The capital city of Madeira is blessed with year round sunshine, many historical attractions and some great restaurants. From cool rooftop bars to beautiful botanical gardens and fascinating museums, there’s something for everyone. Here are 17 things to do in Funchal, Madeira that you really shouldn’t miss.
Things to do in Funchal, Madeira
These Funchal attractions are listed alphabetically, to help you to find the ones best suited to your interests. The city of Funchal is very clean and safe. It can get busy when the cruise ships are in port but if you head off the main streets then you can easily find uncrowded sights to enjoy. The name Funchal comes from the word for fennel, funcho.
Perhaps the most famous person born in Funchal is Cristiano Ronaldo. He currently lives in Madrid but ut still has close links to the island. The Museu CR7 opened in 2013 and tells the story of his rise to success. It houses all 126 individual and team trophies won by the football legend. Next to the museum, there’s the 4 star Pestana CR7 Hotel, with a rooftop bar, infinity pool and outdoor hot pool. Hotel guests get free access to the CR7 Museum, and there’s a restaurant open to non residents. A statue of Cristiano Ronaldo, created by Ricardo Velosa in 2014, can be found on the side of the building that faces the marina.
Museum opening times: 10.00 – 18.00, Mondays to Saturdays. Closed on Sundays and 25 December
Design Centre Nini Andrade Silva
Housed inside the imposing Nossa Senhora da Conceicao fortress at the far end of Funchal Marina, the Design Centre Nini Andrade Silva is well worth a visit. The fort was once the home of Portugese explorer Joao Goncalves Zarco, who colonized Madeira in the 15th century.
Many of the attractions in Funchal are quite traditional so the modern designs on display here make an interesting contrast. The museum is the brainchild of Nina Andrade, who is a renowned Portugese designer. It showcases her work on hotels, universities and private residences as well as her furniture and jewellery pieces. There’s a stylish bar with indoor seating and an outdoor terrace with fantastic sea views, as well as a small shop. The highlight is the restaurant, DC Atelier, located on the top floor. It specializes in seasonal produce and contemporary Atlantic cooking. The decor would not look out of place in Vogue magazine, with comfy sofas and superb sea views.
Design Centre opening times: 10.00-23.00
Doca do Cavacas
One of the best hidden gems in Madeira, Doca do Cavacas is a natural rock pool where you can sunbathe and swim, with direct sea access. This secret Funchal spot is popular with locals and you can also walk through the tunnel to the nearby rocky Praia Formosa beach. The natural rock pools are extremely picturesque, though you’ll find them chilly for bathing out of season. There are changing rooms and a shower, as well as a little snack bar. The pools are supervised by a life guard. Overlooking the pools and part of the same complex is one of the best seafood restaurants in Madeira.
Opening times: 10.00 – 20.00, Monday to Sunday
Funchal Cable Car
To get your bearings in Funchal, we highly recommend a trip on Funchal Cable car to Monte. The journey time to the top of Monte parish takes from 15-20 minutes and the cable cars seat a maximum of 7 people. Along the way, there are great views of the sea and red tiled rooftops. You can buy tickets at the information centre on Caminho das Babosas or at Monte station. There’s a free exhibition on lace making that’s also worth a look.
Opening times: 9.00-17.45, 364 days a year
Return fares: Adults 16 €, child aged 7-12 years 8 €, child aged 0-6 years free
Suitable for: all ages
Refreshments: available at the kiosks a few minutes away
Sé Catedral was built in the 15th century and is located in the heart of Funchal Old Town on Rua do Aljube. The cathedral of Funchal has an orrnate ceiling carved from local cedar wood,
Opening times: 07.30-12.00 and 16.00-19.00. Group visits: Daily from 09.00-11.00 and 16.00-17.30
Mass: 08.00, 08.30, 11.15 and 18.00 on weekdays. Sundays at 08.00, 09.00, 11.00, 17.00 and 18.15
Popular with locals and tourists alike, Funchal Lido has a fantastic location overlooking the Mediterranean sea. The Lido holds the coveted Blue Flag badge symbolizing environmental quality. There are several salt water outdoor pools, a solarium and plenty of lounging areas next to the rocks. Directly above the lido on Rua do Gorgulho there’s a cafe where you can get light meals and snacks.
Opening times: daily from 8:30 to 20:00
Price: Adult: 5.00€; Young: 1.80€; Children (0-10) – free
Accessible to those with reduced mobility – wheelchairs available
Funchal Marina is a lovely place for a stroll. There are several bars and restaurants along the water’s edge. It opened 20 years ago and has space for 210 yachts, as well as fuel stations, water and electricity supplies and nautical shops. If you’re visiting the island in June, don’t miss the fireworks display here each Saturday night. Part of the Atlantic Festival, the shows are free to watch and very impressive. A different fireworks team competes each week with the public voting on their favourite.
Perhaps the most iconic of all Funchal sights are the Monte toboggans. They have been in operation since the early 19th century and are handmade from wicker and wood. After taking a seat in the wicker basket next to Nossa Senhora do Monte Church, you’ll be whisked 2 kilometres down the hill by two carreiros. These men are dressed in white and wear straw boater hats, using their rubber soled boots to brake. The ride is surprisingly comfortable but it’s definitely exhilarating! The toboggan steerers guide the basket around the winding roads and past traffic intersections with expert skill. It’s perfectly safe as there are fellow workers giving the all clear at each junction. When you reach the finishing point at Livramento, there’s a cafe and shop. Either take a bus down or a cab but make sure that their meter is switched on.
Opening times: Monday to Saturday – 9.00-18.00, Sunday – 9.00-13.00 (prior reservation required). Closed on 1 January, 14 and 15 August, Good Friday, Easter Sunday and 25 December.
Price: 25 € for 1 person, 30 € for 2 people and 45 € for 3 people. Children under 5 years old go free.
Suitable for: all ages, however the ride is quite bumpy
Refreshments: at Livramento finishing point
Igreja de São João Evangelista
The Church of St. John the Evangelist is a striking combination of Baroque and Mannerist style, dating from the 1600s. There are several carved, gilded chapels, decorative azulejos tiles, frescoes and ceiling paintings. Outside the church, you’ll see a black and white mosaic pavement in the shape of waves, that is traditional in Madeira. There’s also an unusual planter in a pair of jeans, highlighting the island’s efforts at ecological conservation.
Igreja do Socorro
If you walk all the way up Rua de Santa Maria, you’ll eventually come to Largo do Socorro and Igreja do Socorro. This attractive clifftop church on Socorro Square was rebuilt in 1750 after the original was destroyed in an earthquake.
Located in Socorro Square, this church is related with a pledge made by the people of Funchal to Saint James because of an outbreak of plague that occurred in the island in 1523.
Inside, there are traditional azulejos tiles, a painted ceiling and a gilded altar.
Opening times: Monday to Saturday – 09.30-12.00 and 15.00-18.00, Sundays from 09.00-12.00
Mass: Tuesdays and Thursdays at 18.00, Saturdays at 17.30 and Sundays at 10.00
Casino da Madeira is a design classic, created by famous architect Oscar Niemeyer in 1970. Its distinctive shape is said to resemble a volcanic cauldron. Located next to the Pestana Casino Park, it’s a fun place to go at night when the rooftop is lit up. There’s live music at Copacabana nightclub and dinner shows every Thursday at Bahia Restaurant.
Opening times: Sunday to Thursday – 15.00-3.00, Friday, Saturday and holiday eves’ – 16.00-4.00. Closed – 24-25 December
Suitable for: people aged over 18 years old. Those under 18 years old are allowed to access the Bahia Restaurant
Refreshments: Bahia Restaurant, Palm Bar and Rio Restaurant
Mercado dos Lavradores
The Farmers’ Market in Funchal is known as Mercado dos Lavradores. Located on Rua Latino Coelho 38, it is popular with locals and tourists alike. Designed by Edmundo Tavares, it opened in 1940. As you enter the market there are two beautiful tiled wall murals by João Rodrigues. Inside, the market stalls are spread over 2 floors. On the top there are herb and spice sellers as well as gifts whilst on the ground floor there are fruit, vegetables, fish and some casual eateries. Quite a few of the stall holders wear the red traditional Madeira cap.
Opening times: Monday to Thursday – 8.00-19.00, Friday – 7.00-20.00, Saturday – 7.00-14.00, closed on Sundays and public holidays
Lift to upper floor
Refreshments: several eateries inside and a tapas restaurant directly in front
Monte Palace Tropical Garden
Madeira is known for its stunning floral displays and we’d highly recommend a visit to Monte Palace Tropical Garden. Located at the top of Funchal Cable car, it’s a lovely excursion from Funchal. Inside the garden there are some beautiful plant displays, spread over 70.000 square meters. A collection of over 1,000 African tribal sculptures, African Passion, is also well worth a look. The Mother Nature’s Secrets exhibition displays one of the best private collections of minerals.
One of the most interesting characteristics of the Monte Palace Tropical Garden is the existence of a large collection of tile panels placed along the walkways and amongst the vegetation acquired by José Berardo, under the specialist direction of Manuel Leitão. This collection, considered to be one of the most important in the country after that of the National Tile Museum, is made up of Hispano-Moorish tiles of the 15th and 16th centuries and panels produced in Portugal from the 19th to the 20th centuries.
Head down the shady pathways, admiring the traditional Hispano-Moorish tiles and you’ll come to Monte Palace. Dating from 1897, it was previously a hotel. There are great views of Funchal from here. The Japanese inspired section of the garden directly below the palace is a pleasure to behold.
Opening times: 9.30-18.00 for the garden, 10.00-16.30 for the museum, every day except 25 December
Price: 12.50 € for adults, free for children under 15 if accompanied by adults
Entrance gates and ticket booths: Caminho das Babosas, 4A (Entrada Junto ao Teleférico), Caminho das Babosas, 4 (Entrada Norte) Caminho do Monte, 174 (Entrada Este) – closed on weekends
Guided tours to the Museum: no extra charge but must be pre-booked and they are only available to groups
Refreshments: coffee shop near entrance inside
Shop on Caminho das Babosas
Rua de Santa Maria
One of the most Instagrammable Funchal attractions is along Rua de Santa Maria. Known as the Painted Doors area, it features many colourful building entrances. Thanks to the Open Doors Art Project, local artists have transformed Rua de Santa Maria and the surrounding alleys with colorful designs. From Madeiran folk scenes to contemporary murals, there is much to admire. You’ll find many restaurants and gift shops along the street too.
