Family friendly accommodation Lisbon

Falling For Lisbon at The Explorer’s Home

My first trip to Lisbon two years ago was not a great one.  We only had a day in the city on a cruise and during our brief visit my grandad almost had his wallet stolen and I found it extremely difficult to get around all the hills and cobblestone streets with a baby in a pram.  I was so disappointed that we came away with a negative view of this city that so many people, especially family travellers, talk so highly of.

But I knew we had not been able to experience the city fully in just our one short day so I wrote it off as a bad experience that could have happened anywhere and kept it on my very long travel wish list to visit again at some point in the future.

So when we were invited back by Duarte, the host of The Explorer’s Home Airbnb, after he saw a comment about our bad experience on Instagram (ah the powers of social media), with a promise to show us a better side to Lisbon and change our views on the city, I couldn’t resist giving it another chance.

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Glamping along the Garden Route with Africamps

I’d road tripped along the Garden Route several years ago and fell in love with its rugged natural beauty back then, so I couldn’t resist seeing it again on our recent visit. This stretch of wilderness along the South African coastline east of Cape Town is full of wildlife, lush green national parks and pristine beaches. Here, you can get away from the noisy city, towering buildings and the plush hotels of Cape Town. We would be getting out into nature so it only seemed fitting that we should stay in a more rural style of accommodation to match our surroundings.

Africamps offer glamping in several working farms in South Africa, providing guests with a completely natural setting but with the benefits of a boutique style of camping.  As we were road tripping along the Garden Route over several days, we stayed at two of Africamps locations during our trip – Plettenberg Bay and Wilderness – both wonderfully peaceful retreats that gave us a true feel of wild Africa. The accommodations are down winding gravel tracks, far away from the road and civilisation with no chance of traffic noise – or noise of any sort for that matter except the tweeting of birds and the chirping of crickets.

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Child friendly hotel Cape Town

Family Friendly Luxury at The President Hotel Cape Town

We may have stayed here on our very last night in Cape Town but I’m writing about it first because it is such a fantastic hotel that I couldn’t keep it quiet any longer.

When planning our trip which would involve lots of moving around, sightseeing and road tripping, staying in Airbnbs, guest houses, and all different types of accommodations, I wanted to find somewhere to stay on our last night that was a bit more luxurious and also somewhere that I knew would be a child friendly hotel in Cape Town. Somewhere with plush comfy beds, good food and cocktails, a pool; somewhere we could relax and rejuvenate for the last couple of days on what would have been an extremely adventurous trip.

Located in Bantry Bay, a beautiful beachy area between Sea Point and Camps Bay within a short driving distance to some of Cape Town’s main attractions, The President Hotel provided just that.

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Where to stay in Zurich

A Charming Stay in the Heart of Zurich at Hotel Adler

Our third and final hotel stay during our trip to Switzerland was right in the centre of Zurich’s Old Town, my favourite part of the city with its gorgeous old style architecture, cobblestone streets, small cute chocolate shops and intimate restaurants.

Hotel Adler is right in the heart of it all, surrounded by all the main sights of the Old Town, just a few steps from the river and a short walk to the famous shopping street. The balcony in our room looked out directly onto a little square with colourful buildings and pretty rooftops where we sat outside watching the street below come to life early in the morning with locals setting up their market stalls and tourists beginning their day of exploring.

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Shepherd's Hut Kent

A Girly Getaway to Clavertye Shepherd’s Huts

It’s no secret that I love a road trip and when we’re not travelling abroad I like to make the most of exploring a bit closer to home. Even though I passed my driving test well over ten years ago I have only just got my very own car last month and this was just the excuse I needed to plan a mini adventure with just me and my girl.
Clavertye Shepherd’s Huts was the perfect place. Set on a huge farm in the countryside near Canterbury just over an hour from home, meant that it wasn’t too far for me to travel alone with a (possibly screaming) 6 month young baby. Luckily for me Evie slept away soundly in the back of the car for the entire journey so when we arrived at the farm nice and relaxed and I spotted our tiny little hut far away in the distance at the top of the valley, I knew this was going to be a wonderful getaway.

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Where to stay in the Big Sur

A Big Sur Escape at The Blue Dolphin Inn, Cambria

Although our American trip was almost a year ago now, we had such a brilliant time that I still have so much to write about even so long after.  I still haven’t written about all the amazing sights on our road trip through the Big Sur, I’ve not told you about everything there is to see in Vegas even if you don’t like gambling, and I’ve still not shared the details of our funky campervan adventures, so I thought it was about time the blog got back onto the USA.

One of my favourite parts of the adventure was our road trip along the stunning Big Sur coastline so I thought I’d start off by sharing one of the best places to stay along this part of the Pacific Coast Highway.

We had spent the previous night in Carmel-by-the-Sea, one of the prettiest little towns in California.  There is so much to see and do through the Big Sur, from national parks and magical waterfalls to famous bridges and sandy beaches, plus more viewpoints along the coastline than I can mention in one blog post, each with a more gorgeous view than the last.  We knew it was going to be a long day and wanted to take it slow so we would have time to fit everything in, so we decided to spend the next night in Cambria, a little beachfront town at the southern end of the Big Sur.  The Blue Dolphin Inn was right on the seafront broadwalk, just steps away from the sand of Moonstone Beach, and I loved the idea of going to sleep and waking up to the sound of the waves.

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Sensimar Marmaris Imperial

All-Inclusive Luxury at Sensimar Marmaris Imperial

If you know me at all you will know that all-inclusive package holidays just aren’t my thing.  While the idea of my pasty skin turning a lovely summery bronze is very much welcome, the thought of lying still on a beach for days, eating the same repetitive buffet food all week and not seeing more than the walls of the resort for the entire trip, makes me shudder.

