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Archive for the Category "Travel"

Fleischer’s hotel Vossevangen–overpriced and basic! Aug 05

My wife and I stayed at Fleischer’s hotel in Vossevangen in August 2013. We were on a short weekend trip and decided to stay in Voss as we were covering parts of Hardanger and parts of Sognefjord. I booked the hotel online on the hotel homepage and I guess I booked it quite late as I was only able to get it for the rate of 2090 Norwegian Kroner (about 350 USD).

P1040335Finding the hotel was not that difficult as Voss is not such a large place and the hotel stands out as it is built in Swiss style. The entrance to the hotel is a bit weird as you enter the reception from the back (towards the railway). We got room number 36 located on the same floor as the reception. The room was not very impressive upon entry – I was assuming that as I booked late and ended up paying quite a lot for the room, we would get a better room but I guess that was not the case. The room had light walls with a few pieces of rather boring art work and it had a wooden floor. P1040325The bed was two single beds pushed together which is not great when traveling as a couple and the bed was not very comfortable. There was a two seat sofa by the window and a table and the view was not bad at all – we looked at Voss Kulturhus and the lake. There was also a small desk and a chair – and the desk included and old school and small TV. There was a wardrobe as well but no safe and no iron/ironing board. The small fridge has a few cold drinks and there were a couple of wine glasses. The lighting of the room was really bad and it a good thing that Norwegian summers are light so that you can get natural light into the room.

P1040330The bathroom was small and tiled in white tiles and included a bathtub with a shower option, a toilet and a sink. There were no amenities apart from a shower cap! There was a soap dispenser for washing the hands and it seems like there was a similar one in the shower – so no shampoo, no conditioner etc. The shower head did not seem to work properly and it would spray water in various directions. There was also a wall mounted hair dryer. We were not that impressed by the bathroom standard as there seemed to be hair left from the previous guest and the floor appeared dirty when we started to shower and water was splashing everywhere. P1040327There was not that much ventilation so it got pretty damp in the little bathroom. I don’t think there is much focus on details at this hotel – even the trash can in the corner of the hotel room was not working. The towels were thin and worn out. It did not seem like there was any ventilation in the room so we had to keep the window open at night to get some fresh air – this means that you also hear the traffic better on the road outside.
Breakfast at the hotel was not bad – they could offer some eggs, bacon, cereal, fruit, bread etc. At first it seemed like they only had standard jam etc but when looking closer it seemed like they had more local stuff as well (e.g. strawberry jam, brunost (the Norwegian brown goat cheese) and apple juice). When we came to the breakfast restaurant there was a sign saying that we had to wait to be seated (well, it was not spelled correctly) – but as we were standing there waiting a waitress told us that we could sit anywhere.

Location of the hotel is not bad – but then again Voss is a small place and you can basically walk anywhere from any location in town. I was afraid that we would hear the trains as the railway is right next door but that was not a problem.

P1040331I travel a bit for pleasure and business so I think I know a bit about hotel standards and qualities. I don’t mind paying a lot for a hotel room as long as I feel that I get something back for the money. In that respect I have to say that I’m shocked by the value for money at Fleischer’s hotel. I paid 2090 Norwegian kroner (about 350 USD) for the room and the room was one of the most basic rooms I have stayed at in a long time. Not only was it basic but it also seems to be neglected in terms of cleaning and maintenance. The bed was uncomfortable, towels thin and worn out, basically no amenities in the bathroom etc. Fleischer’s hotel is a part of De Historiske – an organization that promotes charming and historic hotels. Fleischer’s hotel might be a historic hotel with many famous guests in the past but today it is a worn down hotel that is absolutely not worth the room rate.

Gard – trip reports and photos



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Hotel Ombak Sunset–Gili Trwangan, Indonesia Jul 28

P1030970We stayed at Hotel Ombak Sunset on Gili Trawangan in juli 2013. We stayed on the island for 4 days and it was tricky choosing a hotel. We were not sure if we should stay in the center where most of the activities happens, if we wanted a villa or not etc. In the end we decided on Ombak Sunset as the reviews were good, the price was good and the rooms seemed to be nice – and there was a big pool. I booked the hotel online before the trip on as that gave a better deal than booking on the hotel itself and I booked a regular room.