Opening times: all day for the doors. Restaurants and shops from lunchtime to late evening.
Sao Tiago Fortress
Painted a striking shade of ochre yellow, Sao Tiago Fortress is a cheerful sight. It was built in 1614 to protect Funchal from pirates. It was used by the military until 1992 when the Regional Government of Madeira The Contemporary Art Museum is housed inside, together with a popular restaurant specializing in Madeiran food, Restaurante Do Forte.
Opening times: Monday to Friday, 9.00-12.30, 14.00-17.30. Closed on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays
The Vine Hotel Rooftop Bar
One of the best hotels in Funchal, The Vine has a fantastic rooftop bar. Decorated in a contemporary style with a dipping pool and comfy bean bags, 360⁰Sky & Poolside Bar is a great place to savour a cocktail. There’s also an al fresco restaurant which it’s advisable to book.
Madeira Wine Museum
The island of Madeira is famous for its distinctive fortified wine. Production of wine on the island dates back to the 15th century. Blandy’s is one of the best known rum producers and Blandy’s Wine Lodge on Aveniga Arriaga 28 boasts the oldest wine cellars in Madeira. They date from the 17th and 18th centuries. There’s an interesting collection of vintage wines, machinery and other objects relating to winemaking.
Opening times: Monday – Friday: 10am – 6.30pm ; Saturday: 10am – 1pm, closed on Sunday and public holidays
There are some fantastic restaurants in Funchal. Here are a few that we have personally tried and would recommend:
Amazem do Sal – one of the best restaurants in Funchal, located in a former salt cellar
Beef and Wines – try the unlimited picanha beef, sliced at your table
DC Atelier – modern Atlantic cooking in a historic fortress
Jaquet – great seafood in a hole in the wall restaurant on Rua de Santa Maria
O Calhau – Mediterranean dishes and a pleasant outdoor terrace in Funchal Old Town
Restaurante Dos Combatentes – traditional Madeiran cooking
Restaurante Riso, Risottoria Del Mundo – risotto with a fantastic view of the Atlantic
Getting to Funchal
Funchal Airport, officially named Cristiano Ronaldo Madeira International Airport (FNC) is located just 22 kilometres from Funchal centre. The journey time takes around 25 minutes by rental car or taxi.
Day Trips from Funchal
Dolphin and whale watching
Porto Moniz lava pools
Santana traditional houses
Valley of the Nuns
Where to Stay in Funchal
Hotel Alto Lido is a stylish hotel near the lido area. It’s just been renovated and has a chic reception and bar area. The imitation log furniture in the bar is very lifelike! There’s also a lovely pool with a large terrace and day beds for serious sunbathing. Staff are extremely friendly and helpful.
Reid’s Palace is renowned for its sea views, whilst the Pestana Casino Park has the famous Madeira Casino within its grounds. If you’re looking for a hotel in Funchal city centre then The Vine is an excellent choice.
Monaco might be small, but it is perfectly formed. The Principality of Monaco lies on the Mediterranean sea and is bordered by France, with Italy also within easy reach. Monte Carlo is often mistaken for the capital of Monaco, but it’s actually one of the four government districts. The advantage of its compact size, at 1.95 square kilometers, is that it’s very easy to explore. We are sharing our tips on what to do in Monaco for a day. Having said that, there’s so much to see that you might well want to stay longer.
Luxury Columnist visits Monaco - YouTube
What to Do in Monaco for a Day
Activities in Monaco
Monte Carlo Casino
When visiting Monaco in 1 day, you shouldn’t miss Montecarlo Casino. It’s a spectacular Belle Epoque building that also houses the Opera House. Designed by Charles Garnier, the famous architect of the Paris Opera House, it was opened in 1875. The interior is as impressive as the outside, with huge chandeliers and stained glass. When visiting, remember to take your passport or identity card and for men, to wear a jacket and a tie. The entry fee varies depending on which rooms you are visiting. All casino visitors must be aged 18 or over.
Monte Carlo Catherdral
The Cathedral is often known as Saint Nicholas, and is the place where Prince Rainier and Princess Grace were married. Built in 1875 on the site of a 13th century church, it’s located in the old town.
Also in the old town, nicknamed The Rock (or Le Rocher in French), don’t miss the changing of the guard, every day at 11.55 am.
The Prince’s Palace
The guards stand watch over the Prince’s Palace. Whether you visit Monaco in one day or for longer, this imposing building definitely merits a visit. The State Apartments house stunning 16th century frescoes. The old town itself has some picturesque cobbled streets lined with restaurants and gift shops.
Monaco is famous for its association with Formula One racing. The circuit is in the heart of the city and you can retrace the steps of so many racing drivers yourself if you come with a car. The Automobile Club de Monaco recently celebrated 125 years of racing passion.
Gardens in Monaco
The Exotic Gardens contain thousands of rare plants, as well as a grotto. The Princess Grace Rose Garden is located within Fontvieille Park, and has recently been remodelled and extended. There are 8,000 rose bushes and 300 different varieties.
The Zoological Gardens are fun to visit if you have children with you, or even just if you are a big kid like us – who could resist this meerkat.
Yachts in Monaco
La Condamine holds the Port of Monte-Carlo, and the new Yacht Club designed by Sir Norman Foster and Partners. It takes centre stage in Monte-Carlo’s remodelled harbour. The luxurious boats in Monaco are definitely worth having a look at.
Museums in Monaco
If you only have one day in Monaco, the Oceanographic Museum is a must-see, containing a world-class aquarium with 4,000 species of fish. There’s even the possibility of stroking a shark with a special tank where the (thankfully very small!) sharks swim up to you if they want to be stroked. There’s a terrace restaurant and well stocked gift shop.
Another interesting attraction is HSH The Prince of Monaco’s Vintage Car Collection.There are almost 100 classic cars, Formula one race cars, and a very rare pink Mercedes Benz 300 SL Gullwing Coupé. The Lexus LS600h Landaulet is an ecologically advanced hybrid that was used for the marriage of Prince Albert and Charlene in 2011. Prince Albert is passionate about limiting climate change and whilst we were in Monaco, we saw him and his family participating side by side with local people on a World Climate March.
We’d also recommend a Nice to Monaco day trip if you have time.
Where to Eat in Monaco
You’ll be spoilt for choice in Monaco, as there are so many excellent restaurants specializing in fish and meat, to suit all budgets. We particularly enjoyed Les Perles de Monte-Carlo, Beef Bar, Maya Bay and the Brasserie de Monaco. Thanks to the mild climate, you may even be able to eat outside as we did a couple of times, despite it being December.
Shopping in Monaco
What to see in Monaco in one day if you’re more into shopping than museums? Well, Monaco has some very luxurious shops and is the perfect place for a spot of retail therapy. The Monte-Carlo Pavilions are striking pebble-shaped pop up shops in the Boulingrins Gardens, next to the Place du Casino. You’ll find a range of luxury brands here including Bottega Veneta, Lanvin and Miu Miu. There are many more in the nearby Carré d’Or (Golden Quarter, literally translated) including jewellers and antique dealers.
The Metropole shopping gallery is opposite the Casino Gardens, and houses 80 boutiques. Tax free shopping is available in Monaco to those who are not citizens of the European Union.
Getting to Monaco
By plane – There is no airport in Monaco itself bu Nice Côte d’Azur International Airport is 14 miles from Monaco and serves more than 86 worldwide destinations. By helicopter – Monaco’s Heliport, on the seafront, reduces that journey time to just 6 minutes from the airport to the centre of the Principality. By train – There are regular trains from Monaco/Monte-Carlo station to a variety of destinations including Nice. By car – Around 30 minutes drive from Nice International Airport.
Getting around Monaco
Monaco has an extensive network of buses but to really travel in style, we recommend hiring a car at Nice Airport. We chose Auto Europe and were really pleased with our luxurious Audi A4, which had plenty of boot space, air conditioning and ample acceleration. No we weren’t trying to outdo the Formula One drivers, but there are a few hills where it definitely came in handy! Pick-up was easy but the system for returning the car was particularly efficient. We just drove into the designated car park area at Nice airport, handed over the keys and someone inspected the vehicle, then we were on our way.
Where to Stay in Monaco
Monaco has a range of hotels for different budgets, all within easy reach of the main attractions. We stayed at the Columbus Monte-Carlo, which has a fantastic location overlooking the sea and the Princess Grace Rose Gardens. It has the added advantage of not being situated within the main Formula One racing circuit. This means that hotel guests can come and go freely during the race, and many racing drivers choose to stay here. Our newly redecorated deluxe room had a balcony with a Rose Garden view, air-conditioning, soundproofing, a flat-screen TV, safe and complimentary wifi. We particularly liked the substantial roof terrace, also overlooking the garden, and the spacious lobby lounge.
Climate in Monaco: thanks to its Mediterranean climate, the Principality of Monaco enjoys over 300 days of sunshine every year. The average weather in Monaco is around 26-29ºC or 80-84ºF in Summer and 8-14ºC or 48-58ºF in Winter.
Currency in Monaco: the euro is the official currency in Monaco. Most major credit cards are widely accepted. Travellers cheques are not frequently accepted.
Driving in Monaco: For those travelling to Monaco from the European Union, your local driver’s license is sufficient. Those travelling to Monaco from outside the European Union will need an international driving permit as well as their own driver’s license. Driving in Monaco is on the left and only children over 10 years old may sit in the front passenger seat.
Language in Monaco: the official language in Monaco is French. Many people speak English and some also speak a dialect, known as Monégasque which is taught in schools and is similar to Italian.
Population of Monaco: According to the latest census in January 2000, there are 32,000 inhabitants in Monaco. Of these, 32% were French, 20% were Italian and 19% were Monégasque.
Voltage in Monaco: The standard voltage is 230 V with a standard frequency of 50 Hz.
Have you ever visited Monaco and Monte-Carlo? If so, which other suggestions would you have for what to do in Monaco for a day?
There are so many amazing destinations that it can be hard knowing where to travel to next. If you’re looking for inspiration, we’ve come up with our pick of the best luxury destinations for 2018. From beach retreats to city breaks, there’s something for every taste.
