Dublin’s Best Coffee Spots: 20 Spots for the City’s Best Brew

Years ago, when I visited Dublin for the first time, I did what I normally do my first time visiting a new city- looked up recommended things to see and do, and set about to explore.

Being such a bona fide cold brew fanatic, and someone who genuinely enjoys good espresso, especially in the form of flat whites or dirty chai lattes, I tried looking up a few cafes to visit.

At the time, I didn’t turn up much- at least not in city centre. From what I could see, most highly rated cafes were outside the historic district, lending more of a residential feel. And, while I love that now as a resident of Ireland, as a visitor, I recall being frustrated with how few good coffee spots there were within proximity of key sights.

To me, it made sense, when you think of Dublin, the first thing that comes to mind likely isn’t ‘great espresso’. In fact, if you’re thinking about Ireland and coffee, you’re more likely envisioning Irish Coffee, the boozy, unofficial national caffeinated drink.

Back on one of my initial visits to Dublin, I visited Hatch & Sons, across from St. Stephen’s Green, which was the best adventuring pick-me-up before I continued exploring the city.

Now, living in Dublin, I’m always on the hunt for the best cafes across the city’s neighbourhoods. Thankfully, more places exist than when I visited Dublin for the first time years ago- third wave brewers are definitely becoming a ‘thing’, and Dublin’s coffee culture is rising to the challenge.

Even in the age of COVID, many cafes are open for takeaway. While I’d love to really get a feel for some of them by posting up in them for a few hours and reading or writing, I’m grateful I’m even able to visit them with Ireland’s strict lockdown restrictions. 

With so many independent coffee shops popping up, Dublin is dotted with plenty of great options. The below picks are my go-to’s, places I oft recommend or return to, but I’ll caveat, I’m always on the lookout for new cafes.

All of the below are great for coffee, but some also have fantastic baked goods or brunch options available, which I’ve denoted with an * next to their name.

You’ll also see single use cups featured in photos throughout this post- that’s because, with COVID, many cafes are not accepting reusable cups for sanitary reasons. To be mindful, despite the circumstances, I try to only get coffee out once per week in a normal week, and usually save my cup to reuse a few times at home.

Final note, because Dublin’s neighbourhoods are identified by their numbers, I’ve included that information as well to help plan stops while you wander the city.

20 of Dublin’s Best Coffee Spots

3FE (locations across the city): My favourite spot for coffee in Dublin, I love 3FE so much, I buy their roasts for cold brew to make at home. Their flat whites are truly ace, and nothing from oatmilk mochas to prepared lattes and nitro cold brew disappoints.

Bread 41 & Cloud Picker Cafe (D2): Adjacent to each other, head to Bread 41 for Dublin’s best pastries (go early!), and then hit up Cloud Picker (Dublin’s first micro-roastery) for fantastic brews- their lavender latte is a must try in summer months.

The Fumbally* (D8): With an ever-evolving selection, no two visits here are the same. The coffees are great, and the salted tomato focaccia is the best I’ve ever had. Bonus: Also a great spot to pick up local Irish produce and goods.

 Meet Me in the Morning (D8): Open every day of the week, this perfectly named cafe does fantastic salted caramel lattes (with homemade syrups). You know it’s good when the line is out the door every time you walk past.

Kaph (D2): Inarguably one of Dublin’s best coffee shops, don’t be surprised to find this one busy if you’re not there first thing in the morning. It’s popular for a reason.

Hatch & Sons* (D2): Cozy breakfast and great coffee.

Beanhive Coffee* (D2): Fantastic wraps and scones, plus equally good coffee drinks.

Vice (D8): Situated in the back of a bar, as you’d assume, Vice doesn’t even open until late morning- ideal for those late risers. Standard coffee drinks are alright, the standouts here are the speciality ones, especially the Fancy Franky (hot Irish coffee toped with orange blossom flavoured cream).

Clement & Pekoe (D2): The queue is constant for a reason- C&P does great coffee in a Victorian atmosphere.

Nick’s Coffee (D6): Small, yet mighty. Their lattes are among the best I’ve had in Dublin.

One Kinda Folk (D6): One of my favourite cafes in Dublin, solely for the aesthetic- located behind an ivy covered wall, OKF is situated within a tiny garden. Their chai is also the best I’ve had in Dublin- brewed fresh each time, and utterly fantastic when ordered as an iced dirty chai with oatmilk.

Project Black (D6): One of the best doorways in Dublin 😉 Beyond its adorable shopfront, I love Project Black for their great flat whites and iced coffees.

Shoe Lane (D2): Love a coffee shop that traces its beans across the world, which is why Shoe Lane is one of my go-to’s in Ireland. Their flat whites are a great accompaniment for a morning stroll along the Liffey.

Two Fifty Square (D6): Another one of the all star coffee spots in Dublin, Two Fifty roasts their own brew and serves it up in a spacious, light, industrial cafe. Their flat white is another one of my favorites in the city, and I love the interior so much, I can’t wait to return when restrictions lift.

Press Cafe* (D4): Tucked away next to the National Print Museum in Beggar’s Bush, Press does great coffee, plus fresh juices and lovely brunch options.

The Orange Goat* (D4): A beloved neighbourhood cafe, their brunch is fantastic, and their coffee drinks hold their weight, too. My fav combo? Popping into Orange Goat for an iced coffee, then hitting up Toons Bridge Dairy next door for one of their legendary grilled cheese toasties.

Strand Fare (D4): A micro-grocery, Strand Fare is perfect for picnic supplies if you’re headed to Sandymount Strand, or just a hot drink to sip while watching the sunset. Oatmilk mochas plus chilly, spring sunsets are my ideal weeknight walk jam.

Two Pups (D8): A short walk from The Fumbally, I usually always hit up Two Pups if I’m in the neighborhood. The cafe is cute, but cozy, and the flat whites sure don’t disappoint.

