Four nights, Nine Flights, Three Boats and Two Maldivian Paradise Islands – Part 1.

I have never been to the Maldives. I am also not a fan of flying! It was, therefore, with a mixture of trepidation and huge excitement that I departed for London Heathrow to Male earlier this year.

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The trip started well. I was bestowed with an entire row in economy to myself. Economy is not nearly so bad when you can stretch out across three full seats. It was at this point, on a blissfully empty Emirates flight with a glass of wine in hand, that I decided flying wasn’t so bad.

14 hours and a stop-over in Dubai later, paradise was within my grasp. If you have never been to the Maldives, I highly recommend booking a window seat for your flight. The view of hundreds of tadpole like island appearing beneath you as you come in to land is unforgettable.

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A short stopover in Male and the fear of flying was about to take on a new challenge – a sea plane! I found it however a thoroughly enjoyable experience. Looking out from the window, school upon school of dolphins could be seen – it was spectacular.

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The sea plane took me to Conrad Maldives Rangali Island from where I was to embark upon my first short boat transfer of the trip. A speedy 10 minutes later I had seen flying fish, a dolphin, two baby reef sharks and at last – my first paradise island. And what a beautiful gem it is.

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Mirihi Island, I had read, has only 37 villas and is a haven of peace and tranquility. Nothing could be more true. The second I arrived my bags were whisked away, a refreshing drink placed in my hand and my shoes handed over – “we will take these to your room for you, please feel welcome to remain barefoot throughout the duration of your stay” intoned a charming member of the team.

 

capture-4The moment you step onto Mirihi Island, all the travel weariness melts away. It has a comforting charm about it that immediately lulls you into a sense of deep relaxation.

I spent my first afternoon exclaiming at the beauty of the views from my over water villa, jumping straight from my deck into a myriad of fish below and snorkelling with the dive team where, amongst an abundance of fish and coral in every colour imaginable, we spotted turtles, reef sharks and peculiar sea cucumbers!

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This shot was taken by the hotel’s General Manager!

Following an indulgent nine plate tapas and wine tasting, the sound of the sea lapping against the shore is enough to lull even the lightest of sleepers into a wonderfully deep sleep.

The next day I set out on the adventure of a lifetime – a chance to swim with the majestic whale shark.

Whale sharks, though daunting in terms of size, are harmless to humans, feeding mainly on plankton and small fish and moving at the average speed of just three leisurely miles per hour.

About two hours into our blissful sailing trip we spotted the Maldives’ largest sea inhabitant and without a second thought, leaped into the deep water.

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Snorkelling alongside these gentle giants is a breath-taking and humbling experience.  They are extremely friendly and seem not to mind humans, swimming nail-bitingly close to you.

Buzzing with adrenaline we enjoyed a pleasant sail back to the hotel where a delicious feast and accompanying cocktails awaited for my second and final night at this slice of utopia, to be enjoyed before an early start and a mammoth journey the following day…

More on that to come! For now, some eye candy…

www.mirihi.com

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If you go down to Green Park today…A DUKES LONDON Gourmet Picnic

If there’s one thing I love, it’s a good picnic! So what better way to spend a hot, Indian summer’s evening in London than with a super luxurious gourmet picnic in Green Park, courtesy of our favourite DUKES LONDON, complete with our very own private butler.

Meet Fidel, our friendly DUKES butler for the evening, who came to meet us after work with a gorgeous hamper of goodies. He put together the most impressive spread you’ve seen in a matter of minutes. Here he is in action…

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…eh voila. A Feast fit for Kings!

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As the sun went down, thanks to DUKES’ super talented Executive Head Chef, Nigel Mendham, we ate to our heart’s content, with one of London’s finest green parks as our backdrop. From perfectly poached salmon with lemon mayonnaise and avocado, to Piri Piri chicken with chorizo and peppers, to Scotch eggs with honey mustard, it’s fair to say Nigel knows a thing or two about staple picnic food! For some of our 5 a day, we ate cous cous with coriander, tomato and courgette, with a delicious heritage tomato, cucumber, feta and mint salad. A picnic wouldn’t be a picnic without some British artisan cheese, bread, crackers and traditional chutney. As if that wasn’t enough, we indulged in a heavenly chocolate mousse with raspberry and rice pudding crème brûlée to satisfy our sweet tooth. If you want to see what happiness on a plate looks like…well here it is!

