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5 of the world’s best ice-cream parlours

The team at mypootle are always on the lookout for a lip smackingly good ice-cream. We are just back from Puglia where there was no end of tasty, fruit filled arty gelato but the good news is that you don’t need to go to Italy to get a lick of the good stuff, so here’s our selection of some of the best around…

Heladería La Fiorentina, Sevilla.
Joaquín Liria creates innovative ice creams based on some of the city’s most prominent scents.  There is a huge array of flavours – but try these: springtime’s ‘FLOR DE AZAHAR’ (the smell of Spring as the orange trees blossom) or the ‘LIMONE CON HIERBABUENA’, which captures the unique flora of a classic Sevillian patio space – amazing! (c/ Zaragoza, 16, 41001 Sevilla). EME Cathedral Hotel is less than 10-mins away.
mypootle Sevilla hotels

“I doubt whether the world holds for anyone a more soul-stirring surprise than the first adventure with ice cream’  Heywood Broun

Perché No!, Florence
There was always going to be an Italian in our top gelato list and this one easily makes the cut (even Nigella Lawson is said to be a fan). Once an old shop that sold polenta and chestnut cake it now serves up exotic and intense flavours without losing any of the old ways; try their CREMA’, cooked the traditional way with lemon rinds and vanilla or ‘FIORDILATTE CON MIELE E SESAMO’ with chestnut honey and sesame seeds. Each day brings specials, we love Thursday as it is cheesecake day (Via dei Tavolini, 19-red 50122 Florence). Palazzo Vecchietti is a 3 minute hop and skip away.
mypootle Florence hotels

Helados A.M. Scannapieco, Buenos Aires.
A.M. Scannapieco has been in family hands since the 1930s and today more than 50 flavors of Italian gelato are served up using the best ingredients and the same recipes, machines and techniques. Try one of his chocolate varieties – if you can choose – he has nearly 15…. (Av. Nazca 5274, Buenos Aires).
mypootle Buenos Aires hotels

Grom, Paris.
Amidst much debate, we’ve allowed this Torino gelato to have our Paris spot (narrowly beating the all French Berthillon). Using cacao and coffee from Venezuela, peaches, apricots, pears, figs, strawberries and melons grown on their own farm and mountain water from the Alps of Piedmont for its sorbets, Grom is committed to excellence – down to its eco-sustainability policy…all plastic (spoons, retail and garbage bags) are made from an extraordinary material derived from corn starch and vegetable oils that is completely biodegradable. In Summer get your tongue around their refreshing ‘ALBICOCCA’ which uses only Tonda di Costigliole apricots to max out the flavor or the magnificently mushy and creamy ‘FICO’, using hand peeled Dottato figs from their farm (81 Rue de Seine, 75006 Paris). Hotel le Senat is an 8-minute stroll along boutique filled rue de l’Odeon.
mypootle Paris hotels

Gelato Messina, Sydney.
In their own words, the full bodied texture and flavour filled gelati that come out of this Darlinghurst store is down to the fact that absolutely everything is made lovingly in-house by a team of mad professors using only real ingredients – from baking brownies and stewing rhubarb to meticulously roasting and grinding pistachios. Don’t miss ‘APPLE PIE’ using real apple gelato with homemade apple pie throughout and ‘HAZELNUT’ made with fresh roasted hazelnuts from Cortemilia in Italy. Every 4 weeks they run Gelato Appreciation Classes’, part gelato making class, part science lesson and part gelato feast – just the thing if you are an ice-cream fanatic like us! (389 Crown St, Surry Hills NSW 2010, Australia). The fabulous The Old Clare Hotel is the closest place to snooze.
mypootle NSW hotels

We’ve a great Boutique B&B collection plus luxury and boutique hotels from Barcelona to rural hideouts in Pugliasafaris in Africa to lodges in Australia. Oh and of course, if you are travelling with kids we’ve a family friendly collection, and if you’re without them then check out our fabulous child-free hotels as well as some for you to get completely off the beaten track, for gourmet foodies or to have an amazing room with a view.

