I had the pleasure of a surprise staycation last weekend and was told not to expect a modern hotel. As it turns out, it was the most beautiful hotel I have ever stayed at. Just a couple of minutes drive from Labrador Park MRT, tucked within Labrador Park Nature Reserve was Villa Samadhi. It is a colonial style boutique hotel that exudes old Malayan Charm. It was everything I would have decorated and styled for my own home. Everything about it from the service of staff, the room, the lush green surroundings and restaurant onsite was perfect. It literally felt like a holiday away from Singapore. You could not hear the bustling traffic or see tall skyscrapers; your ears were instead filled with sounds of trees rustling and wildlife scuttling about.
After checking in, the host led us to our room on the 2nd floor. Upon reaching the second level, we were greeted by a bar and a beautiful decorated and styled lobby/seating area. It was absolutely beautiful. There was a large four poster day bed along with other furnishings around for sitting and relaxing. It was absolutely a treat for the eyes. I don't think I've been that excited about walking into any hotel ever.
Our room was no different. If I'm not wrong, the room we got was the cheapest room type. Yet it was everything I'd ever want. It was a good sized room with a very large bathroom. In keeping with the colonial theme of the hotel, there is a four poster bed with a large dark wood cabinet. No bells and whistle, just simply perfection. My mum always told me, the bathroom of any establishment is an indicator of its premise. If that were any words to live by, this bathroom did not disappoint. It was large with my favourite rectangular white tiling. I actually want this is my future home.
After settling in, we were brought complimentary afternoon tea. There was a small selection of mini toasts topped with egg and tuna along with scones (plain and fruit) served with jam and cream. And of course, a pot of hot chamomile tea. It was definitely a treat! 10 minutes later, there was a knock on our door again with a host presenting us with sweet treats in the form of 'kuehs' or 'kuih' (bitesize snacks). They were so cute but unfortunately I must have forgotten to snap a picture.
After a few hours of relaxing, we went to the bar located in the onsite restaurant, Tamarind Hill. As a guest of Villa Samadhi, there is a cocktail hour from 6-7pm where they serve a selection of free cocktails. How could we say no? Cocktails. Free cocktails. Just saying. The onsite restaurant is about a 3 minute walk at the back of the hotel. The walk itself to the restaurant was amazing. You had to go along a little bridge walk surrounded by trees and the sound of wildlife. I actually later found out that Tamarind Hill is a very popular spot for hosting special events such as birthdays and weddings. And I can definitely see why, it was stunning. You will see later pictures as your enter the restaurant. Probably the most beautiful bar!
I thought Villa Samadhi was beautiful, the walk to the restaurant was beautiful but nothing prepared me for the bar at Tamarind Hill. If you think I'm exaggerating, I'm really not. If my pictures don't give you the feelings I got entering, I did not do the place justice. You'll just have to head down to the restaurant yourself to check it out.
We sat around the bar and ordered several cocktails over the cocktail hour and that were delicious. My favourite was 'King of the hill'. It was fruity, delicious and well mixed. The staff were all so friendly and they had conversations with us making us feel welcomed. Post cocktail hour, we adjourned to the seated area. Tamarind Hill is a Thai restaurant (one of my favourite cuisines!). I could not go pass the green curry as usual. We also got a vegetarian red curry and a vegetable dish to share. The meal was delicious. Absolutely delicious. The portion size is big so if you're a small eater like us, avoid ordering too much. We wanted to finish everything but it was just too much for us!
In the evening, the premise is even more beautiful lit up. After arriving back in the room, we noticed the staff had entered to place some red wine, after dinner mints and a bowl of gourmet snacks. At they made our room up. I mean, talk about service and going that extra mile.
In the morning, we took a little stroll back to Tamarind Hill for breakfast. There is a buffet selection of prepared foods and local delights such as nasi lemak and congee along with a cheese board, bread selection and cereals. The main breakfast is cooked to order. There was a wide selection of Western and Eastern breakfast option. I got the Villa Samadhi Special. 10/10.
