Creative Crepes at The Starving Artist in the Berkshires

If you believe that you dine with your eyes as well as your mouth, I know exactly where to send you for a lazy Saturday morning breakfast in the Berkshires.

20140913_091839 The Starving Artist Cafe seems at first o be just a cute creperie on Lee’s main drag. You order at the counter then go to sit down at a small table or a window-side bench…. 20140913_091843 and then get to look at the gorgeous art gallery in which the cafe is housed. You like it, you can buy it! Sure beats seeing football on 3 screens in the local bar.  20140913_092800 Hot chocolate

Gargantuan, incredibly creamy, and none too sweet. Be sure to get it topped with the barely sweetened whipped cream, which only adds to the richness. This might put you into a food coma. It’s such a decadent way to start your vacay weekend.  20140913_093027 Mexican crepe with scrambled local eggs, black beans, avocado, and scallions

Tasty, if lacking in the spice department.

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A really good counterpart to that hot chocolate. The crepe is crispy yet tender and chock full of scrambled eggs with melted cheese, soft avocado, and chewy black beans. Don’t skimp on the salsa, because the eggs aren’t spicy at all. But they are wholesome and delish.

20140913_093033 Fruit cup

A good size, with delicious Asian pears and homemade granola. Win.

Loved this joint (though the espresso is dreadful). Fair prices, delicious food, and good service. Plus, decorations that can’t be beat.

Dinner in the Berkshires at Chez Nous

I am a control freak. I  love hotels, I love eating out, and I love planning the perfect vacation experience – it’s hard for me to give up control.

So, when someone else chooses the restaurant and it turns out to not only be great, but REALLY reasonably priced…I’m shocked, I’m thrilled, and I’m a little weirded out…happily weirded out.

We spent the Berkshires weekend with some of our favorite people, and friend M chose Chez Nous for dinner. She had been there before and swore that it was worthwhile.

I love having smart friends.

20140913_194810 Chez Nous sounds fancy and has an eclectic menu, but it is extremely comfortable with a buzzy, chatty atmosphere. you can arrive in jeans, but they should be nice ones. And please make reservations…if you can’t tell from the picture, the small home in which the restaurant is housed, is positively packed.  20140913_201032 Cheese plate

This is an example of how something doesn’t need to be overly complicated in order to be delicious. The cheese plate isn’t large – if you are hungry, you won’t want to share it with more than one person – but it’s well designed. The blue cheese is mild and creamy, with a slightly umami, funky finish. The local goat cheese is te other big winner here – soft and crumbly – ideal with the sweet grapes or airy, tangy bread. The chutney is the standout here. It’s clearly homemade, loaded with sweet onions and plump raisins. It’s bright with vinegar and really piquant – it is so tasty that I ate it with a fork, no cheese necessary. I would absolutely get this again.   20140913_204243 Burger topped with sauteed foie gras

My husband got this…I wimped out. Trust me, I still hate myself for not getting it. Just had to include a shot because it is so gorgeous. The burger itself was undersalted but well cooked – juicy and pink throughout. The accompanying fries and aggressively garlicky aioli are excellent.  20140913_204326 Seared Scottish salmon with spinach and einkorn risotto

Exactly what you want on a cold night when you have already maxed out on junk food on the car trip up. I always prefer local fish, but they were out of the striped bas that day and I just didn’t feel like halibut. This fish was lovely – cooked until medium rare with a tender interior and a salty, crispy crust. It’s served on some silky spinach and einkorn risotto. I am pretty sure that einkorn is farro,which I love. It has a somewhat al dente texture and nutty taste. It’s creamy and served with man mixed mushrooms that work surprisingly well with the fish. In case you didn’t notice, this portion looks on the small side. That’s because every entree here has the option to be served in half portions. This is such a great idea – if you filled up at lunch or if you are on a budget, you can diner here for a fraction of the price and/or food waste. I love, love, LOVE the half portion thing and wish that other restaurants would take its cue.
20140913_213117 Lemon lavender posset

Ignore the threat of lavender, because this is all lemon meringue pie in a jar. Creamy, tart, sweet – delicious. Served with sugary macerated strawberries and a homemade cookie alongside, this is something that any lover of lemony desserts will be obsessed with. It’s the pudding of your dreams – the cookie adds a textural contrast but it’s just icing on the cake. This little pot of lemony goodness is pretty near perfect – don’t go for a half portion of this!

