Singapore is so accustomed to the Lunar New Year cookie scene – plastic boxes with red lids packed with the most delightful goodies. The scene shifts slightly in Hong Kong as the eats come in… More
Step aside Nespresso, here comes BabyNes, available now in Hong Kong. We think it’s a great (and stylish) gadget & nutrition system for expectant mums and babies. Created by Wyeth, it’s a Nespresso-like machine that dispenses specially formulated beverages via capsules for pregnant ladies and babies (from 7 months old). These are meant to supplement their nutritional needs along the different stages of their development.
The BabyNes capsules come in six formulations according to their developmental stages and contain different proportions of protein, fats and active probiotics, as well as other nutrients to support their immune system, digestive system, brain and nervous system, as well as eyesight, etc. Choose capsules for babies according to their age: for 7-12 months old, 13-24 months and 25-36 months (HK$548 for 26 capsules). There are two formulae for moms, which go under the name of Mom&Me: preconception & pregnancy (HK$369 for 26 capsules) and for breastfeeding ($388 for 26 capsules). The machine itself costs HK$2088. It is wifi and blue-tooth enabled — which means you can prepare the formula remotely anywhere in the house — has a touch screen interface and comes with a personal MyBabyNes dashboard, where parents can set up feeding alerts, track the growth and development of the child, for instance.
The machine’s water pressure technology gets you a cup of formula milk in one minute at a perfect 37C, making sure that milk powder is all fully dissolved. For hygiene, the system is also designed so that there is no contact between the powder and the machine. What’s more, each capsule contains a 0.2 μm filter to allow the formula to flow directly to into the cup.
The very comfortable-looking flagship store of Wyeth BabyNes is at ifc mall in Central; but other partner retails outlets are located at various MotherCourt outlets, Seraphine Paris-Mongkok, and Mothercare-Sogo Counter at Causeway Bay.
More details at http://www.babynes.com.hk
Elizabeth Purdey, Simply Fabulicious’ new Hong Kong contributor pops into Masala Train in Wanchai for a taste of Indian food on the go.
Next time you crave for spicy Indian food, make sure to stop off at a new takeaway in the heart of lively Wan Chai. Despite being located around the corner of busy Lockhart and O’Brien Road, this small place is easy to miss. But as soon as my companion and I spotted the menu signs outside the Masala Train, we were instantly drawn to the fragrant aroma of Indian food cooking. This simple takeaway offers a surprisingly wide range of North Indian style fast food dishes, with daily and weekly specials.
The inviting menu left us in a dilemma. We wanted to try it all. Tiena, the owner, came to our rescue and was very helpful with her suggestions. While working in the finance industry for over 10 years in Mumbai, New York and Hong Kong, Tiena saw an opportunity to provide healthy, home cooked Indian food to office workers. And in Hong Kong, what better location than in Wan Chai. And we liked the idea of takeaway food that we could enjoy without feeling guilty afterwards.
Tiena started us with one of Masala Train’s most popular dishes, the minced Lamb Keema roll. We immediately could see why this was such a favourite dish. The lamb was moist and tender, cooked with a nice balance of spices and wrapped in a thin tortilla with fresh vegetables that complemented the lamb perfectly. The portion size was substantial and good value, with your own choice of spiciness to boot. This wrap would be ideal for a quick, tasty and light bite on the run.
Next we tried Vada Pa, one of the new dishes on the menu. This popular street food of spicy potato was served in a small bun with chutney. The dish was simple but delicious; it reminded us of an American slider but with a healthy take and was a big favourite with my companion. We also couldn’t resist sampling two of our favourite dishes from the meal box menu. My companion had the Chicken Tikka Masala (HK$58) served with rice and vegetables which he thoroughly enjoyed. The spiced curry was mild tasting and the sauce was light in texture. I tried the traditional Chicken Biryani (HK$60) with salad. This definitely delivered in the home cooked style stakes. The pilaf rice was generously layered with chicken and had a good spicy kick. The portion size for both meal boxes was substantial and well-priced.