Marlowe & Co* (D8): One of Dublin’s tiny, local grocers, I love Marlowe for their sea salt caramel iced latte. It’s so good I’ll walk a half hour on a sunny day to get one (and some beautiful flowers from their local suppliers).

Wall & Keogh (D8): Not a coffee drinker? W&K is for you- their teas, scones and muffins are fantastic. They’ve also got great espresso, so a bit of something for everyone, and a quiet back garden to enjoy it in.

Have you ever been to Dublin? Did you visit any cafes you’d recommend? And, if you’ve been drinking more coffee at home these days (see below pics ;)), any favourite drink combinations? 

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14 Fruits You Need to Try in SE Asia

THE BEST FRUITS OF SE ASIA

A vegetarian travelling SE Asia, I had reservations about how the food would be. Factor in anaphylactic allergies to cashews and pistachios (read: I’m extremely hesitant to try anything I can’t identify the ingredients in), and you can begin to imagine how tough night markets or any places where staff doesn’t speak English are for me.

One thing I was excited about when it came to food in Asia?
The fruit.

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Southeast Asia has an abundance of exotic, flavourful fruits in every shape, size and smell you could imagine.

Long time a fan of tropical fruits available in the US and UK, I couldn’t wait to try some of my favourites (mangos, pineapple, lychee) in Asia, and see what else the places I visited had to offer.

If you’re visiting SE Asia, fruit in every country won’t be the same, but there will be similarities.

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The Best Fruits In SE Asia to Try While Traveling

Jackfruit: Originally from India, you’ll find jackfruit across SE Asian countries when it’s in season. It smells similar to a banana, and some people think it also tastes similar to one. I’ve had it fresh in smoothies and would be more likely to compare its taste to bubblegum, but in a good way. Sweet and fresh. Jackfruit also makes a good meat substitute- I’ve had it in bbq tacos, and can confirm it’s pretty similar to what I recall pork being like, texture wise at least.

Durian: Chances are, even if you haven’t tried or seen a durian before, you’ve heard of it. The fruit has quite the reputation for its strong smell. I think Durian falls into one of two camps- it’s either an acquired taste if you weren’t introduced to it until you were an adult, or likely something you love if you grew up with it and have been conditioned to like the smell and taste. Unfortunately for me, the smell is something that makes me cough (I smell garbage and onions), and the taste isn’t much better (notes of onions and caramel). Even if you don’t think you’ll like it, you should still try it. It’s such a part of Asian culture- it’s even referenced as the ‘king fruit’ of Asia. It’s not cheap, which is why I jumped at the chance to try it in a dessert in Vietnam vs. buying it fresh on the streets.

Rambutan: Native to Indonesia and a few other Southeast Asian countries, Rambutans are usually medium size with what looks like a hairy skin. Most rambutans I’ve seen are red with green ‘hair’. They’re oft compared to lychees in outer and inner appearance, but I prefer lychees- they’re a bit sweeter than Rambutans.

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Lychee: Before venturing to Asia, I’d never had fresh lychee, but had drank enough lychee martinis to know I liked the taste. Originating in Southern China, lychees are small and reddish brown. The inner fruit, is white and juicy. Lychees have long been considered a symbol of love, there’s even a Chinese legend that says the last Emperor of the Tang Dynasty had his guards travel over 600 miles across China to bring fresh lychees to the palace in an attempt to woo a woman. Delighted to discover through my travels, that I love eating actual lychees almost as much as I love drinking the juice.

Passion Fruit: Longtime a fan of ‘passion fruit flavoured’ things, I had an inkling I’d also enjoy the fresh fruit, and boy, was I right. Passion fruit has become one of my favorite fruits to eat fresh. I’ve encountered both sweet and sour varieties, which I think are equally delicious. Passion fruit’s hard shell appearance kind of resembles a plum, but once you crack it open, you see the inside flesh is usually yellow/orange or white in color with what looks like little black beads strewn throughout.

Mangosteen: If durian is the ‘king’ of Asian fruits, then mangosteen is widely regarded as the ‘queen’. Thus far, mangosteen has been my favourite new-to-me fruit in SE Asia- I never miss a chance to try mangosteen juice or grab fresh ones from a market. Crack open a mangosteen’s hard, outer purple shell to squeeze out its soft white flesh. It’s sweet and tangy, an interesting combination for fruit.

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Dragon Fruit: Some people don’t like dragon fruit because they perceive it to be a cool looking fruit with bland taste. And, while I don’t disagree with that line of thought for white dragonfruit, pink dragonfruit is another story. From the outside, they look similar, but pink dragonfruit is actually pink inside and tastes a bit sweeter. I enjoy it as a cleansing fruit post-dinner. Plus, I just love how cool dragon fruit looks before you cut it open.

Coconut: I know, I know, coconuts are available in most parts of the world- especially big cities. But, the coconuts in Asia are much bigger and better than any other coconuts I’ve come across. Cracking one open on a beach or in a cafe on a sweltering afternoon is a surefire way to cool off quickly.

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Papaya: The first time I had papaya on a trip to Costa Rica years ago, I was instantly hooked. Sweet, but not overly saccharine, I loved this dense orange fruit. It wasn’t until travelling Asia that I learned of the fruit’s many, many benefits- if there was an Asian superfruit, papaya would likely hold the title. Boasting 33% more Vitamin C and 50% more potassium than oranges, it also contains Vitamin A, calcium iron and fibre.

Custard Apples: Travelling Vietnam, custard apples were everywhere. In Hanoi, I bought one from a market to try and couldn’t believe how delicious the insides were- sweet and creamy.

Rose Apples: Another fruit I noticed while traversing across Vietnam and Thailand- rose apples. The first time I bit into these, I was taken quite aback- they’re crunchy, bitter, and yet very moist. They’re long and circular in shape with round bottoms, and although I’m not sure why, the first time I saw them, I thought of plums. Thais often top rose apples with spiced sugar, which sounds like a great way to enjoy this complex fruit to me.

