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30 Nov 2016

Marrakshi Mood - White Lace on Brown Skin

Euriental | luxury travel & style | Naudic lace dress, BCBG sandals in Marrakech

I love white lace in all forms. I especially love white lace against brown skin. I have no idea how I acquired this (slight) tan, I actively attempt to stay out of the sun for the most part, but sit me under it even for 10 minutes and I'm 'brown as a nut', as Sherlock would say (any other Benedict Cumberbatch fans here?). While not something I would wear in the medina for fear of a) offending locals and b) attracting unwanted attention, out in the desert on the manicured grounds of this private resort, this Naudic dress was the perfect loose-fitting and breathable piece - maximum comfort, minimum fuss.


Euriental | luxury travel & style | Naudic lace dress, BCBG sandals in Marrakech

Euriental | luxury travel & style | Naudic lace dress, BCBG sandals in Marrakech
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Naudic lace dress, BCBG sandals in Marrakech
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Naudic lace dress, BCBG sandals in Marrakech

Wearing: c/o Naudic dress and BCBG sandals.

25 Nov 2016

Les 5 Djellabas, Morocco

Euriental | luxury travel & style | Les 5 Djellabas, Marrakech, Morocco

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LES 5 DJELLABAS 

A luxury boutique hotel set in the Marrakech 
Palmeraie, only a 25 minute drive from the medina.

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I felt in need of a break. I know, it sounds ridiculous, all we seem to do is travel, we're always off somewhere, each trip is just another holiday in a new paradise, right? We're always on 'breaks'. Though I don't dispute the fact that there is nothing to complain about, the thing is this: the act of travelling across so many different time zones on a regular basis is a little exhausting. Not for Jarv, no, Jarv is a robot. He can run on 4 hours sleep no problem, he's non-stop. Me on the other hand - my body doesn't handle flying or jetlag very well. I feel nauseated, my stomach hurts, I get reflux, I'm often fighting to keep my eyes open by 6pm or wide awake at 5am. Not to mention the fact that we tend to keep our days packed from the moment we wake until bedtime.

So, yes, I was looking forward to a break - a chance to visit a new city and not be constantly on the move. An opportunity to just enjoy the hotel, to have nothing on the agenda but to just ... be. And boy, did we find the perfect place for that.

Euriental | luxury travel & style | Les 5 Djellabas, Marrakech, Morocco
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Les 5 Djellabas, Marrakech, Morocco
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Les 5 Djellabas, Marrakech, Morocco
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Les 5 Djellabas, Marrakech, Morocco
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Les 5 Djellabas, Marrakech, Morocco
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Les 5 Djellabas, Marrakech, Morocco

Les 5 Djellabas is sprawled out over a beautiful one hectare garden; ten African eco-lodges, a mixture of contemporary and traditional design, sat amongst cacti, palms, olive and banana trees. The suite interiors feel charmingly rustic and keep surprisingly cool inside. Don't worry - there's heating should you need it. From the moment of arrival, it felt like we were being welcomed to a friend's luxurious home. In fact, should you want to rent the entire place out for a wedding/party/large group stay, this is an option. 

Euriental | luxury travel & style | Les 5 Djellabas, Marrakech, Morocco
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Les 5 Djellabas, Marrakech, Morocco
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Les 5 Djellabas, Marrakech, Morocco
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Les 5 Djellabas, Marrakech, Morocco
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Les 5 Djellabas, Marrakech, Morocco

Having arrived at noon, we decided to have lunch at the little table outside our room shortly afterwards. The meal was terrific. Pan-seared squid, slow-cooked lamb shank, fresh salad with generously large chunks of tuna. We devoured every last bite and made a beeline for the pool.

Euriental | luxury travel & style | Les 5 Djellabas, Marrakech, Morocco
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Les 5 Djellabas, Marrakech, Morocco
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Les 5 Djellabas, Marrakech, Morocco
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Les 5 Djellabas, Marrakech, Morocco
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Les 5 Djellabas, Marrakech, Morocco
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Les 5 Djellabas, Marrakech, Morocco
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Les 5 Djellabas, Marrakech, Morocco

Inside the poolside lounge sits a phone and a menu. Pick up the phone, order drinks, snacks, whatever you like, and have it appear within mere minutes. Drinks are very reasonably priced and pack a decent punch!

Euriental | luxury travel & style | Les 5 Djellabas, Marrakech, Morocco
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Les 5 Djellabas, Marrakech, Morocco
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Les 5 Djellabas, Marrakech, Morocco

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LE FOUNDOUK

Located deep in the medina, serving 
traditional Moroccan dishes alongside 
a modern international menu.

