A weekend in Lugano: a Swiss city with art and soul

Published in Evening Standard on October 19, 2015

Positioned around the lake of the same name, the small Swiss city of Lugano has long been associated with money: it’s the country’s third financial centre, once home to more than 100 banks. These days, Lugano — part of the Italian-speaking region of Ticino — is instead investing in culture. Continue reading “A weekend in Lugano: a Swiss city with art and soul”

Remotest Patagonia: Alone with the wildlife in the Chacabuco Valley

Published in The Independent on Sunday on October 11, 2015

The sunlight ripples over sheets of long grass, sun-bleached to a pale gold; dark red-brown ridges of glacial moraines loom above, alongside forests of miniature beech, where tiny leaves are beginning to turn their autumnal hues, a scattering of ochre and scarlet among the green. Around it all, as if keen to contain the wide beauty of the landscape, are vast, dramatic mountain ranges. Continue reading “Remotest Patagonia: Alone with the wildlife in the Chacabuco Valley”

The Temple of Diana, Shropshire: A grand folly in Weston Park

Published in The Independent on Sunday on July 26, 2015

Staying in grand country house hotels is all very well, but you might find the real treat hiding in the grounds. At Weston Park, a 17th- century estate swathed in the landscaping of Capability Brown, a summer house began welcoming guests for self- catering stays earlier this month. Continue reading “The Temple of Diana, Shropshire: A grand folly in Weston Park”

The Malt House: A picture-perfect country escape

Published in The Independent on Sunday on January 18, 2015

Tucked in the heart of the Cotswolds, the Malt House matches its picture-book surroundings. Built in the classic buttery yellow stone of the region, with three acres of gardens and orchard behind it, the long, lean Grade II-listed building dates back in parts to the 17th century, with more added in 1905.

The Malt House has long been hosting guests, but since last year, when new owner June Denton took it on, a complete overhaul has turned it into something special. While keeping an English country olde-worlde air – think exposed wooden beams, stone window seats, and vintage furniture – the restoration has happily brought the plumbing and heating into the 21st century, as well as sprinkling little modern luxuries throughout. Continue reading “The Malt House: A picture-perfect country escape”

The Ludlow: the latest hip addition to the Lower East Side

Published in The Independent on November 22, 2014

Named after its buzzing street on the Lower East Side, this new hotel is built up to 20 floors on top of a much older warehouse. Ludlow Street may have an old institution flagging its corner – Katz’s Deli, of “I’ll have what she’s having” of When Harry Met Sally fame – but along its length, swish apartment blocks, hotels and restaurants are sprouting above and around the shabby-chic, fire escape-clad tenement buildings that define the neighbourhood.

New York hotelier Sean MacPherson – who has form with hip establishments such as the Marlton and the Bowery – has got in on the act, opening The Ludlow with partners Ira Drukier and Richard Born this summer. The 184-room hotel may be a big new build, but it’s cannily tapped into the area’s vibe, blending the artfully dishevelled with contemporary chic. Continue reading “The Ludlow: the latest hip addition to the Lower East Side”