Complete luxury travel guide to Bangkok


travel Siam Hotel Bangkok

Hectic, colourful Bangkok assaults your senses with its floating food markets, picturesque canals, bustling weekend bazaars and golden temples. Immerse yourself in this spectacular city, enjoying its legendary culinary offers - from street food to fine dining - luxe five-star hotels, world class massages, hip boutiques and colourful historic monuments.

Eat & drink
Thai food is legendary worldwide, and Bangkok encompasses the very best - from humble street food sellers that have earned Michelin stars, to fine dining restaurants that blend cuisines from all over the world. For upmarket dining, visit Blue Elephant, renowned for its contemporary Thai cuisine and onsite cookery school, housed in an atmospheric colonial era mansion. Their bamboo cased sea bass is the perfect introduction to fragrant, fresh Thai cooking. For a truly unusual culinary experience, visit Taling Chan Floating Market, where you can board a sampan (small fishing boat) and glide along Bangkok's picturesque maze of canals, stopping to try classic Thai dishes like grilled seafood, noodles and tropical fruit. If you're looking for a place to while the night away, The Never Ending Summer is a hip riverfront bar located in a converted warehouse that attracts local artists and designers.
Bangkok's skyline is a vision of sparkling skyscrapers, but on the street level and along the canals you can see hidden teakwood traditional houses. If it's contemporary luxury you're after, stay at SO Sofitel Bangkok, where the best rooms have views over peaceful Lumphini Park and the onsite spa and its lemongrass scented products will soothe you after a busy day sightseeing. For classic chic, the Siam Hotel Bangkok (photo) may be more up your street. The five-star hotel is located in a elegant art deco building and conjures up Jazz Era luxury - rooms have black and white beams and antique flourishes, and the hotel is located right next to the breezy Chao Phraya River.
Bangkok is home to many ancient and stunning monuments, including Buddhist temples and statues. Head over to the Chao Phraya River, where the greatest concentration of historic sites can be found. Wander around the Grand Palace, built with a blend of Italian renaissance and traditional Thai architecture, and admire the spectacular vaulted roof of the nearby Wat Phra Kaew, a colourful Buddhist temple. After that, walk over to Wat Pho, a giant golden reclining Buddha, that stretches out 150 feet. Also located at this site is one of Thailand's best massage schools, and it's an atmospheric place to indulge in one. If you travel east across the city, you can explore Jim Thompson's House - a museum preserving the home of former US spy and founder of the Thai silk industry - who mysteriously disappeared. The house is a beautiful example of a traditional Thai teakwood house. If you're after some breathing space, walk around Lumphini Park, and watch locals do Tai Chi and aerobics en masse, and lizards and birds in the well-kept gardens around you.
There is excellent shopping on offer in Bangkok. An unmissable experience is a visit to Chatuchak Weekend Market, a sprawling outdoor array of over 10,000 shops, and almost anything you can think of on sale, from cheap street fashion and electronics to books and vintage jewellery. To stop for a snack, try one of the many dessert stalls and indulge your sweet tooth with coconut milk ice cream. For high end shopping, visit the Siam district, with its array of glitzy malls. Siam Paragon stocks luxurious brands like Louis Vuitton and Prada, and Siam Discovery is home to offbeat high end boutiques like Issey Miyake and Comme des Garcons.


The best European city breaks for couples


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Nothing brings romance to mind quite like a trip to Europe, with its historic cities filled with cobbled streets and strolls beneath the shadows of ancient city walls. From chic northern European destinations like Paris, Amsterdam and Vienna, to the balmy summer nights you can spend in Lisbon and Venice, you'll be spoilt for choice with the romantic destinations you can whisk your significant other away to.

