City Guides


Tucked underneath luxury hotel, Middle Eight is QT, an elegant hideaway that every Friday and Saturday night presents The Leo Green Experience, a musical twist on live jazz, led by the man himself, Leo Green.  Leo doesn’t need an introduction, he’s played saxophone for music legends, Van Morrison and Paul McCartney. He regularly presents on Radio 2 and was described as “The greatest sax player I have ever worked with,” by rock and roll icon, Jerry Lee Lewis.  Along with his super talented band, Leo brings to life some classic old school songs mixed in with the latest releases in a two-hour show that will have you up on your feet at least one cocktail in.

QT is a great venue, intimate enough for you to feel part of the show and enough space to indulge in a shimmy stage side. Cosy tables with low lighting and sumptuous velvet seating give speakeasy vibes with a modern twist.   While the band set up, you can settle into your seat and order from their extensive cocktail and drinks menu and if you’re peckish, indulge in a selection of light bites.   There’s table service and the staff here are slick and seamless, my drink is regularly topped up and my substantial charcuterie platter arrives ahead of the show starting.   There’s various drinks and food packages you can pre-order in advance so it’s worth checking out what is on offer.

As the Leo Green Experience took to the stage, I found myself mesmerised by their electrifying performance. Leo Green’s passion for music was palpable in every note he played, and the band members complemented his talent with their own exceptional skills. Together, they delivered a dynamic sax party that spanned genres and eras, expect big tunes you can sing along to and throwbacks that Leo and his ensemble bring bang up to date. 

What stands out was the band’s ability to engage with the crowd, you quickly feel like an old friend. Leo’s charismatic personality and genuine interaction made the evening fun and memorable. Whether he was sharing anecdotes between songs or inviting audience participation, it was evident that he was dedicated to ensuring that everyone had a great night.  You’re encouraged to request songs and challenge the band to belt out a curve ball, when I was there the group put a spin on a Snoop Dog tune that had guests up dancing.  As the performance comes to a close, no one is sat in their seats.  There’s a group of school mums on a night out and they’re soon up on the stage looking every inch glamorous backing singers, all the while Leo is blowing up a storm on the sax.  The band are clapped off stage and guests thin out to the bar upstairs in the hotel.

The Leo Green Experience at QT is a must-see for music enthusiasts and anyone looking to indulge in a night of fabulous entertainment. With its impeccable service, vibrant atmosphere, and unparalleled performances, this event promises a ridiculously fun evening that will leave you longing for an encore.

The Leo Green Experience at QT, Middle Eight Hotel, runs every Friday and Saturday, twice a night. Tickets available at

In this exhilarating tale penned by our very own Hannah Gregory, readers are whisked away on a whirlwind adventure through the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas, as she embarks on a girls’ road trip with her beloved friend. As a part of the furniture here at House of Coco, Hannah brings her trademark wit and charm to every word, inviting readers to join her on a journey filled with laughter, exploration, and, of course, delectable culinary delights...

I have a friend, a very special friend. Eighteen months ago she was taken away from me – I’m being a tad dramatic, no one died but her husband works for the American Air Force and the time had come for them to be stationed far away from these English lands. Amid the snotty sniffs and gulpy wails of our goodbye we agreed we would meet every year for an epic voyage. Both avid travelers and the majority of our friendship being made up of random road trips and adventures, it was settled – every year an escape, just us, a time to reconnect and explore whilst belly laughing and telling each other how much we had missed each other in the process and so the time came for the first of these expeditions to take place. 

We knew we wanted a road trip – America for ease. We knew we wanted epic vistas, a mix of bright lights and cityscapes with jaw dropping scenery and coastal roads. We wanted the quintessential experience – nothing but us, the open road and a banging playlist and most importantly we knew we wanted food and lots of it – a firm believer that nothing reinforces bonds than breaking bread I made it my mission to find the best eats, the most sustainable producers and the most exciting offerings knowing nothing brings people together better than good food.

And so it was settled, I would fly into Las Vegas and meet her there, we would spend a few days in Sin City soaking up everything it had to offer, the glitz, the glamour, the decadence. From here we would wind up the Pacific Coast Highway to SloCal – an area of Central California famed for its slow paced living, food and wine and incredible scenery. The perfect girls road trip that reconnects two friends as they connect with the west coast. 

Viva Las Vegas!

Flying into Las Vegas instantly makes you feel like you are the main character of a movie. Forehead pressed up against the glass of the plane window as the iconic strip comes into view, neon lights glowing in popping contrasts against the inky black sky, it’s hard not to daydream about what adventures are about to unfold. Perhaps it’s from watching too many films that site Vegas as their backdrop or maybe the hopeful notion that in a mere few hours maybe, just maybe, you could become infinitely richer. Whatever it is was manifesting itself in a physical reaction – a grin splashed across my face and butterflies doing back flips in my belly, I was ready to revel. 

Where to stay

The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas is  an adults playground and  the perfect hotel for first timers – a luxury and decadent offering in the heart of the strip, its location makes for the perfect base to explore everything there is on offer. Feeling like Charlie when he entered Willy Wonka’s factory for the first time, my eyes were on stalks, never mind the fact I hadn’t seen my friend for the best part of two years, I couldn’t stop looking at the lights, the people, the theater of it all. Entering the hotel under giant chandeliers, bouncing light to create a kaleidoscope of colour over the high gloss black floor, the ringing of slot machines buzzing around the space, cheers and whoops from crowds, cocktail shakers adding a rhythmic beat underneath it all, a place for those who are triggered by sensory overload this is not but for those looking to be fully immersed in everything synonymous with Vegas – this is it. 

As the lift whisked us upwards to our Terrace Studio room, the enormity of the hotel became apparent with signs to restaurants, bars, pools and fitness suites flashing past us. You could spend a week here and still struggle to see everything the hotel has to offer let alone what lies outside of it and the enormity didn’t stop there. Opening the door to our studio, the vastness continued – a king sized bed that allowed both of us to fully starfish without fear of punching (very important when spending the next two weeks sharing mattresses), a separate seating area that would have allowed for about fifty people, a bathroom that left me shrieking THAT quote from Pretty Woman and the cherry on top, a private terrace offering views of the strip for as far as the eye could see. As I lent on the balcony, the hot desert air whipping around my face, the colours of the flashing lights creating dancing shadows on the ground below, I thought ‘this is it, this is Vegas’. I could have stayed there soaking it in all night but I was plucked from my neon coloured thoughts by one of my favourite sentences, “shall we go and get a cocktail?” 

As we navigated our way through winding corridors, up and down escalators, around clusters of seating areas that I assume are provided to give explorers a needed rest as they traverse the miles of the hotel, we found ourselves in a bar that sat within the belly of the aforementioned chandelier. Strings of crystals draped around us and we sipped on our martinis, we couldn’t have felt more Vegas if we tried. The balcony bar overlooking the main atrium of the hotel is the perfect spot for people watching or to grab a drink before heading to the many options for dinner. However, in an uncharacteristically sensible turn we decided to call it after one – this was a marathon not a sprint after all – but not before setting out on a mission to find Secret Pizza; a hidden ‘grab and go’ pizza joint that I had noticed doing the rounds on social media. As we wound ourselves through the warren of the inner workings of The Cosmopolitan, the secret spot soon revealed itself through a plethora of excited diners giddily running back to their rooms laden with pizza boxes and a queue of people tumbling out a record lined corridor, try as they might to keep this place under the radar, it’s impossible when the slices they are serving are this good. And so, armed with a pie, merry from a martini, we skipped back to our room and fell into a deep slumber ready for the next day. 

