Reviews, Social Commentary, Travel, Uncategorized

Review: Soho Farmhouse

SohoFarmhouseCourtyardNHYM

Courtyard at Soho Farmhouse. NHYM 2017. 

‘Celebrity rural retreat Soho Farmhouse is unrealistic, silly, utterly  contrived – and absolutely fabulous.’ – The Mirror 

It’s been a while since I’ve wanted to check out Soho Farmhouse – I’d heard how uh-mazing it was about a million times – but a few things had been in the way of me and the milk float that takes you around to rural bliss. But this past half-term, the perfect opportunity came up for me to check into one of their ab-fab cabins and I took the chance before I could say, ‘Old-Nick-Jones-Had-a-Farm’.

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Cabins on the river. NHYM 2017.

As soon as you arrive to Soho Farmhouse, you are whisked off in a 1950s milk float to the cabins, which are interspersed along a ‘river’ (stream) that intersects the main grounds.

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Our cabin No.1 had a great, central location. The standalone cottage is seen behind. NHYM. 

But let’s get one thing straight. This is not ‘real’ country. This is for city folk pretending to be country folk. Just like me. Each cabin is equipped with bicycles which are the official mode of transport around the grounds. But if that’s not your thing, don’t worry, BMWs are available to pick you and drop you off at your leisure, so you never feel completely out of your comfort zone.

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Inside the cabins. NHYM 2017.

The cabins were my favourite part of the whole Farmhouse ‘experience.’ As someone wrote, it’s less ‘Little House on The Prairie’ and more ‘Little House on La Prairie.’ They are cosy, comfortable and warm and you could really just spend your whole weekend watching movies, taking baths and playing old records without ever having to leave. (There was an old record player that our ‘Farmhand’ didn’t know how to use, his excuse: ‘this was before my time’. I had to laugh)

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Kitchen in the Cabin. NHYM 2017. 

There is a kitchen for those who want to pretend they want to cook, but really, the restaurants will very happily fill you up without having to raise your little finger. The facilities at Farmhouse are great too, including the indoor-outdoor swimming pool that must be amazing in the summer, the Asian restaurant next to it and the heaven-on-earth-for-a-4-year-old kid’s club, which unfortunately is only for members. There are chickens, pony rides and zip lines that would put any 4 year old in hysterics. There is even a horse-and-carriage that will take you around the grounds, crazy golf and pigs rolling around in the mud.

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Outdoor tents. NHYM 2017. 

There are also new tents that have been erected for those who want more of a ‘be-at-one-with-nature’ experience but people we ran into who spent the night there came out freezing and in their bathrobes: there are no toilets or bathrooms in the outback. Which leads me to the fact that within 24 hours we ran into 5 people we knew: work people, school people, neighbours and even distant relatives! This is not where you go to have a quiet, relaxing weekend. This is where Central London convenes and puts on a Barbour jacket and Gucci wellies instead of owning a country pile to inhale the fresh air.

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Inside the tents. NHYM 2017. 

It’s so popular with Londoners that David Beckham is building a farm literally next to Farmhouse, that’s how much he loves it, but doesn’t want to slum it in one of the cabins.

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Inside the Barn. Courtesy of the Internet. 2017.

Soho Farmhouse is a Disneyland for adults, a Butlins for Toffs, a Center Parcs on luxury steroids. It is equally fabulous as it is fake, but it is a whole lot of fun. It is ‘the’ place to throw a birthday party, and it is a dream place for kids too – my daughter cried when we had to leave…

But, one of the main downsides is that non-members are no longer allowed to stay at the weekends, and there is a slight ‘members’ vs ‘non-members’ taste that irritated me when they told me the kids couldn’t go to the kids club. Very smugly irritating. Especially when Ron Burkle, a complete suit, owns pretty much 60% of it…. So despite how wonderful it is, I probably won’t be staying again any time soon – but I’ll just have to find someone to throw a fab fortieth to get into that milk float again.

xx

NHYM

http://www.nottinghillyummymummy.com

 

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Social Commentary, Uncategorized

‘The Country vs. The City’

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Daylesford Organic Farm, Cotswolds, 2016. All Photos Copyright NHYM 2016.

