The Landmark London Hotel, Marylebone

The Landmark London Hotel is truly deserving of its name. This grand hotel is stationed on the busy Marylebone Road, an iconic venue for Londoners and tourists. The building, which dates back to 1899 and was once a Victorian railway hotel, retains much of its old world charm and glamour.

When we checked in on a Sunday evening, an Indian wedding was in full swing in the hotel, beautifully dressed guests could be seen flitting between rooms. It is a glorious place to commemorate a special event. With a broad smile, the man at reception informed us we had been upgraded to a Marylebone Suite.

This hotel feels intimate and exclusive but actually has a total of 300 rooms, making it one of the largest luxury hotels in London. Every facility you could need can be found on site from the tranquil spa and energising health club to the eleven prestigious meeting and conference rooms, which are flexible to suit your exact requirements.

Our suite was a delight, spacious and luxurious. After exploring every detail and gadget in our room, I realised that our quarters (60 square metres) were bigger that my entire flat. I made sure I used every space… relaxed on the sofa in the comfortable living area whilst picking at the plate of chocolates, soaked in the lovely bathtub (with the delicious Molton Brown toiletries) in the marble bathroom and read my book tucked into the gigantic bed. Though old-fashioned in style, the rooms at Landmark don’t feel tired or outdated.

There is little need to leave the room with two digital TVs, an iHome system to play music and a Nespresso coffee machine. I relished the luxury of lying in bed idly sipping my cappuccino late into the morning, it was such a treat. When hunger demanded, we freshened up and sauntered down to the buffet, which I’d already be warned was a feast for all of the senses.

Breakfast was also my first sighting of the opulent Winter Garden, the main restaurant in the central courtyard of the hotel. With a glass roof, this dining area is brilliantly illuminated by natural light in the mornings, and I suspect is magically atmospheric at night. With impressively tall palm trees in the restaurant, it felt more like a summer garden than a winter one. We indulged with a selection of perfectly baked French pastries, pancakes with crispy bacon and maple syrup, fruit and coffee. Buffet breakfasts can be drab and underwhelming but at Landmark they pull out all the stops presenting an array of goodies that would perk up anyone’s appetite.

Leaving The Landmark London, I couldn’t believe I’d only just got to know this classic British hotel despite living in London my entire life. Centrally located and close by to the city’s major stations, this hotel is ideal for city breaks but also makes a lovely venue for weekend brunch or afternoon tea with friends.

More information and book a room at The Landmark London here.

Four Seasons St Petersburg

When I heard about the new Four Seasons opening in St Petersburg I knew it was reason enough to visit Russia. The Lion Palace, as it is now known, was built in the 19th century for the royal family in the neoclassical style. The grand main entrance is marked with an eight column portico and guarded by two white marble Medici lions by Italian sculptor Paolo Triscorni. Like many of the Four Seasons hotels, an historic building has been transformed into a luxurious place to stay, eat and relax… embracing its former features and adapting where necessary to ensure guests have everything they could require.

The hotel is located in the Admiralteysky district, close by to the Hermitage Museum, Nevsky Prospekt and Mariinsky Theatre, perfect for tourists hoping to see all the sights. There are 183 guest rooms including 26 suites; we were in a lovely terrace room with a balcony overlooking the magnificent St Isaac Cathedral. The room was subtly decorated in sophisticated shades of cream, brown and pale blue, with a huge plush king sized bed, a dark wooden desk for business needs and an armchair for relaxing. Thick white curtains concealed the cold outdoors. The bathroom was spacious and indulgent, clad in marble with a huge bath, power shower and ‘his and hers’ sinks. The toiletries were of a really good quality and smelt wonderful, coming all the way from Lorenzo Villoresi in Florence.

The food at Lion Palace will satisfy the palates of the prestigious guests and also wow visitors who are not staying at the hotel. We sampled the fine Italian restaurant, Percorso which is headed up by acclaimed chefs Andrea Accordi and Valerio Andrisani who create modern creative Italian dishes. This eatery is impressive especially in comparison to St Petersburg’s other fine dining establishments. We indulged with delicious cheeses, top quality meat dishes and authentic desserts. I can still recall my tender roasted lamb with pumpkin, pecorino, mint and Avola almond.

