Blog

Musings, thoughts, events and things we love

TALKING COCKTAILS WITH ALESSANDRO PIZZOLI, AWARD WINNING MIXOLOGIST

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Pop into the bar at the Kensington Hotel, and there’s every chance you’ll be served up a cocktail from in-house mixologist and bar assistant manager, Alessandro Pizzoli. Alessandro has been working in the field for many years, starting in his hometown of Bologna and building credentials at some of the world’s finest five star hotels, including the Palace Hotel and the Ritz. His work has won him many an award, as well as exclusive gigs such as the wedding of Luciano Pavarotti. We talked to him about his inspirations, recipes and what you can expect from a cocktail at the Kensington Hotel.

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THINGS TO DO ON A RAINY DAY IN DUBLIN

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National Museum of Ireland Natural History

It’s no secret that Dublin can be a little bit… drizzly. We can be blessed with long, summer days, when restaurant tables spill into the streets and the days stretch long into the night. Or with a crisp, autumnal afternoon with bright blue skies and chilly air. But we’re no strangers to a good bit of rainfall.

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THE BLOOMSBURY GUIDE TO BOUTIQUE HOTELS

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Boutique Hotel Banner

It’s safe to say the word ‘boutique’ is currently enjoying a cultural resurgence; shops, markets, festivals, and of course - hotels, all become slightly more attractive if this magic word is slotted in beside them!  Though it certainly conjures up images of cosy, handmade produce and quirky, lovingly-selected decor, who among us is completely certain what boutique actually means? Well, when it comes to hotels, there are certain criteria that must be fulfilled before the b-word can be used. Read on, and let’s put an end to boutique myths once and for all...

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A QUICK SUPERFOOD SALAD WITH EDEMAME, BEETROOT AND POMEGRANATE

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Superfood salad from the Marylebone Hotel

Summer might be over but salads needn’t be ignored until next year. This fragrant concoction is bursting with colour and flavour, and has all the rich nutrients to leave you fighting fit in the winter months. Part of the gluten free Afternoon Tea at The Marylebone and The Kensington Hotel, this Superfood Salad is usually served in a gem lettuce leaf. It’s also one of the best sellers from the main menu.

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EVITA COMES TO WASHINGTON DC

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Evita at The Kennedy Centre Dupont Washington

The award-winning Broadway musical Evita is on tour, and next up is Washington’s Kennedy Center on September 30th till October 19th – with its crystal chandeliers and red carpeting, there is no better place for Eva Peron’s mix of glamour and politics. 

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THE GOLDEN TICKET

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The All-Ireland final is one of the most un-missable events on the Irish social and sporting calendar. Think of the frenzy around the Summer Olympic Games or the Super Bowl, and you have ticket demand on a similar scale here on this Island. At The Croke Park Hotel, we’re more familiar with this than most, given our proximity to the home of GAA.

When planning a trip from abroad, experiencing the Gaelic games in Croke Park should be top of your list. Tickets for most matches aren’t as hard to come by as the All Ireland final however.  Here, our General Manager Alan Smullen shares a familiar story experienced by many who search for an elusive Golden Ticket in the lead up to All Ireland Sunday.

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BEAT ON THE STREET: LONDON'S BEST STREET EVENTS

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There’s no doubt you’ll be positively spoilt for choice when trying to figure out what to do during your visit to London. A diverse melting-pot of cultures with a fascinating history to boot, there’s an opportunity for sightseeing around every corner. What’s more, the city boasts a vibrant nightlife scene, meaning you can party into the wee hours in some fantastic bars and clubs too.

However, we’re going to throw a spanner in the works with yet another exciting option! A series of fun street events also regularly take place during the day around London. Here, you can sample the city’s array of music, food and culture, while chatting to locals and visitors alike. Here are just some of our favourites…

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THE KENSINGTON SUITE: LONDON'S LARGEST TOWNHOUSE SUITE

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Kensington Suite London Best Suites in London

Planning a special trip to London, and fancy experiencing a new level of lavish accommodation? Look no further than the Kensington Hotel, and the Kensington Suite – the city’s largest townhouse suite.

A versatile option for anyone seeking spacious residential-style accommodation, this stunning, French-inspired suite boasts convenient interconnecting living spaces, meaning it can be reserved as either a one, two or three-bedroom configuration. And though it offers uninterrupted views over leafy South Kensington, we doubt you’ll want to leave for very long!

