Just Back From… La Palma

  • After falling in love with the lesser-known Canary Island of La Palma last year, our Editor-in-Chief Michael returned again – this time with his wife, son and in-laws – for another dose of spring sunshine, volcanic views, fir forests and black-sand beaches…


    This tiny island really does have (almost) everything I look for in a holiday destination: guaranteed sunshine, a laid-back vibe, lots of beaches (if we’re being picky I’d prefer blonde sand and smaller waves), superb value for money, and some spectacular mountain scenery…

    P1070865 P1070914

    Access is reasonably easy: we flew BA/Iberia via Madrid, but you can go no-frills via Tenerife (if you don’t mind changing airports on the island), or grab a direct charter flight if you are staying exactly 1 or 2 weeks. But my preference is scheduled – it’s hardly more expensive, and you get the most charming young pilots …


    Our base for the week was – once again – the gorgeous Casa Los Geranios, where Lourdes welcomed us with the same warmth, quick-fire Spanish and delicious homemade cake and wine – trampled from the vines which grow just below the house. With 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, it’s perfect for an extended family, and if you need more space there’s a separate annex for 2 (thankfully, relations with my in-laws remained cordial enough not to need it!).



    It’s set on a sunny hillside below the volcano of San Antonio, in the far south of the island, with endless Atlantic views from the terrace which are particularly mind-blowing at sunset


    A couple of miles up the hill is the pretty village of Fuencaliente (also called Los Canarios), with a few decent eateries (especially by Canarian standards), two wine co-operatives, a supermarket and a bar selling fantastic almond pastries


    Our highlight of the week was a stunning 20km trek along the 2000-metre crest of the Ruta de los Volcanos


    – icy cold at that altitude, but a magnificent roller-coaster of craters, pinnacles and forested paths carpeted with soft pine needles which re-energised us beyond measure


    We also explored the lower volcanoes of San Antonio and Teneguia (which last erupted in 1971)


    …and made a day trip to the far north of the island, where we unearthed some elusive Guantxo rock engravings…


    … and picnicked on a spectacular ledge above the barranco (gorge) of Fagundo, surrounded by exotic cacti, euphorbia, flowering asphodels and lilac daisies


    Our remaining days were spent on one of two beaches – either the sheltered sickle of Tazacorte, with its rainbow cafés fronting the waves…


    …or the more open sands of Puerto Naos, which is the closest La Palma gets to a resort. A word of warning: don’t count on swimming, as the water is quite chilly in winter, and red flags fly once or twice a week on average.


    In nearby Los Llanos, the island’s largest settlement, you can stroll through the pedestrianised, pastel-painted town centre, stopping for coffees, a spot of shopping, and a healthy al fresco lunch at La Vitamina


    … before heading back home, through the clouds, for sunset


    For more tips on La Palma, read our destination guide >>

    Posted in Our Trips.... Tagged , , ,

Spotlight on… the Cyclades

  • This is the original island-hopping destination, and with BA recently launching direct flights from Heathrow to both Santorini and Mykonos, it’s easier than ever to escape to gorgeous Greece. Each of the Cyclades has its own personality, but regardless of where you end up, you’re certain to find exceptionally beautiful landscapes and delicious local cuisine; we could happily feast on fava and souvlaki, washed down with crisp white wine, for weeks on end…

    Oia, Santorini

    Oia, Santorini

    Why go?

    The Cyclades is a unique collection of islands – packed with character and Greek charm – that have been enticing visitors ever since ancient poet Homer walked the land. The islands fulfil their traditional name (kyklos, meaning circle) by surrounding the sacred UNESCO-listed island of Delos – the mythological birthplace of twin Greek gods, Apollo and Artemis. Today the Cyclades remain classically Greek, with white-washed villages, blue-domed churches, beaches coated in volcanic sand, hillsides covered in wild herbs and vineyards, and tavernas overlooking the glistening Aegean Sea.




