Lydhurst Cottages: Sustainable Retreats without boarding a plane

The last long-bank holiday past I was determined to make something of the 3 days of expected blistering sun. Let’s face it, when the sun hits the UK it brings out a different side of people and makes everyone friendlier and way more approachable. No longer able to safely board a flight, I set about looking for country retreats with a focus on the natural and sustainable. Why should boarding a plane always equate a holiday? Even when you approach it from the sustainable side of the conversation, driving a few hours outside of London and setting up camp for equal doses of heat and tranquillity is a hugely reduced carbon footprint compared to that of boarding a plane (even if for a short flight). Especially if you are covering countryside miles in a TESLA.

Take our destination of West Sussex for example, where you still get the perks of endless miles of coastline, picture perfect treks and popular beach locations – Bracklesham Bay looks out onto the Isle of Wight and the English Channel – but with less time spent travelling for a 3 days or so our bank holidays usually afford us. I am not against the idea of flying away for bank holidays, but I wish more people would look closer to home because this was a truly magical experience for all of us. Armed with books, games, a car full of friends, food and trekking gear, we made the short drive of 1.5 hours to Warninglid and set up camp in The Farmhouse at Lydhurst.

Read more…

The Medieval Fairy-Tale Town in Belgium: Feel the Spirit of Brugge

A perfect destination for celebrating the New Year’s Eve, Christmas, or this holiday spirit in general, Bruges (or Brugge in Dutch) is a small town in Belgium where time has stopped for good. Cascading colorful houses, peaceful canals, greenery in abundance, and of course, ample beer, chocolate and famous Belgian waffles, among other things will make you weak in the knees as soon as you catch a glimpse of this vivid city and its diverse tastes.

Bruges seems to be a town made to tease your palate, pamper you with a lush stay in a boutique hotel that gives you an even more profound feeling of time coming to a full stop, and treat you to a voyage into the past with its numerous museums, galleries, horse-drawn carriages and streets cobbled to perfection. But don’t be fooled – this little town is well-versed in all things modern and advanced, as well! Read more…

Give Your Fashionista Soul a Gift – A Luxurious Travel Experience in Southern Greece

Time-trodden and soaked in sun, Greece is a Mediterranean Eden that has become a holiday hotspot for lovers of fine wine, culinary wonders, and sandy beaches as far as the eye can see. A less-known fact, however, is that this ancient country is home to some of the most opulent experiences in the world, and yet it still manages to remain on the wallet-friendly side without jeopardizing any of its rustic, untamed charm.

Among a plethora of its resorts and famous coastal towns, there are a handful of spots that remain unspoiled by crowds, especially during the late days of spring, and early summer. One such place is in the South of the Peloponnese peninsula, the region called Laconia, where a little piece of land is detached from the main coast, and is known by the name of Monemvasia. What may be considered one of Greece’s best-kept secrets, this jewel of a town is a slice of heaven for those who seek to relax and enjoy life to the fullest, the only way Greeks know how!

Fairy-tale-worthy accommodation

Perched atop the hills with a commanding view of Monemvasia, Kinsterna Hotel remains in its essence a castle, a remnant of the Byzantine era, and perfectly restored to meet the needs of the modern traveler, with an extra pinch of luxury. In the embrace of dreamy vineyards, olive and orange groves, as well as the Mediterranean Sea, the mansion strives for immaculate self-sustainability in every aspect of its existence. They boast their own herb and vegetable garden, which makes their every meal in their all-day restaurant a feast for the senses – if you’re ever there, do try the Greek breakfast, it’s to die for.

Read more…

Oakley Court Windsor

I recently had the honour of staying at Oakley Court, a historic country house which overlooks the River Thames and sprawls over a 30 acre ground. The exterior presents a Gothic façade and endless sprawling gardens, with the garden’s centre-piece fountain and the surrounding rejuvenated orchards delivering unforgettable wow-factors. The 4-star residence hosts an award-winning restaurant, tennis courts, croquet lawn, and an indoor pool with stunning rover-bank views of the Thames. If you decide to wander outside the luxurious grounds, a brisk 10 minute walk will lead you to Windsor City Centre or Windsor Castle, or go a little further for Ascot and Thorpe Park, but you will always love returning to this gorgeous estate as your base. As expected with an estate dating back to 1859 and built as a home by Sir Richard Hall-Say, High Sheriff of Berkshire, the decor is unyieldingly traditional. Still, it offers a few surprising splashes of modern decor – notably the three riverside boardrooms – or slightly offbeat artwork, particularly the driftwood sculptures by James Doran-Webb.

