L Raphael Beauty Spa Martinez Hotel Cannes

How about a wonderful morning at L Raphael Beauty Spa in the fabulous Martinez Hotel in Cannes? Well, who could resist!  I experienced a very effective treatment called Oxy-Peel Anti-Age Treatment.  I am now Red Carpet ready for my busy week at Cannes Film Festival 2017 with the help of L Raphael revolutionary technology and advanced anti ageing skincare products.

L Raphael Beauty Spa Treatments

The treatment lasted over an hour and was so relaxing in a super luxe treatment room with dimmed lights to make me relax and is a multi step treatment using oxygen as well as L Raphael complex LEC-40 to rejuvenate my skin and reverse the visible signs of ageing.

LEFT: After my treatment and hair styling and RIGHT: My Treatment session

The results of my Anti-Age treatment were immediately visible and I’ms sure my skin looked refreshed, smooth and visibly younger!  Infact, I was so pleased that I am seriously considering going to Geneva to L Raphael Geneva to investigate the full 4D Soft Facelift Treatment!

4D Soft Facelift combines 4 different treatments to lift and rejuvenate the skin with an exclusive non-invasive treatment.

The Cannes Film Festival is an action packed couple of weeks, hectic and busy with lots of parties, films, events and crowds!  It was wonderful to enter the peaceful haven of L Raphael and experience the luxury Spa.  I was lucky enough to have a hairstyling with Patrick Nicolieri, who was such a professional and gave me very helpful advice about my hair.

Thank you L Raphael Beauty Spa for a wonderful day and I will be back!

The Grand Hyatt Martinez Hotel Cannes is a magnet for Film Festival crowds, with movie fans waiting for a glimpse of their favourite movie stars as they leave the hotel!  I was greeted by hundreds of people outside the hotel waiting to see their favourite move stars.

Photo: The crowds of Film Fans waiting outside Martinez Hotel, Cannes

Useful information:

Website: http://www.l-raphael.com Telephone: +33 (0)492987490 email: cannes@l-raphael.com

Grand Hyatt Martinez Hotel Cannes http://www.cannesmartinez.com

Visit Oman

“What is Oman like?” friends ask. Well, it is like stepping into a fairy tale of your imagination.  Stunningly beautiful scenery with magnificent Forts and Palaces to explore.  The people of Oman are very special, so friendly and welcoming – particularly if you are British.  This is something of a wonderful surprise, we aren’t always so well received! One of my favourite countries to visit in the Middle East. Definitely worthy of a return trip.

IMG_1228-2
Spot the Royal Palace in the background

Oman, like so many countries in the Middle East has a complex history.  In recent times, following the Dhofar rebellion, Sultan Said bin Taimur was deposed in a bloodless coup in 1970 by his son Sultan Qaboos.  He received help from the British SAS and RAF.  This may explain why British people are received so warmly!

IMG_1276-2

Step into a fairytale with desert, mountains, spectacular coastline all within one small country.  Take a driver and comfortable 4 x 4 and explore! Oman is perfectly safe and you won’t get lost with a driver. If you are feeling adventurous, take off into the mountains.

IMG_1253-2

Nizwa Fort

Discover Nizwa:

Drive up to the ancient fort of Nizwa, a couple of hours drive out of Muscat.  You will step into another world.  Th eFort was built mid 17C by Imam Sultan Bin Saif Al Y’alibi.  Don’t forget to go Nizwa Souk to buy all sorts of treats. http://www.omantourism.gov.om  The Souks are all treasure troves.  Visit Mutrah Souk in Muscat and don’t forget the Gold Souk.

IMG_1252-2

Pass by adorable villages, untouched for centuries, as you drive along.

IMG_1278-3

Pots galore, Dates, date honey, silver jewellery are all specialities here …

Where to Stay?

Ritz Carlton Al Bustan Palace:
I stayed at Al Bustan Palace, a Ritz Carlton Hotel in Muscat. This is everything you would expect of a Ritz Carlton, with an Omani twist.
IMG_1226-3

Ritz Carlton Al Bustan Hotel Oman

The impressive lobby where you will be welcomed with tea and dates.

The hotel has one of the best pools I have every seen.

IMG_0596-2

Beautiful Pool at the Ritz Carlton Al Bustan Hotel

This is a good choice of hotel to come back and relax after a day of adventures. Rather far from Muscat – too far to pop out for dinner, so you are confined to the 3 hotel restaurants. Mind you, Taxis are very cheap – you can always hop in a Taxi. http://ritzcarlton.com/AlBustan

Explore Muscat and don’t miss the Bazaars, the place to stock up on exquisite shawls, traditional silver, dates, spices ….. the choice is endless. Enjoy!

http://www.destinationoman.com

http://www.omantourism.com

SaveSave

 

Photo: Agadir to Essaouira Road, most pics of me taken by @lemanieg

Diva Self Drive Morocco Road Trip.  Your very own Diva shares her tips for a successful, enjoyable and fun trip around Morocco.

First of all, hire a car!  I know this seems obvious but you will be surprised at how easy and carefree driving around is in Morocco!  I hired the car at the airport along with my friend Melanie and we drove straight to Marrakesh, parked up in a secure car park right outside the Medina for 6 euros a night.

Diva Road Trip, the start of our trip in Marrakesh

Marrakesh to Agadir:

Next day, hopped in the car and drove to Agadir for lunch.  The road was a new motorway with hardly any traffic and views of the countryside along the way.

Photo: Stop and chat to some donkeys along the way!

An easy 3 hour drive from Marrakesh to Agadir, a large part on a motorway and we arrived at the seafront of Agadir just in time for lunch.

Delicious Seafood Salad for lunch in Agadir

Another 20 minutes and we arrived at our hotel resort Paradis Plage.  This is set on a fabulous beach and we enjoyed a relaxing couple of days chilling doing Yoga, riding along the beach, Melanie enjoyed surfing.  This is the perfect location for surfing and surfers flock to this part of Morocco to enjoy the waves!

Delighted with my choice of a self-drive hire car!  The best way to see the country in my opinion, I love the freedom to choose where to go and what to do!

On the Road from Agadir to Essaouira

Agadir to Essaouira:

This road is just a joy to drive along.  You will enjoy spectacular sea views and literally step back in time in rural Morocco.  Again the roads are good with very few cars.  As a farmers wife, I particularly enjoyed the rural life and found the old fashioned farming methods and machinery fascinating.

Fun to stop at little market towns along the way

Then you can stop off and explore the markets along the way.  Nearly every little town had something interesting going on.  We felt totally relaxed and safe at all times and everyone was really nice along the way!  The people of Morocco are a delight.

Stocking up on some fruit for the journey

I have never seen Argan trees or Argan oil being produced before and this is the only area of morocco in which you will find these unusual trees.

Spot the Goats clambering in the trees

There are lots of little roadside stalls selling Argan oil as you approach Essouaira but you might be better to wait and buy the oil from a respected producer in Essouaira.

Spot the Camel under the heap of Straw?

Beware speed cameras though!  I confess to receiving a Speeding fine along this road.  Unfortunately the sun was in my eyes and I mistook the policeman for a potential roadside bandit!  I speeded up when I spotted him which was not the best idea to be honest.  All ended well and he saw the funny side in the end and we continued on our way.

Arrived safely in Essouaira!

A few days in fabulous Essaouira,  read my Essouaira blog to find out more, and we continued on to the Ourika Valley in the Atlas Mountains.

