Newly opened, this hostel was a great bargain. Right smack in the middle of the city, it was less than a five minute walk to Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square. The common room was nice because it had a TV and there was a fully equipped kitchen to make snacks. Access to internet was also really easy. Breakfast in the morning was cheap and delicious – you can’t ask for much more from a cheap hostel in Prague!
Národní 19, Praha 2,
120 00, Prague, Czech Republic, 120 00,
From the moment you arrive at Riad Kniza you know you are staying somewhere special. It's an oasis of tranquility set within the city walls and only a few steps from the bustling narrow streets of Marrakech. An excellent location within the ancient Medina and only a few minutes walk to the main historic sights. The riad is tastefully decorated and the suites luxuriously appointed and very comfortable. The swimming pool in the open courtyard is very inviting and a welcome place to cool down after relaxing on the comfortable sun loungers on the rooftop terrace. All the staff were exceptionally friendly and nothing was too much trouble for them. They really made us feel at home during our stay and this all added to the fabulous experience of staying in the real Marrakech.
A real hidden gem of a hotel sitting on the edge of Scotland's only lake - the rest are lochs. Newly refurbished in a low key New England style, the views are to die for, the service is friendly but unobtrusive and the food is exceptional. It's only an hour from Scotland's big cities but you truly feel like a million miles away. The setting has incredible feeling of peace and tranquility about it that revives the soul and feeds the spirit (or perhaps that's the great whisky collection!)
We recently visited Montreal and enjoyed a wonderful stay at Atmosphere. It is warm and welcoming and gives its guests all the goodness of feeling “right at home” perfectly combined with the pleasure of being on vacation. The food is delicious - everyone knows that - but the ambiance is what makes it even more special. Located in a funky little area of Montreal which is cool but quiet and within walking distance to Rue St. Catherine, Old Montreal and some great restaurants (Patryck can recommend a few) - it was the perfect location. Patryck pays attention to detail, as exhibited in his meal preparation as well as the renovations he made. Patryck and Elizabeth have found the recipe for hospitality and we’re so glad we found them. We highly recommend this B&B and feel assured that you will leave with the same feeling as we did - like you made new friends. In just two words, absolute perfection.
Nearly beaudry station (green line)
I recommend staying a this very reasonably priced gite for two to three people in the beautiful Languedoc in south-west France. The English owner will do everything to make your stay a wonderful French experience. This gite is also suitable for disabled visitors with its superb wet room.
She can be contacted at:
I have been reflecting on some of my travel highlights of 2008 and it would be no exaggeration to say that top of the list came my trip to Sri Lanka in late October – and in particular my visit to Mahatenne House on the Ashburnham estate.
The guest house is situated on a working 70 acre tea plantation on the side of a mountain in the Knuckles Range, close to Elkaduwa. It is run by an ex-City whizz highflier type who (ahead of the credit crunch curve) reassessed his priorities in life and stepped off the London treadmill to go and live The Good Life on the other side of the world.
It is futile to try and convey the magic of my experience in words, but I will attempt to paint a picture with a few broad brushstrokes.
The day typically starts with breakfast served on the verandah while the morning mist and clouds unfurl to reveal the breathtaking view of rolling green hills and valleys, carpeted with tea plantations.
You will not be short of things to do during the day (children and adults alike): go for an exploratory wander around the estate – the ultimate Swallows and Amazons fantasy; take a power shower under the most beautiful 60ft waterfall at the bottom of the estate, reached by a 400 step path; anyone for a game of tennis on the newly refurbished court?; go and watch the daily weighing of tea; enjoy a refreshing dip in the swimming pool and lounge by the poolside catching up on all that holiday reading; or just sit on the verandah and breathing in the intoxicating air whilst contemplating life in peace and serenity. For Doctor Doolittle fans there are four resident dogs, a lake full of fish (which also yields some great meals), wild chipmunks that scurry through the trees, an array of beautiful birds and butterflies scattering a kaleidoscope of vivid colour everywhere (as far away as you can get from London’s monotone shades of grey), but most delightfully of all, Menike, a beautiful female elderly elephant, enjoying a peaceful retirement on the estate, her most arduous task these days carrying the occasional bare back passenger down to the waterfall. Sitting out after dark in planters’ chairs listening to the nocturnal chorus of cicadas under a canopy of glittering stars is mesmerising – the perfect lullaby.
