No 1 Lounge, Gatwick North – UK

Pecan PieI get a lot of value from my Priority Pass membership.  Given that it is provided to me with compliments of American Express I think the price is just right! I use the card often, although I do sometimes feel a little disappointed when I fly in business (or reach elite status) with an airline that allows me access to the same lounge as I could have used with Priority Pass anyway. I have been flying from Edinburgh to London City for sometime, however due to a change of client and a divorce from CityJet I was flying from Gatwick yesterday.  I had cleared security and made it into the departure lounge and searched for the ‘Lounges’ sign.  I hadn’t been to Gatwick for a while but it hasn’t changed much; all of the lounges in the north terminal are together. Continue Reading…

Why my love affair with CityJet is over

Broken HeartIt started back in 2010.  I was working with a bank at Canary Wharf and the day rate was high enough to allow me to fly into London City airport.  Initially I assumed it would need to be BA that flew me back and forth each week, however when I went to book I noticed there was another airline who also operated the EDI – LCY route; CityJet.  From what I could gather from the Internet, CityJet seemed like a small airline that operated short-haul routes to major business centres.  Their target customer was the business traveller and the service they offered seemed to match that.  They had a ’15 minute’ check-in guarantee at LCY that seemed infinitely better than using any of London’s other airports.

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St Giles Hotel, Norwich – UK

PlungerI worked for this client some time ago and due to my “unique style” I was asked back to help them again.  How could I refuse?  Most of this work was based in London however there was one week when I was based in sunny Norwich.

I asked a few people I was working with where to stay – Norwich is a bit of a strange place when it comes to hotels; they have very few known names.  The Hilton at the airport was sold some time ago and is now a Holiday Inn Express and aside from a Marriott in the countryside, no other major brands have a presence here.  I was told that I “simply had to” stay in St Giles House by a colleague and as I didn’t know any better I did as I was told.

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Cafe Andaluz – Edinburgh, United Kingdom

patterned tileAs a local, I should know better than to venture anywhere near the city centre during the Edinburgh Festival.  But I was presented with a rare opportunity to share a girly lunch with Teenage Daughter before she swans off to university and leaves me with my two menfolk.  Her eatery of choice was Café Andaluz, a tapas restaurant in swanky George Street.

The restaurant is deceptively large and softly-lit by Moroccan-style lanterns suspended from the ceiling.  The walls and floors are decorated with brightly-coloured ceramic tiles, giving the place an authentic Spanish feel. We were greeted immediately on arrival and shown to a table on the upper floor of the restaurant. Continue Reading…

Firezza Canary Wharf, London – UK

Firezza is the sort of posh pizza that would only ever work in London.  The ingredients may well be fresh and they may be well delicious however they still cost a fortune (about £15 each).  On the plus side you can also order Peroni and / or some wine and it will be delivered along with your pizza.  They also do pizza by the 1/2 meter which is kind of fun if there is a few people to feed.

I finished work way later than I should have one night, and for some strange reason I decided to walk back to the place I was staying.  I came across Firezza and decided to venture in; the smell was pretty good and the beers looked really cold.

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Welcome to Lagos

My thoughts on a my very first visit to Lagos.

When my client first mentioned that there would be a trip to Lagos, Nigeria I wasn’t really sure what to expect.  I think the UK and indeed the global media do a pretty good job in portraying Nigeria as a country full of crime and corruption where every visit ends up with me being kidnapped.  Of course this is not the case, and while the Northern states of Nigeria maybe be in a worse state, Lagos is (as my hosts repeatedly told me) perfectly safe.

Anyway – As the KLM plane descended I decided that while wasn’t feeling nervous about my trip, I was perhaps, felling just a little apprehensive.  A colleague told me a story of his last trip to Lagos (some years ago) that involved a man walking down a street, a car, a bloody giant sword and an arm (with an expensive watch) being removed.

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La Piazza, Edinburgh – United Kingdom

High heelsHubby wanted to celebrate our anniversary with dinner at a ‘proper’ restaurant, as opposed to a child-friendly pizza chain restaurant.  I duly booked a table for the four of us at La Piazza for 5.30pm on a Saturday night.  Yes, I realise this is the time when old people and small children have tea, but I had tickets to see ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ and didn’t want to be late for my long-awaited session of ogling Christian Bale in the Bat Suit.

Edinburgh is currently under siege from on-going tram works, which will hopefully be completed before I reach pension age and become too decrepit to use a tram.  At the time of writing, the road in Shandwick Place is just a big crater, with little pedestrian bridges set up at intervals along the street. We parked the car about five minutes’ walk from the restaurant and negotiated our way from one side of the street to the other, amongst large groups of confused Japanese tourists.

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Park Inn – York, United Kingdom

Angry Cartoon TVHaving decided I needed a couple of nights away on my lonesome, I used the Avios website to book a two-night stay at the Radisson Park Inn in the beautiful city of York.  The philosophy of this hotel chain is to provide guests with a ‘vibrant and lively’ atmosphere, offering a fun environment and a friendly, welcoming service. The hotels are mid-priced, aimed at business travellers and holidaymakers.

The hotel is ideally situated on the River Ouse, near the city centre.  All the major attractions are within walking distance, and the railway station is five minutes’ walk away.  I started to feel slightly anxious when I saw a group of frankly manly women sitting on the front steps of the hotel smoking and adjusting their underwear.  I politely side-stepped these ladies, avoiding eye-contact, and entered the reception area. It was dark and cheerless, not at all like the bright and happy pictures on the website.  Two receptionists were having a whispered discussion at the end of the reception desk.  While they pretended I was invisible, I quickly twigged that there was a mix-up with a booking for the group of elderly ladies sitting in a corner behind me.  It was five minutes before one of the receptionists said she would be with me in a minute. (No apology for keeping me waiting.)  Eventually, she checked me in, while on the phone to someone else.  My key card was almost thrown at me.  No eye contact, no helpful information, no smile.  Nada.  Where was the ‘friendly and welcoming hospitality’ raved about on their website?

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Carbis Bay Hotel – Cornwall, UK

Check out our first post from the latest member of the Travel Freak community – Mrs Control Freak!  Welcome to the gang!

I’ve just spent a week pottering around Cornwall with my husband and 11-year-old son.  Despite the changeable weather, we found lots to do in this lovely part of the country.

We stayed in a self-catering apartment owned by the Carbis Bay Hotel, which nestles in an idyllic cliff-side location overlooking its own beach.  This three-star luxury hotel is family-run, and has been for over 100 years. The 47 rooms are of a high standard, the reception area and hallways clad in elegant marble and lit by impressive chandeliers.

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Pavilion Restaurant @ Hilton East Midlands Airport, United Kingdom

The Pavilion Restaurant at the Hilton East Midlands Airport has three categories of clientèle.  The first are business travellers staying at the hotel.  The second are leisure travellers also staying at the hotel, generally before or after a holiday that departs from the airport.  The third group I feel for the most.  They are local people who go to the Hilton for a ‘posh’ meal.  I know that all of these groups exist as I have observed them all during my many nights here. Continue Reading…

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