The best and brightest hotel openings around the world
The latest and greatest hotels, resorts and unique stays to check into and check out right now. Tengile River Lodge, South Africa Luxury safari and experiential travel company andBeyond has recently opened the brand new Tengile River Lodge, a luxurious lodge in South Africa’s Sabi Sand Game Reserve, and boy is it magical. The nine-suite lodge offers a high level of exclusivity and sense of tranquillity with a contemporary bush design. Each of the suites features a private deck with a swimming pool, an outdoor lounge and a master bedroom that opens out onto a luxurious bathroom with an outdoor shower and views over the river. Built with an extremely light footprint, using sustainable construction materials and an environmentally friendly design, the lodge has also been cleverly positioned on a bend of the Sand River, so that each suite is nestled in the tree line along the riverfront and boasts a magnificent view out over the Sand River, an area inhabited by a world-renowned diversity of wildlife. The elegant design concept is based around blending luxury with the natural landscape and bringing the outdoors inside, drawing inspiration from the textures of the surrounding bush. Pullman Luang Prabang, Laos This new five-star resort is located 10 minutes away by car from Luang Prabang’s UNESCO World Heritage-listed old town. [caption id="attachment_44535" align="alignleft" width="1000"] Located in Luang Prabang, it is within 2.9 miles of Night Market and 3 miles of Mount Phousy[/caption]   Its 16 hectares encompass 123 modern guest rooms with large terraces, a two-bedroom villa and a healthy scattering of infinity pools and streams. The Pullman Luang Prabang is now the largest hotel in town, but its low-rise architecture – which draws on traditional Laotian influences – sees it blend in well with the surrounding natural landscape.   Guests can dine on international cuisine at L’Atelier and sink a cocktail overlooking paddy fields at the Junction. One&Only Nyungwe House, Rwanda   Promising a real once-in-a-lifetime experience, One&Only Nyungwe House sits within the dense Green Expanse of a tea plantation, next to Ancient Montane rainforest.   Wild experiences such as chimpanzee Trekking or walking among majestic mahogany trees allow guests to max out the incredible setting.   The 23 rooms and suites combine local African craftsmanship with a contemporary look and feel, Plus there’s a Spa that uses natural products from luxury brand Africology. FREIgeist Göttingen, Germany   Located in the historic university town of Göttingen, in Germany’s Lower Saxony, Hotel Freigeist is a relentlessly modern new build (and a member of Design Hotels) featuring 118 rooms.   The décor continues the theme, with wood and copper fittings throughout contrasted against a palette of grey bricks, neutrals and shots of blue, and Basquiat-inspired artwork.   The whole thing has a Nordic vibe (enhanced by the on-site sauna), but in Intuu, its signature restaurant, it’s Japanese/South AmericaN Fusion all the way. Omaanda, Namibia   Omaanda is nestled in the Namibian savannah in the heart of the Zannier private animal reserve. Its 9000-hectare footprint, which offers lashings of peace and quiet and natural beauty, houses 10 luxury huts inspired by traditional Owambo architecture.   Ambo Delights restaurant offers cuisine inspired by the best local produce, while the bar at the edge of the heated swimming pool has views over the savannah. The Shangai Edition    A perfect blend of old and new Shanghai, the 145-room Shanghai EDITION sees Nanjing Road’s 1929 Art Deco Shanghai Power Company building fused with a new-build skyscraper.   Its various food and drink options include star chef Jason Atherton’s HIYA (translated to ‘clouds in the sky’), a Japanese izakaya-inspired eatery on the 27th floor. Six Senses Maxwell, Singapore   The Six Senses group has had a busy year, having already opened properties in Singapore and Fiji; now comes Six Senses Maxwell.   A sister property to Six Senses Duxton, the wellness brand’s first city hotel, the 120-room property is also retrofitted into a historic Singapore colonial-style building and features Euro-chic interiors courtesy of French architect and designer Jacques Garcia. The Apurva Kempinski, Bali   The first Kempinski hotel to open in Bali is a suitably grand reflection of Balinese architecture and craftsmanship.   Situated in the Nusa Dua area of the island, the hotel boasts 475 rooms, suites and villas and all the requisite inclusions expected from the luxury brand, from five dining options to a 60-metre swimming pool to an ocean-facing spa and a cigar and shisha lounge.   It even has its own beachfront wedding chapels.  
Azamara Pursuit Cruise Ship
7 reasons to take a trip aboard the Azamara Pursuit
Not your average mode of transportation between Ol’ Blighty and marvellous France, but as I learnt, climbing aboard the Azamara Pursuit is absolutely the best way to do it, and there are a few reasons why… It should be made clear before you read another word, that I, Olivia Mackinnon love cruising.   It’s in my DNA, you see. My parents actually met while working on board what they called, ‘The Love Boat’, but I suspect it was just a regular boat, with no links to TV cruising royalty whatsoever.   So for as long as I can remember, I have been wooed by the incredible grandness of cruise ships, and up until recently, I’d never been lucky enough to board one in the Azamara fleet.   The brand new Azamara Pursuit was setting off for her maiden voyage, and I had been invited on the two-night journey to experience all she had to offer… Grand is an understatement [caption id="attachment_46070" align="alignnone" width="600"] The Azamara Pursuit is grand in scale[/caption] Landing in London and then travelling to Southampton, UK, I was instantly desperate to climb aboard Azamara’s newest ship, Pursuit as soon as I clapped eyes on her. One of my favourite things to do aboard a ship is familiarise myself with the facilities: ‘Where is the restaurant, how far is my cabin from the pool, where is the spa?!’ I’m simply not satisfied until these questions are answered. However, aboard Pursuit I was enamoured with the luxury feel of the ship. The detail in every hand rail and piece of art. As a small-time cruiser, I simply didn’t feel worthy.   The common areas were furnished with incredible plush chairs, decorated with velvet trimmings and chic finishes, while the restaurant took the whole ‘white tablecloth’ dining experience to a new level with a sense of European style I haven’t ever seen on board a ship before. [caption id="attachment_46073" align="alignnone" width="600"] Spending time in the common areas was a joy thanks to this stunning and comfortable arrangement[/caption] The cabin The feeling of luxury was extended down the hall of the starboard side – as I’m sure it was on port side – and all the way inside my cabin. The bathrooms had more sink space than I was accustomed to. There was an established seating area, a roomy balcony and a beyond-comfortable bed. In fact, with the deluxe sheets combined with the gentle sway of Southampton’s River Itchen, I don’t know if I’ve ever slept so soundly.   