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Two extremes: Winter Destinations

By December 7, 2018 INSPIRATION, Travel
Holiday Blog

Winter has now arrived in the UK, with Christmas markets taking centre stage, shops busy with present buying and festive lights all around the city. It’s the most wonderful time of the year … when eyebrow raising festive jumpers become acceptable and mulled wine is flowing freely. It is that one time of year when you can take a long vacation and really relax. But as wonderful as home is right now, sometimes there is something exciting and fulfilling about being abroad for Christmas and discovering a new place and traditions and people. It can be just what is needed to breathe new life and energy to start a new year.  What if New Year wasn’t so much about a ‘new you’, as a new more travelled and experienced you?

Does skipping the cold winter blues and heading to one of the warmest destinations in the world sound appealing? Or are you more of a winter bunny? To help you plan your winter holidays, here are some suggestions for the hottest and coldest places on Earth to spend Christmas!


Warm destinations
 
Punta Cana – Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic has long been the Caribbean’s cheap and cheerful all-inclusive option but, in recent years, it has been quietly developing its luxury side too. Located on the east coast of the Dominican Republic, Punta Cana is famous for its beaches, upscale hotels and great golfing. With over 40 miles of  palm lined coast, that has earned it the nickname ‘Coconut Coast,’ Punta Cana is a tropical paradise, with stunning beach views, water adventures and family friendly conveniences. The region is warm and sunny throughout the year, although the mountainous areas of the island are significantly wetter and cooler.

Average temperature in December: 25-28 °C – 9 hours from the UK

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Montego Bay – Jamaica

Holidays to Montego Bay are a perfect introduction to Jamaica. Tropical white sands, pristine coral reefs, and vibrant Caribbean culture. If this is what you are looking for, don’t think twice! The weather this time of year is pretty much perfect, and there are plenty of water sports and other activities to keep you entertained during the day if you aren’t more interested in just relaxing.

Average temperature in December: 25-28 °C – 10 hours from the UK

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Boa Vista – Cape Verde

A series of volcanic islands 350 miles off the coast of Senegal, at first look Cape Verde seems a lonely prospect. But with ivory beaches, surfing activities and an intriguing lunar landscape, it has become a tourist favourite. Boa Vista island (translation: “good view”) still feels like something of a secret, characterized by infinite stretches of golden sand and charming, stone-hewn villas. Boa Vista is also the perfect warm destination without having to travel too far and is  considered one of the hottest and driest of all the islands due to the hot harmattan winds from the Sahara.

Average temperature in December: 25˚C – 6 hours from the UK

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Goa – India

Goa is an incredibly popular destination, with prices growing drastically year after year. That said, it’s still very cheap compared to other sunshine destinations and it offers a unique travelling experience. For more than four centuries, this western part of India was a Portuguese colony, and you’ll still notice a distinctly European character here today. Characterized by historical churches, delicious cuisine, and a 66-mile stretch of coastline running along the Arabian Sea, it is no wonder this state is known as the ‘Pearl of the Orient’!

Average temperature in December: 25-30 °C – 9 hours from the UK

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Cold destinations
 

If mountains and chalets are your passion and snow flurries warm your heart, pull on your warmest sweater, and get ready to plan the ultimate winter weather getaway.

Prague – Czech Republic

If you can bear the cold, this stylish capital is brimming with grand historical and cultural sights. Prague’s ancient cafés, contemporary art and Christmas stands give the city a chilling beauty, blending the East and West together perfectly.

Average temperature in December: 1-2 °C – 2 hours from the UK

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Fairbanks – Alaska

Fairbanks is definitely an extreme destination, with the potential for -20 degree temperatures and short hours of daylight. However, don’t let that stop you. The colder winter months are also the best time of year to view the spectacular Northern Lights and experience unique cultural events for Christmas such as dog mushing and Ice parks. It is also a place to come to taste the cuisine, with crab legs and all-you-can-eat salmon and cod fillets baked over an open fire only a few of the diverse food options you will find here. If you are looking for an immersion into the nature, this is the perfect destination for you.

Average temperature in December: -8 – -13 °C – 16 hours from the UK

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Alta Badia – Italy

Located in South Tyrol, Italy’s northern province, Alta Badia, with its dramatic natural landscape, culture, mouthwatering cuisine and the lovely Ladin people, it is the ideal destination for a skiing holiday. A mix of cultures can be found here, with German, Italian and Ladin mother tongue living side by side since time immemorial, to create a unique mix of alpine traditions.

Average temperature in December:-2-3 °C – 1.5 hours from the UK

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A journey to Marrakesh

By May 3, 2018 Travel
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This week, Camilla, our Commercial & E-Commerce Assistant, is our guest blogger, sharing with us her recent trip to Morocco:

 The juxtaposition between utter madness and totally serenity.

For many travellers, the ancient city of Marrakesh (often Marrakech) is the first stop on a journey through Morocco and an absolute “must see” destination. Surrounded by the often snow-capped High Atlas Mountains, this bustling metropolitan oasis has everything a traveller could want, from crowded markets (souks) to narrow streets, where history literally comes alive around every corner. A few minutes in the Red city (named so for the red colour of the earth used for its walls) are enough to make you realise you have entered a different world. In Marrakesh there are many ways of either getting lost or finding oneself: in the streets and curves of the medina quarter, the flavours of traditional food cooked in tagines, the beauty of temple doors, the freshness of the gardens and the surprises of the ancient Moorish culture.

