MAY25

Escape of the Week… Misc eatdrinksleep

 
  • Misc eatdrinksleepWe love Amsterdam – a vibrant city of canals, culture, and more famous sites than you can shake a clog at. With this in mind, you can imagine our delight at finding not only a gorgeous central bolthole, but also one with a family-run vibe that makes it feel like staying with friends.

    This 6-room B&B next to the iconic Nieuwmarkt is ideal for those who want a short stay in Amsterdam and don’t want to miss any of the fun. The beautifully furnished, thematic rooms sit above an informal cocktail bar (the ‘Red Light Delight’ tasted great!) and are surrounded by  quintessential Amsterdam cobbles and canals.

    Rooms: Behind its classic 17th-century façade, the building houses 6 themed rooms that the owners have meticulously decked out with super-comfy kingsize beds, large windows and a number of spoiling extras, including Nespresso machines, flatscreen TVs and free minibars (non-alcoholic). Interiors vary, from the woven chairs and rustic wooden furniture in Afrika to the dramatic chandelier and ornate mirrors in Baroque. The 3 rooms at the front look out over the pretty canal, but if you want to avoid the noise of central Amsterdam then plump for one of the smaller but equally pretty rooms at the back, with views of the garden and rooftops.

    Misc eatdrinksleep

    Food: This small guesthouse doesn’t offer lunch or dinner, but you can bookend your day with a lovely gastronomic treat. In the morning you’ll find a generous and delicious buffet of pastries, Dutch cheeses, bread, eggs, smoothies and fresh fruit. Come evening, you can return to the cocktail bar, whose menu offers classic Margaritas for the traditionalists and a number of adventurous specialities for those after something more unusual. As for the meals in between, you’re in a fantastic part of town and the staff will be more than happy to point you in the right directiondinner.

    Misc eatdrinksleep

    When to go: Any time you fancy a break. The city is pleasantly quiet during the summer months of July and August, when many of the locals are away on holiday. Or you could try a winter break for some Christmas shopping and ice skating on the frozen canals.

    Misc eatdrinksleep

    Customer Review: “Very kind, helpful hosts, perfect location. Cool, comfortable and clean with welcoming chocolates and Prosecco. Complimentary beers and snacks were also much enjoyed. Excellent breakfast. In all, another great find through i-escape – thank you!”
    Rowena, United Kingdom (28.07.14)

    Read the full review >>

    Posted in Escape of the Week. Tagged , ,
MAY22

Just Back from…. Country Kids (With the Kids!)

 
  • Our Head of Bookings Kate recently spent a blissful week at one of our favourite French family-friendly hideaways. With her husband and 2 young sons in tow (aged 4 and 1), she discovered that sometimes luxury is less about the infinity pool and more about reminding harried parents how to relax.

    After the ordeal of getting 2 overtired adults and 2 hyper under 5s to the airport with the appropriate amount of luggage, passports and boarding cards, as well as enough stickers, snacks and superheroes to get us through the flight, we were sorely in need of a break.

    On arrival in Toulouse we faced a long drive to Country Kids, but built-in sat-nav and excellent directions meant we got there in less than 3 hours (mostly motorway). At the very top of a very narrow road near the village of Brenas, owner Tracey, Manager Christophe and Assistant Manager Nancy were on hand to welcome us – and boy were we glad to arrive!

    They led us to our apartment where the kids were shown their bedroom, complete with big toy chest, book box and various puzzles. The children also received a personalised envelope with colouring pencils and a Country Kids travel diary to fill out each day – a lovely touch. My 4-year-old was instantly under Christophe’s spell and couldn’t wait to play on the slide and run around the grounds.

    Country Kids toys

    The converted farm has endless play facilities, and each apartment is well-equipped with huge TVs, iPod docks, comfy beds and full kitchens. Guests self-cater during shoulder season, but in summer rates are all-inclusive. Either way, you essentially don’t have to lift a finger if you don’t want to. The staff-to-guest ratio is very high, the bar serves drinks all day long, there’s a little shop / wine cave for easy suppers, and everyone gets together for the sociable daily afternoon tea.

    Welcome hamperThe Cave

    Day one and the kids were following Christophe to the farm for feeding time – the joy on their faces was a picture! They have donkeys, pygmy goats, chickens, rabbits, a horse and pigs. Kids are actively encouraged to get stuck in, helping to feed all the animals and collect eggs. Best of all, my eldest got to help Christophe drive the tractor! Afterwards, Kids Club welcomes them with open arms for daily activities. The boys loved ‘Pirates and Mermaids Day’, making pirate hats and mermaids crowns, baking cupcakes and doing treasure hunts.

    IMG_85493 IMG_8650

    Soon afterwards, we met Alice, the concierge, to ‘plan’ our stay. ‘Planning’ actually means deciding when you fancy a massage at the little spa, or what restaurant you want to book for babysitting night. In between such a rigorous schedule we relaxed by the adults-only pool and Jacuzzi (set well away from all the kids’ areas). Lying in the sun, I heard the boys charging past on their treasure hunt and just smiled before going back to my book, content that all of us were in our respective happy places!

    Country Kids adults pool

    And yes, there are heaven-sent complimentary twice-weekly babysitting evenings. Over anxious parents are gently ushered out the door while one of the lovely ladies from the crèche takes over for 3 hours. Just a 15-minute stroll away, we enjoyed a fantastic (and great value) supper at La Palombe restaurant. It was such a treat to be out together on a week night, safe in the knowledge that the kids were happy and secure with a babysitter.

    CK1

    Another brilliant idea is the Friday morning kids PJ party. Rebecca came to pick up the kids at a pre-agreed time (8am) and we got to go back to bed! AMAZING!!

    There are also lots of additional activities on offer for the whole family, including pony rides, zip lining/climbing, and pedalos at the Lac du Salagou (20 minutes away). We took the opportunity to go wine tasting at a beautiful local chateau and visit Clemont L’Herault market (while the kids built a Frozen castle in Kids Club!). One of my favourite things that Country Kids provides are their laminated directions cards. Seriously, this is a godsend for people like us who almost always have a row on holiday after getting lost!

    Country Kids

    The beauty of Country Kids is that they really have thought of everything. Luxury is redefined here. It’s not about 300-thread-count Egyptian cotton sheets or someone to clean your sunglasses when you dive into the infinity pool. It’s more about gently cajoling harried parents into remembering how to relax. Christophe and his team make sure that the kids are happy and well looked after, and then us parents can start naturally to unwind, too.

    I am sure we weren’t the first to arrive and, after a day or so, stand around wondering, “What do we do?” Our kids were off making friends at the kids club, there was no cleaning or tidying to be done, no dinner to cook, and no shopping to be purchased. It was an odd but very indulgent feeling.

    CK3

    Come Friday I definitely had the last-day blues, but the Country Kids team soon fixed that with a fabulous lunchtime barbecue. It felt like we had wandered into a Jamie Oliver show: a perfect setting under blooming wisteria, cold wine, great company and happy kids running amok. At 4.30pm the children performed a little show they had been preparing in kids club and then it was time to head off, most of us vowing to return. I am converted.

    Take a look at the rest of our Kids Collection >>

    Posted in Kids, Our Trips.... Tagged , , , ,
MAY20

Our favourite recipes… lemon and ginger chicken tagine

 
  • For the second of our favourite recipes, we’re heading to Marrakech and to intimate riad Dar Zaman, set in the quieter reaches of the northern medina. Our mouths are watering so much at the sound of this tagine that we’re already googling the next available flight!

    Lemon and ginger chicken tagine with olives

    Dar Zaman tagine

    Chicken with preserved lemons and olives is a favourite on menus across Morocco, but not all tagines are created equal! At Dar Zaman, chef Karima enhances the taste by adding ginger.

    Ingredients:

    2 chicken legs (or slightly more if you’d like)
    1 tablespoon of chopped parsley
    ½ a preserved lemon (already preserved or home-made)
    1 teaspoon of black pepper
    2 teaspoons of powdered ginger
    1 teaspoon of saffron powder or a few shakes of dried saffron leaves (enough to colour)
    1 tablespoon of olive oil
    1 tablespoon of sunflower oil
    1 pinch of salt
    3 grated garlic cloves
    2 diced small onions (red or white is fine)
    ¾ cup of water

    Garnish: rind of ½ a preserved lemon sliced into ½ cm slices, and 8‐12 olives

    Dar Zaman tagine

    Method:

    Firstly, you need to prepare the chicken. Rub it thoroughly with salt and leave to stand for a few minutes. Rinse off the salt with water, then rub the chicken all over with a piece of lemon to cover it in juice. Leave to stand for a few minutes ‐ the chicken will turn white from the juice. Rinse again with water.

    Mix all of the ingredients together in a medium saucepan, and simmer over a medium heat until the onions have become clear.

    Once the onions are clear, add enough water to just cover the chicken, then place the lid on top of the pot. Simmer at a low/medium heat until the water has reduced to about 1/2 cm. At this point, remove the chicken and place it into a tagine while you continue reducing the broth at a low temperature for 1 minute.

    Add your garnish to the chicken and then the reduced sauce.

    Place the tagine in the oven at the lowest warming temperature for 20 minutes.

    Serve in a hot tagine with a side of green beans.

    Posted in Foodie. Tagged , , , ,
MAY18

Family Escape of the Month… Ca’s Penelope

 
  • Extended family escapes are a doddle at this beautiful Mallorcan house (sleeping 8-10) in the pretty village of Fornalutx. There’s something to keep everyone amused: a roof terrace with breathtaking views for the readers, a turquoise pool with loungers for the sun worshippers, a high-spec kitchen for the foodies, and more games, toys and books for the kids than you can wave a Wii remote at.    

    Ca's Penelope

    Inside, this family home has a vintage-meets-contemporary atmosphere. Slate, polished concrete and natural riverstone all sit alongside arty touches from the owner’s 15 years in Paris – think silk onion-bulb lampshades, purple velvet cushions and voile curtains.

    Ca's Penelope

    Rooms: There are 5 bedrooms, 2 sitting rooms, an open-plan kitchen-diner and plenty of terrace space to spread out in. The Master Suite has a Balinese emperor-sized four-poster and, in the ensuite, a freestanding oval tub and a walk-in riverstone shower. Opposite is a small twin room with bunk beds and a basket full of toys. Upstairs are 2 large doubles (one of which can be converted into a twin) and another twin room. All have ensuite bathrooms with fluffy robes, slippers, hairdryers and organic toiletries.

    Ca's Penelope

    Food: You can request catering or whip up your own feasts in the well-equipped kitchen. The welcome hamper contains everything you need to get started, including breakfast basics (tea, coffee, juice, bread, butter, bacon, eggs, jam, honey, cereals, yoghurt) alongside a whole cooked chicken, vegetables, rice, pasta and a yummy home-made cake. You can eat poolside, on the terrace, or inside around the oval mahogany table for 10. There’s a well-stocked shop in the village, as well as 3 bars, 2 cafés and 4 restaurants for times when you don’t fancy cooking.

    Ca's Penelope

    Kids' kit and activities

    Customer reviews: “A wonderful villa and magical location for our two weeks with extended family (ages ranging from 10 months to 87 years). Jenny was always available if needed, and incredibly generous with her time and spirit. We had to remind ourselves that this was her home, not ours, as she genuinely made us feel so at home. If there was one downside (and we’re struggling to find any), the smallest office room used by Jack was a bit tight for a 6ft 18-year- old rugby-playing lad, and the only room without air conditioning (although Jenny thoughtfully provided a fan). Remember to take a torch for the walk back after lazy nights in Fornalutx (especially good on Thursday nights when there’s live music in the square). We’ve been back 24 hours and miss it, miss it, miss it!”
    Carol, United Kingdom (02.08.14)

    Read the full review and book Ca’s Penelope >>

    Posted in Family Escape of the Month, Kids. Tagged , , , ,
MAY15

Bird and Knoll’s dream escapes + WIN a luxury scarf

 
  • We’ve asked our friends at Bird and Knoll, makers of beautiful cashmere-blend scarves inspired by travel, to share their favourite i-escape destinations, along with some stylish tips on what to pack. Plus, we’re giving you the chance to WIN one of their luxurious scarves – a fail-safe accessory for any trip.

    Bali

    Macayla: Bali is one of my favourite destinations and the inspiration behind our Bali | Festival Fever scarf. It holds a special place in my heart and no trip is the same. I find the culture so intriguing, the people so warm and welcoming, the food so delicious, and the beaches so beautiful and relaxing…

    Bambu Indah

    I like to think of myself as a savvy traveller with an environmental bent, so extraordinary eco-chic retreat Bambu Indah is top of my wishlist of places to stay on the island. It’s made up of 13 beautifully restored Javanese houses with muslin-draped four-posters and unique touches – a glass floor suspended over a fish-filled pond in one (Undang), a handmade copper bathtub in another (Afrika). They’re set in a rice-field garden on the edge of the Ayung river and once belonged to a Javanese nobleman before being rebuilt by Canadian jewellery designer John Hardy and his wife Cynthia.

    All in all, Bambu Indah sounds utterly magical – an awakening to all the senses in a setting that truly embraces the scenery, fresh produce and cultural insights that Bali has to offer.

    2

    Packing essentials for a Bali escape…

    – A Bird and Knoll scarf to use as a kimono or sarong – and great for wrapping over your shoulders when visiting temples or in the cool of the evening.
    – A floaty dress for romantic dinners; something from Zimmerman would fit the bill.
    – A versatile tote. My favourite is the State of Escape ‘Escape’ bag – perfect for day trips and the beach.

    3

    4Provence

    Natalie: Provence seems to bring out the best in poets, painters and photographers alike, and its patchwork of lavender, poppy and sunflower fields inspired the vivid images of Van Gogh and Cézanne. We also found inspiration there, and the idea for our Provence | La Poste scarf came from the simplest of things – a beautifully antiqued marble letterbox in a Provençal village that had a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’!

    Hotel Particulier

    One of our favourite places to stay is Hotel Particulier. It’s on the doorstep of Arles’ myriad attractions, but you may not want to leave the grounds: it’s easy to while away the day soaking up the effortlessly glamourous décor, strolling through the garden, swimming in the sun-soaked pool, or reading a book in the Moroccan-accented courtyard whilst scooping fresh raspberry jam onto delicate little pastries.

    Hotel Particulier

     Packing essentials for Provence include…

    – A Bird and Knoll Provence | La Poste scarf – the final edit to any outfit.
    – A Bassike cotton jersey dress that can take you from day to night with a simple change from strappy sandals to heels.
    – A good book!

    7

    8

    Thailand

    Macayla: The sublime aqua waters of Thailand’s bays provide relaxation and adventure in equal measure. Lie back in a long-tail boat as it ferries you out to secret beaches where softly lapping waves will tickle your toes and ease your worries away. It’s somewhere I could visit a million times over without ever getting bored.

    9

    I would love to stay at The Sarojin when I’m next in Thailand. Situated on a secluded beach on Khao Lak and surrounded by rainforest, it’s the kind of place you would visit to celebrate a special occasion. With spacious 5-star rooms, drool-worthy food and an ‘imagineer’ to make your dreams come true, it really does sound like somewhere a wanderlust traveller should experience at least once in their lifetime. You even get little luxuries such as bath rims the perfect size for champagne glasses and a deli-bar in each room!

    The Sarojin  

    Packing essentials for Thailand…

    – A good hat. I adore my Red Lippy Panama hat in classic navy or apricot.
    – A Bird and Knoll Thailand | Long Tail Lounging scarf to use as a cover-up for the beach or pool, a wrap over your shoulders, or a headscarf for long-tail adventures (watch how to style your Bird and Knoll here).
    – Your favourite pair of denim shorts – great with a white singlet and sandals for the daytime, or heels and a shirt for the evening.

    BirdandKnoll_Portrait_2015-0151


    The meeting of a fashion mind and a creative eye, Bird and Knoll was founded by Macayla Chapman and Natalie Knoll in 2013. Each of their luxurious oversized cashmere-blend scarves is printed with their artistic photographic vignettes of an iconic and exotic destination – a narrative of the modern woman’s contemporary lifestyle and travel aspirations.

     

    Competition time!

    scarf1

    We are giving away the 3 beautiful Bird and Knoll oversized cashmere blend scarves featured in this blog, valued at £152 each. For your chance to win one simply follow the steps below:

    – Follow @birdandknoll and @iescape on Twitter OR
    – Follow @birdandknoll and @iescapehotels on Instagram
    – Tell us where you would travel with your scarf using the hashtag #iescapewithbirdandknoll

    The 3 lucky winners will be announced on 22 May, 29 May and 5 June on Twitter or Instagram.

    Terms and conditions:
    • To enter the competition, follow @birdandknoll and @iescape on Twitter or @birdandknoll and @iescapehotels on Instagram and tell us where you would travel with your scarf using the hashtag #iescapewithbirdandknoll
    • Opening and closing dates of the competition are 15 May – 4 June 2015.
    • Three separate winners will each win one Bird and Knoll luxury scarf.
    • The winners will be notified on Twitter/Instagram on 22 May, 29 May and 5 June 2015.
    • Competition is not open to i-escape or Bird and Knoll employees.
    • Competition is open only to those aged 18 and over.
    • No purchase is necessary to enter.
    • There will be no cash or alternative prize available.
    • i-escape and Bird and Knoll reserve the right to amend or withdraw the competition without notice due to circumstances beyond their reasonable control.
     
    Posted in Competitions, Our Favourite.... Tagged , ,
MAY13

Spotlight on… Brighton, Sussex and Kent

 
  • As the great British summer begins in earnest, we’re turning our attention to the South East, where a happy mix of vibrant cities, retro seaside towns and gentle countryside provides everything you need for a blissful staycation.

    Why go?

    With rolling hills, endless beaches and great links from London and elsewhere, Sussex and Kent make UK breaks an absolute doddle!

    East Sussex is home to the funky magnet of Brighton, while West Sussex is simply dreamy – think Bosham, Arundel and those Downs. Both are fruitful corners for seekers of shingle beaches, stylish antique shops and beautiful clapboard houses.

    Over in Kent, you’ll find timeless villages, great walking and (in our opinion) the best beach in the South East: Camber Sands. Ramsgate is on the up, too, with 900 Georgian and Victorian listed buildings, lifestyle and retro shopping, convivial pubs, and a picturesque yacht marina.

    Rye - Weald HouseHighlights

    First things first: quirky, creative Brighton is the cultural pillar of the South East. Its grand old pier is worth a leisurely stroll (and a stick of Brighton rock), while Kemptown is the city’s Notting Hill – all vintage shops, gay bars and boho eateries. The South Lanes are admired for their upmarket boutiques; the North Lanes – where the locals go – for their shops of character. Don’t miss The Set, where evenings bring a superb seasonal tasting menu and daytimes offer decadent ‘dirty diner-style’ fish sliders. Upstairs, Artist Residence’s eclectic rooms allow you to immerse yourself in the city’s art scene. Alternatively, stay just down the beach at Kemp Townhouse, a smartly restored Victorian terrace.

    If you want to mix city with countryside, book into Blue Door Barns, just a 30-minute drive away. The setting is a best-of-British showreel: at the foot of the rolling green South Downs, with handsome Lewes, glamorous Glyndebourne and the chalky Seven Sisters sea cliffs all nearby.

    Seven Sisters - Blue Door BarnsThe South Downs National Park itself covers 1,600sq.km that are rich with diverse wildlife, breath-taking views and utter tranquillity. It’s the perfect choice for a glorious country walk – there are countless recommended routes, but we particularly like visiting Blackdown. The highest spot in the south of England, it gazes out over 3 counties (Sussex, Surrey and Hampshire). Stay at 17th-century barn turned tranquil B&B The Barn at Roundhurst, or head to the sleepy village of Burwash, where Pelham Hall’s whimsical rooms are sure to enchant.

    The South East also has a wealth of endearing market towns with which to fall head over heels. One of our favourites, Rye, is often described as one of England’s most beautiful medieval towns. Its cobbled maze of steep streets and narrow lanes (the most famous being Mermaid Street) is bright with art galleries and craft shops. Down on Strand Quay, pretty tug boats and a weekly farmers’ market await. The George combines olde English coaching-inn quirks with contemporary British style, while The Ship Inn’s playful coastal décor will inject a sense of fun into your break.

    Over in Kent, Ramsgate is experiencing a revival. We recommend wandering the independent boutiques while enjoying all the fun of a retro beach holiday: 1950s ice-cream parlours, seafront fish and chips, and traditional tea rooms galore. The town has a Royal Harbour (granted by George IV), plus some wonderful architectural gems dating from its Georgian and Victorian seaside-resort heyday. Albion House is a stunning heritage building with the finest setting in town, enjoying sunshine through its windows from dawn until the last rays of sunset.

    Albion HouseTo really soak up the bucolic beauty of the Garden of England, higgledy-piggledy The Weald House offers Grade II-listed home comforts in the heart of the Kentish countryside, with excellent walking and nature reserves nearby. Best of all, Camber Sands’ huge expanse and impressive dunes are just a 20-minute drive away.

    When to go

    The South East is great for a minibreak at any time of year. Summers are bucolic, and autumns rich with colour and harvest. Winters have a bleak beauty, and in the springtime nature bursts forth.

    Camber Sands - The Weald HouseOur top tips

    Visiting en famille? Take the kids to Ashdown Forest – home to Pooh Bear’s Hundred Acre Wood and the original Pooh Sticks Bridge.

    See our full South East England collection.

    Posted in Spotlight on.... Tagged , , , , , , , ,
MAY11

Escape of the Week… Memmo Alfama

 
  • Romance and sophistication are this week’s watchwords as we take a trip into Lisbon’s historic heart. Hidden down a cobbled street lined with orange trees is Memmo Alfama, an adults-only boutique gem with a warm vibe, light and bright rooms, and jaw-dropping views from its rooftop infinity pool.

    Memmo AlfamaNow filled with trendy cafés and shops and inhabited by a cosmopolitan crowd, Lisbon’s oldest district, Alfama, has seen a period of regeneration in recent years. We loved weaving our way through the maze of streets on the hotel’s free guided walking tour and discovering hidden gems that we’d otherwise have wandered straight past.

    Rooms: The 42 compact rooms feel airy thanks to their calming colour palette and the glass wall separating the bathroom from the bed (don’t worry, there’s a full-length curtain if you want a bit of privacy). A framed Fado LP reminds you that Alfama is the home of the traditional Portuguese folk music, while the fine linens and piles of cushion mean you’ll sleep in the utmost comfort. The Alfama Rooms and Terrace Rooms are the best option if you want to gaze out over rooftops and bell towers to the river.

    Memmo Alfama

    Memmo Alfama

    Food: A tasty breakfast spread of fruit, cereal, local cheeses, breads and pastries is laid out in the lounge alongside a fridge laden with yoghurts, juices and milk in cool little glass bottles. Bacon and eggs can be cooked to order. We loved loading our plate and taking it up to the terrace to eat in the sunshine. For other meals, a press of a bell will summon a waiter from the wine bar to take your order of super-fresh seafood, salads or Portuguese tapas. For lighter refreshments, you can raid the honesty fridge for drinks and nibbles. And there’s loads of choice when it comes to eating out in Lisbon, from rustic Portuguese food at pretty Patrono opposite the Museu do Fado, to a quirky take on traditional dishes at 100 Maneiras in Bairro Alto – we loved the ‘codfish clothes line’ (pieces of dehydrated fish pegged onto a clothes line).

