Author: Fay

Advice, information, Life Lessons, Tips, Travel

Everything, I Think, You Need To Know About Becoming A Travel Blogger


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The lifestyle of travel writing is a hot topic right now, as more and more millennial’s are seriously considering becoming a travel blogger. As we get ready to plan our summer travel adventures, many of us can’t help but wonder: Would it benefit me to start a travel blog?


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Experiences, information, Travel

Off Beat Path: 8 Pitstops Before Dirty 30 for Solo Female Travellers


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Guess whose back, back again… Question: The Himalaya’s , crashing waves,The Imperial Palaces and the City of Gold.. what do they all have in common? 

My Bucket List *Insert A Well Cool Emoji Here*

PSA: I am, by far in no means a well-travelled person. 

That’s a fact. What I am though, is hell bent on self-discovery and the sheer freedom of doing something incredibly exhilarating. Best places to travel alone for female travellers around the world is a compilation of destinations with liberating experiences straight from my bucket list. Solo women travellers are no longer an oddity and their brave ventures are a celebration of a freedom of women across the world. “Best destinations for solo female travellers” is a list of some of the safe havens for travellers where single women, travelling alone, are guaranteed the time of their life.

Hence, I give wings to this wide-eyed desire of solo women travellers with a list of 9 of the best places for single women to travel alone. And still, have a littttttty experience.

I’ve included hyperlinks, feel free to explore more on the links.

It’s a short life and a wide world. Fathom it solo, ladies!

  1. Kyoto, The City of Japanese Imperial Palaces

kyotoThis was a no-brainer for me. First on the list of best places to travel alone is Kyoto. This city of gorgeously styled temples, art galleries and master pieces of Japanese gardens is, against my better preference, best explored walking. For a solo female traveller, not just Kyoto but Japan, is a country that is considered the safest, thus walking through the beautiful corridors around the city with blooming cherry blossoms at night is not a problem at all.kyoto1

The ‘Kagai areas’ which literally means ‘flower towns’ of Kyoto are places where you can enjoy Teahouse plays with Geiko and Maiko, or apprentice Geisha (the traditional Japanese entertainers we associate with Japan) play traditional Japanese instruments.

Next up is…

  1. Vietnam, The Ultimate South Asian Experience

It’s safe. It’s cheap. Destination for solo female travellers can’t get any better. It’s an experience of otherworldly wonders with the most stunning beaches, Buddhist pagodas, rivers and an addictive heritage of the country must be thoroughly explored.

Vietnam

This made it to my bucket list because along with the quintessential hectic south Asian experience at Ben Thanh market in Ho Chi Minh City, there are hundreds of towns inhabited by energetic locals who love to LAUGH.

As a solo female traveller, Vietnam gives you a chance of a lifetime to dive into a culture influenced by Mahayana Buddhism. A visit to the Bat Nha Buddhist temple and other monasteries can give you an enlightening taste of Pure Land and Zen practices.

 

  1. Bhutan, The Land of “Gross National Happiness”

You’ve got a bucket list for a solo venture? And you don’t have Bhutan? Yep- add it in. Don’t think too long, just add it. Bhutan is one of the best places to travel alone. To make the most of this tour, I suggest you make your trip during the festivals, which are literally celebrated every month. It’s a chance to join all the locals in the celebrations who come from different parts of the country to the huge Dzongs (Monasetry/Fortress) and perform as masked dancers.

This Land of Thunder Dragon has the most beautiful trekking routes around the country. Druk Path Trek, Jomolhari Laya Gasa Trek and other treks to the high altitudes of Bhutanese Himalayas is the best gift of nature awaiting every adventurous soul.

Bhutan’s stunning mountain scenery is a hiker’s paradise, but Snowdon probably is a small heap of rocks. Compared to the colossal 24,840 ft above sea level compared to the mere 3,560 ft that we were huffing and puffing on. Read about my Snowdon experience here- if Snowdon was gruelling, climbing the Himalayan mountains should be triple the punishment. I cant wait!

  1. Auckland, For a Kiwi Perfect Vacation

AuklandNew Zealand. Based around 2 large harbours, is a major city in the north of New Zealand’s North Island. In the centre, the iconic Sky Tower has views of Viaduct Harbour, which is full of super-yachts and lined with bars and cafes. Auckland Domain, the city’s oldest park, is based around an extinct volcano and home to the formal Wintergardens.  While you soak in the beauty of the rolling greens of Auckland and the sunny beaches, stay assured that the Kiwis give no worries to a dreamy solo traveller. The awe-inspiring volcanic cones, Hauraki Gulf Islands & the amazing food tours, it’s simply a paradise for solo explorers.

aukland1

Horse riding (screams inside)(and if you know me, you know I’m obsessed!) is one joy of life and beaches are another. Auckland gives you a chance to take a horse to a beach. Could it be any better? HELL NO. 

  1. Dubai, Spot for a Glitzy Holiday

So Yes, the big big City of Gold. Look beyond the mass hysteria about travelling alone in the middle east and realise that Dubai awaits every wide-eyed wanderer with open arms. Really does. The Palm Islands, Burj Khalifa, the golden Jumeirah Beach and hundreds of other futuristic modern marvels can leave you awestruck at every step.Dubai1

 

 

Dubai2

 

Shop till you drop, ladiiiiiiiiies! Because we know that if there’s a solo female traveller out there in Dubai, she’s roaming with a serious purpose. Dubai realises and in fact celebrates your seriousness about shopping.

