This week… pillows, puddings, and very important pooches

It’s been a busy week. Surely everyone is longing for release from the tensions and uncertainty of the pandemic and lockdown. The Christmas season really kicks off as we all seek some fun and laughter. In the UK we wait to hear whether we’ll be able to spend time with our loved ones over the holiday. In the meantime, lockdown is an experience that has highlighted the importance of human connection and we need to take every opportunity to connect.

While we cannot make any assumptions that travel will return to ‘normal’ there’s no harm in dreaming. So, in the spirit of ‘travel tomorrow’, here’s a couple of ideas that grabbed my attention this week.

Regenerate and recharge in snowy Colorado

Taylor River Lodge, Colorado.

A tailor-made wellness adventure in a remote mountain lodge in Colorado has opened for its first ever winter season. At Taylor River Lodge guests are encouraged to fully embrace an ‘off the grid’ mentality and simple, sustainable lifestyle practices curated by specialists Eleven Life, and applied in incremental stages to improve general wellbeing.

Invigorating wellness classes include Snow Cave Yoga Nidra and Snow Shower Hydrotherapy, as well as cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and snowmobiling. A fresh blanket of snow will cover the remote Taylor Canyon in the wilds of Colorado from November to April. Evenings at the lodge revolve around locally inspired cuisine and s’mores around the fire before bedtime, surrounded by the soft babble of the half-frozen Taylor River.

The Taylor River Lodge, Colorado.

Each guest will receive a consultation and an ultra-personalised plan tailored to suit the individual levels of fitness with the aim of embedding life practices, transforming and shaping daily routines, not only during guests’ stay but hopefully for years to come. Eleven Experience

Learn a language in the sun

Sun, sea and Spanish lessons at Casa De Campo Resort.

Learn Spanish with private lessons in a luxury Caribbean resort. Casa De Campo Resort covers 7,000 tropical acres on the southeastern coast of the Dominican Republic. It sounds idyllic with sun, sea and pristine beaches. Spanish lessons are available to book locally at the Abraham Lincoln School for US$40 (around £30) per person per lesson (based on two sharing tuition). Other activities include soccer school, horse riding and, one I would very much like to try, paddle boarding. There’s also a 370-slip Marina & Yacht Club, Polo & Equestrian Club, La Terraza Tennis Centre and 245-acre Shooting Club, and golf courses. An artisan’s village, Altos de Chavón, is modelled on a 16th century Mediterranean village with boutique shops, a museum of Taino Indian artefacts, an art gallery and, randomly, a 5,000-seat Grecian-style amphitheatre inaugurated by Frank Sinatra in 1982.

British Airways is currently offering seven-night packages departing on 16 March 2021, including flights from London Gatwick and accommodation in a Superior Casitas room on all-inclusive basis for £1,336 per person.

It’s a Dog’s Life

VIP’s at The Kensington located in the heart of the Royal Borough on Queen’s Gate in leafy South Kensington.

If you and your four-legged VIP – Very Important pooch – need something to look forward to post lockdown, a stay at The Kensington aims to pamper both you and your furry friend. The NEW ‘It’s a Dog’s Life’ offers a stylish London city break that takes guests’ needs very seriously indeed. The curated package includes tail-wagging treats, luxurious dog beds in suite, blankets, food and water bowls.

A cosy corner under the stairs at The Kensington townhouse.

For the humans, there’s luxurious accommodation for two in one of the hotel’s recently refurbished rooms or suites and à la carte breakfast. Snuggle with your VIP in the hotel’s elegant portico and partake in a coffee, cocktail or bite to eat, cocooned from the winter elements. Or, brave the elements with walkies in one of the green spaces close by at Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park. The concierge team are on hand for the inside on the best local walking routes and pet-friendly places. 

The Kensington is more like an elegant private residence than a traditional hotel. The Drawing Room features open fireplaces, colourful artwork and cosy corners. Enjoy a cocktail in the K Bar or stop by the fitness suite if you feel inclined towards a further work out, in addition to walking the dog that is. 

It’s a Dog’s Life at The Kensington from £450 per night including accommodation, breakfast and all your VIP’s comforts (until 31 March 2020). A £25 cleaning fee will be added to guest’s final bill. Terms and Conditions at The Doyle Collection.

And so to bed…

Luxurious bed linen to treasure.

Sumptious bed linen at home goes a long way to recreating the pampering experience of a stay in a luxury hotel. The exquisite new bedding sets by British brand, Hackney and Peter Reed, are intended as ‘Future Heirlooms’. Our ancestors placed great value on bedding, tapestries, curtains and other textiles and handed these treasures down through the generations. Thankfully, as their generosity enables us to enjoy such treasures today in museums. In recent years fast fashion and cheap textiles, often made from toxic materials, generally end up in landfills.

One set of the Hackney linen is embroidered with the flowers of Artemis and the other with the house’s signature gold monogram. It is made from 100% cotton by Peter Reed, a Royal Warrant-holding, Lancashire-based linen manufacturer. An investment from £395 a set.

