Istanbul

 

Beautiful decor, amazing facilities and a fantastic location..

I stayed at Soho House Istanbul, one the groups largest houses, it operates as hotel / spa and a private members club

We opted for a Tiny Room, which at the time was an unbeatable €80  per night.

Non-member rates for a Tiny Room range from €225 to €240

And if you’re going all out, The Playroom will cost you between €1000 to €1200 per night

What I LOVED…

  • Beautiful design
  • The Turkish breakfast was OUT OF THIS WORLD!
  • Convenient location, close to shops, restaurants, metro links
  • Guests staying at the hotel get full access to the club which is located right next door
  • The wonderful Cowshed goodies in the room
  • Hair dryer and straighteners can be found in the bathroom
  • Great TV selection, I know, I know these things shouldn’t matter, you’re on holiday, but we know they do!

What I didn’t love..

  • Although the room was very stylish, it failed on some levels to be practical and at times felt a little cluttered.
  • Lack of wardrobe space
  • No full length mirror
  • Poorly lit bathroom

…And if you have a room that backs onto the street- very noisy!

BUT this could all be remedied by getting a larger room, so I’ll bare that in mind for next time!

Cowshed Spa

We booked various treatments at Cowshed felt and found the staff to be kind, professional and the treatments were just as I would expect from any of the other Cowshed Spas.

Book the Traditional Turkish Hamman Experience; leave feeling pampered and squeaky clean!

Sorry there aren’t any pictures of the hotel and club, I had to follow the Soho House rules – no pictures!

Where to Eat

Cecconis

All my friends laugh at  me, as I’m OBSESSED with Cecconis, whichever city I’m in, I hunt it down: Miami, LA, Berlin, London and now Istanbul.

Everything about this restaurant is delicious, the food, the scenery, the Peach Capirinhas’s…

My love for Italian food has no end, even in what I can only imagine is the epicentre of Turkish Food I managed to eat at Cecconi’s twice throughout my stay!

This beautiful courtyard restaurant attracts the uber glam crowd of Istanbul, I recommend making a reservation in advance and dressing to impress.

Where to Visit

There is so much to see in this bustling city, and I’m probably guilty of spending too many hours on the roof working on my tan, and not as much time as I could of exploring!

But here are a few of the places I did get round to seeing.

  • Sultanahmet (The Blue Mosque)
  • Hagia Sophia
  • Süleymaniye (the Magnificent)
  • The Grand Bazar

Please note, during times of prayer you won’t be allowed to go inside the Mosques, but you can still walk around the outside and take in the magnificent Ottoman architecture which the city is famous for.

 

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Istanbul Soho House

 

Istanbul Soho House, beautiful decor, amazing facilities and a fantastic location..

We stayed at Soho House Istanbul, for a long weekend in July.

This is one the groups largest houses, it operates as a hotel / spa and a private members club.

The costs.. We opted for a Tiny Room, which at the time was an unbeatable €80  per night.

Non-member rates for a Tiny Room range from €225 to €240

And if you’re going all out, The Playroom will cost you between €1000 to €1200 per night

What I LOVED…

  • Beautiful design
  • The Turkish breakfast was OUT OF THIS WORLD!
  • Convenient location, close to shops, restaurants, metro links
  • Guests staying at the hotel get full access to the club which is located right next door
  • The wonderful Cowshed goodies in the room
  • Hair dryer and straighteners can be found in the bathroom
  • Great TV selection, I know, I know these things shouldn’t matter, you’re on holiday, but we know they do!

Cowshed Spa

We booked various treatments at Cowshed felt and found the staff to be kind, professional and the treatments were just as I would expect from any of the other Cowshed Spas.

Book the Traditional Turkish Hamman Experience; leave feeling pampered and squeaky clean!

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Where to Eat

Cecconis- All my friends laugh at  me, as I’m OBSESSED with Cecconis, whichever city I’m in, I hunt it down: Miami, LA, Berlin, London and now Istanbul.

Everything about this restaurant is delicious, the food, the scenery, the Peach Capirinhas’s…

My love for Italian food has no end, even in what I can only imagine is the epicentre of Turkish Food I managed to eat at Cecconi’s twice throughout my stay!

This beautiful courtyard restaurant attracts the uber glam crowd of Istanbul, I recommend making a reservation in advance and dressing to impress.

Where to Visit

There is so much to see in this bustling city, and I’m probably guilty of spending too many hours on the roof working on my tan, and not as much time as I could of exploring!

But here are a few of the places I did get round to seeing.

  • Sultanahmet (The Blue Mosque)
  • Hagia Sophia
  • Süleymaniye (the Magnificent)
  • The Grand Bazar

Please note, during times of prayer you won’t be allowed to go inside the Mosques, but you can still walk around the outside and take in the magnificent Ottoman architecture which the city is famous for.

 

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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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Island Life: 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 in the Maldives, 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. 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.

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The costs…

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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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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