Escape of the Week… L’Avenida

  • The picturesque little town of Soller in northwest Mallorca might not seem like the obvious location for an ultra-slick boutique hotel, but stunning L’Avenida has established itself as one of the island’s hippest spots. Surrounded by mountains and just a short tram ride from the beach, it’s a perfect holiday base.


    Despite its chic design, this is no case of style over substance. The personal approach of owners Tania and Paul Sliiper has created a glamorous, homely and utterly indulgent hotel. Better still, until 1 March it’s available as an exclusive rental, so you can rally your friends and enjoy the 12 rooms and beautiful pool all to yourselves.


    Rooms: Spread over 2 floors, the 12 rooms (all doubles) have the feel of cosy boudoirs, with large, super-comfy beds and leather daybeds flanked by stylish Kartell ‘bougie’ lamps. The decadence extends to the fixtures and fittings, too: think glamorous black Pachderme chandeliers, Parisian silk curtains and feature walls of opulent Cole & Son paper. Even the bathrooms are beautifully luxurious thanks to Philippe Starck designs and lovely organic products. Particularly spoiling are the wonderfully spacious Luxury Suites, which enjoy four-poster beds and the best views in the hotel.


    Food: Paul previously worked in marketing at Hotel Cipriani in Venice and Hotel Splendido in Portofino, so he certainly knows a thing or two when it comes to food. This translates well into L’Avenida’s bistro, which offers an appetising brand of modern Mediterranean cuisine. For lunch we enjoyed a warm goat’s cheese salad and beef carpaccio with artichoke hearts. Dinners are equally spoiling, but you’ve also got the choice of numerous characterful restaurants and cafés on your doorstep.

    Breakfast is a delicious spread of homemade muesli, jams, mini pastries, and local ham and cheeses. If you’re renting the whole hotel you can choose whether you want to self-cater or be fully catered.


    Top Tip: Catch the vintage tram which rattles down to the beach at Puerto Soller, and enjoy a day on the sand followed by evening cocktails by the sea.


    Customer review: “The managers Matthew & Laura are very helpful and attentive; superb hosts.”

    Andrew, United Kingdom (21.04.14)

    i-escape gift: a bottle of cava on arrival.

    Read the full review and book  >>

    Posted in Escape of the Week. Tagged , , ,

Top 10 retreats for a healthy 2015

  • The decadent festive period may have given way to January diets and exercise plans, but healthy New Year’s resolutions don’t have to be about horsehair shirts and eye-wincing procedures. We prefer a softly, softly approach, with plenty of sun and indulgence. With that in mind, we’ve picked 10 boutique stays that offer just that.

    YogaMagic Eco retreat, Anjuna, Goa

    YogaMagic Eco Retreat

    This yoga retreat, set in a tourist-free part of Goa, does exactly what it says on the tin – and more. As well as having relaxing Ayurvedic massages and lessons in Iyenga-style yoga, you’ll have the opportunity to become a certified Ayurvedic masseuse thanks to their 10-day residential course. And you get to stay in beautiful Rajasthani tented lodges or spacious boutique suites.

    Babington House, Somerset, UK

    Babington House

    You don’t need to escape to tropical climes or secluded mountainsides to enjoy a little R&R; there are some great options tucked away in the tranquil English countryside. This sybaritic Somerset stay also dedicates itself to offering guests a huge variety of self-improving treatments. With 2 heated pools (indoor and outdoor), a well-equipped gym and a superlative spa, there’s not a hint of self-denial in the place.

    Insolito, Buzios, Brazil


    Insolito may be hip and slick, but there’s still plenty of opportunity for a full body MOT. The excellent spa has a range of heavenly treatments carried out with the sound of the waves in the background, as well as frequent yoga classes. You can also explore the impressive 26 beaches lining the peninsula or admire them from one of the 2 infinity pools ( freshwater and saltwater), before returning to the beautifully appointed rooms.

    Until mid-March you can bag yourself a ‘Relaxing Week Package’, which includes daily yoga and 3 massages to kick start the new you.

    Kamalaya, Koh Samui, Thailand


    Once a popular spot for revellers seeking a different kind of escapism, stunning Koh Samui is now a destination for world-weary spa-seekers. This  reinvention has been spearheaded by Kamalaya, a secluded ‘wellness sanctuary’ which offers a range of treatments and activities unmatched by other hotels in the region. The food is a particular triumph and manages to be gloriously healthy without being remotely dull.

    Soukya, near Bangalore, India


    As healing retreats go, few come as illustrious, accomplished or restorative as Soukya. Founded by health guru Issac Mathai and visited by the likes of Sting and Prince Charles, it’s one of the best Ayurvedic and holistic centres in Asia. The team of world-class healthcare professionals make it their mission to deliver your personal programme expertly and with wonderful results. It’s not a walk in the park, so expect some work with the pampering –  but trust us: it will be worth it.

