Monday 17 April 2023

3 Seville restaurant recommendations

Seville was on my bucket list for a long time. It was a beautiful city but meal times could be quite challenging. If morning sightseeing overran and you needed a later lunch, hardly anything would be open as it fell into Spanish siesta hours where shops and restaurants close their doors and don't open up again until much later. Although restaurants technically opened again at 8pm, some wouldn't start serving food until 9pm onwards. I did struggle to eat this late as having done my 10,000 steps by 11am most days, my exhausted body had given up and wanted sleep more than it did food!

I wasted so much time walking around looking for food - some nights being at a loss of what to do when restaurants are full, it's nearing 10pm, and there are no empty seats anywhere. One night I was so exhausted, I grabbed some fries to go and that did the job! So for this reason I wanted to write this guide to mark my top three favourite places to eat in Seville, which offered something a little different, were less busy, had beautiful interiors, and above all else, had delicious food.

1. Burro Canaglia Bar&Resto - Centro

One day we wandered further afield and stopped at this lovely restaurant for lunch. Being out of the way and away from the main hustle and bustle of town, it was fairly empty, but I liked that as it felt private and intimate. The interiors were magical. I'm talking exposed brick walls and beautiful tiles

Cosy corners and greenery hanging overhead

And dim lighting and huge palms bringing jungle vibes

We ate arroz negro, a rice dish coloured with squid ink. Whilst Valencian and Catalan versions are usually made with cuttlefish, this one contained prawns, garlic and chilli and was topped with aioli and octopus which had been grilled to perfection. 

It was an incredible dining experience - just like sitting in a secret garden!


2. Nación Sushi

The pleasant surprise of the trip! We'd scoped out a nice looking café for lunch which did brunch, fresh juices, salads and other lighter options, but after a long morning at the Royal Alcázar, said café now had chairs up on tables and a lady mopping the floors said they were closed. We later found out that we'd annoyingly only just missed out!

At that time in the afternoon in Seville, food options are limited and most restaurants were closed. As luck may have it, Nacionsushi was something we'd passed before and it appeared to be open all hours, so we decided to check it out.

We ordered a pot of green tea and some bao buns to share. I did feel guilty for not having something local or traditionally Spanish, but Nacionsushi blew us away.

We had hoisin chicken bao buns which were as fluffy as a cloud - like bao should be - but a special mention has to go to one of their new specials: baos fritos de costilla de cerdo or crispy pork rib bao. The golden, crispy shells were filled with finger-licking good pork and topped with crispy onions and peanuts. The textures in this dish were spot on. I'd never had fried bao before but it's the future!

A special mention also needs to go to the interiors which were really quirky and memorable. I'm talking cherry blossom trees, bird cage lights, beautiful tiles, a living wall and hot pink accents, all merged with a travel theme. It was all very Instagrammable (if you're that way inclined)

Nación Sushi also has a wealth of sushi, noodle and rice dishes - the choice is real! - and they have restaurants in other countries too - not just Spain - and are well worth a visit.


3. Universal People Bar de Tapas

This came highly recommend by my sister and her boyfriend and one of my ex work colleagues so I ventured here on the first night and it didn't disappoint! We had two different types of croquetas or croquettes which were rather filling and we quickly learnt that one plate would have been enough! The mushroom croquettes were earthy and wonderful, but we weren't so enamoured with the oxtail ones. I'd heard that oxtail was a regional speciality so I wanted to try it, but knew then and there that it wasn't for me! 

There were however two other dishes that got my stamp of approval and I highly recommend if you're ever in Seville. The slow cooked beef cheek melted in your mouth and the sauted potatoes were beautiful - especially when dipped in the very moreish accompanying sauce. 

And last but not least, their grilled octopus. There was a bit of wait time for this one but it was worth every second. A good grilled octopus should cut like butter and melt in the mouth (anything rubbery or chewy is indicative of over-cooking) and this delivered. 

We had three different types of potato - these were surprise accompaniments added to our plates and not detailed on the menu - and after consuming all three portions, we were rather full and this prevented us from trying anything else. So bear this in mind when thinking about how many small plates to order!


Have you ever been to Seville?

Friday 30 December 2022

5 reasons to visit York in December

York is a magical place to visit at any time of the year, but comes alive in December and is truly special at Christmas. I'd previously visited in the height of summer (my previous York travel guide can be found here here) so it was quite the contrast visiting in the colder season, with scarves and layers aplenty. York really is very beautiful at this time of the year, what with it's Christmas markets and decorated restaurant and shop fronts including The Ivy and Betty's tea rooms. 

