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honeymoon expert Jane Anderson

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6 places where Harry and Meghan (probably) didn’t go on honeymoon

 By Kate Lee

The royal honeymoon is over, folks! But hang on, where exactly was it in the first place? Does anyone know where the Duke and Duchess of Sussex went on their first holiday as newlyweds? The couple chose not to reveal their honeymoon destination, so the rumour mill went into overdrive with suggestions of all the glamorous locations they might have visited. We may never find out where they stayed but one thing’s for certain, all the destinations hotspots highlighted are fit for a king (or duke).

Mapula Lodge, Okavango Delta, Botswana

Mapula Lodge lies in a remote and uncrowded part of the Okavango Delta.  The safari camp (pictured above) has stunning views of a hippo-filled lagoon. Each canvas and thatch tent has a four-poster bed and outdoor shower, and there’s a swimming pool and lounge area to relax in. But it’s wildlife that’s the main attraction here; it hosts the highest concentration of lions in the world as well as the ubiquitous hippo, the rest of the big five and many other rarer species. The Duke and Duchess twice visited Botswana together – first after only two dates they spent five days fly camping in the bush, and then, for Meghan’s birthday, when they stayed at Mapula Lodge. Prince Harry refers to Botswana as his second home, as it provided solace for him and his family after his mother, Princess Diana, died. The centre diamond for Meghan’s engagement ring is from Botswana. Could they have revisited the £570-a-night camp where they have so many happy memories?

Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, Alberta, Canada

Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge is a favourite of the Royals. King George VI and Queen Elizabeth stayed in 1939 and the Queen and Prince Philip visited in 2005. The Lodge is set in magnificent wilderness on the edge of Lake Beauvert in Jasper National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A royal couple would most likely stay in the 6,000 sq ft Outlook Cabin which costs from £2,000 a night. It has stone fireplaces, wooden walls and six bedrooms. Surrounded by nature and the Rocky mountains, the newlyweds might have enjoyed boating, fishing and hiking. Meghan has strong links with Canada – she lived in Toronto while filming Suits and her best friend Jessica Mulroney still lives there. An unnamed source for gossip website TMZ claimed the couple were honeymooning at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, but the Lodge has since denied these claims.

Ashford Castle, Ireland

Prince Harry and Meghan are thought by some to have stayed at Ashford Castle, which costs up to US$5,000 a night, on a ‘mini-moon’ before embarking on a long itinerary of travel duties. This 13th-century estate and five-star castle was named the best hotel in the world in 2016 by The Luxury Travel Awards. It boasts 350 acres of private grounds, an award-winning spa, theatre, wine cellar, and boating lake, and guests can enjoy many activities like horse-riding, falconry, and fishing. King George V and Queen Mary visited in 1905 – along with many celebrities such as John Lennon, Brad Pitt and Oscar Wilde. Social media went into overdrive in Ireland recently, with multiple tweets from locals and visitors to the area claiming unexpected security had been ramped up around Ashford Castle estate and roads were closed.

&Beyond Benguerra Island, Mozambique

Our money’s on Mozambique as the royal couple’s retreat. Why? It’s rumoured that Meghan wanted to spend time on honeymoon by the coast, and with Africa close to both of their hearts, this country offers the African landscapes and culture without the crowds. Plus it’s in the Commonwealth. The US$1,095 a night &Beyond Benguerra would fit the bill. It lies off the mainland on a collection of islands only accessible by helicopter. Set in a marine conservation area, it’s ethical but extravagant, with each casinha containing plunge pools, sheltered balconies, bathtubs big enough for two and a breathtaking view of the Indian Ocean. The resort offers horse-riding on the beach, a traditional dhow cruise and snorkelling among Africa’s only population of dugong.

Hoanib Valley Camp, Kaokoland, Namibia

Set in a remote part of north-western Namibia on the banks of the Obias River, and surrounded by desert, mountains and dunes, is the Hoanib Valley Camp. This is one of Namibia’s wildest, and most beautiful, environments. This newly-built eco-camp has only six upscale tents made with locally-sourced materials and handicrafts. The area is renowned for desert-adapted elephants and giraffes, but sightings of lion, rhino, mountain zebra and oryx are also common. Namibia, a Commonwealth country, is one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world, which would suit the newlyweds’ need to escape the press. An unnamed source for Travel and Leisure magazine claimed the couple were to stay at the £450-a-night camp though Prince Harry has apparently denied these claims.

Tromvik Lodge, Tromso, Norway

The Duke and Duchess visited Norway for their first holiday as a couple, and many media sources claimed they may have wanted to return for their honeymoon, though we think it’s unlikely given how adventurous they are. At Tromvik Lodge you can watch the dance of the northern lights from the luxury of your outdoor Jacuzzi or go on a spectacular whale watching tour. Skiing is also an option during winter. The Lodge, at US$376 a night, contains four palatial bedrooms, a sauna and has panoramic views of the private shoreline and mountains.

Other destinations rumoured for the royal honeymoon include Rwanda, Zanzibar, the Maldives and Nevis in the Caribbean. All are secluded and remote but indulgent, allowing the famous couple time to do normal, everyday things they often can’t, but in elegant surroundings. We may never know where they enjoyed their first holiday as a married couple but with this line up, we’re sure we’d be quite happy to visit too.

VIP honeymoons to New York City

Top of the Rock view of Empire State Building

By Jane Anderson, Editor of 101 Honeymoons

I’m not on my honeymoon, but if I were, I’d be very pleased to have just arrived in New York in style, having flown from Luton Airport to Newark with boutique French airline, La Compagnie.

Launched in April 2015, this five-times a week service puts business class transatlantic travel within reach of a wider audience. Perfect for honeymooners looking for a taste of the high life without blowing the budget.

Departing Luton Airport at 5.45pm, there’s a signature cranberry and champagne cocktail to greet you on board, lie-flat seats with comfy pillow and cosy blanket, personal Samsung Galaxy Pro 12 tablets for inflight entertainment and tasty in flight meals care of French chef Christophe Langree. A little cosmetic pack includes products from natural French skincare brand Caudalie, but above all, the flight feels intimate and special and the 2×2 configuration works well for couples who will arrive fresh as a couple of daisies at 9pm New York time. You’ll both certainly get a good night’s sleep on shorter overnight journey home, where the flight number is a slick 007 – founder, Franz Yvelin is a huge James Bond fan.

LaCompagnie1

I’m staying at the Loews Regency on Park Avenue, recently reimagined into a modern classic. Honeymooners should try and bag Signature Suite 2120, otherwise known as ‘Uptown Bohemian’ on the top floor – more the Manhattan apartment you always dreamed of than hotel room – and part of the hotel’s recent US$100million renovation. Its vast living room is adorned with all the art and stylebooks you never get time to read from Chanel to Wes Anderson’s film art. There’s your very own kitchen and breakfast bar which you can pre- order anything you fancy and the chic bedroom has a Prada print above the sexy bed and around the double wardrobe lies a vast bathroom with copper roll top tub.

Loews Regency is renowned for its power breakfasts and the mover and shakers of Manhattan gather here to kick off their working day in style. Honeymooners can relish the luxury of being on holiday as they take a leisurely breakfast of eggs benedict and the like. Or if you’re more a muffin on the go type couple, head next door to Sant Ambroeus coffee shop for a pumpkin muffin and cappuccino.

The bar at Loews is a cool place for a nightcap where you’ll feel like Manhattanites. Order a Perfect Pair (Edinburgh Gin or Grey Goose Pear, Poire Williams, Pear Puree and lemon juice).