The Cotswolds are like the new Hamptons’ – quote by Lakes by yoo owner John Hitchcox Feb 2016

The countryside is now firmly the cool, hip thing to do as evidenced by the recent opening of The Farmhouse (Soho Farmhouse in case you have been living in the middle ages for the past year), Kate Moss’ wedding (now ex-wedding), and all its other celebrity-followers – from Jade Jagger, Eddie Redmayne to Mark Ronson. Friends who attended the Farmhouse’s New Year’s party said it was ‘ridiculously cool’ and insane. And no, I am nowhere near cool enough to get an invite, otherwise you would have heard about it.

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Cold Country Roads. NHYM 2016.

It must be something to do with my age, but lately, I have been surrounded by the ‘City vs. Country’ debate, although never really as a participant but rather an observer. You see, I love the country in a ‘I-love-the-country-it’s-so-beautiful-from-afar’ kind of way. The problem with me and the country is that I am always cold in the country-side. When people dream of having their dream ‘country home/mansion,’ I dream of being anywhere warm. It must be my Mediterranean blood or something, but whenever I end up in the country, a) it’s raining b) the heating in the stone mansion house has broken down c) I end up getting lost on a country walk with mud up to my knees. It must be my bad luck.

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Mud up to my knees. NHYM 2016.

Going back to the ‘City vs Country’ debate, more and more people I encounter these days have houses in the ‘country’ from Wiltshire, to Oxfordshire, to Herefordshire, via Gloucestershire. The Sunday Times Style Magazine last Sunday had an article entitled ‘How Cool Is Your County?’ (Clearly, Oxfordshire and the Farmhouse win hands down). Even in my little neighbourhood, my neighbours on the right, behind and across from us all have country houses. I have noticed one wonderful benefit about going to the country on the weekend is the fact that they don’t have to make any weekend plans; no need to book restaurants months in advance to get a reservation, no need to figure out what to do with young children/toddlers on the weekend. Perhaps I will revisit my country opinions. Instead, they are off Friday evening with an instant schedule of country walks, pub lunches, and muddy boots, and only return on Sunday night.

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Rolling hills of Oxfordshire. NHYM 2016.

Then there are those that decide to make the final move and decamp their whole families to the country. There are the commuters who stay in the city during the week in a pied-a-terre, and return to country for the weekends. From what I hear, this is not really ideal as husbands quickly take up a mistress and start their double lives. For those who go as a couple/family, they end up very bored and the rumours are true: they end a) on drugs b) alcoholics c) in swingers clubs because there is nothing to do in the country. Some of these latter quickly run back to the city after a year of country-trials.

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Daylesford Organic Brunch reminds me of London. NHYM 2016.

So, when I went to the ‘country’ for a party the other weekend, I was pleasantly surprised that a) it didn’t rain b) there was heating in the house c) it wasn’t really very different from London: I ended up spending the day at Daylesford for brunch and a spa treatment. Quite blissful indeed, even if I saw half of London there. That night, I mingled with Londoners who were drinking like it was 1999 and overheard a few wife-and-husband-swapping-propositions. What I learned is that the country isn’t that different than London, just more stones than bricks, grass than cement and more sheep than cats.

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Stone country house in the Cotswolds. NHYM 2016.

There are plentiful of options if you decide not to buy/share a country house but want to try it out, from old stone houses found on Rural Retreats http://www.ruralretreats.co.uk  to futuristic, eco, glass houses at Lakes by yoo http://www.thelakesbyyoo.com. Have a look, you may just be tempted too.

xx

NHYM

http://www.nottinghillyummymummy.com

@NHyummymummy

 

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Hotel Review: NIYAMA, Maldives

NIYAMA’s 50 Shades of Blue

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View from our beach. All Photos taken by NHYM 2016 Copyright. Except the Tiger Shark. 

NIYAMA is a cool, understated, luxury hotel with a modern feel to it, with great original restaurants, a superb kids club and great personal touches like the in-room complimentary popcorn and island-made ice-cream.

