Based in Richmond Upon Thames

Sarah Holstead

It's Nice To Meet You

I'm Sarah, your personal Travel Counsellor based in beautiful Yorkshire, and I’ve had a huge passion for travel for as long as I can remember.

I love everything about travel, from experiencing new cultures and food, to soaking up the sunshine on a luxury lounger. I’m lucky to have travelled extensively, both for business and pleasure, and I’m always happy to share top tips and recommendations.

Travel Counsellors gives me the flexibility to tailor-make trips of all shapes, sizes and budgets and I love working with clients to make their holiday dreams come true. Whether it’s a luxury honeymoon in the sun, a winter adventure of a lifetime, or a well deserved family break, I will treat your holiday with the same care and attention as my own.

Our lives are becoming increasingly busy, so why not let me take all the stress and chore away from searching for a holiday? As I run my business from home, I’m available at times which suit you, including weekends and evenings.

If you’d like to chat through your next grand adventure, or want some inspiration and independent advice, get in touch, I’d love to hear from you.

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Contact Me

Whatever your holiday needs I'm here to help you, so simply give me a call or send me an email with your contact details on and I can get things started for you:

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My Blog

I absolutely live and breathe travel and I love to write about my experiences! Please take a look through my posts - you might find your own holiday inspiration.

Lisbon

15 June 2017

I’ve just returned from a fantastic hen weekend in Lisbon, Portugal. I adore Lisbon for its beautiful architecture, friendly locals and fantastic food. I flew in late on Friday night and joined a group of 16 girls who had arrived that day. I had a relatively relaxed first night, but many of the girls made the most of the fantastic Lisbon nightlife, dancing away into the early hours. The next day we were out early to explore what Lisbon had to offer. We chose a fantastic time to visit as it was the championship decider match for the local football team Benfica, and the Eurovision song contest (which Portugal ended up winning!) so it was a great party atmosphere all weekend. It’s a great city for exploring on foot as it’s relatively compact – not in heels though, those hills are steep! After strolling around the shops (for lovers of beautiful ceramics I would highly recommend Loica ao Kg, gorgeous locally made dishes, vases, plates etc priced by the kilo) we visited the Time Out Market Lisboa. This restored food market is a great place to stop for a browse and a bite to eat. One half of the building is a traditional food market which is still frequented by locals looking for great quality produce. The other half is a stunning food hall, with 24 restaurants, eight bars and a dozen shops – all completing to be ‘the best’. The best burger, the best sushi, the best ham...you get the idea. The market is easily found opposite the main train station of Lisbon, Cais de Sodre and is definitely one for your itinerary. It was here that we met up with our tour guides for the day. We had pre-booked a walking food tour of Lisbon and it turned out to be the best bit of pre-planning ever! Martin and Juan were our hosts, both born and raised in Lisbon and obsessed with great Portuguese food. Here are a few highlights of the tour and places to visit on your next trip to this fantastic city; - Portuguese coffee and custard doughnuts at the Time Out Market Lisboa - A gin & tonic or sour cherry liquor at one of the many ‘Gin Booths’ in downtown Lisbon. Blink and you would miss these, they look just like traditional newspaper stands. - A hearty lunch at Popular Do Capelo – an unassuming family run casual restaurant with the most delicious food. We tried fishcakes with an amazing slow cooked tomato rice and juicy pork ribs with a stunning garlicky kale dish. - Pastel de Nata at the glorious Manteigaria. Lisboans constantly argue about the best place to buy these incredible custard tarts but our guides were insistent that Manteigaria should take the prize. It was hard to disagree, wow! They are baked in store and if you walk to the back of the shop you can watch them being made. Prepare to queue! - By the Wine. After all that walking we were in desperate need of some refreshment. By the Wine is another ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ place but certainly worth seeking out. A huge selection of both local and international wines and a modern cave like structure where the entire ceiling is made of old wine bottles. With lovely Portuguese sparkling wines at just €10 a bottle, you won’t be surprised to hear we spent quite a few hours in here. From By the Wine, we headed on to a car park. Yes, a car park. We’d heard about a fantastic ‘hidden’ rooftop bar on top of a car park. It took quite a while to find it and after lots of ‘it can’t be here’ and ‘there’s no way it’s up there’, we climbed what seemed like a million steps (probably only about 5 floors) and found ourselves in a wonderful garden party style bar! It was here we stayed until the early hours toasting the bride to be and enjoying the lovely Lisbon views. Do get in touch if you are thinking of a break in Lisbon or its surrounding coastline – Cascais, Estoril and Sintra are a short train ride away and a multi centre with one of these would be a fantastic holiday.

