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Meet the team - Europe

For Russia travel advice, extensive knowledge of Italy’s regions, or even expertise on Transylvania, our Europe specialists are well-versed in the region. All have travelled extensively throughout Europe, both under their own steam and on reconnaissance trips to learn more about destinations from the ground up.

So if you wanted to find out the hottest tips for cuisine in San Sebastian, the best hotel in Venice or unmissable historic sites in Seville, our travel consultants will be able to tell you first-hand.

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James

I come from a small village of about 60 people in the Peak District and with a thirst for travel, headed to Australia at 22. I spent a year travelling the length and breadth of the country by road. My next adventure was supposed to be a week in Bangkok, but quickly turned into a six-month voyage through south-east Asia, sampling all the wonderful sights and sounds of the Far East.

It was inevitable I would find myself in the travel industry on my eventual return and I know how lucky I am to combine my passion with my career. I’ve hired out surfboards to tourists in Bali, rode like a gaucho through the hills of Argentina, busked in Laos, skydived in Queensland and, more recently, proposed on the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro..

My Insiders Tip

Tanzania holds a special place in my heart. It has an amazing diversity of wildlife, epic landscapes, a colourful culture, delicious food and some of the friendliest people in the world. To me, it’s the ‘best of Africa’ condensed into a single country. This special country became even more memorable after I got engaged at the summit of a very cold Kilimanjaro; my reward after a week long trek to the top! My recommendation is to rise early, the Big 5 are liveliest from 5am. The light is perfect for photography and the sunrises over the plains alone are well worth the early mornings.

Favourite Experience

I met a chap once in Lumphini Park in Bangkok. As usual I was lost and was asking for directions to The Golden Buddha (nowhere near Lumphini Park). He clearly twigged I had recently arrived and asked if he could accompany me for the day to show me some places. He explained he was studying English and would benefit from my conversation. Despite an initial apprehension I decided the very worst case would be I would find myself in his brother’s suit shop and agreed. I was taken to the suburbs where tourists rarely venture and shown the local temples. He explained the Buddhist culture, their rituals and practices. He introduced me to his friends in the monastery. We prayed a little together. And then he took me home to his wife who made the most amazing fish suki while we got drunk on Thai whisky and swapped tales of our homelands. Not once was money ever asked for. For me that gentleman defines Thailand and its people.

My Favourite Place

For most of the year, Calgary is a sleepy city. The annual Calgary Stampede lasts for two weeks and the city comes alive. As a self-appointed British cowboy, I’ve been several times and it’s my favourite time to visit. Streets are lined with live music, a variety of local cuisine and offices are shut so all can celebrate. You can watch some of the best bull-riding, saddle bronc – the rider has to stay on a bucking horse – and nail-biting barrel racing. Each evening local Canadian music and talent acts perform, which is followed by an impressive firework display.

My Favourite Hotel

My hidden gem is La Maison Minervetta in Sorrento. I’ve always had a passion for Sorrento, and the Maison epitomises everything great about the place. It is set high on the cliffs where you can sit in the comfort of your suite, watching the sun set over the bay of Naples. The hotel is small and cosy with 13 bedrooms, and has a wonderful homely feel – particularly at breakfast where owners and guest mingle over what’s to come in the day ahead. The decor is a mish-mash of traditional and modern art which makes it a stand-out option in Sorrento and the attention to detail, particularly in the rooms, is outstanding. Most importantly, however, it has a wonderful courtyard style decking where you can sit with a spritz in the Italian sunshine and watch the fishing trawlers hard at work in the Bay of Naples, possibly catching something for your dinner.

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Discover Europe

Uncover the culture, heritage, art and beauty found in more than 40 countries and countless cities in Europe.… Read more
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Leah

I have always enjoyed discovering new places on my travels. Romania recently surprised me with the contrast between the picturesque Transylvanian countryside and cosmopolitan Bucharest, it’s such an underrated country. I have spent many summers in Greece, enjoying the good weather, delicious food and the intriguing ancient history. Athens holds a special place in my heart, once such a powerful city full of history and legend. Dating back to the mid-5th century, the Acropolis still reigns above the modern sprawl and represents centuries of history. I have experienced the vast wilderness of the Arctic where I saw polar bears, walked through the Al Hajar mountains in Oman and spotted orca and humpback whales off Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada.