For drinks, the Mango Lassi — a full flavoured mango and yoghurt beverage — was a very refreshing accompaniment to the spicy Indian food, and a must try. We finished with a masala chai. This spicy tea was not overly sweet and we enjoyed the taste of cloves and cinnamon. My companion had room to try the Kheer or rice pudding, one of the two sugar-free desserts at Masala Train. The Kheer had a nice creamy consistency and was a good way to cleanse the palate after all the spicy dishes we ate.
Tiena calls Masala Train a humble takeaway, but what is so enticing is that the simple, home style Indian fare there is also healthy. Although the level of spiciness has been toned down for the Hong Kong palate, the dishes we tasted still delivered on flavour. We were not disappointed in the quality of dishes and value for money. Masala Train is definitely worth a visit, particularly for those who want a touch of exotic while on the go. Deliveries are also available via Deliveroo.
G/F Yue On Building, 146-148 Lockhart Rd. Entrance is on 2A O’Brien Rd (A1 exit of Wan Chai MTR). Tel: +852 2415 3000
Forget fat and frumpy! The preggars amongst us battling the office air-con, the hospital chill or just taking off on a winter holiday need not despair. Winter is not going to be about hiding the layers but accentuating them.
Uniqlo, our favourite Japanese basics retailer has just launched a Mums and Babes collection which includes comfy leggings and ultra-stretch jeans for mums at good price points that start at only S$19.90 for maternity leggings. Soft, comfy and easy to fold – they look great for just folding into your travel bag or keeping handy.
If you are picking up a gift, there are sleepers, bodysuits and onesies for baby which effectively wrap babies in warmth and softness. Pieces are designed to be durable enough to withstand daily washing without losing shape while remaining delicate enough for newborn skin.
Available this month at UNIQLO Suntec City and online in Singapore here, while all other items are available in selected UNIQLO stores including UNIQLO’s Global Flagship Store at Orchard Central and online. Prices range from $9.90 for Babies & Newborns’ Bib (2pc) to $59.90 for a pair of Maternity Ultra Stretch Jeans.
The baby range is also available now in Hong Kong stores and online here.
The next time you are in Auckland, New Zealand put a 2 day road trip to Rotorua into the itinerary. It’s a rare opportunity to get out of the city, a fairly leisurely drive and just enough activities to get you busy, immersed in both nature and a bit of Maori culture for two plus days.
I love how the Kiwis just get to the point with their quick deals.
This was evident pre-trip, when we headed to JUCY rentals and emerged having rented a car from their El Cheapo range of budget cars.
Our trusty rental was a great deal – a 1.6 litre sedan at about NZ$50 a day. We added on a rental GPS (although you could use your phone if you have data) and we were off out onto the open road with a rough itinerary in mind.
Can you see the rainbow in the distance on our front windscreen?
From Auckland to the Waitomo Glow Worm Caves
The drive to Rotorua is about 3 hours long. Leave in the morning and stop for lunch, coffee and cake along the way. New Zealand coffees are just the best – perhaps its the weather or the fact that you have enough time to savour your cup of joe instead of hastily gulping it down before rushing to your next meeting.
Our first stop was Waitomo Glow Worm Caves. I would rate this a must-go, something you do before it gets dark (closes at 5pm) and a max 1.5 hour stop. Don’t expect a glitzy theme park experience from this nicely set up, modern looking ticketed attraction with a gift shop ensuite. This is definitely all-nature and all about your experience taking a peek into it. You are literally brought into the experience, rather than having it present itself to you so it takes a bit of an open mind to appreciate the visit. First up, you are ushered by a guide into the cave where there is a request for silence or minimal noise. Leave the bawling babies and noisy kids at home. You listen to stories told in first person by an experienced host about the history of the cave and how it was discovered. After a short walk in, you get on to a boat and ride the rest of the way into cave – all mobile devices on silent, in complete darkness – right into the heart of the cave where you see glow worms nesting in the recesses of the cave ceiling above you, their tiny bodies giving off an eerie faint blue light. You look up and it seems that the night has come and all you see above are a million stars. Surreal!
