Best Beaches In The World: Coogee, Sydney

Coogee beach is neither remote nor crowd free, but it is beautiful nonetheless as you can see from the picture above taken just days ago by one of our roving reporters. Coogee is situated in the suburbs of Sydney, just 8 kilometres south-east of the central business district of the city.

For my money, this beach is much prettier than Bondi up the coast, being less urban and offering a nice grassy park to the north and the rear of the beach. If you fancy a really incredible coastal walk, the one from Coogee to Bondi, which winds its way along 6 km of picturesque coastal paths, is well worth doing.

Interestingly, the name Coogee is said to be taken from a local Aboriginal word koojah which means “smelly place” which is an unfair description of this delightful bay on the edge of the incredible city of Sydney.

You may be interested in our 10 best beaches in the United States and you may be interested in my best secret beaches in America, my secret beaches in California and my 5 most remote beaches on earth.

Best Beaches In The World: Mindil Beach, Darwin, Australia

Darwin is closer to Indonesia’s Capital than it is to its own. This remote city is on the north coast of the Northern Territory in Australia.

Mindil beach is famous for it’s iconic Sunset Markets. Lined with by palm trees and perfectly positioned to enjoy beautiful sunsets, this is a great place to spend the evening. The market stalls are set up twice a week during April to October (their dry season). Stalls sell everything from didgeridoos to street food (although no alcohol).

There is a carnival atmosphere on these warm evenings with plenty of live musicians and entertainers, but do not come to this beach to sunbathe and swim. There are numerous crocodiles basking in and around the shoreline (you can usually spot them from the bridges that cross the rivers about town), sea snakes, and the lethal box jellyfish is partialled to the waters in this region so even a paddle is out of the question on this pretty beach.

You may be interested in our 10 best beaches in the United States and you may be interested in my best secret beaches in America, my secret beaches in California and my 5 most remote beaches on earth.

Create A Five Star Hotel Bathroom At Home

We have all been guilty of yearning for the flawlessness of a hotel bathroom that the bathrooms of our own homes will never quite live up to. With this daunting ambition in mind, adding a range of luxury baths and accessories to your own home can often be an intimidating prospect. Creating a bathroom befitting of a five-star hotel does not however demand an effort of Herculean proportions. Here are a few simple steps you can take to compose a bathroom you will cherish forever.

Don’t mirror the rest

When it comes to your own bathroom, homeowners tend to avoid putting any significant effort into choosing a mirror, and end up settling for something that is a pale imitation of true luxury. Selecting a mirror with a unique shape, texture or feature will differentiate your bathroom from the rest and engender your bathroom with the sense of spectacle that is so synonymous with a lavish hotel.

Oh, The Vanity

A vanity with flair is indicative of finesse and refinement. Walnut vanity units, for example, are a refreshingly different option from their obtuse, white counterparts. Again, rebelling against orthodoxy is the key in generating a bathroom that feels exclusive and high-class.

Panels Can Generate Space As Well As Electricity

Balancing an air of intimacy and privacy with visual sophistication, elegant shower panels are a sure-fire way to create a luxurious bathroom. Coupled with a sleek shower tray, a suave shower panel will banish any claustrophobic bulky fittings to yesteryear, cleverly creating the illusion of space that is undeniably a fixture of any high-end hotel bathroom.

Wallpaper Over Tiles

Tiling your bathroom is an unnecessary expenditure that merely serves to reinforce a dull, dated look. Renouncing tiles in favour of more expressive wallpaper is an audacious move, but one that if pulled off correctly, is a real signifier of opulence.

Brass And Copper Over Chrome

Chrome is woefully overrepresented in modern bathrooms everywhere. It adds little in the way of character, and is best missed in favour of brass and copper if you truly crave a look of authenticity. You don’t need to replace all your fittings though, a tastefully positioned soap dish or small mirror can speak just as loudly.

Contain yourself

Although it sounds like a small step, storing all your bathroom utensils in a stylish manner reeks of effortless sophistication. Enclosing your bathroom belongings in a small hurricane jar or wooden box can be indicative of the refinement so irrevocably intertwined with our Victorian ancestors.

If there is one definitive quality of every truly high-end hotel, it is to create a sense of exclusivity. As though no other place in the world could offer you a superior experience. Creating this kind of exclusive environment in your own home demands an aura of individuality that typical interior decoration simply fails to offer. So strive to be bold!