Best Luxury Destinations Worldwide
South Africa has always been popular for its superb wildlife and vibrant restaurant scene but exchange rates make it particularly favourable to visit right now. If you’re looking to see the Big Five – buffalos, elephants, leopards, lions and rhino, then you stand a very good chance on a safari here. Many of the game reserves are malaria-free, as an added advantage. Yet South Africa is also a mecca for its whale watching in Hermanus and cheeky baboons at Cape Point. The Garden Route takes you past unspoiled beaches at Plettenberg Bay as well as world-class wineries.
With ANA’s new direct flights from Chicago and New York to Haneda, it’s much easier to reach Tokyo. There’s also a new bullet train from Tokyo to Hokkaido, making the North of Japan much more accessible. Many luxurious new hotels such as Aman’s pared down Amanemu are opening up and the upcoming 2020 Olympics will place Japan even further in the spotlight. Head to Oita Prefecture, which will host some of the Olympic rugby matches, for the spectacular scenery and the onsen. It has the most hot spring baths in Japan. If you’re visiting Tokyo, Japan Greeters is a great way to meet the locals on a complimentary guided tour of the city’s attractions.
There are concerns that The Maldives may be sinking due to climate change and that many of the islands will vanish within a number of years. Many of the islands are less than 1 or 2 meters above sea level and the soft soil is another contributing factor to the erosion of the land. The area of Baa Atoll has UNESCO Biosphere Reserve status and other atolls have applied for it. The world’s largest all-glass underwater restaurant, Hurawahli, is an excellent place to admire the sealife and hotels such as The Four Seasons have established marine conservation projects.
Mongolia might seem like an unusual choice as a holiday destination yet it is opening up to tourism thanks to the imminent opening of Nubia, aka New Ulaan Baatar International Airport. For such a huge yet sparsely populated country, it has a surprising number of high-end hotels such as the Kempinski Khan Palace and the Shangri-La. Follow in the footsteps of Genghis Khan across the steppes or grassland, for a trip like no other. You’ll encounter dzo, a cross between cattle and yak, as well as camels in the Gobi Desert. Stay for a night or two in a round tents known as ger or yurts for a true taste of life as a nomad.
For white sand beaches, impressive ruins and friendly locals, Mexico is hard to beat. A new Caribbean resort area, Mayakoba, has been designed in close collaboration with biologists and geologists to integrate into the environment. Luxurious hotels including the Banyan Tree Mayakoba, Rosewood Mayakoba Suites, Fairmont Mayakoba and Hyatt Andaz Mayakoba lie next to stunning beaches and mangroves. There’s a world-class golf course created by Greg Norman and El Pueblito, a charming market square inspired by a traditional Mexican village. It’s an easy transfer from Cancun to Riviera Maya yet the resort’s eco charm is an oasis of calm.
Central, North and South America Destinations
This country in Central America has an interesting mix of cultures. Although English is the official language, Creole and Spanish are both spoken in certain regions. There’s a wealth of natural attractions including dense jungle and the Great Blue Hole, named by Jacques Cousteau as one of the top 10 diving sites in the world. The ancient Mayan temples of Belize are well worth a visit and there are daily flights from many cities in Latin America, Canada and the States. Ecotourism is popular here and there are some stunning hotels and private villas dotted around the island.
This island in the Saragossa Sea is well known for the famous shorts and also for its world-class golfing and stunning pink sand beaches. Although you might think that it’s in the Caribbean, it’s actually part of British North America. If you’re lucky, you might spot the rare Cahow, Bermuda’s national bird that was thought to be extinct for nearly 300 years until it was rediscovered in 1951. The island is zika-free and there’s an abundance of luxury accommodation. In the words of Mark Twain, “You can go to heaven if you want. I’d rather stay in Bermuda.”
Canada is famous for its national parks, the Rocky Mountains and Niagara Falls. Canada Day is on 1 July and celebrations will be taking place in Ottawa, with a fireworks display on Parliament Hill and a street party, as well as Vancouver, Charlottetown and many other cities. Moreover, the exchange rate is very favourable for many travellers.
This island is one of the most atmospheric in the Caribbean. Cuba is famous for its pastel streets and vintage cars but its lush mountain landscapes and abundant wildlife are equally impressive. With the country opening up to tourism in increasing numbers, the time is ripe to see it before it changes for ever. Infrastructure has improved considerably over the last few years and it’s worth getting out of Havana to see some of the other 15th century cities and the attractive countryside. The Sagua-Baracoa Mountains is a tropical rain forest with many species of birds and the Jardines del rey archipelago is home to the second largest coral reef in the world.
Have you ever dreamt of travelling along Route 66? The iconic route starts in Chicago and continues through the state of Illinois before crossing 7 other states. There’s lots to see on the Illinois section of the route, from vintage diners to historic landmarks like the former home of Abraham Lincoln in Springfield.
This beautiful region of Spain has always been a favourite with visitors. It’sl now even easier to reach Andalucia from the UK thanks to regular flights from London Gatwick and London City, along with many flights to Malaga and Seville. Whether you choose to visit the Alhambra by day or by night, this Moorish masterpiece won’t disappoint. Granada is also well known for its tapas and is a good gateway to the rest of Andalucia including Seville and lesser known gems like Carmona, Jaen and Ubeda. There are lots of fun things to do in Marbella and nearby Puerto Banus too.
This elegant German city has many attractions for the visitor interested in the arts, including the new concert hall, Elbphilharmonie which is due to open in January. It’s a perfect place for a weekend break, with a huge lake for boating and a thriving food scene. Take a look around the UNESCO World Heritage listed Warehouse District, and if you have time, the picturesque riverside suburb of Blankenese is well worth a visit. The charming Hotel Louis C. Jacob is close by, and houses a Michelin starred restaurant.
Fans of Game of Thrones are not the only ones flocking to Iceland in their droves. Famous for its dramatic landscape, it’s also a real foodie destination and the people are among the friendliest that you’ll ever meet. From February, a new Air Iceland flight will connect Keflavik International Airport to Akureyri. This northern area of Iceland will be known as the Diamond Circle. It includes many spectacular attractions such as Dettifoss waterfall and Lake Mývatn. Of course, the famous Golden Circle in the south is not to be missed for its waterfalls and geysers. The capital, Reykjavik, is also worthy of your time – don’t miss the view from the top of Hallgrímskirkja, the striking Lutheran church.
Another one for Game of Thrones afficionados, Northern Ireland combines spectacular scenery with charming locals. West Ireland and in particular the Wild Atlantic Way is the setting for Star Wars Episodes VII and VIII. Both regions are known for their outdoor pursuits so whether you’re into walking, cycling, fishing or clay pigeon shooting you’ll love it here. As for Dublin, the city is compact yet has the largest city park in the world, Phoenix Park. Make time to visit Farmleigh, the official Irish state guest house, before heading back into town for a Guinness and a boxty, an Irish potato pancake in the lively Temple Bar area.
Visitors to Italy will be spoilt for choice as to which places to visit, from the hidden gems of Rome to picturesque Amalfi Coast towns and off the beaten path Venice attractions. One of the top Italian destinations for 2018 is Trieste, the capital city of Friuli Venezia Giulia in Northeast Italy. It has a beautiful medieval quarter as well as some striking Austro-Hungarian architecture. Try to visit for Barcolana, one of the largest sailing regattas in the world. It’s held every year in October and this year the 50th edition takes place from 5 – 14 October. To celebrate the 50th anniversary, there will be a fly-by at the start line from the Italian Air Force aerobatics team. Not only that, but there will be over 350 cultural, educational and sporting events on land and at sea.
Middle Eastern Destinations
Oman is an intriguing mix of tradition and modernity. Explore the picturesque capital of Muscat and its Grand Bazaar or take a desert safari by camel or 4×4. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can try quad biking or sand-boarding. There are many upscale hotels such as Alila, Anantara and Six Senses as well as a soon to be opened theme park, Majarat Oman. A drive along Wadi Ghul, Oman’s Grand Canyon, will lead to Jebel Shams, a 3000 meter mountain peak with superb views over the surrounding area.
We hope that you’ve enjoyed these suggestions of the best luxury destinations and that they inspire your wanderlust. Which places would you add to the list and where are you dreaming of travelling to this year?
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Taking place from 2-8 July 2018, RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show is unmissable if you have an interest in horticulture. It’s a lovely day out by the River Thames in a relaxed setting.
Hampton Court Palace Flower Show Highlights
This year, one of the highlights is the Evolve: Through the Roots of Time exhibit. Situated inside a dome, it takes visitors on a journey from present day meadows to Jurassic jungles and further back to barren landscapes predominant over 500 million years ago.
Dutch landscape designer Piet Oudolf has created a delightful walk through feature opposite the royal palace. It features orange Achillea, mauve Lythrum, pink Echinacea and silver blue sea holly. The plants will be relocated to RHS Garden Wisley after the show closes.
You can also walk through a meadow of purple Verbena bonariensis, named Swathes of Purple, next to the Long Water fountain.
There are some great Show Gardens this year including several for charities. Some of our favourites are:
Bursting Busy Lizzie Garden
This garden was designed by Matthew Childs and is sponsored by B&Q. It picked up a Gold Medal at the show, for its clever use of colour. It features a new breed of the busy lizzie plant, also known as impatiens, in six different shades.
The Children with Cancer UK: Mr. Happy, Mr. Worry Hill
This distinctive garden features a split hill and house, with one side symbolizing worry and the other symbolizing happiness. On Mr Happy’s side, plants include Echinacea and Rudbeckia in vibrant shades of yellow and orange. In Mr Worry’s garden, stone circles represent sadness and the colours of the plants are hues of blue and purple. The garden represents the huge progress made in child cancer treatment and also the ongoing research to eradicate it.
The Limbcare Garden
This peaceful haven offers a message of help and support to the UK’s amputees. Limbcare is a national charity founded by Ray Edwards MBE, the UK’s longest surviving quad amputee. It is one of the rare gardens at the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show that members of the public can walk around. You enter the garden via a brook with calming water, then pass over a bridge which symbolizes safe passage. At the centre of the garden, a striking sculpted pair of uplifted hands catches your eye. To the rear, there’s a quiet area with fountains to promote healing. Designed by Edward Mantis and landscaped by David Sutton, it features Amelanchier and Prunus trees, a woodland glade and a fragrant arch of Hosta and Cardiocrinum. Once the show is finished, the garden will be moved to Limbcare’s Wellbeing Centre, for which a fundraising effort is ongoing, where it will be an integral element of the courtyard.
