I used to be a travel writer. In fact, I used to be the travel editor for Conde Nast Brides magazine, which meant that it was my job to test out the best honeymoon suites in the best hotels in the best destinations on the planet. And to answer your question, the question that everyone asked when I told them what I did, yes, it was the best job in the world. Not only did you get to stay in hotels that you could never in your wildest dreams afford to stay in, you got to stay in hotels that no-one (with the exception of Hollywood stars, hedge funders and childless city types) could afford to stay in. But before you swear wildly at me and log off, never to return again, there were downsides. It didn’t pay very much. Enough to get by, but not much more. It spoiled me for life (and yes, I do hear the world’s tiniest violin playing). I didn’t get to stay that long in the hotel. Usually two nights. Sometimes three. Hardly ever more. And, I don’t do it anymore. Well, only on occasion. You see, it’s not a job that’s particularly compatible with having young children. It is possible. Some of the best travel editors in the world have children, but I am far too much of a soft touch to be away from them for too long at the moment (I’ve just been asked to go to Vietnam for a week, I said no). Also, there’s the issue of childcare. When you’re not a salaried travel writer, you’re only earning a tiny fee, which basically means that you’re paying to go away.
Anyway, the short and long of it is (and this post is getting a bit too long) that I do know about travel. The second question I was always asked (after is it the best job in the world?) was where shall I go on holiday? And so, I shall tell you. Perhaps not exactly where to go on holiday (although I will mention a few a-may-zing places), as this is such a personal decision based on your own likes, dislikes, finances etc etc etc. But, I shall tell you really good places to look online, great companies to book with and yes, a few of my personal favourites. So, lets start with five excellent online places to look for accommodation. Hope it helps. If you have any questions, then do ask me. We’re new, I’m not being emailed 500 times a day, I’ll have time to answer. Happy (thinking about) holidays!
If I was going away. Either on holiday or for a night or for a long weekend. I would look for inspiration with these companies…. Chic Retreats is a collection of super-stylish boutique hotels across the world. Founded by the brilliant Lulu Townsend, these hotels are universally gorgeous (and some very well-priced). She is great. I trust her judgement and her taste implicitly.
Alistair Sawday: The master of the secret too-good-to-be-true find. He has published a whole library of books ranging from the best pubs to the best bed & breakfasts, best self-catering and dog-friendly breaks. I’ve just recommended his gorgeous Canopy & Stars guide to a friend.
I-Escape.com: The great thing about I-Escape is the reviews. They’re really on the money. Whilst I always think of them for international destinations (featuring hotels and self-catering), their UK section is really good. There’s nothing really surprising there, but it provides great inspiration. Even better for abroad.
Mr & Mrs Smith: Yes, you probably know this one. They’re a big name in the world of boutique chic hotels. But you know what, they deserve it. They’ve got good taste. Great taste. About the time that Mr&MrsSmith were getting their act together to launch, a friend and I were thinking about doing the very same thing. Boutique hotels for romantic weekends away. Except we were far too lazy/stupid/slow (delete as appropriate) to actually do it. Mr & Mrs Smith. It could have been meeeeee!
Baby Friendly Boltholes: I didn’t have this idea, but I wish I had. Such an excellent concept – baby friendly accommodation which doesn’t scrimp on style. So simple. So brilliant. So many clever little sub-sections – toddler friendly, beach retreats etc – it’s the perfect baby travel website.