Finding Paradise in Dahab – South Sinai

2019c dahab paradiseDahab Paradise
Blue Hole Road
Dahab, Egypt
+20-100-700-2527
http://www.dahabparadise.com
info@dahabparadise.com

A more recent addition to the hotels on the Red Sea Coast of Egypt, Dahab Paradise is a peaceful resort that offers a pleasurable holiday on many levels. Nestled between mountain and sea, it is uncomplicated in its design and landscaped in a way that takes advantage of the beauty and serenity of its natural surroundings. Dahab Paradise can easily be seen as a retreat from the world you left behind and from the touristy boardwalk of Dahab proper. Rooms are simply furnished, offering adequate comfort and amenities. Each of its second level rooms has a private terrace and ground level units include a private patio – each one of them overlooking the inviting turquoise of the lovely pool, and beyond, the immense, deep blue of the sea delights the eye.

With city sounds left in the distance, it becomes a difficult decision – shall we nap, lounge by the pool, walk along the seashore, or wander in the wadi directly accessible from the hotel? Many of the hotel guests have come to take advantage of the world-class diving and wind-surfing that make Dahab such a popular destination. From here one can arrange desert safaris, mountain treks, diving trips, sightseeing trips to Sharm el Sheik or a spiritual journey to Mt. St. Catherine’s. All are within easy reach.

If stillness and relaxation is on your menu, then stay put. For sustenance, the menu at Dahab Paradise Restaurant is tempting, varied, and most satisfying. One can select from traditional Egyptian fare or enjoy the chef’s tasty versions of more international classics. Ingredients are freshly sourced, carefully prepared, and beautifully presented. I would recommend their restaurant even if one is not a guest staying here. It is worth stopping by for lunch, not only for the food but for views of the sea, or for dinner when the grounds are illuminated in the most magical way.

Ah, delightful, soul-restoring Dahab… Just maybe this really is Paradise.

copyright Ginda Simpson – http://www.rooms-withaview.comhttp://www.gindasimpson.com

Advertisements

Nile views from the Holiday Inn Maadi

2018c holiday inn maadiHoliday Inn Cairo Maadi
29 Nile Corniche
Maadi 11431
Cairo, Egypt
+20 (2) 2526 0601
http://www.ihg.com

It is always with great anticipation that I return to Egypt. A stay at the Holiday Inn in Maadi, the city where I once lived, satisfies a longing to re-visit a home I loved. I am already familiar with this particular hotel, but it is especially nice to see the renovations that have taken place, giving it a new look while adding to its comfort and convenience. It is located on the Corniche el Nil, a busy boulevard that travels along the banks of the Nile from Cairo to Maadi, about 9 kilometers south of the city center. Once designed to be a garden oasis of villas and gardens, Maadi, in spite of many changes and its rapid growth, still offers a greener, quieter experience seemingly far from the intensity of the city itself.

Fifteen stories high, many of the hotel’s light-filled rooms face the Nile, with unobstructed views of the river. From some of the rooms, the pyramids can be seen on the clearer days. Otherwise, there is a haze that hangs over the city, which can be disappointing at times but still adds to its mystery. Cairo reveals herself slowly as the morning haze lifts, and by evening a view of the sun setting reflected in the Nile is an unforgettable sight.

Dining at the hotel at the end of a day of business meetings or sight-seeing offers a choice of fine Italian, local Egyptian or continental fare. The main restaurant, on the same floor as a terrace swimming pool, overlooks the Nile and is a pleasant place to enjoy a drink in the evening breeze while watching the feluccas sail languidly on the river, an unchanging and soul-restoring scene. And to experience this timeless moment to the fullest, simply cross the Corniche and hire a felucca for a private sunset sail.

A breakfast buffet greets you in a river-view dining room filled with sunshine. Pastries, fresh fruit and yogurts, warm continental dishes for both meat lovers and vegetarians, made-to-order omelets, and loaves of fresh bread – all making the final selection somewhat of a challenge.

But the best part of my stay is the warm, friendly, courteous manner of the staff. The Egyptian welcoming smiles always brighten my day and remind me that I have come home once again.

copyright Ginda Simpson – http://www.rooms-withaview.comhttp://www.gindasimpson.com

Crescent Hotel – the glow of welcome

2018c Crescent HotelCrescent Hotel
49-50 Cartwright Gardens
Bloomsbury London WC1H9EL
+44(0)20 7387 1515
http://www.crescenthoteloflondon.com
General.enquiries@crescenthoteloflondon.com

It is always with pleasure that I walk the final stretch of my return to the crescent-shaped Cartwright Gardens in the West End of London. Located in Bloomsbury, a very fashionable neighborhood, the Crescent Hotel is my temporary home while a guest in this vibrant city. The energy of the city and what it has to offer make me appreciate even more my approach to this quiet leafy park and the welcomed comfort of this family-run inn. The Crescent Hotel occupies a classic Georgian house overlooking the garden with its mature trees and tennis courts. It serves as an oasis in the midst of colorful shops, ethnic restaurants, and traditional pubs.

