Sofitel Resort Mumbai

Arriving at the Sofitel BKC - a short drive from Chhatrapati Shivaji Mumbai international airport - we were met with extraordinary hospitality and an expedited check-in, which was the perfect antidote to a 10-hour flight. Escorted to our suite, an 800 sq ft fusion of decadent luxury with chic, upscale features including a state of the art television above the bath, mood lighting and electronic drapes revealing the dramatic prairie of Mumbai’s sprawling business district. The suite amenities also includes a butler service for those too weary to unpack, and with 24-hour room service every need is catered for, including personal shopping on request, and 24-hour spa; it was entirely conceivable to spend the next week luxuriating in the room alone. The most taxing decision of the day appeared to be selecting my pillow of choice from the ‘Sleep Menu.’

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A perfect mélange of French ‘art de vivre’ and warm indian hospitality, the grandeur of Sofitel Mumbai BKC is reflected in its unrivalled facilities and personalised service from the heart. Strategically located in the central business district of the city, Sofitel Mumbai BKC is designed specifically for the global traveller, offering multifaceted experiences in cuisine, entertainment and relaxation. Welcome to this stunning address, blending art and french flair, situated in the heart of the vibrant city of Mumbai. Discover a home away from home, where luxury is the key essence
 
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A little flight jaded we headed straight to the elegant rooftop ‘L’OH pool to enjoy an afternoon basking in the glorious 32-degree heat ahead of a busy week of meetings and enjoy a cocktail or two. What I quickly discovered is that everything at the hotel is malleable from food to drinks, and the staff excel at creating and catering for bespoke requests.

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On to the food now - which was definitely a signature delight. As two vegans we were a little nervous about ensuring that none of our dishes contained any dairy. Indian food is definitely our favourite world cuisine, and we find ourselves cooking Indian meals most days back in London, so our expectations were pretty strident. The hotel has five uniquely different exploratory dining experiences, each one exquisitely designed and crafted with a nod to the traditional Indian aesthetic and fused with a contemporary European ambience. Each of the restaurant and bars are distinctive in terms of decor and gastronomy to suit every mood with none of the homogeneity you sometimes find in large hotels.

In between meetings I had lunch at Tuskers, the exclusively vegetarian restaurant, and I couldn’t have been more impressed. It is customary at the hotel for the chef to personally meet with you to understand what your dietary needs are. In our case, we explained that we wanted to enjoy signature Indian dishes, but without any ghee (butter) milk, eggs or cheese. This was not an issue, and the chef went out of his way to assure me that he was experienced and more importantly happy to cater to vegans. I enjoyed a fabulous lunch which was delicate and clean but lacked none of the flavour or richness I’ve come to adore Indian food for.

A speciality restaurant for the selective eaters, Tuskers unravels a variety of delectable dishes featuring a sense-awakening vegetarian menu. As the name suggests, Tuskers is inspired by the regal and merciful...

It was really the Jyran Tandoori restaurant that really stole our hearts, so much so that we wanted to eat there whenever we could. This award-winning restaurant and rather opulent gin bar with an expansive outside dining space serving authentic Indian dishes inspired by the North-West Indian province.

Chef, Shadab Ahmed, couldn't have been more charming or knowledgeable when it came to adapting our favourite dishes and veganising everything for us. The entire experience was superb and the traditional tandoori dishes - my personal favourite - were simply divine. Assisted by the head barman, the charismatic and delightful Rajesh we enjoyed some delicious wine and cocktails from an extensive European and Indian wine menu. One evening, after returning to the hotel rather late and craving Shadbab’s food, we were informed the kitchen had closed; however, Rajesh managed to organise for our favourite dishes to be brought to our room and we enjoyed a small banquet while taking in the panorama of Mumbai’s illuminated city-scape.

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The last thing to mention about the hotel would be the ‘So Spa’, an oasis of such beauty and refinement I was transported to nothing short of a dream-like experience. I chose the 90 minute Ayurvedic massage, having been a huge fan of the ancient practice from the last time I visited Mumbai. Warm, aromatic oils were poured over my body and traditional Ayurvedic massage techniques to reduce tension, restore equilibrium and rejuvenate mind, body and spirit.