    Gaia Retreat & Spa, near Byron Bay, Australia

    Gaia Retreat & Spa

    This supremely relaxing retreat (co-owned by Olivia Newton-John) is just a short drive from popular Byron Bay and prides itself on doing things a little differently. If you’re a bit bored of the usual spa treatments, you can try something a little more exotic like iridology or a craniosacral massage, while spa-shy partners can forego it all in favour of the beach. This is a rejuvenation mecca and your body will thank you for making the trip.

    Cowley Manor, Gloucestershire, UK

    Cowley Manor

    The grandeur of this magnificent hotel and its 55 acres of parkland mean you may not expect the slick facilities and contemporary interiors within, but that’s part of its success. Equipped with an award-winning C.Side Spa and a list of treatments as long as your arm, it’s the perfect weekend bolthole for the world-weary or the relaxation-inclined. This is not only a stately home with charm and character, but also a spot for a hedonistic but oh-so-righteous ‘Cloud 9’ experience – we urge you to try it.

    SwaSwara, Gokarna Beach, Goa


    This boutique yoga hotel, located beside a palm-fringed beach in Goa, has been described as a life-affirming stay – and it seems the visitors who return year on year would agree. You’ll find personalised yoga and meditation sessions, as well as a delicious menu of fresh local produce to be enjoyed at communal meals (it’s perfect for solo travellers). If that all sounds a bit much, you can spend lazy days by the beach or swimming pool, before indulging in an Ayurvedic massage.

    Pilates en France, near Bergerac, south west France

    Pilates en France

    With only 4 rooms, this Pilates retreat in the south of France is one of our more intimate options, but tutor Melanie’s manner will instantly put you at ease. She’ll initiate you into what could become a life-enhancing re-education in posture, breathing and relaxation. You’ll also find beautiful surroundings and tasty, wholesome food, making this an impossible–to-leave home-from-home.

    Talalla Retreat, near Tangalla, Sri Lanka

    Talalla Retreat

    This serene, laid-back getaway has a couple of options for yoga-bods. Either breeze into the daily drop-in classes or book yourself onto one of the occasional yoga, wellness or meditation courses – all just a hop, skip and a jump from the beautiful shoreline. If you feel like more vigorous exercise, the unspoilt beaches nearby are a haven for surfing (courses also available), and the unpolluted waters are popular for diving, too. After all that, you can round off the day in the small on-site spa.

    Take a look at all of our spa & wellbeing retreats >>

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

Top 10 new family-friendly Med hotels

  • A brand new year of family travel awaits! We’re excited to start planning our 2015 adventures, and sunny summer holidays always feature high on the wishlist. To help the process, our Kids Collection Editor Nadine has rounded up 10 of our best new family-friendly places around the Med, many of them terrific value.

    Masseria Prosperi, Puglia, Italy

    Masseria Prosperi

    A hybrid between a country villa and a gastro guesthouse, this modern retreat has all you need for a relaxed holiday. You get a choice of pools (heated indoor and large outdoor), chic suites, a garden with swings, farm animals to admire, ponies to ride, and a lavish breakfast fit for kings (included in the rates). Mercedes and Antonio are extremely welcoming and have 2 daughters, so they’re well attuned to hosting families. If you’re a larger party (up to 18), you can book the place in its entirety and self-cater. You’re only a couple of kilometres from the Adriatic coast, and Puglia enchants all who visit.

    The Manor House, Menorca, Spain

    The Manor House

    This under-the-radar Balearic isle has more than a few hidden treasures in store. We found riches aplenty at this palatial sea-view villa, set at the end of a long, bumpy drive: a gorgeous infinity pool, a high-spec kitchen, 6 bedrooms (including a kids’ bunkroom) and 300 acres of grounds. It even has secret caves, plus private access to a lovely white-sand beach. It sleeps up to 14, and we thought it perfect for a special celebration or an extended family party.

    Minelska Resort, Pelion, Greece

    Minelska Resort

    The hilly Pelion peninsula is directly north of Athens, spurring into the Aegean Sea from mainland Greece. It’s blessed with long stretches of wild coastline on the rugged east and gentle beaches on the calmer west, and there’s no better base than this rustic-chic boutique B&B. The 5 suites each have a sitting room with sofabeds, and there’s a seafront café – plus it’s great value. You’re just 5 minutes’ walk from a sandy village beach, and you can explore the area on horse or mountain bike. We thought it well suited to families with tweens or teens.

