Favourite Dining Experiences

​Amantaka, Luang Prabang, Laos

An incredible dining experience that I’ll never forget was during a stay at the beautiful Amantaka in the picturesque Laos town of Luang Prabang. Along with a delicious restaurant in the hotel, they also offer unique dining experiences around Luang Prabang, which is a great opportunity to see some of the sights and meet the locals. My guide took me to a local’s house where we picked fresh produce directly from his garden, including herbs, mushrooms, bamboo shoots and other vegetables, before a gentle trek up to the top of the Kuang Si waterfalls. Once at the waterfall, after a refreshing dip in one of the pools, I helped prepare a truly local Laos lunch with the chef, whilst the other guides set up a lovely table by the waterfall. This was certainly one of the best meals I had in the country.

 

Belmond Afloat in France

I was so lucky to enjoy the most fantastic gourmet escape on the waterways in Burgundy on-board the charming Amaryllis barge by Belmond, which boasts four generous size cabins, lovely outdoor and indoor dining areas and a plunge pool for relaxing dips on warmer days. As well as the food being creative and delicious, I loved the way our itinerary allowed us to hop off to visit some of the finest French markets and impressive vineyards, sampling local artisan cheeses and truffle-tasting along the way. My favourite meal was a pretty cycle along the canal, through local villages before reaching a stunning vineyard, where a gourmet picnic lunch of the most delicious local specialities and wines had been set up just for us.

Most Sublime Spa Experiences

  • COMO Shambhala Retreat at COMO Uma Paro, Bhutan

    ​COMO Uma Paro’s spa is not only an extremely inviting space, but with its full range of COMO Shambhala treatments it’s also a very welcome, relaxing experience for anyone in need of soothing their aching bones after trekking up to Tigers Nest – the iconic monastery hugging the side of a rocky cliff 3000 feet above the Paro Valley – to which I can personally attest. The spa offers holistic, Asian-inspired and Ayurvedic treatments given in true Bhutanese style by the friendliest therapists. There are also two private Bhutanese hot stone bathhouses, a large indoor pool with alfresco sundeck, steam rooms, a gym and yoga studio with Paro Valley views. Each of the hotel’s beautiful nine villas, which are hugely spacious, boast fantastic valley views, and come with a private butler and their own private therapy suite.

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  • Castello del Nero Hotel & Spa, Tuscany, Italy

    ​The beautiful Castello del Nero is set amongst the rolling hills of Tuscany in the heart of the Chianti wine region. Its amazing spa is renowned for being the first destination spa – and ESPA offering – in Tuscany, and I’ll never forget the almost instant relaxation I felt during my own spa experience, helped in part by the natural beauty of the setting. My favourite features here are the glass-walled hydrotherapy rooms, the outdoor vitality pool, and the spa’s signature treatments that feature seasonal produce from the estate, like virgin olive oil and soothing lavender heat experiences to relax and soothe achy muscles.

Most Heavenly Hotel Rooms

One&Only Wolgan Valley, Blue Mountains, Australia

​I absolutely love Australia and have so many favourite areas in this vast country. But it’s One&Only Wolgan Valley’s Heritage Villas that always spring to mind as most memorable when I’m asked about my favourite hotels in Australia. They offer exceptional privacy and breathtaking Wolgan Valley views, as well as a private pool with its own deck and retractable doors, making them perfect for year-round use. Inside, a central, double-sided fireplace made from local sandstone separates the bedroom from the living area, and a luxurious bathroom features a separate shower with skylight and bath with views to the valley. Along with the hugely spacious, luxurious villas, another highlight for me was waking to the wildlife, and seeing kangaroos and wombats directly in front of my villa – they were so close I didn’t even need the binoculars they had provided me with (just one of many thoughtful extra touches you’ll come across).

Six Senses Yao Noi, Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

​My beautiful Ocean Panorama Pool Villa at Six Senses Yao Noi certainly had the wow factor! Soaking up the striking panoramic scenery over Phang Nga Bay from my private pool and alfresco living and dining areas meant I actually never wanted to leave, and I love the an eco-friendly, barefoot design – simplicity at its best, with all the modern touches you need, naturally! And I can’t think of anyone who’s able to resist the lure of an outdoor shower when it’s in a location as idyllic as this. But if you do manage to tear yourself away from the villa, then I highly recommend getting on a boat to venture into those views and explore as much of Phang Nga Bay as you can for a truly memorable experience.

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