In February I travelled to Cuba for my first time and fell in love with this incredible island, frozen in time and full of magic. It felt like I’d dropped on the face of the planet. For most of the trip I had no internet, no phone, no email, just the camera and a paper map… though I’d use the term ‘map’ loosely.
I’ve never been big on camping on account of having to sleep on the ground in a dewy tent, which inevitably turns into an incubator come sunrise. That said, I love the outdoors and I’m always down for an adventure, I’m just nursing a mean case of asthma.
A couple weeks ago in Mexico however I landed at Serenity Luxury Eco Camp by Experience Hotels at Xpu-Ha Beach and had my first ever Glamping experience with tents the size of cabins, king size beds with pillow tops and properly heated showers.
This place is actually one of the coolest properties I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting. While it’s fully equipped as a resort, it still offers a unique ‘outdoor’ experience that 100% feels like an escape from the city. The grounds are decked out with Balinese artifacts and designed based on the original African Glamping concept (Yes, apparently Glamping started in Africa).
The camp is a 5-minute stroll to Xpu-Ha beach, a local hot spot lined with outdoor bars and restaurants on the sand. You can lay in the sun drinking Margs until your heart’s desire. They’ll also deliver lunch to your chair, so obviously I ate the shrimp tacos and guacamole from a horizontal position every day.
While on the topic of food, I would also like to mention one of Serenity’s breakfast dishes that is basically nachos with an egg on top – my very definition of a breakfast of champions. It is so delicious.
So if you’re not Bear Grylls but you’re down for some outdoorsy stuff, check out Serenity Eco Camp, you’ll love the change of pace.
Happy New Year, Guys! A little late, I know – but I was busy inhaling croissants and poutine in Montreal. What a city! I spent 3 days wandering around old Quebec, taking in the sites and thawing out in the cutest French cafes. It certainly wasn’t enough time to tackle the whole city, but enough to have me fall in love with it.
The Hotel is located right between the downtown and Old Montreal, so it’s walking distance to everything.
Order the club sandwich from room service. It’s $28 (I know) but it’s sooo good.
Try the Moscow Mules at the hotel bar
The Hotel Restaurant (Ê.A.T) makes a really good Almond Milk latte. This is something I don’t joke about.
Where I Ate:
Marche De La Villette – This was one of those adorable little french cafes, so adorable I went twice. Leave your diet at the door and order the Croque-monsieur. In fact order two. They taste better than skinny feels, Kate. Also, the servers here were legends, the kind of people you feel like your bff’s with by the end of your meal and who fill you in on the non-touristy hot spots. I now know the best place to get tattooed in Montreal (don’t worry Mum, I didn’t go) and where to find the best poutine (see below).
Poutine La Banquise – Ok, so I didn’t actually get to eat here. Instead the great Canadian winter graced Montreal with an ice storm and I was held captive in my hotel room drooling over the menu.
Nolan Pizzeria – It’s walking distance from the W, so out of fear of starvation, I braved the ice storm and took an uber to it. I’m big on ambiance, and this place was like something out of a 90’s rom com. I sat at the bar and ate half the menu, while waiting for John Cusak to show up with my copy of Love In The Time Of Cholera. The meatballs and the Uova Pizza were my fave.
Foiegwa – A diner-style, hipster joint. I love hipsters, and diners. Also, its right next door to a speakeasy that serves cocktails with names like Glitter Green and Dame Nature.
Maggie Oaks – This is the one place I ate that I wasn’t impressed with. The food was decent, but the service was slow. And by slow I mean ‘snail’s pace’ is a generous description. Also, my steak came out with green beans, after I explained to our server that I’m anaphylactic to peanuts, peas and beans. Hmm…
What I Saw:
I spent the better part of two days wandering around Old Montreal, getting lost in the European architecture, soaking up the culture and feeling like I should take up poetry.
The Belvédère Camillien-Houde – one of the look outs atop Mount Royal. I got there just after sunset and watched the city light up.
I had my uber driver tour around Mount Royal so I could creep the real estate. I do this in a lot of places. So many incredible homes!
Every once in a while I make a point of being a tourist in my own backyard. It’s been four months since I moved home from Sydney, and in exactly a weeks time I’m moving to New York City, so I decided it was high time to cool it on the Netflix and see what else is happening around town.
I’d never been to the Thompson Toronto before so I thought I’d hide out there for a couple days and partake in my favourite hotel activities – breakfast in bed (in response to my Insta comments – yes, there were spills), rooftop rosé’s and a whole lot of bathrobe lounging.
If you’re into views, you’re getting one of the best in the city. Yes, I know, it’s not the CN Tower – but personally I prefer looking at the tower as part of the skyline instead of testing the limits of my acrophobia from within it.
I also feel the strawberry cheesecake pancakes deserve their own personal mention here for successfully ending my carb-ban with no regrets – totally worth the cals and subsequent food baby.
All in all, it was the perfect little staycation before hopping cities again.
Every time I’m in New York I have a unique experience, and each time it’s just as incredible as the last. This is the beauty of the city! There’s a never ending list of things to see, places to eat and corners to explore.
Last week Jeff and I headed to Manhattan to be a part of the St Giles ‘Be Central’ campaign. We spent three days being “tourist”, capturing the excitement that surrounds the St Giles Hotels on the new Samsung 360 degree camera – but more on this later!
WHERE WE STAYED:
The Tuscany, A St. Giles Signature Hotel – The rooftop alone is enough to sell me on this place, but it’s location is perfect as well. The rooms are spotless and the beds are the kind you have to reason with yourself to get out of or you’d stay in them forever.
Barrio Chino in East Village – Some of my favourite tacos in New York, and I eat a lot of tacos. They also have great tunes and like 50 something kinds of tequila (I can’t remember exactly on account of sampling too many). They don’t take bookings though so get there early and put your name down!
Scotty’s Diner – I love diners. Simple, delicious food in oversized portions that’s easy on the wallet. Scotty’s is exactly this, and the guys that work here are awesome. They’re also open late!
Tavern On The Green – It’s right in Central Park and always has a good vibe. It’s a little on the pricer side, but worth it for the experience. Try a jug of the Blueberry, Mint Lemonade and then go for a stroll through the park!
Gelso & Grand Little Italy – Right in the middle of the action, the perfect vantage point for people watching and the Cucumber Smash is delish!
Pedro’s Bar in Dumbo – I’ve walked by this place on so many previous trips and always wanted to give it a try, so we did! They do massive Margarita Jugs, perfect thirst quencher after walking the Brooklyn Bridge. They did however run out of guacamole… … …