Hotel Icon Houston

Hotel ICON - The lobby

Hotel ICON – The lobby

The award winning Hotel ICON Houston was formerly the Union National Bank, a statuesque landmark building erected in 1911 which was converted to a hotel in 2004 and is now part of the Marriott Autograph Collection. Erected with a limestone and brick façade, it’s a palatial building that reflects the grand neoclassical architectural style of the time. Today Hotel Icon continues to maintain many of its original touches such as the Corinthian columns and decorative features of Roman Gods. And now this sense of history has also been intertwined with a modern urban Texan décor to produce a result that is the ultimate in comfort and style.

Hotel Icon is located in the business downtown area and offers fabulous access to the city’s attractions including the theatre district (the second-highest concentration of theatre seats in the country), galleries and museums, Market Square, Houston Pavilions, Discovery Green and Houston’s sports districts. It also operates a handy free shuttle service to any location within the downtown area and is the only downtown hotel on the 7.5 mile, state-of-the-art Houston METROrail light rail line

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Hudson’s – Cedar Court Grand Hotel, York

Note: Words and pictures by Foodpornnation and myself.

Cedar Court Grand - Hudson's

Hudson’s

Located within the Cedar Court Hotel & Spa, Hudson’s offers up a no-nonsense approach to bistro dining, a dining experience that is relaxed and cosy but with a touch of elegance. The Hudson’s menu serves up a contrast of interesting tit bits versus the more traditional bistro favourites. You can take the unconventional vegetarian fish & chips (£15.95), the beetroot Carpaccio (£15.95) or perhaps a more comforting grilled steak.

To get to Hudson’s you first walk through the plush warm interiors of the Cedar Court Hotel & Spa before being welcomed into the warmth of the luscious Hudson’s dining room. It was elegant and plush and oozed a relaxed ambience. Hudson’s might be bistro dining – but smartly done with a fine dining feel.

The Chef’s special spare ribs (£7.50) came with it’s own warning sign. We were warned before ordering, not once, but twice by our waiter, that these were extremely hot. And even though they were hot, a brush of the accompanying maple syrup provided some sweet relief. These got our pick because they were a delectable, fall off the bone, lick the bone clean in one fell swoop type of eating.

Hudson's Cedar Court Grand - Spicy ribs

Spicy ribs

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Ox Pasture Hall Hotel

Ox Pasture Hall Hotel - The National Park

The National Park

Ox Pasture Hall

Ox Pasture Hall

Ox Pasture Hall Hotel is a luxury country house boutique hotel which we visited for one night as part of our three-day visit to Yorkshire. Located just on the outskirts of Scarborough, it immediately charmed us with its warmth, homeliness and rustic style. The hotel is set within 17 acres of gardens and grounds in the beautiful North Yorkshire Moors National Park and was breathtakingly beautiful. With the grounds came a great sense of peace and tranquility that made for an incredibly relaxed and enjoyable stay.

Ox Pasture Hall Hotel - The Gardens

The Gardens

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Private Cabanas at The St Regis Doha

After my last visit to the St Regis Doha, the nice folk at the hotel kindly invited me back to try out one of private cabanas at St Regis Doha should I ever come through Doha again. I had a magical stay at The St Regis Doha when I was last in Doha earlier this year. The hotel’s sumptuous décor and fantastic service made for an incredible experience, not to mention our wonderful Friday brunch at the restaurant, Opal by Gordon Ramsay.

Well the opportunity for me to try the private cabana presented itself a few weeks ago when I popped through Doha again. There are ten cabanas at the hotel, each of which cater up to eight guests and are available for daily hire.

We were placed in cabana No.7 which has pride of place right on the beachfront. Note that not all the cabanas have beach views so be sure to ask for one if booking. The views from cabana No.7 were glorious. What a great spot for a bit of sunbaking!

