Central Restaurant, Lima, Peru
Ranked at #4 on The World’s 50 Best Restaurant List, serious foodies will find the trek to Central Restaurant in Lima, Peru well worth it to dine at one of the most renowned restaurants in South America, and perhaps the world. Run by top chef and owner Virgilio Martínez, the restaurant is featured on the Netflix documentary series Chef’s Table.
The biodiverse menu is highlighted by an 11-course meal paired with wine tastings. The courses range from vegetarian — think quinoa, chili pepper, roots and tubers — to imaginative mini-portions that oft resemble fossil-copulates-with-deep sea-creature, such as kushuru — hmmm…cyanobacteria anyone? — to beds of edible sea sponge, and photogenically memorable shark-tooth-filled piranha head. Something to write home about, as people used to say in the days before photos replaced words
Skrova Fishing Center, Norway
Skrova is part of the Lofoten archipelago in pristine and lovely Norway. When volcanoes erupt from the ocean floor, clusters of islands called archipelagoes form (like the Bahamas and Hawaii for instance). Such a geological event hundreds of millions of years ago produced Skrova’s unique views of surrounding islands and cliffs. From the shores of this Norwegian isle, you might find neighboring mountains look bizarre.
Wholesome and picturesque, Skrova, population approximately 200, is an opportunity for fresh air and silence. You will not find urban excitement, but a dramatic change of view, literal and metaphorical. Fish caught by the locals around you is a wise meal choice.
A ferry chugs back and forth from the larger town of Svolvær. In a 2018 interview, environmental activist Greta Thunberg said, “Skrova is the hippest place to be. If you’re not in Skrova, you ain’t at my level.” We’re kidding. We have no idea if Greta Thunberg has ever visited this wholesome archipelago, but maybe she has. She’d love it.
Apartment Hotel, Japan
While most Japanese hotels are associated with sleek, minimalist style, the MIMARU Apartment Hotel group offers something a little different: one ninja-themed and several Pokémon-themed rooms spread across some of their 17 properties in Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka. With Pokémon-themed decor, a giant plush Snorlax and Poké Ball-patterned bedding, the rooms are enchanting for kids and adults alike. Guests receive a goodybag of unique Pokémon merchandise exclusively available at the hotel and can eat meals off Poké Ball-patterned cutlery. Visitors looking for a more refined theme can book the Ninja Room. Designed in collaboration with the Japan Ninja Council, this unique room takes guests back to Japan’s feudal past. Accommodating up to eight guests, the Ninja Room is outfitted with ninja scrolls, ninja paintings, shuriken stars and decorative throwing knives. Complete with a full kitchen and a sushi counter, the suite has an ideal setup for in-room sushi parties.
The Pokémon rooms are available at five different locations throughout Tokyo and Kyoto, while the Ninja Room is exclusively available at MIMARU’s Ueno Okachi Machi location in Tokyo.
Parco Aurunci, Italy
A gloriously protected Nature Park in Lazio, Italy, Parco Aurunci is the place for, among other things, bat viewing, where 21 species of this flying mammal are a chiropterologist’s dream park. Cliffs and sea make for a spectacular hike on well-marked trails that top out at 4,000 feet. Hire a guide to hike or bike through this pristine Aurunci mountain park and weave through a forest of maple and oak and a seasonal rotation of flora and fauna. At the end of the day, reward yourself with a sleep at the romantically named hotel, And…The Moon Rises, where traditional fare awaits in the nearby medieval village of Campodimele.
Japamala Resort, Tioman Island, Malaysia
A rustic eco-luxe resort, Japamala was built where the rainforest tumbles down to the South China Sea on Tioman Island, 20 miles off the coast of southeast Malaysia. It was used as a backdrop to the musical South Pacific and listed as one of the most beautiful islands in the world by Time magazine during the 1970s. When Time magazine meant something.
Tioman Island is a 13-mile long nature reserve, green and mountainous for the most part, dense with lush jungle, and populated with monitor lizards, giant flying red squirrels, monkeys swinging through the vines, an array of large insects, magical birds, and curious salamanders.
You’ll be welcomed with an icy lemongrass drink at the Japamala Resort, where you can stay in a luxury secluded treehouse in the 150 million-year-old rainforest with views down to the white sand beach and aquamarine waters. This place is a secret paradise. There are 16 unique chalets and seven villas built around and among the flora and fauna, with a consciousness to preserving the forest and the rocks, (your bathroom wall may be a large boulder, be warned/excited).
Start the day with a signature Japamala espresso infused smoothie and you can jungle trek, kayak, snorkel, scuba dive — there are beautiful coral, many diverse fish (it’s a marine reserve so the fish are protected), stingrays and turtles. You can take boat trips around the perimeter of the island, spend long days on the beach, visit the local kampungs (Malay for villages). There are biking trails, and a Turtle Project you can visit on the east side of the island, but at the end of the day you can enjoy a cocktail in the treetop canopy bar watching the sunset over the South China Sea. Did we mention it’s romantic…?
There are three restaurants to satisfy your culinary delights including the Tamarind restaurant, which offers Vietnamese and Thai delicacies; and the Italian restaurant, Il Tempio, will perfectly grill your sea bass or steak, plus they host an impressive wine list for the jungle. Mandi-Mandi is a cocktail bar set over the water where you can sip on a creative beverage at sunset and dine, weather permitting.
The resort has two pools and a spa, where you can receive facials or soothing Javanese massages with pure essential oils. There’s also a boutique in case you forget your sarong. You’ll never want to leave!
To get to Japamala Resort you have to take a boat from Mersing on the east coast of Malaysia. Although it is possible to fly into the island, it has to be specially arranged, and it’s via a twin-prop plane from Singapore, where you’ll land on a strip in the jungle feeling like Indiana Jones. Or a drug dealer.
But anyway, the boat trip is lovely.
The best time to visit is March thru October, and then monsoon season begins, which can be amazing in a whole other way.
Children are not allowed, so leave them at home. We know you love your kids, but this place just got a whole lot more romantic, didn’t it?
Moseley Road Baths, Birmingham, UK
When you think about public baths in England, the city of Bath with its Roman baths springs most automatically comes to mind. But the Moseley Road Baths opened in 1907 as one of the many Public Baths and Wash Houses established during that period to improve public health, since not many homes then had a water supply. Now it is one of the few remaining public baths still open to the public. In the last 20(ish) years the building, which is a Grade II listing by Historic England, has been restored and renovated inside and out, and the heating and power systems have been retrofitted with energy-efficient systems.