Vilankulos – More than a Gateway to Paradise

Vilankulos – More than a Gateway to Paradise

Vilankulos – what’s in a name?


Vilankulos is a costal town in the northern Mozambique province of Inhambane, sandwiched between Inhassoro, Massinga and the Indian Ocean. It was named after a local tribal chief Gamala Vilankulo Mukoke, but became known as Vilanculos during the colonial times. With Mozambican independence, the town was renamed back to Vilankulo. Today, somewhat confusingly, the district is called Vilanculos and the town is Vilankulo.

The landscape here is different to Inhambane – the rolling hills adorned with elegant coconut trees have given way to a flat, golden savanah sprinkled with stumpy baobabs and leafy monzo trees, used to make charcoal sold in sacks on the sides of the road.

We arrive in Vilankulo at sunset and to my surprise I find the streets full of bustle – people selling handicrafts and clothes out of their roadside stalls. Colourful rickshaws darting around the human traffic. Its liveliness reminds me of Ubud in Bali.

The town itself is only about 5 km long but has the highest concentration of tourism facilities on the Inhambane coastline. It has been a favourite with developers for decades, its iconic hotel Dona Ana having first opened its doors to visitors in 1967. The airport is based on the outside of the town with daily flights, providing an easy connection to Maputo and Johannesburg.

Although, we are only here for a stop-over on our way to Bazaruto, Vilankulos is a fantastic destination in itself. It offers a wide range of accommodation, white sandy beaches and the sun seeker’s favourites, including diving, snorkelling, dhow trips and kite-surfing. In fact, Vilankulos hosts an annual kite-surfing competition every September that attracts people from all over the continent and the world.

Vilanculos Beach Lodge


We spend the night at Vilanculos Beach Lodge – an oasis of lush greenery, thatched roofs and whitewashed houses that cascade down to the ocean. The hotel has only recently opened after a thorough renovation. It is now run by Angela, an energetic blonde with a South African accent and Portuguese heritage, and Damien, her French husband with kind eyes and excellent culinary skills.

We dine in the garden, just after the sun has set. The decor is a blend of European chique and African motifs, capulana place mats on white tablecloths, silver and crystal brought down to earth by wooden furniture.

We order risoles– a Portuguese take on croquetas – that come in a 3 varieties – shrimp, fish and chicken. As a main, we go for a whole red snapper, grilled and garnished with fragrant, roasted vegetables and a selection of sauces. As night sets in and the restaurant empties, I recognise the sounds of French chansons drifting through the cooling air. We eat slowly, enjoying the atmosphere and sipping on a chilled South African white. For desert, I can’t resist the lemon tarte – a cloud of merengue on a crumbling base with just enough sour notes to bring it into perfect balance. Angela asks if it’s our first time in Vilankulos, and suggest we watch the sun rise in the morning.

The Sun Rises


After a good night’s rest, we stumble out of bed into the garden at the crack of dawn. Angela isn’t wrong – the sun rises with such drama and intensity over the smooth water that you cannot help think of the Greek legends of Apollo hauling the fireball across the sky. The heavens turn lilac, peach and orange, and then suddenly, there is a flash of fuchsia, as the sun breaches the horizon.

Vilankulos to Bazaruto


After admiring the sunrise over the archipelago, we have breakfast among perfectly manicured lawns and fluttering palm trees admiring the sight of Magaruque and Benguerra in the distance.  It is a shame we cannot stay longer to enjoy the hospitality, delicious food and the glistening infinity pool, but our boat is waiting to take us to the Bazaruto islands. Just a short 30 minute ride away.

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Vilankulos – More than a Gateway to Paradise

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Art Afternoon Tea London

Art Afternoon Tea London

Art Afternoon Tea


The Rosewood Hotel in London has just launched its Art Afternoon Tea experience, where the hotel’s executive pastry chef Mark Perkins takes us on a creative journey with pastries inspired by renowned artists, including Yayoi Kusama, Alexander Calder, Mark Rothko, Damien Hirst, and Banksy.

What could be better than spending the afternoon enjoying the vibrant London art scene? An afternoon eating it.


Art Afternoon Tea

The Mirror Room


The Art Afternoon Tea is served within in the elegant Mirror Room, to the left of the Rosewood Hotel lobby.

High ceilings, quirky art works and plenty of rose gold set the tone for an afternoon of decadence.

Mirror Room Rosewood Hotel
Rosewood Hotel
Mirror Room Rosewood Hotel
 Mirror Room Rosewood Hotel

Classic Afternoon Tea with a Twist


The Art Afternoon Tea experience begins in traditional British fashion with a selection of sandwiches and scones.

Maldon smoked salmon with cream cheese and lemon.

Le Madru Ham, Comté cheese with a slither of wholegrain mustard.