I was particularly fond of the colour palette used in the cabins, a mix of moody greys, deep woods and a touch of blush. The marble finishes added a chic cherry to an already delectable cake.   Also, the shower pressure was near-normal – maybe even on par with what you’d get at home. Anyone who has ever cruised before will understand what a big deal that is. A Titanic experience, minus the tragedy What excited me about this trip was that I was going to get the chance to arrive in an entirely different country by the time I woke up in the morning. Yep, we were en route to Cherbourg, a port city in France where you could delight in both French naval history and quality croissants for the day. I also learned that this was the place the Titanic made its final stop on its fateful journey to America – but I tried not to focus on that as I disembarked. [caption id="attachment_46074" align="alignnone" width="600"] The furnishings were elegant, comfortable and luxurious[/caption] If that sounds appealing to you, visitors to Cherbourg are encouraged to visit Cité de la Mer, one of the port’s main tourist attractions, where you can find out more about the infamous ship’s final visit. The on (and off) board delicacies The Pursuit frequents many European ports during its varied itineraries, which means the food always complements your destinations. During my day in Cherbourg I was treated to fresh crepes, soft cheese, macarons and sparkling wine. I pretty much had to roll back to the ship. [caption id="attachment_46071" align="alignnone" width="600"] There are many sights to take in and they aren't all experienced from the ship's deck[/caption] Back on board, passengers celebrated the ship’s maiden voyage with a decadent oyster and Champagne buffet dinner. Chefs were ready and waiting at a personalised pasta station, ready to combine fettuccine with pesto, or spaghetti with carbonara sauce if your heart so desired. It’s differences like these that showcase the level of care – and luxury – you can expect to experience on board an Azamara ship – and from what I hear, the Pursuit’s elegance is certainly no exception to its sister ships: Azamara Quest and Azamara Journey. The pool Despite being August, the weather was a little cooler during our short cruise, and I’m almost certain that I was the only guest to brave the ship’s water amenities. I swam not only in the pool’s accompanying spa on the main deck, but also in the larger spa provided to guests before their scheduled treatment, as an indulgent precursor to what is already guaranteed to be a ‘cloud nine’ level of pampering.   Due to the lack of company in the spas, I felt there was more than ample room – my only gripe would be that they could be made a little warmer – however on a standard August day in Europe I imagine the cooler temperature would ordinarily be ideal. Destination Immersion experiences [caption id="attachment_46072" align="alignnone" width="600"] Just because you're on a cruise ship doesn't mean you don't get to experience the culture of the ports you travel to and from[/caption] The thing that makes the Azamara fleet different to regular luxury cruises is its desire to get passengers off the ship at port and truly immerse them in the activities and culture of that destination. This is what they call their ‘Destination Immersion’ programming.   For example, during my time in Cherbourg on the Pursuit’s maiden voyage, in addition to being treated to iconic French delicacies, we were also wowed by a side-splitting performance by a French dance ensemble. The short itinerary meant that while a full-day of exploration wasn’t an option, Azamara brought a taste of Cherbourg’s culture to us at port – and we loved every second of it.   Sailings with longer itineraries can expect even more incredible immersive experiences. From a three-day/two-night stargazing experience in Chile’s Atacama Desert, to exploring the inside of a volcano in Iceland, they somehow manage to make it about guaranteeing you have as great of a time off the ship as you will on board. They get around, a lot As of 2019, Azamara’s very first Melbourne departure will take place – and the list of destinations worked into their itineraries is longer than ever. This year, the ships will visit a record 250 ports across 69 countries with 94 overnight stays and 145 late-night stays – meaning you get the most out of the places you want to visit. Plus, this year marks the first visit to Alaska – yippee!
6 picturesque places to go on a long weekend near London
London is a great jumping off point for exploring the United Kingdom, and is certainly where most travellers begin (often without heading out of the city at all). This is a list of the best towns, counties and villages to get you out of the city for a long weekend, and explore the history of England along the way. Oxford Oxford, dubbed ‘the city of dreaming spires’, has been home to the likes of J. R. R. Tolkien, Oscar Wilde and Emily Davison, all who attended the world famous Oxford University.   If you visit however, you’ll be quick to learn it’s much more than a university town.   The city boasts incredible architecture, history and food, with a trip promising romance, relaxation and a little bit of learning in the middle. Getting there from London: Oxford lies approximately 90 kilometres north-east of London. The journey will take approximately one hour, by both train and car. Best things to do during your stay: EAT Gail’s Bakery Jericho on Little Clarendon Street offers the best in baked goods. Stop in for a croissant/cinnamon bun hybrid, a serve of thick cut sourdough toast with home-made jam and clotted cream or a ham and gruyere cheese croissant. The eat-in dining experience offers quality service, or alternatively, grab it take-away and seat yourself in one of the many university gardens. [caption id="attachment_45908" align="alignleft" width="600"] Gail’s Bakery Jericho on Little Clarendon Street offers the best in baked goods[/caption] For dinner, hit up the best restaurant in Oxford, the Oxford Kitchen, where you can enjoy rabbit croquette for starters, confit pork belly for main and finish it all off with a nectarine parfait. With exposed brick interiors, industrial meets chic in this acclaimed venue. [caption id="attachment_45909" align="alignleft" width="600"] Inside the Oxford Kitchen[/caption] Café Rouge is another great spot, particularly for a nice lunch in the courtyard on a sunny day. Grab a croque monsieur and a coffee, to hit the spot.   DO Punting, usually whilst sipping on a glass of Pimms, is one of the most iconic Oxfordian activities.   Punting is the English version of riding in a gondola, with the punter at the back of the seven-metre boat, rowing with a long pole that reaches the bottom of the river bed.   The best punting can be found at Cherwell Boathouse, where hiring a punt for up to six people on a weekend will cost $34 per hour or $170 for a full day, and slightly less on weekdays. [caption id="attachment_45907" align="alignleft" width="600"] Expect understated but upscale European dining on the river at Cherwell Boathouse[/caption] If you paddle far enough along the river you can stop at a riverside pub for a beverage, or to say hello to the cows grabbing a drink from the river bank.   SEE There are plenty of things to see in Oxford: just walking the street for one, or exploring the libraries and university buildings or shopping.   