All About ME

There is something about sneaking out of an afternoon and heading into town to stay at a hotel. Being asked did you have a pleasant  journey, upon arrival at reception, highlighted the indulgence of nipping out to repose at a 5 start hotel.

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Yet the dramatic and stylish interior of the ME, London hotel positioned in an island at the end of the Strand, offers a haven away from the humdrum of every day life. As a native. As a tourist it is perfectly positioned for Covent Garden and theatre going. It offers a modern, fresh look associated with Barcelona and other avant garde European cities. The ME, London is the perfect antidote to classic traditional opulence of say Claridges.

This modernity does provide a different angle to London and the stylish aspect of the rooms and suites is clearly reflected of the design work of architects Foster + Partners. Although I did actualy not now how to use certain things or find a few lights switches!

The most pleasurable aspect of using the room was sitting with a magazine on the floor in the floor to ceiling window overhanging the road below. It seemed exciting and relaxing in one. The beauty of being still in an urban environment.

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The purpose of my stay was to catch up with some girlfriends and consequently we did not leave the ME. Instead we traversed from our rooms to while away the late afternoon in the Marconi bar, then back to the room to change for dinner and down to dinner in STK.

Of course we then ended our evening at the Radio Rooftop bar with some cocktails and dancing. Which was slightly foolish as I really didn’t do justice to the gorgeous Cucina Asellina the following morning. The breakfast selection was as stunning as the setting. I was a tad fragile through no fault but my own. Which was ultimately the great aspect of my stay. One hotel could provide me an all round experience without setting foot outside. It was the perfect venue for a meet with friends and the setting, the service all added to a refreshing occasion in a stand out London hotel.

Kate Battrick stayed at the ME, London with friends, all arranged with preferential rates by Travel Counsellor Olivia Posca in 2016 

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Travel Essentials 1

This item has been everywhere with me for over ten years. When I pack it in a suitcase, or back neatly into my travel draw at home, it carries all the places and holds all the memories in its fabric. It is the handiest and most loved item I have. My hammam towel.

I bought mine all those years ago from Toast, but have recently noted that they are now available anywhere and everywhere. Online Sorbet do a lovely range in an array of colours.

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Olive Oil Tasting

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Cold pressed olive oil. Remember when you hunted it down? Looked frantically to get it for that recipe! Smugly nodded, yes it is cold pressed. Well …it seems we were all sold a pup. Apparently, according to good authority, it was a method last used by the then Arabs in 711. Yes that’s right the Gregorian 8th century.

My good authority is the owner, David Gallarado of D.Olivia, a beautiful specialist olive oil shop in Marbella town. As I perch on a stool with an array of dishes with oil in front of me, I feel slightly cheated. It isn’t wine! Mind you given it was 11am on a Saturday morning this was probably a good thing. My fellow olive oil tasters probably thought the same.

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Not knowing what to expect, David cleverly asked questions to engage us in his talk on olive oil. The most surprising piece of information is the fact Spain is the biggest producer of olive oil. A staggering 55% of production compared to the 9% produced by Italy. Interestingly Italy is the major purchaser of Spain’s olive oil. Suddenly, it dawned on me, like the cold press scam, the marketing of olive oil is more dynamic than our real understanding or appreciation of it.

The next known fact to be firmly dispelled is the notion that there is any issue when cooking with olive oil. A view supported by this article here from the Huffington Post. As David explained, olive oil is juice extracted from the olive. It is very stable, has good properties and can be used 4 to 5 times when cooking with it. No need to pour excess down the sink instead put it in to a jar or container to reuse. By now, I’m feeling fully equipped to be an olive oil expert, an excellent recycler and a champion supporter of the water companies.

Then we really get down to the business of grading detail and taste. Whilst the grading of olive oil is straightforward; there are three qualities of olive oil: extra virgin, virgin and olive oil. Extra virgin is the best grade due to an acidity level under 0.8 degrees. This means there is the minimum level of fruitiness in this grade of oil. Virgin falls in between 0.8 to 2 degrees implying it is not so bad in taste that it require refining; but plain old olive oil is the stuff that is over 2 degrees and is not allowed for consumption, unless it is refined. It then gets about 15% of virgin olive oil combined with it to give it some colour and smell.

