But where do they go to unwind and recuperate for the new year ahead? We’re letting you in on where The Luxury Travel Book team is headed. From famed Cotswold cottages to romantic Paris apartments, and inviting villas in Tuscany, Cape Town and Sri Lanka, and as far as New Zealand, the scope is broad, authentic experiences are in abundance, food will be plentiful, and the luxury is unparalleled.
2018 has been an amazing year for re-visiting some of my favourite destinations, including Paris, Venice and Seville, each so different, but all with so much to offer visitors.
I have been addicted to Paris for a very long time, and love staying in St Germain, Marais or the Ile St Louis, which are also home to the majority of our luxury apartment rentals. When I was in Paris in the summer, I met Lisa, who does really interesting food tours in St Germain, which involve sampling delicious French specialities in local shops and meeting the people who run them. She has also just recently expanded this to the Marais and, it is a great way of getting to know an area. I just love walking the streets of Paris, and there are always at least several art exhibitions I want to visit, so never short of things to do. You can read my travel journal entry for Paris here!
Venice is another favourite, preferably out of the very high season months of July and August. I was lucky enough to go in March and stay in one of the beautiful apartments we rent here, which directly overlooks the Grand Canal, with a view from the living room window across to the magnificent Santa Maria della Salute. Again one of the joys during my last stay was a foodie experience, when I met up with a friend, Giorgia, who arranges ‘bacari and cicchetti’ tours. These involve walking from one bacari to another and sampling local wine and ‘cicchetti’ (Italy’s answer to tapas), as well as learning lots about the history of the city. She also arranges tours to the Venetian islands of Torcello, Murano, Burano and Sant’ Erasmus. Read my Venice blog about Giorgia's tours here!
Pictured: Apartment San Lorenzo, Venice, Italy
For a complete change, I have more recently returned from an apartment stay in Seville, which is an absolutely enchanting city to visit, with a long, sunny season. I was there in October and it was still very warm, and as well as exploring the city, we also did a day trip out to Ronda and the Pueblos Blancos, which was stunning. Seville just exudes history and tradition, and the centre of the city is particularly special for just wandering around, and enjoying a glass of wine and tapas in the sunshine outside one of the numerous bars and restaurants. You can read my latest Sevillian travel journal entry here!
In January, I am off to New Zealand which is very exciting – I grew up there, but so much as has changed over the years, and the standard of accommodation and range of activities there are fantastic. I am planning to visit Queenstown, where we now offer a great selection of apartments and villas, many of which overlook beautiful Lake Wakatipu, across to the stunning Remarkables mountain range.
Pictured: Calle San Jose, Seville, Spain
Edinburgh Drive offers all the advantages of staying in beautiful Queenstown. It is very private, overlooks the stunning lake and mountains, yet is also just a short walk from the centre of town. The views are just magnificent from all the rooms, including the four bedrooms, as well as the private deck area with outdoor dining area and a jacuzzi.
The entire area in and around Queenstown has so much to offer visitors. You can choose to enjoy a leisurely cruise on Lake Wakatipu with its breathtaking mountain views, or a wine tour to sample Central Otago's increasingly popular selection of wines, to visiting the historic small town or Arrowtown, dating back to the 1860s, which its charming colonial buildings. Skiing is another popular activity, at nearby Coronet Peak. Other activities include fishing, golf and tramping or, for the more daring, activities include a ride down the rapids on the Shotover River, paragliding and bungy jumping.
Pictured: Edinburgh Drive
This year I have been lucky enough to spend time in some of my favourite European cities including Paris and Madrid. In the Summer I spent a week with friends on Hydra in Greece, which was magical and somewhere I will definitely be going back to next year – there are no cars on the island and you can walk everywhere. There are some great hikes to do and lots of beautiful swimming spots.
I also spent 3 weeks in Tuscany visiting new and existing properties, as well as tagging on a few nights in Florence (my all-time favourite city with so many great options for eating and drinking!), and Lucca which was beautiful too. You can read our TLTB travel journal entry on Florence here!
My colleagues and I also found time to visit new and existing properties in Mallorca, which is fast becoming one of our largest villa destinations, with more and more clients looking to travel here every year. Having spent a lot of time here in the past 2 years, I can understand why! It is quieter than Ibiza, and the countryside and mountains are spectacular. There are also great beaches and restaurants all over the island too.
So having spent all year in Europe, I am travelling to Sri Lanka this week for some winter sun. I am starting in Galle and will then be travelling south stopping in Koggala, Mirissa, Dikwella and Tangalle. I have only been once before several years ago so cannot wait to spend some time exploring, and viewing new beautiful properties!
Pictured: Cala Gata 1, Mallorca, Spain
Sri Lanka's stunning luxury Villa Gurukanda on the shores of Koggala lake. Awaken to beautiful views over the lake and local fisherman rowing back to the shore, and enjoy spectacular sunset views poolside or from the hammocks dotted around the pristine property. Enjoy cycling around the lake and a relaxing boat ride is also included. Centrally located, the villa neighbours the south coast's most famous beaches, while the historic Galle Fort is a mere 30-minute drive. Villa Gurukanda also comes fully staffed, including a chef, caretaker, housekeeper, gardener and 24 hour security.
Pictured: Villa Gurukanda
It’s been a busy year for me with travel, starting with a (cold) winter weekend in Amsterdam, familiarising myself with the city and viewing some beautiful rental apartments and houseboats. In May, I took off on a 2-week trip to Morocco, beginning with a couple days exploring the Marrakech medina and visiting some fabulous riads that we feature there. I then set off on an incredible 4-day trek through the Atlas Mountains which I will never forget, before finishing the trip for some relaxation in the quaint fishing village of Essaouira. My summer was mainly spent in hot London (!!) sandwiched between a weekend break in Lisbon and a 10-day holiday with friends at one of our villas on Paros – my favourite Greek island. I squeezed in one last weekend-break before the end of the year, travelling to Seville in November where I’ll be getting married next year!
So, after a hectic year, I’m staying close to home this Christmas – spending it in a beautiful Cotswold cottage with my family, exploring the beautiful countryside and some of the cosy pubs that the area has to offer!
Pictured: Villa Naoussa, Paros, Greece
The Little Tew House is located in the famed Cotswolds. This beautifully designed eco-friendly rental property is conveniently located nearby Daylesford Farm and exclusive members club, Soho Farmhouse, famous for their luxury spa treatments and delicious organic products. Inside, the Little Tew House features modern and spacious interiors as well as unique furniture pieces sure to impress. Outside, the home is surrounded by a charming lake with its very own island and 25 acres of soothing woodland gardens, not to mention several treehouses. During the rainy days, guests are welcome to enjoy the property's excellent sports barn, featuring football, basketball, table tennis, and cricket equipment, as well as a pool table and foosball. Wanting to unwind? Enjoy a film session in the property’s fabulous cinema room, making the Little Tew House an ideal family getaway destination!
Pictured: Little Tew House