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Four seasons please – with a side of sunshine

The weather has gone mad. Here in the UK it has at least. Last week we had the hottest September day on record at 34 degrees Celsius. This week, not so much. It’s grey, drizzle has taken over the sky, and it’s a little chilly. Thank goodness for that.

Call me old-fashioned but I prefer seasons to stick to their, erm, seasons. Snow in summer, leaves falling off the trees in Spring, scorching sunshine in Autumn… no no no. Stick to the programme please Mr Weather. As we speak I can see a tree giving serious thought to shedding its leaves. This means that shortly I will be able to kick and dance through piles of leaves and feel very autumnal indeed. Order will be restored. Autumn is when television gets better, when great films get released in the cinema, when we all see how long we can wait before turning the central heating back on, and when Sunday roasts in cosy pubs are firmly back on the agenda.

For a couple of weeks this is all well and good and I love it. But around late September as I see winter approaching, months and months of cold weather filling the horizon, I zoom out a bit during weather reports to see a little more of the globe. The UK is going to be cold and wet – that’s a given. But zoom out and take the whole of the planet in and suddenly there are little suns to be seen all over the place. On particularly cold and windy days, usually just after my umbrella has turned itself inside out and I’m drenched, I click on those suns and zoom back in again to see where they are. And then I get on a plane and go at several hundred miles an hour. I fly in search of vitamin D to fill myself up big time so that I’m ready to take on the cold dark winter.

Of course in late September/early October there are plenty of nearby places that still have great weather. Morocco, Greece, Spain, Turkey… head south a bit and you’ll find that warm glow. But as time goes by, Europe and then North Africa slowly cool and then for me there are two top choices for true winter sun – The Caribbean and The Indian Ocean. Both have pretty amazing weather all year round so are vitamin D topping paradises. They also both have a whole load of beautiful little boutique luxury hotels to stay in. Yippee. It’s impossible to pick a favourite – I’ve tried and I can’t I’m afraid –  but if you click here you’ll find some heavenly Indian Ocean hotels and here you’ll see the best of the charismatic Caribbean places to stay.

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Serene Pavilions, Sri Lanka

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The Sandpiper, Barbados

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French Coco, Martinique

You may not be in the mood yet, like me you might be loving the red leaves, conkers, and winter coats. But trust me. In a week or two you’ll be back!

See you next week.

Melissa. x

Beach, pool, spa… St Barths

I was reading about a new hotel today and suddenly found myself sinking into my chair in a very relaxed and happy state.

This is odd, I thought. Why am I feeling so very chilled all of a sudden?

I looked back at the screen and suddenly it was clear. Three words: beach, pool, spa.

Beach – oh yes please. Pool – mmmm heaven. Spa – now you’re really spoiling me. While I’m all for some holidays that involve lots of sightseeing, adventure, and discovery, I am just as all for holidays during which these three magic words cover my entire itinerary. The hotel I was reading about was Le Barthelemy Hotel in the oh so glorious St Barths in the Caribbean and it looks like one of the best places ever to do almost nothing.

Just listen to a bit of what I was reading about the place and you’ll starting doing whatever I’ve been doing in my chair. The travel equivalent of salivating essentially!

“Exclusive spa and oceanfront infinity pool.”
“Suites feature private gardens, terraces and pools.”

How are you feeling? Yes I thought so. We all want to go now don’t we.

To make things even better this place is set beside a lagoon. Oh how I love lagoons. As you’ll see from the photos the hotel has decided to try to capture the mood of the island it sits upon in the décor with light and airy interiors. Which is another clever move as nobody likes staying in a room or drinking in a bar or eating in a restaurant that could be anywhere in the world. We want to feel like we’re somewhere, not anywhere.

My reading led me to discover that the recommended ways to spend ones time here include having a swim, drinking a cocktail at Le Turquoise beach bar, popping to the spa, or getting your hair styled. After all this strenuous activity reward yourself with some French food at Aux Amis restaurant. I think these all sound like wonderful ideas.