And if you’ve stayed in one of our fabulous hotels then send a #Digital Postcard.  Log in (or join us), create a postcard using our stack of professional images and then get your friends drooling over your holiday by sharing on Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter.  Read what other travellers are sending here: #DigitalPostcard.  Be a social traveller!

Mypootle: See you on line soon!

Breakfast blog

How and where you should be eating breakfast in 6 top European cities

We’ve got some awesome boutique Bed&Breakfasts in our collection, but sometimes there is no better way to get a feel for a place than to start it with the locals, so we’ve spent some valuable time sniffing out the latest buttery croissant in Paris, searching for the best espresso in Rome and hunting down the most tomato-ey tostados in Seville so that you can start your day the best way in six of our favourite European cities.

Seville
For Sevillanos, breakfast is a two-part affair, an early snack (possibly light and airy churros dunked in chocolate) at 7am and a more filling bar breakfast at 10am. The latter tends to be a sacred ritual based around toast. But this is no ordinary toast. This is bread that has been carefully, lightly toasted then doused in big glugs of olive oil infused with garlic, piled high with summer fresh, rich, red, juicy tomatoes and finished with a liberal sprinkling of salt. Eating them is one of the singular joys of Seville.

RH Seville cafe alameda

Tostados should be made with plenty of olive oil!

Best for breakfast: Little La Cacherreria (Calle Regina 14) in the Soho Bendita area packs in a wide variety including museli, smoothies and of course the requisite freshly pressed orange juice and tostadas. Bar Europa (Siete Revueltas 35) has a pretty tiled interior within which you can take your time over orange juice, tostadas and coffee and get your churros fix at Bar El Comericio, said to be the best in the old center.
Stay: Corral del Rey, a 10-minute walk or under from all our recommendations.
Staysee our full list of Andalusian boutique hotels

Berlin
Germans take their first meal of the day very seriously. You’ll find cafes serving up enormous platters of cheeses, hams and often piled high with smoked salmon and eggs, homemade salads, fresh fruit and all the sweet stuff.  But the hero is the bread and there are a mind-boggling variety of freshly baked loaves, rolls and pastries to choose from. Do you want sourdough, wheat or rye, steamed or baked, crusty or soft, with or without grains, white, grey, black or brown? Chose your bread and then layer up with cheese and meats.
Best for breakfast: To give the German breads a good tasting head to Alpenstueck Baeckerei (Schröderstrasse 1, 10115), one of Berlin’s best bakeries who serve up their bread with mountain cheese, brie, cottage cheese, Emmental butter and jam.

Choose your bread at Alpenstueck Bakery

Choose your bread at Alpenstueck Bakery

Anna Blume (Kollwitzstrasse 83), an Art Nouveau inspired café cross flower shop serves up a legendary breakfast. On the ‘Alpenrose’ platter you’ll find creamy goat cheese, Tyrolean ham and pork loin, on ‘Oleander’ there’s salami with provolone and oyster mushrooms whilst brunch is a three-tiered extravaganza that will give you a taste of everything from feta and avocado creme, to antipasto and scrambled eggs.
StayAckselhaus & Blue Home, a 10-minute walk from Anna Blume
Stay: see our full list of Berlin boutique hotels

Paris
Ah, breakfast in Paris…..  Pastries and pancakes, thickly buttered and crispy tartines (a thin baguette sliced deftly down the middle) with freshly squeezed orange juice, the ever so more-ish pain perdu, “lost bread”, where egg-soaked bread is pan-fried in butter often with the help of a liberal dose of brandy.
Best for breakfast: Above all, foodies the world over agree that the greatest gift the French have given breakfast, are oeufs en cocotte and our top tip is to get them at Eggs & Co (11 Rue Bernard Palissy, 75006). You’ll get your eggs baked in ramekins with cream and then choose your extras from asparagus and salmon to courgettes and coriander. They also offer up a full range of eggs, all done brilliantly and however you want them, scrambled, fried, boiled, Florentine or Benedict, omelettes and a huge assortment of sides and combos. Reservations recommended.