    Stazzo Lu Ciaccaru, Sardinia, Italy

    Stazzo Lu Ciaccaru

    This small rural estate offers all the benefits of being ensconced in tranquil countryside, yet it’s just a few minutes from wonderful beaches and aquamarine seas. It used to be a farm, so take a wander around the extensive grounds to discover suites in former stables and self-catering villas in old stone barns (one with a private pool). There’s a big main pool and delicious fare in the restaurant, which has a terrace with long views over the fields. All rooms and suites have space for a rollaway bed or baby cot.

    Palazzo Radomiri, Dobrota, Montenegro

    Palazzo Radomiri

    Outdoorsy families will love discovering the wild beauty of Kotor Bay, with its crystalline waters and forested hills; explore by bike, kayak or guided excursion. This hotel is an added delight: a Baroque waterfront palazzo with history and elegance, as well as its own jetty for easy swims. Choose between Family, Deluxe or Attic Suites, and take advantage of the babysitting service to dine in the Mediterranean-Balkan alfresco restaurant. If you prefer to eat en famille, there’s a kids’ menu, too.

    Binigaus Vell, Menorca, Spain

    Binigaus Vell

    Families are well-catered for at this bucolic rural hotel, set in a former cheese farm near Menorca’s southern coast and just half an hour from the airport. Junior Suites have double sofabeds, 2 Standard rooms can be booked together, and all rooms can take a baby cot. The landscaped grounds are safe for running around, and there’s a lovely pool to splash in. Older kids can ride horses on the property, and bikes can be arranged. Head forth for beaches, boat trips and captivating caves.

    Dubrovnik Boutique Apartments, Dubrovnik, Croatia

    Dubrovnik Boutique Apartments

    There’s no better way to experience this iconic UNESCO-listed city than by living like a local. We suggest staying within the medieval walls at this meticulously restored 17th-century townhouse, now converted into 3 stylish self-catering apartments. Each apartment has a sofabed for kids, and the local area is pedestrianised so it’s safe for families to stroll around. Shop for food in the daily open-air market or browse the fish market overlooking the harbour; there are also small supermarkets close by.

    Boutique Trulli Villa, Puglia, Italy

    Boutique Trulli Villa

    One of Puglia’s great draws is its unique trulli – little stone cones which dot the rolling landscape. This stylish new restoration has converted a cluster of them (along with a ’70s extension) into 2 beautiful rental properties, which can be booked together or separately. The larger is housed beneath 6 linked trulli and sleeps 6 plus a baby in 3 double bedrooms; the smaller comprises 2 ensuite bedrooms and sleeps 4 plus a baby. Both have kitchens and share a wonderful pool with a long shallow shelf (perfect for non-swimmers). The grounds are planted with fragrant Mediterranean bushes and flowering herbs, with swings, a stunning pergola, and an outdoor kitchen for alfresco family meals. You’re not far from the beach, fascinating historic towns, and the excellent Zoo Safari in Fasano.

    The Architect’s House, Pelion, Greece

    The Architect's house

    Set in a magical corner of the Pelion peninsula, close to rugged hillsides and turquoise seas, is this country retreat. It’s been beautifully designed by its architect owner – you get living spaces that flow into each other, 6 bedrooms (including 2 in an outhouse), a lovely garden, and a full kitchen for easy holiday feasts. It’s excellent value for money for an extended family with older kids or a 2-family gathering, and there’s masses to do in the vicinity, from hiking to riding to canyoning. Best of all, you’re only 4km from the beach.

    Montenegro Stone Cottages, near Herceg Novi, Montenegro

    Montenegro Stone Cottages

    Just 20 minutes’ drive from Dubrovnik Airport you’ll find a restored village and this collection of self-catering cottages of varying sizes. They sleep 2-8 (we suggest the 2-, 3- and 4-bedroom cottages as the best for families), with a large shared pool, lawns, and fabulous views down the valley. Your kids will instantly find new friends in the village, and there are wonderful national parks, fortified towns and magnificent Kotor to discover nearby. Adventure beckons!

    Check out the rest of the Kids Collection >>

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

Escape of the Week… Hotel JL No76

  • Set in the heart of Amsterdam’s museum and fashion district, this pair of converted 18th-century mansions makes a cool and casual base for canal-side ramblings – perfect for a springtime sojourn, when this historic and vibrant city looks beautiful but isn’t blighted with crowds.

    Hotel JL No76

    The unobtrusive luxury of this contemporary hotel is one of its triumphs. The bathrooms have drenching rain showers, and Executive Rooms and above come with Jacuzzi bathtubs plus TVs to watch while you soak. If you manage to peel yourself away from the indulgence of your room, you can rent bicycles or Vespas to explore the city’s museums, parks and cobbled waterside streets.

