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Anyone who reads my reviews will know that I am a bit of a mascara freak. I love the stuff. Can't get enough of it. When my latest batch of Lancôme ran out it was before pay-day and funds were low, so spending £20 on a mascara was not an option. So off I trundled to Superdrug to see what they had in store for me.
I found this Telescopic Mascara by L'Oreal. I have never been a massive fan of L'Oreal, not for any reason, just never used their products or found them to be particularly appealing. However, this was different. This claimed to be a mascara brush in the form of a 4 sided comb - much like my adored Maestro Mascara by Armani. So I thought, "let's give is a go, if it's rubbish I've lost £6.99 and not £20".
I purchased this in Carbon black, not sure how that is different from black, but to L'Oreal it must be.
The packaging is ok. The plastic case for the mascara is rather cheap feeling and certainly doesn't have the wow factor of the designer brands, but you're not paying the same price, and quite frankly sometimes it doesn't matter what the packaging looks like as long as it does the job.
The consistency of the mascara is thick but not gloopy. It doesn't have that fibrous consistency of so many cheaper mascaras like Maybelline. The mascara coats the prongs of the comb on all four sides enabling you to rotate the wand in your hand so you don't have to keep dunking the brush.
When applying this at first I managed to get a lot of mascara on my eyelids, but once you get the knack of the comb it gets less and less problematic - but it's nothing a cotton bud can't sort out.
The brush separates each lash nicely, creating a defined look. I wouldn't say the lashes are hugely lengthened to any great degree nor are they thickened, but they definitely have a certain dolly look to them which is very pretty. More something that one would use for day wear rather than a night out.
In terms of staying power, this is a good mascara, it stays on all day and doesn't smudge, not do you find strange little clumps on your face at various intervals. The lashes stay in the separated look very well. This mascara has even survived the pouring rain when I forgot my umbrella and got soaked - with thankfully, no panda eyes!
For removal, I find this comes off easily with a face wipe, and does not irritate my eyes at all during the day or with removal.
At £6.99 I would say Telescopic Mascara - you're worth it.
This cute little restaurant is tucked away in the basement area beneath the Patisserie - the stairs are a little precarious for those in heels though so beware! And certianly not suitable for anyone with any walking problems. There was no visible lift, so the stairs is the only way in - and out (worth remembering before having a bit too much wine at dinner)
The restaurant is small - only 50 seats - so worth booking in advance, especially if you want to dine at the weekend. I tried using Toptable to book but the reservation was rejected, and found it was better to book directly with the restaurant. I didn't notice any deals available with Toptable, but woudl be worth checking anyway.
The food is delightful, the Chateau Briand (which came with chips, coleslaw and salad) was perfect for the two of us, and the chocolates we shared for dessert were also scrummy! Portions were very generous, and all the food we saw other people eating looked amazing too and everyone seemed to be enjoying it.
The staff were very friendly, and helpful, all very youthful. We got the impression it was perhaps staffed by people attending the local University. They weren't hugely knowledgable about the food, or forthcoming with recoemmendations, but they were very polite and sweet.
You can bring your own wine here and pay the £4 corkage - which is what the majority of people do. Their wine list is rather small and not a lot of variety.
The toilets were small but very clean and well maintained.
A very reasonably priced restaurant, highly recommended.
This restaurant is in a great location easily walkable from the Royal Mile and also Princes Street.
The restaurant itself is very clean and laid out well. For the middle part of the restaurant it seems they have a policy not to fill the tables too close together, however, around the edges it feels more compact and the tales are much closer together, which means you can often overhear people's conversations from other tables.
The food in Hadrian's was absolutely delcious. The portions seem a little small when they come out, especially given the price, but does fill you up, so don't let the portion size put you off. They do special offers with set menus, but the a-la carte generally has the more tempting items
The staff are friendly, but I think they are more used to clientele being very wealthy and in their late 30s rather than a pair of normal 20-somethings. But they were very friendly and helpful. The atmosphere isnt the best that I have ever been to and at first we felt a bit uncomfortable, but after a glass of wine we relaxed.
The table next to ours had a child sat at it, and the restaurant had a speical menu for her (and other children), so taking children here would not be a problem at all.
I would recommend NOT using their website as a guide to the menu, as we did that and the menu had completely changed and the website was not updated. This restaurant is bookable via Toptable, so you can also get some special offers and menu deals that way.
The wine menu is rather pricey, but there were some delicious bottles on there, many available by the glass.
If you go here - certainly go the bar in the same building (the Balmoral) because the cocktails are delightful
McDermotts is located in The Forestdale Shopping Centre not far from Addington Palace. Although it has a central Croydon post code, it is a little bit out of the way, so you would either have to drive there (recommended if you are getting take away) or go via tram or bus from the town centre. Parking outside is ample. Although on a bit of a slope in places, so don't forget to put the hand break on properly!
We had seen McDermotts on the internet as being an award winning shop, and couldn't resist the temptation to give them a try. We decided to try out the take away service, being lazy slugs and wanting to eat fish and chips in front of the TV at home. However, the restaurant next to the take away shop looked busy (it was a Friday night, traditional fish and chips night) but in a good bustling way.
The take away shop is small but perfectly formed and impeccably clean looking, with a counter service, two girls taking orders and you can see the chefs in the background cooking the fish. The service was timed to perfection, and the team worked well together to ensure that orders are taken, paid for and fulfilled very quickly. The queue is always moving - just as well given the steady stream of customers coming here for their supper. I would estimate that it took less than 4 minutes from placing our order to walking out the door and back to the car! Now that's service.