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THE ULTIMATE DUBLIN FOODIE GUIDE FROM GIRL EATS DUBLIN

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Afternoon Tea in Dublin at The Westbury

Catherine Flynn has lived in Dublin for 13 years and is an avid fan of the Dublin foodie scene. Her love of discovering new dining spots in Dublin has manifested itself in the popular blog, Girl Eats Dublin. Catherine is also a longtime fan of The Westbury Hotel, so we thought she was the perfect candidate to give us the lowdown on places to eat and explore around town. Follow Catherine’s recommendations if you do wish to go further afield than our own Wilde and Café Novo!

“When I lived in London a few years back, one of my favourite treats was to stay a night or two at The Westbury on a trip home to Dublin. Now that I’m back home, alas, I’ve no such excuse, so instead I’m going to live vicariously by offering you my pick of the many great dining options you’ll have on your doorstep during your stay. You couldn’t be better located for a weekend of shopping, sightseeing and of course, eating."

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UP, UP & AWAY: BRISTOL INTERNATIONAL BALLOON FIESTA

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Bristol Balloon Festival Photo

Be sure to mark August 7 - 10 in the diaries folks, as what might be the most fun event ever is set to take place in beautiful Bristol! The annual Bristol International Balloon Fiesta - amazingly in its 36th year - will see a host of hot-air ballooning enthusiasts descend (quite literally!) on the city's beautiful Ashton Court Estate. And while these experts - who'll be visiting from all over the world - light up the sky with their colourful balloons, there'll be plenty happening on the ground too to keep punters entertained.

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LONDON SUMMER STYLE

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Hannah Jones London Street Style

London is a must-visit destination for any style-conscious traveler, and summer is the best time to get out and about to check out the latest fashions! There’s no better location for fashion-spotting than at the world famous Wimbledon Tennis Championships; and so last week, we asked street-style photographer Dvora to find out what the tennis-going public are wearing this season…

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A GLASS ACT IN THE WESTBURY HOTEL

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Dale Chihuly Golden Wheat Macchia with Crimson-Lip Wrap

Explore and enjoy the world of art and culture in The Westbury Hotel by viewing world renown artist's Dale Chihuly's spectacular and stunning Macchia with Glass Lip Wrap. With an incomparable skill and beauty, this piece will be on view until July 31st in the salubrious Westbury Hotel, keeping company with works by both Louis le Brocquy and Sir John Lavery.

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A BITE OF BRISTOL

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With the annual Foodies Festival around the corner, there’s no better time to experience the local food produce around Bristol.

This month the Foodies Festival, the UK’s largest celebration of food and drink, will return to Bristol’s Harbourside. Thousands of visitors from the city and beyond are expected to take part in a range of culinary activities. 

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WIMBLEDON'S BEST MOMENTS

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Wimbledon

From Sir Cliff Richard singing in the rain to John McEnroe's tantrum, Wimbledon has entertained us over the years. Will 2014 add another gem to our list? Maybe so.

Here’s a look at a few of the most memorable moments.

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WICKED COMES TO BRISTOL

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Wicked at Bristol Hippodrome Full Cast

Bristol theatre fans will be delighted to learn that the epic, award-winning musical Wicked is set for a run in the city’s Hippodrome Theatre in early 2015.

A witty take on L. Frank Baum’s classic story The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz– which was of course made into a dazzling 1939 film starring Judy Garland –Wicked is in fact based on a 1995 novel by Gregory Maguire, titled Wicked: The Life & Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. In this clever and subversive tale, we travel back in time to meet teenagers Elphaba (the awkward and self-conscious Wicked Witch of the West) and Glinda (a hilariously high-maintenance Good Witch of the North!) who, despite very different views on the world, become friends. We won’t give any more away – let’s just say the film won’t ever feel the same after you understand the factors that led to the Wicked Witch’s fall from grace!

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CORK RUNNING ROUTES - A GUIDE MAP

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Cork Running Map Header

In advance of the Cork City Marathon, we asked our staff about their favourite places to run in Cork. Over 22 of the staff at The River Lee Hotel are currently training for the Cork City Marathon so there is a wealth of running-knowledge available. Our general manager Ruairi O’Connor is particularly keen, and has shared his favourite routes… we've even prepared this handy map for you to take with you on your visit!

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10 LOVELY THINGS TO DO IN KENSINGTON

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Things to Do in Kensington Palace Gardens

- Kensington Palace Gardens, London

So you’ve booked that well-deserved break, and are officially Kensington-bound. We look forward to having you! First though, it’s time to plan what you’d like to get up to during your stay – and believe us, there’s plenty on offer in this charming west-London district!

