Why Rome is the perfect weekend getaway..

Rome is the perfect weekend getaway, it has something for everyone, museums, art galleries, great food and depending when you go, great weather!

Top 5 Things to Do in Rome

Rome is the perfect weekend getaway, because there is so much to see and do, so I’ve compiled a list of my Top 5 Things to See and Do..

  • The Vatican: book your tickets in advance online to avoid the long queues. Go early in the morning to as this is when the museum is quietest.  There is so much to see, so give yourself plenty of time to enjoy it, we spent around 3 hours exploring, but if you opt for a tour it will take you most of the day.
  • The Colosseum: again book in advance, all the major tourist attractions in Rome get busy, and you can end up wasting a lot of time queueing if you’re not organized.
  • EAT EAT EAT! This is a pasta lovers dream (aka my dream!). Avoid eating at any of the tourist trap restaurants in St Marks Square. My favourite restaurant was Le Jadin de Russie. Go for an early dinner and sit dine in their beautiful courtyard.
  • Walk this is the best way to absorb the energy of the city, and enjoy the ancient Roman architecture.
  • Shop all the best European boutiques can be found near the Spanish Steps.

The costs…

Flights from London Heathrow – Rome were £150 per person with British Airways travelling at the end of May.

Two nights at the St Regis booked with American Express Travel cost £540 for a superior room.

IMG_5494IMG_5490

IMG_2971IMG_2972IMG_2973IMG_2975IMG_2976

Berlin X Kassel

IMG_9601
Soho House Berlin
IMG_9641
Holocaust Memorial
IMG_9834
Jewish Museum
IMG_9768
Jewish Museum
IMG_9835
Jewish Museum
IMG_0020
Our families stolpersteine in Kassel
IMG_0025
Messinghof Kassel – this building once belonged to my family before it was taken away during WW2.

Istanbul

 

Beautiful decor, amazing facilities and a fantastic location..

I stayed at Soho House Istanbul, one the groups largest houses, it operates as hotel / spa and a private members club

We opted for a Tiny Room, which at the time was an unbeatable €80  per night.

Non-member rates for a Tiny Room range from €225 to €240

And if you’re going all out, The Playroom will cost you between €1000 to €1200 per night

What I LOVED…

  • Beautiful design
  • The Turkish breakfast was OUT OF THIS WORLD!
  • Convenient location, close to shops, restaurants, metro links
  • Guests staying at the hotel get full access to the club which is located right next door
  • The wonderful Cowshed goodies in the room
  • Hair dryer and straighteners can be found in the bathroom
  • Great TV selection, I know, I know these things shouldn’t matter, you’re on holiday, but we know they do!

What I didn’t love..

  • Although the room was very stylish, it failed on some levels to be practical and at times felt a little cluttered.
  • Lack of wardrobe space
  • No full length mirror
  • Poorly lit bathroom

…And if you have a room that backs onto the street- very noisy!

BUT this could all be remedied by getting a larger room, so I’ll bare that in mind for next time!

Cowshed Spa

We booked various treatments at Cowshed felt and found the staff to be kind, professional and the treatments were just as I would expect from any of the other Cowshed Spas.

Book the Traditional Turkish Hamman Experience; leave feeling pampered and squeaky clean!

Sorry there aren’t any pictures of the hotel and club, I had to follow the Soho House rules – no pictures!

Where to Eat

Cecconis

All my friends laugh at  me, as I’m OBSESSED with Cecconis, whichever city I’m in, I hunt it down: Miami, LA, Berlin, London and now Istanbul.

Everything about this restaurant is delicious, the food, the scenery, the Peach Capirinhas’s…

My love for Italian food has no end, even in what I can only imagine is the epicentre of Turkish Food I managed to eat at Cecconi’s twice throughout my stay!

This beautiful courtyard restaurant attracts the uber glam crowd of Istanbul, I recommend making a reservation in advance and dressing to impress.

Where to Visit

There is so much to see in this bustling city, and I’m probably guilty of spending too many hours on the roof working on my tan, and not as much time as I could of exploring!

But here are a few of the places I did get round to seeing.

  • Sultanahmet (The Blue Mosque)
  • Hagia Sophia
  • Süleymaniye (the Magnificent)
  • The Grand Bazar

Please note, during times of prayer you won’t be allowed to go inside the Mosques, but you can still walk around the outside and take in the magnificent Ottoman architecture which the city is famous for.

 

11325053_1591157587775770_2065149581_n11326547_931442763542647_1272420955_n11410732_567942606678608_1759185104_n924668_1516387225250315_283935804_nIMG_9728

Istanbul Soho House

 

Istanbul Soho House, beautiful decor, amazing facilities and a fantastic location..

We stayed at Soho House Istanbul, for a long weekend in July.

This is one the groups largest houses, it operates as a hotel / spa and a private members club.

The costs.. We opted for a Tiny Room, which at the time was an unbeatable €80  per night.

Non-member rates for a Tiny Room range from €225 to €240

And if you’re going all out, The Playroom will cost you between €1000 to €1200 per night

What I LOVED…

  • Beautiful design
  • The Turkish breakfast was OUT OF THIS WORLD!
  • Convenient location, close to shops, restaurants, metro links
  • Guests staying at the hotel get full access to the club which is located right next door
  • The wonderful Cowshed goodies in the room
  • Hair dryer and straighteners can be found in the bathroom
  • Great TV selection, I know, I know these things shouldn’t matter, you’re on holiday, but we know they do!

