Gone are the days when a serviced apartment close to the CBD meant a boring two room box, with a kitchenette and a laundry. Instead, think SMEG fridges, graffiti walls, panoramic city views, sprawling lounge areas, full size kitchens and pretty swanky ensuites.
ADGE Boutique Apartment Hotel has changed the way we think about short and long term stays in Sydney. Located in Surry Hills, ADGE is located on Riley Street, prime real estate just a few blocks down from Oxford Street, and only one block from Crown Street. Basically, it is almost smack bang in the middle of all the action, which means it’s quiet when you want some shut eye, but on the doorstep of literally dozens of top notch eateries, bars and shops. Add in the fact that it’s walking distance from the CBD, and we’re calling it the best of both worlds.
Sure, the rainbow coloured carpet and bold lighting might not be for everyone, but this is Surry Hills, where it’s ok to be a little bit different. And if they may be having fun with their decor, but the team at ADGE are very serious about service. Guests are greeted in the big, warehouse-esque lobby that sits in the bottom of the low rise, seven storey building. Bright pops of colour splash across the walls in a fun, cartoon-character inspired graffiti mural that sets the vibe of this fun, chilled out venue, but it’s all business as soon as check in commences. There are complimentary bottles of water for each guest, in room tablet and phone devices for making calls, and looking up local things to do, and a welcome cheese plate on arrival. Nighttime dessert platters are an extra special touch. Whether it’s help with the air conditioning, ice buckets or restaurant recommendations, the staff are quick to help. There’s even the option of pre-ordered groceries so you can arrive to a stocked fridge. Although, with several supermarkets just down the street, it’s easy to pop out and stock up yourself.
ADGE really is designed to be all about convenience, without sacrificing creature comforts. There are 12 suites, each with two bedrooms – but there are a few different configurations to choose from. The Loft Penthouse is a big, split level space with city views, another penthouse that’s single level and looks out to Sydney’s Eastern suburbs, and then standard suite options on the lower and upper floors. Some of the apartments have huge, L-shaped balconies that wrap around the space, so you can sit outside and watch the sun set over the city skyline, nibbling on your cheese plate, perhaps with a glass of bubbles or red wine. Every suite easily accommodates four people, and that’s with plenty of room to move in the open plan living and dining areas.
The hotel itself is attached to its sister property, the Cambridge Hotel, but has its own separate entrance, lobby and lifts. Staff will encourage guests to check out the award winning Italian restaurant that’s also a part of the building – Baccomatto Osterio is beloved by locals for its sophisticated pasta dishes and excellent small dishes. Other award winning venues just a hop, skip and a jump from ADGE include The Winery, which has a fairy light-strewn beer garden, fine dining restaurant and fabulous champagne bar, Chur Burger for some of Sydney’s best buns, Bills for famous ricotta pancakes and scrambled eggs, and Chin Chin, the brand new outpost of Melbourne’s famous Asian restaurant.
Whether you want a night in, or a quiet spot to rest your head after exploring the delights of Surry Hills, ADGE will ensure you’re well looked after.
Lisa was the guest of ADGE Boutique Apartment Hotel
The post Unique Sleeps: ADGE Boutique Apartment Hotel, Sydney appeared first on Out There Starts Here.
Source: Out There Starts Here | 20 Jan 2018 | 6:52 pmLow rate, no booking fee, 17,000 hotels, 30,000 destinations.
We wouldn’t blame you for thinking Vancouver was the Capital of British Columbia. But that’s not the case. To see the Capital, you need to hop on a ferry, boat, plane, sea plane, or even helicopter and head to Victoria. Perched on the south of Vancouver Island, Victoria is the quiet cousin to the big metropolis that is Vancouver, but boy does it pack a punch when it comes to things to do. Aside from being home to the political heart of British Columbia, Victoria is the perfect base for a Canadian interlude – whether you want to eat and drink, sightsee, go whale watching or stop and smell the flowers. Here are our top 10 things to do in 48 hours in Victoria:
1. Have fish and chips
Yes, fish and chips. Victoria is a city with a stunning harbour, and some of the locals love it so much, they live right on it. Fisherman’s Wharf is one of the most famous “house boat suburbs” in Victoria, where locals have made their homes, complete with gardens, front porches, even white picket fences. Aside from strolling down the “streets” checking out the houses, the wharf is a great spot for fish and chips – Barbs Place is a locals favourite, having opened in 1984 and appeared in plenty of TV shows and films. Save room for some soft serve from Jackson’s Ice Cream.
