My wife and I stayed at Riad Al Moussika hotel for four nights in early January, and it was definitely one of the highlights of our journey to Morocco! Our choice of the hotel was made completely on the suggestion of Daniel Jacobs on The Observer, Sunday December 21 2008, and on Trip Advisor reviews: Before arriving, we were wondering if we have made the good choice, but the minute we walked in, we realized that Riyad Al Moussika was beyond all our expectations. We got an amazing room (the green one) with a private terrace and a beautiful loggia in front that overlooked the mature trees garden and the nice swimming pool, and all the Riad was done in very capturing style. The service of the boys was impeccable and the food served by the Chef Cordon bleu, to die for. The Riad itself is very beautiful and authentically Moroccan and we felt very much like home.
One of my favourite walks by the Thames is from Southwark Cathedral. Famous Borough Market is nearby. I get the train to London Bridge, then walk down past Southwark Cathedral, round to the left past a replica of Sir Francis Drake's Tudor Galleon Golden Hind walking along Clink Street home of the Clink Gaol. Which gives us our colloquial term for prison: clink.
Moving along into Bankside we have the historic Anchor Pub, 34 Bankside, Southwark, LONDON SE1 9EF. Here in 1666 Samuel Pepys witnessed the Great Fire of London in 1666: "a little alehouse on bankside... and there watched the fire grow." The Anchor was rebuilt in 1676 after fire devastated the area.
One bar is named after Dr Johnson, (Samuel Johnson's Dictionary) who drank here regularly. A copy of his dictionary is on display. Then we wander past Sam Wanamaker's newly reconstructed Globe Theatre, a wonderful way to see Shakespeare in the round, plein air!
Then you come to the Tate Modern, stop for lunch or a coffee, then pop over to St Pauls Cathedral on the other side of the Thames linked by the wonderful Millennium Bridge, a footbridge. Come back over and wander on past the Oxo tower...
Eventually your walk ends by the wonderful London Eye, great at dusk with the lights twinkling into view, great view of the Houses of Parliament. Next door is Saatchi's Gallery (for the next two years anyway). By this time you will be knackered.
London Bridge Station
The Hotel Riyad Al Moussika, where I spent with friends a long weekend at the beginning of our journey to the south of Morocco in early January, is a place that has stopped time, where the magical atmosphere, relives Morocco of Pasha of 1800, but with all the comfort of our century. Everything is perfect, authentic, calm, serene.
I recommend strongly this hotel for its central location, even for the excellent and very professional service provided by the young boys of the staff, always smiling and present without being intrusive.
The chef and owner, Khalid, a nice and helpful big boy, who speaks I do not know how many languages, but among them an excellent Italian that has enabled me to know a world of things about authentic Marrakech, thing impossible otherwise, due to my language limitations, and, most important, who cooks in divine way.
I conclude that the value for money is very good considering that the copious breakfast and the courses haute cuisine lunch, (by far the best of all restaurants in Marrakech and Morocco, where we ate), are included in rate.
Only one regret: Have stayed there for four nights only!
A tiny family-run ice cream factory in Macclesfield, Cheshire. Choose a cornet of one of umpteen flavours in the shop, and eat it on the bench outside, peering through the windows at their collection of ice cream vehicle memorabilia. Or take home a tub! Or one of their fantastic ice cream cakes!
Award-winning Treacle Town, with a rich flavour and little marshmallows is particularly good, as are their seasonal fruit flavours and the Christmas Pudding ice cream which appears in winter.
74 Newton Street, Macclesfield, SK11 6RJ, 01625 424391
It's a vegetarian restaurant serving cuisine from southern India. The food is invariably delicious and cheap, even cheaper at lunchtime when they have an excellent buffet. It's not licenced but you can take your own booze (bought at the supermarket next door if need be). You can't reserve tables, so be prepared to queue at busy times. They also do food to take away. A terrific alternative to the overpriced chain food outlets on Euston Station, as it's only a couple of minutes' walk away.
121-123 Drummond Street, NW1; 020 7387 5556; Euston
For a beautiful way to spend a day, get yourself to Bondi and then start to walk along the cliffs that line the sea. From the right-hand edge of Bondi beach as you look at the sea, you'll find a path that runs past Tamarama, Bronte, and all the way to Coogee. You can stop along the way for a game of footie, a barbie, a beer or two and, of course, a swim. All the best bits of Sydney and some exercise too.
