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Ride in style







Best of the brunch


Sizzling staycations

Globe trotters



dream days




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Take a tour of Cumbria’s Border country




people to inspire you


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The Essentials


04 City thrills Sleep, shop and scoff in some of the UK’s most exciting cities, from Leeds to London

06 Hot hotel Chris March checks in to The Westbury in marvellous Mayfair

11 Hip hopping Elysia Agnew takes a tour of Thailand’s best bits, uncovering some hot hotels

14 Train spotting


Take to the tracks and see the world on board one of Golden Eagle Luxury Trains’ rail journeys

18 Travel junkie

Hip holidays

Our third Travel Essentials magazine is for the explorers; the adventurous travel-lovers out there who long to wander the world, but who want to do so in style. Think of this year’s edition as a short, but very sweet, round-up of go-to guides to help you plan top trips with added luxury, whether you choose to stay put at home, or venture to far-off lands. Jet-setters reveal their must-visit hotels, shacks and villas over in the tropics, while we reveal the dreamy destinations you can reach on-board one of Golden Eagle Luxury Trains. We also uncover the best places to lay your head, spend your cash and fill your bellies right here in the UK, in case you fancy yourselves a stand-out staycation or two. Wishing you safe, chic travels!

Travel counsellor Stuart Graham talks holiday memories, booking tips and in-flight essentials

Jessica Laing, editor Contributors Elysia Agnew, Kathryn Armstrong, Chris March

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Remember Media Limited, e-volve Business Centre, Cygnet Way, Rainton Bridge South Business Park, DH4 5QY All contents copyright ©2015 RememberMedia Ltd. All rights reserved. While every effort is made to ensure accuracy, no responsibility can be accepted for inaccuracies, howsoever caused. No liability can be accepted for illustrations, photographs, artwork or advertising materials while in transmission or with the publisher or their agents. All information is correct at time of going to print, August 2017. Travel Essentials is published annually by Remember Media Ltd.



Travel Essentials


A quick luxe guide to UK city stopovers. Take in the sights in the Big Smoke, York’s sweet city centre, bonny Edinburgh and exciting Leeds...


Stay here... The Arch London Go to The Arch London for Georgian glamour, VIP service, spectacular food and drink, posh treats and a bit of doggy day care. It’s a hotel that does it all and caters for everyone, paws ’n’ all. The five-star boutique hideaway, which spans seven Grade II listed Georgian townhouses, can be found tucked away on a quiet, leafy street in Marylebone - a stone’s throw away from Bond Street, Hyde Park and the West End. It recently won Forbes’ 2017 Travel Guide Recommended award, but we’re not surprised - a stay here is nothing short of dreamy.


Decor-wise, it merges old and new, brilliantly. A real fusion of English heritage and contemporary boutique design. Inside, it’s clean and slick; glossy marble floors, shining glass and a specially-curated collection of bold artwork from British talents. Outside, it’s all about the white stone, olive trees and a giant Union Jack flag above the door. Super inviting. Laying your head here means you can choose from one of the hotel’s 82 guest rooms, or one of its 11 suites - all of which are individually decorated and dripping in luxury (think hand painted wallpaper, complimentary treats from the generous mini bar, tons of designer toiletries, duck down duvets and the finest Egyptian cotton) not to mention packed with everything you need for a chilled-out stay. Ours fit the bill very nicely indeed; two jumbo single beds, a large, glistening, marble bathroom, complete with walk-in-style shower, a tub with its own flatscreen TV and oodles of vanity space (they even have anti-steam mirrors), and our very own private outdoor terrace for end-of-theday G&Ts. Visiting in celebration of our birthday meant we were surprised with many complimentary treats throughout our stay, from a plate of dainty


desserts waiting for us in our room when we arrived (there’s nothing like seeing ‘happy birthday’ written in chocolate icing to get your trip off to a good start), to a spot of after-dinner cocktail tasting in the evening. The staff here couldn’t have done more for us - and proved time and time again that they definitely know a thing or two about stellar customer service. We felt so at home, in fact, that once nighttime did arrive, we could barely bring ourselves to venture outdoors. You really feel well looked after. In the end, it’s a good job we didn’t stray, because dinner was sublime - one of the best meals we’ve ever had. We took a private booth, veiled with floor-toceiling silk drapes, in the Le Salon de Champagne; a separate, intimate dining area just off from the hotel’s softly-lit restaurant, Hunter 486, named after the 1950s dialling code for Marylebone. It’s one of those restaurants that doesn’t look or feel like a typical hotel restaurant; a seriously good-looking spot that could easily stand out on its own as a separate venue in the city’s buzzy centre. Think designer red velvet chairs, sparkling blown glass chandeliers and a sleek

Travel Essentials and deliciously moody bar. Very glam. The kitchen is open-plan and airy, allowing you to see its skilled chefs at work, rustling up dishes from its ‘best of British’-style menu. It changes regularly, but on this occasion, we tucked in to two posh salads to start; one that tossed vibrant nuggets of heritage beetroot with lentils, paprika-spiked butternut squash, quinoa and feta, and another that showcased marinated, beautifully-pink tuna and pickled veggies. Our mains of monkfish, straight from the stone oven and wrapped in crispy, air-dried ham, with dahl and silky button onions, and comforting pumpkin cannelloni, smothered in creamy, delicate sage butter and almond sauce, sent us to culinary heaven. Just outstanding. Cocktails were had in the Martini Library - an opulent lounge area filled with cosy armchairs and a stone fireplace. Taking advantage of the room’s ‘press to refresh’ service button means the fizz flows all night long. We fell in love with the bar’s ‘Hunter Around the Clock’ tipple, which muddles gin, elderflower, cucumber syrup, lemon juice and mint. Basically a gin-flavoured mojito, served in a martini glass. Very, very good. As hoped, brekkie didn’t disappoint either. Healthy eaters will love the options; choose a ‘nutritious’ or ‘grain-based’ breakfast and you’ll get fresh fruit plates, egg white omelettes with feta and spinach, sun blush tomatoes and tumeric, veggie smoothies and bowls of porridge, made with either organic oats, quinoa or spelt. The only thing we missed out on during our stay was the hotel’s popular Royal Afternoon Tea offering - but we aim to rectify that in the near future. People come from all over to get their hands its fancy finger food, and with treats like buckwheat blinis topped with smoked salmon and lemon butter, chocolate orange tea cake and cheddar and apple and raisin chutney on sourdough, who’s surprised. We might also bring the pooch next time. The Arch is dog-friendly, treating its furry guests to luxury dog beds, bowls and cooked-to-order meals. It even offers dog-walking services, meaning you can kick-back or hit the shops while your canine pal explores the 350 acres of nearby Hyde Park. 50 Great Cumberland Pl, Marylebone, London, W1H 7FD

