Family Escape of the Month… Ca’s Penelope

  • Extended family escapes are a doddle at this beautiful Mallorcan house (sleeping 8-10) in the pretty village of Fornalutx. There’s something to keep everyone amused: a roof terrace with breathtaking views for the readers, a turquoise pool with loungers for the sun worshippers, a high-spec kitchen for the foodies, and more games, toys and books for the kids than you can wave a Wii remote at.    

    Ca's Penelope

    Inside, this family home has a vintage-meets-contemporary atmosphere. Slate, polished concrete and natural riverstone all sit alongside arty touches from the owner’s 15 years in Paris – think silk onion-bulb lampshades, purple velvet cushions and voile curtains.

    Ca's Penelope

    Rooms: There are 5 bedrooms, 2 sitting rooms, an open-plan kitchen-diner and plenty of terrace space to spread out in. The Master Suite has a Balinese emperor-sized four-poster and, in the ensuite, a freestanding oval tub and a walk-in riverstone shower. Opposite is a small twin room with bunk beds and a basket full of toys. Upstairs are 2 large doubles (one of which can be converted into a twin) and another twin room. All have ensuite bathrooms with fluffy robes, slippers, hairdryers and organic toiletries.

    Ca's Penelope

    Food: You can request catering or whip up your own feasts in the well-equipped kitchen. The welcome hamper contains everything you need to get started, including breakfast basics (tea, coffee, juice, bread, butter, bacon, eggs, jam, honey, cereals, yoghurt) alongside a whole cooked chicken, vegetables, rice, pasta and a yummy home-made cake. You can eat poolside, on the terrace, or inside around the oval mahogany table for 10. There’s a well-stocked shop in the village, as well as 3 bars, 2 cafés and 4 restaurants for times when you don’t fancy cooking.

    Ca's Penelope

    Kids' kit and activities

    Customer reviews: “A wonderful villa and magical location for our two weeks with extended family (ages ranging from 10 months to 87 years). Jenny was always available if needed, and incredibly generous with her time and spirit. We had to remind ourselves that this was her home, not ours, as she genuinely made us feel so at home. If there was one downside (and we’re struggling to find any), the smallest office room used by Jack was a bit tight for a 6ft 18-year- old rugby-playing lad, and the only room without air conditioning (although Jenny thoughtfully provided a fan). Remember to take a torch for the walk back after lazy nights in Fornalutx (especially good on Thursday nights when there’s live music in the square). We’ve been back 24 hours and miss it, miss it, miss it!”
    Carol, United Kingdom (02.08.14)

    Read the full review and book Ca’s Penelope >>

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

Bird and Knoll’s dream escapes + WIN a luxury scarf

  • We’ve asked our friends at Bird and Knoll, makers of beautiful cashmere-blend scarves inspired by travel, to share their favourite i-escape destinations, along with some stylish tips on what to pack. Plus, we’re giving you the chance to WIN one of their luxurious scarves – a fail-safe accessory for any trip.


    Macayla: Bali is one of my favourite destinations and the inspiration behind our Bali | Festival Fever scarf. It holds a special place in my heart and no trip is the same. I find the culture so intriguing, the people so warm and welcoming, the food so delicious, and the beaches so beautiful and relaxing…

    Bambu Indah

    I like to think of myself as a savvy traveller with an environmental bent, so extraordinary eco-chic retreat Bambu Indah is top of my wishlist of places to stay on the island. It’s made up of 13 beautifully restored Javanese houses with muslin-draped four-posters and unique touches – a glass floor suspended over a fish-filled pond in one (Undang), a handmade copper bathtub in another (Afrika). They’re set in a rice-field garden on the edge of the Ayung river and once belonged to a Javanese nobleman before being rebuilt by Canadian jewellery designer John Hardy and his wife Cynthia.

    All in all, Bambu Indah sounds utterly magical – an awakening to all the senses in a setting that truly embraces the scenery, fresh produce and cultural insights that Bali has to offer.


