Monday 14 October 2019

Dining at Surf & Turf.

During our recent stay at Macdonald Holyrood Hotel & Spa in Edinburgh, we dined at the hotel restaurant Surf & Turf* where the cuisine is described as ‘simple dishes, using only the finest in locally sourced meat & fish’. There is a well-rounded menu with plenty of steaks, seafood, vegetarian dishes and sharing platters on offer – I do like a menu which has something to appeal to everybody and there is a great variety to choose from here. The set evening menu is good value too, with two courses for £20 or three courses for £25.

We settled in at a spacious table on the mezzanine level of the restaurant, which gave us a great view of the bustling room. The interior design at Surf & Turf is contemporary and understated, with leather booths, marble surfaces and soft lighting which create a relaxing ambience.

We perused the extensive wine list before opting for a glass of Trebbiano Chardonnay, Terre Fort for me and a glass of Malbec, El Colectivo for my dining companion – a hearty steak deserves a rich glass of red to pair with it, after all! There is an impressive cocktail menu too, filled with classic favourites such as martini and bramble as well as champagne cocktails and more intriguing options like the black pepper and cherry Collins.

On to food and a couple of starters to share got the meal underway – a Surf & Turf charcuterie platter laden with smoked wild boar, smoked beef and smoked Scottish mussels really hit the spot.

We also ordered fresh bread accompanied by olive oil and balsamic, served with a side of olives - always a winning combination.

My dining companion chose to sample one of the steaks which Surf & Turf is renowned for, opting for the 32-day aged ribeye. All prime cut steaks are served with a choice of sauces and rubs, as well as roasted bone marrow and vine tomato. The tender beef was perfectly cooked, and the richness of the bone marrow worked well with the smoky peppercorn sauce.

The classic combination of a quality steak with chips never loses its appeal, but I was in the mood for something a little lighter, so I went for the hand-picked herb risotto with asparagus and samphire. Risotto is dish which restaurants sometimes get wrong, serving it either too stodgy or too watery – but this one was just right, with a creamy texture and plenty of fresh flavour from the herbs.

Seafood fans will be right at home dining at Surf & Turf too, with stunning catches on the menu including Scottish langoustines, salmon, lobster and halibut. Sadly, we couldn’t quite find the room for dessert on this occasion, despite the temptation of sticky toffee pudding and Tonka bean cheesecake. Instead, we rounded off the evening with a dram or two of Scotch whiskey, before retiring for the night.

Dinner at Surf & Turf was a very enjoyable experience all round, with excellent service from the helpful team, varied menus and an atmosphere which made us want to linger. Be sure to check it out next time you are in Edinburgh.

Surf & Turf 
The Macdonald Holyrood Hotel & Spa 
81 Holyrood Road
EH8 8AU 

What do you all think, do you like the sound of dinner at Surf & Turf and which of these dishes would you like to try? As always I cannot wait to hear your thoughts and thank you so much for reading this post.

Until next time,



*I was invited to sample dinner at Surf & Turf, this meal was complimentary. All opinions expressed herein are my own and honest. 

Wednesday 25 September 2019

Staying at the Macdonald Holyrood Hotel & Spa

It is always a pleasure to visit Scotland and I recently headed there for a few days – starting with a stay at Macdonald Holyrood Hotel & Spa* in Edinburgh.
The hotel is in a central location, a short walk from the tourist attractions of The Royal Mile and the charming Grassmarket area and there is a spa, swimming pool and gym which makes it even more appealing.  The immediate impression upon walking into the hotel is one of stylish grandeur - the lobby is adorned with gleaming wood and marble, beyond which lies the bar area. We had a warm welcome from the efficient reception team, who checked us in quickly and it is worth noting that  secure valet parking is available at the hotel. 

There are 156 rooms in the hotel, and we were staying on the 6th floor with views of Salisbury Crags from our balcony. We were impressed by the size of our super deluxe room, which had a spacious feel and a king-sized bed adorned with Egyptian cotton bedlinen as well as armchairs and desk area. There was a large platter of fresh fruit and mineral water awaiting us and there was also a Nespresso coffee machine, which is always good to see for a coffee addict like me! After we had unpacked, we sipped a couple of glasses of Prosecco while we took in the sweeping views of the city. 

