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One of the most charming pubs in London, made extra special by its historical interior and vantage point over a particularly lovely stretch of the River Thames. For a literary prelude to any visit here, get hold of a copy of 'One for the Road' the memoirs of George Izzard, the pub’s landlord from 1931 to 1965. He recalls visits by celebrities from Ernest Hemingway to Alec Guinness and poet Dylan Thomas.
Originally built in 1880 as the winter residence for Russian nobility, the Von Ritters family and turned into a hotel five years later. It remains an institution with many of the guests who return year after year to soak up the magical views across Lake Lugano. Many of the guest rooms were last overhauled in the 1980s. The hotel often hosts interesting art exhibitions and its restaurant has a commanding reputation. The hotel in the area in the five-star superior category.
A little bit of apple pie Americana on the Maine coast - its setting Kennebunkport, the summer bolt hole of former president George Bush (but don't let that put you off!) Each of the 16 snug cottages is uniquely decorated - a little bit twee but nevertheless very comfortable. Have a mooch around the local town - though make sure you pack your blue blazer with a Republican Party buttonhole - or spend the day sailing. Lovely for a night or two.
There's an interesting story behind this divine hotel spread across a particularly scenic stretch of the Mendocino coastline. Back in the mid-2000s it was the leitmotif for the worst excesses in the financial system: the hotel was lent $30m by a German bank and when its incomes failed to cover the repayments, the place was foreclosed. Reopened in 2013 after laying empty for five years and now under new owners who have gone to some lengths to keep their identity secret, the place has been refurbished and upgraded and much of its original charm remains. A stay here isn't cheap, but then it's a great destination for a special occasion and the ocean views will stay with you forever.
A charming village harbourside setting around a 15-minute drive from the centre of Dubrovnik for an accomplished fish menu and relaxed alfresco eating. Stunning views and excellent value.
Who would've thought that a small patch of urban green nesting between a sleepy Shepherds Bush residential street, the BBC's former Television Centre and one of west London's largest local authority housing estates would be such an oasis. Yet there's an interesting historical footnote to this place: in 1910 the Japan-British Exhibition was held in nearby White City. Though this was dismantled immediately afterwards, the local authority embarked on restoring parts of it in 2010. It's a tranquil spot in the most unexpected of locations and just one of three traditional-style formal Japanese gardens in London (the other two in Holland Park and Kew Gardens).
So here's the thing about what makes a world class restaurant for me. Sure, the food has got to be good - this place confidently ticks that box but without the pretension which so usually accompanies it. Next, the people running it and working there have got to be passionate about what they do - tick. And finally, if you have a space which has character, that's terrific too. This place is worth 100 'good' restaurants in London or New York, everything just works. The service is as superb as the food. About an hour's drive from Barcelona.
Officially the world's third largest urban park (behind the Bosque de la Primavera in Mexico and the Serra da Cantareira in Brazil's São Paulo). However, it's not a single, continuous area running between Signal Hill in the north, to Cape Point in the south. Much of this is punctuated by roads and homes - not to mention mountains. While Table Mountain itself is a huge draw for tourists, my favourite section is at its southernmost tip, also known as the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve. Just be careful of those baboons - no joking, they can be seriously vicious.
Sorry, but despite all of the excitement I just can't give it five stars. The food is great and continuing the inventiveness of executive chef Nuno Mendes (ex the now-closed Michelin-starred Viajante in east London). But whatever the dishes, I just couldn't quite get to grips with the people (and I don't mean the wonderful table service either). Fashionistas are like an awful contagion which thankfully is easily treated by something more fashionable opening elsewhere and then those awful people move on. André Balazs has certainly achieved max PR buzz by getting the beautiful people to descend on the place ahead of his hotel at the same site, and of the same name, opening. Thankfully most parasites are treatable and I wish this place bon chance as the food and service are terrific.
This place hasn't even fully opened yet and it's white hot. André Balazs (Chateau Marmont, The Mercer in NY, Standard Hotels) plants his flag in London town with this 26-suite hotel occupying a Grade II listed 19th Century building in Marylebone. If you like your chic a bit less starchy than Claridges or The Dorchester, and with fewer net curtains than the Sanderson, then you'll be making a beeline here. Keep your eyes peeled for a fuller review, post opening. For now, this is the hottest dinner table in town with chef Nuno Mendes having defected from his (now closed) Michelin-starred restaurant. Let's see if it lives up the hype.
Often mentioned in the same breath as established luminaries of the capital's restaurant scene such as Biko, Pujol and Maxximo Bistro. Personally I don't yet think Jaso is quite as elevated as to be pretender to the crown of any of those three, nevertheless its Mexican fusion menu with a strong Asian accent can be impressive. My preference is for the terrace over the main dining room, which I tend to find attracts a crowd more intent on rubber necking than focusing on the food.
The northern HQ of the British Broadcasting Corporation and now home to its production departments for children's, sport, new media and R&D. The broadcaster's flagship breakfast news show also gets made here.
With just five suites occupying a 19th Century mansion which formerly belonged to the Hermès family, this Montmartre hideaway is the last word in chic. Despite the setting the decor of the suites is contemporary, with each suite tantalisingly different in style. My favourite is the Vitrine, which despite being a little on the small side could easily be imagined as the setting for French heads of state having a secret tryst with a mistress. The gorgeous garden is also a popular spot with Parisian media and fashion cognoscenti - a terrific setting for an early evening glass of wine when the weather is pleasant.
Pass me the sick bag. Awful saccharine place.
OK, so I know it's fun for kids but I utterly loathed this place, not least for the cynical admission prices. I took my nephew off for a day out here and it was just queues everywhere - "oh you didn't buy the extra queue fast track pass" came the response from one disinterested worker there. Yet another ploy to extract yet more money out of visitors. The only amusing moment was when I asked for a seniors ticket for my mother (who is fiercely proud of looking youthful) only for the ticket kiosk agent to shout over the tannoy: "How old are you?" If I never have to visit here again in my lifetime, that will be too soon.