Chez Nous is delightful. The vibe is casual but still celebratory, the food is delicious, and those half portions are awesome. The one dark spot was the service. I’m so sorry, but our server was out to lunch. She was new, but…like…new to this planet? She was really nice and friendly, but when we would remind her of dishes that were wrong or drinks that were totally forgotten, she sort of chuckled and gave us a friendly shoulder pat like “oh yeah…haha!” Not my favorite way to correct multiple mistakes. On the upside, this meal was SO reasonably priced. Part of that is because I’m from NYC, where everything is overpriced, and part of it is because of the half portioned entrees. It’s such a great way to keep down costs while still enjoying a delicious meal. Regardless of the scatterbrained service, I would return.

Sometimes giving up control can be a beautiful thing. 

Surf’s Up at Betty’s Pizza in The Berkshires

The Berkshires might not be the first place you would think of treating yourself to a taco or a slice of pizza, but you would be thinking wrong.

20140913_134909 Betty’s Pizza looks like Gidget met Jerry Garcia in Tijuana. I mean that in a good way, in case that isn’t clear. The space is super casual and covered in bright paint, surfboards, and quirky movie posters. This is a great spot for families – we saw a ton of kids there, coloring with crayons that the restaurant provides.  20140913_135124 However, if you want to come by for a slice or 2, just stop by the counter and get something to go.  20140913_141220 Betty’s chopped salad with hopped Iceberg, Hard-Boiled Eggs, Grilled Chicken, Mozzarella Cheese, and Roasted Red Peppers

This looks mundane and tastes AWESOME! Yes, the dressing is in a little prepackaged cup, but in Betty’s defense, Ken’s really is some of the greatest bottled dressing on the market. It’s creamy, properly funky, and doesn’t have any weird gummy texture that lesser blue cheese dressings have. The lettuce is finely shredded, the peppers must be roasted in house (they are silky and have a smoky flavor), and the chicken is juicy and still warm. The eggs are a little overcooked, but it’s still an excellent combination of flavors and textures and this take on a cobb salad is really tasty and a great counterpart to the pizza.
20140913_141612 Half sausage, half mushroom pizza

Really satisfying – and I’m saying this after 8 years of New York City pies. Thin, lightly burnished crust with a tangy, bright sauce and plenty of cheese. Teh mushroom pie is studded with meaty shrooms and the sausage half was gobbled so quickly that I didn’t even get a chance to try it…RUDE.  20140913_141756 A little pale, but still delicious.

Betty’s is the perfect lunch spot in Lenox. It’s quick, it’s cheap, and it’s so tasty. Get the longboard if you want 8 pieces of pie – and oh, you do.

Next up: Another morning, another brekfast

Otto’s Breakfast Deli and Church Street Bistro – Berkshires Break

After this weekend, I’m pretty sure I’m a yuppie from the movie Baby Boom. 

After all, I spent it in the Berkshires. 

This comfy, sleepy, totally relaxed section of Western MA is about 3 hours from NYC and though I didn’t find it as picturesque as Cape Cod or as foodie-centric as Maine – well, it was still a relaxing and pretty tasty weekend!

Check out our desserts at Church Street Cafe:

20140912_212104 Chocolate cake with espresso ice cream

As fudgy and familiar as you could hope. Dense and sweet, with a buttery, rather than bitter, finish. The espresso ice cream adds the pleasantly bitter edge that makes chocolate desserts so delicious on every flavor facet. It’s served warm, and the combination of moist cake and creamy, cold ice cream is pretty damned unbeatable. 
20140912_212111 Tiramisu

The lightest version of this dessert that I can remember. The mascarpone cheese is incredibly airy – it practically dissolves on the tongue. It has a light hand with the liquer, so the taste is mostly creamy, rich mascarpone which is not overwhelming, since it has been so aerated. The biscotti alongside is unmemorable, but if you love creamy desserts or tiramisu in general, this is one worth trying.
20140914_074803 We hit up Otto’s before we left town. It is a sweet little diner with the MOST kick ass wait staff (a million coffee refills, running outside to release the shade so the sun wouldn’t get in our eyes, offering substitutions and sharing plates without prompting…seriously, wonderful service) and a menu that is not especially memorable but especially well executed.
20140914_080242 Tomato and spinach two egg omelette with fruit plate

Not innovative, but well prepared and served quickly and with a smile and some hot sauce. The fruit alongside is fresh (the pineapple is especially delicious) and the pumpernickel toast is thick and pleasantly sour.

