Tom Robbins

Financial Times

A former news journalist, Tom Robbins blends detailed reporting with descriptive colour - a rare combination on travel pages - as well drawing on in-depth travel-industry knowledge and contacts built up over many years.

The pieces work both as travel inspiration for those deciding where they might visit, and as stand-alone features to entertain those with no plans to get on a plane.

The three pieces submitted demonstrate some of the range of Tom's work this year - from being the first guest at London's new super-luxe hotel to being the first to ski remote slopes in the Albanian mountains.

The biggest hotel opening of 2023 - and arguably of the past century - was Raffles at the Old War Office on Whitehall. Setting up the exclusive to be its first reviewer took more than a year. But the resulting piece was much more than a hotel review - and devoid of any puffery. Rather it used the hook of the opening to look at a bigger trend for super-luxe hotels, and what that says about London, the hospitality industry and the country.

The Venice story was on one level simply a good suggestion for readers' holidays - using a self-drive, live-aboard boat as a cheap and very different way for a family to see the city and its surrounding islands. But the piece was also set in the context of the overtourism phenomenon, and drew historical perspective from the writing of Jan Morris, to create a deeply textured feature. Lastly the Albania skiing story was a straightforward adventure - a report from a fledgling company in a little-visited corner of the country that desperately needs the economic benefits of tourism, but told in a way armchair travellers could relish.