For our one year anniversary last week Liam and I headed to The Montagu in Oxford Circus.
The lavish food is sourced from independent British farms and local award-winning suppliers. This means that while eating their beautifully presented and great tasting food, you can also feel very satisfied that you’ve helped many of our countries businesses. Winning!
As you walk through the revolving doors of this plush hotel, you are faced with a clean and modern, spacious setting and just to the left resides their impressive 4* restaurant.
Mood lighting to perfection, crystal chandeliers and a romantic ambience set the scene. Not to forget the live music – a pianist playing beautiful renditions of popular chart songs.
We went all in; as we were celebrating and all, with a 3 course meal and lots of wine.
Starter: Pea & Ham hock soup
Mains: Roast chicken with swede sauce & veg
Dessert: caramel ganache & popcorn ice cream
Quite possibly the best dessert I have ever had! (And that’s a big statement). I absolutely love caramel and the biscuit and popcorn ice cream complimented it perfectly.. I was so excited I almost forgot to take a picture!
All of our food tasted as good as it looked and the white wine went down a treat.
The real highlight for me was a front-row seat to observe the exhilarating, fast-paced life of a chef in the open plan kitchen!
The Montagu has menus for breakfast, lunch, traditional afternoon tea, dinner and weekend brunch. I would definitely recommend this place to anyone for a special occasion as its relatively priced for what you get and makes for a really enjoyable evening.
I’m pretty sure I’ll be taking up the weekend brunch offer soon too so watch this space!
You’ll find regular English speaking holiday reps come round on the beach each day to promote their bars and other events.
We met a lovely rep called Steph who told us about their new weekly Wednesday boat party ‘Sundance’.
Here’s the impressive $10 package:
A boat party from 2-7pm
A free bucket on arrival of strong Whiskey and mixer
A free Sessions Tshirt
A plate of BBQ food on your return
Not bad for £7 eh?
This party was actually one of our favourite days in Sihanoukville we had so much fun!
The music varied in genre. There was some old Skool garage, house and the odd splash of R’n’B. A mix that I really loved.
Drinks on board weren’t too expensive either, you could grab a bucket for $5..as you can see, me and Simona took full advantage of this..
There were lots of drinking games on board to keep everyone occupied. As 2 couples we didn’t partake in them. Think Ibiza/Malia/Magaluf style fun on a boat.
Though it was thoroughly enjoyable to witness.
Half way through, the boat stopped at Otres Beach for an hour.
We jumped out and grabbed ourselves some food and cocktails from Ibiza bar. Then we all got involved in a game of ultimate tug of war. Europe vs. the rest of the world!
If you fancy chilling there you can just simply enjoy the scenery. Otres beach is lovely and a lot nicer than Serendipity.
After returning to the boat, we watched the lovely sunset over the horizon and then partied the afternoon away.
Making new friends along the way..
Docking around 7pm, we headed back to Sessions bar where we were each greeted with a big plate of BBQ Chicken and rice. Yum!
It was a really enjoyable day out and one I would recommend to anyone for the price.
Be warned though, If you’re looking for a relaxing sunset boat cruise, please do not book on this one.
Hoi An, the home of bespoke tailoring and streets of yellow painted buildings. We spent 3 nights in the town voted ‘most favourite destination for tourists’ by Wanderlust UK.
With Tailors on every corner, this town is becoming increasingly popular for paying only $120 dollars for a tailored suit, made and ready in just 1-2 days.
We had a very chilled time there, no big tours or premeditated plans; just us and our feet walking a fair few kilometres, running laps around the Ancient Town and making a dart for the beach on the one hot day we had.
Hoi An is a charming and romantic area with a beautiful riverside setting. The ancient world UNESCO site is impressively well-preserved and infuses a mix of Vietnamese, Japanese and Chinese culture all into one.
The ‘city centre’ is around 4 streets in length, making it easily accessible for walking, as long as you avoid being run down by all the motorbikes of course. It is here that you can head over to view the Japanese Bridge, and go through it to the preserved part of Ancient Town for a small fee. We gave this a miss.
Hoi An reminded me a lot of Chiang Mai; a wonderful place that doesn’t necessarily have the ‘oh my god there is something unbelievable to see here’ landmarks, but it’s just one of the very few places that has preserved it’s area to how it used to be. A great place to experience the real unindustrialised Vietnam.
On the one day the skies blessed us with 28-29c and no rain, we headed for the beach on a long straight 4km road.
We stopped every so often, taking in the sites, enjoying a beverage or two by the riverside and had a bite to eat. Granted, you can rent bikes from your hotel for a mere $1 which would be a quicker option, but with Liam’s still iffy ribs we decided that walking was the safest bet.
The south part of Cua Dao beach was lined with sandbags and wooden posts. Not the most scenic but the waves were violent, so I assume this was for people’s safety?