    With so many islands choose from, it’s hard to know where to begin or which to visit; here we take a whistle-stop tour of our top picks that all deserve a place on your travel wish list.


    Esperas, Santorini

    It’s hard not to fall in love with postcard-perfect Santorini, created about 4,000 years ago by one of the mightiest volcanic eruptions in human history. The people here are proud of their fiery beginnings, and the still-active volcano’s presence is at the forefront of the island’s personality, from the black and red sand beaches of Kamari and Perissa, to the volcanic-rock jewellery on offer in Oia, and the incredible ancient rubble-coated Minoan site of Akrotiri, often believed to be part of Plato’s lost city of Atlantis.

    Kameni (lava) islands, Santorini

    Kameni (lava) islands, Santorini

    The island is also famed for its sunsets and, trust us, they are incredible. Cosy up with a glass of wine on the terrace of one of our coastal retreats, and watch the sun vanish into the waves. Or, if you’d rather be closer to the vineyards (and the wine-tasting opportunities that go hand-in-hand) reside at restored mansion, Zannos Melathron.

    Perivolas Traditional Houses

    Perivolas Traditional Houses, Santorini

    The Cyclades’ other big name is Mykonos, one of the Greek islands’ original, and classiest, party destinations. There are sandy beaches galore (Paradise and Super Paradise are legendary), hidden coves, blue waters, white-washed windmills, and a gorgeously Greek capital that is often said to have the region’s most picturesque harbour. It’s also worth knowing that this is one of the few Greek islands that allows water sports – so water-skiing, windsurfing and scuba diving are all very much available.

    Mykonos Town

    Mykonos Town

    Seriously sexy Grace Mykonos and supremely stylish Hotel Belvedere are both perfectly positioned, just a short walk from Mykonos Town’s boutiques, restaurants and bars; be sure to enjoy a sundowner in Little Venice. While you’re here, head over to uninhabited Delos for the day (there are frequent boat trips across the water) and explore the incredible archaeological remains, dedicated to Apollo, that cover the entire island: there’s the ‘Terrace of Lions’, an impressive amphitheatre and numerous temples. It’s pretty amazing to think that people have been taking trips to this tiny island for thousands of years – ensure you’re one of them!

    Grace Mykonos

    Grace Mykonos, Mykonos

    Naxos is the travel interchange, and the largest, of the Cyclades Islands, so if you’re island-hopping there’s a high chance you’ll be changing ferries here. Naxos Town is a deservedly popular, very photogenic seafront town capped by a well-preserved Venetian castro. It’s a great place to stay at any time of year, and combines Cycladic beauty with authentic Greek bustle. At the centre of the island lies a plateau covered in olive groves, with quaint villages, Byzantine chapels, ancient grave circles, kouros statues and a crumbling castle scattered around. See our favourite places to stay on the island.

    Onar, Andros

    Onar, Andros

    The most northerly island in the Cyclades, and one of our editor-in-chief Mike’s all-time favourite destinations, is the relatively undiscovered Andros, whose dramatic mountainous interior is made up of lush valleys and cascading waterfalls. Onar, a secluded cluster of stone houses, is nestled into a quiet cove on the eastern coast of the island, right next to a large natural park. Sit around a glowing fire in the evening, bask in the morning sunshine over a communal breakfast and spend your days exploring: head to sandy Fellos beach, or perhaps the twin coves of Vitali, to swim, tan and feast on fresh seafood in the local tavernas.



    Despite its small size, Syros has the largest capital in the Cyclades. Once a major Venetian base, Ermoupoli is characterised by neoclassical Italian architecture and an impressive port which spreads between 2 hills – stay at Hotel Syrou Melathron. Out of town you’ll find various unspoilt beaches; we love the cove at Kini fishing village, on the west coast, and visitors can spend the night at gorgeous Pino di Loto.

