read War and Peace.

The Farm at San Benito is a two drive from Metro Manilla and can be found tucked away within the Philippines’ Batangas hinterland. It will take you circa 2 hours to get there by taxi from Manilla for approximately £40. The traffic in Manilla is horrendous, best advised to travel at night. 

The Farm at San Benito is a wellness retreat that provides Holistic treatments conducted by licensed and competent doctors, nutritionists, therapists, living food chefs, yoga teachers and fitness coaches.

There are also peacocks parading the grounds. I need to mention this because we don't get to see peacocks every day in Clapham and there is something quite divorcing from all things rational when you see a peacock fan its take in full florescence.

Every suite has a beautiful ornate door and the interiors are all varnished-wood, a cute space for two. You get the sense that you're camping in style. Water is on hand, some complimentary drink are offered at reception.

The food, or living cuisine as the staff will refer to, is one of the most distinct feature about the resort. The restaurant is aptly named ALIVE and serves solely vegetarian and vegan dishes. The vegetables and fruit are all procured on site by the surrounding forests.

The food was delicious, I gorged on organic corn soup, salad spring roll in rice paper and vegan spaghetti for 5 days straight. 

It serves as a reminder of how rare we get to eat fresh food. Food direct, provided by the forest.

The healthy cuisine is designed to cleanse your digestive system of toxins whilst the plant based diet will naturally boost your immune system.

The amenities on hand are a fully functional gym, swimming pool and golf course.

One of the main reasons why people descend upon the The Farm at San Benito is for the treatments. They have their own full time medical centre that houses 4 doctors and 8 nurses.

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I got to utilise the spa which is otherwise known as the healing sanctuary. The nurses were already up-to speed on my health and vital signs as every guest is asked to complete a questionnaire and undergo an assessment.

The medical staff do treatments in concert with whatever medical conditions you might have and coordinate the healing benefits to fully immerse guests in a holistic experience.

Overall I can't recommend this place enough. I even managed to abstain from caffeine for five days. (Although back on the caffeine train now I must confess). But I could have stayed here for a month. I'd seriously recommend a long stay here at The Farm if you have any long-lasting health issues. Maybe you're convalescing from a recent surgery etc. 

I'm going to leave a list of their treatments below. If you have any questions don't hesitate to comment in the comments section and I'll get back to you. 

They also have a European Wellness centre that will offer further information. 

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Description of Treatments:

Bio Med Scan

This is a Biologic diagnostic device that analyses the functional state of the patient in terms of heart rate variability; It also evaluates the autonomic nervous system, hormonal regulation and energy resources, psycho- emotional status, adaptation level and biological age. 

Bio Medi Pulse Body Check

A diagnostic device designed to read the human pulse with specific pressure testing methods to reveal the bioenergetics state of the body. Employing the principles of acupuncture, these pressure points correspond to specific organs in the body. This diagnostic tool is a reliable alternative for identifying root causes of organ disturbances, prevention of diseases and monitoring of certain treatment modalities.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT)

The HBOT is medicine’s most efficient method of transporting oxygen to cells throughout the body. When you breathe oxygen at normal atmospheric pressure, it is transported on the hemoglobin in your red blood cells. Under pressure, however, oxygen dissolves in the plasma, cerebrospinal fluid in the brain and spinal cord, lymph, and other body fluids. It is therefore easily delivered to all tissues including those with poor blood supply thus providing them tremendous healing benefits of oxygen.

Rasha Morphogenetic Harmonizer System

The RASHA Treatment is an energetic medicine device that is based on the work of Dr. Royal Rife, who scientifically proved that everything has a resonant frequency signature of its own. For example, the carcinoma cancer cell has a resonant frequency of 2128 Hz. When a cell is resonated at its own resonant frequency, the cell is destroyed. Cancer, parasites, viruses, bacteria and other organisms all have their own resonant frequencies. The frequencies that destroy these organisms are known as "Rife Frequencies". The difference between Rife frequencies and our RASHA Morphogenetic frequencies is our technology utilizes scalar plasma energy (energy encoded with information) while Rife frequencies (energy) do not

HILOT TAPAL (Warm Massage)

Ancient time’s treatments use the purest ingredients naturally grown in the forest. Fresh herbs and medicinal plants were used intuitively in addressing particular concerns. It will be proper place on the body energy points. If you experiencing trapped cold and energetically imbalanced heat it will be unblocked and ones’ vitality will be revived.

