The Grand Canal & The Gritti Palace

One of my earliest holidays, that I can remember, was to Venice when I was six.  I loved exploring the narrow passageways and admiring the range of Venetian masks that graced most shop fronts.  I have been back numerous times, however when the opportunity arose to sail into Venice – how could I say no.


Our Wedding Anniversary at The Waterside Inn

When planning on what to do for our Wedding Anniversary we glanced at the list we had made of places we wanted to stay, so in keeping with the cuisine theme we decided to book The Waterside Inn at Bray owned by the Roux family (are you noticing a theme here!). It is a ‘Restaurant avec Chambres’, which meant we could enjoy the evening and not have too far to fall into bed.

©Waterside Inn

©Waterside Inn

For our stay we booked the ‘Roux Signature Experience‘, which included dinner (‘Menu Exceptional’), bed and breakfast and a selection of Roux products to take home, including the choice of a cookbook signed by Michel Roux Sr. The Inn is located in the small village of Bray, not far from Windsor and set on the banks of the River Thames. As you pull up the Doorman warmly greats you, takes your name and car keys and guides to into the warm reception. Stepping in to the reception gives you the feeling that you’re visiting relatives, as there is a relaxing lounge area with an open fire and a truly homely feel. The staff welcomed us and as we were checking in a face appeared behind the counter, it was Chef Patron Alain Roux himself! Whilst many famous Chefs have their name on the restaurant many of them, due to other commitments, are not always present. This is not the case at The Waterside Inn – our Wedding Anniversary was turning out to be quite magical.

Before making it to our room we were given a tour of the Inn, including the bar, main dining area and le Cuisine (a compact kitchen located in the residence area complete with tea and coffee and a honesty bar for those in the mood for a late night-cap). The decor in our room was very neutral and the relaxing sounds of classical music floated through the air as we entered. La Tamise is a Superior double room, which shared an ample size terrace with the adjoining room, although it was too cold to stay out for long periods it was nice to enjoy, briefly, the view of the River Thames flowing by.

We decided to wrap up warm and go for a stroll into the village to work up our appetites for our meal. Apart from the steady flow of traffic and other mod cons of today, Bray has stood still in time and I love that. We decided to visit the local pub The Hinds Head for a drink. Whilst trying to decide what to choose the bar staff suggested Warm Mulled Cider, with it being so cold we agreed and wow, Mr V described it as ‘drinking warm apple pie’. We could figure out most of the ingredients, but there was one that we just could not get, we admitted defeat and were told it was myrrh. It certainly gave the warm welcoming drink a certain mystique.

© Waterside Inn

© Waterside Inn

We made our way back to the Waterside Inn and relaxed in our room before making our way to the small yet well stocked bar for an aperitif or two.  As we relaxed at the bar the evening’s menu was presented along with the extensive wine list.  We told the Sommelier what we liked in red and white wines; Mrs V prefers a fruity taste to her white wines whilst I prefer crispness to them for example. The Sommelier used his experience to help us pair the perfect wine with the menu. We chose a selection of two or three individual glasses of wine to compliment various courses and, as with the recommendations from the Sommelier at Le Gavroche, they enhanced the overall experience. Mrs V was especially impressed with the smooth red that was chosen to accompany her duck.

Dinner itself comprised of 8 courses that covered a range of meats and flavours from fois grais and lobster, to duck and seasonal game. The photos below do not really do the food justice, however they give you a flavour (pun intended), as to what to expect.  Unlike some restaurants that limit you on the time spent at the table, this is not the case at the Waterside.  Each course was served at an leisurely pace, however we did ask for a few extra moments to prepare for the desserts, to which the waiters oblidged.

