The Manchester Weekend Guide

Manchester is one of the, if not the most, fastest-growing cities in England. Below, we have handpicked and tested some of the newest restaurants and stayed in the snazziest new boutique hotel to make sure your next city break is nothing but top-notch.

Whether you are travelling from within the United Kingdom or further out, Manchester is pretty easy to get to by both train and flights – no excuse not to visit it. If you are not yet convinced about visiting this North-Western city, see here for five reasons why it’s better than London

All the up and coming places in Manchester for your next city break

Where to stay in Manchester

The chic hotel chain Dakota has recently opened its fifth hotel in the country right in the centre of Manchester. It is a maximum five-minute walk from Piccadilly train station. Whilst there are plenty of hotels in Manchester, Dakota is probably the most elegant one you’ll find. I felt like an A-list staying there and that is no exaggeration. Before you even step foot into its front doors, you are greeted by the brightest of smiles and throughout your stay, the staffs are attentive without being intruding, which I find can sometimes be the case with other hotels. Book your stay here.

Dakota Manchester

Breakfast Manchester Guide
Breakfast at Dakota

Where to eat in Manchester

Generally speaking, the food scene here in Manchester is pretty impressive. I’d say its variety of restaurants is almost as competitive as London. Many chains had their first restaurants in London have now made their way up to the North, starting right here in Manchester, and Dishoom is no exception. The menu at this Bombay restaurant works just the same as the ones they have in London, with a few dishes that are exclusively available in Manchester. This includes the delicious and generously portioned Chef’s special and the spicy chilli chicken. Go there for a meal or even just for drinks at night before you hit the clubs next door!

Manchester

But first..

For a nice cup of coffee, head over to Over Under for your caffeine fix. This chic new place in town is a coffee shop by day and a cocktail bar by night. You know who’ll be staying there all day!

Enjoy the creative spin on the modest English dish, fish and chips.

If you’re feeling fancy, indulge in a meal like no others at Six by Nico, a fabulously new restaurant open by the Michelin chef Nico Simeone. While fine dining can be intimidating, Six by Nico makes the experience accessible to all, in its concept and price, and super enjoyable. The six-course meal is the chef’s creative spin on the modest English dish, fish and chips. There’s also an option to take it up a notch by adding an expertly paired wine to your six-course meal for only £26. For those who have to be more cautious with their diet, 3Squared is the first Free-From restaurant in town, serving deliciously good food with care and without 9 of the inflammatory ingredients that are known for causing some of the most common allergies.

Six by Nico Manchester

Worth a mention

While this isn’t exactly a new spot, I couldn’t not give Brewski a shout out – they do the best mac and cheese in town and also a selection of brunch food, coffees and alcoholic beverages! Go there and see (and try) it for yourself! Don’t want to limit yourself to just one cuisine? Make sure you check out the biggest and apparently, the best street food fair every Friday and Saturday at Grub. They also do Plant Powered Sundays with a selection of vegan food for grab with live music. Perfect place to spend your sunny weekend!

You can find beautiful handmade crafts and vintage clothes every first Sunday of the month

What to do in Manchester

To begin with, make your weekend a fun one by challenging your friends to a game of minigolf at Junkyard Golf or a few rounds of darts at Flight Club. This isn’t your usual pub game. This is the most innovative and thrilling game of darts you will ever play, trust me! Can’t decide between shuffleboard or beer pong? In this case, go to Roxy Ball Room on Deansgate and do both!

Markets

Since you’re there for the weekend, why not check out the weekend markets in town? The Makers Market happens twice a month in Manchester. You can find beautiful handmade crafts and vintage clothes every first Sunday of the month in the big open space at Great Northern. Secondly, on the second Sunday of the month on the other side of town in the Northern Quarter, you’ll find everything from freshly baked goods to arts and crafts. For all other Sundays, smell your way to the street food market up in the Piccadilly Gardens

Manchester Guide

What are you waiting for? Book your next weekend getaway to Manchester right now and let us know if you try any of the recommendations above!

Love,

Chantelle

*Chantelle is one of our guest editor from Hong Kong. She has lived in three different countries and have travelled across many continents. Having been in England for the past nine years and graduated with a Law degree, she is now taking a break in Paris for the year as she figures out her next step in life. Always passport ready, she is an expert at traveling light and on a budget, although she still enjoys the occasional indulgence in a luxurious holiday. You can follow her on Instagram.

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Colours of Ostrava | Europe’s Hidden Festival

The very coolest festival location of the year has been found. An area surrounded by old, industrial buildings is the backdrop for a weekend full of music, workshops, films, theatre, discussions and games. And yet, it is still very unknown in The Netherlands and even Europe. Czech Republic’s best kept festival is Colours of Ostrava.

The Location

Is an international, multi-genre music festival in Ostrava. This city is located in the east of the Czech Republic and is the third biggest city in the country following Prague and Brno. The festival takes place on the breathtaking surroundings of Dolní Vítkovice – the site of former blast furnaces, mines and ironworks. It’s an absolutely stunning and unique industrial area (it looks like something out of a Mad Max movie set) which is being turned into a cultural centre. Colours of Ostrava won several prices such the ALMA Akropolis Live Music Awards for the best music event of the year in the concert / festival category.

Colours of Ostrava Festival

Colours of Ostrava won the Angel Award for the Music Event of the Year, Twice

The Music

During the 4 days in which the Colours of Ostrava festival took place, more than 150 bands played and there was a heaping dose of jazz, world music, rock, pop and alternative music. Although I was certainly not familiar with a large part of the line-up, I loved walking around and discovering new bands and artists. Perhaps the most interesting stage, and the one most prominent, was the Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey Experience. Surrounded by steel pipes and high industrial walls, tattoo artists were at work, a DJ booth was installed, movies were played, and two giant games of Jenga were placed against one of the walls. Overall, the festival had first-rate jazz performances, great (known and unknown) rock bands, and international artists as The Cure, ZAZ, Years & Years and Florence + The Machine. Also a nice fact: Every year the organization gives a handful of emerging artists from the Czech Republic the opportunity to put their names on the map.

