Smith Travel BlogTravel tales and hotel news from the boutique hotel experts at Mr & Mrs Smith

The Wallawwa, Colombo: hotel of the week

Posted by Sarah Jappy on August 22nd, 2014

The Wallawwa Spa

Among three acres of peaceful tropical gardens, just outside of Colombo, Sri Lanka, is where you’ll find The Wallawwa. This 200-year-old colonial manor sparkles from a careful restoration, but hasn’t lost any of its original airs and graces.The Wallawwa Gardens & Pool

Style Lavish colonial pile
Setting Nestled in Negombo

Why this week? You don’t need an excuse to visit a tropical private hideaway where you can sample delicious Asian-fusion food, spend a day at the spa and not have to answer to anyone. Start your day with a spot of badminton on the lawn, then head to the Z Spa for a sandalwood and coconut scrub, or browse the hotel’s extensive library, where each tome has been hand-picked by the hotel’s owner. With our special offer (25 per cent off two-night stays), you won’t be able to resist a trip to this verdant oasis.

Our favourite bits The stone-lined lagoon pool is surrounded by jade-green fronds and lush tropical trees, which means you’re tucked away from the hotel’s main areas. Make sure to dine on the frangipani-covered terrace, where you’ll be delighted by the fragrant surroundings and flavoursome Sri Lankan delicacies, such as seer fish with coconut and mustard, or cashew and pea curry.The Wallawwa Garden Suite

Mr & Mrs Smith say… ‘‘Wallawwa’, we discover as we’re led along a colonnaded walkway, means ‘colonial house’, and this 18th-century, single-storey manor once belonged to the head chieftain of Galle. Today, the hotel boasts 14 rooms that sit on opposite sides of a central poThe Wallawwa Gardens & Poolnd filled with lotus flowers and dozens of frogs. Our Garden Suite is elegantly furnished with a king-size four-poster bed framed by white curtains that double as mosquito nets. A window seat with views onto the private outdoor terrace later transforms into an extra bed. The bright, terrazzo-lined bathroom is enormous, with soaring ceilings, twin basins and a rain shower.’ Read the full anonymous Wallawwa hotel review by Katja Gaskell

You say… ‘The interior design was amazing. I love the colonial feel. Almost everyone was couples – no kids!’ Lachlan, BlackSmith, stayed 20 November 2013

Discover more about The Wallawwa, see other Mr & Mrs Smith hotels in Sri Lanka, or contact our expert Travel Team.

Compiled by Katherine Williams

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Fontelunga Villas, Tuscany: hotel of the week

Posted by Editorial on August 15th, 2014

Fontelunga Villas hotel in Tuscany

We’re craving boundless rolling hills, aromatic olive groves, authentic bruschetta and days drenched in sun – and Fontelunga Villas has all that (and plenty of Tuscan romance) down to a tee. It’s Italian-rustic-chic meets stylish-contemporary-sleek… and this year it’s celebrating its 15th anniversary.

Style Moorish Tuscan Tranquillity
Setting The rolling Tuscan hills

Why this week? During August, the larger cities (and the shops, museums and sights) are quieter and calmer, and generally more enjoyable – thanks to to Tuscan families migrating to the coast for the summer. The good news is that this tranquil season also sees Fontelunga offering three blissful nights for the price of two.

Fontelunga Villas hotel in TuscanyOur favourite bits We’re enamoured with the Tuscan sun – it beats down on the beautiful olive groves, it kisses the saltwater pool until its warm and it sets in an orange haze while you dine al fresco in the gardens. And there isn’t a more Italian way to dine than communally, with fellow guest villas. Somewhere between the laughter, four lovingly prepared, delicious courses appear before you. Proceed to walk (or amble) off that Italian cuisine through the dainty streets of Florence or Siena, as both cities are just shy of an hour’s drive. And of course, after all that walking comes the requisite gelato.

Fontelunga Villas hotel in TuscanyMr & Mrs Smith say… ‘Swaying there in the olive groves, the Tuscan sun is beating down on us. A juicy, just-picked fig is melting in my mouth. It’s not your average Friday afternoon. Mrs Smith puts her hands in mine and we consider how long we could get away with staying at Villa Fontelunga before work notes our absence…’

You say… ‘The location is a great base for touring the local area to visit vineyards and picturesque hilltop villages but also just as good for lazy days around the pool. Oh and the food – amazing pasta and more cooked by their local chef – we had lunch and two dinners at the villa and the food was superb every time.’ Caroline, Blacksmith, stayed September 2012.