Black tote bags – 5 options for the ultimate travel handbag

A black tote bag is one that no luxury traveller can do without. Large, spacious and easy to open and access all your items – it is one of the staples of my ‘travel outfit’.

Why is it so important? It goes with everything. It can fit all your electronics (namely a laptop, very easily), phones, cables, magazines, wallets and the lot. And your passport. And some token airport purchases.

I have been ‘expanding’ my black tote bag collection, so here are some options which I love:

T Tote by Tom Ford

From £695 from 

I have been on a Tom Ford (make up and fragrance) binge – so I decided to add this beauty to my collection. It is beautifully made and I promise, keeps everything in its place.

tom ford t tote leather shopper copy

Tumble Lady Bag by Mansur Gabriel

USA & Canada: $1195 

For Europe, from £975 – see Matches Fashion and Net-a-Porter for colour options

mansur gavriel lady tumbler leather handbag copy

My latest handbag brand crush – I have gone to great lengths to secure my first one. This brand is relatively new and US based (but in Europe it is stocked by Matches Fashion and Net-a-Porter). The issue, is that you cannot get every colour and model, so with the help of a lovely lady, I got mine exactly how I wanted it from NYC: in tumble, so it can be kicked around a little bit on planes and everywhere.

Tote bag by Mansur Gavriel

USA & Canada: $585 

For Europe and rest of the world, from £475 – see Matches Fashion and Net-a-Porter for colour options

mansur gavriel black tote bag copy

Louis Vuitton Neverfull in Epi Leather

From £1390 (but not available to purchase online)


This was the designer tote bag that started this trend… almost 10 years ago. Mine isn’t that old and really really has clocked a lot of airmiles. And shall continue.

Panama Large Tote by Smythson

From £795

I am really impressed with Smythson‘s leather good collections – namely handbags, as they really have become so modern over the last couple of years. I have actually purchased a few bags and items from them over the past 2 months, including wallets and cannot recommend them enough.

Best Beaches In The World: Ningaloo Reef, Australia

Near the top of Western Australia sits the Ningaloo Reef. This reef is incredible, largely because you step directly off the beach and straight onto the reef. This reef is home to turtles, reef sharks and millions of colourful fish. It remains relatively undiscovered due to it’s remote location, making it far less touristy than the Great Barrier reef, and, because the reef is steps from the shore, far more accessible, once you have transported yourself to this coastline.

I spent 3 nights sleeping in a swag bag next to the UNESCO World Heritage listed Ningaloo reef. Sadly sleep eluded me for much of my stay because I spent the entire night imagining that one of the many deadly snakes in the outback was about to enter my swag and cuddle up to me. Nowadays you can stay in more salubrious surroundings of the Sal Salis where you can enjoy luxuries such as a bed and en suite bathroom with a natureloo, and running water, set in the dunes which border the beach and the reef.

Expose yourself to the sights and sounds of the great outdoors; a red kangaroo grazing amongst the dunes, the beautiful song of a butcherbird or a humpback whale breaching just beyond the reef. Then pop on your snorkel gear and paddle into a world of reef sharks, turtles and of course, the millions of fish. With just sixteen solar powered eco-luxe wilderness tents, this resort offers exclusive wilderness luxury on the shores of the Indian Ocean.

You may be interested in our 10 best beaches in the United States and you may be interested in my best secret beaches in America, my secret beaches in California and my 5 most remote beaches on earth.

Best Beaches In The World: Koh Thmei Beach, Ream National Park

Well for something totally different, this beach is made entirely of seashells! A totally captivating sight and really unusual, great for photographs. And it’s not just seashells, the Ream National Park houses several of Cambodia’s top beaches and the ones are Koh Thmei (a mangrove forest covered island) are extra special. The island itself is currently virtually uninhabited, with stunningly clear waters. At the end by the boat dock you’ll find the seashell beach but to the east of the dock is a beautiful, pristine stretch of yellow sand – rather more comfortable for lazing around! This is also a great place to bird watch as the island is home to dozens of species.

You may be interested in our 10 best beaches in the United States and you may be interested in my best secret beaches in America, my secret beaches in California and my 5 most remote beaches on earth.

The Best Luxury Ski Hotels In Lech & Zurs

From gourmet cuisine to spectacular skiing, the chocolate box ski village of Lech and it’s slightly higher altitude sister, Zurs, offer enough activities both on and off the slopes to to attract celebrities and Royals alike. Located at the top of the alps (the highest lift 2,450 meters up) this duo of snowy enclaves guarantees snow throughout the season. This made Lech a favourite of the late Princess Diana, and it is, in my opinion, one of the best places to ski in Europe.