Of course you might head to Le Barthelemy and decide not to be quite as lazy as me. St Barths is a great island if you’re the type to look further than your eye line for things to do. Gustavia is rammed with chic art galleries, shops and bars. There are yachts galore if you fancy touring the island, fishing boats if that’s your bag, and an incredible coral reef circles the island if you like swimming while breathing through a tube.

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Sounds glorious doesn’t it? I’m going to have to go to bed now and no doubt dream about my toes in that Caribbean sand. If you decide to go to this hotel let me know, I’d love to hear if it’s as amazing as it sounds!

See you next week.

Melissa. x

Once upon a time…

I’m a sucker for a good story. As a teenager when I was trying to fill my head with a million facts in preparation for an exam there were some bits of information that stuck and some that refused to take hold. The one’s I remembered when sat in those big halls writing against the clock were those told to me by teachers who taught with stories. History, for example, is not enjoyable if simplified down to a list of dates and occurrences. My teacher painted a picture for us, told us how the protagonists might have felt, what motivated them, the social and cultural backdrops and so on. It felt like we were there and as such I can still, to this day, tell you tales from the American Civil War. I’d imagine you probably don’t want to hear them though so I shan’t share.

However, this concept of a story is one that has always fascinated me. The best bits of my life to date, and no doubt the best bits to come, are stories that will stay with me forever. And many of those occurred while travelling to incredible places.

The Small Luxury Hotels Be a Storyteller month resonated with me for that reason. They are quite right to focus on storytelling and yet when most people talk about travel they don’t tend to talk in terms of stories. They’ll tell you how big the spa is, how many rooms there are, distance to the airport, what facilities are available. But that stuff, while important, isn’t at the heart of a holiday. At the heart is spending the night in a luxury tree hut overlooking the Thai jungle. At the heart is discovering the wildlife of Kenya while staying in a luxury tent. At the heart is the things we do, the tears we cry, the laughs we have, the awe that is inspired, and the moments that turn a flight and a hotel stay into something else. The power of the best hotels is that they put you in the perfect place to make a story happen.

SLH is spending this month recognising the power of a story and demonstrating how it, with the help of the people that work at 520 independent member hotels across the globe, can help you write them.

Here are some suggestions of places where your next story could come to life from club members who have already written theirs…

ROME
Terry says: “Don’t just stay in Rome – take a train or drive to Frascati in the hills! Find Piazza San Marco and eat the most wonderful Italian food. It’s simply stunning!”

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LONDON
Olav says: “You must go to Fish Works Restaurant on Swallow Street, which is just off Regent Street. It specialises in super fresh and delicious seafood and offers a fine wine list!”
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PARIS
Tiffany says: “On a warm Friday evening, take a walk below the Pont Neuf where you’ll find all the young Parisians gathered around outdoor picnic tables next to bars, and restaurants. It’s a great place to simply soak in the scene!”

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NEW YORK
Katie says: “Definitely stop by Kashkaval Garden on 9th between 55th and 56th for the most amazing atmosphere and fondue!”

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SLH would love to hear more of your stories so please do share them! I’m off to have a story-free evening doing some laundry and watching a bit of television. Roll on my next holiday!

See you next week.

Melissa. x

I love badges – especially Michelin ones!

How do you all feel about badges? I’ve always been a fan. Ever since my first swim badge was sewn onto my swimsuit aged five, I’ve been addicted. Walking out into the pool area that day I felt 10 feet tall and everyone around me knew that I, Melissa, had conquered the 20 metre backstroke. They were envious and impressed, I could tell. I became addicted and quickly that swimsuit looked like a patchwork quilt of success. I think my obsession with badges and accolades comes from those early successful swimming days. I like to get them and I also look for them all over the place. Clearly I like seeing the SLH badge outside of hotels because it lets me know I’m in for a trustworthy holiday treat. Another favourite is the Michelin star. Even writing the word Michelin make me salivate more than is acceptable in public. Right now if you could see me you’d not be impressed. That little badge gets me very, very excited, perhaps too excited. So today I’m going to talk about how you can combine these two favourite badges of mine. An SLH badge on the front door, and a Michelin star outside the restaurant. Win win. Here are just a handful of places to stay for those of you who want to eat food that’s officially delicious!

