MAR09

Escape of the Week… York & Albany

 
  • A sleek, refined hotel and restaurant may seem a little idiosyncratic in trendy Camden, but this boutique London base from Gordon Ramsay has all the right ingredients.

    York & Albany

    From the first-rate service to the elegant rooms to the fantastic location opposite Regent’s Park, York & Albany has nailed the recipe for succes. The restaurant is its heart, but the guest rooms are far from incidental; in fact, the gorgeous suite is one of our favourite rooms in London.

    York & Albany

    Rooms: With only 9 bedrooms, York & Albany has an intimate feel – something enhanced by the quirky and bespoke design, which features antique furniture and period prints. There’s nothing stuffy here, though: rooms come with all the mod cons, including iPod docks, DVD players, and fluffy robes and slippers. We loved our Deluxe Room with its park view and grand furnishings, but if you’re looking for a real treat, you can’t beat the sprawling suite.

    York & Albany

    Food: When a hotel and restaurant are established by Gordon Ramsay, you’re going to have high expectations of the food. Luckily, York & Albany’s relaxed and buzzy restaurant doesn’t disappoint. It’s an accessible fine-dining experience, with none of the frills and pomp of Michelin-starred cuisine. You’ll be treated to good, honest grub presented simply and served with aplomb – think steak, duck, charcuterie and other pub favourites, all executed exquisitely. 

    York & Albany

    Author’s tip: Bring comfortable shoes and walk wherever you can (you’re only 20 minutes from the West End). You’ll save a fortune in cab and Tube fares, and get a much better insight into this fascinating corner of London.

    York & Albany

    Customer Review: “The York & Albany is a lovely small hotel with an exceptional bunch of friendly staff who really offer a personal touch. The rooms are great and have everything you need, even offering limited views of Regent’s Park. The hotel is ideally situated near Camden Town tube station – which is about 10 minutes’ walk away. Highly recommend! We’re looking forward to visiting again soon!”
    Joe, United Kingdom (04.09.14)

    Read the full review and book  >>

    Posted in Escape of the Week. Tagged , ,
MAR06

Meet our Bloggers: Lucy of Dear Beautiful

 
  • lucydbdWe recently kick-started the introductions to our new team of i-escape bloggers with Fritha from TigerlillyQuinn. This week, we’re saying hello to Lucy from the lovely Dear Beautiful, one of the small selection of fantastic family and lifestyle bloggers who will be joining us to explore the i-escape Kids Collection and bring you the scoop on some boutique gems.

     

     

    Your blog in one sentence…

    “The story of a young family who love having adventures, making memories and living their own happily ever after.”

    Dear Beautiful

    Dear Beautiful

    What kicked it all off?

    “Blogging for me started as a way to record what my little boy got up to as a baby. Being a new mum was an amazing, all-encompassing experience and I wanted to remember every second of it. The blog has grown as our family has grown, with the addition of a little sister for our son. And it has always been about us finding our way and enjoying life to the full as a family…. and taking far too many photographs!”

    When picking a break, what are the top three things you look for in a destination?

    “Beautiful places to look at are always top of my list – be that man-made or natural, bright and colourful or muted and simple. I’m drawn to beautiful things. Water would always come pretty high up the list for us as a family, too. We absolutely adore the beach, whatever the time of the year. And we’re water babies, so if we can swim then even better. I’d also say that we love finding a hidden gem – quiet places off the beaten track, amazing little food spots, unknown beauty spots. We love the hustle and bustle of adventuring, but if we can find something special and unique then even better.”

    Dear Beautiful

    Dear Beautiful

    What destination is high on your hitlist for 2015?

    “This year is all about adventures for us, and we are so excited about discovering more of this great wide world of ours. High up on our wishlist is to take the children on their first aeroplane flight. We definitely have Cornwall in our sights, too; as such beach-lovers, it feels like a total crime that we haven’t been there before!”

    If you could pack your bags for any i-escape hotel, where would you go?

    Culloden Cove in Jamaica. It looks like absolute paradise, with the privacy of your own infinity pool, and hammocks swinging in the sea breeze above your own bit of beach. Total heaven.”