Colours of Ostrava Festival

The line-up of previous years included: Imagine Dragons, Norah Jones, Kygo, Clean Bandit, Rudimental, Ziggy Marley, London Grammar, Aurora, Paul Kalkbrenner & many more.

Food & Drinks

The food at the festival was fantastic and enormously varied. Many stalls were scattered throughout the site where, in addition to the typical festival food (burgers, fries, pasta, pizza), there were also many Czech specialties and healthy dishes available. I have never seen so many vegan and vegetarian food stalls on a festival as this one. Moreover, the price of the food is cheaper than it is at festivals in Western Europe. For a (vegan) burger you pay around 5 euros, for fries 2 euros, for a hot dog 2 euros and for a mushroom quesadilla 3 euros. For the drinks you first must do a one time purchase of 1 euro for a plastic cup. You can clamp this cup on your pants or belt which is very handy. The drinks were also very affordable. A beer of 500 ml only costed 2 euros and a G&T was around 4 euros.

 Colours of Ostrava Festival

Colours of Ostrava really is a fairly undiscovered gem!

The People

On the first day of the festival, I wanted to explore the terrain and started wandering on my own. I wasn’t feeling solo for long as I came in contact with some lovely locals who showed me around. We had surprisingly little difficulty in understanding each other as they could speak English quite well. Most of the food stall staff were also able to speak English and could translate items on their menu if needed. Overall, about 90% of the festival visitors came from the Czech Republic and neighbouring countries like Poland and Slovakia. The remaining 10% consisted visitors from all over the world.

 Colours of Ostrava

How to get there?

A distance of 1.300 km needs to be covered if you travel from Amsterdam to Ostrava. But there are several alternate travel options. Colours of Ostrava offers a bus that is leaving from The Netherlands (and Belgium) every year, which will drop you off at the entrance of the festival. If you prefer to accelerate things, then the airplane will be the best option. From Amsterdam you can fly to Ostrava via Prague. After landing, shuttle services and taxis are available outside the doors of the airport to take you to the festival in no time. Another option is flying to Prague and then taking the train to Ostrava. If you prefer to travel on your own, a car is recommended for transportation. For this you invest half a day on a direct ride, but you can make your holiday a lot more interesting if you dive into the cities that you pass along the way. Berlin and Prague are perfect stopovers to hop through for example. Not in possession of a car and driver’s license? Take the train and go interrailing!

Train station Czech Republic

My Verdict

Overall, Colours of Ostrava has absolutely astonished me. Both the location and programme are filled with surprises that will make you return from this festival with a wealth of new experiences. What I personally found so fascinating about Colours of Ostrava was that it was so much more than just a music festival. Aside from the performances and dozens of food trucks selling wonderful food, there were tons of other activities to do. In addition, the festival is also a good option if you are on a budget. A ticket for the festival only costs €105 euros for all 4 days and for 9 euros per person and 10 euros per tent you spend the night at the campsite.

Colours of Ostrava, I will be back!

Love,

Iris

The best of Mykonos

Everybody has heard of Mykonos once in their lifetime. The island is part of the Cyclades islands and called the Ibiza of Greece. Known for its lavish parties and the jetset life, it has a lot more to offer than just that. Like many of you, I dislike mass tourism, so finding some less crowded spots on Mykonos seemed to be a quest. Lucky enough I did find some and I love to share these with you.

Mykonos Old Man

The Beaches:

Mykonos is surrounded by the Aegean sea so there are plenty beaches to choose from! But not all are suitable for what you might be looking for. If you have small children, you might want to visit the south east coast for example. For the best quiet beaches check these out:

The North:

» Fokos Beach (quiet, plus one small and tasty restaurant!)
» Merssini (private beach best for couples! No restaurant)

Mykonos has some quiet beaches
Staring in to the sea and feeling the warm sand at Fokos Beach

The South beaches:

» Kalaftis (beautiful, windsurfing, good for children)
» Kapari beach (great for couples, to get there you must go off road a little bit)
» Agios Ioannis Beach (some nice beach bars like Hippiefish but very chilled out and not crowded)


Kapari beach Mykonos
The hard to find Kapari beach. Ssst, it’s a secret!

The water on Mykonos is like.. wow.

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Eating well and enjoying the sound of children playing at Kalaftis beach

Accommodation:

Hotels can be expensive in the high season so if you’re looking for the best budget deal, check out the Paraga Beach Hostel at Paraga Beach. The view from the poolside is amazing and you won’t spend more than 120 euro’s for 3 nights depending on what accommodation type you will get. I slept in a 2 persons tent (TRB) with electricity but you can also hire a small tent for as little as 15 euro’s per night.  The only thing to be aware of is that on the left side of paraga beach you will find the infamous Paradise beach which is full of youngsters getting their groove on until 4 in the morning. Bring some earplugs and you should be fine though. The service at this hostel is great and they serve food all day long and even have a small supermarket.

Paraga Beach Hostel
The view from Paraga Beach Hostel was pretty amazing!

glamping at Paraga Beach Hostel Mykonos
Very basic but you can’t get a better deal in Mykonos than this one! 🙂



Paraga Beach Hostel Mykonos
Laying by the pool at Paraga Beach Hostel

Luxury Stay:

Next door to this hostel is an amazing boutique hotel called San Giorgio. This is a completely different experience and a big upgrade! I was lucky enough to get a tour and taste the amazing breakfast buffet. The hotel manager (who happened to be Dutch) explained to me that a lot of her guest come here to get that comfortable “home” feeling that large hotels don’t offer. San Giorgio’s architecture suits any type of traveller because it’s warm, stylish screams hippie chic.

