Six Senses Yao Noi, Thailand

If you’ve never been to Thailand you probably imagine it to be a remote paradise of relaxed luxury and stunning scenery, Six Senses Yao Noi makes this dreamworld a reality.

After a five sticky days in Phuket we were off to the island of Yao Noi, a trip highlight we had been excitedly anticipating since landing in Asia. As instructed we made our way to Ao Po Grand Marina where the Six Senses staff scoop you up and look after your every need until you arrive back at the marina at the end of your stay. After a refreshing cocktail, we boarded the branded speedboat and set off into the azure distance, to Yao Noi Island, in the middle of Phang Nga Bay.

The unusual rock formations in the sea surrounding Yao Noi are a familiar sight which define this beautiful resort. Approaching the hilly islands, we noticed the Eco villas nestled amongst the greenery. Reaching the harbour, guests are greeted by smiling staff and buggies with chalkboards marking your name, which swiftly deliver you to your villa. At this point your GEM (Guest Experience Maker) will meet you and help establish your itinerary. Our GEM, Mink, seemed eager to get to know us and assist with every detail, it was a great relief to let her organise us, which she did thoughtfully and efficiently.

The villas, and indeed the whole resort, have a strong sustainable focus – the property is built on a former rubber plantation with local trees planted to attract wildlife; the barefoot luxury ethos is evident throughout. Stressful and stiff hotel etiquette is replaced with a relaxed attitude. We were in villa number 1, a beachfront pool suite, centrally located in the resort. It was bliss, with two huts to enjoy, a private infinity pool and a garden, enough space for a whole family. The natural design is homely, comfort takes precedence over grandeur, nothing is flash and showy but instead quietly indulgent.

A huge bed dominates the bedroom, with a view looking out towards the beach. The bathroom reminded me of a mini spa with big sinks, a sunken bath and sofa. Other facilities are endless: indoor and outdoor showers; decking, sofas and sun loungers on the terrace; and a games room, which doubles up as a second bedroom with its own ensuite bathroom. The colour scheme is organic and earthy, using warm yellows, oranges and reds, especially lovely in the twilight.

In the mornings we chose to try yoga with Dorelal on the hilltop platform, which cleared my mind and energised my body ready for the day ahead. In the evenings guests can unwind on the beach whilst watching a classic film, ‘movies with the stars’. It is these unique offerings which make a stay at Six Senses so memorable. I personally loved the ice-cream cabin which serves complimentary homemade ice-creams from 7am to 7pm, particularly popular with the younger visitors! We also relished the chance to see the sleepy island, which is possible with the hotel bikes.

You can eat whatever you want whenever you want at the resort, most impressively at the Hilltop Reserve which showcases the very best views of the awe-inspiring limestone pinnacles. Here we enjoyed authentic Thai dishes at lunchtime, the signature Wagyu beef Massaman curry was our favourite, using local ingredients from the Six Senses gardens and the highest quality of beef. On Saturday nights this restaurant hosts the Seafood BBQ, offering fine fish and wine. Other food options include the renowned Dining Room, where chef Jim creates wondrous organic European dishes. For something lighter, The Den is a great choice for tapas bites and exotic cocktails.

Breakfast is a feast for all the senses… an array of foodie delights that seems to go on forever. The pastry parlour displays fresh baked delicacies that would rival even the poshest of Parisian hotels, the deli room has an extensive range of cold meats and cheeses whilst out in the open air, hot dishes are made to order. Health physician Elke Wollschon was wandering round with a tray of green smoothies, they looked strange but tasted divine, and are apparently incredibly good for you!

Relaxation and pampering are what Six Senses does best, the spas are world-famous, so of course I couldn’t leave without sampling a stunning tropical spa treatment. The rainforest spa is serene and calm, here they grow lemongrass and aloe vera to use in the treatments. Wanting to experience something special, I opted for the silk facial which uses natural silk cocoons to massage and invigorate the skin. It was cleansing and refreshing, and left my skin glowing and soft.

Six Senses is adamant that every guest’s holiday should be tailored specifically to their needs and desires, and the excursions team excel at creating bespoke trips for even the most regular travellers. On our final morning we awoke at 5.30 to embark on a private sunrise cruise, it was filmic and fantastic. Lying on the back of a mattress-lined long tail boat we drifted towards the burning orange sun. Stopping at a secluded shore our guide set up breakfast while we spotted wildlife and admired the view. It was a once in a lifetime moment that I will never ever forget.

Six Senses aims to stimulate and soothe all your senses (sound, see, smell, touch and taste) helping you find a balanced and happy equilibrium. The idyllic and isolated Yao Noi island is the perfect location for this purpose, relaxing even the most stressed of visitors. As we waved goodbye to the staff at the harbour, I felt we were leaving our new family. Six Senses is not just a hotel it is a way of life, the results of which can be felt long after you return home.

More information and book a stay here.

