Blog by Marsha. Travel is my biggest passion, all I want to do is travel and make a difference. I value experiences over anything material. I find that travel makes me learn so much about myself and the world, it has too much to offer for us not to explore it and soak it all of its beauty! My mission is to create awareness about those things, which will make this world a better place.
I love living in the city of Gold Coast, but every now and then the country calls me. I crave space, unplugging, being amongst the tree’s and filling my lungs with fresh air..
Bangalow Guesthousea gorgeous, modernised 1900’s property with stand-alone vintage cottages, as well as suites in the heart of Bangalow, a cute little town just 10 minutes away from Byron Bay.
There are dainty little houses and all of the charm of a small village which reminded me of where I lived in Wales, London. Most of the local businesses and cafes are family run. Bangalow itself has a similar vibe to Byron, just not all of the tourists.
Bangalow Guesthouse was owned by a gentleman and his wife who had 13 kids back in 1903, the spaciousness of the property is evident as soon as you arrive. After we parked on the side of our cottage, I was sent a code via email to unlock the door. We welcomed ourselves in and had complete privacy from the moment we arrived.
We were staying in one of the three private stand alone cottages, Dr Lentaigne’s Cottage just minutes away from the main house where the fully fitted kitchen and dining room and suites are.
Our cottage was so beautiful – complete with modern and luxury furnishings, a mini-kitchen with tea and coffee, en-suite with a walk-in glass shower and gorgeous details such as dried flowers, making it be a complete countryside luxury experience.
Our afternoon was spent enjoying the vast green grounds and the swing which overlooks a stream. We drank tea on our veranda in fluffy white ropes, before heading out for nearby Indian cousine.
Bedtime was so yummy – the best bed I have slept in, in a while! There is something spesh about high thread count crisp white sheets in hotels that I love so much!
It’s quite amazing how much a change of scenery and being in nature can have an impact on your overall wellbeing.
I would highly recommend staying at Bangalow Guesthouse if you are looking for a private getaway. This location is also perfect for celebrating an occasion as the facilities can accommodate wedding parties, baby showers and birthdays!
Want to stay at Bangalow Guesthouse, suites start from $165 a night, cottages are from $225 per night.
There are a few key factors when choosing a hotel to stay especially if you are celebrating a special occasion.
Through my globe trotting experiences I have learnt a thing or two about picking the perfect accommodation regardless of the destination.
I personally favour a boutique hotel over the big chains due to their character and quirky decor. Additionally, I look for eco-friendly aspects like if they recycle, or have an organic veggie garden which they supply their breakfast ingredients from. I am also a sucker for any brand that are involved in giving back to their local communities, the environment and making a difference.
That being said, location, location, location is always key. Oh, as well as the service, oh God, I am a huge fan of impeccable customer service.
I chose to stay at The IslandHotel based on that criteria. It is situated right in the middle of Surfers Paradise. This gorgeous boutique hotel has newly renovated rooms, hosts weekly events for both visitors and locals – think Gin & Jazz evenings on a Thursday – it had to be the one!
The Island Hotel, is home to 98 stylish rooms and suites which also boasts one of the largest rooftop bars on the Gold Coast, where you see people on dates, celebrating special occasions or just having some casual after work drinks in its contagious atmosphere.
It’s always a good sign when the locals consider a place to be where they hang-out, have a couple of drinks and get some work done to the sound of soft house music and happy-hour cocktails.
I stayed in the King Suite, which is the largest and most lavish of the rooms. Situated on the top floor of the hotel, you get a bird’s eye view of Surfers where high-rises dominate the landscape, with an overview of the rooftop, pool and a peak of the ocean.
I am obsessed with the lux Scandi-decor, and how trendy yet classy it feels. The suite also possesses a monochrome walk-in shower, with a bright light around the mirror for those out of the world selfies!
Space or outside noise is not an issue, where you get your own little kitchenette to make a lovely cuppa tea – which is great for visitors who like to prepare some of their own means whilst travelling.
The service was also impeccable. The hotel was able to cater to my vegan dietary requirements at their restaurant downstairs, and even have a designated photographer on site to take those ever important Insta pics for you!
I would highly recommend this hotel as it is very reasonably priced, rooms start from $170, and suites are $209 including breakfast and wifi.
Tucked away from the venomous polluted streets of busy central Pattaya, there is an oasis behind the tall wooden doors of the Rasayana Retreat. Rasayana Retreat is a gorgeous sanctuary where holiday makers and celebrities come to reset their buttons, nourish their body whilst rejuvenating and recharging their mind, body and spirit.
