Life is good at the moment, I have just started my new job (read all about my resignation) and will be heading for another adventure to Bruges this weekend.  I am always a firm believer of seizing the day and making the most of your life as one of my favourite quotes is everyone dies, not everyone lives.  Not everyone truly lives and makes the most of their life.  I hope these three positive will enable you to be one step closer to living to the maximum and enjoy the weekend.

The bad news is time flies.  The

good news is you’re the pilot.

 Time does fly and sometimes you forget how quickly a week can go by and before it the year has flown by.  It’s absolutely okay that time flies by really quickly so long as you know that you are the pilot, you determine the direction you want your life to take.

 

Little drops of what make a mighty

ocean


This particular quote is one my mum always says to me.  The best way to explain is, lots of little effort each day will get you to achieve your goals.  I particularly love this goal for big dreams and goals.  I have achieved some unimaginable goals just by keeping this in mind. Anything impossible can be achieved if you remember that little drops of water make a mighty ocean, all you have to do is check in and give your drop of water.

 

You are allowed to scream, you’re

allowed to cry, but do not give up

 

Yes you are allowed to scream, cry hard but what you cannot do is quit and give up.  Screaming and crying is perfectly fine so long as you push hard to achieving what you want to achieve.

What are you going to do this weekend to make you happy? Zoe x

Ps make sure to follow my Eurostar adventures to Bruges on instagram

Honey and I both had a jam packed summer which meant it was really difficult to get a date in the diary, our last date was at Churchill Terrace and we were due another meet up.  We finally managed to squeeze a date in the diary last Saturday to catch up on life on our recent travels and life.   I don’t know about you but I am totally over eggs and avocado for brunch so we both decided we were going to have sushi for brunch.  With so many restaurants in London and so many places to try sushi we decided to try Aqua Kyoto as we had both had drinks in their bar before but never food.

Aqua offer a bottomless brunch with bellini’s or champagne.  Needless to say Honey and I opted for the bottomless Veuve Clicquot brunch choice.  The brunch menu was quite extensive and after a frazzled journey to the restaurant I was so pleased when the waiter poured the first glass of Champagne.  Even though it took longer than I would have expected for the waiter to come over I was happy to have that first sip of yellow sunshine.

We kick started our brunch with edamame.  We had the option of salt or chilli and garlic, and as you can see we opted for the chilli and garlic edamame.  When I first saw the dish, my initial thoughts were oh, oh my mouth is going to be on fire, however it was quite the opposite, the chilli wasn’t over powering and had a little bit of a sweet flavour. Following the edamame we had miso soup which was flavoursome and warming for autumn.  I could have easily have had several of these as the flavour was quite good.

The pièce de résistance of our brunch was meant to be the sushi! When it arrived I was particularly impressed by the presentation of the sushi and was really looking forward to tucking in. 

Now having just had sushi at Pan Chai Harrods, the bar for the sushi in London had been set high. Unfortunately the sushi at Aqua didn’t hit the bar.  Now that’s not to say it was bad because it wasn’t.  The sushi was fresh, with some flavour but on the whole I would describe it as okay as nothing is going to blow your mind when you eat it.

Following the sushi we were served the ebi mataha yasai tempura.   I often find tempura is just crisp with no prawn, however the tempura at Aqua Kyoto was really tasty, perfectly crispy on the outside and actually filled with prawn.

After our prawn tempura I have to admit I was stuffed however we still have the yaki tori robata chicken and the omakase vegetable (mushroom skewers) to eat.  Overally both of these dishes had really good flavour, however I felt the chicken wasn’t as moist and juicy as it could be.

We finished our meal on a crème brulee which passed the crack test and was well cooked.  I really enjoyed the taste of the crème brulee , however I was slightly disappointed that it was a little cold.  Overall I thought the Aqua Kyoto brunch was a mixed bag, there were some good highlights and some aspects that needed to be improved to truly make the £65 brunch price tag worth it.  One thing I would say is the champagne is certainly free flowing and after 6 glasses of champagne each Honey and I certainly made it worth it.