    Memmo Alfama

    When to go: Lisbon is fabulous at any time. Coastal breezes mean the temperatures are bearable even in the height of summer, and there are festivals throughout the year (including Carnaval in February, the Lisbon Book Fair in April/May, and Rock in Rio Lisboa in mid-May). June can be raucous in Alfama, when the area hosts street parties to celebrate various saints’ days – it’s a fascinating time to visit, but don’t expect much sleep. Note that many restaurants and shops close in August, though Memmo Alfama is open at all times.

    Alfama rooftops

    Memmo Alfama breakfast room

    Customer review: “A very charming hotel in a beautiful location. The staff were charming too – very friendly and helpful. One of the nicest hotels I have ever stayed in.”
    Graham, United Kingdom (16.03.15)

    i-escape gift: free local liquor and pastel de nata

    Read the full review and book Memmo Alfama >>

    Posted in City Breaks, Escape of the Week. Tagged , , , ,
MAY08

3 boutique beauties for under £125

 
  • Yes, you did read that right. From a spoiling Somerset pub to a boutique Scottish motel and a groovy Brighton guesthouse, this trio of getaways all have rooms where you can bag a stylish stay for £125 or less.

    White Hart Somerton, Somerset

    White Hart Somerton

    White Hart Somerton

    In the heart of a pretty Somerset town, overlooking the church and the market square, sits this superb pub with rooms. Upstairs, the beautiful bedrooms each have their own quirky charm – maybe hand-printed wallpaper, a claw-foot tub or groovy Anglepoise lamps. Downstairs in the light and bright restaurant, you can feast on fresh local food for lunch and dinner, and eat your fill of delicious breakfast treats – choose from hot dishes such as creamy scrambled eggs and chorizo sausages, or homemade granola with fruit and yoghurt.

    Rates: The ‘Small’ (but beautiful!) rooms start from £85 per night, or you could upsize to a ‘Medium’ room from £105 or a ‘Large’ room from £120. Breakfast is included.

    Special offer: 3 nights for 2 (Sunday-Thursday) until end-June 2015

    i-escape gift: a free Bramley body and bath product (250ml)

    Mhor 84 Motel, Trossachs National Park, Scotland

    Mhor 84

    Mhor 84

    Wonderfully remote yet just an hour from Glasgow and Edinburgh, this boutique motel stands sentry at the gateway to the Scottish Highlands. It offers cheap and chic at its eclectic best: the rooms have white walls and an array of mismatched antique furniture, offset by pretty mountain views. With a focus on local sourcing and sustainably, the food is also a real treat and is served all day, from big breakfasts and afternoon tea to dinners of Scottish delicacies like Shetland mussels and slow-cooked lamb.

    Rates: The simple but stylish doubles/twins and the family room (complete with double bed and bunk beds) all cost £80 per night (room only).

    i-escape gift: welcome tea or coffee plus some homemade cake

    Artist Residence Brighton, East Sussex

    Artist Residence Brighton

    Artist Residence Brighton

    Conveniently placed for Brighton’s station, beach and sights, this chilled-out guesthouse is great fun. Rooms fall into one of two categories – ‘Arty’ (quirky murals and crazy colours) or ‘House’ (Farrow & Ball tones and antique furniture) – and half have a sea view. Breakfast (included each morning as a thank-you for booking through i-escape) is eaten at a long communal table, where favourites such as pancakes and the Full English are washed down with locally brewed coffee and served with a side of conversation. Come evening, we’d highly recommend a drink or two (or four in our case!) in The Cocktail Shack.

    Rates: The ‘Tiny Arty Sea View’ rooms start at only £60 per night.

    i-escape gift: Free daily breakfast

    * all prices and offers correct as of 8 May 2015
     
    Posted in Our Favourite.... Tagged ,
MAY06

Our favourite recipes… Baked egg with sage

 
  • Have you ever tried a delicious hotel dish on your travels and wished you could recreate it at home? Us too! So, we’re going to share some recipes from our favourite foodie hideaways in a new series of blog posts.

