Best In Travel

Discover Ecuador

Andean mountains, Amazonian forest, Idyllic islands and coastline, postcard-pretty colonial centres, Kichwa villages… Ecuador may be one of the smallest countries in South America but don’t be fooled by its size for there is plenty to see, do and experience in Luz de América (the light of America).

Planning a visit to this Andean country? Let Best in Travel be your guide…


Discover Peru

Introducing Best In Travel’s guide to planning the perfect holiday in Peru

Which destination are at the top of your bucket list? We’re willing to bet Peru – home to the extraordinary Inca ruins high in the Andes at Machu Picchu, Chan Chan (aka the largest pre-Columbian ruins in all the Americas) and the Nazca desert – is up there.

Of course a trip to a special place such as Peru needs careful planning. After all, there’s a good chance you will get there only once in your lifetime and you will want to make sure you get the best possible experience,

So what you need is the best possible advice: insights and guidance from an expert who knows the destination inside out, who can pick the best places to stay and to eat – one that suits you, not the travel company. Someone who can advise you on the best time of year to go.

That’s why Best in Travel has published a Peru issue, planned by our expert writers, to give you all the information you need to go ahead…


Ras Al Khaimah’s best hotel villas

Sumptuous spas, first class restaurants, bedrooms bigger than your London flat, conscientious concierges – yes, there’s a lot to love about luxury hotels.

However if you want to be able to wander to the kitchen for a midnight snack, connect your iPods to the central sound system or relax by a pool without being bothered by the chatter and splash of other guests, then a hotel villa is invariably the answer.

Happily for anyone headed to Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) to make the most of the mountains, deserts, pristine white-sand beaches and some of the best hiking in the Middle East, the UAE’s northern most emirate is home to a handful of hotel villas just begging to be booked.

And fortunately for you, dear reader, Best in Travel has done the hard-work. Here we round up RAK’s best hotel villas – just don’t forget to send us a postcard…


Ras Al Khaimah, Al Hamra Beach Villas
The Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah, Al Hamra Beach – the second luxury resort for The Ritz-Carlton brand in Ras Al Khaimah – features 32 luxurious tented villas, each with its own pool and direct beach access, offering comfort and privacy complemented by breathtaking views and indulgent amenities.
Guests can choose from two types of villas. The Al Naseem Villas feature local design elements inspired by traditional Bedouin architecture and offer an elevated level of seclusion, while the Al Bahar Villas include open views and private beachfront access. Both are a tonic for trammelled travellers.

The Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah, Al Wadi Desert
Set in the midst of 500 acres of desert in the northern part of Ras Al Khaimah, the resort has 101 villas, spread across the protected Al Wadi Nature reserve.
Each of the stand-alone villas features a large outdoor furnished terrace with private infinity pool, some with steps directly down to the dunes, while others are more enclosed for those seeking extra privacy.
Inside, guests can hunker down in front of the huge television in the living room, snuggle up in a spacious bed or take a bath with Asprey amenities in a stand alone tub so large you’ll never want to get out.
Anyone opting for a tented villa, should expect Ia glass-enclosed rain shower,  free-standing tub with views out to the pool and desert dunes and a dressing room with double wardrobes. Tempted? You should be.

The Cove Rotana
Welcome to The Cove Rotana – Rotana’s first property in the emirate that everyone is talking about.
The resort – which is located on an idyllic water inlet on the Ras Al Khaimah beachfront overlooking the Arabian Gulf with 600m of pristine beach – offers  78 one, two and three bedroom villas that are perfect for those who want to enjoy all the privacy and intimacy of a villa experience while still being able to take advantage of the hotel service. 
All villas are furnished in contemporary Arabic styles and offer every comfort and amenity that a discerning traveller would expect.

Jannah Resort & Villas Ras Al Khaimah
Ideally located in Al Mina, Ras Al Khaimah, just a 45-minute drive from Dubai International Airport, Jannah’s villas consists of 4 four-bedroom beachfront villas boasting temperature-controlled private pools and private gardens that are only steps away from the beach.
No need for four rooms? There’s also 15 three-bedroom garden-view villas and 5 three-bedroom pool-view villas, situated a stone’s throw from the shoreline, with 348 square meters of space. Stay a little while and you may never want to leave…


Anantara Mina Al Arab Ras Al Khaimah Resort
RAK’s hotel villa scene has never been shinier, smarter or more exciting than it is right now, thanks to a slew of stylish openings that have dramatically changed the hitherto forgotten emirate.
But the upcoming opening we’re most excited about is Anantara Mina Al Arab Ras Al Khaimah Resort. Set to open in 2020 – just two short years, people – the resort will feature the first Maldives-inspired overwater villas of their kind in the emirate and embrace guests in authentic luxury. We can’t wait.

