Month: January 2020

Dylan Essertier, Travel Writer + Entrepreneur

Dylan has pretty much come full circle. Starting her career in training and development, she got itchy feet and followed an opportunity to pursue travel writing in Dubai. There, Dylan had the enviable job as Culture Editor for lifestyle magazine Savoir Flair, where she traveled the world to report on the latest luxury hospitality and fashion trends. As a writer, she has contributed to the likes of Vogue, WSJ and Conde Nast Traveler, and now runs a travel coaching business dedicated to helping people build better lives through their travels. She’s been almost everywhere, so we’ve swiftly added her epic hotels picks to our ‘must visit’ list.

Follow Dylan at @dylangracetravels

Name 3 favorite hotels, anywhere, off the top of your head?

An image of Alila Jabal Akhadar Oman hotel
  • Alila Jabal Akhdar Oman: Alila Jabal Akhdar sits on the edge of a cliff in Oman’s Al Hajar mountain range (think: The Grand Canyon of the Middle East). The hotel is designed after a traditional Omani fort and has a heated infinity pool that looks over one of the most stunning views I’ve ever seen. Oh, and in the spring months, the entire Al Hajar mountainside blooms with beautiful roses. It’s beyond dreamy.
  • Sujan Rajmahal Palace: This Jaipur hotel feels like a Wes Anderson movie come to life! Communal rooms are painted in bright shades of fuschia, cobalt, gold, and jade. Did I mention there are 43 custom wallpapers throughout the property? Each of which tells a different story about Jaipur’s fascinating and regal history.
  • Cheval Blanc Randheli, Maldives: Maldives luxury at its finest. Elegance is the name of the game at this gorgeous property, which was designed by renowned architect Jean-Michel Gathy, the man behind many of the Aman resorts around the world. 
Dylan, the travel writer, writing about her experiences in the island of Bora Bora

What is the best hotel amenity you’ve ever encountered?

An on-demand champagne button at The Baccarat Hotel.

Where would you go for a digital detox or just generally to get off the grid?

I really value the power of alone time to regroup and regain perspective.  Some of my favorite off the grid experiences have included spending a month living in a cabin in Temecula, California, writing. A silent meditation retreat in New Hampshire (challenging but valuable!). And 10 days in southern India at an Aruvyedic center.

You travel a lot for work…was this something you were seeking in a career? If so, how did you go about designing your career life to include so much travel, and how do you make it as relaxing and fun as possible?

I started my career working in Human Resources in Training and Development. Just before I turned 25, I was restless. I enjoyed my work and helping employees build confidence, but I had always dreamt of traveling the world and becoming a writer. So, when I got an opportunity to move to the Middle East and write, I took it. I spent six years working as a Culture Editor in Dubai, traveling the world to report on the latest luxury hospitality trends. Today, I’m lucky enough to combine my travel expertise with my background in personal development to run my own Travel Coaching business, which is dedicated to helping people build better lives through their travels. I love to travel knowing that once I get back I can share these amazing experiences both through my travel writing and the trips I plan for my clients.

What do you always bring with you in your carry-on?

Lavender essential oil! It calms me.

Have you or would you travel alone? If Y/N, why?

I travel alone constantly for my travel writing assignments. I love it.

Travel can be about the little luxuries…like a super amazing cup of coffee. Where was the best one you’ve had?

I have celiac so anytime a property goes above and beyond to make sure there is a gluten-free treat in my room…it stands out! The Kimpton Seafire resort in the Cayman Islands had a bowl of warm gluten-free chocolate cookies waiting for me when I arrived that I still remember to this day. Can you tell I have a sweet tooth?

What’s your go-to outfit for getting through security quickly, and still looking good?

My plane uniform includes a pair of silk pants I had made in India, sneakers, a soft top, and a black oversized blazer. 

If you could quit your job and follow the “Mamma Mia” dream (ie open a small hotel in a foreign land or on a remote island), where would you do it?

I love this question! I would absolutely co-run it with my mom, who is also a travel fanatic. I would say either in Sri Lanka or a remote seaside town somewhere in Italy.

Travel writer, Dylan, in Agra

Beach or City or Mountain?


In-flight wifi- good idea: yes or no?


Fantasy mini bar/fridge item?

Gluten-free Boston cream pie cake.

Favorite subscription service you’ll never delete?


In-flight cocktail – Y/N? What kind?

Yes – champagne

Favorite travel app

Not technically a travel app but Moodpath – it tracks your moods. I’m always curious about how travel impacts my brain and moods.