    Ermoupoli, Syros

    Ermoupoli, Syros

    The Venus de Milo was discovered at the amphitheatre in ancient Melos, on Milos island, a fascinating archaeological site well worth a visit. Milos has the largest number of beaches of all the Cyclades Islands, and the slow pace of life encourages you to fully utilise them. The caique (fishing boat) trips to the island’s coves and rock stacks are a real highlight – they leave from Adamas harbour every morning in summer (weather permitting). After all that sun and sea, retire to uniquely charming Milos windmill.

    Milos Windmill, Milos

    Milos windmill, Milos

    Finally there’s Folegandros, one of the smallest islands in the Cyclades. It’s little more than a lump of rock covered with fields, sprinkled with white-washed hamlets, and fringed by coves dug into the steep coastline. But what it lacks in size, it makes up for in charm – that relaxed, outdoor living, blue and white, Greek charm. Stay at stunning cliff-top hideaway, Anemomilos Apartments.

    Anemomilos Apartments, Folegandros

    Anemomilos Apartments, Folegandros

    When to go

    The best time to visit the islands is in spring (late April – May) and autumn (September – early October) when bright sunshine is pretty much a given, the sea is warm enough to swim in, and the restaurants and ferry routes are still operating. The prices tend to be slightly cheaper than summer, and you won’t be jostling for space in the baking heat. Many of the local restaurants and other tourist facilities close over the winter as the weather can get very stormy.



    Our top tip

    The best place to start your Greek odyssey is on either Santorini or Mykonos: both have international airports and direct ferry connections from the mainland. There are frequent ferry and hydrofoil connections between the two, as well as to the other smaller islands.

    See our destination guide for more information on the Cyclades and places to stay.

    Posted in Spotlight on.... Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Family Escape of the Month… Ammos Hotel

  • Set only 15 minutes from bustling Chania in Crete, friendly Ammos Hotel offers everything from attentive service and delicious food to thoughtful inclusions like flowers and kitchen equipment in each room. All this, combined with its stunning beachfront location, makes for an exquisite getaway perfectly suited to families with young children.

    Ammos Hotel

    The delightful sandy beach in front of the hotel is sheltered and has shallow waters making it safe and warm for younger paddlers. Never has a getaway felt more relaxed; Nikos, the owner, has every detail covered and the attentive yet unobtrusive service is perfect.

    Ammos Hotel

    Rooms: The 33 stylish studios and suites are surprisingly roomy and their well-conceived designs and chic features provide the perfect antidote to interiors monotony. All rooms have a kitchenette and a furnished balcony or terrace (we loved the stunning sunset views from the Sea-View Studios).

    There are plenty of options depending on your group size, from the ideal-for-couples Deluxe Sea-View Studios (with  turn-down service) to the larger, family-friendly Garden-View Suites with sitting/dining rooms that provide ample space for families of 4. On our recent visit (with in-laws in tow), we stayed in 3 adjacent Twin Garden-View Studios (numbers 35-37) which gave us plenty of room (and, importantly, privacy) throughout our stay.

    Ammos Hotel

    Food: Breakfast is a big event thanks to the beautiful dining terrace and incredible spread of food put on by Nikos and his team. It costs a little extra, but it’s well worth it for the range and indulgence of options: from your standard cereals to exciting Cretan specialities such as melomakarona (spiced honey biscuits) and small pies called kalitsounia, made with soft goats cheese and crisp filo pastry.

    The hotel’s restaurant also knows how to put on a great dinner. Specialising in typical Greek cuisine, the food was perfectly executed and kept us coming back. In fact, we visited almost every night and loved being able to relax with food and wine on the terrace while the kids happily entertained themselves below. Utter holiday bliss.

    There are plenty of dining options nearby, too. Try the local jazz bar or Pizza parlour in Kalamaki harbour (a short walk along the beach), or a take a brief taxi ride to Chania’s old town where you’ll find an abundance of atmospheric tavernas like Tammam which is housed in an old Ottoman boathouse. Don’t forget that each room has a 2-ring stove, a fridge and a kettle should you prefer to dine in the comfort of your own balcony or terrace.

