Rome is one of the most spectacular capital cities in the world. It’s steeped in culture and history and no matter where you turn there’s something interesting to look at. Its ancient ruins are amazingly well preserved and the beauty of its churches is unsurpassed. Modern Rome has 280 fountains and more than 900 churches!
I don’t know about you, but the first thing I wanted to show my kids in Rome was the Colosseum, so I’ll recommend beginning your first day in Rome here. There are lots of tours and ticket options for visiting the Colosseum and you can choose the one that suits you and your family best. However a skip the line ticket of some sort is definitely worth buying.
We took a family friendly guided tour of the Colosseum and the Forum. This was really informative and our guide was great with the kids. The Colosseum doesn’t disappoint. It’s an incredible structure and your eyes can’t help but be drawn to it.
Your ticket to the Colosseum will also include entry to the Forum and Palatine Hill. Here you’ll find the spectacular ruins of ancient temples, palaces and baths – a great way to get a glimpse of roman history.
Vatican City and St Peter’s Basilica
Vatican City is the world’s smallest state and is the centre of Catholicism. Visiting the Vatican means crossing an international border, but you don’t need your passport. Getting skip the line tickets is recommended.
The Vatican Museums themselves are stuffed to the gills with treasures collected over hundreds of years. The wealth on display is quite staggering. The Sistine Chapel is one of the most famous things to see here and you shouldn’t miss it.
St Peter’s Basilica is also incredible. Linked to the Vatican by a doorway from the Sistine Chapel, this was our last stop on our Vatican visit. A great thing to do is the climb the steps to the top of the dome to get a fantastic view over Rome. Remember that you need to cover your shoulders and knees or you won’t be allowed in.
This amazing looking castle sits on the riverside and has a statue lined bridge to reach it. It’s a former papal fortress and a secret tunnel connects the Castel to the Vatican. The Castel has a long and bloody history which you can learn about in its large museum. The views from the terrace are also fabulous.
Tickets from €10.50 per adult.
Although it’s an ancient Roman building, the Pantheon has been a Christian church for centuries.
The Pantheon was designed by the Emperor Hadrian around 120 AD. It’s one of ancient Rome’s best preserved buildings and gives you an idea of what some of those ruins at the Forum must have looked like long ago.
Outside, the pillared entrance is imposing but the interior is a real surprise – there is a huge domed ceiling. Covered in decorated cloisters, the ceiling has a hole, or oculus, in the middle, letting the sunshine (or the rain) in. The artist Raphael is buried here so make sure you find his tomb.
Villa Borghese and its gardens
You’ll find the Borghese Gardens just up the hill from the Spanish Steps. If you turn left at the Spanish Steps you can get a great view over Rome before you explore the gardens. Even in winter the gardens were green and pretty, and the kids found a carousel to ride on which kept them happy.
There’s loads to explore in the gardens – you can ride a boat on the lake or try to catch a show at the replica of Shakespeare’s Globe. There is a Biopark (zoo) and hiring bikes is the best way to get around the park.
The Villa Borghese itself is now an art gallery with works by Raphael, Caravaggio and Titian and is highly recommended. Tickets for Villa Borghese gallery must be reserved in advance. Cost is from €22 per adult.
Every night at the Trevi fountain about 3000 euros are swept up from the bottom of the basin. The money is donated to a catholic charity who uses the money to provide services for needy families in Rome. The kids enjoyed throwing the obligatory coins into the water. Looks like we’ll be coming back to Rome!
The Spanish Steps is a famous meeting place for Romans and there’s a pretty fountain at the base. If you’re going to the Borghese gardens then you’ll be going right past it.Nearby the streets are filled with designer shops, so if shopping is your thing, this is the place to come!
Day trips from Rome
Other possible day trips include the ruined city of Pompeii or the Amalfi Coast. If you’re feeling really brave and you’re up for a long day, you could even try visiting Florence.