Here is my extensive guide of my top 5 things to do in York at Christmas.

Christmas at Mansion House

Mansion House is a beautiful early Georgian style building and was built for the Lord Mayor in 1732 and is still in use to this day for the Lord Mayors of York to reside in during their term in office. The rooms presented to the public are set out as they would have been, and at this time of the year are decorated for Christmas.

The dining room table was laid with the extravagant foods they would have eaten at their many banquets and a helpful and passionate member of staff ran us through a typical inventory with a tally of how much food and alcohol was consumed and how much it would have cost (both were astounding). 

The working kitchen that produced these glorious feasts was simple in comparison - you couldn't imagine some of the extravagant meals hailing from there. This former working kitchen has since been restored to a fully functional eighteenth century kitchen and is now used for cooking demonstrations and workshops.

One of my favourite rooms had to be the state room. This was decorated in a beautiful light green colour not too dissimilar to Card Room Green by Farrow and Ball with elegant gold accents. 

Christmas at York Castle Museum

York Castle Museum has so much to see and do (I wrote about it at length before here), that we in fact lost track of time and spent our entire first day there! Highlights include:

  • An indoor back-in-time street with shop fronts and stores you can actually walk into
  • Room sets from across the years
  • A whole section devoted to old toys and games nostalgia
  • Walk through the trenches experience
  • The old York Castle prison (complete with Dick Turpin's cell!)

The benefit of visiting at this time of the year was that lots of it was decorated for Christmas. The room sets and their signage were updated for Christmas, and for the immersive street, lit garlands were strung up with a light dusting of fake snow on the ground. 

Christmas at Fairfax House

Fairfax House is a Georgian townhouse within a stone's throw away from Clifford's Tower and York Castle Museum, and was originally the winter bolthole of Viscount Fairfax (hence it's name) and was designed by esteemed eighteen century architect John Carr. It was reportedly used as a dance hall and cinema for some time, but was later restored by the York Civic Trust in the 1980s. It's beautiful at any time, but is especially magical at this time of the year, portraying the Christmas traditions of a typical Georgian townhouse.

Christmas at York Minster

York Minster is somewhere I visit every time I'm in York and I highly recommend if you're as into historical buildings and architecture as I am. York Minster reportedly costs an astounding £22,000 to run each day so I always make a point of visiting there and contributing whenever I'm in York. 

This was my first time visiting the Minster at Christmas and it was such a lovely place to be. This year in particular hosted a Christmas Tree Festival and contest, where local charities, businesses and schools all decorated a tree to a chosen theme. Visitors to the Minster all had the opportunity to vote for their favourites with the winner to receive a cash prize or donation. 

With about 40 trees to see and decide upon, choosing just one was tough! Highlights included:
  • A primary school whose tree represented their passion for reading, and each student contributed a homemade book complete with stories and illustrations (for the record, this one got my vote).

  • A charity which decorated their tree with all the essentials they typically give to the homeless and unemployed like toothbrushes and razors, as well as packaging from food bank donations. 
  • A jewelllers that hung open ring boxes (and rings!) wrapped in cellophane bags on their tree
  • A local ennvironment centre that recycled food packaging and made garlands, tinsel and decorations with them.
  • The Strictly Come Dancing themed Christmas tree complete with pink feather boa, glitter balls, scoring paddles and a giant cut out of Anton Du Beke.

Access to the Christmas Tree Festival is included with general admission to York Minster and runs through to January - so there's still time to visit (and vote) if you haven't already!

York Christmas market

The St Nicholas Fair is the the bustling hub of York at this time of the year, and runs from mid-November to December. So if you visit pre-Christmas around Black Friday sort of time, you'll be sure to see it even then! 

Alpine chalet huts line Parliament Street and St Sampson’s Square with a plethora of food and drink options, as well as stalls selling gifts and artisan goods such as homemade fudge. It's worth checking it out each year as there are occasionally new additions such as The Winter Hütte, a swiss style chalet offering winter favoruites like gluhwein and mulled cider, as well as a dining experience from Michelin star chef Andrew Pern, a big name in Yorkshire.

It's generally worth wandering around York at your own leisure, as you will stumble upon more christmas markets and stalls. One is located right outside York Minster with plenty of seating and although on a smaller scale than the main street market, has a really lovely feel about it (plus it's quieter if you don't fancy the crowds!).

Let's be honest, there are many more than 5 reasons to visit York at this time of the year (or any time of the year for that matter) but these were just some of my top picks from a whistle-stop tour. Happy holidays!