  1. Helsinki, A Wonderful Cultural Enigma

HelsinkiFinland made it to my list! Solo travel gives you a golden chance to meet new people and get a taste of unique cultures around the world. Rest assured; Finland is a country warmest at heart towards the visiting travellers with their local food leaving you deliciously directionless in the best walking trails. And if you are at a countryside during Midsummer celebration, chances are that you have a time of your life.

  1. Dharamshala, Where Silence is Beautiful

Dharamshala

Another beautiful Himalayan town and India’s hidden secret, Dharamshala has recently come on the real map for a lot of travellers around the world promising a uniquely distinctive experience. Various non-profit organisations give ample opportunities to volunteers from all over the world to teach and work with the Tibetan community here. Growing voluntarism makes Dharamshala a great destination for solo female travellers.

Dharamshala1Dharamshala is surrounded by the breath-taking Dhauladhar Range promising a scenic bliss throughout your stay and at the same time offering some of the best hiking and trekking routes around this small town.Dharamshala2

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Costa Rica, Where Green Cannot Get Greener

Costa Rica? Yeah, Costa Rica because if amidst the political turmoil in the Latin American region the country manages to officially be the ‘happiest country in the world’ and one of the best places for females to travel alone.Costa Rica

Costa Rica is also counted as the greenest country giving you a chance to be at the lush rainforests brimming with biodiversity.

My friends are certainly thinking I’m crazy for this one- nobody goes to this rugged, rainforested central American country alone. Its been ruled a safe haven, offering plenty of solo activities that will leave you in awe.

Costa Rica1

The foaming pacific waters rest at the best seaside’s in Costa Rica where travellers find all kinds of water sports opportunities at quiet sleepy beach hamlets.

 

 

Have you travelled solo and loved your experience? Share your itineraries, photographs and videos with me and tell us about the offbeat spots you visited during your travels!

 

Experiences, information, Life Lessons, Travel

Prague Part I: Exploring the Heart of Czechia Alone


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Check out my vlog here! Travelling alone shouldn’t be scary- have fun! You really get to know my personality in these blogposts, and the type of person I am. Continue reading to find out more about the racism I kind of, maybe experienced, the 5* hotel that I probably wont stay in again the people I meet! This is half diary entry, half emotions- so read on. enjoy. Please let me know what you think! Would you ever? Stay tuned for Part II.

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Experiences, Life Lessons, Travel

March Madness 2019: Defeating Snowdon’s Slopes


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Climbing to the top of the Snowdon has been an adventure on my UK bucket list for a while before I finally climbed it. I tagged along with some friends initially but dragged more of my own friends in the name of charity, and we managed to raise quite a fair bit of money for the children of Palestine. Albeit a gruelling, exhausting and punishing experience and one of the physically AND mentally hardest thing I’ve ever done, the top was just as expected.

WhatsApp Image 2019-03-15 at 10.04.16 AM

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information, Reviews, Tips, Travel

9 of the Most Epic Luxury Hotels I’ll visit when I win the lottery


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Like every millennial in the today’s century, having a savings account that I don’t touch at all is nearly impossible to have. If i don’t invest it, its getting used. And if its getting used, it’s much harder to splurge on exotic sun-and-sea holidays that’ll actually make me happy. That’s never been enough to stop me from making my list in advance and being ready for my inevitable uprise into the world of grandeur and magnificent luxe. Were speaking it into existence in 2019.

1. Gladden Private Island, Belize

 

The only way to truly escape from it all is to book a stay on a private island like Gladden, where it will just be you, up to three companions (only if you choose), and a staff that’s been trained to be invisible while catering to your every whim.

You might not even have to win the jackpot to stay here–it costs £2,294 per night for two people or £2,760 for four, but that includes “all meals prepared by a gourmet chef, all beverages including fine wines, all activities including snorkelling, scuba diving and PADI certification, spa treatments, transfers from and to Belize City.” Which, if you take full advantage of all the offerings, is very nearly a bargain.

 

luxury hotel

 

2. Taj Lake Palace, Udaipur

Forget an epic hotel on a private island—what if the luxury hotel itself is the island, for instance the Taj Lake Palace? Built in 1746 to serve as Prince Maharana Jagat Singh II’s “pleasure palace,” this opulent hotel appears to float in the middle of Lake Pichola. You’ll arrive via boat, and your mere presence will be celebrated with a shower of rose petals, a spread of refreshments, and a guard to escort you under a sequined embroidered umbrella.

luxury hotel
(Photo: TripAdvisor, LLC)

 3. Bedarra, Australia

You’ll have to share Bedarra’s all-inclusive luxury with a maximum of 17 other guests, as this epic hotel has just ten guest villas, which accommodate 18 people total. The lush island adjoins the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. And while other parts of the Great Barrier Reef have become tragically over-visited, Bedarra is near the outer section of the reef in an area that’s much harder for tourists to reach. You can feel good about spending over $1,000 AUD (£550) a night here, as the resort places a huge importance on environmental sustainability.

