sleeping

Travel journal: Iran

So.. I went to Iran. First of all: put this one on your travel bucket list. I've never felt more safe, I've never felt more welcome. Okay, now that's done. Here's my short recap, more detailled blogs about specific places will follow!

Revise your fear
Everyone has an opinion about Iran. When I told people I was planning a trip there I heard so many fearful reactions. And till this day I just don't understand why. When you are respectful of the local manners and skip the problem areas near the borders, you are good to go. Really, this country is warm and heartfelt. 

1500 kilometers
The country is huge, so there's a lot to see and explore. I only had 10 days, so I had to choose wisely. The trip became a nice mixture of city and villages, architecture and nature. The best tip I could give you is to rent a car. This saves you a lot of time and makes it easier to travel to remote spots. We rented a Peugeot 405 for 34€ a day and drove around 1500 kilometers the entire trip. Gas cost almost nothing, so don't worry about that. Driving is an adventure itself, but for the thrill seekers that have driven around the world this won't be hard. 

Itinerary 
After two nights in Tehran we drove the long haul to Taft, nearby Yazd. There we stayed for two nights in the wonderful Nartitee Ecolodge (blog will follow). After exploring Yazd, we continued offroad and parked our car in the desert village Varzaneh, staying at Varzaneh traditional guesthouse. With sand in our shoes, hair and car we drove to the city of Esfehan for one night, which was more than enough in my opinion. Last stop: Kashan. There we combined some much needed down time with bazaar shopping, sipping coffee and cultural sights. Luckily we could drop the car off at Tehran airport so we didn't have to drive into the mayhem that is Tehran again. 

Must know
As I said, rent a car! Other handy tips: make sure you have enough cash, you can't get money in Iran only with a local card. Learn some Farsi, English is not very well spread outside the cities. Bring something from your home country that you can give when you are welcomed in someone's home. Candy, cookies, anything. Iranians have a killer sweet tooth. Coffee lover? There wasn't always coffee at the guesthouses, so bring some yourself. There's always free tea and hot water! 

The Fezzzzjunnn
For women: buy some clothing you feel comfortable in that follow the regulations. I had three outfits that were a hit. First of all my cotton black headscarf, it's breathable and heavy enough so it doesn't fall from your head all day. A long over the knee loose grey dress with black leggings. A sort of vest slash coat that locally would be called a manteau. You can button it or not, depending on the rest of your outfit. And what I also wore a lot was a long black blazer with pearl buttons. It stopped my butt from showing off and also still had some flair, so I didn't look like a complete potato sack.  

I'll soon write a blog about the ecolodges and homestaying in Iran! 

Sleepover: The Dean Dublin

When in Dublin, do as the Irish: drink Guinness, enjoy your afternoon in the pub and spend the night at Dean's. Or rather; The Dean hotel in the city center. This super duper fun hotel is easy going and a great stay for your fun weekend away in the Irish capital. Continue reading for the full report:

First impressions
It was my first time in the land of rugby, Saint Patrick and U2. Just a short plane ride away and you're hopping on the quick bus (757) to Harcourt street. With luck, you're ready for the first round of beers within an hour of landing. The Dean is conveniently situated near the city center and important public transport stops. The hotel has this easy friendly cool vibe, like that friends that gets along with everyone. We could check into our superoom instantly. The room, #209 on the second floor, offers a large bed, two comfy yellow chairs and fun stuff everywhere. What I especially liked was the record player and the selection of vinyls in the room. Hello classics! With the tunes of Fleetwood Mac we got ready for the rest of the day. 

Food & drinks
The Irish are serious about their food and drinks. We ordered hungry and concluded quickly that the portions are a tad bigger than we're used to at home. But who's complaining with halloumi fries and nachos? Pub food? Check! After all that food we went for some shopping cardio. Something that's easy to do in Dublin. Then suddenly it was almost time for our reservation at Sophie's; the rooftop bar slash restaurant that's on the 5th floor of the same building at Dean's. The restaurant had great views of the city by night and was packed with gorgeous girls all dressed up and men who were ready to sweep them of their feet. The food was good, the service ditto but a little slow. It was very busy though!

Home stay at Dean's
Some hotel rooms you never really experience, but in our case we made the most of it. Breakfast in bed? Check! Roomservice and Netflix? Check! Drinking from the mini bar? Check! Waterfall showers whilst dancing to some records? Check! Jumping on the bed? Check! We felt freaking relaxed after two nights at Dean's. It felt like a sleepover at your BFF's house. Well, his name is Dean..! Just don't forget earplugs your new friends is a noisey fella (it's located in the heart of the nightclub area).

I would definitely recommend staying here as it is located very central and has an easy vibe. We'll be back Dean!

Sleepover: Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam

How to compete with other luxury hotels in the higher segment? Little details, that count for a lot. The Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam understands this very well. Here's my full recap on my sleepover at the Waldorf: 

First impressions
The centre of Amsterdam isn't my favorite place to drive. It's busy, bikes pop up out of nowhere and parking next to the canals is just plain scary (I'm so afraid I'll drive in the water). Luckily, Waldorf Astoria offers valet parking. You only have to worry about your handbag and the rest is taken care off. The check-in ritual is one of the better ones I've experienced. We even got to chose the fragrance for the turndown, something light and sweet to fall asleep in. A hot towel, some drinks and the biggest smiles behind the desk. And the dresses of the ladies...! Hello Jan Taminiau! Gorgeous waving dresses with the map of Amsterdam's city centre. Little details, again.  