    Culloden Cove

    Culloden Cove

    If you could only visit one country for the rest of your life, which would you choose?

    “It would have to be the USA. It’s so huge that I don’t think you could ever run out of places to visit. Plus there is so much variety. With the mountains of Alaska, the bright lights of New York City, the chilled-out vibe of Key West, the history and culture of Washington DC, the fall in New England, the beautiful Californian coast, the chance to drive Route 66… I don’t think it’s somewhere that I could ever get bored of.”

    What’s your earliest travel memory?

    “I was lucky to get to travel quite a bit as a child, and our first ever trip to Orlando stands out as a highlight. When we were on honeymoon in Cuba, we visited an amazing beach called Pilar Beach, which is one of the most stunning places I’ve ever been. And my favourite travel memory with the children would have to be when we went to Pembrokeshire last year – we totally fell in love with that beautiful coastline.”

    Dear Beautiful

    Dear Beautiful

    What’re the essential items in your suitcase?

    “My cameras, for making lots of videos and taking lots of photos. And plenty of spare memory cards.”

    Any top tips for stress-free travel with the kids?

    “Don’t assume that children only want to do ‘children-specific’ things. My kids have had great days out ignoring the soft play area in favour of exploring somewhere new and trying different things. And take things that make them happy. We never travel without a couple of their special bedtime toys so that they can go off to sleep with that familiarity.”

    Take a look at Lucy’s blog or read our Q&A with Fritha of TigerlillyQuinn

    Posted in Family Travel, Guest Blogs, Kids. Tagged , ,
MAR04

Family-friendly getaways with Easter availability

 
  • Longer days and warmer weather are just around the corner! And it’s high time we set forth on our own spring migration. Here are our top 10 enticing Easter getaways from our extensive Kids Collection of nearly 900 hotels, villas, apartments and B&Bs, as chosen by Editor Nadine. Safe travels!

    Calcot Manor, Cotswolds, UK

    Calcot Manor

    This spoiling country hotel is a magical treat for parents and children alike. There’s a heated indoor pool, and an excellent Playzone with activities for children up to 16 (including crafts, cookery and cinema screenings). The Mez is an emporium of entertainment (Wii, PlayStations), plus there are 220 acres of grounds to explore. There is a pub-style inn as well as a candlelit conservatory for grown-up meals (staff can arrange babysitting, and baby monitors are provided in all family rooms and suites). There’s a packed programme of activities on offer over Easter including a bonnet making session, nature walk, egg hunt, Easter Nest and biscuits, photo hunt, den building, giant games and nature quiz.

    Kasbah Tamadot, Atlas, Morocco

    Kasbah Tamadot

    You’ll be blown away by the breathtaking mountain vistas which surround this hilltop kasbah. And you’ll be left struggling for superlatives after sampling its many charms, which include superb cuisine, heavenly rooms and gorgeous landscaped gardens. Usually an adults-only retreat, it warmly welcomes families during school holidays, and the Kasbah Kids programme offers enchantments such Moroccan cookery lessons, treasure hunts and tea parties, and resident mules, camels and donkeys to befriend. There’s a choice of swimming pools, and children stay for free.

    Eleonas, Crete, Greece

    Eleonas

    Book a stay of 5 nights or more at these charming mountain cottages for 2-6 before 31 March and you’ll get a 15% discount on the already-reasonable rates, including over the Easter holidays. You get cool and cosy interiors, private terraces, a lovely pool, and a taverna specialising in Cretan home cooking. Eleonas is close to beaches and a lake, with farm animals to feed and horse riding nearby. A playground and playroom, a football pitch and table tennis are all available on site.

    Palazzo Radomiri, Kotor Bay, Montenegro

    Palazzo Radomiri

    Montenegro is very much a destination still on the up, and many have yet to discover the delights of Kotor Bay – a deep inlet on the Adriatic, whose shores stretch for 100km. Base yourself at this waterfront palazzo, which reopens for Easter after its winter break. It offers an Easter-egg hunt for the kids, along with a bottle of wine and Easter cake for lunch in its alfresco restaurant (which also has a kids’ menu). Outdoorsy families will love the area with its national parks and soaring views.

