Wake Up Here


The George Inn Barford

The answer is yes….what’s the question?

This mantra sums up our stay at the George Inn, Cotswolds. Nothing was too much trouble for the charismatic team there who gave this charming little bolthole the five star feel.

Nestled in a sleepy residential area, enveloped by sprawling splendid countryside, we navigated the scenic soaked roads with ease to our destination.

I highly recommend a pit stop at the nearby world renowned bustling Bicester Village if you can possibly factor it in to your journey. A fashion mecca, this place has everything and with amazing savings to be made, it’s a great way to spend the day before holing up in The George for the night.

After being shown to our spacious and inviting room, we started unpacking and as we went to put our personals in the bathroom, were greeted by an inviting sight.

The George has invested in Instagram dream bathrooms to give that wow factor. Beautiful Burlington suites set the scene for the ultimate in relaxation.

It was difficult to tear ourselves away from the draw of the room, as we were exhausted and ready to rejuvenate. Good thing we did though, as we had an amazing experience in the cosy luxury of the restaurant thanks to a Head chef who knew exactly how to please his clientele.

For starters, we wanted to choose a small plate from the garden menu and go a la carte for mains. We asked if this was possible and the answer was yes, no problem. This set the tone for the whole stay.

Kicking off with a South African sparkling wine – the George Inn owners’ choice as it’s their homeland – was a delicious, crisp way to start off our delectation. With mains we moved on to a wonderful 2021 French choice, Soleil Des Alpes.

I opted for sweet chicken thigh with soy, chilli & spring onion. Let me assure you, I am chicken obsessed and a tough nut to crack. This was the most tender, succulent and tasty white meat dish with tang I’ve ever had and I would have happily paid head chef Val for the recipe.

My guest Zoe opted for grilled goats cheese truffle with oatcakes and was not disappointed in the indulgent rich tasting offering.

For mains I couldn’t ignore the steak, which the chef benevolently seared well done for this carnivorous charlatan. Zoe delighted in the panko coated pork schnitzel – chips swapped out for a creamy comfort mash infused with caramelised onion – another yes moment – and declared it delectable.

Now, when you have an amazing meal, but feel full and tired, is there anything more appealing than resting for a bit then having dessert delivered to your room to enjoy in bed? That question was rhetorical – no, there is not! These guys cater for every whim and fancy.

Cue two splendidly presented deserts materialising once we had time to change into pj’s and select our movie of choice for the night.

Apple and plum crumble with custard – the epitome of comfort food for me as the rain lashed down outside, I could not have been more happy in that moment.

My partner in crime went leftfield and chose the dark chocolate sponge with Aero chocolate, honeycomb & mousse. What a fusion, aesthetically pleasing and utterly delicious.

We rolled into a state of comfortable satisfaction as we perused Freeview & Netflix before settling on something low brow before a night of deep satisfied slumber.

We had pre-selected our breakfast of choice which could be enjoyed in bed or in the restaurant. We opted for in bed because why not? When else can you enjoy this level of indulgence and not have to deal with the crumbs?

Perfectly executed and delicious to boot, we could not fault this brekkie.

Mine, the combo platter which consisted of continental, George Inn style & a poached egg with smashed avocado salsa sensation.

Zoe went mainstream full English which was perfectly prepared, followed up by extra OJ and lashings of coffee and tea.

What more could we want? Well I couldn’t resist that freestanding bath and the bubbles were calling so I fully leaned into it. The luxurious 100 acres british brand body lotion doubled up as a sumptuous bubble bath which felt as decadent as could be.

It truly was a wrench to leave and I was honestly taken aback at just how wholesome our stay was. It’s ideal for couples, friends, singles, strung out parents and literally anyone who just needs a little ‘me time’.

I’d love to re-visit for their Sunday roast, I bet it would be legendary, please do let us now if you go and enjoy your stay as much as we did.

A stay at The George Inn can be booked here

Award-winning five-star Relais & Châteaux hotel and spa, Cliveden House needs no introduction. This stunning, majestic manor house sits surrounded by perfectly manicured gardens on the edge of the river Thames and is the perfect countryside retreat to relax and reset. I was invited to their iconic spa to check out their new residency with sustainable skincare brand, Proverb and experience a signature treatment.

With a background in elite sports, nutrition and health, Proverb founders, Kirstie and Luke Sherriff are on a mission to deliver truly clean wellbeing products that work. The range includes refillable deodorant, hand sanitiser and their hero skincare which is showcased as part of their exclusive residency at Cliveden Spa. The couple have applied their passion for sustainable living and knowledge of sports wellness to create a unique spa experience that uses stretching and toning to create a workout for your skin.

From the moment I arrive at Cliveden I am wrapped in an envelope of zen. The grounds are a tranquil oasis, blooming with autumnal colours. I instantly unwind and after a warm welcome from the Proverb team, head to the spa. Set within a secluded walled garden, screened by mellow brick walls covered in scented roses, the spa includes an indoor pool, gym, sauna and steam, and a relaxing orangery-style room with views of the outdoor pool. My morning comprises of reading my book and hopping between the outdoor pool and hot tub.

