Is Brunch in the Clouds at the St. Regis the Best Brunch in Abu Dhabi?

Is Brunch in the Clouds at the St. Regis the Best Brunch in Abu Dhabi?

Today we have a review from our occasional contributor/expat at large, Dianna, on the Brunch in the Clouds at the St. Regis Hotel in Abu Dhabi that she experienced last month.  Read on and see if you agree with her that it’s the best brunch in Abu Dhabi.

My review in a word:  Amazing. I’ve done a lot of awesome things in my time living in the Middle East, but Brunch in the Clouds at the St. Regis Abu Dhabi took the brunch concept to a whole another level. After years of hardcore brunching, I can totally say with complete expertise that Brunch in the Clouds is the best brunch in Abu Dhabi.

Best Brunch in Abu Dhabi at The Brunch in the Clouds St Regis Abu Dhabi

You could have fed a small army at this brunch.

Where is the Brunch in the Clouds?

Brunch in the Clouds is held in the suspended suite between the two towers that make up the St. Regis Abu Dhabi.  The St. Regis Abu Dhabi is located on the Corniche with fabulous views overlooking the gulf.  The suite is a duplex on the 48th and 49th floors. It’s the highest suspended suite in the world at 220 metres at sea level. With a total capacity for 50 people, it is held on the last Friday of each month.

Best Brunch in Abu Dhabi at The Brunch in the Clouds St Regis Abu Dhabi

The view from the Brunch in the Clouds

Why Is It The Best Brunch in Abu Dhabi?

The luxe experience starts when your very own butler whisks you up your private elevator up to the suite. You get a quick tour so you know where things are.

The Suite

You can continue to explore the 12,000 s.f. suite during the brunch.  Wow!  The suite is 3 bedrooms and 4 and 1/2 bathrooms and staff quarters. The pace was so big I realised I never got around to seeing the master bedroom. What I didn’t expect?  The cinema, the bar, the spa, the jazz band serenade etc.

Best Brunch in Abu Dhabi at The Brunch in the Clouds St Regis Abu Dhabi

The cinema room also doubled as the candy room – multitasking at is best.

Best Brunch in Abu Dhabi at The Brunch in the Clouds St Regis Abu Dhabi

You could stop off for a romantic bath mid-brunch if you so wished.

The table is exquisitely set with fresh flowers, crystal, china and silverware. Delicious food and champagne. And, the views over the city and the Gulf are to die for! The whole thing is a delightful extravagance which can only happen in the Middle East.

Best Brunch in Abu Dhabi at The Brunch in the Clouds St Regis Abu Dhabi

I didn’t even know where to start with all these desserts to pick from.

The Spread

During the brunch, you have chef stations serving up food, a cocktail bar, candy in the cinema room, a cheese and desert room, a caviar bar and an oyster room.  If you are feeling too content to get up and go to the buffet, there is also waiter service that brings around other (different) main courses to you at your table. It’s the best of both worlds – a buffet where no one is judging how  much you take and the lazy person’s beautifully plated dishes.

Best Brunch in Abu Dhabi at The Brunch in the Clouds St Regis Abu Dhabi

Please sir… may I have some more?

Obviously you need great food to make Brunch in the Clouds the best brunch in Abu Dhabi. I felt though the fabulous spread was just an additional bonus to all the extras provided. I mean, of course, the food was great.

Best Brunch in Abu Dhabi at The Brunch in the Clouds St Regis Abu Dhabi

Cocktails anyone?

Best Brunch in Abu Dhabi at The Brunch in the Clouds St Regis Abu Dhabi

The stairs up to the master bedroom suite. Can you believe I didn’t even make it up there?

Best Brunch in Abu Dhabi at The Brunch in the Clouds St Regis Abu Dhabi

A gin trolley because … why not?

Spa Treatments and Other Extras

In between courses, you can step out for a manicure and a massage in the private spa room. The therapists are from the St. Regis Spa downstairs.

 

Best Brunch in Abu Dhabi at The Brunch in the Clouds St Regis Abu Dhabi

The brunch massages were conducted by the St. Regis spa staff.

Best Brunch in Abu Dhabi at The Brunch in the Clouds St Regis Abu Dhabi

This room is where we had our manicures during brunch.