with stalls full of artisanal goodies and hard-tofind ingredients. Tons of fresh veg, cheese and meat and cracking pop-ups, serving sensational street grub from around the globe. Colombia Road Flower Market packs a Victorian cobbled street with bargain blooms every Sunday. Come Christmas time, the annual London Bridge City Christmas Market is a favourite of ours; get your mitts on handmade crafts and peruse pop-up food stalls and bars serving Christmas cocktails, mulled wine, hot cider and craft beers.

Go here... houmous and roasted salsa, or poached eggs with lobster. Over in gorgeous Covent Garden you’ll find Native Wild Food, which is a must-visit if you’re into your locally-sourced, seasonal grub. Its menu is rustic and innovative, bringing together the best forged foods and game, all native to the UK, to give guests a hearty feeding. Ask for Janice is a new find - a bar-meetsrestaurant that’s open morning to night, with a late-night bar in the basement. The evening menu is designed for sharing; small plates that include steak on bone marrow toast, hake with yellow pea dahl and ox cheek, white beans and wild garlic kimchi. Local gin is the thing here it has more than 50 gins on the shelf, all with their own perfect serve recipe. Weekends are for bottomless brunch.

Shop here... It’s London’s markets that steal our hearts on every visit. Spitalfields Market is one of the city’s most popular - go there for vintage clothing and expensive-looking nick-nacks. Brick Lane’s cool too; really buzzy and full of surprises. Somewhere to pick up retro furniture. Borough Market is a foodie’s paradise, packed

Open every weekend until the end of September, Skylight is one of London’s most imaginative rooftop bar experiences with some of the finest views of the city. Located above Tobacco Dock in Wapping, and set over three levels, this 600-capacity space is a must-do, offering delicious street food, imaginative cocktails and unique lawn games. The city hosts the NFL International Series Game in October, kicking things off with footy-style celebrations on Regent Street. Have Afternoon Tea at The Mint Gun Club, over in Hackney. Enjoy three or four layers of exotic sweet and savoury treats, including Japanese rice cakes, Turkish delight, semolina cake and cucumber kimchi sandwiches. The Mondrian Hotel’s cool Spa Social events mean health-minded socialising for London’s cosmopolitan fitness lovers - think healthy food, mini massages and ‘skinny’ prosecco. October is a good time to visit if you’re a foodie - London Restaurant Festival runs all month long, offering tasty one-off menus and fun events. The city is sprinkled with festive magic throughout November and December; Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park returns this year from November 17 up until New Year’s Day.

Eat here...

Balans Soho Society does brekkie and brunch really well. They’re dotted all over, but the recently-revamped one in Soho has never disappointed. Start with Bloody Hell, Mary a big box of everything you need to make your own Bloody Marys - then dive into the menu. Try the ‘eggs in hell’ (their version of shakshuka, with extra spice), black bean tostadas with garlic



Travel Essentials

WESTBURY WONDER Chris March checks in to The Westbury Hotel, a recently-revamped five-star sanctuary in London’s buzzy Mayfair... Nestled in the heart of Mayfair - a fashionista paradise - The Westbury offers a level of luxury you can’t help but fall in love with. Step out the door and you’re greeted with big brand hellos from the likes of Burberry, Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Hermes on nearby Bond Street. Savile Row is also only a stone’s throw away - as is Regent Street, architecturally beautiful as ever. In fact, the entire area is awash with high-end fashion and jewellery; duck down any of the side streets and you’re sure to find undiscovered names and hidden gems to explore. The hotel, which has been given a marvellous makeover for 2017, boasts 225 rooms of which 64 are suites, each offering wood panelled entrances, Italian marbled bathrooms and personal touches to enchant even the most seasoned of travellers. The results of its renovation are stunning what a fine job they’ve done. The interior is tasteful, sumptuous and relaxing - and


the service is top-notch. From the moment you walk in, you’re greeted by impeccably polite porters, who guide you through to the lobby - and it’s there where you realise just how special this hotel is. My acid test for any hotel is its staff; you can spend all the money in the world, but if you don’t get your representatives right, it may as well be money down the drain. They are the face and voice of the hotel. Thankfully, The Westbury’s are a bunch of highly-trained, tentative (but not intrusive) individuals who are on hand to make your visit as fuss-free as possible. Check-in was seamless and my travel buddy and I were left as relaxed as ever in our suite before heading down for dinner. We took a deluxe suite, which was very pleasing to the eye and extremely spacious; the king-sized bed and separate lounge area are ideal for those looking for a fancy, memorable stay. When it comes to food, the hotel offers three


restaurants; the Michelin-starred, 4 AA Rosette Alyn Williams at The Westbury for fine-dining, the intimate Tsukiii Sushi restaurant (known as ‘the hidden gem of Mayfair’ by guests and locals) and the multi-award winning Polo Bar, where we settled in for celebratory cocktails (it was my birthday after all). Heady from a night of cocktail tasting, I was looking forward to breakfast, which ended up being an absolute treat to eat and watch. The service here is unrivalled - the restaurant maître d’ orchestrated the room effortlessly and made the whole dining experience a pleasure. We spent an entire weekend at The Westbury and couldn’t fault a single thing, from the location and facilities, to the service, food and sumptuous accommodation. Everything was superb. Alas, I didn’t get to dine at Alyn Williams at the Westbury on this occasion, but I suspect I’ll be back soon enough. Dish recommendations are welcome!