Cartwright Gardens is one of several parks in Bloomsbury, an affluent residential district designed and built up by the famed developer James Burton in the early 1800s. An intellectual and literary center in London, Bloomsbury is home to the British Museum, the largest in the United Kingdom, as well as numerous educational and publishing institutions – all within easy walking distance, as are many of the sights to be enjoyed on a first visit or a return visit.

Return visits to the Crescent Hotel are not unusual. This lovely inn has been owned and lovingly operated by the same family for three generations, now managed by the grand-daughter. The family has welcomed back more than one generation of the same family to Crescent Hotel. The 27 rooms, each uniquely decorated, are small and cozy and feel very much like home. The furnishings throughout the living area of the house reflect the tastes of the period, but with everything in place for one’s comfort by today’s standards. A generous English breakfast prepared to order is a great send-off for a day of adventure, but what I like best is coming “home” at the end of the day.

copyright Ginda Simpson   –   http://www.rooms-withaview.com   –   http://www.gindasimpson.com

The Grand Central Hotel – in the footsteps of the famous

2018c Grand Central Hotel

original watercolor by ginda simpson

Grand Central Hotel
99 Gordon Street
Glasgow GI 3SE
Scotland
+44(0)141 240 3705
http://www.grandcentralhotel.co.uk

Constructed in the age of the steam train, the Grand Central Hotel is both grand and central. Built by the Caledonian Railway Company, it officially opened on June 27, 1883, sharing a rich history with the newly established railways that were vitally necessary to both trade and a growing passion for leisure travel among the Victorians. Inspired by their 1849 Buchanan Street Station, the first in Glasgow, and envious of the St Enoch Station built by the G & SW Railway in 1876, the Caledonian Railway Company pushed for and was finally granted permission in 1879 to build a four-track bridge across the Clyde that would bring travelers and trade goods to central Glasgow. Recognizing the success of the St Enoch Hotel built over that station entrance, The Caledonian Company spared no time or expense in creating a hotel that was as grand as possible with 390 bedrooms, 13 public rooms including billiard and smoke rooms, 40 lavatories and 34 bathrooms. Designed by Sir Robert R. Anderson, one of Scotland’s leading architects, the Central Hotel, as it was named, was to become and remains to this day one of the city’s most prestigious buildings.

central station

With the growth of the city and the increasing passenger travel through the station, the building was enlarged and added to over the decades. The “modern” amenities and its location on the corner of Hope Street and Gordon Street, two of Glasgow’s main thoroughfares, were all that was needed for it to succeed. It welcomed prominent guests and witnessed over a century’s worth of history. Eventually, however, it fell into decline. But the Grand Dame of Glasgow was not to be neglected for long. Purchased by Principal Hayley Hotels, it underwent a £250k refurbishment and re-opened in 2011 to much acclaim as the newly named Grand Central Hotel.

chandelier

If I have any regrets, it is that we did not travel to Glasgow by train. It would have been an adventure to pull into the station and walk directly to the doors of the hotel, much as the Victorian ladies would have done. To my immense satisfaction, much of the architectural features and period décor remain, including the grand circular staircase with its stunning chandelier that drops from five stories above. I love the vintage feel of the public spaces and the 21st century creature comforts. It is a pleasure and a privilege to be a guest at this iconic Glasgow hotel, following in the footsteps of the famous…

copyright ginda simpson   http://www.rooms-withaview.com   http://www.gindasimpson.com

Trattoria La Palazzina – a proud heritage

Trattoria La Palazzina smTrattoria La Palazzina
Via Angelo Maria Ricci, 107
02
100 Rieti
0746-271-111
http://www.lapalazzina.it
info@lapalazzina.it
trattoriapalazzina1910@gmail.com

The Amici family have been in the business of offering refreshment to weary travelers since 1880, and so we have chosen well to stop here for lunch in the town of Rieti in the Lazio region of Italy. The trattoria’s long history began with the current owner’s great, great grandparents, the first of several generations who inherited both their energy and their vision, establishing more than one restaurant and hotel in the area. In 1880, Emilia Ricci in Amici managed this small trattoria which, at the time, was positioned close to the public baths. Her hand-written recipe book is on display today in the main dining room, along with many framed photographs that capture the long history of the family and its association with the world of home-cooked food and hospitality.

