It's a hidden gem in the heart of Bangkok. Tenface is a new boutique hotel with only 88 rooms but it makes me feel very impressed. Their well-trained staffs are perfect! The room is very big and clean, recommended!
Apart from a state-of-the-art wine museum, Adelaide boasts five wine regions within striking distance, making it a stunning holiday destination.
If Cabernet Sauvignon is your grape of choice, head towards Coonawarra, with its brick red soils and old vines. Staying at a refurbished workers’ cottage was a fantastic perk. We toured the vineyards during the day and star gazed after dinner – the restaurant conveniently placed opposite Pickers Cottage.
If you fancy Barossa and Clare Valley why not stay off the beaten track in an old mining town, Kapunda, and enjoy the Goodall’s hospitality at Peppertrees B&B. Perfectly placed between the two regions, it’s ideal for unwinding before dinner – with even a bottle of complimentary bubbly in the fridge!
Dining at the nearby Wheatsheaf Pub is so unusual that many drive miles to experience it. As well as outstanding food and wines, there are two love shacks available for total privacy, and crayons are provided to encourage budding artists. We ended the meal by a roaring fire, doodling away on our tablecloths while sipping a perfect “sticky”.
Pickers Hut Cottage: coonawarracottages.com.au
Red Fingers Cafe Bar & Grill, Memorial Drive, Coonawarra. Tel:(08)8736 3006
The Peppertrees B&B, 47 Clare Road, Kapunda. Tel:(08)8566 2776
Wheatsheaf Pub, Allendale North, via Kapunda. Tel:(08)8566 2198
Shop with beautiful Kashmiri papier mache work at very honest prices and a good attached B&B with excellent food. The owner is a welcoming friendly, honest face in hassle-y Srinagar
Dalgate Buchwara, firstname.lastname@example.org, 01942479999
Bulgaria is rapidly becoming a popular tourist destination and a number of big and small hotels are opening every year. On HotelBeam Bulgaria list there are a number of independent hotels which can be contacted directly which is good because some of these hotels are small and locally managed and are not well connected to travel agencies.
CiaoRental is an Italian website for holiday rentals. It has many vacation homes listed by owners in many places in Sicily. If you plan to rent homes to visit Sicily and other Italian regions you can find a home along your travel route.
This is a luxury hotel on the Bosphorus with a wonderful view of historical buildings.
Hotel service is great with amazing buffet breakfast (anything and everything you may like to see), nice pool, sauna, etc. I enjoyed my stay very much.
Bayildim Caddesi No 2 Macka
It's a small personal hostel in the middle of the Old Town in Stockholm. You have everything within walking distance, from historical plays to shopping and night life areas.
They offer single, twin, triple and four-bed room. You have free wireless in all rooms and a guest kitchen.
A more central hostel you can't find.
Stora Nygatan 38 11127 Stockholm
+46 (0)8 22 99 40
8 min walk from central station
An independent apartment rental agency with some fantastic flats in Lviv.
We stayed in one for four nights on Virmenska, it was beautiful and the pictures of the sight did not do it justice at all. The price was excellent value for such an atmospheric and central location.
We changed travel plans and stayed in Lviv again on our return journey and stayed in another of the agency's apartments on The Rynok. This was a modern airy apartment with a great view over the main square.
Both apartments were spacious and well decorated. They had TV, DVD and kitchens as well as a washing machine.
Svetlana, the company contact in Ukraine was very very helpful throughout and gave me some other tips for our trip into the Carpathians and Ivano Frankivsk.
The preferred method for payment of deposit was Western Union, but if you don't like that then I negotiated to use a company in the UK to pay by credit card.
Good value B&B ( for the area). Clean and the owner is genuinely caring. Shared bathrooms though. Good location next to Live & Kicking lobsters. Fresh, cheap and local lobsters. Also near fantastic wholefoods supermarket
Puttnam St Cambridge mid way between Central and Harvard Sq on the Red line. 10 mins walk from either. Bus route, 2 mins
Beautiful self-catering apartments in central Istanbul. We stayed for three nights in Galata Place apartment with our three children. The apartment was fantastic, newly renovated in a beautiful old building. The location, at the foot of the Galata Tower, was ideal for sightseeing and near restaurants, supermarkets etc. Really helpful owners, who have another couple of apartments in Istanbul. If we ever get back, this is where we'll be staying.
Nestled between emerald green paddy-fields, luscious palms and meandering canals is George Kutty's homestay, at the heart of the Keralan backwaters, in the village where Arundati Roy grew up. For $10 a day, guests are provided with ensuite, air-conditioned rooms and invited to share mouth-watering meals with the Kutty family, freshly prepared from the sumptuous fruits, spices and vegetables, which burst from their garden. Days can be spent navigating the waterways on the Kutty's canoe, exploring the surrounding villages and exquisite wildlife or venturing into the nearby, bustling market towns of Kottayam and Alappuzha. George Kutty's enthusiasm and knowledge is truly boundless, providing visitors with a priceless insight into and understanding of rural Southern India; its culture, traditions, religion and day-to-day life.
Keeping with our summer vacation rental trend, I also found another great deal in the heart of Rome's historic centre. We had some friends joining us from the States that particular week, so the two bedrooms worked out perfectly, seeing as at E1200/week, we basically ended up paying only slightly more than a quadruple room in a B&B... with our own privacy of course, freedom, peace of mind, and the kitchen was lovely too. We love to cook and it was about 5 minutes from Campo de'Fiori's market, so every day we got to enjoy fresh ingredients and try some of the tricks we learned in our very own cooking lesson booked through the agency (they found a WONDERFUL chef who speaks perfect English and was loads of fun)!