Where to eat and drink


No trip to Vegas is complete without an amble through The Bellagio, the short walk from The Cosmopolitan takes you past the iconic fountains and into the famous conservatory, filled with ornate floral displays themed to the season, nestled at the back of which sits Sadelle’s. Another of those perfect people watching spots (this soon became my favourite activity in Vegas), starched white table cloths, napkins tied with a bow to represent a tuxedo and waiters dressed to the nines, my movie main character feeling continued. You would be amiss to order anything but the French Toast here – it is stuff of legend. Billowy clouds of thick cut, soft bread doused in syrup, adorned with fresh berries and topped with a mountain of whipped cream. It is what childhood dreams are made of. Sipping my mimosa whilst heaving forkfuls of the sweet breakfast into my mouth, I knew it was going to be a good day. 

Best Friend

Our first evening ‘proper’ it seemed only fitting to visit ‘Best Friend’, the brain child and absolute sensation of a place from Roy Choi. A mash up of bodega, bar and restaurant serving his best loved plates from his Kogi foodtruck, as with so many places in Vegas, this isn’t just a restaurant but an experience and an epic one at that. It now proudly sits at the top of my ‘if you go to Vegas you MUST visit here’ list. Entering the ‘bodega’, another sensory overload as eyes adjust to bright lights, walls lined with typical findings on bodega shelves interspersed with merch and artwork, music blares as diners enjoy a quick bite at the bar or wait for their table ‘out back’. It sounds too much but it works, the energy is infectious and even the most weary and jetlagged are instantly recharged. Plucked from the chaos, we were told our table ‘out back’ was ready. Walking through the red plastic butchers curtains and into the restaurant space that could have easily doubled up as a club, the vibe continued with a DJ perched above the tables, playing old school hip hop, watching his audience sway and bounce as plate after plate of glorious food was set down in front of them. The menu here is extensive and everything we tried was fantastic, the slippery shrimp being the hands down stand out dish. It was reassuring to see both tourists (spottable as they couldn’t stop staring in wonder, myself included, at the madness) and residents – yes, those do exist, I know one. A sure fire sign that this is a restaurant worth visiting. This is the kind of eatery that feels like ‘pre’s’, I detest myself for using that word but you know what I mean, you leave high and ready for a party. So we did just that.

Amalfi by Bobby Flay

I have to admit something. Pre this trip I had never heard of Bobby Flay. I have mentioned this to a couple of Americans over the last few months and the look of sheer horror has been intense. I’m glad I didn’t know who Bobby Flay was because had I known I was going to a restaurant of a ‘celeb chef’ I would have probably balked. Big shiny Food Network status aside, this restaurant was OUTSTANDING. Inspired by Bobby’s many trips to the Amalfi coast, you can expect an extensive seafood offering and big Mediterranean flavours. The jewel of the restaurant being the market led fish display, gargantuan turbots and bright red mullets sitting on a bed of crushed ice, lovingly spiritzed every five minutes by a chef (who I am 99% convinced job’s title is chief spritzer). Diners are invited to talk to the fishmonger about the catch of the day, how it’s prepared etc. I was in heaven, potentially asking one too many questions about the catching methods and sustainability of each floppy flounder but nothing was too much trouble for both the wait and kitchen staff alike. They were eager to take us through the menu, making suggestions here and there, recommending wine pairings and giving a subtle nod when we mulled over the thought of having an additional side. Having spent the two months previous to this trip on a Greek island I was a tad fished out so opted for the steak which was perhaps the best steak I have ever had.  My pesci friend devoured the perfectly cooked bass and together we shared plate after plate of pasta, caprese’s and stuffed courgette flowers. Everything about this place was sensational and a complete contrast to the previous night’s Best Friend. Where Roy had encouraged us to dance on the tables (not quite but it probably wouldn’t have been frowned upon), Bobby allowed us to relax in elegance, low level music and the gentle hum of the restaurant allowing for long conversations over plates of pasta and proteins, exactly what was needed for this girls trip. We had danced and now we dined. 

The Barbershop Cocktails and Cuts

When a bar has a queue of about 100 people outside it I instantly have two thoughts. One, that must be a great bar. Two, there is no way in hell I am queuing for a bar. Lucky for me we had a booth reserved and I could be one of those insufferable people that sauntered past the crowd and I can confirm, the queue is absolutely worth it.

Nestled in The Cosmopolitan, a barbershop by day – yes, you can actually get a shave, this speakeasy style affair is everything you want from a bar. Through the janitor’s door and down a staircase you enter a decadent low lit space, all wood paneling and chesterfield sofas with first class whiskey based cocktails and live music that varies from western warblings (in the best way)  to karaoke (I think that still counts as live). 

Making your way down the ‘secret’ staircase conjures feelings of big kid energy, fully knowing what is in store you still can’t help but giggle and feel you are being  led to a secret hideaway. Another fantastic example of Vegas theatre and experiential offerings – a must for anyone visiting.  

Things to do 

The Neon Museum

Determined not to just drink and gamble our livers and life savings away, we took a visit to  The Neon Museum. In hindsight perhaps this would have been better at dark so one could appreciate the iconic signs coming to life but it was still just as wonderful by day. A quick taxi ride to the graveyard of Las Vegas past and present and we were immersed in history and iconography. I would highly recommend to any fellow magpies who are mesmerized by flashing, twinkling things as I am – seeing some of the most recognisable signage up close and personal was an absolute treat, not to mention made for a great backdrop for an impromptu photo shoot.

Agave Bar & Grill

High up in the maze that is Resorts World sits the Agave Bar & Grill, a tropical oasis in the middle of a concrete desert. Vegas pools are often synonymous with party and I’m sorry to say, these 37 year old bodies are just not cut out for it. We wanted relaxed, chilled, cocktails brought to us, massages available on request and Agave delivered. The food offering is stripped back and basic but exactly what is needed to line stomachs before a day of poolside drinking – think burrito bowls and chicken wings, perfect washed down with a Bloody Mary. Perhaps it was due to being ‘off season’ but the pool was calm and tranquil. After two days of heavy drinking and eating, the ability to flop onto a lounger, roll into a pool and have a server bring you a frozen pina colada every thirty minutes was exactly what the doctor ordered and the perfect way to spend a sunny day on the strip.

“O” by Cirque De Soleil

We knew we had to tick the ‘big Vegas show’ box at least once during our time here and so on our last night we opted for “O”. Having never been to a Cirque show but knowing the reputation of them and that housed in Vegas, we were most likely going to be in for a spectacle, so we excitedly made our way to The Bellagio (with a couple of stops on the slots on route). Nothing could have prepared me for the next two hours of my life. As stages magically moved and shifted, floors became pools of water, acrobats plummeted and tumbled not just across the stage but into it, we gasped and cheered along with the rest of the audience. Sitting on the edge of our seats, grabbing each other’s digits, we were enraptured. I’ve heard people say before that going to the theatre or the cinema is a silly thing to do for a date (appreciate my friend and I aren’t dating but same premise) but I firmly disagree. The sharing of  such a spectacle and then being able to dissect it and discuss it afterwards is such a special experience. I would recommend anyone – kids, adults, shotgun weddingers, ANYONE, to go and see this show and prepare to have your mind blown.

