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Last updated: 31 January 2024

A year in pictures to inspire your 2024 travels

From traditional teahouses in Kyoto and snow-blanketed cabins in Swedish Lapland to palm-fringed villas on Brazil’s Cocoa Coast, our brand content team surfed, sledded, and snapped their way around 20 boutique hotels in eight different countries throughout 2023. Here, our Head of Social & Brand Content, Abi Tottenham-Smith, and photographer Kira Turnbull look back at their favourite images from an epic globe-traversing year.

Abi’s picks

One of my favourite shots from our visit to Barracuda Hotel & Villas in Brazil – it encapsulates the laid-back feeling of the hotel and the breath-taking views. We managed to quickly grab our videographer, Ben, to be our impromptu model and he nailed the posing.

We were lucky enough to join in a number of incredible initiatives which Barracuda sponsor as part of the Yandê Itacaré Institute. This particular project, Surfing for the Future, hosts surfing lessons for local children. This image captures a really pure moment after the kids had just finished their surfing session and gathered around the instructor. Our photographer and videographers got in the waves with them and captured some beautiful footage, but this frame really shows the passion of the volunteer instructor.

This is the lovely gardener João at Barracuda. He was such a kind and gentle soul who took great pleasure in showing us all the fruits of his team’s labour – particularly this cacao fruit which he grew. Just after this was taken we all enjoyed a taste – you suck the fleshy pulp from around the cacao bean, which is absolutely delicious.

The family behind Barracuda were so welcoming and generous throughout our stay. One afternoon, we joined the whole family on a boat ride over to their special spot in Itacaré. It was a short journey to an island inlet where the family usually go on a Sunday to swim, paddle board and cook their famous moqueca on the fire. This image is of the family’s daughter prepping the meal over the open fire. We enjoyed the delicious meal all together and then sat around the camp fire until late.

You can get a feel for the gorgeous interiors and ocean views from this cosy reading nook at Kenoa – Exclusive Beach Spa & Resort, a beautiful barefoot-style hotel on Brazil’s north-east coast.

This photo needs no explanation really…we were lucky enough to experience a safari during our shoot at Hemingways Nairobi and got up close to two lions – it was my first time seeing a lion in its natural habitat and it was a very special and magical moment.

I love the simplicity of this shot. Kira managed to capture this idyllic moment on her drone as we were flying it above the coastal area surrounding The Plettenberg, an oceanfront hotel along South Africa’s Garden Route. The shadows, the light, the colour of the sea – everything comes together so wonderfully.

We worked with a beautiful local model, Tomomi, for our shoot in Kyoto who came in her traditional kimono. This photo was taken right outside of Sowaka, a restored ryokan with jade-green courtyards and long corridors designed to evoke the city’s alleyways. It was a boiling hot day and the kimono was made up of multiple layers and was very warm, but Tomomi was very gracious and kept going until we got the shots!

Kira’s picks

There are times when you’re travelling where you can’t remember the name of the place, but you remember every second of the experience. Abi and I were searching for opportune photo spots in the sprawling city of Tokyo and stumbled upon a beautiful temple (we had taken a taxi to the wrong one), though it ended up being a happy accident. This was the very first temple I’d ever been to during my first trip to Japan. It was a hidden gem and a place of respite amidst one of the biggest cities in the world. As we were roaming around trying to find shade from the high noon heat, I spotted an older man sitting on a rock, peacefully painting the temple. He was so calm and serene – I had to capture how I too felt in that moment.


I fell in love with food before I fell in love with travel. It just so happens that my love of photography, food and travel melded together beautifully into something I’ve been lucky enough to call a career. My favourite thing about capturing restaurants or dishes is that they can define and identify a city or country without having to show anything else in the frame, and that’s what this photo does. The team had just arrived in Kyoto and we immediately dropped our bags and headed to the oldest soba-making restaurant in the city. Once a soba house for the emperor, the professional noodle connoisseurs are still using the same recipe centuries later. We were whisked to our wooden table behind a shoji screen, and then the soba along with all of its accoutrements arrived. I saw Abi and Jemima pulling their noodles to slurp and grabbed a quick frame before devouring my plate as well.


It’s one of those photos that also carries a tune. When you look at the sunset shot over the iconic beach, you immediately hear The Girl from Ipanema lulling in the distance. Abi and I had just finished a long day photographing the Rio neighbourhoods and sat down for fresh coconut water. I saw these boys playing football by the waves and dashed down to the shore. I love how the silhouette of the ball is quite defined and leads your eye to the mountain in the distance. It makes you want to run over and join the fun.

Barracuda Hotel & Villas

When you think of the epitome of tropical paradise, it’s here – at Barracuda in Itacaré. There’s something peaceful about the images and also alluring. I wanted to show part of the window to frame the image and also entice the viewer to look into the distance from the tall trees in the foreground to the beach and hills beyond.

I always love a good vignette when on a shoot and this set up at Hemingways Nairobi has become one of my favourites. We had borrowed a safari shirt from the hotel shop for one of the models to use and I had then placed it on the back of the chair. I was photographing the room and noticed that the desk was perfectly framed by the mosquito netting over the bed. I rushed to grab some old books and my other camera to set the scene. It makes you picture Ernest Hemingway or Karen Blixen stepping out of the frame just briefly and grabbing binoculars to spot a bird on the window sill.

Cape Town

This photograph captures the immense size of the boulders along the Cape Town coastline. It was a beautiful winter’s day in the Mother City and as soon as we spotted the amazing structures, we had our model race over and offered to leap from one boulder to the next. I enjoy the play of scale with this image and how just rocks on a beach can become an interesting photograph.

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