The Tate Modern, London

The Tate modern is a huge sight that impresses its visitors. Formerly a Bankside Power Station, it is today a modern art museum, thanks to the work of the Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron. A perfect example of how something which was destined to be abandoned can be turned into a famous attraction. Not very attractive from the outside, but astonishing inside. Probably not as complete as the Pompidou Museum, but still not to be missed. The access is free, just like other museums in London. Free guided tours are organized daily. You pay for the extras and the temporary exhibitions, which are hosted in the enormous Turbine Hall; they are quite expensive, it is really subjective whether they might be worth it. The price of the audio guide is 4£; it gives an explanation of several of the artworks exposed.

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Source: www.londres.es

The permanent collection is organized chronologically and by theme on levels 2 to 4. We are talking about more than 60000 pieces of art, from different artists which are very well known to the public: Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, Henri Matisse, among others. It opens from 10 am to 6 pm from Sunday until Thursday, while the closing time is extended until 10 pm on Fridays and Saturdays. This gives you plenty of time to enjoy the museum. If you are not a passionate about modern arts you might not appreciate it, some of the artwork appear to be odd to some people. On the other hand, since it is free you can still go and take a look, you will see something completely different. And if you get tired pretty quickly, if you like enjoying a coffee with a view, make sure you do not miss the bar on the fifth floor.

For the most passionate, it is possible to book a private tour:

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The Cathedral of Toledo: la Primada

A Cathedral, especially when it is the first one built in the Spanish Peninsula, is always worth a visit. It occupies the place of the main Mosque of Toledo, which was built itself on the rests of an ancient Visigothic Church. Which means we are talking about a site charged with symbolism. In fact, you can still assist to a Visigothic Mass once a day. Is is not necessary to be a religious person in order to appreciate its marvellous architecture.

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Source: www.ciudadesyrincones.com

But you should bear in mind a couple of things in case you want to visit the Cathedral of Toledo. First of all, its peculiar opening times. In Wintertime it closes at 6 PM, while in Summertime at 6.45 PM, a little early considering the season. The entry cost 8€, while for 11€ you can access as well the Bell Tower, from which you can enjoy wonderful views of the city. Children below 12 years old can enter for free. On Sundays Spanish nationals can access for free, after 2 PM and, without the option of the Bell Tower. If you are coming by car, there is plenty of parking space available along the city walls. Quite easy to get in.

The audio guide, approximately 90 minutes, costs 3€ and is totally worth it. The Cathedral itself is well preserved and has some little treasures you should not miss. The Chorus and the Custodia de Juan de Arfe, among others; while in the Sacristy you can find a small but important collection of paintings from el Greco, Caravaggio, Velasquez and Goya. Even though the price is a bit high for a Church, do not forget you will be in a sacred place. It is forbidden to take pictures inside, and there could be several religious services going on at the same time during your visit.

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Source: antonioheras.com

There are a couple of day trips from Madrid that include the Cathedral you might be interested in:

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The British Museum, London

With about five million visitors each year, the British Museum is without any doubt London’s most important tourist attraction. It is very close to Russell square, not too far from the National Gallery. It was founded back in 1753 and opened for the public for free 6 years later. The collection has grown considerably during the years, basically as a result of British Imperialism. Today it covers a huge period of history (over 7000 years): ancient Egyptians, Greeks, China, Middle Age…and the list goes on.

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Source: www.britishmuseum.org

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The Roman Collection – Source: www.londontown.com

The place is huge so you have different options when visiting; the entrance is free, just like the National Gallery you pay for the extras (such as the iPad tours) and the temporary expositions, which are generally worth the little supplement. You can reserve a couple of hours and have a general view or stay there the whole day (it opens from 10.oo A.M. to 5.00 P.M.) and have lunch inside, the restaurant has very reasonable prices. You can also make some focused visits, depending on what interests you the most; there are 15 free tours of individual galleries per day (eyeOpener tours) and Highlight tours (paid separately).

Of course it’s always busy, but if you want a little more time to browse at leisure, try to pick an “off-time” when school groups likely won’t be there. This avoids the general frustration that comes when you visit such a musuem. You can spend hours there and probably not see everything. If you like taking pictures, take a spare battery with you, because you will need it. You definitely should not miss Rosetta’s stone (the key to ancient Egypt’s writing system) and the Bust of Ramesses the great on the ground floor, while on the upper floor do not forget to check the Egyptian mummies and different artifacts from Anglosaxon England.

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Rosetta’s Stone – Source: www.britishmuseum.org

If visiting with children it might get more complicated, since they tend to get tired pretty quickly. You might want to cut your visit in two days, check our what they like the most or hire the activity packs for each area. It is basically a backpack of the area of your choice with different activities inside for the kids to follow. They ask a ten pounds deposit. The museum encourages the parents with small children to bring their strollers in and use it during your visit. It would make your time much easier.

The museum is always crowded, but you can avoid the peak hours, especially when the students are visiting in groups. If you wish, you can hire a guide throughout the collection:

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Luxury Hotels in London: Hotel 41

The Hotel 41 is a small boutique hotel in a great location: right across the street from the Royal Mews and a short walk to Bukingham Palace and the underground train. It basically consists of the ground floor and the top floor of a building where you can find as well the Rubens at the Palace (which belongs to the same company).

Entrance: www.41hotel.com

The entrance – Source: www.41hotel.com

The top floor is an executive lounge which is basically the center of the house. You can have breakfast there, as well as you can access it for the Plunder in the Pantry from 8.30pm. Snacks are available for all hotel guests, which comes at handy if you come back to the hotel very tired and do not feel like eating outside. Beware, not everything is for free, which is why we advice to check with the staff in order to avoid some bad surprises in the bill.

Hotel 41: The Executive Lounge

The Executive Lounge – Source: www.tripadvisor.co.uk

We should point out that the Hotel 41 is a very small hotel: it consists of only 28 rooms, with a decoration that mixes modernity and 19th century taste. The lobby, the lift, the rooms, everything is smaller than the average; there is no spa, or a pool, or even a small gym. If you are a fan of large and spacious hotels, with huge common areas, this is not your cup of tea.

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Conservatory Suite – Source: www.41hotel.com

The key of the success and popularity of this hotel is  guest service. Being such a small hotel the trait with the guests is much more personal, the staff learns everybody’s name pretty quickly and all of them are trained to give a great service. The Concierge makes the impossible to book a table at the typical fully booked restaurant and is informed about the best activities and events. Housekeeping would turn down your bed each night and leave some sweets, light a candle and turn on some relaxing music

Comparable to others luxury hotels in london, it has very reasonable prices; nevertheless, you should consider it is a relatively new hotel, the finishing are still fresh. It is getting very good opinions over the internet, which why we can expect a raise of the prices during the next couple of years.

Your Bicentennial Concierge is always available for further information about this peculiar hotel. For other opinions you can refer to the following pages:

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The National Gallery of London

The National Gallery is among the most important attractions in London, and a must-see for those people who are passionate about arts. It is one of the richest art galleries in the whole world. You can appreciate its collection even if you are not an expert. The paintings, about 2300 pieces, cover a period from 1250 to 1900, and are located in different rooms.

For example, the High Renaissance is covered in the West Wing. where you can find paintings of Michelangelo, Rubens and El Greco among others. The most popular section is the East Wing (1700-1900), where Van Gogh and Monet hold court. The masterpieces of the National Gallery of London are very well known to the general public:

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Venus and Mars by Botticelli – Source: www.nationalgallery.org.uk

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Sunflowers by Van Gogh – Source www.nationalgallery.org.uk

The building is huge, you might need hours or even a couple of days in order to see all the paintings. Since its foundation  in 1824 it gradually grew thanks to private donations. If you do not have much time the best thing is to select a particular section so that you can see what interests you the most. The restaurants are quite good, if you feel like taking a break and continue with your visit after lunch.