    Ammos Hotel

    Kids’ activities: Ammos Hotel is superbly kid-friendly, particularly for the younger ones who are able to enjoy the sandy beach and shallow waters (as well as the kids’ pool). There’s no crèche at the hotel, but there is a playroom and occasional kids’ activities including dancing sessions, plus there’s the opportunity to hire an English-speaking babysitter (for an extra charge). The staff are great with kids and the whole hotel feels reassuringly family orientated.

    Ammos Hotel

    Baby equipment: You’ll find all the basics: High chair, baby bedding and a pram/pushchair to borrow. The hotel is very pram-friendly, so it’s wonderfully easy to get around.

     Ammos Hotel

    Customer reviews: “Just simply WOW! The best family hotel we have ever experienced!”

    Tobias, Switzerland (8.10.2013)

    Read the full review and book Ammos Hotel  >>

    Posted in Escape of the Week, Kids. Tagged , , , , , ,

Snapshots from… Copenhagen and Stockholm

  • Acting Editor Abi shares some photos from her latest trip – a week exploring the super-cool Scandi capitals of Copenhagen and Stockholm with her partner Chris.

    The main purpose of our Scandi adventure was to catch up with friends in Stockholm, but we couldn’t resist sneaking in a few days in one of our favourite cities, Copenhagen, along the way. I first visited the Danish capital at the age of 14, when I spent a week with my penfriend and her family, and I return whenever I can – not only because I love its cosmopolitan yet easy-going atmosphere, but because I’m now old enough to make the most of its fantastic bars and restaurants!

    After a quick easyJet hop across the North Sea, we landed at Kastrup airport in beautiful spring sunshine. Keen to make the most of it, we headed straight up the Rundetårn (‘Round Tower’) to watch the sunset. This working observatory looms over the city and has a unique spiral walkway in place of stairs (Peter the Great rode his horse up it in 1716, and a car is said to have driven to the top in 1902). The views out over Copenhagen’s distinctive red and green roofs are spectacular:



    Luckily for us, the clear skies lasted for the next few days – perfect for idle strolls along the harbour, where we spotted this typically Danish sight:


    Talking of the harbour, we were fortunate enough to stay right on the water at fabulous ‘boatel’ CPH Living. Few things beat lazing in bed watching ferries, kayaks and the occasional swan drift slowly past the window.


    Unsurprisingly, food and drink played a major part in our visit.  We spent several happy hours lingering over a seafood platter and a bottle of wine by the famous Nyhavn canal, soaking up the atmosphere as Copenhageners gathered around us for after-work drinks.  And, as all the bars provide blankets to snuggle under, we could sit outside shiver-free well into the evening.


    We also enjoyed some fantastic dinners at contemporary Nordic restaurants Salt (where we were treated to a tasting of different salt varieties) and Madklubben, both near the royal palace in the elegant Frederiksstaden district.  But perhaps my favourite meal was the innovative take on traditional Danish smørrebrød at deli-cum-café Aamann’s – beef sirloin with crispy onions and horseradish crème fraiche, avocado with lemon vinaigrette and cauliflower, blue cheese with hazelnut cream and pickled grapes. Delicious!


    Chris’ Copenhagen highlight was undoubtedly the flagship Lego store, which is filled with intricate models of the city. It instantly brought out his inner child, and I will be eternally grateful to low airline luggage allowances for stopping him returning home with a mountain of Star Wars Lego…


    From Copenhagen, we journeyed north to Stockholm by train, whizzing past lakes, forests and fluffy meadows dotted with quaint wooden farmhouses.


    Stockholm was altogether more wintry than Copenhagen, but we wrapped up in thick layers and headed out to explore with our friends. The city is spread over a series of islands and, despite the freezing temperatures, we were soon seduced by watery views such as these:



    Perhaps most beautiful of all was Gamla Stan, the historic heart of the city. We spent an afternoon getting pleasantly lost among its tangle of medieval alleys, before warming up with a bowl of lip-smackingly good hot chocolate at Chokladkoppen, set in one of the multi-coloured houses lining the main square, Stortorget.



