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A Touch of Luxury ... at Home

Since we are all spending more time at home, we thought we would share with you some of the best hotels in the UK, as voted for by the readers of Conde Nast Traveller. From the Highlands of Scotland to Land’s End, you do not have to go aboard to enjoy a touch of luxury!

 

LONDON - The Dorchester

Located in London’s West End, the hotel has large, comfortable rooms decorated in an English country house style and décor that brings the outside, in. While away an afternoon people watching from the Promenade Restaurant and make sure to enjoy the afternoon tea before you check out!

 

THE COTSWOLDS - Dormy House

A converted farmhouse decorated in a sleek, contemporary style, it boasts good food, excellent service, and a truly fantastic spa. Some of the rooms, in the older farmhouse section of the hotel, have a cosier atmosphere while rooms in the newer parts of the property offer spacious, modern rooms.

 

HAMPSHIRE - Heckfield Place 

Set on 430 acres of Hampshire countryside, this Georgian manor has 45 rooms which boasts original features such as fireplaces and chandeliers as well as modern touches in the room accessories and art. The hotel also has its own farm, which provide two restaurants with fresh ingredients.

 

DORSET - Summer Lodge Country House Hotel

This hotel, located in the depths of the Dorset countryside was original built to plans drawn up by the author Thomas Hardy in 1893. It has since been modernised by still boasts four acres of manicured gardens as well as swimming pool, spa, and restaurant.

 

YORKSHIRE - Grantley Hall

Grantley Hall is a cosy property with touches of contemporary design, set on 38 acres of the North Yorkshire countryside. It has recently received an extensive refurbishment and now has state-of-the-art facilities, including a cryotherapy chamber, underwater treadmill, and spin classes in an altitude-adjustable studio.

 

MANCHESTER - Hotel Brooklyn

Opened in 2020, The Brooklyn might be Manchester’s newest and coolest hotel. The lobby features a drive-in style film projector and guests check themselves in on iPads. The rooms are decorated in a modern style with floor to ceiling windows and there are wildflowers on terraces to attract bees.

 

SOMERSET - The Newt

The Newt is made up of a Georgian mansion and converted outbuildings, all of which are individually decorated; the stable rooms even have quirky beds in the stalls. The land surrounding the hotel, including woods, orchards, and a deer park, is open to guests to wander. They also have a chef’s garden, which produces some of the best food in the area.

 

GUERNSEY - The Duke of Richmond

The Duke is arguably Guernsey’s grandest hotel, with fantastic views across the sea and an outdoor pool during the summer. The rooms are large and beautifully decorated. The biggest draw though is the Leopard Bar & Restaurant, which takes its name from its décor and serves incredible fresh seafood.

 

THE HIGHLANDS - The Torridon

Located 50 miles west of Inverness on the banks of Loch Torridon, The Torridon is a former shooting lodge dating back to 1887. The interior has been lovingly restored but remains in keeping with its history and stunning surroundings, including a pine-panelled whiskey bar, which has an option for every day of the year.

 

THE LAKE DISTRICT - The Linthwaite

A black-and-white-gabled Edwardian mansion in the Lake District, it is within walking distance of Bowness-on-Windermere, which means it offers amazing views, and is surrounded by 14 acres of landscaped gardens. The restaurant and bar have a great reputation too, especially the South African-dominated wine list, inspired by the property’s owners.

 

If you would love to visit any of these amazing hotels with your family and friends, please contact us, we would love to help you plan an unforgettable UK break!

 

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PRIDE: The Best Inclusive Destinations for LGBTQ+ Travellers

June is Pride Month so to celebrate, we wanted to highlight some of the best destinations for LGBTQ+ travellers.

 

Canada has been voted as the best country to visit by the Spartacus Gay Travel Index 2020 for the second year in a row, alongside Malta and Sweden. The Index also breaks down the USA by state, with the best states for LGBTQ+ inclusivity being California, Nevada and New York.

 

Fantastic destinations for LGBTQ+ tourists extend far beyond these places though; here are some of our favourites;

 

Banff & Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada

Canada has been voted the most gay-friendly country in the world, so it is no surprise that some Canadian destinations are loved by LGBTQ+ travellers. Banff and Lake Louise are located within the Rocky Mountains and are some of the most beautiful destinations in the world. They are well known for their year-round adventure and wellness credentials.

