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Produced in Dubai Production City

On the road to discovery

Classic Cuba

How to pack incredible encounters and experiences into two weeks



Inspired by nature,

ENHANCED BY LUXURY In the north of the Maldives lies an award-winning sanctuary, JA Manafaru. Nestled amid tropical backdrops are three ultra-luxurious Residences, designed for utmost comfort, and privacy without any compromises. Indulge in bespoke amenities to rejuvenate your mind, body, and soul. Awaken to the glaze of the tropical sun in the Grand Water Suite, with your own infinity pool a few steps outside the bedroom. Relish from expertly cooked dishes served in the coziness of the Royal Island Suite or leisurely watch as the day passes by from ‘The Royal Residence’, as the hues of the clear Maldivian sky shift from their beautiful blues to vivid violets. Your ultimate luxury getaway in the Maldives awaits off the shores of JA Manafaru.

For bookings or more information, visit or email

DOUBLEPOOL VILLAS BY BANYAN TREE Enjoy the tailored hospitality of your own Villa host to top �hu�et�s lu�ury �illa e�perien�e� � �an�tuary for the �enses� �utler ser�i�e �� spa�ious �illas up to � �edroo�s �ri�ate infinity pool � wadin� pool �n �illa �rea�fast Lantern release

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© Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi / Photo by Hufton+Crow. Architect: Jean Nouvel.


SEE HUMANITY IN A NEW LIGHT Louvre Abu Dhabi brings different cultures together to shine light on the shared stories of human creativity. Admission: AED 63, children under 13 free


Welcome note

With the Eid Al Fitr holidays here and schools breaking up for the summer next month, you’ve got a couple more reasons to take a trip. If you haven’t yet stuck a pin in the map, simply turn to page 26 for eight jam-packed pages of inspiration.

Managing Director Victoria Thatcher Editorial Director John Thatcher General Manager David Wade Managing Editor Faye Bartle

From living the high life in a luxury treehouse, to taking over an entire island in the Maldives and climbing aboard Britain’s first new sleeper train in 35 years, get set to have a remarkable summer. Before you get swept away with the season’s travel frenzy, however, we suggest you curl up with our long reads. This month, we take you to on a fantasy trip to Cuba (page 36), on a journey to uncover the authentic charms of Thailand (page 44) and on an adventure off the beaten track in Namibia (page 50). If you prefer to pack in a handful of long weekends, we’ve taken a closer look at some of the options you can tick off your list. A great place to start is with Habiba Azab’s guide to Cairo (page 60), which tells you exactly how to get under the skin of this fast-paced city. Happy travels, Faye Bartle

Content Writers Habiba Azab Sophia Dyer


A stay at Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara in Abu Dhabi on p75

Art Director Kerri Bennett Senior Designer Hiral Kapadia


You'll find Havana's coolest creative types on the rooftop at El del Frente, p36


Disney’s Aladdin was partly shot in the Hashemite Kingdom of southern Jordan, p20


Simple things, like loading your holiday reads onto your tablet instead of carrying the books, can make a big difference to your ecotravel credentials, p22


Don't leave Cairo without tasting Koshari; a unique mixture of rice, macaroni and lentils, all covered with a spicy tomato sauce, p60


Khao Phing Kan, is better known as Christopher Lee's private island in the James Bond film The Man with the Golden Gun, p44

Senior Advertising Manager Mia Cachero Production Manager Muthu Kumar

The filming of Aladdin © Disney


Photography credits: Getty Images and Phocal Media Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission from HOT Media Publishing is strictly prohibited. HOT Media Publishing does not accept liability for omissions or errors in World Traveller. Tel: 00971 4 364 2876 Fax: 00971 4 369 7494

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Find us at… ONLINE FACEBOOK @WorldTravellerME INSTAGRAM @worldtravellerme TWITTER @WTravellerME 5

Discover a Revolutionary Beauty Line! Renew for the journey ahead.

We have something new and exciting for you. Behold the mind-blowing, anti-aging and hydrating facial treatments by an innovative Korean product line, which uses Diamonds. Yes, you read that right! Diamonds are known for their ability to deliver ingredients to the deepest layers of your skin. Want to know the best part? You get to go home with your own box of exquisite products after each treatment. For more information or to make a booking please call +971 4 414 6754.

JW Marriott Marquis Dubai | Sheikh Zayed Road, Business Bay, PO Box 121000, Dubai, UAE |

Credit: The Wild Hotel, Mykonos Š Yiorgos Kordakis

Contents June 2019



regulars 10





This month's go-to places include magical Madagascar, the Windy City of Chicago, and beautiful Langkawi.

From as-seen-onscreen destinations to foodie finds in Hong Kong and hot new hotels, there's plenty to sink your teeth into.

Give your ecocredentials a boost with these easy and practical tips for happy holidays that don't cost the earth.

Head online for exclusive content and, better still, the chance to win a two-night stay at Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara.

Fall in love with the Eiffel Tower views from the Jean-Michel Wilmotte designed Suite Amour at Hotel Lutetia in Paris.













Summer's here and if you're still making plans, we have a whole host of cool ideas to help.

Our Cuba expert, Claire Boobbyer, takes us on a journey through an island rich in culture and endless charm.

Who said Phuket was all beaches and revelry? Nick Redman tries an authentic Thai on a trip full of flavour.

Chris Haslam veers off the tourist trail in Namibia to discover the land as it once was: empty and magical.





weekends 58


The first of our new series highlights the cultural charms of Tunisia's capital.





Our Egypt insider goes beyond the pyramids to reveal the heart of Cairo.

Feel in need of a break? We have a couple more reasons to book a weekend escape.

It's time we sent you packing. Choose your next adventure from our exclusive offers.




R A R E , I N D I G E N O U S , C A P T I V AT I N G . Experience the alluring, golden desert landscape, the captivating silence of nature, the free-roaming wildlife in the reserve, all enjoyed from your private suite and pool. Indulge in a luxurious desert adventure with camel treks, horseback riding, falconry, archery, dune drives and more.



Emily Williams, dnata Travel’s resident globetrotter, reveals the best places to hop on a plane to this month


There's much to love about Chicago in June. Make the most of the moderate weather and enjoy the open-air music, food and art festivals, have a picnic in Grant Park, and browse the unique boutiques and outlet malls. A top spot for foodies, you'll never go hungry here, with a variety of outdoor food festivals taking place throughout the summer, offering dishes from around the world. And of course, you can try the famous deep-dish pizza at any time of year. Highlights 1 Take a helicopter flight at dusk for breathtaking views of the illuminated city skyline with narration by an experienced guide. 2 Art buffs should head to the Art Institute of Chicago to see Manet’s works in the Modern Beauty exhibition running until 8 September. 3 Lose yourself in the Lurie gardens, an oasis of beautiful shrubberies and flowers in the middle of the city.



Amalfi Coast

Fly in to Rome and explore Italy’s ancient past before hopping on a domestic flight to Naples, or driving directly to the dream-like Amalfi Coast. Take in some of the world’s most incredible coastal landscapes, with rugged cliffs towering over boutique beaches, olive gardens and lemon groves. Highlights include Sorrento, which sits atop a cliff with views of Mount Vesuvius, the colourful houses of Positano, and taking a boat trip to the island of Capri. Highlights 1 Learn how to cook traditional Italian food just like mama, at Mamma Agata’s cooking school. 2 Walk the lemon path from Maiori to Minori to see the golden fruits aplenty – a scene iconic of the Amalfi coast. 3 Consider travelling 4km to the bay of Conca de’ Marini where you can discover the Emerald Grotto – a cave with an intense green hue. 11


In beautiful Langkawi, the oncoming wet season brings comfortable temperatures. Plus, it's less crowded. Best accessed from Kuala Lumpur via a domestic flight, this coastal gem is geographically closer to Thailand than mainland Malaysia. There’s much to explore across its 99 islets, with breathtaking beaches interspersed with tropical rainforests and vibrant towns. Base yourself at a luxury resort for the perfect island escape. Highlights 1 Climb aboard a boat and explore the mangrove forest where you'll see eagles flying above head. 2 Take an Instagram snap at new heights: the pedestrianized, 410ft-long Langkawi Sky Bridge offers spectacular views worthy of sharing. 3 Head to the Langkawi night market to pick up a bargain or two and soak up the bustling ambience.




It’s not surprising that the remote Indian Ocean island of Madagascar tends to make the bucket list of nature and wildlife enthusiasts. Here, a high percentage of all plant and animal life, including the endangered lemur, exist nowhere else on Earth. Fly in via African gateways to access its vast stretches of white-sand beaches, rainforests, and even active volcanoes. In June, before the peak tourist season, rainfall is minimal and the flora is striking. Highlights 1 Take a cruise to see humpback whales as they arrive for the summer months. 2 Head South to visit the city of Ambositra, where you will find rich culture including Madagascar’s traditional wood-carving industry. 3 Go camping at Masoala Park, where you can enjoy hiking the trails before bedding down for a night under the stars. 13

Globetrotter JUNE


Be informed, be inspired, be there


Photo: Interni Restaurant Š Margarita Nikitaki

Escape to the charming Savelletri di Fasano, along Italy's Adriatic coast, and be surrounded by ancient olive groves at the newly renovated Masseria Torre Maizza. This stylish Rocco Forte resort in Puglia, set in an original farmhouse dating to the 16th century, has 40 suites with stunning views of the Apulian countryside. We say book the new twobedroom Torre Suite on the top floor of the masseria’s original tower, and live la dolce vita at the pool, 9-hole golf course and private beach club. 15



Hot new places to sleep, dine and unwind

The Wild Hotel Photo by Yiorgos Kordakis

1 The Wild Hotel, Mykonos

If you're a fan of the Paola Navone designed Interni Restaurant in Mykonos, then you'll love the island's new hotel from the very same owner: The Wild Hotel in Kalafati Beach. Set in a natural amphitheatre next to a tiny beachfront village that was once inhabited by brave fishermen known as ‘the wild ones', the hotel has 40 suites and villas inspired by traditional Grecian architecture. It would be a tragedy not to stay. 2 Hotel Hendricks, New York City Just one block from the Fashion District and Bryant Park in the heart of Manhattan, this chic Big Apple bolthole celebrates its official opening this month. With interiors by LA-based designer Marcello Pozzi, each of the 176 guestrooms boast ace views of the Empire State Building and the cityscape. With two rooftop bars and the Latin-infused restaurant Carbonero, it's our new favourite Midtown hotspot. 3 The One Palácio da Anunciada, Lisbon This stunning retreat in exclusive La Baixa is housed within a restored 16th century palace that was once the home of one of Portugal’s most esteemed noble families, Condes de Ericeira. Stay in the Tower Suite for great views, dine on traditional Portuguese fare at Condes de Ericeira Restaurant and seek out the century-old dragon tree in the magnificent gardens.


The Wild Hotel Located on a picturesque cliffside, this design-led retreat has a dreamy infinity pool with views across the Aegean Sea, a private beach, and The Taverna serving classic dishes from the Cyclades Islands.

The pool at The Wild Hotel Photo by Yiorgos Kordakis Bed down in a Deluxe Double

Hotel Hendricks A little touch of luxury amid the hustle and bustle of Midtown, you'll feel like an insider here. Be sure to head to The Zoo rooftop for panoramic views of vibrant Manhattan.