    Packing essentials for a Bali escape…

    – A Bird and Knoll scarf to use as a kimono or sarong – and great for wrapping over your shoulders when visiting temples or in the cool of the evening.
    – A floaty dress for romantic dinners; something from Zimmerman would fit the bill.
    – A versatile tote. My favourite is the State of Escape ‘Escape’ bag – perfect for day trips and the beach.



    Natalie: Provence seems to bring out the best in poets, painters and photographers alike, and its patchwork of lavender, poppy and sunflower fields inspired the vivid images of Van Gogh and Cézanne. We also found inspiration there, and the idea for our Provence | La Poste scarf came from the simplest of things – a beautifully antiqued marble letterbox in a Provençal village that had a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’!

    Hotel Particulier

    One of our favourite places to stay is Hotel Particulier. It’s on the doorstep of Arles’ myriad attractions, but you may not want to leave the grounds: it’s easy to while away the day soaking up the effortlessly glamourous décor, strolling through the garden, swimming in the sun-soaked pool, or reading a book in the Moroccan-accented courtyard whilst scooping fresh raspberry jam onto delicate little pastries.

    Hotel Particulier

     Packing essentials for Provence include…

    – A Bird and Knoll Provence | La Poste scarf – the final edit to any outfit.
    – A Bassike cotton jersey dress that can take you from day to night with a simple change from strappy sandals to heels.
    – A good book!




    Macayla: The sublime aqua waters of Thailand’s bays provide relaxation and adventure in equal measure. Lie back in a long-tail boat as it ferries you out to secret beaches where softly lapping waves will tickle your toes and ease your worries away. It’s somewhere I could visit a million times over without ever getting bored.


    I would love to stay at The Sarojin when I’m next in Thailand. Situated on a secluded beach on Khao Lak and surrounded by rainforest, it’s the kind of place you would visit to celebrate a special occasion. With spacious 5-star rooms, drool-worthy food and an ‘imagineer’ to make your dreams come true, it really does sound like somewhere a wanderlust traveller should experience at least once in their lifetime. You even get little luxuries such as bath rims the perfect size for champagne glasses and a deli-bar in each room!

    The Sarojin  

    Packing essentials for Thailand…

    – A good hat. I adore my Red Lippy Panama hat in classic navy or apricot.
    – A Bird and Knoll Thailand | Long Tail Lounging scarf to use as a cover-up for the beach or pool, a wrap over your shoulders, or a headscarf for long-tail adventures (watch how to style your Bird and Knoll here).
    – Your favourite pair of denim shorts – great with a white singlet and sandals for the daytime, or heels and a shirt for the evening.


    The meeting of a fashion mind and a creative eye, Bird and Knoll was founded by Macayla Chapman and Natalie Knoll in 2013. Each of their luxurious oversized cashmere-blend scarves is printed with their artistic photographic vignettes of an iconic and exotic destination – a narrative of the modern woman’s contemporary lifestyle and travel aspirations.


    Competition time!


    We are giving away the 3 beautiful Bird and Knoll oversized cashmere blend scarves featured in this blog, valued at £152 each. For your chance to win one simply follow the steps below:

    – Follow @birdandknoll and @iescape on Twitter OR
    – Follow @birdandknoll and @iescapehotels on Instagram
    – Tell us where you would travel with your scarf using the hashtag #iescapewithbirdandknoll

    The 3 lucky winners will be announced on 22 May, 29 May and 5 June on Twitter or Instagram.

    Congratulations to:

    Katie Smith who won the Bali scarf (22 May) and will be taking it on her Thai honeymoon.
    Lynne Headley who’d love to wear the Provence scarf (29 May) on a relaxing break to the Maldives
    Sangeeta who will take her Thailand scarf (5 June) on a tour of the ancient ruins and beaches of Greece.

