Recently I had the opportunity to stay at Grantley Hall a new 5 star hotel in Yorkshire, to work on a styled shoot with the hotels preferred wedding suppliers. While I was there, I also spent some time creating a collection of social imagery for the hotel and Mason Rose PR. Here are a few of my pics...
To be honest, Before my trip, I wasn't sure what 5 star, luxury in Yorkshire would look like... (having only spent time in the cities of Bradford and Leeds before) but Grantley Hall is nestled in the beautiful Ripon countryside, an area of Yorkshire that is well known for its outstanding beauty. The hotel is stunning.
Even simply arriving at the hotel is impressive. The drive through the hotel gates and up the long, private road which runs alongside the meandering river which cuts through the hotel grounds made me think... WOW where am I? A large, glittering garden sculpture caught my eye as we drove through the manicured parkland and I couldn’t wait to immerse myself in the sublime surroundings of Grantley Hall.
Grantley Hall oozes country charm. It’s the perfect haven for a little bit of fun, serenity and relaxation. During my stay, the staff were all so friendly and helpful and the hotel very quickly began to feel like my very own country home! I even had the opportunity to try the ‘Taste of Home’ menu (10 courses I think it was!) at the hotels fine dining restaurant Shaun Rankin at Grantley Hall. It really was ‘a culinary journey’ and it was great to meet Shaun too.
Alongside the work I do for Grantley Hall at Mason Rose, I am very pleased to confirm that my partner Rob and I at Robin Ball Photography are now preferred suppliers at the hotel for wedding photography. It’s a real honour to have been selected by such an incredible wedding venue. Grantley Hall is sophisticated and stylish, vibrant and fun and it’s the ideal setting to create unforgettable memories and photographs! Our photographic style is beautiful documentary wedding photography which is always very natural and relaxed. Contact me at Robin Ball Photography for more details - firstname.lastname@example.org
I flew from London to Italy recently to shoot social and editorial content for an amazing client in Tuscany. Fontelunga is a photographers dream! The owners, Paolo and Philip are the most wonderful hosts and effortlessly make you feel welcome. While photographing this gorgeous boutique hotel, I was able to experience some outstanding local restaurants and enjoyed the hotels 'home away from home' atmosphere. I can safely say that this was one of the most enjoyable and relaxed photo shoots, which over 3 full days resulted in 400 edited, high-res photographs of the hotel and destination for my clients to use as they wish. My hotel photography is often used for hotel websites, marketing, editorially (most recently in The Telegraph and Liz Earle Wellbeing magazine) and for social sharing. Here are a few photos from this fab hotel shoot...
The food in Tuscany is of course amazing and Paolo himself even bakes a different cake every morning for his guests to enjoy with a coffee in the sunshine. Cake for breakfast? Yup, Fontelunga is heaven on earth. Twice a week, Paolo and Philip host dinner for their guests, which was a great way to meet other international travellers staying at the hotel and find out which local restaurants and Tuscan delicacies they had discovered while exploring the area. Tuscany is a major foodie destination and so everyone you meet at Fontelunga is passionate about food and wine and have travelled from all over the world to soak up the Italian way of life - La dolce vita.
On our first night, Paolo took me and Robin (my partner and 2nd photographer) to a low key, local restaurant called Mengrello in Foiano della Chiana. We had porchini which was freshly picked and sitting on a stool by the kitchen door before being simply grilled. So light and fluffy! Following the porchini, I found another favourite on the menu - truffle tagliata. I was blown away! It reminded me why Tuscany is such a popular destination for foodies - the Italian's treat their ingredients with such respect! It really is the best place in the world for local, fresh, simply prepared, delicious food.
Paolo and Philip have 3 dogs, which as a dog lover myself, added to the joy of staying at this wonderful property. They are such good dogs too - super chilled and very friendly. I really enjoyed doing a few editorial portraits of the owners with their dogs and also of them both relaxing at home.
While photographing a hotel, it's important to shoot details, as well as hero shots. This gives editors more choice when deciding what to publish. I also strongly believe that the destination itself is a huge part of the story and therefore it's crucial to allocate some time to shooting the local area and points of interest that surround a hotel. I love this skyline destination shot of a distant Tuscan village at sunset, where you can just make out the church tower and Italian Cypress trees.
