6 month summary of 2018 (Jan-June)

Much as I try to keep you all up to date with my latest adventures, there are unfortunately not enough hours in the day to watch re-runs of Game of Thrones, travel and write long and boring reviews.  There just isn’t.  Ultimately, I visit too many places to visit to write about them all.  Yep, apologies, I am going for the humblebrag.

So below is a short summary of the first 6 months of the year.  I have removed the usual repeat stays at The Connaught and The Lanesborough, just to keep both of us sane.

If you care for anymore insight, just let me know.


Baglioni, London

Awful.  Avoid.  Do not pass go.

North Island, Seychelles

Superb.  Better than last time in almost every department.

The Saxon

3rd stay; 3rd time on a layover; 3rd time I’ve yet to take any pictures.  Every time enjoyable and easily the best option in Johannesburg.

Kings Pool

Rustic.  Not my style.  Avoid off-peak so you can actually see an animal.

Vumbura Plains

Rustic, but modern.  Definitely my style.  Go anytime.

Vumbura Plains

Abu Camp

Superb game viewing, sublime experience, sub-standard service.  Still go.

Mombo Camp

The best safari camp I’ve ever stayed in.

Four Seasons The Westcliff Johannesburg

Every smell of odious.

The Silo

Beautiful, but service sadly lacking.  Go to Ellerman House instead.

The Silo

La Residence

Also beautiful, but overhyped.  Recommended, but with caveats.

La Residence


Park Hyatt, Sydney

Significant improvement on last time.  Really your only choice in Sydney.


Woeful.  Why didn’t I listen to everyone else and go to Lizard island?

The Langham, Melbourne

A zoo, but a cheap one.  Perfect for a layover or a wake.

Saffire Freycinet

Superb.  When their pool opens next year or the year after, it will be a place for all seasons.

Saffire Freycinet

Matakauri Lodge, Queenstown

Good, but not good value for money.  The views are amongst the best I’ve ever seen, with food to match.  I hope for a refurb, as it would give reason to return.

Matakauri Lodge

The Farm at Cape Kidnappers

Same owners as Matakauri Lodge, but even better chefs.  A converted farm on a gazillion acres of land gives plenty of opportunities to do things, I’m just unsure what they are.  I am glad to have gone, but would not return.

The Farm

Intercontinental Tahiti

Possibly.  Just maybe.  Almost certainly.  The worst hotel I’ve ever stayed in, when you consider how much it cost.

Four Seasons Bora Bora

Not quite as unimpressive as The Intercontinental, but certainly more expensive.  Bora Bora is a tourist trap like no other.  Go to French Polynesia to experience the beauty; stay away from Four Seasons to enjoy the peace.

Four Seasons Bora Bora

The Brando

Brilliant.  Go, already!

Southern Ocean Lodge

Yeah, about that one.

Four Seasons Jakarta

Cheap and plenty of cheer.  Surprisingly great.


Hotel Grand Bretagne

A Starwood property.  Yet a surprisingly good for, at least when you consider your alternatives.  The best option in Athens until the Four Seasons opens.

Bulgari Milan

I prefer Palazzo Parigi, but it’s a solid option.  Unlikely to return due to better options.

Villa Feltrinelli

One of Europe’s finest.

Il Sereno

One of Europe’s finest disasters.

Four Seasons Florence

Better than last year, but even with the glamorous decor it still fails to impress me.

Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco

A rarity: a unique property that is unique for being good.

Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco

Eden Hotel, Rome

As good as a city hotel stay can be, with a true blueprint of doing an excellent refurb, but I’d also consider Hotel de Russie next time for the location, spa and gardens.

Hotel Eden


Rosewood, London

Another well respected London hotel, another failure.  Avoid.

Four Seasons, Prague

Somehow I keep going back and somehow I keep enjoying it more and more.

Cheval Blanc Randheli, Maldives


Velaa Private Island, Maldives

More fun than a clown on fire.

Soneva Fushi, Maldives

More like a time-share sales pitch than a hotel.

Soneva Fushi

Hotel Amigo, Brussels

A Rocco Forte hotel with excellent food.  Is there something wrong with me?!  The second worst attempt at curtains I’ve ever seen gave me an early wake, but at least I could spend more time eating breakfast.


A solid start to the year, filled with the usual regrets, but also offering enough hope to keep me going.  I have a feeling July > December may surpass it.


  1. How was your experience at Vumbura Plains?

    • Loved it, Rhonda. Absolutely adored the design of the rooms, feel of the camp and our guide was great, resulting in some excellent viewings. We just felt let down by the service (finding someone was often a challenge) and the food was probably the weakest of all the Wilderness lodges we stayed in, particularly the oddly small portions. I’d still go back though.

      More pictures I took here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/132880658@N07/albums/72157692611285484

  2. This 6-month summary! The only problem is that now I’ll harass you every 6 months for another such post, which is a tremendously succinct and useful account — thanks a million. A few rxtns:

    – I think you’re being too easy on Soneva Fushi. From across the water, I thought it looked like an abandoned film set from an apocalyptic thriller starring Kevin Costner, a rickety wooden shanty town with no sense of a natural environment, towering above the surroundings, water slides galore.

    I hadn’t realized you’d stayed at Rosewood Castilgione del Bosco this year. I’m curious where your room was. I was there before it was Rosewood, and really loved the look and feel of it, and our room was sensational — but at that point, there was really no service presence at all — the spa was half-baked, there was one pool attendant who just read a magazine, etc. But a lovely place, for sure.

    And the big news: it sounds like Mombo Camp is much better than Singita for safari — so am moving it up on my list. And Saffire Freycinet!

    Thanks again — this was an awesome post.

  3. Hi, if you wouldn’t mind a post or elaborate more on Rosewood London and Castiglion del Bosco, please! Those two have been on my bucket list for some time and I’d like to hear more about it. 🙂

  4. Rosewood London is just pointless. Like the aforementioned, esteemed gentleman above, we booked a suite and ended up moving into another due to the original being awful – competing with the Baglioni for London’s worst suite category. The room setup was appealing, service absent and the rooms and food just dour. Add on top the location being less than optimal and I truly fail to see any buzz around this place at all. Do not be deceived by the beautiful main area interiors. There are so many better options in London.

    Castilgione del Bosco was the complete opposite. Service was great, superb food, just such a beautiful location and indeed the suite (Borgo) was fantastic. Ideal for 3-4 days for couples or families. Few pics here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/132880658@N07/albums/72157667582216887

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