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On stop 5 on the whirlwind Europe tour, I learnt that I simply ADORE Luxembourg. I mean if I get the chance, I will do my best to retire there, and I can see myself transferring through there during further travels, even if it’s not convenient! For real, I just loved it so much.
Just to clarify, it was my first visit to the country, and being one of those tiny countries that gets no publicity, I had no idea what I should expect. The only thing I knew going into Luxembourg was that according to my Mum, “people only go to Luxembourg to take their money out”. Apparently she was referring to the massive amount of finance that is run in the capital!
I highly recommend a visit to the country at any opportunity, I sure will be returning! The list below is in no particular order, I couldn’t choose any one place above another – also why this list is top 13 not top 10!
1. Visit Notre Dame Cathedral
There are some cathedrals which are stunning because of their age, significance, or sheer size – Notre Dame Cathedral is none of these things, in fact it is almost modest. But what is most stunning is that it is absolutely impeccable inside… I’ve never seen a church so well maintained and so gorgeous.
2. Market at William Square (Place Guillaume II)
Occurs here Wednesdays and Saturdays 7am-2pm. Filled with trinkets of all sorts, amazing food, and the most fragrant plant nursery I have ever had the pleasure of walking through.
3. Hot Chocolate at Brasserie Guillaume
Also located at Place Guillaume II, the hot chocolate they serve has to be the best I have ever had, and considering I drink hot chocolate like most people drink coffee, that is saying something. It was like drinking melted chocolate – heaven on earth! I wouldn’t suggest sitting indoors if you’re like me and hate fish, it is a (really good) fish restaurant as well!
4. Geschichts Museum
Located off rue du St-Esprit, the Luxembourg History Museum is hidden sufficiently away from the tourist hub that it doesn’t have hundreds of people milling around like sheep, and for the bathroom-conscious traveller, they have great toilets! Tickets cost €3 for kids and €3 for adults.
5. Restaurant Pizzeria Bachhus
Aptly named after the Roman/Greek god of wine, this Italian restaurant isn’t quite in keeping with local traditions, but serves amazing food and wine, all served by the best waiters I’ve ever had! A little on the pricey side, with a Calzone costing €14, the servings are massive, so for a traveller on a budget you could easily share a pizza with a friend. It’s also usefully located almost directly opposite the history museum for a convenient next stop.
6. Bock Archaeological Crypt and Casemates
Never mind the odd name, the casemates are ancient fortifications which have been used for hundreds of years, through many wars, battles and sieges. Not for the claustrophobic, the casemates are a maze of tunnels through the city’s natural stone, with amazing stories of who lived there and what it stored (and protected). Entry costs €4/€2 for adults/children.
7. Bock Promontory (and Schloss Brücke)
The promontory sits atop the ancient fortifications, giving insanely gorgeous panoramic views of the city. If you’re not the tunnels and caves type, a visit to this is still highly recommended, and you can appreciate the Game of Thrones style prison cells safely from the outside.
8. The best view in town – courtyard of Rue du St-Esprit
The entrance is hidden just down a dead-end laneway next to the history museum, so this spot is a gem, little known by tourists. In the middle of the courtyard stands what I understood to be an ancient apple tree (I did my best to understand the ancient German dialect…). The outlook has views over the ever-photogenic neighbourhoods of Grund, Clausen and Pfaffenthal.
9. Petrusse Park
Nestled in the valley beneath the famous bridges Pont Adolphe and the Viaduc, this gorgeous fairytale park follows the Péitrusse river, giving a much-wanted break from the bustling city. The main path winds through the park, crossing the river multiple times. If you’ve got kids, or feel like being a little childish yourself, there is also a miniature train you can ride in the summer.
10. Tour of the Palace of the Grand Duke
The palace is located in the centre of town, right in the ‘tourist precinct’, for want of a better term. The palace is only open at certain times of the day, and only accessible to the public if you join a guided tour. The tour costs €10/€5 per adult/child, and tickets are only available from the city tourist office. It runs for 45 minutes, multiple times a
day, depending on your language. If you don’t quite manage to make this time slot, the pictures from the outside are well worth the walk there (not that it’s a hard walk at all)!