The spa offers an exquisite blend of ancient Indian practices and contemporary French cosmetology so that even the most jaded traveller will be revitalised by the poetic and time honoured Asian traditions of holistic beauty and wellness and the spa menu itself was extensive and expertly tailored. I cannot recommend the Sofitel Mumbai enough; the atmosphere, pulchritude, elegance and cuisine is world class, and I definitely cannot wait to return!

Thank you to everyone who took care of us and made it such a memorable trip.

Love,

Heidi xx

For more information on the Sofitel Mumbai please visit: http://www.sofitel-mumbai-bkc.com


Feeling rejeuvenated after my glorious Spa treatment

Feeling rejeuvenated after my glorious Spa treatment

Courchevel 1850

Courchevel 1850, one of my favourites places on earth; the majestic beauty and unique atmosphere of this luxurious ski resort nestled in the heart of the French Alps make every visit a memorable adventure.

I’ve been going to France since a little girl and have always regarded it as my adopted home, however, since being vegan I’ve come to dread the ‘food aspect’ of visiting. While we are in the midst of an undeniable vegan revolution, and most major cities, including France, are adapting exponentially, the traditional cuisine of the ski resorts left me feeling fretful and disappointed with the blatant lack of vegan options.

Historically, we would brace ourselves for plates of chips, salads or if we were lucky, an uninspiring bowl of pasta. This Xmas spent at 1850 was a completely different story though. We were frankly overwhelmed by the ease of ordering vegan, often off menu, and impressed by how accommodating the patrons were and sympathetic to our requests.

One such hotel, Les Grandes Alpes, couldn’t have been more delighted to show us how creative they are when met with vegan requests. Having popped into the hotel for a quick glass of champagne before the fireworks, we got chatting with the manager, the lovely Stefano. We chatted vegan (naturally) and mentioned that we had so far been very impressed by the shift in attitude, within the last year. Stefano invited us to dinner the following evening, telling us that his chef (who coincidently had been a vegan chef in Paris for the past five years before joining Les Grandes Alpes, would like to meet us and prepare us something special.

Cue the following evening, we met the chef, who asked us what we would like to try, and it was more than refreshing that the chef of a five-star hotel took the time to come and meet us, chat to us, and find out what we would like to for dinner :)) Nothing was too much trouble as the resulting dishes he prepared us were indescribably delicious. I cannot recommend Les Grandes Alps enough.

Far from being an isolated episode, our very own hotel Le Saint Joseph & L’apogee were only too pleased to adapt their menu to suit us; including apres ski treats!

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Things are really changing and permeating the strata of society; I’ve noticed a real quickening in the last year alone with the ease and facilitation of ordering vegan - even in traditional meat-heavy destinations - is yet another key indicator of the collective shift in awareness. Vegan-Vous?

The most indescribably delicious risotto at les Grandes Alpes

The most indescribably delicious risotto at les Grandes Alpes

Vegan Apres Ski at L’apogee

Vegan Apres Ski at L’apogee

Exquisite truffle pasta at Mama Mia on the Croisette

Exquisite truffle pasta at Mama Mia on the Croisette









Hotel Du Cap Eden Roc

It wouldn't be the Cannes Film Festival without a stay at the iconic Hotel Du Cap Eden Roc, nestled along the stunning peninsula of Cap d'Antibes located between Nice and Cannes; it is the mecca of the Cote D'Azur.  It's hard to put into words just how special this place is, but I will try.

From the moment you arrive, driving through the spectacular centuries-old pine forest and 22 acres of mature and exquisitely cultivated gardens, infused with rose and lavender, it's as though you're entering the era of Belle Epoque and old-world glamour, redolent of Hollywood's golden age.

