Maldives

Within moments of landing I had acclimatised to Island life, I was barefoot, relaxed and disconnected from the real world…

There are loads of resorts to choose from, it really just depends on your budget. There is only ever one resort per atoll, so you will always be guaranteed the remote island feel, but make sure you select a resort which can only be reached by sea plane, as opposed to speed boat. Resorts that are reachable by speed boat mean they’re closer to the mainland of Male, and can be noisy with all the planes flying over.

We opted for LUX* South Ari Atoll. Rates at the resort really will depend on what time of year you go for and what board you opt for.

We booked our holiday with British Airways

  • 7 nights in January, including flights, accommodation, transfers and breakfast
  • Staying in a Beach Pavilion
  • £2,300 per person

What we LOVED…

  • Warm friendly staff
  • Beautiful beach front rooms
  • The outdoor bathroom was a dream
  • Our room was kept immaculately clean throughout our stay
  • Movie night on the beach was amazing

What we didn’t love.. 

  • The food is shockingly expensive however this isn’t something exclusive to Lux, food in the Maldives is very expensive due to everything being imported, so just be aware a burger will set you back $42 before tax!
  • The service at times was a little slow and disjointed, but its hard to get annoyed when you’re surrounded by so much beauty

I would definitely go back to LUX* as overall it was a great experience, the hotel did a lot to make guests feel appreciated from the moment you land, all the staff are waiting on the dock waving and ready to get you settled in.

The rooms were lovely, the grounds were pristine, the weather was perfect, we really couldn’t have asked for more…

The weather

We stayed in January which is meant to be one of the best times of year to visit, and it was!

The temperature was about 35 degrees each day, and it didn’t rain once!

Getting there

London – Male direct aprox 12hrs

From Male Airport you will be greeted by representatives from the hotel who will escort you to the Lux Lounge. You will be offered drinks and refreshments whilst you wait for your sea plane to take you to the island. We had to wait for approx. 2 hours as our flight had been delayed, but normally the wait is around 40 mins.

 

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Christmas & NYE: Cape Town

Cape Town is the perfect holiday destination. Sunshine, cosmopolitan cafés, trendy neighbourhoods and culture, what’s not to love?

We set off from London on Christmas Eve and landed on Christmas Day.  December is a brilliant time to visit Cape Town, the city is buzzing and the weather is perfect.

We spent 9 night in Cape Town and 4 nights in Stellenbosch, but there are lots of ways to split your trip if you want to see more of the Western Cape.  You can drive the popular Garden Route or depending on what time of year you visit, you can go to Hermanus and go whale watching.

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My Top Ten Things to do in Cape Town

  1. Robben Island: buy your tickets in advance as they sell out quickly, this trip takes about half a day, so give yourself plenty of time
  2. Slave Lodge: I feel its so important for everyone to visit this museum so they can understand the painful and unique history of South Africa.
  3. Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens: we spent New Years day in the park, and enjoyed a lovely lunch at the tear rooms. There is also a  traditional african restaurant and an option to have a picnic made.
  4. Clifton 4th / Camps Bay: Both fantastic beaches, but if you’re looking for a quieter beach day pick Clifton.
  5. Lion’s Head: DO THIS HIKE! It’s challenging, but so rewarding.  It’s a 3 hour hike up and down, and it’s not for the faint hearted. I’m terrified of heights, and I didn’t realise how scary it would be! I wouldn’t recommend doing this hike without a guide as the trail isn’t clear. We used a great guide called Nathan, and it was around £50 per person bookings@hikelionshead.co.za
  6. Table Mountain: We decided not to hike this as it was around 3 hours up and 3 hours down, and seemed a tad ambitious for us! Instead we got the cable car, again book this in advance so as to avoid waiting around for hours, we pre-booked online and had breakfast at the restaurant at the top. Go on the fist car of the day if you can as it will be nice and quiet, and you can enjoy the scenery in peace.
  7. Zeitz MOCAA  a beautiful collection of african art.
  8. Boulders Beach is around an hour drive from the city, you get to see the African Penguins, and enjoy Simons Town. A small coastal town full of lots of little coffee shops and restaurants. Make sure you go for lunch at Harbour House.
  9. Stellenbosch, this is a nearby wine region, it’s around an hour drive from the centre. We stayed for 4 nights at Spier, but if you don’t have time to stay overnight, go for the day.
  10. Bo Kaap this is the former Cape Malay district, it’s full of beautiful colourful houses and great places to eat.

