Hotel review: The Lindis, New Zealand
The Lindis is an incredibly remote yet refined high country lodging experience in the heart of New Zealand’s South Island. Appropriately named after the picturesque alpine roadway, the Lindis Pass, you pass through when driving north from Queenstown, the lodge can be found deep in the heart of the Ahuriri Valley on a 240-hectare sheep and cattle station, Ben Avon.   It is this dramatic setting that makes it the perfect place to enjoy complete stillness. Details The Lindis Luxury Lodge Where: 1490 Birchwood Road, Ahuriri Valley New Zealand. Contact: +64 3 976 1589 First impressions The sheep are merino (used for their wool, not their meat) and hundreds, if not thousands (4500 live on the station), play host as you drive the 15-kilometre dirt road into the property before reaching the dramatic iron gates that guide you to the hotel.   Taking two years to build, a design of wood, glass and steel, blends seamlessly into the valley with its roofline mimicking the natural undulations of the surrounding mountainscape. With some of the darkest and clearest skies in the world, stargazing at The Lindis is extraordinary. Here, you can choose to do everything or nothing at all. With an impressive line-up of activities, including fly fishing on one of the world’s best stretches of water for doing so (listed as top five in the world), you won’t be bored (unless of course you want to be).   Horse riding, hiking, and e-biking through the valley and into the alpine mountains is also on offer. And then of course there is the hot tub, sitting alone in the middle of the valley, with nothing or no one else around, this is one of the best places for a soak I have ever seen. The Lindis is currently working on some more accommodation that will be rolled out later in 2019 - individual glass pods, buried deep in the mountains. They will surely be incredible; definitely a reason to return again soon. [caption id="attachment_49283" align="alignnone" width="600"] Lose yourself in the vast, open spaces[/caption] The suites With only five suites at The Lindis, each with its own exceptional view out over the Ahuriri Valley, the accommodation experience is an intimate one. Choose between two Master Suites, and three Lodge Suites.   The Master Suites command a larger and more private space at either end of the building, and are definitely worth the extra splurge. With a private sitting area, both indoors and outdoors, a large bath tub, and a double-sided gas fire place - these suites offer both luxury and privacy, and the perfect platform from which to enjoy the quiet and calm of the valley. The mini bar, full of local drinks and snacks, is complimentary during your stay. [caption id="attachment_49285" align="alignnone" width="600"] With only five suites at The Lindis, every view is a good one[/caption] [caption id="attachment_49286" align="alignnone" width="600"] Step into your dramatic bathroom[/caption] The food and wine Head chef Cesare Stella and sous chef Aurelio Stella (Cesare’s son) hail from Italy, but now call New Zealand home. With light streaming into the Great Hall, from where all dining takes place, this is a lovely space to enjoy their daily-changing menu which showcases local and seasonal produce from their very own kitchen garden, as well as their Italian heritage.   Cesare kindly took us on a tour of his garden one sunny morning; his passion for quality produce was inspiring. New Zealand wines are paired with the meals each evening, and hand-selected world class wines are available for purchase from an impressive cellar. The activities The property is situated on one of the best stretches of water for fly fishing in the world, the internationally renowned Ahuriri River. The season runs from November to April, so if you are lucky to be staying at The Lindis over that period you can wander down to the river, running right in front of the lodge, to give it a shot yourself.   Guests will also be able to watch local anglers from the lodge as they fish for trout over the summer months. Another highly recommended activity is the gliding experience. With one of the world’s best soaring environments right on their doorstep, the dramatic landscape is best enjoyed from the air.   Flights around nearby Mt Cook or even Milford Sound are also possible. We loved taking out The Lindis’s e-bikes (sounds lazy I know!) to better explore the valley. Andy, the activities manager, dropped us off at the end of Birchwood Road, about 22 kilometres from the lodge, and we then rode back from there – a stunning ride along the braided river. Horse trekking is also possible with 16 horses in The Lindis’s stable.   Taking in the high country farm land, through native New Zealand beech forest and sub alpine herb fields, this is another spectacular way to enjoy Ben Avon station and the surrounding Ahuriri Valley. Lastly, don’t leave without having a soak in the spectacular wooden hot tub which sits happily on its own in the middle of the valley. It is very beautiful here. [caption id="attachment_49284" align="alignnone" width="600"] Take in the high country farm land[/caption] The IT Verdict The ultimate getaway for a remote and pristine wilderness experience.   Score: 4/5   We rated: The architecture; the comfortable beds; the delicious and seasonal Italian-inspired cuisine; the hot tub; the biking; and the stars.   We’d change: We would remove the TVs, who needs a television when you have the valley to look at by day, and the stars to look at by night?   Notes: Rooms start from $2000 per night, and inclusive of tax, breakfast, dinner. We recommend splurging a little bit more and booking one of the Master Suites.   Remember: It pays to be aware of the remote nature of this experience. The Lindis strongly recommends taking out comprehensive travel insurance prior to your stay. There is no mobile phone reception, but wi-fi is of course provided.
Lepang Beach, Bali
How to spend 10 days in Bali, beach-style
If you’ve done the regular Seminyak-Ubud Bali beach route and you’re after something still beach-based but different, then look no further. We’ve mapped out your ideal 10-day beach hop itinerary. Ah, good ol’ Bali. A province comprising one big island and a handful of smaller islands, Bali has long drawn travellers seeking a beach holiday, and there’s no doubt it delivers. From palm-fringed, white-sand coasts and cliff-guarded coves to shimmering, black-sand volcanic beaches and wave-buffeted shores, there’s a beach to suit any traveller. Here's a new take on a Bali beach holiday. Day one – Check in to Wyndham Dreamland From the airport, hail a taxi or book a Go-Jek (the Indonesian equivalent of Uber) and head south to Wyndham Dreamland on the Bukit Peninsula. Steps from Uluwatu’s hotspots, the newly-opened resort will serve as a base for the start of your trip.   