The portions were very generous with the fish taking up most of the plate and the sausage a decent size. The chips overflowed and I'm ashamed to say that we couldn't finish them all.
The fish and sausage were both battered to perfection. A delicious crispy batter without being dry. The fish was lovely and fresh and even as a non-fish eater I had to sample a piece, and thought it was incredibly tasty. Their website states that they get their fish from sustainable sources, and is delivered daily from Billingsgate. The sausage was meatier than your run of the mill chip shop sausages, which was delightful.
The chips actually tasted like potato! Which sounds really silly, but so many chippies manage to lose the potato flavour, but here they were crispy on the outside with a perfectly fluffy interior. Thick cut, and delicious and didn't taste of the frying oil, nor were they dripping in oil in that soggy way so many places manage to create.
Fish and chips, sausage and chips, gherkins for two came to a total of £11. So it's not the cheapest chippy you'll go to, but it's certainly worth it, and by no means overpriced.
My boyfriend took me to Yauatcha for my birthday dinner this year after I became slightly obsessed with their Dim Sum after tasting it at a food festival a couple of years ago.
The restaurant is based on Broadwick Street in the heart of Soho. A popular area always busy and bustling, easily accessible from Oxford Street.
As you go through the front door the top level is rather disappointing and looks a little like an upmarket canteen. However, you are taken downstairs to the main restaurant which does not disappoint at all! I did not notice a lift, but that would be something anyone with mobility issues should call about in advance, as there might have been one, I just didn't notice it. The lighting is dim, but built into the bar is a wonderful, gloriously lit tropical fish tank! Goodness knows how they clean it, but it is immaculately clean, and the fish look very content swimming around - fret not veggies, they do not take the fish from the tank for cooking for dinner, it's not one of those restaurants.
The seating is very close together so as you are lead through the main seating area, be prepared to squeeze through the tables.
We went on a Saturday night in May, and the restaurant was continuously busy throughout our time there, people coming and going regularly.
The staff were quick to seat us and bring us some water and take our drinks orders. We had cocktails which were absolutely delicious. I chose the Lychee martini, which was perfectly sweet, and not too strong although you could taste the alcohol, but it was not overpowering at all. The garnish was elegant in the form of small flowers and a lychee of course.
We opted to have lots of Dim Sum rather than a main course - other diners were having various things, but the staff are very easy going and happy if you just want Dim Sum, or just want a main, or a dessert. Whatever you want, it's not too much trouble for them. We ordered a selection of Dim Sum items, some of which were vegetarian, and others such as the crispy duck rolls were not. Everything came out to the table in stages, once one dish was eaten it would be replaced with another piping hot dish. The waiting staff had the timing down to perfection. It was great not having everything on the table all at the same time otherwise it could have seemed a little daunting.
When we were ordering our waiter was happy to make recommendations and suggestions for us, and explain what was in each dish. He was incredibly knowledgeable and it was great to see someone so enthusiastic about the food.
All the food tasted wonderfully fresh and was cooked perfectly. The accompanying sauces for dipping were always spot on, and changed with each new dish. The staff checked on us regularly to make sure we were happy and to see if they could get us anything else. They were very friendly without being intrusive at all.
The menu on the website does not display any prices. And this restaurant is by no means a cheap eat. But given the quality of the food and drinks, as a treat, it is not over priced at all. For two of us having stuffed ourselves on Dim Sum and had 2 cocktails each, with service it was £100.
The toilets were a tad hard to find, but the friendly staff will point you in the right direction. Once inside the doors to the individual toilets are very heavy, but look amazing. It is kept very clean and stocked well with soap, cream and napkins. The toilet, like the restaurant, are not very well lit, but not so bad that you are fumbling around, just a bit dim. But that is their style and it works just fine.
Asia de Cuba is based in the very posh St Martin's Lane Hotel, part of the Morgan's Group of hotels, and based about 2 minutes' walk from Leicester Square tube station, so in a fabulous location that is easy to find and easy to get to other places before and afterwards.
The restaurant is on the ground floor located towards the back of the restaurant, but easily accessible from the front door.
The layout of the restaurant itself is very clean and neat. At the front is the main reception - a small desk with no room for the staff to be seated, they must stand at all times. Just inside is the bar area which is comprised of narrow high tables (probably about a foot square) for patrons to stand and have a drink - what's with all the standing? There is one sofa area with a sofa big enough for two (maybe 3 very friendly) people and 2 chairs. But other than that, it's all about the standing at Asia de Cuba!
We had arrived about 15mins early for our table so we were shown into the bar area to wait and have a drink. I ordered a pear and elderflower martini and my date ordered an old fashioned. The waiter in the bar area was very friendly, perhaps a little too friendly, but very smiley and happy to take our order quickly and bring the drinks out quickly too. My bellini was delicious, very refreshing, however, my date's old fashioned was very disappointing. An old fashioned typically takes a long time to serve because all the sugar must be dissolved as part of the mixing process. Unfortunately, there was a bit sugary mess at the bottom of the glass and the bourbon used wasn't overly tasty. But we figured that we wouldn't be waiting long for our table because there seemed to be plenty of empty tables and people coming and going quickly.
