A hotel to remember: Baros Maldives

When I ‘announced’ that I was going to Baros Maldives on a recent trip, something quite special happened: I had literally dozens of readers comment and react to the news in a very unique way. Why? Because many of you have discovered this Maldivian secret sailing paradise and have been going back year after year.

Having been there for 5 days on a recent trip – it is easy to understand why. It is a very small island (with only 70 something rooms, both over water and beach villas), service is incredibly attentive and it does feel like home. You all got to know the staff, or better, the staff got to know you over time and you are not interested in anything else except going back. I get it!

We arrived to this little piece of paradise by speedboat from Male airport (takes 25 minutes and transfers are included for all Sovereign customers) and before we knew it, we really were ready to enjoy our gorgeous beach pool villa at Baros Maldives.

Our beach pool villa at Baros Maldives

baros maldives hotel slh sovereign luxury holidays bedroom beach pool villa

Our room was absolutely gorgeous and very very recently updated. The standard was very good and it felt spacious yet very comfortable. These beach pool villas are 130+ sqm and as private as they get.

We had a king size bed with a pop-up TV at the end of it, a seating area and a writing area. The room also had a sizeable storage area which kept our luggage out of sight.

You could also find a Nespresso coffee machine, 2 1.5l bottles of water (replaced every day free of charge), ironing board, iron and new flip-flops.

Being a beach pool villa (which I have to say, is my favourite room category in the Maldives), you have a large outdoor area with your own secluded pool, day bed, 2 sets of sunloungers (one for the pool and one for the beach) and a seating area.

baros maldives hotel slh sovereign luxury holidays outdoor beach pool villa

Getting in the spirit of the island, we also ordered breakfast and lunch almost every day – because it rained sometimes, and also because we just didn’t want to leave. And I am sure you can see why we did it!

baros maldives hotel slh sovereign luxury holidays breakfast beach pool villa

But needless to say, the best part is, without a doubt, your own ‘private’ stretch of beach. You have your own sun loungers and no one else can use them. We had neighbours as the hotel was at full capacity when we were there, but they were all very quiet. The hotel caters to adults mostly (children under 8 are not allowed) and those who choose this island resort do so to get away from it all. Literally.

The bathroom at Baros Maldives

baros maldives hotel slh sovereign luxury holidays beach pool villa bathroom

Our bathroom was mostly indoors and was very spacious. Inside we had a full-sized bath (and don’t you love that bath tray?), separate toilet, shower and double vanity units. The toiletries used were L’Occitane Verbena range which were lovely. My only comment was that we did not have spares for the outdoor shower (but we left a note to housekeeping and they then kept replacing them in both showers).

baros maldives hotel slh sovereign luxury holidays beach pool villa bathroom outdoor shower nespresso

As expected, the room was cleaned each morning and then turned down before dinner. We never had issues with timings and more often than not, they managed to do it whilst we had breakfast. Overall, service was excellent.

The food at Baros Maldives

Being a smaller island, I wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of dining options. But they weren’t as limited as I thought: for breakfast you could go to the excellent buffet breakfast (which also offered many cooked-to-order items like eggs, pancakes, etc) or you could order in-villa (with an extra charge).

My highlight for breakfast was having fruit actually cut and prepared in front of you and also what the hotel called ‘Eye-opening shots’, which changed every day. It was a little detail, but a lovely one.

baros maldives hotel slh sovereign luxury holidays breakfast dinner food restaurants

Lime was also opened for lunch (we did try it once, but then indulged in our room every day) and dinner – and we loved the curry options they had. Lots of international cuisine (something for everyone), but we really did enjoy the various types of curry.

On two of the nights we went to Cayenne, which has more of a grill concept, with a starters buffet, which had really good sushi and sashimi options. We then chose the Maldivian seafood platter (approx $130 for 2) which we paired with Cloudy Bay, of course ($120/bottle).

