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Dublin's Urban Retreat: The Croke Park Hotel | 都柏林的城市隱居:克羅克公園酒店

For mom and dad's first trip to Dublin, we stayed at The Croke Park Hotel for three nights and used it as our sightseeing base. 

Ranked number 5 out of 171 hotels in Dublin on TripAdvisor, the Croke Park consistently scores highly on cleanliness, food, service and price.

This 4-star modern property is part of The Doyle Collection, an Irish-owned boutique chain with hotels in Ireland, UK and the U.S. I first heard about it from a friend who held her wedding reception at The River Lee in Cork and couldn't praise it highly enough. So that's one vote of confidence in the bag.

The hotel is located north of the river and a 15-minute stroll to the city's main artery - O'Connell Street. There's also a hop-on hop-off bus stop outside the hotel entrance. 

爸媽第一次拜訪都柏林,主要的目的是要參觀有名的景點,因此我們找旅館的前提便是要方便,舒適,作為四天三夜遊的觀光基地。最終選擇:「克羅克公園酒店」。

四星級的 The Croke Park Hotel 是我一位愛爾蘭朋友所推薦的,屬於 The Doyle Collection 公司旗下的現代精品酒店之一,在 TripAdvisor 上都柏林 171 家旅館中排名第五,旅客給予很好的評價。

酒店位於河道以北,約 15 分鐘腳程可抵達市中心的 O'Connell 大街,酒店門外也有 hop-on hop-off 觀光公車車站。

The Croke Park Hotel is a modern, inviting property located in north Dublin.

LOCATION

For under 20 euros, a taxi will get you from Dublin airport to The Croke Park Hotel in under 20 minutes, passing through some lush countryside and rows of beautiful homes along the way.

The hotel is situated right opposite Croke Park Stadium - home of the Gaelic games such as Gaelic football and hurling. It is also one of the largest and most popular venues in Europe for sporting and concert events. The next big name on the calendar is Beyonce, who will be performing here in July 2016 as part of her Formation world tour.

Although a railway track runs along one side of the hotel, we did not see or hear any train go by during our entire stay. The area is generally very quiet and only seems to come alive whenever there is an event at the stadium.

地點

從都柏林機場搭計程車到克羅克公園酒店約20分鐘車程,沿途穿過許多美麗的鄉間小道,費用大約18~20歐元,所以只要有兩位乘客以上,搭計程車都會比坐公車便宜。

酒店的正對面就是大名鼎鼎的「克羅克公園體育場」,是蓋爾式(愛爾蘭式)足球與曲棍球比賽的主場,也是歐洲有名的大型音樂會場地,碧昂斯今年七月就會來這兒表演,是她世界巡迴演出其中一站。

酒店位於住宅區,很安靜,旁邊雖然有條軌道,但我們從未聽到過火車聲。

Front entrance of The Croke Park Hotel.

FIRST IMPRESSION

Built in 2005, the Croke Park Hotel is well-kept and feels spacious and airy. Contemporary design is featured throughout this four-story establishment, and homely touches such as a library nook and fireplaces lend it a boutiquey, comfortable vibe.

The staff at reception were extremely upbeat and helpful, and we were given our room keys immediately despite arriving hours before the official check-in time. However, we were assigned the wrong type of room and eventually ended up waiting in the executive lounge until the right accommodation was readied. 

第一印象

克羅克公園酒店建於2005年,共有四樓,設計現代,光線充足,整體感覺通風寬敞。而小巧的讀書角落與壁爐,製造了溫暖悠閒的氣氛。

一進酒店就看到前台笑咪咪的工作人員,親切地替我們登記入房,不過可能是因為做得太匆忙,竟然分配給我們錯誤的房間。幸好只是個很容易糾正的小失誤,但真是有點兒大意。


ROOMS

The hotel seems to cater mainly to business travellers and families. The rooms come in two categories: Superior and Deluxe, and the configurations include Double, Triple and Family Suite (with 2 bedrooms and a living room). 

There's not much difference between Superior and Deluxe rooms in terms of size, amenities and interior design, but the Deluxe rate does include breakfast as well as access to the Executive Lounge, which I highly recommend. 

房間

這家酒店很適合商務旅客和家庭,有雙人,三人和家庭套房(兩間臥室加起居室)。客房分兩種等級:高級 (Superior) 或豪華 (Deluxe)。

高級客房與豪華客房大小差不多,但豪華房含早餐,還可以使用貴賓室,很值得多花一些錢升級。

All rooms are equipped with the following:

- 32-inch flatscreen TV (50-inch in family suite)

- Tea-making facilities with teabags and instant coffee 

- Hairdryer, iron and safe

- Working area with desk and plenty of sockets (Ireland uses the same 3-prong/220V plug as Britain)

Wireless internet is free throughout the property and the signal is strong. Phew. 

所有房間都配備有:

- 32寸電視(家庭套房的是50寸大電視)

- 熱水壺,茶包和速溶咖啡

- 吹風機,熨斗和保險箱

- 書桌,還有很多插座(愛爾蘭和英國使用同樣的三孔/220V 插頭)

酒店也有免費提供無線網,網速還算挺快的。

The spacious white bathroom has a separate shower and bathtub with toiletries from The White Company, a British home accessories brand known for its simple, beautifully designed bedlinen and home fragrances.

白色的浴室配有獨立淋浴間和浴缸,供應的洗浴用品則是我個人很喜歡的英國家居品牌「The White Company」。


EXECUTIVE LOUNGE

All guests staying in a deluxe room automatically get access to the Executive Lounge on the top floor, where complimentary hot and cold drinks and snacks are served all day. 

貴賓室

豪華客房的客人可使用四樓的貴賓室 (Executive Lounge),享用全天免費供應的冷熱飲品和小點心。

In the morning, guests can choose to have breakfast at the hotel's main restaurant or in the comfort of the Executive Lounge, where a continental buffet is available.

早餐有兩種選擇:一樓餐廳提供的是熱食自助餐,貴賓室裡則是 continental breakfast (歐式早餐)。

For me, the Executive Lounge is the most relaxing space in the hotel. First of all, it has large, comfortable sofas and was almost always deserted during our stay, making it the perfect place to unwind after hours of sightseeing. In the evening, you get a lovely view from the balcony of the sun setting over the stadium and Dublin's urban skyline. 

Feeling peckish? The refreshment section offers cookies, fruits as well as freshly ground coffee and a selection of teabags for a mini afternoon tea. Bottled water and juices are also available.

Another perk for Deluxe room guests is that you get a voucher for a free drink, per person per day, at the hotel bar. There's your nightcap, sorted.

貴賓室平常很少人用,裡面有寬敞舒適的沙發,所以是對我們這些馬不停蹄的觀光客來說,是放鬆小歇的理想場所。黃昏時刻,可以在陽台看夕陽,欣賞都柏林的天際線。

餓了嗎?這裡全天提供餅乾,新鮮水果,多樣式的茶包以及現磨豆的咖啡,另外還有瓶裝的礦泉水和果汁,很貼心。

豪華客房的另一好處就是每人每天都有一張免費飲料的優惠券,香檳啤酒隨你選。


BREAKFAST

Since the Croke Park Hotel is in a residential area, there are not many choices of restaurants in its immediate vicinity. The hotel does have a couple on-site eateries offering comfort food (burgers, sandwiches and steaks) as well as healthy meals (salads and smoothies) throughout the day.

早餐

由於克羅克公園酒店位於都柏林的住宅區,附近的餐館選擇並不多,因此酒店的餐廳全天提供熱食,如漢堡,三明治,牛排,還有較健康的沙拉與現榨果汁,成為許多房客的第一選擇。

Breakfast is served buffet style in the main restaurant. I'm not usually a fan of buffets as I don't fancy the idea of eating food that's been sitting on a hot plate for hours on end. But my preconceived notions were pleasantly overturned here, as everything I had tasted fresh and delicious.

One reason could be because the kitchen opens out to the buffet table so not only do the diners get to see the preparation process, they can also see when freshly cooked items are added to the buffet lineup, which is pretty frequently. 

我平常並不喜歡自助式的早餐,因為放在電熱板上好幾個鐘頭的食物總是不太好吃。不過在 Croke Park Hotel 我倒是吃得很愉快,因為菜色豐盛,新鮮可口,咖啡也很不錯。

餐廳的廚房是開放式,所以大家能清楚看到食物準備的過程,還有上菜的頻率。

Besides the hot food, there's a good selection of fresh fruits (all cut into in large pieces) along with Irish bread, croissants, honey straight from the honeycomb, yogurt and cheese, etc. If you're craving for something that's not available from the buffet, just tell the wait staff and they'll effort to make you what you want.

除了熱食外,buffet 還有許多水果,優格以及新鮮蜂蜜,澱粉類則有愛爾蘭麵包,牛角麵包,麥片等。如果你想吃白煮蛋或自助餐裡沒有的項目,廚房若有食材便會為你製作特別餐呢。

For guests whose room rate does not include breakfast, or anyone who wants a casual meal or a drink, the Sideline Bistro & Bar has a simple menu offering traditional pub food, like sandwiches, fish and chips, salads and even organic smoothies. The space also features a giant TV screen, making it the perfect place to hang out on game day.

不想吃 buffet 的客人可以到酒店的另一家餐廳,Sideline Bistro & Bar,單點早餐,或是三明治,炸魚和薯條,沙拉傳統酒吧食物。

餐廳設有巨大的電視屏幕,是聚會,看球賽的理想場所。

MY RATING: 8.5 / 10

Over all we were very happy with our stay at the Croke Park Hotel and felt well looked after. Next time I'd like to give its sister hotel The Westbury a try. The Westbury is a more luxurious and traditional property located right off Grafton Street (the self-proclaimed 'world famous' shopping district) and a short walk from Temple Bar and Trinity College. 

我的評價:8.5 / 10

我們在克羅克公園酒店住了三晚,總體感覺很不錯:房間乾淨寬敞,食物美味可口,服務親切,加上價錢合理,很值得推薦。

下次再來都柏林,我將會試試它的姐妹店,The Westbury。The Westbury 是傳統式豪華酒店,位於熱鬧的購物區格拉夫頓街,離 Temple Bar 和三一學院僅幾步之遙。

 

Genteel England: Middlethorpe Hall & Spa in York | 溫雅英格蘭:約克的「米多托爾普」歷史酒店

For my very first visit to York, England, I was adamant to stay at a historic hotel to fully absorb the quaintness of this ancient city. I went through the National Trust property list and was immediately drawn to one place - Middlethorpe Hall & Spa, just outside the city center.

首次拜訪英格蘭的約克之前,我只有一個篤定的要求: 住的旅館必須要古色古香,而且最好是古蹟。英國保護名勝古蹟的國家信託提供了許多建議,其中一家最吸引著我,就是位於老城郊區的米多托爾普酒店

Middlethorpe Hall's magnificient back garden with the delightfully named "ha-ha". © EIleen Hsieh/Follow That Bug

Front facade of Middlethorpe Hall as seen from the street. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

Can you ever go wrong with w National Trust property? © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

Constructed in 1699, Middlethorpe Hall is a classic William and Mary country house built for a prosperous master cutler named Thomas Barlow, who bought the Middlethorpe estate as a bid to establish himself as a country gentleman.

The style of the building was indirectly influenced by Christopher Wren's Hampton Court Palace, as reflected in its pattern of red brick, white sash windows and stone corners. In the 1980s Middlethorpe Hall was restored to its former glory and reopened as a luxury hotel. Now it's under the protection of the National Trust.

Middlethorpe Hall建於1699年,屋主是位富有的刀匠,想藉由這棟威廉與瑪莉型式的豪宅來打入上流社會,晉身為鄉紳。

這棟鄉村豪宅的風格靈感來自漢普頓皇宮與名建築師溫恩,處處可見紅磚,白邊大窗戶和開闊的花園。Middlethorpe Hall 在1980年代轉型改成為豪華酒店,今日由國家信託管理。

The airy grand reception room with happy, yellow walls. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

Pretty trimmings around the chandelier. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

Plenty of Instagram-worthy features around the house, including this sweet kitty. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

The main house is decorated in the manner of the 18th century and furnished with antiques and fine paintings. It also features a grand staircase with intricate carvings. There are 10 bedrooms in the main house, including a royal suite. 

走進房子的主樓好像回到18世紀,室內裝飾使用了許多古董和精美畫作做點綴,還有一座木雕的大樓梯。主樓裡有10間臥室,包括了佔地最大,景觀最好的皇家套房。

Royal bedroom Middlethorpe Hall Spa eileen hsieh followthatbug York England UK

THE DUKE OF YORK SUITE

Named after the stay of HRH Prince Andrew, this is Middlethorpe Hall's flagship suite.

Historically grand mansions across Britain would always have a room designated for potential visits from the royal family, befitted with the best of the best that the households could afford, even though most of them probably never got used for the intended purpose.

Another pretty bedroom in the main house, with an uninterrupted view of the back garden.  © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

One proud feature of Middlethorpe Hall is its 20 acres of gardens, and the park land that surrounds the house. 

We visited the property in the winter when the grounds were at their dullest, but we were impressed by the numerous quaint little gardens that produce vegetables, fruits as well as a variety of fragrant flowers.

We also saw a ha-ha for the very first time. It's literally just a ditch in the house's back garden, with benches facing out to the countryside for an uninterrupted view of the surrounding greenery. What a perfect setting for watching the sun rise and set!

Middlethorpe Hall特別驕傲的一點就是它佔地20英畝的花園與周邊綠地。我們拜訪的季節是冬天,所以花園的顏色黯淡,不過這裡有許多可愛的小花園,果園和菜園,種滿了蔬菜,水果以及各種芬芳的花朵,讓我們印象深刻。

我們也是第一次看到“哈哈”­。什麼東西有如此好玩的名稱呢? 其實它是指後花園的一個溝,防止農場動物誤入莊園,溝內還設有面向鄉村草原的長凳,是欣賞日出日落的最佳地點。

Garden Ha-ha Middlethorpe Hall Spa eileen hsieh followthatbug York England UK

What is a 

Ha-Ha?

It's a ditch, in the garden.

The name reflects the reaction of unsuspecting visitors when they see the wide trench for the first time. (Haha!)

The ha-ha is designed to keep grazing animals out of the more formal parts of a garden, replacing the need for a fence. 

It also allows an unrestricted view from the house and the garden to the vast countryside beyond. 

A stroll around the back garden awarded us with this view. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

A walk through the kitchen garden. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

Another view of the kitchen garden. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

A sunset view of the surrounding countryside from the back garden. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

Morning mist Middlethorpe Hall Spa eileen hsieh followthatbug York England UK

The Cottage

Our home away from home.

Travelling as a party of three, the 2-bedroom cottage suite was the ideal choice. Just a short walk away from the main house, our apartment occupied the top floor of the cottage with a master bedroom, a single bedroom, and so much charm!

我們一行三人,爸媽與我,所以兩房的cottage suite是理想的選擇。小屋離主樓只有幾分鐘的步行路程,整個二樓都屬於我們的套房,有一間主臥室與一間單人房,寬敞又安靜。

Our little cottage just meters away from the main house. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

A sun-drenched, cozy living room. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

Living room of our cottage. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

Another view of the living room. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

Beautiful gas fireplace, a much welcomed feature on cold winter nights. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

I loved our cottage suite. It was an easy climb up the stairs to the first floor (second floor for the rest of the world), and the interior is what I would call English-prettiness -- lots of floral patterns, antique furniture, sketches and paintings depicting bygone times, all in an inviting and comfortable manner. 

The weather was bitingly cold when we visited, and I spent a lot of time by the gas fireplace. Not only because it was cozy and beautiful, but that despite cranking the heat to the maximum, the cottage still felt a bit chilly and never warmed up like a modern-day flat. I guess that was part of the cottage-living experience. :) 

小屋套房的裝潢是我所稱的英式優雅,使用許多花卉圖案,古董家具,描繪過去的時代藝術作品,來打造一個溫馨舒適的環境。

我們來訪時剛好碰上非常寒冷的冬天,客廳裡美麗的燃氣壁爐成為了我離不開的好朋友。老屋子不像現代公寓有中央空調,所以無論暖氣開的多強,總是感覺有點寒冷。這也是鄉間生活的必經體驗吧!

Main bedroom in the cottage. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

Haven't seen this type of radio in a long time. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

Beautiful colors in the main bedroom. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

Single bedroom in the cottage. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

Monogrammed towels, of course. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

Another view of the single bedroom. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

Kitchenette with a Nespresso machine. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

The cottage has a small, enclosed kitchenette where you'll find a tin of biscuits, English teas and Nespresso coffee. And if you reserve with the front desk the night before, in the morning the butler will bring you fresh coffee on a silver plate, at the break of dawn, so you can properly wake up before going to breakfast. 

我們的套房設有一個小巧廚房,提供餅乾,英式茶和Nespresso咖啡膠囊。你也可以前一晚與櫃台預定,隔天早晨管家就會浩蕩的在黎明時刻送來熱咖啡,幫助客人在早餐前慢慢甦醒。

Morning Coffee Middlethorpe Hall Spa Eileen Hsieh follow that bug York England UK

Morning Coffee/Tea

Delivered to your cottage at the break of dawn by the butler.

So in love with the green tiles in the bathroom. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

Main House mist Middlethorpe Hall Spa eileen hsieh followthatbug York England UK

Country House Dining

From sunrise to sundown.

For me, the major incentive of getting up in the morning is food, and nothing beats a freshly cooked Yorkshire breakfast! 

Breakfast and dinner are served in the 2 AA Rosettes restaurant in the main house, with two dining rooms overlooking the serene back garden. The dishes are nice and comforting, and the wait staff delightful. The all look like they've just come out of hospitality school, very professional and eager to ensure that the guests are well-looked after. 

享受現做的約克夏式早餐,是我準時起床主要動機。

早晚餐是由主樓內的2 AA Rosettes級餐廳提供,菜餚美味,環境舒適,俯瞰著寧靜的後花園。這裡的服務生超級可愛,每個都像剛從餐飲學校剛畢業似的,每個動作都非常專業,認真的照顧客人。

Breakfast menu. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

Freshly cooked breakfast with a view. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

Beautiful hors d'oeuvre that came with our drinks. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That bug

Dinner is ready! © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

What better way to walk off the hearty meal than to trek down the country lanes or explore the famous York Racecourse, located just right across from Middlethorpe Hall. 

I'd also recommend the spa on site to anyone in need of relaxation. It's small and perfectly formed, with a swimming pool, whirlpool and really nice treatments.

吃飽後可以去附近許多的鄉村步道散步消化,酒店的正對面就是著名的約克賽馬場,有很美的天際線。

需要放鬆的話,我推薦去一趟酒店小而美的水療中心,這兒有游泳池,whirlpool和很棒的spa treatments。

The street in front of Middlethorpe Hall, with far-reaching view of the racecourse and surrounded countryside. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That bug

York Racecourse

York Racecourse

York has a steep history in horse racing that can be traced back some 2,000 years to the Roman and Viking times. Today it's one of the most famous racecourses in Europe and the reigning "Northern Racecourse of the Year", attracting 360,000 visitors every year. 


MIDDLETHORPE HALL & SPA

York, England, U.K.

https://www.middlethorpe.com/

Foodie Heaven: Mandarin Oriental Bangkok (2) | 美食天堂:曼谷文華東方酒店 (二)

Al fresco dining at Mandarin Oriental Bangkok. (Image: Mandarin Oriental)

HAPPY TUMMY, HAPPY LIFE

There are about a dozen dining venues on the premise of Mandarin Oriental Bangkok, and each is unique in taste, décor and atmosphere.

The formal restaurants cover popular cuisines including Thai, Chinese, French, Italian as well as seafood. For those feeling less puckish, you shall find lighter fares at the bar, cafe or the delightful, recently reopened Authors' Lounge.

One spectacle worth pointing out is the dinner and dance show at Sala Rim Naam, a stunning cultural performance that attracts both tourists and locals to the quieter side of the river bank.

通過胃,抓住快樂

曼谷文華東方酒店裡有十多家餐廳,酒吧與咖啡廳,個個都有獨特的美食與氣氛。

正式的餐廳包括了受歡迎的國際性料理,有泰式,中華,法國,意大利以及海鮮。提供小吃輕食的則有酒吧,咖啡廳,或是來到優雅的 Authors' Lounge 享受下午茶。

酒店有名的亮點是每晚在對岸 Sala Rim Naam 餐廳所舉辦的民俗舞蹈表演秀,結合泰國文化與美食,深受遊客和當地居民喜愛。

Spectacular dinner and dance show at the Sala Rim Naam. © Eileen Hsieh

Tucked away in a pavilion across the river from Mandarin Oriental's main premise, guests are ferried to the sumptuously decorated Sala Rim Naam by a hotel boat. Once here, you'll spend the evening tasting a gorgeous set menu of traditional Thai dishes against the backdrop of a classical Thai music and dance performance. It's feast for the senses, filled with enchanting songs, mesmerizing dancers with long nails and fancy props, and even an invigorating segment of Thai boxing. 

Sala Rim Naam 與文華東方酒店隔河相望,所以需要坐船渡河。餐廳裡的裝潢典雅華麗,正中間便是舞台,是欣賞古典泰國音樂舞蹈表演的絕佳背景。

這兒所提供的表演比我以前看過的精采許多,是感官的盛宴。傳統泰式料理道道精緻美味,表演者迷人的歌聲,舞蹈與服裝則讓人眼花撩亂。

Main course: Teriyaki-style salmon. © Eileen Hsieh

Cake and roses for the happy couple. © Eileen Hsieh

Exotic fruits are part of the dessert platter. © Eileen Hsieh

Service here is also worth a mention. The staff are exceptionally attentive and even have prepared a little surprise for mom and dad, which leaves them both red-faced and absolutely elated! 

餐廳的服務無懈可擊,細心的服務人員還特地準備了一個小驚喜,慶祝爸媽的結婚週年慶,讓他們倆兒眉開眼笑,心花怒放!

Brighte your morning with these colorful fruits and yogurts form the breakfast buffet. © Eileen Hsieh

How I miss these tropical beauties! © Eileen Hsieh

Dim sum for breakfast. © Eileen Hsieh

Delicious pastries and breads are also on offer. © Eileen Hsieh

Another foodies' delight is the breakfast served in the open-air riverside café. The buffet presents a mouthwatering selection of staples from the East and the West from dim sim, pastries to a dazzling array of fresh tropical fruits. Do not miss the heavenly papayas -- juicy, sweet, and absolutely divine!

在文華東方,早餐也是一個可讓人心跳加快的時段。河畔的露天餐廳擺滿了一排排的東西方選擇,有剛出爐的法式糕餅,熱騰騰的港式點心,還有琳瑯滿目的熱帶水果。千萬不要錯過泰國的木瓜 -- 汁多,味甜,絕對難忘!

Refreshment boat by the pool. © Eileen Hsieh

The difference between a good hotel and a great hotel is in the details. 

Mandarin Oriental is peerless in its ability to create understated elegance and pamper its guests in the most inconspicuous manner.

One afternoon spent by the pool proves to us why the Bangkok property, along with the first MO in Hong Kong, hold the accolade as the chain's flagship hotels.

高級酒店和頂級酒店最大的差別,就是在於細節。

文華東方是製造低調優雅的專家,無論是風格還是服務,它都能以最不顯眼的方式帶給客人最極端的舒適。

我們在游泳池畔的經驗,證明了這家曼谷酒店確實值得與香港並列為文華東方的旗艦店。

Frozen treats and fruits at your fingertips. © Eileen Hsieh

The hotel has two pools. One is 25-meter long suitable for laps, while the other is shallow and perfect for children or those wanting a dip. Large, comfortable cabanas and lounge chairs line the poolside, where a selection fresh fruits, refreshments and reading material are within easy reach.

Such amenities are typical at luxury hotels. Many places provide chilled drinks, some may even offer ice cream, but nowhere is as generous as Mandarin Oriental Bangkok in dishing out delicious treats and hospitality. 

酒店有兩個室外游泳池。一個約25米長,適合游泳,另一個則是淺池,適合泡水解暑。池畔有許多寬敞舒適的亭子和躺椅,飲料,水果和報章雜誌也都近在咫尺。

許多五星級酒店都有類似的設施。很多地方提供冷飲,有的甚至提供冰淇淋,但很少地方會像曼谷文華東方一樣慷慨熱情,成天不斷的提供甜蜜的驚喜。

Iced lollipop and red rose smoothie. © Eileen Hsieh

Throughout the day, every few hours or so, a staff member goes around the pools distributing a delightful selection of locally inspired desserts and frozen treats.

Then there's the adorable afternoon ice cream run, a production of vintage charm wth a wooden cart, cow bell, homemade coconut ice cream and a colorful array of toppings. The timing is impeccable too, arriving shortly after our lunch plates were cleared and completely demolishing our will to refuse. 

Alas. Surrender never tasted so sweet.

躺在池畔曬太陽,每隔幾小時就會看到工作人員繞著游泳池分發有當地風味的甜品和冷飲。

最有型的道具就是帶著牛鈴的復古冰淇淋推車,浩浩蕩蕩的呈現著文華東方自製的椰子冰淇淋和多采多姿的配料。它到達我們小庭時,午餐盤碗才剛被清除,讓我們完全沒有理由(也沒有意志)拒絕如此討喜的點心。

哎,甜蜜的投降大概就是最貼切的形容吧。

Toppings for the homemade coconut ice cream. © Eileen Hsieh

How can one resist? © Eileen Hsieh


MY RATING: 10 / 10

At MO Bangkok, I did the unthinkable. I didn't leave the hotel premise once in over 24 hours.

Didn't want to. Didn't need to. 

我的評價:10 / 10

在曼谷東方文華,我做了不可思議的事。在24小時內,我完全沒有踏出酒店。

因為在這兒悠哉愉快,心想事成。不想也不需要離開。

 

MANDARIN ORIENTAL BANGKOK

48 Oriental Avenue, Bangkok 10500, Thailand

Phone: +66 (2) 659 9000

mobkk-reservations@mohg.com

Floating pink lotus flowers by the wading pool. © Eileen Hsieh

 

 

Where the Authors Lounged: Mandarin Oriental Bangkok (1) | 作家摯愛:曼谷文華東方酒店 (一)

Don't mind me spending an entire afternoon in this oasis. © Eileen Hsieh

Here I am, lying under the seething midday sun in a poolside cabana, with Thailand Tatler in one hand and a fresh coconut in the other, indulging in the kind of mind and body nourishments unavailable in my country of residence. 

Just as I begin to drift off in the gentle river breeze, the sound of a voice with handbell stirs me awake.

在曼谷炫麗的陽光下,泳池畔的小亭子成了我的避暑天堂,一邊讀著泰國社交雜誌 Tatler,一邊啜新鮮的椰子汁,讓心情漸漸放空。

朦朧時刻,一個柔和的聲音與清脆鈴聲隨著河風飄來。

View of Mandarin Oriental Bangkok from across the river. © Eileen Hsieh

"Madam, would you like to cool off with some of our homemade ice cream?," asks the young attendant behind an exquisite vintage wooden cart, which carries a tub of coconut ice cream and an array of colorful toppings. 

He carefully places a scoop of white ball into a silver bowl and sprinkles peanuts, red beans and a few other ingredients over it, explaining the procedure along the way. Then, before departing, he reminds us of another afternoon treat that will be served in a couple hours.

Mandarin Oriental Bangkok, can I live here please? 

「小姐,請問您要不要試吃我們的手工冰淇淋,解暑一下?」 一位年輕的服務生對我說,他的身後是一輛精巧的手推車,上面放著一大桶椰子冰淇淋與多樣配料。

他細心地把一球雪白的冰淇淋放入漂亮的銀碗,撒上花生,紅豆等配料,同時解釋甜點的製作方法與來源。他還善意的提醒我們:兩個鐘頭後他將會在池畔提供不一樣的甜點,所以建議不要太早離開。

曼谷文華東方酒店,我可以把這兒當作我的家嗎?

Fresh exotic flowers and giant lanterns are sure ways to make an impression. © Eileen Hsieh

THE PEARL OF BANGKOK

Consistently voted one of the best hotels in Asia and the world, Mandarin Oriental Bangkok and its predecessor The Oriental have been serving travellers to the Siamese country since 1876. 

The low-rise hotel sits quietly on the banks of the Chao Phraya River and is home to the iconic Authors' Lounge, named for the many famous writers - most notably Joseph Conrad - who've stayed at the hotel over the years.

泰國閃亮的明珠

靜靜地坐落在湄南河畔,曼谷文華東方酒店長久以來一直名列在全球最佳酒店的排名裡面。

它的前身 The Oriental 於1876年開幕,標榜提供現代化設備和完美服務,成為了國際文學與政治界人物拜訪泰國最愛的歇腳處。而酒店的標誌性建築則被稱為「Authors' Lounge」,也就是「作家休息室」。

The Oriental Hotel opened its doors in 1876 and is the predecessor of today's Mandarin Oriental Bangkok.  © Eileen Hsieh

We’re in Bangkok to celebrate the Ruby anniversary of my parents, who famously pay little attention to life's milestones and don't ever kick up a fuss about them. Therefore the understated No. 1 hotel in the Bangkok is the perfect choice for this special occasion, and my oh my, does it live to its reputation!

Never have I called a hotel "perfect", but Mandarin Oriental Bangkok comes pretty close to it and has elevated the definition of "utopia" to a whole new level.

這次來曼谷主要目的就是要為爸媽慶祝他們的結婚四十週年紀念。從小到大很少看他倆兒為生日或里程碑大肆慶祝,因此我們選擇了低調的文華東方,全家團聚過個溫馨的假期。我必須承認,曼谷文華東方在亞洲酒店排名數一數二,真的有它的道理。

「完美的酒店」在我眼裡是不存在的,但 Mandarin Oriental Bangkok 是我有史以來所拜訪過最接近完美的旅館,把「烏托邦」的定義提升到了一個全新的水平。

Be charmed by the stunning local arts and crafts that adorn the hotel walls. © Eileen Hsieh

A gilded elephant next to the reception desk. © Eileen Hsieh

Inside the MOB, during our visit, the world IS perfect. 

Every view is mesmerizing. Every dish is delicious. 

Everyone is smiling. And everyday is sunny.

在曼谷文華東方酒店的屋簷下,在我們度假的期間,世界是完美的。

處處景致令人如痴如醉。道道菜令人垂涎。人人笑容滿面。天天萬里晴空。

The elegant, newly renovated Authors' Lounge offers a relaxing setting to enjoy your afternoon tea. © Mandarin Oriental

The hotel leaves a memorable impression the moment you enter its premise. 

From the high ceiling lobby with giant lanterns and fresh exotic flowers, the smooth private check-in (led by two beautiful attendees who welcome us with fragrant floral garlands and show us around our rooms), to the smily staff found in every corner of the property who are always saying hello and offering their help, MO Bangkok feels less like a grand hotel but more like the home of a friend with impeccable taste and a fat wallet, and he's just given us all access to everything under the historic, restored roof. 

一踏進曼谷文華東方大廳,你就踏進了一個新世界。

站在吊著巨型燈籠的挑高天花板下,四處圍繞著清新的奇花異草,每人手裡拿著一串芬芳的花環,看著兩位美麗的櫃檯小姐順暢地為我們辦理入住手續。

酒店裡的員工似乎都很熱情有禮,處處都會有人和你打招呼,噓寒問暖。曼谷文華東方感覺不像是個大酒店,反而像是來到朋友的家... 一個有著無可挑剔的品味,以及鼓鼓荷包的朋友的家。

These charming giant lanterns at the lobby set the tone for our stay at Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok. © Eileen Hsieh

A quiet corner with understated rattan furniture. © Eileen Hsieh

IF THE WALLS COULD TALK

If Chao Phraya River is Bangkok's artery, then Mandarin Oriental is the city’s modern heart, thumping with strong heartbeats since its birth 140 years ago.

Then, The Oriental was Bangkok's image ambassador, providing top quality accommodation that rivalled the best in the West. In 2008 the property was officially renamed Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok.

如果牆會說話

如果湄南河是曼谷的動脈,那麼文華東方酒店應該就是這城市近代的心臟,自19世紀中期開始砰跳。

140年前,The Oriental 是曼谷的形象大使,提供媲美西方的高級住宿。酒店於2008年正式更名為文華東方酒店

View of Chao Phraya from our Deluxe room. © Eileen Hsieh

Today, most rooms at the hotel make the most of its advantageous situation and offer an glorious view of the bustling river, magnifying the notion that you are indeed in one of the most vibrant cities in Asia. 

Our deluxe rooms are elegantly appointed with clean-line furniture and textile inspired by traditional Thai designs. There's a working desk and armchairs, as well as bathroom with large bathtub and a walk-in shower. At 40-sqm (428-sq-ft), the space feels uncluttered and intimate. 

今日,酒店裡大多數的房間都有美麗的河景,充分利用其優越的地點,讓客人時時刻刻感受到這個城市的活力。

我們的客房色系典雅,40平方米(428平方尺)的空間裡有一個辦公桌和扶手椅,浴室有大浴缸和步入式淋浴間,樸實的傢俱搭配著傳統泰式風格的裝潢,感覺整潔溫馨。

Fresh flowers and crisp linen in our comfortable deluxe room. © Eileen Hsieh

Fresh flowers also adorn our spacious bathroom. © Eileen Hsieh

Beautiful lemongrass toiletries. © Eileen Hsieh

Fresh flowers are the star of the room decor, and everyday a plate of locally produced fruits will be greeting you, along with an adorable card narrating their story, so you'll know what you're eating.

Courtesy of our floor's butler, mom and dad are treated with a bottle of wine, a rose-covered heart and a pink cake with a cute chocolate angel, all of which are delicious and gone in a flash! :) 

There is high speed wi-fi throughout the hotel, and it's complimentary for guests who have registered for an online MO profile.

我愛房間裡一盆盆的鮮花,也愛每天提供的各種本地出產的水果,盤子上附張貼心卡片,介紹水果的來源,所以客人知道在吃什麼。

我們這樓的管家還準備了一個鑲有巧克力小天使的粉紅色蛋糕與紅酒,加上紅玫瑰拼成的愛情心,慶祝爸媽的紅寶石婚呢!(當然很快都被吃光了!)

酒店的 wi-fi 無線上網是免費的,只需要在文華東方網頁上註冊即可。


MY RATING: 10 / 10

At MO Bangkok, I did the unthinkable. I didn't leave the hotel premise once in over 24 hours.

Didn't want to. Didn't need to. 

我的評價:10 / 10

在曼谷東方文華,我做了不可思議的事。在24小時內,我完全沒有踏出酒店。

因為在這兒悠哉愉快,心想事成。不想也不需要離開

Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok

48 Oriental Avenue
Bangkok, 10500
Thailand

Phone: +66 (2) 659 9000

mobkk-reservations@mohg.com

Little touches that turn a hotel into a home away from home.  © Eileen Hsieh

Brew and Renew: B2 Boutique Hotel & Spa - Zurich | 來釀酒廠泡湯:蘇黎世 B2 精品溫泉酒店

There's something about old buildings that hypnotizes me. 

Maybe it's the uneven walls, the ornate patterns, or the earthy materials, architecture from the bygone era oozes a familiar aura that draws me inside to explore, to appreciate details created by bare human hands and minds before the world's collective reliance on technology. 

老房子,在我眼裡,有一種說不出的美。

也許是喜歡它凹凸不平的牆壁,細膩的雕飾,或是樸實的建材,歷史建築總是散發著迷人的氣質,吸引我去深入探索,認真欣賞在沒有機器的時代,全部靠腦力與人力打造出的作品。

The former brewery now sits in the same industrial complex as Google's European engineering hub. / © Eileen Hsieh

I like to create opportunities to cross path with unique structures that catch my eyes. In Zurich, that building is a 19th-century Swiss brewery converted into a hotel, called B2 Boutique Hotel & Spa

旅遊時,我喜歡製造與獨特建築邂逅的機會。在蘇黎世,我的目標是一棟十九世紀釀酒廠改建的旅館:B2 精品溫泉酒店

B2 Boutique Hotel & Spa in Zurich. / © Eileen Hsieh

Lounge area with comfortable chairs with waist cincher. / © B2 Boutique Hotel & Spa

Set on a hilltop overlooking a repurposed industrial complex that houses Google’s Europe engineering hub, B2 Boutique Hotel & Spa's story mirrors Switzerland's developmental progress over the past 200 years:

Industrialization > Modernization > Sustainable Preservation. 

坐落在蘇黎世市中心的一座小山丘上,俯瞰有谷歌歐洲工程中心的工業園區,B2 精品溫泉酒店的故事反映了瑞士過去200年來的發展與進步:

工業化 > 現代化 > 持續性保護。

Cobble stone road leading to the entrance of B2 Boutique Hotel & Spa. / © Eileen Hsieh

Machine hall showcasing the cooling compressing used in the old brewery. / © Eileen Hsieh

Swinging by Google's European engineering hub with sis! / © Eileen Hsieh

Once crowned the largest brewery in Switzerland, the Hürlimann brewery shut down in 1996 after 130 years of operation.

16 years later, after undergoing a painstaking renovation (as documented in this wonderful video), it was reintroduced to the public as a modern boutique hotel, with a green conscience,  homely feel, and Zurich's first thermal bath fed by an existing spring (a must visit!) 

It's also here that you'll find the city's only rooftop thermal pool, offering an expansive view of Zurich's skyline.

Hürlimann 曾經是瑞士最大的啤酒廠,經營了 130 多年後於 1996年正式關閉。

16年後,經過了浩大的改建工程(有短片記錄),這棟歷史性的建築再次與大眾見面,轉型為環保,親切,現代化的精品酒店。

最與眾不同的是,它有蘇黎世的第一個地底溫泉(必遊!),也有城市唯一的屋頂溫泉區,從這裡可看到蘇黎世開闊的天際線。

Zurich's only rooftop thermal pool is the perfect place to be at sunset. / © B2 Boutique Hotel & Spa

My main motivation for staying at B2, however, is to see its stunning Wine Library.

With large cathedral-style windows and walls covered with more than 33,000 books (all available to hotel guests), it's an inviting space to enjoy a meal anytime of the day.

Glance up and you'll be rewarded with a spellbinding view of glittery chandeliers cleverly constructed with Hürlimann's very own beer bottles. 

It's little bit Potteresque, with the dark woods and high ceilings and all, a proper hideout from the real world.

我承認,來B2精品溫泉酒店的主要動機,就是想看它美麗的葡萄酒圖書館。

The Wine Library ,顧名思義,是品酒與閱讀的地方,提供全天餐飲。

牆上有教堂風格的大扇窗與一排排的書架,裝滿了超過33,000本書籍,全都可讓酒店客人借讀。

最搶眼的就是天花板上高高掛的三座酒瓶吊燈,溫暖的銅色玻璃閃閃發光,打造出溫馨的懷舊空間。

室內設計有點 Potteresque,有哈利波特世界的感覺,若想逃離現實生活,就來這兒靜心吧。

Wine Library. / © Eileen Hsieh

Look up, it's a beer bottle chandelier. / © Eileen Hsieh

Centrally located, B2 is a scenic 15-minute walk from Lake Zurich and the old town, 8-minute walk to the closest train station (Enge), and a 10-minute taxi ride from the main train station, Zurich HB.

The hotel's on-site spa attracts many outdoorsy types looking for some R&R at the end of an active day.

Our two-night stay coincides with Zurich's annual Ironman triathlon, so the hotel is booked to capacity, but you wouldn't know it from the smooth and attentive service.

B2 酒店位於市中心,散步到蘇黎世湖舊城區只需15分鐘左右,最近的火車站(Enge)就在酒店的山腳下,而蘇黎世最大的火車站(Zurich HB)則是約10分鐘車程。

酒店內的溫泉中心吸引了許多喜愛戶外活動的旅客,騎單車,爬山一整天後,可以好好利用水療來舒展筋骨。

我們剛好碰上蘇黎世一年一度的 Ironman 鐵人三項大賽,酒店毫無空房,不過服務品質完全沒受影響,依然如常友善,有效率。

Long leather sofa at hotel reception. / © Eileen Hsieh

Just by interacting with the hotel staff, one can't help but admire the Swiss and their cosmopolitan way of life. The multilingual staff are friendly to a fault and will happily share all they know about the city if you ask. One casual request for restaurant recommendations leads to enough information to fill a Top 10 list of #GoodEats in Zurich, for which we are very grateful!

We've checked out two of the places recommended by the hotel staff -- the legendary, artsy Kronenhall for rustic Swiss food, and Hiltl, the so-called first vegetarian restaurant in the world -- both are outstanding. 

自酒店員工的態度與素質就可以清楚感受到瑞士的國際觀,每位服務人員都會說多種歐洲語言,德英法意都難不倒他們。工作認真,友善,高效率以外,讓我印象最深刻的就是隨口問問有哪些餐廳值得一試,結果得到的回答可以寫成一篇「蘇黎世美食精選集」。

照著酒店的建議,我們拜訪了蘇黎世最有名,像畫廊似的 Kronenhall 瑞士傳統餐廳,還有號稱是全球第一家素食餐廳的 Hiltl 。兩家都值得推薦。

瑞士人食量可能很大,因為我們光臨的每家餐廳食物份量都是巨無霸,幾乎與美國不相上下,而且餐餐幾乎都有馬鈴薯(是國菜嗎?)

Contemplation.... / © Eileen Hsieh

Rooms

B2 Boutique Hotel & Spa has 51 rooms and 9 suites, and each is unique with bespoke furniture and decors. Although not large, our Boutique Room in the former brewhouse feels fresh and immaculate.

It feature a warehouse-sized window that lets in plenty of light and looks out onto the hills and the Google office below. 

客房

B2 精品溫泉酒店共有51間客房和9間套房,每個房間都有獨特的風格。

我們的精品房(Boutique Room)位於前釀酒廠內,空間不大但乾淨清新,從大扇窗可以看到附近的小教堂和山下的谷歌辦公室。

Comfortable double bed in our boutique room. / © Eileen Hsieh

Hotel corridors. / © Eileen Hsieh

A small reminder of the hotel's past identity. / © Eileen Hsieh

Small design touches pay tribute to the building's past, and the minibar is filled with complimentary water, juices and two bottles of -- what else? - cold Hürlimann beer.

房間裡處處可見有工業氣息的懷舊裝飾,迷你吧除了提供礦泉水與飲料外,當然也少不了兩瓶 Hürlimann 啤酒,向老釀酒廠致敬。

The same brand of beer that was once made in the brewery where B2 Boutique Hotel & Spa now stands. / © Eileen Hsieh

It's no surprise to see a Nespresso coffee machine in the room, given that this is the country that brought us the stylish time-saving invention.

But here they kick it up a notch, providing a Zenius pro model which also brews hot water. Tea drinkers, you can relax. 

瑞士是 Nespresso 膠囊咖啡的誕生地,所以大小旅館幾乎都有它的蹤影。

B2酒店所提供的 Nespresso 咖啡機是商業級的 Zenius 型號,可以泡咖啡也可以煮熱水,泡茶很方便。

Zenius is now my favorite model of Nespresso machine. / © Eileen Hsieh

The semi-open plan bathroom is on the small side, with a standing shower and a separate toilet. But it comes with everything you need, including a powerful hairdryer and nice toiletries by FAIR CosmEthics. I especially like its shampoo, which adds incredible fullness to my hair and leaves it touchably soft. But the conditioner is a bit too watery and doesn't do much for me.

半開放的浴室也是小巧玲瓏,有站立式淋浴和獨立的廁所,馬力大的吹風機,還有 FAIR CosmEthics 衛浴用品。

我很喜歡這公平貿易品牌的洗髮精,讓頭髮變得蓬鬆柔順。不過它的潤絲精太稀了,沒什麼效果。

Small but nicely formed bathroom. / © Eileen Hsieh

Fairtrade toiletries. / © Eileen Hsieh

Small but powerful hairdryer. / © Eileen Hsieh

Breakfast @ The Wine Library

The hotel is keen to use locally sourced ingredients whenever possible, and my stay has opened my eyes to how self-sufficient Switzerland is as a country, especially when it comes to food production. 

早餐 @ 葡萄酒圖書館

住在B2酒店,讓我深刻體驗到瑞士這個國家,凡事都希望能自給自足的態度。

Breads from Switzerland. / © Eileen Hsieh

Breakfast buffet with locally sourced delicacies. / © Eileen Hsieh

Swiss jams. / © Eileen Hsieh

Breakfast is served at the Wine Library, and the buffet - with all kinds of fruits, yogurts, specialty cheeses and dried meats - is a proud display of #GoodEats, Swiss style. 

he coffee -- however -- is from Italy. Rightfully so.

酒店裡所使用的東西幾乎都是國產的,早餐 buffet 有多樣化的新鮮水果,優格,起司和風乾肉,全都插著紅底白十字旗,標示出產地。

咖啡倒還是來自義大利(嗯,有品味)。

Freshly cooked egg dishes are served at breakfast. / © Eileen Hsieh

Swiss meats! / © Eileen Hsieh

Important Information: When in Switzerland, drink Swiss wine, because it's so good that hardly any of it gets exported!

Hence Zurich wine is a big selling point at the Wine Library, a perfect accompaniment to Swiss delicacies available throughout the day. 

我想慎重地提醒大家,來到瑞士,一定要嚐嚐瑞士出產的葡萄酒。

因為瑞士酒的品質優良產量又不多,在國內就被消耗掉了,所以幾乎沒有外銷的機會。因此蘇黎世葡萄酒是B2酒店 Wine Library 的一大賣點。

Wine Library. / © Eileen Hsieh

All-day menu at the Wine Library. / © Eileen Hsieh

Just can't get enough of this beautiful room. / © Eileen Hsieh

Thermal Baths & Spa

The hotel is located right above the Thermalbad & Spa, well-known for its Irish-Roman bath fed by the Aqui spring. For a fee of 25 CHF, B2 guests can have direct access to the spa's private facilities via the hotel lift.

The spa looks like a secret underground oasis out of an ancient Rome movie, where turquoise water shimmers in the grotto in the vaulted stone walls of the old brewery, with flowy curtains shielding heated stone lounger from prying eyes. 

溫泉 & 水療中心

蘇黎世著名的 Thermalbad 溫泉水療中心,位於B2酒店正下方,有門票(25 CHF)的房客可以通過酒店的電梯直接進入spa,使用所有水療設施。

Thermalbad & Sp 的前身也是酒廠的一部份,有厚實的拱形石牆,還有大酒桶改建成的温泉池。

來自蘇黎世地底深處的天然泉水在水晶吊燈下閃爍著,像極了古羅馬電影裡的地下神秘洞穴。

 

At the end of the bath ritual, relax in this dark, mystic lounge at Thermalbad & Spa. / © Eileen Hsieh

Roman-Irish bath fed by the Aqui spring underneath Zurich. / © B2 Boutique Hotel & Spa

The self-guided Roman-Irish spa ritual lasts about two hours, and after 10 steps of wet and dry procedures, you're guaranteed to feel soft and relaxed. 

The rooftop thermal pool is beautiful too, although it can get crowded in the evening when lovebirds tend to congregate for the spectacular sunset over Zurich. 

Spa 建議客人花個兩小時,照著羅馬愛爾蘭浴儀式的十道步驟,經過乾,溼,冷,暖的程序來放鬆全身。

地下溫泉浴完畢,別忘了上屋頂的溫泉區欣賞蘇黎世的天際線,泡湯看夕陽。

One of the giant wooden tubs at the spa. / © Thermalbad & Spa

Back in our room, with a bottle of Hürlimann in hand, we look out from the window and admire this hardworking, environmentally conscious, perfectly kept city that has an eye for the future, and a foot in the past. 

Now we understand why time and time again, Zurich has been voted one of the best places to live in the world. 

回到房間,一瓶 Hürlimann 啤酒在手,我們坐在窗臺上討論這個環保,有氣質,前瞻又懷舊的城市,對它佩服萬分。

 

蘇黎世,不愧是世界上數一數二適宜居住的好地方。

The hotel staff surprised me with a birthday cake at breakfast, unprompted! / © Eileen Hsieh


MY RATING: 9.5 / 10

The thermal spa alone would be good enough a reason to stay at B2 Boutique Hotel & Spa. But here the therapeutic energy comes from more places than one: comfortable room, nostalgia design, locally sourced foods, and the incredible staff.