Friday 23 September 2022

Tomahawk Steakhouse York // The largest steak I ever did see

Tomahawk restaurant review

Whilst I'm generally a healthy eater and aim for a few meat-free days a week, I'm more of a flexitarian and won't be going fully vegetarian or vegan any time soon. I love my meat too much (take that as you will) with a good medium rare steak being a firm favourite. Forever on the hunt for a good steak or steakhouse, one day I saw Tomahawk pop up on my feed with mouth watering images of succulent steak, and joy behold, there was one located in York, a place that was next on my travels.


Tucked a little out of the way, but near to Mansion House and The Ivy, I ventured down a side passage which I found to be fairly quiet, not seeing much in the way of people. Because of this I figured Tomahawk York wouldn't be all that busy. WRONG.

First impressions

I arrived at a small bar area with a few raised tables and bar stools. All very industrial in look and feel with exposed brick walls. This holding area was deserted with no one at the bar which I figured may have been due to the tucked away nature of the restaurant. You could hear chatter and laughter elsewhere though, and that's when a host descended from a industrial metal staircase to welcome us and I first discovered that the restaurant was located on different levels. 

Tomahawk Steakhouse restaurant York review

Once we ventured upstairs, we discovered that the restaurant was deceptively large - which you didn't get a sense of from the front - and in fact stretched way back. We passed lots of booth seating filled with friends, couples on date night, and big groups of lads with large wooden sharing boards presented with slices of perfectly pink steak. 

Our table

I had booked a table in advance and we were led right to the back of the joint, to a table located right infront of their bustling but beautiful main bar. I'd say that being sat here was probably the low light of my visit. You constantly had members of staff rushing past you, going to and fro from the bar, so it didn't feel very private, especially when you're on a date. Also we seemed to be on top of a wobbly floorboard so whenever anyone walked past, our table (and food) wobbled about which did get a little annoying. There were so many nice, quiet, intimate corners of the restaurant and I would have preferred to sit somewhere a little more private. For this reason, I'm not sure that I'd book in advance again. I would probably just turn up and chance it, with the hope of being allocated a booth.

The menu

The menu was extensive with plenty of vegetarian, fish and vegan options too if you're that way inclined and are simply accompanying your meat loving friends or partner. We all know the reason why I was there. It would have been rude not to try one of their celebrated steaks. The restaurant boasts the finest Himalayan salt dry-aged steaks and Wagyu and I was excited to try these. The choice was real. Along with your usual ribeye, sirloin and fillet steak options, there were also sharing boards, and larger cuts of meat like the porterhouse (16oz), chateaubriand (18oz), cote de boeuf (35oz) and tomahawk (36-38oz). 

Some of these larger cuts don't come cheap, but the sharing steaks come with 4 free sides and there was an extensive choice including the following:

  • Fries / Beef dripping chips / Truffle parmesan fries
  • Sweet potato wedges with feta and harrissa yoghurt
  • Mushrooms with slow roasted tomatoes
  • Mash / Truffle mash
  • Peas with bacon
  • Mac and cheese
  • Broccoli
  • Salad
  • Spinach with stilton
  • Garlic mushrooms
  • Spicy siracha slaw
  • Garlic prawns
  • Brisket and cheddar hash browns
  • Beer battered onion rings
So much choice! Which of these sides has your name on it? I'd love to know in the comments below!

The main event

We opted for the tomahawk as I'd always wanted to try one and it would have been rude not to order the restaurant namesake, right? This was a beast of a steak in the form of a bone in ribeye and was cooked to perfection. It had marbling which can be hit and miss and can sometimes mean chewy, and it was in places. Would I have it again? I would, but with such an extensive steak menu, I'd be keen to try another type of steak first.

Tomahawk steak review at Tomahawk York

The sides

Garlic prawns are usually a favourite of mine but these were very pale in colour and quite anaemic looking, so I was a little nervous about whether these were fully cooked or not (as it turns out, we had no problems with food poisoning thankfully!). I also love a good beer battered onion ring. These were ok, but I've had better. I wasn't blown away by the sides other than than fries, so next time around I'd be keen to try a few different ones (perhaps the brisket and cheddar hash browns).

Would I go back?

I would, but I would choose a different cut of meat with - hopefully - a higher meat to fat ratio to it. I will happily eat a whole steak - fat included - if the fat is rendered down enough. However if the fat is tough as old boots and unchewable, it means a lot of the dish can't be eaten and it's a crying shame. It makes an already costly dish feel that little bit worse from a value for money perspective when a huge sharing steak doesn't contain all that much in the way of edible meat. 

