BEST OF BALI, PART-2

Well, I have shared quite a bit and continue to do so for our love for Bali should come across loud and clear. In this post, let me highlight few experiences which you too can indulge in on your next holiday.

1.Bali Safari and Marine Park- It is slightly expensive but for someone like me who hasn’t ever experienced night safari before- we didn’t think much but just went ahead and booked! I would say- it made for a fascinating experience moving around and getting to feed the animals through the caged bus and then ending the evening with a cultural performance and dinner. In our case, we took out that extra moolah for some chilled beer! I must add that the way the entire tour is handled is very smooth and professional!

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2. Bali Swing- It is truly a wonderland for a girl who loves Instagram. You can take the experience a notch higher by hiring an outfit and professional photographer from the site itself. But be ready to stand in a long line waiting to experience the Swing.

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3. Spa Time- Well, when in Bali- a good massage session is a must! While most hotels do have worthwhile spas, you can always explore quality and standalone spas too. We experienced the Sundari Day Spa in Seminyak for a foot massage and absolutely loved it, half way through the service both husband and I had dozed off which for me is a sign of an excellent experience.

4. Uluwatu Temple- Well, in case you are staying in Seminyak, then I would recommend heading to Uluwatu for a day trip. You should visit the temple too! I have to say the location of the temple would leave you awe-struck!

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6. Seminyak Village- It is a cute little mall but if you are looking at buying some quick gifts for family and friends back home, then I would definitely recommend this place. Also, its location definitely makes it very convenient to visit!

Ubud & Us…

Well, this was my first time to Bali and my husband’s and mine first time ever to Ubud and while after all the wedding madness- I was quite kicked to visit what seemed from pictures like a very relaxed place, my husband- Ishan wasn’t too excited but on reaching Ubud- we both were instantly on the same page and absolutely fell in love with it!

I feel Ubud is nice quiet, the quiet that you cherish and not the quiet that haunts you.

Here’s sharing few notes on Ubud and I truly hope that they come handy on your next visit!

Our Stay: We stayed at Alaya Resort which was on a fun and relatively bustling street. But just putting it out there quite clear that Ubud didn’t feel like a place for night-outs, so don’t really expect otherwise. We loved our hotel- the staff was extremely helpful, the pool though small was fun, the breakfast spread was decent and delicious and yes we were truly happy with our room as it was really well done up and from the balcony- we were witness to ample greenery.

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Shopping: Truthfully, by my normal standards I didn’t shop much but I did pick up lovely stuff for our home. Also, you can pick up amazing gifts such as handmade jewellery, dream-catchers, cane bags and so on. Also, the boutiques though very fancy stocking fashionable stuff are on the expensive side.

Food: There are umpteen options to binge!

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We quite liked this placed called Simply Social! Also, we tried coffee at several cafes and at all places it was really good! Also, when in Ubud, a smoothie bowl is a must!

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Nearby Attractions: I have never before been on a Night Safari and opted to go with the husband and it truly made for a worthwhile experience. Also, Bali Swing is a must for those looking for lots of instagrammable pictures and take our advise, hire their photography services. Both places offered meals and we decided to end the Night Safari with a cold beer each!

I must add that there are several waterfalls in the vicinity and a visit to at least one is a must!

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We loved to walk around so I’d suggest carry/wear comfortable shoes, sunscreen is a must as the sun was strong while we were there at least which is beginning December. There are several temples throughout Ubud- we definitely did stop by at one of them! There are also plenty of Departmental Stores where you can pick up your essentials from! We didn’t really visit the Monkey Forest as we got a feel just walking past it but you could plan a visit there!

On our next trip- we are looking at trying several spa treatments, visiting the rice fields and yes some yoga classes for me 🙂 Ubud, call us back soon! And I have to say that every local we encountered was a gem and ever so cheerful and helpful!

Happy Travelling!
Sonali

Memorable Eat-outs in Hyderabad

Hey everyone, apologies for having been missing in action but well, I am back with something fun and exciting!!!