After 15 mins of waiting the waitress came over to tell us it wouldn't be much longer before we were seated. However, it was a further 15 mins after that, that we were actually seated. Having watched various other groups and couples being seated who came in after us, was really disappointing, and my date asked our waiter whether there was any particular reason those people had been seated before us, despite us waiting longer. We were not given any answer to that question but told that we could speak to a manager about it.
In the meantime we were shown to our little table, we were tucked away into a corner, but that was rather nice from my perspective because it meant we had a little more privacy rather than being in the main open area.
Our tale waiter was delightful, he was very friendly and very knowledgeable. We had only come for dessert, as I had been obsessed with the Mexican doughnuts Asia de Cuba served when we had been to a food festival in the past. So, the Mexican doughnuts were ordered and so was a Cuban Brownie. The waiter informed us that the desserts are rather large and that he would bring us a half portion of each. Which was actually very sweet of him to fill us in, several places would have just brought us the full portion each and charged us the full price knowing full well we wouldn't be able to eat it all.
The desserts were both delicious. Freshly cooked and delightfully warm when they reached us. I cannot complain about the quality of the dessert at all. And the smells of the other foods from nearby tables were delightful.
After dessert one of the managers came to apologise for the fact that we were kept waiting, but could still offer us no actual reason as to why other people had been seated ahead of us. We got the impression that the other people were either regulars or well known on the town as very rich. Perhaps we just didn't look the part!
Food and drink here is quite pricey, but the desserts are worth it in my opinion, as was the bellini - but perhaps stay away from the old fashioned. Cocktails cost between £10-14, main courses are between £25-32 and desserts are £10-13 each. So it's certainly not a cheap night out.
I would eat the desserts here again in a heartbeat, but I was very disappointed with the way we were treated at the start of the night by being neglected. I am of the opinion that everyone's money is the same, and he/she who arrives first and on time for their table should be given their table. My date (who paid for the food and drinks) however, said he would never eat there again under any circumstances simply because of being neglected.
At a time when everyone is looking to try and make some easy extra cash any way they can websites like Money Saving Expert have pointed us in the direction of opinion polling sites. One Poll is one such site.
Signing up is pretty easy just input your name and email and off you go. They even have links to Facebook pages, but I have not done that so cannot comment on the use of it.
Once registered you can log onto your page and on the surveys available will be listed with a survey number and how much they are worth. Usually they are worth about 10-15p with an occasional 20p. I have never encountered surveys worth more than that. Sometimes the surveys do not have a monetary value and instead you complete them and get entered into a prize draw to win something or a cash amount. Needless to say after completing several of these surveys I have never won any of these prize draws, but hey maybe I am just a cynic.
With surveys racking up only 10-20p a time, to reach the £40 required target before being allowed to withdraw your money takes a long time. For some people - years probably. I have been signed up to the site for about 18 months and my personal balance is at about £12 now. So still a way to go. I do check twice a week for surveys to complete, so you really do need to be regular about checking in order to make sure the funds rack up as much as possible.
Surveys generally take anything from 30 seconds to 5 minutes to complete depending on the subject matter. Sometimes you can log onto a survey and within the first couple of questions you will be thrown out of the survey because you are not the right gender, you're not employed in the right sector, you don't have children, etc etc. This is just the nature of market research, so you have to just roll with it and not get too frustrated.
About a year ago One Poll launched a phone app for their site, which I downloaded. However, in that time I have completed about 6 surveys on the app. This is quite simply because (despite checking regularly) there are never any available to complete. The bulk of the surveys are completed on the actual website - I'm not sure what the justification is for not uploading them to the app, but One Poll must have their reasons. So for those thinking they will do the surveys on the move via the app - think again. It is free to download, so worth having, but don't expect to earn any serious contributions to your account that way.
If you are someone who has time on their hands to check the site regularly, and not get too frustrated by it, then you have nothing to lose by signing up and checking a couple of times a week. But if you are looking for fast, easy money then this survey site is not for you, you would probably be better signing up to an actual research panel and completing ones in person for cash in hand.
My friends and I decided to go to Wireless this year to see The Black Eyed Peas. Having been fans of the group for a few years and never managing to get tickets for any concerts, we were determined to see them in 2011, come rain or shine. The tickets were £60 per person, but that did include seeing other artists too.
BEPs have a great way of getting the crowd going. They started their set with well known classics, with a dance along beat to get everyone into the spirit of things. Their voices were all on top form - I have to confess I was a little worried about Fergie, who although sounds fabulous with the auto-tune of a studio has been known to be a bit shaky live. But she did not disappoint. She did a couple of her solo singles, and was pitch perfect singing "big girls don't cry". In fact, they were all word and pitch perfect, and I didn't notice any forgotten words. Everyone knows sometimes their songs can be very fast lyrically, but they performed everything just as you would want to hear it, and yes, cynics, before you get all huffy - they were definitely live, not miming!
However, my one gripe with the set, was that in the middle, the rest of the group disappeared off stage and left Will.I.Am to do a DJ set lasting about 20mins. Don't get me wrong, it was a fabulous set, but of other people's songs. I didn't come to listen to remastered versions of Stevie Wonder classics. I paid £60 to see the BEPs perform THEIR songs, not Will.I.Am's DJ'ing. He is, however, a fabulous DJ as well as a great producer, is there nothing this man can't do. But I digress. The point is, I didn't want to see a DJ set, I really wanted to see them do their thing.