What to see and do in Ras Al Khaimah

Tucked away away at the northern tip of the UAE lies the country’s most underrated emirate, Ras Al Khaimah.

You won’t find the gargantuan skyscrapers, shopping malls and bars that dominate Dubai and Abu Dhabi but you will be struck by a cultural authenticity that is hard to find in the other emirates.

Make no mistake: Ras Al Khaimah abounds in archaeological sites, historical structures and natural beauty – from mountains to deserts and pristine white-sand beaches.

Factor in year-round sunshine, first class resorts and friendly locals –  and you have an up and coming UAE holiday destination.

Discover the top 10 things to do and see in Ras Al-Khaimah with our handy guide…

The National Museum of Ras Al Khaimah
Located in the western part of Ras Al Khaimah city in a fort that was the residence of the ruling family until the early 1960s, The National Museum houses a collection of archaeological and ethnological artefacts. Visitors will learn about architecture, pearl diving, date agriculture, farming and fishing in the various galleries.


Scaling the Hajar Heights
The spectacular Hajar Mountains in the eastern part of the emirate, were formed over 70 million years ago and stand nearly 2,000 metres above sea level. 
The mountain range offers breath-taking scenery and a welcome respite from the heat of the beach resorts, with temperatures around 10 degrees cooler than sea level. For those who wish to spend the night under the stars, there are a number of established camping spots or, to really get into the Arabian spirit, why not camp Bedouin-style in some remote wadis?


Just desert
No visit to Ras Al Khaimah is complete without taking a trip into the desert – the true heart of Arabia.
Virtually every tour operator offers a half or full day desert safari tour: after dune driving you can have your hands henna’ed, then make like Lawrence of Arabia and ride a camel, before enjoying a desert sunset, Arabic barbecue and a bit of belly dancing.

Get wet
Seven tenths of the world is covered in water and as satirist Dave Barry once quipped: “Staying on top of the water is like standing outside the circus tent.”
As enjoyable as activities above the water are, it’s what lies beneath that is of real interest – particularly in Ras Al Khaimah, arguably the finest emirate in the UAE for snorkelling, diving and exploring the marine life.
Adrenaline junkies will also be in seventh heaven:  jet-skiing, fly-boarding, wake-boarding, parasailing and banana boat rides are all on offer along the 64km coastline.

Explore Jazirat Al Hamra Fishing Village
This abandoned fishing village, just outside of Ras Al Khaimah, is one of the oldest and best preserved coastal villages in the UAE (with roots dating back to the 16th century) and serves as a reminder of life before the oil boom. One caveat: watch out for ghosts – some of the abandoned buildings are believed to be haunted.

Al Marjan Island
Al Marjan, a series of four connected man-made islands, is located in the west of Ras Al Khaimah. Extending a vast 4.5km into the sea, the island covers an area of 2.7 million square metres. With waterfront homes, quality hotels and resorts, marinas, private resident beaches, leisure, retail and recreational facilities, this ambitious development represents the direction in which RAK is headed.

Tee time
Most visitors flock to Ras Al Khaimah to fly and flop but the underrated emirate is also a great destination for golfers, thanks its enviable climate and world class golf courses including Al Hamra Golf Club. Designed by renowned golf course architect, Peter Harradine, the course incorporates both open water lagoons and desert landscapes resulting in a stunning par 72 championship course – measuring 7,325 yards at full length

Discover Dhayah Fort
This 16th-century mud-brick fort was built in a strategic hilltop position facing the Gulf to defend the region from attack by the British and was the last holdout, before eventually falling in December 1819.
More recently it housed the royal family until 1964 when, following a very short period as a local prison, it opened to the general public as a place to celebrate Emirati history.

Zip lining
A world record-breaking zip line measuring 2.83km – equivalent to over 28 football pitches – and reaching speeds close to 150km per hour is the latest addition to Ras Al Khaimah’s claim to be the adventure capital of the Middle East.
Via Ferrata – which means iron street/path in Italian –  includes three courses along the rocky facades of Jebel Jais, aka the UAE’s highest mountain.
If you think you have what it take, secure your spot at

Park life
Opened in the 1990s, Saqr Park  is the largest public park in Ras Al Khaimah, and is known for its vast areas of greenery. It is the perfect spot for big kids and little kids alike to relax and unwind featuring, as it does, green spaces, playgrounds and other facilities.

