Fiona Duncan, Hotel Critic

Today I’m joined by the UK’s leading hotel critic, Fiona Duncan. Fiona has been writing about and reviewing hotels for 35 years. She began her career writing travel guides before launching her own book series with her husband The Charming Small Hotels Guides back in the 1980s.

In the late 90s she was asked to write about hotels for the Telegraph, which she continues to this day, with a weekly hotel column in the Sunday Telegraph. They call her the Hotel Guru, Country & Town House Magazine call her the Hotel Wizard, for which she is also travel editor and the editor of their great British hotels guide.

I spoke to Fiona last week in London, and it was so lovely to reconnect with her - Fiona has been a real mentor to me as a travel writer, which has been life changing to be honest, and I’ve learnt so much from her, so this episode means a lot to me. It also means a lot to finally have a female guest on this season, I wanted to have a completely gender balanced season this time, and just the way things have panned out annoyingly with people’s availability and covid, that just hasn’t been possible. But next week also we have fantastic female guest joining us which I’m really looking forward to as well. 

This is an episode for hotel lovers, Fiona has visited well over 600 of them just for her column alone, and if you’re looking for recommendations here in the UK and in Europe, she has some great tips to share, and ones that won’t break the bank too.


  • Orient Express to Venice 
  • Le Sirenuse, Positano, Italy 
  • Seaview, Isle of Wight, England
  • Mallorca, Spain
  • Antigua and the Caribbean
  • Formentera, Spain
  • Gecko Beach, Formentera, Spain
  • Hambleton Hall, Rutland, England
  • Gravetye Manor, West Sussex, England
  • Langar Hall, Nottinghamshire, England 
  • The Lamb at Shipton-Under-Wychwood, Oxfordshire, England
  • Glebe House, Devon, England
  • The Goring Hotel, London, England 
  • Howtown Hotel, Ullswater, England 
  • Santa Catarina, Amalfi Coast, Italy
  • Locanda Cipriani, Venice, Italy 
  • Limewood, New Forest, England 
  • Lake Nagin, Kashmir, India
  • Gulmarg, India
  • Villa Mahal, Kalkan, Turkey 
  • The Fish Shack, Kalkan, Turkey
  • Kathmandu, Nepal
  • Tiger Tops, Nepal
  • Mexico
  • Ravenna, Italy 
  • Georgia
  • Transylvania
  • Koufonisia, Greece
  • Amorgos, Greece 

Thank you so much for listening today. 

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To find out who’s joining me on next week’s episode, come and follow me on Instagram, I’m @hollyrubenstein - I’d love to hear from you. 

If you can’t wait until then, there’s always the first four seasons to catch up on, with guests from Michael Palin and Heston Blumenthal, to Sir Ranulph Fiennes to Hugh Bonneville.

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