San Giorgio Hotel, Mykonos
The bohemian entrance of San Giorgio Hotel

Their pool area is by far my favorite place of the hotel. Overlooking the aegan sea, you can chill here on large beds or relax at the bar next to the pool. I enjoyed my first healthy smoothly here and it cured my cold which I brought back from The Netherlands.
For rooms check their amazing website: sangiorgio-mykonos.com. 

San Giorgio Hotel, Mykonos
Endless views from the pool area

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A colorful vitamin boost!

San Giorgio also has a stylish little brother called the Scorpios beach club just on the other side of Paraga beach. Same architect, different management.
They just opened in May and it already attracts celebrities and the elite. I danced at sunset which is something you must do when coming to mykonos. Read about the best beach bars in Mykonos here. In the “club” they also have an amazing clothing shop where they sell one Mexican label called Caravana Montaecristo. They offer an exclusive capsule collection for luxury-minded globetrotting travelers.


Caravana Mykonos
The beautiful collection of  Caravana

Where to eat

The main town of Mykonos is called Chora. Be aware that it’s crowded at nights and you will walk through the small street at a slow pace. The best time to visit is in the morning. I have to be honest and I have to say I was a little disappointed by the food in this area and it was overpriced when you compare it to the more secluded areas. One restaurant I can highly recommend is Joanna’s Nikos Place Taverna. The food is amazing. Try the moussaka or the fresh fish from the grill! It’s situated at the left beach next to Chora and it can be busy. If you want a table with sea view, you must make a reservation.

Budget Tip:

Try and visit your nearest bakery and order a feta and spinach roll or if you like something sweet, try the pastry filled with cream. Both are typically Greek and this way you can have lunch on the beach and save some cash! A win win right?

Verdict:

Mykonos is a must visit if you like the jetset life, don’t mind to spend a little more cash than usual and dance until sunset. This island hasn’t lost his raw beauty yet so definitely check out the afore mentioned beaches and enjoy the white and blue houses! If you’re looking for a more quiet island, check out Naxos, or Folegandros which are nearby.

Love,

Elke

5 x Alternative City Trips in France

When you think of a city trip in France, people often think of Paris. Yes, Paris is a wonderful city to explore, but there is so much more! Think of art and culture for example. We’ve lined up 5 French cities that are worth adding onto your city trip list.

1. Marseille

This French and sunny city belongs to the five largest cities in France. Subsequently, it’s also the oldest city in France and this is the charm of Marseille. Situated next to the Mediterranean Sea, the harbour plays an important part to the daily life of Marseille. Eating fresh fish is a must and the same goes for walking around at old Le Vieux-Port harbour and the historic Fort Saint-Jean. A footbridge high above the sea links the Fort Saint-Jean to the emblematic MuCEM, the first museum entirely dedicated to Mediterranean civilizations, directly located by the sea. Don’t miss out the panoramic rooftop terrace which offers an amazing view on Marseille and the sea! From here you can also walk to the MuCEM, which is also an  architectural highlight from the outside. Marseille is also known for its many artist and in the neighbourhood Le Panier you’ll find many ateliers where you can buy art. Talking about crafts, the relatively new Soap Museum shows visitors how it’s made with the traditional tools. Small streets and squares make Le Panier a great place for a coffee on one of the outside terraces. No visit to Marseille is complete without a visit to the beach though. You have a few options but the most popular is Plage des Catalans, a sandy beach close to the city.

Mucem Marseille
Saint Jean Castle and Cathedral de la Major and the Vieux port in Marseille, France Mucem©OTCM

2. Metz

We passed Metz on our way back to the Netherlands last year and it was a great stop if you have a day or two. Metz is a city full of culture, many restaurants and worth a visit to the epic Gothic Cathedral. Did you know that Pompidou-Metz, has become the most visited cultural venues in France outside Paris? This contemporary and modern art institution is a must see on a rainy day (or any day for that matter). Metz has a lot of options when it comes to food. Market stalls, food events and restaurants are reasons why people in transit stop over. Are you planning to go to Metz this summer? With the digital arts festival Constellations de Metz the whole town becomes an exhibition. With the three different routes through the city you get to discover the city, as well as various impressive artworks, like the 5 km ‘Street Art’ route, which takes you past impressive sculptures, murals, installations and expositions.

Metz, France
Metz

3. Montpellier

The medieval streets of Montpellier are perfect for those who love to shop, but the city also offers the sea at just 10km away. For those that have an active lifestyle, Montpellier offers lovely cycling routes that pass vineyards and lakes that will bring you to the Mediterranean Sea. Montpellier is also proven to be hip & happening with the Marché Du Lez, a creative hotspot area where artist, shops, food trucks, restaurants and startups come together. Each month you will find a new exhibition or art show here. Check their agenda for more info. Are you into art? Pay a visit to MoCo Montpellier Contemporain, a multi-site institution dedicated to contemporary art that has opened on the 29th of June! Check out iLa Panacée, one of the three sites where you can have a drink or brunch and see an exhibition.

Montpellier, France
Creative hub March du Lez. ®-du-Lez

4. Tours

Like most French cities, delicious food and wine is in overload in Tours. Modern French cuisines will make you eat until there is no tomorrow and if we need to believe critics, you must try restaurant QG that uses local and seasonal products, making the flavours out of this world. In the same vein, but less high end, you could have lunch and drinks at La Guinguette, located at the foot of Pont Wilson. They also offer workshops, DJ’s and are open every day from May to September! A must visit is the central Place Plumereau in the historic centre of Tours, a pretty square surrounded by 15th-century half-timbered houses which are all listed as historic monuments. Secondly, Tours is located in the Loire Valley, so you can easily reach the castles. Don’t forget to check out the CCCOD, a contemporary art center and exhibition space with various exhibitions every year!