We also ate in the Tea Lounge where breakfast is served. This gorgeous open plan parlour is decorated in bright pastels – yellow, green and pink. It is the perfect place for a tea party. We tried lots of intriguing Russian specialities here, including the tasty little Sirniki (farmer’s cheese pancakes) made with cottage cheese or ricotta. I can also recommend the French toast dusted with icing sugar and accompanied with caramelised baked apple segments.

For the ultimate relaxation there is the four storey Luceo spa, with a small pool, eight treatment rooms and a VIP couples suite – the talented therapists here look after you from head to toe. We had massages on the final day, a relaxing conclusion to three days of frantic sightseeing! Walking in such cold weather definitely builds up tension in the legs but I felt the knots melt away with the masseur’s skill and warm aromatic oils.

Russia can be a daunting place, and knowing where to start is tricky. Four Seasons St Petersburg will be your guide, your friend and your concierge, guiding you towards the sights which make this city so special. It was a palatial home for us for three days and I breathed a sigh of relief every time I stepped from the cold street into the lovely Lion Palace lobby.

More information and book a room here:

Banyan Tree Samui, Thailand

The archipelago of southern Thailand is a tourist trap and Koh Samui, the third largest island, has been growing rapidly in popularity, attracting foreigners with its pristine beaches and laid back culture.

Initially, as we drove past Chaweng Beach, I wondered where the brochure shots came from… how could the busy strip of tacky shops and vendors be the idyllic paradise to which visitors trekked? I could not imagine the oasis at the other end of the island.

But drive a little further and you reach Banyan Tree Samui, a breathtaking, awe-inspiring property with villas perched on the green hillside. They surround a quiet secluded bay, used exclusively by the hotel guests.

The experience begins at reception where smiling staff welcome you to the view, I felt dizzy looking out… this is the postcard landscape that you will never get used to at Banyan Tree Samui. Cooling coconut water and a flower garland followed then it was all aboard the buggy with a personal butler ‘Summer’, and off to our hill crest villa. The hill grew steeper and steeper until we reached a grand wooden door. More steps led to a three room luxury villa. This elevated structure reflects traditional Thai architecture, spacious with a high ceiling and floor to ceiling windows offering views out over the Gulf of Thailand. Summer chatted away about the immaculate detailing of the facilities, I zoned out as I gawped at the view and wondered, who can I FaceTime first?

The stylish rooms show continuity with dark wood panelling, beige and brown furnishings with a touch of warmth from the burnt orange detailing. Despite the size and space the rooms feel cosy and homely. The huge white bed looks out to the incredible infinity pool which can be accessed from anywhere in your villa, and it is tempting to spend an hour struggling to take ‘selfies’ of yourself from every angle in the pool, my iPhone very nearly drowned.

Through to the bathroom and a giant indulgent bath tub looks ready to relax even the sternest of guests, black granite covers the surfaces. A glass-enclosed power-shower is also provided should you need it. Branded patterned bathrobes and wash bags are yours for the stay or available to buy to take home. We were lucky enough to see the sunrise, a spectacular vision at 6.15 in the morning.

There are numerous ways to occupy yourself whilst staying at Banyan Tree. We took part in coral replantation on the beach, which was both educational and fun, testament to the conservation work the staff do. The spa is renowned throughout Thailand boasting unrivalled facilities and expert staff; with hydrotherapy pools and a rainforest complex, there is a wealth of treatments to try. I can personally vouch for the Rainforest indulgence, a three hour experience which involves a hydro and Thermo circuit followed by a balancing massage. It is a sensory experience not to be missed.

The hotel has three exemplary restaurants: the Edge for breakfast, Saffron for traditional Thai and Sands for casual beachside cuisine. We enjoyed an atmospheric dinner at Saffron, which showcases the finest Thai flavours and cooking techniques. The meal begins with a ritualistic hand cleanse and a flower behind the ear! The food was faultless: sticky sweet pork ribs with honey was a highlight, tender juicy meat with a crisp caramelised edge coated in sweet marinade. Red curry was great too, and it was fun choosing between the four rice varieties that accompany the dish. Sticky rice, mango and coconut ice-cream was made to perfection here also.

Sitting at the highest point of the resort listening to the lyrical local music and gorging on the divine delicacies was unforgettable. I commend Banyan Tree on their beautiful establishment.

More information and book to stay at Banyan Tree Samui here: