Is premium economy really worth it?

Have you ever sat on a gruelling long haul flight, wedged into economy class like a sardine, and said to yourself about halfway through; I would give anything right now to upgrade my seat. I know I have, and so for this next upcoming sojourn to London I thought I'd be one step ahead of my usual self and organise said upgrade in advance. While this is a business trip, business class felt like a big, indulgent and costly leap. So I looked to the next best thing; Premium Economy. It was going to be three times more expensive than my regular economy seat but it was definitely feasible. So, was premium economy really worth it? Here's my experience.

Flight: Melbourne to Dubai
Carrier: Qantas 
Seat: 24D

Check in
I checked in online so my "check in" process at the airport only called for a bag drop and a print out of my boarding pass. I stood in a long line for 5 minutes at the bag drop area before remembering I had premium economy right of way. Girl ain't got no time for lines! Zoomed straight through and into customs then the departure lounge. Unfortunately the lady at check in forgot to give me my fast track pass to get through customs (part of the perks of premium economy) so there was a long wait here but lesson learnt: ask for it next time.

The lounge
Access to the Qantas lounge is not included for the premium economy flyer. Best to use your Qantas Club access here if you have it. The amount of money I've saved on bored retail splurges alone has made the lounge more than worth it...

Boarding
Admittedly I did feel like a bit of an arse marching past the ridiculously long line of people waiting to board economy. This feeling rapidly dissipated once distracted by the gross lack of line at boarding through premium economy and straight onto the plane. It was well and truly gone when I settled back with a pre-take off bubbles (Katnook Estate Founders Block sparkling white).  

Midnight snack 
Whilst I didn't exactly need to eat a second dinner, I thought it would be rude not to sample our midnight dinner. I hadn't pre-ordered my meal as you can do on premium economy, instead happy to see what I felt like at the time. At this time I felt like meat. Lamb, to be precise. This was pull-apart, no knife required lamb, accompanied by a peppery side salad with balsamic & olive oil vinaigrette from Birch & Waite. I matched my lambert with a Haselgrove Switch GSM (2013) from McLaren Vale although the Wynns Coonawarra Shiraz (2010) may have been a wiser option with lamb. The veggies were a tad on the soggy side, but what can one expect from pre-prepared meal? 

The chocolate mousse salted caramel fudge by Kitchen Food Company was fantastic, even for a savoury fan such as myself. Very light and fluffy and paired exceptionally well with the GSM.

The dining experience
There are the nicer touches like linen table cloths and napkins, silver cutlery and food served in crockery as compared to foil. Then there's the inflight self serve snack bar if you feel like getting up and about. Or just ask for any of the refreshments available throughout your flight. You won't go hungry, and you can eat on your schedule - not theirs. 

As we inched towards Dubai, we had the breakfast regular breakfast choice of hot breaky (scrambled eggs, sausage, grilled tomato, hash brown); or continental - fruit platter with cereal. The eggs were on the powdery side but the tomato and mushrooms made up for it, and the staff had also kindly given me the fruit platter when I couldn't decide between hot or cold breakfast. The passionfruit and pineapple went down a treat.  

The service 
This is what truly blew me away. On long haul flights with Qantas, it's always a bit of pot luck as to how the service is going to be - particularly on the Australian leg. But the service on this flight in premium economy was outstanding (as you'd hope for three times the price). Along with welcoming each guest personally by name, our host, Tony, took extra special care to make sure we were happy. Is my water bottle empty? Why yes it is - a fill up would be great. Can't decide which wine to have with my meal? Sample each! Thank you, kind sir. The service was light, accommodating, the right level of chatty and, most importantly but frequently forgotten, kind. 

In the air
As you're on the upper deck, the "roar" is less for a quieter rest inclusive of sound cancelling head sets. They weren't entirely sound cancelling but they did a pretty good job. With a wider seat, a lower head rest (I'm never tall enough to reach them in economy), an extending footrest, wide centre console (no elbow wars) and a lower recline, it was easier to get a good, solid rest. 