After checking in, cool off in the resort’s lagoon pool or catch a wave at one of Bali’s world-famous surf breaks. Dreamland Beach, Bingin Beach and Padang Padang are all within easy reach and promise a thrilling ride regardless of your skill level. For a more relaxed start, stroll on over to one of the many warungs (eateries) for a snack and watch the pros carve waves in front of the setting sun. [caption id="attachment_49210" align="alignnone" width="460"] Cool off in Wyndham Dreamland Resort's lagoon pool.[/caption] For dinner, look no further than Rayunan Restaurant at your resort to sample some truly traditional ‘nusantara’ (meaning archipelago in Old Javanese) fare. Try the Indonesian classic Oxtail soup, Sop Buntut, or the Balinese take on crème brûlée, Nusantara Srikaya. Day two – Explore the Bukit After a yoga class and a hearty breakfast at the resort, start your day of exploring the Bukit. If you’re confident on a scooter (and have insurance and an international scooter license), make your way around that way. If you don’t, ask reception to arrange a private driver for the day.   Beach-wise, check out Suluban for its natural formations and rocky enclaves but, for a truly hidden gem, don’t go past Thomas Beach. Located halfway between Padang Padang and Uluwatu, you’ll find it off the main road, down a nondescript gravel driveway. [caption id="attachment_49212" align="alignnone" width="460"] Check out the natural formations and rocky enclaves at Suluban Beach.[/caption] For lunch with a side of cocktails, visit cliff-side El Kabron or chilled-out Single Fin. Cashew Tree in Bingin is another great pitstop for a healthy veggie lunch. For dinner, you can’t go past a seafood barbecue on the beach at Jimbaran Bay. Day three – Day trip to Seminyak or Canggu Pencil in time today to explore Seminyak or, slightly further north, Canggu. It takes roughly one hour to get to Seminyak and 90 minutes to Canggu – but plan ahead for traffic on the day, which could make the trip a little longer.   In Seminyak, drop by Motel Mexicola, Potato Head Beach Club and some of the cute town centre boutiques. In Canggu, café-hop around Crate, GIVE and Deus. Day four – Unwind at Wyndham Tamansari Jivva Resort Now it’s time to relax in another part of the island. Take a Go-Jek or hire a driver and travel 90 minutes to Klungklung on the south-east coast. Here, your base will be Wyndham Tamansari Jivva Resort, a luxury accommodation right on black sand Lepang Beach. Choose from suites with plunge pools or villas overlooking rice paddies.   This slice of paradise is known for its much slower pace. After checking in, make a beeline for the ocean-facing pool and order from Jivva Beach Club. Afterwards, trot over to the onsite Tirta Spa for a massage.   In the evening, book a yoga class in the resort’s open-air bamboo yoga room or sweat out all your stresses in the sauna. You’re on holiday, after all. [caption id="attachment_49214" align="alignnone" width="460"] Slow it down at Wyndham Tamansari Jivva Resort in Klungklung on the south-east coast.[/caption] Day five – Tour Klungklung Start your day exploring Klungklung’s market. Here, brightly-coloured textiles hanging from shopfronts and locals going about their daily shopping set the scene, while vendors spruiking everything from tropical Bali fruits to silver and homewares, the soundtrack.   When you’re all shopped out, walk mere steps from the market to Klungklung Palace. Dating back to the 17th century, the monuments and landscaped grounds offer a peek into Bali’s fascinating past. While most of it was destroyed during the Dutch colonial conquest in 1908, many structures still remain, including the ‘hall of justice’ complex, Kertha Gosa.   Cap the day off with dinner at open-air resort restaurant Bumbu. [caption id="attachment_49215" align="alignnone" width="460"] Dating back to the 17th century, Klungklung Palace offers a peek into Bali's fascinating past.[/caption] Day six – Ferry to Lombok Make your way to Padangbai Harbour on mainland Bali, a 30-minute drive from the resort, and catch the 90-minute fast boat to Lombok. One of the many neighbouring islands off the mainland, it’s still relatively untouched and often described as Bali before the crowds. If ferries aren’t your thing, drive to Denpasar Airport and take the 45-minute flight instead.   In Lombok, check into Wyndham Sundancer Resort. Here, you can don your bathers, snag a seat at the resort’s Sundancer Beach Club and spend your afternoon soaking up the Bali beach sun. [caption id="attachment_49217" align="alignnone" width="460"] Snag a seat at the resort's Sundancer Beach Club.[/caption] Day seven – Dive or snorkel in Lombok Lombok has some of the most spectacular, not to mention easily accessible, underwater life in the world, so take full advantage with a day of diving or snorkelling.   You won’t need to travel far, with a Dive Centre soon opening right at the resort. Get fitted with your equipment, then learn to dive in the resort pool before letting the team take you out for the real thing. Popular dive sites include Meno Wall, Nipah Slope and The Cathedral, as well as a sunken ship at Wreck Point off Gili Trawangan. [caption id="attachment_49218" align="alignnone" width="460"] A sea turtle at Wreck Point off Gili Trawangan.[/caption] After a day on the water, spruce up for dinner at resort restaurant Bukit. On the second floor, the formal eatery is afforded gorgeous views over the ocean. Day eight – Day trip to Gili Islands Organise a day trip to the charming Gili Islands, Meno, Trawangan and Air, a 20-minute boat ride off Lombok. Gili Trawangan is by far the busiest, with the most resorts and nightlife. As you’re just here for the day, rent a bike and roam around its car-free terrain, grab a snorkel and swim with turtles, or hire a see-through kayak and paddle around the island. Or simply flop yourself on a beach lounge chair.   Gili Meno and Gili Air are both known for being honeymoon destinations and are, of course, much quieter. Stroll the beach, relax in a hammock or, on Gili Meno, walk to the saltwater lake and mangrove forest. Day nine – Drive around Lombok Use today to explore the countless mountains, waterfalls and beaches around Lombok. The island is surprisingly big, so plan ahead to get the most out of your day.   If you can manage the early start, take a taxi to Selong Belanak Beach, 90 minutes south of the resort but well worth the drive. Otherwise taxi straight to Benang Kelambu Waterfall, two hours inland. Six falls running through trees make the enchanting curtain of water truly a sight to behold. Also worth visiting is Rinjani Mountain, a massive volcano that towers off the island and is the second highest in the country. [caption id="attachment_49219" align="alignnone" width="460"] Explore the countless waterfalls around Lombok.[/caption] Just before sunset, hit busy Senggigi Beach or pink-sand beach Mawun to see the sun sink into the sea. Day 10 – Head back home It’s the last day of your trip, and time to head home and back to reality. From Lombok, hop on a fast boat back to mainland Bali where you’ll catch a cab to the airport.   Speeding past rice paddies, greenery all around you and a sense of calm within, you’ll be basking in your new-found Bali glow and hoping it stays with you long enough until your next visit.