Every bedroom at Fontelunga is unique and has been styled with lots of love. The bedroom views are incredible, particularly as the sun comes up over the olive grove and there’s great views from the bathrooms too (we spent a bit of time trying to capture this with good angles and lighting). Down the road from the main building at Fontelunga, there are two private villas with a stunning pool. This really is the perfect Tuscan, countryside retreat for anyone wanting to get away from it all and discover some hidden foodie gems in the villages and countryside surrounding Fontelunga and Cortona.
Fontelunga very quickly became our very own home 'Under the Tuscan Sun' and several of the guests who were there while we were visiting had returned for a second visit. Fontelunga is the sort of place you want to return to again and again.
Paolo and Philip are currently working on the launch of their new property in the area - Borgo 69 Watch this space!
Last week, Robin and I were asked by the The Hut a popular beachside restaurant on the Isle of Wight to come along and shoot some food photography and a few portraits for the owners, George and Matt Adams. I hadn’t been over to the Isle for a couple of years, but I had heard about The Hut from a few friends who had enjoyed some spectacular, (boozy) lunches beside the sea. I was expecting great things, but I have to say that I was absolutely blown away by the location of this restaurant, nestled beside colourful beach huts in Colwell Bay with fabulous views across the Solent.
Over the last 15 years, I’ve visited the Isle of Wight regularly for festivals – mainly the legendary Isle of Wight Festival, but also Bestival when it used to be on the Isle in a massive mud bowl at Robin Hill Country Park. Aside from the island’s famous festivals which have always been cool (ever since Jimi Hendrix played IOW Festi in 1970) I never really considered the IOW to be a hip destination until recently. It was of course totally cool when Queen Victoria used to holiday at Osborne House and so it's great to see that the Isle of Wight is happening again with The Hut very clearly leading the way. On top of their game, I would go as far as saying these guys run THE best beach restaurant in the UK at the moment. Certainly the best outside of Cornwall.
The Hut is a destination restaurant and I would definitely recommend a trip to the IOW just so that you can visit. It’s that good. The Isle of Wight is easy to get to from Portsmouth via Wightlink car ferry (the crossing is just 45mins) and a day trip to the Isle is easy. You might also fancy sailing in on your own yacht? Ancorage is very good and there are very few rocks. The guys have tenders and can bring you in to shore from your own boat to the restaurant. Just give them a wave and they'll come and collect you. Now, that is cool.
The Hut menu is on point – it's a seafood lovers dream. The lively kitchen headed up by their talented and creative head chef Ben Chamberlain sent out monkfish tacos, ceviche, grilled octopus, tuna poke bowl, cod fillet and Amalfi tart for us to shoot. The dream! This summer, book yourself in for a sunny Sunday lunch and try a few local 'Mermaid' gin and tonics. You’ll love it. Here are a few more of my photos from this fab photo shoot.
I was delighted to fly to Fez this month to shoot some hotel and destination photography for two gorgeous 5 star hotels in Morocco – Riad Fes and Hotel Sahrai.
Both boutique hotels wanted a mix of photographs that they could use for PR, editorial, social media, sales and on their official hotel websites. I shoot in an editorial and social style, as I love a ‘hero shot’, but I also adore capturing the little details, which are perfect for sharing on social media - in particular Instagram. My partner, Robin Ball who is also a professional photographer came with me on this shoot and we spent one full day at each hotel creating content, plus one full day shooting Fez, which is an exciting destination for travel photography. Here are some of my photographs...
At Hotel Sahrai, the hoteliers wanted our shoot to focus on their Sunday brunch, which has an impressive array of Moroccan and international cuisine – poolside. We also spent quite a bit of time photographing their new roof terrace ‘The Jungle Bar’ which has cool interiors and a large roof top bar with unparalleled views of the city of Fez.
While at Hotel Sahrai we shot various F&B and colourful jungle cocktails, both hotel restaurants - French 'Relais de Paris' and Moroccan 'Amaraz', the infinity pool, Givenchy Spa and also some hotel room photography. Hotel Sahrai is an arty, laid back hotel in Fez with uber cool vibes. I would recommend to anyone for a long weekend of rest and relaxation in Morocco. In March, the temperature was 24 degrees. Perfect!
At Riad Fes, the hotel wanted some photographs of their new roof terrace bar, which wasn’t quite fully completed while we were there, but images were required in order to begin promoting it. Riad Fes is in the heart of the medina and the hotel is lucky to have incredible views at dusk. When the sun sets at the end of the day, it lights up the city in an orange glow - there really is no better place in Fez for a glass of Moroccan wine. I love this hotel for it’s beautiful architecture, exquisite tiling and fabric details.
