Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Bali: The Laguna, A Luxury Collection Resort & Spa

The past few months have been quite hectic but so much fun! At the end of June I went back to Hong Kong for a bit, then on to Bali to attend my best friend's beautiful wedding at Khayangan Estate in Uluwatu. My mom and grandma then flew back to San Francisco with me, and spent a month here. So much good food and family time.

For my recent visit to Bali, we looked for a Starwood hotel, and although I really wanted to stay at the W Hotel, it was a few hundred US dollars more per night than The Laguna Resort. I ended up being very happy with The Laguna Resort, and can't wait to return one day!

The open air lobby where you can sit anywhere, and a member of the front desk staff will come over to you to process the check in

Tasty and refreshing welcome drinks and cold towels (cold towels are one of my favorite things)

The pool seems to wind all throughout the hotel, and never felt too crowded.

Plenty of lounge chairs, the clearest ocean water, and none of those people constantly trying to sell you things while on the beach.

Lagoon access rooms on the ground floor of this hotel block

Cabanas are spread out over the property and available for rent

Banyubiru, the restaurant where International and Asian cuisines are served. The outdoor seating offers lagoon and garden views

We were upgraded from a deluxe garden room to a deluxe lagoon access room (3 tiers higher) at check in, but we never took advantage of jumping into the pool from the balcony. I thought the main pool was nicer, as it has prettier landscaping (palm trees and such) and a closer proximity to the beach, so on second thought, a higher floor room with a view (ocean or garden) would've probably been more enjoyable. In addition to its guest rooms, The Laguna Resort also offers villas with private pools.

The breakfast buffet at Banyubiru was nothing short of amazing, and I'm glad, because Asian hotels are known for having the best buffets. There's also a discount for SPG members. There are several restaurants on the premises, and above the beachfront restaurant, there were tiny lamps hanging from the trees. A lovely romantic option for couples! 

Overall a perfect stay with yet another SPG hotel. 

Kawasan Pariwisata 
Nusa Dua Lot N2 
Bali, 80363, Indonesia

SPG category 4


Rooms from US$215+


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

San Francisco City Tour By Car

San Francisco is a great city to live in after experiencing LA and NYC. LA requires way more driving and traffic than I can stand, and NYC's subway is so gritty. I like that SF is relatively small and very walkable (minus the crazy hills), and that when I do go somewhere farther, $7 Uberpool makes for a cheap and very convenient ride. After talking to a lot of friends, it seems that most people who do own cars in SF don't actually use them on a daily basis, but more for weekends. Street parking is difficult, and there is a lot of car window bashing and theft. The point of this ramble is that when my friend Natalie rented a car for a few days during her visit to SF, we took full advantage and hit up some of my favorite spots very quickly and efficiently. A car does come in handy in the city once in a while!

Waffle at Golden Coffee Shop

Lombard Street Views

Palace of Fine Arts
Golden Gate Bridge from Sausalito

  • My sister is so lucky to have Golden Coffee Shop right in her neighborhood. It's such a great diner run by a Chinese husband and wife team. There's a U-shaped bar that makes up the bulk of the seating here, and it's fun to be able to watch all the cooking, and to easily get someone's attention if you need anything! The food is cheap and delicious. The waffle is a must, and the bacon is always dry and crispy. Mmm...
  • It got nice and sunny as we finished up breakfast at Golden Coffee Shop, so we headed over to Lombard Street, the famous crooked street in Russian Hill that is lined by the most beautiful houses and flowers. The water and city views from this hill are stunning. 
  • Palace of Fine Arts in the marina district is the perfect place for a picnic. But we weren't hungry, so we just went to walk around, take in the architecture, and gawk at the beautiful houses. 
  • Vista Point (Conzelman Road) in Sausalito is the perfect spot for shots of the Golden Gate Bridge. It's off of the last exit in Sausalito before heading back into SF. If you have time, go to Fish for the best crab roll ever.
  • Natalie and I headed back into the city after taking pictures, and went straight to Ike's Place (in the mission), my favorite sandwich shop in SF. There are more choices than you could ever need, but make sure to try the Menage a Trois on the dutch crunch roll-- BBQ, cheddar, halal chicken, honey mustard, pepper jack, honey, and swiss. The sandwiches are BIG here. We shared one and were perfectly full.
  • Very conveniently, Bi-Rite Creamery is just a 5 minute walk from Ike's Place, and is home to the best ice cream! Since it was kind of windy that day, we were pleasantly surprised with a line of only 5 people! So good, and the dark colored wall outside the shop makes for a very nice backdrop for Instagram photos. 

