K WEST HOTEL & SPA

K WEST HOTEL & SPA

The perfect weekend get-away…

K West Hotel & Spa is situated in one of London’s most up-and-coming districts, Shepherd’s Bush, and is on the doorstep of Westfield shopping centre, one of the largest retail destinations in Europe, boasting over 240 shops. Fashionable areas such as Notting Hill, Portobello Road and Kensington are also just a short walk away.

Formerly the BBC building Kensington House in the 60s, an endless list of rock ‘n’ roll royalty has stayed, played and misbehaved here – Bob Marley and the Wailers, Bowie, The Kinks, Roxy Music and Amy Winehouse, to name a few.

All 219 guestrooms are generous in space and have luxurious oversized beds and a calming colour scheme, LCD flatscreen TVs, sandblasted glass and original artwork give the rooms a distinctive K West stamp.

At the upper end of the scale, six spectacular K Suites offer the ultimate experience. Dramatic walls of glass divide the bedrooms from the lounge areas, and the latter are fitted with Bose surround sound entertainment systems, a 42-inch plasma-screen TV and ultra-comfy sofas. Two-metre-square beds and Aromatherapy Associates toiletries are also staples in the suites and the bathrooms have been fitted with designer Philippe Starck fixtures and double-ended baths.

Come the evening, on the ground floor, near to the entrance, Studio Bar has been given a moody, music-infused atmosphere. Industrial-style pendant lamps hang low over raised tables, and textured, silver wallpaper by Dixon Turner gives the bar a modern edge. The polished, dark walnut wood flooring brings warmth to the area, which is opened up with the use of floor-to-ceiling mirrored pillars and relaxed seating arrangements. Upcycled furniture is used to create high-backed booth seating along the back wall, separated by silver and black voile curtains to create intimate, VIP-style corners. Chic black and white artwork depicting musicians hangs above each booth, with punchy contrasting accents of colour adding vibrancy. Even the drinks menu has been injected with some rock ‘n’ roll swagger; there are six signature bourbon whiskey cocktails available, plus a quirky K West special known as ‘Pickleback’ – a shot of Jack Daniels whiskey and a shot of pickle juice.

By day, Studio Bar is a light and airy space for creative media meetings over coffees and laptops. Plugs are conveniently fitted by seats, and a ‘Geek Hub’ laptop bar, complete with complimentary iMacs for guests to use, can be found tucked into a snug area around the corner from the bar.

On the mezzanine floor above the bar, Studio Kitchen is an informal eatery with an urban New York vibe. Edgy city landscape sketches stretch along the walls, mirrored by a quirky wave of banquet seating hugging the back of the room. Sprinklings of filament light bulbs suspended on individual wires add an abstract, arty feel to the room.

The Library has been redesigned to complement the front of house bar, providing a relaxed, informal and creative atmosphere that can be completely sealed off from the buzz of the bar with black and silver drapes suspended between a giant wooden frame. Andy Warhol-style statement artwork depicting Amy Winehouse is displayed at one end of the room, a tribute to yet another music legend who loved the hotel. Against the opposite wall, a large flatscreen TV sits in the centre of floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, which display an eye-catching collection of coffee table books. The Library will be a multifunctional space, which will be used for screenings, events, pop-ups and various other antics as well as providing a chill space for guests.

K Spa was named Best Spa in London at the Good Spa Guide’s annual awards 2015 and is also the winner of a World Luxury Spa Award. This holistic retreat offers a range of exclusive treatments and is home to London’s first Snow Paradise, which mimics the Finnish experience of alternating between freezing and steamy environments. The spa also features a twinkling hydrotherapy pool, sanarium, sauna, dry flotation tank, aromatic herbal steam room and the fully equipped K Fit gymnasium.

 

Prices start from £125 per room per night and K Suites from £540 per night, including VAT. 

Spa packages are also available and include overnight accommodation and treatments. 

To find out more, please contact K West Hotel & Spa, Richmond Way, London W14 0AX.

