California Hotel 4-8 Belgrove Street, London, England

I was taking an early train from London St. Pancras and wanted to find suitable accommodation for one night close to the station. I am old enough to remember The Eagles hit song ‘Hotel California’, so when I found the California Hotel, 4-8 Belgrove Street, London, England, I could not go past it. calif hotel out

The hotel is only about 200 yards from St. Pancras/Kings Cross Station. It is formed of four old town houses and to get into the building you have to go up three very deep, steep steps. This would not normally be a huge problem, unless you have mobility problems. However, my suitcase was extremely heavy and getting it up even those three steps was a struggle.

The reception area is small and quirky. The staff are helpful and very polite. The biggest drawback in respect of this hotel is that there is no elevator. Had I noticed that, I would probably have booked somewhere else. However, the reception staff kindly brought my heavy suitcase to my room and when I was leaving the following morning, they brought it back to reception for me, but not down the three steep stairs outside. caalif hotel room

I had booked a single room and I got a single bed in a small basement room. It was quite bright as it had a double aspect window, but as the room looked into other hotel rooms, I had to keep the blinds shut. My room had an en-suite wet room. The quality of the shower was excellent, but the lavatory made a dreadful noise when I flushed it.calif hotel reception

There was a small tray of courtesy teas and coffees, a bottle of water and a hair-dryer. it also had free wi-fi with no password and I got a good telephone signal. I met family for dinner and friends for breakfast, so I did not eat in the California Hotel. The hotel was perfectly situated for what I needed and the room had everything I expected, albeit in a confined space.

I would not seek out the California Hotel again, but if I were making similar travel arrangements, I would not avoid it.

Val Penny

 

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Azzurro, 255 Eltham High Street, Eltham, England

I do enjoy Italian food! So when my daughter and son-in-law booked dinner for us at Azzurro in Eltham, I was looking forward to the meal as well as the company. The restaurant is quite small and very busy but everything is spotlessly clean and the service is attentive, but not intrusive.azzurro out

Azzurro in Eltham is a family run restaurant and the food is freshly cooked to order, so it is not fast food. But it is delicious food. My husbad and son-in law shared a garlic bread pizza for starters while my daughter and I nibbled on some marinated olives. azzurro-italia

For our main courses my son-in- law and I chose pizza while my daughter had pasta and my husband tucked into an Italian lamb dish. Only my husband had room for a pudding and enjoyed the tiramasu and we all had teas and coffees to round off the meal.

The restaurant is not austentatious, but it is good value. I highly recommend Azzurro, if you are in the area.

Val Penny

 

Star of India 267 Eltham High St, Eltham, London

There are no local Indian Restaurants in our village, so, on a recent visit to London my husband and I treated ourselves to a meal at the Star of India, 267 Eltham High St, Eltham, London. What a lovely meal we had. star of india inside

We went for dinner fairly early after visiting relatives. The restaurant was cool and the service was relaxed and unobtrusive. The crisp, white linen table cloths made the place look clean and fresh. We ordered drinks and then our meals.

My husband started with chicken pakora while I had a poppadum with pickles. Both of us enjoyed these very much.star of india outside

For our main courses my husband chose lamb passander and I ordered saag paneer. We requested basmati rice as well as side orders of daal and aloo gobi. It was all absolutely delicious. We thoroughly enjoyed the meal and our evening at the Star of India. If you enjoy Indian food, this restaurant is well worth a visit.

Val Penny

 

Premier Inn, Five Ways, 738 Sidcup Rd, New Eltham, London

On a recent visit to London my husband and I stayed in a Premier Inn Hotel. It was very conveniently situated for the plans we had and the price of accomodation was most competitive. So we checekd in to the Premier Inn, Five Ways, 738 Sidcup Rd, New Eltham, London.

Our first experience of the hotel was checking in. It all went smoothly. The check-in clerk was professional, courteous and very helpful. She took time out to look up the first place we were visiting on her computer and directed us as to the best way to get there. It took a few minutes, but she could not have been kinder.premier inn room

We got up to our room and found it was spotlessly clean. The room was also a good size. It had not only a queen-sized bed, but also a sofa that could have been used as an extra bed, perhaps for a child if we had needed it. The bed was extremely comfortable. There was a courtesy tray with teas and coffees, extra pillows and the bath sheets were a good size.

Unfortunately, the window did not open and we could not adjust the heating, so the room was uncomfortably hot at night. Also the cleaners did not refill the courtesy tray for the later days of our stay and the towels were not soft.

new eltham bathroom

On our first morning, there were not many people in the hotel so the famous, hot Premier Inn buffet breakfast was not on offer, but the cooked dishes were served to order, although the continental breakfast was buffet. The meal was delicious. Later in our stay, my husband was overjoyed when full buffet breakfast returned!premier inn ne

We had an evening meal at the hotel once. It was freshly cooked and tasty. We had drinks in the hotel on another evening, there is no separate bar, but there are comfortable couches in the restaurant area to enjoy a drink.

All in all, we very much enjoyed our stay and will use the Premier Inn, Five Ways, 738 Sidcup Rd, New Eltham, London again.