    Stockholm has some top-class museums, many of them located on the leafy island of Djurgården. We couldn’t resist a peek inside the fantastically cheesy ABBA museum, but our favourite was Vasamuseet, which houses the mighty Vasa warship. The best-preserved example of its kind in the world, it sank in Stockholm harbour on its maiden voyage in 1628 and lay beneath the waves for centuries, before being returned to the surface in 1958. The huge, ghostly hulk is a jaw-dropping sight:


    We also loved Fotografiska, a world-renowned photography museum inside a converted warehouse in the trendy neighbourhood of Södermalm. The exhibitions feature many famous names (including Robert Frank when we visited), and the top-floor café-bar is lined with picture windows gazing out over the Baltic. It was here that we spent our final evening, watching the sky turn pink over a mug of coffee and a cinnamon bun. Not a bad way to end our trip!


    See our destination guides for more information on Copenhagen and Stockholm.

    Posted in Our Trips.... Tagged , , ,

Extra special discounts and treats with #WestisBest


Escape of the Week… Derwent House

  • Behind the muted Cape-Victorian façade of Derwent House is a stylish 10-room hotel (with a self-catering apartment) full of the spirit of South Africa. The jazzy, decorative interiors buzz with feel-good-factor and the garden, with its decked pool and shaded loggia, is nothing short of majestic.

    Derwent House

    It’s in a great part of Cape Town, too. Being only a short walk from the bars and restaurants of Kloof Street means there’s plenty of action on your doorstep. And the rest of the city has a huge amount on offer, from a cable car and walking tour on Table Mountain, to whale-watching, surfing and fishing on the coast. The charming owners Jo and Carol are full of wonderfully helpful recommendations and their unbridled enthusiasm for their adopted city is utterly contagious.

    Derwent House

    Rooms: The guest rooms are classified, rather accurately, as either ‘Beautiful’ or ‘Fabulous’ and while the former offers a little more space, both roomtypes are extremely comfortable and contain all the bright accents so symptomatic of Derwent House’s distinctive design. Some rooms have stunning views of the iconic Table Mountain (we could see it from our room’s bathtub) and Room 10 even has a private deck. The design is clean and minimal with a full quotient of modern devices (think flatscreen TVs, iPod docks and 24-hour WiFi), but the South African spirit is still alive and well with huge Xhosa paintings and bright signed prints of Mandela’s Robben Island sketches.

    Slightly set away from the building is a self-catering apartment perfect for a family of 4 (with young children) or a group of 3 adults. Its spacious, open-plan arrangement keeps things homely, but the best bit for us was the night time views of the Cape Town skyline.

    Derwent House

    Food: The magic word for breakfasts at Derwent House is ‘choice’. Whatever you choose from the huge buffet and menu (and whether you choose it eat in the dining room, on the veranda or under the citrus trees by the pool), you’re sure to never get bored. We indulged in the smoked haddock and scrambled eggs, though we were equally tempted by the huge fruit salad and homemade muesli.

    You’ll have to venture out for dinner, but Cape Town is a vibrant city of increasingly diverse cuisines – many of which can be found a mere stone’s throw away in Kloof Street. Jo and Carol made some great suggestions and we were chuffed with the hearty Mozambique stew we found at Tonis. However, if you can’t bring yourself to leave the pool-side, Jo and Carol are happy to set up a table for you to enjoy a takeaway al fresco.

    The separate apartment has a fully equipped kitchen and its rates exclude breakfast, though you can opt in for a small additional charge, and you’ll always have access to the well-stocked honesty bar.

    Derwent House

    When to go: With its mostly mild climate and so much happening in the city, you’re guaranteed a great stay at any time of year. The busiest months are those of the South African late spring and summer (November-March). Come earlier if you’re keen to whale-watch and at any time from March-November if you don’t mind the occasional spot of rain or wind (although the temperature will be much lower).