Cowshed Spa

We booked various treatments at Cowshed felt and found the staff to be kind, professional and the treatments were just as I would expect from any of the other Cowshed Spas.

Book the Traditional Turkish Hamman Experience; leave feeling pampered and squeaky clean!

hamam.jpg

Where to Eat

Cecconis- All my friends laugh at  me, as I’m OBSESSED with Cecconis, whichever city I’m in, I hunt it down: Miami, LA, Berlin, London and now Istanbul.

Everything about this restaurant is delicious, the food, the scenery, the Peach Capirinhas’s…

My love for Italian food has no end, even in what I can only imagine is the epicentre of Turkish Food I managed to eat at Cecconi’s twice throughout my stay!

This beautiful courtyard restaurant attracts the uber glam crowd of Istanbul, I recommend making a reservation in advance and dressing to impress.

Where to Visit

There is so much to see in this bustling city, and I’m probably guilty of spending too many hours on the roof working on my tan, and not as much time as I could of exploring!

But here are a few of the places I did get round to seeing.

  • Sultanahmet (The Blue Mosque)
  • Hagia Sophia
  • Süleymaniye (the Magnificent)
  • The Grand Bazar

Please note, during times of prayer you won’t be allowed to go inside the Mosques, but you can still walk around the outside and take in the magnificent Ottoman architecture which the city is famous for.

 

11326547_931442763542647_1272420955_n11410732_567942606678608_1759185104_n924668_1516387225250315_283935804_nIMG_9728

Christmas & NYE: Cape Town

Cape Town is the perfect holiday destination. Sunshine, cosmopolitan cafés, trendy neighbourhoods and culture, what’s not to love?

We set off from London on Christmas Eve and landed on Christmas Day.  December is a brilliant time to visit Cape Town, the city is buzzing and the weather is perfect.

We spent 9 night in Cape Town and 4 nights in Stellenbosch, but there are lots of ways to split your trip if you want to see more of the Western Cape.  You can drive the popular Garden Route or depending on what time of year you visit, you can go to Hermanus and go whale watching.

IMG_5320

My Top Ten Things to do in Cape Town

  1. Robben Island: buy your tickets in advance as they sell out quickly, this trip takes about half a day, so give yourself plenty of time
  2. Slave Lodge: I feel its so important for everyone to visit this museum so they can understand the painful and unique history of South Africa.
  3. Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens: we spent New Years day in the park, and enjoyed a lovely lunch at the tear rooms. There is also a  traditional african restaurant and an option to have a picnic made.
  4. Clifton 4th / Camps Bay: Both fantastic beaches, but if you’re looking for a quieter beach day pick Clifton.
  5. Lion’s Head: DO THIS HIKE! It’s challenging, but so rewarding.  It’s a 3 hour hike up and down, and it’s not for the faint hearted. I’m terrified of heights, and I didn’t realise how scary it would be! I wouldn’t recommend doing this hike without a guide as the trail isn’t clear. We used a great guide called Nathan, and it was around £50 per person bookings@hikelionshead.co.za
  6. Table Mountain: We decided not to hike this as it was around 3 hours up and 3 hours down, and seemed a tad ambitious for us! Instead we got the cable car, again book this in advance so as to avoid waiting around for hours, we pre-booked online and had breakfast at the restaurant at the top. Go on the fist car of the day if you can as it will be nice and quiet, and you can enjoy the scenery in peace.
  7. Zeitz MOCAA  a beautiful collection of african art.
  8. Boulders Beach is around an hour drive from the city, you get to see the African Penguins, and enjoy Simons Town. A small coastal town full of lots of little coffee shops and restaurants. Make sure you go for lunch at Harbour House.
  9. Stellenbosch, this is a nearby wine region, it’s around an hour drive from the centre. We stayed for 4 nights at Spier, but if you don’t have time to stay overnight, go for the day.
  10. Bo Kaap this is the former Cape Malay district, it’s full of beautiful colourful houses and great places to eat.

For more ideas of what to do in Cape Town check out www.capetown.travel 

IMG_4697

The Costs..

Flights: We travelled from London Gatwick with Turkish Airlines, with a short stop off in Istanbul. This is a great way of cutting down the flight cost as direct flights can be very expensive. We paid £680 per person for economy flights

Airbnb: During peak time hotels can be pricey, so we opted for Airbnb. We booked a great apartment on Beach Road, an ideal location as it was close to all the popular beaches and the V&A Waterfront.

We were a group of 4 adults staying in a 2 bedroom apartment on Beach Road, Mouille Point and paid a total £2,114.78 for 9 nights.

Transfers / Taxis: Uber is an excellent way to travel around the city as they’re really cheap and safe. Go on the Uber website to get an idea of fare estimates.

If you’re looking for a car service for the day I recommend Siskone Tours. They were extremely friendly and efficient, their rates are higher than uber, but the cars are large people carriers, so ideal for groups. The drivers are extremely knowledgeable of the the city and can even give you a tour. Email the team for rates and advice tourism@sisonketours.co.za

We found eating out to be extremely cheap which was amazing, as the exchange rate from pound to rand was preferable, but it all depends on where you’re visiting from.

IMG_4135
Clifton 4th
IMG_4994
Kloof Street
IMG_4796
Kirstenbosch national botanical garden
IMG_4483
Boulders Beach

IMG_4988

IMG_5009
Zeitz MOCAA
IMG_5352
Clifton 4th
IMG_4686
Camps Bay

IMG_5470