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30 April 2015

Hotel Clover 33 Jalan Sultan: Perfect for a Weekend Staycation

Travel and staying in a hotel, with all the little perks that come with that, is always fun, right? But sometimes you just can't give up the additional time needed to jet off somewhere or maybe you just don't want to for once. So how about a staycation instead? 

We've done this before in Singapore and really enjoyed it so that's exactly what we did again recently, this time at the Hotel Clover 33 Jalan Sultan in Kampong Glam. They also have other hotels in Singapore located at North Bridge Road, Hongkong Street and Chinatown. For our stay we decided to go for a Saturday night and made a proper weekend of it with me even taking the Saturday off work! This also meant we got to play tourists and explore a little more of the Kampong Glam area during the day, check out my post of what we got up to here!


Exterior of Hotel Clover 33 Jalan Sultan
Image courtesy of Hotel Clover 33 Jalan Sultan

Anyway back to the hotel and our stay. The hotel, which opened in July 2014, is housed in a row of seventeen two-storey conserved shophouses. I realised that this was the first time I'd ever stayed in a shophouse, not really that surprising perhaps but still quite exciting. A boutique style hotel, it only has eighty-eight rooms and once you are inside has a really calming feel to it despite being so central. The hotel has a decor that draws inspiration from the heritage of South-East Asia and the whole place has a 'serene urban sanctuary' feel. There is plenty of greenery throughout to give you a feel of being close to nature, some of the rooms have gardens and in one part of the hotel, although covered, the corridor is semi open so you can hear the birds singing, see the greenery and feel the warm tropical heat.

There are six different categories of room on offer depending on your budget and needs and for our stay we were in a 'Clover Plush Queen' room. At Hotel Clover 33 Jalan Sultan as well as the regular rooms they also offer some unique room choices. Hotel Clover 33 Jalan Sultan is all about the urban sanctuary idea and being able to get close to nature with guests being able to opt to stay in one of their Garden rooms complete with a patio and funky vertical gardens. There are also a number of suites suitable for families or for that very special occasion. Some of these are split over two levels, complete with a private living area. You really get the feel of being in a shophouse in these with the upper level taking you right up to the roof. Their most exclusive suites, the 'Garden Suites' are even more special. There are three of these available to guests, one is Indonesian inspired, one with a Peranakan feel and the third with a Thai inspired theme, all of which feature a private garden. The Thai one is also extra special as it is the only one to feature a built-in hydro bath too.

Back to our room though which was a perfect base for a one night stay such as ours. All rooms come equipped with a well stocked complimentary mini bar, coffee and tea making facilities, unlimited Internet access (perfect for all your social media updates or to catch up on work emails if you really must) and local calls, as well as an en-suite bathroom with shower. We did have to call down to reception to get some more tea (we'd drunk all that was left in the room) but this was not a problem and the tea was quickly delivered to us. Our room was tastefully decorated, the common theme throughout the whole of the hotel interior is a dark brown colour palette with warm lighting. The hotel design is very contemporary and complimented with tasteful and historic touches. Our room was quite cosy and compact size wise but didn't scrimp on design. The en-suite was a good size and offered all the complimentary toiletries you would typically expect to find. We did notice that because the shower door only opened inwards into the shower cubicle this meant that due to the positioning of the shower in the bathroom there was only a narrow space to get through to enter and exit the shower, but this was only a very minor detail. The bathroom walls (as you can see in the photo below) are glass, again giving a modern contemporary edge to the room, but there is a frosted part large enough to protect your modesty!

Most importantly though the bed was very comfortable, a good size and with pillows that you could get totally lost in and we got a very good and peaceful night's sleep. After our busy day of walking, exploring the neighbourhood and eating we were more than ready for a relaxed evening and our bed. We woke up refreshed the next morning and ready for breakfast (served until 10.30am) in the hotel restaurant. The breakfast consisting of some Asian inspired dishes plus meats, cheese, fruit, yogurt and so on. 


