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The Polka Dot Travel Lounge – Erin From Travel With Bender

by | Destinations, Honeymoons, Polka Dot Travel Lounge


Bec Lawrence

Travel Lounge Erin

Today we are sitting back and taking some advice from one of the most well regarded family travel blogs – Travel with Bender. Erin has been travelling with her husband and two kids for the last four years non-stop. If that’s not enough the family have travelled to more than 65 countries, run a blog and several social media accounts as well as help other families plan their own holidays.  Their Instagram account is enough to make you want to pack your bags and say “adios” to the typical nine to five and take on the world. Erin has given us some tips on the perfect romantic getaway; come along with us and see what she had to say.

What is your favourite region?

Choosing a favourite region is hard. We have loved most places we have visited from South East Asia to Europe to North America. I have been to Bali ten times though so I guess that would be a favourite.

Top resort recommendation

I just visited Grand Velas in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico which was incredible. It’s an all-inclusive hotel on the beach, but the food is not your typical all-inclusive. It’s a gastronomic dream with fine dining Italian, Mexican, French and a few more casual options.

I also fell for Villa San Michele in Florence, Italy – it’s a honeymooner’s dream hotel. Can’t go wrong when the sun beds by the pool capture complete views of Florence.


If you are looking closer to home you can’t go past Samabe in Bali. It sits on a cliff and offers picturesque views of the water for photos and your enjoyment. Plus your butler drives you around on a golf cart!


Suggestions for great honeymoon activities

KODAK Action Cam

Seawalking on the bottom of the ocean is a great adventure option for something in Bali. Apres in Banff, Canada is a romantic way to finish a day of skiing, plus you can then have a soak in a hot tub out in the middle of the snow at a place like Hidden Ridge Resort

Hidden Ridge Resort

hot air balloon over Cappadocia at sunrise is delightfully romantic and concludes with a champagne toast on landing.


But if you are like me you may prefer to spend most of the time at your hotel. So spend your money on that. Get a resort which includes some great free activities, like kayaking, walks on the beach and  perhaps even a special dinner right on the beach with gentle waves lapping your feet.

The ideal location for a proposal

For me nothing can take away from the beach. My husband had the opportunity to propose in Paris at the Eiffel Tower. A simple walk on a white sand beach with transparent blue water and I am in heaven.

You can do that close at home in Langkawi, Malaysia or Bali or go further a field and head to the warm waters of the Caribbean. Consider taking a Caribbean cruise and planning the proposal on any number of incredible beaches in the middle of the ocean.

Best kept secret honeymoon location

Many people flock to the Greek islands for a honeymoon. I would consider this a great option, but skip Santorini and head to a smaller, more romantic island. Smaller islands like Sifnos and Kythnos have less tourists, but have the same gorgeous white and blue buildings, same great food and same sparkling waters. Grab a sweet B&B for an authentic Greek experience.


Alternatively ever thought of Belize? They have the world’s second largest barrier reef right after our own and the main mode of transport around the island is golf cart. Try a stay at Xanadu Island Resort and take a bicycle ride down the beach or go snorkelling with sharks.


All images via Erin from Travel With Bender

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Ms Chinoiserie Says: A stunning villa in Florence and hot air ballooning in Turkey sound amazing – I’m booking my air tickets now!

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Honeymoons A-Z: Langkawi

by | Honeymoons, Honeymoons A-Z, Location Asia


Samantha Chua


Image via The Andaman, Langkawi

Off the coast of Kedah, Malaysia is Langkawi, a cluster of 99 islands offering azure water, mangroves rich in flora and fauna, ultra-cheap duty-free shopping and fascinating legends. Langkawi has a lingering legend woven into its history: the tragic story of a beautiful young lady named Mahsuri who was caught in a tale of love, jealousy and a curse that was placed upon the island by her for seven generations. Today, the seventh generation of Langkawi’s inhabitants has long come and gone and the island has developed into a popular tourist destination. The tropical island is one of the best experiences of idyllic rural Malaysia, with traditional villages and a laid-back vibe for honeymooners.

5 Places to Stay:

1. The Andaman, Langkawi
Tucked away inbetween the ancient rainforest and the tranquil Datai Bay is The Andaman. The 178 rooms are the definition of luxury – Malay-inspired architecture, furnishings and fixtures, private balconies offering views of the jungle or ocean, a bathroom with a large tub and glass-enclosed rainforest shower.