Travel Essentials

Shop here...

Multrees Walk is your destination for the swanky stuff; drive away a Tesla, stock up on Nespresso or make it destination handbag at Mulberry and Michael Kors stores. It’s also where you’ll find an impressive Harvey Nichols (lots more handbags) and where you can ponder your purchases at the top floor restaurant and champagne bar – which has some of the best views in town out to the Firth of Forth. George Street is where you will find high street favourites such as Anthropologie, White Company and a very stylish Jigsaw store. It’s worth a slight detour from here to Thistle Street – a quiet cobbled street with some

EDINBURGH Stay here... Stockbridge There are hotels aplenty in Edinburgh but if you want to live like a local – then rent a luxey apartment in one of the city’s neighbourhoods. Stockbridge is a definite go-to. A short stroll from city-central George Street, it’s a really cool, desirable area, perfect for a brief stay. It is so stylish, but definitely ‘un-showy’. There’s a selection of beautiful apartments which are definitely interiors-mag ready in the grand Royal Circus. They make for a perfect weekend bolthole or a longer city-centre base, especially if there’s a group of you. These are available for rental from OneFineStay. But be careful, you might want to stay put in your Pinterest-perfect pad.

Eat here...

Thistle Street is home to The Bon Vivant, a fabulous, atmospheric champagne, wine bar and bistro. Loads of character and great food. Very close by is the acclaimed Café Saint Honore. This French-style bistro is Paris-goestartan, In a good way. Gardener’s Cottage is a tiny communal-dining restaurant offering up the best Sunday brunch we’ve had. Try the ultimate beetroot Bloody Mary – dreamy! Food is from the gardens which surround the place and fish and meats are all Scottish produce, inventively served –

it was one of AA Gill’s favourites and we agree. Hemma is one of a number of Scandi-style bars that go under the Boda name. This light and airy spot is great for brunch postArthur’s Seat hike. The Boda bars are cool and quirky – and yes, you can try smorgasbord sharing platters. New to Edinburgh is The Refinery on St Andrew’s Square – a very good spot close to Waverley Station for drinks and cocktails when you head up with your gang. Lounge on sheepskin-lined chairs, sip your sparkle and snack on a trio of fries. Go to Timberyard for locally-sourced food and artisan ale in an industrial-chic former warehouse. In Stockbridge, we love Good Brothers - a wine bar where you can try loads of lovely bottles. Gourmets will love supper at the Scran and Scallie – Scots chef Tom Kitchin’s buzzy bistro. If you’re a fan of foodie markets, then Stockbridge Market on a Sunday morning takes some beating – amazing aromas mean you’ll think crepes, pulled pork and dim sum is a perfectly normal breakfast. Beneath Edinburgh Castle on a Saturday morning there’s an impressive Farmers’ Market, too. Warm up with real Scottish porridge, eat hand-cooked potato crisps and buy treats for teatime.


lovely fashion independents. Kakao by K brings a taste of Scandinavia to the street with a handpicked, stylish mix of womenswear and accessories from around 15 labels. Great one-offs, good-priced and nice accessories. Our top pick on Thistle Street is Biscuit Clothing & Living. Labels include Chiniti&Parker, Part Two and Pom Amsterdam. Find cool gifts, home treats and accessories. In Stockbridge, indulge in Dicks for very stylish, understated, quality clothing for men and women. J.Mellis is irresistible. You can buy platters and crackers then feast in the little upstairs room.

Go here... Fashionistas will love the new costume galleries at the National Museum of Scotland, but there’s plenty to keep everyone occupied – this is one great space for collections of science, technology, decorative art, design and fashion. Items include a rare glass sculpture by Picasso and a Harris Tweed suit by iconic fashion designer Vivienne Westwood. Take a bus or stroll to the waterfront district of Leith. Having served as the port of Edinburgh for hundreds of years, this once poor and working-class neighbourhood is now trendy. Its charming streets are filled with traditional pubs, restaurants and contemporary art galleries. It’s also home to the Royal Yacht Britannia – which is surprisingly interesting! TRAVEL ESSENTIALS SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 17

Travel Essentials


Stay here... Dakota Deluxe The spotlight is very much on Greek Street at the moment. The heart of all things luxe and lively. It’s the side of the city where you’ll find some of the swankiest spots to drink, dance and be merry. Our pick is the brand new Dakota Deluxe - a bold, black-coated building standing proudly on the corner of Russell Street. It’s all in the name – this spot is about as deluxe as it gets. It’s sleek, it’s stylish and once inside, you feel like you’ve been whisked away to a mysterious, cosmopolitan city where ritzy meets romance. The new modern classic; there’s something sensual about this hotel as you step into an urban retreat, combining moody décor, subdued lighting and masculine touches. Dakota’s purpose is simple: striving to make you feel special, from the warm welcome to the bedroom and the breakfast. It’s a cocoon of comfort in a sophisticated spot, where tiny touches like low lighting and flickering candles make for a romantic mini break. Named after the 1930s Dakota aeroplane, the glamorous golden age of aviation is the theme. It’s subtle, but you will find nods to the era throughout. The hotel opens onto Greek Street with its array of elegant eateries and cool cocktail spots – so it’s an inviting space for both overnight


guests and city-goers seeking an a evening of tipples and tasty food. It’s a hubbub of fine food, smart staff and gleaming décor. It’s inspiring and it’s intelligent. The rooms are kitted out with all the mod cons you’d expect from a New York City bachelor pad – making your stay as relaxing and as carefree as possible. With a grill, bar and Champagne room in the building – the food and drink options are extensive. The Dakota Deluxe is a hotel for grown ups. It’s got everything you might need to make your stay a special one – perfect for an anniversary celebration or a romantic weekend getaway.

