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

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

Address Home: Ten Glorious Years

We reckon the transformation of a house to a home takes place with love in abundance… Hence, one lands up adding some special pieces with much love to one’s haven of love. And we all like being selective and exclusive as far as our preferences for home decor are concerned as this space speaks much about us and our loved ones as well as our personalities.

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A brand which has impressed us for many years, ten to be precise is Address Home for each time around we have encountered its offerings, we have only been impressed.

Address Home like most would know-creates and curates a world-class range of premium linen, dining, accessories, lighting & furniture; focusing on quality craftsmanship with an eclectic-chic design sensibility.

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And there never has been or nor there would be lack of quality options at Address Home for there is always something for everyone- affluent or aspirational, traditional or trendy. Rajat Singhi, Founder & Creative Director says, “Each customer, each guest in our store is unique, and we respect them for their decorating style. And change is constant in design, especially in India. Our stores are usually in very high footfall areas and we have about sixty percent of repeat customers, who step into our store once every month or two. They want to see newness all the time. So, we have to be on our toes all the time, to keep offering newness and the quirkiness that Address Home stands for.”

The brand takes pride in ensuring top quality and worthwhile creativity with each expansion step that it takes! The brand has grown to 13 exclusive stores in a decade covering 11 cities, and with their online foray they now cater to 300 cities PAN-India and have an international presence with worldwide shipping.

The brand has reached a commendable milestone of completing ten years and reflecting on its journey so far…It all started with converting a car mechanic’s shed into a hi-end retail store at Raghuvanshi Mills, Mumbai. From the look and feel of the store, to lay- outing and visual merchandising, every little detail was seen by Mr. Singhi in person. He reminisces by saying, “It was an amazing success. I remember my first few months when I was there personally, I used to attend to each and every customer and listen to their feedback. It was very enriching to hear them gasp in awe and delight that finally something like this had come to Mumbai or to India for that matter.”

Well, that is quite a success story and here’s wishing them the very best always and hoping to newer chapters of success being added to theirs for explosive growth is expected in the coming years!!!

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Also, log on to- www.addresshome.com

Travel & Me…

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Well, I don’t know what really intrigued me to write this piece but I am still going to go ahead and pour my feelings and emotions about my magical and intense relationship with Travel!

As far as I can remember, I have always loved to travel. No matter what age I was- I was excited each time around mom or dad would announce details of our next holiday. As kids, I’d say our holidays mostly (not all) were to safe and well known places. In the sense, the kind of holidays you usually expect families to take so that minimum risk is involved with going wrong.

A place now not necessarily on one’s “Places to Travel List”- Mussoorie, the “Queen of Hills” as it’s been referred to, made for a constant holiday for us every summer break. To be honest, at times we would detest the monotony. But in today’s times of rampant change- I am glad we as a family had some sense of tradition which got followed and now we do have this treasured trunk of memories. I am not saying monotony was essential but maybe simplicity was. I am thrilled that we tasted the simple things in life as now luxury is more available with growing up.

I mean going pretty much packed in a family car with limited leg room, stocking up everyone’s favourite munchies to share on the way, then heading to modest yet long standing restaurants for their specialties such as Chole Bhature at The Green Vegetarian Restaurant, Steamed Momos at The Rice Bowl, Omellete at the Lovely Omellete Centre or even the Maggie at Char Dukan. All this only added much more flavour to one’s holiday. Best part was that there was little to no “Me Time” and there was a lot of “OUR TIME”. There were little to no selfies but a lot more memories etched in one’s heart.

To be honest, this isn’t a critique of times today necessarily but just a little jiggle for each one of us to be able to enjoy our holidays or family time more. Also, what I didn’t realize then- I wish I am fortunate enough to gift my kids some sense of legacy- in the sense, I visited Mussoorie 24 years in a row straight and that’s not it, this is something which was started during my father’s childhood.  I mean there is no such thing as lack of options but today, I feel blessed to talk about something rather unique even amidst that monotony.

And not to say we just made it to the “Queen of Hills” as a family, we went to the beaches, we went to some really nice heritage properties, we went to some more hills and we also made several road trips. My first flight as well as first foreign trip didn’t come so early but I am glad it didn’t else maybe I would have been devoid of the simple pleasures. For instance, having my father wait as I wrote my final exam to quickly rush to the train station to catch our overnight train to Goa wherein the whole family occupied close to ten beds. Not sure if I’ll do it now but I am glad we did it then as I wouldn’t swap that for anything else!

Today, my job and passion to travel has taken me to several places and I must confess that each place has been ultra-special for me-maybe because there were a lot of firsts attached to them and also for the sheer pleasure of touring on one’s own earnings.

I have to say that my love for travel was triggered during my childhood days and I am glad and grateful to parents and family for ensuring we traveled enough. I pretty much convinced myself of being a travel writer but though that plan didn’t materialize fully (no regrets) – I pretty much got my wings on in my early 20’s and so intensified my relationship with travel.