But is it worth the money?
This largely depends on why you're traveling. I had to hit the ground running so wanted to be fresh and alert. I was also only going for two weeks so needed to make the most of my time there. Regardless of this, when it comes to a long haul flight, no one wants to arrive in their destination feeling like they've aged 10 years or suffer the consequential evil jetlag which, I feel, comes from a lack of overall rest and hydration. For me, I felt human, refreshed and ready to tackle the rest of my trip on arrival to Dubai. Premium economy was absolutely worth my investment. 

24 hours in Daylesford

CONGRATULATIONS! You survived silly season and made it through new years. Now it’s time for you to enjoy a well-earned break that’s just for you. No wrapping. No Kris Kringle. No sparkles. Just downtime, eating and drinking, all for you. Bliss.

For a weekend of R&R that’s not too far from Melbourne, Daylesford hits the spot. Just two hours from Melbourne, it’s the perfect distance to get some time out from the city without over committing on distance and time.

And just to make it super easy, we’ve crafted the ultimate relaxation hit-list itinerary so you don’t even need to worry about planning. Just book, drive, arrive - and chill.

Here’s what you can get up to in 24 hours of rejuvenation in Daylesford. Go on – you deserve it.

12noon – Check in

Arrive in Daylesford and check in to the uber chic Frangos & Frangos Boutique Hotel. Remove city slicker clothes and replace with uber comfy, down-time threads. No laptops permitted beyond this point. Jump back in the car and head straight for Hepburn Springs.

12.30pm – Lax and lunch: Hepburn Bathhouse and Spa; the Pavilion Café

 Pavilion Cafe

Pavilion Cafe

Hepburn Bathhouse and Spa has been the calling card for tired shoulders and healing seekers since 1895. The mineral waters of the region have been long renowned for their healing qualities and the Hepburn Bathhouse and Spa provides the ultimate in therapeutic bathing and spa experiences. Choose from communal bathing in The Bathhouse, hydro and steam therapies at The Sanctuary, a more exclusive bathing experience with a Private Mineral Bath, or a spa treatment like a massage, facial, manicure, pedicure and ‘spa ritual’. There’s a huge range of options such as the Indulgent Revival (150 minutes, from $350), Mothers-To-Be (90 minutes, from $229), a Cocoon (60 minutes, from $199) or the Champagne Sugar Polish (60 minutes, from $157). You’re in excellent hands with the highly qualified, trained and experienced team at Hepburn Bathhouse and Spa and you’ll feel the shoulders drop the moment you’re wrapped in a big white fluffy robe.

After all that hard work winding down, appease a well-earned appetite at the Pavilion Café, on the same beautifully inspiring site of the bathhouse and spa. It’s time for indulgence of the culinary variety with Devonshire tea (gluten free scones available), hearty salads, gourmet sandwiches and why not a touch of retox with a cheeky glass of bubbles on the side.

4pm – Naptime: Frangos & Frangos Boutique Hotel

 Image via Frangos & Frangos Facebook

Image via Frangos & Frangos Facebook

What would 24 hours of R&R be without a good afteroon nap at your accommodation? Frangos & Frangos Boutique Hotel is a luxury hotel experience, in the very heart of Daylesford. Dark walls, ornate features and long, heavy drapes offer an air of opulent European style. Rooms are decorated with classic chaise lounges, ornate ceilings, plush cushions and large pillows, all contributing to a cosy stay of kitsch elegance. Large private bathrooms feature huge free-standing baths, separate showers and gorgeous toiletries. A well catered mini bar houses all the good stuff – Veuve Clicquot, Peroni, local craft beer, orange juice, and soda. The Hotel Manager at Frangos & Frangos, Bernard Glaude, makes for an excellent host and great conversationalist, who’s happy to help with whatever you need for a comfortable stay. After your nap, wake up slowly in the lounge room downstairs before getting ready for a pre-dinner drink at on-site bar, Jimmies. Life is super tough right now, but you just gotta keep going. Good food awaits.

