Host Story: Convento do Seixo Boutique Hotel & Spa

Convento do Seixo Boutique Hotel & Spa, Fundão, Portugal

Convento do Seixo Boutique Hotel & Spa, Fundão, Portugal 

Convento do Seixo Boutique Hotel and Spa is a historic oasis situated in Fundão, Portugal with stunning surroundings. This luxury hotel is filled with comfort, stylish interior and characterful qualities reminiscent of the building’s rich past as the ancient monastery, Convento de Nossa Senhora do Seixo.  The Convento do Seixo offers the warmest of welcomes, a pampering spa and delicious food. You definitely can’t miss the pure relaxation of the Bodhi Spa, situated in the rustic buildings of the old workshops with a host of enlivening treatments; the finery of gourmet restaurant, Pecado, where the mouth-watering dishes embrace the Portuguese palette and the restored monastery’s flawless collection of rooms, suites and villas coming to life with rich-coloured hues and a fusion of traditional architecture and contemporary design.

The boutique hotel’s General Manager, Duarte, who keeps everything running smoothly, whilst sharing a passion for making sure both himself and his diligent front team provide a superb service with attention to the smallest of details, explains that the motivation behind this stunning retreat is its monastic past.

Suite King Deluxe, Convento do Seixo Boutique Hotel & Spa

“The inspiration to open the Hotel was to give a new face to an old Monastery, Convento de Nossa Senhora do Seixo, from the 16th Century. This monastery was totally in ruins, and it was a shame. We wanted to bring new life to an old monastery full of legends with a special energy. With the granitic walls in the hotel, all of them have a lot of stories to tell, old stories, but now we want those walls to tell a new history, a history of happiness, relating to experiencing a stay in this old Monastery.”

Superior Double Room, Convento do Seixo Boutique Hotel & Spa

Surrounded by the expansive landscape of the picturesque Gardunha Mountains and encapsulated by the natural light filling the property’s spacious rooms, suites and villas, the hotel has many tales to be told. With ancient stone walls stylishly exposed and gothic-style embellishments decorating the hotel’s windows, the Convento do Seixo Boutique Hotel & Spa seamlessly preserves reminders of the past, so you can truly embrace the retreat’s traditional values.

As Duarte explains; “The Convento do Seixo dazzles, maintaining a blend of styles that range from the Manueline era to the Baroque. We hope guests will begin their journey of discovery for the architectural and archaeological heritage here. In the Hotel, we have also Camellias trees that belong to the History of the Convento and the city of Fundão itself. We can also tell you more history during the visit.”

The pool area, Convento do Seixo Boutique Hotel & Spa

This idyllic escape presents a striking style throughout the whole property, with an individual edge like no other. Rooms such as the Deluxe King Suite 006 are the epitome of elegance with a luxurious free-standing bathtub, a sumptuous double bed and preserved features of the monastery beautifully weaved into the overall contemporary feel.

We asked Duarte if he had a favourite room in the hotel: “My favourite room is 006 our Suite King Deluxe. This room was from the Old Kitchen of the Monastery! I love the room not only because of the decoration- a relaxing bathtub in the middle- but also because of how I feel when I enter. There is a special environment.”

Convento do Seixo Boutique Hotel & Spa

Food

Duarte is proud of the passionate and talented team that makes the hotel’s exceptional restaurant, Pecado, a thriving success. With the sensational culinary skills of Consulting Chef, Hugo Nascimento, the Convento do Seixo’s gastronomic menu celebrates the various tastes of Fundão, whilst using delicious local produce, proving for an irresistible experience.

“Hugo Nascimento is amazing in creating dishes from the traditional Portuguese gastronomy. His main idea is that each plate we serve allows the guest to experience a truly gastronomic “travel” through the flavours and senses from our Region.”

Having asked Duarte more about the team behind the unfaultable dining experience of Pecado, it’s clear that there is a strong sense of dedication that plays a part in the hotel’s restaurant impressing guests time and time again. From the superb presentation of the many delicious dishes to the knowledgeable palette of the hotel’s resident wine connoisseur, Pecado has it all.

“We have Eduardo and João Crucho, who are the eyes of Chef Hugo Nascimento when he is not in the Hotel. Both show a passion for cooking. It is their way of life. Having been born in Beira Baixa, they know the most hidden secrets in our gastronomy. In our Restaurant, we have the waiters that are very important, because they present the dishes. João Micaelo is the Wine expert. You can talk to João about anything you need to know about wine. With an easy smile, he knows all the secrets of our gastronomy.”

Pecado, Convento do Seixo Boutique Hotel & Spa

Activities

Close by to the small city of Fundão, but far enough away to act as a tranquil refuge, the Convento do Seixo offers plenty to do. You can enjoy the luxurious spa facilities within the property, or venture to the historical wonder of Castelo Novo, a quaint village steeped in ancient architecture and only approximately a 20-minute drive away.

“Guests should know that our Spa therapist, Sofia de Castro, is probably the best spa therapist in our region. All the guests that have had a massage with her loved the experience. Our region also has a lot to see and to do. You can find truly authentic gems to be discovered, starting from the Historical Village of Castelo Novo, to river beaches with clear water, such as Lavacolhos, Souto da Casa and Janeiro de Cima. There is also the Schist village of Janeiro de Cima and Barroca. For cycling, there are a lot of trails in the Gardunha Mountain for you to experience. We have also hiking trails where you can enjoy beautiful landscapes. With it being close to us, you should also visit the biggest mountain in Continental Portugal, Serra da Estrela. There is also Belmonte, the city of Pedro Álvares Cabral, otherwise known as the Portuguese sailor, that discovered Brazil!”

Suite King Superior, Convento do Seixo Boutique Hotel & Spa

Finally, we asked Duarte why he decided to partner with Chic Retreats and what is different about us?

“I partnered with Chic Retreats because it is different. The focus is on different hotels, boutique hotels, and the market you are exploring is also different. Chic Retreats are focused on high-end customers, helping to boost sales and gain hotel visibility.

This is the perfect synergy.”

 Book Convento do Seixo Boutique Hotel and Spa now

DREAMING OF A WHITE WINTER

A warm, chic chalet, a closet full of après-ski gear, and an abundance of slopes to explore… sounds idyllic, yes? Well after the year we’ve had, escaping to any of the luxurious Le K2 Hotels and Spas located in the French Alps ski-resort village of Courchevel – part of Les Trois Vallées, the largest linked ski areas in the world – will make for a refined yet relaxed holiday choice this winter.

The natural seclusion that comes with being high in the glistening snow-white mountains makes for a safe yet sumptuous stay.

LE K2 PALACE 

With a breath-taking view, high up in the majestic Alps of Courchevel, Le K2 Palace seamlessly fuses sleek sophistication with snow-clad elegance, providing exclusive and luxurious accommodation, gourmet cuisine and altitude wellness at its finest.

The discreet 30 rooms and suites, along with the six suite-chalets, look to the Himalayas as inspiration and are decked out in Tibetan-inspired décor. All of which are arranged like a lavish hamlet on the mountainside, adjacent to the village of Courchevel and with direct access to the pistes, all ensuring the stunning view over the valley can be seen from every angle.

Of course, gorgeous surroundings aren’t enough: discover Le Black Pyramid and the two-Michelin-starred gourmet restaurant Le Kintessence, where chefs Jean-Rémi Caillon and Sébastien Vauxion curate a menu filled with delectable dishes for every taste bud to enjoy. And if luxurious lounging is on your agenda, you can head to the elegant Le Winston Klub, an exclusive haven for spirit and cigar aficionados.

LE K2 ALTITUDE

Situated 1,900m above the village of Courchevel 1850, the five-star hotel Le K2 Altitude is nestled amongst the magnificent mountain peaks. Its location is where the storied history of the hotel’s collection began, built where the Capezzone family’s adventure commenced 20 years ago, and has been the pinnacle of hospitality since 2016. It nods towards a unique Tibetan concept, where customer care is of the upmost importance and its 14 rooms and 18 suites offer optimal relaxation in the most intimate of settings.

The rooms and suites themselves are designed to cocoon their guests in plush velvet and thick, sumptuous carpet, as well as blackout curtains that not only keep out light when needed, but sound too. Although, the surrounding slopes and all the cuisines at your doorstep make staying in bed all day a difficult feat.