The RNIB Community Garden
This is a sensory experience with an abundance of scented flowers as well as grasses such as Pennisetum villosum and Stipa tenuissima.
There are 4 World Gardens at Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2018 including The Orgeon Garden and The Charleston & South Carolina Garden from the USA.
Spain showcases Rías de Galicia: A Garden at the End of the Earth and the rugged coastline of Galicia.
The Santa Rita Living La Vida 120 Garden has a Mediterranean focus with Arubutus unedo trees and an oxide-yellow steel wall. Designer Alan Rudden was inspired by a trip to Chile as a guest of Santa Rita wines.
Conceptual Gardens and Gardens for a Changing World
This thought-provoking category showcases issues that the world is facing and also features conceptual gardens such as the one below.
Apeiron: The Dibond® Garden
This immersive space is an artwork as well as a garden. Enter the rusting steel box and you’ll discover a meadow surrounded by mirrored walls. It feels like the garden is stretching as far as the eye can see. It was created by Alex Rainford-Roberts using Dibond® mirror, which is an aluminium composite material that weighs half as much as a glass mirror.
There’s also a new category for 2018, the Lifestyle Gardens, which aim to show how a garden can mirror the owner’s personality. There are four gardens including a family garden and an entertaining garden.
Schools’ Scarecrow Competition
Following the theme of You Are What You Eat, this competition involved schools in the South East and there were some brilliant entries.
Dates – Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2018 takes place from 2 to 8 July 2018. Preview Evening – 2 July. 3-4 July – RHS members. 5-8 July – RHS members and non-members
Opening hours – 3-7 July: 10 am to 7.30 pm. 8 July: 10 am to 5.30 pm.
Food and Drink – Dig In Restaurant, Garden Cafe, Kings Food Court, Long Water Deli (North and South), Palace Stage, Food Court, Palace Kitchen by James Tanner, picnic enclosures at the Waterfront Oasis, Seafood Bar by Caviar House, Thames Food Court, Village Green Food Court, Waterfront Oasis North, Waterfront Oasis South
Drinking Water – several taps are located within the grounds
Cash machines – several within the grounds
Visitor Information Centre – located near to the Thames Gate
Pets – guide dogs are permitted to enter the showground – pets are not. Dogs must not be left unattended in vehicles
Plant and product creches – store your purchases at the creches, near the Country Living Magazine Pavilion and the Floral Marquee Entrance
Sell-off – from 4 pm on Sunday, display plants and products are sold off by many exhibitors
Getting to Hampton Court Palace Flower Show
By Train – 36 minute train ride from London Waterloo to Hampton Court then 15 minute walk
By Underground or Bus – District line to Richmond underground station, then R68 bus to Hampton Court
By Ferry – From Hampton Court Station, Kingston Bridge and Richmond to Molesey Lock Ferry next to the show entrance
By Car – Parking costs £16 per day at the Green car park at Hampton Court Green
By Bicycle – Bike racks are located at the Thames Gate Entrance
Are you looking for cool new places to eat in London? From luxury restaurants to Instagrammable cafes and traditional bistros, there are many great London eateries that you should not miss. Here are some of the best newly opened restaurants in London, together with established bars and eating places that have recently launched a new dining concept.
Newly Opened Restaurants in London
These are our top recommendations for restaurants that have just opened in London or undergone a revamp.
The American Bar at The Stafford
The American Bar at The Stafford London is an iconic St James hotspot. Known for its collection of memorabilia donated by visitors, it’s been successfully redesigned to give a fresh new look. Thankfully the unique collection of flags, ties and other quirky items still has pride of place. There’s a lovely courtyard with parasols for outdoor dining and the tables are well spaced apart. It’s definitely a London hidden gem.
The food menu created by Culinary Director Ben Tish has some great Mediterranean small plates such as chorizo and piquillo skewer and burrata with spiced, roasted cauliflower, lemon oil and flat bread. We like the savoury crab and chilli stuffed doughnuts and the healthy Chicken Milanese with borlotti beans, anchovies and salsa verde.
The cocktail list is inspired by the local area and include drinks such as The White Mouse, a delicious combination of champagne, saffron gin, lemon juice, rosemary syrup and egg white. It’s a tribute to Nancy Wake, the most highly decorated servicewoman by the Allies in WWII, codenamed The White Mouse by the Gestapo for her ability to evade capture by them.
16-18 St James’s Place, St. James’s, London SW1A 1NJ
Bluebird Cafe White City
This outpost of the original Bluebird Chelsea has a prime location in the redeveloped Television Centre in White City. This all day eatery has a lovely outdoor heated terrace. It will be a prime spot from which to watch Wimbledon on the screen in the Television Centre forecourt while tucking into strawberries and cream.
Television Centre, Wood Lane, White City, London W12 7FR
From the people behind famed Indian restaurant Gymkhana, Brigadiers is a contemporary Asian restaurant based in the new Bloomberg Arcade. In the heart of the City, it’s already proving popular with workers and visitors alike. The focus is on Indian barbecue food, using charcoal grills, rotisseries, smokers, tandoors and wood ovens. Enjoy a tandoor chicken club sandwich or smoked lamb ribs and try the innovative self-serve beer taps. It’s a prime spot in which to watch the FIFA World Cup 2018, either in The Pool Room, Blighters bar and restaurant or in one of the bookable 3 private rooms.
Champagne Laurent-Perrier Midsummer Terrace at Mondrian at Sea Containers
One of our favourite riverside London restaurants is the new Champagne Laurent-Perrier Midsummer Terrace at Sea Containers. Part of the Mondrian Hotel on the Southbank, it has great views of the Thames. The menu has been specially designed to celebrate 50 years of Champagne Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Rosé. Diners can feast on a selection of Summer dishes including strawberry and champagne ceviche of
seabass, Dorset crab, clay-oven baked lobster and peppered rib eye beef.
Accompany your meal with a bottle of Champagne Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Rosé or a champagne flight with Laurent-Perrier Brut, Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Rosé and Laurent-Perrier Vintage.
The bar will be open until late September and is also available for private hire.
The brainchild of Soren Jessen who also runs 1 Lombard Street, Ekte Nordic Kitchen is an all day Scandinavian restaurant. It’s situated in the new Bloomberg Arcade near Bank station and has a minimalist design. You can try Nordic specialties such as raggmunk, a Swedish potato pancake, smørrebrød open rye-bread sandwiches and kladdkaka, a sticky chocolate cake.
2-8 Bloomberg Arcade, London EC4N 8AR
A haven away from bustling Oxford Street, Feya is a cool new London cafe on St Christopher’s Place. It could well be one of the most Instagrammable places in London. Founder Zahra Khan has a keen eye for design and there are marble tables, pink banquettes and a floral ceiling. Finnish Instagrammer Vanelja has created a particularly photogenic breakfast menu.
23 James St, London W1U 1DT
Jones Family Kitchen Belgravia
The new venture from renowned Shoreditch restaurant The Jones Family Project has a fantastic location in Eccleston Yards near Victoria. Jones Family Kitchen Belgravia has a large terrace that’s perfect for al fresco dining. There’ll be a large screen from which to watch Wimbledon 2018. Try the La Vie En Rose cocktail, made with the Jones Family’s very own rosé vodka with Absolut, rosé wine, lemon juice and soda.
7-8 Eccleston Yards, London SW1W 9NF
We’re fans of Kricket Soho, so it’s good news that they’ve just opened another outpost in the capital, under the railway arches in Brixton. It’s a casual place that does some good modern Indian small plates. A third branch of Kricket is coming soon to Televison Centre White City.
41-43 Atlantic Road, London SW9 8JL
This contemporary Greek restaurant is located on an elegant street in Fitzrovia. Meraki is the baby of the Waney family, known for Coya, La Petite Maison, Roka and Zuma. Together with Chef Athinagoras Kostakos and team, they’re bringing the best of Greek cooking to London.
There are two terraces for dining al fresco, decorated with olive and eucalptus trees. The stylish interior design is by Sagrada
studios with Meher Waney and features comfy banquette seating and floor to ceiling windows.
The lunch set lunches at Meraki are particularly good value at 2 courses for £19.50 and 3 courses for £24.50. They include tasty dishes such as baby chicken with a lemon and mustard sauce, and keftedes which are grilled meatballs, served with a lemon tahini sauce. For a starter, we recommend the rösti Greek style, with sunny side-up eggs, cruncy potato, truffle oil and Cretan butter. The contrasting textures of the soft egg and crisp fried potato work perfectly. A Mykonian Greek salad of fresh tomatoes, cucumber, feta cheese and olives is something special here. It’s served with a Greek herb called kritamo, also known as rock or sea samphire, that has a delicate yet aromatic flavour. You shouldn’t miss the orange agave syrup cake for dessert, a lovely combination of crisp filo pastry and white chocolate namelaka served with clementine sorbet.
80-82 Great Titchfield Street, Fitzrovia, London W1W 7QT
Focusing on food that’s only available in the UK and foraged ingredients, Native is definitely one of the top newly opened restaurants in London. Rather confusingly, the full name of the restaurant is Native Flat Iron Square, however it’s not located on Flat Iron Square but on Southwark Street. It’s worth seeking out though, as the food is fantastic and varies depending on the season. One of the most popular drinks on the menu is the Sea Buckthorn Negroni. It goes well with the Chef’s Wasting Snacks – a variety of zero waste snacks.
32 Southwark Street, London SE1 1TU
Petersham Nurseries in Covent Garden
Petersham Nurseries has long been a favourite of those living in Richmond upon Thames. Now they have come to central London to a prime spot in Covent Garden. Petersham Nurseries has opened not one but two restaurants on King Street. La Goccia is an informal Italian restaurant with a wood fired oven and open kitchen, serving up cicchetti and aperitivo. The Petersham is a fine dining restaurant inspired by the Slow Food philosophy. Both restaurants have outdoor seating in the lovely Floral Court, perfect for Summertime. After dining, browse in the swoon worthy shop and florist, housed in a Grade II listed building.
27-31 King Street, London WC2E 8JB
The latest opening from the Daisy Green group, Scarlett Green is set to be a popular Soho restaurant. The Antipodean inspired menu will feature the largest Australian wine list in London, daily DJ sets from 4 pm and regular live acoustic music sessions.
You just know that a hotel is going to be special when it’s called THE VIEW. This appropriately named all suite hotel has a prime position overlooking Lake Lugano. In fact it’s one of the best hotels in Ticino region. Let’s take a tour of The VIEW Lugano.