View of the High Atlas Mountains

Essouaira to Ourika Valley, Atlas Mountains:

This was quite a trek and involved driving through Marrakesh again!  It would have taken us around 4 hours if we hadn’t got lost trying to find the Kasbah.  I think we put the wrong co-ordinates into the Sat-Nav maybe, not really sure what went wrong! We arrived on market day too….

This was the only time we went off road along some tracks but it was well worth the clic and we loved our stay in the mountains!

Atlas Mountains near Kasbah Bab Ourika 

The views were amazing as was the hiking, Hamman and lunch in a Berber Village.  A thoroughly enjoyable stay in the mountains!

The views from Kasbah Bab Ourika in the Atlas Mountains

Some of our videos!  We managed to keep our sense of humour along the way!

And the Kasbah kindly rescued us in the end!

Hotsquash Top

Happy May!  What to Wear in May? It can be a tricky month with weather ranging from hot, cold, rainy and everything in between.  I am sharing my latest discoveries here.

I have a little insider tip for you …. one of my favourite British clothing brands, Hotsquash is having a flash sale.  Sign up for their newsletter on http://www.hotsquash.com and receive advance notice of bargains from £5 for a £130 dress and many more offers coming up this month!

Sherpa Adventure Gear:

My Sherpa Adventure Gear Scarf

Do you love my Sherpa Adventure Gear Scarf?  I just love it when a combination of great clothes and a really good Charity come together.  Sherpa Adventure Gear was set up in 2004 by Tasha Sherpa, it is a cool outdoor brand with great outdoor clothes.

The company also helps the Sherpa families in Nepal 85% of the product manufactured in Nepal employing 500 people in production centres and 1000 local women hand knitting caps and sweaters.  How great is that!

Sherpa Adventure Gear

Check out their website: http://www.sherpaadventuregear.co.uk

BOOST OXYGEN:

My new beauty secret! I’m going to share it with you……. Boost Oxygen Beauty. I am a fan of Boost Oxygen products, so was delighted to try Boost Oxygen Beauty which contains 98% Pure Oxygen.  Supplementing your body with Boost Oxygen helps to reduce stress, relax muscles, oxygenate the skin and boost skin renewal.

I noticed a positive change in my skin almost immediately.  My skin looks refreshed and definitely younger.  Give it a go!  Take a look at their website. http://www.boostoxygen.life

PAIN DE SUCRE:

PAIN DE SUCRE Cover-up

Pain de Sucre is my go-to swimwear brand on every trip!  I’m wearing their gorgeous cover-up above and I really love it, along with Jimmy Choo Sandals and a local Moroccan Straw bag.

http://www.paindesucre.com

Kasbah Bab Ourika

What a way to end my Diva Road Trip around Morocco! I loved a short stay at Kasbah Bab Ourika in the Atlas Mountains, overlooking the Ourika Valley and will be back.  We drove from Essaouira to the Kasbah enjoying the sights and sounds of rural Morocco along the way.

The Kasbah has a magical setting in breathtaking mountain scenery.  It is a joy to relax, unwind and breath in the mountain air.  The perfect retreat after a hectic stay in the Medina of Essouaira.

Gardens at Kasbah Bab Ourika

The setting and the gardens are a highlight here.  What a treat to find such beautiful gardens high up in the mountains!  Enjoy the outdoor swimming Pool and Hammam.  I stayed in a suite decorated in a simple Berber style, making good use of local materials and fabric.  Simple but chic.

Enjoy a mountain view from the bed in the morning, open the doors and step out into a sweet little private garden to enjoy your morning tea!

Private little Garden outside the suite at Kasbah Bab Ourika

We asked for twin beds but there was the option of a larger bed. The bathroom with a shower was simple but functional.

Bedroom at Kasbah Bab Ourika

Enjoy meals in the charming Courtyard restaurant.

Charming Restaurant setting

We enjoyed breakfast on the terrace and tried a Berber Omelette, which was delicious and you should try when you visit.

Terrace for Breakfast

Hiking:

I would definitely recommend a hike with a local guide arranged by the Kasbah.  Hassan was a wonderful guide for our two hour hike followed by lunch in a Berber house cooked by a Berber family which was delicious and a very unique experience.

Views of the Atlas Mountains on my hike

The food was delicious and vegetarian as we requested.  Definitely a terrific experience!

Walking through Berber Village

Lunch with a Berber family

My drive back to Marrakesh airport was very easy and straight forward and it took me 45 minutes.  Kasbah Bab Ourika is a lovely mountain retreat but within easy access of Marrakesh.  I would recommend hiring a car and driving yourself around in Morocco, we were 2 women and felt safe and happy for the entire trip.  The people of Morocco are a delight.

Kasbah Bab Ourika

Information:

Kasbah Hab Ourika, Ourika Valley, Tnin Ourika, Morocco tel: +212668749547

http://www.kasbahbabourika.com

 

Camel Trek in Essaouira

My Diva Road trip around Morocco with honorary Diva Melanie, photographer for the trip! We loved Essaouira and this is my favourite place to visit in Morocco.  I loved the laid back beach vibe, the beautiful Old Town Medina, friendly people, stunning location ….. can you tell I loved it?  I will be back for sure!  If you go to one place in Morocco, this would be my recommendation.

Essaouira Medina – A cultural and shopping delight! All photos of me taken by @lemanieg

I stayed in a Riad located within the Medina which was a unique and fun experience and something you should do at least once during a trip to Morocco to get a different experience.  The local people were so friendly and I felt like a local after a 3 day stay! However, if you want a more relaxed vibe there are plenty of nice hotels and villas to choose from and you will be spoilt for choice.

Shopping in the Souk at Essaouira

The Souk is a delight, stay away from the main streets and you will find a treasure trove of Spices, delicious Moroccan pastries, just about everything you could wish for!

Pots Galore at Essaouira

I bought some pots, dates, spice mixes to bring home to France.

Camel trekking

Regular readers know I love Camels, so this was heaven for me!  Choose to go on a short trek or overnight and camp.  My Camel trek was a highlight of my trip and I recommend the company I used, see the information section at the bottom of the page.

James, my Camel and me

It was such a treat exploring on James the Camel with just my guide for company.

Then, the next day I used the same company to arrange a horse ride which was just as fun as the Camels but a lot faster!  They have beautiful horses, well looked after and cared for which is essential.

My view between the ears of Aziz

To be honest, for me it just doesn’t get better than this!  Cantering along on a pristine, unspoilt beach on a cracking little horse with a good guide for company.  The perfect morning.

Exploring the Essaouira coastline on a horse

The Old Port:

The Port is a fascinating place to explore and take photos of the iconic blue fishing boats.  Just around the corner are the little fish shack restaurants, where you choose a fish and they cook it immediately.  Delicious, clean and simple food but beware make sure you barter because prices are high.

Old Port of Essouaira

The Old port of Essouaira is charming and iconic for photographers on Instagram!  It is impossible to take a bad photo and the fisherman don’t seem to mind.  The history of the port stretches back into time to 1770.  This was the most important trading port between Europe, Africa and the Americas, originally named Mogador.

Free trade policies were encouraged by Sultan Ben Abdellah who encouraged the settlement of rich merchants and Jews to settle and work in Mogador. This was an important trading port.

Iconic Blue fishing boats

I enjoyed a delicious Lobster lunch at one of the little shacks around the port.  It was the best ever, but very expensive and I should have bartered really!

