MAR10

Escape of the Week… The Gunton Arms, Norfolk, UK

 
  • Packed with personality, The Gunton Arms is a country pub offering some unexpected surprises for rural Norfolk – a dash of high society, heavenly food, and controversial art by Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin.

     The Gunton Arms

    A lovely place to visit at any time of year, Norfolk winters are great for frosty walks and drinks by the fire, and when the warmer weather makes an appearance the pretty coast is just a short drive away – think ice creams on Cromer pier and seal watching at Blakeney.

    The Gunton Arms

    Rooms: The 8 rooms (6 Superior Doubles, 1 Double and 1 Small Double) are named after local characters, including gamekeeper James Ellis who you might find propping up the bar downstairs! They’re all individually but beautifully decorated with pretty wallpaper and mahogany tables, and have lovely marble bathrooms. Our favourites are the quiet Superior Doubles: Ellis with its kingsize four-poster bed and Parkin, which has great views. Extra beds and baby cots can be added to the larger rooms and well-behaved canine friends are welcome in all. There are also 2 private sitting rooms downstairs for guests’ use and a private dining room which features an original Lucian Freud.

    The Gunton Arms

    Food: The main reason for visiting is the excellent restaurant, run by ex-Mark Hix chef Stuart Tattersall. The focus is on locally-sourced seasonal food – if you like to keep your food miles low, be sure to tuck into their home-smoked venison (which has travelled less than a mile) and salmon (from the coast, just 4 miles away). Other tempting dishes might include nettle and leek soup, linguini with Brancaster mussels and clams, and steamed treacle sponge with a shot of sloe gin jelly. At breakfast time you can either make your own toast and cereal in the pantry or order something from the menu, like drop scones with Swafield cured bacon and Alby honey, or a Gunton fried breakfast. The pub is furnished with an eclectic mix of items, from a 13th-century coffin table to outlandish modern art, and offers a selection of local ales on tap and an all-day snack menu.

    The Gunton Arms

    Top Tip: Take your own dressing gown or robe. The pub doesn’t provide them but you’ll need one if you want to go downstairs to make an early morning cup of coffee without getting dressed first. The staff are relaxed, so no need to be shy!

    The Gunton Arms

    i-escape guest review: “Delicious food and really friendly and helpful staff – in the restaurant, bar and lighting the fires! Very stylishly decorated with fantastic artwork everywhere.”

    Charles, United Kingdom (03.02.13)

    The Gunton Arms

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

    Read the full review and book The Gunton Arms >>

    Posted in Escape of the Week. Tagged , , ,
MAR07

Top 10 family-friendly Easter breaks

 
  • The Easter Holidays are almost upon us! To help you decide where to go, our Kids Collection Editor, Nadine, has chosen the best family friendly places which offer something eggstra for Easter.

    Country Kids, Languedoc, France

    Country Kids

    New on i-escape are these lovely family apartments for 4-12, which offer award-winning childcare and endless activities on 30-acres of a former farm. This April, you and your family can get a E300 discount when staying self-catering for a week; this still includes unlimited use of the creche, Big Kids programme, daily kids afternoon tea and 2 nights a week babysitting.

    Hotel Martinhal, Algarve, Portugal

    Hotel Martinhal

    April is a great time to discover the Algarve: the Costa Vicentina Natural Park is carpeted with flowers, the weather is often perfect, and the air eucalypt-scented. The four-night family Easter special offered at this excellent designer family resort includes an hour’s tennis and a 3-course meal daily, plus a family Easter Egg hunt – and there’s also the heated pool, babysitters, playgrounds, kids portions, child-friendly eateries…

    Anassa, near Polis, Cyprus

    Anassa

    Superlative childcare, a luxury spa and a wealth of activities make this beachside resort the ultimate holiday spot for frazzled parents. There are a great range of rooms to choose, four restaurants (with kids meals) and an all-ages kids club with heaps of toys and games plus playground and all manner of watersports. There’s also plenty of Easter inspired family fun from whole family Easter egg hunts to traditional Cypriot egg painting. Book by the end of March for a 20% early bird discount on Studio Suites.

    Borgo Santo Pietro, near Siena, Italy

    Borgo Santo Pietro

    This elegant country retreat successfully marries style and substance, and is also ideal for families with acres of grounds, a playground, trampoline and courts for any number of ball games. The excellent Easter package includes an Egg Treasure Hunt involving Champagne and soft drinks, followed by a 5-course gourmet Sunday lunch for parents while kids enjoy an art lesson and pizza-making class. Rates start at E1350 for 2 (3 night minimum).