On day two in Fez at Riad Fes, we shot some more hotel restaurant and food photography, plus the spa and other wellness areas of the hotel. We also photographed several stunning hotel suites, which needed quite a bit of professional lighting and I was pleased that I had brought along Robin to assist me. Hotel room photography can be quite tricky at times, as often there is only a short window of opportunity to set up lighting equipment and shoot a few different angles, between guests checking out of a room and new guests checking in. It really does help to have two photographers for this reason.
On our final day in Fez, the hotels kindly arranged a guided walking tour of the medina to assist us with our destination photography. Our guide, Mohammed was very patient with us… as we do take a lot of photos! He took us to all of the best places and because we were with a local expert, we were able to maximise our time (i.e. not get lost!) The Medieval medina is a maze of 9,000 streets and at times… it’s like stepping back in time. It really is an exhilarating, overpowering and exciting travel destination. All of my senses were awoken. It’s an enchanting and exhilarating place - with rainbow streets and carts of citrus, the hypnotic sound of the call to prayer echoing across the city, the smell of ammonia and animal hides at the tanneries and the taste of sweet, mint tea when you need a little break from it all.
During the afternoon of our destination shoot we had a driver who took us to the edge of the Jewish Quarter where the golden doors of the Royal Palace are located – a ‘must pose’ spot for any influencer worth their salt. With wheels, it’s easy to get up to the Marinid Tombs in Fez for an alternative, panoramic view over the city. It's worth it.
In 3 full days, we were able to produce around 400 fully edited, professional photographs for our hotel clients, covering both properties and the travel destination. We were flat out busy, shooting both day and night during our whirlwind stay, but I was super happy with the gallery of hotel and destination photographs that we were able to created for our clients. Most importantly, our clients were also very happy with the results and you can see some of our photographs on the Hotel Sahrai website now.
I would highly recommend Fez to anybody looking to awaken their spirit. Particularly if you love Morocco, but have already been to Marrakech - Fez is more in your face, more exciting. Maybe it’s because it's a place where you can get lost if you want to… while having all of your senses assaulted at the same time. ‘Fez / Being Born’ as U2 once said.
Here are a few more of my photos...
After being so good in January (after the overindulgence of the festive season) I always find that when February finally rolls around, I'm ready to eat everything again! Sure, it's great to start the New Year with 'goddess-like' goals of only ever eating greens... but let's face it, food makes us happy and in the winter months we all need a bit of comfort! This month, I headed back out to try a few of London's favourite foodie places to nourish my body and soul again. Feed me, February!
Top of my list of foodie places to visit was Heckfield Place. OK, it's not London, but it's not too far out of London either if you fancy a Sunday drive followed by a delicious Sunday lunch. I had heard so much about this new hotel opening and it did not disappoint. The first thing I noticed was that the staff were all wearing sneakers, which I think contributed to the overall, relaxed vibe at the hotel. It makes sense, doesn't it? If you're working on your feet all day, but you're feeling comfortable, you're going to be friendlier and happier! I fitted in well, as I was wearing my comfy Converse trainers. Weekends are for relaxation and who wants to be surrounded by the clacking of high heels? Such a great decision by the management!
We had a lovely lunch at the hotel's restaurant Marle, which was surprisingly quiet. I had the cauliflower and gorgonzola soup, followed by the gnudi with spigarello and white truffle butter. My partner, Rob had the River Test trout, which was also delicious. It's good to see another UK hotel championing a locally sourced and homegrown menu where they 'strive to give their diners the excitement and immediacy of food served straight from the earth'. Our waiter had warned me that my choices for starter and main were quite similar and a bit of a beige, stodgy combo... she was right. It didn't matter though, as I loved them both. I adore winter desserts, and to complete the perfect meal, I was delighted to share Marle's blackberry bakewell with Rob.