Delicious Lobster lunch at the Port

Beautiful old ruin in Essaouira

Above is a stunning old building, owned by Jewish traders and abandoned in the 1960’s.  Moroccan law dictates that abandoned properties are left for 100 years incase the descendants owners decide to return and claim the property.

A perfect end to a perfect day

Above is a photo taken admiring the view from one of the bars serving alcohol in Essaouira.  These are obviously popular with visitors to the town!

Definitely put Essaouira on your Morocco itinerary.  We hired a car at Marrakesh Airport and happily and safely drove all around the country from Marrakesh to Agadir to Essaouira to the Atlas mountains to Marrakesh.  The roads are perfectly safe, fellow drivers very well behaved, and the people of Morocco delightful and helpful.  Get out and explore!

The Souk at Essaouira

Information:

Essaouira information: Arrange a Camel, Horse, Quad adventure with: http://www.rando-dunes.com

Book a hotel or Riad by clicking on my Booking.com link on the right hand side of this page

http://www.essaouira.nu

Beach at Paradis Plage Resort

My second stop on our Diva Road Trip around Morocco was at Paradis Plage Surf Yoga and Spa.  Set on a stunning beach, popular with surfers and holiday makers looking for a chilled out relaxation break, it has stunning views of the coastline.

Paradis Plage, view from my hotel suite

A lovely welcome at Paradis Plage!

Enjoying a welcome drink!

The resort is a 20 minute drive from Agadir and I enjoyed a two night stay here.  I spent my time walking on the beach, riding, exploring the area, practicing Yoga and chilling out!  There was a mix of guests from couples, to young families.  There were a lot of children staying and they have a Creche to enjoy.

View from my Premium Suite

My suite was very comfortable and enjoyed a terrace with spectacular views, pictured above.  It was comfortable, modern and clean with a little sitting room, looking out over the sea.

My living Room in the Premium Suite

The bedroom was small but the bed very comfortable and quiet.  I would recommend more wardrobe space!  My usual Diva problem of living out of a suitcase.

My bedroom at Paradis Plage

The bathroom was large with a big shower.  A little kitchen area was a very useful addition too.  You can enjoy the gorgeous Yoga Studio overlooking the beach, a good Surf Centre with instructors, The Spa is very luxurious with a Hammam, Sauna, massages and all the usual Spa treatments.

The Gym at Paradis Plage

I enjoyed the gym at Paradis Plage and a training session with the excellent trainer and a wonderful Yoga session.

Stunning, endless beach at Paradis Plage

For me, the setting of the resort was just so special.  The coastline is unspoilt with unrivalled views and crystal clear sea water.  Enjoy horsehides along the beach on well cared for horses or even a Camel ride!  Relax and unwind in this eco friendly resort.

Resort Pool

Breakfast at Paradis Plage

Then you can enjoy the restaurants here, breakfast pictured above in the Ocean Restaurant was a good selection and choice. We enjoyed a nice evening meal  by the beach at Chiringuito.  There is a good selection of restaurants to enjoy or visit the local restaurants in the nearby villages if you have a car.

 

Information:

http://www.paradisplage.com   Tel: +212 (0)528200382

26 km from Agadir on the route d’Essaouira, Imi Ouaddar

IMG_2428-3Ventimiglia Italy

Go to Italy!

A visit to the markets of Liguria, Italy is a very popular activity especially for food lovers and bargain hunters.  Ventimiglia is just a short train ride from France and people flock over the border on market days, particularly on Friday when hundreds of stalls have something for everyone.  My friends and I love going to Italy – as soon as you leave the french border and (some of, most are nice)  grumpy french people behind you will find a happy, smiling and friendly Italian!  I know, I know it is a huge generalisation but it is TRUE!

Well pop over the border to Italy for some happy people!

The change in the temperament of the people is quite unbelievable!The Italian joie de vivre is infectious and you will soon be smiling too!  Loud and gregarious but quite mad behind a steering wheel, so take care on the roads.  They can be very excitable too and are not as keen on dogs as the french, which is annoying for my pooches Freddie and Zarya .  Although in general the dogs are welcome everywhere they are not doted on quite as much as in France.

I’m not keen on market tat and fake handbags but I do love to buy all my fruit vegetables, pasta Parmegiano cheese and all sorts of delicious foodie delights.  If you go to Ventimiglia there are some wonderful little seafood restaurants for lunch right on the beach.  Turn right before the river and drive into the lovely old town and you have 3 good seaside restaurants by the beach.

San Remo, Italy

I prefer the market in San Remo.  The town is much prettier with beautiful gardens and little restaurants along the seafront.  My favourite food shops are here too!  I go to the Tuesday market.  Catch a train or drive from France.

PicMonkey Collage-2My favourite deli in San Remo – you can’t miss it near the market

PHOTO: My favourite deli!

Say hello if you go to this Deli, with the best aged Parmesan I have ever tasted.  I buy a massive chunk and pop it in the fridge at home, it lasts for months.  Say hello if you visit, maybe they will give me a discount!

There are many plant growers in this part of Italy too and I buy some fabulous things for the garden.

italy-2San Remo town centre flower stall and food stall at the indoor market

The indoor market in San Remo is a treasure trove, keep walking up the hill and you will see it on the left hand side.  The usual fresh fruit and vegetables along side some Ligurian delicacies.

IMG_1623

Old town in San Remo

You will love all the little clothes shops in San Remo and rummaging around in the old town before indulging in a delicious real Italian food lunch at any of the countless family run restaurants.  My favourite market day lunch is lobster spaghetti – yum!

There are so many little family run restaurants to choose from scattered through the old town.  I like to lunch near the sea and the Port and enjoy the catch of the day fish.

PHOTO; Port at San Remo

There are some nice beaches just outside the town going towards Genoa.

And now over to my collaborators Paolo and Amalia, who are a little further south in Genoa, a wonderful city and if you are there make sure not to miss the red and white museums.  They are Italian and so can give us a real Italian perspective, which is great. Hang around the World:

italiano
The markets are really interesting places where you can learn about different aspects of the city, such as: traditions, history and the smells of the city but also everyday life. It is an opportunity to get inside the city and meld with it.
Every city has its own market and Italy is full of typical markets but today we’re going to know one in particular… Mercato Orientale located in Genova.
The market is in via XX Settembre and it is housed in a large and historic structure. Entering you can already immerse yourself in the flavors and in the smells of the city, thanks to the various street food stalls that sell typical products of the city.
We tasted the delicious pinolate (almonds and pine nut cookies). Continuing the tour you can find fruit and vegetable stalls. Looking through these, we knew the preboggion a mixture of wild herbs typical of Ligurian cuisine. There are also stalls with a wide assortment of meat and fish from the Ligurian sea (such as: triglia di scoglio, orate, acciughe, pesce spada… ). We also have spotted a bakery and a fresh pasta stall that had a really inviting look. Then we had a break in a cafè always inside the market.
After this we continued our tour and we headed to a colorful exposition of plants and flowers of all kinds. Continuing in that direction we came across other stalls that sold clothing, housewares, footwear and there was also a costume jewelry store. Finished our tour we can say that we have found lots of cordiality (in fact we chatted with a sweet old lady who was at the fruit stall with us and she has revealed that what is not in the market, doesn’t exist that means that there you can find everything you need) and also organization and cheapness of the products.
If you were there we hope we have made you relive those moments, if you haven’t been there you just have to visit it and watch the market with your own eyes.
We hope you enjoyed this tour in the Genova market and we hope that it has been helpful. Bye and a big kiss to everyone – Hang Around The World

SaveSave

Insider London

Insider London by Rachel Felder

Published by Harper Collins http://www.hc.com

“A man who is tired of London is Tired of Life” So said Dr Samuel Johnson.  These are very wise words indeed!  I have lived in London and visited all my life and still cannot wait to visit again to explore some of the hidden gems in this book! This is my review of an excellent and useful book that I recommend you buy before a visit to London.