Compiled by Amy Brandhorst

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Travel gallery: our photoshoot in Greece

Posted by Rachel Juarez-Carr on August 13th, 2014

Smith & Family photoshoot at Ekies Resort in Greece

We’re just back from glorious Greece, where we worked on our new Smith & Family photoshoot at Ekies All Senses Resort in Halkidiki! We took along our top model Tillie and her exceptionally good-looking family, as well as a few suitcases packed full of swimsuits and beachwear from London Boutiques (Biondi Couture, Pistol Panties, Varley London, Beach Candy, Spektre, Finlay), gorgeous goodies from Frame Chain and the very soft, very stylish Frescobol Carioca towels.

Massive thanks to Petros at Ekies for hosting us, and Vangelis for taking us out on his boat!

(All photos by Rachel Juarez-Carr)

Smith & Family photoshoot at Ekies Resort in Greece)

Smith & Family photoshoot at Ekies Resort in Greece

Smith & Family photoshoot at Ekies Resort in Greece

Smith & Family photoshoot at Ekies Resort in Greece

Smith & Family photoshoot at Ekies Resort in Greece

Smith & Family photoshoot at Ekies Resort in Greece

Head over to our family-travel blog to see more of the shoot…

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Top 10 bank-holiday hotels in the UK and beyond

Posted by Kate Weir on August 12th, 2014

Top 10 bank-holiday hotels | Saint James ParisHave you booked a bank-holiday break yet? Yes, we know it’s just two weeks away, but there’s no need to resign yourself to three days of rain-threatened back-garden barbecues just yet. We’ve rounded up 10 luxury and boutique hotels with last-minute availability (from 23–25 August) for a short break or staycation, to make the last long weekend before Christmas extra special.

Whether you want to arrive by tube, train or plane, or your budget’s lavish or lacklustre, our carefully chosen range of romantic hideaways, cosy B&Bs and hip city-centre trendsetters will inspire you…

Bank holiday hotels | Ham Yard HotelWhat? Nattily Kit-ted out newcomer
Where? London, England

This Soho hotspot launched to much acclaim earlier this year. Dressed in Kit Kemp’s signature finery – hand-embroidered textiles, chevron-patterned headboards and mod-chintz wallpaper – the hotel’s bowling alley, spa, theatre and cinema cater for rainy days, and Mayfair and Oxford Street are both a short stroll away. Set around a leafy courtyard, with independent shops to explore, it’s tucked away from the bustle of central London.

Get a room! From £360 a night.

Top 10 bank-holiday hotels | Blakes HotelWhat? Urban escapism
Where? London, England

Whether you want to bed down in gilded Versailles-style pomp and splendour (the Director’s Double) or lily-white India-inspired lavishness (the Corfu Suite – winner of Sexiest Bedroom 2013 in the Smith Awards), this South Ken hotel’s Anouska Hempel-designed boudoirs offer city-centre flights of fancy like no other. Designer shops, parks and palaces are all within easy reach and highbrow haven Exhibition Road offers bank-holiday distractions.

Get a room! From £180 a night.

Bank-holiday breaks | The Tide House, CornwallWhat? Cool coastal hideaway
Where? Cornwall, England

This 16th-century bed and breakfast – just a cobbled stroll from the quayside – is the prettiest port in a storm we’ve seen. Nautical-chic decor is more haute than high seas, with porthouse windows, Breton-striped fabrics, and driftwood accents, and breakfast in bed made from the finest Cornish fare is perfect for lie-ins bathed in St Ives’ serene light. Blue-flag beaches and cultural kicks (the Tate St Ives and Barbara Hepworth Museum are within walking distance), are close by too.

Get a room! From £185 a night.

