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Set within the sprawling beauty of Avington Lakes, Stillwater House is a hidden haven where modern luxury and natural beauty come together to create a sophisticated retreat. House of Coco Wellness Editor, Anji McGrandles checked in for a mini staycation.

Tucked away in the serene embrace of Hampshire’s lush countryside, Stillwater House at Avington Lakes is a gem that redefines luxury living, perfect for both relaxation and celebration, whatever your staycation needs.

This stunning, family-run estate is just 90 minutes from London and successfully blends one-of-a-kind properties, bespoke guest experiences and heritage with nature. 

At the heart of the estate is Avington Park, a Bridgerton-esque stately home that oozes royal history and scandal – the house is famous for hosting besotted kings who snuck their mistresses away.   

Today the 175-acre estate is a collection of unique properties including Clearwater House and Cabin, sleeping up to six guests each, alongside Calmwater House, a peaceful three-bedroom retreat and Calmwaters Cabin, a cosy escape for two.

Avington Lakes

All the properties at Avington Lakes overlook the water, with your own private deck and rowboat. Guests can also book into lakeside Shepherd Huts, complete with wood-fired hot tubs and private decks. However, the jewel in the crown is Stillwater House.

Design at Stillwater House at Avington Lakes

The first thing you’ll notice about Stillwater House is its stunning design.  The team behind the project is spearheaded by Anthony Rudolph, the award-winning designer responsible for bringing a touch of South Beach to Bournemouth with his renovation of seaside stunner, The Nici. 

Rudolph successfully fuses vintage pieces with contemporary elegance, showcasing a dramatic and modern interpretation of Italian mid-century design. 

Soaring double-height ceilings take centre stage of the property offering spectacular views of the serene lakes and heated outdoor pool.  The interior décor is a harmonious mix of plush furnishings, bespoke wooden accents, and high-end finishes that make you feel both pampered and right at home. 

The bedrooms are sanctuaries of their own, with luxurious linens and soft colour palettes that ensure restful nights. 

The design and layout make this the perfect place for hosting a weekend with friends and family.  There are seven en-suite bedrooms, expansive entertainment spaces, a games area, a gym and an open-plan kitchen diner. 

Avington Lakes

Wrapped around the house are pockets of places to entertain and unwind. If you don’t fancy a swim in the outdoor pool there’s a wood-fired hot tub to relax in alongside a sunken fire pit complete with oversized cosy lounge cushions. This is a great spot for sundowners and late-night chats.

Stillwater House is surrounded by meticulously landscaped gardens and pristine lakes, creating a peaceful ambience that’s hard to match. Whether you’re sipping your morning coffee on the terrace or taking a leisurely stroll around the grounds, the natural beauty here will captivate you.

Activities at Avington Lakes

Your stay can be as relaxing or active as you want. There’s a range of outdoor pursuits, take a bike and explore the nearby area and grounds or try fly fishing, boating clay pigeon shooting, wild swimming and paddle boarding. 

You can also book an experience, from cocktail-making classes to floristry workshops or English wine tasting.

Avington Lakes

When it comes to dining, kick back and put your feet up while Avington’s private chef caters for you.  Whether you want a bespoke diner party menu or canapes and cocktails, the team have you covered.

You can also order breakfast hampers and charcuterie boards and sample some of the local wines from nearby vineyards during your stay at Avington Lakes.

Just 15 minutes by bike is the estate’s very own pub, The Chestnut Horse. Head Chef, Joe Hibberd, has curated a locally sourced menu serving a range of small plates, pub classics, sharing boards and signature dishes. 

This local has its own outdoor terrace, village shop and deli where you can buy a select range of products, from pantry staples to gourmet indulgences.  Their scotch eggs and pork pies are a must-try. 

Avington Lakes

Stillwater House at Avington Lakes isn’t just a place to stay; it’s a place to experience.

Whether you’re looking to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday living or celebrate life’s special moments, Stillwater House offers the perfect backdrop.

With its stunning setting, unique accommodation and experiences immersed in nature, Avington Lakes offers everything you need for an unforgettable countryside stay.

Stillwater House is currently available from £1,750 per night, based on a minimum of two nights. Lakeside Cabins and Shepherd Huts are available from £250 per night, based on a minimum of two nights. avington.com

The scent of freshly cut grass mingled with the crisp Devon air as Laura Bartlett stepped off the train at Exeter St David’s. Her anticipation crackled like the midday sun, promising an adventure unlike any other. This wasn’t your average city break; this was a meticulously curated journey through the heart of the Pob Hotels collection, and this time, it coincided perfectly with the buzz of the upcoming summer Olympics!

Tailoring Luxury to My Inner Athlete

PoB Hotels isn’t just about luxurious stays; it’s about experiences. Their new “Get Set, and Go” campaign, launched in honour of the 2024 summer games, personalises your escape around Britain’s favourite sports. Think indulging your inner Wimbledon champion or conquering the South Downs on a cycling adventure – all while enjoying the comfort and service PoB Hotels are renowned for.

Having already experienced the tranquil bliss of Sopwell House‘s spa, the riverside delights of Talbooth House and the timeless elegance of The Athenaeum in London, I knew a treat awaited with my next PoB Hotels adventure. 

Over the next few days, I traded bustling streets for rolling hills, dramatic coastline  and the unparalleled hospitality Pob Hotels were renowned for. Buckle up, because my adventure was about to begin, seamlessly blending luxurious relaxation perfectly complemented with the active spirit of the “Get Set, and Go” campaign.

Bovey Castle

My journey began with a train journey from Leeds to Exeter St David’s. Now, I’m no stranger to trains, but let me tell you, the anticipation of a luxurious Devon escape made even the clatter of the tracks sound positively thrilling. Stepping off the train, I was met by my knight in shining armour – well, a chauffeur in a very swanky car. He whisked me away to the majestic Bovey Castle, a place that oozed more history and grandeur than a Downton Abbey boxset marathon. Here, amidst the rolling hills, I knew my adventure wouldn’t just be about relaxation, but about discovering new active experiences too.

Check-in was a breeze, and after a spot of lunch that left my taste buds singing, it was time to explore. Dartmoor National Park called, and with a trusty electric bicycle courtesy of Pob Hotels’ partnership with the “Get Set, and Go” initiative beneath me, I was off to conquer its vast expanse. Talk about fresh air! The wind whipped through my hair as I cruised past rolling hills and picture-perfect scenery. Even those steeper inclines were a breeze with my trusty e-bike, adding a whole new level of “conquering” to the experience. By the time I returned to the castle, I was pleasantly buzzed from the adventure (and maybe a touch of smugness for tackling those hills with such ease).

The evening was all about unwinding with drinks and dinner. Let’s just say the company was delightful, the food even more so and the conversation flowed like the finest Devon cream. Now, some might consider a nightcap the perfect ending, but for this sober explorer, a clear head meant one glorious thing: a sunrise rendezvous with Mother Nature. Picture this: me, the crisp Devon air whispering secrets in my ear, the first rays of sunshine painting the landscape in a golden glow and a chorus of birds serenading the dawn. Basically, a real-life Disney movie, minus the overly-animated animals (although, with that much charm around, I wouldn’t be surprised if a few particularly enthusiastic robins belted out a show-stopping solo).

The Nare

The next day, a leisurely breakfast fuelled me up for another adventure. This time, my destination was The Nare, a quintessential English country house perched right on the Cornish coast. Think dramatic cliffs, crashing waves and enough charm to make a mermaid jealous.

Now, I’m no stranger to a good game of tennis, and with the sea breeze whispering sweet nothings in my ear, I was ready to unleash my inner Wimbledon champion. (Spoiler alert: Mother Nature had other plans. Turns out, the ocean breeze had morphed into a full-on wind symphony and battling a rogue tennis ball was a losing proposition. But hey, you win some, you lose some, and you definitely reschedule your tennis match for a less, shall we say, “enthusiastic” day!)

Lunch was a delightful affair at The Nare’s restaurant, where the freshest local produce met breathtaking ocean views. Talk about a feast for the senses! Besides, a delicious meal is the perfect consolation prize for a postponed tennis match, wouldn’t you agree?

The Headland

The afternoon saw me whisked away to The Headland, a grand hotel overlooking the picturesque town of Newquay.  The rest of the day was mine to explore and with a charming town centre calling my name, I couldn’t resist a spot of wandering.  By evening, I was back at The Headland, ready for another round of wining and dining. The ambiance was warm, the service impeccable and let’s just say I left feeling thoroughly spoiled.

But the real surprise came at dinner. When the staff learned about my embrace of a sober lifestyle, they didn’t miss a beat. The incredibly talented chef went rogue (in the best way possible!), crafting a bespoke menu just for me, a symphony of flavours that had my taste buds doing a happy dance. The enthusiasm was contagious – one of the staff, equally passionate about the world of no and low-alcohol beverages, took me on a delightful tour of their ever-expanding collection. We even dabbled in some mixology magic, conjuring up a stunning alcohol-free cocktail so delicious they had to name it after me! Yes, folks, “The Laura” became a temporary fixture on The Headland’s menu – a testament to the hotel’s dedication to exceptional experiences, no matter your beverage preference.