Unlike other retreats I have experienced, this one is more like a spa, therefore, you don’t actually stay at the Rasayana Retreat itself, however they have a hotel on site which they have teamed up with, or alternatively you can just visit for the day, this means it can be a lot less full on and immersed. Then if you are already booked into accommodation elsewhere you can still enjoy the other things to do around it as well.
They offer full body detox programmes from 3 days to 8 day cleanses, which are mostly based around juice cleansing and getting rid of toxins in your body. The spa also has an endless list of treatments such as Traditional Thai Massage, lymphatic drainage massage, foot massages and infrared sauna therapy, as well as an Abdominal Pulse Massage ‘Chi Nei Tsang Massage’ and many more.
I was keen to finish off my two weeks in Thailand with a 3 day juice fast, as although I have done many other detox and cleanses before, I have never done a juice cleanse! After fasting the night before, I went in early in the morning where the lovely Pootie welcomed me with a graceful bow and gave me some medical questionnaires to fill out. Knowing that I was coming in that morning for a juice cleanse, Pootie explained that for the next 3 days I will be only consuming juices, which are made fresh daily and on site, and some homemade almond milk. Alongside the juices, it is part of the programme to also get daily infred saunas, followed by a lymphatic drainage massage and then a colonic hydrotherapy.
I came to Rasayana Retreat wanting to flush my eating sins away, as during my two weeks I felt I had been eating my way through Thailand. After eating things I shouldn’t really eat it had resulted in me putting on more weight, feeling pretty bloated, and groggy every morning that I woke up. I had also had a pesky rash on my face, which had been bothering me for some weeks now.
After having a brief shower, I got into my 30 minute infrared sauna therapy. I have always heard from many of my friends how effective and beneficial these saunas are, but have never experienced it myself. Just 30 minutes a day can significantly allow your body to get rid of heavy metals like mercury, and lead, as well as environmental chemicals which we pick up on a daily basis. It is also known to relax the nervous system, assist you in losing weight, with up to an impressive 600 calories shredded in a 30 minute session, relieve unwanted pain and increase your circulation.
I felt super sweaty, but really amazing after my first session where the lovely therapist Pum brought me a fresh coconut to drink, which would help hydrate me. After another brief shower, Pum led me to a relaxation room where I had the most incredible 60 minute lymphatic drainage massage. The perfect pressure really makes a difference. I didn’t experience any pain unlike some of the Thai and shoulder massages I received elsewhere in Thailand. This is to ensure the body is promoted to release more toxins and help eliminate those through the colonic hydrotherapy, which was up next.
Colonic hydrotherapy is something that I believe everyone should do once is a while, if not a couple of times a year, especially if you consume animal products, such as meat and dairy, and if you eat lots of gluten, such as breads and pasta. This therapy improves digestion especially if you are constipated.
It also helps with energy and concentration, jump starts weight loss and supports overall colon health whilst encouraging a whole body detox. I have had them done in London a few times, but this one was bit different. The process is that you have lots of water going in your back passage to get all the blockages, undigested food and crap out of your colon. But usually the water stops, and you release. This time I had to push and release, whilst I still had tube up me which was uncomfortable at first but when I got the hang of it, it was better. Poope’ my therapist, no pun intended, also added some coffee and apple cider vinegar to the water to amplify the cleansing of the liver, and then some red clove extract as well as oxygen. The colonic hydrotherapy makes you feel very clean and flushed out after, as just imagine years of build up being released, it can make you feel very relived and a little light-headed.
After receiving all those wonderful treatments on my first day I was given a warming ginger tea and a rejuvelac, which is a probiotic, made on site, to repopulate your gut with good bacteria after the colonic, which is very important.
I started to experience hunger at the end of second day, although I very much enjoyed drinking my juices, the almond milk always felt like a treat as it was more filling, and so nourishing. I made sure I spent most of my time inside my hotel room, resting and napping when I felt hungry or tired.
At the end of day three I started to think about what I was going to eat after my fast. Having experienced fasts before, I know how important it is to break your fast with something nourishing, and not too heavy due to your slowed down digestion.
I broke my fast with some avocado and lime, and I consumed warming soups, salads and fruits for the next 3 days, I kept away from grains, wheat, refined sugar and alcohol, as those are the foods which aggravate me.