It is eclectic and diverse with everything from old favourites to small and quirky museums, shops, Cafes, restaurants and hotels.  The best Parks, gardens and open Spaces also feature in the book.

Insider London

Art Galleries, live music venues.  There is literally everything possible for a fun and interesting trip to London all neatly divided into different categories.  Every cool, insider shop address and some small new discoveries.  I want to visit James Smith and buy a Parasol!  Who knew where to buy the best umbrellas and Parasols?  Where would you find the best markets to visit?  Read the book and find out.

Insider London

I cannot wait to try some of the new restaurant recommendations that feature along side some old favourites.  The best bars? Well, an old favourite of mine is The Connaught Champagne Bar but I also want to try some of the new bars featured in the book.

Insider London 

I like some of the hotels, some I have never heard of before.  Read the book and find out which ones you like.  Then you can find some small museums in another chapter.  Who knew you could see the skeleton of  a British Monarch and his wife? Read the museum section!

Insider London is a very good guide to the most stylish shops, Restaurants and Cultural Experiences.  You can buy it online at http://www.amazon.com or in bookshops Stateside now and in the UK from May.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.  Congratulations to Rachel Felder for writing such a great book!

IMG_2129

 

5 Things to do on the Cote d’Azur  People always think we live impossibly glamorous lives on the Cote d’Azur and we do!  They visit and want to experience a little of this lifestyle and often return home a bit disillusioned.  It is a mistake to get onto a ‘tourist treadmill’ and visit the tourist traps.

I am going to show you where we go on the Cote d’Azur, follow my itinerary and you will have a wonderful day, living like one of us!  I hate Nice, it is crowded, full of depressed looking tourists and to be avoided.  I’m going to give you a day on the Cote, east of Nice.  This is the best bit and a lot of my friends agree (the ones who don’t live in Nice, of course!  They are probably gnashing their teeth right now).

Start the day at:

Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, Saint Jean Cap Ferrat

http://www.villa-ephrussi.com   The stunning villa is now owned by les academie des beaux-arts http://www.les-academie-des-beaux-arts.fr .  The original owner Beatrice de Rothschild created  a villa inspired by the Italian Renaissance.  Visit the villa and the exceptional gardens.  If you are a gardener, like me, you will love to explore the grounds.  Events are held here throughout the summer months, so check out the website.  You might be lucky enough to get tickets!

Fete des Roses is an annual event in early May

Stop for a reviving coffee down by the sea and then take a walk.

Saint Jean Cap Ferrat – Morning Walk

We all like to exercise here, it is very easy when the weather is sunny and it is wonderful to be by the sea in the great outdoors.  Also essential for all the eating, drinking and partying!  Enjoy the wonderful views and work up an appetite by walking the coastal walk from Saint Jean Cap Ferrat to the port in Beaulieu for lunch,  You can’t get lost, just keep going until you arrive in the port!  On the way you will walk along a stunning coastal path, passing by some beautiful villas, such as the Belle Epoque once owned by David Niven, look out for the plaque.

Lunch in Beaulieu

Then have lunch on the port in Beaulieu.  You are spoiled for choice with a row of nice portside restaurants.  I like The African Queen, it is open from 12 til 12 and you will never feel rushed.  Fresh fish, good food, fabulous view and impeccable service. http://www.africanqueen.fr

african queen3

Afternoon at Cap d’Ail Beach

Then Time for a little nap on a sun lounger, with a handsome waiter to bring you a cool reviving glass of something cold?  Drive along toward Monaco, or jump on a train http://www.horairetrain.net and head to the beach at Cap d’ail.  You will find a row of beach restaurants with sun loungers to hire for the afternoon.  This beach is never crowded and you can have a little rest and summon up some energy to hire a windsurfer, kayak or surf board right here on the beach.  They have really patient instructors if you need a lesson, if not jut hire whatever takes your fancy. Or, if you want a really small, quiet beach for a siesta and swim, either drive a little further or get off the train at the small Roquebrune Station and walk 2 minutes down the steps to Plage de Buse.

IMG_1908

This is my favourite little secret beach and there is a revamped beachside cafe for drinks or lunch there that is very good and my dogs were welcome.  The Larger Plage Bleu is just a few hundred yards to the right and the Corbusier sea path at the end of the car park.  This is one of my favourite sea walks and is wonderful after the first bit running alongside the railway.  Spot the Corbusier seaside house on the walk and enjoy gorgeous views.

plage

These are lovely family beaches with free parking. Say hello if you see us there!

Evening in Monte Carlo

You will be spoiled for choice with fabulous restaurants here, ranging from small family owned informal places to 3* Michelin restaurants.  This is one of the upsides of providing an enclave for rich tax dodgers, they have some lovely places to be entertained!  This week we enjoyed a lovely meal at Buddha Bar Monaco, so I shall tell you about it:

Buddha Bar Monte Carlo

http://www.buddhabarmontecarlo.com  Pop in for cocktails downstairs or treat yourself to dinner in this stunning old building that was originally a theatre and has retained all of the best architectural features. The fusion food is delicious, we tried a set menu for 85 euros,  and look forward to our next visit.  I’ll make do with some Buddha Bar compilations until the next time!

buddha bar

 

There is always something exciting and interesting going on.  Take  look at the website for up to date information. http://www.visitmonaco.com

IMG_2900Pit Stop Bar and Lounge

There is a new Ferrari themed bar at the Sporting Club in Monaco for summer to check out http://www.pitstopbarandlounge.com

IMG_2448

Iconic Monte Carlo Casino

There are so many terrific things going on at the moment in Monaco.  http://www.montecarlosbm.com

I love going to the ballet and Philharmonic Orchestra http://www.balletsdemontecarlo.com

Remember, this is a day out for whatever budget.  If you are splurging, choose the restaurants above but you are also spoiled for choice with countless other small, good inexpensive places.  A train ticket is so cheap and one of the prettiest railway journeys in France between Nice and Menton. http://www.ter.sncf.com

IMG_3013-2

Beautiful Abbaye de Lerins                http://www.abbayedelerins.com

My favourite things to do on Ile St Honorat

Visit Ile St Honnorat.  If you are staying anywhere near Cannes on the Cote d’Azur, I recommend a visit to Ile St Honorat.  Spend a day on this peaceful and beautiful island and you will have very special day.

Firstly, you have to get there and ferries run from the port of Cannes every hour on the hour in summer time and the trip is very short,just 15 minutes.  You can of course hire your own boat and moor off shore or in a tiny harbour on the island.  The waters between the two Iles de Lerin are really popular with yachts and there is a veritable traffic jam in the summer months as people all enjoy the crystal clear sea water and beautiful environment.

IMG_3086-2

The water between the two Iles Lerins is always popular in summer!