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CORK CITY MARATHON – A FAMILY AFFAIR

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Cork City Marathon

It is amazing how many Cork people including myself have such fond memories of the marathon. Our family home was on the marathon route, and the day of the marathon was always akin to a street festival. Neighbours were out from early morning making sure the street – actually avenue as we were posh - looked its very best and poor unfortunate runners were provide with copious amounts of water and sponges as they passed by.

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ROMANTIC CORK: 14 THINGS TO DO

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Cork Romantic Things to Do Beach

Looking for a perfect romantic getaway destination? Well look no further! County Cork - in the south of Ireland – has it all; a vibrant capital city that’s renowned for its food, culture and nightlife, as well as some of the country’s most breathtaking landscapes, mountains and forests. 

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BLOOMSDAY ADVENTURES IN DUBLIN

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Bloomsday James Joyce Costume

Though it’s a whopping 92 years since Dublin author James Joyce’s iconic tome Ulysses was first published, fans of the writer make sure that this modernist work is suitably celebrated every year!  And since Ulysses charts the journey of one man – Leopold Bloom – through Dublin on June 16, what better date to pay annual homage! This year, as always, there are plenty of fun activities taking place around the city. Here are our top five recommendations...

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THE GLOSS MAGAZINE & BROWN THOMAS: SUMMER 2014 FASHION SHOWCASE AT THE WESTBURY HOTEL

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Wilde Restaurant at Westbury Hotel Dublin

On April 10th, The Gloss Magazine welcomed over 70 eager fashion fans to an exciting and colourful showcase of Brown Thomas’ Spring / Summer 2014 collection. Dublin writer Maeve Heslin attended the event, which was held in the decadent surroundings of the Westbury Hotel’s Wilde Restaurant.

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REVISITING LUTYENS ARCHITECTURE IN LONDON

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The Bloomsbury Hotel

The Bloomsbury Hotel has a very special heritage. We asked journalist Karl McDonald to investigate the rich history and architecture of this iconic building...

Visitors to London with even a passing interest in architecture should be sure to head along to the Bloomsbury Hotel, located just around the corner from the city’s bustling Oxford Street. In the front lounge, the noble, bespectacled face of Sir Edwin Lutyens gazes silently out from behind the bar, offering a glimpse into this iconic building’s rich history.

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THE ROAD OF CROKER: FROM ORCHARD TO STADIUM

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Croke Park History of Banner

Not many countries can lay claim to a national sport that captures the attention of an entire country, weekend-in weekend-out. Would you believe then, that Ireland has two! The enduring success of the country’s beloved Gaelic games (hurling and Gaelic football) is symbolised in Croke Park, the 82,000-seater stadium it calls home. And it has quite a story to tell! From meek beginnings in the late 19th century, this iconic symbol on the northside of Dublin city has grown to become Europe’s fourth-largest stadium, and an enduring and powerful symbol in Irish cultural memory. 

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ART EXHIBITIONS AT THE MARYLEBONE HOTEL

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Marylebone Art Exhibitions Banner

What's the best way to describe the Marylebone Hotel's love affair with art? We asked journalist Karl McDonald to put it in his own words...

While for some hotels, the paintings that adorn the walls are design elements rather than focal points for guests, at the Marylebone Hotel – they’re trying something different! It’s hardly surprising, given both their long-standing association with literature and the arts, and the fact that they’re a go-do destination for critics and buyers alike when the Frieze Art Fair rolls into nearby Regents Park every October. As such, the hotel’s proprietors wanted to make each guest’s journey through the building as visually engaging as possible.  Rather than passive imagery flanking your walk from bedroom to breakfast or meeting, some serious thought has gone into the Marylebone’s art. To help with this exciting project, they’ve engaged the folks at Rebecca Hossack Gallery – with two spaces nearby in central London and one in New York – to lend some expertise.

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EXPLORING THE DUBLIN OF JAMES JOYCE: A GUIDE MAP

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Map of James Joyce Dublin

What are the must-see sights for any literary fan in Dublin? We've created a handy map for you to explore while Daniel Gray takes us through the Dublin of James Joyce...

Argentina's most prominent writer of the 20th century Jorge Luis Borges visited Dublin for the 100th birthday of his Irish counterpart, James Joyce, during 1982's Bloomsday. Borges had turned blind, just like Joyce before him, but in a beautiful interview with the poet Seamus Heaney made during his visit the South American  he said he reveled in "walking the imaginary landscape", able to build his own vision of Dublin from the sprawling epic Ulysses, the short story collection Dubliners and the novel Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man which had been such an influence on him for so much of his life.