For reservations, please call 020 8008 6600 or visit k-west.co.uk

LONDON’S CALLING TO CANARY WHARF

LONDON’S CALLING TO CANARY WHARF

A not so typical stay in London, Jill Nash heads East to explore the unexpected delights of Canary Wharf and Greenwich.

Sleep

Canary Wharf is one of London’s famous financial areas and doesn’t really need introducing. What many don’t realise is this used to be a vibrant port area; it’s scattered with historical buildings and contrasts with the modern business skyscrapers in an incredibly fascinating way. The area draws suited office workers from Monday to Friday and is often avoided by many real Londoners, but there is a lot to see and do in the area for tourists.

Quirky interiors, curved wooden structures and industrial concrete textures set the Lincoln Plaza Hotel apart from the dull, soulless business buildings nearby. The hotel (part of the Curio Collection by Hilton) is vibrantly decorated and complete with thoughtful light and spacious zones, it feels cozy and welcoming. It’s bustling during the week, yet quieter on weekends – the best time for families and friends to visit. The hotel is perfectly located for access local attractions, whether it’s a stroll to Greenwich, an O2 arena experience or spotting the Cutty Sark – all are within a 15 to 20-minute walk away.

The Lincoln Plaza Hotel has 129 rooms and suites spread from the first floor to the eleventh, and being slightly out of central London, you get a lot for your money. The smallest room isn’t poky at all, and the soft furnishings, rusty tones and bespoke, abstract art demonstrate there has been some thought and personality given to the design. 

A generous complimentary gin cocktail – with spices and mixes to suit your taste buds – welcomes you into in your room.Steamed, white linen dresses the beds, which are just the right size and balance. There’s no desk, but a coffee table does the job if you need to work. A smart television, minibar, pod coffee machine and a kettle for making tea complete the amenities. The modern bathrooms are tiled in white and light grey marble, have large rainfall showers and mirrors lit by LEDs. Families are welcome and the hotel has 11 interconnecting rooms for those needing the extra space, children’s menus, cots, bottle warmers and high chairs. For those looking to keep fit, there’s a 24-hour fitness centre, pool with jacuzzi, steam room and scheduled classes in the studio.

Drink & Dine

If you wander downstairs in the hotel and through the Food Store, you’ll be greeted by eager staff at Mr Todiwala’s Kitchen. Headed by chef and TV personality Cyrus Todiwala, the restaurant promises to serve a fusion of regional Indian street food in a high-end setting. The eccentric interior includes striking centrepieces; hanging copper pots, pans and a wooden elephant.

The dishes are inspired by Mr. Todiwala’s home city, Bombay, and entwined with cuisine from his ancestral Parsee community.  Interestingly, each dish has a little story of origin, which makes the menu a great read. The mouth-watering starter platter for two (£18.75) is a good place to begin, and there is not your average samosa in sight. The bites are insanely bursting of flavours and leave you with a thirst for more. The gourmet tasting menu (£70 pp) is a firm option for those who feel overwhelmed by choice. The dishes arrive at your table as they are cooked, and although it can turn out to be a long evening, its most definitely worth the wait. Top dish highlights are the tadka daal, (a spin on the tarka dhal) and the shank of lamb bhuna.

If you didn’t already start the evening with a cocktail in the Jack Speak bar, then head there after your meal (it’s upstairs from the restaurant) to enjoy the Old-World ambience of a naval officer’s mess and sink into a leather Chesterfield. This place is open until 2am, so the perfect place for an after-show drink if you’ve been to the O2. Try a Dirty Merchant (cognac shaken with port) or a Salty Spritz (Aperol and cognac).

The Food Store can’t be missed, with all that hanging cheese and meats. This casual all-day dining spot serves seasonal menus that span grazing plates (charcuterie, cheese), wood-fired pizza and catch of the day from nearby Billingsgate Market. Breakfast is served here too, which encompasses pastries from the deli, cereals and fruit, a selection of teas and coffee, and a full à la carte selection, or the chef is happy to make up a plate of eggs and toast. 