I like to take a stroll round the island taking a peek at the immaculate vineyards, growing a variety of grapes which are then turned into delicious wine by the monks living on the island.  The plants and flowers are wonderful and a lot of work must go into making everything look so perfect.

IMG_3075-2

Perfectly tended vineyards

IMG_3030-2

Lavender growing on the island

The olives from the trees, grapes from vines and lavender growing in the gardens are turned into wonderful products by the monks and you can buy these online if you aren’t lucky enough to visit the island.  The quality is superb and I recommend them all! http://www.excellencedelerins.com

IMG_3027-2

I adore the feeling of peace and tranquility on the island, as soon as I step ashore all stress seems to  miraculously vanish.  There is a very special atmosphere here, after Saint Honoratus founded a monestery in the year 410 and 16 centuries of monastic life on the island interrupted here and there.  The Cistercian monks have lived and worked on the island and living a life of prayer in the Abbaye since 1869.

IMG_3036

Dogs are welcome on the island, Freddie and Zarya enjoyed their day out.

After a walk, visit the Abbaye which is absolutely stunning with the most beautiful gardens.  I can’t honestly say I have ever considered becoming a monk but a visit to Ile St Honnarat makes me think that it is a very wonderful way of life.

IMG_3019-2The Abbaye organises retreats for people to go and stay on the island, which must be a perfect place for contemplation.

IMG_3025-3

Every plant is beautiful here

abbaye

A short stroll away teetering on the sea edge is a 15th century fortified monastery which you can also visit. Don’t forget to pop into the shop by the Abbaye and buy some products made on the island by the monks, including honey and olive oil.

IMG_3004-215c Fortified Monastery

Then Time for lunch at Le Tonnelle Restaurant a short 5 minute stroll away.  The food is delicious, as is the wine.  The island and the restaurant allow dogs, so Freddie and Zarya were able to come along and enjoy the day too.

le tonnelle

You can buy some wine to take home at a pretty shop right by the restaurant.

IMG_3085-2

After lunch, time for a little nap and swim in one of the pretty coves that you find dotted around the island so don’t forget to pack your swimwear.

IMG_3042 (1)

Beautiful little coves for swimming

 

You can wear a swimsuit for a little swim but dress respectfully everywhere on the island and don’t wander around scantily clad.

After a reviving cup of tea back at Le Tonnelle restaurant, head back to Cannes on the ferry.  The end of a perfect day!

IMG_3091-2

The view on the boat ride home to Cannes at the end of a lovely day!

Practical Info:

Ferry information: http://www.trans-cote-azur.com   Abbey: http://www.abbayedelerins.com  Restaurant La Tonnelle (reservation recommended: http://www.tonnelle-abbayedelerins.fr

 

 

Photo: I’m about to take a dip in the sea. 

Skinny Dipping in The South of France. I’ll tell you which are my favourite beaches.

IMG_3365Baie de Pampellone, Saint Tropez. View from the naturist beach

The best naturist beaches in the South of France. Who loves skinny dipping in the sea?  Is there any better feeling than being at one with nature and stripping off on a hot day?  I’m going to tell you about the best naturist beaches in the South of France and where to avoid.

You have to be careful which beaches to visit in the South of France.  There is a naturist beach in Eze but it is a beach mostly enjoyed by gay men.  I would avoid this beach unless this is the kind of beach you like.

SAINT TROPEZ

Photo: Pampellone Bay, Ramatuelle

Let me know if you have any beaches to add to this list!  I would love to hear of new discoveries.

However, I love the naturist beach at Saint Tropez which is full of fellow naturists and you will not receive any unwelcome attention and it is not sleazy.  All different nationalities and ages happily enjoying the sunshine in a totally natural way.  This is my favourite beach and great restaurants too!

IMG_3366Saint Tropez Ramutuelle Beaches

Follow the Ramutuelle coast road out of Saint Tropez for a few kilometres until you see a sign on the left for the beaches, turn left.  Drive until you see the sign above and take the right turn.  You will come to a huge car park which costs 4.50 euros for the day.  Park your car and walk straight onto the beach, it is flat and just a few metres away.

Photo: Freddie and Zarya on the Naturist beach

The beach is allows dogs on leads, so Freddie and Zarya love to visit too!

IMG_3370Yachts mooring in Baie de Pamplona

They wonderful thing is that there is a lovely mix of naturists, families picnicking and clothed sunbathers so there is a lovely,  cool atmosphere and it is very laid back.  Take your pick from several little beach cafes and restaurants along this stretch of beach.  The water is sparkling, clean and very beautiful in the Baie.

Photo: Restaurant Yape Yape

Then you can have lunch right on the beach at a sweet little beach shack restaurant called Yape.

Photo: Yape Restaurant, Ramatuelle Beaches

Might just see you there!

SAINT RAPHAEL:

Plage Villa Dani

Another favourite spot is on the road between Theoule sur Mer and Agay.  This is the most stunning coastline with gorgeous little coves amongst the red rock of l’Esterel, drive along and take your pick of beaches that will not be crowded even in high season.  This is because of the accessibility.  You will need a car or get on a bus at Theoule sur Mer.

photo 1

L’Esterel red rock along the coastline

The beach is a little tricky to find.  It is Cap Roux Naturist Beach, Route de Trays, 83700 Saint Raphael – Agay.  Park at Cap Roux car park and walk along the road until Villa Dani bust and you will see the steps down to the beach.

photo 4Empty beach even in July!

photo 3Saint Raphael to Agay Beaches

If you do not like the idea of a naturist beach, there are countless little beaches and coves all along this stretch of coast road.  Look out for the blue signs and steps down to the beaches.

IMG_3121

My Favourite Naturist Beach ever? The small island of Formentera near Ibiza has the best, most beautiful naturist beaches!

Helpful Information

Tourist Office Saint Tropez http://www.sainttropeztourisme.com

Saint Raphael Tourism: http://www.saint-raphael.com

Where to eat on the beach in Saint Tropez: There are lots of beach restaurants to choose on the beach.  My favourite is Yape Yape on the naturist beach.  Friendly, not expensive and very chilled atmosphere.   A slightly longer stroll towards Saint Tropez is  Club55, 43 Blvd Patch, Ramatuelle http://www.club55.fr

Where to stay: How about renting a villa or an apartment nearby http://www.abritel.fr

 

My fabulous trips for International travel, save money too! It is a great time of year to find a bargain. Make sure your get online and follow some of my tips.  I’m busy looking for some bargains myself right now!

Booking A Trip:

– Have you ever noticed that the price of airfares seems to go up if you search several times for a flight online? This isn’t your imagination! The price goes up incrementally if you browse several times for a flight on the same website. My top tip is to look around websites for the flight  and erase your browser history before you book.

This applies to hotel booking websites as well so make sure to erase all of your browser history before booking.

IMG_0637

– Join as many airline loyalty programs as possible. Those points and Airmiles really add up and you will soon be getting upgrades or upgrading with points accrued. I also think the airline treats you better apart from remembering all of the little things that make longhaul trips that little bit more comfortable such as meal and seat preference.

– Stay in new hotels/resorts. These are the places that want to fill up with guests and establish a good reputation and they are the ones that will upgrade you to a suite or give really good rates. Alternatively, get a hotel loyalty card and stay within the same hotel group, using the card each time and you will always be upgraded.

Apply for Airline Credit Cards with Free Airmails.  Often you have to spend a certain amount on the card to get the free airmails.  Only do this if you can afford to pay off the card, do not rack up debt. If you make sure you spend the minimum amount to get the free airmails but be careful to pay off the card each month, you will accrue enough for a trip before you know it!