In terms of gastronomy, Le K2 Altitude has an abundance on offer. Its two Michelin-star gourmet restaurant, Le Montgomerie, is led by chef Pieter Riedijk who crafts dishes with vibrant flavours, techniques and magical combinations, taking inspiration from the Rhône-Alpes region. Or perhaps creative Peruvian cuisine is more your thing, if so, try the contemporary offerings at L’Altiplano, a new addition to the resort. Fine dining is served at La Cima in a large, cosy and elegant lounge, with softwood and comfortable chairs. It offers flavoursome food through its clever use of produce.

You can also unwind at a bistronomic restaurant, Le Base Kamp, at the edge of the Pralong piste, which overlooks the peaks. For a nightcap, we recommend Le 1856, the decadent bar enveloped with the gentle warmth of cosy furniture and a comforting fireplace.

When you’ve enjoyed the great outdoors and warmed up in the spa, why not spend an evening in Le KBaret, with its red chairs and velvet padded walls that transforms into a cinema or stage as you wish. The space is dedicated to entertainment, and can be rented on request for an experience with friends or to celebrate a festive event.

THE GOJI SPA

When it’s time to unwind after a day on the slopes, those staying at both Le K2 Altitude and Le K2 Palace can head to the Goji Spa by Valmont where self-care takes centre stage – it boasts 500sqm and 4 rooms over 2 floors, and is associated with the Swiss brand Valmont, a specialist in high-performance anti-ageing cosmetics, ensuring excellence and expertise in skin wellbeing.

Along with the swimming pool and gym, you can explore the beautifying treatments, hot stone massages, foot reflexology and scrubs, along with the unique blend of teas in the Tea Room make unwinding as effortless as possible.

LE K2 DJOLA 

For those who like their dream destinations with a side of contemporary chic, look to the boutique 4-star hotel in Courchevel 1850, Le K2 Djola. Found in the heart of the village, its 23 rooms and Djola Duplex, offer a more intimate and unique setting to enjoy the marvellous mountains.

Le K2 Djola is the latest addition to the collection and boasts a fine juxtaposition of both action and contemplation. In relation to its elder sibling hotels, it continues the trend of Tibetan-inspired design, seen throughout the space with mandalas, Sanskrit inscriptions, wooden furniture, ecru and carmine shades that reflect the exclusive atmosphere.

Both breakfast and tea time gatherings are designed to be enjoyed in a buffet setting, and sweets and desserts are not to be overlooked – elaborated by the pastry chef Sébastien Vauxion, you’ll discover a large choice of cakes, biscuits and sweet gourmet treats, all of which can be enjoyed by the fireplace.

No ski setting is complete without a modish and comforting spa to end the day. Le K2 Djola’s wooden wellness centre is can be found on the first floor and features a sauna, hammam and large private shower to envelop your body in a much-deserved warmth. The adjoining relaxation room is perfumed with tranquil inducing aromas that make for the ideal place to enjoy a soothing cup of tea.

Staycation in the city: London

This year has allowed a lot of us to rest, reflect and relax. We’ve spent more time with family, realising how precious memories and moments mean more than material possessions. Which is why we are looking to places not far from our doorsteps to create new experiences.

London is rich and diverse. It’s home for the Chic Retreats family, however, we are constantly finding new and exciting spots to explore…

SOUTH

STAY at The Bermondsey Square Hotel 


This south-of-the-river 90-room boutique hotel is perfectly suited to meet the needs of discerning guests who are looking to relax and enjoy the local attractions whilst staying in the comfort of sleek Bermondsey accommodation, overlooking the Bermondsey Square and the weekly Antiques Market.

EAT at Seabird
Dinner and a view? Look no further than Seabird: a rooftop seafood restaurant boasting London’s longest oyster list, an impressive marble raw bar, and sprawling city landscapes. The scallop ceviche and grilled mackerel are delectable dishes that should not be overlooked.

VISIT the Tate Modern
A must is Britain’s national gallery of international modern art, The Tate Modern. It is based in the former Bankside Power Station, and currently features exhibitions from Andy Warhol and acclaimed artist Kara Walker. The new building – Switch House – is designed by architects Herzog & de Meuron and has a great open-air floor at the top with panoramic views of the city.

EAT at St. John Bakery
There are many St John Bakery postings to choose from, however, the original shop on Maltby Street remains our favourite. You simply have to taste the bakery’s best treat: the seasonal jam-filled doughnut. We recommend ordering a few for the road.

VISIT Borough Market
Located right next to London Bridge, Borough Market is one of the largest and oldest food markets in London, dating back to at least the 12th century. A great way to start your weekend, especially when only a short walk away from your hotel.

WALK along The Queen’s Walk
If you’ve a leisurely afternoon in mind, walk along South Bank, and in particular, The Queen’s Walk – a promenade located between Lambeth Bridge and Tower Bridge. You’ll pass Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, The London Eye, and see plenty of the city’s juxtaposition of old and new on the other side of the river.

EAST

STAY at Town Hall + Apartments

No hotel fully envisions the new-meets-old aesthetic of London quite like Town Hall + Apartments. Every room and suite has been individually designed, and many retain the grand Edwardian period features, while others have a loft-style chic style with ample space. They feel more like a pied a terre in the city than a traditional hotel room.

EAT at Silo
Silo is more than just a no-waste restaurant. Most of the ingredients used are grown on-site in Hackney Wick or sourced locally, and prepared in the most environmentally sensitive of ways to create what they call a “pre-industrial food system”. The menu is full of culinary experiments that can be ordered as a series of sharing plates or as a six-course tasting menu. Make sure to book ahead.

SHOP on Redchurch Street
Aside from being a quaint cobbled street in London’s East End, and being steeped in 1990’s art scene history, Redchurch is home to some of the coolest independent stores around. Peruse Not Just Another Store’s underground fashion designers, Labour and Wait’s carefully selected range of vintage and modern pieces, and luxurious scents at Le Labo.

EAT at Violet
If cake is on the agenda for the day, make sure to head to Violet in Hackney. The American-inspired bakery on Wilton Way is known for its irresistible ginger molasses cake, however the seasonal cupcakes with limited-edition buttercream toppings make for the perfect take-away treat.

UNWIND at re:lax
re:lax is a Skin Studio in Hackney, dedicated to non-invasive, results-driven skincare. It focuses on creating tailor-made treatment is bespoke and tailored to the client, using high performing products that are eco-friendly and ethical. Our skin coaches are trained in a holistic way, supporting the client in maintaining healthy skin from the inside out. This method identifies the root cause to provide long-lasting results.

VISIT Columbia Flower Market
This just so happens to be one of London’s most visually appealing markets. It overflows with bucketfuls of beautiful flowers every Sunday. From 8am-3pm, the traders line the narrow street selling flowers, houseplants, herbs, bulbs and shrubs. It can get quite busy, so best to either go early if shopping seriously, or later if you fancy a stroll.

CENTRE

STAY at No.5 Maddox Street 

No.5 Maddox Street is a hotel alternative discreetly tucked behind London’s bond street. Twelve uniquely stylish apartments offer total privacy, as well as a dedicated 24-hour telephone concierge. Located amidst some of London’s most exclusive addresses, Maddox Street manages to be well connected, whilst retaining an air of quiet tranquillity.

EAT at Norma
Think you know Italian food? Think again. This new opening from the team behind The Stafford London picks apart Sardinian food as we commonly know it, and repackages it with all of its Moorish influences deliciously intact. Its Trapani-style seafood stew with fennel, chilli and saffron couscous is exemplary of the menu’s East-meets-West sensibility.

SHOP at Liberty London
Liberty London is a luxurious department store, housed in a grand Tudor-revival building on Great Marlborough Street, in the West End of London. It’s internationally known around the world for its own fabric line of playful prints, and exceptional brands on offer.

EAT at Nordic Bakery
One of our favourite Scandinavian imports, the Nordic Bakery’s cinnamon buns are best paired with a strong coffee and a too-good-to-put-down novel. For a proper fika fix, seek out a corner table at the Soho branch – dark wood surrounds imbue pared-down Scandi-style.

SHOP at Dover Street Market
The original Dover Street Market was first opened in Mayfair in 2004. Since then five other Dover Street Market stores have opened in Ginza (Tokyo), New York, Singapore, Beijing and Los Angeles, however the London outpost still remains the most famous – a must visit. Expect to find a range of brands, including luxury designers, at this cool, multi-story clothes emporium.

SIP at Attendant
Situated in a renovated Victorian loo in the middle of Fitzrovia, this quirky café is nothing if not novel. Unique location aside, their food menu is seasonal, entirely sustainable and ethically sourced. While dining in a lavatory may leave something to be desired, Attendant’s endeavours to make permaculture the next big thing is nothing to sneeze at.