On our last night, we tried the Lighthouse, which is the hotel’s fine dining restaurant. We started our meal outside but due to the rain, we moved inside. The food was excellent and a meal will cost approximately $100-150 per person, depending on what you choose and excluding drinks.

baros maldives hotel slh sovereign luxury holidays dinner food restaurants

On the photo above you can see Lime from 2 different perspectives (and also the Lighthouse restaurant).

Below, you can see the main bar (which I found incredibly quiet at all times, and honestly quite surprising as people did disappear immediately after dinner), and the ‘Lighthouse’ restaurant.

baros maldives hotel slh sovereign luxury holidays lighthouse restaurant

I know you must be asking.. what about the drinks? Well, there were also options. We loved watching the sun set every day at the Lighthouse Lounge, located on the first floor of the building and enjoyed what I can call, gin & tonics with a view. (A Gin will cost you around $17 plus service and tax, which you can round-up to $22)

baros maldives hotel slh sovereign luxury holidays cocktails

We asked for them to be served in a wine glass and no one batted an eye lid. Even better, each day they remembered ‘our preference’ – which was kind of followed by other guests too!

After dinner, we did go to the main bar, but as I said before, we found it very quiet at around 9pm. Cocktails are $15 (+service + tax) and we ended up going to the room earlier than normal as we did feel a bit lonely at times.

The Spa at Baros Maldives

As the weather wasn’t brilliant at times, the spa was our to-to place when it rained (in the afternoon). We had a massage every day (60 mins for $159 ++) and one day we even tried a private yoga class ($60 ++ per person).

baros maldives hotel slh sovereign luxury holidays spa massage

Most hotel spas in the Maldives are ‘over water’ and I loved that this one was inland – very different and so so so green. It had ‘little houses’ which were self-contained treatment rooms and the therapists really were fantastic.

baros maldives hotel slh sovereign luxury holidays spa massage yoga lessons

What do to at Baros Maldives

I know many readers worry about going to the Maldives ‘as there is nothing to do’. I have said many times that you need to be prepared for something unique: Maldives time. It goes so quickly, it is quite unbelievable.

We had planned to do some SUP and other things (like a sandbank picnic and the unique breakfast in the middle of the ocean), but the weather did not allow it. But when we had sun, which was actually every day for at least half the day, we did something we are very good at: we went to the beach where we swam, sat and read.

baros maldives hotel slh sovereign luxury holidays beach fun beach pool villa

And we did it again and again…

baros maldives hotel slh sovereign luxury holidays beach reading beach pool villa

But the highlight was a private snorkelling session ($100 for 2) – which I highly recommend you do at the beginning. You will then know where to go, etc. And you also get photos!

baros maldives hotel slh sovereign luxury holidays snorkelling

Final thoughts

It was easy to see why most people go to Baros and return time after time. The island is small – but not too small – but everything has a purpose and place. The service was really attentive and friendly (lots of smiles), the rooms were exceptional and the food was really good too.

baros maldives hotel slh sovereign luxury holidays beach sunset

And the sunsets were not bad either 😉

Until the next time!

xo

Mrs. O

Factbox and disclaimer: I was a guest of Sovereign Luxury, who organised this trip. Opinions are, as always, my own (but I loved it, promise).

Sovereign ( Tel: +44 1293 765 003) is offering a seven-night holiday to the Maldives staying at the five-star Baros Maldives in a Pool Villa on B&B basis from £3,895 per person – a saving of up to £1006 per couple. The offer includes airport security fast track and access to UK private airport lounge (where available), airport transfers, and return international flights from London Heathrow with Qatar Airways in economy class. For business class flights, the cost is £5,279 per person. Based on departures 14 May 2017.

 

Anti Valentine’s – Trips That Are Better To Do Alone

Are you sick of reading travel advice for loved up couples? In this anti-Valentines list we explore 5 trips that are much better to do alone:

1. Go Dating & Clubbing In Las Vegas

If you’re single and visiting Vegas on Valentine’s Day, have no fear. Glam up and head out to one of the speed dating events, where you can squeeze 50 dates into an hour at the Sixth Street Bar & Grill. Then head over to the Moon nightclub for their “Not a Valentine’s Day Party“. Alternatively, f you don’t mind mingling with couples, drown yourself in a delicious cocktail (or two) with a view in one of the cocktail lounges with a view in Las Vegas.