This tip might be stating the obvious but DON’T travel in high season!  Go during the cheaper months.  November, for example is a great month to travel and has the bonus of being miserable weather in Europe at that time!

Packing for A Trip:

I’m always being told “Travel light” to which I say “WHY!” Take everything you could possibly need for a comfortable trip and more.  I always have to buy things travelling light and so it can be a false economy. I take an empty case too, whenever possible, to fill with treasures I buy on the trip.

Jetlag:

You will never suffer from jet lag if you follow my tips!
IMG_0824
1. Don’t drink alcohol on the day you fly or during the flight.  It doesn’t matter if everyone around you is guzzling champers – just stick to orange juice, water and Camomile tea. Boring, but it makes a big difference to the way you feel on arrival.

2. Take a Vitamin C tablet with the water to boost your immune system, Berroca is perfect also, use eye drops throughout the flight to stop horrible dry eyes.

3. Apply Lavender essential oil to pulse points to soothe and calm – you will sleep well and relax.

4. Splosh your favourite moisture on your face and spray with an Evian face spray throughout the flight.  I probably drive anyone near me completely mad with all my spraying!  IT WORKS, I don’t know why more people don’t do it.  I use eye drops throughout the flight whenever I am awake.

5. Wear the airline pyjamas, or take your own lounge wear and be comfortable.

6. Go to sleep! Don’t waste time watching terrible films. Put on an eye mask and the headphones with some soothing music, press the ‘bed’button and sleep. Wake up in time for breakfast fully refreshed.

7. Oh, one more thing – Ignore all the gourmet menu offerings!  I know, it all looks very tempting but you will thank me when you arrive as fresh as a daisy. Eat a light salad and maybe some fruit.

8. I also adjust my watch to the destination time about 3 hours into the flight, this allows your body clock to slowly adapt to the new time zone.

9. Longhaul – try and book an overnight flight, it is easier to sleep and be well rested.

10. Always adapt immediately to the time at your destination. Do not be tempted to sleep before nighttime. If you feel tired, take a walk.

11.  Go to the hotel gym and exercise, you will feel great after a run!  Energised and your tired muscles will wake up.

_ It doesn’t matter if you are travelling First, Business or Tourist, the same rules apply.

Voila! You will look as fresh as the mountain dew when you arrive and feel great.

 

TRAVELLING WITH DOGS
IMG_0806

– Travelling in Europe, you will need to get a pet passport.  This is really straightforward just go along to your vet, check all injections including rabies are up to date.  The only other requirement, other than a pet passport is a health check which must be undertaken by a vet between 24 hours and 5 days before travel.  Now you are ready to go!

– Air France, Iberia, Vueling and various other european airlines will allow dogs to travel in the cabin with you.  However, this only applies to small dogs and they must be in a pet carrier.

– It is a pleasure to take your dogs around Europe, especially France and Monaco – probably the most dog friendly countries in the world. Dogs are welcome in hotels and some restaurants and always on restaurant terraces. Some hotels do charge a fee for a dog to stay.

My favourite airlines:

Qatar Airways: http://www.qatarairways,com Etihad http://www.etihad.com

Emirates: http://www.emirates.com

Pet Travel:  http://www.eurotunnel.com  http://www.gov.uk

SaveSave

I’m spending time at my home on the Cote d’Azur this Springtime.  Luckily I drive down from the Uk so load the car with lots of clothes and essentials!  I will share my what to wear tips with you and hope they may be useful if you plan a trip here too. My What to Wear on the Cote d’Azur in Spring!

Basically, take everything you possibly an fit in your suitcases – it can be cold, warm, sunny or rainy at this time of year.  Luckily we are enjoying glorious sunshine so I can wear my lovely new clothes.  I have packed my Christian Dior raincoat just in case!

 

Monaco Port wearing Burberry Jeans and Pinko Jacket

I have packed my Hotsquash London blue and white striped Nautical style top and pretty floral dress which are just perfect.  Hotsquash clothes are specially designed and have hidden technology in the fabric. There are two collections ne designed to keep you warm and one designed to keep you cool.  How clever is that!  Super chic but practical too.  I can testify that they do not crease in a suitcase either!

The cool collection with Coolfresh is designed to keep you cool and regulate your temperature.  The fabric is so soft and comfortable, a pleasure to wear.  Easy care too so perfect for my travel lifestyle.   The Warm collection is designed to keep you warm so you need fewer layers when the weather is chilly.

Hotsquash London was created in the UK and is a growing company with many loyal customers.

My gorgeous Hotsquash Top below, looks great doesn’t it!

Cafe de Paris, Monaco wearing Hotsquash Top, Louis Vuitton Sunglasses

Hot squash Top, Max Mara Trousers, Hermes Bag, Louis Vuitton Sunglasses

I love wearing my pretty Hotsquash dress.  Perfect for lunch out with friends.  Take a look at their website, such a great choice of wearable, gorgeous clothes!

Hot squash Dress, LK Bennett Shoes

Lovely Springtime dress, which will take me to so many different places during my  trip to France.

Cashmere Rebel http://www.cashmererebel.co.uk

I already have a lovely Pashmina from Cashmere Rebel and now I have a beautiful Summer Beach Scarf too!

Cashmere Rebel Summer Beach Scarf, Wolf and Whistle Swimsuit

Made from fine eco cotton, it is so versatile and I am wearing it as a Sarong, scarf, bandana and beach wrap! It costs £79 and you can buy online from Cashmere Rebel.

Cashmere Rebel Summer Beach Scarf, Max Mara Shirt, Burberry Jeans, Jimmy Choo Boots

Not just a beach scarf as you can see in my photo above! So versatile.  Remember, it can be very warm in the daytime but chilly in the evening.  Prepare for colder days too.  I always pack a blazer, so useful for dressing up or down and a classic.

 

 

Disclaimer: Some of the products and clothes are gifted to me. I only accept gifts from companies that I love and use all the time. If I write about something and say I like it, I really do like it and use it. Also, some of my trips are invitations or subsidised. I only go to places that I really like so my recommendations are always impartial.

 

My Review of Corinthia Hotel St Petersburg:

Are you wondering where to stay in St Petersburg?  It is so difficult when you don’t know a city, or the best areas in a city in which to be to be located, or have any clue about the hotels!  I know this because I faced the same dilemma.  I chose Corinthia Hotel because it is an excellent hotel and also it is located right on Nevsky Prospect.

Nevsky Prospect is the main street in St Petersburg and could not be a more perfect location!  A lot of the places you will want to explore are within walking distance including the main shopping area, the best stores, Faberge Museum, canals and famous churches.  The  Neva River is at the beginning of Nevsky Prospect alongside the Hermitage Museum.  The Metro is also close by. The Hotel is situated in the middle of Nevsky Prospect. Perfect!

Hotel Entrance

Another reason I chose this hotel is because it is a Corinthia Hotel, a company which has such a great reputation.  The Hotel Group is still relatively small and family owned and this makes such a difference.  You cannot go wrong with this hotel, I was so happy with my choice and it definitely has the LuxuryTravelDiva seal of approval.  Regular readers know how fussy I am!  This is one of the cleanest hotels imaginable, the attention to detail cannot be faulted in any way.  It is a beautiful, comfortable hotel with lovely staff.