Shop here... Find all your usual high street treats and shopping centre goodies in Trinity Leeds, head to the quirky market stalls of Kirkgate Market and inspiring independents in the Corn Exchange – there’s something for everyone when it comes to splashing the cash. Not to mention the stunning Victoria Quarter – the heart of the city’s shopping district. It’s all about the arcades here. You could spend a day browsing the independent businesses in the likes of Grand Arcade, Queens Arcade, Thorntons Arcade and Central Arcade – all linking up the city’s shopping streets. Victoria Leeds is the most recent addition – bringing together Victoria Quarter and Victoria Gate with a John Lewis, Harvey Nichols and over 90 boutique stores to browse. A luxe shopping experience if there ever was one. Whether you’re window shopping, searching for something special or ticking off your Christmas lists early – this place takes the stress out of shopping with quaint coffee stops and delicious dining spots along the trail. If you’re serious about shopping, no amount of achy-feet will put you off here – there’s so much to see and spend.

Eat here... With Dakota as your base, you’re in the perfect


spot for gastronomical gems and foodie favourites. Just yards from Dakota’s main entrance, you’ll find the body art-inspired, Tattu – serving contemporary Chinese cuisine, fusing traditional Asian flavours with exquisite presentation. The place is a contemporary haven of ink-based design and intimate décor. It’s dark, it’s buzzy and it’s romantic. The menu perfectly represents the environment – sociable food – food that gets people talking. Our favourites are the Shanghai dumplings, wild mushroom and truffle spring rolls and the peking duck buns with hoisin, cucumber and spring onion. The Thai-style crispy monkfish and caramel soy beef fillet are also winners. While in these parts, the Dakota Deluxe Bar & Grill is definitely worth an evening visit. Lounge in a comfy armchair on the terrace above Greek Street for a pre dinner tipple, before heading downstairs to the cave of contemporary class where you can dine ‘deluxe’. Expect steaks cooked simply, fresh fish prepared to perfection, fine wines served suitably and delectable desserts to top off the experience. Wined, dined and feeling content, head upstairs to the hotel’s Champagne Bar for a plush post-dinner experience.

Do this...

See The Kite Runner at West Yorkshire Playhouse from September 19-23. A haunting tale of friendship following one man’s journey to confront his past and find redemption and a popular production straight from the West End. There’s Leeds International Beer Festival, too, from September 6-10 - the annual four-day festival celebrates the very best of craft beer brewed in the UK and overseas. The Leeds Colour Run on September 30 should be fun. Rock the rainbow at Harewood House; sign up, stick on some trainers and don your brightest gear in this exciting, energetic event. Steins at the ready – Oktoberfest arrives in the city this October for two weekends (October 6-8 and 13-15) of authentic bier-loving fun. Round up your pals and raise a glass or two. Leeds International Film Festival kicks off across the city from November 1-16, transforming it into a film-lovers paradise with a fortnight of big name movies, fresh flicks and independent releases.

Travel Essentials


Stay here... The Principal York Hotel Once a stopover for Queen Victoria en-route to Balmoral Castle, The Principal York Hotel formally the Royal York Hotel - is one of the city’s most impressive and eye-wateringly glorious places to lay your head and fill your bellies - as we discovered recently. The grand and gorgeous five-storey hotel, which bumps bottoms with York station, just

outside the ancient walls that surround the city, opened in 2016 following a multi-million pound makeover. And the guests have been flooding in ever since. The revamp has seen it transform into a grand, uber-elegant venue - somewhere where historic, architectural design and modern, New Yorkstyle character effortlessly combine for a slice of hotel heaven. Walking in, your eyes are immediately drawn

to a three-tier glass chandelier, sparkling like nothing else, and the sweeping grand staircase, which takes centre stage in the main lobby and boasts lovingly-restored cantilevered ironwork - definitely worth a photo or two. Then over to the Garden Room, offering views out across manicured lawns to York Minster’s gothic towers. This is probably our favourite spot - and where we spent a good amount of time relaxing before and after days spent shopping and sightseeing on the cobbles. It’s an opulent space indeed; twinkling copper chandeliers, gorgeously high ceilings held up by Victorian-style pillars, huge sash windows that let the sun stream in, plenty of plush mink chairs and sofas, perfectly aligned to as not to overcrowd the room, antique paintings and mirrors, and a soft colour palette of milky pistachio and cream. Solitude can be found here; many of our fellow guests happily took time to just sit by the windows and stare out, with the sun on their face, a paper on their lap and a frothy coffee in hand. Either that, or enjoying a spot of the hotel’s famed Afternoon Tea - there’s nowhere better for it. In fact, we surrendered to scones soon after checking in (a streamlined and fuss-free affair by the way) — and can report that the kitchen gang here put on a mean >






Travel Essentials spread - truly fabulous finger food. Freshly-baked, fist-sized scones, studded with currants and topped with glossy raspberry jam and dollops of thick clotted cream, plus a final tier of dainty cakes and pastries, from macarons and eclairs to mini fruit tarts. Tea is sourced from the Rare Tea Company, which supply the world’s best brews direct from farmers and their tea gardens, and handpicked especially for the hotel by an actual ‘tea consultant’ - who knew? Accommodation-wise, you’re spoilt with a range of modern, mauve-painted boudoirs, decked out with polished marble bathrooms, oodles of wardrobe space and beds made up with the finest Egyptian cotton. We took a spotless double room, though you’d be forgiven for mistaking it for a swanky suite. Not much of a view, but interiors-wise it was dreamy. The large his-n-hers bathroom stole the show, with its walk-in, wet room-like shower, (others are kitted out with Victorian roll-top baths by Villeroy & Boch), white metro-style tiling for that minimalistic vibe championed by the likes of Pinterest and Instagram, and warm (quite literally) chestnut wood flooring. Tearing ourselves away for our evening meal - and brekkie the next morning - was a hard task, though the food we discovered during each visit to the hotel restaurant, The Refectory Kitchen & Terrace, made it worthwhile. We loved this place - really loved it. It’s a conservatory-style dining room, which means it’s bright and airy in the morning, but dark and atmospheric come nightfall, lit up only by tea lights encased in hanging beer bottles. Filled with chocolate leather seats and mahogany table-for-twos, it holds an impressive amount of diners, making for an intimate dining experience - great for date nights or special, celebratory occasions. It’s also open to the public. The chefs here proudly use regional ingredients, such as Whitby crab and Harrogate blue cheese, to create classic British dishes and local favourites - things like Yorkshire lamb, Yorkshire cheese, Yorkshire Parkin and even Yorkshire ale cottage pie.


