Travel

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.

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…

La Reserve

If, like me, you’re closed-minded when visiting a city, you want the quintessential, stereotypical experience that goes with it: haggling in a Marrakech souk, drinking espresso on a crisp Autumn morning in Rome, or perhaps a car bomb in Tel Aviv. So, when a trip to Paris is on the cards, I want to crank up the French-ness so far that the tables outside of the cafes shake and the mirrored walls in the bistros begin to distort. Let’s think Serge Gainsbourg, really strong fags, small glasses of red wine, black rollnecks, and cars made of corrugated tin. Need I say more. With my stay booked at La Reserve, I…

Andermatt Aerial

Andermatt

The first thing that struck me on the 90-minute journey from Zurich to Andermatt was the enduring beauty of Lake Lucerne. The temperature was twice that of England and so a quick dip in the mineral-rich lake would have been appreciated, had we not been eager to reach our alpine destination.

The Yacht Week – Montenegro

Given the form it takes today, it’s hard to envision that The Yacht Week once started out as a small collection of university friends, bound by their appetite for adventure. It wasn’t conceived as a commercial venture, but as a means of indulging their love of exploring and desire to unite like-minded individuals through the medium of sailing.

Delphina Hotels 5* Freedom – Sardinian Style

I had once again decided that this was the summer I would finally kick the habit of trying any and, more importantly, all food put before me when Peter (Ed) asked if I fancied popping over to Sardinia. My virtuous resolution at once gave way to voracious temptation and, before long, I was flying to the north of Sardinia in expectation not only of culinary delight, but to experience Sardinia’s renowned coastal beauty, the welcoming hospitality of its people and the longevity-inducing, sense of freedom that this island evokes. Delphina Hotels met these expectations and more. Sardinia, although politically a region of Italy, is ethnologically distinct. This family-owned business, consisting…

A man and his meat

After navigating icy hairpin bends, snow banks and rushing waterfalls, we found our destination concealed in a valley between Lenzerheide and Chur in the Swiss Alps. In hushed tones, we had been told there was to be found a true specialist in the artisan field, who we could not miss visiting whilst we were in the area. The exclusivity of the suggestion was reinforced by the fact we were unlikely to discover his wares outside of the immediate region due to export restrictions. On checking the ‘tip off’ with restaurant and bar staff, we were returned the knowing smiles that experience has shown often lead to culinary excellence. Our interest…

Rome Cavalieri

Rome Cavalieri, part of the prestigious Waldorf Astoria Group, is nestled in 15 acres of lush Mediterranean park, sitting on the peak of Monte Mario, known locally as the heart of Rome.

Chalet F’Net

The first chairlift in Europe was built in 1940 in Czechoslovakia, in the Moravian Silesian Beskides mountain range. Before the invention of the modern chairlift, we had the J-bar or cable car. Arguably the main mode of transport up the pistes of Europe was still rope, with mountaineering still favoured by many. With each giant leap forward in mountain technology, small alpine towns were constantly having to cater to larger and larger international footfall. This rapid clash of tradition and modernity often left centuries-old mountain villages looking more like McMountain retreats than classic Montblanc. So, it is deeply refreshing when you arrive in a ‘ski resort’ to find it hasn’t…

Route One – Shelby Mustang GT350R

I got out of my chequered yellow cab and pushed my way past the airport bus queue, headed for the hotel’s reception. After three days sampling New York’s finest destinations, I was ready to leave the Big Apple, get behind the wheel and onto the road. The journey had seemed endless out to JFK airport, as I knew waiting for me was a car not officially available in the UK. I had already christened it out of homage to its predecessor, the feature car in the film ‘Gone in Sixty Seconds’, Eleanor. Having collected the keys from the front desk, I returned to the parking lot, but was unable to…

School’s out! | Great John Street

I was last in Manchester for the opening of what was literally a high-level drinking venue – and that was some time ago now. The sounds of the Hacienda that inspired a generation at the hand of Tony Wilson are long since gone too. Groove remains in the heart, but the club that once ‘was’ is now apartments. There has been much construction and sights that remain familiar still exist, but the ‘Madchester’ scene is still alive, vibrant and going from strength to strength. Watch this space, as where The Review goes, others will follow. Having passed Mr Wilson’s old temple of sound. I turn down more modest back streets,…