Lisbon (in photo)
One of the world's oldest cities, the buildings of pretty Lisbon tumble down cobbled slopes to the Atlantic Ocean. Sip vintage ports in cosy bars after dark, and trundle along the steep sandstone streets on their still operational vintage trams. For truly luxurious accommodation, stay at Palacio Belmonte, a castle dating back to 1449 that hosts ten VIP suites with incredible views over the city. Make sure you stroll over to Pasteis de Belém, where you can find the city's finest Portuguese custard tarts. For a day trip, travel to magical Sintra, a colourful hill town west of the city, and wander around the historic palaces and tumbling gardens, before enjoying a quiet walk in the surrounding woodland.
Paris is the ultimate romantic destination. After an afternoon spent in the legendary Café de Flore, favourite haunt of literary legends Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, and a stop off at Patisserie Pierre Hermé, home of Paris' best loved macarons, choose between the huge array of world-renowned fine dining offerings - perhaps Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée, with its menu of innovative natural cuisine, focusing on vegetables and grains - is the best place to start. Stay at Hotel de JoBo, one of the most romantic boutique hotels in the city, with resplendent interiors reminiscent of historic Parisian mansions, but with quirky touches like 20th century antique telephones. Wander around iconic Musée d'Orsay, which displays spectacular early 20th century art in the former Orsay railway station. Then, book a night to remember at the Opéra national de Paris Palais Garnier, an institution dating back to 1890 and in keeping with the old-world style, filled with marble and red satin and hosting lyric opera and ballet performances.
Criss-crossed with 200 year old canals, cobbled streets and with quaint cafes abound, Amsterdam is a special place to explore with your significant other. For historic charm, stay at Pulitzer Amsterdam, full of secret passageways between the 25 historic canalhouses it's housed in, with beautiful views. Wander around historic museums like the Van Gogh Museum and quaint museum Our Lord in the Attic, where you can wander around a hidden and perfectly preserved church in the attic of a canal house. Shop in historic district Nine Streets, home to chic boutiques like Ace & Tate - for on-trend spectacles and shades - and Love Stories Intimates - a delicate lingerie brand . When you're ready to refuel, visit De Kas, a fine-dining farm to table restaurant set in a row of pretty greenhouses, where you choose between a selection of their organic dishes.
Noble Vienna charms you from the get go. Stay at a grand institution like Hotel Sacher Wien, which has housed famous guests from Queen Elizabeth II to John F Kennedy, and has more than a touch of old-world luxury about it, with rooms filled with antiques and original artworks. After a stroll around Vienna's famous landmarks like Hofburg (the Imperial Palace) and the Academy of Fine Arts, located in a stunning historic building, there's no more romantic day out than whirling around on the Riesenrad, an old ferris wheel located in picturesque theme park the Prater. The beautiful 1897 era construction gives you stunning panoramic views of the city and the Danube. Make sure you stop off in one of Vienna's grand coffeehouses, the meeting places for influential novelists, artists, philosophers and musicians for centuries. Café Central, a beautiful 19th century building, has hosted notable figures like Leon Trotsky and Sigmund Freud, and still serves the same classic Viennese dishes, like crispy Wiener Schnitzel with parsley potatoes.
Venice is most romantic in spring, when its canals, ornate bridges and magnificent palaces are juxtaposed perfectly with balmy weather and blooming flowers. Stay at Ca Maria Adele, a chic 12 room hotel with secret themed suites like “The Doge's Room,” an opulent nod to traditional Venetian style. Dine at Locanda Cipriani, located on the stunning island of Torcello, a relaxed country restaurant with soulful renditions of traditional Venetian food like Sampietro fish “alla Carlina,” a fresh fish dish made with homegrown tomatoes. For a view over the city, visit Campanile di San Marco, a historic bell tower with views across the winding canals, and don't miss Basilica di San Marco, with multitudes of mosaic covering every inch of the vast cathedral's interior.


The best luxury family resorts in Asia


The best luxury family resorts in Asia

Asia is rightly famous for its luxurious beachside resorts, often the destination for honeymoons and couples vacations, but it's also an ideal spot for a family break. Five star hotels front white-sanded beaches and are home to kids clubs and activities, on call babysitting and family friendly suites which guarantee children are well cared for. Meanwhile, you can enjoy kicking back, enjoying the stunning beaches and soaking up the tropical sun.

