The small island of Santorini is stunningly beautiful, with its old world traditional Greek charm and breathtaking views. However, it is one of the most expensive of the Greek islands, so our advice is to stay on the much cheaper east side of the island in a resort such as Kamari or Perissa. In the evening you can take a short bus ride (cheap fares and frequent service) to the more exclusive west side villages of Thira and Oia where you can dine in the cliff top restaurants whilst watching the spectacular sunsets. The other advantage of staying on the lower east side of the island is that this is where the beaches are located. Whatever you might read in the guidebooks, Oia does not have a beach! Many tourists make the trek down the long, steep winding path to the sea, in the sweltering heat, only to find a disappointing pile of rocks and pebbles awaiting them!
This is a stunning place with a huge garden surrounded by vineyards. The rooms are large, clean and well decorated. We were welcomed by the host with nibbles and wine like friends and not like paying guests. They provided us with all kind of information even for our way back home. I especially loved the breakfast with all kinds of hot and cold food, freshly picked out of the garden. It was a fantastic stay and we will definitely come back.
We recently rented this homely lovely apartment for a five day stay in Istanbul and had a fantastic time. It was pretty cheap considering the size and location. There are two double rooms and another room with two single beds, kitchen, living room/dining room, one little bathroom, a little balcony and all the mod cons you'll need on holiday.
The views from the apartment look straight across the Golden Horn with the Topkapi Palace and the Blue Mosque visible in the distance.
The area (Beyoglu) was fantastic! Not very touristy (which I thought was great) but still with loads and loads of things to do, see and eat. A young hip crowd, loads of bars, shops, restaurants and very easy transport around the city (or walk to the Grand Bazaar in 30mins). The owner gave us a little personal tour around the area when we arrived showing us good local restaurants, bars, cafe and the best places to eat local delights.
Only one thing that might be a problem - it gets a bit noisy on Friday and Saturday nights due to the numerous restaurants nearby - the locals like to party around here, so probably not great for kids but it didn't bother us much. Other than that - is excellent in almost every way.
'Corfu' and 'island retreat' may not be words which the traveller may think go together but there are still a few underdeveloped pockets located on the Albania-facing coastline of this green Greek isle. Tucked into the north-east is the village of Kalami, which makes a great base for exploring this rocky peninsula by bus, car, moped or legs. Heading north along the pretty coastal path leads you to a bay backed with swaying eucalyptus. Here at Kerasia, the lone taverna is the coolest move to avoid the midday sun. South of Kalami, a more rugged path, which itself passes through deserted bays and coves, ends at Agni. This gourmet's paradise plays host to three tavernas - all revered by gastronomes from the island and afar. Indeed, the most popular, Agni Taverna, was the purported location of the meeting between Peter Mandelson and George Osborne last year. I guess they thought it was a neat retreat as well!
Hotel Andreas on Agistri. This is a really friendly place for couples and families who don't want the usual hotel package with entertainment et al. The best recommedation for Agistri is that it's where the Greeks go for holidays! We love the place. Also known as the best-kept secret in the Saronic Islands, only an hour and a half by catamaran from Piraeus.
By far the best way to visit Greece is to take a flight only into Athens then take the one hour bus ride to the port Piraeus. Have a mental list of islands you wish to visit - use the many ticket agents to find a conveniently timed ferry. Outside the period mid-July to end of August finding accommodation is easy as people will meet incoming ferries. In Naxos I recommend Hotel Galini in Naxos Town. Other islands worth visiting, which can be reached easily from Naxos, are Syros, Amorgos, Folegandros and Donhoussa. Read a good travel book before you go!
Its a beautiful house, nestled in an enchanting coconut groove. The groove overlooks a large open paddy field to its east. Beyond the paddy field is a river, then a hill in the horizon. The sunrise is so beautiful here, its like a slice out of paradise.
There's no one around to disturb you, its just you in the lap of mother nature.
The serene Keri Beach is nearby, just 500 meters away.
The owner is Mr. Brian Fernandes, he can be contacted at Brianferns@gmail.com or at
Fortunately none of the major package operators go to Milos but it is still relatively easy to get to. Stay in Adamas at the Chronis Hotel which has the most amazing buffet breakfasts.
For something very different and to see parts of the island that no-one else will, then try sea kayaking organised by an affable Aussie called Rod. It's a really memorable day out.