Magical Malaysia

24 May 2017

Just the word makes me smile - Malaysia. Without doubt my favourite destination in the world. Malaysia really does offer something for everyone, from the hustle and bustle of Kuala Lumpur, the street food and art of Penang, tea plantations in the Cameron Highlands to the beachside bliss of the islands. Oh, and how could I forget the amazing wildlife of Borneo! I first visited Malaysia on my honeymoon and it was the only place that has made me cry on leaving. I was blown away not just by the scenery, food and quality of hotels, but by the people, who are some of the most genuine and friendly I have ever encountered. I’ve been back several times since to explore more of what Malaysia has to offer. Fantastic for a multi centre holiday or some all out relaxation, I can recommend a perfect itinerary to suit you and your budget. A few of my personal highlights; The Datai - A breathtaking luxury property in the midst of the Langkawi rainforest, with its own private beach. Accommodation includes rooms overlooking the rainforest canopy in the main building, living among the wildlife in a rainforest villa or staying right on the sea front in a stunning beach villa. Remotely tucked away in the rainforest this place feels like a secret paradise, and also has some of the best food in Malaysia in its 4 on-site restaurants. (Don’t miss the Thai Pavillion, on stilts amongst the trees!) One thing that really is guaranteed at The Datai – monkeys!! Langkawi - The Datai itself is situated on Langkawi, probably my favourite island in Malaysia. There are several stunning properties in Langkawi to choose from and if you prefer to be a little more central then consider The Danna or The Four Seasons. Langkawi offers some great sightseeing opportunities, both on land and sea. I’d definitely recommend the Langkawi Cable Car if you have a head for heights! This gorgeous island, a short flight from KL or any of the regional airports, is also a great choice for families, with lots of child friendly fun things to do. Georgetown, Penang - A great option if you want something different from the beach resorts (although Penang has a few of those too) Georgetown is a UNESCO world heritage site and is fascinating to visit. Perhaps most famous for being a foodie paradise, the street food here is phenomenal, it also has a brilliant art scene so don’t miss the walking tours of the local street art. We stayed at the famous Eastern & Oriental Hotel, and I’d also recommend Macallister Mansions for those that prefer a more boutique feel. Tang Jong Jara, Dungun - Situated on the less visited East Coast of Malaysia in a small village called Dungun. The Tang Jong Jara is easily reached by short flight from Kuala Lumpur. An all villa luxury property that gives you a taste of real Malaysia. Some fantastic excursions not to be missed include a trip to the local food markets with the hotel head chef – Chef Anne, and a once in a lifetime chance to see turtles hatching in their natural environment on a fantastic night time trip. There is so much more I could tell you about Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur highlights, the stunning private island resort of Pangkor Laut, Borneo, Cameron Highlands to name just a few!) so drop me a line to find out more or start planning.