    First up is this double bill of breakfast treats from Neri, who runs Berdoulat & Breakfast – an intimate Bath-based B&B with a Turkish twist, where morning feasts encompass delights from Britain and Istanbul.

    Baked egg with sage (serves 1)

    This simple dish is a firm family favourite.

    Ingredients:

    2 large or medium eggs
    Butter
    Fresh sage leaves

    Method:

    Butter a small ramekin dish. Break in 2 eggs and season thoroughly (Neri uses a combination of red, white and black ground peppercorns). Finely chop 2 sage leaves and sprinkle them on top.

    For a nice runny yolk, bake at 180 degrees for 10 minutes. If you prefer a harder yolk, leave in the oven for a touch longer.

    Tomato and pomegranate salad (serves 2)

    Neri serves this zingy dish as part of the ‘Full Turkish’ breakfast offered to her B&B guests, and it’s always been very well received. You could also serve it like a salsa alongside a tagine or various other Middle Eastern dishes.

    You can buy pomegranate molasses from most good supermarkets or health food shops, and it’s a good investment.

    Ingredients:

    7-8 cherry tomatoes
    Olive oil
    Parsley
    Fresh thyme
    Fresh mint
    Pomegranate
    Pomegranate molasses

    Method:

    Cut the cherry tomatoes in quarters. Finely chop the herbs, add some salt and mix with the tomatoes, pomegranate and olive oil. Serve on a dish of your choice, and drizzle a little of the molasses on top.

    Bon appétit!

    Keep your eyes peeled for more tempting recipes appearing on the blog soon…

    Posted in Foodie, Our Favourite.... Tagged , ,
MAY04

Escape of the Week… Chateau La Thuiliere

 
  • Chateau La ThuiliereHidden in 7 hectares of rolling parkland, this chocolate-box chateau in the Dordogne countryside is a cosy oasis of peaceful romance. Hardly surprising, considering its provenance: the original owner built it as a wedding present for his wife in 1889.

    The 7-room hotel has held on to its original romanticism and now offers a wonderful escape for couples and foodies drawn by the beautiful landscape and the pretty towns and markets nearby. However, it’s the friendly welcome from hosts Eduard and Jordi that makes the real difference – it’s like being invited to some supremely thoughtful friends’ opulent country retreat.

    EOTW

    Rooms: The rooms vary throughout the hotel (larger, château-feel rooms on the first floor, and smaller rooms with great views on the second), but you can be assured of luxury at every turn. Expect Mies van de Rohe Barcelona chairs, sleek beds and gilded antique mirrors, plus homely touches like fresh flowers, free bottled water and Miller Harris bath products. All rooms have kingsize beds, together with little indulgences such as fluffy robes and slippers. This isn’t a place for those who can’t switch off, though, as they’re blissfully free of WiFi.

    Chateau La Thuiliere

    Food: Delicious fare is available throughout the day, from a fine spread of pastries, yoghurt, bread, ham and cheese in the morning to a rotating 5-course dinner in the evening. For the latter, you can look forward to a sophisticated marriage of flavours which may include scallops in carrot velouté or calamari on rocket pesto with black salt; there’s also a really fantastic wine list, with excellent recommendations from the hosts. For lunch, you can enjoy the Bistro24 brasserie-style menu featuring homemade quiche and other staples – perfect to enjoy on the sunny terrace.

    Chateau La Thuiliere

    Author’s tip: Bring some nice clothes so you can dress up for dinner – food this good deserves a little effort!

    La thuilière

    Customer Review: “We had a great three nights in this lovely spot and our hosts could not have been more charming. Highlights: breakfast in the amazing kitchen basement and the delicious evening meal. And the bed was super comfy.”
    Mike, United Kingdom (02.10.14)

    EOTW 5

    Read the full review of Chateau La Thuiliere >>

    Posted in Escape of the Week. Tagged , , ,