Experience & Explore

The Lincoln Plaza hotel is bang in the middle of the commercial hub and a short stroll away from the heart of Canary Wharf. The O2 is 15 minutes door to door, so if you’re catching a show or live performance, then this is the perfect place to stay. For those looking for shopping experiences, the ICON Outlet at The O2 is a mega shopping complex with over 60 brands with up to 70% off, and the ExCeL London is only 20 minutes away for some of the world largest exhibitions and events.

The Cutty Sark is an award-winning attraction located in nearby Greenwich, the celebrated historic sailing ship (known as a tea clipper) and the fastest of its time, makes an excellent family day out. You can climb aboard, explore the ship and meet the crew. You can also enjoy an afternoon tea in the unique surroundings beneath the Cutty Sark’s copper-plated hull (adult prices from £13.50 | children, £6.75). Team this with a trip to the National Maritime Museum, which has loads of fun activities for kids and four new galleries to while away a few hours, and you won’t be disappointed. Entry to the museum is free. 

Greenwich Market (dating back to 1737) is London’s only historic market set within a World Heritage Site, it’s open 7 days a week and has a large indoor market with up to 120 stalls selling antiques, arts and trinkets. At Christmas, this place lights up beautifully and it’s lovely to wander around with a cup of cocoa in your hand.

 

Book

Lincoln Plaza London, Curio Collection by Hilton.

Double rooms from £129 in low season and from £179 in high. Breakfast from £4.99. Free Wi-Fi. Visit curiocollection3.hilton.com/en for more information or  telephone 020 7987 1157.

 

 

TOP CYCLING HOLIDAY DESTINATIONS IN EUROPE

TOP CYCLING HOLIDAY DESTINATIONS IN EUROPE

Cycling has grown in popularity in the UK over the past decade thanks mainly to British cyclists’ success in the Grand Tour events and Olympic Games. Riders such as Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome, Geraint Thomas, and Mark Cavendish have become household names as British cycling has risen to the elite level both on the track and on the road.

As a result of this popularity, more people have started taking holiday breaks inspired by cycling. Many bike tourists head for destinations seen on the three Grand Tours to get a feel for the gruelling climbs endured by the professionals. But where are the best places in Europe to get the most out of your cycling holiday?

 

Loire Valley, France

 

You may be tempted to head to France to conquer some of the famous Cols as featured in the Tour de France. But cycling in France is about more than just mountain challenges.  The Loire Valley is home to the “Loire a Velo” a 500-mile cycling route, much of which can be ridden on dedicated cycle paths. It passes through many towns including Nantes, Angers, Tours, and Orleans offering plenty of options for hotels and restaurants as well as travel connections by rail, coach, and river shuttle.

 

The region hosted the Grand Depart and the first four stages of the 2018 Tour de France and cyclists visiting the Pays de la Loire can also ride on some of the same routes as their heroes. Any cycling trip to France in 2020 could be arranged to include a visit to a Tour de France stage. British rider Chris Froome is expected to return from injury in time for next year’s tour, to try and wrestle the title from Colombian rider Egan Bernal who is the early favourite in the cycling betting.

 

Majorca, Spain

 

Many professional riders, including retired British favourite Sir Bradley Wiggins, have used the Spanish island of Majorca as a base for their training regimes. As a result, the island has become one of the spiritual homes of cycling. Over the last few years, riders from teams such as INEOS, Astana, and Canyon-SRAM have been spotted training for the Grand Tours during the winter months. Cyclists are drawn by the mild climate and varied terrain which includes challenging climbs on roads with little traffic. Wiggins trained at Sa Calobra in the build-up to his successful 2012 Olympic Games campaign prompting a surge in cycling tourism in the area, in particular at the Tramuntana Mountain Range.