The menu has had a bit of a switch-up since our visit, but we can vouch for the superb sea bass ceviche for starters (£9). Think melt-in-themouth flesh, wonderfully zingy and silky, spiked with chilli, red onion and tomato. The Refectory burger (£16.95) is a stand-out, too, showcasing butchers beef, charred and juicy, sweet and crispy treacle-cured bacon and oozy Swaledale cheddar encased in a pretzel bun. We finished things off with a selection of strong and creamy Yorkshire cheese (£12.50), plummy chutney and crackers and a glass of the best ruby-red Port that gave a heady caramel twang. A timeless combo done really well - would definitely recommend. G&Ts were had over in the lively Chapter House Bar. Breakfast was nothing short of exceptional; never before have we spent so much time digging into a continental buffet - and with such glee. Forget soggy bacon, watery scrambled eggs and scorched flat cap tomatoes; here you’re given personal pots of thick bircher muesli, made with fresh grated apple and berries (we had two each), bowls of wholesome, homemade granola (make that one each) and fresh Greek yogurt with syrupy, Earl Grey-steeped prunes. Straight-from-the-oven pastries and croissants, too, all fluffy and golden. And if you’re in the mood for something hot (we were), the chefs can whip you up something in the kitchen - from fancy fry-ups to wedges of toasted sourdough topped with all sorts. The smashed avo, flaky smoked haddock and runny free-range eggs ticked all our boxes. Departing the next morning was bittersweet; bitter because we could’ve happily stayed for another week, never mind a night, but sweet because we’d saved the goodies from our complimentary Tuck Box (every guest will find one in their room on arrival) for scoffing on the train home. Reception staff also gave us free bottles of water and fresh fruit post-check out to keep us going. What a thoughtful, hospitable bunch. We can’t wait to return.

Eat here...

If fine dining is your thing, try Melton’s - it has a glowing reputation both online and among locals. It serves up classic British food, with a twist. It’s real posh nosh here; venison tartare, quails egg salad, caviar and guinea fowl and rare breed meat. The same goes for OXO’s Restaurant, where head chef Russell Johnson rustles up hearty Blighty-inspired grub, locally-sourced and made with real gusto. Try the braised ox cheeks and the coffee creme brûlée. The Star Inn’s Brasserie-style bites deserve a mention, too. We love its ‘market menus’, filled to the brim with fresh and sophisticated fish dishes and marvellous meats - most of


which are sourced from nearby. Health nuts in search of brunchy goodness should stop by trendy Filmore & Union. The coconut milk pancakes, tofu quinoa cakes, loaded superfood salads and ‘earth bowls’ are all popular - and delicious. Goji Cafe is also worth a visit, especially if you’re a hungry veggie (or vegan) on-the-go. Great Middle-Eastern and Mediterranean platters.

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Rafi’s Spice Box is a treasure trove of intoxicating powders; a rainbow of freshlyground spices and rubs you can sample and pick up to make authentic curries at home. Planning a visit during the festive period? Käthe Wohlfahrt is a must-visit for all your Christmassy nick-nacks and decorations it’s home to the world’s largest selection of traditional German Christmas ornaments. Hotfoot it to Low Petergate for big brands and, of course, Browns department store for designer beauty buys. A trip to York wouldn’t be complete without a rummage at Shambles Market either, whether you’re on the hunt for vintage gifts and trinkets, or even a just slab or two of artisan chocolate.

Go here...

Stop by York’s Chocolate Story to see a tasty new exhibition telling the story of one of history’s most-loved confectioners - Terry’s. Discover how the brand - makers of Terry’s Chocolate Orange - transformed from humble beginnings in York’s sweet city centre to a world-famous brand. York Food and Drink Festival kicks off from September 22-Oct 1, showcasing some of Yorkshire’s finest producers, chefs and cooking. Expect a large market, pop-up bars, street food, chef demonstrations, tastings, dinners, cookery lessons and more. Just outside of the city centre you’ll find Castle Howard. Go there on October 5 for a talk from one of the people behind ITV’s royal drama, Victoria - he’ll be telling guests why the TV giant chose to film at Castle Howard and revealing stories from behind the momentous visit. Catch the October Finale at York Races from October 13-14.

Travel Essentials

Thai time

Elysia Agnew takes a tour of Thailand, uncovering its best bits and a few hip hotels along the way, from cliff-top villas and sun soaked beach clubs, to paradise coves and city-chic hideaways… Thailand is a place where you can kick off your flip-flops and relax under the striking sunlight. But it’s also a place for adventure – a place where you can hop on a flight or boat and experience something completely unique over the waters. A sand-between-the-toes beach holiday might be your thing. Or it might be that you’re the active type seeking a thrilling, action-packed vacation. Either way, Thailand has it all: from eco-friendly escapades and a bit of beach bliss, to spontaneous island-hopping trips and gritty city breaks. This electrifying, exotic isle ticks all the boxes for a beautiful beachy destination with all the trimmings. I had pieced together my own perceptions of Thailand from many friends’ photographs, tales and tourist spots. A popular, year-round destination for sandy

