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About Secret Earth
What does Secret Earth do?

For an overview of the site and how to use it, please see our How it works page.

How are you different from other travel sites?

There are millions of websites for booking travel products, but only a handful that offer high quality, trustworthy recommendations, and fewer still that provide the means to plan out a trip. There are none that enable you to do all three. Until now.

Secret Earth is the first website to enable you to research (discover), plan and book in one convenient place.

Unlike many travel guide sites, we are not destination-guide focused. We started by identifying the world’s best travel experiences, then built our recommendations and destination guides around those. All of our content is original, and all of our recommendations are 100% independent.

Why is the website called Secret Earth?

There's an extraordinary world out there just waiting to be discovered, and so many amazing things to see and do that you just don't know about – or that you know about, but don't know how to go about experiencing.

'Discover your own way' – what does this mean?

Secret Earth is a trip planning service for those of us who like to travel independently, to research and plan our own holidays. It will appeal if you like to do things 'your own way'.

With a wealth of high quality recommendations and photos, and the inspiration/planning tools to search through them quickly and easily, 'discovery' is a major part of our proposition.

Who is behind Secret Earth?

See our About us page for the story of how we started.

What does the INSIDER logo mean?

You'll find this icon on our special insider tips & recommendations. These are the tips & recommendations you wouldn't want the rest of the world to know about – like the best table in a restaurant, or the spectacular safari camp with only a few rooms.

To view them, all you need to do is to create an account by entering an email and a password.

Is there a Secret Earth app?

Not right now. We hope to release a Secret Earth app during 2014. Meanwhile, our website has been designed to be 'responsive', which means it can be used on mobile platforms, where internet access is available.

Recommendations, Reviews & Guides
Who are your writers?

Secret Earth works only with leading travel writers. All of our contributors write regularly for top quality publications around the world. They must live in (or specialise in) the destinations (or subject areas) they write about for us.

On what basis do you make your recommendations?

Our writers are asked to consider four criteria when making their recommendations: quality (including authenticity), uniqueness, value for money and the 'experience' value. We also try to recommend across different prices points. This may mean we recommend B&Bs alongside five-star hotels, and small cafés serving local mezze alongside fine-dining restaurants.

Are your recommendations independent?

Yes, all of our recommendations are independent. We do earn a commission on some recommendations if you go on to book via our links – typically, standard industry affiliate commission schemes. In cases where the tracking of the booking referral back to us is not possible, we may agree an upfront fee instead.

Whether we earn a commission or not does not affect our recommendation – indeed, on many of our recommendations we earn no financial reward at all. Our writers use four criteria when making their recommendations: quality & authenticity, uniqueness, value for money and the 'experience' value. The financial reward to us is not considered.

Why haven't you recommended more things to see & do, more restaurants etc.?

We recommend very selectively. We don't try to cover every café or every monument; rather, our writers pick out the leading travel experiences in each destination. We call it the 70% rule. Every traveller is different, so we aim to give you 70% of your itinerary, leaving you to fill in the rest as you wish, tailored to your specific preferences.

That way, you know you have all the best travel experiences covered. It also avoids overloading you with suggestions.

I know a fantastic hotel, yet you haven't recommended it. Why not?

We know there are lots of great travel experiences, hotels, and more, out there that we haven’t yet included. We plan on growing and expanding our recommendations, notably to areas of the world we haven't covered.

In some cases, we have deliberately left out high quality places and experiences because we have recommended, in our humble opinion, a superior alternative – this particularly applies to five star hotels. Our approach is always to present you with a carefully considered selection of the best in class.

We may not have recommended everything worthy, but we can assure you that we what we have recommended is high quality.

What destinations do you feature? And why is there no guide to...?

Secret Earth has more than 110 destination guides – and we add on average four new destinations a month – but we are not destination-guide focused. Our approach is to start by identifying the world’s best travel experiences, and then offer related destination guides, and recommendations for where to stay, eat, drink and shop – all the things you need to get the most from your trip.

We realise there is a lot of the world, and many outstanding experiences, we have not yet covered. In the next two years, we hope to significantly expand our coverage of North and South America, and Asia. Please bear with us.

Why is the 'Add to trip' button inactive or missing?

You can add any accommodation, attraction, restaurant, bar or shop recommendation to your Tripbox. However, some of our lists include recommendations for which we do not yet have reviews; in those cases, the 'Add to trip' button is rendered inactive.

It is not possible to add destinations or recommended suppliers to your Tripbox. The 'Add to trip' button will be missing on these types of listing.

Why are there only 'Local escapes' for London?

The local escapes lists are designed for people in big cities who are looking for ideas to get out of town.

Secret Earth is a London-based company, and so doing this list first for London was an obvious choice. There are more coming in 2014: next up, New York escapes.

How can I create multiple trips?

To create a new trip, simply click on the 'New' button in your Tripbox.

You can switch between different trips at any time by clicking on the drop-down menu in the Tripbox. The trip that is showing on that menu is the trip you will be adding to when you click the 'add to trip' button on the site.

How do I set up a wishlist?

Easy. In your Tripbox, click on 'new trip' and name it 'Wishlist'.

How do I add a destination to my trip?

You cannot add a destination on its own to your trip at this point in time. You must add something within a destination e.g. a hotel, attraction or restaurant. The parent destination will then appear.

Trip planner
How do I plan a trip?

First, you need to add your selections into your Tripbox by clicking on the 'Add to trip' buttons throughout the site. You will find an 'Add to trip' button next to every recommendation we make.

Then, in your Tripbox, click on the 'Plan trip' button to enter your Trip Planner, where you can then drag and drop you selections onto a calendar to plan out your itinerary.

How do I share my trip with friends?

Unfortunately, you can't do this electronically at the moment. The functionality to do this will be added in 2014, so stay tuned. The only way to share right now is to click 'print', which generates a PDF of all of your selections, which you may then email or print to share.

I want to include a visit to Aunt Nelly's house in Timbuktu on my itinerary. How do I do that?

In your Tripbox, look for the 'Add your own' button. Click on it and you can then enter 'Aunt Nelly's House' as an attraction, and type in the destination 'Timbuktu'. Then click 'Save'. Only you will be able to see your own created attractions/accommodations, as we doubt your Aunt wants other people turning up on her doorstep.

How do I take my itinerary with me on holiday?

There are currently two options. If you have internet access in your destination, you can use the mobile version of our site and see your itinerary while you are there (you don't need a mobile app for this). Alternatively, click on the 'print' button in your Tripbox to create a PDF version to print out and take with you, or save on your phone.

We hope to have a mobile app available in 2014 that will allow you view your itinerary when you are offline.

I added a hotel to my trip and then booked it. Why does my itinerary not reflect this?

When you click through to make a booking for one of our recommendations, you are leaving our website and booking on a third-party website. We therefore do not have access to your booking details, so for the time being, you have to enter your booking details into your Secret Earth itinerary manually – though we are currently exploring automatic itinerary updating. Stay tuned!

Bookings & prices
Who do I book with?

Secret Earth is here to help you book with reputable companies at great prices. We bring together the best booking sites and direct booking options for you on our website. When you click our booking links you will be taken to our suppliers’ websites to book with them directly.

Our free telephone booking service gives you access to our destination experts who will help you plan and book your trip. We’ll compare the leading tour operators for the best deals and get you up to three free, no-obligation quotes for your itinerary.

Can I book flights, car hire and travel insurance?

Unfortunately, we don't currently offer booking advice or links for these travel products, but it is something we are asking our customers' opinions on, and we may introduce this in the future.

Who do I contact if my booking goes wrong?

Once you have clicked through on one of our booking links, then you are leaving our site and will need to contact the booking agent in question; they should have provided you with contact details in your booking confirmation. Secret Earth itself does not take bookings or hold any information about the booking.

Who is Viator? Why are you providing links to their website?

Viator is an international aggregator of tours and attractions (a bit like Expedia is for hotels). They specialise in offering destination and attraction tours, plus transfers and various destination tickets and passes. These are all things we know our members sometimes want, but which, due to their often standard format, fall outside of what our writers would usually recommend and review. We therefore sought a reliable partner to offer them instead.

We chose and recommend Viator for the following reasons:

  • They offer a high quality inventory, which is quick and simple to book online
  • Viator have built long-standing partnerships with many of the best local operators around the world
  • Viator have vetted these tour operators, and their performance is monitored
  • Tour operators care about their relationship with Viator and this should ensure you get a good service
  • Viator is an international organisation with a 24/7 support helpline, giving you someone to contact (or complain to) if things go wrong

Viator pays us a standard affiliate commission for any bookings generated by customers who have clicked through from our site to theirs.

What do your hotel prices include?

We get live prices direct from our affiliate partners in the instant that you request them.

The prices we quote are the average price per night, and include standard taxes and VAT. They do not, however, include local city taxes (usually about 1-2%, and only occasional) and resort fees.

This is the same policy adopted by the big hotel booking sites like Expedia – so the prices on our website should exactly match when you click through. Occasionally – and seemingly at random – the big hotel websites do not apply these rules properly, so the prices on click-through may differ very slightly.