The classic, but remarkably delicious, egg mayonnaise and chives.

Freshly-baked scones are accompanied by smooth clotted cream, home-made strawberry jam and zesty lemon curd.

Art Afternoon Tea Mirror Room Rosewood Hotel
Art Afternoon Tea Mirror Room Rosewood Hotel

The selection of teas is also impeccable. With a range of white, yellow, green, black, oolong and even pu-erh infusions, tea connoisseurs will not be left wanting.

The staff is very attentive and quick to top you up, or change your tea set for a new flavour.

Art Afternoon Tea Mirror Room Rosewood Hotel
Art Afternoon Tea Mirror Room Rosewood Hotel

Edible Works of Art


The pinnacle is of course the edible masterpieces designed in homage of iconic works created by contemporary artists.

Banksy’s Girl With a Balloon, appears on a white chocolate cube filled with a vanilla cream pastry, oozing salted caramel.

Art Afternoon Tea Mirror Room Rosewood Hotel
Art Afternoon Tea Mirror Room Rosewood Hotel

Nodding to the recent exhibition by the Japanese sculptor Yayoi Kusama, Chef Perkins creates a baravois inspired by Kusama’s pumkins. But don’t be fooled. As modern as it looks, the pastry tastes like a fruit basket – a timeless blend of strawberry, vanilla cream and shortbread cookie. A lovely touch of the familiar in the unexpected.

Art Afternoon Tea Mirror Room Rosewood Hotel

Motifs of Damian Hirst’s works find themselves in a berry macaron with yuzu curd and a redcurrant heart. Crunchy on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside.

Art Afternoon Tea Mirror Room Rosewood Hotel
Art Afternoon Tea Mirror Room Rosewood Hotel

Paints down, the best macaron I’ve had in London.

Art Afternoon Tea Mirror Room Rosewood Hotel

The Art Afternoon Tea is priced at £55 per person (£65 per person with a glass of “R” de Ruinart Champagne or £67 per person with a glass of “R” de Ruinart Rosé Champagne). It is a fantastic option for a special occasion – art lovers and foodies will be blown away.

But don’t forget to wear a loose belt and get that pinky up! This is fancy!

Art Afternoon Tea Mirror Room Rosewood Hotel
Mirror Room Rosewood Hotel
Mirror Room Rosewood Hotel

Nature Healing at Ayii Anargyri

Nature Healing at Ayii Anargyri

Waking up in Ayii Anargyri


I awake as the sun rays peak in through the balcony doors. Crisp morning air fills the room. I can smell the mountains. The riverbed. The orange groves in the valley. It’s 7 in the morning. Other than the chirping of birds in the trees outside, I can hear no sound. It’s a beautiful morning at Ayii Anargyri, and it’s time for breakfast.

The Food

I wander to the restaurant, past the stone cottages and the pool, past the olive and the orange trees. The restaurant is empty and the buffet is overflowing with a Mediterranean take on the Continental – fresh dates, yoghurt, a honey comb, grilled vegetables, halloumi cheese, cold cuts, village bread and a selection of freshly squeezed juices. The Ayii Anargyri resort promises to offer locally sourced produce to reveal the best of traditional Cypriot cuisine – and it delivers!
After a three course breakfast – indeed, it was three courses, and delicious – we went for a long walk in the nearby forest. After walking off the feast, we headed to the spa.

Ancient Place of Healing


The Ayii Anargyri Spa, which is based on an ancient sulfur spring, was first formally opened in 1649 by two brothers, Cosmas and Damianos. Their generosity in offering treatment often without thought of reward gave rise to the name Ayii Anargyri – Silverless Saints. There is a church on the premises of the resort that holds an ancient icon of the healers.

Modern Spa

Today the spa is equipped with modern technology and three treatment pools – for kinesiotherapy, rheumatology and phlevology. Ayii Anargyri has come a long way from the penniless healers of 17th century. But their legacy remains and the resort stays true to the promise of natural healing, allowing for an all-round immersion and offering a sense of profound calm.


Complete Relaxation

Lying in the relaxation room, sipping a cocktail of rosemary and lavender teas brewed from herbs grown at the property, I watch the early afternoon sun pour over the hills across the valley. My mind drifts away and I lose sense of time and space. I feel completely relaxed, almost sleepy, and grateful for the sense of peace.


This boutique hotel in the midst of the Paphos mountain range is a unique getaway, and a beautiful place to unwind and restore your health and sense of balance.
Here’s a link to a special offer for your stay at Ayii Anargyri. For stays from Sunday to Monday, you will get the full breakfast, complimentary access to the spa and a three-course dinner at the cellar restaurant included in the price of the room!
A very generous gift, not unlike that of the founding Ayii Anargyri brothers!