And that, concludes my weekend staycation at Villa Samadhi. If you live in Singapore and just want to escape for the weekend, you need to check in here. You will actually feel like you are out of Singapore. Or if you are planning to come to Singapore for a holiday, you need to stay here. Perhaps not all of your time in Singapore as I'm sure you would want to experience the hustle and bustle of the city life. But at least for a night, just to find some relaxation again amongst all the fast paced life in Singapore.
12/10 would recommend.
Hythe is a small little seaside town in Kent about an hour and a half from London. We checked into The Hythe Imperial which is right on the sea front and a 10 minute walk into a main town street. From the outside of the hotel, you are greeted with a huge Victorian style building overlooking the beach. It is currently undergoing renovations. Renovations have been done to the ground to second level with renovations beginning on the third level. We had booked 2 rooms- a suite and a family room. The suite is on level 2, newly renovated and was stunning. Stunning. It was literally the most beautiful room I have ever been in. It was bright, had a fireplace, four poster bed, a little seating area and a massive bathroom decked out with a big tub and his and hers vanity. It was so beautiful! Unfortunately our family room was on level 3 which is still the old hotel. It was a stark contrast from the other levels. Think; dark wooden furniture, grandma's florals and shower curtains. It was a big space though so I'm sure once the whole hotel have been renovated it would be absolutely lovely.
After settling into the hotel, we took a nice dusk stroll around the area and into the main city centre. It was so quiet, so relaxing and the whole area was surrounded by lush greenery, beautiful flowers and my favourite tulips! There is a canal running through the town which was perfect for our evening stroll along.
The main street in Hythe was really quaint, lined with little shops selling trinkets, knick knacks and local retailers. The cafes were all tiny with beautiful cottage style furniture and linen. For dinner we ended up at a pub famous for their pies. My favourite! The pub was oh-so-beautiful. There was a little log fire burning keeping the place nice and cosy.
Just before driving back to London, we walked along the coast to the next town- Folkestone. There were some AMAZING looking seafront townhouses that were divine. The walk along the beach was beautiful. Nothing compared to the beaches we have in Australia but it was a nice change from the hustle and bustle of London. There is some redevelopments going on in Folkestone so it wasn't as appealing as Hythe but the main streets where the main city life is was beautiful. There were some great cafes, local pubs and retailers around. We stopped off at Googies, a hipster looking restaurant/bar for a tea break. The cakes in the window looked so, so, so good! I mean, Creme egg chocolate cake topped off with a creme egg on top. As we weren't hungry, we only had teas and coffees.
If you know me, you'll know my favourite city in the world is Barcelona, Spain. However, that was until I visited Bath. I was only in Bath for 1 full day but it was enough for me to fall in love with the city. Bath is officially my favourite city in the world at this moment. I love victorian style architecture for buildings and Bath was architecture porn for me. It was olden day victorian but it didn't feel old. It felt modern, lively and the demographics was of a younger generation. Bath is also a university town which probably brings all the hip, modern restaurants and cafes for the younger residents. Unlike other European cities, I felt safe walking on the streets at night. I didn't find myself subconsciously scouting around me. If you can't already tell, I LOVE BATH!
Driving about 40 minutes from Cheddar, we arrived in Bath and checked in at our hotel for the evening- The Thief. Located just a stone throw from the city centre, we were greeted with a lovely courtyard with the bar on one side and the hotel on the other. The staff were so lovely and accommodating. The rooms were bright and simple yet beautiful. My favourite part of the room would have to be the bathroom. I loved the monochromatic mismatched tilings of the walls and floors.
After settling in our rooms and freshening up, we headed into the main strip for dinner and drinks. As Bath is a university town, there were plenty of nice restaurants and bars around. For dinner, we had Thaikhun. It is rated number 1 Thai restaurant in Bath and it definitely did not disappoint. The restaurant was fully decked out in old school knick knacks and tributes to the Thai culture. After dinner we went to Cosy Club for drinks. We sat out on the balcony area which had little blankets to keep ourselves warm.
In the morning, we set off to explore the city centre of Bath. The two main attractions we wanted to see were The Roman Baths and Bath Abbey. We went to The Roman Baths first which was a self walkthrough with an audio guide.