Mariott Fiji Resort
Pacific Island living: a Fiji Island Getaway
Sitting pretty on Momi Bay on the western coast of Viti Levu, Fiji Marriott Resort Momi Bay offers everything you dream an island getaway should be. Drift off to a gentle ocean breeze and wake up to the sound of lapping waves in your adults-only (cue romance) overwater bure villa at Fiji Marriott Resort Momi Bay.   Spend your day relaxing on the white sand beach, indulge yourself just a little with a signature cocktail at the resort’s swim-up bar or watch the sun set from the infinity pool – it’s adults only, too. Your idea of relaxation Whatever relaxation means to you, Momi Bay has it covered. If you're in need of a little pampering, visit the Quan Spa or take advantage of the resort’s many water-based activities –from a leisurely paddle atop a stand-up paddleboard through calm lagoon waters to soaking up the Fijian sun aboard a kayak. [caption id="attachment_48727" align="alignnone" width="800"] Spend your time as active - or as relaxed - as you like.[/caption] Prefer a steadier watercraft? Sail away on a hobie cat for the afternoon, or charter a private fishing boat. Sit back, relax and enjoy the ride onboard the open boat, waiting for the fish to bite while you navigate the island’s many beautiful reefs. Kick things up a notch If you like a little more action on the water, book a jetski safari for a thrilling adventure and memorable snorkelling experience. Here, you’ll dive into calm, clear waters and explore the colourful and abundant marine life of Fiji’s coral reefs. To get up closer and just a bit more personal, arrange a snorkelling or scuba-diving tour on the reef. [caption id="attachment_48729" align="alignnone" width="800"] Parasailing is just one of many activities available on-island.[/caption] Just a 15-minute boat ride from Cloudbreak – one of the world's best surf breaks, attracting professional surfers from all over the world – Fiji Marriott Resort is the closest 5-star resort to the break on the mainland, so surfing fans will rejoice. Explore more When you are ready to explore further, visit the resort’s tour desk for help finding and booking Fiji’s many attractions and activities. [caption id="attachment_48730" align="alignnone" width="800"] The ocean is literally at your doorstep with a stay here.[/caption] From day cruises to stunning Fijian islands, scenic helicopter scenic flights, zipline adventures, river safari tours and sightseeing tours, make the most of your island getaway and discover the very best Fiji has to offer.   For more information and to book now, visit
Hotel review: The Mulia, Nusa Dua, Bali
It’s one of Bali’s most luxurious beach resorts, complete with butler service and a Sunday brunch that’s the stuff of legends. So what’s it really like to stay at the Mulia in Nusa Dua? Danielle Norton checks in. Details The Mulia, Mulia Resort and Villas, Nusa Dua, Bali First impressions On arrival at The Mulia we’re greeted by a man proffering a bowl of frangipani flowers. He positions one behind each of our ears and then, as we cup our hands in prayer position, he pours frangipani scented oil into them. Rubbing our palms together, we step into the resort, our senses activated as we transition from the outside world to this new one.   At this 30-hectare property in Nusa Dua guests are far from the hectic crowds and bustling streets of Bali’s more tourist-oriented areas. Comprised of the Mulia Resort, the all-suite The Mulia, and the Mulia Villas, this property is refined and elegant, polished like a marble bust in a museum. In fact, it contains huge walls of rare blue marble and it’s the perfect place to escape from the world for a little while. We check in for two nights in the beachfront Earl Suite at The Mulia and two nights in the one-bedroom villa. [caption id="attachment_48257" align="alignnone" width="600"] Sweeping pool views will take your breath away.[/caption] The suites The Mulia suites are enormous, as is everything on the property. The rooms, the furniture, the grounds; all aspects of the hotel are grand. The suites are like mansions with a foyer, lounge room, powder room, bedroom, walk-in wardrobe and bathroom with separate toilet and shower. There’s also an outdoor balcony with a double day bed, a huge Jacuzzi and a breakfast table.   Sweet treats and fruit await guests in their rooms. After a long day of travelling, slipping into the Jacuzzi (run by one’s butler, of course!), eating macarons and contemplating the idyllic tropical beach and the garden lights twinkling below is just the ticket to refresh weary bones. [caption id="attachment_48246" align="alignnone" width="600"] The patio at the Earl Suite.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_48247" align="alignnone" width="600"] Bathroom in The Earl Suite.[/caption] The villas One of five options villa options including the Mulia Mansion, the 500-square-metre one-bedroom villa is completely private and secure. Guests have their own personal swimming pool, an outdoor pavilion, manicured garden, and an enormous house in which to bathe, sleep and relax. The indoor Jacuzzi is in a glass room, surrounded by lush plants and opens onto an outdoor shower.   The suites and villas at the Mulia come with full butler service. The butlers are internationally trained and all are skilled enough to attend to a president or royal who may stay in one of the exclusive pads (for these you must request access and the price is upwards of $20,000 per night). [caption id="attachment_48248" align="alignnone" width="600"] Unwind in the Earl Suite.[/caption] The food Each of the five-star restaurants in the resort has an overflowing smorgasboard of cuisines to suit every palate.   Japanese restaurant Edogin has a ramen noodle station as well as a mountain of seafood, sushi, sashimi, rice balls, lobster tails. In the centre of the room stands a spotless teppanyaki grill. On surrounding ledges are plates of fish, clams, mussels, scallops, chicken and beef. Once guests make decisions about their desired ingredients, the fresh delicacies are cooked by highly trained chefs and delivered to their table.   At the ice-cream counter choose from green tea, white sesame, ginger, raspberry, chocolate or vanilla and ask the chef to cut it through on the large ice bench with lychees, strawberries, chocolate sprinkles, toasted flaked almonds, macadamias, sultanas, mango, granola or kiwi fruit. [caption id="attachment_48252" align="alignnone" width="600"] The rooftop at Sky Bar.[/caption] The Lounge Despite the enticing doughnut bar and collection of pastries, order one of two signature Mulia breakfasts: crab cakes with eggs Benedict, or wagyu beef on brioche, from the à la carte menu. Afternoon tea (either a selection of Indonesian sweet and savoury treats, or a classic European high tea of sandwiches and petit fours) is also served here. With a view straight out to the poolside regal statues for which the Mulia is famous, it is a stunning place to enjoy a meal. Indulge even further and choose something from the cocktail list. The Cafe This restaurant contains several mini restaurant kitchens. Guests can choose from Indian cuisine, Indonesian curries or noodles, Korean barbecue, Japanese sushi and much more. The pièce de résistance of this restaurant is the dessert room, which is, in fact, two rooms. One contains a spinning wheel of ice-cream flavours, decadent toppings as well as cookies, cakes and slices. The other has a fairy floss machine next to a coconut pancake cooking station, windows filled with doughnuts and racks of cookies to choose from. Table8 This Chinese restaurant has authentic, regional dishes, cooked to order. Honey-glazed pork, succulent roast duck, tofu, octopus, stir fries, dim sum, noodles and a selection of yoghurts and toppings to satisfy any craving. Try the oolong tea and watch, mesmerised, as the bud blossoms in the glass. [caption id="attachment_48249" align="alignnone" width="600"] Dramatic interiors at Table8.[/caption] Soleil The Sunday brunch buffet at this magnificent 230-seat restaurant is booked out weeks in advance. Always extravagant, there is an incredible array of delectable food displayed. Cheeses from around the world, an assortment of breads, and a dedicated vegetarian table piled high with spring rolls, salads, corn cakes, rice paper rolls and quiche co-exist with towers of oysters and prawns, platters of salmon, a carvery, curries, soups, mounds of cakes, slices, jellies, and even a chocolate fountain. Don’t miss the tortellini on the à la carte menu. There are also a range of bars to discover, including beachfront Sky Bar, which serves up a tapas menu alongside cocktails, spirits and wine. [caption id="attachment_48250" align="alignnone" width="600"] Soleil is the magnificent 230-seat restaurant where brunch is booked out weeks in advance.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_48251" align="alignnone" width="600"] The famous Soleil Sunday brunch.[/caption] Services Wellness/The Mulia Spa The Mulia Spa has 20 plush treatment rooms. Guests can choose from an extensive menu of facials, scrubs, massage styles and beauty services to create their perfect spa day. Therapists are trained to exacting standards and the massage and beauty treatments are world class. [caption id="attachment_48253" align="alignnone" width="600"] Guests can choose from an array of facials, scrubs, massage styles and beauty services.[/caption] All Spa Daymaker program options start with an hour of access to the hydrotonic pools. With distinct zones offering spa jets to different parts of the body, bathers move from cool to heated hydrotonic baths and back again, according to preference. From there they can enjoy the steam room and sauna before cooling off in the uber-cool ice room. Refrigerated to zero degrees, the room has the ambience of a futuristic science lab. The pile of ice on the centre dome, which guests can use to rub on aching muscles, glows as the lights change from pink, through to blue, then to green. [caption id="attachment_48254" align="alignnone" width="600"] The words Relax and The Mulia go hand in hand.[/caption] Pools Guests have access to six pools across the property; the Oasis Pool and the Aqua Pool are exclusive to guests of The Mulia and Mulia Villas. Resort guests can use the other four magnificent pools which all have poolside service. [caption id="attachment_48255" align="alignnone" width="600"] Take in a view of The Ocean pool.[/caption] Gym facilities The gym is a state-of-the-art facility open from 6am till 10pm. Yoga, Pilates, Zumba, water aerobics, core classes and a range of other balance and strength classes are available throughout the day. We start our mornings with yoga on the grass facing the ocean, listening to the waves rolling in. Kundalini and Hatha breathing techniques help us sink further into our poses as we practise. We stretch our limbs then work on our abs. By the end of the session, the sun is bright in the sky and we head to breakfast feeling energised knowing we have already completed a decent workout. [caption id="attachment_48256" align="alignnone" width="600"] Sweat at the state-of-the-art gym.[/caption] Children’s facilities Guests are able to bring a nanny into the resort to attend the fantastic Mulia Kidz club. Alternatively, your kids can be privately minded in their room and around the resort. Nearby activities/tours available: Tours can be arranged through butlers or the resort’s reception staff. We took a day trip to Ubud, only an hour away. The real Bali is not far from the luxurious paths and gardens of the Mulia, if you want to discover it. The IT Verdict: For privacy and exclusivity, the Mulia is a dream for travellers who want to fly in, enjoy the luxury of an international-standard resort, swim, eat well and jet home again. Location: 8/10 Beachside but out of town, the charm of this hotel is that there’s nothing else around. Style/character: 10/10 Every element, from the welcome chocolate treats, to the extravagant, plush decor, to the soft, spongy bath mats, is exquisite. Service: 10/10 Rooms: 10/10 Food and Drink:10/10 Value for Money: 9/10 Even though you get what you pay for at the Mulia (incredible service, accommodation and food), the prices are a little steep. Price: (per night) Mulia resort rooms start from $530, the Mulia suites start from $1049 and Mulia Villas start from $1370. Best thing The final touch is the butlers pushing our luggage trolleys to the airport check-in desk, then directing us to the immigration gate. From the first moment to the last, it is this kind of spectacular attention to detail that makes the Mulia so special. Getting there Chauffeur service from Denpasar airport.
