Travel Notebook

Fun Facts from the Rebecca Recommends Hotels

Firstly, I would like to take a moment to thank you for your continued support and to express how grateful I am to be part of this wonderful travel community.  There is no doubt that we are in uncharted territory and as we continue to navigate the ‘new normal’, I wanted to take this opportunity to say that my thoughts are with you and those closest to you.  

The Rebecca Recommends team takes pride in being there for you, with your clients’ future travel in mind, we are finding new ways to connect during this period of change.  We are unified by this collective happening and I am sure we will come out the other side stronger, more educated and better equipped to move forward.

If you’re anything like me, you’ll be taking this enforced moment of respite to dream about journeys around the world and when you will next have the opportunity to discover or re-discover a spectacular travel destination. 

With the world continuing to work from their home office and my gorgeous kitty cat Falcon loving all the extra attention, I thought we could offer a lighthearted piece on the lesser-known facts about our clients and their destinations.  We are optimistic that this post will while away some home office time and encourage future travel inspiration.

The Goring, London – England

Did you know:  The Goring has the only indoor/outdoor dining location in a London hotel away from the hustle, bustle and noise of a major road.

Something fun:  The Goring really looks after their V.I. (little) P’s, providing a magical Dressing Up Box. And just what does one find in the Dressing Up Box? All things English, of course. There are Harry Potter robes and wands, fairy tale princess dresses and all sorts of colorful garments for Beefeaters, royalty, British Bobbies and Guardsmen!

Must do: During any visit to London you should aim to wander through a new neighborhood and come away with a fresh point of view – one of my favourites is London’s South Bank.  Stroll from Westminster to London Bridge so you can take in some of the city’s major landmarks including the Houses of Parliament, The Globe Theatre and St Paul’s Cathedral.

Great Fosters, Egham LHR – England

Great Fosters

Did you know:  Great Fosters is purported to have been built as a Royal Hunting lodge used by Henry VIII – its 50 acre grounds are situated in what was once the heart of the Royal Windsor Forest in Surrey.

Something fun:  Located just 71 miles to Stonehenge and 22 miles to central London making this an ideal stopover for those wishing to visit both the capital and explore the English countryside.

Must do:  Visit Windsor Castle, previously known as the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha by virtue of descent from Albert, husband of Queen Victoria.  Windsor is the largest inhabited castle in the world.

Hartwell House & Spa, Buckinghamshire – England

Hartwell House and Spa

Did you know:  The history of Hartwell House actually dates back almost a thousand years to Edward the Confessor – and the house was once lived in by the exiled King of France, Louis XVIII and his court for five years from 1809.

Something fun:  If you’re a wildlife lover, Tiggywinkles – The Wildlife Hospital Trust, is a specialist hospital just 10 minutes from Hartwell House. Using every available veterinary welfare skill, they are dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating all species of British wildlife – I tempt you not to smile at their name….

Must do:  Visit Waddesdon Manor, a miniature Château de Chambord in the Aylesbury Vale and just 7 miles from Hartwell House. Waddesdon Manor is a neo-Renaissance mansion built for Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild between 1874 and 1889. Baron Ferdinand used the house to show off his invaluable collections of 18th-century French furniture, Beauvais and Gobelins tapestries, Sèvres ceramics, Savonnerie carpets and paintings by Reynolds, Gainsborough and the 17th-century Dutch masters.

The Nare Hotel, Cornwall – South West England

The Nare's Alice Rose boat

Did you know You can enjoy a little outing on ‘Alice Rose’ – the hotel’s elegant 38ft gentleman’s motor launch – perfect for exploring the Fal and Helford Rivers, both stunning areas of outstanding natural beauty.

Something fun:  Don your favorite headscarf and take the hotel’s convertible Morgan 4/4 sports car for a spin, and experience the excitement of zipping through the Cornish countryside in a classic car.

Must do:  Create your very own Cornish landscape painting with The Nare’s Artist-in-Residence.

Middlethorpe Hall & Spa, York – England

Middlethorpe Hall & Spa

Did you know:  Middlethorpe Hall is a William III country house straight from the pages of a turn of the century romance novel.

Something fun:  Don’t miss the little rascal buns at Bettys tea room – Bettys celebrated their centenary in 2019 – this world famous tea shop is a perfect refreshment stop after exploring the wonders of York and York Minster.

Must do:  There is so much history and heritage in York and the Yorkshire Region.  The remarkable walled city of York was founded by the ancient Romans and has a huge 13th-century Gothic cathedral, York Minster, with medieval stained glass and 2 functioning bell towers. Take a stroll around the City Walls and marvel at river life along the River Ouse.