Relatively small for a capital, Dublin squeezes an awful lot in. Yes, there are a lot of pubs, and yes they have drinks flowing and toe-tapping traditional music any night of the week, and while pubs are certainly part of the social lifeblood of the Irish capital, there’s more than just Guinness to this ever-evolving city.

The influx of tech giants of late (Google, we mean you) and an economy back on its feet after a financial crisis mean that the city is open for business. Global influence and access to great produce mean there’s no shortage of amazing restaurants – booking is advisable. It’s also steeped in history and culture  – galleries, museums and street names tell stories of the artists, writers, and musicians that give Ireland its stellar cultural reputation.

The city is easy to navigate, and with tons of boutique hotels popping up annually, we feel justified in having it on our list of where to go this spring.

Where to stay

The Dean
Dublin is synonymous with gorgeous Georgian terraces, and The Dean part of one of them, albeit painted black rather than traditional red brick. The retro, moody vibe carries through to the interior and design is everything in this hotel – right down to the specially-commissioned Irish art on every wall. The view from the rooftop restaurant, Sophies, is worth a stay in itself.

The Shelbourne Hotel
This grand hotel is opulent and truly historic, but don’t let that put you off – service, tradition, and comfort make this spot hard to leave. If you do, the famed St Stephen’s Green is outside your door, making you feel like you’re in total serenity, despite being moments from Dublin’s Grafton Street. The food here is great, but the nearby Cliff Townhouse is the best for fresh, local fish.

The Shelbourne Hotel

Wilder Townhouse
Named after one of the city’s most famed writers, Oscar Wilde, this red brick bolthole is in a quiet part of the city – but a stone’s throw from the bustling Temple Bar, so best of both worlds. Rooms are individually decorated, and it feels as though every piece of furniture was custom made. The residents-only Gin & Tea Rooms is the perfect setting for a expertly-made gin cocktail, or indeed a tea. Gin for us please (when in Rome etc.).

Where to drink 

A classic (but not cheesy) Irish pub: dark inside, stained-glass windows and full of regulars – you may even see a famous face or two.

P. Mac’s
Tip: go here on an afternoon when you just want to escape the world a bit. The place is entirely candle-lit, the staff are ‘sound’ (as they say here), and the selection of beers and cocktails is bang on. They do food too, and while it seems.. random.. it’s actually delish. There’s something quite special about this place, in our opinion.

Vintage Cocktail Club
A speakeasy-style bar with an impossible-to-find entrance and some of the most inventive (but tasty) cocktails we’ve come across.

Vintage Cocktail Club

Where to eat

They specialize in ‘Japas’ (Japanese-Tapas..) but don’t let the made-up words put you off. This (always lively) spot and its nearby sake bar feels like a big pub that was renovated into a restaurant-come-cocktail bar, complete with a secret club downstairs. Order some black rice sushi and a delicious Old Fashioned and settle in for the night.


Epic pasta dishes (none of which cost more than €10) made with Irish ingredients, plentiful veggie options, and wine on tap. Enough said.

Perfect to meet a client, a friend, or dine solo – think bright exterior, fresh salads, and delicious coffee and cakes.

Where to get coffee 

Clement and Pekoe
These guys are coffee (and tea) fanatics. It’s also one of those great spots to sit outside and watch Dublin saunter by.

This isn’t so much about the coffee itself, but don’t walk down Grafton Steet without dropping into this Dublin institution. It opened in 1927, it has an incredible mosaic facade, Harry Clarke stained-glass windows, and open fireplaces inside. Just go, you’ll see what we mean.

Opened only a few years ago by a World Barista finalist, the coffee comes from their own roastery – and it’s great.

Where to workout 

One of the most serene studios we’ve ever set foot in, Reformation offers excellent yoga, Reformer Pilates, and even a run club. It also conveniently has 40-minute lunchtime classes almost every day.

Perpetua Fitness
A slick, hip location with spin, HIIT, Crossfit, and a regular gym too. You can join as a member, but if you’re only in town a few days, just pay per class.

The Space Between
This recently-opened studio is conveniently located on Fenian Street, right in the city center, but feels worlds away. It’s dog-friendly, offers yoga classes, art exhibitions, talks, and workshops and is one of the most stylish studios in the city.

Where to shop 

Avoca is a Irish-owned handweavers, stocking so much more than scarves. The fashion, jewelry, ceramics, and even food make it very challenging to leave here empty-handed.

