Tucked away in the West End this great restaurant serves contemporary Scottish food in a great setting. The Bothy manages to have staff in kilts and irn-bru sorbet on the menu, but still has an upmarket, elegant feel.
Ruthven Lane, Off Byres Road. Opposite Hillhead Subway station
Even cities with a cultural standing as magnificent as Oxford have their sleazy little corners. Not much bigger than the inside of a bus, Downtown Manhattan's is the cheesy dive where no-one wants to end up but everyone always does.
3 George Street; tel: 01865 721101; proximity usually indicated by a trail of pavement pizzas
Has been called the greatest neo-classical building in the world. It is certainly impressive and is the heart of the newly formed 'cultural quarter' in Liverpool. Liverpool Walker Art Gallery and Musuem are only a five-minute walk away on the impressive William Brown Street
Opposite Liverpool Lime Street Station and the Empire Theatre
Albert Dock on the waterfront. Classy bar with booths and lounge for glammed up crowd. The best reason for visiting is the huge bay windows that at night show a lit up albert dock with the Liver Building in the distance.
Albert Dock, 10 mins walk from Liverpool Lime Street
Jericho is an area just a brief walk from Oxford, but feels a million miles away - great shops (especially the antique places, and charity shops) a few bar's (Branca - they serve menabrea beer which is one of the world's best), fish restuarants, bookshops, deli's, cafe's and of course the Jericho pub AND a cinema - independent of course.
All you need is a Tom Baker scarf and a bike and you'll fit it. Great place to have a wander and see what Oxford life is like...
Walking into The Bell felt as good as discovering buried treasure.
They have an unparalleled selection of local ales and ciders and a beautiful (and partially covered) beer garden.
The sandwiches are large, inexpensive, and delicious. If memory serves me correctly, all sandwiches are veggie-friendly.
We intended to stay for an hour, and ended up staying all night.
Walcot St, Bath
A hotel in Brighton Marina is not necessarily an enticing prospect - the marina is soulless and a mile and a half out of the town centre but for a place where town centre hotels are either mediocre or often booked, the Seattle is worth considering as an alternative. It is modern, has sea and marina views (though if like me you are in a car park view room this can be positively irritating). It has a boutiquey feel - large beds with white linen, huge shower heads and bento boxes for breakfast - and a really excellent young staff, good room service and a decent restaurant and bar.Interconnecting rooms and a positive effort to attract families make it a good place to bring kids - as long as you don't mind the £6 taxi fare into town.
A restaurant right on the shoreline (in the arches almost directly the below the Grand Hotel) which sources excellent organic produce with an eye to environmental sustainability. Very good modern British food - excellent fat chips, sirloin, absolutely delicious Dover sole and cracking fish soup are among the highlights - and leave room for pudding if you can. Pricey but far better value than similar London joints.
The Tate Liverpool is a nice intimate museum with a few gems of modern art, and depending in the exhibition and it offers something different to the Tate in that there London. Early or late midweek is the best time to enjoy it, as it's quiet and not so many tourists... if you go late, have a cocktail or two at Baby Cream just across the way... c'est tres tres disco chic.
Tate Liverpool, Albert Docks
Anthony Bourdain, the New York chef turned best-selling author, is moving to Vietnam because he loves Vietnamese food so much.
Fortunately, Londoners without his resources can find excellent Vietnamese nosh in Hackney. The section of Kingsland Road just past Shoreditch is a veritable gauntlet of Vietnamese restaurants, but the Loong Kee Cafe is a standout.
Like most Vietnamese restaurants, the decor is simple, although it has had to up its game with the plethora of competition. The formica tops have been replaced by a more inviting matt surface and the walls have been repainted. But you do not come here for the interior design.
Besides the excellent pho, a hearty soup of flat rice noodles, brisket and thin red slices of steak that cook in the broth before your very eyes, Loong Kee makes a Vietnamese treat rarely found in London.
A northern dish, Banh cuon consists of very fine minced pork and black mushroom, wrapped in a white thin, translucent layer made of rice flour. The delicate creatures are sprinkled with dried onions, which have been fried so that you get a wonderful contrast between the velvety smoothness of the rice wrapping and the crunchiness of the onions.
