Luxurious beach side resort
Luxurious beach side resort

The Abama overlooks the volcanic island of Gomera

LUX steps into a different universe of tranquillity, colour and cuisine at The Ritz-Carlton Abama resort in Tenerife, a short hop from western Europe

Stepping out of your room into a kaleidoscope washed by warm salty air is a delicious feeling. The kaleidoscope was the lavishly planted sea of flowers in multilayered, terraced tropical gardens around the villa where we were staying. A short stroll along the path took us past even more plants, trees and flowers of every conceivable colour, which rose first past several organically shaped pools and then onto the terrace where breakfast was served.

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The Ritz-Carlton Abama is located on top of a cliff overlooking the ocean and a volcanic island opposite. During breakfast time, this island was always covered in a mysterious, horror-movie murk, almost indistinguishable from the light-blue sky around it. The sun rises slowly in equatorial zones, and even though the morning air had a hint of chill in it, due to the coldness of the sea currents, we were indeed in an equatorial zone off the coast of Africa. The Canary Islands may have become host, in part, to unglamorous mass tourism recently, but they first came into Western awareness as a hive of distinctive species and ecosystems.

Luxurious pink villa in tropical garden

The villas are set in lush gardens

The days soon took on a familiar rhythm. Adjacent to the breakfast terrace, a 50-metre pool, curvaceous and irregular, is boarded by rows of sun lounges with a view down over the gardens to the sea. As the sun became stronger, we moved down to the beach, where a seafood and grill restaurant was washed by calling breezes and salty air. There is cliff jumping from either side of the bay where the long, sandy beach is located, and in the next bay you can jump from black volcanic rock to black volcanic rock admiring great schools of crabs, blue and orange, living in the twilight zone beneath them, between land and ocean.

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Swimming in the clear sea, sheltered by a breakwater, involved being accompanied by fish – sometimes individuals, sometimes in shoals, occasionally monochrome, usually in an array of colours to match and even outdo their plant-based counterparts on land, with fluorescent blues and oranges all the vogue.

If we had not had the energy in the morning, an early-evening game at the tennis centre based around perfect clay courts next to the (celebrated) golf course was a way of adding to the exercise quotient, before either moving to one of the restaurants, or dining on room service on our own terrace overlooking treetops, banana plantations, the ocean and the volcanic island of Gomera. In the evening, this was lit up in pinks and greens, and strung by lights from its occasional roads, just visible from our vantage point 20 miles away across the water.

Luxurious outdoor swimming pool

Abama’s main pool – one of seven at the resort

Fine dining is not often associated with the Canary Islands, something the original creators of Abama sought to change when building this resort. Unusually for an island in the Atlantic, 1,000 miles from the southern tip of Spain, it has Michelin-starred restaurants and an array of other dining spots with specialised cuisines and, often, spectacular views.

The most notable is Kabuki, a Japanese restaurant high above the resort and the 18- hole championship golf course. The whole resort is built on a steep volcanic slope, meaning the view down from Kabuki to the gardens, plantations, swimming pools and the sea is particularly captivating at dusk. Aperitifs are served on the terrace, and inside, the restaurant serves a celebrated blend of local and Japanese cuisine. The flame-seared fish nigiri is easily the most memorable thing on the menu.

At the other end of the resort, although by no means at the other end of the scale, El Mirador is an eagle’s nest atop cliffs that plunge down to the ocean. From the tables you can hear the sea crashing against the rocks far below and smell the ocean spray. Appropriately, El Mirador serves grilled fish and seafood, and is also celebrated for Spanish cuisine from a different part of the country: black rice paella. Like a number of the restaurants in the resort, it also serves a mean bowl of Canarian potatoes, which maximise on intense, nutty taste, accompanied by red and green chilli sauces.

Restaurant outdoor terrace with tables

Contemporary style open kitchen

The kitchen and terrace at El Mirado

The cascade of colours at sunset at El Mirador is a match for any oceanside location in the world, and a fitting end to a day that began with the kaleidoscope of flowers outside the villas. The villas themselves are the most secluded category of accommodation in a resort that is bigger than it may seem, so well blended is it with its natural context. We had a seaview suite, including a large living room, huge bedroom and two balconies, which should be plenty for any couple. It can be combined with an adjoining (equally large) bedroom for a family area big enough to match many people’s homes. Interior décor is all cool stone and tiles, with equally large bathrooms to match. And that fabulous morning cascade of colour as soon as you draw the curtain, or open the door.