We came to Gili by boat from Bali and took a horse and carriage to the hotel. The driver wanted 190.000 Rupiah and my wife bargained it to 150.000 Rupiah. Later on it turned out that the fixed price for this distance is 75.000 Rupiah (about 7.5 USD).

P1030956Hotel Ombak Sunset is located on the west side of the island but it seems like some maps indicates that it is on the east side (like the one on TripAdvisor) – Hotel Ombak Sunset should not be confused with Hotel Villa Ombak that is located on the south east side of the island. Check in at the hotel was done in the enormous lobby (which was totally empty by the way) and we got a welcome drink while they did the paperwork. We got an upgrade to a villa (or island bungalow as it is called) instead of a room and it seems like this happens quite often and I assume that it has something to do with the fact that all the rooms are not completed yet. We got villa 2025 if I’m not mistaken and the guy that checked us in walked us over to the villa.

P1030965The bungalow had a small terrace in front with a sofa and table. The room was a bit dim when entering the room but the standard seemed good. The floor was in creamy colored marble tiles, the walls were light and there were dark wooden furniture in the room. In addition to the king size bed (that really was BIG) there were two chairs with a small table, a 32 inch flat screen TV on top of a wooden cabinet (it was a bit too far from the bed), a small fridge, a water boiler and there was also a wardrobe with robes. The wardrobe also contained a small safe but it was locked in an open position and after reporting this a few times, it finally got fixed. The bed was comfortable but the pillows were a bit on the firm side. The aircon was controlled by a remote and worked just fine – the wifi was free but it was a bit of a hassle as we got a username and password and I had to type it in basically every time I wanted to go online. We got several bottles of water each day and it was not a problem to get more if we ran out.

P1030955The bathroom was partially outdoors and included a toilet, sink and a shower corner and a small garden. The shower had decent pressure and hot water and there were amenities as shampoo, bath gel and conditioner in small containers. Being open and with a small garden means that you also have to deal with the wildlife. There were a number of centipedes that were on a constant march and a couple of fairly big spiders crawled around. The turn down service was also quite good with decorations on the bed, curtains closed and also an electric bug repellent turned on.

P1030969The pool was enormous – I think it must be the biggest pool on the tiny island. The pool was about 140 cm deep and on the one end there was a pool bar where you could get drinks all day long and they had happy hour with 2 drinks for the price of one in the afternoon. There is also a smaller pool for children next to the main pool and a couple of small plunge pools. Across the small road was the beach that was beautiful but this place is not ideal for swimming as it is quite shallow and there are lots and lots of dead, sharp corals. The hotel has a restaurant on the beach itself where you can have drinks while watching the sun set – and it was spectacular to see the sun go down in the ocean. You also get a good view to the mountains on Bali. The restaurant served some excellent seafood – we were a bit skeptical when eating there as we were basically the only guests but the seafood was probably the best we had on Gili.

Breakfast in the morning was served a la carte and included fruit, some bread, eggs, cereal etc. The service was kind and the food was served pretty fast. I’m not sure what the deal is with all the cats by the way but there were cats in the lobby, in the restaurants and on the beach itself. There were afternoon tea by the pool and we could get tea or coffee together with some Indonesian style sweet cakes. We were not that impressed by the small cakes or the coffee.

P1040020Location of the hotel is both good and bad I guess. The great part is that the hotel is located a bit away from the main strip and you avoid a lot of “noise”. You also get a view to the spectacular sunset in the ocean. It is only 2.3 km (or about 1.4 miles) to e.g. Ko Ko Mo where the strip starts and you can rent bikes at the hotel to get around. Just note that it is pitch black dark in between the places so I was very happy that my wife had brought along a head torch. Also note that in some places the sand has blown onto the road and it made it tricky to bike there. The bikes at the hotel could be rented for a day or half a day and I think it was like 50.000 for a day. The bikes were not in great conditions but at least the breaks worked.

Right next to the bike rental store there were a couple of other stores: a small convenience store, a place to book diving trips and the spa. The store was closed one evening but they opened it up for me when I asked in the lobby – great service.