The next stop was Bath Abbey. We were in and out of there fairly quick. To be fair, all Abbeys in Europe look the same so it wasn't amazing or breathtaking. That being said, it was still a beautiful piece of architecture with beautiful stain glass features.
Just a little walk from The Roman Baths and Bath Abbey, we stopped off at The Green Rocket for a nice healthy lunch. There were vegetarian and vegan options for main meals and delicious cakes and treats.
We took a day trip to Cheddar in Somerset. It is a village after which Cheddar cheese is named after. We pre-booked online tickets for the gorge and caves which gave us 15% off ticket prices. It gave access to the 5 different attractions in Cheddar - Gough's Cave, Dreamhunters at Cox Cave, Museum of Pre-history, Cliff Top Gorge Walk and The Lookout Tower.
We started our morning at Simply Gorgeous for breakfast. It was a lovely little quaint cafe which served delicious breakfast meals with vegetarian and vegan options. It was well decorated in cottage style finishings with memorabilia and momentos.
After breakfast, we made our first attraction stop at Dreamhunters at Cox Caves. It was a 15 minute walkthrough of a cave guided by projections of images, videos and commentary of early man. I personally felt that this attraction could have been missed. Prior to entering the cave, we were told there were going to be 4D effects with animals jumping out at us in 3D. It was definitely underwhelming. Perhaps a self walkthrough the saves would have been better.
The next stop we made was to Jacob's Ladder which led to the Cliff Top Gorge Walk. Once reaching the top of the cliff, we were greeted with stunning views over the gorge. There was a sign for a 2 hour walk to the other end. We didn't actually bother making it all around, turning around after 30 minutes to exit down Jacob's ladder.
Whilst walking towards Gough's Cave, we stopped off at Lion Rock Tea Room for an afternoon snack. I got a serve of fruit scone served with clotted cream and jam and a pot of tea. It was delicious. The tea room was so beautiful. We sat out in the courtyard upstairs surrounded by lush greenery. If you find yourself in Cheddar, definitely pay a visit to this little tea room for a break. If I'm not wrong, Lion Rock Tea Room was also rated number 1 restaurant/cafe in Cheddar!
Located just across the road from Gough's Caves was the Museum of Pre-history. We didn't actually go in but I'm sure it's worth the quick walkthrough as it is part of the ticket. Gough's Cave would be the main attraction of Cheddar. It is a huge cave at a constant temperature of 11 degrees all year round which makes it the perfect place for storage of Cheddar Cheese. In these caves is where they store Cheddar Cheese to age. It is a self walkthrough with a guided audio tour. To be honest, I'm not a big fan of audio tours as most of the time they can be quite boring and long. However I have to say that this audio tour of Gough's Cave was entertaining, not long-winded and kept my attention.
That concludes our day in Cheddar. The best part of the ticket package would have to be Gough Caves. Jacobs Ladder and the Cliff Top Gorge Walk was also really good for the spectacular views. On a sunny day, it's definitely worth packing a little picnic to take and have on the cliff. I personally would say skip the Dreamhunters at Cox Cave and the Museum of Pre-history if you want to have a succinct day at Cheddar.
I've just returned from a weekend of laughter and sun with a bunch of 12 amazing friends. Our group headed off to Bali for the weekend to celebrate a couple of friend's birthdays. For our stay, we opted to rent a private villa in the Jimbaran area. I have been to Bali at least 15 times in my lifetime and never have I ever stayed in such a huge villa with such an amazing view. If you're heading to Bali with a huge group of friends, I highly recommend Villa Cara. I'll leave all the links below.
My picture does not do it justice so please do click on the link above for pictures of all the bedrooms and amenities. Included in our villa were 4 staff who were literally there at our beck and call and were so helpful with all our requests. They prepared meals for us, arranged transport, did our grocery shop, bought alcohol for us, purchase our midnight McDonalds. You name it, they were there to help.
On Saturday, we headed for the beach at Sundays Beach Club. As much as I did enjoy Sundays Beach Club, there was nothing really special to it apart from the views. This will probably sound so cliche (but in my honest opinion), but I would rate Potato Head and Ku De Ta over Sundays Beach Club. Don't get me wrong- Sundays Beach Club is beautiful. Scenery is on point. White sand for days. But I personally felt it lacked the atmosphere. It is super chill so if that is what you like, Sundays will be perfect for you! They also have delicious food and drinks.