It is truly an all-star hotel.

我的評價:9.5 / 10

光是羅馬溫泉浴就值得來B2精品酒店小住,但這家旅館還有許多其他讓人微笑的亮點:舒適現代的房間,懷舊情懷,愛用瑞士國貨,以及高素質的員工。

這的確是一家全明星酒店。

 

B2 BOUTIQUE HOTEL & SPA

Brandschenkestrasse 152

CH-8002 Zurich

Phone:  +41 44 567 67 67

Email: zurich(at)b2boutiquehotels.com

Japanese Haute Cuisine: Kaiseki Ryori | 精緻的日本傳統美食:懷石料理

For many visitors to Japan, food is undoubtedly one of the most fascinating aspects of this friendly and beautiful country. Japanese cuisine is much more than just sushi, tempura and miso soup, and no matter the region or season, you can always find something fresh and delicious to satisfy your tastebuds. 

Best of all, the current weak yen is also making eating out - and eating well - a much more affordable experience than in the past. 

Last spring, I visited Kyoto and stayed at a quaint little ryokan on Nene no Michi in the temple-filled Higashiyama district, where I had my first experience of kaiseki ryori -- the Japanese version of haute cuisine. Being waited on by our graceful, kimono-clad hostess while enjoying the most visually pleasing (and seemingly endless) dishes of the chef's creation was an endearing highlight of that trip. 

This winter, I chose Motonago again for our family trip to Kyoto and reserved dinner and breakfast during our stay. It was exciting to share the experience with my parents who have had much more exposure to Japanese cuisine living in Taiwan, and get their verdict on the meal that drew me back.

Kaiseki ryori originated centuries ago in Kyoto (then Japan's capital) as a simple meal served at the tea ceremony and later evolved into an elaborate dining ritual favored by aristocrats. Today's it's widely considered Japan's finest style of cooking. 

Our elaborate dinner menu. 這是我們懷石料理的菜單。

The multi-course dinner comprises a series of meticulously presented small dishes inspired by the season, with colors, textures, and tableware to match. Fresh flowers are often used as decoration, injecting freshness and vibrancy to each course. 

Our dinner was everything we'd hoped for. Delicious meal, stunning presentation, along with the best company one can ask for in the world, Motonago had certainly delivered another triumph. 

對許多探訪日本的旅客來說,品嘗正宗「和料理」無疑是最有吸引力的玩點之一。這個友善的國家歷史悠久,風景優美,還擁有多元化的美食文化。吃的選擇不僅限於壽司,天婦羅和味噌湯而已,無論在任何地區或季節,總能找到許多新鮮美味的菜色,來滿足你的味蕾。近來日圓走跌,更是讓吃得好,吃的精緻,成為一個比過去更經濟實惠的經驗。

Motonago ryokan occupies a hundred-year-old wooden building in Kyoto's historic Higashiyama district. 元奈古旅館位於京都有許多代表性寺院、神社的東山區。© Eileen Hsieh

去年春天,我在京都一家古樸的旅館裡首次體驗到名為「懷石料理」的日式高級菜餚。端坐在有上百年歷史老屋裡的榻榻米,看著身著和服的女士優雅的呈現一道道賞心悅目的佳餚,是我那次日本行的亮點。

今年冬天我們全家前往京都,我再次選擇了位於東山高台寺下「寧寧之路元奈古旅館,預訂了早晚餐,期待與家人一起品嘗正宗的傳統和料理。

「懷石料理」源於好幾世紀前的京都(前日本首都),剛開始只是茶道中的簡單膳食,後來演變成為受貴族青睞的精美餐飲,今日它被廣泛認為是日本最優秀的烹飪風格。

我們的晚餐包括了一系列受季節啟發的菜色,結合食材與鮮花,每道菜都擁有與眾不同但融洽的顏色,質地和容貌,精心呈現於小碟上。大家這頓精緻美味的晚餐感到非常滿意,我也覺得自己好幸運有機會舊地重遊,與心愛的家人一同編織新的回憶。


Our Kaiseki Ryori Menu

 

STARTERS

Aperitif 食前酒

First appetizer 先附

Main appetizer 前菜

Fresh slices of raw fish 向附

MAIN COURSES

Boiled and seasoned food 蓋物

One pot dish 台物

Broiled fish 燒皿

Hot food 溫物

Fried food 揚汁物

Vinegary delicacies 酢鉢

SHOKUJI

Miso soup 止椀

Rice 御飯

Pickled vegetables 香物

DESSERT 水物


Prepping for tea. #matcha #kyoto #ryokan

A photo posted by Follow That Bug (@followthatbug) on

MOTONAGO 元奈古

Kyoto Ryokan 京都旅館

 

〒605-0072 京都府京都市東山区 高台寺道鷲尾町51

511 Washio-cho, Higashiyama-ku

Nene no Michi, Kyoto 605-0072

Kyoto Prefecture, Japan

Printable Map

Fable of the Exotic East: Raffles Hotel Singapore | 東方寓言:新加坡萊佛士酒店

Raffles Singapore Hotel's beautiful neo-Renaissance entrance with its famous Sikh doorman.  © Eileen Hsieh

When it comes to grand historic hotels in Asia, none is as illustrious as the Raffles Hotel in Singapore.

提到亞洲歷史悠久的大旅館,新加坡的萊佛士酒店一定榜上有名。

Elegant walkway by the courtyard. © Eileen Hsieh

Courtyard next to the main building. © Eileen Hsieh

The main courtyard. © Brenda Hsieh

For more than 125 year, this striking colonial-style property has been a frontline witness to this tiny island's tumultuous history and dazzling progress, from British colonization, two world wars, immigration boom, declaration of independence, to the multicultural city state and economic powerhouse that we know today. 

In 1987, on its 100th anniversary, the Raffles Hotel was declared a historic monument by the Singaporean government.

125多年來這棟富有殖民時代風格的酒店一直站在最前線,目睹這個小島國動盪的歷史與快速的成長,從英國的殖民統治開始,經歷了兩次世界大戰,移民熱潮,宣布獨立,直到我們現在所看到的多元文化經濟強國。

1987年,在其誕辰100週年,萊佛士酒店被新加坡政府封為國寶級歷史古蹟。

The perfect place for writing, thinking and napping. © Eileen Hsieh

White marbel colonnade. © Eileen Hsieh

Rooftop pool. © Eileen Hsieh

Named after Sir Stamford Raffles, the founder of Singapore, the 10-room Raffles Hotel opened its doors to the public in 1887 offering luxury accommodation, impeccable service, and direct ocean view. 

酒店是以新加坡創始人萊佛士爵士之名命名,於1887年正式開幕,當時只有十間客房,標榜豪華住宿,無可挑剔的服務,與無懈可擊的正面海景。

Old map of Singapore showing Beach Road before land reclamation, with Raffles Hotel on the far left. © Wikipedia

Beach Road -- the street on which the property stands -- used to be on the edge of the island until land reclamation robbed it of its coveted beach access and sea vistas.

Today the hotel is in the business and civic district surrounded by modern high-rises and shopping centres, but inside the old world charm remains intact. 

萊佛士酒店位於濱海大道(Beach Road),顧名思義這條路以前是緊靠著海岸線,後來因為海埔新生地的開發,海灘被填為土地,從此自萊佛士酒店就再也看不到海景了。

如今酒店座落於商業和市政區中心,被高樓大廈和購物中心所包圍,不過踏進萊佛士大門,你還是可以感受到她濃厚的舊世界魅力。

Inside Raffles Hotel's main lobby. © Eileen Hsieh

Grand stairs covered with plush oriental rugs. © Eileen Hsieh

Another view of the mult-levl main buildling with separate lobbies and lounges. © Brenda Hsieh

The poster image of Raffles Singapore is no doubt the elegant neo-Renaissance main building and its immaculately dressed Sikh doorman, a palpable reminder of the city state's colonial past as well as the hotel's exclusivity to the rich and powerful.

Erected in 1899, this multilevel space is an architectural delight, with high ceilings, white columns, dark wood trimmings and antique furniture, effortlessly combing style with comfort and deep nostalgia.

新加坡萊佛士酒店最獨特的景色無疑是她優雅的新文藝復興風格主樓,與衣冠楚楚的錫克門衛,提醒我們這個國家的殖民歷史與從前酒店客人在社會上的高尚地位。

這棟多層次的美麗主樓建立於1899年,有挑高天花板,乳白色棟樑,木質裝飾和古董家具,打造出有濃郁鄉情的舒適空間。

An old piano at one of the hotel lounges. © Eileen Hsieh

An elegant lounge in the main building. © Eileen Hsieh

Design inspiration. © Eileen Hsieh

Hallway outside one of the grand suites. © Eileen Hsieh

All 103 rooms at the Raffles Hotel are suites with separate sitting room, original period features, teakwood flooring and oriental carpets. At over 600 square feet, even the smallest of the suites feels spacious, but also a bit tired. 

萊佛士酒店共有103間客房,全都是含有起居室的套房,柚木地板,東方地毯,也保留的許多原有的建築特色。最小的套房佔地約 600 平方英尺(約 17 坪),算是寬敞,可惜感覺有點老舊。

Our courtyard suite with teakwood floor and original period features. © Eileen Hsieh

Fresh fruits in the room. © Eileen Hsieh

It is a grand dame who's showing her age. The dark wood and thick fabric furnishings lend an air of heaviness to the room, and depending on luck you might even get a bathroom with cracked tiles and chipped paint.

On a brighter note, you do get daily replenishment of fresh fruits, Ronnefeldt tea and Nespresso coffee, as well as access to a helpful, 24-hour butler.