Memorable mid winter getaways

It’s wet, windy and dark at four o clock so it must be time to head abroad and bask in some winter sun. KH has the low-down on 10 destinations where sun, sand and sea come as standard

Palm  Springs, America
Surrounded by the stunning San Jacinto and Santa Rosa mountains, Palm Springs stands for everything I love: hot weather, fabulous sun tanned bodies and some of the some of the swankiest hotels and bars on the planet.
Located 110 miles east of Los Angeles along Hwy 111, Palm Springs is where the King of Cool and his Rat Pack cronies headed when they wanted to escape the intensity of Hollywood. However it wasn’t just Dean, Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jnr who flocked to this desert jewel. Liberace, Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable: name your star and they’ll almost certainly have had an extravagant home here. The question isn’t so much who has stayed and played in Palm Springs, as who hasn’t? The Best of the Best’s ‘Rich And Famous Tour’ shows you the estates of the all of the celebs who helped put Palm Springs on the map.
But the real reason you flock to Palm Springs is to drink designer cocktails and dance to fresh DJ spun tunes around kidney shaped pools until the wee hours. Sure, Palm Springs won’t suit everyone – you either get it or you don’t. But if you do, like me, you can’t wait to return.

South coast, Barbados
When in Britain the sky is the colour of porridge, the leaves are falling and everyone is succumbing to the  flue, in Barbados it’s hot. Not sweltering sunstroke hot you understand, but blue skies, smattering of clouds, top up the tan hot.
Even better: it doesn’t require a string of vaccinations to get there and everyone speaks English. The majority of Brits make a beeline for Barbados’ fabled west coast which isn’t nicknamed the Platinum coast for nothing: this lap of luxury is where the jet set (think leggy models, real estate gurus, playboys and socialites) hang out.
Yes the west coast is good at showing off, but sometimes less is more right? So if, like me, you can survive a holiday without bumping into Simon Cowell and co, head south where you’ll find pockets of paradise that have not yet been lost. There’s no such thing as a bad beach in Barbados, but Brownes beach, Miami beach and Accra beach – all on the sun kissed south coast – are exceptionally fine spots to toast on a sun lounger and then spend longer in the paint box turquoise water than a dolphin.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Rio has always been hot (in every sense of the word) but right now the Cidade Maravilhosa (Marvellous City) is positively sizzling! The world’s best footballers were in Rio last summer for the FIFA 2014 World Cup and they’’ll be followed by the Olympic flame in 2016.
Most visitors touch down and make a beeline for the beach – be it the world famous Copacabana or its more salubrious sibling, Ipanema, both of whom have been celebrated in song and film. Regardless of where you to choose to stretch out your beach towel, expect to see Cariocas (aka residents of Rio) from all walks of life – families, favela kids, football players, pensioners, hawkers peddling sunglasses and sarongs, and socialites in huge sunglasses – coming together to get their groove on.
It would be easy – and perfectly understandable in light of the recent Siberian weather conditions in Blighty – to spend all of your time frying yourself silly on the golden sand. But Rio offers more than just a day on the beach and only a philistine would visit without ticking off the 125ft statue of Christ the Redeemer who stands, arms outstretched, on the summit of Corcovado Mountain – and ascending Sugarloaf Mountain (also referred to as Pao de Acucar).

Sanya, Hainan
A few weeks from now you could a) be counting the shades of gray in a February day or b) lying on the sand in Sanya (there’s more to China than the Temple of Heaven and Terracotta Warriors), working on the tan.
This oasis that sits on the same latitude as Hawaii hasn’t received the recognition it deserves, having only been opened to visitors 20 years ago. As a result, it’s not as fashionable as other Asian beach destinations, but it can only be a matter of time…
Sanya marks the southernmost tip of the island of Hainan, which is roughly the same size as Belgium. Dubbed “the end of the earth” (or the “tail of the dragon” due to its remoteness in relation to Beijing), this tropical city is famous for its beaches and doesn’t disappoint. Dadonghai Bay and Sanya Bay are both fine spots for those who want to fly and flop but, budget permitting, aim to base yourself 15km east at exclusive Yalong Bay. The beach here is the best and, unless you’re mad enough to go over Chinese New Year, it’s virtually empty.

Tel Aviv, Israel
Can’t choose between perfect beaches and bronzed bodies, a buzzy city atmosphere or architectural treasures? Israel’s largest city delivers them all – along with gastronomy, history and culture -  in spades.
Of course Tel Aviv has been in the headlines recently for all the wrong reasons but don’t be deterred from visiting: travelling to Tel Aviv – whose name means ‘Hill of the Spring’ – no longer constitutes an active threat. Tourists have rarely been targeted and you’ll be warmly greeted by Israelis looking to shed their country’s international reputation.
In fact we defy you to to resist the charms of the friendly – and unfeasibly good looking – locals who will bend over backwards to help you during your sojourn in the White City. Those that I was befriended by couldn’t get over the fact that, back home in Britain, I don’t know my neighbours – absolutely everyone knows everyone in Tel Aviv.
All told if you want to put the pep back in your step, if you want to live life to the full and be bold, bright and fabulous, Tel Aviv delivers.