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If you’re looking for a fun way to see out the last few days of summer, a DUKES gourmet picnic is definitely worth booking. Hurry though, as they’ll be finishing at the end of September.

DUKES’ Traditional British Picnic is priced from £35 per person for a minimum of 2 people with butler service included; a bottle of chilled Champagne starts from £80; DUKES’s Children’s picnic is priced at £12. All picnics include one bottle of water and one soft drink.

For more information on DUKES, St James, contact 0207 491 4840 or visit www.dukeshotel.com.

A Weekend Escape to Edinburgh with Waldorf Astoria, The Caledonian

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Affectionately known by locals as ‘The Caley’, Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh – The Caledonian was just the restorative break we needed following a hectic couple of weeks. Escaping the bustling London rush, after a short flight from Heathrow, in less than hours we wandered into the lofty, calm reception of The Caledonian. Greeted by the rousing sounds of the bagpipes and a team of smiling reception staff, the iconic Scottish hotel made an impact on arrival.

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The grand hotel staircase

Following a restful night’s sleep in our plush Deluxe Room, we sauntered down to breakfast. After a sizable breakfast spread at the Brasserie, we set out to explore the sights of Edinburgh.

A historic city filled with character, every cobbled street was lined with street performers, artists, musicians and small craft markets. Thriving with a hub of activity but still managing to maintain a relaxed atmosphere, we soaked up the carefree city as we strolled past the highlights including the castle, St Giles’ Cathedral and The Royal Mile.  Refuelling at ‘The Chocolate Bar’ of Harvey Nichols, a revolving conveyor belt of chocolate delights – well worth checking out for anyone with a sweet tooth – we had lunch at Copper Bloom. A delightful underground restaurant and bar tucked away within a grand Georgian building, the botanical flowers and vintage design offered a great modern twist on the classic city.

Returning to rest our weary feet, we indulged in the beautiful Guerlain Spa of The Caledonian, enjoying a swim, steam and sauna. Selecting the ‘Radiance Facial’, after an hour of being preened and pampered with soothing Guerlain face masks, I re-joined the world feeling fresh-faced and relaxed, leaving the London weariness firmly behind.

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Ending the night with a delicious meal at Galvin Brasserie – The Caledonian’s Parisian style restaurant offering an extensive seafood and steak dishes – we ended the night feeling suitably stuffed and content. Returning to our room in a food-fuelled haze, we resolved to return to Edinburgh and The Caledonian at the next possible opportunity…

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Peacock Alley at The Caledonian

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Follow the Fash Pack this Season with The Luxury Travel Book’s Top Fashion Week Escapes

Guests can stay in style in New York, London and Paris

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(Drayton Gardens, London, Tribeca Loft, New York, Palais Royal 2, Paris)

This season, The Luxury Travel Book is offering in-the-know travellers hitting SS17 fashion shows the opportunity to stay in some of New York, London and Paris’ chicest apartments, set within the hottest postcodes in town. Whether they are in search of Parisian grandeur to rival Marie-Antoinette, an edgy New York loft or a sleek London penthouse, guests will be spoilt for choice by The Luxury Travel Book’s vast collection of exquisite properties.

New York Fashion Week – 8th – 15th September

Tribeca Loft, Tribeca

blog 2This quirky loft apartment boasts light-drenched, airy spaces, original modern artwork and all the mod-cons anyone could wish for. Tribeca, the local neighbourhood – the ‘Triangle Below Canal Street’ – was colonised by artists in the 1960s and 1970s. The area’s buzz and creativity certainly extends to the interior of this unique space, which is filled with incredible artwork from the owner’s personal collection. The expansive, open-plan interior and ‘conversation-starter’ artistic creations make it the perfect after party hangout and the numerous brunch hotspots on its doorstep give guests plenty of options for recharging batteries before hitting the shows again the following day.

