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Why I fell in Love with Luxury Travel

For the past nearly four years of writing this blog I’ve been on a mission to show that luxury travel isn’t just about posh, stuffy hotels that cater for the elite. For me luxury travel is about rare experiences, exclusive access, privacy and distance from the crowds and a look at culture in an authentic way. It’s about bespoke and personalised moments, attention to detail, people, places, memories, times…it’s not about things, showing off or how much money you’re spending. Needless to say, everyone defines luxury in a different way and it’s all about that special meaning that it has to you.
Luxury travel has been a passion of mine for many years, long before I started my blog, with a love for beautiful hotels, different destinations, unique experiences and gastronomy. I read recently abut the wanderlust gene and the idea that desire to travel is inherited from our parents but in my case that’s not true. My parents don’t have that wanderlust bug and actually don’t enjoy flying…when I was younger they’d take us cruises around the Caribbean and the Meditteranean. Having been on lots of cruises I now have strong opinions on them, whilst there’s a lot to be said for waking up in a new country everyday and the ease of exploring multiple destinations on one trip, I would personally rather travel deeper, feel a culture and take my time to see a place in depth. That’s not to say I would never go on a cruise again…never say never!
Let’s skips forward a few years past the post A-Level and university trips to Kavos and Ibizia – those are certainly experiences that I’ll never repeat – and on to how I choose to travel nowadays. I wrote a post about year ago on my travel style which focuses on travelling with Mr S, enjoying foodie experiences in unique places and creating memories. It is the places I’ve stayed in that have formed this style and given a narrative to my travel story. For me a hotel should be chosen carefully in order to epitomise the destination and embrace all aspects on the culture. If a hotel doesn’t have a sense of place, I will struggle to fall in love with it.
Wolgan Valley in the Blue Mountains of Sydney was the first time I ever stayed in an luxury, experiential lodge and it was here that I fell in love with this style of travel. At Wolgan Valley you stay in incredible accommodation in a conservation-based resort in a nature reserve. With nothing else for miles around you can be at one with nature (kangeroos and wallabys), explore the history of the location and dine on local cuisine. For a Londoner or city dweller seeing the stars at night alone is a luxury…

Since our stay at Wolgan Valley it’s been my mission to seek out incredible places like this…
A place may be defined as five-star by it’s amenities but in my eyes it’s the experience that truly makes it…For example Sasaab in Samburu. Our accommodation was a tent – no mini bar or even air conditioning but one of my favourite all time places to stay. Waking up to incredible views, dik-diks playing on our terrace, the opportunity to go camel trekking and eating breakfast in the wilderness. 
A climb to the summit of the rock and eating sausages cooked over a flame and drinking prosecco from metal cups was a far cry from Michelin-star restaurants and caviar but still one of the most luxurious experiences of life. At Sasaab we may have been surrounded by the most incredible wildlife but what truly made the experience for us was the warmth and hospitality of the staff. After all it’s the people that really take the hotel experience to the next level.

Another hotel that’s played a big part in my travel story was Mnemba Island which is probably tied with Singita Boulders for being one of my favourite hotels of all time. With only 12 cottage-like bandas we experienced the ultimate in privacy at this gorgeous lodge in Zanzibar. The incredible location and beauty of the architecture still wouldn’t be complete without the incredible people that run the hotel – from the general manager who met you for a drink before dinner, to the chef who carefully plans your meals with the utmost respect to your personal taste and your personal butler who is there for you whenever you need him. 
Yes, I fell in love with luxury travel but it wasn’t through superficial things, five stars hotels and over the top service – it was through places, experiences, uniques opportunity…but most of all it was through the people I met.

 


  • Aftab – Fresh And Fearless

    I’m with you on this Angie! Although I do like a nice luxury hotel, it is all about the money can’t buy experiences that come with luxury travel.

    • It’s those incredible memories that will live with you forever.

  • Binny Shah-Patel

    100% those moments that are etched in your memory forever and that are unique. Plus love that Kenya gets a mention <3

  • Suze

    For me, it was taking holidays in France when we were young that opened my eyes to a whole other world and made me want to learn the language and travel as much as I could!

    • That’s so interesting to know!! And great that you’ve fulfilled your dream.

  • Beautifully said mon cher!

  • I absolutely agree that luxury isn’t about prohibitive cost but rather rarified experiences. It’s interesting that travel has become the luxury of choice as a reaction to the minimalism movement, but then again travel is the only thing you can buy that will make you richer! x

    Ps. As for the wanderlust gene, I am convinced it is both cultivated and inherited – at least in my case it is! x

    Paris, France: My First Ever European One Night Stand – Posh, Broke, & Bored

  • I definitely feel that ‘luxury’ will mean different things to different people, and it’s often about so much more than just the decor of a place. My Mum has a real love of luxury hotels and a luxury lifestyle, so I think I must take after her! x

    LuxeStyle

    • Yes! You must do! I totally agree that luxury means different things to different people.

  • drsolly

    The great thing about taking two small daughters on a cruise, is that you can abandon them for the entire day – you know they’re somewhere on the ship, and you don’t care where.

    dik-diks

    • The great thing about going on a cruise is that you can abandon your parents….

