Monday, August 22, 2011

Top Tip Tuesday - The Mini-Break

This week I have holidays on my mind, and I have decided to do a special feature on getaways. Hong Kong isn't exactly the kind of place where you can jump in the car on a Friday afternoon and head to the coast for the weekend. People do, but their idea of the coast is South Lantau and since we live there, it's not exactly our idea of a break. While there's something quite appealing about needing a passport to go just about anywhere else, I've always found it slightly frustrating that short road trips are out of the question. This week I thought I'd do a quick list of places for parents to escape to, without the kids. We've only done this once (see April Antics and Modern Dilemmas) and it was well worth the angst it caused in the lead-up. I really enjoyed having a meal with my husband while wearing nice shoes, waking up when we felt like it, and having adult conversations. Of course I was desperate to get home again but another parent mini-break is on the cards before we become a family of four. If you can't bear to be away from your little ones for a night or two, all of the places I've listed would also be nice if you took them along, but a little less romantic...

Macau - Not overly romantic unless you're into casinos and smoking Chinese men around every corner, but Macau is far enough away that you do feel like you've gotten away, but close enough that you could be back home in under 2 hours if you needed to be. We stayed at the Venetian when we visited, but I'm very keen to check out the new Galaxy (especially the Spa) at some point. Ferries run every half hour throughout the day and if you're feeling really indulgent and romantic, there's also a helicopter service. Make sure you make the effort to visit the old town and experience some of the local culture.

Hanoi - Hanoi (Vietnam) is one of my favourite places in the world. We've been there a few times now and we've seen different sides to it each time, it's a truly fascinating place. Hanoi is only an hour and a half flight from HK and there are several flights a day. I should mention that you will probably need a visa to enter the country, so there's no room for spontaneity, but really, how often can you be spontaneous these days? There are many, many accommodation options with hugely varying prices and standards but for a couples retreat you can't go past the Sofitel Metropole, the best hotel I have ever had the good fortune to stay in. It's tucked away in a quiet part of the Hoan Kiem district, but it's walking distance from all the action of the markets, street stalls and the beautiful Hoan Kiem Lake. But you may not want to leave the hotel...

Singapore - Singapore is similar to Hong Kong in a lot of ways, but so different in others. The Singaporeans do luxury very, very well, and with the city being only 2 hours flight from HK it's a tempting option. Wherever you stay, must-do activities include: a trip to the awesome Singapore Zoo, shopping on Orchard Road, dinner at Clarke Quay and a Singapore Sling at the gorgeous Raffles Hotel. Or book a night at the Marina Bay Sands and stay right where you are until it's time to go home.

Phuket/Bali - While I love the idea of lazing on a beach without a sandy little hand dragging me down to the water (actually, I lie, I love the sandy little hand!), a trip to Phuket (3.5 hours) or Bali (4 hours) might be too far for some, especially if you're leaving little ones behind. We had a weekend in Phuket a few years ago (Friday to Sunday) and it was lovely. The only downside was leaving on Sunday afternoon while our friends were still in the pool, getting home at 11pm and having to work the next day... However, there are loads of hotels catering for couples (check out and the flight schedules do allow for a decent break if you choose to just go for a weekend. If an afternoon nap, a lazy swim, dinner and cocktails on the beach, a sleep in and a leisurely brunch before your late afternoon flight sound worth the 4 hour flight, then these are definitely great places to try.

Hong Kong - Believe it or not, it is possible to have a mini-break right here in our hometown. I know a couple who routinely book a night at a nice hotel in the city just to catch up and get a good night's sleep. If it's a special occasion and you can afford to splash out try the Peninsula, Intercontinental, Four Seasons, Mandarin Oriental or the Island Shangri-La. Whether you're pressed for time or you just hate the idea of being in a different city to your kids, a romantic 'staycation' might be the answer. For great hotel deals check out

As I said, this mini-break concept is new to me, so I'd love to hear from you if you have any other ideas or recommendations. Here's hoping some of you are inspired and find some useful information here!

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