I suggest a campsite at only 350m from the amazing beach of Sant Pol, on the Costa Brava. They rent lovely wooden bungalows, private and unique, surrounded by flowers, trees and plants. It's very cosy and plenty of facilities for your holidays in wooden cottages.
Street: Doctor Fleming 1, E-17220 Sant Feliu de Guixols. www.campingsantpol.cat, phone +34 972327269, nearest airport is Girona-Costa Brava. GPS 41º 47’ 10’’ N, 3º 2’ 28’’ E
Glendalough in Ireland is one of the most serene places imaginable. A deeply glaciated valley (the water is cold!) with towering mountains, monastic ruins and an ever changing sky. Although its proximity to Dublin means it can be busy at the weekend , during the week it's usually all yours. The upper lake boasts crystal clear water and a shingle beach. We stayed in Aughavannagh Cottage, a short jaunt over the mountains in the next valley. Almost every morning we managed a swim before breakfast - the one exception was when we climbed Lugnaquilla, at just over 3000 feet, the highest mountain in Leinster.
This place is gorgeous and we go every year since we discovered it. It's a really easy and unstressful drive from Faro airport and has a perfect location, perched up on a hill above the small village of Estoi with views down to the sea. Easy acess to all the great fishing villages and good shopping in Faro, as well as amazing wildlife, walks etc.
It is a small chateau in Picardie,with a beautiful garden attached to it. The French owners also do chambres d'hotes, so you get to stay in a characterful real chateau. Pick the chambre du potager which has a view over the beautiful garden.
It is off the big A28 at Neufchatel-en-Bray along the A29 to the junction of D1015. Digeon is the pretty villege it is in. It is NW of Grandvilliers and SW of Amiens.
Absolutely lovely B&B and not expensive for Venice. It's near to the centre, comfortable, friendly, clean, beautiful and has its own kitchen in the room. We felt really at home and comfortable there.
Calle Zotti 3904a, Cannaregio, Near Ca' d'Oro. www.alsaor.com
A beautiful Caribbean island a short plane ride from San Andres. Very undeveloped and with some beautiful, empty palm fringed sandy beaches - picture postcard stuff. There's only a handful of small little hotels on the island - it's all low key tourism in Providencia.
Top tip - take a boat trip around the island and visit the beautiful Crab Caye, a great place for snorkelling or admiring the amazing shades of light blue.
This is a website which lists availability on all the B&Bs in Gent (or if not all, then certainly most of them).
Just click on the date you require and it can show you availability across the city. From there, you can deal directly with the establishment by email (and, as it's Belgium, you can do that in English!).
The hosts were lovely and so welcoming that they came to pick us up from the station and served us tea and homemade cookies upon arrival. In fact they made everything homemade, from the breakfast granola to the yummy bread, which made the house smell amazing. It's a wonderful place to unwind and have a peaceful break in the country. Nothing to do but walk, eat and sleep. Which is a good thing sometimes.
Lynn Pocket (Owner)
Througham Fields Cottage
When times are hard and friends are few, an affordable, yet stylish bolt hole may be the answer.
We’ve just stayed in a hotel in the Hautes Pyrenees in the south west of France that was just that, so much so, that the clientele - some 70% French, come back year after year telling only their closest family and friends.
The secret is that this service orientated business is run not by the French, but by an English couple, and that despite original art and ceramics on show, and very stylish decor both in the rooms and the rest of this lovely hotel, the prices are ‘budget’.
Less than 50 euros per night for half board, this hotel may be in the ‘Rough Guide’ as a selected place to stay and eat, but rough is the last thing it is - yet the label ‘smooth’ isn’t the ticket either.
00 33 5 62 97 09 52
Now Benidorm is not considered a resort where you would expect to find a high end luxury boutique style hostel/pension, but how pleasantly overwhelmed I was to find this little gem in the heart of the old town.
From first impression it looks like any other townhouse offering standard rooms until you climb the stairs to your room and see the vast amount of money which has been spent in the total refurbishment in 2008. I can only say: four-star hotel quality rooms at hostel rates. Air conditioning, huge wardrobes, flat screen TV, double glazing, top of the range power shower with radio!
That would be enough, but you also get a large room fridge, free Wifi and a complimentary continental breakfast of juices, coffee and cheese with local cold meats and fresh fruit.