7pm – Wine & Dine at The Grande Hotel

The Grande Hotel is 2km from Daylesford in Hepburn Springs overlooking the forest for dinner, drinks and accommodation. This country federation style venue comprises a grand old dining room, cosy lounge bar, open fires, 11 hotel rooms, wrap around verandah and sublime food from regionally renowned hatted chef, Andrew Dennis. The focus at Grande Hotel is on seasonal and sustainable local produce with an emphasis on the best the region has to offer. Dinner is available Friday, Saturday and Monday nights from 6pm with weekend breakfast and lunch now on the agenda. We highly recommend scrumptious dishes like grilled Hervey Bay scallops with spiced pea puree and crisp Istra pancetta (cooked to perfection), and slow cooked duck with Moorish rice pilav and rose water yoghurt. Afterwards, enjoy a digestif in the lounge bar and take in the history that surrounds you before heading home via local taxi back to Daylesford.

9am – Breakfast at Koukla Café

Rise and shine to a new day and yummy breakfast. Adjoined with Frangos & Frangos Hotel, Koukla Café dishes up a highly reliable breakfast with a casual bohemian café vibe. Grab an award winning coffee from an award winning barista in this licensed and character-filled space. Options like the Breakfast Tortilla (with scrambled eggs, beans, salsa, guacamole), $17.90, will keep you charged for the day and more than keen to head back for a delicious lunch and woodfired pizza later in the day as well. Two thumbs up for this friendly, sunny, cosy spot with great gluten free pizza in Daylesford.    

10.30am – More lax time at Daylesford Day Spa

daylesford day spa 3.PNG

Your 24 hours is drawing to a close but there’s still time for one more spa! A mere stroll from Frangos & Frangos is the Daylesford Day Spa set in a beautiful two storey heritage building. Be looked after from top to toe with exquisite treatments from specialist, highly trained and down-to-earth staff. Jurliques Facials, Relaxation and Deep Tissue Massage, Aromatherapy Spas, Rose Milk Baths, Body Treatments and the amazing Le Stone Therapy all designed to support you with the art of relaxation. And that they do. You’ll leave Daylesford Day Spa feeling rejuvenated, relaxed and recharged, leaving behind any stresses you might still be holding onto, getting you ready to tackle the buzzing city life again.

12noon – city bound

You are now fully restored and it’s time to head back to the big smoke. Before you do, take a wander through the town for some shopping at the gorgeous home stores and fashion boutiques that line Vincent Street. You’re guaranteed to find something you’ll love to take home with you and remind you of your blissful 24 hours in Daylesford; you’ll be more than glad you decided to treat yourself.  

YOUR ITINERARY HIT-LIST:

·         Frangos & Frangos Hotel

·         Hepburn Bathhouse and Spa

·         Pavilion Café

·         The Grande Hotel

·         Koukla Cafe

·         Daylesford Day Spa

We’d like to extend a very warm thank you to our illustrious hosts involved with the making of this post to share delightful Daylesford with you. Special thanks to Annie and Harriet at Mango and also the Daylesford and Macedon Ranges Tourism Board (explore the region with their new app, below).

LOVE | LOATHE: Sofitel Brisbane

The bitesize review, just for you.   

Sofitel Hotel Brisbane

Turbot St, Brisbane CBD

LOVE: A strong French influence; plush refurbished rooms; a bed that feels like you're sleeping on pillows; views of Brisbane from onsite restaurant, Times Square; complimentary nibbles from Cuvee bar at 5; an impressive lobby; Vidal Sassoon hair dryers. 

LOATHE: "Bonjour", in a heavy Australian accent. Shudder. 

#KingValleyLove - Whitfield Healing and Beauty


Yesterday was day two of the Shoot, Tweet and Eat King Valley tour and I gotta say, life in the valley is tough.  When you come to the King Valley, it’s not just about good food, good wine and good people; it’s also a chance to recharge and revive to help you get grounded again, letting the shoulders drop a little and slowing down before you have to race off back to the city.