These authentic and traditional treatment practice in many provinces; local Barrios that uses fresh medicinal herbs, lana oil, and heated glass to glide on the affected part of the body.

Acqua Lymphatic Therapy

Beneficial in reduction in swelling, detoxification of the body, regeneration of tissue, reduction in the symptoms of chronic pain and fibromyalgia, improvement of venous conditions, relief of chronic fatigue, sinusitis, acne and allergies. Includes:

·       20 Mins. of Dry Brushing

·       5 Mins. of Infrared Sauna

·       5 Mins. Steam Bath

·       2 Mins. of Cold Bucket Shower

·       10 Mins. Pressure Pool

·       3 Mins. Thermal Foot Massager

·       15 Mins. Thermal Bed with head and Foot Massage

 

Bali Destination Guide: Seminyak - Gili Islands - Canngu - Ubud - Uluwatu

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Today I'm going to give you a brief destination guide and things to do in Bali. On my trip so far I've managed to cover Seminyak, Gili Islands, Canngu, Ubud and Uluwatu.

My thoughts on SEMINYAK

This is the most touristy part of Bali. I flew into the Ngurah Rai International Airport, also known as Denpasar Airport, which is roughly 10k outside of Seminyak.

If you're wondering where to stay in Bali, I spent a couple of nights in the Legian which you can read about on my blog here.

There are plenty of options, mainly a lot of swanky beach clubs on the beach front and they have been done up nice. Clearly there's been a lot of money invested here in Seminyak over the past decade.

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My only reservations about Seminyak is that it feels very disjointed. It's too hot to walk anywhere and the place is very dispersed with bars and beaches sprawled out. Taxi's to and from is the only way to fly in this place. Like most touristy places I find it lacks a certain character, or soul. 

That said, if you like your creature comforts then find the right spot and drop anchor. Albeit in a hotel or bar along the beach. The beaches are long, white and the waves look like something you'd see from the final act of Point Break.

Next stop I ventured 20 minutes up the coast to Canngu. 

What's it like in Canngu?

The vibe is better in Canngu. My kind of place really. You know when you're feeling right at home when you start searching for prices of local real estate. 

I had the privilege of staying in one of the most amazing hostels. It was owned by a Turkish gentleman, a very kind and gentle soul. There were beers in the fridge and you paid it like an honesty box. 

Even on check in I asked does he want me to pay now? He insisted I pay when I was ready and already a bond was formed. I had a private room which cost me no more than £10-£15 a night. 

The hostel was populated by an assortment of wildlife. Cats, dogs, goats and what not. All seemingly sunning themselves on barker loungers like they owned the place. 

As a bonus I found a great barber nearby a decent cross-fit gym and a tattoo parlour. 

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By means of getting around you'll need a moped. Remember to go slow around corners. Ideally you need to be getting used to a moped before you head out here. It's actually easier to go fast than it is to go slow. Going fast on the straights no problem. Slowly negotiating bends in the rain takes more due diligence

Canngu is filled with creative people, artisans. They have the right kind of crowds in this place. And there's more to Canngu than just the beach bars. The food is great, it's very wellness-focused. You'll find plant food restaurants, smoothie bars etc. Also the bars sell all kind of milk for those that are lactose intolerant. 

From there I ventured down to Uluwatu

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I had a press discount stay at the Six Senses in Uluwatu. An incredibly picturesque and romantic cliff face resort. I have written all about my stay in the resort here

Uluwatu is really a surfers paradise. It's quiet not much to do. It's littered with taxis. Like Seminyak its equally dispersed, but less intense. Lets move on to Ubud. 

The jungle with 1000 temples

You heard me. Ubud can only be described as the jungle with 1000 temples. It is one of the most beautiful, serene and quaint places you'll ever visit.

You'll have an orgy of wellness hotels to choose from. You may have heard of this place through the yoga retreats that are rife here. 

Ubud really is one of the best places to visit in Bali. 

