Mitre Peak, Milford Sound, New Zealand


Soft countryside, UK
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12 Apostles Hotel a Spa - a review by Kit Heathcock12 Apostles Hotel a Spa - a review by Kit Heathcock
12 Apostles Hotel & Spa, Cape Town, South Africa

by Kit Heathcock

A visit to 12 Apostles Hotel and Spa finds Kit Heathcock luxuriating in scents of fynbos, whether strolling in the wild mountain garden, at the food and wine pairing dinner in Azure restaurant, or next morning indulging in a signature treatment at the legendary spa ... read more

Atholplace, Sandton, Johannesburg - a review by Bridget McNultyAtholplace, Sandton, Johannesburg - a review by Bridget McNulty
Atholplace, Sandton, Johannesburg, South Africa

by Bridget McNulty

Make sure you have everything you need before you arrive at AtholPlace, because once you’re there you won’t want to leave, guaranteed ... read more

jtp hidden-gems
Private clifftop hotel on the Whale Coast, Hermanus

by Robyn Hodson

I’m having an affair with Birkenhead House. I think it may be real love. Like the sea air that drifts slowly along the patio, over the sparkling pool, through the wide-open doors, across the cool tiles and into each crevasse… then wafts over the luxurious interior of each beautiful room, keeping an eye on friends and lovers toasting their happiness – I dream of spiriting my way back and living there forever... read more

jtp hidden-gems
Elegant boutique hotel, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town

by Michelle Snaddon

This month, the grand old harbour engineer’s house at the V&A Waterfront, Cape Town, opened its gracious doors to guests after a ten-month restoration and refurbishment. With only six luxurious rooms, this new boutique hotel’s prime location should remain a best-kept secret ... read more

The Grand Daddy Hotel, Cape Town - a review by Bridget McNulty
The Grand Daddy Hotel, Cape Town

by Bridget McNulty

There have been whispers circulating the streets of Cape Town lately, about a mysterious new trailer park that’s taken residence on a rooftop in Long Street. The rumours are true, it turns out, and will lead you to one of the most unique hotels you’re likely to find anywhere in the country ... read more

Illyria House Hotel, Pretoria - a review by Bridget McNultyIllyria House Hotel, Pretoria - a review by Bridget McNulty
Illyria House Hotel, Pretoria

by Bridget McNulty

Walking into Illyria House is like walking back in time: with ancient tapestries and antiques, classical music and a lavish colonial atmosphere, Illyria literally lulls guests into the past. Bridget McNulty finds out why a stay at this Pretoria landmark could easily slip by in a dream-like state ... read more

One&Only Hotel, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town
One&Only, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town

by Bridget McNulty

A hidden gem in the middle of Cape Town’s bustling Waterfront? Bridget McNulty enjoys the luxury of stepping into a world of beauty and comfort at the newly opened One&Only ... read more


Ras Nungwi Beach Hotel, Zanzibar - dhowNew - Ras Nungwi Beach Hotel, Zanzibar
Ras Nungwi Beach Hotel, Zanzibar

by Riekie Human

Ras Nungwi, a jewel in Zanzibar’s crown, with pristine beaches, sumptuous seafood, watersports and sunset cruises. Riekie Human discovers that it is the perfect place to relax and unwind in laid-back luxury ... read more


Cotswolds Manor, Shipston on Stour, EnglandNew travel story by Robyn Hodson
Cotswolds Manor, Shipston on Stour

by Robyn Hodson

Cotswolds villages are utterly unmistakeable in character. Full of quirky, asymmetrical cottages made of golden limestone, they’re touched with medieval details and topped with mossy, sloping roofs ... read more

Waters Reach, Lerryn, CornwallWaters Reach, Lerryn, Cornwall
Waters Reach, Lerryn, Cornwall

by Robyn Hodson

Experience a sophisticated side of Cornwall free from fried fish and beach bums. Instead, enjoy sensational cooking, bracing walks, secluded beaches and the perfect pad from which to launch. Robyn Hodson sets off ... read more

The Artist's Beach House, WhitstableThe Artist's Beach House, Whitstable
The Artist's Beach House, Whitstable

by Robyn Hodson

This comfy seaside cottage, moments from the beach and the gentle lap of the sea, is the perfect weekend retreat for anyone needing a break from city living. Robyn Hodson puts her feet up ... read more


Turtle Beach Villas, St Kitts, CaribbeanTurtle Beach Villas, St Kitts, Caribbean
Turtle Beach Villas, St Kitts, Caribbean

by Robyn Hodson

The ultimate in romantic escapes awaits you in the Caribbean – four idyllic villas only metres from the shoreline of a sheltered tropical bay. Robyn Hodson dips her toes in ... read more