And don’t forget to treat yourselves to a ‘power’ hair appointment or couples massage and facial in Julien Farel Restore Salon and Spa, where everyone from Raphael Nadal to Ivana Trump has been spotted!

Loews is just a short stroll to Central Park where a horse and carriage ride for two may be schmaltzy, but all part of NYC tradition.

ABC Kitchen by Jean- Georges, Flatiron, Manhattan

If you want to do the big Manhattan sights, head downtown to One World Observatory beside the imposing and moving 9/11 Memoria & Museum to commemorate the fall of the Twin Towers. The defiant One World Observatory is a staggering 102 floors, the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, and well worth it for the lift experience alone. A wrap-around film visually charts Manhattans rise from the swamps in pre-historic times to present day skyscrapers.

For a NYC institution that’s recently reopened, head to the Rainbow Room at The Top of the Rock, an exclusive NYC restaurant with crystals hanging in its imposing windows. Catch a sunny day and you’ll be bamboozled by refracted rainbows dancing across the room. There’s an incredible view of the Empire State Building, and expansive, gourmet buffet inspired by cuisines from around the globe to tuck into at US$95 a pop, whilst Sweet Meg and the Wayfarers play old-school ‘40s tunes. I recommend the dim sum, not to mention the Champagne Cosmos – Cointreau, grapefruit, and champagne.

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir Central Park Reservoir Fifth Avenue and 90th Street

Moving more into 2016 hipster mode, combine dining with retail therapy at ABC Cocina with its seashell encrusted walls, chandeliers and industrial chic. Michelin star chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten serves up whole food and inventive fare – you only have to look at the mocktail menu such as ginger lime soda sangria pumpkin. After sustenance comes shopping at ABC Homewares, just next door with its cornucopia of beautiful things.

Couples who love must make a beeline for recently opened Whitney Museum Of American Art right by the High Line, featuring permanent iconic American artists from Hopper to Cornell and exciting temporary exhibitions.

Afterwards stroll along the High Line hand in hand. This cool combo of street art, adventurous planting and gritty city and River Hudson views will make you feel like a true Manhattanite, before you board your business class plane back home!

How to do it

Honeymooners booking by 29 February 2016 pay £1,500 all-inclusive for two return flights to New York Newark from London Luton. Passengers of La Compagnie are offered 20% off duty free at Newark Airport.

Loews Regency has luxury king rooms from £194 per night, room only. New York City Passes
start from £63 for an adult (one day only) to £229 (10 day pass). More info at nycgo.com.

 

6 Romantic Things to do in Mauritius

By Laura Brothers

If you are looking for romance, head to Mauritius. The island’s crystal blue lagoons, coral islets and unspoiled beaches make it an idyllic setting for loved up couples young and old. Often rated as one of the most enchanting places in the world to tie the knot and regularly voted as one of the top honeymoon destinations, there is no questioning the beauty of Mauritius. Yet beyond the picturesque beaches and luxury hotels lies an island waiting to be discovered.

Road Trip

1. Explore the back roads

Surprisingly, car hire services are not that popular in Mauritius, but they are easily available and a must for those seeking a bit of an adventure. Get behind the wheel, put the windows down and explore parts of the island that many don’t see. Mauritius is a relatively small island so it’s easy to reach all four corners by car. Make sure you travel along the southern coast. Think rugged panoramas, crashing waves, black rocks, and stunning Mauritian countryside. Local hire car specialists include Maki Rentals.

Rochester Falls

2. Visit Rochester Falls

Accessed via a narrow, off-road track across sugarcane fields, the Rochester Falls can be difficult to find, but well worth the trek. Located in the south of Mauritius, between the towns of St Felix and Souillac, the jungly verdure and small but impressive falls are the perfect backdrop for a romantic day out. Surrounded by sugarcane fields and banana plantations, this might be one of the most beautiful waterfalls you will ever see.

Rum

3. Sample the rum

Mauritius is renowned for its sugar plantations and where there’s sugar, there’s rum – and you most certainly can’t leave the island without trying some! The island has a number of small charming distilleries, where you can sample the goods. Head to Rhumerie de Chamarel in Chamarel, in the south west. Its award-winning double-distilled rum has been aged in oak, and is rated amongst the best. Tours run Monday to Saturday, 9.30am to 5.30pm.

Horseriding

4. Go horseriding

Imagine riding a horse along the beach, with a beautiful blue lagoon and mountains in the background. Mauritius is better known for its golf courses and scuba diving, but you can also visit parts of the island on horseback, including beaches and mountains trails. Haras du Morne offers horseback rides with professional staff and quality coaches for beginners or experienced riders.

Catamaran (1)

5. Set sail on a catamaran

Take a catamaran cruise and discover parts of the island you never knew existed – including volcanic rock formations and mangrove swamps. And if you want to go all out, why not hire a private catamaran and enjoy a sunset cruise, just for the two of you? Sunset is the best time of day and, if you’re lucky, you might spot dolphins. White Sand Tours offers a superb catamaran excursion off the North Coast.

Helicopter (2)jpg

6. Get high in a helicopter

If you find that you’ve experienced everything Mauritius has to offer on ground, then the only thing left to do is enjoy the breathtaking beauty of Mauritius from high above, right? A helicopter sunset flight is the perfect way to spend an evening and as you can imagine, offers some of the most spectacular views of the island. Book a helicopter flight with Mautourco.

* For honeymoons in Mauritius, we recommend Beachcomber Tours, an independent tour operator specialising in luxury holidays to Mauritius, Seychelles, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Morocco. See our review of Beachcomber Tours.

Best Honeymoons for Cycling and Hiking

Walking honeymoonPiedmont cuisinePicnic for twoCycling at sunset

heather  By Heather Godbert

If you’re planning your honeymoon and the idea of lounging on a tropical beach with hot and cold running cocktails doesn’t appeal, check out my top picks of the most romantic ‘alternative’ honeymoons. Each combines self-guided walking and/or cycling in the great outdoors with characterful hotels and fabulous food and wine.

One of Gozo's pretty bays

Tranquil luxury in Gozo

Head to Gozo, sister island of Malta, for a quiet, peaceful break in the Mediterranean. Island life here moves at a slower pace and you’re surrounded by spectacular coastal and rural landscapes, quaint villages and crystal clear turquoise waters. Explore this beautiful island on foot or two wheels before relaxing in the evening in the particularly romantic 5* Hotel Ta’Cenc which offers two enormous swimming pools, spa treatments and superb food. ‘Brangelina’ had a suite there when they were filming ‘By the Sea’ in 2014. April to June and September to November are the best months.

Gorgeous lakefront hotel in Austria

Austria’s natural beauty

Soak up the sheer beauty and fresh air of the lakes and valleys of Carinthia on our ‘Wandering around the Trails of Lake Worthersee’ honeymoon in Austria. This relatively unknown region is the perfect place to unwind – stop for a dip along the shores of Lake Forst, enjoy a scrumptious picnic in lush green meadows, explore picturesque lakefront villages and ancient castles before chilling out over a delicious dinner in your hotel each evening.

Villa Beccaris, Piedmont

The tastes of Piedmont

Explore the fine-dining delights of Italy’s Piedmont region on a romantic honeymoon that will tantalise all of the senses. We guarantee you will fall in love with this gastronomic wonderland, making your way through the region by bike before enjoying a particularly memorable stay in a stunningly restored 19th century family villa in Benevello which boasts a Michelin-starred restaurant. Head Chef Damiano Nigro delivers mouth-watering Italian classics using only the finest local ingredients.

