The Last time I was in London by Guest Blogger – Tess Van der Staal

Asking me to write something about London is a tricky thing to do. Kudos to my friends at hidden little gems for having the bravery to do so. Why tricky? Simple: Once I start writing about London I’ll keep on writing… So this time I set myself a goal that would stop me from typing too much. At the same time this goal will work out for you as well. You won’t find yourself stressing around London with a never-ending-to-do-list from Tess.

The goal: only three suggestions covering three different kind of activities.

Somewhere to eat.
Somewhere to shop.
Something cultural.

Spreading, no overkill. That’s the trick. Here goes.

Somewhere to eat

The last time I was in London, my timing was perfect. When I jumped of the Eurostar, it started to snow down on London. Beautiful! Plus in that same weekend history was written: the guys of What the Dickens cooked and served breakfast at The Reliance for the first time! And I was there, oh happy days… (also worth a mention in the history books: it was there I ate my first ever Eggs Benedict. Again, oh happy days!).

People living in London and loving East might already know the breakfasts of What the Dickens. They have a stall at Chatsworth Road market, where they serve their food for the soul. Serving breakfast at The Reliance was a whole new experiment, for both the cooks and premises. An experiment which turned out really well and now is a weekly fact. Every Saturday morning you can head down to The Reliance on Old street to enjoy an old fashioned, filling and very-tasty-indeed breakfast. I’m telling you – it’s what you need on a Saturday morning that follows a Friday night. Imagine yourself surrounded by good company, eating beautiful food in a lovely pub. What more do you need? I really enjoyed it and if I were in London right now I’d know where I’d be on a Saturday morning.

Breakfasts at The Reliance are served Saturdays from 10.30am until 2pm and will cost you no more than £8.50. The Reliance can be found on 336 Old Street, London, EC1V 9DR. For those in need of proper and life saving food on Sunday mornings… Chatsworth Road market is every Sunday and you’ll find What the Dickens between 11am and 4pm.

For menu and more info on What the Dickens:

Somewhere to shop

During that same last London-trip I bumped into Luna and Curious on Calvert Avenue whilst strolling around East – one of my favourite things to do when I’m in London. And being a girl with a curious mind I thought this shop would just be my thing. And it was…At Luna and Curious you’ll find all things things you need. When it comes to quirky things with a capital Q. Mermaid tail sleeping bags, peacock false eyelashes, winking tights, slightly cruel but mouthwatering jewelry, cool ceramics. When you’ve searched high and low for that one special present and you actually gave up all hope… Uhuh, you’ll find it here!

Apart from their shop on Calvert Avenue they also have opened a new shop in the Sanderson Hotel in Central London, where they showcase “carefully selected British design”. I still don’t quite get why I hadn’t noticed Luna and Curious before… But now that they’re in my system I will always find my way back.

Here is where you can find them:
Luna and Curious 24-26 Calvert Avenue, E2 7JP
Luna and Curious at Sanderson 50 Berners Street, W1T 3NG

Something cultural

A friend once advised me to visit Sir Soane’s House. I did. You should. Sir John Soane was an architect famous for his designs of the Bank of England and Dulwich Picture
House, just to name a few. During his life he collected many curiosities, books, sketches and much more. While his house started to look more and more like a museum he decided that, after his death, his house would actually become a museum for architect students and other interested folks. And a good job he did in doing so!
The house on 13 Lincoln’s Inn Field has something magical to it; it almost feels like Mr. Soane only just left the building for a Sunday afternoon stroll. Or to get a copy of the Evening Standard. Mmmmm no, he probably wouldn’t read The Evening Standard… Right? If you aren’t particularly interested in architecture, not to worry. Go for all things beautiful and for an afternoon spend in a very peculiar house. Just sniff around. You’ll come out inspired. And of course don’t forget to check out that sarcophagus…. A sarcophagus in a house, can you imagine? Ha!

Having been to been to this museum once, I’d love to go back for another visit. Especially on a Tuesday evening. A 1st Tuesday evening of the month to be precise. That’s when candlelit tours are held! Just to add a little more magic to it. Oh, bliss. (Meanwhile she’s clapping her hands with excitement… Did mentioning that one detail just reduce the magic for you she wonders?) These Candlelit tours are between 6 and 9pm. Take my advice: go early. As in REAL EARLY. Queues develop at 4pm already and you cannot book in advance. When your author once happily came skipping onto Lincoln’s Inn Field at 6ish, there was no way she could get in anymore. So as I said: take my advice, go early. And be overwhelmed!

Sir Soane’s House
13 Lincoln’s Inn Field
Nearest tube station: Holborn

Note that there won’t be a candlelit tour in June. Next candlelit tours will be July 3rd 2012.

If you would like to read more from Tess and her adventures you can follow here Ifiwereinlondonrightnow or like Tess, if you too fancy doing a guest blog post get in contact with us

Feel free to add your London gems to this list on our Facebook App. Or if you simply want us to send the occasion gem your way like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

Miami’s hidden little gems

If you’re in Miami for a few days here’s a list of things to do and places to eat, drink & stay to help you get the best out of your time there.

Things to do
Saunter along the sands of South Beach
South Beach is stereotypical Miami. You can watch the…

Ride the Palm Beach bike trail
Soak up the sights via pedal power…

Visit Little Havana for a taste of Cuba
Calle Ocho (SW 8th Street) is full of restaurants, shops…

Check out the Art Deco District
There are over 700 buildings from the 30’s and… 

Seafood Restaurants
Garcia’s Seafood Grill
Nothing beats sitting in the open air looking over the…

Area 31
This is quality seafood with a view. Eat on the patio of…

A Great Bar
The Townhouse
An incredible outdoor rooftop bar with…

A Unique Hotel
The Mondrian
Staying here is like falling into Alice’s rabbit hole—the playful…

It’s a hard city to leave!

