The Ned, London’s new £200m hotel, opened its doors earlier this year within the former grade 1-listed 11-storey Midland Bank headquarters, designed in 1924 by Sir Edwin ‘Ned’ Lutyens, located adjacent to the Bank of England. I’ve been walking past The Ned on my commute for the past few months and have wanted to pop in, but a recent opportunity to stay was something I leapt at the chance to experience having heard many marvellous things about the place.
Good Lord, what a year it’s been! A year later, a year older and we have learned a huge amount about blogging, eating and having amazing friends. We’ve written about so many different things that looking back on the 90 odd posts we’ve shared with you it’s too hard to mention them all so we thought we would give you another chance to check out a couple of our favourites that you might have missed the first time.
Only a couple of posts back we reviewed The Grand Hotel in Brighton, a highly acclaimed property of times gone by with a luxurious and romantic reputation spanning decades – over a century, in fact; sadly, what we found didn’t quite hit the mark.
It was with much anticipation therefore that I booked a night at The Grosvenor Hotel in central London, another much romanticised Victorian-era property, oozing French Renaissance flair. Would The Grosvenor live up to it’s reputation, or would it fall disappointingly short?
The Grand is a highly luxurious property that I was hugely excited about staying in, up against personal 5* experiences at the Fairmont Dubai, Kempinski Budapest, Ritz-Carlton in Singapore, not to mention most-excellent stays at The Beach at Bude boutique hotel and the Excellence Playa Mujeres resort in Mexico. However, The Grand is perhaps the most iconic and well known amongst it’s more modern aforementioned contemporaries, romanticised as a hallmark for service and Victorian-era suave sophistication and charm.
I was keen to see whether The Grand would live up to it’s reputation, looking to enjoy the sights and sounds of Brighton from a plush and comfortable stay along the seafront.
You may have seen my recent musings on The Bellroy wallet (more specifically the note sleeve), a recent purchase venturing into the exciting world and dizzying heights of simple and stylish money transportation. More specifically, I wanted something that wouldn’t bulk up my pockets (oh, hello sunshine…) and would still offer the practicalities of carrying all my necessary debit, credit and store cards. Saving you the effort of reading the review, although you’re SORELY missing out if you haven’t, I was pretty happy with the Bellroy purchase at £65.00, it ticked all the boxes. That’s where I thought the story ended.
Curiously, the good folks at A-Slim soon got in touch, full of gusto and confidence that their offering was every bit as good as the Bellroy wallet, but at a fraction of the cost, offering to send us one for the purposes of a review. “Yeah, we’ll just see about that” I thought rather smugly to myself, “I bet it won’t live up to the hype”.
Readers of our travel spots such as our review of the Excellence Playa Mujeres, boutique Cornwall hotel The Beach at Bude or even the Fairmont Dubai will know that we love a bit of luxury here at Two Men About Town. Stained mattress in a seedy motel we are not.
We’re big fans of business or first class when travelling – who isn’t – but the travel budget doesn’t always stretch to warrant lavish excess. And by always stretch, I’m not sure about you, but I don’t have a spare few thousand readily sat in my bank account for an upgrade. Sadly.
Never you mind though you fellow fancy-pants traveller because it’s still entirely possible to enjoy some luxury when travelling at the fraction of a cost of a business-class ticket. “How you crazy madman?” I hear you ask. Well, here are a couple of top tips…
Regular visitors to Two Men About Town will be familiar with my penchant for opulence and luxury, where my wallet allows; whether it’s the demanding inner-diva in me (probably) or just a desire to be spoilt, I love beautifully designed items, attentive service and experiencing something that’s just a little bit special. Call me Mariah.
This desire for luxury is no different when it comes to travel, where I’ve been fortunate through leisure and corporate pursuits to have stayed in some beautiful hotels around the world such as the Ritz-Carlton in Singapore, The Grand in Brighton, Kempinski in Budapest and Excellence Playa Mujeres in Mexico, all hallmarks of memorable service and pure luxury.
It’s against a tough backdrop of comparison then that the Fairmont Dubai finds itself, up against some of the finest properties in the world; but how does it stack up?
We love well-crafted luxury products here at Two Men About Town, from great fragrance all the way through to quality tailoring and pretty much everything in-between; I’ve been on the hunt for a new wallet of late and this week took delivery of a new one that I would like to share with you; enter the Bellroy Leather Note Sleeve…
London has itself a shiny new nightspot, Ember, an underground wine and cocktail bar with various rooms and intimate areas for socialising, enjoying pan-Asian small plates and drinking into the small hours, open until 2am Thursdays and Fridays. Now, it won’t be a great surprise to most of you that we love a good night out at TwoMenAboutTown, especially when checking out the very best restaurants and cocktail bars that London has to offer where we can enjoy some social shenanigans or two, so when the guys invited us down we were there in a jiffy.
Does Ember stack up as somewhere you’d want to spend an evening after a hard day in The City and would it deliver on it’s potential as a premium nightlife spot in the heart of London?
We’ve covered a fair amount of style and grooming on the blog recently, from a review of the Secret Scent Box and Philips OneBlade to top tips covering office style and personal grooming; what we haven’t covered up until this point however is the more giftable element of the market, often a minefield of mass-market brands lobbing together their standard stodgy product in fancy cardboard packaging (often combining socks or a mug?) and charging a premium for the privilege.
Nobody – repeat nobody – wants the Lynx Africa gift set from Asda; this is where the good folks at The Bluebeards Revenge save the day.
Whether you’re a young professional attending a corporate event or client visit in Milton Keynes, a cool and hip (yes, hip) socialite going out to soak up the sights and sounds of our town or perhaps something in between, at some point you are likely to want overnight accommodation. Life on the road with business isn’t much fun and crashing somewhere unfamiliar without home comforts and space isn’t much better either. Let’s be frank… that Travelodge can be a bit grim.
Sure, the hotel market in Milton Keynes covers everything from budget hotels to the dizzying heights of luxury (that’s the Holiday Inn to you and I… *eye roll*) – and yes, such a thing as Airbnb does exist – but you’re likely to end up either be very disappointed, struggle to feel at ease in somebody else’s home, contract some form of mattress-based disease or spend a small fortune on a pretty mediocre overnight stay. And you are better and more demanding than that.
You can imagine then our interest when the people at City Stay Apartments got in touch, offering us the opportunity to come and try out one of their two-bedroom executive managed apartments located in central Milton Keynes. We’d been looking for a location for our #UltimateNightIn (more on that in a future post), so we jumped at the chance to see what an executive apartment could offer us.
The term fine dining, means different things to different people. To some it conjures up the very epitome of elegance and sophistication. To others, it’s an over-priced waste of time and money. For a man of such wide and indiscriminate culinary desires as I, I fall somewhere between the two; I will gladly pay top dollar for a plate of grub, so long as it represents value, similarly there is nothing wrong with a dirty great fry-up for a couple of quid in the right situation. But when it comes to fine dining, what is value? Is it paying 5 pounds for a burger? What about dropping £100 per person on lunch, or maybe even more? The answer, in my totally non-professional and ultimately irrelevant opinion is that they all are – but in very different ways.
So after Gent and I had had several disappointing attempts to find value in any of the restaurants who had been seemingly tipped* to represent the best that Milton Keynes had to offer, we decided that everyone else was wrong and we had probably known better all along. Perhaps one day we’ll revisit the scenes of some of our biggest regrets in the area, but reviewing a place just because we know it’s over-priced yet depressingly under-whelming doesn’t seem very sporting does it?