Hip Hotels ~ The Gourmet Stay, Wellington, New Zealand…

So…where to stay in wonderful Wellington? Well I’ve found you the perfect hotel.

The Gourmet Stay is a hip hotel in Te Aro, right in the centre of Wellington city. It is just a short stroll to Cuba Street, Te Papa Museum and all the interesting sights of central Wellington.

The Gourmet stay is located above a gorgeous little café in Frederick Street. You can have your breakfast in the café in the morning which is heavenly. The café also leaves little muffins and cakes out after it closes for hotel patrons to have with a complimentary cup of tea or coffee.

The Gourmet Stay has 10 rooms of varying type. The rooms are simple yet fresh and comfortable. The heating and heated towel rails make it lovely and cosy in winter. The rooms range from $120 NZD which is very good value for the centre of Wellington.

Delightful Holly helped us with all our questions and needs and made us feel right at home.

The Gourmet Stay

25 Frederick Street


Phone : 0064 04 8016800

The Gourmet stay is perfectly located to give you a base to explore and enjoy Wellington. I do hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

Lakshmi’s Indian Hotel picks ~ The Old Courtyard, Fort Cochin…

“Wherever I lay my hat that’s my home “…Marvin Gaye

I love the words to this song. Obviously when you travel you don’t want your hotel to be just like home otherwise you would never travel at all. However, when I travel, the hotels I stay in are my “home” for those few days. I don’t need the perfection of five-star hotels but I do look for certain things to make my stay perfect.

  • Cleanliness is top of the list. I don’t mind a little faded and jaded as long as it is clean.
  • Safe and secure.
  • Character is very important. I love staying at places with little details that catch the eye.
  • Location is the key to getting the most out of your stay.
  • Great staff are the icing on the cake that complete your stay.

If you are visiting Fort Cochin in Kerala, India The Old Courtyard ticks all these boxes. The character filled heritage building is located right in the heart of Fort Cochin in Princess Street (just around the corner from the Kashi Art Cafe). It’s rooms are light and airy and filled with quaint old antiques and crisp white bed-linen. My room overlooked the lovely lush courtyard and I could lie on my bed and watch squirrels chasing each other on the roof tops.

The tasty breakfast was included and the menu changed each day. The staff here were so friendly and chatty and were eager to help us with anything we needed.

After a few days at the perfect Old Courtyard Hotel I really was wishing it was my home…

Magical Madurai…

If you are travelling to South India make sure that magical Madurai is on your itinerary. Madurai is one of the oldest cities in India and is full of wonderful sights. My “must sees” in Madurai are:

  1. Sri Meenakshi-Sundareshwara Temple…This temple is well worth the visit with its massive gopuras and statues. It is one of the largest temple complexes in all India. Be prepared for a queue to get in as it is a very popular destination for Indian tourists. Every day anywhere between 15,000-20,000 people pass through its front gates. It is open daily from 5am-12.30pm and between 4-8.30pm.
  2. Thirumalai Nayak Palace…Only one-quarter of this palace still survives. It has two eighteen metre high rows of columns on either side of the palace which are amazing to walk through. An old museum and many stone statues are housed in an adjoining hall and garden. I really recommend the wonderful light show (in English at 6.45pm nightly). This show depicts the Tamil saga of the “Heavenly Pavillion” and was very entertaining.
  3. Gandhi Memorial Museum…This is a well organised museum which depicts India’s history and the life of Mahatma Gandhi. When travelling to the museum you cross over a large bridge. On your return ask the driver to take you on the lower road under the bridge ~ this will give you a great view of Madurai’s washing being done on the banks of the Vaigai river. Vast lines sway with coloured clothing as far as the eye can see.
  4. Puthu Mandapam…This pillared hall can be found at the eastern side of the Sri Meenakshmi Temple. Here you can buy fabrics and waiting tailors will whip you up an outfit within the hour. I got a lovely white shirt made for 200 rupees.

We stayed at the Park Plaza Hotel located at 114-115 West Perumal Maistry Street, Madurai. It is a mid range Indian hotel that is very clean and well located just a short auto-rickshaw ride from the temple area. The great thing about this hotel is that the rate includes breakfast and dinner. We loved eating here as the food was tasty and  the menu extensive.

Hip and happening Hobart…

Battery Point ~ Hobart

Well Rahul is cooing like a puffed out pigeon and he has every right to as his mystery destination is everything he hoped for and more…
The destination is… Tasmania, Australia and the Apple Isle is definitely living up to its reputation!
We arrived into Hobart through a thick bank of cloud to a lovely mild day. After picking up our hire car we headed the 20kms into Hobart city to our divine hotel ~ The Islington .

Our room

The divine morning tea at The Islington
After checking in and having a lovely morning tea in the conservatory we headed off to explore Hobart. We headed straight to Salamanca Wharf right on the Derwent River. Here you look over the moored boats and yachts to the hills beyond.

Jack Greene Tavern

We had a very tasty lunch at the atmospheric Jack Greene Tavern. Make sure you sit upstairs amongst the books and memorabilia. It has a great relaxed feel and our waiter was so helpful about Tasmanian places of interest.

Our lunch at Jack Greene

Located at the Salamanca Wharf are lots of quirky and cute shops showcasing unique Tasmanian fine art and design. Look out for The Maker and Spacebar Gallery.
We then headed just around the corner to Battery Point.

Battery Point quaint houses…

Battery point is a darling pocket of Hobart with cute houses, handkerchief size divine public gardens and sweet little shops.

We had a divine milky chai at the Pollen Tea Room. The great guy there grinds his own chai paste and it was individual and memorable.