    Hotel JL No76

    Rooms: The 38 rooms mix clean lines, purple or muted greys and bright statement wallpaper from Dutch artist Barbara Broekman, creating warm, welcoming spaces. There are plenty of luxurious comforts, too: expect flat-screen TVs, iPod docks and DVD players alongside COCO-MAT mattresses and soft linens. Basement Rooms are the cheapest, but we preferred the Standard and slightly larger Executive Rooms, which enjoy views of the quiet street or garden. The Executive Deluxe Rooms are particularly spoiling, with chic armchairs nestled into bay windows. There’s also a Family Room with a kingsize bed and a separate sleeping area with bunk beds for 2 children.

    Hotel JL No76

    Food: The beautifully designed hotel is attached to an equally convivial restaurant called Jan Eat & Drink. Its leather banquettes, white tables and low-hanging chrome lighting give it the feel of an upscale diner, but the eccentricities of the bedrooms are mirrored in the contemporary paintings and quirky animal sculptures. For lunch and dinner you can expect an international feel, with pasta dishes and steak sandwiches alongside Dutch staples such as fish croquettes. If you fancy heading out, Hotel JL’s location puts it within easy striking distance of many of the city’s excellent restaurants.

    The daily buffet breakfast includes a wide selection of fruit, cheeses, cold meats and pastries, as well as hot dishes such as omelettes, pancakes and French toast. It’s also served until a leisurely 11am – an added bonus.

    Hotel JL No76

    Top Tip: Explore the Albert Cuyp street market in the trendy district of De Pijp, not far from the hotel. The mile-long stretch of colourful stalls sells everything from cheap vintage clothing to farm-fresh produce. Stop for coffee and a delicious cake at delightfully kitsch patisserie De Taart van m’n Tante.

    Hotel JL No76

    Customer review: “The location is excellent. The staff are very friendly and accommodating. The communal area is quaint and comfortable to relax and enjoy a coffee or glass of wine.”

    Stacey, United Kingdom (19.10.14)

    i-escape gift: a free room upgrade, subject to availability on arrival.

    Read the full review and book  >>

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

2015 boutique travel hotlist

  • The New Year is here and we’re kicking off by sharing some of our top suggestions for 2015 travel. From off-the-beaten-track retreats in South Africa’s Paternoster – where the Rand continues to give you real bang for your buck – to Portugal’s coolest city break.

    Paternoster, South Africa

    A favourable exchange rate means South Africa continues to provide excellent value for money, particularly in the unspoilt region around the town of Paternoster. Two hours north of Cape Town, it offers gloriously empty beaches, charming fishing villages, flower-filled nature reserves and a wealth of foodie haunts.



    Stay at: Spoiling Abalone House and Spa. Perfect for an indulgent holiday, this luxurious yet quirky adults-only hotel encompasses Reuben’s (a renowned restaurant from celebrity chef Reuben Riffel), as well as a rooftop Jacuzzi where you can enjoy glorious sea views and a glass of fizz.

    Abalone House & Spa

    Abalone House & Spa

    Porto, Portugal

    Portugal’s second city is the latest go-to spot for great-value urban breaks, and easyJet is launching new direct routes from Bristol, Luton and Manchester in April 2015. It’s experiencing a real cultural renaissance, with galleries, restaurants and boho boutiques, as well as famous port lodges and striking Baroque architecture.



    Stay at: Beautifully restored townhouse 1872 River House, a bijou 8-room B&B set on the banks of the Douro in the Unesco-listed Ribeira district. It’s a new addition along with chic yet cheap hotel Rosa Et Al Townhouse, which epitomises Porto’s new creative buzz and has already gained an excellent reputation.

    Rosa Et Al Townhouse

    Rosa Et Al Townhouse

    Menorca, Spain

    With a clutch of brand-new boutique hotels and villas, Menorca is shaking off its reputation as Ibiza and Mallorca’s sleepy little sister – so much so that we’re adding a chic Menorca collection for 2015. The island has plenty of gorgeous quiet coves, together with sprawling beaches and renowned vineyards, and many of its gems are yet to be discovered.



    Stay at: converted townhouse Hotel Petit Mao, a discreet hideaway in the buzzing capital Mahon, with plenty of vintage touches, a small pool and a pretty walled garden. Groups will love secluded sea-view villa The Manor House, which sleeps up to 14 and has a stunning infinity pool, a concierge service and private access to a white-sand beach.

