The third largest of NZ's islands is what New Zealand would have been like pre-Maori and pre-European. Thick bush, golden sands, blue water, more wildlife than anywhere I have ever been on the planet. The Best place to go kiwi spotting in NZ!
The only settlement on the island is the tiny town (pop 300) of Oban/halfmoon bay. The rest of this quite sizeable island is bush. Hire a canoe and paddle over to one of the many other islands in the area. I recommend Ulva Island, with its history and wildlife. The island is now designated predator free so many birds flourish. It was incredible.
Also have a night out at Gary's Church on the hill restaurant and sample some delicious sea food made by the friendliest chef in NZ. Wash it down with a few handles at the pub down by the hotel with all the locals.
The ferry ride over from bluff is an experience in itself ... massive waves toss you around and loads of people are sick! You would pay 200 dollars for that in Queenstown or Rotorua!
If you are there mid winter be sure to check out the Singles Ball for some great food, drink and some company ;) Just remember that everyone on the island will know who you hooked up with and will taunt you about it for the whole of your stay!
The Polar Light Center is situated inside the Arctic Circle, in the fishing village of Laukvik on Austvagoya, one of Norway's beautiful Lofoten Islands. It's run by Rob and Therese who are both passionate about the Northern Lights - that's why they moved here! It's not that easy to get here but it's well worth the effort - the scenery is fantastic and the people are truly friendly. Rob is able to make Polar Light forecasts and can send a text to your mobile to warn you when the Northern Lights are visible.
We stayed at Viva Lofoten where owner Vibeke gave us a warm welcome.
It is a hotel a two hour drive from Reykjavik. I went in 2007 with a school trip and stayed for a few nights to experience the Northern Lights. It is set within the amazing landscape of Iceland and offers a 360 degree view to capture the incredible displays. It is singly placed meaning there is not a disruption from other hotels or settlements.
This is a really great place to stay, under two hours from Cape Town, close to the most beautiful beaches with warm water. Also close to the southernmost tip of Africa. They have really comfy rooms with a great restaurant that makes the best pizza ever! The kids love it as they can play by in the pool and climbing gym while we sip cocktails and munch pizza. Backpackers vibe with great service. Live music every now and then in the pub as well.
Casa colomba is a fantastic family house with a private pool available for rent. It is just outside Sant Angelo in Pontano, a charming medieval hilltown with restaurants, bars and all the shops you need for your holiday.
A four star hotel, but it feels like a five star one. A really beautiful place - quiet and exclusive, but still in walking distance from all the major sights and shopping. I loved the historic feel of the hotel.
Friendly staff. A hotel with lots of atmosphere and reasonably priced for Denmark/Copenhagen. Great breakfast and nice rooms. Wonderfully located. Try the tapas-bar next door!
Basic cheap log cabins with bunkbeds in a very remote and strange flat place without any light or noise pollution - a perfect spot to enjoy the Northern Lights where you can, in the horizon of the ocean, still see the reflection of the midnight sun (and where the next land you would meet would be the North Pole). We saw the Northen Lights already in late August, which is very unusual. The three of us, just sitting in our sleeping bags in chairs enjoying a cold beer and the Northen Lights - isn't life beautiful?
Drive East from Husavik along the beatiful coast of Northen Iceland - on the No. 85 road. After 50km you drive through a rather strange and landscape. Along the road you'll find a few farm house of which some of them rent out - look for signs.
Google map: tinyurl.com/ydlbrls
I read the Sally Shalam article at the weekend on this place and I have seen the plans they have for it. It's a beautiful Georgian town house in the city centre and set for a contemporary make over by a great interior designer - but prices seem reasonable at £99.
The place is set to open in February but from what I have seen, it's definitely worth a visit - will give you the low down after i have stayed there!
South Parade - 200 yards from Bath Spa train station.
We had read that this was 'the coolest Riad in Marrakech' and we were not disappointed. This is one of those places where 'cool' is all inclusive, not at all pretentious and makes you feel very much part of the place. From the moment of our arrival to our departure, we were so well looked after in an absolutely lovely setting, with great staff. It is one of those places where they make it look so easy, that you think anyone could do this but you know really that that's not the case at all. Everything is very well organized but it looks effortless. It is a sign of how good Oliver and his staff are.
The wonderful food, the cool unobtrusive music wafting through, the friendly and chatty staff and of course the main man himself. A real find and highly recommended.
If destination heaven exists, fulfilling every exacting criteria of the jaded traveller, it would have to be Grootbos Nature Reserve on Walker Bay in South Africa.
I was lucky enough to find it when planning a journey from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth.
I’ve stayed before at places claiming to be “luxury,” which were anything but - but this is reassuringly expensive and did in fact prove to be more than worthy of the description. Well, if it was good enough for Brad Pitt and Kate Moss I should never have doubted it …
Bungalows are set in milkwood forest spread out either side of the main building. For two of us we had a huge lounge, outsize bathroom with bath you plod across to find the taps. There is a second shower room, and outside shower (for the brave or exhibitionist perhaps) on our own private decking, a kitchenette, dressing and storage area. The canopied bed was six foot wide. I lay in the bath looking at colourful birds inches away through the floor to ceiling window, surrounded by candles, then we lay in loungers on the decking, looking down across dunes to the sea as the sun went down.
But to recap. On arrival you are greeted with drinks and sat down to plan your stay - they like you to stay at least two nights as there is a full programme of activities, most of them included in the price. I was whisked straight off to go riding from the hotel’s own stables, in the “fynbos” - the local vegetation which is very pretty, very diverse and smells heavenly. Botanists go crazy apparently - David Bellamy has signed the visitors’ book.