萊佛士的客房像是上了年紀的貴婦人,美麗依舊,但被沈重的裝飾品壓迫著,時而感覺老邁龍鐘,有些浴室還可見裂瓷磚與油漆脫落。

不過酒店的服務一流,每天提供新鮮水果,德國老牌 Ronnefeldt 茶葉 和 Nespresso 咖啡,還有24小時隨時待命的管家。

One corner of the famous Tiffin Room. © Eileen Hsieh

The Tiffin Room -- or the room for light midday meal -- serves up Raffles' famous curry dishes on Sundays, an experience billed as "an essential aspect of colonial life in the early 20th century". 

蒂芬懷舊餐館 - The Tiffin Room - 每週日提供萊佛士著名的咖哩自助餐,標榜為「20世紀初殖民生活的一個重要體驗」。

French Toast. © Eileen Hsieh

Mangosteen. © Eileen Hsieh

Fried chicken and rice. © Eileen Hsieh

Eggs benedict. © Eileen Hsieh

Besides curry and afternoon tea, a sumptuous breakfast is also served at the Tiffin Room, where guests can enjoy an extensive a la carte menu with dishes from all corners of the world along with a beautiful buffet. The food is simple and delicious; the service is warm and impeccable. 

除了咖哩與下午茶以外,蒂芬餐館也提供豐盛的早餐,每早呈現 breakfast buffet 和許多單點的世界美食,任君挑選。食物美味俐落,服務親切,無可挑剔。

Breakfast buffet. © Eileen Hsieh

A variety of mouthwatering tropical fruits. © Eileen Hsieh

Breakfast buffet. © Eileen Hsieh

Of course, you can't set foot inside Raffles Singapore without paying a visit to the hotel's most famous tourist trap - the Long Bar, birth place of the Singapore Sling

來到萊佛士酒店,你不可不去新加坡最有名的酒吧 -- the Long Bar -- 新加坡司令雞尾酒的誕生地。

The unmissable Singapore Sling. © Eileen Hsieh

100 years ago the most famous cocktail in Singapore was born. © Eileen Hsieh

The famous pink cocktail consists of gin, cherry liqueur, Benedictine, Cointreau, pineapple juice, lime juice, grenadine and Angostura bitters and is topped with a slice of pineapple and a cherry. The taste of Singapore Sling is exotic, sweet, and complex -- just like Singapore itself.

這杯粉紅色飲料的原料包括了琴酒,櫻桃利口酒,法國廊酒,君度橙酒,鳳梨汁,檸檬汁,糖漿和安哥斯圖娜苦酒,配上一片鳳梨和一顆櫻桃,就成為新加坡最有名的雞尾酒。Singpoare Sling 的味道奇特,甜蜜又複雜 -- 就像新加坡一樣。

 


MY RATING: 8 / 10

The Raffles Singapore is a grand historic hotel with fine colonial architecture and impeccable style. Come for its old world charm, Singapore Sling, afternoon tea and excellent service. 

 

我的評價:8 / 10

新加坡萊佛士酒店歷史悠久,精美的殖民時代建築與優雅風格令人懷舊,是個享受新加坡司令與下午茶的好地方。

RAFFLES SINGAPORE HOTEL

1 Beach Road
Singapore, Singapore
189673

Phone:  +800 1 7233537 (+800 1 RAFFLES)

 

The Writers Bar and Raffles Grill in the main building. © Eileen Hsieh

A Grand Stay: Al Palazzo del Marchese di Camugliano in Florence|短暫沈醉在佛羅倫斯的貴族歷史裡

Al Palazzo del Marchese di Camugliano is not a typical hotel or bed and breakfast. It is a historic, magnificent and comfortable "palace", literally, in the center of Florence, capital of Tuscany.

This town mansion house is owned by Italy's Marquis Lorenzo Niccolini di Camugliano of the prominent Niccolini family, who has numerous properties in the region including villas in the lush Tuscan countryside as well as another Florence residence with direct view of Italy's "birthplace of the Renaissance" - the Duomo.

位於托斯卡納首都佛羅倫斯的市中心,Al Palazzo del Marchese di Camugliano 不是典型的旅館,也不算是民宿,是個有著長久歷史,低調舒適的貴族居所。

這棟透天豪宅的主人是來自義大利著名 尼可里尼家庭 的 Lorenzo Niccolini di Camugliano 侯爵,富裕的他在佛羅倫薩大教堂對面還有一棟房子,現在也改為了五星級精品酒店,讓來自世界各地的旅客能有機會回到過去,體驗貴族般的精緻生活。

Set in a 16th-century building just minutes from the Arno river, the Palazzo has 10 rooms and suites, all sympathetically furnished in Italian Renaissance style. Every room is spacious and unique, with original frescoes, four-poster bed and large marble bathroom. The guests also have access to complimentary wireless internet and a minibar stocked with water, soft drinks and a few bottles of local beer.

In the morning a freshly prepared breakfast is served either in the beautiful inner courtyard, where guests can enjoy tea in the afternoon as well as apertif in the evening. 

Al Palazzo 是座16世紀獨立門戶的建築,離阿諾河只有幾分鐘的路程。別墅裡有10間寬敞的客房,每間都有四柱床,大理石浴室,而牆上的裝飾是源於文藝復興時期的精美壁畫,翻修後以原貌重現。

除了必要的無線網絡外,房內的免費迷你吧還貼心提供了多樣礦泉水,汽水還有當地的特產啤酒。

居所內蔥鬱的庭院是享用早餐與下午茶的理想地點,傍晚也可以來這兒喝杯開胃酒,讓辛苦遊覽一天的你有機會在晚餐前小歇一會兒。

The Palazzo is conveniently located near many touristy destinations, including the Duomo, the medieval bridge Ponte Vecchio, the Uffizi Gallery, and the Accademia Gallery where you'll find the original David by Michelangelo.

It's also a short walk from countless restaurants and gelaterie. For delicious Florentine steaks and Tuscan cuisine, L'Osteria di Giovanni down the road is sure to please.

After extensive experiments we can also recommend the following places for heavenly gelato: the trendy Amalo and the beloved, family-run Vestri Cioccolateria (both on the same square near the Basilica di Santa Croce), and the friendly Eataly gourmet market just a 2-minute walk from the Duomo (their latte flavor is out of this world!) 

許多旅遊觀光景點,包括聖母百花大教堂,中世紀老橋烏菲茲美術館,和Accademia 美術館 (米開朗基羅的大衛像所在地)等等,離酒店都只有10-20分鐘的腳程而已。

來到佛羅倫斯勢必要品嚐托斯卡尼赫赫有名的碳烤丁骨牛排 (Florentine steak)。Al Palazzo 大門兩百公尺外,便是深受當地居民喜愛的 L'Osteria di Giovann 傳統托斯卡尼餐廳,夜夜滿座,所以建議先請酒店幫忙訂位,以免失望。

當然也不可錯過口味眾多,口感細膩的義式冰淇淋 gelato. 我們嘗試了很多家,覺得最值得推薦的就是位於聖十字聖殿附近同ㄧ個廣場上的 Amalo 與 Vestri Cioccolateria,前者摩登,後者則是常登上旅遊雜誌的老店,各有特色。另外大教堂旁的 Eataly 意大利美食超市內設的冰淇淋專櫃也很棒,尤其是它的鮮奶霜淇淋,好香好濃,回味無窮。

For one of the most spectacular views of Florence, make your way south of the river to the hilltop Abbazia di San Miniato al Monte, one of the finest Romanesque structures and the most beautiful churches in all of Italy.

After feasting your eyes and tiring your legs, you can retire to the Palazzo and learn more about this great city, as the house has its very own historical archive covering the history of Florence and Granducato through the origin of the Niccolini family and their estate in Camugliano.

雖然大多數的景點都在是市中心,千萬別錯過了坐落于阿諾河南岸山腰上的聖米尼亞託大殿教堂,純淨優雅的造型讓它在義大利境內享有「最精美的羅曼式建築」的盛名,這兒同時也是佛羅倫斯最美麗的觀景點之一。

Al Palazzo 其實也是個值得歷史迷參觀的小景點,居所內展出許多尼可里尼家庭的歷史檔案,有興趣的人可以經由這個貴族家庭一代代的成就來研究,來了解佛羅倫斯百年來轉變的過程。

在這兒,你真正可以完全沈迷在過去的貴族世界裡。


Al Palazzo del Marchese di Camugliano

Hotel | B&B | Residence

Via del Moro, 15, 50123 Firenze, Italy

筱晴散文集:光影跳躍的普羅旺斯 | The Rhythm of Provence

Roussillon 紅色山城露絲揚 / By Hawobo at German Wikipedia

 

作者:筱晴

亮白熾熱的陽光,灑落滿山滿谷、翠綠如玉的葡萄園,排列成行,微笑的向日葵,在一望無際的田野排排站,紫色夢幻的薰衣草,更是飄香醉人,還有來自大地的豐饒物產,調配出普羅旺斯的繽紛色彩,猶如一場流動的盛宴。

普羅旺斯位於法國東南方,東以阿爾卑斯山,與義大利交界,西與隆河為鄰, 南接寶石般晶亮的地中海,北為橄欖樹生長的界限。

我們從羅亞爾河的城堡群中脫身後,就往南走,一路風光無限,平直秀麗的鄉間道路,看不盡的麥浪起伏,和深淺交錯的綠林田野,阡陌連綿的葵花田, 一個轉彎,就有它迎向陽光的身影,讓人捨不得眨眼,法國國土遼闊,平坦富庶,向來有 「歐洲糧倉」之美譽。