The room
There's no place like home, right? But, a hotel can feel homely as well. There are in total 93 luxury rooms in the hotel, with the biggest being as big as any pied-à-terre in a cool, international city. The room I had (#131) was very spatial. I really enjoyed the desk because I had to do a lot of work. The bathroom was filled with great essentials and things you sometimes forget to pack. Oh, did I mention we walked in on a bottle of cooled Champagne, freshly baked Madeleines and a chocolate key to invite us to the vault? Walking around the room with soft slippers in the morning was just the cherry on top of a great sleep and stay. Breakfast was served from 7 until 10.30 and offered a large range of typical breakfast dishes. I went for a lot of coffee and the vegetable omelet, together with my delivered newspaper the perfect way to start a hectic day. 

Great history
The hotel can be found on the Herengracht, as part of the UNESCO site - views of the canals. The six canal houses that make up the Waldorf Astoria have great history. It's legacy can be found all over the hotel. Little signs, the black and white strips across the walls (reminder that you walk into the next canal house), the fresh tulips in the room and old details all tell us the story of life in the 17th and 18th century. It took a few years to completely renovate the property, but it was well worth it. This year the Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam celebrates it's 4th birthday, but is already a household name. It's not without reason the hotel is on all the top lists concerning interior, service, food & beverages and spa. 

A lot to do
If you're in Amsterdam for leisure, make sure to spend some time in the hotel. There's a lot to do! You can book appointments for the Guerlain Spa, relax at the pool, enjoy tasty cocktails at the Vault bar and have dinner at the two Michelin star restaurant "Librije's Zusje". The restaurant is quite popular, so if it's full you can always book a table at the Goldfinch Brasserie. This restaurant shares the same kitchen as Librije's Zusje, so you are in for a treat! 

The verdict
My stay at the Waldorf Astoria was in one word: wonderful. The entire staff is easy to talk to and are helping you however they can to make your stay the best. The concierge tipped us for some great places to go in the neighborhood. I'm normally quite picky where to eat, but he understood our criteria perfectly. It's not the cheapest place in town, so I won't be staying here every time. But for a special occasion I'll be ready to check in!

This blogpost is written in partnership with Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam. The opinion in this blog is mine and represents my true sleepover experience. If you have questions about this sleepover I'll be happy to answer them!  

Sleepover: Hotel V Amsterdam

Countless times I've visited Hotel V at Nes for a breakfast meeting, afternoon drink or as a second living room whenever I'm in the capital city. That's one of the reasons why I was very curious about their newer hotel in Amsterdam Oost. This one opened late 2016 and is as beautiful as its older sibling in the city centre. I booked a night in one of the suites, here's my full report. 

First impressions
You can only make one first impression. Quickly after I entered the parking garage I saw a sign with my name on it. The simplicity of such a sign instantly makes you feel welcome. The lobby of the hotel feels warm and cosy and were full of beautiful peacock chairs (that I now need to have). I was early and couldn't go into my room, but I had a complete city to explore so that didn't matter at all. I left my luggage got some info on how to go from the hotel to my next meeting the quickest and left. 

Sound and safe
When I returned the personnel remembered me, which I think is very lovely. The suite is located on the second floor, all the way in the back (a corner room). Hallways to the rooms are guests only and only accessible with your room card, the key only works if your room is in that exact hallway. What makes sure there's less traffic on the floors (nice and quiet) and makes you feel safe. 

Pass out blissfully
The room. Oh men! Wonderful! Everything breathes relaxation and designed simplicity. The suite offered a large double bed, a relax area, working area and a nice walkin shower. Enough space to set up your stuff if you're working, to enjoy some well deserved me-time or to pass out blissfully. 

Misty mornings
We slept with the curtains open and woke up bright and early with a misty view of Amsterdam. Time for breakfast! Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. And hotel breakfasts are even better. The breakfast is included in the hotel fee and The Lobby, the restaurant and bar area of Hotel V. Cravings were understood. Fresh coffee, and a pick of one savory item and one sweet. I opted for the eggs Florentine and French toast. A great way to kickstart your day. 

Sleepover gone great
We had arranged an late checkout the night before, so we had all the time in the world to walk around. Spot all the beautiful details in the hotel and spoil ourselves with our temporary home. Well rested and our bellies full of deliciousness we exited the hotel with smiling faces. A great sleepover. Of course I took loads of photos, have a look!

5 places you want to sleep in Marrakech

If you're searching for that mystical Arabian nights feel combined with luxurious settings, you're at right mindset travelling to Marrakech. I've had the pleasure visiting the pink Moroccan city twice.  

Dar Attajmil
A home away from home. No other cliche better describes this riad as a second home. One with pink walls, larger than life banana trees and the sweetest hosts you can imagine. We followed a cooking class with Fatima, enjoyed delicious home made dishes and slept like babies. Dar Attajmil is located in the old town (medina). It's a hidden gem, closed off behind a gigantic door. 

Scarabeo Camp
Just a short drive from Marrakech lays the Agafay desert. It's not a sandy place like the Sahara, but a stone desert. Here, in the middle of nowhere, you can go glamping. Scarabeo Camp has a wide range of tents. Your own tent, the dining area, a chill out tent, a lunch spot with a view and several spots where you can relax and enjoy the quietness. 

El Fenn
If there's one place in Marrakech that's absolute interior & exterior goals it's El Fenn. Purple velour couches, cacti, hand woven lounge beds and tiles everywhere. This place is a treat for all senses. I've had lunch and dinner here and both experiences were great. 

Beldi Country Club
A short 15 minutes outside Marrakech and you're at the gates of BELDI Country Club. This place is massive. You can walk around the courtyard, garden, swimming pool, patio and glass house for hours without getting bored. Don't leave without getting your typical Moroccan breakfast! 

Les Deux Tours
You can't go wrong with a private pool they must have thought at Les Deux Tours. So there we were, undecided about which pool to enjoy. The chef at the restaurant is quite known locally and serves a wide range of flavours - from Africa to Thailand.