Las Vegas reminds me of a festival site. The Cosmopolitan, our very glitzy base camp, the hundreds of activities and eateries all mini stages. Strategically planning days around when we can get back to our room to refresh and rehydrate as you would your tent. Looking at lengths of walk from one area to the other, planning outfits for every eventuality. It was this feeling of play and escapism that captured me, living in your own little man made world that purely exists to provide fun and frivolity. Sure, it’s not sustainable but good lord for a few days it is magic.

And so with that, part one of our girls road trip was complete. Our brief to each other, to eat, to drink, to be merry, to ‘do’ Vegas hard ready for the softness of California and we did just that. Rolling out of The Cosmopolitan car park, a little poorer, a lot rounder and absolutely full to the brim of love and laughter, we were ready to hit the road and Thelma and Louise this trip (minus the murder and double suicide).

Find out more about Las Vegas.

There are daily direct flights to Las Vegas from London and Manchester with British Airways and Virgin Atlantic.

British Citizens will need complete and Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) to visit the States.

Read part 2 here

Doha was a buzz word and destination for travel in the lead up to the 2022 World Cup. However, a year on, beyond the world of football, there’s so much that the capital of Qatar has to offer. With the fuss that football brings having died down, keen and aspiring travellers alike should keep this city on their radar.

Turkey has enough tourists and Dubai has been done to death, quite frankly – so if you’re looking to explore more of the Middle East and plan a getaway of your own, Doha is definitely a destination to keep in mind. A cultural hub, with an abundance of art and history, the architecture is both an homage to old traditions, as well as a contemporary nod to futuristic endeavours.

Whether you’re strolling along the Corniche or paying a visit to the trendy Mshereib quarter, Doha is ideal for all those who favour a city break – read on to find out why.

Where to stay in Doha

Le Royal Meridien

Shopaholics, pay attention, as Le Royal Meridien in Qatar’s capital is situated right next to the the Place Vendomé mall in Doha. In fact, the hotel is a part of the mall, with its own entrance taking you straight from your slumber to shopping paradise. An undoubtely opulent place to stay during your visit, Le Royal Meridien boasts 377 rooms, suites, and residences – as well as five different eateries, including Anatolian cuisine and a sports bar. The spa offers both classic treatments, as well as an enchanting European bathhouse experience and the gym and swimming pool are also on-site for guests to use at leisure, should an escape from the city be needed.

le royal meridien st regis doha hotels
Le Royal Meridien (L) and The St. Regis Marsa Arabia Island (R) are two top hotels in Doha

The St. Regis Marsa Arabia Island, The Pearl Qatar

Think of The Pearl as Qatar’s answer to The Palm – a man-made island full of beautiful hotels, trendy cafes and restaurants and more. As well as this, it has become an increasingly popular residential area, too. The St. Regis Marsa Arabia Island certainly lives up to the lavish lifestyle adopted on this island, offering guests a choice of 193 hotel suites, whose balconies all overlook the stunning Arabian Gulf.

With 11 different eateries (including NAR for your Turkish food fix and Chotto Matte for a more commercialised dining experience), guests are never short of a good meal. Couple that with a luxurious spa and a swimming pool looking out onto the marina and you’ve got yourself a pretty impressive hotel.

What to do in Doha

National Museum of Qatar

While the inside of this must-see museum is fascinating, the architecture of its exterior is almost a reason to visit in itself. Home to many archaeological and heritage artefacts, photographs and costumes, the National Museum tells the history of Qatar its storytelling relates to the wider region within the Middle East, too. French architect Jean Nouvel is the mastermind behind the museum’s impressive design, with its form emulating the desert rose, which is found in Qatar’s sandy regions.

Museum of Islamic Art

The architect of the Louvre, I. M. Pei actually came out of retirement to design the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha – and his signature style can be seen by the floor to ceiling windows and beautiful design throughout. Based on the Tulun Mosque in Cairo, this is I. M. Pei’s only work in an Islamic country. From a beautifully-illuminated copy of the Qur’an written in golden kufic letters on indigo-dyed parchment to a jewelled falcon (symbolic of strength, grace and nobility in Qatari culture), there’s plenty of stunning artwork to see in this museum.

Visit both the National Museum of Qatar (L) and the Museum of Islamic Art (R) during your trip to Doha

Katara Cultural Village

The Katara Cultural Village is definitely worth a wander through during your visit to Doha. Coined as “the point where the Middle East meets Asia”, this space in Doha represents the fact that Qatar has long been a melting pot of different cultures within the region. Must-sees include both the Katara and Gold Mosques, as well as the impressive amphitheatre and various art galleries within the village. A fascinating spot and great during golden hour, as the light bounces off the tan walls perfectly.

Souq Waqif

A stroll to the souq is essential during your visit to Doha – where the market stalls sell everything from jewellery to tapestry-style goods. Around 4pm is a good time to visit, if you wish to avoid the crowds, but if atmosphere is your goal, the space becomes buzzier later at night. While there is something new and toy town-esque about this souq, you’ll find all the essential herbs, spices and more that you’d expect in other souqs across the Middle East.

Explore Katara Cultural Village (L) or stroll through the streets of the Souq Waqif (R).

Msheireb Downtown Doha

Msheireb Downtown Doha is a pioneering urban regeneration project located in the heart of Doha. It is one of the world’s first sustainable downtown developments and represents Qatar’s commitment to modernity, sustainability, and preserving its cultural heritage. The development carefully integrates historic buildings and cultural landmarks with contemporary architecture and amenities, creating a vibrant and authentic urban environment, while also featuring cultural institutions, museums, galleries, and educational facilities. All of these are aimed at promoting art, culture, and knowledge-sharing within the community and serve as focal points for creativity, learning, and cultural exchange.

Place Vendomé

While just shy of Dubai Mall’s 12 million square foot size, this shopping centre in Lusail is still the most magnificent mall opening we’ve seen in quite some time. Inspired by classic French architecutre, the four-floored open concept mall is home to 580 shops, ranging from high-end to mid-range. Add a variety of eateries perfect to welcome tired shoppers in need of a break, the mall also comes complete with mini Bentley and Rolls Royce cars to tour the grand space from.

Doha Corniche

Walk along it or cruise on the waterfront baord a dhow – a classic Qatari boat – either way, the Corniche is not to be missed during your visit to Doha. The Corniche itself is a seven-kilometere stretch of promenade overlooking the beautiful seafront. Forming a half-moon shape around Doha Bay, it offers gorgeous views from every angle.

place Vendomé mall
From a boat ride on the Corniche to shopping at Place Vendomé – there’s plenty to do in Doha

3-2-1 Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum

From learning about traditional sports such as pearl diving to seeing the display hall of all past Olympic torches, the 3-2-1 Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum is great for any sport fanatic. Here you’ll see a range of displays, as well as hear from guides who share interesting facts such as the history of pearl diving (which was once a huge trade in Qatar). Plus, there’s the more recent addition of the World Cup 2022.