Post swim I experienced the Proverb Skin Workout Facial. This 60-minute treatment is a specially devised high-performance skin workout like no other. I settle on the bed while the Ibiza beach club tunes fill the treatment room, a pleasant alternative to the usual generic whale music piped out in spa’s. My therapist starts by checking my range of movement with a few stretches and gentle neck rotations. She goes on to warm and prep the skin ready for the cardio section of this facial with a double cleanse and exfoliation using active natural and organic ingredients – proteins, antioxidants and enzymes formulated for lab proven results. We then move on to the workout which uses massage movements that mimic a HIIT class. The therapist’s expert hands dance across my face and neck delivering facial push presses and skipping movements. Ice globes and Gua Sha tools get to work on plumping my face, strengthening my muscles, and lifting my jowls. The energetic movements are invigorating yet surprisingly relaxing. As the face cardio comes to an end, I’m treated to a head massage.I sink further into the bed and notice not only do the products smell amazing they are delicate on my sensitive skin. My therapist finishes by checking on my range of movement, repeating the earlier assisted stretches.I am less stiff and flexible than I was before my treatment. My skin is left feeling soft and plump, a patch of dryness I’d noticed in the morning has also disappeared.I spend the journey home checking out my post-facial glow in the car mirror. I can confirm that this exclusive spa residency is going to be a HIIT.

The Proverb spa offering at Cliveden House will include a Spa Day Package and three Skin Workout Facials. Proverb Spa Days are available Monday – Wednesday from £330pp. Proverb Skin Workout Facials are available Monday – Thursday from £100pp and Friday – Sunday £120pp.

Nestled away within West Gloucestershire’s Forest of Dean is the beautiful and petit village of Clearwell. A couple of pubs, a couple of hotels, a cave, and a castle fill up the things-to-do-list but what a to-do list it is.

The most mental fact about Clearwell is that in the 70s the castle was used as a recording studio and hosted bands including Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Whitesnake, and the mighty Queen!

So, we were in great company when we booked ourselves into one of the two hotels for a couple of nights of absolute bliss.

The Tudor Farmhouse is magical, really magical. Once you’re in, you’re transported away to a holiday island of calm and relaxation.

This award-winning boutique hotel is a former working farm that dates as far back as the 13th Century. The site has been transformed into luxury rooms and suites, as well as a stunning restaurant and patio area, gardens, and chicken coop (where old battery chickens come to live out their luxury retirement!).

We stayed in the suite called The Cottage. It’s basically the same size as my house (I have a fairly small house but still!). the Cottage seems to be every staff members favourite and I can see why.

Old oak beams, a cosy fireplace, and sublime textures throughout, The Cottage is a home from home with class. The bedroom features a huge skylight above the bed, a monsoon shower, and a roll top bath. Small details like the old telephones, traditional radio, and giant fans also add to the list of ticks.

So, when you’re not laying around in your fluffy white dressing gown, drinking a Nespresso, and enjoying the peace what else is there to do at Tudor Farmhouse?

We indulged in an Afternoon tea on the patio. Surrounded by beautiful gigantic greenery (The South really is a different climate!) tables are organised so as not to encroach on each other and offer a level of indescribable privacy considering the small size of the place overall.

At dinner we enjoyed an al fresco feast with wine and blankets.

Tudor Farmhouse’s kitchen uses as much quality, locally sourced ingredients as possible from suppliers within a twenty-mile radius. With elements coming in from Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, and Monmouthshire.

The menu glows with seasonality, naming where every ingredient has come from.

The result is striking. With every mouthful you really can taste the freshness of each ingredient used.

The truth is, life after our stay at Tudor Farmhouse may never be the same again. The calmness of the space, the cheeriness of the friendly staff, and the remarkable refurbishment that this once probably chaotic working farmhouse was revitalising.

Book your stay now at

Nestled away in the Cotswolds countryside, a mere 5 minutes from the M5 sits the majestic Stonehouse Court Hotel.  A 17th Century Manor house steeped in history at every turn and overlooking the Stroud Valley this is one of those hotels that hits the mark in such a way, you don’t want to leave and I’m not just staying that. We planned our trip around visiting friends in nearby Stroud. We had an itinerary of drinks, dinner and a walk around the grounds at Stonehouse and then on to meet them. However, when it came time to leave both my partner and I pouted at the thought of being expelled into the real world. I didn’t care that I hadn’t seen said friends in a year – I wanted to drink red wine in the paneled bar before languishing in the in room roll top bath and then falling into a deep slumber in the biggest bed you ever did see. Alas, apparently it is rude to bail on your friends that have been looking forward to seeing you for a month and so, the boyf and I agreed on a time where we had stayed just long enough to be deemed appropriate so we could get back to base and make the most of that tub!

Within the hotel are 36 bedrooms, nine of which sit in the original manor house – these are the suckers you want for the full Lord and Lady of the Manor experience. The additional rooms are housed in more modern extensions. We stayed in the Master Suite complete with a super king size bed, roll top bath, walk in shower with views over the valley and all the players you like to see – fluffy robes, coffee machine, mini bar etc.  Allegedly Queen Elizabeth I stayed in the very room – hey, if it’s good enough for Liz, it’s good enough for me. The views from this room were quite simply breathtaking, original windows sunken into the stone opening out to offer a vista of rolling hills, lush green fields and huge skies – I honestly just wanted to sip my champagne and gaze at what could be a Bob Ross painting until the sun went down but our in room checks wait for no one.