    Luna Nueva Lodge, Arenal region, Costa Rica

    Luna Nueva Lodge

    Holidaying on a biodynamic farm near a volcano, in primary rainforest, is certain to excite everyone in the family. This lovely lodge also provides a great educational insight into the local ecosystem, plus wonderful organic food, a spring-water swimming pool, a solar-heated hot tub, farm animals to pet, and guided jungle treks. This Easter it’s also offering 10% off its rates when booking through i-escape.

    Fiskardo Cottages, Kefalonia, Greece

    Fiskardo Cottages

    The Ionian Islands are synonymous with romance yet also work brilliantly for a family holiday. One of our favourites is Kefalonia, which has wonderful mountain scenery, a gorgeous coastline, unspoilt beaches, and tranquil olive and cypress groves. Close to a quiet hamlet in the north of the island, in terraced gardens with a swimming pool, this pair of self-catering cottages has been beautifully restored, with smart modern kitchens. They sleep 2-4 and 4-6, with a 10% discount for bookings through April and May, so take both for an extended family holiday.

    Monteverdi, Tuscany, Italy

    Monteverdi

    This medieval hamlet in the heart of rural Tuscany has been meticulously restored into a gorgeous hotel with a great restaurant and a trio of stylish villas with full kitchens (sleeping 4-12 apiece). It caters for romantics and families alike, and over Easter there’s a big brunch plus an egg hunt for the kids. While here you can also roam the gardens, cycle local lanes, and explore authentic markets and villages nearby. Although it’s not the cheapest place to stay in the region, the prices reflect the quality of the restoration and kids stay for free.

    Yab Yum Resort, North Goa, India

    Yab Yum Resort

    Quirky is the term most used to describe this cluster of playful dome-shaped beach shacks, set in fairy-lit coconut-palm gardens just back from the silky white strand of Ashvem Beach. We love it for its great-value accommodation, easy-going peace, organic breakfasts and paddling pools, and the yoga shala next to the beach. This Easter all i-escape guests will receive a free bottle of wine AND a free private 90-minute yoga class with resident instructor Kristyn per booking (kids can join in, too). Yum indeed!

    Le Castel, Normandy, France

    Le Castel

    The big draw of this 19th-century chateau, apart from its spacious 2-bedroom suites and idyllic grounds, is the house-party atmosphere which makes all families feel instantly at home. Owner Jon has set it all up to be effortless fun, with convivial evening feasts and separate kids’ suppers at 5pm, plus a woodland den, a sandpit, swings and a communal library. For Easter there’s a daily egg hunt, as well as Bucks Fizz breakfasts for adults.

    Fellah Hotel, near Marrakech, Morocco

    Fellah Hotel

    Just 13km outside the medina is this unique and colourful haven, consisting of chic rooms, a working mini-farm, and wonderful landscaped grounds which include a treehouse, an old yellow Mercedes and a volleyball court. During school holidays there are specialised kids’ workshops themed around cooking and local culture, too. Book now for a great 25% discount on the ‘Family Escape’ package.

    Check out all of our family-friendly boltholes with Easter availability >>

    Posted in Family Travel, Kids, Top 10. Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,
MAR02

Escape of the Week… Casa Camper Berlin

 
  • From a Spanish shoe manufacturer based in Mallorca to a distinctive and formidable hotelier, Camper has certainly come a long way. Its most recent addition is this sleek and central Berlin base with a superlative restaurant, set in the vibrant Mitte district. It’s clear these shoes were made for walking.

    Casa Camper Berlin

    Casa Camper Berlin effortlessly combines minimalist chic with a down-to-earth vibe and intelligent comfort. It’s popular with a mix of guests, from cool clubbers to iPhone-toting businessmen, all busy enjoying the wonderful Tentempie Lounge – the hub of the hotel, where you’ll  find free snacks and drinks at any time of the day (or night).

    Casa Camper Berlin

    Rooms: The 51 rooms are pretty uniform: expect wooden floors, wine-red walls and simple, stylish furnishing. The only differences come in the size and, although none are small, the Suites are twice as big as other rooms and have a proper seating area. We suggest opting for one of the rooms on the fifth or sixth floors, which benefit from some gorgeous views over the rooftops of Berlin.