    Derwent House

    i-escape guest review: “An absolutely lovely place, the staff were so friendly and helpful. It really did feel like home from home and the breakfasts were delicious. We really were sad to leave.”

    Laura, United Kingdom (09.12.12)

    i-escape gift:  a free bottle of wine

    Read the full review and book  >>

    Posted in Escape of the Week. Tagged , , ,

Win a Berlin break & £500 ASOS spree with #ShareMiles

  • It’s competition time! We’ve teamed up with our friends at ASOS to offer a luxury getaway to uber-chic Berlin hotel Linnen and a stylish holiday wardrobe to boot! The more #ShareMiles snaps posted on Instagram, the more prizes will be won!


    Chilled and stylish, Linnen is the perfect microcosm of trendsetting Berlin. Rooms are a hotchpotch of quirky 20th-century vintage furnishings and warm tones accented with flashes of sky blue or hot pink. We loved the downstairs café-cum-reception which felt more like a private living room, with large leather sofas and delicious organic coffee.


    Berlin is the city for cool café culture, urban art and trendy nightlife, and Prenzlauer Berg is within striking distance of it all. We enjoy nothing more than spending the day scouring flea markets and independent boutiques, before indulging in cocktails and cool new music as night falls at some of Europe’s coolest bars and clubs.


    How to Enter: Head to Instagram, make sure you follow @asos and @iescapehotels, then simply tag or upload a holiday snap with #ShareMiles. The more #ShareMiles is used, the more you stand to win!

    The prizes

    50 #ShareMiles = a heaving beauty goodie bag

    150 #ShareMiles = a £100 getaway wardrobe

    250 #ShareMiles = a £250 getaway wardrobe

    And 500 #ShareMiles = a 3-night luxury getaway at Linnen and a £500 ASOS getaway wardrobe!

    For more information and all the T&Cs, take a look on the ASOS website >>

    i-escape & ASOS

    Posted in Competitions. Tagged , , , ,

Nadine’s top 10 new family-friendly hotels

  • We’ve had a flurry of new properties joining our portfolio recently, so we thought it was about time we highlighted 10 of the best additions for families – as chosen by our Kids Collection Editor, Nadine.

    St Mawes Hideaways, Cornwall, UK

    St Mawes Hideaways

    With close proximity to sandy beaches and a wonderful setting overlooking one of Cornwall’s prettiest coastal villages, these four lavishly renovated, spacious self-catering houses will delight families of all sizes. For kids there are trampolines, ping-pong tables, dedicated TV rooms and dressing up boxes; for parents there are spoiling indulgences such as fresh flowers, Cornish hampers, wine fridges and concierge services.

    Country Kids, Languedoc, France

    Country Kids

    The hospitable owners of this former farm go more than the extra mile to welcome families in their 7 self-catering apartments. You get welcome baskets, gourmet teas, and – best of all – an unlimited crèche (from 3 months) as well as an adventurous kids’ club (seasonal), plus twice-weekly babysitting. There’s heaps of baby and toddler equipment, plus a petting farm, tractor rides and two family-friendly pools. Paradise.

    Locanda Rossa, Tuscany, Italy

    Locanda Rossa

    Set close to the coast in the beautiful Maremma region, this traditional farmhouse and its outbuildings have been converted into a hotel and four apartments with private gardens, ideal for families. There’s a Slow Food restaurant, a relaxed vibe, a heated pool (plus a separate infant pool), a playground and a mini-football pitch.

    Ekies All Senses Resort, Chalkidiki, Greece

    Ekies All Senses Resort

    Kids of all ages will have fun at this playful beachside resort set on a safe, tranquil bay with warm, shallow seas. There’s an organic juice bar, a heated saltwater pool, a tree house, a holistic spa, hammocks, a library with toys and games, a playground with swings and a playhouse.