I only experienced one headache, either due to the detoxing or my body craving sugar, however, this passed quickly. I generally didn’t struggle too much, and was treating myself to early nights. I woke up naturally feeling refreshed without the need for an alarm, bliss! My previous grogginess had evaporated, and my bloating had also subsided, and I did feel a lot lighter and the benefits of giving your digestion a little breather. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the facilities to weigh myself before and after, although I did find myself feeling a lot more toned after the cleanse, and my rash cleared up after a week.
Poope’, Taew and Aum were really friendly, professional and are very knowledgeable in what they do. I want to thank you for looking after me so tenderly and for assisting me in my 3 day detox.
It was the perfect way to end my holiday, and I would highly recommend to anybody who is looking to detox, refresh their bodies and minds, or kick start their weight-loss to check out Rasayana retreat and their detox programmes. They also have a branch in Bangkok.
Would you ever do a juice cleanse like this? Tell me in the comments..
With its sunny weather, interesting culture and friendly people, it’s easy to see why Thailand is one of the most popular destinations for travel. But there are things you need to be cautious of to avoid trouble while you’re on your trip. Here’s what to look out for.
Scams are impossible to avoid, no matter where you go, but you can learn how to recognise them so you don’t get conned. Here are three of the most common scams in Thailand and how to deal with them:
1. The closed hotel/attraction
Pink Pool Cafe in Bangkok
A local taxi driver will tell you your destination is closed and offer to take you to an alternative hotel or attraction, then drop you at a jewellers or clothes shop, where you’ll be hassled into buying something.
How to deal with it: Get out of the taxi and find a different one. Never accept a lift to an unknown location. Read about how I got scammed like this when I went to Thailand here – hilarious!
2. The jet ski
After you rent a jet ski on the beach, the owner will accuse you of damaging it and demand a fee. Often, any scratches on the jet ski will have been created by the owner themselves.
How to deal with it: Photograph any dents or marks before you set off, and ring the local police if the owner demands a fee. (Click here for a list of phone numbers you may need in Thailand.) If you can, avoid renting a jet ski altogether.
3. The clumsy tourist
Floating market at Pattaya
Someone will spill liquid — often mustard — on your clothes. They then steal your wallet while pretending to mop up the mess.
How to deal with it: Refuse the help of anyone who seems eager to get you cleaned up. Instead, make your way to somewhere private and deal with the spillage yourself.
4. Motorbike burns
Unicorn Cafe in Bangkok
Often known as a Thai tattoo, burns are a common injury in Thailand thanks to the popularity of motorbikes for rent. Eager tourists will use them to get around the island, only to fall off and scrape their skin across the bumpy ground, and/or come into contact with the hot exhaust pipes.
According to Travel Insurance New Zealand, 14 days of medical treatment in Thailand costs up to $50,000, so perhaps it goes without saying that insurance is essential (visit their website for more travel stats).
5. Animal cruelty
Monkey Island in Pattaya
Sadly, animal abuse is rife in Thailand, and many tourists don’t realise it happens right under their noses at tiger and elephant parks.
In order to become obedient, elephants are taken from their mothers and starved, beaten and tortured until they lose the will to live and become submissive towards humans. Trainers carry sticks with hooks at the end to reinforce this violent training. Meanwhile, tigers are drugged so humans can pose for souvenir photos without being maimed or killed.
There's A Really Dark Side To Elephant Tourism - YouTube
If you want an experience with Asian wildlife, visit a rehabilitation centre or sanctuary like the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai, where previously mistreated animals will be looked after properly. A rule of thumb is to avoid anywhere where the animal is behaving in a way it naturally, e.g. if it’s painting or standing on its hind legs. You can also check out Culture Trip’s list of ethical sanctuaries here.
I hope you found this article useful, and will bare these tips in mind when you go to Thailand.
What other scams should we be aware of? Comment below!
Recently, Miami has become an international, cultural cooking pot and the hub of Latin and North American art and gastronomy, with inspiration taken from all four corners of the world. You can find examples of this throughout the different suburbs of Miami, with their various cuisines and people.
Planning a trip to Miami? There are always great offers online for cheap flights to Miami, so be sure to keep an eye out! I bring you these seven hottest, most unmissable places in Miami, to make your journey over the big blue worthwhile. You can easily do one day at a time, as there is so much going on in each district.
The Unmissable Wynwood Art District.