The last day was bittersweet. A leisurely breakfast fuelled by nostalgia (and maybe a touch of sadness that the trip was ending) was followed by packing and goodbyes. With a train ticket from Bodmin Parkway to York clutched in my hand, it was time to depart. But as the train journey unfolded, a wave of contentment washed over me.

This whirlwind tour of PoB Hotels had been nothing short of magical. From the grandeur of Bovey Castle to the seaside charm of The Nare and the dramatic setting of The Headland, each location had its own unique personality. They say variety is the spice of life, and PoB Hotels has that flavour profile down to a decadent art. Believe me, these are just a taste of the incredible experiences waiting to be discovered in their entire collection.

Get set and go on your own adventure

PoB Hotels’ “Get Set, and Go” campaign is the perfect excuse to combine your love of travel with a touch of sporty adventure. Whether you’re a seasoned athlete or a weekend warrior, there’s a PoB Break curated especially for you.

Imagine yourself cycling the South Downs between Bailiffscourt and Ockenden Manor, or following in the wake of Olympic rowers on the River Thames with The Relais Henley.

PoB Hotels has partnered with Olympic legend Victoria Pendleton to create a selection of incredible itineraries inspired by Britain’s favorite sports. Her own “An Inspiring Sporting Odyssey” takes you through the heart of the Cotswolds,letting you try your hand at everything from cycling to kayaking.

For the tennis enthusiast, there’s the “Game, Set, and Match” Break, a journey across the UK that culminates at Andy Murray’s Cromlix Hotel, complete with its very own Wimbledon-coloured tennis court.

Feeling the need for speed? “Discovering Sussex By Bike” will test your cycling abilities with a mix of flat coastal paths and challenging South Downs climbs.

No matter your chosen sport, you’re guaranteed a luxurious stay at some of the finest independent hotels in Britain. Think plush rooms, exquisite dining and decadent spas – the perfect way to unwind after a day of exertion.

So, are you ready to “Get Set, and Go”? Head over to the PoB Hotels website to explore the full range of breaks and start planning your active escape today!

Our Editor-in-Chief, Laura Bartlett, thrives on two things: impeccable taste and exhilarating adventures. So, when an invitation landed in her inbox promising an escape to the wilderness with the new BMW XM, a car rumoured to be as powerful as it was posh, well, let’s just say her adrenaline started to pump.

The invitation landed in my inbox with a flourish: “Escape the ordinary,” it declared, and promised an exploration of “whimsical delight” and “extroverted elegance” alongside the powerful new BMW XM. Intrigued, I knew this wasn’t your average car launch and as a lover of both luxury and a good adventure, I RSVP’ed with an enthusiastic click.

The destination? Wilderness Reserve, a sprawling estate nestled in the heart of the English countryside. Upon arrival, I was greeted by a vision of bucolic bliss – manicured lawns sprawling towards a shimmering lake, and The Grange, a grand manor house that promised a night of relaxation after a day of exhilarating pursuits.

The BMW XM, the star of the show, sat patiently waiting. A sleek and stylish crossover, it whispered of elegance and power in equal measure. But before I could get behind the wheel, the day called for a different kind of test.

Our first stop? An axe-throwing session. Now, I’ll admit, I approached this with a healthy dose of trepidation. But there’s something about the satisfying thunk of axe hitting wood that melts away stress and ignites a primal sense of empowerment.

Next up was the air rifle challenge. I lined up my sights, took a deep breath and squeezed the trigger. Bullseye! The target exploded in a poof of pink smoke, setting off a celebratory burst of fireworks. Turns out, I have a hidden talent for sharpshooting! This unexpected marksmanship not only surprised me but also garnered a round of impressed applause from my fellow adventurers, proving that car enthusiasm extends far beyond the driving experience.

As the sun began to dip below the horizon, casting long shadows across the manicured lawns, we were treated to a spectacular fire performance. The flames danced and swirled, mirroring the thrill of the day’s activities. A delicious BBQ under a blanket of stars capped off an evening filled with laughter, camaraderie and the realisation that luxury can be more than just thread count and champagne flutes.

The following morning, a refreshing wild swimming session in the lake provided a much-needed wake-up call before our departure. Exhilarated and invigorated, I perched myself behind the wheel of the BMW XM for a much-anticipated driving experience.

The car responded to my every touch, effortlessly navigating the winding country roads with a sense of precision and power. But it wasn’t just about the speed (although the XM certainly delivered in that department). The drive was a luxurious experience, the plush interior and intuitive technology cocooning me in comfort.

This was a high-performance beast with a plug-in hybrid twist. BMW’s M division, celebrating their 50th anniversary, unleashed a monster with a twin-turbo V8 engine working in concert with a powerful electric motor. The result? A staggering 653 horsepower and enough torque to launch you from 0-62 mph in a neck-snapping 4.3 seconds. But this wasn’t just about raw power. The XM boasted an impressive electric range, allowing for guilt-free cruising on pure electric power. It was a technological marvel wrapped in a decidedly extroverted design – a true statement piece for those who appreciate both elegance and edge.

As I pulled into the driveway at the end of the 24-hour whirlwind, I couldn’t help but grin. The BMW XM wasn’t just a car; it was a symbol of adventure, empowerment and the unexpected thrill of discovering hidden talents. The Wilderness Reserve escape had been the perfect blend of creature comforts and exhilarating challenges, proving that elegance can indeed be extroverted and that a little friendly competition can bring out the best in us all.

Ever heard of Aruba, the aptly named “One Happy Island”? Our very own Editor-in-Chief, Laura Bartlett, is no stranger to the Caribbean. Family roots in St. Kitts and Nevis nurtured a love for the region and countless trips to Barbados solidified her island-loving spirit. Yet, Aruba remained a captivating mystery, a jewel in the Caribbean crown she hadn’t yet explored. Intrigued by its vibrant reputation and undeniable beauty, Laura embarked on a journey to unveil Aruba’s secrets.

Nestled just 15 miles north of South America, Aruba basks in year-round sunshine with average temperatures of 82°F (32°C) and cooling trade winds. This blissful island boasts a nine-mile stretch of pristine, award-winning beaches, where turquoise waters lap against the shore. Charming Dutch architecture adds a unique touch, while the island’s infectious Latin vibe keeps your toes tapping.

From world-class resorts to intimate boutique hotels, exciting nightlife to a plethora of water sports and activities, there’s something for everyone. The island even boasts a vibrant calendar filled with cultural and sporting events throughout the year.

Now, back from her sun-kissed adventure, Laura is here to share an insider’s guide crafted specifically for first-time Aruba explorers. From discovering hidden culinary gems to uncovering the island’s best-kept secrets, this guide will equip you to navigate Aruba with confidence and create memories that will last a lifetime.

Where to Stay in Aruba

Boardwalk Boutique Hotel Aruba

Okay, Aruba newbies, gather ’round! Let’s talk about the hidden gem that stole my entire heart (and maybe a few hours of work time, but hey, #balance, right?): Boardwalk Boutique Hotel Aruba.

This place wasn’t just a hotel, it was an experience. Imagine stepping into a lush, tropical oasis – a former coconut plantation, no less – dotted with charming casitas that felt more like your own private island bungalow than a hotel room. Seriously, mine was gorgeous. Think comfy king-sized bed, a breezy patio perfect for morning coffee (or sneaky afternoon cocktails, no judgment!), and all surrounded by swaying palm trees.

But the real star of the show (besides the resident iguanas, those guys were chill) was Coco Cafe. This open-air restaurant was basically an extension of the whole island vibes. Think colourful seating under a stunning seashell chandelier (seriously Instagrammable), friendly bartenders ready to whip up your favourite tropical drink and a menu that was, well, a total vibe. The protein smoothies became my go-to and the tacos were a no brainer. 

We’re talking local Aruban flavours mixed with Belgian goodness (the owners have some heritage there!), plus a sprinkle of Mediterranean inspiration they picked up on their travels. Basically, it was a party in your mouth, and everyone was invited (except maybe the iguanas, they seemed more into sunbathing).

Here’s the best part: Coco Cafe wasn’t just about amazing food (though the Breakfast Tower – delivered straight to your casita, hello lazy mornings! – was a true champion). It was the perfect spot to catch up on emails (free Wi-Fi, obvs) with the sound of the breeze rustling the palm trees as your soundtrack. Plus, happy hour from 3-5 pm? Sign. Me. Up.

So, if you’re looking for a place to unwind, recharge and maybe sneak in a little work without feeling like you’re in a boring old office, Boardwalk Boutique Hotel is your jam. It’s the kind of place that makes you want to unplug, sip a cocktail and just send “One Happy Email” to the world.

Coco Casita starts from $425 US dollars per night (low season), excluding the taxes. 

Where to eat 

Aruba isn’t just about stunning beaches and turquoise waters (although, let’s be honest, those are pretty darn amazing). To my surprise, it’s also a haven for foodies, with a vibrant culinary scene that reflects the island’s rich cultural heritage. From fresh seafood to international flavours and healthy options, there’s something to tantalise every taste bud. 

During our exploration of Aruba, we discovered a delightful mix of restaurants that perfectly complemented our island adventures. Whether you’re craving a casual lunch by the beach, a romantic beachfront dinner, or a delicious breakfast to fuel your day, we’ve got you covered. 