luxury hotel
(Photo: TripAdvisor, LLC)

4. Mandarian Oriental, New York City, USA

Go big in the Big Apple with a stay at the Mandarian Oriental, where the cheapest room on the cheapest night starts at £618. Go even bigger at this luxury hotel with a suite, starting at $1,089 a night. (And that’s not even the most expensive—the Presidential Suite doesn’t list prices online, lending credence to the old saying that “if you have to ask, you can’t afford it.”). Hey, on the bright side—a full breakfast is included every day (even if you slum it in the £622 room).

luxury hotel
(Photo: TripAdvisor, LLC)

5. Le Bristol, Paris, France

When five stars just don’t cut it anymore on your quest for epic hotels, you need a “Palace” hotel, an exclusive rating given to luxury hotels in France that go above-and-beyond the star-rating. Just 16 hotels have earned this prestigious rating, including Le Bristol. Le Bristol is a dream for foodies, as it can claim four Michelin Stars–three awarded to its Epicure restaurant and one to its Le 114 Faubourg brasserie.

luxury hotel
(Photo: THE 13)

 6. The 13, Macau, China

The 13, which is being billed as the world’s most expensive hotel, isn’t open yet, so you’ve still got time to save your (trillions of) pennies. Macau’s luxury hotel cost an estimated £1.2 billion to build, and will have 200 villas available to book when it opens. Need a ride? The 13 is stocked with a fleet of 30 customised Rolls-Royce Phantoms worth approximately £15.5 million, ready to take guests wherever they want to go.

Each room will come with a butler certified by the English Guild of Butlers, and all guests will have access to a private shopping centre, where they can buy exclusive, limited-edition items, in case they didn’t spend enough on accommodation.

luxury hotel
(Photo: TripAdvisor, LLC)

7. Burj Al Arab, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

The Burj Al Arab is probably the most famous luxury hotel in the world. Shaped like a sail, this hotel is also one of the tallest buildings in the world. The hotel is situated on a private island just off the coast of Dubai, and is so exclusive that you can’t even cross the bridge to the hotel without being a guest there or having a reservation at one of the restaurants.

luxury hotel
(Photo: TripAdvisor, LLC)

8. One Room Hotel, Prague, Czech Republic

You’ll need to book early at Prague’s One Room Hotel, because as the name implies, this hotel only has one room available. Why? Because it’s located on top of the city’s famous Zizkov Television tower. As the room sits 200 feet above Prague, you’ll have some amazing views—and the undivided attention of the hotel staff.

luxury hotel
(Photo: TripAdvisor, LLC)

 9. Tsala Treetop Suites, South Africa

Treehouses don’t mean roughing it—at least, not if you’re staying at the Tsala Treetop Suites in South Africa. These 10 suites are more luxury hotel than tree-house (but with all the views and privacy of a tree-top outpost) as they all have private decks, infinity pools, sitting rooms, fireplaces, and plush bedrooms—situated in the forest canopy.

information, Tips, Travel

11 Secret Italian Villages to Visit Before the Crowds Do


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Rome? Been there. Venice? Done that. Florence? Bought the statue-of-David postcard. While this triumvirate of tourist destinations is a must-do for any first-time visitor to Italy, many of the country’s greatest charms can only be experienced in small Italian villages—places where you can slip away from the crowds, wander down deserted cobblestone lanes, and get a first-hand look at how the locals live.

Secret Italian Villages

The following secret Italian villages are scattered all over the country, from the mountains of the north to the sun-soaked islands in the south.

1. Tellaro, Liguria

You won’t find any major sights in the fishing village of Tellaro, but its pastel-coloured buildings, narrow cobblestone streets, and sweeping sea views offer their own simple pleasures.

2. Pitigliano, Tuscany

Nicknamed Little Jerusalem, the medieval hill town of Pitigliano was once home to a large Jewish community that settled there in the 16th century. While Pitigliano’s Jews were nearly all gone by the mid-20th century—due mostly to migration for economic reasons but also due to persecution by the Nazis—you can still tour the old Jewish ghetto, which includes a restored synagogue, traditional bread ovens, and a small museum.

Also worth seeing are Palazzo Orsini, a 14th-century fortress that houses a collection of historical artefacts; and Vie Cave, a walking path to a series of Etruscan caves.

Where to stay: If you’ve ever wanted to experience life on a Tuscan farm, book a stay at Agriturismo Poggio Al Tufo, about six miles from Pitigliano. Surrounded by vineyards, the property features an outdoor pool and a restaurant.

3. Procida, Campania

Encompassing just 1.6 square miles, Procida is the smallest island in the Bay of Naples, and visitors often bypass it in their rush to see nearby Capri and Ischia. But if you prefer your villages in Italy sans crowds, consider hopping on the Procida ferry from Naples.

With its vibrantly coloured buildings overlooking a picture-perfect harbour, the island is a photographer’s dream. Climb to the Terra Murata, the highest and oldest point on the island, where you’ll find crumbling ruins and magnificent views.

Where to stay: The 11-room Albergo La Vigna has a wine bar serving varietals from its own vineyards. One room even features art by a local Procida artist.