The Gili Islands 

Lastly I just want to touch on the Gili Islands. Made up of three islands, Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air. If you want to know where the best place to stay on Gili T is then check out my review of Gilifit hostel on the blog

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In Gili Trawangan the nightlife isn't the best for my money. Still there is plenty of fun to be had, fellow travellers converge and it's a chilled atmosphere. One of the most enjoyable must do things in Gili is the snorkeling. You can scuba dive, hang around and do some work if you have to in the sunset bars. Once you're in the sea you're never more than 10 metres away from a turtle. one even photobombed my photo. 

For cafes check out the Banyan cafe, they do the best smoothies and breakfast bowls in Gili T. To get around you'll have to cycle as there are no cars on the island. 

 

The Six Senses Uluwatu Hotel Review – The Most romantic Hotel in Bali?

The Six Senses Uluwatu, Bali is the sort of cliff face resort that you'd expect to see in an Iron Man film. Tony Stark would probably have this as a holiday home.

This review of the Six Senses Uluwata will possibly be the easiest one yet. As many of you might already find on Trip Advisor, it's hard to find a fault with this luxury hotel.

It's located in Pecatu, in the southernmost tip of Bali. It's a popular hotel for wedding and honeymoon destinations as it's incredibly romantic and quiet.

My Brother and I checked in at the top of the hill. The rest of the resort is peppered throughout the cliff face, populated further with villas, private and communal swimming pools the further you venture down.

The room was designed with luxury and convenience in mind. UK plug sockets and USB sockets dotted everywhere. There was an outdoor shower and the pressure was sensational.

Inside you have a lot of advanced luxury technology. For example the toilet seat lifts up before you even get a chance to think on whether it's a number 1 or number 2.

But the main USP of the room is the infinity pool that's on the terrace. It overlooks the resort and ocean and the vistas of the ocean are staggering. The colours of the sky changes every other minute.

I did notice there was no milk in the room for coffee. But that's me being quite pedantic. Plus, Six Senses Uluwatu is heavily themed around wellness and planet protectionism.

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The breakfast bread had no gluten, they bottle their own water and we had the option of hand picking our vegetables from the resorts organic garden for our morning juice.

There are two restaurants in the property. We gorged on Japanese food one night, grilled prawn lobster and squid. The second night we had the BBQ. The prices are often something that gets flagged for luxury stays like this.

However, I thought for the money (£50 per BBQ) we got great value. We had some amazing food from the restaurant that was sourced locally and tasted phenomenal.

You're also paying for the views. You're paying for the exceptional service. You need to think of this as more than just food. It's a package deal that quite frankly, I won't find anywhere back home.

TIP for the Six Senses Uluwatu

Don't forget to experience their Kundalini massage at Six Senses spa. I had an hour massage and took full advantage of the gym whilst there. Again, some of the equipment and technology they have in this gym I've not even seen back home.

Treat yourself to an amazing experience, you'll not regret it. If you're planning an Asia trip that involves Singapore, be sure to check out my review on the Six Senses Maxwell on my blog.

The Legian Seminyak Bali Hotel Review – Paradise, I’m Home!

Today I'm going to rhapsodise about the incredible Legian Seminyak Bali Hotel. I read some rave reviews about this place before heading out there and I'm here to tell you, they're all true. 

The Legian Bali is a beachfront property facing the Indian Ocean, if you're booking ahead I can recommend asking for my room 132 for some of the most amazing views from the balcony. 

The luxurious accommodation set in landscaped tropical gardens can be found along Seminyak Beach. 

The hotel is heavily centred around wellness which is a growing trend in exotic resorts. My brother has joined me on this tour and we both enjoyed some morning Yoga sessions on the green outside, followed a spin in the cycling studio. 

Top TIP for The Legian Bali

I signed up for the Hommage Package which entitles you to a free facial. The facial was incredibly soothing and my skin was treated to a treatment that used a combination of plant extracts and essential oils. My face was cleansed, exfoliated and massaged leaving it looking bright and feeling rejuvenated. 

After a workout we enjoyed a relaxing couple of hours in the spa, sauna, steam room and the plunge pool which got us down to minus 20. That was followed by a quick swim in the  three-tiered outdoor pool. I know it sounds like I've stole some poor kids ticket from the Make a Wish Foundation. 

The dinner was michelin star-esq! Tuna tartar slices, scallops, marinated chicken finished with wasabi ice cream. 

Location 

As I mentioned you couldn't be any closer to the beach. The Legian Bali is under ten miles away from Ngurah Rai International Airport and airport transfer is available at an additional charge.

