Travel Secrets

Know Before You Go!



Ever heard of an eatable Margarita?

No, this isn’t your traditional glass of tequila and fruit juice cocktail that you sip casually on a usual Friday evening. Doug Laming’s Margarita is definitely much more interesting than that! As suggested by the name, this cocktail was introduced by Molecular Mixologist, Doug Laming at his experimental lab i.e. Rabbit Hole Bar & Dining, Sydney.


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Laming uses ‘Cointreau Caviar Spherification’ to create spheres of Tequila, Cointreau and syrup, which results in little ‘pearls’ of alcohol that burst in the mouth!  While the glass is only there for decoration, to actually consume this margarita, one has to lift up the salt rimmed lime and eat the pink finger lime and the two types of the caviar pearls. One contains a Souza Gold tequila and sugar syrup and the other contains Cointreau. Basically, you eat these and lick the salted lime. It’s a margarita unlike any other kind that you may have had.


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How do I Get a Better Hotel Room Without Paying Extra?

Superior Seafacing Room

Scout for soft openings: New hotels are generally keener to please, so check out hot new properties on, and pick up the phone!
Time your trip right: big city hotels have lower occupancy on the weekend, so that’s when your chances of getting an upgrade are higher. In leisure properties, weekends are packed, so try and travel mid-week.
Do some research and call the hotel in advance: Check out the property on-line, and identify the rooms and suites you like. Then write an email or make a phone call to request one of those rooms, even if they show non-available on-line. Remember, cancellations happen all the time.
Spell out exactly what you’re looking for: Don’t vaguely say, ‘May I have a better room.’ Much better to ask for a room with a view, or a bigger suite, or whatever it is that you’re looking for.
delux room 101 kailash

Don’t book the cheapest room: go for a mid-range suite, so that you can be bumped up to a really nice one.
Check in between 3 to 5 pm: Most rooms are given out during this period, so the front office is surer of cancellations and availability.
Dress to impress: No need to turn up in a tuxedo, of course. Just be well-groomed—it will earn you more points than a sloppy, bedraggled appearance.
Be Nice: Hotel staff get to deal with some really pesky and nasty sorts. Strike a difference with your politeness. If the manager does award you an upgrade, let him/her know you’ll be happy to commend them in the Feedback Form.
pillow menu

Play the emotional card: tell them you’re visiting on a special occasion. Tell them you love the hotel, and that it’s your third visit here (they’re not going to pull out records). It works like a charm. (Just don’t tell them you read it here).
Turn a glitch to your advantage: Baggage reached your room late? Faucet leaking? Request management to upgrade your room, in exchange for a No Complaints.

What exactly is a champagne breakfast?

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It is, well, exactly as luxurious as it sounds: Breakfast served with champagne or sparkling wine and fruit juice, usually orange and/or peach.

This special treat is generally reserved for special occasions such as an Anniversary, Mother’s Day or a holiday. High-end hotels and vacation resorts often serve champagne breakfasts served in three elegant courses: bread, cake and fruit, followed by the main course, and finally, coffee, cheese and biscuits.


To give you a clearer idea, here’s the romantic champagne breakfast menu at the Governor’s Suite in Hartness House, an Inn in Vermont, USA.

Ice-chilled Champagne in a bucket with two crystal flutes;

Freshly-squeezed Orange or Carrot-Apple Juice;

Freshly baked Crumb-topped Blueberry muffins
and Orange marmalade;

Strawberries with Framboise Creme Parfait;


Your choice of:
Smoked Salmon and Green Onion Omelet, or
Almond and Graham Crusted French Toast; or
Governor’s Eggs Benedict

French Press Columbian Coffee with Cream

Decorated with a beautiful silk Rosebud in Vase and newspaper

This indulgence for two can be yours for an extra $75 USD!

Chef’s Secret: An offbeat potato recipe!

In the first edition of  our Chef’s Secret series, Tanveer Kwatra, Executive Chef, Le Meridien Gurgaon, takes us beyond French Fries.

Watch his interpretation of comfort food with this easy-to-make potato dish, in 90-seconds flat!

Bon Appétit!

5 unique wedding venues in Ireland

Destination wedding on your mind? Forget the usual beaches and boathouses, and head to the “Emerald Isle”. The best time to go? – Now! There’s something for everyone, especially since Ireland said a big “Yes” to same-sex marriages today.

From castles and Georgian houses to restored theatres in Dublin city, here are your options:

Kinnitty Castle, County Offaly


This one’s for that big-fat-glamorous wedding of a lifetime. Treat your guests to a fairy tale wedding at this medieval revival castle sitting on 650 acres of parkland. It’s all drama and fantasy – down to the breathtaking bedrooms. 

Sirius Arts Centre, County Cork


‘Less is more’ and if you firmly stand by simplicity, there’s beauty to be found in this art centre’s classic white space with handsome wooden floors and an Italianate balcony with picture-postcard views of Cobh – a pretty fishing village nearby.

Smock Alley, Dublin city


This restored 17th century theatre in the heart of Dublin city  is perfect for a charming wedding brimming with cultural chic. Expect candlelit banquets, acoustics and ornate surrounds.

Lough Eske, County Donegal


If 5-star comfort and a stunning coastline to look out for is your definition of a wedding venue, look no further than Lough Eske. The Solís spa and Citrus Reviver here is a blessing, in case of pre-wedding jitters.