4. Chioggia, Veneto

What would Venice look like if it were still a traditional fishing port, without the massive cruise ships and teeming tourist crowds? It might look a little something like Chioggia. Accessible by ferry and bus from Venice, Chioggia is built around canals the way Venice is, but it offers a humbler and slower way of life.

Get there early to visit its traditional fish market, then wander through its water-lined streets and stop for lunch at one of its many excellent seafood restaurants.

Where to stay: Hotel Grande Italia has been hosting travellers in the heart of Chioggia for more than 100 years. Rooms are comfortable and modern, with air-conditioning and free Wi-Fi.

5. Locorotondo, Puglia

As you walk through Locorotondo, you’ll constantly be reaching for your camera to snap pictures of pink and red geraniums spilling out of window boxes against whitewashed walls.

One of several white hill towns in this part of Puglia, Locorotondo’s skyline is dominated by the Chiesa Madre San Giorgio, a cathedral whose dome and tower you can see as you approach the town from the valley below. Don’t forget to sample the area’s famous white wine.

Where to stay: You can stay in your own little trullo (a cone-roofed house typical of the region) at Leonardo Trulli Resort. Inside are exposed stone walls; outside is a lawn with loungers where you can relax.

6. Viterbo, Lazio

Located about two hours from Rome by train, Viterbo has a walled medieval core that’s perfect for strolling. The town was once the papal seat back in the 13th century, and you can still visit the impressive Palazzo dei Papi in the historic centre.

But be sure to make time for one of Viterbo’s most relaxing attractions: its thermal baths, which have been enjoyed for centuries by locals and visitors alike.

Where to stay: Past guests of B&B Medieval House rave about the property’s central location and friendly host. The carefully restored historic building features exposed stone walls and wooden beams in the guest rooms.

7. Noto, Sicily

Noto’s elegant baroque churches and palaces were built in the aftermath of an earthquake that levelled the original town in 1693.

An ideal day in Noto involves strolling the streets, admiring the cream-coloured architecture, and treating yourself to a sweet treat from one of the historic centre’s many ice cream parlours. Got some extra time? Relax on the region’s golden sand beaches.

Where to stay: The stylish Gagliardi Boutique Hotel is located in a restored palazzo in Noto’s old town. On sunny days you can relax on the rooftop bar and terrace.

8. Saluzzo, Piedmont

Located near Turin, this is one of the rare Italian towns that see relatively few tourists—but those who do visit get to enjoy Saluzzo’s handsome historic centre and views over the nearby Alps.

Don’t miss the Casa Cavassa, with its colourful frescoes and antique furniture, or the tranquil botanical garden at Villa Bricherasio.

Where to stay: San Giovanni Resort Hotel offers 13 rooms in a restored monastery dating back to the 15th century. Don’t miss a stroll through the gardens in the former cloister.

9. Spello, Umbria

Escape the crowds in Assisi with a visit to one of the region’s less-travelled Italian villages. Spello is just a 15-minute drive from Assisi but feels a world away as you explore its well-preserved Roman walls and quiet churches.

Spello is also known for a unique cultural event called Le Infiorate, a late-spring festival in which murals made of flower petals are laid out throughout the town’s streets and piazzas.

Where to stay: Once a medieval fort, then a hunting lodge, Agriturismo Il Bastione is now an elegant place to stay just outside of Spello. The grounds have inviting places to unwind, including nature trails and a pool.

10. Bosa, Sardinia

This riverfront town in western Sardinia is distinguished by a jumble of hillside houses painted every colour of the rainbow, with a 12th-century castle looming above.

Visitors can enjoy seafood or drinks on an outdoor terrace, snap photos of boats along the waterfront, and ramble down narrow alleys where laundry hangs out to dry overhead.

Where to stay: Located within walking distance of the centre of Bosa, Palazzo Sa Pischedda offers art nouveau-style rooms, some with original fresco paintings.

11. Chiusa/Klausen, Trentino-Alto Adige

Located in the mountainous region north of Venice, near the Austrian border, Chiusa (also known as Klausen) offers stunning views in all directions. Charming shops, winding cobblestone lanes, and friendly locals await visitors to this uncrowded medieval town.

Take time for the uphill climb to the Sabiona Monastery, one of the region’s most important historical sites.

Where to stay: You can enjoy mountain views, hiking trails, tennis courts, a sauna, and three swimming pools at Hotel Gnollhof.

Advice, Tips

Love Letter To Remarkable Women


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If your here, you know I love to travel. You know I love to write. And You know I love to give. What I love more than anything though, without a doubt, with absolute boundless certainty, and a totally undeniable fact.. is myself.

My full of flaws, stubborn, impatient and perfectionist self. This year, I’m not writing a love letter to a guy, nor have I ever in all fairness. Or maybe I have.

Love Letter To Remarkable Women

To start off my own tradition, here’s to all the women I’ve met and never will, who live life like every day is the perfect day to fall in love with the uniqueness they bring to the world. 🥂

To the mothers who raise kind, good-natured daughters.

To the protective sisters who have each other’s backs through the bullshit and the headaches they go through.

To the aunts who are mothers when they need to be and sisters when they’re expected to be.