Eggs & Coe

Scrumptious eggs, almost anyway you like them at Eggs & Co

StayHotel Montalembert is a 10-minute walk away. Le Petit Paris  a little bit further but your path will take you though Jardin du Luxembourg, our favourite park in the city.
Stay: take a look at our full Paris collection of boutique hotels

Barcelona
Here there are 3 different types of breakfast.  The simplest brings coffee and a pastry, a more substantial salty version comes with eggs and ham or bacon and thirdly there is the traditional esmorçars de cullera (breakfast with a fork) and probably the closest the Catalans get to brunch (think butifarra, a local sausage or a potato omelet). A quick word while we are here on coffee, it’s café con leche with a croissant, strictly a café solo at all other times and beware the ferocious caffeine hit of a café double.

Best for breakfast: no doubt about it, head to the bustling Boqueria market and El Quim. The market is a riot of fresh produce, colour and smells and this tiny stand with just 16 stools and busy grill surrounded by the heady cornucopia of the market is the place to go to. Try eggs with crispy serrano ham and cubed potatoes or eggs with prawns in cava, a just-made tortilla or a lomo bocadillo (pork loin sandwich) with asparagus and onion confit – we’ve heard they are phenomenal! Go early and take a stool at the counter.
StayHotel Denit,Mercer Barcelona are both just a 10-minute walk away
Stayour full list of Barcelona boutique hotels

Colourful produce at La Boqueria market

Colourful produce at La Boqueria market

Vienna
Breakfast in a coffee house is the classical way to begin your day in Vienna. It is part of the culture but don’t come if you are in a rush to get out and start your day. Come expecting leisurely service, settle in and order your soft-boiled egg, rolls and coffee. One thing is for sure, the coffee will be worth the wait and there are usually dozens of different kinds to choose from.
Best for breakfast: Meinl’s Café (19 Graben) within the city’s extravagant food hall and will there are over 35 different coffees including the Viennese classics of mélange (cappuccino), kaffee verkehrt (latte macchiato) and Einspänner (One-Horse Carriage), a double espresso stretched with a touch of water and finished with a dollop of whipped cream. There is also an incredible range of teas ranging from the well known to the lesser, such as China Green Samba Acai, White Tea Fujian Peach, Earl Grey Blue Blossom. Afterwards pop into the shop downstairs, there are rare cheeses, hams, spices, jams, honey and more to tempt you.

Coffee Kapuziner

StayHollman Beletage is a 10-minute walk from MinI’s. Hotel Lamee and Hotel Topazz are even closer, probably around 7 minutes each!
Stay: take a look at our full Vienna handpicked collection of boutique hotels

Rome
What constitutes breakfast in Rome, is a culture chasm for many. It’s coffee and Romans like it unsweetened, strong and very hot, drunk standing at a neighbourhood bar or café. Beware, there is no take-away here, it’s more of a “stand, drink and go” moment. But don’t be put off, there are normally some delicious pastries to partner up with that strong caffeine hit, cornettos (croissants) which come plain or filled with chocolate or nutella (cioccolato) or kick start your tastebuds with a ciambella (doughnut).
Best for coffee: around Piazza del Popolo are arguably two of Rome’s greatest cafes. Bar Rosati (4/5a Piazza del Popolo) who’s espresso is said to be “bliss in a cup” and Canova (16/17 Piazza del Popolo), a touch more glamorous with a restaurant and outdoor tables facing onto the piazza.

Bar Rosati, Rome

Bar Rosati, Rome

At Giolitti (40 Via Uffici del Vicario), politics, ice-cream and coffee collide. Known for its espresso served in a glass so that you can be sure that the temperature and creaminess are just right – and its ice cream. In our view this is surely the best of two worlds. Don’t leave without trying their signature “Coppa Giolitti” made with chocolate ice cream, custard and chilled zabaione, topped with cream and hazelnut shavings. It is a recipe that dates back to the 1920s.
StayCasa Montani and Crossing Condotti both well under a 10-minute walk to the Piazza del Popolo. Casa Howard Capo Le Case is about the same to Giolitti.
Stay: our full Rome collection

We’ve a great Boutique B&B collection plus luxury and boutique hotels from Barcelona to rural hideouts in Pugliasafaris in Africa to lodges in Australia. Oh and of course, if you are travelling with kids we’ve a family friendly collection, and if you’re without them then check out our fabulous child-free hotels as well as some for you to get completely off the beaten track, for gourmet foodies or to have an amazing room with a view.

