Staycation Experience – Manzil Downtown

What’s the first thought that comes to your mind when you are choosing options for staycations? Comfort for me has been a priority, not only of myself but of my guest/s as well.
When the amazing folks at Manzil Downtown invited me for a staycation, I accepted it in a heartbeat! This gorgeous Emaar property is once of finest boutique hotels in UAE. The arabesque theme runs in the decor throughout the hotel. You will definitely learn a few Arabic words while your stay. My guest and I were upgraded to a deluxe Burj Khalifa view suite. With amazing view,cozy room and service fit for a queen, Manzil Downtown surely scored solid points for stay!

Room

Our room overlooked a not to be missed view of Burj Khalifa and downtown Dubai. The wall features Arabic murals above the headboard, the color scheme is grays, whites and blacks. Generally I would expect more woodwork in room as that would go with the Arabian theme however here they given a modern touch which makes it perfect for any type of stay whether it’s business or pleasure.
The room features basic facilities like 42 inch flat TV, coffee & tea self serve facilities, hairdryer, Mini Bar, multi charging points & ironing facility. Another thing I loved about the hotel is that every guest is entitled to complimentary high speed WIFI that extends to pool as well. The white beddings give a very calming effect to the room. There is also a compact study and a lounging sofa. A lot of attention has been paid to the details in the room, there are Arabic words and meanings of them on many things such as the bathrobes, do not disturb signs and more.

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The bathroom

It’s spacious and comes with separate shower area. Basic toiletries such as shower caps, ear buds and such are provided along with shampoo, conditioner and body lotion.
The bathtub is spacious and good to fit two people. I had a few concerns with the bathroom as it is door-less one, which means you cannot just share room with anyone but someone close to you. Also there aren’t any anti slip mats, considering the shower area can be slightly slippery after the use.

Swimming pool & Gym

Post our brunch we headed to the pool for some relaxation. Unfortunately I forgot my bathing suit and couldn’t enjoy a swim but my guest and I had a great time soaking the sun and lounging at our cabana. We also enjoyed some drinks at the pool from Oriental pool & Bar. They also have a 24 hour open gym for those interested in staying fit during their stay.

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Service

I loved the fact that there are specific tags that you can place at your room door. If you want the room to be made you can place the tag for the same. I spotted housekeeping staff several times at the foyer and they would always ask if I needed any assistance. The lifts can be operated by tapping your room key which is more secured feature added by most of hotels today.  The staff members had also added some welcome sweets in my room which clearly shows how much they love personalising the experience for thier guests.

Food

We opted for breakfast & brunch at Boulevard kitchen & dinner at the courtyard. You can read the detailed review for the same by clicking on the following restaurants – Boulevard Kitchen & The Courtyard.
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Synopsis

Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed our stay. My mom was in town and she was visiting Manzil Downtown for the first time and she was impressed too! Everyone is warm & friendly right from the staff at the entrance to housekeeping. There is certain comfort level that gets built with the staff and makes it easier to interact with. Manzil Downtown is a home away from home. The room is ideal for couples or even besties for stay. The hotel also offers shuttle buses & airport transfer facilities. Check in time is as late as 2 pm.
As mentioned earlier, there are a lot of details been added to the hotel to make it more homely like the floral centerpiece at the lobby is fresh flowers in pots & there is even a mini herb garden at the pool area. Manzil Downtown is a dreamy arabic home that provides you all the luxuries! Check out the gorgeous view from my room’s window:
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Contact: +971 4 428 5888 or connect.downtown@vida-hotels.com
Address: Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard
The Old Town, Downtown Dubai
Visit their website for more information: http://www.vidahotels.com/en/manzil/restaurants/ 
Nearest attractions:
  • Downtown Dubai
  • Burj Khalifa
  • Dubai Mall
  • Dubai Fountains
  • Dubai Trolley

