This tiny home-stay hostel in Mostar is the ideal place to stay for a budget trip to the town.
The rooms cost just €10 per person per night - my brother and I had a twin room to ourselves, shared bathroom, free internet access, train/coach station pickup and drop off. And use of the kitchen - however beware that this is a homestay and the kitchen is their family kitchen. They also offer laundry.
Nina's husband is a war survivor and offers more authentic tours of the still war torn parts of the town - there were four of us on our tour so hardly busy. We were given options and even taken to one of the sniper holes.
The accommodation is a bargain, the tours are more than the room but also much more exciting - he offers a range but we only took the Mostar War tour.
There are rumours in guide books of a second poorer standard overflow building but we asked to be in the main house - and there were no issues.
Celebica 18, 88104 Mostar, Bosna i Hercegovina
+387 36 550 820
An amazing contemporary cedar clad, copper roofed eco B&B built entirely by the owners. It is highly insulated with an air source heat pump supplying the underfloor heating. It is beautifully sited in a woodland paradise. Fluffy towels, duck island toiletries, biscuits, real coffee, smart TV, six-foot bed and absolutely amazing breakfasts in the comfort of your own room. There is even a fridge for wine and the terrace, overlooking the wood, is as big as the room. I can't understand why they don't have star rating it is so amazing. The beach has excellent surf and there are three pubs all offering food. I am not sure if I even want to tell people about it as it is the sort of hidden treasure you want to keep to yourself. Only two rooms, absolute quiet and tranquility. Really wonderful!
Obviously you can camp if you want to. It's Scotland, everyone is tough as nails and actually the year-round campsite at Glencoe Mountain Centre is pretty good with fine showers and toilet block. But we're not tough as nails, so stayed in one of the microlodges on site which look kind of like modern day gypsy caravans. We packed three of us into one which was very cosy but at least we weren't cold. You still need to bring your camping stove as there's no kitchen or anything. I guess essentially it's a big wooden tent. But you'll be thankful of it when your ski kit is wet and you don't want to battle with a damp tent.
Firstly, I highly recommend a trip to Brighton for anyone. It is my favourite city in the UK, mostly for its relaxed, laidback feel. This chilled out vibe is largely due to its location right beside the sea. It is therefore a real advantage to get a good hotel right by the beach when visiting Brighton; but this can be hard to get at a good price. The West Beach Hotel overlooks the sea and the beach as well as Brighton's famous promenade. The rooms are really clean and spacious. We stayed in a twin room with views of the sea, it was very reasonably priced compared to everything else we saw. The beds were comfortable and we had an en-suite bathroom that was a good size, and clean more importantly. The hotel is not only located along the seafront but is also just close enough to the city centre so that it is walking distance but not crazy noisy at night time. I found the staff really friendly with directions and stuff too.
Have you ever felt that you spent half your summer holiday physically travelling on planes, trains and automobiles - obsessively packing in the ‘must see’ sites, sitting for hours on a bus and then being told, when you arrive at a ‘must see’ spot, that you only have ten minutes to take photos, have lunch, walk around and ‘enjoy’ the atmosphere?!
This is why I loved Malta – at only 25 miles across, my husband and I found we could leisurely explore the whole island in a week.
We stayed in Sliema - this is a lively town with many modern buildings and restaurants - but the reason I adored it was due to the wonderful views across the Marsamxett harbour to the mystical capital, Valletta. From every point on its east coast, we could see the (understandably) much-photographed Carmelite Church dome in the distance, its colour transforming from a Mediterranean sand to a beautiful orange-pink at sunset. I found that features such as this give Malta its personality – old meeting young, tradition meeting innovation, ancient meeting modern, everywhere you look. I was impressed by how the island has cleverly embraced the modern while valuing traditions in a way that still makes it popular with all ages – young 20-30 year-olds love the new ‘American-style’ malls, but they have been designed to blend in with the surrounding buildings in a way that won’t upset traditionalists. Menus in the majority of restaurants also reflect the mix of old and new – the Maltese loved it when we ordered their traditional dishes (rabbit is a particular favourite on the island) but they are very passionate about the modern presentation of dishes also.