    Saanewald Lodge, near Gstaad, Switzerland

    Saanewald Lodge

    Whether it’s skiing in winter or hiking and biking in summer, families will have a blast at this refurbished 1960s mountain lodge. Half-board rates provide the best value, and the restaurant offers tasty local food and a kids’ menu. Kids under 9 ski for free, and there’s a playroom with a PlayStation, games and DVDs.

    Palazzo Radomiri, Kotor Bay, Montenegro

    Palazzo Radomiri

    This good-value waterfront palazzo is in a tranquil, pretty village just 4km from historic Kotor, and just over an hour’s drive from Dubrovnik, Croatia. Outdoorsy children will enjoy cycling along the bay, kayaking, and diving into the aquamarine waters from the hotel’s own jetty. There’s a Med-Balkan fusion restaurant and a large pool, plus family suites with sea views.

    Apartment 43, Jerez, Spain

    Apartment 43

    If you’re after a stylish family city break, this light-filled, Zen-styled apartment fits the bill. Just yards from Jerez’s historic centre, it has two bedrooms and a sofabed, as well as a wonderful open-plan kitchen for whipping up meals with produce from the local market. Although the steep staircase means it’s not suitable for toddlers, the rooms can be flexibly configured and there are DVDs, puzzles and books for children.

    Le Portetta, Courchevel, France

    Le Portetta

    This chic ski-in, ski-out hotel is in the least flashy of the Trois Vallées resorts – Courchevel 1650. The slopes are wider and less crowded than most, making them perfect for beginners and children – there’s even a kids’ ski school just opposite - and there’s mountain biking, kayaking, archery and zip-lining in summer. Le Portetta has family rooms as well as lofts and lodges where you can self-cater, plus there’s a kids’ menu in the restaurant. After a busy day, entertain the little ones with games and DVDs for all ages.

    Bivouac, North Yorkshire, UK


    These quirky woodland shacks and meadow yurts provide ideal off-grid glamping for families wanting to get back to nature. Organised activities for children include pottery painting, nature walks, craft workshops and foraging, and there are mountain bikes to hire. The cafe has a kids’ menu and a play area with swings, too.

    Forsyth Lodge, Madhya Pradesh, India

    Forsyth Lodge

    On the edge of the under-visited Satpura National Park, which offers the chance to spot the elusive tiger and many other species, is this wonderful lodge complete with eco-pool, superb service and delicious dinners. The team of passionate naturalists are eager to share their knowledge and the 3-day Junior Rangers Programme teaches kids how to identify and track different animals. There’s also a butterfly garden and star-gazing at night. Brilliant.

    Browse our Kids collection for more great places to stay as a family >>

    Posted in Kids, Top 10. Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Escape of the Week… Dovecote View

  • Set in the heart of deepest Somerset, Dovecote View in Bruton is the perfect self-catering getaway for a couple (or two couples) seeking bucolic tranquillity in refined surroundings. The quirky, homely interiors and fabulous country kitchen will have you kicking back and lusting after The Good Life in no time.

    Dovecote View

    With Longleat and Stourhead nearby, and the imminent arrival of international art gallery Hauser and Wirth, you’re spoilt for choice for cultural excursions. The local food and drink scene is also not to be missed, if you can bear to prise yourself away from this sumptuous home-from-home.

    Dovecote View

    Rooms: The envy-inducing décor reflects the creativity of owner and art director Lucy, and her film-industry husband Marcus. We loved the quirky art, folksy cushions and eclectic arrangement of old portraits and mirrors dotted around the house. The two bedrooms differ dramatically in style. The master is a light-filled space with a central kingsize bed placed to make the most of the double-height window’s views towards Bruton Dovecote (the house’s namesake). There’s a freestanding tub at the foot of the bed and luxurious little details like crisp-white linens and twin basins. The second bedroom feels wonderfully snug with petrol-blue walls and warm lighting, as well as a cast-iron fireplace, vintage books above the double bed, and a walk-in rain shower.