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We had dinner plans in the medina that evening. Although not my first time in Africa (I used to live in Nigeria), this was the first time in my adult life that I was visiting and I was looking forward to experiencing the heart of Marrakech, where all the action takes place. Our driver dropped us off just within the walls of the old city. An elderly gentleman wearing a fez and traditional robes stood patiently waiting. He nodded, smiled and wordlessly began leading us towards the restaurant.

The medina at night is fascinating - all manner of smells, sights, sounds. Butchers lean out their windows, serving raw meat to customers on the streets, entire animals sometimes hanging in the doorway. Stray kittens sit in every corner; motorbikes whizz past when you least expect them, appearing out of nowhere; people shout out to one another in the streets. I spent the entire walk grinning to myself - it reminded me of China. Except maybe even a little crazier. About halfway through our walk, our 'guide' picked up a lantern that sat against a wall and used it to lead us through the dark, narrow and uneven streets. We arrived at an inconspicuous door.

Euriental | luxury travel & style | Le Foundouk Marrakech, Morocco

Le Foundouk is a well established restaurant nestled amongst the souks of Marrakech. It was a tad too cold to sit outside on the terrace, instead we were seated on the first floor looking down at the ground level. Our dinner began with a small ritual of hand washing; fragrant orange flower water poured from a teapot into open palms.

Service was astoundingly fast, our food served in ample portions. Jarv started with cold aubergine paupiettes, me with Moroccan Harira soup (a tasty concoction consisting of lentils, lamb, tomato, chickpeas and various spices). Jarv feasted on berber lamb tagine for his main and I dug into a pigeon pastilla - be warned, those things are tasty but heavy. A mixture of sweet and savoury, the pastry is very sweet, flaky and thick. I couldn't finish it (not even close, I'm ashamed to say). 

Euriental | luxury travel & style | Le Foundouk Marrakech, Morocco
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Le Foundouk Marrakech, Morocco

Fruit for dessert hit the spot - light, refreshing and not overly sweet. For Jarv, a cold, spicy, poached pear and for me, fresh sliced oranges in an orange blossom sauce. 

Euriental | luxury travel & style | Le Foundouk Marrakech, Morocco

The owner, Frederic, made a brief appearance to introduce himself and ensure we were enjoying our meal (side note: he is also the man behind Les 5 Djellabas). Left to our own devices, we finished the meal with mint tea and basked in the relaxed yet sophisticated ambience. We'd arrived at around 8.30pm when it was surprisingly quite empty - by the time we left, at around 10pm, just about every table spread over two floors was occupied. I guess people eat a lot later than I expected in Marrakech, almost as late as the Spanish do.

Euriental | luxury travel & style | Le Foundouk Marrakech, Morocco

I awoke fairly early the next morning, eager to soak in as much of Les 5 Djellabas before we made our way to the next riad at noon. We decided to take breakfast in the restaurant. Only one other guest was present, though I'd caught glimpses of others dining outside their rooms. Yet instead of a cold and empty atmosphere, I felt so comfortably at home; almost as though I could have wandered over in a dressing gown and slippers and nobody would have batted an eye.

Euriental | luxury travel & style | Les 5 Djellabas, Marrakech, Morocco
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Les 5 Djellabas, Marrakech, Morocco
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Les 5 Djellabas, Marrakech, Morocco
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Les 5 Djellabas, Marrakech, Morocco
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Les 5 Djellabas, Marrakech, Morocco
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Les 5 Djellabas, Marrakech, Morocco
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Les 5 Djellabas, Marrakech, Morocco
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Les 5 Djellabas, Marrakech, Morocco
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Les 5 Djellabas, Marrakech, Morocco
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Les 5 Djellabas, Marrakech, Morocco
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Les 5 Djellabas, Marrakech, Morocco

I was loathe to leave. Throughout the duration of our short stay, service had been attentive, polite and well-meaning. The grounds had been utterly peaceful the entire time, and whilst we did occasionally cross paths with various other guests, it felt as though we had free run of the place. Wifi is available in rooms and at the pool, though is it rather spotty. But when you're in the middle of the desert in surroundings like these, who needs to be on their laptop anyway? Leave the work for when you get home and make the most of it. Come here to immerse yourself in a truly relaxing experience, from sweet beginning to  reluctant end.

Thanks to Les 5 Djellabas for sponsoring the stay and for dinner at Le Foundouk. All words and opinions are my own.

20 Nov 2016

Sydney: Extended Version

Euriental | luxury travel & style | Sydney Australia, view from Shangri-La

As our plane began its descent into one of my favourite cities in the world, we were treated to a magnificent view of the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge. I squirmed excitedly in my seat, unable to contain myself as I grinned over at Jarv. Arriving in the evening, we had decided to spend our first night at the Shangri-La. Although we would soon move onto our favourite hotel for the rest of our stay, Jarv thought it worth checking out a different one. I'm glad we did - we were treated to the most beautiful sunrise view (see above). Yet it didn't quite hold a candle to the Park Hyatt. More on that in a minute.