One of Heckfield's team kindly offered to show us around the hotel after our meal, as they thought it might encourage us to stay next time. I have to say, I would love to stay, as it's such a beautiful property with an incredible collection of artwork and photographs. Just my cup of tea! Afterwards, we went for a stroll around the stunning hotel grounds, which are peppered with fountains, lakes and woods. The perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
'Let food be they medicine and medicine be thy food' (Hippocrates) is Farmacy Kitchen's fabulous, foodie motto. This Vegetarian/Vegan restaurant in Notting Hill is a favourite of mine, as they serve delicious, comfort food which is pretty good for you too! It's a fab place to catch up with a friend for a chai latte made with coconut milk, or for Farmacy's famous 'golden milk' spiced with turmeric, black pepper and cardamom. On this occasion, I had the house pancakes for brunch, which are made with buckwheat flour and served with seasonal fruit (poached pear), coconut 'yoghurt', caramelised pecans and maple syrup. OK, not super healthy, but there are plenty of other healthier options if you wish and it's all delish! A 'must do' when in Notting Hill/Bayswater.
The Harwood Arms
This local pub in Fulham has been on my radar for some time, as it's London's only Michelin Star pub. We chose February 14th, Valentines Day to visit The Harwood Arms, as price-wise, it's more of a 'special occasion' kind of pub than your regular pie and a pint boozer. We were pleased to see an exceptional wine list, with my favourite NZ wine - Paul Pujol's 2011 Prophets Rock, Riesling being the obvious choice. Rob and I have similar taste, which often means we go for similar things on the menu - and on this occasion, we both chose the same starter and main, which was devilled crab tartlet with a salad of fresh herbs and sea trout on toast with mussels cooked in cider and sorrel. For dessert, Rob went for the rhubarb, but I WON by getting the lemon curd doughnuts with Earl Grey cream, which was a delightful bowl of mini, sugary balls. It must be love, as I shared one with him.
Looking back on 2018, I was privileged to be a part of so many wonderful weddings. Here are 20 of my favourite photos (it was hard to choose, as I love them all!) These photographs are little snapshots of the joy, fun and spirit of each unique wedding day and bring back lots of happy memories. I always aim to capture lots of truly magical moments that often go unnoticed, until I deliver my wedding photographs to each happy couple detailing the story of their special day.
I've been visiting Cornwall several times a year for the last 20 years and have always thought of it as my home away from home. It reminds me so much of New Zealand, with it's wild weather and yellow gorse coastlines and it fascinates me that my great, great, great grandparents decided to leave Cornwall in the mid 1800's and sail for months to the other side of the world to start a new life in New Zealand. Just like my greats, I also travelled (back!) to the other side of the world and when I'm in Cornwall, I feel like I've come home again. My roots are Cornish and I love escaping London life to come to this idyllic place where I can feel relaxed and grounded again.
This Christmas, after a hectic year, we concluded that we needed a proper 'get away from it all' winter break so decided to book a cosy cottage for two, by the sea, just south of Zennor. We found Polmina via Classic Cottages which is a gorgeous converted barn looking out across the Atlantic Ocean perched on the edge of an organic, National Trust farm called Bosigran. We packed up all of our favourite home comforts and moved in for a week. I was keen to explore more of Zennor, a small village obsessed with mermaids (check out the carvings in the church and pub) and where I recently learnt that our family history can be traced back to this area as far as the the 1600's. I always knew I was a mermaid!
What to do in Cornwall
In the winter, the golden beaches are just as fabulous as they are in the summer... if not better as there are less people around! Dogs are allowed back on the beach and you'll find plenty of salty, wet mutts going crazy ape bonkers, sprinting across the sand when you're out for wintery walks. On Christmas Day and Boxing Day, there are plenty of opportunities to also go completely bonkers and join the locals for a beach swim. The Cornish community gather together for fun and charity every Christmas to head out into the icy sea for a quick, festive dip. This year, on Boxing Day, I borrowed my Goddaughter's body board and charged out into the waves at Porthtowan for a surf. I am lucky to have best friends in Cornwall who are completely loco and needed no encouragement to join me. The hit of the icy cold waves was exhilarating and hilarious and I can't remember the last time I laughed so hard. Afterwards, we all felt wonderful after a hot shower and a mug of mulled wine by the fireplace. Salty seawater is so good for the body and soul and if I lived in Cornwall, I would be in the ocean every day. Here are a few of my recommended Cornish beaches...
The light in St Ives is soft and glowing as it reflects off the golden sand at Porthminster. You can grab a fresh, locally caught, crab sandwich with sea salt and rosemary fries at Porthminster Cafe and snuggle up in one of their heated outdoor pods, before heading out for a wintery beach walk or checking out the latest exhibition at Tate.
