Tag Archives: spain

IslasCies

Secret Spanish isles: Islas Cies piece for the Times

I’ve found the best beach in Spain – and that is saying something.

It is called Praia de Rodas and it is not on the country’s well-known and perpetually sun-soaked southern coast, it is out to the northwest of the mainland on an island off the coast of Galicia.

This is a beautiful coastline, strung with gorgeous white sand beaches. But to find the very best, the one that looks like it could have been lifted from the pages of a Caribbean holiday brochure, you ave to board a boat and head out to sea – or more precisely to the Islas Cies.

Rodas beach is a stunner. White sands, turquoise waters, the works. But there is more to these islands than just a place to switch off and sunbathe. There is also a simple but quietly spectacular restaurant serving fresh fish on a ramshackle terrace, a dramatic walk across the cliffs to a towering lighthouse and hundreds of birds wheeling overhead.

Read my recent article for the Times to find out more.

Palmacathedral

Weekend in Palma, Mallorca: article for the Times

I am often asked where I would live if I could live anywhere.

If we’re talking outside the UK (because, honestly, the answer is London!) then it has to be Palma.

Mallorca’s capital city is a stunner. And on my most recent visit I got to see her from a new angle – from the top of her world renowned Gothic cathedral.

I also gazed out over her rooftops from my rooftop infinity pool at the Hotel Nakar, a wonderful hotel, and got to know her a little better on a tapas crawl through Sa Gerreria.

You can read more about what I got up to on my weekend in Palma in my article in the Times.

CabreraMallorca

Balearic bliss: article on Cabrera for the Times

I have long loved Mallorca, but it was only recently that I discovered a new reason to love the largest Balearic island – it is also the jumping off point for Cabrera, the smallest of the (inhabited) Balearics.

I visited for a few days in April and found deserted walking tracks, secluded beaches and calm, clear waters home to plenty of fish and even the odd octopus. Sure, the accommodation here is basic (actually it’s so basic you need to bring your own bedding) but I found that that was part of the fun – and that it meant I had the island more or less to myself once the day boats left.

Check out my article for the Times on Cabrera here.

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.

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.

PlazadeEspana

Weekend in Seville: article for Woman’s Own

If pushed, I can just about pick my favourite Spanish city. I love Barcelona of course, and I have a real soft spot for Granada. And then there’s Madrid, with its tapas bars and unstoppable nightlife. But none can match Seville for me.

Seville is sultry. Seville is sexy. And Seville is orange-scented, flamenco-soundtracked, hot-aired. I love its cathedral, its rooftop bars, its Moorish spas… There is so much here to love.

Never been? Head over for the weekend, use my guide for Woman’s Own – and get ready to fall in love.

panoramic-view

The best hotels in Mallorca: guide for Pearlshare

Let’s play a word association game. Hear Mallorca, think…? Package holidays, perhaps, or Magaluf?

Sunshine probably also comes to mind, along with thoughts of sultry Spanish nights, white sand beaches and plates of fresh tapas. But luxury? Maybe not.

Mallorca’s reputation may be more clubbing than fine dining, more kids clubs than boutique hotels, but that doesn’t mean the largest Balearic island doesn’t have plenty of luxurious places to stay. In fact, it has one of my favourite hotels in the world, as well as the most unique place I’ve stayed this year.

Check out my Pearlshare guide to Mallorca’s best places to stay for all my top tips and read on to hear about my two favourite Balearic hotels.

 

The very best: Belmond La Residencia

This superluxe hotel has long attracted the great and good to its classically chic confines on the slopes above the village of Deia. On my recent stay there was a certain well known newsreader enjoying breakfast beneath the bougainvillea at breakfast, in fact. Nobody batted an eye though, this is a hotel that is all about discreet service and elegant lounging.

I spent my time during the day by the main pool, shaded at one end by cypress trees, the sun warming it at the other. I swam lengths towards the Tramuntana mountains and flopped onto my back to squint at the cloudless sky – it was bliss.

My time in the spa was even better, with a dreamy Citrus Siesta treatment that more or less knocked me out with an all-over scrub followed by a soft massage. Dinner is worth staying in for here and I feasted on local red Sóller prawns and roast suckling pig from the island at El Olivo at dinner before settling into the bar with its live piano music and dozens of Miró originals for an aperol spritz. The Miró Café also serves tapas by day, an excuse to have more of those prawns!

And I haven’t even mentioned the room… I had multiple windows overlooking the pool, some of which turned out to also be Juliet balconies, a terrace with mountain views and loungers, and a bathroom with a huge shower. The bathtub could have been more opulent and I didn’t need a TV that pops up at the end of the bed but there was enough space that I could have moved in for at least a couple of weeks – and I really, really wanted to.

 

The most unique: Cap Rocat

I’d read about Cap Rocat long before I went there so I was apprehensive on arrival – nothing ruins a stay more than too-high expectations after all. But this ex military fortress turned five-star hotel didn’t disappoint, even in the rain!

It’s all about the setting here, from the drawbridge you cross to enter the hotel to the terrace atop my Cap Rocat suite which had exactly the sort of uninterrupted view you would expect from something that started life as a defensive position. The rain meant staying indoors to begin with (hooray for the spa and its fabulous Ayurvedic treatments!) but the sun soon came out – as it always does in Mallorca – and I could snooze on my Balinese bed on the roof and order breakfast to the private terrace.

I loved my room – it had a vast bathroom with lovely freestanding bathtub and spacious dressing area as well as a four-poster bed – but the hotel’s crowning glory is surely its swimming pool. It’s an infinity pool (a proper one, not the nonsensical “infinity-edged” type) with gorgeous views over the Bay of Palma,. But that’s not even the real winner. That would be the box hedges, which divide each pair of sun loungers from the next, giving you privacy as well as room to spread out. Spread out I did, and again it was very difficult to tear myself away!

 

Find out which other Mallorcan hotels I really rate by downloading the Pearlshare app for iPhone here and checking out my guide to the island’s top places to stay.