Le Touessrok Resort and Spa

There is a voice that doesn’t speak words. Listen. And the more your go within the less you go without. Le Touessrok is a name that you simply whisper; a name that needs no major introduction or fanfare. For those in the know, Le Touessrok has been standing aloof, in a class of its own. Over a quarter of a century ago (yes I am that old), I was fortunate enough to stay for a few cherished days at this refined resort and placed it very firmly on a pedestal. With an invitation to revisit, I was left with mixed emotions. Like reacquainting with a first love, I had a…

La Ferme du Lac Vert

We arrived late at La Ferme du Lac Vert, in early January. Given that our previous chalet had been without power, the romanticism and affection in which we had spent the last 24, candlelit hours were fading fast. We longed for the warmth of a glowing bulb filament, the feeling in your palms as the tap water begins to run hot and the ability to check in on social media to see what the world had for supper. My main concern was being two hours late for dinner as no one likes to keep strangers waiting. Not to mention it doesn’t solidify a great first impression. As always, I was…

Donnington

I grew up with a generation that drank beer from dimpled glass mugs. Now a well-documented supping receptacle of the hipster elite, the Great British dimpled beer mug is, for me, a relic of a simpler time. Before pop-up bars and men without enough testosterone tried to grow moustaches, we finished work at Manual Labour Ltd and headed for the local. I suppose it helped that my grandfather came from West Hartlepool, served in three branches of the armed services and did, indeed, drink from a P404. That was the factory name given to the humble mug in 1938 at the Ravenhead Glassworks in St Helens, Lancashire. My grandparents’ family…

Five Bells – Brabourne

The rain in ‘the Garden of England’ was coming down, as only it can in August: heavily. As I nosed the car into the car park of the Five Bells Inn, I was pleased to see the warm light emanating from the bar area. I was en route to Paris and wanted a civilised overnight stop not too far from the Eurotunnel terminal at Folkestone (20 minutes away to be precise) the night before. Civilised is certainly the word for the Five Bells. Standing in the doorway, giving off the appearance of a wet dog, I was greeted with a smile and shown through the warm bar, busy with the…

Fiji

Bula. A word said so many times that it would lose all meaning by the end of the trip. You see, in Fiji, it’s more than just a word. It’s a sound, an exchange, a feeling that embodies positivity and means almost everything: hello, welcome, ‘sup, health, happiness, love, life, existence, sex, yes, thank you, and pretty much everything in between. Fijians like to philosophise about the subtle abstraction of the word, but there’s nothing subtle or abstract about Fiji or its people. They’re best amongst us: the pure of heart, the good Samaritans, the hopeless inertia of honesty and hard work, the transnational smile, the lazy breeze that cools…

Taveuni Palms, Fiji

It’s raining. What’s Plan B, Barry? “There is no Plan B.” Other than ‘the bride’s done a runner’, these are the last words you want to hear on your wedding day. But here we are: Taveuni Palms, north east Fiji, hoary clouds sagging low in the sky, and a tangible unease as we quaff champagne and smoke cigarettes, praying for the sound of patter to dissipate. We’d arrived the day before, landing at Matei Airport, which more closely resembles a wooden shack, where one man sits, glances at your passport and waves you through with a resounding ‘bula’. Colleen, one half of the husband-and-wife team who manage Taveuni Palms, is…

Likuliku Lagoon Resort, Fiji

The sound of choral singing skips like sunlight across the sea as we approach Likuliku. The staff are out to greet us, stood on the edge of the long wooden pier, dressed in traditional garb of sulus and bark-made warrior skirts, with guitars strumming to the echo of the ocean. I can taste the water spraying in my face as our boat speeds toward the resort. As their carol gets louder, the joy is palpable; a welcome as warm as the climate. We didn’t know it yet, but this type of reception is typical in Fiji: serenaded on arrival, gifted with a traditional seashell garland, and showered with cocktails. Typical,…

The Calima

As the Saharan winds whip up a dehydrating frenzy, the Calima blocks out the sunrise across the ocean to the east. That’s right, I’m in Tenerife doing my best Attenborough. British holidaymaker staple since the 1940s, banana plantation extraordinaire and proud to boast of 362 days of sunshine a year. Don’t be fooled by the fruit machines in the airport or the football-shirt-wearing Luddites on the promenade though, there is something changing in the night sky. I landed on the island on a humid Thursday afternoon in July. For some ungodly reason, I had chosen to travel out in the first week of the school holidays, so the airport was a seething…