How to Choose the perfect Kyoto Ryokan escape
A stay in a traditional inn, or ryokan, is an essential shortcut to experiencing Japanese culture at its most charming and hospitable. Here’s how to make it happen in Japan’s most tradition-drenched, elegant city.   There are so many different kinds of accommodation options in Kyoto, from hostels to international chain hotels, Buddhist temple lodgings to Airbnbs and super-luxe skyscrapers – but it is the ryokan that conjures up the purest Kyoto experience. Rooms floored with tatami mats, kind kimono-clad hosts and steaming onsen baths characterise this type of accommodation, a world away from the breakfast buffets and cookie-cutter hotel rooms of the Western-style stays.   To plan your own ryokan escape in Kyoto, visualise the final details of your dream experience. Are you looking to try a traditional multi-course kaiseki meal, served to you fastidiously in your own room? Would you like to experience a tea ceremony, performed by a real Kyoto geiko (geisha) or the more colourful maiko (geiko-in-training)? Are you ready to sleep on a futon-style mattress spread out for you on the floor – with or without a fragrant but very firm wheat-filled pillow? Basically, how traditional are you ready to go, and how much are you looking to pay? [caption id="attachment_48167" align="alignnone" width="600"] Hoshinoya, Yamanoha[/caption] [caption id="attachment_48162" align="alignnone" width="600"] Hoshinoya, Tsukihashi[/caption] The money question Although ryokans are available all over Japan, they are most sought after in the heritage surrounds of Kyoto – and that also makes them some of the country’s most expensive. The plus side of this is, you’ll find the ‘ultimate’ ryokan experience here, if you’re prepared to pay. The almost mythical Tawaraya is sometimes referred to as Japan’s best ryokan, yet it doesn’t even bother with a website – it has had aristocrats gracing its rooms since the Edo period 300 years ago. Who needs a website?   In the slightly more earthly side of affordability, both Tamahan and Hoshinoya have made a name for themselves over many generations. The time-capsule Tamahan is a hideaway in a pedestrian-only alleyway, with old-school, incredibly humble service from its owners, offering perfectly kept gardens yet a location right in the centre of the sights of Kyoto. Hoshinoya is set up on the picturesque Oigawa River, meaning a private boat trip simply to reach its more modern but still utterly luxurious digs. In both of these, experiencing the service of a traditional kaiseki meal is very much a part of the stay, but the cost of such fine dining can make for an expensive night indeed. This is one of the big reasons why ryokan prices are generally charged per head – not per room. [caption id="attachment_48171" align="alignnone" width="600"] Hoshinoya, Hashizuku[/caption] [caption id="attachment_48172" align="alignnone" width="600"] Hoshinoya Mizunone[/caption] Not all Kyoto ryokans are in the top price bracket, either. At the other end of the scale, Uemura is also tucked away on a pedestrian-only alleyway, with three simple rooms and only breakfast served daily – fine if you are not after an intricate kaiseki meal; it has an incredible location in the centre of Gion, the old district still serving as the centre of geiko life. Meanwhile, if you’d like to experience such traditional offerings as a communal onsen bath, tatami matted floor and a futon bed, you can find these things for well under $100 at the friendly Kyoto Traveler’s Inn (though they also have Western-style rooms to choose from), in another fantastic location opposite the gigantic Heian shrine torii gate.   The wonderful thing about staying in Japan is that, even at the lowest price points, facilities and rooms are kept squeaky clean as a rule. Location, location For such a well-known city, Kyoto is surprisingly compact. Between its train and bus systems, it is quite easy to get around – but it can still be time consuming if you stay far away from the action. Because many ryokans are generations old, some act as waypoints on an ancient travelling route, or exist as a family parcel of land or a nobles’ retreat away from the city (the riverbound Hoshinoya is a perfect example).   Kyoto’s thousand-odd years in history as Japan’s capital city, however, has given it a few heritage districts where old ryokans remain in the centre of the action – particularly in the Gion district. If you have the time and the purse for it, a stay in a quiet ryokan, followed by one right in the city itself, is a fabulous way to sample the best of both. Kyoto’s many temples and shrines are spread across its giant basin, too, so a single ‘best’ location is not as important as in other cities. Additionally, if you are investing in the experience of a kaiseki meal, which can take a couple of hours to enjoy and is way too good to rush, you won’t be leaving your inn at night in any case. [caption id="attachment_48168" align="alignnone" width="600"] Twin beds at Hoshinoya[/caption] [caption id="attachment_48166" align="alignnone" width="600"] Relax at Hoshinoya[/caption] The rules: what to expect when you stay in a ryokan If you’ve never stayed in a traditional inn before, the unspoken rules that govern everyday life can seem a touch intimidating. Keep in mind that hospitality is one of the most golden rules, though – so don’t be afraid to ask politely for a bit of help if you’re stuck. Your hosts will be thrilled to teach you something new.   Like in most Japanese houses and the more traditional restaurants, you’ll leave your shoes at the door, placing them neatly on a shelf. There will possibly be some slippers left helpfully facing you so you can easily step into them and continue on into the ryokan itself. Shoes never come in, slippers never leave the building. And if you haven’t invested in some decent socks, this is the time to do so – they suddenly become a very visible item in Japan!   Don’t be disturbed if there’s no bed in your room: it will magically appear as you leave for dinner, ready for your return. If you are eating in your room, just go about your business and trust the housekeeping staff to do their thing. It will appear. Likewise, leave it and, as you breakfast or head out to sightsee, it will be spirited away. [caption id="attachment_48165" align="alignnone" width="600"] Hoshinoya, Tsukihashi[/caption] [caption id="attachment_48163" align="alignnone" width="600"] Meal time at Hoshinoya[/caption] Many traditional ryokans will have a hot bath (onsen) on the premises. Check with your host which times of day your gender can bathe: if there is only one bath, they split up the day between women and men. If there are two, they may stay the same, or switch genders through the day. For example, men may get the outdoor onsen in the day, while women get it at night. If you have tattoos, it’s polite to ask if you may use the onsen or not, since they remain a point of controversy in Japan (they are a sign of organised crime gangs), and politely accept the answer. It’s tough for a Japanese host to say ‘no’ to anything, so be kind if they do.   The most fun part of staying in a ryokan, or many Japanese inns – traditional or not? You can swan about in your robe and slippers all day long if you like. Your room will have a cotton yukata (casual version of the more formal kimono) put there especially for you, and it’s completely normal to have meals in it, even in common areas; head to the onsen baths and back; hang out in the reception area or gardens; anything you like. Japan is one of the few countries where it’s acceptable to dress down for dinner – way down. So wriggle your toes in your comfy slippers and enjoy. Read more in our guide to everything you need to know about ryokans in Japan and explore more of Kyoto in our Kyoto travel guide for where to eat and what to do while you're there.
