Sep 6, 2016

Photos 1-2 - Hotel Realm. Photos 3 onwards by Natalie Hayllar

A weekend of Buvette Bliss at Hotel Realm Canberra
When you think of Canberra you think of Australian icons like the National Gallery of Australia, Old Parliament House, and bike rides around Lake Burley Griffin right? But more recently for me it is the fantastic food and dining scene unfolding before my eyes that makes a trip to Canberra so much more exciting. On every visit we discover an entirely new cultural precinct to explore. For this year’s annual visit to Canberra it was time to visit Hotel Realm - a five star property in Canberra’s city centre and a short walk from trendy suburbs of Manaka and Kingston. The multi award winning Realm precinct boats a number of fabulous fine dining restaurants including French chic Buvette Bistro & Wine Bar, a casual lounge bar, wholefoods café, health club, hair salon, day spa, and indoor heated pool.

After ‘freakshaking’ with our friends in Manaka, our early check-in to the Realm Suite allows us to drop our luggage before heading to Corin Forest Snow Play area. (It is an easy 45 minute drive from Canberra central). To our surprise as we drive up the mountain and the temperature drops from 8 degrees to a chilly 1 degrees, we see a rainy Canberra day transform into a magical Winter wonderland before our very eyes. A light dusting of snow turns the snow gums into a beautiful winter’s playground for the kids, and after hours of tobogganing and snow play we can’t wipe the grins from our faces.

After drying off by the toasty fire, we make our way back to Hotel Realm via the scenic Brindabellas, and get into Buvette Bliss mode. Spoilt on arrival with fresh flowers and petite sweets we spend the next few hours enjoying our luxury Realm suite with a few Champagnes. While the family enjoys some movie time, I head downstairs to meet a dear friend for a little Parisian wanderlust at Buvette Bistro &Wine Bar. I am thinking to myself, it is going to be hard to top the sight of fresh falling snow. And then the twice-baked cheese soufflé is served! Surrounded by chic French décor we were whisked right back to Paris for a night of French cuisine (you can read all about our BuvetteBistro & Wine Bar dining experience here on the blog too)

A Sunday morning sleep-in with a coffee and some mags perfected the weekend before we drive back to Sydney. Oh and did I mention the mob of Kangaroos jumping proudly across a dry Lake George on the way home. Australia was completely showing off. Perhaps she knew that we had been overseas for a few months. It reminded us of the amazing country we live in, and that a weekend with friends and food in Canberra is always good for the soul.

Hotel Realm offers a Buvette Bliss package including overnight accommodation, mini Moet & Chandon on arrival, two-course meal at Buvette Bistro and Wine Bar, with free parking, free wifi and late checkout.

* I was a guest of Hotel Realm and Buvette Bistro.

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EAT | Buvette Bistro & Wine Bar, Canberra

Photos via Hotel Realm

Fancy a little taste of France in the heart of Canberra at Buvette Bistro and Wine Bar. 

The Canberra dining scene continues to amaze me, with fabulous new boutique hotels and restaurants popping up on a regular basis. And if you love all things French like me, then Buvette Bistro & Wine Bar in Hotel Realm is the perfect place for a good dose of Parisian wanderlust. Having just returned home from an extended holiday in France and suffering from ‘reverse-homesickness’, I soaked up that wonderful French feeling back on home soil. 

Located within the Five Star Hotel Realm, Buvette Bistro & Wine Bar is a beautiful space to enjoy all day French style dining, whether you want to enjoy a leisurely coffee in the sun, a long family lunch, or an intimate Parisian style dinner. With a philosophy of good food, great wine and excellent service, Buvette Bistro & Wine Bar offers a constantly evolving menu fuelled by a love of French culture, cuisine and traditions. I highly recommend the famous Buvette ‘Petit Feast’ – a decadent spread of miniature French style savouries and sweets, fast becoming one of the most popular things to do in Canberra.