Where to eat in Doha

Yedi by Chef Esat

If you’re in the mood for Anatolian cuisine, Chef Esat Akyildiz’s Yedi restaurant (located within Le Royal Meridien hotel in Lusail) is the spot to book. Here you’ll find authentic dishes, packed full of flavour, such as pastirma pide, adana kebap, kibbeh, pumpkin manti and much more. The atmosphere is cosy and the decor contemporary, allowing this restaurant to offer an experience which transports you to Turkish shores.

ADRIFT Anda by David Myers

Serving up pizza and pasta that even Italians in our group approved of, ADRIFT Anda is the perfect place to ge your Italian food fix. Also located in Le Royal Meridien hotel, standouts included the pepperoni pizza, as well as the creamy (while containing no cream whatsoever) carbonara. A tip from us to you: save space for that tiramisu on the dessert menu.

doha qatar food turkish italian restaurants
You can find excellent Anatolian and Italian food in Le Royal Meridien in Doha


As soon as you enter The Banyan Tree, you feel instantly transported to more exotic climes – and if you’re craving Thai food, you’ll be only too happy to venture high up in the sky to try Saffron. The hotel’s award-winning signature restaurant showcases fine-dining cuisine, keeping to traditional Thai cooking methods and the use of indigenous ingredients, while also adding an innovative twist to certain menu items. From steamed Thai dumplings to crispy rice noodle wrapped prawns to start; baked shrimp with glass noddles and southern style braised beef curry for mains, there’s plenty to choose from at Saffron – as well as a decent vegetarian offering, too (green curry with aubergine and papaya salad popped out at us).


What is Qatari cuisine, you might ask? Well, we got to try it for ourselves – at Saasna, a restaurant offering a modern take on the country’s food. Key dishes to try would be the matai salad, drizzled in a yoghurt sauce and topped with pomegrantes; chicken majbous – Qatar’s national dish, consisting of rice, meat and vegetables – and lamb badawi (a soft and tender meat dish). When in Rome, right?

doha food qatari cuisine turkish
From Qatari cuisine (L) to Turkish treats (R), Doha is a foodie hub


Another Turkish dining spot for you – but this one is located on The Pearl, within The St. Regis Marsa Arabia Island hotel. While the restaurant itself appears fine dining, the concept of Nar is sharing plates and once you tuck into the variety of dishes ordered to the table, you’ll soon see that dinner at this eatery is a delicious and fuss-free affair. The hummus is exceptional, as is the muhammara; aubergine mutabbal; salt-crusted seabass and (although slightly less authentic) the wagyu tenderloin.

If you haven’t heard of renowned Colombian chef, Juan Manuel Barrientos, you will very soon. He is affectionately known as ‘Juanma’ by locals and at the very young age of 40 is already the founder of a hospitality group that includes restaurants and hotel across the Americas. He was named one of the 50 best chefs in Latin America and there is no doubt you will see his empire extending into Europe in the not-too-distant future.

His original restaurant is based in Medellín. It is now situated inside his boutique El Cielo Hotel. You can appreciate his popularity with a visit to his fabulously inventive restaurant there. With an open kitchen, you can see all the staff in action. They are all dressed in white lab coats with hair nets and meticulously beavering away at their workstations. You can be excused for thinking you’ve walked into the world of Willy Wonka and his chocolate factory.

Their tasting menu includes more than 15 courses or ‘moments’ as they like to call them in the restaurant. They like to create a sense of mystery with their menu. If you look online, you’ll find a long list of mostly single words, which don’t describe the ingredients of the dish. They are in fact, different regions of Colombia and your gastronomic journey at El Cielo is a whirlwind tour of the different regions of the country. What is important to note is this tasting menu is only available at the Medellín branch. If you visit their Michelin-starred restaurants in Miami or Washington DC, only some of the highlights might be on their menu.

The moments are designed to stimulate your senses. The restaurant is well-known for its choco-therapy, so for one course, you’ll be crushing a chocolate truffle ball with your hands. Then you will be enjoying the delights without the use of cutlery. It will bring back innocent childhood memories when dining was less rigid and formal.

This is also the case for another course, where diners are offered edible balloons with helium inside. That is the cue for a chorus of Donald Duck voices reverberating around the restaurant. What makes their concept so successful is they take the seriousness out of fine dining and with every course, they bring a heartfelt smile to everyone’s faces.

Although not advertised on their website, they do cater for dietary requirements. They can readily prep for a vegetarian version of the tasting menu. For example, when they present locally cured charcuterie, they can offer smoked peppers instead.

Dishes are nevertheless always exquisitely presented. The “tree of life” is a case in point, it’s a crunchy canopy of yucca bread presented in a tree trunk structure that made it resemble a bonsai tree.

You might have thought the “tree of life” would represent the Amazonas course. Instead, it is the fish course that contained arapaima. It is the largest freshwater fish in the world and is found in the Amazon River. The dish is presented with burning charcoal and you do wonder whether it is intentional to represent the long-suffering rainforest. The Arapaima has a rather firm texture reminiscent of cod. Another seafood course is the Cartagena-inspired sausage course that is made with crab meat and white fish.

If you are a meat lover, your main course will be paradise. It’s a confit duck served with a peach sauce along with a duck reduction sauce. It’s a surprise you see a lot of menus offering duck and orange but rarely see duck and peach paired together.

The meal is also interactive. For one of the dessert courses, you are a paleontologist looking for an ammonite, as you brush away the edible powder to reveal your dessert. History is never far away from your experience. With the petit fours, it is presented alongside a replica of the Muisca raft, which is the most famous artefact from the Gold Museum in Bogota.

Coffee is an integral part of the Colombian dining experience. The cafetal course includes the use of liquid nitrogen before your coffee is served to resemble the misty conditions of the coffee-growing regions of Colombia.

Throughout the meal, the kitchen excels in showing its mastery of molecular gastronomy. The full experience generally takes at least 3 hours, so make sure you plan either a full afternoon or evening for your meal. ‘El Cielo’ means heaven in Spanish and you will be in gastronomic heaven by the end of your meal.

For more information on the restaurant, please visit –


If you follow travel content creators on social media, there is a very high chance you would have seen the unique town of Guatapé in Colombia. The Rock of Guatapé with the iconic zig-zagging staircase features prominently on the likes of Instagram and TikTok. Surprisingly, the monolithic rock is a natural formation. It takes a short 15-20 minutes to ascend the rock, and climbing the 740 steps to reach the summit will offer a great cardiovascular workout. The panoramic 360º views of Guatape Lake and the El Peñón region as you reach the pinnacle are worth the endeavour.

The town itself is filled with ‘zocalos’, which are vibrant, colourful murals that surround the cobbled streets of Guatapé. The paintings often depict local life or concealed messages about local beliefs and products. This is one town where you want to ensure you have enough storage on your camera phones to ensure you capture countless photo opportunities.

