2017: Best Boutique Hotels
Hotel chains bank on being similar no matter where you are geographically, that’s their business. Uniformity sells and that’s fine for most, but some travelers want a unique experience when they venture. Boutique hotels are fast becoming the rage in all of your favorite vacation spots. We recently attended the World Boutique Hotel Awards in London and spoke with some of the hotel world’s leading innovationists. Who knows hotels better than hoteliers?
Here is our list of the best boutique hotels in the world, compiled from the best hoteliers in the business.
A celebrated panel of voters who are experts in luxury, boutique hotels and first class accommodations decides the World Boutique Hotel Awards.
El Nido, Philippines
Being as it is winter in the States and huge arctic storms are wreaking havoc on the nation, we may as well start with their award for best Beach or Coastal Hotel: El Nido, Pangulasian Island, Philippines.
El Nido describes itself as “A glittering Island resort with serious eco credentials.” This is a nice summary but this island resort is unlike any other, and uniquely remote. Known as the “Last Frontier,” Palawan Island is a Mecca for nature lovers and eco travelers in general. A little off the beaten path is saying it lightly, just getting to this resort is a whole ordeal. For the adventurous, this eco resort is worth the trouble. El Nido is perfect for the soul-searching vagabond who wants to lie around on deserted beaches and explore undiscovered islands.
El Nido is located on an island with 42 villas, breathtaking views and first class service. A ferry brings you to the resort and you dread the day it comes to take you away. Visitors revel in the fact that there just isn’t enough hours in the day top take it all in.
Highlights include native wildlife, vast reefs to explore and exclusive, candle-lit dinners on the beach. Villas on stilts over turquoise water and an attentive staff make this boutique villa a must visit in 2017.
Over Yonder Cay, Bahamas
Continuing the trend of best beach hotels, the next award is for World’s Best Private Villa. This award goes to Over Yonder Cay, Bahamas. A sustainable resort located on a private island in the Bahamas, which was developed for the rich and famous.
Over Yonder Cay welcomes guest to choose between four uniquely designed villas for up to 28 of your closest friends and family. Each villa is designed specifically to capture the natural beauties of the island. Villas range from 3 to 4 suites and each sleep up to 8 guests. Of course the entire island can be reserved for the solitude seeking guests.
Formerly a remote fishing outpost, the island has been transformed into a sustainable vacation destination for those seeking true privacy and luxury. Boasting 97% sustainability, the island has three wind turbines and a 1.5 acre solar field; producing enough reusable energy for an ultra reliable, generator free island.
A deep water marina for all your ocean going vessel needs, a beach club for your gathering needs and a water sports cabana encompassing all your aquatic adventures. A private island resort for the upper crust and the elite 1%, Over Yonder Cay is the world’s best private villa winner and rightfully deserved
Vigilius Mountain Resort, Italy
Once we talk about sustainability it’s hard to not mention this next hotel, voted world’s most sustainable hotel, Vigilius Mountain Resort, in South Tyrol, Italy. Touted as an island in the mountains, Vigilius Mountain Resort has no roads leading up to it; visitors instead take a private cable car up the 1,500 meter accent to the mountaintop.
Vigilius Mountain Resort offers an eco friendly getaway with astonishing views of the Dolomite Mountains and delivering superb alpine and northern-Italian fare. A truly remote setting allows guests to remove themselves from today’s technological pressures and annoyances. Zero cars, traffic or noise pollution of any kind can reach this mountaintop resort.
Built and designed with nature in mind, Vigilius resembles a fallen tree and has 360-degree views of the entire mountain range. From sunsets to sunrises every room has a view and is the perfect place to find serenity.
With a goal to leave no carbon footprint, Vigilius sets the bar by using locally sourced products, sustainable resources and eco friendly building materials. Even the kitchen only uses locally supplied produce and meats.