11. Shopping on Avenue de la Liberté
If you’ve had enough of being a tourist, and just want to get into some air conditioning (or heating if it’s winter) for some much-needed retail therapy, this street leading down to the train station is chock-a-block filled with all sorts of stores, from high-end brands to those more affordable to we normal humans, such as C&A and New Yorker.
12. Walking through the lanes on Plateau du St Esprit
The city of Luxembourg is absolutely stunning and immaculate everywhere, but nothing like it is on the plateau. The lanes are filled with cute restaurants, a few boutique shops here and there, fancy cars, and the residences of the one-percenters. If you’re feeling like zoning out for a few moments after a hard few hours of walking, this is a perfect area for daydreaming and photos.
13. Following the marked tourist paths
If you go into the tourist office, the helpful staff at the desk will give you a map which has a walking tour of the town, and for an extra €2, you can find a book with information on each point of interest. There are also permanently signposted walking tours of the town, one called The Nature Walk, and another titled The Wenzel Circular Walk. Any of these you can pick up at any point on the circuit, and do as you please!
Getting around Luxembourg
If you’re staying outside of the city (which I highly recommend you do, for budget and insanely-gorgeous-town purposes), the daily ticket for unlimited travel on the trains in Luxembourg is only €4. If you’d prefer to drive, the roads (just like every single other facet of Luxembourg) are absolutely immaculately kept, and I was seriously inspired to plan a road trip through Luxembourg at some point!
The city is small enough that you don’t need to catch any public transport – to me it didn’t even seem like they had much public transport around. If you really don’t want to be on your feet the whole day, there is always the hop-on hop-off tourist bus.
I stayed in Rough Luxe hotel as an overnight in London before transferring to a Eurostar train from London, Kings Cross St Pancras to Paris Gare du Nord. While it was just for the night for ease during the transfer, I was looking for somewhere with some character, and Rough Luxe seemed to fit just right!
For 3 people (one queen bed and one double sofa) for one night, the cost totalled £159 without breakfast. I suppose it really depends whether you are a budget traveller or not as to whether this stay is worth it – considering it is in prime location in London, I think that for a room which (at a stretch) could house 4 people, in relative luxury, this hotel is quite an OK deal, by the numbers.
The bathroom was extremely high-class. The fittings were of top quality, and the bathroom was clean and relatively spacious (particularly in comparison to the room). If I am being really particular, I should also add that the bathroom smelt amazing! There were certain parts that were in keeping with the style of the hotel – the shabby chic style – but this did not detract from the bathroom in any way, and was well-kept so that it still seemed perfectly clean.
The wi-fi was very good, despite the warning from the hotel that it could be sketchy at times “because it is an old building”. There were 3 networks available, one for each floor, which kept the wi-fi running very smoothly. As a booking of 3 people, we had no issue having 3 computers plus 3 phones on the network at once, with no noticeable slowness.
If you’re more of a ‘stay in the hotel room and watch TV type’, I wouldn’t bank on the TV working out for you. The TV looks ancient, and although we didn’t actually try it, and don’t know whether it is just aesthetic or not, it had a tiny screen, and to be completely honest I would rather watch stuff on my computer than on this! I must say though, that it added bucket loads of character to the place!
The location was absolutely ideal. It was almost directly opposite the International part of Kings Cross St Pancras Station in London, but was far enough up the street that there was no thoroughfare past the front door (or back for that matter).
Being so close to this train station means it’s great for international transfers, but even pretty good for tripping around London on the Underground! There’s also a taxi rank between the hotel and the station to make those inconvenient airport transfers that bit easier.
The room in Rough Luxe was divided up like an apartment – there was a tiny entry hall (barely wide enough to squeeze both you and a bag through the door together), off which the other rooms were located. There is the ‘master’ bedroom which has a double bed, and enough space just to walk around the bed, there is the second room which has an incredibly comfortable sofa bed, and then the gorgeously luxurious shower.
While the room was absolutely the most minimal amount of space possible, it was JUST enough for the three of us to stay for a night. I must say I wouldn’t recommend it for much longer than that, unless you are just one person in the same room!
