TOP TIPS and favourite GLOSSY TRAVEL SPOTS to give you INSPIRATION for your next trip …
Tim Magee, Travel Editor: Los Angeles
If you ask me where to go this summer, it’s LA. Just saying California sounds of summer, but it’s not just for sun – apart from the beaches, LA has a red-hot food situation, every level of shopping and an underground cultural life that is terrified of being too scene-y. The LA I first went to was disjointed, sprawling, dirty and bonkers. It still has problems but feels now more like a colony of communities led by a ridiculously popular, eloquent mayor, Eric Garcetti.
Use Lyft or Uber and let your affordable chauffeur-driven car whisk you (and your belly) from one great restaurant to the next – Nancy Silverton’s Mozza, République, Brentwood Country Mart’s Farmshop, Jeremy Foxe’s mighty small plate paradise, Rustic Canyon. I stayed in the Hollywood Roosevelt, bang in the middle of the most touristy and tacky part of the city, and it was great. You need a sunny pool (a million-dollar mural at the bottom painted by David Hockney), decent bars and restaurants as a baseline (the tiny dark no-menu Library Bar, the Spare Room with its vintage bowling alley winning the Oscars here). Built in 1926, The Roosevelt is a beached cruise ship from Hollywood’s golden years. It has been through a recent big spend refurb but they didn’t mess too much with the gloriously cheesy Spanish Colonial public spaces.
Baja – the other California. Skip Tijuana. It is selling its new-found food and craft beer scene, but take the wrong turn and you feel like you are on the set of Sicario. Instead get yourself a driver and investigate your way south to Valle de Guadalupe and a wine region that is more affordable and relaxed than its cross-border counterpart. Stay surrounded by vineyards in the cosy, friendly Hacienda Guadalupe Hotel, just across the road from the proud little museum telling this valley’s exciting wine story. With a quiet pool set in gardens and an excellent restaurant and winery on site, use it as a base to explore some interesting vineyards and some world-class eating like chef Jair Tellez’s Laja, the locavore Deckman’s, and Diego Hernández Baquedano’s inventive Corazón de Tierra.
Palm Springs. If there is a new place to stay that should make it to the top of anyone’s list it’s La Serena Villas. Unlike the converted motels (no bad thing) where every weekend is spring break (a very bad thing) La Serena is close to everywhere you need to be; behind high walls against the backdrop and drama of San Jacinto Mountains. The quiet, peaceful villas, each with a plunge pool or outdoor bathtub and a fire pit, let you play house in the desert. It may be the newest, hottest spot in a very hot town but it already feels timeless.
Sarah McDonnell, Editor: Ballynahinch
A house by the sea, a vast expanse of always-changing sky, tide revealing and covering the rocky beach at the foot of the cliff … it’s hard to ever leave, once installed. But just a 30-minute drive from this second home – and just 20 minutes from Clifden – is Ballynahinch, a world apart, with its dark, dense groves of trees and dreamy woodlands. The pretty Victorian fishing lodge, built on the banks of the Owenmore river, was once the home of an Indian cricketer maharajah, who built little jetties so he didn’t have to wade into the cold water from his seven private fishing boats. Several hundred acres of estate, including a mammoth walled garden, are currently under renovation, after a hundred years of growing with wild abandon, and a sensitive overhaul is being carried out by GM Patrick O’Flaherty and team, under the interested eyes of new owners Denis and Catherine O’Brien, who have holidayed here for years.
Ballynahinch has a fascinating history, from the earliest occupants (including pirate queen Grace O’Malley), through Famine times, via the 1800s to now, and still feels as though it occupies a romantic wrinkle in time. Here you might come to slip off the grid for a night or two, to arrive for an epic afternoon tea (choose the special Ballynahinch blend) served in blue and white china at a table overlooking the river, flop on a four-poster for a nap and emerge for a bath and a drink before dinner, a perfectly pitched country house menu by Pete Durkan, with local ingredients beautifully cooked and presented. Fly fishing, walking along the river (or hiking locally with the hotel’s guides), clay pigeon shooting, reading in the dark green library, wandering or biking through newly uncovered trails … everything is luxurious in an understated way, on tap, but not forced – there’s an easiness, lovely relaxed staff and every comfort imaginable. It feels like home, with deeper sofas, a deeper bath, better gin, and someone to light the fire and cook you dinner. It’s actual heaven, and I’m going back there soon. www.ballynahinch-castle.com.
Laura Kenny, Art Director: Lisbon
Why Lisbon? Beautiful, charming and easy-going, Lisbon is easy to navigate with an authentic feel, despite its popularity.
What inspired you? The geometric patterns and colourful designs of the Portuguese tiles which pave the streets and buildings. I bought a book on the tiling I loved them so much.
Top tip: Visit Pasteis de Belem to try their world-famous pastel de nata, wander around the Mercado do Ribeira and stay at the Hotel Turim Av Liberdade; convenient to a metro station and very relaxing after a busy day sightseeing.
Favourite view? Looking down on the city from the top of the Elevador de Santa Justa – a neo-gothic street lift built in 1902 by Raul Mesnier, Gustave Eiffel’s apprentice. www.turimavliberdade.com.