      What did you just call me?

  • Sophie

    I’m really into affordable luxury as don’t believe you have to spend a fortune to enjoy such a great experience. You just have to do your research! There are so many gorgeous boutique hotels out there that are incredible! We stayed in a luxury hotel in Budapest and it only worked out £60 a night – best hotel we’ve stayed in! So many little things made it feel much more luxurious than the price tag suggested.
    Sophie
    x
    A Story of a Girl

    • OMG I totally agree with that too. Research is the most important part of it!

  • What a lovely post to read Angie! For me, very similar to Suze actually it was my trips to the South of France when I was younger, we didn’t travel in luxury we went on camping trips and I LOVED that so much as a child and the excitement of it all- it was so easy to meet people.

    My love for culture started from there, and seeing other parts of the world inspires me. Luxury travel is incredible and you’re absolutely right it’s the attention to detail and the personalisation of the trips that I especially love, the little things.

    One aspect I really love is when a hotel personalised something as a surprise just for you knowing your likes and interests, and leaving something special in your room for example. Warm hospitality is everything and treating your guests like family, it makes all the difference.

    Wonderful post Angie and enjoy Spain!

    Laura xo
    http://www.shehearts.net

    • I totally agree I love personalised surprises and cute little things waiting for you at the end of the night. It’s so interesting to know what sparked your love of travel. I’d love for you to join the link up.

  • Joy Michelle

    What a compliment to Wolgan Valley! Love your wedges/dress 🙂

    Joy @ The Joyous Living

  • I loved reading more about your love of luxury travel and how it all started. I completely agree, travelling in luxury is all about the experience, the food and the adventure, not the superficial stuff! Now I really want to go to Wolgan Valley! xxx

    • Oh you would love Wolgan Valley. If only it wasn’t so start away….26 hours to Sydney and then a three hour drive!!! How is my favourite hotel thirty hours away!!

  • So nice to hear more of your story Angie. I didn’t leave Australia with my parents nor did they travel overseas either. I caught the travel bug after going to Japan on a school trip at the age of 16. From then on, I knew there was a big wide world out there – so different from what my backyard in Australia. I then saved up enough money to buy a ticket to America and when I was 18 years old, I moved to to Utah to work the ski season in a super posh ski resort. And then I’ve never stopped travelling since! I’m addicted!

    • That’s amazing that you went on a school trip to Japan! What a way to catch the bug!! Thank you so much for contributing a post to our link up, I loved reading your story.

  • Such a great post on luxury travel – it really isn’t labelled by 5 stars and Michelin restaurants, it’s definitely a personal preference! For me its all about the personal service and welcoming feeling x

    • That’s how I feel too!! I’ve in luxury hotels where the staff aren’t welcoming and then you just don’t want to be there.

  • Edward

    Hey Angie… you nailed it. Elitism is no longer luxury and the things
    you can’t decorate, demand or charge to your room are exactly what makes
    travel luxurious. The only thing I’d say is it’s much easier to find a
    relatively unknown luxury destination (e.g. Masurian Lakes in Poland)
    than to try and do an ‘over-visited’ location, let’s say Paris, in a
    uniquely luxury way. The more attention a place gets, the more
    internet-mud you have to wade through to find knock-out, ‘underground’
    experiences, in my experience. That’s generally my first elimination
    round when scouting destinations for our small group international food
    & wine tours 😉 Can’t wait to hear more of your story!
    – Edward

    • Hi Edward,
      I totally agree about those ‘over visited’ places. I’m going to Iceland in August and we’ve chosen to go somewhere that’s totally in the middle of no where!

      • Edward

        Hey Angie, how was Iceland? One of my good mates lives over there and she’s always going on about places that seem like Walter Mitty would end up. Hope you got to jump in a jeep and truck into the unknown 🙂

  • Love this post, Angie! I’m big on luxury travel too. To me, it’s all about those unique experiences!

  • sally higgins

    That’s a really interesting take on luxury travel. In particular the idea of researching and looking for the sense of place. I must say that I havn’t really thought about that much and it makes a lot of sense. Great post and some amazing experiences.

  • Love your intro to this Angie! You’re right luxury travel isn’t about just the money, but about those special and unique experiences. Great reading about what got you hooked!

  • I love your definition of luxury travel. I never felt like I did luxury travel, but now after reading this, I’m seeing it all in a different perspective. Thanks for that!

  • I absolutely love your viewpoint on luxury travel. For a long time I figured luxury travel was just out of my price range, an impossible thing to do or dream of. But in the last few years I’ve realized that even experiences where I may not have spent a TON of money, but instead had a unique experience, connection to the place, and truly felt relaxed were actually… luxury! What comes to mind are a wonderful riad that felt like an oasis in Marrakech, an agriturismo in Italy, and some sky-high meals in London. I agree that hotels play such a HUGE part in how I experience a place… I always spend ages choosing the exact right one because I know it will impact how I feel about the place I travel to so much!

  • The luxury of space, privacy, a view and charming hosts is what I adore the most! When a place has all that like you say the memories are a luxury

  • You’ve certainly stayed in some amazing, unique places! Just glorious.