Catalunya coastline

Be enraptured by Catalunya

Combine beach with culture in Catalunya, arguably Spain’s most beautiful and vibrant region – think intimate sandy coves, medieval villages, atmospheric hotels and stellar cuisine. Choose from walking or cycling itineraries. On this relaxed cycling honeymoon, you will meander along quiet country roads and coastal paths and a stay at one of our favourite hotels – the Castell d’Emporda. This superbly restored 700-year-old castle has truly unique rooms, each decorated with furniture collected by the owners while on their travels around China, India and Morocco.

Relax in the French Caribbean

Discover the French Caribbean

If you can’t resist the lure of the tropics, check out our fabulous self-drive and walking itinerary in the French Caribbean. Staying in Guadaloupe (where the BBC’s popular Death in Paradise series are filmed) and Martinique, it’s all about lush tropical scenery, sandy beaches, intimate hotels and mouth-watering cuisine, a fusion of French and Caribbean flavours.

All our walking and cycling holidays include plenty of time for R&R and detailed route notes plus your luggage is transported from hotel to hotel each day with various levels of activity to choose from, depending on how energetic you want to be. Check out the Headwater website for a full range of self-guided walking and cycling holidays – there’s even canoeing and cross-country skiing for a honeymoon with a difference.

Is this Britain’s most beautiful wedding venue?

By Mark Hodson

If you’ve ever fantasised about owning a huge baronial mansion in the countryside, have a word with Chris Badham and Damian Llambias. The couple were searching for suitable venues for their lavish wedding and kept drawing a blank. “Everywhere was either a wreck or a fully-serviced hotel,” says Chris. “We just wanted a gorgeous house where we could host a grand party.”

Then they found Huntsham Court in Devon. It was a bit of a wreck, but it was on the market, so the two Londoners decided this was the excuse they needed to up sticks and quit the rat race. They bought the property for £1.83 million and have spent the last three years restoring it.

IMG_4571bedroom

Huntsham Court can now be hired for weddings, parties and other get-togethers, and it’s a stunning venue. Unusually, it has no fewer than 34 bedrooms – each individually decorated – and it is rented bare. Sleeping up to 80, it is reckoned to be Britain’s largest baronial house available for private hire.

You pay a basic price, to which you can add staff and catering if you wish, but you can also choose to stock the bar with your own drink, thus avoiding painful markup or corkage fees. One wedding party even parked their own fish and chip van outside the front door.

Built in 1868, Huntsham Court is a grand stone-built mansion near Tiverton, set amid glorious rolling countryside. Inside it’s surprisingly cosy and intimate, sensitively restored, and decorated with authentic period furniture, plush furnishings and serious art.

“It’s first and foremost our home, so we wanted everything to be just right,” explains Chris. “Most of all, we don’t want it to feel like a hotel.”

hall dining room

The couple have certainly achieved that. The house is beautiful, inside and out, but never imposing. It feels warm and welcoming, and guests are encouraged to pop into the pantry to grab a snack or make a cup of tea. There are five acres of grounds to wander about, and local marked walks. Exmoor National Park is nearby.

There is no mobile phone reception at the house, which adds to the feeling of splendid isolation. Yet it’s relatively easy to reach from London, just two hours by train from Paddington and a 40-minute drive from Bristol.

Huntsham Court is licensed to carry out civil ceremonies and there’s a small church alongside the driveway – but wedding planners will need to book ahead, because it’s already fully booked for summer 2015.

* A two-night exclusive hire of Huntsham Court starts from £7,200 for 19 bedrooms, rising to £15,000 for the whole property. First Great Western has advance single fares from London Paddington to Tiverton Parkway from £39.50 each way.

landingbedroom 2IMG_4573

 

2015 long-haul honeymoon trends

James Bell, Turquoise Holidays Honeymoon Guru By James Bell, Director and ‘Honeymoon Doctor’ at Turquoise Holidays

One of the highspots of the year is the moment our new brochures roll off the presses, packed with fabulous honeymoon ideas – some tried and tested favourites and some new finds which we think will hit the spot for our customers. We have already identified some clear honeymoon trends for 2015.

South Pacific

Le Taha'a, Tahiti

The South Pacific is really in vogue for 2015. Honeymoon bookings are already up 60% compared to 2014, with a strong pound against the euro making it more accessible than ever. Order our new Tahiti brochure for ideas, inspiration and exclusive honeymoon offers.

Top two-centre combo

No.1 Mirissa

Sri Lanka and the Maldives is the hot combination this year. Combine the luxury and world class service each and every Maldivian island offers, with the colours and culture of Sri Lanka – for surf enthusiasts, we love the wave worthy combination of Six Senses Laamu in the Maldives and Number One Mirissa (pictured above) in Sri Lanka … no boards in the bedroom for this cool honeymoon!

Safari and beach

Makanyane

Our ever popular boots & bikini options, combining a safari with idyllic beach, have seen a surge over the past year, with Mozambique hitting number one in the charts as the must go beach option to combine with South Africa – firm favourites are Makanyane (pictured above) in South Africa and Azura Benguerra in Mozambique.

British Virgin Islands

Biras Creek, BVIs

The British Virgin Islands top our 2015 Caribbean honeymoon charts. Biras Creek Resort (pictured above) offers a fabulous sail and stay package – a favourite for yachtie honeymooners. You don’t need any sailing experience, even if the BVIs were Sir Ben Ainslie’s choice for his recent honeymoon!

Remote Indonesia

Nihiwatu

Getting off the beaten track is increasingly top of the wishlist for honeymooners. If you are looking for somewhere fabulously remote – and utterly beautiful – look no further than the island of Sumba in eastern Indonesia and the super chic getaway that is Nihiwatu (pictured above). Pricey, but worth it, the resort and island provide even the most discerning traveller a truly unique and utterly romantic experience. Alternatively look at combining Bali and Komodo to see the dragons – dare I say, just as frightening as the new mother-in-law!

Click here for the new Turquoise Holidays brochure.

Best Places for a Honeymoon in Corsica

Claire Armstrong, Simpson Travel   By Claire Armstrong, Corsica Product Director, Simpson Travel

With a vibrant and cosmopolitan culture that reflects the love affair between its French and Italian influences, Corsica is an ideal honeymoon destination. It’s the island’s natural beauty – think misty lavender mountains, softly rolling hills, herb-scented air and irresistible sandy beaches – and historic cobbled streets, cafes, boutiques and quayside restaurants that create a perfect honeymoon in either spring, summer or autumn.

Corsica honeymoons

Keira Knightley honeymooned in Corsica, Alicia Keys got married there and Kate Moss has spent time yachting around the spectacular coastline – this island is perfectly capable of holding its own in the eyes of the rich and famous, but it doesn’t try to keep up with anyone’s jet-set lifestyle. The locals are passionately devoted to warding off the excesses of mass tourism, so you’ll find plenty of wilderness and quiet walks, including the breathtakingly scenic Route de Bavella. Or visit the ancient citadels of Calvi and Bonifacio and feel the rich sense of history.

We offer a range of resorts, boutique hotels and self-catering accommodation throughout Corsica. Here are my personal top five picks for honeymooners.

Le Marie Venezia

If stepping out of the 21st century appeals, the stylish Le Maria Venezia apartment (pictured above) is tucked away in the Old Town of Ile Rousse. From the peaceful vantage point of your own private sun terrace, you can contemplate magnificent sea views with a choice of restaurants in easy walking distance.

 

Mon Cavanon

Escapists should head to the contemporary Villa Fiorella (pictured above). This stylish gem, with a gorgeous infinity pool, is near the forest of Ospedale, the beaches of Saint Cyprien and Palombaggia, and there’s a natural pool for swimming just down the road. It’s owned by a chef so the kitchen has everything you need to cook up a little fine romance.