Sleeps 4-6, Price from $12,250 (£9,450)* per week

Central Park View 7, Upper West Side

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Every fashionista worth her Manolos knows the Upper West Side is the new Upper East, and this cool and contemporary two-bedroom apartment with its floor-to-ceiling views of Central Park ticks all the right boxes. Edgy décor and urban touches provide an ample dose of cool while delivering all of the luxuries you would expect from The Luxury Travel Book. Whether guests want to hang out with the young and beautiful in a trendy nearby bar, catch some rays on the building’s sun terrace or sample New York’s finest Michelin-starred cuisine, the choices are endless. But with a pad so plush, guests may just wish to spend a night in.

Sleeps 4-6, Price from $4,410 (£3,424)* per week.

London Fashion Week – 16th-20th August 2016

Shepherd’s Market Penthouse, W1

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For guests seeking the ‘wow’ factor, this sprawling penthouse in the heart of Mayfair delivers just that. Located just off of Park Lane and with four bedrooms, it provides guests with an abundance of space that is so very rare in this exclusive part of town. Guests can enjoy stunning views of the city from their very own private terrace, or relax in their Jacuzzi bathtub, following a day of checking out the hottest new fashion trends. Just steps from Hyde Park and theatre land, moments from fashion week hub Brewer Street Car Park and surrounded by chic bars and restaurants, guests couldn’t be better situated to enjoy this beautiful city.

Sleeps 8, Price from £9,000 per week

Drayton Gardens, SW10

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This impressive two-bedroom apartment is situated in a grand building between the sought-after areas of Kensington and Chelsea, home to some of the London social scene’s biggest movers and shakers. The stunning pad is full of luxurious furniture and quirky decor, including four-poster beds, his and hers sinks and original artwork. Ideally-located in South West London, guests are minutes from the Kings Road, Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park and a short tube ride from fashion boutique heaven, Bond Street.

Sleeps 4, price from £1,820 per week

Paris Fashion Week – 27th September – 5th October

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Palais Royal 2, 1st Arrondissement

This opulent two-bedroom property is set directly on the gardens of the historic Palais Royal, former childhood residence of arbiter of style and king of couture Louis XIV. The apartment mirrors the grandeur of its regal neighbour, featuring velvet sofas, gilded mirrors and cushioned headboards fit for royalty. Just a short stroll from two of Paris Fashion Week’s most infamous venues, the Carousel du Louvre and the Grand Palais, guests can host a post-show Apéro in their high-ceilinged, panelled living room – which overlooks the breath-taking Palais gardens – and be the talk of the town…

Sleeps 4-6. Price from €2,870 (£2,214)* per week

Rue de Bretagne, 3rd Arrondissement

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In the heart of the hip, central Marais district, this luxurious three-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment is just a hop, skip and a jump from some of the city’s coolest bars and restaurants. Featuring roll-top baths, designer furniture and interesting works of art, this chic bolthole is proof that trendy certainly needn’t mean scruffy. And with exclusive fashion boutiques featuring up-and-coming designers on their doorstep, guests can be sure that no-one at the shows will be sporting their look.

Sleeps 6. Price from €4,375 (£3,377)* per week

*Prices in pound sterling accurate according to today’s rate.

For more information or to book visit www.theluxurytravelbook.com, call +44 (0)207 586 5342 or email info@theluxurytravelbook.com

For further images, rates and press information on Luxury Travel Book please contact Flora Beaumont flora@grifcopr.com or Laura Critoph laura@grifcopr.com on 020 7385 7090

About The Luxury Travel Book:

The Luxury Travel Book is a carefully curated collection of privately owned, new and historic properties that includes villas, city apartments and chalets, as well as rare properties including castles, windmills and former palazzos. In addition to having many of Europe and beyond’s most stylish homes on its books, The Luxury Travel Book specialises in personal service and local knowledge, helping guests ‘stay like a local’ and immerse themselves in their surroundings. www.theluxurytravelbook.com