Rating: *****5 star luxury

http://www.scottdunn.com/luxury-holidays/asia/indian-subcontinent/maldives/maldives/per-aquum-niyama

We landed in Male after surviving our flight from London (where we spotted Jemima Khan in Business Class and a ‘Lady Goldsmith’ sign waiting for her at Male airport), and were whisked away to the local Maldivian seaplane ‘terminal’ where we waited for our sea plane:

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View from Seaplane. NHYM 2016.

The views of the lagoons and atolls from above where stunning and the seaplane was a novelty for my children – and my husband – who had never been on one.

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Powdery Beach on Chill. NHYM 2016.

The Hotel

After being welcomed by our Thakuru, Vlad (our butler/personal assistant/concierge and driver all rolled into one), we were driven off for a tour of the hotel in a buggy. The hotel is set on two islands, ‘CHILL’ (for adults/older children), and ‘PLAY’ (for younger families), and is run by Per Aquum who also own Huvafen Fushi and Desert Palm in Dubai. ‘Chill’ opened in 2012 and ‘Play’ opened only just over a year ago, when they decided to cater to families. It has a high hip factor with an underwater club ‘Glow Party’ and DJs on Saturdays and fun touches like an ice-cream bar and complimentary popcorn.

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Our room keys; there were lots of cool and hip touches to the hotel. NHYM 2016. 

It tries to be different and original, bold and unique, which it succeeds in doing.

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Bananas and Bicycles in front of our room. NHYM 2016.

When we arrived to our beach hut, we were welcomed by banana trees and bicycles. This would be one of three ways of transportation; barefoot, bicycles or buggies.

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Island Path. NHYM 2016.

There is something wonderfully freeing about walking around barefoot on an island and chose to walk barefoot most of the time. The kids loved the buggy, so we often opted for it for longer rides.

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Welcome to Paradise. NHYM 2016. 

The Room

The room was everything you would hope for in a place like this; sea-facing, big enough for a whole family of 2 adults and 2 young children, modern yet welcoming, and had the biggest fridge I have ever seen in a hotel.

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Popcorn Machine! NHYM 2016. 

The complimentary popcorn and in-room, island-made ice-cream was of course a big hit for the children.

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The bathroom in itself was quite spectacular with a pond/pool and banana trees. As soon as we arrived, the kids jumped out of their clothes and into the bathroom pool.

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View from our Room. NHYM 2016.

On arrival, we were welcomed by a bottle of Moet, a fresh fruit platter and welcome canapés. Every day, we had a new fresh fruit platter and milk cartons for the kids delivered to our room. Despite the modern amenities, the room still retained Maldivian charm with its thatched roofs and a Dhoni-inspired swing.

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Our beautiful Beach Hut. NHYM 2016. 

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View from our room. NHYM 2016. 

This is what I call a proper sea view room…

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Beach hut with pool. NHYM 2016.

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General Manager’s Drinks at the 3 Bedroom Beach Pavillion. NHYM 2016. 

The Crowd

The crowd was understated cool; Wayfarer and Aviator Raybans, black rimmed glasses, Missoni style kaftans and lovely gay couples were seen around. There is less bling here than at the One & Only (am thinking of the Russian oligarch’s wife dining on her own with a bodyguard lurking around at the Japanese restaurant of One & Only and the Hedge Funders discussing their private jets or lack thereof), and is dominated by Northern Europeans while we are there. Germans are plentiful, as are Danes, Swedes and Brits. There are also quite a few young Chinese honeymooners and Christina the Marketing Manager tells me that their number 1 demographic is Chinese. The Russians have stayed away recently due to the crumbling Rouble but the Europeans have been replacing them.

It is actually a really nice crowd, everyone was very friendly and nice, and sartorially superior. There are no cheesy T-shirts and Birkenstocks here; polo shirts of Phuket, Mustique and Club 55 are more like it. One teenage girl is sporting a Club 55 bracelet, so I know where she will be this summer.