Hong Kong with Virgin Upper Class

24 May 2017

Hong Kong is a place that I’ve wanted to visit my whole life. I grew up listening to endless stories from my dad, who lived there during his time in the Royal Navy in the 70’s. Dad’s stories were all about the street food for a few pennies, amazing tailoring, the traditional fish markets and even a few about the tattoo culture in the Navy and how Hong Kong was THE place to get one. So I was looking forward to seeing the contrast between Dad’s Hong Kong and 2017 Hong Kong. We visited in late February and travelled in style by treating ourselves to seats in the Virgin Atlantic Upper Class Cabin. I love the Virgin Upper experience. I think the pre flight experience is one of the best airline offerings. From the luxury car that collects you from home, the swift whizz through private check in, to what is undoubtedly the greatest airport lounge I’ve ever visited. We were early so had 3 hours in the lounge and filled this time with a manicure and facial in the spa, a 3 course dinner in the restaurant and a cocktail at the bar. By the time we boarded the flight I was refreshed, relaxed and ready for a film and a good nights sleep which is exactly what I got. The Upper Class cabin itself has the benefit of a fully flat bed and a herringbone seat formation for ultimate privacy. Personally I really like this but it’s perhaps not the best choice if you want to chat to your partner throughout the flight as you’ll have a screen dividing you. I also like the bars on Virgin flights, not only as they give you an opportunity to stretch your legs and break up the flight by moving to a different area, but also for the flexibility they give you during a night flight – you can go at anytime and grab yourself a snack and a drink. Back to the main event, Hong Kong itself! After a long flight we chose to get a taxi to our hotel, but the trains are super efficient and very cheap in HK so this would have been a great option too. We chose to stay at Hotel Icon, a 5* hotel in Kowloon with fantastic views of Hong Kong Harbour. This was a great choice; the hotel is owned by the local university and is a teaching hotel for the hospitality students. As a result, the service at Icon is outstanding. Hotel Icon has a gorgeous pool high up amongst the sky scrapers, a top floor fine dining restaurant and a couple of other more casual dining options. It’s a very modern property with some lovely and unexpected extras such as a free mini bar in every room and a complimentary mobile phone which you can use to make all your calls (even international) and take out and about with you to either use for maps etc or tether it to your own mobile for free roaming. After a pick me up cocktail we chose to dine at one of Hong Kong’s finest restaurants, conveniently located in the hotel – Above & Beyond. I’d emailed the concierge at the hotel a few days before to ask for a table with a view and they didn’t let me down. We barely spoke to each other throughout the meal as we were so awestruck but the sensational views across the harbour! The next morning, we were up and out early and straight on to the Hong Kong bus tour. I love a hop on hop off bus tour, I find it quickly helps me find my bearings around a city and it’s a great way of ticking off all the major sites. We also rode the famous Star Ferry (super cheap) across to Hong Kong island, went up to Victoria Peak on the great peak tram and did a spot of shopping in the Central shopping area. We squeezedin a delicious lunch at Din Tai Fung, a chain of Taiwanese dim sum restaurants, highly recommended for a quick and tasty meal. After a couple of relaxing hours at the hotel pool we headed out to see the famous light show from the fantastic cocktail bar at the Intercontinental hotel and then went on to Temple Street night market and grabbed some street food for dinner. We decided to spend our final day mooching around the streets of Hong Kong Island but couldn’t resist another fantastic boat ride around the harbour, this time opting to do a harbour cruise and learning about the history and evolution of Hong Kong. For lunch we went to Maxim Palace at City Hall. Wow! This place had been recommended by a friend and I am so glad we went. It’s a traditional Hong Kong dim sum restaurant, a huge and grand hall with ladies pushing around a series of carts serving the most delicious dim sum I’ve ever had. Just see what takes your fancy as the carts pass by. A must do! Our final night was spent at Happy Valley Racecourse, not at all something that I’d normally choose to do but it was so much fun!! Only a couple of pounds to get in, no need to pre book and situated in the middle of the city. Racenight is every Wednesday and the atmosphere was electric. We had no idea what we were doing with regards to betting so just picked out the names we liked and managed to double our money! You’ll find a really good mix of locals and ex pats here which made for a fun atmosphere and there are plenty of stalls serving a mix of cuisines and everything from beer to the finest champagne. If you happen to be in Hong Kong on a Wednesday night this is one not to miss. The next day it was an early start to catch our flight to Malaysia. I loved our short trip to Hong Kong and would definitely go back as a stop over destination. If you’d like some more recommendations on hotels and activities please give me a call.

My customer stories

Sent by Lisa Newsam

Sarah was extremely helpful when planning my holiday to the Maldives I couldn’t have wished for a better service and wouldn’t hesitate to contact her regarding further holidays in the future.

Sent by Samantha Potter

We’ve booked a few trips with Sarah now & each one just gets better & better. Sarah is full of knowledge & recommendations which is really helpful when looking at places you’ve never been to before. Not only is Sarah a great help with making a booking, but she’s only ever an email away when in resort too. Sarah clearly cares that her clients are having a great experience & will do whatever she can to make sure your trip is the best you can possibly have.

Sent by Julie Ledger

1st Class very happy with the service

Sent by Emma Wallington

Sarah knows me well to be able to recommend the best locations & hotels for our needs. We are so busy at the moment with 2 young children, so Sarah makes the whole process totally effortless, despite our indecision!

Sent by Alice Malpass

Sarah has been fantastic and we're looking forward to our honeymoon to Sri Lanka!

Sent by Michaela Hutchinson

Really impressed with Sarah, I will definitely recommend her to my friends and family

Sent by Nicola Sharman

Fast, friendly response with good suggestions of options for us to pick from.

Sent by Gary Owen

Absolutely excellent service as usual. Brilliant holiday without all the stress of organising things yourself. Sarah takes care of everything for you. Many thanks.

Sent by Ellie Gorman Davies

Sarah listens to all our requirements and really does come back with some amazing tailor made options for us. She’s so patient when we change our mind or have another flash of inspiration. And actually we’ve ended up booking somewhere we hadn’t even thought about because she thought it would suit us better (and it does!)

Sent by Sarah Johnson

Brilliant level of service and patience with our ever changing requirements, was always available when we needed her and ultimately discovered the right hotel for us!