    The Manor House

    The Manor House

    Pelion, Greece

    For sun-seekers tired of the crowds in Greece’s traditional holiday haunts, unspoilt Pelion is the place to head in 2015. A 3-hour drive from Athens or Thessaloniki (both served by British Airways and easyJet), this mountainous peninsula boasts miles of gorgeous coastline – ideal for those who want to combine a beach holiday with outdoor adventures. Its historic stone villages are linked by a network of old mule paths that are perfect for hiking, and local operators offer mountain biking, horse riding, canyoning and kayaking.



    Stay at: Six Keys – a stylish seaside guesthouse set on its own beach, with 7 spacious suites and some of the best food in the area. We’ve also expanded our Pelion collection to encompass 5 fantastic hideaways. Find out more about Pelion on the blog.

    Six Keys

    Six Keys

    Southern Sri Lanka

    Sri Lanka’s popularity shows no sign of waning and beautiful boutique retreats are springing up along its south coast. Most luxurious is Cape Weligama, a clifftop resort near Galle that opened in October 2014. It has huge suites, private butlers, multiple pools and several restaurants, plus a dive centre and direct access to two sandy beaches. Best of all is its intelligent layout, with child-friendly and adults-only pools, meaning couples and families have plenty of space to themselves.

    Cape Weligama

    Cape Weligama

    Stay at: For those seeking a more laid-back, purse-friendly take on the exotic holiday, there are also several new staffed villas in the region, including Mawella Beach Hideaways, a pair of barefoot-chic bungalows for 2-4 beside a fishing beach near Tangalle.

    Galle & Sri Lanka's south coast

    Galle & Sri Lanka’s south coast

     Take a look at our full collection >>

    Posted in Our Favourite..., Top 5. Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Our top posts of 2014


Escape of the Week… Riva Lofts

  • Florence is a city in demand. Crowds flock to its romantic piazzas and iconic bridges – particularly in the summer months, when you’ll find gaggles of tourists lining the gallery-packed streets. We’d suggest an early-year trip, when the city is quieter and stylish accommodation options like Riva Lofts – a converted mill tucked away in a peaceful setting beside the River Arno – have plenty of availability.

    Riva Lofts

    This fantastic collection of 10 studios doesn’t rest on the laurels of its location. Instead, owner Claudio has created a series of individual and glamorous apartment-like spaces that triumph the building’s history while embracing contemporary design. There are even gorgeous gardens and a slim-line pool – both rarities in Florence.

    Riva Lofts

    Rooms: The 10 unique studios have private entrances and vary greatly in size, from the Standard Studio (up to 3 adults) to the Loft Studio (up to 4 adults). We stayed in one of the 2 Loft Studios, which was spread over 3 floors and had wonderful floor-to-ceiling windows with views of the Arno. All the studios are awash with bold, contemporary design: polished concrete floors, muted colours, flea-market furniture, Mies van der Rohe chairs. The smaller details are just as appealing, from the beautiful cream wingback chairs to the large showerheads, fluffy robes and remote-controlled skylights in the bathrooms.

    Riva Lofts

    Food: A buffet breakfast is included in the price and you can expect all the usual fare, including fresh pastries, home-baked bread, yummy yoghurts and, of course, strong Italian coffee.

    If you’re in a group (10+), you can arrange for other meals to be prepared at the hotel (with 2 days’ notice) for a relaxed, local celebration. If not, there are a huge number of fantastic restaurants nearby, with all budgets and tastes catered for – just ask for recommendations. All of the studios (with the exception of the Standard Studios) have small kitchenettes with a fridge, coffee machine and hob – perfect for whipping up snacks and sandwiches.

    Riva Lofts

    Top Tip: Complimentary bikes are available to borrow, so head off to explore the city on 2 wheels. Alice, Claudio’s glamorous daughter, can suggest car-free routes and secret spots to discover. Cycling is particularly delightful in winter, early spring and autumn, when you can enjoy Florence without the crowds of tourists and conference delegates.

    Riva Lofts

    Customer review: “We loved the ambience of Riva Lofts, an oasis of calm but still only a short walk to Florence centre and the park on the opposite side of the river.”

    Martin, United Kingdom (31.07.14)

    i-escape gift: a complimentary bottle of Tuscan extra virgin olive oil.

    Read the full review and book  >>

    Posted in Escape of the Week. Tagged , , ,

Escape of the Week… No. 5 Maddox Street

  • Slap-bang amid the hustle and bustle of London are these refreshingly Zen serviced apartment-suites. The interiors are simple and refined but far from Spartan. You can expect wonderful extras, too, from a Geodesis scented candle (free to take home if you book through i-escape) to Ren toiletries and a stock of kitchen essentials.

     No 5 Maddox Street

    Between the vibrancy of Soho and Mayfair, the suites form a tranquil urban retreat tucked behind an unassuming doorway. Once inside, the city buzz melts away and the luxurious Asian-inspired décor takes over to blissful effect.