Once checked in, bed jumped on, sheet thread count checked and mince around the room in a robe complete we decided we should make the most of the last few hours of summer sun and take an amble through the gardens. As we bimbled down the gravel path, through the red brick walls, under the bowing trees we found ourselves on the Stroudwater Navigation canal complete with everything you would hope to see on a balmy summer night in the Cotswolds – weeping willow, a family of swans – goslings all flapping legs and fluffy feathers, someone off in the distance shouting at their Labrador to heel. It was idyllic, the perfect place to walk or sit and watch the world go by.

Returning to the grounds through the very Secret Garden-esque arched pathway, we made our way to the restaurant. Full disclosure, the dining room, in my opinion, does not stand up to the quality of the rooms – think table runners, striped carpets and glassware that could bounce. However, I do accept that I have exceptionally high standards when it comes to all things tableware and restaurant interiors. Our meal was good. We opted for twice baked parmesan and truffle souffle and a scotch egg to start and sirloin steak and lamb breast dish for mains. The souffle alluded that it may have seen a dash of truffle oil during some part of its birth but alas, it was missing the shavings of fresh truffle I was hoping for. The scotch egg hit the spot as any scotch egg should, jammy yolk, crispy breadcrumbs etc. My steak was cooked to perfection and served with proper chips and a vat of thick, rich Bernaise.  The FOH team are fantastic – friendly without being overbearing, knowledgeable about both the menu and wine list and happy to help in any way possible. They deserve a special shout out.

After dinner we headed out to meet our friends. Nearby Stroud is only a ten minute drive and is a bustling town full of artists and creatives. If you are staying at Stonehouse Court and want to explore a little more than the hotel grounds, I would highly recommend a day or night bumbling around. With its vast array of cafes, pubs and independent shops there is something to do at any time of the day and its music scene is fantastic so be sure to check out what is on when you are in town.

Sated on red wine, red meat and good conversation we headed back to our base, picking up another bottle of red from the bar on the way, this is what I had been waiting for. The bath to end all baths – deep enough to lose yourself in, full of bubbles, glass of red in hand and log burner burning (yes I know it was a balmy summer night but I wanted the full experience). I can never quite place my finger on what makes a tub in a bedroom such a decadent experience compared to a tub in a bathroom, maybe the absence of the toilet and the promise of what is to come and with that a jolly good sleep et al was had.

Our stay was completed by a full English being delivered to our door to help with any hangovers that may or may not have made themselves known. If a bath at the end of the bed doesn’t scream “I’m a princess and I love it” then chowing down on crispy bacon, fresh orange juice and strong coffee is crisp white sheets most definitely does.

Stonehouse Court offers decadence and convenience for those looking to explore the Cotswolds or break up a grey M5 journey with a spot of luxury. The room prices certainly dictate the level of frill you get and whilst the food offering isn’t exceptional it is very acceptable. The traditional manor house, sitting within the rolling hills is quintessentially British and certainly ticks the boxes of those looking for the Jilly Cooper country escape and because of that, it’s a yes from me.

Find out more about Stonehouse Court here.

Whether you are seeking adrenaline-boosting activities or relaxing on a stretch of white sand that nuzzles crystal-clear turquoise lagoons, this gorgeous island in the Indian Ocean ticks all the right boxes and more…

At first glance, you might think you have stepped into some kind of dream, a film set or an enticing Instagram post. But this place is very real and does a pretty stellar job of cranking up the dreaminess levels and spiriting you away on a paradisiacal retreat.

Writer Mark Twain was rumoured to have declared Mauritius as ‘heaven on Earth’ – and it’s easy to see why.

Mauritius is blessed with majestic mountains, lush forests, stunning national parks and spectacular waterfalls, which all go a long way to entice visitors to where it sits in the Indian Ocean.

Put quite simply, Mauritius is a feast for the senses – in particular, from a visual perspective. Gaze in wonder at the rushing waterfalls, mountainous vistas, as well as tropical forests like the mystical Black River Gorges National Park.

But if you’re yearning for more than a gorgeous view while sipping a cocktail, then you’re in luck – Mauritius is much more than just a pretty face.

An intriguing archipelago surrounds Mauritius and one of the best ways to explore this collection of islands and islets is via an organised tour by boat or catamaran. One Love Tours will whisk you away on an unforgettable island adventure, where you can explore the turquoise crystal waters of the Indian Ocean.

Sit back, and relax with a cooling drink as you experience the pure exhilaration of a thrill-a-minute ride on a speedboat. Each tour can take several hours and there are several stopping-off points along the way where you can snorkel, swim and explore.

Step off the boat into the waters and climb up to see Île aux Fouquets, also known as the lighthouse island by the locals, which is located in the bay of Grand Port, southeast of Mauritius. Despite falling into disrepair, this rocky island remains very popular with both locals and tourists and is one of the highlights of these curated tours.