I would order the fries again but with a few different sides, and I'd been be keen to try the crispy squid to start which comes with chorizo jam and roasted garlic and lemon mayo and sounds all kinds of dreamy don't you think?

Are you a flexitarian or a meat fan like I am? 

Monday 25 July 2022

Staying at the Hampton by Hilton York Piccadilly // Where to stay in York

Perfectly timed before the announcement of the Omicron variant - which feels like a lifetime ago - it was nice to have a few days away exploring a different city. Understandably at that time of the year, many hotels were fully booked up. Or expensive. For a short stay I don't want to be spending hundreds of British pounds per night. I found an absolute gem of a hotel... but it was fully booked. Another time perhaps. I was also keen to visit a new hotel that was being built the last time I visited York, however the final result was underwhelming with rooms not feeling worth the price point. I came about the Hampton by Hilton York Piccadilly by chance. Newly opened only last year, it looked beautifully done and was competitively priced, coming up lower than other ones in my search. 


The room itself was really well designed and well thought out. The selling point for choosing this particular hotel was the bedroom with its seating area complete with gallery wall, as it looked like a nice place to curl up with a book. The headboard wrapped around the room and merged with built-in bench seating which had the capacity to fold out into another bed. There are two different colourways for the extended headboard and seating area - a lime green or a blue. At the time of booking I preferred the blue scheme, but you don't appear to get a say in the colour, so arrived to the green. Despite inital disapointment, the lime green felt warmer and nicer in person. 

The bed itself was a delight to take a running leap onto upon arrival. Saying that, a lot of the sponginess and comfort was from the duvet. Once in bed, there appeared to be a mattress topper but it wasn't as comfortable or satisfying as laying on top of the duvet. I found reading more comfortable from bed - laying on top of the duvet, naturally - as the bench seating was a little on the hard side, even with the supplied scatter cushions.

Lighting on this side of the room was dimmer and added to the ambient feel, making it feel really cosy. Such lighting was much easier to wake up to then the rude awakening of blarring spotlights. 

Also on this side of the room; a desk area with a wall mounted TV. The TV dominated that wall and did feel a little excessive given the size of the room.

Open hanging space and wall mounted hooks made the room feel a little more open compared to having bulky built-in furniture. We always travel with back packs, so never really need that much hanging space besides somewhere to hang our coats.   

A large wall mirror also added to the feeling of space, making the room feel much bigger than it was. The lack of bezels and frame made it feel like you had access to an adjoining room and that the room continued on.

Also can we talk about how on point the artwork and cushions were? How lovely is this contribution to the gallery wall from a local primary school pupil?


The bathroom I took a lot of inspiration from, given that the bathroom back home could really do with a glow up and is of a similar size. The sink was a thing of beauty, as was the waterfall sbower. And the mirror with its soft lighting and heating meant this stayed mist-free post-shower.

Funny quirks we found:
  1. The artwork behind the toilet (super cute)
  2. The tissue box contained one single tissue 😂
  3. There was hand soap in the shower and shower gel at the sink

The latter was easy enough to resolve as the toiletteries easily slid in and out of their wall mounts, so we switched these over. Having all of these wall mounted as hand pumps rather than miniature bottles was a nice touch and much easier to deal with in the shower. And for the record, both the body wash and hand wash smelled heavenly. 


No robes or slippers are provided at the Hampton by Hilton York Piccadilly, which I was surprised about given the Hilton brand (maybe this is a Hampton thing?). But there were some nice other touches. Including quirky leather handles on the chest of drawsers and a rather snazzy SMEG fridge which we used to keep our large water bottles cold in. 

The tea and coffee station came in useful, especially when visiting York during the colder months. But there wasn't a great deal of choice if like me, you don't drink coffee or standard tea. As a heads up, York's Christmas market closes fairly early (around 6 ish) so my idea of bringing hot drinks back to the room after dinner didn't work out. And none of the big coffee chains are open that late either. Fortunately there were two supermarkets a few minutes walk away from the hotel where we found individual sachets of hot chocolate for about 40p each, so that did the job nicely. I did discover the next morning that the hotel has herbal tea available at breakfast along with a hot drink making station, so maybe next time I'd ask at reception to see if I could use it after hours and bring hot drinks up to the room.


Hampton by Hilton York Piccadilly is located smack bang in the middle of the York city centre, close to main attractions like the JORVIK centre, and within walking distance to Clifford's Tower and York Castle museum. At night we discovered lots of great looking restaurants nearby, so you don't need to venture that far from the hotel to find a good meal. Also with the added benefit of both Sainsburys and Tesco supermarkets nearby which we used to stock up on hot chocolate and large bottles of water. 


