6/16/08

London for Honeymoon couples!

Subject: LONDON'S CALLING – Shopping and TravelWhen it comes to excitement, choice of entertainment and a vibrant multi cultural environment, very few places can top the vast, intriguing city of London. If you don’t want to lie on a beach for your honeymoon, and would rather an active, action packed trip, then London could be the spot for you. On a recent trip shooting a fashion story for Confetti, I checked out what’s on offer for honeymooning couples this time of year. First bonus for picking London as your destination is the short plane ride. London is less than an hour from Dublin with a great selection of airports to choose from.I found staying in a central part of the city was essential. Considering the astronomical taxi prices in London, I chose to spend my extra cash on a good hotel room in the heart of the city. I splashed out and stayed in the Langham Hotel www.langhamhotels.com situated in Portland row, just off Regent st. I lounged around my room late into the morning, safe in the knowledge that I was just a quick stroll away from the shopping heartland.If you really want to make it a special honeymoon, you can book their luxury Infinity suite – one of the priciest penthouse suits in London. The infinity suite is a beautiful, lavish collection of rooms with the ultimate in luxury - an infinity bath with controlled mood lighting. I moved from the Langham Hotel to The Portobello Hotel for the second part of my stay. This really is a ‘unique boutique’ hotel experience. Each room has a different theme from Moroccan to oriental, so enjoy a hedonistic escape by moving from room to room each night! Check out the exquisite round bed room if you get the chance. This hotel wont break the bank and will definitely spice up any honeymoon!!www.portobellohotel.com for a full list of rooms and price list. Another highly recommended hotel is The Gore Hotel. www.gorehotel.co.uk . Situated in Queen’s Gate in fashionable Kensington its my own personal favourite Hotel in London. It’s tiny as hotels go, but the vintage décor and ornate styled rooms are so authentic it takes you back to days gone by, without suffering any of the hardships. The owner has a passionate interest in collecting art and antiques and the atmosphere is a cross between a slightly decadent, gentleman’s club and a Parisian brassiere. Too chic and kitsch for words.Who says you cant shop on your honeymoon? Head for Carnaby street off Regent st. (Behind Liberties) Despite the unhealthy amount of surfing shops, there are some little gems within this area. Check out Kingly Court – an outdoor shopping courtyard just off Carnaby Street where young upcoming designers show their collections.