But the 20min flew by, and everyone was still having a great time when the rest of the group came back out and carried on with the set. They covered all their classic songs in the 1hr 30 that they performed, my friends and I could not think of anything they didn't perform that we had been desperate to hear.
Fergie looked incredible, as she always does, and put on a great show - lots of dancing along with the backing dancers, and even a little grinding with a security guard at the side of the stage (luckiest security guard in the world according to the young man behind me).
The costumes were fabulously futuristic, as is the case with many of their videos, and some of the outfits must have been quite uncomfortable and definitely hot to wear for such a long period with all the lights shining on them, dancing around the stage.
The stage itself was pretty basic, and had 2 different levels, with one platform that rose to the side for Will.I.Am's DJ set, but it didn't need to be anything more than it was, this wasn't in an arena, it was a one off show, in the middle of a park. I wasn't expecting miracles. I rather think though, that for their arena tours the stages would be more elaborate to incorporate more tricks and stunts.
The whole show was highly energetic, with so much dancing and was incredible to watch, I defy anyone there not to be tapping their toes at the very least.
Would I see them again? Absolutely.
My sister bought me a tube of this delicious lip balm as a gift a year ago and I have been hooked ever since!
The packaging is nothing special, a simple white tube with basic writing on. Not obviously attributed to any brand, but is perfect for grown up bags where a bright pink lip balm doesn't quite convey the appearance you are trying to portray. I like the fact that this comes in a tube and so is just gently squeezed onto the lips, I cannot stand tubs where you have to put grubby fingers in. Very unhygienic! But this tube works perfectly for those of us who are a little wary of germs.
Application leaves a lovely gentle tingly feeling to the lips - I assume this to be the mint in the formula. And it smells absolutely divine - just like After Eight mints! Every time I wear it, someone comments on how delicious it smells, and after a year or so of using it, my boyfriend still asks what sweets I have when I put it on!
The tube states that it adds a subtle gloss, which I can confirm it does. It has a slight shine, without any sticky residue. In terms of staying power - as long as you can learn to resist the temptation to lick it off, it stays very well and you don't need many applications in a day. I have often found that it has stayed on for a couple of hours for me. I have actually taken this on nights out rather than using a lip gloss. The effect is the same - just remember that it is colourless. According to the tube you can wear it over lipstick to create a gloss look. I have never done this, so I'm not sure whether the lipstick might slide off as the balm is very silky.
In terms of actual qualities for use, it does leave the lips soft and smooth and doesn't dry them out. I often find myself reaching for this in the winter when the cold has chapped my lips, and it adds a little light relief. Even a couple of hours after using this my lips are noticeable softer and smoother.
It's not that common these days, but nice to know that Palmer's is against animal testing.
My tubes tend to last me (but remember I have perfected the skill of not licking it off all the time) a couple of months. The price? Around £2.50 from Boots and Superdrug. So not as cheap as your Boots own in a capsule, but for the extra yum factor, it's totally worth it!
I am a marketing man's dream, I always fall for the ad lines on items like this. So when I saw a lotion that was supposed to "tone, smooth, tighten and slim the tummy area" (their words not mine), I was convinced that I needed to try it.
With a price tag of around £19 from places like Boots, it's not a cheap impulse purchase. You can occasionally find deals, but this product has been in the media a lot over the past few months, and the brand has a bit of a cult following, so don't expect miracles.
The packaging is nice. The box it comes in is slightly oversized, and in an age of packaging devils, I think they could reduce the size of the box greatly, but hey, it's recyclable so I'm not going to hold it against them. The tube itself is made of sturdy plastic (not sure whether this is recyclable though), so unlikely to crack under pressure. The design is basic but elegant, with simple green and white colouring it doesn't draw too much attention to itself - great for keeping in the bathroom without worrying that visitors will be instantly drawn to look at your belly reducing cream!
You need to use this product over a period of about 6 weeks, and according to their studies the average person lost 2.5cm in their waist girth. and skin smoothness was increased by 23%. Depending on your starting "girth" a tube could last you the 6 weeks, but those with more girth might require a couple of tubes to complete the course.
When I applied this the first thing I noticed was the strong smell. It reminds me of floral aromatherapy oils, and the smells does linger for a while - probably attributed to the many ingredients inside that are fat busting! The texture is rather like a jelly to me, and went on smoothly at first but after a few vigorous rubs of the belly area I started to feel like I had sticky skin. This does wear off after a few minutes, but can be a bit disconcerting at first. You will have to wash your hands after application otherwise they will retain the smell all day and it does start to give you a headache after a while.
After a couple of days of using this product I found that I needed to use the bathroom a lot more frequently. I wondered what I had changed in my diet to cause this - the answer was nothing. Applying this lotion was the only new thing in my routine. So I stayed off it for a couple of days and my bathroom habits returned to normal. I mentioned this to a friend, who hadn't had the same reaction, but she thought it must have been related to the lotion and that perhaps it worked by clearing your system out - combined with the vigorous rubbing of the belly area. Not sure how accurate that is, but that was my own personal experience of using it. I tired it again a few days later and the same thing happened again, I have not read any reviews of it happening to others, so it could be psychological, but I wanted to mention it.
After using this for a few weeks, my skin was indeed smoother, but my little tyre around my belly had not diminished at all, which was very disappointing. I think perhaps this works better on people who have more wobbly belly fat rather than those of us with a little muffin top - the last stubborn bit that we want to remove. This is perhaps more suited as something to start with when trying to lose a more substantial amount of weight.