The northern part of the beach was much nicer, clear sands and a rock backdrop. Well worth a walk along on a nice day.
Hoi An really comes alive at night. The history in the ancient town vs. the new drinking culture means that there is something for everyone.
The hustle and bustle of the street vendors down Le Loi street, paired up with the English speaking bar promoters, selling all you can drink and BOGOF deals over An Hoi bridge gives the area a contrasting mix.
There are authentic Vietnamese restaurants side by side with crazy bars that offer you unlimited drink for 100,000 dong. Thankfully, there isn’t enough of these to create a Magaluf bar strip atmosphere. The area still holds on to its culture and beauty, but I’ll be interested to see what this place looks like in another few decades, and whether tourism funded greed will get the better of this vibrant city.
There is a long night market straight down the middle of the small strip for you to immerse in.
The lantern shops make the road very picturesque but unfortunately the constant pestering: ‘you buy something here’ every time you glance over at a stall, started to get on my nerves a bit.
Is it just an English thing? You know where we get instantly wound up and on the defensive in a retail shop if a worker asks if we need help with something. Like no woman, stop being salesy and leave me to lurk and doddle in peace ha.
If you’re a true night owl and you want to continue the party after most of the town has lights out at midnight, head down to ‘why not bar’ where you can carry on the drinking and fun until 3am.
Hoi an is listed in top 25 destinations in Asia 2013 by trip advisor and after my enjoyable visit here I can see why.
On our last day in Hanoi we headed towards the area of Ho Hoan Liem as I’d seen lots of good reviews online.
Ho Hoan Liem
Meaning ‘lake of the returned sword.’ The centrepiece of the city.
Legend has it that Emporer Le Loi threw his sword into the lake at a turtle dwelling there; after conquering the Chinese army in the 15th century.
The lake has two islands, one built in the middle in honour of the tortoise named ‘Turtle Tower’..
..and another on the Eastern side named Jade Island.
Surrounding the lake are many beautiful patches of garden and flowers, it’s very picturesque. It’s also beautiful at night.. On one side of the lake (over the road) is a statue of Ly Thai To (founder of Hanoi).
The other side; King Le Temple, built in 1896 in honour of King Le Loi, and is home to a crowned statue and a rock carved with a poem written by the King himself about his determination to defeat the Chinese.
Later on we wandered for the last time around the old quarter. I got myself a nice pair of Fonverse too for only £11! (Fake converse). Then we headed for the sleeper bus.
What we missed A Water Puppet show: Unfortunately we missed this as we planned to go on our last day near Ho Hoan Liem, but the show didn’t start until 5pm that day and our bus was at 6. Its a shame as this is a big part of vietnamese culture and I would’ve liked to have seen a show.
Hanoi ceramic mosaic mural: This one was a bit far out and doesn’t look like it was surrounded by much so we didn’t bother going but may be of interest to you.
Ho Chi Minh Museum: we only walked passed but you can actually go into the Ho Chi Minh museum. We was a bit museum’d out after spending that morning at Hoa Lo. It depends how much information your brain can take in a day I guess!
There are lots of bars and restaurants around the old quarter.
Of a night there is also a big long street market down the main road; selling everything from fake Adidas to pop-up birthday cards.
My highlight: witnessing a baby riding an electric car beside me ha
Here are two of my favourite bars we went to:
Super relaxed, very chilled vibe with artistic paintings, low coffee tables and sofas. It reminded me of being Back in Amsterdam, which I imagine Prague is quite similar to?
This serves food and drink and a lovely array of flavoured sodas
Rock Store/stone Bar
Sorry I can’t remember the actual name.. Rock something ha.
This place has great wallpaper; all the names and logos of familiar rock’n’roll legends.
The bar plays sports and has a great live band there every night singing some classic anthems.
The licence to party closes at midnight in Hanoi, however there are a few bars around the area that continue the party with locks ins. Ask around to see where to go, we heard that Toms bar do late night secret parties but we never went there.
Spending another 2 nights in Chiang Mai meant more exploring for us. I am actually glad we came here a second time as we missed our some vital places I can now share with you.
First of all, the night bazaar (take 2) opened us up to so much more of the road. A tuk tuk took us to the ‘start’ or finish, whatever way you look at it. The place in my last picture with the arch of lights I thought was a closed mall, is actually more shops and stalls.
Opposite that is another night bazaar that leads to bars, game stalls and another great big food court!
We also finally found where some nightlife is! (The city centre is pretty quiet and dead by midnight). The place to go is Loi Ak road, just before the bazaar. It is a long street of different bars that look like there open until the early hours. Unfortunately we found this on our last night..
Don’t forget to head to Sompet Market in the day for a sweet coconut
Here’s some other snaps of us touring the many temples Chiang Mai has to offer around the city centre: