Imbibing In Iberia (or if you prefer) Cuba Libre Continental Style

For the next several posts you will be transported through Portugal and Spain with a dash of London thrown in for flavor at the end.  You will not be boarding a luxury Globus motorcoach, as I recently did, but rather you will be borne along on the fluffy clouds of my velvety prose.

Globus Touring CoachThose of you who live for my next pulsating post no doubt have noticed a dearth of such missives of late.  The explanation is as simple as it is depressive.  For the past few weeks I have been toiling like a serf rather than traveling like a sovereign.  Oh, the humanity!   I feel your compassion oozing across cyberspace even as I write these words but, take comfort, dear heart, I have learned how to steel myself against life’s injustices.

Thank goodness my interminable season of discontent ended on September 23rd when the wife and I boarded a British Airways flight bound for Lisbon by way of London.  Simply return to this site on a regular basis and you can follow along on my grand adventure.

Where to start?  Why don’t we begin with a theme that emerged quite by happenstance?  On the evening of the first full day in Lisbon, I wandered into the bar at the Sofitel Lisbon Liberdade (I am sure I was looking for the sundry store) when I decided to pause for an ever so modest libation.  I ordered a rum and coke, my cocktail of choice, and was quite delighted with the presentation.  So, I snapped a picture and posted this comment on my Facebook page:

“Every bar has a rum and coke. Leave it to the Sofitel Liberdade Lisbon to add the nuts, cranberries, olives AND a bowl for the pits!”

Rum & Coke Sofitel LiberdadeWhen we arrived to the Gran Melia Colon in Sevilla who would have guessed they also had a bar!  Is it my fault that they place the darn things so close to the sundry shops?  I ordered my customary drink and here is what they brought.

Rum & Coke Gran Melia ColonThe post on Facebook read:

“OK, tonight’s rum and Coke in Seville #GranMeliaColon is served with orange slices, peanuts, chocolate and gumdrops.”

I thought this was a particularly nice glass.

I know my readers are unusually astute so no doubt you see the pattern developing here.  Unconsciously (which is, by the way, how I operate most of the time), I was developing my own metric for comparing the various hotels on our itinerary.  The pressure started to build to see if the next venue could rise to the rum and coke test.

Our third stop was at the Alhambra Palace Hotel in Granada. I suppose it is pointless at this juncture to pretend there was a sundry shop anywhere near the bar.  Anyway, I was oRum & Coke Alhambra Palace Hoteln a mission.  I was not succumbing to self-indulgence, I repeatedly told myself, but rather performing scholarly research.

My Facebook post for the evening read:

“Tonight’s rum and coke at the Hotel Alhambra Palace in Granada comes with a sunset!”

Our fourth and final stop in Spain was at the Gran Melia Fenix in Madrid.  With my Rum and Coke Gran Melia Fenixresearch pad in hand, I went in quest of the bar.  Have you ever noticed that in nice hotels the bars are hardly ever difficult to find?  The evening comment in Facebook read:

The Gran Melia Fenix in Madrid offers dark rum and coke with green cherries and a beautiful mural and red rose behind the bar.”

At this point, you might assume that our little rum and coke tour has mercifully ended but you would be wrong Spanish olive breath!   Unless you have been playing your own drinking game and downing a rum and coke every time I said the word “Facebook”, you might recall I mentioned that there was a brief stop in London at the end.

Our final two nights were spent at the One AldwychMy final Facebook post (time for another swig, game players) read:

“Tonight’s rum and coke at ‪#‎onealdwych‬ London features black cherries, green olives, nuts & the most cosmopolitan city in the world!”

Rum & Coke One AldwychNow we really have reached the end.  What would research be, however, without a scientific poll?  Here is your chance to participate.

You can view all the pictures I took on this trip here.

Be sure to come back soon and we will visit each of these spectacular hotels and much of the Portuguese and Spanish countryside.  It will be fun, I promise . . . especially if you bring your own rum and coke!

One Aldwych, Five Stars, Fifteen Years

Prestige, for any luxury hotel, begins with a distinguished name and quite often encompasses a noteworthy address.   Waldorf Astoria, 301 Park AvenueThe Peninsula Beverly Hills, South Santa Monica BoulevardAnantara Dubai The Palm, East Crescent

Somehow, One Aldwych has managed to marry both in one succinct name.  Let’s be honest, you are not going to mistake their name for a small motor lodge on the outskirts of Topeka, Kansas.  The fact that the hotel is located in the heart of Covent Garden adds additional luster to anyone longing to find ground zero in the pulsating heart of London.

One Aldwych Covent GarderThere are so many good things to say about this luxury hotel I hardly know where to start (which is unusual for me because normally I don’t know when to stop!)   I will let you judge the exterior for yourself by this image.  Does this not look like the sort of welcome sight you would long to return to after an exhausting day of trudging around London?.  To me it screams home away from home which is strange, I suppose, since it looks nothing like my recently downsized domicile.

The public areas inside are, if anything, even more impressive.  Animal lovers take a deep breath.  This is not some unfortunate canine papered over with comic strips by an One Aldwych, Covent Garden lobbyeccentric dowager from Stow On The Wold.  It is simply The Beano dog (for 75 years Britain’s number one comic) “Spencer” who patiently lingers at reception to greet you.

If you at first found this picture unsettling, I have no idea what you will make of some of the other great art scattered throughout the hotel such as this piece called, fittingly I suppose, “The Oarsman”.  We have a saying in Texas One Aldwych The Oarsmanabout braggarts that they are “all hat and no cattle”.  I guess you would have to say that this poor chap is “all oars and no boat”.   The hotel has original artwork throughout wych you can view here.  (Sorry, just too easy.)

One of the many great things about this property is its location.  And trust me, as someone who has been to London almost twenty times and has walked the shoe leather off a couple of pair of shoes, location is extremely important.  The tube (subway) system is great (get a pass from your trusty travel agent before you leave) and taxis are ubiquitous (and very dear, as the Brits like to say) but even so, if you are the adventurous sort, you will find yourself doing a lot of walking.

The hotel has the neatest little online map pointing out fifteen great things to do, one for each year of their history, don’t you see?  Some are interesting restaurants, some shopping suggestions, others are exhibitions running this summer and they even offer theatre (British spelling) suggestions.  As a quick aside, as a lover of words, one of my favorite aspects of British life is the not so subtle differences in language.  As George Bernard Shaw is reputed to have said, “The United States and Great Britain are two countries separated by a common language.”

One Aldwych studio suiteLet’s do one more thing right and splurge a little on one of the signature Studio Suites.  These are stunning circular rooms at the apex of the hotel.  Check out (before you check in) a list of features and amenities of this room category.

A couple of other quick items before I conclude.  They do a marvelous afternoon tea with a twist.  Not a twist of lemon . . . it curdles the cream . .  but a theme inspired by Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  You simply must take a look at this unique presentation.   For those compulsive personalities for whom walking ten miles a day is simply inadequate to maintain their obnoxious state of buffness, there is a very nice fitness center and 18 metre (there they go again) chlorine-free swimming pool.

Spa Treatments at One AldwychShould you require my presence, however, I shall be found in the nearby spa not doing anything but rather being done to!