2. Eat Out & Party In New York

Start your evening in New York at Ramen, the one-dish, ramen-only restaurant, which is famous for its isolation booths and allows you to eat your entire meal without any human interaction (food is ordered via a notepad and delivered by a set of hands through a curtained partition). Eat here alone and happy, without feeling like a leper!

After a meal out on your own, join the Boycott Valentine’s Day Pub Run. Organized by the Brooklyn Running Company, you can enjoy a bit of exercise, plus beers at two different Brooklyn pubs.

End the evening at the friendliest valentines party for singles. This very popular upscale party will have 300+ singles and takes place at The DL Rooftop Lounge, 95 Delancey Street.

3. Spa Yourself to Happiness

Try a singles spa holiday which you can book without the usual hefty premium of travelling alone (just google “singles spa holidays” and you will find loads of choices). Expect a friendly and nurturing environment at these trips designed for singles, special room prices, and the supplier will check thats the spa is ‘single friendly’ (with features such as sharing tables at dinner).

In England the Scarlett hotel in Cornwall is specialises in those travelling alone. I also particularly like the Wellbeing booster at the gorgeous Villa Padierna (pictured above) near Malaga in Spain. The healing properties of the spa waters, enriched with sulphur, calcium and magnesium clean impurities, relax the nervous system and ease muscular and skeletal aches and pains. Lovely.

4. Visit the Breakup Museum Ever in Los Angeles

The Museum of Broken Relationships is Los Angeles’ is ultimate anti-Valentine’s Day attraction. This museum on Hollywood Boulevard has everything you need for some personal perspective on relationships. The objects exhibited were donated anonymously from members of the public all over the world amd share stories about the breakdown relationships.

Stay at the fun Ace Hotel Downtown Los Angeles which offer a very special Valentine’s day daytime pool party Upstairs. They say: “Bring your sweetie or come for cruising”.

5. Book a flight Around The World

Why not explore the whole world. You only need to pay for one seat (which makes around the world tickets eye-wateringly expensive for couples or families who have to pay double or even 4x or 5x the price, having to pay for the entire family). Rejoice in the fact that you only need to pay for the one ticket, and if you travel on overnight flights, you won’t even need to pay for a hotel. My pick of the best Business Class airlines will help you choose the best option if travelling in Business Class. For economy, just pick the cheapest ticket and fly away!

If you need a hotel stay, you can always check out our own luxury travel auction where you can grab a hotel stay for a fraction of the published price.

Romantic Cocktail Lounges With A View in Las Vegas

Continuing our series of top beaches and luxury hotels around the world, I pick the most romantic cocktail lounges with a view in Las Vegas.

Mandarin Bar at the Mandarin Oriental, Vegas

The lobby of this Mandarin Oriental is on the 23rd floor along with Twist restaurant and the Mandarin bar, both of which offer 180-degree views. In the Mandarin bar, three walls of dramatic floor-to-ceiling windows offer stunning panoramic views of the Las Vegas Strip (pictured above). Cocktail choices include the Manhattan-inspired Smoke & Mirrors or a Lovers Potion cocktail.

Skyfall Lounge at the Delano

This one is really high! Las Vegas Skyfall lounge is located on the 64th floor of the Delano hotel-within-a-hotel at Mandalay Bay. With a special Valentine’s Day menu and nibbles, the James Bond-inspired Skyfall provides a 180-degree view of the Strip. It feels so high that you could be in a plane. If you are in Vegas for romance, this would be a great place to propose plus it offers an incredible cocktail list.