Cucina casareccia, authentic home-cooking, is what continues to draw hungry travelers and locals who appreciate the freshness and full-flavor of the cuisine. The menu offers a generous array of selections. Following an antipasto of traditional cured meats, we sample mezze maniche alla gricia. Everyone is familiar with the classic dish, spaghetti all’amatriciana, but way before tomatoes were introduced to Europe, the local shepherds prepared this dish without a tomato sauce. Using what they carried with them while they were pasturing their sheep – pasta, aged pecorino cheese, and guanciale – they made this simple dish to sustain themselves. The bacon is chunky and fried to a crisp and the resulting dish is both simple and divine.

Trattoria La Palazzina - Giuseppe Ricci sm

Giuseppe Amici – owner

The surrounding countryside inspires visions of these shepherds gathered together to enjoy una grigliata, a mixed grill of lamb, pork and poultry, accompanied by grilled garden vegetables. Again, simple fare in the hands of the right cook, who knows how to use the local herbs and spices, is elevated into an abundant feast. And feast it is. No room for dessert, but sweet memories of a sun-filled day and a visit with proud owner Giuseppe Amici at his restaurant.

copyright Ginda Simpson

http://www.rooms-withaview.com   –   http://www.menus-and-memories.com

Simplify, slow down, savor… Lunch at Ristorante Nicolao

Park Hotel Ai Cappuccini - GubbioRistorante Nicolao
Park Hotel ai Cappuccini
Via Tifernate
06024 Gubbio (PG)
39-075-9234
http://www.parkhotelaicappuccini.it
info@parkhotelaicappuccini.it

Our inner wisdom (and life coaches too) remind us of our need to simplify, slow down, savor… Sunday is the perfect day to put this into practice and lunch at Ristorante Nicolao in Gubbio offers the perfect venue for doing just that. The interior of this restaurant belonging to Park Hotel ai Cappuccini is simple in its décor, nothing to distract from the experience of dining. We allow our waiter to suggest our luncheon menu, never a regrettable decision when in Italy. We linger after our antipasto of scrambled eggs with summer truffles. We are in no hurry as we await our first course. Freshly made lasagne and a plate of handmade tagliatelle al ragù arrive filling the air with the scents of an Italian kitchen, a bouquet of tomatoes, basil, garlic and aged pecorino. Simple ingredients transformed into something sacred…

 

My granddaughter and I slow down even more and spend our time in quiet conversation. Our waiter brings us the main course which he has chosen for us – tagliata of beef, rosemary-infused medium rare slices fan out on our plate, paired with perfectly grilled zucchini and potato slices. The restaurant has filled up with couples and families savoring moments together as well as the flavorful offerings of an extensive menu.

 

It is time to choose a sweet ending from a very tempting dessert menu and our waiter leaves the difficult decision to us. A sour cherry topped cheese cake for my granddaughter and a trio of made-to-order fresh fruit sorbets for me. We have chosen wisely by having lunch here, we have slowed down and savored the chef’s cuisine. Thank you, Ristorante Nicolao, for providing all the ingredients for a perfect Sunday afternoon.

copyright Ginda Simpson – http://www.rooms-withaview.comhttp://www.menus-and-memories.com

Park Hotel ai Cappuccini – immersed in tranquility

2018c Park Hotel ai CappucciniPark Hotel ai Cappuccini
Via Tifernate
06024 Gubbio (PG)
39-075-9234
http://www.parkhotelaicappuccini.it
info@parkhotelaicappuccini.it

Perched on the side of Mount Foce in a wooded park-like setting, the building of this monastery was begun in 1631 to accommodate the Capuchin monks who had settled in this region for its splendid views and the isolation it provided for a contemplative life. It remained an active monastery until 1866, was then secularized and eventually left to deteriorate. A century later it was converted into a hotel and in 1990 was meticulously restored to become the Park Hotel ai Cappuccini. Great care was taken to preserve its original architecture and its frescoes.

First and foremost, what remain are the splendid views, the tranquility of its setting, and a chance to retreat into a world of quiet contemplation. What enhances the experience is the addition of every modern amenity, an indoor pool that opens to a sun-drenched terrace, a spa, a fitness center, an award-winning restaurant, and a caring, attentive staff. The rooms are quiet and comfortable, the furnishings throughout the hotel are sophisticated and outstanding artwork is present everywhere. The public spaces offer an eclectic mix of ancient paintings, religious art, traditional pottery and contemporary ceramics and sculptures, representing the best of the region’s artistic achievements, both past and present. If a guest were to never leave the grounds, a stay here satisfies in every way.

But within a short distance, there is much to enjoy in Gubbio, a medieval town with roots that stretch back to ancient Rome and beyond. Begin your visit with a stroll around the ancient Roman Theater, take a cable car to the Church of Sant’Ubaldo, sample the local flat bread called crescia with a wedge of pecorino, admire artisan wares in the many shops, then return home to your hotel and enjoy a fabulous meal at Ristorante Nicolao.

copyright ginda simpson – http://www.rooms-withaview.comhttp://www.gindasimpson.com