Mon Cabanon - pure romance

On a smaller scale, Mon Cabanon (pictured above) is a charming cottage that screams romance. A short drive up into the mountains from nearby Porto Vecchio, you can hear… nothing. Watch the sunsets in blissful seclusion from the privacy of your peaceful eyrie and its very private plunge pool. We include a hire car on all these honeymoons.

Hotel & Spa des Pecheurs

My final pick is the dreamy Hotel & Spa des Pecheurs (pictured above), described by the Telegraph’s Peter Hughes in 2014 as “Europe’s best kept secret”. Located on car-free Cavallo Island, just off the Corsican coast, it’s a barefoot, relaxed and seriously romantic hideaway and we’re the only UK company to offer it.

The Shard: Inside London’s sexiest new hotel

Deluxe City View Room  -Tower Bridge view - Shangri-La Hotel, At The Shard, London

By Jane Anderson, Editor of 101 Honeymoons

It’s not often your ears pop in the lift on your way to reception. But then
The Shangri-La Hotel, At The Shard, London isn’t your average hotel. Essentially it’s a hotel (and a little bit of Asia) in the sky. As the elevator doors open on the 35th floor, I defy anyone not to widen their pupils at the dramatic sight of London laid before you through an impossibly vast expanse of glass.

For a moment it’s disorientating, and hard to concentrate on checking in with such as vista. There’s the Thames, St Paul’s Cathedral, The Telecom Tower. Or else it’s lashing with rain and even more spectacular. This is the ‘Sky Lobby’ after all. But this being the Shangri-La, formalities are done with consummate ease and you’re soon being whisked round to more elevators by a lady in an impressive brocade coat.

The hotel sits between floors 34 and 52 of Renzo Piano’s iconic building with 202 slick rooms and suites which shout out big time luxury. Slightly bland for some, perhaps, until you realise just how comfortable the sofa is and how vast and cloud-like the bed. For goodness sake, could there be any more marble in the enormous bathroom with its standalone bathtub waiting for couples to jump in and watch the lights come on over London with a glass of champagne in hand. Not only the bathroom floor is heated, but the toilet too!

SLLN - exterior medhigh res

The hotels occupies floors 34 to 52 of the Shard

Sky Lobby - High res

The Sky Lobby is on the 35th floor

There are pillow menus, iPod docking stations, Nespresso machines, Acqua di Palma bathroom goodies, a Chinese tea set and a sculpted chocolate pod stuffed with hand made sweets. Welcome to Western Europe’s tallest hotel and the only elevated hotel in London.

One of the hotel’s most unique features is its infinity pool on floor 52, accessed through a James Bond-esque sliding door magically opened with your keycard. It’s actually one of the chambers of the intimate Gong bar, surely one of London’s sexiest bars. Named after ‘dougong’, a structural element of interlocking wooden brackets used in traditional Chinese architecture and also featured in the bar, it has the feel of an Oriental boudoir.

Sit by floor to ceiling windows with views of the Tower of London and the winding Thames and toast one another with Bermondsey Bubbles (Jensen’s Dry Bermondsey Gin, Rose Liqueur, Creole Bitters and Champagne) before travelling down to Ting back on floor 35 for dinner.

TING Restaurant - high res

Ting Restaurant is decorated in contemporary Chinoiserie

Iconic City View Room - Shangri-La Hotel, At The Shard, London

Enormous marble bathrooms have standalone tubs and heated floors

Ting is where the hotel’s Asian influence comes through most with its contemporary Chinoiserie. Tower Bridge, Maritime Greenwich, Canary Wharf and beyond are laid before you as you choose between the hand-dived scallops from the coast of Northwest Highlands or the organic Welsh lamb, all with a hint of the east such as a mirin, sake and soy sauce glaze or a touch of ginger.

The sommeliers know their stuff and you won’t be disappointed if you opt for a tasting menu, pairing food and wine, before heading up in the elevator again to bed.

This up and down world leaves you with a strange sense of otherworldliness. It’s literally a honeymoon on Cloud 9.

Gong - Champagne Bar - high res

The Champagne Bar is one of the most romantic venues in town

Skypool at GONG - Shangri-La Hotel, At The Shard, London - HIGH RES

The Skypool also has stunning views

Book it

Romance in the Clouds is the signature honeymoon package from £700 per night and includes in-room breakfast for two, one bottle of Deutz Rose NV Champagne and a three-course meal for two in room and a bouquet of flowers in the room on arrival.

View - Shangri-La Hotel, At The Shard, London

Is this the best view in London?

Hiking, USA drives and tree hotels: honeymoon trends for 2015

By Jane Anderson, Editor of 101 Honeymoons

I chatted with our members to get the lowdown on what’s new and exciting for honeymooners in 2015.

Tom Barber, of Original Travel, says many couples are taking a mini moon now, then delaying a longer honeymoon – for example, a weekend break to Tuscany and then a big trip to Brazil or Argentina.

“Basically, most people have a dream honeymoon destination in mind but if they get married in, say, December, then they can’t (or certainly shouldn’t) go to Indonesia, for example,” says Tom.

Snowy honeymoons represent another trend. “For winter weddings, not everyone seems to want to go away to the heat, at least not immediately. Swedish Lapland and places like the incomparable Tree Hotel are super popular for this sort of mini-moon,” says Tom.

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Action honeymoons are also getting popular. Tom says: “Everyone gets that you’ll be knackered post-wedding so they accept needing a few days’ R&R to begin with, but then we’re seeing a big trend to doing something supercool in the middle third – something maybe with a sense of achievement – before another flop at the end and a return to everyday life.”

For example in Borneo you can climb Mount Kinabalu, or in New Zealand you can do any number of cool activities in Queenstown and stay at a perfect honeymoon cottage like Annandale.”

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Liz Simpson, of i-escape, points to a trend for longer honeymoons with three or four centres. “My cousin is going to Tanzania, Zanzibar, New York and Costa Rica, and taking six weeks to do it,” she says. “Interestingly, her budget is what mine was for two weeks in Tanzania and Zanzibar, but whereas we saw our honeymoon as a luxe fortnight, amazing hotels, once in a lifetime, she is seeing it like a massive budget to go flashpacking to amazing places.”

Emma Douty, of Exsus, says: ““Self-drive honeymoons are becoming more in demand and are set to trend in 2015, given the lower costs and freedom to discover new destinations at your own pace. For a thrilling journey and outstanding scenery, we recommend a luxury self-drive honeymoon in South Africa, California or Turkey.

“For a honeymoon that packs a punch, we think that the fantastically diverse Indonesia offers the perfect balance between action and relaxation, with its majestic volcanoes, incredible wildlife and idyllic beaches.”

Gili-islands

Katherine Warner, of Black Tomato, says: “We’re seeing a wave of honeymooners looking back to the past to discover their roots in a nostalgic and emotive way. It’s apparent that travel and lineage are intrinsically linked. From retracing our forbearers’ foot-prints through the generations’ heritage travel is so poignant and nostalgic it can enrich our lives, answer questions, give us a sense of identity and help shape who we are.

“We’ve seen recently that destinations popular with these types honeymooners are ones with colonial links such as Sri Lanka, India and Africa. Closer to home, Italy’s Amalfi Coast is another popular destination for honeymooners with an interest in heritage with many heading to towns such as Naples and Amalfi – where we’ve connected families to paper factories where ancestors used to work and arranged cooking classes in Positano where they can experience eating as their grandparents did.”

“Another trend we’re predicting will continue for 2015 is for people to tick off their Bucket List experiences on their honeymoons. It could be trekking the Torres del Paine in Chile, or extreme survival courses in Iceland. It’s  a good way to put the strength of your marriage to the test.”

