Some people buy cars, I buy plane tickets and hotel rooms. I jump on every opportunity to travel because I believe it is one of the most mind-opening, life-enriching human experiences out there. It puts things into a perspective I wouldn’t otherwise have.
I’ve been incredibly lucky to travel to many parts of the world and yet I’ve only scratched the surface of all the places I want to discover. I did a lot of traveling growing up but definitely kicked it up a few notches after meeting my husband. We quickly discovered our shared love for travel and, no longer on student budgets, set out to make the very best travel moments together.
We pick places both near and far, knowing that the window of opportunity to see the world is one which will open and close several times throughout our lives as priorities and circumstances change. Six years of honeymoons later, on a mission to check off as much of our ‘pre-baby bucket list’ as possible, here are some of our best luxury travel moments.
1. Staying at Cobbler’s Cove in Barbados… twice
Cobbler’s Cove is a Relais & Chateaux hotel on the northwest coast of Barbados, which will always be very special to us. On a crazy, spur-of-the-moment night, (and clearly trying to impress one another) my husband and I booked this trip just 3 weeks into our relationship! We flew out a month later just before the Christmas holidays and, realising it was one of the best decisions we ever made, went again 3 years later to celebrate our engagement. The hotel is such a peaceful sanctuary, like being transported into a postcard-perfect paradise. My favourite Bajan activities include swimming with the magnificent sea turtles and drinking the famous rum punch. Check out my post about why Barbados is the perfect winter escape here.
2. A Ryokan stay in Hakone, Japan
Visiting Japan was a life-long dream for the both of us. I love Japan for all its quirks and contrasts. From the spotlessly clean streets and overall orderliness to the absolute madness that awaits inside the bars and entertainment venues. We visited Tokyo, Kyoto and Hakone, a rural town popular with Tokyoites wanting a break from the city. In Hakone, we stayed at a traditional Japanese inn called a ryokan, where you wear a yukata, bathe naked in hot springs, sleep on a futon and enjoy kaiseki meals served in your room by a charming hostess. It was a unique experience I will cherish forever.
3. Going to “The Beach” at Phi Phi Islands, Thailand
The Phi Phi islands were, of course, made famous by one of my favourite movies and actors, the beautiful Leonardo DiCaprio in the Beach. So yes, that’s where (and why) I wanted to go! Some of the film’s most epic scenes take place on Maya Bay on the uninhabited island Phi Phi Leh. In recent years, however, the beach has become so popular with tourists that Thailand had to close access temporarily in order to help preserve its natural environment. Here’s a photo of us on the beach, with me trying to jump while holding a can of coke.
4. Michelin dining in Turin, Italy
In my blog post 30 Things Before 30, number 1 on my list is going to a Michelin-starred restaurant and paying for it yourself. We ticked this one off in Turin, Piedmont at Del Cambio, one of the oldest restaurants in the world dating back to 1757. The restaurant has hosted some incredible names throughout its history, including Audrey Hepburn, Nietzsche, Verdi… oh and Miss Portmanteau! The food was incredible and the service impeccable. However, our Italian waiter was very serious, spoke no English, and insisted on explaining every dish to us… in Italian. So when he came over to serve a plate of “caccio,” George gave him a stern look back and, trying to refuse the dish, said “no, no, no cazzo!” You should have seen his face. After that, he was all smiles and even managed a bit of English. It still makes me laugh.
5. The Most Luxurious Estancia in Argentina
About an hour’s drive outside the capital is a little slice of heaven called La Bamba de Areco. I found this place during my Argentina trip research, where every review I read said that it was the absolute highlight of their entire trip. How can that be possible? I thought, reading review after review of people who had traveled to Buenos Aires, Mendoza and Patagonia, and yet this little place was their highlight? This I had to see. Like them, it without a doubt became the highlight of our trip too. La Bamba de Areco is one of the best hotels I’ve ever stayed in. It’s not very big or plated in gold like your typical luxury hotel. Our rooms were small and our meals served together on one big communal table. But the grounds are epic, the sunsets unbelievable, and the company, priceless.
6. Best Sushi Dinner of my Life in Honolulu, Hawaii
For the full story, you can check out my blog post, but for a quick recap, we basically booked Ginza Onodera Honolulu for our first night in Hawaii after traveling for over 30 hours from London. It sounds insane, I know, but that was the only time that was going to work and I didn’t want to miss it since it was so highly recommended by my husband’s boss’s boss. After nearly missing our reservation, we made it and I’m so glad that we did because it turned out to be the best dinner of our lives!
7. Driving the Road to Hana
It’s so important to do your research well before visiting a place, especially when you’re traveling as far as Hawaii. Driving the Road to Hana is one of the most famous things to do, but many people try to do it in a single day or spend just one night in Hana before returning. Both of those are, in my opinion, a big mistake. The best part of driving the road to Hana, guys, is frickin Hana! Hana is an incredible place. I preferred it to Wailea on the other side of Maui. We stayed 3 nights at the Travaasa Hana for half the price of the hotels in Wailea and double the magic.
8. Helicopter ride over Kauai’s Na Pali Coast
This was my first and only helicopter ride and oh my god what an experience. Taking off was such a rush as we lifted up into the air and flew along Kauai’s incredible Na Pali coastline. The pilot treated us to a Jurassic Park tour, pointing out the locations of key scenes such as the helicopter landing in the first film. We flew doors off, which means better photographs, but also higher adrenaline. Since I was sandwiched between the pilot and my husband as tightly as a boob in a mammogram, I didn’t have any fear of falling out. Even as he tilted the helicopter 90 degrees to the left and right so that we were looking straight down the waterfalls. But my husband, for that matter, discovered a fear he never knew he had. Meanwhile, as I enjoyed the views instead of sticking to my focus-on-the-horizon anti-vomit rule, I came freakishly close to spewing all over everyone. Thankfully, both my husband and I kept it together.
9. Flying First Class home on our Honeymoon
For another honeymoon first, we upgraded our return flight using British Airways rewards points to First Class. We figured that after such a luxurious honeymoon, now was not the time to drop our standards! The first class lounge in Tokyo was epic, particularly the full body massage chair! And we enjoyed the most comfortable long-haul flight back home we’ve ever had. The only downside is that BA’s first class is really not that much better than their business class, in contrast to the otherworldly first class seats on other airlines, such as Emirates, or so I hear. Click here to read my post about whether or not I thought it was worth it.
10. Staying at Wynn Palace in Macau
Just two weeks ago, we took the ferry to Macau from Hong Kong for the weekend. We chose Wynn Palace in Cotai on the recommendation of a friend and were not disappointed. This place is like the opposite of La Bamba de Areco, which is best described as real old-world luxury. Cotai, on the other hand, is pure new-world, new-money luxury. The hotel looks a lot like a luxury circus for adults. As if someone said, make me the most luxurious hotel you can possibly imagine, and all the designers got together and delivered. The hotel cost a staggering $4.2 BILLION dollars to construct. It has 1706 rooms, 12 restaurants, a 350 table casino, designer shops and a performance lake with a skycab that goes nowhere except taking customers on a little tour around the lake! The hotel also has a (very expensive) floral theme, with giant carousels made out of flowers and Jeff Koons’ $34 million Tulips sculpture. It is nothing short of incredible. Blog post coming soon! 😉
This post is part of the monthly Travel Link Up hosted by Adventures of a London Kiwi, SilverSpoon London, Follow Your Sunshine and this month’s guest host Sarah from More Than Just A Cupcake Lover. This month’s topic was, you guessed it, travel luxuries! The Link Up is open to all bloggers who would like to take part.
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