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

Saffire, Freycinet Peninsula: hotel of the week

Posted by Sarah Jappy on April 18th, 2014

We’re going bush – but we won’t be any roughing it on this trip. Crystal -blue waters, adventure-packed afternoons and aphrodisiac oysters are just a few of seductive Saffire‘s lures. Escape to the most eastern edge of Tasmania, ocean to one side, rocky mountains and green hills on the other and nothing but fresh Pacific air in between. Nature calls…

Saffire, Freycinet Peninsula, Tasmania, Australia

Style Elemental sanctuary
Setting Pristine natural wonders

Why this week? Eating oysters straight from water in a pair of waders gives a whole new meaning to the term ‘farm to table’ and, since this experience is on offer to guests at Saffire, you’ll want to be wading in the water right about now and not in the heart of winter. Not to mention that Mr & Mrs Smith members can stay four nights and only pay for three. With seasonal and organic breakfast and lunch included, plus a bottle of French bubbly from us, this deal demands to be exploited.

Saffire, Freycinet Peninsula, Tasmania, AustraliaOur favourite bits…You can sit on your private outdoor decking and simply lose yourself in the dramatic scenery  from the looming mountains in the distance to the shimmering water of Freycinet Bay, sparkling from sunrise to sunset. Nearby is Wineglass Bay, one of the most talked about destinations in Tasmania. Take a two-hour stroll to one of the pristine, isolated beaches, or splash around lazily in your own private pool. The Private Pavillions (rooms 14) are decorated with earthy tones and timber highlights that are in tune with their surroundings. The wonderful restaurant, Palate, has floor-to-ceiling glass windows with uninhibited views of Tasmanian sunsets melting into the Pacific.

Saffire, Freycinet Peninsula, Tasmania, Australia

Mr & Mrs Smith say… ‘Sunglasses on, wine in hand, contemplating the jaw-dropping view from the lounge sofa, we notice the chef in the veggie patch picking produce. Talk about giving ‘eating locally’ a whole new meaning. I haven’t experienced anything like it since we plucked tomatoes, beans, peaches and herbs from my grandfather’s garden in Barcelona back in the day.’ Read the full Saffire review

Browse all Smith’s Australian getaways or take a peek at some more Mr & Mrs Smith offers.


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We’re inviting you to join us in Clerkenwell on Sunday 11 May, 6pm–8pm, for an intimate, relaxed, book-saluting salon at the Zetter Townhouse in celebration of London’s Social Book Week and to support the Reading Agency


Tickets: a £25 donation* (*but of course, we won’t object if any of you lit-loving philanthropists want to donate more. And should you want to spend the night, we have some very special dinner, bed and breakfast rates, see below.)

Our travel club members are intrepid creatures, clear about the benefits of pleasure and convinced of the value of knowledge. We’ve all had lemon oil massaged up our arches by luscious Argentinian croupiers or submitted, prone, on Madagascan beaches and dug fingertips into hot sand as ocelot cubs lapped acacia honey from the backs of our knees. As true Smith travellers, we strive not only to feed our insatiable sensory appetites but also to slake our thirst for wisdom. Therefore, dear friends, as Social Book Week (aka #sbw14 in hashtag parlance) comes to a climax, we owe it to ourselves and to the universe, to come together on Sunday 11 May, in the sensual setting of the Games Room at the Zetter Townhouse, for an evening in celebration of literary ecstasy and in support of a charity devoted to expanding the excitement and opportunity that reading allows.

Alas, there are but 30 places available – book your seat by donating as soon as possible and RSVP to when all seats are reserved we will announce we are SOLD OUT on our JustGiving page. If you do snap up a place, please arrive for a cocktail and canapés at 5.30pm… then sit back and settle down for the speakers who will begin at 6pm.

The Zetter

Leatitia RutherfordButterfly-bothering synesthete Vladimir Nabokov’s ‘tingle between the shoulder blades’ must surely resonate with our first guest, trailblazing goddess of burlesque, Immodesty Blaize. Gustave Flaubert in a letter to his mistress remarked: ‘Comme l’on serait savant si l’on connaissait bien seulement cinq à six livres.’ Perhaps our second guest, London-based author (her memoirs, pictured right) and publisher Laetitia Rutherford, will concur. And translate.