One-bedroom suites in villas at The Ritz-Carlton Abama Tenerife start from €615, plus tax. Find out more:

This article was originally published in the Autumn 19 Issue.

Reading time: 4 min
Aerial shot of luxury swimming pool surrounded by wooden decking and cabanas
Exterior shot of Monte-Carlo bay hotel with pink mansion house, luxury swimming pool and azure ocean

The grand exterior of Monte-Carlo Bay hotel

Why should I go now?

Speak to Monaco residents and they may tell you that August isn’t the ideal time to visit their fairytale territory: there are too many tourists, apparently. And yet we at LUX have quite a few Monaco-based friends who are staying put in the principality this month, and the overwhelming reason is the Monte Carlo Bay hotel.

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To understand its unique appeal, you need to be a little familiar with the rest of the hotel offerings on the Cote d’Azur. Monte Carlo itself has the Hermitage and the Metropole, beautiful, formal palaces with limited outdoor areas that somehow make them better suited to a romantic autumn break than a summer holiday. Down the coast, there are other palace hotels, some of them with big outdoor pools; but there is nothing like the Monte Carlo Bay.

luxury swimming pool with arched bridge at one end, surrounded by lush greenery

The hotel offers a plethora of activities and boasts a large swimming pool complex (pictured here and below)

Aerial shot of luxury swimming pool surrounded by wooden decking and cabanas

Arrive at the grand main entrance (you will likely be in a short queue of special edition Ferraris, convertible Rolls Royces, and souped-up Lamborghinis) walk through the high-ceilinged foyer and onto the terrace and you could be in a resort hotel in Asia; below you other terraces gleam invitingly, but the main attractions are, cleverly, screened out of sight.

What’s the lowdown?

luxury dining room interiors with green chairs, round tables, arched ceilings and potted plants

L’Orange Verte

The Monte Carlo Bay is a rare hotel that, if anything, is too modest about itself. This is a full-on resort, built on a semicircle of land on Monaco’s seafront, extending out into the Mediterranean, with a complex of swimming pools, some of them sand-bottomed, extending under a maze of bridges and terraces towards the sea. Cafes and bars and speciality ice cream stalls pop up everywhere you turn, and the activity doesn’t stop at the seafront: you can swim in a specially cordoned-off area of the sea, 50 metres long, overseen by lifeguards and protected from jellyfish by a net. We tried parasailing and waterskiing, the former an absolutely spectacular way to experience the mountainous coastline surrounding the principality. And this being Monaco, the expertise of the instruction was unparalleled: our parasailing captain had been the French national champion.

Read more: Geoffrey Kent on finding new places in a well-travelled world

In the unlikely instance of the weather taking a turn for the worse, there is also a huge indoor pool and hydrotherapy area, itself connected to yet another outdoor pool. The design of the hotel means that all these extensive pool and terrace areas are invisible either from the street, or even from the hotel’s own restaurant terrace.

Line of luxury sunbeds along the ocean front

Guests can sunbathe right on the ocean’s edge

The Bay has its own Michelin-starred restaurant, Blue Bay, but we enjoyed our dinners from the expertly curated and created international menu (broken down by region) out on the terrace at L’Orange Verte, with its view over to the sea. The chicken satay and crudités plate was a perfectly summery compliment to a glass of Provencal rosé.

Getting horizontal

The Monte Carlo Bay is a four star hotel, rather than a five star, although you wouldn’t believe it from the facilities or the breakfast buffet, which offers everything from miso soup to a proper salad selection, a plethora of hot food, and two rows of every kind of fresh bread for toasting. The rooms reflect the fact that it’s a comfortable, but not a luxury, offering: stone floors without carpets, functional bathrooms of a decent size with excellent products, all without the extra fripperies of a luxury hotel, which felt unnecessary in the circumstances. Our room had a big balcony with a view over legendary nightclub Jimmy’z, just across the way, and to the sea and the palace of Monaco, on the famous rock across the bay.


It’s worth paying the difference to get a sea view room; the view on the other side (of buildings) is less up-lifting.