2. Take a taxi
This will hands down be the coolest taxi you’ll ever take. The yellow and black H20 water taxis of Victoria Harbour are famous worldwide, not just because they’re so cute, but because they’re a quick, convenient way to get around the city. There are thirteen different stops on this reasonably priced, hop-on-hop-off service. It’s one of the best ways to see the harbour.
3. Get a birds eye view
The taxi is fun and convenient, but hands down the best way to see the harbour is from above. Harbour Air Seaplanes have been flying in and out of Victoria since 1982. Hop on just around the corner from Vancouver International Airport and enjoy the quick, 35 minute flight over islands and waterways before making a splash right in the heart of Victoria Harbour. You’ll land and pull up in front of the Empress Hotel – now that’s how to make an entrance!
4. Bright lights, little city
This may be a super small city, but when darkness falls, one of the prettiest sights are the Parliament buildings lit up in lights. There are exactly 3,333 bulbs that outline the facades – it’s a perfect postcard moment.
5. Feast on the local bounty
If the gardens are any measure, it’s no surprise that Vancouver Island offers plenty of fertile soil, perfect for fresh produce. Local Chef Cliff Leir is leading the charge in showcasing the best the island has to offer – his award winning Agrius Restaurant is right in the heart of downtown Victoria but everything on your plate comes straight from the sea, the fields or the local veggie patch. There’s even an entire wall of the kitchen full of pickling jars – carrots, cucumbers, asparagus, beans. Vancouver Island has some of the mildest climates in Canada, making it ideal for raising livestock. Agrius serves Metchosin lamb from the island’s south.
6. Meet the locals
We’re not talking about the people (ok they’re pretty cool too), we’re talking about the wet and wild creatures that call this part of the world home. Victoria is one of the top places in the world to set out to see Orcas. Whale watching vessels depart several times a day from this quiet harbour, heading out to skirt the San Juan Islands, where pods of not just Orcas, but Humpbacks, Minke whales, Gray whales, seals of many different shapes and sizes and marine birds call the waters home. You can choose to cruise out on zodiacs or larger boats where marine biologists will tell you all about the locals and their quirks. Remember to bring a jacket for this one!
7. Take tea
The time honoured tradition of afternoon tea is taken very seriously at The Fairmont Empress. Victoria’s famous chateau-style hotel right on the harbour has been serving tea since 1908. After a stunning makeover, the hotel is the definition of historic chic, and the Lobby Lounge does old world glamour to a tee. Sip the signature Empress blend tea while nibbling on your tea stand of crustless sandwiches, macarons and scones looking straight out the large windows to the harbour.
8. Drink gin
While you’re at the Fairmont Empress, stop by the Q Bar, where very modern interpretations of Queen Victoria’s portrait look down at guests as they sip the hotel’s signature tipple. The Empress 1908 gin is made by Victoria Distillers, and gets its distinct purple colouring from a butterfly pea blossom, changing to a blush pink when tonic water or citrus is added to it. It’s the most exciting gin and tonic you’ll try and is already flying off the shelves all over the country. Pick up a bottle at the Distillery in Sidney, 30km north of the city.
9. Take a tour
We’re not talking about your average sightseeing tour. If you’re a hungry traveller, sign up for Off the Eaten Track food tours and check out the city’s coolest venues like the Victoria Public Market, where the old Hudson’s Bay Company’s department store has been turned into small eateries and delis, including Victoria’s very first meat pie shop.
10. Stop and smell the flowers
Vancouver Island is home to The Butchart Gardens, 22 hectares of flower gardens, manicured lawns, ancient trees, and water features that have risen from the dust of the Butchart family cement factory. Jennie Butchart began transforming her husband’s factory into this garden oasis back in the early 1900s, now nearly a million people visit each year, particularly between March and October to see the flowers bloom. The gardens are just a 25 minute drive from Victoria, but for a spectacular arrival, hop on a Prince of Wales whale watching tour that concludes at the gardens, with the boat docking right at the garden entrance. It’s not just the gardens that are in full bloom – you’ll find hanging flower baskets on almost every corner of Victoria, there are in fact more than 900 baskets around the city.
Lisa was the guest of Destination Canada
Source: Out There Starts Here | 29 Dec 2017 | 3:55 amLow rate, no booking fee, 17,000 hotels, 30,000 destinations.