Interior of a Plush Queen room, similar to ours
Image courtesy of Hotel Clover 33 Jalan Sultan

Interior of a room, similar to ours
Image courtesy of Hotel Clover 33 Jalan Sultan

Interior of an en-suite bathroom, similar to ours (though the toilet and sink were the opposite way around in our room)
Image courtesy of Hotel Clover 33 Jalan Sultan

If you run out of things to do during your stay or it's just too hot (or wet) to venture far, the hotel offers its guests access to a small gym with all the basic equipment you would expect to find. We didn't make use of this, I'm not a gym person, but this can be accessed 24 hours a day so no excuses if you are! There is also a cosy lounge for guests who want a little time to themselves. The hotel has a restaurant on site (as I mentioned above) with room service also available until 10pm daily. We didn't dine their in the evening (opting to head out to the nearby Kampong Glam area instead for food) but did go there for our breakfast the next morning as I mentioned.

All too soon though it was time to head back to reality once more and home. We had a great time at Hotel Clover 33 Jalan Sultan. It's the perfect spot for your own staycation or as a base if you are visiting Singapore or indeed a business traveller. 

Exclusive Reader Offer!

Now you've read about mine how do you fancy a stay of your own at Hotel Clover 33 Jalan Sultan and even better at a discounted rate? If you do then you can currently enjoy a discounted stay of 30% off the Best Available Rates until 31 December 2015, Terms and Conditions apply.

Terms: 30% discount off Best Available Rates, only through direct booking via sherrine@hotelclover.com - please quote 'expatadventures'  (Terms & Conditions Apply) 


Duration: Valid until 31 December 2015


What are you waiting for?!?



Hotel Clover 
33 Jalan Sultan
#01-01
Singapore 198965

Contact
Tel: +65 6830 7888
Fax: +65 6830 7889
Email: enquiries@hotelclover.com
Website: www.hotelclover.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Hotel-Clover-33-Jalan-Sultan/250592788481743



This blog resulted from an invitation and represents the thoughts and opinions of the writer. All information on this blog is provided "as is", with no guarantee of completeness, accuracy or timeliness and the writer will not be liable for any losses, injuries or damages from the display or use of this information. All text and photos on this blog are the original works of the writer unless stated otherwise.

Thank you to Hotel Clover 33 Jalan Sultan for the kind invitation.

22 April 2015

'Charcuterie, Cheese and Wine Unlimited' Promotion - Vine Lounge at KUVO

One of our recent Friday evenings saw us visiting a fairly new bar and restaurant concept on Orchard Road. The Orchard Road area is not somewhere I often go out in the evening now, I think partly because I work there so like to go elsewhere in my free time and at the weekends, for me at least, it is very crowded. KUVO (where we were wining and dining) is actually in the Orchard Shopping mall, an older looking mall (to me) that although I was aware of I'm fairly certain I've never been in before and assumed I probably never would. KUVO then is a bit of a hidden delight tucked away in amongst the malls and busyness of Orchard Road and is well worth checking out.



KUVO offers a multi-concept approach to dining with four different ways to enjoy an evening however you choose. It's a surprisingly large space (spanning over 9000sqft) offering distinct areas to enjoy some bespoke cocktails, an extensive range of wines, a spread of dishes in their restaurant or to spend some of your hard earned cash in their gift shop. I like the fact that the different areas are divided off, ensuring that, however you want to spend your evening, you know you'll be surrounded by like-minded individuals. Each area has a pleasant intimacy and is very welcoming ensuring that you'll be able to enjoy your evening to the utmost.

Interior of the Vine Lounge, KUVO

The areas within KUVO include the Ambrosia I and II and Gazebo, the main dining space where you can dine on a selection of Western and Asian inspired dishes, the Elixir Bar for cocktails and small plates to match the drinks and the Vine Lounge housing over 140 wine labels including several exclusive selections. Our evening was spent in the Vine Lounge where we got to enjoy KUVO's current 'Charcuterie, Cheese and Wine Unlimited' promotion which is available now until 31 May 2015.