WEST

STAY at The Portobello Hotel 


The Portobello Hotel is a luxurious boutique bolthole, with interiors that celebrate the bohemian spirit of Notting Hill & the Portobello Road market, with no two rooms the same, showcasing regency style with a Curious Hotels twist.

DRINK at Medlar
Medlar is our little secret at the end of the King’s Road. The food is beautifully prepared from seasonal ingredients; however, the calm and unpretentious ambience is ideal for drinking wine in the early evening, and the list has been put together with care to include a huge geographic and stylistic variety at every price point.

EAT at The Ledbury
Multi-award winning, with two Michelin stars we’ll have you know, The Ledbury comes with a reputation for being a London institution for good reason. Chef-patron Brett Graham opened the restaurant in 2005 when he was just 25. The menu champions British produce, moving on from its original noughties-style fine dining to confidently understated cuisine that is entirely its own – and there’s a well-renowned vegetarian tasting menu too.

EAT at Maître Choux
Pastry chef Joakim Prat’s South Kensington bakery is an obvious option for those with a fine sweet tooth. Known for the eclairs, you have to try the delicately designed lemon meringue iteration, or the decadent hazelnut-and-milk-chocolate creation.

WALK along The King’s Road
Made famous in the 1960’s with fashion figures such as Mary Quant and Vivienne Westwood, The King’s Road makes for an enjoyable stroll for one mile. It stretches through five districts and allows you to enjoy over 300 stores, restaurants, cafés and galleries with quiet spots nestled between lively corners. Pavilion Road at the beginning is a must visit also.

VISIT the Saatchi Gallery
The Saatchi Gallery is a must-see on the London gallery circuit, known for contemporary art, and opened by Charles Saatchi in 1985 – initially opened in order to exhibit his collection to the public. Currently, you can view the London Grads Now. exhibition, which brings together over 150 graduating artists and more than 200 works.

Have you read our previous Journal entry? If not, check out The Chic Guide to Modern Minimalism, here. 

Featured Image by Eva Dang on Unsplash

The Chic Guide to Modern Minimalism

Location plays a large part in choosing a hotel, of course. However, if you’re anything like us, you’ll also look for a certain design aesthetic when deciding where to lay your head on vacation.

One look that never goes out of style is minimalism. A clean-line sensibility with chic fixtures and considered furnishings is just as lavish and luxurious as some of the heritage hotels out there, and to some, they want a holiday home that’s an extension of their own. For them to feel truly relaxed, refinement comes in the form of not only fine but modish, considered designed elements, and a calm and collected environment.

These peaceful options below – from the UK, and quarantine-permitting beyond – seamlessly blend components from the county they can be found in, while also demonstrating that contemporary never looked so chic…

Eden Locke, Edinburgh, Scotland 

The very trendy Eden Locke.

Right in the centre of Edinburgh’s New Town, you’ll discover Eden Locke, a bright and tranquil aparthotel set behind a grand Georgian façade. With just 72 apartments, it nods towards an intimate stay, while its décor is meticulously considered. Each living space is fitted with lush, leafy plants and a blush tropical colour palette, all while keeping a minimalist mood in mind.

You’ll find soft lighting and soothing furnishings – including an iconic Locke L-shaped sofa – and plenty of space, making it the perfect place to chill with a good book and a night cap after a busy day of exploring the city. Each apartment is an average of 30sqm, making them much roomier than any boutique hotel. From studio to suites and mezzanine apartments, there is something for every type of stay.

And to further the peace and calm, Eden Locke partners with a local wellness studio, offering one free yoga class per week. Whether you like to wake up with an energetic vinyasa, or wind down with meditation at night, they will ensure mind, body and soul are all taken care of. In a chic space, of course.

Estalagem da Ponta do Sol, Madeira, Portugal

The architecture is sleek and modern – imagine a revamped 1960s beach house.

If seclusion is what you’re after, Madeira’s Estalagem da Ponta do Sol makes for the ideal escape. It is located on the top of a cliff, and is the result of the renovation of an old “quinta.” It integrates the original building with a distinct, contemporary style, designed by architect Tiago Oliveira who enhances the splendour of an already stunning space to create an atmosphere that’s simple and relaxed, yet sophisticated.

The rooms were designed by interior designer Carvalho Araujo, who crafts a chic, cosy and comfortable mood. The decoration is minimalist, calling upon shades of black and white in order to enhance the natural surrounding beauty, that enters each room through the big panoramic glass windows. Floors of black stone are scattered with grey rugs and classic black-and-white photography on the white walls further emphasises the minimalist, monochrome look.

With the island location in the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of West Africa, and the hotel set on the southwest of Madeira, Ponta do Sol offers views with cliffs reaching all the way to the horizon. A chic retreat indeed.

Gillham Vineyard Hotel, Nicosia, Cyprus

Luckily, Cyprus has opened its borders for tourism, as the Gillham Vineyard Hotel is an adult-only boutique hotel that makes luxurious minimalism look effortless. Guest have an option of 31 sleek suites, all of which overlook the vineyards on the outskirts of the beautiful village of Ilgaz, only 15 minutes from Kyrenia.

The contemporary-chic aesthetic is evident as soon as you enter, however, each suite is perfectly designed with exposed natural-wood beams protruding from the clean white walls, delicate and discreet furnishings in neutral hues and a slight pop of colour throughout. You’ll also notice the wooden floors – all slightly differing shades in each – that add a warming touch for comfort. Think mid-century modernity meets minimalist sophistication.

In the largest suite, boasting the name, Sparkling, you’ll find a large balcony with a hot tub affording uninterrupted panoramic views, and its en-suite bathroom provides a shower as well as a luxurious Jacuzzi bath – ideal for those who wish to fully unwind surrounded by clean-lined refinement.

And as if that wasn’t enough, you can also explore and experience the hotel’s ergonomically designed Wine Spa, featuring a traditional Turkish Hamam, indoor and outdoor relaxation zones, a bespoke design heated natural plunge pool, massage rooms, and a fully equipped gym. Not to mention, vino therapy – a beauty therapy process that makes use of the benefits from the grape and vine extracts where the residue of wine making (the pips and pulp) are rubbed into the skin.

Divina Suites Hotel Boutique, Menorca, Spain

Modern Menorcan architecture comes to life at the boutique hotel Divina Suites, which is home to just eight rooms. Located in the heart of Ciutadella Divina, it is surrounded by the most beautiful historical and ecclesiastical buildings on the island – perfect for those who love to explore a town or city on foot.

The building itself is a catalogued property, built in the XVII century that has been restored while making sure to conserve the most emblematic original elements by architect and interior designer Sebastià Pons. He transformed the stately residency into the chic yet comfortable suites you’ll find today.

The suites utilise the original architectural elements, like the groin vaults, the boinder, sloping ceilings or Arabic inspired windows, that make them intriguing while maintaining a clean, calm aesthetic. Crisp white walls, dark wooden floors, neutral-toned sofas, black marble bathroom fittings, all of which crafted in the highest quality materials make a stay here for a modern minimalist an exciting experience indeed.

Hotel Panache, Paris, France

When you think of Parisian hotels, you think petite rooms with antiqued fittings and lavish fabrications. Taking the classic and adding a modern, minimalist twist is Hotel Panache. The exterior is a colour-blocked monochromatic façade, that welcomes you into a sleek yet chic lobby.

Dorothée Meilichzon took the Flatiron Building in New York as inspiration, and designed the rooms with black and white prints on the walls in geometric motifs, and continues the mood with carpet patterned with slick, mini triangles. Note the amazing angular mirrors on offices and nightstands that lend the space a feel for new modernity mixed with a slight retro feel, typical of the Parisienne streets below.

For those who put health at the forefront, Hotel Panache also boasts the first gluten-free Parisian restaurant, NOGLU, whose menu is designed by Frédérique Jules. And for those who like something sweet, you can discover chocolates from La Mere de Famille, the oldest chocolate factory in Paris, in each minibar.

Looking for inspiration on winter sun destinations, click here. 

Featured Image by Pedro de Sousa on Unsplash

The Chic Country Escape To The Cotswolds

The Cotswolds spans across the counties of Gloucestershire, Warwickshire, Wiltshire, Worcestershire, Oxfordshire and Somerset, and is picture-perfect, whatever time of year you decide to visit. With temperatures starting to drop however, escaping to this quaint little apart of the UK makes light work of weekend getaways.