Hotel Review: Good Hotel, London
We test out Good Hotel: a new-breed, social-good hotel, lugged to London over water from Amsterdam. Details Good Hotel Royal Victoria Dock, Western Gateway, London, UK The history A hotel with a cause is not something you come across every day. Especially not one that’s been designed in the Netherlands, before being barged along the North Sea Canal and over to the River Thames.   The eight-million-kilogram Good Hotel spent a year in Amsterdam where about 100 long-term unemployed were trained in hospitality, before it took its mission to the UK. [caption id="attachment_47394" align="alignleft" width="600"] First impressions at The Good Hotel[/caption] I’m all for supporting those who work hard to climb the ladders of life, so I’m on board with the concept before I even see that the hotel fits into the quirky, design-oriented, boutique style I favour.   It turns out chic-budget digs asking under £100 per night are trending in London, and this one is part of the new wave. Plus £5 ($9) from every direct booking at the Good Hotel, per night, is donated to underprivileged kids – even better. I click ‘book’. First impressions A moment’s walk from Royal Victoria DLR station, I’m greeted by what looks like a mass of grey sea containers stacked on a floating platform, linked to the docks by a drawbridge. Pulling my roller bag to the entrance, I feel like I’m boarding an ocean liner, only with large, square windows. [caption id="attachment_47393" align="alignleft" width="600"] Explore the communal 'living room'[/caption] Inside, it’s a freelancer’s dream. Felt chairs mingle with pine stools on sand-hued mats, pastel ottomans and grey couches are strewn with cushions and a mix of statement light shades and Edison globes deliver a decidedly hip vibe to the painted black interiors. [caption id="attachment_47386" align="alignleft" width="600"] The shared spaces are a freelancers dream[/caption] Check-in is streamlined – I’ve pre-entered most things online – with the only disappointment being advice that the rooftop is closed for an event. The room I’m soon in a rather industrial lift heading to my room – one of 148. Its pale grey walls are bare; there’s no TV or USB points but, for London, it’s huge – I wonder if I got upgraded and they forgot to mention it.   My king-size bed is dressed with crisp, clean linen, and there’s complimentary sparkling water and appropriately moral bathroom accessories by FAIR CosmEthics. [caption id="attachment_47391" align="alignleft" width="600"] A deluxe room at The Good Hotel[/caption] It’s pin-drop quiet overnight. I’ve sprung for views and the scene of frigid Brits swimming in the crane-dotted docks the following morning is well worth it.   Before setting off for the nearby Emirates cable car (a cheap and sensational aerial adventure), I’m wowed by the high-end brekkie spread. Fresh blackberries, dried cranberries, mini Bonne Maman jars and French pastries are served among the usual suspects.   The floor is packed with people of all ages from all over the world, all looking as pleased as I am that we chose to be Good. [caption id="attachment_47390" align="alignleft" width="600"] Have a drink at the Good Hotel bar[/caption] The verdict A modern, industrial-chic hotel with double-barrel attractions: it engages in social good while offering some of the most affordable, quality rooms in London. Location: 6/10 It’s a 40-minute, two-tube ride to London’s heart – but the dockside views make up for it. Style/character: 9/10 Budget doesn’t mean boring; trendy communal areas, free fruit and mags invite you to linger. Service: 8/10 Service is impressively polished, and staff have good knowledge of the local area. Rooms: 7/10 Minimalist with limited mod cons, yet my ‘deluxe water view room’ was spacious and the essentials well above average. Food and drink: 10/10 This is one of the biggest and best brekkie smorgasbords I’ve seen, and for £13.50 ($25) it’s worth indulging. [caption id="attachment_47396" align="alignleft" width="600"] The Good Hotel food is a definite highlight[/caption] Value for money: 9/10 London is an expensive city, so anything for £100 ($180) or less is regarded as a bargain – I paid just over.