After lunch and many, many varieties of beautiful vino at Pizzini Wines, our group had the chance to partake in either some “cowtography” with assistance from our esteemed photo-tutor Ewen Bell – OR to sample the offerings at Whitfield Healing and Beauty.  Both equally attractive options but with a stupidly painful neck and some pretty persistent insomnia of late, I opted for a full body massage over an afternoon of bovine bonding. 

Cows are awesome, but sometimes you just gotta give back to your bod with bit of a helping hand.  Or rather the helping hand (or hands) of Carla Pizzini who was my massage therapist for the afternoon.  Carla is also a naturotherapist so she offers massage with a broader alternative therapy perspective.  While I wrestled with consciousness under the skilful hands of Carla, I learnt a thing or two about what I can do differently health wise to help with sleep and general stress management.
We are told that lemon in hot water is good for us to detoxify and alkalise the bod plus improve the absorption of H2O – so I regularly down this throughout the day when I’m working.  This aids the detoxification of the liver as well as the gall bladder.  Little did I know, however, the gall bladder is linked to how active one’s mind can be – so drinking lemon water throughout the day can actually affect our ability to let the mind rest towards the end of the day and the evening.  Enter: increased likelihood of insomnia.  Instead, Carla suggested drinking camomile tea during the day.  Done. 
In addition to this, Carla warned against the type of remedial massages I’ve been getting for what has been a serious pain in the neck.  If you’re a person who’s naturally a stressed type and constantly on the go you may find a stronger type of massage only further stresses your body.  You might be better off getting a relaxing massage from a therapist trained in multiple facets of health care such as Carla Pizzini.  I certainly feel a lot less pain after my massage than I did last week after a firmer massage. 

 
As well as the massages, you can go to Whitfield Healing and Beauty for beauty treatments from Leigh, naturotherpay from Carla, plus bowen, allergy testing and bush flower essences from Jo.  It’s a relaxing, natural and down to earth place which reflects the personality of Whitfield itself.  Get anything from a foot detox to a mud wrap, spray tan or rejuvenation facial to treat yourself from tip to toe.  That means all you need to do is relax and drink more presecco.  Like I said, life in the valley is tough.

Whitfield Healing and Beauty
03 5729 82354905
Wangaratta Whitfiled Road, Whitfield, Victoria 3733
Yours, Little Miss Melbourne xoxo

#KingValleyLove in regional Victoria

Over the course of several days a group of tweeps and bloggers grouped up to bring you the ultimate snap shot of the north-east region of Victoria, the King Valley. 

We discovered some of the valley's best places to eat, drink and be merry plus some beautiful accommodation and a bit of pampering along the way.  Here’s a quick lil preview from day one and an introduction to the 2013 King Valley Shoot, Tweet and Eat tour.  You'll soon see more reviews coming up from some of Melbourne's popular food bloggers. 

Look for the hashtag #kingvalleylove on all the likely social media channels and contemplate the King Valley for your next country getaway…

Don't get envy. Get even. Visit the King Valley. 




Incredible thanks to our generous hosts:
·         Dal Zotto Wines
·         Pizzini Wines
·         Brown Brothers Winery
·         King River Estate Winery
·         Gracebrook Wines
·         Mountain View Hotel
·         Politini Wines
·         Whitfield Healing & Beauty
·         King Valley Premium Beef
·         Number 1 Bakery Lane
·         Jessie’s Creek Cottage
·         Visit Wangaratta

And a brilliant job from our organiser, Melissa Brauer of Squawk Media, and our photographer Ewen Bell.

Yours, 
Little Miss Melbourne xoxo

Rediscover you in Port Douglas

When do you know enough is enough and it's actually time to take a break?

Usually it's when you keep telling everyone you need a holiday...If you're looking for somewhere warm to get away and get back to you, Port Douglas could be just the place. Here's what I found. 

A 6am flight and an hour's transfer from Cairns later, and I'd arrived. With only two hours' sleep under my belt, I felt like I had jetlag. Yech. It was during check in at Peppers Resort that it hit; mild panic and unfounded city-separation anxiety. 