    No 5 Maddox Street

    Rooms: Throughout the 1-, 2- and 3-bedroom suites, bamboo floors, white walls and sleek furnishings are tempered by the cosiness of warm fabrics and darker colours, creating an environment that’s calming and welcoming. Large windows keep the interiors bright and sunny, and living rooms have giant leather floor cushions, velvet sofas and spiral-shaped Tom Dixon lamps. The 1-bedroom options are perfect for romantic London weekends, and there are also a couple of 2-bedroom Loft Suites (one with a mezzanine, the other with a lovely balcony) and the 3-bedroom Bartlett Suite (with 2 terraces) for families and groups.

    No 5 Maddox Street

    Food: The suite kitchens are small but beautifully designed. They have everything you need (oven, hob, microwave, dishwasher), and you can arrange for staff to fill the cupboards with Whole Foods groceries for you. You’ll find coffee, tea, fruit and chocolate waiting for you on arrival, and there’s also a stock of basic ingredients (all charged for), including pasta and a Bloody Mary cocktail mix. Should cooking sound like a little too much fuss, you can order in from the array of restaurant delivery menus, or pop out in search of gastronomic appeasement (no difficult task in this part of London). Breakfast is available to order, too – expect the usual suspects, from the Full English and smoked salmon to healthier options such as muesli and fruit.

    No 5 Maddox Street

    Top Tip: After a hectic day of sightseeing, light a candle, open a bottle of wine, order food from Thai restaurant Patara (next door) and curl up in your lovely living room with a stash of DVDs borrowed from reception.

    No 5 Maddox Street

    Customer review: “Great location for shopping right off Regent Street… Service was superb, rooms were lovely and well-appointed.

    Caitlin, France (26.12.11)

    i-escape gift: A Geodesis scented candle to take home.

    Read the full review and book  >>

    Posted in Escape of the Week. Tagged , , ,

Easy Escapes for January

  • With Christmas Day just around the corner, you may be wondering how you’ll cope after the tree comes down and the bottles of red have run dry – the month that follows can be a bleak affair. If it’s all too much to bear thinking about, we recommend an impromptu January jaunt to soften the blow.

    No need to thank us, all you 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.

    The Grazing Goat – £175 per person (2 nights, 9-11 January 2014)

    The Grazing Goat

    The Grazing Goat

    Fancy hitting the January sales? Well, you can’t beat the UK capital for its sheer range of retail opportunities. Bond Street boutiques, Selfridges and the high-street delights of Oxford Street are a whirlwind of bargains at this time of year, and the city still retains its wintry charm well into January.

    The Grazing Goat

    The Grazing Goat

    Stay: at The Grazing Goat, a county-style pub with rooms in Marylebone. The excellent gastro-pub fare will warm your cockles after a day of shopping, and a 2-night stay in a Standard Room, using the Christmas Special discount, comes to just £175 per person, including taxes.

    Total cost: £175 per person, including taxes.

    More info: Getting to London and other accommodation options

    Casa Camper Berlin – £374 per person (4 nights, 11-15 January 2014)



    Berlin makes for an exciting winter break, and the creative-chic Mitte area, with its bars, galleries and boutiques, is just a 15-minute walk from some of the city’s biggest cultural highlights – the Pergamonmuseum, Bode Museum and Neues Museum all await on the Museumsinsel (Museum Island).

    Casa Camper Berlin

    Casa Camper Berlin

    Stay: at unpretentious Casa Camper Berlin, where minimalist cool meets down-to-earth, intelligent comfort. Don’t miss the seventh-floor lounge where you can enjoy snacks and drinks with rooftop views of Berlin. When booking the Seasonal Special non-refundable rate, a 4-night stay in a King Room comes to £295 per person, including all taxes.

    Fly: direct from London Stansted to Berlin Schönefeld with Ryanair for £40 per person, departing Sunday 11 January and returning Thursday 15 January.

    From the airport: the owners can arrange an airport transfer for £39 one way.

    Total cost: £374 per person, including all taxes.

    More info: Getting to Berlin and other accommodation options

    JapaMala Resort – £1,131.50 per person (9 nights, 17-26 January 2014)

    JapaMala Resort

    JapaMala Resort

    Malaysia’s awe-inspiring Tioman Island is home to rugged rainforest, talcum-powder beaches and translucent sea. The set for the 1958 film South Pacific, it’s utterly idyllic: you couldn’t be further from the January blues.