For me, an absolute standout moment was seeing a pod of dolphins that suddenly appeared out of nowhere as the colour of the water transformed from shades of turquoise blue to more of a greenish hue whilst on our way to see the spectacular waterfall at the Grand River South East.

One of the island’s highlights is Île aux Cerfs, which has plenty of restaurants, shops and even a golf course! After a delicious meal, why not relax on the sandy beach, which nestles the turquoise coral-reef lagoon?

For those who hanker after some land-based action, the La Vallée Des Couleurs Nature Park – close to the village of Chamouny – is not only home to some pretty stunning flora and fauna, but is also a great place to enjoy some fun activities that have been designed in tune with nature. Try hiking, quad biking, or zip lining across the world’s third longest zip line, where you can enjoy a birds-eye view of waterfalls, canyons and valleys below.

You can also visit the geological wonder 23-coloured earth palette, which is spread over 450 acres of land. If you want to amp your coloured-sand game even further, head over to Chamarel to see the Seven Coloured Earths where you can find sand dunes in seven different colour ways.

Our tip – plan a trip to see it at sunrise to really see the colours in all their glory.

If happen to up at sunrise, we are sure you will be feeling peckish and if you are looking for a great place for a flavoursome breakfast – that is also totally instagrammable – head over to the Casela Nature park where you can eat with giraffes.

You also have the opportunity to feed these curious and gentle creatures! Be prepared to see a strutting peacock or two as well, as they catwalk across the viewing deck. Afterwards, if you feel the need to walk off your breakfast, why not do so with some big cats?

Along with the larger members of the animal kingdom, Casela is also home to smaller creatures like monkeys, giant tortoises and over 1,500 birds.

Mauritius is renowned for its wildlife which includes the fruit bat (also known as the Mauritian flying fox), geckos and lizards, colourful tropical fish, and, of course, the Aldabra giant tortoises. It was previously the former home of the dodo, undoubtedly the best-known extinct species, but this flightless bird was last seen in 1662

The Pamplemousses Botanical Gardens is an excellent place to learn about rare and endangered species, as well as being an incredible setting to capture some epic shots for Instagram. Prepare to get snap-happy at some of the attractions you can see throughout Mauritius, from the dormant crater Trou aux Cerfs to The Sacred Lake of Mauritius, also known as the Grand Bassin.

Here you will find a parade of Hindu goddesses and gods, from the majestic Lord Shiva to Saraswati – the goddess of music. It makes for quite the spectacle and visitors are able to light a candle and wash their feet in the lake, which, according to local folklore, is meant to encourage fertility.

You can also pay your respects to the larger-than-life statues of Hindu gods Shiva and Durga Maa at the entrance of this sacred site. Shiva is the highest-known statue in Mauritius – standing at 108 feet tall, she is absolutely awe-inspiring.

The Citadel perches above the city on top of Petite Montagne Hill, or to give it its formal name, Fort Adelaide – a famous spot for impressive views of the Capital.

The Fort itself is an impressive sight and provides a 360-degree view of Port Louis from Champ de Mars to Chinatown, which, despite being fairly traditional, has seen a degree of rejuvenation thanks to a group of young people who formed the New Chinatown Foundation in an attempt to bring some identity and vibrancy to the district.

Mauritius is world-renowned for its tea plantations, sugarcane production and, of course, rum distilleries. From the Bois Chéri tea plantation to the Chamarel Restaurant and Rum Distillery, where you can try all manner of rums as well as touring the distillery itself.

Want to shop until you drop? There are ample opportunities all over the island thanks to a wide selection of malls including the cavernous Bagatelle Mall but for a more traditional Mauritian shopping experience, head to the capital of Port Louis and meander around the bustling Central Market where you can let your senses be tantalised with herbs, spices, exotic fruits and more.

Considering where to stay in Mauritius is really easy when you see resorts like the five-star luxury resort Maradiva Villas. This stunning resort offers a pretty unique experience – every one of the 65 villas has a private infinity pool and an outdoor garden shower.

If you prefer your bathing experience to be more communal, then there is a gorgeous communal infinity pool, which has views of the dramatic Le Morne Brabant and is surrounded by swaying palms.

Maradiva also has private access to the gorgeous Tamarin Bay beach, which is made up of reef-sheltered waters and white coral sand. There are plenty of opportunities to soak in Mauritius’ cultural influences, from relaxing holistic spa treatments, including revitalising Ayurvedic massage, to witnessing the dazzling dance of Sega, an intoxicating traditional dance that originated in Africa and is regularly performed around the island.

Foodies will relish in the fine Indian cuisine at Cilantro and the sizzling dishes served at Teppan, an authentic Japanese restaurant, although you can taste traditional Mauritian cuisine which is a fusion of Chinese, European and Indian cuisines at Coast2Coast or via the in-villa dining.

For a slightly more cost-effective stay, Maradiva’s sister hotel, the Sands Suite Resort & Spa where you can enjoy ocean views from your balcony is a superb choice and has a great choice of water sports activities to choose from.