Sennen like St Ives is blessed with beautiful, light coloured sand, a good beach cafe and decent waves for surfing or swimming.
Porthtowan has superb waves for body boarding and sufing. The beach cafe is closed over Christmas, so don't expect to rock up and get a coffee at this time of year. A quick morning dip in the ocean certainly woke us up though!
The Minack Theatre is perched on the cliffs high above the Atlantic, overlooking one of my favourite beaches in Cornwall, Porthcurno. The views from this stunning outdoor theatre, built into the rocks by an amazing woman, Rowen Cade's own hands are incredible and during the summer months it's worth booking well in advance to see one of the many theatre performances or operas on offer. Take a picnic, a rug and a bottle of wine for an unforgettable evening underneath the stars. During the winter, the cosy theatre cafe is open and if you go down to the beach, you might be lucky enough to see a seal larking about in the waves.
On this trip, I took the opportunity to visit St Gluvias, the church in Penryn where my great, great, great Moore grandparents were married in 1839. As I shoot plenty of church interiors through my wedding photography, I found it particularly moving to attend a Christmas, festive service at the place where 2 family members were married before wedding photographers or cameras even really existed. Henry Fox Talbot had only just produced the first photographic negatives in the mid 1830's and it makes me laugh to think that these two were married without any thought of wedding photographs at all. In my opinion, wedding photography is the most important thing to consider when planning a wedding these days! After the service, we headed into Falmouth for some last minute Christmas shopping. Falmouth has plenty of cute, boutique shops to offer and some great Cornish pubs on the quay - Chain Locker is worth dropping by for a winter warmer!
When travelling to Cornwall from London, we usually take the A303 for the most scenic route, because this road goes right past my favourite, ancient stone formation - Stonehenge. As I love a pile of rocks, on this trip we decided to visit Men-an-Tol, which means 'holed stone' in Cornish. The walk to these bronze aged beauties near Madron was about an hour round trip down a muddy farm track and across swampy moorland. The holed stone is believed to have magical, healing powers if you squeeze yourself through it... particularly for women seeking fertility or an easy childbirth! I think if I got down on all fours and tried to crawl through that hole, I would look like I was giving birth...so opted not to!
Where to eat in Cornwall
When we booked the barn, I knew it was only two minutes away from the famous gastro pub The Gurnards Head. It's pretty hard to miss this bright yellow pub in the middle of nowhere and I was looking forward to going back to this favourite spot for supper on our first night. We were greeted by friendly locals with a happy, waggy tailed dog at the bar. In the restaurant, the menu did not disappoint, with plenty of fresh, local fish and other seasonal delights on offer. For main, we had the sea trout with brown crab rarebit and Jerusalem artichokes and for dessert - the most delicious mulled apple tart with ginger ice cream.
After Christmas, we were given the gift of a very special, Michelin Star meal at Paul Ainsworth at No.6 in Padstow. We had been looking forward to trying this highly praised restaurant for a long time and it did not disappoint. I had the 'Cleminthyme' cocktail to start the evening, which was a delicious, cleansing, citrus concoction decorated with a sprig of thyme. The amuse-bouche was a deep fried, crumbed oyster served on a decorative square of beach pebble stones. I opted for 3 small plates, or starters - scallop with fine herbes~ yokon gold~'two roe' beurre blanc, smoked haddock 'quiche lorraine' and raw sea bass with sand shrimp slaw and katsuobushi mayonnaise, while my partner chose the simpler option - fish of the day, which was brill on the bone. For dessert, we chose the bread and butter pudding (Gary Rhodes 1998) with pedro ximenez and roast vanilla ice cream and I couldn't resist the Christmas favourite - a trifle 'Cornish' (c. 1596) with brandy plums, quince and saffron. The service at No.6 was fully attentive at all times and there were plenty of staff to make sure our expectations of a fabulous, fine dining experience were met.
It's a long drive home to London from deepest, darkest Cornwall, so it's a good idea to book a great place to have lunch on the return journey. We stopped off at one of our favourite places - The Pig - at Combe in Devon. I love the 25 Mile Menu, where all ingredients served are locally sourced or grown on site. To start, the waiter persuaded us to have "All the fishy bits" which were mini fishcakes with lemon mayo, salt cured sardines and soused mussels on toast. Sardines are not my cup of tea, but the mussels on toast were delicious! For main, I had Matthew Steven's white crab meat cannelloni and for dessert we shared Nana's rice pudding with homemade damson jam. The diet starts on the 2nd Jan!
