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Countdown to Aman Kyoto

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Living Pavillion at Aman Kyoto

Aman’s third hotel in Japan is on course to open on November 1st 2019.

Aman Kyoto, designed by Kerry Hill Architects who also designed Aman Tokyo and Amanemu, is set within 29 hectares of forest and three hectares of exquisite gardens. Stone pathways and steps meander through the garden leading to upper platforms bordered with yama momiji maples and kitayama-sugi (Japanese cedar).

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Exterior of Living Pavillion at Aman Kyoto

At the heart of the resort is the Living Pavillion opening up onto a terrace overlooking the gardens. The restaurant will serve breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner, to guests and non residents with advance booking.

Executive Chef Kentaro Torri will serve home cooked Kyoto style cuisine as well as innovative Western chef using local, seasonal produce, many sourced from the hotel’s garden.

Taka-an is the resort’s Japanese restaurant. Here, seasonal, local produce will be prepared and served with meticulous precision in keeping with the Japanese art of hospitality.


TAKA-AN Restaurant, Aman Kyoto Taka-An restaurant at Aman Kyoto


TAKA-AN Restaurant, Aman Kyoto

TAKA-AN Restaurant, Aman Kyoto

Aman has 26 guest rooms housed in six stand alone pavilions designed as contemporary versions of traditional Japanese ryokans. The rooms have floor to ceiling windows showcasing the spectacular surroundings and come with tatami mats covering the floors. Large bath tubs in each guest room have been crafted from the native hinoki cypress wood.

Two presidential suites, the Washigamine and Takagamine Pavillions, are set within the most secluded and highest part of the property with expansive views. Both pavillions have two bedrooms, living area, dining room, kitchen and tatami room.


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Living room in Suite at Aman Kyoto


The bucolic grounds at Aman Kyoto provide a serene setting for the spa. The natural spring water that flows underneath the resort provides traditional onsen bathing facilities at the spa with both an indoor and outdoor hot water spring.


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Outdoor onsen at Aman Kyoto

For more information and bookings visit

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Belmond Mount Nelson – the Cape Town hotel with a nod to British Royalty

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Belmond Mount Nelson

Where Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, are staying while visiting Cape Town is being kept closely under wraps. It’s thought to be an official residence but if so they’re missing out on the best hotel in town that’s hosted Nelson Mandela, John Lennon and one of the Duke’s ancestors.

The Belmond Mount Nelson stands at the end of a grand palm tree lined avenue, reached through a colonnaded entrance, that was created ahead of the Prince of Wales’s visit in 1925. From the saluting guard at the entrance to the top hatted doorman at the front door, guests will have the unmistakable feeling that they’ve arrived at somewhere special. A sugar pink building with white gingerbread trim, the glorious shade dates from just after the First World War when the then general manager decided to paint the hotel a cheerful hue in celebration.


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Belmond Mount Nelson


With its enviable position at the foot of the iconic Table Mountain, Cape Town’s most recognisable landmark, there’s no mistaking the location when staying at the Mount Nelson. Should guests wish to hike or cable car to the top of the famous flat topped mountain they couldn’t be better placed. And they’ll find the buzzy Kloof Street right on their doorstep. Both the stunning beaches and wine regions of the Western Cape are an easy car ride away from the hotel.

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Belmond Mount Nelson

The warm climate from November to May has long made this Coastal South African city and the Mount Nelson a magnet for visitors escaping colder climes. The eye catching gardens, filled with verdant trees and bright flowers, were first developed in 1843. Now they include two outdoor swimming pools – one family oriented and the other for guests aged 16 upwards.

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Belmond Mount Nelson


The Mount Nelson was opened in 1889 to provide a suitably first rate hotel for first class passengers disembarking from the Union Castle luxury liners at Cape Town. There was nothing of its standard in the area at the time and it was the first hotel in Cape Town to offer hot and cold running water. The owner also happened to own the Union Castle Shipping Line. The wooden chairs in the Lord Nelson restaurant today are the original deck chairs used on some of the Union Castle ships.

But the hotel’s name derives from much earlier. When the property was advertised for let in the newspaper in 1806 it was referred to as “Mount Nelson”, thought to be a reference to both Table Mountain which it stands in the shadow of and the then ubiquitous Lord Horatio Nelson who died the year before.

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Belmond Mount Nelson

A young Winston Churchill stayed at the hotel as a war reporter during the Boer War  and deemed it “a most excellent and well appointed establishment which may be thoroughly appreciated after a sea voyage”. Almost a century later, and a few months before his death, John Lennon checked in under the pseudonym Mr Greenwood. Staff remember him as exceptionally tidy and said he mediated on Table Mountain.

The hotel has seen some intriguing dramas over the years. The imposing grandfather clock that still stands in the lobby is said to have enraged one guest so much with its loud chimes at midnight that he hammered two six inch nails into the hands. The clock remained silent for 20 years until another guest repaired it (these days, the chime is a lot quieter). Guests were also reputedly outraged by Sherlock Holmes author and keen spiritualist Sir Arthur Conan Doyle holding public séances in his room.

More recently, Nelson Mandela dined regularly at the hotel. Margaret Roberts a waitress at the hotel for over 30 years remembers he had a favourite table in the restaurant and he would always chat to all the staff including in the kitchen.