Perhaps travelling on one of the UK’s hottest days wasn’t the best idea to begin with, but travel does not wait for the weather, especially in the UK.

I was staying at one of London’s best-rated hotels, the Lime Tree Hotel in Belgravia. Established in London’s most elegant of neighbourhoods, you’ll find this lovely “bolt hole”, which has been ranked as one of the Sunday Time’s Best Places to Stay in 2021.

The Lime Tree Hotel is quaint and charming in many ways; with a decorative personality throughout, it offers rooms of all sizes from singles, doubles and even triples. This makes it a hot spot for anyone looking for a group weekend away, a sightseeing couple’s trip or a solo adventure, the latter being me.

For the centre of London, the rooms are reasonably priced and great for almost any budget, starting from around £125 for a single room and reaching up to £340 for a triple room.

Divided by three makes it nearly as cheap as staying in the North!

My evening was spent in a cosy double room, which was on the “snugger” side, but the room was still beautifully presented and comfortable for the most part. Unfortunately, the only let-down was a technicality that was overlooked during my stay.

As mentioned, I stayed during the height of the hottest day, and the hotel heating seemed to remain in full swing. This led to me having a far from comfortable night’s sleep and requesting ice and water at 4 am– which no one wants to do.

Thankfully, the hotel staff were brilliant and more than accommodating, for which I couldn’t thank them enough. The heating note was taken on board and was addressed helpfully.

The following day I relieved my slightly disrupted evening with a gorgeous breakfast in the hotel’s restaurant, The Buttery. The theme is rustic chic with country vibes, and the food delivers just that.

I delved into a delicious plate of Stracciatella on toast, and while my sleep cycle may have been left unsatisfied, my stomach left fully satisfied.

The testament to any excellent hospitality venue is how they respond when things go wrong, not just when things go right. And I must say, the staff at The Lime Tree Hotel were beyond helpful and did all they could to ensure I had a great stay.

And all in all, I did, and I will be returning soon.

For a centrally located boutique hotel, The Lime Tree Hotel is marvellous value for money and offers charm and style all wrapped up in one neat package.

It’s easy to understand why this one has become a travel favourite to so many passing through London!

Doubles start from £170. For more information or to book please click here.

This quintessentially British retreat in the heart of South Kensington is everything your desires could wish for when visiting the big smoke!

The Adria is an established hotel that goes beyond boutique, primed in a 19th-century townhouse offering the nostalgic feel of a member’s club. Its five-star charm takes you away from the bustle of the city and escorts you to a place of complete enjoyment.

For the sake of a night’s stay, I made every reservation to soak in as much of The Adria as possible, finding myself tapping away at my laptop well after service had finished.

The world completely melts away in this hotel – ideal for anyone travelling for business who may have spent their day running between the tube and meetings and desperately needs to catch up on emails.

The service is exemplary, with no need going unmet even if you are in a deep work trance and forget to order coffee – they’ll be on hand to ensure you’re topped up.

Breakfast is a full A La Carte menu, with all the best of British favourites complemented by continental necessities. Enjoy in the restaurant or the comfort of bed with the morning news; you can do whatever suits your schedule best. For me, breakfast was the highlight of the stay and where I spent most of my working time.

I was more than welcome to spend my time however I so pleased, and it was wonderful.

Later you can treat yourself to a traditional English afternoon tea beside the open fire in the Polo Longue – an excellent spot for a business rendezvous or a catch-up with an old friend.

Depending on where your evening takes you, if you don’t fancy travelling far, you can shimmy on down to The Adria’s cocktail bar, where you’ll be dazzled by their signature mix and any tipple that may take your fancy.

For those looking to explore London to its fullest, The Adria is a prime choice. Located just a short walk from the natural history museum, you can spend an entire afternoon consuming the world’s many historical wonders. Or perhaps you’re on the hunt for a bit of indulgence? The Adria is but a stone’s throw from the shopping haven and likely the world’s most famous department store, Harrods.

And if it’s evening entertainment you’re looking for, you’ll find the Royal Albert Hall not too far away. Soak up some culture and settle in for a grand night’s sleep after at your home away from home.

With 24 suites and rooms to choose from, you’ll find one that fits you just right. The single rooms are a perfect pit-stop for businesspeople, the superior rooms immaculate for that romantic getaway.

If you fancy something a little roomier, you can indulge in a junior or signature suite that offers separate dining, living, and sleeping areas along with waterfall showers and fireplaces.

A perfectly cosy retreat for whatever mood.

This is a stay you don’t want to miss out on.

Introducing you to the M.Ou.Co. hotel in Porto.

When I say Porto’s nightlife is eclectic, I really do mean it. The bars in Porto can be found in the most random of places from former churches to courthouses.

If you are looking for a great night out in Porto, you won’t be disappointed. However, nocturnal shenanigans aside, there’s a whole lot more to Porto than meets the eye, but as House of Coco’s Music Editor, one of the main things I look for in a city break is what gigs are on whilst I am in town.

There’s just something about going to a gig in a different country isn’t there?! So, when I had the opportunity to visit Portugal’s second largest city, the first thing i looked at was what bands were in town during my visit.