The Food

The food was overall very good, although quite expensive, so we were quite glad to have been on a half board option. Food is complimentary for kids, which is always a nice touch. The breakfast buffet, which is particularly important to me and indication of the entire catering, was stellar. There was everything you could ask for without being too over the top; from congee to gluten free, smoothies to huevos rancheros, crepes and waffles, stir fries to curry, and all the tropical fruit you could ask for; dragon fruit, mango, lychee, rambutan, jack fruit, papaya, guava, melon…

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A fruitarian Paradise. NHYM 2016. 

The restaurants in NIYAMA deserve a special accolade for originality;

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Edge Overwater gourmet dining was only accessible by boat.

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Subsix underwater restaurant was a fun, once-in-a-lifetime-experience, with nemo entertaining the girls while we savoured our Wagyu beef (only open at lunch time).

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Every Saturday and Wednesday night, Subsix turns into a nightclub where they have infamous ‘Glow Parties.’

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Nest, an Asian restaurant set in the treetops, had South East Asian cuisine with Teppanyaki downstairs in a jungle/rainforest setting. This quickly became our children’s favourite restaurant.

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Tribal, an African and South American restaurant, was excellent, dishing up tribal African dishes and Argentinian steaks. A must try.

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Pool and view from BLU. NHYM 2016.

BLU is the main restaurant on PLAY island which served a delicious breakfast buffet in the sand and a casual Mediterranean/European lunch. This is the view we had every morning and the child-friendly pool that we used most of the time.

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View from Epicure. NHYM 2016.

Epicure was the main restaurant on ‘CHILL,’ and is the biggest restaurant of them all, which was a ‘no reservations’ restaurant. Reservations are needed to all the other restaurants, so be sure to plan in advance. They were all very popular and were booked up one or two days in advance.

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Weather Station and Dune Restaurant/Bar. 

Dune Restaurant/Bar was next to Epicure, serving lunch and Cocktails.

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Also a big hit with the kids was the ice-cream bar and deli that offered snacks and sandwiches throughout the day.

The Service

The service was 5 star as expected at this level of hotel; nothing was too much, everyone was smiling and friendly, always willing to help. Our Thakuru managed everything from check-in, restaurant reservations, driving our buggy, to sorting out Disney movies for the girls. The local staff were wonderful as were the African staff at Tribal, who were very knowledgeable and friendly. Occasionally we had to wait a little for the buggy rides, but most of the time we could flag a kind buggy-driver to take us to our destination. Checkout was a little haphazard and slow, but perhaps Island-life is a little more laid-back than what we are used to.

The Activities

Outside the perfect, pristine, powdery sand beaches, there was plenty to do on the island if you chose to. The water sports centre was fully stocked with paddle boards, jet skis, para-sailing and surf boards. There were fishing trips, dolphin cruises, the Spa, Zumba, Yoga, meditation etc.. etc… etc… I didn’t manage time for the spa but did manage three dives.

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Photo of a tiger shark courtesy of the internet. NHYM 2016. 

As an avid and 20 year veteran scuba diver with 200+ dives, I am pretty particular about my diving and I am a fair weather diver. This atoll isn’t known to offer the best diving in the Maldives, but I was still very happy; I still saw lots of white tip reef sharks, turtles, schools of rainbow coloured fish and lots of eagle rays. We also saw the local pod of dolphins on our way to a dive site but the highlight was encountering a tiger shark, my first one ever, which was so enthrallingly exciting. I was in complete shark heaven, which may seem strange to you, but there is very little in life that makes me this happy…

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Scott Dunn Explorer’s Kid’s Club

Of course one of the main reasons for coming to NIYAMA was to try out the Scott Dunn Explorer’s Kids Club, which I had heard was one notch above any of other Kids Club. It is complimentary for those over 3 years old, but does take children as young as 1 y.o. It only opened 1 year ago when the island ‘Play’ was opened and is operated by Scott Dunn, meaning that Nikki, the director was recruited and trained by Scott Dunn. Nikki told me that there were over 60 children at the hotel, and the Dolphin cruise recruited 18 kids! That is an excellent turn out and shows that they are really engaging the kids. What was nice at the hotel was that even though there were so many kids, you couldn’t really see or hear them. The children were all beautifully dressed and well mannered, looking like they just stepped out of a White Company photo shoot.