The University of Oxford Botanic Gardens and Arboretum are a must-see when on a visit to Oxfordshire, and the perfect spot for a picnic lunch or to sit and read a book (how appropriate!). [caption id="attachment_45910" align="alignleft" width="600"] The University of Oxford Botanic Garden is the oldest botanic garden in Great Britain and one of the oldest scientific gardens in the world[/caption] If you are looking for something spectacular to see, and happy to drive 30 minutes out of the town, Waddesdon Manor, built by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild in the late 19th century, is a sight for sore eyes.   Set on over 2000 hectares of mostly manicured gardens and forest, the residence boasts a French renaissance style and is home to the Rothschild Collections of paintings, sculpture and decorative arts. You can come and see how the other half lived as the manor house is now managed by the Rothschild Foundation on behalf of the National Trust and open to visitors. Poundon A country hamlet in Buckinghamshire, less than half an hour’s drive from Oxford, Poundon is the ultimate town for a romantic weekend away.   Surrounded by flowing fields of farmland, old local pubs and humble English cottages, Poundon (and a number of surrounding hamlet towns) is an amazing escape from busy London town, offering the authentic country experience you’re looking for.   Getting there from London: An hour and a half by car, Poundon offers a unique country experience not too far from the city. EAT For a fully immersive experience in an English country town, an old local pub can’t be beaten. With plenty in this area the choice is difficult. Perhaps you could be tempted by a roast at the Red Lion, a tiny pub just out of Poundon with a thatched roof and ceilings so traditionally low that you can scarcely stand up.   With its white facade in the centre of Poundon, the Sow and Pigs dates back to the 1800s. Describing its own menu as ‘swine dining’, this pub will not disappoint. Try the chef’s crackling with apple sauce and the baked camembert with garlic and thyme for starters and the slow-cooked beef brisket for main. You also have the choice to create your own burger for £11.50 and an array of daily desserts to finish it all off. DO Book yourself into a bed and breakfast for a cosy and romantic stay. The charming and peaceful Manor Farm Bed and Breakfast – right in the centre of Poundon and with gorgeous countryside views – has three en suite guest rooms, a communal kitchen and elegant lounge room that invites playing board games and reading books (with many of each supplied). Breakfast is made fresh daily and consists of homemade bread and condiments, or yoghurt, fruit and local honey. [caption id="attachment_45915" align="alignleft" width="600"] Book yourself into Manor Farm bed and breakfast for a cosy and romantic stay[/caption] Another great thing to do when in Poundon is to venture out to Bicester Village: a collection of factory outlets for upper-end brands. Here you’ll find Montblanc, Timberland, Cath Kidston and Gucci at a fraction of the retail price. [caption id="attachment_45914" align="alignleft" width="600"] Bicester Village is home to more than 160 boutiques of leading brands, each offering savings of up to 60%[/caption] SEE: The best thing to soak up in Poundon is the countryside. Take a walk around the narrow country lanes to relax, and even take a stroll past Poundon House, an Edwardian estate nothing short of breathtaking. [caption id="attachment_45916" align="alignleft" width="600"] Take a stroll through Poundon House[/caption] Bath Formerly the home of Jane Austen (and now home to the Jane Austen Centre), Bath is a cultural hub filled with history and atmosphere. [caption id="attachment_45920" align="alignleft" width="600"] Evening view of Royal Crescent, a heritage street in Bath[/caption] With much to do and see in this gorgeous West Country city, any visitor to London must venture out and explore it, at least once. Getting there from London: A two-hour drive or one and a half hours by train will get you from London’s city centre to Bath. EAT If you enjoy a bit of spontaneity, and very fine cuisine, Menu Gordon Jones is the best place in Bath. The concept, created by the up and coming chef Gordon Jones, is that every meal is a surprise. At £50 for a five-course meal, you sit and wait patiently for whatever the chef decides to serve you. This is not only fine dining, but an experience that can only be had in Bath.   Although this isn’t Cornwall, stop into the Cornish Bakery when in Bath for a pasty, scone and an excellent coffee.   For a brilliant breakfast, stop in at Bill’s for a stack of buttermilk pancakes (and nab yourself a side of bacon too!). Bill’s, with a gorgeous deep green frontage, reminiscent of an English pub, is hard to miss – so don’t. DO Bath’s compact city centre can be easily enjoyed by foot, but for a sweeping overview of its majestic architecture and attractions – from the Royal Crescent to the Roman Baths and Bath Abbey – hop on an open-top city sightseeing bus. [caption id="attachment_45922" align="alignleft" width="600"] Visit Thermae Bath Spa: where you can bathe in naturally warm, mineral-rich water[/caption] And for a little R&R after all that sightseeing, visit Thermae Bath Spa, where you can bathe in naturally warm, mineral-rich water, just as the Romans used to do. This spa retreat in the middle of the city is inspired by (you guessed it!) the Roman Baths. SEE The Roman Baths, ancient religious spas situated right in the centre of the city, are a must see-in Bath (considering the city’s named after them). The baths, built in opulence, were public bathing houses that were filled using aqueducts and ancient heating systems, showcasing the sophistication of the Roman Empire. To make the most of your visit, book the ‘above and below’ tours, to see the site below and above ground. [caption id="attachment_45921" align="alignleft" width="600"] Enjoy Bath's rich history, brought to life at the Roman Baths[/caption] Cornwall A county to the south-west of London, Cornwall is made up of many picturesque towns and villages, and is best explored with a car. Getting there from London:  From London, to the most westerly part of Cornwall (and indeed, England), Land’s End is a five-hour drive and almost seven hours by train. EAT Wherever you are in Cornwall, make sure you’re eating clotted cream: on toast, on scones and even as ice-cream.   Another delicacy is the Cornish pasty – a hand-held meat and vegetable pie originally developed as a lunch for Cornish tin miners in the 17th and 18th centuries. If you’re looking for something more than cream and pastry, the 13th-century Turks Head pub in Penzance, complete with underground smugglers’ tunnel, is fabulous for enjoying local beer and seafood. DO Head to the Eden Project, home to the largest indoor rainforest in the world. With a giant flying fox across the tops of the forest, this is not only an educational experience but also an exhilarating one. [caption id="attachment_45924" align="alignleft" width="600"] The Eden Project: the largest indoor rainforest in the world[/caption] SEE Visit Polperro, an ancient fishing village in Cornwall. With narrow winding streets, this small, unspoilt town feels like something out of a fairy tale. There is also a resident stray dog, who hangs with the fisherman who still shuck their oysters on the shore. [caption id="attachment_45926" align="alignleft" width="600"] The harbour of the fishing village Polperro[/caption] Another noteworthy town in this gorgeous county, mostly unknown by tourists, is Charlestown. [caption id="attachment_45927" align="alignleft" width="600"] The Phoenix sets sail from Charlestown[/caption] An untouched 18th century port town that used to be bustling with trade. The port, still completely intact, was used as a set for the first season of Poldark. It’s perfect for photographs, antique shopping and a bite to eat; try scones and English breakfast tea in the Pier House, an inn with accommodation that overlooks the town’s Georgian harbour.   