Tours, France
Tours, France

5. Nîmes

Let’s go back to ancient Rome shall we? Nîmes used to be an important outpost for the Roman Empire and is well known for it’s well preserved Roman monuments such as the Arena of Nîmes. The impressive arena was built about 2000 years ago arena but is still used for festivals and events. It comes as no surprise that Nîmes has a museum full of Roman history, the Musée de la Romanité which faces the Arena. But there is more. The Temple de Diane and La Maison Carrée are also great examples that ancient and modern style go well together. Don’t be fooled by the modern/abstract building, inside you can admire Roman pieces that date back thousands of years. From the rooftop you have a wonderful view over the city. Tickets are only €8,-.

Alternative city trips France
Musée de la Romanité and Arena of Nîmes, ®-Stéphane-Ramillon

So next time you are thinking of France, skip the usual city trips and go for something a little different!

Au revoir!

Elke

 

7 x Hidden Gems in Valencia

The Spanish city Valencia is the perfect weekend (or holiday) get-away and is only a 2.5-hour flight from the Netherlands. City, beach, park, and sailing, it is all there! However, if you feel like getting off the beaten path and see something different, here are some hidden gems and places that are often overlooked.

Bluebell Coffee

In the neighbourhood of Ruzafa you will find many trendy restaurants and bars. When you are there, take a visit to Bluebell Coffee for a delicious and healthy lunch. On the menu you will find homemade treats such as vegan tarts and banana bread, salads, avocado toast and fresh smoothies. The lovely inner garden is reminiscent of a tropical mini jungle. Carrer de Buenos Aires, 3

Bluebell Valencia

Petticoat Vintage

In trendy Ruzafa, you will also find many designer studios, art galleries and vintage shops. If you are a real vintage fanatic, you will become a real fan of the vintage store Petticoat. As a result, you will find unique pieces of good quality for a very nice price. Carrer de Sueca, 36

Vintage store Valencia

Almalibre

In the historic centre of Valencia, you will find the Açai bar Almalibre. Super fresh, super tasty and with a small terrace, making it the perfect place for lunch in the city centre. On the menu they have many goodies based on the Açai berry, all ecological and responsible. Carrer de Roteros, 16

Jardines de Monforte

The famous Turia park is one of the main attractions in Valencia. Another (smaller) park that is definitely worth a look is the Jardines de Monforte. These gardens are a stone’s throw away from the Turia park, but are skipped by many people. Because the gardens are somewhat hidden, you have to know of its existence to be able to enter it. Therefore, the park is perfect for when you want to enjoy some tranquillity. Carrer de Montfort, S/N

Valencia

El Saler Beach

El Saler beach is a good option if you want to escape the busier city beach. El Saler beach is located about 12 kilometres to the south of the city. The beach is surrounded by nature and has a relaxing dune landscape, with here and there paella restaurants. El Saler

San Tomasso

Stumbling upon this Italian restaurant in the city centre, was like finding a hidden treasure on a pretty lane, with great food and a delightful atmosphere. Secondly, waiters are quite fluent in English and the food was really more than excellent here. Carrer de la Corretgeria, 37

La Fabrica de Hielo

Although there is not much to see on the outside, inside this factory building is a gem that is host to live music, concerts, art workshops and locally sourced food. A wonderful place that is good for the eyes, ears and soul! Almost every day a live band performs in this venue, you can check their daily program hereCalle José Ballester Gozalvo, 37


Extra tips:

  • Ubify is the Uber in Valencia. Download the app and get home easily after a night out!
  • There is a ferry from Valencia to Ibiza, which takes approximately 5 hours. A fun and affordable way to explore Ibiza as well!
  • You can find even more Valencia tips and hotspots in this Guide if you are planning to visit sunny Valencia!

Love,

Iris

 

Discover North Western Sicily

We all know that Italy is for lovers. And so is Sicily. Lovers of people, lovers of food, lovers of ocean views and mountain roads. It doesn’t really matter what kind of love, Sicily is the perfect place to enjoy it. And here’s exactly where to do that in the North-Western side of this stunning island.

Dine your way through Trapani

The small city of Trapani isn’t the first spot people think of when they want to book a trip to Sicily. Which leaves Trapani a little bit undiscovered, always a good thing! It’s the type of town where you will get lost the first few times you walk around the city-center and every time you’ll discover something else to marvel about. Maybe an ancient church, the magnificent views from the boardwalk or a cute little cafe in a corner somewhere. Here you will find the most delicious food and drinks in narrow Italian alleys or on grand marble boulevards. Everything for very reasonable prices. And by reasonable I mean you can go for breakfast, lunch and dinner every night without a worry in your wallet. Feeling romantic? A must-go is Osteria I Vitelloni, situated in one of the main streets in the centre of Trapani. Order the tuna in a pistachio crust and let them pick the wine. Go for amazing ice-cream at Panna & Co. If that isn’t love in a cone.. You can thank me later.

osteria-i-vitelloni-sicily
Osteria I Vitelloni

Palermo

Scooter your way around

Trapani is also a perfect gateway to a ton of other places you must see while you are on this side of the island. A scooter will take you and your loved one(s) everywhere! Go to Marsala for instance, a famous wine town a little drive to the south. Along the way you’ll see the salt pans this area is known for and feel the wind in your hair. A little more inland (after a fun drive) you can find the majestic temple complex of Segesta. Another piece of the past can be found in Erice, a medieval town which you can find hovering on a mountain above Trapani. Get there by scooter or by cable car! Although I didn’t try it, I have been told you can buy the best canolli on the whole island here (why I didn’t try it myself will always be a mystery).

fre-sonneveld-19374

Whatever you do in Trapani, don’t forget to visits the Egadi Islands. They are only a boat ride away but you’ll feel as if you travelled back years in time. The little villages cannot be any more picturesque and the surrounding waters couldn’t be more azure. If you have the chance to stay a few days on one of these islands, go for it. Opting for a day trip? Don’t fall for the tourist trap, the packed boats. If you are on a ‘everything is possible’ trip, book the catamaran. 