The lobby and corridors smelt really clean which was a promising start - especially during a global pandemic. There were seals on the doors so you knew that you were the first ones entering the room since it had been cleaned, and other notices around the hotel detailed the hotel's cleaning procedures. This was a nice touch and for my first experience of travelling in a COVID-19 world, inspired confidence and gave me reassurance during my stay.

As the hotel was newly opened, everything was in a good state of repair and looked as new. The interiors were on point, including a beautiful lobby with sofas and comfortable seating in a myriad of different purples and blues. This was my favourite place to sit in the morning and I would have happily sat there longer if we hadn't pre-booked our activities (a new requirement during COVID times). 

And can we talk about how cute the bird lighting is?


Our hotel stay included breakfast whereas lots of the other hotels I was looking at did not. We'd originally planned to have breakfast out, but given that the room at the Hampton by Hilton York Piccadilly was cheaper than lots of the other hotels we were looking at AND included breakfast, it would have been rude not to!

There was a generous breakfast spread which included both continental and cooked options, along with fresh juices and a hot drink station which included hot chocolate and a generous selection of herbal teas. Food on offer included fruit, bread, cereals, yoghurts, pastries, cooked breakfast options and freshly cooked waffles with a wealth of toppings.  

The waffle maker looked good fun and with Hampton by Hilton being a client at a previous job of mine and supplying a waffle breakfast to my team, I knew that their waffles were insanely good. However the waffle making contraption I couldn't get my head around first thing in the morning where the brain fog is real. Logistically it would have better if the waffles could have been pre-made and available at the hot food counter or made to order. Especially in COVID times where you may not want to touch things that other people have.

As we had quite a taxing and long day of walking ahead of us, we opted for a cooked breakfast. This is something we don't have very often and we have as an occasional treat. The cooked offerings are available buffet style to help yourself. All very nice, but not the most extensive for choice. I probably would have preferred a fried egg or poached egg as their only egg option - scrambled egg - was on the pale side and a little under for my liking. As well as more egg choice, the buffet could have also done with some mushrooms (one of my favourite things to have on toast in the mornings). The mini hash browns however were a stroke of genius. 

The hot chocolate from the hot drink machine comes highly recommended. I went back for a second - which is high praise indeed! - and took it back to the room while we were getting ready to go out.


As a newer hotel, this has been done to a high spec and feels modern and well designed. The bench seating in the room was a clever use of space, but not the most comfortable. It definitely needed the provided cushions. I imagine the fold out bed wouldn't be all that comfortable either, so a word of caution if you are a party of three coming for a York city stay. The fold out bed would be more suited to children or young adults, not for the elderly. 

The downside of the trip was a noise complaint in our room on the second floor. The room had a high pitched noise tht we discovered later that evening after coming back from dinner and it continued all night. And by that time, it was too late to ask to be moved. There was also a continuous dripping noise coming from my side of the bed, sounding like it was coming from overhead or by the window. It sounded like there was a leak somewhere in the buiding. My partner hones into noises very easily and won't sleep, whereas I can sleep through pretty much anything. For this to affect me too, this speaks volumes. Both noises kept us both awake all night long defeating one of the main purposes of a hotel - getting a good night's sleep. Despite being in centre of town, you couldn't hear any outside noise even with buses passing constantly. So having the high pitched ringing and a possible leak coming from inside the room were irritating. 

I contacted the hotel afterwards and have had two responses since - one from the reception desk, the other from corporate. The reception desk informed me that it was likely rain dripping off the roof which I would gladly accept as an excuse if it had been raining(!) It was dry for the entirety of our trip. Corporate is taking our complaint a little more seriously and is more in-line with the customer service you would expect from a Hilton.

Would I stay again? I absolutely loved the room and the hotel, but the room noises have put my guard up a little, and I fear coming back and having another sleepless night. Admittedly it could have been a isolated issue for that particular room or floor two, which may have since been resolved. Here's hoping.

Update: Hampton by Hilton apologised and invited me back for a complimentary stay. Whilst the leak had been resolved, the high pitched noise was still present and we managed to trace this back to the TV. We wanted to turn the TV off or unplug it to test this theory, but didn't have access to a plug as this was hidden in the wall, so the TV had to remain on standby with that high pitched noise all night long. Whilst I managed to sleep a little this time, it was still a disturbed night and for this reason, I sadly won't be staying again.