After visiting Bali so many times, especially in the Jimbaran area, I honestly didn't think there were new experiences and places that would really intrigue me. I was completely wrong. Firstly the villa was an experience on its own. Going with such a huge group was another new dynamic. And of course Sundays Beach Club which I will be adding to the list of places I recommend friends to go.
We also went to a really delicious, super affordable place for dinner which was walking distance from our villa- Fat Chows. It is rated very high on TripAdvisor and it definitely did not disappoint. In fact it was so good that a few of us returned the very next day to get a bite to eat. I did not get any pictures but do check them out if you're in the Jimbaran area/looking for good food - www.fatchowbali.com/home/
DAY 1 - Saturday, 31 December 2016
Arriving into Don Mueang International Airport mid afternoon, we caught a taxi to our boutique inn in the old town. Our driver took quite some time to find the place as we only had the address in English. We eventually found the place with much help from other taxi drivers and hotel security along the way. Pulling up at the inn, it was exactly as we pictured from our booking. It was quaint and it was colonial. It is unlike all the modern day, glass surrounded hotels these days.
After settling into the room, we headed out to find some food. We ended up taking a taxi to MBK. There was a cute pop up event outside called Winter Camp Markets. There were lots of different stalls selling sit down meals, snacks, jewellery, clothing, homewares and miscellaneous items. It was a really cute set up!
Then we headed back to the hotel to get ready for New Years Eve celebrations. Our plan was the head to Asiatique for dinner and to watch the countdown fireworks before heading to a club/party for an after party. I didn't take my camera with me to Asiatique so there is a lack of photos of our night but it is definitely a place I recommend going if you're in Bangkok. It is a large area along the rive front with bars, restaurants and plenty of small boutique shops. We had read that it was a popular spot for the New Years Eve countdown so we were excited for the event. Heading to Asiatique, we were competing with traffic of the crowd heading there too. After a brief walk around to check out the restaurants and enquire their wait times, we ended up at Osha Cafe, a restaurant that offered Thai food.
After our late dinner, we headed out onto the pier to get into position for the fireworks display of midnight. With crowds ready with their cameras and hands full of beers, the clock striked 12 and...nothing. There was no countdown, there was no party, there was no fireworks. Everyone was left confused and murmurs of 'what?' went through the crowd. Disappointing. We were later told the next day that there is no fireworks to celebrate the new year this year in respect of the King who recently passed. Fair enough. But at the same time, disappointed we didn't get a countdown into the new year. We later headed to Khao San Road for drinks. It was packed with party streamers all over the floor. There was definitely a huge party here for the new year. Happy 2017 everyone!
DAY 2 - Sunday, 1 January 2017
We started our morning with a delicious home-made breakfast at the hotel. We might have been abit greedy but we got to try all their different foods and it was definitely worth stuffing our faces for. If you ever pass by or stay at the Old Capital Bike Inn, have a taste of their dough fritters with homemade pandan jam. It is so, so, so, beyond words, yummy. So delicious that I would love to buy a couple of jars of it back.
After breakfast we headed off to Chatuchak weekend markets. It is the biggest markets ever! With 27 sections selling everything from socks to chameleons, everything you can ever want to buy can be found here. The weather was great, not too hot, so the walk around was bearable. There were lots of interesting, unique stalls. I have to say it is the best markets I have ever been to. Honestly, if you're an animal lover or activist, avoid the animal sections! It is completely inhumane with several huge huskies in 1 kennel/cage, overcrowded bird cages, large geese in cages, etc.
There were plenty of food places, serving authentic Thai food to western delights. We ended up at a Thai restaurant on Tripadvisor's list of Thai restaurants in Chatuchak Weekend Markets- Toh-Plue Restaurant. It was delicious and our curry was served in a handcarved ornamental bowl. They also placed a personalised country flag of where each customer is from with each dish.