Margaret O’Rourke’s jewelry is well-crated, delicate and influenced by her travels and the night sky.


Homeware that’s ‘everything from the practical to the whimsical’ is sold here. Article specializes in tableware – we adore the eclectic placemat selection.


What to do

Guinness Storehouse
So, it’s taken us this long to mention ‘the black stuff’. Tour the original brewery, ending up in a 360-degree bar with epic views of the city.

Irish Museum of Modern Art
Based at a former historic hospital, the IMMA hosts a brilliant range of contemporary art including works by Marina Abramović and Louise Bourgeois – as well as Irish artists. Spend a full day if you can, the onside Freud Centre and the surrounding gardens are impressive, to say the least.

The Irish Museum of Modern Art

Where to vacation this spring

OK, we’ve survived January and February, we’re rewarding ourselves with some vacation planning. Whether it’s beach vibes or a city break, we’ve got you covered from March through May – with the best hotel recs, of course. Here is our definitive list of where to book, stay and play this spring.


Beach: Todos Santos is no longer Mexico’s best-kept secret: tourists are flocking to this artsy, sleepy, ‘magical’ town in Baja California Sur. All the more reason to visit off-season, when temperatures tend to be between 81°F to 83°F at this time of year: warm enough to swim, surf, and drink copious mezcal margaritas (to cool down, of course). Stay at Hotel San Cristóbal (pictured above), our insider (and Vogue writer) Christina Pérez thinks it’s pretty darn great.

A busy street in Todos Santos, Mexico, with flags and market stalls.
Todos Santos, Mexico

City: Dublin, for St Patrick’s Day? How predictable. Go later in March, beat the tourists, and spend a few days in the city getting to know the pubs Temple Bar, where you’ll find live music all year round. The Shelbourne Hotel is right in the middle of the city and steeped in history (the Irish Constitution was drafted here) – it’s also a few steps from the Cliff Townhouse, our shout for oysters and champagne  – if you’re not into Guinness.

A street in Temple Bar, Dublin with pubs and flowers.
Temple Bar, Dublin

And for something a little different: Squeeze in some skiing before the season ends or just amble around art galleries and breweries with a trip to Manchester, Vermont. Book into the charming Kimpton Taconic Hotel.

Kimpton Taconic Hotel in Manachester.
Kimpton Taconic Hotel, Manchester


Beach: Sicily is best visited in April, trust us. You’ll get warm temperatures without the sweltering–  sometimes oppressive –  June/July heat, meaning you can wander around hilly Taormina and bustling Palermo without breaking too much of a sweat. Sicily is steeped in cultural influences (Italien, Roman, Arab..) and the island truly has it all: amazing food (we recommend daily granita), incredible beaches and plentiful piazzas for people watching. Our shout? The Belmond Grand Hotel Timeo is truly special and has epic views over the active volcano, Mount Etna.

An arial view of Taormina commune in Sicily.
Belmond Grand Hotel Timeo, Taormina

City: Call us crazy, or just hedonistic, but we have Las Vegas on our list for April. Stay at the Nobu Hotel at Caesars Palace: it’s chic, small (by Vegas standards) and the food is awesome, it’s also right on the strip. Vegas isn’t just casinos and Celine Dion: art lovers should take themselves on a tour of hotel lobbies. No, really – see original work Damien Hirst and Jean-Michel Basquiat in the lobby of the Palms Casino Resort and by Takashi Murakami at the Wynn Hotel, to name a few.

The lobby of Nobu Hotel at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.
Nobu Hotel at Caesars Palace

And for something a little different: Arles in the South of France. If it’s good enough for Vincent Van Gogh, we’ll give it a try. The seasonal L’Hôtel Particulier reopens in April –  be the first in the door.

A small stree with nearby apartments in the city of Arles, South of France.
Arles, France


Beach: May is the perfect month for the ultimate US road trip and our first stop is Charleston, South Carolina. It’s got year-round good weather, incredible beaches, and truly some of the most charming hotels we’ve ever seen. Check in to 86 Cannon or the peachy-orange Elliott House Inn. Tip: the food is excellent in SC – don’t leave Charleston without trying some damn good barbecue.

The peachy-orange Elliott House Hotel in Charleston.
Elliott House Inn, Charleston

City: Make like Megan and see what all the fuss is about in Vancouver (#Megxit). Go in May to take full advantage of being in a bustling cosmopolitan city that’s surrounded by nature: the blossoming trees and copious greenery just makes us feel good. Stay at the Loden – it’s well-located downtown, great for business and leisure travelers alike and has in-room yoga mats. Namaste.

