Here it is again. Just like clockwork. Another year comes to an end, or in this case a decade. There’s been a lot of travel in 2019 and more than half of it has been for work.
This was the year I took a career break from my job at the BBC in TV production to concentrate on my blog and try and take it to the next level. There were many sceptics, but with a lot of hard work I smashed ceilings even I wasn’t expecting to reach.
The super busy year was filled with working with brands and tourists boards, unexpected filming for Dutch airlines, delicious restaurant reviews, lock-ins with baboons and more trips around the British Isles – fulfilling a promise of seeing more of my own backyard.
Here are some of the best things I experienced during 2019 and you never know may give you some ideas on where to go in 2020!
Disclosure: Some of the trips and experiences below are sponsored, however, all views, opinions and photos are my own and remain a copyright of the Curious Pixie. This post also contains affiliate links whereby I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you. It helps with the costs of running my blog so I can keep my content free for you. Thanks as always for your support! See my disclosure policy here.
Best uK Hotel
the pig on the beach, Dorset
The charming 16th-century manor house was once the holiday home of the aristocratic Bankes family. Now revived, extended and painted yellow, a labyrinth of corridors lead to a spread of unique rooms. They have 23 in total including mini houses and shepherd’s huts on the grounds.
The charming luxury hotel is laid back and relaxed and everything you’d want from a coastal escape.
best uk foodie Getaway
The ultimate UK foodie getaway is only an hour from London. Brighton not only is a popular seaside city but also boasts an incredible culinary scene. From top notch cuisine, traditional fish and chips, delicious chocolatiers to an abundance of organic food shops and veggie cafes. This is the city to visit for all gastronauts.
Best Afternoon tea in london
aqua shard – mary poppins
Head to the Aqua Shard for the most amazing panoramic and supercalifragilisticexpialidocious time at their Mary Poppins afternoon tea. The custom-made tea stand with the nanny’s famous umbrella and boots holds all the delicious sweet treats. After you’ve devoured the savoury selection of finger sandwiches make sure there is enough space for the freshly made fairground candy floss – An absolute hit with my girls.
best place for a lock-in with animals
Camp baboon, bristol
Experience the ultimate wildlife glamping adventure at Camp Baboon. Part of the Wild Place Project in Bristol you’re able to play out your ranger dreams in a unique overnight opportunity and create some unforgettable memories.
Learn basic survival skills, enjoy a private evening tour of the animals, toast marshmallows on the campfire before bedtime and feed breakfast to the animals. What I loved most about Camp Baboon is the fact it’s not a traditional zoo with animals caged up. The emphasis is on conservation where rescued and endangered animals get to live in a natural environment.
Best UK PUB WITH ROOMS
the bell at stow, The cotswolds
The traditional Cotswolds inn The Bell at Stow combines beautifully a rustic pub and stunning boutique hotel. It’s the perfect escape from the city. Think fresh country air, red wine and roaring fires in winter or basking in the summer sun with a cool pint in a beer garden. A chance to embrace all the delights of the countryside.
Rest in the luxurious and elegantly decorated en suite rooms, complete with complimentary handmade shortbread and a decanter of port. cosy bar and restaurant in Stow-on-the-Wold. The charming cosy bar and restaurant serves British and international dishes with seasonal produce from local suppliers.
It’s also within easy reach of many of the Cotswolds’ most popular destinations, such as Bourton-on-the-Water and Chipping Norton.
READ MORE: The Bell at Stow, The Cotswolds: A Review
best musical experience
The biggest amphitheatre in northern Italy, the Arena di Verona, is best experienced during the annual Opera Festival. Built in the 1st century A.D the open air Veronese amphitheatre even predates the Colosseum in Rome.
It’s seen gladiatorial games to concerts by The Who, Whitney Houston and Adele. if visiting between July and September don’t miss out on the festival. Due to the incredible acoustics of the ancient Roman amphitheatre, it’s one of the best places in the world to see an opera. Watching Bizet’s Carmen was a dream come true.
READ MORE: 13 Best Things to do in Verona, Italy
best family adventure destination
the french ardennes
Northeast of Paris near the Belgian border, the French Ardennes shaped by the Meuse and Semoy rivers has created a natural playground. A place to engage with the great outdoors on land and water, its hills and valleys kayakers lure kayakersm climbers, hikers, horse-riders and mountain bikers.
There is more than just adventure to keep your family from wandering spooky castles to catching a puppet show in Charleville-Mézières, the world capital of puppetry.