 

 

Lake Constance

 

A cycling trip around Lake Constance will take you on a 160-mile journey through three countries: Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. Much of the route is signposted and a full circle of the lake can be completed, although some of the tracks do have gravel surfaces. There is plenty of stunning scenery along the way including the amazing backdrop of the Alps and plenty of beautiful places to rest and recuperate.

 

These are just a few ideas for top cycling holidays in 2020. Other popular destinations include Italy, Croatia and Ireland. Where will you go?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image Source: Pixabay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ENJOY AN AUTUMN BREAK FROM £62.50 AT DE VERE CRANAGE ESTATE

ENJOY AN AUTUMN BREAK FROM £62.50 AT DE VERE CRANAGE ESTATE

Escape to De Vere Cranage Estate, tucked away in a peaceful corner of Cheshire, for a two-night stay for four from £250.00 – just £62.50 per person*. Guests will receive free tickets to the Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre where they can discover The Lovell Telescope, one of the biggest and most powerful radio telescopes in the world.

The offer also includes breakfast on both mornings and a two-course dinner. On arrival, adults will be given a voucher for a complimentary glass of Fitz English sparkling wine – a fruity easy-drinking wine produced in a similar way to Prosecco – to enjoy in the hotel’s bar. The package allows up to two children under 12 to stay and dine for free with an accompanying adult*.

After a busy day, guests can unwind in the hotel’s Tempus Restaurant & Bar and enjoy a craft beer or cocktail before sitting down to indulge in British classics made using seasonal produce. Delicious dishes include smoked haddock and spring onion fishcake and 28 day dry aged sirloin steak, all complemented by the restaurant’s extensive wine list.  

The grade II listed property features 21st century style mixed with rich heritage and offers a picturesque backdrop with its red brick, warm yellow sandstone, and green lawns.

De Vere Cranage Estate is located near Holmes Chapel and is just minutes from J18 of the M6 motorway, with direct rail links to Manchester city centre and within easy reach of Manchester Airport.

For information and to book this offer, visit https://www.devere.co.uk/adventure-is-in-the-air-2019-offer/ or ring 0333 344 9200.

 

 

 

 

*Offer includes breakfast each day and dinner one night of the stay, per person. Dinner comprises of two courses per person from a special set menu or an allowance of up to £16 per person to be redeemed against the cost of food from standard or a la carte menus. If you suffer from food allergies or intolerances, please let us know prior to your stay. Reservations must be booked in advance directly with the hotel. Rate includes voucher for a 125ml glass of Fitz English sparkling wine, 330ml bottle of Meantime London lager, or 330ml bottle of Meantime London Pale Ale. Rate includes a voucher which can be redeemed at the bar, per guest per stay. Soft drink alternative available. Photocopies will not be accepted. No cash alternative. Valid on stay dates only and subject to availability. Up to two children stay and eat for free when under 12 years old only and must stay in the same room as an adult. Offer is subject to promotional room and rate availability. Date restrictions will apply. All rates quoted are from rates and will vary. Offer cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer, discount, group, loyalty or negotiated rates. Additional charges may apply for extra beds in the room and will vary between hotels, please contact the hotel directly prior to arrival for further details.  Full pre-payment is required at time of booking and the rate is non-refundable and non-transferable.

 

BRITISH AIRWAYS & MIAMI

BRITISH AIRWAYS & MIAMI

Travelling in style with British Airways First-Class Travel to The Eden Roc Miami Beach…

 

The Journey

When I received an email from British Airways asking me to join a press trip to Miami to review their First-Class cabins with improved onboard products and service as part of a £6.5bn investment for customers, I didn’t need to check my calendar. 

I travelled First Class to New York last year, so I was interested to see how they could improve on this already impreccable service. And I’d never visited Miami before, so how could I refuse?! 

The finest experience

“First is British Airways most luxurious way to experience flight. From your own stylish suite, to exclusive access to spa treatments, fast-track security, and excellent service, it’s the finest way to travel.”