My personal opinion would be to save the £20 plus that you need to spend to lose the 2.5cm, put down the crisps and chocolate, and save even more money, and lose the 2.5cm the conventional way. And perhaps a little cocoa butter or baby oil for the smooth skin!
When thinking about purchasing make up products perhaps Armani, primarily a fashion company, might not be the first to spring to mind. Not least because it can be a bit tricky to actually find in the shops. But don't let this put you off!
The packaging is basic and plain, yet elegant. It is not instantly recognizable and because it is black it can sometimes be a pest to find in the make up bag.
This mascara has a comb instead of a wand, slightly angled to prevent too much eye-poking. The comb is 4 sided and rather thin, so looks a bit flimsy at first. However, with teeth (don't let this scary word put you off) on each side as well as the angling, means that you can reach deep into the corners to get those tiny lashes coated. The comb allows for fabulous separation of all the lashes, creating an almost false-lash effect.
Application takes a couple of uses to get used to the angle on the wand and the fact that there are teeth on all sides. I managed to mascara my eyelids a couple of times! But once you have the hang of it, it is very easy and very quick - just be sure to reach into the corners to get those smaller pesky lashes.
The formula of the mascara itself helps lengthen the lashes without making them look fibrous, they look very natural in length, with the separation mentioned above. In terms of staying power, I have never experienced any problems with it staying on for the day, and have never had panda eyes at the end of the day, nor those annoying little powdery clump pieces that sometimes occur. I tend to use this as an everyday mascara, but for those who don't want this extreme look each day, it would certainly be fabulous for a dramatic night look. The only thing the wand doesn't do is allow for curling the lashes, so this would have to be done in addition to application, but I personally prefer the straighter look.
It is very quick drying, so be sure to apply to your desired look the first time - you cannot go back over it a couple of minutes later - the lashes will have dried and become quite stiff. Trying to add more layers will just be pointless.
This regular mascara (not the waterproof version) also passes the tears test. It stays in place, and does not run. It also doesn't make the lashes clump together after the tears have stopped - but that is providing you gently dab at the eyes rather than rub at them furiously with a tissue - it's not a miracle mascara afterall.
My one issue would be that when I remove it with my gentle face wipes, sometimes it irritates my eyes a little. Nothing major enough to make me want to stop using it, but just a bit stingy for a couple of minutes after removal. It can also be a tad stubborn and requires a little more elbow grease in coming off, but the wipes do the job. That being said, it doesn't leave your lashes in bad condition when removed, there has been no breakages or falling out for me.
My estimation would be a shelf life of about 2-3 months once opened. Using this every day it tends to dry out a little after that time, and can turn a little tough for application, but I tend to find that is the case for most mascaras generally.
I always buy this in black, and have no complaints with the colouring of it - basic and simple, but does the job perfectly well. I have never tried any of the other colours, so cannot comment on them or their availability, but black tends to be the easiest to locate.
With a price tag of around £21, and availability rather limited to stores like Selfridges where deals are few and far between, this is not an impulse purchase. Occasionally you can pick up a bargain on eBay. But for those who try it, I doubt you will look back.
The hill is rather steep between the beach and the main reception/restaurant area. So if you have troubles walking then I would not recommend this hotel to you. However, there are little golf buggies that the staff will happily come and collect you in. The hotel is built on a hill, and as a result there is a very strong wind that blows throughout the day. While at times it was welcome and refreshing, at other times it got very frustrating to have to keep holding onto half empty cups to ensure they did not spill drinks everywhere in a gust.
There are 3 small shops opposite the main reception. One selling snacks and drinks and souvenirs, one selling gold and silver pieces, and one selling fur items. The mini market had an adequate selection of things like crisps and chocolate bars, and newspapers. The alcohol however, was over-priced.
Around the resort there are no sign posts telling you where anything is, so you have to explore by yourself. At the main reception they can give you a map but it doesn't take into account the different levels the resort is on. On the first couple of days we thought it was strange that there were no toilets by the pools or by the beach. But then we checked the map and discovered there are - they just aren't sign posted.
Everything for the public is kept impeccably clean, the toilets are always replenished with soap, tissues and hand towels, the bar areas are always wiped clean, the floors are never dirty. The staff here really do work very hard to keep it looking great and new.
WiFi is available in the main lobby area. It was a bit temperamental, but you're on holiday - you shouldn't be checking emails etc!
You can walk into Kardamena town along the beachfront if you fancy it, or there is a shuttle bus for E1.60 per person, per journey. We walked, and it is a rather long walk in the heat, but it is manageable. However, Kardamena is very run down and unless you desperately want to get some booze or cigarettes, I wouldn't say there is much else there. Lots of businesses have been closed down and abandoned, and parts of the town are ghost-like which is rather sad. We overheard other people at the airport talking about their time in the town and they said the bars were rather grotty and there was nowhere particularly nice to eat! We were certainly glad we'd gone for the all inclusive option at our hotel!
The swimming pools are magnificent. There are so many of them, always clean with beautifully clear water, and clean tiles. We saw the man cleaning them every day with the special robot.
The water is salt water, so not to everyone's liking, but there are showers located by most of the pools to wash the excess salt off. The water itself is pretty cold, but this is very refreshing when you get too hot in the sunshine.