    Casa Camper Berlin

    Food: Casa Camper will certainly endeavour to keep you full. Start the day with a hearty breakfast (in bed, if you want) and then book into the hotel’s restaurant, Dos Palillos, in the evening. Its stupendous Asian-inspired tapas (the chef previously worked at world-renowned Catalan restaurant El Bulli) is a firm favourite among the hip Mitte crowd, so be sure to book ahead. Between these two culinary bookends, you can wander up to the top-floor lounge for free snacks with a view.

    Casa Camper Berlin

    When to go: There is enough in Berlin to keep you busy for weeks, but Casa Camper is an excellent base for a short trip or weekend break, as many must-see sights are within walking distance.

    Casa Camper Berlin

    Customer Review: “We were thrilled with our stay at Casa Camper. Everything worked about the hotel – the location was perfect (we walked almost everywhere), the price was right, and the hotel was excellent value.”

    Beth, Canada (07.08.14)

    Read the full review and book  >>

    Posted in Escape of the Week. Tagged , , , , ,
FEB27

Just Back From… Vietnam

 
  • i-escape’s co-founder and director Laila spent Christmas and New Year in Vietnam with her husband and 2 teenage boys. Here she shares some of her favourite experiences and holiday snaps with you.

    Riding with locals in Ho Chi Minh City

    Ho Chi Minh City

    Ho Chi Minh City

    Ho Chi Minh City – or Saigon – is known as the motorbike capital of the world. With over 4 million scooters and bikes in the city, they rule the roads (and pavements) in all directions. They’re piled high with everything and anything – entire families are transported on the back, side and front of these nippy 2-wheelers.

    Scooters in Saigon

    Scooters in Saigon

    To get under the skin of this crazy, bustling city, we spent an amazing (but hair-raising!) day exploring from the back of vintage Vespas driven by knowledgeable locals. We not only saw the famous sights, but also visited hidden temples and markets, drove down tiny back lanes and alleyways, checked out a traditional herbal-medicine shop, and stopped for some lotus-tea refreshment.

    Hotel Majestic

    Hotel Majestic

    Our base in Ho Chi Minh City was the stunning Hotel Majestic– a grand hotel built in 1925. It has maintained much of its opulence, and there’s nothing quite like enjoying a sundown cocktail at the rooftop bar looking out over the Saigon River.

    Chillaxing on Phu Quoc island

    Mango Bay on Phu Quoc Island

    Mango Bay on Phu Quoc Island

    Just a 50-minute flight from Ho Chi Minh, secluded eco-escape Mango Bay on Phu Quoc was the perfect place to spend Christmas and relax. There was something for everyone at this gorgeous jungle-hut-feel retreat – the beach and watersports for the boys, an amazing spa centre for my husband, and daily yoga classes by the sea for me, as well as great food and a wonderful beach bar where everyone could meet up and chill out.

    Mango Bay

    Mango Bay

    I particularly liked the hotel’s brand-new 2-storey Bay View Villas, with their large terraces and amazing sea views.

    Cruising Halong Bay

    Halong Bay

    Halong Bay

    We spent a magical couple of days on board a traditional junk boat in Halong Bay, a UNESCO site and one of Vietnam’s most spectacular natural wonders. Seeing the breathtaking limestone islands jutting sharply out of the water was a highlight that we’ll never forget, as were visiting floating villages, kayaking through limestone tunnels, swimming in emerald-green water, learning to cook some traditional Vietnamese dishes and doing Tai Chi at dawn.

    Cruise Halong

    Cruise Halong

    There’s nothing quite like a stay on Cruise Halong.  Don’t miss sunrise from the top of the deck – well worth getting up for!

    Take a look at all of our Vietnam hotels here >>

    Posted in Our Trips.... Tagged , , , , ,
FEB25

Easy Escapes for March

 
  • This month we’re craving vibrant cities rich with exciting festivities, beautiful architecture and plenty to see and do. Whether it’s an easy hop from home, a little added warmth in the Adriatic or a full-on adventure across the pond, our hassle-free suggestions are perfect for an easy March jaunt.