What to expect

  • Exceptional, elegant British service
  • Your own private, spacious suite where you can work in peace, watch a film, or stretch out and fall asleep
  • A fully flat bed with a foam and microfibre mattress topper and 400 thread count bedding
  • Delicious, indulgent fine dining with exclusively designed crockery, cutlery and glassware from the finest British designers
  • Exclusively designed Temperley London loungewear and slippers and an amenity bag containing Elemis products
  • Access to luxurious lounges and spa treatments
  • A full restaurant experience at 35,000 feet
  • Luxury meals, including a new delicious à la carte menu, plus a range of lighter options that focus on fresh seasonal ingredients of British provenance
  • A new signature afternoon tea service, showcasing the great British tradition of high tea
  • A wide selection of Champagnes, wines, spirits and non-alcoholic drinks with flexibility to order whenever you like
  • Exclusive and dedicated service 

Hours of entertainment

You can lose yourself in a gripping series with the huge library of new releases, including music, eBooks and games, which means you can enjoy the 1,000 hours of programmes available on the in-flight entertainment channels.

All seats come with a 15in screen, with ports to connect up your own devices and high-quality, noise-cancelling headphones for minimal disturbance.

Space to prepare and relax

If you arrive at the airport early, you can take time out in an elegant departure lounge before flying. Modern and luxurious with quality wines, drinks and food, plus a range of business facilities for when you need to work.

On arrival into London Heathrow Terminals 3 and 5, you can stop by the Arrivals Lounge to freshen up, and enjoy more delicious dining options, showers and a clothes-pressing service.

The Concorde Room

You’re also invited to the Concorde Room – BA’s most luxurious lounge. It’s exclusive to London Heathrow Terminal 5 and New York JFK Terminal 7, with discreet booths, full waiter service, private cabanas and a state-of-the-art business suite.

Elemis Travel Spa

Indulge in a luxury complimentary massage or facial treatment with acclaimed British spa and skincare brand Elemis. The Elemis spa is in London Heathrow Terminal 3 and 5 or New York JFK Terminal 7.

First is faster

Flying First lets you skip the queues, with dedicated check-in desks and fast-track security at various airports.

The First Wing

Available in London Heathrow Terminal 5, the exclusive First Wing gets you through the airport quickly and smoothly. It’s a dedicated space for First, Executive Club Gold, and Oneworld Emerald flyers; offers a private check-in area, two of its own security lanes and a direct walkway into the Galleries First Lounge and Concorde Room.

Freedom to pack what you like

There’s no need to compromise when packing, with a generous number of bags allowed in First. Bring both a cabin bag and laptop or handbag on board as well as up to three bags in the hold. 

Verdict

Apart from a slight delay on our flight from Manchester to London, the check-in was seamless and most definitely faster. Our dedicated cabin crew warmly welcomed us with a glass of Champagne and snacks, hung our coats in the wardrobe, and handed us our Temperley PJs, slippers and washbag.

I’d had a busy month, so it was my intention to order my meal, choose a series, and sleep as much as I could on our nine-and-a-half-hour journey to Miami.

I ordered Loch Fyne Kinglas salmon with Granny Smith apple and fennel mayonnaise to start, followed by seared fillet of aged Herefordshire beef with smoked bone marrow butter, Bolney Lychgate jus and wild mushroom duxelles with roasted baby carrots, spring greens and dauphinoise potato. For dessert, I had rhubarb and ginger timbale. It was as delicious as its description. You certainly don’t go hungry in a First-Class cabin. 

A lemon and ginger tea arrived, just in time for me to settle down and watch the first episode of Cheat, but it wasn’t long before the cabin crew made my bed, dimmed the lights, and I was sleeping. Waking in just enough time to have a cup of tea and freshen up before landing.

All in all, a five-star service and a luxurious way to travel. How can I ever turn right again?

British Airways flies from London to Miami twice a dayFirst fares from £2070 return including taxes/fees/carrier charges, are available to book on ba.com/Miami or call 0844 493 0787. Connecting flights are available from Manchester, Leeds Bradford, Newcastle and Scotland.