Interior of the Vine Lounge, KUVO

The Vine Lounge, described as 'a welcoming oasis for urban warriors seeking a laidback spot to satiate their love for wine' is a relaxed spot to enjoy wine in the company of friends and loved ones, though it would also make a good choice for drinks for more formal occasions too. As you can see in the photos above it has a number of comfy sofas and seats to unwind in, whether in large or small groups, after a busy day along with a bar on the far wall which you can sit at as well if you wish. It was nice to note that the seating is far enough apart from others that you don't spend your evening unwittingly eavesdropping on other people's conversations or them doing it to you.

Their "Charcuterie, Cheese & Wine Unlimited" promotion, is pretty impressive as you can enjoy unlimited servings of charcuterie, cheese and wine for $78++ per person. The promotion is available every Friday and Saturday, from 9pm to 12 midnight and runs from now until 31 May 2015.

Deluxe Charcuterie and Cheese Platter

During our visit we were able to enjoy a selection of the wines available in the lounge alongside our platter, note that these are subject to availability. Our wines for the evening were;

  • Antica Fratta Brut (one of the Vine Lounge's exclusive selections)
  • J.Hofsttater Pinot Bianco (one of the Vine Lounge's exclusive selections)
  • Markowisch Pinot Noir
  • Pierre Jean Chardonnay
  • Arlequin GSM
My preference is for white wine I have to admit so I had a glass of the chardonnay to start and then stuck to the Italian bubbles (Antica Fratta Brut) which went down very nicely. My husband also tried the Arlequin GSM, a red, describing it as light and refreshing. I had a little too and even for me it was pleasant and I'm pretty sure I could have drunk a glass.

The deluxe charcuterie and cheese platter included the following;
  • Cold Cut (Pork Salami and Prosciutto Ham)
  • Cheese (Taleggio, Bleu de Bresse)
  • Olives (House marinated, Sun-dried tomatoes)
  • Dried fruits, prune and apricot marmalade 
  • Toasted walnut and table wafers
This was absolutely delicious and well worth trying. What's not to like about cured meats and full of flavour cheeses all washed down with a few glasses of wine? Alongside delicious, sharp and tangy marmalades, just right for adding an extra zing to your plate and a different texture to your food. The pickled garnish of vegetables were also very tasty. I only tried the taleggio cheese, a soft cheese, as I admit I'm not really a blue cheese fan (my husband was delighted to benefit from that) but this was surprisingly mild and very very pleasant. He definitely wasn't getting any of that one!

As I've mentioned with the current promotion, the platter, and the wine are on an unlimited serving between 9pm and 12 midnight, Friday and Saturday nights. All the more reason to go and sample it very soon! I don't think you could possibly leave hungry and the platters are perfect for sharing, or just simply eating it all yourself.


Close up of that meat and cheese goodness in the Deluxe Charcuterie and Cheese Platter

The 'Charcuterie, Cheese and Wine Unlimited' promotion, offering unlimited servings of charcuterie, cheese and wine at $78++ per person, is available now until 31 May 2015. The promotion is available every Friday and Saturday night from 9pm until 12 midnight

KUVO
#02-01, 321 Orchard Road
Orchard Shopping Centre
Singapore 238866

For reservations telephone: (65) 6733 8272


Opening Times

The Vine Lounge and Elixir Bar (tapas and wine)
Sunday - Thursday - 12noon - 1am; last order: 12.30am
Friday - Saturday and Eve of Public Holidays: 12noon–2am; last order: 1:30am

Elixir Bar (Cocktails)
Sunday - Thursday: 5pm–1am
Friday - Saturday and Eve of Public Holidays: 5pm–2am

Ambrosia
12noon–11pmdaily; last order: 10.30pm



This blog resulted from an invitation and represents the thoughts and opinions of the writer. All information on this blog is provided "as is", with no guarantee of completeness, accuracy or timeliness and the writer will not be liable for any losses, injuries or damages from the display or use of this information. All text and photos on this blog are the original works of the writer unless stated otherwise.

Thanks to Food News PR and KUVO for the kind invitation.

12 April 2015

Bodiam Castle

Before leaving the UK to embark on another adventure (more on that soon) we managed to fit in one more day out, to another castle, this time Bodiam castle in East Sussex. We sure do like our castles! It was yet another very cold day and this time we also had to deal with cold rain and a keen breeze as the castle is in quite an exposed spot. So once again our exploring ended with a visit to the cafe for hot drinks.



Bodiam castle is another favourite from my childhood, being fairly close to where I grew up I visited it numerous times, and for me conjures up all those images of what a fairytale castle in a moat should look like. The castle dates from the 14th century and is what is known as a moated castle, for obvious reasons. You can see the castle sitting in the middle of the moat in the photo above. It was built in 1385 by Sir Edward Dalyngrigge, a former knight of Edward III, for him and his family to live in.

Hope those ducks paid the entrance fee.

Whilst from the outside the castle appears intact once you get inside the castle walls you discover that it is mainly ruins inside, as you can see in the following photos. It is not known exactly when it became a ruin, it was in fact dismantled or slighted which means it was deliberately destroyed to prevent it from being used as a fortress and not, as you might imagine, destroyed in a battle. This was quite common during and after the English Civil War. After being partially deliberately damaged it passed through a series of owners before eventually being given to the National Trust for protection in 1925.

Despite it being a ruin inside there is some information around to tell you a bit about the castle and you can still make out quite easily the layout of some parts of the internal castle. You can also climb the outer walls and go up inside the towers to the top to get some lovely views over the castle and beyond into the East Sussex countryside. Given it was so cold on the day we visited though being up high didn't make it feel any warmer or less exposed. They also have a short video to watch, luckily indoors, which gives a very informative account of the castle's history right up to the present day.













It was great fun to be back at Bodiam castle after a very long time. We all did say perhaps we should have waited until the weather was a little warmer but, if I'm honest, although it was very cold I kind of enjoyed it as a brief break from the weather in Singapore. There was no danger of us getting hot and sticky on that day! Also, despite it being the school holidays, it was possibly a little quieter on our visit as a result of the inclement weather. I think this castle is great for both adults and children as there is lots of exploring to be done amongst the ruins and battlements. It's a place you can let your imagination run away with you and do a little daydreaming of knights and battles. Definitely one to visit if you are in the area.


07 April 2015

Chill Out Bars Goes East

My husband has been writing again about some more bars for you to check out, this time all in our neighbourhood in the east of Singapore. He can be found on Twitter, @AskSirStamford 


Trenchard Arms is a narrow bar (set in an old shophouse), situated on East Coast Road between Haig Road and Joo Chiat. The bar could nominally be called a British Pub. The decor includes wood panelling and wall paper fashioned from old covers of the UK’s upper class (posh people) society magazine, (there are many pictures of Her Majesty The Queen) Country Life and a long wooden bar running half the length of the establishment. The name of the pub is inspired by the acknowledged founder of the Royal Air Force, Lord Trenchard and a number of items point to this heritage, the aircraft throttle beer taps, the aluminium and leather armchairs, they are really comfortable to relax in over a cold pint at the end of a hard day. To add to the British feel there is a statue of a bulldog that often stands at the end of the bar smoking and drinking (he worn a Santa hat on Christmas Day). Drinks include a range of cocktails, wines (including that rarest of finds in Singapore, a Rose), cider and beers (there are ales on tap, as well as a range of craft bottled beers). Food options cover burgers, fish & chips (everywhere has this in SG), a ploughman's (cheeses and pickles etc) and fabulous pork pies imported from Blighty. At weekends the food selection expands to cover the standard brunch items offered by the sister establishment next door (Rabbit Carrot Gun) so includes eggs (many ways, including Benedict, Florentine, or plain fried and scrambled), bacon, sausage and, more recently, Lancashire’s finest export to the world, black pudding. The place is great for Saturday afternoon people watch (a founder needs to observe) or to catch a rugby (a thug’s game played by gentlemen) match or a BPL game (a gentleman’s game played by thugs) on a Saturday night. The F1 races are also shown. By the way the owner of this blog has also written about both places too, take a peek here to read it for yourself.


Scotch egg - just one of the British themed items on the Trenchard Arms' menu

Lower East Side is another great place on East Coast Road for cheap happy hour beers and sparkling wine (1 for 1 everyday, all day until 8 pm) and a touch of Mexican food. The fish tacos are really good and with all, the dish can be ordered with varying levels of spice. Those that can manage to down a level five set of tacos will eat for free, I chickened out at spice level four, the day they were slow bringing the next beer to extinguish the burning inferno in my mouth. We have previously mentioned the place as a weekend brunch joint (not sure if this is still available, can anyone confirm?) but here is all about the ale.



















Brotzeit is a German Bar / Restaurant on the corner of East Coast Road and Joo Chiat Road (diagonally opposite AliBarBar and opposite i12 Katong). The bar forms part of a chain with other branches being in Vivo City & Raffles City (I have even been to one in Saigon, next to the Hard Rock Cafe). The food is excellent, ranging from pizza, Teutonic sausage to the ubiquitous and enormous pork knuckle (we have shared this between the two of us and not managed to finish it) with its marvelous crispy crackling, sharp potato salad and tangy sauerkraut. However the main event is the beer, brewed German type and served in a range of vessel, there is a litre stein that is almost impossible to pick up and warms up too quickly in the very inclement Singapore weather. There is also wine, including in the past a Christmas mulled wine, this was a reminder of the gluwein we sipped on a cold day in Cologne in the shadows of the Dom, otherwise known as the cathedral, just before Christmas in 2009.    
Now that I work at home I often get a degree of cabin fever towards the end of the afternoon, so to alleviate this we decided to try a new bar (for us) that had been recommended to me awhile ago (by a Welshman). The bar is called The Tuckshop (made by locals) and is situated beside the Geylang River on Guillemard Road not far from Dakota MRT. The road is named after a 1920’s Singapore Governor, Laurence Nunns Guillemard, who amongst other things laid the fountain stone for the Causeway linking the island to Malaysia. The bar itself has an industrial minimalist feel with a range of inside and outside seating options and a set of long tables built on what looks like and probably is scaffolding. Drinks on offer include a range of beers, including a number of unusual craft ales from around the world, have a Shepherd Neame (England’s oldest family owned brewer) Spitfire, and wines and spirits. There are a range of food options ranging from light bites to more substantial meals (the portions were not very generous, so I use the term substantial very loosely). The style of food could be described as Singaporean / Asian / Western fusion. I had the fish and chips, which unusually was a deep fried piece of salmon, with a wasabi dipping sauce. This was very tasty. The owner of this blog had a beef noodle dish (see the photo below) that looked great also. We didn’t have dessert, but the choice is a range of traditional ice cream sandwiches.


Exterior of The Tuckshop

Interior of The Tuckshop

The owner of this blog tried the delicious Beefalicious Noodles when we visited


All in all, a good place for a chilled out couple of beers. The place opens daily at 5pm, with happy hour on draft beers until 7pm. The bar staff come around and remind you of the approaching end of the cheaper drinks, which I thought was a nice touch.
For a bar with a view, try Brussels Sprouts, at Big Splash on East Coast Park NOW CLOSED (like Brotzeit they do have other bars in other locations in Singapore). At Big Splash though you can sup ales from the fine beer producing nation of Belgium, whilst listening to the lap of the South China Sea waves. The food is not to bad either, with fries and mayonnaise, mussels (cooked in a variety of sauces / broths) or fish and chips. Though really for fish and chips, in my opinion, just go to Smiths on Tanjong Katong Road (they have another branch in Bukit Timah) and be done with it, they also sell beer. UPDATE - January 2016 the branch on Tanjong Katong Road is now closed, head to Balmoral Plaza on Bukit Timah Road if you need your Brit style fish and chip fix.
Further east, in Siglap, try The Dog and Bone, great for Saturday night footy or The Sidewalk Tavern for a Sunday Roast and a few jars.
Previous posts have covered The Cider Pit (again check out this separate post by the owner of this blog about The Cider Pit as well) and The Immigrants NOW CLOSED (Peranakan tapas and Asashi) on Joo Chiat Road and Bar Bar Black Sheep on Tanjong Katong Road (they also have other branches in Singapore). If you need any more bar suggestions in Singapore check out the posts in the links below which include those just mentioned and many, many more! 

Finally let me know if you know of anywhere in Singapore I should be checking out!

