travel

The Rembrandt hotel in London

James and I just got back from Europe on Monday – we were in London for a friend’s wedding and then went to Paris for our “babymoon.” I put “babymoon” in quotes because we would’ve gone to Paris even if I wasn’t pregnant ;).

I wanted to write down some of the highlights of our trip (plus a few tips/reminders for next time!) before I forget.

To prevent each post from being too long, I’ll divide each city into 3 parts: hotel, landmarks & food/transportation.

Starting with our hotel in London…

In London, we stayed at The Rembrandt in South Kensington for 4 nights. We deliberated a lot on which hotel to stay at because we liked how The Rembrandt included free breakfast but the pictures of the hotel interior & rooms didn’t look that appealing to us – everything was red! Red carpet, red curtains, red pillows, etc. We ended up taking a chance on The Rembrandt anyway because we heard that food was expensive in London so we figured it’d be worth the cost savings and we were SO GLAD we took that chance!

The hotel ended up being a LOT nicer than the pictures and the free breakfast was pretty amazing. There were a lot of food options to choose from: cereals, croissants/toast/muffins, a salad/fruit bar/yogurt bar and a station with hot foods like scrambled eggs, different kinds of sausages (the veggie sausage was my favorite!), grilled tomatoes… and there was also someone making fresh customized omelets. The ambiance of the restaurant was also really nice – high ceilings, large windows, comfortable tables and chairs, etc.

Our hotel room was very clean and comfortable and I think pretty spacious for European standards (or at least compared to our hotel in Paris). The bathtub even had jets, which we didn’t get around to using. But definitely nice to have if you’re into taking baths!

The best part about the hotel though (for us, at least) was the free smartphone that they provided. James and I only bought a SIM card for his phone because my iPhone was locked (more on this later) so having a second phone was a HUGE help. To conserve battery on James’ phone, we would use the hotel phone to look up directions, search for restaurants, etc. and there were a couple of times where we’d split up for a few hours to do our own thing and didn’t have to worry about how to get in touch with one another because we could each have a phone.

The location was also really nice and convenient. The Rembrandt is located right across from the V&A Museum and a bus stop. If you wanted to take the Underground (aka The Tube), it was only a 5 minute walk from the hotel. Near the Underground was also a lot of restaurants and dessert places. And even though the hotel was near a lot of landmarks (the V&A Museum, the Science Museum, the Natural History Museum, Kensington Gardens and Harrods), it felt less like a tourist spot and more like a residential neighborhood.

I would give this hotel a 5 out of 5 stars and would definitely consider staying there again. The only reason why we would stay at another hotel is if we wanted to try living in a different neighborhood next time.

travel

one year anniversary in the Bahamas

{view from our hotel room}
{view from our hotel room}

For our one year anniversary, we decided to celebrate by taking a short trip to the Bahamas.  To keep things simple, we chose to stay at an all-inclusive resort: Sandals Royal Bahamian.

It was our first time staying at a Sandals resort and we were really happy with our decision.  They run like a well-oiled machine.  After we landed, we went to the Sandals booth inside the airport and they knew exactly who we were.  Within minutes, we were on the complimentary shuttle that took us to the hotel.  When we checked in, they upgraded us to an ocean-view room for free, where a bottle of red wine and cheese & fruit platter was waiting for us along with a personalized note.  All the services they provided were on time: the ferry that took you to and from the private island, the different classes and activities they held, the shuttles, etc.  The staff was very efficient and friendly, always saying “hi” when you walked by and most of them do a great job of remembering your name!

One of the best things about Sandals (besides the unlimited food & drinks, of course!) is that they provide all sorts of equipment for you to use for free.  The only ones we had time to take advantage of were paddleboarding and sailing.  We were planning to snorkel but the day we wanted to go ended up being too windy so they weren’t renting out any snorkels for safety reasons.  I believe kayaks and hydro-bikes were also available to guests.

You also have the option of signing up for off-site excursions at the hotel, which is really convenient, especially if you didn’t have time to book anything in advance or wanted to wait and see what the weather was like and what you were in the mood for that day.  Excursions are with third-parties so they will be an additional cost.  Since we didn’t want to spend too much money, we only did one excursion: snorkeling with Stuart Cove’s, where we got to snorkel with tropical fishes and reef sharks!  (Warning: if you decide to buy fish food to feed the fish, you might get bitten like I did!)  We were extremely satisfied with this excursion, especially for the price.  It was $91 per person, while swimming with dolphins was $240 per person and swimming with pigs was $400 per person!

So, if you’re considering taking a tropical vacation soon, I highly recommended checking out the Bahamas and staying at the Sandals resort!  We definitely plan on coming back and staying a couple days longer next time.