    Terms and conditions:
    • To enter the competition, follow @birdandknoll and @iescape on Twitter or @birdandknoll and @iescapehotels on Instagram and tell us where you would travel with your scarf using the hashtag #iescapewithbirdandknoll
    • Opening and closing dates of the competition are 15 May – 4 June 2015.
    • Three separate winners will each win one Bird and Knoll luxury scarf.
    • The winners will be notified on Twitter/Instagram on 22 May, 29 May and 5 June 2015.
    • Competition is not open to i-escape or Bird and Knoll employees.
    • Competition is open only to those aged 18 and over.
    • No purchase is necessary to enter.
    • There will be no cash or alternative prize available.
    • i-escape and Bird and Knoll reserve the right to amend or withdraw the competition without notice due to circumstances beyond their reasonable control.
    Posted in Competitions, Our Favourite.... Tagged , ,

Spotlight on… Brighton, Sussex and Kent

  • As the great British summer begins in earnest, we’re turning our attention to the South East, where a happy mix of vibrant cities, retro seaside towns and gentle countryside provides everything you need for a blissful staycation.

    Why go?

    With rolling hills, endless beaches and great links from London and elsewhere, Sussex and Kent make UK breaks an absolute doddle!

    East Sussex is home to the funky magnet of Brighton, while West Sussex is simply dreamy – think Bosham, Arundel and those Downs. Both are fruitful corners for seekers of shingle beaches, stylish antique shops and beautiful clapboard houses.

    Over in Kent, you’ll find timeless villages, great walking and (in our opinion) the best beach in the South East: Camber Sands. Ramsgate is on the up, too, with 900 Georgian and Victorian listed buildings, lifestyle and retro shopping, convivial pubs, and a picturesque yacht marina.

    Rye - Weald HouseHighlights

    First things first: quirky, creative Brighton is the cultural pillar of the South East. Its grand old pier is worth a leisurely stroll (and a stick of Brighton rock), while Kemptown is the city’s Notting Hill – all vintage shops, gay bars and boho eateries. The South Lanes are admired for their upmarket boutiques; the North Lanes – where the locals go – for their shops of character. Don’t miss The Set, where evenings bring a superb seasonal tasting menu and daytimes offer decadent ‘dirty diner-style’ fish sliders. Upstairs, Artist Residence’s eclectic rooms allow you to immerse yourself in the city’s art scene. Alternatively, stay just down the beach at Kemp Townhouse, a smartly restored Victorian terrace.

    If you want to mix city with countryside, book into Blue Door Barns, just a 30-minute drive away. The setting is a best-of-British showreel: at the foot of the rolling green South Downs, with handsome Lewes, glamorous Glyndebourne and the chalky Seven Sisters sea cliffs all nearby.

    Seven Sisters - Blue Door BarnsThe South Downs National Park itself covers 1, that are rich with diverse wildlife, breath-taking views and utter tranquillity. It’s the perfect choice for a glorious country walk – there are countless recommended routes, but we particularly like visiting Blackdown. The highest spot in the south of England, it gazes out over 3 counties (Sussex, Surrey and Hampshire). Stay at 17th-century barn turned tranquil B&B The Barn at Roundhurst, or head to the sleepy village of Burwash, where Pelham Hall’s whimsical rooms are sure to enchant.

    The South East also has a wealth of endearing market towns with which to fall head over heels. One of our favourites, Rye, is often described as one of England’s most beautiful medieval towns. Its cobbled maze of steep streets and narrow lanes (the most famous being Mermaid Street) is bright with art galleries and craft shops. Down on Strand Quay, pretty tug boats and a weekly farmers’ market await. The George combines olde English coaching-inn quirks with contemporary British style, while The Ship Inn’s playful coastal décor will inject a sense of fun into your break.

    Over in Kent, Ramsgate is experiencing a revival. We recommend wandering the independent boutiques while enjoying all the fun of a retro beach holiday: 1950s ice-cream parlours, seafront fish and chips, and traditional tea rooms galore. The town has a Royal Harbour (granted by George IV), plus some wonderful architectural gems dating from its Georgian and Victorian seaside-resort heyday. Albion House is a stunning heritage building with the finest setting in town, enjoying sunshine through its windows from dawn until the last rays of sunset.

    Albion HouseTo really soak up the bucolic beauty of the Garden of England, higgledy-piggledy The Weald House offers Grade II-listed home comforts in the heart of the Kentish countryside, with excellent walking and nature reserves nearby. Best of all, Camber Sands’ huge expanse and impressive dunes are just a 20-minute drive away.

