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    The Mad Hatter Bar, Oxford

    I love anything and everything with a bit of quirkiness to it.

    Therefore, whilst searching for somewhere a little bit different to celebrate my birthday, I remembered hearing about a place, which takes you ‘down the rabbit hole’ and into an eccentric bar, where not drinking out of a teacup, tankard or jar sets you apart from the rest.

    The Mad Hatter, Oxford - Cocktail - My Culture Craving

    The Mad Hatter on Iffley Road, Oxford is the epitome of quirk.

    On arrival, we were greeted by a mysterious front door coated in ‘grass’, a golden mirror and a black and white ‘path’ leading towards a miniature door. Unfortunately, there was no potion to shrink us down small enough to squeeze through the door, so instead, we pushed on the grass-covered intercom and awaited instruction on how to enter.

    The intercom came alive and we were asked a riddle to gain access – ‘what is white, black and Asian?’ (write your answers in the comment box below if you know it). Luckily for me (I’m awful at riddles), I had a clever bunch of friends with me and before we knew it, we were lounging on a regal chaise lounge with a teacup of bubbles in hand.

    The Mad Hatter, Oxford - Cocktail Bar - My Culture Craving

    Boasting a crimson red and gold dabbled colour scheme, huge, rustic chests, which were used as tables and a bar stocked to the brim with unique tipples and cocktail concoctions, The Mad Hatter cleverly captures the weird and wonderful illusion, which is so prominent in Alice and Wonderland yet, in bar form.

    As there were more than ten of us, we had to choose a chapter from their ‘tea party packages’ prior to our arrival. The Mad Hatter himself, kindly emailed me over the menu, which included themed names such as, ‘Down the Rabbit Hole, ‘Advice from a Caterpillar’ and ‘Who Stole the Tarts’.

    The Mad Hatter, Oxford - Cocktail Menu - My Culture Craving

    Most of these packages included a mixture of prosecco and/or champagne, giant cocktail teacups as well as, shots and ranged from £150 for ten guests to a whopping £500 for thirty guests (although split between everyone, this isn’t toooo extortionate and is perfect for a special occasion).

    We ended our evening at The Mad Hatter in true style – shooting tequila at the bar whilst donning some fabulous sombreros.

    The Mad Hatter is wacky, extravagant and like no other and I would highly recommend it to anyone who loves a dose of eccentricity before or on a night out.

    Have you ever been to The Mad Hatter in Oxford? Let me know what you thought by commenting, Facebooking or Tweeting me :)!

    French Toast and Bottomless Bellinis at B&H, London

    After a fabulously flamboyant morning of watching the Gay Pride Parade march through Oxford Street, London in all its extravagant glory, we headed for, what I have come to coin, ‘linner’ (lunch/dinner).

    Brunch at Bourne and Hollingsworth, London - My Culture Craving
    I had been enticed by Bourne and Hollingsworth’s brunch, after reading about it’s cute decor and bottomless belinnis on The Londoner. After gawping at photos of its airy greenhouse-esque dining area, wacky mish mash of ornate chairs, an abundance of hanging baskets overflowing with exotic foliage and shabby chic garden furnishings, I was on their website booking my Mum, Sister and I a table…

    Brunch at Bourne and Hollingsworth, London - Outside - My Culture Craving

    Brunch at Bourne and Hollingsworth, London - Inside - My Culture Craving

    Once we’d weaved our way through the maze, which is Farringdon (in reality, our navigational skills were just horrendous),  we arrived at B & H Buildings, ravenous and raring to eat.

    We were lead through to a light fresh room, dotted with lashings of tropical colour. The clinical white walls were broken up with vibrant green ivy, copious amounts of rustic hanging baskets, which were sprouting colourful vegetation and eccentric floral patterned, squishy armchairs.