 

Welcome to Miami… 

If you are going to be in Miami for just two nights, then British Airways First Class is the way to go. The nine and a half hour flight from London Heathrow flies by once you settle down with a glass (or two!) of Champagne. 

After a short transfer, I arrived at the Eden Roc Miami Beach hotel. The Eden Roc is in the heart of the city, at the edge of the sea. My spacious room included an oversized balcony overlooking the ocean, and Nobu Hotel was to the left. I didn’t realise until the morning, but I was right across the road from a myriad of yachts and Millionaires Row.

Dining options are plentiful. Malibu Farm delivers simple farm-to-table freshness overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. It comes with an amazing story of its creator, Swedish Chef Helene Henderson, and the food is something you will want to recreate on your return, so make sure you buy the Malibu Farm Cookery book before you leave.

Nobu Miami offers world-famous Japanese cuisine and features some of the best food and drink on Miami Beach. You can order the perfect cocktail at the Nobu lobby bar, which is a focal point of the hotel and hosts live entertainment at the weekend, or whilst you are soaking up the sun, at the Aquatica beachside bar. If you prefer to stay in, room service is available 24 hours a day. 

Holistic wellness is key to the Eden Roc Miami Beach experience. Esencia Wellness features a spa and fitness centre to inspire personalised renewal, deep relaxation and refined treatments for the mind, body and spirit. The spa and fitness programs have been specially designed to offer a reprieve from the hot Miami sun, with specialised treatments that focus on anti-aging, after-sun care, dry skin, and more. Daily Spa passes can be bought for $25.

WHERE TO GO

MAGIC CITY ADVENTURES

Our private Miami City Tour was a four-hour VIP experience, which included the districts of Wynwood, Design District, Art Deco, Downtown, Brickell, Coral Gables and Little Havana. A must do on a first trip to Miami. magiccitya.com 

BAL HARBOUR

Bal Harbour is known as a get-away for the rich and famous with ultra-chic shopping, deluxe ocean-front hotels, five-star restaurants and pristine beaches. Bal Harbour Shops is an exquisite collection of designer boutiques and restaurants in a tropical setting – a favourite playground for socialites, celebrities and fashionistas. balharbourflorida.com 

LINCOLN ROAD

This mile-long, pedestrian-friendly promenade is home to dozens of restaurants and umbrella-shaded sidewalk cafes, and a great place to people-watch, see dogs dressed better than their owners and watch street performers.

Shopping is the main draw here, with major national and international stores (complete with exclusives not offered in other cities), art galleries, souvenir and cigar shops. It is conveniently located for the beach, so expect to see people dressed in anything from swimsuits to cocktail attire. lincolnroad.com

 

DESIGN DISTRICT

The Design District is known for its sleek, modern architecture, upscale interior design stores and art galleries. Luxury fashion and jewellery boutiques, cafes and celebrity-chef restaurants draw an affluent crowd. Public art dotting the area includes the Fly’s Eye Dome, a geodesic dome designed by inventor Buckminster Fuller.

miamidesigndistrict.net 

DINING OUT 

ESPANOLA WAY

This was the first commercial development in Miami in the early 1920s, Today, this pedestrianised, South Beach street is home to some of South Florida’s most renowned restaurants and sidewalk cafes. You can dine al fresco under the Miami sky, with choices ranging from local and traditional Spanish and Italian dishes to the day’s fresh catches. We’re told this street is buzzing in the evening. I’ll remember Espanola Way for my first ever Mojito-to-go! visitespanolaway.com 

TIME OUT MARKET

Time Out Market is one block away from Lincoln Road Mall, a few blocks away from the powdery, sandy South Beach and surrounded by the best hotels.

A concept that was created in Portugal in 2014 by the 50-year-old publishing company of the same name, Time Out follows one simple rule – if it’s good, it goes in the magazine; if it’s great, it goes in the market. So, you are ultimately getting the best talent that Miami has to offer – a hand-selected sample of everything you’ll want to eat, drink and see. Literally Miami on a plate! timeoutmarket.com/miami

CHOTTO MATTE

Chotto Matte brings the artistic energy of underground Tokyo and modern sophistication of London’s Soho to the west end of Lincoln Road. 