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Snake Skin Fruit: Present on beaches across Asia and in Indonesian markets, snake skin fruits resemble the skin of a snake on the outside. Tear into one and you’ll find white cloves inside. Reminiscent of mangosteen by way of complex flavour, snake skin fruit is tangy but in an enjoyable way.

Soursop: As the name suggests, soursop are often at least somewhat sour in taste. Apparently soursop is related to custard apples, which is interesting given how different the two fruits are in taste and appearance. I’ve tried soursop in a smoothie, mixed with pineapple and coconut milk, and really enjoyed the sweet-tart taste all three combined produced.

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Guava: Resembling an orange, but green in colour, I wasn’t too keen on guava the first time I ate it fresh. But, squeezed as a fresh juice is another story. Guava juice has become one of my favourite things to drink in the morning- it’s not too sweet, really quite mild, but reminds me of both pears and strawberries.

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Have you ever visited Asia and tried fruits you saw at the market or on restaurant menus? What would you add to this list of the best fruits in Asia?

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Four Cute Cafes in Siem Reap that Support the Community

FOUR CAFES IN SIEM REAP TO CHECK OUT

I didn’t have many expectations for Cambodia.

I knew it wouldn’t be as developed as Thailand, but with three days in Siem Reap, that didn’t matter to me. I was heading to Cambodia with one thing to see: Angkor Wat.

I’d planned on spending two days at Angkor Wat of the three I was in Siem Reap. I considered extending my stay to visit the Kulen Mountains, Thousand Lingas River and floating village at Tonie Sap Lake, but visiting in the midst of the dry season meant everything was, indeed, dried out.

Instead, I decided to see more of Siem Reap and relax in my hotel after a hectic month spent traversing Thailand.

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I didn’t know much about Siem Reap, the city, before visiting. I’d heard there was a street popular with backpackers (Pub Street) with flowing drinks on offer, and knew there were a few good night markets to check out. But, that was about it, initially.

Doing a bit of research, I learned there was a growing digital nomad scene in Siem Reap. I care about that scene because it usually means decent wifi, good cafes and interesting places to visit.

Sure enough, I found no shortage of great cafes in Siem Reap- many of which are local owned, or employ and donate a percentage of their funds to the Khmer people.

At the end of my three days in Siem Reap, I found myself wishing I could stay a bit longer. I’d developed a routine of sorts- sightsee in the morning and then spend the hottest part of the day- afternoon- working from one of the city’s air-conditioned cafes.

And in the evenings, I hit up the city’s night markets and then went back to my hotel for a late night swim.

It was easily a schedule I could have continued for a few more days.

Although, when I think about where the next few months may take me, I don’t see Cambodia on that list.

During my visit, I’d expected basic-decent wifi but was met with city-wide, daily power blackouts that would last anywhere from 6-10+ hours. Working from the road on generator power and backup WiFi is far from the ideal daily routine.

That said, if you’re visiting Siem Reap to see Siem Reap, you’ll be just fine. And if that’s the case, these are my recommendations for can’t miss cafes, many of which serve incredible eats.

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Four Cafes in Siem Reap to Check Out on Your Visit

New Leaf Cafe: If you only visit one cafe on this list, make it this one.

Their food is excellent, I’d actually recommend visiting for lunch or dinner. And, their teas and smoothies are great as well.

The Khmer curry and Khmer noodle soup were especially delicious- flavourful and affordable.

The biggest reason I loved this airy, calm cafe?

They donate 30% of profits to Cambodian education programs, and 20% of profits to their locally hired employees (on top of their working wages).

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Little Red Fox Cafe: My favourite spot for working, with two stories, strong wifi and air con. The menu boasts an interesting combination of Western-inspired dishes with Khmer flair.

Little Red Fox was my go-to for breakfast/early lunches.

Big fan of their vegetable-packed omelets, beautiful salads, and smoothie bowls with local fruits- the mango coconut one was perfection.

Also enjoyed sipping on their lemongrass teas and lattes. I wasn’t drinking coffee while in Siem Reap, but Little Red Fox is regarded as the best coffee shop in the city by many visitors.

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Crane Cafe: With lush plants lining the entrance, it was love at first sight with Crane cafe for me.

I enjoyed this cafe’s smoothies (the avocado, guava, pineapple, coconut one is extra delish), but they’ve also got a solid coffee line-up, and a few light eats on the menu.

As an added bonus, this cafe sells homewares made by Khmer people, which helps support the community.

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The Hive: I only visited this cafe once, to grab an iced tea while strolling around in the Cambodian heat, but liked what I saw on the menu for food and drinks- think lots of fresh juices and healthy eats.

It’s near Little Red Fox and Crane, so easy to check out if you’re in that area of Siem Reap.

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Have you ever visited Siem Reap? Did you discover any cafes in Siem Reap you’d recommend to someone visiting for the first time? 

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The Most Magical Time to Wear Ears: Christmas at Disney

Isn’t the saying, ‘Dis the season? 😉

In all seriousness, spending a magical time of the year, the holiday season, at the most magical place on earth is incredible. House of Mouse spares no detail when it comes to decor- it’s stunning- and with so many special events and delicious treats at the parks, Christmas at Disney is the best kind of indulgence.

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Every year, there are new treats, shows and events, and plenty of bloggers who cover every detail- Google ‘Disney World at Christmas’ to see what I mean. This post isn’t a step-by-step guide for enjoying Disney at the holidays. Instead, I’m sharing my favourite bits from our two week trip in 2017/2018.

I’d been to Disney in the lead-up and post-holiday season a few times over the years for runDisney races in November and mid-January. But, I hadn’t been to the parks in the midst of peak holiday season since my sophomore year of uni.

I couldn’t have been more excited to spend almost two weeks with my family at Disney last year. Instead of flying to Pittsburgh, my mom planned the trip of a lifetime for all of us at Walt Disney World.