beaches, lush greenery and crystal clear waters, it has made its way to the top of many a bucket list in recent years. The beauty of Thailand is that every beach, every town, village, city and island is unique in so many ways. And after two nights of browsing the brilliantly bustling Bangkok, we’re in need of a bit of island life and so our tour of Thailand begins in Phuket. First up is Surin Beach. A contemporary haven by the coast, Manathai Surin’s tranquillity and its sleek interiors blend effortlessly, creating a place of pure serenity. This design-led, waterfront hotel invites guests to enjoy stunning views of Surin Beach just footsteps away, while also offering an urban space to eat, sip cocktails and soak up the sun. Everything about this place is charming; laid-back luxury springs

to mind. The double height, open-air lobby boasts comfy armchairs and bold splashes of colour, combining contemporary designs with the easy-going aura of beach life. Surin Beach is an area of spectacular scenery with tropical sunsets, glittering blue lagoons and perfect palm-lined seashores. And with a daiquiri in hand from


a cocktail shack on the beach, there’s nowhere I’d rather be. Just steps from the golden sands, Manathai Surin perfectly embodies the ‘anything goes’ mantra of the beach, but with its very own boutique approach. The aromatic lotus ponds are a defining feature here, reminding guests of the calm waters that surround them. Inside, plush silk fabrics and dark >


Travel Essentials Sunset at Kata Rocks

THAILAND IS A PLACE WHERE YOU CAN KICK OFF YOUR FLIP FLOPS AND RELAX - BUT IT’S ALSO A PLACE FOR ADVENTURE wooden furnishings contrast to create an indulgent sanctuary of luxury Thai living by the coast. A one-hour drive up the coast and over the Sarasin Bridge (connecting Phuket to mainland Thailand), brings us to what I can only describe as beach club bliss - the delightful Akyra Beach Club. A sophisticated, new ocean-side destination sitting on the peaceful beaches of Natai – an area heavily destroyed by the tsunami in 2004. It’s finding its feet and is growing with a number of boutique, beachfront hotels – Akyra Beach Club being one of them. Spread out in beautifully exotic grounds, and decorated with cool blue and whitewashed interiors, the hotel instantly lifts the spirit and calms the soul. It’s hip and it’s modern, but it adopts a traditional beach club vibe where chilled-out experiences and comfort comes first. It’s a little slice of heaven on the white sands. Checked into our garden room tucked away in the trees, I feel like I’ve been whisked away to a luxurious log cabin lost in the jungle. But step outside and you’re seconds from the pool area, which blends onto the beach

Garden Villa at Akyra Beach Club

where leisurely afternoons can be spent supping coconut water and lounging in a hammock with a book in hand. Life is simple here. It’s a place to relax and retreat. With all your après-beach amenities on hand all day, every day, you can happily while away the days here or get involved in various on-site activities including yoga classes, day trips, foodie experiences and specially curated cameos to immerse yourself in the Akyra lifestyle. The sparkling sunset sets the scene as we check in for cocktail happy hour on the beach and the Ibiza beach club vibe rolls on into the night. Akyra Beach is the perfect paradise escape. All you need is a bikini, a book and a bum to sit on, and you’re tucking in to a hefty slice of serious luxury. Our final Phuket port of call is a sumptuous cliff top setting fit for a rock star. A taxi tour to the southwest tip of Phuket takes us to the lush retreat that is Kata Rocks. A dream-like destination of white pavilions and cliff side villas, this beautiful bubble of luxury overlooking Kata Beach takes me to a private Greek isle. White walls, blue waters and private boltholes


with infinity pools hidden within the cliffs – it’s magic. Upon arrival, our personal assistant for the weekend escorts us to our suite in a buggy – our ride for the duration of the stay. Because Kata Rocks has been built into the cliffs, assistants (or ‘Rock Stars’) are on hand all day, every day to shift guests from poolside to spa, spa to restaurant, from restaurant to town, and from town to your villa. You don’t have to lift a finger. Although doing nothing in the comfort of our ‘has-it-all’ cliff top villa is oh-so appealing, we can’t help but get to know this exclusive, boutique resort booking in for both holistic and


culinary experiences. A trip to The Infinite Luxury Spa means a ‘Sense of Thai Aroma’ spa treatment is on the cards and a calming couples massage brings the ‘holiday-body’ back to life. Truly refreshing and rejuvenating. When it comes to the culinary delights of Kata Rocks, we enjoy a romantic, sunset-soaked dinner at the hotel’s restaurant, where Thai-infused lobster seals the deal. The food and wine here is phenomenal. And as good food and wine tastes better when shared, we book up an evening in the majestic wine cellar. The hotel’s sommelier takes us from Bordeaux to Mosel, the Loire Valley and back, sampling a

Travel Essentials Poolside at Manathai Surin

collection of vintage wines and innovative flavours. The wines are playfully paired with an array of artisanal cheeses. Taking the luxury lifestyle to a whole new level, Kata Rocks brings an essence of contemporary, western-inspired flavour to our tour of Thailand. So finally, to bring a bit of rustic, island life back into the mix, we sail over the seas to a taste of real island paradise at Koh Yao – recommended to us as Thailand’s last unspoilt island. Despite

finding the true beauty of Thailand in every destination on our tour, some islands have allowed their perfectly pristine worlds to be chomped up by flash resorts and party people. Meaning you have to search that little bit harder to find that foot-print free sand and those peaceful palm-trees we see in the movies. Koh Yao comes pretty close. A private boat from piers in either Phuket or Krabi will bring you here. To a tiny island with nothing much more than this piece of

paradise and a couple of shacks. It’s simple and it’s all in the name – Paradise, Koh Yao. Hop off the boat, dip your toes in the water and you’re here. There’s no taxi ride to reach the resort. The resort is the island. You step straight into the action – or shall I say heaven. There’s plenty to do if lounging on the beach isn’t your cup of tea, with sports, mindfulness workshops and spa days. But if taking in the island air is what you’re here for, you’re going to love it. Paradise is a jungle getaway and a real retreat in the mountains. Paradise it is – but it’s got a rustic feel too. The rooms are like treehouses and the washrooms are set up on the balcony, so don’t be alarmed if you’re sharing your shower with a creepy crawly. It’s peaceful, it’s playful and takes a bit of getting used to, but you’re certainly at one with nature here. Saying that, the luxurious touches don’t go a miss; with all the amenities you’d expect and more. Nestled within a national reserve


