All the Hotel Is A Stage: The Townhouse, Stratford-upon-Avon

churchstreet__OH_003 [TIF 18942190804]In an archived statement from Shakespeare and Company, the scribe states: ‘Be not inhospitable to strangers lest they be angels in disguise.’ And so we’re greeted as angels at The Townhouse in Shakespeare’s birthplace, Stratford-upon-Avon.

It ticks all the right notes from the off: it’s accessible by both train and car (with easy and discounted parking); the lighting is not electrifyingly bright; and the receptionist is friendly.

Located in the town centre, it’s a two minutes’ walk from the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, five minutes’ walk to Shakespeare’s birthplace on Henley Street and five minutes in the other direction to the Holy Trinity Church. Shakespeare’s school, which is still open to young students today, rests beneath the hotel’s typically white façade.

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My partner and I recently stay over in one of twelve bedrooms, each offering super king sized beds, en-suite bathrooms, Nespresso machines, and complementary WiFi.

We’re not newbies to Stratford-upon-Avon – we’ve both visited as children with our schools. We know where to go and head to Shakespeare’s birthplace on nearby Henley Street maintained by the Shakespeare’s Birthplace Trust (shakespeare.org.uk).

Here, on a beautiful spring afternoon we watch short outtakes from Hamlet played out by local actors (a man and a woman) in Shakespeare’s verdant garden. It’s camp. And fun, and witty too.

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That evening we take dinner at the hotel’s restaurant. We’re told that all food is freshly prepared in the kitchen and the chefs work closely with local suppliers to source the best produce where possible.

Lunch is also available 12pm – 3pm in the restaurant, and dinner starts early for the pre-theatre crowd. There’s a pre-theatre set menu every day 12pm – 3pm & 5pm – 7pm with 2 courses for £12.50 and 3 courses for £14.50, too.

We take dinner at 8pm. I go with the Cotswold Mozzarella with Honey, Balsamic Figs & Prosciutto (£7) and the Cotswold Lamb Rump, Cream & Garlic Cannellini Beans, Red Wine & Anchovy Crumb (£17.50). The Cannellini beans are a highlight. My partner’s Todenham 10oz steak (£28) is very succulent, too.

There’s a great terrace out the back for a cigarette afterwards and a thin slice of coutyard with enough room for several tables and chairs.

Bed beckons, and we both sleep well.

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The following morning I am smoking in the terrace and see the fresh produce waiting outside for the kitchen.

After we have breakfast at 8am – my partner has homemade bread with butter and I take a full-English.

From arrival to departure, The Townhouse is delightful in that it brings to life some of the wit, charm and romance of Shakespeare. The view from the third floor where we stayed overlooks other Tudor cottages in their white with black striped get-ups. It’s hard not to feel some of the magic of a great writer of times gone by here.

The Townhouse is located at 16 Church Street, Stratford upon Avon, Warwickshire, CV37 6HB. For more information or to book visit www.stratfordtownhouse.co.uk

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A Culinary Tale in a Cute C17th Blewbury Inn

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Unlike the Thomas Hardy novel, Wessex Tales, The Red Lion Bar & Kitchen located in the novel’s title is far from a tale of unrequited love. The home-made bread served at breakfast is in direct opposite to Hardy’s style – instead it’s full-filling, nurturing and satisfying.

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Dating from 1612, The Red Lion Pub & Kitchen is a characterful and charming 17th century Inn with 3 rooms, hidden away in a quiet corner of the ancient village of Blewbury which lies at the foot of the Berkshire Downs in south Oxfordshire, also known as Wessex.

Chef and proprietor Phil Wild and wife, Arden, took over this dining pub a little over a year ago and re-opened in March 2016.

The menu for me is the clincher for a visit and this, without a doubt is a well-hidden food destination – a deserved hit among locals, yet to be discovered by tourists.

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“We didn’t want it to be over the top, but we have items on the menu that are quirky,” says Phil.

Take the Frog’s Legs as a case in point. A first for me, and astoundingly good. The starter is awash with a succulent and tasty garlic sauce and caper-combo served with the most delicate of green salad leaves.

My partner and guest for this trip went with the waiter’s recommendation of octopus and wasn’t disappointed either. Perhaps it’s something to do with the freshness as fish deliveries come to the Inn at 1am the previous morning, I’m told.

Service, like the food is impeccable.

The two staff (in smart uniforms) have been here for over a year and live on site. They’re professional and attentive without the over the top-ness that’s also avoided in the menus.

With original features, The Red Lion Pub & Kitchen has been decorated using vintage, country antiques and quirky finds with just 3 beds completing the Inn for an intimate touch.

It’s understated here, warm and cosy.

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But you really should come here for the food and service, with the rooms being a comfortable place to rest your head (my partner and I slept very well here) and sundry to the dining experience.

Phil’s locally sourced, seasonally-changing menu is modern and unique. It features British dishes with French influences. There’s also a cosy, oak-beamed bar with additional dining space, a working Inglenook fireplace and flagstone floors. Outside, an orchard garden for summer dining and drink with views over neighbouring fields to complete your eating experience.