Little more of a budget? Just take the ferry to one of the islands and rent a bike once you are there.

San Vito Lo Capo, just the sound of it makes you want to go

Trapani is the perfect place to stay and to explore this side of Sicily. However, if you are a beach lover, this town’s city beach won’t fulfil your sandy and salty dreams. Luckily, there are some options for you to get your toes touching some lovely blue water. When traveling a lot to find that perfect spot isn’t your cup of tea, then head over to San Vito Lo Capo. It’s possible to scooter there for a day trip from Trapani, or if you want to lounge around the beach for a few days you can book a place to stay even though it’s is a bit more touristy. This little coastal village offers a beach that makes you feel as if you are on a tropical island. There are plenty of cute shops and spots to grab a bite, put on your holiday hat and enjoy. Every year in September they host the Cous Cous Fest in San Vito. 

Not far from San Vito Lo Capo lies the Riserva Naturale Orientata Dello Zingaro, a nature reserve which holds some beautiful bays with rocky beaches and ridiculously azure water. Bring your goggles for some underwater fun with the fish! 

Chill in Cefalu

Want to head over to a different side of Sicily to chill? Cefalu is your town! From Trapani you can book a ticket with public transport and it will take little over half a day of travel by bus and train. Cefalu looks like the Italian coastal towns that you see in paintings. It’s got the maximum idyllic factor. There’s lots to do here if you want to, from sailing to an active volcano-island to day trips to other well-know Sicilian places like Taormina. Or you can just stroll through the paved alleys, have an iced-cappuccino every once in a while and stretch your legs on the beach. I have to admit, that latter was how I filled my days in Cefalu.

Sicily Cefalu view point

Take a hike!

Even if you are feeling the lazy vibe, you should get of your beach bed once to climb Rocca di Cefalu. This massive rock towers above Cefalu and will give you some breathtaking views and historical facts. It is quite the climb, leave your flip flops at home and put on some more solid footwear. Once you’re on the top, there are loads of spots for that perfect lovey-dovey selfie. Just like in Trapani, San Vito Lo Capo and probably all the Sicilian towns, the food in Cefalu is amazing and the amount of restaurants to try is enormous. You cannot leave without trying at least five different types of pasta (more is better in this case). Many restaurants have hidden terraces overlooking the sea, be there in time for sunset!

Club Med Cefalù

Give each other a kiss, and book that ticket to the North Western side of Sicily!

Love,

Jill

8x tips for a weekend citytrip to The Hague

I love springtime! For me it’s the best time for a citytrip. Last weekend I played the tourist in the royal, majestic The Hague. Let’s zoom in on some great trendy and even some vintage hotspots I figured out for you. Here’s the wanderlust citytrip to The Hague. 

Where To Eat

Food, food, food. I can think about it the whole day long if you give me the chance. Because I really see the daily ‘food moments’ as something important, I don’t take pleasure with every standard looking food spot just around the corner. It’s a discovery tour to find the gems! Below you’ll find a couple of (coffee) spots which caught my attention. pistachecafe.nl

Pistache Café

Located behind the royal palace ‘Noordeinde’, this healthy oriented hotspot is definitely one for your food bucket list. Why? The Pistachers only work with fresh ingredients and are figuratively allergic for E-numbers and other chemical stuff. Most of the foodies tried the bread with avocado, looked finger lickin’ good! I ordered the sweet potato pancakes – what a surprise – which were also yummy, but a bit too little if you’re hungry after a city walk 😉

KADE

Drop by and enjoy a good cup of coffee, fresh juice, breakfast, lunch or dinner. I’ve tried the Eggs Florentine which was really delicious. Tip: order the hollandaise sauce on the side. Especially, I would like to point out the genuine hospitality of the staff, thumps up for them. 

Little V

This Vietnamese hotspot is tha bomb! They’re famous for their homemade ice teas, worth to try. If you’ve ever been to Vietnam you definitely will taste the real Vietnamese buns, pho’s and spring rolls in the beating city heart of The Hague. Also the laid back ambiance is great. And for the dessert lovers? The chocolate mousse with a Vietnamese touch is the one you definitely have to order! 

vietnamese-food-lovers-this-is-your-spot-to-drop-by-in-the-hague
Vietnamese food lovers, this is your spot to drop by in The Hague

The Hague Bookstore

Located in the city center, this is the vintage spot for your shot of caffeine, cakes – the cake of dates is heavenly – and books. They have a kind of a garden where you can escape the hustle and bustle of The Hague. Sit back and relax! Website.

the-hague-bookstore-the-place-during-your-citytrip-in-the-hague-for-a-relaxation-moment
The Hague Bookstore, the place during your citytrip in The Hague for a relaxation moment

Lola

A bike and coffee shop in one, love the concept! It’s a heaven on earth for cycling enthusiasts, no doubt about that. Expect an easy-going atmosphere – even in the weekend -, superb coffee and cakes ánd friendly staff who like to make a chitchat. lolabikesandcoffee.nl

LISTed

You definitely will fall in love with this fashion meets coffee concept store. They have in my opinion the coolest Scandinavian clothing brands, original accessories and…coffee! Girls, take your time, the boyfriend will enjoy their coffee with a book in the chill chesterfield. Win – win! Facebook

Where To Stay

The best way to explore The Hague is to stay a night in one of the mostly classical designed hotels or Airbnb’s. I tried the budget proof The Student Hotel, located nearby the train station The Hague HS. It’s a place where students can live for a couple of months and design-savvy travelers can stay for a few nights. My opinion? It’s a modern, simple and very clean hotel (room) with all the facilities you need. No foolishness, only functional design. I really loved the helpfulness of the receptionists, credits for them. Besides I prefer the smaller boutique hotels instead of the – with all the respect – more ‘room factories’ like The Student Hotel, I absolutely recommend The Student Hotel when your budget isn’t sky high. You can book your room here. Book your stay here.

the-student-hotel-my-stay-during-my-citytrip-in-the-hague-3
The Student Hotel, my stay during my citytrip to The Hague

Oh and by the way: In 10-15 minutes you’re in Scheveningen by tram, the place to be when it’s a blue sky, sunny day. There are a lot of beach resto’s where you can have a pit stop for nibbles, drinks and more. Locals told me the less touristic spots are located around the ‘Zwarte Pad’ (Black Path).

