Showing posts with label Michelin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Michelin. Show all posts

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Las Vegas, Luxury Stays and Eats

Las Vegas Strip

Last month I discovered on my first trip to Las Vegas that this city is full of excellent places to eat and stay. Nor is glamour in short supply, this is a resort city famed for its vibrant nightlife, centred around 24-hour casinos, luxurious eateries and late night bars.

Its main street and focal point is the Strip which is just over 4 miles long. The boulevard is home to new and old Vegas glam with themed hotels featuring elaborate displays. One such display is the famed fountains of the Bellagio; they are synchronised to 'dance' to music coordinated to an elaborate coloured light show. You can also find replicas of an Egyptian pyramid, the Venetian Grand Canal, and the Eiffel Tower.

In the Strip, you can find some very opulent places to stay and eat. Here are some of the new-ish and cool places where I stayed and would recommend.

Luxury stays in Las Vegas

A Modern Las Vegas Atmosphere At The Cosmopolitan Hotel
The Cosmopolitan Vegas Hotel Bedroom

Unlike the traditional, old-school casino hotels I've seen in films, the Cosmo is built and designed for contemporary tastes. Its spacious rooms are decorated with modern interiors, and the establishment itself holds multiple bars and restaurants for your enjoyment. The Cosmo is famous amongst foodies, Vegas super-fans, fashionistas, and anyone else looking for a truly luxurious experience. It’s located near many other attractions such as the CityCentre complex and just next to the Bellagio casino. My room had a view of its magnificent fountains.

The Cosmo was established to challenge the traditional casino hotel model and has paired its contemporary interior with digital new media art. Still, it pays homage to the old styles with vintage touches throughout, including grand chandeliers, old telephones, and vintage seating in its huge reception area. I was dazzled by the magnitude of this hotel.

The Cosmopolitan enormous bath in my room 60th floor overlooking Las Vegas Strip

The Boulevard Pool at the hotel overlooks the famous Vegas Strip and makes numerous available activities for guests to relax properly. You can lie down in a cabana bungalow at the pool club, enjoy a Turkish-style bath at the spa, or take a stroll around the unique shops that are spread throughout.

There are nearly 3,000 contemporary rooms and suites, which were originally meant to be a private condominium.  The unique design of the suites allows for lots of space and facilities such as kitchenettes and at present the only hotel with balconie in Las vegas.

Foodies, like me, will marvel at the selection of eateries found at the Cosmopolitan, which includes restaurants run by renowned chefs such as David Chang of Momofuku and José Andrés of Jaleo. You won’t even be disappointed with the Cosmo’s Wicked Spoon buffet, which has achieved fantastic reviews from past guests - I thoroughly enjoyed their breakfast buffet too. If you’re looking for a well-crafted drink to finish off your evening, the triple-decker Chandelier Bar is sure to amaze with not only its terrific cocktails but stunning interiors.
Tapas at Jaleo

The Chandelier at The Cosmopolitan

Facilities like Wi-Fi, fitness centre and a tennis court are all available to hotel guests. Unfortunately, breakfast isn’t included with your room, but there are several options around like the hotel’s trendy spot, EggSlut.

Glamour and Comfort At The Aria
My room at The Aria

Just when I thought I've had stayed in the biggest hotel ever, here comes The Aria, located right behind the Cosmopolitan, just across a bridge, is the Aria Hotel. It’s a spectacular casino hotel designed in an entirely modern yet quaint design, absent of any ornamentation often connected to garish Vegas decor. The creativity of the hotel’s appearance is esteemed, as well as its ability to remain refined and elegant.

The establishment provides an air of comfortable luxury, and guests have access to numerous designer shops and an opulent casino. You’ll find 16 restaurants with fine dining options,  seven bars, and even more facilities to enjoy.

In addition to its fabulous casino and eateries, the Aria houses spa facilities, a fitness centre and five different pools with strict security. If all that isn’t enough, the hotel is located right in the heart of the Vegas Strip,  easy access to all Vegas desires.
One of the views from my room at the Aria
The Aria is a mega-resort that boasts an incredible capacity of 4,004 rooms. It’s the star of the 11-billion dollar City Centre, which was unveiled in late 2009. Grandeur is revered and valued at the Aria, which is evident in its number of luxury facilities, high ceilings and cut-edge designs.

My room at the Aria was smaller than the Cosmo, but this place oozes luxury with a spacious shopping area dotted with famous lavish brands like Chanel, Prada among others. I loved my American breakfast in my room in the last morning in Vegas.

Dining and drinking in Las Vegas

The Cosmopolitan 

One of the most beautiful meals I had while in Vegas. David Chang's restaurant offers an innovative take on Asian fare at this hip, spacious outpost in the Cosmopolitan. The place opened in January of this year (2017).  Sensational dishes with a diversity of tastes and textures that marry so well.

