Everyone has their favourite resources for planning travel both on and off-line and in my last post on luxury travel tips I explained my process in researching my holidays and adventures. In this post I aim to give you a comprehensive list of the resources that I use to plan luxury travel and the best ways of using them.
Websites – General
My main resources for travel are luxury travel websites and generally I will cross reference all of these sites in order to find the best hotels, restaurants and things to do.
Condé Nast Traveller – Condé Nast Traveller is a fantastic one stop shop. On this website you can find city guides, restaurant recommendations, top luxury hotel suggestions and travel tips. I particular love the The Gold List, which ranks the top hotels in the world and the Readers’ Choice Awards in which readers vote for their favourite travel experiences. Condé Nast Traveller is still available in the original form as a magazine (both US and UK edition) but there is a vast amount of information available online for free.
Travel + Leisure – Another great resource for finding the ultimate in luxury hotels, restaurant and destination information is this worldwide travel site. With travel guides, tips and videos, there’s a wealth of insider information. Also check out the World’s Best Awards so see the best cities, islands, hotels, airlines as voted by the readers.
Forbes – Forbes is a great up-to-date guide for all your luxury travel needs and their Global Star Ratings system will give access to highest level of luxury for the discerning traveller. A hotel isn’t truly a top level hotel if it isn’t a Forbes Five Star hotel as the inspectors have the strictest criteria in the industry.
Travel Agents websites – I frequently look at top travel agents websites to help piece together an itinerary of a place relatively unknown to me and to find out their top hotel recommendations. Some of my favourites are Scott Dunn, Artisans of Leisure, Abercrombie and Kent and Audley Travel.
Websites – Hotels
Kiwi Collection – The Kiwi Collection is a great website for finding the top-rated luxury hotels in a particular area. Each hotel is given an average rating based on ten different criteria including service, rooms, wow-factor and attention to detail so that you can see which hotel best suits your specific needs. Look out for the ‘wow’ picks which Kiwi deem to be the truly exceptional hotels.
Mr & Mrs Smith – I’ve mentioned before that I used to work for the boutique hotel bookings company and my days were spent gazing at the #hotelporn on their website and their beautiful books. Though my days of working there are long gone, I still loved their website for hotels with personality, style and something a little different. Hotel choice is really important to me and I alway want to stay somewhere a little different and quirky.
TripAdvisor – Love it or hate it, I alway double check my hotel choice on TripAdvisor. The website is so subjective but you simply can’t argue with photographic evidence if someone has an issue with the hotel. Be wary of TripAdvisor and don’t trust ‘Excellent’ or ‘Terrible’ reviews, make sure to get a good spectrum and check out where the reviewer has stayed before to see if their taste matches yours.
World’s Best Fifty Restaurants – If you’re creating the ultimate luxury travel itinerary, I would advise booking a restaurant in this top 100 list. Make sure you book far in advance as these restaurants are guaranteed to book up quickly.
Websites – What to do
Culture Trip – A great website for finding top ten listicles on restaurants, bars, places to go and things to do. Categories are usefully broken down into food, literature, design, history and more.
Hedonist Guide – I loved these guides as they are guaranteed to come up with some cool choices for hotels, restaurants, bars and activities. These can be filtered down by whether you’re looking for something high end and luxurious, something trendy or a place with a more neighbourhood vibe. The Hedonist Guides don’t cover a huge range of places but they are useful if you’re looking for advice in major cities.
Instagram – Follow inspiring accounts from people who have visited your destinations of choice and check out the hashtags for the country or city. It’s also worth following the tourist boards, top restaurants and hotel accounts.
Pinterest – Some of the best holiday planning is done on Pinterest and I now always create a special pin board for travel inspiration – it really helps to inspire Mr S too! The best way to gather inspiration is to search for key words around your travel destination and to pin the most appealing images to your boards.
Luxury Travel Blogs
Personally I like reading blogs for research, especially for restaurant recommendations, as you are getting advice from someone who feels like a trusted friend rather than a bland travel guide. My favourite all-round luxury travel blogs are as follows:
A Luxury Travel Blog – Founded by Dr Paul Johnson and curated by a team of over 400 writers and guest bloggers. This blog is almost guaranteed to answer any questions that you have about a destination. As it is written by a large team it has a less personal feel than other blogs but it is a great resource and often nominated for best luxury travel blog in the UK.
Mrs O Around the World – Mrs O is the guru of luxury travel, I love her blog as she always chooses super stylish hotels and fabulous experiences with a strong focus on customer service.
Around the World in 80 Pairs of Shoes – I love Kelly’s blog because she always utterly honest and always travels totally independently. Check out Around the World in 80 Pairs of Shoes for luxury hotels, gluten-free recommendations and excellent travel tips.
The Travelista – Jess is always off on an inspiring adventure, staying in gorgeous hotels, experiencing beautiful destinations and ticking things off everyone’s bucket list.
The Lifestyle Diaries – I love Lauren’s enthusiasm for life and seeing the world in the most stylish way possible. Lauren always includes some of her favourite local restaurants, bars to visit and fun things to do.
Holy Smithereens – Jean is a luxurious adventurer based in Canberra, Australia. She stays in some of the most beautiful hotels and often includes a video of her accommodation in her blog post so that you can live vicariously through her.
The Luxury Columnist – You can rely on Suze for fantastically luxurious recommendations both in her home town of London and abroad. Check out Suze’s blog for hotels, restaurants, art and style – this is a lady who knows all about the finer things in life.
Posh, Broke and Bored – Jasiminne travels the world to the most beautiful destinations, dining in the very finest restaurants – but the best thing about Posh, Broke and Bored is Jasiminne’s wicked sense of humour and how she never takes herself too seriously.
Lux Life – Catherine knows how to live up to her surname, living a fabulous ‘Lux’ life! She’s usually found in her home town of London, but often in her adopted Australia and in between taking fabulous European weekend breaks as well as longer trips to tropical destinations.
Andy Hayler – For independent reviews of the finest restaurants around the world, Andy is your man. He has completed the mission of eating in every three Michelin star restaurant in the world several times.
Also be sure to search out local bloggers and ex-pats who will be an absolute mine of information for more authentic and non-touristy recommendations.
Lonely Planet – Whilst nearly all my research is done online, I always buy the Lonely Planet guide for my destination – partly because I like how they look on my shelf and partly for a handy guide if I don’t have internet access. I also love how the guides are laid out making it easy to find the information that you’re looking for with tips on how to manage your time, hotels, restaurants and things to do. Plus Lonely Planet includes guides to history, culture and well as important ‘need to know’ facts such as key phrases, transportation and medical care.
Luxe City Guides – Great little pocket luxury travel guides which are also available as an app on your phone. Luxe covers the top hotels, restaurants and things to do in a nutshell with handy itineraries tailored towards you special interests.
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These are my favourite luxury travel resources, what are yours?