Further Afield, a hand-picked collection of exclusively inclusive hotels

Further Afield was born out of a desire to create a collection of places to stay that welcomed every traveller regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation. The selection has broadened over the years but at its root remains a commitment to providing the demanding traveller with inclusive accommodation options and useful recommendations. Mr Hudson speaks to David Matthews, Strategic Director, about his passion and vision for the brand and some of his favourite places.

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Tell us about yourself

Born and raised in the West Country (the UK’s most beautiful region… ) after education I lived in London for almost 20 years where I worked in a range of communications and marketing roles and travelled as much as possible. I took a year out as I turned 31 – early mid-life crisis maybe… – and travelled through South America, Australia and South East Asia. In 2011 I moved to Spain and Myles and I opened Almohalla 51, a boutique B&B in rural Andalucia. Through that business, I became aware of Further Afield and got to know its founders Simon and Andrew, two of the kindest, loveliest men you can meet. Four years ago they passed the mantel to me and I’m now blessed to be the curator of this collection of wonderfully inclusive places to stay.

David Matthews

Almohalla 51, Andalusia, Spain

“Further Afield was founded with a simple mission; to create a collection of places to stay which recognise the importance of inclusivity and welcome to all guests”

What is Further Afield’s mission?

Further Afield was founded with a simple mission; to create a collection of places to stay which recognise the importance of inclusivity and welcome to all guests. It seems simple right? But 10 years later we’re still hearing stories of guests being made to feel uncomfortable on grounds of their sexuality, race or beliefs and we want to bring together hosts who see no grounds for this. Beyond that, we also curate with a sense of style, insistence on quality and joy in individuality.

Where did you go on your latest trip? 

The last long haul trip I did was to the North Island of New Zealand where Nik and I hiked, partied and ate incredibly well! It’s such an amazing country, full of so much history and natural beauty. Living in Spain it’s also easy to do lots of “trips” and my latest was to stay in Vejer de la Frontera, right down on the southern tip of Spain where you can experience some of the best cuisine and stay in some fabulous places. One of the partners I’m lucky enough to work with is Hotel V… in the heart of the old town there. Its owner, Jean, has created a true retreat from the world there. It’s lovely.

Tongariro NP, New Zealand | Photo: Laura Smetsers

Hotel V, Vejer de la Frontera, Spain

Where in the world have you felt happiest?

That’s such a hard question, but there are two places that bring me simple joy. The El Torcal national park just inland from Malaga has an otherworldly terrain of limestone rocks weathered into the most stunning shapes. The views are wonderful and time your visit correctly and you never see anyone else and you can immerse yourself in the open skies and fresh air. The other is in Dorset where I was born. Head to Eggardon Hill with its Iron Age hill fort and be wind whipped as you traipse across fields and soak up that expanse of rolling countryside with views down to the coast.

What destination has lived up to the hype?  

I loved Kerala in Southern India. The vibrancy of the people, the architecture and of course the cuisine. There’s such a diverse set of experiences there and being punted down a canal in the backwaters would feature in my Top 10 travel experiences.

What destination hasn’t?

Described by Rough Guide as having “22km of creamy-white sands and cerulean waters” when we headed to Cayo Coco on Cuba we were somewhat underwhelmed and weren’t perhaps prepared for the hotels which clog that coastline. Loved Havana and Trinidad though. Incredible.

Kozhikode Beach, Kerala, India | Photo: Arun Geetha Viswanathan

“Explore and experience how other people live and to be reminded of the diversity and beauty of the world”

What is it about travel that you enjoy most?

The opportunity to escape the everyday. To explore and experience how other people live and to be reminded of the diversity and beauty of the world. And eating. I love trying new cuisine.

Which is your favourite city and what makes it so special?

Ok. So, I’m a bit biased perhaps but London for me is just such an incredible city. After living there for 20 years I get to return as a tourist now and there are few cities that can rival its diversity, its culture or its cuisine. Spend a day walking its streets or riverside walkways, or visiting the hugely varied museums and galleries before trying some of the best world food you can find. I still love it.

London Skyline

Describe a favourite childhood holiday memory

I was about seven I guess and our parents told my sister and I that we were going camping, but we ended up at the ferry terminal in Weymouth and sailed to the channel islands for a week. Just that simple excitement and our parents’ joy at having kept it secret set the tone for a lovely week. But it was the 1970s in the UK and I remember our B&B had a severe woodlice problem. That kind of thing stays with you…

Tell us about a great little place you know

It’s not the easiest island to get to, but Syros in the Greek islands is an unspoilt and beautiful spot. Another Further Afield partner is Terezdina who, with her family, runs Pino di Loto Boutique B&B. Theirs is a warm and personal style of hostings, the rooms bright and airy and the terraces have amazing views down to the sea. Cocktails on the terrace as the sun slowly sets on a summer’s evening are not to be missed.

Syros, Greece | Photo: Despina Galani

Pino di Loto 3, Syrus, Greece

“I jumped off the side of a boat on my 32nd birthday during a trip to The Galápagos Islands”

What is the best hotel you’ve stayed at?

It’s now The Surin Phuket now, but I stayed there when it was The Chedi. It’s in the most incredible location, with stunning views, individual (and huge) bungalows, top notch service and amazing food.

I lost my heart in… 

I’m choosing to approach this as travel question rather than one a therapist might ask.. and that would be when I jumped off the side of a boat on my 32nd birthday during a trip to The Galápagos Islands. Almost immediately we were surrounded by seals who swam and played with us for 15 minutes before swimming away and leaving me in a state of total bliss. Truly amazing.

Have you ever stolen anything from a hotel?

Stolen is a very strong word… I may have filled my glass twice from an honesty bar and only paid for one. Maybe. Just once.

Who is the most interesting person you’ve met while travelling?

So, I’m not the most social of travellers. You know there are those people who always come back from holiday with a set of new friends. That’s not me. But I did meet a fascinating tour guide in India whose insights as we toured the slums of Mumbai opened my eyes to the lives and stories that made it such a unique corner of a unique city.

Phuket, Thailand | Photo: Bradley Prentice

Mumbai, India | Photo: Yash Bhardwaj

“Not everyone welcomes us as freely as they should and that’s why Further Afield and other channels exist”

What is your best-kept travel secret?

After booking anywhere a few days before arrival I email the place I’m staying with a simple question, the reply to which opens up the opportunity to start a dialogue and by being utterly charming(!) it’s amazing what you sometimes get in return. My best was an upgrade to a suite with a butler on a trip to Mexico.

Any tips for gay travellers?

For me travelling as a gay man shouldn’t be any different to travelling as anyone else, but I am a firm believer in educating oneself on the attitudes and beliefs of a country you’re visiting and being respectful of those. Not everyone welcomes us as freely as they should and that’s why Further Afield and other channels exist, but if you choose to visit those countries then you make a decision to abide by their culture. Or simply choose not to visit them.

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