The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel

Luxury at its very finest in India. It was our second time in Mumbai, and although we had visited before, this time we were lucky enough to spend two nights at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel.

On arrival we were greeted with the warmest smiles, and of course we couldn’t possibly lift a finger! Our two backpacks, two suitcases and hand luggage were all swept away from us as we were guided into reception where we were seated and didn’t even need to check ourselves in! Welcomed with a lavender necklace, lychee juice, and a good luck ritual, our passports were collected and that was all that needed to be done! The best check-in we have ever experienced.

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We had the cheapest room in the hotel yet it was still beautiful with a bouquet of roses, heart shaped balloons and a chocolate cake waiting for us on arrival. It was very traditional but with all the mod cons you needed and would expect. We loved having enough space to be able to unpack comfortably, and walk around the room … or in our case, dance! The bathroom was super luxurious and bathing was pure heaven having not had one for so long! Would you believe there’s an option to order a custom made bath with chosen oils and scents by the Taj Hotel with the price ranging from 1200 – 5500 ruppees! This was just a little over the top for us and the classic shower gel under the tap worked wonders enough!

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The hotel is so grand, and whether you’re a guest there or not it is definitely worth visiting to have a little explore and grab some great photos. A little tip is that the Sea Lounge has an event every evening called sundowners where drinks are buy one get one free between 18:30 and 20:30, no reservation is necessary but it is on a first come first serve basis and you’re also given a selection of snacks free of charge which is always a bonus!

Again with the restaurants you don’t have to be a guest to dine. On our first night we ate at Masala Kraft and were given the best table in the house next to the live chefs. However the downside was that roti was the only thing they cooked there with everything else made in the kitchen. The meal was faultless and we thoroughly enjoyed the ambience this restaurant offered. We also booked a table at Souk, a middle eastern restaurant for our second night, which is perched on the top floor of the Taj tower and offers a great view of the Gateway to India … unfortunately for us this was the best bit. The service was slow, the food was average and very overpriced. We would recommend just going up for a drink instead to enjoy the view.

Breakfast was probably our best meal with an array of different tastes, smells and colours, we really didn’t know where to start. Eggs to order, smoked salmon, freshly baked cakes, croissants and of course plenty of Indian delicacies. Make sure you go down on an empty stomach and this is more than enough to see you through until dinner. One morning we were even seated privately in the champagne room, we don’t know why, but we certainly didn’t object!

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An exclusive for hotel guests only is full use of the pool facility, such a luxurious setting in the city heat, taking a dip in the cold pool couldn’t be more perfect. It was lovely to take some time out and relax, especially before heading to Our Home Community Orphanage!

We had a fantastic stay at the Taj, yes it was expensive, but it was worth every penny. However, it’s one of those once in a lifetime opportunities. We feel like we’ve seen and experienced it now, and it was amazing but we wouldn’t stay again. When you walk through the entrance it’s like you shut India out, a welcome break you may think, but we like to be in the thick of it when we’re staying in a new country. We want to feel like we’re in India, hear the traffic, the cows and get dusty feet! The Taj Palace Hotel could quite honestly have been anywhere in the world and we wouldn’t have known. Two days was the perfect amount of time for us to relax and take a break before setting off on our next Indian adventure!

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Why EU should go to Brussels

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In the aftermath of the EU referendum (don’t worry this isn’t another rant from an unqualified politician) there was only one place for the next instalment of KHTravels; Brussels.

The heart of Europe and the EU, Brussels was exactly what we expected it to be. A real European city, café cultured with incredible art and architecture, an extraordinary love for waffles and amazing Belgian beer, what more could you ask for?

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Staying at the Radisson Blu in the centre of Brussels, we decided to take a break from backpacking and splash out with pure luxury! With a bucket of beer upon arrival, we took the glass elevator overlooking the Michelin stared restaurant to our floor before falling in love with our room. This was our first break away from England together since coming home from our travels and we had totally forgot that holidays are meant to be relaxing. We’d become so accustomed to dorm rooms and wooden beds the incredible décor and lavish style of the Radisson Blu was just what the doctor ordered!

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After tearing ourselves away from the gorgeous room we decided to head down to Grand Place which was only a few minutes’ walk away. As luck would have it, the Brussels Jazz Marathon was taking place and we kicked back with a freshly brewed Belgian beer soaking up the sun and the atmosphere. Grand Place was stunning, you feel as if you’ve been enclosed into a mythical land, although with some of the buildings being very dark, we felt this land could also have a gloomy, eerie side if no one was around …

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Manneken pis was next on our hit list and we soon found the small bronze sculpture by following the giggles of tourists sniggering around a small boy with an everlasting bladder. We have to be honest, the sculpture was interesting but with so many people and an overkill with replicas all over the city we were slightly underwhelmed. We may have also been slightly distracted by the multiple one Euro waffle bars that were distracting our attention. These were the greatest waffles on Earth, we know you’ve heard this a lot but trust us, please go to Brussels if only for the waffles … beer, oh, and the Belgian frittes. Just go for the food, everything else is a bonus!

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Speaking of food, we may have had our best meal ever at a wonderful little restaurant called Meet Meat. Slightly out of town on a rainy evening, we took the option of travelling out of the city centre to Meet Meat due to the rave reviews on Tripadvisor and it was definitely the right decision! With a wide range of steak cuts for you to select, cooked to your preference and accompanied by a host of impeccably presented sides, Meet Meat certainly continued with our theme of excellency and quality during this city break. The prime cuts of beef almost melted in your mouth and filled that gap in your stomach in such a way that you would not know how you ever lived without it. Simply exceptional.