The Zoo rooftop A swimming pool with a view

The One Palácio da Anunciada Staying here places you at the heart of the city's luxury shopping district, and close to the main tourist attractions, such as St George’s Castle and the Santa Justa Lift.

Make a grand entrance


TAKE THE PLUNGE There are many ways to cool off this summer in the waters of Sharjah. With diving, kayaking, deep sea fishing and more to enjoy, it’s time to stretch your sea legs… Kayaking in Kalba

Scuba diving in Khorfakkan

A sunset yoga session in Khorfakkan


lanked by the Arabian Gulf to the west and the Indian Ocean to the east, Sharjah is surrounded by beautiful stretches of coastline that call adventure seekers to test their skills on the water. But you don’t have to be a seasoned watersports fan to take a deeper dive into the emirate’s aquatic allure. Just a short drive east of the city centre (45 minutes to be precise, thanks to the new tunnel along the SharjahKhorfakkan road), is the picturesque bay of Khorfakkan, which is home to several seafront hotels. With a backdrop of the Hajar Mountains, this cosy enclave, which translates to the ‘creek of two jaws’, enjoys cooler mountain temperatures, making it the ideal spot for a summer escape. Visitors can take part in a host of water activities, including scuba diving, and discover a vibrant underwater world. Further along the east coast is the historic fishing village of Kalba, which lays claim to Arabia’s oldest natural mangrove forest. Get back to nature by learning more about the area’s rich ecosystem, which boasts many species of rare, indigenous wildlife, such as the eagle owl, that live amid the protected

Fishing in Khorfakkan

natural beaches. Go kayaking through the mangroves and you can observe some of the rarest bird species in the world that thrive in the forest. Next, take an educational trip to the nearby Kalba Bird of Prey Centre to learn more about our feathered friends. Avid deep sea fishers will find a reason to cast a line on either side of the emirate. On the Arabian Gulf side to the west, you can catch barracuda, kingfish and trevally, while on the east coast you may be in the running for yellowfin tuna, dorado and sailfish.

If you fancy a day of undisturbed relaxation or beach-side activities, the beaches of Sharjah are sure to deliver. Al Khan Beach, near the Al Khan historic area, is a popular spot for active types as well as those who prefer to slow down the pace. Teaming beautiful scenery with clean, safe waters and a range of activities to suit all abilities, step into the gentle surf and feel a wave of calm wash over you as you ponder your next big travel adventure. To find out more, visit 17

Amber at The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong


STARRY BITES To celebrate the reopening of the two Michelin-starred Amber, and the launch of three new culinary concepts – SOMM, Sushi Shikon and Kappo Rin (the latter two are limited to just eight seats) – the Great Gourmet Escape by The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong is sure to tempt you. Stay in a luxurious suite, with a daily bubbly breakfast, seven-course dinner for two at Amber, late check-out and priority restaurant reservations.

FOODIE FLINGS Indulge in these gourmet escapes in Asia's culinary powerhouse: Hong Kong

A TASTE OF THE ARTS Team a love of art and food with the zen-inspired private dining experience inside Zhi-gang Lu’s art piece, The Wonder Room, at The Peninsula Hong Kong. Crafted using meticulous woodworking techniques, the complex egg-shaped structure is a modern take on the traditional Chinese teahouse, and marks the launch of Peninsula's Art in Resonance programme. Available until 21 June.

ON OUR RADAR The updated volume of this coffee table favourite for globetrotters features the best of the popular travel series, with 150 bite-sized itineraries of the world’s most captivating cities. The

New York Times 36 Hours World, published by Taschen,


Not for the faint-hearted,

Anantara Dhigu, Anantara Veli and Naladhu Private Island in Maldives now offer

Starved of sleep? You need the Sleep Collection Journey at One&Only Reethi Rah in Maldives. The four-night escape offers pampering sleep goodies, soothing underwater activities, advice from a sleep trainer and a 90-minute, slumberinducing spa treatment.

IV Therapy. With sessions for jet-lag, immunity anti-ageing and more, vitamins, minerals and amino acids are introduced to the bloodstream via an intravenous drip.

Spotlighting places around the world that have inspired the famous fashion house, the Gucci Courrier collection features patches that reference Gucci's iconic store in Piccadilly, London. Selected pieces are now available at Maison Assouline Dubai.


The Langham Huntington, Pasadena


Follow in the footsteps of silver screen stars by visiting these popular filming spots

What: Saving Mr. Banks, Murder She Wrote, and more Where: The Langham Huntington, Pasadena Filmmakers have long been drawn to the property’s Spanish Mission architecture, elegant gardens, and panoramic view that epitomises the cinematic expression of Southern California. Today, a new tour by filming locations explorer Jared Cowan will guide you on a cinematic excursion of the hotel, with still images, film clips and exclusive anecdotes from industry execs bringing the experience to life. The 90-minute tour ends with cream tea in Lonny Lounge. Get on the scene: Organised by My Valley Pass and The Langham Huntington, Pasadena. Available until 14 July.

What: Aladdin Where: Wadi Rum and Wadi Disi in Jordan Disney’s Aladdin, directed by Guy Ritchie and featuring an all-star cast including Will Smith as the Genie, Mena Massoud as Aladdin and Naomi Scott as Jasmine, was shot between Longcross Studios and Arborfield Studios in the UK and the Hashemite Kingdom of southern Jordan. On location filming took place in the stunning Wadi Rum and Wadi Disi desert, where Lawrence of Arabia was shot, with 150 locals joining the UK crew to help bring the mysterious city of Agrabah to life. Get on the scene: Discover the desert by glamping in a Bedouin style tent at Wadi Rum Night Luxury Camp.

The filming of Aladdin © Disney

Lights, camera, action! For the red-carpet treatment on your doorstep, make sure you're among the first to stay at Paramount Hotel Dubai, which is set to open in Q3 2019 (it'll be the first ever property by Paramount Hotels and Resorts in the Middle East). Located in Business Bay, the design is inspired by Hollywood movie sets, with a screening room, Californiastyle pool deck and more – even the General Manager is known as ‘the Director’. Rooms and suites have cinema-inspired names, with exclusive behind-the-scenes photography from the Paramount Pictures archive on the walls.




Standing tall in the heart of Dubai Marina, featuring incomparable panoramic views of the city, combine the best of all worlds with luxurious accommodation, three contemporary dining destinations and a blissful caravanserai-inspired, Saray Spa.


The Knowledge HOW TO...

How to holiday the sustainable way Give your eco-credentials a boost with these tips for happy holidays that don’t cost the earth BEFORE YOU GO Choose your destination wisely. “Travelling affects the environment so explore your transportation options and, wherever possible, try to minimise your pollution,” says Randy Durband, CEO of The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC). Remember, you don’t always need to travel far and wide to have a brilliant break. There are many destinations in and around the Middle East, at which a variety of rich travel experiences await. Do you research. “Once you have decided on your destination, check for hotels and resorts that have an active sustainability programme or eco-friendly initiatives,” says Randy. If the hotel has been certified by a GSTC accredited body, it means it has passed impartial sustainability checks. You can also look into the eco experiences and activities on offer. JA Manafaru in Maldives, for instance, offers a House Reef Cleaning snorkelling experience that invites guests to help collect foreign objects from the reefs. Atlantis, The Palm in Dubai shines a light on cultivating marine wildlife, most recently releasing 15 baby sharks into the Gulf. Pack lightly. “One’s carbon footprint includes the amount of weight we carry,” says Randy. Make an effort to streamline your suitcase as much as possible by packing mindfully. Simple steps can make difference, such as loading your holiday reads onto your tablet instead of carrying the physical books. Even the little things will count, such as taking your new toothbrush out of its plastic wrapper ahead of your trip, so you’re saving space and avoiding throwing away rubbish at your destination, where you may not have access to recycling facilities. 22

WHILE YOU’RE THERE Shop consciously. “Don’t haggle for the lowest price with a vendor who makes in a week what you spend on one coffee,” says Randy. Although it may be tempting to battle it out for a bargain, be mindful that what may seem like little money to you could mean a lot to them. You should also make sure that your souvenirs don’t contain coral, shells or wood products harvested from unsustainable forests. Swot up on animal rights. “As it comes down to a matter of opinion, it's not easy to state which animal attractions are ethical, but you should always do your research,” says Randy. “A good source to learn about the issues surrounding this topic is animondial. com.” Although it may be cool to take a picture riding an elephant, for example, consider how these animals are being treated before supporting it with your money. Look into volunteering at an animal sanctuary, where you’ll get to

meet animals up close in a safe and ethical way. Be a responsible guest. “Be conscious of your destination’s environmental challenges,” says Randy. “For example, limit water usage when visiting desert destinations.” Opting for showers over baths, bringing your own reusable water bottle to refill and making an effort to reuse your towels are all easy ways to consume less. If everyone makes a small effort, it combines to make a big difference.

WHEN YOU’RE HOME Share the good stuff. “Write favourable online reviews about hotels and attractions that operate sustainably,” says Randy. You can influence others to make mindful holiday choices through the photos you share and the stories you tell. Keep learning and spreading awareness about how good it feels to holiday with a conscience.


Rise and shine

*Terms and conditions apply.

Get set for a summer full of adventure at this family-friendly resort in Fujairah

Tucked away between the Indian Ocean and the Al Hajar mountains, natural beauty is a given at Le Méridien Al Aqah Beach Resort, but there’s more to this Fujairah favourite than meets the eye. On top of sun, sea and sand, this popular holiday spot is a hub for thrill-seekers, with everything from scuba diving to fly fishing, abseiling and zip lining on offer. Drive here from Dubai and you’ll only need to endure a 90-minute chorus of “are we nearly there yet?” until you’re at the centre of all the action. Upon arrival, check into a spacious Superior Ocean View Room for a tranquil view of the swimming pool and beach. Or, for larger broods, The Penthouse Bedroom Suite has more than enough space for six people to bed down in style. Head to the breakfast buffet where the aroma of freshly roasted coffee will get you into active mode, pronto. Towel in hand, hot step it to Baywatch

village, which hosts the largest freeform swimming pool on the emirate’s East Coast. After a morning splashing about, kids aged four to 16 can join the Le Meridien Family Club, which has a non-stop line-up of activities and entertainment. Meanwhile, mum and dad can check into Al Aqah Spa for a relaxing couples’ massage followed by a dip in the plunge pool. Next, for some adrenaline-pumping family fun, get warmed up for the resort’s own obstacle course, the Al Aqah Challenge. Featuring the firstof-its-kind rope course tower on the

East Coast, you can take part in five activities under the watchful eye of the expert instructors. From zooming through the air on the zip lines to scaling the climbing wall, it’s sure to bring out your competitive side. After a jam-packed day, your appetite will surely be reaching a peak. As luck would have it, the resort is home to eight dining venues. Sink your teeth into delicious grills at the beachfront Gonu, or head to Views Restaurant for an east-meets-west fusion buffet and live music. Alternatively, check out hot new foodie spot Taste, which serves flavourful Indian and Thai food. What’s more, during the summer, you can enjoy the full Al Aqah experience for less, with Marriott Bonvoy members saving up to 25% and non-members receiving 15% off everything until 25 September*. To find out more, visit 23