Editor-in-chief Juliet Kinsman’s hero is the notorious publisher, pornographer and loan shark Jackie Treehorn, who once famously explained to Jeffrey Lebowski that ‘the brain is the biggest erogenous zone.’ She’ll no doubt be looking to shoehorn that shiny pearl into the discussion, as she hosts alongside Bookomi’s Richard Kilgarriff, founder of Books for Breakfast at Soho House and all-round literary white knight.

Why not make a night of it, and go to work on Monday with stories to share?
Dinner, bed and breakfast rates available and bookable through us if you email smithsalon@smithhotels.comBistrot Bruno Loubet is the Zetter’s modern French restaurant.

zetter town house

Stay Sunday 11 May at The Zetter, and enjoy dinner, bed and breakfast (price per room, for two guests)…

Rooftop Superior…..£304
Rooftop Deluxe…..£382

Stay Sunday 11 May at The Zetter Townhouse, and enjoy dinner, bed and breakfast (price per room, for two guests)…

Deluxe (pictured)…..£256

The Zetter Townhouse is set on St John’s Square, London EC1V 4JJ

For more information, to reserve tickets or to book dinner, bed and breakfast email; as much as we would love you all there, it is first come first served, my dears.

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Dormy House – stylish spa time for all the family?

Posted by Juliet Kinsman on April 16th, 2014

Fleeing the city to the Cotswolds in spring is always a treat, but never more so than when you trade home for a whirl at style-drenched Dormy House. From this season, stays at this luxe manor house just got that little bit more spoiling too, thanks to a chic new spa.

dormy house

Who says you can’t have a romantic country break with a little one in tow? A family escape to a sophisticated Cotswolds boutique hotel seems such a fabulous idea… Then you get to your fashionable bolthole, everyone else is wafting around romantically and your crew rocks up, spills their chattels everywhere, whacks up the decibels, and everyone wishes you’d stayed home. Thankfully the welcome to Dormy House couldn’t be warmer: whether you’re a seclusion-seeking couple (see Alice Stone’s fresh Mr & Mrs Smith review), or this child-wielding threesome…

Broadway SketchbookArriving on Saturday afternoon, we had time for a romp around watercolour-worthy* Broadway before supper. (*As my artist grandmother’s 1975-published sketchbook (pictured, left)  attests, it’s just as charming today.) Since locavore dining at Dormy is a highlight, we were happy to work up appetites for the Potting Shed. The hotel’s in-house inn delivers cut-above pub-grub in designer surroundings we could happily have hung out in all evening; thankfully though for the Mr and Mrs Smiths all around, we were happy to retire to our cute cottage-feel quarters leaving the remaining lovebirds free of the sound of me cajoling my daughter into eating all her kale as well as the insanely delicious hand-cut chips if you she wanted to share some sticky toffee pud with ice-cream.

house spa

After a night for Kitty on a pink-sheeted blow-up bed, and us sprawled happily across a heavenly mattress so large Liberace would have considered it indulgent, (and of course a mega breakfast from an as-though-art-directed spread), we were at the House Spa on the dot of 9am for our allotted family-friendly slot in the House Spa pool…

dormy spa pool

That cool bluey-purple infinity water may have looked best suited to honeymooners, but my six-year-old revelled in having her wicked splashing way in it for the hour and a half she was allowed in. The best part for this mum was I could sneak in some spa time while keeping an eye on her… When does that happen for an on-duty parent? Thanks to a pool-view glass-walled sauna (one of a few sweetly scented steam rooms) I relaxed in lavender-enhanced heat while my sea monster deflected the subtle scowls from bath-robed lovers stretched out on the sunloungers.

Of course it was important to me that Kitty enjoyed quality daddy-daughter time too, so to sneak off for my ‘Champagne and truffle facial’, I dropped her like a stone lovingly handed her to her pa to play with. And I’m delighted to report from this mother’s me time (OK, shoot me now for using the phrase ‘me time’), that the new House Spa is that rare breed of boutique-hotel wellness centre: it is high-end yet anything but sterile, pretty as an interior-design showroom, with super-friendly therapists who are as competent as they are professional…

And relax.