Next up: who wants pizza for lunch?

SoNo Seaport Seafood is So So Perfect for the Weekend

What to do when you have access to a car on a nice day in NYC:

1) Get the GPS

2) Get in the car

3)Drive to SoNo Seaport Seafood, only 1 hour outside the city, for a delicious seafood lunch on the water.

Sure, there are plenty of great lobster rolls and fish ‘n’ chips in the city, but very few of them have the room to spread out with a beer, some crayons for the kiddies, and a view like this:

20140823_113858 I mean, it’s nothing fancy, but that’s the charm of it. It’s a simple seafood market with an attached tavern that serves the freshest fish possible, in all the ways that you love it; ie, doused in butter and fried whenever possible.  20140823_113903 It’s the ideal place to have lunch with the family, because there is stuff for landlubbers as well as those of us who are more adventurous.  20140823_114838 Seafood bisque

Well, it just about puts clam chowder to shame. Pale pink and studded with tender lobster, tiny shrimp, and buttery pieces of scallop. It’s not as thick as a chowder - it’s a true bisque with a creamy but not super thick texture. There are soft potatoes in there and a slightly spicy backnote of crushed red pepper. However, it isn’t aggressively hot – just well spiced. If you like New England clam chowder, this may be the greatest thing you have ever tasted.  20140823_115232 Hot lobster roll

Until, that is, you try a Connecticut style lobster roll. These things are the best. Though not quite as delectable as the first rate version at Abott’s, this is wonderful. Large pieces of claw and knuckle meat dressed in plenty of clarified butter and served warm inside a toasted, top spit hot dog bun. You can get some of the excellent tartar sauce alongside if you need it, but you won’t need it. This is pure lobster taste. no mayo, no celery, no filler at all to get in the way – just all lobstah, no working for it. The lobster salad roll also looks good, but for the money, this one is where it’s at.
20140823_115245 Fries are generic, but since when are generic fries bad?

SoNo Seaport Seafood is a lovely and delicious weekend afternoon outside of the city. The prices can’t be beat, the service is great, the atmopshere is ideal, and the food…well, I cleaned my plate. Don’t miss the flaky fish and chips, either.

And there is a Ttarget only 7 miles away. So, happy Sunday indeed.

Locali in New Canaan and…a Guilty Pleasure

My sister is starring in Hairspray at Summer Theatre of New Canaan - yes, I know I’ve mentioned it before, but I figure that you might want to see her while she is still in a show where we can all afford tickets. I’m basically sure that Broadway is next.

But while you are in New Canaan, you might want something to eat.

Right in town, I highly recommend Thali or this new place we hit up, Locali. This lovely little restaurant has a breezy patio, friendly servers, and a menu of small and large Italian accented plates. The edamame Milanese, topped with garlicky breadcrumbs and the fried artichokes on punchy anchovy remoulade are both winners. However, if you come here, be sure to get some pizza.

20140720_151951 Hudson gem pizza with beet powder, goat cheese, and figs

Hit of the day, no question. The crust is whisper thin and crispy, with a puffy, airy crust at the edge that has plenty of charred spots. The pizza is covered in tangy goat cheese that is creamy and warm, with spots of sweet, juicy figs. The kicker is the beet powder – it’s so delicate that it has no texture, but it releases a deep, earthy taste that is unmistakably beet-like. This is the most fun twist on beets and goat cheese that I have had in awhile and it’s totally delicious. Sweet, savory, and vegetarian to boot!
20140720_151955 Ratatouille pizza

I mean, dontcha just love summer? That wonderful, tender-crisp crust covered in fresh, sweet tomato sauce (no heavy had with the oregano here, it’s all about the tomatoes), shaved zucchini and summer squash, grilled onions, and other fresh veggies. It’s doubtless made with whatever was fresh at the farmer’s market that morning and there is no way that our pizza is the same as the one that you would get if you ordered it next week  -maybe yours would have corn or zucchini blossoms. This is a garden on a crust. It greatly improved with the addition of some red pepper flakes, but then…what doesn’t?