Breakfast Stories At Feast, Sheraton Grand

There is a saying that goes like ” have breakfast like a king, lunch like a Prince and dinner like a pauper”. That’s actually quite right because breakfast is the most important meal of the day. What’s better than starting your day at Sheraton Grand’s breakfast buffet?
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A blogger friend ( check out Nikki’s blog Gooodcarbs) invited me for this tasting session. At first I was regretting waking up because it was the weekend and it was drizzling too. Parting with my bed was a difficult task but somehow I convinced myself as covering new places excites me.
Sheraton’s grand breakfast is like none other. They have live counters for pancakes your way, waffles and even stir fried noodles! All made fresh! The super sweet manager gave us a detailed tour of the entire spread! They had more variety than even some of buffets around the town.
For the health freaks there is also a gluten free and fat free option and no this was not on request, they always have these available considering the soaring demand. There is also a wide selection of fresh juices and smoothies for all.
My only dislike from the the range was Indian section as I felt better choice of dishes would have done justice to the cuisine. Nevertheless there were so many options that If you miss out on out section it shouldn’t be a big deal. Absolutely love the addition of ice cream to the breakfast buffet. Yes you read it right! They have delicious variety of ice creams ranging from sorbets to classics like chocolate.

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If you are a UAE resident then you can get enjoy this grand breakfast treat for a little as Aed 69 by presenting your emirates ID.
Thanking Grand Sheraton always smiling staff for being so cooperative and letting us take delicious images of their stunning dishes. Everything is made in house freshly except the gluten free products which are sourced from trusted bakeries. Our server Viktor, an energetic chap was full of information about the buffet and did brief us on many of details.
Overall, Sheraton Grand’s breakfast buffet is a steal deal! Not saying this just because I was invited but because I have attended many corporate breakfasts at grandest of hotels. Either the prices are higher for the ones that offer everything like Feast restaurant does or there are limited vegetarian options. I am definitely going back especially for their bakery items such as tarts and croissants( I hope they start retailing them ’cause so good mmm..)
Grand Breakfast buffet deal is available at Feast restaurant. Visit Sheraton website ,  call +97145034444 for reservations or visit Feast - Sheraton Grand Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato  for menu
  • Kids friendly
  • Wheelchair friendly
  • Complimentary WIFI
  • Vegan friendly
  • Vegetarian friendly
  • Helpful staff

Restaurant Review: A Riot Of Colors At Carnival By Tresind

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Is it right to describe fine dining experience as magical? no I didn’t get transported any new land  but a Carnival itself! Carnival by Tresind is based on post modern Indian cuisine. This new restaurant in town has made the game only tougher for its competitors as they offer some great dishes and the creativity levels have doubled! Below is my detailed account of the 14 course chef’s tasting menu (vegetarian) my view on the decor and excerpts of chat with Chef Vinu.

On our arrival, we were greeted with bubbles which instantly liven up the child in you and makes one smile. Our server, Mr Himanshu a cheerful and equally enthusiastic chap set to explain us the courses, heightening our suspense as each course arrives.

Prior to courses we were served the Happy Halloween. Essentially a kulcha stuffed with pumpkin which was baked with spices. I wasn’t too excited with this one as I found the taste to be very average.

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The amuse bouche, Makhan Phal stole the show! Cacao butter hive topped with avacado lime cream was something I hadn’t tried earlier. it was delightful and the presentation creates instant drama on the table. out came the phones and cameras to capture the beauty.

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Life is short eat dessert first : thats so true isn’t it? what if a dessert comes in the form of chaat? well this was exactly that. Crispy jelabis that were lightly sweetened paired with yogurt mousse, chickpeas and sweet and sour chutney. We loved this so much. as our server explained, the jelabis remained crisp till the end of the dish.

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Game of Corns: at first, the texture of this dish was meaty, like processed soy but the taste was so fresh. We were then explained that this dish consists of coconut milk solids, strained and formed into a cutlets served with goji berry chutney and kewpie mayonnaise.

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My next course came in a tiny cup. it was Dal Cappuccino topped with Truffle ghee and cumin coco cookie. I wasn’t too big of a fan of this one. I just found it too bland and I couldn’t taste the that earthiness of truffle flavor distinctively.