Bus from Bondi Junction to the beach then start walking!
This is one of the last and (in my opinion) one of the best traditional Dublin pubs. Tucked away down an alley off Dame Street, it is characterised by dim lighting and pints of excellent Guinness lined up along the bar. It does food (of the traditional variety), there's a good crowd and it has a small snug but you have to get there early to get a seat.
Dame Court, off Dame Street
Take it from a local and a curryphile, the curry mile has gone way downhill in recent years. I'm not naming any names (Shere Khan, Shezan, Royal Naz) or divulging their sins (poor service, reports of infestations, hygiene issues, meat and fish not being what it says on the tin, sauces that have come straight from a tin), suffice to say that the restaurants on the curry mile have been living off their reputations for a while now, and while that might do for undiscerning students, drunks and one-off visitors who won't come back anyway, if you want a decent curry head down to Burton Road in West Didsbury.
Two of the best are the "Great Kathmandu" and the "Gurkha Grill", or if you are feeling adventurous and fancy a curry lunch, seek out "This 'n' That" on Soap Street in the city centre, their rice and three is a local institution and probably the best food you'll find in the UK for around the 3 quid mark.
In response to a recent tip there is no need to resort to McDonalds to eat at reasonable prices even in central London if you know where to look.
Many Italian and Spanish cafes have good lunch options at reasonable prices and can be found in sidestreets around central London especially Soho. Or, get the Time Out guide to eating in London and make a note of the cheap places!
There are good takeaway options from Chinatown, fresh fruit in Berwick Market (later in the day is cheapest), many cafes in the streets south of Warren Street station off Tottenham Court Road are cheapish and if you are really pushed, chain sandwich bars are a better bet than McDonalds!
If you want a flavour of traditional cheap London food look up a pie and mash shop or an old-style fish and chip shop. The cheapest and best takeaway food option in London is Brick Lane Beigel Bakery but it's not central.
My money saving idea - lunchtimes on the Alps can cost you between £8 and £25 per day! If you're on a budget ski holiday then make the most of your half-board chalet. 1. drag yourself down to breakfast. 2. add several extra slices of french bread, ham & cheese to your plate 3. create a selection of ham and cheese rolls 4. when no one is looking, take out your serviette and wrap around (discreetly) your freshly made rolls, and hide quickly in a pocket or bag... et voila, enjoy on an uncrowded rock, with a view of your choice... ALL FOR FREE!
A great Brazilian invention is the restaurant where you pay by weight. There are hundreds of these throughout the city and many of them are really good: you go to the buffet, and pile up the plate with salads, barbecued meats and cooked dishes. At the end you weigh your plate – and pay for what you have served yourself. Its unlikely to be more than 20Br$, or £5 for a sizeable feast.
The real 'left bank' of Dublin. It is everything that Temple Bar aspires to be, mixing art and music with Dublin's finest pubs on one stretch of street. Whelan’s for the best live music and gigs. Carnival for alternative entertainment. Solas for relaxed chat and music. Cassidy’s where Bill Clinton had a pint of Murphys. Ryan’s for some of the best pints in Dublin. The Bleeding Horse, one of the oldest pubs in Dublin. Flannery’s where the country people create a piece of the west in the city. Plus numerous eateries with cuisine from around the world, furniture, fashion and art dealers. What more could you want from a weekend in Dublin?
At the tram station on Stephen's Green take a right away from the Green and you are there.
Vegetarian & vegan restaurant, with fantastic and imaginative dishes. Neither me nor my partner are veggies/vegan but have eaten here twice as the food is simply great, especially the pasta dishes. Leave room for dessert too as they are sublime!
Always busy so best to book ahead.
56-58 St Mary's Street, Edinburgh,
(Off the Royal Mile and the Cowgate): tel: 0131 556 5888;
A great pub with a fab patio, that gets very crowded with local people for a good reason. A cheeky (honestly, it is cheeky) menu offering home-cooked food in enormous portions, always with freshly baked bread on the side. I can't tell you how good it is, you just have to try it. It's a Brighton thing.
13 Middle Street, Brighton; tel: 01273710444;
pen: Mon-Sat 12pm-11pm, Sun 12pm-10.30pm
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