Practical Information For Brunch in the Clouds

Brunch in the Clouds started in April 2016 and has been so popular it already has a 6 month waiting list.  I never plan anything that far in advance but I got lucky on the Friday before Christmas.  It’s always worth a try if you are in Abu Dhabi.

Best Brunch in Abu Dhabi at The Brunch in the Clouds St Regis Abu Dhabi

When the setting is this fabulous, even the best brunch spread takes second place.

Unfortunately, no kids are allowed in the Brunch in the Clouds experience.  The prices are pretty reasonable for all that you get – AED 500 (approximately $136) or AED 750 (approximately $200).  The brunch lasts a leisurely 5 hours from noon until 5 pm.  Where else can you take a nap in the middle of your brunch??

I loved the suite so much that I bought a night in the suite at an auction 😂 Yikes. I have 6 months to use it and might throw a party for my birthday. The suite typically costs $30,000 per night. I paid a lot less and the money goes to charity (UNICEF). I consider that a win/win. Besides, I’ve got to get back to see that master suite! I’ve heard the walk-in closet is amazing.

Brunch in the Clouds is available at the St. Regis Abu Dhabi.  Make sure it is the one at the Corniche and not the one at Saadiyat Island because there are 2 St. Regis hotels in Abu Dhabi.

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10 Things I learned About St. James’s London

10 Things I learned About St. James’s London

On a fine Sunday afternoon, the last of the warm and bright summer days, the kids and I decided to wander into central London for a walking tour involving history and sweet treats.  We took the Piccadilly and Petits Four walking tour of the neighbourhood around St. James’s London with Yannick Pucci.  Yannick is not only a tour guide at the British Museum but he also runs his own tours through London Unravelled.

The Piccadilly and Petits Fours Walking Tour

Our tour group was small which made visiting places easy.  It turned out to be just me, the kids, Yannick and Angie from Silverspoon London.

st. james's London tour of pica dilly and petits fours

You meet Yannick near the entrance to Green Park as you exit from the Green Park tube station.  Unlike other tours I’ve been on, the meeting point was very easy to find.  The tour covers a relatively small area but it is packed full of interesting places and history.

The petits fours portion of the tour lets you try out some of the internationally-renowned sweet treats that the area has to offer such as French macarons, English chocolates and Japanese wagashi confectionary.

St. James’s London Trivia

I don’t want to give too much away about the tour (trust me, Yannick is a font of knowledge) but I love trivia.  I thought I’d share my favourite pieces of trivia from the area around St. James’s London.

In no particular order, did you know:

  • Green Park has no flowers because Catherine of Braganza ordered all the flowers ripped up when her husband, Charles II, picked some flowers from the park to take to his mistress.  Charles was a known womaniser but this thoughtless behaviour was too close to Catherine’s home.  Literally.  Green Park at that time would have been part of the royal palace grounds.
St. James's London Green Park

Lots of green at Green Park but no flowers.

  • Before it became Green Park, the area was a graveyard for lepers.  Henry VII built St. James’s Palace where the leper hospital, dedicated to St. James, had been located.  And, property values immeasurably skyrocketed.
  • Piccadilly was originally named Portugal Street in honour of Catherine of Braganza.  Maybe Charles II was trying to placate his wife after the mistress incident.
  • Mr. Fortnum of Fortnum & Mason fame made his fortune by recycling Queen Anne’s candles.  Queen Anne insisted on fresh candles every day and so her old candles were thrown out even if they were still usable.
st. James's London

The grocery store where you send your butler to pick up some sugar.

  • The Georgian male fashion plate, Beau Brummell,  was credited with bringing in the modern fashion for a 3 piece suit.  Even though he favoured an understated, elegance, it still took him 5 hours a day to get dressed.  I can only imagine how long it took to achieve the artfully tousled curls in his hair as shown on his statue.
st. James's London

Even the London pigeons are afraid of Beau Brummel’s haughtiness.

  • These beautiful mews houses are used by the Stafford Hotel for people who want a long-term stay in London.  They started off as the stables for the fancy houses of the aristocrats in the neighbourhood.
st. James's London

This charming courtyard used to be stables.

