travel

London

London is my home city, so this post will be slightly different in terms of ‘exploring’ but I LOVE London and having lived here for years, am confident I can recommend amazing restaurants and fun things to do for your weekend stay in the city!


  • Currency: British Pound
  • Local time: GMT
  • Language: English

Stay: Shoreditch House

Even though I live in London, I’ve stayed in hotels multiple times in the city. Most recently, I stayed at Shoreditch House – which is part of the Soho House group – for the weekend. Although it’s a private members club, you can book to stay in the hotel as a non-member if they have availability, and as a hotel guest you get full access to the club facilities for the duration of your stay.

The room was tastefully decorated and the bed was extremely comfortable, and the bathroom fully stocked with Cowshed products added to the luxury! The club itself was amazing, and the rooftop pool was the perfect place to chill out with a cocktail at the end of the day.


Eat: Flour & Grape, M Victoria,  Le Mercury, London Steakhouse Co, Table Cafe, Gaucho, Rabot 1745

There are so many places I could list here, but these are a selection of my favourites and a brief reason why. Roll over the photos to see where each one was taken.

Flour & Grape, Bermondsey: A relaxed and informal pasta restaurant with a simple but excellent menu and an extensive wine list.

M Victoria: Victoria: There are also M restaurants in the City and Twickenham, but the classy dining room and wine store on the top floor make Victoria my favourite. The Wagyu beef here is exceptional.

Le Mercury, Islington: Amazing French bistro dining in a relaxed atmosphere, with extremely reasonable prices.

London Steakhouse Co, City: A Marco Pierre White steakhouse with locations in the City and Chelsea, the steak here is incredible and the service was also impeccable.

Table Cafe, Southwark: For one of the best brunches in London, head to Table, located near the Tate Modern if you feel like being cultured afterwards!

Gaucho, City wide: There are several Gaucho’s over the city, and all offer excellent quality food in modern and sophisticated dining areas.

The Lemon Tree, Covent Garden: Excellent Thai food served in a small but cute restaurant area above the pub. Booking essential to secure a table.

Rabot 1745, Borough Market: Located in the bustling Borough Market, this Hotel Chocolat owned restaurant manages to incorporate chocolate in every dish on the menu. Amazing!


Do: Borough Market, Thames Cruise, Kew Gardens, Bermondsey Beer Mile

Borough Market is located at the foot of London Bridge, and is an amazing food market selling local produce ranging from breads and cheeses to brownies and paella. Visit to pick up some fresh produce or stop for lunch at one of the many stalls selling hot food to takeaway. The full market is open Wednesday – Saturday, with limited traders on Mondays and Tuesdays. The market is closed on Sundays.

No trip to London is complete without taking a boat tour on the Thames. There are many options to choose from, whether you simply hop on a Thames Clipper boat that runs as public transport along the river, or book a spot on an official tour boat – some even serve afternoon tea for that traditional British experience! The Visit London website has a list of the top tours on offer.

Kew Gardens is located in South West London, and is a botanical garden that is home to “largest and most diverse botanical and mycological collections in the world”. Entry to the gardens starts from £16 for adults and £4 for children if you buy online.

For all the beer lovers out there, I highly recommend taking part in a Bermondsey Beer Mile tour. Located South of the river, this stretch of bars, pubs and breweries run for (you guessed it, a mile!) and on the tour you’re given the chance to not only sample the locally brewed beers, but also meet some of the brewers behind them!

travel

Bratislava

I visited Bratislava with my sister as part of a weekend break combined with Vienna. We spent a day and a half exploring the city, taking in the sights and trying the local food, and it turned out to be one of the prettiest cities I’ve been to!

Sample itinerary


  • Currency: Euro
  • Local time: GMT +1
  • Language: Slovak, German

Stay: Old Town

Bratislava is a very small city; you really can walk everywhere in the centre of town, and so technically it doesn’t matter where you stay – everywhere will still be accessible!

We chose to stay in Old Town Bratislava, which was covered in cobbled streets lined with cafes and restaurants, all seeming to lead to Hlavné námestie (Main Square).

We stopped off at a lovely wine bar in the square, aptly named ‘Wine Not?’, which had lots of outdoor seating complete with patio heaters and blankets, meaning that just because the temperature drops, the people watching doesn’t have to end! As night falls, the fountain in the middle of the square comes to life, lit up in an array of colours and makes for a great instagram shot, if thats your thing!

There were a wide selection of Airbnbs available all over the city, and all at extremely reasonable prices. Ours was on Panksá, a pedestrianized street one road behind the main square, and we loved that we could throw open the windows and look down into the streets below, watching the hustle and bustle of the city.