To the grandmothers who give timeless advice combined with perpetual wisdom, for free, every damn day.

To the best friends who give a toss about each others emotional health and protect each others hearts with laughter and tears.

To the strangers who share moments of relief and count on each others strength time and time again.

We have no frikkin’ time for ordinary.

I’ve seen girls who wake up with a smile and open their window first thing in the morning like they’re living in a movie then make coffee like they’re making art.

Women who get ready for work like every day is their first day and the ones who give it all they have regardless of their paycheck. I’ve seen the same women degraded, devalued and dismissed and yet tomorrow, they’ll come in like its their first day… ready.

There are women who sing along to all their favourite songs without caring too much about the glass that shaking uncontrollably, or the deafening screech that’s hurting our eardrums (Yes, totally indirecting here, you know who you are) . Girls who are unapologetic, unphased and unabashed.

The ones who take their time putting on their make-up because they’re secretly appreciating what makes them uniquely them.

I’ve learned from women who know that someone else’s beauty is not a lack of theirs and someone else’s success is not a setback of theirs. Women who are defiant, and don’t let the day run them, and who define what their own status quo should mean.

Women who have a strong sense of who they are and those who have unshakeable confidence in their capabilities.

But also,

I’ve seen girls who endure life’s toughest complications and battle through like there’s no other choice or way. The one’s told its all in their head, and the ones who literally pushes a whole head out of her body in excruciating pain.

The girls who make storms look like drizzles.

Ones who find the time to pick themselves up, and thank themselves for their hard work even when they can’t see their own results.

I’ve learned from the girls who know when to hold on and when to release. The ones who hurt, and crawl, but know that walking away takes as much courage and tenacity as staying does. The ones who nurture and caress the emptiness in others, but never find the once chance to get filled.

Most of all, from the women who pick themselves up in silence. over and over again. The ones who are mindful, that their actions are never quite out of spite.

To the ones whose actions are enveloped in love even when love hasn’t been on their side.

We have no time for ordinary.

This is to the women who like the smell of new books and old ones alike. To the girls who write tiny, thoughtful notes on WhatsApp and Snapchat to cheer up the people they care about.

The ones who, despite the complexities of their depth, are so easy to fall in love with.

To the women who have wits so tempting of competition. To the women who have hearts so kind that you know if you hurt them, you’re actually hurting yourself.

The woman you want to be friends with because they always feel like the sun on a cold day.

The women that cover their bruises emotionally and physically, and conceal the disguise with smiles, and to the others who torture themselves with anger. The ones who give up their cloaks so easily, and wear their heart on their sleeve too often, too quickly and too soon.

To the ones you feel grateful for falling in love with because you know you’ve given your heart to gold.

This is to the women who have no time for ordinary because they’re made for remarkable.

You lot are legends.

 

The power in me, salutes, the power in You.

Advice, Experiences, information, Life Lessons, Tips, Travel

In My Experience: 10 of the Most Misleading Travel Terms EVER


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If you spend enough time comparing hotels, flights, and tours, you’ll eventually realise that many words have very little meaning in the travel industry. You might think that there would be some sort of common agreement on travel terms across hotels that would define what makes a suite a suite or a deluxe room better than a standard room, but no such agreements exist. I’m often surprised to find that what I booked is not quite what I expected.

Here are some travel hype words you should take lightly, and that might even signal you should do a little more research.

1. ‘Deluxe Room’

Whether you travel once a year or year-round, you’ve probably run into this word over and over again comparing hotels. But do you know what it really means? Across hotel websites, “deluxe” is a travel term usually used to up-sell a room that is the same size as a standard room and looks like a standard room, but usually only has one feature that makes it any better.

According to Merriam-Webster, the official definition of “deluxe” is “notably luxurious, elegant, or expensive.” When it comes to travel, though, it could mean anything from bed sheets with a higher thread count to the addition of a coffeemaker. So when it comes to selecting a “deluxe” room, the only part of that definition you can really count on is that it’ll be slightly more expensive.

Before deciding to upgrade to anything deluxe, make sure you understand exactly how much more you’re paying for. Otherwise, you might find yourself paying a hefty margin for a fancy word.

2. ‘Suite’

While it’s not as vague and thrown-around as often as “deluxe” is, “suite” is another word that doesn’t seem to have a concrete meaning. For some, a suite might mean multiple bedrooms, or at least a separate living room and kitchen area. However, when you’re comparing different hotel suite options, they can range in size and layout dramatically.

Even hotels that market themselves with the word itself in their names, such as Candlewood Suites or Comfort Suites, often have vastly differing opinions on what the word means. At Candlewood Suites, accommodations can be a bit basic, but there are multiple rooms and a full kitchen. Suites at Comfort Suites don’t necessarily have multiple rooms and extra amenities, but may be a little bit bigger than your standard hotel room with a few “deluxe” touches thrown in.

3. ‘Boutique Hotel’

Let me start by saying that I adore boutique hotels. I love their small-scale attention to detail and that each one has a distinct look and design. That being said, “boutique” is a relatively new and trendy word that gets thrown around far too often, and few people know its true definition. Some people say that a boutique hotel can only be considered such if it has fewer than 100 rooms—but if that were the case every truck-stop motel across the country could slap the word “boutique” above the vacancy sign.