Wake up to dazzling sea views

A taste for luxury


Combine a love of food and travel at this Thai-inspired resort in Dubai, where bespoke dining experiences and summer savings make it a trip to remember

n his Meditations on Gastronomy, philosopher Jean Brillat-Savarin boldly said, “The discovery of a new dish does more for the happiness of the human race than the discovery of a star.” With cutlery in place of a telescope, Anantara The Palm Dubai Resort promises to put a smile on your face with its delicious line-up of memorable dining experiences. Famous for its over-water villas, this luxurious resort occupies a premium spot on the East Crescent of Palm Jumeirah, 24

delivering an idyllic beach experience that’s within easy reach of the bright lights of the big city. Currently, you can save up to 30% on a One Bedroom Over Water Villa or a One Bedroom Beach Pool Villa, complete with a daily buffet breakfast for two. Once you’ve found your feet, let the culinary team whisk you off on a gastronomic journey like no other. At the top of the wish list is the bespoke Dining by Design experience, which takes place on a secluded slice of sand, offering a curated collection

of menus to pick from. Or, for a true taste of culinary extravagance, you can collaborate with a personal chef to tailor a fine feast that ticks all the boxes. Candles set the mood for this exclusive romantic meal for two while the sea laps the shore, providing the ultimate tranquil soundtrack. A butler is on hand during the meal to tend to any request you may have. After a day swimming in lagoon, or unwinding at your private pool, perhaps you’re in the mood for a lighter evening

WORLD TRAVELLER X ANANTARA THE PALM DUBAI RESORT meal? Anantara’s Sunset Dining experience allows just that. Relish the handpicked selection of Mediterranean antipasti, including international cured meats and fine cheeses, as the amber and golden hues of the sunset provide a blissful ambience. It’s priced at Dhs600 per couple for antipasti, dessert and a bottle of grape. Those with exotic tastes can immerse themselves in Anantara’s Thai heritage by taking a cooking class at Spice Spoons. This richly interactive, step-by-step cooking experience will teach you how to make an array of authentic Thai dishes. Not only can you enjoy your creations for lunch, but you can take your new skill back home with you as a lasting memory of your holiday. Once your appetite is satisfied, you can round off your trip by trying some of the non-foodie experiences on offer. Watersports abound with waterskiing, kayaking and wakeboarding fit for thrillseekers. Those seeking a more serene experience out at sea can try paddle boarding or fishing. If you’re in the mood to be pampered, you can indulge with a traditional hammam or a tension-busting massage. However you prefer to spend your down time, this tropical paradise is a magnet for all those with good taste.

Join a Spice Spoons cooking class

To find out more, call +971 4 567 8888 or visit The Dining by Design experience takes place on a secluded stretch of sand 25


Cool ideas for summer Still sweating over your plans for the summer? Fear not, we have the answers. Lots of them. Whether you fancy a drop in temperature, endless sunshine or simply staying put to take advantage of amazing hotel deals, we'll take you there




New Zealand

Things don't get much cooler than Iceland's soaring glaciers, and summer (when it's warmer and sunny) is the best time to explore their mighty magnificence. Do so while strapped into a snowmobile.

The seasons are flipped below the equator so while we're sweltering, New Zealanders are throwing on their thermals and hitting the slopes. Join them in the North Island and you can ski on an active volcano at Mt Ruapehu.



You don't have to go to extremes to enjoy cooler climes. Sydney is a brilliant city all year round, and its temperate winter is perfect for discovering it on foot and via ferry.

The country's original Ice Hotel is rebuilt every winter, yet its younger sibling, Ice Hotel365, is a 20-room permanent palace of ice – and a cooling -5°C inside.

St Petersberg


Enjoy endless sunshine (literally)




As the official hometown of Santa Claus, you'd expect the beautiful wilderness of Finland's Rovaniemi to be abuzz at Christmas, but its appeal in summer is equally magical: 24hr daylight, thanks to its position on the Arctic Circle. Plenty of time to pack the likes of horseback riding and husky rides into your day – or even a trip to see Santa, who's always on duty here. An archipelago that's halfway between Norway and the North Pole, Svalbard is actually home to more polar bears than humans – and the world's northernmost sushi restaurant. Its polar summer means it's in daylight until the end of September, a time when its fjords are flooded by the arrival of whales, a sight best observed by kayak. You don't have to head somewhere remote to bask in the glow of endless daylight. During the so-named White Nights of summer (mid-June is the peak), the sun never truly sets on St Petersberg – cue a time for myriad festivals, concerts and alfreso parties.


3 27


Take your childhood dreams to the next level by bedding down inside these luxury treehouses designed especially for grown-ups. Set amid lush rainforest, Keemala in Phuket (pictured), has seven treehouses, as well as the cleverly designed Bird's Nest Pool Villas, so you can take a dip amid the branches. For a touch of Maldives magic, the Skyhouse with Bubble villa at Amilla Fushi calls with its infinity pool extended over the treetops and the bubble itself housing a telescope, daybed, and removable roof for stargazing. If you're game for something a bit more rustic, La Cabane en L’Air in France is a collection of some 200 treehouses spread across the country. We rate the Cabane Spa Vintage treehouse in Aquitaine, which wows with its pink vintage car on the terrace and breathtaking views of the Garonne Valley.



Beat the crowds to see one of these in-the-know places Opposite: A Bird's Nest Pool Villa, Keemala in Phuket This page, clockwise from top: Aso Rock, Abuja; Tashkent; Sochi

ABUJA, NIGERIA With Emirates launching three additional flights each week from the beginning of June, it has never been easier to get from Dubai to Nigeria’s capital city and seat of political power. Abuja runs at a different pace to Lagos, with lots to do outdoors. Take time out to visit the imposing Aso Rock before exploring the many green spaces, such as Millennium Park, which was designed by world-renowned architect Manfredi Nicoletti. TASHKENT, UZBEKISTAN The capital and largest city of Uzbekistan, Tashkent is a hotspot for culture buffs, with more than 2,200 years of history and almost 50 museums to discover. Start by paying a trip to the State Museum of History of Uzbekistan, one of the oldest museums in Central Asia with more than 300,000 exhibits. Next, embark on an architecture tour to take in the beautiful mosques, madrassahs and skyscrapers. There are five flights a week from Dubai, via Flydubai – a route that launched in March this year. SOCHI, RUSSIA This Black Sea city, which hosted the 2014 Winter Olympics and Paralympics, teams stunning scenery with culture thanks to its mountainous coastline and historical sites. Take a peek inside Stalin’s Dacha, the historic summer residence of Joseph Stalin, and shop the famous fruit markets, stopping to taste a local delicacy: Russian Lavash (a baked flatbread) with a warm cup of tea. Flydubai will whizz you here from Dubai from 7 June. 29


Its name may not roll of the tongue (O, da! Eda!, which translates to English as Oh, yes! That's food!) but this annual Moscow festival (June 2-28) promises to serve up the whole gastronomic panorama of Moscow, giving guests the opportunity to sample dishes from start-ups to established restaurants and chefs of the calibre of Vladimir Mukhin. Nordic cuisine still commands a seat at the top table of on trend gastronomic fare and Copenhagen Cooking is one of the biggest food festivals in Northern Europe. For ten days from 23 August you can gorge on a smörgåsbord of Nordic dishes cooked up by stellar name chefs. The northeasternmost US state of Maine is famous for its succulent lobsters, so much so that there's a dedicated festival - Maine Lobster Festival, 31 July to 4 August – at which 19,000 pounds of the coveted crustaceans are cooked up. If you're partial to a lobster roll, this is where you can chow down on the ultimate grilled sandwich.



Try out a soon-to-be family favourite GET QUEUING... FOR STAR WARS: GALAXY'S EDGE Disney splashed a sum that was out of this galaxy to land the Star Wars franchise, and continues to invest heavily in it. Before the finale to the original series of movies drops in December, Star Wars fans have long anticipated the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, a 14-acre Star Wars land added to both Disneyland in California (open now) and Disney World in Florida (opening in the fall), both of which reportedly cost a cool $1 billion to build. Rides include Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run, which puts riders at the control of Han Solo's legendary ship, and the forthcoming Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, an interactive battle against the First Order. May the force be with you. ALL ABOARD... BRITAIN'S FIRST NEW SLEEPER TRAIN IN 35 YEARS With the idea to offer a hotel on wheels, the new Caledonian Sleeper service, which hits the tracks from London to Edinburgh and Glasgow, is the first time you can spend the night in a double bed on a UK railway. Departing London a little before midnight, your pyjama-clad clan can bed down in an en-suite Caledonian Double and wake in Scotland to Highland porridge with honey for breakfast. Adventure awaits. GO WILD... WITH BEAR GRYLLS Before The Bear Grylls Survival Academy opens on Ras Al Khaimah's Jebel Jais next year, you'll have to travel to the UK or US to partake of his exhilarating adventure courses, designed for fathers and sons, and mothers and daughters alike. The Primal Survival Family Adventure teaches myriad survival skills as you cross testing terrain for 24hrs. This is what happens when you call a child Bear.

Left: Mikkeller & Friends, Copenhagen Inset: Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge Š Disney 31

RECONNECT WITH YOURSELF AND OTHERS Feeling overwhelmed with life? Push the reset button in the lush green jungle of Lipa in the Philippines, where The Farm at San Benito is offering a new mental health programme for those who are affected by depression, stress, and anxiety. A 90-minute drive south of Manila, this holistic medical wellness resort has a team of professionals on hand to help rid you of unwanted thoughts. Expect psychotherapy sessions, hydrotherapy and daily movement activities, including mandala flower arrangement, with nourishing homegrown vegan food aplenty. Yoga buffs can practise their sun salutations at Samujana in Koh Samui, which promises to refresh body and mind with its health and wellbeing holidays. Each of the villas have a private infinity pool for moments of reflection, and little touches make it easy to kick-start a healthier lifestyle,

with yoga mats in the living room, nutritious snacks in the mini-bar, meditation apps on the in-room mobile, and a delicious detox menu to dine from. You can book a one-, two- or three-day programme that'll hook you up with healthy meals, yoga sessions, pampering spa treatments and more. If being a master in the kitchen feeds your soul, you can take time out to learn some culinary skills at Sauce by The

Sauce by The Langham

Throw caution to the wind The white sands, swaying coconut palms, and glistening waters of the Indian Ocean can be all yours at Naladhu Private Island Maldives, which is now available for private takeovers. Here, you and your entourage (there are 20 houses dotted across the island) can craft a tailor-made stay, with everything from snorkelling with sharks to picnics on the sandbanks just a finger click away.



Langham, the new informal cookery school at the five-star hotel in London. There are classes to suit all confidence levels and abilities, including Building Blocks for enthusiastic home cooks, which will put you through you paces by honing your knife skills, teaching you how to make fresh pasta, and helping you learn the basics of preparing stocks and sauces. With up to 12 people per class, it's a great way to meet likeminded foodies, while focusing on you.