The host is a very gregarious and generous character, and the staff are incredibly friendly and attentive (but unobtrusive) – you will be left wanting for nothing. The home-cooked meals are delicious and the (few) rooms are clean and quiet – not aiming to be top notch “boutique hotel” but very comfortable, and the rates are a real bargain.
This place really made an indelible impression on me – the memories of my trip will stay with me forever. Whether you are a lone traveller in search of something slightly off the beaten track, or a family looking for a package that will keep the children entertained whilst giving adults a peaceful break, I urge you to seek out this piece of paradise and complete the picture for yourself (apologies for plagiarising the previous submission).
Note: All the clichés contained in this account are statements of fact; all the superlatives are an understatement
Elkaduwa | 40 kilometres North of Kandy, Elkaduwa, Sri Lanka
tel: 0094 (0)66 4920206
Crows Nest Cottage is one of the prettiest Victorian cottages in the New Forest. The cottage is set in Lyndhurst which is known as the capital of the new Forest.
The open forest is but a few strides away, where New Forest ponies, donkeys and cattle graze just yards from the front door.
Lyndhurst village centre with its wide choice of cafes, pubs and restaurants is only a few minutes walk away. Terra Vina and Les Mirabelles, two of the top restaurants in Hampshire are closeby and are highly recommended for the discerning diner.
Crows Nest Cottage is ideally located for many interesting walks which start directly from the cottage. One of our favourites goes north up to Fox Hill, then across through Dockens Wood to the New Forest Golf Club, up onto Bolton's Bench, along the Ridge, down to the very beautiful Longwater Lawn and back to the cottage via Lyndhurst High Street - not forgetting to stop for a coffee in La Parisienne cafe on the way back.
Lyndhurst is the ideal base from which to explore the many local attractions such as the Beaulieu Motor Museum and Broadlands, the home of Earl Mountbatten.
A good day out can be had by taking the ferry across to the Isle of Wight, walking directly across the Island from Yarmouth to Freshwater Bay where you literlly seem to step back in time. If you feel energetic, you can continue to walk along the cliffs up to the Tennyson monument and along to see a stunning view of the Needles.
Lyndhurst, New Forest,
Kaliandra is the most fabulous place, 21 hectares of forest, paths and hidden statues with four different levels of accommodation. It runs social and environmental programmes and does tours to support its work. The people are charming, the food (Javanese) is great, there's a high ropes course and mountain bikes for hire, there are hiking trails - and you can round it all off with a massage. Or have a more relaxing time learning the gamelan, or batik, or yoga - it's a gem. It's actually about 12 kms from Tretes but pretty easy to get to - one and a half hours from Surabaya, an hour from Malang.
The delightful Kingfisher Lodge, near Pakse, is a lovely place. For once, it's an eco-lodge which isn’t just a case of greenwash – they really do everything possible to minimise their carbon footprint, from using low-wattage light-bulbs to installing their own rainwater storage tanks. The lodges look out over flooded paddy fields, with hammocks so you can lie back and enjoy the scenery.
From there, you can take an elephant up Mount Phou Asa, a forested outcrop standing up above the plains where black columns of flat stones are all that’s left of a former temple. After gently swaying up a forested track, we descended from the elephant to explore the smooth rock summit, amongst rain-fed pools and tranquil groves and the temple pillars. Birds flit back and forth and, looking outwards, the plains stretch far into the distance.
The Sala Savanh is a former colonial building pleasantly converted into an atmospheric small hotel, with time-darkened wooden floors and chairs on balconies round the upper-floor rooms. I stayed two nights here in September 2008.
There’s also a surprisingly good choice of restaurants in the town, perhaps a legacy from the French colonial period: we ate at a charming restaurant on the main square one night and on the next at a floating restaurant on the Mekong, outlined in coloured lights and bobbing gently with the swell of the river.
Savannakhet itself is one of the former ports along the mighty Mekong, which flows north to south through Laos. These provincial towns are just emerging from the somnolence of post-colonialism and the economic straitjacket of Communism, and – as with Luang Prabang – retain many of their fine, French-era buildings.
It's a small, boutique style hotel right on the Mekong. The rooms are invididually decorated - very individual in some cases, with the bath/shower right in the bedroom. It has tea and coffee and a fridge, the rooms are spacious, and it's all very comfortable, with free wifi access. It's just a short walk from the centre of town and from lots of riverside cafes.
The Druid Circle is an ancient, historic site in the Snowdonian Mountains. If you are looking for solitude and tranquility and enjoy a brisk hike, this is the place to visit.