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Unusual arrivals: 10 great ways to get to your hotel

Posted by Lucy Fennings on April 14th, 2014

Gondola to Ca Maria AdeleDid we fool you with ‘Love is in the Air‘, our tongue-in-cheek take on romantic travel for 1 April? We can’t really arrange for you to take love to a higher plane en route to your boutique hotel, but our brilliant Travel Team has arranged all manner of unusual hotel arrivals and special sorties, from gondola cruises in Venice to mule-trekking in the High Atlas.

Here are 10 amazing (and real) ways of getting to, from and around your Smith stays…

Verana, Jalisco, Mexico1 TAKE A MULE TRAIN IN MEXICO
Where? Verana, Jalisco
How? Verana is a swoon-inducingly gorgeous collection of thatched-palapa huts overlooking a dramatic vista of jungle and ocean. This rustic beach retreat is so far off the beaten track, you can only access it by sea, followed by mule ride. From Boca de Tomatlán, you’ll be met on the beach by the hotel’s private boat for a 30-minute ride along the stunning Pacific coastline to Yelapa. Here, hotel staff wait with mules to carry you and your luggage to the property. 
What next?
 Test out in-water massage pools in the spa, laze on cotton-canopied beds open to the balmy air, and sample a mouth-watering menu of fresh Mex cuisine.
Also try…
 A mule trek into Morocco’s Atlas Mountains from Kasbah du Toubkal; a guided mule ride atop Mount San Jacinto while staying at Viceroy Palm Springs.

Paraglide into Zighy Bay, Oman2 PARAGLIDE INTO AN OMANI VILLAGE
Where? Six Senses Zighy Bay, Musandam Peninsula
How? The beautifully barren, otherworldly setting of Six Senses’ award-winning Oman outpost – backed by an arena of craggy cliffs on a pale crescent moon of sand – deserves a dramatic entrance: arriving guests can choose to paraglide down to the bay (strapped to an instructor) from a rocky outcrop in the surrounding mountains. 
What next? 
Slip out of your beachfront villa into the languid ocean, be pampered in a goat’s milk and honey bath, scale rocky cliffs and dive into deep rock pools, catch your own fish for dinner or salute sunset with canapés by a campfire… 
Also try…
Other arrival options at Zighy Bay include taking a speedboat to its private marina from the port of Dibba, or tackling the rocky, cliff-hugging roads in a 4×4.

Palazzo Barbarigo, Venice by boat3 CROSS THE GRAND CANAL TO YOUR PALAZZO
Where? Palazzo Barbarigo, Venice
How? With a private landing pier on the Grand Canal, this 16th-century palace is perfectly placed for a swish arrival by gondola or motor launch – just channel your brooding inner James Bond and sweep in looking as moody and good-looking as possible, and you’ll be totally in tune with the slick contemporary interiors and seductively dim lighting. 
What next? 
Whisk your partner in crime-fighting upstairs, and you’ll find Palazzo Barbarigo has equally atmospheric bedrooms, with saucy feathered lampshades adding a touch of burlesque whimsy to the theatrical drapes and art deco-style cocktail cabinets. 
Also try…
Palazzina G is also on the Grand Canal, close to the Vaporetto station; and Ca Maria Adele has its own gondola pier – take one across the canal to view the Royal Palace. Cruise Lake Garda in Villa Arcadio‘s gorgeous vintage Riva Aquarama motor launch; or island-hop or beach-browse on Villa Dubrovnik‘s private Venetian vaporetto.

Anantara Qasr al Sarab Desert Resort, Liwa Oasis4 TAKE A 4×4 ACROSS THE EMPTY QUARTER
Where? Anantara Qasr al Sarab Desert Resort, Liwa Oasis
How? Surrounded by dunes as far as the eye can see, this remote fortress of luxury is on the border of the Empty Quarter, the largest uninterrupted stretch of sand in the world. It’s the perfect escape for wannabe Wilfred Thesigers and Lawrence of Arabias, where romance comes in the form of endless horizons and sweeping sand vistas. Take an exhilarating drive in a 4×4 into the emptiness across huge dunes, and you’ll see what so captivated those early adventurers.
What next?
Not adventurous enough? Tackle the dunes by camel, try your hand at falconry, or book a treatment at the indulgent spa.
Also try… You can arrive by helicopter for a grand overview of your desert surrounds – transfers are available from Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