Honestly, the food on the island surpassed all of my expectations and whilst I was in Aruba, I was able to explore the world through my tastebuds. This list could have been endless so I’ve whittled it down to the top three must visit restaurants when you visit. 

Ever Restaurant 

Forget saving the best for last, Aruba’s culinary scene throws a knockout punch right from the start with Ever Restaurant. This isn’t your ordinary fine dining experience; it’s a freestyle symphony conducted by the maestro himself, Chef Ever de Peña. Picture this: you’re nestled in an intimate dining room with only 13 other lucky souls, the Oranjestad marina twinkling outside the window. Chef Ever and his team, visible through the open kitchen, orchestrating a culinary masterpiece – an eight-course journey through his artistic vision.

Let me tell you, the look of pure artistry and passion on Chef Ever’s face while he crafts each dish nearly rivalled the final presentation. It was enough to make this hopeless romantic sigh and declare, “Until I find a man who looks at me the way I’m looking at his food, I’m staying single!”

But seriously, the food at Ever Restaurant is a revelation. The focus is on fresh, seasonal ingredients, with a menu that changes every eight weeks or so. Expect a delightful dance of flavours, featuring the bounty of the sea, succulent meats and of course, a decadent finale. While dietary restrictions aren’t currently accommodated, trust me, this is an eight-course adventure your taste buds won’t soon forget (and neither will your Instagram followers – the plating is seriously photogenic!).

Just be sure to book well in advance, because with only 14 seats available, this hidden gem gets snatched up fast!

Caya  

Forget your standard restaurant fare; Caya is an electrifying adventure for your taste buds, a passport to a world of international flavours where palm trees whisper secrets in the breeze as you settle into a charming table, anticipation building with every rustle.

The name itself, “Caya” (Papiamento for “street”), hints at the restaurant’s inspiration. Founded by two friends united by a passion for globetrotting and good food, Caya pays homage to their summers spent savouring the hidden gems of Latin America and Europe.

Caya’s menu isn’t a static list of dishes; it’s a dynamic tapestry woven by the visionary Chef Jhon Gomez. Think bold Asian spices mingling with Latin American rhythms, all harmonised with fresh, seasonal Aruban ingredients. One minute you might be savouring a Japanese empanada with a kick, the next you’re diving into a succulent duck dish infused with the smoky magic of a Peruvian mole. Don’t be surprised if a taste of Europe peeks through in a reimagined pasta dish, or the vibrant flavours of the Caribbean take centre stage in a seafood creation. This is the beauty of Caya – a symphony of international influences where every bite is an exciting discovery.

Caya’s Pastry Chef William Herrera is the genius of sweet finales. Using a foundation of homemade bases and fermented sourdough, he crafts desserts that are as delightful as they are guilt-free. Imagine textures that melt in your mouth and flavour combinations that leave you wanting more. 

This, my friends, is Caya.

Olivia Restaurant 

Olivia Restaurant isn’t your typical Aruban dining spot. Launched in 2022 by the celebrated Chef Dennis van Daatselaar (famous for his restaurants Carte Blanche and Wilhelmina), Olivia whisks you away to the heart of the Mediterranean, all under the twinkling Aruban sky.

Imagine a romantic, trendy, yet undeniably cosy open-air setting. Picture yourself escaping the crowds and settling into a comfortable chair, the gentle murmur of conversation and the rustle of palm leaves creating a calming ambiance. This is the prelude to a food adventure that will tantalise your taste buds and transport you to sun-drenched piazzas and bustling souks.

While Olivia’s lighting might be a touch more intimate (perfect for a romantic date!), the true star of the show is the food. You might even be lucky enough to have Chef Dennis himself grace your table, just like we did! During our visit, Chef Dennis personally curated a feast featuring his all-time favourite dishes from the menu.

The result? A whirlwind tour of the Mediterranean, with each bite bursting with fresh, healthy flavours inspired by Greece, Italy, Morocco, Lebanon, Spain and southern France. Think mouthwatering meats, vibrant vegetables and an explosion of spices guaranteed to tantalise your taste buds. And don’t forget to save room for dessert! Olivia’s homemade creations are the perfect ending to this unforgettable food journey.

What to do 

Kayaking and Snorkelling with Aruba Outdoor Adventures

Aruba

One of the most unforgettable experiences on our Aruba trip was venturing out on the turquoise waters with Aruba Outdoor Adventures. Forget battling waves with traditional paddles – these guys do things in style with Hobie pedal kayaks! Let me tell you, after a few minutes of cruising along the stunning southern coast, my arms were thanking me (and secretly judging all those tourists struggling with paddles).

This effortless exploration allows you to truly focus on the breathtaking scenery, from secluded coves to vibrant coral reefs. But the adventure goes beyond the surface. Snorkelling with Aruba Outdoor Adventures lets you dive into a kaleidoscope of colourful fish, revealing the wonders of Aruba’s underwater world. And the best part? Whether you’re a seasoned kayaker or a complete novice, the stable and user-friendly Hobie kayaks ensure everyone can enjoy this unforgettable adventure.

Aruba Outdoor Adventures is more than just comfy kayaks. They’re all about creating life-enriching experiences that combine adventure with cultural immersion. Our knowledgeable and multilingual guide made us feel safe and secure and this will go down in the memory bank as one of the most enriching experiences of my life. 

Antigravity Aerial Yoga 

Ditch the downward dog and say hello to downward delight! Imagine yourself suspended in mid-air during Maria’s Antigravity Yoga class, held right in her charming backyard garden. The gentle Aruba breeze whispers secrets in your ear as you sway in your hammock, feeling weightless and free like a feather. 

This isn’t just yoga; it’s a full-on sensory experience that will leave you feeling rejuvenated and connected to your inner zen. The best part? Maria’s class is perfect for all levels, from complete beginners to seasoned yogis. Her welcoming personality and expert guidance will have you striking those tricky poses (or simply hanging upside down in blissful relaxation) in no time! 

North Shore Hike 

Ditch the tourist traps and awaken your inner explorer with a trek along Aruba’s dramatic north shore. This adventure is all about immersing yourself in the raw beauty of the island. Imagine rugged limestone cliffs meeting the turquoise embrace of the ocean, the sound of crashing waves filling the air. 

Your journey takes you to hidden coves like Andicuri Beach, a haven for surfers and kitesurfers, and Blackstone Beach, where volcanic pebbles paint a unique black canvas against the crystal-clear water. This north shore adventure is a feast for the senses, a chance to truly connect with Aruba’s wild soul.

Ayo Rock Formations 

Forget souvenir shops and crowded beaches – unleash your inner Indiana Jones with a visit to Ayo Rock Formations. This isn’t your typical tourist attraction; it’s a journey back in time. Scattered amidst the cacti-studded landscape, these giant volcanic boulders stand like ancient sentinels, whispering tales of Aruba’s geological past. 

Clamber through hidden caves, explore mysterious pathways, and imagine the Arawak people who once used these rocks as a lookout point. The Ayo Rock Formations are more than just rocks; they’re a portal to a bygone era, waiting to be explored and best of all, it’s completely free! 

So lace up your walking shoes, grab your sense of adventure, and prepare to be transported back in time – all without putting a dent in your wallet.

Getting there

BA weekly flight route as it is the easiest way to get to Aruba. 

British Airways’ offers weekly return flights on Sundays from London Gatwick to Aruba starting from £475 per person.

Conclusion 

Truthfully, when I touched down in Aruba, I wasn’t sure what the allure was. But with every bite at Ever Restaurant, every colourful fish encountered while snorkelling and every delicious surprise at Caya Restaurant, Aruba’s magic unfolded. The friendly faces, the vibrant culture and the sheer beauty of the island seeped into my soul. By the end of my trip, I wasn’t just leaving with a tan and a camera roll full of memories, I was leaving a piece of my heart on this “One Happy Island.”

Aruba isn’t just a place; it’s an experience. It’s a place where your taste buds take flight, where hidden gems unfold around every corner and where the rhythm of island life washes away your worries. So, pack your bags, grab your swimsuit and get ready to discover your own happy ending in Aruba. 

This island paradise awaits!

Below are five of London’s best dog friendly hotels because while London is home to countless pet friendly hotels, the very best dog friendly hotels in London go the extra mile and make our four-legged best friends feel extra special.

Below, we’ve rounded up our absolute favourite dogfriendly hotels in London Town, which have impressed in terms of dog friendly services, pet menus and pet amenities. So, no matter if you’re looking for a luxury five star hotel in Mayfair, or a quirky hotel in East London – we’ve got you covered.

The Athenaeum: London’s best dog friendly hotel

The Atheneum, which sits in the heart of Mayfair, is a five-star boutique hotel has all the five-star amenities you can expect from any swanky Mayfair property, but with the eclecticism and bespoke personal touch of an independent hotel. We think it is one of the best dog friendly hotels in Mayfair.

