What better way to spend a cold winter’s day than a cosy afternoon tea. We did just that at The Melody Restaurant in London’s Hammersmith. The historic venue takes its name from the 1971 comedy, romance film ‘Melody’ which is where the movie was filmed.
The Melody is a cute boutique restaurant, we really enjoyed the afternoon tea experience spent in their exquisite dining room, which had soft music playing. The chandeliers were dimly lit making a calm atmosphere.
To kick start our afternoon we were presented with a glass of champagne that was freely flowing throughout our dining experience. Then for the tea! Shelley chose the Jasmine Blossom tea and Michelle had the English Breakfast tea.
The staff were so friendly and accommodating. We were presented with an array of Melody’s finest sandwiches, homemade scones & pastries, clotted cream and preserves that tasted rich and delicious. We were absolutely stuffed! Lol. The food was so filling, which is always a good thing.
Like ourselves, if you enjoy an Afternoon Tea experience we recommend The Melody Restaurant. Kensington Palace is just a short walk away from the location and it’s only a ten minute walk from Barons Court and West Kensington tube stations.
New York is a city you have to visit at least once in your lifetime. We decided to spend a long weekend in style and thought what better way to do so than in the city that never sleeps!
NYC has one of the highest rates of any tourist attraction in the world, with around 60 million people visiting each year. There are around 800 different languages spoken in New York making it the most diverse city in the world.
We had the best time and have made so many memories, there was only one issue though and that was the weather. It was absolutely freezing! The coldest we’ve ever felt in our lives. We highly recommend layering up if travelling during the winter months, we’re talking thermals lol!
We decided to spend a long weekend in NYC but we will definitely stay longer next time. There was so much to do and see with such little time, so if you’re travelling to New York for the first time we suggest writing up an itinerary before you travel with the places you want to see and eat. It really does help organize your day ahead.
This is the second trip we arranged through Travel Counsellors (here) who specialise in luxury travel and really look after you, making sure you have a trip to remember. We stayed at the Roosevelt Hotel (here) situated in the best part of town! The hotel is located at Madison Avenue in the centre of Midtown Manhattan which is great as it is a short walk from Times Square and very close to Grand Central station. We were taken aback by the decor of the hotel which is very grand and looks more old school glamour which is so nice to see as hotels are a lot more modern nowadays. We fell in love with the chandeliers but The Roosevelt’s is on another level.
It is actually a crime to visit New York and not see Times Square (just joking). During Times Square’s busiest time around 460,000 people walk through the iconic streets. Known for the massive billboards, sparkly advertisements and not forgetting the yellow taxis which constantly drive through the busy New York traffic. The home to many great Broadway shows Times Square has so much to offer. From loads of clothes shops, the M&M store, Mac make up, sweets and milkshake shops, Disney stores and loads of bars and restaurants, there is definitely something for everyone.
Grand Central Station
Grand Central Station is the most beautiful and picturesque stations we have ever visited. Located at Park Avenue in Midtown Manhattan, Grand Central opened in 1913 and is one of the busiest stations in the world. We loved the turquoise decor to the ceiling.
It was great to experience travelling on the subway as we’ve seen the Subway featured in so many films and music videos. Shout out to Jlo ‘On The 6’ album lol.
Empire State Building
The Empire State Building is the 28th tallest building in the world, standing at 1,454 metres tall.
We took a lift to the top of the building and as it was so cold, being on top of a tall building…the wind was ridiculous! It was a struggle trying to take pictures battling the wind and cold, but being up there made up for it. The views are just breathtaking, we could see the whole of NYC!
NYC Sightseeing Cruise
A fantastic way to explore New York is by taking a boat trip. We took a ferry cruise from Midtown Manhattan on the Hudson River and it travels to the Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan Bridge. We were lucky that it was a very sunny day, so although we had to brave the cold it was a really lovely way to see New York on water.
If you fancy a spot of fine dining, we highly recommend TAO restaurant. The Pan-Asian dim lit restaurant was full of the most delicious food and cocktails. We dined at the TAO Uptown which has a ‘Sex and the City’ vibe to it. It is known not only for its amazing food and cocktails but the giant Buddha centerpiece in the middle of the restaurant. Once you have finished your meal, why not head downstairs to the main bar area, for some more cocktails and good music that has a club like ambiance.
