Hidden gems and holiday treasures

Finding hidden gems is the raison d’être of this blog.

And of me.  And my holidays.

Luxury and unique hidden gems, with vitamin sea. And fizz.

A year wouldn’t be the same without discovering a few of these places.  I can’t think of anything worse than regulation issue surroundings or crowded places. I love finding somewhere truly us, that’s relaxing and tucked away.

Hidden gems and holiday treasures - Travel with Penelope & Parker

Follow me, I think I have found some hidden gems for everyone…

Country: the one that surprised us the most

Israel was an unexpected pleasure! Incredible scenery and food, a relaxed culture and a perfect climate. It felt safer than London and isn’t overrun by tourists. Unique too – home to the lowest place on Earth, and there is no passport stamping.

Hidden gems and holiday treasures - Travel with Penelope & Parker

Read my Israel archives


County: the one without a motorway

And hallelujah for that! I am happy roads to Cornwall are slower – it keeps the county just that little bit more untouched. Hidden beaches, country walks and pubs and rustic coastal accommodation aplenty.  Things really get hidden in Cornwall, like the magical Lost Gardens of Heligan!

Hidden gems and holiday treasures - Travel with Penelope & Parker

Read my Cornwall directory written specifically about places that aren’t in the guidebooks


City: sleepy places do exist

Thank goodness for privately owned city hotels. Who wants to feel like they are ‘on business’ on a weekend break? La Favia in Milan is a gorgeous modern guesthouse with peaceful gardens.  Eliel in Paris is a chic hideaway with hotel spec furnishing and oodles of space. Jobner Bagh is an elegant homestay not to be missed in Jaipur.  In Singapore we amazed ourselves by finding a small a boutique hotel – Naumi – with a stunning roof terrace.  Even in Dubai such places exist – we found the XVA Art Hotel in the cultural quarter – far away from the ridiculous new city.

Hidden gems and holiday treasures - Travel with Penelope & Parker

Read about La Favia, Milan, Eliel, Paris, Jobner Bagh, Naumi and the XVA


Nearby: the bit near the bit everyone knows

In India you can ‘enjoy’ sunset at the Taj Mahal with 50,000 others… Or head to the lesser known other side of the river.  Here you take in sunset in relative privacy, with a perfect view of the marble and gemstones glistening in the fading light.  Bliss.

Hidden gems and holiday treasures - Travel with Penelope & Parker

Read more about our time in Agra and the rest of our incredible time in India


Beach: where you least expect it

Tanners Lane beach is a beautiful spot near Lymington, just on the edge of the New Forest with next to no parking.  It has beautiful views across the Solent to the Isle of Wight and the salt marsh type of setting that reminds me of my much loved North Norfolk.

Hidden gems and holiday treasures - Travel with Penelope & Parker

There’s others too – Lepe Beach and Hurst Spit – more parking, so more people, almost as nice!


Not the beach: in a beach holiday destination

Half way there, in the pitch black, I was ready to turn around and give up trying to find it.  But we battled on.  On the edge of the Blue Mountains in Jamaica is Strawberry Hill.  High up, clear sky, amazing coffee and jaw dropping views.  No beach needed.

Hidden gems and holiday treasures - Travel with Penelope & Parker

Read more about our time in Jamaica 


Countryside: off the beaten track

We did something kinda crazy and visited Greece without leaving the mainland.  Heading instead for the sleepy and unspoilt Peloponnese. The Kinsterna hotel is beautiful – gorgeous gardens, stunning pools, incredible food and immaculate byzantine accommodation.

Hidden gems and holiday treasures - Travel with Penelope & Parker

Read more about our love affair with the Greek mainland

In France we flew to Toulouse on a whim. I struggled to find anything quaint and in the country.  Just one place appeared – Cap de Castel. It was perfect in every way, including the champagne left for us and our 1am arrival!