Nowadays, the most photographed place in Miami, this used to be a ghetto, where you couldn’t walk around safely at night without carrying a gun. However, this neighbourhood is now where all the cool kids hang out. Artists have transformed the ghetto with street art on the walls and also the pavements. Trendy boutique retailers and eateries have also moved in to build the area up and it has become a very creative and trendy place – think Hackney in London. With its quirky art galleries, trendy juice bars, and the most Instagrammable eateries, it is the perfect destination for creative souls. You can spend all day there; eating finger-licking food, sipping cold-pressed juices or wandering around the streets, admiring the pavement art and taking endless pictures of the walls.
Highly recommended is a visit to Wynwood Walls; a free, outdoor gallery of wall art painted by various graffiti artists. Ask the locals where the most popular wall paintings are found, and they will show you, as Americans are nice like that!
Want to know the best Vegan Eateries in Miami are? You might want to read this
The Unmissable Little Havana.
This is the heart of Latin culture in Miami and a fantastic place to people-watch, soak up the incredibly rich culture, and have some authentic Cuban food. There is bound to be a lot of live music in most restaurants, with dancing and Cuban men playing dominos – it is truly another world of its own, laced with history, passionate Cubans and life.
The Unmissable Lyncoln Road, South Beach.
Situated near Ocean Drive, an area mainly full of restaurants, hotels and bars, Lyncoln Road is a pedestrianised street. It is filled with boutiques, as well as high street shops and designer stores. You can spend a whole day there, mooching around the shops and taking lots of iced coffee breaks. Lyncoln Road leads all the way down to the beach, and you will see a lot of tourists, as well as locals, having al fresco food and shopping around, before dropping their bags and going to the beach.
Highly recommended is the Sushi place at the end of Lyncoln Road called Doraku.
Unmissable Saturdays at Farmers’ Market in Coral Cables.
This is a lovely neighbourhood in the outskirts and there is a very authentic local market every Saturday, run by a lovely couple who believe in providing the best local produce, and working together with local businesses to support the planet and the community. Mostly locals come here and there is a real sense of community when you arrive at the market. Here you’ll find people selling candles, pastries, arts & crafts, sustainable clothes, skincare and lots of yummy, healthy food – you must try the Vegan Sushi!
The Unmissable Key Biscayne Island.
A short ride away from Downtown, it is a beautiful location for sunsets with the Miami skyline as a glorious backdrop. It is the perfect place to spend a day as, apart from a couple of families, the beach is quiet and dog-friendly. There is an Aqua Park nearby and the ocean is very still, so toddlers can play without their parents worrying about the rough waves often found at other beaches. Also, it is incredibly romantic at night, when the sun sets over the skyscrapers and there is hardly anyone around! Prosecco in the sunset anyone?
The Unmissable Hollywood Beach.
Located to the north of Miami, Hollywood Beach is lined with tall palm trees. This manicured, white beach is a lot less busy than South Beach. Here, you will find more local families, couples and older people hanging out, enjoying the hot balmy Miami days, if they are not at work, that is!
Tip: Rent a Harley bike and ride down to Hollywood Beach going past the affluent surrounding areas leading up to Fort Lauderdale.
The Unmissable South Beach.
The South Beach area proudly shows off its 1920s Art Deco architecture, and is full of colourful hotels and houses that ooze individuality and character. As well as being a party town, South Beach is where you can also rent city bikes, book adrenaline-packed water sports such as jet skiing and paragliding, and soak up the Miami vibe – complete with super fit women in their tiny bikinis – that everybody should experience when in town.
Top: Come to the beach at sunrise, and enjoy a beach yoga class after soaking up the gorgeous view.
As you can see, Miami is not short of things to do and experience. So, depending on your interests and how much time you have, there is something for everyone. It also comes with a guarantee that you will want to come back year after year.
Be sure to check out Dealcheckerfor best deal on flights and holiday to Miami.
This article is in collaboration with Dealchecker.
Thailand has everything you need in order to have the time of your life with your friends!
What makes Thailand the perfect destination for group holidays is not only is it rich in culture, activities and the tropical weather, but their luxury is of high-standard and very affordable, which means that you can feel like royalty without breaking the bank! #winwin
Gone are the days when you and your friends book out half of the hotel; as a group your best bet is to rent out a Thailand Mansion. They are spacious, luxurious and some cost less than a one night stay at the Conrad. Luxury Retreatsgive you an incredible array of villas to choose from, from very high-end to mid-range where you can still sleep up to 6-8 people comfortably.