Torres Del Paine, Chile

Amanda Sweeney, of Rainbow Tours, says: “We are seeing couples combining safaris in Kenya or South Africa with lemur spotting in Madagascar. Then heading off to a castaway island for a honeymoon beach break of understated elegance in the Mitsio archipelago at Constance Tsarabanjina.”

Ava Mehta, Western & Oriental, says: “I’ve definitely continued this year to see the trend of honeymooners looking to do fly drives in the USA – the most popular area is California and they like to take in the big cities as well as have some beach time and maybe see Yosemite National Park.”

Katie Droogan, of Headwater, says: “Foodie cycling honeymoons are on the rise in places such as Piedmont in Italy with its fabulous hotels, delicious food and wine and superb scenic cycling in a UNESCO area, and Burgundy in France. The food here is truly excellent and of course you’re in one of the most famous wine regions in the world.”

Max Lawrence, at Lawrence of Morocco, says: “Couples seeking luxury in Marrakech are discovering the palm groves which offer more garden space and large relaxing pools which are only available in the more expensive riads located in the medina. I really like Les Deux Tours which is located just 12 minutes by free shuttle from the centre of the city. It offers a wonderful pool and gardens and has a lovely traditional hammam.”

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10 adventure honeymoons you must consider in 2015

Tom-Barber-Original-Travel By Tom Barber, co-founder of Original Travel

Here are my top ten honeymoon hotspots for 2015 – all very much echoing the trend for a more adventurous honeymoon experience with a generous touch of original style and romance, of course.

Annandale, New Zealand

New Zealand

New Zealand needs at least a fortnight to do it justice, so what better time to explore than on a honeymoon? Add in spectacular scenery and some of the most luxurious hotels in the world, and New Zealand is the perfect 2015 honeymoon destination. Take a private helicopter flight to Milford Sound and enjoy a champagne lunch on a glacier or, for the ultimate in romantic escapism, try Seascape – a secluded beach house – at the spanking new Annandale.

The Datai, Langkawi

Malaysia

Most couples tend to marry in the summer months – few long haul destinations are as good at that time of year as Malaysia. Fly direct into Langkawi and stay a few days at The Datai. Then hop over to Borneo to climb Mount Kinabalu (active ‘mooners only need apply), visit the Orang-utans at Sepilok and explore Danum Valley from the comfort of Borneo Rainforest Lodge. Properly original.

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is blessed with charming people, cultural treasures and breathtaking landscapes. It makes for the perfect honeymoon destination, especially when combined with a visit to the delectable Maldives. Climb Sigiriya Rock, explore the cave temples at Dambula and visit the ancient city of Polonnaruwa while staying at Vil Uyana. Then spend your last few days on the beach near Galle at the newly-opened Cape Weligama.

Japan honeymoon

Japan

For culture vulture couples, a luxury honeymoon in Japan is an experience like no other. Spend your first few days in Tokyo enjoying some of the finest restaurants in the world then head south to Fuji Hakone National Park where you can stay in a traditional Japanese ryokan – tatami walls, futon beds, yakata dressing gowns and all. The ancient capital of Kyoto is also a must.

Per Eide, Norway

Norway

Another left-field summer honeymoon cracker is Norway, and most specifically the jaw-droppingly beautiful fjords region. Fly to the pretty city of Alesund and stay at Brosundet Hotel in Room 47 (a converted lighthouse) with suppers at the hotel’s sublime Maki restaurant. Then head off for a road trip taking in the magnificent fjords whilst staying at Union Oye, Juvet Landscape and then in the Storfjord Suite at Storfjord for a seriously diverse combination of hotels.

Madagascar honeymoon

Madagascar

Another country that works best with summer weddings, the island of Madagascar is home to waterfalls, rainforest, exotic wildlife and possibly the most beautiful beaches in all Africa. Explore Amber Mountain National Park in the far north of the island – keeping an eye out for the island’s ubiquitous lemurs – and then stay on Tsarabanjina, a tiny and secluded volcanic island with crystal clear waters and wonderful white beaches.

Costa Rica - Canopy Honeymoon Suite

Costa Rica

Widely considered to be one of the most biodiverse and ecologically sensitive countries in the world, Costa Rica is a fantastic honeymoon destination for adventure enthusiasts. White water rafting, surfing, trekking and zip-wiring are all available. Stay high up in the jungle canopy in the Canopy Honeymoon Suite, with its own pool and reached only by hanging bridge, at Pacuare Jungle Lodge. Beach lovers please note – the Pacific Coast of the country also has great beach retreats.

Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe

Firmly back on the scene in 2015, Zimbabwe boasts some of the finest safari experiences in Africa. The guides are generally considered the most knowledgeable in the continent and the dramatic and hugely varied National Parks – Mana Pools particularly – will make for unforgettable honeymoon memories. Stay at Zambezi Lifestyles in Mana Pools, right beside the Zambezi River.

Argentina honeymoon

Argentina

Argentina is a country of extremes – think glaciers, vineyards, grassy Pampas and the mountainous Andes. For a truly original honeymoon, head north to the Iguazu Falls and the Ibera Wetlands. Perched on the banks of the Parana River, stay at Hotel Puerto Valle and row out to its floating deck at sunset to enjoy a Caipirinha and the sights and sounds of the wetlands.

Temple of Karnak on the East Bank of Luxor, Egypt

Egypt

For high-culture and old school romance, look no further than Egypt for your honeymoon. Stay at Mena House, which sits in the shadow of the Pyramids in Giza. It’s where Gertrude Bell, T.E. Lawrence and Winston Churchill all stayed. Continue your honeymoon down the Nile in a traditional (private) felucca just as the Pharoahs once did before hitting the beach in Hurghada or Sharm el Sheikh.

Honeymoons for foodies

By Parikshat Laxminarayan

There’s an old saying, “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” Of course, it’s not just men that love food. If both of you are foodies, here are some great honeymoon ideas that will get your juices flowing – literally. From low-key street carts to fine dining, why not enjoy your shared love of food on a honeymoon in one of the culinary capitals of the world.

Seafood grill, Vietnam

Vietnam

Whether relaxing in one of the many cafes in Hanoi, snacking from Ho Chi Minh City’s street vendors or ordering ‘catch of the day’ beachside, eating is a big pastime in Vietnam. An intricate, well-balanced mix of five flavours – sweet, sour, spicy, salty and bitter – results in dishes bursting with flavour.

A French colonial influence is still prevalent today, with the baguette forming the base for a scrumptious Banh Mi and according to folklore the broth used in the ubiquitous Pho (soup) also originates in Europe.

For a slice of colonial chic set amidst a tropical backdrop, head to Ana Mandara Villas, a cluster of 1920s villas with original art deco features. Its restaurant is famed for unbeatable local cuisine and private cooking lessons with the chef can be arranged.

If you are after a more authentic experience, head to Can Tho, Vietnam’s fourth largest city. Its legendary floating market on the life-sustaining offshoots of the mighty Mekong is a joy to visit and a grazer’s paradise. Indulge in freshly prepared dishes from a fleet of wooden boats bobbing on the water.

Vivanta by Taj - private dining

India

A country so versatile in its cuisine, where do you begin a culinary voyage? Perhaps best to start in the capital city Delhi, famed for its variety of street food. Those wanting to learn how to make famous Indian dishes should head to Mrs. Bajaj’s home for a cookery class. You will learn how to prepare six dishes including snacks and dessert and you can take home a copy of the recipe to create the dishes at home.