03 April 2015

Lancaster Castle

We've recently returned from a flying visit back to the UK. Whilst that time was primarily spent with our families we managed to fit in a couple of day trips out, the first of which was to Lancaster castle.

As you'll know the UK at this time of year certainly isn't as warm as Singapore and the day we visited Lancaster castle was no exception. It was bracing to say the least and warm drinks at the end of our visit were very welcome! My photos are deceptive there was definitely a keen breeze that day.


The Gatehouse, entrance to Lancaster Castle

I knew nothing about Lancaster Castle before our visit and had no idea it was quite unique in that it was being used as a prison up until March 2011 and part of the building is still used as a Crown Court. In fact on the day we visited there was a sitting in progress so we were not able to view all of the building. As it is still used as a court this also means you are restricted on photo taking in some parts too, regardless of whether the court is in session or not. 

The early history of the castle is not clear but it is believed it was founded in the 11th century on the site of a Roman fort. In 1164 the Honour of Lancaster (basically a large estate) which included the castle came under Royal control and it was first used as a prison in 1196 with its role as such becoming far more important after the English Civil War and continuing after that.



Entering through the Gatehouse you are faced with the view in my photo above. Quite a daunting site I imagine if you had been sent here as a prisoner. Before we entered the building our guide gave us a bit of an overview of the history of the castle and pointed out the Well Tower or Witches Tower (in my photo below). We weren't able to enter this building but this was where the Pendle witches were held whilst awaiting trial here in 1612. In case you haven't heard of them the witches lived during the reign of Elizabeth I (1558 - 1603) and James I (1603 - 1625). James I had a strong belief in witchcraft and passed an Act imposing the death penalty on any one accused of it. The Pendle witches were two families (from Pendle) headed by two elderly widows, several of who were accused of being involved in witchcraft. The trial took place in August 1612, ten people were found guilty, sentenced to death and subsequently hanged on a moor near Lancaster.

The outside of C-Wing

After our introduction the tour began by us entering the door right besides the white cordoned off area you can see through the gates in the photo above. If you want to visit yourself please note that you have to join a guided tour, due to parts still being a working court. Inside here we were not permitted to take any photographs but this area was the prison laundry when it was last in use. Being such an old building it seemed pretty spartan inside, though, of course, bar a few signs indicating what it was previously used for it is now just a largely open room.

We were taken to view the room that now houses the jury when they sit to make their decisions. From this room you can see the 'hanging corner' where, as the name suggests, executions took place up until 1865. We were told that only a handful of executions were for murder with many more being for other crimes such as burglary and robbery. Our guide explained that after the execution the bodies could not be buried in the local church yard so many were buried in the ground directly beneath the hanging corner which is now a car park. Quite a chilling thought. We were also taken to what is known as the Drop Room where we could see relics of many executions and the types of implements that were used to restrain and punish prisoners.

The Well Tower or Witches Tower (where the Pendle witches were held whilst awaiting trial at Lancaster castle)

As we came back down from these rooms to leave this part of the castle we were shown some of the original prison cells. These cells were rediscovered in 1931 and the thick oak doors on them have been dated back to the 16th century. You can enter the cells on the tour (including one with no lighting) to experience how small and cramped they would have been. At the time of their use the only means of light was from a small opening above the door which could also be closed plunging the inhabitants into total darkness. One of the cells is also reportedly haunted, presumably by the ghost of a former prisoner.

Inside C-Wing

The final part of the tour took us into C-Wing, the last part of the castle to still be used as a prison. As I mentioned it only closed in 2011 so this part has been left pretty much as it was prior to closure. This meant we got to see inside more modern prison cells. They still didn't look that pleasant but obviously not as dark and dingy as the very old cells we'd seen before. We also saw where the prisoners were served their meals and could look up the stairs at the floors above, but you can only look at the cells on the ground floor.

Our tour of the castle concluded here and as I mentioned it was a pretty cold day so we made a hasty retreat to the coffee shop for a warm drink. The tour was really interesting and our guide was excellent, keeping it relevant for both the adults and children in our group. If you are in the area I definitely recommend a visit.

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