For such a small island I found endless activities to take part in and places to visit. I was particularly eager to see the co-cathedral at Valletta (which people often wrongly assume is the Carmelite Church dome) - this houses Caravaggio’s famously severe The Beheading of John the Baptist. I thought the cathedral was attractively simple outside, but jaw-droppingly intricate within – I think Sir Walter Scott put it perfectly in his description that it was “the most magnificent place I ever saw”.
Our time in Mdina, the old capital, was definitely the most peaceful part of our trip. In this ‘silent city’ I gained a true sense of Maltese life before the innovative (but arguably disruptive!) Knights of St John arrived. We certainly entertained all members of the family in Mdina – my husband’s parents enjoyed getting peacefully lost in the grid-like street pattern (as the town is only mile across, it’s impossible to be lost for long!) while children (in this case, my husband and I!) enjoyed the drama of the Mdina dungeons (think the London dungeons, Maltese-style). There are a set of ‘olde-worlde’ stocks outside which we used to take some comical photographs – I may have left my husband in these slightly longer than he expected!
We adored Malta’s passion for embracing tradition together with the modern, fun side of life.
Nice hotel, very helpful staff, no noise, spacious rooms, comfortable beds, very nice breakfast with homemade jams and lots of different types of bread.
Rondablikk is a quiet and beautifully situated hotel in the stunning Rondane National park (about 300 kms north of Oslo). Get your cross country ski's or snow shoes on for fabulous loyper trails through the breathtaking park, woodland and mountains, stopping to snack in the occasional Sami shelters. If you fancy a bit of dog sledding for light relief, they do that too. Great for beginners in the above sports and Rondablikk is a lovely little find if you want a swim, sauna, a smorgasbord of tasty food and a bit of peace in front of the fire after the day's exertions. Wouldn't hesitate to rebook a third time....if only to re visit the lady in the log hut that makes the best hot chocolate in the world!
A little way out of Whistler - about five minutes in the car if that - is a complex of accommodation called Whiskey Jack. It's pretty quiet and wooded so great for people wanting a bit more of a chilled time or with families. We were a couple and the apartment we had was massive. It was like flat sitting for a mate. Set over two floors, balcony, two double bedrooms, huge lounge with TV and a great kitchen and all for so much cheaper than we were being quoted for Whistler Village itself. The one downside is the drive to the slopes (although there's loads of parking in Whistler) and home from a night out which can limit your hedonism somewhat but for the money you save you can easily treat yourself to the odd cab.
Head office (where you need to go to pick up your keys: 4314 Main Street Whistler, BC V0N 1B4, Canada
+1 (604) 932 6599
Actual apartment complex: 2400 Cavendish Way
+1 (604) 932 6500
Google map: bit.ly/SixGn5
Fresh breakfast, picnic on the slopes, dinner in a restaurant and luxury accommodation .... and all at great value. Find a luxury apartment block being opened this year (like Le Centaure in Flaine (ski-in, ski-out, pool (next season) and what looks like fabulous accommodation) and its first season's prices are GREAT value. You won't find places like this is in any of the mainstream package brochures because they're printed too early so go to Ski Independence or Erna Low who are much more 'current' and provide great customer service. Cheapy flights, privately booked transfer and the basics for a luxury family of 4 for £1500 (at Easter!)
Flaine (but maybe somewhere else next year) only 1.5 hours from Geneva.
Because it's so lovely, and it's not only me that thinks so.
The place is such great value for money. Fab place for a short or week's break all year round, including Christmas.
