Blog Image

Restaurant & Hotel Reviews

Travelodge Brighton Seafront, UK

Accommodation Posted on Mon, July 08, 2019 03:50PM

Travelodge Brighton Seafront
West Street, Brighton,
East Sussex, BN1 2RE, United Kingdom
Sat nav postcode: BN1 2RE
Tel: 08719 846405

We’ve become accustomed to the veggie buffet breakfast’s at Travelodge being excellent quality and value, and the one we enjoyed at this Brighton hotel did not disappoint!

There are also plenty of choices for meat eaters as well. The food was freshly cooked and always tasty. It’s a great way to fill up at the start of the day on quality food and it’s served up in a nice environment.
The hotel location is very good – just 3 minutes walk from the seafront promenade, 10 minutes to either the Pier, the Lanes or the town centre and a 20 minute walk to the central train station.

We had a room on the 8th floor which was very quiet and with great views. There are few frills in the room but there is everything you might need, the bed was comfy and everything is clean.

The location is so useful, you don’t have to worry about leaving for the day and taking everything with you. We popped out to the Pavilion, had lunch at Leon’s, came back to pick up some snacks we’d left at the room, walked over to the beach, got a bottle of bubbly to enjoy whilst looking at the waves…

…then back to the room again to get changed before heading out to the Pier then dinner. A hotel location like this makes for a very relaxed stay.

For those looking for a functional room in a good location, the Travelodge hotel chain is always very hard to beat and Brighton Travelodge is no exception. Check their own websites out for the best rates.

Velonas Jungle Luxury Suites, Florence, Italy

Accommodation Posted on Sat, June 29, 2019 09:28PM

(For the full review and more photos, see the July 2019 issue of our magazine)

We stayed at Velona’s Jungle for a week whilst attending the EcoTrail 80k and there are several very good reasons why we believe you should stay there too (even if you’re not running!).

Firstly, it’s owned and run by a charming Florentine family who offer warm hospitality within an elegant, relaxed setting. Staying here will give you the authentic local experience that you’re probably looking for if you opt for a guesthouse/B&B rather than a large, impersonal chain hotel. They’re also very happy to help book you online tickets for the more popular art galleries, which is great since the online portals aren’t that clear but you’ll need those tickets if you want to avoid the long queues.

Secondly, the bedrooms and public areas are designed beautifully using the owner’s antiques and also their love of nature (17th century Chinese paintings hang alongside modern paintings of animals which are the work of a member of the family). The rooms are all well appointed, quiet and comfortable, and each is themed after a famous naturalist or writer such as Darwin, Fossey or Durrell.

Thirdly, the breakfast is magnificent and served by genuinely friendly, calm staff. All dishes are vegetarian and there are plenty of vegan options such as Tuscan Beans, lentils, fruit salad, chocolate torte and croissants. The pastries and cakes are made locally and everything is served on a 17th century French table. It’s no exaggeration to say that breakfast at Velona’s Jungle was one of the highlights of our stay in Florence.

Fourth, it’s pet friendly! Regardless of breed or size, the owners will provide a bed and food and water dishes for you upon arrival, and can arrange grooming, walking, and dogsitting services.

Fifth, Velona’s is very near to transport links. The main train station, where either the train or bus from Pisa airport drops you, is a 15 minute walk away, or a 5 minute tram ride. And just across the road is another smaller train station from where you leave for the Good Tastes of Tuscany cookery class, which I recommend.

It’s also an easy walk to all the major sites of central Florence. A 20 minute walk along the Arno river will leave you at Ponte Vecchio, the Uffizi Gallery and the Duomo. Piazza Michelangleo and the Accademia are 10 minutes more.

I thought it worth reprinting the following description, given me by the owners, as it shows the high level of thought that’s gone onto the property and their aims.

“Velona’s Jungle is a chic yet welcoming boutique hotel in the center of Florence, where guests can savor a unique style of luxury paired with a true passion for hospitality and the environment. Our suites are perfect for curious travelers who love discovering unusual and unforgettable accommodations, meeting warm local hosts, and experiencing the authentic side of Florence’s history, culture, and cuisine.

Velona’s Jungle is a designer oasis where many of the elegant objets d’art and furnishings date from the mid century, when the family’s patriarch Pasquale Velona – a respected Florentine art dealer – began collecting pieces during his travels in Italy and abroad. His fabulous finds from trips through Florence, Rome, Naples, London, Paris, and Vienna in the 1950’s were paired exquisitely with the prestigious antique and period furnishings from his gallery, creating a one-of-a-kind home.

Veronica and her mother Serena added to the original collection, carefully selecting works by contemporary artists, fabrics and decorative accents by favorite designers, and choice books and sculpture…each chosen with the same care and passion as the grandfather and together creating the eclectic whole that is now Velona’s Jungle.

