As with any international city, London is awash with traditional tourist sites, from crowded cosy pubs to its famous landmark buildings and vast museums. If you’re planning a trip across the pond to London anytime soon, here are some of V&VPR’s favourite cultural attractions to add to your itinerary.
Whether you’re looking for art or architecture, a visit to London is not complete without an excursion to ‘the world’s leading and largest museum of art and design’ – the infamous Victoria & Albert Museum. The museum has over 2.27 million objects on permanent exhibition; from furniture, fashion and jewellery to ceramics, theatre, sculpture and paintings, you’ll be agog at the treasures within.
Kensington Palace sits parallel to Hyde Park in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. As a place of residence of the British Royal Family since the 17th Century, it is a treasure trove of royal paintings, items, wardrobes and interiors. The Orangery, situated in the grounds of the palace, is the ideal location for a cup of tea after exploring the exhibitions.
The Tower of London & Tower Bridge
The Tower of London is at the heart of much of Britain’s history, William the Conqueror built this London fortress in the 1070s and now, nearly 1000 years on, the Tower still fascinates and horrifies residents and tourists alike with its rich and complex history. Home to the Crown Jewels, recognisable Yeoman Warder’s and the pampered ravens, the Tower of London is a must-see when in the capital. From the Tower, visitors can also see what is arguably the most famous bridge in the world.
The world’s largest antiques market, Portobello Road Market in West London features over 1,000 dealers selling every kind of antique and collectible you could ever imagine. Whether it be from tiny trinkets to one-of-a-kind antique furnishings, Portobello Road Market has something for everyone.
Mr & Mrs Smith latest report Modern Love details a shift from the outdated concept of a romantic trip with champagne, chocolate, rose petals and couples’ massages and onto a rousing notion of romantic travel – becoming more innovative, more exciting and more sensual with new experiences, surprise and plenty of wonder.
- In this new era of dismantled norms, changing perceptions, political melodrama and planetary peri, the senior team at Mr & Mrs Smith have worked with future strategic consultancy firm The Future Laboratory to determine the changing norms of romantic travel. From destination spas, back-to-nature rooms and psychoactive pleasure pursuits to peakends, self-romantic getaways and workcations, the tenets of the romantic trip will have definitively changed and expanded within the next decade: The hospitality industry will embrace a younger generation of couples, singles and polycules who seek meaning, pleasure and purpose through their travels.
- Hotels will become more conscious, with adaptable luxury personalised to their own unique concepts of romance to introduce moments of wonder, connection and intimacy into traveller’s lives.
- Although some guests will still indulge in the classic notions of romantic travel with candle-lit dinners and jacuzzis, the majority of travellers will look to reinforce their bonds by strengthening the communities in the neighbourhoods they visit to leave a positive impact on the destinations in which they go to.
- Single travellers will be open to serendipitous situationships when they travel. And as the working world becomes inherently more flexible, mid- weekers, peakends and workcations will become the go-to model for couples’ rest and recuperation.
- Within a decade, there will be plenty of new ways to indulge and rekindle romantic partnerships. Brands will embrace the cultural and social shifts that will represent this era of new romanticism, transforming romantic travel from something standard to a passionate, rekindling exploration from which, once experienced, there will be no going back.
It’s human nature to crave adventure – we’re all itching to explore foreign cities, visit beautiful destinations, maybe meet a few strangers who become friends — but how can we do this responsibly, minimising the negative impact that tourism can have on the planet?
By traveling smarter, we can leverage the power of the industry to positively contribute to environmental, community, social and economic gains. Here are our top tips to achieve a more sustainable travel itinerary in 2020:
- Avoid over-tourism: it’s tempting to be lured to Insta-popular destinations (think Venice, Machu Picchu, and Santorini), but these destinations are being overwhelmed by tourists, causing a strain on infrastructure and pricing locals out of the communities. When planning your next trip, venture off the beaten track and explore somewhere new – one of our top picks for 2020 is Mongolia, which is perfect for those seeking remote adventures and eye-opening cultural experiences
- Timing is key: if you still prefer to visit a more popular destination, consider traveling outside of peak season; there will be fewer people around, and the money you spend will help businesses that may struggle during quieter periods
- Support recovering areas: another way to be more mindful when creating your destination bucket list is to explore areas that have been impacted by natural disaster or social unrest, and are relying on the economic benefits of tourism to bounce back. Sri Lanka and New South Wales are a couple of options to consider
Opt for a hotel or accommodation option that holds itself to high environmental standards. A couple of our favourites include:
- Singita: conservation brand Singita follows a 100-year purpose to preserve and protect the African wilderness for future generations through the three pillars of biodiversity, community and sustainability. Through partnerships with non-profit funds and trusts Singita implements strategic conservation projects in each of the six regions in which they are located to ensure the existence of Africa’s magnificent wildlife populations and with programmes that aim to help create economic independence within communities that live alongside their reserves.