Perantzada hotel, Kefalonia and Ithaca5 LAND A SEAPLANE IN A GREEK COVE
Where? Perantzada, Ithaca
How? The island – reputedly the birthplace of Odysseus – has no airstrip, so is nicely undeveloped. Perched above the harbour town of Vathi, the former neoclassical naval college has been transformed into Perantzada, a peaceful boutique retreat where the elegantly old blends seamlessly with the strikingly new. Arrive by seaplane from Patra or Corfu for the ultimate in romance, as secret coves hove into view and you splash down onto the deep blue waters (Hellenic Seaplane’s services are due to resume in Summer 2014).
What next?
Loll by the stone-lined, glass-edged infinity pool; explore the little town of Vathi; take in the views from Bluebell, a junior suite with a private terrace offering uninterrupted sea vistas, an Eames rocking chair and a pebble-shaped coffee table.
Also try… You can charter the hotel’s speedboat for transfers or short trips. You can also make an adventurous sea-plane arrival at Soneva Fushi in the Maldives (among others).

Cable car to Vigilius Mountain Resort6 SCALE THE DOLOMITES BY CABLE CAR
Where? Vigilius Mountain Resort, South Tyrol
How? This dramatic contemporary Dolomiti resort is set in a car-free area in South Tyrol, accessible only via the Vijiljoch cable car from the village of Lana near Merano. The hotel presides over jaw-dropping, pasture-lined mountainscapes, scented with larch and pine, and the exhilarating cable-car ride gives you time to soak up your stunning surroundings.
What next?
Ride Norwegian horses, paraglide off the mountain, ski, toboggan, or keep things relatively low-key with hiking, biking and relaxing in the hotel’s health spa.
Also try… the cable-car to the top of Table Mountain while you’re staying at Hotel 22 (aka Twentytwo) in Cape Town; or the cable car beside Capri Palace Hotel & Spa for views of the entire region looking over to Vesuvius and the Amalfi Coast.

Blancaneaux Lodge, Belize by Cessna7 SOAR IN A CESSNA ABOVE THE JUNGLE CANOPY
Where? Blancaneaux Lodge, Belize
How? Avoid the bumpy three-hour drive from Belize City airport: charter a five-seat Cessna plane to zip you over the jungle canopy to the Lodge’s own airstrip and you’ll get an eyeful of beautiful lush greenery and barely-explored landscape.
What next? Canoe down Barton Creek; track jaguars on horseback; have a picnic by a waterfall; or just lounge by the pool before you marvel at the crazy-anachronistic but brilliant wood-fired pizza oven at the restaurant.
Also try… A three- or five-seater Cessna can propel you to romance at Turtle Inn, Belize; or arrive on Lizard Island on the Great Barrier Reef in a private charter plane.

Where? Naladhu, Maldives
How? From the airport, the only way to reach this Maldivian beauty is by speedboat: it’s a 35-minute transfer to Naladhu across crystal-clear sea and emerald lagoons. You’ll pull up to the resorts private pier. We dare you not to be excited at this point.
What next? You don’t need us to tell you what’s great about the Maldives (hint: beach, snorkelling, sunbathing); this is one of the most romantic resorts in the region. Take the atmospheric boat journey across the bay to sister resort Anantara Dhigu on a nearby island, where award-winning over-water Anantara Spa awaits, or dine on a traditional dhoni.
Also try… arriving by speedboat at luxe Thai resort Rayavadee, on the edge of the Krabi National Marine Park (it’s the only way you can reach it).

Vintage car transfers at Heritage Suites Hotel, Siem Reap9 DRIVE BY ANGKOR WAT IN A VINTAGE MERC
Where? Heritage Suites Hotel, Siem Reap
How? Book a Smith stay at this charming Khmer classic, and you’ll be collected in a Mercedes and driven past the gob-smacking temple of Angkor Wat en route.
What next? After a day exploring the jungle-draped Angkor temple complex, chill out in the hotel’s spacious saltwater pool surrounded by verdant foliage. It’s the only pool in town cooled to a refreshing temperature on a hot day, so lap it up. The buzzy lobby bar has its own jazz quartet.
Also try… If vintage or quirky vehicles are your thing, tour Kerala or Sri Lanka in a Forties-style Ambassador; take on Paris in a Citroën 2CV; or arrange for a set of dinky Italian wheels to be delivered to your base of operations in Tuscany – a vintage Fiat Spider or Cinquecento is a fun way to see the sights. Prefer modern cars? Try Capella Singapore‘s Rolls-Royce Phantom.

