8 Dec 2016

Where to stay in Goa this party season

December means party season, and for most of us in Mumbai that means only one thing - pack off to Goa! Whether you're heading to Goa for Christmas or New Year's Eve, or just like that, deciding where to stay is always the big question. 

Should you go North (Anjuna, Baga, Calangute) or head South (Colva, Varca, Palolem)? Each beach has its own charms and it really depends on what kind of experience you're looking for. 

Calangute is, of course, party central! It's the largest beach in North Goa and is a tourist magnet. Unsurprisingly, you will find many hotel options around here. And recently a new hotel has been added to the mix.

Image courtesy ibis Styles Calangute Goa
India's first ibis Styles opened near Calangute in September this year. The ibis brand (part of Accor Group) has been in India for several years now, but this is the first time the group is bringing its 'Styles' brand to the country. 

21 Nov 2016

Wellness Retreat at Atmantan Resort, Pune

I woke up to some great news today. Hello Travel has featured Deliciously Directionless in their list of Top Food & Travel Blogs of 2016! And I'm in some great company here with some fabulous blogs on the list. Check out the list here

While I float on cloud nine, the list has also given me a much-needed kick in the pants. I know that the blog has been a bit ignored lately since I was travelling extensively and also more focussed on my feature writing. But 2017 is going to be the year of the blog! So expect more frequent updates here. And though the New Year is a few weeks away, there's no time like the present to start. So, here's my recent wellness experience at Atmantan Resort in neighbouring Pune. 

It was August and peak rainy days of what has been a very wet monsoon this year. But it is the best time to drive from Mumbai to Pune, zigzagging down the Western Ghats, admiring the Sahyadris awash with rains and gleaming fifty shades of green. I had signed up for a three-day retreat at Atmantan and I was looking forward to spending time away from my laptop (my first trip this year without my trusty Mac!). As I drove past villages, farms, grazing cows, and sugarcane and paddy fields, I could already feel the calm that comes from leaving the city behind. Now if only the roads were better; each bump jolted me out of my reverie...

28 Oct 2016

The NYC Pumpkin Collection - Halloween in photos

Concrete jungle where dreams are made of
There's nothing you can't do
Now you're in New York
These streets will make you feel brand new
Big lights will inspire you
Hear it from New York, New York, New York!

I have just returned from the Big Apple, and while everything in the lyrics quoted above is true, I think I saw a slightly slower, softer side of New York - fall colours everywhere, a city gearing up for its biggest festivals of the year, and I do believe I saw quite a few New Yorkers actually smile :D 

Since Halloween is just around the corner, and since I went berserk photographing pumpkins (and brownstones) all over Manhattan and Brooklyn, here's a bunch of pretty Jack-o'-lanterns for you to gaze at. Forget the New York Fashion Week, this is the real 'fall collection'! 

14 Sep 2016

48 hours in Varanasi - what to see, do and eat, and where to stay

“Banaras is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, and looks twice as old as all of them put together”. Mark Twain's description of Varanasi all those years ago still holds true. 

My husband and I were in Varanasi at the invitation of Plush Escapes and we stayed at Suryauday Haveli at Shivala Ghat - a charming, intimate boutique hotel overlooking the mighty Ganga. 

See my video of Shivala Ghat below.

It was our first visit to the oldest living city in the world. The airport is quite modern & swishy (I was pleasantly surprised), but as we made our way towards the city, I could see the truth behind Twain's words.

The airport is at least an hour away from the city, and by the time we got to the hotel, we just wanted to rest a bit (considering we arrived from Mumbai on a 7.30 a.m. flight!). Stepping inside the haveli, it's easy to forget all the noise and chaos of Varanasi. It's just so peaceful! 

See the sunrise on Shivala Ghat video below

Read about our experience at Suryauday Haveli, Varanasi on the Plush Escapes blog. Meanwhile, here's my 48-hour mini-guide for Varanasi. 

9 Aug 2016

Feel at home with Ovolo Hotels in Sydney (plus an Ovolo discount code inside!)

The number of hotels I have stayed at - I have lost count.

The number of hotels I remember vividly - less than ten!

Most hotels follow this cookie-cutter format when it comes to rooms, so much so that you can rarely them apart. This is true not just of the hotel chains (where they probably need to maintain a consistent look), but many stand-alone & 'boutique" hotels fall into that trap as well. But I'm glad to see that there is a slow change across the industry, and a genuine attempt at breaking the mould. 

Hong Kong-based Ovolo Group is one such boutique hotel chain. I have now stayed at four of their properties across Hong Kong & Australia (read my post on Ovolo Southside Hotel, HK), and while each of them bears a distinctive Ovolo stamp, they still manage to retain an individual personality. 

So let me take you on a photo (and video) journey around Ovolo's two properties in Sydney - Ovolo 1888 Darling Harbour and Ovolo Woolloomooloo.