Enough food porn for one blog and back to the sights! We loved the accessibility of Brussels, from walking through the cobbled streets to jumping on the tube without paying through your nose for travel. We did exactly that for our next destination – the Atomium and Mini Europe. The Atomium was opened in 1958 amidst great fanfare at the World Fair of Brussels (aka Expo 58). This incredible structure was designed to symbolise utopia and peace, a structure without structure and a figure of the past with a permanently futuristic look. Climbing through the Atomium there is a sense of imagination and wonder with a hint of incompletion. A wondrous view from afar and equally breath-taking views of the city from within, the interior of the Atomium just seems a bit hollow, yet it almost seems as though it was meant that way.

A stone’s throw away was Mini Europe, a grand collection of Europe’s most iconic and recognisable landmarks and a fantastic place to inspire you to travel the continent. Featuring the eruption of Vesuvius and the leaning tower of Pisa, this is the perfect spot to choose your next destination if backpacking through Europe.

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Other city highlights included brunch at the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM), St. Michael & St. Gudula Cathedral Tower and Galeries St Hubert. Brunch at the MIM was unreal with limitless prosciutto ham, champagne and a selection of cheeses and freshly baked breads. The cathedral was another piece of architectural brilliance while the Galeries reminded us of just why Europe is so fantastic. Lined with exquisite chocolatiers, theatres and luxury stores all enclosed with a glass roof, this was one of our most favourite spots being just a short walk away from our hotel.

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Finally, despite being in the immediate aftermath of Brexit we could not leave Brussels without visiting the European Union. Politics are politics and there will always be rights and wrongs to both sides but one thing we can say is that we are better collectively than individually. In a world of travel and integration, there is no room for segregation. The EU may not have been what it had set out to be but it did help to bring together 28 countries with different languages, different cultures and different people. No one is certain what the future will hold or what another decision would have brought but one thing we do know is this. The European Union was one of the most boring day trips of our time in Brussels so instead of visiting a building full of politicians, you’d be better off hanging back in Grand Place with a beer and meeting the real people that make Europe so great.

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Dubai – a life of luxury!

Skyscrapers, fast cars, private yachts, champagne on tap, pool parties. Dubai. A world of luxury situated in the middle of the UAE desert. As you fly into Dubai you see a land of nothingness merge into a city known as the playground for rich and famous.
Ditching her backpack for 5 nights H was visiting her best friend for a girls holiday, and after a year of hostels and budgeting, this lavish holiday was definitely a treat never to be forgotten.
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First up was Cove Beach Club, a chilled setting located on a typical Dubai beach filled with pure white sand, crystal blue sea and a view of the Burj Al Arab. After a long journey a bit of relaxation was deserved! Soaking up the rays, cocktails on order and delicious food delivered to your sun lounger what more could you want? The day couldn’t have been a more perfect arrival and was spent sunbathing, taking those memorable insta snaps, and dipping in and out of the sea. Perfection.
Once recuperated we got ready for a night out on the town, heading to Asia Asia for ladies night and dinner. Wow is all I can say, with three free drinks of your choice and the most irresistible food ever  including aromatic duck to die for, fiery crispy chilli squid, juicy tempura prawns… Mouth watering? Okay I’ll stop, but you get the point, it was incredible.
Whilst talking about food, the restaurants in Dubai were incredible, you could travel here purely to dine! If you’re a big foodie you will be in your element. A couple of my favourites included Karma Kafe  offering an Asian themed menu making you never want to leave and Siddharta lounge which hosts a sophisticated ambience and the stylish menu infuses Mediterranean and Asian flavours to create a concoction of the finest flavours.
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Me being me a tourist day was obviously a must, so I dragged the girls out of bed to see the fabulous sights Dubai has to offer. The Miracle Garden was up first and as soon as you arrive you enter a magical, colourful world. With every type of flower and every shade of colour this place is just amazing. Hundreds of mini gardens featuring different themes, you could wander around for hours taking in the man made beauty. The only problem is you HAVE to go early, and even at 09:00am the heat is too much, so we couldn’t stay as long as we’d have liked, but despite that we still got to see everything we wanted.
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I couldn’t go to Dubai without seeing the famous Burja Khalifa. Being the tallest skyscraper in the world standing proud at 830m, with fountains aligned along the bottom dancing alongside lights and music, we were blown away before we’d even entered. Stepping into the Burj via the Armani hotel (after hours of trying to find the entrance) we were just speechless. Taking elevators to one of the top floors we enjoyed a drink at the bar with sparkling views never to be forgotten of this almost lego like city.
The Atlantis hotel was next, located offshore on the manmade Palm of Dubai. We explored this hotel to the point of losing ourselves. Walking in and out of the corridors filled with luxury restaurants and shops, visiting the huge aquarium wall it was like nothing I’ve ever seen before. Imagine stepping into a real world Finding Nemo, just bigger and more exotic. It really was an enormous space filled with an array of sea life. We also journeyed outside in the sweltering heat to get that all important selfie with the hotel! Unfortunately, we didn’t have time for the water park, which would definitely be high on my list if I ever return!
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The days passed quickly visiting various pools, hotels and beaches which were all superb. So how do you finish five days in Dubai filled with the best friends, indescribable beaches, views, food and weather? A private yacht party! Sailing off into the horizon with the skyline behind you, the sea air in your hair, music pumping and champagne flowing. It’s a surreal experience and gave me a chance to look back on the week filled with nothing short of lavish and luxury, reflecting on what a fantastic week it was. So you might be thinking what do I prefer, backpacking or luxury? I’ll leave you guessing…