The Athenaeum fully understands that dog parents will dote on their four legged friends all year round. Its dog friendly package goes above and beyond, not just offering dog bowls and treats, but even The Athenaeum branded scarves, bow ties, teddies, dog grooming and walking services. They even offer a deep-filled hypoallergenic hollow fibre mattress, and one complimentary dish from the Mink Bar(k) Menu which includes a choice of either Roast Chicken ‘Bones’ or Steak Tartare. We also liked the little touches throughout the room, which included branded trick and treat cards.

TeamCocopup Charlie was welcomed in (almost) all public spaces, except of course, the spa and the main restaurant. However, the hotel lobby offers plenty of ambiance and pet travellers may simply opt to have dinner here instead of the restaurant if they don’t want to leave their pooches in the room. It is undoubtedly one of London’s best dog friendly hotels. Click here for our full review.

Pan Pacific London: London’s best dog friendly hotel

Pan Pacific London brings the unique flavour of Singaporean hospitality to the heart of the City and one of London’s best dog friendly hotels. The hotel towers over One Bishopgate Plaza and is just a hop skip away from Liverpool Street Station and the hipster cool bars and nightclubs of Shoreditch.

The hotel brings together a balanced blend of architecture, contemporary design and cutting-edge technology, alongside boundary-pushing holistic wellbeing. Also offering a varied selection of exciting destination restaurants and bars, Pan Pacific London is the ultimate location for classic yet accessible luxury.

From the moment we set foot in the beautiful lobby – Charlie was treated like a true VIP (Very Important Pooch). The lovely staff at the reception treated him to a banana chewie, AND a French puff pastry.

The 43-storey bronze tower offers 237 rooms which are the picture of elegance and tranquillity. Curved walls and neutral palettes welcome guests into the rooms, whilst custom headboards act as personalised art pieces, adding a layer of calm through the depiction of oak, elder, elm and maple trees.

The Paws and Pan Pacific package gives pampered pooches a true VIP stay as pets can relax and indulge with bespoke massages, reiki healing, puppy yoga and even dog walks and training sessions care of the Concierge. They even have their own breakfast and dinner menu, created by dog behaviourist and nutritionist Anna Webb, which can be served in-room or in Straits Kitchen. Click here for our full review.

Hilton Park Lane: London’s best dog friendly hotel

We recently stayed in one of the newly refurbished rooms at Hilton Park Lane. The hotel started an extensive renovation project in 2020 starting with the executive rooms in the higher floors as well as the lobby, Park Corner Brasserie, Reverie Bar and Grand Ballroom among other public spaces. The style of the refurb is modern and contemporary with playful touches of retro nostalgia.

The service is as you’d expect from any Hilton property. Friendly check-in and even a lovely handwritten note from reception greets you at the room. The rooms are dressed in an elegant, almost coastal chic, colour palette of nudes and blues, with massive windows that maximise the breath-taking views of Hyde Park and the London skyline. The rooms are generously sized and equipped with all the luxury amenities you can think of. Breakfast is served either at the Park Corner Brasserie of the Executive Lounge and we were thoroughly impressed with how the Hilton Park Lane caters to all sorts of dietary requirements too. We especially enjoyed the vegan Danishes on offer at the Executive Lounge.

Hilton Park Lane which celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2023, was once the highest hotel in Europe and now offers 454 bedrooms hosting around 20,000 guests per year. The next phase of the renovation will include Galvin at Windows and the 10 Degrees Bar, which will add to the already stellar offer in this historic hotel which is still (in our very humble opinion) reaching new heights and breaking boundaries to this day. Plus, it’s pet-friendly too. Click here for our full review.

Kimpton Fitzroy: London’s best dog friendly hotel

Undoubtedly one of London’s most luxurious addresses, everyone certainly knows about the Kimpton Fitzroy. But did you know that the hotel offers a whole menu of luxury pet pampering services too?

Kimpton Fitzroy teamed up with luxury dog-walking and day-care company The Hound Hut to offer VIP guests (very important pooches) a truly elevated hotel experience. With this, hotel guests can book royal pampering and dog walks around Bloomsbury straight with the hotel’s concierge team. The services include two to three hour walks and even day care services.

We love that there are no size, weight or breed restrictions for pets at the Kimpton Fitzroy – which goes to show how deep their pet-friendly policies go. Plus, TeamCocopup Charlie is allowed in many common areas including the lobby and Burr & Co. These incredible pet-friendly policies can be attributed to the hotel’s adorable Director of Pet Relations Winston, who (if you’re lucky) may be there to welcome you with a paw and tail wag.

We stayed in one of the elegant one bedroom suites, which boasted some incredible park views of Russell Square. The spacious suites feature a separate sitting area, a gorgeous four poster king-sized bed, a beautiful balcony and Nespresso machine and tea facilities. There is also a dog bed, dog bowls and treats for Charlie – which he absolutely adored. Click here for our full review.

Hart Shoreditch: London’s best dog friendly hotel

Part of Hilton’s Curio Collection, Hart Shoreditch London is quite literally in the beating heart of everything and anything in Shoreditch. During London Fashion Week, it was a stone’s throw away from all the major East London venues, it’s also just a quick stroll away from the bars and nightclubs of Shoreditch High Street, Old Street and Great Eastern Street.

Every room in Hart Shoreditch is dog-friendly – which is a bonus for us. We were originally booked into one of the Deluxe suites, but for an easy £40 for our two-night stay. The King Junior Suites are chic, cosy and come with an array of luxury amenities. Comfy bedding, stylish interiors, Norwegian toiletries and of course tea and coffee amenities too. Charlie was greeted with a doggy bowl and doggy bed, and a bag of treats – which he of course, appreciated.

In terms of dog-friendliness, TeamCocopup Charlie is allowed absolutely everywhere. He accompanied us during our meetings at the Mostrador Bar, treated himself to some steak offcuts during our dinner at the restaurant, enjoyed the fresh morning sunlight at breakfast and of course – made plenty of new friends all over the hotel lobby too. In fact, we were so impressed with our stay at Hart Shoreditch, that we did come back, just a week later, turning it into our base for London Fashion Week. For the price, quality, service and location – it is certainly East London’s best dog friendly hotel. Click here for our full review.

Want more dog friendly content? Check out our TeamCocopup approved guide here.

A name synonymous with luxury, sunshine and glamour. It has long been a magnet for the rich and famous, and now, it’s experiencing a renaissance.

3SA Estate, a leading lifestyle and property consultancy, is at the forefront of this revival. Their latest offering, The Penthouse, embodies the new spirit of Marbella – limitless luxury that combines unparalleled service, breathtaking design and a seamless blend of indoor and outdoor living.

This haven for discerning travellers isn’t just a place to stay, it’s a home away from home, meticulously crafted to fulfill every desire and exceed every expectation.

We’ve nabbed a moment with Jimmy Widen, the CEO, so that we can delve deeper into The Penthouse, exploring its unique features, exceptional amenities and the inspiration behind its design. We’ll also discover how it caters to the needs of today’s luxury travellers, from digital nomads seeking a perfect work-life balance to the jet-set who crave discretion and sophistication.

Get ready to be transported to a world of unparalleled luxury on the stunning Marbella coast…

1. What inspired the creation of The Penthouse, and how does it reflect the vision of 3SA Estate?

The Penthouse was created by its visionary owners by combining two apartments into one extraordinary duplex space that optimises on its unique and exquisite beachfront location, arugably the best and rarest in Marbella, Spain and Europe. 

The project took nearly five years to complete, with its architects and designers briefed to develop a penthouse that incorporated the highest and most exacting standards of internal and external living space to surprise and delight the most discerning of guests.  

As the leading lifestyle and property consultancy in Marbella, 3SA Estate reflect all of these qualities to innovate and inspire which is reflected in our vision to be 3 steps ahead in every aspect of what we do. In this way I am delighted to say we have become a trusted partner to our clients to deliver the very best in terms of standard of properties, whether to rent and buy, matched only by the level of services we offer to manage every aspect of the guests experience be it a short or longer term stay.

2. Can you describe a typical day for a guest staying at The Penthouse?

For us there is no such thing as a typical day as we aim to reflect and serve the individual needs of our guests. For some, it may be waking up gently with the sound of the lapping ocean as guests step out onto the expansive terraces, then enjoying a delicious breakfast served by our butler, a dip in the private pool before heading out to explore glorious Marbella, perhaps a visit to one of the very exclusive beach clubs on the Golden Mile before returning for a sundowner on the terrace and a beautiful crafted meal created by our private chef to our guests personal wishes and desires.

Alternatively for those in search of a more active day, our concierge team can arrange anything and everything; hiring a supercar to cruise down to Puerto Banus or up into the hills behind Marbella, horseriding on a local beach, 18 holes on a world famous golf course, wine tasting in one of the vineyards in Serranía de Ronda a few hours out on the ocean in a super yacht, tennis at Puerto Romano’s famous tennis club, or for the ultimate birds eye view of this area there are also helicopter tours to take in the stunning sights and sounds of Andalusia.

3. What unique features of The Penthouse do you think guests will be most excited about?

That’s a tough question as there are so many extraordinary features that stand out in The Penthouse. However, one of the main sweetspots has to be the uninterrupted views out to the ocean from the expansive 211m2 terraces, views which are second to none in Marbella and arguably Spain and Southern Europe.