Check into Hotel and have dinner at Food Street
Staying along the Lakeside – would be my advice as the main city of Rotorua is built along the lake. You know that you have arrived when you wind down the car windows and the pungent smell of sulphur greets you head on. The closest description of the smell is rotten eggs. We stayed at the Novotel, Rotorua Lakeside. Very comfortable, has its own mineral spa (think onsen) inside the Hotel which is free for guests and is right next to the pubs and eateries along the next door main dining thoroughfare known as Food Street in Rotorua.
Tepuia Hot Spring Geysers
Tepuia, is the closest hot spring geysers to visit in Rotorua, This is a ticketed attraction with a walking guided tour, a visit to the Maori cultural centre in side and gift shop.
The pools are hot enough to cook food in and most definitely not safe for a swim or leisurely dip of any kind.
After the walkabout, wander into the Maori craftsmanship areas where weaving and boat building techniques are explained and demonstrated.
Expect to spend about 1.5 to 2 hours here. In perfect time for you to drive back down to the Lakeside area and check into the Polynesian Spa which we did not visit this trip as we were already too spa-ed out at the Hotel spa.
Tamaki Maori Village
Our dinner highlight on Day 2 was boarding the bus arranged by the Tamaki Maori Village which took us to the village, about half an hour away.
The Maori villages are actually run and owned by existing Maori families here in New Zealand.
Here, we were given the works – a Maori traditional welcome ceremony, an explanation of the significance of each tradition. This was followed by an engaging evening of Maori folk songs, dancing and performances which ended in a traditional Hangi meal.
The Hangi is a meal much like the Hawaiin Luau where the food served has been buried in a pit below ground and using the natural volcanic heat and a combination of steam heating, meats and veggies are cooked and served in a large communal buffet style spread.
To Hobbiton and then back to Auckland
We wanted to get our trip time’s worth so with some Trip Advisor Forum advice, we managed to craft a detour from our original trip to Hobbiton and the Shire, before heading back to Auckland.
Make sure that the day you head to this ticketed attraction is dry as there is a fair bit of walking to conquer around Peter Jackson’s set which apparently was torn down after the movie and recreated again on premises.
A stop by the village pub – The Green Dragon is mandatory.
Definitely a must-visit for all LOTR fan’s. With that under our belts, we drove back to Auckland back to the safe haven of The Langham Hotel and the comforts of its marvellous Club Lounge.
Below – the round-trip route for anyone who wants to brave the journey.
If the tai tai life is what you are after in Hong Kong or if it just means that you have the perfect excuse to sit down and refuel after that fast and furious shopping trip with your girlfriends at one of Hong Kong’s many seasonal sales then Afternoon Tea is just the meal that you don’t want to miss out on … here are 6 lovely locations where you can book your table now …
The Langham’s Honey Afternoon Tea
… is a collaboration between The Langham Hotel in TST and beauty brand Guerlain who have launched a few new products that incorporate royal jelly and honey as part of their Abeille Royale Collection.
The Hotel’s Honey Afternoon Tea is served on a unique honeycomb stand and features honey from an organic bee farm in Hong Kong. Sweet morsels include The Bee, a golden macaron filled with dark chocolate and honey nectar, Chocolate, a mini tartlet made with salty caramel, honey ganache and milk chocolate and Honeycomb, an Earl Grey crémeux, honey and orange jelly, topped with chunks of homemade honeycomb and sprinkles of gold dusted white chocolate pearls. The spread also features Mango and honey mousse, a French Mille-feuille with honey cream infused with vanilla and yuzu. Not just sweet, but also savoury, there is a delicious Lavender-infused Honey Glazed Duck Breast, Cucumber and Cheddar Cheese Sandwiches and a Norwegian Smoked Salmon Dome Stuffed with Crab Salad on Corn Bread. On top of everything, there is a selection of exquisite afternoon tea blends to go with the food, the comfort of the lovely ambience of one of Hong Kong’s classiest tea lounges where you can just sink into the forever of their plush and lovely sofas and just spend all having a chi chi afternoon catch up.
