Danae Mercer

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I’ve done Sri Lanka a fair few times before, but I’ve never headed inland toward Kandy. That’s where you’ll find Santani Wellness, a luxury health retreat. This minimalist venue sits on an old tea plantation, nestled between rolling hills and rain-draped mountains. Getting there requires a four-hour flight from Dubai (we took FlyDubai, always cheap and cheerful), a five-hour drive up a mountain, and then a 10-minute tuk-tuk drive to the rooms…. Read More

Do you want to do Dubai on the cheap? Consider summer. Seriously. If you’re not that bothered about doing the outdoorsy stuff (hot air balloon rides, desert safaris, walking around Marina, breathing outside…), then think about visiting Dubai in the summer. Thanks to the overwhelming heat, the city grows quiet. Expats flee to cooler climes. Travellers don’t visit. And as a result, hotels slash their prices while adding in perks. There’s still… Read More

I’m not the best at researching a place before I go – an ironic trait for a travel journalist, but there we are. I think part of me likes the idea of a place being a bit of a mystery, particularly in this age of information saturation. It’s like going to a movie; if I read a review first, I can’t help but think about those words while watching the film. It… Read More

I am in a Middle East on the cusp of change. Two days ago, women in Saudi Arabia were allowed to drive for the first time. Here in Dubai, the country is trying to find ways to allow freelancers in and businesses to stay. Visas are being offered, extended, changed. Visas are often on my mind these days. I’ve resigned from my full-time role at the magazines. While I’m still handling them,… Read More

I get overwhelmed in crowds. I prefer silent spaces, spots where I can narrate my own little story while strolling along. Which means, basically, I’m a bit of an odd duck in big cities. Istanbul is no exception. This vibrant, picturesque spot (deemed the most ‘Instagramable city’ by quite a few blogs, because apparently that’s a thing) is teeming with people. There are crowds. Absolutely. Every. Where. Head to the 3,000 shops… Read More

The first time I interviewed Charlotte Roach, I was in my bed, a hot water bottle burning my stomach, exhausted, wanting nothing more than to turn off the phone and the keyboard and close my eyes, my brain, close it all. Instead I called a semi-stranger, a friend’s friend nicknamed Roach. The line kept breaking up. “I’m sorry,” she apologised from the start. “I’m on a train. Can you call me in a… Read More

Sometimes I wonder if I will ever get bored of Cambridge. Or if the charm will go away. If I’ll catch that train back and step off the platform and think finally, ultimately, that the wonder has gone. It hasn’t yet. It’s still one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to, one of the areas I love the most. I visited last weekend for meetings and friends. Here are… Read More

I’m in Scotland. My brain is exhausted and I’m nodding off even though it’s not yet 5pm. I’ve been counting the sheep outside the window. The journey was painless and painful in the same breath. I love traveling, so being in motion makes me happy regardless. Yet I arrived too early and the town was asleep, meaning I sat shivering in the train station waiting for the sun to creep up and… Read More

How to explain the splendor of a ball? The lights, the fireworks, the delicate press of feet against grass and under silk gowns, the swirling chaos of many stages, multiple stages, the temptation towards gluttony, the piles of food glistening under the stars, the way the college itself with all its old stone buildings sits lit up like a fatted calf, gleaming in reds and purples from the lights projected throughout it…… Read More

Note: This is part one of a series that highlights my time in India. I travelled there solo in the summer of 2010. Things have changed a lot, as have I, but here we go…  “Do you like to play dance?” Asked the police officer next to me, before nudging me forward, forward, and then forward again. “Dance! Dance!” Agreed the smiling faces of men and women. It was warm, joyful. Energetic…. Read More