Penzance is another beautiful Cornish town. It boasts great shopping and friendly locals and amazing architecture that sparkles on a sunny day. Not far from the centre of the city is Saint Michael’s Mount, which can be ventured to via boat when the sea is not too choppy, or by foot when the tide is low. This mount, a small island just off the coast, is a civil parish and a Cornish Icon.   A 20-minute drive from Penzance is Cornwall’s furthermost point and one of England’s most famous landmarks, Land’s End. Steeped in history and ancient legend, this clifftop destination affords views out of the Atlantic Ocean and more opportunities to indulge in some of the things that Cornwall does best – from pasties to clotted cream ice-cream. [caption id="attachment_45925" align="alignleft" width="600"] Land's End is one of Britain's most magnificent (and visited) landmarks[/caption] Devon Another county south-west of London, Devon is home to exquisite country, coastal and riverside towns.   With so much to do in Devon, a car is the best way to make sure you can get a taste of everything it has to offer. Getting there from London: Approximately three hours by train, and a 3.5-hour drive from London to the centre of Devon. EAT Whilst in Devon, and England for that matter, it would be a sin not to sit down to a Devonshire tea. With English breakfast tea and scones, act like an authentic Devonian. [caption id="attachment_45929" align="alignleft" width="600"] A Devonshire tea is unmistakably a truly British custom known worldwide[/caption] While Devonshire teas can be found at all good cafes and restaurants in Devon. I suggest heading to Exeter for the Hidden Treasure Tea Rooms cream tea. Additionally, The Strand tea rooms, in Plymouth, does the perfect cream tea situated in an old cobbled street location. Finally, the Cream Tea Café in Barnstaple is devoted to Devonshire cream tea and is a must-stop in when visiting this county. DO Why not visit Agatha Christie’s private holiday home, ‘Greenway’ in Brixham, and wander through the rooms where she wrote many of her books? Whether you’re a Christie fan or not, this experience is imperative on a trip through Devon. [caption id="attachment_45930" align="alignleft" width="600"] Wander through Agatha Christie’s private holiday home, ‘Greenway’ in Brixham[/caption] Another must-do in Devon is to hike through the Valley of the Rocks, spotting ancient rock formations, herds of goats and picturesque views of the ocean. SEE Travel through Dartmoor via Dartmoor way, which follows a scenic route through the most beautiful villages and homesteads in the area.    
Rabat Morocco Africa
City guide to Rabat, Morocco
Look past the Moroccan greats of Casablanca, Marrakesh and Fez to discover Morocco's capital Rabat, brim full of ancient treasures. Rabat is known for Old medina, the beautiful Kasbah, Souq shopping Rabat's Eat streets When dining in Rabat you should sample the best of both the Moroccan tradition and the French colonial influence.   A much-loved traditional restaurant can be found in the old medina. Dinarjat (+212 37 70 42 39) adds a little theatre to proceedings: you’ll be met at the medina gates by a man in traditional dress bearing a lantern who leads you through the labyrinth of old streets to the old wooden door of the restaurant. [caption id="attachment_31353" align="alignleft" width="1000"] Mosque in the old town of Rabat, Morocco.[/caption] Inside a 17th-century mansion you choose from a classic menu of lamb tagine, couscous and salads under vaulted ceilings.   For a taste of France, head to Le Grand Comptoir. Housed in a restored 1930s Art Deco building, it has that Casablanca romance; a place of martinis, jazz and rare steak. Out and about in Rabat If you only have a day or two in Rabat head straight for the 17th-century walled Medina, a rabbit warren of streets that carry that old North African sense of romance and adventure.   Dip in and out of the souqs and cafes and you could get lost, but not for long as you’ll eventually hit one of the ancient fortress walls.   Head north up the Rue des Consuls past grand old courtyards before leaving the Medina and entering another of Rabat’s treasures, the beautiful Kasbah les Oudaias, through the spectacular Bab Oudaia gate.   Relax in the Andalusian Gardens here and wander the narrow streets and blue-and-white walls of this 12th-century citadel that overlooks the Atlantic. Insider’s secret Summer heat getting too much? There's a lovely clean swimming beach right in the city. Retail reconnaissance Make your way to the 14th-century Grande Mosquée de Rabat Medina, which marks the start of Rue Souika, a thoroughfare of shops with the reed-covered Souq as-Sebbat at its eastern end.   Practise your bartering for Moroccan lamps, embroidered babouche slippers, jewellery and fabrics among baskets filled with bright spices and Turkish delight.   Don’t miss the bustling souqs in the neighbouring city of Salé, a short taxi hop over the bridge that crosses the Bou Regreg river.   Salé is known for its carpenters, who produce fine chairs, tables and trays. [caption id="attachment_31354" align="alignleft" width="1000"] Moroccan women and children having fun on a sunny day at the Kasbah des Oudaias beach in the city of Rabat, Africa.[/caption] Stop by one of the woodworking factories to pick up a gift. The ultimate experience Looking like some alien obelisk, the Hassan Tower forms a striking edifice on the banks of the Bou Regreg river.   The 44-metre high minaret, a slab of ornately carved red sandstone, is all that remains of Sultan Yacub al-Mansour’s effort to build the biggest mosque in the world, an attempt that was destroyed by earthquake in 1755.   Take a walk in the surrounding gardens and then catch a five-minute taxi to Rabat’s other must-see sight, the Chellah.   This medieval muslim necropolis was built on top of a Roman Fort. You’ll find the remains of a spectacular mosque here and the ancient ruins now play host to an annual jazz festival in September. Caffeine hits Avenue Mohammed V is a tree-lined boulevard with plenty of shady spots to sit and have a coffee.   Try La Comédie, which bakes its own pastries every day, and watch the world go by. Stay & play Affordable: The Repose has traditionally styled suites in a lovely old riad in Salé’s Medina.   Moderate: Riad Sidi Fatah is set in a traditional mansion in Rabat Medina.   Luxe: With its own hammam, wellness centre and pool, the Relais & Châteaux property Villa Diyafa is the ultimate way to indulge after a day in the hot, crowded souqs.
