It’s that time of year again, when we look back over the last 12 months, reflect on our favourite moments and look ahead to the New Year. Whilst I had an epic year of luxury, my biggest luxuries were spending time with friends and family and being in pretty good health. I’m sharing my 2015 highlights and would love to hear about yours.
2015 was definitely a year of firsts, including our first time in a hot air balloon and first time dog sledding, in the Scottish Highlands. Who knew that you could do dog sledding there, and with world class guides too. The Colosseum in Rome has recreated the original lift which was used to crank animals into the arena, and we were lucky to see it on the very first day that it was open to the public. London’s Sky Garden was equally impressive, and I highly recommend a visit if you haven’t been.
One of my favourite destinations in 2015 was the Amalfi Coast in Italy, where a close friend was getting married in Ravello – what an amazing setting!
I was fortunate to travel twice to Italy this year, and to discover some amazing hidden gems in Rome, as well as the lesser known archaelogical site of Herculaneum near Naples, which is a great alternative to the hustle and bustle of Pompeii. I also reminisced about the many hidden gems in Paris, which I loved to explore when I lived there.
I visited some incredible places on short or extended weekends abroad, including Jersey and Monaco. Closer to home, I had fantastic breaks in Hertfordshire, the New Forest, Sussex, and Woburn. We managed to fit in two trips to Devon, including South Devon and the luxurious Amberstone Manor. Finally, we enjoyed two London staycations, at vibrant One Aldwych hotel and quirky boutique hotel Batty Langley’s in Spitalfields.
Some of my favourite UK visitor attractions were the iconic Bluebell Steam Railway in Sussex, Kenilworth Castle and Elizabethan Gardens in Warwickshire and Hall Place in South East London. For sheer beauty, the flower show at Hampton Court Palace really takes some beating!
I tried out so many great eateries in 2015 that I can’t list them all here. However, for French classics with a twist, I recommend Angelus, whilst for Japanese cuisine, Koi is a great option. Bombay Brasserie and Zaika are fabulous Indian restaurants. Min Yiang and Yauatcha City specialize in delicious Chinese food. For modern European cuisine, The Georgian at Harrods, William Drabble at 5 Park Place, the revamped Ivy West Street, Northbank on the river Thames and the Town House Kensington were amongst my favourites. For more casual dining, the champagne picnic arranged by Dukes London in Green Park was really special, the Jones Family Project indoor picnic was a godsend on a rainy day and Crocker’s Folly in St John’s Wood laid on an epic chef’s table.
As for overseas restaurants, Pauline Borghese at the luxurious Parco dei Principi is an oasis of calm in Rome, and lunch at Belmond Hotel Caruso is not to be missed if visiting picturesque Ravello on the Amalfi Coast. In Jersey, Shaun Rankin’s Michelin starred Ormer and Longueville Manor are excellent dining options.
TIME FOR TEA
I sampled some delicious afternoon teas this year, including a Summer in the City themed one at the Conrad London St James, a guilt-free tea at the Intercontinental Park Lane a gentleman’s afternoon tea at the Stafford London and a chocolate indulgence at Flemings Mayfair. The afternoon tea at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, the Valentine themed tea at the Rosewood London, the Flights of Fancy at St Ermin’s and the Laurent-Perrier champagne flight at the St James’ Court were equally fabulous.
I’ve become somewhat addicted to Instagram, isn’t it brilliant for sharing photos? How was your 2015 – what were your highlights?
— Luxury Columnist (@LuxuryColumnist) December 30, 2015