Travel

Stonehenge 1989

Stonehenge

The year was 1989. George H. W. Bush had been elected President with 53.4 percent of the popular vote. The Exxon Valdez was spilling 11 million gallons of crude oil into the Prince William Sound. And I was in the back of my mother’s Mini Cooper, none the wiser to any of it. We had been bundled into the old Mini at horrendous o’clock in the morning by my dear mother, who was resolute in her intentions to make it into the stone circle before sunrise. But, even as a precocious six-year-old, I knew nothing of the politics and social battles that had raged for the past decade. Stonehenge has…

Into the blue

Five percent. Only five percent of the ocean has been topographically imaged. This means that 65% of our planet, where you and I live, is unknown. We’ve mapped Mercury and have an incredibly detailed “Idiot’s Guide to the Moon”, complete with ramblers maps which show you how to trek around the international claims of the US and Soviet governments. But comparatively, we know very little of the abyssal plains and continental shelves.

The Academy Hotel, Bloomsbury

It’s easy to miss The Academy. Standing elegant yet inconspicuous on Gower Street, Bloomsbury, the only thing hinting that you’ve arrived at a hotel is a sign for The Alchemy Bar outside. Comprised of five Georgian townhouses, The Academy’s semi-recent redesign was overseen by Alexandra Champalimaud, whose clients also include The Dorchester and The Carlyle. Characteristically, then, while there’s still a nostalgic sense of l’originale, the design, themes and palette here are quintessentially modern and boutiquey. I hate to tarnish or expose anyone for having a ‘concept’, but The Academy’s evocation of its literary locale is both befitting and tasteful, with novels by the Bloomsbury Group—Woolf, Forster, Keynes—adorning pockets of…

The Marylebone hotel

It was forty-five minutes past the witching hour and all was tranquil. The torrential rain that had marred our otherwise scenic drive had gladly ceased leaving Marylebone Lane awash with the glow from the ornate street lamps. Spirits were high, bolstered by the recent nuptials at the Powell Burke wedding in North London that very evening. By this point in the proceedings, I had imbibed enough to play Summertime by Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong in some sort of homage to My Fair Lady. Which incidentally was actually shot on neighbouring Wimpole Street. I abhor anyone playing music on their mobile phone in public. Unless it’s the First Lady of…

West Barn Lodge

I should start with full disclosure. I was born and bred in Wiltshire. With its rolling chalk download and grazing farmland, it really was an incredibly wonderful and rural place to grow up. I remember hot summers at the Marlborough Jazz Festival and trudging through Savernake Forest, winter walks around Avebury and Stonehenge, and weekends spent at Bowood House and atop Silbury Hill. So deep are the county’s agricultural roots that our houses at school were named Stonehenge, Whitehorse, Ridgeway and Sarum. So, when I decided to spend a long weekend at West Barn Lodge, near Favant, it felt more like a homecoming. We booked our stay with Premier Cottages….

Shizuoka

With just under three months until the start of the Rugby World Cup, excitement is building in the Japanese prefecture of Shizuoka, which will be hosting four of the matches – including Ireland v Japan (28 September) and Scotland v Russia (09 October) – at its Ecopa Stadium. Only an hour from Tokyo by bullet train, this stunning region is home to the iconic Mount Fuji, the beautiful Izu Peninsula – often described as Japan’s Riviera – and some of the best food in Japan, making it the perfect choice for rugby fans this autumn. To help visitors make the most of their time in the prefecture, here is a…

New York

New York was imprinted on my heart back in the day of my early mad ad career working on a transatlantic airline account. The regular pit-stops gave me unbelievable bragging rights, but as a quick time check, on my last visit I was privileged enough to sit above the clouds drinking cocktails at Windows on The World on top of the North Tower in Downtown Manhattan. Sadly not a vista I can ever re-visit. But as many moons have passed since that view was obliterated and New York’s landscape changed forever, I was super hyped to share this mesmerizing city with my family now in tow and hopeful that NYC…

Kasbah Tamadot

Located at the foothills of Morocco’s High Atlas Mountains, Kasbah Tamadot, Sir Richard Branson’s luxury retreat and part of the Virgin Limited Edition portfolio, is offering guests the opportunity to immerse themselves in true Berber culture with a newly launched ‘Authentically Berber Experience’. Morocco’s Berber communities are renowned for their kind and noble nature and their culture forms an incredibly important part of Morocco’s rich history. At Kasbah Tamadot, guests are already welcomed with true Berber hospitality as 98% of its staff are from the local Berber communities. Guests now staying at Kasbah Tamadot will have the opportunity to learn about the traditions and culture by immersing themselves in a…