Rates: From €182.70 ( approx. $200/ £150)

To book your stay visit:

Darius Sanai
Reading time: 3 min
Open restaurant kitchen with window showing chefs preparing food
sleek exterior of HIDE restaurant with glass windows reflecting the trees of the Green Park opposite

Hide sits in prime position on Piccadilly, overlooking Green Park

Michelin-starred chef Ollie Dabbous’ latest restaurant Hide is one of the hottest openings in London this year. A joint venture between the chef and Hedonism wines, Hide offers a dining experience for all the senses, says Digital Editor Millie Walton

Hide may seem like an ironic name for Ollie Dabbous’ new restaurant that sits on the north side of Piccadilly with almost entirely glass walls, but think of the name more in relation to a hunter’s hide, i.e. a camouflaged shelter used to observe wildlife and then, it doesn’t seem quite so ironic. The restaurant’s theme is nature; Hide Above is accessed by a spectacular wooden spiral staircase that takes the appearance of an ancient tree trunk, leading up to a floor of sparsely positioned tables that overlook Green Park.

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Open restaurant kitchen with window showing chefs preparing food

The partially open kitchen at Hide Above

We are led to a table in the far corner, right up against the glass. This could easily have been a moment for panic for both myself and my guest as we’re both wary of the exhibitionism of dining out, but surprisingly, we both find it a very relaxing place to be. It’s far enough from the neighbouring table so that we don’t feel that we’re being spied on and the elevation makes it feel removed and private.

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This has a lot to do with the restaurant’s atmosphere, which unlike a lot of restaurants in this part of London, is friendly, informal and welcoming. Our waiter – French, dressed in a beautiful cream linen apron to match the natural colour scheme (apparently designed by Dabbous’ mother) – is natural, funny and puts us instantly at ease. After gently placing my handbag on its own special stool – a touch which always makes me giggle – he hands us both a cream embossed box, which as, he has to explain, contains the menu. The Hedonism wine list comes on an iPad – it would take several people to carry a printed version to the table.

Waiter crouching to lift bottle from the wine cellar at hide restaurant

Inside the Hedonism wine cellar at Hide

Hide is a partnership by Ollie Dabbous and Yevgeny Chichvarkin (the owner of Hedonism) and together they have managed to create a multi-layered (quite literally) experimental fine dining experience. Each level of the restaurant has its own unique mood. Hide Ground is the sultry, cool hang-out, where you can order à la carte breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner – at night, when we arrive at the restaurant, its packed full of trendy fashionista types. Whilst Hide Below, the bar, is cosy and intimate with several private dining rooms tucked into cave like alcoves, and the Hedonism cellar. Our sommelier kindly gives us the grand tour, explaining that if there’s anything a guest wants and the restaurant doesn’t have it, they’ll order it in straight away from Hedonism round the corner. You have to admit, its a slick operation.

Hide Above is tasting menu only with the option of eight courses, or ten if you choose the Cornish fish courses. And it really is an incredibly beautifully space, with light wood tables, soft cream furnishings, textured walls and hanging lights which look like a broken egg shell with a gold leaf interior.

Read more: Dara Huang, Founder of Design Haus Liberty on the importance of balanced design 

plate of artistically arranged baby vegetables on a white plate with bread basket in background

To begin: a bowl of broth, raw vegetables accompanied by a tangy dip and bread basket. The dining experience is designed to be sensory and interactive in a use-your-fingers, mix-it-all-together kind of way, and aside from being completely delicious, it’s a lot of fun. This is followed by the most flavoursome avocado we’ve ever tasted, served with a light basil sauce and gooseberries, and the first of our wines: Samuel Billaud “Les Grands Terroirs” Chablis 2016. Dabbous is a master at pairing delicate flavours, and in a tasting menu – where it’s so easy to overdo it – you appreciate that skill even more. Then – one of our favourites – delightfully cold, cured wild salmon with crème cru (we have to restrain ourselves from lapping up the remains of the sauce) & Exmoor caviar, paired perfectly with LUNAE Colli di Luni Vermentino.

Dabbous’ famous dish: the nest egg ( an open-topped egg containing a scrambled, mushroom sauce, nestled into a bed of smokey hay) comes served in a black clay pot. The waiter lifts off the lid dramatically, to release the scent of wood-fires, setting us both reminiscing about winter, family evenings and all things cosy. Both Cornish fish courses are delicious (especially the sashimi) and the steamed turbot with nasturtium broth is one of all time favourite dishes for the surprising and delicate flavours.

detail image of fish fillet in bowl of green broth decorated with nasturtium

Tasting menu highlight: steamed turbot with nasturtium broth

Full, but not unpleasantly so, we welcome the (bright green) Garden Ripple ice cream which arrives on a large ice block containing frozen flowers. My dining partner asks, with wonder, whether they have a whole fridge full of these beautiful ice blocks and we’re shown to the kitchen to meet Dabbous himself, who opens a drawer containing said blocks whilst we both gush about the meal, and the wine, and the interiors until we’ve suitably embarrassed ourselves and everyone around us. We finish the meal with an elegant stick of liquorice decorated with golden marshmallow and a gold chocolate leaf.

