Laila Ram, co-founder of award winning travel site, i-escape.com, shares some favourite sites.

Laila Ram is co-founder of the award-winning boutique hotel and travel site, i-escape.com. Loved for its beautiful imagery, honest reviews (that list what's good and bad about each property) and cool thank you gifts for booking through the site, this hand-picked collection of boutique hotels, villas and B&Bs has become the first port of call for travellers looking for a hip hideaway.

Laila and her best friend Nikki Tinto first launched i-escape.com in 2001, with hotels they had discovered during their travels together. It has since grown to over 1,500 amazing places to stay across the world, including a unique family-friendly collection, and has a bespoke booking service.

LAILA'S FAVOURITE SITES

We Heart - This is my go-to for keeping up with the latest in design, culture, music, travel and fashion. It features such an eclectic mix of places and events - from a beach-style deli in Parsons Green to a new sculpture tour of Amsterdam – and every post is enhanced by plenty of gorgeous images. It’s great to dip in and out of, prompted by its snappy posts on Twitter and Facebook, and I’ll easily lose an hour flicking between articles.

Rockett St George - A brilliant online homewares boutique selling a quirky range of contemporary and vintage items. It’s wonderful for design inspiration and never fails to produce the ideal one-off gift for a friend’s birthday or wedding. It has a vast array of items ranging from handmade jewellery to contemporary art prints, and there’s a great kids range, too. I always look forward to its monthly Hot List newsletter, which is full of tips on places to eat, upcoming events, must-see films and unmissable websites.

Pinterest - Great for anyone who’s visually minded, Pinterest can be very addictive. We pride ourselves on using beautiful imagery in our hotel reviews so it’s perfect for sharing our favourite hotel photos and new additions to the site. We’ve also run some successful Pinterest competitions and have been amazed by the amount of creativity people put into their entries. Lots of our team use Pinterest on a personal level too, cultivating travel ideas as well as fashion, interior design and even wedding boards.

In Your Pocket - I couldn’t do a website round-up without including something travel focused. I love these cheeky little city guides, a great alternative to big, clunky books but packed with lots of really useful information and insider tips - the perfect companion for an easy minibreak. Best of all, you can download the free app onto your phone or download the guides straight from the website, print them off and then just stick them in your pocket!

This Is Your Kingdom - This lovely website is packed with lots of unusual and quirky things to see and do in the UK. I’ve used it to discover secret picnic spots in London and the best crab sandwiches in Cornwall. Each handpicked recommendation is a mini-article written by locals and those ‘in-the-know’, so you get ideas that you won’t really find anywhere else. It’s a brilliant place to get inspiration when planning little trips within the UK.

The Spicery - One of the best things about visiting different countries is sampling all the local delicacies and I really enjoy recreating my favourite dishes when I get back home. The Spicery is really useful as it allows me to order little kits of fresh spices specific to my more exotic recipes. It always has those hard to find, unusual ingredients so when I’m cooking a meal that requires over twenty different spices, it's a real life saver.

17 July 2013