If sea, sun and sand are also high on your wishlist, combine a gastronomical trip with some of the most relaxed – and beautiful – beaches in India, in the tropical paradise of Kerala. Renowned for its slow pace of life and friendly people, Keralan cuisine will delight with its rich flavours.

Nestling in the lush hillside of Kovalam, Vivanta by Taj is the perfect hideaway for lovebirds. Following a day lounging by your private pool or exploring nearby beaches, indulge in a romantic dinner especially created for you by the chef.

The Oberoi, a byword for sophistication and style, offers a luxury canal cruise on board the Vrinda Houseboat, gently tucking along the scenic waterways. Kick back, relax and watch the world roll by whilst delving into innovate seafood dishes or create your own menu with the help of the expert crew.

La Petite Ferme, South Africa

South Africa

What beaches are to Cape Town, gastronomy is to the winelands. A stunningly beautiful region of fertile, rolling hills and valleys stretching to the north and east of the city, the winelands’ villages have secured a reputation for world class wines and award winning restaurants.

The pretty town of Franschhoek (French Corner) has in recent years emerged as the gastronomical capital of South Africa. The Tasting Room at boutique hotel Le Quartier Francais is ranked amongst the best restaurants worldwide. Don’t miss the signature eight-course African-inspired tasting menu.

Nestling on the slopes of Franschhoek mountain is La Petite Ferme – a combo of chic guest house, award winning restaurant and winery. Indulge in a scrumptious lunch – South African and French flavours collide – accompanied by fine wines from its own vineyards, before retreating to your sumptuous room for an afternoon nap.

Mendoza, Argentina

Argentina

Tango and ‘Evita’ Peron are among the most famous Argentine exports but gourmands also know this stunning country for its award-winning wines and what is said to be the world’s best steak.

The capital Buenos Aires is a treasure trove of eateries, from rustic neighbourhood taperias to fine dining in upscale restaurants behind the grand facades of Recoleta. Feeling sociable? Join The Argentine Experience and let the enthusiastic team infect you with their passion for delicious local wines and mouthwatering steaks.

Connoisseurs of a good glass of red will be familiar with Malbec, which is produced in the high altitude regions of Lujan de Cuyo and Uco Valley in the stunning Mendoza region, located in the Andean foothills along the Argentine/Chilean borders. Cavas Wine Lodge just outside Mendoza offers a charming blend of colonial-meets-contemporary with the house nestling amidst 55 acres of vineyards. Its secluded location surrounded by natural beauty is a honeymooners’ delight.

• Parikshat Laxminarayan is Managing Director of Enchanting-Travels

Top 3 Indian Ocean Honeymoon Hideaways

Fregate

Fregate Island is a superb private island experience in the Seychelles

Looking for great honeymoon ideas? We asked the team at Enchanting Travels to pick three of the best Indian Ocean private hideaways.

Fregate Island – Seychelles

Always wanted to stay on a private island? What better excuse than your honeymoon – a once in a lifetime opportunity. Fregate Island, named after the eponymous bird, houses only 16 secluded villas, accommodating no more than 40 guests at any time. Apart from 2,000 free roaming giant tortoises and a plethora of other wildlife such as Seychelles magpie robins, you will have the island almost to yourself.

Although a small island, there is plenty to do for lovebirds. Fregate boasts seven beaches including Anse Victorin, once named ‘best beach in the world’.

Each of the villas sits in a prime clifftop position, shielded from each other by lush jungle, featuring terraces with magnificent ocean views, large private infinity pool, jacuzzi and daybeds. There is a yacht club, a selection of restaurants and bars, diving and a spa.

For those with deep pockets and in need of utter privacy, the island can be hired exclusively (rumor has it, Brad Pitt and Pierce Brosnan have visited).

Kanuhara

Relax on the beach at Kanuhura Resort

Kanuhura Resort – Lhaviyani Atoll – Maldives

Luxury. Seclusion. Peace. Romance. Indeed these are all associated with the Maldives and Kanuhura Resort lives up to expectations. Located on a private island in eastern Lhaviyani Atoll surrounded by the crystal clear waters of the Indian Ocean you step off the plane, entering a world of bliss and serenity.

All of its lovingly crafted villas – beachfront or on stilts above the ocean – feature sumptuous accommodation that will cocoon you in a world so sweet you will never want to leave. Outdoor showers, private sun decks, hammocks above the ocean and ocean views combine to create a perfect romantic hideaway.

If you are able to pry yourself away from your villa’s seductive surroundings, there are plenty of pastimes for the active – some of the world’s best diving sites, with the outer reef dropping almost 2,000 meters, water sports, tennis, squash and cooking classes.

Kanuhara bathroom

Beautiful indoor / outdoor bathroom at Kanuhura Resort

Matemwe Retreat – Zanzibar – Tanzania

One of the most exclusive resorts on the intriguing ‘spice island’ of Zanzibar, Matemwe Retreat is a cluster of only four chic villas for the ultimate in escapism. Each of the beautifully designed properties features its own plunge pool and has access to a private, powdery white beach exclusive to the resort.

As if uninterrupted ocean views, private bar area, bathtub with ocean views, veranda with hammock and a roof terrace with plunge pool weren’t quite enough, guests have a personal butler on standby who will gladly organise your day or crack open a bottle of bubbly poolside.

Dining can be arranged in private but if you are yearning for company, sister resort Matemwe Lodge is a mere five minute stroll away where you can mingle with residents at the restaurant or relax poolside.

If any of the above destinations sound like your perfect honeymoon or you would like to hear further suggestions,  speak to the expert team at Enchanting Travels who will be delighted to assist in creating your dream honeymoon.

Fregate spa

Outdoor spa treatments at Fregate Island

Africa honeymoon for festival lovers

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If music be the food of love ..? Take a romantic honeymoon on Lake Malawi in Africa in September 2014 and combine it with a trip to Lake of Stars, a colourful music and arts festival in Malawi. The Lake of Stars package at Pumulani is on offer with a 10% discount for honeymooners and includes bubbles on arrival, a private breakfast on a dhow, a private romantic dinner, a free snorkeling excursion and a romantic turn down. More details from Robin Pope Safaris.

On the river to Mandalay….

Sanctuary Ananda

By Jane Anderson, Editor, 101 Honeymoons

If you want to get under the skin of fascinating Myanmar in the lap of luxury, look out for Sanctuary Retreats’ new custom-built ship, Sanctuary Ananda.

Named after the Ananda Temple in Bagan and built locally by two Burmese brothers, Sanctuary Ananda’s maiden voyage sets sail on 15 November 2014 with a series of 3, 4 and 7 night itineraries on the fabled Ayeyarwady River as well as 10 and 11 night exploration cruises on its tributary, the Chindwin River.

Owner's Suite - balconySpaRelax on the sundeckLuxury Suite

The ship has been built with comfort and romance in mind – each of the 21 air-conditioned suites has a private balcony  and en suite bathroom with a monsoon shower – as well as authentic Burmese furnishings. I especially like the look of the exclusive Aloungpayah Owner’s Suite on board Sanctuary Ananda – there’s a King-sized bed, vast bath tub, butler service, private dining and even your own private guide.

Experienced local Burmese guides are on hand at each port of call – forget all thoughts of being herded on to a tour bus with huge groups crowding around one iconic attraction. Sanctuary Ananda guests will travel on horse-drawn carts, trishaws and small boats to enjoy the must-see sites as well as an insider view of small villages, Burmese culture, customs and handicrafts crafts away from the tourist trail.

BaganU Bein bridgeBurmese childrenShwedagon Pagoda

Top and tail your sight seeing each day with free meditation and yoga classes on the sun deck and enjoy a choice of Burmese and international dishes in the on-board restaurants and lounges.