Blending authentic Nikkei cuisine with its dramatic contemporary environment, Chotto Matte Miami is a Lincoln Road destination restaurant that you won’t want to miss. Fresh ingredients, bold aromas and mouth-watering taste sensations. Japanese-Peruvian cuisine is best enjoyed as small sharing plates. You begin with cold, light flavoured dishes before moving gradually on to hotter, more robust tastes. chotto-matte.com/miami

RED, THE STEAKHOUSE SOUTH BEACH

Featuring only the finest Certified Angus Beef Prime on and off the bone, Red’s menu is a hybrid of classic cuisine and the freshest seasonal ingredients. Everything from the sauces to garnishes are prepared from scratch. Red, The Steakhouse has recently been named ‘Innovator of the Year’ by the National Beef Association. redthesteakhouse.com

 

VERDICT

A fabulous stay and one I’d like to repeat very soon. Everything was perfect; from the impressive Nobu lobby bar, my room, the pool, the beach to the food, Malibu Farm, the spa, the bar and the staff. 

The Eden Roc Miami Beachis ideally located across the road from Millionaires’ Row, and chartered yacht excursions are available from the marina, and all of the places listed in this article are within easy reach.

And with a temperature of 30 degrees or more, what’s not to like?

For more information, go to: edenrochotelmiami.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MAGICAL MARRAKECH

MAGICAL MARRAKECH

Be mesmerised by the magic of Marrakech: soak up the souks, devour fresh mint tea and explore the Atlas Mountains. Jill Nash reports from Le Riad, an exclusive Moroccan retreat close to the centre of Marrakech.

 

Stay

A less than four-hour flight from the UK will land you in this exotic North African destination. Marrakech is culturally far enough to feel you have landed somewhere far flung, but close enough to dip your toe in for a long weekend, or longer if you can manage the time. There’s a myriad of accommodation options for a variety of budgets and tastes, September/October being the optimum time to visit after the summer heat and the crowds have subsided.

Set in Morocco’s oldest palm grove is the exclusive space Le Riad, a perfect sanctuary for an all-inclusive holiday with all the trimmings. Le Riad is five kilometres from Marrakech and easily reachable by taxi, so you can explore the buzzing Jemaa el-Fna Square by day or night at your leisure.

The grand entrance with ornate doors leads into a private concierge area with mint tea permanently on tap. The swimming pool and private poolside bar are exclusive to guests of Le Riad, yet you can enjoy the rest of the facilities and entertainment around the Club Med village if you want to venture out. This being particularly beneficial to families, as there’s children’s entertainment, a fabulous mini-club, archery, golf and trapeze, where you can learn to swing high.

Le Riad accommodation is more than just a room. The delightful interconnecting terrace suites make it feel like a private villa, with tremendous sun terraces where you can opt for sundown cocktails and a tray of dates. The bathrooms are sumptuously decorated with ornate tiling, stone sinks, lovely soap amenities and the mini-bar is constantly filled (free of charge).

Staying in Le Riad you can benefit from private poolside service, and they host a private BBQ lunch once a week and an evening dinner of authentic Moroccan dishes. Each evening, there is a raft of canapés from 6pm, accompanied by cocktails and champagne and preparing you for dinner in one of the restaurants.

A few steps away from Le Riad is the Cinq Mondes spa, designed like a Moorish villa, with an ornate water feature and sun loungers scattered around a tranquil, luscious pond. There is a truly authentic marble Turkish bath, where you can opt for a scrub down to cleanse the skin – a memorable experience. Children over eight years can also experience the spa and enjoy children’s mini treatments and massages. Visit clubmed.co.uk or clubmed.co.uk/r/Marrakech-La-Palmeraie for more information.