Remember, If you want an easy way to ask your friends for tips try our Facebook App.

Or if you simply want us to send the occasion gem your way like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

Auckland’s hidden little gems

The iconic Sky Tower is a MUST  SEE in Auckland and obviously not a hidden gem. The tower is part of the SKYCITY Auckland casino complex and is the tallest man-made structure in New Zealand offering breathtaking 360-degree views for up to 80 kilometres in every direction. Sip a coffee at the Sky Lounge, enjoy a seafood feast at The Observatory or dine at Orbit – Auckland’s only revolving restaurant.

The Māoris, an Eastern Polynesian people, bring a real distinction to New Zealand culture. Te Hana Te Ao Marama is one of the biggest Maori Centres and is only  few miles drive away from Auckland and includes the contemporary world of Te Hana’s Marae facilities, the ancient realm of Te Hana’s 17th Century Maori Village and the Model Pa site.

If you’re in Auckland between August and March  watching the comings and goings of a busy gannet colony is a brilliant family activity.  The views from the colony are amazing. Muriwai Beach extends 60 kilometres to the north – a line of black sand between the thundering surf and the sand hills. Far bellow, enthusiastic surfers look like seals on the large ocean swells.

Gannet colony at dusk

Besides sailing and golf, if you are into sports,why not try tandem skydiving! There are several companies willing to pump up your adrenaline level. And after seeing Auckland from above round of the day with some famous New Zealand lamb washed down with some classic Hawkes Bay vino!

Auckland’s hidden little gems:

Visitor tips on Auckland

Where to take kids in Auckland

Top 10 free things to do in Auckland


Skydiving in Auckland

Golf clubs in Auckland

Food and drinks:

Best cocktails in Auckland

Cool cafes in Auckland

TOP 3 lamb places in Auckland

Recommended restaurants in Auckland

Valentine’s Day in London

London can be pretty amazing on Valentine’s Day.. Here are our recommendations for the best that London has to offer in terms of the perfect setting for your romantic date.

Shoreditch House, overlooking Foster’s sensational Gherkin, the nearby ‘City’, and Shoreditch itself, boasts a rooftop pool, garden bar, ‘lazy lawn’ and BBQ on its mind-blowing Roof Top, whilst below are numerous bars, a two-lane bowling alley, sauna and steam rooms, gym, Cowshed Spa and a range of dining options. It comes highly recommended by Rebeccah Rumph as a No fail date place in London.

Still stuck for ideas? How about a date at The Ledbury? It opened in 2005, with Brett Graham as head chef supported by a young energetic team. The restaurant has gained many accolades including the much coveted second Michelin Star. The most talked about dish is the flame grilled mackerel fish that will just melt in your mouth. Book this, you are guaranteed brownie points.

Recommended gems & tips to do in London:

Inexpensive romantic things to do in London:  Rollerblading along the Southbank, coffee at Southwark Cathedral, ending with a bite to eat in Borough Market. Great suggestions from Alex Moore.

Single and ready to mingle: Want to escape the canoodling couples? Why not head down to Brick Lane and experience its clubs, bars, cabaret nights, casinos and amazing nightlife. Brick Lane is a true East London gem.

Catch a movie: register with secret cinema and you and your loved one or friends could be watching a great classic, chick flick or comedy this Tuesday.

For more great gems in London browse our app – hidden little gems.

Sanya’s hidden little gems

Hainan Island is often called the Hawaii of China. Besides its sun, sand and sea, Hainan is proving very attractive because it has ushered in a visa-free entry policy that lets travelers register trips just one day ahead of their arrival.

Sanya lies at the southern tip of Hainan Island. It is a very popular destination among foreign tourists for its stunning beaches and convenient location.

Visit Dadonghai and the beaches in Asian Dragon Bay. Tianya Haijiao is a must with its unique scenery! Tianya Haijiao (located 24 km to the west of Sanya) means “Edges of the heaven, corners of the sea” –  Enormous standing caesious rocks measuring over 10m high and 60m long.
Nanshan Temple is also an enormous Sanya landmark. It is the biggest Buddhist preaching site established since the founding of the People’s Republic of China. Tips: The vegetarian food in Nanshan Temple is famous – including many nutritious dishes made of wild fungus, konjak, and bean products – try them!
And after a big trip around Sanya you will definitely deserve a few hours at the Nantian Hot Spring.

Here are the TOP attractions in Sanya.

Food & drinks:
Best seafood in Sanya
Brilliant restaurants
Bars & clubs

Golf courses
Water sports

Recommended hotels

Discover Abu Dhabi’s hidden little gems

Abu Dhabi

Enjoy the turquoise waters of the Persian Gulf, spectacular beaches and sand dunes combined with distinctive Arabian hospitality – that’s what Abu Dhabi offers and plenty more.

Things to do: there’s a lot more on offer than skyscrapers & desert – 9 great things to do.
Restaurants: great international & local cuisine – here’s a list of the best restaurants.
Golf: world-class championship golf courses abound.
Shisha: don’t miss one of the region’s great traditions – great spots for shisha.
Tours & Operators: from desert safaris, to double decker buses to yellow speed boats – check out these tours & operators.