How often are you walking along and a complete stranger offers to take your dog for a walk? How often does that stranger then offer to pop to the kitchen and see what the chef can whip up for your fur baby before bedtime? How often do you find yourself standing in the corridor of a five star hotel while your dog has demanded and is receiving a big belly rub from the head of guest services? At Pier One Sydney Harbour, Marriott Autograph Collection, it seems to be an hourly occurrence. In the short space of 24 hours, between checking in and checking out, our fur baby has been treated like a rock star. The staff know her name, they know what she looks like, they know her food allergies, her walk-time, the way she cries if she gets too excited and the way she leans up against your legs if she’s after a pat. One of just a few pet friendly properties in Sydney, Pier One doesn’t just make your pet feel welcome, it feels like they’d be happy for the dog to move right in and find their new forever home.
For Australians the concept of taking your furry friend to a hotel is still somewhat wild. In North America and Asia it is fairly commonplace to have dogs, cats, even parrots, hanging out in the lobby. At Pier One, our fluffy cavoodle Sheba is a big novelty. She gets extra pats on the way through the hotel, freshly filled water at the doggie bowl next to the bar, and no one bats an eye lid when she hops up on the daybeds of the deck, people watching while we have a sundowner and dinner at The Kerrigan. Pier One is uniquely positioned to cater for animals – the ground floor opens right up onto the wharf down at Walsh Bay and indeed guests with animals are put in these rooms, which have sliding doors opening up onto small terraces leading directly to the boardwalk. Morning and evening dog walks are a breeze.
Don’t tell the hotel, but Sheba preferred to split her time between the bed, and her very own bed, a plush nautical-themed cushion bed. She loved her cute water and food bowl, and had to negotiate with us not to eat the entire doggie mini bar, a mix of treats, toys and tidbits provided by Sydney’s go to high end dog store Dogue.
We didn’t feel comfortable going to breakfast without our fur baby so ate fruit on the deck, but watching the sun rise and all the boats starting to potter around the harbour made it a morning worth remembering.
Lisa was the guest of Pier One Sydney Harbour, Marriott Autograph Collection
Source: Out There Starts Here | 18 Dec 2017 | 6:48 pmLow rate, no booking fee, 17,000 hotels, 30,000 destinations.
You’ve heard the tagline but can you believe it? You bet. Here are 15 tips and tricks that explain exactly why the original Anaheim resort really is the Happiest Place on Earth.
1. No buses
There are no buses necessary to get from a to b, or b to c, or anywhere else inside Disneyland Resort. The two parks, Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park are less than 100 metres apart. Yes, there’s a monorail, a working steam train, trams, canoes, submarines, even horse-drawn carriages which can be used to get around, but the entire resort is manageable on foot. That means less waiting in lines and consulting of schedules.
2. No planes
Ok there’s one plane, and it’s not a short flight, but one long haul stint, and you’re disembarking in Los Angeles. In no time you’ll be on the Disneyland Express bus that takes you from the front door of Tom Bradley airport to the front door of your Disneyland hotel in under an hour. From there, as per above, you don’t need to hop in a car again for the duration of your trip.
3. You don’t actually have to queue
Scared off by the idea of spending hours waiting in line for a ride? Don’t be. Disneyland has long offered FASTPASS, where you can skip the queue at an allotted time, but now there’s an even easier system. Instead of having to go to the ride to pick up your FASTPASS, you can do everything on your phone, in the Disneyland Resort App. Download the app, link your ticket, purchase a MaxPass (just $10USD for the entire day) and choose rides based on selected time frames. Turn up at the allocated time frame, scan your MaxPass barcode, ride, then choose your next MaxPass. The MaxPass can only be purchased once you are physically inside the park each day, which means unlike other online fast pass systems, you don’t need to pre-book rides days in advance.
4. It’s the little details that matter
It’s been a long day of magic moments, adrenalin rushes and sugar highs. The fireworks are the icing on the cake. At this time of year, it’s the special “Believe… In Holiday Magic” fireworks show. The final fireworks erupt into the night sky, lighting up thousands of happy faces. But then, it starts to snow. Yes, in California, at a comfortable 25 degrees Celsius. And wait, the snow seems to be Christmas spice-scented. The foamy snow floats through the sky to land on upturned faces just as the Christmas carols crescendo. Now this is the magic of Disneyland.
5. Christmas cheer
As if Disneyland didn’t already have enough happiness to go around, at Christmas time everyone ups the ante. There are Christmas decorations everywhere – we’re talking giant Christmas baubles, 10 foot wide snow flakes, a festive food festival (eggnog macarons anyone?!), dozens of Christmas trees, several santas, and even roaming carolers who draw the big crowds to their merry acapella performances. We challenge you not to sing “Here comes Santa Claus under your breath” all day! And then there’s the takeover of the famous Haunted House – each year the ride is transformed into the Nightmare Before Christmas. Expect lines for this quirky, slightly creepy Christmas tale.
6. Celebrity spotting
Located just 45 minutes from the heart of Los Angeles, Disneyland is the theme park of choice for American celebrities – even Australian ones. Rebel Wilson is a dedicated fan, spending her Thanksgiving at the park, so keep your eyes open. Don’t be surprised if you’re caught out thinking there’s a Hollywood heavyweight from crowds of people – it might just be Mickey making a photo appearance!
Deep fried, sugared dough in stick form – what more could you ask for? Perfect for a sugar hit on the go, Churros is one of the signature Disneyland treats. You’ll find them at carts all over both parks, filling the air with a mouth watering aroma.
8. New rides
Even though this is the original Disneyland, opened by Walt Disney back in 1955, the parks certainly don’t rest on their laurels. Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! is the newest ride, bringing Marvel to California Adventure Park in a very big way. Big news is next year’s transformation of the park’s Paradise Pier into Pixar Pier, with four new neighbourhoods inspired by Pixar characters and the reimagining of the iconic Californian Screamin’ into the Incredicoaster. Pixar Pier opens mid next year, but from April Pixar Fest will take place across the resort, with parades, new fireworks shows and light projections.
9. Aussies can play longer for less
A 3-5 day visit is the bare minimum for soaking up the magic, and four days is the real sweet spot. For a limited time only, Aussies and Kiwis get access to an exclusive 4 day Disneyland Resort Park Hopper ticket for the price of a 2 day Park Hopper ticket on Expedia. For this offer, tickets need to be purchased before the 31st March 2018, and must be redeemed before the 31st December 2018. See here for more details.
10. Real magic
In a park with 30,000 different cast members, with more than 100 different attractions, there are some easy ways to cut corners, but that’s a big no no at Disneyland. It will constantly catch you by surprise – for instance, in Disneyland Park’s Royal Theatre, there are daily performances of shows such as Tangled and the Fantasy Faire, and along with a crew of singers, dancers and crowd cajolers, there’s also a pianist who performs all of the musical accompaniment for the entire show. Similarly, over at the Hyperion Theatre inside California Adventure Park, the Frozen show singers belt their hearts out and will have you singing along to Let It Go live.
11. Extra Magic Hour
Happiness is having one of the parks to yourself. There is something incredibly special about standing in front of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle all by yourself, or being the first to descend into the dark world of Pirates of the Caribbean before the diners fill the Blue Bayou restaurant at the ride’s entrance. If you’re staying on site at one of the three Disney resorts, Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, Paradise Pier Hotel and Disneyland Hotel, you’ll get an extra hour inside one of the parks before opening hours in a designated theme park each day of your stay. Magic Mornings gives anyone with a 3 day or more Disneyland Resort ticket entrance to Disneyland Park for one Magic Morning.
12. 24 hour magic
No, we’re not talking about staying inside the theme parks all day and night, although they do have pretty long opening hours, (Disneyland is often open until midnight). There are three hotels on site, so you can visit the park in the day and rest your head with that little bit of Disney magic at night.
13. Character dining
The notion of character dining can be confusing for Aussies, but once you’re watching your kids giving Goofy a big hug or seeing them share a cuddle with Chip ‘n’ Dale, you will wonder what you’ve been missing all these years. There are dedicated Character meet and greet zones in the park, but if you want to guarantee some time with Mickey, Minnie and the gang, without having to queue, character dining is the way to go. The hotels and restaurants in the parks offer dining for breakfast and lunch – always accompanied by a very decadent buffet. Waffles, pancakes, omelettes, cake, dessert pizza, normal pizza, ice cream sundae, roast meats, salads – you name it, it’s at the buffet.
14. Big kids and little kids
Disneyland is not just for the kids. From tiny bubs to great-grandparents, the resort has something for every age. Take the tweens to burn off some energy on Davy Crockett’s Explorer canoes (you may need to explain who Davy Crockett is but that’s ok), watch the little ones’ faces light up when Mickey’s Magic Map comes to life and wait for the screams of delight as even the adults get drenched on the Grizzly River Run.
15. Light up the night
Disneyland’s famous fireworks and light shows are just the beginning of the nighttime entertainment. Downtown Disney’s shopping and dining precinct is a bustling promenade that’s busy from well before official park opening to well after dark. Dinner, drinks, live music, galleries, shops, Lego play stations, giant ESPN TV screens – there’s something for everyone.
Lisa was the guest of Disneyland Resorts
The post 15 reasons why Disneyland really is the Happiest Place on Earth appeared first on Out There Starts Here.
Source: Out There Starts Here | 2 Dec 2017 | 6:07 pmLow rate, no booking fee, 17,000 hotels, 30,000 destinations.