 

Have you tried the bottomless brunch at Aqua Kyoto? Zoe x

 

With an evening date with Sima (a fellow blogger) looming I suggested we dine at Lima Floral. I have dined at their sister Michelin restaurant Lima Fitzrovia many years ago and as Peruvian food is one of my favourite cuisines, but had never tried Lima Floral. Okay I have never been to Peru but one of the joys of London is you can journey to anywhere in the world via a restaurant.

 Lima Floral is conveniently located in Covent Garden so it is the quickest journey you will ever need to make to sample the delights of Peruvian food. The restaurant itself is run under the watchful eye of Virgillo Martinez who us ranked in the World 50 List! As well as the restaurant Lima Floral also has a pisco bar, however as it was a school night Sima and I did not venture to the bar but made our way straight to the table. 

Even though we didn’t try the Pisco Bar we did have a pisco sour, I mean who makes a journey all the way to Peru and not drink pisco sours.

The menu at Lima Floral is pretty extensive and offers everything from the sea and the land.  While we were waiting for our food to arrive the waiter offered us bread to start our meal. Clearly this isn’t your standard bread, everything at Lima is served with a twist and the bread was a nice little start to our meal while our starters came.  One of the things I remember about food from Lima Fitzrovia was the food was extremely punchy, full of bold flavours and textures.  I have to admit I was worried that Lima Floral wasn’t going to hit the same bar as it’s Michelin starred sister, however once our starters arrived I realised I shouldn’t have had any concern. 

My starter of Salmon Nikkei was a great start to our dinner. Firstly the presentation was everything you would expect and secondly and most importantly the dish tasted just as good as it looked. The salmon was fresh and light and even though the sauce was punchy it didn’t drown the salmon. 

For her starters Sima ordered the Vegetables, which sounds so dull, but rest assured nothing in Lima Floral is dull.  Have you ever seen such beautiful vegetables before.  By Sima’ s own account she really enjoyed her vegetables.

Once we finished our starters the bar was set high and I was looking forward to our main courses.  Now I have to warn you in advance Sima and I were sat in dark lighting throughout our meal and moaned that we weren’t able to capture the true beauty of the food.  Looking back at my dish of my King Prawn, on cusco corn cake with a sweet garlic I can tell you that this dish looked a thousand times better than my picture does it justice……

What’s more it tasted just as good as that thousand times better shot! Okay I am in the mood for a bold statement, if I had to pick ten top dishes I have had in 2017 this would be one of them! The prawns were so juicy, the corn cake was sweet and their was that little kick that gave the dish the extra wow factor.

For her main dish Sima ordered the black and white quinoa with artichoke. Now I am not a vegetarian but the presentation of this dish made me want to convert to one.  When most people think of vegetarian dishes they don’t think of such esquisite colours and flavours.

After all of our food we couldn’t possibly manage individual desserts however we did manage to share a Peruvian chocolate mouse with blue potato crisp.  This dessert surprised me as who knew blue potato crisp can take a dessert from basic to great!  I really had a great time catching up with Sima and was pleased to find that Lima Floral was a brilliant journey to Peru!

 

Have you journeyed to Peru via Lima Floral before? Zoe x

With autumn fast approaching and with my new job on the horizon I really needed to take some time out to do a little bit of retail therapy, have a spot of lunch and spend time with Mummy RW.  Several birds and one stone all hit in one go. 

My restaurant of choice was pretty much decided when I got invited to Pan Chai* Harrods for lunch.   Now Harrods is one of my favourite stores in London, and prior to my blogging days I had a pit stop lunch there before and really enjoyed it so I was pleased to go back to the restaurant.

While we perused the extensive menu to kick start our lunch we ordered two large glasses of Sancerre wine which is one of my favourite glasses of white wine.  I like to think of myself as a little a wine connoisseur after all I was a member of the wine society at university and I have quaffed plenty of wine to know my Sancerre from my Chablis.  If I only had the Sancerre to drink I would have left the restaurant a happy lady as the wine was beautiful.

Once we had a few sips we could decide on our sushi strategy. I don’t know whether anyone has a sushi strategy but I do, I like to start with sashimi.  Pan Chai offers an extensive range of sashimi and I opted for the standard salmon sashimi and opted for scallop sashimi, which is something I hadn’t tried before.

