2016. What a year. The world really did change beyond our beliefs. But I mean it wasn’t all that bad right? Well okay it was preeeeetty shit, but Leo did finally win an Oscar. Anyway I’m not focusing on the extremities of this years events!
For me 2016 was the year I relaunched my blog, so its definitely been an adventure. Reflecting back, I’m rather proud of all its accomplished since May, bringing me new opportunities to taste London’s excellent restaurant scene and explore parts of the globe I hadn’t even yet considered.
So as I write my last post (tissues in hand with my second wind of the winter cold) before Christmas, I’ve decided to look back on my top moments…
Top Restaurants (in London)
I’ve done pretty well at ticking off some top spots on my list and trying out some newly opened places from Yosma to Tabun Kitchen. But three restaurants from this year have truly stood out as my best foodie experiences in the city.
1 | Andina, Shoreditch
Every mouthful that came out of this Peruvian kitchen was absolutely divine. If you want to try a different kind of cuisine without the risk of disliking it, head to one of Martin Morales’ restaurants. Andina in Shoreditch is a fine choice and does an incredible range of dishes including a hot spicy tuna ceviche and beautifully sweet poached eggs with corn souffle.
2 | Skylon, Southbank
My first ever bottomless brunch was spent with my Mum and Auntie celebrating a big birthday over too much Prosecco and excellent food. The roast was a hit and the starters were perfection. Skylon’s setting is also unbeatable with floor to ceiling views over the Thames.
3 | Ormer, Mayfair
My first soft launch of the year was at Shaun Rendes’ new restaurant at The Flemings Hotel in Mayfair. Bringing fresh Jersey flavours and sophisticated presentation to Ormer, Michelin starred Shaun served up a delicious menu featuring silky soft hand dived scallops.
Top Restaurants (Outside of London)
As I become more and more addicted to beautiful food and trying new restaurants, my travels have simultaneously become influenced! My top three from the year are…
1 | The Shore, Penzance
Hands down the best food I’ve had this year was at The Shore in Penzance. This Cornish seafood restaurant owned by Bruce Rennie was outstanding, serving up quality fresh fish with exotic flavours from a simple yet irresistible menu. I wouldn’t be surprised if its on the list for a Michelin star next year.
2 | Al Camin, Cortina
Coming in a close second is Al Camin in Cortina, a classic family owned restaurant in the Italian mountains. The food here was beautiful; traditional flavours presented exquisitely.
3 | Nobu, Budapest
My first Nobu experience was just the other week in Budapest and it was just as I’d hoped. I can’t wait to share my full review with you in the New Year but as a quick preview, I present the tuna sushi that almost made it cry when it was over…
My favourite cocktails of the year
Everyone knows I can’t help but order the craziest sounding cocktail on the menu. It’s got bacon in it? Send it my way. But not all of my top cocktails are thaaaaat weird.
1 | The Botanic at Sky Pod (London)
Oh my basil. This was definitely my favourite cocktail of the year. A fresh yet not too tangy drink of Gin and basil accompanied by a small cup of sundried tomatoes, rosemary and pine nuts. It was like a picnic in a glass enjoyed in the beautiful setting of the Sky Garden‘s glorious bar.
2 | B52 at The Four Seasons Gresham Palace (Budapest)
Another cheeky preview of our trip to Budapest… after dining at Nobu we headed to the stunning Four Seasons Gresham Palace for a cocktail. Surprisingly for me, I chose a sweet milky sounding drink… a B52. Normally poured as a layered shot, The Four Seasons’ take on it presented a silky luxurious dessert mixing coffee liquor and Baileys with vanilla ice cream.
3 | The Hammersmith at Peg & Patriot (London)
Cocktails and cheese? Yes please. The Peg and Patriot in Bethnal Green serves up an incredible cocktail menu that changes with recent events or seasons. Back in May it was inspired by the tube map. The Hammersmith immediately caught my eye serving up a cognac, vodka and walnut drink… with a size of cheese. Oh yes.
Best bars (London)
There are so many incredible bars in London I’m yet to try but so far these three are at the top of my list for the year…
1 | Sky Pod
A bar that serves up delicious creative cocktails to a skyline view is always going to win. As soon as I stepped out onto the rooftop of Sky Garden, I knew I’d be coming back. If the panoramic views over the city aren’t enough, the gardens, spacious seating areas and delicious menu to suit every taste will be.
2 | Secret Garden, South Place Hotel
The South Place Hotel is a beautiful hotel in Liverpool Street with various restaurants and bars you could spend days lounging in. My favourite of the lot is the Secret Garden, a beautiful terrace filled with tropical foliage that makes you feel like you’re on holiday even when its cold. During the Christmas season the bar is filled with festive decor, even snowing a few times a week!