Available at The Palm Court Lobby Lounge from NOW till end 30 September 2017 at HK$348 for one person and HK$598 for two persons, subject to a 10 per cent service charge
Served: Weekdays from 3:00 to 5:30 pm and on weekends and public holidays in two sittings, from 2:15 – 4:15 p.m., and 4:30 – 6:30 p.m
Call: (852) 2132 7898
The Cakery’s Guilt Free Afternoon Tea
Is there such a thing as a guilt free afternoon tea? Well, for those with a conscience, step into The Cakery. Owner, Shirley Kwok serves up a 100% gluten free tea that uses natural, nutrient- rich ingredients like brown rice flour, tapioca flour, millet flour, almond flour, buckwheat flour, oat flour and Arrowroot flour to create the pastries on her special menu. All her sweets are also made with low-sugar or refined-sugar free, and there are vegetarian and vegan items featured.
Presented beautifully on a fan-shaped three-tiered sleek white tray, find Truffle Chouquettes which is an Italian truffle cream cheese mousse with gluten-free choux pastry, Mini Pizzas made with sweet potato, baby corn, red onion, mushroom, parmesan cheese, tomato sauce, Lobster Crepes featuring US lobster galette, cream cheese, gluten-free crepe, Salmon and Cream Cheese Sandwiches made with gluten-free vegan chia bread. The sweets include Bite-size Cupcakes except that these are gluten-free and/or dairy- free, egg-free, low-sugar and low-fat. There are also Lemon Tarts made with gluten-free pastry and White Chocolate Goji Berry Mousse Pots and Mini Chia Puddings, Gluten-free Scones served with homemade strawberry raspberry basil jam, clotted cream. Enjoy all that with homemade Red Date & Goji Berry Tea or a Ginger Spice Tea or The Cakery’s Tea and Organic Coffee selection and go home guilt-free (well, almost!)
Available at The Cakery Lee Gardens Two, from NOW at HK$388 (per set for two persons)
Extras: Make a booking a day in advance and get a 10% discount.
Served: Daily from 2.30pm to 6.00pm daily, subject to 10% service charge.
Call: (852) 2816 1838
Yeh! Shanghai Afternoon Tea at The W Hotel’s Woo Bar
Here’s a promising mini food tour around Shanghai whilst you are in Hong Kong at the W Hotel’s WOOBAR! Their Afternoon High Tea has a Shanghainese theme and the Yeh! Shanghai tea set starts with delicious morsels of crispy suckling pig, fermented bean curd paste and caviar, transferring you to a traditional Chinese BBQ restaurant, however only for a second before you move onto succulent seafood treats such as the prawn cocktail with light spicy sesame soya sauce and sago. Not just savouries but also sweets, the set includes black sesame dumpling with white sesame tuile and chocolate and cinnamon croissant twist. The favourite item being their signature “Xiao long BAO” – a cake consisting of vanilla-pistachio mousse, raspberry jam on feuilletine. On weekends, expect an Afternoon Tea Buffet spread.
Drink’s wise, the Hotel is not just stopping at a simple cup of Chinese tea but has used the Chinese inspiration of four flowers, each representing four different seasons with the Chrysanthemum representing Autumn in its beverages and alcoholic drinks. There are concoctions like The Qipao, a fresh blend of Belvedere Vodka, Lemon juice, Chrysanthemum tea and a unique blend of Osmanthus syrup, The Shanghai Pour, served in an oriental teapot and cup with a mixture of Chinese white wine, The Wild Flower, a fresh combination of egg white, lemon juice, gin with a Yuzu paste flavour or The Pearl, perfect for the whisky and date lovers.
AvailableNOW to 31 October 2017 at The Woobar at The W Hotel
Served: An Afternoon Tea Set is served on Monday – Friday (except public holidays) from 2:30pm at $418 + 10% for two whilst an Afternoon Tea buffet is served on Saturday and Sunday including public holidays from 2:30pm – 5:30pm at $330 + 10% per person. Cocktails are priced at $140+10%
Call: (852) 37172889
‘The history of Whoo’ Afternoon Tea at The Intercontinental
If you are into Korean culture, cosmetics and food, the Lobby Lounge at the Intercontinental has also partnered with premium Korean skincare brand, ‘The history of Whoo’, to launch an Afternoon Tea Set that is all about consuming ingredients that preserve one’s beauty and prevent ageing, all inspired by Korean royal court beauty secrets which kind of reminds me of a throw back to that immensely popular K-drama, ‘Jewel In The Palace’ some years back.
Their Afternoon tea is both savoury and sweet so there are items like Ginseng chicken rolls, an Angelica slow cooked Pork belly on brioche bread and a Comfit Foie Gras and goji berry chutney on crispy bread, served alongside pastry items like the Whoo Macaroon, a Calvados Jelly Apple Pie, Almond Cream, Tea Cakes, Panna Cottas and Scones.
Available at The Intercontinental Hotel’s Lobby Lounge 18 Sep to 30 November 2017
Served: There is a Weekday Afternoon Tea set at $608 for 2 persons (Monday to Friday) and a Weekend Afternoon Tea Set at $628 for 2 persons (Saturday, Sunday & Public Holidays)
Extras: The Tea Set is inclusive of two special ‘The history of Whoo’ Bichup Royal Anti-aging Kits (valued at $500 each) plus two gift cards with special offers for products at “The history of Whoo” shop in Harbour City. Beauty afficianados who bought items at ‘The history of Whoo’ with a receipt can also enjoy 20% off of the Afternoon Tea Set for 2 persons.
Alongside this, the Hotel has arranged a series of Korean Handicraft Workshops on how to make simple Korean style accessories like Dried Flower Bracelets on Friday, Sept 22, October 27 and November 24 and a Korean Knots Workshop on Friday, Oct 13 and Nov 10. Details here.
Call: (852) 2721 1211
A Van Cleef & Arpels Nature-Inspired Tea at The Peninsula
With a new boutique just opened at the iconic Peninsula Hotel’s Arcade, jewelry brand Van Cleef & Arpels have gone the extra mile to commemorate the occasion by launching a high tea that aims to serve up a range of treats that is almost as exquisite as the jewelry they sell.
Presented on a silver platter, there are fruit tarts like the Lemon and Basil, Chocolate Tarts with Milk Chocolate Chantilly, apricot macarons, a mango and passionfruit choux that reflects the brand’s 3D heart shaped petals in their collection and savouries like the nicoise salad, croquet monsieur, smoked salmon rolls with lemon cress and carrot bread and the Pen’s all time favourites, the dill-marinated cucumber sandwiches and their freshly baked scones with organic strawberry jam and clotted cream.
AvailableNOW till 30 September 2017 at The Peninsula’s Lobby Lounge
Served: Daily from 2pm to 6pm at $388 per person or $688 for 2 persons. Champagne is at an extra $220 per glass. Each table gets a Van Cleef & Arpels notebook from their iconic Frivole™ jewelry collection, evoked by enchanting blooms (whilst stocks last)
Call: (852) 2920 2888
Afternoon Tea with Cody The Red Panda at The Cordis
If your kids are coming to tea with you over the weekend, then tea with Cody, The Red Panda at The Cordis Hotel, is an absolute MUST! Cody is the Cordis Hotel’s red panda mascot and he is a hit with the youngsters and will be hanging out at The Place every weekend and on public holidays during the Hotel’s Afternoon Tea Buffet.
He is endangered as red pandas are, so make sure that the time with Cody is well spent and make it an educational experience for your young ones by visiting the booth at the buffet that explains what is being done to protect the red panda. Each child at the buffet will receive a red panda backpack with different Cody themed goodies. There are activities for the kids including handicraft sessions for kids to turn some of the hotel’s recyclables into toys and a colouring contest with attractive prizes. Kids can take pictures with Cody or pick up a plush toy where proceeds go towards the Ocean Park Conservation Foundation to support wildlife conservation including the preservation of red pandas and their habitats.