Ponant
The most delicious way to travel from Lisbon to Dublin
A gastronomic cruise flitting from Portugal’s medieval treasures, then famed French vineyards through to the fascinations and mysteries of Celtic castles and cobblestones. Gastronomy cruising from Lisbon to Dublin with Ponant; where do we sign up? Between perhaps the most famous stretch of culinary coastline in the world, and the French talent for experiencing the very best of everything, Ponant’s back-to-back cruise from Lisbon to Dublin  may be the most luxurious cruise we know.   France’s only luxury cruise line offers The French Touch: a way of living in which excellent gastronomy takes pride of place. Every day brings gloriously fragrant flavours, carefully selected cheeses and wines, specialty breads and sweet pastries imagined by Maison Lenôtre. Maison Taillevent now provides its fine vintage wines by the glass, Maison Veuve Clicquot accompanies gala cocktails, and the infamous Ladurée bakery has a place of honour for afternoon tea. And then there’s the prestigious gala dinners prepped by Alain Ducasse’s teams. You’ll want to tear yourself away from the incessant luxury on board Ponant’s L’Austral, though, as the decadence continues onshore. The first nine nights of the cruise involves several visits (and wine tastings) at the beautiful wine estates of the Saint-Estephe, Margaux and Pauillac appellations. In the evening, the moored ship will have Château Latour as a magnificent backdrop to a gala dinner onboard with expert wine and dish pairings.   Two days in Bordeaux, the wine capital of the world, follow along with its captivating wine-making tradition; don’t miss the chance to visit the Cité du Vin – the medieval village of Saint-Émilion – and other châteaux. Lastly, you will call at Belle-Île-en-Mer and Guernsey before arriving in Portsmouth, in the south-east of England to end the gastronomic portion of the cruise and begin your exploration through the Celtic Sea for seven more nights.   The Isles of Scilly are a strange, wondrous little archipelago whose landscapes seem to have come straight out of Enid Blyton's famous stories. Here, long sandy beaches stand alongside green fields, while ruins of old castles stand proud on hilltops.   You can step ashore at Cobh, a maritime port in County Cork in southwest Ireland, and discover the picturesque village of Blarney, famous for its castle, and Kinsale, a charming little port sheltered within the picturesque Bandon Estuary.   L’Austral will take you to the celebrated City of Pop, Liverpool, then to the Isle of Man, in the waters between the United Kingdom and Ireland; its capital, Douglas is a postcard from the United Kingdom of the Victorian era. During your stopover in Belfast, you can visit the Giant's Causeway, a massive geological formation and UNESCO World Heritage Site featuring more than 40,000 basalt columns, then it’s off to Dublin, a beautiful end to your voyage, its cobbled streets brimming with fabulous shops, pubs and arts centres deserving a few more nights at your leisure. The French Touch Whether you choose a Mediterranean cruise or a voyage into the heart of the Antarctic ice floes, Ponant’s exceptional levels of customised and attentive service are renowned, giving you the privileged feeling of sailing aboard your own private yacht.   A French crew welcomes you and sets about ensuring your comfort and wellbeing throughout your cruise on L’Austral, an impressive ship featuring innovative and environmentally friendly equipment, and just 132 elegantly designed staterooms and spacious suites with large windows, as well as lounge areas that open onto the outside. The cruise line’s hallmark is a subtle blend of refinement, intimacy and comfort. Experience a different kind of cruising on a back-to-back cruise from Lisbon to Dublin, departing on 13 April 2019 for 16 nights aboard L’Austral. Fares start from $11,053 per person twin share in a Prestige Stateroom on Deck 4. For more information visit cruising.com.au/book-today or call the Cruiseco concierge on 1800 270 747 to find your nearest Cruiseco Cruise specialist travel agent.