I would go back to Locali in a heartbeat, and quite probably will.

Then, on the way home from the show, you may want to stop somewhere for dinner. Sure, you could get a steamed cheeseburger in Connecticut or maybe try Arthur Avenue in the Bronx…but, why would you, when you could go here:

20140720_195401 Luau salad at The Cheesecake Factory

Why, when I live in one of the greatest eating cities on earth, do I crave the mass produced crap was the only restaurant in town when I was growing up? It’s all generic salt and fat. It’s nothing local or seasonal. I highly doubt that it will ever win a Zagat rating, let alone a Michelin star. However…I just love The Cheesecake Factory. It reminds me of lunches with my aunt, of sliders with my best friend, and of being cool enough to drive myself to the mall. It’s so nostalgic that I can never resist it.

And unlike so many other memories, this one actually lives up to its former self each and every time. 

This salad is sweet and a little sour from the rice wine vinegar in the dressing. It’s thinly sliced chilled chicken, crunchy macadamia nuts, julienned bell peppers, and soft lettuce. And it’s those huge, crispy, fried and bad for you wontons. It’s kitschy, light, and indulgent – “Luau” is a perfectly apt name. I love this salad. All 19,459 calories of it. 
20140720_204724 I mean I didn’t eat this super sweet, brick like cheesecake studded with Oreos and loaded with preservatives. I didn’t eat the peanut butter cup version, either. 

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. 

The Ritz London: A Legend in its Own Time

The last hotel of our stay was one of the most beautiful hotels which I have ever frequented. It was the ever luxurious, ever personalized The Ritz hotel.

Sister to the famous Ritz in Paris, this  hotel has been privately owned since it opened in 1906, and its motto may well be “too much is never enough.”

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From the moment that you emerge from your taxi and a top-hatted doorman rushes to help you with your bags and usher you into the gold and pink lobby, your feet barely touch the floor. You are offered a small tour of the hotel, through its vast floral displays, its cherub-bedecked dining room, and the tea salon that spawned a thousand imitators. Of course, if you decline, you are whisked away to your room, wich is a jewel box.

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Each room is filled with fresh flowers and unique touches – an original drawing here, and antique vase there. The tones are soft and elegant mint and blue. The bed is thick and luxurious, with a soft mattress and a large king size – not so common in Europe.

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Our room came with a vanity table so delicate and beautiful that I felt bad sitting there before my makeup was applied.

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The bathroom is beautifully appointed, with a towel warmer (why don’t we have these stateside?!), a double vanity, and a shower tub combination with a supremely deep tub that is perfect for relaxing after a long day of museums and shopping (more shopping than museums, if I’m being honest).

The toiletries are Asprey…only the best for The Ritz. They are so delicious smelling that I gathered them up each time we entered the room and – lo and behold – each time I came back, they were dutifully replaced. I must have gotten 6 shampoos in 2 days.

Of course, you could always go for one of the shamancier suites:

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Beautiful bedroom…

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Complete with a sitting room…
DSC_1107 and a lovely view of Green Park.  DSC_1105

Objets d’art surround every private and public room in this hotel.

Not too shabby, right?

Of course, if you are a visiting sheik or got rich off of a Youtube video, you may want to check out the Royal Suite. This suite, housed in the recently acquired William Kent house is…rather extraordinary. Though I could say a lot, I might as well just let the pictures speak for themselves.

DSC_1118 The house, with its private, hidden entrance to the rest of The Ritz.
DSC_1121 Entering an incredible suite.  DSC_1126 Oh, you know, the plain ole drawing room, with a table big enough for 12 people.  DSC_1129 The loveliest round bedroom, overlooking Green Park.  DSC_1134 Fabulous dressing area. DSC_1135 Not too shabby, right? DSC_1136 A cool elevator, because who uses stairs to get places? DSC_1139 A mural painted when the home was bought by the Ritz and restored. It’s painted in keeping with the Georgian style of the house… DSC_1142 with one cheeky exception! DSC_1143 More drawing rooms in the Kent house complex… DSC_1145 Including a beautiful drawing room… DSC_1146 with a golden, sculptured ceiling that would rival the Sistine chapel itself.  DSC_1156 The gold, mint, and rose music room, where intimate weddings might be held.