THE VIEW Lugano – Luxury Swiss Hotel
First Impressions of THE VIEW Lugano
Driving up to THE VIEW Lugano, you’ll be impressed by the lakeside vistas. The boutique hotel is located in a quiet part of Lugano at the end of a residential street so there is no through traffic. You’ll only hear birdsong, with no noise from vehicles to detract from your enjoyment of the surroundings. In fact, once you’ve parked your car in the hotel’s free car park, there’s little reason to take it out again. That’s because The View has some innovative means of transport, which are complimentary for hotel guests. They can borrow an electric Smart car or electric bikes during their stay.
A member of the Small Luxury Hotels group, THE VIEW prides itself on its service. The multilingual staff are very friendly and helpful. Our experience began directly in the car park where we were greeted by members of staff who completed our express check in at the seating area there. Minutes later we were shown around our luxurious suite.
The other aspect that really stands out at THE VIEW Lugano is the focus on design. The spa features an innovative new material, KRION by Systempool. It looks similar to stone and is warm to the touch but also antibacterial and hard-wearing. You feel like you are on board a luxurious yacht, thanks to the use of naval teak in the lobby, lounge, restaurant and the suites.
There are sixteen Junior Suites which measure 50 m², and two 105 m² Suites. The focus is on the incredible views, with floor to ceiling windows that open on to a large balcony. There’s a lovely panorama of the lake of Lugano – in fact all of the suites have lakeside views. The design was inspired by super yachts and there are stylish marine teak floors as well as a sofa and armchair. Clever touches such as bathroom lights that illuminate as you walk past add to the contemporary ambiance. You get the feeling that James Bond would feel right at home here!
The toiletries are by Ortigia, the luxury Sicilian brand and smell absolutely divine. There are double wash basins and fluffy hooded bathrobes
The king size bed is supremely comfortable, with the highest quality linen, goosedown duvets and scented pillows, as well as a pillow menu. You’ll get an excellent night’s sleep here. The suites have all mod cons such as a safe, complimentary high speed Wi-Fi, a fully stocked mini bar and coffee and tea machine.
Here’s a list of some of the suite amenities:
Complimentary high-speed WiFi
Fully stocked minibar
Pillow menu and aromatic pillow cover
Wake up call and turn down service
Large terrace overlooking Lake Lugano
Coffee and tea maker
Flat screen TV with international channels
Complimentary indoor parking
A nice touch was the bottle of Pommery Brut Rose Champagne waiting for us in an ice bucket. We enjoyed it whilst sitting on the balcony and admiring the scenery.
As we mentioned, both electric bikes and Smart cars are at the disposal of hotel guests. THE VIEW Lugano is the first hotel in the area to offer complimentary use of these electric bikes and cars. It’s a really great idea and we made the most of it by heading into Lugano town centre a few times. The cars are already fully charged and have an autonomy of approximately 90 km, so you don’t need to worry about running out of power.
THE VIEW Lugano Spa
The spa is primarily for hotel guests but is open to external visitors who come for its bespoke treatments and relaxing atmosphere. Two of the most original treatments are the Choco Massage and the Choco Wrap Cocoon.
The spa’s design subtly echoes the yacht theme present in the suites. There’s a lovely 18 meter indoor pool on the top floor of the hotel. It has an adjacent vitality pool with a large whirlpool, water jets and hydro massage circuit to soothe any aching muscles. There’s another great view of the lake from up here that you can enjoy whilst you swim or relax on the loungers. If you’d like a smoothie, tea or other refreshments, simply ring from the Pool Bar for service and a bar tender will pop up right away.
The fitness room is well equipped with the latest TechnoGym equipment and is located on the ground floor, like the spa. A personal trainer is available upon request, and guests can also book fitness classes. Monitor your progress with the Technogym MYRUN app, which will record all the details of your training session. The fitness room is open to hotel guests and annual members from 6 am to 11 pm and from 9 am to 9 pm for other guests.
The most unique element of The View spa in our opinion is the Salt Room. It features a wall built from Himalayan salt bricks that release iodine and negative ions into the air. The iodine helps to decongest and disinfect nasal passages, whilst the negative ions purify the skin and kill bacteria. Some say that a 30 minute session in the Salt Room is as beneficial as a 3 day stay by the sea.
There’s also a relaxation area with cold drinks and separate men’s and women’s steam room and sauna. In the women’s area you’ll find a Kneipp cold foot bath. You walk through it to boost your circulation and it’s certainly refreshing!
Spa opening times: 9 am to 9 pm daily
50 CHF – day pass
400 CHF – monthly subscription
450 CHF – 10 day passes to be used within 1 year
3000 CHF – annual membership
The spa facilities include:
18 meter swimming pool overlooking Lake Lugano
Vitality pool with water jets and hydro massage circuit
Men’s sauna and steam room
Women’s sauna and steam room with Kneipp circuit
Breakfast at THE VIEW Hotel Lugano is a hearty affair, with a selection of delicious hot and cold dishes. Rather than a crowded buffet, everything is brought to you, including a basket of fresh bread and pastries, local ham and cheese and fresh fruit.
On a fine day you can take breakfast outside on the spacious terrace with its far reaching lakeside views.
It’s also a lovely spot for a cocktail. In the evening, light changing cubes add to the ambiance.
THE VIEW also has a fantastic restaurant, specializing in Mediterranean cuisine. At THE VIEW Lugano Fine Dining, chef Mauro Grandi successfully combines this Mediterranean inspiration with locally sourced produce. The restaurant serves food that looks as good as it tastes.
Luxurious boutiques such as Gucci and Louis Vuitton
Lake Lugano boat trips
You should also try to fit in a visit to LAC Lugano Arte e Cultura. It’s a contemporary arts centre with a 1,000 seat concert hall and regularly changing art exhibitions. There was a very interesting one on Picasso’s sketches, and there’s currently one on Balthasar Burkhard, a Swiss photographer known for his black and white large scale photographs.
The Amalfi Coast is known for its incredible scenery and charming boutique hotels. For example, Grand Hotel Convento di Amalfi is a former monastery, transformed into a 5 star Amalfi hotel with an unbeatable location. Perched 80 metres above sea level and the town of Amalfi, it’s a great base from which to explore the rest of the coast. Here’s why we think Grand Hotel Convento di Amalfi is one of the best Amalfi Coast hotels.
Grand Hotel Convento di Amalfi
We booked our stay here with Classic Collection Holidays, the leader in tailormade luxury holidays. They have particular expertise in Italian holidays and can arrange everything from airport parking and lounges, flights, accommodation to car hire or private transfers and VIP meet and greet airport services upon arrival. They have a 24 hour telephone hotline in case of any emergencies, which is definitely good for peace of mind. Before our trip they sent us our printed tickets, car hire voucher and a Berlitz Italy guide in a handy travel wallet. It was a great time saver, having everything pre-arranged.
Grand Hotel Convento di Amalfi - An Amalfi Coast Luxury Hotel - YouTube
Getting to Convento di Amalfi
The nearest airport to Amalfi is Naples. It’s around 2.5 hours from Naples to Amalfi, however you should allow up to 4 hours in the height of Summer. There are lots of picturesque places to stop along the way if you wish to break up the journey. The most popular touristic route is to take the A3 motorway from Naples to Vietri sul Mare and then the SS163 coastal road from Vietri sul Mare to Amalfi. However the locals often travel via Ravello instead. Even though it’s longer on paper, it’s generally quicker in Summertime and a lot less crowded.
Grand Hotel Convento di Amalfi is part of the NH Hotel Group and the property has been skilfully renovated to the highest standards. However, the hotel retains its character with many original details. Arriving at the monastery, you park outside at the drop-off space reserved for hotel guests. A member of staff will then park it for you and whisk your luggage to your room while you take the lifts to reception. Parking spaces on the Amalfi Coast are like gold dust so it’s a handy arrangement. Once at reception, a friendly member of staff will bring you a refreshing drink on the terrace and assist you with the checking in process. The views of the Mediterranean Sea are absolutely spectacular from here.
History of Convento di Amalfi
Dating from the 13th century, the building was recorded as a priory owned by Cistercian monks in 1214, becoming an abbey in 1223. It was passed to the Capuchin Friars in 1583, who lived there until 1813. The Archbishop of Amalfi then owned it and used it as a dining hall before it became an inn. It later became a Nautical Institute before being used as a hotel from 1885. The 13th century Arab-Norman cloisters are in surprisingly good condition and are a popular spot for wedding ceremonies.
Next to the cloisters is a single-nave chapel. It has a typical Cistercian flat apse and an oval vault and is licensed for weddings. If you head to the top floor of the hotel you can also admire the original monastery bells.
In the grounds of the hotel you’ll also find The Monks’ Walk or Passeggiata dei Monaci. Guests can follow in the footsteps of the monks who used to perambulate here. The walkway is surrounded by colorful flowers and lemon trees. The sea views are simply unmissable.
Accommodation at NH Collection Grand Hotel Convento di Amalfi
There are 53 beautiful rooms and suites at Grand Hotel Convento di Amalfi. We recommend the Presidential Suite, which has a larger than average bathroom and a sizeable separate living room. It also has a private balcony overlooking the sea and another great sea view from the lounge area. Honeymooners will love the Suite dell’Eremita, tucked away in a private area of the property, with its own terrace and outdoor whirlpool bath. Alternatively, you could choose one of the guest rooms with a view of the old monastery bells.
All the rooms and suites are equipped with:
Flat screen TV
Tea and coffee making facilities
Our suite had a handy walk in closet with curtains. It incorporated the safe and plenty of storage. The bed was really comfy and thanks to the thick stone walls you don’t hear noise from other rooms. The marble bathroom has a good power shower and separate bath. We liked the fluffy bathrobes and towelling slippers.
As well as our welcome drink, we enjoyed a chilled bottle of Prosecco and a lovely fresh fruit platter.
For a truly special Amalfi Coast experience, you could take the Prosecco up on to the monastery roof to sip it next to the bells whilst admiring the sun set.
Dei Cappuccini Restaurant
Grand Hotel Convento di Amalfi boasts a lovely restaurant with an outdoor terrace overlooking the bay of Naples, Dei Cappuccini. The name takes its cue from the hotel’s historic owners and means The Capuchin monks. successfully blends Italian and Mediterranean influences. The menu was designed by renowned Italian chef Natale Guinta and the dishes taste as good as they look.