Roasted `challandais duck, served with stuff cabbage leaves and a lightly spiced damson jus

Roasted `challandais duck, served with stuff cabbage leaves and a lightly spiced damson jus

Duo of seasonal game with a pumpkin rubric, parcel of wild mushrooms and spinach poivrade sauce

Duo of seasonal game with a pumpkin rubric, parcel of wild mushrooms and spinach poivrade sauce

Palate cleanser with a subtle kick to it

Palate cleanser with a subtle kick to it

Teardrop of milk chocolate mousse flavoured with caramel, mango and passion fruit filling

Teardrop of milk chocolate mousse flavoured with caramel, mango and passion fruit filling

Warm orange soufflé with cranberries

Warm orange soufflé with cranberries

After dinner we retired to the lounge area for coffee and liqueurs. Whilst Mrs V declined, the staff were helpful in helping me chose a delightful brandy to go with my coffee – but be warned, the cost of some of the brandies are eye watering: chose carefully! The Café et mignardises arrived, which, although looking delicious, were left by us as we were simply stuffed from the meal we had just eaten, (I was keen to ask for a doggy bag, but Mrs V gave me a look to say ‘You dare!’). Chef Roux who took his time to speak with each guest that evening joined us in the lounge. We talked about our experience and Mrs V even took some tips on how to perfect the Roux Cherry Clafoutis: a recipe that has been passed down from their grandmother.

Simply Luxury Travel meets Chef Alain Roux

Simply Luxury Travel meets Chef Alain Roux

After coffee we took a gentle stroll around the village to ease our guilt of indulging in such wonderful delights and then it was off to bed for a good night sleep on the comfortable and warm bed.


In the morning a continental breakfast of freshly baked breads and Danish pastries was delivered to our room with orange juice, coffee and tea. After a relaxing breakfast we ventured downstairs to check out and return home to reality. But the surprises were not over: Who should be in the lounge area in the middle of a meeting – Michel Roux Sr! Mrs V could hardly contain herself and the receptionist asked if everything was OK. Mrs V mentioned she was a huge fan and immediately the manager was called over and undertook to introduce Michel to us both once his meeting was over.

Sadly our time at the Waterside drew to a close and it was time to return to reality.  From the moment we arrived the staff the staff made us feel and home and it was evident that they were all passionate about the Waterside Inn, the Roux family and all those who came to visit.  Meeting the Roux family obviously made our stay even more memorable, especially for Mrs V.  So what are we doing our next wedding anniversary? Returning to the Waterside Inn, although this time it will be for a longer stay so we can explore the area.


Yvette & Phil


Grosvenor House to ‘Serve’ Wimbledon Afternoon Tea

This post is brought to you by Grosvenor House, A JW Marriott Hotel.

Get ‘set’ for summer and the 2013 Wimbledon Tennis Championships, with Wimbledon Themed Afternoon Tea at Grosvenor House, A JW Marriott Hotel.  As you know here at Simply Luxury Travel we do enjoy partaking in Afternoon Tea, we also enjoy watching and occasionally play a game or two of tennis.  With Wimbledon just a few weeks away, Grosvenor House, A JW Marriott Hotel has combined our two passions to “Serve” you an “Ace” of an Afternoon Tea.

With first serve on Monday 17th June, a selection of Wimbledon themed finger sandwiches, elegant pastries and traditional home baked scones will make you feel like you’re at The All England Club. What’s more, if lucky enough to be attending Wimbledon this year, present your valid ticket at Wimbledon Tea and take advantage of a glass of complimentary champagne.

Afternoon Tea at Grosvenor House, A JW Marriott Hotel

Afternoon Tea at Grosvenor House, A JW Marriott Hotel

Each year, Wimbledon kicks off the summer of sport in London, attracting visitors from across the globe as the best in the world compete in the only grass court grand slam in the calendar. Quintessentially British traditions of Champagne, Pimms and Strawberries & Cream are synonymous with the two week spectacular and hints of all of these elements can be found in the Wimbledon Afternoon Tea Menu at Grosvenor House.