P1030979We had a great stay at Hotel Ombak sunset. The hotel is located a bit away from the main strip but it was not much of a problem for us as we biked there in about 15 minutes – just bring a good head torch. The pool was also great and we enjoyed some amazing sunsets on the beach. The room was pretty decent and the outdoor bathroom provided some excitement in the form of huge spiders. The staff was polite and friendly. If we go back to Gili Trawangan I would not mind staying at this hotel again.


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Room at Royal Kamuela in Ubud, Bali Jul 22

We stayed at a place called Royal Kamuela in Ubud in Bali in Indonesia in July 2013. Here is a short video that shows the villa.

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Great hotel for exploring George Town on Penang Jun 25

Traders hotel Penang, Malaysia

P1020790My wife and I stayed at Traders Penang in May 2013 for 3 days in May 2013. We chose this hotel as it seemed to be a decent hotel in the George Town area and we wanted to explore the historic city center for a few days. I also chose it as I’m a Jade member in the Shangri-La Golden Circle program. We took a taxi from the airport in the south of the island to the hotel and it was a fixed price of 44 Ringgit (14 USD) and it took about 30 minutes. The lobby was open with large chandeliers and marble floors. Check in was fast and we got 1419.

P1020792When we took the elevator to our room we were a bit annoyed to see that we had gotten a room right across the corridor from the lifts but this was not a problem at all. The room did seem a bit outdated upon entry to the room but I had read the reviews in advance so I was prepared for this. The walls were a combination of light wall paper and dark brown wood and the floor was wall to wall carpet. The center in the room contained a HUGE bed and the sleep quality was excellent. As a Jade member I had gotten some welcome gifts and it is always great to get some sparking water. There was also a mini bar with various items and the Coke was 8 Ringgit ( 2 ½ USD). Free Traders water in bottles was also provided.

P1020797As usual there was a desk, an old style TV and a water boiler with coffee and tea. The wardrobe also contained a safe, robes and iron/ironing board.The tiled bathroom was OK with a shower option in the bathtub but I’m not a fan of the shower curtain option. But the bathroom did contain the usual amenities that I’m used to from Traders in KL (shampoo, body gel, conditioner, lotion etc). The view from the room was not that great as we look right across to a construction site but again we were not bothered by the noise from this place.

After we checked in we took some time to try out the gym at the hotel – it contained rowing machines, thread mills, stationary bikes and weights and the pool was right outside.

P1020925Breakfast at the hotel was according what I would expect from a good 4 star hotel in Asia. A selection of bread, cereal, juices, eggs etc. But what impressed me the most was the service – when I had breakfast the first morning I went alone as my wife Nikki was not feel great due to a cold. So I tried to balance a tea and a croissant out of the restaurant and a manager stopped me and I explained the situation. He told me to put it down as he would send someone to my room and soon my wife got a croissants and tea served in bed in the room. The same guy also told us that we had to try some local stuff (like roti chanai) so I got the impression that he enjoyed his work with helping and communicating with people.

P1020912The location of the hotel is quite good as it is just in the outskirt of the historic city center. We walked all over the place but if you want to take a short cut remember that there is a free bus service from the Komter area (where the hotel is) to the jetty and most taxis seems to have a fixed price of 10 ringgit within the city center.
Conclusion: The room was a bit outdated but we enjoyed the stay at Traders in Penang as the location is pretty good, breakfast is good and the service was very good. If you are going to check out George Town for a few days this hotel is a good option.

Gard – trip reports and pictures

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Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur–close to perfect! Jun 11

We stayed at Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur in May 2013 in connection with a vacation to Malaysia. I chose this hotel as I think the location is quite good and the hotel is very new.