Do: Bratislava castle, Michaels Gate, Old Town

Bratislava castle is like something out of a fairytale, and is visible from most points in the city. It’s well worth taking some time to wander around this historic building – A gentle but definite uphill climb from the city centre will get you to the edge of the walls, and from there you can explore at your leisure.

In the middle of Old Town stands one of the oldest town buildings – Michaels Gate, or Michalska Brana as its known locally. For a small fee, you can enter via a discreet door from the street and find yourself inside a small museum, housing the Exhibition of Weapons. Wander around the museum inside the tower, climbing small flights or stairs as you go, and you will find yourself at the top of the tower, offering an observation deck with excellent views all across the city. A must do on a sunny day!

Human sized sculptures are dotted all over Old Town, and prove quite the tourist attraction. Often queues of people waiting to be photographed with these, it’s a must-have picture for the collection from your trip to Bratislava! Cumil ‘The Watcher’ was our favourite, although we got a few strange looks when we decided to lay down next to him when it was our turn for a photo!


Eat: No1. Slovak Pub, Modra Hviezda, Urban House

No trip to Bratislava is complete without a trip to No1. Slovak Pub. A tourist hotspot maybe, but its a chance to throw yourself into the culture and experience local Slovakian food in a (very warm) quirky pub in the centre of town. It was our first stop after dropping our bags off, and although on reflection we paid quite a lot for the food, I would 100% recommend it as an easy introduction to the cuisine.

We only had one evening in Bratislava, so we wanted to make sure we chose well for dinner. We had been recommended a particular restaurant by our lovely Airbnb host, and so we set out on foot (you really can walk everywhere!) to hunt the place down. Tucked away underneath the castle is the amazing Modra Hviezda – A real gem in the city! Slightly tricky to find, but more than worth it when you do, the food was outstanding and of very high quality; very reasonable too. Apparently it is always extremely popular (mainly with locals who book tables weeks in advance) so its worth giving a call to see if they have space!

If you’re after a spot of brunch in the city, head to Urban House, A fun and lively coffee house serving an excellent brunch menu. We went for avocado on toast with a poached egg and were not disappointed!

travel

Dublin

Dublin was my first taste of Ireland, and I quickly discovered that the Irish are about the friendliest people you’ll meet! The city is very compact, so everything is in walking distance – Even the Guinness Storehouse which is the other side of town.

Sample itinerary


  • Currency: Euro
  • Local time: GMT
  • Language: English

Stay: City centre

Dublin City centre is fairly small, and so anywhere with a central postcode will be fine for exploring. We walked everywhere on foot (even home from a night out!)

There was a large group of us – 8 in total – and so we chose to stay in an Airbnb so that we could all stay together. This worked out well in terms of food too, as we cooked breakfast in each morning (food bills in Dublin quickly add up, it’s not the cheapest city!) and were also able to go back and enjoy the communal living space in the evening that you wouldn’t get with a hotel.


Do: Guinness Storehouse, Irish pubs

You can’t go to Ireland and not drink. Well, this is what I was told when I attempted to go whilst partaking in Dry January! Turns out it was true. Our very first stop when we got out of the cab from the airport was a pub, The Ferryman, which turned out to be a traditional Irish pub full of locals – Perfect start to the weekend! We visited many more pubs over the weekend, some more touristy than others, but we had a brilliant evening in Whelans, a live music venue in the heart of town that is a favourite of Ed Sheeran and also the filming location of PS I love you…

The Guinness Storehouse is a must-do if it’s your first trip to Dublin. We timed our visit so that there was time to explore the factory (upon entry, you wander around at your own pace – expect to spend around an hour doing so) and make it to the Gravity bar at the top for sunset. Your entry ticket includes a pint of Guinness in the bar, and the views you get from the top are brilliant. It’s worth noting that tickets for the Storehouse can be purchased in advance on their website, and doing so will save you money and queuing time on the day.


Eat: Chai Yo, 777

Dinner in Dublin needn’t be an expensive affair. Chai Yo was recommended to us by a friend who had previously been to Dublin, telling us ‘the food is great and you’ll have a lot of fun’. And wow, did we have fun! The waiting staff turn what could be a standard Thai meal into a full on party; singing, dancing and performing at tables in-between courses being served. The entertainment would have been enough for me to recommend it, but as it turns out the food was also excellent, and the bill wasn’t eye watering either! (Tip: Check out the set menu, 4 courses for €17.50 can’t be argued with!)