Afternoon tea at the Mount Nelson, fondly nicknamed “tea at The Nellie” by loyal locals, is an institution. So popular is the tea that the number of sittings per day has been increased from one to four. A morning tea and an evening tea have been added as well as a second afternoon sitting. The morning tea is a little lighter and the evening tea features more cold cuts like smoked ham and biltong and a selection of cheeses.


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Belmond Mount Nelson


Even the standard Deluxe rooms at the Mount Nelson come with a sitting area and most have balconies. The impressive number of suites range from Junior to Presidential, the latter featuring 1930s Baccarat crystal light fittings and a desk dating back from when the hotel opened in 1899. The spaciousness is evocative of the colonial guests from the northern hemisphere who often stayed for months at a time – bringing their own bone china and fine crystal with them. And many present day guests stay for a week or more.


Mount Nelson Pool

Belmond Mount Nelson

Offering the ultimate in luxurious seclusion, there are eight Garden Cottage suites housed in perfectly restored Victorian cottages, each set in its own rose garden with a white picket fence, and right next to the adult’s swimming pool. The sumptuousness is further emphasised by the décor of toile wallpaper, Venetian mirrors, four poster beds and working fireplaces. Not surprisingly they are highly sought after by honeymooning couples and guests seeking privacy.










Where to stay when you’re visiting Downton


The Old Swan

[UPDATE: IRL the village of Downton is actually filmed at Brampton, Oxfordshire. Our pick of where to stay if you want to visit is the Old Swan in nearby Minster Lovell. The hotel will arrange a guided tour of Brampton.]

The Old Swan, Minster Lovell

Imagine the ideal country inn and you’ll picture The Old Swan. Exposed beams and brick, flagstone floors, log fires, cosy nooks, inviting bar… this is a wonderful weekend retreat in the Cotswolds countryside.

When it comes to eating, choose between the more formal restaurant with vaulted ceiling and rich wool tapestries or the pub like but equally appealing dining room.

Old Swan & Minster Mill

Old Swan

Settle down by the fire for a nightcap (the snug is for residents only) before climbing the wooden stairs to one of the most comfortable beds you’ve ever slept in.

Bring your hiking boots as there are walks aplenty almost from the front door.

You can now stay in Rachel Chu and Nick Young’s suite at Raffles Singapore


Nick and Rachel in the presidential suite at Raffles Singapore

When the film Crazy Rich Asians was released last year the spotlight was as much on Singapore as the ensemble cast. Understandably there was a surge of interest in the locations featured (some of which were in Malaysia, masquerading as Singapore). One of the best was Raffles hotel the grandest hotel in town where of course Nick Young “the Prince Harry of Asia” took his girlfriend Rachel Chu to stay.

Their scenes were shot in the Drawing Room above the lobby and the Sarkies Suite, one of the hotel’s two presidential suites named after the original owners and where the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge stayed.

At the time of the film release the hotel was part for a major refurbishment but has now reopened. The Presidential Suites, like the rest of the hotel, have been refreshed by interior designer Champalimaud.

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Redesigned entrance to presidential suite Raffles Singapore

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Redesigned bedroom in presidential suite Raffles Singapore

Also in the film when Nick’s mother visits him at in presidential suite they stand on the private verandah overlooking the Palm Court.

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Palm Court at Raffles Singapore showing Sarkies Suite terrace

The suite costs upwards of £5,000 per night plus 17 per cent taxes. Opening rate packages are available until October 31st 2019.

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Wine Not? What it’s like to stay at Les Sources de Caudalie vinotherapy spa near Bordeaux



Les Source de Caudelie

[UPDATE: From today until September 30th the InterContinental is serving a Grape Antioxidant Afternoon Tea in conjunction with Caudalie. Here’s the story behind the vinotherapy brand.]

The waitress is so shocked she can hardly contain herself: I’m not having wine with my lunch? After a few seconds of stunned silence, she adds with further disbelief: “And I suppose you’re not having pudding either?”

Okay, so I’m in France, where not partaking in the finer things in life is practically sacrilegous, but I am in a health spa. Then again, this is the world’s only vinotherapy centre and it is dedicated to beauty treatments derived from grapes. Denial is definitely not on the agenda here – as well as a cellar of 13,000 wines, there’s a Michelin-starred restaurant and a cigar room. You’re even encouraged to join a wine-tasting session at the nearby chateau.


Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte


The name of this unique spa is Les Sources de Caudalie, and beauticians at the centre, 15 minutes’ drive from Bordeaux, believe that as well as imbibing a couple of glasses of wine a day, we should be bathed and massaged in it, too. The theory is that the humble grape pip is highly effective at countering skin damage caused by free radicals (smoking, pollution and sunlight).

Which is why, later that afternoon, I find myself lying on a plastic sheet being slathered with wine and honey. The sheet is wrapped around me, then covered with what looks like a thermal blanket and I’m left to doze in a gloopy cocoon for 20 minutes. Not only is this bacchanalian-sounding process strangely relaxing, it is meant to render me lithe, toned and youthful to boot.


Les Source de Caudelie hotel


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