And if you’ve stayed in one of our fabulous hotels then send a #Digital Postcard.  Log in (or join us), create a postcard using our stack of professional images and then get your friends drooling over your holiday by sharing on Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter.  Read what other travellers are sending here: #DigitalPostcard.  Be a social traveller!

Mypootle: See you on line soon!

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Hot Hotels in Florence you should know about

The former beating heart of Renaissance Italy will not fail to impress with its art, architecture and flamboyance. Gaze in awe at Brunelleschi’s dome and the Basilica di Santa Croce, walk the banks of the Arno and the Ponte Vecchio, explore the delights of the Uffizi and Academia and don’t forget that this is also designer shopping heaven and home to the likes of Gucci and Ferragamo.

This is a proud, exciting city where life is to be enjoyed; relax in the late afternoon with an aperitivo, dine on the finest rustic Tuscan food, taste your way around some superb chiantis and relish life the Florentine way. Oh, and sleep somewhere amazing. Here are our hottest Florentine boutique hotels.

J.K. Place Firenze
A 2014 and 2015 Condé Nast Gold Hotel.
Incredibly intimate and uber sophisticated townhouse on lively Piazza Santa Maria Novella

JK Place

You cannot get any closer to the Florentine action than staying on lively Piazza Santa Maria Novella, and that’s exactly where this fashionable and elegant townhouse is. With a timeless approach and delicate touch JK Place feels intimate and sophisticated, in greys, whites and creams offset against shiny chrome and black lacquered tables. There’s even a bespoke JK Place scent that runs throughout, developed by perfumery maestro Dr. Vranjes.
mypootle/JK Place Firenze

Il Salviatino
Historic palazzo in Fiesole promising a truly luxurious stay with heated pool, lush gardens, two restaurants and spa

Il salviatino

You’ll be feeling like a well-heeled Florentine with a house in the hills when you stay at this magnificently restored 15th-century palazzo with rooms which are beautifully styled with contemporary flair. With such an imposing façade, lush manicured gardens with terracotta pots bursting with herbs, outdoor lounges and a new double level heated pool you may even start to wonder why anyone would want to stay in the hustle and bustle of the city (oh, and not forgetting the indulgent spa, fitness center, two restaurants and your own personal concierge so whether you’re looking for a restaurant, concert, bar or museum, you really are in the best of hands).
mypootle/Il Salviatino

Gallery Art
Design hotel where art, exceptional fusion food and luxurious, sophisticated rooms mingle effortlessly

Gallery Art Hotel

In a city dominated by renaissance art and deep, rich history this chic urban bolt-hole brings modern Florentine photography, contemporary art exhibitions and stylish interiors – even the façade is often used as a canvas for big, bold installations. This is a true design hotel with good looks that feel utterly effortless, from its simple, uncluttered style to its Japanese-Italian fusion restaurant.
mypootle/Hotel Gallery Art

We’ve also handpicked Riva Lofts where owner-architect Claudio Nardi has created a laid-back stylish retreat with nine suites and a swimming pool on the river Arno’s “rive gauche”.

Riva Lofts

And Continentale, a super romantic Ferragamo hotel in the heart of the city with extraordinarily good looks and a magnificent rooftop bar.

Continentalemypootle/Continentale

Honestly, we love Florence. Here’s our list of 28 things to do and not to miss in the city.

Happy pootling and don’t miss an evening gelato from Gelateria della Passera in Piazza della Passera, they are lip-smackingly good!

Mypootle on line.