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tropical rain forest and its own private bay, and surrounded by towering limestone cliffs, Paradise is an area of gold and bluedrenched bliss. It’s what you might expect from a true Thai island minus the tourists. It’s a romantic escape incorporating shabby-chic designs and natural materials, without compromising on comfort and convenience. It’s a spot where you can truly harmonise with nature. For me, a thankful victim of the travel bug, falling in love with a new destination isn’t hard. Give me glorious sunshine, warm, white sands and charming villages with lovely, friendly people and I’m in. But there’s something special about Thailand. It’s the perfect blend of tranquillity and adventure and I can’t wait to pop back over for more islandhopping fun.

Travel Essentials

all aboard Embarking on one of Golden Eagle Luxury Trains’ rail journeys might mean riding through China’s ancient cities, stopping off at a desert in Kazakhstan, or enjoying Afternoon Tea as you travel underneath the Northern Lights. Whichever adventure you find yourselves on, rest assured you’re in for a cool, culture-rich ride… For the last 25 years, Golden Eagle Luxury Trains has been operating some of the world’s most pioneering rail journeys. The company’s Voyages of a Lifetime by Private Train journeys operate worldwide through Russia, Central and Eastern Europe, Mongolia, China, Central Asia and Iran, onboard a selection of the world’s leading luxury private trains. Created for the adventure-seeking traveller, the fully-escorted rides transport passengers to fabulous, and often remote, destinations, in the safe and comfort of their very own five-star cabin - which you’re able to retreat to once you’re done exploring.


The one-of-a-kind level of inclusivity offered includes a comprehensive range of off-train excursion programmes for guests to choose from, plus fully-inclusive dining experiences made with the best, local cuisine and served with quality wines, plus overnight stays in some of the finest five-star hotels Europe has to offer. The hardest part, it seems, is just deciding where to go. Fortunately for you, though, we’ve rounded up five of the best tours happening this autumn and into 2018. Passports at the ready…


Travel Essentials

New year in Vienna Venture through the winter wonderland of Central Europe en-route to Vienna for a festive New Year. After two nights in Budapest, guests board the luxury Golden Eagle Danube Express, home for the next five nights. The route heads into Austria and the city of Graz on the cusp of the Alps, for Baroque palaces and tastings of the finest local food and wine, before reaching Vienna in time for New Year.

Do this: Romantic horse-drawn carriage rides, Viennese Waltz dancing lessons and VIP tickets to a New Year’s Eve Gala in the famous ballroom of Vienna City Hall.

Worth booking for: As the clock strikes 12, you’ll be able to step out on to the grand balcony to watch Vienna’s famous New Year fireworks, before dancing the night away to the Blue Danube waltz.

Price: From £5,195 per person, including 3 nights in hotels and 5 nights aboard the Golden Eagle Danube Express. Guests spend the first couple of days of 2018 travelling through the Czech Republic and Slovakia before returning to Budapest at the culmination of their adventure. Departs 28 December, 2017.

South Caucasus explorer This is a unique adventure, weaving through Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan, flanked by the stunning scenery of the Caucasian Mountains. The eight-night tour on board the Golden Eagle begins in the Armenian capital of Yerevan - a city rich with history and where the skyline is dominated by the snow-covered Mt Ararat in the distance.

Do this: The historic monasteries and churches and the shores of the stunning Lake Sevan. Once in Georgia, soak up the architectural charms of the capital, enjoy the wine-making Kakheti region and the cave city at Uplistsikhe.

Worth booking for: The final destination - Baku, Azerbaijan, on the shores of the Caspian Sea. The vibrant city is often likened to Dubai for its cosmopolitan edge and jaw-dropping architecture.

Price: From £8,995 per person, including 3 nights in hotels and 5 nights aboard the Golden Eagle. Departs 17 October 2017.



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WIN overnight stay, including dinner and breakfast for 2

Silk Road & Tibet Connecting west and east, Europe and Asia, this new, one-off 23-day journey-of-a-lifetime takes intrepid passengers from Moscow on board the luxurious Golden Eagle, along the Silk Road to the Tibetan city of Lhasa.

Do this: With each time zone offering travel treasures, highlights are almost too innumerable to count, but our picks are the dramatic Kara Kum desert in Kazakhstan (home to a crater made by geologists more than 40 years ago with roaring flames that have been burning ever since) and Khiva’s majestic mosques and minarets.

Worth booking for: Once in China, you’ll hop

We’ve teamed up with Hotel du Vin to offer one lucky reader an overnight stay, including dinner and breakfast for two at the stylish Bistro du Vin. The essence of the brand lies in its unyielding commitment to doing the simple things well. A love of wine resonates with a substantial wine menu that features many of the world’s best and often relatively unknown wine producers. The substance and style of the bedrooms are completed with attentive touches including Egyptian cotton bedding, monsoon power showers and roll-top baths.

aboard the Shangri-La Express Private Train - the best available private train in China - as well as a high altitude train that’ll take you on a 14-hour daylight journey along the ‘roof of the world’ line to a summit finish in Lhasa, cresting the 5,072-metre Tangula Pass - the world’s highest.

Price: From £16,995 per person, including 8 nights in hotels, 10 nights aboard Golden Eagle and 4 nights on the Shangri-La Express. Departs 22 September, 2017.

To enter visit or email your name and a contact phone number to prizedraw@ stating in the subject line the name of the prize draw you wish to enter. TERMS AND CONDITIONS* The prize includes one overnight stay for two at Hotel du Vin, Newcastle, Harrogate, York or Edinburgh The prize includes a 3-course dinner for two at Bistro du Vin. To be redeemed by the end of November 2017. Bookable Sunday to Friday and subject to availability and key dates. Travel not included.