Okinawa beachfront with boats
The top 2019 trending destinations you need to book right now
When the world is your oyster, how do you decide where to start shucking? So many amazing destinations around the world, so little time – making ‘where to next? ’ The million-dollar question. If you’re looking for inspo, Expedia’s top trending destinations for 2019 have been announced – and they’re all looking mighty delicious. Okinawa, Japan Japan and the words ‘tropical island getaway’ aren’t usually a combination that jumps to mind, but the Okinawa Islands are the country’s best-kept – or perhaps worst-kept – secret. A cluster of more than a hundred islands, Okinawa has long drawn Japanese holiday-makers looking for some downtime at the beach, and Aussies are catching on. After the hustle and bustle of Tokyo, tack on a few days at the end of your trip to recover from the adrenaline of the crowds while exploring Okinawa’s jungles, traditional marketplaces and one of the world’s largest aquariums. [caption id="attachment_46598" align="alignnone" width="600"] You'll never want to leave![/caption] Hotel recommendation: Ritz Carlton, Okinawa (5 stars) Nashville, America The beating heart of America’s country music scene, Nashville is back on the bucket list thanks to a few blockbuster TV shows and movies that have a cult-like following. Visitors can’t get enough of dropping into the iconic Bluebird Cafe for open-mic night, or sitting in on a show at the Grand Ole Opry theatre. There are also plenty of diversions for those lacking the love of all things country music. Check out the local craft breweries in the city’s brewing district, get your brisket and pulled pork fix at a barbecue joint and learn more about the country’s Civil War history at the Tennessee State Museum. [caption id="attachment_46599" align="alignnone" width="600"] Immerse yourself in America - and the world's - beating heart of country music.[/caption] Hotel recommendation: Hutton Hotel, Nashville (4.5 stars) Akaroa, New Zealand Less than a two-hour drive southeast of Christchurch, Akaroa is one of New Zealand’s most picturesque seaside regions, swiftly drawing visitors away from the big cities – and we can see why. Sprawling down the hillside of an ancient  volcano, the main town retains much of its unique historic roots, with French patisseries harking back to its time as a French settlement . Hop in a kayak and explore the surrounding bays that are just as much its claim to fame; the Pohatu Penguin Habitat in Flea Bay is home to a little penguin colony that’s too cute to miss. [caption id="attachment_46600" align="alignnone" width="600"] The secret gem of New Zealand's South Island.[/caption] Hotel recommendation: Akaroa Criterion Motel (4.5 stars) Tarifa, Spain Headed to Spain for the UEFA Champions League Final? You and the rest of the world will have eyes on Madrid’s Estadio Metropolitano stadium – but once the score is settled, be sure to make a beeline for the coastal province of Cadiz. Six-and-a-half hours south of the country’s capital, the ancient port of Cadiz has long been known as a holiday hotspot, but savvy travellers are starting to head one hour further south to Tarifa. This humble fishing town has a lot to offer, with beaches, mountainous landscapes and a beautiful Old Town to explore. It certainly punches well above its weight when it comes to beachside bars, sports bars and tapas options, too. [caption id="attachment_46602" align="alignnone" width="600"] Head to the south of Spain to discover tourist-free towns.[/caption] Hotel recommendation: Hotel Tarifa Lances (4 stars) Money sense If you’re worried about your pennies, Expedia has also included some tips to help make your next trip a reality. Mobile first Always doublecheck apps for mobile-only deals and savings. Bookings on the Expedia mobile app earn double Expedia Rewards points – Expedia’s loyalty program. Bundle and save Book your flight and hotel together to unlock potentially hundreds of dollars’ worth of extra savings. Australians can save up to $400* by bundling on Expedia. Shoulder season Skip the crowds and the premium prices of the most popular times of year by visiting destinations on the cusp of peak season. You’ll often find discounted attractions, dining deals and reduced hotel rates as destinations try to lure in travellers. Be strategic when booking Expedia data shows that the day of the week on which you book your next trip makes a difference. Do your holiday planning midweek – but wait until Sunday night to lock in the best airfares. Do your research Make sure you’re prepared for the costs on the ground. Look into currency conversions, location of your hotel in relation to key attractions, and local restaurant prices so you don’t get stung once you’re on holiday.   For more info, visit *Savings based on all holiday package bookings with Flight + Hotel on from Jan-Dec 2017, as compared to the price of the same components booked separately. Savings will vary based on origin/destination, length of trip, stay dates and selected travel supplier(s). Savings not available on all packages.
Review: Saint James Albany Paris
Before even walking through the revolving doors of the Saint James Albany you are impressed. A facade of five sandstone arches, each carved in true period fashion and corresponding French doors perched above – if this doesn’t make you feel a bit fancy, the four flags hanging above the hotels doors sure will.   Inside, things follow suit. The tiled floors and dark walls act as a contrast to the period courtyard, which features manicured gardens and white, filigree outdoor seating. They call this courtyard the Andalusian patio. To top it off, the water served at the concierge is both ice cold and infused to perfection. Details St James Albany Paris 202 Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris, France. [caption id="attachment_46584" align="alignleft" width="600"] The facade of Saint James Albany Paris is seriously impressive[/caption] The room We booked the superior room, the cheapest on the website. It was smaller than it appeared online, but just as artfully decorated, with a window looking across the road to a beautiful frontage of Parisian buildings.   The large old windows, opening inwards, reveal a decorative railing allowing you to have yours open to the sounds of Paris. [caption id="attachment_46586" align="alignleft" width="600"] Sleep in the heart of Paris[/caption] The room has everything one could need: tea, coffee, high-speed internet, a television, a large bathroom and a very comfortable bed, right in the centre of Paris.   Checkout is midday, but it is best to be up and out of the room by then anyway – or you’ll miss the buffet breakfast. Food and drink Paris is not only the city of love and lights, but also the home of the lavish croissant – best consumed at the Saint James Albany buffet breakfast.   Along with an array of other delicacies and pastries are your more traditional buffet foods: eggs, bacon, local sausage, toast and cereals. [caption id="attachment_46588" align="alignleft" width="600"] Have breakfast, lunch and dinner from the comfort of your own room[/caption] Not only are the breakfast foods delicious, but they are also presented divinely. Bread sits perched on what look like pewter trays and pastries are placed delicately in a pile, decorated with splayed strawberries.   The 202 Rivoli, the restaurant open for lunch on the ground floor of the Saint James Albany rivals the breakfast, featuring cheese boards, beef bourguignon, smoked salmon pancake and pistachio and raspberry mousse on the menu.   If the saying goes that you are what you eat, then you will be completely delicious after eating here. Services Perhaps the best part of our stay was the spa and pool facilities. In a dark and subterranean-feeling room sits an illuminated pool at the perfect temperature for swimming. Not far from the pool, down a small corridor, is a spa room with magazines, cold water (again, infused) and some chocolate snacks. Sadly, no cocktails were found here, but it would have been divine. [caption id="attachment_46587" align="alignleft" width="600"] Treats are served[/caption] The spa was the perfect excuse for walking around the hotel in the white robes and matching slippers, something usually only done in movies. Nearby activities I lied. While the spa was amazing, the location was even better. Only a stone’s throw away from both the Concorde and Tuileries metro lines, the hotel is so easy not only to find but also to tour the city from. [caption id="attachment_46585" align="alignleft" width="600"] Take in the Parisian sun from a private courtyard[/caption] Not that you really need to use public transport. The Saint James Albany is within walking distance of the Louvre, the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, Place de la Concorde and the Musée d'Orsay, and is directly opposite the Tuileries Gardens. Surrounding the hotel is also a variety of museums, restaurants and shops.   You could also walk to the Eiffel Tower if you’re game and wear good shoes. The stroll takes about 40 minutes, with plenty to do along the way – if Parisian style, architecture and food is your thing, of course. The IT verdict The Saint James Albany is a combination of cosy and opulent that a hotel in the centre of Paris should be.   Location: 10/10   Location! Location! Location! Central (albeit quite touristy) and within walking distance to most of the famous Parisian attractions.   Style/character: 8/10   Renaissance exterior and interior meets the best of modern furnishings. I would have preferred a few more winged armchairs with paisley lining, but appreciated the décor.   Service: 7/10   Excellent check in, cleaning and wait staff, although the concierge couldn’t help but sigh when I lost my access card for the second time.   Rooms: 7/10   Not exactly as pictured, but definitely more than good enough. The rooms were comfortable without being overstated; best described as cosy.   Food and drink: 9/10   Incredible variety and quality; true Parisian food.   Value for money: 7/10   At just under $405 per night, the cosy room seems expensive. Spa and pool access was included in the price, but the buffet breakfast set us back another $27 per person. You are essentially paying to stay in the best location in Paris, and to be honest, I’m not mad about it. Getting there: Close to two metro stations, Concorde and Tuileries, you can walk out of the doors and to your next destination. Getting from Charles de Gaulle to the Saint James Albany is as easy as a train from the airport to Châtelet, where you change to Line 1 for Tuileries and walk straight to the hotel.  