Check out www.visitbritain.ie Their London shopping guide written in association with Lonely Planet helped me navigate my way through the maze of London streets and find some nuggets of style in an otherwise crowded commercial city.Covent Garden / West End is still my favourite area to hang out.
One of my favourite shoe shops is on Marmouth st (just off the seven dial) - Post Mistress - the best in stylish shoes! The wonderful Coco de le Mer is also along this street.There are some really cool one offs around this area like All Saints and the Adidas Store next door so my advise is to wander around each area and expect the unexpected! Around every corner there will be a cute little boutique or at worst, another H&M!!
An area I wasn’t familiar with, but was recommended to me for shopping is Draycott Ave which runs parallel to Sloane Ave ( Paul Smith, Kenzo & Bliss Spa in addition to the usual designer suspects) Draycott Ave itself hosts Jimmy Choo, Jean Paul Gaultier & Betsy Johnson among others. Of course, by Slone sq you’ll find Manolo Blahnik 49-51 Old Church St and Philip Treacy 69 Elizabeth St for the best in designer accessories.If you’re lucky enough to incorporate a weekend into your stay, then you’re spoilt for choice for markets. Camden, Brick Lane, Greenwich, Petticoat Lane and Portobello. All worth a stroll on a Saturday or Sunday. London’s night life is varied. There are so many great places to suit romantic cocktailed evenings. My first recommendation is Rockwell @ The Trafalgar Hotel, Trafalgar Square. For remarkable cocktails and swish surroundings , it’s a cool kind of place playing a mix of baleric beats to lounge to house music. Tsars @ The Langham hotel (formerly Langam Hilton) Regent St. is heaven on earth for vodka drinkers everywhere. Lush, five star surroundings with intimate, private candle lit plush seating. I could have stayed here all night sipping on the largest vodka menu I’ve ever witnessed!Absolute Ice Bar 31-33 Heddon St London w1b 4bn is another uber cool spot. The walls, bar, tables, and even your own personal glass with a vodka cocktail is made out of the purest ice. It’s operated in 40 minute time slots Entrance fee 12 GBP (15 GBP Thu,Fri,Sat evenings), but you get your Designer thermal cape to keep you warm on entry ,Personal ice glass- Choice of Vodka cocktail in your ice glassBooking is highly recommended due to current demand. You can book a 40 min visit to ABSOLUT ICEBAR LONDON on it's own or you can combine it with a booking for lunch, dinner or just drinks in Below Zero the adjacent warm lounge/restaurant - Below Zero. Well worth a visit.My top spot at the moment has to be Lounge Lovers in Liverpool st. Owned by the same people who brought us Les Trois Garcons restaurant in the same area. It’s funky, flash and a somewhere to spend an great evening lounging and style spotting.
Of course there is always 1940’s inspired Pigalle – Vince Powers beautifully styled supper Club in Picadilly. There is entertainment there every night with a special kind of cabaret show on Saturdays. It’s quite a unique place to have dinner as it’s the west end without any of the tackiness. The Gilt Champagne Lounge, which opened its doors at the Jumeirah Carlton Tower Hotel is another great spot to enjoy a bit of decadence. Set in the heart of Knightsbridge it’s a champagne bar with style and a cool relaxed atmosphere. +44 (0) 1483 222 676.A friend of mine lives on the waterfront, near Butlers Warf, Tower Bridge so I took a stroll along the promenade and was encouraged to see these old areas of London being developed to such high standards. The famous Le Pont De La Tour restaurant is here, (36d Shad Thames Butlers Wharf London SE1 2YE ph 020 74038403) where Clinton and Blair had lunch. All a little rich for my blood, I went back towards town and enjoyed lunch at 202 Café - at Nicole Farhi 202 Westbourne Grove. This place has all the essential elements: brilliant for celeb spotting, positively dripping in London cool and no bookings: serve Fish & Chips & Tuna Burgers. Another great spot is the small but chic Tartine. South Kensington 0207 589 4981 - They serve everything from prawns, steak, roasted veg, pate . . .whatever is simple to serve on a thin toasted slice of Poilane Bread (a tartine) with great individual house salads, (Around £10 for both)Tartine is the kind of place where you would see Liz Hurley having a 'Tartine' with no bread! Ah the magic of London! I really felt there was something new and fresh about London after my latest visit. When I spoke to friends who have been living in the city for years about this new sensation they agreed that there is an unprecedented vibrancy in the city at the moment. London is a great place to visit and maybe even a great place to live. There was definitely something in the air In London & I came home looking forward to my next visit, maybe my own honeymoon!

Essential numbers:
Visit Britain18 19 College GreenDublin 2Tel 00 353 1 646 1817Mobile 00 353 87 9077656www.visitbritain.ie Entertainment listings:Time Out London www.timeout.com/london
Restaurant Booking ServiceTop Table - jump the queue and special offers 020 7821 8454www.toptable.co.uk Places to stay five starLangham Hotel LondonPortland PlaceRegent StLondon W1B 1JAT ++44 (0)207 636 1000www.langhamhotels.com
The Portobello Hotel22 Stanley GardensLondonW11 2NGTel ++ 44 (0)20 7727 2777www.portobello-hotel.co.uk
The Gore Hotel - 190 Queen's Gate, Lon don SW7 5EX, Tel ++ 44 (0) 20 7584 6601, www.gorehotel.co.uk