A room view of Loden Hotel in Vancouver.
Loden Hotel, Vancouver

And for something a little different: Vilnius, Lithuania’s capital, is like stepping into a medieval history book and is an architecture lover’s dream. Stay at Hotel PACAI.

City view of Vilnius, Lithuania's capital during sunset time.
Vilnius, Lithuania

Five eco-friendly travel must-haves for your carry-on

We’re all about travel (obviously). It’s mind-expanding and eye-opening. It allows us to see the world, experience other cultures and enriches our daily lives. On the other hand, there’s no getting around the fact that air travel increasingly contributes more and more to harmful emissions – a round trip from New York to California generates 20% of the greenhouse gases that a car emits over a year.

While an obvious way to help is to simply travel less, this isn’t always possible, especially for today’s mobile workforce. Start with your travel essentials. Here are five eco-conscious, insider-recommended items to add to your carry-on this month.

Boundless Solid Oil – 8Faces, $88

We love a solid oil: leaves more space for liquids in our clear plastic bag (eye roll, but we get it). Safara Insider and contributor to Vogue, Departures and Gossamer, Christina Perez, recommended this one – it melts and absorbs instantly.

Boundless Solid Oil by 8Faces is a must have travel essential.

Flip flops – Tidal New York, $30

Ethically, sustainably and locally made in New York in a low waste factory, these flip flops are also comfy and exceptionally durable. We heard about these beauties from Sophia Li, journalist, film director and self-professed eco-daughter.

Comfy and durable Flip flops by Tidal New York are a must travel carry-on.

Dopp Kit  – By Humankind, from $30

Committed to reducing single-use plastic, By Humankind have personal care products that actually work. Start with their Dopp Kit for travel, which you can customize with a choice of products.

Tea Tree Oil – Disciple Skincare, £12

This strong but tiny product is Safara co-founder Maya‘s travel essential: Tea tree, Maya says, “is an all-rounder: from an antiseptic for blemishes and cuts, to a natural bug repellent, to a cuticle fix, to a few drops in the bath for some anti-inflammatory R&R –  this is a must for any flight.”

A travel must item for any fight is the tee tree oil by Disciple Skincare.

Reef-safe Sunscreen – Raw Love, from $16.99

Created in Maui by divemaster and SNUBA instructor, Jenna Davis, this sunscreen is eco-friendly, reef-friendly, biodegradable and water-resistant.

Eco-friendly sunscreen travel essential from Raw Love.

Naomi Walkland, Associate Director for EMEA Marketing at Bumble

Naomi is someone who really makes us wish we had more hours in the day. As a senior marketer for global dating app Bumble, she’s always on the road, but still finds time for causes close to her heart — namely, female empowerment: she launched her panel and dinner series The Power of Quitting in 2017, which brought together female executives (including Forbes 30 under 30 Insider Babba Rivera and our Co-founder, Maya).

We chat with her about her favorite place to chill, her work travel hacks, and her ultimate airport look. Follow her updates at @naomiwalkland

Name your three favourite hotels?

  • Soho Farmhouse, Oxfordshire: I got married there and it’s my husband and I’s go-to romantic spot.
  • Royal Senchi, Ghana: It’s where my family spends Christmas every other year. It’s so serene and in the midst of nature, overlooking the Volta River. 
  • Chateau Carbonneau: We booked this three years ago for a wedding trip, and fell in love with it. We’ve been back every year since. It’s a chic B&B in a 19th-century castle with charming rooms and it’s own vineyard. They produce amazing wines!
Royal Senchi, Ghana

What are your favorite “offices” while traveling?

Soho House is my go-to “office” while traveling.

Where would you go for a digital detox or just generally to get off the grid?

North Yorkshire. My husband is from North Yorkshire and it’s the place where we both switch off and enjoy the beautiful scenery, long walks, and in the winter evenings by the fire. It also helps that I have limited/no signal at my in-law’s home.

You travel a lot for work…was this something you were seeking in a career? If so, how did you go about designing your career life to include so much travel, and how do you make it as relaxing and fun as possible?

As the Associate Director for EMEA Marketing at Bumble, I travel a lot as I oversee a number of markets. I feel incredibly lucky that my job allows me to visit beautiful cities.  Every time I travel, I always allow myself an hour to walk around the city, grab a coffee, and pop into a few shops first. This ensures that I have some “relaxation” time. 