    When to go

    The South East is great for a minibreak at any time of year. Summers are bucolic, and autumns rich with colour and harvest. Winters have a bleak beauty, and in the springtime nature bursts forth.

    Camber Sands - The Weald HouseOur top tips

    Visiting en famille? Take the kids to Ashdown Forest – home to Pooh Bear’s Hundred Acre Wood and the original Pooh Sticks Bridge.

    See our full South East England collection.

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

Escape of the Week… Memmo Alfama

  • Romance and sophistication are this week’s watchwords as we take a trip into Lisbon’s historic heart. Hidden down a cobbled street lined with orange trees is Memmo Alfama, an adults-only boutique gem with a warm vibe, light and bright rooms, and jaw-dropping views from its rooftop infinity pool.

    Memmo AlfamaNow filled with trendy cafés and shops and inhabited by a cosmopolitan crowd, Lisbon’s oldest district, Alfama, has seen a period of regeneration in recent years. We loved weaving our way through the maze of streets on the hotel’s free guided walking tour and discovering hidden gems that we’d otherwise have wandered straight past.

    Rooms: The 42 compact rooms feel airy thanks to their calming colour palette and the glass wall separating the bathroom from the bed (don’t worry, there’s a full-length curtain if you want a bit of privacy). A framed Fado LP reminds you that Alfama is the home of the traditional Portuguese folk music, while the fine linens and piles of cushion mean you’ll sleep in the utmost comfort. The Alfama Rooms and Terrace Rooms are the best option if you want to gaze out over rooftops and bell towers to the river.

    Memmo Alfama

    Memmo Alfama

    Food: A tasty breakfast spread of fruit, cereal, local cheeses, breads and pastries is laid out in the lounge alongside a fridge laden with yoghurts, juices and milk in cool little glass bottles. Bacon and eggs can be cooked to order. We loved loading our plate and taking it up to the terrace to eat in the sunshine. For other meals, a press of a bell will summon a waiter from the wine bar to take your order of super-fresh seafood, salads or Portuguese tapas. For lighter refreshments, you can raid the honesty fridge for drinks and nibbles. And there’s loads of choice when it comes to eating out in Lisbon, from rustic Portuguese food at pretty Patrono opposite the Museu do Fado, to a quirky take on traditional dishes at 100 Maneiras in Bairro Alto – we loved the ‘codfish clothes line’ (pieces of dehydrated fish pegged onto a clothes line).

    Memmo Alfama

    When to go: Lisbon is fabulous at any time. Coastal breezes mean the temperatures are bearable even in the height of summer, and there are festivals throughout the year (including Carnaval in February, the Lisbon Book Fair in April/May, and Rock in Rio Lisboa in mid-May). June can be raucous in Alfama, when the area hosts street parties to celebrate various saints’ days – it’s a fascinating time to visit, but don’t expect much sleep. Note that many restaurants and shops close in August, though Memmo Alfama is open at all times.

    Alfama rooftops

    Memmo Alfama breakfast room

    Customer review: “A very charming hotel in a beautiful location. The staff were charming too – very friendly and helpful. One of the nicest hotels I have ever stayed in.”
    Graham, United Kingdom (16.03.15)

    i-escape gift: free local liquor and pastel de nata

    Read the full review and book Memmo Alfama >>

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

3 boutique beauties for under £125

  • Yes, you did read that right. From a spoiling Somerset pub to a boutique Scottish motel and a groovy Brighton guesthouse, this trio of getaways all have rooms where you can bag a stylish stay for £125 or less.

    White Hart Somerton, Somerset

    White Hart Somerton

    White Hart Somerton

    In the heart of a pretty Somerset town, overlooking the church and the market square, sits this superb pub with rooms. Upstairs, the beautiful bedrooms each have their own quirky charm – maybe hand-printed wallpaper, a claw-foot tub or groovy Anglepoise lamps. Downstairs in the light and bright restaurant, you can feast on fresh local food for lunch and dinner, and eat your fill of delicious breakfast treats – choose from hot dishes such as creamy scrambled eggs and chorizo sausages, or homemade granola with fruit and yoghurt.