Bank holiday hotels UK | Harbourmaster Hotel, WalesWhat? Budget-friendly bayside stay
Where? Cardigan Bay, Wales

This idyllic, Grade II-listed Welsh inn’s heliotrope-hued façade hints at its quirky interiors. Daring paint shades and prints, wood-burning stoves and bath tubs big enough for two make charming yet eccentric couples’ dens, most with bay views from the hotel’s harbour seat. Linger over your long weekend here: amble by the seafront with an ice-cream cone, dine on caught-that-day crab and lobster at restaurants nearby and prop up the bar in the hotel’s sociable local-filled pub.

Get a room! From £110 a night.

Hotels for the UK bank holiday | Pool House, ScotlandWhat? Homey Highlands hideaway
Where? Wester Ross, Scotland

Loch Ewe views (trust us, it’s comelier than its name implies), rugged surroundings and a whisky room for post-rambling drams are just some of this Wester Ross stay’s specialities. It may be in a get-away-from-it-all Highlands setting, but interiors are globally inspired and historic, bedecked with artefacts from the owners’ travels. French marquetry tables, hand-carved doors and Edwardian bathing contraptions almost outdo the sweeping views from suites’ bay windows or balconies.

Get a room! From £250 a night.

France bank-holiday hotels | Saint James Hotel, ParisWhat? Haute high-flier
Where? Paris, France

Hop on the Eurostar to check-in at this personality-packed hotel. The Napoleon III residence’s former guises include a boot-camp for French boffins and the site of the first hot-air balloon launch. There’s Michelin-starred cuisine, a Library Bar with more than 12,000 books and Magritte-inspired suites – quantum-leaping digs where fin de siècle finery rubs elbows with quirky mod accoutrements. The terrace is particularly surreal, with aviation-themed pavilions that look like they might just lift-off.

Get a room! From £341 a night.

Amsterdam hotels | Hotel Seven One SevenWhat? Revivified residence
Where? Amsterdam, Netherlands

Where better for a bank-holiday break than canal-threaded, louche and laid-back Amsterdam? This boutique hotel sits on picturesque Prisengracht, but if you’re wowed by the setting wait until you cross the threshold. The hotel’s owners bought all of the former residents’ possessions: books on shelves and liqueurs in the drinks cabinet, crafting a carefully curated homage to lived-in Dutch design. However, there’s no velvet-rope mentality here, so make yourself at home in decadent dishevelment.

Get a room! From £235 a night.

Bank-holiday stays | Story Hotel, StockholmWhat? Scandi trendsetter
Where? Stockholm, Sweden

Pack your most obscure labels and head to Stockholm for a lively long weekend. This hotel asserts its cutting-edge cred on arrival; guests check themselves in on the lobby’s Macs, and its Ostermalm setting hosts designer stores aplenty. Interiors showcase artfully jarring styles: industrial-chic flooring, mid-century modern furnishings and Parisian-salon-style velvet seating mingle in the hip restaurant and bar, alongside graffiti scrawls and covetable artwork. Rooms are temptingly affordable, too.

Get a room! From £155 a night.

Bank-holiday in Italy | Casa Talia, SicilyWhat? Baroque bolthole
Where? Sicily, Italy

Unesco-protected Modica makes a dashing backdrop for Sicilian B&B Casa Talia – the brainchild of no less than two Milanese designers, who clearly know their stuff. The hotel’s style distills the Greek, Spanish and Arab influence in the surrounding area, with a few modern touches thrown in for good measure. Guests have to brave a steep staircase to reach the hotel, but beyond its wooden doors free beers from the minibar, mercifully cool rooms, home-cooked breakfasts under the garden’s pomegranate trees and a generous slice of Sicilian hospitality await.

Get a room! From £112 a night.

Bank-holiday stays | Domes of EloundaWhat? Swimming and sunbathing
Where? Crete, Greece

Suites with a private Jacuzzi or pool, three restaurants to choose from and a patch of private beach make this a seaside stay worth splashing out on. The hotel overlooks the brilliant-blue Mirabello Bay of Elounda and the island of Spinalonga – you can charter a boat to explore the ancient fortress there, but your day-to-day will largely consist of swimming, sunbathing and tucking into Michelin-starred fare, on repeat. If you have little ones in tow, this hotel has ample child-friendly assets, too.

Get a room! From £250 a night.