Grand Hotel Villa Castagnola, Lugano, Switzerland
f you’re in Lugano and you want Michelin star food, I’m afraid this is the only place to go. Gallery Arte Al Lago is one of three restaurants at the hotel and the head chef specialises in lake fish and sea food. The restaurant is literally on the lake so one can assume the fish is fresh! And if the art on your plate isn’t enough you can also enjoy art on the walls between courses here.

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Les Sources de Caudalie, Bordeaux, France
Some of you might not be impressed by one Michelin star. But how about two? La Grand’Vigne restaurant and its chef Nicolas Masse are in the two club thanks to seasonal produce from the hotel garden, local farmers and the Atlantic. Expect lovely treats such as Aquitaine caviar, lobster and wild turbot. Yum. The frills here include the fact you are sat in a Bordeaux vineyard (so you can expect delicious wine with the meal) and the option of popping into the spa for some vinotherapy while digesting.

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Palé Hall, Wales, UK

This place has literally opened today but we already know the food is going to be special. The rather well-known chef Michael Caine, who has won two stars elsewhere, is spearheading the restaurant at this north Wales hotel. Expect glorious surroundings and a stunning Grade II listed building that has been refurbished beyond former glories to become one of the country’s finest country houses.

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Hotel L’hôtel, Paris, France

Even for the non-French speakers among you, it shouldn’t be hard to work out what Le Restaurant is. But you might be surprised by what this Michelin-star spot looks like. Romantic doesn’t quite cover it. Think a beautiful fountain, cobbled terrace and a living wall… it’s the perfect spot to try head chef Julien Montbabut’s food. He uses classic techniques to create modern and fresh French food.

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St James’s Hotel and Club, London, UK

After just one year this hotels restaurant, Seven Park Place, won a Michelin star. All thanks to chef William Drabble who makes French dishes with British ingredients such as poached native lobster tail. With only 26 covers this is one of the smallest Michelin-star restaurants in London.

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Althoff Villa Belrose, St Tropez, France
I realise this is a food related post but Le Belrose restaurant has more than 500 French wines on offer. 500! This makes it one of the largest collections in the region so thank goodness head sommelier Arthur Chabidon is there to keep an eye on them all. So the wine is French, the views across St Tropez are very French, but the chef, Pietro Volonte, is Italian and as such serves inventive Mediterranean food.

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I’m salivating so much now I could really do with a bib! So I’d better go eat something delicious… St James’ Hotel is just around the corner so I’m off to beg for one of those 26 spots!

See you next week

Melissa. x

Bank Holiday Heaven

As usual, I have to talk to you from the perspective of a Londoner. It’s difficult not to, really, as that is what I am. I’m hoping that you’ll agree with me on what I’m going to talk about this week.

The topic is bank holidays. I don’t actually even know which countries have these and which don’t, and I can’t be sure why they are called bank holidays. I’m tempted to Google it but I worry that I’ve asked the search engine too many stupid questions now and soon I’ll be on a list somewhere at the Google headquarters that all the staff stand around and laugh at.

So, here’s how it works. Everyone in England gets Monday off next week, creating a three-day weekend. It’s just one extra day, no big deal. Except it is a big deal! It’s almost more exciting than a week long holiday. Because everyone is off work, especially office workers. Sunday night will come and it will go and then it will be Monday and we’ll all still be chilling out somewhere having a great time. Not until Tuesday will we drag ourselves back into the office and the distance between Friday night and Tuesday morning is so vast most of us will be convinced that the day will never actually come. And if it does come, no biggie, four days of work and we’ll be back in the weekend again!