The next day we went whale watching and had close-ups of southern right whales, cape fur seals and even a great white shark. There were only seven guests, the boat was comfortable and there was no danger of seasickness. We were there in October which is a great time to see whales, while the weather is still pleasant enough to swim.
We had a private guided jeep tour and walk in the extensive grounds with one of the local guides Silence, who pointed out plants, a mongoose scuttling across our path, birds - and even a highly venomous puff adder which had crept into the hotel’s ornamental pond and was being safely removed by an expert for relocation. Silence introduced us to weaver birds, bou bou, drongo, cape bulbul with their white-painted eyes, colourful sun birds and sugar birds, olive pigeons, yellow rumped widow, and the resident black harrier.
The restaurant was a dream, reached along the little wooded path from our bungalow, past the swimming pool and into the main central building. Five leisurely but elaborate courses with superb wine, attentive and friendly staff.
What I loved about the place was the combination of the feeling of absolute pampering, with touches like the soft white bathrobes, massive towels and full size up-market toiletries; but also a real sense of outdoor adventure, riding, sharks and unexpected wildlife encounters - it’s the real taste of how South Africa could be in an ideal world, where the staff are happy to take your round the local township and show you how they live, and the knowledge that the owners of Grootbos are aware of the fragility of the local ecology, sponsoring locals to visit the Eden Project to advise on the Fynbos, and giving much needed employment in one of the most outstandingly beautiful spots in the world.
It can be hard work trying to find a good beach spot in Australia that isn't over-run with tourists. If you're passing through Queensland, take the time to stop by Point Lookout on North Stradbroke island - beach houses for rent have balconies overlooking the ocean, most with BBQs (perfect for cooking prawns, tuna, snapper etc caught by local fishermen that day). Beautiful beaches, whales swimming past, and not a tourist bus in sight. It's one of the best kept secrets that the locals won't tell tourists about.
I rented an apartment this Christmas using Pillowapartments Barcelona
Check in staff were gracious and accomodating with good directions for travellers not renting a car.
Apartment appeared just as pictured. Size of apartment was cozy, but was large enough for four people to sleep, if living room couch is let out. It was centrally located to Super Mercardo, beach, wharf, mall, and restaurants and well stocked. Really appreciated having washer/dryer unit in apartment. Colorful mix of restaurants, markets right in neighborhood.
Came on a Barcelona holiday and watched city party all day until early morning. Loved the late sunset and meet some really entertaining people. Loved the ice cream/gelato shops on every other corner. Also, loved the Cafe de Lecha and Tortilla Patata (egg omelet with potato) for breakfast and the bakeries.
Public transportation was excellent!
Easy walk to train station and wonderful city park/zoo. A little further walk to the shopping district of La Rambla and Gothic area. Recommend to take the city tour bus, excellent sites, plenty of museums and information.
Would have been nice to have an English speaking television channel, however took it as an opportunity to learn more Spanish.
Gumusluk is a charming fishing village, harbour and beach on the west coast of the Bodrum Peninsula. It is one of the prettiest places on earth and I go there every year. I stay at Villa Myndos, only 10 mins' walk from the village. Gumusluk still looks much the same as twenty years ago because it has been designated as an area of natural beauty and there are strict building regulations to preserve its character. Small villas and rustic apartments covered with bougainvillea and other exotic plants mingle amongst the many excellent seafood restaurants along the beach and harbour. There is an astonishing number of fish restaurants (also serving other menus) and you would need about three weeks and a hefty budget to try them all. Gumusluk is an upmarket resort and a quiet one. The restaurants and bars stay open all day and very late, reflecting the Turkish tradition of eating late. The only noise you will hear after midnight will be gentle words and laughter, as loud music is banned. The sunsets are spectacular and when the sun finally disappears behind the islands in the Aegean, the colours red, indigo and violet dance in the warmth giving way to stars which shine on the sea and create silver strands. The word Gumus means silver in Turkish and legend would have it that this is how Gumusluk got its name.
From the beginning until we had to leave we felt really welcome. The staff were honest, helpful and hearty. Service was great and the whole riad is arranged and decorated with a good taste from the owner, done affectionately. It was not our first time in Morocco and we already ate many couscous there, but the best we've ever eaten was in Dar Najat. You have to order a couscous royal there!
There is also enough space to chill out, relax on the terrace or on the new built superior floor, with sunbeds and cosy Moroccan styled lounge.
Your'e in the middle of marrakech, easy to find the jamaa el fna by your own, but if you need any help ask the staff and they'll help you anytime.
So there is really nothing bad to say about Dar Najat and it certainly won't be our last stay there.
Kristina & Cyril
Lovely small B&B in the heart of Flanders (and next door to the St Bernardus brewery). Very comforatable rooms and spacious shared living room and conservatory. Ideal for a quiet break away from it all. Cycles can be hired (and older bikes are free) and this is great cycling and walking counrty with cafes dotted everywhere. Rooms start from €90 for one night or €75 if staying for more than 1 night. The local Belbus stop is right outside.
Contact is (English spoken):-
Mevr. Jacky Cockheyt
8978 Watou (Poperinge)
Google map: tinyurl.com/yb5z3co
Say Roger, the cyclist from London, recommended you.
Amazing boutique hotel - with a dreamy landscape worthy of the best honeymoon vacation ever. The present general manager is a wonderful gentleman with a wealth of knowledge about Asia - he recommended going on the boat and arranged a lunch on a remote island for me and my partner. I was swept away by the service, the gold dust in the river and the wonderful Laotians!
Send your feedback or queries to firstname.lastname@example.org