Rosedale House, County Dublin


Always dreamed of that royal wedding you see in movies where a huge house and surrounding wooded grounds are comfortably filled with your large wedding party? This Georgian house comes with more – a pretty rose garden for those romantic snaps, bespoke bedrooms and its own private night club! And, all this a stone’s throw away from the sea, a short drive away from Dublin airport and the city centre.

Hotel for a chocoholic?

Try the Godiva Chocolate Suite at Manhattan’s Bryant Park Hotel.


British comedienne Jo Brand said, “Anything is good if it’s made of chocolate.” And at Manhattan’s Bryant Park Hotel, you could OD on the good thing! Check into the Godiva Chocolate Suite, where chocolate drip off chandeliers, paintings are made entirely out of multicoloured chocolate pieces, the fireplaces ooze chocolate, and much more. A chocoholic’s ultimate fantasy, come true.

Can’t wait to experience it. To book, visit

Can you recommend a good hotel in Venice Beach, California?

Glad you asked. Our US correspondent Kristen Cashman spent a refreshing weekend at this seaside resort town, and could not stop gushing about Hotel Erwin.

Over to her:

venice beach, california

Los Angeles, California, offers visitors a wide assortment of attractions and landmarks to check out—from the Hollywood Walk of Fame to the Sunset Strip to the luxury shopper’s paradise, Rodeo Drive. But for a sprawling ocean view coupled with unparalleled people-watching, the Venice Beach boardwalk is not to be missed. Historically a mecca of surfing, skateboarding, and bodybuilding, and the birthplace of the legendary 1960s rock band The Doors, the boardwalk teems with colorful, oh-so-California sights and sounds, including tattoo parlors, bikini-clad rollerskaters, fortune tellers, and a smorgasbord of shops and vendors.

If you want to spend a night or more perched above all the hubbub of the boardwalk, the Hotel Erwin is the place to stay. Gelling with the neighborhood’s young, hip, laid-back feel, the hotel is decorated in bright colors and modern design details.

Hotel Erwin's half-circle driveway
Hotel Erwin’s half-circle driveway


The six-storey building has standard rooms as well as suites. My 750-square-foot suite felt enormous, with a kitchenette, dining area, living room, funky bathroom, and bedroom. The minibar featured offbeat options beyond the usual snacks and spirits, such as surfboard wax, sun-protective lip balm, and a portable torch for late-night strolls. The living space had a gas fireplace, a large flat-screen TV, and a desk. WiFi was complimentary throughout the hotel, and the connection was speedy and reliable.



The suite’s best feature by far? Its balcony, with a stunning panoramic view of the boardwalk’s happenings as well as the vast Pacific Ocean beyond. I soaked up the varied eye candy below—the skateboarders careening down the slopes of the beach’s skate park, the surfers stacking up along the faces of the waves, and the acrobatics of street performers surrounded by throngs of tourists.

If you’ve been toying with the idea of getting a tattoo and are ready to take the plunge, you’re in luck! The Erwin offers an “Ink n Stay” package that includes overnight accommodations, a $100 voucher for tattoo services from a local acclaimed tattoo and graffiti artist, lotion, an ice pack, and a bottle of tequila. Where else but Venice?


The hotel’s crowning jewel is its rooftop lounge, High. The only place of its kind in town, it boasts a fabulous vista of the sea, the boardwalk, and the city rooftops. At $11–13 each, the cocktails aren’t cheap, but they are tasty—I sampled a blackberry Collins and a passion fruit mojito, both made with fresh fruit and high-quality spirits. The lounge also features an eclectic but limited snack menu whose offerings include guacamole, chicken skewers, and hot dogs. Although Venice enjoys a warm, Mediterranean climate with over 250 days of sunshine per year, evenings can be cool, so the lounge has propane heaters to keep its clientele cozy.


On the ground floor is the hotel’s restaurant, Barlo, which serves breakfast, dinner, and cocktails. The menu showcases local, sustainably grown produce and meats, and I was pleased with my breakfast of eggs from pastured hens with goat cheese, tomatoes, and spinach. Barlo is known for its fabulous burgers, but as a non–beef eater, I didn’t partake.

Everyone at the hotel was extremely accommodating, helpful, and informative, while also exuding the casual, low-key vibe that coastal LA county is known for.

All Photos courtesy of

I have an overnight stopover in Bahrain. Can you recommend a good hotel?

Try the Al Safir Hotel, located in Juffair, about 10 minutes from the Bahrain International Airport. Team TS had to make an overnight stopover in Bahrain not long ago, and Gulf Air put us up at this well-appointed hotel.

Upon arrival, which happened to be at lunch time, we were quickly directed toward the generous buffet, and had some wonderful Middle Eastern food including hummus, salads, breads, and curries.


The rooms at Al Safir are spacious and comfortable. The washrooms are sparkling clean. Not much to see around in the evening, but we did the brave thing and got into a local bus that took us to Manama Souk, some 20 minutes away.


It was a bit like walking into Delhi’s Karol Bagh Market, if you ask us! We even spotted this guy selling ‘Karak Tea’, which means ‘strong tea.’


Back in the hotel, we had a delicious dinner and a great breakfast spread the next morning. Dot on time, the Gulf Air bus arrived to pick us up for the onward flight to Cyprus.

So yes, Al Safir totally gets our vote!

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