The large bathroom was equipped with a walk-in drench shower, piles of fluffy towels and Elemis products which made a handy extra addition. There is also a range of treatments available in the hotel spa, should you feel like a little pampering during your stay. 

Downstairs, the hotel bar is the perfect setting for a couple of drinks, with a selection of fine wines, beers and cocktails on the menu including all the classics as well as some more intriguing options - if you like whiskey, try the 'Smoky Rusty Nail', a potent blend of Monkey Shoulder, Drambuie, and Talisker 10. There is a varied bar menu too if you feel like a quick bite to eat - if you are a fan of burgers try the signature Holyrood Burger, served with aioli, tomato, lettuce, gherkin and French fries

We headed out for a couple of drinks in the city and later, we got ready for our dinner reservation at Surf & Turf, the in-house restaurant (separate dining review to follow). After a leisurely meal, we enjoyed a nightcap on the balcony of our room, and I slept so well in the luxurious bed, that I really did not want to get up the next morning. A hearty hotel breakfast is always a good incentive to get out of bed however, and we enjoyed a great start to the day choosing from the vast array of food which set us up for a day of sightseeing  

There is a selection of pastries, cereal and fruit on offer as well as hot breakfast items, and you can order from the menu if you feel like something different. I was spoiled for choice, so I decided on a cooked breakfast as well as some pastries - breakfast is my favourite meal of the day, after all! 

The Surf & Turf restaurant has a stylish and contemporary feel, with a neutral colour palette, leather banquette seating and gleaming wood panels. 

After our tasty breakfast had filled us with energy, we checked out of the hotel and went to explore more of the city before we headed to our next destination. I would thoroughly recommend the Macdonald Holyrood, which has all the amenities you need for a relaxing stay. The team of staff were so helpful and I would stay there again when I am in Edinburgh. 

Macdonald Holyrood Hotel & Spa
81 Holyrood Road

Thanks to all at Macdonald Holyrood for making me so welcome. What do you think, do you like the sound of this Edinburgh hotel and have you ever visited this historic Scottish city? As always I cannot wait to hear your thoughts and thank you so much for reading this post.

Until next time,



*I was kindly invited to review Macdonald Holyrood Hotel & Spa, my stay was complimentary. 

Tuesday 13 August 2019

Cocktails, hip - hop and kebabs at Habibi ...

It has been a while since I have had the chance to post here and it feels great to be back! I have been so busy in recent months with exciting trips to Italy, New York and Alaska and my writing work which continues to be so much fun. I feel like it is high time for me to come back with something new and tell you all about the places I have loved recently. I am always keen to try out restaurants which focus on an interesting concept and I liked the sound of Habibi Bar* as soon as I heard about their intriguing theme of cocktails, kebabs and hip hop - or as they say 'Brooklyn Beats & Eastern Eats'. Sounds like a winning combination to me, so I went along to see what all the fuss is about.

Habibi is located in New Brighton just outside Liverpool, right on the coastline and the area has seen a resurgence of late, with several new restaurants and bars having opened up, making it the perfect place to head out to for dinner and drinks. A relaxed mood set me at ease on arrival, with friendly staff and as promised, old school hip hop tunes pounding from the speakers as I settled in to sip a chilled glass of rosé. The menu revolves around quite a few dishes which are ideal to share, along with their popular open kebabs which are served on tempting chargrilled flatbreads freshly made in house. 

We ordered a mix of side dishes to get the meal underway - spicy Batata harra fries and mixed Armenian pickles provided an explosion of Middle Eastern inspired tastes and the extra flatbread served with garlic yoghurt, rose harrisa and green chilli relish was equally good. I love to start a meal this way, with everyone sampling various dishes - it makes for such a convivial style of dining. 

I cannot forget to mention the grilled halloumi salad with date ketchup - I always love halloumi dishes and the slightly smoky date ketchup worked well with a sprinkle of sweet pomegranate seeds. 


It was on to main courses and the open kebabs have an interesting selection of toppings available such as ground beef, Beirut cauliflower and Persian monkfish. I went for the king prawn kebab which arrived heaped with halloumi, ras el hanout and succulent king prawns which were made even more flavoursome by the addition of a chunky pineapple salsa.