The most astonishing fact is that you can access the National Gallery of London for free, you pay for the extras (map of the building, audioguides…) and for temporary expositions. Beware, the gifts shops are particularly expensive. The audioguides (3.50 pounds) can be very useful, although for some languages they are not complete and do not have comments for all the paintings. You can give a donation if you wish, either on site or online

Some parts might be closed, which is why it is better to check in advance. There have been some proposals for the privatization of the museum, which resulted in strikes and the consequent closure of some parts, due to the lack of staff. In such a case you might want to leave your visit for the future if there are some parts you really wanted to see or just enjoy the rest, there is more than enough.

Being one of the most important museum of the whole world, you might want to take covers and avoid the queues. This can be done if you access the building first thing is the morning (it opens at 10.00). The busiest time if from 15.00 to 18.00 approximately, especially if a group of students is visiting the museum. For a more personalised visit, you can book a private tour, just check the link below:

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Your Bicentennial Concierge remains at your disposal for further information.

Luxury Hotels in London: Corinthia Hotel

The Corinthia Hotel is everything you would expect from Luxury hotels in London. Best service, wonderful rooms and common areas decorated with modern taste. And a  great setting. It is a building which previously belonged to the Government, which was refurbished completely and given the function you can see today. It is very close to the metro station and several attractions can be reached by foot. The National gallery is only a few minutes away, while the British Museum can be easily reached with a cab in less than ten minutes. If you are using a car, the Corinthia has a parking which is quite expensive (55£), but worthy considering where it is located.

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Source: www.corinthia.com

Being a relatively new hotel, the style of the rooms is modern and elegant. There is everything you need for a comfortable stay; the minibar is full of quality products, and you will have a Nespresso coffee machine at your disposal. The bathroom is luxurious, the amenities are from the internationally recognised brand ESPA and there is a flat TV in case you want to relax in the bathtub.

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The Royal Penthouse – Source: www.corinthia.com

                                

Source: Youtube

As for the common areas, the hotel has two restaurants (The Northall and The Massimo) and two bars (The Bassoon and the Northall Bar). The Northall serves British food while the Massimo is more typically Italian. They are highly recommended if you do not feel like eating outside or for pre-theatre dining. Plus, the Corinthia has an excellent afternoon tea, which is served in the Alfresco entertaining area, recently refurbished by David Collins Studio. If you just want to sit and relax, there are as well a very nice lobby lounge and an inner courtyard with a fireplace in both sides.

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The Lobby Entrance – Source: www.telegraph.co.uk

The Spa is located on four different levels.  It can be accessed by the children for a few hours during the day. It uses the ESPA quality products.  The gym is well equipped and open for the guests 24 hours a day.

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Source: www.tripadvisor.com

For business trips, the Corinthia has several rooms for meeting and events,  most of them are relatively small but a couple  of them have a high capacity (up to 250 people). They are all very well equipped

The staff do their best in order to make your stay unforgettable, even according to some more demanding guests they are still on the way to the top standars. Anyhow, should you encounter any problem during your stay, there is a very efficient Guest Relations department ready to assist you.

The prices are high, some people even think it is overpriced although generally speaking it is in line with any other five star hotel of the city. It opened only four years ago, which means it has the potiential for being one of the best hotels in London. Your Bicentennial Concierge will remain at your disposal for further information. If you need to read more opinions on the hotel, please check the following:

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Luxury Penthouses in Central London : Four Bedrooms/Four Bathrooms

This Presidential Apartment is a wonderful option if you are looking for luxury penthouses in central London: four bedrooms, each one with its own bathroom and jacuzzi. It can sleep up to 8 people, which makes it ideal for families or  small groups looking for comfort and luxury in one of the best locations in the City.

Source: www.tripadvisor.com

The private entrance to the property gives you the highest level of privacy and intimacy. The tile is made of high quality wood and the common areas (living room and kitchen) are equipped with modern taste. The big windows makes it very bright.