Aenaon VIllas, Greece
From eco to romance, we shift to this year’s most romantic hotel: Aenaon Villas, Santorini, Greece. Located on an island in the Southern Aegean Sea, this beauty is the quintessential romantic vacation spot on most people’s bucket list.
Adorned by steep cliffs and endless views, the Aenaon Villas sits upon an ancient volcanic caldera. Multi-colored cliffs dot the coastline and volcanic sand beaches await the seasoned traveler.
The resort is located on the narrowest part of the island, giving it the most spectacular views. There are seven private villas, each with their own unique veranda and infinity pool. The villas were built with traditional Cycladic architecture to encompass the local history and natural harmony.
Santorini is a lovers’ getaway and Aenaon Villas represents the perfect romantic vacation. Greece is the cradle of civilization and Santorini acts as a bridge between history and luxury.
Award Winning Hotels:
For more amazing boutique hotels, check out this list of other winners from the World Boutique Hotel Awards:
Voted Best Honeymoon Hideaway: Punta Tragara, Capri, Italy
Voted Best New Hotel: Hotel Gotham, Manchester, UK
Voted Best Culinary Hotel, Vila Joya, Algrave, Portugal
Voted Best Wellness Spa: Borgo Egnazia, Puglia, Italy
Voted Best Boutique Hotel: Secret Bay, Dominica, West Indies
Guide to Eating in Austin
I’ve been living in Austin for two months now, and in that time, I’ve consumed a lot of food. After all, Austin is home to an incredible food scene — from BBQ joints to food trucks to healthy, organic outlets to (of course) Mexican restaurants. As more and more people move to Austin (close to […]
I’ve been living in Austin for two months now, and in that time, I’ve consumed a lot of food. After all, Austin is home to an incredible food scene — from BBQ joints to food trucks to healthy, organic outlets to (of course) Mexican restaurants. As more and more people move to Austin (close to 160 a day at last count) and the city balloons with a more diverse population, Austin has expanded its dining fare to include more varied and higher-quality food.
Part of the reason Austin’s food tastes so delicious is because of the locally-sourced ingredients. As the birthplace of Whole Foods, Austin has always embraced organic food, and it was one of the frontrunners in the farm-to-table movement.
Moreover, to meet the needs of the expanding population, nearly 200 new food trucks and restaurants open up each year! With so many eateries opening all the time, you’re going to get hugely increased variety, selection, and quality.
While I still have much more exploring to do and food to eat, I want to share some of my favorite places to eat in the city for your next visit:
If there is anything I dislike about Austin, it would be the lack of good Asian cuisine, as it is my favorite in the world. When it comes to Asian food, it has a lot of those fusion joints that serve Chinese, Thai, sushi, and Korean all at once. Most are simply acceptable; they won’t blow you away. However, there are a few restaurants worth eating at:
- Bar Chi (206 Colorado St., (512) 382-5557, www.barchiaustin.com) – Decent sushi but an unbelievably affordable happy hour (5-7pm each day). My friends and I come here because it satisfies the sushi craving on the cheap!
- East Side King (1618 1/2 E. 6th S., (512) 407-8166, www.eskaustin.com) – Located in The Liberty Bar (also a kick-ass bar), this is best Asian-Thai fusion food truck in the city! Be sure to get the pork buns, tori meshi, or the chicken buns.
- Lulu B’s (3632 S. Congress Ave., (512) 921-4828, www.facebook.com/LuLuBsAustin) – I found this place thanks to Jodi from Legal Nomads. I’m not the Vietnamese food expert she is, but this place was delectable. I’ve only had the beef pho, but it was a flavorful broth.
- Piranha (207 San Jacinto Blvd. #202, (512) 473-8775, www.piranhakillersushi.com/piranha-locations/austin) – My all-around favorite sushi joint. The sushi here gives you the most value for your money, and it’s always fresh and of high quality. I particularly love their yellowtail.