Val Penny

 

Cala Millor Garden Spa and Chill Out, Cala Millor Majorca

It was ten years since I had been to Majorca and over forty years since my husband had visited the island, so, when we decided to go to the Cala Millor Garden Spa and Chill Out for an Easter Break, we joked that the place would be glad of the repeat business! However neither of us had been to Cala Millor so the trip felt like a real adventure: going somewhere new.

The Cala Millor Garden Spa and Chill Out is an adults only resort. We had never chosen to go to an adult only resort before and chose this one rather by chance. It seemed like a relaxing place and had an indoor pool and spa which we thought we would enjoy at that early part of the season.cala millor reception

When we arrived at the hotel, from the very beginning, we found the staff to be charming and helpful. We were greeted with a smile and a glass of cava and when we went up to our room, on the top floor, we were delighted with the accommodation too. Although we arrived early in the day, our room was ready for occupation. It was scrupulously clean and comfortably spacious, although at that time of year we did not use the balcony as much as we might have done later on.cala millor view

What marks this resort out from many others we have visited is the beautiful grounds which surround the hotel. There is plenty of seating, many sun beds, a jacuzzi and lovely outdoor pool a snack and drinks bar in the grounds with tables and chairs where hot and cold drinks and light meals are served. It was lovely to sit with a drink or a snack and enjoy the views from the terrace.

The dining room, within the hotel is where most meals are served. The Cala Millor Garden Spa and Chill Out offers many levels of board through from bed and breakfast to all-inclusive. In the dining room, again, there was lots of space and the seating very relaxed: everybody just choosing where they wanted to sit rather than being assigned a table. All meals are served buffet style although, apart from breakfast, drinks are served to diners.cala millor dining room

In the basement of the hotel there is a heated indoor pool, a jacuzzi, a small gym which is well-equipped and well-used and a delightful beauty salon where many different procedures can be enjoyed. These require to be booked at the reception desk.cala millor outside

We were also delighted by the situation of the Cala Millor Garden Spa and Chill Out. It is in a very flat part of the island, and therefore lends itself to easy, enjoyable walks. It was funny walking along by the sea and coming across so many happy children and families when we were staying in an adults only environment. We also enjoyed easy walks to the shops and into the town where there are lots of cafes and restaurants to choose from. We enjoyed the fact that the weather was warm enough for us to eat al fresco and people watch.

Both my husband and I very much enjoyed our holiday in the Cala Millor Garden Spa and Chill Out and certainly plan to return soon.

Val Penny

The Cafe Royal, 19 West Register Street, Edinburgh, Scotland

I recently met up with a delightful clowder of Cats: some other authors whose books are also published by Crooked Cat Books. We got together at The Cafe Royal, 19 West Register Street, Edinburgh, Scotland.Cafe Royal

It was years since I had been to The Cafe Royal and I had forgotten what a popular, busy pub it is. Hidden away around the corner at the East end of Prince’s Street, it is a gem. The décor is fabulous: Victorian & Baroque, stained glass windows in the Oyster Bar and Royal Doulton ceramic tiles. The staff were friendly and attentive. The wide choice of beers and whiskys is legendary.  cafe royal inAfter we had drunk our publisher dry, but not under the table, we all ordered meals and the food was excellent. Our main courses ranged from fish to risotto, steak pie. All the choices were much enjoyed and all were very reasonably priced.

Cafe royal outWhen we arrived about 3pm the bar was quite empty: by the time we left to find a different watering hole some five hours later, The Cafe Royal was back to being the bustling bar I remembered from years ago. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to The Cafe Royal. The company, the food and the drinks were all excellent, so whether you are looking for a pub to watch a rugby match or a restaurant to enjoy a meal with friends, I highly recommend Edinburgh’s Cafe Royal.

Val Penny

Paul Hollywood Bakery and Coffee, Euston Street, Kings Cross, London

Paul HollywoodIf I were Paul Hollywood, I would be embarrassed to have my name associated with this establishment.

I have never been a particular fan of the celebrity baker Paul Hollywood. (Pause for people to shout at the computer!) However, when my husband and I were meeting our daughter for morning coffee near Euston Station in London the other places were too full for us to find a table so we chose the Paul Hollywood Bakery and Coffee, Euston Street, Kings Cross, London.

I was bitterly disappointed by the service, the drinks, the cleanliness and the decor.

The positive things I should mention are that we did get a table when nowhere else nearby had one for us and my daughter and husband both got what they ordered. So far, so good.Paul Hollywood in

Immediately we walked in, we noticed the decor was shabby. Not shabby chic, shabby. A few seats had grubby cushions, most had had them torn off. The chairs were not comfortable, the tables were not clean and the floor was dirty. We decided not to eat here because of the filth but braved hot drinks. My husband did get his flat white, coffee. My daughter got her tea. I asked for and Earl Grey Tea: I got a PG Tips black tea. I had taken a few sips before I realised, so I didn’t take it back. Paul Hollywood tea

The staff certainly showed no interest in their customers or their environment. There was a notice asking customers to leave their cups, plates and such on the tables and a member of staff will be happy to collect it. In the hour we were there, when the place was not particularly busy, not one member of staff ventured from behind the counter to collect or clean anything. The interest in their own conversations prevented them from having time to do that.Paul Hollywood out.jpg

Would I recommend Paul Hollywood Bakery and Coffee, Euston Street, Kings Cross, London – no. Would I go there again – no.

Val Penny