How to Get to Machu Picchu

How to Get to Machu Picchu

Like a kid, I was fidgeting with excitement as our train made its way through the jungle towards the town of Aguas Calientes, the seat of Machu Picchu. It was a life-long dream about to come true.

Machu Picchu Train
Machu Picchu Train
Machu Picchu Train
Machu Picchu Train

The journey in the Vistadome is extraordinary. The train offers panoramic views, so you can enjoy the beautiful landscape as you sip on your coca tea.

Machu Picchu Train

Return trips on the Vistadome also offer an on-board fashion show, showcasing baby alpaca textiles, which are all available for sale. Finally, there is an element of surprise, as the staff dress up in traditional carnival costumes and invite passengers to dance!

It was by far the most entertaining and impressive train-ride of my life!

If you are thinking of coming to Machu Picchu, forget about the 5-day treck on “the” Inca trail. For context, there are over 200 Inca trails in these mountains, and tourists get dragged up and down one of them for no particular reason. Save yourself the hassle of sleeping in the freezing cold and take the Vistadome train instead. Tickets get sold out like hot empanadas though, so book them in advance.

Machu Picchu Town


Aguas Calientes, which means Hot Waters in Spanish, is now most often referred to as Machu Picchu Pueblo or Machu Picchu Town. Just 68 miles from Cuzco, it is nestled deep in a valley of the dense mountain range and seems a world away from anything. Not even a century old, its main purpose seems to be solely to provide shelter and entertainment for the passing tourists. This gives the little town a very uncommitted and rather fun feel. There are happy hour signs outside every bar and restaurant. Accents from all over the world spill out into the narrow, winding streets. There is a sense of anticipation and excitement in the air.

In terms of things to do other than visiting Machu Picchu itself, Aguas Calientes offers a vibrant market, full of wonderful brick-a-brack and souveniers. If you will buy one thing here, it should be an alpaca poncho or a blanket. Remember to ask for the percentage of alpaca in the mix of the fabric. A good quality product is Tumi, so look out for this tag.

Baby alpaca blanket tumi

Otherwise, walk up to the famous hot springs and soak in the restorative waters. It is by no means a luxury spa, however it does wonders if your muscles are aching from the hike. The springs are open until 23:00, so you can go and bathe with the mountains and the starry sky as backdrop.

Machu Picchu Town
Machu Picchu Town

Organise, organise, organise!


There is a limited number of people who can visit the archaeological site per day, so you need to be very organised if you want to visit Machu Picchu. The main things to take care of are:

  • Booking your entry tickets
  • Booking your bus from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu
  • Making sure you make the times for the bus and the entry
  • Not forgetting to bring your passport!
Machu Picchu Passport

It can seem a little daunting, and this may be the reason why people often visit Machu Picchu in guided tours. If you do not like dealing with logistics and organisation, this may be a better option for you. However, if you are traveling on a budget, or simply want to venture up on your own, flying solo is not undo-able. This great article breaks down the various steps of the process and includes the pricing.

I would recommend that you try to get there before before 8am, or after lunch around 3pm or 4pm. During these times, you are much less likely to feel like an ant amongst the hundreds of tourists and actually get to appreciate the magnificence of Machu Picchu.

If you are looking to do the early morning hike, be aware that you must make your allocated slot otherwise you may not get onto the path! One more tip here, the queue for the bus in the early hours of the morning may take up to an hour, so take that into account when you’re settling in for the happy hour!

But do try to make it! It is a tough climb, but by god it is worth it!


Machu Picchu

Lazy Sailing in Mallorca – How to Charter a Yacht and What to Pack

Lazy Sailing in Mallorca – How to Charter a Yacht and What to Pack

I have vacation paralysis.
I can’t bear doing anything that resembles work, I am not in the mood to chat to anyone, and the traffic outside is making me dizzy.
This time yesterday, I was on a yacht, sailing through the crystal blue waters off the coast of Mallorca and drinking cocktails straight from a pineapple.
Today I am back in the grind and can’t seem to get my bearings straight.
Take. Me. Back.


La Isla Bonita – A truly Spanish Holiday

Tapas on a yacht

My trip to Mallorca was not much in the sense of eventfulness or discovery, and yet, it felt so authentically Spanish.

I landed in Palma on Friday, exhausted from a three hour flight delay. I was relieved to find a friendly driver waiting for me in the arrivals hall. Sweating from a two minute walk, I climbed into the cool taxi.

We cruised through the still, midnight countryside towards my friend’s boat, anchored in Colonia de Saint Jordi. Three days later, I ordered the same taxi back to Palma airport.

I didn’t see Mallorca. We didn’t even go Pacha, which was on the beach in front of us. So what did we do then?

Well, we woke up when we pleased, had peaceful breakfasts, enjoyed long swims, and had slow, boozy lunches which were followed by siestas.