    No need to thank us; all you have to do is book*. Secure your accommodation through i-escape, then follow our recommendations for travel, and voila! It’s time to start packing.

    Go green in Bristol – £145 per person (2 nights, 26-28 March 2015)

    Bristol

    Bristol

    With Bristol being the European Green Capital 2015, this year sees a whole host of creative and environmentally informative events taking place across the West Country’s largest urban stronghold. Discover the excellent city farms, eat ethically at an independent eatery, or take a bicycle tour around the streets – it was also placed in the world’s top 10 bicycle-friendly cities in 2013!

    Number Thirty Eight

    Number Thirty Eight

    Stay: at Number Thirty Eight, a hilltop townhouse hotel where Farrow & Ball shades give nautical panelling a luxe edge, and sash windows open over the undulating Downs or twinkling cityscape. It’s quintessentially Bristol. A 2-night stay in a Superior House Room with tub comes to £145 per person, including taxes.

    Total cost: £145 per person, including taxes.

    More info: Getting to Bristol and other local accommodation options.

    Sight-see in Dubrovnik – £449.50 per person (4 nights, 9-13 March 2015)

    Dubrovnik © Michael Phillip

    Dubrovnik © Michael Phillip

    As anticipation for the next season of Game of Thrones reaches fever pitch, see the real King’s Landing with a visit to Dubrovnik’s beautiful pedestrianized Old Town. The cobbled streets are delightfully devoid of tourists at this time of year, allowing you to discover its fascinating history, atmospheric architecture and tempting culinary treats in relative peace.

    St Joseph's

    St Joseph’s

    Stay: at bijou St Joseph’s, tucked away in the heart of the Old Town and new to i-escape! Despite the central location its romantic suites are surprisingly peaceful, and the gracious hosts are happy to share their invaluable local knowledge with you. The hotel is offering a 10% discount throughout March, making a 4-night stay in a Deluxe Queen Suite just £262.50 per person, including taxes.

    Fly: from London Gatwick to Dubrovnik with British Airways for £166 per person, departing Monday 9 March and returning Friday 13 March.

    From the airport: Skip hiring a car and make use of the hassle-free hotel transfers, which cost £21 per car (one way).

    Total cost: £449.50 per person, including taxes.

    More info: Getting to Dubrovnik and other accommodation options.

    Party in Miami – from £1,303.50 per person (7 nights, 21-28 March 2015)

    Miami

    Miami

    Miami Beach is in the mood to celebrate, so it’s time to join the party! 2015 sees its centennial and a whole host of fun is planned to mark the occasion. Don’t miss the week-long 100 Hour Centennial Celebration in March, with live music, a tennis exhibition and even an en-masse wedding!

    Metropolitan by COMO Miami Beach

    Metropolitan by COMO Miami Beach

    Stay: at Metropolitan by COMO Miami Beach, a contemporary take on an Art Deco classic and another new addition to our collection! As it’s a COMO hotel, you’ll get a world-class spa, irresistible food and faultless service, plus you’re right on a swathe of beautiful beach. A 7-night stay in a City Room starts from £549.50 per person (excluding taxes). Make use of their 21-Day Advance Purchase rate and/or 4-nights-for-3 offer to ensure you get great value. Please note, rates may rise according to demand.

    Fly: from London Heathrow to Miami International with British Airways for £729 per person, departing Saturday 21 March and returning Saturday 28 March (overnight flight arriving Sunday 29 March).

    From the airport: Keep it simple and take a taxi (approximately £25 one way), then cycle around once you’re at the beach!

    Total cost: from £1,303.50 per person, excluding some taxes.

    More info: Getting to Miami and other accommodation options

    *Please note that only the accommodation may be booked through i-escape.com. The information on travel is provided as a service to you, and must be booked through other websites, as indicated. All prices and availability are correct at the time of publishing. The per person prices are based on 2 people in a double/twin room or an apartment for 2. Published on 25 February 2015.

