The Swallows Nest at Chelidonia Luxury Suites, Oia, Santorini

Monday 25 October 2021

I'm not sure why or how but the pandemic seems to have made European travel alot more attractive to me. Whereas I would never have considered it before, my short haul bucket list is now growing rather quickly. 

The Greek islands were the first one I managed to tick off and having not had any travel to write about for two years, there are a whole list of posts I want to write about my trip. I've decided to start with the thing I was most excited about, the hotel we stayed at in Santorini.

Our two nights in the Swallows Nest room at Chelidonia Luxury Suites were something I'll never forget. 

As we arrived and walked alot the main street in Oia, which is along the top of the mountain - the excitement set in. I spotted our room in amongst a sea of white buildings that covered the side of the cliff opposite

It looked exactly like the photos and stood out from all the others.

This photo is not doing it justice but it is the only one that has the beautiful blue of the plunge pool and the intense pink of the local bougainvillea flowers; by far the most beautiful room on the cliff. 

The location of Chelidonia Luxury Suites 

The location was perfect. Reception was on the main strip whilst the rooms were a little way down, past a private entry gate and then spread out across the cliff face. 

The most popular Instagram spot in the town - the best view of the blue domes was just before the gate so it was rather busy although past the gate it was very serene and you didn't really see anyone else as you walked along the cobbled paths.

The staff at Chelidonia Luxury Suites 

I can't say enough about the staff at the hotel, particularly Ned who took care of absolutely everything.

When we arrived, he explained every detail we might have needed, dropped us to our room and disappeared. We hopped in the pool as soon as he left and 30 minutes later, he arrived with a bottle of sparkling wine which was a really lovely touch. 

He served our breakfast, checked in on us every now and then and offered to take photos every time he came around which I really appreciated.

Another thing that was really helpful was the virtual concierge; a whatsapp number. Anytime we needed anything we just sent them a message and our problem was solved. This was how we put our breakfast orders in, how they let us know our reservations had been made, how we asked them to book our airport transfers, everything!

Our room at Chelidonia Luxury Suites 

The room was the most exciting place I've ever stayed. We had quite specific requirements when booking, we wanted a cave style room and we wanted a private plunge pool and this room ticked both of those boxes. The inside was white and airy with curved ceilings and door ways and the outside was extra special. 

Not only did we have a pool that went deep into the cave and snaked around corners, with a bench at each end, but it could be accessed from a secret hatch in the room.

It had crazy views across the cliff face and was the perfect temperature so we made the most of it, day and night.

As well as the pool and sunbed area, there was also a secret terrace...

Breakfast at Chelidonia Luxury Suites 

The room had so many different parts to it, each one more magical than the last and whilst the pool was pretty incredible, it was the terrace that took me by surprise.

Just up a few steps up and around the back of the room was our private terrace. With seats carved into the the stone and a table and umbrella set up for dining, it looked out in the other direction over the caldera and the Agean sea. 

It was the most incredible place I've ever eaten breakfast. 

Ned set up our feast and left us to enjoy our first course which usually consisted of breads, coffee, juices, fruit and yoghurt.

And then he was back twenty minutes later with the rest!

It was an absolutely magical way to spend the morning. We ate our food and spent a further hour sat there looking out over the ocean with not another person in sight which was one of my favourite parts of the day. 

It's not often I'd prefer to stay in the room than get out and explore but our stay was one of the best things I've ever experienced. I have always wanted to stay on one of Santorini's cave rooms so I can happily tick that one off my list! 

Sourdough masterclass with Good in Bread

Monday 11 October 2021

I love baking. Fairy cakes, banana bread, Tuesday nights watching bake off, although the more I bake, the more apparent it becomes that I'm not particularly good at it. 

Keep it simple and I'm fine but move on to more intricate recipes like sourdough and I wouldn't know where to start.

Sourdough became the 'it' thing to eat a few years ago; avotoast has never looked back and once people realised that they were going to have alot of time on their hands last year, it became one of the 'it' things to bake.

I know it takes a very long time because I have just successfully baked (and immediately eaten) my first two loaves.

I definitely cannot take all the credit. The guys at Good in Bread sent me all the stuff I needed, a simple recipe and they even set up a Zoom call with Emily (who founded the brand) who talked me through the process step by step and let me tell you, sourdough is no easy feat.

With one step unsupervised, I did manage to burn the first loaf (it was a little extra crusty) but the 2nd was perfect and a very proud moment. I try to avoid bread at home where I can but there was no resisting a loaf that I had baked fresh myself. We had bread for breakfast, lunch and dinner for two days last week. 

Good in Bread is an artisan sourdough subscription service which means it's now possible to have a freshly baked loaf delivered to my London door step on a bi-weekly basis.


Pizza Making at Bunga Bunga Battersea

Monday 4 October 2021

If like me, you're not one to wait for the weekend, then Bunga Bunga is the place for a little midweek fun.

They've got party pizza venues in both southwest London and Covent garden but my local, in Battersea closes on a Wednesday night in favour of educating the locals on the art of pizza making.

We were the first ones in and quickly made ourselves comfortable. I'd never been to Bunga Bunga before but I already knew I'd like to come back within ten minutes of arriving. Even empty, I loved the vibe; and the quirky and cool Italian decor. I just knew it was going to be a fun place to spend a Friday.

I decided that it was not going to be a quiet Wednesday night so after our welcome drinks, we ordered a bottle of prosecco which arrived just in time to be enjoyed with a plate of antipasti - the perfect accompaniment!

The classes are £35pp and they have a bottomless option for £55 but for the amount I drink, bottomless is hardly ever worth it so a bottle between the two of us was great! 

Nathan was our awesome host for the evening and he and Chef John made everyone feel very comfortable. They did a great job in getting everyone involved whilst bouncing off each other all evening - they were a huge part of why we had such a great time.

After watching how it was done, we donned our aprons and had a go at making the dough ourselves. Quite a simple task but alot of fun to get stuck in to plus the simplicity meant I had one hand spare to drink with whilst I mixed the pre-measured ingredients with the other, an impressive skill I know. 

Whilst our dough was bagged up ready to take home, we were given a pre-proved ball to stretch into shape and smother with toppings.

I swapped David his veg for my pepperoni and off they went to the oven - only to be demolished within seconds of coming out.

Somehow our table won 'best dough' (must have been my one handed dough rolling) which meant a round of shots to finish the an already super evening!

The pizza making was not particularly skillful or insightful but this was one of the most entertaining and enjoyable cookery classes I've ever done. We were first to arrive and last to leave so that should tell you something.

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