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Travel tales: Pandora Sykes in Colombia, Alice Tate in the Cotswolds and Max Samis in Utah

A few of our favourite globetrotters share moments from their most recent trips.

Amelia Mularz

BY Amelia Mularz31 March 2016

We’re fans of travelling by plane, train, schooner and even bicycle. But when we absolutely can’t get away, we’ll settle for a bit of vicarious voyaging. That’s why we’ve checked in with three fellow hotel lovers: Pandora Sykes, stylish scribe and contributor to The Times, CNN and Marie Claire; Alice Tate, travel writer, PR wiz and the brains behind Flash Anthology; and Max Samis, the founder of Mister Spoils, the daily email subscription with tips on who to follow, where to shop and what to listen to. Read on for more about their latest hotel stays.

Pandora Sykes experiences a sensory circus while staying at Casa San Agustín in Cartagena, Colombia

On arrival, a cool lime ‘mocktail’ is thrust into your hands, and a thankfully brief tour (the staff know that nothing is better than discovering a hotel yourself) reveals an impressive pool snaking around the courtyard. The pool, in a breath-taking historic setting, is set in the shade. Sunbathing is to be done on the small, hibiscus-framed solarium, where just two beds are to be hogged immediately by an English couple in want of a tan, ie me and Mr Smith). The hotel has been sympathetically built within the Centro Historico’s colonial walls, respecting the solid boundaries that pre-date the erection of this gorgeous 30-bed boutique hotel. The wall is dominating, beautifully marbled by a life well-lived. The effect is a swim in a spot that feels protected from the rest of the world, like you are a rare beast. And protected, you are from the hustle and bustle of the colourful Mochila bag-sellers outside the hotel; the men selling mango in sticky plastic packets on street corners; the women in colourful, tiered, ruffled dresses proffering watermelon; the tourists on bicycles (Casa San Agustín has some adorable sets of wheels that you may borrow, though we were a little too hot); from the dry heat of a city going about its day in a salsa dance of colour and noise. Read more at Mr & Mrs Smith…

Alice Tate luxuriates in a disco-sized bathroom at No. 38 The Park in the Cotswolds, UK

At first I’m confused as we’re ushered to one of several open doors on the landing. I assume this is perhaps where the tour continues, but in fact, this beautiful suite, complete with a bath tub at the foot of the bed, is our home for the weekend! In my head I’m doing my happy dance.

I skip around the room in glee, then do the same in the bathroom, in which there is actually room to dance… Host a disco, even. We’ve got his and hers sinks *and* his and hers showers. So over-indulgent, but I have zero complaints. The honeycomb-shaped tiles on the floor and emerald tiles lining the walls make it Pinterest gold, and I’m busy taking visual notes to add to my dream bathroom wishlist.

I’m not even that big on taking baths, but the novelty of having one in the bedroom turns me into a super-fan. Before long, I’m knee deep in bubbles while Mr Smith watches Sky Sports on the TV. It’s s paradise for us both, and it’s just a bonus that it happens to be contained within the same room. Read more…

Max Samis finds his Bond-style lair in Amangiri – an otherworldly escape in Lake Powell, Utah

I’d booked our room at luxury hotel Amangiri a mere 48 hours before arriving, and I couldn’t believe we’d finally hit our destination after a nine-hour, high-speed road trip from Los Angeles through the desert. The Amangiri experience begins the moment you turn off the main road, about two hours outside of a small town in Utah called Hurricane. You’ll probably think you’ve made a wrong turn, but keep going.

We arrived at dusk, in awe of the brilliant shades of purple spreading across the sky and the glowing red rocks that make up an almost fortress-like perimeter across the horizon. Eventually, we came upon a small gate with a metal call-box. I hit the buzzer, and a few moments later the box crackled to life: ‘Hello Mr Smith, we’ve been expecting you,’ said a woman’s voice, ‘please continue up the road into the canyon, past the log cabin’. The gate clicked open.

If I were a Bond villain, Amangiri would be my secret hideout. The massive slabs of concrete wall that make up the majority of the resort feel oddly at home in the vast emptiness of the rocky desert. The centerpiece is a strikingly beautiful pool constructed around a three-story, natural-rock formation that juts out unapologetically into the water. This seamless merging of natural beauty and man-made architecture make Amangiri (which means ‘peaceful mountain’) unlike any other property. Next to the pool is a great room that connects the two wings of guest suites and houses the reception area, dining room and living room. The first thing you’ll notice is the delightful scent of sage, so soothing it makes you want to curl up into a ball and take a nap. Which is okay, because four crackling fireplaces are surrounded by leather sofas and armchairs – an excellent setting for watching the sun slowly set with a glass of wine and some small plates. Read more…