Busting with some of the perks that you get in hotels such as a cooked breakfast, daily maid service and extra services including yoga sessions, masseuse and having your villa stocked with some of your favourite foods – so all bases are covered, leaving you and your friends to simply have the best time of your life.
Let me set the tone for you.
Caledon Villa, for example – perched up 100m in the hills of Ban Por, surrounded by the deep and lush secluded tropical forest just to the north bank of Koh Samui. A villa you wouldn’t mind hosting a dinner party in, or calling it your holiday home!
As soon as you walk in, you can soak up the 270 degree view where you can see the neighbouring islands of Koh Phangan and Koh Tao. The perfect backdrop as you take in the sunset which is creating a spectacular pastel show, while you enjoy a dinner that has been specially prepared for you and your guests by a private executive chef! Not too shabby ay?
Koh Samui is not short of things to do, see and explore. Depends on what floats your boat; you can do the touristy stuff, hit the clubs and bars, or do something more adventurous and adrenaline fuelled.
If you are into adventure and adrenaline, then you should check out these activities:
Go on a Jet Ski Safari – action fuelled for hours in the open ocean where you are free to do the maximum speed of your jetski, while discovering the nearby islands – now that’s my idea of fun! There is a small office in Lamai Beach that offers this activity and I would recommend getting your own jet ski and wearing plenty of sun lotion!
Channel your inner Tarzan with Canopy Adventures – Zipline through the evergreen thick forests of Koh Samui at fifty miles an hour, soaking up the most gorgeous views of the island from up above. If heights give you the sweats, then rest assured that you get to stop off at a secret waterfall between all the stations to cool off.
If hiking is your thing, and you are an adventurous bunch, then I would also recommend that you check out Waterfall 2. There is a deeper, more intense hike up to the peak if you get a local to take you, that hang around the first #average Waterfall. The views and serenity at the top are much more rewarding.
Rent a 4×4 to explore the Island. What is more #squadgoals than cruising around in the heat with the roof down on a 4×4 with your gang?! There are rentals all over Koh Samui and I would recommend going for something with a working air-con (learn from my mistakes)! The prices vary, but it is always worth haggling and taking the vehicle for a test-drive, before you go exploring the island with a gearstick that doesn’t work!
Something a little bit less thrilling than driving around in a 4×4, is a tourist attraction called the “Grandad & Granma Rocks” which resemble female and male genitalia. That calls for some creative, fun Instagram photos to be taken! Also be sure to check out the little local market that leads up to it – I recommend that you taste the triangular shaped coconut caramel sweets!
Fishermans village on a Friday – An authentic evening with lots of locals flogging all sorts of handmade arts and crafts, as well as lots of street food being cooked from fresh produce which makes for a great atmosphere to hangout. If you don’t want to try the street food, you can choose one of many restaurants they have alongside the market. We loved the sushi bar which was ran by Aussies; they offered fantastic service and food.
Chewang beach is the hub of nightlife on Koh Samui. Head down there for Ladyboys, backpackers and lots of clubs and bars playing commercial and debatable music, complimented by equally debatable characters!
If you would like some epic dining experiences, check out my blog where I eat my way round the island in the most romantic places, which are really worth a visit.
In the end, wherever you are travelling to, it is always who you are with – but it does help when you are staying at a gorgeous villa, and have some fun activities planned!
Did you find this article useful? If so, then please be sure to share this blog with your friends!
This blog was written in collaboration with Luxury Retreats.
Koh Samui has been one of the most romantic locations I have visited, with so many dreamy things to do as a couple and so much to experience. If you are looking for a holiday as a couple, Koh Samui has it all.
Located off the east coast of the Kra Isthmus, it’s the largest island after Phuket. It’s just a short train ride or flight away from Bangkok before you reach paradise on earth. Along with just chilling in your villa, sunbathing and drinking unlimited Mai Thais, this is my ultimate guide to Koh Samui as a couple who not only like the finer things in life, but also want to experience the culture and the local people.
Where to stay:
If you like me and like the finer things in life, then check out these stunning, private villas in Thailand which you can rent and have all to yourself through Luxury Retreats.
If you are on a budget, but still like your creature comforts and want your own villa, then I suggest you stay at The Saraan, which is at the far end of Chewang beach. This is where everything happens but because you are the end of it, it is very peaceful, yet you are still close to everything.