P1020776We arrived in the evening and our suitcases were taken care of by the hotel personnel as we got out of the taxi. In this hotel you first get into an impressive foyer with a grand staircase and this area also had a grand ballroom. But to get to the lobby you actually have to take the express elevator up to the top floor located on level 40 to check in. I see that some reviews comment on this as they find it annoying that you have to take another elevator to get down to your room but I will get back to that. P1020777When you get to level 40 and the elevator doors open you get a spectacular view to the Petronas Twin towers both day and night – once the tallest skyscrapers in the world but still one of the most beautiful buildings in the world. Our check in took a bit longer than expected as the woman behind the counter could not find our papers – but when we got to the room it looked like all the paper work and keys had been prepared and had been placed in the room so I think the receptionist did a mistake in the check in process but it was not a problem.

IMG_4171When we got to our room on 28th floor we had gotten a room with a great view of the Petronas twin towers and with windows from floor to ceiling you get an amazing view. Before we traveled you Malaysia I asked the hotel if it was possible to get a vase from room service as I want to buy some flowers for my wife’s birthday – when we got to the room there was a trolley there with a plate with a large domed lid on top. When I opened it was a cheese cake with a sign saying “Happy birthday” – how great is that!

P1020677The hotel opened in the fall of 2012 so it is still a new hotel. The room that we got was great and it was larger than most hotel rooms that I have stayed at. The room has tiles on the floor in the entrance and bathroom part and wooden floor in the bedroom part of the room. They layout of the room was also a bit different than your average hotel room. The huge bed is the center piece in the room as you can actually walk around it. The bed was comfortable and came with several huge pillows. On one side there was an alarm clock with a built in docking station for an iPhone which was handy for us as we both have iPhones. When we were lying in bed we had a direct view to the Petronas twin towers. On the left hand side there was a glass desk and TV. The big flat screen TV was on contraption in order to fold it into the wall or bring it out in order to watch in when in bed – a very good setup in my opinion. On the right hand side there was a sort of sofa with table next to it – and we got some chocolate candy as a welcome gift. There were lots of bottles of complimentary water.

IMG_4166Directly behind the bed there was a bathroom – the bathroom is separated from the bedroom with a window which I thought was quite cool as you with a touch of a button could make it frosty if you want some privacy. The bathroom only contains a shower (with a big rain forest shower head) and a bathtub (toilet and sink is in separate rooms). As you would expect from a 5 star hotel there were lots of amenities: shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, lotion, shower cap, loofah etc. There was a separate room for the toilet and a small walk in wardrobe with a safe, iron and ironing board. Between the room and the shower there was a sink and under the sink there were more amenities such as emery board, hair band etc. On the opposite side there was a bench with cupboards that included glasses, a water boiler with coffee and tea and a pull out drawer fridge.

IMG_4167The breakfast is served on level 38 in the restaurant that is called Thirty8. The breakfast is over the top with a great selection of egg, cereal, bread, Asian style breakfast, good juice, fresh fruit etc. The only thing missing was of course real bacon – as Malaysia is a Muslim country a lot of the restaurants is halal. It is not the most extravagant breakfast that I have come across but I can’t think of much that I was missing in the selection. Thirty8 is also a good restaurant at night and they also serve and impressive champagne lunch on Sundays! (with a free flow of Bollinger).

P1020778The hotel also has a good workout room but if you want to go jogging and can stand the heat, it is easy to walk through the convention center to get to the KLCC park which is ideal for jogging. Right next to the gym there is also a big pool with a number of sun beds. I guess this is a typical business hotel as the pool was never crowded when we were there and it was not a problem finding a sun bed. There is also a bar in connection with the pool where you can buy drinks and food.The location of the hotel is good – located in the KLCC area it only takes a few minutes to walk to the shopping mall KLCC Suria and Petronas Twin towers. You can also walk on an elevated walkway (with aircon) to the shopping mall Pavilion where you get into the Bukit Bintang area.

When I checked out of the hotel I noticed that I had been charged for breakfast. I told them that on the first morning I had to sign a bill and I asked the staff if breakfast was not included. I got the answer that this was only for reference. When I told this to the person checking me out of the hotel, he immediately removed in from the bill. What a great service!


P1020703I have to say that this is one of the best hotels that I have stayed at. The rooms are big and have a good setup. The quality of the room and furniture is top notch; the aircon was quiet and easy to control. The service at the hotel was great – they brought a vase for the flowers that I bought for my wife, they brought champagne glasses when I needed that and there was constant refilling of water in the room and turn down service. I see that some people complain that you have to take the lift up to the lobby and then down to your room in a “local” elevator. I did not think this was much of a problem and you can get around if by taking the lift to the gym and taking a lift to the lobby from there.