For more ideas of what to do in Cape Town check out www.capetown.travel 

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The Costs..

Flights: We travelled from London Gatwick with Turkish Airlines, with a short stop off in Istanbul. This is a great way of cutting down the flight cost as direct flights can be very expensive. We paid £680 per person for economy flights

Airbnb: During peak time hotels can be pricey, so we opted for Airbnb. We booked a great apartment on Beach Road, an ideal location as it was close to all the popular beaches and the V&A Waterfront.

We were a group of 4 adults staying in a 2 bedroom apartment on Beach Road, Mouille Point and paid a total £2,114.78 for 9 nights.

Transfers / Taxis: Uber is an excellent way to travel around the city as they’re really cheap and safe. Go on the Uber website to get an idea of fare estimates.

If you’re looking for a car service for the day I recommend Siskone Tours. They were extremely friendly and efficient, their rates are higher than uber, but the cars are large people carriers, so ideal for groups. The drivers are extremely knowledgeable of the the city and can even give you a tour. Email the team for rates and advice tourism@sisonketours.co.za

We found eating out to be extremely cheap which was amazing, as the exchange rate from pound to rand was preferable, but it all depends on where you’re visiting from.

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Clifton 4th
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Kloof Street
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Kirstenbosch national botanical garden
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Boulders Beach

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Zeitz MOCAA
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Clifton 4th
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Camps Bay

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Cape Town

We set off on Christmas Eve and landed in Cape Town on Christmas Day! This is a brilliant time to visit Cape Town, the city is buzzing and the weather is perfect.

We travelled from London Gatwick with Turkish Airlines, with a short stop off in Istanbul, this is a great way of cutting down the cost as direct flights can be very expensive.

During peak time accommodation can be pricey,  so we opted for Airbnb, and we got a great apartment on Beach Road, which was an ideal location as it was close to all the popular beaches: Clifton, Camps Bay, tourist sites and the V&A Waterfront.

My Top Ten Things to do in Cape Town

  1. Robben Island: buy your tickets in advance as they sell out quickly, this trip takes about half a day so give yourself plenty of time
  2. Slave Lodge: I feel its so important for everyone to visit this museum so they can understand the painful and unique history of Africa.
  3. Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens: we spent New Years day in the park, and enjoyed a lovely lunch at the tear rooms, they also have a traditional african restaurant and there’s an even option to have a picnic made.
  4. Clifton 4th / Camps Bay: Both fantastic beaches, but if you’re looking for a quieter beach day pick Clifton.
  5. Lion’s Head: DO THIS HIKE! It’s challenging, but so rewarding, it’s a 3 hour hike up and down, and it’s not for the faint hearted. I’m terrified of heights, and I didn’t realise how scary it would be the higher we climbed, after the first 30 mins of walking you start having to climb over the boulders and climb up ladder. I wouldn’t recommend doing this hike without a guide as the trail isn’t clear. We used a great guide called Nathan, and it was around £50 per person.
  6. Table Mountain: We decided not to hike this as it was around 3 hours up and 3 hours down, and seemed a tad ambitious for us! Instead we got the cable car, again book this in advance so as to avoid waiting around for hours, we pre-booked online and had breakfast at the restaurant at the top. Go on the fist car of the day if you can as it will be nice and quiet, and you can enjoy the scenery in peace.
  7. Zeitz MOCAA  a beautiful collection of african art.
  8. Boulders Beach is around an hour drive from the city and is a lovely way to spend an afternoon, you get to see the African Penguins, and enjoy Simons Town, which is a small coastal town full of lots of little coffee shops and restaurants, and make sure you go for lunch at Harbour House, this was one of my favourite meals of the whole trip.
  9. Stellenbosch, this is a nearby wine region, it’s around an hour drive from the centre, we stayed here for 5 nights at Spier, but if you don’t have time to stay overnight, go for the day.
  10. Bo Kaap this is the former Cape Malay district, it’s full of beautiful colourful houses and great places to eat.
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View from Robben Island
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Clifton 4th
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Bo Kaap
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Kloof Street
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Kirstenbosch national botanical garden
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Boulders Beach