Penny McCormick, Acting Features Editor: Sicily
I spent much of my holiday in south eastern Sicily searching for the perfect teste di moro to ship home. Apparently it’s a common side effect, especially if you stay at the chic Donna Coraly Resort. They are a décor feature of each of the seven suites and a souvenir of love lost. As a Dolce & Gabbana fan, my first trip to Sicily was like waking up in their SS13 moodboard. Lemon groves, majolica tiling at every turn and the best pacchino tomatoes, pistachios and Avola almonds you’ll eat anywhere; it did not disappoint. Sigmund Freud – not given to raving – described Sicily as “the loveliest region of Italy: a stunning orgy of colours, scents, and lights.” Day trips included the town of Noto with its baroque balconies (its annual infioriata is a must-see for floralistas). I loved the pretty tenth-century fishing village of Marzamemi, ideal for a leisurely lunch in the quiet flower-filled piazza, and Ortigia. Its cobbled streets lead to impressive squares and cavernous churches (Caravaggio’s Burial of Santa Lucia is in the Piazza del Duomo). Dine in trattoria Dionisio or Regina Lucia, or return to base for chef Guiseppe’s cannoli workshops. I admit to stashing the in-house Ortigia Ambra Nera goodies, but I also packed taste memories and the desire to explore more on a return trip. www.donnacoraly.it.
Aislinn Coffey, Style Editor: Côte D’Azur
What: Chartering a classic yacht en famille and hopping from legendary fishing village (St Tropez) to chic port (Beaulieu-sur-Mer). Holidays afloat can be tedious if you’re not set up: a skipper, maître d’ and first mate helped. Highlights: Tossing a lunch hook in St Tropez and climbing up to the legendary pier front where the Chanel cruise show took place at le Sénéquier, sipping Pétale de Rose rosé and ordering a pair of Tropezienne sandals at the Rondini family boutique. Shop: At the bi-weekly market on Place des Lices; pick up a basket or colourful kaftan. Visit: The Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, Cap Ferrat. Wander through the nine themed gardens (commissioned by Béatrice Ephrussi de Rothschild) by following a labyrinthine path to catch a glimpse of the incredible blooms, sculptures, statues and fountains. Drink: Green Fairy; sipping from absinth fountains in the whacky Absinthe Bar, Antibes; a must-see. Stay: Hotel de la Darse, Villefranche-Sur-Mer – a gem at €99 a room. www.hoteldeladarse.com.
Tracy Ormiston, Advertising Sales Director: Cancun, Mexico
“Be prepared for style at The Moon Palace in Cancun, Mexico. I’ve returned to the resort several times and always pack my Chanel sunnies, colourful Vix bikini, white Melissa Odabash cover-up, with dresses and heels for the evening. Days are spent at the Olympic-size (adults-only) pool, at the golf club, lounging on the beach or diving along the coral reefs. The Moon always hosts concerts. On my last visit, Usher was playing and each morning we would meet him and his family at breakfast. Everyone is a VIP at the resort.” www.moonpalacecancun.com.
Sarah Halliwell, Beauty Editor: Kerry
If you get the weather (and even if you don’t), there’s nowhere lovelier than Kerry. The scenery is incredible and we can bring as many books as possible – there’s barely room in the car for the dog. Visit: Breathtaking Derrynane beach for swims (and The Blind Piper pub in Caherdaniel for hearty lunches); the mystical Skelligs – boat trips are pricier now due to the movie connection but it’s an otherworldly experience; The Park at Kenmare’s state-of-the-art spa, with its gorgeous Sisley treatments and outdoor spa pool. Eat at: Local favourite O’Neill’s The Point in Cahersiveen – get there early to feast on the juiciest crab claws while watching the sunset over Valentia island. Try Le Petit Delice (Main Street, Cahersiveen) for good coffee and calorific pastries. Pack: Swimsuits; Aran jumper; P Le Moult grandad shirt; Anthony Peto panama hat; threadbare jeans and Green Flash trainers – the beauty of holidays is not having to dress up. Tons of SPF; hair masks; Aurelia’s light and fragrant Firm & Replenish Body Serum (at SpaceNK); and perfumes that conjure sunshine even if there is none – Chanel’s No 5 L’Eau is perfect. Essentials: Pack of cards, sunglasses and a raincoat.
Síomha Connolly, Assistant Editor: Cuba
Cuba in three words: Colourful, charming, vibrant. Favourite holiday memory?: Wandering the streets of Old Havana while stopping off for shade in local bars, listening to live music and sipping mojitos on the rooftop of Hotel Ambos Mundos with the sun setting. Top tip: Stay in casa particulares (essentially b&bs) that can be booked through Airbnb. Book La Guarida for dinner – a brilliant paladar (privately run restaurant as opposed to state run). Request a table on the terrace and book a couple of weeks in advance. Holiday essentials: A straw hat, Levi shorts, Vaseline Intensive Care Cocoa Butter, La Roche-Posay’s Thermal Spring Water spritz and plenty of books on my Kindle.
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