Around the pools are plenty of sunbeds and umbrellas. The umbrellas are fixed into the ground so sadly not moveable, but there are a lot of beds. They are made from wood and are very sturdy indeed, and very comfortable. Each night we saw the staff moving the beds around to ensure that the place was kept neat and tidy and ready for the guests the next day. The only issue we had with sunbeds was that people tended to put their towels on them early to reserve them and never actually use them. This was rather frustrating, but seems to be a fact wherever you go on holiday.
The top pools by the restaurant tended to be the quietest and were slightly more sheltered from the winds.
Beach towels are available to borrow from the hotel for a small deposit. Most people at the hotel used this facility.
Food and Drink
The main buffet restaurant
Breakfast catered to everyone's different tastes. You could have cooked foods, including freshly made omelettes, continental foods including cheese and ham, cereals, yogurts and pastries. Coffee was served by the waiting staff, and there was a great range of teas available, including many different types of herbal teas, and 3 different types of juice on offer.
The buffet restaurant was not busy at lunchtime while we were staying at the hotel, so it was nice to get the pick of the seats, and to be able to go up and down without queuing too long. There was a very good selection of food available including meats, pasta, salad dishes; as well as a small selection of dessert items too.
Dinner was a very busy time in the buffet restaurant. If you wanted to sit outside then you had to wait a while to be seated.
The number of people using the buffet at dinnertime makes you realise that the main stand is not quite big enough for the number of people the hotel can accommodate. The queues get very long, and you can spend about 15min waiting to get around it. But the choice of foods available is very good, meats, fishes, pasta, chips, salads. And a great selection of dessert items too.
The seafront restaurants
The 4 restaurants at the bottom of the resort on the beachfront were Greek, Asian, Mexican and Italian. You need to go to the Asian restaurant the day before at 11am and book for the next day. They are open for lunch and dinner, and food is cooked freshly. The queues for the restaurants get very long, so it is worthwhile going down at about 10:45 to ensure you are relatively near the front.
These restaurants work by offering a small menu for you to choose from. We have read previous reviews where people have mentioned restaurants running out of items. We only experienced this with the desserts but never with any of the items on the main menu.
The Greek restaurant:
This was the only restaurant of the 4 beachside ones that we did not enjoy at all. The salad was drowned in oil and the portions were small. The food was fatty and uninteresting. We left disappointed from here, and actually went and got some more food from the main buffet restaurant instead.
The Asian Restaurant:
There was a bit of a fly problem in the Asian restaurant, in that they were everywhere. Which was a bit off putting, but the food was absolutely delicious - they just need to invest in some Citronella candles to keep the critters at bay!
The food was Chinese based, but wasn't greasy at all, and was cooked perfectly. This was my favourite of the restaurants, I just wish the flies were not such a problem.
The Mexican restaurant:
The food here was very nice. There was no vegetarian options for the main course though, which would put some people off. The staff were really nice here, and I didn't fancy any of the main courses, so they made me a second starter instead.
The Italian Restaurant:
We ate at the Italian restaurant twice during our stay, and the food was lovely on both occasions. We sampled the pizzas and the pasta dishes and both were really lovely. The service in the Italian is the slowest of all the restaurants, but it seems to be one of the most popular choices, especially for people with small children.
There are 6 mini restaurants surrounding the pool bar. They are open for lunch and dinner, and you do not have to reserve a table here, you just turn up. However, they are small and only seat about a dozen people at a time so you may have to wait at busy times.
Pita Corner: This mini restaurant serves basic Greek style food including kebabs and souvlaki. The souvlaki was a tad too fatty for my liking, but the food was cooked fresh and nicely presented.
Burger Inn: serving chicken and beef burgers, cooked fresh to order and served with little potato wedges. The burgers were nice, although a tad on the small side. But perfect as a little lunchtime treat. If it was for dinner, I would think one burger wouldn't be enough for a grown up but would be perfect for a child.
Ouzeria: this is Greek tapas type food and was really tasty. It was nice to have a great selection of foods to try. Each dish comes out separately, so you can be sat there for a while just eating dish after dish. We were absolutely (pleasantly) stuffed after eating here.
Pastry Corner: serving ice creams and crepes (freshly made) until 2am, this seemed to be very popular throughout the day. A great choice of ice creams available as well as different fillings for the crepes.
We didn't try the Sushi restaurant or the Beraria restaurant, but the food did look really good and although the Sushi restaurant was never as busy as the others, there were always empty plates from those who did eat there! The Beraria restaurant was very popular with the German guests.
The mains bars at the hotel were the pool bar, the night bar (which as the name suggests only opened at night) and the lobby bar. The night bar had seats inside and out, but there aren't really enough for the amount of people staying so people often have to stand around waiting for others to leave.
The singer in the bar is fine. It's the same things each night, but to be honest it's just background music and is slightly more personal than just playing a CD. There were other entertainment nights by the shops, but we just enjoyed looking at the great views, sipping our drinks and playing cards.
Drinks are a combination of some name brand spirits and some non. But to be perfectly honest the non-name brand ones are just as nice as the name brand ones when mixed as a cocktail. The servings are incredibly generous, and there is no such thing as a 'measure'. It is just pour and serve. So it is easy to get drunk quite quickly. I would say that the wine and beer are not as strong as we have in the UK. But the spirits are, so beware. Plenty of soft drinks and coffees/teas are available throughout the day, and my particular favourite was to have an iced coffee with Baileys in the late afternoon - absolute heaven.
In all the bars the drinks are served in plastic cups so that there are no glass incidents. The night bar serves some in glasses but only if they are being drunk inside the building, close to the bar.
The pool bar had a bit of a problem with creepy giant hornet things. They were attracted to the sugar in the Pepsi machine, and seemed to be everywhere. They didn't sting as far as I was aware, and the staff just tended to ignore them.
The staff work relentlessly and are always busy doing something, you never see them lounging around or taking breaks. They all had a great range of languages spoken, mainly Greek, English, Russian and German. But we got the impression that many of them could speak French and Spanish too.
The staff were always polite and courteous, even though a lot of the other guests were very rude and unfriendly. We quickly learned that a smile and saying your pleases and thanks you's (especially if you could master "thank you" in Greek) would get you even better service and seemed to be really appreciated by the staff.
The bedrooms and bathrooms
We stayed in a standard room which consisted of twin beds. The rooms are very clean and modern, and there is a lot of "white". White sheets, white walls, white bath. Some of the fixtures and fittings seemed a bit cheap and possibly liable to break, but the overall effect was very nice and modern.
The doors open using key cards as is the case in many hotels. It seems this hotel perhaps started with the idea of using keys, as there are locks on the doors, but then they realised that keys are too costly to replace when guests lose them. The key card system is intelligent - you actually have to use the real keycard to operate the electrics (by popping it in the slot by the front door). Ours couldn't be fooled with an alternative card - it actually needed the keycard. So you can't leave electrical items on during the day while you are out.
Rather annoyingly there were two power cuts in the week that we were there. This means that you cannot use your keycard to get into your apartment. If you want to go outside while the power cut is ongoing then you have to leave your balcony door unlocked. Which was a bit disconcerting, but we didn't encounter any problems doing that.
The air conditioning system is sensitive, and you need to make sure that the doors are all shut otherwise it won't work.
Sometimes you could hear the people in the rooms above you moving around, and although this wasn't a problem for us as it only happened a couple of times, we did overhear other people having a bit of a moan about it on a couple of occasions.
The bathrooms were almost like a double bathroom, firstly with the bath and sink, and then connecting from there through another glass door was the toilet and shower wet room. The only downside to the shower and toilet being in the same room was that the shower tended to flood the whole room, and it took ages to dry out, so then every time you wanted to use the toilet you had to go across the wet and slightly slippery floor.
The towels were changed each day, but they need to be as there weren't really proper facilities in the bathrooms for hanging them up to allow them to dry off. My main annoyance with the bathrooms was the toilet paper should definitely be a lot nicer for a 5 star hotel! Also the hairdryer in the bathroom was strapped into the wall and didn't have a very long cable. I'm only 5ft3 and I struggled with it, so I would advise people to take their own.
There were no ledges in the shower for you to put your toiletries on, so you had to balance them on the shower unit or leave them on the floor. Toiletries were not replenished very frequently, so remember to take your own with you too. We just had the Mitsis ones mainly, and only had one bottle of Hermes conditioner. This wasn't an issue for us as I personally preferred the smell of the Mitsis ones, but they do advertise as providing Hermes products.
We had a bit of an ant problem in our room, they were creeping in through a slightly unfinished part of the floor. We blocked up the hole with a bit of toilet tissue and had to kill many of the ants, but the bodies were always cleaned up by the maids each day.
The mini fridge in the rooms was always well stocked with soft drinks, beer and mineral water. It was a really nice touch. The wine provided when we arrived was just a mini bottle (with a few monkey nuts on the side). Sadly we couldn't open the wine, as it needed a bottle opener and the one they provided was so flimsy it broke.
So overall our experience here was a good one, we really enjoyed the hotel and thought the staff were wonderful . People shouldn't expect the 5 star standards of a British hotel, but it is a really lovely hotel, and there is nothing here that is dislikeable enough to spoil your holiday. It's a really good venue, lots of things to eat and drink, and great staff.
Firstly I must apologise to the Vegetarians, this restaurant is not for you. There are only a couple of things on the menu that you would be able to eat. But if you are a meat eater, a primarily a steak lover, then carry on reading - this is the perfect place for you....
Located in E1 near Spitalfields Market, you could be forgiven for walking past this restaurant without ever know it is there. Nothing about the exterior screams "restaurant" but they this place is always so popular that it does not need to rely on passing trade.
The meat here is ethically sourced from the way the cows are reared even to the slaughtering process. Never a nice thought when discussing your food, but I think it is nice to know that the animals have had a happy life and not been maltreated, nor stressed prior to slaughter. The restaurant claim that all these factors help improve the taste, and I can't argue with them. It was easily the best steak I have ever eaten.
The way the menu works is that you firstly pick your cut of steak, then select the size that your group would like to share. I am not an expert on cuts of meat, so the waitress was more than happy to explain what each one was, and didn't make us feel silly for asking. My partner and I went for 800g of Porterhouse, which was served in a dish sliced into mini steaks for us. We also had some chips to share, some mushrooms and he had some bone marrow (which he informs me was very tasty, but I didn't like the thought of it).
All the food was absolutely amazing, served piping hot and clearly freshly cooked for each order. But the steak was out of this world amazing. Each mouthful melted to perfection and barely required chewing. It was succulent and tender, and full of flavour. You could easily eat it with no side dishes, and no sauces. Although homemade ketchup (delicious) was provided in cute little bottles. Steaks cost between £6-12 pre 100g and side dishes are about £4 each.