As I fumbled over my totally irrational thoughts, I looked across to the gorgeous, sparkling pool, and the colourful cocktails en-route to pool side attendees, and quickly came to my senses. I had four nights here in these lush surroundings and I was determined to make the most of it. And by the most, I mean very little. 

In Port Douglas it's easy to do very little while feeling as though you're still doing something. Win win. Like walking four mile beach for the entire morning, taking a dip in the flat water, then soaking up some rays and chatting with relaxed strangers into the afternoon. Or meandering through the busy Sunday markets while you learn about the health benefits of Himalayan salt, consult with a naturopathic or simply munch away on a freshly cut coconut with salad. The town of Port Douglas makes for good exploring of the local retail scene such as home decor inspo at Port Douglas Interiors, beautiful gifts from Pebble Australia and incredible indigenous art at Ngarru Gallery. After all of that, you deserve a cocktail by the pool.

What's a good get away without some good tucker? Port Douglas caters for a range of budgets and tastes from hearty pub grub at Rattle n Hum to cocktails and seafood at Salsas Bar and Grill or fine dining at Nautilus Restaurant. With many more to choose from, there's no risk of you going hungry.

Time for a break? Port Douglas helps you rediscover yourself and your zen. Direct flights available from Melbourne. 

 cocktails poolside at Pepperts

cocktails poolside at Pepperts

 Ribs at Rattle n Hum

Ribs at Rattle n Hum

 40 mile beach 

40 mile beach 

 Tuna Tataki at Salsas

Tuna Tataki at Salsas

 Gluten free BLT at Beach Cafe

Gluten free BLT at Beach Cafe

 Rest time at Peppers

Rest time at Peppers


LOVE in le Marais


In the last five days, we have crossed the Seine to our 2nd apartment on the right bank, walked countless blocks of le Marais, battled the snow, rain and the metro in peak hour, done a reasonable amount of shopping, and even gone to church (the amazing Notre Dame).  

The second apartment is in the Marais which I've stayed in before, so I'm feeling slightly less of a tourist and more like a...temporary visitor.  Not much of a promotion but it is fabulous to be back and see some of my local faves like Rose Bakery, Breakfast in America, la Belle Hortense (books and wine - bliss!) and "that Jazz Club in a cellar/cave on Rue de Rivoli" (I'll have to update you with the name after we return...).

Our first full day in the Marais was bitterly cold but we layered up and braved the Parisian winter, refusing to stay inside (can't keep a couple of good girls down).  We followed our red little noses to became reacquainted with the area and found Pompidou with ease as a starting point.  The uniquely designed centre houses Musee National d'Art Moderne (the national museum of modern art), among other things, including a public library and music centre.  It's a popular joint so the queues were already huge at mid morning albeit it being freezing cold outside.  We opted to keep moving for warmth's sake.
Queues at the Centre Pompidou.

The Marais is full of cute little boutiques, cool gift shops and lots of funky urban art.  And, love.  After lunch at the gorgeously organic and highly popular Rose Bakery (my blog post from last year), everywhere I seemed to look had a little token of love.  Maybe it was my sheer delight at being back in one of my favourite parts of Paris (let's not forget Sacre Coeur) but I was more than happy to be feeling the love instead of the cold.

So here's a little snap shot for you of some of the trinkets, art and urban life of love in le Marais.

Yours, LMM xoxo


Love, the Louvre and Paris - gift cards at the very quirky L.APPARENTMENT Design Gift Store, near Centre Pompidou.

Urban art near the Jewish quarter of le Marais (which incidentally also has it's very own dancing Jewish chefs...).

My favourite pic of the day, and possibly a piece by french graffiti artist Invader.

Lip locked: The playground and urban art next to Centre Pompidou.

Urban playground with some huge graffiti art near Pompidou

Last stop of the day before heading home to defrost: Trinkets of love at Miss Cupcake on Rue du Roi de Sicile - this is THE place to go for amazingly sweet, thick hot chocolate to warm you up and give you a strong sugar hit, especially if you get one of their yummy looking cupcakes...

image: http://www.misscupcake.fr/

image: http://www.misscupcake.fr/