Executive chef Fabien Wagnon, was born and raised in the North of France, and believes in keeping the food pure and simple. As such, Buvette Bistro & Wine Bar offers no fuss French cuisine with bold flavours, locally sourced produce and an amazing wine list too. With classic French standout dishes like twice baked Gruyere Cheese Souffle, Beef Bourguignon, Bouillabaisse, and Brulee Trois, fellow 'Francophiles' like me are sure to fall in love with this place. The décor is sophisticated and elegant, with a wonderful relaxed Parisian feel too.

I was lucky enough to share my first Buvette Bliss experience last weekend with a dear friend, who also happens to share my love of all things French. The conversation flows as fast as the Champagne as we catch up on a year’s worth of gossip over mouthwatering cheese souffle and crispy apple crumble. Thanks to Buvette for taking me back to 'Paris'. I can't wait to return. 

Buvette Bistro & Wine Bar is located within the fabulous Hotel Realm. So why not plan to stay for a blissful weekend and explore all that Canberra has to offer. Hotel Realm is ideally located close to Canberra’s city centre and a bevy of the nation’s most revered cultural icons such as the National Gallery of Australia, the National Portrait Gallery, Old Parliament House, and the stately Lake Burley Griffin. It is a short walk to the many cosmopolitan shopping, eating and entertainment options of Manuka and Kingston and close to all the drama of Parliament House. The Buvette Bliss package is just perfect for a romantic getaway – including overnight accommodation, mini Moet & Chandon on arrival, two-course meal at Buvette Bistro and Wine Bar, parking, free wifi and late checkout.You can read about our fun weekend at Hotel Realm here. 

* I was a guest of Hotel Realm and Buvette Bistro. Photos by Hotel Realm.

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STAY | Polignano a Mare, Puglia

Sep 5, 2016

Photos by Natalie Hayllar of Eat Read Love

Polignano a Mare, Puglia, Italy
It is hard to put into words how beautiful Polignano a Mare is. Except to say that it is INCREDIBLE. The pictures will tell you most of my story. I wanted to share with you a taste of the white washed lane ways, colourful doors, crystal clear waters and sunset views that will literally blow your mind. Polignano a Mare is an incredible little town near Bari in Puglia, down near the 'heel' of the Italian boot. A little bit off the typical Italian holiday route, Polignano a Mare is a relaxing little village full of happy Italian families on holidays, and plenty of tourists discovering the Puglia region. 

The old town square is a beautiful place to sit and watch the world go by. The feeling I have when I am Italy is hard to describe. Like time just flows, and nobody is wasting time worrying about rushing to where they need to be. They are just happy right there in the moment.   
Polignano is a place for twilight walks, ice-cream, and Aperol Spritz. Listen to the church bells ring every hour. Enjoy incredible pizza and pasta. made from local ingredients.  read the poetry that is written everywhere across doors and walls all the way down to the sea. 
In Polignano a Mare the locals are friendly, warm and helpful. The food is rustic and traditional. You can watch the Soccer while you eat your Spaghetti surrounded by loads of other families enjoying the balmy nights. 

Polignano a Mare is a place for dreamers, a place where every corner you turn is even prettier than the next. When can I go back!

EAT: any of the restaurants in the old town square are marvelous for people watching. The LIME bar was a brilliant place for Aperol Spritz at Sunset. Mint Cucina is the most beautiful little cafe I have seen. La Casa del Mojito is brilliant for late afternoon aperitif. And of course the famous restaurant in the cave! Wow. 

STAY: we loved staying at Gina Chic BnB while in Polignano a Mare - the huge family room (mini apartment) with a sundeck outside overlooking the sea and the old town. This place was perfect for our family of four. The manager is super lovely and helpful, offers a great breakfast and a view that would be hard to beat anywhere in the world. And there is a great little deli next door for all your supplies.

LOVE: the poetry written across the doors, chairs and laneways of Polignano old town. The coloured doors. The laneways. Swimming at the pebbly beach. Watching the boys jump off the rocks and swim around to the beach. (oh and watching people trying to get in and out of the water on the pebbles is a very funny way to pass the time too he he). 

PLAY: If you get the chance you must also visit nearby Ostuni and the surrounding countryside for a truly amazing Puglian Trulli experience. We absolutely loved Trulli La Pietraia - be sure to add on a few days here before or after your time in Polignano a Mare. You wont regret it. 

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