Another feature would be our dedicated penthouse team including our maid, butler and the highly respected private chef all passionate about ensuring every last wish is met. Finally I think a unique feature is the 3SA Concierge Team who are on hand to book the very best spots at the best places in town, ensuring the VIP treatment never stops.

4. How does The Penthouse blend indoor and outdoor living to enhance the guest experience?

The spectacular 452m2 penthouse space offers guests a unique and imposing elevated oceanfront position and mesmerising 180-degree views of the Mediterranean, which fuses indoor and outdoor living with terraces that stretch to a breathtaking  211m2.  The design of the apartment has been meticulously planned, enabling it to seem as though the ocean blends effortlessly with the penthouse, its presence felt throughout the entire expanse on both floors. The light bounces off every surface and highlights the thoughtful interiors, all of which have been carefully considered to amplify the sea’s connection to the penthouse.

5. What was the most challenging part of designing and building The Penthouse?

The entire project took nearly five years to craft from start to finish to the exacting standards required to create the most exclusive penthouse in Marbella, perhaps the most challenging aspect being the required licences to develop the property. But the entire team were amazing throughout the journey and it has been worth the wait to launch this exclusive Penthouse to the luxury rental market.

6. How does The Penthouse cater to the needs of digital nomads seeking luxury accommodations?

The Penthouse has everything a digital nomad needs to create the perfect work-life balance especially for those seeking a more luxurious way of life. And when we talk of luxury we mean luxury in its broadest sense, be it property, services, climate, location and therefore across the entire lifestyle offering. 

The expansive penthouse itself is discreet, quiet and self-contained in every way it has its own full equipped gym, plunge pool with resistance tidal mechanism, its own self contained kitchen, six stunning bedrooms including the breathtaking master suite on the top floor. 

In addition, the property sits in one of the most exclusive destination resorts in the Meditterrean in the Puerto Romano Resort which offers guests everything they could wish for from private beach club, a selection of some of the finest restuarants from around the globe but also relaxed cafes and eateries for simple dining, an award winning tennis club.

Beyond the resort, Marbella itself offers digital nomads a thriving community of likeminded travellers who have found this idyllic location and who are thriving by immersing themselves in a place that enjoys one of the best climates in the world with over 300 days of sunshine and prides itself on an exceptionally healthy and outdoor focussed way of life. A short drive away takes guests to Tarifa one of the kite surfing hotspots, or up into the mountains guests can ski in the Sierra Nevada mountain area or short train journey takes travellers to Saville or Madrid for a cultural and gastronmic immersion.

The final gift is that Malaga airport now serves the digital nomad community to many locations worldwide, making Marbella the perfect pinpoint destination that combines logistical and lifestyle benefits in abundance.

7. Can you share a memorable moment from the development process of The Penthouse?

We were not the developers of The Penthouse, it was created by a fantastic development company that we work with from England.

8. What do you think makes Marbella the best European Destination for 2024?

Marbella has always been a magnet for the rich and famous; an iconic destination for an international and intellectual jet-set, and the Hollywood glitterati, who frequented it back in the 1950s and originally put the Andalusian gem on the map. Of course, Marbella has evolved over the years and we are delighted to now be experiencing an exciting renaissance, which reflects its former glory days but dials up a contemporary new vibrancy. Its incre

dible climate, easy accessible location and the relaxed laid back beach and sporty lifestyle have always been the core pillars of its appeal yet the high standards and choice of accommodation, gastronomy and overall experiences have been further amplified to reflect this new interest making Marbella one of the most highly desirable holiday and living choice for the discerning traveller. Forbes has just named Marbella Best European Destination for 2024 by saying “This is a sunny, five-star, natural, sporty, gastronomic destination with everything to please the most demanding travelers.”

9. How does The Penthouse contribute to the renaissance of Marbella?

The Penthouse represents the extraordinary and inspiring innovation that is happening in Marbella at this time and reflects a ‘ limitless luxury ‘ philosphy that we at 3SA are championing. We are seeing an exciting new wave of thoughtful International investment in and around Marbella that seeks to compliment Marbella’s history and protect its natural gifts yet elevate and attract a new type of traveller and resident who really appreciates the finest things in life. Dolce & Gabbana and Fendi are both investing in branded developments in and around Marbella.

10. What local experiences and activities would you recommend to guests staying at The Penthouse?

At property level we would recommend our full butler service package and daily cleaning. In this way you live with all the benefits of a 5 star hotel but you are totally private with the most stunning front line beach view and effectively your own private restaurant in the Penthouse. As far as local experiences are concerned the 3SA Concierge team can arrange the perfect day as Marbella is full of activities.

We can arrange beach clubs, every kind of sport, hiking tours, horse riding, excursions to some of the best beaches in Europe at Tarifa and Chiclana, wine tasting in Rhonda by helicopter, a yacht charter with dolphin spotting. There really are no limits to the luxury lifestyle in Marbella with 3SA Estate.

11. How does the design of The Penthouse incorporate the surrounding natural beauty of Marbella?

I think the fact that The Penthouse has been designed specifically to blend its stunning external surroundings and ocean position into its living space, both compliments and amplifies the local natural beauty of Marbella whilst having a low impact footprint on nature.

12. What role does sustainability play in the design and operation of The Penthouse?

At 3SA Estate we work tirelessly to raise the standards of sustainability, but it is fair to say we are not where we want to be yet in Marbella. We are totally committed to responsible tourism and our goal is that within 3 years we will have properties and a service that are all 100% sustainable.

13. How do you ensure that the service provided at The Penthouse is unparalleled?

We are super proud of the entire 3SA Estate team who are handpicked for their personalities and skills. Each and every one is committed to delivering the very highest standards of service be it with the domestic and housekeeping support through to concierge and estate staff. We invest heavily in training to ensure the team are fully equipped and briefed to support all guests, but perhaps most importantly we all love what we do, so we know that are team deliver a very personal and heart-felt service that we feel is second to none.

14. What are some of your favourite features in the master suite of The Penthouse?

The size of the master suite is both unique and breathtaking, as it spans the entire upper floor and is bigger than some villas. 

The floor to ceiling glass doors peel back to open up to the expansive terrace with your own private plunge pool and a view to the ocean that is second to none.

The master suite also has its own private lift from the main entrance.

15. How does the location within the Puente Romano Resort enhance the luxury experience for guests?

The Penthouse is discreetly tucked away in a gated complex within the world famous Puente Romano resort, which offers the highest levels of amentities yet also reassuring personal privacy and security. Guests of The Penthouse are granted full access to the entire award-winning Puente Romano resort which has raised the benchmark for what a world-class resort can deliver.

Repeatedly acclaimed in magazines and newspapers worldwide for setting a standard that few live up to, since it opened it has been awarded the International Hotel Awards as Best Golf Resort, the World Spa Awards as Spain’s Best Spa Resort, and Europe’s Leading Lifestyle Hotel in the World Travel Awards. The Penthouse is nestled in the heart of this exclusive resort yet offers its guests their own perfect escape and sanctuary.

16. Can you tell us about the dining experiences available both within The Penthouse and at the Puente Romano Resort?

Within The Penthouse itself we can offer a fully catered private chef service to prepare and cook all our guests meals from locally sourced ingredients, allowing for personal preferences and dietary requirements. We are also able to fully stock the fridge and bar if our guests would prefer to cook their own meals. 

Alteratively, Puente Romano Resort itself is home to more than 20 restaurants and bars that offer our guests a truly gastronomic experience. From finding their inner Inca at COYA to enjoying the beachside favourite Chiringuito; from Cipriani to Nobu to the legendary Sea Grill. Puente Romano Resort are also proud of the quality and sustainability approach to sourcing ingredients with their our own local market garden, supplying farm fresh, seasonal, and organic vegetables & herbs directly to their kitchens. Locally sourced, naturally reared meat is also prioritised, as is locally caught fish and seafood.

17. What upcoming trends in luxury real estate do you see reflected in The Penthouse?

The Penthouse reflects a new trend where discerning travellers require all the standard services of a luxury hotel but also want total privacy and discretion – this is exactly what we can offer at 3SA Estate and at The Penthouse.

At property level we think The Penthouse reflects the continuing demand from travellers to deliver a hyper personalised experience that is tailored to their specific needs.  And finally and at a granular level I think the fully serviced bar in The Penthouse is a feature that will be seen more and more in luxury real estate.

18. How does The Penthouse appeal to the jet-set and Hollywood glitterati who have historically frequented Marbella?

The Penthouse by 3SA blends the perfect mix of discretion with sophistication, a shot of hyper personalisation, a small dash of opulance and a twist of modernity. The perfect cocktail for the discerning traveller.

19. What personal touches have been added to The Penthouse to make it feel like a home away from home?

We are delighted to tailor the entire Penthouse experience to every guests personal wishes making it a very special home away from home. For example The Penthouse can be filled with the guests favourite flowers to greet them as they arrive, a bar fully stocked with their preferred drinks, and a fridge brimming with the guests favourite treats. Then there is their own personal gym and private pool – The Penthouse truly is a home away from home.

20. How do you envision the future of luxury real estate in Marbella, and what role does The Penthouse play in that vision?