    Dovecote View

    Food: The kitchen has everything you need to prepare a big, hearty meal (cookbooks included) and we really liked the open-plan design and sociable long table (there’s a small table on the patio for alfresco dining, too). There are a couple of shops nearby, basics in the cupboards, and you can arrange for food to be ready and waiting for your arrival (extra charge). Book through i-escape and you’ll also be treated to a bottle of Prosecco or a stash of local goodies (just-baked bread, a truckle of Cheddar, chocolates, Bath Ales beer), depending on the duration of your stay. Be sure to check out the Charlton Musgrove and Kilver Court farm shops for a selection of local cheeses, meats and other produce.

    Although Bruton is a small market town, we found plenty  to keep our curious taste buds entertained. At its heart is At the Chapel, a converted church that now contains a pizzeria, a wine merchant and a bakery. We made the most of the glamorous cocktail bar and spent an afternoon working our way through the tempting menu.

    Dovecote View

    Top Tip: Rummage for bargains at the huge antique and flea markets at the Bath & West Showground (normally the third and fourth weekends of the month respectively) – we picked up vintage crockery, an Edwardian mirror and recycled-glass vases, all at great prices.

    Dovecote View

    i-escape gift: Local cider and cheese (for stays of 3+ nights) or a range of local produce (for stays of 7+ nights).

    Read the full review and book  >>

    Posted in Escape of the Week. Tagged , , , ,

Snapshots from… Zanzibar

  • In our latest snapshots instalment, Marketing Manager Sarah shares some pics from her trip to the tropical island of Zanzibar, which sits just off the coast of Tanzania in East Africa. One of the most exciting dive areas in the world, Zanzibar has plenty on offer for land lovers, too – including some of the longest, whitest and most idyllic beaches we’ve seen.

    Our first port of call was heavenly island hideaway Fumba Beach Lodge. We arrived after a 5-day safari in Selous Game Reserve, so our main priority was to relax, relax… relaaaax.  We dumped our bags in our room and headed straight to the palm-fringed pool to take in the first of our many sunsets on this enchanting shore.

    Fumba has its own dhow (a traditional wooden sailboat) and organises lots of scuba-diving and snorkelling trips to the amazing coral reef – you might even spot a dolphin or two if you’re lucky! Our favourite was a picnic trip to a small, uninhabited island that we had all to ourselves!

    One of the things we loved about Fumba was the variety of cool little places to soak up the surroundings: viewing platforms scattered with cushions, hammocks swaying from palm trees, and wooden steps leading up around an ancient Baobab tree where bush babies scamper in the evenings.


    Our next stop was quite possibly my favourite place in the entire world. Fundu Lagoon is one of only 5 hotels on the small island of Pemba, just off the north coast of Zanzibar. It’s wonderfully remote, and we arrived via speedboat with the wind in our hair and big grins on our faces.

    The 18 tented Afro-chic rooms at Fundu Lagoon are all utterly gorgeous. We plumped for the Hillside Suite, which has its own thatched chill-out area and a small plunge pool.  Take me back!

    The jetty bar is the ultimate sundowner spot.  At around 6pm everyone saunters here barefoot to grab a G&T and watch the sun sink down in all its glory. By our first evening we were already hatching plans on how never to leave – did they need a couple of slightly tipsy skivvies, or should we set up our own camp in the nearby jungle?

    Our final port of call was one of the most beautiful coral parks in the world - Chumbe Island Coral Park. There are just 7 eco-bandas on the whole island, each with one of these distinctive parabolic wood-and-thatch roofs.

    The sublime seafood on offer, coupled with friendly staff who wholeheartedly encourage you to go back for seconds and even thirds, ensured we went home more than a few pounds heavier than we arrived!

    After dinner, we waddled to the nearby forest to get a glimpse of the rare coconut crabs that live on the island.  Apparently they can break coconuts with their claws. Needless to say, I didn’t get too close.

    On our last day we climbed up to the top of the old lighthouse to catch this awesome view of the bandas below. Magical.

    See our destination guide for more information on Tanzania and where to stay.

    Posted in Our Trips.... Tagged , , , ,