3 | Lounge Bohemia
One for the theatre lovers, Lounge Bohemia is a strange yet inviting bar for a relaxed over the top drink. Each cocktail has a story and is presented in a way that will make the most pessimistic drinker smile. My two drinks of the evening couldn’t be faulted… firstly a strong whiskey served with mini pancakes and blueberries (a Canadian Breakfast) followed by a salted caramel liqueur served in a seashell with salted foam and alcoholic ice cream.
Oh gawd how to do a top three? Okay this one is less of a particular order….
1 | Budapest
I have soooooo much to write about my recent festive trip to Budapest that I can’t wait to share in the New Year! Apart from being with my man, I think the thermal spas, Christmas vibes and incredibly beautiful architecture just made this my favourite place of the year.
2 | Costa Rica
Costa Rica had been near the top of my travel bucket list so when I got the opportunity to go I thought I was dreaming! It was my first experience of flying in business class (which was amazing enough for me after leaving the backpacker lifestyle behind the year before!) but also my first time staying in a luxury tropical hotel. The destination was so beautiful and filled with so much culture that I absolutely will be returning to see more. I think seeing baby crocs in their natural habitat was pretty top… (baby sloths next time?).
3 | Cortina
Italy is one of my favourite places so returning for a winter break was wonderful. The chalet style town of Cortina surrounded by dramatic snow topped mountains was overwhelming and of course the food… oh man the food. I will also be sharing my experience in the New Year.
For me a perfect hotel stay is not about feeling at home, its about being looked after, beautiful surroundings and a spacious sophisticated room. Being said this is not always found in the top hotels but can be discovered in individual boutiques and lesser known locations.
1 | The Four Seasons, Costa Rica
I don’t know how I can put anything other than the Four Seasons at the top of this list. Everything about this hotel was perfect. The rooms, the views, the food and the location. It was luxury at its best and I feel very lucky to have stayed there!
2 | Ambra Cortina, Cortina
The Ambra Cortina was a beautiful boutique hotel that really put their guests first. Aiming for 5 star luxury, every little detail was thought about from the individual decor to the silk sheets and power showers.
3 | Hilton, Bournemouth
The new Hilton in Bournemouth has been designed by the incredible Ted Baker and his designs are apparent throughout. Not only is it a trendy hotel, but the breakfast offerings and service was fantastic.
Other recommendations: The Lindos Sun Hotel (Lindos), The Corinthia (Budapest), The Novotel Blackfriars – review in the New Year
I’ve seen much more theatre this year than I’d originally thought! And long may it continue that way…
1 | Harry Potter & The Cursed Child
INCREDIBLE. Go see it. #keepthesecrets
2 | Matilda
Man this musical made me cry. Perhaps because it was one of my childhood films but the acting and the production was fantastic. It gave me all the magic feels that I normally only get from Disney and was the first time I’ve been a part of a standing ovation where every single person was either cheering or wiping their eyes.
3 | Book of Mormon
One of the funniest shows I’ve ever seen! I really didn’t think I’d enjoy it as much as I did but it was hands down HILARIOUS.
Other favourites: Guys & Dolls with Rebel Wilson, People Places & Things
Apart from eating, drinking and swanking around hotel rooms, I’ve done some pretty cool stuff this year! It was hard to narrow down but here we go…
1 | Friends Fest
Friends Fest was TOTALLY AWESOME (reference intended). Excitably swanning around the sets posing for pictures whilst making too many puns was a definite highlight of the year.
2 | Outdoor cinema of Labyrinth at Belgrave Square
Following a delayed birthday treasure hunt around London that I’d planned for my man, I got us tickets to see his favourite film Labyrinth at an outdoor screening in Belgrave Square organised by Where Is The Nomad. Despite a slightly drizzly start, it was super cosy and seeing it on the big screen was a very special occasion.
3 | The Tower Bridge Glass Floor
This Father’s Day I took my Dad out for a proper London adventure starting with a chance to explore Tower Bridge. Of course we loved walking over the glass floor over the Thames, getting the perfect spot for when the bridge opened up to let the ships through.
Other favourites: The Magic Circle, a girls weekend with my little sister, The Vuelio Blog Awards… among others!
So that’s me! Signing off for Christmas. I’ll be back online on the 1st… revealing my plans for 2017 and my blog.
I hope you all have a WONDERFUL Christmas and see the New Year in style. Merry Christmas my lovelies