OMNIA, Caesars Palace

Attracting DJs like Calvin Harris with a moving chandelier that hangs over the massive dance floor, this nightclub has an open air terrace that offers an al-fresco view of the Strip from Caesars Palace. It might not be as high as the other bars in this list but it still has a great view!

Nove Italiano, The Palms Fantasy Tower

This Italian restaurant offers excellent views from the 51st floor of The Palms’ hotel. You can eat or simply enjoy beer, wine and cocktails.

Foundation Room Las Vegas

Foundation Room Las Vegas is located on the top floor of Mandalay Bay Resort offering a breathtaking view of the Las Vegas strip. Enjoy an eclectic and seasonal menu with items including a 14-ounce Prime New York Strip & the Braised Long Bone Short Rib, paired with wines or a unique hand-crafted cocktail from some of the best mixologists Las Vegas. Foundation Room is perfect for an intimate night with that special someone or a unforgettable experience with a cocktail.

I have also reviewed the best hotel club floors and VIP lounges in Las Vegas.

Romantic Places On The Côte d’Azur Worth Staying Up Late For

Romantic Places On The Côte d'Azur Worth Staying Up Late For

Continuing our series of top beaches and luxury hotels around the world, I pick the most romantic places on the Côte d’Azur, worth staying up late for. My love for the French Riviera or Côte d’Azur is no secret. The climate, the scenery, the sophistication and that French “Je ne sais quoi” charms me into … Continue reading Romantic Places On The Côte d’Azur Worth Staying Up Late For

The post Romantic Places On The Côte d’Azur Worth Staying Up Late For first appeared on Luxury Travel Diary.

Romantic Places On The Côte d’Azur Worth Staying Up Late For

Continuing our series of top beaches and luxury hotels around the world, I pick the most romantic places on the Côte d’Azur, worth staying up late for.

My love for the French Riviera or Côte d’Azur is no secret. The climate, the scenery, the sophistication and that French “Je ne sais quoi” charms me into returning at least twice a year. Out of season Monaco sparkles at Christmas (even though you don’t get snow you get great decorations!).

If you want to capture more than one magical moment, Angelique from Riviera Secret will arrange private tours to experience unique moments on this gorgeous coastline.

Sip A Cocktail At Grand Hotel Du Cap Ferrat

Follow in the footsteps of Winston Churchill and Liza Minelli and take a drink on the terrace of the historic Grand Hotel du Cap Ferrat, a Four Seasons Hotel (pictured above). As day turns to night, enjoy drinks on the terrace to the sound of the live band. When you look out to sea, the pink flowers in the trees seem to contrast and then match the sky as the sun sets.

Gourmet Dining In The Hilltop Village Of Eze

The darling medieval hilltop village of Eze is perched on the top of the coastal mountains that run between Nice and Monaco. At 427m above sea level, Eze looks down upon the deep blue waters of the Cote D’Azur and feels a world away.

Chateau Eza is like stepping into a fairytale. Take a drink on the large terrace which is dizzyingly high. Their gourmet restaurant has floor to ceiling windows which boast extraordinary, 180° panoramic views right out to Nice. In the very distance you can see the planes circling and landing at Nice airport, (you can even see the runway lights!). More immediately below, Cap Ferrat sits, sparkling into the night. The food is equally breathtaking with a well deserved Michelin Star. It really is an unmissable evening- you’ll never eat anywhere else quite like this.

A Night At Cafe De Paris in Monaco

For me there is no better place to enjoy a beer and an olive and to watch the world pass by. Everyone dresses up the latest designer outfits and promenades under the night sky. The crowd stays up well past midnight and Jimmyz nightclub stays open into the early morning. The supercar ballet that circulates around Casino Square is mesmerizing and never ends.

Enjoy Fine Dining At Villa Belrose

At the other end of the Cote D’Azur, enjoy hillside meal at the Michelin Star restaurant at Villa Belrose, taking in the vista of Saint Tropez bay. With over 500 exclusive French wines to choose from, indulge in a seven-course dinner paired with exceptional wines chosen by the restaurant’s sommelier. Even if you are not staying here, you must pop up to the Hôtel Villa Belrose for drinks on their magnificent terrace and to absorb the amazing views.