We spent most days at the parks, which meant we had at least 2 days in each park. Since we weren’t in a rush to see everything in one day each time we visited a park, our visit felt fairly relaxed. Of the two days we didn’t go into the parks, we spent one at Disney Springs / relaxing at the hotel, and on the other one, my parents visited resorts while my sister and I went to Target. Ah Target, something I never thought I’d be so excited to go to until I moved abroad.

We wanted to soak up as much park time as possible, so we opted to stay on property, but at a ‘value’ resort- All Star Sports. I’ve stayed at the All Star resorts many times for races and always have a great experience.

Generally, the rooms are spacious, and I appreciate the trails that connect all of the resorts- perfect for morning runs and walks. They’re designated value because they’re ‘no frills’ in comparison to some of Disney’s more luxe properties, like Animal Kingdom Lodge, the Yacht Club or the Polynesian. More families also tend to stay at them because of the convertible room options- our room had two bathrooms, a master bed, kitchen, and huge living room which included a sofa bed and sleeper chair. Value resorts are a great option if you want to be on property, but not dole out an insane amount of money (Disney’s expensive enough as it is ;)).

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By the way, if you’re a Disney novice, the biggest benefit to staying on property is your ability to use the park’s shuttle system- by far, the easiest way to get from hotel to park or even park to park.

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One more thing before we get to the parks: If you decide to stay on property during the holidays, bring a few things from home with you to make the experience more enjoyable.

Think: Favourite holiday treats for the room, wine/beer/drinks you enjoy, holiday lights to decorate with, and Christmas crackers to pop outside. Even the simplest touches in the room ensure every part of your stay is magical. If you fly to Orlando and can’t bring food/drink with you, Disney has a grocery order service partnership that delivers to its hotels.

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At the Parks + Hotels

Epcot

Perhaps my favourite park during the holidays, the World Showcase puts on quite a show.

Each country is decked out for the holidays with storytellers, decor and special touches. It’s fun to learn about traditions around the world while roaming the park. As part of the International Festival of the Holidays, each country also has its own festive tipples and bites, a few of our favourites:

-Mexico: Not quite the picture of Christmas, but margaritas are no less delicious!
-Germany: Don’t miss the cider flight or gluhwein (mulled wine). The fondue is also cheesy deliciousness
-America: Giant turkey legs and firenog (fireball and eggnog)
-France: Mickey Macarons and a sweet cranberry Grand Marnier cocktail
-Morocco: Hot moroccan mint tea in the Tangerine Cafe for warming up
-United Kingdom: Hot applejack cider (mulled cider with whisky and spices)

Throughout the park, there’s fun garden art, and a dazzling tree at the beginning of the World Showcase.

One thing that can’t be missed: the Candlelight Processional, a retelling of the Christmas story by a celebrity narrator along with a choir and live orchestra- exceptional.

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We chose to spend New Year’s Eve in Epcot, and after an excellent dinner at Canada’s Le Cellier Steakhouse, watched the fireworks over the lake. Before we settled in to wait for the show, we walked around the showcase, take note: Italy does a rockin’ party 😉

While we waited for the fireworks to start, we sipped on pints from the UK and cocktails from France. The fireworks show in Epcot is amazing, we found our view in front of the UK/Canada to be a great vantage point for the entire performance.

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Magic Kingdom

While I appreciate the seasonal offerings of Epcot, it’s hard to argue anywhere is more decked out and ready for the holidays than the Magic Kingdom.

Don’t miss a walk down Main Street USA, watching the Christmas parade (we stopped to see it a few times- never gets old!), or the nightly firework show, Wishes.

Pop in the bakeries to ogle the festive treats, enjoy a cinnamon roll shaped like Mickey’s ears, and if you’re looking for an extra special treat Christmas morning- head to Starbucks (the line moves quickly, promise) for a fun frappuccino.

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The New Year’s Show at the Magic Kingdom is said to be one of the best, but also most crowded, fireworks displays in the world.

Pro tip: On the 30th, they run the same show to practise. We watched the first show on the 30th, and could not believe how incredible it was. If we weren’t also keen on seeing Epcot’s show, I would have definitely returned to see it a second time on New Year’s Eve. If you’re skeptical of how good it is, I’ll say this: 360 fireworks- seriously, they’re happening all around your head. Actual magic.

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Animal Kingdom

With seasonal decor throughout the park, including a Goofy Santa in Dinoland, AK is a joy to wander through at the holidays. It’s not as traditional Christmas as the other parks, but if you keep an eye out, you’ll notice wreaths in Africa and festive touches in Asia. Because Animal Kingdom is open late night, it’s less decorated and with fewer holiday shows than the other parks.

Not specific to the holidays, but beautiful nonetheless, the River of Light show in the evening is gorgeous.

And, if you’re looking for a fun tipple while in the park, try the dole whip with dark rum or cocktails from the Nomad Lounge.

PS. The Flight of Passage avatar show in Pandora is unmissable. Make sure you book this ahead of time on a FastPass so you definitely get to experience it.

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Hollywood Studios

Whilst the Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights are no more, there are plenty of other holiday touches in the park to warrant a visit.

Indulge in the hot chocolate flight (or mini martini flight if that’s more your style), grab festive photos with characters, and take in Sunset Season’s Greetings show- a projection of vignettes from some of Disney’s top films, along with lasers, tunes and a flurry of snow. Anywhere on Sunset Boulevard will be the perfect spot to take in the action.

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Disney Springs

Just like the parks, you’ll find tons of festive fun at Disney Springs. Better yet, Disney Springs is free to enter. There’s no shortage of shopping and dining to be done, but don’t miss the tree trail – each tree is decorated to fit a fun theme.

And, treat wise, Sprinkles has delicious seasonal cupcakes, and Goofy’s Candy Kitchen is seriously well stocked for every craving you could have. Sunset drinks at The Boathouse are always special, but feel even more so when the Old Fashioned has a holiday touch.

