Travel Inspirations, Wanderlusting & Musings, Worldly Treats & Eats

Amazing Afternoon Tea Spots for a Classy London Trip

Amazing Afternoon Tea Spots for a Classy London Trip

When traveling to new destinations, statistics show that more people are trying to come up with unique itineraries to fulfill their need for more meaningful, authentic experiences. And when they encounter something that bridges a new culture with their own, they develop a deeper connection with the city that travelers have found themselves in.

There are some practices and aspects of countries that are universally present across all cultures, which is amazing in itself, but while we’re out exploring new places, we often aim to fit in with what the locals are doing. For the Brits, one of the things that quintessentially defines their culture is drinking tea, and reports say about one third of UK’s population drink five or more cups of tea per day. So what better way to get acclimated with the London lifestyle by having some high tea in the best tea spots in town?

Not surprisingly, the capital has dozens of places that serve afternoon tea, ranging from affordable to glamorous, from traditional to ceremonious, and here we’ve rounded up some of the best places for you to sample British high tea:

Bake-a-boo
With all the specialized diets that people have to be on these days, finding an afternoon tea spot with a guilt free menu can be quite a challenge. Those that are both health and budget conscious will be delighted to hear that this kitschy tea room on Mill Lane has got gluten-, dairy- and sugar-free baked goods to munch on as you sip on your hot beverage, all for the price of £15 per head. A minimum of two people are required for reservations at Bake-a-boo as well as a 50% deposit along with a day’s notice. Also, afternoon tea is only available from Friday to Sunday, and if you fancy some morning tea instead, you’ll have to book for a Saturday morning.

(image credit: bake-a-boo.com)

 

The Ritz
Relish in London’s tea heritage with an afternoon at The Ritz, which opened back in 1906 and still maintains the sophistication and flair associated with high tea. After successfully booking a spot in this extremely popular establishment, be sure to dress up for the occasion as the dress code is quite strict here, with men expected to wear a jacket and tie. Also be prepared to pay for the extravagance, as it costs £50 or £60 if you opt for the champagne afternoon tea.

(image credit: theritzlondon.com)

The Magazine
Take cue from Condé Nast Traveller and choose a more contemporary setting at The Magazine, a garden cafe overshadowed by Hyde Park’s Serpentine Sackler Gallery. The modern aura is characterized by the glass architecture and interior design with triangular tables to show that this little place is anything but conventional. Replacing the traditional tiers of treats are wooden blocks with an international spread of canapés with delights like the spicy sobrasada, though they do serve a couple classic high tea items like scones with cream and jam. For £25, you’ll get this trendy afternoon tea setup along with a cocktail.

(image credit: cntraveller.com)

————

Travel Inspirations, Worldly Treats & Eats

10 Tips for Dining Overseas and Eating Like a Local

 

TripAdvisor Headshot By Wendy Perrin, TripAdvisor travel advocate

One of the big reasons many of us travel is for the food. We want to try those specialties that don’t taste the same at home, not to mention those foods we can’t even get at home — think mangosteens in Southeast Asia, or a pint of Guinness in Ireland — and, of course, we want to dine in local hangouts rather than tourist traps. With that in mind, here are ten easy steps to eating where and what the locals eat:

1. Avoid restaurants with English-language menus.

More often than not, these are tourist magnets. If somebody is stopping passers-by near the entrance of a restaurant and telling them that it’s home to the city’s best risotto or rijsttafel, that too is a red flag.

2. Follow locals to the best eats.

Check out the local newspaper’s list of best-value restaurants. You can also pick up great intel on a foodie walking and tasting tour. Hotel concierges can be helpful, but only if you ask them where they themselves would go on their night off. Once you’ve found a local hangout you love, ask your server — or whoever else you befriend at that restaurant — where else in town you should eat. And, of course, look at the restaurant ratings and reviews posted on TripAdvisor.

3. Make a beeline for food markets and farmers’ markets.
From La Boqueria in Barcelona, Spain, to the Adelaide Central Market in Adelaide, Australia, these are the colorful can’t-miss places where the locals shop for fresh delicious food, where you can pick up picnic provisions, and where you can usually sit down to a meal too.

4. In Asia, think night markets and even shopping malls.

Asia is filled with exotic night markets and hawker centers (collections of inexpensive stalls selling hot food). If you’re not that adventurous, you can still find all manner of intriguing dishes and exotic flavors in the food courts in shopping malls. It’s easy to figure out what you want to eat: Just make the rounds of the food court, smelling all the steaming specialties on offer, and place your order by pointing to whatever looks most appetizing.