The Penthouse celebrates a new generation of exquisite ultra luxury real estate in Marbella and we are super proud to be launching it at a time when the market has a real appetite for this innovative type of property. 3SA Estate are also involved with another amazing project very close to The Penthouse that will be complete in two years which will also raise the bar and compliment this entire segment. It is a very exciting time here in Marbella and we are very much at the core of this new wave of innovation and inspirational in luxury design and hospitality.

So, if you’re dreaming of sun-soaked days, opulent surroundings and a seamless blend of indoor and outdoor living, The Penthouse by 3SA Estate awaits you.

Discover a new pinnacle of luxury on the stunning Marbella coast and make your next vacation an experience of a lifetime.

From the latest new restaurant openings, Instagramable events, cult buys and limited edition ranges, Anji McGrandles shares her edit of what’s hot right now.

This Summer’s Hottest Alfresco Dining Ticket

Feast on Cloud 9 returns to The Grove this summer and is set to be as popular as it was last year. Landing within the picturesque grounds of the luxury Hertfordshire hotel from 25th May until 1st September, the immersive dining pop-up will take guests on a culinary journey from the comfort of a custom-made hot air balloon. 

Guests can choose between afternoon tea or a nine-course tasting menu with optional wine pairings.  There’s a children’s tasting menu available for those aged 12 and under, delivering a gastronomic adventure to the tiniest of tastebuds.  Book your balloon now before it sells out.

Thailand’s Top Retreat

Aleenta Resorts in Thailand renowned for wellbeing has launched a series of retreats designed to help guests discover the benefits of positive solitude. 

Guiding guests to harness the positive effects of this vital ‘me time’ Aleenta Resorts offers a selection of wellness retreats across its three locations in Chiang Mai,  Phuket-Phang Nga and Hua Hin-Pranburi that provide a safe space and the tools to help people find head space.

The experiences have been created by the brand’s Ayurah Wellness Centre and each offers their own take on positive solitude with experiences that mirror local traditions and their location. 

All retreats start from THB 17,000 per night based on single occupancy and include accommodation, daily classes, wellness cuisine or cleansing program, health diagnostics, and a complimentary daily spa treatment. Book your spot here.

The Adaptogenic Smart Skin-Care Range

Perricone MD’s Hypoallergenic Clean Correction Collection is a new revolutionary regime formulated with powerful, plant-derived adaptogens for age-defying, sensitive skincare without compromise. 

With Holy Basil, Peptides, Ceramide, and a ton of other smart ingredients the range soothes and alleviates irritated skin, and protects against environmental aggressors while firming and smoothing skin. Shop the range here.

Limited Edition Curuba Elderflower Red Bull

Red Bull Summer Edition, Curuba – Elderflower, Peach Tea Ball cocktail still life, UK on February 8, 2024

New for summer is Red Bull Curuba Elderflower, with hints of passion fruit and peaches, this is a lighter, refreshing alternative to the original. 

The carefully crafted combination is rounded off with the floral notes of fresh elderflower, resulting in a zesty explosion of flavours, available only for the summer from leading supermarkets. RRP £1.55

Travel in Style

Luxury luggage brand Antler has launched its new Icon collection. Featuring three distinct silhouettes: the Icon Stripe suitcase, the Soft Stripe suitcase, and Discovery backpack, the Icon collection is a must-have accessory for a stylish getaway.

From £245, the collection spans across large, medium and cabin suitcase styles, as well as offering luggage tags, straps and packing cubes to complete your perfect travel companion. 

The Summer’s Most coveted SPF

If you are a fan of their yummy-smelling sprays and body creams you are going to love the newly launched Sol de Janeiro suncream range. The Rio Radiance collection combines Brazilian botanicals and active ingredients such as niacinamide.  

The SPF 50 mineral body lotion is lightweight yet moisturising.  As you would imagine it smells delicious, we are big fans because it doesn’t leave a greasy film, or a white residue unlike most mineral sunscreens.  Stock up for summer as this is going to fly off the shelves.  RRP £40.

The Shroom Boom Continues

DIRTEA brought us their functional mushroom teas and we loved them.  Now the brand has created a collection of gummies that pack a punch.  Each serving contains up to ten times the amount of functional mushrooms in comparison to the industry average.

Choose from, Lion’s Mane, Chaga, Cordyceps and Tremella, and level up your energy, skin, focus and sleep.  Don’t just take our word for it, DIRTEA has amassed a legion of high-profile brand fans, including Idris Elba, Charlotte Tilbury, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Rita Ora.  RRP £29.99 for 30 servings or £99.99 as a boxset available from DIRTEA.

The Cromlix Hotel may be owned by tennis superstar Andy Murray, but it’s a powerhouse in its own right. During a recent trip to Glasgow, our Editor-in-Chief, Laura Bartlett, checked in for an adventurous few days.

I had Andy Murray’s grandma’s biscuits for breakfast—a line I never thought I’d say until I checked into the Cromlix Hotel, owned by Andy Murray and his wife Kim. A warm welcome awaits from the second you step foot in the cosy lobby. Once inside your room, you’ll stumble across homemade shortbread biscuits made in-house using Andy’s grandma’s recipe. But this hotel is definitely not taking the biscuit; quite the opposite.

Adventure Awaits 

It all started with the unexpected pickup at the airport by 4×4 Adventures Scotland, one of the many excursions you can do when you’re staying at the hotel. I was whisked off to explore Loch Lomond behind the wheel of a Land Rover Discovery.

Being the undercover adrenaline junkie that I am, I relished the opportunity to get behind the wheel and dispel all rumours that women are bad drivers, pink fluffy heels optional. The day was spent riding shotgun with Ross, the founder of 4×4 Adventures, who has a natural ability to make you feel like you’re hanging out the side of your best friend’s ride!

With stop-offs along the way, it would be impossible not to fall in love with Loch Lomond at first sight. Nature has an incredible way of soothing even the harshest critics. With the adrenaline pumping, a lunch at The Loch Lomond Arms was the perfect stopgap before spending the rest of the afternoon onboard a yacht on Loch Lomond.

All of this fun, adventure and memory-making and I’d not even set foot in the Cromlix Hotel yet, but I already had a huge amount of respect for them. They really know how to give guests the true Scottish experience from the second you touch down in Glasgow.

Arrival at The Cromlix

Cromlix

From the road, to the water and then it was time for the land. Driving through the extensive driveway at The Cromlix, your breath will be halted when you catch a first glimpse of the property, standing tall and mighty at the top of the driveway.

Cromlix is a five-star luxury country house hotel set in 34 acres of private grounds and woodland in Stirlingshire, Scotland. Since Andy and Kim took over in 2013, the property has undergone extensive refurbishment to offer 15 botanically-inspired bedrooms and suites, each with unique views of the lush gardens and woodlands. The hotel’s prime location is just 49 minutes (to be precise) from Glasgow and an hour from Edinburgh, with the nearby Dunblane railway station providing easy access.  

Check in

When you arrive at Cromlix, rows of Barbour wellies welcome you, perfect for a stroll around the grounds. The check-in process is delightfully relaxed, with a glass of fizz (or water) offered as you settle into the giant sofas. The hotel features two pristine drawing rooms, a charming traditional chapel (yes, you read that right) and a garden room ideal for private dining.

The hallway leading to the back reveals a baby grand piano, while the upstairs billiards room, decorated in rich hunting lodge hues, features mounted stags and quirky accessories like ceramic pineapples and flamingo-shaped lamps, adding a touch of whimsy to the elegant setting.

Fun fact, my parents bought me a billiards table when I was a teenager so I became quite a pro at playing which was probably the reason why this room quickly became my favourite spot in the entire hotel. Well, that and it is also where the complimentary chocolates and sweets are on offer all day, everyday. 

The Turret Suite 

Growing up, my family mantra was always ‘only the best for the best,’ and that sentiment was evident as I was shown to my Turret Suite, the best room in the house. The anticipation builds as you’re guided through the beautifully decorated hallways to your room, where luxury and comfort await in equal measure.

As you walk through the hotel, you’ll be captivated by the decor. Each of the bedrooms and suites is named after local flowers and herbs, adding a unique touch to the décor. The interiors, designed by Suzanne Garuda, blend traditional elegance with modern boutique style, incorporating rich fabrics, eclectic patterns and nature-inspired wall coverings to create a warm, welcoming and stylish retreat. Every corner of the hotel sparks conversation, as the eclectic and bold designs captivate even those with a penchant for beige.

Entering this suite is like walking into your own dedicated wing at the hotel. With an artwork-clad hallway leading to your own private living room, expansive bathroom (hello freestanding silver bath of dreams) and finally, where the magic happens in the huge bedroom.

And by magic, I mean sleep, because I had the best night’s sleep I’ve had in months, two nights on the bounce. Way to show my age, when a good night sleep is a talking point. Slipping into the large bed was like disappearing off to a different dimension. Gone are the days when a boozy night out would be something I would discuss with my peers and welcome to the days where a comfy bed and Egyptian cotton is what we class as riveting conversation. Truthfully, I wouldn’t want it any other way. 

As the name suggests, the Turret Suite features two charming turrets cleverly furnished as cosy reading corners. One of these overlooks the Cromlix tennis court, where you might even catch a glimpse of Andy Murray himself playing.