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Every person we encountered was incredibly kind and seemed to actually want to be there. From the butler (obviously, each room has a butler) who brought us a welcome tray of hot coffee and biscuits when we checked in to the doorman who shared his favorite place for fish and chips (“not too posh, but it’s where me mates go for a bite after work”), everyone seemed so damned happy to see us. Even if they weren’t…okay! This is what sets the Ritz apart. The service. The ability to be called by name and feel as though you are visiting nobility who has stayed there for eons who happens to be passing through an old friend’s home on your way to the country.

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Plus, if you are on your honeymoon, you might get these delivered to your hotel room…

photo 1 (1) And this set up. Beyond romantic.

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So, while London is a great city, between the afternoon tea, the private club downstairs (private restaurant, cigar bar, and casino only for members of the club or guests at The Ritz…very 007), and the gorgeous rooms, you may have problems leaving your hotel.

The most British, most elegant, most over the top luxurious hotel that I could imagine. This is romantic to the hilt and you can’t help but fall in love with the city, the hotel, and your traveling partner.

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The perfect way to end a dreamy honeymoon.

Disclaimer: I was given a media rate. All of my opinions are my own and unbiased.

Delicious Bites in the Big Apple and Beyond

SO…

There are a few more honeymoon recaps (I know, we kept eating and staying at hotels…it would be worth it to get divorced and remarried JUST to get a second honeymoon!), but before I continue on, I wanted to let you know a few delicious dishes around town that can’t get lost in the vacay mix!

20140622_134029 Lunch buffet at Thali

This Indian restaurant in New Canaan (where my sister is currently starring as Tracy Turnblad in Hairspray!) is legit. I would never think to visit this pseudo Asian-fusion looking restaurant – it looks way to chi-chi and wine oriented to have really authentic Indian food – but wow, is it fantastic. The buffet is actually better than most order-from-the-menu Indian restaurants, and even more impressive, this covers food from all over the gigantic country of India. Feather light, made to order dosas filled with fenugreek scented mashed potatoes. Saag with creamy paneer, soft and spicy Manchurian cauliflower, and smoky, garlicky daal. The service is friendly and helpful and the food…once again…is dangerously delicious.

Wear spandex pants. image (5) Red Farm’s udon noodles with short ribs

This meal was embarrassingly disappointing, but the noodles were a bright spot. I would actually go back just for them. The noodles themselves are thick and chewy, with a wonderfully wheaty taste that is balanced by a sweet, salty sauce that is neither too cloying nor too bland. It’s like the greatest Cantonese lo mein of your youth, but with way better noodles and some light notes of cilantro and sweet sugar snap peas. Plus that beef…wow. So tender and mild that it almost seems like Wagyu – this really is “melt in your mouth.” Its an ideal match for the noodles because it doesn’t totally overwhelm the noodles’ natural taste. Totally memorable.

cheesy garlic bread Cheesy garlic bread at Bistro le Steak

This neighborhood joint is a reliable, if slightly overpriced eatery that is just fine if you are in the neighborhood and want a quick, reliable, tasty bite. However, if you want to really indulge in a guilty pleasure, order the cheesy garlic bread. This stuff is just awesome drunk food served in a sober setting. Garlicky, buttery, parsley flecked bread, toasted until it is crunchy and warm. Then, it’s served on a mild, Gorgonzola fondue that is salty and just funky enough to please blue cheese lovers. It’s super indulgent and although I could easily eat this entire plate, you might want to share it as an appetizer. 

Then again, you might not. That would make me like you more. 

Oia Castle Suites – A Shining Moment of Perfection

There are hotels. There are honeymoons. And then, there are moments where you have to pinch yourself to remember that all of this is real, that it is life, and that it is your life. And that, for one moment in time, it seems like all of your dreams and wishes have crossed paths.

That’s what it’s like staying at the Oia Castle Suites in Santorini.

