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Sheraton Grand Hotel and Spa

Our review of the very relaxing Grand Sheraton Hotel and Spa in Edinburgh.

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Sheraton Grand Hotel and Spa Edinburgh

We were really excited to be invited along to the recently refurbished Sheraton Grand Hotel and Spa in Edinburgh a few weeks ago as part of the Sheraton’s #meetyouthere campaign. And we are even more excited to giveaway 10,000 Starwood Preferred Guest loyalty points to one of you!

Sheraton Grand Hotel and Spa Edinburgh

Sheraton Grand Hotel and Spa, Edinburgh

As budget travellers we are rarely given the chance to hangout in 5 star hotels so jumped at the opportunity to join the Sheraton team for a night of luxury at the refurbished Sheraton Grand Hotel and Spa in Edinburgh. Staying as part of the “Sheraton Club” we were in line for the full luxury experience. And boy were we pampered from the minute we arrived!

Usually we have to lug our backpacks up 17 flights of rickety stairs but as we walked into the reception our bags were carried to our rooms while we were whisked away to the Sheraton Club lounge for a welcome drink and canapes!

Sheraton Grand Hotel and Spa Edinburgh

Sure we were getting the star treatment as part of the unveiling of the refurbishment but you can be guaranteed that you will get the same respect and luxury when you check in. Especially if you are lucky enough to win the 10,000 SPG points.

With our appetites held off for the next few hours we were led to what is surely the showpiece of the Sheraton Grand Hotel. The aptly named One Spa which is attached to the Hotel as part of the Club members experience. You can even join the One Club separately to the Sheraton resorts.

Fortunately we were dolled up looking dashing in shirts and skirts so were not expected to get a sweat on while we toured the exercise and workout areas. Although Adela and I did head down at 6.30am the next morning for a workout to burn off a few of the drinks we had. It is so nice being able to walk through a Hotel directly to the gym rather than run in the cold like we usually do.

We didn’t say no to the Spa treatments though. However I did let the masseuse off lightly by offering to have a hand massage instead of a foot massage.

I even nearly fell asleep with the candles, oils and hippy music lulling me into a dreamlike state. If only we had longer here so we could have enjoyed the rooftop pool as well.

Rooftop Hydropool at One Spa

I would have to say that the highlight of the entire night was the food and drinks. Heading behind the chaotic restaurant scenes we met the world renowned Malcolm Webster, the head Chef and creator of some of the nicest food we have ever eaten. Plus the Sheraton team dished out wines to complement every delectable forkful.

Turns out that pairing your food with a decent bottle of red is much nicer than the usual £3 bottle at Tesco’s.

The only thing left for us to do was to roll ourselves up to our Club rooms high above the city lights of Edinburgh and collapse on the gigantic bed. In fact, I now know why they make beds that are wider than they are long. Purely to fit my fat ass in after scoffing all that food.

Sheraton Grand Hotel and Spa Edinburgh

Our only disappointment is that now we are really going to struggle to get back into the budget travel frame of mind and wish we wrote a luxury travel blog instead!

Starwood Preferred Guest Points Giveaway

We are so lucky to be able to give you a chance to win your very own luxury experience with Starwood Hotels and Resorts. And the best part is that you can actually use the points anywhere in the world! And you don’t have to use all the points in one go if you don’t want to. Although we recommend it 🙂

For example you can spend 3 nights in a Starwood Category 1 Hotel by using 3,000 points a night or just 1 night in the Sheraton Grand Hotel and Spa. The choice is yours. Check out this list of the Category 4 Hotels around the world.

So all you have to do to enter our draw is to follow the next 2 links to join our newsletter mailing list and ‘LIKE’ us on Facebook. Once you have done that then there is nothing to do but sit back, relax and cross your fingers! If you have already done both then you are entered already!

The draw will be held on Friday 29th June and be announced in our June newsletter, on our travel blog and on our Facebook page.

CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR WINNER. THANKS ALL FOR ENTERING.

All photos courtesy of Sheraton Grand Hotel and Spa.

Disclaimer: We were guests of Sheraton Grand Hotel and Spa as part of their #meetyouthere campaign. However, as always our thoughts are always our own.