Whether you like to spend your time walking and exploring the pretty towns and villages, or snuggled up on a comfy sofa reading a book with a glass of wine by your side, the Cotswolds has you covered…

Where to stay?

The Fish Hotel, Broadway

The Fish Hotel
The romantic and rustic Hilly Huts at Fish Hill, nestled into the Cotswold hillside.

The Fish’s contemporary bedrooms are located on the hillside and are spread throughout various individual buildings in the grounds. They have five Hilly Huts and three Treehouses nestled into the woodland and five shiny new Hideaway Huts – all of which help you get back to nature in the most luxurious way.

The Slaughters Country Inn, Cheltenham 

The Slaughters Country Inn

You’ll find this hotel in the heart of one of the most picturesque Cotswold villages, offering up the authentic charm of a traditional village inn: exceptional food made with local produce, large fireplaces to warm up next to and a stunning terrace for when the sun shines. The Slaughters Country Inn is the perfect location for when wellies and walks are on the agenda.

No. 131 The Promenade, Cheltenham 

No. 131 The Promenade
No.131 offers 11 stunning bedrooms in a beautifully converted Georgian townhouse.

Located in the middle of Cheltenham – labelled the cultural heart of the Cotswolds – No.131 is home to 11 rooms in a converted Georgian townhouse, fusing traditional architecture with eclectic modern design. Expect to find original features, period bathrooms, and antique finishing touches, along with statement wallpaper, industrial lighting, and original artwork from the likes of David Hockney and Banksy.

Barnsley House Hotel, Cirencester

Barnsley house hotel
Housed in a 17th-century stately manor, The Barnsley House boasts 19 boutique rooms, designed by the owner themselves, who has a keen eye for sleek sophistication. The building’s original quirks are still evident, seamlessly blending old and new. Take note: the gardens span for 11 acres, and the spa has an undeniably relaxing environment.

Where to Shop?

Stroud Farmers’ Market, Cornhill, Stroud
For a farmers’ market with celebrity attendees, try Stroud – Damien Hirst and Cath Kidston are both regulars. You’ll find everything from fresh, hot falafel served in warm pitta bread, tasty sausages, local russet apples, and the creamiest of cheeses.

The Cotswold Cheese Company, Burford
Voted Britain’s best new delicatessen in 2007 at the British Cheese Awards, The Cotswold Cheese Company store stocks 50 different varieties to try. We recommend Simon Weaver’s organic Cotswold Brie and Charles Martell’s Stinking Bishop.

Image via cotswoldcheese on Instagram.

Burford Garden Company, Burford
Originally this store was a family-run plant nursery, however, now people travel from all over to visit – there’s even a lovely café. Explore the vintage furniture, sleek children’s department, and everything and anything for the home.

Highgrove Shop, Tetbury, Gloucestershire
This gift and gardening accessories store located in Prince Charles’ Highgrove estate is prim and proper at its finest. Discover the jams and chutneys, complete with Prince of Wales fleur-de-lis packaging, which make excellent presents. For yourself, and for others.

Exploring on foot?

Chedworth’s Roman Villa, Gloucestershire
Start at the ancient monument – one of the grandest country houses of fourth century Roman Britain – and take a stroll through the millennia-old woodlands nearby. If you head down Monarch’s Way from Chedworth village and along the River Coln, you’ll eventually reach a quaint little bridge, which will lead towards footpaths back towards Chedworth.

Marshfield to Cold Ashton, Chippenham
Make Weir Lane your starting point, keep walking up the road and eventually the street gives way to Beek’s Lane, then leading to brook, and a few fanciful footpaths to choose from. Meander through the woodlands and after a few kilometres, you’ll find yourself in Cold Ashton. Stay on the path after moseying about the village and carry on straight through the valley. There, you will see an old derelict farm building to your left and, eventually, a stream will follow to the right. Turn left at Green Lane towards Marshfield High Street, bringing you back to where you started.

Castle Combe and Nettleton Mill, Wiltshire
On this circular route, start in the idyllic village of Castle Combe, and look for the public footpath that leads from there to Parsonage Wood. You’ll pass the Common Hill Plantation, discover bridges that pave the way over brooks and beech woodland, swimming with wild garlic in the spring months, and eventually Castle Combe. A pretty little village with its stone cottages, market cross and church that has lazy Sunday afternoons in mind.

Trails of Westonbirt
At the National Arboretum in Westonbirt you can discover over 2,500 tree species from all corners of the world. Inside its gates are 17 miles of trails to explore – comfortable footwear recommended. We suggest starting in the Old Arboretum and then making your way towards the Silk Wood, where you’ll find more traditional British woodland.

Where to eat?

The Coconut Tree, Cheltenham
If vibrant flavours and punchy dishes are what you crave, then opt for this elevated street food restaurant, opened in 2016 by five young Sri Lankans. Make sure to taste the traditional hopper, kotthu and devilled dishes, and wash them down with the selection of fine wines, beers and the ‘cocotails’ on offer. The Drunken Sri Lankan 3.0 comes in a vessel shaped like an elephant and is a potent creation.

Koj, Cheltenham
This eponymous Japanese restaurant and cocktail bar in Cheltenham was founded by MasterChef finalist, British-Japanese chef Andrew Kojima. Note however, they prefer to cook, rather than serve their fare raw: you’ll notice an ox-heart burger bun and grazing dishes including miso roast cod and KFC – Koj fried chicken.

Lords of The Manor, Upper Slaughter
Charles Smith, who took over in 2017, creates delicious dishes and a seven-course tasting menu that offers elegant iterations of British classics. The preserved lemon with scallops is a firm favourite, as is the whipped anchovy-and-horseradish crème fraîche with English-rose veal. Complete your meal with the intriguing goat’s-milk panna cotta with rhubarb jelly.

The Wild Rabbit, Kingham

Image via thewildrabbit.co.uk

This lovely 18th-century stone pub supports British farmers and artisan producers with its reflective menu. The award-winning kitchen, headed by Nathan Eades, creates dishes that work in tandem with the seasons to celebrate traditional British cooking with a contemporary twist.

Looking for November sun? Click here. 

Explore our Cotwalds collection of charming properties here.

Featured image by Collin Watts via Unsplash

Winter Sun: November Destinations

With travel restrictions in place, getting away for the annual summer holiday hasn’t been possible for a great number of travel enthusiasts. The staycation suddenly became the top holiday option for Brits, as temperatures temporarily soared in the UK. While being able to take a break at home may have helped to reduce stress for some people, not being able to board a plane, or sail away, has left many of us feeling cheated of a proper holiday.

A winter sun holiday is the travel experience with your name on it, especially if wintertime blues have a habit of creeping up on you. If you long to relax and unwind, and to explore a foreign destination, there’s no better time than November to get away from it all.
Between October and February, you can swap the colder climate for the balmy weather of the glorious Mediterranean. November is the perfect time to escape to romantic Italy or exotic Morocco.

What To Do And See In Italy

A winter sun holiday in Italy is just what you need to restore equilibrium to the mind, body and spirit, in November. One of the best places to visit, to get your balance back, is the stunning Tuscan city of Florence. The moderate weather in November is ideal for sightseeing. As there are fewer crowds in Florence during the winter sun season, you have more freedom to explore at your leisure. Should you, of course, want to escape to Italy for a winter sun holiday that features snow you can always head north for Turin – the gateway to the Alps.

Often referred to as ‘the cradle of the Renaissance’, Florence was the first UNESCO World Heritage site in Tuscany. It’s a magical and enchanting city filled with charming meandering cobbled streets that lead you to discover stunning Gothic architecture, historic palaces and churches, and renowned museums. Gourmands can feast on food options that are satisfyingly decadent, and enjoy a great selection of wines.

Florence’s prime attractions include the iconic Cathedral with its distinctive Brunelleschi dome that dominates the skyline, the Bell Tower by Giotto, Santa Croce Church, Piazza della Signoria, Piazzale Michelangiolo and Ponte Vecchio. If you appreciate art, a visit to the Uffizi Museum and the Accademia Gallery is also not to be missed. Every sight in the magnificent city is strikingly beautiful and leaves you mesmerised and promising yourself that you’ll return to Florence someday.

Casa Howard is a chic boutique guest house situated just a stone’s throw away from Piazza di Santa Maria Novella, in Florence’s historic centre. The beautifully furnished B&B guest rooms feature fabulous Renaissance-era details that evoke a sense of elegance and romance.

