Where I stay when I am travelling is often just as important as the destination itself. I undertake obsessive holiday research and planning because I truly believe that thoughtfully-selected hotels can absolutely make a trip. My wings have been clipped a little since Charlie’s birth last November, so I am taking a little trip down memory lane to five of my favourite hotel experiences (in no particular order)..
#1 The Artist Residence, London-UK
I arrived on a Friday night, entering via the restaurant to find the place abuzz with music and lively conversation as Pimlico’s sophisticated after work crowd shared tasty looking dishes and reflected on the week that had been. I was warmly greeted by the hotel’s staff (who all had “understated-cool” nailed), and in no time flat I was making my way up the stair case, surrounded by vintage artworks, and entering the room of my dreams.
The expertly styled vintage room furnishings created a warmth, homeliness and charm that few hotels could pull off. The bed was oh-so-comfy, the bathroom detail gorgeous (ooh heated towel racks), and a beautiful Moroccan Beni Ourian rug graced the room’s timber floor.. I wanted to permanently live in this place!
I can’t fault The Artist Residence: Reclaimed and re-purposed materials have been used throughout, it’s located in a lovely, quiet neighbourhood and just five minutes’ walk to Victoria Station, great food, Melbourne-esque coffee, staff who gladly share their knowledge about the latest goings-on in London.. This 10-bedroom boutique hotel took out the “London Hotel Of The Year” Cesar Award 2016, and I believe with very good reason.
#2 Dar Roumana, Fes-Morocco
I feel blessed to have spent a week at the magical Dar Roumana. An Australian photographer and her French husband, a Michelin star restaurant-trained chef, manage the beautifully restored riad located in Fes’ ancient medina. The riad’s architecture and palatial rooms are a design lover’s dream, and the rooftop views of Fes are just breathtaking. Service is outstanding and the wonderful local staff will happily give you an insight into Fassi life. Dar Roumana’s pièce de résistance? Its exceptional restaurant, masterfully combining local seasonal ingredients to offer an ever changing French-with-a-Moroccan-twist menu. The dishes I enjoyed all rated among the best I’ve ever had. Staying at Dar Roumana is an exotic, unforgettable, “other-worldy” experience.
#3 Madulkelle Tea & Eco Lodge, Sri Lanka
Situated in a mountain range around 30kms from Kandy, Madulkelle Tea & Eco Lodge is a luxurious retreat from Sri Lanka’s bustling cities. I felt my shoulders drop as soon as I took my first sip of locally grown tea on the panoramic deck of the main British-Colonial style house. The “planter’s” estate house is the communal hub, featuring a lounge bar, fire place, games nook, and an excellent restaurant. Eighteen tented lodges are spectacularly dotted around the estate house in the tea plantation, all boasting jaw-dropping views of the valley and mountains. The spa was one of the best I’ve experienced anywhere. And the infinity pool – I have to use “spectacular” again! Madulkelle has a deep commitment to social responsibility, including running education and employment programs to economically empower the local Tamil community.
#4 Taru Villas – 42 Lighthouse Street, Galle Fort-Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka makes two appearances on my list! Taru Villas is a restored Dutch mansion located in the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Galle Fort. Its 1800s Dutch-colonial architecture, antique Sri Lankan furnishings, and photographic art depicting a bygone era are captivating. This is a charming and authentically-Galle boutique hotel experience. Rumour has it that it’s owned by a famous Sri Lankan cricketer but I haven’t been able to verify this!
#5 COMO, The Treasury, Perth-Australia
Although I never actually stayed here, I frequented the beautifully-restored heritage State buildings, home to The Como Hotel, on a daily basis while I was living in Perth. COMO, The Treasury has been voted one of the best hotels in the world, and its exceptional restaurant, Wildflower, has received international critical acclaim. I’ve waxed lyrical about this stunning redevelopment in an earlier post that you can read HERE.