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!

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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: 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

 

Desi Desserts with a Difference

 

“Dessert is like a feel-good song and the best ones make you dance.” – chef Edward Lee

Well, the dessert brand I am going to talk about in the blog post today, for sure made me do a happy dance each time I binged on their offerings. If you have been a fan (or even not) of Indian desserts, you would be amazed by the unique and interesting range of items which they let you relish. I quite second the fact which the brand urges that Khoya is the essence of true Indian sweets wherein they use fresh and organic ingredients.
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Before we share more on our first-hand experience trying the desserts by Khoya Mithai, we thought that we would let you learn more from the one who has worked rather hard on this brand.

In Conversation with Siddharth Mathur, Director, Head – Food & Beverage, Impresario Entertainment & Hospitality Pvt Ltd…

Q: In times when the non-Indian desserts are such a rage and every now and then we get spoilt with even more choices- how did such a concept occur or did you feel that this was the need of the hour?
A: Need of the hour for sure! Indian desserts have such great heritage and a special place in our culture, we wanted to bring that back. I also enjoy non-Indian desserts, but felt that mithai was underrepresented at the higher end of the spectrum, hence Khoya was born.Khoya_27895

Q: Sweets in general are facing this constant challenge of pleasing the increasing number of diet conscious consumers, what is the most appropriate offering from your brand for them?
A: We have a delicious Date & Nut Barfi as well as the Fig Barfi both of which have no added sugar and contain ingredients that are good for you!

Q: Tell us about that one creation of yours which is a must try or the one that has been the hot-seller? Also, talk us through if any new additions are in the pipeline?
A: The Walnut Peda is not only my favourite, but has had resounding appreciation. It is made of roasted khoya filled with a slightly crunchy walnut praline filling. We have just launched 12 flavours but one of the exciting works in progress is our Orange Barfi. It is smooth, well-balanced and has a wonderful marmalade finish.
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Q: Following are few occasions, we want you to recommend one offering of yours against each which would make for the most appropriate giveaway for that occasion…
A: Okay then for,

  • Baby Shower – Walnut Peda
  • Mehendi – Pink Motichoor Ladoo
  • House Warming – Besan Ladoo
  • Christmas – Date & Nut Barfi

And of course, it’s even better is to order a mixed variety box, so that there is something for everyone!

So, now that you have heard from the man himself, I just want to say that I couldn’t stopping binging on their Walnut Peda, I have always been a Peda fan but this is something else! Also, I feel with Khoya, you get the opportunity to gift your favourite Indian desserts but in such a classy fashion. And what’s even better is the twist with which it comes, I mean I had never heard of Walnut Peda or Brown Sugar Besan Ladoo for that matter!

And lastly, even mom is a big fan of theirs now, I asked her quickly and honestly tell me, “Would you consider them for my wedding gifts?” And she replied, “Of course, YES!”
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This is one brand which you must try if you are a true desi-dessert lover!

Much Love,
Sonali

Pictures Courtesy: Khoya Mithai

HIGH ON HOTELS:KC Beach Club & Pool Villas

Okay then, having issues beating the Monday morning blues?  Breathe a sigh of relief, as we are all set to virtually take you to a true paradise called the KC Beach Club & Pool Villas at one of the most gorgeous places on Earth- Koh Samui… Hence, sit back and enjoy this latest post in our series on- High on Hotels where we get talking with their representative!

Q: Why a stay here would prove to be the most memorable one?
A: Our chic retreat is located in the heart of Chaweng Beach which is known to be the best party place on Koh Samui. This amazing beach has soft, white sand, a shallow turquoise sea and a big variety of leisure and sports programs.
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Q: What all facilities would you find in the room?
A: This new stylish Beach Club Hotel has a total of 42 units: each room has a king-size bed and sofa, bathroom with Jacuzzi bath and rain shower. The rooms are equipped with in-room technology such as 42” LCD Satellite and Cable TV. Each room also disposes of air condition, in-room safe, minibar, complimentary tea and coffee facilities, bathrobes, hair dryer and complimentary Wi-Fi.
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KC Beach Club located on central Chaweng beach, Koh Samui, Suratthani, Thailand

Q: Elaborate on the facilities in the hotel for in-house guests?
A: In our resort, guests can experience two swimming pools, NEO Restaurant, Pool Bar or massage at beachfront sala. There is free shuttle bus to our sister 5 star resort where guests can utilize local spa and fitness center. Not to forget mentioning about the Saturday Pool Party with professional DJ, hostesses to serve delicious cocktails, plus excellent entertainment from saxophone players, drummers and dancers, also there is an international buffet prepared by our Chef.
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Q: A must try restaurant in the hotel and why?
A: Savour the delectable flavours of fine cuisine at Neo Restaurant, Koh Samui’s most fashionable dining venue located at KC Beach Club & Pool Villas. Feel the sea breeze from the open air dining terrace and gaze in awe at the panoramic views of Chaweng Beach as you browse through the mouthwatering menu of carefully selected dishes. Our experienced chef creates classic flavors with the freshest local ingredients including seafood, herbs, chilies and more and presents them in a way that looks almost too good to eat.
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Q: Please throw some light on the USP of the hotel?
A: If you are looking for a prime location, fashionable beach club, great music club, entertainment, bar and restaurant, modern accommodation, friendly staff and guests from all over the world-KC Beach Club & Pool Villas is the best choice for a perfect vacation!

Q: What is the easiest way to get to the hotel from the airport?
A: The easiest way to get to KC Beach is to book airport transfer provided by hotel or take outside taxi. We are located just 10 minutes away from the Koh Samui airport.

 Q: For all the prospective guests and shopping lovers, please tell us about the closest shopping hub to the hotel?
A: The closest shopping mall “Central Festival Samui” is situated in the heart of Chaweng and it is only 5 minutes from our resort. This mall describes itself as “the most complete and largest lifestyle shopping complex in Samui”.

Q: Lastly, if one got back at 2 am to the hotel, what is it that one would get to eat?
A: Our resort take last order at 22:30, however around us you can find many restaurants and small shops, which you can reach within walking distance.

 

Pictures Courtesy: KC Beach Club & Pool Villas