Casa Howard Florence
The stunning suite with frescoed and wood-beamed ceilings.

Alternatively, you can stay in a luxurious 19th-century villa that perfectly complements the fairytale ambience of Florence. Situated on Lake Orta’s shores, in Piedmont, Relais & Chateaux Villa Crespi offers opulence in a lavish Arabesque style. The on-site restaurant’s Mediterranean fare is equally imaginative and creative. Sleep in a canopied four-poster bed, and dream about your winter sun adventures in Florence.

Relais & Chateaux Villa Crespi
19th-century villa inspired by Middle Eastern architecture.

What To Do And See In Morocco

Those winter blues will quickly melt away on a getaway to North Africa. The heat in Morocco is often unbearable during the peak summer season, making it uncomfortable for sightseeing and exploring the magic of this amazing exotic country. However, the weather in November is still sunny and pleasantly warm.

November 18th is the annual celebration of Moroccan Independence Day. If you’re on your winter sun holiday during this national holiday, you may find historical sites and public offices closed. Colourful parades with street food vendors will more than makeup for this temporary inconvenience.

If you love medieval history, the ancient city of Fez is the perfect base for your shoulder season Moroccan adventure. Stay at the luxury boutique Hotel Sahrai for easy access to the Fes el-Bali Medina that’s filled with shops, mosques, food emporiums, art galleries and museums. You’ll feel pampered and relaxed in a chic modern guest room that features bespoke furniture and designer details. For the best breathtaking views of Fez, visit the 16th-century fort of Borj Nord.

The perfect hotel for catching some winter sun, Hotel Sahrai.
Rooftop bar with spectacular views of the large Medina; hailing from the Moroccan word for magic.

The ancient walled city of Marrakech is a popular tourist destination throughout the year. The former imperial city is a vibrant hub of activity and Morocco’s culture centre. It’s packed with ornately decorated palaces and mosques, and colourful marketplaces that you’ll want to explore.

Top places to add to your must-visit list include the beautiful botanical Jardin Majorelle, created by the French painter Jacques Majorelle, the 150-room Bahia Palace, and the biggest Marrakech market – Souk Semmarine. For a true Marrakchi experience, you’ll need to do some haggling for leather goods, silverware, rugs or just about anything. The UNESCO listed Jemaa el-Fna is the city’s No.1 nighttime attraction, and also where you’ll find street entertainment and genuine snake charmers.

After a full-on day exploring Marrakech’s ample charms, check into Berber Lodge for complete rest and relaxation. The rural property boasts 9 dwellings that are surrounded by olive trees, on the outskirts of the village of Oumnass. The spacious lodges feature natural materials like eucalyptus wood and wild bamboo in traditional Moroccan interiors that are simple, beautiful and stylish.

The classic lodge room at the Berber Lodge.

To enjoy optimal sunshine, Taroudant is your ultimate winter sun destination. From November to March, it’s the warmest place in all of Morocco. The authentic Berber market town is situated deep in the heart of the Souss Valley, and boasts a stunning mountainous backdrop of the High and Anti Atlas Mountains. With fewer tourists visiting at this time, you can experience Moroccan culture more fully. Trekking expeditions and bird and wildlife watching are popular activities in the local geography.

Situated on the outskirts of Taroudant, the 4-star luxe eco-retreat of Dar Al Hossoun is perfect for winter sun relaxation. Its lush garden features over 900 different desert flora species. Each of the 50 guest rooms is named after a plant and is decorated in a charming traditional Moroccan style. The tranquil haven also has a Spa, bar and restaurant.

The luxury and eco-friendly retreat designed and built by local artisans using traditional materials and techniques.

Thinking of breaking for the border on a 2020 Holiday?

Have a read of our latest journal entry for some inspiration here. 

Featured image by Victoriano via Unsplash.

UK Staycations: Autumn Edition

There’s no disputing that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on the way that we view many aspects of our lives. How we connect and socialise with others, where we travel, and how we relate to our beautiful planet have undoubtedly been the key topics for contemplation in 2020.

For a vast number of people, all over the world, having to adapt to a different way of living has caused a great deal of stress and anxiety. There’s never been a time when we’ve needed a holiday more!

With international and non-essential travel currently restricted, and social distancing rules ever-changing, it may still be some time before we can fully indulge our wanderlust without giving it a second thought.

The easing of lockdown (in some areas of the world) does, however, offer one travel experience that you may not have previously considered. You can pack a bag and escape…provided that you don’t need a passport to reach your destination.

UK staycations offer an excellent alternative holiday option for anyone who views travel as a life necessity. Getting away from it all and enjoying new experiences helps you to unwind, de-stress and rejuvenate, so that you’re in a better physical, mental and emotional state to keep on keeping on. Booking autumn UK staycations also gives you something to look forward to.

Whether you’re revisiting somewhere that you love or exploring a new location, travel within the boundaries of the UK provides you with the perfect temporary escape from lockdown life.

The City Break

For Brits who love spontaneous travel, the city break has long been a getaway that’s supplementary to the annual holiday. During times of travel restriction, spending downtime in luxurious surroundings closer to home can be as liberating as boarding a plane on route to one of the most iconic capital cities in the world.

11 Cadogan Gardens, Chelsea, London.
11 Cadogan Gardens, Chelsea, London.

A UK staycation at 11 Cadogan Gardens, London can be the perfect grand escape, but on a smaller scale. Situated within walking distance of upmarket Knightsbridge and Sloane Street, this chic boutique establishment offers exclusivity and luxury, and easy access to designer shops.

When you’re not shopping, relax as you peruse one of the antique books in a comfy chair in the library, or chill out in the conservatory with a cocktail. You’ll quickly feel relieved that you didn’t have to navigate your way through queues at the airport in order to enjoy a revitalising city break experience.

The Scenic Retreat

Sometimes we choose to holiday in a setting that will take our breath away, so that we can fully appreciate the joys of living. An autumn UK staycation gives you the freedom to explore one of the most outstanding natural beauty spots in the south-central and south-west region of England.

When visiting the charming villages and scenic locations that are dotted all over the sprawling 800 square miles that make up the beautiful Cotswolds, you’ll want to rest and recharge in surroundings that are wonderfully welcoming.

exterior facing view of the Lygon Arms Hotel.
The character-filled exterior of the Lygon Arms Hotel, Broadway.

At the 14th century The Lygon Arms Hotel you can relax in the suite that was once occupied by Oliver Cromwell before going into battle, and indulge in a delicious seasonally themed Afternoon Tea. Treat your mind, body and spirit to a spa visit, and allow the tranquillity to melt away lockdown stress.

The Nature Haven

If autumn UK staycations usually involve keeping youngsters enthralled and entertained by visiting popular theme park attractions, making an inspired change in your travel plans will ensure that the whole family is happy.

For an entirely new experience, take your kids to the spectacular natural haven of the New Forest. Swap the theme park for an adventure in the magnificent woodlands, and go in search of wildlife. Provided that you follow social distancing guidelines and adhere to the New Forest Code, you can hike, bike and learn about the National Park’s important conservation work.

The entrance to the Chewton Glen and the highly acclaimed luxury spa.

Staying at the child-friendly, privately owned 5-star Chewton Glen gives you easy access to Hampshire’s stunning countryside and coastline. Impress the kids by booking accommodation in one of the luxury Treehouses that are situated in a lush and leafy tree canopy.

The Rural Oasis

Superior nine-room, Crazy Bear, Stadhampton.

If you don’t have the travel needs of children to consider, UK staycations can be a decadent experience. If you’re craving opulence, the Crazy Bear Stadhampton can easily satisfy your lust. Situated within an 80-acre estate on the outskirts of Oxford, the adults-only retreat is a rural oasis of tranquillity and indulgent excess.

Soothe your body with a therapeutic aromatherapy massage, before awakening your taste buds with perfectly chilled champagne and tantalising Thai cuisine. The sumptuous bed in your individually designed gold, silver, velvet and marble lavishly decorated guest room or suite is the perfect place to rest your head.

The Coastal Holiday

There are some people who just don’t feel that a holiday is a holiday unless you’re near the sea. The 4-star beachside St Michaels Resort, in Falmouth, is undoubtedly one of the prime locations for UK staycations on Britain’s beautiful coastline. The pet-friendly hotel boasts a health club and spa, a 2 AA rosette restaurant, sub-tropical gardens and exceptional sea views. The spacious and comfy guest rooms are of course, nautically themed.