If you really want to experience a boutique hotel, look for something petite and artsy. A boutique hotel should feel like an independent hotel with its own distinct, locally focused style—even if it’s owned by a bigger hotel conglomerate. For example, MGallery is a boutique hotel brand owned by Accor Hotels. In Melbourne, Hotel Lindrum pays tribute to the building’s history as a pool hall. In Prague, the Century Old Town Hotel is an homage to Franz Kafka, the city’s most famous author. True boutique hotels use design to evoke a historical connection to their location.

4. ‘Stars’

What’s the difference between a five-star hotel and a four-star hotel? It depends who you ask. When you’re looking for hotels across booking sites like Expedia or Travelocity, it’s not uncommon to see different “star” ratings on the same hotel. Depending on the source, hotel star ratings are based different things: Expedia, for example, takes into account “hotel amenities, media reviews, customer experience, and professional benchmarks” to come up with a rating. Meanwhile TripAdvisor simply displays an average of customer reviews.

You could spend hours trying to compare all the different ratings of one hotel to decide how good it is, but should you? Probably not. Ratings are arbitrary and the rules are constantly changing, so it’s better to do your own assessment of what you need in a hotel, and how well it will suit your needs.

5. ‘High-Speed Internet’

Having typed in many hotel Wi-Fi passwords for access to lagging Internet, I feel comfortable saying that the phrase “high-speed internet” is one common travel term that doesn’t mean anything. With fluctuating numbers of guests, hotel internet is notoriously finicky and vastly unreliable—especially when travelling abroad or to rural areas.

If you need a fast connection on your trip, don’t ask the hotel about its Internet speed. Instead, check out Hotelwifitest.com  which collects Internet speeds of hotels across the globe. Do a quick search before you book if you’ll need fast Internet, and if you’re unfamiliar with internet speed measurements, run a quick test from your home connection for comparison. This will give you a good idea if the hotel’s Internet will be better or worse than what you’re used to.

6. ‘Hotel Fitness Centre’

Nobody really expects a whole lot from the hotel fitness centre, do they? Personally, if there’s a treadmill, some weights, and a yoga mat—I’m happy. While it’s not uncommon for fitness rooms to be on the small side, some are seriously claustrophobic excuses for a “fitness centre,” and the equipment can be pretty basic. Also, keep an eye out for fitness rooms that aren’t necessarily located in the hotel: Many hotels, especially in large cities, have a deal with nearby full-service gyms that allow hotel guests to use their facilities. While it’s nice to be able to use a real gym, you might not be as motivated to work out if it’s located a block or more away from where you’re staying.

7. ‘Walking Distance’

For those who hike the Appalachian Trail, “walking distance” means from Georgia to Maine. For those of us who are running late to dinner downtown, however, walking distance better mean under 15 minutes. Probably one of the most subjective travel terms in the industry, never take “walking distance” at face value, and always consult Google Maps.

8. ‘Access to Public Transportation’

Like walking distance, “access to public transportation” can mean just about anything. If you’re relying on public transportation to get around, it’s more helpful if your hotel is located on a major stop than if you have to walk 20 minutes to get there. Similarly, this phrase could mean the hotel is near a bus line that will take you to another bus line that will finally connect you to the main subway, when you really only want to buy a pass for the subway. If deciphering bus schedules and managing transfer tickets isn’t your idea of a good time, make sure to map out the routes you’ll take before you make the booking.

9. ‘Continental Breakfast’

I’ve spurned too many sad displays of near-stale white bread  to ever feel contented by the phrase “continental breakfast.” So what is a continental breakfast? The term has British origins, originally referring to the light breakfasts of mainland Europe, and Merriam-Webster officially defines continental breakfast as “a light breakfast (as of rolls or toast and coffee).” But when modern travellers, especially Americans, hungrily approach a hotel breakfast spread, we want options and, at the very least, a waffle maker. If access to a quick yet substantial breakfast is important to you, call ahead to see what the hotel really offers in their continental breakfast. If you don’t think that will be enough food for you, scout out some nearby cafes or brunch spots instead.

10. ‘Quaint’

While this may be a fine word for a historic bed and breakfast or inn, be wary of any hotel describing itself as “quaint.” It might just be old. If scratchy sheets, peeling paint, and musty smells aren’t your idea of “quaint,” you might want to shop around for a more modern hotel.

information, Travel

11 Hotels In My Bucket List I’ll definitely Visit Before I’m 30


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Some hotels are appealing because of their convenient location; others because of staff who go above and beyond to create a memorable stay. And then there are the beautiful hotels that take your breath away the moment you see them.

The World’s Most Beautiful Hotels

The following list features the most beautiful hotels around the globe, from a restored 11th-century palace in Italy to a mountain lodge in New Zealand’s spectacular Southern Alps.

1. Belmond Hotel Caruso in Ravello, Italy

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It’s not easy for a hotel to live up to the beauty of Italy’s glittering Amalfi Coast, but the Belmond Hotel Caruso pulls it off. The hotel’s piece de resistance is the infinity pool, dramatically perched on a cliff’s edge high above the sea. First built as a palace in the 11th century, the hotel is surrounded by terraced gardens fragrant with roses, lemon trees, and herbs. Rooms feature spacious marble bathrooms and balconies overlooking the gardens or sea.