And here is the other great bonus as a green supporter: the Grapevine is eco-friendly with unlimited hot water supplied from roof top solar panels reducing your carbon footprint!!
The lovely Spanish/British owners take care of you well and offer great value local food too to suit your time and budget. As for price - unbeatable I was given a double room for single use at just 30€ per night in April, amazing.
To sum up if you are on your travels up the Costa Blanca coast and find yourself in slightly tacky Benidom stop a night, head for the old town and search out the Grapevine. Expectations exceeded. Without a doubt, I would happily have paid three times the price.
Carrer Del Condestable Zaragoza 5
Casco Antiguo, Benidorm
Tel +34 965 857 375
Accommodation in a city can be expensive. When I want to stay in Amsterdam I more often than not stay at any of the fabulous campsites dotted around Amsterdam. There is a central one just behind Centraal Station across the water or several others in the outskirts of the city - they are always a bargain and well maintained - give it a go, camping in the city is fun.
All campsite information can be found through the Amsterdam tourist board.
I saw your piece on 'boutique' hostels and that you had recommended 41 Below. I've been in Bariloche for the last few weeks and can tell you that the best hostel in town is actually 1004.
It's on the top floor (10th) of the tallest building in town, which is, frankly, a bit of an eyesore from the outside. But the views from inside are something to behold, especially at sunrise and sunset.
Aside from that, it has a fantastic lounge area, balcony overlooking the lakes and mountains beyond, a really warm atmosphere and great staff. And a near-restaurant quality kitchen.
San Martín 127 (Pagano's corner) - Bariloche Center Building - 10th floor - Apartment 1004.
San Carlos de Bariloche (CP 8400) - Río Negro - Patagonia Argentina
It's not just a B&B, providing studios with kitchen and private bathroom, ideal for two people.
I spent a nice weekend in this B&B (that is located close to San Marco), with just 100 Euros per studio per night.
Great budget accommodation in typically pricey French Polynesia.
Away from the bustle of the capital Papeete, these bungalow villas are on the West Coast of Tahiti, and most have scenic views of the lagoon, ocean, or garden.
Each has kitchens for making your own food, and modern bathrooms with hot showers. Depending on which bungalow you get, you could probably fit around 2-4 in each.
The lagoon location is beautiful, and there's plenty do - from taking out the free kayaks to swimming in the pool. There is also an 18 hole golf course and great surfing nearby.
If you can't afford the luxury hotels and expensive spa retreats, these bungalows are a bargain island paradise.
Located between Cook and Opunohu Bays, the Pension is an idyllic cluster of beach bungalows, surrounded by a tropical garden. Even cheaper are the dormitories with a view of the lagoon, but we opted for the beach view bungalows - much more romantic! The rooms are cool and comfortable and typically Polynesian.
The Motu Iti restaurant is fantastic value and is on a shady deck over the lagoon. You can tuck in to fresh grilled fish for lunch, an all-American breakfast and local specialities for dinner.
The themed evenings and Ma'a Tahiti (traditional feast) were a major highlight!
Holiday Farm and B&B
Because it gives you a glimpse at the perfect life!
Paolo and Paola are the best hosts, the olive trees are magnificent and the wine from the vineyard is superb. We went for the Easter weekend and were astonished by the hospitality; we had the most amazing Easter breakfast and traditional Pranzo meal before we left. I went to visit an olive tree that had been adopted for me and arrived to find a bottle of the farm's wine waiting for us to enjoy at the base of it's trunk - by far the best setting to enjoy a bottle!
Bray, in Berkshire, was thought to have been Bibriocum to the Romans, but this place never existed and was made up by the cartographic forger, Richard of Cirencester. It is now home to two of the top restaurants in the county - the Roux's 3 Michelin starred: The Waterside Inn and The Fat Duck, also 3 Michelin Stars, owned by the renowned chef Heston Blumenthal.
If you are visiting Bray for an evening out, then an overnight stay is a must. And what could be better that a cosy cottage for two nestled on the banks of the Thames. We were lucky enough to stay at Bray Cottages' latest acquisition, Clematis Cottage, and ex-ferryman's home situated directly opposite The Waterside Inn.
Luxuriously decorated in dark purples and aubergines the cottage oozes a quiet sophistication with its decadent crystal chandeliers and romantic lighting. Throw in a smart Bang and Olufsen TV and open fire (gas luckily!) and relax amidst an abundance of comfy cushions with a glass of delicious sloe gin for an afternoon of peace and tranquility.