Promenade La Croisette, Cannes

Promenade the palm tree lined “La Croisette” boulevard in Cannes which runs from one end of this pretty town to the other. Here you’ll find high end designer shops mixed with many beachside restaurants where you can enjoy fish any way you like, next to the sea.

Riviera Secret

How To Travel In Luxury On The Cheap In 2017

This guide highlights how to book into luxury hotels and travel in style on the cheap. Whatever your budget can afford, these tips and secrets will help you to travel in 2017 for less.

1. Travel Out Of Season

The oldest trick in the book. Lets take two of my favourites; the Marbella Club in Spain (pictured above) can be booked for under £300/room/night in March. Just a month later in April the price goes up to almost £600/room/night. The Hermitage in Monte Carlo currently has a 3 for 2 offer which brings the rate in at just over £200/room/night in March. In August, you are looking at the same room costing £650/room/night. The same goes for most luxury hotels; if you can bear to travel out of the main season you can make incredible savings.

2. Join The Hotel Loyalty Scheme

Even luxury hotels have loyalty schemes. Leading Hotels of the World: Leaders Club is a particularly good example. You can join as a standard member (costs $150) and get a room upgrade where available, free gift per stay, free night credits (1 per 5 stays) and free breakfast along with other benefits. If you join as an Unlimited member (costs $1,200) you get priority room upgrade, an additional free gift (usually bar credit of around $90 or afternoon tea; this is usually the same as you would get by booking with Finest Hotels and Resorts by Amex and Virtuoso) and get a free night every 4 stays instead of 5 as well as free airport transfer in some destinations. I have looked at whether it is worth upgrading from standard to Unlimited Leaders Club separately. Small Luxury Hotels also has a similar scheme. Fairmont gives nice suite upgrades with higher levels of membership.

3. Mattress run

It is an effort but it can be worth hotel hopping, particularly when you are collecting free nights on schemes like Leading Hotels Of The World. For example, if you book 8 nights in London at a single Leading Hotel of the World, you would generate 1 stay credit which works out at 1/4 or 1/5th of a free night (depending on whether you are Standard or Unlimited Leaders Club).

Conversely, if you booked 8 nights, each at a different member hotel in London, you would generate 2 free LHW nights if you were an Unlimited member or 1 & 3/5 if you were a standard level. PLUS you would get a free gift and credit in the bar/afternoon tea type gift on each stay if you were an Unlimited member. That is 8 afternoon teas or 8 x £75ish spend or similar (you would have to call the hotel to find out what the gift is). Last time I stayed at the Langham London, the gift was a significant spa credit at their amazing spa.

This is of course an extreme example but it does usually pay to move about and make the most of your loyalty scheme.

4. Look Out For Special Offers

Ensure you are subscribed to all relevant hotel email newsletters so that you can take advantage of 3 for 2 and 4 for 3 night stay offers.

5. Use A Luxury Travel Concierge

Luxury Travel Diary offers a Travel Concierge and can usually achieve a % cash back off rates you will find online. It is worth additionally connecting with a Virtuoso Agent (we can recommend one via our concierge) to ensure you are getting the best deal and offers. As an example, booking a stay at the Four Seasons Hampshire via a Virtuoso agent will get you spend in the bar and a welcome gift along with early checkin and late checkout, subject to availability.

6. Be Flexible And Take Advantage Of Flash Sales And Travel Auctions

If you are flexible, you can take advantage of special offers when they come up. Keep an eye on hotel websites for flash sales. We also have our own Luxury Travel Auction that auctions one-off stays at luxury hotels with no reserves and prices starting at £0.99 ($1.25).

7. Book At Newly Opened Hotels

Find out which hotels have recently opened and then book while they are still in “soft launch” stage. Many new hotels offered their guests discounts of more than 50% (including many extras) just after they open.