P.S. House of Hackney Witchmas’ events programme includes online Tarot Reading with Sara O’Flaherty, the house reader at the prestigious Treadwell’s occult bookshop in London. Price £40. P.P.S. Check out the charming set of Christmas decorations on the web site including David Bowie, Freddie Mercury and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Price from £24 each.

L to R: Hackney & Peter Red Christmas tree ornaments, Ruth Bader Ginsburg; and Freddie Mercury.

Festive workshops

Simon Lycett’s TV career started with the flowers for Four Weddings and a Funeral.

I like to cook and can sew a little, but I especially find watching someone else create very relaxing, whether it’s painting or sketching, preparing a delicious dish or flower arranging. On Friday afternoon, as dusk was drawing in, I joined an online workshop Live on Instagram. Simon Lycett, florist extraordinaire was demonstrating how to make a fabulous Christmas wreath. Simon makes it all seem so easy. It was a lovely way to spend an hour and start tyhe weekend. If I’d thought about it a glass of mulled wine to sip would have been perfect. Workshop courtesy of The Belmond Care Package, the luxury travel specalists. See their web site for more free Instagram events.

Christmas gift ideas, books by Simon Lycett.

P.S. People of the Flower Market: a year at the New Covent Garden Flower Market £16.99 or The Flower Market Year £19.99, both by Simon Lycett, photography by Michelle Garrett would make super Christmas gifts.

Lighting up winter

The fairytale Waddesdon Manor lit up in winter.

Waddesdon has announced an extension to their Winter Light programme throughout January (7 to 31 January) for the first time. Due to open on 14 November, lockdown resulted in refunds for thousands of tickets and a sell-out for the capped number of December tickets.

Baubles in the gardens at Waddesdon Manor.

Tickets are on sale online now to visit safely for an extravaganza of magical lights and gardens ablaze with light using a variety of state-of-the-art effects and bespoke light installations. The spectacular façade of the Manor will be illuminated with dancing lights set to music. All visits must be pre-booked currently to ensure a safe visit. Prices £16 non-NT members.

Stir up Sunday

Gleneagles & Co Christmas pudding.

Today is Stir-up Sunday, a centuries-old custom and marked annually in the church calender on the last Sunday before the season of Advent. Trust the Victorians to turn it into a sentimental tradition but it is rather a lovely one. Growing up, we would take turns to stir the pudding mix at home and make a wish. The house would be filled with the spicy, fruity aromas. It felt magical with the anticipation of the festive season to come. If you missed out on the opportunity to make your own pudding today, or prefer a simpler option, the Gleneagles & Co Christmas traditional pudding is rich with plump fruit, mixed spice, Grand Marnier, dark rum and malty brown ale. Made to a recipe by Gleneagles’ Executive Pastry Chef Phill Skinazi it is available online in the Gleneagles Retail Arcade, and in festive hampers from mid-November.

Surprise, it’s Santa!

Surprise Santa at Stirling.

Someone had to do it. Bring Santa into the 21st technological century. ‘Surprise Santa’ is a new personal video service. Families can get in touch with Santa, upload letters and receive a personalised video response from the man himself in time for Christmas.

Founded by Geoff Morrison of travel company Open Pass Scotland Ltd, Surprise Santa is also supporting the Eilidh Brown Memorial fund with £1 from every online sale going directly towards the building and maintenance of a respite holiday home in the Stirling area for young people and their families who are in treatment or recovering from cancer.

In my inbox

L to R: Peru; bust of Emperor Nero. Photos courtesy The British Museum.

The British Museum this week announced three highlight exhibitions for 2021. The assassination of Thomas Becket, holder of two of the most powerful appointments in medieval England (Royal Chancellor to King Henry II and Archbishop of Canterbury), in 1170 changed the course of history.

Thomas Becket: murder and the making of a saint (22 April – 22 August) will mark 850 years since Becket’s dramatic and brutal murder in Canterbury Cathedral.

Nero (title tbc, but hard to dissociate from the adage “Nero fiddled while Rome burned”). The last male descendant of Rome’s first emperor Augustus, Nero (r. AD 54–68), succeeded to the throne aged only 16. During a reign of almost 14 years, he murdered his own mother, his first wife, and allegedly his second wife. Intriguingly, this major exhibition will question the traditional narrative of this ‘maligned emperor’. (27 May – 24 October).

Ancient Peru (title tbc). To coincide with the 200th anniversary of the independence of Peru next year’s exhibition will highlight the history, beliefs and cultural achievements of the different peoples who lived in these remarkable landscapes from 2000 BC to the arrival of Europeans in the 1500s. (11 November to 20 February).

That’s all for this week. Less than two weeks to go of lockdown in the UK (fingers crossed). Stay safe and well wherever you are in the world.

As always please check the Foreign travel advice web site for the latest on domestic and international travel guidelines.

Unless otherwise stated, I have no affiliation with the brands mentioned but simply aim to share places and products that have caught my eye. I will always state if a post is sponsored or gifted.

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