The room was very clean and well presented, and had everything you would reasonably need in a hotel room. After the moving around of bags was out of the way, it was a pleasure to stay at.
The service provided at Rough Luxe was simple, and nothing special. The receptionist was expecting us, and when she asked our names, she seemed relieved to find we were the right people, as if it meant that she could finally clock off for the afternoon… Not a great first impression really! Other than that, she was quite pleasant to deal with.
One thing that we did think a little odd, was that we needed to check out relatively early (7:15am) to make a train connection. The hotel would not provide a receptionist this early in the morning, and we were told to “just leave the key where we can see it”. We were also told that if we needed someone at all, we should just knock on the managers door – this would be fine if it were just a B&B in the middle of nowhere, but considering what we were paying, surely you should expect something more?
I should mention that, if you haven’t worked out already, reception is not attended 24/7. For us this was not an issue, we didn’t need any assistance overnight, but had we needed something, we would have been at a slight loss as to what to do!
I feel like this one should be mentioned in the case of this hotel. Whilst at all times I did not feel there was any security risk at all, there was an issue with the lock. Once you fidgeted with it enough, you could get it to work, but how flimsy that meant it was a slight concern. But more so, I was more concerned about the safety risk if we had needed to escape for any reason, such as fire… I’ll just leave it by saying that if we had needed to fiddle with the lock for as long as we did to open it the first time…. Well, you get it
To cover the other important details, the room we stayed in was on the second floor, with all windows locking from the inside, and the hotel is located in a pretty good part of town.
I cannot say one bad thing about the character of this hotel. It was not lacking at all in this department! The hotel was designed to look old and potentially decaying, but if you looked closely enough, it was pretty clear that it was all a bit faked and very well maintained.
Every single thing was in perfect harmony with the name ‘Rough Luxe’ – the walls and light fittings were all old and worn but in good shape, all the wood and paint in the apartment was ragged and unfinished, but then this was juxtaposed by the luxury bathroom fittings, furniture, and the all-important sheets!
Although I was complaining about the size of the room earlier, if I’m totally honest, it actually added to the character of the room. It kind of made it feel a little more cosy and homely, and everything fitted perfectly!
Things to do
In terms of things to do, dare I say ANYTHING? It’s London! There are all the world-famous tourist attractions, there are West End shows, markets dotted through the city, parks everywhere, and the city is always buzzing. The list goes on!
For places to eat, in the local area there are plenty of takeaway food shops, plus the odd pub buried in the back streets. We dined at Mabel’s Tavern (Shepherd’s Neame) which I would recommend.
Overall review of Rough Luxe
As a final conclusion, my stay at Rough Luxe was quite enjoyable, and there are very few significant negatives of note. The hotel lived up to my expectations, and I had relatively high ones, in all honesty!
I would recommend it more to the business traveller, or to a couple who are just staying the night, but definitely not to a family or seniors. It was lovely, but only right for a few certain demographics, or people on a certain type of trip.
In all honesty, I probably wouldn’t stay here again. I don’t think that it was quite worth it, and while it was quite a pleasure to stay at, maybe it was the lack of staff at the hotel that wouldn’t make me return, though I’m happy I had the chance to stay once. I’m not trying to put anything negative on the place, but if I had a million dollars, I probably would spend it somewhere else. Though that said, although I wouldn’t stay again, I would recommend it to a friend!
For somewhere a bit different, I recommend you check out Rough Luxe, their website can be found here, or it can be booked on Booking.com. I wish you all the best for your next trips to London, and if you choose to stay here, then I hope you enjoy your stay as I did.
During the last half term holiday, I visited the Lake District in England with a friend and his grandparents. We stayed in Grange-Over-Sands, a Victorian seaside resort town. It was like a haven for retirees – everything was gorgeously kept, and life moves slowly there. I wrote a post on it only last week – see here! It was an amazing way to spend a few days to relax from my hectic work life.