Cha lua, a thick sort of mortadella and fish sauce complete the dish. If you don't meat, there is the prawn version, not unlike the long white steamed dumplings with prawn in the middle that is a staple of dim sum. The difference is that the Vietnamese rice wrapping is much more delicate.
Loong Kee does banh cuon to perfection and is the only restaurant I know in the area that does this dish. That's why you'll see plenty of Vietnamese customers tucking into banh cuon for Sunday lunch. It's also fun to see non-Vietnamese trying to eat banh cuon with chopsticks. They are very slippery and seem to take on a life of their own.
There is an added bonus to Loong Kee. If you fancy some culture afterwards, pop into the Geffrye museum literally next door, a quirky museum with a large garden, which traces the history of English living rooms from 1600.
134 Kingsland Road, London, E2 8DY; Tel: 020 7729 8344
A secret walled garden beside the river in Chelsea. The second oldest botanic garden in the UK, it was founded by the Society of Apothecaries in 1673 and has been growing plants with medicinal uses ever since.
It's sheltered, sunny and dry enough to grow plants from the Canary Islands, Madeira and South Africa - and is a great place to escape from the fast pace of city living for an hour or two.
Note, it's only open to the public on Wednesday and Sunday afternoons
It's a cheap local Manchester bar right near UMIST and Piccadilly. By day old mans pub; by night alternative, vintage crew, indies local. If you can't be bothered getting dressed up, go here. Doubles £2! Staff friendly, music varied and at weekends and some week nights themed club nights are held downstairs. They're good fun.
Just near Spar off Piccadilly approach rd. 5 mins from Canal st. 2 mins from Granby row, 2 mins from UMIST. 5 mins from Oxford Rd.
I have never previously chosen to return to a vacation location, but Rickla has changed that. Overlooking the Islands of Hoy and the Ring of Brodga, the World Heritage site bumps up to the boundary line of the property. Jackie & Stewart are rightfully proud of their 5* B&B, from the friendly welcome to the touches that keep emerging as you peruse your room with a view the experience was close to sublime. The Bose Radio CD being one example. But I won't spoil the delight that you will gain from the rest. There is however one major warning! If you are on a diet, unless you have an excessively strong self will: Do Not Even Consider Rickla. The Breakfasts are to die for, the black pudding omelette is not for the faint-hearted! Their 5 stars are WELL DESERVED!
Details at www.rickla.co.uk
The Picturedrome is just a cool pub. It has a cinema in its backroom. I mean a massive full sized cinema screen, and a bar and comfortable sofas... always a nice vibe there - often have live music, and the JTQ (James Taylor Quartet) are regulars. Food isn't bad at all. A great venue for a small market town.
The Picturedrome, Kettering Road, Northampton
It was once my local pub. I was born and bred in London Fields, and this was a beacon of the community: good beer, a boules pit in the back garden and, during the summer, local cricket or football. Someone generally has a guitar or sings a song and people listen while chilling on the grass.
It was an intimate, friendly place - it's lost its intimacy because it's more popular now, but its still a great place for a summer day's relaxing. Take a picnic...
Pub On The Park
This hotel is perfect for a rock 'n' roll weekend of debauched behaviour. A boutique hotel with themed rooms, I had the Betty Page room (old-school glamour complete with king-sized bed and double spa bath). It was pricey, but well worth the money.
The rooms have a playstation and internet access. It is the only hotel, I think you'll find, where you can listen to Johnny Cash while you eat your breakfast. The breakfast menu is huge, and check-out time is a nicely late noon.
10 regency square, Brighton
Lovely restaurant right in the centre of town, perfect for mid-shopping dinner, a first date (especially downstairs) or going out pre-club.
Fab decor and fantastically friendly staff, the service is fast and the food is great (the garlic bread with hummous is lush) and good value for money.
Oh, and they also have a cheap cocktail menu
7 Chapel Walks, Manchester. M2 1HN
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