Beds, beaches and bucolic charms

In our travels, we’ve stayed in some great places, and some not so great. I’m listing here some of our personal favourites – but have decided to not mention the ones I’d avoid unless it’s a real doozie. We’ve travelled with and without kids, and more recently have stayed in some more luxurious properties, but that doesn’t mean they are recommended by us.

What we like is location, amenities, ease of access to transport, friendliness/helpfulness of staff or hosts. I’ve added weblinks to the names of many of the accommodations we mention, so click on these for further information about them.


New Zealand:

Northland: Carrington Resort, Karikari peninsula – the location is superb and as we stayed just off-season, it was quiet and reasonably priced. Close to the amazing beaches of Northland, especially the beautiful Matai Bay

Auckland: We have stayed often at the Langham, due to being members of the loyalty club “1865” which allowed us upgrade benefits, and in the past have scored some great deals. Lately, though, prices are edging up and the good deals are getting harder to find. The pool here is just stunning – for an inner city hotel we’ve enjoyed the location and amenities, but parking is very expensive. Still somewhere we would return to.

Hawke’s Bay: Recently we discovered this very cute cottage and enjoyed a lovely quiet weekend here, complete with free range eggs collected from outside the door. Tuki Cottage is situated on a vineyard close to main roads to Havelock North, Napier, Hastings and the beach road to Waimarama. It is popular, so booking ahead is important.

Nelson: During a recent conference, we experienced staying at Ah House, a lovely B&B that is walking distance to all of central Nelson, in a quiet suburban street. The hosts were great and breakfast was provided with flair.

Australia: Noosa: One of our favourite destinations in Queensland, the lovely sandy beach and low-rise architecture make this place less overbearing than many of the beach communities along the coasts of Queensland north or south of Brisbane. We’ve stayed at a number of places here and found that we really like being on Hastings Street, in the middle of the action. Most places we have stayed here have onsite parking, which makes it easy to rent a car and drive up from Brisbane, and have access to driving further afield for day trips it the fancy takes you. A recent stay at Tingirana, which is beachfront, was great and we stayed in a studio room that faced the street rather than the beach. It was a much cheaper option and had all the space and privacy we needed, and easy access to the beach and amazing resort pool. Easy access to walks along the beach and into the National Park, plus all the restaurants and cafes on Hastings Street. It’s currently undergoing renovations, so we are looking forward to seeing the outcome later this year. (Update: we’ve experienced the upgraded studio room and it was still a great experience. Staff make this place special and the location and pool are most excellent,  we will definitely try to return again sometime.)

Fiji:   Another favourite destination for us, I don’t think we’ve stayed anywhere here we wouldn’t go back to, but after 3 stays at Nanuya Island resort, we are keen to look at other options now. This has been a tiny resort, but new owners are growing the place, so it’s to be seen if it continues to have the relaxed and intimate vibe it used to. Location wise, it’s just stunning, on a pristine white beach in the Yasawa Islands, to the north of the main island. A hint – definitely splash out and get a sea plane transfer as its well worth the extra cost to not sit on a catamaran ferry for 4-5 hours each way. As we return to Fiji in the future, I will update new options. (Update, we stayed on Beqa Island this year, but feel that we would prefer to return to the Yasawas again rather than this southern coast.)

Rarotonga:  We have holidayed here twice, staying in rented accommodation rather than hotels, and this is definitely a good option. First stay was on the quiet island of Aitutaki – with its fabulous lagoon. We stayed in the Are-a-matatui house, beachfront with our family and it was an excellent experience, being closer to a range of restaurants and amenities. However, despite all the brochures advertising Aitutaki’s pristine white beaches, these are on the other side of the island from this accommodation, and the best ones are accessible only by boat on a lagoon tour.


Our second trip was to the mainland island and Titikaveka beach where we stayed was an amazing beachfront location, easy access to lagoon snorkelling and close enough to the action of Muri. The beach houses available for rent there offer great value, and we stayed at the Titikaveka Beach House, which had everything you needed.

Maldives: Amazing! I’m sure there are hundreds of excellent resorts here, but our stay at Baros was outstanding. Location, beaches, food, snorkelling all were better than almost anything we’d previously experienced. It stands out as one of the best holidays we have had, but it’s not cheap.


Hong Kong:  We have stayed at the airport Novotel Citygate as an overnight stop on a trip to Europe, and location and amenity were all that we needed.


We have experienced the Langham Place, now Cordis, twice for longer stays, and this was absolutely fabulous. We splashed out on a club studio and ended up in a corner room overlooking the marvellous Hong Kong skyline out to the harbour. Location, service and views. Definitely worth the extra for a club room.


Milan: Bed and breakfast di Porta Tosa was an excellent choice for our first visit to Milan. Excellent location with easy tram and bus access to and from both the airport and the central city. The room was large and airy, the breakfast was simply amazing and the hosts were extremely helpful in lots of ways from recommendations to simple assistance.

Many more Italian suggestions will be found on our blog page, and here too, so do check them out.

Siena: A few years back we stayed in a delightful B&B Aia Mattonata just out of Siena, looking across at the city. Again, perfect location, wonderful hosts and the views of the countryside were just beautiful. Set out of the city, we enjoyed the silence and peace of this amazing part of Italy.

Venice: We had two wonderful nights in the most amazing location overlooking the Rialto bridge at Al Ponte Antico. The staff here were exceptional and we would recommend this lovely hotel. Breakfast on the terrace was an outstanding memory.



Black Forest: Travelling near to the Black Forest I have had some bad luck with accommodation choices, and twice we have had to cancel our original unsuitable bookings and quickly find alternative arrangements. Luckily, we managed both times to find a lovely option – and most recently, the Romantik Hotel Spielweg near Munstertal was a lovely find. It was quite a drive to get here through rural land but, upon arrival, sitting outside eating Black Forest cake and listening to the distant cowbells was so relaxing. The rooms were comfortable and the restaurant provided a delicious dinner, but the setting was divine.

Another area of Germany we stayed at was Essing, just out of Regensburg, on the Danube river. Such amazing scenery, house roofs carved into the cliff-face and the river canal drifting by.


Costa Brava – ah, our favourite part of Spain… so far! Our initial trip here saw us staying in a delightful B&B just out of Begur – which was a nightmare to find, but once found we loved staying at Aigua Blava House, which sadly cannot be found anymore, so maybe this has changed hands. More recently we stayed at Casa dos Torres on a quiet residential street just out of Calella de Palafrugell which was just lovely. Our hosts were friendly and the accommodation and hospitality were all that we needed and more. Walking distance to the town and a number of restaurants. Maybe we will get a chance for a return visit one day.



Athens:  For two nights we stayed in a lovely small hotel just out of the old town, with the most amazing views of the Acropolis. The Athens Gate hotel was simple but had everything we needed including breakfast, and was walking distance to the sights we wanted to see. 

Santorini: What a dream destination, and staying just out of Imerovigli was perfect to access the walking tracks to Oia and easy walking or bus back into the towns of Fira or Imerovigli. The Santorini Princess was a beautifully planned and executed hotel on the edge of the caldera with views to die for, and excellent service. We loved our stay here and would return in a heartbeat!




As time and travel permits, I will update this page with new and other remembered destinations…. we travel a lot and are happy to share our experiences so that others may also (hopefully) have good experiences.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s