On a recent trip to Florence we booked our final nights dinner at the 1 Michelin star restaurant, Ora d’Aria. Ora d’Aria (meaning ‘hour of air’) first took its name from when the restaurant opened, at a previous location, opposite a prison. Guests dined whilst the inmates took advantage of their daily exercise hour. New location and new meaning, we are told ’hour of air’ now focuses on their patrons time spent at the restaurant…they want to ensure each guest is exposed to tradition, innovation and elegance created by one of Italy’s leading chefs, Marco Stabile.
What we love about Stabile is that he is from Tuscany, and whilst he has developed his skills in some of Italy’s finest kitchens, he has remained in Tuscany and allowed us, the punters, to experience some of the most amazing Italian cuisine to have passed our lips.
There’s nothing like a Gucci holdall to stop Elldrew in their tracks and this beauty most certainly did! Adorned with the house’s iconic Diamante pattern, the large leather holdall is the perfect partner for your next adventure; expertely crafted by the Italian fashion house and already added to the wishlist.
Fully lined twill interior with inner zip compartment and pouch pockets, two top handles, detachable adjustable shoulder strap, luggage tag, metal feet, pale-gold hardward, zip fastening, padlock and keys included [breath] it doesn’t get any sleeker or sexier than this.
PART 2: PENNYHILL PARK HOTEL, SURREY
A couple of months after Cowley we took the opportunity of a bank holiday to visit Pennyhill Park Hotel and Spa in Surrey, about an hour outside of London. Home to the English Rugby training grounds and regularly commended in the ‘Good Spa Guide’, we thought we’d add it to our list of places we’d visited.
As our readers should know by now Elldrew are great fans of weekend breaks, especially to the English countryside. Planning a leisurely drive away from the city for a few days is the perfect way to recharge one’s batteries; no crowded airports with long check-ins queues, 4 hours of your life lost on a 45 min flight to go only a few hundred miles away. Why not hit the road, setting the pace and schedule on your terms and take in the ever-changing view from the comfort of your own pilot seat! Despite not being half way through 2015 Elldrew have been lucky enough to take advantage of three mini getaways…so here’s what we have been up to.
PART 1: COWLEY MANOR, GLOUCESTERSHIRE
The new Mondrian London hotel opened earlier this year to much fanfare and Elldrew were particularly excited to take a peep inside (we knew the building from when it was offices of an old client) so what better excuse than a pre-Christmas dinner in it’s main restaurant ‘Sea Containers’.
Sea Containers has been aptly named after the building that houses the hotel (Sea Containers House) and is award-winning New York chef and restaurateur Seamus Mullen’s first European restaurant. To be honest we had no idea who Seamus Mullen was beyond what we’d read in the papers, but we were nevertheless excited to try his “farm to table” dining concept.
You know when you’re watching a talent show on TV and you think the act is terrible yet they get a standing ovation, or the opposite happens, your favourite act is booed and you wonder if you’re watching the same programme? At the end of the day everything we experience comes down to personal preference, this also applies to any restaurant we eat in. Of course each of us have expectations or standards when it comes to food quality and service (even more so with that ‘discretionary’ service charge which has pretty much become a mandatory on the bill), but as novice writers (or dare we say bloggers) we still believe that a review of any restaurant should be written fairly, leaving the reader to make up their own mind.
An article on the recently opened Spring restaurant in London, by Camilla Long for The Sunday Times magazine ‘food and drink’ section, had so much venom in it (she even went as far to insult the 1547 historic building the restaurant is located in) that we had to wonder how hers and our dining experience could differ so greatly…could she really not have enjoyed Spring that much to give it such a bad critique? Truth be told we only got three quarters of the way through her article as by the end of it she was cleverly trying to fill space with meaningless words and pointless dribble. So, like Ms Long, Elldrew have an opinion and a platform to voice our views and with that in mind we would like to stand up, push back our chairs and give Spring a standing ovation, because we think it deserves it!
We do love to look out for our monthly hotel and destination eshots from the likes of Tablet and Mr & Mrs Smith…we are always interested to find our next hotel getaway ideas either locally or abroad. One of the latest offerings is the boutique B&B hotel The Reading Rooms in Margate.
So the final leg of our Mallorca holiday was spent mostly poolside at the Melia Victoria Hotel, situated on the Paseo Marítimo seafront palm-lined promenade and marina, a few minutes taxi drive from the town centre. The old town is a wonderful spot to just walk and let yourself get lost. Jostle with fellow tourists as you take in the cobbled backstreets filled with tapas restaurants (there are a great range of bars and restaurants that offer alfresco dining, either in hidden courtyards or on street corners and squares), or pop into one of the many clothing boutiques or bespoke art galleries. Also an ideal place to people watch. We headed 15 mins walk west to the borders of the old town, away from the main tourist area, and found a street (Carrer de Sant Magi) offering a great choice of international restauarants…a spot of Japanese was well needed after a week of tapas and pasta. Not to be missed is a tour around the massive and striking Gothic cathedral, with its adjoining palace and gardens. And just a few minutes drive along the coast why not search out a spot for sunset cocktail in one of the many quaint village harbours and ports. We will be back, hopefully soon.
When on the west coast of Mallorca once must stop at Deia; a quaint little village high in the hills that has attracted the rich and famous for many years. The exclusive La Residencia Hotel is a favourite destination for Hollywood celebrities and European royalty. Michael Douglas/Catherine Zeta Jones, as well as Pierce Brosnan, have a holiday home in the area (our driver pointed out Pierce’s). Elldrew recommend, after a leisurely stroll around the town (and a few tipples to wet the whistle), that you dine at what has to be one of the most perfectly located restaurants, seaside, in the world…sip on refreshing wine whilst you tuck into the catch-of-the-day at Ca’s Patro March. We couldnt find their own page on the web so just read reviews from others. Bookings essential, but we guarantee you will not be disappointed on food, atmosphere or the views. Add it to your bucket list!