Travel Inspiration By A Pro Trip Designer

Striped Basque – Espadrille Hunting in France

Shopping, Travel Tips


Artiga Linens

Artiga Linens

With the fever for the woven-bottomed shoe at an all time high, I couldn’t help but do a little Espadrille canvassing (pun intended) of my own when visiting France’s Basque region a few weeks ago. Derived from the Catalan name for the shoes, espardenya, the espadrille has been made on the French side of the border since the 14th century. Although many of the better known shops export globally (Pare Gabia, for example), I was intent on finding a boutique with a signature Basque flair, ensuring my shoes would meet stares of envy along with distinct ‘foreign-flair’.

What I found was the charming, colorful boutique, unlike many manufacturers that have taken their production abroad, Artiga still fabricates everything in southwest France, earning it the distinguishing Origine France Garantie label. Age-old Basque materials like pure cotton and a sturdy linen-cotton blend are now employed in everything from colorful striped table linens, deck chairs, and sun hats, tote bags and change purses.

But when it comes to the espadrille, ask and ye shall receive. Artiga makes three different types: the traditional peasant-shoe style, a newer ballerina flat with a shorter top cut as well as a heeled wedge. For the classic, I recommend the Castilian espadrilles, so patriotic in red, blue and white. For the modern lass, the ballerina cut has a more feminine feel not to mention a more flattering shape on the food while summery Menditte fabric is guaranteed to garner an envious second glance. When you want great design service, visit

Artiga Maison, St. Jean de Luz, 13 rue Garat, 64500, St. Jean de Luz

Posted in: Shopping, Travel Tips

Published by Meg, Friday, May 11, 2012 No Comments

Tablet Hotels and Me

Personal or Promotion


It’s official. I’ve gone back to full-time work. My new job is to help lead the editorial team at Tablet Hotels. And, if my recent introduction (see post below lifted from Tablet’s beautiful blog, Tablet Talk) to the Tablet community is any indication of future treatment, not to mention, encouraged hotel opinions, well, then it looks like a great match!

Screen shot 2011-11-15 at 10.29.36 PM

There’s a new member to the ever-expanding Tablet family, and we thought it best to introduce you to her here.

Meg Nolan van Reesema is a hotel expert through and through, with so many hotel stays under her belt, she’s starting to lose count (450? 500?). After working on the editorial staffs of magazines such as Town & Country, Vanity Fair and Travel + Leisure Golf, she became a freelance travel writer, blogger and author, publishing three books (Caribbean Hideaways, Italian Hideaways, and most recently, England’s Hideaways) with Rizzoli.

She’s traveled the world (43 or so countries), scouting true hotel gems and their enviable locations. So why keep that kind of knowledge under wraps? Despite her reluctance towards the word “favorite,” we asked her to select a few of her top spots below:

Cape Grace Hotel
Cape Town, South Africa
“From the rooftop spa to the in-your-face Table Mountain view, plus a few indulgent extras like a mahogany-laden cigar bar, multi-course tasting menus (vegan versions too!) and a gleaming motor yacht for champagne sundowner cruises, coddling one’s jet-lag knows no better home. That, and even the standard rooms’ dressing area and bathrooms offer the most comfortable layout I’ve seen yet.”

Villa Fontelunga
Siena, Italy
“With natural entertainers Paolo, Simon and Philip as hosts, throwing impromptu family-style dinner parties and low-key cocktail gatherings on the celeb pokies back lawn, Fontelunga has an inviting, social air. So when you pair that inclusive spirit with the setting of a historic, rose-colored Villa, or the more mod, tangential villas, the makings of a memorable, if not cinematic, evening are assured.”

Meg's booksRelais La Suvera
Siena, Italy
“What can I say? I’m a sucker for hotels that make me wish for time travel, or at least a grand, eighteenth-century, soiree to attend. With an enormous aviary in the courtyard, a fragrant lemon-tree garden and a ballroom with balconies overlooking the Tuscan countryside, the setting is complete. Plus, the breakfast buffet features silver serving trays and crystal glasses.”

Jade Mountain
Soufriere, St. Lucia
“Easily, it is one of the most architecturally astounding hotels in the Caribbean. The open-air, panoramic views render requests for ‘ocean view’ amusing, while the ‘dojo,’ or personal butler, policy, full-feature spa and sunrise yoga ensure the pampering box is boldly checked. It’s also where I was introduced to  jungle-biking, a remarkably challenging adventure through tangled, muddy paths alongside remnants of a 17th-century rum plantation.”

Covent Garden Hotel
London, England
“Rarely has a hotel married the concept of private and public space as well as Covent Garden and smack in an enviable urban location. It satisfies the need to meet people for coffee and then squire away in solitude with a book in the cozy library. Plus, the suites actually deliver on their elevated stature and make one feel truly special.”

Hotel Oceana
Santa Barbara, California
“I may be slightly influenced by memory and our exceptional service (it’s where my husband proposed), but I’m fairly certain I was smitten with its beachfront location, laidback buffet breakfast, affordable price and adorable pool cabanas before the question was popped.”

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Posted in: Personal or Promotion

Published by Meg, Tuesday, November 15, 2011 No Comments

about meg

About Meg


Meg is the founder of luxury travel consulting company, Friend of a Friend Consulting. Her three books, Italian Hideaways, Caribbean Hideaways and England's Hideaways are published by Rizzoli. Passionate about travel, hotels and wine, she continues to write freelance travel pieces and is currently pursuing a Masters in Wine through the WSET.

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The opinions expressed on this blog are solely my own and do not reflect separate business relationships with the subject. Whenever posts are supported financially, they are designated as such.