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The village of Blewbury is also well-known for its literary and artistic connections. Kenneth Grahame who penned Wind In The Willows was a regular at The Red Lion Pub & Kitchen. Barbara Euphan Todd writer of Worzel Gummidge, and the ex-jockey and thriller writer, Dick Francis also lived here, while Agatha Christie lived in the nearby village of Cholsey.

The bookishness is reflected in the snug while we take a night cap for the evening by the ample fire – there’s a full book shelve to peruse.

We take a spring stroll around the village before leaving. Daffodils jostle against a backdrop of thatched cottages and a church keeps compass for our freestyle trek as it’s centred in the village.

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With top-notch food and cosy rooms in a little known literary spot like Blewbury, The Red Lion Bar & Kitchen is well-worth a visit and with room prices starting at £95 it provides value for money too.

Accommodation was provided by The Red Lion Bar & Kitchen, Chapel Lane, Blewbury, Didcot. For more information visit theredlionpubandkitchen.co.uk or to book call 01235 850403 or email eat@theredlionpubandkitchen.co.uk

Down on the ‘free-for-all’ farm that offers a spiritual twist in Positively Scottish

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“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.” – Albert Camus.

For me, the invincible summer can be found in Lesmahagow, some 25 minutes south-east of Glasgow, just off the M74, writes ERICA CROMPTON, in Positively Scottish.

Here I discovered a spiritual eco-farm retreat through Worldwide Opportunities for Organic Farming (WWOOF), a global collection of farms where you can work the land in exchange for accommodation and food.

The Krishna Eco Farm in Lesmahagow, or Karuna Bhavan, is home to a community of over 30 people, made up Hare Krishna monks, families, volunteers and the wider Krishna community.

It sits atop a steep hill. If you’re coming by bus and walking here, expect to feel the burn as you reach the entrance. To begin with, you’ll find a navy and white sign letting you know you’re in the right place and acting as a gate to the women’s ‘ashram’ (ashram meaning home in Indian, where the Krishna religion originates). It’s in front of the men’s ashram (the two houses are divided as that sort of thing isn’t allowed here on the sacred grounds).

thumb_img_0997_1024Accommodation is basic, and shared, but often there aren’t many travellers stopping over so you may find you have a room to yourself like me. The heating is on, and my abode for the next five nights is stencilled with elephants and peacocks with plenty of floral fabrics in a rainbow of pastel and primary colours. I could be in India with all this 1970s wicker furniture and wooden floors…although a glance outside at the plump and heavy Scottish rainclouds reminds me I’m not.

You don’t have to be devout or don the tangerine robes to reap the spiritual benefits here, though many do after escaping the rat race or leaving behind troubled pasts. The WWOOF scheme means you can help harvest crops for six hours a day, five days a week in exchange for a bed, and the meals (much of which are made from the crops here).

13423885_10154315812036907_5156835934155131328_nVolunteers are a staple in the running of the temple. Head gardener Bhakti Vinode (above) says: “Labour on the farm has helped us in a big way and we couldn’t cultivate the amount of land without the volunteers – we’ve been depending on them and they bring life to the farm.

“Personally I feel enthused when I see things growing. I work hard to cultivate the land then plant the seeds, so it’s nice to see the seeds germinate after all the hard work. I feel I’m doing something for the world, like I’m contributing. Everyone needs food so I like to grow food and teach others how to grow food. We can feed the hungry but we also have to educate people how to grow food. Growing food gives me a purpose in life.”

Earn your keep, take a working holiday, or stay as long as you want while you get back on your feet if unemployed or homeless. It can even help those with mental health problems, says Bhakti. “We do some horticultural therapy here too. People with mental health problems come along and we encourage them to grow food as it makes them feel more positive.”

For those who don’t want to do the farming, you can pay £10 a night for the same deal and explore the surrounding areas. However you’ll be still be expected to observe the house rules, such as no alcohol, no meat, and no sex.

thumb_img_1060_1024Those rules are keenly observed by the monks and you can’t miss them dotted around the grounds in their orange robes, sometimes chanting “Hare Krishna”. They mostly cut lithe, warm figures with their shaven heads fully focused on their work. The farming is also known as ‘Bhakti yoga’. It’s done with devotion for the Hindu God Krishna and forms a crucial part of the devotees’ lifestyle.

Bhakti takes his spiritual name from Bhakti yoga. Of the practice, he says: “Working on the land keeps me fit and it helps regulate my life. I have to be there every morning to water, feed, and weed the seedlings. Most important is I love what I do. Practising Bhakti yoga means I grow food with love and whoever eats the food feels the love while eating.”

You’ll often find Bhakti working in one of two large greenhouses that sit aside the women’s ashram, a little further up the hill and framed by a winding path to the temple right at the top.