Hidden gems and holiday treasures - Travel with Penelope & Parker

Read about our long weekend in the Languedoc


Country in the city: a city break without a city stay

A mid-summer city break says one thing – hot and sticky, urgh! Not in Stockholm! One can enjoy the city then hop on the passenger ferry out to Nacka Strand and the nautically chic J Hotel. It is on the waters edge and peaceful.

Hidden gems and holiday treasures - Travel with Penelope & Parker

Read more about our recent trip to Stockholm


Desert: 3 hours deep into a sandpit

Qasr al Sarab is sprawling and clearly visible on Google Earth. But it is hidden in the sense that no one drives 3 hours into the Empty Quarter desert on the off chance of finding luxury amongst the dunes!

Hidden gems and holiday treasures - Travel with Penelope & Parker

Read more about our Arabian adventure


Island: you’ll need a boat to visit

The Inn at Cuckolds Light in Maine is somewhere we will never forget. One mile offshore, perched on rocks with 360 degree ocean views, sumptuous accommodation and real privacy. And who doesn’t want to stay in a lighthouse eh, childhood dreams are made of this stuff!

Hidden gems and holiday treasures - Travel with Penelope & Parker

Read my review for The Lux Traveller as well as a little more about Maine

Another set of islands are the Daymaniyat, off the coast of Oman.  Spellbinding.  These coral islands are totally undeveloped.  What the Maldives should have been left like I guess! One of the most unspoilt places I’ve ever had the good fortune to visit.

Hidden gems and holiday treasures - Travel with Penelope & Parker

Read more about our time in Oman and our stay at The Chedi


Self catering: there are definitely no other guests

Chances are a country cottage rental isn’t going to have many neighbours.  We love these getaways, preferably if they don’t have Wifi or 3G either!  We’ve stayed in many cottages like boutique hotels, for a fraction of the cost and with far more privacy.

Hidden gems and holiday treasures - Travel with Penelope & Parker

Read more in a recent post about inns and cottages for the perfect staycation


Vineyard: without the global brand

Stellenbosch is dotted with vineyards familiar to those of you that loiter in the Waitrose wine section. But there are so many better ones.  Local knowledge took us to the stunning Tokara, Diemersfontein and Vergelegen – a wine lovers perfection!

Hidden gems and holiday treasures - Travel with Penelope & Parker

Read about our honeymoon in Stellenbosch.  Mr P loved it so much he’s now been back over 20 times with work!


Fizz: at its Cornish best

Forget champagne.  It is all about Cornish pink sparkling.  And The Wine Society stock it.  Camel Valley vineyard is tucked away in a sleepy north Cornwall nook.  There is a little terrace perfect for a glass in the sunshine.  They’ve started making beer too, another reason to visit.

Hidden gems and holiday treasures - Travel with Penelope & Parker


Cheers to hidden gems!  Look hard enough and they are definitely there to be found, just don’t tell everyone!

Ever discovered somewhere that made your heart sing and your face light up (not to mention your narrating blogger voice kick into gear)? This month the travel linkup is all about those amazing hidden gems – surprises that we weren’t expecting to uncover… Just pop your post up, add it to the link up widget found on Follow Your SunshineAdventures of a London KiwiSilverSpoon London, or our lovely guest host Tiffany at A Girl and her Passport from the 1st March. As ever there are no real rules – basically all we ask is that you check out some of the other cool bloggers that are involved in that months travel link up; tweet a few of the posts out to your followers that you think they will love and make a few comments here and there. It really is a great way to meet some new travelbloggers and share some blogging joy!

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32 Comments

  1. March 1, 2017 / 9:51 am

    I think you can definitely list uncovering hidden gems as one of your special skills!

  2. wherejogoes
    March 1, 2017 / 11:27 am

    You’ve been to some fabulous places! I too think Israel is a hidden gem and I am inspired to visit the vineyard in Camel Valley next time I am in Cornwall. #travellinkup

    • March 1, 2017 / 8:17 pm

      Israel was one of the real gems of 2016 for us – in fact we really need to go back and see our friends soon!