20140503_191459 When you drive up to the pedestrian town of Oia, cars are not allowed to proceed past the post office. So, your car drops you there and a man (who looks like a mortal but is clearly a G-d with Herculean strength) straps all of your luggage to a small dolly… 20140503_191931(0) and then wheels it down the (seemingly endless) steps to the cliff side hotel, where you check in in our room. As he parts the throngs of people crowded to let you pass, you can’t help but feel like King Ali Ababwa. It’s weird and incredibly cool at the same time.

DSC_0457 We stayed in the Eros suite, and after the exceptional hotel staff (small but mighty, efficient, helpful, and enthusiastic…I can’t stay enough about the incredible people who work here) checked us in on our own shaded balcony, we left to explore the room.
DSC_0432 We stayed in one of Santorini’s famed cave hotels – our hotel, comprised of just a few rooms, is literally located on the side of a cliff. That’s right, we did this deluxe Flinstone’s style. The hotel is privately owned, and rumor has it that the owner stocks the room with furniture and art from his personal collection. The effect is charming and personalized – you really feel like you are staying in someone’s home. DSC_0431 Cave bed

Literally, the ONLY downside to the hotel. And it’s so minor that I hesitate to call it a downside. Because you are in…well…a cave (with wifi and cable – so surreal!), the sheets are always VERY slightly damp. The bed is nestled into a nook carved out of solid stone and instead of fitted sheets, there are flat sheets folded under the sides of the bed. That means that when you roll over in the night, you will take some sheet with you and will probably wake up on bare mattress. And you will be turning…that mattress is thin. Look, we didn’t’ sleep the best at this hotel. But we didnt’ care, either! We came back in the heat of the afternoon and napped. We lounged on our padded terrace benches. Long story short – the not-great bed is worth it. The hotel is so exceptional that it couldn’t be MORE worth it.
20140505_221032 Yes, that’s an image of Eros himself emerging from the seas on our closet. Yes, that’s a rococo style mirror on the wall.

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Yes, that’s another shower that turns into a steam cabin, this time with changing lights like in a limo that you take to prom. Yes, I love it ALL.

But not as much as I love this:

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Oh yes, that’s another private pool. This time, it’s huge, indoor, and carved into the cave. Also heated. Big enough for 4 people to splash and play “horse”. Deep enough to swim in, shallow enough to not sink in.

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It’s the most luxurious feeling in the world…slipping into a pool in the middle of the day and – wait for it – turning on the JETS right for a midnight dip before bed. It couldn’t be more beautiful or luxurious.

And speaking of beautiful, check this out:

20140503_194252 There are only a handful of hotels in Oia that have a direct sunset view, and Oia Castle Suites is, unquestionably, the best of that bunch. Oia’s sunset is world-famous, and every day, people line up 2 hours ahead of time at the tip of the island just to see the sun sink into the sea. They have to crowd and bundle up and stretch their aching legs for 20 minutes of glory.

Or, you know, they saunter out onto heir balcony whenever they damn well feel like it, pop a bottle of champers, and watch the circus and the sunset from their comfy seats.

I literally hate myself.

But oh damn I loved this feature of the hotel. This is worth the price of admission. You never have to beg for a sunset view at a restaurant, you never have to line up early, and you never have to even put shoes on.

Plus, the sunset really is extraordinary.

20140504_094931 Though the restaurant is clearly way too small to have a restaurant, there is a delicious breakfast served in your room every day. Just order it the night before and the next morning, feast on fresh muesli, farm fresh eggs scrambled with ham, and peeled cucumbers with sweet tomatoes and salty feta cheese. Dip flaky cheese and spinach pastries into dill-scented tzatziki, and for PETE’S SAKE, please eat that yogurt. This yogurt was the best of the entire trip. Insanely dense and creamy, with as slightly tart taste that counteracts the honey soaked, candied grapes that burst with sugar upon your tongue. This breakfast is one of which I could never tire.

Why am I not still here? The location is ideal – views of the sunset and steps away from the best restaurants and shops on the island. The little touches like a bedside espresso machine and speakers inside the pool make it an almost surreal retreat. You are in a cave that is thousands of years old with air conditioning and luxury Korres bath products…like, really? The prices aren’t cheap, but you get what you pay for at this hotel. The staff could not be more helpful or responsive to emails, the breakfast is scrumptious, and the combination of total isolation, ultimate luxury, and access to fabulous restaurants. I can’t recommend this hotel enough for the honeymoon of a lifetime.