Chanting, meditation and yoga take place in this colourful and diminutive temple with intricate carved deities covered in garlands which are made on-site with the marigolds that Bhakti and the volunteers’ harvest.

The marigolds only add to the colour to the site. I also visited this summer for the Hindi Festival of Lights. With monks and friends, we threw coloured paint at each other while singing and dancing. The best part was sitting in the farm grounds around a campfire with sheep until late. But it’s not uncommon for a devotee to rise at 2am to start their mantra rituals.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner follow the early birds at 8.30am, 1.30pm and 7.30pm. The food is all vegetarian and much produced on site, such as the spinach and the potatoes. They call it ‘Prasadam’ and it tastes a little like curry – think saag paneer rather than vindaloo, as it’s all very mild.

Of the food, Bhakti says: “Prasadam means everything to me. It’s spiritual food, and when I eat it, I feel the love! I like to serve Prasadam to others. The Beatle George Harrison said he hopes in the future there will be Prasadam restaurants and takeaways on every corner and I can see that happening in the future, because it’s great food.

“Everyone that comes to the Krishna eco farm gets Prasadam and it’s always such a nice occasion sitting and eating it together – it’s enthusing to see after growing the crops and makes me feel happy and peaceful while bringing the love out in my heart. It’s so easy and everyone can take part.”

I, too, took part. Healthy eating was welcome on my stay and after five days without coffee, booze, and meat I do feel energised and not a little lighter (it must be all that bending and stretching over the spinach).

Sanctuary and peace don’t cost the earth on the Krishna eco farm. So free-loving, colourful summer vibes can live on through the wildest of winters.

For more information on the Krishna eco farm, go here.

 

10 amazing places to see in India’s Golden Triangle published in Metro

India is a culture-filled, spiritually-steeped country as vast as it is colourful.

Cities burst with energy, rickshaws speed through crowded streets and crumbling ancient history neighbours tropical paradises.

Here’s 10 must see stops in and around Delhi, the Golden Triangle and the ‘Pink City’ of Jaipur.

1. Old Delhi, Delhi

Serving as the symbolic heart of Delhi, this walled city was founded by a Mughal Emperor in 1639. Today, it’s a burst of the brightest people and buildings.

10 amazing places to see in India's Golden Triangle
Old Delhi (Picture: Getty)

2. Red Fort, Delhi

Overlooking the river Jamuna, the Red Fort was built when the Mughal Empire was at its peak, between 1638-1648. It houses a number of museums so you can take in some more splendid history.

10 amazing places to see in India's Golden Triangle
Red Fort (Picture: Getty)

3. Taj Mahal, Agra Fort

The world’s most famous temple and not without good reason. Its white marble exteriors will have you awestruck.

10 amazing places to see in India's Golden Triangle
Taj Mahal reflected in the Lotus pool (Picture: Getty)

4. ‘Baby Taj’, Agra

Also known as the “jewel box” and sometimes called the “Baby Taj”, the exquisite tomb of Mirza Ghiyas Beg is often regarded as a template of the Taj Mahal.

10 amazing places to see in India's Golden Triangle
The Baby Taj Mahal (Picture: Getty)

5. Amber Fort, Jaipur

A honey-hued fortress palace in the Aravalli Hills, Amber Fort is perfect for those who love forts and old monuments. It boasts a chamber of mirrors and the interiors are covered in decorative arts. You can also visit for the striking views of the gorge.

10 amazing places to see in India's Golden Triangle
Amber Fort, Jaipur (Picture: Getty)

6. Fatehpur Sikri, Agra District of Uttar Pradesh

This magnificent fortified ancient city was the capital of the Mughal Empire between 1571 and 1585, during the reign of Emperor Akbar and abandoned on the emperor’s death.

10 amazing places to see in India's Golden Triangle
Fatehpur Sikri (Picture: Getty)

7. Hawa Mahal, Jaipur

This majestic building is known as the Palace of the Winds and was built by King Sawai Pratap Singh in 1799.

10 amazing places to see in India's Golden Triangle
Hawa Mahal (Picture: Getty)

8. Raj Ghat, Delhi

Resting along the banks of the Yamuna River, and just South of the Red Fort, a simple black-marble platform marks the spot where Mahatma Gandhi was cremated following his assassination in 1948. It’s inscribed with what are said to have been Gandhi’s final words, Hai Ram (Oh, God).

10 amazing places to see in India's Golden Triangle
Raj Ghat (Picture: Getty)

9. Qutab Minar, Delhi

The tallest stone tower in India stands 238 feet tall. Built between 1193 and 1369 it symbolises Islamic rule over Delhi and commemorates the victory of Qutab-ud-din over the city’s last Hindu king. The tower is made from two distinct stones for an artistic feel – red sandstone, and the upper two, white marble.

10 amazing places to see in India's Golden Triangle
Qutab Minar (Picture: Getty)

10. Humayun’s Tomb, Delhi

One of the most majestic tombs built in Delhi during the Mughal rule, is the Humayun’s Tomb. It’s a feat of Persian architecture. Commissioned in 1526, it come into being nine years after the death of Humayun, by his widow Hamida Banu Begum.