Cole is one half of New Zealand's leading adventure travel blogging couple who have been wearing out their jandals around the world since 2009. He loves any adventure activities and anything to do with the water whether it is Surfing, Diving, Swimming, Snorkeling or just lounging nearby on the beach. You can follow Cole on Google+. Or consider following us via RSS Feed, Twitter, Facebook and subscribe to our Newsletter.

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32 Comments

32 Comments

  1. Laurence

    June 5, 2012 at 8:40 PM

    “wish we wrote a luxury travel blog”. I’m hearing that! 😉

    • Cole Burmester

      June 6, 2012 at 8:14 AM

      Haha so many different topics we could have chosen! Hope you are entered to win 🙂

  2. Wandering Educators

    June 5, 2012 at 8:45 PM

    i’d love to go there. what an amazing experience!!

    • Cole Burmester

      June 6, 2012 at 8:15 AM

      It was SO relaxing. Hope you guys have entered 🙂

  3. Christy @ Technosyncratic

    June 5, 2012 at 9:35 PM

    A rooftop pool?? Yes, please! I don’t know that we’ve ever actually stayed at a five star hotel. Clearly we need to improve our accommodations…

    • Cole Burmester

      June 6, 2012 at 8:15 AM

      Maybe just improve your PR contacts 😉 We would never have the chance to stay somewhere like this either so were pretty stoked to be invited.

  4. Ayngelina

    June 6, 2012 at 5:47 AM

    Great contest I actually love the Sheraton in Canada but have never stayed in one anywhere else, I’m all signed up!

  5. Alexandra

    June 6, 2012 at 10:01 AM

    I love contests! Used to work for Starwood before I left the big bad world or real jobs 😉 I could use some more points 😉

    • Cole Burmester

      June 8, 2012 at 5:45 AM

      You probably have loads already 🙂 they are a great company and its nice they are working with bloggers now.

  6. Vicky

    June 6, 2012 at 1:17 PM

    Wow, looks beautiful 🙂 Consider me entered!

  7. Ian [EagerExistence]

    June 6, 2012 at 3:45 PM

    Wow, I woulda been happy with just staying at the Sharaton. Lucky!
    ps. I count 5 jandals in your social media footer :-p

    • Cole Burmester

      June 8, 2012 at 5:44 AM

      No extra prizes for pointing that out! Hahaha. But will have to remedy it now 🙂

  8. D.J. - The World of Deej

    June 7, 2012 at 2:26 AM

    Great review…even better looking hotel!

  9. DebbZ

    June 7, 2012 at 6:46 PM

    Signed up !!! Hopefully I win and stay in this fancy hotel *cross my fingers* 😀
    Anyway, I nominated your blog for a blog award games. I’d like to pass the award for you. Please check my blog to find out. Cheers 😀

    • Cole Burmester

      June 8, 2012 at 5:39 AM

      Thanks so much Debbz for nominating us. That is awesome and will cross our fingers for you too!

  10. Pete

    June 7, 2012 at 9:10 PM

    Not too shabby, but is the wifi free? 😉

    • Cole Burmester

      June 8, 2012 at 5:36 AM

      Haha you bet Pete! They have an awesome work zone called The Link. Brilliant set up for us bloggers! Hope you guys entered the draw.

  11. Andrea

    June 8, 2012 at 8:26 AM

    Wow – love the look of that pool!

  12. Laurel

    June 10, 2012 at 12:26 PM

    Great contest, I love Sheraton Hotels, my most memorable one was in Vancouver. I’ve entered, fingers crossed.

    • Cole Burmester

      June 10, 2012 at 3:26 PM

      Good luck Laurel! We hardly ever get the chance to spend time in such nice places so wish we could enter ourselves 🙂

  13. Amanda

    June 12, 2012 at 9:14 PM

    I won some Starwood points last year at TBEX, and my sister and I used them while road tripping around the U.S. last summer. We were really impressed with all the hotels we stayed at (one of which was a Sheraton!).