We then popped in next door to the gorgeous Lionhart boutique.

This extremely tasteful little shop sells quirky jewellery, vintage clothing pins, Tasmanian knick knacks and pillowcases. The delightful girl there also recommended some other shops to discover…yippee.
After all that retail therapy and eating we decided to visit Mt. Wellington. It is only a short, but very windy, drive from the centre of Hobart.

The view down over Hobart from Mt. Wellington

Mt. Wellington is 1270 metres above sea level and the temperature is much cooler once you are up there. They have a wonderful lookout which gives you a superb view over Hobart and its surrounds.
After a fantastic day exploring Hobart we had a tasty dinner back at The Islington of seafood chowder and wild mushroom risotto…mmm…a great way to end a perfect day!

Peaceful lanes and pouring rains…


This morning Padma and I went for a stroll along the Fort Cochin waterfront to look at the old cantilevered Chinese fishing nets. Here fishermen were dispersing their overnight catch of fish to the various fish sellers.


The Chinese fishing nets are called cheena vala in Malayalam. They are used at high tide and take about four men to operate due to their huge size.


We then moved hotels to the Old Courtyard Hotel (www.oldcourtyard.com). We like changing hotels as it often gives you a different perspective of the same town. The rooms here are really gorgeous with crisp white sheets and lovely antique furniture.



We had a lovely walk down some peaceful lanes to visit the massive Catholic Santa Cruz Basilica in Peter Celli Street.


The interior is extremely ornate with streaked brown marble and pastel painted finishes. The Catholic Churches are just like all religious shrines and temple in India – colourful and eye catching.


If you wish to send your postcards there is a lovely old post office in Post Office road. It is open 9-5pm Monday to Friday and until 3pm on Saturdays.

We caught an auto-rickshaw around to Jew Town to visit the Pardesi Synagogue. The building was built in 1664 and houses some great paintings which illustrate the Jews history in Fort Cochin. The Synagogue itself was tiny and absolutely divine. We sat on old rattan pews and gazed up at the myriad of glass chandeliers and the old blue and white Dutch tiles on the floor are all individual and hand painted. The entry fee is 5 rupees.

If you are into antiques Jew Town is your place as old wares shops abound here.

An antique merry-go-round…

We visited two great antique shops that I would recommend. They were Crafters, V1/141Jew Town, http://www.crafters.in and Classic Exports, V1/206 Synagogue Lane, Jew Town, http://www.theclassicantiques.com. Abraham at Classic Exports was lovely and a real expert on old religious antiques.

Abraham’s sons and sweet sales assistant…

We also visited Little Queen Embroidery (1V/542 Synagogue Lane, Jew Town. It is a unit of the Village Women Work charity. All the divine embroidery is done by widowed fishermen’s wives.


We loved chatting to the very knowledgeable Mr Thomas. We bought some very delicate hand embroidered hankies.


We also did a spot of shopping at Manvi…The Handmade in Rose Street. Here they sell beautiful embroidered shirts and dresses.

After a tasty dinner at Koder House in Tower Road we returned to our hotel for Keralan bananas and Marsala chai…mmmmm…delicious. About 5 minutes after we returned to our room a huge thunderstorm broke. A deluge of rain fell and flooded the whole downstairs area. The restaurant where we had just sat was now a sea of water.


The owners are very used to the rain here and as the whole downstairs area is tiled they just opened the door and let the water flow out…

Bedding down Bangalore style…

Our luxurious room…

Booking your hotel online is a great way to smooth your trip to India – however it can have its ups and downs.
Let me explain…All hotel photos online seem to look like something out of a glossy magazine. But sometimes when you arrive you find that it’s more jaded and faded than your Great Aunt’s spare bedroom!
Luckily for us this trip our hotel is just as great as the photos showed and more! We are staying at the St. Mark’s Hotel in St. Mark’s Road, Bangalore. This is my 8th trip to Bangalore and I have stayed in quite a few hotels. St. Mark’s is definitely the best I have stayed in and we strongly recommend it to you.

The hotel foyer…

So why is St. Mark’s so great?
~ IT’S LOCATION…it is located right in the heart of Bangalore. It is a short walk from MG road and walking distance to many great shops such as Ffolio, Ritu Kumar, Cinnamon and UB City Mall.
~ THE ROOMS…great standard of room for the price. Lovely bathroom with a separate shower…this is a bonus…as many bathrooms in India have the shower head in the middle of the bathroom and when you shower the whole room gets wet! Tea/coffee making with a cute little jar of biscuits. Free wi fi, bottled water and breakfast are included.

The proud chef and waitress…

~ THE WONDERFUL FOOD…wow I don’t think I’ll ever top the breakfast here! Divine mint and lime Ayurvedic starter juice, delicious South Indian coffee, yummy puri Marsala, idlis, fresh fruit, pastries…the list goes on and on.

Padma and my lovely breakfast of puri Marsala and dosa…

We also ate last night at their restaurant Curry with a K. Don’t let the name put you off as the paneer mukhani, coconut rice, butter naan and fresh sweet lime sodas were a taste sensation.

~ THE STAFF…definitely St. Mark’s strong suit is their wonderful staff. Everything is done with a smile here! Everyone is so friendly and it has a great vibe. The hotel booked our driver for yesterday and it was very reasonably priced. Our driver, Rama Krishna, was a darling. We had a great day chatting to him and he had a giggling sense of humour which we loved.

Hotel lobby…

So Padma and I are very perky and happy about our new favourite Bangalore hotel…perfect in every possible way…