There is air-conditioning, a flat screen TV with cable and satellite signal, sound system, a direct telephone with voice mail and wireless internet connection. The dining table is suitable for 8 people. There is a safe in case you need, too.

Source: www.tripadvisor.com

The kitchen is equipped with everything required in a luxury apartment, such as a washing mashine with drier, dishwasher, microwave, a kettle and a toaster.

Source: www.tripadvisor.com

The Penthouse is located in a building with other luxury apartments, and is supported by the services typical of a top class hotel: maid and laundry services (linens and towels are provided), 24-hour reception/concierge, business facilities and security service in the common areas (including the garage).

For those people who like to train while they are on holiday, there is a nice gym in the building for a general yet complete workout. You can find cardiovascular machines and exercise materasses, and a good sound and visual equipment.
A security deposit, such as an authorization on your credit card is required in order to cover the incidentals and possible damages.  The authorisation will be cancelled after check out once the bill has been settled.

You can contact the management of the building or book directly (the property has payment protection):

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Your Bicentennial Concierge remains at your disposal for any doubts or for further assistance.







Alfileritos 24, Modern Restaurant in Toledo

This modern restaurant in Toledo is a good option if you are in town and are looking for something which is not too much touristy.
The building is an old house, which has been fully restored. From the outside it looks old, while the decoration inside is definitely modern, a mixture of wood, steel and glass. It consists of two different sections: the ground and first floor are for menus, tapas and drinks, while the upper ones make the actual restaurant, with the tables disposed around the classical central patio. The music is pleasant, and creates a nice ambiance. That is why we suggest Alfileritos 24: whether you are looking for tapas and a couple of drinks or if you prefer having a full meal, this restaurant is definitely a valuable choice. You can even have breakfast here, both salty and sweet.

 

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Source: www.tripadvisor.es

As for the food itself, there are some good typical dishes even though there is not too much choice; nevertheless, they offer some alternatives for the little kids or for people with special dietary need (i.e. celiacs). Some of the dishes, nicely elaborated, are pretty much appreciated and have a very good value for money. For example, the deer meat, the typical croquetas or the marzipan soufflé are sure choices. If you prefer fish there are some possibilities, although it is not the restaurant specialty. Make sure you try the famous Iberian ham, either alone or with toasted bread; you will not be disappointed. The wine menu is interesting, too.

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Source: restaurantesdetoledo.com

The staff is nice and attentive, although when the place is full they tend to work faster and leave some of the customers unattended, especially during week-ends. Still, they work hard in order to give a good service.

In conclusion, if you are in the Old Town of Toledo and are looking for a good tapas restaurant for lunch or a nice restaurant for dinner, without being too fancy, Alfileritos 24 deserves a visit. For more opinions please check:

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You can book online (http://www.alfileritos24.com/) or through your Bicentennial Concierge.

St. Regis Punta Mita Resort – One of the best Hotels in Punta de Mita

The St. Regis Punta Mita Resort is one of the best hotels in Punta de Mita. It is located on the Pacific coast of Mexico, in a quiet secured setting, along with other luxury hotels, restaurants, condos and two golf courses. It is ideal for a romantic gateaway or for a nice vacation with your family. Awesome if you like golf, not so much if you are looking for a business hotel.

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Source: www.hoteliernews.com.ar

It consists of 120 rooms, the majority of which are double deluxe (84), while the rest are Junior Suites and Suites. They are all very comfortable, with the best room amenities, wireless internet (paid separately) and an outdoor shower, which is pretty much appreciated by the guests. The view can either be to the Ocean, to the Garden or to the Beach.

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Presidential Suite – Source: www.flickr.com

The resort is built horizontally, which means that even though it is fully booked, you will not have the sensation of staying in a crowded hotel. There are three different swimming pools: the Beach Club Pool, the Family Pool and the Adult Only Pool. There are plenty of chairs and sunbeds, sometimes you might feel like you are the only guests at the hotel. The beach is wide and long, quite rocky so do not forget your shoes.