    • Cole Burmester

      June 13, 2012 at 7:01 PM

      Good luck this time Amanda! Might get to stay in some more nice hotels next time you travel 🙂

  14. Masha (2away)

    June 25, 2012 at 5:11 PM

    Entered as well! Normally not very successful in all sorts of draws, but really hoping to win this time 🙂 Luck must be on my side for once!

  15. Erika

    June 26, 2012 at 1:57 AM

    Already signed up, hope to get the points, I would to spend some time in a luxurious place like that =D!

    • Cole Burmester

      June 26, 2012 at 2:31 PM

      Good luck Erika! Wish we could keep them for ourselves haha.

  16. Mary @ Green Global Travel

    July 30, 2012 at 2:48 PM

    Glad you had a chance to experience some luxury. Just gave you a Like on Facebook 🙂

  17. Marina K. Villatoro

    June 18, 2013 at 4:26 PM

    Out of all hotels, I don’t think I’ve ever stayed at a Sheraton. Wonder what I’ve been doing 🙂

    Great review!
    I was in Edinburgh almost 2 decades ago, I think a lot has changed.

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Europe

Amsterdam Food Guide

If you think of Amsterdam you don’t think of food. However if you try the food here in our Amsterdam food guide you might get lucky.

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Amsterdam Food Waffles

We are total foodies and our travelling has allowed our passion for food to grow considerably (not to mention our waist lines)!  We love trying new food when we visit foreign countries and always make a huge effort to eat the local cuisine. Check out some of the food we ate below in our cheap and delicious Amsterdam Food Guide.

Amsterdam Food Waffles

We had heard from a number of people that the Amsterdam food was nothing to rave about. To be honest food was not really our main interest in visiting but then again neither was an Amsterdam Peep show and we ended up enjoying that!

However we were pleasantly surprised. I think the people whom we had talked to had it wrong. Sure Holland doesn’t really have a local cuisine but once we got over this fact we realised there is still some damn good food to be had from the various Amsterdam Restaurants.

Amsterdam Food

The best meal we had was actually next door to the Red Light district in Chinatown. Crossing the canal to the east away from the neon lights your nostrils are attacked and your mouth begins salivating from the delicious smells wafting along the narrow cobbled streets.

As we walked into Bird Thai restaurant the enticing aroma hit us instantly leaving us drooling in anticipation. It was definitely up there with some of the best Thai food we have had. We went for the classic Green curry, fried rice and duck combo.

The Green curry was so flavoursome with the richness of the coconut milk blending perfectly with the traditional spices.  The duck was cooked to perfection and for the first few minutes of the meal all you could hear was the crunching of the crispy outside layer as we devoured the duck in minutes. Needless to say the fried rice was a taste explosion too!

Cheap and delicious Amsterdam food is easy to come by. With hangovers and munchies affecting your hunger it is no surprise that there are an abundance of Fast Food chains and takeaways in Amsterdam. In fact it was actually more the way that the fast food was served that surprised us as you could buy it out of massive vending machines at Febo!

Amsterdam Food Febo

Hidden workers stand behind the vending machines churning out burgers, fries and sausage rolls so all you has to do is insert a Euro and “hey presto” you have a hot meal in your hungry hands.

Then there were the frites stores which seemed to be on every corner. The first thing you noticed about these was the tantalising smell. There is nothing like the smell of chips straight out of the fryer and covered in salt to get you tummy rumbling. Served in a triangle cardboard carton and covered in mayo which meant that that you couldn’t reach the chips at the bottom without covering your greedy fingers in sauce. Just a tad annoying!

But there is nothing like hot chips to warm you up on a cold day.

Finally, while hot chocolates are not typically food I feel they still deserve a mention especially because the usually come paired with waffles! Ahhhh the perfect breakfast.

Amsterdam Hot Chocolate

We loved nipping into a cafe or bar like Cafe Bar Eddy in Amsterdam to warm ourselves up with a hot chocolate. It literally tasted like they had melted chocolate down and added cream. Heaven in a cup. And the choice of waffles was daunting as you could have whatever you wanted. Fruit, chocolate, syrups, cream or all of the above!