Hide is well on its way to starry success (ehem, Michelin). Make sure to get in while you can, the waiting list is growing by the minute.

To book a table and view the menus visit:

Photography by James Houston

Reading time: 4 min
Luxury hotel pool area on the edge of Lake Geneva
Luxury hotel pool area on the edge of Lake Geneva

La Réserve’s outdoor pool area with sweeping views over the lake and the Alps

Why should I go now?

Switzerland’s lowland lake district has cast off its winter shroud of snow and ice, the sun is higher in the sky, and the green, flower-laden meadows by Lake Geneva contrast spectacularly with the still-white mountains lining the distance.

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La Réserve has the pleasant distinction of being a city resort hotel in the countryside. Ridiculously close to Geneva airport – a ten minute drive on average – it somehow escapes any aircraft noise, and is located in its own grounds on the edge of the city, with a big outdoor pool and garden area and a beautiful view across Lake Geneva towards Mont Blanc. It’s a 15 minute taxi ride to the centre of the city – or you can take the hotel’s own boat service along the lake, which is even quicker, and much more scenic.

La Réserve is part of a small, uber-chic group of hotels owned by the French entrepreneur Michel Reybier; other properties are outside St Tropez (with an unmatched view across the bay there) and two in Paris. Reybier also owns the legendary Bordeaux wine estate Chateau Cos d’Estournel, as well as numerous other businesses.

What’s the lowdown?

Michel Reybier has given La Réserve a contemporary, sexy opulence which is quite a contrast to Geneva’s traditional grande-dame luxury hotels like the Four Seasons; as you walk in, you are enveloped in oriental colours and a dark, mysterious vibe; it’s a hotel that makes you want to settle down immediately in the sprawling bar area (immediately in front of you as you walk in) with a bottle of Louis Roederer.

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Depending on when you make it to La Réserve, there is an extensive and thoroughly Cote d’Azur-like outdoor pool, bar, terrace and garden area with sweeping views towards the lake and the Alps. Geneva’s weather is not quite as reliable as St Tropez, but not to worry. The jewel in La Reserve’s crown is the huge, opulent spa area, with a significant indoor lap pool, and lots of space to relax – as well as the kind of super-gym you might expect from this kind of hotel, with a glass wall to ensure anyone walking past feels extra guilty.

Indoor spa swimming pool at luxury hotel

The spa indoor pool

Did we say the spa and pool area was the jewel in La Réserve’s crown? Wait – we meant the Chinese restaurant. In keeping with the Oriental vibe, Tsé Fung is a Michelin-starred restaurant with an extensive Cantonese menu and wine list including, as one would expect, an excellent array of Chateau Cos d’Estournel vintages. (The spicy elegance of Cos would be one of the few Bordeaux wines to be able to match a number of dishes on the menu.) The cuisine and ambience could have been lifted out of Hong Kong, together with its moneyed beau-monde clientele whispering sweet nothings to each other. We witnessed a young gentleman and young lady who had plainly been set up by their (presumably significant) Swiss families on their first arranged date; modesty prevents us from revealing any of their conversation, but let’s just say that LUX expects an invitation to their wedding.

Elegant oriental style restaurant interiors

Michelin-starred restaurant, Tsé Fung

Getting horizontal

Rooms continue the super-chic, Oriental vibe; we had a suite (which really was a suite, unlike some: two separate rooms) whose living room and balcony were just begging for some marriage proposal action (see above). The bathroom was huge and lavish, and everything felt like Valentine’s Day.

Luxury hotel room decorated in white and magenta

A Junior Suite with a terrace overlooking the lush gardens


La Réserve succeeds so spectacularly in being a resort hotel, relaxing all the senses and luring you to enjoy it, that if you are here on business (as we were) you might find it had to concentrate. Having said that, we just found it a fabulous tonic and a perfect concept for today’s always on, work/play traveller.

Rates: From CHF 550 (approx. €450/ £400 / $600 )

Darius Sanai

Reading time: 3 min
Wooden balcony overhanging a lush green mountainside with the ocean in the distance

Blue skies and sunshine: springtime is picture perfect in the Canary Islands

Why should I go now?