    Brunch at Bourne and Hollingsworth, London - Fan - My Culture Craving

    Brunch at Bourne and Hollingsworth, London - Palm Tree Chair - My Culture Craving

    Unfortunately, we weren’t sat in the greenhouse however, we did have a great, leafy view of it…

    Brunch at Bourne and Hollingsworth, London - Chair - My Culture Craving

    After ordering an obligatory round of their bottomless bellinis, we were ready to get down to business.

    From French toast and drop scones to crispy potato hash and good ol’ full English breakfast, B&H offer up a fab selection of tempting brunch delights.

    Fancying something rather sweet and stodgy, I went for a sinfully indulgent combo of french toast, streaky bacon and maple syrup (there is a very thick piece of French toast under there… I promise!!)

    Brunch at Bourne and Hollingsworth, London - Brunch - My Culture Craving

    Brunch at Bourne and Hollingsworth, London - French Toast - My Culture Craving

    My Mum went for the more traditional eggs Florentine…

    Brunch at Bourne and Hollingsworth, London - Eggs Florentine - My Culture Craving

    Whilst my sister opted for the not so traditional, crispy potato hash topped with braised beef, HP Hollandaise and crispy shallots…
    Brunch at Bourne and Hollingsworth, London - Food - My Culture Craving
    Due to the restaurant being so popular, we were only able to get a table right at the end of service (at 3.45pm) so ensure you book well in advance to secure a table at a time, which best suits you.

    Picnics, Punting and Plays in Oxford

    Oxford is renowned for its ancient beauty. However, when the sun begins to shine, the flowers start to blossom and the tourists frolic to the riverside by the bucket-load, the city acquires an even more majestic glow than usual.

    With a treasure trove of exciting sites and activities out there to be uncovered, what are you waiting for? Grab your sandals, a picnic and, of course, a bottle of Pimms and check out my must see sights in Oxford this summer:

    Picnics, Punting and Plays in Oxford this Summer - Botanic Gardens - My Culture Craving

    Explore the Botanic Gardens

    The Botanic Gardens in Oxford display the most diverse range of plants in the world. Thus, this idyllic patch of vibrant flower beds, lily ponds, woodlands, orchards and glasshouses are a must-mooch whilst in Oxford.

    Picnics, Punting and Plays in Oxford this Summer - My Culture Craving

    Go punting

    Punting is iconic to Oxford. Therefore, jumping in one of these rustic, wooden boats this summer, is a no-brainer. Pack yourself a picnic, a bottle of prosecco and (if you can) a muscly man who is willing to do the punting, and you’re on to a winner of an afternoon…

    Picnics, Punting and Plays in Oxford this Summer - University - My Culture Craving

    Wander around the University’s grounds

    As expected, the Oxford University grounds are simply stunning. Whether you are wandering around its impressive colleges and libraries or its picturesque gardens and parks, the University will transport you to, what feels like, a scene in Harry Potter.

    Picnics, Punting and Plays in Oxford this Summer - Covered Market - My Culture Craving

    Uncover the Covered Market

    Selling everything from flowers, leather and souvenirs to cookies, milkshakes and pies, Oxford’s Covered Market has plenty of shops and eateries to keep you occupied.

    Make sure you check out Moo-Moo’s milkshake bar. Imagine your favourite chocolate bars, all blended into a milkshake… heaven.

    Picnics, Punting and Plays in Oxford this Summer - Varsity Bar - My Culture Craving

    Quench your thirst with a cocktail at Varsity’s rooftop bar

    Lychee and chilli sling. That is all…

    Picnics, Punting and Plays in Oxford this Summer - Outdoor Play - My Culture Craving

    Watch an open-air play

    Join companies such as, the Oxford Shakespeare Company and Creation Theatre this summer, as they perform classic plays in relaxing, scenic surroundings.

    Picnics, Punting and Plays in Oxford this Summer - Bikes - My Culture Craving

    Rent a bike

    Feel like a local for the day. Rent a bike and see how many of these must-see sites you can tick off.