If you are heading here then don’t expect to find an array of traditional Amsterdam food. Instead treat yourself to a hot chocolate and waffle for breakfast, grab a quick bite from a vending machine and sample some of the different cuisines found near the Red Light District.

If you stick to this Amsterdam food guide then your taste buds will have a great holiday too!

If you have visited before then what did you think of Amsterdam food?

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Europe

How to smoke weed in Amsterdam

Check out our guide for the first timer in Amsterdam visiting a coffeeshop.

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How to smoke weed in Amsterdam

Before getting started I just want to clarify that we are not drug users. We don’t condone using illegal drugs. And we are not telling you to go and smoke weed in Amsterdam. BUT, our goal of this travel blog is to help advise, educate and provide travel tips for ALL situations. So if you are headed to Amsterdam then we hope our guide to smoking weed in Amsterdam will help you out.

And check out this smoker friendly accommodation for your next trip.

How to smoke weed in Amsterdam Coffeeshop

When you tell people that you are visiting Amsterdam then they immediately think of one thing and one thing only. Weed. Dope. Herb. Buds. Spliff. Whacky Tobbacky. Pot. Marijuana. Cannabis. 

Call it what you will but just know that the biggest name for it is “ILLEGAL”.

Yes it is actually illegal to smoke weed in Amsterdam. But for now the Netherlands government do tolerate smoking in designated “coffeeshops”. This is slowly changing as the Government tries to moderate the tourism drug trade and in 2013 there will be new laws which we won’t go in to now as they are continuously changing.

In the meantime if you obey the rules, are not a moron and use our guide to smoking weed in Amsterdam then you are going to be fine.

Smoke weed in Amsterdam

How to smoke weed in Amsterdam

Don’t smoke weed in Amsterdam in public such as on the streets. There are over 300 designated coffee shops where you are tolerated to smoke weed. These places are regulated and everything is done in the open.

Don’t get confused and try to smoke in a koffiehuis (coffee house) which sells coffee and light meals or a café that is a casual restaurant and/or bar.

The coffeeshops are super easy to spot with marijuana leaves in the windows and Bob Marley paintings on the doors. Not to mention the smell wafting through the cold breeze. There will also be the usual tourists that have stupidly over-indulged and are glassy eyed.

We visited one of the five Bulldog coffeeshops when we were in Amsterdam and had no complaints. We even enjoyed a delicious hot chocolate while we were there!

Bulldog Coffeeshop in Amsterdam

Buying weed in Amsterdam

As long as you are over 18 then you will be allowed to buy up to 5 grams of weed in the regulated coffeeshops. Plus you have the added security knowing that your marijuana is not going to be laced with anything else if you are attempting to buy it off someone on the street. And who knows, they might be setting you up to get busted.

We were (and are) total amateurs and had no idea what to do once we actually stepped foot in the coffeeshop. But quickly sussed it out. There will generally be a “dealer bar” with full menu’s and everything for you to choose. So if you are an expert you will probably know what to order! Prices will of course vary by quantity (grams, bags, individual joints) and quality.

For a beginner ask lots of questions. Don’t be shy like we were. Ask the staff what they recommend and what effects each type has. They will know then that you are a newbie and will guide you. Just know that they are very accustomed to tourists who don’t know exactly how to go about the whole process.

What we found out is that it is actually perfectly fine for you to visit other coffeeshops and smoke weed that you have already purchased somewhere else. However, it is considered rude not to at least buy a hot chocolate or coffee if you do this. Coffeeshops do also have some of the best coffee in Amsterdam.

How to smoke weed in Amsterdam

Don’t be an idiot

Number 1 rule: Don’t smoke too much weed in Amsterdam! Even if you are a pot loving hippie from a commune you are probably going to find the marijuana really strong in Amsterdam. Just take it slow.

If you are enjoying a drink as well then again take it easy with the booze. All the coffeshops won’t sell you beer as well as cannabis.

EAT! Don’t go drinking and smoking on an empty stomach as cannabis lowers your blood sugar level and this can turn a fun day into a disaster if you haven’t eaten recently. Check out our Amsterdam Food Guide for some quick eating tips here.