Wimbledon Afternoon Tea Menu

£34.50 per person

Selection of Finger Sandwiches

Including Cucumber with Mint Butter, Loch Fyne Smoked Scottish Salmon with Cream Cheese and Dill, Chopped Ham with Somerset Cheddar, Coldwater Prawns with Marie Rose Sauce & Smoked Chicken with Tarragon

Home Made Scones with Devonshire Clotted Cream and Strawberry Jam

 Afternoon Tea Pastries

Including Champagne Jelly with Seasonal Berries, Pistachio Macaroon, Chocolate and Orange Cream Roulade & Miniature Victoria Sponge

Choice of Twinings Speciality Leaf Tea

Afternoon Tea is served from 2pm – 6pm daily in the The Park Room & Library overlooking Hyde Park at Grosvenor House, A JW Marriott Hotel. To make a reservation for Wimbledon Afternoon Tea, which is available from to 17 June until 12th July 2013, please call +44 (0) 207 399 8452 or book online at Present your valid 2013 Wimbledon ticket on arrival to claim a complimentary glass of champagne.

Review: Bijoux Afternoon Tea at The Langham

When we heard that The Langham in London would join forces with luxury jewellery designer Theo Fennell to create an afternoon tea, we just had to get a table booked so we could experience the delights that are seriously too good looking to eat.

Located in the heart of London, just a short walk from Oxford Circus, The Langham provides a sanctuary on a busy bustling day and has something to intice the weary shopping in, from the array of treatments in the Chuan Spa, to a mouthwatering meal at Roux at The Landau, or a nightcap in the Artisan Bar, before falling into a blissful sleep in one of the many tastefully decorated bedrooms.


For us it was the Bijoux Afternoon tea that had inticed us to visit the hotel. Before we made our way to the Palm Court an aperitif was in order, plus we wanted to experience ‘The World’s Best Bar’ as voted for by Drinks International. Although the bar was quiet on a early sun filled Sunday afternoon it was easy to see why the bar had achieved such an accolade.  The staff were very personable and friendly in the service and we (well Mr V), had an in-depth discussion with Penelope on Rum  – the good, the bad and the ones to avoid!   Mr V indulged in the signature drink “The Langham Martini” – this drink is served in a bespoke detachable silver vessel, were as I went for a whimsical “Alice in Wonderland” – which celebrates the novel that was first published in 1865, the same year that The Langham opened their doors.


After our drinks we made our way to the dazzling Palm Court, located in the heart of the hotel it is famed as the place where the tradition of afternoon tea was born over 140 years ago, an indulgence that lives on today as Tiffin at The Langham.  We knew we would be in for a treat.


We were shown to our table and whilst the Palm Court was full the tables gave enough space that you forgot there were others in the room.  We were looked after by Richard, who could not have done enough for us.  Whilst giving us privacy and space to enjoy our divine afternoon tea, he was always there to top up our champagne, tea and every the sandwiches & scones.


To start a plate of taste tingling sandwiches were set before us they included:

  • Foie gras and smoked duck with mandarin 
  • Beetroot cured scottish salmon with grey goose vodka cream 
  • Pearl las and broccoli quiche with piquillo peppers 
  • Crayfish with fennel, crème fraiche and tobiko fish roe 
  • Montgomory chedder and sweet onion biscui

Then followed the freshly baked scones, served with a creamy Devonshire clotted cream and a strawberry preserve:

  • Bedford scone
  • Raisins
  • Chocolate and marinated orange

Although it was not a combination that we had previously heard of, the chocolate and marinated orange scone turned out to be a favourite.  As with the sandwiches we were offer more scones and whilst I wished I could, I needed to save room for the most enchanting part of the afternoon – the pastries and cakes all of which are inspired by Theo Fennell jewellery and created by award-winning, ‘Pastry Chef of the Year’, Head Pastry Chef Cherish Finden:

  • Salted caramel pearl and pistachio fudge
  • Kentish strawberry with white balsamic macaroon
  • Victoria plum with sakura sponge
  • Mango and passion fruit with shortbread
  • Royal Gala apple with champagne

The attention to detail made it difficult to take the first bite, however the guilt quickly passed.  However I admitted defeat and asked that my remaining pastries be packed up so I could enjoy them later in the evening.