10 amazing places to see in India's Golden Triangle
Humayun’s Tomb (Picture: Getty)

You can take in all these sites on the Taste of India 7 day tour with Virgin Holidays. Prices start from £999pp for September 2016.

14 of the best mindfulness retreats published in Metro

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You don’t have to travel to India if you want a spiritual epiphany anymore.

There are mindfulness retreats all around the UK (as well as the more typical far flung destinations), so whether you’re looking for a day of mindfulness or a whole holiday of it, there’s something for you.

So bend into your best yogic position and get ready for a piece of peace with a handful of the best mindful retreats.

1. Kagyu Samye Dzong, London

 

Provides inner harmony and tranquility with meditation, Buddhism, and holistic therapies through classes, workshops and retreats.

2. Karuna Bhavan, Lesmahgow

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Karuna Bhavan is an eco-farm run by the Hare Krishna community in Scotland.

As well as bhakti yoga, it’s a holistic spiritual centre to help re-establish the sacredness of life via Hindu meditation, singing and dancing.

3. Gaia House Buddhist Meditation, Newton Abbott

A silent Buddhist Meditation Retreat Centre that offers retreats all year.

Come here for a sanctuary of contemplative calm set in the remote and quiet woodlands of South Devon.

4. Una, St Ives

 

Visit Una for one of the made for life by Spiezia Organics rituals, named Mindful Moments. These include a guided meditation to give you the ultimate in relaxation.

5. Shreyas Silent Retreat, India

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Take a break from the stresses of modern day living and embrace the art of mindfulness at Shreyas Silent Retreat in India.

Experience a range of meditation and yoga classes, from Pranayama to trataka (candle meditation) and private yoga nidra sessions.

6. Longevity Mindfulness, Portugal

Spirit yourself away to a secluded beach in Portugal at Longevity Medical Spa with mindfulness sessions from resident teacher, Shantidevi.

7. Champneys, Hertfordshire 

 

‘Unplug Meditation’ is a guided meditation/ mindfulness studio that offers 30 and 45 minute drop-in classes.

The face behind Unplug is former Vogue editor Suze Yalof Schwartz, whose ambition was to create a SoulCycle for meditation.

8. Will Williams Retreats, Sussex

 

This 4 day retreat focuses on a rounding experience, constituting three main parts – asana (yoga), pranayama (breathing) and meditation.

9. VIVAMAYR Altaussee, Austria

Set amid the Austrian Alps and nestled by Lake Altaussee, VIVAMAYR Altaussee combines one of the most advanced medical centres in the world with a modern and luxurious spa to provide a retreat for those looking for rest, relaxation and health through mindfulness.

10. Sol Beach House Hotel, Ibiza

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The hotel is a far cry from the usual party scene – going so far as to actually offer wellbeing and yoga retreats.

And if the relaxation gets a little boring, there’s always the in-house 60s ‘flower power’ island bus to whisk you to the nearest bar!

11. Platinum Healing retreats, Sussex & Lincolnshire

Visit for one of several signature Juice Detox Retreats.

You will also enjoy many types of mindfulness including private meditation, Pranayama (Yogic Breathing) and use of the Jacuzzi for good measure.

12. Plum Village, near Bordeaux in France

The largest international practice centre in the Plum Village tradition, and the first monastic community founded by fabled Zen Master, Thich Nhat Hanh (Thay) in the West.

13. Mind Space, Cannock Chase

 

The Hermitage in Cannock Chase provides you with a peaceful space where you can explore the mind.

All retreats are suitable for beginners and are run by experienced meditator Adam Dacey.

14. Sally Stubbs, The Lake District

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This therapist’s mindful technique is called Authentic & Permanent RAPHA Therapy Cure which is as relaxing as the countryside she works from.

If you can’t afford a full retreat, why not visit her website for a DVD or audio retreat in your own home?

14 reasons you need to visit the Lake District… now!

 

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The floating clouds and canary yellow daffodils of the Lake District inspired William Wordsworth and any number of poets in the day.

Cumbria continues to please and attract, bringing in scores of tourists from as far as Japan.

Inhale the fresh air, walk beneath the emerald hairpin hills, or take it all in from a high by flying in a plane.

There are so many reasons to visit the Lake District, here are just fourteen…

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  1. Wordsworth’s old haunt, Grasmere

Visit Dove Cottage, home to William Wordsworth during the most productive period of his life. It’s the only place in the world where you’ll glimpse his original belongings! https://wordsworth.org.uk/visit/dove-cottage.html

  1. Theatre on the Lake, Keswick

 

Visit one of two intimate stages and watch the drama of the Lakes unfold.

 

  1. Kendal Mint Cake

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These saccharine sweets pack a punch – except freshness like that of a wind machine and breathe fresher that the country air!

