Category Archives: Travel

panoramic-view

50 best holidays in Spain: lead feature for the Times

The first country I ever visited was Spain, on a school trip in the 1990s. Little did I know then that this was the beginning of a love affair, with the country as well as with telling people about my very favourite secret spots there.

I travel to Spain multiple times each year and always find something new. I am still discovering new quiet corners and new stories to tell, so I was delighted to be asked to compile my top 50 holidays to Spain for 2017 for the Times.

Find out what made the cut here, and feel free to get in touch with any of your favourites – I’m always on the lookout for new angles on my favourite European country.

Madeira

Modern Madeira: article for Sunday Times Travel magazine

Madeira has a terrible reputation. Cruise ships, coach parties and, well, plenty of visitors of a certain age.

But there is so much more to this tropical island marooned in the Atlantic. There’s excellent walking for a start, along levadas (precipitous aqueducts) and up volcanoes, not to mention delicious fresh seafood, a burgeoning arts scene and some of the tallest cliffs in Europe.

Check out my guide to the island for Sunday Times Travel magazine to find out why you should head to Madeira this year.

Akaroa New Zealand

French Connection: Akaroa article for Journey magazine

New Zealand is a gorgeous country. It’s a country of marching glaciers, soaring white peaks and plunging green valleys. But it’s also a country of quieter scenic pleasures, such as Akaroa.

This small coastal town on the south island is like a little piece of France on the other side of the world. Here you can sit over breakfast baguettes or a bowl of snails in the cafes and walk along rues to distinctly French looking cottages. But you can also explore a distant volcano, a watery inlet home to dozens of dolphins – and one very weird “giant’s” house.

Check out my article in Journey magazine to find out more.

 

 

lanzarotefincamalvasia2

Too Hot to Handle: Canaries feature for Conde Nast Traveller

I’ve been banging on for years about how unfairly maligned the Canary Islands are, and so I was delighted to be asked to write about my favourite spots for Conde Nast Traveller’s December issue.

Conde Nast Traveller have shot some truly gorgeous photography for this feature, which does plenty of the hard work for me. But do read my feature – and let me convince you of the appeal of macronesia with a hip rooftop cocktail bar in Las Palmas, a whitewashed cantina serving ridiculously good local tapas in Lanzarote’s ancient interior and a literally star-studded festival on Tenerife.

Melbournestreetart

Sydney v Melbourne: article for Rough Guides

Few questions elicit quite the response Down Under as this one – which is better, Sydney or Melbourne?

No Sydneysider would even entertain the idea that Melbourne might have anything at all to offer besides the latest hipster joke, while Melburnians tend to think they’re, well, just a cut above the Sydney scene.

But visitors needn’t get embroiled in which city is best – both make for great city breaks, with fantastic restaurants, beaches nearby, culture aplenty and a variety of day trips on the doorstep.

I weighed in on the great debate recently for Rough Guides. So, which do you think I picked?

world_travel_market_london_2008_3039840485

How to survive WTM: escape from it!

Do the very letters W, T and M have you burying your head in your laptop? Do you always feel like you haven’t really achieved anything, despite wearing out your soul and your soles pounding the floors of the Excel centre? Or perhaps you’ve never quite worked up the energy to get there at all, assuring yourself that you aren’t really missing anything?

Yes, WTM can be exhausting. It can suck up the whole first week of November and spit you out with nothing but a bagful of business cards to show for the ride.

But it can also be lucrative. It can bring you new clients, help you in setting up press trips and give you ideas and inspiration for the future. It covers 182 countries, attracts some 5,000 exhibitors and generates £2.2billion in industry deals. Sounds exhausting right? Well, attack the event in the right way and you will find it useful. Promise!

Here are my top tips for getting the best out of it:

Register in advance

You can do this online here and print your entry badge out before you get there. Then just pick up a lanyard and sale through at the entrance without queueing.

Slow start

It can take a while to get to the Excel centre during the show so don’t plan any appointments too early in the day – why not have a leisurely early morning coffee instead? The show opens each day at 10am but I’d recommend scheduling your appointments from 11am onwards to allow time to get there – and for a decent breakfast!

Travel light

Avoid the cloakroom queue (at both ends of the day) by not bringing any extra bags with you and wearing a light jacket that you can carry around with you. Bring a small bottle of water too.

Plan plan plan

The stands are spread over an area the size of more than nine football pitches but mercifully they are arranged by geographical area. So plan to visit all European destinations or all your Asian contacts one immediately after the other. Once you have your appointments confirmed print off a schedule including all stand numbers and contact phone numbers – you’re bound to be running later at least once.

Stay in the city

It may seem like a good idea to stay close to the Excel centre but once the show closes each day at 7pm there’s no reason to be in this part of town. Get a hotel somewhere central instead and you’ll be able to escape into the city each evening for some well-deserved time off (or to attend the various evening events).

Make your escape

Had a productive day making new contacts and deals? Then it’s time to stop, step away from the Excel centre and give yourself time to recuperate. London has plenty of restaurants where the letters WTM mean absolutely nothing – time to head out into the city and forget all about it, at least until tomorrow.

Check out my guide to the best escapes from WTM on Pearlshare here.

 

PEARLSHARE

Pearlshare is a fantastic new travel recommendations app, which not only lets you save your own favourite locations in the places you visit but also share these with friends – and grab recommendations from trusted sources easily.

I’ve written several guides for Pearlshare. Download the app on the iTunes store here and start exploring. Perhaps with my Best escapes from WTM guide, or my London restaurants with a view guide.

dsc_0048

La Palma: feature for the Times

A new Canary Island is opening up. That island is La Palma, the greenest of these volcanic beauties marooned in the Atlantic. Until now, UK travellers have either had to fly via Madrid or on the weekly Thomson charter flight.

But no longer. Easyjet launched direct flights to La Palma on October 1st. I went on ahead to check out the highlights and found epic walks through verdant mountains, delicious local fish served by passionate locals and a lot of banana plantations. I also found that the island is one of the best places in the world to stargaze (it has the world’s largest optical telescope), as well as one of the best places in Europe to paraglide.

What I didn’t find were large resorts and lots of tourists. So get in their now and you’ll be ahead of the crowd.

Read my feature for The Times on La Palma here.