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Source: www.tripadvisor.es

After a couple of days of relaxation, you might consider taking one of the many activities organised by and whithin the hotel. You can take a bike tour into the community, see how to make a fabulous Margarita or go to the cultural centre and learn the basics of the Spanish Language. At the same time, if you have kids they can entertain themselves in la Tortuga Childrens’ Club.

The gym is small but complete. Water-related sports can be arranged as well. The Remède Spa is ideal in case you want to relax completely and take a break from the beach. It has 10 treatment rooms, among which a Couple Luxury’s Suite. Imagine that on your Honeymoon!

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Source: livepuntamita.com

The Food & Beverage part of the hotel is varied. Las Marietas is the restaurant located next to the Family Pool, open for breakfast. For lunch it offers some dishes of the typical Mexican cuisine. The Sea Breeze is open for lunch and dinner, and offers a wide choice of Latin American food, in a casual setting; at the Sea Breeze Bar you can have the St. Regis signature cocktail: the Bloody Mary. The Carolina is the most luxurious of the three, the best choice if you feel like having a fancy, international meal.

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Restaurant Carolina – Source: www.restaurantcarolina.com

Beside the three alternatives just mentioned, you can have a light meal at the pool or right at the beach at Mita Mary: basically a boat on the sand where they make very good tacos.

Most of the guests like having lunch or dinner at the hotel; some other prefer to go out and try some other restaurant, like the Sufi whithin the same community or Si Señor in the neighbouring town.

The service at this hotel deserves a special paragraph, because it makes the difference among several luxury hotels in the area. The whole staff is trained to be helpful and professional, but the butler service is the glue that joins all the departments. Upon arrival you can download an application for your smartphone, which keeps you in constant contact with your butler: morning coffee, packing/unpacking, all you have to do is ask.

In conclusion, the St. Regis Punta Mita Resort is a top class hotel which will not disappoint you, if you are looking for quiet, relaxation and the best service. For further information and assistance, your Bicentennial Concierge remains at your disposal. In case you want to know other people’s opinion, please check the following links:

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Luxury Villa in Reunion Island

This Luxury Villa in Reunion Island, with amazing views over the Boucan Canot beach (5 minutes walk) is ideal for families or small groups of up to 10 people (+ 3 kids). It has a living area of 300sqm on a plot of 2,000sqm.

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Source: www.tripadvisor.com

The house features 5 furnished double rooms (all of them with air conditioning) and 4 bathrooms with separate toilets. There is also 1 extra room for maximum 3 kids, with air conditioning, but without bathroom.

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Source: www.tripadvisor.com

The luxurious lounge – dining room has a flat screen, cable TV, a DVD player, hi-fi equipment and access to unlimited Internet.

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Source: www.tripadvisor.com

The kitchen is fully equipped with dishwasher, fridge with freezer, stove (four gas hobs), oven, microwave, Nespresso coffee machine, toaster and kettle.

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Source: www.tripadvisor.com

The laundry, which is an outdoor room, is equipped with washing machine, ironing board and steam iron; it is available on request.

The living room has direct access to the pool (9.00 x 4,50m, salty water), sunbathing chairs and teak lounger.

A 100sqm terrace with lounge and outdoor dining is right next to the pool.

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Source: www.tripadvisor.com

The upper garden of 1,500 sqm, has a volleyball court. Outdoor games equipment is provided (tennis rackets, badminton rackets, ping pongs rackets, steel bowls), as well as beach equipment.
This house is secured with automatic gate, security code, intercom and beeper. You can park your vehicle (up to four cars) inside the gate of the Villa.

There is Housekeeping service three times a week; linen is provided and changed once a week. Private cooking is possible with an extra fee.

The gardener and the pool keeper will pass by the villa for the regular maintenance once a week.
To firmly book the villa, a check for 40% of the total rental will be required.
The balance will be paid on the day of arrival when the keys are given . A security deposit of 2000 euros will also be required.

You can contact the owner of the property for more information. Your Bicentennial Concierge is always available for further help.

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