 

  1. Grasmere Gingerbread Shop 

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If the mint cake doesn’t give you the sugar kick you need try Sarah Nelson’s ginger bread made in Grasmere! It’s spicy and sweet with biscuit meets cake texture, and is said to be some of the best gingerbread in the world. https://www.grasmeregingerbread.co.uk/

  1. Windermere Lake Cruises

Cruise between 45 minutes to 3 hours on the largest lake in the UK, in one of Cumbria’s most popular attractions.

  1. Ulverston Lantern Festival

Trains, ships, flights of aeroplanes, dragons, puppets, flowers, faeries and hobgoblins can all be seen lighting up the Lakes this September 17th. See 600 candle-lit lanterns made from willow and paper from 7.30pm.

 

  1. Sir John Barrow Monument, Ulverston

Be in awe of the 100 feet tall replica Eddystone lighthouse built in memory of Sir John Barrow one of the Lakes District’s most famous sons. Climb to the tower to learn his story and for stunning views of Morecambe Bay.

  1. Castle Green Hotel

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Easy to access and the perfect spot for exploring, stay at this comfortable expanded Victoria mansion and Cumbria Tourism’s ‘Large Hotel of the Year’.

  1. The Lakes Distillery

Both England’s newest and largest whisky distillery has welcomed over 90K visitors since it opened to the public 2014 and is conveniently located 150m from the eye-wateringly beautiful Bassenthwaite Lake.

  1. Beatrix Potter’s House
In the garden of Beatrix Potter's Hill Top cottage, a familiar sight...
In the garden of Beatrix Potter’s Hill Top cottage, a familiar sight…

Enjoy a tale or two or a tall story? Beatrix Potter’s 17th Century farmhouse in Hill Top is for you. It’s filled with all her favourite things, with each room containing a reference to a picture.

  1. The Daffodil Hotel & Spa, Grasmere

 

Stay here for special reopening rates of £99 per room including breakfast throughout August.

 

  1. The Punch Bowl Inn & Restaurant at Crosthwaite

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Tucked away in a picturesque village between Kendal and Windermere, this 5-star 2AA rosette pub was voted Cumbria’s Best Dining Pub for the last two consecutive years by the Good Pub Guide. In a former life, the inn was an old Blacksmiths shop, too.

 

  1. The Ullswater Way

A 20-mile route circular route around Ullswater Way opened this spring. It’s a scenic walk that can be completed in a day or broken up over a few days.

 

  1. Lake District Gyroplanes

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If you haven’t found enough uplifting reasons to visit the Lake District, here’s a final pitch – fly in a plane from £125 and take it all in from a bird’s eye view.

Zimbabwean Arts and Culture at The Boma – Dinner & Drum Show, Victoria Falls

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This summer, those travelling to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, cannot miss a trip to five-star safari lodge provider, Africa Albida Tourism’s (AAT) much-loved The Boma – Dinner & Drum Show, where they can experience exciting new offerings at this renowned, interactive dining experience. Popular with both guests and Victoria Falls locals, The Boma is more than just a place to eat; it is a complete dining and entertainment experience, and is the perfect place for families and friends to gather for dinner. Welcoming more than one million guests since it opened in 1992, this year the much-loved Boma has been rejuvenated to offer an uplifting local experience, keeping it a firm favourite of the Victoria Falls experience.

 The Boma’s food offering has been fine-tuned under the guidance of South African celebrity chef, Arnold Tanzer, whilst its famous entertainment has been enhanced to create a truly multi-sensory evening, featuring energetic dancing, lively songs, story-telling, face painting, and an incredible interactive drumming show. The Boma – Dinner & Drum Show has long since been a celebration of Zimbabwe that diners flock to for an immersive evening, and now guests can learn even more about the Zimbabwean culture and fully enter into the African way of life.

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With the help of Chef Tanzer, the dedicated culinary team at The Boma have refined their delicious four-course meal that encourages diners to eat like a local and try something new, with a mouth-watering platter of starters, soup from the campfire, a typical Zimbabwean braai, and traditional delicacies such as warthog steak, Zambezi bream and, for the more daring – mopane worms, as well as vegetarian offerings. Serving the local food up on platters, The Boma truly plays on what Africa is known for – hospitality and generosity. The whole Boma experience is based on sharing and enjoying time together, as well as joining in the entertainment and celebration as much as possible.

Having enjoyed an exciting evening and satisfied the taste buds, guests can continue their African Adventure by staying in the heart of Victoria Falls, whether at Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, Safari Club, or Safari Suites. With breath-taking views across the plains, luxurious bedrooms, and five-star service, Africa Albida Tourism’s accommodation offerings are number one choice for guests looking to capture the very essence of Africa. One of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, Victoria Falls is widely known as not only a stunning spectacle but an adventure capital, and visitors are encouraged to make the most of everything on offer, from white water rafting to sunset cruises on the Zambezi River and more.