Here are few snippets of some really special experiences at some really special places-

  1. Thailand, 2012- This one was extremely special as my father let me go by self for the first time to visit friends in Bangkok and Pattaya. I was pleasantly surprised with his decision. And what an empowering feeling- I suddenly felt more responsible and just loved life a little bit more. And not to miss adding- visiting Phuket a year later to indulge in water sports like never before- I feel several fears got conquered at that very instance. Also, Bangkok continues to be special as I have experienced some of the top quality properties, thanks to my blog!
  2. Japan, 2014- I learnt the sense of gratitude and compassion from the most wonderful people I encountered in Tokyo. And in general, the build up to the trip inculcated much faith in self as well as courage and confidence…On a side note, I learnt how to spend 12 hours at the airport if you have a connecting flight 😉
  3. Sri Lanka, 2015- Witnessing the tea gardens of Nuwara Eliya was like my mini encounter with Switzerland!
  4. Bangkok, 2016- This was with family and our special toddler (my nephew), the joy of gifting a holiday to my mom- priceless!
  5. Europe, 2016- What do I say about this one? The trip comprised of my solo visit to Istanbul- sounds fancy but did require much preparation within and out to take it on! But really there was an entire sense of self-discovery during those two days. Then came Amsterdam, Paris and Berlin with my best friend- of course we had some wonderful experiences and ticking off a few things from my wish-list including watching a tennis grand slam live but what it truly made me realize was the richness of a bond that had been nurtured. The way my best friend took care of me, the giggles we shared, the confessions we made- wow, I can see us doing that even at 80!

I must reiterate that I haven’t kicked aside the simple pleasures from my trip, this year itself I thoroughly cherished my trip to Udaipur with my cousin where the simple satisfaction of visiting a temple or being on a boat to absorb the surroundings were truly memorable.

And there is so much more… I can’t thank my job enough for letting me taste immaculate food of Kolkata, treating my eyes to the skyline of Dubai, refreshing my senses in Nepal, indulging in Ayurvedic massages in Kovalam and exploring other cities and their unique offerings such as Bengaluru, Chennai and Mumbai amongst others!

 

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Gokarna Forest Resort, Kathmandu

Lastly, as the quote goes, “Not all those who wander are lost”- I love to wander every now and then, but trust me- mostly my travels have great purpose as they usually do add more purpose to my life!

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Here’s to my endless wanderlust!!!
-Sonali

HIGH ON HOTELS: THE DYLAN

Amsterdam… what more do we say that we have not said in admiration of this city? Well, continuing with our public display of affection (P.D.A. you see) for this city, next in our High on Hotel series- we getting chatting with the representatives of another extremely credible and worthwhile hotel- The Dylan, so sit back and enjoy!

Q: Why a stay here would prove to be the most memorable one?
A: The Dylan consist of 40 rooms and suites. All the rooms are individually designed in different styles. The Dylan Amsterdam is located in the heart of the city center and in “de negen straatjes” district. In “de negen straatjes” you can discover different galleries, boutiques, bars and eateries. Personal attention and high-quality service isn’t something we have to explain to our staff –at the Dylan it comes naturally.  Our guests are always our priority. The guests can have a perfectly crafted coffee or one of our signature cocktails at Bar Brasserie OCCO, an exquisite dinner at our Michelin Star restaurant Vinkeles or they can relax in our lounge by the fireplace.

All in one, The Dylan offers a refined, modern decor along with unparalleled, personalized service and a five-star product.
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Q: What all facilities would you find in the room?
A: We have the following comfort in the rooms: Air-conditioning, Bose sound system with Bluetooth iPod connection, safe, minibar, telephone, television, work desk (incl. USA adapter), “Frette” bathrobes, linens and slippers, James Heeley bath amenities and a magnifying mirror. Also, there are tea and coffee facilities, free Wi-Fi and 24 hours room service.

Q: Elaborate on the facilities in the hotel for in-house guests?
A: The Dylan Amsterdam has different facilities. Bar brasserie OCCO, Michelin restaurant Vinkeles, fitness room, a cozy lounge, garden, massages, bicycles, concierge service and free Wi-Fi.

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Q: A must try restaurant in the hotel and why?
A: We have two must try restaurants in The Dylan. One of them is Restaurant Vinkeles. The intimate and historic setting offers the perfect mood to enjoy the cooking of Chef Dennis Kuipers and his team. His modern French cuisine with its international twist, often described as “exciting, modest and refined”, has been awarded a Michelin star in 2009.

Bar Brasserie OCCO is a distinct cosmopolitan eatery with menus highlighting handcrafted cocktails and creative cuisine drawn from local Dutch influences and producers. A perfect, more casual alternative to Restaurant Vinkeles.

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Q: Please throw some light on the USP of the hotel?
A: One of the unique selling points of The Dylan Amsterdam is the location. The rooms have a view over the canals or our garden. The Dylan offers refined and modern décor along with personalized service. Another unique selling point is our the Michelin star restaurant and our beautiful secluded garden.
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Q: Could you share a little about the connectivity of the hotel?
A: The Dylan Amsterdam is perfectly reachable with public transportation. The tram station at the Keizersgracht or Elandsgracht is within walking distance (5 minutes).

Q: Further to the earlier question, what is the easiest way to get to the hotel from the airport?
A: The easiest way to get to the hotel from the airport is with a taxi but the hotel is easily reachable by public transportation.

Q: For all the prospective guests and shopping lovers, please tell us about the closest shopping hub to the hotel?
A: The Dylan Amsterdam is located in “de negen straatjes” (The nine streets).  These streets are the connection between the four main canals. Vintages stores, alternative fashion and specialized theme stores can be found there. The nine streets is also an excellent location for a good cup of coffee and to escape from the busier streets in Amsterdam.

Q: Lastly, if one got back at 2 am to the hotel, what is it that one would get to eat?
A: There are many things that you can eat when you get back to the hotel at 2 am. For example, for a big appetite-we offer pizza, roasted steak with fries, different kinds of wraps and more. Next to this, we have different options for a late night snack. Think of veal “bitterballen” or Dutch shrimp croquettes.

Pictures Curtesy: The Dylan Amsterdam

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