Travel Notes: October
Travel Notes: October

Travel Notes: October

From luxury hotel openings and bucket-list itineraries to the cool app you need to download now, there’s plenty in the world of travel to get excited about. Here’s everything to have on your radar this month…
By Sherri Andrew




Japan has finally lifted its pandemic-related border controls, meaning tourists can enter without a visa or as part of a group for the first time in over two years. Plus, the Japanese yen is currently at its cheapest level in decades, so now is a great time to experience the country’s rich culture. Not sure where to start? Sustainable tour operator Responsible Travel has several itineraries that hit some of Japan’s most famous sites. We like the sound of the seven-day ‘Tokyo to Kyoto Tour’ (from £1,238pp) which includes a couple of days in Nikko, a sacred city home to shrines and temples, including the famous Toshu-gu shrine.

Visit Japan.Travel


Caravan Agafay by Habitas, Morocco

The first of four Habitas hotel openings in Morocco is Caravan Agafay, just 45 minutes from downtown Marrakech and with beautiful views of the Atlas Mountains. Inspired by bohemian nomads, the hotel connects guests with nature in its luxury canvas tents, surrounded by 14 acres of desert. Each one has an en-suite bathroom, a king-sized bed and decorative items made by local artisans. Ideal for a special group trip, facilities include an on-site restaurant which serves traditional Moroccan dishes, two swimming pools, a horse stable, outdoor cinema, and wellness centre for yoga at sunrise and sunset.



La Valise San Miguel de Allende

Mexico has seen a flurry of exciting openings over the last few years. The latest is La Valise which opened its door last week. The boutique hotel is in central San Miguel de Allende, just a few hours outside Mexico City, and has just six rooms. Created by Namron Hospitality – which owns five other properties across Mexico – it’s surrounded by lush greenery and cool art installations to reflect the area’s old-world-meets-bohemia vibe. Rooms are spacious, with bespoke furnishings, custom art by Mexican-Italian artist Pedro Friedberg, and seriously stunning bathrooms to make guests feel like they have their very own spa. One of the main draws is the list of activities and experiences on offer; staff can help organise everything from sunset horse-riding treks to spa treatments at a nearby hot spring.



Wild Maps: A Nature Atlas for Curious Minds

Whether you need inspo for your next trip or simply want to learn interesting facts about the animal kingdom and planet earth, this new book is a cartographical tour of the world’s most fascinating corners, from the Amazon rainforest to Antarctica. It’s a celebration of the world, and the millions of plants and animals with we share it with. There’s also an important chapter on climate change with information on the countries at risk from rising sea levels, how longer summers in Europe will affect the rest of the world, and how we can learn from the disappearance of the Aral Sea in Kazakhstan.



Trans Bhutan Trail

The historic Trans Bhutan Trail is open for the first time in 60 years. Coinciding with the country reopening its borders this month, the trail has taken decades to restore, with 18 major bridges, 10,000 stairs and 250 miles of pathway now open to the public. Users can trek or cycle through beautiful landscapes to visit important cultural sites and enjoy once-in-a-lifetime adventures. There are several itineraries on offer from the tourism board, including two-day trips through the Paro Valley, and week-long tours passing sites like the famous Tiger’s Nest Monastery.






The Standard Bangkok

Not content with opening an impressive beachside hotel in Hua Hin earlier this year, The Standard recently opened the doors to a second hotel in Thailand. Its Bangkok outpost has some of the best interiors on this list, with an interesting mixture of East-meets-West design from Spanish artist Jaime Hayon. There are 155 rooms in The Standard’s signature colour palette, ranging from doubles to the penthouse. Guests can use the terrace pool, and eat and drink in one of the many restaurants and bars, including the Parlor – a hub for socialising, enjoying cocktails and listening to live music.


Jungle Symphony
Jungle Symphony


Plum Guide

Regular SL readers will know Plum Guide is one of our go-to platforms for holiday rentals, so we were excited to hear it’s got a range of new properties to choose from. If you’re getting ideas for your Christmas break or want to venture a little further afield for NYE, some of our favourites include Cactus Courtyard in Tel Aviv, a beautiful design-led home in the middle of the city, and Crisp Minimalism in Madrid – a light and bright home with seriously chic interiors. If you want to go all out, Jungle Symphony in Tulum sleeps up to nine and has everything you need for an epic group trip, from a rooftop terrace to a spacious living area that leads onto an outdoor pool.



Step App

One of the best new apps we’ve come across, Step was founded by two friends who struggled to find good recommendations while on holiday. It provides travel tips from tastemakers and influencers around the world – whether you’re looking for new restaurants in your hometown or getting ideas for a trip abroad. Set up as a cultural map, Step will help you decide what to do and see, and where to eat and drink in your chosen location. You can also see comments and photos from other users – think Instagram meets TripAdvisor. You can also connect with friends, and follow people and brands like Mob Kitchen, chef Thomas Straker and influencer Emily Gough to name a few.



Villa W, Saint-Tropez

Easily reached via a 90-minute drive from Nice International Airport, Saint-Tropez Hotel Lily of the Valley has opened a new villa for six guests. Designed by renowned French architect Philippe Starck, Villa W is a year-round wellness destination for those who want to relax, unwind and soak up the last of the autumn sunshine. Hidden away from the main hotel on its own private grounds, the villa has a 17m pool stretching the length of its terrace, as well as three double bedrooms with 180° views of the Med. Villa guests can use the hotel’s facilities, which include four restaurants, a spa, fitness centre and Dr Jacques Fricker’s Shape Club for wellness plans and treatments.



SJ EuroNight Service

Sweden’s state-owned train operator SJ has created a new sleeper route which runs from Stockholm to one of Germany’s most interesting cities, Hamburg. Departing from Stockholm Central Station, the journey takes around 11 hours and departs at 5.30pm each evening, so you wake up in the morning in a new city. Perfect for a long weekend (and a great alternative to Interrailing), you can choose from standard seats, six-bunk couchettes or private sleeping compartments with a separate toilet and shower room. Guests can even pick up breakfast in the bistro carriage and pay for access to the SJ Lounge in Stockholm before the journey.



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