    The Olive Press, Crete, Greece

    The Olive Press

    If you’re holidaying with another family, want to bring the grandparents, or need some space from your own brood, this three-suite villa will suit. There are idyllic secluded gardens, a big pool with a shallow end (though not heated until May) and sandy beaches nearby. This year Greek Easter falls on the same dates as in Western Europe; look out for traditional processions, lamb feasts and fireworks. Stay at this super villa during April and get a 25% discount (full non-refundable payment).

    Le Castel, Normandy, France

    Le Castel

    This 19th-century chateau runs all-inclusive family holidays with organised activities during school vacations, and is perfect for children with a woodland den, sandpit, croquet, bikes and swings to play on. This Easter, stay in one of their four lovely family suites for 3, 4 or 7 nights; there’ll be an egg hunt in the grounds with a Bucksfizz breakfast thoughtfully provided for the adults. Prices start at £700 for 3 nights (childcare is extra)

    Memmo Baleeira, Algarve, Portugal

    Memmo Baleeira

    Right on Europe’s most westerly point is this airy and sleek hotel, close to stunning beaches and with great family facilities including a trampoline, heated indoor pool, games room, playground, bouncy castle and interconnecting rooms, plus surf school! Over Easter weekend 2 children under 12 are free if staying in a Memmo Suite, the kids club is operational, there’s the option of a boat trip and family fishing, and the kids menu is just E8 per child.

    Villa Cervarolo, Puglia, Italy

    Villa Cervarolo

    A restored farmhouse with striking contemporary makeover built around four trulli (dry stone huts with conical roofs endemic to this part of the country), which works brilliantly for a family who likes to holiday in style. There’s a stunning pool, three bedrooms, a bathtub, outside BBQ and full kitchen. Even better: there’s 10% off bookings in April (7 night minimum)

    Song Saa, Koh Rong, Cambodia

    Song Saa

    For a once-in-a-lifetime barefoot luxury family holiday, head to this enchanting all-villa eco-resort on an unspoiled archipelago. For kids there are warm, shallow seas, swimming lessons, treasure hunts and tailored snorkelling tours of the reef. Over Easter there’s pancake making, egg painting and an egg hunt, a hot cross bun cooking class and an outdoor movie night, there’s a special Easter Sunday lunch too. And through April stay 4 nights and pay for only 3.

    Europa House Apartments, Little Venice, London

    Europa House Apartments

    London is a great place for an eggciting family adventure and this collection of stylish two-bedroom family-friendly apartments in a quiet residential area makes an excellent base. You get well-equipped kitchens, a toy cupboard for kids to help themselves to and a special Kids Directory listing local parks and playgrounds as well as a Top Ten Fun Things to Do in London. Over Easter you’ll also receive l’artisan du chocolat eggs and cinema tickets to the Everyman cinema for all the family. Rates start from £315 per night (3 night minimum).

    Posted in Family Travel, Kids, Top 10. Tagged , , , , , , , ,
MAR05

Amazing landscapes

 
  • Whether it’s the South African plains or the rocky terrain of Iceland, these i-escape hotels all have one thing in common: truly stunning surroundings…

    Awasi Patagonia, Torres del Paine National Park, Patagonia, Chile

    Awasi Patagonia

    The iconic peaks of the Torres del Paine National Park have long been admired by adventurers, including renowned explorer Florence Dixie, who pitched her tent here in 1878. The breath-taking vistas and wildlife-spotting might have remained largely the same, but the accommodation options have been upgraded to include this rustic-luxe 12-lodge retreat. Days are spent out on adventures with your personal guide – maybe glacier-walking, biking, kayaking or riding. And after all that, your attention will turn to a soothing massage in your villa, followed by a deep soak in your outdoor Jacuzzi.

    Villa Arcadio, Salo, Lake Garda, Italy

    Villa Arcadio

    A former monastery, Villa Arcadio has been beautifully restored into an elegant 18-room boutique hotel where sleek furniture and hi-tech gadgets sit comfortably alongside exposed stone walls and remnants of 13th-century frescoes. The views from the glamorous lounger-lined pool are magical – it’s just the spot for lying back, drink in hand, and gazing out at the boats shimmering across azure Lake Garda.

    Douar Samra, near Imlil, Morocco

    Douar Samra

    This small, colourful guesthouse offers a welcome as warm as the surroundings are beautiful. Wild, remote and unspoilt, this is the heart of some of Morocco’s best trekking country where you can embark on day hikes, horse rides and even ascend the towering 4,000m Toubkal peak. If you prefer gazing at the landscape rather than hiking through it, the roof terrace offers wonderful panoramic views. Owner Jacqueline fell under the mountains’ spell many years ago and we reckon you will, too.