This summer, Africa Albida Tourism invites guests to discover The Boma – Dinner & Drum Show with the whole family, so adults and children alike can make the most of the exceptional entertainment on offer, from artistic craft activities to local music and dancing that runs late into the night. Every evening at The Boma is based around combining fantastic local food with traditional entertainment, to evoke the sentiment of a true Zimbabwean evening, bringing guests together in celebration.

Nightly rates at Victoria Falls Safari Club start from US$265/£197 per person sharing a Club Room per night on a Bed and Breakfast basis in High Season 2016 (1 July to 31 Dec 2016), and US$248/£185 per person sharing per night on a Bed and Breakfast basis in Green Season 2017 (1 Jan to 30 June 2017).

 *Prices in Pound Sterling are according to today’s exchange rate.

Where to Holiday like the Fit and Famous

With the celebrity cult well and truly on the wellness wagon, scenic social media snaps of hikes in Ibiza and treetop yoga in St Lucia are evoking worldwide workout wanderlust. Letting you in on the celebrity secret, Health and Fitness Travel, the leading specialists in wellness holidays worldwide, share where to holiday like the fit and famous. From a Thailand wellness retreat frequented by the Beckhams, to a health sanctuary in Spain graced by the likes of Kylie Minogue and Demi Moore, add a touch of star quality to your healthy escape.

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MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Spain: SHA Wellness Clinic

Spa like the stars at Spain’s pioneering SHA Wellness Clinic, a celebrity wellness hotspot boasting scenic ocean views and sweeping mountain vistas. Frequented by Hollywood stars and music moguls, SHA prides itself on offering distinctively tailored wellness programmes, with healthy breaks to help combat insomnia, stress, weight loss, smoking and more. The world’s first macrobiotic wellness resort, combine a tailor-made macrobiotic nutritional plan with rejuvenating spa therapies and complimentary classes, from yoga to Tai Chi.

Famous Fans: Demi Moore, Kylie Minogue, Simon Cowell, Naomi Campbell, Madonna and Yoko Ono.

Health and Fitness Travel (0203 397 8891 healthandfitnesstravel.com) offers 7 nights at SHA from £2,330pp or £2,775 for single occupancy. Price includes full board, a choice of programmes, return flights and transfers.

hibiscus-1393855St Lucia: The BodyHoliday

Nestled in a peaceful cove on the stunning Caribbean island of St. Lucia, The BodyHoliday, has offered a wellness sanctuary to many celebs in search of a haven to refocus their minds and re-energize their bodies. Inviting guests to be as active or relaxed as they need, a dynamic offering of spa treatments, sports, fitness and wellness activities ensure you’ll soon glow like the stars. Explore your tropical surroundings on a scenic bike ride or ocean kayaking adventure, before making the most of a wide array of group classes, including yoga and spinning in the treetop studio.

Famous Fans: Morgan Freeman, Charlotte Church and Emma Bunton.

Health and Fitness Travel (0203 397 8891 healthandfitnesstravel.com) offers 7 nights at The BodyHoliday from £2,140pp for single or double occupancy. Price is all-inclusive, with a choice of programmes, return flights and transfers.

 India: Ananda in the Himalayas

Rejuvenate your senses at this celebrity hotspot, a secluded wellness retreat set at the foot of India’s serene Himalayas. With a holistic wellness approach designed to unite mind, body and soul, revive your well-being with Ananda’s array of experiences, from ancient Indian Ayurvedic spa therapies, to meditation and healthy cooking demonstrations. Mere miles away from Rishikesh, the birthplace of yoga, yogi enthusiasts can enhance their practice before immersing themselves in the Himalayan foothills during guided mountains treks, a must-do for everyone, celebrity and civilian alike.

Famous Fans: Uma Thurman, Heidi Klum and Ricky Martin.

Health and Fitness Travel (0203 397 8891 healthandfitnesstravel.com) offers 7 nights at Ananda in the Himalayas from £3,440pp or £4,340 for single occupancy. Price includes full board, a choice of wellness programmes, return flights and transfers.

Ibiza: The Body Camp

A newcomer, already a growing favourite of the fit and famous; experience a full mind, body and soul transformation on the Mediterranean island of Ibiza with The Body Camp. The go-to celebrity hotspot for London’s heiress stars; satisfy your workout wanderlust as you shape up in the great outdoors with a variety of fun fitness activities, from beach circuit training to sea swimming and yoga. Take part in educational cookery classes and mindful coaching workshops, before unwinding after an active day with a revitalising dip in the mineral-rich salt water pool.

Famous Fans: Millie Mackintosh, Caggie Dunlop and Madeleine Shaw.

Health and Fitness Travel (0203 397 8891 healthandfitnesstravel.com) offers 7 nights at The Body Camp from £1,890pp or £3,030 for single occupancy. Price includes full board, a wellness programme, return flights and transfers.

Thailand: Chiva Som

Get the VIP treatment when you escape to the Hua Hin coast of Thailand at world-renowned health and fitness retreat, Chiva Som. Dedicated to a holistic approach to wellness promoting overall well-being, celebs from football stars, to supermodels and Hollywood royalty have sought sanctuary at this award-winning retreat. With tailor-made wellness programmes, from stress relief and yoga to detox and fitness, expert health and fitness advisers utilise the best in specialist exercises, spa therapies and nutrition to help you achieve overall well-being.