Where? Spicers Peak Lodge, Queensland
How? Set on a 9,000-acre cattle station and private nature refuge, luxe mountain retreat Spicers Peak Lodge is a Scenic Rim marvel. Reach Australia’s highest non-alpine lodge by helicopter from Brisbane airport for the best views.
What next? 
If the dramatic peak-top location doesn’t wow you, the dreamy dining will. Work off the calories with guided bush walks, spa pampering or vineyard-hopping in this up-and-coming wine region.
Also try…
 A helicopter tour of Venice from I Qs; or a flight with Louisa ‘Choppy’ Patterson during your stay at Matakauri Lodge: try the Milford Ultimate – which takes you over the Main Divide of the Southern Alps, Lake Te Anau and the famous Milford Track and the Sounds – and you can chill your champagne with ice from the glacier and have lunch in the mountains at a goldminer’s cottage.

Inspired? You’ll be amazed by what the Smith Travel Team can organise…

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Hospes Palau de la Mar, Valencia: hotel of the week

Posted by Kate Weir on April 11th, 2014

After our Easter holiday spring-cleaning spree we’ll be in need of a well-earned European city break. Spanish boutique hotel Hospes Palau de la Mar – in architecturally arresting Valencia – appeals to our newfound neat freak with spotless monochrome minimalism…

Hotel of the week | Hospes Palau de la Mar
 Minimalist modern palace
Setting Edge of the old town

Valencia hotels | Hospes Palau de la Mar Hotel of the week | Hospes Palau de la Mar Valencia Spanish boutique hotels | Hospes Palau de la MarWhy this week? Book by 20 April to get a tidy 25 per cent off summer stays at the hotel, from 1 July to 31 August 2014 (with free breakfast). Book for non-stop beach partying at Benicassim Festival (17–20 July); fiesta in traditional fashion at the July fair, with flamenco, bullfighting and flower-bedecked floats (from 21 July); or get saucy in a spectacularly messy manner at La Tomatina (27 August).

Our favourite bits This unblemished beauty’s snow-white walls and clean-lined sculptural furnishings may please even the most pernickety guests, but the hotel’s far from spartan: the original building’s decorous mouldings prettify pared-back interiors and wooden veneers add a blush of warmth. The restaurant’s citrus-infused fare and underground hydrotherapy pool add a colourful dash of character, too.

Mr & Mrs Smith say… ’Having bounced on the bed, snooped through the minibar, sprawled on both sofas and been stymied by the complexities of the skylight controls, we decide that it must be about time for cocktail hour. So we decamp to the hotel bar. We settle down with two generous martinis – potent enough for use during a hippo’s epidural – and a waiter snakes over with an artful platter of surrealistically curved vegetable crisps, a vase of slender breadsticks and a bowl of delightfully bitter, herby olives.’ Read the full Hospes Palau de la Mar review…

You say… ‘Superb customer service; great position near the centre of town but not too near! The area around hotel has lovely nice bars and shopping, near the river park.’ Brenda, BlackSmith, stayed on 22 Oct 2013.

Find more luxury hotels in Spain, or search Mr & Mrs Smith offers for summer stays.

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Suitcase goes to Budapest: a travel gallery

Posted by Lucy Fennings on April 8th, 2014

Suitcase Magazine digital editor Robin ReetzSunsets, happening creative hangouts, independent boutique boltholes, a Bohemian vibe (literally) and sweet sweet booze (literally)… it’s a hackneyed meme, sure, but: what’s not to like about Budapest?

Don’t just take our word for it: check out this city-guide-cum-diary from roving reporter Robin Reetz.

This travel-lovin’ Atlanta gal is a London-based lifestyle and fashion writer who has put pen to paper (and fingers to keys) for Refinery29, Teen Vogue and now Suitcase Magazine as digital editor – here she shares a photo journal from her Smithy sojourn at the ever-brilliant Brody House hotel in Budapest.

Budapest boutique hotel Brody HouseDAY 1 | 1 BRODY HOUSE

If you can arrange it, arrive to Budapest at dusk. Weather dependent, you’ll exit the plane as the pink sun sets, which is not a bad way to greet any city. From Budapest Airport, make your way from to Brody House in Pest, located just steps from the Hungarian National Museum. I’d heard a lot about Brody House before I arrived – mainly how this hotel and member’s club had become the epicentre of Budapest’s creative scene. Turns out it’s all true, which was confirmed at first glance of my room, designed by French artist Ludovic Thiriez. The Hungarian Tokaji wine from Brody’s honesty bar didn’t exactly hurt their case either.