  3. March 1, 2017 / 5:28 pm

    You’ve uncovered so many hidden gems – hopefully they will stay like that although now you’ll have hoards of us travel linkup bloggers swarming to Cornwall, Israel, and more!

    • March 1, 2017 / 6:24 pm

      It’s ok – the A30 is only so big, that’ll keep Cornwall hidden for a little longer 😉

  4. March 1, 2017 / 9:50 pm

    So many gorgeous photos in here and amazing places you’ve been! We are planning a big Cornwall trip this year and I’m so looking forward to it!

    • March 1, 2017 / 10:25 pm

      Have an amazing time – did you see the link to my directory of Cornish hidden gems, I hope it is useful!

    • March 2, 2017 / 5:41 pm

      Happy to have helped – it’s a marvel there are so many out there with a little be of googling!

  5. Wandermust Family
    March 2, 2017 / 10:26 am

    We are currently at a desert resort – they are wonderful aren’t they

  6. Clare Thomson
    March 2, 2017 / 9:30 pm

    You unearth all the best places! I’m saving this post just so that I can keep clicking on all those enticing links and find all those hidden gems. We used to go sailing in Lymington and I’m sure we never found Tanners Lane. I’d love to visit the Peloponnese too. Love this post 🙂

    • March 4, 2017 / 1:22 pm

      Haha – thanks Clare, it’s research I’m happy to do! Tanners Lane is just on the left across the salt marsh as you come out of the river – it’s gorgeous!

  7. March 3, 2017 / 9:31 am

    These places look amazing! We went for the same sunset view at the Taj Mahal too and it was just gorgeous – and so lovely without all the hundreds of other people there too!

    • March 4, 2017 / 1:22 pm

      It’s amazing that it isn’t busy over there – I think a lot of people are just there to see the place up close and don’t have the time to take in the view at a slower pace

  8. March 4, 2017 / 1:12 pm

    Once again, a post of yours that I need to bookmark! Qasr Al Sarab has been on the books for a while now but I think you’ve added a few more to the list for us, ta!

    Polly xx

    • March 4, 2017 / 1:21 pm

      Qasr al Sarab is totally worth the drive, such a nice bit of desert compared to the ones near the cities, hope you go soon

  9. March 4, 2017 / 7:56 pm

    Can I just re-live all your travels? These spots look and sound incredible! Definitely looks like Israel has a completely different side to what the media portrays!

    • March 5, 2017 / 10:19 am

      Haha, only if you take the stuff that I don’t write about too! Yes – we were nervous before we went, but so glad to have ignored the raised eyebrows and gone with an open mind, it’s an incredible country

  10. March 6, 2017 / 4:56 am

    You’ve just added another #hotelinfinitypool to my list! Strawberry Hill looks incredible and so does La Favia in Milan! I’m desperate to visit Cornwall this year…it’s been too long since my last visit

    • March 6, 2017 / 5:49 pm

      It is all about the infinity pool – I’m eagerly awaiting the rest of your Thailand posts similarly

  11. March 7, 2017 / 3:45 pm

    I’m saving your idea for the Indian sunset – that’s the best hidden gem I’ve seen!

    • March 7, 2017 / 7:45 pm

      Perfect! I was amazed there were only a handful of people there, the noise we could here across the river at the actual Taj was insane – perhaps the other people were all realising they were in the wrong place to relax!

  12. August 6, 2017 / 10:50 pm

    Israel has this trail network that I wouldn’t mind doing a bit of, if I have time, on my next visit. A few places you need to be careful, but otherwise should be okay.

    Found Tanners Lane beach eh!
    Ted recently posted…Backpacking way back thenMy Profile

    • August 7, 2017 / 7:12 am

      We love Tanners Lane!! I would love to see more of the countryside like you say!

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