During our time in the Lake District, we wanted to make the most of the activities available, and what better than to scale the tallest mountain in the country! Standing at a measly 978m (3209 ft), Scafell is the tallest mountain in England, and one of the three peaks in the UK: third tallest after Scotland’s Ben Nevis, and Snowdon in Wales.
For the entire lead up to the trip, and the hike itself (plus some of my post-trip story telling) I very confidently mispronounced the name of the mountain as Scay-fell, when it is actually nothing like it. The prime reason for the mispronunciation was my terrible spelling! The correct pronunciation is (for once) phonetic – to pronounce the first syllable as ‘Skah’, like the ‘a’ sound in father. An alternative pronunciation, as Wikipedia tells me, is to pronounce it more like ‘Skaw-fell’, with the ‘a’ sound rhyming with ‘fraud’.
So with my etymology lesson over, I’ll tell you the fateful tale of my hike up Scafell. No, untrue… It was just like your average bush walk, except without the bushes, and with a bit more of an incline.
We began at the north-eastern end of Wast Water, near the township of Wasdale. The most popular route up to the peak is the one that we took. The area is controlled by the National Trust, so it is well cared for, and relatively well used. The path takes you up through what seems to be private property, as there were sheep all over the place.
The first part of the walk is on the right hand side of the river, where you follow the path up from the car park to the entrance to the National Trust controlled area. This part of the walk is wide, well-worn, and the easiest part of the walk. It’s more of a Sunday stroll than a hike up a mountain.
After a few hundred metres, you cross the river over a bridge, and then meet the first of the gates. This view is stunning enough that I thought it couldn’t get prettier than this – I couldn’t have been more wrong.
As you follow the path up the hill, the walk starts to get a little steeper, and for someone like myself who had done very little exercise (read: none at all) recently, my body couldn’t quite handle the shock of the increased heart rate I was experiencing. I had to keep stopping for little breaks (which nearly killed my friend), but every time we stopped, it was yet another gorgeous view.
It continued like this for quite a while – me speeding up, then stopping for yet another break, a quick photo, and then we got going again. Until we hit the river.
The river by this point on the mountain, was quite wide, not very shallow, but rather fast moving. I made it across relatively easily, somehow without falling in (considering my clumsiness), but somewhat terrified out of my wits. My friend also made it across OK, but unfortunately did not own nice waterproof boots like myself – and unfortunately had to endure cold, wet feet for the rest of the hike.
As we continued up the hill, the path began to separate from the river, and we climbed higher. The views were now breathtaking – you could literally see for miles.
As we began to near the top, a strong wind picked up, and in true Lake District fashion, the fog rolled in. Unfortunately the nice views that were promised were now invisible, but it was pretty amazing anyway! The wind was becoming so strong that the fog was really moving across through the valley quite quickly.
For a few moments, I had a sensible thought or two “should we really keep going?” But my adventurous (and potentially stupid) alter ego decided that charging on was the only option.
I wish I could have taken some photos from the top, but unfortunately, the wind was too strong. I was struggling to stand straight, and I knew that help was a long way away, so we took the compulsory Snapchat pictures, and began the return down the hill. In reality, the photos would have been pretty dull anyway, I could barely see 20m in front of me.
This was a hike I will never regret, and an absolutely amazing experience. If you are brave enough to lug a heavy DSLR all the way up as well – the shots are amazing and extremely abundant!
For some real practical information, I suggest the official website for Scafell Pike, found here. If I could recommend anything to a person to do in the UK that’s a bit off the foreign tourist’s beaten trail, as yet, I think this one is comfortably at the top of my list.
Stay tuned for my tales of the European whirlwind to come!
Grange-Over-Sands is a Victorian seaside resort town on the sand flats of the River Kent. The river used to run directly past the town’s promenade, but the river has moved further south since the development of the town in the Victorian era.
Grange-Over-Sands is now more of a retiree’s retreat, and life there is pretty slow moving. I don’t really have much I can think of to say about Grange-Over-Sands, so I thought that my pictures could speak words about this gorgeous town.
Unfortunately when I got home and had a look through my photos, I realised I had left auto exposure bracketing on, so I did my best to edit it so it wasn’t noticeable! Do excuse the terrible quality of some of these!