    Rates: The ‘Small’ (but beautiful!) rooms start from £85 per night, or you could upsize to a ‘Medium’ room from £105 or a ‘Large’ room from £120. Breakfast is included.

    Special offer: 3 nights for 2 (Sunday-Thursday) until end-June 2015

    i-escape gift: a free Bramley body and bath product (250ml)

    Mhor 84 Motel, Trossachs National Park, Scotland

    Mhor 84

    Mhor 84

    Wonderfully remote yet just an hour from Glasgow and Edinburgh, this boutique motel stands sentry at the gateway to the Scottish Highlands. It offers cheap and chic at its eclectic best: the rooms have white walls and an array of mismatched antique furniture, offset by pretty mountain views. With a focus on local sourcing and sustainably, the food is also a real treat and is served all day, from big breakfasts and afternoon tea to dinners of Scottish delicacies like Shetland mussels and slow-cooked lamb.

    Rates: The simple but stylish doubles/twins and the family room (complete with double bed and bunk beds) all cost £80 per night (room only).

    i-escape gift: welcome tea or coffee plus some homemade cake

    Artist Residence Brighton, East Sussex

    Artist Residence Brighton

    Artist Residence Brighton

    Conveniently placed for Brighton’s station, beach and sights, this chilled-out guesthouse is great fun. Rooms fall into one of two categories – ‘Arty’ (quirky murals and crazy colours) or ‘House’ (Farrow & Ball tones and antique furniture) – and half have a sea view. Breakfast (included each morning as a thank-you for booking through i-escape) is eaten at a long communal table, where favourites such as pancakes and the Full English are washed down with locally brewed coffee and served with a side of conversation. Come evening, we’d highly recommend a drink or two (or four in our case!) in The Cocktail Shack.

    Rates: The ‘Tiny Arty Sea View’ rooms start at only £60 per night.

    i-escape gift: Free daily breakfast

    * all prices and offers correct as of 8 May 2015
    Posted in Our Favourite.... Tagged ,

Our favourite recipes… Baked egg with sage

  • Have you ever tried a delicious hotel dish on your travels and wished you could recreate it at home? Us too! So, we’re going to share some recipes from our favourite foodie hideaways in a new series of blog posts.

    First up is this double bill of breakfast treats from Neri, who runs Berdoulat & Breakfast – an intimate Bath-based B&B with a Turkish twist, where morning feasts encompass delights from Britain and Istanbul.

    Baked egg with sage (serves 1)

    This simple dish is a firm family favourite.


    2 large or medium eggs
    Fresh sage leaves


    Butter a small ramekin dish. Break in 2 eggs and season thoroughly (Neri uses a combination of red, white and black ground peppercorns). Finely chop 2 sage leaves and sprinkle them on top.

    For a nice runny yolk, bake at 180 degrees for 10 minutes. If you prefer a harder yolk, leave in the oven for a touch longer.

    Tomato and pomegranate salad (serves 2)

    Neri serves this zingy dish as part of the ‘Full Turkish’ breakfast offered to her B&B guests, and it’s always been very well received. You could also serve it like a salsa alongside a tagine or various other Middle Eastern dishes.

    You can buy pomegranate molasses from most good supermarkets or health food shops, and it’s a good investment.


    7-8 cherry tomatoes
    Olive oil
    Fresh thyme
    Fresh mint
    Pomegranate molasses


    Cut the cherry tomatoes in quarters. Finely chop the herbs, add some salt and mix with the tomatoes, pomegranate and olive oil. Serve on a dish of your choice, and drizzle a little of the molasses on top.

    Bon appétit!

    Keep your eyes peeled for more tempting recipes appearing on the blog soon…

    Posted in Foodie, Our Favourite.... Tagged , ,

Escape of the Week… Chateau La Thuiliere

  • Chateau La ThuiliereHidden in 7 hectares of rolling parkland, this chocolate-box chateau in the Dordogne countryside is a cosy oasis of peaceful romance. Hardly surprising, considering its provenance: the original owner built it as a wedding present for his wife in 1889.

