Insights • Inspirations • Destinations • Design

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Travel Insights: Where To Go in 2015

If you're planning your 2015 sojourns, here are some inspiration and ideas to get you started.

The most important thing to remember when planning trips is that some destinations are seasonal, so pick your month with care.

I was set to do some work in Cambodia in May, enroute to London and Paris, but was advised to avoid the monsoon period, and travel in December instead. The rains can also wash out Paris at certain times of the year, usually late April and May, so take an umbrella and/or raincoat if you're heading there at that time. The best months to see Paris are April and September. 
New York is also beautiful in April, when the blossoms and bulbs all come out, while autumn/October in Manhattan is magical.
Charleston is also best in April (lots of private gardens open up to the public), while New Orleans is fab — both weather-wise and in terms of a festive spirit—at Halloween.
London is best in June when the roses come out, or Christmas, when the Chrissy decorations glow like a fairytale.
And Sydney is stunning in spring (Sept), but horribly muggy in summer (Jan).

All that said, it really doesn't matter when you travel, as long as you do travel.
Here are some places and ideas to get your 2015 itineraries started.


With the quirky name of Only You, this new, navy-trimmed beauty opened earlier this year. It was created from a former bookshop (now the bar) and a former 19th-century palace once owned by an aristocratic Spanish family. 

The interior design retains the charm of the original buildings while adding some surprising touches. The elevators in the foyer, for example, have been hidden behind a beautiful blue-and-white Chinoiserie facade. 

Its designer Lázaro Rosa Violán is fast becoming the new Michele Bonan (the talent behind JK Capri), blending classic lines with contemporary art and eclectic pieces. The hotel is right in central Madrid and has rooms from €160. Leaving you lots of money to splurge on Spanish tapas and wine.


If you haven't yet been to this London cutie, put it on The List. Inspired by grand Parisian brasseries, The Balcon Bar is one of the city's prettiest and most delightful spots for a pick-me-up G&T or a chat with friends over a dirty great magnum of French Champagne. 

The design and colour palette – periwinkle blue paired with rich mahogany timbers and high ceilings—is so alluring, people have been known to steal the design ideas for their own home.

Other lovely places to check out in London include the just-opened Mondrian Hotel, the ever-improving Fashion and Textile Museum (just near the Design Museum), the pretty new Cabbages and Roses store off King's Road, and the new designer boutiques and buzzing scene set around elegant Mount Street in Mayfair.


Ever since it opened in 2012, The Siam Hotel in Bangkok has become one of the most talked-about hotels in travel circles. It's owned by a Thai rock start but there's definitely no sign of ripped jeans and Jaggereque swagger here: just coolly glamorous suites and Instagram-worthy antique collections. The aesthetic is classic colonial, so vintage suitcases and old hunting hats dot the sideboards, but the colour palette of cool blue, Dior grey and ebony black modernises the design.

The best part? The enormous spa-style bathrooms and private pools (above). The hotel also provides handy floorplans so you can see how much luxury you're getting for your Baht. 

It makes those Bangkok stopovers look a whole lot brighter.
(NB This place isn't cheap, so put it on the 'Indulgence List')


Remember when Gwyneth Paltrow was slapped around by social media for posting about her 4-day, $62,000 trip aboard the Silolona schooner? (link) (Personally, I think: Good on her. If she has the cash, why not?) Well, Gwennie may have been onto something, because sailing the Indonesian archipelago has become one of THE hottest activities in travel as we face the head winds of 2015.

Why? Well, Indonesia's remote islands are possibly the last unexplored place on earth, now that Bhutan is busier than the Eurostar.

 The relatively secret Raja Ampat has long been regarded by the diving world as a pristine diving and snorkelling destination, but there are hundreds of unexplored islands to snorkel/swim/hike here. Furthermore, Bali-based brands such as Villa Sungai and Plantaran (above) offer amazing old refitted schooners to cruise on, with all meals and drinks included.