By Monday the excitement was building and now it’s at fever levels. Although it’s amazing how many people have been so excited they entirely forgot to organise something to do! If you are one of those people, fear not. There is still plenty of time to set off on an adventure with nothing but a holdall by your side and a smile on your face.

Three days is not long enough to journey too far from home so I would recommend somewhere within driving distance or a short flight. My personal method, although I do understand that not all of you will still have your maths pencil case from two decades ago, is to get out a paper map and a compass (the kind that draws circles, not the kind that tells you where north is). Place the pin end in your house and then draw a circle. Quite a small one since it’s a three day trip and then see what’s inside. As a Londoner, it’s amazing how close some places you think should be far away are. Belgium, for example, can be reached within an hour after stepping off the ferry in Calais. You could finish work and be in Amsterdam or Paris in time for a light snack and bed. Or England itself has some gorgeous countryside to explore that’s no more than a motorway and a couple of A roads away.

If you do have Monday off and haven’t sorted something out it’s now time to get the map out and have a look. I can almost guarantee there will be a beautiful little hotel within reach of you wherever you are – that’s the beauty of SLH being made up of more than 520 luxury hotels in over 80 countries.

If you’ve already chosen somewhere to go or are now making a plan I’d love to hear what you’re up to!

See you next week

Melissa. x

Could summer holidays be the greatest of them all?

I don’t have children yet so you might think that school summer holidays mean very little in my life. But there’s something about July and August that puts everyone in the travel mind set. Those endless long weeks as a youngster when the next school year seemed a thousand years away provide lifelong nostalgic smiles. The memories made at those times are the ones that really stick with you – they have certainly stuck with me.

So for me a summer holiday is an absolute must and I love to surround myself in the joyous (and youthful!) energy of my nephews and nieces. No matter how excited I get about something, I simply don’t have the same capacity for wonder and amazement as an eight year old. So to watch them try snorkelling or sailing for the first time, tasting new foods, making new friends, and so on, is as joyous to behold as a puppy at Christmas time.

I’m told by those in-the-know that when it comes to family holidays with children the most important thing is that the little ones enjoy themselves. If they are bored, you’re in trouble! If they’re not then adult fun flows like wine (and the wine flows too!) So the advice is to head to a hotel that understands children in a location that is likely to entertain them. Personally, all I needed was a beach, a mask and a snorkel, but I suppose I wouldn’t have complained if there were a tennis court or a beautiful pool. I’m sure my parents would have loved an all-inclusive hotel so that I could order (and fail to finish) endless drinks and ice-creams. We also went on a safari once which has to be one of the most extraordinary experiences a child can have. The first time anyone sees a giraffe or a lion in the wild is life-changing. For me, as a seven year old, it provided a level of excitement that rendered me speechless with tears of joy pouring down my cheeks.  I also don’t think parents need fear a cultural holiday just because they have the little ones with them. My nephews and nieces seem to find exploring a city and stopping in café-lined squares to watch the world go by just as much fun as I do. Granted the sorbet bill tends to be substantial but I’ve been surprised by their interest in everything from history to architecture to local customs. I was certainly guilty of underestimating them!

This summer we’ve decided, after much discussion, to head for the beach for a family holiday. It was hard to choose one hotel as there are so many great family ones so we put our shortlist into a hat and pulled out the winner. Which is… drumroll please…

Cape Sounio Exclusive Resort in Sounio, Greece. We’re all very pleased with fate’s decision. I love that it has view of the Temple of Poseidon. My sister likes that there are villas with private pools at the hotel. Henry is already investigating the yacht that’s available to hire and the children have spotted that there are not one but two beaches.

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A spa, a good choice of restaurants, a national park, golf courses nearby… this is family fun fabulous. Of course there are loads of others to choose from so have a look here for ideas.

Where are you headed on your summer holiday? I’d love to know!