As luck would have it, there were a few gigs on – Simple Minds and James. Both of which were absolutely incredible.

It was clear that this trip was going to be heavily music-focused and a large part of that was where I stayed, at the music-themed hotel M.Ou.Co. in the hip neighbourhood of Bonfim.

This quirky district is a twenty minute walk from the centre of Porto and is chock-full of coffee shops, little bars and the odd vintage boutique or two. Despite being a relatively busy district, it’s a peaceful escape from the city. There’s a sun-drenched courtyard where you can relax or enjoy a drink or two and there’s even has a swimming pool which is a lovely addition.

If there was ever an ideal hotel for a Music Editor to stay, it’s M.Ou.Co. whose ethos is “Stay. Listen. Play.”. Even the name M.Ou.Co. – M=música; Ou=outras; Co=coisas (Music and Other things…) emphasises how music is EVERYTHING at this hip hideaway.

Fancy channeling your inner Sheeran, Swift or Styles? Why not try one of the musical instruments available to play in your room and rock out? We hired the most beautiful Ibanez guitar that played like an absolute dream! What other hotels can lay claim to having their very own guitar menu?!

There are also rehearsal rooms where you can rock out and a treatment centre where musicians can enjoy specialist treatments. M.Ou.Co has devised a collection of unique ‘Music and Health’ programmes where musicians can visit the performance clinic and have a specialist assess and advise how to integrate health into instrumentalist training.

The night prior to our arrival, the hotel hosted indie rockers James who used this space as a warm up gig prior to their electric gig at the Super Bock Arena in Porto which was one of two gigs we attended whilst staying in Porto. On Saturday nights, they even have a DJ on hand to get the party started.

It’s fair to say that music is at the heart of everything at M.Ou.Co.- you can even pick five vinyls to listen to in your room too. Whilst there’s some eclectic choices in the music library, there’s also some evergreen classics in the shape of Nirvana, The Doors, Beastie Boys and Curtis Mayfield.

Whatever your musical leanings, you are certain to find what you are looking for in the music library which has over 600 records to choose from.

The hotel’s friendly staff had set up a record player in our room and it was really lovely to enjoy some downtime from exploring the city and relaxing with a coffee while listening to records.

You can even borrow books too – all music-orientated as well. Music is piped out everywhere in the hotel, at the bar, and in the restaurant and you can expect to hear tracks from everyone from The Beatles and The Cure to blues artists and more.

There’s a professional sound bar system and sound amplifier which you can use in conjunction with any of the musical instruments that you hire from reception.

Whether you are a newbie wanting to test the waters of guitar playing or you are an experienced musician, you will be impressed with the different guitars available at M.Ou.Co. You can borrow guitars from world-renowned brands like Gretsch, Gibson and more.

M.Ou.Co. is a relatively new hotel, a former warehouse that has received a meticulous redevelopment, it’s been transformed into a contemporary space filled with light (and music!) the rooms are a smidge on the small side, but are light and airy.

Like the rest of the hotel, the aesthetic is minimalist with post-industrial leanings, with large windows and high ceilings, but still retains a real sense of chic.

There’s plenty of storage which is always helpful, although a couple of things that were omitted from the room such as toiletries and bathroom hooks which would have been appreciated. Again, thematically, all the rooms are named after a piece of music which is a lovely touch.

Guests are presented with a smartphone upon arrival which is a nifty little addition which provides you with a direct way to contact the hotel. It also has little guides and recommendations for local attractions, things to do and restaurants.

The breakfasts in the hotel are excellent, as a coeliac on a gluten-free diet, they were able to provide me with some delicious treats which included gluten-free bread, pastries and muffins. The restaurant is also open for lunch and dinner and is set in a relaxing room with exposed brick walls, lush greenery and some of the best coffee in the city.

We ate both lunch and dinner at the restaurant and were really impressed with the food that was served. If you are looking for a budget-friendly lunch, then definitely eat at the hotel’s restaurant, the menu changes every week and you can enjoy three courses (which includes a starter and dessert buffet) plus a ‘main’ for less than 20€ each.

When in Porto, there’s no shortage of amazing restaurants to choose from, but by far and away our favourite was tia tia. Not only was the food absolutely delicious, but guess what? It was music themed too.

Similarly to M.Ou.Co. guests can choose what they want to listen to – there’s a fantastic selection of records to choose from and we adored trying some of chef Tiago Feio’s menu which is centered around a combination of pescatarian, vegetarian or vegan dishes.

Tia tia’s style of cuisine is contemporary, seasonal Portuguese and all ingredients are sourced locally. We enjoyed carefully-crafted dishes like turnip, cashew and chilli oil, the most amazing mackerel, almonds and apple dish and line-caught hake, carrot and chard – absolutely exquisite! The service was exceptional and I would strongly recommend visiting tia tia whilst in Porto.

If you are looking for a city break that delivers on incredible things to do, an excellent selection of restaurants, a lively and vibrant nightlife coupled with a hotel that offers a completely unique experience that focuses on music, then definitely add Porto to your travel bucket list.

