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London + Scotland Trip Report This is my first trip report. Trying to do my best based on ones that I have read.

Wednesday – BA to LHR departed JFK at 8:15 AM in Business.  We sat on the last row of the top of the plane so that we could use the bassinet/infant seat.  Oh yes, we travelled with a 6 month old.  Flight was amazing, flight attendants were very sweet and accommodating.  The food was decent but looked like garbage compared to the food they were serving the other passengers.  As I mentioned on a previous thread, John Krasinski (The Office) and Emily Blunt were also on my flight sitting next to us with their daughter, they are a completely normal family and very nice.  We arrived in London around 8 PM and got those fast-track passes for customs (the best thing ever) and took a cab to our hotel.  We would normally have taken the tube but with a baby, stroller, car seat, and a bunch of luggage (9-10 day trip with no laundry and our daughter spits up all the time) it just made sense to take a cab. 

We stayed at the Sheraton Park Lane with SPG points.  I know it’s not the hotel that everyone on here was staying at but there were no renovations or construction going on when we were there and they treated us amazing and always put us in the newly renovated rooms (which were renovated about 2-3 weeks before we arrived).

So we arrived and checked in and our room was tiny! (apparently all central London standard rooms are relatively small) and I called the front desk and said that I have too much stuff and a crib and it won’t all fit in the room so they upgraded us to a suite (for free).  We stayed there until we checked out Friday Morning to go to our friends in Edgeware for Shabbos.   We left our stuff with the concierge and checked back in on Sunday and added our weekend bags to what we had in storage.  Didn’t officially check back in until later in the day and they upgraded us to a massive suite with amazing views of Green Park, Hyde Park and the London Eye.  They gave us free coffee and milk and all the rooms we stayed in had nespresso machines. Overall had a fantastic experience and would stay there again.  We checked out in the afternoon on Monday and headed over to the airport to go to Scotland.

Thursday – tube to London Eye, we really had a great time and really enjoyed this. We got the fast pass tickets and they were well worth it as the lines were crazy on Christmas Eve.  We got there late and “missed” our time slot but they didn’t care and let us on either way. We walked around that area a bit and explored that area of London.  We then headed back to the area of our hotel and walked down Park Lane to Selfridges to get food at the kosher counter there.  It was such a madhouse and the food was 50% off because they were closing for Christmas.  Walked around Selfirgde’s a bit to see the store. Everything in London is really nice around Christmas time, the decorations are phenomenal, much cooler than NYC.  We walked some more around London and then I went to a convenience store to buy a Lebara SIM card.  I had ordered a giff gaff to the hotel but it never came so I had to improvise.  I got a plan with some data and 100 international minutes to call the US in case I needed to.  I believe the whole package with the SIM card cost me 20 pounds.  For the meantime, I used KNOWROAMING which was good bc I had ordered a card sticker from them and it was $15 and there was a promo for a $15 credit to the account.  So I used that Wednesday night and Thursday until I got my Lebara SIM card.  Hotel I used Wifi.  We then took the tube to Baker Street to check out the famous Reuben’s.  The food was decent, neither of us were in the mood for salt beef so we ordered the lamb chops and the beef wellington and the artichoke/avocado appetizer.  We really liked the artichoke/avocado appetizer and the lamb chops were okay and the beef wellington was too heavy.   We also got 2 desserts, chocolate mousse which wasn’t good and then a hot soufflé cake which was amazing.  Tube back to the Green Park Station and walked (about 15-20 min) to Hyde Park to walk around London’s Winter Wonderland (Christmas Festival).  This was really cool, had awesome lights and decorations and ice skating, bumper cars, carousels, arcade games and food and drinks (obviously nothing kosher).  Walked back to Hotel and called it a night

Friday – Tube was shut down on Christmas. Our friends from Edgeware picked us up at our Hotel and went for a walk along the river Thames, had a really nice time and really enjoyed all of the sights over there.  Headed over to Edgewood and had a very nice Shabbos there with our friends.

Saturday Night – We used our friend’s babysitter and they got a different one for their child and we went out to Golders Green.  The babysitter was a high school boy who was very mature and responsible and was studying for the UK version of the P-SAT’s.  Our daughter was sleeping by the time we left and she slept the whole time we were gone.  He was really nice and he only charged us 5 pounds an hour which I thought was very reasonable.  We were out for 3 hours and I just gave him a 20 pound note and told him not to give me change.  We went to Pizzaza and loved it!  We each got milkshakes (Oreo and Kit-Kat) and they were amazing, we got a personal pie and regular fries and their famous pesto fries which were all very good.  The pesto fries are basically fries sautéed in pesto for a few minutes after they’re fried.  Service was phenomenal and they give you their 4 sauces for everything which is sweet chili, pesto, pizza sauce and garlic mayo.  Then we went to Kosher Kingdom (their BIG kosher supermarket) and bought some food for the rest of our trip.  We also went to the bakery across the street to buy freshly baked bread for sandwiches and chocolate rugelach which were amazing.  The baked goods in London were amazing.  The bakery was called Grodzinski’s. 