    Shakti 360 Leti, near Almora, Uttarakhand, India

    Shakti 360 Leti

    The views from this Himalayan hilltop retreat will make your soul soar. The incredible location redefines ‘remote’ – getting there isn’t easy, but it’s worth it. Glass walls maximise the stunning mountain views and the cabins are constructed from local stone, canvas and timber to blend into the landscape. Inside, you’ll find gigantic beds wrapped in duvets and locally woven pashmina blankets, and slate floors strewn with sheepskin rugs. Tuck into an intimate gourmet dinner in the dining room before enjoying a spot of late-night star-gazing by your private fire pit.

    Estancia Huechahue, near Junin de los Andes, Lake District, Argentina

    Estancia Huechahue

    Picture the scene: you’re galloping on horseback through virgin mountain landscapes with condors soaring overhead. As twilight falls you head home to a dinner of succulent beef roasted over an open fire, a few glasses of red wine and a deep night’s sleep. Like the sound of it? Well, this is reality during a stay at Estancia Huechahue, an authentic cattle and horse ranch in the foothills of the Andes. You’re guaranteed a warm welcome from host and guide Jane, too: she and her staff are boundlessly caring and it’s the kind of convivial place where firm friendships are made.

    Ion Hotel, Thingvellir National Park, Iceland

    Ion Hotel

    Close to Thingvellir National Park, this sleek hotel is surrounded by a rugged landscape of moss-covered lava fields and steaming rivers. After experiencing all that the great Icelandic outdoors has to offer – from climbing glaciers and volcanoes, to snorkelling in Arctic waters and marvelling at huge geysers – a soak in the outdoor hot pool is hard to beat. Apart from, perhaps, a glimpse of the show-stopping Northern Lights through the bar’s panoramic windows…

    Aire de Bardenas, near Tudela, Spain

    Aire de Bardenas

    Nestled between green wheat fields and the sprawling, barren Bardenas Reales National Park, this cool hotel was designed to blend into its unusual rural surroundings. The playful industrial design continues in the minimalist yet comfortable rooms (housed in olive-green cubes), the whirling turbines on the ridge, and the walls of wooden crates that mark the perimeter. The park’s surrealist sandstone outcrops are made for exploring, whether it’s on a guided walk, a mountain bike or even a Segway.

    Croft 103, near Durness, Sutherland, North Scotland

    Croft 103

    Set amid a majestic wilderness of loch and mountains, these 2 remote boltholes make for a heavenly romantic escape. Walls of glass frame sweeping panoramas, allowing you to drink in the wildly beautiful landscape from the cosy comfort of your bed, or even the bathtub. And the lodges are beautiful on the inside, too: floors are concrete resin, walls are wood-clad, there’s crisp linen on the 7-foot beds, and the ensuite bathrooms feature Caithness stone walk-in power showers and clawfoot tubs.

    Samara, Graaf-Reinet, South Africa

    Samara

    Stood atop a mountain, gazing out across 280km of unfettered South African reserve, our evening game drive made us feel truly on top of the world. This is the Great Karoo, and Samara’s owners are carefully re-establishing the area’s flora and wildlife – cheetah, rhino, giraffe and the rare mountain zebra can all be spotted on foot or from the comfort of just a handful of jeeps. Stay in the Karoo Lodge if you’re after old colonial décor, the Sibella Suites for a front-row seat to waterhole antics, and the Manor House if you’re a group wanting some extra pampering.

    Tiara Yaktsa, near Cannes, Cote d’Azur, France

    Tiara Yaktsa

    Although it’s only a short drive from Cannes, this romantic clifftop hotel  feels a world away from the city’s hustle and bustle. Every vantage point – from your room’s balcony to the restaurant – allows you to absorb striking panoramas across the glistening sea and around the lush, green hilltown-dotted coast. The beautifully spoiling Moroccan-styled rooms have tiled floors, pretty silver lamps, sumptuous beds and gorgeous bathrooms.

    Posted in Our Favourite.... Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,
MAR03

Escape of the Week… Ion Hotel, Thingvellir, Iceland

 
  • We love a rugged, wilderness view and they don’t come much more dramatic than the sweeping landscape surrounding Iceland’s Ion Hotel. This Scandi-chic hotel features panoramic windows so you can watch the Aurora Borealis from the comfort of the bar, and you’ll also find a decadent spa, thermal pool, world-class restaurant and luxurious interiors to keep the wilds at bay.

    Despite its isolated location, there’s an abundance of activities available: from snorkelling in the icy waters of the Silfra rift to hiking up glaciers and horse riding. Back at the hotel, the Lava Spa and its steaming outdoor thermal pool is the perfect spot for unwinding with a few cocktails, whether its post-exertion or not!