If you want to know where to stay in Guatapé, I would highly recommend booking a glamping experience with Bosko. This is glamping with a capital G. Their ‘tents’, the Mush.Rooms are geodesic structures that resemble globe lanterns in the nighttime.Their concierge service is on par with any 5-star hotel in the country. They can arrange a private transfer for you from José María Córdova International Airport in Medellín. It’s an approximate 2-hour drive through some of the most scenic parts of the country.

On arrival, you are offered a detoxifying welcome drink immediately and this is followed by a coffee exfoliation ritual to cleanse your hands. Unsurprisingly, Colombians are fervent coffee connoisseurs and don’t just use it for drinking but in all aspects of their lives. Next, you are led to your Mush.Rooms, which are scattered throughout the property and provide maximum privacy. The pathways are relatively narrow but thankfully their staff team will assist with luggage transfer. There are three types of accommodation: deluxe, golden and presidential.

If you want a bucket-list experience, I would strongly suggest booking for the presidential Mush.Room. It is surprisingly affordable if you are comparing it to other presidential suites at 5-star hotels. The pièce de résistance is getting your private thermal pool with jaw-dropping views of the surrounding forest and lake. If you enjoy taking selfies, you will be in seventh heaven. Even if you are camera-shy, this is sheer paradise.

The Mush.Room also offers high-speed WiFi, internal heating including an electric blanket on your bed and a fully-stocked minibar including exquisite wines. The dark wood interior is smartly designed and resembles a showroom in a high-end interior design store rather than a camping site in a rainforest. They offer an open-sky shower with luxury amenities from L’Occitane.

For those staying in the other Mush.Rooms, they do have a general sky pool for you to relax and enjoy the surrounding scenery. They helpfully have signs posted throughout the grounds which highlight the animals you might encounter such as the great trush or the sparkling violet ear. There is also a QR code for you to hear what the birds sound like.

Dining at Bosko is a hidden gem, which you won’t read much about even on their website. Breakfast is cooked to order and delivered to your tent at no extra charge. It is delivered in one of those luxurious hampers which you suspect might be floatable in your thermal pool. You can opt for traditional options like sunny-side-up eggs on toast or Colombian specialties like freshly baked arepas with Colombian-style red beans. Naturally, Colombian coffee is served along with an exotic fruit platter selection.

If you don’t feel like heading into town, their restaurant is a superb option for lunch and dinner. They have an eclectic selection that caters for all tastes. Typically, they offer western dishes with a hint of Colombian flavour such as pork tenderloin served with mashed potatoes and a sweet and sour coffee sauce. The dishes are all exquisitely presented and wouldn’t look out of place in a 5-star hotel. For vegetarians, they have stronger options in the starters and finger food section such as empanadas with homemade aji sauce. and creamy sweet corn with cheese and tajin. In your travels in Colombia, you are more than likely to come across their love of cheese. They even enjoy hot chocolate with cheese.

If you want to offset some calories post-meal, they have kayaks and paddle boards for hire free of charge by the lakeside. The vast Peñol-Guatapé Reservoir is a man-made phenomenon rather than a natural lake. It was built in the 1980s as part of a hydroelectric project that powers up to 30% of the electricity supply of Colombia. You can paddle to your heart’s content as long as you return by 17:00, which is when the lake closes for water-sporting activities.

If you prefer the luxury James Bond-style experience instead, you can book a private speedboat tour instead and see more of the lake area. Your guide will show you the famous houses owned by the likes of footballers from the Colombian national team and Pablo Escobar’s former mansion. If you are lucky, you might be allowed to drive the boat at some point during your trip.

Whether you are a nature lover, a thrill-seeker or just want a tranquil wellness break, there is something to offer for everyone in the magical town of Guatapé.

For more information on the hotel, please visit –

It is not difficult to see why locals and tourists alike fall for the charm of Cartagena. This medieval walled city on the Caribbean coast has it all: charm, culture, vitality and a vibrant nightlife scene. The narrow, colourful streets are lined with independent, boutique shops and the old city is one of the best preserved in the Americas.

There is a more modern part of the city, filled with glass-laden high rises, which is reminiscent of Miami. However, I would recommend staying in the old city to soak up the magic of Cartagena. Staying in one of the refurbished, grand colonial homes from the 17th and 18th centuries is the best way to discover the city.

Casa San Agustín is one such property and it is situated in the heart of the action at Plaza de los Estudiantes. The refined boutique hotel was created from three meticulously restored 17th-century mansions. It has only 20 guestrooms and 11 suites, so attentive service from the staff is guaranteed. It seamlessly blends modern comforts with authentic Colombian features. You’ll notice the original frescoes in the library where they serve complimentary afternoon tea. In the guest rooms, you’ll see their iconic wood-beamed ceilings that are centuries old.

The main feature of the hotel is a 300-year-old aqueduct that serves as a backdrop to the main plunge pool. It is precisely because of the existence of boutique hotels like Casa San Agustín that helps to keep these important relics well-preserved. Plenty of greenery such as palm trees surround the public areas to offer a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of the old town.

The rooms are relatively spacious even at the entry-level deluxe rooms, which range from 409 and 839 sq. ft. They provide luxurious Frette linens as well as renowned Ortigia amenities from Sicily. On the other end of the spectrum, you have the eye-catching Suite Prestige. They are duplexes with an area between 1539 and 1732 sq. ft. They include two bedrooms which is ideal for families and close friends to share. All the rooms offer a complimentary mini-bar that includes soft drinks and beer. The combination of dark wood, polished marble and ornate painting tiling in the bathroom adds to the colonial grandeur of the surroundings.

Their sister property, Casa Pestagua offers a similar level of comfort and sophistication. It is known as “the most beautiful house in Cartegena”. It belonged to the powerful 18th-century aristocrat, Count of Pestagua. It had undergone a major 15-million-dollar refurbishment and had only reopened last April. Now you can live the life of a count too, when you book in to stay at Casa Pestagua. The hotel is a proud member of the Relais & Chateaux group, the only hotel in Colombia awarded with that honour.

You might feel even more exclusive at this property with only 10 spacious suites and 6 deluxe rooms. The laid-back charm is very similar to Casa San Agustin. The central plunge pool is ideal for escaping the occasional sweltering Caribbean heat. The shaded sunbeds underneath the tropical palm trees are an ideal spot for catching up with your reading list. You’ll notice plenty of Moorish-inspired arches around the boutique hotel that recount the colonial times of previous centuries.

The rooms have a light and airy design, no doubt helped by the double-height ceilings and excellent use of natural lighting. You’ll find sturdy-looking light wooden beams on the ceiling of all the rooms. Similar to the sister property, the entry-level room is deluxe and includes luxury linen and ever-reliable Ortigia amenities. Having been refurbished recently, the decor is marginally fresher looking than her sister property but both boutique hotels are maintained to the highest of standards.