The clock has just struck 8am. The crowds surge forwards, the turnstiles spinning as fast as they can. Opening hour at Disneyland Resort just outside of Los Angeles is almost a competitive sport – except it would be the calmest competitive sport in history. There’s no pushing and shoving, just people peering past Mickey Mouse ears, Darth Vader hats and Winnie the Pooh headbands, waiting to get through. But once they’re in, they’re off. Tweens head straight for Tomorrowland and the dark tunnels of Space Mountain, families make a beeline for Sleeping Beauty’s Castle and the classic rides inside Fantasyland, diehard fans go direct to the Haunted Mansion in New Orleans Square.
Map in hand, I have my head down walking up Main Street USA, trying to work out which camp I fall into, when I abruptly come to another crowd of people. A quick look at the map confirms that no, there’s no ride, or show, and I can’t see a secret Mickey, but there must be a hundred people orderly lining the sidewalk, looping back on themselves to stand right outside one of the old worde shoppes that line Main Street USA, as Walt Disney named his strip of Middle America nostalgia. Here you’ll find souvenir stores, Starbucks and sweet shops. It’s outside a sweet shop that the line has formed. Candy Palace, whose glass windows I’d pressed my nose up against the night before, mouth watering as crew members carefully drizzled treacle on candied apples and painted noses on Mickey Mouse-shaped popcakes.
So what are they all waiting for? That’s the question I ask the crewmember standing outside. She’s got a handful of wristbands. Maybe I’ve found Disney’s secret night club! That kicks off at 8am? Hmm I don’t think so.
“Candy canes,” comes the chirpy response. “I’m sorry, come again?” I say. “Our special handmade candy canes, they’re a Christmas candy!”. I got that. But why on earth are they lining up for candy canes when the store doesn’t open for an hour and prime rides are operating without lines?!
This is my first experience of that “Only at Disney” moment. It turns out every year hundreds of people do in fact line up to buy hand-crafted candy canes. The signature sweet dates back to 1968, made only at Christmas time, and sold at select stores on certain days. I’ve hit day one, which explains the near hysteria of some of the crowd.
Made from scratch, the candy canes take several days to make, and only around 100 are released each day. Hence the wristbands. No wristband, no candy cane. And we’re not talking a bit sized treat you can stuff in an envelope for the school teacher. This 18 inch jumbo cane is almost a full size walking cane! Ok I’m exaggerating, but the sugar rush is hitting me, and I haven’t even made it through the handle of my cane. Just kidding, I missed out on a wristband and didn’t get a candy cane. But I console myself by stocking up on peanut brittle, pralines and all manner of other sweets that didn’t need a line to purchase.
Other treats I discover are “Disneyland” must dos:
- Dole Whip. Pineapple soft serve, sold at the Enchanted Tiki Hut. Similar to a pineapple sherbet sorbet. Perfect Enchanted Tiki Room show treat. Not exclusive to Disney, but long associated with the theme parks since the Dole Food Company sponsored a stand in the park
- Giant turkey legs. There have long been rumours about whether the turkey legs are real, (third party sources say the bone is fake, or that they’re actually emu legs) but these are male tom turkey legs, which gives them their size. You can now buy these at other theme parks, but the Turkey bone is a Disney original
- Cone-shaped food. It suddenly makes sense when you’re in Cars Land, where everything is car themed, and you realise the Americans are talking about Witches Hats. It’s still odd, but deep-fried churros, or mac n cheese, or Mexican Chili Cone Queso served in a cone can never be bad
- Rose gold Minnie Mouse ears: so popular they sell out within days of coming back in stock and are now security locked to the stand, these sparkly ears are hot property thanks to several celebrity postings on Instagram. If you see them in either park, or a Downtown Disney store, buy them immediately
- Matterhorn macaron: not a macaron as we Aussies know it, but a ball of desiccated coconut, sugar and egg whites shaped like the mighty Matterhorn Mountain at the edge of Fantasy Land in Disneyland Park. Find the mini-mountain at Main Street’s Jolly Holiday Café
Keen to find out what Disneyland is really like for yourself? For a limited time only, Aussies and Kiwis get access to an exclusive 4 day Disneyland Resort Park Hopper ticket for the price of a 2 day Park Hopper ticket on Expedia. For this offer, tickets need to be purchased before the 31st March 2018, and must be redeemed before the 31st December 2018. See here for more details.
Lisa was the guest of Disneyland Resort
Source: Out There Starts Here | 2 Dec 2017 | 1:34 amLow rate, no booking fee, 17,000 hotels, 30,000 destinations.
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