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Zeitz MOCAA
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Clifton 4th
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Camps Bay

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Table Mountain

 

 

 

 

 

 

Western Cape Wine Region: Stellenbosch

Stellenbosch was the perfect end to our Cape Town holiday, we spent  4 nights at the idyllic Spier Wine Farm.  An hour and a half drive from the city, and you’ve arrived, surrounded by vineyards and organic farms.

We stayed at the beautiful Spier Farm, which is one of South Africa’s oldest Wine Farms and has been around since 1692. Much of the estate has a historic feel which dutch architecture throughout but with African Art throughout. Spier is focused on sustainability, good farming and bringing it’s guests authentic farm-to-table food. The service was friendly and personal, I look forward to returning!

The costs…

Stellenbosch hotel prices vary, we managed to get an excellent rate with American Express Travel

£1,2471 for 2 superior rooms, 4 nights, inc breakfast via

The hotel can arrange a transfer for you from Cape Town to the hotel for around £60.

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Spier

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Delaire Graff Estate

Stellenbosch

We spent the last 5 nights of our Cape Town trip in the nearby wine region of Stellenbosch. An hour and a half drive from the city, and you’ve arrived, you’re in the heart of the winelands, surrounded by vineyards and organic farms.

We stayed at the beautiful Spier, which is one of South Africa’s oldest Wine Farms and has been around since 1692. Much of the estate has a historic feel which dutch architecture throughout, but alongside that is african art reminding us of the history of the farm. Spier is focused on sustainability, good farming and bringing it’s guests authentic farm-to-table food.

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Spier

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Spier

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Delaire Graff Estate

The Datai Langkawi Rainforest Luxury

The Datai Langkawi is s a luxury 5 star resort in the middle of the rainforest; its the perfect retreat from London life.

We stayed for 10 nights in January; this was a great time of year as the weather was around 34 degrees each day.

This was my first time visiting South East Asia, and it was a great introduction.

This is by far the best resort I’ve ever stayed in, everything about it was perfect. The decor was beautiful, the food was delicious, but it’s the staff at the Datai that make it truly wonderful.

There are four restaurants to choose from, offering a variety of delicious, Thai, Malaysian and European food.

There’s plenty to do at the resort, yoga, pilates, cooking classes, sad to say I didn’t get round to doing any of those things; BUT I did manage to get myself to the spa! Make sure you do, it’s set outside, so whilst you’re having your massage you can hear the gentle hum of the rainforest.

Getting there.. it’s a long journey to Langkawi, but completely worth it!

We flew from London Heathrow to Kuala Lumpur which took a whopping 13 hours! From there it’s just a short 1 hour flight to Langkawi, and a 40 min drive to the resort.

The Costs..

The Datai Langkawi is one the best hotels on the island, if not THE best, yet we managed to get a great price with British Airways Holidays.

We paid £1,300 per person for 10 nights in January including breakfast.

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Langkawi

We stayed at the Datai Langkawi for 10 nights in January; this was a great time of year as the weather was around 34 degrees each day.

The Datai resort is a luxury 5 star resort in the middle of the rainforest; its the perfect retreat from London life.

We booked our holiday with British Airways and received a great price, £1,300 per person for 10 nights including breakfast.

This is by far the best resort I’ve ever stayed in, everything about it was perfect. The service was so personal to each guest, every morning they would greet us at breakfast by name, they would remember our drink orders.

There are four restaurants to choose from, offering a variety of delicious, Thai, Malaysian and European food.

There’s plenty to do at the resort, yoga, pilates, cooking classes, sad to say I didn’t get round to doing any of those things; BUT I did manage to get myself to the spa! Make sure you do, it’s set outside, so whilst you’re having your massage you can hear the gentle hum of the rainforest.

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