    Rooms: The 46 rooms come in 2 different arrangements. The Deluxe rooms, where we stayed, may feel compact at 20sqm, but they pack a punch with stunning open views (rooms 215 to 219 are particularly good as they look onto the lake). The décor is unmistakably Nordic: polished concrete walls, sheepskin rugs and wooden furniture provide a softer – and eminently comfortable – version of the rugged landscape beyond. The Standard rooms are simpler and lack the interior drama of the Deluxes, but they’ve still got incredible views and benefit from fluffy duvets and fair-trade linen, plus a TV, WiFi and a kettle for making hot drinks. The bathrooms are unfortunately rather tiny (though well-stocked with perfumed goodies), but with those world-class views, we didn’t really mind.

    Food: The food at Ion Hotel makes it a destination in itself. Silfra the incredible on-site restaurant, serves ‘New Nordic’ specialities and we loved our meal of Arctic char (there’s a big picture of this red-bellied fish on the wall) with pickled cucumbers, pan-roasted scallops with risotto, and a skyr crème brulee (the chef’s delectable speciality). Presentation is achingly beautiful; each dish is a feast for the eyes as well as the mouth. And, if you’re lucky enough to be there at the right time for the Northern Lights, the restaurant will dim the lighting to give the natural wonder centre stage.

    Breakfast also has a Nordic twist, with Icelandic specialities such as salmon and pickled herring in mustard sauce alongside the mainstays of a good hotel breakfast.

    When to go: If you’re after outdoor activities and milder temperatures, the best time to visit is the summer – when it’s also possible to see puffins! Though, if you’re keen to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights, you’ll have to come in winter (October to March). Our stay in October felt perfectly timed as we avoided the crowds, enjoyed the outdoors and saw the lights twice!

    i-escape gift: a bottle of wine at time of stay.

    Read the full review and book Ion Hotel >>

    Posted in Escape of the Week. Tagged , ,
FEB28

Our summer short-haul favourites

 
  • With the chances of a long, hot UK summer looking slim, we have put together a range of short-haul favourites for super-easy getaways.

    The selection brings together family-friendly options from our 850-strong Kids Collection, including an indulgent retreat in France’s Languedoc region and a value villa holiday on the Greek island of Skiathos, as well as stylish couples’ escapes in sun-drenched destinations such as Croatia and Sardinia.

    Prices start at just £57 per night for a family of 4 in Greece and £65 per night for a couple in Sardinia.

    For Families

    Skiathos Holidays, Greece – great value on Skiathos’ upmarket Kalamaki Peninsula

    Skiathos Holidays

    Set in serene gardens on Skiathos’ secluded Kalamaki Peninsula, this collection of self-catering villas, studios and apartments (each sleeping 2-6) is sure to become a favourite with i-escape families. There are sofabeds, baby cots, highchairs and lots of outdoor space, and the child-friendly tavernas nearby will suit parents who don’t want to cook; breakfast can even be rustled up at the cabana-chic bar for an additional charge. Best of all, the beach is on the doorstep, so you can roll the kids out of bed and straight onto the sand. There’s plenty to explore nearby, too – hillside monasteries, wild coves, forest hiking trails and tiny, uninhabited islets.
    The Junior Suite (sleeping 2 adults and 2 children) is available from £57 per night (accommodation only).

    Country Kids, France – luxury apartments on a converted Languedoc farm

    Country Kids

    These 7 apartments (each sleeping 4-12) offer hassle-free family holidays that combine childcare with an endless list of activities. While the kids climb trees, bounce on trampolines, go on treasure hunts, head off on tractor rides and make new friends, parents can unwind with wine-tasting sessions, tennis coaching, massages in the spa, and canoeing on nearby lakes. Babysitting is provided twice a week so grown-ups can enjoy date nights at local restaurants, and on Fridays the littl’uns are treated to a breakfast pyjama party while parents have a much-needed lie-in. Everything is covered when it comes to food, too – summer rates are all-inclusive; at other times you self-cater in the fully equipped kitchens. There’s even a bar plus a shop selling homemade ready meals, and welcome hampers are provided on arrival.
    Apartments are available from £381 per night, based on 4 sharing on an accommodation-only basis. All-inclusive summer rates start at £1,034 per night, also based on 4 sharing.

    Finca Naranja, Spain – self-catering cottages in flower-filled fields

    Finca Naranja

    Architect Conchita Kien has designed 4 stand-alone cottages at her Andalucian finca, which sits in the mountains near Ronda. All are spacious, airy and clean-cut, with a unique fusion of Southeast Asian and Spanish décor. Two have mezzanine sleeping areas for up to 3 kids, while the others can fit an extra bed or baby cot. The ethos here is easy living from the word ‘go’ – fridges come stocked with ingredients for making delicious breakfasts, and at dinnertime guests can cook in their kitchenette or drive 15 minutes up the road to the restaurants of Ronda. There’s heaps of outdoor space, too, with a lovely pool, hammocks strung from trees, a chill-out area and honesty bar in a meadow, and a play area and trampoline for the children.
    A Deluxe Suite is available from £155 per night, based on 2 adults and 2 children sharing (breakfast ingredients included).