Phuket, Thailand
The pristine white beaches of Thailand are the ideal place for a family getaway, and none more so than in Phuket. One of the most family friendly destinations in Thailand, stay at JW Marriott Resort & Spa, a five star resort located next to a stunning beach. The three sparkling pools and onsite turtle sanctuary are perfect for kids, and there are other options available to keep them amused - like the Kids' Club and oncall childminders. While they're entertained, enjoy the assortment of watersports on offer or chill out with a traditional Thai massage in the Mandara Spa. For day trips, visit the Trick Eye museum, an interactive experience of optical illusions, and FantaSea, a theme park centred around Thai heritage and traditions.
Hoi An, Vietnam
Sleepy and beautiful Hoi An is well known for its atmospheric Ancient Town, criss-crossed with canals and a melting mixture of architecture from the different cultures that settled here during its days as an important trading port. Take your kids to Four Seasons Resort The Nam Hai, where luxurious family villas compliment the excellent onsite kids club, giving you real peace of mind. You'll have time to enjoy the palm tree lined beach and enrol in the Vietnamese cooking academy at the resort, where you can tour their vegetable gardens and learn to make classics like pho and banh mi.
Penang, Malaysia
A characterful island off the coast of Malaysia, Penang's rich mix of cultures and picture perfect beaches are a memorable place to explore with your children - particularly the UNESCO World Heritage settlement of George Town. There are daily shuttles available here from the Shangri-La's Rasa Sayang Resort and Spa, itself located next to a beautiful white beach. For stays with kids, the Garden Wing is particularly enjoyable, which hosts an assortment of family friendly suites, all built in traditional Malay style. While your little ones enjoy the array of kids programs at the resort, you have time to chill out at Chi, their onsite spa which provides serene Malay and Chinese treatments in a series of buildings surrounded by lush tropical gardens.
Bali, Indonesia
Beautiful Bali is the epitome of relaxation; with its lush rice paddies, rare wildlife and beautiful beaches. You'll be well looked after at Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay, which has fabulous kids facilities. Make use of their kids club and 24 hour babysitting services, leaving you free to enjoy the best of the resort's offerings. Spend the day at the hotel's private beach club and then dine at onsite restaurant the Sudara, which serves freshly caught seafood from the bay. Don't miss their pot steamed black mussels, flavoured with locally grown herbs like lemongrass, chilli and ginger, and served in a light citrus broth.
Tangalle, Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, one of South Asia's most stunning destinations, is ideal for a family getaway. Anantara Peace Haven Tangalle Resort lives up to its name, with its remote position on a stretch of picturesque Indian Ocean coastline. Enjoy day trips with kids to the nearby Uda Walare Elephant Sanctuary, and when you're ready to relax, let the resort's Children's Club take care of your kids while you spend the day at the beach or enjoy an award-winning Ayurvedic treatment at the Anantara spa, like the signature Ceylon retreat, with a coconut body wrap and black tea and lime foot scrub.


The best travel apps


Night Sky travel

Don't miss the chance to download some of the best and most innovative travel apps which allow you to save money, time and effort while you're travelling. Your phone can be a source of revolutionary information, so you can see global time zones at the click of a button, watch night sky constellations come to life in front of your eyes and help you navigate the city like a local as soon as you arrive. A little effort in planning which apps will accompany you on your trip will mean you're sure to have a holiday to remember.