A labyrinth of aromas and colours

The history is present in the Medina of Marrakesh, a UNESCO heritage site, and it is really easy to get lost in this labyrinth of old buildings, crowded markets and alleys, so make sure you bring a good map! The souks are definitely the main attraction here, where everything is for sale: clothes, shoes, spices, but get ready to negotiate! It is part of Moroccan tradition and shop owners would find it strange to sell something without discussing the price! The Tanneries are also worth a visit, but be prepared to cover your nose as the smell of the untreated hides is quite strong. Don’t be discouraged by reviews that the area is scary, just be aware of where you are heading to! Also, an interesting spot I would recommend is Mellah, or the old Jewish neighbourhood, characterized by its wood shops, colourful spices and much quieter owners.

Riads, terraces and culture

The breath taking landscape of Marrakesh can be easily seen from the many terraces that encircle the Medina, through the different hours of the day. In the morning, I would suggest to start your day with a typical Maroccan breakfast served on your Riad’s terrace, for a total free stress experience. But what is a Riad? Riad means “garden” but it is applied to town houses built round a central courtyard. Following the Islamic idea of privacy and inward reflection, a Riad usually only have a few rooms (ours, The Riad le J, had 4) with no windows facing the outside. Following a visit to the stunning Jardin Majorelle, stop for lunch at Café des epices for a stunning view over the crowded Place des Epices, it really worth the wait!. After an afternoon spent visiting the main attractions such as Bahia Palace, El Badi Palace and the oldest koranic school – Ben Youssef Madrasa, walk north and ask for a mint tea at Le grand balcon du café glacier, a relaxing café where you can admire the never ending life in the main square, Jemaa El Fna. To conclude, have a romantic dinner at Le Nomad restaurant, but ask to be seated on the top terrace!

Marrakesh has so much to offer, with days and nights made of pure magic and should definitely be included as one of the most hectic but fascinating people-watching places in the country.

marrakesh

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5 of the best easter breaks

By March 29, 2017 Travel
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The Easter long weekend will be, for many of us, the first break since Christmas so we fully intend to make the most of it!

We’ve handpicked some of the best destinations to escape to, from UK adventures to the windswept beaches on the west coast of France, there’s something for everyone.

Now all you have to do is decide which you fancy….

1. Isle of Man, UK

Isle of man

A haven for nature lovers, the beautiful Isle of Man is a bit of a hidden gem of a UK island. Seals can be spotted off the coast, and from time to time, basking sharks! Pitch up in one of the many glamping sites and hike and wild swim your long weekend away.

 


2. Vienna, Austria

Vienna

Vienna is packed with Gothic and Baroque architecture that is contrasted with the modern Zaha Hadid library by the Danube. Take a trip to the Vienna State Opera for a cultural evening of ballet or the opera. Explore the sculpted gardens of the Hofsburg Palace during the day and after, stop off at an infamous Vienna coffee house, such as Kleines Cafe and soak up the atmosphere.

 


3. Biarritz, France

Biarritz

Well known for it’s rolling waves and fantastic surfing, Biarritz is perfect for a quick getaway. With a combination of dramatic cliffs, fine beaches, fresh fish and a healthy outdoor lifestyle, Biarritz is just what you’re looking for a relaxing Easter break.


 

4. North Cornwall, UK

N Cornwall

It’s hard to pick a favourite part of of the gorgeous Cornish coastline, but the northern stretch is the one for us! Potter around the quaint St. Angus, stopping off for scones and clotted cream along the way- and don’t forget to leave room for a proper Cornish pastry at the St. Angus Bakery.


 

5. Seville, Spain

Seville

Head to Seville over the Easter break and catch the Semana Santa (Holy Week), Spain’s largest and most atmospheric religious festival. Sample some tapas and wander up to the Plaza de Espana and the Parque de Maria Luisa for some peace and quiet. Stay in the old town and explore the cobbled streets of the Santa Cruz quarter and the breathtaking Alcázar Palace.

Shop what to wear over the Easter break here!

 

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Explore Marylebone

By March 11, 2016 Travel
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Les 100 Ciels travels

By July 24, 2015 Travel
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Our must-see places in Florence.

Florence is renowned for old masters and history, but it’s also a living city with a vibrant restaurant and nightlife scene. Handsome and historic, it’s bursting with quirky shops and quality crafts, making it one of Europe’s most civilised weekend destinations.

We spent a busy week researching the latest yarn trends and technology at the Pitti Filati fair, so we were glad for some time to relax and sight-see at the end of the trip.

Read on to see what we got up to in beautiful Florence, showing you our favourite places to shop, eat and visit!

 


 

Where to shop: UB

This quirky store on Via dei Conti is a treasure trove of goodies, full to the brim with antique decorations and retro furniture. Seek out a hidden back room with the most amazing collection of vintage wallpaper, including 60’s floral designs and geometric prints.