Book for any sailing in November or December 2014 and you’ll receive an on-board credit of up to US$500 which can be redeemed in the on-board spa or for premium brand drinks.

Prices start at £1,350 per person for 3 nights excluding flights – the price includes all sightseeing as stated in cruise itinerary, all meals, soft drinks and local beer and wine. Sanctuary Retreats can also add on stays elsewhere in Myanmar from beaches to the former capital, Yangon.

Find out more here.

Indian Ocean top choice for honeymooners, says survey

Cheap honeymoon packagesHoneymoon packagesCheap honeymoon packages

Only 9% of brides name Europe as most romantic destination

1 in 4 would wear wedding dress at check-in to blag an upgrade

By Jane Anderson, Editor of 101 Honeymoons

It’s something old, but mostly something new when it comes to honeymoons according to a new survey of recent brides and brides-to-be.

Traditional beach honeymoons still win out with a whopping 78% opting for this type of post wedding escape. Adventure comes second on the list followed by island hopping, city shopping, grand tours, safari and a Robinson Crusoe experience.

When asked which is the most romantic honeymoon destination, 33% picked the Indian Ocean, beating the Caribbean (22%) followed by the South Pacific (17%), Europe (9%) and Asia (6%), The Americas (4%) and Africa (4%). Only 1% of those surveyed picked the UK.

Pacific Resort Aitutaki  COUPLE WALKING LAGOON

Almost all honeymoons (92%) are a joint decision between bride and groom. When it comes to who foots the bill, 75% of couples pay jointly and 30% of honeymoons are paid from donations to honeymoon gift lists. Gone are the days when husbands-to-be took care of the honeymoon with only 9% paying.

Nobody now travels off on honeymoon on the day of the wedding, according to the survey by Turquoise Holidays, and only 17% depart for foreign climes the day after. Half of brides headed off less than a week after the wedding while 21% waited for more than a month after the wedding.

Price is the overriding factor when it comes to choosing a honeymoon tour operator followed by service, reputation and choice. Only 47% are bothered whether it is ATOL protected.

Cosmetics and toiletries are the items you’d most like to have packed in your hand luggage if your honeymoon suitcase got lost, followed by swimwear, clothes, mobile phone, camera, lingerie and hair straighteners/curlers.

A surprising 24% of brides would say they would wear their wedding dress at check-in to get an upgrade. Whilst 86% said the best thing to happen to them on honeymoon would be a flight or hotel upgrade. Whilst only 6% said thought a diamond from her new husband would be the best thing.

Romance is alive and well as 53% said they intend to hold hands all honeymoon. And a quite significant 25% are planning a honeymoon baby.

Romance and pampering at Brown’s Hotel London

By Jane Anderson, Editor 101 Honeymoons

Vintage Car Transfer - Blue Baron mr - HR_320

If you’re looking for a magical pre-wedding treat or first night before your honeymoon to rejuvenate and pamper one another, I can highly recommend Brown’s Hotel on London’s Albemarle Street, just behind Piccadilly. This Rocco Forte hotel has that classy English touch where everything a just a little bit understated yet deeply stylish. My favourite part of the hotel is the Donovan Bar, a homage to British photographer Terence Donovan where you can sip a classic cocktail next to an iconic black and white image of Terence Stamp or Cindy Crawford.

For honeymooners, I would recommend a Classic, Deluxe or Signature suite from £460 per night. Sounds pricey, but benefits include one-way airport transfer, full English breakfast and half-hour spa treatments for two. You’ll even have your luggage unpacked and two garments pressed if you wish. Check-in is done in room, so there’s no hanging around at reception. Honeymooners are treated like VIPs and receive a romantic turndown with rose petals, candles and a bottle of Ruinart Champagne.

The Spa - HR

I would also recommend making the most of the spa. Even if grooms aren’t into pampering, they may be converted by Brown’s Gentleman’s MOT (£135/75 minutes) which includes a de-stressing neck and shoulder massage, refreshing facial and manicure. They’ll even give his eyebrows a tidy!

For brides, the Head in Heaven treatment (£105/75 minutes) is a deeply relaxing and effective facial that feels like a massage using fantastic Spiezia Organics made in Cornwall using 100% organic ingredients. It’s so super gentle and so spine tinglingly good that you won’t want it to end.

If you stay this winter, look out for the fabulous Christmas tree, accessorised by British designer Lulu Guinness in her distinctive signature Dali-esque lips. Just right right for kissing beside!

Xmas tree sketch by Lulu Guinness final - HR

 

Take your hens to Titanic Spa

By Jane Anderson, Editor 101 Honeymoons

Exterior 2DF3W5482Titanic treatment

If you’re living up north, the Titantic Spa in Linthwaite, West Yorkshire is a fun place to go for pre wedding treatments with your hens. One of the few destination spas in the area, you can stay overnight in an apartment. Housed in an old mill, built in 1912, the same year the H.M.S Titanic was built, hence the name, it’s not the most plush spa in the world, but the treatments are top notch with great products including Elemis, Decleor and Jessica. I had a relaxing massage using NEOM Organics. New treatments include the Carita Lagoon Hydration facial, designed to target dehydrated and tired skin by immersing the skin in a bath of fresh, Polynesian water. There’s also an extensive heat and ice experience, a pool with sauna and steam room and gym. Plus there’s a great shop where you’re left alone to try face creams and nail varnishes – bliss!

Spa Breaks starts from £69 per person.

Honeymoon luggage that’s chic yet hardy

Couple with Hideo Wakamatsu luggage

As editor of 101 Honeymoons I’m seeing a big trend towards luxury honeymoons with a good deal of adventure thrown in – honeymoons that take you from jungle to beach and from tented lodge to five-star resort. But there’s never been any luggage both glamorous and hard wearing enough that I thought worth telling you about – until now that is!

Check out Japanese luggage designer Hideo Wakamatsu, newly launched in the UK, who has come out with a range of super cool tarpaulin luggage which even comes in wedding white (along with blue, red and black).

Having lived in Paris for over ten years, Wakamatsu combines French flair with Japanese precision to create his idiosyncratic designs that are hard wearing.

This range is fully waterproof, so even if you’re in a monsoon downpour your honeymoon wardrobe is safe. It has handy front pockets for documents and laptops or tablets which are also waterproofed plus a satisfyingly smooth telescopic handle and silent wheels.

For mini-moons, the carry on has a nifty back cover that zips off and velcros underneath to reveal chunky backpack straps. And if you manage to get everything in here, you won’t be caught out by extra luggage charges by budget airlines either.

How much? Tarpaulin messenger bags, carry on trolley/backpack and medium trolley from £85 to £205.

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10 Best Eco Lodges for a Honeymoon

If cookie-cutter hotels fail to set your hearts on fire, how about a honeymoon at an eco-lodge? Somewhere quirky yet comfortable, in keeping with the environment and local communities. Here, the team at Enchanting Travels select the 10 best places to stay for a romantic honeymoon with a difference.

Tomarapi Eco Lodge, Bolivia

1. Tomarapi Eco Lodge, Sajama National Park, Bolivia

A truly authentic eco lodge, Tomarapi is set in Bolivia‘s Sajama National Park, about four hours from La Paz. It is an outstanding model – 26 local communities have come together to develop this unique enterprise which combines rustic design with some comforts. If you’re intrepid, crave tranquility far from the beaten track and like to get under the skin of local communities, it’s hard to beat.