Image via The Andaman, Langkawi

2. The Datai, Langkawi
Honeymooners looking to get away from the touristy spots of Langkawi will be delighted in The Datai, Langkawi. Reachable via a long winding road, this sprawling five-star luxury hotel is tucked away 20 kilometres west of Kuah. The iconic Langkawi hotel offers a total of 124 secluded villas set on paths leading down to a private beach. Each room is decorated in polished dark wood floors and heavy Balinese-style furniture. The Datai offers a ‘Romance’ package for honeymooners who can enjoy a relaxing massage at the on-site Datai Spa followed by a romantic dinner.


Image via The Datai, Langkawi

3. Berjaya Langkawi Resort
Despite being one of the region’s most luxurious hotels, Berjaya Langkawi Resort exudes a friendly and casual vibe. Spread across 70 hectares, the property is made up of 370 contemporary chalets set over-the-water or tucked away within the lush jungle. Most units offer direct, picture postcard views of the Andaman Sea or lush rainforest.



Images via Berjaya Langkawi Resort

4. Casa del Mar
A slice of the Mediterranean in tropical Langkawi, Casa del Mar is the perfect romantic retreat for couples who would still like to experience all the action on the busy Pantai Cenang strip. The 34-room resort is an oasis for couples to indulge in personalised yet unobtrusive service. Visit the La Sal Restaurant to enjoy a satisfying Mediterranean cuisine, seafood BBQ and Asian samplers. Sit inside the restaurant with interiors recreated to the splendour of a Spanish winery, or dine al fresco at the beachside while watching the sunset.


Image via Casa del Mar

5. Meritus Pelangi Langkawi
Spanning across 35 acres and offering 51 exclusive single and double-story timber chalets on stilts, Meritus Pelangi Beach Resort Langkawi is designed to resemble a traditional Malay village. Each chalet has an open-air veranda and sloping roof with exposed roof tiles and trusses for a luxurious experience. The interior is richly decorated with natural textile carpet panels and flower motifs. Enjoy a cocktail on the private beach or dine in the resort’s vibrant eateries; there is no need to venture out of this tropical paradise.


Image via Meritus Pelangi Langkawi

5 Places to Visit:

1. Tanjung Rhu Beach
Tanjung Rhu is undoubtedly one of Langkawi’s best shorelines. The waters are clear as crystal and the sand is powder-fine. The area is absolutely secluded and is beautifully silent and peaceful. Take in the view of magnificent limestone crags and enjoy the gorgeously breathtaking scenery.

2. Telaga Tujuh Waterfall
Known as the “Seven Wells” in English, Telaga Tujuh is located around 45 kilometres away from Kuah Town. The beautifully crafted geological formation is a natural wonder. The waterfalls derived their name from the plunging waters that cascade down into a series of seven pools. Legend has it that the water of these pools have healing powers.

3. Langkawi Sky Bridge
Definitely not one for those afraid of heights, the Langkawi Sky Bridge offers an unforgettable experience and breathtaking views of lush mountains and the turquoise Andaman sea. The curved suspension bridge made of steel hangs at an altitude of about 700 metres from sea level and is supported by a single pylon in the middle.


Image via Langkawi Info

4. Langkawi Cable Car
Enjoy stunning views of the Langkawi 700 metres above sea level from the Langkawi Cable Car. Soak up the beautiful views of Mountain Machinchang and enjoy the breathtaking views of the hillside flora, waterfalls and the occasional glimpses of the wildlife and birds.


Image via Langkawi Info

5. Laman Padi Langkawi – Rice Garden & Museum
For those searching for a truly laid-back island vibe, Laman Padi Langkawi (Langkawi Rice Garden and Museum) is the perfect place to spend the afternoon. The viewing gallery offers breathtaking views of a lush, multi-tiered rooftop rice garden. Visitors can even try their hands at rice farming.

5 Things to Do:

1. Sunset Dinner Cruise
There’s no better way to spend an evening on a tropical island than a sunset dinner cruise. Explore the surrounding Langkawi islands as you watch the sky turn different hues of orange and purple, while you sip a drink on the open-air deck of a yacht. Naam Cruise Langkawi offers private and shared sunset dinner cruises, perfect for a romantic evening.


Image via NAAM

2. Massage and Spa
Indulge in a traditional Malay massage or Indian ayurvedic treatments at one of the many massage and spa centres on the island. For a truly relaxing experience, Ishan Spa, located in a hillside forest offers authentic Malaysian spa massages and treatments. Set in lush greenery, enjoy wonderful views of the rainforest through the glass panes as you experience your massage.