    Picnics, Punting and Plays in Oxford this Summer - Outdoor Cinema - My Culture Craving

    Watch a film under the stars

    You don’t have to go as far as London to watch a film under the stars… thanks to Cult Screens, you can now watch your favourite films at different, quirky outdoor locations across the city. From the Castle to the Pitt Rivers museum, pull up a beanbag, slump back with a cool, crisp beer and enjoy…

    Have you ever been to Oxford during the summer? What would you add to this list of great things to see and do in the city?? Please comment, Facebook or Tweet me to let me know :)!

    5 Reasons Why Croatia is THE Place to be this Summer

    Last summer, after tantalizing my travelling taste buds during a week-long trip to the Croatian island of Hvar,  I was left yearning for another slice of Croatia’s emerald waters, kaleidoscopic sunsets, awesome nightlife, rustic architecture and panoramic scenery.

    With flights and accommodation costing from as little as £200 and scenery and sites to die for (need I say anymore…), here are my 5 top reasons why Croatia is the place to be this summer:

    Hvar, Croatia - Scenery - My Culture Craving

    The Scenery and Beaches

    From the pristine, bleached stone buildings with vibrant terracotta roofs to the spell binding, turquoise waters, which are enveloped in rocky alcoves, plush pebble beaches, leafy mountain ranges and fabulous, vibrant lavender fields, Croatia’s scenery is bound to leave any traveller, a little breathless.

    With the beaches being pebbled (wooopieee no sand), you can set up camp on one of the many radiant beach-fronts or, stretch out on your own secluded patch of rock. Just be sure to watch out for any luxury yachts, which may swoop past and cause a mini tidal wave.

    We learnt the hard way… RIP flip flops.

    Hvar, Croatia - Festivals - My Culture Craving

    The Festivals

    Croatia is rapidly becoming an avid festival-goers haven.

    With well-known festivals such as, Hideout, Outlook and Croatia Rocks (new for this summer), gracing the country’s exquisite coastlines, it is no surprise that tourists are flooding in the masses to get their piece of festival fun in the Croatian sun.

    Hvar, Croatia - History - My Culture Craving

    History

    Croatia is seeped in an outstanding history and as a result, flaunts some incredible, must-see sights.

    From its awe-inspiring National Parks, monasteries and museums to its majestic forts, palaces and cathedrals, Croatia is peppered in numerous fascinating  landmarks, which should definitely not to be overlooked because of the country’s enticing nightlife…

    Hvar, Croatia - Nightlife - My Culture Craving

    The Nightlife

    Combining the pumping party atmosphere of Ibiza with the boozy backpacker vibe of Thailand, Croatia’s party islands have nailed affordable fun, in a beautiful and clean environment.

    With everything from backpacker bars squished down rickety side streets to swanky, open-air clubs located on their own luxurious islands, Croatia conveniently accommodates people living the high life as well as, us not so lucky, budget travellers.

    Check out The Student Travels guide to the best bars and clubs in Hvar, here.

    Hvar, Croatia - My Culture Craving

    The Islands

    You don’t have to go all the way to Thailand to enjoy a spot of island hopping.

    Croatia is sprinkled with over one thousand picture-perfect islands. From the party islands of Hvar and Pag to the quaint historic regions of Brac and Vis, Croatia offers up a diverse range of equally stunning islands to suit any traveller/holidaymaker/sailor.

    With its hypnotising, crystal clear waters, imposing rocky alcoves, mesmerising caves and nightlife second-to-none, it is no surprise that Croatia has become a prime location for individuals to travel to from all over the world.

    So, jump aboard and soak up the paradise of the Dalmatian Coast!

    Have you ever been to Croatia? If you have, where was your favourite island/sight/club? Please comment, Facebook or Tweet me to let me know :)!

    My Top Travel Destinations of 2014

    For me, 2014 has been a year of change. I have graduated from University, moved back home, found a job at a magazine, started this blog and, I’ve even been lucky enough to visit some incredible destinations and have a hell of a lot of fun along the way!!