Night Sky (image)
For budding astronomers, Night Sky is a beautiful app that's ideal to use while visiting dark sky destinations. Download the app to your phone or tablet, and the next time you're staring up at the stars you can use it to identify the expanse above you. It provides an added dimension to your stargazing with a visual representation of the constellations on your phone screen, which change as its held up to different sections of the sky. Interact with the map it provides to learn about the constellations, from Ursa Major to Cassiopeia. It's a personal planetarium which adds fun and education to your picturesque view.
It's often stressful to navigate a new city, but Citymapper, a transport and travel app which works in nearly 40 different cities worldwide, will put you at ease. From Stockholm to Sydney, select your start and end positions, and wait for the app to provide you with a myriad of real time transport information. You can discover the quickest route to your destination, a completely dry route if it's raining, as well as up-to-date travel information about buses and trains. If you prefer to travel on foot or by two wheels, the app also shows you potential cycle and walking routes. Citymapper also expertly calculates accurate estimated arrival times using current traffic data and gives you information about delays.
It's important to take care of your health while travelling, and UVLens is an app that can manage your suncream routine while you're away. The app calculates the UV index as you travel from place to place using innovative technology, and provides you with live reports that prompt you to load up on SPF or stay indoors, all so you can protect your skin from sun damage while visiting sunnier climes. It also cleverly provides you with a personalised UV protection guide tailored to your skin type. Keep updated each day of your holiday and use the app to stay healthy.
The language app to replace all others, Duolingo works best when you download it in the run up to your trip, so you can master the grammar and vocabulary basics prior to arriving. From French to Vietnamese and Swedish to Swahili, the app uses science-based gamification technology to make learning languages fun and help cement the new words you learn in no time. You'll have picked up a basic level of language use by the time you arrive, allowing you to greet locals and order food at restaurants with ease as soon as you touch down.
If you've ever struggled to organize chats or meetings with friends and colleagues in different time zones, Circa is the app for you. The clear interface works on both Apple iPhones, tablets and watches, and provides a visual representation of the current time in different parts of the world. From New York to Shanghai, you can keep track of changing time zones with zero effort. Organize virtual work meetings through the app, keep track of sleep patterns or arrange when to video call a friend or loved one at a time when you're both awake.


Wildlife holidays for families


Galapagos travel

A summer holiday with your family can be more than just a getaway - pick the right tour and you'll have an educational experience that stays in the minds of your children for life. If you're after an trip your whole family will never forget, choose a wildlife-spotting holiday and enjoy visiting some of the world's most biodiverse areas. From the remote and rugged isles of the Galapagos, to the scenic cloud forests of Costa Rica, take your family on a trip of a lifetime with one of these truly memorable wildlife experiences.

Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
After a day wandering around the historic city of Quito, Ecuador, fly to the remote airport on Isla San Cristobal, located three hours away in the vast Pacific Ocean. From day one, you'll be able to see some of the world's most spectacular and unique wildlife up close. The islands' isolation has resulted in wildlife that are evolutionarily unique, and it was the experience of this which famously inspired Darwin's theory of evolution after a trip here in 1835. A boat trip to Isla Lobos means you can see the world's second largest sea lion colony, and during the boat ride here you can spot stunning birdlife like frigate birds and blue footed boobies. A visit to the remote Charles Darwin Research Centre means you can get up close to giant tortoises, part of the centre's breeding program, and snorkeling around pretty beach La Loberia will reveal a hidden world of sea lions and turtles.
Giant island Madagascar, located off the coast of Africa, is home to some of the most unique wildlife on the planet - over 90% of the biodiversity here isn't found anywhere else on the planet. Wander under towering baobab trees, spot curious ring-tailed lemurs and glide past waiting crocodiles on inland rivers. A visit to stunning Andasibe National Park is a must, and gives you a chance to see over 13 different lemur species, from the largest - the Indri with its distinctive call - to the tiny red mouse lemur. It's also extremely worthwhile to take a boat tour along the quiet Tsiribihina river to see beautiful birdlife like herons, ibis and egrets, before stopping to camp with a spectacular view of the stars.
Take to the humid rainforests of Borneo, an island spanning both Indonesia and Malaysia, to experience some of the most stunning wildlife on Earth. A trip to Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary in Sabah will allow you to get up close to beautiful orangutans, our close cousins, and witness their feeding time. The sanctuary is also home to the rare Malaysian Sun Bear, which are in danger of becoming extinct. Close to here is the Kinabatangan River, which you can travel down to spot monkeys playing on the banks, crocodiles submerged below the rusty water, and if you're lucky, wild elephants drinking. Crossing over to Indonesian Sarawak, take part in a frog tour at Kubah National Park - a visit to the frog pond here will reveal some of the 60 species that live in the park, and you'll be treated to the harmonious music of their calls.
The southernmost continent of Antarctica is one of the world's last frontiers, and tagging along on an expedition here is truly a once in a lifetime experience. Stop off at remote South Georgia, to wander among a colony of over 500,000 king penguins, watch whales swim slowly from the deck of the boat and see strange, beautifully shaped icebergs float by. Don't miss a chance to take part on a kayak tour, which will allow you to glide past seals and below flying albatross. Book a cabin on the ship with a floor-to-ceiling window so you can watch the stunning wildlife from the comfort of your room as day turns into night.