8. Pick A Less Expensive Destination

Taking Aman hotels as an example, who are opening a number of new hotels in Asia; their Asian properties are often significantly cheaper than their European or American counterparts. Equally destinations in Eastern Europe and Portugal can be cheaper than the old classics such as the Cote D’Azur, Amalfi Coast or Venice.

9. Don’t Over Pay Your Bank Or Credit Card For Currency Conversions

Be careful when using credit cards abroad. Most charge 3% on each transaction. If you are based in the UK, a Curve can save you significant money when spending abroad. It charges the MasterCard rate + 1%, compared with the 3% charged by most credit and debit cards. You can also get £5 free when you apply for their free card with my referral code NRJWI. Read about why £5 FREE + Cashback + Credit Card Points makes the Curve Card worth applying for.

For travel inspiration, you my want to take a look at our listings of the best white sand beaches and hotels in the world including the hotels we have most recently visited. You can also win a week in the Caribbean in our giveaway.

Review: Club Intercontinental Hong Kong Executive Lounge

Name: Intercontinental Hong Kong

In my series of articles reviewing the best executive club lounges in Hong Kong’s luxury hotels, I review the Intercontinental Hong Kong, Club Intercontinental Executive Lounge. Of note, there are two Intercontinental hotels in Hong Kong. The main “Intercontinental Hong Kong” is the flagship property and the better or the two properties. The other Intercontinental is the Grand Stanford. This is the review of the Club Lounge at the flaghship Intercontinental Hong Kong.

The Club Intercontinental is located on the first floor of the Intercontinental Hong Kong, unlike the Four Seasons Hong Kong Executive Lounge, The Grand Hyatt Club Lounge and the ICON Hong Kong Club Lounge which are at the very top of their respective skyscrapers. Regardless of the floor, this lounge still offers stunning views over the lobby lounge, Victoria Harbour and the Hong Kong skyline (see view pictured above).

The Club Lounge serves buffet breakfast, a really great afternoon tea (an impressive afternoon tea is a feature of many IC lounges; the one offered in the London Club Intercontinental is also impressive) and evening cocktails with Moet & Chandon champagne, premium wines, spirits and tempting hors d’oeuvres (cheeses and canapes).

Club InterContinental guests also enjoy personalised check-in and check-out service, dedicated Club concierge service, high-speed Wi-Fi Internet access and complimentary two hour use of the Stanford conference room (subject to availability).

Food
The breakfast (served 06.30-11.00) is a large buffet with a high quality array of produce including huge chunks of cooked salmon, meats like cripy bacon, cheeses, cereals and a massive array of fruit and breads, along with a la carte options which included eggs any way you like and even a mini steak!.

Afternoon tea (served 15.00 -17.00) is also excellent with an array of tasty sandwiches (egg, chicken , ham), cakes, scones and cream as well as a really outstanding selection of teas and very good coffee options. Everything you could want in terms of cold beverages is available including sparkling and still waters, cokes, juices etc.

In the evening the food offering (served 6:00 pm to 8:30 pm) is also excellent and easily makes up a full evening meal. Offerings include cold cheese, meat, and vegetables, to hot spring rolls, satay, and lamb, along with canapes and cocktails, beer, wine, spirits and of course champagne.

There are complimentary drinks and snacks served throughout the day and a wide selection of newspapers and magazines available.

This lounge is accessible to customers who book a Club Room at the Intercontinental Hong Kong or you can usually pay to upgrade to club access which is well worth it in this expensive city.

I have also reviewed best hotel club lounges in London and the best hotel club floors and VIP lounges in Las Vegas.

Four Seasons Hong Kong Executive Club

The Best Luxury Hotels In The Ardeche

The Ardèche National Park surrounds the Ardèche River in south central France, and is known for its spectacular gorges, rugged character and winding roads. This is a wonderful place to drive through the verdant countryside with views at every turn.

The most iconic image of Ardèche is the Pont d’Arc, a stunning natural 60 meter wide archway over the Ardèche River. The area is popular for sunbathing, swimming and kayaking and has a gorgeous sandy beach. There are also a number of very beautiful château in the region, and Mont Gerbier de Jonc, a volcanic mountain with three springs at its base, one of which is the source of the Loire river.

Flying to Lyon is the best way of reaching this area, with EasyJet offering direct flights from Gatwick and British Airways from Heathrow and then rent a car. Alternatively drive down towards the South of France in your own car. We have picked 5 luxury hotels in the region that are worth travelling to and that will help you enjoy this beautiful region.

Hotel de la Villeon, Tournon-sur-Rhone

Tucked away in a quiet side street, Hotel de la Villeon (pictured above) is situated in the picturesque town of Tournon-sur-Rhone, and ideally situated for exploring both the beautiful countryside and world famous vineyards of the Rhone Valley. Hotel de la Villeon is an 18th century mansion which has recently been converted into a luxury hotel. Extreme care has been taken with the process and many stunning original features have been preserved, filling the place with a real feeling of living history. The décor exudes an elegance of a bygone age – think marble fireplaces, crystal chandeliers, wooden floors and wing chairs. In the old stables, a contemporary, minimalist wine cellar and meeting area has been created, perfect for wine tastings and corporate events.

The hotel offers sixteen guest rooms, four of which are suites. Standard facilities in all rooms include free Wi-Fi, flat screen satellite TV, air conditioning and ensuite marble bathrooms with hairdryers and Molton Brown toiletries. Décor is tasteful in neutral tones and many of the rooms boast antique furniture and flooring as well as fragrant scented candles – a lovely little extra touch. With its intimate ambience and little courtyard area, bar Le Gabriel is the perfect spot to enjoy some of the world renowned local wines or a cocktail or two.

Auberge Du Lac, Saint Marcel lès Annonay

This is an elegant 4 star property with a gorgeous lakeside setting. Simple rooms are generously proportioned and decorated in natural hues. A lovely infinity pool flanked by stylish decking looks out over the beautiful lake. The view couldn’t be more idyllic! The acclaimed restaurant here serves modern French cuisine. All this plus plenty of activities in the surrounding area makes this hotel ideal for families. This is a great place to relax and hike.

Hotel Helvie, Ardèche

An elegant property in the charming little spa resort of Vals-les-Bains, in Ardèche, produces the famous Eau de Vals, a sparkling mineral water which is rich in bicarbonates, enjoyed both for its taste and its digestive properties. Large rooms at the hotel offer floor to ceiling windows, traditional furniture and meticulous attention to detail. Delicious regional cuisine is served in the restaurant and there is also a beautiful swimming pool at the hotel surrounded by shaded terraces.

You can also read about the top beaches and luxury hotels around the world.

Luxury Hotels In London With Rooftop Pools

Rooftop pools may not at the top of your list when booking a hotel in London, but in the summer, London can hit the early 30’s and what could be better than splashing about in a the sunshine on the roof of a luxury hotel?

The Berkley, Central London

This rooftop pool is on the seventh floor of the luxury Berkley hotel, located just up the road from Harrods in Knightsbridge. This is the only centrally located London hotel with a rooftop pool. Although the pool is slap bang in the centre of London, the ambiance feels more like one of Bath’s historic spas. Roman-esque pillars and mosaic detailing tiled in iridescent white and gold, give the pool a luxury ambiance which you will appreciate as you notch up some laps. The poolside loungers have views across the city and tables and chairs are perfectly placed for you to savour every fine bite and tipple from the spa menu.

Shoreditch House, East London

Members and hotel guests can use pool at Shoreditch House in East London, (pictured above). Shoreditch House describes itself as a members club with rooms in a converted east London warehouse and is a short tube ride from central London and all the attractions. Lounge on padded red and white loungers which look out over the London skyline, or take a dip in this rather trendy, urban rooftop pool.