Sunday –  we went to Orli’s for breakfast in Edgeware and uber’d back to the Park Lane Hotel and then took the tube to the Victoria Coach Station where we boarded a bus to the WB Harry Potter Studio Tour.  We’re both HUGE Harry Potter fans so this was fun for us.  It’s a really really cool place and we had a phenomenal time.  We got off on baker street on the bus back to London and went to Reuben’s again and got Salt Beef sandwiches which were nothing short of amazing also tried their schnitzel which was great too. They serve it with a lemon similar to how people eat fish n chips and its actually really good on schnitzel too. 

Monday – we walked to Buckingham Palace and around that whole area to Marble Arch and then to Knightsbridge to go to Harrods’s famous Boxing Day Sale.  We walked around that area a bit and headed back to the hotel to pick up our stuff.  Instead of going to the airport, we stopped off at the Sheraton Skyline Hotel at Heathrow to drop off our bags that we no longer needed (dirty clothes, Shabbos outfits, etc…) because this is where we going to stay the night before our early AM flight back to JFK from LHR.  Headed to the airport and flew BA (4.5K Avios) to Glasgow, flight was good. A little difficult bc short and many changes to altitude but we got our own row and it was a 3X3 plane and was virtually empty so was comfortable.  We uber’d to our hotel.  We wanted to stay somewhere close to a bunch of things in Glasgow that we could rely on as good, decent hotel.  Marriott’s were Category 6 but $80 in cash so I paid the cash rate and stayed at the Glasgow Marriott. The water was broken and wouldn’t shut off in the room so they upgraded us to a suite.  The cribs in Marriott’s we found to better than in SPG hotels.  In Marriott they gave us Pack N Plays and SPG gave us those metal cribs and our daughter wasn’t too fond of them.

Tuesday – I went in the morning to the only kosher Restaurant/Store in all of Scotland called the Café at Mark’s Deli. They were very nice.  I used Uber there and back. I got some Deli and food for the rest of our trip. Their Salt beef isn’t as good as Reuben’s and I only tried the cold version but it was pretty solid. We took some sandwiches to go and some meat alone for deli sandwiches at night.  Came back to the Hotel and checked out but left my stuff there and they refrigerated the cold bag I had with me in addition to the regular bag storage which was nice.  We then took Uber to the Glengoyne Distillery to do a Distillery tour.  We chose the Malt Master Tour and they told us we were the first ones to do that tour with a baby, even a child.  We got a look around the distillery and got to see the process of how things are done and it was really cool. The site is also very pretty, there is a waterfall in the back and they start you off with a dram (they gave us what we would call a bit more than a shot) of the 12 year old.  After the tour we went to the Malt room where we were each presented with 5 scotch whiskeys that were 18 years old all barreled differently with drams of each one to try.  They gave us an empty 220ml bottle and some measuring cups and beakers and we made our own whiskey.  This was awesome and a super cool activity.  I would definitely recommend this tour. Very intimate and fun.  We had a great tour guide but I forgot her name she was probably in her fifties.  There were only 8 others on the tour with us.  We took a cab back to the hotel to get our stuff then took an Uber to Edinburgh where we spent that night and 2 more days.  We had too much stuff to take the train and uber wasn’t too bad. I think it was 50 pounds.  We stayed Tuesday and Wednesday night at the AMAZING Glasshouse Hotel in Edinburgh.  This was one of the nicest hotels I’ve ever stayed at. They upgraded us for FREE to the Auchentashen Suite which is their biggest and nicest room in the hotel by far (I checked out other rooms when I was there).  They name their suites after Scotch Whiskeys.  The room had a waterfall shower and a Jacuzzi and Panoramic views of Edinburgh that included Calton Hill and the Edinburgh Castle.  The room comes with a fully stocked minibar that’s FREE for guests staying in the Auchentashen Suite, a Nespresso machine, and snacks.  The room had 2 tv’s, one in the living area and one in the bedroom.  Behind the bed they had a divider and that’s where we put our daughter in the pack n play from the hotel.  They actually brought us a pack n play and it was broken so we asked if they could send another one, they said they were fully booked and didn’t have another one.  Then they came back 30 minutes later with a brand new one from the other Marriott in Edinburgh that is around 25 minutes away. Very good service.  When you stay in the suites that are named after Scotch Whiskeys you can go to the bar and try your room’s whiskey for free (2 double shots, one for each guest).  They didn’t have Auchentashen so felt bad and offered me 2 shots of Glenfarclas 40 (which they sell for 39.95 pounds a shot).  The service at this hotel was amazing. So nice and so quick and just had a wonderful experience here and would highly recommend this hotel to anyone and would definitely stay there again.  It’s also so close to everything in Edinburgh.  We didn’t take cabs anywhere inside Edinburgh, we just walked everywhere.