Famous Fans: David and Victoria Beckham, Elizabeth Hurley, Hugh Grant, Elle Macpherson and Kate Moss.

Health and Fitness Travel (0203 397 8891 healthandfitnesstravel.com) offers 7 nights at Chiva Som from £3,395pp or £4,535 for single occupancy. Price includes full board, a choice of programmes, return flights and transfers.

Turks & Caicos: Parrot Cay Yoga & Pilates

Holiday like one of the A-list and discover paradise on the private island of Parrot Cay, where many stars have chosen to build their own holiday homes. Guaranteed to leave you feeling like a million bucks, feel the soft sand between your toes as you practice daily yoga and Pilates looking out onto the Atlantic Ocean. Further improve your yoga knowledge as you open your mind and calm your senses through Vedic yogic philosophy group discussions, before raising the pace with mountain biking and windsurfing or unwinding in luxury at the world-renowned COMO spa.

Famous Fans: Donna Karan, Bruce Willis, and Keith Richards.

Health and Fitness Travel (0203 397 8891 healthandfitnesstravel.com) offers 7 nights at Parrot Cay from £2,485pp or £3,885 for single occupancy. Price includes breakfast, a yoga & Pilates programme, return flights and transfers.

 Thailand: Kamalaya

Set overlooking the stunning southern coast of Thailand’s Koh Samui island, Buddhist monks once used the cave at the centre of Kamalaya as a place of meditation and spiritual retreat. Now a wellness sanctuary for civilians and celebrities alike seeking long-term health transformations, tailor-made wellness programmes include; sleep enhancement, ideal weight, yoga, optimal fitness and learning how to embrace change. With a holistic approach to wellness, unwind with stress relieving spa therapies inspired by ancient healing traditions and classes, from yoga to Tai Chi. 

 Famous Fans: Sarah Ferguson, Annie Lennox and Oliver Stone.

Health and Fitness Travel (0203 397 8891 healthandfitnesstravel.com) offers 7 nights at Kamalaya from £2,502pp or £2,915 for single occupancy. Price includes full board, with a choice of programmes, return flights and transfers.

 For advice, guidance and booking visit www.healthandfitnesstravel.com or call 0203 397 8891

14 reasons to visit the Cotswolds published on Metro Online

Rise with the Lark, play with penguins, get creative in the countryside or doodle a design under a blossom tree.

Whatever wholesome fun takes your fancy, the Cotswolds are a fairytale dream of charming landscapes and crafty pastimes.

Go for exotic wildlife, rolling hills and the quaintest of villages smattered with thatched cottages and olde worlde watering holes.

Here’s 14 reasons you need to visit The Cotswolds this weekend.

1. Chavenage House, Tetbury

(Picture: Chavengage House)
(Picture: Chavenage House)

Majestic and grand, Chavenage House was used as a setting for Lark Rise To Candleford, the great British drama set in the 19th century.

2. The Gordon Russell Museum, Worcestershire

(Picture: www.gordonrussellmuseum.org)
(Picture: http://www.gordonrussellmuseum.org)

Gordon Russell was a design pioneer.

Experience his objet d’art at this museum dedicated to his discerning work.

3. Birdland, Bourton-on-the-Water

P-p-p-pick up a penguin! Birdland has the only breeding group of King Penguins in the country.

Spike the King Penguin, who was hand-reared, is a popular resident with his own Facebook and Twitter following.

4. Tewkesbury Heritage Centre

Fun for all the family, and free to boot!

Wandering through this 17th Century building will take you from the days of the earliest local settlers, through the Wars of the Roses, the Civil War and the industrial revolution and into the present day.

5. Burford village

14 reasons you need to visit the Cotswolds
(Picture: Getty)

I love Burford for its cute boutique shops, alley retreats behind the high street and pubs.

Experience craft-brewed and locally-brewed beer and friendly publicans as well as tasty food – the 16th Century Angel pub and restaurant’s my favourite for that!

6. Sudeley Castle and gardens

14 reasons you need to visit the Cotswolds
(Picture: Getty)

Perfect for a picnic, the 10 gardens at Sudeley feature creations by landscape designers Lanning Roper, Rosemary Verey, Jane Fearnley-Whittingstall, Charles Chesshire and Sir Roddy Llewellyn.

7. Gloucester Cathedral

14 reasons you need to visit the Cotswolds
(Picture: Getty)

Enjoy the sound of the choir or light a candle for a loved one in the splendid surroundings of this cathedral – which also starred in the Harry Potter films.

(Picture: Getty)
Look familiar? (Picture: Getty)

It’s easy to find in the centre of the city, and you can while away hours simply adoring the opulent interior and exterior.