    The 7-room hotel has held on to its original romanticism and now offers a wonderful escape for couples and foodies drawn by the beautiful landscape and the pretty towns and markets nearby. However, it’s the friendly welcome from hosts Eduard and Jordi that makes the real difference – it’s like being invited to some supremely thoughtful friends’ opulent country retreat.


    Rooms: The rooms vary throughout the hotel (larger, château-feel rooms on the first floor, and smaller rooms with great views on the second), but you can be assured of luxury at every turn. Expect Mies van de Rohe Barcelona chairs, sleek beds and gilded antique mirrors, plus homely touches like fresh flowers, free bottled water and Miller Harris bath products. All rooms have kingsize beds, together with little indulgences such as fluffy robes and slippers. This isn’t a place for those who can’t switch off, though, as they’re blissfully free of WiFi.

    Chateau La Thuiliere

    Food: Delicious fare is available throughout the day, from a fine spread of pastries, yoghurt, bread, ham and cheese in the morning to a rotating 5-course dinner in the evening. For the latter, you can look forward to a sophisticated marriage of flavours which may include scallops in carrot velouté or calamari on rocket pesto with black salt; there’s also a really fantastic wine list, with excellent recommendations from the hosts. For lunch, you can enjoy the Bistro24 brasserie-style menu featuring homemade quiche and other staples – perfect to enjoy on the sunny terrace.

    Chateau La Thuiliere

    Author’s tip: Bring some nice clothes so you can dress up for dinner – food this good deserves a little effort!

    La thuilière

    Customer Review: “We had a great three nights in this lovely spot and our hosts could not have been more charming. Highlights: breakfast in the amazing kitchen basement and the delicious evening meal. And the bed was super comfy.”
    Mike, United Kingdom (02.10.14)

    EOTW 5

    Read the full review of Chateau La Thuiliere >>

    Posted in Escape of the Week. Tagged , , ,

Snapshots from… a weekend in Cornwall!

  • Senior Editorial Assistant Melissa takes us on a wind-swept tour of our newest Cornwall hotspots – just don’t expect any balmy beach shots!

    Before you ask: no, our springtime jaunt was not blessed with glorious sunshine. Nor were we lucky enough to escape the worst of a Friday evening on the M5 (or ‘weekender traffic hell’ as it might be better known). Instead, we were met with the full force of Cornwall’s stormy seas and many a delay.

    But did it ruin our long weekend away? Not a jot! It’s testament to the glorious hideaways in which we found ourselves that neither the weather nor the traffic could dampen our spirits, and each warm welcome ensured that our stresses fell away within moments of downing our suitcases.

    That, I’ve now discovered, is the magic of Cornwall.

    And thus it was that late one blustery Friday night we arrived at i-escape’s most recent Cornish discovery: the newly opened, utterly enchanting Trewornan Manor (near the foodie mecca of Padstow).

    Trewornan Manor

    Trewornan Manor

    The guest lounge’s roaring fire and ample honesty bar soon had us feeling warm and cosy. And by morning we felt utterly at home amongst the ancient house’s wonky doorways and towering sash windows – no doubt helped along by the excellent home-cooked breakfast.

    Trewornan Manor

    Trewornan Manor

    Being so new, this romantic adults-only boutique B&B is still fairly under the radar, so come now before its 4 bespoke bedrooms each have their own waiting list!

    Much restored by our first night on Cornish soil, we hopped back in the car to complete the second leg of our journey: a 1-hour drive to Penzance, at the very tip of the county.


    This time we were destined to discover the funkier side of the south west at much-loved Artist Residence Cornwall. When we heard that this vibrant guesthouse was launching its first eatery, we immediately nabbed an opening-weekend stay and prepared to indulge.

    The Cornish Barn-Artist Residence Cornwall

    And we weren’t disappointed; a smorgasbord of Deep South-inspired dishes, all created using the finest Cornish produce, filled the table of our comfy booth. Tender buttermilk chicken, sweet pulled pork and a perfect mac ‘n’ cheese were all washed down with tasty bottled beer (and a shared ice-cream sundae).