Luxury Large King with Sundeck, St Micheal's Resort
A nautical-themed, luxury large king with sundeck.

On nearby Gyllyngvase Beach, you can swim, sunbathe and relax like you don’t have a care in the world. Once you find your perfect piece of golden sandy paradise, on south Cornwall’s coast, you can spend some time reflecting on how the current global travel restrictions have opened up a new world of holiday possibilities.

Brits often forget that the UK is home to some of the most breathtaking places in Europe. Whether you want to holiday for a change of scenery or to broaden the mind, UK staycations have plenty to offer.

By escaping to the city, countryside or coast closer to home, in the autumn, it’s possible to renew appreciation for the country that you live in. There really is no need to cross time zones to explore the culture. Learning to see the beauty and charm of the quintessentially English attractions that have been popular with foreign travellers for decades may well shift your perspective in regards to must-visit destinations for future holidays.

Travelling with a family and looking for some last minute half-term inspiration, click here

Afternoon tea, beautiful country houses, quirky crockery, stand alone baths, fantastic service and tasty traditional dishes… Browse the hotels that embody the very best parts of a boutique British stay. Discover your next Great British weekender by clicking here. 

2020 Holiday: The Chic Guide to Breaking for the Border

The pandemic crisis, and ensuing lockdown, forced many people to take stock and re-evaluate. For a time, there was a clear divide between life’s essentials and what’s considered to be a luxury. Often seen as essential, travel quickly became the latter.
To while away seemingly endless time, some people focused on creating their ultimate travel bucket list. As a housebound globetrotter, you may have spent countless hours daydreaming of escaping on holiday in 2020.

Travel restrictions may have temporarily limited the list of destinations that can be freely visited, but as more and more countries adapt and implement de-escalation safety changes, travellers are gradually gaining more freedom. In the UK, overseas travel has already been given the green light by the Government.

Countries are opening up their borders, and welcoming international visitors to come and enjoy autumn and winter post-lockdown breaks. Provided that you follow safety guidelines, there’s no reason why you can’t break for the border and enjoy a 2020 holiday.

The Chic Guide to Breaking for the Border

Although Brits have been chomping at the bit to board a plane to a foreign destination throughout spring and summer, in 2020, it’s no surprise that the top places to visit, as borders reopen, are the countries that are closer to home.

France

Hopping across the Channel to France is an absolute no-brainer for travellers in the UK wishing to dip their toe back into the travel waters, after COVID-19 lockdown. Brits love the nation of France for its fine cuisine, culture, history, diverse landscape, English-friendly language, and the fact that it’s so easy to get to.

The bathroom and welcoming gift at the Chess Hotel in Paris.
The Chess Hotel, Paris.

If you’re celebrating travel freedom big style, by visiting the widely recognised best honeymoon destination in France, The Chess Hotel is the perfect place to stay on a 2020 holiday. The chic property is centrally located in the 9th arrondissement and offers easy access to Paris’s premier attractions.

Explore the Chess Hotel here.

On the outskirts of Paris, in a prestigious neighbourhood, Hotel de Pourtales is perfectly equipped to make your break comfortable, enjoyable and memorable. The luxury boutique property boasts just 11 chic apartments that feature contemporary design and high-quality facilities and amenities. The artsy vibe is authentically Parisian.

Explore the Hotel de Pourtales here. 

Travellers looking to enjoy the spirit of France, but with fewer people and more tranquillity, may prefer to visit the quaint town of Sabran. To upgrade your holiday to luxury status, stay at the Chateau De Montcaud. It’s surrounded by stunning parkland and nature, and is also a haven for gourmands.

Explore the Chateau De Montcaud here.

Incorporating a variety of your favourite pastimes is easy at the Hotel Golf Chateau de Chailly. Once you’ve travelled to the French vineyard region of Burgundy, and Chailly-sur-Armancon, you can spend the remainder of your break enjoying swinging a club on the hotel’s pristine 18-hole golf course.

Explore the Hotel Golf Chateau de Chailly here. 

Croatia

Over the years, the eastern European country of Croatia has become a top tourist destination for travellers from the UK. Brits have been mesmerised by Croatia’s rich history, heritage and culture. There’s also no denying that the hit HBO TV show Game of Thrones has done Croatia a huge service, by featuring many of its stunning locations in the acclaimed fantasy series.

The southern coastal city of Dubrovnik has a unique and special appeal of its own. Its ancient walled Old Town is the hidden gem of the city that is often referred to as the Pearl of the Adriatic.

Within Dubrovnik’s city walls sits 16th-century St Joseph’s, a townhouse lovingly and carefully refurbished over a 2-year period, perfect for guests looking to enjoy a 2020 holiday. A truly charming 6-room hotel that’s full of character. Nestled on a cobbled side road in the centre of the pedestrian-only Old Town, and just moments from the main street of Stradun, the elegant property is family-run and easily reachable from both Pile and Ploče gate, where you’ll be greeted by a member of staff to assist with luggage. Inside, fresh flower arrangements and cake stations can be found as you wind your way up the staircase to your bedroom.

The Deluxe King Suite at the St Joseph’s.

Browse rates and availability for the St Joseph’s here. 

Switzerland

When most people think about Switzerland, images of chocolate, cheese, fondue and skiing instantly spring to mind. Yet the nation that is bordered by France, Italy, Germany, Austria and Liechtenstein is often overlooked when travel plans are being made.

It’s time to rediscover the wonders of Switzerland, and to enjoy its unique microclimates on a 2020 holiday. Home to the most peaks over 400m in Europe, Switzerland really is a photographer’s playground. There are beautiful lakes, the world’s most photographed mountain – the Matterhorn, a melting pot of cultures, and of course, the finest chocolate in the world!

The global, financial and worldwide centre of diplomacy, Geneva, is the perfect first-time place to visit in this diverse country. Check into the oldest privately owned hotel in the city, Beau Rivage Geneva, to be conveniently situated to access the beautiful lakeside and the shopping district. The refined landmark hotel has played host to many famous celebrities, royalty, Maharajahs and politicians over the years, and is luxuriously designed, and embellished with marble, candelabras and lavish floral arrangements.

truly spectacular view from the front of the Beau Rivage Geneve.

Browse rates and availability for the Beau Rivage Geneva here. 

Thinking about taking the family on a half-term break?

Have a read of our latest journal entry for some inspiration here. 

Have you entered our latest competition?

If not, click here to be in with a chance of winning £500 to spend with Jigsaw and a three-night stay at St Michael’s Resort in Cornwall, complete with 3 courses of seasonal Cornish delights in the resort’s captivating Brasserie on the Bay restaurant and a 3-hour hydrothermal experience in the resort’s spa.

The Best Autumn Half-Term Breaks For Families

Autumn Half Term Breaks

By the time autumn half-term comes round, those balmy lazy days of summer are nothing but a distant memory, and the excitement of Christmas is (thankfully) yet to get into full swing. The half-term break is the perfect time of the year to escape on a short mini-break with the whole family.

Children and adults can greatly benefit from taking a timeout in October, to do fun stuff together. Parents who take their children away on a short break for the half-term holidays are less stressed, and (from a kid’s perspective) more fun to be around.

Whether you’re travelling abroad or staycationing in the UK, half-term breaks are of the ideal duration to pack full of family-orientated activities that please everyone.

Italy’s Top Half-Term Breaks

When it comes to travelling abroad with your brood, Italy is undoubtedly one of the most popular destinations, primarily due to the kid-friendly food.

Verona, Veneto – Best for…theme parks, water-based activities, and Shakespeare.

The Ponte Pietra, Verona, Italy is a great place to enjoy a family half-term break.
The Puente Pietra, Verona.

Tucked away in the corner of the Veneto region, Verona is nestled between the Adige River and Lake Garda. It’s the perfect place for half-term breaks with children of all ages. The profusion of history, art, great architecture and tons of fun things to do, easily makes Verona a winning half-term destination.

Youngsters will be thrilled to visit Italy’s equivalent of Disneyworld – Gardaland. The fantasy theme park features diving, looping and corkscrew curving roller coasters, free-falling simulation rides, and rapids to navigate in a canoe.

The family-friendly Caneva Aquapark boasts an array of tubes and chutes, as well as a lazy river and a pool where adults can relax while their offspring are busy being daredevils. There’s also a play area and an on-site restaurant.