Take a look at all of our bank-holiday hotels


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Style monitor: taking a time out with Slow watches

Posted by Kate Weir on August 8th, 2014

Style monitor | Slow watchesThis month Mr & Mrs Smith are coveting… trendy timepieces from Slow watches.

As fashionable go-getters, and avid wrist-clockers, we love Slow watches‘ laid-back philosophy and clever wrist candy. Created by watch-industry veterans in need of some downtime, its bold minimalist design swaps 12 hours for 24 – so you can see the whole day at a glance – and discards the minute hand for meditative sundial-style timekeeping.

Sported by celebs and high-fliers craving a more languid lifestyle, this easygoing timepieces’ cult following has grown faster than its solo clock hand ticks. It’s an instant design classic too: 18 unisex styles with Italian-calf-leather, stainless-steel and gold straps are impossible to choose between (we’ll just take one of each thanks), it runs on a snazzy Swiss-made mechanism and its visage is refreshingly logo-free. If you’re a signed-up Smith member and you want to ensure your sense of inner calm is running like – well, you can guess – get 20% off with our exclusive offer.

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The Carneros Inn, Napa Valley: hotel of the week

Posted by Kate Thorman on August 8th, 2014

Unwind amid the vineyard-covered hills of gourmet heaven Napa Valley and let the rural charm of the Carneros Inn’s cottages and restaurants lull you into luxurious nostalgia for pastoral California’s olden days.

The Carneros Inn cottages | Mr & Mrs Smith boutique hotels

Style Modernist home on the range
Setting California’s bucolic pastures new

The Carneros Inn vineyards | Mr & Mrs Smith boutique hotelsThe Carneros Inn rooms | Mr & Mrs Smith boutique hotelsThe Carneros Inn outdoor shower | Mr & Mrs Smith boutique hotelsWhy this week? Scratch that same-old, same-old beachfront holiday and escape to Northern California’s wine country during its picturesque harvest season. Experience the outdoors with a day of wine-tasting at a nearby winery, bicycling through the countryside, swimming in the adults-only pool and dining al fresco at the Farm or the Hilltop for sweeping views of the valley. And there’s no better time to enrich your palate and become the ultimate wine connoisseur: with our exclusive offer for stays before September 1, book a week-long getaway to the Carneros Inn and get a $60 daily breakfast credit, along with two VIP tasting passes to the Vintner’s Collective in downtown Napa.

Our favourite bits… The quaint, farm-inspired cottages nestled in gardens of wildflowers are perfect for a romantic stays. Filled with décor paying homage to the early California pioneers, each cottage has a fireplace, heated stone floors in the ensuite and al fresco showers. If you can stand to leave the comforts of your room, your gastronomic sensibilities will be rewarded by the tasting menu at the Farm and the gourmet picnic treats at the market. But, we promise there is more to do than eat and drink. Spend a day getting pampered at the spa, shopping at the boutique on the hilltop for designer duds and partaking in complimentary fitness classes on the weekends.

Mr & Mrs Smith say… ‘If the early settlers ate and drank from the fruits of the land as well as we did at the Carneros Inn then their existence was not as impoverished as I had thought. We were very much taken by life on the range and were delighted to discover that rural dwelling no longer means abandoning modern urban standards. Some might call it California dreamin’.’ Read the full anonymous Mr & Mrs Smith review

Book the Carneros Inn now, browse more Napa Valley hotels or search all Mr & Mrs Smith hotel offers.

*Copy by Jennifer Trattler

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Foto Hotel in Phuket

We begin our global adventuring this month in Thailand, courtesy of two very different Phuket haunts. The first, Foto Hotel (above), is a slick stay high on a west-side hill; the second, Twinpalms (below; two trees, one word) is a beachside hangout with a lagoon-like pool.

Twinpalms hotel in PhuketMatachica Resort & Spa in BelizeHeading west, our next stop is the UAE, where the palm-flanked Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi serves up an understated take on Middle Eastern metropolis glamour.

Next, Belize! We’ve found two tropical-holiday-heaven hotels for you: one in the jungle – eco-mod Gaia Riverlodge perched among the trees – and the other by the beach, Matachica Resort & Spa (right).