Estancia El Ombu, San Antonio de ArecoEstancia El Ombu, San Antonio de Areco
Estancia El Ombu, San Antonio de Areco

by Bridget McNulty

To experience authentic Argentine estancia life (in the most comfortable way possible), head to El Ombu, just outside Buenos Aires ... read more


Hotel das Cataratas, Iguassu Falls, BrazilHotel das Cataratas, Iguassu Falls, Brazil
Hotel das Cataratas, Iguassu Falls, Brazil

by Bridget McNulty

Every visitor to Brazil should see the extraordinary Iguassu Falls; every visitor to Iguassu Falls should stay at the Hotel das Cataratas. Bridget McNulty found out why ... read more

Introducing: Top Three Iguassu Falls Tours

Copacabana Palace, Rio de Janeiro, BrazilCopacabana Palace, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Copacabana Palace, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

by Bridget McNulty

Nothing says ‘timeless glamour’ quite like an all-white mansion sitting serenely on the edge of the famous Copacabana Beach. Bridget McNulty soaked up the style ... read more


Bali Pavilions, Sanur Bali, IndonesiaBali Pavilions, Sanur Bali, Indonesia
Bali Pavilions, Sanur Bali, Indonesia

by Bridget McNulty

Whether you’re actually on honeymoon, or just looking for a splash of romance in your life, Bali Pavilions is the perfect place to indulge in a large dose of romantic luxury. Bridget McNulty fell in love ... read more


Raffles Le Royal, Phnom Penh, CambodiaRaffles Le Royal, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Raffles Le Royal, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

by Bridget McNulty

Bridget McNulty experiences Phnom Penh in true Raffles style, and discovers it’s (very much) to her liking ... read more

Veranda Natural Resort, Kep, CambodiaVeranda Natural Resort, Kep, Cambodia
Veranda Natural Resort, Kep, Cambodia

by Bridget McNulty

In the peaceful seaside town of Kep lies a resort that has somehow managed to blend in with nature. Bridget McNulty spends some time at the Veranda Natural Resort and leaves feeling very relaxed indeed ... read more

Knai Bang Chatt, Kep, CambodiaKnai Bang Chatt, Kep, Cambodia
Knai Bang Chatt, Kep, Cambodia

by Bridget McNulty

Hidden down a small road in the tiny town of Kep lies what is arguably Cambodia’s most beautiful hotel. Bridget McNulty uncovers the beauty ... read more


Chakrabongse Villas, Bangkok, Thailand - a review by Bridget McNultyChakrabongse Villas, Bangkok, Thailand - a review by Bridget McNulty
Chakrabongse Villas, Bangkok, Thailand

by Bridget McNulty

Many places claim to be Bangkok’s best kept secret; Chakrabongse Villas actually is. Bridget McNulty lets the word out about this hidden treasure ... read more

Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi, Chiang Mai, ThailandMandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Mandarin Oriental, Chiang Mai, Thailand

by Bridget McNulty

Ever wondered what it was like to live in an ancient Thai city? Bridget McNulty spent a few nights at the Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi in Chiang Mai, and discovered ancient city living is very much to her liking ... read more

Metropolitan Bangkok, Bangkok, ThailandMetropolitan Bangkok, Bangkok, Thailand
Metropolitan Bangkok, Thailand

by Bridget McNulty

Bangkok is a city constantly abuzz, so it's a rare treat to find a haven of peace and tranquillity in its midst. Bridget McNulty discovers just that at the Metropolitan Hotel in Bangkok's Business
District ... read more

Dubai to New Zealand
Just the Planet reveals some of the world’s best-kept secrets. Romantic hideaways, luxury retreats, the dream hotels where you can relax and be pampered, places that you only usually find out about by word of mouth. Here our writers also find the the spots that the average tourist would never discover, sights that are off the beaten track, little known festivals in historic cities. Our writers have been there and felt passionately enough about their experience to share it with you.

Every month new articles will be added and the current gems will be archived, but will still be available for you to peruse in our Hidden Gems archive. Read now, dream and come back for the details when you are ready to live that dream.

Should you have suggestions for our research or ideas that you feel may be relevant to other travellers, please EMAIL US

We'd really like to hear from you.