Riveria, Mexico
If the weather is really getting you down, fret not. Simply pull out your sense of adventure and make for Mexico’s Mayan Riviera. True the journey to get there is something of an odyssey but this is a small price to pay for a perfect mix of winter sun, beautiful beaches,  sea as turquoise as glass, ancient temple ruins, fine food and loud and proud Latin culture – in short everything you could want from a Mexican holiday.
Cancun is the gateway to this pocket of sunny paradise but his resort lined strip only gives you a limited view of what the state of Quintana Roo (pronounced Kin tah nah roh) has to offer. Instead push onto Playa del Carmen which manages to be hip as well as hot. The postcard charmer has decades of experience of welcoming European and Americans sun seekers who flock here to see and be seen on Playa’s Bounty advert beaches. World class snorkelling and diving (the underwater world here is a paradise for snorkellers and divers of every ability) can fill your days or you can just drift off a beachside bed and ogle the mahogany flesh – expect a competitive parade of preening bling – that is always on display before hitting Quinta Avenida which hums with activity at any hour.

Boracay, The Philippines
No visit to the Philippines is complete without spending some time on the island of Boracay whose pristine beaches and balmy waters provide a welcome escape for weary travellers. Yes, grass-roofed, fixed umbrellas are everywhere. And yes, hawkers do patrol the beach looking to sell their crafts. But it’s still possible to secure a stretch of sand for yourself, settle back and enjoy the unhurried pace of life. Some whinge that Boracay has become commercialised – that the island has too many resorts, eateries and bars (there’s even a shopping mall). Yet, while there are signs that the island is going upmarket  (Shangri La hotel has taken up a tenancy), Boracay still lags way behind any of its Thai equivalents, as far as rampant development goes.
At night, the island comes alive. Filipinos certainly know how to party. Head for the landmark beachfront bar of Hey! Jude or Bom Bom Bar – a sizzling hot sundowner spot. Under the setting sun and the blare of pop hits, you can enjoy timeless and unpretentious Filipino fun that modernity can’t surpass.

Cape Town, South Africa
It was back in 1850 that Sir Francis Drake described Cape Town as the “fairest cape in the whole circumference of the earth”. Fast-forward a few hundred years and Drake’s declaration still rings true. After a few grim decades, when the thought of visiting Cape Town and feeling the sun on your face was heavily tempered by the specter of violent crime, the city is once again back on the map, having firmly established itself as a travellers’ haven.
It might be possible to have a bad time in Cape Town, but it’s hard to see how. For in the aptly named ‘Rainbow Nation’, visitors can effectively combine a spectrum of different holidays in just one trip. The tourist target boasts an embarrassment of riches: its got awesome mountains, game reserves galore, cultural rewards in the shape of the city itself, scores of scenic attractions and yes – world class beaches where you can ogle the effortlessly gorgeous, long limbed locals basking in the sunshine. (You won’t see many soaking up the surf as the waters are cold enough to keep even the keenest of swimmers out of the ocean). Other pluses? Prices are reasonable, if not remarkably cheap and there’s no jet lag to contend with.

Dubai, UAE
As recently as two decades ago few Brits had heard of, yet alone been to, Dubai. Now the emirate is a permanent fixture on the winter sun scene thanks to its promise of guaranteed rays, without the need to fly halfway around the globe.
People, perhaps understandably given the emirate’s penchant for publicising its outlandish projects, have the wrong idea about Dubai – believing it to be all about  malls and modernity.
However scratch beneath the shiny surface and you’ll find another side to the ‘city of gold’. Alongside the skyscrapers like the Burj Al Arab (the self proclaimed seven star hotel) and the Emirates Towers sit historical sites such as Bastakia  and the creek – arguably the heart beat of Dubai. Here you can watch abras and dhows (traditional Arab sailing boats) weave their way across the water, as they have done for centuries. For further local flavour, factor in a tour of Jumeirah Mosque (Dubai is after all an Islamic state even if it isn’t quite how you’d envisage Arabia) before sauntering through the bustling souks. Bottom line? There’s awful lot to discover about Dubai beyond what you know from the glossy brochures.

Nha Trang, Vietnam
If you’ve ever wondered what Goa looked like before the hippies or Thailand before the high rise hotels, then Nha Trang could be your last chance to find out. Vietnam’s beach capital may not have previously figured on your mental map, yet when you get there it’s hard to see why not.
Allow me to paint the picture… the sea is the colour of Bombay sapphire, the sky is perpetually blue and the sand is platinum blonde and squeaks when you walk on it. Right now it’s warm rather than scorching, but six hours of sunshine a day is still a distinct improvement on Blighty. To the beach you can add cultural treasures, great surf and dive sites, good retail therapy, lively nightlife, fabulous food and everything from hostels to super swish resorts.
When night falls, seek out The Sailing Club: a friendly bustling establishment on the beach that’s a great spot for a night out. As you stand watching the waves crash onto the shore with a cool beer in hand while a calypso throbs in the background, you wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.