Friday Fantasy Vacation: Honfleur, France


La Ferme Saint-Siméon

Today marks the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy and the beginning of summer-long events and remembrances marking this history-altering moment. I had the pleasure of visiting Normandy and some of the famous beaches a couple of summers ago and it was a wonderful experience, though trying to reconcile the museum images of the landings with modern children eating ice cream with their toes in the water of those same beaches was moving, to say the least. The OTHER thing about Normandy though, that doesn’t always get mentioned due to its important place in history, is just how gorgeous it is. Decidedly French but with ancient and strong ties to Britain, it’s an interesting mix of French and English influences and one of the few places in France where you might feel that everyone does speak English. Oh, and crepes! Glorious, beautiful crepes and galettes washed down with cider and maybe a bit of Calvados at your hotel for a nightcap. If your hotel is La Ferme Saint-Siméon in the ridiculously charming harbor townlet of Honfleur, all the better.

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All photos courtesy of Relais & Chateau

Friday Fantasy Vacation: Casa Oh, Sintra, Portugal

Portugal has been on my list of must-visit countries since I made two short visits there while living in Spain during college. I have fond memories of very friendly people and drop dead gorgeous scenery, although I doubt the charming wooden trains are still in action. Now, this adorable small hotel in the historic town of Sintra is officially on the list. Many people visit Sintra as a day trip from Lisbon, but with all this medieval and Moorish architecture to see it only makes sense to spend a night, or two, or three. This hotel is centrally located but off the most busy street and includes breakfast. What’s even more amazing is that rates start at just about $100 per night.


All photos courtesy of Boutique Homes

Friday Fantasy Vacation: Bellevue Syrene Hotel, Sorrento


This is officially the home stretch of winter, even though most of us are still wearing our long-johns to bed at night. But what better time to fantasize about a few days (or weeks?) at a luxurious hotel in Sorrento, Italy? 

 Photos curtesy of Bellevue Syrene Hotel

Friday Fantasy Vacation: The Balmoral, Edinburgh


The expected high temp in Edinburgh, Scotland this weekend is a crisp 65 degrees, about 25 degrees cooler than what’s expected where I currently live, and maybe that’s why this destination seems so perfect to me for early Fall. Or it might be the newly opened Scotch, Balmoral’s new  bar offering the largest collection of whiskies available to the general public (read: not members of the Scotch Whisky Society, which why wouldn’t you be if you lived there?!). Both are actually perfect reasons to spend a fantasy vacation walking the old, twisty alley streets of Edinburgh, exploring the old castle and sipping some uisge beatha.

Originally opened in 1902 and, until a refurbishment in the 80’s, named The North British Hotel it was built as a railway hotel for the North British Railway and was conveniently located next to their Waverley Station. It’s recognizable clock tower has been traditionally set 2 minutes fast so that the guests could have a better chance of catching their train on time. Of course, the glory days of romantic and regular train travel are sadly ended but this glorious 5 star hotel still stands and if you’re looking for the perfect location, it’s a phenomenal place to stay.










Hotel Highlight: Rough Luxe, London

I’ve been meaning to feature this hotel for a long time and have no idea why I haven’t until now. As much as I adore the regular version of “luxe”, I really adore the philosophy behind the Rough Luxe concept, that “luxury should be an enriching personal experience and not simply the ownership or utilisation of an expensive object”. You are entreated to act as a guest in this home. You will be served delicious breakfast, but there is no restaurant and no hip club attached. Your room may be small or larger and it is highly likely that whatever wallpaper may exist there will be peeling, but the “luxury” is in the details like high quality sheets and an artist in residence. It’s a concept that seems to have grown over the last few years as most places have struggled to find a way through a new economy, and it’s one that I think resonates well beyond your vacation time. Finding bits of luxury in your normal life can seem impossible until you realize that things like time and a good bottle of wine can add that bit of luxe to an ordinary life.

Photos curtesy of Rough Luxe Hotel

Friday Fantasy Vacation: Ca Maria Adele, Venice

Ahh, Venice. And, yes, I do take every opportunity I have to quote Indiana Jones, but the real point is that Venice is an amazing place. It really shouldn’t even exist given the lack of actual land and centuries of water lapping on to stone. But luckily for us, it does. There are many gorgeous places to stay in Venice, but this hotel really grabs me. I love that it’s almost over done. The fabrics, furnishings and baroque details are just piled on and the effect is fantastic. It seems like the sort of hotel you stay at when you want to pretend you are someone else. It’s a fantasy and that’s what the best hotels do for me: make me feel like I’m living in the fantasy.


Ca Maria Adele

– for photo credits, click on photo

Hotel Highlight: Sacred House, Cappadocia, Turkey

Perhaps it’s the barrage of news lately about religious zealots, insulted prophets and intolerant fear-mongerers that is making Sacred House all the more appealing to me. A renovated 250 year old mansion once belonging to a Greek aristocrat, this boutique hotel sits amid 1000 year old cave dwellings in the magical Cappadocia, Turkey. Each of the 12 rooms are decked out in antiques, gothic lights, medieval drawings and a blend of Christian icons and Islamic art. It’s managing to do what much of the world is not lately: blend east and west into a calm and beautiful environment. If only…

Photos curtesy of Sacred House unless linked to other source.

Friday Fantasy Vacation: Color!

Happy Summer everyone! It’s officially here and that makes me want to be surrounded by sun and color. Enough with the gray, the dark, the indoors. Here’s two places, one a hotel and one a vacation rental, to welcome in the bright season.

Domina Home Zagarella, Sicily

Photos courtesy of Domina Home Zagarella

Casa dos Chicos, Sayulito, Mexico

Photos courtesy Casa dos Chicos and Welcome Beyond
Welcome Beyond – Luxury vacation rentals

Friday Fantasy Vacation: Hotel Rio Sagrado Hotel, Peru

Situated in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, this luxury hotel and spa bills itself as the perfect base for discovering the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu. While this   seems a bit like taking a limo to see the ancient ruins, I have the odd feeling that if I were in this part of Peru, I’d be more than pleased to spend a few nights here. It is built to resemble an Andean village and for all I know it does. There are activities beyond the spa of course like bird watching and hiking and the like, but Friday fantasies are based on a few simple things: beautiful surroundings, luxurious rooms, privacy and a good bar. The Hotel Rio Sagrado has all four in spades.



All photos curtesy of Orient-Express

Friday Fantasy Vacation: Sextantio Albergo Diffuso, Abruzzo

It’s hard to precisely describe what this place is. It’s a hotel, but it isn’t. There are 27 rooms and a restaurant but it’s spread out over various buildings in the tiny medieval fortress village of Santo Stefano di Sessanio. It’s rustic but luxurious and about as uniquely beautiful as it could possibly be.  Lovingly restored using local materials it’s a really one of a kind experience. See for yourself.

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