True luxury travel is that which sustains local cultures and is based on an ethical and responsible style which guarantees that future generations of travelers will be able to enjoy the same beautiful land and cityscapes. At Velona’s Jungle Luxury Suites, we are passionate about sustainable travel which leaves the smallest possible impact on the environment, highlights authentic local experiences, and supports traditional cuisine.

We feature locally-sourced, organic 100% vegetarian products, recycle, encourage our guests to discover Florence by foot or bike and the surrounding region of Tuscany by train, and recommend shops, markets, and boutiques which carry local gourmet and artisan products and vintage treasures.

Each morning we serve a healthy and balanced breakfast with freshly-made vegan sweet and savory pastries and croissants so you’ll be ready to set off and explore Florence.

Our breakfast menu includes a number of delicious homemade selections, including freshly-mixed muesli, fruit juices and smoothies, organic jams, tarts and cakes, cookies, and traditional Tuscan breakfast dishes with a modern, healthy twist.

Want to take it easy in the morning? No problem, we serve breakfast until noon!

Your beloved pet is welcome in the suites at Velona’s Jungle Luxury Suites, regardless of breed or size. We provide a bed and food and water dishes just the right size for them upon arrival, and can arrange grooming, walking, and dogsitting services.

We can also recommend the best walks to take with your furry friend during your stay in Florence and pet-friendly restaurants and sights in the city center.

Velona’s Jungle has four suites, each one created with a unique style:

Livingstone Suite
This deluxe suite soothes with a palette of warm earth tones and soft shades of green, echoing the colors of a lush virgin forest. Measuring 28 square meters, the Livingstone Suite features a sumptuous canopy bed, an elegant living area, and an ensuite bathroom with a rainshower and chromotherapy lights.

Minibar with complimentary beverages and snacks – Electric kettle for hot drinks – Flat screen tv – Luxury bath products – King size bed – Foam mattress topper – Luxury bed linens – Double pillows – Laptop safe – Free wifi – Air conditioning

Darwin Suite
Sophisticated luxury paired with animal magnetism make this eclectic room one of the most unique in all of Florence. Black lacquered furnishings and African-inspired prints and decor are offset by glowing golden walls and warm parquet floors. The 25 square meter Darwin Suite has a reading corner and an ensuite bathroom with a rainshower.

Minibar with complimentary beverages and snacks – Electric kettle for hot drinks – Flat screen tv – Luxury bath products – King size bed – Foam mattress topper – Luxury bed linens – Double pillows – Laptop safe – Free wifi – Air conditioning

Fossey Suite
Settle in and relax, but don’t be fooled by the refined neutral tones and tranquil peace in this 30 square meter deluxe suite. There’s a touch of jungle fever in the turquoise accents, feathered table lamps, and playful animal prints and textiles. The Fossey Suite has a walk-in closet, two armchairs, desk, and ensuite bathroom with a rainshower.

Minibar with complimentary beverages and snacks – Electric kettle for hot drinks – Flat screen tv – Luxury bath products – King size bed or two single beds – Foam mattress topper – Luxury bed linens – Double pillows – Laptop safe – Free wifi – Air conditioning

Durrell Suite
You’ll be charmed by this whimsical yet stylish tropical oasis, and with the chic palm tree wall decor, playful fern bathroom ceiling, and lighthearted “feathered friend” keeping you company, you’ll never want to leave this 28 square meters of paradise. The Durrell Suite has a balcony, two armchairs, desk, and ensuite bathroom with a rainshower.

Minibar with complimentary beverages and snacks – Electric kettle for hot drinks – Flat screen tv – Luxury bath products – Queen size bed – Foam mattress topper – Luxury bed linens – Double pillows – Laptop safe – Free wifi – Air conditioning

Velona’s Jungle is exquisitely Florentine yet a home from home and staying there is a unique experience. Check their website out for the best prices.

The Leicester Arms Hotel, Penshurst, UK

Accommodation Posted on Sun, February 17, 2019 05:19PM

Located in the beautiful Kent village of Penshurst and opposite the stunning Penshurst Place, The Leicester Arms is an olde worlde hotel, restaurant and bar full of the sort of charm and gentle, hushed feeling you’d expect from a historic English pub.

They have 12 bedrooms, an airy restaurant serving modern British cuisine, a private dining room that seats 24 people around one table for special event/weddings, plenty of parking, a solid range of beers, wine and cider and a scenic beer garden.

We arrived early, just as the pub was opening, as we wanted to make the most of the day at Penshurst Place.

The staff were welcoming and leaving our bags at reception was no problem. Later, around 5pm, when we returned from a wonderful day out our bags were in our room, which was comfy, large and with a modern-Victorian look to it.

Breakfast was included and excellent; decent coffee and juice, avocado on toast and if you wanted them, poached eggs on top. There was also a meat option, and cereals.

The same quality was applied to the bar food, which we had in the evening. The grilled veg baguettes were warm and fresh, the fries chunky and the salad well dressed. Meaning it wasn’t too dry, or oily, the avocado was perfectly ripe and every taste and texture worked together very nicely.