As we had gone for the Bijoux Afternoon Tea, during the month of April, meant that we could pick a lucky ticket and win a prize, which included:

  • Luxury weekend stays at The Langham, London
  • Theo Fennell 18ct Yellow Gold Bee Bracelet
  • Wonderland Afternoon Tea for two
  • A pair of tickets to the Lowry Exhibition at the Tate Modern during June/July
  • ‘Once upon a Tea Time’ – Langham Afternoon Tea Book
  • Bottles of Laurent-Perrier NV champagne
  • Glasses of LP NV Champagne
  • 15% off next visit to Palm Court

I dipped my hand in the glass bowl and pulled out a golden envelope for Two Glasses of Lauren-Perrier NV champagne to be used either on the day or for a future visit.  We decided to use it on our next visit and next time we will spend the night, so we don’t have as far to wonder before falling into a blissful sleep.  This was our first visit to The Langham and I know it will not be our last, I know Mr V and I could do with some pampering in the Chuan Spa and of course enjoy our winning envelope.

Afternoon tea’s are coming back into fashion and each day, however if you need somewhere to start your afternoon tea journey then do so at the Palm Court, where afternoon was born.

Until the next Afternoon Tea,


Mr V & I went for the Über Bijoux Afternoon Tea for two priced at £122.00. Served with a half bottle of Laurent-Perrier Brut Reserve NV

Simply Luxury Travel’s 2013 Travel Plans (so far)

First of all, Happy New Year!  I hope your travel plans for 2013 are going well.  Our December was full of illness at the Simply Luxury Travel home, poor Mr V ended up in hospital, so planning our next getaway was furthest from our minds.  Now we are midway through January so the talk of where next is constantly the topic of conversation.

Lainston House

Lainston House

Lainston House ©Simply Luxury Travel

This was a very last minute to visit there earlier this month, we booked the hotel as we were jumping in the car to drive there, so watch out for our review of our Lainston House stay coming soon.


Jewish Memorial Berlin ©All rights reserved by Spinmaster Photos

Jewish Memorial Berlin ©All rights reserved by Spinmaster Photos/Flickr

I was very fortunate to win a two night stay at The Regent Hotel Berlin, so we’re adding on an extra night so we can relax and explore Berlin, my last trip there was a Press Trip that lasted 24 hours, was a total blur and we ended up at 2AM in a karaoke bar!  This time Mr V and I are going to relax, do lots of walking, enjoy fine cuisine and a cocktail or two.


Dubai from the Sky 1 ©All rights reserved by zanzibarcordoba/Flickr

Dubai from the Sky 1 ©All rights reserved by zanzibarcordoba/Flickr

Last time we were in Dubai was in 2009, the Burj Khalifa had yet to open and the Metro had just commenced operation on the day we left.  We will be there to celebrate my birthday and Mr V is treating us to Upper Class and why not it’s the only way to fly, plus I get to enjoy a Virgin Redhead or two prior to departure.  We’re splitting our time between JW Marriott Marquis and The Fairmont Palm.

Strictly Come Dancing – The Cruise

Aurora at sea ©P&O Cruises

Aurora at sea ©P&O Cruises

Yes Mr V and I are off on our second cruise with P&O for a 17 night cruise of the Mediterranean with the Stars from Strictly Come Dancing on board.  Actually this was not our first reason (well not even Mr V’s second or third), the ship will be visiting the city of Venice and this cruise could be potentially one of the last to use the current route, although no date has been set.  The stars joining us are Craig Revel Horwood, Pasha Kovalev and Katya Virshilas and I can’t wait to hear Craig say  “It was a complete dahnce di-SAH-ster, dahling“.

Have you been to any of the destinations, do you have any insider tips you would like to share? Where are your voyages taking you in 2013?  I look forward to hearing them.