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Archive - Our Man on The Ground

Fez: Inside The Medina Walls

“We have old things to see. And then we have very old things and even older things to see.” Thus speaks the man who has asked me to call him ‘Sammy’, claiming that he looks like Sammy Davis Junior. His real name is Abdulilah Sussi. He’s my guide here in Fez, by the Atlas Mountains in Morocco. As Fez is a place with a medina with 10,000 labyrinthine alleyways, a guide is essential.

Our Man on The Ground, 21/10/2017

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We Fall In Love With Hotel Seven One Seven In Amsterdam

You may see Dannii Minogue if you stay there. Or perhaps the famous Dutch film director, Jan de Bont of Twister renown. Welcome to Sevon One Seven, the first and only boutique hotel in the Netherlands when it opened two decades ago. And still, arguably, the best.

Our Man on The Ground, 10/04/2017

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Get Lean, Lithe And Puma-fit At Target Fitness Retreats

Tabata? Burpees? Pad work? Double Dutch to me. But, hell, I'm about to find out what these are. I'm on a Target Human Performance fitness holiday - if doing five hours' exercise a day can be called a 'holiday'. I'm here for a five-day 'get fit fast' retreat. A so-called health, fitness and wellness break.

Our Man on The Ground, 06/04/2017

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Amaveda Detox Retreat

Anyone for Abhyanga in East Sussex? Or perhaps a little Charshana? Or maybe some Panchakarma? In other words, anyone for “dry brushing of the body”, “self-oiling” or “the yogic system of detoxification”. I’m easing myself into a gentle detox. I’m not existing on gulps of air or sips of lemon water. Or even colonics. But rather on Ayurvedic practices, mindfully cooked food, yoga and oodles of downtime. I’m on an Amaveda Detox.

Our Man on The Ground, 29/02/2016

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Bohème Villa in Somerset

There’s little outside Bohème – with its working farm buildings and agricultural machinery – to indicate how cool it is inside. But open the vast barn doors – the keypad is a clue that this is no normal farm building, Sherlock – and suddenly you’re in a wonder world near Stawley, Somerset. It’s a blend of 16th century former dairy farm turned cider press that is now an exclusive self-catering rental property. A sanctuary where original features (says my mum) stand alongside stylish contemporary touches. And where you can have fun, fun, fun – even with your parents there.

Our Man on The Ground, 04/01/2016

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QMS Skincare popup at Liberty, London

If you're tired of Christmas shopping and longing to be pampered, hotfoot it to the QMS Skincare Spa pop up in Liberty, London. The treatment rooms are on the first floor, a hidden world (think The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe) behind a door at the rear of the shoe department. Boasting a gently clinical vibe and classical music, the rooms are simple and white-on-white – with white-clad therapists who look after you beautifully. (A hand and shoulder massage comes with the facial.)

Our Man on The Ground, 11/12/2015

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Uspaah – the personal spa concierge for those too busy to visit a spa

Don’t want to leave your hotel room? Want something special in your office? Or don’t want to have to drive home from the spa after a relaxing massage? Can’t be bothered to get your pedi done in the nail bar down the road? Like to do a his and hers spa chez vous? Then USPAAH is your new personal spa concierge, bringing a spa to your door. It’s a new app that offers high-end beauty treatments from ‘spaahristas’ – think tip-top mobile beauticians – who arrive Uber-style at a tap of your finger and within the hour.

Our Man on The Ground, 25/10/2015

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Ham Yard Hotel

Tim and Kit Kemp have recently created their eighth London hotel, Ham Yard. And it’s barmy – in the nicest possible way – with décor that’s stylishly zany and elegantly nuts.

Our Man on The Ground, 30/06/2015

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The Potting Shed

The Royal Triangle is like a sort of reverse Bermuda Triangle – so instead of aircraft and ships disappearing under suspicious circumstances, tasteful Highgrove daisy grubbers, maple-handled planting trowels, traditional Sussex trugs in which to collect your earthy organic carrots and wooden apple crates simply appear. Just like that. And everything is painted that sautéed sage colour. It’s like living in the brain of Lady Bamford of Daylesford fame, the high priestess of this sort of aesthetic.

Our Man on The Ground, 18/08/2014

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The Restaurant at Cowley Manor

The Elder Daughter and I arrive an hour late – after driving into several hedges. The satnav doesn’t like the idea of going there and keeps ordering us imperiously to “perform a U-turn when possible” on roads the size of my little finger. When we get mobile reception – which isn’t often – we call to say we’re running late. Which might be as good a way as any to alert the staff to our table reservation. Wrong.

Our Man on The Ground, 18/07/2014

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Cliveden, the stately-home hotel is once again a top destination for the discerning traveller.

Especially since the arrival there at the end of 2013 of an excellent eponymous restaurant by André Garrett (please click here for full review). Plus the hotel has become super-appealing with its just opened, newly refurbished East Wing – the first stage of restoration of the principal bedrooms. Even the staff seem different – gone is their stiffness, replaced by making the visitor feel like a treasured house guest.

Our Man on The Ground, 25/05/2014

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So to Cliveden and its eponymous new restaurant by André Garrett, formerly head chef at Galvin at Windows.

Under the Livingstone brothers, the new owners, the dining space has been moved from its humiliating basement home to the ground floor overlooking the Parterre – traditional gardens with formal beds, box hedging and yew topiary. Beyond that, as far as the eye can see is an unadulterated 19th century country view, not a house in sight, and the distant mist rising from the Thames.

Our Man on The Ground, 25/05/2014

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