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Afternoon tea in London: Harvey Nichols 5th Floor

Harvey Nichols 5th Floor Restaurant 109-125 Knightsbridge, Belgravia, London SW1X 7RJ     The menu for afternoon tea at Harvey Nicks features a woman’s perfectly manicured hand: “Pinkies up” it entreats. Tea here though is less a prim and proper affair and more about being in the midst of the fun and buzzy environment of a temple of fashion and commerce. Sitting amid the unadorned wooden...

Best bars in London: Swans Bar, Maison Assouline

I love, perhaps a little too much, discovering great places to drink. My latest discovery came to light via my friend Mark. After months of trying, we finally got together for a sneaky afternoon drink — girding ourselves for our separate, taxing evenings to come. He suggested Swans Bar, right smack on Piccadilly. I’d never heard of it and was intrigued — I walk down this street several times a...

Review: Jumping in the trees with Windermere Treetop Nets

Kids can sometime drive us up a tree. I discovered on a recent trip to Cumbria that Treetop Nets at Lake Windermere is a great chance to return the favour. This activity centre features actual nets strung up in the trees with walkways, tunnels and slides to play in. When fellow family traveller Kirstie from Family Adventure Project heard I was making the trek up to the area from London with two girls, Treetop Nets...

Lake District: The Swan Hotel & Lake Windermere

  I drove through sleet and rain, roaring traffic and endless dark roads to make it to the Swan Hotel one weekend with two tween girls in tow. “That’s a long way,” London friends said when I told them about this weekend trip, and it was a good amount of driving. I would make out like I’m some kind of martyr (I can be like that), but oh what a payoff! Gorgeous Lake District vistas, a superbly crisp day on the...

The London Eye at Christmas

  The London Eye is always on my list of places to take people when they visit the city. Every time I go up in one of the capsules, I can’t help but marvel at the view, proudly showing off my adopted city and the sights up and down the Thames. That’s why I was delighted when I got some complimentary tickets to take 2 of my out-of-town friends up for a turn at this iconic London attraction. (See...

Hampshire: The Peat Spade Inn, Stockbridge

  Sometimes you just get lucky. A friend of a friend or a colleague or someone you know from somewhere recommends a place to stay and it looks good online so you book it. We’ve all been on the other end of this. Where you book someplace whose website looks marvelous and it ends up you saw the only flattering picture, or it’s next to a tip or is underwhelming or a bit smelly or just meh. But this past...

The luxury hotels that love bees

Honey makes the world go round. It’s not the usual way that phrase goes, but it was certainly the motto at The Joy of Bees, an immersive art installation that took place this month in Soho with the brilliant guys at Bompas & Parr along with Relais & Chateaux. At the event, you could drift from one room filled with a honeybee garden to another with a beekeeper from Bermondsey Street Bees talking about the...

Cotswolds: Staying at Cowley Manor with teens

Take my advice when you visit Cowley Manor. Even if the Isamu Noguchi table in the sitting room is a little ill-placed, don’t try to move it yourself. Even when you know the freeform glass top merely rests on the swiveling wooden legs and even when you think you’re being careful and it just needs a nudge, you won’t be able to predict how the table will move and inevitably the water tumbler, the potted succulent and...

Bath: A video room review of Bath Mill Lodge Retreat

Recently we did that rare thing for parents, we spent a weekend away just the two us. We went to Bath and stayed in the lovely Bath Mill Lodge Retreat, self-catering accommodation situated in a lovely little landscaped campus, just minutes by car from the city centre. We had breakfast and shopped at a fantastic farm shop nearby, hopped into city centre for sightseeing and dinner, then relaxed on our sofa with a cup...

Review: Trentham Monkey Forest, Staffordshire

They scamper, they play, they consume a massive amount of fruit. In the event your own little monkeys would enjoy meeting their animal kingdom counterparts, swing over to Trentham Monkey Forest, just outside Stoke-on-Trent. It’s a must-visit activity in Staffordshire.       We visited Trentham Monkey Forest with two tween girls, who loved every minute of it, especially spotting the babies and...

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