I’ve been fortunate enough to stay in some of the world’s most exclusive hotels, from suites overlooking iconic landmarks to rooms with hefty price tags. Yet, I’d go as far as to say that The Cromlix has winged its way into my top ten hotels of all time. Its unique blend of luxury, charm and Scottish heritage is truly unparalleled. 

Food Glorious Food

Passion seeps through every single bite, and having met award-winning Executive Head Chef Darin Campbell personally, who honed his skills under top chef Andrew Fairlie at Gleneagles Hotel, it was no surprise. The Glasshouse Restaurant, housed in the glass-walled conservatory overlooking the grounds, offers a dining experience that is both exquisite and memorable.

During my stay, I dined at the restaurant for two nights—one night choosing from the à la carte menu and the other night indulging in the tasting menu. Each dish was an incredible journey of flavours, complemented by the stunning garden views at sunset and the enthusiastic, knowledgeable staff. As someone who is sober, I appreciated the availability of alcohol-free wine and fizz alternatives, which is a rare and thoughtful touch.

The sushi roll with grilled tiger prawn and miso taramasalata was a standout, followed by the Beetroot & Herb Cavatelli with a rich caviar broth. The Glazed Pork Cheeks were succulent, paired perfectly with garlic potato and apple caramel sauce. Each course was a masterpiece, culminating in the Valrhona Dulcey Chocolate dessert that was as visually stunning as it was delicious.

Just reminiscing on this meal is making my mouth water all over again, every bite was faultless and it really showed off the talents of the chef and his team. Each dish takes you on an unforgettable journey through Scotland’s landscape.

Breakfast in The Glasshouse is equally impressive, featuring high-quality juices, yoghurts, meats and cheeses, followed by menu options like creamy whisky porridge brûlée, vegan stacks of mushroom, tomato and avocado, the full Scottish breakfast, or Eggs Cromlix with hollandaise sauce. Regretfully, I didn’t indulge in any haggis but that’s the perfect excuse for me to revisit. 

So, whilst I know absolutely nothing about tennis (sorry Andy), I can wholeheartedly say that, when it comes to The Cromlix hotel, I LOVE it. 

Luckily, a stay here will be much better than my tennis puns.

Price tag 

Rates for the hotel are from £315 per room, on a bed and breakfast basis.

House of Coco’s wellness editor Anji McGrandles uncovers the hidden gems of S’Agaró, Catalonia’s best-kept secret nestled between Barcelona and Girona on the stunning Costa Brava coast

Situated on the Costa Brava coast, sandwiched between Barcelona and Girona is S’Agaró, Catalonia’s best kept secret that promises an unforgettable escape. This exclusive garden village is home to some of Spain’s most sought-after villas.  Built in the 1920’s it hugs the renowned Cami de Ronda coastal trail and boasts breathtaking views of the Mediterranean Sea and golden sands of Sant Pol beach.  At the heart of S’Agaró is the elegant Hostal de La Gavina, the region’s most glamorous, exclusive hotel which I checked into for the weekend.

The region offers an abundance of pristine beaches, Michelin Star restaurants and natural beauty without the crowds.   Its easily accessible, just one hour drive from Barcelona and 30 minutes from Girona and what makes this a fabulous getaway is you can easily explore both vibrant cities while making this tranquil retreat your base, its perfect for those seeking a blend of relaxation, culture, and stunning scenery.

While Barcelona is a popular Spanish city break, I recommend you spend time getting to know glorious Girona.  This stunning, quieter and more compact city packs a punch when it comes to architecture, history, food and drink. 

I arrived in Girona at the end of Temps de Flors, Girona’s flower festival that sees the streets come alive with colour each May. The city is a carpet of colourful, delicate flowers with beautiful blooms decorating gates and doorways.

Girona has a new and an old town, divided by the Onyar River. Several small bridges connect the two districts, the most famous is the bright red bridge built by Alexandre Gustave Eiffel (who also built the Eiffel Tower in Paris). Grab a coffee and one of the city’s most famous breakfast pastries, Xuixo de Crema (pronounced choo choo), a traditional Catalan pastry, that’s crisp on the outside and stuffed with an irresistible creamy filling.  Sit on one of the cute bridges, enjoy your Xuixo de Crema and take in the charming colourful town houses that are dotted along the river.

There’s so much history in this pretty city and the best way to explore it is a walking tour.  Discover filming locations from Game of Thrones, boutique shops and the city’s striking cathedral.   It’s also a gastronomic destination, and if you want to uncover all the hidden gems while trying some of the tastiest local delicacies then book an evening walking tour with Girona Food Tours.  Enjoy the freshest seafood at L’Arros or indulge in something sweet at Jordi Roca’s Willy Wonka style gelato, Rocambolesc.  Afterwards make a pit stop at Sol Gastrobar in the ‘Wine Square’ for a cold glass or Albariño.   If you are looking for fancy dining there’s 12 Michelin star restaurants in and around the area, the most famous of these is the three-starred El Celler de Can Roca, run by the Roca brothers. 

During a visit to S’Agaró it is impossible not to be swept up in the silent glamour and history of Hostal de La Gavina, built in 1932, it still has some of the original features, artwork and furniture.  There are so many stories seeped into the walls of the hotel, guests like Ava Gardner, Elizabeth Taylor, Frank Sinatra, Jack Nickolson and more recently Lady Gaga have all stayed here. 

The hotel beautifully marries an eclectic mix of opulence and hacienda finca.  As soon as you enter the sweeping reception area you are greeted with polished marble floors, high ceilings, rich dark wood furnishings and showstopping floral arrangements.  Each of the 75 rooms and suites are uniquely designed all in line with rest of the hotel’s chic style.

Hostal de La Gavina is also home to four restaurants, Candlelight, which is overseen by Michelin-starred Chef Romain Fornell and spearheaded by Sous Chef Oriol Fernandez, is renowned for its innovative dishes.  Fernandez, a protege of Alain Ducasse, brings his passion and creativity to the table serving exquisite haute cuisine.   Garbi, which offers healthy Mediterranean dishes is perfect for lunch, here you can retreat from the sun and sample a spectacular Paella and a glass of the local wine.   El Barco, is home to a beautiful outdoor terrace and serves an a la carte menu of seasonal tapas.  Just a two-minute walk, perched on the beach is La Taverna del Mar, famed for its locally caught seafood served on the water’s edge.  Expect plump pink langoustines, delicate sea bass in salt and juicy mussels served in a rich marinera sauce.  El Barco bar is a cute snug, where Ava Gardner and Frank Sinatra had a showdown after he flew out to Spain amid rumours swirling of her affair with a bull fighter.  It’s great for a late-night tipple or signature cocktail.

For those who love water sports you can head to Sant Pol beach just below the hotel and try out paddleboarding, water skiing and kayaking.  The hotel can also arrange for you to try some local excursions.  I’d recommend booking the boat trip with husband and wife duo Clara and Jaume at La Gastronomica.  This three-hour journey along the Costa Brava coast is a great way to learn more about the region’s food and wine.  Clara, a sommelier has an infectious passion for everything local and along with chef, Jaume they showcase the simplest, freshest ingredients onboard the boat dishing up one of the most delicious brunches I have ever had. Local cheeses, octopus and chickpea stew are served alongside a delicate white Grenache from Empordà.   The boat stops off at a wonderful cove where you can swim, sunbathe, snorkel or paddle surf. 

This year marks the 100th anniversary of S’Agaró and to celebrate there are a series of events being held from May 2024 – February 2025.  There will be exhibitions, a regatta, concerts and a firework display amongst other celebrations, so its worth checking out what’s happening if you plan to visit.

S’Agaró is a standout Spanish destination that delivers the perfect blend of natural splendour, cultural richness and laid back charm. So, pack your bags and discover this enchanting corner of the Costa Brava – where the Mediterranean meets a sense of timeless tranquility.

Book Hostal de la Gavina here.  Rates start from €280 (approx. £239) per night for a Classic Room, including breakfast.

Dimple Thakrar is a beacon of transformation and spiritual enlightenment. As a bestselling author and renowned spiritual guide, she has dedicated her life to helping others reconnect with their true selves and unlock their fullest potential.

Through her profound insights, captivating storytelling, and powerful healing practices, Dimple guides individuals on a journey of self-discovery and empowerment. Her unique blend of ancient wisdom and modern-day strategies has touched countless lives, making her a sought-after speaker on global platforms, including impactful podcasts and the prestigious Tony Robbins Impact Podcast. Dive into Dimple’s world and be inspired by her unwavering belief in the miracles that are available to us all.

Dimple, your journey seems incredibly transformative. Could you walk us through the pivotal moment when you reconnected your soul to your human body and how it influenced your path as a bestselling author and spiritual guide?

The moment Tony Robbins looked at me and said, “I see the love in you that you don’t see yet. It’s the reason I have spent so long with you today!” was the exact moment my heart chakra blew wide open and I allowed love in! It was the moment I allowed others, especially men, to see me.

This resulted in me becoming obsessed with saving my marriage and learning how to support other entrepreneurial couples in creating balance and outstanding relationships. It led to me developing my birth-given spiritual healing skills and channeling my bestselling book, The Roadmap to Purpose.