Ten of the best shops in London
Agent Provocateur16 Pont STREET sw1020 7235 02296 Broadwick St W10207439 0229(lingerie) Alexander Mc Queen4-5 Old Bond St W1020 7355 0088(Designer)Concrete35 Marshall st W1020 7434 4333(designer: Preen, Robert Cary-Williams)Gina189 Slone Square SW1020 7235 29329 Old Bond street W1020 7409 7090(shoes)Labour of love192 Upper streetIslington N1020 7354 1316(independent designers collective)Preen5 Portobello Green281 Portobello Rd W10020 8968 1542(designer)Patrick Cox129 Slone Street SW1020 7730 8886(shoes)Question Air229 Westbourne Grove W11020 7221 816385 Dulwich Village SE21020 8299 425286 Church Road Barnes Sw13020 87481772(designer: Joseph,Vivian Westwood,ghost,Paul Smith etc) Tatty Devine236 Brick Lane E2020 7739 900957b Brewer St W1020 7434 2257(Art gallery ,Independent designer) Vivian Westwood6 Davies St W144 Conduit St W1430 Kings Road SW10020 7352 6551(designer) Club: SO UKTeatro Club & restaurant93 - 107 Shaftsbury Ave, London W1D SDY Tel ++44 (0) 2074943040www.teatrosoho.co.uk Lonsdale48 Lonsdale rd W11020 7228 1517Glamorous hip cocktail barOpen til midnight mon-satSketch9 Conduit stW10870 777 44882x bars, 2x restaurants, club. wall to wall glamour.Swarovski crystal bathrooms!

Argentina Travel Story08

Buenos Aires – Honeymoon Heaven for city lovers

There are so many features of Buenos Aires worthy of a mention. The passionate tango, delicious mouth watering steaks, world class wines, high quality accommodation, sun drenched weather and of course, who could fail to mention the remarkable exchange rate of five pesos to one euro. It’s a busy, bustling noisy city, (rated fourth nosiest in the world!) and six hours drive from a decent beach, but there are many safe havens, glorious distractions and jaw dropping sights that make it a magnificent honeymoon destination for any fun loving couple.

The city is divided into twelve main districts – some more tourist friendly than others! The most interesting barrios are San Telmo, Palermo Soho, Palermo Hollywood, Palermo Veijo and Recoletta and getting around is surprisingly easy and refreshingly cheap! Taxis are about a tenth of what we pay in Dublin so hail to your hearts delight and know that once you’ve your destination written clearly on a piece of paper, even the most inept Spanish speaker will feel free to travel the length and breadth of the city without a worry, or without breaking the bank.


Shopping – Even on honeymoon!
Serious shopping happens around Ave Santa Fe, one of the longest avenues you will ever walk! It’s dotted with fashion boutiques and Malls where the guys favour better than the girls both in selection and quality.
If you’re looking for a more relaxed style of shopping teamed with a late night ramble, hit fashion conscious Palermo. (Soho, Hollywood and Viejo) Prices are more ‘European’ here, but the quality is better and the shops are in such close proximity it’s easy to navigate, safe and chic. (Shops open til 10pm)

For window shopping and weekend markets San Telmo is the most vibrant and diverse and it’s main vein La Defensa, is reminiscent of Las Ramblas in Barcelona. It’s chock-full of antiques (though that term is used loosely!) vintage clothing and art galleries and buskers of all persuasions pose and perform along the cobbled streets. It’s vibrancy is a testament to the artistic, creative and resourceful core of the Argentinean people. If only Temple bar was as effervescent!
Stroll along the cobbled streets, buy fresh orange juice from street vendors and window shop. Marvel at all the spectacular oversized antiques (and wonder where they all came from!) and have some fun imagining a few of the most ostentatious chandeliers hanging in your hallway!
Vintage store El Buen Orden (Defensa 894) is worth a look if silk Victorian top hats, vast rails of 1950’s handbags interest you. Another impressive shop is Galleria (888 Defensa) mainly due to the wild and wonderful owner of the vintage clothing concession inside called Charlie Brown’s. Pay him a visit but be prepared, he just might keep you chatting for an age about Argentinean art, theatre and politics! Sometimes these kind of spontaneous chats are the most informative, giving you your own inside track to what’s at the heart of a city like Buenos Aires. So if you’ve time, indulge him and others who will often just start up a conversation with you simply because they notice you’re a tourist. It’s generally harmless and often very genuine. Taking all that on board, opportunist crime is everywhere and being mindful your belongings is essential in this city. I’d compare the level of attention required on a par with Barcelona. I was cautious, but not overly so and I’m happy to say I had a hassle free trip.

For helpful maps, details on all stores, bars and restaurants see www.welcomesantelmo.com

Where to stay: There’s an astounding array of accommodation in Buenos Aires and some wonderful honeymoon extras on offer. Palermo would be my preferred area but San Telmo, Recoletta and Las Cantitas all offer diverse accommodation along with a great selection of deluxe apartments to rent. (highly recommended for longer stays)
If you are determined to spend a night in the heart of the city known as ‘Downtown’ then consider Rooney’s Boutique Hotel Sarmiento 1775 3º Piso (CP1041) It’s one of the nicest around, with faux renaissance style rooms, free standing baths and antique chandeliers. Prices start from an unbelievable 100 USD plus vat. Top it off with the fact that it’s been opened by a lovely fella called Kieran Rooney from Belfast and his Argentinean wife Gabriella, it just felt right to stay there and support them in their brave endeavour. If you like listening to stories of young couples selling up, moving to a foreign land and investing everything into a new business (in their case a run down period building) then stay here and learn how to do it first hand. They’ll also set you up with some great tango lessons! www.rooneysboutiquehotel.com
Rooney's Boutique hotel , Sarmiento 1775 3º Piso (CP1041) ,Ciudad de Buenos Aires, Argentina.Te. / Fax (54-11) 5252-5060

Although not the grandest, or the most expensive hotel I stayed in, HOME Hotel, (Honduras 5860 Palermo Hollywood) was by far the most comfortable, enticing and exciting. With a list of investors as cool as the hotel itself (Nick Seymour from Crowded House and U2’s producer Flood for starters) HOME was destined for uber chic success from the get go. It’s a credit to owners Patricia O Shea (pr chick extraordinaire) and her DJ husband Tom Rixton who set up HOME in 2005. They’ve managed to make everything feel personalised and well thought out. I loved their unique breakfasts and my favourite touch was the ‘HOME sweet HOME’ message on the sugar sachets. The furniture is cool, designer vintage, but still comfortable and I had the best cocktails of my entire trip sitting at their little bar, over looking the ‘country garden’ & pool area. I have to add that HOME was the first hotel to give me that ‘giddy’ feeling, the one that makes you want to open the presses, check behind every door and bounce on the bed!
The pool side suite is one of the best I’ve seen and that includes comparisons from some five star hotels in Buenos Aires. You can enjoy the seclusion of your own private pool or join up with the rest of the guests in the main pool area. Their in house spa offers deluxe honeymoon specials like dual massage with champagne and a sandalwood and jasmine rose petal bath all in the comfort of your own room!
I tried to imagine who wouldn’t enjoy HOME and I could only think of couples who have their heart set on colonial style grandness with high ceilings and sweeping hallways. You don’t have that in HOME but what it lacks in space it makes up for in clever design. It’s cool – but don’t think it’s too cool for you! Read some reviews on line and take my advice, believe the hype!
Hotel HOME Buenos Aires, Honduras 5860 - Palermo Hollywood
(5411) 4778-1008 www.HOMEbuenosaires.com, info@HOMEbuenosaires.com
Pool side suite 335 USD with vat

For the ultimate in grandness try The Alvear Palace www.alvearpalace.com It’s all you d expect from a top 5 star hotel and is situated on the very swanky Alvear Ave. Recoletta. It’s so plush you’d think you’d have to re-mortgage the house to stay there but be prepared to be pleasantly surprised.

Tourist Must Do’s!
Let’s face it- Buenos Aires is a romantic city, not least because tango is a national, passionate pastime. Therefore, you may want to catch a live tango show and La Boca Tango, (Brandsen 923 La Boca ) just might be the most impressive on offer, not least because of its unique setting in a preserved La Boca street called a Conventillo (rows of authentic vintage houses, filled with ancient household items). It also houses an impressive velvet clad theatre, offering full dinner and a show for 80 USD. Collection and return to your hotel is also included, which is a blessing as La Boca neighbourhood is not the safest place to go for a stroll! Even if you don’t want to do dinner and a show, you can still visit the village during the day. BOCA TANGO Brandsen 923 www.bocatango.com

Or for something completely different, why not try the radical Café: Te Matate Ramierz. I didn’t attend this unique cabaret show myself, but I’ve checked out their impressive website and heard glowing reviews : ”The ambiance has an erotic theme but its not a sex show. It is somewhat romantic but not overwhelmingly so, more provocative than sexual. The food is great”
Café: Te Matate Ramierz, Aphrodisiac Restaurant with show – Jazz and Bossa
Gottiti 5054 Palermo www.tematareramirex.com


Recoleta Cemetery(At Plaza Francesa, Recoleta) is another great afternoon stroll. Buy a map from the pushy sellers outside because you’ll need it to navigate your way around what’s probably the most densely populated area of Buenos Aires (and probably the most expensive real estate!) Find the famous Irish hero s like Father Fahy (originally from Galway County) and the Duggan Family and of course visit Eva Peron’s tomb which is situated along side the rest of the deceased Argentinean who’s who!
Free entrance (map 4 pesos) www.recoletacemetery.com

Food Glorious Food.. a carnivore’s paradise…
I mentioned steaks in the first sentence and no matter what guide book you have, it’s sure to recommend La Cabrera (Cabrera y Thames Palermo Soho Ph 47774601) Expect huge portions of spectacularly cut steaks with more sauces and trimmings that you could possibly polish off for about 30 pesos. A good wine list great service and lots of outdoor seating make it a winner all round but be warned - it’s always busy so booking is essential.

If you miss a table in La Cabrera then all is not lost. I stumbled upon Lo de Jesus (Gurruchagaa 1406 Plaermo Viejo) only a few feet and it had great steaks, good wine and the best Morcilla imaginable.(Morcilla is a local delicacy of black puddings which is surprisingly delicious!) www.lodejesus.com.ar

On a final note, I would urge you not to believe everything you read in Time out or Lonely Planet as I was disappointed more than once after following their glowing restaurant reviews. Use them as a guide but not gospel! Admittedly, consistency is hard to monitor but keep in mind that the food is generally excellent so it’s unlikely that you re going to get it wrong more than once!
_________________________________________________

FOOD
Here are a few more worthy mentions: Nica(Humboldt 2006 Palermo Hollywood ph 47720664) is recommended by HOME hotel, also Maat(Sucre 2168 Belgrano ph 48961818) for more up market deluxe dining. Sushi is big in BA so for one of many good quality places try Little Rose (Armenia 1672, bell 1 Palermo Soho ph 48339496)

SPA TREATMENTS:
There are many spas offering pedicures, botox, facials and massage. Expect to pay about 100 pesos for a one hour massage in the Evian Club and more if you are in your hotel. (HOME starts at 200 pesos)
Evian Aqua Club and spa
Cervino 3626
Palermo
Massage – 110 pesos
www.aguaclubspa.com

HAIR DRESSERS
There are many high street places that will charge you extra for just being a tourist. This is a safe haven and fabulous funky décor to boot:
Juan & Fin Pelos de Autor, Honduras 5174, Palermo ph48313015


GET CULTURED:
Museum Museo National de Bellas MNBA, Ave Figueroa Alcorta www.mnba.org.ar

GET CONNECTED:
Almost everywhere has wi fi with good connections. Internet cafes are plentiful and cheap (less than 1 euro per hr). A local sim for your phone is about 20 pesos so it might be an idea to buy two so you can save a fortune on texting each other!

GET SHOPPING
A few worthy mentions are Felix (Gurruchaga 1670, Palermo Soho) and Bolivia (Gurruchaga 1581) for men and Divia (Armenia 1498 Palermo Soho) for woman’s shoes.

IRISH ROOTS:
Don’t be surprised when you meet people called Lynch, Ganly and Kenny speaking English with Irish accents. I met a few in the Irish Embassy on St Patrick’s Day and discovered their accents came from learning English from their parents who were both Irish. It’s very cool to be Irish in Buenos Aires!

GET SPORTY:
You can do yoga classes in English or Spanish!
Valle Tierra Yoga Centre
Costa Rica 4562 info@vallerierra.com www.vallerierra.com


RENT AN APARTMENT:
www.stayingbuenosaires.com

GET AWAY
If you are going to take a short internal flight while you are there fly south, it’s the better part of Argentina. www.aerolineas.com.ar
Alternatively, just go 100 km outside Buenos Aires to any number of ranches that offer wonderful restful escapes from the city life.
See La Candelaria Polo Club for a great example of what ‘s on offer for a mini holiday within a holiday!
La Candelaria Polo Club02227-424404 / 494132Cel.: 02227-15503654eventos@estanciacandelaria.comwww.estanciacandelaria.com