Luxury safari holidays for couples


Luxury safari holidays for couples

For a truly romantic getaway, get close to nature with your significant other at a spectacular safari experience. Across the stunning African subcontinent, from Namibia to South Africa, there are plenty of five-star safari lodges and experiences to choose from. Fulfil your dream of spotting the big five or sleep in a luxurious campsite looking up at the stars.

Helicopter safari, Namibia
There's no better way to see the vast plains of Namibia than from the bird's eye view of a helicopter. Enjoy a helicopter safari tour over the stunning Epupa Falls and above gigantic baobab trees, then stop off to see wildlife up close. A boat ride will glide you past crocodiles and animals grazing on the river banks, and a trip in a four by four will reveal colourful birdlife which live close to the water. The heli-safari then travels over the remote Marienfluss Valley, where you can see herds of springbok and oryx antelopes in full glory.
Royal Malewane, South Africa
For a truly VIP experience, stay at the Royal Malewane luxury resort in Greater Kruger National Park. This five-star hotel brings you up close to the big five, but with fine facilities that will make you feel at home. Guests are encouraged to enjoy safaris at their own pace, and outings on Land Rovers or open top Land Cruisers usually take place at sunrise or sunset. You can expect to see spectacular wildlife like leopards, lions, elephants and black rhinos up close. To unwind after your day, book a treatment at the onsite spa and dine at the resort's restaurant, which stocks an extensive collection of South African wines.
Serengeti mobile safari, Tanzania
A unique way of seeing Tanzania's incredible wildlife is through a mobile safari. Travel across the Serengeti on Abercrombie & Kent's nomadic tour, which allows you to travel at your leisure across the dusty plains, spotting endangered black rhino and vast herds of wildebeest, and stopping each night to camp in style. Their glamorous tents provide en suite bathrooms and hot showers. You'll be greeted each morning with a refreshing cup of tea and in the evenings you can enjoy superb camp cuisine in front of a roaring fire.
Masai Mara, Kenya
If your priority on safari is seeing big cats, the Masai Mara national reserve in Kenya should be your destination of choice. Base yourself at Cottars camp, a safari camp that's been in operation since 1919, and has retained classic 1920s style - you can sleep in cream canvas tents adorned with vintage touches like Persian rugs and zebra skins. Family tents even have living rooms with fireplaces to help you stay cosy during the evenings. During the day, drive through the vast surrounding plains, spotting cheetahs and lions waiting for masses of migrating wildebeest, and leopards sleeping in shady trees. After a day of wildlife spotting, cool off in the onsite 25 metre swimming pool or indulge in a treatment in the camp's spa.
Chinzombo, Zambia
Often voted Africa's best safari, Chinzombo is a luxury camp in Zambia offering a glamorous vantage point for the myriad of beautiful animals in the area, like zebra, kudu and impala. Choose from their series of six exclusive villas that have exceptional views across the plains, and enjoy dinner under the stars next to the warmth of a fire pit. Located in South Luangwa National Park, and close to the Luangwa River, you can expect to spot wildlife like elephants coming to drink here from the comfort of the resort, and during jeep outings you're likely to see animals totally unique to the area, like the Thornicroft's giraffe and Crawshay's zebra.


VIP honeymoon destinations around the world


ritz carlton bali travel

One of the most special holidays you'll ever have, your honeymoon should be the trip of a lifetime. Whether you'd rather have a romantic trip to a charming European city, to stretch out on a white-sanded beach with a cocktail in hand or to tour dramatic scenery and ancient ruins, your honeymoon is the ideal opportunity to indulge in luxurious travel.