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Back to the tasting of the oils in front of us.  In this respect our novice approach is obvious, ‘fruity’ is our best offering on anything when asked to describe the taste. Which fruit? Um, pretty stumped. However, the nose and the palate begins to improve and before you know it we are tasting some olive oils to die for and can tell which vegetables and fruit might have influence the taste or our nose. After the hard core method of sipping and slurping, the mood is relaxed with bread. The olive oil and bread combination hits the divine button!

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Tasting olive oil is a wonderful way to engage with something probably taken for granted, and I can now make wiser choices, in my selection of oils, when food shopping. Afterwards we enjoyed browsing the shop which has so many delightful little touches and great products to buy. D.Olivia is an incredible find in Marbella and well worth a visit. It was thanks to good local knowledge that it was discovered and it is a reminder to always get recommendations when staying at a good hotel.

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Kate Battrick was travelling with Olivia Posca and Ben Burgess, Travel Counsellors and were guests at Puente Romano Beach Resort & Spa Marbella. The olive oil tasting at D.Olivia was organised by the now retired Sales Director Manuel Jimenez.

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Puente Romano Beach Resort & Spa Marbella

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Set back from the beach, the Puente Romano resort is equidistance (for walking) between Puerto Banus and Marbella town. Its location is a gem. The hotel offers the perfect blend of tranquillity and isolation to bask in, with the option to step into the nightlife or go sightseeing. If you are looking for escape and relaxation you can get it by basking in the setting’s replicated architecture of an Andalusian village. It is an unusual feast of loveliness, sanitised in all its glory (the cleanliness is a marvel). The ideal option for those wanting a stress free, indulgent, no need to move week away.

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The ease of having a door to door airport to hotel pick up will allow you to dispense with car hire immediately, and give you a chance to change your mind set to which book to reach for next to the sun lounger. The start to the day at breakfast is a pleasurable affair that is worthy of the hotels five star rating alone. In fact the dining options are varied and comprehensive. With the added bonus of a truly impressive two star Michelin restaurant from chef Dani Garćia. A fairy tale of a dining setting, with its ambient intimacy of greenery and low lighting coupled with the vista of an open kitchen to view and explore. Dani Garćia offers both a tasting menu and à la carte. The addition of a gluten free café Celicioso is a bonus for coeliac or people choosing to go gluten free. However it may not be helpful to pop into the gorgeous Les Deux if you are watching your waistline!

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Dani Garćia restuarant

The ability to sample a variety of eating options only adds to the relaxation of the location because it allows you to bask in your surrounds. This is the perfect opportunity to utilise your location if, recharging your wellbeing and resetting the calm button, is a key factor of your holiday. It’s likely then the most stressful option could be booking a spa treatment. The next most taxing moment might be choosing between pool or beach side for lounging. The hotel has three pools to choose from with an additional children’s pool. The beach facilities are set across from the promenade, which stretches the length of the areas coastline, seventeen kilometres in total along the Costa del Sol. Towels are provided for the beds in a specific area, although it is a public beach. If it is a clear day there is an incredible view of the tip of Andalucía and Gibraltar with the added sight of the distance haze of Morocco, which is only eight nautical miles across from the strait of Gibraltar.

 

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The combination of location and weather add to the significant factor of Puente Romano being a fabulous destination for the discerning traveller. As much as it offers relaxation, the hotel facilities are a boon for families with the hotel’s free Kids Club for guests. It is an excellent location for tennis players, with its own tennis club developed by tennis legend Bjorn Borg, and perfectly placed for enjoying golf. The hotel also offers complimentary yoga lessons with a vey talented Kundalini yoga teacher, Natalia.

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With a wide selection of rooms from double, suites, villas and specific family rooms there is plenty to delight for a good nights sleep at the Puente Romano Beach Resort.

 

[Kate Battrick was a guest at the Puente Romano Beach & Spa Resort in April 2016. Staying in a Deluxe Junior Suite, eating at the Sea Grill restaurant and participating in complimentary yoga lessons.]

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