To the desert. Channel your inner David Attenborough by getting an up-close view of indigenous wildlife, such as Arabian oryx and gazelles, albeit from the comfort of your temperaturecontrolled infinity pool, at Al Maha, a Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa, Dubai. An enduring favourite for a traditional Arabian experience, the resort is nestled amid the golden dunes of Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve.


To the city. If it's sweeping views of the skyline you're after, the new voco Dubai more than delivers. Situated in the heart of all the action on Sheikh Zayed Road, each of the rooms have floor-to-ceiling panoramic windows, so you can gaze at the city in all its glory.

3 Clockwise from top: Al Maha, a Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa, Dubai; voco Dubai; JA Hatta Fort Hotel; Mandarin Oriental Jumeira, Dubai

To the sea. If you've already stayed your way around Palm Jumeirah, it may be time to nudge yourself along the coast a little to Mandarin Oriental Jumeira, Dubai – the emirate's closest beachfront resort to Downtown Dubai. Hit the sand for an early morning sunbathing session, dine overlooking the sea at The Bay and be pampered in the spa – just be sure to request a room with a sea view.


To the mountains. A firm family favourite, JA Hatta Fort Hotel is a happy hideaway set against the stunning backdrop of the Al Hajar Mountains. There are plenty of ways to get active here, from exploring the rugged bike trails, to hiking in the mountains, whizzing down the zip line and kayaking in the lakes. You'll feel a world away. 33 Your passport to the Middle East's first fully bookable travel inspiration website

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CUBA This page: A dapper gent with outsized cigar poses in front of Havana's traditional architecture Opposite: Vintage pink American convertible



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ig, B . es d ad a an ur c a ls f o ng s, sa ll in y byer i l b d b a o m ar ... cru illbo themre Bo ality h b n it re ai s w nary e see rt Cl m a n ea sio tio ’v pe an volu you t ex he dr m t le l — re nia ars, hes Now ake o l c g Co t ci bea sies. to m fa dy nta ow h san el fa you v tra how s 37

ith its cigar-smoking rebels, sparkling seas, vintage vehicles, potent music, and locals who survive on their wits and humour, Cuba will almost certainly steal your heart. But like so many seducers, this tropical island, shaded a Socialist red on the map, is complicated. It's at once gorgeous and falling apart; ridiculously rich in culture, but short on basic goods and common conveniences. (Cuba's not for you if you need Instagram connection 24/7; or if you don't handle train cancellations well; or if you come over shaky when you can't find a breakfast latte with soya milk.) The island's fairly large and packs in a lot of encounters and experiences, so you'll need two weeks to do it justice. For us, that means seeing the highlights and a bit more: the capital Havana; lush ViĂąales Valley; Trinidad and Santiago cities; and the distant east - jungly Oriente is Cuba's best-kept secret and you won't regret stretching your time. Anxious about bypassing urbane Santa Clara and coastal Cienfuegos towns? You'll get more colonial grandeur and better beaches on the route mapped out here. Delays and safety concerns make domestic flights a bad idea and car hire is expensive and convoluted. Instead, do as most travellers do and take cross-country coaches or hire a car and driver. Pack patience, flexibility, your sense of humour and your glad rags. Cuba's infectious magic will knock you sideways. From cutting-edge art and hip-swivelling music to wild beaches, colonial hotspots and brilliant B&Bs, here's how to pack it all in...

DAYS 1-3


Havana is utterly beautiful. Not quite the starlet she once was, perhaps, but her 500-year-old bone structure is still there, in primped-up plazas and swanky mansions. The city is Cuba's political and cultural capital and, more prosaically, has the biggest airport for arrivals. Most flights touch down in time for dinner and drinks, and you'd be nuts not to take advantage. From the airport, Havana is 40 minutes by taxi via a flipbook of socialist billboards. Few places on Earth offer stays in such splendour for such great value - think Spanish colonial romance 38

These pages, clockwise from above: Mural of revolutionary Che Guevara in Plaza de la Revolution, Havana; Cuban local in traditionally colourful dress with hand-rolled cigar; fishing off the Malecon at sunset; a dish of fried octopus


meets Art Deco. Havana is a city on the up, and you'll find its coolest creative types on the rooftop at El del Frente (O'Reilly 303). Come and dine alfresco, then slip into speakeasy-feel Cero Habana (Aguiar 209). Prefer somewhere more established? Anyone with a guidebook will know about Ernest Hemingway's favourite haunts. By all means take a stool at his favoured spot, El Floridita (Obispo 557), and drink in the long, classy lounge and live music along with your drink. But avoid La Bodeguita del Medio (Empedrado 207), which does the city's worst Mojito. The plundered loot of Spain's Latin American empire was funnelled through Havana for more than 200 years, via the so-called treasure fleets. And the silver cascading through the Atlantic-facing city needed protection — with forts mostly built by African slaves — to defy those pirates of the Caribbean. Havana's wealth was later bolstered by sugar exports, and profits were invested in handsome bricks and mortar. Now those Old Havana streets are made for walking, between UNESCO-protected Baroque churches, bougainvillea-draped portals, lofty mansions, muscular fortresses and kerbside cafés. The four main plazas — Catedral, Armas, Vieja and San Francisco — are highlights. Devote time to the plush presidential-palaceturned-Museum of the Revolution, which charts Cuba's history of rebellion. In the Museum of Fine Arts, take a guided tour of the Cuban collection (make for the avant-garde and contemporary art floors). Artsy types can go further with a curator-guide (Sussette Martínez;, visiting artists' home-studios: maybe see a Cadillac converted into a submarine, or a Che Guevara 'Turin' shroud. Wherever you're going, grab a rickshawstyle bicycle taxi for speed. Havana's almendrón taxi system — classic cars running fixed routes — has disintegrated somewhat. Now, you'll pay $6-$9 for taxis for journeys of up to 4km. The hop-on-hop-off circulating red tourist bus is for people with plenty of time. Shimmy along for matinee rumba at tight, sweaty and untouristy El Jelengue de Areito in Centro Habana, a dilapidated residential zone. After dinner, look out for the green light bulb on Calle 11 marking under-the-radar La Casa de la Bombilla Verde, to hear live nueva trova 39

CUBA These pages: ViĂąales Valley in the Sierra de los Ă“rganos mountains



music. Your next address is the city's Fábrica de Arte Cubano for challenging photography, singer-songwriters, avant-garde dance and the chance to mingle with Cuban entrepreneurs. Do this lot and you'll have captured Cuba's political, social and cultural zeitgeist. You can sleep when you get home. Take the strain off your feet on your last day in Havana and make your way through Centro by bicycle taxi for a window onto street life — having first bought a cigar factory ticket, available from any hotel. The H Upmann Factory tour reveals one of the world's most aromatic and elaborate crafts. Buy cigars from official 'Habanos' stores only (on the street, you might get fakes made of dried banana). If cigars aren't your bag, try a farmto-table cooking class at organic paradise Finca Tungasuk (tungasuk. com) in buried-in-the-bushes Caimito, 40 minutes from Havana. Or make like Rihanna in Havana and hire a Cadillac with driver ( Explore the two castles defending the Bay of Havana, then motor to the leafy, artsy El Vedado district, home to weddingcake mansions, top paladares (private restaurants), and music venues. After snapping the monumental Plaza de la Revolución, step into Christopher Columbus Cemetery for the largest communion of marble angels in Latin America (see a husband's devotion embodied in bronze, stone and Lalique glass at Catalina Lasa's tomb). In the golden hour before sunset, cruise up and down Havana's seaside boulevard, the Malecón, with its hymn to fabulous, colourful architectural eclecticism Toast your time in Havana with a drink on the roof of the Kempinski hotel; you'll have a great view of curlicued motifs on theatres and museums. Partygoers should end the night dancing salsa in front of a live band at alfresco Club 1830. In the Old Town, music-crawl the lounges of Calle Obispo: La Lluvia de Oro is a winner for its old-time looks and live bands.

DAYS 4-5


Rise early for Víazul's 9am coach to Viñales, 180km west of Havana. You'll want as much time as transport allows


in the town and its lush valley. UNESCOprotected Viñales Valley is a vision of velvet-green mountains rising from palms, tobacco plants and ruddy red soil tilled by oxen and plough. Besides the country air, its greatest draws are the organic food, horse-riding and rockclimbing. And you'll see much better valley sights than those tipped in the guidebooks on a walk with a guide from the Visitors' Centre (close to Hotel Los Jazmines; 8.30am-5pm). Otherwise, stroll around a private mogote with farmer Omar from Casa Omar y Mayra (, or ask your B&B to help you hire horses for a guided ride to the unspoilt Valley of Silence. Swap valley sunsets the next day for tangerine-coloured starfish at Cayo Jutías, a sparkling white beach that's an easy day-trip with one of the travel agencies on the small main strip. Or hire a taxi to take you to the tobacco farm of Hector Luis Prieto (hectorfinca. com). He does a superb tour and creole lunch for a bargain price. The insatiable could squeeze in both by private taxi.

DAYS 6-7


There's no quick fix to reach Trinidad, but it's a must-visit for its pistachio-and cinnamon-coloured homes, dreamy palaces, and coppery horses ridden by mangón (very good-looking) cowboys trotting through town. Víazul's daily bus from Viñales takes nine-and-ahalf hours (or rent a car). But if you're prepared for a little organised chaos, you can keep it to six or seven hours by taking collective taxis. Vintage vehicles pick up passengers from Viñales B&Bs and drive them to a highway restaurant; you could then be shifted to another vehicle and redirected to Trinidad. It 41


DAYS 8-10


Santiago is steeped in history, humidity and a rocking music scene. With African, Haitian and Jamaican roots, its vibe is more Caribbean than Havana's. To get there from Trinidad, don't spend a day on Víazul's direct route: (12hr 50min); instead take a $50 taxi to Sancti Spíritus (about one hour north) and catch the 3.10pm bus or an overnighter (9.10pm and 1.50am; 10hr 20min). Don't pack all the sights into your first day — plan a siesta, breaks on the Casa Granda hotel terrace or coffee at museum café Casa Dranguet. Explore highlights of the 500-year-old historic core on foot: the first governor's mansion and the Moncada Museum, charting Fidel Castro's rise to power. Start the night at funky alfresco chess


MAGUANA IS THE CUTEST BEACH CORNER IN CUBA. IF YOU SQUEEZED IN A DIP IN THE AREA'S GLASSY RIVER OF HONEY, LEGEND SAYS YOU'LL RETURN TO BARACOA café, Café Ajedrez, with its live bands, followed by evening ensembles at Casa de la Trova, and a storming end-ofnight salsa shiver at Bar Claqueta. Next day, swap city for country and hire a car and driver through Out of the Box ( Plan to take in glorious Avenida Manduley mansions in the Vista Alegre district, Fidel Castro's tomb at magnificent marble Santa Ifigenia Cemetery, and impressive UNESCO-protected El Morro Castle at the mouth of Santiago Bay. Time your visit for the sunset cannon-firing ceremony. Fancy carnival? Come in July, prepared for stifling temperatures.