The restaurant offering at both hotels is headed by renowned Chef Heberto Eljach, who is one of the most celebrated chefs in Colombia. At Casa Pestagua, we have the culinary delight of AniMare. The menu is a journey of Colombian cuisine with modern touches. It takes in both influences from the Caribbean and the Pacific side of the country. You’ll get to savour local classics such as shrimp and snail cocktail Cartagena style. Typically, such a dish is found as street food in the local streets of the city, but here it is served in a much-elevated format, with avocado and homemade bread. Their seafood casserole main course is equally elevated with treasures of the sea served up in lobster cream and coconut milk sauce along with fried plantain chips. At Alma situated in Casa San Agustín, you’ll enjoy a similarly extravagant fine dining experience. They are particularly proud of showcasing the best of Colombian cuisine and cater for all kinds of dietary requirements from gluten-free to vegetarian needs.

For those looking for a beach holiday, you can enjoy that as well whilst staying at both hotels. They have a private beach club at ACASĪ on Isla Barú. You can immerse your feet on the white sandy beaches and swim in the turquoise waters of the beach. The hotel can arrange a private round-trip boat charter that takes about 45 minutes and you can admire the picturesque coastline along the way. It will be a different experience to the history and culture of the old town.

Photography by stephane louesdon .

Finally, if you want to relax further, they have the Aurum spa. You can enjoy everything from a detoxifying body scrub in the hammam to a gold wrap to help nourish the skin. Aurum is the Latin word for gold.

For a holiday where you can enjoy both a city break and a beach holiday. One where you can embrace history and modernity. Make sure you check out the romantic city of Cartagena.

For more information on the hotels, please visit –

As the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve you want to be celebrating somewhere in style.  Here’s our roundup of the best restaurants in London to see in the New Year.

A Unique German Festive Experience

German Gymnasium, is set to treat visitors with a uniquely German festive experience, inside their iconic Grade ll listed restaurant. Nestled in the heart of King’s Cross, with its rich history and distinctive interiors, it captures the very essence of German traditions.

For a truly German New Year’s Eve affair, guests can treat themselves to the set menu in the Restaurant. With 8 courses of local favourite dishes such as Seeteufel Rauchmantel, Letscho – (Monkfish, Tyrolean speck, rustic tomato & paprika sauce) or Kalbsroulade, Steinpilzfüllung, Serviettenknödel, Schwarze Nüsse – (Veal roulade with cep stuffing, red cabbage, poached bread dumpling & pickled walnuts), this menu will see the year out with a bang.

Looking for the perfect spot to welcome the New Year in London? Check out our restaurant ideas, offering a delightful mix of flavors and a festive atmosphere for a memorable celebration with friends and family.

A Vintage New Year’s Eve

This festive season, Quaglino’s, the renowned restaurant in the heart of St James’s, has delved into the allure of the Prohibition era, bringing guests a delicious menu specially crafted for an enchanting New Year’s Eve celebration.

Step back in time and welcome in the New Year with an unforgettable prohibition-style party. The evening will commence with dinner service at 5:30pm (with two seating options available), with the celebrations running into the early hours. Guests are encouraged to embrace the vintage flair of the 1920s with music from the Brooklyn Shakers and by dressing in 1920s attire.

A New Year’s Extravaganza by the Riverside

Get ready for an extravagant New Year’s Eve celebration at Skylon with magnificent views of the River Thames, a live performance by ‘The Revellers’ and a seven-course tasting menu designed to keep guests entertained to the stroke of midnight. The evening kicks off with a celebratory welcome Chambord Kir Royale, setting the stage for a lavish night. For those seated in the River View area, there’s a chance to catch a glimpse of the Mayor’s fireworks display, with the option for all guests to head down to the South Bank* for an up-close view. Skylon offers two options for the evening: the Early Bird Dinner, a three-course feast for £125pp, available from 5:30pm to 7pm, and the New Year’s Eve Main Event, priced at £375pp. The New Year’s menu features seven-courses showcasing mouthwatering morsels such as BBQ lobster, Heirloom beetroot, and a delicious trio of duck. The festivities receive an extra boost with a pre-dessert gin and tonic sorbet. When the clock strikes midnight, the fireworks display will light up the London skyline, providing a breathtaking backdrop to the New Year’s celebration. It’s an evening of live music, indulgent dining, and fantastic views – an incredible way to welcome the New Year in London’s prime riverside spot.

(*Weather and security allowing, as organised by South Bank)

A New Year’s Sky-High Celebration

At 14 Hills, guests are invited to reserve their tables for a grand New Year’s celebration, waving goodbye to 2023. Whether seeking a lively party or a memorable dining experience, 14 Hills offers the perfect choice. Indulge in an unforgettable evening with panoramic views of London, exceptional cuisine, dancing, dazzling entertainment, and a resident DJ, all set 14 floors above the City. For an early seating between 5:30pm-7:30pm, you can enjoy a meticulously crafted Five-Course Tasting Menu priced at £90pp, accompanied by an optional wine pairing at £65. The menu features delights such as Lobster, Langoustine bisque, kohlrabi, blood orange, and Fillet of beef Rossini with wild mushroom and Périgourdine sauce. For the entire evening, 7:15pm-22:00pm, the indulgence continues with a Six-Course Tasting Menu priced at £140pp, accompanied by an optional wine pairing at £95pp. This extended menu includes additions such as Scottish halibut, scallop chou farci, caviar fish velouté. As the night unfolds, guests can end the night on a sweet note, with the Valrhona chocolate marquise, yuzu, honeycomb, and sesame.

Celebrate New Year’s in the Heart of Battersea Power Station

Nestled in the historic Battersea Power Station, Fiume extends a warm invitation to celebrate the arrival of the New Year. Guests can bid farewell to 2023 with a crafted four-course menu, priced at £85pp, complimented by a glass of bubbles to set the festive tone. Prepare for an exceptional dining experience featuring dishes that include succulent Beef tartare, Lobster linguine, Roast duck breast or Poached monkfish, and a velvety Chocolate mousse. Fiume is collaborating with Italicus Rosolio di Bergamotto this festive season for a delicious cocktail menu. Guests can immerse themselves in the spirit of the season with the Grande Eleganza, a delightful blend of Italicus Rosolio Di Bergamotto, Malfy Gin Originale, Smoked Rosemary Aroma, Lime Juice, Mediterranean Tonic, Sugar Syrup, finished with a sprig of rosemary. See in 2024 with an Italicus Spritz, a perfect fusion of Italicus Rosolio Di Bergamotto, Prosecco, Soda, and Lemon. The festive cocktail menu also includes the Itoddycus, Negroni Bianco, and Salute!, each offering a unique and delightful combination of flavours. After dinner and cocktails, guests will be only be a short walk from the iconic Battersea Park firework show. A visit to Fiume is not to be missed.

A New Year’s Night to Remember

Embracing the allure of Mayfair, Sartoria invites guests to welcome 2024 with a grand Italian feast priced at £150pp. The journey kicks off with a glass of Franciacorta and a delicious amuse bouche. The evening features dishes such as a fresh lobster salad, artfully presented in a catalana style with caviar, and an exquisite Burrata tortelli, generously infused with truffle and grana padano. The star of the night, Black Cod, takes centre stage, accompanied by tropea onion and liquorice, promising a harmonious blend of flavours. Concluding this feast is a Chocolate cake paired with passionfruit mango sorbet, ensuring a sweet send-off to the year. Over the winter season, Sartoria is partnering with Cambridge Distillery to create a new menu focusing on their Cambridge Truffle Gin, adding a touch of decadence to the festivities. Guests can indulge in truffle-infused cocktails like the Truffle Vesper, Truffle Negroni, Truffle Margarita, and Truffle Bellini.