    JapaMala Resort

    JapaMala Resort

    Stay: at snorkellers’ paradise JapaMala Resort, a cluster of beachside villas where you can enjoy relaxing massages and world food in the overwater and jungle restaurants. A 9-night stay in the Tree Top Chalet comes to just £419 per person, including all taxes.

    Fly: direct from London Heathrow to Kuala Lumpur with Malaysia Airlines for £593 per person, departing Friday 16 January (overnight flight arriving Saturday 17 January) and returning Monday 26 January.

    From the airport: a return private car from Kuala Lumpur costs £239 for 2 people, including land transfer and boat transfer.

    Total cost: £1,131.50 per person, including all taxes.

    More info: Getting to Malaysia 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 19th December 2014.

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

2014 Guest Awards

  • As 2014 draws to a close, find out which of our 1,500 handpicked hotels and boutique rentals got the biggest thumbs up from happy holidaymakers this year.
    full crest
    Unlike certain global sports bodies, nobody can buy these votes – they’re based purely on scores submitted by our verified guests. So extra kudos to those who got top marks all round…

    small crownBEST BEACH ESCAPE: Chumbe Island Coral Park, Zanzibar

    We say: A tiny coral-ringed island off Zanzibar, with beautifully designed thatch bungalows, genuinely ecological aims and some of the world’s best snorkelling

    Chumbe Island Coral Park

    “What’s not to like? An excellent place to spend a few days”

    You say: “Snorkelling was wonderful, and it was great to have the opportunity of a short dhow sailing trip.” Kirsten, Liechtenstein (28.07.14)

    “We had such a perfect stay. Lovely places on the island to see sunset, go for a walk, go snorkelling. The staff are awesome – all are so friendly and kind! Best food we had on Zanzibar. Thanks to all the team. You are doing a great job to save the corals!” Maria, Germany (20.06.14)

    Take a look at the review >>

    small crownBEST FOR WINTER SUN: Turtle Beach House, Sri Lanka

    We say: Secret hideaway for 4-6 on the beach near Galle, with luxe furnishings, a lovely garden and a dreamy pool

    Turtle Beach House

    “The place is perfectly positioned on the most beautiful beach in the area”

    You say: “Turtle Beach is a true gem amongst private villas anywhere in the world… The location is right on the beach, which is easily accessed after you walk around your private swimming pool.” Graham, Hong Kong (26.10.14)

    “Absolutely superb in all senses. Even hard to distinguish the best part of our experience – was it the villa itself, the delicious food made every evening by Ranaweera, the kindness of Santa, or the overall atmosphere?” Andra, Latvia (26.01.14)

    Take a look at the review >>

    small crownBEST ISLAND HIDEAWAY: Casa Los Geranios, Canary Islands

    We say: Gorgeous traditional Canarian house (sleeps 2-8) in La Palma’s sunny south, with gob-stopping views over volcanoes to the shimmering Atlantic

    Casa Los Geranios

    “A fantastic place with excellent service”

    You say: “This is a very special place – quite perfect. Located on the edge of a vineyard, with beautiful accommodations and gardens. It was spotless and very comfortable, and the owner Lourdes went to great pains to ensure everything met my expectations.” Jonathan, Canada (01.07.14)

    “A fantastic place with excellent service, a fabulous view and a wonderful garden. This is now one of my favourite places on earth.” Katharina, Switzerland (18.03.14)

    Take a look at the review >>

    small crownBEST BUDGET BOLTHOLE: Casa do Rio Vez, Portugal

    We say: An ancient millhouse with a contemporary slant offering B&B rooms and a self-catering loft, beside the crystalline waters of the Vez River

    Casa do Rio Vez

    “Very relaxing stay on the beautiful River Vez. Excellent hotel”

    You say: “We had a great time at Casa do Rio Vez and Valerie is an excellent hostess. Food was fresh and good quality, and always looked tempting as well as tasting good.” Sue, United Kingdom (01.09.14)

    “This is really heaven! So nice and peaceful and beautiful! Everything is perfect. I have never seen such a lovely breakfast and beautiful rooms. You do feel so wonderful. The owner tells you a lot of places where you can go and is very helpful. We recommend it to everybody!” Albert, Netherlands (11.09.13)

    Take a look at the review >>

    small crownBEST FAMILY ESCAPE: Ammos Hotel, Crete

    We say: Style with a big smile at this chic and superbly serviced family-minded hotel on the beach, 15 minutes from Chania

    Ammos Hotel

    “Loved this hotel. Incredibly welcoming & helpful staff”

    You say: “Absolutely wonderful place – fantastic staff, great food and beautiful hotel. It was the ideal place for a holiday with our one year old (who was treated like royalty by everyone there) and we all loved it.”  Julia, United Kingdom (21.06.14)