    For couples

    Domu Antiga - stylish new B&B in Sardinia’s mellow interior

    Domu Antiga

    Hidden in the tiny village of Gergei in the heart of Sardinia is Domu Antiga, a serene B&B which opened in 2013. This restored 19th-century farmhouse has just 3 bedrooms, all with beautiful rustic-chic touches such as embroidered linens, chunky rafters and turquoise shutters. It’s the perfect rural escape – wake to bountiful breakfasts served in the garden or in front of the kitchen fire, then head out to explore the island’s breath-taking interior – a sparsely populated wilderness of olive groves, gorges and megalithic ruins. Guests can even learn the secrets behind local cuisine through cookery courses and bread-making classes, available on request.
    Rooms are available from £65 per night, based on 2 people sharing (breakfast included).

    Likya Gardens Hotel, Turkey – uber-romantic retreat on the Turquoise Coast

    Likya Gardens

    This adults-only hotel on the edge of pretty Kalkan has just 7 slick suites, each with a private plunge pool, a sun-trap deck and a seafront cabana with butler service and an iPod dock. Sip cocktails while listening to your favourite playlist, then climb down the ladder for a dip in the sparkling Mediterranean below. Private gulet cruises around hidden coves can be arranged on request, and there are plenty of stunning beaches nearby. Come evening, tuck into a delicious Turkish dinner delivered straight to your terrace, or walk into the village for fresh fish and a friendly buzz.                                                                                                            Suites are available from £270 per night, based on 2 people sharing (breakfast included).

    Divota Apartment Hotel, Croatia – contemporary apartments in historic Split

    Divota Apartment Hotel

    Spread across converted stone buildings in the charming neighbourhood of Veli Varoš, this collection of rooms and studio apartments achieves a rare blend of authentic and modern. The interiors are sleek and contemporary, with white furniture and colourful artwork; some have terraces or balconies, too. Self-cater or head out to one of the bars and cafés on Split’s pretty waterfront; if you’re feeling lazy, breakfast can be delivered to your door for an additional charge. It’s perfect for couples seeking a ‘let your hair down’ holiday, but also caters for groups (some rooms and apartments interconnect, and there’s a 3-bedroom house for 6-7).
    Rooms are available from £92 per night and studio apartments from £121 per night, based on 2 sharing (accommodation only).
    Suites are available from £270 per night, based on 2 people sharing (breakfast included).

    Browse our Kids pages for more of our family favourites.

    For more romantic getaways, take a look at our full collection.

     

    Posted in Our Favourite..., Uncategorized. Tagged , , ,
FEB26

Easy Escapes for March

 
  • Spring is that most wonderful time when clear, sunny days call for romantic minibreaks and quiet beach getaways – you’ll get a good dose of vitamin D and still beat the summer crowds. But if afternoon strolls and languid lunches aren’t really your thing, there’s always the option of a long-haul adrenaline-fuelled adventure, instead.

    We’ve scoured the globe for great prices, so 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…

    Vivacious Venice – £275.50 per person (3 nights, 12-15 March 2014)

    Venice canals

    Venice canals

    Venice tops a lot of people’s bucket lists, and with good reason. Where else can you meander through culture-rich islands (there are 118 of them to explore) with a shimmering lagoon on one side and grand historical palazzos on the other? It is a city full of beauty, where every twist and turn reveals a new artisan, gallery, church or canal.

    Gio and Gio

    Gio and Gio

    Stay: at 18th-century B&B Gio & Gio, just a 5-minute walk from Piazza San Marco, where 3 elegant bedrooms are filled with antique chests, 18th-century portraits and Murano glass chandeliers. A 3-night stay in a Double Room comes to £160.50 per person.

    Fly: from London Gatwick to Venice Marco Polo with easyJet for £115 per person, departing on Wednesday 12 March and returning on Saturday 15 March (direct flights).

    From the airport: catch one of the frequent buses or water taxis to Piazzale Roma, then take the vaporetto (waterbus) along the Grand Canal (towards San Marco) and get off at the Santa Maria del Giglio stop. Once on dry land, it’s a short walk to the B&B. Alternatively, you could take a private water taxi.

    Total Cost: £275.50 per person, including all taxes.

