About Esme Vos

Esme Vos is the founder of Mapplr, a travel site featuring boutique hotels, luxury resorts, travel guides and restaurant reviews. You can find her on and Twitter.

Japan tax free items now include cosmetics, food and beverages

japan

As of 1 October 2014, tourists in Japan can get a tax refund for cosmetics, skin care, food and beverage (e.g. sake) purchases in department stores and other shops offering tax-free shopping. This is big news for tourists who come to Japan to buy high-end Japanese cosmetics brands such as Shiseido, Cle de Peau, Lunasol, […]

Norwegian Air Shuttle 787 Dreamliner: Oakland, California to Oslo

norwegian air shuttle

This is a review of a Norwegian Air Shuttle flight in August 2014 from Oakland, California to Oslo, Norway, specifically the Premium Economy cabin and services. Norwegian began flying from Oakland airport in California to Oslo and Stockholm this year. Although it is a “discount” airline, Norwegian flies the latest Boeing 787 Dreamliner, unlike traditional […]

Travel guide to Alsace, France

travel guide to alsace

Mapplr’s travel guide to Alsace is designed for people who want to spend five days to a week in Strasbourg and the towns along the Route du Vin (Wine Route) in the Alsace region of France. My advice is to give yourself two to three days in Strasbourg to see all of the main sights […]

Villa Elyane: elegant historic B&B in Colmar, France

villa elyane B&B colmar

Villa Elyane is a splendid bed and breakfast (maison d’hôtes) in the heart of Colmar, one of the most popular cities to visit in the Alsace region of France. Villa Elyane has three rooms and two suites, ranging in price from 155 EUR to 250 EUR, all of which are decorated in a contemporary style […]

Le Chambard: historic hotel and gastronomic restaurant in Kaysersberg (Alsace)

le chambard hotel alsace

Le Chambard is everything you could want in a hotel set in the bucolic wine region of Alsace: historic, charming, recently renovated to modern standards and a food lover’s heaven. It is the home to a Michelin starred restaurant whose chef, Olivier Nasti, was awarded Meilleur Ouvrier de France in 2007. For those unacquainted with […]

Cour du Corbeau: historic hotel in the centre of Strasbourg

cour du corbeau alsace

Hotel Cour du Corbeau is one of the oldest hotels in France, having begun its life in 1528 as an inn or relay station for people traveling by horse-drawn coaches. One can count among its illustrious guests,  the Duke of Bavaria in 1570; in 1647, Henri de la Tour d’Auvergne, Vicomte de Turenne, who was […]

Sri Lanka travel guide: favourite hotels, cuisine, recommended places to visit

Sitting and reclining Buddhas inside Dambulla cave temple

This Sri Lanka travel guide is designed for people who are interested in visiting Sri Lanka for a short period (a week or two), who enjoy savoury spicy cuisine and want something more than a beach holiday. Why visit Sri Lanka? Sri Lanka is an island that lies southwest of India, closest to the state […]

Buckingham Place: secluded beach retreat in Sri Lanka

sri lanka beach

Buckingham Place Sri Lanka is a quiet boutique hotel with swimming pool, close to Tengalle, but tucked away in a secluded area in the southernmost part of Sri Lanka. The beach is just five minutes away on foot and during my stay there in mid-January, was completely deserted. The hotel overlooks the calm still waters of […]

Governor’s Mansion Sri Lanka: luxury in a tea plantation

governor's mansion sri lanka

The Governor’s Mansion in Sri Lanka is one of the most unique places to stay on the island because it is a historic property set on a hill in the middle of a tea plantation, far away from the noise, the crowds and the heat. The Governor’s Mansion was built shortly before the 1800s by […]

Heritance Kandalama Sri Lanka: five-star nature retreat

heritance kandalama sri lanka

The Heritance Kandalama Hotel in Dambulla, Sri Lanka is one of those unforgettable places you find hard to put in words simply because there is no other hotel like it in the world. Built into the stone cliff mountain that overlooks the Kandalama lake, the building was designed by Sri Lanka’s most famous architect, the […]

New recommended Queenstown, New Zealand restaurants

queenstown new zealand

This is an update to the Queenstown, New Zealand restaurants and travel guide which I posted two years ago. In early December 2013, I returned to the south island of New Zealand and spent a week in Queenstown after several days sea kayaking and hiking in the Abel Tasman national park (see Kayaking in New […]

Top 10 Japan travel tips

japan travel tips

Here are my top ten Japan travel tips. (1) Fly into Haneda airport, not Narita, if you are going to Tokyo. Narita airport is a nightmare, starting with the long queues at immigration (in a hot stuffy room) to the long ride from the airport to central Tokyo. Narita lies 57.5 kilometres (35.7 miles) from […]