Airbnb’s top 10 most popular stays have been revealed
Itching to discover where the most diehard wanderlusters among us are wish-listing? We’ve got the lowdown on the 10 stays around the world that have caught the attention of the people – and for good reason. Amalfi Coast villas, Joshua Tree cabins, Marrakech riads and even a secluded Aussie property, these Airbnb gems clocked up the most likes on the site’s Instagram page in 2018. And when you see the images, it’ll be crystal clear why each of these incredible places deserves a spot in the top 10.   So, the only thing left to ponder is… will you bag yourself a stay before everyone else does? Fingers and toes crossed for you. 10. The Triangle Siargao – General Luna, Siargao Island, Philippines Got a grown-up fascination with teepees? Well this life-sized A-framed cabin in the Philippines is sure to tickle your fancy – it sure did for the 45,000-odd people who liked it on Instagram. Thanks for the pic, @thetriangle.siargao! [caption id="attachment_46224" align="alignleft" width="600"] The magnificent Triangle Siargao[/caption] Tucked away in the jungle, this property may look a little secluded, but you’ll have more than enough to live with, two friendly dogs as your welcome party and an indoor swing to pass the time. Pretty cool, eh? 9. Exclusive Villa with Private Dock and Swimming Pool – Piano di Sorrento, Italy Well, this is living, isn’t it? A cliff-side Amalfi Coast property that’d make anyone want to pack their bags and head for Italy. It’s not hard to believe this blue-soaked shot by @lizbedor received over 49,000 Instagram likes. [caption id="attachment_46223" align="alignleft" width="600"] A private oasis in Italy, anyone?[/caption] The property has its own private dock: the ideal starting point for a daily of sailing or the setting for a simple stroll after your private pool swim – whatever you prefer really. 8. Incredible Apartment & Views! Pool! – Perledo, Lake Como, Italy Was there ever any doubt that a Lake Como property would feature in this list? Not in our book; it’s one of the most magical places on Earth – and this photo captured by @sssoph90, which garnered almost 50,000 likes shows you why.   Situated high above the village of Varenna, you can see why visitors are itching to stay here, and we haven’t even mentioned the property’s three balconies, which happen to be just perfect for stargazing. 7. Vintage Design and Contemporary Art at Casalibera – Trastevere, Italy This could be the only balcony in the world where you don’t mind staring into the neighbour’s – and vice versa.   Set in Rome’s trendy Trastevere neighbourhood, this stylish apartment is the perfect place to sit with a good book and a glass of wine and watch the world go by. It’s no coincidence that the photo, taken by @jonisan, amassed more than 50,000 likes.   The apartment feels serene but is also within walking distance to all things Roma, which means – you guessed it – incredible pizza is never too far away. 6. The Boat House – New South Wales, Australia Hooray, Australia made the cut! Yep, a blissful little oasis on the NSW Hawkesbury River that can only be accessed by boat. Imagine laying out on the sun-kissed deck all day long, winding down the clock with a glass of wine.   It’s no wonder this pic, taken by @sarahlianhan, racked up over 55,000 likes. [caption id="attachment_46222" align="alignleft" width="600"] Some pretty nice Australian real estate[/caption] All we want to do is lay out on the property’s private pier and swim to the secret beaches scattered around the home. 5. BEAUTIFUL RIAD – Marrakech, Morocco Well this is not your average poolside by any stretch of the imagination. This stunning Moroccan homestead is your own private piece of heaven during your stay, ideal to curl up with a good book in, and waste the day in utter bliss. [caption id="attachment_46221" align="alignleft" width="600"] Moroccan paradise[/caption] The photo taken by @theresatorp was liked on Instagram just under 60,000 times and we can see why, we feel positively peaceful just looking at it. 4. Joshua Tree Campover Cabin – Joshua Tree, USA Tell us, where on Earth can you stay at a place with a lookout reminiscent of a setting of an old Western movie? Looking at this photo, you almost expect Clint Eastwood to ride by on horseback, tilt his hat in your direction and say, ‘nice digs’. [caption id="attachment_46220" align="alignleft" width="600"] Joshua Tree perfection[/caption] It’s no surprise this image taken by @alalam100 received over 65,000 likes on Instagram.   The Joshua Tree cabin is the perfect spot to appreciate the calm of the Mojave Desert and provides pretty much undisturbed daily sunrises and sunsets. Bliss. 3. Willow Treehouse – secluded, unique, and romantic – Willow, NY, USA A modern version of Robin Hood-style dwellings, this treehouse gives guests that ‘you’re on your own’ feeling in a somehow soothing way. During your stay, the swimming pond nearby will be your best friend, before you ascend up to your bedroom loft and take in the stars.   The treehouse is located near Woodstock in New York state and this image alone shows you why visitors are drawn to this woodland escape.   2. Lazzarella Room in Old Mill – Ravello, Amalfi Coast, Italy Like something out of a romantic movie, this Ravello property perched above the Amalfi Coast screams ‘Italy’ in every stereotypical sense – and we couldn’t be more pleased about that.   The vine-strung window looks out to the quaint town and hillside, and immediately gives you both the feeling of peace and the thirst to get out and explore.   The image is taken from the dining room of an old mill that has been turned into a homestead, just a stone’s throw from the beautiful Amalfi Coast.   1. LUC 22 Boutique Alpine Retreat – Queenstown, New Zealand Imagine staring out a window from the comfort of your bath tub and seeing this. By ‘this’ I mean a stunning vista of horizon-stroking mountains, a smooth pool of bright blue water and a crisp, cloud-covered sky. That’s what you’ll get when you choose to take your baths at this Queenstown alpine retreat, which overlooks the stunning panorama of Lake Wakatipu. [caption id="attachment_46218" align="alignleft" width="600"] The most impressive AirBnB view of all[/caption] It’s not hard to determine why this place scored the number one spot with almost 110,000 likes. Can we stay?! Image taken by @chachi86.