A final word of warning, please watch out for the spacecake! Eating cannabis will knock you on your ass and is much stronger than when smoked.

Finally, enjoy yourselves and for goodness sake obey the rules, laws and customs while you are smoking weed in Amsterdam.

If you have an addiction to drugs then reach out and seek some help.

Check out these Weed Products for your next travel adventure.

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Europe

Four Jandals Visits an Amsterdam Peep Show

Have you ever wanted to visit an Amsterdam peep show? We had the chance to go and embraced it with open arms. Check out our experience here

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Amsterdam peep show Sex Palace

An Amsterdam peep show is a must, just like visiting the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Okay slightly different. But you have got to go!

And if you have ever wanted to visit Amsterdam then more than likely you are going to be interested in checking out a peep show in the red light district. It might be worthwhile checking out this Amsterdam’s Red Light District – The ultimate guide.

Amsterdam Moulin Rouge Red Light District

There is something about the red light district that draws the punters and tourists alike in. Maybe it is the bright red neon lights that illuminate the darkened alleyways that pull them in like moths to a flame. Or the bars and coffee shops that let a certain smell waft lazily across the glistening canals.

Or maybe it is just the fact that sex really does sell.

When we visited Amsterdam with a couple of friends we actually spent what I now consider an embarrassingly long time in that same area. The fact is that we seriously could not get enough.

Not like that of course!

We just couldn’t believe that everyone is so open and carefree about what is for all intents and purposes, window shopping for sex. The number of guys knocking on windows and being ushered behind the curtains of every room were staggering.

However, we were not enticed ourselves to fork over $50 euros but were intrigued enough to want to check out an Amsterdam peep show. I just want to clarify here that it was actually Adela that was the most keen. I just didn’t want to let her down so went along with it…

Amsterdam Red Light District

http://www.flickr.com/photos/shaynekaye/4792525797

Visiting the Amsterdam peep show

Much to our surprise, there is only one Amsterdam peep show left in the whole city back in 2012!

The very originally named “Sex Palace” is situated on the banks of one of the main canals in the heart of the red light district on Oudezijds Achterburgwal street. Walking under the neon flashing lights into the entrance way your senses are assaulted by sights, sounds and disturbingly smell.

All around the walls are posters and screens showing ladies in various states of undress and positions. A white board lists the movies that you can rent out for your viewing pleasure in one of the many private booths. But we were only there for one thing:

The circular structure sitting slightly to the left of the entrance with a dozen small doors along it’s walls. 

Each of those small doors lead into equally small rooms no larger than a traditional UK phone box. A small covered viewing window blocks your view forward.

The money box clinging to the wall to operate the viewing window only accepts coins. But don’t worry if you only have notes as they handily have a large coin machine dishing out $2 euro coins for ease of watching.

Once you close the door and chuck in your money, the viewing window pops open for 2 minutes and allows you to view the large, slowly-rotating stage on which a scantily-dressed woman displays herself. With her flexibility she could have represented any country in the upcoming Olympics!

Amsterdam peep show Sex Palace

http://www.flickr.com/photos/mattmangum/2301545978

I was cracking up laughing the entire time I was in there because you can actually just make out the rest of the “audience” in the opposite booths. I even got a little wave and smile as the girl slowly revolved past my window.

The Amsterdam peep show was a little bit creepy. But even though we were there late on a Saturday night the booths were doing a roaring trade. Obviously nearly everyone else, from the hens parties to the couples, were there for the same reason as us. To check out one or two rounds before heading back into the night giggling like school girls at a sleepover at what we had just done.

The shifty eyed single men on the other hand skulked away to their respective viewing windows again and again with pockets full of coins.

If you ever get the chance then we actually do highly recommend taking the plunge and visiting an Amsterdam peep show. Just make sure that you are always respectful of the women in the shows and the ones on the streets!

Have you ever been to an Amsterdam Peep Show or Sex show? Tell us about your experience below.

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Meet Cole and Adela

Cole and AdelaWe have been wearing out our jandals (Kiwi for flip-flops) on our travel adventures around the world since 2009. We think our blog is thought provoking and a little witty. But we have been proven wrong before. Find out more about us here...

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