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Rogue Bar + Bistro, Newstead

Before trying out a new café or restaurant, I always check out the menu to see if it tickles my fancy (maybe I don’t live life as close on the edge as I had thought) and my first reaction was ‘silly buggers forgot to upload the other side of the menu’. But it’s definitely the case of quality over quantity here. Rogue Bar + Bistro offers a selection of 9 breakfast options and even though my first impressions were a bit on the gloomier side, I was reverted back instantly when I saw just what those 9 options were – hello truffled scrambled eggs and red velvet waffles!

Being mine & my sister’s birthday week, we had arranged to have a family brunch to catch up with each other and celebrate our 22 and 24 years of life. From the get-go everything was beyond flawless – the interiors were beaming with natural light, the service was impeccable and the food, well, I would have died the happiest person after those meals (and yes, meals is meant to be a plural). When we have a brunch for a special occasion, it is our family ritual to have a dessert breakfast, whether it be shared with one other person or amongst the table and no matter how full I may be from my first breakfast, I can always find some extra space for some sweet goodness. So I definitely feel as though I got a good taste for my buck and can certainly speak for the 9 others on the table when I say it was breathtakingly good.

I would highly recommend the mushroom & truffled scrambled eggs – it just melts in your mouth and everything on the plate compliments each other so superbly (note: we swapped out the pancetta crumbs for avocado to make it vegetarian friendly). If you’ve got a bit of a sweet tooth, or fancy getting amongst the ritual of a breakfast dessert, the pancakes with blueberry, salted caramel and chocolate ganache is a serious work of art and will not have you with any regrets!

To give you a little preview of the service you can expect from the lovely gents & ladies at Rogue I will tell you about my experience and how one of their staff members really put the icing on the top of the cake. Although it was quite obvious that it was mine and my sister’s birthday’s (bulk present unwrapping and card reading) she had the initiative to go out of her way and organise for sparklers to come out on mine and my sister’s meals. Everyone on the table looked back and forth at each other, thinking, ‘who on earth organised this?’ and well, we were all shell-shocked. Although there was no Happy Birthday song (she did excuse herself), it was so spectacular to see somebody go so above and beyond to make a customer’s experience extraordinary. I wish I had grabbed her name, but there was so much happening that I never even thought about it until now, but kudo’s to the mystery, bright-eyed girl. You are a true gem to the Rogue team.

It has been three days since I dined in at Rogue and I am already looking forward to heading back for dinner, or even just ducking in to grab some truffled scrambled eggs and top quality coffee. If you do head there, please be sure to comment your thoughts and share what you had!

Stay bright, light and colourful.

Soph x

Hong Kong’s funkiest hostel: Hop Inn

One thing that most people do know about traveling to Hong Kong is that accommodation rarely ever follows the whole ‘value for money’ concept, so it’s fair to say that I had a skewered idea when it came to choosing where to stay for my one week of adventure. I can tell you now, I made the best decision to stay at the very lovely Hop Inn. It has to be one of the only hostels that does offer accommodation for those on a budget whilst still maintaining a high quality of bedding and furniture, excellent customer service and rooms so spacious that you won’t be left feeling like Harry Potter in the cupboard under the stairs.

As I am extremely indecisive, I made the smart move to stay at both Hop Inn on Mody and Hop Inn on Carnarvon to really get the best of both worlds. Both are incredibly well located in Kowloon with just a few minutes’ walk to Tsim Sha Tsui station where it’s just a hop, skip and a jump away (3 stops on the MTR to be precise) to Mong Kok which is the place to be for all the crazy action. The Star Ferry is also only a 10-minute walk away which will take you over to Hong Kong Island for a look at more of the glitz and glamour.Why stare endlessly at a flimsy map when you’ve got this incredible wall-sized map in the communal room.

From the lovely, bright-eyed staff to the art filled decor, Hop Inn is guaranteed to make you feel warm at home, a quality that is so hard to find when travelling, especially in Asia. One of my favourite aspects of the accommodation was how they utilised the space to make it feel like an open sanctuary. The common rooms are filled with funky travel mementos gathered from around the world as well as greenery and sweet little touches like free water and tea making facilities to make those early mornings more manageable. Each room is unique to the next, with local artists showing off their talents on the four walls of the bedroom. This built excitement for me in the lead up to my stay as I couldn’t wait to see what art I would get to stare at for those late nights in bed (it’s a lot better then counting how many times the fan will spin in 10 seconds).