The Grand del Mar Resort - golf course
The Grand del Mar Resort, San Diego, California

by Denise Hummel

Take Addison Mizner’s architectural style and surround it with a Tom Fazio-designed golf course bathed in year round southern California sunshine and you have the makings of perfection but a few miles from downtown San Diego ... read more


Pilgrimage Village, Hue, VietnamPilgrimage Village, Hue, Vietnam
Pilgrimage Village, Hue, Vietnam

by Bridget McNulty

Enjoy a wonderfully warm Vietnamese welcome at Pilgrimage Village in Hue. Bridget McNulty did, and left relaxed and refreshed, and eager for more ... read more


jtp hidden-gems
Desert retreat, just one hour from Dubai

by Mandy Allen

I didn’t really set out to like Dubai. Coming from Cape Town, a city where the sea and mountain are always within sight, I prefer my landscapes lush and engaging, not flat and sandy. That, and my virtuous, green tourist persona (like most travellers I have multiple personalities including the hedonistic tourist, the intellectual tourist, the materialistic, shopaholic tourist, the cultural tourist…) was quite disturbed by the level of development witnessed on our drive from the airport, through the centre of town and on into the desert. From the second we landed, my brain, which was switched to eco-conscious gear, couldn’t help but guesstimate just how much pollution and environmental damage was resulting from the unrelenting urban expansion of one of the Middle East’s most important hubs... read more


jtp hidden-gems
Kauri Cliffs, world-acclaimed golf course

by Denise Hummel

A long driveway is often an auspicious portent of things to come. When that driveway is the entrance to a 6,000-acre property of mandarine orange, kiwi, lemon and persimmon and acres of rolling hills, disturbed only by cattle and grazing sheep, the anticipation is heightened. One is hardly prepared, however, for the sight of the Lodge at Kauri Cliffs: the vista of an emerald sea, waves crashing on the white sand in the background, one hundred shades of green rolling hills of the world-acclaimed golf course making up the mid-ground and the gracious Manor House, with Georgian style wrap-around porch, the foreground. All this, just a one-hour flight from Auckland to nearby Keri Keri in the Bay of Islands... read more

jtp hidden-gems
Elegant manor house hidden away in Auckland

by Dennise Hummel

Rarely does one enter a property and feel immediately that fatigue or ill-humor evaporates on crossing the threshold. Such was my first impression of Mollies, an impression that turned from delight to profound appreciation as one day melted into the next. I entered after dusk, the entrance lavishly decorated with a combination of hydrangea and palm, up the limestone stairs and into the parlor. Hundreds of blue votives were glowing in the dining room, on the terrace and in the gracious parlor. Sights of old, greeting new: a steel and glass table, Perspex Philippe Starck Ghost chairs, revealing the limestone and oriental carpets below, period accents from an 18th century Swedish settee to a 19th century French portrait in pastel, a 17th century Swedish farm clock and the odd Tibetan or Chinese antique. Owner, Frances Wilson was poised at the Steinway baby grand; her husband, co-owner, Stephen Fitzgerald, nearby offering a crystal glass of Dom Perignon to a guest... read more

jtp hidden-gems
Huka Lodge, trout fishing paradise

by Dennise Hummel

What Kauri Cliffs is to golf, Huka is to trout fishing. One enters this converted 1937 New Zealand fishing lodge and if you are not a fisherman by fact, you will be by heart. One has only to pass the huge timbered Great Room, past the massive fireplace, aglow from morning to evening, to be taken in by the Waikato River, tree branches heavy with foliage dripping from the riverbank as if trying to drink from its waters. The sun’s rays burn through the morning mist, lifting the fog from the water's surface like slow motion steam from a kettle, the water swirling in odd currents as if trying to decide which way to go. Nearby Huka Falls beckons to be recognized in the distance a ten minute hike from the terrace... read more


jtp hidden-gems
Ikies, Santorini, romantic Greek island destination

by Dennise Hummel

It's true that when reviewing the most romantic place on earth, it is better visited with your husband or significant other, than with your children. However, timing is everything and the opinion I tender is shared by the sophisticated judgment of my sons Matthew and Alex, (ages 12 and 10) who, at this point in their careers as Junior Hotel Reviewers, said it all when they labelled Santorini and our beautiful hotel, Ikies, the most romantic place on earth... read more


jtp hidden-gems
Perfect base for hot-air balloon festival in Emilia Romagna

by Dennise Hummel

A vast portion of the town survives from the middle ages and in the off-season, before the arrival of eager tourists, a quiet morning walk in the pedestrian center, along the cobble-stoned streets, lined with brick and stone palazzos, will take you back hundreds of years to a less complicated existence. Now picture a crisp cool day in September and try to imagine the sky above that beautiful city filled with the dancing colors of hot air balloons. First one, then five, twenty, then thirty... read more