  • Some of the streets around Piccadilly still have some of the original gas lamps from Victorian times.
st. James's London

A glass lamp flickering on a side street

  • The Embassy of Texas was in an alley behind Berry Brothers wine merchants for the four years that Texas was an independent republic.
st. James's London

The Texas Embassy chose their location well.

  • One of the prototypes for the famous British red phone boxes is tucked into the entryway of the Royal Arcade.  The phone box is listed on the historic register.
st. James's London

The winner of the design for London’s telephone box

  • Burlington Arcade was created next door to Burlington House (now the Royal Academy) so that people would stop littering in the alley next door to the house.

Our Verdict of the Tour

We had a really good time!  The tour was fairly fast-paced even though it the area around St. James’s London is pretty small. I discovered all these random side passages to get between places.  In addition, there were enough snack breaks and interesting historical anecdotes to keep my kids interested.

You can book tickets for this tour through Event Brite.  The tour costs £15 per person and lasts approximately 2 1/2 hours.  You get 5 tastings included in the price. You should wear comfy shoes as there is a fair bit of walking. The tour begins and ends near Green Park Tube.

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This post is linked with #MondayEscapes and Travel Tales.

My Travel Monkey
It’s Morning Glory in Edgartown Anytime

It’s Morning Glory in Edgartown Anytime

Morning Glory Farm in Edgartown is a bit of an institution on the island of Martha’s Vineyard, an island off the coast of Cape Cod in Massachusetts.  Although billed as a humble farm stand, Morning Glory has the reputation and faithful clientele that would make any high-end gourmet food store proud.

Morning Glory farm farm stand

The barn/farm stand

The farm was started in 1975 on land owned by the Athearn family who have lived on the Vineyard since the 19th century.  Starting off with a farm stand, by 2010 business was thriving enough that a newly-built barn replaced the original structure.  They farm over 120 acres over several sites on the island.  The farm produces a wide variety of crops, herbs and cut flowers.

Morning Glory flowers

Rustic chic flowers

We are lucky we live near Morning Glory Farm and stop by the farm stand often.  I am in the habit of getting their ice tea and a muffin for breakfast after I drop my children off at horse-riding camp nearby. My favourite are the corn muffins followed closely by the peach muffins (in case you are wondering).

Martha’s Vineyard is such a small island that the farm where my children take their riding lessons is located near some of the Athearn family land in West Tisbury.  The horse farm sends off its manure to fertilise the Morning Glory farm crops.

The farm stand’s zucchini bread is deservedly famous for being delicious.  You can find the zucchini bread recipe here at Cape Cod Magazine if you feel inclined to try it out.  I heard grumbling in line in front of me the other day when one woman was complaining to another that the zucchini bread was not as good as it used to be.  Definitely, first world problems.

Morning Glory farm stand

Branded merchandise and books

I thought the best way to introduce Morning Glory Farm to you was with a vlog. It’ll give you a short tour of the farm stand and all the delicious products inside.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QMIfIPPbdy8]

Morning Glory Farm is located on the corner of Meshacket Road and the Edgartown-West Tisbury Road.  It is open 7 days a week.

Morning Glory Farm in Edgartown in Martha's Vineyard sells the best farm fresh produce on the island

Summer in London:  A Taste of London

Summer in London: A Taste of London

Summer in London for me invariably means going to A Taste of London in Regents Park.  My friend and I have been regular attendees at this four-day food festival since it kicked off in 2004. Usually we go to one of the evening sessions for dinner with our husbands.

This year we ditched our husbands for a lunch instead.  In all honesty, our husbands were cramping our style.  They would show up late from work and then insist on having only burgers, such as the foie gras burger from Opera Tavern.  Drinks were limited to beer and conversation to complaining about work.  Boring.

This year’s A Taste of London happened last week.  The weather was pretty good – occasional glimpses of sun were spotted.  Definitely better than previous years where on occasion it has bucketed down with rain.  It is an English summer after all.

All that intermittent sunshine called for drinks!

We skipped the Bloody Mary class at the Ketel One Vodka Bloody Mary workshop and went straight to the drink.  Who wants to learn when I’ve ditched the family and have a free sunny afternoon? Certainly not moi.

Bloody Mary

Then there was the Havana Club who wanted to teach you how to make mojitos.  What’s up with all this learning?  Just give me the drink, for heaven’s sake.

Havana Club Mojito

What would summer in England be without Pimms? Just another rainy day.

