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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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Sauna experience in the room at Park Plaza Sherlock Holmes London Apr 26

We stayed at Park Plaza Sherlock Holmes during Easter of 2011 (from April 19th to April 24th) and I booked it online. We were a bit in a hurry when checking out so I totally forgot to take photos of the room – what an amateur. Anyway, we found the hotel without any problems (after all we use Google StreetView for what it is worth) but entering the hotel is a bit weird – you enter right into a small desk and a bar and I was a bit confused at first. But then I looked further into the room and noticed the check in desk was further in. Check in was fast and we were assigned to room 310 – there is just one small lift that can be slow but at least you don’t have to carry the suitcase to the room. I normally just used the stairs when coming down as I didn’t want to wait around for the lift but note that the stairs are a bit steep and narrow.

The room we got was a pretty decent size compared to other London hotels we have stayed at. The walls were painted in light yellow and there were light wooden floors. All in all the room looked pretty new and fresh so first impression was very good. The king-size bed was not too bad but it was a bit “springy” but at least soft enough for me – it only had one duvet but that didn’t turn out to be a problem – I’ll get back to that later on.

In the room there was a flat screen TV, there was a minibar that we didn’t use, a desk and chair – the desk had lots of plugs for charging our phones and stuff and we actually didn’t need to use the converter as one of the sockets fit to our Norwegian plugs. We had a window to Baker street and there was a bit of noise from the street but it was not a huge problem. There was enough light in the room but it was a bit weird that the switch to turn on my reading light over the bed was located at the other side of the bed – and vice versa. I think they must have done a mistake with the wiring ;-)

The wardrobe contained a few hangers but it was a bit on the small side for the two of us as it also contained the ironing board/iron and a safe. But it was at least great that there was an iron in the first place. I like the fact that the floors are wooden compared to carpets but it also introduce a few other challenges – our floor seemed to make a bit of squeaking noises when we walked around in the room. There were also some squeaking noises from our desk when the people in the room next door were walking around.

The bathroom was quite stylish – a bit on the small side but with tiles on floor and walls and with a proper shower corner that avoided splashing and good towels. The shower pressure was very unpredictable – one second I was blasted with great water pressure and the next there were hardly any water – I guess that happens when many take a shower at the same time? The amenities was limited to shampoo, shower gel, lotion and shower cap but the shampoo and soap was not bad at all. One thing that was a bit unorthodox was the door between the room and the bathroom – it is a glass sliding door. It is more or less frosted but it doesn’t provide 100% privacy.

The hotel had a pretty good internet policy – you could get an internet connection for free via wi-fi but it was a slow line or you could pay for it to get a better connection. Not a bad solution in my opinion. There are also a couple of PC’s located in the lobby area near the elevator and it seems like the user there was free of charge.

The location of the hotel is quite good – located on Baker Street it is only a couple of minutes away from the Baker Street tube station and this station has a couple of good subway lines to get around London (see location in this Google map). It is also possible to walk to Oxford Street in like 10 minutes. There are lots of places to eat in the area – we did not have breakfast included in the hotel but we could get breakfast at places like Eat, Starbucks, Pret a Manger, Canteen etc.

But I also have to mention things that were not that great. The room was quite warm when we checked in but I adjusted the air-con to 15 degrees as I thought that would solve the problem – but at night we woke up and we were soaking wet and the air-con did not seem to have any effect to the temperature at all. Some friends of ours also stayed in the hotel and they had the same problem and on Gowalla I saw a comment about the same thing (and that comment was given in the middle of winter). So in the end we have to turn off the air-con and open the window but that resulted in a bit of noise from the street. I see this is a problem noted several times in other TripAdvisor reviews and the hotel has an explanation but it doesn’t really matter – if you have an air-con you expected to work not to turn the room into a sauna.

The squeaking noise that I have mentioned already was also a bit annoying.

All in all this is a pretty decent hotel and the room looked quite new and fresh. The location is also quite good and it is easy to get around from here. But I’m not sure I would stay there again – the sauna experience in the room combined with the fact that it was kinda pricey for a room with no breakfast. Note that the frosted bathroom door can be a bit of a problem if you want some privacy from your fellow roommate. But kudos to General Manager Pascale Fioretti for taking the time to give feedback on reviews posted on TripAdvisor.

I paid 710 GBP for 5 nights (including taxes but excluding breakfast) – that is about 235 USD per night. You can read more about the hotel on the hotel website.

The London trip report will be posted later on on Winking smile

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British Midland opens London-Stavanger route Apr 02

Another airline will start operating on the London-Stavanger route. This time it is British Midland (BMI)that opens a new route from Heathrow to Stavanger airport at Sola and according to their press release you can get an economy ticket from 120£ for a return ticket. Flights started on April 1st 2011 and it looks like it will be daily flights. BMI is also a member of the StarAlliance.

At the moment there are also routes from Stavanger to London being served by SAS (to Heathrow) and Norwegian (Gatwick). At least this is making it even simpler for Londoners to come over to see our fjords (e.g. the Pulpit rock) and it makes it even simpler for Stavanger people to go shopping in London Smile. You can find some information about British Midland’s flights to Norway on this page.

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OK hotel if you have to spend a night near Heathrow Sep 09

I stayed at Sheraton Heathrow hotel (not the Sheraton Skyline) for one night in September 2009 and I booked the room on SPG online and got it for 69 GBP (including taxes but excluding breakfast). When I reached Heathrow airport I took the Hoppa H4 bus (costing 4 GBP) to get to the hotel and it didn’t take many minutes. Check in was fast and I was assigned to SPG room 3139. Read the entire review below by clicking on the more link below.

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Great location and tiny room Aug 31

I stayed at Radisson Edwardian Berkshire Hotel in London the end of October 2008 in connection with a short trip to London. I booked the hotel in advance and paid 188 GBP. When I arrived, the check in was very fast and I was assigned to room 801 which was on the top floor.  When I first came into the room I found a small room but I was prepared for this based on the reviews that I have read in advance.  But the room itself was quite nice and seemed very organized and tidy at first glance.You can read the rest of the review by clicking the link below.

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One night on Sheraton Skyline hotel at Heathrow in London Jun 27

I stayed at Sheraton Skyline hotel at Heathrow in London in the end of March 2009. It is actually not the first time I stay here…I stayed here for one night in 2005 when I was in transit on my way to Rome in Italy. Back then we were amazed by the bed in the hotel and it was time to check it out again in connection with a work trip to Malaysia.

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