    More info: Getting there and other accommodation options

    Cool Cote d’Azur – £383.90 per person (6 nights, 24-30 March 2014)

    Nice

    Nice

    A popular playground for the unfeasibly well-heeled, the Cote d’Azur sweeps along southern France and is dotted with hidden coves, hilltop retreats, cultural hotspots and glitzy towns. Late March is the perfect time to visit as the summer crowds are yet to descend and sunny days are near guaranteed (temperatures are pushing 20C). In fact, there’s no reason not to jet off right now…

    Hotel Du Clos

    Hotel Du Clos

    Stay: at stylish Hotel du Clos, a converted 17th-century farmhouse which oozes French elegance. Nestled in a hilltop village above Antibes, its sweeping lawns are surrounded by olive trees, a boules pitch and an alluring pool, plus there’s a Michelin-starred restaurant serving up delicious, contemporary French fare. The hotel is currently offering 6 nights for the price of 5, meaning a 6-night stay in a Standard Room is just £265.50 per person.

    Fly: from London Gatwick to Nice with Norwegian for £73 per person, departing on Monday 24 March and returning on Sunday 30 March (direct flights).

    From the airport: the hotel can arrange a taxi to collect you from the airport – a one-way journey is approximately £22.70 per person (based on 2 people travelling together).

    Total cost: £383.90 per person, including all taxes.

    More info: Getting to the Cote d’Azur and other accommodation options

    Captivating Chile – £1290.50 per person (8 nights, 17-25 March 2014)

    Volcano Villarrica

    Volcano Villarrica

    There’s no better place to explore the great outdoors than Chile’s Lake District. Scale active volcanoes and explore the lava-lined caves below – adventures don’t come more thrilling than this! Try white-water rafting, kayaking and canopying, before unwinding in one of the area’s 13 hot springs.

    Hotel Antumalal

    Hotel Antumalal

    Stay: at Hotel Antumalal, a lake-side retreat that once played host to Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip. The architecture is classic 50s Bauhaus and rooms have huge picture windows showcasing stunning park and lake views. After a day’s adventuring, return to a cosy fire and a fabulous treatment in the hotel spa. With 4 nights for the price of 3 in a Double Room, an 8-night stay comes to just £451.50 per person.

    Fly: from London Heathrow to Santiago Arturo Merino Benitez (flights via Paris Charles de Gaulle) with Air France for £640 per person, departing on Sunday 16 March (overnight flight arriving on Monday 17 March) and returning on Tuesday 25 March (overnight flight arriving on Wednesday 26 March). From Santiago, you can take an internal flight to Temuco with LAN for £52 return per person (numerous daily flights available).

    From the airport: the hotel offers one-way transfers from Temuco for approximately £33 per person.

    Total cost: £1209.50 per person, including all taxes.

    More info: Getting to Chile’s Lake District and 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 26 February 2014.

    Posted in Easy Escapes. Tagged , , , , , , , ,
FEB24

Escape of the Week… Villa Samadhi, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

 
  • Nestled away in the heart of Malaysia’s capital, Villa Samadhi is the perfect retreat for couples who want to unwind after exploring the busy city. With a sweeping lagoon-style pool, sleek rooms and a rooftop bar with nightly cocktail gatherings, the hotel provides a personal service and romantic ambiance that makes it a cut above the rest.

    Villa Samadhi

    Kuala Lumpur is a destination with diverse influences and Villa Samadhi is a refreshing reflection of this in a city filled with carbon-copy chain hotels. Guests here are made to feel really special too; there’s a butler service, free cocktails in the evenings, complimentary fruit by the pool, in-room snacks, and a shuttle service to run you around.

    Villa Samadhi

    Rooms: The rooms are huge, even the great value Crib Rooms are 50sqm, and most come with a kingsize bed so high you almost need a ladder to climb into it. Each is different, but they all feature natural tones, interesting textures (polished dark wood, concrete made to look like leather) and sleek furniture. You also get a balcony or terrace, a minibar, air con and all the usual electronics (satellite TV, DVD player, iPod dock, WiFi). Our favourite was The Loft, a huge room with a private rooftop pool to splash around in. Similarly, the Luxe Crib, Sarang and Luxe Sarang Rooms each have a Jacuzzi plunge tub on the balcony or beneath a roof opening in the bathroom.

    Villa Samadhi

    Food: Mandi-Mandi, the hotel’s private restaurant, is fronted by inventive and talented Executive Chef Thiti Thammanatr. The modern Asian menu mixes world cuisines with creative flavours in playfully challenging and utterly delicious dishes. We gorged on mushroom soup accented by coffee, kaffir lime and a spoonful of truffle oil, a feather-light tranche of salmon served with a punchy lime salsa and moelleux au chocolat with candied orange. If you find yourself with itchy feet and curious taste buds (although we doubt you will), Kuala Lumpur is firmly on the map as a foodie hotspot with a number of destination restaurants and tempting street based offerings nearby.

    Food at Villa Samadhi

    When to go: Kuala Lumpur’s temperature hovers between 30-35 degrees all year round, with tropical rainstorms likely to erupt at any time. Peak times are December and January (making it essential to book well in advance), but the weather remains warm throughout the year. Monsoon season is between November and February and can be a little prohibitive if you’re planning to visit the east coast islands.

    Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

    i-escape guest review:  “Fantastic place with personal service and beautiful spaces. They really step out of their way to make the most of their guests’ stay”. 

    Emily, Hong Kong (12.10.13)

    i-escape gift: a welcome drink, dried fruit compote and bedtime chocolate

    Read the full review and book Villa Samadhi >>

    Posted in City Breaks, Escape of the Week. Tagged , , ,
FEB21

Top 10 family-friendly hotels in the Med

 
  • In the last instalment of our series looking at great family-friendly places to stay this year, our Kids Collection Editor, Nadine, chooses her Top 10 around the Mediterranean.

    Almyra, Paphos, Cyprus

    Almyra, paphos, Cyprus

    The sun shines on this stylish resort 300 days a year. Families will be delighted by the excellent kids’ clubs catering for all ages, the huge range of watersports and games, the small sandy beach and the kids’ pool. On a practical note, everything for babies and toddlers can be provided by their Baby Go Lightly service.

    Azur Hotel, near Antalya, Turkey

    Azur Hotel

    Families will appreciate this great-value beachside hotel for its friendly service, lovely pool, safe lush gardens, and charming wooden cabins, but most of all for its location just a 5-minute stroll from stunning Cirali beach.

    Palmizana, Sveti Klement island, near Hvar, Croatia

    Palmizana, Sveti Klement island, Croatia

    This colourful family-run retreat has an enchanting Bohemian vibe. The island is car-free so kids can explore freely, plus the beach is shallow, there are 2 playgrounds and if you don’t fancy rustling up dinner in your villa’s kitchenette, the 2 restaurants offer kid-friendly fare and half-portions.

    Palazzo Radomiri, near Kotor, Montenegro

    Palazzo Radomiri, near Kotor, Montenegro

    One of the gems in our new Montenegro collection, this waterfront palazzo will suit outdoorsy families who will love swimming off the jetty, kayaking in the Bay of Kotor, and cycling along the coastline. Back at the hotel, you get kids’ menus, a large pool and babysitting on request.

    Modus Vivendi, Psematismenos, Cyprus

    Modus Vivendi, Psematismenos, Cyprus

    Chic yet cheap, these rustic self-catering suites are set around a sociable pool and great for discerning families on a budget. There are heaps of activities nearby including a Camel Park, Watermania park, and beaches.

    Villa Viganj, Peljesac Peninsula, Dalmatia, Croatia

    Villa Viganj, Peljesac Peninsula, Dalmatia, Croatia

    With spectacular sea views, a fenced turquoise pool and a playground, plus 5 bedrooms (including a bunk room), this 16th-century stone villa is ideal for 2 families travelling together. Shops and child-friendly cafes are within walking distance, and there are excellent watersports nearby.

    Montenegro Stone Cottages, near Herceg Novi, Montenegro

    Montenegro Stone Cottages, near Herceg Novi, Montenegro

    Perfectly placed with stunning views towards the coast, these 2 pretty self-catering cottages, set in a restored village turned gated community, are great for families with smaller kids, and those on a budget. There’s a shared pool, woodland to explore, and Herceg Novi’s beach and fort are just a short drive away.

    Xaghra Farmhouse, Gozo, near Malta

    Xaghra Farmhouse, Gozo, near Malta

    Perfect for large families and good value, this rustic farmhouse sleeps 6-8, and has a pool, baby equipment to borrow, and a well-equipped kitchen. There’s a house book with suggestions for local shopping and outings; boat trips and beaches are within easy reach, and beach toys are provided.

    Stone Cottages Hvar, Hvar, Croatia

    Stone Cottages Hvar, Hvar, Croatia

    This boutique hideaway is immersed in nature on the unspoilt south coast of this lovely Croatian island. Ideal for 2 families together – it sleeps up to 10 in a cluster of beautifully restored traditional dwellings – the residence has a great pool, tennis courts, a volleyball pitch, mountain bikes to borrow and extensive gardens.

    Med-Inn, Bodrum Peninsula, Turkey

    Med Inn, Bodrum Peninsula, Turkey

    This serene boutique hotel is just 10 minutes from Bodrum airport, and provides lovely Mediterranean gardens, large, colourful sea-view suites, and a decked jetty. Head out to find hidden beaches and coves, local markets, and ancient ruins; return to sample fresh fish in the family-friendly restaurant.

    Browse our Kids collections for more stylish places to stay as a family >>

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FEB19

Iceland highlights: From fire to ice to Reykjavik

 
  • As soon as we saw Monika Mukherjee’s photos from her recent trip to Iceland we just had to share them with you. Full of striking colours set off by the stunning Icelandic light, they really capture the feel of the country. Here, Monika describes her trip for us…

    Iceland is one of the places we’ve always wanted to go. We decided to go during winter, mainly because of the possibility of witnessing the Northern Lights. Iceland convinced us so much that we are already planning to go back there in the future.