In this article I line up what are undoubtedly the two best ski hotels in Lech; The chic and recently opened Aurelio and the more traditional but equally luxurious Almhof Schneider. If you are looking to enjoy ultra luxury when you are not swish swooshing down the slopes, these two hotels are the only ones worth considering. Both are centrally located just a short walk from Lech village. In fact the Aurelio sits further up the same road as the Almhof Schneider, across the small mountain river from the main street. They are both also ideally positioned to get on and off the slopes as well as to enjoy village apres ski.

Which hotel is best? The Almhof Schneider has a more traditional Austrian feel with a candle-lit bar looking over the village and pine clad rooms with views of the village and slopes. If you get a good room you cannot go wrong here. If you book a base room these have less of a view and don’t have a balcony. In the Aurelio the feel is more cosmopolitan and more like a friends luxury (VERY luxury) chalet. Of the two, the Aurelio probably has the edge on luxury (just) and the food is both inspiring and daring. There is not a bad room in the Aurelio; all are gorgeous and enormous with a glorious marble bathrooms and uber modern fittings. All have a balcony and all look over the valley – you can see the view from our room pictured above.

You cannot go wrong with either hotel, they are both brilliant and I consider both to be in my top 5 ski hotels in Europe. Take a read of my reviews of each and you decide…

Best Luxury Ski Hotels In Lech

In “Accommodation”

If you are in doubt of the level of luxury and comfort you are going to experience as your taxi weaves its way up the back roads of Lech towards…

Read Our review

In “Accommodation”

Lech is one of my favourite ski destinations in the Alps. I have to admit that I was originally attracted to this snow sure resort when I found out that…

Read Our review

Review: Qatar Airways Airbus A330 Business Class

In this trip report I flew Business Class in an Airbus A330-300 of Qatar Airways (QA) from Hamad International Airport (DOH) in Qatar to Male International Airport (MLE), in the Maldives. The previous flight on Qatar Airways from Brussels to Doha was operated by a QA Boeing. I have also previously reviewed Qatar Airways Business Class on Boeing 777-300ER, along with a previous trip from Brussels to Doha which was also flown in Business Class on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner and also First on the Qatar A380.

Qatar Airways offers several types of Business Class products on its A330 fleet, with some aircraft featuring the old seats (that don’t fully recline) and some other featuring the updated product (with fully flat-bed seats). This particular flight was flown by an A330 featuring the newer product, but although quite comfortable, QA’s A330 Business Class product is inferior to the one it offers on its A350, B787 and A380 planes. The new Qatar Airways QSuite will be rolled out across most of its fleet (starting with the B777), so in the near future, the inferior A330 Business Class seats will be gradually phased out.

Pre-flight I experienced Qatar Airway’s Al Mourjan Business Lounge. It simply outclasses all the competition in airport lounge experiences.

Business Class Cabin Review

This flight was operated by a two cabin A330-300, seating 30 passengers in Business Class (featuring the newer product) and 275 in Economy Class.

The Business Class cabin on the A330 makes a chic first impression, with dark grey seat covers, wood trimmed decor touches, and QA’s signature purple colour displayed on the entertainment screens. Nevertheless, its design and layout is inferior to the Business Class product offered on QA’s A350s, A380s and B787s (and it doesn’t offer an onboard bar). The plane featured 5 rows of 30 fully flat-bed seats placed in a classic 2-2-2 configuration in one single Business Class cabin. All seats faced forward and had aisle access, except for the window seats (on these you had to climb over the legs of your neighbour to get to the aisle). See the seat map of this version of QA’s A330.

Business Class Seat Review

The Qatar Airways 330 Business Class seat has a pitch of 60 inches (152 cm) and a width of 21 inches (53 cm). One arm rest features the seat controls and also houses the moderately sized tray table which needs to be pulled out for any use. Below the large entertainment screen in front of the seat, is a small compartment with narrow ottoman for your feet (or legs when you transform the seat into a bed). On the other side of the seat, behind the headrest, is a small compartment, where you find the headphones and the remote control for the entertainment system. The seat does go fully flat, but while the seat itself is wide the footrest is very narrow, so it’s not very comfortable for a good night’s rest.

What are the best Business Class seats on QA’s A330-300?