READ MORE: How to Visit the French Ardennes with Kids
philipkutty’s farm, kerala
This beautiful and intimate homestay on the Vembanad Lake in Kerala, oozes charm. Owned and run by a local family, this homestay gives guests the real Kerala experience with a chance to experience what life is like on a working organic, sustainable Keralan farm.
Spend your days learning about the farm, cruising in a traditional Vallam along the canals, or sightseeing at the nearby villages and enjoying communal meals under the old mango tree. It’s an idyllic stay and one you will never forget.
READ MORE: Kerala with Kids – Beaches and Backwaters
best city for sweet treats
If you have a sweet tooth, Ghent is like an Aladdin’s cave. The medieval and picturesque port city in northwest Belgium is often overlooked in favour of Bruges – mistake!
It’s a sweetie paradise from the best pralines and chocolates to cuberdons, or neuzekes – chewy purple cones filled with sweet syrup. They’re often not found outside of Belgium with only a shelf-life of 3 weeks. And let’s not forget the Belgian waffles, found on most street corners. I guarantee you will eat more than one on your trip.
best luxury hotel
hotel ALFONSO xiii, seville
This grandiose landmark property is a piece of Seville’s history and one of Spain’s most prestigious hotels. Commissioned by the King of Spain to play host to international dignitaries during the 1929 Exhibition, Hotel Alfonso XIII is iconic and centrally located in the historic quarter of Santa Cruz, next to Reales Alcázares and Seville Cathedral.
Step into a world of luxury from the moment you step through the door. Elegantly designed the architecture includes Moorish detailing through arches and ceramic tiles and Andalusian touches. The 151 rooms and suites equipped and furnished with luxury and comfort are decorated in three different styles: Andaluz, Moorish and Castilian.
READ MORE: On the blog soon!
best SUMMER family hotel
vila monte farmhouse, portugal
A three hour flight from London followed by a 30 minute drive will bring you to a fabulous family friendly hotel in the Eastern Algarve. The newly-renovated Vila Monte Farm House, a member of the Design Hotels group, offers a tranquil retreat with a garden and two heated outdoor swimming pools in Moncarapacho.
Rooms are found among orange groves. And the farmhouse restaurants serve Algarvian delicacies, all made from fresh ingredients including fish from the local markets and the resort’s own fruits and herbs.
Best place for gingerbread
Love gingerbread? Go to Nuremberg, home of the wonderfully aromatic and delicious Lebkuchen.
Recipes have been handed down from generation to generation and Nuremberg of course has its own exclusive version – the Elisenlebkuchen. The soft and chewy round cookies are baked on thin communion wafers called oblaten. Legend has it they’re named after Elizabeth the daughter of a master baker. The secret recipe helped her recover from a grave illness when no doctor could help.
Make your own at Wicklein Lebkuchen the leading brand for the original Nuremberg Lebkuchen and has been around for almost four hundred years. It last 1.5 hours and only costs 14.90 €. Perfect way to break up a day of city sightseeing.
READ MORE: Gingerbread Making Workshop in Nuremberg
best new landmark
the vessel, new york
New York City’s newest landmark created by British designer Thomas Heatherwick The Vessel is a sight to behold. The humongous copper beehive like structure sits proudly in the new neighbourhood development called Hudson Yards.
Comprised of 154 interconnecting flights of stairs, 2,500 steps, and 80 landings, it offers views of the city and the Hudson River. Tickets are free but please ensure you book in advance as slots do get booked up.
READ MORE: 12 Things Tourists Must Never Do in New York
best city for museums
The city of Basel in the northwest of Switzerland, is home to over 40 museums. The historic city along the Rhine has a museum to appeal to everyone. There are the internationally renowned galleries such as Fondation Beyeler, Kunstmuseum (Museum of Fine Arts) and Museum Tinguely.
You can also discover gems such as the Spielzeug Welten Museum (Toy Worlds Museum), created from a private teddy bear collection, the Basel Paper Mill Museum and Cartoonmuseum
READ MORE: Basel, Switzerland in 48 Hours With Kids
Grenada known as the Spice Island is a tranquil, off-the-beaten-track alternative to the Caribbean’s bigger islands. Famous for its spice plantations, delicious chocolate, beautiful mountains, untouched rainforest and secluded beaches this is paradise minus the crowds.
There is plenty of time for relaxation and rum and great opportunities to explore the beautiful landscape. Follow hiking trails to discover pretty waterfalls, go whale watching, explore historic forts and go diving to see the world’s first underwater sculpture park and incredible marine life.
2019 has been an epic year of travel for the Curious Pixie.
I can’t wait to share with you the adventures 2020 will bring!
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