Mykonos does have the reputation for being a party island but if you are looking for a serious bit of R&R, head to Ostraco Suites. Situated on a hilltop just above the hustle and bustle of Mykonos town, this is a fantastic place to stay. We were met at the airport by one of the staff and welcomed with an upgrade on arrival to a suite for a few nights which was heaven! Rooms are really luxurious and the breakfasts are served on the veranda - fresh fruit, home baked breads and so on - the list goes on. If you do feel like heading into the lively town centre, try Interni restaurant, an incredible setting tucked away in the old town and delicious food/cocktails. One other tip, Ostraco Suites will organise jeep hire for you - we hired one for a few days to explore the island and stumbled across beautiful Fokos beach, deserted with a huge stretch of white sand (just remember to take your own picnic/water etc as there are no bars or kiosks nearby, just one taverna on the beach only open from 1-7pm!)
My husband and I just returned from another trip to Marrakesh . Incredible city with a special attraction! We stayed this time at Riyad Al Moussika. ( www.riyad-al-moussika.com ), and our sojourn there, was fantastic. There are riads with cheaper fares, but if you consider that lunches are included, it is not. In addition to that its location is very closed to the square Jemaa El Fna, the main square of the Medina, but you can reach it as well by taxi. Our room had a loggia and a private terrace on the roof both overlooking the swimming pool which is so well conceived that looks like an old Andalusia basin as in the Medersa Ben Youssef. Remarkable job as it is the rest of the Riad that has been restored with a strict respect of the Moorish architecture without any concession to the present widespread Disneyland-like way of restoration I saw in the others riads where we stayed in our previous visits to the red city: A mix and match of pseudo oriental styles, more a movie set, than real places. At Riad Al Moussika it’s possible to feel the presence of the past and the authenticity of the place embrace pleasantly its guests: A timeless spot with a genius loci!. All of the staff speak good English, thing not very common in Morocco , and they were all exceptional, but Badreddine deserves a special mention. He was unbeatably helpful and all the times with a smile. The exceptional quality of the breakfast and lunches is certainly the best we had in Marrakech so far, although the fact that those are included in the rates like all non alcoholic beverages, refreshments and the delicious Moroccan patisserie served at the tea-times. If you want to have more sybarite pleasures, spoil yourself in the hammam : Unforgettable relaxing experience. In conclusion, Riyad Al Moussika is a spectacular place where we will stay in our future visits to Marrakech, and worth every cents, (I mean dirham)!
Marrakech, 62 derb Boutouil-Kennaria
00212 524 389067
The island of Ikaria feels off the beaten track in Greece. It is a mountainous island, near Samos in the eastern Aegean with some beautiful beaches. You need your own transport as buses are almost non-existent and when you are away from the main roads you often find yourself driving on dirt roads. Ikaria is a bit of a voyage of discovery. For me, a special place is to be found near the small village of Arethusa, half way up a mountain side, with a wonderful view of the sea – here you find the Ikarian Centre, where you can stay, and if you wish, join a Greek language course. I stayed there for 2 weeks in 2008 and it felt like I was part of a small community for a couple of weeks; a world away from busy urban life and busy tourism. We learnt some Greek, and we learnt about the island, and Greece; we went hiking, had a cooking lesson, learnt some Greek dances and had plenty of time left over to swim and explore the local tavernas.
For those of you who need to pinch the pennies this year, I'll let you in on a little tip.
The full-on party resort of Laganas in Zante is often top of the list for cheap and cheerful package bargains with tour operators, but it is also a little too hectic and youthful for those of us who are after a relaxing break away from it all.
However if you want to take advantage of low prices and have a civilised holiday experience simply take a short and scenic walk west along the beach, around a headland and past a tiny islet, to discover a small, welcoming and attractive village with its own beautiful beach and a much more authentic feel.
An uninhabited island called Marathonisi, or Turtle Island, lies opposite Aghios Sostis' bay and is named after the creature its shape resembles - the Loggerhead turtles that nest their eggs on the pretty beaches surrounding the island. The rural setting of Aghios Sostis is set against the peaceful countryside of olive groves and pine trees and an imposing mountain backdrop.