DAYS 11-14


Baracoa is spellbinding. Some of the world's smallest species of bird, frog and bat live here, as does the rainbowcoloured hyper-local natural beauty the polymita snail. These small wonders inhabit the coconut palms, cocoa trees, coffee bushes and pine forests of this Atlantic region. When Christopher Columbus first glimpsed the wild beaches and green slopes in 1492, he wrote there was 'so much beauty that

I can find no words to describe it'. A Víazul bus from Santiago at 7.40am can get you to this tropical enclave in time for lunch. Climb the hill to Hotel El Castillo for lush views of anvil-flat mountain El Yunque, and map out the following days' plans. For wild beach exploration, head south, going off-piste on hired bikes ( or in a cab ($30 return). At Manglito Beach, sink into an Adirondack chair with a drink, and order fresh seafood from Tato's food shack. Hike up through palms the next day to El Yunque's summit. The views of the nibbled Atlantic coastline — a jade-green forest hemline against a peacock-blue sea — are awesome. After that you'll want relaxation. You can find it at Maguana, the cutest beach corner in Cuba, a rugged 22km north of Baracoa. Then grit your teeth, book a cab to Baracoa's bus station, and catch the 1pm coach all the way back to Havana (17hr 30min). If you squeezed in a dip in the area's glassy River of Honey, legend says you'll return to Baracoa. You know you will. Inspired to travel? To book a trip, call +971 4 316 6666 or visit

Credit: The Sunday Times Travel Magazine/ News Licensing

sounds like a jumbled plan, but go with it you'll never be stranded in Cuba. Trinidad was central to Cuba's 19thcentury sugar boom, and its wealthy sugar barons enshrined egos in stone: palaces embellished with all the finest furniture, frescoes and chandeliers money could buy. You can sleep amid the grandeur at some of the small city's finest homes. The next day, gain full immersion by just wandering. A cluster of music venues, all within a stone’s throw of each other, makes flirting with each one a cinch. Top dazzler is Casa de la Trova, a traditional colonial home with live bands and a patio for dancing. If you know the moves, wait at the edge for a partner to approach. If you're a learner, standby, too. It's the only way to improve and Cubans are accommodating. Morning light spills over Trinidad in a golden sheen. Photographer Julio Muñoz has been capturing life there for years. His easy manner and contacts make his street-photography tour a nuanced introduction beyond the city's UNESCO-protected chocolate-box façade. Later, climb the observation tower at the Cantero Palace history museum, where a central fountain once sprinkled eau de cologne for the ladies and spirits for society gents. Look out for the faces of Trinidad's elderly folk exquisitely carved into abandoned door pieces at the gallery of Lázaro Niebla Castro.

These pages, from left: Maguana Beach, Baracoa; a Cuban bass player heads to a gig 43

INDONESIA This page: The pool at Amanpuri



Blazing curries, festivals sizzling with street life, buildings as pretty as patisserie — who said Phuket was all beaches and revelry? Nick Redman tries an authentic Thai omewhere I stopped in at a café laced with bougainvillea and open to a street that smelt of washing powder and incense. I was heading to fill my face at Naka night market, beyond Phuket Town, but the server wiping the laminated pink tablecloths pulled me in with her grin. Her doughnuts, just shaken from the pan and billowing steam, sealed the deal: puffs of hot, sweet, delicious air. With a tankard of sugar-laced iced tea, I must have consumed 2,000 calories — and I still hadn't had dinner. When I eventually located it, Naka market was a welcome sight. Sweetpotato balls skittered around deep pans of oil, trailing bubbles, while skewered squids the colour of tangerines spat in lines over orange coals. Roe-topped sushi glistened like fat pink brooches, drawing Thai families and backpackers alike into a mild scrum. And that, as they say, was just for starters. I'd come to Phuket, essentially, for a beach holiday, despite knowing that Thai purists often roll their eyes at the mention of the name: overdeveloped, overpriced, basically just over, as tinier idylls tempt more intrepid travellers. Sure, in places, it's all gone a bit Patong, the brazen resort of R-rated stage shows. And yet, in a week, I found an island of rare, delicious flavours: magnificent wildlife, surreal landscapes and blissful solitude. All that and great food. It was Aunt Yai and Uncle Nun who'd whetted my appetite, a Thai couple who welcomed me into their kitchen in the shadow of a massive banyan tree by the sea. It looked reassuringly traditional


— even the roof was tin, the kind you see in so many fishing villages. But enjoying their authentic southern Thai cooking hadn't entailed a showerless, sleepless week in a hammock on some Alex-Garland-scary remote sands. Quite the opposite — they were inhouse at Rosewood Phuket, the recently opened resort I was staying in. Wanting to have a foot in the real world, not a perimeter fence between, the hotel had talent-scouted around and found their future chefs stirring up a storm in a casual joint loved by the neighbourhood. And now here they were, working their magic for a global guest list. It was so much more credible than importing some highly paid international type with an eye for culinary appropriation. I liked the setting, Emerald Bay, and I also liked the Rosewood: a jumble of Modernist-cubic pavilion residences knee-deep in jasmine and hibiscus, smartly furnished with standing mirrors in ebony-tone frames, drum lampshades and stained dark floorboards.

This was, of course, a globally recognisable canvas, which only served to counterpoint the appeal of Uncle Nun and Aunt Yai's homegrown cuisine. Gesturing enthusiastically, they singled out ingredients for their dishes — currently lurking in the slate-green stillness of their pond. Here a grouper, there a sea bass and behind, in the corner, a few scuttling blue crabs. A least one of these would soon reappear in my gaeng poo: a blazing regional curry speciality with gossamer-fine noodles brought steaming to my table under a hazy moon. Their tour de force was moo hong, a southern Thai favourite you might call the signature dish of Phuket. After hours of simmering in a treacly mix of coriander root, star anise, soy sauce, palm sugar and peppercorn, it was cinnamon-sweet and sludgy-soft, a tinglingly delicious experience I don't recall from the menu at my nearest Thai back home. Some have linked its flavour, soy in particular, to Chinese influences — most likely imparted by settlers, who arrived in droves in the 19th-century, when the Phuket tin industry was growing to meet American canning demands. I'd tried the curry already, in Phuket Town, my first port of call after landing, checking in at 2 Rooms, a charming '30s-style side-alley lodge with a gramophone and teak-look bed. Woven with multicultural threads, the island's informal capital is surely its most underrated attraction. Despite exuding a modern, urban feel in places, at its historic heart it was good enough to eat, in every respect. Raya restaurant was the kind of place you wish would open up on your 45


street, with its giant ceiling fans, cool green walls and epic menu. That said, its gaeng poo was the main event, milkily innocuous to behold at first, but flaring suddenly on the tongue and wonderfully bitter with turmeric. Another day I inhaled the heritage of ancient Muslim traders: the sight of Yameay Mosque with its emerald green domes; the aroma of a chicken roti at Abdul Murtabak's place, a simple institution lined with framed engravings of Mecca. Lock Tien, Phuket Town's local-food centre, did delicious Hokkien (as in, fried) noodles — another Sino-influence. And as my time in town coincided with Chinese New Year, I watched fireworks crackle in the night above teeming, steaming street markets dispensing dumplings and grilled seafood. For afters, the grid streets delivered a visual feast of dwellings, with work spaces at ground level known as shophouses. The result of Portuguese and Chinese colonial currents merging, they displayed stunning pastel-painted facades. But the centre was no museum piece. Local hipsters were on hand, drinking lattes in blond-wood places with names like Bookhemian and The Shelter Coffee — a welcome hit of real-life modern Phuket. After this, I was set for more immersion in recipes and rituals. The finale to my barbecued-prawn dinner at the Anantara Layan Phuket Resort wasn't any old ice cream, but a bowl of scoops gently flavoured with Thai basil. As Phuket moments go, it was lovely, although ultimately it lost out to the magnificent tallow glow on the horizon as the day drained away. Everything looked enchanted, down to the mysterious forested island in the bay, amid the coffee-cream swirls of low-tide sands. Time for a reality check: next day was market day in Patong, a 25-minute drive south for me, in the company of the resort chef, Hong. Like Rosewood, Anantara seemed adept at dissolving the barrier between tourists and Thais, inviting them to accompany Hong to busy Banzaan Fresh Market for produce to make into dishes with a Phuket-flavoured twist, back in her kitchen. At the entrance, ready-mix trios of fresh beansprouts, tofu and chives were piled in bundles, the ingredients of pad Thai. So far, so Spinny's. But as we moved deeper, things



grew more visceral, with the shattering crack of cleavers on chicken feet, the sight of muddy shrimp paste in bags and the smell of fish-gut marinade, months old, prepared to flavour southern curries. Hong advised against even touching some of the fish to which Western digestive systems might well be unaccustomed. 'We have bacteria. We grow up on this,' she said, while describing one lurid specimen. 'If you eat, maybe you poo poo.' I rubbed pungent betel leaves between my fingers, and in doing so got the ubiquitous smell of Thailand: a faintly bitter, chocolate aroma that had been tickling my nostrils for days, something almost sedative. The landscapes had the same effect that afternoon on a slow drive inland. Sunshine turned the telegraph wires silver as if spun by giant spiders, then it pooled green on expanses of forest floor. Sometimes we passed pineapples glinting among stretches of rubber trees, or glimpsed blackand-white cattle with egrets, by a lake, on our bucolic glide to Phuket's more feral side. If it sounded run-of-the-mill tourist, the Phuket Elephant Sanctuary, our destination, was the opposite: a dignified and thoughtprovoking encounter with another slice of real Phuket. The visit began with a video showing the hideous ways humans have treated Thailand's pachyderms over the centuries, forcing them, with nails, cuts and burns, to submit to a life carrying heavy loads of timber or holidaymakers. But the mood soon lifted when we came to walk with the residents in their managed wilderness: one of a pioneering few in Thailand committed to rescuing victims and releasing them into a contented retirement. The animals were mesmerising to watch, sometimes up close, sometimes from raised lookouts laden with bananas, to encourage curious trunks. I really fell

This page, clockwise from above: Khao Phing Kan (James Bond Island); evening lantern lighting ceremony at Anantara Layan Phuket Resort; a fresh salad with rice and cooked shrimp) 47

