Looking for travel tips for your next getaway? It may seem obvious, but striking up a conversation with a friendly local can yield some real gems – after all, no one knows a place better than those who live there. We’ve gone one step further and picked Tamara Heber-Percy’s brain: as the co-founder of boutique hotel experts Mr & Mrs Smith, she can give any local hotelier a run for their money. Here are her top stays and addresses, inspired by our trio of whisper-soft travel scarves…
It’s hard to think of a more romantic destination in Europe than Venice – that glorious maze of emerald canals and storybook bridges is just picture-perfect. My ideal day there would be spent wandering the palace-flanked streets, lingering over coffee or gelato, ducking into a church to gawp at the frescoes and finally winding down with a chilled martini… My favourite stay in Venice? It has to be Palazzo Barbarigo: it sits on the Grand Canal and guests arrive by boat, which really sets the tone for a sultry, stylish getaway. I also love Ca Maria Adele; tucked away from the madding crowd, it’s unashamedly lavish and over-the-top Baroque: it’s my little hiding place from all the tourists.
… a trip by boat to the islands of Murano, Burano and Torcello. You can do all three in one day and pick up some striking glassware or intricate lace to take home.
…Basilica dei Frari has some of the most incredible Renaissance paintings including a Titian – it’s amazing how much fabulous art is hidden in one beautiful church.
… the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, a treasure trove of 20th-century art right on the Grand Canal.
Santorini is one of our most popular honeymoon destinations – it must be something to do with those jaw-dropping Aegean views. Grace Santorini is really quite special: whitewashed and stylish, with private plunge pools that shimmer against incredible caldera vistas. Sipping on a glass of wine at the end of the day, while the sun melts into the horizon, is simply heaven. Nearby, Avaton Resort & Spa has fantastic food, and I’m also a fan of Perivolas, built into 300-year old caves and surrounded by wineries.
… a wine-tasting tour – Santorini’s ancient vineyards produce remarkable white wines.
… a sailing boat or catamaran trip around the island to savour the views – I love being out on the water.
… the clifftop coastal walk from Oia to Thira: there’s something about taking the slow route that makes you really appreciate the wonderful sights around.
Alright, it’s not quite in the Highlands, but 15 Glasgow is a real find, with a great location on a leafy and peaceful street in the West End. It’s a B&B with just five grown-up and elegant rooms, housed in a stately Georgian building. The Atholl in Edinburgh is incredible; it’s undeniably expensive but the sumptuous suites are so spectacular it’s hard to tear yourself away.
… the view out to sea and over the Firth of Forth after a stomp up Arthur's Seat in Holyrood Park; it’ll really get your blood pumping.
… a night on the town. Try the Dragonfly Cocktail Bar in Edinburgh’s Grassmarket or head over to the New Town’s Bramble Bar on Queen St – both have a great atmosphere and serve a mean martini. In Glasgow’s West End, shelves are stacked high with rare whiskies at The Ben Nevis pub; it’s a great spot for Celtic and folk music sessions.