Spend This Festive Season in Luxury at The Royal Horseguards Hotel

For those looking for the ultimate festive experience, The Royal Horseguards hotel is offering a luxury New Years Eve menu providing guests with the most opulent black-tie experience. Dinner at One Whitehall Place includes a selection of canapes to start, steamed halibut with keta caviar or pan-fried fillet of beef in madeira juice with raspberry sorbet or peach puree to refresh. From 7pm – 2am, from £450 per person

When planning a trip to New Zealand, you’re in for a treat with its picturesque landscapes and friendly locals. And no visit would be complete without exploring Auckland, the largest and most populated city in the country, despite not being the capital. Don’t miss out on our Auckland Travel Guide for the best tips and insights on making the most of your visit. If you find yourself in Auckland and are desperate to learn as much about the city as possible, there are a few things you should do if you want to truly experience city life and its spirit.

Adrenalin rush

Adrenalin junkies will be glad to hear that something is exciting for them to try out. The landmark building in the very heart of Auckland is the Sky Tower, a large needle-like structure in the heart of the city that towers over everything else. Observation decks will give you a chance to get magnificent panoramic views, but there is more that can be done if you’re adventurous. For a fee, you could walk up to the viewing platforms and have a drink at one of the bars there. If you’re feeling even more adventurous, you could do the “Sky Jump” – plummet to the ground from nearly 200m height attached to a guiding line!

Wine and dine like a boss

New Zealand’s food scene is incredibly versatile and, if you’re hoping to find nice places to have a good meal and grab a drink, there are some places people just love. The city might be located around two large harbours, yet it is the Viaduct Harbor that became one of the hottest places in all of Auckland. There are many great restaurants you can go to and try some of their amazing dishes. There are bars with rooftops you can watch the harbor from and a few places for meat lovers, too. If you’re looking for something truly special, Sidart won Restaurant Of The Year in 2018, so it would be a perfect place to celebrate a special occasion.

Must-see places

If you’re feeling adventurous and don’t have too much time on your hands, you might want to start exploring the city straight from the airport. Just a few miles away from the airport is Villa Maria Estate which offers wine tasting, tours, and lunch. You can find car rental at Auckland airport and drive to the famous Waitakere Ranges Regional Park and see breathtakingly beautiful waterfalls and unique black sand beaches. Use the opportunity to drive a bit further away and visit Waiheke Island, which happens to be the second largest as well as the most populated island in the Hauraki Gulf.

Learn about Maori culture

One of the main reasons why people decide to visit New Zealand in the first place is to learn more about Maori culture and its people. You no longer have to sit in a classroom or attend a boring lecture if you want to learn about something that interests you: there are different walking tours you can sign up for and use the opportunity to see beautiful landscapes while learning about the history and culture of Maori. There is a wonderful tour named “Mount Eden Tour” where you’ll get a chance to find out just what is it that makes dormant volcano Maungawhau so significant.

Feast your eyes on whales

If you’re one of the people who find joy in getting to see free wild animals on your travels, you shouldn’t miss the opportunity to go whale watching while in Auckland. There are a lot of whales and dolphins in the area around Auckland, and you can make a field trip out of it. You can book a tour in advance, or you can do it on the spot when you get to the harbor side. If you’re lucky, you will also spot New Zealand fur seals, a pygmy blue whale, manta rays, sharks, and even turtles.

Because it’s often referred to as “the gateway to New Zealand”, Auckland has become quite a popular tourist destination over the years. With its big airport that has many international flights, it’s not a surprise why so many people choose to make it their starting point on their tour through the country. By following our tips and suggestions, you will get a feel for the city and, hopefully, fall in love with it.

If you’re gearing up for your New Zealand adventure, don’t forget to check out our Auckland Travel Guide for essential tips and recommendations. Before you go, delve into some fascinating facts about New Zealand that will enrich your journey. Explore these insights here at House of Coco: Interesting Facts About New Zealand Worth Knowing Before Planning a Visit.

As the Summer month’s slowly creep up on us you had better start thinking of getting those 2017 holidays booked up as soon as possible. Here at #TeamCoco we’re all for the cheap and cheerful city breaks especially when it includes a bit of sun, good food and idyllic luxury hotels. Malta, the unlikely destination which according to National Geographic and Bloomberg has been named one of the Best Places to Visit in 2017.

Our Lifestyle Writer, Helena,visited the city of St Julian’s on the tiny island. Slowly rising more and more as a millennial must-travel destination this year you would be surprised at exactly what Malta has to offer, and with the temperatures beginning to heat up there’s no better time to visit. Malta is rich in history and culture and the ideal place to explore, do some activities or just relax and enjoy the numerous amazing restaurants and bars on offer.

How to get there:

Malta couldn’t be easier to get to, the national airline Air Malta operates flights to and from all the major airports in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. Other low-cost airlines such as Easyjet and Ryanair also fly to and from Malta in just 3 hours. St Julian’s is only around 20 minutes from the airport.

What to do:

Spend the day sun lounging at St. Georges Bay, the beach here is quite small but centrally located, surrounded by shops, restaurants and entertainment.

Take a day trip to Gozo – A 20 minute bus from St Julian’s and then hop on the ferry, visit the stunning Azure window, historic churches and temples and beautiful beaches, perfect for scuba diving.

Paceville is the spot for the night-owls and party animals, heavily populated with nightclubs, bars, strip clubs, pubs and restaurants, and is the most important nightlife hub on the island. Don’t expect places to close early either, not even on a week day!

Take a ferry to Comino. The Blue Lagoon Bay between Comino and Cominotto Island has crystal clear blue water and caves, one of the best beaches on the island. Such a beautiful spot to spend a lazy sunny afternoon.

Annie Mac Lost and Found Festival takes place on the Island from 13-16 April at St Pauls Bay, with a wide selection of DJ’s and everything from all night raves, castle parties and boat parties for 3 days, why not see Malta and squeeze in a festival at the same time. Get all the info here.

Where to stay:

Hugo’s Boutique Hotel

The latest chic addition to the St Julian’s area, which just opened in the Summer of 2016. The hotel towers above the celebrated entertainment district of Paceville with an enormous H which is extremely hard to miss, and nightlife right on your doorstep. This can be both a blessing and curse. It is probably the most modern and shiny building in the area which seems to be surrounded by many other under-construction sites preparing for the busy Summer months in Malta, Hugo’s Boutique Hotel stands out in it’s own way, and not just the exterior but additionally once you enter.

The individually designed rooms all have absolute stand-out décor with an extravagant feel. The rooms are extremely high-tech with everything controlled by your very own easy-to-use personal in-room tablet (provided on check-in) which enables you to effortlessly control everything from music to lighting, and even drawing the curtains, which means you actually don’t have to get up at all. This tablet also acts as a digital concierge and allows you to order room service at ease, book a tour, browse the internet and much more.

The Jacuzzi suite with floor-to-ceiling windows and sea-views is highly recommended. The Signature Suites also include a private terrace with outdoor Jacuzzi, seating area and round bed which moves.