In the Umbrian hills, just south of the more famous and crowded Tuscany, lies the medieval town of Gubbio, rich in history and tradition. A lovely place famous for the "Corsa dei Ceri" in which are brought to race through the streets of the city traditional wooden towers. Between the nearby hills, along a pleasant scenic drive brings you to the Tenuta Biscina. A lovely place, a real farm, where I spent very pleasant days admiring the surrounding landscape, savoring dishes in the typical restaurant and walking in the hills. A place of relax where I really recharged and rediscovered a contact with my innermost emotions.
Localita' Biscina, Gubbio, Perugia, 06024
Unique and idiosyncratic, the extravagant Ariau Amazon Towers, accessible by boat from Manaus, lies between the tea (without milk) -coloured Rio Negro and the dense Amazon Rainforest. Brightly coloured Macaws, troupes of monkeys and spider monkeys hang about checking out the eco-tourists. You stay in treetop rooms or tree houses, linked by about five miles of wooden catwalks looking down on the rainforest floor. Expert guides, mostly from the local area, take you deep into the forest on survival trips, discovering the extraordinary diversity of the Amazon rainforest and it’s importance to the world.
Kamikochi National Park, over 2000m above sea level, is one of the most beguiling places in the Japanese Alps. The lower mountain slopes are covered with forests of larch and beech that blaze scarlet and orange in the autumn. Barely perceptible wisps of smoke hang in the still air above Yakedake volcano and the glass surface of Taisho Pond perfectly reflects the snow-dusted Hotaka mountains.
There are well signposted climbing paths that wind up through the forest, and above the treeline there are the most spectacular views across the valleys.
We stayed in the Konashidaira Log Cabins, which sit in woods close to the forest trails and the tumbling River Azusa, and which we shared with families of macaques that swung from tree to tree above us.
This is a beautiful apartment on a farm estate in Tuscany that is ideal for families. The apartment is big enough for four and has a decent-sized shared pool with stunning views down the valley. It's about half an hour from Arezzo and there are shops at nearby Anghiari.
This wonderful house is located in the center of Havana with a wonderful view to the sea because is beside the Malecón (the esplande) in Havana. Clarita is the best and help me in all that I asked.
Marina # 61, Havana 10300, Cuba
This typical strip town in the heart of the White Mountain National Forest has been the centre of a couple of great hiking holidays for us. You're never more than an hour's drive from all the White Mountain's 4000-footers, but on your off days you've got a discount shopping mall which, with no sales tax, can satiate most retail needs. There are plenty of great restaurants and a real favourite of ours was the Flat Bread Pizza Company, and the Golden Gables Inn is a warm and friendly independent motel.
Flat Bread Pizza Company:
2760 White Mountain Highway North Conway, NH 03860, United States
+1(603) 356 4470
1814 White Mountain Highway North Conway, NH 03860, United States
+1 (603) 356 2878
Google map: bit.ly/R0AxD7
This hostel is a really, really beautiful and incredibly stylish hostel in Lindau. If you travel to Lake Constance you should definitely stay at here. One of the best boutique hostels that I know. Absolute recommendation.
Julian, just a couple of hours' drive from San Diego is a gem, small and unspoilt and a great place to spend a night or two. The Julian Hotel on the Main Street was originally opened as Robinson's Hotel in 1897 by a former slave and is warm, comfortable and super friendly with great breakfasts. Afternoon tea is an American take on English tea learnt from films of the 30s - indulgent.
The town has plenty of small, independent stores and places to eat and enough to occupy a lazy day, either en route over the mountains to San Diego or heading west to the Joshua Tree National Park and other wonders in Arizona.
Between Phoenix and the Grand Canyon,Prescott is a perfect place for a break. It's charming and historic, with antique shops, good museums, a brewery/restaurant, and the saloons of old Whisky Row. Try to book the comfortable Tom Mix room at the Hotel Vendome, where the cowboy movie star stayed while making his many silent films featuring Tony, The Wonder Horse. Nearby are lakes and trails galore - we wished we'd had longer to explore it all.
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