How to book:

Stay – Rooms at M.Ou.Co. start at 78€ for a basic room or 110€ for rooms with a kitchenette. Book via the hotel’s website for the best price. It’s situated around 45 minutes by metro from the airport and is a mere five-minute walk from Heroismo metro station.

Fly – Fly with TAP Air, Portugal’s flight carrier. We flew from London Gatwick directly into Francisco Sá Carneiro airport in less than two and a half hours.

Explore – We were lucky enough to be gifted two Porto cards from Visit Portugal which is essentially a city pass and a great way to explore the city on a budget. You can purchase one for 24, 48, 72 or even 96 hours which will give you free entry to the main museums, monuments, and tourist attractions in Porto. You are also entitled to a huge 50% discount on the entrance fees to a further 14 landmarks such as the Clérigos Tower, the Military Museum and many more.

You can purchase the Porto Card directly upon arrival, at the Airport or at any of the official tourist offices in the city.

Paris is yours this summer, and quite literally – with many Parisiens flocking from the centre to other parts of France during the warmer months. We jetted to the City of Light for the perfect weekend and swapped dreary London for shimmery Seine boat rides, brasseries and long lunches in the sun.

We touched down with British Airways Holidays right in beating heart of Paris in Saint-Germain-des-Prés in the 6th Arrondissement. We were transported from the UK and arrived right in the centre of Paris in a few easy hours. With everything from anique stores, museums, boutique shopping, cosy bars and buzzy restaurants on our doorsteps and having been to Paris countless times previously, we decided to keep it local and uncover everything that was on our doorstep.

First things first was to check into our centrally located hotel, K+K Hotel Cayré, just a stone’s throw from the Latin Quarter and then head for coffee. The chic and comfortable hotel was typically Parisien and the Eiffel Tower, Musée d’Orsay, and Louvre Museum were all within walking distance. For an afternoon pick-me-up we chose the historic Les Deux Magots, just a short stroll away. The cafe was first established in 1812 at Rue de Buci and moved to the current address in the 1870s, in the period when the elegant and wide Paris boulevards were being built. Famous amongst the literary set back in the day, we feasted on buttery croissants and steaming black coffee whilst watching the world go by all around us.

Saint-Germain’s major Metro route, Line 4, stops at Saint Michel, Odeon, St-Germain-des-Prés, and Saint-Placide. Line 4 is the link between the north and south of Paris stopping at three of the major Paris train stations — Gare de Nord, Gare de l’Est, and Gare Montparnasse, making it easy to travel just under an hour to the nearby wine regions, the perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon in the summer. We headed to Reims in the Champagne region (45 minutes from Paris) from Gare de l’Est and then onto three Champagne houses for a taste of the good stuff and an introduction to winemaking by lesser-known vineyards and wineries. After a few tipples of the freshest bubbles we have ever tasted it was straight back to the city to put our new-found knowledge to the test at the bars and restaurants by our hotel.


  • FLORAL BRUNCHES: Maison Sauvage, Saint Germain


British Airways Holidays offers two nights, at the 4* K+K Hotel Cayré, from £319pp, travelling on selected dates between 1 August – 31 August 2022 inclusive. Includes economy return flights from London Gatwick Airport, 25kg luggage allowance and accommodation. Book by 30 July 2022 at Further information on British Airways Holidays can be found here.


  • Package deal: customers can save time and money when they book their flight + hotel or flight + car together
  • Product range: British Airways Holidays offers customers an extensive flight network and over 10,000 carefully selected hotels and villas. It also supplies straight-forward car hire and a range of experiences, transfers and insurance
  • Flexibility: travellers can create a personalised multi-centre holiday with ease. They can book and combine flights in and out of different airports, choose multiple hotels and select car hire for any part of their holiday
  • Low deposit: travellers can secure their holiday with a low deposit (starting from £60pp) and can pay the balance in as many instalments as they want
  • Booking security: for extra peace of mind British Airways Holidays offer a 24-hour helpline and ATOL protection
  • Earn: travellers can collect Avios on flight, hotel and car bookings

Introducing you to Amare Beach Hotel Marbella: The new masterclass in cool

Stepping out onto my balcony, the heat of the coffee cup cradled in my hands contrasting with the cool, sleek wood of the deck against my feet, my lungs filled with fresh, salted air as I took in the magnificent sunrise over the whitewashed terraces and sapphire sea of Marbella. The late spring sunshine stretched its rays of coral, orange, and amber across the promenade as a pair of joggers shuffled past a lady unrolling yoga mats ready for an early Vinyasa session on the beach. It’s the kind of fleeting moment that may only last a few minutes, but the memory, the feeling, will last a lifetime. And there are plenty of those to be found at Amare Beach Hotel Marbella.

Where is it?

A beach front property a few minutes walk from the charming Marbella Old Town, the adults-only Amare Beach Hotel is situated slap bang in the centre of Marbella itself. Perched upon the promenade alongside the dazzling Mediterranean sea, the hotel is flanked by an abundance of pretty cafes, bars, sun loungers galore, and sits upon the pathway leading to Marbella’s famous “Golden Mile”, their very own 4.6 mile yellow brick road leading towards the party hot spot of Puerto Banus. Guests can take a 5 minute stroll uphill to Marbella Old Town: a quaint, whitewashed treasure trove of boutique stores and independent restaurants, with their geranium lined walkways and air heavy with the scent of churros and chocolate. With average temperatures of a pleasant 20C in spring and a sunbathers dream of 29C in summer, there’s a Marbella month for everyone, from spring golfers to summer sun goddesses.