Two other tropical destinations that are starting to see schooners—one of the best ways to explore watery places – are the Maldives and Fiji. Both are particularly suited to schooner-ish adventures because you can sail from island to island, snorkelling the pristine reefs in between. I've been liaising with a lovely California travel agency, Pacific Harbor Travel, about their dedicated snorkelling cruises to the Maldives and Fiji—perfect for travellers who want to escape the stress of life by drifting underwater for their entire holiday. The best part? They're usually less than $400/day (all-inclusive), as opposed to the standard $700+ (without meals) charged by most Maldives resorts. 

Sounds idyllic, doesn't it? 
Gwennie may have had the right idea escaping on a schooner, after all...


Ever since an online friend, Miss Slim Paley (link) photographed and posted about the Royal Mansour in Marrakech, I've had it on the Wish List. Commissioned by King Mohamed VI of Morocco to accommodate state guests, its interior comprises intricate, finely-detailed tiles, furniture and lighting handmade by local artisans whose decorative arts skills have been passed down through the generations. 

SP finds ALL the best hideaways in the world—she also did the Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru in the Maldives; one of the most beautiful places on earth—but what I love is that she elected not to stay here and pay the eye-watering prices but simply went for lunch instead. (Which then lingered into cocktails and dinner. Cos that's the sort of ravishing place it is.)

Booking a lunch instead of a bed is the cheap way of seeing such luscious places. The hotel doesn't mind how long you stay, as long as you keep ordering wine, and you're normally welcome to wander around the courtyards and grounds between courses, or afterwards. 

We're having a pre-Christmas lunch at Amanjiwo to save money this very way.


If you're stuck for inspiration, or just want some travel eye candy to get you through the lunch hour, some great travel blogs are Tuula Vintage (also has lists of vintage stores) and Friend in Fashion (image above). Four Months in Paris is also full of Parisian pleasures while Pret a Voyager always has great ideas – her map posts are gorgeous. I also love A Lady In London because she has what seems like an incredible life but also seems very down-to-earth about it –


If you've 'done' a lot of Paris and want to see different things, there are all sorts of secret corners offering aesthetic treasures. Along with Frank Gehry's new Fondation Louis Vuitton (just opened last month), there's also Louis Vuitton Espace Culturel, a quiet gallery space on the second floor of the Paris flagship store. Not only does it offer a glorious view of the rooftops of Paris but it also features ongoing exhibitions, and each one comes with a covetable, limited-edition cloth-covered catalogue. You can wander through with a guide, or explore the space on your own. 

The well-stocked reading room is bliss, too. And it's all FREE.

If you can't get to Paris, consider buying the truly beautiful Louis Vuitton book, 100 Legendary Trunks: The History of the Travel Trunk (above). I received this for a Christmas gift and it remains my favourite design book. (link) A great Chrissy gift for the adventurer in your family.


Another sumptuous book to inspire you is The French Riviera in the 1920s, by Xavier Girard. It's a new release from Assouline and I was lucky to receive it as a gift from The Man for surviving a tough few months. It's now my second-favourite book. The photos alone are worth the price tag. See if Santa will gift it to you. It will inspire you to visit / return to the French Riviera, trust me! (link)


Another new title that's creating a buzz amongst stylish travellers is Kate Spade's new travel book, Places To Go; People To See(link) 

Full of quirky lists and even-more irresistible drawings, it reminds you that travel is meant to be fun: something we all forget on occasion.


Something we've started to do in our house is collect little bits and pieces from our travels and display them in our kitchen, where we pass them every day as we walk outside. It reminds us of the places we've been fortunate to visit, the sights we've seen, and the lovely people we've met along the way... It also reminds us to be grateful for our travels, cos it's unlikely we'll be lounging around the Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc when we're eighty...!

The team at Maison Valentino has also done it. They love travel so much, they featured a mood board as part of a recent fashion show.


I'm going to leave you with a place that was recently voted by hotel and publishing company Mr and Mrs Smith as being one of the most beautiful in the world. It's Six Senses's sublime hideaway at Ninh Van Bay in Vietnam(link)

Now this isn't cheap, so reserve it for anniversaries or indulgences, but it's said to be worth every cent. Some of the villas have their own private plunge pools carved out of the rock cliffs, as well as hand-crafted timber soaking baths.

And just look at that view...

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