Wednesday – We went for a walk on Princess Street to see the Balmoral Hotel and Waldorf Hotel and then headed to the Edinburgh Castle to begin our Royal Mile walk.  Edinburgh Castle is really pretty and offers fantastic views of the entire city.  We then walked along the royal mile and stopped at all the shops we found interesting.  If you’re a whiskey fan, stop by Cadenhead’s which is a private bottling company that goes into Distilleries and bottles parts of barrels and blends with other whiskeys or keeps them single barrel.  They will let you try anything you want as long as they have an open bottle and they are very knowledgeable.  Then we finished the Royal Mile walk at the Palace at Holyrood House.  We got a late start to the day so we got their afterhours so we didn’t go for a tour inside but we got some really awesome sunset/dusk/nighttime pictures of the Palace.   We walked through the Scotland Winter Wonderland World Festival on the way back to the hotel for about 45 minutes.  We visited all the world shops that were selling little trinkets.  They had Ferris Wheels, bumper cars, carousels, arcade games and an ice rink. This was similar to the London Winter Wonderland but added the shops which London didn’t have.  We went back to the hotel to eat our dinner and to watch the Hogmanay Fireworks (New Years Festival).  Since our Hotel offers incredible views of Calton Hill which was where the torch ceremony ended and the fireworks began we just had to step outside onto the Gardens and we got amazing views of the fireworks.  They were amazing.

Thursday – We checked out of the hotel in the morning and left our bags with the concierge.  We went back to the Palace at Holyrood House for a tour of the palace.  This is where the Queen stays for about a week in July.  Very cool palace, functioning and lots of history. The tour is done well.  It’s self-guided with a headset.  The palace is located on a 10 acre property (I think that’s what they said) and so it offers spectacular greenery and views of the hills outside Edinburgh and Arthur’s Seat.  Then we walked back to the Hotel to eat our lunch (Tuna on rice cakes).  And then walked over to St. Andrew’s Square to the other Winter Festival they have.  This one is smaller, has only local Scottish vendors and a small ice skating rink in the middle.  My wife bought some Scottish lotions and lip and hand balms.  She says they are amazing and smell great. We bought some candles. They had a bunch of Gin, Beer, and Scotch Vendors.  I met this man who started the St. Andrew’s Distillery which is located in St. Andrews (the location of the big University there) and they make beer, gin and scotch.  He was selling a bottle of his 10 year old which wasn’t his it was Bruichladdich’s.  Apparently the story is that Jim McEwan loves this guy’s beer so they traded a barrel for some beer and that is the first thing they bottled at this distillery.  They recently started making scotch but it’s not aged for three years yet so its technically not scotch. I bought some.  I hope to hear more about this distillery soon, he mentioned he’s doing a trade show in NYC sometime in 2016. We walked around Harvey Nichols and then headed back to the hotel to get our stuff and head to the airport to go back to London.  Airport was empty, crazy sight. Our plane was half full and the flight was very quick and we were back in London in 55 minutes.  We took the hotel shuttle hopper to get to the Sheraton Skyline Hotel.  I did not like this hotel.  I should have stayed in the other Sheraton that’s closer to the airport.  They told me the hotel was fully booked but when I got into the room it had a foul odor (that eventually went away) but when I complained that I couldn’t stay there they told me it was fully booked and then showed me 3 empty rooms, go figure.   It was fine was only there for a couple of hours, checked out in the morning and left on the shuttle hopper to the airport and flew back to JFK via LHR early on Friday morning.  The business lounge in British airways was much nicer than the one in JFK.  The flight was great, food was ok.

I don't know how to add more pictures so I just attached four. the first is the palace at holyrood house, the second is fresh salt beef from Reubens, thirdis the Suite door of the Glasshouse in Edinburgh and the fourth is in the Glengoyne Distillery.

January 11, 2016, 11:21:32 AM
Re: What's The Best Coffee you've ever had- The Brand, Style of Preparation & Where? cold brew method, I take a 1-1.5 bag of coffee (whole beans only) and then grind it coarsely (similar to what one would use for a French press) and split it into 2 nut milk bags with room and close them up and put both of those in a bigger nut milk bag and close that one too. then I put it in a big Rubbermaid container and pour in about 3 liters of water and leave it on the counter for 12 hours and in the fridge for about 6. I remove the bag and squeeze out the excess liquid and pour the liquid into multiple mason jars and place them in the fridge. I use medium roasted beans. ive tried peets but the best coffee I've found for cold brew is the kicking horse three sisters blend. the jars last about a month for freshness.
September 13, 2016, 04:58:12 PM