Ellen’s Stardust Diner
If you want to experience a unique dining experience, you have to visit Ellen’s Stardust Diner. You can enjoy your food with singing waiters/waitresses. It is not that cheesy stuff either, the staff are true performers that will blow you away. It is a family friendly restaurant and is worth a visit if you are ever in NYC. Also, the cocktails are so good!
We could not go to to New York and not visit the ‘Queen of Soul Food’ Sylvia’s restaurant in Harlem. It is truly Southern home made comfort food and is a place you have to experience. The restaurant has a home like feel and the walls are filled with the likes of Barack Obama, Whoopi Goldberg and Nelson Mandela who are few of the famous faces who have eaten at this famous restaurant. From warm biscuit, chicken wings, ribs, macaroni and cheese to peach cobbler, there is something to suit your taste buds. Sylvia’s is a place not to miss!
With it being minus degree weather outside there is no better way than to spend a Friday evening relaxed in front of a log fire, eating great food and sipping on Sangria. We did exactly that and chose to do so at Duck And Rice which is a London pub located in the heart of Soho. As you enter into the dim lit pub you’re drawn to the vibrant atmosphere. We fell in love with the spiral staircase which leads you upstairs to the dining room which serves Chinese dishes. To our delight we had the best seats in the house! We were sat in front of a toasty log fire which made our dining experience nice and cosy.
We ordered small dishes to share starting with the sesame prawn toast, salt and pepper squid, crispy duck roll and roast duck with steamed jasmine rice & cucumber.
The food was mouthwatering and we could not wait to devour everything on our table. We are getting hungry now just looking at the pictures!
The sesame prawn on toast served with sweet chilli sauce was soft in texture and had just the right amount of crunch. The salt and pepper squid was full of different flavours as it was cooked in garlic, chilli peppers and onions so it had the right amount of spicy zing to it but was not overpowering.
The pastry of the crispy duck roll was crunchy and the duck was moist but very tasty and was served with a sweet plum sauce. The roast duck was succulent and melts in your mouth. The duck was cooked to perfection and the meat was very tender. Absolutely delicious!
Green Tea Matcha ice cream is now our favourite ice cream of all time!
We are so surprised that it is not so readily available but you have to try this desert. It tastes so creamy and is a sweet treat to end your meal.
All of the dishes that we ate we can not fault as everything tasted amazingly good. The great thing about this dining experience is you don’t have to go crazy and buy loads of dishes. Also there is a lot of variety so there is something for everyone to enjoy. Check out the website (here).
It is definitely worth checking out Duck and Rice for yourself. It is in a great location with neighbouring Leicester Square (if you are checking out some theatre shows) and other nearby restaurants such as Dishoom and The Ivy, you are in a prime location.
If you are a fan of Asian food then P.F. Chang’s Asian Table is the place for you. We enjoyed a lovely early evening meal last weekend and we’re literally planning our next visit! The restaurant is so lively and vibrant. When you arrive you are greeted with the most delicious smelling food.
For starters we both had the Handmade Pork Dumplings which was drizzled with soy sauce and chilli mash. This dish is an absolute must have! The dumplings literally melts in your mouth and tastes amazing.
You are spoilt for choice with the variety of different dishes. One of the dishes you could choose from the Honey Chicken or Honey Shrimp. We went for the Honey Shrimp which is lightly battered in sweet and tangy honey sauce, with spring onions served on a bed of crispy rice. Alongside Wasabi Mash Potatoes infused with wasabi, lemongrass, spring onions and cream. We also ordered Sichuan Green Beans marinated in sambal chilli paste, ginger, garlic and pickled Chinese radishes.
The dessert menu looked so good! But to be honest we were so full there was just nowhere for it to go! Lol. We did have room for a couple of cocktails though.. and tried the ‘Azure’ filled with Tequila, Shiso, Elderflower, Grape and Lemon which was very tasty but our favourite cocktail we tried that night had to be the ‘Purple Colada’. OMG!! If you love a pina colada then this drink is most definitely the one to go for. Mixed with coconut rum, Amaretto, pineapple juice, lemon juice, blue tea and coconut cream.
P.F. Chang in Covent Garden is about a five minute walk away from Charing Cross station. The restaurant also offers a lunch time menu and if you have a special occasion coming up they offer celebratory cakes with personalised messages made fresh from their pastry lab.
For the quirkiness, vibrancy and bohemian chicness, it’s one of our favourite places to visit in London. So we thought it would be nice to spend an evening at Shaka Zulu.