Cody is a particularly generous guy so kids aged 6 years or below are invited to enjoy the buffet for free. The buffet is tailor made and filled with kids’ favourite tea time items, including Cheese Spring Rolls, BBQ Chicken Drumsticks, and Pan-seared Japanese Pork Sausages, delicious desserts including assorted Cody-shaped Cookies, Blood Orange Cody Mousse Cake, and Cody Cupcakes. Kids are also invited to make their own crepes and puffs. One of the most comprehensive tea buffets available, find Pineapple Chicken Salad, Melon Salad with Shrimp, Salmon Sashimi, Snapper Sashimi, California Maki Roll, Deep Fried Shrimp Toast, Scrambled Egg with Black Truffle Paste, Wok Fried Korean Fish Cake, Korean Dumplings with Vegetable Broth, Japanese Soup Noodles, Indian Vegetarian Curry, Hong Kong Dim Sums, Coffee Opera Cake, American Cheesecake, Strawberry Panna Cotta, Mövenpick Ice Cream and more on the menu.
Available16 September till 15 October 2017 at The Place, The Cordis Hotel at Langham Place, Mongkok at $248 for Adults and $198 for Kids and Seniors.
Served on weekends and public holidays from 16 September to 15 October 2017
Extras: Each Cordis Kid will receive a red panda backpack with different Cody themed goodies. They can also join the complimentary handicraft session to turn some of the hotel’s recyclable into toys. Each adult can bring up to 2 children, 6 years and under for free.
Call: (852) 3552 3028
We’ve well crossed the halfway mark for the year, and those of us with kids will soon be hunkering down for the kids’ impending exam season. (My household is in holding position for the IB.) Now’s not a bad time to start planning for the year-end holidays and look out for good deals from the airlines. If you’re planning a private tour, which is something I often do, it gives you and the agent plenty of time to organise a really great personalised itinerary. On one such holiday to Prague, we asked the travel agency — our favourite Chicago-based R.Crusoe & Son — to weave in a few really special places to visit. In addition to the usual tourist sights, this is what we saw and what you should see if you’re heading that way.
Sedlac Ossuary in Kutna Hora. Not for the faint-hearted, and indeed, not for every taste, this grisly skeleton church is one perverse piece of aesthetics. Located in the pretty town of Kutna Hora about an hour’s train ride/drive from Prague, it’s a relatively small church whose entire interior is covered in the skulls and bones of over 40,000 people, from plague victims of The Black Death in the 14th century and soldiers killed in the Hussite wars in the 15th century.
These bones were made into huge elaborate chandeliers, banners, arches and even a family crest. Look out for display cases which show some skulls of people who died during the past war, sporting great holes in their skulls. Makes you ponder about life and death. But about 15 minutes of morbid fascination is enough. Then we moved on to the majestic UNESCO-Heritage stamped St Barbara’s Cathedral a short walk away, with its gorgeous paintings, stained glass windows, soaring arches and decorated ceilings. After that, stroll around the picturesque town to see its quaint, historic architecture, the public drinking fountain and sit by a cafe and sip some local wines.
The Strahov Monastic Library. This goes down as one of the top most magical places I have ever set foot in. We saw this in an art textbook some time ago, and the daughter said she would really love to see it. So when we realised we were heading to Prague, we asked the travel agent to see if they could organise a visit there. They did. They made some special arrangements to get is in to see, feel and touch the incredibly old books.
On average the books around us dated from the 1500s, all wrapped in bleached pig skin softened with time. The “really old” books are locked away, the oldest being a bible dating back to circa 800AD. The library is stunning to say the least. The globes, the writing tables were what the monks actually used to write or copy the books around us. What’s even more amazing is that when we visited, the library was not actually open to the public. You could take a peek from the door, but we were so blown away that they had arranged a special visit just for us. Now, from what we understand, the library is open to limited numbers. You can get the information here.
The Lennon Wall. Take a leisurely stroll around the city of Prague and make your way to the Lennon Wall near Mala Strana, near the French Embassy. It’s a beautiful wall completely filled with graffitti, many with references to the Beatles, and Lennon in particular. You could spend quite some time reading the graffiti and appreciating the street art, which is really quite clever. But what makes this wall so special is its role in the fight for freedom when Czechoslovakia was still under communist rule in the 80s. Western pop was banned then, including The Beatles, who sang about peace. But the youth were agitating for freedom, and would scrawl anti-communist graffiti on the wall at night — considered subversive to the state and which could have gotten them arrested.