This page: Sala Pool Villa at Anantara Layan Phuket Resort




Credit: The Sunday Times Travel Magazine / News Licensing

for Jan Jao, encountered in the shade of a mangosteen tree, her slow-flapping ears speckled with sunlight, pink and grey like terrazzo flooring. She moved idly, huge hollowed temples above eyes as kindly as those of a favourite grandmother. Madee I was more wary of. Arriving late to meet us by a banquet of fruit, she thumped her trunk on the ground, producing a weird woodwind sound. She was in a bad mood, a ranger said — a co-resident of hers, Kannika, had come first and got stuck in without her. Madee popped a whole watermelon into her mouth as if it were a grape. After all, she had a bit of catching up to do. Phuket offered up plenty of even wilder moments, wilder shores, too: beyond the main island, it splinters into palmy specks, sprinkled across the surrounding seas. On a boat east into Phang Nga Bay, I spent a morning transfixed by sea eagles soaring overhead, circling the towering limestone karsts that have made the marine park famous. One, Khao Phing Kan, is better known as Christopher Lee's private island in the James Bond film The Man with the Golden Gun. Topped with rainforest vegetation it resembled the last decayed tooth left in some centenarian giant's gum, every bit as strange as it had looked on celluloid back in 1974. Attracting tourist longtail boats, it was better from a distance. Besides, the bay held so much more: chattering bats speckling the dim cave interiors of Hong Island, into which we kayaked; and the floating village of Ko Panyi, settled centuries ago by Indonesian Islamic emigrants. Here was a Phuket the crowds of Patong never see: a seagypsy stronghold with a golden-domed mosque visible for miles. Wandering the

pier-like floors was creakily atmospheric in the hot lull of late afternoon. Something of Ko Panyi's sedate spirituality seemed to inhabit my last hotel, Amanpuri — perhaps because it resembled a place of worship rather than a resort, with its flaring pagoda roofs and decorative basins of moody water. I bedded down well before midnight, rising early to breakfast on kai yad sai: omelettes made lace-thin, filled with shrimp and vegetables. Staff glided around with the faint tick-tack of flip-flops, depositing little rectangular golden vases upon tables, each holding a single lotus flower. If I'd needed definitive proof that Phuket was not shabby, then serene Amanpuri was it. It was hard to believe this place opened three decades ago — its Asian minimalism looked as if it had been created last year. And yet, despite the airy, understated architecture, I felt I'd been drawn into a silent commune of platinum-card privilege and purity, set on its own private peninsula, peering out from coconut palms. Guests wandered about with yoga mats under their arms like enormous cheroots, reinforcing the apparent resort USP: determined relaxation. The food, from sushi to seasonal fruit, was supermodel-delicate. I swam out and climbed on to the pontoon in the bay for some perspective on the place — in vain. 'My obstetrician said to get a Belly Bandit online,' I heard a women tell her friend, describing her recent pregnancy as they lazed. 'It literally reminds your organs where to return to after the distension.' Where was the real Phuket when I needed it? At 4pm, a Thai lady materialised atop the central stepped sala pavilion, pulled out a griddle and set about cooking pancakes called khanom krok, some of them filled with sweetcorn, others shimmery with coconut. It was a daily ritual, I learnt. OK, Naka night market it wasn't, yet the appearance of street food was like the breaking of a spell. A polite scuffle erupted among the slim and the wealthy, soon chatting and scoffing on the steps. Not wanting to be a calorie singleton I grabbed a plate and, vowing to buy my own Belly Bandit back in England, got stuck in to a last real-but-perfect piece of Phuket. Inspired to travel? To book a trip, call +971 4 316 6666 or visit 49

These pages: Elephants at sunset in Etosha National Park

Remote control

So famous is Namibia's tourist-trodden self-drive circuit, it's known simply as 'Route One'. Chris Haslam veers off track to discover the destination as it once was



here are many things in Namibia that can kill you,' announces the welcome video cheerfully, as a lion, a Cape cobra and a scorpion flash across the screen. 'But the biggest killer,' chirps the narrator, 'is speed.' Cue a montage of wrecked rental vehicles - identical, but for the broken glass and torn steel, to those in the car rental depot. The backpackers who've spent the safety briefing scrolling on their phones go pale. A German lady hisses at her husband: 'You told me Namibia was safe.' But despite this sobering introduction, Namibia really is Africa's safest, most effortlessly explorable nation. Self-driving in Namibia makes it easy to be intrepid. Part road trip, part safari, it's two bucket-list trips for the price of one. It's affordable, too, with flight-inclusive self-drives much cheaper than in South Africa. And, at the wheel of a 4WD, the driving is epic. It's for these reasons that so many excited visitors fly in to Windhoek, ready to depart on the famed tourist trail they call Route One. It heads southwest to the dunes of the Sossusvlei, then loops north for the adrenaline sports and Baltic-style seaside charms of Swakopmund. From here, it's a six-hour drive further north to reach the wildlife of Etosha National Park. But Namibia is fifth on the list of the world's emptiest countries (with just three people per square kilometre), so it doesn't require many tourists to feel crowded. Two decades ago, I wandered the Sossusvlei like a lonely ghost in a DalĂ­

landscape. These days, such solace is impossible. There's a car park full of coaches, overland trucks, and that backpacking couple. Instagrammers queue at the Deadvlei for a photograph with the skeletal camel thorns. There'll be huge Chinese tour groups enjoying Kaffee und Kuchen on Swakopmund's prom and, as you watch lions drinking at Etosha's Okondeka waterhole, you might hear that German lady whisper 'Ist es sicher?!' ('Is it safe?!') To experience the cinematic desolation and spectacular wildlife that Namibia is famous for, you need to leave the herd. But it's not as daunting as it sounds. All you need is the ability to read a map, an awareness of your limitations in what can be a merciless land, and the desire to find places so wild, so lonely and so alien, they'll make you breathless. Scared, even. Just as Namibia is supposed to. So, back to the safety video. Which you definitely need to watch. After which you’re shown around a brutish Toyota 4WD. There's the sat nav, the sand jack for digging yourself out of trouble, the tyre deflator, the spare jerry cans, the spade, the axe, the fire extinguisher, the worryingly comprehensive firstaid kit and a tracking device that can monitor your speed: 120kph on tarmac roads and 80kph on gravel, where most accidents occur. Exceed that and your insurance is void. Then there's the optional rooftop tent. I've never taken one because deep down I know there'll be a night when I'll forget I'm sleeping 2.5 metres off the ground, leave the tent 51


to mark my territory and break my neck. And then get eaten by hyenas. I start my journey with a 520km drive up the B1 from Windhoek to the Damaraland and Huab Lodge, a halfway house on the road to nowhere. For the first three hours, the road is smooth, shimmering tarmac. Then I reach Outjo and take the C35, the first of the bone-shaking gravel roads. Two hours later, at a lonely spot marked by a large, dead python, I turn onto the D2670. It's mostly dust, so I use the tyre deflator to get more grip. A lappet-faced vulture watches from a rock. I know what he's thinking. It's just 30km from here to the lodge, but it takes an hour. I thought that two nights at this eccentric little camp — eight thatched huts overlooking the dry bed of the Huab River — would be enough, but I was wrong. The birdlife is astonishing: I count 26 species from my terrace and, as we're drinking sundowners, nightjars are hunting around the bar. At dawn, the riverbed is a alive with wildlife: oryx, giraffes, zebra and kudus commuting along its sandy path. That afternoon I spend a thrilling four hours following the spoor of a huge leopard that ultimately does what leopards do best and vanishes like a Cheshire cat. A giant eagle owl watches wisely from a tree. I know what she's thinking, too. It's only as I'm leaving that I notice the swimming pool and nearby hot spring. I told you two nights wasn't enough. Four hours east, past the gold mines and cattle farms of central Namibia, a track off the B1 brings me to the Mundulea Nature Reserve: 120sq km of former cattle country that's being returned to nature. Black rhinos, cheetahs and giraffes are among the species that have wandered back in, accompanied by zebra, roan antelopes and black-faced impala. It's dark by the time I arrive. Entering the camp is an experience somewhere between Edgar Rice Burroughs and Apocalypse Now. Bleached skulls, flickering hurricane lamps and twisting paths leading to big, simply furnished safari tents. By the campfire, owner, guide and conservationist Bruno Nebe is expounding on pangolins. On another fire, sorcerer's apprentice Patrick is cooking a three-course dinner — baking 52

IF YOU GET LOST, BREAK DOWN, OR UPSET THE ELEPHANTS, IT CAN BE A ONE-WAY TRIP bread in an oven made from an old fire extinguisher. Apart from some iffy solar, there's no electricity. No phone signal. No wi-fi. Owls, jackals and a distant leopard provide the background music to a safari camp so remote that Bruno only opens it when he has enough bookings to justify the expense. Lucky for me, then, that Tim and Pauline are here. Early retirees from the UK, they did Route One last year, but knew instantly there had to be more to the world's most beautiful nation. So this year, they rented a 4WD and went off the beaten track. Together, we spend three days walking with Bruno. It's like being shown Africa by Gandalf. He dodges jade-green boomslang snakes lurking on low branches, tracks his beloved pangolins with a radio antenna and, at one point, drops a rock into a dark shaft in the karst and blithely mentions that he doesn't know how deep it is because when he climbed down he ran out of rope before he hit the bottom. I part company with Tim and Pauline in the dusty, low-rise town of Otjiwarongo. They're off to explore the rock paintings of the Erongo Mountains. I'm heading northwest into the Kunene, an otherworld of unclimbed peaks, sparkling gravel plains and river canyons running into a

fogbound dune belt, where they disappear before reaching the cold Skeleton Coast. With skill and the right kit, you can self-drive the Kunene. But if you get lost, break down, or upset the elephants, it can be a one-way trip, so it's best to park the car and call Caesar Zandberg, one of the three best desert guides in Namibia. If you thought your rental 4WD was well-equipped, wait until you see Caesar's chariot: a 4.5-litre turbo-diesel V8 Toyota J7 Land Cruiser with a snorkel, twin fuel tanks, solar panels on the roof and enough kit to turn any shady corner of the Kunene into a luxury tented resort. I join Caesar a week after unusually heavy rains have hit the Kunene. On past visits, the place has been as dry and bleached as a lost tourist's bones, but it only takes a centimetre of rainfall to unleash life. The hills and plains are covered in bushman-grass baize, and streaks of bright yellow devil's thorn flowers stretch for miles like an industrial custard spill. Most excitingly, the Hoarusib River is flowing, bringing waters of life from the Giraffe Mountains. Caesar drops T-bone steaks the size of telephone directories onto the woodfire grill, tosses a salad — a Caesar one, obviously — and refills my drink.

These pages, clockwise from left: Little Himba boy wearing traditional jewellery; moon rising over a dry river valley; Vingerklip finger rock in the evening light, near the Vingerklip Lodge; a black-backed jackal 53

He gazes across the ephemeral river to where a couple of Himba kids are minding their goats. 'There's good grazing everywhere now,' he says. 'That means the oryx, zebra and giraffes will disperse into the far valleys, so we'll have to drive further and look harder to find them.' I'm delighted to hear that, because the further we go, the less company we'll encounter. A reliable way to estimate how far you've come from civilisation is to calculate your distance from the nearest Starbucks. Standing on a nameless hilltop in Kunene, I'm guessing the nearest skinny almond caramel macchiato is 1,800km away in Jo'burg. I mention this to Caesar, but he doesn't know what Starbucks is, much less a macchiato. The view from here is of apparent lifelessness, but look closer: this hill and its neighbours are cut with the spiral scratches left by generations of oryx, antelopes and zebra who've come in search of the bonsai-sized commiphora shrubs that sprout on the summits, sucking moisture from the fog. It's an astonishing sight. We spot an oryx, and, far, far away, the dust plume of another vehicle. 'Bloody tourists,' sniffs Caesar, watching the distant speck through binos. 'They're overrunning the place.' That night, we camp in a side-valley of the Hoanib River. A campfire and a gemsbok 54


ragu turn this starkly beautiful spot into the suite of my dreams, with 50-metre sandstone walls and a ceiling made of stars. We're discussing how the scarcity of game makes the few sightings we've had — that oryx, three zebra and a pair of giraffes — even more memorable. At that very moment, a pair of black-backed jackals, led by their noses, turn up and stand just close enough to the fire that we can see itwws reflection in their eyes. Next morning, Caesar stops the Toyota in the exact middle of nowhere. 'The elephants are coming,' he says. We scan the heat haze for 20 minutes, and then, one by one, emerge nine dusty pachyderms — mothers, aunts and kids — following an ancient path across the plain to the dune belt and then, well, no-one really knows. I only spend four days in the Kunene, but it feels much longer. Time slows

down in the desert. Your senses grow sharper. Water tastes sweeter and your appetite becomes lion-like. Mysteries abound: the Hoarusib, flowing wide, deep and fast enough yesterday to wash away a two-tonne Toyota is dry as a bone today, and above Clay Castles — a surreal canyon of Petralike natural caves — a long-dead explorer has spelt '26 Jan 1919' in rocks scoured clean by the west wind. There are moments of wonder — the frog living in a shrinking puddle at least 80km from the next water source; the slash-like trail of a Peringuey's adder left on a dune — and moments when you realise you're probably walking where no human has ever been before. This adventure has its downsides. Souvenir shopping is limited to rocks sold by Herero herders, or the Himba pillow — a wooden affair like the devices to prop corpses' heads in mortuaries. The joys of queueing and of socialising with other tourists are absent, and when you do emerge from the parched back of beyond, you may find humanity a bit irritating. But then, if you got off Route One in the first place, you probably always did.