    The Cornish Barn Artist Residence Cornwall

    Thank heavens we were able to sleep off the decadence in our artist-designed loft room!

    Artist Residence Cornwall

    Artist Residence Cornwall

    But, I hear you cry, the weather! What did you do during the day if it was RAINING?! Granted, it was a shame that we couldn’t trot over to St Michael’s Mount (too windy) or blissfully stroll the local beaches (far too wet), but when the heavens opened we decided to eschew the great outdoors in favour of the much cosier indoors!

    Porthmeor Beach Cafe

    More specifically, indoors in St Ives. Boozy lunches are one of the many brilliant bonuses of being on holiday and super-chilled Porthmeor Beach Café, with it stunning beachfront setting, is now a firm favourite. We stretched an excellent lunch of tapas and bellinis out over 3 courses and nearly 3 hours – brilliant fun! Oh, and the café is right next to the Tate St Ives, so we popped in there, too.

    Fancy heading off on your own Cornish getaway? Take a look at our full collection.

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

Half-term escapes

  • May half-term is one of our favourite times of year to holiday as a family. The weather is near perfect all over Europe, prices are within reach, and the useful Bank Holiday means UK working parents can make the most of their annual leave. Best of all, many properties which get booked out for summer still have space, including these.

    Read on for Kids Collection Editor Nadine’s pick of half-term hideaways, all with special offers or fun activities planned for the last week in May.

    The Rosevine, Roseland Peninsula, Cornwall, UK

    The Rosevine

    The Cornish Riviera – the unspoiled south coast of the county – is the stuff children’s literature is made of: sailing, cycling, adventures in secluded sandy coves. This apartment-hotel is perfectly designed for carefree family holidays by the sea. You get kitchenettes and cool bunk rooms in the chic accommodation, and there’s a fantastic restaurant.

    Rosevine1Manoir du Moulin, the Vendée, France

    Manoir du Moulin

    Great value and with charming Canadian hosts, this beautifully renovated manor house is set in a quintessential French village (weekly market! lovely restaurant!). There are just 5 spacious suites, 4 of which can sleep families, and the wonderful gardens are great for roaming kids.


    Ca’s Penelope, Fornalutx, Mallorca, Spain

    Ca's Penelope

    Head inland to this lovely, uncluttered country house for 8-10, set just outside a gorgeous village. Both the lap pool and the roof terrace have superb views of the Tramuntana Mountains, and there’s a delightfully large and fragrant garden bursting with bougainvillea, jasmine and herbs.


    Le Castel, Normandy, France

    Le Castel

    Kids of all ages will get a kick out of staying in a real château, bouncing on the beds in large family suites, and tearing around 4 acres of parkland and woodland. The convivial English host, Jon, has created a house-party atmosphere with lovely evening feasts for the grown-ups (kids dine at 5pm), as well as family barbecues on the terrace and a help-yourself bar.


    Masseria Prosperi, Puglia, Italy

    Masseria Prosperi

    This purpose-built contemporary country house (available by the room or as a rental for up to 18) enchants all who stay. The interiors are beautifully styled, with just the right dash of vintage married with sleek fittings, and the food is plentiful, authentically local and sublime. The friendly owners have 2 daughters of their own and live next door, so they’re on hand to saddle up the resident ponies and horses whenever suits.


    Metairie Montplaisir, Conques sur Orbiel, near Carcassonne, France

    Metairie Montplaisir

    We reckon this sociable and stylish guesthouse would make a delightful base for a family. There’s a river at the foot of a large garden, and 5 bright and airy rooms to choose from; those wanting a bit more privacy can opt for the 2-floored apartment. Guests also rave about the food crafted from market-fresh produce.

    Metairie 2

    Levendis Estate, Ithaca, Ionian Islands, Greece

    Levendis Estate

    A magical island escape, Levendis has 4 cute 2-bedroom cottages, a stunning infinity pool and organic gardens and orchards, all set within a gated hillside estate with wonderful sea views. Families can get back to nature and feed the sheep, or stroll the 15 minutes down to the beach. Each cottage has a well-equipped kitchen stocked with organic treats for your arrival.


