Listen up: TuneSmith’s musical recommendations for August

For this month’s selection of summer sounds, our esteemed TuneSmith, Rob Wood, picks out a surprisingly uplifting medley of melancholia, and an album inspired by one of Smith’s top honeymoon hotels, the Maldivian paradise of Huvafen Fushi

ALBUM OF THE MONTH

Boys Outside by Steve Mason

When? You’ve exhausted Beta Band and Hot Chip
Why?
This is the alpha Beta’s finest solo outing to date

There’s a black cloud hanging over this album that, in theory, shouldn’t be there given it’s produced by Richard X – the man responsible for frothing the pop of the Sugababes, Rachel Stevens and Liberty X. Yet the coming together of this musical maverick and Steve Mason’s heart-wrenching exposure of his own depression proves to be a masterstroke of music-making. As the former frontman of the revered Beta Band, Mason is no stranger to experimenting around the fringes of pop, dub, dance and folk (as heard on Smith’s Something for the Weekend CD series). Boys Outside is his best solo work so far. For all its sombre subject matter, each song is lifted by a shimmering electronic soul sound which floats above Mason’s delicate guitar and piano on a bed of dubbed-out electro pulses. It’s sad but rivetingly beautiful and instantly captivating. A record that’s sure to be championed as an under-appreciated classic in years to come.

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We ask the questions: Q&A with Luxury Travel editor, Alyson Cook

Luxury Travel Editor Alyson TaylorCredit crunch, schmedit crunch… what we all need during January’s bleaker moments is a bit of holiday escapism. So we quizzed editor of Luxury Travel magazine Alyson Cook about the highs and lows of luxury, and asked her for some luxe-for-less tips to make your budget go further

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Define ‘luxury’…
Luxury for me is the chance to relax and hide away in a hotel incognito; unrecognised by an enthusiastic general manager keen to impress me with his latest, luxury suite tour! I love my job and I have been privileged to stay at some amazing places, but I also guard my privacy with the family – the chance to be with them, undisturbed, in a sunny location, preferably with a good book in one hand and a glass of fine white wine in the other, is my ideal relaxation.

Top 10: the best hotel bathrooms

Wow-inducing bathrooms have become as important as seductive boudoirs at the hotels Mr & Mrs Smith visit, and they’re a great opportunity to showcase imaginative design. Double sinks, or even double baths create a glamorous boutique-hotel feel, glass-enclosed wet-room-style showers and baths with a view add drama. Beautiful materials and different textures, from stone tiling to special towels, creates interest. Otherwise attention to detail gives bathrooms more personality, whether it’s an extravagant mirror or beautiful antique chair. Zero clutter, plumbing that really works, adjustable lighting, enough hooks to hang your towels, and even the odd technological flourish are all factors that can turn a good hotel into a great one.

Without further ado, allow us to present, in no particular order, our run-down of the best hotel bathrooms on the great green earth. Hold on to your shower caps…

Huvafen Fushi, Maldives luxury resort

Top 10: Honeymoon Destinations

Let our destination inspiration whet your wanderlust and provide a guide to the most romantic cities, idyllic islands and wilderness escapes. Lucy Fennings rounds up a worldwide hot-list of honeymoon destinations…