 

Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Boston makes for a great destination for gay travellers; founded in 1630, the city is the shining jewel in Massachusetts’ crown, and a perennial favourite for those seeking exceptional culture, dining, history, and arts. This city is more than just tolerant of LGBTQ+ travellers – Massachusetts was the first US state to legalize same-sex marriage in 2004.

 

Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town is known as the ‘Gay Capital of Africa’ and the city hosts a week-long series of Pride events, parties, and festivals every year. It is full of friendly people, eclectic cuisine, high-energy music, amazing sunsets, incredible beaches, world-class restaurants and art galleries. South Africa’s wine country is also close by the city and well worth exploring.

 

Hawaii, USA

The islands of Hawaii are the perfect holiday spot whatever you are looking for. The capital of Honolulu, on the island of Oahu, holds its own Pride parade every year and is also home to some iconic gay friendly venues including Bacchus and Chiko’s Tavern. If you are looking for more rest and relaxation during your trip, the neighbouring islands of Kauai or Maui offer crystal clear water, white sand beaches, incredible waterfalls and beautiful scenic drives.

 

San Francisco, California, USA

LGBTQ+ history and culture are synonymous with San Francisco, in fact, around one in six people who call the city home identify as gay. The Castro neighbourhood, home to the celebrated LGBTQ+ activist and politician Harvey Milk, is still the hub of the action, where you’ll find a cornucopia of affirming bars, restaurants and cafes as well as the celebrated Castro Theatre.

 

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico really does have it all; from relaxing on the beach, exploring some of the island’s great nightlife options or exploration of a different kind through the El Yunque Rainforest or kayaking in the bays. For a slice of old Caribbean charm mixed with world-class dining and nightlife, the capital of San Juan is hard to beat.

 

Costa Rica

Costa Rica legalised same sex marriage in 2020, making it a much more attractive option for gay travellers. With its beautiful beaches, stunning waterfalls, volcanoes, saltwater fishing, scuba diving and golfing; there really is something to satisfy your every whim here. Make sure to check out Manuel Antonio, a great place for LGBTQ+ tourists.

 

New Zealand

New Zealand is a country with a very welcoming and friendly reputation, which extends to the LGBTQ+ community. With its stunning geography, exciting cities and outdoor adventure abound, it really is a fabulous destination. The capital of Auckland usually holds a Pride festival every February.

 

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Mexico's number one gay tourist destination, Puerto Vallarta is a little slice of inclusive tropical bliss. Gay bars, clubs and resorts dot the ‘Zona Romantica’ neighbourhood, with many homes and businesses here displaying their solidarity with Pride flags. It is a very walkable city and taking a food tour is a great way to spend an afternoon before returning to the beach!

 

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

The cosmopolitan city of Vancouver is a tourist’s dream, with its stunning mountain and ocean scenery. The city is home to one of the largest LGBTQ+ communities in Canada and gay tourists will feel especially at home in the Davie Village and West End areas of downtown with their rainbow crossings and Pride flags abound, at any time of the year! The city does have its own Pride parade, which usually takes place in July.

 

If you would love to visit any of these great LGBTQ+ friendly destinations with your family and friends in 2022, please contact us, we would love to help you plan an unforgettable trip!

 

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The Best Ranch Experiences in North America

Have you always wanted to visit a ranch? We can help you make that dream a reality!

Indulge at a luxury resort ranch, become a real cowboy during a stay at a working ranch or get your teeth stuck into lots of outdoor activities at a guest ranch.

There are ranches all over the western United States and Canada offering amazing experiences for guests with a range of riding abilities amid incredible scenery and open spaces.

Take a look at some of our favourite ranches below;

 

Working Ranches

 

Zapata Ranch, Colorado, USA

Zapata, a Nature Conservancy Preserve, is a 103,000 acre property in central southern Colorado, nearby the incredible White Sand Dunes National Park. The land itself is home to bison, antelope, elk and deer.

Activities offered here include horse-riding, hiking, volleyball, basketball, trap shooting, archery and white-water rafting.

 

Nakiska Ranch, British Columbia, Canada

Nakiska Ranch offers a taste of country living at a real working ranch in an incredible natural setting. The surrounding region of Clearwater offers an environment of quiet seclusion, located approximately half-way between Vancouver and Jasper in the British Columbia interior. Cattle and horses graze peacefully nearby on the border of the beautiful Wells Gray Provincial Park. 