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Kids Club Thatched Hut and Playground. NHYM 2016.

The Kids Club was divided in age groups, with one hatched hut for the under 5s and one thatched hut for the over 5s, but with activities for 4 age groups: 12mo-2ys, 3-4, 5-7, 7-12 years.

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Water Playground, with new friends. NHYM 2016. 

The Under 5s Kids Club was very impressive with tons of activities from making arts and crafts masks, valentine’s cards, drawing and creating treasure hunts to playing in the water playground and going to the beach to make sandcastles.

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5-12 years old kids club. NHYM 2016.

The 5-12 age range group really stood out for their well thought out and enticing activities; dolphin cruises, snorkelling, kayaking, coral conservation programmes with a marine biologist and a lecture at Subsix underwater restaurant. Every day, at 5pm they would take the kids swimming in one of the pools, led by Adam the Kids Club manager. My daughter’s highlight was the dolphin cruise when she spotted dozens of spinner dolphins playfully dancing around the boat.

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Kids Club Dolphin Cruise. NHYM 2016.

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Kids Outdoor Theatre. NHYM 2016. 

For older children over 12 years old, there was an entire ‘Active’ area with a pool table, ping pong table, video games, simulators and more that seemed busy every night.

Overall:

This is a hip, 5 star, Robinson-Crusoe, ultra-luxe hotel that caters perfectly to couples and families, providing top-notch luxury service and amenities. It was everything we could have hoped for and stood out with special touches and details. Of course there was the odd hiccup, but in true 5 star style, it is how it is dealt with that matters, and this hotel manages to live up to its award winning accolades. Kids are definitely welcome with complimentary food and an extensive Kids Club schedule, even the teens love it. The only very slight negatives would be the less abundant marine life around the island compared to other islands and a slightly longer travel time with the seaplane, but the hotel was faultless and we had a great time and can only recommend it very highly. We met another family of Notting Hillers while on the island and it was already their second time there, which shows you that if you try it once, you will want to go again. As my daughter stated as fact the day we were leaving, ‘We’re coming back next year!’

xx

NHYM

http://www.nottinghiillyummymummy.com

@NHyummymummy

Thank you Scott Dunn for organising this wonderful trip!! I paid for this trip with a few perks from Scott Dunn, but it was organised professionally and efficiently from A-Z by them. 

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Our ‘beach.’ NHYM 2016. 

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Top 10, Uncategorized

‘It’s Starting to Feel a Lot Like Christmas’: Top 10 Christmas Activities in London 2015

Although we love to complain about London; ‘the weather is terrible,’ the real estate is sooo expensive,’ ‘it’s a rat race’ etc… we also have to remember all the great events that happen in and around the city that makes it one of the top cities in the world. I was emailed and asked to name my Top 10 Christmas Activities in London this year and, no, they are not original, but they are truly unique to London.

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Here are my Top 10 Christmas Activities this Christmas.