Where to stay:
- Hotel d’Inghilterra Rome : Conveniently located near the Piazza di Spagna and Via Condotti www.starhotelscollezione.com
- Hotel de Russie, Rome: One of the most prestigious luxury hotels next to Piazza del Popolo. roccofortehotels.com
Where to eat:
- Al Fredo alla Scrofa Restaurant –don’t miss the famous Fetuccine alfredo.
- Tartufi and friends for truffle lovers.
- Ginger Sapori e Salute for brunch and panini sandwiches on the go!
- Zuma Rome inside the iconic Palazzo Fendi.
Spanish mornings in Seville!
One of Spain’s most prestigious hotels, Hotel Alfonso XIII – A Luxury Collection Hotel is located next to Seville’s Real Alcazares. It offers an outdoor swimming pool, gym and a typical garden courtyard with fountain.
The Alfonso XIII’s elegant design includes Arabic-style arches and ceramic tiles. Rooms are individually decorated and feature air conditioning, a minibar, bathrobe and slippers. Each room has a mini fridge with drinks and snacks. Free internet is also available.
Hotel Alfonso XIII – A Luxury Collection Hotel offers casual al fresco dining in its Taifas Restaurant next to the swimming pool. Sweet snacks are available, as well as beers and wines. The San Fernando restaurant is located in the Andalusian-style courtyard and serves traditional local dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
There is also a terrace set next to the courtyard, as well as the elegant Bar Americano cocktail bar.
Set on the edge of the historic Santa Cruz district, hotel is within 300 m of Seville Cathedral and the Giralda. The Torre de Oro and the banks of the River Guadalquivir are just 100 m away.
Old town is a great choice for travellers interested in architecture, atmosphere and tapas.
Treehotel: A unique Swedish adventure!
10 things you should know about the Treehotel :
1. You can get to the Treehotel by taking a one-hour flight from Stockholm to Lulea airport.
2. Treehotel has been voted best family hotel in the world!
3. It comprises of seven tree- rooms and a guest house. All rooms are equipped with WIFI.
4. The action-packed dog-sled tour is a must activity.
5. The restaurant menu comprises of wild game and local fish such as dear, moose and perch.
6. It is one of the best places to experience the captivating northern lights phenomenon.
7. The snowmobile safari has a liberating feeling just like surfing or riding a motorbike.
8. Kent, the owner is the best guide for your lake fishing trip!
9. The idea of the treehouse came after shooting for the film ‘The tree lover’. A philosophical story about the significance of trees for us, human beings.
10. The aim behind the treehouse is to offer a high-standard accommodation in a harmonious place where daily stress melts away.
With gratitude, T.
Saint James : The only chateau -hotel in Paris!
Euphoria retreat: A transformation journey!
Euphoria retreat is a holistic wellbeing destination spa that invites you to a personal journey of transformation following an authentic healing philosophy in a unique cultural and historical location: The Unesco –protected town of Mystras in mythical Peloponnese.
We were recommended not to drink coffee, alcohol or use our mobile phones while we were experiencing our personal transformation journey at the Euphoria retreat.
And even though it seemed difficult at the beginning, the lovely alternatives offered by the Euphoria –like the herbal tea experience- made us change our minds.
No phones were needed when we had a light bio lunch at the Gaia restaurant and certainly not needed when we entered the unique pool and spa and enjoyed one of the most relaxing massage by awarded therapists.
We had to capture a few pictures though of the magical Mystras castle during our morning trekking ritual and a glass of local red wine at night at the highly recommended tavern in Mystras called ‘Chromata’ ! An experience not to be missed.
Brach Paris: Modern romanticism!
Philippe Starck is best known for his distinctive approach to design. The French designer, architect and creator has plenty of experience when it comes to designing interiors, having already created some of the world’s best, including the Hudson Paramount in NYC and Le Meurice Hotel in France. Quite recently, Starck extended his hospitality resumé by designing the Brach Hotel, which opened this month in Paris!