You're within walking distance to the local clubs Ku De Ta and Potatohead which keep their lights on until 2am. It's close to Seminyak village and lots of cafes and shopping.

The Seminyak Square Shopping Mall is 450 yards from the accommodation, while Petitenget Temple is 450 yards from the property.

The rooms 

I got my own desk to write this blog, currently listening to the sounds of waves crashing on the beach. I could listen to that all day. The rooms are spaces, the suites are beautifully decorated with natural fibre furniture and flooring against white walls minimally accented by original artwork. 

The open air lobby is gorgeously decorated in rich dark wood and an array of local art. Check-in was efficient and comfortable. You will never encounter a face that isn't smiling.

Conclusion 

I can't fault any part of this hotel. Every member of staff had a smile on their face. Every pillow was fluffed, every single facet in this hotel was a joy to experience. Many thanks to all the staff at The Legian Seminyak Bali Hotel for making this a stay to remember. 

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Two Nights in Singapore: What You Can Do

I've had an amazing time in Singapore. Weather was perfect and the city is just so clean. OK so it's expensive, there's no getting around that. However, if you've got the budget for it then I've put together a two day itinerary of things to do in Singapore. 

YOGA

As you may have seen in a previous post I stayed in the Maxwell Six Senses Hotel. There you can treat yourself to some one-on-one Yoga sessions in the morning in the shade under the trees. And talking of trees..

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GARDENS BY THE BAY

A beautiful and quite other-worldly place to visit. The Gardens by the Bay is 101 acres of reclaimed land. Comprised of distinctive waterfront gardens – Bay South, Bay East and Bay Central. It's tranquil, serene and offers a 3km waterfront promenade boasting stunning views of the city.

SENTOSA ISLAND

This was transformed from a cultural heritage site to a key tourist destination in Singapore that now receives 20 million visitors a year. It's also entrenched in history, once a British military base and a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp. 

Nowadays you can find Universal Studios here, casinos, golf courses and the infamous Tanjong Beach Club.

EAT CHILLI CRAB

If you don't eat Chilli Crab when in Singapore it's like going to Florida Keys and not trying Conch Fritters. The good news is that you won't have to go to far to look for it. Plenty of restaurants and bars will serve Chilli Crab.

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SINGAPORE SLING AT RAFFLES

Was temporarily closed for refurbishment. They had a pop-up Raffles Bar around the corner to ensure the Singapore dollar was not getting left on the table. This building is historic, but expect to pay up to $30 for the privilege. Even a Virgin Singapore Sling (non-alcoholic) will cost you the same. 

CLARKE & BOAT QUAYS

Clarke Quay is a historical riverside quay in Singapore situated upstream from the mouth of the Singapore River and Boat Quay. During the colonial era, Boat Quay was the commercial centre where barge lighters would transport goods upstream to warehouses at Clarke Quay.

You can hire a boat that will take you around the Quay, very relaxing and educational. Just north from the collection point you'll find some nice places to grab a beer and overlook the river. 

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MARINA BAY SANDS 

You can miss these. 3 gigantic structures that overlook the harbour, visible from almost every hotel balcony. You have to pay around $20 to get to the top. The views are mind blowing and just seeing the fleet of ships and cruise liners that encircle the coastline is mind blowing. 

Inside you have casinos, shopping, cafes, bars etc. 

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FOOD STREET IN CHINA TOWN 

As part of the process to clean up Singapore and make it an exotic travel destination a certain number of things had to happen. All the street market vendors (hawkers) were brought inside. The street food markets can be quite eye opening. Generations of families have ran these stalls and some will be the last generation. 

You can also find the world’s only Michelin Starred street market food stall inside here. 

CLUB STREET

Pretty much does what it says on the tin. Plenty of clubs, some of them close to 100 years old. The street is lined with conserved shophouses that are occupied by restaurants, bars and several galleries. 

ART & SCIENCE MUSEUM

Housed in a building shaped like a Lotus Flower, warmly referred to as the "The Welcoming Hand of Singapore". It's one of the most distinguishable buildings you'll find in the Marina Bay Sands. 

The exhibitions include robotics, artificial intelligence, machine learning and other new technological developments. You'll want to take a 1000 pictures inside this place. It demonstrates clearly how both artists and scientists are helping us see how technologies are transforming the world around us.  