Friday, May 29, 2015

A San Francisco Walking Tour

When one of my best friends came to visit me in SF last week, I had a great time mapping out how we would explore several different neighborhoods by foot. We walked over 6 miles, and had some pretty great food and drink in between.

Bread Pudding at Tartine Bakery

Painted Ladies

Truffle Fries at Taps Social House & Kitchen
  • Took an Uber from home to Tartine Bakery. It's really the best bakery ever. Their cake aux olives is amazing, as is their bread pudding. And morning bun. 
  • Walked to The Painted Ladies, aka the strip of Full House houses. (Note that there are some hills involved for this portion of the walk.) Did not see Uncle Jesse, but had a great time seeing lots of happy dogs being walked.
  • Got really thirsty, which got us going to the next destination-- lower pacific heights! (Stopped into La Boulange on Fillmore street. Their half spicy half sweet iced soy chai is my favorite. Did some window shopping. Love the Joie store on Fillmore!
  • Continued on to Cow Hollow. Looked around in the stores on Union Street, and passed by tons  of cute bars and bakeries. 
  • It was around 4:30pm, so we walked on over to Taps Social House & Kitchen, conveniently located next door to Nick's Crispy Tacos. Taps Social House has the best truffle fries and a very generous portion of it. We finished it all off.
  • Taco Tuesday! We then went next door to Nick's Crispy Tacos and enjoyed their amazing Chicken Tacos (Nick's Way of course-- this includes guac and a crispy tortilla with melted cheese)
  • There was a Warriors game on, so Nick's was packed and we never got to sit down. We decided to head to the wine bar Amelie in Nob Hill for a bottle of wine and charcuterie. Such a perfect way to end the day!

Friday, May 1, 2015

One Day in Rome

Rome! Another wonderful Italian city that is so full of energy and beauty. Due to some unfortunate planning, we ended up only spending one day and night in Rome. It was much too short and hurried, but we will be back one day!

The Pantheon

Ponte Sant'Angelo

Colosseum

Casa & Bottega

Casa & Bottega

Dilla

Outdoor seating at Dilla

Sleep:
Knowing that we wouldn't have much time in Rome, we didn't want to splurge on a fancy hotel. Instead, we used airbnb and booked rooms in an apartment right by the Pantheon.

Eat:

Casa & Bottega
Via del Coronari, 183, 00186 Roma, Italy
We stumbled upon this cafe in the early morning on the way to Pont Sant'Angelo, and I must've taken at least 20 pictures inside. I loved all the little details in the design. There were shelves with some books, drawings hung up, and the comfiest looking banquette seating. Oh and the cappuccino and croissants were amazing too!

Dilla
Via Mario de Fiori, 41, 00187 Roma, Italy
Since this was our last stop in Italy, it was really important to me that our last meal include pasta. Really good pasta. We ended up going to Dilla, where we had to wait about half an hour for a table. I loved the cozy ambience of the restaurant, so I was fine with the wait. We were told to sit at the bar, which unlike in the US, isn't where you order a drink to wait for a table, but rather just sit and hang out. The friendly server gave us a complimentary meat and cheese plate and wine while we sat there. I really appreciated that! It felt like we were in a friend's home instead of a restaurant. Oh and the pasta-- get the black truffle cream and parmesan pasta!

See/Do:

Pantheon
As with every other site, go early! We got some good pictures before everyone else arrived.

Ponte Sant'Angelo
Travertine marble bridge that leads up to the Castel Sant'Angelo. Beautiful statues line the bridge.

The Vatican
The lines to get into the Vatican were already incredibly long when we arrived before 9am. First place we'll visit on our next trip to Rome!

The Colosseum
We arrived a little after it opened, and only had to wait 20 minutes to buy tickets and enter. I highly recommend paying extra for the audio guide, as there aren't a lot of descriptions and signs once inside.

Trevi Fountain
Unfortunately the fountain is under major renovation, and is currently closed. Another reason we'll have to return one day.

** If you're using Airbnb for the first time, use this link to get $25 off: www.airbnb.com/c/lshia?s=8

See the other posts from this trip here:
What to See and Eat in Florence
Westin Excelsior Florence
What to See and Eat in Milan
Park Hyatt Milan

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