Both sashimi dishes were nice however I felt that the scallop sashimi was beyond beautiful.  The scallop itself was so fresh and melted in your mouth like butter, it’s something I could easily have every day. After sashimi I then like to eat tempura and sushi before going onto hot dishes.  Mummy RW and I chose octopus tempura and then choose two sushi selections from the Signature sushi selection rolls. 

We opted for the Harrods Special and the Black Dragon.  The Harrods special which was divine, think snow crab, avocado and spicy mayonnaise which is finally topped with chopped scallops and black caviar.  Warning bold statement ahead! The Harrods Special is one of the best sushi combinations you can find.

After the Harrods Special the Black Dragon had a lot to live up to and though I enjoyed the prawn tempura and avocado roll I cannot say it was the best sushi combination you can find.  Now don’t get me wrong it was delicious and I ate it all but no bold statements for the Black Dragon.


The good job about sushi is you can always find room for more, so following our sushi we opted to try the salmon terakiyi and seafood fried rice.

When I saw the portion sizes of the dish I was worried I was eating with my eyes and not my stomach. Totally a first world problem I know but nonetheless a serious problem.  I was pleased we ordered the salmon teriyaki as it  was perfectly glazed and served with seared asparagus. 

When I first saw the seafood rice my first thoughts were where is the seafood, however rest assured there is plenty of seafood in the dish.  Both Mummy RW and I really enjoyed the dish and loved the added kick of spice to the seafood fried rice.  Though I did peruse the dessert menu I have to say we were well truly stuffed and could not find any room for more dessert. I absolutely loved Pan Chai and will certainly recommend it as the perfect shopping pit stop in Harrods.  

Have you tried Pan Chai Harrods? Zoe x

 

*  I was a guest at Pan Chai Harrods

When Aftab and I were thinking about where to go on a city break it was pretty much decided based on the hotel. You see Luxury Travel Bloggers have a list of hotels that they really want to stay at and sometimes the destination is secondary.  Aftab had a Small Luxury Hotel gift voucher and he had always wanted to stay at The Principal Madrid Hotel

Now I would never say no to a Small Luxury Hotel as it’s one of my favourite groups and following my recent trip to Prague I was excited to stay in another one of their hotels.  With that our destination was decided and off we want to  Madrid.

The Hotel

After nearly missing our flight never have I been so excited to step into a hotel.  When you step into The Principal Madrid hotel you are immediately greeted by a lovely doormen and you instantly feel like you have entered a wonderful peaceful haven.  The Principal Madrid epitiomises boutique luxury.  On entry to the hotel the doormen took our luggage and directed us to the 6th floor where the main reception is situated.

I absolute love hotel lobby’s and the hotel lobby at The Principal Madrid was plush and full of rich and vibrant colours. The hotel lobby was so detailed, that the level of attention to detail was extremely difficult to capture.

While we were waiting to be checked into the hotel we were offered two glasses of cava which went down an absolute treat.  Once we were checked into our room (516) we took our glasses of cava and enjoyed the glorious blue skies of Madrid on the terrace.

The Room

Have you ever slowly fallen in love with a room? Well that’s exactly what happened….I slowly fell in love with our room.  But as we all know some of the best love stories are those when you slowly fall in love. I slowly fell in love with our room at The Principal Madrid and by the end of the weekend I was sad to say goodbye to the wonderful peaceful sanctuary of it all. The room itself was very sleek and minimalistic and regular readers know I don’t do clutter. My own bedroom in London only has 4 pieces of furniture in total, so as you can imagine this room was well suited to my personal preference.

 

The bathroom also reflected the room style and was minimal and very sleek.

One of my favourite features in the bathroom was the shower itself, I do love a power shower and this one was a fancy power shower with different shower heads, which came in useful when I needed an afternoon shower but didn’t fancy rewashing my hair.

The hotel provided a selection of non-branded toiletries which were really were lightly fragranced. Though the brand is not one you would recognise I am someone who appreciates a great product whether it is a well recognised brand or not. We were initially only provided with one set of toiletries for the both of us and as used quite a bit in my first shower I had to call guest services for more and they were happy to oblige and bought up additional shower gels and body lotions.

I mentioned that I slowly fell in love with the room well the moment that love truly crystallised was after our night out (which started on the terrace below)and I returned back to the room to sleep. After a glass of champagne, a bottle of Cava and several large gin goblets, I slept like an absolute baby in this room! The room was a sanctuary of peace, the bed was so comfortable and the hotel blackout blinds were the absolute best.