Brody House Studios BudapestDAY 1 | 2 BRODY STUDIOS

Budapest is known for its nightlife, and many bars and pubs are open into the early hours. Experience some local culture while sampling more of the Brody empire by starting the evening at Brody Studios – a bar and restaurant that houses a recording studio and artists’ residency program. Remember the whole ‘epicentre of Budapest culture’ thing?
This is where it happens.

Ruin Pubs | Budapest city guideDAY 1 | 3 RUIN PUBS

To see Budapest at play, spend the rest of the night at a ruin pub. Drinks flow freely at these grungy, bohemian bars housed in old, slightly deteriorating buildings all over the city. Do not leave Budapest without having a drink at a ruin pub – I’d recommend Szimpla Kert – but be wary of the traditional Hungarian liquor Unicum…

Brody House hotel, BudapestDAY 2 | 1 GOOD MORNING

Waking up to discover Brody House bathed in heartbreakingly gorgeous daylight was nothing short of magic. If you’re lucky enough to stay in a room that opens to Brody’s glorious courtyard, then this will be your morning view.

Budapest city guideDAY 2 | 2 BUDA & PEST

Post Brody breakfast, introduce yourself to the city properly by exploring on foot. Explore the city centre while you’re in Pest, then cross the famous Chain Bridge to experience quieter Buda. If you find yourself with time, stop by one of Hungary’s famous thermal baths – Budapest is filled with them, but go for Gellert Bath and Spa in Buda.

Budapest Opera HouseDAY 2 | 3 NIGHT AT THE OPERA

Spend a sophisticated evening at the Hungarian State Opera House, located on busy Andrássy út. Even if you don’t have tickets, pay a visit to the building if for nothing but for a quick walk around the lobby – the gilded fixtures and classical architecture are breathtaking.

Auguszt café BudapestDAY 3 | 1 SWEET GOODBYES

Once you’ve bid farewell to Brody House, before you head back to the airport, stop off for some cakes. After all, what better way to finish a short stay in Budapest (or anywhere for that matter) than with cake? Try a sampling of some traditional Hungarian pastries and cakes at the delicious Auguszt, a café with three locations throughout the city.

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Viceroy Palm Springs, California: hotel of the week

Posted by Laura House on April 4th, 2014

We’re in the mood for a really good bash – copious cool drinks, non-stop dancing and a groovy poolside stay. Which is why we’re all about California dreamin’ right now and the retro-chic Viceroy Palm Springs. Let’s get this party started…

Viceroy Palm Springs | Mr & Mrs Smith hotels

Style Hollywood regency spa resort
Setting Manicured Mojave desert oasis

Viceroy Palm Springs bedroom | Mr & Mrs Smith hotelsWhy this week? Oh, we don’t mean just any old soirée, either. But the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, the all out riot of indie, hip hop, rock and electronic music kicks off next weekend. Located just 30 minutes from the venue, the Viceroy Palm Springs is a glam home base during this two weekend event. Whether you’re festival-bound or not, right now you can spend more time lounging poolside with a special offer of 20 per cent off four nights or more.

Our favourite bits… Set at the foot of the San Jacinto mountains and surrounded by fragrant fruit trees and manicured gardens, this desert scene doesn’t get much better. Bright white neutral rooms are accented with black gingham and kitted out with yellow upholstery and mirrored bureaus. The lovely fitness and spa facilities round out the healthy and wealthy atmosphere of this bastion of southern California style. And if you weren’t already feeling pampered enough, the service which somehow manages to be well-groomed and relaxed; luxurious and low-key; and attentive and unobtrusive.