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Morel science: There came a wooden dish which consisted of a wheat crisp and underneath the same was a fritter that was a dedication to the indo Chinese dishes found across the country. the fritter was made out of Gucci mushrooms which are the most expensive mushrooms in the world. Found in the Himalayas, these mushrooms were cooked to perfection and the taste was earthy yet spicy as they were coated with the sauces.

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Palak paneer: palak paneer as a appetizer? i inquired to my server and he just smiled at me. I definitely knew there was something he wasnt disclosing. when the dish arrived, I was surprised to see a toasted bun topped makhani sauce, cottage cheese mousse and julienne of fried spinach. We loved this!

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Just when we thought we are almost done, a gentleman dressed as a worker comes by our table and opens his tool kit. At first I was perplexed and then the chef in workers clothes explains that he is going to transform a worker’s meal into fine dining dish. quickly he pulls out a halved bun and adds spices, chutneys and the potato fritter (vada) topped with micro herbs and chilli. the chef waited till we tried the result of this vada pav service and joked of how it needs to be eaten only with hands and no forks. This dish is a bit messy but fun!

Our next dish to try is the Malai barfee gola, a palate changer and light dish with absolutely no presentation. doesnt need one too as it’s purpose was served. This is a litchi granita infused wit raspberry and rosewater.

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Onto our main courses, in no time my table was filled with dishes presented in a beautiful manner. we had Gol Hatti and Not just butter Chicken! the Gol Hatti is a dish inspired by a dish called palak chole found in streets of Chandni Chowk. this dish is served with bread like kulcha and is presented beautifully. Our second main course, Not just butter Chicken is a rich and creamy dish with Soya cutlets in a gravy. we preferred the latter as it was more flavorful. served with fresh breads, all of course made in house.

Our next course was the desserts and my most favorite part of tasting.

My dessert, Chat Walla is a dessert I will remember for a very long time. Spot on with the presentation, mango puree piped artistically across the dish, small and crisp fritters (boondi) , the parfait set in a scooped out guava topped with dehydrated strawberry powder. I was immediately transported back to my time in India where a street vendors sell masala(spicy) guava in summers which are juicy and tangy. This dessert is purely for fruit lovers, my guest didn’t enjoy it but I loved it for the creativity. the only wway to enjoy the dish is to try it with every element on the plate rather than just having a spoonful of parfait itself.

My guest’s dessert, Go bananas served in a basket over banana leaves. This dessert is essentially banana three ways or more so paired with different elements. A warm caremelised banana served alongside toffee panna cotta topped with  crisp tuile Banana ice cream with crunchy bits. I lover this one too! Only flaw was the plating as it was in a deep basket. All elements served a purpose in the dish and it is perfectly balanced with no element bring overly sweet.

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At the end of our meal we were served miracle berry which was truly a fun thing to try. So at first I was asked to suck the lemon which was obviously sour and then I was asked to chew on the miracle berry. after which again I tried the lemon and it was sweeter rather than sour. the taste lasts up to ten minutes.

Along with our lunch we were served two cocktails both alcohol based. Mine was mystery tea, presented stunningly by the bartender. There is a play of dry ice with drink served in a tea cup poured out of a Japanese tea pot. the drink consists of elder flower, dried raspberry and vodka. a strong cocktail but really well paired with the dishes. my guest’s cocktail was Whiskey based drink paired with cinnamon and spices. I preferred my drink over the latter.

ambiance: The mascot of the Carnival is the humble lamb. As it is the meat eaten nationwide right from north to south. No two drink coasters are same on the table and so are the glasses. This has been done on purpose to break the norms in fine dining. besides the same, the color of chairs matches the color of the ribbon. I personally couldn’t understand the requirement of copper trees incorporated with the theme but with dark walls it did actually look beautiful. There is so much detailing with masquerade masks at one wall to hand painted kites on the copper toned trees.

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On my detailed chat with Chef Vinu,  I was been informed that they are willing to cater clientele of all sorts as long as the same is mentioned during reservations. they personally ensure that each and every guest feels comfortable dining at Carnival by Tresind. Besides the same, every dish is carefully thought and months have taken to perfect the dishes. Constant changes in menu are expected as the chefs are always testing and pairing unusual ingredients for dishes. As I pointed out to Chef Vinu that majority of their clientele were locals with their families or some even with their friends celebrating occasions. To which I was informed that they enjoy the twist of taste to Indian cuisine and ever since the opening they have seen many non Asian nationalities dining at the restaurant.

Thanks to Passion F &B for the invite. Also thanks to Chef Vinu, Chef Himanshu Saini and our lovely server Mr. Himanshu for taking good care of us.

For reservations contact  04 2759071 

Visit  Zomato for ratings Carnival By Tresind Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Waffle Mania With Waffle Factory!

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Perks of being a blogger is that it gives me privilege to try latest offerings way before others do. Also I can sense a craze from miles ahead and one such craze in Dubai is chocolate waffles. There are many establishments offering chocolate drizzled/dipped/doused waffles but hey I am always the one who want to enjoy the authentic way. So my dear readers I have discovered the traditional Belgium waffles which no doubt are created to perfection at Waffle Factory.

Conveniently located at Burjuman, this little store is filled with waft of chocolate and waffles ( I wish they could sell that beautiful fragrance in a bottle or candles perhaps). Waffle Factory is a franchise of the official Waffle Factory located in Belgium, right from the pearl sugar to the flour is provided by the original outlet. My tête-à-tête with the franchise owner Neha gave me an insight to how a franchising works. The secret recipes are shared to the franchisee and everything has to meet the standards of the franchiser. Which basically means that the diners enjoy the best quality and experience as they would in Belgium. The decor goes with the theme of popping red from black background which is similar to the logo.

The menu is limited but everything looks so yum! After careful thoughts I opted for Vegetarian lunchwaf, which is basically like a pizza base created in shape of waffle stuffed with sundried tomatoes, olives and mozzarella with tomato sauce. If I was working anywhere close to Burjuman, I would definitely be ordering a Lunchwaf as it’s not at all messy and a perfect handheld sandwich that can be consumed while on go.

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For drinks I opted the super refreshing Swiss chocolate ice cream shake which was in one word was simply divine!

They also serve Leige waffle which is a heavier waffle and can be used for loading with toppings. So I did exactly that! Went with a combo of raspberry sorbet and dark chocolate. Though I felt I should have opted for chocolate ice cream on chocolate this waffle was a bit dense and I could replace it for a meal in itself.

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My next to try was Brussels Waffle. I loved this one so much! It was light and caremalises on sides, the toppings were banana slices on one side and fresh strawberries on other. To complete the waffle I opted a drizzle of nutella and boy it was heavenly! The waffle itself is not sweet and serves as a perfect holder for any kind of toppings.

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My final Waffle to try was the sandwich Waffle or the Waffine, I went with the Lotus spread stuffing. This waffle is again slightly heavier and topped with whipped cream it tasted delicious! More like a soft biscuit but fun to try.

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Besides Waffles, WF offers premium quality milkshakes, movenpick ice creams and smoothies. They also serve hot beverages such as tea and coffee which are carefully selected and are of top most quality. The open plan kitchen gives customers a chance to view how their waffles are made. Everything is neatly stacked and the staff are quick in whipping out delicious dishes . Strict attention is paid to details but everything is kept simple and easy considering the mall culture.

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Overall it’s a great place to be and enjoy some delicious waffles both savory & sweet. If you are ever stuck with what to order then don’t hesitate to take the advise of the manager and franchise owner, Neha. She is bubbly girl and has knowledge of each and every offering at the store. Since winter is coming, I am definitely seeing the waffle trend only going up up and up! So go and try them the authentic way at Waffle Factory.

Ps: WF is super affordable with prices as low as aed 15 and they even offer combos.

Check out their menu on Waffle factory Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato or contact 04 3203757

Exploring Yas Island My Way..