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Hotels

If you find yourself in need of a break from the parks, consider resort hopping. All of the resorts are decked out in gorgeous holiday decor this time of the year-.

Short on time? Take the monorail from Magic Kingdom to see three resorts in one go.

Starting at the Contemporary, grab a churro cupcake at the Contempo Cafe. Then, head onwards to the Grand Floridian to see a giant gingerbread house that’s also serving up frozen hot chocolate. Interested in a different kind of drink? Head upstairs to the lounge to enjoy an espresso martini whilst listening to jazz. When we visited, they were playing Christmas songs, the epitome of lovely.

And, finish out your monorail crawl with a stop at the Polynesian. Holiday decor here has a tropical spin to it. In need of a drink? Head to what I believe to be Walt Disney World’s best bar, Trader Sam’s for a tiki inspired tipple.

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One more thing to note…

Disney during the holiday season means intense crowds. All of December is significantly more crowded than any other time of year, but especially during the week between Christmas and New Year’s.

We found the crowds a bit tough to navigate at times, but had no real complaints. After wall, despite all the crowds, we were spending the holidays in the happiest place on earth.

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Have you ever been to Disney World during the holiday season? What was your favourite part of your visit? 

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5 Places for an Ace Cocktail in Edinburgh

It’s no secret I love a good drink, cocktail culture was one of my favourite parts about living in New York City, and has continued as a beloved activity in London.

Envisioning Edinburgh as the land of whisky, imagine the surprise on my first visit, a trip planned to celebrate a friend’s birthday, when I discovered the capital of Scotland is known for their cocktails as well. Some of the speakeasies and bars I visited even rivalled the likes of ones in New York.

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Places like Whiski Rooms and Bow Bar are my go-to recommendations for anyone looking to sample great whisky, but my favourite places to grab a cocktail in Edinburgh bring a different type of experience to the table.

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If you’re in Edinburgh and looking for respite from the pub scene, any of these places are worth a pop in for a cheeky cocktail.

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5 of My Favourite Places to Have a Cocktail in Edinburgh

Panda & Sons: Hands down, my favourite. Run by a family of pandas who are barbers by trade and cocktail aficionados by night (gotta love the backstory ;)), it’s a speakeasy hidden behind a bookshelf in a faux barber shop. No detail goes un-noticed here, from decor to table service, and of course- the drinks themselves. A must-visit any time I’m in Edinburgh for the evening.

nightcapBelow street level, this small bar is quiet, cosy and takes great pride in their cocktails. They cap the number of people allowed into the bar, so sipping a tipple here is a relaxing experience. The cocktails are insanely good as well, I’m preferential to the whisky based nightcap, but the gin-based Doctor’s orders and their take on a classic martini are wonderful as well.

Bramble Bar: Another sub-street level bar, but the only thing in common with nightcap are the great cocktails. Cranking old school hip hop and with seating everywhere you look, including carved into wall space and dug out grottos, Bramble Bar is bigger and more lively than nightcap. The important part though: Great drinks.

The Voyage of Buck: Hygge manifested in bar form with oversized leather couches, fuzzy blankets, soft lighting, glowing candles and copper fixtures. Oh, and the drinks are great too.

The Bon Vivant: I stumbled into this cosy French style bistro while waiting for a table at El Cartel Mexicana (which, is incredible – 10/10 recommend). Lovely atmosphere, candles everywhere, and good twists on classic drinks, enter: scotch colada.

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Have you ever been to Edinburgh? Where are your favourite places to kick back with a pint or tipple?

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Where to Eat & Drink in Tulum

Just a few years ago, Tulum wasn’t even on the radar of many travelers. South of Cancún on Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula, Tulum is far enough away from the Cancún craziness to be a haven for relaxation with fewer crowds and locally run hotels and restaurants.

After spending a week in this beach meets jungle locale, I totally get why people are obsessed with this place.

Pristine white sand beaches, Mayan ruins atop a cliff overlooking jade-green water, cenotes with clear, cool water, balmy breezes, luxurious spas with ancient rituals, rustic cabanas, and Mezcal bars with twinkling disco balls that signify the start of a night filled with dancing.

And, if you want authentic Mexican food, a perfectly spiced margarita or great Italian, you can find it in Tulum. Whether you’re in town or on the jungle road, there are dozens of places to enjoy good eats. 

Where to Eat in Tulum

Hartwood: People line up at 3 pm for reservations for a reason- dinner at Hartwood is a must. Like many of the other Tulum eateries, they cook everything over a wood-fire oven. We ordered a few things to try off the menu & a couple carafes of habanero pineapple margaritas. Nothing disappointed. So, so good.

The story behind Hartwood is really interesting and makes you appreciate the effort of having dinner there even more. The friend that I traveled with bought me a copy of Hartwood as a trip-planning thank you gift and I’m loving it.

Posada Margarita: An Instagram dream on the beach side of the road with the best Italian food in Tulum. We came here one night to watch the sun set over the waves, enjoying tasty pasta and fresh fish cooked in lemon and olive oil.

Casa BananaFun place for dinner, serving up Argentine dishes and great cocktails.

Casa Violeta: The perfect place for lunch on the beach. We stopped here one afternoon while wandering the shoreline for fish tacos and basil margaritas.

Casa Jaguar: This was one of my favorite meals in Tulum, second only to Hartwood. Fresh seafood and vegetables cooked over an open fire and refreshing fruit cocktails, so delicious. The vibe here is cool- a jungle setting with bars and tables nestled in the trees. The scene is better later in the evening, but we came early to snag the table on top of the bar. Dinner atop the jungle? Doesn’t get much better than that.

El TabanoThe chalkboard menu is a bit overwhelming, but the wait staff are happy to tell you their favorite things to order. Loved the avocado soup, stuffed jalapeños, and coconut rice with shrimp.

Don Cafeto: Cafe in Tulum town with great breakfast.