If your idea of a perfect holiday is to walk barefoot on white beaches, lie on hammocks under palm trees and have coconut scented massages in shady waterfront bungalows, the Maldives should be your honeymoon destination of choice. Stay at Cheval Blanc Randheli, a resort run by Louis Vuitton, for a paradisiacal island experience with luxurious facilities. This hotel is located on the Noonu atoll, a private island, and runs unforgettable experiences like moonlit diving, treasure hunts, beach barbeques and charming trips out to sea on dhonis, traditional wooden boats.
With unspoiled beaches, verdant rice paddies and overgrown ancient temples, Bali is a magical place. Towering over lush rainforest, Hanging Gardens Ubud is one of the most stunning hotels in the world. Its deep green glass-sided infinity pools hover at the edge of the property, and each suite has its own granite infinity pool for your private use. Enjoy a traditional Balinese massage while being bathed in the sounds of exotic birds and waterfalls, and feast on fresh Indonesian dishes over a candlelit dinner with a bottle of sparkling wine. In the day, explore cultural hub Ubud, with its myriad of yoga studios, organic restaurants and arts and crafts workshops. Photo from the The Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Nusa Dua, Bali.
The simple beauty of the Greek Islands, with their fresh seafood, white-washed villages and private bays fringed with pine trees, makes for an unforgettable honeymoon. Stay at Villa Irita on the remote and beautiful coast of Corfu, renovated from a crumbling ruin to a characterful self-catering cottage in 2012. Spend your days wandering around rugged terraces of olive trees which line a bay looking over the Ionian Sea, and swim at Agni beach, which is also home to a fine selection of tavernas serving traditional Greek dishes. The landscape around, beloved of writer Gerald Durrell, is also perfect for wildlife spotting, including lizards, owls and eagles.
For a stunning Indian Ocean retreat, head to Zanzibar, one of the spice islands east of Africa. Stay at Mnemba Island Lodge for a luxurious experience - you'll be one of ten in their chic beachside huts with thatched porches, looking over impossibly white sands and crystal clear waters. The resort provides private butlers, so you can pick from their expert cocktail menu at the drop of a hat, or for activities enrol in their onsite diving school or stretch out in a private yoga lesson. Sights of spectacular Tanzanian wildlife are also within reach - spot dolphins, turtle hatchings and rare coconut crabs on tours organized by the hotel.
There are few places more romantic than the Scottish countryside, with its wild moors of heather, dramatic peaks and deep lochs. If you prefer your honeymoon with a dose of the gothic, stay at Glengorm Castle on the Isle of Mull. Treat yourself to the Compass Room, a secluded chamber right at the top of the historic tower, which offers views in all four directions. In the daytime, wander around the 5,000 acre surrounding estate, where you can spot golden eagles, herds of Highland Cattle, Blackface sheep and majestic red deer. Enjoy supper and complimentary local whiskey in their atmospheric library, warmed by a open fire and stacked with hundreds of books.


The most romantic gardens in Italy


The most romantic gardens in Italy

Whether you're looking for a romantic way to spend your honeymoon or horticulture is your passion, a tour of Italy's historic gardens will inspire you long after you return home. Arguably best visited in Spring, see blooming roses and pale wisteria tumbling down historic castles and walled gardens, and stop at a local vineyard for a glass of vintage wine in the crisp sunshine. From the Tuscan hills to the historic houses towering over Lake Como, Italy's romantic gardens are also often situated in picture perfect settings.