The cinema-themed Movieland Studios has more than 20 attractions and rides, and live entertainment. Dare your brood to step inside the House of Horrors, or take part in reenacting classic action movie scenes.

Even picky teenagers will appreciate that northern Italy’s ancient medieval city is the setting for Shakespeare’s young love story ‘Romeo and Juliet’.

Where to stay…

Borgo Romantico is a great place to enjoy a family half-term break.
The forever green garden’s surrounding the Borgo Romantico, Verona.

Borgo Romantico Relais is an enchanting 20-room property situated in a 14-hectare estate on the outskirts of Verona. Lush bio-certified vines, olive groves and cypress trees surround the countryside retreat that boasts outstanding views of the rolling Garda hills and Mount Baldo.

The light and airy Family garden view room comprises of 2 interconnecting bedrooms, with 4 beds. There’s a swimming pool set among the olive trees, a sauna, lounge and bar. Within the scenic grounds, you can spot hares and pheasants.

Although there’s no on-site restaurant, you can order traditional Italian cold cuts and cheese snacks at the on-site winery bar. Cooking classes are available on request. The nearby village of Cavaion has a good selection of pizzerias and ristorantes.

If you’ve already visited Verona, or prefer half-term breaks that are a little more sedate, Umbria’s largest cosmopolitan city of Perugia is the perfect place for a family-orientated holiday.

Perugia, Umbria – Best for…food tasting, learning how to cook, and chocolate

The small chic Italian hill town of Assisi, Perugia is a great place to enjoy a family half-term break.
The hill town of Assisi in the Province of Perugia, Umbria.

The charming city of Perugia is the capital of both the region and province of Umbria. It’s packed with ancient historic structures and monuments, old churches and fabulous museums. The city is known for its art and culture and plays host to many annual festivals.

When you’ve done the sightseeing of all of the notable cathedrals, chapels, religious relics, and Gothic Palazzos, enjoy some quality time teaching your kids how to appreciate great Italian food.

Perugia offers walking tasting tours that visit artisan food producers. Sample cheeses, cold meats, handmade pasta, truffles and other authentically Italian treats. You can also join small group cooking classes to learn how to use the ingredients.

If your family are lovers of the sweet stuff, you’ll feel like you’re in Heaven when you step inside the Perugina Chocolate Factory, that’s located outside the city centre. The 1 hour 15-minute long factory tour shows you the production process and includes a tasting session. There’s also a shop where you can buy your weight in chocolate.

Where to stay…

The Aethos Saragano in Perugia
The Aethos Saragano in Perugia.

Unlike most holiday apartments in Perugia, Aethos Saragano is accommodation that encompasses an entire vineyard and olive grove nestled Umbrian village! On half-term breaks your family can rest and relax in one of the 10 comfortable, traditionally furnished suites and apartments that are fully equipped with kitchen, living and dining areas.

There’s a swimming pool, spa and on-site restaurant, as well as a range of activities on offer. Get the kids involved in a daily yoga session, or explore the spectacular countryside on a hike with a local shepherd. Day trips can also be arranged.

The Best Half-Term Breaks In The UK

If you don’t plan to travel abroad with your family during half-term, a UK staycation in one of England’s most beautiful locations makes a great alternative break.

Due to the unpredictable weather in October, half-term breaks in the UK can sometimes be a damb squib. If you factor in the changeable climate, there’s no reason why visiting stunning coastal and countryside destinations can’t be a fantastic fun-packed getaway for the whole family.

Falmouth, Cornwall – Best for…seaside fun and exploration, and Cornish pasties

Falmouth Harbour, Cornwall is a great place to enjoy a family half-term break.
Falmouth Harbour, Cornwall.

Home to the world’s third-largest natural harbour, Falmouth is Cornwall’s jewel in the crown. The picturesque town is the gateway to a stunning coastline and fabulous beaches. The sandy and pebble beaches of Gyllyngvase, Swanpool, Castle, and Maenporth are ideal to visit on a family outing. If your kids are into watersports, try out surfing, snorkeling, standup paddleboarding, skimming and sailing.

When it’s time for lunch you’ll want to tuck into something hot and hearty to stave off the October chills. When in Cornwall, nothing beats a traditional Cornish pasty. The local meat and veggie delicacy is made with love, and also available in vegetarian and sweet varieties.

Where to stay

St Michaels Resort, Cornwall is a great place to enjoy a family half-term break.
St Michaels Resort, Cornwall.

The child-friendly 4-star St Michaels Resort is a beachside haven offering comfy accommodation in 84 nautical theme guest rooms.

The Large Beach House family rooms and suites have king-size beds and sofa beds, comfy seating and a host of amenities. Some of the rooms also have a private outdoor space. Four-legged friends are welcome to stay, with prior arrangement.

On-site, there’s a 2 AA rosette restaurant, a spa and health club with swimming pool, and sub-tropical gardens. As you would expect from such a prime location, the ocean views are simply breathtaking.

If you prefer the countryside, a back-to-nature bolt-hole in a stunning location is definitely a place you’ll want to take your family.

The CotswoldsBest for… outdoor adventures and getting back to nature

Bibury, Cotswolds, United Kingdom
Bibury, Cotswolds, United Kingdom

Half-term breaks in the Cotswolds offer unlimited opportunities to connect with nature and wildlife. At the Falconry School, kids can learn all about magnificent birds of prey via hands-on engagement, and by watching the breathtaking aerial displays.

The Slimbridge Wetlands Centre is an expansive, wild nature reserve where kids can explore flora and fauna. At the birdwatching hide, flocks of herons and flamingos can be spotted with binoculars. There’s a vast collection of reptiles and amphibians, and an opportunity to watch the otters at feeding time.

At Arctic Quest, hop on a cart and enjoy an exhilarating husky-powered ride that mimics the sensations of exploration in icy climes, without sub-zero temperatures. Safety gear and training are provided.

Where to stay…

Situated on the sprawling 400-acre Farncombe Estate, The Fish Hotel is a unique back-to-nature hideaway that all the family will love. Accommodation is available in rooms, suites, chalet-style huts and treehouses that are nestled deep into the stunning Cotswold countryside. The family pooch is also welcome.

The Fish Hotel
The Fish Hotel

Dining options are diverse at the Fish Hotel, and include high-end gastronomy, feasting on the deck, light lunches and tasty Slider menu snacks, and private dining.

On-site activities are available to keep kids of all ages entertained and happy. The wonderful woodland views can also be explored on a bike for hire.

Have you entered our latest competition?

If not, click here to be in with a chance of winning £500 to spend with Jigsaw and a three-night stay at St Michaels Resort in Cornwall, complete with 3 courses of seasonal Cornish delights in the resort’s captivating Brasserie on the Bay restaurant and a 3 hour hydrothermal experience in the resort’s spa.

Italian Escapes: Quarantine-Free Travel

After the UK government eased quarantine rules, the dream of holidaying abroad became a reality. Although self-isolating after returning to the UK from certain countries is required, being able to finally enjoy a break away from home has got many people excited.

Topping the list of pre-covid travel destinations for Brits is, of course, the ever-popular Spain. Hot on its heels is Italy, where it’s now possible to move freely within the whole country. Do take note: if you’re holidaying in Sardinia, Sicily, Puglia and Calabria, you’ll need to register in advance.

If you’re feeling tempted to sample la dolce vita, Italian escapes offer sun, sea, sand, culture, history and of course, great food! With so many spectacular cities, picturesque towns, ancient ruins, fabulous museums, great beaches and breathtaking scenery, it’s really not surprising that Italy continually features on travel bucket lists.

Let’s be honest…there are unlimited reasons to visit Italy at any time of the year.

Italian escapes can be a romantic or gourmand experience – or both! With good planning, your holiday in Italy can easily become an unforgettable grand adventure. Hiring a car gives you the freedom to explore the stunning landscape, as you make your way from the north to the south at your own pace.

Marvellous Milan                                                                                                         

The metropolis of Milan is a great place to begin your Italian escapes journey, as it’s a global capital of fashion, design, art and culture. With so many interesting things to see and do in Milan, you’ll need to plan your itinerary like a pro.

Start at the Piazza del Duomo – Milan’s grandest square. The magnificent Gothic Cathedral boasts 135 spires and a fair number of statues. From its rooftop terrace, you can gaze in awe over the spectacular panorama.

When in Milan, it would be foolish not to shop. Connecting the piazzas of the Duomo and the Teatro alla Scala opera house is the glass-ceilinged arcade of Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. Upscale designer boutiques are lined from end to end.