  1. Ice Skating at Somerset House: In a truly unique setting, Somerset House ice-skating is a special experience. For more ice-skating, the Natural History Museum is another top choice.
  2. Harrod’s Christmas Grotto: There are so many Santa’s Grottos around that it is hard to choose from all the choices, but Harrod’s tops the list as the most spectacular. I have been invited to visit it this year and will write up a post on it. If you didn’t manage tickets this year, Westfield is a good alternative.
  3. Hyde Park Winter Wonderland: The Kids just adore it. That’s all there is to say. ‘One of my favourite things in the world’ quoted one child the other day. You may hate it, but they certainly don’t. Skip the circus, it’s not quite Cirque du Soleil.
  4. Royal Albert Hall: Christmas Carol Singalong and more. If you grew up with Christmas Carols, this is back-to-the-past-nostalgia. A lovely family affair from 0-100 y.o. The Royal Albert Hall has a whole Christmas Festival with all kinds of shows to choose from.
  5. The Snowman Theatre: For the kids, it’s a classic. A lovely show put on at the Peacock Theatre, most love it year after year.
  6. London Zoo: There are live reindeers and if you booked in advance, a chance to see Santa.
  7. GOSH Christmas Carols: Doing a little giving during Christmas is the biggest reason to celebrate Christmas and Great Ormond Street Hospital always puts on a great show this time of year.
  8. The Nutcracker Ballet: Another family tradition, the Nutcracker ballet will enchant and whisk you away to a dream-land full of ballerinas and wooden nutcrackers. For older children.
  9. Father Christmas at the Hall: A visit through Royal Albert Hall, you can get insight in this great building with the help of Santa, his elves and his reindeers.
  10. Christmas Markets: There are so many to choose from, but the posh will enjoy Belgravia’s Christmas Market on Elizabeth Street, the cool will like the Monocle Christmas Market at its offices, and the tourists will enjoy wandering the Southbank Winter Festival.

Enjoy!

xx

NHYM

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Top 10, Travel, Uncategorized

Top 10 Travel Tips: Sardinia in September

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Sardinia. All photos copyright NHYM 2015. 

September is a bittersweet month. On one hand, it is great to come back to a daily routine of school runs, dinners and socialising and the comfort of one’s home. On the other hand, it is good-bye to summer and outdoor BBQs, and the realisation that the next summer is 10 months away.

So, as a tradition, we try to go away every September for our wedding anniversary. This year, we chose Sardinia, because a) it is only 2 hours away (yes, I know it’s with Easyjet, but sometimes I need to temper down my inner brat) b) my mother and friends told me to stay away from Turkey because of all of the unrest (where I initially wanted to go to) c) Mr. X had never been and it’s been years since I had been. d) And finally, because it is a rather beautiful melange of rustic and chic.

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Porto Cervo NHYM 2015.

Here are my Top 10 Tips in Sardinia:

  1. Check out the beaches. There are so many to explore, but my personal favourites are in Southern Sardinia, where there are less foreign tourists and the translucent water and rocky outcroppings remind me of the Seychelles. The beaches in Maddalena are equally spectacular.
  2. Porto Cervo, home to Flavio Briatore’s Billionaire Club, must be seen. It was created by Prince Aga Khan and reminds me of the Terra Cotta Hotel Byblos in St Tropez. It doesn’t have much charm, but has to be seen… as one of the most expensive real estates in Europe. Check out ‘You Porto Cervo’ for a cocktail.PortoCervo2NHYMView of Porto Cervo. NHYM 2015
  3. The Maddalena archipelago is the opposite of Porto Cervo: quiet, rustic and a has beautiful nature. I already mentioned La Casitta in another post (https://nottinghillmummy.com/2014/05/19/top-10-best-mediterranean-sea-view-boutique-hotels), best for its remoteness and seclusion
  4. Charter a motor yacht/sailboat/gulet to visit Sardinia’s wild nature and beaches and nature reserves. There’s nothing like waking up in an undiscovered cove on a boat with a cappuccino in hand…
  5. See the Grotto di Nettuno, Sardinia’s most famous cave.SardiniaViewNHYM
  6. Try one of the many Agriturismo farmhouses to get back to basics: http://www.agriturismo.it/en/
  7. Go to Phi Beach for the sunset and a cocktail. Great views and atmosphere.SardiniaBeach2NHYM
  8. The Cala di Volpe hotel, one of the most expensive hotels in the world, once featured in the 1977 ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’ Bond Film. It may be the most famous hotel in Sardinia, but it seems a bit dated to me and is not by far one of my favourites. Personally, Il Splendido wins hands down. CalaDiVolpeNHYMCala Di Volpe
  9. Visit Nora in the South, an ancient Roman and pre-Roman town, where you can see a Roman theatre, temple and mosaics.
  10. Enjoy the food… It is Italy after all. Try La Gritta with views of the Maddelena, I Fratti Rossi for its seafood, or Il Pescatore purely for the best setting and view of Porto Cervo.

xx

NHYM

http://www.nottinghillyummymummy.com

@NHyummymummy

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Top 10, Travel, Uncategorized

Travel: Woolley Grange Hotel Review, Wiltshire

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Woolley Grange Hotel Main House. All Photos Copyright of NHYM 2015.