The food at Habibi looks so vibrant, this is the kind of meal which makes me want to eat on a sun-drenched terrace overlooking the sea! The hand crafted cocktails are well worthy of a mention too, with exotic flavours of ras - el - hanout, cardamom and date featuring in some of their signature recipes.

My dining companion decided on the chicken shawarma kebab, dressed with chilli paste, garlic yoghurt and lemon alongside a generous amount of chargrilled chicken. The chilli paste added a subtle kick of fire which offset the meat well and balanced nicely with the garlic yoghurt.

The open kebabs were so filling, with plenty of bold flavours - they all come served with sumac onions, herb salad and baby gem lettuce as well as your choice of topping. I liked the simple presentation of the food, which was served on silver trays with Habibi branded paper. They have just started a take away menu, which I can see will prove popular and it is worth noting that there is  a range of vegan options on the menu such as tabbouleh, parsley and lime salad and the Habibi falafel kebab. We lingered for a while after dinner to enjoy more drinks and hip hop tunes – Habibi makes a fun and different addition to the local dining scene and I am sure that it will continue to gain plenty of loyal fans. I would certainly pop in again when I'm in the area.

3 Grosvenor Rd, 
Victoria Quarter, 
CH45 2JD

What do you all think, do you like the sound of cocktails, kebabs and hip – hop? As always I cannot wait to hear your thoughts and thank you so much for reading this post!

Until next time,


*This meal was complimentary for the purposes of review. All opinions expressed herein are my own and honest. 

Sunday 17 February 2019

Staying in the city with FM Living...

A short break in the city can be so appealing, especially at this time of year following on from the madness of the holiday season. Staying in a lavish hotel always has its appeal, but sometimes finding somewhere which can offer more of a home away from home feels more relaxing. Step forward the new FM Living Apartments* in Liverpool – situated in the stunning Grade II listed Produce Exchange Building, these stylish serviced apartments are a sophisticated blend of old and new. The reception area shows off the grandeur of a bygone era, with original stained glass and wrought iron features. It is easy to envisage the building’s former purpose as the Produce Exchange, where the administration of goods imported to Liverpool took place. Later, the building became a bank – but I must admit that it really suits its new use as a serviced apartment space. 

I was greeted by the lovely FM Living General Manager Ricky and after a good catch up (we have known each other for a few years!) he whisked me up to show me the apartment which would be my home for the night. The first thing which struck me was how bright and airy the space was and all the creature comforts of a hotel were in situ – including a welcome bottle of chilled Chenin Blanc!

The apartment also featured a sleek marble bathroom with waterfall shower and mini bath products. 

The neutral décor of the space was given a splash of colour by a feature wall of striking gold and green wallpaper and the comfortable bed was bedecked by crisp white bedding.

Add to the equation the fully equipped kitchen and comfortable lounge area with television and coffee table and I was one happy guest anticipating a night in the city. 

It really is a bonus to have your own kitchen during a break like this and I was pleasantly surprised to see the kitchen was filled with every appliance (hob, fridge, toaster, kettle and even a washing machine!) and utensil you could possibly need. The addition of a hospitality tray with tea, coffee, biscuits and even take away cups was another thoughtful touch.

After a quick shower and a trip to the shops for some snacks to accompany my wine, I had a glass of wine before heading out to some of my favourite Liverpool bars. The nightlife in the city is second to none and when you stay at the FM Living apartments, the bars and restaurants of Castle Street are only a two-minute walk away.

Later, after indulging in the buzz of the city I headed back to my temporary home with a take away and watched a movie before I fell in to a restful sleep. There really is something about staying in a place like this which feels much more restful than a hotel and the next morning, I had a leisurely cup of coffee before I checked out and bid my apartment a fond farewell.

If you are looking for a perfect base to stay in Liverpool city centre, the FM Living Apartments are the ideal choice!

FM Living 

Produce Exchange Building 
8 Victoria Street 

L2 6QJ

For more information about staying at FM Living visit the website

What do you all think, do you prefer to stay in a hotel or an apartment when you go on a city break?
As always, I cannot wait to hear your thoughts and thank you so much for reading this post!

Until next time,


*I was invited to stay as a guest of FM Living Apartments, my stay was complimentary. All opinions expressed herein are my own and honest.