Sent by Amanda Redfern

Sarah was very helpful in finding our dream honeymoon we told her what we would like and what we wouldn't like and she put together a dream trip very quickly with no hassle. She is super organised and knows her stuff. Very very excited thank you!

Sent by Samantha Potter

Fantastic service received so far - easy process to get quotes/book. Would definitely use Sarah again.

Sent by Sally Black

Sarah has been fantastic from the moment we started to plan our adventure, she listened and put together an adventure which will be amazing. She was always happy to help and look for alternatives. Her name was given to us on a recommendation and we will definitely recommend her again.

Sent by Ben Sparrow

Sarah was very informative and assisted us in coming up with an unexpected but exciting option. She was quick in response and clear with explanation and willing to do multiply amends/options.

Sent by Ellie Gorman-Davies

Sarah is amazing. She always answers very quickly and has found us the most amazing options every time we have enquired with her. Her natural friendly nature and genuine excitement for her clients holidays really add to the whole experience. Also, I was ill on one holiday booked through Sarah and she was just brilliant. She contacted to hotel and arranged late check out which was a great help.

Sent by Harriet Goulden

Sarah was great, I have already recommended her to my brother for his honeymoon and my parents for the wedding anniversary. Booking things on the morning of her own holiday was amazing and everything felt personal to us.

Sent by Sharon Fairminer

Sarah was so helpful with choosing the right flights for my trip to Australia. She found some excellent offers and then booked the trip I chose. It was a hassle free and efficient service from start to finish and I would highly recommend using her. Booking a trip of a lifetime was so easy.

Sent by Julie Watson

Sarah is super responsive when asked to help with holiday ideas and quotes, nothing is ever too much trouble for her. Superb customer service approach - love it!

Sent by Adam Humphreys

Sarah was absolutely fantastic and very patient when assisting us booking our Honeymoon. We requested a number of different quotes in terms of both areas and budget, which Sarah was more than happy to assist with.

Sent by Sophie York

Excellent service, friendly and helpful. I was impressed with the quotes, all broken down to see exactly what you are getting. Sarah was so quick to get back to me and managed my expectations very well. More to the point found us a fabulous holiday within our budget!

Sent by Gary Owen

Sarah went to a lot of trouble to find the exact holiday we required. 10/10

Sent by Daryll Conway

Extremely knowledgeable, and very helpful, plus the very best price. I would most certainly recommend Sarah to all my friends.

Sent by Megan Gracie

I thought the service Sarah provided was fantastic. She was so quick at responding to us and nothing was too much trouble. I would not hesitate to use Sarah again and have already recommended Sarah to people.

Sent by Emma Wallington

We changed our mind A LOT, so sarah was very patient and helpful!

Sent by Paul Vassallo

Amazing service. Would recommend Sarah to anyone looking to travel!

Sent by Neil Clark

Sarah took our idea for a holiday to Hawaii and created the perfect adventure for us delivering everything we wanted and more! She was patient when we wanted to check out options at each venue helping us decide on the perfect balance cost vs extravagance.

Sent by Hayley Burrill

Very helpful, feels completely unique to you and your wishes for a holiday, would definitely re-book via Sarah.

Sent by Nicola Sharman

Sarah was efficient and knowledgeable providing lots of details for our trip.

Sent by Ian Roberts

Sarah has been exceptional!

Sent by Julie Watson

Incredibly flexible and great customer service in preparing the booking!

Sent by Kerry Jolley

Sarah was very quick and efficient with sorting two great holidays for us. Thank you.

Sent by Aileen Wood

I already have recommended Sarah's service, it was easy, convenient, prompt, knowledgeable, flexible and we have a great holiday booked that suits our needs and budget. I'm going to book all my holidays with Sarah now!

Sent by Ellie Gorman-Davies

We have used Sarah to plan and book two holidays now, and look forward to many more! It totally adds to the fun of the holiday anticipation when the email pings through from her and we read all about the ideas she has researched for us. Sarah captures our requirements perfectly and presents them in a fantastic way that really brings her research to life. I would thoroughly recommend Sarah to anyone and everyone.

Sent by Maria Clinton

Sarah has been so friendly and professional, we couldn't have asked for a better person to plan our honeymoon.

Sent by Mike Lock

Sarah was incredibly helpful in helping me book a trip for my parents. I only had a vague idea of what I wanted, in which Sarah suggested a number of options to meet these needs. I found exactly what I was after and she helped tweak to make it the perfect trip I would not hesitate in recommending her to family and friends.

Sent by Casey Callender

Brilliant service. So easy and straightforward, took all the stress away from searching for the best deals. Really happy with the deal Sarah found us and at a great price. We're really looking forward to it and would definitely use Sarah again in future.