Not only is Hop inn, one of my favourite hostels that I have ever stayed in, it was also one of the cleanest! I honestly don’t even think I could classify it as a hostel, it’s just so damn superior to all of the others! It really does tick all of the boxes, with affordability on one sector and location on the other.

I am absolutely positive that you will have a sublime stay at Hop Inn and it will make your trip to Hong Kong just that extra bit special.

First impressions DO matter. This is the entrance to Hop Inn on Mody where I spent my first night in Hong Kong staying in their 6 bed dormitory.  At last a mirror selfie that I actually didn’t have to worry about someone coming in and having to awkwardly cover up that I wasn’t taking my 12th picture to get the perfect photo.  Hop Inn Carnarvon – Single Room. And yes, the blanket was as fluffy as it looks.  Trust me, these taps actually do go steaming hot and freezing cold. Carnarvon’s funky communal room will keep your eyes amused for hours on end. The free coffee and tea will also help. 

To book your stay with Hop Inn, jump on over to their website http://www.hopinn.hk/index_en.php  and be sure to mention this post!

All the love in the world,

Soph xo

A night at Gold Coast’s finest Boutique Hotel: QT.

I hate to admit it, but even the most seasoned travellers get over having to share a bedroom with 13 other people sometimes. Don’t get me wrong, I do love the hostel life; its’ great to be able to meet so many different people and to actually be able to afford to travel and see the world but there does come a point in time when you just need a guaranteed hot shower, a warm cosy bed and to not have to worry about whether your valuables will make it through the night (it also means you can sleep naked, booyah). So when I do get to stay in hotels, boy do I do it well…I’m talking ocean view, romantic packages and of course breakfast included. Just like the hostels I stay in, I endeavour to find the funkiest and most reputable hotels to ensure that every part of me is happy with making the bold move to spend as much as I would on a week’s accommodation for one night in ultimate luxury.

After a month of intense travels, a 24-hour journey home and not having seen James since I left on the 13th of January, I couldn’t have pictured a better way to spend our first night back together than with a stay at QT Gold Coast. From the open and stylish interiors of the lobby to the bubbly and bright staff members that made you feel like you were right at home, the experience was nothing short of amazing and sure did make some killer first impressions. So here are my 5 top reasons as to why QT Gold Coast is your one stop shop for your accommodation for your next beach vacay!