“My hotels aren’t based on any particular cultural, fashion, or architectural aesthetic. I create mental spaces, emotional surprises, and enigmas. A successful hotel today is a contrast between the purely emotional and purely functional.” – Philippe Starck
Brach is situated in the 16th arrondissement neighbouring the Trocadéro, Eiffel Tower and Passy market. All the emotions and possibilities of a place brimming with positive energy for locals and travellers alike.
“Brach is all about the period when the Dadaists, surrealists, and architects like Le Corbusier discovered Africa and what would later be known as art brut,” disclosed Starck. “It’s Bauhaus modernism with African wonder. The Brach could be Pierre Jeanneret’s, Charlotte Perriand’s or Mallet-Stevens’s place, with a nod to Pierre Chareau’s glass house—it just might spark up the revival of this very staid part of the 16th,” concluded the French creator.
The hotel is comprised of 52 guest rooms and seven suites. Due to the rooms’ massive high structure, Strack was able to play with volume, installing unreachable decorative shelves with eclectic displays of books, photos, and African masks. Inspirations based on the work of Le Corbusier, the renowned French-Swiss architect and designer, can be seen especially in the furniture and room fixtures.
Lastly, the hotel also highlights plenty of other amenities such as a fitness centre, two pools, a bar, a pastry shop managed by Yann Brys and an extraordinary Mediterranean restaurant. On the rooftop, guests can benefit from a 4,300-square-foot vegetable garden, a deck and a jacuzzi.
This is an amazing and benevolent living patchwork, creating a lifestyle to fulfil every dream!
Baccarat Hotel New York : Contemporary Sophistication
With a classic Parisian elegance combined with the contemporary aesthetic of a midtown Manhattan location the Baccarat hotel & Residences creates a truly unique guest experience that cannot be replicated anywhere else!
The impressive interiors from the renowned Gilles and Bossier display exceptional style and unparalleled sophistication and its mission is to offer perfection of service that matches Baccarat’s perfection in the production of Crystal.
The hotel is conveniently located in Midtown, directly across from MoMA , Fifth Avenue’s museum Mile and numerous fashion boutiques. It boasts 114 luxe rooms and suites, 15,000 iridescent crystal pieces, 17 striking custom chandeliers and the first spa by La Mer in the US!
Parisian art connoisseur Frederic Chambre spent eighteen months in Paris auction houses seeking extraordinary pieces for Baccarat New York. The resulting collection spanning from important movements over the past 250 years is eclectic: paintings, photography, one of a kind furniture that can be found throughout the hotel, all uniquely suited to Baccarat.
The Grand Salon restaurant at Baccarat is open morning to night, serving breakfast pastries, afternoon tea and evening champagne in exquisite surroundings crowned by a majestic chandelier. The glitzy Bar next door suggests the hotel’s signature cocktail ‘Le Roi’ made with Nolet’s Reserve Gin and grapefruit zest which served in Baccarat’s iconic Massen Coupe for $375!!
In the summer, one can enjoy the intimate and elegant Bar Terrace overlooking MoMa while in the winter the cosy wood-panelled Petit Salon is the perfect spot to indulge into a glass of champagne.
Beyond the exceptional artwork , Baccarat hotel also commissioned 11 extraordinary new york artists to incorporate ten iconic Baccarat Harcourt glasses into art. These distinct and ingenious pieces are displayed in radiant vitrines in the doorways of the suites underlining the Baccarat lifestyle!
This lavish addition in Midtown Manhattan undoubtly represents limitless luxury, innovation and hospitality at its finest!
With gratitude, T.
Quote of the month : September 2018
Gleneagles- Family Luxury in the Scottish Highlands!
Inspired by Gleneagles’ roaring twenties heritage, the quintessentially British hotel is reaffirming its position as a leading luxury destination after a multi-million pound
investment project by new owner Ennismore.
Since opening its doors in June 1924, Gleneagles has been one of Scotland’s
most iconic hotels and sporting estates. Set beneath the Ochil Hills, in the heart of
Perthshire, it has been the must-go destination for travellers for nearly a century.