- Capella Ubud: a luxury tented camp designed by Bill Bensley, Capella Ubud is nestled amidst the unspoiled beauty of Bali’s luscious rainforest. With the conscious idea of “minimal intervention,” thoughtful care was taken in the design of the hotel, and all trees and local plants were left untouched and protected throughout the construction process – not a single tree was cut during the camp’s creation, and as such, there are several trees intercepting the property’s accommodation, restaurants and the spa tents.
- Air travel is often the only viable way to reach some of the world’s greatest destinations, but try to fly direct as much as possible, select eco-friendly airlines and look for carriers that use sustainable aviation biofuel. To avoid air travel altogether, consider destinations that are closer to home; The Sanchaya is a 50-minute ferry ride from Singapore
- Consider the romance of rail travel and embark on an unforgettable rail journey through the likes of South Africa or Tibet
- Explore by foot – Walk Japan has an unrivalled range of tours spread across the length and breadth of Japan, focusing the development of tours on Japan’s little-known and less-visited regions. The team are keenly aware of the need for the responsible and sustainable development of Japan’s tourism resources and are widely recognised for their endeavours
Whilst you’re there:
- Disconnect from the digital world and immerse yourself into local life; ask locals for recommendations on where to eat and what to see and strike up conversations about the history and traditions of the area
- Carry a reusable water bottle to avoid unnecessary use of single-use plastic bottles. Our favourites are from bkr and byta
What are your top tips for travelling more responsibly?
Located on 45,000-acres of untouched wilderness in South Africa’s Sabi Sand Reserve, Singita Castleton Lodge, the former home of Singita’s Founder Luke Bailes’ grandfather is steeped in history. The lodge, accommodating a maximum of 12 guests, has re-opened to showcase a recent design refresh to ensure guests enjoy the utmost exclusivity and comfort in the African bush.
With new wellness experiences on offer, the private villa boasts a brand-new yoga pavilion alongside its state-of-the-art and fully equipped fitness centre – which is accessed via a covered walkway through Castleton’s tranquil gardens. Guests can now also choose between double and single massage treatment rooms. As one of 2020’s wellness trends, Castleton Lodge ensures guests to reconnect with the great outdoors as well as each other, and the expansive deck provides uninterrupted views of the surrounding landscape. It also offers magical fireside dinners under a canopy of stars –the perfect backdrop for a taste of traditional local dishes, cooked by the on-site private chef.
The property’s impressive wine cellar has been expanded and is now conveniently located adjacent to the dining room and lounge. As a highly curated collection of South African finest vintages, it’s the ideal setting for pre-dinner tastings under the guidance of Singita’s knowledgeable sommeliers.
Many antiques and furnishings of the original homestead have been refashioned, adding authenticity to the living areas that extend outdoors onto deep, covered verandas overlooking a busy waterhole nearby, where game regularly gather to drink.
As part of Singita’s Private Villa Collection, guests staying at Castleton Lodge will enjoy the comforts of a private game-viewing vehicle as well as a full staff complement, which includes a Field Guide, private chef and host. Game drives, mealtimes and activities are organised daily according to the preference of each guests – allowing them to have complete freedom to choose the rhythm of their days. The perfect location for a bush escape for families and groups of friends, Castleton offers numerous opportunities for shared activities – from boules to tennis, cricket and a private pool, combining the best elements of an authentic safari with the rustic charm of a farmhouse.
Perth has a number of beautiful hotels across the city, the V&VPR girls have suggested our favourite three places to stay – ideal for a weekend trip, or a longer visit:
Located in Perth’s CBD, the five-star InterContinental Perth is a stylish space with lush interior decorations and 20th century architecture. The hotel boasts an eclectic selection of restaurants both in and along the establishment including Ascua Spanish Grill, The Loft Lounge & Bar, and Grafitti. Hotel guests will also be conveniently within reach of Elizabeth Quay, an exciting waterfront precinct; and Hay Street Mall, Perth’s extensive retail core.
