Our Features Writer has your honeymoon woes covered all-year round, why not give these new experiences a try in the year ahead.
A cosy hideout in Autumn at The Bethnal & Bec, Hertfordshire
This luxury, rural, cosy retreat is located in the village of Cottered in Hertfordshire. Being beautifully designed with a touch of vintage eco- chic, this is where style meets country and a great feature is that it is Halal conscious too. The homely feel of the retreat and both of the rooms (one being Bethnal and the other Bec) have a private garden area boasting stunning countryside and English gardens views, which are tranquil and beautiful and ideal to immerse yourself in. If you are a wildlife fan you will love this place, as the collection of traditional english flowers attract the best of the bees, butterflies and birds.
We didn’t have to worry about food too much as we had use of the fully stocked kitchen, with food and drink, especially with halal food stored in the fridge making life much easier to make breakfast or lunch. We made full use of the pantry with essential stocked items. With all these items,,we hardly went hungry. Halal food is also available upon request. The en-suite bathroom was stunning, along with an added rain forest shower.
The natural and earthy feel of the bathroom was my favourite part, and the subtle touches of the little luxuries, from toiletries to the ornamental brass fittings, became one of my favourite features, especially the duck tap on the huge bath tub. There were subtle, unique and detailed touches everywhere. As the sun began to set I also set up the vinyl record player to play some soothing music, lit the fire in the garden, grabbed a glass of soda and eased into the outdoor hot-tub, and to make it even more private, there were privacy screens available too. There was plenty of modern technology to keep us entertained, with Netflix loaded TV’s. One of the best features that Bec had to offer was a flip-down cinema screen perfect to cuddle up to and enjoy a cosy evening. The retreats are adults only and are located by an extensive footpath and bridleway network so guests are able to explore the beautiful local villages, enjoy the nearby country restaurants and take in the spectacular countryside landscapes. There are also plenty of services that you can pre-order with your room, including treatments and massages. This is ideal if you want to relax and take it easy after a hectic wedding.
Winter candlelight romancing in La Lupaia, Tuscany
La Lupaia, the quintessential Tuscan hideaway and country farmhouse immersed in stunning countryside had some of the best scenery that Italy has to offer. Citrus trees, olive groves and vineyards confirm that you have arrived in Tuscan heaven.
Eleven exclusive rooms are spread out across this traditional, stone-built property. There are two standard rooms, six deluxe and three suites; all furnished in classic Tuscan style, with the utmost comfort in mind. All rooms have private external areas. At the heart of the hotel are the kitchen and dining areas – breakfast, light lunches and dinners are served outdoors in the warmer months and inside in the wintertime. Many places claim to use fresh local produce but La -Lupaia takes this ethos to the centre of their menu, using the majority of ingredients from its own allotment.
The pool area faces the town of Montefollonico, and feels like it is in a private valley. Spacious lawns surround it and the pool bar means that a cooling drink is never far from hand. The location is rural and there is ample opportunity for keen walkers, and once at the end of the track some of the most sought-after towns and villages are accessible within a short drive. Pienza, Montalcino and Montepulciano sit in the most splendid rolling countryside, and further afield Siena, Arezzo and Florence make wonderful days out: Making it the perfect combination of location, superb service and top quality; all making this a truly special location for a mini-moon.
Spring with glamour at The Shangri-La Hotel, Santa Monica
If you love the idea of celebrity, then The Hotel Shangri-La is a luxurious Art Deco boutique hotel perched on top of the oceanfront bluff of Santa Monica, overlooking the Pacific, with a rich history: Being a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, Hotel Shangri-La has been the ultimate clandestine destination for celebrities, Presidents, Royalty and the fashion glitterati. In the 1940’s it attracted actors from the Golden Age of glamour, such as Mae West, Marilyn Monroe, and Jane Wyman, the then future wife of President Ronald Reagan. Offering privacy and discretion, alongside glamour and sophistication in a timeless retreat with a modern twist, it has continued its appeal throughout the decades entertaining A-listers such as Madonna, Tom Cruise, Diane Keaton, Randy Newman (who moved his piano in to shoot a video, ‘I Love L.A’. on the rooftop bar), to Bill Clinton, Bill Murray and the Dalai Lama.
Being a 1939 landmark, this streamlined white boutique hotel is beautifully preserved with period features and is an architectural gem; one of the most recognisable buildings on Santa Monica’s Ocean Avenue. The rooms boast spectacular views of the Pacific, as well as the Santa Monica Beach and Pier; the hotel gives the impression of an opulent ocean liner, especially when on the ‘top deck’, ONYX open-air rooftop bar & lounge. Here, you can relax or escape while watching the sunset or moonrise over the Pacific. With a 24-hour concierge service, lush courtyard with elevated pool and cabanas, Spa, first-class epicurean restaurant, ONYX – a 360-degree view rooftop bar and lounge, indulgent bath products by Gilchrist & Soames, and the plushest robes by Frette, everything is carefully integrated to provide a comfortable, exuberant, yet deeply inspiring and exhilarating getaway. Gaze out at the waves or watch the world drift by from your room. Many of the 70 rooms come with Pacific Ocean vistas and exclusive terraces.
A Summertime Helicopter Safari in the British Columbia
This summer, the owners of the Siwash Lake Luxury Guesthouse will be introducing a new Rocky Mountain Helicopter Safari & Picnic. Located completely off-grid in British Columbia’s Cariboo Country, the boutique eco-retreat is part solar-powered and surrounded by 80,000 acres of pristine wilderness. Offering up an authentic glimpse into the old frontier West; historic stories of gold prospectors and cattle ranching abound here. The landscape is closely tied to the Secwepemc First Nation. You have the option to choose from a variety of immersive experiences on the new helicopter safari, including swimming in a glacier-fed lake; and what better way to savour the adventure than to land on Mount Robson (or a neighbouring peak) for a gourmet picnic?
Ruth Daly, Marketing Director at Ranch Rider, comments, “Guests will be treated to some breath-taking scenery on the helicopter safari, the journey taking them over stunning glaciers: The Rocky Mountains are only an hour’s flight east of the ranch. An incredibly personal experience, and for one night of the six-night stay, there is also the option to enjoy an ultra-private glamping experience at the Siwash Star Camp, where guests stay in a pioneer-style luxury tent. Located in the ranch’s private dark sky reserve, this new adventure is also an astro-tourism experience with extraordinary stargazing. The perfect place for your next escape, in 2020, the ranch will launch a river rafting helicopter safari. Each adventure is tailor-made and there are plenty of spots en route to explore.”
By Tahira Khan