Siesta on a yacht

These were followed by more long swims, basking in the sun, and concluded in long, boozy dinners. The Captain, an exquisite cook, spoiled our taste buds with delicious paella, decadent lobster pasta and fresh tapas.

We sat around sipping cocktails, talking about love, books, and spirituality.

At dusk, we snuggled up in blankets, watching stars pop like popcorn across the darkening sky.

Our total indulgence was punctuated by a move of the boat to another bay, a few lazy attempts at water sports, and some uncommitted reading.

Paddleboarding in Mallorca
Paddleboarding in Mallorca

I struggled to unwind on day one.

On day three, after I hadn’t checked my emails, the time, or the next thing on my to-do list, I found myself sleeping face-down on an inflatable ride-on, as the waves splashed gently about me.  The wind cooed in my ear and the sun poured over my salty skin. I probably, no, I most definitely, drooled.

Girls lunching on a yacht

Happy Birthday, Marianne!

Our total indulgence was punctuated by a move of the boat to another bay, a few lazy attempts at water sports, and some uncommitted reading.

Girl wakeboarding on a yacht

She Sells Seasalt on the Seashore of Ses Salines

Ses Salines gets its name from the salt lakes which dabble the arid landscape, and salt is still extracted here using traditional methods. Apart from its annual festival in the honour of salt, Colonia de Saint Jordi in Ses Salines appears to also boast some of the most pristine beaches on the island.

As Mistral was on the forecast, we anchored in the bay of Es Trenc. This is one of the busier beaches, but is sheltered, so it’s perfect for swimming, paddle boarding and hiding away from tempestuous winds. The water is a bright turquoise and the sand is white and soft. You get great views of the sunrise, sunset, passing super-yachts and the Cabrera Archipelago.  Oh, it is also a popular destination with nudists, so watch out for photo-bombs.

Otherwise, you feel like you could be in the Caribbean.

Girl surfing on a beach
Girl on a yacht
Girl surfing on beach

Yachting – What to pack?


If you’re planning a boat trip and wondering what to pack, here’s my list put together from 20+ years of sailing. No really, my parents would strap me to the mast and sail out into the Black Sea when I was three years old.

Seriously. There are pictures.

Soft-sided bags

As storage space on boats is limited, and hard-sided bags can scratch the leather and wood trim, leave these at home. I’m a huge fan of Longchamp for their quality and durability.  Customize yours for ultimate chic!

Bikinis and swimsuits

Pack a bunch! You will be constantly swimming, so you want a dry pair to change into.

Paraben-free toiletries

Safer for us and kinder to our planet! Phyto haircare is my favourite, and they also have a suncare collection!

Tip: Save water by first washing your hair in the sea, and giving yourself a final rinse with still water.

Cover ups and clothing

Keep these light so they dry quickly.

A fleece or light sweater

For chilly evenings.


One that sits tight and won’t fly off with the first gust of wind!

Earplugs and night-mask

If you’re a light sleeper like me, these are a must.  Crew and kids have a tendency to wake up early, and unless you’re on a mega-yacht, they will literally be walking over you.

Waterproof camera / GoPro

Check if these are provided, and remember, a towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have.


Not that kind. I mean inflatables and snorkels etc.


If you’re going as a group, it’s convenient and cheaper to buy group-sized bottles of sunscreen and after-sun lotion on arrival.

Meds and plasters

Think anything from upset tummy to cuts and burns.

A good attitude!

Remember, you’re in a confined space. Be helpful and patient with your fellow yachtsmen.

Fill your favourite soft-bag with everything you want to bring, then take out half.


The most common mistake packing for a boat trip is bringing too much stuff! Yachting is actually very casual, so you don’t need many clothes and accessories.

Unless, you’re going to Yacht Week. In which case, read this article from The Blonde Abroad.

How to charter a yacht without breaking the bank


Reading this and wondering how to get yourself on a yacht? I feel you!

In which case, I’ll let you in on a little secret. Chartering a yacht doesn’t have to cost a fortune.


This is a boat brokerage service which allows you to charter yachts around the world at a discount.

They are friendly and helpful, and will try to find something to fit your budget!

You can thank me later as you’re sailing out into the sunset, sipping a piña colada.

Word of warning: When attempting sexy dives from the boat, make sure to make up your mind about how you want to hit the water BEFORE you jump..

Girl dive from yacht
Girl dive from yacht
Girl dive from yacht
Girl dive from yacht

Adios, Amigos!

Isn’t there something magical about sailing? I would love to one day have a sailing boat and go around the world! Until then, it seems, I have to re-learn to cope with life on shore and look forward to my next getaway.

But how wonderful it would be, to live in this state of permanent voyage?

A Bientôt!

The Frugal Hedonist
*Special thanks to the Sloutsky family and crew for an unforgettable holiday! xxx
Girl jumping from Yacht

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