The Lobby:

First of all, arrive and enter the stunning lobby and check in at Reception located on the right hand side.

The Lobby with perfect floral displays

Enjoy the absolutely stunning Lobby area with a magnificent staircase.

Lobby with great artworks

The Lobby is very impressive with its high ceilings, comfortable seating and  perfectly placed bar right in the middle! Then you will be whisked up to your fantastic hotel room.

HOTEL SUITES AND ROOMS:

There is a good choice of hotel Suites and rooms to choose from here.  Take a look at the hotel website for all the information.

Junior Hotel Suite:

Junior  Suite at Corinthia St Petersburg

I was lucky enough to stay in a lovely Junior Suite with its own outside terrace.  Although it was too cold in early March to sit outside.  The bed was a Super King size and really comfortable.  I like the Pillow menu very much!  You will feel so comfortable in these super stylish hotel rooms which so beautifully decorated.

Welcome Treats

Great little touches such as the Nespresso machine, tea and coffee are always welcome in a hotel room as are welcome gifts, the Macarons and cake made me feel very special and welcome.

Nespresso Machine, tea and coffee

The room was so restful, the perfect calm retreat after a busy day exploring the city of St Petersburg.  There was a nice working area with a desk and plenty of electric plugs and large wardrobe space with plenty of hangers.  A particular bugbear of mine!

Work area in the Junior Suite

There is a really good 24 hour Room Service menu.  I tried a Prawn Caesar Salad which was delicious!

Room Service

Bathroom in the Junior Suite

Who doesn’t love a fabulous bathroom? Especially with a large bath and a built in TV to watch!  Also complete with a large shower, great lighting and sumptuous Espa products.

Bath room in the Junior Suite with built in TV

Luxurious Bathroom in the Junior Suite

The Royal Suite:

Then I took a peak at the Royal Suite, which would be amazing if money is no object!  You would be joining some very famous faces who have slept in the Royal Suite, I will be discrete and not name names!  It is absolutely splendid.

The Royal Suite

Have you noticed the lovely light fittings and lamps?  Every light fitting in Corinthia Hotels is unique and made especially for the hotel, they are very beautiful and another example of attention to detail.

The Royal Suite

If you feel like splashing the cash, I really recommend this gorgeous suite with 2 bedrooms, dining room and super luxe sitting room.

Royal Suite, you will never want to leave!

The Executive Lounge:

Executive Lounge.   This Photo is by Masha Vetchinkina

The Executive lounge was a quiet haven to relax and enjoy a glass of wine or light meal or snack through out the day.  It was a nice place to enjoy breakfast away from the busy Breakfast in the Dining Room.  I travelled alone and particularly enjoyed the peaceful lounge as I was by myself.  The staff are so wonderful too.

Executive Lounge at Corinthia Hotel St Petersburg

HOTEL LOBBY AND NEVSKY BAR:

There is a cosy bar located right in the lobby so you can enjoy a drink while relaxing and watching the world go by.

Bar located in the Lobby

I can recommend the Russian Champagne (a new experience for me) and the local beer. But all sorts of  delicious treats await!

RESTAURANTS:

The Imperial Restaurant is located on the first floor.  Have your breakfast here and delicious lunches and dinners, enjoy Mediterranean dishes.

Imperial Restaurant

The restaurant enjoys magnificent views of Nevsky Prospect.  Watch the world go by as you eat a delicious meal.

Breakfast at Imperial Restaurant

Delicious Omelette for breakfast together with a glass of Champagne which is a very nice treat at breakfast time. The breakfast selection is huge.   I’m missing all the Champagne since I arrived home!

Vienna Cafe

A celebrated Tea and Coffee house which has an amazing selection of cakes and pastries.  I noticed that St Petersburg is full of delicious Patisseries actually!  Lunch and dinner are also served here.  I enjoyed a delicious Caesar Salad here.

FITNESS CENTRE:

Keep fit while you travel in the well equipped Fitness Centre.

 

Work off your lunch in the Fitness Centre which enjoys stupendous views over the rooftops of St Petersburg.  The gym is small but well equipped, I enjoyed using it every day and a took a Sauna up in the Fitness Centre too.  I particularly like the fact that men and women both have their own Sauna in the changing rooms.  Everything was absolutely spotless as it is throughout the hotel.  Credit must go to all the Housekeeping staff.

BUSINESS MEETINGS AND FUNCTIONS:

The Corinthia Hotel is in popular demand amongst the Russian and International business community.  There is a Business Centre located on the First Floor ready to help with all business needs.  Conference Rooms and Function Rooms are first class.

The hotel has the largest ballroom in St Petersburg and holds some wonderful functions throughout the year.

Function and Ballroom details

The tiniest details are just perfect, look at the gorgeous pompom curtain ties and magnificent Chandeliers.

Ballroom at Corinthia Hotel St Petersburg

THE STAFF:

A hotel, no matter how fabulous, is as nothing without good staff.  Everyone at Corinthia Hotel is super professional, helpful, welcoming and very kind.  I found them all to be delightful.  I was particularly impressed with the Lady concierges who went above and beyond to make my stay special.  However, everyone from the luggage handlers upwards could not be faulted.  Thank you all for making my stay so enjoyable and I look forward to a return visit.

Helpful information:

Corinthia Hotel, Nevsky Prospect 57, St Petersburg

Tel: +7 812 3802001  E.mail: reservationsstpetersburg@corinthia.com

There is 50% off bookings at the moment  so check the hotel website http://www.corinthia.com or click on the Booking.com link on the right hand side of this page.

The Hotel has secure parking, Free WIFI and late check out

 

Photo: Pegasus painting of Naomi Campbell

I absolutely love these paintings by Pegasus.   He is so talented!  I loved my What’s App chat with him and we will definitely have cocktails together when we are both in London at the same time!  He told me he wants to convey a message of love and acceptance in his work.

Pegasus is a North London Street artist well known for painting popular culture’s most recognisable icons to produce great pieces of stencilled art. His work is innovative and, and sometimes controversial. He uses bright, bold colours in his pop-art style stencils, which often include shades of blue, pink and red.

Originally from California, he is heavily influenced by Andy Warhol, Daren West the Neon Artist and of course Banksy.

Pegasus is on Camden Council’s “Do not remove” list, which means his work is protected and you don’t need to walk far in London to discover artwork produced by this talented street artist. St Giles Hotel have chosen to form a creative partnership with Pegasus.

Pegasus spent three months working on the bespoke pieces and two months creating outlandish outfits for the front of house staff. The artist chose to immortalise The Queen, Amy Winehouse, Naomi Campbell and David Bowie in artwork which will be available for tourists and Londoners to see in the  Tottenham Court Road property.

Photo: Pegasus’ painting of The Queen

Each work features a portrait of a London legend holding a dripping paintbrush with a neon, graffiti-style heart behind them, giving the illusion that the subject has painted the portrait.. The heart theme was developed in line with the St Giles Hotels charity, Hotels with Heart*. St Giles has also commissioned Pegasus to create a unique pin badge, scarf and tie as part of the uniforms, which will be available to purchase with 100% of proceeds going to the charity.

The Pegasus takeover of St Giles London is part of a brand-wide upgrade across all St Giles Hotels in the UK. The group has 11 properties worldwide including a hotel at Heathrow Airport and will soon be breaking ground on a second Central London property on a 1.8-acre site in Blackfrairs. The Tottenham Court Road property is the first to begin redevelopment with renovations of the lobby and guest lounge areas that was completed with the new works of art last month.

SaveSave

Photo at Anantara Qasr Al Sarab

5 Top places to visit in 2017.  Well, this is based on my recent Travels rather than all time favourites. I would find it impossible to choose five, wouldn’t you?

VENICE

I know, everyone loves Venice but that it is because it is one of the best places to visit in the world!  Venice has everything from beautiful architecture, magical ambiance, excellent shops, interesting museums and so many art galleries you will never see them all!

Iconic Venice, I will never tire of visiting this magical city

Avoid high season, is my biggest tip!  Treat yourself to a water taxi, by far the best way to see everything.  Avoid the touristy Gondoliers and take a fabulous Riva Water taxi.  However you can avoid the crowds by staying off the well worn tourist route, they generally do not stray very far!  Read all about Venice in my Venice blog.

PALAWAN ISLANDS, The Philippines

El Nido Islands, Palawan, The Philippines

If you want to take a long haul trip, I really recommend visiting the islands of The Philippines.  They are not called the most beautiful in the world without good reason.  Yes, it is a bit of a trek to get there but well worth it.  Go now before the world discovers them and they become spoiled.  Avoid the more touristy Boracay and head to Palawan.

Read my blog to find out where I stayed and more information.

ABU DHABI

Regular readers will know how much I love Abu Dhabi and visit every year!  Don’t just use it as a stop over, stay and see the country.  I particularly like the Liwa desert and stayed at the Anantara Qasr Al Sarab Hotel for the second time.  The desert is a very special place and it is nice to enjoy the luxurious surroundings of the hotel.Liwa Desert, Abu Dhabi, UAE

You will enjoy the city of Abu Dhabi too, there is so much to see and do, including the Sheikh Zayed Mosque which is awe inspiring.  I loved staying at the world famous Emirates Palace hotel Read my blog for more information.

Emirates Palace Private Beach

If you stay at Emirates Palace, I promise you will never want to leave!  However, get out and explore the country in a hire car.  It is perfectly safe to drive and you will feel very comfortable and safe driving anywhere in Abu Dhabi.  Almost impossible to get lost too.

MOROCCO

Atlas Mountains of Morocco

My latest discovery!  Indeed, I am already planning a return trip. Explore Marrakesh and the Atlas Mountains.  Read my blogs to discover more details, see the HOME page at the top.  Marrakesh was a delight and so much nicer than I expected, perfect for a few days short trip if you are travelling from europe.

The Medina in Marakesh

Explore the Medina, Majorelle Gardens eat delicious Moroccan meals and so much more.

Cote d’Azur France:

Cap Martin, Roquebrune Cap Martin, France

I know, I live here part of the year and so am a little biased but please come and visit! You will love it.  Monaco is one of the safest places to be and you will enjoy a trip very much.  Again read my blogs on the subject for more information.

MonacoDon’t forget to visit Monaco or stay a while during your trip. There are wonderful hotels, great events throughout the year, terrific restaurants and so much to see or do.  Enjoy the beautiful weather and beaches too!  Avoid high season on the Cote d’azur and Monaco would be my top tip.  High season is during July and August.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beautiful Atlas Mountains, Morocco

My 5 Top Tips for a Trip to the Atlas Mountains.  Are you taking a trip to Marrakesh?  Make time to get out to the Atlas Mountains.  They are only a two hour drive from the city and so breathtaking,  I would not miss the chance to get out there and see for yourself.

I took a couple of day trips out from Marrakesh, but next visit I will definitely go and stay out in the mountains at Kasbah Tarandot.  More later!

TIP No.1:

Hire a car and driver to show take you into the mountains.  We went with Ali Bouramdane from ATM Journey   and enjoyed a memorable day exploring the mountains.  The morning was spent winding our way up higher and higher,  stopping to take in the view on the way.

Ali from ATM Journey

The road from Marrakesh to the mountains

An easy drive into the mountains, one long road ahead.

Spot Goats, Donkeys and wonderful views en route.

Top Tip No.2:

I ‘borrowed’ this bike for a photo!

If you hire a car and drive yourself watch out for speed traps!  I have never seen so many police catching speeding motorists, they have very strict speeding laws.  Also, make sure you buckle up or prepare for an on the spot fine.

Morocco is perfectly safe with well maintained cars and good roads.  It was a pleasant surprise. Just make sure you stick to the speed limit.

Top Tip No.3:

Ignore all the warnings you have read!  I avoided Morocco for years after being told ‘You will be hassled all the time, and it is not safe!’  and ‘It is so dirty everywhere’, ‘Marie, you will hate it!’.  Well, regular Divalicious readers know just what a pampered Princess I can be and I just loved it!  My advice is ignore all those warnings.  If a street vendor tries to sell you something (remember the poor chap is just trying to earn a crust for goodness sake!)  Do NOT engage in conversation, politely ignore.

I felt perfectly safe at all times, was not hassled in any way.  Morocco is a surprisingly enlightened country compared with others in the region and Marrakesh is a wonderful melting pot of cultures.  The people are a delight and you will love them!  This comes from a tall blond who doesn’t exactly blend in with the locals.

Top Tip No.4:

Kasbah Tamadot:

Visit Kasbah Tamadot.  This is a very special place, above and beyond Diva expectations.  Friends of mine stayed there and recommended a visit.  I was not disappointed and I will be back to stay.  The location is magical and the hotel is a perfect mountain retreat in every way.  The staff are a delight.  The hotel, with its Berber tent suite accommodation is just a heavenly, with exquisitely tasteful design and spectacular mountain views.  I almost cried  and clung to the gatepost when it was time to leave! (I didn’t really, but you know what I mean?)

Lunch with a view anyone?

Start saving now, it is worth every penny!  The suites, designed in the style of traditional berber tents, are the epitome of understated chic.

Kasbah Tarandot

Suite with a view of the mountains

Everywhere at Kasbah Tamadot is super chic, it is impossible to take a bad photo.  Lunch was simple but delicious.

Kasbah Tamadot, Atlas Mountains, Morocco

I enjoyed meeting the resident pets, including Camels, Goats, Donkeys, Mules and even Peacocks.

Even the Camels are friendly at Kasbah Tamadot!

TIP No.5:

Hike in the Atlas Mountains!  Whether you make time for a post prandial stroll or a two day trek, just walk and breathe in the pure mountain air and enjoy the views!

After lunch, we asked the hotel for advice on a suitable short hike.  They were amazing and provided us with water, a map and even a guide to set us off along the right track.  We were invited to shower on our return.  Such wonderful hospitality considering we only stopped for lunch!

Hike with a view at Kasbah Tamadot

I look forward to returning to http://www.kasbahtamadot.com

After lunch we clambered back into the 4 x 4 and Ali drove on to a Lake about another 20 minutes further into the mountains.

We were really tired by this time, the fresh mountain air, a good lunch and hike completely finished us off. Ali drove us serenely back down the mountain to Marrakesh and a nap before dinner!

Ali Bouramdane from ATM Journey:

It is not easy taking pot luck and finding a guide in a new destination.  Ali was a delight.  A  good and safe drive, comfortable 4 x 4 and informative too!  I recommend a trip with ATM journey whether it be for a day trip or for a longer excursion around Morocco.

Book A Trip:

I am already planning my return trip to see more of Morocco and will travel around the country with ATM journey.

http://www.atmjourney.com