Many a times it so happens that a particular place gets stereotyped for a particular event because it has been associated with it for so many years. One such example is Yas Island which is generally known for F1 Grand Prix, grand concerts & other annual sports events. Travel agencies, marketing firms rely heavily on these events to gain tourism in this region of Abu Dhabi. However there is a lot more to experience at Yas Island. Whether you are attending one of the sporting events or someone who is at a short business trip or someone who has been tagged along with their partner on a trip or with your family, Yas Island has something for everybody.

Instead of relying on travel advisors & magazines try finding unique activities with help of bloggers, Instagram users from that region & interact with locals. I have made your research a bit easier by adding a few hidden gems that will enhance your experience and will give you unlimited options without spending a fortune.

Dining

– Learn how to master the art of making perfect pasta with Chef Angelo at Yas Viceroy’s cozy & beautiful Italian restaurant – Amici. Delizioso!

– Dine at Yas Mall’s Rogo which is F1 themed restaurant where food is served directly from rollercoaster track to your table or at Yas Marina’s Stars n bars which features a table that encases racing star Lewis Hamilton’s driving suit.

– Visit Ferrari world’s ll Podio that offers Asian & Italian delights that are prepared right in front of you.

Enjoy

– Take up a gaming challenge at Softair’s Battlezone at Yas Mall. You are just 8 levels away from being a champion. Fun &interactive!

– Always wanted to know how it feels to fly a plane? Try Etihad pilot simulator to fly over one of 24,000 airports. This one is an absolute real experience and the same stimulator is used to train real pilots.

– Visit Yas Viceroy’s Burlesque Bar & Lounge to step back in time. Glamour, drama, theater, live bands, Djs & dance performances while you sip on creative cocktails. Also you could check with your hotel for nearest rooftop bars or lounges.

– Stars N Bars hosts open mic sessions, live band sessions with in house talent Sound City & quiz nights where you can exercise your brain cells while feasting on.

– Quiz nights are also hosted at Golf Club’s Hickory Sports Bar located at Yas Links.

– Fan of Classic Cinema? You must ensure to visit Yas Marina’s Iris. Stylish Surroundings, warming and magical way to watch your classics such as Casablanca.

Explore & Relax

– Unwind like a celebrity, invite friends or just for yourself. Charter a Yacht with Safwa Marine and explore the Yas Island’s spectacular coast.

– Captain Tony’s Boat tours are very popular in the region. Hop on and explore the coast and inhabitants such as the dolphins. Their most popular stopover is at the Dolphin Bays and bank where you could snorkel too.

– One of most unique experiences is the Sunset or Sunrise Kayak tours where you can drift through mangroves and get close to wildlife such as Gazelles.Contact Noukhada Adventure Company for this innovative tour.

– Go Aerial with Seaplane and view a different angle of Yas Marina’s sparkling waters.

– Unwind at the award winning ESPA spa at Yas Viceroy. Equipped with modern technology such as jet pods, Espa spa will help you relax in every way possible.

– Get your skin glistening with rose facial at Radisson Blu.

Hope you have added this destination to your travel diary and noted down the ways to explore to the fullest. For more information visit www.yasisland.ae

Weekly Photo Challenge – The Muse

What a brilliant idea.. the theme. My muse is Dubai Creek, I think I have shot it from every angle!

Check out this week’s entry for the weekly photo challenge

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Image shot from Iphone 6

Feel free to comment and let me know your thoughts. Also do browse through photography section on my blog or follow me on Instagram for more images.

Weekly Photo Challenge – Vivid City

VividMeaning: intensely deep or bright.

For this week’s challenge I could have added some lovely traditional Faanoos lights to this post and I know you would like them but then.. I let my imagination run wild. So here is a little throwback picture(2013) from the city that never sleeps – Las Vegas.

Love the bold, bright lights.. this is the city of dreams!

Bellagio Nevada

Bellagio Musical Fountain

Feel free to comment and let me know your thoughts. Also do browse through photography section on my blog or follow me on Instagram for more images.