But when Mr Ayla pretty much begged me for a relaxing summer holiday this year without all the constant sightseeing, the tiresome walking for hours and the endless research and explorations, I kind of felt like I should indulge him for a change. Trust me when I say this doesn’t happen often. 

Of course I still put in hours of research – because I’m not just going to go to any old place – and despite my initial horror at a break that involved nothing more than slapping on some sun cream every day, I eventually came across the Sensimar Marmaris Imperial Hotel.  This picture perfect hillside resort along the Turkish coast jumped straight out at me as somewhere that looked like it would suit us both.  There were sun beds galore and food and drink on tap for the Mr, while still looking beautifully traditional for me with the most beautiful views (obviously I have to consider my Instagram pics when I book any trip) and a nearby town for exploring for when my feet got fidgety as they no doubt would.

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London Gatwick airport parking

Airport Parking Made Easy with Purple Parking

Airport parking is never something that is high on my radar when booking a trip.  I’m much more interested in researching our new destination, scoping out sights off the beaten track and the best viewpoints in the city, or finding a cosy airport hotel to stay in before an early morning flight.  So usually we simply opt for one of the cheaper parking options.  Yes, the car parks always seem to be down the most difficult to find country lanes and there is the annoyance of a 15/20 minute bus ride to the airport, but I would rather save that extra bit of money for eating as much of the local food as I can once we’ve left London (and our car) behind.

But on our recent trip to Turkey, we tried out the meet and greet service at Gatwick airport courtesy of Purple Parking and I think it may have just swayed me into paying that little bit extra in the future.

There was no bickering as we tried to figure out where the car park was, no checking the car in, no waiting around for the next shuttle bus and no extra journey to the airport.  We simply drove straight to the drop off point right outside Gatwick’s south terminal and, with a quick phone call to Purple Parking to let them know we were there, a few minutes later a friendly chauffeur came to meet us, checked our details and then whisked our car away.

London Gatwick airport parking

I was left thinking that surely there was something else we needed to do.  But nope – it really was as easy as that and we wandered the few steps into the airport without any stress or worry and, least of all, not a single bit of rushing about.

London Gatwick airport parking

After a sunny and relaxing break in Turkey, returning to the airport would have been nice and easy if it hadn’t been for someone (not mentioning any names – but it wasn’t me) leaving our tablet in security on the way out.  This meant that when we arrived back at Gatwick airport just after midnight, we had the hassle of changing terminals and making our way to lost property (and paying a ridiculous £20 lost property admin fee in the process).

With a quick phone call, Purple Parking were extremely helpful in meeting us with the car at whichever terminal was easiest for us and, just a few minutes later, we could see the Purple Parking chauffeur in his snazzy purple jacket along with our car already sitting and waiting for us as soon as we stepped out of the airport doors.

London Gatwick airport parking

At this time of the morning when I had to be up for work in six hours, we were so grateful that there was no waiting around for a shuttle bus and hauling our bags about, no bus ride full of crying children and tired adults, and no having to wait in line to collect the keys to our car.  This was by far the easiest and most convenient airport parking we have ever had and, as the Purple Parking representative handed our keys over to us, it couldn’t have been any more welcome.

Have you tried a handy meet and greet airport parking? Let me know what you thought in the comments below or at:

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Big thanks to Purple Parking for taking care of our car while we were off relaxing on holiday!

Need an airport hotel?  Take a look at my favourites at Gatwick airport:

The Perfect Way to Start a Holiday: Bloc Hotel Gatwick

Smart Luxury at Yotel London Gatwick

Mister Lasagna review

A Lasagna Feast at Mister Lasagna, London

When your favourite cuisine in the whole world is Italian and a new restaurant opens up in London dedicated to everything that is lasagna, it only makes sense to try it out as soon as possible.  With 21 different types of lasagna on the menu (yes, you read that right – 21 different types of lasagna!), Mister Lasagna opened up in Soho just over a month ago and has already become so popular that they’re opening up a second restaurant soon.

A very casual but cosy restaurant, Mister Lasagna is the place to go for a quick, easy meal and, considering it’s in such a popular part of Central London, the prices are extremely affordable, but that doesn’t mean that they scrimp on the taste.  With a counter to select your dishes from at the front of the restaurant (cue lots of temptation as you drool at the food in front of you) and several quiet tables at the back, it’s a cosy little place for a tasty lunch or for a relaxed meal after work.

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Where to stay in Los Angeles

A Chic Beachfront Stay at the Shore Hotel, Santa Monica

Los Angeles was the last stop on our American adventure and I couldn’t think of a better way to finish our trip in style than with a stay at the luxuriously glamorous Shore Hotel in Santa Monica.  Although this part of town is a fair bit pricier than central LA and Hollywood, Santa Monica is a whole lot classier and prettier, with a chilled out beach vibe, miles of sandy beaches, the bright blue sea, and a host of sophisticated restaurants and bars.

We had driven from the sunny blue skies of the Big Sur coast but almost as soon as we made it to Los Angeles, in typical fashion, it started to rain.  Isn’t LA supposed to have year round sunshine?! Apparently not for us.  It seemed that we weren’t going to get our chance to frolic on the miles of gorgeous sandy beaches.  No watching surfers catching some waves or seeing the pumped up bodies working out at Muscle Beach.  But it was still a beautiful part of California and a little bit of rain has never stopped us from doing anything!

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