Sunday, February 28, 2016


With front row seats for Hong Kong’s nightly laser show and adjacent to Harbour City and its mega-shopping centre with anything for everybody, sits a hotel its namesake could never have imagined.

Marco Polo’s fabled and fabulous (and some say fabricated) tales of his journey across Asia have turned his memory into an icon for groundbreaking and exciting ventures.

So it’s not a big leap of imagination to call a chain of ultra-sleek hotels after him. Begun in 1969, the Marco Polo Hotel Group has since spread across China, Hong Kong and the Philippines.

Welcome pack.

Recently I stayed in the group’s flagship hotel, Marco Polo Hongkong Hotel, in Canton Road at Tsim Sha Tsui, and gleefully accepted my upgrade to a room with a view. And what a view! My window looked out over the top of Harbour City, across Victoria Harbour filled with its bustling traffic of water craft, towards Hong Kong Island where we would water the night’s light show play out on the city buildings later.

Comfy bed
In addition, we were accorded the privilege of access to the Canton Lounge and popped in several times for the good coffee and varying snacks – dim sum, madeleines, sandwiches, Portuguese tarts – and a table where we could settle down with laptops. We could have come for breakfast too, but the main breakfast room was worth experiencing: every conceivable breakfast dish, including of course great HK yum cha offerings.

Canton Lounge
I have to admit that the lounge was not strictly necessary for work purposes. I hinted that the food and coffee was a major draw, didn’t I? Our room itself was more high-tech than almost anywhere else, with a Handy Phone that kept us connected for free.

If Marco Polo has continued in the afterlife as a time-traveller, he would love this place. The trouble is, when he returned his friends would never believe the stories of what he found on offer in his namesake accommodation in Hong Kong.

‘There’s old Marco again,’ they’d say, ‘always exaggerating!’

Marco Polo Hongkong Hotel, Harbour City, Kowloon, Hong Kong,

BY GUEST BLOGGER - Pics & text : ©Sally Hammond 2016

Sunday, February 21, 2016

New museum in Vienna

A museum for the waltz king 

Johann Strauss-Denkmal, Stadtpark     

Only Vienna could do a museum like this justice. The Johann Strauss Dynasty Museum in the ninth district is the first museum in the world to focus on the history and artistic output of the entire Strauss clan: from Johann Strauss the Elder and the waltz king Johann Strauss the Younger to his two brothers Josef and Eduard. Visitors can also look forward to an impressive range of pictures and documents that bring Biedermeier-era Vienna to life. Audio stations dotted throughout the museum give fans a chance to listen to popular and less well known pieces from the family canon as often as they like, without interruption.

Tanzszene in Dommayers Casino

Johann Strauss (1825-1899), known to family and friends as Schani, his father Johann and his brothers Josef and Eduard took the world by storm with their music. With 1,500 works between them, from Die Fledermaus and The Radetzky March to the Blue Danube Waltz,  they embody Viennese music like no others. Their waltz and operetta melodies can be heard in the capital’s concert halls throughout the year as well as at the traditional New Year’s Concert which is broadcast all over the world from the Golden Hall of the Musikverein.

Strauss, Karikatur Josef und seine Brüder

It goes without saying that there is a Johann Strauss monument in Vienna. This golden statue of the waltz king playing his violin can be found in the Stadtpark, a short distance from the Kursalon. The Vienna Philharmonic played at its unveiling in 1921 and today it is one of the most photographed sights in the city. Johann Strauss II composed Vienna’s unofficial anthem The Blue Danube in an apartment at Praterstrasse 54 in the second district in 1867 where he lived with his first wife Jetty from 1863-1870. In addition to original furnishings and period instruments, exhibits include everyday objects from the great musician’s estate as well as portraits, photos, and documents on his life and work. The waltz king was laid to rest at Vienna’s legendary Central Cemetery, near the graves of Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms and Johann Strauss the Elder.

Hofball-Musikdirektor Johann Strauss mit seiner Kapelle


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Singapore After Dark


When you think of exciting night-time destinations, Singapore may not historically have been on your shortlist, however the Lion City has well and truly grown up, with a range of eclectic experiences that suit all tastes and budgets. While many automatically associate Singapore with popular day activities like the Singapore Zoo, Sentosa and shopping, it’s when the sun goes down and the temperature drops, that you find almost a different city coming to life, but still packed with world-class attractions, cutting edge bars and dining options.

Here are some of our favourite activities to discover once the sun goes down:

1-Altitude Bar: Situated 282m above ground, take in breathtaking views of the Singapore cityscape whilst tantilising your tastebuds with their refreshing signature cockatil, the ‘Zen Breeze’, made with vodka, green tea, lemongrass and mint.

Night Safari: Spot nocturnal animals and wildlife at the world’s first night safari park. Sit back in a train, go on a walking trail with leopards or watch the creatures of the night show!

Hawker Food: For the real authentic taste of Singapore, visit any of the local hawker centres and outdoor alfresco dining areas scattered across the city. Try Boon Tat Street for famous satay, Makansutra’s Gluttons Bay for more iconic dishes like Hainanese Chicken Rice or Char Kway Teow, or be adventurous and head farther afield to suburban Chomp Chomp, a local favourite.

Late Night Shopping: Open 24 hours, shop up a storm at Mustafa Centre in Little India, buying anything from shampoo, to perfume or even a car! 

Supper: Travellers can enjoy a late night sweet treat at one of the many cafes, which are open around the clock, such as award winning favourite 2am Dessert Bar, run by Chef Janice Wong. Try their signature dish: cassis plum – a Monet-style masterpiece comprising cassis bombe, elderflower yoghurt foam, plum liqueur and bamboo shoot delight.

For more information on Singapore, please visit:

Monday, February 1, 2016

NEW: Following the Fishermen's Trail in Portugal

NEW: Following the Fishermen's Trail in Portugal:, the cycling and walking holiday specialists, have just launched a new coastal trail: the magnificent Rota Vicentina Fishermen's Trail in South West Portugal.