Both The Fat Duck and The Waterside Inn are easily accessible on foot, as are the local pubs: one of which also belongs to Mr Blumenthal. One former guest had written in the guest book that their Sunday morning lie-in had been interrupted by the close proximity to the restaurant and the associated comings and goings. However, this was not our experience at all. Far from it: we actually slept much later than normal!
Bray Cottages are both charming and elegant and provide an informal yet decadent stay for a peaceful, romantic evening.
A weekend trip to Edinburgh is a must by anyone's standard.
Unless you have to, ignore the modern day Prince's Street which is home to pubs and shops that you can find on any high street in any city in the country.
Instead head to the old part of town with the hidden alleyways and courtyards of The Royal Mile. At the top end, once the burning place for all the local witches, lies Edinburgh Castle perched atop a volcanic crag, while at the bottom lies Holyrood House - the Queen Mother’s imposing former residence.
At the entrance to the Castle is The Witchery Restaurant and rooms - voted in the top 3 most romantic destinations in the UK. Eight incredible rooms ranging from the library to the armoury are Gothic in style and extremely luxurious. I would defy anyone to stay here and not feel like a Lord.
Make sure you have a table booked at the Witchery Restaurant for the evening. My recommendation would be the Secret Garden, very romantic with a totally decadent ambience.
If you feel like working up an appetite before dinner then why not join Adam Lyal on a tour around "Auld Reekies" streets. This long dead Highwayman leads you through the haunted alleys with tales of wrong doings of ne'er do wells from Scottish history. A word of caution, you never know who you might bump into on this tour. ‘Jumper Ooters’ lurk on every corner- not for the faint hearted!
When you make it back to the land of the living make sure you pop into the wonderfully traditional Ensign Ewart for a pre dinner drink. The eponymous hero won a VC for charging the French lines and capturing one of Napoleons Eagles and his story is displayed on the walls of the pub.
There are so many other tours available in Edinburgh. From the Ghostly to the factual they all represent its long (and often bloody) history. The Restaurant scene is fast springing up in Leith, the dockside area of Edinburgh. Leith is currently under regeneration and transforming into a very modern and lively location.
Edinburgh is a very cosmopolitan city and there are some 13 million visitors every year to the Tattoo, Festival and historic buildings. It is also a UNESCO world heritage site, testament to its architecture and history. Superb bars and restaurants blend with the older buildings bringing old and new together on these cobbled streets.
Pay them a visit - just be sure to take a peep round every corner. You never know who or what you might bump into!
This is a great hostel – pretty new and just ten minutes on the Metro from the Eurostar at Gare du Nord. They’ve got private rooms, dorms, free WiFi, an internet café, a bar, a sauna and a soundproof nightclub in the basement too!
The guys on reception told me it’s on the same canal where they filmed Amélie and that the building’s a remake of the old nineteenth century warehouse - Magasins Généraux, which burnt down in 1990.
The location is right on the Bassin de la Villette - Paris’ biggest artificial pool of water which hooks up to the Seine via the Canal St-Martin. Because of this spot’s popularity the builders had to bring in the famous architects, Chaix et Morel - the same guys who were behind the restoration of the Petit Palace.
On foot you can reach the Buttes Chaumont Park in no time and also the Parc de la Villette, which includes the Science Museum.
The routes into the city are pretty easy too. Crimée Station on Metro Line 7 is only 200 meters away and takes you straight to the department stores around Opéra, the Louvre, Le Marais and the Latin Quarter.
The Laumière station on Metro Line 5 is about 400 meters away and will take you to the Bastille, the Oberkampf night spots and the Latin Quarter.
Also there’s the Jaurès Station on Metro Line 2, again only 400 meters away. This goes to the Arc de Triomphe, Pigalle, the Père Lachaise cemetery and Montmartre.
From the hostel itself you can organise bike tours, walking tours, a Paris induction, basic French language classes and day trips to places like Versailles, and Giverny.
St Christopher's Inn
159 rue de Crimée
Phone: 00 44 207 407 1856
Metro: Crimée, Laumière or Jaurès.
Chalet Soltir is run by an English couple. The house is 150 years old and completely renovated. It's fully catered chalet sleeping 12 people with all the mod cons and luxury you would get in a French chalet but at half the price. Our holiday was the best we had for years. The snow was great and the kids loved it.
00359 895 386 856
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