Where to stay in Cornwall
On this trip to Cornwall, we opted for a cosy, converted barn on Bosigran Farm which was a bolt-hole away from it all. We roasted Cornish monkfish, fresh off the Newlyn fishing boats on Christmas day and baked a traditional, Kiwi pavlova covered in fresh Cornish cream and red berries, washed down with some of our favourite wine collected on our travels.
The day after Boxing Day we had lunch outside the barn in glorious, unexpected sunshine wearing just t-shirts as we ate mac n cheese board (which is macaroni cheese using the left overs of the Christmas Day cheese board!) At that moment in time, I felt like I was dining at the best hotel in Cornwall. You can’t beat home cooked, comfort food with incredible views across the Atlantic.
We loved the experience of staying in the barn, although it was quite basic, it was everything that we needed for a fun week away.
I love photographing the amazing Cornish coast and capturing the soft, glowing St Ives light. Next winter, we hope to be staying at The Pig - at Harlyn Bay in Padstow... an exciting, new hotel coming soon!
Photo of me (above) by Robin Ball Photography
We were expecting sunshine and orange trees on our short break to Seville at the end of November for my partner's birthday treat. Instead, upon arrival we were greeted with “It’s a miracle… it’s raining!” and my favourite “You should have come here last week! It was so sunny!” Despite the bucketing rain, the good news was that we had timed it perfectly to see the world famous Sevillian trees heavily laden with lots of beautiful, bright orange fruit. The end of November is the perfect time to go to Seville for a pleasantly warm, winter break. I think we were just a little unlucky that the rain in Spain fell mainly on… us!
Being slightly food mad, we had an excellent time exploring this lively, foodie destination. From dining at popular tapas bars like El Rincincillo and Casa Roman where locals and tourists drink wine and chat excitedly underneath dangling Iberico ham legs, to eating our way around Mercado Lonja del Barranco the gourmet food market designed by Gustave Eiffel (think Tower, Paris). If you’re wondering if the cathedral at the heart of the city is worth a visit... inside you’ll find the impressive resting place of the explorer, Christopher Columbus and a courtyard filled with holy orange trees. Here are a few of my favourite discoveries and photographs from our trip to the Adalusian capital in southern Spain.
What to do in Seville
Metropol Parasol - Setas de Sevilla
This waffle-like, wooden formation located at Plaza de la Encarnacion in the old town has been photographed millions of times since it was completed in 2011. My photographs of Metropol Parasol are quite rare I would imagine, as there are not many overcast or thunderous shots of it (as it never rains in Seville!) We couldn't work out how to get up to the walkways and cafe on top and wandered about for ages... the lift and ticket office can be found next to the escalators, downstairs. It's well worth taking the lift to the top of the world's largest wooden structure for incredible views across the city.
Alcazar of Seville
The upper levels of the Alcazar are still used by the Spanish royal family as their official residence in Seville, making it the oldest royal palace still in use in Europe. Game of Thrones fans will know the Alcazar of Seville as Dorne. Instagram stories could be endless here as the palace grounds are truly spectacular. I loved the incredible tile work throughout the Moorish influenced architecture and gardens of the Alcazar. Make sure you book a time slot in advance of your trip, otherwise you’ll join the back of a very long queue to get in.
Plaza de Espana
The Plaza de Espana is a wonderful location for an early evening stroll, whilst enjoying many more impressive examples of Arabesque tiling. During our trip to Seville, I became a fan of the colourful Spanish tiles everywhere and the blue and white arched bridges at the Plaza were my favourite. As the sun set on Parque de Maria Luisa, the buildings of Plaza de Espana lit up beautifully for this idyllic shot of happy tourists enjoying the boating on offer.
Where to eat in Seville
Hotel Alfonso VIII
Lunch at San Fernando restaurant in Seville's most iconic, luxury hotel, Alfonso VIII did not disappoint. It was the perfect spot for a very special birthday meal. We started with a delightful Andalusian octopus and potato salad, followed by the most delicious, buttery seafood paella which was skilfully shared to our plates by our waiter wearing white gloves.
Bar el Comercio
Bar el Comercio is a must-do breakfast spot in Seville, with beautiful blue tiles throughout the cafe and churros made fresh to order. A large plate of deep fried goodness was delivered to our table alongside a mug of thick, dark chocolate for dipping. The coffee was great too. Nice and strong! An excellent place to start the day before heading to nearby Metropol Parasol.