    It has been hard to choose my favourite countries/cities of the year however, I have managed to whittle them down.

    So, without further ado and in no particular order, here are my top four travel destinations of 2014. Plus, the destination I have voted as my number one country/city of the year:

    Kerala, India - My Culture Craving

    Kerala, India

    I started the year of 2014 indulging in a luxurious Indian banquet, drinking a lot of wine (it would have been rude not to take advantage of the free bar) and dancing the night away thinking I looked like the main star in a Bollywood movie- all in a 5* hotel in Agra… it doesn’t get much better than that, does it?

    However, my great discovery of India this time around (this was my second chance to travel around this unbelievable country) was Kerala in the South of India.

    On my last trip I travelled Rajasthan extensively however, the sandy beaches, endearing house boats and tranquil backwaters of Kerala remained a mystery. Therefore, I assigned the last week of my most recent trip to relaxing, becoming a beach bum and soaking up the calming side of this hectic country in Cochin.

    Kerala is exotic, picturesque and a lot more peaceful than Rajasthan however, it also has a lot of things to see and do! Check out my post on things to get up to off the beaten track in Cochin, Kerala here.

    A week was no where near long enough in this easygoing state (I think a month would even be pushing it) therefore, I will definitely be going back during gap year #2!!

    Canterbury, UK - My Culture Craving

    Canterbury, England

    Despite having to wave goodbye to my life as a student in Kent this July, Canterbury will always be my home away from home.

    If you are a student in Kent or just happen to be in the area, make sure you take time to check out Canterbury’s cute, cobbled side streets, charming cafes and outstanding Cathedral.

    I still rush back here at every chance I get. Find a few posts I have written about good ol’ Canters here, here, here, here and here (you can take the student out of Uni, but you can’t take the student out of the girl… does that even make sense??..)

    Favourite Moments of Travel - Ibiza - My Culture Craving

    Ibiza, Spain

    After years of testing the water on the notorious party islands of Malia and Ayia Napa, my girlfriends and I decided that this year, we were ready… we were ready to experience the party capital of the world, IBIZAAAA!!

    Beautiful beaches, huge performances, 24/7 partying and quality time with the gals… it was everything I had always imagined it to be.

    Although we were on a standard 18-30s holiday, it surprised me at how classy and beautiful the different areas of the island were. I would love to go back and experience the luxurious side of this eccentric island… maybe when my budget isn’t so tight!

    Discovering Montreux, Switzerland - Market - My Culture Craving

    Montreux, Switzerland

    As you may already know from my last couple of posts, I discovered the picturesque municipality of Montreux, Switzerland a couple of weekends ago.

    With its magnificent mountains, unique, wooden houses and mounds of cheese and fondue, Montreux was the perfect place to get a real taste of Switzerland.

    I had a great day unearthing a side to Switzerland I had never seen before and can’t wait to adventure further into the Swiss countryside at a later date!

    And number 1 is… drum roll please…

    Hvar, Croatia - History - My Culture Craving

    Hvar, Croatia

    I went to Hvar in Croatia for an end of University blow out with my Uni gals… and boy did it deliver!!

    Known for its crystal clear waters, pebbled beaches, marble-esque buildings, backpacker nightlife and luxurious yachts, we knew that Hvar was going to offer us both culture and crazy, drunken fun, all on one island.

    When we first arrived I was taken aback by the immaculate beauty of the island as well as the steep prices. However, we soon found that excessive pre-drinking (not that I’m condoning binge drinking in any way…) and befriending their more… wealthy visitors, played in our budgets favour!

    This island is stunning by day, soooo so much fun by night and has still not been ruined by us binge-drinking Brits. So get there while you can… it is my favourite destination of 2014.

    What have been your favourite destinations of 2014? Please comment, Tweet or Facebook me to let me know :)! 

    Discovering Montreux

    As you may already know from my social media feeds and my last post, this weekend, I popped over to Geneva to celebrate my best friend’s birthday with her.

    However, I have decided to dedicate this post to another gem I found in Switzerland (sorry Fi)… Montreux.

    Sunken into a valley at the foot of the Alps and renowned for its famous jazz festival, iconic Freddie Mercury statue and festive Christmas market, this idyllic town is a must visit whilst in Switzerland!

    Surrounded by the Lake Geneva, Montreux boasts some incredible scenery.

    With its traditional Swiss houses, richly decorated in woodwork and nestled in the mountains, picturesque snow-capped Alps, disguised by fluffy clouds and the BEST Christmas market I have ever been to (sorry Champs-Elysees but this Christmas market had Santa Claus in a sleigh…with reindeer… IN THE AIR), Montreux is exactly how I had always imagined Switzerland to look like.

    Discovering Montreux, Switzerland - Santa - My Culture Craving

    Discovering Montreux, Switzerland - Lake - My Culture Craving

    Around the Christmas period, the streets of Montreux come alive with the soft sound of Christmas songs, the smell of melted cheese and spiced mulled wine and the sparkle of Christmas lights and decorations.

    Decked in line upon line of cute, wooden chalets selling everything from scrumptious mulled wine (in the cutest cups), yummy raclette, fondue and burgers (these being the most important of chalets) to unique Christmas trinkets, indulgent chocolate, twinkly fairy lights and roasted chestnuts (roasted by hunky men covered in soot in hard hats…), there is a hut to suit any passing traveller… there is even a bubbles bar (to my disappointment, it wasn’t of the fairy liquid variety however, I very much enjoyed the champs).

    Discovering Montreux, Switzerland - Christmas Market - My Culture Craving

    Aside from the shops, there was also a brass band singing and dancing up and down the market dressed as elves, cosy fire pits placed in several of the wooden chalets (a slight fire risk, but atmospheric nevertheless), restaurants, fairground rides, bars, various, shimmering Christmas lights and, there was even a glitzy, gold carpet, winding throughout the market.

    Discovering Montreux, Switzerland - Elfs - My Culture Craving

    Discovering Montreux, Switzerland - Fire Pit - My Culture Craving

    After a long hard day of drinking mulled wine and rum tea, whilst bopping around the numerous festive huts, we ended the evening in the most perfect way I could ever imagine… WITH A CHEESE FONDUE (if you haven’t already figured it out, I am a huge cheese lover).

    Served up in an adorable wooden chalet, adorned in Christmas decorations, sleighs and fur, it was Switzerland all over… we stuffed our faces until our fondue forks were scraping the bottom of the pan and our top buttons were undone.

    It was heaven.

    Discovering Montreux, Switzerland - Fondue - My Culture Craving

    HELPFUL INFO:

    – Depending on what method of transport you use to get there, Montreux is approximately an hour away from Geneva. The train takes just over an hour, costs around £20 each way and leaves on a regular basis from Geneva train station.

    – Although Switzerland is renowned for its extortionate price tags, Montreux wasn’t horrendously priced. A glass of mulled wine cost approximately £3.50 and depending on where you went, a fondue to share was around £10-15pp.

    – The Christmas Market is open from 24th November – 24th December, Monday – Thursday: 11am-8pm, Friday: 11am-10pm, Saturday: 10am-10pm and Sunday: 10am-8pm.

    Bonjour Geneva!!

    The surprise is out!!!

    After a week of being sworn to secrecy by my best friend’s boyfriend (who I have to thank for booking me an impromptu flight so I could be here to celebrate my friend’s birthday with her *you are the best boyfriend EVER*) I have just touched down in the beautiful Swiss city of Geneva!!!

    I am here for a grand total of 24 hours, and intend to make the most of every single minute of it (sleep is unlikely).

    Christmas markets, fondue, mulled wine, more wine, cocktails, sightseeing and of course, some exciting blogging opportunities!

    Stay tuned!

    I hope you all have a fab weekend… I know I will :)!