For dinner, we headed out to the area of Silom. There was a restaurant in the area that was on Tripadvisor's lists of places to eat in Bangkok and also raved about on Ladyironchef- Naamsah Bottling Trust. It was fully booked out but was offered to be on the waitlist whilst we grab a drink at the bar. The pink exterior of the restaurant made me fall in love already. The interior- exquisite. So beautiful, so gossip girl like. We waited for about 40 minutes before getting seated. The food was definitely worth the wait!
After our scrumptious dinner, we walked over to a rooftop bar- Cloud 47. It is located on the 47th level of United Center building. Cloud 47 is a casual rooftop bar and unlike Lebua, it was unpretentious. It was casual yet offered unobstructed city views of Bangkok. If you want the view of Bangkok without paying ridiculous prices and getting dressed in your Sunday's best- Cloud 47 is the place to be. For those who get cold easily, bring a jacket! It can get windy and cold.
DAY 3 - Monday, 2 January 2017
On our last full day in Bangkok, shopping was on the agenda! We took a taxi to CentralWorld which in my opinion was a nightmare to navigate as there were so many wings and quarters to it. I like shopping centres set out like a grid and simple mall directory and map to read. Nothing really took our fancy so we ended up walking over towards Siam Paragon and later to MBK for a massage. There is usually a lot of hype over the shopping in Bangkok, wholesale prices at Platinum but on previous trips, I was less than impressed. Every girl loves a bargain but in my opinion, not in exchange for poor quality, wear once and throw away garments. Or maybe I am just shopping at all the wrong places.
Whilst walking around the area, we passed Little Zoo Cafe. It was a little animal cafe. In the advertisement banner outside the shop, there were loads of different animals present in the cafe. So we went in. I've never been to an animal cafe before so maybe this is just how it is but I was slightly disappointed. Unlike the photos in the front, it was mainly little puppies inside. Not that I'm complaining as dogs are my favourite pets but I was expecting a wider variety. Nonetheless, still a super cute break from shopping.
On our last night in Bangkok, we decided what's a trip to Bangkok without ladyboys. No offense. Our plan was to head to Soi Cowboy for dinner, drinks and a show. Soi Cowboy is a street, lit up in neon signs with bars on either side promoting Thai girls and lady boys dancing on podiums and on bar counter tops. We started the evening off at a bar with a drink with Thai girls, looking very bored, swaying up on podiums to the music. After the first bar, we went into a lady boy bar. Uncomfortable is an understatement. Unlike the first bar we went to, this was much more intimate. The seating area was right up close to the podiums and the space was smaller. After ordering our drinks, we were approached by several lady boys who asked for us to buy them drink. How can we say no? They got a drink and sat down with us. If we weren't already uncomfortable before, we definitely were now. We pretty much drank our drinks as fast as we could to get out of there!
Upon paying the bill, we gave them exact change for 640 Baht. We counted twice. Then they came back to us saying we only paid 540 Baht. Hearing experiences of others prior to coming to these bars, we knew they were hustling us. Well, what was 100 Baht? $4. We just gave them the extra 100 Baht and left immediately. There was a couple next to us who also got hustled. They paid for their bill and whilst waiting for change, the lady brought them another drink with their change. After seeing that, we decided to give them exact change. But still, we fell for their schemes.
DAY 1 - Monday, 26 December 2016
I had an incredibly near-miss with my flight this morning. But I made it onto the flight to Kuala Lumpur and later in a 35 minute taxi to the hotel in Subang- The Saujana Hotel. The Saujana brings a 5 star resort style resort in the city. The resort is situated on a huge plot surrounded by lush greenery with a lakeside view. We arrived at the hotel around 11:15 am. The staff were all really friendly and were wonderful hosts.
We decide to have a quick refresh and catch the shuttle bus out at noon to Sunway Pyramid Shopping Mall for lunch and a cheeky shopping trip. Sunway Pyramid brings back great childhood memories. In the school holidays, my family used to always take a drive down to Kuala Lumpur to stay at the hotel at Sunway and have a 3 day pass to Sunway Lagoon. This must have been over a decade ago. Yet, arriving at Sunway Pyramid, memories all came flooding back. The shopping centre seem to have expanded dramatically in size. There are new wings to the mall and it was massive! We didn't have very long at Sunway as we had plans for the late afternoon. The mall was packed! Boxing day shoppers were all out to get a bargain.