Flor de Michocan: If you’re in town and need a snack, stop here for one of the paletas (popsicles). I tried the chile mango and my friend tried the strawberry kiwi, both got thumbs up reviews.

El Rincon Chiapaneco: They say locals always know best, and this restaurant in town was packed with locals when we visited. 1) Order the green juice (it’s Mexican kale and pineapple juice), 2) Start with potato empanadas, 3) Order either the cheese enchiladas in verde sauce or anything with their mole sauce. Out. Of. This. World.

Antojitos la Chipaneca: A local place in town, known for its pastor tacos. I didn’t eat here, but my friend swears the tacos were amazing. They cut the meat off a giant slab right in front of you and there’s a salsa bar in case you want to add a bit of flavor to your tacos. Also, the horchata is incredible.

Where to Drink in Tulum

There’s no shortage of great drinks in Tulum. From bars on the jungle road mixing up craft cocktails to local watering holes in town, you can enjoy a drink whenever you’re in the mood for one.

  • Gitano: Mezcal is one of my favorite spirits and Gitano is a Mezcal bar. Enough said. If you’re here, the spicy drinks are a must-try, and if you want a sweet cocktail for dessert, try the Stardust (mezcal, dark rum, pineapple, papaya, coconut cream). In addition to having great drinks, this place is the cutest- it’s on the jungle side of the road and decked out in bohemian decor. On Thursdays, they turn the disco ball on and the music up to get the party going
  • Casa Jaguar: I’ve already raved about the food, but the hibiscus & cinnamon margarita was also perfection
  • Hartwood: We loved the drinks here so much, we ordered carafes of them 🙂
  • Ziggy’s: We came here a few times since it was next to our hotel and we enjoyed the casual vibe. At night, this place gets rocking with live music
  • Mateos: Head here to watch the sun set on the upper deck level with a cold beer or margarita
  • Batey: If you’re in town, stop here for a mojito. They make the best ones in Tulum with pure sugar cane juice and fresh fruit combinations. We came here one afternoon to sip a few mojitos and watch soccer with some locals & had the best time

If you’ve ever been to Tulum, what were your favorite eats and drinks?

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Mad Hatter Afternoon Tea in London

The British are known for afternoon tea, so going for tea in England is a must-do if you’re visiting the country. If you’re lucky enough to be spending time in London, there are plenty of lovely afternoon teas to choose from, spanning from traditional to fun interpretations. 

One of my favorite interpretations is the Mad Hatter’s afternoon tea at The Sanderson hotel.

The Sanderson offers a Mad Hatter afternoon tea, as well as tipsy evening tea, and I’ve been to and enjoyed both. I enjoyed the evening tea a bit more, but I suspect that’s because it combined two things I enjoy: cocktails and desserts.

At both teas, your experience begins in the garden, which is gorgeous, with menus hidden inside vintage books.

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At the afternoon tea, the tea options are based on characters, and you’re asked to choose a tea by sniffing mini bottles. If you’re a traditionalist, there are also standard tea options- like breakfast available. You also have the option of ordering a cocktail from the drink menu or glass of prosecco.

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Once you choose a tea, it’s delivered in a teapot adorned with a king or queen, and topped with a paper crown. Our waiter also set a pink musical box on the table, which contained sugar cubes and a twirling fairy that danced to Somewhere Over the Rainbow.

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In the evening, you start with a mini cocktail flight- Kir Royale, white wine and red fruit punch, Kamm & Sons ginseng with orange and elderflower tonic water, and a mini martini.

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The savory bites are the same whether afternoon or evening: smoked salmon Scotch quails egg with caviar and cream cheese, stack of King of Hearts ham and parmesan croque-monsieurs, cornish crab bridge roll with dill, lemon, creme fraiche and avocado, and a White Rabbit cucumber and cream cheese sandwich on pesto bread. 

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In the afternoon, you’re served scones with an assortment of jams and clotted cream. Whereas in the evening, the scones are on the savory side- flavored with whole seed mustard and mozzarella, & served with herb butter.

The sweets are also similar from day to night, although, there are a few changes-

Afternoon sweets:

  • Queen of Hearts rose and strawberry Jammy Dodger
  • Mocha chessboard gateau
  • Tweedle Dee lemon curd financier
  • Mad March Hare vanilla pocket watch macaroon
  • Chocolate and pistachio Blue Caterpillar
  • Wonderland marshmallow magic mushrooms
  • Mad Hatters lost carrot and fennel meringue
  • Alice’s cinnamon, apple and peach “Drink Me” potion

Evening sweets:

  • White chocolate Pear Williams truffle

  • Dark chocolate and rum chessboard gateau

  • Tweedle Dee lemon and Limoncello curd financier

  • Mad March Hare vanilla pocket watch macaroon
  • Wonderland marshmallow magic mushrooms

  • Mad Hatters lost carrot and fennel meringue
  • Alice’s naughty orange and Cointreau “Drink Me” potion

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The main difference? The evening sweets are alcohol infused :).

At both teas, I particularly enjoyed the lemon financier, vanilla macaroon, magic marshmallows and chocolate gateau. This tea is one of my favorites because there’s a good balance of sweet flavor profiles- citrus, chocolate, some rich, some light.

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The whole experience is whimsical, like a journey back to childhood. However, I found both the afternoon and evening teas a tad pricier- £10-15 per person more than I’m used to in London.

All in all, the tumble down the rabbit hole was worth it both times. And, The Sanderson takes reservations so you needn’t worry about getting a table.

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Have you ever been to a themed tea you enjoyed? Any can’t miss teas I should experience while I live in London?

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10 NYC Eats I Miss, Living in Europe

It’s been almost 11 months since I moved to London, and I don’t, for a single second, regret my decision to leave New York City. After so many years in the big apple, I needed a change.

London, being a world city, draws a lot of parallels to New York from a food perspective- great cocktails, good brunch spots, and a range of cuisines for every budget.

However, there are some things I miss about New York- friends (obviously), but also, unsurprisingly, some of the great eats I took for granted while living in the city.

Peruse Pinterest, and you’ll see plenty of outrageous ‘treat your self’ eats hailed as ‘must haves’ while visiting New York (think: freakshakes, rainbow bagels, cupcakes, ramen burgers, and so on).

The foods I miss though are less ultimate, and more regular eats. Whether you live in New York or are visiting, they’re foods I’d recommend seeking out. And, if you do, let me know what you think- I likely won’t make it back to New York until spring 2018 so I’ll be dreaming of these eats until then.

Bagels

Sure, you can find “bagels” in London, and elsewhere in Europe. But, nothing compares to a real NYC bagel- big, thick, chewy and jam packed with cream cheese, or loaded with egg, cheese and bacon. Most Saturday mornings, but especially after a night out, I’m missing three of my usual spots- Brooklyn Bagel, Thompkins Square and Black Seed pretty hard.

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Pizza

London pizza is very different from New York style pizza. And while I’m trying to appreciate it for what it is, nothing beats a late night NYC slice. Bonus points if it’s $1. Joe’s used to be my go-to for evening slices before heading home, and Artichoke was one of my favorite indulgences in the city. If I wanted sit-down ‘za, Roberta’s, Milkflower (omg, their burrata) and Marta were my favs.

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Tacos

Why is it so hard to find tacos in London, and by extension the rest of Europe? So far, I’ve found two pretty good places- one in London and one in Edinburgh, but I’m close to giving up hope for more. After living in Texas, I’ve become pretty picky about my tacos. And, forget about finding a ‘breakfast taco’ in Europe. Even in New York, locating quality tacos wasn’t easy, but after finding Guero’s in Brooklyn years ago, I was at ease, knowing I had a solid place for breakfast tacos, fish tacos, vegetable tacos, queso and seriously good margaritas. And, gotta give an honorable mention to Tacombi for their stellar tacos. Now, there’s a hole in my taco-loving heart.

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Donuts

Yes, there are donuts in Europe, but the ones I’ve had in London are no where near as good as the variety in New York. Specifically, I miss the cake donuts from Underwest– such great, pronounced flavors. Every now and then, I crave a pillowy doughnut from Dough or Doughnut Plant as well. Big into donuts? Drop me a line, I’ve got oodles of places in New York for you to check out 🙂

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Cold Brew

Iced coffee and iced tea do not translate in jolly old England. Brighton is the only city I’ve been to so far that had a few cafes where cold brew made a menu appearance. Thankfully, Starbucks in London has cold brew for the summer, but I’m already dreading the transition back to a caffeine-less fall/winter (I only drink iced caffeine- it’s that or nothing). In New York, finding cold brew was never a problem- always at the top of my list: La Columbe, BirchToby’s and Blue Bottle, although, there was something to be said for the quick and easy CB from Dunkin’ as well.

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Ice Cream

Soft serve and gelato abound in London (and Europe, by extension), but ‘artisanal’ scoop ice cream is much harder to find. Never though I’d miss OddFellows, Ample Hills and Morgenstern’s so much. If it was possible to ship a pint of salted crack caramel, there’s no question I’d pay for it.

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Oyster Happy Hour & Absinthe Cocktails

If you’ve ever lived in New York, you know Oyster happy hours are the place to be. There are so many great ones all over the city, Mermaid’s is one of the best, but I’m seriously missing the oyster happy hour at Maison Premiere. And with absinthe on tap, I used to love ordering an absinthe colada to go with my oyster dozen.

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The World’s Best Cookies

Oprah doesn’t praise cookies as the ‘best in the world’ without due cause. Levain’s cookies are crazy good. Although I didn’t eat them often, I miss knowing I can grab one whenever the mood strikes. Huge, crisp on the outside and gooey on the inside, the double chocolate ones were one of my fav ultimate indulgences. Honorable mention to Insomnia for nailing the late night warm cookie delivery game.

Build-Your-Own Salads

Salads weren’t something I was prepared to miss so much. Yes, I can make my own- but, there’s something to be said for popping in sweetgreen and knowing you can leave with a fresh veggie-packed salad. Here, salad means something very different (pre-mixed, think beans plus mint and feat, or couscous, parsley and carrots, and typically- the Brits mix several of these ‘salads’ together to form a meal). I didn’t truly realise how much I missed proper US salads until going to Amsterdam for a few days and finding myself frequenting sla daily.

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Banana Pudding

People know Magnolia for their cupcakes, but the banana pudding is the real rockstar. It’s creamy, yet feels light at the same time, with chunks of banana and cake. Recently, they started serving a chocolate version of the banana pudding with Oreos in it- to die for.

Living in New York for so long, I accumulated quite a few favorite places for food and drinks, the majority of which I’ve organized into Foursquare lists.

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Best Places for a Cocktail in London

One of my favorite parts of living in New York for over 6 years that I never expected? Craft cocktails.

Prior to living in New York, I’d resided in Pittsburgh, Indiana and Austin. Although all three cities arguably have great watering holes (especially Austin), I was in college or grad school when living in those cities. Translation: The cheaper the drinks, the better.

It wasn’t until I moved to New York and started working full time that I began to explore nicer bars (and by nicer, I mean goodbye days of 25 cent shot specials).

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Visiting London for the second time, on a fall trip two years before I moved to the city, I was delighted to find signs of the cocktail culture I’d grown to love in New York. I even returned the following spring to have a ‘foodie weekend’ in East London. And now that I live here, I’ve got plenty of time to explore the city’s best bars.

London (and the United Kingdom, by nature) may be famous for its pints, but if you’re visiting and need a break from beers and ciders, these places are worth spending time (and money) at.

