If anticipating a vacation has been proven to yield happiness, anecdotal evidence suggests that planning can be stressful. So much travel information is available that knowing what to trust and where to start can be tough. Here are some tried and tested resources for designing that perfect whistletrip.
- Destination Inspiration: Coffee table books such as Taschen’s “Great Escapes” collection and DK’s “Where To Go When” offer stunning photography alongside ideas on where to head. National Geographic is a fail safe source of expedition ideas and signing up to Travel & Leisure‘s newsletters guarantees a constant flow of reviews of beautiful though less adventurous destinations.
- Practical Planning: User friendly and with accurate logistical information, well-thumbed Lonely Planet paperbacks have traveled the world with me. For suggested routes and tips on tackling paths less trodden, these brilliant guides cater to a backpacker’s instincts. For luxury hotel and recommendations, though, I look elsewhere…
- Cultured City Breaks: For museum laden visits to the likes of Paris, Madrid or Rome, Dorling Kindersley’s “Eyewitness Guides” have exquisitely illustrated street maps and detailed guides to permanent exhibitions. Having them saves money on expensive museum pamphlets and they are particularly helpful for planning which artifacts to prioritize seeing on short visits. The New York Times’ “36 Hours” column suggests excellent action-packed itineraries for weekend city breaks.
- Food: To find that great food truck, neighborhood gem or emerging chef, I head for local food blogs. The excellent eater.com has a good-sized international section. Exploring watering holes and restaurants often offers the greatest room for spontaneity on a trip – I ask the concierge staff member wearing a cool accessory, the boutique store manager, and the hip bar tenders where they go as I encounter them.
- Boutique Shops and Contemporary Art: For reviews of galleries and up-and-coming design districts, the travel sections of Vogue and the Sunday edition of The New York Times are wonderful. The UK broadsheet newspapers – especially The Times, The Guardian and The Telegraph – do a particularly fulsome job of covering European and Middle Eastern destinations. Asian metropolises are covered well by the LUXE City Guides – it is worth plodding through the cloying written style for the recommendations. Departures interviews style gurus and taste makers on their hidden gems – a great place to start in a quest for the avant-garde.
- High End Hotels: User generated reviews tend to be unreliable when it comes to truly luxury accommodation. Tripadvisor and even Travel & Leisure Readers’ Choice award winners tend to miss the ultra-luxe mark. Conde Nast Travel has astute hotel reviews while Mr & Mrs Smith and Small Luxury Hotels of the World list boutique properties that can be booked through their websites. Relais & Chateaux is the place to find a special treat – it represents spectacular one-off hotels and restaurants around the world. Skipping the websites of hotel conglomerates is a mistake – most have niche sub-brands that can yield fantastic bargain 5* stays in truly original properties. I have cashed in Starwood points at Hotel Imperial, an antique filled 19th century palace in Vienna, and at Grand Hotel Central in Barcelona, where the fabulous Skybar has an infinity pool from which to view the city’s rooftops.
© The Whistletrip.