    Chateau les Merles, near Bergerac, Perigord, southwest France

    Chateau les Merles

    Just north of the Dordogne is this large, honey-coloured château, which has had a pleasing contemporary makeover. It welcomes families in Deluxe rooms, Suites and a 2-bedroom apartment, or in one of the 3-bedroom self-catering villas a short stroll away. The food is locally sourced and really superb, with plenty of dishes to suit kids.


    Villa Ippocampi, Koutouloufari, Crete, Greece


    For an easy-to-reach retreat which works perfectly for primary school-age children, head to this small and friendly hotel, a mere 20 minutes from the airport. Sleep in 2- or 3-bedroom suites decked out in attractive blue-white décor, with handy kitchenettes for whipping up snacks.


    Castello di Gargonza, near Monte San Savino, Tuscany, Italy

    Castello di Gargonza

    You can’t beat staying in a fortified medieval hilltop village, with a warren of little streets to explore and long views across thick Tuscan forest (you’re surrounded by 500 acres of protected land). There’s a range of charming rooms and apartments to choose from, a shop on site, and a restaurant if you don’t want to self-cater.


    Take a look at the rest of our collection with May half-term availability >>

    Posted in Family Travel, Kids. Tagged , , , , ,

Escape of the Week… The Church Street Hotel

  • Mexican casita meets south London bolthole at our latest Escape of the Week. Ideal for independent types who’ve already followed the capital’s tourist trail, this funky and friendly hotel in Camberwell is a great base for delving deeper into the London scene.

    The Church Street Hotel

    This is no boring beige boutique. It was opened by Spanish brothers Jose and Mel, who took 3 old townhouses and turned them into a fun hotel (complete with tapas restaurant) that’s filled with Latin American flair. It’s well-placed for exploring, too: a 30-minute train ride will get you to the vibrant South Bank, and Oxford Street and its fantastic shopping is just a bus ride away. Nearby, Brockwell Park is great for panoramic city views, while Brixton buzzes with interesting markets and live music.

    The Church Street Hotel

    Rooms: Decked out in bright hues that range from cobalt blue to lime green to red pepper, the rooms are vibrant but cosy, with solid wrought-iron beds dressed in top-quality linens and striped Mexican blankets. Spanish film posters, Romanian stained glass and gleaming tile-covered bathrooms add to the quirkiness. We loved the generous extras, too: complimentary Green & Black chocolates, L’Occitane toiletries and a small pot of hot sauce ‘a la casa’.

    The Church Street Hotel

    Food: The day starts with a delicious organic breakfast of homemade bread, boiled eggs, honey and yoghurt alongside cooked options (extra cost) such as halloumi with homemade baked beans, huge mushrooms and plantain. The fab tapas restaurant, Angels & Gypsies, is the setting for lunch and dinner, when high-quality seasonal ingredients are whipped up into mouth-watering dishes. The cod with peas and patatas pobres with sweet peppers and rosemary were absolutely delicious. The best way to end a meal is with amazing cocktails in the Communion Bar – the ‘Grind & Bubble’ (prosecco, Punt E Mes, vanilla and orange-flower infused vodka, limoncello and fresh ortanique) is our top tip.

    The Church Street Hotel

    Author’s tip: Foodies could lose themselves for hours at Borough Market (20 minutes’ walk from the hotel; open Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays). It’s one of the largest food markets in London, with a labyrinth of stalls brimming with fish, meat, fruit and veg, cheese, bread, cakes, coffee and ciders from all over the UK. On Thursdays the market’s demonstration chef is around to dish out tips and advice.

    Brockwell Park, London

    Customer review: “Buzzy, fun and good value for Zone 2. Reminded me of hotels I’ve stayed in in Mexico and South America. The rooms are small but they are super-clean and light. Staff are lovely, Angels & Gypsies is GREAT. A really cool base for London.”
    Liz, United Kingdom (03.04.15)

    Special offer: 30% discount in August 2015

    i-escape gift: a bottle of Cava during your stay

    Read the full review and book The Church Street Hotel >>

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