Up in Aspen, the Hunter S Thompson-favoured Hotel Jerome has been chicly modernised but still has spectacular mountain views. And finally, we met our new favourite porcine pal, the The Pig – On the Beach in leafy Dorset, in one of England’s most picturesque hamlets…

See the full collection of new arrivals now, and join us again in a month to meet our latest loves!

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The Opposite House, Beijing: hotel of the week

Posted by Sarah Jappy on August 1st, 2014

The Opposite House, Beijing, Jing Yaa Tang roast duck dinner

Designed by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, The Opposite House features innovative architecture and interiors that embrace natural light and reclaimed materials, leaving visitors wide-eyed with appreciation. Just six kilometres from the Forbidden City and nestled in Beijing’s retail and lifestyle hub, Taikoo Li Sanlitun, this hotel calls for guests to bring an empty stomach and suitcase in order to embrace the food, shopping and nightlife on offer at this gourmet Mr & Mrs Smith getaway.

Style Gleaming glass glamour
Setting Sanlitun leisure locale

The Opposite House hotel, Beijing, Jing Yaa Tang RestaurantWhy this week? Take advantage of Smith’s exclusive gourmet offer that will see you sampling restaurateur Alan Yau’s vision of China at Jing Yaa Tang restaurant. To tempt taste buds, the menu offers innovative cuisines from across China that warrant perusal, but for the most delicious of evenings, order the signature Beijing roast duck dinner for two. Crispy-skinned bliss.

The Opposite House hotel, BeijingOur favourite bits… The smooth oak bath tubs will have you disrobing and, with rain showers to boot, you’ll relish your cleansing rituals in each room’s spa-inspired bathroom. Clean, minimalist rooms are accentuated by two-toned timber interiors and effortless white walls, linens and furnishings. Every little luxurious detail has been realised at The Opposite House, from the floor-to-ceiling windows inviting natural light and openness to the underfloor heating, BaYanKaLa toiletries and mood lighting. Your proximity to nearby retail complex Taikoo Li Sanlitun means you’ll never have to look far for something to do. It’s an exciting contemporary hub spread over 19 buildings, with more than 200 shops and 30 restaurants and bars.

The Opposite House hotel, Beijing, ChinaMr & Mrs Smith say… ‘Beyond the lobby, coolness pervades a bright atrium, where billowing steel drapes skillfully diffuse the light as it seeps into the 22-metre stainless-steel pool below… If architecture is the masterful, correct and magnificent play of volumes brought together in light, then Kengo Kuma, the Japanese architect of the Opposite House, has hit the nail on the head. We like. A lot.’ Read the full anonymous Opposite House hotel review…

You say… ‘I liked the stunning wood-decked rooms; it’s a real escape from the normal giant chain hotels in China and a wonderful location for restaurants in Beijing.’ (Harriet, Blacksmith, stayed on 19 October 2013.)

Browse our website for more gourmet holiday experiences, Beijing hotels and Mr & Mrs Smith offers. Smith guests enjoy exclusive extras with all stays.

Copy compiled by Katherine Williams


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Castiglion del Bosco, Tuscany: hotel of the week

Posted by Kate Weir on July 25th, 2014

This week we’re gripped with oenological longing and dreaming about a break in Tuscany. Luxury hotel Castiglion del Bosco has rolling sun-drenched pastures in which to sample full-bodied wines or forage for truffles nearby. Indulgence and adventure – we want it all…

Hotel of the week | Castiglion del Bosco

Style The grape escape
Setting Verdant Val d’Orcia

Luxury hotels in Tuscany | Castiglion del Bosco Country break in Tuscany | Tuscany luxury hotels |Castiglion del BoscoWhy this week? The Tuscan grape harvest is just a few months away, so now is the ideal time to book a late-summer break. The hotel’s harvest package includes vineyard tours and tastings of Castiglion del Bosco’s speciality Brunello di Montalcino wine, and guests can help pick sangiovese grapes. Foodie types may prefer to spend their stay truffle hunting in the surrounding woodland with an expert guide, followed by a five-course meal. Or if you simply fancy a long weekend in the sun, book their three nights for the price of two offer.