Jaleo by Jose Andres
José Andrés who is often credited with bringing the 'small plates' concept to the US. It's a very particular experience with open fires and Spanish dishes to die for using high-quality produce and ingredients. Highly recommended. 

O.M.G. this place, what can I say?  I wasn't expecting much, it's a small establishment inside The Cosmopolitan, but it was brilliant. Originally from California, this chain has reached Vegas. Offering comfort and gourmet egg dishes that can be eaten not just for breakfast but all day -  dining that is straightforward and lush.

The Venetian and Palazzo:

The Dorsey bar
A beautiful bar in The Venetian serving hand-crafted cocktail menu designed by award-winning bartender Sam Ross of Attaboy and Milk & Honey fame. I urge you to explore meticulously prepared signature cocktails. They also have shareable punch bowls.

A walk distance from the Dorsey bar,  Carnevino (meat and wine)  is an Italian steakhouse in the Palazzo Hotel Casino. It is a meat lover heaven, but they also cater to the non-meat eaters among us.  Their dry-aged steaks and wines were superb. CarneVino is owned and operated by Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich.

LINQ Promenade

Virgil's Real Barbeque

Virgil's Real Barbeque is the premier eatery serving southern-style barbeque and craft beers, a spin-off of New York’s long-standing BBQ house.  Set just minutes away from the High Roller (Vegas's attempt to answer the London Eye), the restaurant occupies 1300 square meters on multiple levels with indoor and outdoor seating, and, I was told they have live music nightly.  Look at their outrageous  Bloody Mary - a meal in itself.
Outrageous Virgil's Bloody Mary
Virgil's Real Barbeque -  where I tasted Southern food - what a feast!

Mix of grilled meats and jalapeño cornbread

I finally tasted grits - cheesy grits (cheddar)- Love it!

Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino and Delano Hotel

Cocktails at Skyfall Lounge at Delano 
Skyfall Lounge, located next to Rivea restaurant, offers 180-degree views of  Las Vegas and the desert.   A truly beautiful experience.

Las Vegas and desert View from The Delano

Dinner at Rivea at Delano
The restaurant serves delicious Italian & French Riviera cuisine by Chef Alain Ducasse. The restaurant is a swanky space with a sweeping panoramic view of Las Vegas and the desert.
A very romantic space!
Very creamy and  tasty Asparagus & morel risotto with Parmesan crisp

 Juicy 'Rossini' Angus fillet Mignon  with slightly pan fried duck foie gras and black truffle sauce  amazing dish

Seafood soup - absolutely delicious
I really enjoyed my stay in Las Vegas - what a town! full of luxury things to do, eat and drink.  I learned that Vegas is what you make it!
Next post:  A Stroll Through Downtown Las Vegas

Until next time why not join me on  InstagramTwitter and Facebook…X  

Disclosure:  I was the guest on this press trip organised by Hills Balfour in conjunction with R&R Partners and Las Vegas Tourism Board.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

France, Languedoc-Roussillon: Stylish stays and amazing eats with Pays d'Oc wines

As part of my Pays d'Oc wine adventure, a meal at Michelin-starred restaurant La Table de Saint Crescent and at Domaine Gayda happened to be on the cards as well as a very stylish stay at Château St Pierre de Serjac in Puissalicon and a quirky overnight at a barge/hotel.

A Michelin meal at La Table Saint Crescent

The restaurant La Table Saint Crescent( part of a former oratory from the Middle Ages) opened its doors for the first time in 1995 after a major refurbishment.  The imposing building is located on the outskirts of Narbonne, a town full of history, along with the Canal de la Robine.

Since 2008, when Chef Lionel Giraud took over the management of the kitchen, we were told that over the years the place has been continually refurbished, but always in keeping with the building's architectural history. The dining room is modern, light, airy and elegant. The service was when we visited was exceptional and very knowledgeable.

Our dishes and wine were perfectly matched with Pays D'Oc wines below:

Pays D'Oc wines served with our meal at La Table Saint Crescent

Mackerel in three citrus potato - liquid centre explosion of citrus juice

Dry olive, fruits and citrous sphere that was another fun explosion eat!

Crisp tapioca very finely sliced  monkfish chicks , sesame oil, wood vines on top

Pays d'Oc wine with our starters

Fish soup  - I loved it!  Super filling, very tasty and so pretty

Well, what can I say I ate almost all before taking the picture It was amazing!  Celeriac remoulade coffee from Ethiopia nuts mushroom and mustard leaf croutons

Lobster, Cabbage,  local fortified sweet red wine (Banyuls) reduction - This dish was paired with a full bodies red wine from Pays d'Oc -  - Yes, seafood and red wine and it worked a treat!
Palate cleanser : citrous meringue - refreshing and I thought that was dessert ....