If you want to get out and about in Zante there is plenty to see and do: Navagio (Smugglers) Cove with its impressive white cliffs and pale sands is a sight to behold; the Blue Caves, discovered in 1897, are breathtaking for snorkelers and sightseers alike; the Byzantine and Venetian capital of Zante, Zante Town, is the island's cultural and commercial centre with many shops, museums and churches; and last but not least, there are many tiny and traditional mountain villages to be explored.
So for a credit crunching holiday - stay in Laganas but holiday in Aghios Sostis!
Aghios Sostis, Laganas Bay, Zante, Greece.
Self-catering apartment full of character in the mountains near some of the best paragliding sites in Europe. Run by wonderful hosts Ruth and Ulric Jessop, who do everything they possibly can to ensure you have a fantastic holiday, making sure you are well fed and watered (despite the "self catering" tag"), providing loads of suggestions of good things to do/eat/see in the area, and keeping you entertained with stories of all their amazing adventures skiing, paragliding, rickshaw racing, and living in France generally.
Paros Heaven is set on the Greek island Paros in the Aegean Sea.
We stayed there for two weeks in June and felt really part of the Greek Nature and Culture. It has amazing views over Anti-Paros and Angeliki made us feel really at home.
The Bozburun peninsula is largely a conservation area, perfect for nature lovers and exploring uncrowded, pretty bays with crystal clear water and for enjoying stunning views (car essential!). You can see gulets being built in Bozburun, a lively harbour town.
We stayed in the traditional village of Bayir, known for its ancient plane tree, up in the hills above the coast. The hosts of our stone villa, set in a wild, organic garden overlooking a valley, were charming. Ayhan, the owner, an energetic and qualified archaeological guide can take you on hikes or tours around the region.
Follow signs to Bozburun from Marmaris, you will find other towns and villages (e.g.Turunc, Sogut and Bayir) signposted. The drive down to Turunc has beautiful views. Explore from there... The Chalet Vista in Bayir can be booked through the owner, Ayhan, directly: email@example.com (or the villarenters website, which has photos).
Smart, stylish hotel in the new Leopold Square development. Nice rooms, good breakfast (buffet or a-la-carte options), close to a selection of nice restaurants. Service was friendly, verging on the over-fussy side (e.g. personal items 'tidied' within the room, but to be fair, when I left a note expressing a preference that my things be left as I had arranged them, this subsequently stopped).
Leopold Square, Sheffield
On April 28th 2009 you will be able to experience the Greek Easter celebrations. A Greek or a Cretan Easter is nothing like our own and involves a lot more than giving chocolate eggs.
Families give and receive red eggs, dyed red to represent the blood of Christ. During the day families and friends get together to have a huge BBQ and usually spit roast a pig or lamb and break Easter bread, cooked for generations by a recipe handed down from mother to daughter.
At night you will see great firework celebrations and bonfires, and the little villages go mad for a night. If you book a nice family hotel or know a Greek family you will of course get dragged along to the celebrations and I can tell you it’s wonderful, I got given a handful of firecrackers and was told just to go mad.
You really have to visit Crete at this time, and after spending the past 4 Easter's in Malia I can heartily recommend seeing this town at its traditional best, this is of course before Malia becomes the hectic and debauched party town it’s known for in the summer months.
Fab flat in the centre of Barcelona with a garden which I found while searching on google. The owners have kept all the original features like the mosaic tiles so you really get into the atmosphere. We had a great stay- perfect for trying out all the restaurants in town.
A unique bed & breakfast in a fabulous setting. The cortijo is a restored farmhouse which has a boutique feel. A real hotel experience at B&B prices.
From Almeria or Murcia airports
With the credit crunch really starting to bite and the Euro being so bad against the pound, I'd like to recommend North Cyprus as the place to go on holiday. I've been going on a regular basis for many years and have completely fallen in love with the place.
Apart from being exceptionally good value for money, North Cyprus has so much to offer - great beaches, beautiful historic sites, amazing wildlife, fantastic but cheap restaurants, friendly locals and much more. I go there to get away from the hustle and bustle of life and always come home feeling completely relaxed (even when I've taken the kids).
I always stay at the Mountain View Hotel, a 3-star English/Cypriot family run hotel in Kyrenia, as I'm made to feel so at home and am always shown to the best local restaurants. If you haven't been - North Cyprus really is a must visit place!
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