Melissa. x

Be Generous AND Win a Holiday

My hips have had a very difficult week. My stomach and taste buds on the other hand have had the best time ever. At work this week everyone has been baking cakes as if cake prohibition is about to kick in shortly. Ordinarily when a cake arrives in the office I’m pretty well behaved, but this week the cake supply has been constant. With almost everyone in the office churning delicious things out day after day there’s been an unavoidable excess lying around at all times. Difficult. Even more difficult because these cakes are the most dangerous of all the baked temptations on the planet – charity cakes. ‘Eat me and help the world,’ say the cakes. ‘Ok in that case I will eat you,’ says me. And yet I feel super duper. The bake sale raised a lot of money, we’ve had lots of delicious things free of the usual guilt – win win! Working with charities in a fun fashion is undeniably marvellous. Being generous with time and money is marvellous. And while we are on the topic of marvellous things… giving away a free holiday is very very marvellous indeed. Feel like winning one? Good, in that case you have come to the right place. To celebrate its Be Generous month, Small Luxury Hotels of the World is giving away four 2-night stays at any of its hotels. Very kind indeed, but then generosity is not out of character for this lot. You’ll never hear them make a fuss about it but generosity has been at the heart of the brand since inception with more than £3 million raised and shared between 150 charities since 2013. Impressive numbers – I’m hoping for the sake of the staff that that wasn’t all cake related fundraising. If you want to win one of the stays and you’re a member simply click here and get started. If you’re not a member don’t worry, signing up is easy peasy here.

And if you’re feeling generous with your time and want to get into the Be Generous spirit I’d love a couple more minutes of your time please… have a quick read about some of the great charities SLH works with.

PRINCE’S TRUST
The Prince’s Trust assists young people into jobs, education and training, providing much-needed support to help those struggling get to where they want to be.

NSPCC
The NSPCC works tirelessly to prevent child abuse, helping to create a world where all children are safe.

CANCER RESEARCH UK
Cancer Research UK funds scientists, doctors and nurses to help beat cancer sooner, as well as providing the general public with much-needed information on different types of cancer.

GREAT ORMOND STREET HOSPITAL CHARITY

Great Ormond Street Hospital charity focuses on raising money to enable the hospital to continue to provide the very best care for its young patients and their families.

See you next week.

Melissa. x

Something New

New things are brilliant aren’t they? New shoes, new clothes, new bars, new phones… you get the idea. Yes old things are great too but there is something about a nicely packaged bit of new that gets us all very very excited.

The top of the new thing pile though is, without a doubt, a new hotel. I was lucky enough to be the first guest ever in a hotel once and it made me feel like something of an explorer/VIP. That’s a little hard to replicate but I keep my ears open to find out which new openings are on the horizon in the hope that I can be one of the first to sit at the bar, swim in the pool, relax in the spa, or sleep in the beds.

I thought I should probably share what I’ve found out occasionally so after much perusing here are three of my current top picks on the new hotels front to have a look at.

French Coco: Tartane, Martinique

This place is the epitome of a boutique hotel. First thing to mention is that every one of the 17 rooms is a suite. Delightful, everyone loves a suite! It’s literally just opened which means if you’re very quick you could be the first person to stay in one of these rooms that are decorated in raw and natural materials to make them feel like outside is inside with you. Without the insects though.
Because it’s in Martinique you get that delightful Creole experience that shines through particularly in the French-style Caribbean-inspired food, most of which comes from the hotel’s garden. The hotel couldn’t be in a better spot in the grounds of the Caravelle Peninsula nature reserve on the north east coast of the island. This place makes most other unspoiled places seems rather spoiled. It is pristinely beautiful and famed for tropical flora and fauna.

The top tip whispered to me by someone in the know is to opt for Suite Creole or Suite Caraibes if you fancy having your own private pool and seating area. Yes, yes I do fancy that!