All in all an amazing hotel in my opinion and I have stayed at some nice hotels around the world. I would not hesitate to recommend this to anyone. Take a look at the photos and I’m sure you will understand what I mean.

Gard – trip reports and pictures

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The best rooftop bars in Bangkok Apr 18

I enjoy having a drink with a view and in some cities there are many bars to choose from. I have been to Bangkok a few times and I was blown away by the view from Vertigo on the Banyan tree building (you can read one of my Bangkok trip reports on my homepage). The local paper here in Stavanger had an article the other day about new places in Bangkok that might be worth checking out. Here is the list:

 Up & above: Seems to be both a bar and restaurant and it is located at hotel Okura near Ploen Chit skytrain station. Located on the 24th floor.

L’Appart: French restaurant located in Sofitel hotel near Nana. The restaurant is located on 32nd floor and according to the article it is decorated as a French apartment and there is also a balcony where you can enjoy food and drinks.

Park Society & Hi So: another new place located at a Sofitel hotel. This time it is the hotel located near the Lumpini stop on the subway. Park Society is the restaurant part of this concept and it is located on 29th floor. Hi So is the bar and it is located on the roof.

Zense: this place is located on top of the CentralWorld chopping complex in the middle of Bangkok. It is “only” on the 17th floor but it can offer restaurants, bars, indoor and outdoor seat etc.

Speakeasy: this bar is located on top of the trendy hotel Muse. It seems to be located on level 24 and 25 and the hotel is on Langsuan Road. The bar also seems to have a cigar lounge called Blind pig.

Red Sky and Fifty five: Red sky is the bar part and Fifty five is the restaurant. It is located on top of Centara hotel at the Central World complex and the view is of course great from 55th floor.

Vertigo and Moon bar: I guess the original roof top bar in Bangkok. From 61st floor you get an amazing view of Bangkok. Located on the Banyan tree building on Sathorn Road.

Sirocco, Distil and Breeze: Sirocco sky bar is located on the top of Lebua hotel on Silom road. You get a very nice view of Bangkok from the bar on 63rd floor. Breeze is a restaurant on 52nd floor that offers great view of the river.

So if you are going to Bangkok – now you have a few places to check out if you want a drink with a view Smile

Gard – trip reports and pictures

New Scandinavian AIrlines app Apr 14

SasScandinavian Airlines (or SAS) has released a new app for iPhone (and Android if I’m not mistaken). The app allows you to see your upcoming trips, your Eurobonus points, boarding pass, buy tickets etc. I have downloaded it and I think it looks quite good. I was also impressed that all my upcoming flights were in the list – even the ones with Thai Airways and Singapore Airlines. You can read more about the application on this iTunes page. Which other airlines have a good app?

Gard – trip reports and pictures

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Charming and good location: Hotel Berthod in Courmayeur Apr 10

My wife, Nikki, and I stayed at Hotel Berthod in Courmayeur for 4 nights in March 2013. I made the reservation online on the hotel’s homepage and I chose the hotel as it had a central location with easy access to both restaurants, the gondola to the ski area of Plan Checrouit and it had rooms available ;-)

P1020110We arrived by bus to Courmayeur and the Savda bus stopped at Piazzale Monte Bianco which is only about 100-200 meters from the hotel. We rolled our suitcases to the hotel and luckily there was not much snow on the road as it was uphill. Check in was fast in the tiny lobby of this charming hotel and we got room 212 on the second floor. The lobby, bar and restaurant area are filled with knick knacks  from the region…old skiing equipment, cow bells, maps of the area, photos of Mont Blanc (or Monte Bianco as it is known as in Italy) etc.