ORCHARD ROAD

Spanning almost 2.2 km, Orchard Road is a swanky, tree-lined one-way boulevard flanked by distinctive shopping malls and hotels.

A lot of shopping, at prices that are not very special, not so cheap anymore for Europeans at least. But it's a great way to kill a couple of hours. You can stroll along and watch people, go inside a department store or galleria to cool off for a while. 

 

 

Six Senses Maxwell: Singapore's Latest Gem

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If you're thinking of traveling to Singapore this year I can certainly recommend the Six Senses Maxwell where I stayed. 

From Singapore Changi Airport, Six Senses Maxwell is a 20-minute taxi ride in the heart of the city and provides the perfect base from which to become acquainted with Singapore’s inspiring sites.

Each of the hotel’s 138 guestrooms and suites are carefully decorated with custom furnishings and original artwork. 

Together with Six Senses Duxton, (just around the corner) the two hotels become Six Senses Singapore and showcase the brand’s ongoing commitment to responsible restoration and conservation. 

The Duxton has more of an Oriental flavour, whilst the Maxwell is steeped in more colonial decor and tradition. 

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The Six Senses Maxwell is exactly the retreat I've been looking for. You can't escape it's underlying themes of wellness; the slim lap pool on the rooftop, the one on one yoga sessions. What better way to start the day?

They run the yoga sessions twice a week and after it left me feeling invigorated and centred for the rest of the day. The pool is also perfect just to jump in and cool down when it gets too hot, which is all the time out here. 

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I've been trying to keep on top of my fitness so having a gym here is paramount to me. So many times people use holiday's as an excuse not to work out. Then when they return from a week of sunning and drinking, they find it that much harder to get back into the routine. 

It's an eco-conscious hotel, they promote sustainability and do not use anything plastic in their hotel. Their turn down service has a very personable feel. Little vessels of Tiger Balm were left and messages of peace encouragement on my pillow. Very Zen, I like it. (I'm assuming they do that for all the guests). 

The Six Senses Maxwell only opened in December 2018 yet it feels like they've hit the ground running. Friendly staff, very well organised as you'd expect. The barman can also knock out a very tasty Sloe Gin Fizz and tonic. 

The bar area is quite resplendent, presented as a cosmopolitan library with thousands of books curated across every genre. I would have loved to have spent a couple of hours reading some, but I didn't. Singapore was on my doorstep, it was time to venture out. 

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Top London Architecture Accounts to Follow on Instagram

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I don't care what you say, this is the best City in the world. We have the bars, the cuisine, the architecture, the history, Savile Row, Carnaby, Soho, need I go on?

If you're not living in London you might follow these generic 'Top London Accounts' and get some beautiful airbrushed pictures that turn London into Disneyland.

Today we're going to zero in on the Top London Architecture accounts to follow on Instagram. It will be a very real authentic look at London, I recommend you follow these Instagram accounts from the people that truly love this city as much as I.

Hazem Aljarallah

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Top of the tree. (See photos above). Every picture looks like it could be its own movie. There's not much to go in Hazem's bio, but his pictures tell many stories. 

Adam Sheath

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Adam has a distilled beauty to his work. Taking little less known pictures that others would miss. (See above). Such as the puddle reflections in the Soho lights as opposed to the lights themselves.

Adam is a London based graphic designer & photographer. Hit me up Adam, be great to do a shoot with you someday.

Brutal Architecture

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Okay so not exclusive to London, but there are many London posts on this account. For those that have to take pictures of London landmarks like Centre Point and the Welbeck carpark, this is the account for you.

New London Architects

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No one paints a better picture of London than these guys. They're bio reads 'Bringing people together to shape a better city'. Which is bunch of empty calories to be honest, but you can't argue that the pictures show you many sides of beautiful London.

David Bleeker

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Oooh check out this fella. I once heard the art to taking a great picture is all in the framing. Well David certainly knows how to frame London in a stunning way. Geometrically my favourite of the bunch so far.

Derelict London

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I don't know about you but there is something dirty/beautiful about forgotten parts of London. It has a serene sadness to it. Many parts of London have suffered due to several boom-bust social economic vicissitudes over the years.

Paul Tallin, author of Derelict London & London's Lost Rivers also does walking tours.