As work takes me to Hyderabad multiple times-I thought why not share with you all some of my favourite meals and places you must check out when in Hyderabad next! Trust me, the food in the city wouldn’t disappoint you even a bit! So in no particular order, here are few of my recommendations…

1. The Food Court at Ikea,Gachibowli- Well, I was damn hungry so the meal here was a good respite. This makes it to my list for the different experience it offered and is worth exploring specially when you have had a hard day shopping!!!IMG_2468

2. Fab Cafe, Banjara Hills-Hyderabad is also lucky to house this gem! I absolutely loved their twist to the mainline dishes. My favourites here include the Tri-Grain Papdi Chaat Medley, Spicy Sprout Filled Golgappa and Chocolate Cake.A5AB1F79-60E8-47DC-AC89-AAA0F1FF2FEA (1)

3. The Glass Onion, Boulder Hills Golf & Country Club, Gachibowli- Truthfully, I have never really had a bad meal here. Each time around, the taste and presentation have been on point. While evenings here are amazing with the golf course in the backdrop, the Sunday Brunch is equally fun and leaves you with much to choose from! On a regular day, I would definitely order the Quinoa Avocado Chaat and Broccoli Cheese Kebab!

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4. Ulavacharu, Jubilee Hills & Gachibowli– It serves authentic South Indian Telugu cuisine and is a good place to taste the local food. However, to be honest I have had both good and ordinary experiences here but the reason for that I blame on poor ordering. So, be very clear with what you want and they would be happy to help!

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5. Exotica, Banjara Hills- I absolutely love their Mughlai and North Indian food. Their Roti Pe Boti and Galouti Kebab are absolutely divine. For me they are among the best for North Indian food in Hyderabad! And to add to that, the ambience of the place is pleasant and soothing!
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6. Sante Spa Cuisine, Jubilee Hills– The food here is made with healthy ingredients without compromising on the taste factor. And for someone like me who is quite conscious of my food intake, a healthy eat-out option is absolutely a great idea!!! Their Valrhona Chocolate Pie with an oat flour base was absolutely heavenly so much so that we ordered it twice and so were the Thai Spiced Fish Cakes!

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7. The Fisherman’s Wharf- Well, this place absolutely has my heart. Ask me why? One of the major reasons is that it quickly disconnects you from the city life and that itself is a super reason to keep visiting this place. Their food and drinks are worthwhile as well but trust me, the vibe of the place pretty much takes you to Goa in no time!

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8. Feast, Sheraton Hotel, Gachibowli- It totally lives up to its name and makes for a memorable feast. The Sunday Brunch is absolutely worth visiting. Take my pro tip, have a light breakfast and then, have a meal to remember and let it be stretched outing!

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9. Yi Jing, ITC Kohenur, Madhapur- This is another top favourite of mine and no matter how many times I have been here, each time around the experience has only been better than before. We swear by Chef Shloke Chhabra’s recommendations and he does not disappoint ever! If you are on a look-out for a quality Chinese meal, this is it!

Here’s wishing you the best meals and experiences in Hyderabad and I look forward to sharing much more with you all!

Love,
Sonali

Time for Tea Party!

Hey, while it is the best time to be on a vacation right now but there is never really a bad time to have friends and family over, right?

So for those like me who have weekdays packed with work, sometimes hosting lunches or late evening plans may seem tough but I truly reckon the new age way to party is to organize fun and tasteful tea parties. Trust me when I say this that I feel people are still not so exhausted to meet in the evening, it doesn’t require so much effort and you are pretty much going to find this concept as a breath of fresh air.

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Yes, even the present generation can have fun at tea time. So, here are some tips to help you plan your ultimate tea party-

  1. Colour Theme- I always like my main table done up really well so we could fill up our vases with nice flowers- go for pink and white or yellow and white. Else, you could stick to pastels. Make sure some basics like napkins, plates and the like are in line with your colour theme.
  2. The Tea- Make sure you have a variety on offer. Don’t forget that Tea has to be the highlight and why not? There are just so many variations available. However, do not serve something you have not tried before, please! So there must be a house favourite which should be pouring. Then lay out the rest for the guests to try-out and to involve them, this could make for a perfect “DIY” activity. Also, keep the essential ingredients readily available such as Milk, sugar, honey and lemon. When in India- Masala Tea be a hot favourite. Another favourite of mine which got to make the list is the Chamomile Tea. What would be helpful would be to display the Tea Menu!

    Also, you could offer some cooler versions like Iced Tea on the menu as well.