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AFTERNOON TEA AT THE BLOOMSBURY HOTEL

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Lutyens Lounge

Escape the hustle and bustle of the West End but still enjoy the convenience of a hotel near Covent Garden in London. Savor our traditional Afternoon Tea in the relaxed surroundings of the Lutyens Lounge. Executive Head Chef Paul O'Brien has designed a delightful range of finger sandwiches, delicious scones with jam and cream and freshly baked cakes.

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AFTERNOON TEA IN THE BRISTOL HOTEL

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2013 classic afternoon tea - Relax, Unwind and Enjoy

It’s not everyday you get to relax in the afternoon, take time for yourself and indulge in a sumptuous afternoon tea. It’s time to spoil yourself!

Popular theory says the tradition of Afternoon Tea was created by Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford in the early 19th Century. Customary for dinner to be served late in the day, Anna created a new meal to satisfy the gap between lunch and dinner and Afternoon Tea was born. After a time, friends were invited to join her for this new meal. Popularity increased and the idea of Afternoon Tea quickly spread, the meal becoming a fashionable event in social circles.

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AFTERNOON TEA AT THE KENSINGTON HOTEL

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Enjoy your afternoon tea in the gracious surroundings of The Kensington Hotel, one of the finest hotels in London. Sit and watch the world go by from one of our Regency-style drawing rooms with period features, magnificent bay windows, real fireplaces and original art complemented by designer furnishings .

Add a glass of Moet Chandon Champagne to make your tea extra special and enjoy between delightful English scones with homemade jams and clotted cream in addition to a host of savoury delicacies. Truly relax at The Kensington Hotel.

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AFTERNOON TEA AT THE WESTBURY HOTEL DUBLIN

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afternoon tea at the westbury

Watch the world go by from The Gallery - An infamous spot for a teatime tête & tête among the city’s business and social aristocracy, The Gallery offers what other Luxury Dublin hotels cannot, an ideal perspective on Dublin life, with an elevated view of the Grafton Street throng and over €1m of Irish art acquisitions on display.

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THE MELTING POT OF WASHINGTON

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Washington Local Guide Dupont in Snow

Washington - one of the great melting pots of the world. We invited one local writer to explain what this means from the insider perspective...

Dupont Circle doesn't seem like a place to consider the more existential questions in life. It’s a park enclosed in a traffic circle enclosed in a neighborhood that all share the same name. On a Saturday morning in November, it’s simply a leaf-strewn retreat from the marble testaments to power that seem to rise from the ground in Washington, D.C., as naturally as amber waves of grain or purple mountain majesties in other parts of the country. A toddler in the truest sense of the word falls to the ground in the park. “Back up,” his father says. A young woman in tight yoga pants carries a cup of coffee. She won’t be the last. A group of middle school students from New Jersey shuffles one by one in their green and blue and pink and red sweatshirts. A handsome older man with close-cropped silver hair and a tan-fitted jacket strains to read his smartphone against the glare of an unseasonably warm sun. He closes his eyes. Serenity now.

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CORK CITY AT CHRISTMAS: AN ILLUSTRATED GUIDE MAP

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Cork City Christmas Map Banner

Whether it’s festive shopping, an outdoor adventure for the kids, or a spot of panto you’re after, you’ll be spoilt for choice in Cork City at Christmas. To celebrate the festive season, the city centre is transformed each year into a veritable wonderland, and what’s more - in the surrounding streets, you’ll find a host of hidden gems selling vintage clothes, local artisan foods and antique jewellery. To help you plan your perfect Christmas in Cork City, we’ve even prepared a handy illustrated map for you to download.

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A GUIDE MAP FOR LONDON BOUTIQUE SHOPPING

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London Shopping Map Banner

London is undoubtedly one of the world’s great shopping cities. From the hustle and bustle of Oxford Circus, to the exquisite boutiques and restaurants of Kensington and Knightsbridge’s ritzy department stores, there’s a reason why British shopping is a global export, with quintessential London style never dipping out of fashion.

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A DAY IN BRISTOL

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Bristol Clifton Susupension Bridge

Planning a trip to Bristol? We’ve got you covered! This beautiful harbour city in the South-West of England is the perfect meeting-point of old and new; you’ll learn about its colourful maritime history while also experiencing an exciting slice of contemporary urban life. In other words, no matter where your interests lie - there’s plenty to see and do! With that in mind, we’ve put together an itinerary to help you get the most from your day out in Bristol. Read on…

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