Woolley Grange Hotel 

Woolley Green

Bradford-On-Avon

Wiltshire BA15 1TX

Tel. 01225864705

http://www.woolleygrangehotel.co.uk

OVERALL RATING: 4 stars

Hotel itself: 3.75 stars

Children’s Amenities: 5 stars

Service: 3 stars

Restaurant: 4 stars for dinner, 3 stars at lunch

Room: 4 stars

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Woolley Grange Front Lawn

Let me preface this post by saying that this is NOT what I would consider a ‘family-friendly hotel’. Au contraire, I would call it a ‘child-centered’ hotel, or one that is dedicated to children and that allows parents to join if they so please. This should be clear from the outset, in case you were looking for a 5* hotel that catered to children.

I say this because:

  1. There are children everywhere. When we arrived there were children on the front lawn swinging/jumping/fishing/swimming/playing.
  2. The lunch menu for children is much more elaborate and appetising than the adult menu (For children: steak, roast chicken, spaghetti. Adults: Sandwiches & Light Bites)
  3. The ‘Movie Room’ only plays children’s movies
  4. The table settings are named with your children’s names, not yours.
  5. The ‘Candle-lit’ dinner reserved for adults still has children running all over the place while you dine by ‘candle-light’
  6. The beautiful front lawn’s view is encumbered by a trampoline, a football pitch, a mini-tennis court and plastic playground toys.
  7. Did I mention there were children everywhere?
  8. Every hotel guest here comes accessorised with at least one, two, or three mini people and possibly a granny or grandpa thrown in for good measure.
  9. In the lounges, instead of House & Garden or Country Life magazines, train sets and baby books fill the coffee tables.
  10. Activities here are children focussed: films, egg collecting, kids club etc…

So, now that I’ve gotten this out of the way, you will be prepared for a lovely children’s weekend/holiday in the country. The upside is that you don’t need to be embarrassed when your child throws a) tantrum b) hissy fit c) their food all over the floor d) a toy at their younger sister/brother/your head. As this was our first ever ‘Children’s Hotel’ it took a little adjustment. Best for children 0-9.

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The Main House. NHYM 2015. 

The Hotel

The hotel itself is a beautiful Jacobean Manor house that accommodates 25 rooms and suites for all kinds of family arrangements. There are interconnecting rooms that are perfect for a family of 4 or other rooms that can fit smaller families. It is old, kitschy and creaky, with thick carpets and small nooks and crannies interspersed in the house. It is not what I would call a five star hotel, with blue thick velvet carpets that show mud and crumbs left behind by children, and service that comes by to only hoover and tidy beds. (Other 5* stars generally try to tidy up clothes and toys, but not really this one).

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Front Entrance Woolley Grange Hotel. NHYM 2015. 

In addition to the main house, there is a small spa with an indoor swimming pool, which both looked quite nice but we never managed to use the pool because it was closed while we were there. And no, I never found time to visit the spa. There is also an outdoor pool available for proper British families who braved it out in the rain and cold at 13 degrees. I mean, yes I know it is heated, but really? No, you won’t get me in that pool with this great British weather….

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The walled garden. NHYM 2015. 

Children’s Amenities

Like I mentioned before, this hotel is all about kids. For our urban-kids, there was plenty of things to enjoy at this hotel: a swing and trampoline on the lawn, a small playground out back, and a walled garden. The walled garden had toy houses, ducks, geese, hen, a tractor and apple picking.

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Woolley Grange Tractor

There was egg collecting from the hen house.

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Hen House & Chicken Laying Eggs. NHYM 2015. 

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Ducks and ducklings. NHYM 2015. 

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Pumpkins in the Walled Garden. Or are they squash? NHYM 2015. 