    Posted in Easy Escapes. Tagged , , , , , , , ,
FEB23

Escape of the Week… Cider House

 
  • Our new Escape of the Week does pastoral bliss like nowhere else. Folded into a tree-lined valley on the edge of Dartmoor, this 4-bedroom B&B is the most recent incarnation of Sir Francis Drake’s old cider house and still retains the feeling of rural serenity that first attracted Cistercian monks to the abbey next door many centuries ago.

    Cider House

    Cider House may be high on the relaxation scale (something helped by wonderful hosts Bertie and Bryony), but its location on the edge of Dartmoor, not far from the English Riviera, means it’s also a great base for getting out and about. That’s if you can remove yourself from the stunning grounds and halls of illustrious neighbour Buckland Abbey – it has a Rembrandt, don’t you know?

    Cider House

    Rooms: The 4 rooms are all spotless and elegant, with carefully chosen furnishings and a good use of space. Each features a statement wall of ornate paper, and huge beds with Hypnos mattresses are wrapped in crisp Egyptian cotton sheets. Expect the same detailed luxury in the bathrooms, where you’ll find Ren toiletries, cosy robes, double-ended roll-top baths (with the exception of Langworthy) and pin-you-to-the-floor-powerful showers.

    Cider House

    Food: The kitchen garden, sprinkling of beehives and cluck of hens all provide ingredients for the delicious breakfasts that await in the morning. Expect plenty of home-cooked and local fare (apple juice from the orchard, homemade bread, Groats pudding) to gorge on in the pretty dining room. You’ll have to venture out for dinner, but there are a number of characterful pubs in the surrounding countryside, including the welcoming Who’d Have Thought it? in the next village.

    Cider House

    Top Tip: If you’re looking for a truly spoiling meal, try Michelin-starred The Treby Arms, or visit one of the many seafood restaurants offering a gastronomic perspective of the English Riviera.

    Cider House

    i-escape gift: a gift of homemade fudge and free entry to Buckland Abbey.

    Read the full review and book  >>

    Posted in Escape of the Week. Tagged , , ,
FEB20

Meet our bloggers: Fritha of TigerlillyQuinn

 
  • blog profileWe’re delighted to announce that over the next year we’ll be collaborating with a small selection of fantastic family and lifestyle bloggers, who will be joining us to explore the i-escape Kids Collection and bring you the scoop on some boutique gems. Over the next few weeks we’ll reveal a little more about them here. First up, let us introduce you to Fritha of tigerlillyquinn

     

    Your blog in one sentence…

    The lifestyle blog of a twenty-something mum to a small boy named Wilf, and wife to a bearded husband named Tom.

    tigerlillyquinn

    tigerlillyquinn

    What kicked it all off?

    I started to blog a year or so after I graduated from university. I’d been trying to get a job in illustration and was told a blog would be a good place to show my work and interact with other creatives. It then evolved over the years into a lifestyle-ish blog and then, after I had Wilf, into a family lifestyle blog. I’ve been blogging now for almost six years!

    When picking a break, what are the top three things you look for in a destination?

    I am a big fan of colour and design, so I always look into a destination to see if it will fit with the type of aesthetics we enjoy. We tend to go for city breaks mostly, because we feel cities usually have colour in abundance and there is always so much to discover. We don’t drive so we tend to pick places that are very accessible by public transport. And checking whether the accommodation is child-friendly is always a must; it’s always so much easier to relax if a place is set up to welcome children.

    Amsterdam - tigerlillyquinn

    Amsterdam – tigerlillyquinn

    What destination is high on your hitlist for 2015?

    I’d love to visit Rome as it’s somewhere I’ve wanted to go to for a while now. In fact, I’ve never been to Italy at all – something I’d like to rectify this year.

    If you could pack your bags for any i-escape hotel, where would you go?

    Soho House in New York would be amazing. Or The Farm in Jaipur!

    Soho House New York

    Soho House New York

    If you could only visit one country for the rest of your life, which would you choose?

    Ooh, that’s such a tough question! Probably France as I’m a bit of a Francophile, but I should choose a bigger country like the US if I’m only going to be able to visit one for the rest of my life! It’s so vast and so different depending on where you go.

    What’s your earliest travel memory?