Viceroy Palm Springs restaurant | Mr & Mrs Smith hotelsMr & Mrs Smith say… ‘The Viceroy is all about the thoughtful touches: totes and shoes were provided in our room to take to the pool; trays of healthy drinks were left out for us to help ourselves to; and the weekend brought with it all-day gourmet barbecues by the pool (and we’re not just talking paltry beef patties and a few chewy chicken wings – this was a bountiful bonanza of lobster, shrimp and filet mignon). There are bicycles to borrow free of charge, which come with tiny mobiles set to speed-dial concierge, spa or restaurant – perfect for when you simply can’t pedal a metre further without a snack, or need a lift after hitting the boutiques in Palm Springs Village. In high summer, one of the Jacuzzis is chilled to create an ice-cool plunge pool for instant refreshment, and on balmy moonlit nights, you can have a sensual aromatherapy massage under the stars, or recline on a pillow-and blanket-strewn lawn to settle down to a classic noir film. Bliss. ’ Read the full Viceroy Palm Springs Mr & Mrs Smith review…

Browse more California hotels or search all Mr & Mrs Smith hotel offers.

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Paradise Island Villas, Crete. Sam Mann is on a fact-finding mission

Posted by Juliet Kinsman on April 3rd, 2014

We are off to Crete. No sooner had the hotel confirmation email pinged into my inbox than the Googling began…

  • crete mapCrete: the largest and most populous of the Greek Islands.
  • The weather? Polý zestó. (Very hot.)
  • Oh hi Eros. I love a bit of Greek Mythology… And our destination, Paradise Island Villas, is made up of 12 individually designed villas each named after a Greek god or goddess.

Another email arrives: we have been upgraded free of charge.
Goodbye executive villa, hello paradise villa, Poseidon. I love this place already!The Googling frenzy continues…


  • Poseidon: God of the sea. Cue slo-mo image of Mr and Mrs Smith skipping hand in hand through the waves.
  • Poseidon: also known as ‘Earth Shaker’, since he’s said to cause earthquakes.

Yikes: enough Googling for one night; then Mr Smith  gives me a wink at the mention of the earth moving ­– easy tiger.

We arrive at our boutique bolthole, and have barely had a chance to admire the sea to one side, and the mountains and olive groves to the other, when we are greeted by our hosts: effervescent Eleni, and her trusty second-in-command, Pol (pronounced Paul). Our bags are whisked away and traded for a glass of chilled wine. A short walk from the cool, sleek hotel reception through well-tended gardens with vibrant magenta bougainvillea blooms draped over each villa like feather boas around the necks of dancing girls, and we are at our new home.

Paradise Villas

As Pol opens the door to our villa, Little Miss Smith bursts inside and shrieks at the sight of a kiddie corner: an Etch-a-Sketch, some building blocks and inflatables… she is in her element. I am just as delighted when I opened the fridge door to find it stocked with a few necessities – OK, I’ll be mother… Who wants a cuppa?

Striking the perfect balance between comfort, luxury and style and a unique combination of rustic and ethnic elements, the neutral tones are peppered with a fancy jewel-coloured glass chandelier and an oriental sideboard declares elegance.

Sat at a table next to the glistening pool under a gazebo, lanterns hanging from olive trees giving off a subtle glow, our first meal feels like a special celebration. Mediterranean and Greek dishes made with fresh local produce mean that we have that most pleasant of difficult decisions. The Ambrosia restaurant, our waiter Mike explained, was named after the food and drink of the Greek gods or demigods, often depicted as conferring ageless immortality upon whoever consumed it. The promise of eternal youth was tempting – but unnecessary as my catch of the day tasted divine as did Mr Smith’s meatballs bathed in wine and herby tomato sauce. Little Miss Smith was chuffed with her mini meatballs, which were served up as though she were at a kid’s party. For us, dessert washed down with copious amounts of local wine seemed our professional duty when it came to putting the eternal youth theory to the test.  All for research purposes, you understand.

HP Sauce

Throughout our stay it became clear that nothing was too much trouble for our hosts. On our first morning Mr Smith, a true Brit abroad, was told that the kitchen unfortunately didn’t stock brown sauce to accompany his breakfast; the following morning his full English arrived along with a big pot of HP Sauce for Mr Creature of Habit. Now that’s exceptional service.

Our days were spent relaxing on a huge daybed next to one of the communal pools or hanging in our secluded garden scantily clad like Aphrodite and Adonis and taking the occasional dip in our very own pool with our little cherub. Late afternoons we would retreat for a soak in the jacuzzi bath which Mr and Mrs Smith both fitted into perfectly. All that was missing was suitable music to set the mood. The theme tune of Dora The Explorer wasn’t quite what we had in mind. That’ll be the surround-sound speakers blasting from downstairs for a certain Miss Smith sprawled on the sofa.