  3. Food Factor- Like any party, you can’t ditch or ignore this aspect even a bit! Here are some of our recommendations:

    -Scones with Nice Berry Toppings and Whipped Cream OR a Pastry Platter
    -Mushroom Quiche
    -Finger Sandwiches (these are done well at most homes)
    -Cookies (a variety here would sure win hearts)
    -Cake (we absolutely love the Victorian Vanilla Cake from The Daily Gourmet and we usually add some Orange Marmalade to it)
    -Chocolate Muffins (again think no more and use the ones from The Daily Gourmet as they are so easy to make)
    -Fries (everyone loves them no matter what the age)
    -Cheese & Crackers
    -Fruit Platter
    -Last but not the least, no Indian Tea party is ever complete without Samosas so this is a definite winner always!

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  4. Dress Code- Well why not? How about nice floral dresses with hats? In case you feel that is a little over the top for you then how about everyone dressing up in white?
  5. Value Additions- Soft Music is a good idea and you can have some tarts or muffins as giveaways for all! And keeping some games which can be played as guests sip on their tea is a fabulous idea.

Pro Tip: There would be lots of used tea bags- make sure you station a small bin to dump them. And, warm water must be available throughout!

Perks of staying in Pratunam, Bangkok

Well, with the airport less than an hour away, there sure are some fancy perks of staying in the bustling Pratunam area of Bangkok.
 
Talking from experience, I have thoroughly enjoyed my stay at hotels in Pratunam on each of my trips besides the times I have stayed with my friends at their residence in Sukhumvit.

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Be on a Shopping Spree:
 
There is never a dull moment especially when you are staying in this area. During the day, no matter how much time you spend- you shall still be left wanting for more at the Platinum Fashion Mall. What’s more is that a newer building of the mall has been developed as well. 
From clothes to bags to shoes to accessories to beauty products-this one is an absolute haven for girls and from the point of convenience- there is a floor where you can leave behind the love of your life or even better if he is not accompanying you, then take back something for him from that floor.

One of my personal favourite shops is the Pink Pvssy for their gorgeous and stylish clutches.
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Handy Hacks for the Platinum Fashion Mall:
 
1. If there is anything particular you have in mind- seek their Help Desk and they give you the exact shop numbers dealing with the requested category of products.
 
2. Their food court is a must visit, there are ample choices and you would get a very affordable meal.
 
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3. Carry a big empty bag as you land up shopping enough to stress your arms and hands- a bag with wheels would be a true blessing.
 
And, for the tech-savy, just few steps away is the Pantip Plaza.
As you step out of the Mall, do grab a slice of Pizza at Crispy Pizza or a Japanese Soft Serve at  Demi Concept or how about some Mango Sticky Rice?
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Some of the other malls not too far would be:
 
Almost a 10 minutes ride away would be the very well known MBK Mall and then not too far from MBK are the Siam Malls for all the branded shopping.
And must mention my current favourite- Central World.
 
And, as the sun sets down- the streets of Pratinum also liven up further with the night markets. My recent most discovery was the Neon Night Market- it was quite fun and casual.
 
However, a market I truly recommend for the evening would be Asiatique The Riverfront  which though would be about half an hour away from Pratunam but would be totally worth the visitThere are plenty of shops, amazing restaurants by the river, live entertainment and there is just this fabulous festivity in the air.
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Hotels at Pratunam, My picks would be:

 –Centara Watergate Pavillion Hotel- you would love their breakfast and land up clicking umpteen pictures here for sure!
 
The Berkeley Hotel-the room size is a complete luxury and we thoroughly relished all the dishes we ordered in our rooms. The location for me was perfect.
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When looking for hotels, make sure you cross-check that it is not too in the interiors or isolated as then you would be far-off from the action. 
 
Binging Big:

Just about five minutes away from the Platinum Mall is this cute place called Hungry Nerd. From their pasta to their burgers- I have always loved everything here.
Another favourite place in this area which we love for desserts is the  B Story Cafe.
 

Hope this information comes handy and connectivity isn’t really an issue with Grab, regular cabs, tuk-tuk and so on.

 
Wishing you an ever amazing trip to Thailand!
xoxo,
Sonali

For the love of Health- Sante Spa Cuisine, Hyderabad

So, while it has been a while since I last posted here, I am extremely excited to share with you, all about a fun yet unconventional dining experience (it’s an all day eat-out) in the heart of Hyderabad, i.e. Sante Spa Cuisine in Banjara Hills. Before you get thinking that there is a spa twist to this as well, hold on as there isn’t but the food here promises to be made with the choicest of healthy ingredients without compromising on the taste factor. And for someone like me who is quite conscious of my food intake but has been travelling quite a bit in the recent teams, a healthy eat-out is absolutely a great idea!!!

