Today I’m combining my love of travel and design by launching a new series of posts featuring stylish places to stay in some of my favourite destinations. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while now: after years working in the travel industry, I’ve come across plenty of good (and not so good!) hotels and apartments, and I’m really excited about sharing the best options for all my fellow minimalists and design addicts.
First up is beautiful, beguiling Lisbon. Tumbling down seven hillsides towards the shimmering River Tagus, it’s a city of paradoxes: charmingly old-fashioned yet innovative and creative, highly ornate yet appealingly shabby. Sleek shops sit next to crumbling mansions, cutting-edge restaurants by tatty neighbourhood cafés, and rickety yellow trams rattle along the cobbled streets much like they have done since the 1900s.
Here are my top picks for where to stay when in town…
Living in Bristol, I’m lucky enough to be within easy reach of Somerset, one of my favourite English counties. There’s so much to love about it: the vast horizons and bird-filled wetlands of the Levels, the pretty harbour towns and grand old piers of the coast, the rolling hills of the Quantocks and the Mendips… But no matter how many times I visit, there always seems to be somewhere new to explore.
My latest discovery is Kilver Court, a designer outlet village on the edge of Shepton Mallet, which I visited on my way down to At the Chapel a couple of weeks ago. I’d actually driven past it several times over the years, but I’d never stopped to have a proper look – I’d just assumed that it would be like any other outlet village: packed, chaotic and full of flashy brands that just don’t appeal to me. How wrong I was! It turns out Kilver Court is an outlet village with a difference – several of them, in fact.
A couple of weeks ago fellow Bristol-based blogger Kym Grimshaw and I hopped in the car and headed down to Somerset for a quick girls-only getaway. Our destination was Bruton – one of my go-to places when I need an escape from the city.
On the face of it, Bruton looks like any other English country town, with its honey-stone cottages, willow-lined river, ancient dovecote and twisting lanes. But underneath the surface, it’s buzzing with creativity. Over the last few years it’s attracted artists, musicians, film producers, designers and more, and it’s even home to a branch of international gallery group Hauser & Wirth. It’s also the location of one of my favourite lifestyle shops, Caro Somerset, and our base for the night: restaurant, hotel, bakery and wine store At The Chapel.
I often share peeks inside beautiful homes and hotels around the world, and I’ve decided it’s time I start throwing a few restaurants into the mix, too – they’re fantastic sources of design inspiration, and it’s always useful to keep an eye on places to visit when travelling.
First up is Nærvær, a wine bar and restaurant in Copenhagen which opened its doors in June 2017. Set beside a canal in the city’s Christianshavn district, it’s the latest creation from Norm Architects, who’ve been responsible for many of the projects featured on These Four Walls before.
A few months ago, a rather unexpected and very exciting email popped into my inbox. It came from the Association of Spanish Design (RED), a not-for-profit organisation that promotes Spanish design around the globe. Each summer it runs a week-long tour called ‘Sunny Design Days’, which gives a small group of international bloggers the chance to experience Spanish design first-hand, and I was one of the lucky ones invited to take part this year. Needless to say I replied ‘yes’ within seconds, and so it was that I found myself at Bristol Airport at 6am on a July morning, eagerly boarding a plane bound for Spain.
If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that it turned out to be a wonderful trip. We started in Barcelona (a city that I will always love, after spending a very happy time living there as a student), before moving on to Valencia, Murcia and finally Madrid – all the while accompanied by a heatwave that saw the temperature rise as high as 43°C. Along the way we visited studios and showrooms, met inspiring designers and innovative brands, and sampled some very stylish restaurants and hotels. I came back with a camera full of photos, a mind buzzing with ideas and a lovely new set of blogger friends – plus a minor case of sunburn, but I only have myself to blame for that.
I’ll share all my discoveries with you over the coming weeks, but I want to start with a look at the beautiful Hotel Alexandra, where we stayed during the Barcelona leg of the tour.
Returning from a holiday often leaves me feeling strangely frazzled – so much work to catch up on, so many emails to answer, clothes to unpack and wash… But every now and then, I’m lucky enough to experience a break that’s truly refreshing and restorative.
One such getaway came a couple of weekends ago, when I was invited to Sisterhood Camp by the lovely people at Visit Wales. Part of a series of seasonal workshops and events set up by fellow blogger Lou Archell, the camp is a biannual retreat for women – a chance to switch off from work and other commitments, and embrace a slower, more gentle pace of life in a truly beautiful setting.
There’s something about being by the coast that feeds the soul, no matter what the weather. To round off my posts from our recent minimoon in Cornwall, here’s a selection of photos which I took in Mousehole and Sennen Cove on a hauntingly beautiful May morning, when mist shrouded the cliffs, waves crashed on the shore, and we had the windswept sands almost entirely to ourselves…
The western tip of Cornwall is an area which Chris and I seem to bounce back to again and again – most recently heading there for our engagement shoot in February, and then for a short minimoon after our wedding in May. It’s a stunning corner of the world: wild coastline, dazzling light, historic St Michael’s Mount, and pretty harbour towns (St Ives, Porthleven, Penzance, Mousehole) brimming with restaurants, shops and galleries.
Here’s a round-up of my favourite spots from all our recent visits…
As I may have already mentioned a couple of times, Chris and I recently got married and then headed off for a quick minimoon in the pretty Cornish village of Mousehole. I’ll put together some tips for exploring this beautiful corner of Cornwall soon, but first I want to share a peek at Chapel House Penzance, a stylish six-bedroom B&B where we spent the first night of our break before checking into a self-catering cottage.
I’d been longing to stay at Chapel House ever since it opened in 2015, and I wasn’t disappointed. Occupying an 18th-century townhouse that was originally built by an admiral who fought in the Battle of Trafalgar, it’s been beautifully restored by current owner Susan, who worked with Loci Architecture to blend its elegant Georgian lines and period features with a few contemporary additions.
A very quick post today to let you know that I’m taking a short break from blogging, as I’m getting married this weekend! We’ll then be heading off for a mini-moon in Cornwall, but I’ll be back later in May with more interiors and lifestyle inspiration (and possibly a few wedding photos!).
In the meantime, here some pictures of the stunning Cornish coastline to feast your eyes upon, all captured by our wedding photographer Taylor & Porter during our recent engagement shoot…