El Pinton have a modern menu consisting of thoughtful, creative tapas, making it very difficult to choose what to have for lunch. Luckily, I ordered the battered egg with quinoa and truffle parmentier which to my delight, was one of the most delicious things I've eaten this year... if not ever. I love it when I discover a new combo that works well and this small plate was really surprising. We made the most of being able to sit outside in November, but the interior of the restaurant was very stylish too. Check out their instagram @elpinton
Where to stay in Seville
El Rey Moro
El Rey Moro is one of the most unusual places that I have stayed in Spain. This centrally located hotel in Seville's charming Barrio Santa Cruz was recommended by Conde Nast Traveller for offering amazingly good value for money. I figured that staying at El Rey Moro would mean that we'd have more Euros to spend on tapas! The hotel decor is extremely quirky (our room was bright green) with a mix of Moroccan and traditional Spanish flair. The hotel has an impressive three-sided patio with hanging plants which is very Instagramable. The sweet smell of orange blossom fills the reception area, where the hotel staff on the front desk are all very friendly and helpful. Included in our stay was a walking tour of Seville, the use of bicycles and a roof-top hot tub with splendid night time views of the cathedral.
Despite the unexpected rain, Seville exceeded my expectations and was the perfect place to go for a short break in November. Not quite the winter sun that we had been hoping for, but the food was next level and I would be delighted to go back to do some more F&B and destination photography in this charming and vibrant city.
I first started keeping holiday journals as a child on our family travels around New Zealand. My parents always told me “See your own country first” Their reason for this was that when I grew up and went on to travel the world, I could tell anyone I met all about New Zealand. And they were right! After 22 years of living in London and travelling the world extensively, I am regularly asked about what to see and do in NZ and I love sharing information on my favourite places back home. We spent many happy holidays together as a family of four exploring our own country, from Cape Reinga at the top of the North Island to Bluff in the deepest South. I would paste entrance tickets, maps, brochures, photographs, even white feathers found on the beach into my travel scrapbook and at the end of each day, I would write up a full report on the days activities. My mum once commented on my enthusiastic descriptions of what food we had eaten and where. I remember thinking then, as I do now, that it was the most important part of the day and deserved to be mentioned!
Back then, my holiday photographs were shot using what’s now known as a ‘vintage’ Canon Demi Blue - half frame camera. I remember the joy of winding on the film to the end after taking 48 very carefully composed snaps and dropping it off to the chemist to be developed. I would have to wait a week before picking up the photos. It felt like Christmas Day every time I opened the Kodak yellow envelope of holiday pics. I would always be so delighted if I got one or two good ones! I still get the same feeling today when I return from a trip, export my photos to Lightroom and make my selections for editing... although these days I expect a few more than just one or two good ones! For me, there's no better feeling than when you've shot a great photograph that perfectly captures a moment in time and that’s why I am a photographer. I still get excited by my images and I enjoy the delight they bring.
After almost 20 years of working in travel at both ends of the industry, from the budget youth market to representing high end, luxury hotels and having undertaken many fabulous personal trips all over the world, I have decided to start putting my forthcoming travel journals online. I want to combine my words, my recommendations and my discoveries alongside my photographs once again, but this time, perhaps in a more mature way!
I have stayed in tents, hostels, boutique and 5 star hotels throughout my life and I am enthusiastic about all levels of accommodation, although these days I tend to opt for luxury hotels as I am the Operations Director & Head of Photography at Mason Rose. Whatever the accommodation, my personal view is that if some thought has been given to the design, if it’s clean and in a good location with adorable staff and friendly service then it’s a great place to stay.
Before each trip, I often buy the latest Insight Guide as a starting point to my destination research, which as a series of travel guide books, have a good balance of information and photographs... but more and more I find myself asking my well travelled friends for their own travel tips or checking Instagram for ideas on where to stay, where to eat and what to see. I have decided that those will be the three main categories that I will cover for each destination that I visit from now on. Where to Stay. Where to Eat. What to do. I hope that my new travel blog is inspiring and helpful, but most of all leads you to having a good time as you explore the destinations that I cover and in turn, make your own exciting discoveries that you will want share with us all.
Andie Moore is a London based destination and lifestyle photographer writing about travel, hotels and destination weddings.