It was our second visit to Du Cap and each time has been nothing short of mesmerising. Its refined charm and tranquillity is a welcome antidote to the relentless bustle of Cannes, whether you're poolside or taking a stroll through the enchanted gardens, it feels like another world - where time has almost stood still. Its refined elegance and exclusivity has, of course, attracted the world's A-list; from Marlene Dietrich, Elizabeth Taylor and Ernest Hemmingway to Winston Churchill, but its laid-back charisma makes it seem almost natural to be sat opposite Adrian Brody at lunch, while enjoying a view of the superyachts moored close-by.

 The main hotel, a Napoleon III château is nothing short of spectacular, with a sweeping vista of the glittering Mediterranean sea and the Lérins Islands, beyond.

The rooms themselves are spacious; think historic 18th-century glamour meets with Mediterranean freshness. All rooms and suites have marble bathrooms and stunning garden views; its very hard not to feel incredibly spoilt!
The hotel is totally pet-friendly ( as is its sister hotel, The Lanesborough) and during our visit, we found no problem with adapting the existing menu with vegan options.

For me, the highlight is always the pool. Carved into the cliff, the heated infinity pool has 33 cabanas overlooking the glittering cerulean stretched out before you, while enjoying a glass of Whispering Angel. You can dive into the sea and swim out to the jetty, and if you're feeling adventurous enough try the rope challenge - apparently few have made it across the other side - although my husband did and I've never heard the last of it! 

https://www.oetkercollection.com/destinations/hotel-du-cap-eden-roc/the-hotel/

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Travel Adventures

Tylney Hall, Hampshire

Having always been a superfan of Tudor history, the idea of visiting Tylney Hall, which stretches back to 1536, has been seducing me for some time. Set in the undulating Hampshire countryside and only an hour outside London, this luxury Grade II listed manor house hotel is the perfect panacea for a weekend or midweek City getaway.

Approaching Tylney Hall reminded me of the opening pages of Rebecca, as the second Mrs De Winter approaches Manderley. The sweeping drive, cosseted in 66 acres of parkland and a vista of majestic Redwoods, is nothing short of spectacular; when the facade of the Hall comes into view, it is really quite spellbinding.

Once inside the magnificent entrance, the interior is redolent of a bygone age, with luxuriant walnut panelling, elaborately ornate cornicing, grand staircases, opulent furnishings and an old-world opulence that's hypnotic. Our suite was impressively large if a little too modern for my archaic tastes, and I was told the company are in the process of modernising the bedrooms - which I think is rather a pity. However, the revisions I saw were executed with taste and restraint, so the overall feel was refined modernity, offsetting the more traditional features of the hotel. 

One central allure of Tylney, particularly during a London calefaction, is the outdoor, slightly heated swimming pool, found in the sunken garden toward the back of the house. Voted one of the 'Coolest Pools in Britain' by The Times - August 2009 and 'Britain’s Best Hotel With An Outdoor Pool' by the Daily Telegraph - July 2013, it is exquisitely framed against the magnolia and wisteria and was the ideal setting to soak up the afternoon sun, indulge in a cocktail or two and cool down with a swim. Breakfast and lunch can also be served pool-side with snacks throughout the day.

By evening time we were looking forward to sampling the exclusive vegan menu which the hotel - by popular demand - have available upon request. We started the evening ensconced in the stunning library bar where I had one of the best Vesper Martinis I've sampled, and that includes the Ritz!) while enjoying an ambrosial sunset from the terrace and the verdant beauty of the lawns stretching out before us. We strolled around the Italian and Water Gardens which was a mise en scène so elysian that I couldn't help but imagine how magical it must be to get married here.

The most important aspect for us when we go away is the food, and while the vegan revolution is sweeping up followers exponentially, I am still on occasion, left disappointed with the bland and unimaginative choices made available to patrons. As vegans and foodies, we expect quality and variety and Tylney did not disappoint. The menu was creative, well thought out and superbly presented - not a prosaic option in sight. It was as refreshing as it was delicious and made our visit even better. The service was friendly and warm, and I didn't get the impression anything was too much trouble. 

All in all, it was a delightful stay, and I will definitely be revisiting with the dogs - another great feature being Tylney Hall is pet-friendly, too.

 

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