The food is so good at Dei Cappuccini that we’d recommend having dinner at least one night during your stay. The restaurant is open to non-residents who book in advance. We particularly like the friendly service from the maitre d and his team. The sommelier really knows his stuff and will suggest suitable wines to accompany your meal if you wish. It’s generally warm enough to dine on the terrace from June onwards and the views of the Costiera Amalfitana are spectacular. There’s a particular focus on seasonal produce and quite a few of the ingredients are sourced from the Orto del Convento, the hotel’s private garden.
There’s a great selection of hot and cold buffet items for breakfast. Healthy options are plentiful, with salad, tomatoes, peppers and a range of fresh juices. Guests may also choose a dish from the hot menu such as a delicious omelette or tasty Eggs Benedict. Once again, you can enjoy the gorgeous views from the terrace or the air-conditioned interior if you prefer.
There’s a lovely infinity pool at the end of the Monk’s Walk. It’s temtping to stay all day on the comfy sun loungers here. There are showers and restrooms close to the pool and a paved area with more sun loungers. Walking around the grounds is one of the nicest things to do and there are many areas in which to stop and admire the scenery. The swinging chairs are one of our favourite spots.
While we were there, a wedding took place, with the ceremony in the chapel and cloisters. The Monk’s Walk was adorned with fairy lights for the wedding meal and the area by the pool was transformed into a dance floor. It’s certainly a magical place to get married.
Back inside the hotel, there’s an excellent spa with treatments using The Ligne Mille – a luxury anti-ageing skincare range by Marie Galland. You can even have a massage on the terrace overlooking the bay if you wish. There’s a Turkish bath and relaxation area within the spa too.
Here’s a recap of the hotel facilities:
Fitness room open daily from 7 am to 10 pm
Spa/Wellness centre open from 10 am to 1 pm and 4 pm to 8 pm, Monday to Saturday for hotel guests only. Advance booking required
Outdoor heated pool
La Locanda pool bar – lunch service from 1 to 3 pm; cocktails and snacks from 11 am to 6 pm.
Kyushu restaurant and dining terrace
Babysitting is also available for a fee.
Things to Do Near Convento di Amalfi
You can easily walk down to the town in 15 minutes or less. It’s a very scenic route which takes you through the hotel gardens, out via their private gate and directly to Amalfi town centre. Along the way, prepare to gasp at the sea views.
It’s also definitely worth visiting the nearby Amalfi Coast towns which are easily accessible from Amalfi. Read our guide to find out where the best secret Amalfi view is located and which hidden Amalfi restaurant you shouldn’t miss.
Since first opening in 1873, the Bürgenstock Resort in Switzerland has been famous for its incredible location and world-class facilities. Many stars of the silver screen have stayed here. Now the legend has been reborn after extensive remodelling and it’s even more impressive. With panoramic views over Lake Lucerne, a 10,000 square metre spa and stunning infinity pool, the Bürgenstock Resort and Alpine Spa has really got the wow factor.
History of the Bürgenstock Resort
Franz Josef Bucher and Josef Durrer were two pioneering Swiss construction firm owners. In 1871, they bought a meadow named the Trittalp in the Nidwalden region of Switzerland on the Bürgenberg mountain ridge. The Grand Hotel Bürgenstock opened in 1873 and was an instant hit. Guests flocked to the hotel and it became popular with luminaries such as Henry Kissinger and Jimmy Carter. Audrey Hepburn married her first husband, Mel Ferrer, in the picturesque chapel here in 1954. Sophia Loren and Carlo Ponti lived at a chalet in the Bürgenstock Resort for seven years. There’s a nice feature at the hotel – a history wall detailing key dates and displaying items from the hotel’s collection. One of the swimming pools is known as the Hollywood Pool and the original changing rooms next to it have also been conserved. At one point there was a bar named Bull’s Eye underneath the pool where you could see people swimming.
The iconic Bürgenstock funicular was built in 1888 to transport visitors up to the resort. It was the first electric railway in Switzerland and The Park Hotel opened in the same year. These days, the funicular has been replaced with a two track train in the style of the old train. The resort’s chapel was built in 1897 and the iconic Hammetschwand Lift opened in 1905. Now in 2018, the Bürgenstock Resort features 4 hotels within the extensive grounds. The Bürgenstock Hotel itself is a 5 star superior property, while the Waldhotel is 5 star and the historic Palace Hotel & Conferences is a 4 star superior. Taverne 1879 is a rustic but charming place to stay, and those interested in a long term stay will find the luxurious Bürgenstock Residences very convenient.
First Impressions of the Bürgenstock Resort
Whether you arrive by the lake and funicular or by car, you can’t help but gasp at the incredible views. The Bürgenstock Resort is perched 874 feet above sea level, overlooking Lake Lucerne. It encompasses 12 restaurants and bars and 4 hotels.
Accommodation at The Bürgenstock Hotel & Alpine Spa
The Buürgenstock Hotel is newly built and a design triumph. Arriving in the lobby, you’ll be impressed by the floor to ceiling windows, cosy seating areas and a nice buzz. After a friendly and efficient check in, you’ll be escorted to your room. There are 102 rooms and suites, decorated in a cosy yet stylish manner, with clever use of texture and natural materials. Wooden floors, stone walls and wool fabrics combine to great effect.
Again, there are spectacular floor to ceiling windows, giving you fantastic views over the lake. Our Deluxe Lake View Room was a sizeable 425 square metres. It had two comfy seating benches next to the window which were great for reading. There’s a clever ventilation system in the windows so that you can let in fresh air. Balconies or fully opening windows wouldn’t be feasible as it can get windy. The king size bed is supremely comfortable and there’s a pillow menu. The bathroom also has a floor to ceiling window with the same panoramic views as the bedroom. The walls are decorated with a beautiful natural quartzite, and there are 2 vanity basins and some lovely Bulgari toiletries.
You’ll find all the amenities that you’d expect in a five star hotel such as a safe, mini bar and flat screen TV. There are also some other nice touches including a Nespresso coffee machine, soft drinks and beers from the minibar and turn down service with chocolates.
Speaking of chocolate, there’s a great chocolate shop in the resort. In fact, there’s a whole Shopping Arcade spread over 1,100 square metres – undoubtedly one of the finest shopping mall views in the world.
Articolo – great fashion store
Swiss Chocolate Chalet – for delicious truffles and chocolate bars
Swatch Pavillon – funky Swiss watches
Longines Boutique – luxury Swiss watches
Omega Boutique – high end Swiss watches
Golf & Tennis Pro Shops – stocking all the equipment you need
SkyBoutique – for stylish presents made in Switzerland. Don’t miss the Sky Terrace, accessible from the SkyBoutique, a small platform made entirely from glass with great views of the valley.
One of the highlights of the Bürgenstock Resort is the Alpine Spa, spread over 10,000 metres. The infinity pool stays warm throughout the year, being heated to 35 degrees. Luxuriate next to the massage jets while admiring the extraordinary views of Mount Rigi, Mount Pilatus and Lake Lucerne. Inside there’s a large swimming pool, several relaxation areas, steam rooms and saunas.
A surprise for some visitors is that parts of the spa are textile free, although you can take a small towel into the sauna and steam room. There’s also a ladies only section with a sauna and steam room. To improve circulation, try the Kneipp bath along pebbles in icy water. The ingenious infrared back massager is also a must-try. Help yourself to fruit, flavoured water and tea at the snacking stations.
Finally, there are napping shells that will soothe you with light and sound changing sequences. Alternatively you could opt for a massage with one of the spa’s expert practitioners in a treatment room or private spa suite. Relax in the spa garden or a bite to eat in the farm to table grill. An added bonus is that Burgenstock Alpine Spa is open 365 days a year. Children are welcome to use the wet zones if they’re accompanied by their parents. The treatments and the nude area are accessible to those aged over 16. Here’s a breakdown of the Alpine Spa facilities:
Serenity Room – fireplace, waterbeds and day beds
Wet Areas – infinity edge pool (35° C) , indoor pool (30° C) , spa lounge, mixed spa, Alpine Rasul steam bath, saline floating bath, infrared cabin, nap shells, Kneipp baths
Ladies – herbal steam room, aroma sauna and panorama sauna, cold water pool (18° C), Jacuzzi (36° C), relaxation areas
Unisex – rain shower, ice room, cold (18° C) and warm water pools (38° C), Jacuzzi (36° C), aroma sauna, herbal steam, Alpine eco pool, panoramic sauna, relaxation area
Oak Grill & Pool Patio with Chef’s Table and solid oak beams
Hollywood Garden Pool – heated to (20-24° C), with Roman style pavilion and spa garden with the former changing rooms
Kid’s Club Mutzliburg – for children from 3 to 12 years old
Fitness & Gym – an airy 200 m2 space with great views of the valley, open 24/7. Personal trainers are on hand if you wish to book a training session.
Program of Activities – aqua fitness, core, dance mix, dancing for kids, healthy back, jogging, piloxing (pilates, boxing and dance), stretching…
Over at Waldhotel, guests can enjoy a different but equally relaxing spa experience. The Waldhotel Health and Medical Excellence Spa is specialized in convalescence and medical check-ups. There’s a separate pool for rehabilitation, and an indoor pool open to all Waldhotel guests in which you can turn on a switch to swim against the current. It’s really great exercise. From here you can swim to an outdoor pool and relaxation deck overlooking the valley. Returning inside, there are comfy day beds with curtains and flavoured waters and teas. This spa also has a no clothing section where the saunas and steam rooms are situated. There’s an extensive spa treatment menu and also the large Waldtique Shop with some great skincare brands.
With 12 restaurants, bars and lounges, you’ll be spoilt for dining options. Here are a few of our favourites:
Lakeview Bar & Lounge – with a casual ambiance, it does a delicious wagyu burger. The views of Lake Lucerne are lovely. As it’s popular with non residents there’s a section reserved for hotel guests so that they always have a table.
Taverne 1879 – the perfect place to enjoy traditional Swiss cuisine and views of the valley. It actually opened in 1879 and has been wowing diners ever since with raclette, tartiflette and other tasty Swiss specialties. Renovated in 2011, it also has a cosy indoor restaurant for cooler days.