We enjoyed a couple of pints of Aspall’s with it, you can’t go wrong with that if you enjoy cider.

If you’re strict vegan you could easily ask them to hold the cheese, the staff were friendly and nothing was a hassle. This was solid, simple eating, exactly what we wanted after a long day sightseeing and as a bonus we only had to haul ourselves upstairs afterwards to bed, rather than drive anywhere! Definitely plan on eating here if you’re staying at the hotel, or if you’re just visiting Penshurst Place consider the hotel for a light dinner before heading home.

This is a real local style hotel, friendly, unique, stylish and ready to give you a true garden of England experience.

The Leicester Arms Hotel

The Amba Hotel Marble Arch, London, UK

Accommodation Posted on Sun, February 17, 2019 04:29PM

Just 5 minutes walk from Marble Arch Tube station and Hyde Park, sitting right on Oxford St and across the road from one of Primark’s flagship stores, the location of this 4 star hotel is hard to beat.

We loved our stay here whilst seeing the sights (Buckingham Palace is a half hour walk away, as is Trafalgar Square, and Hyde Park is great for pre-tourism running), the room was quiet, the service excellent, as was the food, and the plate of deserts and the handwritten welcome card left in our room on our first evening was a lovely touch.

The suite was huge, the bed very comfortable…

…and we had access to the executive lounge, which we’d recommend you take advantage of. It’s where we relaxed after our days out and where we ate breakfast (buffet style with a mix of traditional English and Continental alongside felafel, humus and fresh salad if you’d rather more of a Middle Eastern start to the day). Snacks were available all day, with scones and jam among the offerings from lunch until about 5, then canapes from then until 7, and all the while the soft drinks, hot drinks, wine and beer were all complimentary.

We’d stay again in a heartbeat and we recommend you do to. Check out the website for the best deals.

The Amba Hotel Marble Arch

Travelodge Abingdon Road, Oxford, UK

Accommodation Posted on Thu, January 17, 2019 01:06PM

The Travelodge on Abingdon Road is about 2 miles out of the city centre and easily reached by car or bus.

First of all, we must say that the vegan breakfast we had at this Travelodge was the best ever! I’m English, have had a full English all over my fair homeland and nothing touches this one. You can also eat vegetarian/omnivore here, too.

Every component was just right, from the non greasy Linda McCartney vegan sausages, tomatoes and mushrooms to the perfectly seasoned baked beans. Add to the fact that it’s buffet style and that there are plenty of side choices (cereals, pastries, fruits) and you have a real feast that’ll set you up for a day of sightseeing. You have to pay a little extra for it on top of the room rate but believe me, it’s worth every penny, and it’s served in a pleasant, airy downstairs area that we really enjoyed starting our day in.

The hotel itself is about 2 miles out of the city centre and easily reached by bus. We got off the airport bus in the centre of Oxford, then bought a bus ticket on a local bus that allowed us unlimited 24 hour travel on Oxford public transport (you buy these tickets on any bus) so this meant our journey from town to hotel cost around GBP1 each way. The bus dropped us at the park and ride, a 3 minute walk up the road from the hotel.

Our room was comfy, clean, modern and although it looked out on a main road it wasn’t noisy at all, the window insulation was excellent.

Early check in/late check out is offered for a small extra fee, there is strong wifi and there are cheaper deals to be had if you book well in advance.

And if you enjoy running, there’s a path leading all the way into Oxford; jogging around Christchurch College in the early morning when there were few people around was one of the highlights of my trip.

It’s also a convenient location for visiting the outstanding Blenheim Palace, which can be easily reached using a bus from the city centre.

Travelodge Abingdon Road

Kelly Creek Hotel, Cahuita, Costa Rica

Accommodation Posted on Thu, October 04, 2018 09:06PM

One of our favourite hotel experiences in Costa Rica, right next to the Cahuita National Park and separated only by a narrow creek, so animals are easily seen from the hotel. The owner, Erica, is a caring, experienced and genuine host, always ready for a good conversation. Erica serves up a lovely breakfast, the coffee and company is top class. And the rooms are great value and beautifully appointed, too, but there are only 4, so do reserve. Here are some photos from our stay.

The hotel front gate.
View of the sea from the hotel front gate.
Our room!
Another view of the same room.
View into the bathroom. There was a spacey shower in there.
Erica, our kind and generous host.
Another room in the hotel.
Relaxing on the hotel terrace.
Many animals and birds can be seen from the breakfast table.
A wild raccoon meets one of the hotel cats in the creek.
Relaxing on the veranda at night, listening to the jungle.
Monkeys are frequent visitors to the hotel.

The Cahuita National Park is just a minutes walk from the hotel. To give you an idea of what you can expect there, here are a few photos we took with a regular camera whilst we wandered there one day.

If you’d like to learn more about Kelly Creek Hotel and book direct with them, their website is here