Thank you for the most amazing journey over the last 11 years.
I wanted to take this time to say yay me, but also to say a huge thank you to every single one of you who reads the blog, keeps me company on social media and even says yes to get my monthly email.
I also want to say a big thank you to all the brands and destinations who have also trusted me to represent them – the collection is a reflection of me as a consumer, which is what we all are, at the end of the day. I never thought I could turn this experiment into a business (which obviously suffered during the Covid times) – but it is also finally turning around.
Most of my trips these last 2 years have been organised by a travel agent. Why? Because things are quite ‘unsteady’ and I want and need someone to hold my hand. Someone who knows first hand how hotels are performing, someone who can pick up the pieces if anything goes wrong. Someone who isn’t a call centre and makes me queue and wait. Someone who knows what they are doing.
The person who has held my (and my family’s) hand the most has been Sarah Ives, a boutique luxury travel agent, who is originally from the USA and is based in London. No details escape her, no upgrade requests are ignored by hotels – and her rates and perks have been unmatched. You see, the internet cannot upgrade you, but Sarah can.
So as I planned this blog birthday thank you, it was wonderful to have Sarah onboard as a partner on this giveaway. Why? Because quite a few of you have booked trips with her when I mentioned her on my social media over the last year and guess what? She would like even more readers to use her services.
So together with Sarah, we have rounded up a some luxury hotel experiences that we would like my readers from around the world to enjoy. You may choose to extend your stay, and if you do, Sarah will help you get the best rates and service, as booking with her always comes with perks (from room upgrades, to hotel credit, late check in and out and a few more bits, which you will find below).
Without further ado, here are the luxury hotel stays we have selected for you (and a big thank you to each hotel who has donated the stays – and I know many are fully booked for next year, so please note that blackout dates apply).
They are in alphabetical order, just so there are no fights!
Le Toiny, St Barths
One Aldwych, London, United Kingdom
Originally built in 1905 as the home of the Morning Post newspaper, One Aldwych is a perfectly-formed, perfectly-located gem in the heart of London’s Covent Garden. Recently refurbished, the rooms and suites are beautifully decorated in a calm pastel hues with elegant art deco details. The signature suites are worth it for the incredible views over London. For those in need of a spa break, look no further – as One Aldwych has an incredible spa and health club with an 18-metre indoor swimming pool (which is also chlorine-free thanks to a ground-breaking mineral cleaning system). This is a great hotel for couples or families looking for a staycation or visiting London from abroad.
Palazzo Avino, Amalfi Coast, Italy
One of the most romantic hotels in the world, the gorgeous “Pink Palace” as it is known to the locals, is located in the charming town of Ravello on the Amalfi Coast. Originally a 12th century villa built for an Italian noble family, Palazzo Avino, is still family-owned and run by 2 sisters, Mariella and Attlia Avino. Overlooking the dramatic blue stretch of coastline and surrounded by pastel-hued houses and glorious gardens, Palazzo Avino is one of the most beautiful and restorative places to start or finish any trip to the Amalfi Coast. Being Italy, the food here is also incredible with a Michelin-starred restaurant Rosellini’s and a Cookery school located within the hotel grounds.
So Sotogrande, Sotogrande, Spain
Following our new home purchase in the Sotogrande area, we loved spending our Sundays at the nearby So Sotogrande. The hotel sells day passes for its 3 great pools – but for us, what sold it was the children’s pool, which came with toys, safety jackets and a lot of fun guaranteed. I have also enjoyed treatments at the So Spa and my husband played a few rounds of golf at Almenara.
The Langley, Buckinghamshire, United Kingdom
A perfect countryside escape just 40-minutes from Central London. The Langley, part of Marriott Luxury Collection, is located in Buckinghamshire on 150 acres of formal gardens and parklands. Choose from rooms in the main house or the Grade II listed Brew house (Sarah opted for the main house). Enjoy a delicious breakfast overlooking the grounds before heading out for a day exploring or just relax and take in the sumptuous surroundings . There is so much to do here, including an indoor and outdoor pool, tennis court, six-seat cinema and cookery school. Perfect for couples or families.
Top tip: A visit to the spa at The Langley is a must! It was one of the best massages Sarah’s had in a long time. Sarah loved the ladies thermal area, where you can immerse yourself in the rose quartz steam room and samarium, float in the vitality pool or relax on a heated lounger. Bliss!
Prize: 2 nights complimentary bed & breakfast at The Langley, valid for 12 months, and available Sunday through to Thursday subject to availability.
Vedema, Santorini, Greece
Sarah was lucky enough to visit the beautiful Vedema, part of Marriott Luxury Collection, in May and it was one of her favourite hotels on the island of Santorini.
Vedema is an authentic, Cycladic-style property which is set up like a little village with 59 spacious suites and villas, all with their own terraces and many with jacuzzis or private pools. Views over the vineyards or inwards to the resort are stunning and peaceful. The property evolved from a 400-year old wine cellar and 100- year old mansion, and you can still feel this history today. Located in the medieval village of Megalohori, which has boutique shops, lovely cafes and restaurants, Vedema is a perfect base for exploring Santorini.
Top tip: Combine a stay at Vedema with one or two nights at sister properties Mystique in Oia, carved into the rugged cliffs of the Caldera (also Marriott Luxury Collection) or Istoria (Design Hotels) for Santorini’s famous stretch of volcanic black sand.
Prize: 2 nights complimentary bed & breakfast at Vedema to be redeemed in October 2023 only.
Westin Miriandhoo, Maldives
Top Tip: Join the resident Marine Biologist for an interactive reef restoration activity by planting coral fragments on a frame, later placed in the ocean by the team, or participate in a marine biology talk with an engaging conversation about oceanic conservation and underwater life.
How to enter this competition
I want to keep this very simple!
- Subscribe to my email newsletter (Sarah will also add you to her mailing list) – see below.
- Follow me on Facebook and Instagram. and like my most recent 5 posts. Please share the post.
- Follow Sarah on Instagram and like her most recent 5 posts.
- Please like and comment on these posts on Instagram and Facebook (either!). We have a question for you: which destination from the ones above is calling your name and why do you really want to go?
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This competition is open to global participants and entries will close on 4 January 2023 at 11.59pm GMT. Winners will be selected randomly and announced on Friday 6th January 2023. Winners will be contacted by email.
If you are inspired by any of these hotels and would like to enquire about any of the hotels (or anywhere else in the world), do get in touch with Sarah (you can see her website here). Feel free to email Sarah or say hello via Instagram.
Merry Christmas to all!