Puddings are wonderfully traditional, with us opting for a trifle and a sticky toffee pudding. Both truly delicious and wonderful end to an incredibly tasty meal. Puddings cost about £6 each.
The drinks menu is extensive and expensive! Wines start at £20 and go up... and up. But I'm sure there are plenty of people who frequent this restaurant who would think nothing of spending £100 plus on a bottle of wine.
After our meal we decided to sit in the bar for a couple of cocktails to let our food settle before we heading back to the train station. The cocktails are not your run of the mill mojitos, but are much more inspiring (although they will make you any cocktail your heart desires). We decided to share "The Zombie" a lethal combination of spirits so strong that they are only allowed to serve one per person. It was certainly blow your head off strong, but a fun thing to try.
The staff here are very friendly, and are clearly well looked after by the management. There is no uniform and they are all knowledgeable and get along, and it is reflected in their attitudes towards customers. A real breath of fresh air from many restaurants where the staff clearly would rather be anywhere else.
I couldn't fault this restaurant on anything. yes it is expensive, but you get what you pay for here, and if you are looking for a tasty steak, no frills, just done to perfection, then this is the place to go, there is no doubt in my mind.
This restaurant was the winner of Time Out's "Best New Local Restaurant" Award. It sits at a site where many restaurants have tried and failed, but it seems that The Exhibition Rooms are here to stay.
The exterior is smart and clean, and the interior is airy and light. Thankfully there are large spaces between tables so you never feel crowded, and don't feel like your conversation is being shared with surrounding tables.
This restaurant is popular with locals and those from slightly further afield. With plenty of offers they attract customers throughout the week but are notably busier at the weekends.
Offers here include:
Gourmet Burger and Mussel Monday £9.95 including a glass of wine or beer
Mon - Sat 12-4pm any 2 courses for £10
Steak Night Tuesdays for £10.95
6-8pm Happy Hour 2 for 1 cocktails
My friend and I decided to test out the Gourmet Burgers offer on Monday night and were not disappointed. For £9.95 you can choose one of three burgers (classic with cheese, bacon and a mushroom; one with goats cheese, and a chicken burger - sorry veggies they seem to have forgotten you). The burgers are a very decent size, and come served in a bun with a small side salad (complete with gherkins), a small tub of tomato relish, and chips. They also bring out small tubs of tomato ketchup and a chilli mayonnaise too. Both very delicious.
The burgers were cooked to your liking. I chose well-done which I confess was a mistake on my part, I should have asked for medium, but that was my fault. This place cooks it how you ask for it. It's not one of those restaurants that takes your order as well-done and serves it medium, they will do it how you ask for it.
Included in the offer price was a glass of wine or beer. I had already ordered a sparkling water at the start of the meal, but declined a wine or beer because I was driving, and so the staff did not charge for my earlier beverage which I thought was a nice touch.
The staff are friendly, although there only seemed to be two waiters on Monday night who were perhaps a little overworked and forgot about us a couple of times. After declining dessert we had to wait about 15 mins before an opportunity arose to request the bill.
The drinks menu is more than substantial. There are plenty of wines, beers, spirits and soft drinks to choose from, as well as a delicious looking cocktail menu - which will be investigated on another visit!
The dining menu is short but sweet, including options for both meat eaters and vegetarians. The tomato and ricotta ravioli looked absolutely amazing, but the burgers were tempting me too much this week, but I will certainly go back to test out the menu some more. In general you should expect to pay about £10-15 for a main course here, but the sizes are more than ample, and for a tasty dinner, I am very happy to pay those prices.
Croydon used to be a vibrant place with a lot of bars, pubs and nightclubs to choose from. Sadly, with the recession, and a lot of bad press for the area, many of these establishments have closed down and are now derelict sites with old posters in the window. Only the strongest of the venues have survived. And Tiger Tiger is one of the survivors.
Open every day of the week, Tiger attracts the majority of it's customers on Friday and Saturday nights. However, each night between 5 and 8pm they offer half price drinks to try and tempt the apres-work drinkers. On Sundays the half price offer still applies, however, the bar does not attract a huge crowd.
When Tiger first opened many years ago it was new and exciting, operating over 2 floors, with many little rooms off each floor, including a restaurant, a cocktail lounge, a dance room, a pop room and a chill room. The decor was vibrant and interesting, however, to date it is in serious need of a revamp with stains galore on the seats, and sticky wobbly tables on the ground floor.
The staff are perfectly nice, young pretty things, who are probably still at college/uni. The security staff on the door are burly looking men in the usual doorman attire of long black coats, who stand there looking mean and hard - but who I'm sure are pussycats underneath that tough exterior.
The bar areas are large serving a huge range of drinks to suit every desire from beer to cocktails to champagne. All at standard prices of around £6 per cocktail, £5 per glass of wine, all pretty standard. But at half price - even better.
The toilets are in great need of a refurb. The looks hardly ever work, and the approach to the gents greets you with a vile whiff of... well..... poo basically. It smells of poo. All the time. On weekend nights most of the ladies toilets have an attendant on hand to supply perfume and sweets - in return for a hefty tip.
Generally speaking Tiger attracts a range of ages, primarily because it s one of the only nightclub venues in Croydon that remain. There used to be an over 21s policy at the weekends, but I think that is now long gone. Either that or I am getting older and just think everyone looks 18....
This venue has serious potential to be a nice place, if only a bit of money were to be invested into a few new fixtures and fittings and a new carpet.