Grand Hotel Tremezzo, Lake Como

Locals flee Milan in August, desperate to avoid the stifling heat. Many head to the idyllic Lake Como, where the gentle breeze and beautiful views provide the perfect summer retreat. If you do find yourself in the vicinity of the azure waters of Lake Como I can recommend one very special property…

Grand Hotel Tremezzo is family owned and family run. Dating back to 1910, it combines five-star luxury with welcoming and homely service, and is truly one of a kind. Ideally located beside the lake, Grand Hotel Tremezzo has spectacular views of the town of Bellagio, Riviera delle Azalee and the epic Grigne Mountains. The design is elegant and traditionally Italian with gorgeous Art Nouveau features.

There are 80 rooms (some of them overlooking the lake, others offer views of the secular park) plus 4 historical suites and 8 rooftop suites. The new luxurious suites are cleverly hidden on the top floor, ideal for special occasions, private meals and stargazing. Guests are spoilt for choice with dining options: chef Gualtiero Marchesi’s fine cuisine at La Terrazza or the more casual T Pizza and L’Escale Fondue and Wine Bar. We tried the simple but delicious pizza in the hotel gardens, soaking up the sunshine whilst gorging on crispy thin pizza, flavoursome salad and fresh pineapple juice.

The main attraction for me is the unbelievable floating pool. Having admired this unique feature in photos, I was beyond excited to see it for myself, it took my breath away. Arriving by boat, I could see this sky blue pool glistening in the distance. Stepping onto the floating platform is a strange sensation, you remain steady as the structure bobs gently on the lake. Then for an extra treat we were taken out on the lake in the hotel’s water limo, a Venetian motor launch dating back to 1961. With a glass of Prosecco in hand, this was a moment I knew I would cherish long after leaving the lake.

More information and book here:

Things to do in Paris 2013

Paris is heavenly all year round. Here are some discoveries from my latest winter trip…


Camion qui Fume: Find this van. Best burger I’ve tasted in a long while. Sloppy but deliciously assembled, flavoursome but not too rich… accompanied by hand-chipped fries. Queue (for ages) and beg, borrow or steal one of these magnificent baps (the lady behind us resorted to bribery when she was denied one!)

Benoit: Alain Ducasse’s perfect French bistro serving up traditional dishes and familiar recipes. Awarded a Michelin star unsurprisingly for the exceptional food, service and atmosphere.

Le Paris at Lutetia Hotel: Located in the spectacular Lutetia hotel, I felt like I had travelled back in time sitting in the ornate Sonia Rykiel designed Le Paris dining room. Fine dining at its best.


Le Coq: Heard of Tony Conigliaro? He bought us gems like 69 Colbrooke Row, now he’s teamed up with French bar masterminds to create Le Coq, a hip place serving incredible cocktails and indulgent cheese and charcuterie boards.

Experimental Cocktail Club: A smaller and less conspicuous version of the London bar. Fine drinks are mixed up by the suited and booted barmen. Unique and inventive ECC recipes continue to enamour the Parisian guests.

Angelina’s: The thickest, most luxurious hot chocolate in town. Queue for a table in the lovely salon or pick up a cup to go, it will warm your hands and hearts while you wander round the city.

To Do

Catacombes:  ‘Stop. This is the Empire of Death,’ an engraved sign reads. A spooky underground world, and a must see site in Paris. With public burial pits overflowing in the era of Revolutionary terror the Catacombes were created to house the bones of six million people. Follow the 2 km tunnels to discover millions of bones and skulls from residents of Paris’s past.

Cruise down the Seine: Pick up a boat at the foot of the Eiffel Tower and travel past the great sites of Paris. As you float down the river, point out the familiar buildings, bridges and statues, a delightful way to see the city. More information and book with Viator here.

Palais de Tokyo: Why have I never discovered this venue before? This epic 1937 building opened in 2002 as an open-plan space hosting exhibitions and performances. Wacky work, super shop, cool cafe and best of all… a vintage Photomaton machine, jump in and pose away, create a strip of memories for just 2 euros!

To shop

Mariage Freres: A tea heaven, beautiful boxes and aromatic tea. MF have several outlets including a convenient shop just by the entrance to the Louvre.

Colette: The queen of the concept shops: books, shoes, cameras, jewellery, stationery, clothes, candles… and everything else you could possibly want to find. Everything is quirky, rare and utterly desirable.

The Kooples: The original; a cheaper and more varied collection in comparison to the UK branches. Get a Kooples outfit and you’ll fit in fine among the Frenchies.

To Stay

Hotel Legend: This dinky boutique hotel is ideally located for tourist trips. Crisp white minimalist rooms are a comfortable and attractive place to rest your head. Perhaps the most exciting feature is the impressive memory foams beds which ensure a deep and dreamy night’s sleep.

Hotel Seven: Special themed suites make this hotel one of a kind. Alice in Wonderland and 007 decorated rooms are just two of the suites on offer. Stylish and swish, this little hotel promises a memorable stay.

Book the Eurostar a few months in advance and you can travel for less than £70 return. I’m looking forward to my next trip already!

Thanks to the Paris Tourist Board, more information here.