Image via Ishan Spa

3. Mangrove Tour in Kilim Geopark
Spread over an area of 100 square kilometres, Kilim Nature Park features a beautiful mix of well-protected green mangrove forests. Enjoy the spectacular views of unique limestone rock formations emerging from the floor of the mangrove swamp and seabed.

4. Jet Ski Island Tour
For lovers of water sport, explore the island of Dayang Bunting (Pregnant Maiden) on a jet ski. Zip through the clear turquoise water towards the second largest island within the Langkawi archipelago as you feel the cool sea breeze brushing your face. Legend claims that the fresh water lake on the island bestows fertility. Explore the many attractions on the island or take a dip in the lake.


Image via Mega Water Sports

5. Relax in Air Hangat Village – Natural Salt Water Jacuzzi
Although the hot and humid climate in Langkawi may not make for the perfect weather for a dip in the hot springs, Air Hangat Village is still worth a visit for its rare natural salt water hot springs. Enjoy a relaxing reflexology massage or stroll by the shops selling souvenirs and various trinkets.


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Ms Chinoiserie Says: Such a beautiful tropical paradise; the azure water and pristine beaches make it a must visit on any honeymoon list!

Hotel Academie – Saint Germain

by | Destinations, Honeymoons, Location Europe, Where To Stay


Nicola Goring


Image via Hotel Academie

Ah Paris! The city of love! When thinking about dream places for a honeymoon, it’s likely this beautiful city will be in your Top 10. And if you’re planning a grand European adventure, France can provide the romance (and the cheese!) for the perfect holiday.

To make this process much easier for you, I have the perfect place for you to stay!

With its address placing it firmly in the quintessential Parisian neighbourhood of Saint Germain-des-Pres, Hotel Academie allows easy access to everything you’ll want to see, as well as being on the door stop to winding paths and cobblestone alleys in which to get lost and discover the magic of Paris.



Images via Hotel Academie

The hotel lobby is beautifully finished with natural stone walls and beams, and the plum highlights and heavy drapery add an elegant feel. The rooms are styled  in the same way with stunning French provincial chairs, heavy framed portraits and luxurious bedding.Even though the elements are ornate and traditional in style, there is a gorgeous lightness to the interior which feels instantly cosy and calming.

The bathrooms are spacious and luxurious in white marble, and are stocked well with lovely little toiletries. There is no other way to say it then to suggest the rooms are perfectly French, and absolutely beautiful because of it!


Image via Hotel Academie

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 Rue des Saints-Peres

The hotel itself supplies a lovely buffet breakfast and other items during the day, but being so close to many bakeries, cafes and restaurants makes it very difficult to stay in. One needs only to step out of the hotel to see chocolate shops and florists, and then wander a little further to uncover treasure troves of delicious delights. Les Deux Magots is a very famous restaurant in the area, being frequented by Ernest Hemmingway, Oscar Wilde and others, as well as Cafe De Flore which had Picasso and Sartre as regular patrons. However it won’t take long to wander off the beaten path and make discoveries of your own; discoveries that may delight you more than a well-known tourist spot.

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Rue des Saints-Peres

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Image via Hotel Academie

Saint Germain is known for its book stores, antique shops and small art galleries, and it won’t take long once you leave this hotel to discover a world so Parisian you’ll want to tie a scarf jauntily around your neck and read an old novel on the banks of the Seine.

All of the major galleries and museums are within one kilometre of the hotel, and for the attractions of Paris that are further afield there is an easily accessible Metro station just two streets away. There are numerous outdoor attractions that could hold your attention for days if not weeks, including some of the most beautifully designed gardens you will ever stroll through, hopefully with a baguette in hand!


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All image by Nicola Goring unless otherwise credited

There is nothing better than having a home away from home when travelling, and the Hotel Academie provides a beautiful base camp whilst you discover the tree-lined avenues of this stunning French city. Be sure to listen to some jazz, buy some macarons (if you make it to Champs-Elysees you could even pop into Laduree!) and walk until your legs feel they’re about to fall off. Don’t worry though – you’ve got a beautiful room waiting for you!

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Ms Chinoiserie Says: A beautiful hotel in one of the most beautiful parts of Paris; a fabulous base from which to explore the romance of the City of Love!

About Nicola Goring – I’m Nicola, the florist and crafter behind rubyandjoy. I’m a gardening, fabric loving, mint tea drinking, brownie baking, book obsessed maker! I love a good adventure having just moved back from five years in Scotland (with my lovely Scottish husband).

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