This Summer the rooftop infinity pool and bar will be ready for full use, with Malta reaching temperatures of 27 degrees in the Summer, and just one minute walk to the beach it’s the ideal destination and hotel for your 2017 trip. This stylish hotel definitely sets itself apart from the rest. Small and sophisticated catering to everything you may require.

Double rooms start from £70 per night.

Where to eat:

If you’re craving some Pan Asian/Dim Sum Bacco Sticks & Sum by Hugo’s is the place to be. I’ve heard there aren’t many dim sum spots in Malta and this is the first in St Julian’s and it is absolutely perfect. Located centrally on the steps of Paceville, ideal for a chilled out dinner and a few cocktails before your night out. With more than 20 varieties of steamed, grilled and deep-fried dumplings, there’s a wide selection on the menu to choose from. The restaurant presents a modern design with high stools, a fully-stocked cocktail bar and deep house playing in the background, you may even spot Hugo himself manning the DJ booth. Besides the dim sum and skewers, Bacco also serves soup, the most delicious rice and noodle dishes as well as some bigger dishes such as Cantonese roasted duck and roasted pork belly.

Malta has such close relations to Italy with their traditional dishes having a strong Sicilian influence. Hugo’s Pizza and Pasta, the brand new pizza and pasta spot in St. Julian’s is no disappointment and a must-visit. Many of the dishes have a fusion twist – with unusual ingredients like candied walnuts, yellow curry, coconut milk, ginger and oyster mushrooms. However, there are also the more traditional and extravagant favourites, like truffle cream, bacon roulades, Mozzarella fior di latte, and top quality Parmesan.

For a sweet treat Riva Reno Gelato provide tasty authentic gelato and desserts serving generous portions. As well as tasty brownies, waffles and crepes.

Where to go for a drink:

Hugo’s Terrace and Rooftop Bar is a top notch setting in a flawless location. Famed for its ultra stylish décor, impeccable service, mouth watering classic and contemporary cocktails, uniquely inspired Mediterranean cuisine and live performances by local and international artists, Hugo’s Terrace also provides its clientele with luxurious VIP sofa seating, fully stocked bars, a dancefloor and free wi-fi. In addition, The Rooftop on Hugo’s Terrace offers breath-taking views of the beach and surrounding skyline as well as indoor and outdoor dining options.

Twenty-Two is Malta’s most exclusive nightclub and lounge bar. Situated at Level 22 of the Portomaso Business Tower, the top floor of Malta’s tallest high-rise building, you will get 360 degrees of unparalleled views of Malta. Twenty-two is a chic location that attracts both tourists and the local crowds.

A trip to Athens is perfect for those who enjoy artisan shops, independent restaurants and boutique hotels. It is a multi-faceted city where you don’t have to plan your trip but still have plenty to do if you are based in downtown Athens.

They have a dazzling array of shopping experiences from concept stores to historic shops. One place that should be high on your list of places to visit is The Naxos Apothecary. It is the oldest herbal pharmacy in Athens.

The exposed labs will immediately attract your attention. You can observe the preparation of herbal remedies, face creams and fragrances. The Korres products you are likely to find in your home countries. However, the tailor-made face creams and bath products of The Naxos Apothecary product collection are worth purchasing. They feature a set of five fragrances inspired and named after some of the most breathtaking villages of Naxos.

Next door to the apothecary is the newly opened xenodocheio Milos boutique hotel. It is the perfect base for you to explore the city, being a short walk away from Syntagma Square. It’s the Athens equivalent of Trafalgar Square. It is the first luxury hotel from the world-renowned restaurant group, estiatorio Milos. They’ve offered elevated Greek cuisine specialising in seafood since 1979 when it was founded in Montreal.

The hotel oozes effortless elegance from the moment you step out of your car in front of the hotel. It is a 19th-century neo-classical building that was designated a landmark building by the Ministry of Culture in 1979. It is situated opposite the Old Parliament House which is now the National History Museum.

The rooms have a serene minimalist style and soothing wooden panelling that are reminiscent of Nobu Hotels. Even though they have 43 rooms only. It’s sub-divided into nine categories from your entry-level classic room to the neoclassical apartment, that is the Milos signature suite. Most of the rooms enjoy mesmerising views of the Old Parliament House or Lycabettus Hill. The summit of the latter is the highest point in central Athens.

They make exceptional use of the window area by creating a cushioned nook area, which is perfect for reading a book whilst admiring the flow of Athenians in the downtown area.

Only the very best amenities will do at xenodocheio Milos. You’ll find Simmons luxury mattresses, a Nespresso coffee machine, and an Alessi Kettle Machine. You won’t be surprised to find the toiletries are made exclusively for the hotel by The Naxos Apothecary next door. They even provide dental kits which is a rarity at most 5-star hotels.

Even though the mini-bar isn’t complimentary, it is well worth trying out the handpicked treats on display. They include Popy’s gourmet popcorn, luxury Leonidas milk chocolate and a dry “Enotria” red from the Douloufakis Winery.

You can’t talk of their hotel without mentioning their outstanding restaurant. They have branches throughout the world including London, New York and Miami. The clean design of the restaurant works perfectly with the rest of the hotel. It was designed by renowned architects, Divercity Architects.

Prominent in the design is an artist’s interpretation of a fisherman’s net on the ceiling. That is a gentle clue to the main focus of their restaurant: supremely fresh seafood. The menu includes signature dishes such as whole fish baked in sea salt and lobster from Nova Scotia either grilled or served with pasta Athenian style.

Even the breakfast buffet is filled with Greek delights. You are served with fresh juice and a break basket including Koulouri, the iconic Greek sesame bread ring. The buffet station has the signature spanakopita. The eggs of your choice cooked to order are served with local tomatoes, cheese and a smattering of olives.

Service is attentive yet discreet and you never have to wait long for any dishes to arrive. They truly embody the Greek philosophy of ‘philoxenia’, which means an act of hospitableness and welcome. Note the in-room dining is 24 hrs and carried out by the kitchen team from estiatorio Milos.

They do offer an ELEMIS SPA Suite, which is all about ‘evexia’, the Greek word for well-being. Their deeply relaxing aromatherapy massage will unwind any modern-day stresses within 60 minutes. They use Mediterranean essential oils including extracts of bitter orange, cardamon and ginger.

The massage begins with inhalation exercises and ends with a mist of Aloe Vera sprayed over the body. I would strongly recommend booking in advance as they only have one SPA suite.

Alternative dining options in the area are in abundance. Most are independently run restaurants that offer a wide variety of cuisines.
Asian food is particularly well-represented in the area.

You can enjoy comforting ramen at So so so! on Apollonos Street and in fact, most of the neighbouring restaurants offer Asian cuisine. If you want high-quality yet casual-dining sushi, there is Akira Japanese restaurant. If you fancy some aromatic Vietnamese food, there is Hanoi Vietnamese restaurant. And finally, baos are all the rage in Athens. You can enjoy very affordable baos at Thess Bao with unusual combinations like their mushroom ‘gyros’ which is served with cannabis oil.

Athens is a truly vibrant city bursting with individuality. Make sure you check out my recommendations when you are next in Greece.

For more information on the hotel, please visit –