Roseto Botanico di Cavriglia, Tuscany
In the picturesque hills surrounding historic Tuscan cities Florence, Siena and Arezzo, visit the Roseto Botanica di Cavriglia, one of the largest private rose gardens in the world. Created in 1967, there are over 7,000 unique varieties here, including some thought to be otherwise extinct. The garden is best visited in May and June when the myriad of different coloured and scented roses are in bloom. Considered by many to be a living museum, the old-world gardens are structured with crumbling stone walls and resident peacocks strut around, adding another splash of colour to the scene.
Villa D'Este, Tivoli (photo)
A UNESCO World Heritage site, the Villa D'Este, located close to Rome, is one of the finest preserved examples of an Italian 16th century garden. It is the architectural elements of the garden that make it so special, including the ornamental water basins and fountains - particularly the Fontana dell'Ovato, one of the world's first “water theaters,” a backdrop of stunning fountains fronted by a pool, made for water performances. The gardens and fountains are designed to run over a series of terraces, with spectacular views of the plains leading towards Rome beyond.
Gardens of Ninfa, Lazio
Widely considered one of the most romantic gardens in the world, the Gardens of Ninfa, located just outside of Rome, are built on the ruins of an ancient Etruscan town. Open by guided tour only, be sure to book ahead to look around the medieval stone ruins, now partially covered by rambling roses and shaded by great oak and cypress trees. The meandering River Ninfa flows through the gardens and is overhung by hazelnut and silver maple groves. Be sure to wander over the scenic old bridge, which is framed by purple varieties of clematis and climbing hydrangea.
Giardini di Giusti, Verona
Verona's Giardini di Giusti is a prime example of a late renaissance Italian garden, and has existed here since the late 1400s. The current layout was commissioned in 1570 by Venetian diplomat Agostino Giusti, and over the centuries has been visited by legendary artists, musicians and kings like Mozart, Goethe, Cosimo De' Medici and Emperor Giuseppe II. Tall cypress trees punctuate the tumbling terrace gardens and marble statues are placed within a series of clipped hedges. Visit the maze here if you're visiting with your partner - there is a local fable that lovers who manage to find each other are destined for eternal love.
Villa Carlotta, Lake Como
A colourful execution of the late Lombard baroque style, Villa Carlotta is situated next to stunning Lake Como, overlooking the Bellagio peninsula. The formal layout was also influenced by English country gardens and since the 1800s has built up an impressive botanical collection of over 800 species, including spectacular displays of camellias, rhododendrons and roses. The breadth of the botanical treasures maintained here means the garden is worth visiting at any time of year, so while the Rhododendrons wood is stunning in the spring, the rock garden, century old cedars and collection of tropical plants bloom all year round.


The most romantic train journeys in the world


The most romantic train journeys in the world

There is nothing more romantic than travelling by train. Treat yourself to old-school luxury and sit back in a vintage-style compartment while stunning landscapes unfold around you. Many of the world's most iconic railways are still served by five-star train services. Dine and sleep while enjoying VIP facilities and hop off to explore some of the most special sites around the world.

The Eastern & Oriental Express, Singapore to Thailand
From multicultural island Singapore, travel through the verdant jungles and rice paddies of Malaysia and finish in vibrant Bangkok, Thailand. The five-star Eastern & Oriental Express travels a historic route through Southeast Asia, which takes three days and two nights. The train passes near to the legendary Bridge over the River Kwai, and stops for passengers to explore royal Malaysian town Kuala Kangsar. The train compartments are styled with classic luxury, and dining cars serve fine food which fuses Eastern and Western cuisine. The bar car hosts jazz performances and cocktails, while the open-air observation car is the perfect place to photograph the changing scenery the train passes.
The West Highland Line, Scotland (photo)
This twisting single-track railway which runs through the dramatic Scottish countryside from Glasgow to Mallaig, is frequently voted one of the best railway journeys in the world. You'll be treated to famous Highland scenery as the five hour journey unfolds, as well as a breathtaking trip over the Glenfinnan Viaduct, made famous by the Harry Potter films as part of the route of the Hogwarts Express. Spot red deer grazing on heather moors, see some of Scotland's great lochs in all their steep-sided glory while stunning mountains tower over the railway. The train stops at tiny, unmanned stations, remote in the vast landscape, and finishes at Mallaig, the site of the ferry port to the Isle of Skye, which you can see glimpses of over the sea.
The Venice Simplon Orient Express, London, UK to Venice, Italy
Perhaps the most iconic railway journey in existence, the Venice Simplon Orient Express travels from London to romantic canal city Venice. The most special part of this experience is the carriages themselves, which were originally made in the 1920s, 30s and 50s and have been lovingly and accurately restored. The journey itself takes 24 hours, and takes you through stunning Alpine scenery, like the snowy peaks surrounding the Arlberg Pass. Meals are served in 1920s art deco carriages, filled with an enchanting atmosphere from soft lighting and with French fine dining influence. You'll be whisked away to the golden age of travel.
The Rocky Mountaineer, Canada
The dramatic, snow-capped Canadian Rockies are home to a truly special railway journey, which sets off from cosmopolitan Vancouver and finishes in remote town Banff. First built in 1885, the route passes unforgettable scenery including Castle Mountain, the often ice-covered Bow River, and Pyramid Falls. Along the way, you'll spot some of Canada's most spectacular wildlife, including ospreys and bald eagles, and if you're lucky even black or grizzly bears. The route takes two days, and hotel accommodation is provided overnight in ski paradise Whistler.
The Northern Explorer, New Zealand
Spanning the length of New Zealand's North Island, this ten hour journey on the Northern Explorer will take you past beautiful and varied landscapes, including the majestic volcanoes of Mt Ruapehu and Mt Tongariro, rocky coastline, rugged bush and lush interior farmlands. The historic railway was built in 1908, but the carriages are equipped with contemporary facilities like roof windows and GPS triggered optional commentary. Make sure you watch the train's journey over the stunning Hapuawhenua Viaduct from the open air viewing deck, an engineering marvel which towers over a remote forested landscape.