Nuarro Lodge, Mozambique

2. Nuarro Lodge, Quirimbas, Mozambique

Nurarro Lodge, in Mozambique, is perched on an ancient coral rock in Nantha Bay, with jaw-dropping views over the Indian Ocean and stunning beaches close by. This is a protected area with healthy coral reefs, perfect for snorkelling, whilst the lodge itself has just 12 charming chalets, built by the local community with enough creature comforts to make you feel pampered.

From July to December you can witness the migratory humpback whales and their young on their annual visit.

Nkwichi Lodge, Lake Malawi

3. Nkwichi Lodge, Lake Malawi, Mozambique

This lodge takes the concept of ‘hand-built’ to its ultimate end – think four poster beds carved from old tree trunks and bathtubs hewn from living rock. Nkwichi Lodge is tucked away on the shores of dazzling Lake Niassa, the ninth largest lake in the world – this area is often described as the “unspoilt corner of real Africa”. Local communities benefit from the lodge’s partnership with the Manda Wilderness Community Trust that maintains Lake Niassa’s conversation area and monitors wildlife poaching. Stay here and you will probably find that the local guides will take you to meet their families and community dignitaries.

Reni Pani Jungle Lodge, Satpura

4. Reni Pani, Madhya Pradesh, Central India

Reni Pani is a charming wildlife lodge in the Satpura National Park, created by two brothers’ true passion for the environment. Their enthusiasm spills over in the exceptional local staff, in particular during the lodge’s pre-safari orientation briefing – it’s one of the best we’ve experienced. Reni Pani fully supports local conservation efforts, using local materials in its construction. With just 12 villas, there’s plenty of space for the native wildlife as well as the guests with activities from bush dinners to guided walking safaris.

Bahia Bustamante

5. Bahia Bustamante, Southern Atlantic Coastal Patagonia, Argentina

You are literally miles from nowhere here. Few travel companies know let alone offer the hidden gem that is Bahia Bustamante. It’s a family sheep farm with white-washed houses and dirt roads and the owner’s mission to protect biodiversity in this isolated ecosystem. Known as Rotten Bay, the land was formerly a natural factory for seaweed harvesting, the nutrient-rich seaweed creating an ideal breeding ground for an astonishing wealth of wildlife from guancos, sea lions and orcas to foxes, hares, lizards, waddling penguins, rheas, vultures and egrets. Explore the 65 million year old Petrified Forest, go horseback riding or kayaking, visit shipwrecks or hike through breathtaking scenery – and build an appetite for the salty fresh roasted lamb and organic fruits and vegetables.

Topas Eco Lodge, Vietnam

6.  Topas Eco Lodge Sapa, Vietnam

Perched on a hillside deep within the spectacular scenery of the Sapa valley of Vietnam, you’ll find Topas Eco Lodge. Individual thatched roof bungalows provide a comfortable home from home. The lodge’s interiors are simple yet inviting. The lodge works closely with the local communities – providing education to the children of the surrounding villages, employing staff to cook and serve traditional Vietnamese cuisine (the restaurant is a stilt house in the traditional style of the Tay, a native ethnic group of rice farmers) – and it shares its best environmental practice across the whole of the Sapa valley and the Hoang Lien National Park.

Spice Village CGH

7. Spice Village CGH, India

Spice Village is part of the collection of CGH Earth properties in South India that offer a very considerate approach to the environment and community with its “Clean, Green and Healthy” focus – it’s all about modern comfort, without the noise in carefully constructed buildings that echo the local landscape. Set within Periyar Wildlife Park and the misty Western Ghats, Spice Village is surrounded by scented spice gardens with the opportunity to discover native tribal traditions, immerse yourself in trekking, bullock cart riding and traditional cooking demonstrations from the friendly and enthusiastic local staff.

Posada Amazonas, Peru

8. Posada Amazonas, Puerto Maldonado, Peru

Immerse yourselves in one of the world’s finest wildlife wonders with a stay at Posada Amazona, set in the heart of the Amazon and reached only by boat. As soon as you arrive you’ll feel the Robinson Crusoe effect – separate wings are connected by raised boardwalks and the rooms are built with traditional materials, including palm fronds, clay and wood. With a continuous natural soundtrack of the jungle, wildlife sightings are likely to include monkeys, toucans, parrots and giant river otters. This unique rainforest lodge, complete with a wellness centre, is owned by the indigenous tribe who live within the Ese-Eje reserve.

Campi ya Kanzi, with views of Kilimanjaro (photo by Ian Johnson)

9. Camp ya Kanzi, Chyulu Hills, Kenya

This luxury tented camp has attracted the likes of Edward Norton and Naomi Walls. Campi ya Kanzi is set within the Chyulu Hills of Kenya, surrounded by grasslands and forests. Embrace the natural beauty with bush walks in the hills and relax back at base in a lodge created from local sustainable materials including grass for the gorgeous thatched roofs and lava rocks. The land is owned by the local Masai and an established trust further supports the community. All the power is from renewable sources, including using a biodegradable charcoal made from coffee husks for the cooking stoves.

Dewachen Lodge, Bhutan

10.  Dewachen Lodge, Gangtey, Bhutan

Imagine wood-burning fires and breathtaking views of a remote valley, viewed from your hidden world amongst soaring pine trees. This is Dewachen Lodge. The traditional Bhutanese architecture is both awe-inspiring and rustic with an old world, simple charm to it and the bonus of rewarding day treks on your doorstep. Snuggle up in the relatively chilly climate with woven blankets and gaze at the rare black-necked cranes from any number of viewing points.

If you are inspired by Enchanting Travels‘ collection of eco lodges, contact their expert team who can design your personalised honeymoon.

Honeymoon at Cornwall’s luxury eco hotel, The Scarlet

Hot tub

By Jane Anderson, editor of 101 Honeymoons

If the tales of romantic stays in the visitors’ book are anything to go by, The Scarlet is one hot honeymoon hotel. Couples adore it here. With one of the most spectacular settings in the UK, right on the cliff top overlooking the largely untouched Mawgan Porth bay in north Cornwall, it’s hard to believe this is England, such is the expanse of wild beach and sparkling sea. If you want to avoid airport hassles and go on a staycation-moon, this is a great choice (although you could actually take a quick flight to Newquay Airport which is a taxi ride away).

ExteriorRestaurant - overall night

The hotel itself is modern and designer and, crucially, adult-only. There’s a deeply calming air about the place, with lots of thought-provoking art and inviting places to chill out, be that the arty library, the funky bar in the round or on a lounger by the outdoor living reed bed pool (and yes, you can swim in it).

Bedrooms have just enough wow factor to please newlyweds, especially Room 2 with its gorgeous terrace and views. The restaurant serves robust, yet sophisticated cuisine inspired by Cornish produce and Camel Valley wines.

Guestroom no. 2 - bedroom

The Ayurvedic spa is geared around couples indulging one another. Start with a hot tub on the cliff top overlooking the vast expanse of Atlantic Ocean. And then choose from a Rasul Experience where you slather your new spouse in mineral-rich mud, whilst giving your skin a boost, or the Hammam Experience which also includes a salt scrub exfoliation, followed by a mud wrap to cleanse and detoxify, finishing with a stimulating hair wash and deep conditioning head massage.

Spa - deep relaxtion roomSpa - indoor pool (no talent)

And if you have an eco-conscience, this is one of the most sustainable hotels in the UK. If you want to venture out, Padstow is on the doorstep with Rick Stein’s restaurants and delis and the Camel Trail to Wadebridge, a fabulous cycle ride. Chi-chi Rock is across the bay and Watergate Bay the other direction with Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Restaurant.

Rates at The Scarlet start from £200 per night with breakfast and couples treatments are £75 per person including lunch, 01637 861800.