    My family moved around quite a lot and loved to travel in quite a bohemian way. I think my first travel memory was camping in Spain with my parents and older brother – we were there for six weeks and I clearly remember hanging out the washing and collecting water from a tap in a field to carry back!

    Lapland - tigerlillyquinn

    Lapland – tigerlillyquinn

    What’s the essential item in your suitcase?

    My camera. I would feel like I’d lost a limb if I left it behind. We took a day trip once and I left it at home by mistake – it took a while to get used to appreciating everything while I was there, rather than trying to record it.

    Any top tips for stress-free travel with the kids?

    Always make sure you have an activity bag with you for the journey, especially if you’re on a long flight where they’ll have to sit still for a while. I try to include toys Wilf might not have played with in a while (so they feel ‘new’ to him), as well as crayons and paper, a children’s magazine, and a tablet full of kids’ apps for when boredom really kicks in! In general though, I find travelling with my son a pleasure. He’s often better behaved when we’re away, as I think we’re a little more relaxed and there is so much to see and do!

    Take a look at Fritha’s blog >>

    Posted in Guest Blogs, Kids, Travel Tips. Tagged , , , ,
FEB18

New budget beauties

 
  • We’ve had a busy few months hunting down some top new boutique stays across the globe, and we thought it was time to share our favourites with you. Here are our latest budget boltholes (that’s just one ‘£’ on our pricing scale!), from Brighton to Delhi. They won’t cost the Earth, but they still carry the discerning i-escape stamp of approval – and as always, they’ve all been reviewed in total honesty.

    Le Domaine De Tam Hai, near Hoi An, VietnamLe Domaine De Tam Hai

    What you’ll love: This boutique guesthouse sits on a glassy lagoon fringed by coconut palms, with thatched villas, white sands, a laid-back restaurant and spectacular sunsets. It’s wonderfully remote but brilliantly easy to get to, with kayaking, snorkelling and more to occupy your days. And who wouldn’t love the circular ‘Sea Sofa’ bar that drifts in the shallows?

    What you might not like: It’s great value for the room, but it’s not an all-inclusive resort. You’ll have to pay extra for most meals and activities.

    Artist Residence Brighton, Brighton, UK

    Artist Residence Brighton

    What you’ll love:  This quirky hotel has beautiful design touches (coffee-sack cushions, a postbox set into the stairs), plus a fresh, informal vibe.  There’s a funky cocktail bar in the form of a beach shack, and the friendly staff instantly put you at ease. It’s close to the seafront and sights, too.

    What you might not like: The rooms are petite – no cat swinging possible here. It also books up fast at weekends.

    Koh Pha Ngan Pool Villas, Koh Pha Ngan, Thailand

    Koh Pha Ngan Pool Villas

    What you’ll love: Utterly secluded, this self-catering retreat has incredible views and a lovely infinity pool. It’s made up of 4 ‘mini villas’ with a bedroom and bathroom apiece, plus a main house with a kitchen and living area, but only 1 booking is taken at a time so you’ll never share with strangers. What’s more, gorgeous beaches are only a 10-minute drive away.

    What you might not like: The price for the view is a steep hill with lots of steps. You’ll also need some sort of motor to get around.

    Hotel Ses Sucreres, Ferreries, Menorca

    Hotel Ses Sucreres

    What you’ll love: This peaceful little B&B is bang in the middle of the island – perfect for exploring, particularly when you throw 2 electric bikes into the mix. The 6 rooms are large and airy, with a funky mix of vintage pieces.  There’s also a small roof terrace, plus a pretty walled garden where breakfast is served on warm days.

    What you might not like: Ferreries is quiet – if you want buzz, head elsewhere.

    Dune House, near Paternoster, South Africa

    Dune House

    What you’ll love: It’s a beach villa with wonderful architecture, openness and space. It’s set right on the dunes of sweeping Britannia Bay – perfect for a bit of wildlife spotting (you might see seals, dolphins and even whales from the patio) – and it sleeps 10-12 so it’s ideal for families and groups. There’s even a discreet houseman to look after you.

    What you might not like: You’re very secluded (2 hours north of Cape Town) and the best restaurants are in Paternoster, 25 minutes away.