Image: klassenfahrten.aureliaev.de

修道院前的薰衣草我們一路貪看風景,趕到普羅旺斯省的第一站小鎮露絲揚 (Roussillon),已是午夜,還要勞駕民宿主人帶路,露絲揚盛產紅土,普羅旺斯的典型房屋顏色是赭紅色,紅土就出自於此,朝陽下的紅色村莊,朝氣蓬勃;夕陽西下的小鎮,寧靜安祥,如溫潤的琥珀。

千泉之都 – 愛克斯 (Aix-en-Provence)探訪薰衣草的故鄉是此行的重要目的,當一開上蜿蜒的山路,我們就發現走錯了路,但狹隘的小徑已無退路,只好硬著頭皮往上爬,未料峰迴路轉,竟然走進中古世紀村莊--賽揚 (Saignon),中午時分,商店酒館都未開啟,杳無人蹤,斑駁古樸的建築,矗立山頭頹圮的修道院,走在石板路發出篤篤的腳步聲,深怕打擾沉睡中的居民,驀然一陣清越的鐘聲從村莊教堂發出,原想古城終於醒了,但等了半把個鐘頭,還是一片靜默,果真是孤寂的小鎮。   

Saignon 賽揚 (Source: Wikipedia)

Saignon 賽揚 (Source: Wikipedia)

未經一番寒徹骨,哪來梅花撲鼻香? 我們上山下山,坡上坡下,越過天際般高的峽谷,穿過三兩戶可愛的石頭屋,走過 「山居歲月」作家彼得梅耶思的桃花源,終於尋覓到薰衣草的故鄉--索特 (Sault),站在高台俯看一片片紫色花田, 雜夾著黃色麥田和綠色玉米田,豐富有層次的色彩,賞心悅目。除了靜態的風景, 還有動態的人文,一群老人正聚精會神的比賽槌球,悠然閒情,躍然紙上,令人羨慕。

身心浸沁了濃郁的薰衣草香,猶嫌不夠,還有藝術之旅的重頭戲,拜訪梵谷的創作地與長眠地,我有強烈的好奇心。亞爾市 (Arles) 因梵谷的畫作而名聞於世,他在十九世紀末來到這裡尋找光與影,創作許多不朽名畫,在 「星空下的咖啡屋」 喝杯咖啡,好似與梵谷對話。

亞爾市位於隆河畔,自古即是重要城鎮,遺留許多羅馬時期的遺蹟,包括羅馬競技場及劇院,皆列入聯合國教科文組織的世界遺產。附近不遠處還留有羅馬水道—嘉德高橋 (Pont du Gard),三層拱門大橋,歷經二千年仍完好無缺,厚重石頭, 古羅馬人的高度文明技術,令人讚嘆,真不可思議,被列為世界遺產,名符其實。

羅馬時代建造的橋斷了亞維儂 (Avignon) 曾是教皇的故鄉,如今每年暑假舉辦的嘉年華會,使它成了藝術表演殿堂,其可看之處是教皇的皇宮和羅馬時代建造的斷橋,爬上保存良好的城垣,斷橋就橫臥在翡翠般的隆河上,古橋連接城垣和對岸的小島,這小島把隆河一分為二,再匯集一處,城堡最高處自然是宏偉的教堂,這是法國最大的哥德式教堂,建於十四世紀,廣場熱鬧非凡,許多街頭藝人預做廣告,招攬觀眾。    

亞維儂 Avignon 羅馬時代建造橋 (Source: Wikipedia)

義大利哲學家但丁來到玻堡城 (Les Baux),走上壯觀險峻的堡壘,山風狂襲,宛如鬼哭神號,他隨口說了一句「地獄大概也只不過如此吧!」而我們竟然自投羅網,在地獄住了兩晚,與哲人的感受截然不同。車子不能進城,只能停在山腰,行李箱無法拿進城,因為高低起伏的石頭路要很費力的拖上拖下,我們只好用小袋子裝要換洗的衣服。

小城很小,只有兩條街道, 三家小旅館,卻美的驚人。當我們走到民宿時,忍不住哇的尖叫起來,原來我們住在石頭城最高處,與六百年歷史的城堡共用城牆,主人是藝術家,一斧一鑿打造山洞,歷時四十餘年才完成,三間風景絕佳的房間,可以眺望對面的石頭山,頂樓陽台,一覽無遺的頹圮城堡與之等高,猶似雲端,夜晚星辰滿坑滿谷,晴空閃爍,流星剎那劃過,可惜來不及許願,夜半果真狂風怒號,飛沙走石,令人顫慄,似乎要印證哲人的咒語。

馬賽 (Marseille)港灣的紫杉堡,據說是基督山恩仇記中監禁男主角的場景,它也曾惡名昭彰,淪陷為海盜窩,而今努力洗刷罪惡,脫胎換骨成為法國的重要港口,拜古蹟藝術與美食之賜,今日的馬賽已是蔚藍海岸上的一顆明珠。

九天的南法之旅,只能走馬看花,看個輪廓,我與普羅旺斯相約,不久的將來,定會帶著家人再度來訪。 

玻堡城 Les Baux (By Benh LIEU SONG - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5143955)

London Through My Eyes (4) - Hotels

The #Dorchester #Bear. 💕

A photo posted by Follow That Bug (@followthatbug) on

Hotel browsing is one of my many guilty pleasures, and with over a thousand lodging options in London, I'm always discovering new and unusual places that I can't wait to recommend to visitors.

I also have a soft spot for historic hotels, therefore in this video we're going to look at some of London's surviving inns and hotels that have served travellers throughout time.  

What is your favorite home away from home in London? 

 

瀏覽酒店是我最喜愛的「休閒」活動之一,每每有空就想上網查看各地旅館的風格與評論,而住在倫敦最大優勢就是可以成天上街尋寶,讓我迫不及待地想向遊客推薦新發現的好地方。

我也對歷史悠久的酒店情有獨鍾,因此在這部影片中我們要拜訪倫敦唯一剩存的長廊客棧 The George Inn,順便認識倫敦旅館業的演變。

您有最愛的倫敦旅館嗎?

 

You can check out the rest of the series here:

London Through My Eyes (1) - Then & Now

London Through My Eyes (2) - It's Christmas Time!

London Through My Eyes (3) - Afternoon Tea 

Beautiful Destination: Falling In Love With Tuscany

It is very difficult to stay concentrated in Tuscany. From the fervent sun to the comforting food and wine, there are simply too many elements that tantalise the senses, putting me in a constant state of sweet coma. 

The essence of Tuscany lingers after one leaves. Luckily for me, the memories of the beguiling sights and sounds have hung around long enough for me to put together a list of my favourite Tuscan experiences.

Piazza del Campo in Siena, Tuscany. © Eileen Hsieh

Piazza del Campo in Siena, Tuscany. © Eileen Hsieh

Historic Towns

Arezzo - Best known for its antiques and providing the setting for the 1999 Oscar-winning film Life Is Beautiful.

Chianti_Classico.jpg
Florence's famous Fiorentina steak - this is the portion for one person! © Eileen Hsieh

Florence's famous Fiorentina steak - this is the portion for one person! © Eileen Hsieh

The Chianti Region - The name is synonymous with wine excellence, but only Chianti Classico carries the famous seal of the black rooster.

Florence - Cathedral of Santa Maria with the most recognised Duomo is here, along with world-class museums such as Galleria dell'Accademia (home to Michelangelo's David) and Uffizi Gallery, and the most renowned bridge with shops - Ponte Vecchio.

Lucca - The old town is confined within an ancient wall wide enough to accommodate traveling cars, bikes and people. 

Montalcino - Where the acclaimed Brunello diMontalcino wine comes from. 

Montapulcino - Hilltop town famed for its red wine, including Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. On the outskirt of the town lies the imposing Church of San Biagio.

Monteriggioni - The most adorable town in Tuscany in my opinion, with a well-preserved 13th-century circular wall. 

Pisa - The city needs no introduction. Just don't miss the Leaning Tower. 

Rapolano Terme - A popular thermal station with hot sulphurous waters. The popular San Giovanni Terme Rapolano Spa has four thermal pools with varying natural temperatures. 

San Gimignano - A UNESCO World Heritage Site. During the town's most prosperous era in the 13th and 14th centuries, rival families built soaring towers as symbols of their wealth and power. Today, 14 of the 72 towers have survived. 

Siena - Another UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most visited tourist attractions in Italy, with the most unique public square - Piazza del Campo.

The perfectly preserved miniature walled city of Monteriggioni. (source: www.turismo.intoscana.it)

No visit to Tuscany is complete without a stay in an agriturismo. Sunrise at Fattoria Voltrona. © Eileen Hsieh

No visit to Tuscany is complete without a stay in an agriturismo. Sunrise at Fattoria Voltrona. © Eileen Hsieh

Agriturismo and B&B

Dinner time at Fattoria Voltrona. © Eileen Hsieh

Dinner time at Fattoria Voltrona. © Eileen Hsieh

Antica Dimora Johlea B&B - Florence

Dainty B&B in the heart of old town Florence, with breakfast served on the rooftop overlooking the city. 

...

Fattoria Voltrona - San Gimignano

We could not have picked a better place for our very first agriturismo experience. The place oozes rustic charm. The rooms are spartan but large and comfortable. Do not miss the communal dinner - the food is delicious, and the wine is produced from grapes grown in Fattoria Voltrona's vineyards and flows all night.

...

Everything at Villa Buoninsegna is grand, including its windows. © Eileen Hsieh

Everything at Villa Buoninsegna is grand, including its windows. © Eileen Hsieh

Villa Buoninsegna - Rapolano Terme

An imposing mansion in the famous spa town, surrounded by vineyards and two pools. Dinner here is a bit more formal than at the Fattoria Voltrona and very good.

...

B&B La Romea - Lucca

Historic residence in the heart of the Old Town with gorgeous decor. The suite is gigantic with a bathroom to match. Generous breakfast with a good selection of sweet and savoury offerings.