Keep the above tips in mind and go for your The Hague citytrip as soon as possible. The welcoming inhabitants are waiting for you!

Love,

Sharmaine

Check Sharmaine’s midweek citytrip to Maastricht and get all the tips! Follow Sharmaine on Instagram.

The Shoreditch Guide | London

Quite possibly home to one of the coolest streets in London, Shoreditch is that rare gem of a neighbourhood that fuses ye-old London Town with a ‘right here, right now’ sensibility. Shoreditch High Street is where the main hustle and bustle is taking place. Spending a day here guarantees top quality breakfast, lunch, dinner and cocktail options. The adjoining side streets will delight and distract you with temptations coming from an eclectic range of boutique shops, hotels and other look-in spots.

Shoreditch Guide

If you’re an early riser then look no further than Albion – a trendy all-day British cafe, bar and grocery shop which sits as part of the Boundary Project Hotel. Famed for its simple yet delicious food the menu delivers seasonal produce and artisan ingredients. The grilled sweet potato plate with English feta, avocado and spinach will keep you well stocked for the day ahead and is quite the pairing with a Mimosa. Take a seat outside and watch the world go by – the locals here have a distinctive dress sense which will surely inspire.

Shoreditch London

Shopping

Looking to lighten your wallet and hit the shops? You have plenty to choose from here. Firstly, the quirky interiors emporium House of Hackney hits the spot for anyone looking for bold prints and exotic patterns. Secondly, Pam Pam is a womenswear clothing and lifestyle store and is a must visit for any millennial looking for a new sneaker. Finally, A.P.C. and Aesop also have outposts here that invite you in to wish up your Christmas list.

Shop Shoreditch, London

For something a bit different Barber & Parlour is a space to shop and relax in while also specialising in grooming for men and women. Owned by the famed Soho House Group (Shoreditch House occupies the building opposite). This casual-cool establishment offers everything from hairdressing to beard grooming, massages and mani/pedis all available on a walk-in basis. Their onsite cafe serves up an all-day breakfast and brunch menu and stellar cocktails. While the Electric Cinema in the basement gives audiences a unique cinema-going experience. Mainstream, independent and world cinema, you can find it here.

Street Art

Shoreditch also delights visitors and locals alike with its vibrant graffiti and street art scene. If you’re looking to discover more behind this once taboo art form, The Alternative Walking Tour of East London will help you discover the past and present of this cultural and creative hub through an illustrated and fascinating adventure.

Shoreditch, London

Kick start your night at Pizza East with rustic hand-made pizzas served in an atmospheric hall-like environment. This popular joint is situated in a former tea warehouse. With daily-changing specials and wood-wood-oven pizzas, this is a must visit. The veal meetball pizza on their a la carte menu ticks many a box.

Pizza East, Shoreditch
Pizza East

Other recommendations

To cram into a day out in Shoreditch include: Box Park – a pop-up mall for independent and global lifestyle store and street-food options with a difference. Each vendor is housed in a shipping container. Dishoom – is always worth a visit – is a beautifully decorated Indian brasserie with a bohemian feel and incredible menu. If you’re there for breakfast try the Bacon Naan Roll, you won’t be disappointed. The Ace Hotel has an outpost further up on Shoreditch High Street and delivers a premier hipster hotspot with working spaces, stylish rooms and the ever-popular Hot Polloi restaurant. East London also offers some very nice rooftops, so when the weather is nice, go up!

cafe in Shoreditch

In conclusion, Shoreditch embraces an ever-changing culture. Step in and experience life as if there wasn’t a care in the world. If you’ve got anywhere from an hour to a full day to spare in this city, head along as soon as possible.

Love from London,

Stephanie

*Stephanie is our guest editor from London. She works for a large fashion brand and loves to explore new eateries and pretty corners whenever she has the chance. Follow her on Instagram

The 3-day London Guide is here!

3 days London City Guide

The Marrakech Guide 2019

Stunning gardens, rooftop bars, cozy riads, narrow streets, famous souks and the rich smells of the Moroccan kitchen. Today, Marrakech is one of the most popular city destinations for travellers and we totally understand why.

We fell in love immediately. Where do you need to go to and which rumours are true? Here is an up to date Marrakech Guide for 2019!

Good to know:

Is it safe to walk around in Marrakech?
Yes it is! People in Marrakech are super friendly. Usually, google maps is your best friend, but not everywhere in Marrakech unfortunately. So try to remember how to walk back to your riad. Tip: Drop a pin in google maps.

Is Marrakech full of tourist traps?
Unfortunately, scams in the city do happen. Kids offer to help you to find the way for free. Once you have arrived you need to pay. They try to mislead you into the wrong direction too. This can be super annoying at first, but after one day you know what to do. Just say no, merci. Make sure you keep your personal belongings close to you, but this applies to all cities in the world.

Walking around in Marrakech

Houses and buildings are made out of red sandstone, therefore Marrakech is known as ‘The Red City’

Tip! Taxis are not always able to drop you at the doorstep of your riad, you always need to walk the last part.

What should you wear?
There’s no dresscode, but I would stick with long skirts and dresses to avoid stares from locals. Remember that you are in a different country with another culture which we should respect. Bring something that will cover the shoulders.