P1020103The house and room was fairly similar to the hotel we had in Verbier in Switzerland a couple of years back – not that strange, as it is located in the same region. The room was quite small and most of it was occupied by the king size bed. The bed was pretty old school and when I moved the mattress seemed to bounce for a lot longer than expected. The sleeping quality was pretty good but the pillows were like bricks and were not comfortable at all. There was a wooden floor (or maybe just laminate), the walls were painted light and the furniture was in dark wood. The small flat screen TV was placed on top of the wardrobe and it was not the ideal position for TV watching but I guess you don’t come to Courmayeur to watch TV Winking smile Most of the channels were in Italian but it was possible to change some shows to the original broadcast language.

P1020104The wardrobe had a few hangers and there was a small fridge under the desk next to it. The small fridge only contained two bottles of water and I assumed that this was complimentary as there was nothing else in the fridge but I was charged for these bottles when checking out. I guess we should have read the info or noticed when we did not get water bottle refills every day. There was also a small safe in the room located over the heating radiator – I’m not sure it is the ideal position but things in the safe did not seem to get over heated. There was little space to hang used ski clothing but we did notice a drying room in the basement when we arrived.

P1020106The bathroom was tiled in light tiles on the walls and terracotta color on the floor. The amenities included soap, shampoo and even body scrub (the body scrub is recommended). The bathroom included toilet, bide, sink and a shower corner. The shower corner was small but the water pressure was good and the water temperature was stable when showering. The mechanical fan was started every time the light was turned on and was on the noisy side but I guess it helped a bit. The room got stuffy so it was great to be able to open the windows during the day.
When I tried to connect to the wifi the first time I was prompted for a username and password and I thought I had to pay for it. But it turned out that it was for free and you just have to ask for the login details in the reception. The net was pretty slow compared to what I’m used to but it did the job.

P1020162Breakfast was served in the “lounge” on the ground floor and had an amazing view to the skiing area at Plan Checrouit and the mountains around Courmayeur. I think the hotel was full when we were there but on most days we were alone at breakfast. The breakfast included some cereal, croissants, bread, boil your own egg, some fruit, excellent freshly squeezed orange juice, fresh coffee, yogurt, cakes etc. Remember to read the sign – don’t take too much and end up wasting food.

P1020158The location of the hotel was excellent for us. It only takes like 3 minutes to walk to the main street of Courmayeur – the pedestrian street Via Roma. There were many restaurants around the hotel and it only took a few minutes to walk to them. It was about 600 meters to walk to the main gondola that takes you from Courmayeur to Plan Checrouit. The service at the hotel was excellent. The young woman that was in the lobby most of the time spoke English, French and Italian (maybe more?) and made recommendations as to where to rent skiis, how to get to the thermal baths at Pre’-saint-didier etc. I guess it is a family run hotel and from time to time it felt like we were walking into a home as it seemed like they were waiting up for us to come back to the hotel.

The room was a bit outdated but did the job. The main thing for us was that the hotel had a good location for getting to the gondola and for eating out at night. In addition to that we got a good and friendly service.

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Gard – trip reports and pictures 

Lunch at “Dinner by Heston Blumenthal” in London Feb 11

Menu at the tableMy wife Nikki and I spent a long weekend in London in January 2013 and we decided to splurge on a dining experience. After seeing many TV shows with Heston Blumenthal we decided on lunch at “Dinner by Heston Blumental”. I made the reservation online and I also got a call from the restaurant a few days before to reconfirm. We took the tube to Knightsbridge station and about 5 min later we arrived at the Mandarin Hotel at noon. After a short wait at the bar, we were assigned a table close to the window, with an idyllic view of a snow covered Hyde Park. We can’t quite recall if our waiter introduced himself but we did get a menu at once and were offered an aperitif. The menu was quite extensive and we decided to throw caution to the wind and ordered “a la carte” and not the set lunch menu that seemed to be a bit on the boring side.

P1010864There was lots of good stuff to choose from on the menu but I ended up ordering one of the signature dishes “Meat fruit” as a starter and my wife, Nikki, decided to have Salamugundy. For the main dish I decided to have Battalia Pye and Nikki went for Roast Black Foot Collar of Pork. Although we hadn’t thought about dessert yet, we were informed that the signature dessert “tipsy cake” took a while to prepare so best to order in advance. Which we did. While we were waiting for the starter to arrive we got some fresh bread and butter which hit the mark as we were getting hungry.