The apartment was beautiful, very artistic and luxurious, and the jacuzzi tub was a definite plus. As mentioned, the agency was fabulous and took care of everything for us, the keyholder was a very nice lady who helped us get our bearings, and the private transfer they booked for our friends went smoothly as well. The location, especially for the price, couldn't have possibly been better, and it made returning to Rome the adventure we'd hoped it to be. We definitely plan to use Leisure in Rome on our next trip to Rome, and we hope they still have the same great deals on Bernini!
Via Dei Cartari
and for pictures: www.leisureinrome.com/luxury_apartments-in-navona_square/navona_square_apartment,S,235.html
I'm normally a hotel sort, but an opportunity came up this summer to travel Italy for PLEASURE (instead of business for once) and to keep the costs down, we decided to try something different in a few places.
Le Macchie is a beautiful Tuscan villa split into separate apartments. It's right in the middle of the national park and so absolutely tranquil and peaceful, the minute we arrived we knew we'd made the right decision. Stunning emerald views as far as the eye can see, and we even had a swimming pool to enjoy when the midday heat was on.
The location while peaceful, is still not so far from towns that you can't enjoy a day trip, and the company we used to book our various holiday rentals was excellent and professional. They were also very kind in arranging private olive oil and wine tastings and I must say I'm hard pressed to think of a more fantastic week in my life. The price was very good too.
Here's a link to the people I used with some photos: www.italiancollection.com/en/Le-macchie.html
Last week we walked to Lago Pilato under Monte Vettore in Le Marche, an ancient glacial lake, where legend has it that Pontius Pilate drowned himself. Nowadays it is home to a unique freshwater shrimp.
The circular walk is 20km and quite a challenge in places, but the spectacular scenery makes it all worth while. We have walked various sections of the gran' Anello (a 120km ring) in the Sibillini Mountains of Marche. There is a great map for the area, the 1:25,000 scale Club Alpino Italiano map of Parco Nazionale Dei Monti Sibillini. You can buy it in any local tabacchi around the national park or buy it in advance via www.sibillini-walks.com/index.html.
There is also a guidebook that explains the nine-day route, but if not, try this link where you can buy it direct from the National Park emporio.parks.it/product_info.php
There are some great rifugi (refuges) that you can stay at: www.parks.it/parco.nazionale.monti.sibillini/Esog.php or eat at. Many of them are newly restored.
On our hiking holiday we ate at 3 rifugi at Monte Amandola, at Ragno near Pintura and Il Tribbio at Lake Fiastra and have to say that the food at all was superb.
If you contact the national park they will also arrange a guide if you need it. Alternatively, Spring CAI and the National Park organise excursions and treks. The CAI walks can be found on the board on the right in sarnano as you enter the centro storico. The national park guided walks are listed on this page and need to be prebooked via the email address. www.sibillini.net/chiedi_sibilla/indexVisiteGuidate.html
If you need more information, free walking itineraries or a lovely place to stay on the edge of the park try www.villasanraffaello.com/free-time/marche-hiking-walking.html
Sarnano, Macerata, Le Marche, Italy
Casa de la Justa is a small family run bed and breakfast in the beautiful Lecrin Valley. Great location for Granada and the coast. Laidback and relaxing place to stay. The house is a restored village house, with plenty of outdoor and indoor space to relax. G7 footpath close by, also great for cycling.
I stayed in a Canary Wharf Apartment from them. We were on a strict budget as our stay was for 10 days. The site found us a decent deal and the self catering apartment owners were very professional with check in - which is what we were most concerened about before flying into London. The price was good and the kids had plenty of space. Amenties promised were provided and the apartment was very clean and tidy. Not tremendously luxurious even though they said it was on the luxury side. Highly recommended nonetheless.
This is a nice cheap place to stay in Santa Elena from where you can easily visit the Monteverde attractions.
The rooms are basic and have shared bathrooms, but they are in quaint little wooden cabins set in a nice garden which has beautiful views over the forest.
There is a shared kitchen if you want to cook for yourself and which is a good place to socialise with other travellers.
They organised a horse riding trip with a local guide for us which was really worthwhile.
Shetland's former capital is a village with 1,000 inhabitants and a small but busy boatyard. Very much a working community, Scalloway has much to attract the visitor in terms of history. Its hotel, located between the equally excellent museum and second hand bookstore/post office, offers great food at good prices. Much use is made of local produce, and the cuisine is Scottish/French - good attention to detail, and very attentive and friendly service. The hotel provides separate public bar and dining room - and the food can be enjoyed in either. The dining room has an air of formality about it, but is very family friendly. An imaginative menu, good cooking, and throughtful presentation. Three courses for two plus wine, coffee and an excellent selection of local cheeses - just under £100. Highly recommended.
Main St, Scalloway, Shetland, ZE1 0TR
A lovely lady called Tabu has you to stay in her home.
We stayed in her spare room and she cooked us the most delicious crab curry for supper!
We talked into the night about her life and her family who have lived on the same plot of land for generations.
During the day we snorkelled and borrowed a couple of bikes to wander up and down the Bolominski Highway and hang out in some of the other nearby villages. We even managed to catch a local game of rugby sevens.
A great experience and two nights we won't ever forget.
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