If you weren’t specifically looking for it, you would walk straight past 777, but it’s worth seeking out as this Mexican is truly a hidden gem of the city. The funky restaurant has great music, an expansive menu and excellent cocktails. The best bit? On a Sunday, every dish is €7.77 – A welcome break from the usually expensive dining out in Dublin.

travel

Copenhagen

Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark, is the perfect place for a weekend city break, and even if you’re visiting for just a couple of days, theres plenty you can pack in to get a real taste of Danish life.


  • Currency: Danish Krone
  • Local time: GMT +1
  • Language: Danish

Stay: Inner City

Copenhagen is pretty compact, so most places are accessible by foot. Staying in the inner city area (we were near Nørreport station) made it super easy to get around, and there are lots of reasonably priced Airbnbs in the area to let you experience a true Scandinavian way of life.


Do: Nyhavn, Freetown Christiania, Canal tour

A trip to Copenhagen isn’t complete without a visit to Nyhavn (New Harbour) with its brightly coloured houses lining the canal. Visit early in the day to avoid the crowds, and don’t get sucked into the tourist trap restaurants along the water – It’s much cheaper to walk a few minutes beyond and find somewhere to eat there. (Theres a great street food area just over the bridge into Christiania, more on this below).

Based largely around the water, a canal tour is a must do to see the city from boat level. There are several tour companies that offer 60 minute cruises departing from Nyhavn – The cheapest is Canal Tours Copenhagen at 50DKK (around £6) per person, but expect to queue!

Freetown Christiania is a self-proclaimed autonomous district in Copenhagen, and is a must see! Incredible street art and a laid back vibe takes you into a different world from the busy tourist area of Nyhavn, and its the perfect place to visit to pick up a cheap beer and sit with the locals in the sunshine. Please note that once you enter Freetown, the taking of photos is prohibited.


Eat: Neighbourhood, Mad & Kaffe, Broens Gadekøkken

If you’re looking for a cool spot for dinner that won’t break the bank, head to Neighbourhood and enjoy their selection of low-carb pizzas and an excellent cocktail menu. There are two locations in the city, and its worth noting the one in Nørreport takes bookings.

Brunch is a particular favourite weekend hobby for the Danish, and if you’re looking for a great meal and to eat where the locals do, make your way to Mad & Kaffe – But be prepared to queue! You can design your own brunch here, selecting 3, 5 or 7 items from a list of options they give you. Highly recommend adding an iced coffee to your order – they’re amazing!

For great street food head over the bridge from Nyhavn to Broens Gadekøkken (The Bridge Street Market). There is a wide selection of stalls and a couple of bars – A perfect place to stop on a sunny day, and conveniently located as a pit stop on your way to Christiania.

travel

Amsterdam

Amsterdam is one of my favourite European cities, and I head back whenever I can. I’ve done the bars/clubs/Red Light District all before, so now when I go its all about relaxing by the canals and enjoying the slower pace of life.

Sample itinerary


  • Currency: Euro
  • Local time: GMT +1
  • Language: Dutch

Stay: Kimpton De Witt

The gorgeous Kimpton De Witt hotel is an excellent choice for luxury accommodation in Amsterdam. This 5* hotel offers exceptional service, luxury rooms and a great on site restaurant and house bar. They also have a wine hour at 5pm every day in the lobby for guests to meet up and swap tips on the city, along with free bicycles that can be hired from the concierge. What’s not to love?!

The location is perfect for exploring the nearby canals and Jordaan district, and is located only a few minutes walk from Centraal Station, meaning whether you arrive by aeroplane and jump on the quick intercity train or by Eurostar direct into Centraal Station, you can be checked into your hotel within 10 minutes of stepping off the train.


Do: Hire bikes, Red Light Secrets museum, canal cruise, A’dam Lookout, Albert Cuyp Markt, ice skating

When you ask most people what they associate with Amsterdam, the answer is usually one of two things; canals and bicycles. (Okay, there is a third – we all know about the ‘coffee shops’ in the city, but I’ll leave that up to you to explore if it’s your thing!)

There are plenty of places all over the city that offer bicycle hire, and most for a very reasonable price too! Pick one up and set aside a good couple of hours to go exploring – The numerous bike lanes make cycling around a joy, and its a great way to cover large amounts of the city in a small time frame. The iamsterdam website advertises a variety of cycling tours for those who wish to be guided through the city, and you can choose whether you want the focus to be on historical monuments or hotspots for Dutch cuisine.

The Red Light Secrets museum is a fascinating look into life in Amsterdams sex industry. The audio guides offer unique stories from women who have worked as prostitute in the city, and with the museum housed in an old brothel, it’s a great way to learn many of the secrets of this famous aspect of the city.

