Le Meridien is a fabulous five-star hotel a very short stroll (downhill) from the Grand Place. With very attentive (but not overbearing staff) and a fabulous (although you may want to 'treat' yourself one night as it can be a tad pricey) restaurant, you will leave feeling relaxed and spoilt.
If you call the hotel direct and not via the call centre you will get some fabulous deals.
Although a business/diplomat hotel at heart, our three children, aged four, eight and 12, are always welcomed.
Le Meridien Brussels, Carrefour de l'Europe 3, Brussels; brussels.lemeridien.com
Wow. For the definitive view of London, reserve a place at Vertigo 42, the champagne bar at the top of Tower 42. The bar is located on the 42nd floor and gives great views over the city.
Remember to book upfront, the bar does not accept walk-ins. Also remember to dress smartly, there’s lots of city folk in suits. Over 18s only.
Tower 42, 25 Old Broad Street, London, EC2N 1HQ; Nearest tube: Bank; www.vertigo42.co.uk
Breathtakingly gorgeous art nouveau cafe/bar just five or so minutes from the Grand Place. Hearty nosh: moules and frites (of course), tasty Zeebrugge shrimp omelette, rugged carbonnades flamandes stew. There’s also loads of choccy puddings, plus Leffe and plenty of other beers on draught.
The English language menu on their website is worth a look for shameless, cheap-laugh lovers (like your correspondent). How about Salade Landaise “with gizzards and poultry lievers parfumed with orange room”. Or the somewhat Julian Clary-sounding “Warm Entries”.
Henri Mausstraat/Rue Henri Maus, 1000 Brussels;
Nearest Metro: Bourse; www.resto.be/falstaff
A very cosy and friendly traditional Belgian restaurant with excellent seafood and cracking wines, situated in the very heart of the city. The real draw though, has to be their shrimp croquettes, which must be a serious contender for best in Belgium. Highly recommended.
Rue des Bouchers 43, 02 511 7910, close to Brussels Central
It's right on the Grand Place and serves up the ultimate beer experience with a three-course menu cooked in three different beers and served with a glass of the same with each dish! It's pretty reasonably priced and has lots of other delicious dishes and is well-positioned to get a great view of any events that are held in the square. I had the pleasure of a son et lumiere show.
Go to Corte Sconta, the best fish restaurant in Venice. It’s tricky to find, but it's just off the Riva degli Schiavoni before you get to the Arsenale.
Also good is the Madonna restaurant. Order a fritto misto, a bottle of white wine and lap up the waiters, it's a laugh.
Corte Sconta: Castello 3886, Calle del Pestrin;
Madonna restaurant: San Polo 594
This welcoming cafe/restaurant is in the basement of St Andrews in the Square (a renovated 18th-century church, now functioning as a folk club and venue for events such as weddings and conferences). Cafe Source offers value for money - not particularly cheap, but fantastic quality and decent portion sizes (especially the delicious sandwiches).
It's also a good choice for families, as a selection of toys is usually available, and is ideally placed for lunch or dinner following a visit to the People's Palace on Glasgow Green.
The monthly jazz supper club is well worth a visit, but book in advance - it's very popular.
St Andrews Square, just off the Saltmarket, G1
A great place to see the cool and relaxed side of the busy city. It’s best at weekends, if you have never seen a mum pushing her child in a buggy while rollerblading, this is the place to go. Street markets and entertainers abound and the whole atmosphere is friendly.
Head north-west up the coast and you can't miss it.
Perlan is a revolving restaurant, sitting above the city with views over the harbours and beyond. It is a short taxi ride from the city centre.
Although revolving restaurants are perhaps a bit naff, the views really are sublime (especially at sunset) and the food was great.
It was on the expensive side - £150 for two people – but everything is in Iceland.
One word: mussels
Don't waste your money, time and patience in the city centre on the garish Rue des Bouchers or in St Catherine, instead head for Avenue Louise halfway between Place Stephanie and Rue de Bailli.
Chou de Bruxelles has a menu featuring more than 30 different types of mussels as well as other Belgian fare (stoemp, waterzooi etc). They're the best mussels in Brussels! The service is good and the atmosphere is always very nice.
Midway down Avenue Louise you'll find Rue de Florence; 26, rue de Florence, 1050 Bruxelles; Tel: 02 537 69 95
Food Street is a road closed to traffic each evening and instead filled with tables and chairs for the dozens of cafes offering their wares.
In particular, towards the end of the street, try Haji Sardar Fish Shop for some succulent fried, battered fish. So good, and so cheap!
Food Street - also known as Gowal Mandi - in the city centre
Truly delicious. A dollar or so will get you a big bag plus a pomelo (grapefruit-like fruit) for the full experience. Crunchy and tasty, a bit like crispy bacon. Try them, you'll be glad you did.
Street corners near the river, especially around the post office
For excellent food at the airport, follow the example of the airline staff. If you make your way out towards the train station on the other side of the main road, you should see some street stalls tucked in by the road. Here you can find excellent food and drink at a fraction of airport prices.
And if you ever have a day to kill before an evening flight why not take a short day trip to Ayuthaya from Don Muang by train.
This inviting restaurant/art gallery is certainly a touch of class. Walking through the courtyard you are met with modern art, clean architectural lines and a warm welcome.
Prior to polishing off exquisite oysters with chilli dip, stylish leather sofas on the second floor terrace beckoned; aperitif bliss. The grilled fish main and chocolate mousse desert went down well to boot.
Friendly service and an impressive wine list sold this backstreet gem. Not a place to rush or be rushed.
Three courses with wine for two: approx £30-50.
1/6 Soi Pipat 2, off Convent Road
Skytrain Stn: Sala Daeng
+66 02 238 0931
If you want to get away from tourist zones, take a longtail boat up the canal to Ramkhamhaeng.
It's a major university and the streets around it are thronged with market stalls for great food and 'alternative' goodies.
There are a few cafe/bars with live music and the students will be keen to practise their English on you!
The children from Krousar Thmey’s orphanage put on a shadow puppet play every Thursday at La Noria restaurant. It's for a good cause and entertaining. The food is delicious too.
La Noria restaurant, on the east side of the river, 50 metres north of Route 6
Royal Teas is a wonderful café slightly off the beaten track in Greenwich. They do wonderful hot chocolate, teas and coffees. Coffee beans are ground there and then and you can by loose tea and coffee beans there too.
All of their food is vegetarian and is fantastic - and this is coming from a committed carnivore.
It is also very good value, with prices much cheaper than Starbucks and other chains that are also to be found in Greenwich.
In addition to all of this it is in a wonderful part of Greenwich. I recommend going for a walk round Royal Hill and up towards Black Heath, you can stop off here for a nice drink on the way back.
76 Royal Hill
0207 8691 7240
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