Dessert: Light citrus ice cream with chocolate crumble and dark chocolate mousse berries and edible flowers - Chocolate is always a good idea!  a beauty of dish and delicious!
I really enjoyed this Michelin meal - highly recommended.  
La Table de Saint Crescent in Narbonne
T: +33 4 68 41 37 37

Dinner at Domaine Gayda in Brugairolles with Pays D'Oc wines

Located about 20km from Carcassonne, Chef Jean-Christophe Gille is serving delightful food in a very welcoming atmosphere with stylish decor and stunning views of the organic vineyards.   We were taken around the cellars by  Tim Ford, co-owner of  Domaine Gayda,  and his fabulous wife, Barbara.  We heard so many interesting histories of how they met, how Tim end up in Africa and Barbara eventually followed him.  I could've stayed at that table hearing the history of the Domaine and their own stories for days. It was a great dinner with fantastic food and great company.  I love learning and hearing the behind the scenes facts and anecdotes from the  wine producers.
The restaurant is beautifully decorated, quite modern and very spacious. Service was cordial. I was told they have a huge New Years Eve party every year. 

The meal 
All made in the premisses and look that branded butter
Pea soup and wasabi- light and refreshing

Brandade  and pickled onion - Brandade is a
emulsion of salt cod and olive oil this one had a sharp pickled onion on top - nice touch

Foie gras lentils bacon, Toast and cream horseradish paired with Gayda  Chenin Blanc - The sweet and sour of the wine cut through the fatty and delectable Foie and being a lentil lover I  really enjoyed this dish. Never thought of the combination of lentil, bacon and foie - always learning something different.

Mushroom and  Hazelnuts, cod,  fish eggs and mash olive oil - that mash potato was a dream... not for the fainted hearted.

Local beef, potato fondant, ceps and  celeriac paired with Cabernet Franc- Figure Libre 2015 - the wine cherry, cassis notes and spices. Elegant, full-bodied and perfect pairing with this hearty meat dish.

Apple chestnut cream (Creme de Marron) apple compote  and French toast nice looking dessert!

Cheeses: Comte,  bethmale, ewe coulommiers and quince - I enjoyed the local cheeses.

This place is a wine and food  lovers dream!

Domaine Gayda
Chemin de Moscou
11300 Brugairolles
Phone: +33(0)4 68 20 65 87

Stylish stays in the Languedoc-Roussillon to explore Pays D'Oc wines

Château St Pierre de Serjac in Puissalicon

Who wants to stay in a Château? A majestic Château estate overlooking its working vineyards, it features a hotel, a restaurant, a spa and luxury self-catering properties set in 200 acres of beautiful Mediterranean countryside in the Languedoc, South of France. The property has self-catering properties with private terraces and gardens, and some even come with private heated swimming pools. 

There's also a very swish restaurant and bar in the property serving Pays d'Oc wines too.  A very beautiful , stylish and peaceful place to stay in the region.

An underground cellar in the Chateau - Yes please!

Infinity pool overlooking the vineyard

My room

The view from my room
The restaurant at Château St Pierre de Serjac

Foie Gras, cherry and green apple

Juicy and tender beef tenderloin very nicely cooked for my taste

Alphonsia Maria Barge - chambres & tables d'hotes  in Villeneuve-lès-Maguelone

The barge is almost a hundred years old, it's  an authentic Dutch vessel of 110 feet long. It was built in 1913 in the Netherlands and remained in service until 1998.

In its heyday,  it transported cereals along the small canals all over Northern Europe. Over the past 90 years, the ship has gone through various transformations. First, Alphonsia Maria was built as a sailing boat. However, in 1926, the main mast was taken down and replaced by an engine. Nowadays it's been modernised and is privately owned. It's used as unique accommodation with 4 bedrooms owned and catered by Yann LABAT. 

The barge is quite comfortable and very well equipped with all modern amenities. 
If you like quirky and different place to stay with charm this is a place for you! I loved it. 

They provide wi-fi, bicycles, fishing rods, balls of petanque and canoes as well as breakfast and evening meals. There is also a 150 sqm terrace with a swimming pool, solarium, couch and an outdoor dining area.

We had a Pays D'Oc wine tasting on the deck overlooking the Canal Du Midi with a splendid sunset as the background.  What could be more perfect? The local oysters for the aperitif were caught that morning just a few kilometres away. 

 The evening menu costs €28 and includes an aperitif, appetiser, entree,  and dessert (wine and coffee)
 Lunch from €15: Live oyster tasting, from the Bassin de Thau, delivered daily by the producer, salads and a board of prawns.
Transfers to airport or train station from €25.
I stayed in the "Madame Marguerite" room with a modern shower room including an excellent hair dryer! 
(all prices 2017)

Alphonsia Maria Barge
(nearest city Montpellier : 10 km)
t: +33 (0) 695827441

Disclosure: I was a guest of Pays D'Oc IGP. All opinions are my own.
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