St Regis Doha - Views of the beach from cabana 7

Views of the beach from cabana 7

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Spice Market By Jean-Georges at The W Hotel Doha

Spice Market by Jean-Georges is one of two restaurants at the W Hotel Doha by celebrity Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten (the other is Market by Jean-Georges). Best known for his three-Michelin starred flagship restaurant Jean-Georges in New York, his global restaurant empire spans across several continents and includes more than 30 restaurants. From his initial roots where he trained under Chef Paul Haeberlin at Auberge de l’Ill and Paul Bocuse, Jean-Georges went on to travel and work extensively in Asia. These experiences have provided the Asian influences that permeate much of his food and inspiration for Spice Market Doha.

The décor at Spice Market Doha is gorgeous and fuses South East Asian exoticism with European elegance to create an atmosphere that is casual, warm and sexy. This is a place where the beautiful people go and was heavy with an expatriate crowd on the Thursday night (start of the weekend in Qatar) of our visit.

We kicked off with some lentil poppadoms with a chilli tomato salsa which came out in place of bread. These were fabulous with the poppadoms being thin, crispy and nicely seasoned. The salsa was also wonderfully tasty with the right amount of kick.

Spice Market - Lentil poppadoms

Lentil poppadoms

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Ritz-Carlton Hotel Doha & La Mer Restaurant

After Dubai I headed back to Doha where I spent one night at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Doha. It’s located right on the water’s edge in the prestigious West Bay area, north of the Pearl (Doha’s version of Dubai’s Palm) and downtown Doha, and its strategic position means that the hotel offers expansive views of the City of Doha.

The décor is a blend of classic European and Arabic design, and would appeal to those who favour a hotel with a more classical, traditional feel. Particularly impressive was the lobby with its high ceilings where the opulent Grand Lobby Lounge is situated. It’s a great social meeting point where you might meet up with friends or grab a cup of tea. My deluxe room was similarly decorated in a classical style and was incredibly comfortable. The bed was kitted out with the loveliest of Egyptian cotton sheets to make for a heavenly night’s sleep.

Ritz-Carlton Doha Deluxe room

Deluxe room

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360 Bar & Lounge Dubai

360 Bar & Lounge in Dubai has carved a niche for itself by offering some of the best club music in Dubai. It was voted Top 100 clubs in the world for three years running by DJ Magazine, and earlier in 2013, 360 also scooped the Time Out Dubai Nightlife Award for ‘Best Club’.

Cocktails at 360 Lounge & Bar

Cocktails at 360 Lounge & Bar

But for me, what makes 360 Bar & Lounge special are its views. It’s split over two floors – an indoor ground level and an alfresco upper deck where there are lounge seats dotted around its circumference. Its circular perspective means that you get spectacular views from wherever you sit, which were particularly impressive during our sunset visit. The music is every changing, but for our chill out it rotated between a DJ set and a live jazz band. It was all very cool, and the magic of sunset over Jumeirah Beach and Burj Al Arab made for an incredible experience.

Sunset at 360 Lounge & Bar Dubai

Sunset at 360 Lounge & Bar

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Sofitel Dubai The Palm Resort & Spa

We next spent two nights at The Sofitel Dubai The Palm Resort & Spa, a luxury 5-star hotel located on the Palm Jumeirah Island. Decorated in a Polynesian tropical theme, The Palm Resort has lush vertical garden walls, and its low-rise perspective creates an oasis of calm and tranquility. The resort only recently opened in July 2013 and has been finished to the highest order.

Green Sofitel Dubai The Palm Resort - Garden wall

Garden wall


The Pools

We were spoilt for choice when it came time to chillaxing by the pool. The Sofitel Dubai Palm has five outdoor pools gracefully positioned throughout the resort. For a bit more of a lively atmosphere, we decided to perch ourselves at the spectacular main pool. And even though this was the main pool, it was so well laid out and spacious that at no time did we feel like we were crushed under the weight of other guests. The resort’s four other outdoor pools offered a slightly more secluded experience, perfect for those seeking some peace and quiet. In addition, there was a private beach with wonderful views of The Palm and Burj Al Arab, and water recreational activities could be organised through the resort.

Sofitel Dubai The Palm - Main pool

Main pool

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