Inspirational Trips and Travel Tips for 2015


At this time of year, when the seasons are changing and minds are racing to the months ahead, conversation often circles around to that much-loved topic: 

TRAVEL

Getting away is always high on everyone's agenda. Last year, the 'hot' spot seemed to be Instanbul. And perhaps London (going through a resurgence, thanks to new hotels such as Ham Yard and old favourites like The Pelham, above). The year before, it was Capri. This year, Cuba is big (a consequence of the recent changes), as is Mexico (Tulum / Mérida), while India and Cambodia are perennial favourites. 

A lot of people are doing textile tours this year, visiting fabric stores and textile museums and other places where they can drink wine and laugh and do needlework in the sun. (See tips below.) Painting trips are also popular — watercolours in the South of France, and oils in Italy. Walking holidays are big, too.


We are having The Travel Conversation in our house at the moment, and it's not looking promising, I have to tell you. The travel budget has disappeared! 

I only have one small work trip planned for this year — to New York and the US East Coast in May for business meetings and to see some gardens with a few people. Apart from that, we're trying to curtail travel activities to save money. I'm being pushed to go to NY in March as well for a few things, and there are some FANTASTIC exhibitions on in Paris and London this year, including the big Lanvin Exhibition (above), but our budget is looking grim. 

If you're having The Travel Conversation in your house at the moment, here are some ideas, insights, and tips to help you through it.

I hope you manage to go somewhere wonderful this year!
Life's too short not to get out and see the world.


SOURCING SECRET (AND CHEAP) HOTELS

There's nothing better than finding a great little hotel and falling in love with it. Even better when few people (other than its devoted guests) seem to know about it. These are the travel gems we dream of: the tucked-away treasures that don't charge a fortune, and are staffed with kind people who make us feel at home, a thousand miles from home. 


Some of my favourites over the years have included The Pelham in South Kensington (red suite above), Bastide Rose in Provence, the Royal Riviera in Cap Ferrat, The Moorings in Islamorada, The Plataran in Borobodur, and many others.

Of course, it's difficult to find these under-the-radar places, but sites such as Tablet Hotels (www.TabletHotels.com), Mr and Mrs Smith (www.mrandmrssmith.com) collate some of the prettiest places into one easy-to-navigate list. Tablet Hotels also organises regular specials — great for picking up plush New York hotels for $99 / night. 

I'm always bookmarking gorgeous little hotels in great getaways to visit on future trips. 76 Main (blue suite above) is my latest favourite. It's sublime hideaway on Nantucket island owned by Lark Hotels who are known for their beautiful and quirky interiors. (www.76main.com) 

But there are always new places to discover. Don't feel that you have to stay in the latest André Balazs hotel every time.



PRIVATE CLUBS V HOTEL

Many people are opting for Air bnb or apartments over hotels, but some still prefer the security, 24-hr service, concierge assistant and wi-fi guarantee of the latter. (And no bond to worry about!) If you want a hybrid that combines the privacy of an apartment with the professionalism of a hotel, try a club. 

Places like The Fox Club in Mayfair, London, are private members' clubs that often allow non-members to stay. The Fox is a great little find. The interior design is on the 'traditional' side (no Kit Kemp here), but if you're worried about style, this place probably isn't for you. (Or ask for a suite; they will often upgrade.) Prices are usually amazingly good for this central Mayfair posi opposite Green Park! There are several of these clubs in Mayfair, so search around. Some are membership only, but they will happily accept members of affiliated clubs – even RACV/NRMA or AAA will do.

In New York, a similar place is the City Club Hotel—although it's more of a hotel with the feel of a club than an actual club. Opt for one of the Mezzanine Suites, which are carved out of a former ballroom, and feature beautiful libraries and ornate ceilings.

The Fox Club, 46 Clarges St, London W1. 
foxclublondon.com




CONSIDER DOING SOMETHING DIFFERENT THIS YEAR

Lots of people I know are going on walking holidays this year. Martin Randall and Abercrombie and Kent are two companies that offer great walking tours, but there would be others in the US and UK. 

Textile tours are another big trend. 

One company, French General in California, organises amazing tours to the South of France every year. The creative retreats include workshops, flea markets, exploring local villages, and of course classes in sewing, stitching, natural dying, paper crafts and mixed media. Sounds fun, doesn't it?

www.frenchgeneral.com



FINDING AFFORDABLE AIRFARES

Two years ago, a couple of young guns brought out a program that compared airfares to find the cheapest days and dates. It was so popular that it prompted a slew of competitors, and now Google has jumped on the bandwagon. Google's Matrix allows you to see the cheapest airfares for a journey on any given day simply by typing in your route and the extreme ends of your travel dates. (It's slow but it does work.) 

Its strength is that it breaks down the airfare into a professional way (including all the taxes), so you can take that airfare to your travel agent or travel company and ask them to either book it, or match the price (which most will do). I found some incredibly cheap airfares were well below what some travel companies, such as www.helloworld.com.au, were offering. 

Skycanner [LINK] also does a similar thing.

[LINK] or matrix.itasoftware.com


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