Trans-Siberian Express (classic route) The Golden Eagle begins its journey along the Trans-Siberian line, after passengers have toured Moscow. You’ll disembark to visit the picturesque city of Kazan, the modern Soviet city of Novosibirsk and the ‘Paris of Siberia’, Irkutsk, before detouring along the shores of Lake Baikal, the deepest lake in the world, and into Mongolia to explore its capital, Ulaan Baatar, ahead of arrival in Vladivostok.

Do this: Covering a massive 11,000 kilometres over two weeks, expect many stand-out moments along the way, including a private viewing of the Kremlin, a glass of champagne with one foot in Europe and the other in Asia at Yekaterinburg (known as the ‘Great Divide’) and learning to cook traditional Russian dishes in Irkutsk.

Worth booking for: Being hauled by a Soviet-Era steam locomotive along the shores of Lake Baikal and swimming in its ice-cold waters and, in Mongolia, visiting a traditional Ger and meeting a nomadic family in Gorkhi-Terelj National Park. Kazan Cathedral is worth snapping, too.

Price: From £11,695 all-inclusive per person, including 12 nights onboard the Golden Eagle and 2 nights’ hotel accommodation. Departs 6 May and 9 June, 2018.



Travel Essentials

Arctic explorer A tour to seek out the Northern Lights with the added bonus of a guest astronomer onboard. Step aboard the luxurious Golden Eagle train in St Petersburg to embark upon a rail adventure deep into the Arctic Circle.

Do this: Russian language lessons, talks on the Northern Lights, Afternoon Tea and vodka tasting sessions.

Worth booking for: After journeying into the Arctic Circle, you’ll leave the train behind to travel by bus across the Russian/Norwegian border to Kirkenes, where you’ll spend two nights. Visit the Snow Hotel, enjoy a husky excursion, go fishing for crabs through ice holes and take a tour in pursuit of the magnificent Aurora Borealis. Rejoin the Golden Eagle to travel to Murmansk, Petrozavodsk, Vladimir and Suzdal en-route to Moscow for a fitting finale.

Price: From £9,695 per person, including 6 nights’ en-suite accommodation on the Golden Eagle in Silver Class and 5 nights’ 4/5* hotel accommodation. Departs 11 February, 2018. For more information, visit



Travel junkie

Stuart Graham is a travel counsellor from Newcastle, creating unique holidays, trips and breaks for a range of clients...

GLOBE TROTTER I put a lot of thought into my clients’ trips. If it’s somewhere I’ve been, I enjoy passing on my experiences to them. If it’s somewhere new to me, I get excited for them and end up wanting to go too! To me, ‘a trip of a lifetime’ means… something big. A trip that you have never had the time or money to do any sooner. To go to places you have always yearned to visit. People moan about air travel so often, but I still think it’s the best way to travel… It still amazes me how you can get half way around the world in less than 24 hours simply by jumping on a plane.

My love for travel was passed on to me from my father… he loved travel, so it’s always something that was instilled in me from an early age. We always had exciting family holidays, usually involving a road trip. Always an adventure. He travelled quite a lot and I remember wishing for the day when I could do the same. As soon as I was 16 I booked my first holiday without my parents. A week on the Norfork Broads in a boat. My most memorable holiday was a ‘round the world’ trip when I was 21-years-old… I left University and bought a one-way ticket via Egypt, Tanzania, Kenya, India, Nepal, Thailand and Indonesia to Australia. I arrived in Oz with just £60 left and found a job within a few days, travelled to New Zealand, then back to Oz and eventually saved enough to return home via Fiji, Hawaii, L.A and New York. I was away 19 months. It was life-changing. The best thing about helping clients plan a trip is the buzz I get when I think ‘they’re going to love that’… I enjoy the research and


If you have the freedom and money to travel the world, I’d say go for it… I would give that advice to absolutely anyone. I’d then ask them if they wanted me to help them arrange it! I’m a backpacking trekker at heart, but I do like the finer things… Especially as I get older. I like to get back to basics when I’m travelling, but then at the end of a trip, love nothing more than a bit of five-star luxury to relax. My favourite travel buddy is my husband Joe… I’m fortunate in that he absolutely loves travel too. Heading off abroad to explore can reveal a lot about your travelling companion - things you otherwise wouldn’t get to know on a day-to-day basis at home.

I just really like it! My most-loved airport is Singapore Changi… it’s one of those huge international hubs where you can see planes arriving and departing from all over the globe. It’s won many accolades and I can totally understand why. It’s so easy to get around, too, and it’s immaculately clean. Check out the airside hotel in Terminal 3 - you can relax in the rooftop jacuzzi while you watch the planes taking off. A great way to spend a long lay-over. The best thing about a tailor-made trip, compared to a standard package holiday, is the experience you get… from the planning, preparation and travelling to when you return, it’s all unique to you. You work hard the rest of the year, so why not treat yourself to a trip of a lifetime? It’s easier than many people think… My tips to anyone heading off somewhere new would be… put together a wish-list and think what it is that you want out of the trip, before speaking to an expert. A good travel consultant will have experience and knowledge about the destination and the travel industry as a whole - they’ll take out the stress. I see people who get themselves in such a mess with itineraries when they attempt to do it themselves online. An in-flight essential of mine is… a guide book about the place I’m travelling to. I’ll read it all on the plane.

My favourite types of travel would have to be touring, self-drives and city breaks… They require research and they have an element of adventure, which is what I love. You learn so much more about a place when you’re arranging these kind of trips.

I enjoy flying with the carriers from the Far East… Singapore Airlines offers such amazing service, great food and drink and entertainment. British Airways still retains a bit of class, too.

I’m a big fan of plane food… what can I say,


Travel Essentials

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Travel Essentials September October 17  
Travel Essentials September October 17