2017 has been a fantastic year of travel for me. I’ve visited seven new countries (Iceland, The Maldives, UAE, Austria, Hungary, St Vincent, Mexico) plus been to Spain FOUR times, Italy twice, revisited Greece to see Santorini for the first time plus really enjoyed seeing more of my own country. I’ve also managed to tick a fair number of things off my bucket list this year which really does feel amazing. That being said these are my top travel moments of 2017.
1. Taking a dip in the Blue Lagoon and the geothermal pools of Iceland
Iceland was top of my list for places to visit and it was every bit as good as I hoped. I always wanted to visit the famous Blue Lagoon and experience the geothermal water and see the beautiful pool.
Whilst in Iceland we loved our stay at Deplar Farm where we also experience a dip in a random geothermal pool in the middle of nowhere. Both were truly pinch yourself moments.
2. Brunch on the Belmond British Pullman Train
A journey on the Belmond British Pullman Train, sister to Venice Simplon Orient-Express, is a bucket list experience for many people – myself included. I was lucky enough to experience brunch on the famous train this year, a day that made me feel like I was going back in time to the Golden Age of Travel.
I was also delighted that I was able to have this incredible experience with Lauren, who I met through blogging and has become on of my closest friends.
3. Watching a Santorini Sunset
I’d seen the photos so many times on Instagram, the beautiful sunsets on the Greek Island of Santorini. Though I’d visited Greece several times before, I’d never been to this paradise island so it was a dream come true when this year I stayed in the Santo Maris Oia Luxury Suites & Spa as part of a collaboration with Classic Collection and I finally got to see one of those fabled sunsets from our gorgeous hotel.
4. A Beautiful Road trip through Turin
I couldn’t say yes fast enough when I was invited on a beautiful road trip through through Piedmont in North-West Italy as part of a collaboration with Ford Cars. On this trip we visited the utterly gorgeous Cerreto Monsordo Bernardina Estate, ate lunch from the chefs at three Michelin starred Piazza Duomo, went truffle hunting in Alba and visited a chocolate factory in Turin.
5. Revisiting Lake Como
Lake Como will always be a really special place for Mr S and I since our first visit five years ago. Last time we only had a day trip to the lake, this time we stayed for three nights in one of my bucket list hotels, Grand Hotel Tremezzo.
As well as experiencing this hotel for the first time, we returned to Villa D’Este for lunch – hotel that holds so many wonderful memories for us, experienced a private boat trip on beautiful Lake Como and visited the brand new hotel, Il Sereno.
6. First Time in Mexico
At the beginning of the year I was invited to Mayakoba in Mexico to experience everything this wonderful resort had to offer. It was my first time in Mexico and I totally fell in love with the incredible food and the beautiful Rosewood Mayakoba.
I would really love to revisit this gorgeous country and see more of the cultural aspects – Mr S would love it here too.
7. Flying from Gatwick to Heathrow with British Airways
When I was invited to fly from Gatwick to Heathrow with British Airways, I had to do a double take… the journey would be to experience the new premium products that British Airways had to offer but honestly I didn’t understand what was actually going on until I got there.
It ended up being a really fabulous and unique experience from start to finish with three hours in the air experiencing all the new food and beverage offering from British Airways and hearing about everything that they had coming up in the next year.
8. Staying on a Private Island in the Caribbean
I’m so grateful for the wonderful experiences that this blog has given me and one of the best ever was staying on the gorgeous private paradise island of Petit St. Vincent.
A true digital detox, staying on this island in your own little cottage allows you to take a break from the rest of the world and enjoy the fantastic food and service of this magical place.
9. Eating Tapas on the beach BarcelonaBarcelona: a city I’d never visited but one that Mr S loved, I finally visited this year. I certainly fell in love with the city too and the incredible Gaudí architecture. For both Mr S and I one of the best things about the trip was simply enjoying the beautiful beach front restaurants and sampling incredibly fresh fish and paella.
10. A Whirlwind Visit to El Celler de Can Roca
A matter of weeks after my first trip to Barcelona, I returned for a whirlwind press trip in collaboration with the Macallan. We touched down in Barcelona, checked into Hotel Omm and quickly got ready for what was to be an utterly magical night.
After quickly changing we hurtled an hour and a half down the road to Girona and El Celler de Can Roca, a three-Michelin star restaurant that has twice been placed the best restaurant in the world. Here was met the three Roca brothers and ate one of the best meals of our lives, we left a midday the following day having not even spent 24 hours in Spain.
11. Staying in the Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace Budapest and a Festive trip to Budapest
Budapest was a city I’d heard so much about and it had been on my bucket list for so long so it was a dream come true when Mr S whisked me off to the city to stay at Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace Budapest. A trip spent enjoying a gorgeous hotel, the very best restaurants and the cutest of Christmas markets – I can’t imagine a better place to spend Christmas.
12. Coffee Culture in Vienna
The beginning of the year saw my first ever trip to Austria and a visit to the capital city, Vienna. We absolutely loved our stay at Hotel Imperial Vienna and took every opportunity to experience the coffee houses and the famous coffee cultural in this gorgeous city. We tried a fair amount of wine too!
13. A Gastronomic Road Trip through Spain
Having not seen much of Spain before, I really got to explore it more this year especially when I was invited on a trip in collaboration with Gin Mare that would take me across the length of the country. We started in Rioja visiting the architecturally stunning hotel and vineyard, Marqués de Riscal before a three hour drive to Madrid where we checked into Hotel Urso and enjoyed the in house restaurant for dinner.
It was an early start the next day with a three hour train ride to Jerez to see the sherry bodega’s before finishing with lunch at two Michelin starred Aponiente. A rather exhausting whirlwind journey but incredible from start to finish.
14. Driving a Rolls-Royce to Soho Farmhouse
You probably got seriously fed up of me going on about Soho Farmhouse in Oxford but this English countryside retreat is truly my happy place! Mr S and I visited twice this year and the first time it was made even more special because we were leant a Rolls-Royce Wraith to take us there!
We also had an utterly wonderful time when we returned a few weeks later to spend my birthday at my beloved Farmhouse.
15. Staying Converted Monastry in the Spanish Countryside
I know a hotel is truly spectacular when Mr S is blown away – and he really was impressed by Abadía Retuerta LeDomaine – once a twelfth century monastery now a five star hotel and vineyard with a Michelin star restaurant.
With much of the original architecture preserved, this was truly a sensational place quite unlike anywhere we’d ever been!
16. First Time in The Maldives
I think visiting The Maldives is a dream for most people and we finally got to do it at the beginning of this year. We chose two very different hotels; three nights in rustic, bare foot luxury, eco-chic Gili Lankanfushi and three night in uber glamorous and elegant Velaa Private Island.
I mean what an amazing year!! Watch this space for my 2018 plans and January’s Travel link up – Travel Wishlists and plans for the year of adventures ahead.
What were your best travel moments of 2017?