 

Drink + Dine

Being an all-inclusive property, guests can enjoy eating and drinking literally all day since breakfast, lunch and evening meal are included in the price. As the sun sets, the chef wheels out trays of afternoon tea treats, which are almost an entire meal in themselves. Room service is complimentary should you decide to have an early night and watch a film, and you can still take advantage of the free beers and snacks.

Each day there are varied themes, gourmet barbeques (serving lobster to your heart’s content), so there is always a wonderful variety for everyone. Guests mainly eat in the international dining room at La Palmeraie, which is a buffet-style affair, where you can help yourself to the salad bar, pizzas and sumptuous local delicacies. The Moroccan-themed night is probably one of the best evenings, where they bring the local bazaar from Marrakech to the resort; you can pick up a pair of leather slippers and enjoy taking a photo with one of the resident camels. Evening entertainment is what Club Med does best and each evening, there is a host of different shows from We Will Rock You (rock ballad classics) to the trapeze spectacular stunt show or the mesmerising snake charmers and Moroccan dancers. You won’t be bored, that’s for sure.

Enjoying Moroccan hospitality and specialities at the El Kebir restaurant is an absolute must. Choose from a variety of tagines and couscous dishes and be served at your table in a cosy dining room with a roaring fireplace. El Kebir is included in the price, but a table must be booked in advance.

There are several places you can stop for a drink that are included in the price. The cheerfully stylish Le Pacha is ideal for afternoon tea or drinks before dinner, and its poolside bar perfect for a relaxing aperitif after a day of swimming. The bar du Riad is exclusive for residents at Le Riad, warmly and elegantly decorated, secluded and providing an intimate ambience by day. In the evening, the piano is playing, and the fires are lit as it can sometimes get chilly in the evenings in Marrakech.

Finally, the adult-only Zen Zone is the place to be if you don’t have the children – grab a drink by the quiet pool and head for a snooze on a sun lounger.

 

Explore

There is plenty within the resort to keep you busy for a few days; challenge your friends at the driving range, practice your drop shots on the clay tennis courts or reach for the stars swinging on the flying trapeze – all with expert tuition and included within the price.

Outside the resort, discovering the souks of Marrakech is undoubtedly one of the highlights for any first-time visitor. The resort offers a free shuttle to the main square several times per day; alternatively, you can easily grab a taxi. Wandering through Jemaa el-Fna is a treat for the senses; indulge in freshly squeezed orange juice and dates and inhale the fresh scents of mint tea and spices on offer in the markets. Haggle to your heart’s content for leather goods, sparkling jewellery and sequined kaftans. At night, the souks come alive with entertainment, including snake charmers, fire-eaters and music – it’s simply not to be missed.

For something more tranquil, head over to the three acres of botanical gardens and artists’ landscape known as the ‘Jardin Majorelle’, which was created by French Orientalist artist Jacques Majorelle. This is one of the most visited sites in Morocco and a spectacular work of artistry, and you can explore the space with a horse-drawn carriage, which makes the trip even more special.

A day spent on a 4×4 discovering the Atlas Mountains is a thrilling experience, you can organise this directly from Le Riad and take a day to enjoy the vast, impressive scenery and meet with the Berber population before enjoying a mint tea and Moroccan lunch.

For something more low key, and if you are tight on time and/or have children, take a camel ride for a morning. The resort boasts resident camels and expert guides, so you can head out of the resort in their company and are guaranteed lots of fun.

Whatever you are looking for – a short blast of autumn sunshine or a thrill-seeking weekend away – Marrakech has all the right ingredients for an unforgettable trip. Le Riad is affordable for families looking for that special getaway without breaking the bank.

Book:

For a family room (occupancy four: two adults, 8-year-old child and four-year-old child), prices start from £3,000 (seven-night stay, November and December 2019, Saturday or Sunday departure). Includes flights from Manchester and airport-resort transfers. Kids under six stay free. Visit clubmed.co.ukfor more details.

 

 

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