Spring sounds good in theory, but in much of the northern hemisphere it means grey and cold as business as usual. Europeans still need to fly long haul to have guaranteed warm sunshine – or do they? The Canary Islands are beautifully toasty at this time of year, and never too hot, although you have to choose carefully: the rain in this part of Spain can sometimes arrive on windward hillsides.

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This is where the Ritz-Carlton Abama comes in. Built in the style of a Moorish palace, on a steeply raking mountainside dropping into the Atlantic, it is on the sunniest, southwest facing coast of Tenerife, which also happens to be entirely unspoiled by the overdevelopment in other parts of the island. To one side, banana plantations rise up relentlessly towards the peak of Mount Teide, a snow-capped volcano which at nearly 4000m is as high as most of the significant Alps. To the other, the mountainside plunges off a cliff and onto a semi-private white sand beach on a protected cove, facing the wild volcanic island of La Gomera.

Pink domed roof of a building and the ocean seen through a window

Views through a window of the Ritz Carlton Abama Citadel and the volcanic island of La Gomera

Monarch butterflies flutter hello as you wander through the resort’s endless tropical gardens; Margaritas are mixed and and ice-cold draft beer is on tap next to all of the seven pools (and the beach); and the place is so spaced-out that you never feel overcrowded – and end up feeling very pleasantly spaced-out yourself.

What’s the lowdown?

The pool and beach action, or inaction, should be enough for anyone wanting a decompression from a long winter deal-making season. We enjoy sitting on a balcony facing out over the sea, looking at the ominous mountain shapes on Gomera turn a deep blue-green as the sun sets behind them and disappears, and a panoply of stars emerges – Tenerife is one of the best spots in the world for star-spotting, as it is so clear of pollution and light pollution.

But there is an enormous amount to do for active types: the hotel has its own championship golf course on the dizzying slopes leading up the volcano, with a vertical gain so dramatic that it can be noticeably chilly on the uppermost holes while the resort basks in sunshine. There are numerous tennis courts (and a tennis academy), a kids’ club with an extensive outside area and mini football/rugby pitch surrounded by tropical flowers, a series of interconnected ponds and water features filled with hundreds of decorative Koi carp, and then there’s the dining.

swimming pool surrounded by plush white sunbeds

The imperial terrace and swimming pool

Two of the hotel’s restaurants have Michelin stars, an exceptional achievement this far from the coast of Africa; M.B is run by celebrated Basque chef Martín Berasategui, and Kabuki is an outpost of two renowned Madrid restaurants of the same name and outdoes either for both cuisine and location. Situated halfway up the golf course, Kabuki has a terrace with dramatic views down over the resort and the ocean, and a Japanese menu tinged with touches of the local – local catches are used for the sushi and sashimi, and flavoursome Canary mini-potatoes integrated into the menu. The wine list is rich with hard-to-find small grower champagnes.

Read more: Luxury chalets and high altitude adventure in Chamonix

Our favourite restaurant of all, though, is not Michelin starred; it is the Mirador, an eagle’s nest situated on top of a cliff plunging straight down into the ocean. On the terrace, you feel like you are floating over the sea, and Mirador is so celebrated for its paellas that it runs its own school, teaching clients how to cook the perfect blend of lobster, mussels, clams, local fish, saffron, and al dente rice.

Getting horizontal

Rooms are large, and simply but tastefully furnished in keeping with the semi-tropical setting, with marble floors, floor-to-ceiling windows, and furniture and artefacts from west Africa, the nearest continent. Pay more for a room with a view out over the ocean.

Luxury hotel room with a balcony

A deluxe, adults only room in the Tagor Villas with an ocean view


If you’re travelling without kids and choose to dine within the family-friendly hotels in the centre of the complex, you might find more children around you than you care for; but otherwise, there are adult-only pools, and zones, and so much space around the grounds and facilities that you never feel overrun by other people’s offspring, unlike in many resorts at peak season. And outside peak season, you’ll have the place and views to yourselves. And while some rooms inside the main block have restricted views, if you choose a Villa in the grounds, you can walk out of your living room into your own gardens and pool area.

All in all, you could fly to the Caribbean or Indian Ocean and not have vistas, cuisine, and facilities to match. Believe us, we’ve done it.

Rates: From €245 + tax ( approx. £200 / $300 )

Darius Sanai

Reading time: 4 min