The Saraan has got great customer service, infinity pool, affordable secluded villas with your own pool and a bed overlooking it, everything is jasmine scented, and they have THE best masseuses who EVER laid their hands on me. The couples aloe vera massage is a MUST, especially when you are sizzled.
If you can splash, it would be the best money you spend when you stay The Four Seasons located on the North of the island, as it is a world of its own.
The hotel has a hillside view of the ocean, your own secluded infinity pool, bath tub overlooking the ocean, double sinks, your own personal wardrobes and THE BEST BED EVER. I am not over-exaggerating with the ‘ever’ comments here, you have to just try these this for yourself and let me know. Not only that but you are chauffeured everywhere in your own little golf cart by the friendliest little Thai man, everybody knows your name which makes you feel like royalty. Day activities include yoga, Thai boxing and an award-winning spa, all at your fingertips. Read about my full experience here.
Where to eat:
Dining on the rocks (Six Senses Hotel) – This open-air restaurant is situated on a large wooden platform on the rocks overlooking the sea, where fresh-breeze, low lighting and soft music make for an intimate and relaxed ambience, perfect for date nights. We tried the five-course set menu, which we would highly recommend as there is innovation, creativity and delicious flavours married up together to make for a gastronomic experience, for you and your lover.
KOH Thai Restaurant & Bar (Four Seasons) – A sophisticated, open air restaurant, which overlooks the island where the seats of some tables are so close to the edge, only a small water feature gives you that buffer of not dropping into the jungle! It’s exhilarating not only with their seating arrangement but also their culinary abilities providing you with the freshest, most exotic flavours, all complimented by your own wine guru, who suggests you which wines you should have with each course. Outstanding service, divine food and unforgettable memories.
Spice Zone(Muang Villas and Suites) – The Spice Zone’s chef used to work full time for the Thai Royal family, so quality is guaranteed. Set directly on the beach, with lanterns everywhere and the sound of the ocean makes for the perfect ambience to breed romance. We ordered the seafood platter, which was utterly delicious and simple, that came with complimentary wine and unlimited sides, which you can go and pick out from the buffet across your table. Simple, romantic and beautifully perfect food.
Where to watch the sunset with a cocktail:
W Hotel – The most Instagrammable bar with round pods set in the pool out of which you can watch the sunset while listening to a live DJ spinning some funky deep house tunes. The cocktail list is elaborate and so can cater to any taste bud all in a buzzing, modern hotel.
What to do.
Waterfall 2– Don’t waste your time going to Waterfall 1, and head straight for Waterfall 2. When you get there, try to look for a local guide who can take you even higher (for a tip). I had such an awesome experience, which left me so liberated, and it was totally worth the hardcore climbing. Read my full experience here.
Jet Ski Safari– THIS IS A MUST. Three hours of jet skiing, out in the open ocean, exploring small islands inhabited by tribes and a small picnic stop off. It is perfect for those whole love adrenaline. Based in Lamai beach, it is not the cheapest of activities but totally worth it, and be sure to wear lots of sunscreen!
Yoga Day in Fisherman’s Village (Yogarden)– There is an oasis tucked away in Fisherman’s Village called Yogarden, which you can either have a full-on yoga holiday or just pop in for a day to do some classes and have a healthy yogi lunch. Hatha yoga is mainly the yoga, which they practice there, which is gentle and focuses on the breathing and correlating your asanas with the breath. It’s always healthy to get a little time away from your partner, even in the most epic of holidays.
Whatever you decide to do, enjoy it to the fullest. Koh Samui is an island for romance, luxury, partying, culture and a culinary delight.
Hotel Milano Scala is the perfect place to stay for an eco-conscious and chic traveller, who appreciates art, culture, and impeccable service attending to all their creature comforts.
This lovely hotel is based in the heart of Milan, in the prestigious Brera district. It’s located a stone’s throw away from Teatro alla Scala, and the seven-storey, luxury hotel who gets its inspiration here. The influences of music, art, dance and theatre are evident as soon as you walk through the glass doors.
In 2010, the hotel was recognised with an award for being the first zero-emissions hotel in Milan. It was fascinating to learn from the newly-appointed General Manager Diego Brachetti about the ongoing eco-friendly practices, which they are pioneering. These include the system located deep below the hotel grounds, which makes the air-conditioning and water supply very efficient, although they get their drinking water from another source. They are very conscious about every aspect of running a luxury hotel and do their best to cause the least impact to the environment.