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There’s no shortage of dreamy riads in Morocco, but Riad Fes Maya is a real showstopper. From the moment you step into its soaring inner courtyard, where seemingly every inch of space is covered with colourful Moorish tiles and exquisite wood carvings, you’ll feel as though you’ve stepped into a magical piece of Moroccan history. The rooms are equally enchanting, with stained glass windows, intricately carved headboards, and elaborate wooden ceilings. You can relax in the on-site hammam (traditional steam bath) and spa.

3. Blanket Bay in Glenorchy, New Zealand

Located on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, surrounded by the snow-capped Southern Alps, Blanket Bay enjoys a location that will take your breath away—and the inside of the lodge is nearly as beautiful. All rooms and suites are lavishly appointed and feature floor-to-ceiling windows to let you savor the mountain views. Grab a book and settle in front of the massive stone fireplace in the great room, or take in a sunset over the mountains from the outdoor terrace.

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4. The Sarojin in Khao Lak, Thailand

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It’s tough to choose the most beautiful spot to relax at this secluded Thai resort: the seven-mile private beach, where crystalline waters wash up on stretch of white sand? Or the expansive outdoor pool, lined with open-air cabanas and surrounded by trees? The good news is that you can split your time between both, with breaks to grab cocktails at the beach bar or take a cooking class. Rooms feature teak floors and decor in calming neutrals; upgrade to enjoy your own private pool for two.

5. Hotel Belmar in Monteverde, Costa Rica

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The most gorgeous part of this luxury eco-lodge is its setting, with hills of lush cloud forest stretching in all directions. Wander through the hotel’s nine-acre grounds and you’ll discover a waterfall, a vegetable and herb garden, and a sun deck where you can relax with views of a serene spring water pond. You don’t have to leave nature behind when you retreat to your room for the evening; all guest rooms and suites are furnished with natural hardwoods and feature balconies or terraces overlooking the cloud forest.

6. Kamalame Cay in Andros, Bahamas

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If you set out to design the island escape of your dreams, it would probably look a lot like Kamalame Cay, one of the most beautiful hotels in the Bahamas. The resort’s bright, airy rooms and villas are decorated like upscale vacation homes, complete with views over the shimmering turquoise sea. Some of the most spectacular views are from the spa, which juts out over the water. During a massage, you can look down through the glass floor and watch the tropical fish flit through the water below.

Looking to explore the rolling green hills and terraced vineyards of Portugal’s Douro Valley? Base yourself at this 19th-century manor house, now transformed into a luxe Six Senses property overlooking the Douro River. Its gardens and outdoor swimming pool are perfect spots to take in the vineyard views, while the Wine Library & Terrace serves up local vintages and tapas.

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The rooms are soothing contemporary retreats, many with large windows and stone terraces from which you can look out over the endless green valley.

8. Oberoi Amarvilas in Agra, India

When you stay at the Oberoi Amarvilas, your experience of the famous Taj Mahal isn’t limited to a daytime visit. Once you return to the hotel each evening, you can admire the monument’s famous dome and minarets right from your room. Even better: Upgrade to a room with a private balcony, where you can enjoy dinner for two overlooking this monument to true love.

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The hotel itself looks like a palace; its courtyard entrance is full of gushing fountains, and the pool area features neatly landscaped gardens, Mughal-style architecture, and that unforgettable Taj Mahal view.

9. Inkaterra La Casona in Cusco, Peru

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With no front desk or numbers on the guest room doors, Inkaterra La Casona is designed to make you feel like you’re not in a hotel but in a home—that is, if your home were furnished with antique furniture and carved wooden doors, had a fireplace in every room, and featured centuries-old frescoes on the bathroom walls. The result of a multi-year renovation, historic La Casona is one of the most beautiful hotels in Cusco, with rooms arranged around a 16th-century stone cloister.

10. Al Maha in Dubai, United Arab Emirates

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Travellers looking for a desert oasis need only drive about 45 minutes outside of Dubai to Al Maha, where you can stay in your own Bedouin-style tent amidst golden sand dunes. Don’t let the word “tent” worry you; these are upscale suites complete with king-size beds, handcrafted antique furniture, modern bathrooms with soaking tubs, and your own private infinity pool overlooking the desert. The resort is located on the grounds of the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, which means you might spot a gazelle or antelope as you relax on your sundeck.

11. Manoir Hovey in Quebec Province, Canada

Built as a summer home by a wealthy American in 1900, Manoir Hovey occupies 30 acres of lakefront property in Quebec’s Eastern Townships region. All of the inn’s rooms are individually designed and feature crisp linens and bright, contemporary country-style decor. Upgraded rooms also have amenities like marble bathrooms, fireplaces, and balconies overlooking Lake Massawippi. Manoir Hovey’s landscaped grounds are gorgeous in any season, whether they’re blanketed in winter snow, surrounded by fiery autumn foliage, or blooming with spring and summer flowers.

Honorary mentions include Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, have a look at my next post for places I’d visit if I won the lottery!

 

Have you been to any of these? I want to hear, let me know. Any others I should add to the list?