When Lennon was murdered in 1980, he became something of a heroic figure to the youth then, and at night, the youth would write tributes to Lennon in the form of lyrics from his songs, even pictures of him, and their own thoughts about freedom and peace. Every time the authorities white washed the wall, new graffiti would appear the next morning, of poems and paintings of Lennon. It became a symbol of the youth’s non-violent rebellion against the regime, and some believe it played a role in inspiring the Velvet Revolution which ended communist rule in the country in 1989. Graffiti still continues to be painted on the wall in tribute to Lennon, and the owners of the wall — the Knights of the Maltese Cross — continue to allow it.
Where to stay: The Four Seasons Prague is perfectly located for exploring Prague, just by the river and a short walk to the iconic Charles Bridge. Get the Renaissance Rooms (at least) which were renovated relatively recently. They are a very decent size (from 40 sq m) and are very tastefully appointed in classic European style with a contemporary restraint. The food is very decent, too, in its all-day bistro, if you’re too tired to venture out after a long day of walking. Sit by the terrace and watch the river in the sunset (if the weather permits). They also surprise you with a small dessert treat every evening at turndown.
(This trip was my own personal holiday, paid fully by myself. Recommendations here are not paid for nor sponsored. )
A few years ago, Lord of the Rings sparked a wanderlust among fans to make pilgrimages to locations at which the movies were filmed. Now, it’s Game of Thrones. According to hotels.com, there has been a huge surge in searches for Seven Kingdoms-inspired destinations such as Iceland, Spain, Croatia, and Northern Ireland, which featured heavily the show. With the season finale upon us, perhaps it’s time for thronies to plot your own holiday to explore Westeros. Here are some good and affordable hotels that hotels.com came up with from where you can base your explorations.
Croatia a.k.a. the land of Meereen , Braavos and King’s Landing. For history nerds like me, the breezy town of Split is the place to go for its UNESCO Heritage Diocletian Palace, a majestic, walled palace of the Roman emperor Diocletian. For Thronies, it is Meereen. Stay at the 4 star Bella Notte Di Spalato (from S$264 per night) within the walls of the palace, and spend hours wandering its alleys and laneways. People still live in there, and go about their daily lives so you also soak in some nice local flavour as well.
Braavos is the lesser known town of Sibenik. Stay at the Heritage Hotel Life Palace (from $227 per night), a quick skip from the famous St James Cathedral. And while we’re in Croatia, how can you miss its most famous jewel, the gorgeous town of Dubrovnik, with its old walls and tenements, palaces and ancient walls on which you must walk. Here is King’s Landing where the Iron Throne is, and Blackwater Bay.
Seville in Spain is the location for the Water Gardens of Dorne. To be exact, the Alcazar Palace, a Moorish castle built in the 1300s. Base yourself at the 3.5 star Hotel Boutique Elvira Plaza (from S$126 per night) just a short trot from the palace.
To sample the life of the Wildlings and White Walkers, head to Iceland and check into the trendy Fosshotel Myvatn (from S$349 per night), with its streamlined interiors, beautiful views and just a half hour’s walk to Lake Myvatn, the location used for Beyond the Wall. While there, check out the Myvatn Nature Baths and Hverfjall Crater. Lots of other sites and experiences to explore in Iceland, like visiting Elf School and walking on two tectonic plates; check it out here.
Morocco’s ancient city of Essaouira is the film location for Astapor, the home of the Unsullied Army. Stay in the 4 star Dar L‘Oussia (from $107 per night), along the old Portuguese fortification by the sea, where most of the filming of Astapor took place. Located only minutes from the beach.
From there, head on to UNESCO Heritage site Ait Benhaddou, between the Sahara and Marrakech, and stay at The Dar El Haja (from S$71 per night). Here is the film location of Yunkai the Yellow City, where slave trading took place in GoT. But in the here and now, soak in the ancient streets of this town and its amazing architecture.