Based in the historic heart of Perth city, COMO The Treasury is a contemporary luxury hotel designed by Australian architect Kerry Hill. After spending the day exploring the city, guests can unwind with a classic afternoon tea at the Treasury Lounge and Bar or spoil themselves with the hotel’s varying list of wellness sessions and treatments ranging from facials, massage therapy, yoga and personal training.
The Colony at Mandoon Estate is perfect for those who would like to escape the hustle and bustle of the city in preference for exploring quaint historic towns, and investigating Perth’s best food and wine trails. Overlooking the banks of the Swan River and Mandoon Estate’s sprawling vineyards, this five-star accommodation provides an unparalleled sense of peace and is conveniently located near some of the Swan Valley region’s top attractions and trails.
Last night, V&VPR attended the annual Skift Megatrends event which looked into the future of travel in 2020. As the travel industry’s premier intelligence brand, Skift deciphered and defined trends for the coming year. Here are this year’s key themes:
For years, the travel industry has known that its next big opportunity is Gen Z, as they are a travel-savvy generation and research shows that they are heavily involved in trip planning. This year, many of them are entering adulthood and will soon have the money and autonomy to take control of their own trips and companies need to make sure they entice them through environmentally friendly and sustainable practices. Therefore, the travel industry should be leaning towards transformative travel that gives back to the environment; for example, Dutch airline KLM’s ‘fly responsibly’ campaign, which encouraged customers to invest in its carbon-offset scheme, pack lighter, and even consider flying less!
New concepts of urban living will start to evolve in 2020, ensuring cities are even more attractive destinations for both working, living and visiting. And so, hospitality brands need to rethink the role they play for both visitors and residents. Mixed-use developments that include restaurants, shops, offices, hotels and rental spaces are becoming increasingly popular as they provide a compelling experience for both residents and tourists – offering visitors a true ‘local experience’.
Customer loyalty means more than simply giving them rewards, today it has evolved with consistent engagement, and so travel is evolving to embrace a membership model that touches on aspects of a traveler’s life beyond their trip. This year the travel industry will aim to engage guests through experiences that tie into emerging and existing lifestyles through subscriptions and memberships that put the customer first, such as loyalty programmes, to create lasting relationships with consumers.
Tourism boards and destination marketers are increasingly aiming to protect and not just promote destinations. Sustainable tourism has now come to mean tourism that local residents and stakeholders feel good about and increasingly, the travel industry is striving to ensure this. Skift predicts this shift will happen through the use of technology, data and participation in order to improve a traveller, and residents, experience of a destination whilst ensuring preservation.
It was an incredible night of learning and networking, and we look forward to Skift Forum Asia happening in our home base of Singapore later this year.
Perth is a city with a plethora of beautiful restaurants, bustling cafes and vibrant bars. The V&VPR girls have selected their favourite spots of where to eat and drink:
Famous for its fresh local seafood, invigorating tipples and gorgeous sunset views across the sea, Bathers Beach House holds the key to the perfect summer evening in Western Australia. Diners can order the seafood board to share, featuring an assortment of the day’s catch including flaky grilled fish, tangy squid, buttery prawns and chargrilled octopus. The menu also boasts a fine selection of draught beers and ciders, as well as a curated selection of sundowners to sip on.
Helmed by Chef Matthew Sartori, Wildflower is perched on the top of COMO The Treasury and has gained international acclaim for being one of Western Australia’s top restaurants. Diners will be treated to a curated menu of dishes that evolve according to the seasons. Many of the offerings at Wildflower are made using local produce including wildflower honey, eucalyptus, pepperberries and a myriad of native herbs.
Down by Watermans Bay lies The Little Bay café, a charming dining establishment with lush foliage, minimalistic coastal interiors and a phenomenal ocean view. Guests can expect impeccable service, and a contemporary breakfast and lunch menu that also caters for gluten/dairy-free, vegan and vegetarian diets. Highlights include the Turkish Eggs with dill, Greek yoghurt, and poached eggs served with toasted ciabatta, and the Beef Ragu Pappardelle with beef brisket, radicchio, hazelnut, saltbush and parmesan. Dishes can be paired with the café’s curated wine and cocktail list.