Experiences, information, Tips, Travel

Top 10 Travel Destinations for Feb 2019


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Dreaming of a holiday but don’t want to wait until the summer, like me? No problem.

February is the purrrrrrrfect time to go somewhere exotic for a dose of much-needed vitamin D or stay a bit closer to home and see parts of Europe at their most beautiful (aka blanketed in snow). It also happens to be a month full of parties. Dry January will be over so why not get back into the festivities at Rio’s Carnival, New Orleans’ Mardi Gras, Beijing’s Chinese New Year or Venice’s annual Carnevale di Venezi…

1. Marrakesh, Morocco

With cheap, direct flights from London and the promise of winter sun – Marrakesh in late February is a no brainer. Temperature highs can reach 20 degrees and it’s one of the best times of the year to explore the Medina, the new Musee Yves Saint Laurent and practice your haggling skills at the souks without the stifling heat that comes in Spring.

2. Rio de Janeiro

This year Carnival in Rio de Janeiro will take place between the 9th and 14th of February and there are few better reasons to make the trip to Brazil for.

Famous throughout the world, Brazilian dancers with the most incredible costumes move throughout the city and tourists and locals alike bring in the early hours of the morning at street parties, known as blocos, and at costumed balls called bailes.

3. Svalbard, Norway

Who doesn’t have seeing the Northern Lights on their bucket list? This February head to the Arctic Circle – Svalbard in Norway to be specific- a gentle nod towards my all time favourite movie The Golden Compass.

An archipelago situated between mainland Norway and the North Pole – you essentially can’t get more Northern than this. If you’re really, really lucky you may even see polar bears roaming around too.

4. Beijing

No one heads to Beijing in February for the weather but it is one of the best cities in the world to experience Chinese New Year.

The biggest holiday of the year for the city, you’ll see temple dances, eat at banquets, watch million-pound firework displays and see the streets lit up with show-stopping light installations.

Once the celebrations are over, you can explore the city, tick the Great Wall of China off your bucket list (it’s located just an hour and a half outside of the city) and if you have time, carry on your holiday in Shanghai – it’s only a two hour flight away.

5. New Orleans

New Orleans Mardi Gras is hard to beat. Taking place each year in February, the festival sees 1.2 million tourists descend on the French Quarter and surrounding streets ready to party, hard.

Experience it for a few days and then get to know the rest of Louisiana’s largest city. With a history steeped in Voodoo, be sure to take a graveyard tour. Eat turtle soups during a traditional “Friday Lunch” at one of the century old restaurants, shop in the achingly trendy Magazine Street, listen to live jazz and don’t leave without spotting alligators in one of the swamps located on the outskirts.

6. Cambodia’s Islands

Tourists have long been flocking to Angkor Wat, Cambodia’s awe-inspiring temple and one of the wonders of the world. But its magnificent, unspoilt coastline has remained relatively untrodden compared to neighbours Thailand and Vietnam. With a number of new, luxury hotels including the The Six Senses resort on Krabey Island and Alila’s eco-resort on Koh Russey, it’s hard to think of a more idyllic place to get your vitamin D hit.

7. Switzerland’s Bern

If you want to do European winter properly, you won’t get much more of a snowy paradise than Switzerland’s Bern.

Not only was it voted the most Instagrammable winter city in the world (beating Aspen..) in 2017, the city’s whole old town is in fact a UNESCO World Heritage site. You can ski in the surrounding slopes, ice skate on The Schwarzsee mountain lake which completely freezes over and then come nightfall take refuge in a genuine igloo.

8. Venice

Venice in February is cold but it rarely looks more beautiful under the dimly lit, silvery winter sun.

Aside from the obvious perks of less tourists and fewer gutter smells, a major pull for visiting in February is that this is when you can experience the unique Carnevale di Venezia.

A traditional carnival that has been celebrated all over Italy for centuries, participants use it as an occasion to indulge before they undertake the Christian practice of Lent when people give something up for 40 days until Easter Sunday.

Each year entertainers bring alive the canals and alleyways through dance, costume and performance and if you’re into Venetian masks, this is the best time to see them in all their glory.

9. Canada

If you’ve overlooked Canada in favour of America, you’re missing a trick. Canada’s landscape looks particularly beautiful during the winter and if you’re an adventurer February is when to go.

Banff National Park with its craggy peaks and glinting glaciers and Whistler’s world famous ski slopes make it the perfect country for winter sports enthusiasts. If you’re a city-goer though – the country’s major cities hold their own during the colder months too.

You can see the annual festival of lights in Toronto, skate at one of the many outdoor rinks in Vancouver or see the ice sculptures, watch a hockey tournament or experience snow-shoeing in Montreal.

10. Canary Islands

If you’re time-poor and/or don’t have the budget to go halfway across the world this February, an excellent option for holiday sun is the Canary Islands. Just four hours from London, the islands offer high temperatures, warm blue seas and quaint towns and villages full of small restaurants and pretty squares.

Tenerife is the coldest of the islands during this time (average temperature of 16 degrees) but there are good deals to be had. Lanzarote, Fuerteventura and Gran Canaria will all be hotter with average temperatures of 18°C, and highs of 21°C.