My Insiders Tip

My most recent discovery is Switzerland’s public transport system – it is so easy. I travelled around nearly all of the country in a few days and found the trains and transport network so simple to navigate. The trains run on time and have the platforms advised well in advance, coupled with the beautiful scenery, this makes travelling by train a great pleasure. The Swiss rail pass will give you unlimited access to more or less all transport networks in the country: the major train lines, bus networks and some boats and cable cars too. For the few routes it does not cover, such as the Glacier Express, one of the world’s great rail journeys, it still provides 50% off the standard price.

Favourite Experience

One of the best experiences I have been lucky enough to have is sleeping in an Ice Hotel in Norway. It was a rather surreal experience and though it took me a while to nod off, it was one of the best night’s sleep of my life. It was not cold at all, just very fresh (outside the sleeping bag) and so quiet – compared to living in London the silence was eerie.

My Favourite Place

Oman is full of natural wonders and spectacular hotels. With a reliably warm climate, it is the perfect destination during our winter months. From October through to April the temperature ranges between 20 and 30 degrees. In Oman, you can see so much in a relatively short space of time, from the turtle’s nesting beaches to the extensive desert and the dramatic Al Hajar mountains. After a week exploring this beautiful country, I enjoyed relaxing at Muscat’s Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa in between visits to the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque and Al Alam Palace.

My Favourite Hotel

The Museum Hotel in Cappadocia is probably my favourite hotel. It is housed in a charming cave cut into the original rock face, with rooms so beautifully designed it is hard to believe you are actually sleeping inside rock. As the name suggests, the hotel is also a museum and displays local artefacts throughout the public areas as well as the rooms, which makes this hotel so fascinating and unique. I also fell in love with the small infinity pool that overlooks Goreme Valley, a perfect place for a swim and quiet reflection.

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Discover Europe

Uncover the culture, heritage, art and beauty found in more than 40 countries and countless cities in Europe.… Read more
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Lydia

Growing up in the heart of the countryside in Surrey, I love being outdoors and exploring. My career in travel began working for P&O and Cunard cruises, during which time I managed to see some incredible countries including Montenegro, Corsica and the Caribbean. Since then I have used my travel experience to create tailor-made holidays. For me, travel is learning about different cultures and ways of life. I love sharing my knowledge and passion about Europe with clients, helping to inspire and organise their travel itineraries that are full of special moments.

My Insiders Tip

If you are visiting Paris, you must visit the Palace of Versailles. Until the start of the French Revolution in 1789, the impressive baroque palace was the royal residence. Just 20 kilometres from Paris, you can get a train from either Gare d’Austerlitz or Saint Lazare train station, taking approximately an hour. If you are travelling during the peak summer months, I recommend prebooking your ticket as the queue can be quite long. The perfectly manicured gardens are one of the main attractions of the palace, as well as the grounds that cover approximately 8 sq km, so make sure you wear comfortable footwear. The interiors are extremely opulent with over 60,000 works, the pièce de résistance being the Hall of Mirrors and the King’s state apartments

Favourite Experience

One of my favourite experiences has to be sailing around Italy in August when I was working on cruise ships. Sailing overnight from Corfu to Genoa, the captain announced that we would pass Sicily, and an active Mount Etna, at around three o’clock in the morning. The thought of seeing an active volcano was exciting; while I waited I saw more stars than I have ever seen before, as well as shooting stars! As we sailed past Mount Etna it had erupted, and luminous orange lava was visible trailing down the side. It was definitely something worth staying awake for!

My Favourite Place

Anywhere in the mountains – it’s where I feel most relaxed. An added bonus if they’re covered in snow, as it adds to the magic. We are so lucky to have the Alps on our doorstep, and there are some incredible walks through the mountains in Switzerland. The dramatic scenery makes a tiring walk worth the effort, after which you can relax in one of the many outdoor thermal spas. The Grand Resort Bad Ragaz is a great place to start. Don’t miss the sunsets with the mountains in the backdrop!

My Favourite Hotel

One of my favourite hotels has to be the Gstaad Palace. This palatial hotel has views across the whole town and is family run – one of only a few left in the country. The rooms are extremely chic and elegant, with a Swiss alpine influence. In the hotel’s gourmet restaurant you can watch the chefs as they prepare your meals in front of you and you can choose an accompanying wine from the cellar. The hotel has a wellness centre, swimming pool and sitting room with inviting arm chairs in front of a large fireplace, which is the perfect place to warm up on a winter’s day.

Order a Brochure Online

Be inspired by Europe in print and order your brochure copy here. Order Now >

Discover Europe

Uncover the culture, heritage, art and beauty found in more than 40 countries and countless cities in Europe.… Read more