Activities offered here include horse-riding, hiking, flight-seeing, boat and fishing tours, canoe tours and rentals and golf.

 

La Reata, Saskatchewan, Canada

La Reata Ranch is a family-owned working cattle ranch located on 5,000 acres of hilly countryside in the beautiful Saskatchewan River Valley. Get a true ‘hands-on’ experience by grooming and saddling your own horse who you will be paired with throughout your stay.

Activities here includes horse-riding, fishing, boating and a number of authentic ‘cowboy experiences’ which vary by season and may include trail rides, cattle branding (early June) and a cattle drive (late September / early October). You can try your hand at tying a lasso, roping cattle and barrel racing!

 

Guest Ranches

 

Goosewing Ranch, Wyoming, USA

Goosewing Ranch is located just 40 miles northeast of Jackson and offers exceptional views of the Grand Teton Mountains. The valley in which the ranch sits is also host to some of North America’s most spectacular game: elk, moose, mountain sheep, antelope, bear, eagles, geese and cranes.

Activities include trail rides, arena riding, fly fishing, shooting, archery, river tubing, wagon rides, biking, swimming and a hot tub.

 

Dixie Dude Ranch, Texas, USA

Just an hour from San Antonio, nestled in the spectacular Texas Hill Country, Dixie Dude Ranch continues to adhere to its original purpose - a real working ranch where longhorn cattle, Spanish goats, and pigs are raised and where real cowboys work the horses and compete in rodeos.

Activities include horse-riding, swimming, fishing, hiking, hayrides, basketball and volleyball.

 

Sundance Guest Ranch, British Columbia, Canada

Sundance Guest Ranch is located just four hours from Vancouver in a beautiful setting overlooking the Thompson River Valley and is home to a herd of over 80 horses. Friendly wranglers lead daily morning and afternoon trail rides, offering a leisurely way to explore this rugged and untouched land.

Additional facilities include an outdoor pool, tennis courts, hiking trails, volleyball net and games room. A 9-hole golf course and fishing sites are also nearby.

 

Resort Ranches

 

Tanque Verde Ranch, Arizona, USA

Tanque Verde is one of the best-known ranches in Arizona, located on the edge of the Saguaro National Park, near Tucson. One of America’s old cattle and guest ranches, it has now become a luxurious ranch, striving to provide the ultimate ranch experience. Whether it’s the food, activities, or lodging, they take pride in providing an exceptional experience.

Activities include trail rides, arena riding, a breakfast ride, BBQ cookout, swimming pool, hot tub, biking, fishing and a fitness centre.

 

Lone Mountain Ranch, Montana, USA

Lone Mountain’s location, near the Big Sky Ski Resort and Yellowstone National Park have long made it a popular option. The ranch offers a diverse experience with the ranch life as well as exploration of some of the region’s most beautiful natural areas—all amid warm and genuine informal western hospitality.

Summer activities include trail riding, canoeing, biking, hiking, Yellowstone tours and yoga. In winter, take a sleigh ride or go shoe-shoeing.

 

Siwash Lake Wilderness Resort, British Columbia, Canada

The ultimate in luxury, Siwash is surrounded by 80,000 acres of Canada’s cowboy country and is rated among the best guest ranches in North America. It is also a genuine, family-run working ranch who are happy to tailor your experience completely to your own needs.

Summer activities can include horse-riding, trout fishing and canoeing. Winter activities at the ranch include snowshoeing, snowmobiling, ice fishing, ice skating, tobogganing and tubing.

 

This is just a selection of the ranches that are dotted throughout North America. If you would like to visit any of these incredible properties for yourself, or if you have another one in mind, contact us today to get planning a once-in-a-lifetime trip!

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Easter Traditions Around the World

While we may celebrate Easter with a roast lamb dinner and (too many?) chocolate eggs, there are countries across the world that have some rather more quirky traditions to celebrate this holiday …

 

Australia

You’ve seen an Easter chocolate egg and even a chocolate bunny but have you ever seen an Easter chocolate bilby? These small desert dwelling marsupials are an endangered species and chocolatiers across Australia decided to raise awareness of the rabbit-like animals by creating chocolate likenesses over Easter.

 

Greece

In Corfu on Holy Saturday, the locals enjoy the tradition of ‘pot throwing’. People throw pots and other earthenware, usually filled with water, out of their windows. It is thought that the tradition was started to welcome spring, symbolising that new crops will be gathered in new pots.

 

Norway

Easter is often seen as a symbol of new life, but not in Norway! Norwegians spend their Easter break indulging in all things crime, with many new crime novels released during this time and detective dramas shown on television over the weekend. Even the milk cartons carry detective stories on their sides!

 

Bermuda

Everyone gets involved in Easter on the island of Bermuda; locals and visitors alike. The highlight is the Good Friday KiteFest, where people take to the skies with their homemade kites which are usually brightly coloured and have bold geometric designs.

 

Mexico

Easter traditions vary according to the different regions of the country but many celebrate by making papier mache Judases which they then blow up as part of their celebrations using fireworks – similar to our traditions on Guy Fawkes night.

 

United States

For over 130 years, Washington DC has hosted the annual Easter Egg Roll, a race on the South Lawn of the White House which involves rolling a coloured hard-boiled egg with a large serving spoon. In more recent times, the event has expanded and now includes egg hunts, music, sport and crafts.

 

Italy

In Florence, a 350-year-old tradition known as Scoppio del Carro or ‘explosion of the cart’ is celebrated. An ornate cart packed with fireworks is lead through the streets to the Duomo. The Archbishop of Florence then lights a fuse during Easter mass that leads to the cart outside and sparks a lively firework display which is meant to ensure a good harvest.

 

France

Haux, a town in the South of France celebrates Easter Monday by cooking a giant omelette in the town’s main square. The omelette uses more than 15,000 eggs and can feed up to 1,000 people. Apparently, the tradition was started when Napoleon and his army passed through the town and ate a meal of omelettes they enjoyed so much they ordered a ‘giant’ one for the next day.

 

To celebrate Easter a little differently next year, contact us today to get planning your Spring 2022 trip!

aurora borealis

The Best Places to see the Aurora Borealis

The Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis are an incredible natural phenomenon and seeing them is a true bucket list experience. But where are the best places to view these amazing lights? From as close to home as Norway to as far afield as Canada’s Yukon, we have ideas for everyone for the 2021/2022 season!

 

Alaska, USA

Thanks to its location within the Arctic Circle, Fairbanks, Alaska is known as one of the best places in the world to see the Northern Lights. They are most visible between August and May, with the sweet spot between 22:00 and 02:00 every night.

Stay at Bettles Lodge, a fly-in property located in a prime spot under the aurora band of highest frequency activity. Staff here even provide wake up calls when the viewing is at its best so you won’t miss a thing (or any sleep)!

 

Norway

Tromso, Norway is the perfect location to see the Lights closer to home, with the best time to visit between October and March. Visit in January to get the chance to attend the annual Northern Lights Festival too. The town of Tromso itself is a great place to stay, with more pubs and bars per capita than anywhere else in Norway.

Stay at the Thon Hotel, in the centre of the city, for the perfect duality of city excitement and a front row seat to Mother Nature!

 

Sweden

Kiruna is a remote area of Swedish Lapland that offers a more unique Northern Lights experience. The best time to visit is between October and March, although they may be visible a little outside of these months during periods of clear weather.

Lulea is another great option, which offers a host of other winter activities alongside Aurora Borealis viewing, including dog sledding and ice fishing.

 

Finland

The Northern Lights can be viewed up to 200 nights of the year in Finland. As well that, you can also go dog sledding, ice fishing and snowmobiling. Rovaniemi is also the home of Santa so a trip to Finnish Lapland could make a magical Christmas holiday for the family.

To make your trip extra special, spend a night or two at the Arctic TreeHouse Hotel.

 

Iceland

With its otherworldly landscape, geothermal pools and volcano tours, Reykjavik is also a popular place to see the Northern Lights. For the best viewing, visit between September and April.

Spend time at Hotel Katla in the more isolated region of Vik in southern Iceland for an uninterrupted Northern Lights encounter. From here, you can also take snowmobiling tours, play a round of golf at the nearby course, or go for a glacier hike.

 

Yukon, Canada

You cannot get much more remote than the Yukon, in the north west of Canada’s vast expanse. Its location in the Arctic Circle makes an incredible location for viewing the Aurora Borealis from August to April.

Stay in your own cabin at Southern Lakes Resort, which is accessible only by floatplane from Whitehorse. As well as the Northern Lights, go dog sledding with the resort’s own pack of huskies.

 

If you would like to see the lights for yourself, we would love to help you plan a holiday to remember, please do get in touch at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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