Having started 25 years ago, family owned Vans has become something of an institution in Perth and a hotspot for locals and tourists alike. Renowned for curating an ever-changing menu that features the freshest seasonal and local produce, Vans reinvents bistro classics with a twist for an impressive array of contemporary fusion –indulge in Vans’ healthy house made sodas, and the delicious spicy Indonesian style fried eggs. Diners will enjoy a relaxed and bustling atmosphere, with seating areas either indoors or outside.
Overlooking Swanbourne Beach, The Shorehouse is a coastal culinary haven that showcases modern Australian cuisine, combined with a Mediterranean influence from head chef Oliver Gould. Designed as a celebration of coastal living, The Shorehouse features a large deck, whitewashed walls and bright pastel colours for a laid-back beach-side eatery. As well as delicious breakfast, lunch and dinner menus, there is also a ‘small deck menu’ that includes oysters, sandwiches and other seaside-friendly snacks ideal for watching the waves and surfers on an afternoon.
Record-breaking temperatures, combined with severe drought, have fueled bushfires across Australia, which have been blazing since September.
Over the past two weeks, the fires have further intensified; so far, at least 24 people (including 3 volunteer firefighters) and an estimated half a billion animals have been killed, and over 63,000 sq km of land has been destroyed.
Here are some ways you can help:
Direct donations to charities and organisations who are responding to the crisis:
- Australian Red Cross Disaster Recovery and Relief – the Australian Red Cross are supporting thousands of people and offering emergency assistance in evacuation centres and recovery hubs across Australia. The Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery also offer psychological first aid to reduce trauma, and emergency assistance such as cash grants for those who have lost their homes
- Salvation Army – Salvation Army teams are providing meals to evacuees and frontline responders in various locations across Australia, with additional teams on standby
- NSW Rural Fire Service – New South Wales is the worth-hit state, with over 1,300 houses having been destroyed to date. Donations made to NSW RFS or other local Rural Fire Brigades directly benefit volunteer firefighters, who are playing an integral role in combatting bushfires
- NSW Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service (WIRES) – WIRES have been rescuing and caring for native animals for over 30 years. Thousands of volunteers are dedicated to rescuing and caring for sick, injured and orphaned animals –in December 2019, they attended over 3,300 rescues
- Port Macquarie Koala Hospital – the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital have been working alongside National Park teams to rescue koalas from fire grounds. Once admitted, the koalas are rehydrated and treated for burns. Some of the funds raised will also be used to create a ‘Koala Ark’ to rehabilitate surviving koalas
- Adelaide & Hills Koala Rescue – Adelaide and Hills Koala Rescue are the largest group of experienced & dedicated Volunteer Koala Carers and Rescuers in South Australia
Shop sensibly through fashion brands who have pledged to donate a portion of sales to help the charities and organisations who are on the frontline:
- Frank Body – for the entire month of January, skincare brand Frank Body will donate 100% of all sales of their A-Beauty scrub to Wires, the Country Fire Authority and the NSW Rural Fire Service
- Lee Matthews – Australian fashion brand, Lee Matthews, will be donating 50% of all sales online and in-store to a different charity every day this week (ends 12th January)
- Barrineau – until 12th January, all sales made by US-based hangbag company, Barrineau, will be donated to WIRES Wildlife Rescue
- MLM Label – 30% of all online sales made before 12th January will be donated to Red Cross Australia and WIRES Wildlife Rescue
Buy from the Bush – new social initiative, Buy from the Bush was created in October to showcase small businesses based in drought-affected areas, which have been impacted by the fires. Buy from the Bush shines a spotlight on these businesses in order to help stabilise the economy and invest in the future of these communities.
Dine to donate – several Australia-based restaurants and chefs are planning special dining events and menus, the profits of which will be donated to help the relief efforts:
- Cook for the Bush – Nomad (Sunday 12th January) – beginning at 10am, Cook for the Bush will see some of Sydney’s top chefs collaborate on a custom à la carte brunch menu that’s available until 3pm, as well as a range of takeaway baked goods.