It’s Camelot in Greece. It’s fleeting, but the beauty and the memories last forever.

Disclaimer: I was given a media rate at this hotel. My opinions are unbiased and my own. Don’t miss this stop…it was unbelievable. 

The Mykonos…Grand?

Oh, and now is where we are going to sound ridiculous.

Because this hotel that I am about to show you is beautiful. White and blue and sparkling clean. A Mediterranean paradise.

And yet, it was my least favorite of the trip.

I mean…#firstworldproblems, anyone?

20140501_141825 I mean, with a view like this, it’s no wonder that the Mykonos Grand is heralded as the chicest, most luxurious resort on the island. It’s just a stone’s throw from the quaint beach town of Ornos, and it’s just 10 minutes from Mykonos town by taxi or the resort’s free shuttle, operated every 20 minutes from the early to the late evening. It’s a huge, sprawling resort that is built on 3 levels – prepare to take several elevators to get from your room to the pool or from the beach to the front lobby. The weather is always gorgeous and the most important thing about Mykonos is to relax, so it’s a total pleasure.  20140501_144836 Each room is treated to a bottle of sparkling wine from Italy. It’s similar to Lambrusco – garnet colored with a creamy, almost thick texture and a very fruity flavor. It’s the kind of drink that starts your night off well and ends with a couple of aspirin before bed.

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The shower here turns into a steam cabin, too…why don’t we have more of these in the USA?! What a treat!

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Oh, and don’t forget to eat the baklava on the counter. It might look like prepackaged stuff from the corner store, and maybe it is, but…whoa. Sticky, sweet, flaky, buttery, nutty…can you tell that I like this stuff? The mastic liquor next to it is a little syrupy and pine-y for my tastes, but not bad if you need a little zip before dinner…where of course you will drink even more.

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Please forgive the messy state of the room…I never got a picture of it before it was messed up! As you can see, it is breezy and light, with everything from a telescope to view the stars to several flat screen televisions (one in the adjoining front living room), and…

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A double balcony with insane views.

Don’t stay up there, all day, though!

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You don’t want to miss the glorious pool. Its unheated, as many large pools in Greece are, but if it’s too chili, you can always jump into the hot tub or just sit on the large lounges or cabanas and enjoy the view.

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Be sure to check out the gorgeous bar, too.

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Or head down to the (teeny, tiny) private beach. However, there are better beaches all over Mykonos and if you want to be a beach bum, it might be better to take a short trek to one of them.

And now we come to the…iffy parts of the hotel. The parts of the hotel that are totally fine, but for the price that you pay…aren’t totally fine. If ya get my drift.

20140501_145005 The Jacuzzi built for 2…Olsen twins? I mean, who could fit into this thing? It barely fit me comfortably, and though I’m tall, I’m not a giant or anything. It also doesn’t look over the ocean, as the website shows. Not false advertising, but not entirely clear, either. 
20140502_095632 The breakfast buffet is large, but not the best quality. The dried fruits are exceptional and so is the halvah, but the general feeling is quantity over quality.  20140502_101151 Also, you have to kind of request the champagne…it isn’t offered to you and even though it’s advertised as a “champagne breakfast,” it really isn’t pushed on you like it is at the Mykonos Grace. And this is one time that you want the servers to be pushy! 20140502_101624 Though it doesn’t show it, the restaurant also gets insanely crowded.

The real reason that this hotel gets a few points off is service. It’s kind and they do anything that you ask, but…you have to ask. I know, this is really picky, but the hotel is extremely expensive. It was more expensive than our room at other hotels where there were pools, like…in the room. Where we were met by people who hand carried our luggage and made us grilled cheese sandwiches at midnight. Here, we had to ask for things at least once, sometimes more, and once, someone came into our room while we had the do not disturbing on because he wanted to replace the room service menu without having to return when it would be inconvenient for him. Not the greatest customer service. Pair that with the diminutive Jacuzzi, subpar breakfast buffet, and rather dinky beach, and you have a hotel that is good, but not grand.

If you want a full service resort, this might be the choice for you. If you care less about a magnificent public pool and want service that is way above par, head to the Mykonos Grace. Or the exceptional hotel that we stayed at in Santorini.