Our favourite bits… We love exploring Castiglion del Bosco’s medieaeval ruins – a castle and 12th-century church, with frescoes by Pietro Lorenzetti, set in the hotel’s 4,500-acre grounds. The heated infinity pool is set on the crest of a lavender- and bluebell-dotted hill overlooking swathes of Tuscan countryside, and the pretty restaurant terraces are ideal for an alfresco glass of Brunello and a spot of stargazing. The hotel has as much modern luxury as it does Tuscan tradition, with a superlative spa and a small gym.

Mr & Mrs Smith say… ‘‘So, who’s the owner?’ I ask. I’m answered in a hushed voice, their way of respecting someone who doesn’t want to show off: ‘Il Signor Ferragamo.’ They’re referring to Massimo – the son of Salvatore Ferragamo. Soon I see how obvious this is, from the injection of luxurious leather throughout: on the furniture, finely moulded onto edges of plasma screens, on the phone in reception, inserted into the wardrobe’s panels – precise, sophisticated, tailor-made by the same hands that had created bespoke shoes for stars from all over the world. Every detail, such as the impossibly soft bedlinen, or the beautiful stone in the bathrooms, is an expression of respect of traditional crafts and lifestyles, but also a refinement of modern luxury – as the Italians do best.’ Read the full anonymous Castiglion del Bosco hotel review

You say… ‘I liked the formal Tuscan high-ceilinged spacious rooms dotted around a pristine village setting in pretty countryside.’ Francesca, SilverSmith, stayed on 6 May 2014

For more wining and dining in Italy check out our boutique hotels in Tuscany, and take a peek at our collection of gourmet stays

Copy compiled by Emma Douty.

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Little Good Harbour, Barbados: hotel of the week

Posted by Kate Thorman on July 18th, 2014

We’ve been daydreaming of slowing things down and taking that quiet Caribbean getaway. The haven of Little Good Harbour in Barbados will instantly put you on ‘island time’ – chill out with a day at the beach, in the spa, or trolling through the local markets.

Little Good Harbour, Barbados | Mr & Mrs Smith boutique hotels

Style Old-style Bajan beach houses
Setting Palm-fringed fishing village

Why this week? Basking in the sun is closer than ever on Barbados, a surprisingly accessible Caribbean island with direct flights from most major UK and US cities. It’s even simpler once you arrive; Little Good Harbour is home to one of the island’s most celebrated restaurants. The highly acclaimed Fish Pot takes its name seriously, filling its menu with the freshest seafood from the sea just outside your front door; it’s no wonder that the restaurant draws a buzzy crowd of locals and guests alike, night after night.

Little Good Harbour, Restaurant | Mr & Mrs Smith Boutique HotelsLittle Good Harbour, Room | Mr & Mrs Smith Boutique HotelsLest you need any further encouragement, the hotel is offering an impressive 50 per cent off stay of seven nights or more before August 31 in one-bedroom suites, just for Mr & Mrs Smith members. Even if you can’t escape before the end of August, book before September 1, and get 25 per cent off your stay of seven nights or more in a one-bedroom suite from October 9 to December 15.

Our favourite bits… After awakening to the sounds of the waves crashing outside your whitewashed cottage, step out onto the beach, relax and dig your toes into the sand. Learn to catch a wave with the help of the hotel’s in-house surfing instructor, or, if you’re already an expert, let the concierge point you towards the best local sports for snorkelling, scuba diving, paddle boarding and sailing. After a day in the sun, pamper yourself at the Little Spa, where your toughest choice will be selecting a treatment from a menu full of massages, facials, body wraps and more. The restaurant is a must, but embrace the island’s fishing culture and pick up the daily catch from local fishermen to prepare in your fully outfitted kitchen for a night in.

Mr & Mrs Smith say… ‘As the equatorial sun bursts through the plantation shutters and sends shafts of light across our four-poster bed into our pitched-roofed, white beamed, wooden-floored bedroom, the ambience is nothing less than charming. When we step out onto our balcony, we realise that all that separates us from the glittering Atlantic Ocean is an equally enticing swimming pool and the coastal road we came in on. Perfect.’ Read the full anonymous Mr & Mrs Smith review…

Book Little Good Harbour now, browse more Caribbean hotels or search all Mr & Mrs Smith hotel offers.

*Copy by Jennifer Trattler

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