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 suninternational.com
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 hyattregencybali.com
V2V Vacations
The luxurious Canadian cruise you’ve always dreamed of
Passengers can frequently spot wildlife such as orcas, bald eagles or sea lions along the coastline of British Columbia. The waters of south-western British Columbia in Canada, are some of the most spectacular in the world, and the uniquely beautiful, comfortable and convenient journey aboard the V2V Empress between downtown Vancouver and downtown Victoria aims to showcase this stunning corner of the world with unparalleled commitment to service, comfort and luxury.   Whether you are looking for an exciting add-on to your Alaska cruise or your Rocky Mountaineer train journey, or you simply wish to discover Victoria for a day, cruising to Vancouver Island on this stylish 242-passenger high-speed catamaran is an opportunity to spend the voyage learning about the rich culture in the region.   Sailing directly from downtown Vancouver past Stanley Park, across the Salish Sea and meandering through the stunning British Columbia Gulf Islands into Victoria’s Inner Harbour on Vancouver Island, passengers can frequently spot wildlife such as orcas, bald eagles or sea lions. Throughout the 3.5-hour journey, guests also have the opportunity to taste local flavours through the on-board menu, which features foods and non-alcoholic as well as alcoholic beverages exclusively sourced from the region.   All seating is reserved, so when you go up to the sundeck to enjoy the incredible 360-degree views, you can be rest assured that your seat won’t be occupied by someone else once you come back inside. [caption id="attachment_44989" align="alignnone" width="600"] Cruising - but with all the comforts of a luxury hotel[/caption] Need to know In Vancouver, the V2V terminal is located downtown by the convention centre, within short walking distance of the Vancouver Cruise Terminal, a variety of luxury accommodation options as well as boutique properties. In Victoria, the ship arrives and departs directly from the Inner Harbour across from the British Columbia Provincial Legislature, within an easy four-minute walk from all pick-up points for the best Victoria and Butchart Gardens sightseeing tours and activities. See Victoria If you cruise to Victoria for the day, you will have enough time to wander the quaint, historic downtown with its British colonial architecture, visit the stunning Butchart Gardens, or linger over afternoon high tea. [caption id="attachment_44990" align="alignnone" width="600"] You'll be amazed at all the wildlife spotting you can do![/caption] Go Royal Class The V2V Empress cruises past some spectacular British Columbian wilderness; the views from Royal Class seats are unbeatable. V2V’s two classes, Premium and Royal, both feature comfy ergonomic leather seats equipped with international power outlets (and free wi-fi throughout the ship), but Royal class is tailored to those who appreciate more personalised service. Up on the upper deck, Royal guests enjoy the best views, with food and drinks served directly to their seat. A welcome drink and a three-course light meal in both directions is included, as well as unlimited non-alcoholic drinks.   For more information visit V2Vvacations.com
Westin Maldives
A whole new sea of tranquillity in the Maldives
The resort is an idyllic paradise in the UNESCO-listed Baa Atoll Biosphere Reserve. There is a new wave of wellbeing on the tropical archipelago oasis of the Maldives with the opening of The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort and its brand new combination of 70 amazing overwater and island villas and suites. The resort is an idyllic paradise in the UNESCO-listed Baa Atoll Biosphere Reserve and takes inspiration from the ‘shape of the water’, the marine life of the Atoll and the elements of water, sun and wind. It has been designed to maximise environmental sustainability whilst providing a supremely luxurious and tranquil Maldivian escape. [caption id="attachment_44983" align="alignnone" width="600"] Over water bungalow, yes please![/caption] Need to know Location: Being nestled on this beautiful coral island in the Biosphere Reserve gives guests of The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort uninterrupted ocean and pristine turquoise lagoon views. From the atoll’s most desirable locale, guests are in close proximity to landmarks such as the Hanifaru Bay, known for the largest gathering of manta rays globally. This is a whole new level of tranquillity. [caption id="attachment_44984" align="alignnone" width="600"] Nothing like being able to see the ocean through the lounge room floor![/caption] Eat The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort presents three unique dining experiences. The Pearl is the resort’s specialty restaurant famed for exquisite Japanese cuisine with exceptional ocean views. The all-day dining experience at Island Kitchen stays true to the Westin brand’s Eat Well credo through a balanced menu combining Chinese, Indian and Maldivian fare. At Hawker, guests can sample authentic Asian street food with a live kitchen in a casual bustling atmosphere. Adjacent to the Library and overlooking the azure blue Indian Ocean, Sunset Bar is a relaxed lounge serving tapas and wonderfully imagined cocktails. [caption id="attachment_44985" align="alignnone" width="600"] Stay in complete luxury with paradise at your doorstep[/caption] To learn more call +960 660 4444 or visit westin.com/maldivesmiriandhoo
The best castle and manor house hotels in Ireland
Sample some of the best castle and manor house hotels in Ireland to help you find just the right retreat for an indulgent stay. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it! The old joke that you don’t travel to Ireland for the weather is entirely true. Ireland is not the kind of place that a ‘sun-worshipping, cocktails-by-the-pool-from-11am-till-late’ wife like mine would naturally seek out. So to convince her to spend a valuable week of her European travel time on the Atlantic Ocean’s eastern break wall required a compelling itinerary.   Hence my ‘Great Castle and Manor Hotel Stays of Ireland’ itinerary, featuring a series of properties that stretch from the approachable and affordable to those of the more wallet-busting once-in-a-lifetime variety. But no matter how stately or opulent, they all reveal the heart and history of Ireland and its people. Ballyfin, County Laois 105 kilometres; a 90-minute drive south-west of Dublin Talk about a sense of arrival: two butlers wait on the steps of this magnificent Georgian manor house as we edge the car gently over the driveway that divides it from the lawn, the helipad and the man-made lake.   After soaking in the vista, we enter the foyer. Underfoot is an ancient Roman mosaic, purchased in 1822 by the home’s then owner, Sir Charles Coote. His family’s unofficial motto ‘cost what it may’ explains a lot about Ballyfin’s grandeur.   With a glass of Billecart in hand we pass under two enormous Irish elk antlers as we enter the reception room; each antler is perhaps two metres from tip to tip. Some 10,000 years old, having been petrified in an Irish bog, the antlers were bought by Ballyfin’s current owners.   With check-in completed, we are presented with a bewildering array of civilised leisure activities to indulge in. The sun is shining so boating on the lake may be just the trick; or perhaps a horse and cart tour of the grounds? The walk to the castle ruins at the top of the hill, with views to seven different counties seems a little too strenuous so we can opt to take the golf cart instead. Clay pigeon shooting might be too noisy, while a tour of the vegetable garden requires more energy than everything else put together thanks to the endless rows of pampered veggies.   Instead we opt for a dozy read, but yet again we are faced with options. The Gold Room is remarkable, but the shimmer from Napoleon’s sister’s chandelier (no kidding) is a little distracting. The fireplace in the Saloon is comfy but there are no windows to take in views of the grounds. We settle for the Library with its outlook to the fountain. Tea and home-made biscuits are served.   