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The President by Akaryn: Vientiane, Laos

This beautiful town of Vientiane is about to get a new hotel. It’s a manicured mish mash of Laotian design and French neoclassical influences brought together in the very best position available. On one side there’s Parliament House, the other the presidential palace. And in front is a favourite morning Thai Chi spot for locals; the Chou Anouvong Park. Nice big rooms and suites with high ceilings, marble floors and giant windows sound good to you? And there’s the Ayurah Wellness Spa with Linda Meredith products and therapies combining east and west very pleasantly indeed.
Best of all, if you’re a child at heart like I am, is that there’s a maze in the garden inspired by English country houses! Good place to work up an appetite and if you manage to get out there will be four great places to eat to choose from once it opens in November.

The whisper I heard on this one was to walk five minutes along the Mekong to The Spirit House. A bar and restaurant in a traditional wooden house with fab sunsets and quirky cocktails.

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Hotel Único: Madrid, Spain

Not actually a brand new hotel, but new to the SLH collection is Hotel Único Madrid. My idea of a good hotel in a city is one that is as close to the action as possible but sleepy and serene once you’re inside. Well, all I can say about Hotel Unico is “bingo!” This converted 19th century palace in the lively Salamanca area makes sightseeing simple in stroll terms. And yet inside you feel as secluded as an Atlantic-crossing canoeist. A private courtyard garden is surrounded by 44 soundproofed rooms and suites. Marble mosaics, an ornate staircase and high ceilings combined with Art Deco flourishes and a two-Michelin star restaurant create an unshakeable ‘how clever and important am I’ vibe. Eating will only make it worse as it’s impossible not to feel pleased with oneself when brunch includes glazed lamb shank or a tuna carpaccio with wakame salad. With macarons and Cava to finish. A spa, filled with wellness treatments by skincare brand Natura Bisse, completes the si si scene.

The don’t-tell-too-many-people tip here is the Mercado De la Paz for some delicious Spanish produce, and a drink and tapas in one of the rustic bars.

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I hope you like the sound of those three. And of course if you have any new hotels to share with me I’d love to hear about them!

Melissa. x

Newsflash! Brit Complains About the Weather

I don’t think you’re going to like this. I am, I’m afraid, going to spend a little time whinging about the weather.

You’re probably thinking what’s new Melissa? You’re British; this is what you guys do! But for once I am not complaining about incessant rain, cold winds, and murky skies. My complaint this time is, erm, it’s too hot.

I’m not the only one grumbling. Commuting in London this week has been like packing into a smelly sauna with 30 grumpy strangers. And unlike good saunas you’re not allowed to be naked.

What’s more, our wonderful rail services (weather is our number one topic of conversation but trains are a close number two) are heavily disrupted and slow because it’s apparently too hot for them. This is a true story, the driver announced this on my train yesterday! I think we have the most sensitive trains on the planet. Snow, water, leaves, and now even sunshine leaves them weeping in the corner asking not to have to go to work today.

So our commuter saunas crawl along the tracks, taking us home (eventually!) to roasting tin apartments that are entirely free of air conditioning. Nobody has air conditioning here because on the whole a machine that creates cold air is as welcome in UK homes as a burglar.

Yes we all spend our lives dreaming about hot weather but there are very important conditions attached. During hot weather we must not be working, must not have to wear more than a bikini and perhaps a light dress, and there must be a large body of water nearby to jump into. The Thames doesn’t count by the way. The sea, or a swimming pool, or both. Even a little plunge pool would suffice – I am not a demanding woman.

I, for one, do not intend to swelter in the city so it’s time to find a last minute luxurious bargain. As luck would have it Small Luxury Hotels of the World has a summer sale on for bookings in August, September and October. Yippee! 30% off on lots of hotels set up for sensible sunshine.

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The deals only last two weeks though so if you’ll excuse me I have some research to do and a plane to book. Next time we chat I intend to be typing while I paddle my feet in the sea. Yes it’s a dangerous game to have a laptop so close to water but the thought of dipping these swollen sweaty feet into a cool ocean is so exciting I’ve decided it’s a risk worth taking!