Spices Kitchen & Terrace – a stylish restaurant with fantastic views of Lake Lucerne and a focus on Asian dishes. You can enjoy Chinese dim sum, Japanese sushi, Thai green curry, Indian naan bread and many other delights. We recommend the sharing menu with its mix of different Asian flavours – there’s a spectacular Thai creme brulee for dessert. Although the food is refined, the atmosphere is pleasantly unstuffy. It’s fun to watch the chefs at their cooking stations in the open plan show kitchen with its dim sum steamers, duck oven, tandoors and woks. Guests of the Bürgenstock hotel also take breakfast in Spices Kitchen & Terrace. There’s a huge buffet selection and you can also choose from the hot dishes menu. The chefs rustle up great omelettes, eggs benedict and other treats.
Verbena Bar & Restaurant – a healthy restaurant in Waldhotel specializing in low-sodium Mediterranean cuisine. Most of the dishes incorporate some of the 30 herbs grown in the Waldhotel’s herb garden and there’s a great wine list. The decor is light and airy, having been designed by Matteo Thun, the award-winning architect. The restaurant and large terrace have comfy seating. Tucked away to the side is their charming private dining room which seats up to 8, in the Bürgenstock’s original Simmentalerstube chalet restaurant that has been rebuilt here.
Other Dining Options – we didn’t try all the other restaurants but have heard great things about Ritzcoffier at the Palace Hotel and the Middle Eastern inspired Sharq Oriental. There’s also the chic Oak Grill near the spa and the Pool Patio next to the Hollywood Pool, Alpine Golf Restaurant, a cigar lounge and several more bars and restaurants.
The Bürgenstock Hotel has a state of the art cinema that shows films to guests of the hotel on Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Entrance for guests of the Bürgenstock Hotel is included in the room rate.
Curling & Ice Skating Rink
Open in Wintertime, the curling and ice skating rink has a great view of the mountains.
The Bürgenstock Resort has a 9 hole golf course and a driving range, with a Golf Academy and an Alpine Golf restaurant.
There are 2 indoor and 1 outdoor tennis courts, all of Davis Cup standard. The Tennis Academy offers help and advice and if you forget your tennis shoes or racket, they can be hired on site.
Rates at the Bürgenstock Hotel & Alpine Spa
Rates at the 5* superior Bürgenstock Hotel & Alpine Spa start at CHF 650 per room per night and include access to the Alpine Spa. For further information and booking, visit buergenstock.ch/en or email email@example.com. There are packages available that include arrival by boat and funicular.
Getting to Bürgenstock Resort
The closest airport to Bürgenstock Resort is Zurich, 1 hour away.
There’s a helipad in the resort and also a private airfield at Buochs, 15 minutes away.
From Switzerland, take the A2 motorway, then Stansstad or Stans-Sud exit, and follow the signs to Bürgenstock.
From Italy, take motorway exit Stans-Sud, drive towards Stansstad and follow the signs to Bürgenstock.
Parking is available at the Bürgenstock Resort.
The nearest railway station is Stansstad. From here it’s a 27 minute taxi drive to Bürgenstock Resort.
By Shuttle Boat and Funicular
Take the MS Bürgenstock boat from Lucerne to Kehrsiten
Change to the Bürgenstock Railway which takes you directly to the resort
The shuttle service departs every 1.5 hours and operates from 6 am to midnight
Things to do near Bürgenstock Resort
The hiking around Bürgenberg mountain is second to none, with over 70 hiking and biking trails. The B-Outdoors Tours & Activities Centre is located on the mezzanine level of the Bürgenstock Hotel and can help you to plan and arrange guided hikes, bike rides, canoeing or paragliding. You can also reserve e-bikes here.
Pick up the Bürgenberg Experience map from the concierge at the Bürgenstock Resort or from B-Outdoors. It shows many hikes and excursions in the area.
One of our favourite Swiss hikes starts at the Bürgenstock and takes you along the scenic Felsenweg Cliff Walk to Europe’s highest outdoor elevator. Opened in 1905, The Hammetschwand Lift takes you 152 metres high in less than 1 minute.
After enjoying a drink at the self service Bergrestaurant, you can hike down the Bürgenberg mountain past the Alpine cows with their bells jingling in the breeze. Allow several hours for the whole hike or take the lift back if pressed for time.
In the Bürgenstock Resort itself, you’ll find the Suspension stairs, a 30 metre suspended wooden stairway with great views.
Another fun excursion is to head down via the Bürgenstock Funicular. At the bottom of the hill, at Kehrsiten there’s the Bürgenstock’s private lake lido. From Kehrsiten, you can take the Burgenstock’s brand new catamaran to Lucerne. There are many great things to do in Lucerne so allow at least half a day here. The Bürgenstock Resort has two other Swiss sister properties, the Schweizerhof Hotel & Spa Bern and the Royal Savoy Hotel & Spa Lausanne which are equally luxurious.
However, if you decide simply to stay within the resort then we certainly wouldn’t blame you.
Marbella is famous for its year round sunshine, 27 kilometres of coastline, luxury boutiques and vibrant nightlife. Golf in Marbella is also extremely popular with some world class golf courses. Foodies will enjoy the traditional tapas and Michelin starred restaurants. There are so many great things to do in Marbella, Spain and we’re sharing 12 of them to inspire you to visit.
The city of Marbella is located in the province of Malaga on the famous Costa del Sol. It’s also a municipality of 117 square kilometres with a population of over 140,000 at the last census in 2012. The region has a rich cultural heritage as well as a prime position overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Marbella has several twin towns including Miami Beach, Doha, Jeddah and Punta del Este.
Things to Do in Marbella
1 – Marbella Beaches
Take your pick from over 15 beaches in and around Marbella, including Playa del Cable which is also known as Bounty Beach. Among the best beaches in Marbella are Playa de Cabopino,Playa Nagueles and Playa Real de Zaragoza. There are also several Blue Flag Marbella beaches including Playa Casablanca and El Faro. The beach clubs in Marbella are very popular, and some of the best known are Amare Beach, La Cabane and Nikki Beach. There are quite a few beach clubs in Puerto Banus including The Ocean Club and La Sala by the Sea.
2 – Marbella Old Town
The Old Town in Marbella is a charming place to visit. Known as the Casco Antiguo, Marbella Old Town has many cobbled streets with lots of colourful flowers dotted around.
Plaza de los Naranjos, otherwise known as Orange Tree Square, is the beating heart of Marbella Old Town. Here you’ll find the Town Hall and restaurants with shady terraces under the orange trees as well as a beautiful fountain.
Iglesia Nuestra Señora de la Encarnación or the Church of Our Lady of the Incarnation is one of the largest churches in Andalucia and dates from the Baroque period. With a cheery yellow and white exterior, it has frescos of the 12 apostles on the inside.
Not to be confused with this religious monument is The Encarnacion or Church of St Mary on Plaza de la Iglesia which has one of the largest organs in Spain. Marbella castle walls, or Murallas del Castillo, are also worth a look if you’re in the old town. The 9th century castle was built by the Moors and the castle walls were formerly spread over 90,000 square metres. The castle and most of the walls have since been destroyed but there are segments of wall remaining on Calle Salinas.
In the upper part of the old town, known as Barrio Alto, you’ll find colourful Plaza Santa Cristo. On one side of the square, visitors can admire Ermita del Santo Cristo de la Vera Cruz, a church dating from the 15th century with a ceramic roof.
3 – Golf in Marbella
There are so many golf courses on the Costa del Sol that it’s often jokingly referred to as the Costa del Golf. With over 70 courses in the surrounding area and 16 in Marbella, you’ll be spoilt for choice. We recommend trying a golf initiation course with Gonzalo Golf Academy at Villa Padierna. This incredible place is one of the best golf courses in the world. Whether you’re an expert or novice golfer, Gonzalo will have you improving in no time at all. He’ll film you to analyse your stance, swing and body rotation and to point out areas of improvement.
4 – Dine on Marbella Beach
Eat delicious seafood at Soleo Marbella Beach Club Restaurant, directly on the beach. With its comfy red and white striped banquette seating, Soleo was designed by renowned interiors expert Isabel López Vilalta. It’s a lovely place to enjoy the freshest seafood with charming service. If you’re unsure what to order, the waiters will recommend their personal favourites. For example, rather than a paella we tried the lobster rice in broth, which had a really succulent tomato sauce.
5 – Puerto Banus Bike Ride
Cycle along the Paseo Maritimo, also known as Marbella Golden Mile to Puerto Banus. This picturesque pathway passes along the coast, over an attractive red bridge and past sights such as this sandcastle complete with chimney. We borrowed complimentary bikes from our hotel, Fuerte Marbella and loved their stylish design. At the end of Golden Mile Marbella, you’ll arrive in Puerto Banus. Head to the harbour to admire the superyachts. Puerto Banus is a popular playground of the international jetset and there are many bars, restaurants and designer boutiques to enjoy here. You can also visit the Roman Villa built in 200 AD by a local merchant, with its impressive mosaics.
6 – Shopping in Marbella
If you want to achieve the covetable Marbella style, go shopping in Marbella Old Town or Puerto Banus. Marbella itself is great for leather sandals, belts and boho chic clothing. Snap up a few bargains in the shoe shops who buy their stylish designs directly from the manufacturers. We also love the clothes shops with their colorful kaftans and luxurious swimwear. Most of the shops in the old town are open from 10 am, close from 1-2 pm and stay open until 10 pm so there’s plenty of time to browse. If department stores are more your thing, there are a few branches of El Corte Ingles in the area. Puerto Banus is known for its designer stores such as Bottega Veneta, Gucci and La Perla.
7 – Hiking to Mirador de Juanar
In the hills above Marbella, lies the beautiful Sierra de la Nieves. Designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve since 1995, it now spreads over 300 square kilometres. As the park isn’t densely populated, it is home to a wide variety of fauna and flora. The drive up by car is very scenic, through the forest. We took a guided tour with Canyoning Malaga, who in addition to canyoning and via ferrata arrange some great hikes with local experts.
Our guide showed us many different types of pine cones and also pointed out some mountain goats. You might also spot a mongoose, deer or mouflon. Hiking boots or trainers are recommended although the path to Mirador de Juanar is quite easy and takes about 40 minutes from the car park. From the viewpoint, you can see the nearby coastline and as far as Gibraltar and Africa on a clear day.
8 – Dali Statues
Admire the 10 bronze statues by iconic Surrealist painter Salvador Dali along Avenida del Mar. The statues were cast in Verona by Bonvicini.