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If you’re not accustomed to craft cocktail culture, you may balk at spending £10-15 on a drink, but look at it as a special treat. Even though I live here, a night out at one of my favorite cocktail bars is something I look forward to, much like dinner at a new restaurant I want to try. And, you’re not paying for a typical drink, no standard rum and cokes here. The staff behind the bar at these spots are mixologists- they understand flavor profiles of spirits and mixers. Let’s just say, there’s a reason why I like trying new cocktails so much 😉

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10 Places to Have a Great Cocktail in London

  • Nightjar & OrioleTucked away behind a (nearly) unmarked door off the Old Street roundabout, this speakeasy-style bar is one of my favorite hangs in London. Divided into historical eras, the menu seems never ending. Bonus: Late night, there’s live jazz. And, Oriole is the sister bar to award-winning Nightjar, serving up cocktails made with ingredients from all parts of the world.
  • Happiness ForgetsAn unassuming basement bar with great drinks. Located on Hoxton Square in the heart of Shoreditch, there are plenty of awesome restaurants and bars nearby
  • The Mayor of Scaredy Cat TownHidden behind a fridge door at The Breakfast Club’s Spitalfields location, you’ll find quirky variations on classic cocktails. Brunch, then speakeasy? Sounds like an ideal Saturday afternoon
  • Callooh Callay: Against the back wall of the ground floor main room, there’s a wardrobe that leads to a hidden bar. Getting in without a reservation can be tough, but the drinks are worth it- simple deliciousness
  • Mr. Fogg’s Tavern: Full of weird artefacts and delicious tipples. Classically British in every way
  • DisreputeNewly opened member’s only bar in Soho, the cocktail list is killer. And, what’s not to love about a bar where the drinks are described via a story vs. ingredient list?
  • The American Bar at the Savoy: Recently named the ‘World’s Best Bar’, the bar is over 125 years old and is, in my opinion, one of London’s top places for a fancy drink. Because this place isn’t perfect enough, there’s also usually a live pianist in the evenings
  • Duke’s Bar: Famed for popularising the martini, the classic drink is made table-side here via trolley. They’re so strong, and good, the hotel only allows two per guest
  • Evans & Peel Detective Agency / Pharmacy: Get ready to state your case or be prepared to tell the doctor what ailment you need taken care of for entry into these bars. The Detective Agency is one of my favorite speakeasies in London- great ambiance, character and wonderful drinks. I haven’t been to the Pharmacy yet, but we’ve got reservations for a night with the ‘doctor’ at the end of November
  • Dandelyan: Known as one of the best bar’s in the world, Dandelyan is elegant with stunning serves. Also love how their menu is broken into drinks by time of day/how you’re feeling- e.g., afternoon pick-me-up or super late night cap
  • Bonus: CoupetteThe first time I walked into this French inspired bar, I felt right like I was in Brooklyn (read: at home). Calvados, cider and cocktails (in particular, a champagne colada) make this place worth a visit
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Honorable Mentions: 

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Charlie & the Chocolate Factory Afternoon Tea

Going for afternoon tea is a must-do if you’re visiting England. If you’re lucky enough to be spending time in London, there are plenty of lovely afternoon teas to choose from, spanning from traditional seatings to fun interpretations. 

My current favorite interpretation is the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory inspired afternoon tea at One Aldwych.

As a kid, I always wished Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was a real place- lickable wallpaper, a whole room devoted to chocolate, gum that never loses its taste, and plenty of other treats to satisfy every sweet craving. What could be better?

So, I was excited to try the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory inspired tea when my sister visited from the States. The entire experience was memorable, earning the event a place on my list of favorite afternoon teas.

Held in One Aldwych’s Indigo restaurant, the tea room overlooks the lobby bar but still feels like you’re tucked away in a quiet corner. The plush oversize arm chairs cue relaxation the moment you sit down.

Everything, including the menus, supports the theme. Each menu has a character on the back of it- mine had Veruca Salt, which made me excited for my own golden goose egg.

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First thing, you’ll choose from a modern or traditional tea- my sister and I both opted for modern teas, choosing the rose and chocolate ones. We also decided to try the smoking Cocktail Charlie, a whisky, champagne, cherry and chocolate concoction that was delicious.

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With your tea at the table, savory finger sandwiches follow. My sister had the regular menu, while I opted for the vegetarian fare.

She had: cucumber and smoked salmon on poppy seed bread, egg mayonnaise with watercress on tomato bread, coronation chicken in a brioche bun, vegetable Wellington, and a leek, walnut and Montgomery cheddar quiche. Instead of chicken and salmon, I had cheese and chutney, and cucumber and creme fraiche sandwiches. Before moving onto sweets, you’re asked if you’d like to order additional complimentary sandwiches- we both opted for one more of our favorites- the quiche, and cheese and chutney.

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Next, the reason we came- the sweets. As with all afternoon teas, there’s a heavy emphasis on the dessert portion of the menu.

Luckily, we were prepared. 😉

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First up: Warm scones with berry jam, apple and meadowsweet compote and Devonshire clotted cream, as well as blueberry brioche, and cocoa bean financier.

The jams were good, but the cocoa bean financier was the real star- we loved these.

Then, we moved on to our pyramid of sweets, which included: golden chocolate eggs filled with vanilla cheesecake and mango, chocolate caramel milk, Eton mess, homemade candy floss, and lemon and white chocolate cake pops.

Everything was delicious, but the candy floss and chocolate egg were my favorites. The staff asks you to guess the flavor of the candy floss, and although I’ve never really been one for candy floss, I have to say I was really into the flavor of this one. I won’t spoil the surprise for you though.

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Throughout the afternoon, the staff were extremely attentive, ensuring we had whatever we needed.

One Aldwych takes reservations, which are recommended since they’re usually pretty busy. And, if you’re a vegetarian, gluten-free, or have any food allergies, just specify that info at the time of reserving- they’re more than happy to accommodate.

Have you ever been to a themed tea you enjoyed? Any can’t miss teas I should experience while I live in London?

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