This remarkable grand home, set on over 248 hectares, is a refined sanctuary indeed. It survives today as a 20-room hotel thanks to a meticulous eight-year restoration by its new American owners. Or perhaps patrons would be a more accurate description.   The effort that went into not only rescuing the house from abandonment and decay, but also into elevating it to its original glory is breathtaking. It’s hardly surprising that it took out Condé Nast Traveler’s best hotel in the world in 2016. But it’s not the rare artefacts, four-poster beds or fine linens that make a hotel of this calibre, it’s the sense of place in landscape and in time. Everything is true to the property’s heritage; the owners even found, purchased and reinstalled many of the original family’s portraits.   A great example of this craftsmanship and devotion can be found in the Conservatory. Over a traditional Irish lunch of smoked salmon potato salad and gammon, I crane my neck to admire the 3000-plus unique panes of glass painstakingly measured and cut to fit each slightly different frame.   Staying at Ballyfin is a privilege; nowhere else in the world has so much been done to preserve an experience, place and style. Cost what it may indeed. Ashford Castle, County Mayo 241 kilometres; a 2.5-hour drive west of Dublin Ashford is probably the most famous of the castle hotels in Ireland. Once the home of the mighty Guinness family, the estate has been operating as a hotel since 1939.   Now part of Red Carnation Hotels, the castle is more a Disneyland of posh adventures than mere accommodation, where you can live the life of the landed gentry, if only for a day.   Visitors and guests alike come to enjoy the myriad experiences: the castle, the lodge, golf course, a tea boutique, a falconry school, equestrian centre, clay pigeon shooting, fishing centre, spa, zip line, a tree-climb park. The estate sits between the shoreline of the country’s largest lake, Lough Corrib, and the beguiling village of Cong.   The castle itself is a maze of rooms filled with porcelain and silver collections. It’s the kind of place where finding a billiards room complete with a cigar terrace is par for the course. The walls are decorated with images of the countless celebrities who have either visited, stayed or been married here, from presidents (Ronald Reagan) to rock stars (John Lennon).   There are three restaurants that cater to guests and the public, who mostly come to admire the magical gardens and the castle itself.   We sleep and dine in the castle’s more ‘approachable’ (read: affordable) accommodation, Ashmore Lodge, as the castle is booked out; it’s a tough ask to get a room in the middle of summer. The lodge is more modern-American than Irish-heritage. Our suite has a fireplace and is homelier than the much more ornate rooms of the castle.   At Wilde’s, the lodge’s restaurant, the food is fabulous with quirky touches: the dough for our bread is smoked, adding an extra five hours to the baking time; the duck arrives in the pan in which it has been cooked with sprigs of pine needles and orange in an aniseed jus.   [caption id="attachment_44593" align="alignleft" width="1000"] Junior Suites[/caption] Ashford Castle is faultless, but with 60 per cent of its guests coming from America, it sometime presents like a little slice of the US in Ireland. Gregans Castle Hotel, County Clare 238 kilometres; a three-hour drive west of Dublin More country home than castle, Gregans is a cosy hotel in one of my favourite regions of Ireland, the Burren (pronounced the ‘burn’). A geological marvel in County Clare, the Burren is a stark landscape of grey limestone pavement that looks beaten by the Atlantic gales; it was in fact carved by glaciers 60 million years ago. Gregans sits at the very bottom of the test-tube-shaped Ballyvaughan valley, with views across Galway Bay to the city itself.   The hotel, compact in size with a bar, library and dining room, is a refined and calming experience of luscious interiors and beautiful food operated by the second generation of owners, husband and wife Simon Haden and Frederieke McMurray.   Locally, the restaurant is famous for being one of the best in the Burren. We feast on local smoked salmon with crème fraîche and chocolate mousse while lounging in the bar. An elegant meal, it betrays the deep quality of everything at Gregans; the food, wine list, service and interiors are all sumptuous.   Our room has views down the valley to the bay. A subtle green and white colour palette is understated and muted (Frederieke’s career as a textile designer shows in the beautiful textures and exquisite fabrics that cover all the surfaces), resulting in a soothing aesthetic. Simon’s cats can often be found sleeping on the lounges and chairs throughout the hotel.   In fact, Gregans is so intimate and seductive that it’s hard to tear yourself away to explore the Burren. Ballynahinch, County Galway 275 kilometres; just over three hours’ drive west of Dublin Ballynahinch is a snug and refined castle hotel set on the Salmon River below the Twelve Bens mountain range in what is a gorgeous slice of Ireland, Connemara. A castle has been standing on the grounds here since 1546, when the husband of Grace O’Malley, Ireland’s Pirate Queen, built a defence-orientated abode.   But the turreted roof on today’s building is all for show; it was largely built in 1756 and then renovated in 1813 by ‘Humanity Dick’, AKA Richard Martin who was famous for duelling and introducing the first animal protection bill into the Irish parliament. In 1923 the estate was bought by Maharaja and cricket legend Ranjitsinhji, better known as ‘Ranji, the Prince of Cricketers’, a fishing enthusiast who would arrive each summer with five cars and then gift them to locals when he left in October.   Today Ballynahinch is everything you imagine a castle hotel should be. Our elegant cream-carpeted suite with cinnamon and grey tartan throws against salmon and white striped wallpaper has large windows that deliver exquisite views of the lawn, forest and river beyond.   The rustic Fisherman’s Pub and Ranji Room are the heart of Ballynahinch, where guests mingle on wooden tables and benches, sip Guinness and enjoy hearty Irish fare; the seafood chowder is comfort food at its best. The fine-dining option, the Owenmore, takes full advantage of the vista, with its terraces overlooking the river making it the place to be come summer.   Of course, Ballynahinch’s reputation is based on its fishing. Angling addicts flock here, but beginners like me can get their first taste of the regal art of fly-fishing under the learned tutelage of experienced guides; with the assistance of my guide Sean, I actually land a small trout. Castle Durrow, County Laois 108 kilometres; a 1.5-hour drive south-west of Dublin At the heart of Castle Durrow is a warm and unaffected Irish welcome that draws thousands from across the world. Husband and wife owners Peter and Shelly Stokes rescued the building in the 1990s, and after a three-year restoration of love, care and determination, opened it in 2002 as an approachable country escape.   Shelly’s unique aesthetic could best be described as quirky. In the bar it’s the battle of the taxidermy; animal skins compete with gleaming silver deer heads on the walls, while the bar itself is pure Art Deco, with stacked crystal lamps reminiscent of New York’s Chrysler Building. The green tea-coloured Chinese wallpaper in the waiting room, which is stuffed with lounges, contrasts brilliantly with everything else. It is all so unpretentious and whimsical.   Our room, Lady Hannah, named after one of Peter and Shelly’s daughters, comes complete with a four-poster bed and stylish en suite filled with Molton Brown’s finest.   The grounds cater to the lucrative weddings market; the walled garden, grotto and lawn are designed with wedding albums in mind. And on Sundays locals pile in for ‘the best Sunday lunch in the county’ in the bar, with the convivial atmosphere making guests feel a part of village life.   Of all the castle stays, Castle Durrow is one of my favourites for its unaffected welcome. It’s like going home for the weekend, just to a really, really big house.