This is probably going to be the longest post I've written to date - I apologise, bear with me, but hopefully there's a tip or two in here for you if Sydney is coming up in your travels anytime soon!


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PADDINGTON

A pretty, inviting neighbourhood chock full of 
independent boutiques, cafes and restaurants.
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Day one: an afternoon in Paddington. An achingly charming part of Sydney about a ten minute drive from the CBD. Have a quick peek at the Paddington Reservoir, which once provided drinking water to parts of Sydney and has since been transformed into a sunken garden. Then wander down towards the boutiques and pretty terraced houses of William street. Finish up with a coffee or lunch at any of the restaurants and cafes (all with al fresco dining) at the Five Ways intersection. 

We sat and sipped on flat whites for a half hour; birds chirping, good-natured dogs sitting dutifully by their owners, the sun warm on our skin. We then made our way towards Rushcutters Bay Park where we came across a pelican casually hanging out and fishing in the bay. It mustn't have been particularly unusual because no-one else seemed to give a damn, but to us it was a bewildering and amazing sight. I mean, I've never seen a pelican up close in 'the wild' before!

Euriental | luxury travel & style | Sydney Australia, Paddington Reservoir Gardens
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Sydney Australia, Paddington
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Sydney Australia, Rushcutters Bay Park


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PARK HYATT SYDNEY

Situated in a prime spot in The Rocks with 
unbeatable views of the Opera House.
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Still in my top 3 favourite hotels of all time. I had been looking forward to returning to the Park Hyatt for almost a year and - happily - we'd been given the Opera Deluxe Room we were hoping for. The view was even more outstanding than the last time. The room featured two terraces, a bed I dream of one day sleeping in at home, a jaw-dropping view of the Opera House and tastefully warm and grown up decor. 

Euriental | luxury travel & style | Sydney Australia, Park Hyatt Opera Deluxe Room
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Sydney Australia, Park Hyatt Opera Deluxe Room
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Sydney Australia, Park Hyatt Opera Deluxe Room
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Sydney Australia, Park Hyatt Opera Deluxe Room
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Sydney Australia, Park Hyatt Opera Deluxe Room
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Sydney Australia, Park Hyatt Opera Deluxe Room
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Sydney Australia, Park Hyatt Opera Deluxe Room

Breakfast is taken in the Dining Room every morning with yet another gorgeous view of the Opera House and a selection of buffet options as well as some fantastic a la carte dishes (try the brioche French toast with caramelised banana and whipped chocolate cream, or the grilled sourdough with avocado, ricotta,  tomato and aged balsamic...or the smoked salmon fillet with poached organic egg, asparagus and hollandaise! Hell, try it all!).

Euriental | luxury travel & style | Sydney Australia, Park Hyatt
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Sydney Australia, Park Hyatt
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Sydney Australia, Park Hyatt
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Sydney Australia, Park Hyatt
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Sydney Australia, Park Hyatt Opera Deluxe Room
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Sydney Australia, Park Hyatt Opera Deluxe Room

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MR WONG

Modern Cantonese food in an 
industrial, warehouse setting.
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When we asked our concierge to call and check how busy it was looking at Mr. Wong (word on the street was that there was a queue and waiting list every single night), he hung up with a "good news, there's about a hour's wait time". That was good news. Well, we figured, let's find out if it's worth the hype. We turned up, left our names and a number with the booker at the door and headed down a lift in the back to speakeasy bar Palmer & Co. An hour and a bit later, we were called upstairs and seated.

I'll start with the cons and end on a high note - the dim sum was unimpressive at best, I've had better at any number of Chinese restaurants in London (Hakkasan being my favourite, Royal China another). The scallops, while nice, tasted mostly of the sauce, which completely overpowered their natural sweetness. On the other hand, the ham hock came in hearty, chunky cubes and tasted incredible. The crab fried rice was possibly the best fried rice I've ever eaten and the Moreton bay bugs were sensational, cooked in the lightest and crispiest of batters. Overall, it's pretty overpriced but there were a few dishes that blew me away, so all in all - a decent evening out.

Euriental | luxury travel & style | Sydney Australia, Mr. Wong
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Sydney Australia, Mr. Wong


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THE BLUE MOUNTAINS

A name derived from the blue, misty hue 
that appears to linger over the range.
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We hired a car and drove the two and a half hours up to the Blue Mountains for the afternoon. Katoomba is one of the towns bordering the Blue Mountains and the one we were recommended to drive through. We stopped for coffees, made our way to Echo Point for a great view of the Three Sisters rock formation (third photo down), then climbed back in the car and drove towards Scenic World.

