Luxury Hotels

Welcome to Copenhagen, to lunch in Tivoli Gardens

Eat in the garden…

Flying into Copenhagen, the gal was quickly amazed by how easily the city runs with as few ‘workers’ as possible.  Kastrup airport has everything, with more shopping and eating facilities than you could want in a lifetime, but if you need a person to help you, then you have a problem. Concentrate, do what you have to do and you can find yourself, with a one-ride ticket (much better value than a day-pass) on the train to Central Station.  Cross Bernstorffsgade Street, using the pedestrian crossing in this law-abiding city, to the unique Nimb Hotel, of which more later. Once checked in, use your room key to go out of the rear door directly into Tivoli Gardens.

..and look through to the Gardens

I was heading straight for Gemyse, one of dozens of eating places in this gorgeous amusement park, opened 1843 and going strong ever since – past aficionados include Hans Christian Andersen and Walt Disney. Its many rides include Vertigo, voted best ride in Europe in 2014: it even offers a virtual reality experience, plus daily live shows and a fireworks display. The 20-acre area, today owned by a publicly-quoted company, is meticulously maintained. Nimb Hotel guests have the big advantage of complimentary entry, which includes getting to Gemyse.

Dips and dampers…

What a joy this restaurant is! Iben Marburger Juul, then GM of Nimb Hotel, wanted to bring the park into the dining experience.  She talked with the gardeners, as a result of which, as you can see from the photo at the top, even the entrance sign is flanked by tomato plants and other greenery.  When the weather allows, many diners choose to forgo the attractive, Scandinavian-simple indoor restaurant for eating in a big greenhouse, or simply outside.  My shoulder was brushed by bean plants as we tried chef Mette Dahlgaard’s dishes, highly admired by the Michelin inspectors.

..and a multitude of greens

Gemyse is not vegetarian as such but who wants meat when you can have grilled avocado topped with tomato relish, and fried cucumber with peas and pickled lime, and broccoli sprouts blended with bambini pasta and homemade cheese? I especially like what is called ‘tasting fields’, which turns out to be a green salad with nasturtium flowers. The breads were twisted dough, exactly like the dampers we used to make as Girl Guides, flour and water and cook over an open fire. Gosh that brought back the kind of memory that no luxury hotel would think of.  Does anyone know a gourmet restaurant that would dare to offer the delight of a damper? NOW SEE A VIDEO OF GEMYSE

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Luxury Hotels

Simply Sunday – eating outside, when you can, is more and more luxury

Welcome to The Kitchen

The gal loves eating outside.  On Seven Seas Navigator, for instance, when the weather allowed it was divine, at breakfast and lunch, to get a table on the outside terrace of the Verandah restaurant at the tenth deck stern. What a luxury ship can offer over and above the view from any unforgettable hotel, of course, is the endless fascination of the wake billowing out, and look at those little white horses on the crests of waves – and IS that a whale over there?

But dining out at hotels is also pretty special. Restaurants at Emirates Palace Kempinski in Abu Dhabi all flow out on to terraces, for instance, and I also remember with delight dining on the terrace at Belmond Villa Michele, Fiesole, looking down at the twinkling lights of Florence, below.

Owners and developers are increasingly aware of the marketing appeal of allowing diners to eat under the sun, or stars.  In Copenhagen, Gemyse, right in Tivoli Gardens, is a productive vegetable garden that happens to have tables, chairs and a first-class chef and menu: you are welcomed, as shown above, by a slate set among tomato plants. At Chewton Glen Hampshire – which won the UK magazine The Caterer & Hotelkeeper‘s best countryhouse hotel, on Thursday July 19th, 2018 – the owners a year ago opened The Kitchen. Brilliantly set right by the main road, to attract outside business, but a good half-mile from the main hotel, The Kitchen is a full-fledged casual-chic restaurant. It has tables inside, next to the working kitchen and glass-walled cookery school, and it also has tables outside, among lots of lavender and significant metal sculptures.

And if, of course, you cannot actually eat outside, think of The Pig hotels in southern England.  In most of these truly unforgettable hotels the restaurant is a working conservatory attached to the main building. You feel as if you are dining outside even if in fact you are in a greenhouse surrounded by potplants and fruitful vines…

 

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Luxury Hotels

And more on the luxury Grace Santorini

Breakfast breads, pool-side

And so the morning came, with the sun rising about 7.30 a.m. on Santorini.  But by that time the gal had already been hiking for half an hour. The South African personal trainer at Grace Santorini was, as planned, waiting outside room 35 at seven sharp, and off the expedition of two keen young ladies set.  Down well over 300 steps to sea level and then up Skaros natural sculpture, and round it to a dear little old church, Theoskepasti,behind – see a video below.  The programme was 20 minutes getting there, 20 minutes’ quiet meditation while there and 20 minutes back again, ready for chef Spyros Agios’ superb breakfast.

.. no-one minded merely doing fried eggs

As elsewhere here, it seems, breakfast is a composed meal (the printed menu for the day announces ‘it’s all Greek to me’) but the servers did not mind if you wanted something else.  For me, they swapped the melon smoothie of the day for a berry mix, they let me have plain yoghurt rather than a dish smothered with honey and nuts, they did not mind me skipping both a blatsaria cornflour pie filled with vegetables and a pancake filled with xinomizithra (goat or sheep) cheese and thyme honey. Instead of strapatsada, local scrambled eggs with feta, smoked mackerel and tomato, they smiled when I asked simply for fried eggs.  The breads, which came in a box with jars of apple sauce, butter, honey and syrup, were so good they could have made a meal all by themselves

Chef Spyros Agios

Nothing is a problem. Spyros Agios has been here nine years and he knows many idiosyncracies (food is a big draw on any vacation, especially when average stay is 4.5 nights). 35% of people staying here are from the USA and 23% from UK: across the board, 17% of guests are repeats but when it comes to the Villa it is way over 20%.  Oh the Villa, this is privacy personified, separated from the rest of the 21-room resort by a seven foot-high wall, but I know that the other side were two bedrooms with plunge pools, and a sizeable private infinity swimming pool.

GM George Vlachopoulos

Personally I was so happy with room 35 I thought it was just perfect – loved the seven-choice pillow menu, and the Apvitos toiletries, and having my own espresso machine, and a selection of grape dishes to nibble (‘makea wish to always harvest life’s beautiful moments!’). As I quickly found out, George Vlachopoulos is a really creative GM. Earlier, when running a hotel on Kos, he needed more guests and turned a container in the centre of Bodrum, then heavy with Russian guests, into a copy of his Kos hotel’s top suite.  What happened? Within a short time his Russian business on Kos increased enormously – here he has no need for such extreme creativity as Grace Santorini is busy-busy. He therefore thinks of such smaller happenings as having polaroids taken on arrival, to be presented to later with a note thanking you for coming.  Thanks, Georges (both George I and George II), and all your colleagues, for making this such an unforgettable hotel. AND NOW LOOK AROUND THE THEOSKEPASTI CHURCH AREA

 

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