The 62 rooms are individually designed, all evoking a theatrical ambience with luxurious, red, velvet draping curtains. Prints of ballet dancers and singers on the walls set a dramatic mood with minimal light and dark wood details in the rooms. All of this adds to the drama and luxuriance of the hotel. The bathrooms are carved out of rich black and white marble, proving that eco-chic can also mean luxury and indulgence, and balanced by biodegradable toiletries to remain true to their environmentally-friendly values. Needless to say, everything was spotless and very well-maintained.
Exterior Classic Double Room
I stayed in a Classic Double room with a view of their vertical jasmine garden, and also stayed in a Classic Double room overlooking the street and where the windows let in a lot more natural light to make it feel more spacious, as the other Double room felt pretty snug. I also looked around a Junior Suite, with its own balcony offering superb, panoramic views of Milan. Although the style of rooms and the bed is very similar in all of these rooms, I would recommend the rooms with an exterior view, as they are much lighter. Guests have the choice of an ‘allergy-free’ room, which has an air purifier and special pillows, and will make your stay even more enjoyable and comfortable, even if you don’t have any allergies.
Organic Veggie Garden
One of the reasons why I was really drawn to this hotel is because it has its own bee-friendly rooftop terrace garden, where they grow their own greens and veggies! Naturally, they have more fresh produce in summer and autumn than in winter, but rest assured you will always see their garden’s harvest served up at breakfast; tomatoes, cucumbers, beans and other herbs, all homegrown and organic. Details such as this are very important to me, being vegan and obsessed with sustainable, zero-miles food.
Salad Bar @ La Traviata
This is not your standard lunch-hour: At Hotel MilanoScala guests eat lunch at their resident restaurant, La Traviata. In my case, I enjoyed a salad from the abundant salad bar, which they set out every day, with some homemade gnocchi and a massive berry platter for dessert. Lunch was accompanied by live classical music, as I washed it all down with a ginseng coffee. The live music which is played both at breakfast and lunch, is a nice touch as you feel like you are dining somewhere very swanky.
Eco-chic aperitif @ Sky Terrace
You can’t come to Italy and not experience an aperitif! At Hotel Milano Scala, it’s hosted at their open air Sky Terrace, which has a panoramic view of the city and you can just see the Duomo from there, too. Your meal comes in a wooden, recycled veggie delivery box in which every tiny dish is beautifully presented, and the bubbliest waitress/cocktail mixer Sara makes you a cocktail of your choice.
In the evenings, locals flock to this venue, as it is a gorgeous place to escape and enjoy after-work drinks and nibbles, while marvelling at the view of the city skyline and listening to the subtle background lounge music. I highly recommend you visit the Sky Terrace, even if you’re not a guest of the hotel, as it is a perfect way to spend a late afternoon.
What makes it unique
My experience was exceptional because this hotel is not only gorgeous and totally aligned with my ethos and values, but because of the people who work here.
Riva, the immaculately-presented, award-winning concierge star, is a true gem of the Scala Milano. She is the IT girl when it comes to knowing everything worth knowing about Milan. From every secret exhibition to the best time to visit a very prestigious restaurant, she has you covered on all fronts. Riva is a former precious stone dealer, and now genuinely enjoys what she does. Her passion for Milan and what it has to offer – beyond the Last Supper, shopping and the Duomo – is as obvious as her radiant smile. She only works until the early afternoon, so be sure to catch her and have a chat with her, as she’ll suggest you go and see things in Milan that you didn’t even know existed!
Riva & Sara
In my opinion, outstanding customer service goes beyond the polished, by-the-book customer service. It is the human-to-human connections you make with the people you see every day during your stay, the genuine care that people show, and the fact that they do everything to make your stay the most enjoyable not because it’s their job, but because it’s just who they are.
This goes for the lovely Alice, Riva, Diego, all the guys at reception, both Saras and as well as the calm, very tanned yet undoubtedly Italian gardener Filippo, who takes great care of the garden, as well nurturing the orchids seen all over the hotel. Their hospitality and friendship will stay with me forever.
The Hotel Milano Scala is a prime example of why I do what I do; shining a light on hotels which cause little or no harm to the planet, and reinvent what luxury means in the world we live in, while employing the best team who are as passionate as I am about sustainability, connection and living life to the fullest.
This is why I can genuinely recommend you consider Hotel Milano Scala on your next visit to Milan – I will be back for certain.