Ten Trinity

When I dwelled in the soot-covered streets of central London, I didn’t really have much need to pay dues to a members’ club. London is hectic, in a way that makes even the most confident and athletic appear grey and lifeless over time. But that wasn’t me, babe. I was living out of a certain hotel on Brook Street circa 2007 and all was gin-soaked and well with the world. Except, quietly, it wasn’t, was it. BNP Paribas was quietly blocking withdrawals from two of its hedge funds. The Dow Jones peaked at 14,164.53 and then started to decline faster than Gordon Gekko’s prison sentence. Shortly after the US bailed its players out to the tune of $800 billion (that we know of), the European ripple was in…

Bowcliffe Hall & The Yorke Arms

As I continue to rack up the years like tree rings laced with gin and bittersweet symphonies, I am constantly reminded of the ever-increasing gap between the young and the no-so-young. This widening fissure between generations presents itself more often in the usage of phrases that my grandparents taught me when I was growing up. After all, the language we use in our formative years becomes our cultural lexicon. So, when I say to you that Jonathan Turner is ‘salt of the earth’, I expect those of you without the knowledge of the term to research it, whether you are scholarly or not. Established in 1919, in Leeds, by a…

Regnum Carya, Antalya, Turkey

500 miles away, our country is at war. You wouldn’t imagine it here though, where despite warnings of terrorist attacks, the only immediate threat is running out of champagne. Antalya’s coastline is a tinny concentration of the photo albums you thumbed through as a child. There’s a sense of nostalgia and familiarity here, one that typifies the great British holiday: that hot-but-not-too-hot, different-but-not-too-different compromise to get on a plane and test our burdening Britishness against cultures that are generally friendlier, happier, less self-loathing, and not half as pretentious. But tourism has changed a lot over the years—as has the world, for that matter—and the simpering irony of sending a luxury-travel writer to this corner of…

Stratton Vermont

will be the first to admit that we are spoilt for choice in Europe when it comes to finding tall mountains to assert dominance from. The Matterhorn, Eiger, Montblanc and Dolomites are all majestic mountain ranges conjuring up images of bearded climbers ascending to untouched peaks with leather bound crampons and supplies of Kendal mint cake.

Hotel Nikko

We arrived in San Francisco a little after 9 pm on a Tuesday. Fuelled by the debauchery of the Grammy Awards the night before, then sundowners on Venice Beach, we were ready for cocktails in the 415. As a former tech marketer during the ‘00s and growing up with the likes of ‘A View to a Kill’, I was intrigued to see what the face of tech-boom San Francisco looked like from the windows of the Nikko Hotel. We rode the monorail or AirTrain for what seemed like days, eventually finding our way to the Fox Rent a Car facility. Note: use a hire car company that drops your vehicle…

Eagle Brae

Teetering along the aptly named River Glass, the glen before us exhibits a complex palette of auburn hues; reflections of the highlands shimmer in the coal-coloured waters. Pulling into the scenic grounds of our stay, my partner – who, by the way, is ever so proudly Scottish (have you ever met a Scot who’s not?) – spots a magnificent red stag standing before us. In a fleeting moment, lengthened by the excitement of witnessing one of Scotland’s most iconic mammals, it pauses and turns, fixing its beady black eyes upon us. I can’t help but deliberate if it somehow knew what we had planned for dinner. I, of course, know…

Big Trouble In Little China

As we coast through a jigsaw of traffic, my guide points out the sights. “On the left, there’s a new office building. On the right, there’s a government office building. Up ahead, that’s one of the city’s first five-star hotels”. For a country so staunchly proud of its politics, China is overtly obsessed with the superficialities of capitalism. Only here could a bland office block be of any interest, yet there is something forgivably earnest about it. I ask the driver to put some music on, and in the spirit of no-nonsense socialism, he produces a CD simply called ‘Disco’. Welcome to China, where irony just shrivels up and dies….

Four Seasons New York

Leaving a hectic JFK airport behind, in the comfort of the Dodge Challenger Hellcat, it didn’t take long before I was treated to my first glimpse of the New York City skyline. I might sound like a sycophant but driving into a city always excites me, especially as this is my first visit to Manhattan.

This image shows the Shangri-La Suite

Shangri-La at the Shard 

The first Shangri-La I stayed at was in China, where the hotel looms on the upper floors of Beijing’s World Trade Centre complex. Not exactly subtle. The one in Paris – my favourite – is set in a Napoleonic family mansion, where you can wake up to an eyeful of the Eiffel.

The McCarren Hotel

With a lifetime of friends and family on my shoulders, all nudging me to visit New York City, I finally arrived in Manhattan in late October, by car. I only mention the mode of transport because this was my first time driving in the US, and I had only been in country for a week. Driving in New York allows for the rapid secretion of sweat from the palms. As anyone who’s seen an action movie based in New York, you expect to be the victim of an 80s’ blockbuster scenario, involving a multiple car pile-up. At any minute, I could be holding my hands out of an upside-down vehicle…