Take a walk on the walls of the fortress-like 15th century Castello Sforzesco, and check out the works of Michelangelo and da Vinci on display in the complex’s museums. The artsy district of Brera is also worth exploring.

As Northern Italy is renowned for the best risottos in the land, make sure you order Risotto alla Milanese for lunch.

If you’re spending a day or two in the city you’ll want to relax in a centrally located hotel that is ever-so chic and comfortable. Speronari Suites perfectly fits the bill when it comes to offering traditional Italian hospitality and plenty of life’s little luxuries.

Speronari Suites, Milan.
Speronari Suites, Milan.
Explore the very chic Speronari Suites in memorable Milan here. 
Take A Detour To Bolzano

Situated in the South Tyrol province, in the northeast of the country, Bolzano is the gateway to the majestic Italian Alps. A detour to the medieval city, that’s set in lush hilly vineyards, should definitely be on any Italian escapes itinerary.

The scenic landscape is best appreciated from the windows of the Renon cable car, as it soars 4541m up the mountain in 11 minutes, to Soprabolzano.

The South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology is packed with interesting displays, including the star attraction – Frozen Fritz (a 5,300-year-old corpse found in the Alps). Stop for a drink or an ice cream in Piazza Walther, the city’s main and most beautiful square.

If you have the energy for a hike, Puez-Geisler Nature Park is also worth a visit.

In the centre of the market town of San Candido, you’ll find the charming 9 bedroom Boutique Hotel Zenana. Get yourself comfy in a guest room that is individually designed and named after an inspirational female.

Boutique Hotel Zenana, San Candido, Italy.
Boutique Hotel Zenana, San Candido, Italy.
Explore the cosy Boutique Hotel Zenana here. 
What To Eat In A Foodie Capital

As you continue on your journey south on Italian escapes, why not head off the beaten path and stop for a while in the Parmigiano Reggiano capital of Italy?

Reggio Emilia is well known for producing the popular cheese, and also balsamic vinegar. Their herbed pumpkin ravioli is also up to scratch. Challenge yourself to order all three when you stop for lunch! On your way to find a restaurant with a pretty outdoor terrace or courtyard, try not to be tempted by the countless bakeries in Piazza Fontanesi.

Once your belly is full, pay a visit to Tricolore’s Room in the City Hall, and learn how the distinctive Italian flag was chosen. The elaborate frescoes in Valli Municipal Theatre are worth checking out whether or not you’re a fan of live ballet or opera.

And if you’re wondering why there are so many cyclists in Reggio Emilia, it’s because it has the longest city bike trails in Italy.

Rolling pastures and organic vineyards surround the Venturini Baldini woodland estate where the stylish Roncolo 1888 B&B is located. Being in the heart of the foodie region, there’s no shortage of excellent places to eat within easy reach.

Roncolo 1888
Roncolo 1888, Reggio Emilia.
Explore the spacious and stylish Roncolo 1888 here.
The Southern Finish Line

Italian escapes that venture far south to the stiletto heel of Italy’s boot-shaped country, can terminate in the quaint historic old town of Poggiardo. The agricultural centre is abundant in fruit, olive and nut trees, and the perfect place to relax in the sunshine.

The monumental Church of San Francesco is Poggiardo’s main attraction but is rarely open. If you’re lucky, step inside and view the traditional papier-mache statues on display. The Byzantine frescoes in the crypt of Santa Maria degli Angeli Church also attract many admiring glances.

The Palazzo Circolone offers travellers on Italian escapes a choice of 7 modern and spacious rooms and 1 suite in a luxurious property. There’s a garden, terrace and swimming pool, and a specially designated Relax room where you can chill out.

Dotted around Poggiardo are many fabulous restaurants, pizzerias, and cafes where you can tuck into traditional dishes that have stood the test of time. The peasant dish of friseddhe (rehydrated stale bread, olive oil, fresh tomatoes and olives) is a particular favourite with the locals and tourists alike. And don’t forget to try the local Salento wines when toasting your quarantine-free escape.

Explore all Italian retreats here. 

Europe is back in business

Hotels in Europe: the inviting pool at Masseria Montenapoleone, Puglia

As travel restrictions ease, minds begin to wander towards holidays. And where better to think about than Europe? From enchanting properties in Croatia and Balearic island retreats to majestic lakeside villas in Italy, there are tons of top boutique hotels in Europe ready to be explored. Read on for a selection of fantastic hotels in Europe…

Croatia

Heritage Hotel Life Palace

Hotels in Europe: a bedroom at Heritage Hotel Life Palace, Croatia

Inside this 15th-century Marenci property is a boutique hotel with 17 elegant Renaissance rooms – a fairytale getaway in Šibenik, the oldest Croatian town on the Adriatic coast. The historic stone building looks out to the main square of the pedestrian Old Town, making its location ideal for a luxury weekend away, and the perfect choice for a trip to Croatia.

Explore Heritage Hotel Life Palace

Sun Gardens Dubrovnik

One of Sun Gardens Dubrovnik's pools and sea views

Looking for an all-round holiday experience at a spot by the sea? Search no further. This stylish family-friendly property offers just that, and is just 20 minutes from Dubrovnik Old Town. Choose from luxury rooms, apartments or private self-catering residences, and enjoy sea views along the Adriatic coastline. The hotel is also home to a handful of restaurants, three pools, a spa, and a sports centre.

Explore Sun Gardens Dubrovnik

Spain

OD Talamanca

Hotels in Europe: a bedroom with sea views at OD Talamanca, Ibiza

This design hotel has a top location on the island of Ibiza and is just 10 minutes away from the airport. Not only is the beach a few steps away, the old town, marina, and nightlife are all within easy reach too. And there are glorious views to the bay and Dalt Vila, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Book a Duplex suite and enjoy a split-level 2-bed apartment with a private rooftop swimming pool and terrace.

Explore OD Talamanca

Divina Suites Hotel Boutique

A suite at Divina Suites Hotel Boutique, Menorca

Situated in a prime spot in the heart of the picturesque Menorcan city of Ciutadella, this adult-only palazzo blends into the charming Old Town surroundings and offers easy access to historic and cultural attractions – a 1-minute stroll along the cobbled streets leads to the impressive gothic Cathedral of Menorca. Inside the beautifully converted and restored 17th-century hotel, guests can relax in suites that are furnished with luxury in mind.

Explore Divina Suites Hotel Boutique

Cases de Son Barbassa

Hotels in Europe: a bedroom at Cases de Son Barbassa, Mallorca

The converted houses that make up this boutique hotel and finca are situated on a hillside close to the village Capdepera, and boast views to the coast, Llevant Natural Park, and Menorca on clear days. The fishing port of Cala Ratjada is just a 12-minute drive away too. This rural yet modern agroturismo has charm in abundance, and is a super relaxing place to spend some time.

Explore Cases de Son Barbassa

Italy

Masseria Montenapoleone

A bedroom at Masseria Montenapoleone

This picture-perfect agriturismo in Puglia has glorious views stretching across the surrounding hills and Itria Valley and yet is just 10 minutes from Fasano, 25 from Ostuni, and about equidistant from Brindisi and Bari. The Monteneve-Van Gaubergen family transformed the 20-room masseria with flair and creativity, and revived the organic cultivation of the estate with almond trees, olive groves, and citrus orchards.

Explore Masseria Montenapoleone

Casa Montani

Hotels in Europe: a bedroom at Casa Montani, Rome

Located just a stone’s throw from Porta del Popolo and Villa Borghese sits this luxe guesthouse on the 3rd floor of a 19th-century palazzo. The property has been in owner-manager Giuseppe’s family since 1916, and the rooms display a great deal of character and love. With warm, attentive service led by Giuseppe himself, and a position close to many of Rome’s most recognisable cultural landmarks, this is an ideal city bolthole.

Explore Casa Montani

Relais & Chateaux Villa Crespi

The impressive exterior of Relais & Chateaux Villa Crespi, Italy

Nestled on the sleepy shores of Lake Orta in Piedmont, this luxurious hotel has an enchanting Moorish design and is a romantic spot indeed. The 19th-century villa was inspired by Middle Eastern architecture, and the intricate, elegant décor has a dreamlike, otherworldly quality. It’s well-known to foodies from all corners of the globe too: under the auspices of Chef Antonino Cannavacciulo, the on-site eatery has been awarded two Michelin stars.

Explore Relais & Chateaux Villa Crespi

Click here for more boutique hotels in Europe and elsewhere…

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