Where to eat, sleep, drink and play in Phoenix, Arizona
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Candelaria, Paris.
5 secret bars in Paris and how to find them
In theory, going out for a cocktail in Paris should be a thrill in itself, discovers Ruby Boukabou. Yet sometimes it can be disappointing – rude service, a crowded bar but with no actual mingling and an un-inventive cocktail list.   However, thankfully, things are changing on the cocktail scene in the French capital, and it’s not just the service. Secret cocktail bars have sprung up through central Paris where you arrive through restaurant kitchen doors, pizza fridges and even via a washing machine in a laundromat.   Not only do these establishments promise exciting entrances, but also thoughtful, themed decor, delicious cocktails and friendly (!) French mixologists. Welcome to the other side.   (NB: Most open at 6pm so if you want to be sure to grab a good seat and have time to chat leisurely to the bar staff, arrive early; if you prefer to arrive when there’s plenty of action, it’s after 10pm. Most close at 2am, some later on weekends.) Moonshiner [caption id="attachment_44355" align="alignnone" width="600"] Moonshiner cocktail. Image via Pierre Lucet Penato[/caption]   How to get there Push through the walk-in fridge inside Da Vito pizzeria in Bastille, 5 rue Sedaine, 75011 (right near metro Bréguet-Sabin, or a five-minute walk from metro Bastille). Vibe Very dimly lit prohibition speakeasy style with couches, an old record player and 1920s-style decor. A cool crowd, quite a few groups of friends, busy and fun. Signature drink Go for a classic Old Fashioned. Candelaria [caption id="attachment_44354" align="alignnone" width="1024"] Outside Candelaria. Image via Fabien Voileau.[/caption]   How to get there   Through an unmarked door at the back of the tiny, popular taqueria in the Marais at 52 rue de Saintonge, 75003 (metro Filles du Calvaire). Vibe   Candlelit, shabby-chic, small, cosy and low key with relaxed staff and a DJ. Date friendly. Signature drink   ‘La Guêpe Verte’ – The Green Wasp! Tequila Altos Blanco with chilli mixed with cucumber, coriander, agave and lime. Bar a Naan [caption id="attachment_44356" align="alignnone" width="600"] Baranaan, Paris.[/caption]   How to get there   Push through the door with the tiger artwork down the hallway inside the Indian canteen-style restaurant Elaichi, situated near the Porte Saint-Martin at 7 rue du Faubourg Saint-Martin, 75010 (metro Strasbourg- Saint-Denis). Vibe   Imagine the swinging dining carriage of a train travelling through India (video footage of the view from the window is screened on the walls and there’s dining car-like booths). It’s festive and friendly with delicious, inventive cocktails, a naan oven by the bar and flamboyant, bindi-wearing staff. Signature drink   Try the Casa del Kali (Kali is an Indian divinity and the cocktail lives up to its name). It combines Tequila, Mezcal, Campari, lime juice and more surprises. Made with love. Lavomatic [caption id="attachment_44357" align="alignnone" width="600"] Signage outside Lavomatic, Paris.[/caption]   How to get there   Climb through a washing machine (!) at the Laundromat at 30 rue René Boulanger, 75010 near metro Republic (don’t worry, you’ll know which one and won’t get tangled up in someone’s wet washing as the bar is now quite popular and there’s security controlling numbers –  so get there early, or be patient). Vibe [caption id="attachment_44358" align="alignnone" width="600"] Inside Lavomatic, Paris.[/caption]   Colourful, appropriately sparkly clean and rather like being in someone’s trendy apartment (low tables, benches, stools, books to browse and swings to kick back in). You’ll find a young, hip French and international crowd. Signature drink [caption id="attachment_44359" align="alignnone" width="600"] A fruity cocktail inside Lavomatic, Paris.[/caption]   Many to try, but the Basil Instinct is pretty delicious and refreshing with cucumber, elderflower, lemon and gin. La Mezcaleria  + Malicia [caption id="attachment_44360" align="alignnone" width="600"] Inside Mezcaleria, Paris.[/caption]   How to get there   Through the kitchen behind the hotel bar at the Inka (1K) hotel at 13 Boulevard du Temple, 75003 (metro Filles du Calvaire or Oberkampf but also a short walk from Republic). Vibe   You’re instantly transported into a cool, laid-back bar in Oaxaca in Mexico, known for mezcal. If you’re a little claustrophobic this is the one for you – with high ceilings and space to move (and you may want to after a mezcal or two as its playlist is pretty groovy). Signature drink   The Rangolada cheekily combines mezcal and rum, but before diving in, check with the expert mixologists behind the bar who can talk you through the various options to match your taste including frozen slurpy-style mezcal creations.   NB: If you see the famous Ben Tyler (slim with tats and often darting around somewhere in the background), tell him Ruby sent you and if it’s possible, he may sneak you into Malicia – another secret bar – behind this secret bar. Très mind bending! Le Ballroom du Beefclub How to get there   Head through the fire escape-looking door next to the Beef Club restaurant (in central Paris near metro Chatalet/Les Halles) and wind down the fairly light-lit concrete stairs to arrive at this very cool bar run by the reputed Experimental Group. Vibe   Prohibition speakeasy feel with dark colours and dim lighting through three intimate rooms, the bar staff clad in waistcoats and a DJ playing on weekends. Perch at the bar or get cosy on a couch.  A good place to discuss life, love and the universe. Snacks are available. Signature drink   The Lillibiscus – made with Mezan Guyana 2002 rum, homemade hibiscus syrup and ginger ale.        

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