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Ub Firenze / Via dei Conti 4r – 50123 Firenze – IT | https://www.ubfirenze.it/


 

Where to shop: Ottod’ame

The beautifully merchandised Ottod’ame sits on Via della Spada and houses a wide range of fashion brands with a concept store feel. While we visiting there was a stunning ‘White Like Milk’ display, showcasing their all white styles along side pops of graphic colour.

 

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Via della Spada 19r | https://www.ottodame.it/


 

Where to eat: Gusta Pizza

You can find Gusta Pizza in one of our favourite areas in the city, just south of the river and surrounded by lovely boutiques and antique shops.

This rough and ready pizzeria makes the most delicious pizza, it’s definitely worth a visit. It’s definitely service with a smile here, the staff are so friendly and welcoming. *They also make heart shaped pizzas!

Top tip: Take out your pizza and eat on the steps of the Basilica di Santo Spirito and people watch the evening away. Follow with an alfresco drink outside one of the bars on the Piazza Santo Spirito!

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46R Via Maggio


 

Where to eat: Gelato Santa Trinita

Let’s face it, you can’t to Italy without sampling the local gelato. This Gelateria has the best in Florence (and that’s saying something!) and sits on a corner with views of the river and the Ponte Vecchio.

Top tip: The Sesamo Nero gelato is a must-try. This mysterious grey ice cream tastes better than it looks (something along the lines of hazelnut but with a more intense flavour).

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Piazza Frescobaldi, 11/12 R


Where to go: Boboli Gardens

Walk off the pizza the next day with a day out in the sun at the Boboli Gardens. Enter through the magnificent Palezzo Pitti and you are welcomed by the most beautiful landscaped gardens full of statues, fountains and even mazes.

Spot the pistachio coloured Kaffeehouse, perched halfway up the hill. It has the typical trompe l’oeil frescos on the walls and we could quite easily imagine ourselves living there!

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Entrance is €10 and this includes entrance to the Forte Belvedere and Giardino Bardini.

https://www.polomuseale.firenze.it/en/musei/?m=boboli


 

Where to go: Il Duomo

The cathedral of Florence is known for its distinctive Renaissance dome. Its name Saint Mary of the Flower refers to the lily, the symbol of Florence. The entrance fee allows you to roam through the Cupola (the dome) and the Campanile (the bell tower) and the views are breathtaking from the very top.

Top tip: Visit 23 Via dello Studio to see where the artists and stonemasons devote their time to maintaining and conserving parts of the historic building.

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https://www.ilgrandemuseodelduomo.it/monumenti/1-cattedrale


 

What to see: Forte Belvedere

If you can tear yourself away from the stunning views, Forte Belvedere is currently showing the Antony Gormley HUMAN exhibition until 27th September. His beautiful cast iron figures are displayed throughout the grounds, adapting to their surroundings and differing in relation to their location and position.

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https://whitecube.com/news/antony_gormley_at_forte_di_belvedere_florence_italy/

Photos courtesy of Pinterest

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Les 100 Ciels Travels

By April 17, 2015 Travel
Coffee

Our favourite places in Copenhagen

We escaped the London hustle and bustle for a long weekend of fashion, culture and food in Copenhagen.

Soon after arriving in Denmark’s capital, we understood completely why it’s renowned to be home to the happiest people on Earth. The Danish way of life is relaxed, content and wholesome, making it one of the most livable cities ever. After touching down, we stumbled across a fairy tale-esque coffee hut called Kafferiet, the makers of ‘Slow Coffee’. The barista was so friendly that we ended up staying there for over an hour listening to her talk about her favourite places in Copenhagen.

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Service with a smile- Kafferiet, Esplanaden, Copenhagen 1263- www.kafferiet.net


For architecture lovers, Grundtvig’s Kirke in the Bispebjerg district is a structural delight and a must to visit. The lofty interior designed by Peder Vilhelm Jensen-Klint is beautifully serene and peaceful.

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Promduti Camel 100% cashmere roll neck - Les 100 Ciels

Biven high waisted trousers-  Les 100 Ciels


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We could have spent all day at The Botanical Gardens, roaming the magnificent Palmhouse and the Cactus rooms. A staircase spirals into the roof of the Palmhouse to a viewing platform that wraps around the whole room , from there you can spot rare, exotic plants.

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Øster Farimagsgade 2B, 1353 København K, Denmark


We caught a train to the Louisiana mid afternoon to see it’s beautiful collections.

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We had a typical Danish dinner in the restaurant over-looking the sea, whilst being serenaded by jazz musicians!

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 Gl Strandvej 13, 3050 Humlebæk, Denmark – www.louisiana.dk


The Round Tower’s sun-filled sloping walkway leads you up to an Observatory. From there you can see the whole of Copenhagen (well worth the long walk!).Rundetårn

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www.rundetaarn.dk

Købmagergade 52A, 1150 København, Denmark


A final pit-stop at Atelier September for amazing coffee and open sandwiches!

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www.atelierseptember.dk

Gothersgade 30, 1123 København K, Denmark

#les100cielstravels

Photos by Josef Shaw

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