During our stay, a favourite experience – second to soaking up the view – was the food. The menu is led by Head Chef Damian Broom whose second year saw the 2AA rosette award winning restaurant, The Dining Room, rewarded with two distinctions: Berkshire and Buckinghamshire Life Restaurant of the Year and Chef of the Year for 2015. The dinner was fresh and delicious, prepared from scratch like all the meals served up in The Dining Room. In part, the richness of the dishes can be traced back to the kitchen gardens which provide seasonal, high quality and local organic produce. Read more…

Seed To Table Living & Eating At Can Lluc

Surrounded by venerable walls and found in the heart of the island of Ibiza, boutique hotel Can Lluc is a product of the blood, sweat and tears of Tina Soriano and Lucas Prats. The main house was built by Lucas’s grandfather and acted as the family home for generations until the ambitious married couple undertook a transformation project with the space, successfully paying respectful homage to traditional Ibicenco architecture and heritage. Rustic stone walls, wooden ceilings and beautifully restored déco bring the once-ancient property to a chic modern space with rooms ready to catch weary or energised travellers. Whatever pace you bring to Can Lluc, rest assure it will be matched with ease.

The surrounding ecology is stunning – dense pine forests, carob, fig, fruit and olive trees complimented by a plantation of 2000 vineyards, carobs and almonds and fruit. One of the key experiences of a successful holiday, beyond good aesthetics and hospitality, is satisfying food; picked from the bar or restaurant menu, Can Lluc offer a wide selection of organic, local and quality produce. Whether plucked from the surrounding farmlands or homegrown vegetable garden, or travelling a short distance from local suppliers, all food is prepared in the in-house kitchen and fresh on the plate. Eating seasonally and locally can reduce the carbon footprint of your food by up to 10%. Food that is grown closer to home will therefore have fewer transportation emissions associated with it, in addition as the distance food travels decreases, so does the need for processing and refrigeration to reduce spoilage.

Seed to table – from the backyard garden to a kitchen table – gives the chef direct input when planting and harvesting herbs and peppers from the seasonal garden onsite, and as a result, the food is simply delicious and incredibly garden-fresh.

Read more…

Agroturismo Can Lluc Ibiza – Rural Escape and Local Luxury For The Conscious Traveller

The Agroturismo Can Lluc, a recently renovated estate in the heart of rural Ibiza, is a must-visit for any conscious traveller. Family-run, cleverly designed and fully committed to preserving the natural beauty of the Mediterranean, Can Lluc is a frontrunner in the agrotourism wave sweeping the island. Across Ibiza, traditional farmhouses are being converted into stylish rural hotels – specifically this agrotourism movement, which originated in Italy, relates to working farms booking out rooms to support income. As a fully functioning hotel and luxury estate, Can Lluc goes well beyond this, and is a standalone restoration space for guests – farm activities aside. In fact, guests do not participate in farming activities, as is commonplace with agrotourism these days, though benefit from enjoying locally grown food (including olive oil), wine and other fruits of the soil. 

As more and more issues around sustainability come to the surface in the hospitality sector, and as it becomes an area the conscious traveller is increasingly vocal about, the authentic experience, cuisine, farming practises and philosophy of Can Lluc offers something truly refreshing, and slightly ahead of the mainstream times. Read more…

French Moments: A Perfect Long Weekend in Paris
Palais du Louvre

Any time spent in Paris is too little, not nearly enough to soak in its vibrant, zesty spirit, and its colorful history written all over the streets. The city’s soul hides in every stone of every architectural masterpiece you come across, and the magnificent almost 90-year-old gentleman that is George V, a Four Seasons hotel in the Golden Triangle of Paris, is no exception. If you have a weekend to spare, think no further than the French capital, and treat yourself to a lush stay that will resonate throughout your life, finally giving meaning to those famous words by Howard Koch: “We’ll always have Paris.”

Read more…