Scenic World is renowned for providing some of the best views and experiences in the Blue Mountains, from amazing panoramic views over the valleys to walks deep in the rainforest, past waterfalls, native birds and time-worn trees. Yes, it's touristy, but who cares? - it's fun, the sights are beautiful and it's worth a visit. My favourite part was stumbling across a Lyrebird during our walk through the ancient rainforest after taking the world's steepest passenger railway. Have you ever seen the David Attenborough clip of this incredible animal? It can imitate an incredible variety of sounds, mimicking other birds in the forest, camera shutters, car alarms, chainsaws...even crying babies and barking dogs. We watched in awe for about five minutes before it tired of entertaining us and wandered off into the surrounding shrubbery.

Euriental | luxury travel & style | The Blue Mountains, Australia
Euriental | luxury travel & style | The Blue Mountains, Australia
Euriental | luxury travel & style | The Three Sisters, Blue Mountains, Australia
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Scenic World, Blue Mountains, Australia
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Scenic World, Blue Mountains, Australia


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ESTER

Eclectic, modern dishes served in a slick, 
concrete-walled space with an open kitchen.
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We met up with some friends for dinner one evening at hot spot restaurant Ester in the up and coming neighbourhood of Chippendale. With its arched concrete frames, friendly waitstaff, wonderful food and a cave-like yet cosy feel to the space, it's no surprise Ester is doing so well. Expect generous portions well suited for sharing and filling yet sophisticated dishes. Roasted oysters, blood sausage, squid in ink dumplings, roast corn, goat ribs, steak, head of cauliflower with almonds and mint ... all accompanied by a bottle of orange wine from Spain. For dessert - an incredible tres leches dessert and burnt pav with elderflower and passionfruit. Take me back, please. We stayed well past closing time and the staff were kind enough to leave us to our conversation until we looked around and realised they were just about ready to go home themselves.

Euriental | luxury travel & style | Ester, Sydney, Australia
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Ester, Sydney, Australia
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Ester, Sydney, Australia
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Ester, Sydney, Australia
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Ester, Sydney, Australia
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Ester, Sydney, Australia

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MANLY

Beautiful beaches, eateries and walking trails only 
15 minute ferry ride from Sydney Harbour.
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Manly is one of my favourite day trips to make when visiting Sydney. Part of the fun is taking the ferry over from Sydney Harbour; there are two options, the 15 minute Manly fast ferry or the 30 minute one. Whichever you opt for, you'll be treated to amazing views of the Opera House, city skyline and neighbouring islands on the way over. Once there, we usually head straight for coffee (my fav is the Manly Coffee Guild) and maybe lunch. For a quick bite, try Pure Wholefoods - lots of organic, free-range, healthy options and big portions. If you're looking for some gorgeous seafood at a full service restaurant, Garfish is worth a visit. Then walk it all off for an hour or so with a stroll up to Shelly Beach and back.

Euriental | luxury travel & style | Manly Coffee Guild, Sydney, Australia
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Manly Pure Wholefoods, Sydney, Australia
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Manly, Pure Wholefoods, Sydney, Australia
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Shelly Beach, Manly, Sydney, Australia
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Manly, Sydney, Australia
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Manly, Sydney, Australia

We ended the afternoon with the slow ferry back and an hour in the rooftop hot tub at the Park Hyatt.

Euriental | luxury travel & style | Sydney, Australia
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Sydney Opera House, Australia
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Sydney Opera House, Australia
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Sydney Australia, Park Hyatt


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DINNER & THE SYMPHONY

An amazing deal on dinner thanks to 
Lime & Tonic, plus a night at the Opera House.
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Lime & Tonic is basically like Groupon - big discounts on select events, restaurants and activities around the city. Jarv took a look before we flew over and was surprised to see the Park Hyatt offering a three course dinner for a steal - perfect, we thought. We'll do that before our evening at the Opera House. The food was served impressively fast, each course bursting with colour, flavour and texture.

The Opera House is as impressive inside as out. Watching Beethoven's 2nd and 9th symphonies performed flawlessly by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra (conducted by Vladimir Ashkenazy) in one of the most recognisable and distinctive architectural marvels of the 20th century made for a special evening. If you have the time and an event that interests you is on, I would highly recommend going.

Euriental | luxury travel & style | Park Hyatt Sydney, Australia
Euriental | luxury travel & style | dinner at Park Hyatt, Sydney, Australia
Euriental | luxury travel & style | dinner at Park Hyatt, Sydney, Australia
Euriental | luxury travel & style | dinner at Park Hyatt, Sydney, Australia
Euriental | luxury travel & style | dinner at Park Hyatt, Sydney, Australia
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Park Hyatt, Sydney, Australia
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Sydney Opera House, Australia
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Sydney Australia, Park Hyatt

I'm as enamoured with this city as ever.