    Northern Lights, Iceland

    Nature still shapes this country. The boiling water bubbles underneath your feet, volcanoes spout above your head and earthquakes shake things up.

    Reykjavik

    Reykjavik

    Reykjavik

    Reykjavik is the world’s northernmost capital. The city is among the greenest, cleanest and safest in the world.

    Reykjavik

    Reykjavik

    Reykjavik

    Iceland never stopped amazing us, with volcanoes, hot springs, geysers, glaciers, waterfalls, rift valleys and lava fields offering a new view around every corner. It’s a land of contrasts. From fire to ice.

    Iceland

    Iceland

    Iceland

    Gullfoss, Iceland

    Gullfoss waterfall, known as ‘Golden Waterfalls’ is situated in the upper part of River Hvita. It’s Europe’s most powerful waterfall and the most popular tourist attraction in the country. Mostly during summer months you may see multiple rainbows at once above the river. We were stunned by the beauty and size of Gullfoss, it is definitely a ‘must-see’ during a trip to Iceland.

    Iceland

    To see the rift valley we visited Thingvellir National Park. This enormous geologic rift has created spectacular scenery, including dramatic cliffs and Iceland’s largest natural lake. It is also responsible for the volcanic activity which created the island. Iceland is one of the most geologically active places on Earth with more than 15 volcanoes that have erupted in the last century.

    Iceland

    Iceland

    Iceland

    Monika Mukherjee is a hobbyist photographer who spends most her time travelling around the world with her husband Anirban. She loves art and exploring new places. You can find out more about their trip to Iceland and follow Monika and Anirban’s other travels on their blog, Travel Magnet.  

    Posted in Guest Blogs. Tagged , ,
FEB17

Family Escape of the Month… Europa House Apartments

 
  • Away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre, yet within striking distance of zoos, parks and all the main attractions, family breaks to London are a breeze at super-stylish Europa House Apartments.

    Toys at Europa House Apartments

    Staying here is like having the keys to your very own city pad – one that’s spacious, elegant, in a picturesque Little Venice location, and has secure underground parking (a rarity round these parts).

    Europa House Apartments

    Rooms: The sun streams into these 12 stylish apartments through huge windows, reflecting off the neutral furnishings and giving a wonderful sense of space. Subtle nods to the natural world are all around, with splashes of green and bronze in cushions, paintings and vases of fresh flowers. There’s plenty of room for the whole family to spread out and make themselves at home: the 2-bedroom apartments have a living room with a dining table, a hallway-cum-study, a kingsize ensuite bedroom, a twin room, an extra marble-clad bathroom (with a tub and powerful shower) and a very roomy kitchen.

    Europa House Apartments

    Food: The huge kitchens are perfect for whipping up snacks and family meals. You’ll find a fridge-freezer, a dishwasher, a washing machine and a tumble dryer, as well as all the usual kit like an oven, a kettle, a microwave and pots and pans. The utensil selection is so extensive we couldn’t work out what they all were! You’ll be welcomed with a pack of tea, coffee, milk, cookies, hot chocolate and mineral water, and there’s a small supermarket and fab delis nearby for stocking up. If you’d rather someone else did the hard work, a shopping service is available for an additional charge and you’ll arrive to find everything you ordered neatly packed away. If you fancy eating out, there are plenty of family-friendly restaurants nearby or you can book a babysitter and head to The Warrington next door for some posh pub grub.

    Kitchen at Europa House Apartments

    Kids’ activities: Being so close to the canal, there are boat trips to enjoy and plenty of ducks to feed. There’s The Puppet Theatre Barge in Little Venice and the big London parks are great for running around and exploring. London Zoo is a bus or taxi ride away. Back at the apartments, there are games, kids’ DVDs and a secure garden with a playground. Our Kids Collection Editor’s daughter loved the sign on the toy cupboard door which says ‘Keep Out, Kids Only!’.

    Kids playground at Europa House Apartments

    Baby equipment: There are plenty of essentials to hand: baby cots, high chairs, baby baths, potties, changing mats, toilet steps, socket covers, children’s crockery and cutlery.
    Staff can book trained babysitters on request, although there’s a registration fee on top of the hourly rate so it isn’t a cheap option.

    Little Venice, London

    Press review: “Europa House, which is located in the willow-flanked Little Venice quarter, has already become a popular choice for families who prefer to stay away from the bustle of the city centre.”
    Centurion Magazine

    i-escape gift: A Geodesis scented candle

    Read the full review and book Europa House Apartments >>

    Posted in City Breaks, Family Escape of the Month, Family Travel, Kids. Tagged , , ,