The best beach holidays for families in Europe


The best beach holidays for families in Europe

From the white sands of Southern France to the rugged cliffs of Turkey's Mediterranean Coast, Europe is the perfect place for a luxurious beach holiday with kids in tow. Choose from hotels in quaint seaside towns with a VIP selection of restaurants nearby or pick an all-inclusive five star resort which provides you with safe and easily accessible sun, sea and sand.

Majorca, Spain
Majorca is perhaps the dreamiest of the Spanish Balearic islands, and the perfect place for a break with kids. In particular, Port d'Alcúdia is stunning seaside town located on the north coast of the island and is famous for its slow pace of life - the perfect location for those who want a peaceful beach retreat. The old town here hosts a myriad of ancient sites among its historic streets, along with an array of charming restaurants. Stay at five-star hotel Viva Zafiro Alcudia, which prides itself on its child-friendly atmosphere. Food and facilities are all inclusive, and there are three different kids clubs to look after your little ones.
Algarve, Portugal (photo)
The beautiful beaches of the Algarve are renowned all over Europe, and Sagres, on the wild southernmost tip of Portugal is ideal for a secluded break. A beach worth a visit is Praia de Barranco, which is tucked well away from the wild ocean swells of the Atlantic, and while it means there's not much by way of surfing, you'll find still, clear waters that are perfect for swimming. The beaches here are backed by rolling greenery and there's no overdevelopment to be found here. For a truly luxurious experience that still caters for children, stay at Pine Cliffs Residence, where the award-winning kids club offers mini-golf and water ball.
Dalaman, Turkey
Stretching from Istanbul towards the Greek Islands, the Mediterranean coast of Turkey is home to secluded beaches, turquoise sea and ancient ruins where you'll be the only visitor. Resorts like the Hillside Beach Resort, situated an easy trip from Dalaman airport, combine luxury with a dose of family fun. With its secluded sitting on a private bay, the resort is fringed with pine trees and has a private stretch of sparkling sea at its doorstep.There's plenty for kids to do - windsurfing or sailing for older children, and for younger ones, activities like pottery or mask making sessions. In the meantime, you can relax at the Balinese spa or indulge in a seaside massage at their aptly-named Serenity Beach.
Hvar, Croatia
Hvar town is Croatia's most fashionable resort, located on a stunning island and attracting Hollywood heavyweights like Daniel Craig and Keira Knightley and even royalty, like Prince Harry. The town is a joy to wander around, with marbled car-free streets and characterful shops and restaurants contained within its 13th century city walls. Stay at Palmizana Hotel, located just outside of town, where you and your kids can still access the shops and restaurants easily, while enjoying hidden bays with a network of trails and footpaths to escape down, looking over the turquoise sea.
Lindos, Rhodes, Greece
Sleepy Lindos is the perfect getaway - located on the bucolic Greek island of Rhodes, the seaside village is hidden away from the heavy development along some of the rest of the coastline. Here, you can find clear, unspoilt waters, white-washed houses which overlook the beach, and towering above the town, a fascinating acropolis which dates back to the 4th century BC. For a characterful experience, stay at Hotel Ellique, a restored 14th century property in the centre of the historic village, with a family-friendly atmosphere children will feel at home in.


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