Inspired to travel? To book a trip, call +971 4 316 6666 or visit

Credit: The Sunday Times Travel Magazine/News Licensing

These pages, clockwise from below: Animals reflect in the sunset in Etosha National Park; an offroad vehicle with roof tent parked beneath a starry sky

Credit: Andrew Eames/The Sunday Times Travel Magazine / News Licensing

This page: Soft, NAMIBIA colourful corals around Lizard Island 55


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Staycations and short-haul escapes

AL FAYA LODGE HAS LANDED What may appear like a futuristic home on Mars is actually a luxury retreat in the heart of the Mleiha desert in Sharjah. The recently-opened Al Faya Lodge places you in the lap of nature, with wildlife and stargazing experiences among the highlights of this eco-friendly hotspot. Originally built in the 1960s, the lodge's three stone buildings have been lovingly converted to house rooms, a restaurant, library, a luxury spa and more. 57

WEEKENDS Exploring Sidi Bou Said


Let us reacquaint you with this culture spot that's ideally placed for a mindnourishing mini break




DON'T LEAVE WITHOUT... ... discovering Sidi Bou Said. Just 20km from Tunis, this clifftop town overlooks the sparkling Mediterranean and is thought to have inspired famous artists and writers. ... making the 60-minute car journey to the Dahmani commune to view the 'cultural cave' brimming with locally produced modern art. ... embarking on a guided, film lovers tour of the Tunisian desert, the birthplace of the original Star Wars saga.

Dining on the beach


Exploring Sidi Bou Said

such as the sticky-sweet makroudh, with a cup of green mint tea. To view east meets west contemporary art, pop into Musk and Amber Gallery (@musk_and_amber), which is a showcase for Tunisian-heritage-inspired pieces by local artisans. Adventure seekers will find plenty to keep them on their toes, with year-round activities including golf, quad biking in the desert and watersports (the beaches of Borj Cedria and Ezzahra are just 20km from the city centre). When planning a trip, bear in mind that April to October is best for sea and sun, while autumn and spring provide the ideal weather conditions for boat trips and more active excursions. In terms of where to stay, the beachside The Residence Tunis is home to chic yet comfortable rooms and suites, an 18-hole golf course, and a luxurious spa famous for its thalasso spa treatments. Villa Didon in Carthage places you smack bang in the historical district, while Concorde Les Berges Du Lac Hotel has a scenic setting on the shore of Lake Tunis.

Photos courtesy of The Residence Tunis

magnetic combination of souks and aromatic spices, desert dunes and historic sites, Tunisia tells a gripping tale. This year marks a shift in perspective, with tourist numbers on the rise, and capital city Tunis being crowned the Arab Region’s Capital of Islamic Culture by the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. To gain a better understanding of the destination’s old-world charm, we must first rewind to the 12th-16th century when Tunis was one of the greatest and wealthiest cities in the Islamic world. Its special status gave rise to a wave of monuments that are a testament to the past. Within the Medina of Tunis, a UNESCO World Heritage site, there are around 700 scattered across the old city, including palaces, mosques, mausoleums, madrasas and fountains. The modern district has a different appeal, with many of the old buildings transformed into museums and cultural centres, tea rooms and restaurants. In the fashionable Les Berges du Lac quarter, head to Patisserie Masmoudi (@ patisseriemasmoudi) to taste a traditional pastry,

long weekend the


This page: The Great Sphinx of Giza Opposite: A Nile cruise, photo by Hassan Mohamed


Rich in history, heritage and culture, the Egyptian capital is affectionately known as the “Mother of the World”. Habiba Azab tells us why…


With its bottleneck traffic, beguiling crowds and ancient tales, Cairo is chaos at its most magnificent, fascinating and captivating form. The fast-paced city’s constant buzz is the result of its 20 million strong inhabitants charming their way with their warm smiles and exceptional humour. As the locals say, if you love Cairo, it'll definitely love you back. The sprawling capital blends the best of old-world and newworld Egypt. Soaring minarets, historic mosques and some of the greatest architecture of medieval Islam can only be found in old Islamic Cairo. Meanwhile, a short cab ride away is the capital’s other centre of antiquity, Coptic Cairo. Home to some of the oldest churches and monasteries in the history of Christianity including the Hanging Church, which served as the seat of the Coptic Pope from the 7th to the 13th century. For a more modern outlook, Zamalek is a cosy neighbourhood with local art galleries and boutique gems hidden around every corner. Alternatively, Garden City is the place to go for felucca rides, whereas Downtown Cairo is the cultural hub of contemporary dance, music and art. Cairo welcomes you with its mighty past and vivacious present. And although it can be an assault on the senses, if done right you can’t help but keep coming back for more.


From luxury abodes to boutiques boltholes, bed down in style Le Riad Hotel De Charme

Once the hunting palace of Egyptian Khedive Isma'il Pasha, Marriott Mena House combines the charm of a bygone era with service fit for royalty. Rooms are lavishly furnished with exquisite rare antiques and handcrafted furniture, while The Sultan Lounge

is a memorable place to start your evening – cocktails as the sun sets over the Great Pyramids is an Instagram-worthy moment to capture. Boasting panoramic views of the Nile river, The Nile Ritz-Carlton lies at the heart of the city. Take a stroll back in time and

stay in one of the 331 rooms overlooking the historical Egyptian museum, and then taste signature Arabian delicacies as the belly dancers sway. Just around the corner, Four Seasons Cairo at The First Residence draws discerning travellers with its stylish design, colonial décor

and opulent interiors. Set amid lush ancient zoological gardens, soak up the scenery on the open-deck pool followed by a soothing body treatment at the luxury spa, which offers direct views of the Nile. Inspired by the grandeur of the Ottoman Empire, Le Riad Hotel De Charme is a quaint lodging tucked away in old town Cairo with only 17 suites to count. With its rich warm colours, Fatimid traditional prints and lovingly preserved paintings, each room evokes the romance of old times. Villa Belle Époque is another boutique gem hidden on the quiet streets of Maadi. Conjuring up French summer vibes, this charming white-washed villa boasts 31 rooms, 13 of which are named after an Egyptian city combining contemporary and traditional designs to represent it. 61

sizzling street food For a truly authentic taste of the city, grab a bite at these top stop-offs

It’s no surprise that bustling Cairo is home to an extraordinary variety of rustic street fare; from buzzing street food stalls to eclectic local vendors, there’s something for every taste. You’ll know you’ve reached KEBDET EL PRINCE when you find dozens of locals huddling up and impatiently waiting for their tables. Start off by ordering the heavenly molokhia with rice and tender waraet lahma, both local goodies that’ll leave you wanting more. Another authentic dish that every visitor should try at least once is Koshari; a unique mixture of rice, macaroni and lentils, all covered with a spicy tomato sauce, and KOSHARI EL TAHRIR has been ruling the roost for years. While strolling along the Corniche at night you’ll find stands in every nook and corner serving HUMMUS SHAM. The warm and spicy drink is a very popular must-try made out of chickpeas, lemon, chili, along with spices of your choice. 62

MEM0RABILIA Looking to take home a keepsake? Here are some must-haves Incense: Intrinsic to the worship of the gods and goddesses of Ancient Egypt, incense was used to ward off evil spirits. Choose between many shapes, types and fragrances to use in beautifully crafted burners. Where to find it? Khan El Khalili Market Papyrus scroll: Another item of ancient origin, Papyrus scrolls were man-made paper upon

which Egyptians kept most of their important records. Of course, what you’ll find today are just replicas of the originals. However, with hieroglyphic alphabets and battle print scenes, they look just as real. Where to find it? Egypt Papyrus Museum, Giza Scarab beetle: Mostly made out of alabaster or granite, legend has it that Scarab beetles symbolize the Great Ra, the deity and leader of all Egyptian gods who created himself out of nothing. Ancient Egyptians believed that

Ra was swallowed by the sky goddess Nut every evening as the sun dipped down only to be reborn every morning representing renewal and resurrection. Where to find it? Khan El Khalili Market Fez “Tarboush”: Worn by citizens and Pashas from 1805 until 1952, this cultural headgear became a symbol of modernity during the Ottoman Empire. For a true Bedouin look, wrap a white turban around your Fez. Where to find it? Moez street

Old is gold

With a history that dates back to 1382, Khan El Khalili is one of the oldest flea markets in Egypt and by far the most popular. Bask in the city’s rich history and lose yourself in the winding alleyways of Islamic historical buildings while haggling for gorgeous antiques, handmade accessories, ornate perfume bottles and traditional clothing. Book addicts, meanwhile, should make a beeline to El Azbakeya Wall, a book market that was first introduced in the 19th century and displays more than 130 stalls overflowing with old, unique and used books. If you’re up for a splash of colour, Fokhareen Market is brimming with pottery gems you simply wouldn’t find anywhere else.

Opposite page, from top: The traditional Egyptian dish Koshari; Papyrus scroll; Khan El Khalili Market, photo by Zeyad Abouzeid This page from top: Muhammad Ali Mosque, photo by Hassan Mohamed; The Great Pyramids, photo by Zeyad Abouzeid



Admire the splendour of Islamic architecture in the City of a Thousand Minarets

MOSQUE OF MUHAMMAD ALI. Beautiful in its simplicity yet intricately designed, this masterpiece wows with its creative use of slim minarets, cascading domes, large chandeliers, Thuluth inscriptions and beautiful globe lamps. AL AZHAR MOSQUE. Considered a beacon of theological authority to the entire Islamic world, immerse yourself in a tale worth more than 1,000 years. With three minarets from the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries, the mosque blends different architectural styles while playing host to the world’s second-oldest university for the Sunni theology, Al Azhar University. MOSQUE OF AHMAD IBN TULUN. Still in its original mud brick form, this historical landmark is the oldest mosque in city. Lying in the heart of old Islamic Cairo, climb up the staircase of its minaret (which was uniquely built on the outside) and soak up a bird’s eye view of the old town.

insider tips Salma Ammar shares insider tips and tricks on exploring the city “Tipping, known as baksheesh, is a huge part of the Egyptian culture. From waiters to bathroom attendants, you pretty much tip for anything and everything so make sure you save those smaller bills. Of course, a trip to Cairo is not complete until you’ve seen a show featuring the famous Sufi dancers. The plethora of twirling colours flowing all around is magical and better yet, free. Just head to the Al-Ghuri Mosque on Wednesday and Saturday nights at around 8pm for the dazzling show followed by a quick detour to one of the most authentic Egyptian culinary destinations, Fashet Sumaya. Hidden down a quiet lane in downtown Bab El Louk, here you can enjoy traditional home cooked meals served by Sumaya herself, the friendly owner of the establishment. Her perfectly seasoned lamb dish is a must-try.”


Home to one of the oldest civilizations in the world, Cairo is the land of myth, legend and deep-seated history, and no trip is complete without a stop at the Great Pyramids of Giza. The last of the ancient seven wonders of the world, the monumental tombs are relics of Egypt’s Old Kingdom built 4,500 years ago to withstand the test of time, deeming them one of the pure mysteries of the world. Beat the crowds by planning your trip in the early morning and don’t miss snapping the all-time classic photo of kissing the Sphinx. Make the Egyptian Museum your next stop and marvel

at the beauty of more than 12,000 ancient antiques and artefacts on display, including royal mummies and the infamous gold mask of Tutankhamun. The City of the Dead is another must-see and a hidden gem that’s hauntingly beautiful. Known as Cairo’s Necropolis, the four-miles Islamic cemetery holds tombs

of the world’s most notable Islamic figures and is largely inhabited by citizens living among the remains of their ancestors. With intricate shrines inscribed with phrases from the Qur’an, the city exudes a fascinating atmosphere of life and death, making it a truly unique experience. 63



Spa serenity Photo: Desert Islands Resort & Spa by Anantara

Slip into a fluffy bathrobe and unwind on a pampering spa break in the UAE capital. After all, you deserve it…


Desert Islands Resort & Spa by Anantara. Bringing healing rituals al fresco, you can enjoy treatments along the seafront or inside a private beach cabana at this back-to-nature spa. Couples can try the 120-minute Desert Island Retreat package, which includes a floral foot ritual, sand scrub and full body massage. Or, for a self-care moment, the 45-minute Makkakech Rhassoul Wrap, will envelop you in natural clay to detoxify the skin.



Remède Spa at The St. Regis Abu Dhabi. One of the emirate's largest spas, there’s ample space to chill between treatments here, including in the bubbling Jacuzzi. Request a sea view treatment room or plump for the VIP Suite, where you can unwind on the outdoor terrace with a nourishing juice. The exclusive St. Regis Splendour package will lavish you with a half-day of results-driven, topto-toe treatments.


The Spa at Emirates Palace Abu Dhabi. Indulge the senses at this Moroccan-inspired spa, which has a traditional hammam at its heart, complete with two Jacuzzis, two steam rooms, heated marble and an ice cave. Once you’re suitably scrubbed and buffed, the relaxation room calls. Soak up the tranquil ambiance before carrying on your spa journey, as the expert therapists tailor treatments to suit you.



JW Marriott Marquis Dubai Take your staycation experience to the next level at the world’s tallest five-star hotel ROOMS & SUITES If you’re in need of a restful night’s sleep, you’re sure to experience it here. Bed down in one of 1,608 soundproofed rooms or suites that tower above the city, complete with views of the twinkling skyline or the sea. During the summer, you can save 15% off the usual rate. Marriott Bonvoy members are treated to more benefits still, enjoying 25% off and complimentary breakfast.

THE FOOD There are 15 award-winning restaurants and bars to discover, including Japanese restaurant Izakaya and glamorous nightspot Vault, which has stunning views of Downtown Dubai. The latest addition to the culinary scene is Masala Library by Jiggs Kalra, which has mastered the art of molecular gastronomy. We heartily recommend you indulge in the great value tasting menu.

THE ACTIVITIES Occupying a premium spot along Dubai’s main thoroughfare, Sheikh Zayed Road, the hotel is within easy reach of a roster of top tourist attractions. Post sightseeing, there are plenty of ways to unwind back at the hotel. Take a dip in the outdoor pool or, for a spot of pampering, head to Saray Spa, where you can still the mind in the UAE’s only Dead Sea floatation pool.

To find out more, call +971 4 414 3000 or visit 66

Inspiration. Expertly crafted. Comprising two iconic towers, the JW Marriott Marquis Dubai is centrally located beside the Dubai Water Canal and offers a spectrum of facilities and services for a seamless experience. The hotel features: 1,608 Luxurious Guest Rooms and Suites, Over 15 Award-Winning Restaurants and Lounges, Saray Spa featuring Traditional Hammams, A Dead Sea Floatation Pool and 17 Treatment Rooms, State-of-the-Art Health Club and Fitness facilities, 8,000 sqm of spectacular Meeting Spaces.

JW MarriottÂŽ MarquisÂŽ Hotel Dubai Sheikh Zayed Road, Business Bay, PO Box 121000, Dubai, UAE | T +971.4.414.0000 |



The St. Regis Abu Dhabi Live the high life at this luxury hotel where views, fine fare and pampering define your stay ROOMS & SUITES The height of sophistication, all 283 rooms and suites at this hotel on the Corniche boast stellar views. We rate the one-bedroom Al Hosen Suite (pictured), which offers a generous snapshot of the sea through floor-to-ceiling windows. There are some fantastic staycation offers for Eid al-Fitr, including complimentary upgrades, dining credits and savings for families booking two rooms.

THE FOOD There are six restaurants and bars to discover, including Villa Toscana, which will take you on a culinary journey to Tuscany. For a taste of the season, sit down to the delicious new Summer Fruits Afternoon Tea at Crystal Lounge. When the weekend rolls around, head to the suits-all Family Friday Brunch at The Terrace on the Corniche to indulge in seafood, sushi and foie gras.

THE ACTIVITIES Kick-start you summer pampering regime with a bespoke treatment at Remède Spa, which is offering selected treatments for less until the end of August. Next, head outdoors to unwind in a secluded cabana at Nation Rivera Beach Club before stretching your legs along the private beach. Kids can scamper to Treasure Island Children’s Club for some supervised fun.

To find out more, call +971 2 694 4444 or visit 68

An Exquisite Eid Al-Fitr Staycation Celebrate Eid al-Fitr with a family staycation to create lasting memories. Live exquisite in one of our Superior Rooms or for the ultimate level of luxury upgrade to a Signature Suite. Located at the vibrant heart of Abu Dhabi with a 200 metre stretch of pristine beach, overlooking the turquoise waters of the Nation Riviera Beach Club at the finest address in the city. Superior Room from AED 650* includes: Complimentary upgrade to Sea View Room (subject to availability), AED 200 restaurant dining credit, breakfast and 4:00 pm late checkout. Signature Suites from AED 1200* includes: AED 400 restaurant dining credit, breakfast and 4:00 pm late checkout. Book one room and save 50% on the second room. Perfect for families, connecting rooms available (subject to availability) *All prices are in UAE Dirham and are exclusive of all applicable service charges, local fees and taxes. Offer valid from 1st – 15th June 2019.

Š2019 Marriott International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Preferred Guest, SPG, St. Regis and their logos are the trademarks of Marriott International, Inc., or its affiliates.

The St. Regis Abu Dhabi Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates t. +971 2 694 4444

Stay exquisite at more than 40 St. Regis hotels and resorts worldwide. @stregishotels


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Dublin, Ireland: Explore Trinity College with a university insider, before getting priority access to the famous library and Book of Kells.

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THROUGH THE LENS The SOHO building in Tokyo, Japan "Although I've been to Tokyo several times, I only discovered this place on Instagram fairly recently. So when I visited last November, I knew I had to find it. After a lot of extensive research, I finally managed to locate it – no easy feat considering it's not a main attraction in the city. Being a hotel and private office space, it was impossible to just go in, but I was a man on a mission and snuck in anyway to take the shot. The guy in the photo is someone that I met randomly along the way and asked if he could kindly pose for the photo. Thankfully, he understood me and didn't think I was a crazy tourist."

Th Travel photographer, Loïc Lagarde, loves to travel because "I can’t stay still. I always need to be on the move discovering something new and exciting every day." @loic.lagarde,

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A two-night stay at Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara Escape the city and sink into luxury at this traditionallystyled desert resort on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi. You'll stay in a One Bedroom Anantara Pool Villa, with breakfast for two. Chill out with a dip in your private plunge pool and take part in thrilling sunrise and sunset desert activities. Or, you can simply unwind at Anantara Spa. To find out more and to enter, visit (terms & conditions apply).

TRAVEL INSPO AT YOUR FINGERTIPS Let our travel news and round-ups, available to read on our website, inspire your next trip…


The Knowledge. Read our handy how-tos, from getting to grips with travel insurance to helping kids beat jet lag, and more.


Staycations. Take a peek inside these top hotels and resorts on your doorstep and then book your next mini break.


Insider Guides. Check out our in-the-know travel edits of some of the most popular holiday destinations on our radar. 75


Suite dreams Our monthly finish with a flourish, delving into a suite that has a character and style all of its own

Suite Amour Hotel Lutetia

It's easy to fall in love with this suite, which makes the most of its vantage point at the pinnacle of the hotel with a private terrace offering picture-perfect views across the rooftops of Paris and the Eiffel Tower. It's one of seven signature suites designed by Jean-Michel Wilmotte at this palace hotel in the St. Germain-des-Pres area of the Left Bank. Back inside, ascend the staircase to the suite's other main attraction, the stylish sitting room complete with artworks and luxurious bespoke furniture. 76

AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD, WHERE THE SKY SWIMS IN SEA BLUE th i s i s l an d s a n ctu ary we l co m e s yo u wi th b re e ze a n d b i rd s o n g , ca n d l e l i t d i n n e rs a n d i n f i n i te vi e ws . Ju s t d ayd re a m s awa y f ro m t h e b u zz o f t h e cap i ta l , yo u ca n l o s e yo u rs e l f i n t h e p e a ce f u l l u xu ry o f yo u r o wn p e rf e ct u n i ve rs e .


Zaya Nurai Island Resort #InAbuDhabi

Inspiration. Expertly crafted. Comprising two iconic towers, the JW Marriott Marquis Dubai is centrally located beside the Dubai Water Canal and offers a spectrum of facilities and services for a seamless experience. The hotel features: 1,608 Luxurious Guest Rooms and Suites, Over 15 Award-Winning Restaurants and Lounges, Saray Spa featuring Traditional Hammams, A Dead Sea Floatation Pool and 17 Treatment Rooms, State-of-the-Art Health Club and Fitness facilities, 8,000 sqm of spectacular Meeting Spaces.

JW MarriottÂŽ MarquisÂŽ Hotel Dubai Sheikh Zayed Road, Business Bay, PO Box 121000, Dubai, UAE | T +971.4.414.0000 |

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