Aldourie Castle, Loch Ness – Scotland

Aldourie Castle on the shores of Lochness

Did you know:  What can I say – this is your opportunity to live like a royal on the shores of Loch Ness in your very own Castle!

Something fun:  Take Lizzie (the Castle’s resident doggie) for a walk in the 500 acres of grounds that form the Aldourie Estate.

Must do:  With over 31,000 lochs dotted throughout Scotland, there’s no shortage of beauty spots for nature lovers – Aldourie is situated on the shores of Loch Ness so make sure you spend time on the lookout for the infamous ‘Nessie’.

The Torridon, Wester Ross – Scotland

Did you know:  The area surrounding The Torridon is amongst the clearest locations on earth so you can experience rich views of the Milky Way and thousands of naked eye stars. Experience the night sky in all its glory with a little stargazing excursion in the surrounding highlands.

Something fun:  Take advantage of The Torridon’s very own activities team – Torridon Outdoors. You can choose from activities such as sea kayaking, open canoeing, gorge scrambling, mountain biking, coasteering or guided walks. My favorite is an early morning kayaking adventure on Lake Torridon before the world wakes up.

Must do:  Take a scenic drive along Scotland’s very own Route 66 – the North Coast 500, which has gained global recognition. The most famous pass along the route is the Beallach Na Ba (pass of the Cattle) to Applecross.  The views are incredible, including the whole of Skye, much of Wester Ross, the Islands of Rum and the Outer Hebrides.

Adare Manor, County Limerick – Ireland

Did you knowOne of the most renowned parts of the manor is the Minstrel’s Gallery, inspired by the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles – the gallery is the second longest room in Ireland.

Something fun:  Make sure you enjoy the Gun Dog experience at Adare Manor – you will get the opportunity to see Labradors at all the varied levels of training, incorporating obedience, agility and ability to work as part of a team of trained dogs. You will also learn how to handle these wonderful dogs yourself.

Must do:  You could fill your entire stay just with the activities available at Adare Manor, from the excitement of clay pigeon shooting, archery and falconry, the total relaxation of the spa or a more energetic round of golf. Thanks to their location in the heart of the Southwest, Adare Manor makes a wonderful base for exploring this part of Ireland.

Bodysgallen Hall & Spa, Llandudno – North Wales

Did you knowWales has more castles per square mile than anywhere else in the world with a total of 641! You can visit an excellent selection on day trips from Bodysgallen Hall.

Something fun:  Welsh cheeses are so good they were once used as part of a divorce settlement – you have to try some.

Must do:  Swallow Falls at Betws-y-Coed is the most visited waterfall in Britain situated just 16 miles from Bodysgallen Hall – a perfect day out to experience life in a quaint Welsh village surrounded by rolling hills.

Giardino Ascona, Ascona – Switzerland

Did you know:  The Giardino Ascona offers casual luxury paired with outstanding hospitality, where lavender, mimosa, lemon and olive trees thrive in the garden which is the green heart of this well-established retreat. Pools, bars, lounges, daybeds and sun loungers blend in with the scenery, inviting guests to contemplate and unwind.

Something fun:  Ascona is famous for its mild climate. Take a stroll through the old town and a lake promenade that is dotted with street cafés boasting a magical ambience with Latin influences.

Must do:  From Ascona, you can take a lake boat to Stresa and the Borromean islands. Make sure to visit the gardens of Isola Madre – they are very special indeed.

Giardino Mountain, Champfèr, St Moritz – Switzerland

Giardino Mountain Switzerland

Did you know:  St. Moritz can trace its winter sports history back to the late 1800’s – it is one of the first and one of the highest resorts in Switzerland.  The mountain landscapes are breathtaking whatever the season.

Something fun:  Giardino Mountain offers an array of culinary experiences, from the two Michelin-starred Ecco St. Moritz restaurant to the Ayurveda-inspired cuisine at Hide & Seek.  Guests of the hotel can take an exclusive snow break in Giardino’s lounge at the famous El Paradiso mountain lounge which hosts a line up of well known DJs and entertainers on the mountainside.

Must do:  Switzerland’s most iconic and world-famous railway journey takes you from St. Moritz to Zermatt.  A visit to the Swiss mountains would not be complete without a day trip on the Glacier Express with windows designed so you can enjoy the surroundings with spectacular photo opportunities.  It must be time to add this to your list!

Ceylon Tea Trails, Hatton – Sri Lanka

Did you know:  To truly appreciate Tea Trails you can follow the Tea Trail from one bungalow to the next, staying a night or two at each with your luggage packed up and moved for you whilst you take a meandering path through the plantations on foot or by bicycle. You can of course stay in just one; why wouldn’t you when you have your very own butler on hand to cater to your every whimsical request.

Something fun:  Guests are invited to a hands-on experience with one of the property’s amazing chefs. Learn the basics of Sri Lankan cooking, from the range of spices and ingredients, techniques and recipes behind the magic of Sri Lankan cuisine.

Must do:  Make time for an exclusive tea tour with a resident planter, and an afternoon cream tea. Learn how to taste and appreciate the unique flavor profiles that differentiate tea varieties. Resplendent Ceylon has curated an exclusive tea connoisseur’s getaway, wherein guests will follow the entire process from leaf to cup.

Wild Coast Tented Lodge, Yala – Sri Lanka

Did you know:  Wild Coast is adjacent to the Yala National Park which is renowned for its leopard population – make time for a little bit of leopard spotting.

Something fun:  This luxury tented camp is situated where the jungle meets a pristine beach, overlooking the blue waters of the Indian Ocean. Wild Coast Lodge’s design uses arched fabric structures that allows the tents to take on the shape and colour of the rocks and boulders that lay scattered nearby, whilst a clever layout, in the shape of a leopard’s paw print, alludes to the area’s most famous resident.

Must do:  Take a sunset trip to Block Five on the rockier side of Yala and watch the animals come out to eat and drink before dark. Don’t forget – be patient, this is the only way to truly appreciate the wildlife around you.

Cape Weligama, Weligama – Sri Lanka

Did you know:  Weligama waves are world-famous, and the property offers customised programs for any keen surfer – from total beginners who want a taste of surfing to advanced surfers looking to improve their style.

Something fun:  Sip a cocktail while experiencing one of Cape Weligama’s iconic sunsets, with your feet dipped into their 60-meter crescent-shaped infinity pool that appears to flow seamlessly into the shimmering sea.

Must do:  Something for the little ones – with a selection of yummy, interactive and immersive culinary experiences for children with a local twist, tailored for various age levels. Children can enjoy making the local favorite “coconut and treacle pancakes”, or coconut and cinnamon cookies.

Dwarika’s Hotel, Kathmandu – Nepal

Did you know:  It was in the late 1950s that Dwarika Das Shrestha bought the land upon which the hotel now sits and first incorporated ancient 15th – 17th century woodwork from his collection, including a window that is today on display in the hotel’s Fusion Bar. Together with a local potter, Dwarika and his wife revived traditional terracotta designs that stem from the 15th century. 

Something fun:  Krishnarpan, the signature restaurant offers an authentic Nepali dining experience taking you on a culinary journey through the different terrains and ethnic groups of Nepal.

Must do:  Take a ten minute walk from the hotel to the UNESCO World Heritage Pashupatinath Temple, one of the most famous and sacred Hindu temple precincts along the banks of the Bagmati river.

Dwarika’s Resort, Dhulikhel – Nepal

Did you know:  The resort was inspired by the ancient Vedic and Buddhist philosophies inherent to Nepali culture and focuses on the complete wellbeing of a person.

Something fun:  Dhulikhel is famous for its sunrise and sunset views overlooking the majestic Himalayas…  you don’t have to go very far to experience spectacular vistas at Dwarika’s Resort.

Must do:  Take advantage of a private consultation with the ayurvedic doctor and naturopathy expert alongside the meditation, yoga and astrology masters to help restore personal harmony, renewal and growth.

Blanket Bay, Glenorchy – New Zealand

Did you know:  The name, Blanket Bay, recalls the events over 150 years ago when pioneer farmers from Europe sheared their sheep on the shore of a bay under rough shelters stitched together from blankets.  In 1861, a mob of sheep owned by Mr William Gilbert Rees were sheared on the shore of Lake Wakatipu. This bay was to be named Blanket Bay after blankets used to create the shed and shelters to protect Maori shearers and the wool from the elements.

Something fun:  Nothing comes close to riding horseback through Lord of the Rings country in the vast landscapes of South Island – Blanket Bay can arrange rides of any length and for any level of rider with local stables.

Must do:  A visit to New Zealand isn’t complete until you experience the thrill of a flight-seeing tour over the World Heritage Fiordland National Park and Milford Sound by helicopter.  It’s a real treat to take off from the lawns of Blanket Bay.

Curtain Bluff, Old Road – Antigua

Did you know:  You can book a stay in a ground floor Junior Suite on the Surf Beach – these suites are all beach walkouts directly into the Caribbean Sea.  Every single room and suite has a sea view – be lulled to sleep by the sounds of the waves hitting the shoreline.

Something fun:  Look out for the veteran celebrity tennis players from Wimbledon and the US Open during tennis week.

Must do:  Visit Stingray City and get up close and personal with a ‘fever’ of Stingrays – this is a spectacular experience with these magnificent creatures.