The Ned, East London

Opening in the spring in the former Midland Bank headquarters in the City of London, will be a new flagship 5-star hotel from the Soho House group. The Ned hotel gets its name from the eminent architect who designed the building and has been redesigned using 1930’s glamour inspired by the transatlantic ocean liner. The highlight here is the rooftop space with swimming pool, rooftop bar and landscaped terraces. There will also be a health spa and gym and an underground bar in what used to be the safety deposit vault underneath the great banking hall. To use the pool you need to book a room or become a member.

The Ned also features in our amazing new hotel openings in London and you may be interested in finding out which hotels in London have executive club lounges.

Review: Casa Ricardo Near Sandy Beaches, Hidden Coves & Alicante

For a little taste of the Spanish way of life, truly immerse yourself in this beautiful country with a stay in a Spanish apartment. Casa Ricardo in Lliber is perfectly located for a relaxed family getaway enjoying Spain’s beautiful beaches and if one of your group gets itchy feet; there’s plenty locally for the more adventurous souls too; walking, cycling and golfing to name but a few! Direct flights from London to Alicante take just over 2 and a half hours, with several airlines flying the route including Ryanair and Easyjet and it’s then just over an hour’s drive from the airport, the owners are happy to assist with arranging transfers if required.

Pool & Activities

Lliber is a lovely location for a Spanish family holiday; a chilled village with lots of sunny spots to relax with a coffee or an afternoon beer and you are very well situated to take advantage of Spain’s beaches, towns and markets. The apartment is a short drive away from a selection of sandy beaches and tucked away coves; Calpe, Benidorm, Altea, Moraira and Javea are all in the facinity. It’s also a great location for wine lovers, you can stroll through the nearby vineyards; taste wines straight from the barrel locally before making your selection, visit local bodegas and generally surround yourself in delicious Spanish wines! I always find there’s one active soul in every group who finds the relaxing days a bit of a struggle; well there’s plenty for them too. The apartment is on a marked route for hikers which takes you past vineyards, mountains and dry river beds. Cyclists will also be happy here, if you bring your own bikes there is secure storage or bike hire is available locally. There are also three golf courses nearby and a set of golfs available for your use. When you need to relax after all the activity; summer 2017 sees the addition of a swimming pool for use by apartment guests; perfect for families.

Apartment

Casa Ricardo is a family owned apartment that has been recently modernised and the resulting interior design is beautiful. Very tasteful, soothing and homely. There is a well-appointed bedroom, a large family shower room, sitting and dining areas and a fully fitted kitchen. Outside there is a colourful, private garden with beautiful views of the surrounding hills and mountains, private parking and the bike storage. All the mod cons are available too; complimentary Wi-Fi, Apple TV, DVD Player, iPod docking station, large flat screen TV and a choice of DVDs.

The family owners live in a separate house on the same land and are very welcoming and happy to assist their guests; ask them for local tips, they’ll even act as local guides for you! If you are travelling with small children, high chairs or a baby bath these can be provided too. The apartment is always spotless and linens and towels are provided.

Dining

The apartment is well set up for self-catering but there is also the option, which we would definitely recommend, of having a delicious continental or cooked breakfast. There are lots of restaurants locally to try; Terrasses de la Torre is just a 10 minute walk away and is a traditional, family run Spanish restaurant – try the tapas. Ask your hosts for more restaurants recommendations in the area.

For a relaxed family break with good food and good wine and something to entertain everyone in one of Europe’s most stunning locations, make Case Ricardo your home from home. (Photos by John Taylor).

Casa Ricardo

Whimsical Tray Tables On Delta Offer “Art Gallery in the Sky”

Whimsical Tray Tables On Delta Offer “Art Gallery in the Sky”

Delta and Coca Cola have commissioned artwork from 12 artists to put together a tray table “art gallery in the sky”. These whimsical tray tables will be installed on one of their B767s and along with Delta’s free transcontinental food menu are all efforts to make flying more fun and to help alleviate boredom in … Continue reading Whimsical Tray Tables On Delta Offer “Art Gallery in the Sky”

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