- Thai-Khun (1816 E. 6th St., (512) 407-8166, eskaustin.com/v2/thaikun) – As a Thai food snob (ever since I lived in Thailand), I’m always disappointed at Thai restaurants because I never think the food is as breathtaking as in Thailand. This place in Austin is the closest to true Thai food that I’ve found so far.
- Uchi (801 S. Lamar, (512) 916-4808, uchiaustin.com) – The fanciest high-end sushi restaurant in the city. They also have a sister restaurant called Uchiko. Both live up to their reputations and are good date places. Reservations recommended!
- Wu Cho (500 W. 5th St. #168, (512) 476-2469, wuchowaustin.com) – This is one of the best Chinese restaurants in the city. They serve a very popular dim sum brunch on Sundays. Be sure to come early as it gets packed during dinnertime and Sunday brunch, and the wait for a table can be up to an hour.
If there is one thing Austin does well, it’s “Americana” food. I define that as a fusion of multiple cuisines: burgers, fries, steaks, seafood, and the like.
- Launderette (2115 Holly St., (512) 382-1599, launderetteaustin.com) – Located in an old laundry store, this restaurant is one of the hottest spots in town and serves an amazing menu of Americana and seafood, as well as a decent selection of wine. Some of my favorite dishes include crab toast, burrata, okra, brussels sprouts, and grilled octopus. If you’re coming for dinner, come early, as it fills up fast.
- Truluck (400 Colorado St., (512) 482-9000, trulucks.com) – This is my favorite steak restaurant because it’s one of the few places where you can also get fresh seafood (crab, oysters, lobster). It’s not cheap, but if you want a upscale steak house, try this.
- Péché (208 W. 4th St., (512) 494-4011, www.pecheaustin.com) – A New Orleans–inspired restaurant serving Bayou food, and it has a very friendly staff, tasty cocktails, and an extensive whiskey list.
Austin is world-famous for its BBQ, and you can’t walk down the street without running into a restaurant that serves it. The title for Austin’s best BBQ is hotly contested among fans, and I don’t claim to know who’s right — to me, BBQ is either good or really damn good. But these are among my favorites:
- Franklin Barbecue (900 E. 11th St., (512) 653-1187, franklinbarbecue.com) – This is considered the top of the top of the top BBQ joints in the country. Even the president ate here! It’s open from 11am until they run out of food (usually in a few hours). Lines start at 8am, so it’s best to go midweek in summer when most people don’t want to wait in that line and you don’t need to line up until 9 or 10am.
- La Barbecue (1906 E. Cesar Chavez St., (512) 605-9696, www.labarbecue.com) – BBQ is a matter of perspective. A lot of people say Franklin’s is the best, but La Barbecue is #1 to me. It opens at 11am. Expect two-hour waits during lunchtime, so get here early.
- Iron Works BBQ (100 Red River St., (512) 478-4855, ironworksbbq.com) – Located downtown, this restaurant serves above-average BBQ with large portions and hearty helpings of side dishes. I come here for the lunch brisket plate.
- Micklethwait Craft Meats (1309 Rosewood Ave., (512) 791-5961, craftmeatsaustin.com) – An awesome food truck on the east side of the city. I’m in love with its ribs, brisket, and BBQ sauce. While it’s very popular, the line here isn’t as long as the other places listed.
Tacos are serious business in this city. I have yet to fully experience much of the wonder that Austin has to offer on this front, but I do like a few of the big names:
- Veracruz (1704 E. Cesar Chavez St., (512) 981-1760, veracruztacos.com) – The best food truck in town (conveniently located across the street from my hostel). It makes wonderful breakfast tacos, and the migas was voted #1 in the country. There is never really a line, but service is slow.
- Torchy’s (multiple locations, torchystacos.com/in/austin) – World famous (and another spot where the president ate), this taco place has multiple locations in the city. It lives up to all the hype! I’m a big fan of the fried avocado and trailer park tacos. Every location is always packed, so expect a wait, especially on the weekends. The food here is pretty spicy, too.
