Resembling a large rambling guesthouse more than a hotel, Aggie Grey’s has been around since 1933 and is an institution in the Pacific. Hang-out for American soldiers during World War II, the hotel is named after the little lady who ran it then. It is still run by the same Samoan family.

This fabulous colonial hotel on Apia harbour is part old world, somewhere Agatha Christie could sit in the tea room wearing a big hat, looking mysterious and concocting a truly gruesome murder –

– and part luscious garden with fale (bungalows) named after famous residents. Marlon Brando stayed in one while filming South Pacific.

And those huge Pacific cockroaches? Well, if they were there, they very wisely stayed hidden. We never saw one – a relief after Fiji.

Harry Potter’s on (in a cockroach-free room)

Every Wednesday, guests gather to watch a fia fia, a Samoan traditional show of music and fire dancing.

Aggie’s lovely swimming pool

Tom is always along, of course

We all adored this hotel; just the right mix of chaos and charm. Though Samoa is about as far from home as we can get, we’d love to return. Today, almost 7 years (and about 150 hotels) later, Aggie Grey’s remains among my top 5 favourite lodgings anywhere – in itself reason enough to return to Samoa.