Look at this piece of art!It didn’t take that long before the starter was served and the meat fruit was a little piece of food art. I have to admit that I knew what was coming – when I did a search online (and on Instagram) there were lots of photos out there. It was served on a wooden platter and it looked like a small tangerine with a slice of toast on the side. The tangerine was just an “illusion” – once I cut into it the core was revealed and I could go ahead and taste the chicken liver and foie gras parfait. I like my foie gras and chicken liver so I enjoyed the taste of this smooth paste combined with the large rustic piece of bread. The bread seemed to have been fried just on the pan and it was just right as it shouldn’t be too crispy.

P1010869Nikki’s Salamugundy looked like a bit of a mess on the plate but was prepared using chicken oysters, marrow bone and horseradish cream. I have to admit that I was not aware that chicken oysters could be the most tender part on the bird but apparently this is the case. Nikki especially enjoyed the horseradish cream vinaigrette. She commented that although first look may give the impression of a run of the mill green salad, the contents and combination stood out with every mouthful.  Crunchy fresh leaves and marrow that made you wish you were in the comfort of your own home to properly tackle it. 

P1010874Before the main dish we got the wine that we had ordered by the glass so it seemed like the waiters had full control even if there were several people involved. The wine was a Chianti Classico if I’m not mistaken and was well paired with both our meals – rounded and fullbodied but not too heavy. My Battalia pye was served as a sort of pie and it contained pigeon, devilled kidneys and lamb tongue. Once it was served the waiter poured a lovely rich lamb sauce on top of it and left the rest on the table. Once I tasted it I poured the rest over the pie as it tasted amazing! It must have been boiled for hours with a good stock. The pie was delicious and again it was a beautiful looking dish with the pie dough being wrapped around the contents in a perfect circle. The tiny bones of the pigeon were sticking up from the dish and were juicy and the other pieces of meat were also tasty. It might sound a bit weird but one of the best tastes was from the small caramelized onions.

P1010872Nikki had the Roast Black Foot Collar of Pork and she also found the portion to be a bit large. But she also enjoyed the layers of pork meat – which made it easy to differentiate and was almost like slicing through a layered cake. She also got the best ever caramelized onions and turnip.
The portions of main dish were a bit on the large side but even if we were full, there was still room for dessert. To round off the meal, we waited in anticipation for our tipsy cake – one of the signature desserts. P1010875We had to order it when we ordered the rest of the meal as it is made fresh and takes a while to prepare. The cake was served in a small pot with a slice of fried pineapple on the side. The tipsy cake was a pudding (a British staple) and served warm, sweet and oozing of a sort of custard. It almost resembled buns but once we sank our spoons into it, the texture and taste said otherwise. I was not crazy about the pineapple but the pudding was great. The tipsy cake is sharing size but I do believe Nikki would have gladly devoured the lot on her own if I had taken my eyes off it for too long. Although we were both stuffed already we managed to leave little trace of anything ever having occupied the desert pot. 

P1010876With our bellies near bursting and matching grins, we also got some sort of tea infused chocolate mousse and it was weird to taste the combination of dark chocolate with the hints of tea. And together with some strong espresso it was the perfect end to the meal. On the way out we got to look into the open kitchen were the large staff of chefs were preparing all sorts of delicious dishes. We stumbled out of the Mandarin hotel full, slightly tipsy (only from the the cake of course) and very content. This was a lovely dining experience and I hope to return one day to taste more of the great dishes that Heston has on the menu. Check out the restaurant homepage on and remember to book in advance if you want to check it out.

Gard – trip reports and pictures

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Larger room than expected and pretty good location Jan 23

We stayed at the Radisson Blu Edwardian Bloomsbury Street Hotel in January 2013. I booked the hotel as it seemed to be a good location, the reviews were quite good, the rooms seemed modern  and I was hoping to get some perks from being a Club Carlson gold member.