The Kids Club was cute, nothing to go crazy over, but available for 2 hours per day, just enough time for a coffee and a read of the newspaper. It was mostly geared towards younger children under 5 years old, but still had some jewellery making for older children and a breakfast club on a Sunday for an extra hour and a half in bed.

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Kids Club. NHYM 2015. 

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Simon the Rabbit at the Kids Club. NHYM 2015.

The Room & Service

We had a very spacious family room with 2 interconnecting rooms, which fit us perfectly. The children had their room with two twin beds while we had a large King size bed with very comfortable beds. The Service… well, let’s just put it this way: the hotel was full of Uni students working during their summer holidays to earn a little cash for the year to come. There were no professionally trained French Maitre d’ or fully trained concierges (‘Uhm, sorry, you booked Longleat tickets through us? No one told me!’) Not quite what we are used to, but very friendly and genuinely nice.

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Did I mention everything is for children here? NHYM 2015. 

Outside Woolley Grange

What the children really loved outside the hotel was Longleat Safari Park, probably the best drive through Safari Park in the UK (unlike Whipsnead which is not a proper drive through Safari Park), which also has an Adventure Park and a beautiful house to visit. You could spend days there and it is a sure hit with the kids. The Safari Park has plenty of animals to see; giraffes, zebras, lions, tigers, and lots of Monkeys that love to sit on your car mirrors! The Adventure Park also has loads of fun playgrounds and more to see. The Jungle Cruise had hippos, gorillas and a chance to feed sea lions. We were there for a whole day and didn’t manage to see it all. Definitely worth a visit.

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Longleat House. NHYM 2015. 

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Nico the 55 year old Gorilla. NHYM 2015. 

OVERALL IMPRESSIONS

Despite the often 3* rather than 5* service, this place is great for children. It’s a quick escape from the city and a great base to explore the countryside. We saw more animals there than we have seen in all our years in London (we also managed to feed goats, pigs and ponies at a little farm in the vicinity). It’s a great place for kids, although where parents can sometimes feel like second class citizens, but since we’ve had plenty of adult time in our day (see: Santorini, Greece: https://nottinghillmummy.com/2015/08/22/travel-lusting-photography-santorini-greece/), we sucked it up ;0. There’s plenty to do around there, like visit Bath and Bradford-on-Avon, which we also enjoyed (a new rest the Weaving Shed in Bradford was a nice surprise). We would recommend it to anyone who is looking for some quality time with kids, and save the following weekend for time with the adults.

xx

NHYM

http://www.nottinghillyummymummy.com

@NHyummymummy

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Top 10, Travel, Uncategorized

Travel-lusting: Oia, Santorini, Greece

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All Photos Copyright of NHYM 2015. 

2015 was Greece’s year, although not necessarily for good reasons. Greece has made the media spotlight for it’s shambolic economy that closed down ATMs and banks and froze money coming in and out of Greece. But let’s look at the positives coming from Greece: a travel-lusting destination. I know at least 6 couples that are currently in Greece: Mykonos for the party people, Santorini for couples or Sani Resort for families, there’s something for everyone.

For a romantic long weekend a deux, sans kids, Santorini is my top pick. Often chosen as a top honeymoon destination, Oia never fails to impress with those towering views over the underwater volcano. It is a quick, direct Easjyet flight and in a few hours you could be basking in the Greek sun.

In Oia, all the hotels share the same views, so you can’t go wrong. Here are some of the hotels I recommend:

  1. Pezoules Hotel: www.http://pezoules.gr
  2. Katikies Hotel: http://www.katikies.com
  3. Kirini Suites & Spa: http://www.kirini.com
  4. Perivolas: http://www.perivolas.gr
  5. Mystique: http://mystique.gr

And the restaurant not to miss is the Sunset Taverna in the fishing village down the other side of the mountain. Fresh Greek Seabream there is an absolute must when visiting Oia.

Don’t forget a boat ride around the island, also another must-do.

Here are some photos. Go on, lust away.

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xx

NHYM

http://www.nottinghillyummymummy.com

@NHyummymummy

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