Follow the A55 coastal route, past Conwy and turn off at the village of Penmaenmawr. From here the Mountain Road will lead you right up to the foot of the Snowdonian Mountains from where you may follow the footpath to the Druid Circle. There is no vehicular traffic so a good pair of walking boots is adviseable. Also, there are no refreshments or ameneties along the way. The ideal backpack hike.
There is a train station in Penmaenmawr but trains will only stop on request. Be sure to inform the conductor if you wish to stop at Penmaenmawr station. The village offers a cafe, chip shop, Spar and chemist as well as a wonderful beach at the foot of the Snowdonia National Park.
Please visit: www.north-wales-holiday-cottages.co.uk and take a look at Gwelfor House, the perfect place to stay for a short break, week-end or family holiday, situated in the charming village of Penmaenmawr.
A smart modern hotel, in the Cite Internationale development by the river. It's a 10 minute bus or tram ride from the centre of the city.
If you book an executive room you get access to a fitness suite, jacuzzi, and Executive Lounge for breakfast, refreshments all day, evening free drinks (alcoholic) and free food from 6pm to 8.30pm
Hilton Lyon, 70 quai Charles de Gaulle, 0478 175050
Loch Ness is a short drive from the city centre of Inverness and a cruise offers you a chance to relax and enjoy some breathtaking scenery.
There are plenty of beautiful towns and villages around the area such as Fort Augustus and Drumnadrochit that are worth a detour and Inverness offers a perfect base for exploring the area.
www.hotelsininverness.net - Great for finding a place to stay in Inverness
Rottnest Island (or 'Rotto' to the locals), is a 30 minute catamaran ride from Fremantle. It's the only place where you can see quokka, which resemble small kangaroos.
Rottnest has fabulous beaches in crystal clear water and is great for a day out or short trip from Perth. No cars are permitted, so cycling is popular.
A hotel and beer garden overlook Thomson's Bay and there are a selection of food outlets and cafes at the Settlement.
You can even stay in the former Aboriginal jail, which is now a hotel.
Ferry from Fremantle to Rottnest (booking ahead is recommended). Return journey approx $60 at time of writing.
Google map: tinyurl.com/kuw36s
On our most recent visit (of many) to county Kerry in October 2008, we had a wonderful week’s stay in a house that we found from KenmareRentals.com, prompting us into posting this recommendation. The house was very spacious and comfortable, and offered us a relaxing base from which we could enjoy the town of Kenmare (about two miles away), and explore the various peninsulas on the wild west coast of Ireland. We’re pleased to say the owner could not have been more friendly or helpful and, although the house we rented was just one of many that he runs (as well as a busy pub and guest house in the town), he gave us his full attention for anything we needed, as well as helpful advice when we had to adjust plans after a disrupted ferry service from the UK.
We had chosen a house on a hill not far from Kenmare and enjoyed the fine views across the bay to the mountains of Macgillicuddy’s Reeks. If we had wanted to be closer into town, so that we could walk in each evening more easily, KenmareRentals.com also has houses on the outskirts but, after a substantial pub lunch each day, we were happy to settle into the comfortable house for the autumn evenings to read or watch DVDs with the open fire making it cosy. About 10 minutes walk from the house we rented, the Sailor’s Bar is a great place for a drink, with a warm welcome and local atmosphere. In the town of Kenmare itself, there are plenty of good places to drink and eat, with the house owner’s O’Donnabhain’s having a good buzz, while Davitt’s next door always served great food. Overall, a great week, heartily recommended and we’re sure to return.
Miss Sophies is a clean, modern hotel/hostel on a quiet side street a short walk from Wenceslas Square. No breakfast, but the rooms are excellent and the price for its location is hard to beat.
Address: Melounova 3, 120 00 Prague 2.
Telephone: (420) 296303530.
This YHA hostel may be a little outside the city centre and a tad severe, but it provides clean, modern rooms at a reasonable price, and that is not to be sniffed at in Salzburg.
Address: Aigner Strasse 34.
Telephone: (43) 662623248.
Getting there: A 20-minute walk along the river or a No. 7 bus from the centre.
Google map: tinyurl.com/md8gc8
The perfect base for exploring the beautiful lake district outside Salzburg. A lovely town on the edge of Fuschlsee, it offers a variety of hikes from the leisurely stroll around the lake to long taxing routes toward San Gilgen. Fuschl has several hotels, a well-run camp site, and Edenbergers restaurant.
Getting there: Bus No. 150 runs every hour from Salzburg bus station.
Google map: tinyurl.com/pwh2hz
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