Costa del Cool

Drawing inspiration from the sea and the traditional crisp white aesthetic of Marbella Old Town, the interiors fuse together the light, airy feel of the Mediterranean with the luxurious modernity synonymous with the Amare brand. Bleached wooden decks and gleaming marble allow the interiors to blend seamlessly with the outdoors regardless of what floor you happen to be on. The vertical wall garden and indoor water features bring the outside in, bolstering the feeling of airiness and wellbeing. Luxe, contemporary features such as rotating art installations and the most Instagrammable of feature walls in the hotel lobby add to the cool, effortless vibe that radiates throughout the property.

The effortlessly cool characteristics of the hotel continue into the outdoor area, where you will find dozens of comfortable sun loungers (and even the odd swing chair) around the chequerboard pool and outdoor hot tub. Cross the promenade to find Amare Beach Club, a chic waterside bar serving up cocktails and light bites adjacent to the sandy beach bedecked with loungers and parasols. The perfect spot for sun, sea, and social media snaps.

It’s not all sun and games

If you’re not one for lounging on the beach or sipping cocktails by the pool all day then fear not: the hotel boasts an array of additional features to make your stay a memorable one. SPA by Germaine de Capuccini offers a number of indulgent treatments including soothing facials and muscle melting massages alongside a hydrotherapy circuit including a hot tub, sauna, and relaxation areas. DJ’s and musicians perform regularly beside the pool and beachfront, elevating the ambiance as the sun goes down. For those who prefer a little more spring to their sojourn, the hotel offers daily bike rental, perfect for a 45 minute spin down the Golden Mile to Puerto Banus. There’s an onsite gym, gold courses within a reasonable distance, and for the truly insane, personal training is available by prior booking.

What about the rooms?

In keeping with the rest of the hotel, the room interiors follow the same cool, effortless flow from inside to out. The clean white and soft grey palette allows the striking blues of the Mediterranean and burnished Spanish skies to take centre stage, like an ever changing art installation. Details are muted, yet ever reminiscent of the sea: The headboards resemble the soft white foam of the surf, the curves of the loungers and ceiling lights echoing the waves of the waters beyond. Despite the assumption that Marbella is in party mode 24/7 (a mistake initiated by reality tv shows that are filmed several miles away in Puerto Banus), the rooms are well insulated and quiet, guaranteeing a peaceful nights sleep. For rainy days or when you just need a little “me time”, the balconies are spacious and clean, the mini bars are well stocked, and the room service menu is abundant with options for an early morning feed or late night bite. Rooms vary from “I was here”: an intimate, cosy space with views of the Sierra Blanca mountains, or “Oh La La The One”, featuring a rainfall shower, Molten Brown toiletries, and access to the premium lounge space in the hotel lobby filled to the brim with complimentary drinks, wine, and snacks.

Food and drink

One thing’s for sure, you’re not going to go hungry: boasting multiple restaurants including the roof top Belvue with panoramic views, the contemporary Amare Lounge, and the oceanside Amare Beach, guests are spoilt for choice. Serving up tasty tapas, stone-baked pizzas, fresh salads, sushi, and Iberico ham, you could easily dine around the hotel for a week and not experience the same dish twice. Should you fancy a more sophisticated affair, the Michelin Starred, award winning restaurant, Messina, is located a few yards from the hotel. Whether you’re indulging in the ten course tasting menu or freestyling with the a la carte offerings, bookings can be made via the hotel concierge and the bill charged to your room for convenience. Breakfast is served buffet style with freshly squeezed orange juice, omelettes made to order, and a large variety of hot and cold options including chorizo, fresh honeycomb, and a wide selection of bread and pastries. The generous drinks menu offers everything from Aperol to whisky, with many frosted cocktails in between. There’s no danger of you running out of options here.

Insider tips:

  • Rent a bike and take a leisurely ride up to Puerto Banus. There are plenty of safe places to lock up your wheels whilst you take a relaxing stroll around the marina and designer stores of this prolific end of the Golden Mile. Just make sure to book your bike rental with reception as far in advance as possible as they tend to get reserved quickly on sunnier days.
  • Reserve a table at Belvue, the panoramic bar located up on the 9th floor, for sunset cocktails. If you’re in it for the ‘gram, free apps such as Phototime will let you know what time golden hour and sunset will begin. Perfect for those cocktail sipping selfies.
  • End your trip with a massage at SPA by Germaine de Capuccini. Located on the sub-levels of the building, it’s the perfect sanctuary away from the hustle and bustle of the pool bar.

How to book:

Bookings can be made directly with the hotel here.

Hotel address: Avda. Severo Ochoa 8, 29603, Marbella, Málaga, España


The nearest airport is Malaga, approximately 40 minutes drive away.