Marrakech guide 2019

Sarah in Marrakech 2019

Is Marrakech expensive? 
Marrakech is not cheap compared to Greece for example, especially when you visit pools in Hotels and eat in famous hotspots like El Fenn, Nomads etc. However, if you visit the more local restaurants and markets, prices drop. A taxi from the airport will cost you around 15 euro and from Medina to the new city around 10 euro. Always negotiate a price upfront!

The streets of Marrakech 2019

Where to stay?

Don’t waste your money on the bigger hotels in Marrakech but stay at a traditional riad! Most of them are in the Medina, so you’re nearly always walking distance from the main square.

We stayed in Riad Dar Vima for only 40 euro per night! A beautiful and serene riad, run by couple Leonie (Dutch) and Soufian (Moroccan). This is the place where you should stay. You will stay in comfy beds, surrounded by beautiful furniture, a great rooftop with nice sunbeds and local Moroccan breakfast, which is prepared by the mother of the riad Aziza which is included. They helped us with everything! From Riad Dar Vima you walk to the souks in about 7 minutes. A big plus: you are not woken up by early prayers, it’s quiet and peaceful!

Riad Marrakech guide 2019

Riad
Riad Da Vima


Where to Eat

Nomad is a popular modern Moroccan eatery with an amazing view. Also, vegetarians and pescatarians will be happy to eat here because the restaurant serves simple and delicious “Modern Moroccan” dishes. From chickpea salads with tzatziki, avocado and barley with celery and sesame seeds to roasted cauliflower in ras-el-hanout, harissa and turmeric butter, served over a bed of herb infused couscous, for 9 euro. They open every day from noon till 23h.

Naraj restaurant is the place for you if you love Lebanese food. The restaurant is located in the middle of the Medina. A great restaurant with a beautiful rooftop, friendly service and delicious food!! Unfortunately, the menu is not large, but everything on there is worth trying!


Naraj restaurant

Le jardin Tucked away in a small street in the medina you’ll find this green oasis in a beautifully renovated 16th Century building. When entering it looks small, but eventually you will walk into a lush garden dotted with tables and lights surrounded by the majestic building and the terraces! We passed it so many times and on our last day we decided to have lunch here. Glad we did! Our fave dish, the Kofta tagine with egg and tomato sauce is only 10 euro.

Le jardin Marrakech
Le Jardin

Le jardin food

Café Arabe has a lounge-bar-restaurant on the terrace with a great view. Good to know: They sell alcohol during Ramadan if you really want it.

El Fenn is a lovely setting for lunch. Here they serve traditional Moroccan dishes but also offer a European menu. Try the fresh mint juice, divine! You can also book a hotel room here, but it will come at a price.

El Fenn
El Fenn

Limoni restaurant with Moroccan and Italian cuisine is a hidden gem close to our Riad. With a shaded patio and terrace.

+61 This is a super modern restaurant in ‘new town’, owned and run by Australian Cassandra Karinsky. Marrakech is home to some top-notch eateries and this place is definitely one you should check out. I took the homemade ricotta red peppers capers piadina for 6.40 euro and salmon with pickles and bread for 11 euro.

+61 Marrakech

61+ Marrakech
Stylish +61

Comptoir Darna Someone tipped this legendary and traditional restaurant, located in the Rue Ahmed Chaqui in the heart of the buzzing Hivernage district. With dinner and a belly dancing show at the same time. An experience you won’t forget that easy. It’s a popular destination where people start with a drink on their terrace, have dinner during the event and end the night dancing with a tasteful cocktail.

Le foundouk Eat on the stunning rooftop terrace by candle light for a very romantic setting. I chose the Gyozas with chicken (Japanese ravioli) – ginger and coriander for 10 euro, the Moroccan pastilla with chicken and almonds (sweet and salty) and the Chicken tagine with preserved lemons.

Rooftop bar Marrakech
Rooftops with stunning views! (we forgot the name of this place unfortunately)

Where to Shop

Loose yourself in the souks! It’s a must see and a wonderful experience. You can get lost for hours. Warning, you immediately want to buy everything you see, but wait for your last day! Prices usually start quite high, so be prepared to negotiate. Tip! Try to buy carpet, lamps etc. just outside the souks. 

Shopping in Medina, Marrakech

Djemaa el Fna is the biggest Souk but also the most touristic one. For a more traditional experience we would recommend Marché el Mellah. But be warned if you’re an animal lover, you’re going to see a lot of animals (especially chickens)., and unfortunately, they’re not there for the cosiness.

Mirrors in Marrakech

Most people buy their treasures inside the souks, but we bought most items next to our Riad Dar Vima. You will find many small local shops here. Are looking for a handmade carpet or rug? Buy it with Mohamed, he has the best there is! He sells carpets with beautiful patterns, shapes and colours and pretty blankets. Each one has a unique style and every rug is handmade on a loom, which you can see with your own eyes. Next door there is also a shop that sells traditional Moroccan lamps.

Carpets in Marrakech
Beautiful carpets. Prices vary per size

Spices

Souk Marrakech
Visit the local markets

Where to Relax

Temperatures can rise up to 40 degrees in Marrakech so you need some options to cool off. Besides that, all that shopping and eating can make you tired so if you want to put your feet up, you have some wonderful options.

Selman. If you would like to escape the city for a moment then you should definitely check out Selman! It will blow your mind the minute you enter. It’s not very cheap though. A full day at the pool including a massage, hammam and lunch will cost you 1500 dirham (140 euro). However, the pool boys serve free water and juice throughout the day! 

Swimming pool Marrakech guide
The stunning pool at Selman

Spa Marrakech

The Beldi Country Club
Like many people I choose to go to the Beldi Country Club, where you can spend some time by the pool with a beautiful garden. You can book a package deal of 36 euro where lunch (2 course meal) and pool access are included. If you go for the pool only, it will cost you 19 euro. On top we booked the hammam and spa treatment of 73 euro. Unfortunately, the steam didn’t really work and the body scrub- and wash was not what we expected. Nevertheless, it was still enjoyable and relaxing! Your skin will feel like a newborn!