5. Seek out university neighborhoods.
You’ll find inexpensive cafés and interesting ethnic restaurants, not to mention students who are eager to practice their English on you and offer up offbeat sightseeing tips.

6. Order with your hands.
When a menu isn’t in English, just walk around the restaurant and spot which dishes look most appealing, then point to those dishes. Ask what the specialty of the house is, and order that too. If you really need to read the menu, there’s the Google Translate app.

7. Dine at a smart hour.
Don’t presume you’ll want to eat at the same time you do at home. Remember that in some countries — Spain and Arab countries, for instance — locals don’t eat dinner till 10 or 11 pm. If you’re splurging on a restaurant with a spectacular view, be open to dining early (say, 5:30 or 6:00 pm) so you can enjoy the view in the daylight as well as at sunset, at twilight, and at night when the scene is all lit up.

8. Know the etiquette.
Before you make a faux pas such as sticking your chopsticks upright in a bowl of rice in Japan, read up on local customs. TripAdvisor has “Tipping & Etiquette” pages for dozens of countries (just punch “TripAdvisor [country name] tipping etiquette” into your search engine. Here are more ways to learn local customs.

9. If you can’t get a reservation, just show up.
Walk in (nicely dressed) at the hour when the restaurant opens for dinner, or late in the evening. You’d be surprised how often there are no-shows. Here are more tricks for getting a table at a hot restaurant.

10. Visit the takeout aisle of a local supermarket.
Supermarkets are an interesting window into the local culture. Once you see what residents take home to eat, you just might be tempted too — and you can’t beat the price.

Travel Inspirations, Travels Gone by, Worldly Treats & Eats

Where I’ve Stayed, Played, and Layed

*PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT*

Read this post at your own risk as insane envy may arise although it is NOT the intended purpose :-).

DSCF5186

The joy (for me) is in the journey but I admit a small part of me marvels at the places I’ve stayed over the course of my travels (both business and pleasure).  So in the spirit of “lists” and in no particular order might I add, here are some of my favorite accommodations of which I’ve had the pleasure experiencing…..

  • The Mandarin Oriental Tokyo
  • Hotel Sofitel Munich Bayerpost (during my trip to Oktoberfest – see My European Adventure)
  • Grand Hotel Amrâth Amsterdam
  • Four Seasons in San Francisco (it was for business but still….it was AMAZING)
  • Maya Villa/Condos in Playa del Carmen, Mexico (2 story 3 bdrm, 3 bath, living/dining room/kitchen and balcony.  I still have to write the post so more to come)
  • Mahagiri Villas & Spa Dreamland, Bali (3 bedroom, 3 bath, living/dining room/kitchen, private pool/cabana all approx 3000 sq ft – stayed during my birthday celebration in 2014)
  • Barcelo Bavaro Adults Only Resorts Punta Cana DR
  • Ritz Carlton, Charlotte NC
  • The Adolphus, Dallas TX
  • The Fairmont, Seattle WA
  • Sutton Place, Chicago IL
  • The Millenium Hilton – World Trade Center, NYC (before the Twin Towers were constructed, actually during the rebuilding)
  • Protea Hotel Victoria Junction Waterfront, Capetown South Africa
  • The Venetian, Las Vegas NV
  • Dreams Cancun (my balcony overlooked the dolphin school.  This is now a different property now I believe)
  • Hyatt Regency Curacao Old Quarry Golf Course (I think it has changed its name since my stay in 2011)

My memory is giving me a run for my money at the moment so I will stop there while you salivate lol!

Where have you stayed that either gave you excellent service or accommodations that blew you away?

~ Travel Well ~

Mexico, Worldly Treats & Eats

“Plank” not planking in Playa del Carmen

When I tell you this was a total “oink oink” moment (as my friend Erica says).

So in preparation for the birthday celebration, I used Tripadvisor and a few other sites to get the skinny on some highly recommended restaurants for this very special birthday for my friend whom this trip was planned for.  After looking at menus and some reviews, I chose Plank in Playa del Carmen right down from our villa/condo.  It was pure gluttony as we wanted everything on the menu and tried to order everything lol!  The birthday girls enjoyed their special dinner which made the meal even better!20141016_231106

If you ever in Playa del Carmen, please stop by Plank as the staff was great, service was superb, and the food was the icing on the cake!