- Taco Deli (multiple locations, www.tacodeli.com) – Another delicious eatery serving mouth watering breakfast tacos.
Mexican & Tex-Mex
Like tacos, there are a lot of world-class Mexican and Tex-Mex restaurants in Austin! There are plenty of people who can dissect their finer points — I am not one of those people, however. But these establishments will never steer you wrong:
- Vivo (6406 N. Interstate Highway 35, (512) 407-8302, vivoaustin.com) – Solid Mexican with huge portions, spicy dishes, and friendly staff.
- Benji’s (716 W. 6th St., (512) 476-8226, benjiscantina.com) – Amazing margaritas, huge portions, and an outdoor patio area. Their incredible guacamole is made tableside.
- Tamale House East (1707 E. 6th St., (512) 495-9504, www.facebook.com/tamalehouse.east) – Located in East Austin, this hole-in-the-wall is only open for breakfast or lunch. It’s famous for its tacos, but like the name suggests, get the tamales!
There isn’t a lot of good Indian food in town, mostly because there just isn’t a lot of good Asian food in general. I’m not an Indian food expert, but these two are my favorites:
- The Clay Pit (1601 Guadalupe St., (512) 322-5131, claypit.com) – I order from this spot through UberEats all the time since it often has fast delivery. I love the samosas and jasmine rice, and their naan is just perfect!
- Masala Dhaba (75 Rainey St., (512) 665-6513) – A higher-end, sit-down restaurant with a flavorful chicken tikka masala!
Some other of my favorite must-eats:
- P. Terry’s (multiple locations, pterrys.com) – This is the best burger bar in the city. It’s delicious and cheap (you can get a burger, fries, and a drink for $6 USD), with filling portions. This is one of my all-time favorite spots in the city, and since it’s close to my house, I tend to eat here too often!
- The Onion (408 Brazos St., (512) 476-6466, onionbaby.com) – Coming from NYC, I’m spoiled for pizza — you can buy tasty dollar slices anywhere you go there. That’s not the case in Austin: slices are around $4 USD and not as good, but if there is one pizza place I do like, it’s this one.
- Gus’s Fried Chicken (117 San Jacinto, (512) 474-4877, gusfriedchicken.com/austin-texas-location) – The sister restaurant to the famous location in Memphis, this place has juicy, moist chicken with battered skin that bursts with flavor in your mouth. It’s freaking amazing! They also serve mouthwatering fried green tomatoes and pickles.
- Leaf (115 W. 6th St., (512) 474-5323, leafsalad.com) – This new lunchtime salad place is incredible (also the line is long). Its gigantic salad bar has anything and everything you could ever want to put in a salad. It’s one of my favorite places for a healthy meal in Austin.
- True Kitchen (222 West Ave. #HR100, (512) 777-2430, truefoodkitchen.com) – This new restaurant is incredibly popular with people after work. All its food is natural and organic. You’ll find healthy wraps, salad bowls, sandwiches, and fresh and flavorful seafood, as well as an incredible selection of wine and cocktails.
Austin’s growing food scene means that there are still plenty of places I haven’t eaten at yet — and a few locations I probably left out, as a result — but during your visit to Austin, you’ll find yourself with more than enough choices by using this list as your guide!
America Travel News: Can I Fly To The USA Right Now?
On 16 March, the Trump Administration announced a travel ban to the US. This mandate affects travelers originating from a list of countries currently prohibited from entering the United States. Most Brits, who go on trips to the US, do so for holidays. But can they still travel to the US right now?
Brits Entering America
Unfortunately, Brits who were recently in the UK, Schengen region, Ireland, Brazil, Iran, or China during the last 14 days cannot enter the US. Exceptions to this ruling are the following:
- US citizens and green card holders (permanent residents);
- Brits who are married to a US citizen or a green card holder;
- Close family members of US citizens and green card holders; and
- Selected visa holiday holders.
If you are not among these groups listed above, you are currently not eligible to enter the United States.