You’ve been featured on various impactful podcasts, each with its unique audience and focus. How do you tailor your message to resonate with diverse listeners, especially when discussing profound topics like love, peace, truth, and karma?

I don’t worry about the how; I focus on the why and then trust the words that are channeled through me. My primary focus and the one question I ask all my hosts is: Who is your audience, and what is their why? I trust in my knowledge, heart, and strength to raise love consciousness in the world. This is my big ‘why,’ and so when I focus on my why and the audience’s why, the magic just flows. I also trust that whoever is meant to receive this message will receive the exact words through me in their exact divine timing.

The Tony Robbins Impact Podcast is a platform with a global reach. Can you share with us how your experience on the show has shaped your perspective on personal development and reaching a wider audience?

It made it human. It made the stardom thing just disappear. We all deal with the same stuff. The key is: Can we navigate this world in love and joy no matter what life throws at us? The privilege of the podcast was mutual for me and Tony. It meant we had mutual respect for each other in an equal but very different way. The podcast also provided social proof for those who needed it of my brilliance and was super fun to do.

Your work seems to emphasize the intersection of ancient wisdom and modern-day challenges. How do you bridge the gap between ancient spiritual practices and contemporary life for your audience?

I don’t make them different. To me, they are the same. Woo-woo meets practical life; spirit meets strategy—they are all one to me. So, I call on people’s everyday experiences by explaining mine through storytelling to provide evidence that the human mind needs to convince themselves that they indeed use ancient wisdom to navigate their modern-day ‘challenges’ (I prefer to swap out challenges with opportunities).

The concept of “The Portal” sounds intriguing. Can you delve deeper into what it entails and how individuals can access their soul’s purpose, relationships, manifesting, and the quantum through this platform?

Now this is where the journey begins and all the juice is. The Portal and The Portal Ascension are containers that include my exact methods on not only how to delve deeper into your soul’s purpose but also how to clear all the blocks that we sabotage ourselves with in the past through energy healing!

“Miracles are possible and available for you.” This statement is powerful. Could you share a personal anecdote or a client’s story where this belief in miracles transformed their life in unexpected ways?

Absolutely! I had a client who lived in Australia, and I am UK-based. During our first telephone call, I had no idea about her medical condition. Within minutes of being on the phone with her, I felt a massive block in her back and told her she had a debilitating block in her lower back. We did a 45-minute audio healing session, and I felt my back pop—and so did she. After 15 years of experiencing back pain, where she was bed-bound and immobile and the doctors had explored all tests and couldn’t find an organic reason, she had no pain and started to walk again! She came to me initially because she wanted children but was fearful of the pain. Nine months later, she sent me a photo of her healthy newborn boy—conceived on the first try and very happy. Last week, at my Abundant You event, one woman who had suffered from hip pain and struggled to walk experienced no pain and could put her leg behind her head. Another lady who had a locked jaw for years was completely free of the jaw pain. Another lady cried as she felt her heart open and she cried with feeling love. These are miracles available to us all.

Quantumind appears to be a transformative program for impact-driven leaders. What inspired you to create this container, and what unique elements does it offer compared to other personal development programs?

OMG, this program is for those who believe in miracles and that they are available to them and want to expand in this area. It’s not your standard mastermind but more of a rocket ship to the land of the unknown where courageous, heart-centered souls hang out. If you can let go of needing to know all the details about Quantumind and trust your intuition, then this is the place for you! Like all my containers, they are inspired by listening to my intuition and noticing the gaps in the market for my audience. Many want to work with me one-to-one, but it is just not accessible for them, and so this is a great way to not only have a powerful community but also access group one-to-one and two one-to-one sessions with me.

You mentioned that Quantumind is not for the faint of heart. Can you elaborate on the level of commitment and dedication required from participants, and what they can expect in terms of accelerated transformation?

When you expand into the quantum, it requires a degree of belief in the unknown. Some call it blind faith—this is the piece that is not for the faint of heart. You have to be able to believe, without a shadow of a doubt, in your wildest dreams before you see evidence of them in this 3D world we call reality. The level of commitment to this way of living has to be 100%, and this is the level of commitment and dedication needed—100% All IN. Participants can expect all their wildest dreams—meeting their soulmates, creating financial abundance through loving what they do, unconditional happiness, soul-aligned work—really anything they dare to desire and dream possible for them and more.

Basic understanding of Quantum Physics seems to be a prerequisite for joining Quantumind. How do you simplify complex scientific concepts to make them accessible and relevant to individuals who may not have a background in physics?

I use many methods to simplify Quantum Physics in my Portal container. Physics does not have to be a prerequisite, but having faith in miracles and magic does. The reason I ask for Quantum Physics to be a prerequisite is because we move fast in Quantuminds. There is no time to convince people or teach the basics; that is available in The Portal or by attending one of my day seminars, Abundant You.

Energy healing is often met with skepticism in mainstream society. How do you address skeptics within your community, and what evidence or experiences do you offer to support the efficacy of energy healing practices?

I ask the skeptics: How do bones heal? How does your headache suddenly disappear when something more pressing takes your attention? Evidence: My dad’s healing from stage-four cancer in his bones and lymph nodes healed within six weeks with only two energy healing sessions and palliative care medication. His PSA blood levels went from 129 (this is very high) to 0 (this is normal). Doctors couldn’t believe it. They told him he had six months to live, and that was three years ago. He is cancer- and symptom-free. The doctors call him a miracle.

Your invitation to Quantumind emphasizes being heart-led and open to accelerated transformation. How do you cultivate a supportive and nurturing environment within the program to facilitate such profound shifts?

Simple, I lead with heart and stories of accelerated transformation in my life. I lead by example and become an energetic match for these qualities in the program.

Can you share some success stories from previous participants of Quantumind, highlighting the tangible outcomes they achieved in their work, home, and love lives after completing the program?

Without permission, this would not be possible as this is a safe, private space. However, if you need this evidence first before you join, this is not the place for you. The idea is that you trust in yourself and your power to create whatever it is you desire.

Dimple Thakrar

The power of the collective mind is emphasized in Quantumind. How do you harness the collective energy and intelligence of the group to amplify individual growth and breakthroughs?

By sharing stories and allowing self-support and group leadership. No hand-holding but pure trust in everyone’s power to lead themselves and others.

Clear goal-setting seems to be crucial for those joining Quantumind. How do you help participants clarify their goals and align them with their soul’s purpose and desires?

Clear goals are developed over the six months and are constantly changing. Most enter with clear goals, and they always evolve.

Your website mentions a “6-month container for impact-driven leaders ready to 10x every area of their lives.” What specific strategies or tools do you employ to facilitate such exponential growth within a relatively short time frame?

One word—Quantum. Because there is no time in the quantum. Therefore, things that would take years in the 3D world take no time in the quantum. It will seem like magic! I would highly recommend people attend my Abundant You seminar. The next one is on September 16th in London if they would love to understand Quantum Principles more.

The journey you offer through Quantumind seems profound and potentially life-altering. How do you support participants in integrating the insights and transformations gained during the program into their everyday lives beyond the six-month container?

I will let you know when we get to the six months

Honestly, so far, there is no need for integration because this is who they are. It’s a new identity, a way of being. They can’t go back to their old lives because it is unrecognizable.

For individuals considering joining Quantumind, what advice would you offer to help them prepare mentally, emotionally, and spiritually for the journey ahead?

No preparation is needed other than to trust your intuition and understand the principles of quantum physics—aka you believe you are the creator of your destiny.

As a bestselling author, you’ve likely encountered various perspectives on personal growth and spirituality. How do you navigate differing beliefs and opinions within your community while staying true to your own teachings and principles?

I honor and respect all people’s right to have their opinion and beliefs, and I choose to have mine. I live by mine, and how others live is none of my goddamn business. Living with love for all is my core principle. Do things that upset me? Yes, I am human, but I don’t blame others. I see it as a mirror for where I need to grow next, and I thank them for the opportunity to grow.

Dimple Thakrar

Your work seems deeply rooted in the belief that everyone has the potential to manifest a life beyond their wildest dreams. How do you help individuals overcome limiting beliefs and unlock their full potential?

Energy healing to clear subconscious beliefs that are often stuck in their bodies.

Our readers love to travel. What destination is at the top of your bucket list?

The Great Wall of China and Borneo.

Lastly, what does living a life beyond one’s wildest dreams mean to you personally, and how has your own journey shaped your understanding of this concept?

I thrive in the unknown. I surrender to control and the need to know, and I trust in the unexpected and firmly believe I am always safe and protected. It’s how I healed my marriage from the brink of divorce to extraordinary in months, how my hubby healed himself from cancer with no treatment, how I created seven figures in my mentor and healing business in 15 months, and how I met people like Dr. Joe Dispenza through manifesting to meeting in 10 days (full story on my podcast Beyond the Words).

Where can people follow you and find out more?

Visit www.Dimpleglobal.com.

Want to experience the quantum yourself? Join me at my live show in London: Abundant You.

For more inspiring stories and transformative journeys, dive into House of Coco and discover the endless possibilities waiting for you.