Beginning its life in the glamorous age of travel when guests arrived in great style
at Gleneagles’ very own train station, the 850-acre estate epitomises the natural
beauty for which Scotland is famed. With its glorious playground of country
pursuits and activities, the hotel is reclaiming its position on the social calendar.
The Glorious Playground
Gleneagles is an authentically Scottish experience, a destination for unparalleled fun
and adventure in one of the most luxurious and beautiful settings imaginable. There
are few places in the world that offer the same breadth of opportunities and activities
as Gleneagles. Beginning its life in the glamorous age of travel when guests arrived
in great style at Gleneagles’ very own train station, the 850-acre estate epitomises the
natural beauty for which Scotland is famed.
Three distinct and challenging championship courses have established Gleneagles’
world-class reputation in golf but it is the glorious playground of other sports, country
pursuits, culinary experiences and luxury hospitality that truly sets Gleneagles apart.
Whether you come to play 18 holes, fly a Harris Hawk, ride horses, play tennis, go
off-roading, train gundogs, shoot game, fish, enjoy Michelin-starred dining, or relax in
an award-winning spa, Gleneagles is a golf experience, sporting estate and five-star
country hotel like no other.
A new modern country style
To realise this vision, Gleneagles has enlisted the skills and expertise of some of the
UK’s most acclaimed designers including David Collins Studio, Timorous Beasties,
Macaulay Sinclair, Goddard Littlefair and Ennismore’s own in-house design studio –
with the aim to create designs and spaces that celebrate the rich, glamorous heritage
and beautiful architecture for which the hotel is famed.
Bedrooms and suites
The hotel comprises 232 luxury bedrooms and suites. The bedrooms are being
enhanced with beautiful detailing, fabrics and craftsmanship to create the feel of
a warm country estate by Goddard Littlefair. The team has also created intimate
corridors to link the hotel spaces together – with antique Persian patterns and special
herringbone wall coverings with bespoke lanterns highlighting room numbers. The
rooms and suites celebrate the stories of Gleneagles’ past through specially-curated
furnishings, antiques and art.
The new design of The Royal Lochnagar, the hotel’s royal suite, was completed by the
Ennismore Design Studio and exudes the grandeur and elegance one expects, but
without the stiff formality often associated with the highest tier of hotel suites. The
designers’ vision for the 170m2 space was to create an opulent, charming and relaxing
space, which would feel at once glamourous and homely – reflecting the atmosphere
of the public spaces within the hotel, as well as the warm Scottish hospitality for which
Gleneagles is renowned.
Other suite categories include Estate Suites, Whisky Suites and Spirit Suites. Signature
suites include the stately Royal Lochnagar Suite and the more contemporary Blue
Tower Suite – both of which have been refurbished.
To Drink and Dine
Gleneagles is a social hotel, a place where people dream of going to have some
fun. The new design means there’s even more spaces where guests can mingle, relax
and better enjoy the dramatic views of the Perthshire countryside whilst creating a
welcoming environment that feels more akin to a home or a private club than a hotel.
There is nowhere that exemplifies the hotel’s style better than in its restaurants and
bars. There is something for everyone – from relaxed Clubhouse lunches to Michelinstarred fine dining.
A World of Pursuits
Gleneagles offers the perfect retreat for those looking for authentic relaxation, fun and
adventure. It has an unrivalled range of pursuits including over 50 outdoor activities,
led by a passionate team of experts who are truly the leaders in their field. Guests
can try their hand at falconry with Harris Hawks; horse riding in the state-of-the-art
equestrian centre; indoor and outdoor tennis; off-roading; cycling; gundog training;
extensive clay pigeon, game shooting and archery; ferret racing; fly fishing; and an
award-winning spa. Located just one hour from Glasgow and Edinburgh airports and
with its own railway station serviced by trains from London and around the UK, the
hotel is ideally suited for a weekend break or extended stay.