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To read about family-friendly fun near the Sonesta ES Suites Andover Boston, head over to the Sonesta Hotels blog!

My recent travel blogging for Sonesta brought me close to home, just up the road from Boston to Andover, Massachusetts and the Sonesta ES Suites Andover Boston. It turned out to be a beautiful, warm fall weekend, and our friends who live in Andover were home for us to visit.

 

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The first order of business was to check into the hotel, which is an extended stay property conveniently located near 93 and a variety of businesses, but set off from the road making it a quiet place to relax.

There’s a real emphasis on guests feeling at home throughout Sonesta ES Suites, with welcoming areas for meeting and breakfast (which is hot, delicious, and included in your stay!) and suites that offer full kitchens and living rooms. Our one bedroom suite was larger than our last apartment! I loved that we had the ability to cook right in the suite or even just to grab a proper wine glass from the cabinet for a glass of wine.

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The setup of the rooms is perfect for family travel; not only can the kids be put to bed and the adults stay up, but two TVs in our room meant no fighting over the remote.

Since Sonesta ES Suites are often the home-away-from-home for many on business travel, a spacious work area is a welcome addition.

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We were excited to get out and explore Andover, which is  beautiful New England town with plenty of our favorite things, including hiking trails and places to eat.

Our first stop was the campus of Phillips Academy, which, on a perfect blue sky fall day, was very pretty and very classic New England. Right on campus is the cozy and historic Samuel’s, and since it was 5:00, we decided on cocktails and a cheese plate.

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My Old Fashioned was delicious, and a well-stocked cheese plate hit the spot and got us ready for exploring some more. The Addison Gallery was already closed for the day, and we decided to add it to our itinerary for our next visit to Andover.

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We took the daylight time to explore more of the campus and decided on the sanctuary for our hike the next day.

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Since we’re always up for a meal, we headed to the downtown of Andover, which is adorable, and again very New England. We’d heard of Elm Square Oyster Co. from a few people, and never ones to pass up oysters, grabbed bar seats and wine specials while we browsed the menu.

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My Gruener Veltliner was perfectly acidic, great pairing with the Pemaquid oysters we slurped down.  A homemade hot sauce made it all more delicious; I am a hot sauce fiend!

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We added the shrimp tacos and chilled lobster, which came in the most incredible lemony sauce, to our feast. The Gruener and the lemon sauce were heavenly together!

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Elm Square Oyster Co. is a definite must-visit if you are in Andover, and there were several other restaurants in the area I also wanted to try.

Andover, while to many thought of as just a Boston suburb, is a destination in itself, and it was nice to get away without driving forever or dealing with airport lines.

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My stay at the Sonesta ES Suites Andover Boston was hosted; all opinions are my own.

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Tags: Andover, Boston, cocktails, getaway, hotels, New England, oysters, Travel, wine

You can find other posts on our recent trip to Tuscany/Umbria below:

Eating Our Way Through Italy: Part 1

Villa Life: A Week in Umbria

Wine Tasting in Tuscany: Avignonesi Winery

When you think Italy, of course food and wine are top of mind, and we did plenty of eating during our trip.

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It was gloriously hot and sunny every single day, and we opted to eat almost every meal outside. When visiting Cortona after a spectacular wine tasting at Baracchi Winery (more to come on that), we were ravenous and tired and happy to find Baracchi’s Cortona restaurant, Bottega Baracchi, was serving a cold lunch and pizza even late in the afternoon when many places close. We shared cheese and meat plates and more wine from Baracchi on their charming patio, but I of course had to take a peek inside and was glad I did.

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While the patio of Bottega Baracchi is beautiful and overlooks bustling Cortona, the interior of the restaurant is spectacular! It just keeps going, and there’s wine and food and art everywhere. I loved the displays of fresh veggies and this rack of rosé. I’ll take it all, please!

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No meal in Italy is really complete without gelato, and we stopped for a dish or cone every chance we got. A scoop of hazelnut and a scoop of chocolate for me!

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Vecchio Molino in the town we were staying in, Tuoro Sul Trasimeno, was a favorite for a late dinner al fresco, complete with fried zucchini blossom heaven.

I’m well aware of the amount of oil that goes into these, which is part of what makes them so delicious.

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Truffles were a regional staple where we were staying, and these raviolis in cream sauce were covered in fragrant truffle. It was amazing.

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And then of course there was the wedding! The whole reason we all gathered for a week in Italy was for my husband’s sister’s wedding, and we ate all night long.

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Course after course of incredible food came out all night and included indulgences like this Umbrian bread salad topped with lobster and prosciutto and cheese crepes with black truffle.

These were just the appetizers. There was a pasta with shrimp and a gnocchi in a rich montalcino wine sauce, followed by a fliet of beef, and the most decadent, cream topped, Nutella filled wedding cake.

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And then after some dancing, there was pizza!

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Our last night in Italy turned into a massive party at the villa, with all of the guests who weren’t staying there over to swim, and everyone brought food or wine to the table for a delicious meal. We had a professional chef in the group, which was amazing, and with his grilling and other cooking, along with everyone else’s culinary talents, we feasted on salads, grilled burgers and spicy sausage, salads, pasta, and so much more. It was the perfect way to end the trip.

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Tags: cheese, Cortona, gelato, Italy, Travel, travel blog, Tuscany, wine, wine tasting, winery

As I mentioned last month, in addition to my usual social media, PR, and marketing work, I am also doing some travel writing for Sonesta Hotels. You can read past travel posts by following these links:

Sonesta Philadelphia, An Art Hotel in an Art City

A Poolside Event at Sonesta Philly

My most recent travels brought me to beautiful Baltimore to stay at the Royal Sonesta Harbor Court Baltimore, a grand hotel situated right on the Inner Harbor. I hadn’t been to Baltimore in decades, and I am already hoping to plan a trip back. More on that later. . . first let’s take a tour of the hotel!

Royal Sonesta Harbor Court Baltimore

When I walked into my room, my jaw dropped at the stunning harbor views. My king room had the most perfect spaces for lounging and working, and I managed to do both during my stay. I loved the spacious desk area for when I had to take a long conference call, and the window seat was where it was at for catching up on all of my social media work while gazing out at the Baltimore skyline.

My room was comfy and had tons of outlets, including an outlet tree type setup on the night stand, allowing me to not just charge my phone, but my laptop and external batteries to use when I was out sightseeing.

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I can’t decide what I loved more, my daytime or nighttime views!

Baltimore at night

Royal Sonesta Harbor Court Baltimore is only 30 years old, but it maintains a look of elegance from years past. It’s a wedding destination in Baltimore, and this grand staircase is often showcased in wedding photos. It’s easy to see why!

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Staying fit while in Baltimore is easy when staying at the Royal Sonesta, as they not only offer a pool for swimming laps and a fully-equipped gym, but there are also group fitness classes available.

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The fitness center is inviting and well-organized, perfect for kicking off the day or winding down after a day or meetings or getting to know Baltimore.

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If your workout builds up a hunger and thirst, the adventurously decorated Explorers Lounge is the perfect place to grab a cocktail and a bite. Royal Sonesta Harbor Court Baltimore frequently features cocktail demos on their Facebook page; be sure to check them out!

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Of course a little room-service dessert surprise is always nice, and I was treated to this deliciousness during my stay. I was traveling alone, and I ate every bite. Throughout my years of working for and staying at Sonesta Hotels, one common theme is how incredibly good the food always is. There is immense care taken to create food with locally sourced ingredients and to plate it so that it is as beautiful as it is delicious. #Foodisart at Sonesta!

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It seemed every corner of the Royal Sonesta Harbor Court Baltimore offered some sort of beautiful or interesting detail, from its decor and fixtures like this chandelier, to the art exhibit installed for locals and guests to enjoy.

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The current exhibit features art from the Crystal Moll Gallery, and if you are in Baltimore, it is definitely worth a peek.

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More posts on my visit to Baltimore are to come; thank you so much to Royal Sonesta Harbor Court Baltimore for generously hosting me!

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Tags: Baltimore, hotels, Maryland, Travel, travel blog, travel blogging

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