Located in the Stables Market in the heart of Camden, Shaka Zulu (here) is a South African restaurant, bar and club. We had heard a lot about the restaurant but this was our first time visiting. So of course we were excited to see what Shaka Zulu had to offer.
As we stepped off the escalator which takes you to the first floor of the restaurant, we were both in awe of the stunning interior. Our highlight of the evening was Shaka Zulu’s impressive decor especially on the second floor that has 20 feet tall warrior statues which are amazing! There are carved wooden murals which cover the walls and ceilings with dim spot lights to give the restaurant an intimate and relaxed vibe. The space is really big and spacious and has a great atmosphere.
We arrived late afternoon (just in time for happy hour) which includes two for one cocktails!
We certainly recommend having a cocktail. It was probably one of the best cocktails that we’ve had in London. We both are always a bit dubious of cocktails as it is hard to get it right. But the bartenders at Shaka Zulu did not disappoint. The cocktails were absolutely on point!
The cocktails made such a great impression on us that we could not wait to devour some food.
Shelley ordered the steak and Michelle ordered the ribs (not exactly South African cuisine). The food was pretty basic and bland in taste. Also, the portions were small so if you are feeling a bit ravenous one evening, possibly order two plates. No shade!
Don’t get us wrong, it was not the worst meal but certainly not the best meal that we have had. However, the decor, atmosphere and cocktails made up for the less than satisfying meal.
It was a pleasant evening and we would certainly go back for the cocktails. Also, the restaurant turns into a night club from 10pm to 2am so if you want to shake a leg then Shaka Zulu may be for you.
As we were feeling rather royal after our Buckingham Palace tour, we decided to stick with our royal theme and complete our day by having a Champagne Afternoon Tea at Fortnum & Mason in Piccadilly, London.
Fortnum & Mason is one of London’s most recognised department stores and is also known for it’s world renowned Afternoon Tea. We both knew that we had to experience this upmarket Tea Salon for ourselves.
Located on the fourth floor, we entered The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Room, that has a very grand black piano near the entrance, with the pianist playing softly that added to the calm ambience of the room. A very nice touch!
Our Tearista talked us through the menu and the various teas that are on offer. We opted for the Queen Anne Blend (this tea was created in 1907) and has a very smooth flavour. We also chose Jubilee Blend, that had a sweet taste and was very golden in colour. Both teas were in a form of tea leaves.
We were both brought a three-tier platter, with a delectable assortment of finger sandwiches, cakes and scones, served with strawberry and raspberry jam. The scones were also accompanied with the most delicious clotted cream that we have ever tasted!
We both ordered a second helping of sandwiches and have to admit we struggled to finish them all…but the best part of the experience was that you could refill on tea, cakes, scones and sandwiches as many times as you wanted too. Definite treat.
We were offered complimentary chocolate cake to take home (which we certainly did not refuse), plus all the cakes that we didn’t finish we were also able to take with us. You most certainly get your money’s worth and we must say Fortnum & Mason were very generous with their servings.
So if you are looking to treat a loved one or just want a nice afternoon out in London, we would certainly recommend the Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon at Fortnum & Mason. It truly is a lovely experience and is quintessentially British, you will not be disappointed.
Living in such a great city, it is easy to take for granted the different attractions that are on your doorstep!
So we thought, what a better way to start our London Diaries with a tour of London’s main attraction, Buckingham Palace where we took a guided tour of The State Rooms and The Royal Gardens.
Of course, visiting an historical landmark of this magnitude, we did not expect anything less than impressive. We can certainly say that The Royal Palace did not disappoint!
We visited up to 15 state rooms in the Palace that were a maze of gold and marble, with high ceilings, grand staircases, impressive chandeliers and portraits of past Kings and Queens. It was everything that you would expect from a Queen’s headquarters and so much more. It exuded elegance and was truly regal.
To end the tour, we walked through Her Majesty’s Royal Gardens. It was very serene and was the perfect back garden to the gigantic Palace that you could get lost in. The lake had swans and a little family of ducks on the water. There was a small café, a gift shop and a must try ‘Royal Ice Cream’ stand.
You are not allowed to take photos inside Buckingham Palace but you are able to take as many pictures as you want in The Royal Gardens.
It was truly a remarkable experience and was one of the places we have both wanted to explore since we were kids. It is seeped in British tradition and would recommend that whenever you are in London you make the Palace your first tour stop!
The Palace is open for 10 weeks from July through to September each year, so take that into account before you book.