All seats in the cabin, except for the first and last row, are quiet good, especially for couples. Make sure to prebook your seat online (which can be done free of charge) to avoid disappointment at the airport, since QA flights are often fully packed.

What are the worst Business Class seats on QA’s A330-300?

The 2-2-2 Business Class layout does not make the cabin very attractive for solo travellers, since you will always end up sitting next to a stranger. There is a screen though between adjoining seats for added privacy. Window seats don’t offer direct aisle access. I also suggest to avoid the last row of Business Class, which is close to the Economy bassinet seats. Window seats in the last row are missing a window.


For this short flight to Male, Business Class passengers were given a light blanket, a thick pillow, and a small, Economy-like amenity kit containing essentials such as earplugs, eyeshades and socks. QA’s famous Armani amenity kits are only handed out on medium- and longhaul flights, and you can read more on that in my Qatar Airways B787 trip report.

Qatar Business Class Food Review

Upon boarding, I was offered a choice of hot or cold towel, and a glass of Champagne, orange juice, water, or QA’s signature drank, lemon mint. I choose the latter and IMHO, this is the best welcome drink offered by any airline in the world.

This was short flight of only 4 hours, and only one meal service – breakfast – was offered. I was told by a flight attendant that breakfast was served after takeoff, but I noticed that other passengers had their breakfast before landing (which I would have preferred as well). The menu was very similar – almost identical – to the one of my previous flight segment (Brussels to Doha). Since I was not very hungry, I only choose the following items from the menu:

Greek yoghurt with mixed berry, granola and nuts.
Traditional Arabic breakfast, with feta cheese, cucumber, tomato and green olives, served with foul medames and arabic bread.

If you enjoyed this review you may be interested in my other airline reviews including my review of Emirates vs Etihad vs Qatar Airways: Best Airline In The Middle East, my comparison of the best First Class suite in the sky: Emirates Vs Etihad and my top 10 Best Business Class airlines for long haul travel.

Review by my friends at Luxury Travel Expert

Qatar Airways

Best beaches In The World: Cable Beach Australia

If you start at Perth and then head north, up Australia’s western coast as far as you can go, you will come to Cable Beach.

Cable Beach was named after the telegraph cable laid between the pearling town of Broome and Java in 1889. This stretch of white sand and turquoise water stretches 22 km and borders the eastern Indian Ocean.

At the southern end of Cable Beach is Gantheaume Point where at low tide, you can see 130-million-year-old dinosaur footprints. Gantheaume Point Lighthouse is also a wonderful place to watch for dolphins and migrating whales in season.

Stay at Cable Beach Club Resort & Spa which offers 26-acres of gardens leading right down to the shoreline, along with a fabulous freeform pool and luxurious rooms, all conveniently located 10 minutes from Broome airport.

The beach is used as highway for 4×4 vehicles heading north of the rocks, but it’s sheer size and width means that there is plenty of room for the beach to be used as a road as well as finding a spot to laze, paddle, sunbathe and even to camel ride (be warned – they smell very strongly). All activities are set against a magical backdrop of red ochre cliffs and of course look out upon the most wonderful sunsets.

You may be interested in our 10 best beaches in the United States and you may be interested in my best secret beaches in America, my secret beaches in California and my 5 most remote beaches on earth.

Best Beaches In The World: Shirahama Beach, Izu Peninsula

You don’t have to travel to the outposts of Japan to find a great beach. The Izu Peninsula juts out from the south of Honshu Island, just 100 km (62 miles) from Tokyo. It’s a rugged, volcanic landmass, centred around the Anagi Mountains which drop sharply down to meet long slithers of white sand and clear water.

On the weekends, Shirahama Beach on the peninsula’s east coast is a seaside Tokyo. The crowds are continuously fed by buses from the city and the sand blooms with bright parasols. Visit mid-week when the beach is quieter and you can see why it’s so popular. A long curve of sand framed with grottos of volcanic rock leads into bright turquoise water.

Arguably, the beach is best enjoyed while soaking in one of the many onsen (open-air baths fed by natural hot springs) that sit on the hillside looking out over the bright blue bay. Many are communal, but it’s possible to book a private pool. After bathing, you can eat at one of the restaurants offering fine seafood – takahashi crab (the world’s largest crab).

You may be interested in our 10 best beaches in the United States and you may be interested in my best secret beaches in America, my secret beaches in California and my 5 most remote beaches on earth.