Posts Tagged: Canada


20
Sep 12

Vancouver hotel low-down: The Loden

There was a pleasing amount of bustle and excitement as I checked into the Loden hotel; sequined gowns, elaborate hairstyles and a smattering of men adjusting their ties and checking their waistcoats. Pretty spiffy crowd, I thought, rather regretting not having worn something more dressy myself. But Vancouver always feels like such a dressed-down and casual town that I was tired of feeling like the only person not in flip flops!

After a few minutes swiping cards at the desk (how I love a pain-free check-in) I was zooming up to the 9th floor, sharing the lift with a woman in a dazzling dress.

“I love your outfit.” I told her.

“Thanks!” she said and anxiously checked her make up in the mirror.

“You look great.” I assured her.

“Oh! I’m doing hair for the wedding here today so need to look good for the photos.”

Spiffy dressers explained. Vancouver hadn’t undergone a style transformation, but perhaps if it stayed at The Loden it might… 

Sophisticated caramel and cocoa shades

Shiny marble floor in the bathroom, caramel and cocoa shades in the bedroom, a huge and pleasingly firm bed with crisp high thread-count linens in a room flooded with light from the floor to ceiling windows. Stylish indeed. I was glad I’d packed my favourite just-in-case red dress so I could get dressed up when I visited the bar and Tableau restaurant later.

I hit the bar and tried the house cocktail ’1181′ a citrusy fizz of prosecco, gin, elderflower syrup and lemonade. Nothing seems to match fizz as well as oysters and I’d never tried the local Vancouver island variety. Large and meaty with a faint cucumber-ish after taste I squished them with lemon and sucked and chewed my way though a half-dozen on the half-shell with indecent speed. Delicious! Tempting through it was to work my way through the small, but perfectly formed cocktail list and an ever-increasing pile of oysters, there was local wine to sample from the Okanagan Valley and the main course to order.

My new favourite thing: Vancouver Island oysters.

Tableau specialises in French bistro cooking so of course, it had to be the steak-frites, I asked for a wine recommendation and my server suggested a Pinot Gris from Naramata’s Nichol winery. It was a fruity and spicy white with a blush-pink tint that paired perfectly with the juicy steak and crisp twice-cooked fries. 

Juicy, buttery steak with salty, crisp fries.

The buzz of a good room on a great night can’t be beaten and that’s exactly the feeling at Tableau thanks to excellent table service paired with good solid cooking and some creative twists. Hotel restaurants used to be the last option of the unimaginative diner – but no more, Tableau proves that. And as for casual Vancouver? Well, if you want to feel stylish in the city, you know where to come to stay… 

I stayed as a guest of The Loden & Tableau, however, my views are 100% my own.

Like Canada? Keep exploring

The Loden: Reservations:  877 225 6336 /  Phone: 604 669 5060 / 1177 Melville Street, Vancouver

Tableau: tel 604 639 8692 / 1181 Melville Street Vancouver / info@tableaubarbistro.com


11
Sep 12

Flying with your dog: happy landings

I’m here! Freak out over… My greatest concern about leaving the UK and coming to Vancouver was that Freddie, my beloved cocker spaniel, would not have a good flight. Turns out my dog is a better flyer than I am. I flew on Air Transat with Canadian Affair and they were just wonderful; incredibly calm, reassuring and understanding when I was wailing like a banshee at leaving my dog behind at check-in!

Freddie's been getting used to his travel crate for three months, so it felt familiar when he was on board.

When I got to the gate, I asked if Freddie had boarded safely and I was reassured again that yes, he was and was “quite vocal” about it! Once I’d sat down in my seat, one of the stewardesses even came to tell me that the captain knew there was a dog on board and everything was fine, no worries about temperature or air pressure in his part of the plane. Phew!

And off he went! *sob*

It was almost 15 hours later when I got to see him and I was overjoyed when I finally got through immigration and picked him up. I wheeled him outside in his crate and let him out and you have never seen a dog more happy to see a tree!

We’re just getting settled into our new flat by the seashore and there’s even a dog-friendly beach just 15 minutes walk away. More adventures to come very soon…

And here we are! On Freddie's new favourite doggie-only beach in Vancouver. Look at that smile.

Keep exploring Canada!

 


11
Sep 12

It’s hard to say goodbye…

There’s something they don’t tell you about when you’re getting ready to pack up and leave for a whole new life in a whole new country. I was expecting to be anxious about leaving; worrying over what to pack, what to ship and what on earth to take to the charity shops along my road in Brighton. I was even expecting to be upset about what the flight and trauma of the journey would mean to my dog, Freddie. But I wasn’t expecting to be weeping almost all the time in my last two weeks in the UK. Everything – and I mean EVERYTHING – has set me off!

Imagine your life becoming as easy to cry at as a paralympics montage! That’s how much I’ve been sobbing. I’m so upset at the thought of leaving my friends and my family that it’s overshadowing all the reasons why I want to try my luck in Vancouver, one of the most beautiful cities on earth.

But when life gets tear-stained there’s only one solution. Go somewhere no one can see you cry… and for me that means a spa with a good steam room! So that’s exactly what I did with my best friend Emma a few days before I flew off. I’d meant to check out the new spa opening at Ockenden Manor for a while. I’d stayed there years ago – dazzling Michelin-starred food and wonderful accommodation in the heart of beautiful Sussex countryside and heard good things about the spa. We weren’t disappointed.

The spa boasts wonderful floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking a quintessentially English view and – best of all – they have a swim-through indoor/outdoor pool, so Emma and I could happily splash around under the rare September sunshine before heading off to the outdoor Jacuzzi to chill under the sky.

Later, wrapped in robes, we sat on a wall and watched placid chocolate-coloured cows graze before we did the same ourselves on huge quinoa super-food salads accompanied by a glass of champagne. We’d booked in to try the Ila Kundalini back massage and I have to say it was one of the best I’ve had; totally different from the usual long, flowing strokes of a Swedish massage, this used pressure point massage and hot stones and I found myself dropping off to sleep mid-massage – always the sign of a superb treatment!

Confession: this is not at the spa, this is Emma and I in Paris. But! I was all blotchy and pink and looked terrible. You don't want a photo of that ;)

Curled up in the relaxation room later, sipping tea, laughing and chatting I realised it would be a whole year before I got to do this with Emma… and yes, there were the tears again. Time to slip back into that steam room and hide my eyes.

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