8. Gloucester Docks

14 reasons you need to visit the Cotswolds
(Picture: Getty)

Drink or eat in modern bars and restaurants set along the old brick docks in Gloucester.

9. The Cotswold Falconry Centre

14 reasons you need to visit the Cotswolds
You can see a bald eagle, owls, hawk and falcon (Picture: Getty)

Experience an hour or two of flying owls, have them land on your hand and feed them.

It’s genuinely something different and fun for all ages at just £45 a head.

10. The Dovecote cottage, Tewksbury

(Picture: www.holidaylettings.co.uk)
(Picture: http://www.holidaylettings.co.uk)

Charming and romantic, send a love letter to your partner through one of the original pigeonholes that adorn the two double bedroom walls, or contemplate life in front of the pond outside.

The cottage is reasonably priced, and in a good rural yet central location for exploring the Cotswolds.

11. The Cotswolds Distillery

(Picture: Cotswolds Distillery)
(Picture: Cotswolds Distillery)

Visit a craft distillery within the Cotswolds Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Here, they produce a range of spirits including whisky and gin. Tasting tours start from £6 per a person.

12. New Brewery Arts, Cirencester

https://www.instagram.com/p/_FADWPTX5G/embed/captioned/?v=7

Put pen to paper in a creative writing class or channel your inner Zandra Rhodes with a textile course.

13. Court Barn Museum, Chipping Camden

(Picture: VisitEngland.com)
(Picture: VisitEngland.com)

Set in a 17th-century farm building and telling the arts and crafts story of Chipping Camden, The Court Barn Museum adds a splash of creativity and colour to your countryside adventure.

14. Painswick Rococo Garden

Wed in a fairytale red house, get lost in a garden maze a la Alice in Wonderland or daydream under a cherry blossom in these gardens founded in the 1730s.

First Park Hyatt resort in Europe now open on the undiscovered Northeast Coast of the island

Hyatt Hotels Corporation today announced the opening of Park Hyatt Mallorca in Spain, the first Park Hyatt resort in Europe. Located on the undiscovered Northeast Coast, the hotel also marks the first Hyatt hotel in Mallorca.

 Set in the exclusive Cap Vermell Estate, and designed in the style of an authentic Mallorquín village, the secluded setting offers guests a unique and tranquil environment. The new destination offers 142 luxurious guest rooms including 16 exquisitely designed suites. Rooms are complete with private terraces that feature stunning views of the verdant Canyamel Valley or Balearic Sea.

 “The opening of our first Park Hyatt European resort marks a significant milestone for Hyatt and underlines our commitment to meaningful and strategic growth in this region where we know our guests are traveling,” said Peter Fulton, group president for Europe, Middle East and Africa, as well as Southwest Asia for Hyatt. “Park Hyatt hotels are internationally renowned for their understated luxury and sophistication, and we are pleased to bring this experience to the Mediterranean.”

 Guests are able to enjoy world-class dining options centred around a Mallorquín village square, Plaza de la Torre. The authentic cuisine offered at Park Hyatt Mallorca includes locally inspired dishes at the Balearic Restaurant. Additionally, the resort features an Asian restaurant located in a private villa with views over the Canyamel Valley, an all-day Bistro, Café sa Placa, and a stunning tapas bar.

 Luxury facilities at Park Hyatt Mallorca include a landscaped poolside terrace featuring three swimming pools, two of which are heated, and a separate children’s splash pool. The resort’s Serenitas Spa offers seven treatment rooms, including two couples’ treatment rooms, each with their own terrace. There is a selection of signature treatments using locally inspired therapies and the spa is complete with a Himalayan salt sauna, steam rooms and an outdoor Jacuzzi.

 Guests can also enjoy access to the superb facilities at Cap Vermell, including a beach club just a 10-minute walk away. The estate’s country club, scheduled for completion in July 2016, boasts paddle ball courts, two tennis courts, an indoor heated swimming pool and outdoor pool. Within 15 minutes of the hotel, guests will have a choice of four superb golf courses, including a full 18-hole course adjacent to the resort.

 Park Hyatt Mallorca is home to the Residence, housing a selection of elegant meeting rooms and a purpose built show kitchen that open onto a beautiful Mallorquín courtyard. The Residence is styled with fine furniture and artistic flair to create a visually impressive, yet functional meeting space. A stunning 225sqm ballroom offers an extensive terrace and access to a landscaped garden with a gazebo overlooking the valley.

 “Park Hyatt Mallorca provides guests an unrivalled resort experience different than anything else offered on the island,” said Fulton. “We look forward to welcoming guests to Park Hyatt Mallorca on this previously undiscovered corner of the island and showing them the rare and intimate experiences that the Park Hyatt brand delivers.”

 Nightly rates at Park Hyatt Mallorca start from €500 / £352* in a Park King Room, including breakfast & VAT. To make a booking email mallorca.park@hyatt.com or visit www.mallorca.park.hyatt.com

*Prices in Pound Sterling are according to today’s exchange rate. Visit www.park.hyatt.com for more information.