When I finally woke up from my amazing sleep and reached out to check what time it was I was mortified to find out it was 10.30am, I was expecting it to be 7.30am! Now most hotel breakfasts finish at 11.00am however at The Principal Madrid they take into account that their guests want to sleep in during the weekend or maybe they know that Madrid is a late night city and the party doesn’t start until 12.00am and closes at 7.00am so that extra 30 minutes makes all the difference.

One of the things I love most about luxury hotels is the breakfast! For me the breakfast is the jewel in the crown and I was to be damned if I was going to miss it so I got dressed quickly and practically sprinted down to breakfast. The breakfast at the hotel is served in the same space as the Atico or outside on the terrace.

Now I am not sure if my expectations were unrealistic but I was expecting to find huevos rancheros on the menu especially as that was what I was craving after my night out in Madrid.

 

Though my huevos rancheros craving was not satisfied, there were plenty of options on the menu so I did opt for pancakes and scrambled eggs both of which were delicious and I really enjoyed devouring.

The Terrace

What I love about Small Luxury Hotels is that they have boutique luxury covered without any comprise to amenities and with the extra added touches. The Principal Madrid was no exception to this rule, boutique luxury with the extra added touch.

Before our night out in Madrid, Aftab and perused the hotel terrace and took in the buzz and vive of the terrace bar.

I loved this additional touch to the hotel as it was extremely buzzy and a brilliant way to start an evening out in Madrid and a perfect spot to enjoy the glorious Madrid sunset.

 

As well as the hotel terrace the hotel also had the most gorgeous winter terrace which I feel in love with and it was so grammable it was one of the first pictures I put on Instagram.

TERRACE // When your terrace looks likes this 😍

A post shared by @thezrw on

If I return to Madrid in winter I fully intend to make use of the terrace and drink full bodied glasses of Spanish red wine.

I had an area just around the corner that had sunbeds for those who wanted to sun worship and enjoy the glorious heat of Madrid. Though we didn’t sunbathe we did spot some other hotel guests having a break from site seeing and taking time out to just get some R&R.

Atico

In addition the hotel had a special extra added touch, restaurant Atico* by the infamous chef Ramon Freixa. Though most hotels have restaurants, they don’t have restaurants that produce such high quality food and service.

We kick started our meal with a glass of Lauren Perrier champagne which was the best way to start the evening.

For our entree’s we were served leak and olive.  The starters were just a taste of our meal to follow…..

The menu at Atico is pretty extensive and I was tempted by a lot of the main dishes.  After much deliberation, I opted for the black rice with squid ink and soft shell crab.  I absolute love my seafood and I was over the moon with the dish.  The black rice was moist and the soft shell crab was everything you would want. I have been back in London now for several weeks and I am still dreaming of this wonderful dish.

For Aftab’s main he had lamb shoulder and potato puree. I had a taste of the lamb and it was really delicious.  Both Aftab and I really enjoyed our main dishes and even though we were really full we still found room for dessert.

We both had the same dessert of choice, the lemon pie millefeuille. The millefeuille was one of the lightest I have had in a long time.  The dessert was the perfect ending to our wonderful dinner at Atico.

Aftab and enjoyed our dinner at Atico and if you are in Madrid I would certainly recommend booking a table at the restaurant.

One of the extra added touches which sets The Principal Madrid from other boutique 5 star hotels apart from others was the concierge. The concierge at The Principal Madrid was not just good, he was brilliant! When we initially checked into the hotel he took time out to show to run through the hotel map and gave us a detailed guide on Madrid, tapas bars, rooftop bars and general top sites. Furthermore on our second evening when we were stuck on where to eat he recommended a fantastic restaurant to us.

 

I absolutely loved The Principal Madrid hotel. This revelation doesn’t come as a surprise to me as there hasn’t been one SLH pre blogging days (Vault House Karakoy, or current blogging days (Boho Hotel Prague) that I haven’t enjoyed and wouldn’t recommend. If you are looking for where to stay in Madrid and fancy a  special boutique luxury hotel in the heart of Madrid then I would certainly recommend The Principal Madrid, great location, great service and great food.

Zoe x

*Our meal at Atico was complimentary