What 3 songs are on your OOO playlist?

  • The Weekend – Funk Wax Remix by SZA and Calvin Harris 
  • Happens – Sampha 
  • Nights Like This – Kehlani & Ty Dolla Sign

What do you always bring with you in your carry-on?

Bose noise-canceling headphones, whatever book I’m reading (currently My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite), and a portable charger.

Do you have any tips or tricks for beating the dreaded jet lag?

  • Drink lots of water ahead of the flight and during the flight. 
  • Do a workout as soon as you land whether at the hotel, local studio (I always go to Soul Cycle), run around the neighborhood, or an exercise routine in your hotel room. 
  • Aim to go to bed as late as you can when you land so you can adjust to the local time. 
  • Stick to the local time throughout. It is very easy to keep looking at the local time and your time back at home but this makes it harder to adjust.

What’s your go-to outfit for getting through security quickly, and still looking good?

ADAY throw and roll leggings, grey cashmere jumper, and Superga trainers.

Beach or City or Mountain?


Early check-in/ late check-out?

Early check-in

 Yoga or hotel gym?

Hotel gym 

Where to go for a last-minute weekend break in January

We get it, Christmas is a lot. Or maybe you’re still nursing a NYE hangover. Either way, January means one thing: a mini-break. And yes, you deserve it. Note to our Stateside readers, you’ve even got a perfectly-positioned day off on 20 January for Martin Luthor King Day.

We’re making it easy for you too: whether you’re based on EST, PST or GMT— here is our pick of destinations, hotels and hot spots for that well-earned January break.

From New York City

The Hudson Valley and the epic Catskill Mountains are easily accessible by NY city-slickers by car or train. Kingston is being touted as a new creative hub in upstate New York, and the newly-renovated Hotel Kinsley should be top of your list for a place to lay your hat.

If something more remote is required, head to the Deer Mountain Inn in Tannersville – the country house vibes and Michelin-starred restaurant make it difficult to leave, but there are hikes aplenty if you do venture out.

Deer Mountain Inn

We know, Miami is a bit, well, Miami. But it is only three hours flight from New York City and has a thriving art, culture and fashion scene. Book a room at Casa Faena or the Edition Miami Beach – both have all the good vibes you need (and Edition’s tagline is “stay and play”). See our Miami City Guide for more.

Based in New York City but don’t feel like moving too far? Treat yourself and check into the Gramercy Park Hotel for a night or two. It has the perfect East Side location for great bars and nightlife, but also gives guests access to thew city’s only private park. Cue feeling very fancy and special.

Gramercy Park

From LA

Assuming you don’t already live there, or even if you do, Malibu is an ideal spot for a weekend jaunt. The weather is perfect for beach walks, mountain hikes or vinyard tours. Stay at the enviable Calamigos Ranch, which has access to all these things from your front door.

For something a little more off-the-beaten-track, venture further north to Ojai, which is equal parts eclectic, artistic and delicious (the area’s microclimate means that seemingly everything grows here). Stay at the hacienda-style Ojai Valley Inn for the most incredible setting (on 220 acres) and everything from golf to tennis and even an on-site apothecary.

Ojai Valley Inn

For the ultimate LA staycay, check in to West Hollywood‘s Petit Ermitage for a bohemian home away from home, or the famed Hotel Figueroa in Downtown LA.

From London

For a trip to the coast with a dash of culture, try Margate or Deal. Formally sleepy seaside towns, both are now touted as faves by busy millenials trying to get out of London for a weekend. Here’s a plan, do both in one Kent roadtrip. Check into The Rose in Deal, a former pub with buckets of charm and beautiful rooms. Drive to Margate to visit the Turner Contemporary and see the Turner Prize winners before the exhibition ends at the end of the month.

The Rose, Deal

The Cotswolds check every box when it comes to manor houses with outdoors-y vibes and cozy fireside drinks. The Cowley Manor in Cheltenham has all that and more across its 31 unique (and quite funky) bedrooms and on-site, award-winning spa.

Cowley Manor

For something further afield, Marrakech is only a 3.5 hour flight from London, and has pretty decent weather in January (often upwards of 20C) without being sunburn-inducing. It’s also less touristy this time of year, making wandering around the bountiful souks and shops more pleasant. We adore El Fenn: it’s moments from the main square but like many of the riads, it is peaceful and calm and has furniture you’ll want to bring home with you.

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