They represent mythological gods such as Perseus and Mercury as well as figures such as Mujer Desnuda Subiendo la Escalera, of a woman climbing onto a snail. Perhaps the most personal sculptures are those of Dali’s wife, including the second statue, Gala Gradiva and Gala Asomada a la Ventana, of Gala Looking out of the Window.
At the end of Avenida del Mar, there’s a sculpture by the artist Eduarodo Soriano entitled A la libertad de expresión. It represents two boys looking out from a window to the ocean and the idea of freedom of expression.
9 – Tapa Experience
Marbella has some of the best restaurants in Andalucia, with a total of 5 Michelin stars across 4 restaurants in 2018. Of course, tapas are a key element of Spanish gastronomy and you can enjoy a great tapa experience in and around Marbella old town. Hosted by the cheery Nancy, this food tour is a great introduction to the best tapas in Marbella. From traditional tortilla to contemporary small plates, you’ll be impressed by the quality of cuisine. Nancy will show you her favourite local haunts including a tapas bar on Marbella’s narrowest street and a pinxos restaurant serving mini skewers of food. She’ll also teach you a bit of Spanish so that you can order like a local if you wish to. Contact Nancy at firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
10 – Alameda Park
Find shade in leafy Alameda Park or Parque de Alameda, a little square with beautiful Andalucian tiled benches. The central tiled fountain, Fuente Virgen del Rocío, dates from 1792. At night, the fountain lights up in ever changing hues. By day, the square is popular with families and a popular meeting point with friends. During the Marbella Feria in June, you’ll see women dancing the Sevillanas next to the fountain.
11 – Spa in Marbella
For rest and relaxation in Marbella, head to Amare Spa. Located within the stylish Amare Hotel, it’s one of the best Marbella spas. Open to day guests, there’s a dynamic pool with massage jets, a sauna, steam room, bithermal shower, Scottish shower and relaxation area. You can also request a massage by the sea at their beach club.
The luxurious spa treatments are by renowned skincare brand Germaine de Capuccini and include signature facials and massages. We recommend the Kirei Sublime facial, which leaves your skin glowing and superbly hydrated. It’s inspired by Japanese facial massage techniques and includes gentle exfoliation to brighten your complexion. The spa is open from 10 am to 8 pm, Monday to Saturday and 11 am to 7 pm on Sundays.
12 – Pinetreeclub Restaurant
When visiting Marbella, we definitely recommend having lunch in a picturesque garden setting overlooking the beach. Pinetreeclub is popular with locals and guests of Fuerte Marbella on Calle El Fuerte.
The kitchen is open from 11 am to midnight and specializes in Andalusian cooking using local ingredients to great effect. Try the croquettes tasting dish or seabass ceviche to start, followed by a superb tuna tataki with avocado.
When to Visit Marbella
The weather in Marbella is good all year round, with average Winter temperatures of 17 degrees and temperatures above 24 degrees in July. There are quite a few festivals in Marbella so you might wish to time your visit around one of those. San Bernabe Fair is a week long festival taking place in June, with processions, dancing and food stalls.
Other Marbella festivals include Three King’s Day on 6 January, Marbella Carnival in February, Noche de San Juan on 23 June, Virgen del Carmen on 16 July and San Pedro Feria in October, with a fireworks display and the Parade of the Giant Heads.
While there isn’t an airport in Marbella itself, the closest international airport to Marbella is Málaga–Costa del Sol Airport (AGP). From here it’s an easy 45 minute drive from Malaga to Marbella.
Where to Stay in Marbella
First time visitors to Marbella might not realize that the town is quite spread out. For that reason, it’s important to choose a hotel that’s close to the main attractions. Hotel Fuerte Marbella is one of the most historic places to stay in the area. Since opening in 1957 it’s been run by the same family and that may be the reason why staff are so warm and helpful here. It has a prime position overlooking the sea and is just a few minutes walk from Marbella old town. Many of the bedrooms overlook the beautiful gardens, the swimming pools and the Mediterranean sea. They’re well equipped, with comfortable beds, air-conditioning, a safe, mini bar, your choice of pillow and complimentary Wi-Fi. The suites are extremely spacious with a comfortable seating area and a large balcony with sun lounger and a handy drying rack.
There are two swimming pools, one of which is covered and heated in Winter. You’ll also find a well equipped fitness centre with Technogym machines.
Guests have the choice of 4 lovely restaurants – Pinetreeclub for relaxed dining, El Olivo Restaurant for tasty Mediterranean cuisine, Terraza del Mar which is open in high season for snacks and cocktails, and Soleo Marbella beach club.
One of the most unusual highlights of the hotel is its museum, located in the ruins of the old fort, El Fuerte de San Luis. It showcases items from the family’s personal collection, such as antique cash registers and a vintage telephone exchange.
There are good musical performances in the evenings including flamenco dancing and Cuban singing. Fuerte Marbella can also arrange all kinds of excursions such as the hiking, golfing and tapas experiences that we thoroughly recommend.
As you can see, there are lots of fun things to do in Marbella. Whether you’re more of a beach person or a nature lover you’ll want to return again and again.
We hope you’ve found this guide to Marbella helpful. Have you ever visited Andalucia or the Costa del Sol?
Let’s raise a glass to the month of June and the warm weather that you are hopefully all now enjoying. It’s a busy month, with many great events in June to take part in and lots of interesting places to travel to. The time is right to make the most of Summer dining terraces and we have a few good ones to recommend.
Events in June
It’s a sustainable month ahead, with World Oceans Day on 8 June and World Bicycle Day on 3 June. Many countries also celebrate Father’s Day on 3 June.
World Environment Day is on 5 June and the focus this year is on beating plastic pollution. Use the hashtag #BeatPlasticPollution and play a global game of tag by choosing which type of plastic you’re ready to give up. Take a photo of you with a reusable alternative and tag 3 people encouraging them to do the same. Alternatively, there are over 1,500 events worldwide with which you can get involved.
Foodies will no doubt appreciate World Tapas Day on 21 June, with a week of celebrations beforehand. There will be festivals, food tastings and special offers in many Spanish restaurants throughout the world.
In London, the Victoria and Albert Museum will host the hotly anticipated new exhibition on Frida Kahlo. Showcasing the personal belongings of this inspirational Mexican artist, Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up opens on 16 June. We had the opportunity of dressing like Frida at the Hyatt Andaz Mayakoba in Mexico which was an amazing experience.
Copyright: Del Sol Photography
Dressing right for the warmer weather has its challenges, but our Summer style guide should give some helpful ideas. Boho chic clothing is perfect at this time of year and we love the outfits by Miss June, like the Caravan skirt featured here.
The Amalfi Coast is always a joy to visit but it’s particularly good in early Summer when the crowds are yet to arrive. You’d be surprised at how many Amalfi Coast towns there actually are, and we share some of our favourites this month. To make the most of your time there, it’s important to choose the right hotel. Two of the best are Grand Hotel La Favorita in Sorrento and Grand Hotel Convento di Amalfi, both with a unique sense of style and fantastic restaurants.
Switzerland is another country that we highly recommend visiting in June. It’s warm enough for hiking and breathing in that lovely fresh air. One of the most famous Swiss hotels is The Bürgenstock Resort Lake Lucerne. Many stars of the silverscreen like Audrey Hepburn and Sofia Loren visited in the past. The hotel has conserved its Hollywood style swimming pool and been artfully re-imagined for modern times, with a spectacular new spa and infinity pool.
Also in Switzerland, there’s another hotel with show-stopping panoramas which is appropriately named The View. Overlooking Lake Lugano, The View is an all-suite hotel with electric cars and bicycles at the disposal of guests. Part of Small Luxury Hotels, it’s a wonderful base from which to explore the region of Ticino, Switzerland.
Golf in Marbella is extremely popular thanks to the year-round good weather. Gonzalo Golf Academy is ideal if you want to improve your technique and have fun while doing so. Marbella itself is a charming coastal town and we’ll be showing you around soon.
Wining and Dining
There are a couple of exciting new openings on the London restaurant scene. Firstly, Caramel is a stylish lounge and restaurant on Brompton Road, Knightsbridge serving international food and drink until the early hours. With interiors designed by Bishop Design, it features onyx, marble and oak wood panelling. In fact they’ve just been nominated for a design award by design et al. The restaurant is part of the renowned Caramel group which has restaurants in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Muscat.
Executive Chef Sunil Vaz and team have created a signature menu for lunch and dinner, with a great range of sharing plates. At the weekend, Caramel has a lovely brunch menu with delicious Eggs Benedict, beef sliders and honey and pecorino ravioli. The Chinois chicken salad is a real treat whilst the contrasting texture of the lobster and grilled mango tacos works very well. We also really enjoyed the cocktails including the Sweet Habibi created with Bacardi Blanca infused with basil, elderflower, Maraschino and lime. There’s also an extensive wine list to choose from.
Another great new opening is that of The Little Blue Door… Many Londoners will remember The Little Yellow Door in Notting Hill, which proved so popular that there was a 3 month waiting list. This fictional flatshare hosted riotous dinner parties that were the talk of the town. Whilst The Little Yellow Door is no more, it’s been succeeded by the exciting new happening that is The Little Blue Door. Stepping inside the cosy bar and restaurant on Fulham Road, you instantly feel at ease. There’s an eclectic decor, board games and cocktails served in teacups. As for the dinner parties themselves, they have a contemporary American twist. The seafood chowder, truffle mac’n’cheese and salted peanut caramel chocolate fondant were real highlights.
Of course Summer wouldn’t be the same without al fresco dining, so don’t miss Berners Terrace at The Sanderson Hotel. Until 30 September, the luxury Fitzrovia hotel have teamed up with MARTINI Riserva Speciale and Peroni AMBRA to recreate an Italian ambiance. From the luxuriant orange trees to the exotic cocktails, you’ll feel like you are on holiday. Try the Negroni Ambra, with Peroni Ambra, Martini Riserva Speciale Rubino and Bombay Sapphire gin, with Italian snacks such as the crispy gnocchi with pesto and parmesan.
Another great London al fresco spot is The Den Terrace at St Martins Lane Hotel in Covent Garden. The terrace is a partnership with Bacardi AñejoCuatro and has a suitably tropical feel. Sip on rum-based cocktails such as the Cuatro Air Mail, with Bacardi Cuatro rum, Champagne, honey, lime and orange while admiring the fern backdrop. The terrace runs until 30 September and is also open for afternoon tea – just check out the cakes below!