Similarly, the United Kingdom added the US to its red list. This means that effective on 3 July, people who originate from the US are also not allowed to enter the UK during this time. There is no current reciprocal travel corridor agreement between both countries.
Because of the rapid increase in COVID-19 cases in the United States, it is equally unlikely that travel restrictions to the UK for Americans will be lifted soon.
Increasing COVID-19 Infection in the US
Related to this junction, the US recently eased lockdown protocols in various popular vacation spots, including Florida and New York. However, in several locations like Las Vegas and California, travel restrictions are being imposed to halt the growing number of infections further.
As of writing, the United States has the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the world. Its record has already reached 6,135,598, while the current international COVID-19 total is now 25,140,903—both alarming numbers that heavily impact worldwide public health and economic well-being.
When Will This Ban Be Lifted?
There is no definite date scheduled for the lifting of the said travel ban. The ban will continue to be in effect until authorities determine that traveling between the UK and the US is already safe.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of America’s leading public health officials, asserts that present travel restrictions might only be eased when a veritable vaccine is discovered and developed. During a Telegraph interview, Fauci mentions that the ban may take “months than weeks” before it gets lifted. He adds, “I don’t think there’s going to be an immediate pullback for those kinds of restrictions.”
“The US from a very early stage banned flights from the UK and Europe, so there isn’t a reciprocal relationship in place there in any case,” says Transport Secretary Grant Shapps in a recent BBC Radio 4 interview.
Even US Secretary of Treasury Steve Mnuchin supposes that the said travel ban might last until 2021—a presumption that may be further delayed given the current infection trends within the US.
For those who are given the green light to enter the US, however, there are several flights between the UK and the US every day. Several airlines like American Airlines, United, and British Airways fly from London to Atlanta, Los Angeles, Miami, Dallas, Chicago, Boston, Washington, DC, and New York daily.
For canceled flights, however, passengers are eligible for refunds or travel vouchers. You must contact your specific airline for details on how to do so.
Top Travel Apps for 2017
Traveling has only become easier as technology and innovations continue to grow. Gone are the days of lugging around a laptop, digital camera, maps, flashlights etc… all while trying to pack light on your excursion. Thanks to our trusty iphone or android devices, navigating this humongous planet has certainly gotten simpler. Here is a handy […]
Traveling has only become easier as technology and innovations continue to grow. Gone are the days of lugging around a laptop, digital camera, maps, flashlights etc… all while trying to pack light on your excursion. Thanks to our trusty iphone or android devices, navigating this humongous planet has certainly gotten simpler.
Here is a handy list of awesome apps you can download to make your life on the road a much less complicated one.
Café Wifi –
This handy little app helps with your digital drama by finding all the free WiFi hotspots in your general vicinity. This helps you stay away from the huge chains and find your small corner of paradise to service all your technological needs. Best thing is the service and app are both free. Browse the internet from any corner of the city while you wanderlust around the globe.
Flight Stats –
This is the perfect application for business travelers or the once a year flight rookies. A simple download and you can check your flight status, terminal and gate location or find out if your flight is delayed or canceled. For the unsure traveler who wants to see their actual planes flight path, this little ditty can help. Once again this app is free and easy to use.
Sure the dating or hook up app is an obvious for single travelers, but did you think about using it to connect with friends. Dating and traveling is difficult but Tinder’s worldwide presence has made dating in the 21st century borderless. Nobody wants to be alone all the time and now with Tinder, you don’t have to be. In addition to dating, Tinder can be used to find out local information like hot bars or delectable restaurants. Tinder is always free to use.
Guides by Lonely Planet –
This app is always on my list because it makes visiting a new city so easy and affordable. Known for their budget friendly travel recommendations and downloadable guides, Lonely Planet truly makes the world smaller. The downloadable guide is key to keeping your roaming data usage low.
The comprehensive guide is great at informing you of local must sees and the typical tourist attractions. I always check these out before I go to any major city, even if I’ve visited before.
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