  1. We were able to check in at 9am and check out at 12pm all FREE OF CHARGE. You ask how this is possible? Well, we simply just called up on the morning of check in and voila, room was all ready to rumble, no fine print at all. I am sure that this would vary depending on how busy the hotel is, but what an incredible way to get the very most out of our limited time. What made it even better was that the staff were more than happy to go the extra mile to make this happen, making us feel welcomed and looked after from the get go.We stayed in the Ocean View Twin room which was perfect. Everything was so plush, clean and felt uber fresh. I am surprised I managed to snag a quick photo of it before James jumped on it! 
  2. The food. Hoooooly smokes. Their dinner and breakfast spread is out of this world and you can usually snag some great value with their ‘bed and breakfast’ deal. Feast your eyes for them when you are booking as I am sure you will not regret it when you are 3 plates deep and going in for your 4th. Although I didn’t have dinner this time round, I have experienced the culinary evening delights prior to my stay and am positive that it will send you into a food overdrive. They cater for all, with a strong emphasis on vegetarian and gluten free diets and have plenty of healthy food options like chia seed puddings, freshly squeezed juices and a cook to order omelette station for breakfast. With this in mind, they do also have those guilty pleasures like bottomless choccy milk, waffles, pancakes and dozens of French pastries.
  3. The Romantic Package. Remember how I said that I don’t go easy when booking a hotel? Well, this is one of the reasons why. For just a small price, we were able to add on the Romantic Getaway package which is available for weekend stays. With this, you get chocolates, champagne (I’m talking a full bottle, not just two glasses), robes to keep and that winning breakfast all included. The price difference will vary depending on demand, but we paid just $40 extra, which is such a steal when the breakfast alone is $32 per person!
  4. The superb location. Although it may not be beach front, QT is situated just a 2-minute walk to the beach, making it super accessible for those morning sunrise walks. It has the proximity of Surfers Paradise only being a 10-minute walk away whilst giving you that little bit of peace and quiet that you find when staying in a top notch hotel. The beach is just as sublime as the hotel and is supervised by life savers making it safe for all. With the help of a little bit of zoom, this was the view from our balcony. We ended up bringing fish and chips back to the room and sat outside watching the waves tumble upon each other. 
  5. The quality and designs of not just the room but the whole hotel, even the lifts! QT prides itself on its quirky yet stylish and modern designs, and this sure does come alive as soon as you step foot into the lobby. From the brightly coloured décor and abstract art to the vintage dressed and very enthusiastic staff members, QT hits you with all the feels to bring you back in time. The room’s mini bar stretches to include portion size Mumm Champagne, sunscreen; because slip, slop, slap and games like dominoes and matchsticks for those cosy nights in. There really is something for everybody! I couldn’t think of a better way to wake up, than to wake up to the sun rising over the ocean. How beautiful is this?! So worth the extra money for an Ocean View.  These danishes were unreal. It felt like I was in a French Patisserie not a hotel buffet breakfast!  This was our little platter included in our Romantic Package. The only thing to fault was that there was only ONE STRAWBERRY. Who on earth wants to share a white chocolate dipped strawberry?!? Okay I sincerely apologise for not putting in the effort to frame this photograph of my breakfast but I was so hungry! Featuring quite possibly the best scrambled eggs ever (sorry Mum), homemade tomato relish, vegetarian hash browns, creamy mushrooms, dark rye toast and a perfectly poached egg. This went down like a treat! The lobby’s decor went as far as hundreds of colourful lollies in a humongous jars. You can eat them right?!

I was so hesitant on leaving QT and am definitely going to be a hotel snob after staying here – I couldn’t fault an absolute thing! If you are heading to the Gold Coast for a romantic getaway, family vacay, girls weekend or anything in between, QT has it all sorted for you. You can head to https://www.qthotelsandresorts.com to book your stay now, I am 110% positive that you will not regret it.All the love in the world,

Soph xx

The best way to experience Saigon

Three things that make me very happy are good company, mouth-watering food and a heart racing thrill– and Saigon Food Tours did exactly that. From the get go, I was welcomed by my local tour guide ‘TB’ outside my hostel with so much warmth and excitement that he even managed to steer away my nerves about hopping on the back of a scooter during peak hour traffic in Saigon. I did the ‘Taste of the Night’ tour and opted for the Vegetarian route – which luckily meant that it was one-on-one. Why do you ask why I seem so happy about not being social with other people? Well…it meant that I got to know TB on a more personal level and for moments I felt like I was the presenter of one of those old-school travel shows like Getaway – it was a real VIP moment okay. Most of the tours will usually be private – but if you do pick a popular day they may invite you to join another group or select another time slot/day. The tour started at 5:30pm and during the four hours we went to four different local street food spots and cafes, and at each stop there were multiple dishes along with drinks to try. When you add it all up it was more like 11 courses over a period of four hours (THAT’S HOW MUCH I CONSUME IN LIKE TWO DAYS so don’t worry if you feel like a rolling pin by the end of the night) so you really do get the ultimate tester of Vietnamese food.This is the Vietnamese pancake or what the locals call Banh Xeo. It was hands down my favourite dish of the night. 

Alike how the tour started, I will leave most of it to a surprise so you can go discover it yourself, but what I will say, is that this tour is 110% worth it and I would highly recommend doing it on your first night in Saigon so you can navigate some of the greatest food spots for the rest of your time in Vietnam. You will gain so much knowledge on the Vietnamese language and culture whilst being able to stuff your face with food so heavenly and secretive that it will leave your friends and family green with envy.

If you do decide to hop on board with the Saigon Food Tours company be sure to request TB as your guest and give him a friendly hug from me. His English is superb, has a background in tourism, knows how to maneuverer a scooter through the crazy traffic exceptionally well and added bonus: he even has his own breakdancing crew (how funky is that?)

Let me know what your thoughts are on the tour if you go ahead with booking – I am sure you won’t regret it!

Lots of love,

Soph xx