Hotel Review: Hotel Providence, Paris
Paris is cool again, according to Susan Gough Henly, who Checks into Hotel Providence in the heart of the action. From the moment we arrive at Hotel Providence, on cobblestoned rue René Boulanger in the hip 10th arrondissement, we are entranced. Wrought-iron balconies dot a cream limestone building adorned with delicate carvings. Metal tables and wicker chairs grace a tree-dotted terrace shaded with green awnings.   And just inside, a crackling fire warms a lobby cosy with leather smoking chairs and sink-into-me couches.   There are those who describe Paris as a museum piece with none of the edginess of Berlin or vibrancy of Madrid. They have clearly not spent time in the 10th arrondissement. This former working-class neighbourhood, still rich with immigrant diversity, is now the epicentre of hip and happening Paris.   Tech start-ups and boutique fashion labels perch beside African barber shops, artisan fromagers and hip bars. If you’re young or young at heart this is the place to explore.   Sit next to real Parisians at Melbourne-style cafes while you admire the exquisite symmetry of elegant Haussmann limestone buildings. That’s if you can bear to drag yourself away from the intimate environs of Hotel Providence.   The reception desk is next to the bar, right where I like it, and the very helpful receptionist says those magic words when you arrive before noon: “Yes, your room is available."   There are five categories among the 18 rooms: Mini, Classic, Superior, Deluxe and the top-floor Suite under the eaves of the mansard roof with views all the way to Sacré-Cœur.   Owners Pierre and Elodie Moussié and Sophie Richard have combined sumptuous velour wallpapers from House of Hackney with custom-designed bars (in each and every room) and antique gems from flea markets and second-hand stores that evoke an atmosphere of bohemian chic.   Our fourth-floor Classic room overlooks giant carved cherubs that adorn the theatre across the street. We can watch backstage staff haul up sets with a giant pulley but, we’re more entranced by the marble-topped bar with its antique cocktail shakers, martini glasses and jars of olives.   There’s a smart phone, chock full of insider Paris tips, which you can take with you during your stay. It even includes unlimited local and international calls.   The room, though compact, has oodles of charm, with deep forest-green velour wallpaper, a crystal chandelier, bronze storage rack and a metal-framed frosted-glass bathroom. The bathroom also has a vintage feel with old-fashioned white tiles yet its spacious glass stall complete with rain shower and high-quality toiletries is thoroughly up-to-date.   Come evening, the lobby bar has a warm glow. Locals and hotel guests are sitting at tables inside and on the terrace. We settle in to enjoy tuna tataki and avocado and a smoky roast lamb with an excellent, well-priced Bordeaux. Retiring to our sumptuous boudoir for the evening, in the interests of partial journalistic disclosure, all I can say is that the bedding is so sublime I order the sheets the next day.   Breakfast, which can be delivered to your room or enjoyed in the restaurant, is copious by French standards and includes excellent breads and pastries, cereals, yogurt, fruit and juice as well as hams, cheeses and boil-your-own eggs. Afterwards, we hop on a couple of the hotel’s comfortable bikes to pedal to the Canal Saint Martin. Nearby is one of the finest bakeries in France, Du Pain et Des Idees, as well as Holybelly, which takes its cues from a Melbourne-style cafe, where the coffee is excellent and the food inspired and affordable. Welcome to the new Paris. Details Hotel Providence 90 rue René Boulanger, 75010 Paris, France The IT verdict   Stylish boutique hotel with bundles of charm, perfect for young-at-heart Paris-bound travellers wanting to tap into the city’s design, fashion and tech scene.   Location: 8.5/10   Away from central (read touristy) Paris, the Hotel Providence is in a quiet nook of the uber-hip 10th arrondissement, chockablock with tiny boutiques and cafes.   Style/character: 10/10   Chic, stylish boutique hotel with a lot of attention to detail.   Service: 9/10   Front desk staff excellent. Some waiters could focus on client requests more attentively.   Rooms: 10/10   Whimsical and practical, each room had bucketloads of distinctive charm, plus a private cocktail bar. Bedding is sublime.   Food and drink: 9/10 Excellent expansive breakfast (for France) and an interesting range of tasty, reasonably priced dishes for lunch and dinner. There are plenty of excellent places to eat nearby too, such as Restaurant 52.   Value for money: 10/10 Exceptionally good value for money, especially on weeknights. We paid $338 per night. All IT reviews are conducted anonymously and our writers pay their own way – so we experience exactly what you would.
Sun International
Discover luxurious Africa on a soul-intriguing journey
Immerse yourself in the ultimate in South African luxury Sun International’s Sunlux Collection invites you to discover Africa’s wonders on a truly soul-intriguing journey, from Cape Town’s landmark The Table Bay, within the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront; to the gracious Boardwalk in South Africa’s friendliest city, Port Elizabeth; Sun City’s The Palace of the Lost City, nestled in an extinct volcanic crater surrounded by the Pilanesberg Big-5 nature reserve; the timeless Time Square in Menlyn Maine, Pretoria; and the heart of Johannesburg’s Sandton at The Maslow. [caption id="attachment_44998" align="alignnone" width="600"] Be intrigued by the ancient[/caption] The Table Bay Be captivated by perennial beauty. The Table Bay, opened in May 1997 by former South African president and icon, Nelson Mandela, is situated on the historic Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, in prime position against the exquisite backdrop of Table Mountain and the Atlantic Ocean.   The Maslow Time Square Arrive at the place that’ll take you further. The Maslow Time Square is a specialist 17-floor business hotel situated in South Africa’s first ‘green city’, Pretoria. The hotel is packed with state-of-the-art facilities and technology to satisfy the most switched-on business executive, but with the ability to switch to leisure mode as well.   The Boardwalk Quintessential elegance. Port Elizabeth is rated as South Africa’s friendliest city, with a charming coastal atmosphere perfectly mirrored by this quaint hotel itself. The Boardwalk conjures up scenes from a bygone era and is an ideal place to pursue your wildest or most elegant portside dreams. [caption id="attachment_44999" align="alignnone" width="600"] Be captivated[/caption] The Palace Be intrigued by the ancient. From its inception in 1992, The Palace has enthralled and amazed visitors from all over the globe. This addition to South Africa’s Pilanesberg landscape is dwarfed in years by the 1.3-billion-year-old extinct volcanic site on which it is built; it’s the perfect base from which to explore this timeless place.   The Maslow Sandton The mind’s preoccupation relies on the body’s location. Situated in the heart of Sandton’s financial district in Johannesburg, The Maslow is a specialist business hotel that is consciously positioned as a game-changer as well as a destination for professionals and a portal for travellers to discover unique fascinations within and surrounding this diverse city.   For more information, visit
Hyatt Regency Bali
Treat yourself (and the whole family) at this dreamy Balinese resort
Your ultimate blissful Bali getaway, with newly renovated rooms, a quiet beach, kids’ club, and beachfront eatery! Whether you want to spend your entire time chilling out by the pool or catching up with friends in one of the bars, the classic Balinese resort that is Hyatt Regency Bali has plenty of space and opportunities for you to completely recharge; it’s the perfect tropical escape. Originally built on a coconut plantation, the resort is blessed with the widest beachfront in the region and has the largest garden on the island. Families will enjoy the laid-back Sanur vibe, while couples will revel in its romantic, old-school charm. With 363 newly renovated rooms and facilities, the resort is eminently comfortable while at the same time retaining an authentic Balinese feel. [caption id="attachment_44994" align="alignnone" width="600"] Welcome to relaxation[/caption] Need to know Location The Hyatt Regency Bali is right on the main street of Sanur with 500 metres of beachfront and Bali’s top destinations close by: Seminyak is 45 minutes away and Ubud just an hour. Eat: The hotel has two restaurants: Omang Omang with its all-day dining, and Pizzaria by the beach. Outside the hotel you can enjoy hundreds of cafes, restaurants and bars. Play: Though most people come to Sanur to relax, there are plenty of options for turning your mild a little bit wilder. Beach clubs are within 10 minutes of the hotel, and bars with live music or sports are a quick walk away – plus you’ll find chilled-out yoga studios as well as hip boutiques and salons. Within the hotel, guests can swim in one of three pools, mingle at the Beach Bar or get pampered in the lavish spa. Top Tips The hotel’s renowned, established garden makes a fabulous backdrop for family or romantic portraits. Book a photo session with a local photographer and snap some of your best Insta shots ever. The garden is home to about 500 species of flora and fauna, and trees from the old garden of Bali Hyatt have been restored and given a new home. Head to the spa to try a watsu (water shiatsu) treatment – essentially a massage on water! Sindhu market offers a glimpse of local life. A wet market by day and food market by night, Sindhu is Sanur’s unofficial melting pot. Located 10 minutes’ drive from the hotel, the market opens from 6am to 10am and 6pm to 10pm.   The resort is accepting bookings from 20 December 2018. Find out more at