    Attico Partenopeo, Naples, Italy

    Attico Partenopeo

    What you’ll love: The roof terrace of this central B&B brims with plants and beachy furniture – perfect for lazing under the southern Italian sun. Rooms mix sea blues and breezy whites, and some face Naples’ hilltop castle. It’s in a great location, too, just off the main shopping street and close to the port.

    What you might not like: The emphasis is on stylish simplicity, so don’t expect bells and whistles.

    Scarlette New Delhi, New Delhi, India

    Scarlette New Delhi

    What you’ll love: This quiet guesthouse provides a much-needed refuge in a peaceful part of very busy Delhi – you’ll love coming back to the home-cooked food, warm welcome and 4 eclectic rooms after a day exploring. Best of all, the intimate size allows a personal touch from owner Pauline and her charming team.

    What you might not like: It’s a little removed from the main centre. Staff can help you arrange transport, though.

    Hotel Petit Mao, Mao, Menorca

    Hotel Petit Mao

    What you’ll love: With gorgeous original features and cool, contemporary design, this small hotel in Menorca’s pretty capital punches above its weight in the style game. There’s a lovely pool to lounge by, and host Nina strikes the perfect balance between attentiveness and independence.

    What you might not like: All those charming period features don’t provide much soundproofing.

    Take a look at all of our new hotels >>

    Posted in New Hotels, Our Favourite.... Tagged , , , , , , , , ,
FEB16

Family Escape of the Month… Borgo Santo Pietro

 
  • The carefully manicured opulence of this restored 13th-century Tuscan villa may seem better suited to hand-holding romance and honeymooners, but don’t be fooled by appearances. Along with decadent antique-filled rooms, you’ll find relaxed and hospitable staff plus a host of kid-friendly activities and facilities.  

    Borgo Santo Pietro

    Within the 13 acres of grounds are a playground (out of earshot of other guests), a trampoline, a spring-fed infinity pool and tennis courts. You’ll even be equipped with an iPad when you check in, and families and children will find themselves looked after at every turn.

    Borgo Santo Pietro

    Rooms: The rooms are decadent and luxurious – expect polished floorboards, cavernous stone fireplaces and luscious fabrics. Despite the grown-up decoration, many are perfect for families: the Rinaldo Pievano di Sorciano Suite is on the ground floor away from any others, and any of the 7 Garden Suites (little cottages with private terraces and gardens) are also ideal. Two of them interconnect if you’re travelling with extended family or friends.

    Borgo Santo Pietro

    Food: Luckily for guests, owners Claus and Jeanette are real foodies. This translates into 2 fantastic restaurant options. Valle Serena Restaurant offers imaginative fine dining, while the more relaxed Treehouse Bar and Brasserie serves delicious home-style Tuscan food. Wednesday evening, when Borgo’s farmers’ market arrives, is a particular treat – choose from meats, seasonal vegetables and fresh fish, which are cooked for you on the spot with the sound of live music in the background. Salute!

    Breakfast is a relaxed affair, laid out in the open-plan kitchen and taken outside or at the long kitchen table. The chef will cook you scrambled eggs, pancakes and omelettes – anything that takes your fancy.

    Borgo Santo Pietro

    Kids’ activities: The gardens provide ample space for running around. Or you can strike out on the hotel’s bikes to visit the neighbouring countryside or swim in the nearby river (ask for directions) . Inside are DVD players, iPads, and a piano room for the musically inclined.  Right now there’s a fantastic 3-night Easter Package including Easter Egg hunts and pizza making for the kids, as well as meals and massages for the parents!

    Borgo Santo Pietro

    Baby equipment: Cots (note there is a small nightly charge).

    Customer reviews: “Borgo Santo Pietro was an amazing place to stay and we really loved it there. We would definitely recommend it for a special holiday as nothing was too much trouble for them and you were made to feel very special. The hotel itself is absolutely beautiful and the food and staff were wonderful.”
    Joanna, United Kingdom (13.09.14)

    Read the full review and book >>

    Posted in Family Escape of the Month, Kids. Tagged , , , ,