P1010907We got to the hotel at about noon and we were met by a giant red reindeer in the reception and there was also a strange smell in the lobby – a combination of a “hotel signature scent” and a moldy scent. As I checked in there was a bit of confusion regarding my name and the guy behind the counter asked me if I was at the correct hotel. It turned out that we were at the right hotel and we got room 2025. I asked if it was possible with a room upgrade due to the Club Carlson gold card but that didn’t seem to be an option. Our room was not ready either so we left the suitcases at the concierge and got a luggage tag and started the sightseeing in London.

P1010908When we got back to the hotel at night to pick up the suitcases later on I showed the concierge the luggage tags but they were not able to find anything so he asked me if I had gotten any other tag. After 5 minutes of lots of confusion between the 3 that was in the reception area, we were told that we should go to the room to check if the bags were there. When we got to the room the suitcases were there together with some parcels that I had gotten delivered to the hotel so that was excellent service of the hotel concierge earlier on – but there should have been a bit of communication between the staff to avoid all the confusion.

P1010848The room was actually quite nice on first glance – there was a maroon carpet on the floor and the walls had light wallpaper with a few pictures on the walls. The room was larger than expected – after staying at various hotels around London I’m used to the room being quite tiny in this city. The center piece in the room was the double bed with one large duvet to share. The bed was a bit on the firm side but still quite comfortable. Next to the bed there was a small desk and a chair – it also included an iPhone docking station for charging the phone and amplifying the sound. On the side wall there was a flat screen TV mounted and there was also a large chair and a small table. The placement of the TV was not ideal for viewing it from the bed. The room only has a tiny window and there was also a small window in the bathroom.

P1010850There was a wardrobe in front of the bed with a small safe, a small fridge (a Coke was £3 and a beer was £4.25) and there was also an ironing board/iron and hair dryer in addition to the kettle for boiling water and glasses and mugs. So the room actually had quite a lot of amenities. The wardrobe had about 12 hangers but the bar was hanging quite low in the wardrobe so not very practical for e.g. a coat. The bar was low due to a reason – when I came into the bathroom it was easy to see that the room was made to suite a person inP1010900 a wheel chair. The bathroom had dark tiles on the floor and creamy tiles on the walls. The shower was very modern with a glass door and a rain forest shower head from the ceiling and the toilet was wall mounted and the sink was very modern. The bathroom would have been perfect if there had been some sort of heating in the floor. When we went to London the city was getting a bit of snow and the temperatures was about -2 degrees Celsius. This made the tiled floor in the bathroom absolutely freezing. There was also a small sink next to the main sink and there was something wrong with the tap as it was running all the time. On the first morning I told the reception area this and asked them if they could fix it but when we checked out 2 days later on it was still not fixed.

P1010844The bathroom did not have that many amenities but there was an Essential Elements soap by the sink that had a lovely scent together with a moisturizing cream. There was also a shower cap and the towels were hanging on a heated rack which was a great treat as the bathroom was a bit on the cold side. The hotel also offers free internet which is appreciated of course. You do have to log in quite often by putting in your e-mail address but the internet connection was quite good.

Sleeping quality was not bad at all and the temperature was easily controlled with the air-con. There was a gap between the door and the floor and hence there was quite a bit of light streaming in at night.


P1010846The night before check out I called the reception and asked if we could get a late checkout.  We got 1 pm instead of 11 am which isn’t much but better than nothing. We did not have breakfast as the hotel breakfast was £21 which is a bit expensive when I only eat a bowl of muesli or oats. Our solution was to walk the few meters down the street where there was a Pret A Manger café.  The location of the hotel is quite good as it is located only a 5 minute walk from British Museum and it only takes a few minutes to walk to Tottenham court Rd underground station. It is also a short walk to the heart of Soho.

P1010849This hotel has a pretty good location and the room was larger than expected. There was a bit of communication issues between the staff members that led to a bit of waiting and confusion but all in all we got good service. From my experience you should not expect to get much recognition due to a Club Carlson gold card – it didn’t seem to help when it comes to room upgrading or late checkout. I still think it would have been great if they could offer e.g. free breakfast when you are a frequent guest. But all in all we had a comfortable stay at the hotel and I would not hesitate to recommend friends or family to stay at this hotel.

Gard – trip reports and pictures

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