The A’DAM Lookout is located in Amsterdam North, just a short (free) ferry ride from Centraal Station. Aside from offering panoramic views across the city, there is a also bar and a restaurant at the top, and for those feeling brave, Over The Edge – Europes highest swing! Entry to the lookout is €12, and a swing ticket is €5. Pre-book to avoid the queues, then simply take the lift to the top, buckle up and enjoy an exhilarating ride that literally takes you over the edge of the building. The best bit? You get a free digital memento to keep as proof of your bravery!

Head down to the Albert Cuyp Markt in Amsterdam South to experience Europe’s largest daytime market. Selling everything from clothing and jewellery to fresh fruit and baked goods, there is plenty to see and you’re guaranteed not to go hungry! Particular mention goes to the freshly baked bitterballen and the Stroopwafels that are made in front of you and filled wiht either caramel or chocolate sauce!

If you’re heading in the winter time, make sure to check out the Ice* Amsterdam rink by the Rijks museum. Open November – February, it’s a great activity for children and adults alike, and each ticket includes skate hire and gives you a two hour slot to enjoy the ice. Wrap up warm and take some gloves – They’re mandatory!


Eat: Daalder, La Perla, The Butcher, Locanda, Senses, Pancakes Amsterdam. Jottum

Amsterdam is one of my favourite cities to eat in, and for good reason. The dining options are endless and cover all budgets.

Offering a unique dining option in the canal belt, Daalder serves up a ‘chefs surprise menu’, meaning you simply choose between 3, 4 or 5 courses at lunch or a 5 or 7 course dinner, and the chef will get to work on cooking for you! They always check for allergies or specific dislikes, and after that, its all a surprise! I particularly recommend opting for the wine pairings to accompany each course – They were expertly chosen and really added to the meal. Expect to spend around €130 for a 3 course lunch for two including wine pairings.

La Perla pizzeria, located in the heart of the Jordaan district is always packed, and rightly so. Fresh pizzas are the focus here, and the menu offers plenty of choice (Prosciutto San Daniele is a personal favourite). Turn up early and put you name down, then head to a canal side bar for a drink or two until your table is ready.

Also in the Jordaan area is Locanda, a cute Italian with a small but excellent menu of homemade Italian food. Tables line the streets outside in the warmer weather, but the inside of the restaurant is the star here – Think cozy interiors with small candlelit tables. Reservations are recommended here as it fills up quickly!

If decent burgers are your thing, then look no further than The Butcher. With a metal interior, it may not look like the most welcoming of burger bars, but the food more than makes up for it. (‘The Daddy’ is my personal favourite, but ‘The Butchers Wife’, with a grilled chicken breast instead of beef, is also an excellent choice).

For an incredible dining experience, head to Senses, headed up by chef Lars Bertelsen. With an emphasis on food art, every dish is exquisitely presented and the flavours are expertly paired. Choose the wine pairing option to accompany your meal to make it extra special! A 5 course dinner with wine pairings will cost around €110.

Jottum is the place to go for great tapas. A warm and buzzing restaurant with an extensive menu and delicious sangria to really give you that feeling of Spain! Particularly recommend the chorizo croquettas and the manchego and salami board.

You can’t visit Amsterdam without having pancakes, and while there are many, many options, there are our picks… For amazing fluffy pancakes and a warm welcome, head to Pancakes Amsterdam on Prinsengracht. They offer a set menu for around €14 including pancakes, orange juice and a hot drink. For a more traditional dutch crepe, head to The Pancake Bakery, also on Prinsengracht. Their cheese, bacon and mushroom pancake was excellent, and there is unlimited syrup on every table for guests. Perfect!


Drink: Cafe T’Smalle, P96, Super Lyan, Cafe Roenie’s

For a calming canal-side drink, I recommend heading to either Cafe T’smalle or P96 (a few minutes walk apart, both on Prinsengracht). Cafe T’smalle is a traditional wooden panelled pub, and is as lovely in summer when you can sit on the outdoor terrace with a cold beer as it is in winter when you can enjoy the candlelit interior with a glass of red wine. P96 is perfect for summer afternoons, as they have a stationary boat on the canal that you can enjoy your drinks on in the sunshine, watching the boats cruise along the canal, but it’s equally as great in winter, with cozy interiors and a great list of bar snacks to enjoy.

Attached to Kimpton De Witt hotel is the newly opened Super Lyan – the first international venture from Mr Lyan. With a gorgeous neon bar, plenty of seating and an extensive cocktail list (with two on draught!), make time for a drink here during your stay in the city. We particularly recommend the cucumber champagne!

Down near Vondelpark you’ll find Cafe Roenie’s – a laid back locals bar serving cold beer and a small selection of wines. A lovely ‘off the beaten track’ place to stop for a drink if you’ve spent the afternoon working up a thirst cycling around the park!