    “Faultless! A wonderful boutique hotel that really caters for small children. The service is fantastic and the staff are genuinely friendly and helpful; nothing is too much trouble. Excellent food – we didn’t eat anywhere else really, apart from the days we hired a car. Nikos and all his staff were amazing.” Colette, United Kingdom (17.06.14)

    Take a look at the review >>

    small crownBEST CITY PAD: Pedrera Boutique Apartment, Spain

    We say: A spacious, super-stylish apartment for 2-4 in the heart of the Eixample district, looking onto Gaudí’s La Pedrera building

    Pedrera Boutique Apartment

    “Sitting on the balcony listening to a jazz concert on the rooftop of neighbouring La Pedrera was a real treat”

    You say: “Fantastic location and a beautifully conserved and designed apartment. We cannot fault it and would love to go back before too long.” Duna, United Kingdom (02.09.14)

    “Our stay at the Pedrera Boutique Apartment met and exceeded our expectations – a thoroughly excellent experience all round! I loved that the apartment had all the best bits of staying in a luxurious hotel – extraordinary decor/furniture, AMAZING city centre location – and none of the things that can niggle about staying in an apartment.” Katie, United Kingdom (17.06.14)

    Take a look at the review >>

    small crownBEST HOTEL (UK): The Tide House, Cornwall

    We say: Relaxing retreat in a quiet backstreet of St Ives, with stunning seaside-chic décor and a warm welcome

    The Tide House

    “The Tide House is excellent; we could not fault it!”

    You say: “Luxurious accommodation with lots of lovely additional touches such as free daily papers to read, a real fire, fresh flapjacks to eat in the room etc.” Martha, United Kingdom (29.11.13)

    “We had a wonderful stay at the Tide House. I would definitely say the best place to stay in St Ives. The staff and owners are incredibly helpful and welcoming, the rooms are stunning, and the food at breakfast was wonderful.” Melissa, United Kingdom (09.10.13)

    Take a look at the review >>

    small crownBEST HOTEL (OVERSEAS): Finca el Tossal, Spain

    We say: A traditional casa rural, 8km uphill from the Costa Blanca, with great views of the Marina Alta mountains and the Med

    Finca el Tossal

    “Absolutely beautiful guesthouse run and staffed by lovely people”

    You say: “Lovely secluded place. A place to enjoy the view and the calm atmosphere. Bring some good books and sit back and relax.” Jon, Denmark (24.09.14)

    “We had a wonderful stay at Finca el Tossal. The setting is stunning, in the middle of the quiet mountains though just 10 miles from the sea. The house is beautiful, with careful service, and the delicious dinners cooked by the Argentinian chef were perfect. We highly recommend this place.” Perquis, France (23.08.14)

    Take a look at the review >>

    small crownBEST RENTAL (OVERSEAS): Xaghra Farmhouse, Malta

    We say: A huge rustic townhouse in the charismatic small Gozitan town of Xaghra; ideal for families or friends and excellent value (sleeps 6-8)

    Xaghra Farmhouse

    “Really great location and house”

    You say: “We had a wonderful stay at the Xaghra Farmhouse. The house was beautiful, well equipped and relaxing. The Maltese stone interior when lit up at night was lovely, and we all enjoyed the pool. Our little girl also really enjoyed playing with the toys available at the house. We spent most days and evenings relaxing by the pool, but had a lovely meal at Ta’Frenc. We would thoroughly recommend the house, and Gozo itself.”
    Emma, United Kingdom (13.09.14)

    Take a look at the review >>

    small crownBEST RENTAL (UK): Dovecote View, Somerset

    We say: A spoiling self-catering cottage for 2-4, with envy-inducing interiors and a fantastic setting in a small but sophisticated country town

    Dovecote View

    “The cottage itself was the perfect blend of cosy historical charm and modern comfort”

    You say: “Dovecote View is gorgeous – beautifully decorated, and everything has been thought of. We had a wonderful time with our friends (lovely walks, cocktails and lunch At The Chapel) and would love to go back again. Lucy was a great host – super helpful, so many thanks!” Lucy, United Kingdom (22.09.14)

    “The cottage is absolutely gorgeous and it was spotlessly clean. We had a wonderful weekend. I’d love to know what scented oils were used in the rooms – they smelt amazing!” Hannah, United Kingdom (19.05.14)

    Take a look at the review >>

    Don’t forget you still have time to bag yourself a wonderful free gift (worth £100) when you book a 7-night holiday for 2015 before 31 December.

    Small print: only properties with at least 5 respondents were counted. ‘Verified guests’ means those who booked and paid their stay through i-escape.com. Percentages shown are the average across all guests and all categories (Rooms, Eating, Service, Value).

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