- Icebergs Sundays Icebergs Dining Room and Bar (12th January) – this iconic, Insta-famous hangout is hosting another of its popular Icebergs Sundays shindigs, with all bar proceeds being donated to Rural Aid Australia
- Isabel Bondi – Isabel Bondi will donate all profits and tips made until 19th January to WIRES Wildlife Rescue
Our thoughts are with Australia and all those who have suffered. We believe that every little helps, and urge you to take action today.
Wellness has become such an integral part of travel and living in recent years. From immersive ecotherapy initiatives to retreats designed by wellness experts, the world’s top hospitality brands have all jumped on the bandwagon to meet the undeniable growing interest for wellness programmes.
Rise in slow wellness travel
2020 sees more travellers making a move towards sustainable travel. This includes making more conscious efforts to reduce ones carbon footprint by choosing travel routes that require less air travel, or participating in undertourism by taking trips to lesser-visited destinations. The Sanchaya at Bintan makes the perfect getaway for conscious Singaporean travellers, being just a 50-minute ferry ride away.
Quick and easy wellness sessions
An increasing number of wellness clubs seek to provide effective sessions for busy working professionals, through quick sessions that can easily fit into packed schedules. For example, the hour-long restorative infrared sauna session at Pure Wellness Studio located along Duxton road, aids in boosting sleep, skin health and muscle recovery.
Spiritual healing for the soul
New-age wellness practices have begun to find footing as well. Individuals have started seeking out the best places to experience crystal healing, sound baths, and aura readings. These sessions use positive healing energy to restore balance in mind, body and spirit.
Solo female travel for strong women
As travellers seek more control over their travel experiences, more solo-travel itineraries have been made available in the last year. Solo female travel in particular has started picking up, and more travel companies have met this demand by offering bespoke experiences for women who seek such experiences.
Benefits of eco-therapy
The benefits of embarking on off-the-beaten path hikes, forest bathing or even keeping indoor plants can have numerous proven health benefits. If you’re considering taking a digital detox and heading outside, you’ll be happy to know that indulging in eco-therapy not only keeps you positive, but relieves stress and boosts immunity.
Renowned for its sprawling vineyards, bustling markets and tasteful bars and restaurants, Perth positions itself as the quintessential holiday getaway just a stone’s throw away from Singapore by plane. Here are some of the V&VPR girls’ top picks for travellers making their first foray into this mesmerizing part of Western Australia.
WHERE TO GO
Located along the streets of Fremantle, this prominent weekend market has a rich history spanning more than a century since its humble beginnings in 1897. Open every Friday to Sunday, the market features a range of stalls selling unique and locally made gifts, products and souvenirs as well as a range of eclectic food offerings and fresh produce.
Cottesloe Beach comes alive in the summer with snorkelers, swimmers and surfers. This beloved seaside destination is a favourite for both locals and tourists alike, and boasts sapphire blue waters, stunning trails along the coast and beachside dining establishments with a view. Travellers making a trip down in March will be able to catch Sculpture by the Sea, a free exhibition on Cottesloe Beach with giant sculptures dotting the coastline.
Nestled in Caversham, Swan Valley – the oldest wine region in Western Australia, is Mandoon Estate, Western Australia’s most awarded boutique winery. Guests can take part in a private wine tasting in an underground cellar, tour the grounds of this iconic destination, or go on a 30-minute chopper flight over picturesque Perth. More adventurous travellers would enjoy the Bush Tucker Tasting, which will give them insight into the area’s history and culture whilst tasting local indigenous food.
Just 45 minutes by ferry from Perth city is a little island paradise. Surrounded by crystal clear waters, white sandy beaches, and an abundance of smiley, furry marsupials – namely the quokka – Rottnest Island brings together the best of both worlds for lovers of nature and wildlife. Guests can frolic on the beach in the summer, go whale-watching in the winter, glamping on the island’s beachfront estate, and meet friendly wild quokkas (who are apparently the world’s most photogenic animal).
3-hours from Perth city by car lies the Margaret River region, an area south of Perth that’s well known for its premium wineries, picturesque coastlines, and natural limestone caves. Travellers can stop at Canal Rocks along the cape-to-cape track taking in grand views of the swirling Indian Ocean; have lunch at Leeuwin Estate, an established winery with an international reputation; or go on tours of Lake or Mammoth Cave – natural limestone caves that formed thousands of years ago deep below Australian soil.