20141016_214950

 

~ Travel well and eat equally as well ~

 

Asia, Worldly Treats & Eats

Kopi Luwak – The World’s Most Expensive Coffee

While traipsing around Bali last year during my “Bali Birthday” adventure one of our outings led us on a journey to a farm that produced the Kopi luwak.. This coffee gained notoriety after being featured in The Oprah Winfrey Show in 2003 and the myth of its all-natural origins was propagated in a Jack Nicholson–Morgan Freeman scene in the 2007 film The Bucket List.

Kopi luwak (“coffee” in Indonesian, “luwak” from the islands of Sumatra, Java and Sulawesi, which are part of the Indonesian Archepelago’s 13,677 islands (only 6,000 of which are inhabited), or civet coffee, can sell for $75 per quarter pound. But it’s not strictly the exotic location that makes these beans worth their weight in silver. It’s how they’re “processed.”

Kopi luwak or civet coffee, refers to the seeds of coffee berries once they have been eaten and defecated by the Asian palm civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus) in Sumatra.  Palm civets feed on berries and pulpy fruits such as figs and palms.  They also eat small vertebrates, insects, ripe fruits and seeds.  On farms, civets are either caged or allowed to roam within defined boundaries.

(I was a little scared to get too close to it hence the far away (terribly displaced) photo of it.)

As folklore has it, kopi luwak in Indonesian, was discovered by plantation workers in colonized Indonesia.  Forbidden from consuming coffee beans picked from the plants, they picked up, cleaned and then roasted the beans excreted by wild Asian palm civets that entered the plantations to eat the ripest coffee cherries. The civets’ digestive systems gave kopi luwak a uniquely rich aroma and smooth, rounded flavor — so much so that the Dutch plantation owners soon became die-hard fans.

(Awww look at us….it was quite humid out that day and I didn’t feel all that great – the day AFTER my birthday no less.)

What started as, presumably, a way for the natives to get coffee without climbing the trees has since evolved into the world’s priciest specialty coffee.

Honestly I can’t even take credit for this experience as it was the desire of my friend in the pic with me above who had this as a must-see during our Bali adventure!!!  I’m glad we did though.

~ Travel Well ~

La vida Loca, South America, Worldly Treats & Eats

Caipirinha (Brazil’s National Cocktail)

Caipirinha is Brazil’s national cocktail, made with  cachaça, sugar and lime.  Cachaça is Brazil’s most common distilled alcoholic beverage.

  caipirinha cocktail

Main alcohol: Cachaça

Ingredients: Half a lime cut into 4 wedges, 2 Teaspoons brown sugar, 1 2/3 oz Cachaça

Preparation: Place lime and sugar into old fashioned glass and muddle (mash the two ingredients together using a muddler or a wooden spoon). Fill the glass with crushed ice and add the Cachaça.

Served: On the rocks; poured over ice

Standard garnish: Lime, Sugar cane

Drinkware: Old Fashioned glass

Bebam com moderação!

La vida Loca, Worldly Treats & Eats

Catamaran Lobster Lunch Experience – Antigua

As if Antigua wasn’t beautiful enough.

20150325_093053

How bout lobster…..on a Catamaran……sailing the beautiful seas in Antigua!  Such was my sensory pleasing experience on March 25th, 2015.  The lobster was accompanied by rice ‘n’ beans and a vegetable medley seasoned just right.  Nothing better than that fresh off the grill taste with a touch of ocean breeze sprinkled about.

  With the exception of me watching my favorite tennis hat from Bali fly clean off my head and into the blues seas near Jolly Beach, the Catamaran Lobster Lunch was such a wonderful experience!  Even I was gifted that hat during my birthday adventure to Bali in 2014 from the staff at the villa I stayed in, I know that it will be at peace amongst the beautiful blue waters of Antigua (oh to be that hat).

Image result for silence quotes

For my white hat (below) from the staff at the Mahagiri Villas Dreamland in Bali (circa 2014).

Back to the Catamaran and Lobster……..

Did I mention the free flowing cocktails oh my!  LOL!

If you are ever in Antigua, please check out the Catamaran Lobster Lunch outing…..perhaps the one time I didn’t mind acting like a tourist.

Travel Well!!

Godivaworld Travels