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Getting Started- They have an elaborate menu on offer and just because their offerings are healthy does not mean that they have a limited menu! You in fact, would land up spending some good amount of time mulling over what really to order. In the starters, the Thai Spiced Fish Cakes totally won our hearts!!!

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WOW Factor- Well, for a pizza lover, pizza on the order is a must! And believe it or not but most of their pizzas have a Ragi Base! And as you can see our pizza was very colourful and trust me, very tasteful as well!

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Sweet Endings- You have to really love a dessert to ask for a repeat, right? Their Valrhona Chocolate Pie with an oat flour base was absolutely divine!

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Lastly, its not a compact but a rather well spread out outlet with a good vibe to it!!! And we were told the Activated Charcoal Lemonade is a must order as well. You can even buy their homemade healthy cookies…The owner was extremely welcoming and we truly believe much hard work is going in to deliver a very international yet healthy experience! Having said all this, as I have visited here- I am happy that I have been able to get another tick on my- MUST VISIT PLACES IN HYDERABAD list 🙂

Best,
Sonali

HIGH ON HOTELS: Swissôtel Amsterdam

It is not an unknown fact that we absolutely love and adore Amsterdam. The place has a fun and cozy vibe which is very inviting and we just cannot wait for our next visit there. Today, in our High on Hotels series, we are throwing light on a boutique hotel situated in our favourite-Amsterdam which looks extremely impressive and comfortable. So, sit back and enjoy this beauty of a property as we get chatting with its representative…

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Q: Why a stay here would prove to be the most memorable one?
A: Swissôtel Amsterdam offers outstanding, personalized service- making guests feel comfortable and at home. The staff goes above and beyond for their guests and has a lot of knowledge regarding the city and its activities and is always there to help and inform guests. Furthermore, the location of Swissôtel Amsterdam gives guests direct access to shopping, public transport and the main tourist attractions. A few minutes away you will also find the famous Body Worlds, Madame Tussauds and Royal Palace.

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Q: What all facilities would you find in the room?
A:
Every room has a Nespresso machine and tea- free of charge and a mini bar at an additional charge. Furthermore, guests can enjoy complimentary wireless access and every room has a pillow menu, where people can find different pillow types that can be requested at reception.

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Q: Elaborate on the facilities in the hotel for in-house guests?
A: All guests have free access to the Swissôtel Amsterdam Fitness featuring state-of-the-art TechnoGym equipment and to the business centre which offers complimentary internet access and light snacks.

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Q: A must try restaurant in the hotel and why?
A: Swissôtel Amsterdam does not have its own, in-house restaurant. However, right next to Swissôtel Amsterdam- you can find the restaurant ROYAL98, which offers seats with a view on the famous Dam Square. ROYAL98 opened up last year and offers delicious, fresh wood oven pizzas and pastas as well as more international dishes such as sandwiches, cakes, burgers and Dutch Bitterballen. And don’t forget to try the typical Dutch dessert-Trio of Stroopwafel. Hotel guests can also enjoy the buffet breakfast or A la carte breakfast for an additional charge.

Q: Please throw some light on the USP of the hotel?
A: The prime location on the Dam Square and personalized service would be our USP.

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Q: Could you share a little about the connectivity of the hotel?
A: There is a tram stop right in front of the hotel, which is connected to the most important stops in the city. Furthermore, the metro and train stations are situated on a 7 minutes’ walk, connecting to the other areas of Amsterdam and Schiphol Airport.

Q: Further to the earlier question, what is the easiest way to get to the hotel from the airport?
A: By train, you arrive at Amsterdam Central Station within 30 minutes, then it is a 7 minutes’ walk to the hotel. Swissôtel Amsterdam can also arrange a taxi to pick guests up from the airport at an additional charge.

Q: For all the prospective guests and shopping lovers, please tell us about the closest shopping hub to the hotel?
A: Next to the hotel- the famous warehouse ‘De Bijenkorf’ can be found, other warehouses ‘Magna Plaza’ and ‘Hudson’s Bay’ are on a 5 minutes’ walk and the main shopping street is right behind the hotel with stores of all the popular brands such as Pull&Bear and Forever21.

Q: Lastly, if one got back at 2 am to the hotel, what is it that one would get to eat?
A: Swissôtel Amsterdam offers 24/7 room service, with offerings such as pizza, pasta, sandwiches and ice cream.

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Pictures Courtesy: Swissôtel Amsterdam