We ended up getting lunch at Simply Penang- a Penang style restaurant that promises authentic flavours of Penang. We ordered a serve of their Famous Penang Prawn Noodles, Famous Penang Char Kway Teow and Nasi Lemak. Got to say, it was so delicious. The flavours were authentic, the serving size was good, the price- the best part. If you ever find yourself around Sunway Pyramid looking for delicious, authentic Malaysian food- Simply Penang is the place to visit. We also tried the chendol for dessert. I personally would not recommend as I've had better. But go ahead and try if you're into coconut-ty flavours!
DAY 2 - Tuesday, 27 December 2016
To be honest, day 2 was not exciting at all. Skies were grey so my plans of sun bathing by the pool the whole day was not possible. I started off the morning getting breakfast at the hotel restaurant- Charcoal. It was an international buffet selection. The restaurant was beautiful with high ceilings and nicely decorated interior. For an international breakfast buffet at a five star hotel in South East Asia, I was disappointed. The food was good but in terms of range and choice of selections, it was limited.
Since my plans of sunbathing were undermined by the weather, we ended up heading to Paradigm Mall. After walking Sunway Pyramid, there was really nothing new to see. I got a few bits and bobs from M&S as they were having a really good sale on footwear. Apart from that, I had a fairly boring day 2 in Kuala Lumpur.
DAY 3- Wednesday, 28 December 2016
After 2 days in Subang, I moved hotels to be in the city area. The hotel we moved to is called Grand Millenium. It is directly across from Farenheit and just next to Pavillion. Location is excellent although traffic around the area is shocking (as expected). It is definitely still Christmas in the Grand Millenium lobby. There are christmas trees all around the hotel, real ice snowmen, and a gingerbread house structure with Santa on the roof.
After checking in, we headed over to Farenheit for a quick bite for lunch before exploring the area and doing some shopping. I didn't actually find anything in the shops as I have been doing shopping for the past 2 days. All the shops were all the same so I didn't see anything new to get. I did however do some research on the Sephora website so I will probably be getting some makeup to try out.
For dinner we went to Jalan Alor. Just walking distance from our hotel, Jalan Alor is a street lined with restaurants and outdoor seating on the roads. It is similar to Singapore's Lau Pa Sat. The street was packed with people, locals and tourists alike. All the restaurants were all full and loads of people walking along the street. After dinner, we decided to try some durian. It was horrible- the taste was bad, the fruit was not ripe and about half the durian was inedible. They were nice enough to open up another one for us but it was of the same standard. I guess in the end with 2 durians, half of each being edible, we had a whole. Would not reccommend!
DAY 4- 29 December 2016
The morning started with a trip down for the breakfast buffet at The Mill. The space was huge, lots of people and lots of seating. There was a good, wide spread selection of western and asian food choices. However I have to say that the standard and quality of the food was poor. The congee and the soups were cold. Not lukewarm- cold. The congee was served in a hot pot but it was switched off so it was not kept warm. The noodles and rice ran out and was not refilled. Honestly, the best dish out was probably the hash browns. That does say alot for an international buffet breakfast at a 5 star hotel. Considering the price for breakfast for additional persons or the public is 78 RM per pax, they have got to be dreaming.
After breakfast whilst waiting for housekeeping to finish up with our room, we went down to check out the pool on level 3. It has a resort style feel to it. Right next to the pool is a very well equipped, spacious gym with plenty of cardio and weight machines and a good selection of free weights. This is often rare in hotel gyms as they are usually quite minimal. I have to say this is probably the best hotel gym I've seen.
Following a poolside tan session, we headed off to lunch at the famous Lot 10 Hutong food court. The background behind this food court is that a guy, Francis Yeo gathered all the famous hawker stalls around the country to one food court. So you are guaranteed to have delicious, authentic Malaysian cooking. Definitely worth paying a visit to this food court for a meal. I didn't actually order too much as I was not hungry at all but I have eaten here several times before on previous trips. We ordered a serve of Singapore's famous hokkien mee, Handmade fishball soup and Congee. All the dishes were great and worth the rave.