See you next week

Melissa. x

Pousada perfection in Portugal

Whoever I talk to at the moment seems to be talking about visiting somewhere ‘real’. They want to go on holiday and find an authentic experience that plugs them into the local way of life, the heartbeat of the destination, the history and present of a particular place. Good. Very good. It makes me happy to hear so many people talking this way. I’ve never really understood travelling somewhere and then staying in a hotel that effectively shuts out the locale in case those visiting find the destination a little lacking in the five star department. If people like that fake environment created to ensure as little local flavour as possible I’d suggest just heading to the nearest possible place that offers it rather than jetting across the world. But if you want to feel part of a place, eat the food, meet the people, bathe in the culture, revel in its history then I recommend the whole world as a good place to go. This stuff is everywhere! Not very helpful advice, that, is it?

I shall narrow things down for you in an attempt to be a bit more useful. To one place and one type of accommodation. Try out the Pousadas of Portugal. Portugal sometimes gets forgotten in Europe, living in the shadow of the more fashionable spots in France and Italy. But for those of you willing to set aside reputation and study the facts you’ll see that this little country is packing some serious cultural punch. The Pousadas are the perfect place to stay because becoming one is a hallmark of greatness. These historical sites are all stunning. What’s more they have been stunning for centuries as they were all very beautiful long before anyone thought to turn them into hotels. Or indeed to invent hotels. The whole concept is designed to give tourists the chance to stay in incredibly luxurious historical sites that make you feel, literally, like a king. A king with a castle and lots of lovely people being nice to you. It’s impossible not to feel connected to these buildings as you stroll around them, medieval treasures everywhere you look. Somehow someone has managed to insert hotels into them without spoiling any of the character and, even more impressively, ensuring these small, spectacular spots are luxuriously comfortable. Far more comfortable than when they were built I’m sure!

Here are five of the best for you to consider. I should put a warning sign on the photos though. You’re going to be weeping with longing to get out to one of these immediately!

POUSADA DE GUIMARÃES

This place started off as home to Augustinian monks. And then Portuguese royalty moved in. I assume they decided it was too nice for the monks. Well now the royalty have gone which is wonderful news as now it’s your turn to enjoy the stone cloisters, courtyards, and restaurant under the arches of the old cellars.

Pousada de Guimaraes

POUSADA DE LISBOA

If walls could talk this place would have some fascinating tales to tell. It has stood on the corner of Terreiro do Paco (Palace Square) for centuries retaining its historical beauty while the world around has modernised. Expect chandeliers, vaulted ceiling, a domed inner courtyard… oh and a spa. Some new things are good.

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POUSADA MOSTEIRO DE AMARES

More monks lived here – this time Cistercian monks in the 12th century. Monks have great taste it turns out. And they like a chilled, calm atmosphere. The gardens here are perfectly peaceful with sculptures and tiles you’ll want to stare at for hours. Surrounded by mountains this countryside escape is a must stay for those keen to explore rural villages, waterfalls, and medieval churches.

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POUSADA MOSTEIRO DO CRATO

Sorry about this, but yes I have to use the word monastery again. But I can also use the words medieval castle and manor house. What a collection! This gothic landmark renovated by a Portuguese architect was the headquarters of some Knights. Which is about as cool as headquarters can be. Think contemporary furnishings contrasting against ancient walls. Delightful.

Pousada mosterio do crato

POUSADA PALÁCIO DE ESTOI

A relative baby this 18th Century palace with its Turkish baths and gardens inspired by the palace of Versailles. The pool looks worthy of a spot in the ‘best bits of water ever’ list such is the grandeur of the setting. If Pride and Prejudice had been written by a Portuguese person this is where Darcy would have lived.

Pousada palacio de estoi

I hope you like the look of these as much as I do! Let me know what you think below.

See you next week.

Melissa. x

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