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A perfect weekend in Ile de Ré

We are just back from the sunny, windy and ridiculously pretty Île de Ré.  This is a gorgeous spot on France’s Atlantic coast with long sandy beaches, sparkling seas, picturesque villages and blue shuttered houses framed with colourful, feathery holyhocks.

Here’s what we got up to on the weekend…..

Saint-Martin-de-Ré. The island’s capital is a picturesque fortified harbor, lined with boutiques that wouldn’t look out of place in St Tropez, bars and bistros. But it is fishing boats that bob in the marina not million dollar super yachts and the boutiques and bars have a laid-back charm that we couldn’t help but love. Stroll out to the fortifications and ramparts then head back, amble along the quay and stop off for coffee or dinner at Le Bistro du Marin. If you are an ice-cream fan, don’t miss La Martinière, there are 66 imaginative flavours to choose from, standouts for us were vanilla pecan and mango and ginger. If it’s funky-restored-antique furniture you’re after, call into Antiquités Barbotine (21 quai Clémenceau).

Ile de Re antiques

Hire a bike. The island is crisscrossed with kilometers of bicycle tracks and with a gentle terrain (the highest point is only 20m) this really is the best way to get around and explore. And there is something special cycling along with the wind in your hair, sparkling blue ocean on one side, rolling fields on the other.

La Flotte. Actually the island’s largest town, La Flotte can be easily reached by bike from Saint Martin. It’s another pretty harbor lined with bistros, bars and boutiques and antique shops. There’s also a great food market if you fancy stocking up for a beach picnic.

Ars-en-Ré. A fantastically picturesque spot with a harbor and meandering streets lined with hollyhocks with a gallery here, a furniture shop there.

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Beaches. There are vast stretches of golden sand to play, picnic and, if you are brave, swim in. Le Bois Plage is closest to Saint-Martin and has some great facilities but we loved the more remote feeling of Plage des Gollandières in the same area and Conche des Baleines is on the gorgeously deserted north-west coast.

Eat oysters. As you cycle along you find that you pass an oyster shack every few kilometers or so. The island is often thought of as one of the best spots in the country for these delicacies and most of these cabanes and wooden huts that you pass are small family run operations so do as the locals do, pull up, take a seat at the picnic table and enjoy possibly the freshest oysters your ever taste.

Stay somewhere fab. We’ve stayed a couple of times on this exquisite little pocket of an island. Our most recent was at La Baronnie Hotel and Spa, a family friendly mansion with stylish-chic bedrooms and gorgeous gardens which we loved.

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Other handpicked gems include plush Hotel de Toiras on Saint-Martin’s cobblestone harbour and their ever so chic sister hotel, Villa Clarisse, also in Saint-Martin.

If we’ve whetted your appetite to see more, here’s our Île en Ré overview, full of why you should go and what to see and do when you’re there.

See you online at mypootle soon!

Marrakech 27 hidden delights

27 things you probably didn’t know to do in Marrakech

We are taking you off the beaten track in Marrakech this time. Noisy, colourful and exotic, come with us as we plunge into the Old Medina and navigate labyrinthine alleyways, sit back on a terrace with mint tea and gaze at the snow topped Atlas mountains, go home triumphant with a carpet. Marrakech is a city of drama, full of life and passion, magic and mystery. Let’s go! Continue reading

3 days in Menorca

3 Glorious Days in Menorca

We are feeling really rather pleased with ourselves for our recent trip to Minorca, Menorca. This oft-overlooked island has lost out in the past to its neighbours, glitzy Ibiza and glam Mallorca but those in search of spectacular beaches take note – Menorca has not only more than both the other two islands combined –  but also a ridiculously lovely discreet-chic, laid-back and sleepy vibe. Plus with only 30 miles between the furthest two points, a fairly gentle landscape and no big motorways the island packs in turquoise coves, pristine beaches, coastal paths and cycle routes a-plenty.

We packed a lot into our 3 days, and here are our top tips to a blissful Menorcan trip…..

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blog Florence

28 Essential Things to do in Florence

This Renaissance rich city never fails to impress us with its art, architecture and sheer flamboyance.

Here are our 28 must not miss essential tips!

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