Pimms on tap

Let’s not forget Lovo – a new drink I tried for the first time which is coconut water mixed with vodka.  It was delicious and low in calories.  My kind of combination.

Lovo drink

I also loved the Lychee Cooler (Grey Goose, Lychee juice and coconut milk) from SushiSamba.

Sushi Samba Lychee cooler

Just in case you thought all we did was drink, we also nibbled our way through a delicious sampling of food from some of London’s best restaurants.  There was the pulled pork sausage roll from Chop Shop, crusted prawns from the Modern Pantry, roast duck and mantou bun from Chai Wu, and bacon-wrapped dates and manchego from Duck & Waffle.

A Taste of London

The Spanish restaurant Ametsa with Arzak Instruction loves their Iberico ham so much they gave it a bread pillow.  All ham should be so lucky, but then not all ham is served up by a one Michelin star restaurant.

Attachment-1-62

This picture I tweeted about the black cod and crayfish dumplings from Roka won a prize.  Fortune favours the tipsy and gluttonous.

Roka dumplings

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I’ve linked up with The Lifestyle Diaries for this month’s London Living blog hop.

7 Things You Didn’t Know About Sacher Torte

7 Things You Didn’t Know About Sacher Torte

In my family, we really appreciate a good chocolate cake.  We were definitely in our element in Vienna which has a well-deserved reputation for having lots of sweet treats on offer.  Just about everyone has heard of the  famous chocolate cake, Sacher Torte, which was the first of the great Viennese cakes.

The Sacher Torte is a chocolate cake made with dark chocolate and a thin layer of apricot jam.  The top and sides of the cake are covered with chocolate icing. It is usually accompanied by unsweetened whipped cream on the side.  You are supposed to eat the cake with a dollop of cream with each bite.  The dryness of the chocolate cake is tempered by the cream.

sacher torte

Here are seven fun facts about this most recognised of Viennese cakes:

  • In 1832 Prince Metternich ordered his staff to create a special dessert for a banquet. He wanted something manly very unlike the fluffy cream cakes that were popular at the time. Unfortunately the chef came down with the flu.  His 16 year old apprentice, Franz Sacher, stepped into the breach and created the famous chocolate cake that would go on to bear his name.
  • Franz Sacher’s son, Eduard Sacher, went on to start the Hotel Sacher.  By the mid 19th century, the Hotel Sacher was shipping 100,000 of these cakes around the world annually.
  • Today, the Hotel Sacher ships around 360,000 of those cakes around the world.  These cakes are still hand-made by a bevy of hotel kitchen staff.  Making all these cakes requires (i) 1.2 million eggs, (ii) 80 tons of sugar, (iii) 70 tons of sugar, (iv) 37 tons of apricot jam, (v) 25 tons of butter and (vi) 30 tons of flour.  Yowza!

Hotel Sacher Torte

  • The origins of the original Sacher Torte though were subject to dispute because Eduard Sacher perfected his father’s Sacher Torte while he was working at the official Imperial bakery, Demel.  Demel claimed they had the original Sacher Torte.  The dispute between Demel and Hotel Sacher lasted until the 20th century. Of course, for the sake of completeness we had a taste test of Demel’s cakes, too.
  • Apparently Austria’s answer to Princess Diana, the beautiful yet unhappy Empress Sisi had a Sacher Torte sent to her every day. Despite the daily dose of chocolate cake, Empress Sisi was still fairly miserable with her lot and met a tragic end.
  • December 5th is National Sacher Torte day. Now you know!
  • The Hotel Sacher keeps its original hand-written recipe secret in a safe.  People have claimed that its the chocolate icing which makes the hotel’s version special.  The icing is supposedly made from a blend of 3 different chocolates from Belgium and Germany.

We, of course, tried several variations of the Sacher Torte throughout Vienna.  Which one did we like in our family?  Our family opinion was divided but it’s safe to say that the children didn’t really like Sacher Torte.

Esterhazy Torte

My children decided they preferred another cake created for another Austro-Hungarian aristocrat, Prince Esterhazy.  The Esterhazy torte is made of buttercream sandwiched between layers of spongecake with a white glazing on top.  I personally thought it was sickly sweet.

On the plus side, that just meant more Sacher Torte for me!