Despite Miss Smith being adamant we were going to live in our luxury villa forever the inevitable came and we reluctantly had to say goodbye to Eleni and Pol, our perfect hosts and new friends. Needless to say we’ll be in ‘paradise’ again – quicker than you can say polý zestó.

Paradise Island Villas

Presenting, producing and writing – Sam likes to keep busy. She manages to fit in being a mum to daughter April who came along in 2010. Throwing herself into motherhood and loving every minute of it (well, almost) Sam was keen to find a place where like-minded mums or mums-to-be could hangout during cracker snacks, nappy changes or during night feeds for a mixture of fun, facts and friendship through her website, Mumazine.

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New for April: Smith hotels in Italy, Spain, Australia, the US and the UK

Posted by Rachel Juarez-Carr on April 2nd, 2014

Hotel Hotel in Canberra

It’s spring! And our top-notch hotel seekers have sprung! (…or something.) This month, we have a diverse array of first-class stays around the world to get you lining up your suitcases by the front door in a wanderlusty frenzy.

We begin in Australia, with Canberra’s entirely ungoogleable Hotel Hotel, so cool they named it twice (above). Then, for something entirely different, we hit the Great Ocean Road, where Drift House in Port Fairy is an intimate four-room hideaway.

The Broome hotel in New YorkJK Place Roma hotelNext, to New York! Behind its discreetly unassuming entrance, The Broome in Soho (right) is a downtown dream pied-à-terre with Basquiats on the walls; between Times Square and Central Park you’ll find Westhouse Hotel, modelled on an ’30s private members’ club. Out on the left coast, West Hollywood’s The Chamberlain has its own vintage style, too – it’s all chic pendant lamps, Sixties-swivel chairs and a mod palette of monochrome black-and-white with pops of bold yellows, teals and purples.

In the UK, The Pig near Bath is a honey-walled country house set in acres of Somerset deer park, with a bountiful kitchen garden where much of the scrumptious food is grown (it’s big piggy sisters The Pig and The Pig in the Wall are both on our books, too). Seeking something sunnier? Make your way to Mallorca, to Moorish-inspired Hotel Cort. Finally, we ended our trip in the Eternal City — we love quite a few places to stay in romantic Rome, but the secluded and surprisingly peaceful Casacau apartments and modernist masterpiece JK Place Roma (above) won our hearts anew.

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Love is in the air…

Posted by Anthony Leyton on April 1st, 2014

Private mile-high flights | Discretion assuredPassenger count 2
Destination Cloud Nine
Cruising altitude Higher, baby

Hotel stays these days are increasingly about experiences – so why not the journey, too?

We’re very proud to add an exciting new experience to our roster of services: the Smith Love is in the Air package. Recently, we’ve noticed that an increasing number of travellers have been contacting our nothing’s-too-much-trouble Travel Team to ask them to help achieve the ultimate travel high.

Well, we’re happy to oblige.

Love is in the Air is the result of our partnership with private-jet firm Heaven & Back, which enables couples who can’t wait till hotel check-in to indulge their passions by offering a discreet and romantic atmosphere in which to celebrate their relationship mid-flight.

‘We used to say that people don’t go to Smith hotels to play Scrabble.
Now it appears they don’t catch flights to drink tiny G&Ts and watch half-baked Anne Hathaway rom-coms, either…’
Smith founder and CEO James Lohan

Love is in the Air customer testimonial


• Choose from three flight routes, from London Luton to Europe’s most heart-stirring cities: Paris, Venice and Frankfurt.

• GoldSmith members enjoy private flights, with access to unlimited champagne and a linen-swagged four-poster bed in the back of the jet.

• SilverSmith members are accommodated in one of four luxury ‘love cabins’ with unlimited wine to help ease things along.

• BlackSmith members can enjoy the seductive privacy of a curtained-off row of seats.

• For a £5,000 supplement, flyers can even experience the sensual possibilities of weightlessness on one of Heaven & Back’s zero-gravity aircraft.

Fares start at just £6,999 per couple (up to a maximum of four people per flight). Flight times can vary, but tend to be around two hours, which our experience so far suggests is more than enough…

Ready for lift-off? Find out more here.

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