Beldin Country Club Marrakech
At the Beldi Country Club

There is more

Jumping back in history at the ruins of El Badi Palace
There is not much left of El Badi Palace but the peace and space it gives you is unique in the centre of Marrakech. The palace took twenty-five year to build and was an excessive display of the best craftsmanship of the Saadian period. You can still see some of the expensive materials they used. Next to the beauty of the ruins, it’s a good place to catch your breath in the middle of the overly crowded city.

Feeling like a princess at the Bahia Palace
Looking for that perfect Instagram spot? Think of mosaic floors, enchanting lighting and fairy-tale gardens. Bahia Palace is probably one of the most charming places in Marrakech. You’ll have to get up early if you don’t want hundred of tourists taking photos of your own selfie.

Tip » Don’t have enough time to travel to the Sahara? Dry your tears because I got a solution. Within a 20-minute car ride and with a spark of imagination it will feel like you’re in the Sahara while being just outside the city centre of Marrakech. Oke, you’re going to need a lot of imagination and a camel as well. But, when it’s all there you will feel like a true nomad. Note: a camel ride is a lot of fun and great holiday activity but please be aware that you book your trip at certified tour operations. We don’t want the camels to suffer for someone else’s enjoyment.

Fresh air in Essaouira
If you’re looking for some fresh (sea) air, Essaouira is one of the nearby beaches. It only takes 3 hours by bus, which will cost you about 8 euros. Don’t expect a luxurious, seaside resort. They call it the hippy city of Morocco and that reflects in the low-key way of living in this city. Surfing all day and listening to live reggae music all night is the normal routine.

Marrakech streets

Tip » You can make some great horse riding trips in Essaouria if you rather wouldn’t jump in the sea. Enjoy the sea, dunes and weather while getting your adrenaline pumped up by the speed of the horse.  Book your trip at Equi Evasion, they treat the horses very well. Howdy ho, cowboy!

Le Jardin Majorelle
Don’t think you will escape the chaos of the medina when you visit le Jardin Majorelle. Come in as early as possible to avoid the crowds. If you are a botanical lover you must visit this colourful and beautiful garden with plants from all over the world, like cactus, jasmines, bougainvillea, palm trees, coconut trees, banana trees, bamboo and more. The creator of the garden was Jacques Majorelle, a French painter, that opened the garden to the public in 1947 to help offset their costly maintenance. Entrance is just 6,5 euro.

Le Jardin Majorelle
Le Jardin Majorelle

Le jardin Marrakech

We heard many mix opinions about Marrakech but we would go back in a heartbeat! In conclusion, it was as stunning as you see on the photo’s and the people were very friendly. Just remember that you are stepping into a different culture and as a woman you may need to adjust a little. Nevertheless, we tip Marrakech as a must visit!

Love,

Sarah

Artist Residence | The perfect getaway in Brighton

Brighton is somewhere you can plan an idyllic weekend escape, especially during the warmer summer months. This coastal city is only 30 minutes on the train from London Gatwick Airport, or 1 hour from London city itself. Known for its pier, thriving creative industries and nightlife, it’s little wonder that stylish boutique hotel Artist Residence is seen as such a destination and as a celebration of this quaint and quirky city.

Artist Residence

Located on a quiet street at the top of historic Regency Square and spanning two 19th-century townhouses, this quintessentially English set up is within a 10-minute walk from all the buzz of the city. But with everything you’d need on site, due to its well-rounded atmosphere you may not want to venture far at all. Upon arrival, it’s quite clear that almost every guest has made the happy decision to tuck themselves away in this hotel and not move far. In essence, this is an ideal place for couples looking for a weekend getaway to switch off and unwind.

Brighton
Brighton beach

Interiors

Artist Residence was so named due to its characterful interiors. When the founder Justin Sailsbury inherited the hotel from his parents in his early twenties, he enlisted local artists to decorate each room in return for boarding at the hotel. Brighton’s art scene draws in the crowds, so this perfect plan resulted in sophisticatedly playful rooms which feel individual yet part of a collective red thread.

Pop-art and posters and retro furniture makes for an eclectic vibe in each room, this is comfortable luxury at its finest.

Artist Residence Brighton

Artist Residence Brighton lamp

Bedrooms

With 25 bedrooms to cater for, staff are attentive, friendly and effortlessly helpful. When you walk into each room, Jazz FM oozes an invitation to simply chill out and relax. For where else would you rather be but sinking into their divinely comfortable beds or lounging back in an armchair overlooking Brighton’s coast? (And thinking how to incorporate similar design elements into your own home!) Soft furnishings – from the pristine white bedding to the textured cushions – perfectly compliment the neutrally painted walls and bedside angle-poise lamps bring a retro-filled nostalgia to each room. Finishing touches are mirrors and the rather fabulous artwork. If you’re lucky enough to bag the grandest suite in the hotel, you’ll find it hard to check out: a four-poster bed competes with a copper slip bath as the focal point for the room.

bathtub at Artist Residence Brighton
Bathtub goals!

Facilities

Should you decide to leave your elegant bohemia bedroom, you can head to cocktail bar The Set for a pre-dinner toast, and then sit down in their cosy, quirky restaurant The Fix. Here you’ll find hotel residents and locals alike sampling a delightful menu featuring creative yet tasty ingredients. After your meal, guests can play ping-pong in the basement before enjoying a nightcap. Each room comes with an inviting wall-mounted bar with red wine, miniature local spirits and nibbles to make your stay even more pleasing. Three course tasting menus start at £31 per person.

In short, this stylish boutique hotel is one of five (the other locations include London, Oxford, Cornwall and Bristol) and quite the unique, on-trend, fun and friendly place to eat, drink and sleep. Small rooms are available from £95 per night. Book now.

Love,

Stephanie