The hotel has decent air-con rooms for a reasonable price (I got 50% off the ratecard so barter hard) - nothing special, but better than many. The reason I am recommending it is the staff, who were absolutely fantastic. I arrived in a bit of a state and they took care of me, and went far above and beyond the call of duty in trying to re-arrange my flight home. They could not have been more kind and that makes a big difference when you're travelling alone so I highly recommend this hotel (at least in the immediate future, presuming that the staff don't change!).
Pahar Ganj, on the left-hand side as you walk away from New Delhi station (about 100m down).
Instead of trekking accompanied by 50 ponies plus handlers, guides and cooks (which somewhat destroys the peace and quiet of the Himalayas), stay in local homestays instead. It means that you only need a small bag to carry clothes etc, as all food plus water refills and bedding is provided. We didn't even have a guide but used a good map and compass, and it was so much better to be able to go where we wanted, when we wanted, rather than being constrained by a guide's plan. The homestays were fantastic and a great way to meet local people and eat local food. We even learnt a bit of Ladakhi and helped people learn some more English. The company which started the homestay is also a charity which works with villagers to preserve the local environment and wildlife, so you're actually doing some good too. The whole thing felt like a really valid exchange, with everyone benefitting.
Himalayan Homestays - several of the tour operators in Leh will help you book this, but you have to ask as they would prefer to sell you an expensive guided trek (of course). You can buy a map of the homestays, with suggested routes (choice of three) for 150Rs.
Uncle Tan's is a very basic camp located in the heart of the rainforest near Sandakan. It can be quite tough - squat toilets, lots and lots of mosquitos and mud, long walks through jungle - but the chance to see the wildlife is unbeatable. I saw a dominant male orangutan from about 5m away, plus a reticulated snake, tarantula, scorpion, lots of proboscis monkeys, bearded pigs, hornbills etc. Fantastic place with brilliant fun staff and a lovely communual atmosphere.
On the main road to Semporna, a few miles outside Sandakan (quite near airport) - any bus will drop you off if you tell them where you're going. Make sure you get cash out first though, as there are no ATMs for miles.
Sipadan and nearby Mabul offer some of the best scuba diving and snorkelling in the world. I stayed at Uncle Chang's which is actually on Mabul, so you can dive in and snorkel straight off the front of the dining room.
The dorms are basic, but there's a fantastic open-sided dining room/common area with the sea lapping against the supports. The food is good and plentiful, and the price is really good value (50 ringgit per night, full board). Make sure you book in advance though, and tell them that you want to dive at Sipadan, as there are only limited spots on the trip each day and people had to wait a few days if they had just turned up.
You can fly to Tawau from Kuala Lumpur, then a fairly expensive taxi ride to Semporna. The mainland office is next to the large Dragon Hotel on the sea-front, and the boat leaves for Mabul every morning. www.sipadanbackpackers.com/
Superb location. Just inside the medina walls and across from the Koutobia Mosque. Very central and in a good location. It cost us £114.00 for four nights for a double room in August 2008.
It is basic three-star accommodation in Morocco. May not be the equivalent of three-star in Europe but comfortable none the less. Only word of warning is that it is not a particularly quiet hotel.
279 Avenue Mohamed V, Marrakech
(across from Koutobia mosque)
Book with www.hotelconnect.co.uk
The Emporium hotel (opened Jun07) is to be highly recommended. Super service with fantastic luxurious rooms makes it a great place to stay. The hotel is located in the Emporium Food and fashion precinct in the 'Valley.
Cheap it is not, but it's worth the stay. I also have to mention that the entrance to the hotel is... amazing!
Fantastic hostel with great individual rooms and apartments. We stayed in the Budapest suite, four beds, separate kitchen and own facilities.
Five minute walk to old town square and ten from river. Also a nice little bar and left luggage facilities.
I recently spent two weeks in a beautiful part of
Tuscany called Val di Chiana, near a village called Pozzo della Chiana, in the province of Arezzo.
The place where I stayed was Villa Scannagallo - a beautiful country house divided into apartments, with an amazing garden, swimming pool, bbq facilities and breathtaking view of the surrounding olive groves.
The owners are very welcoming and each apartment is beautifully furnished. And it is not expensive either! I highly recommend it to anybody: families, couples, group of friends...
The real star of the beautiful Lost In Translation, this towering masterpiece is the best way of retreating after a bewildering working day in Tokyo. The New York Bar on the top floor is super-hip and the swimming pool/spa, on the 53rd floor, is breathtaking. If you don’t have the cash – or the expense budget – a normal room is certainly good enough, but if you do book a Park Suite (with its separate bedroom) or, best of all, its signature Diplomatic Suite: with its own library, dining room and grand piano, it is a spectacular way to wind down and wow your clients.
The only problem with the Park Hyatt is its location – Shinjuku is good for business irrefutably (it’s the Financial District) but it’s also fairly dull.
The Conrad Tokyo’s major attraction is its location. Walking distance from the Hamarikyu Garden and the legendary Tsukiji Fish Market (amongst other tourist delights), this is the place to stay if you don’t have a weekend (go for the Hyatt if you do) but do have time to explore in the evenings. The in-house Gordon Ramsay restaurants are also a bonus. Book an Executive Room or an Executive Suite; the latter is exceptional value given its 83 square metre size.
Upon arrival in Tokyo Narita International airport (or just before you leave!), don't just rush headlong into the city... If you have come long-haul and are tired, there's nothing better than to get your head down at one of the airport hotels for a few hours, and then use Narita as a gentle introduction to Japan/Tokyo. It is a nice small town, which is very walkable, and has many little gems including a temple, local restaurants, shops and backstreet pubs. Prices for food, hotels et al will be much cheaper that Tokyo city, and it allows you to acclimatise in a much less hectic/congested atmosphere. I have always found it a perfect way to take a breather before business in Japan and/or exploring the country on vacation.
For a place to stay, Shangri-la draws the suited and booted but is also the hangout for beautiful people. The Horizon Club serves canapés in the lounge every evening and there’s wireless broadband throughout.
When visiting Sydney the temptation is to stay in the Rocks (the district the world thinks of as Sydney). Don't, it's a tourist trap. Instead, consider Kings Cross or Darlinghurst. These districts are the heart of Sydney. Not as pretty but much more fun.
Google map: tinyurl.com/nee7m7
If you want to be in with the media and creative set then I suggest you book a room at the New Majestic in Chinatown – it is a bespoke hotel in which each room has been designed by local names from the theatre, cinema and fashion industries. There is wireless broadband internet access in all the rooms and there are huge free-standing bath tubs and plasma TV screens.
Until very recently, Singapore was your quintessential Asian city in accommodation terms. Everything had to be big, big, big: every fixture grand, every room opulent. The Raffles though was (and still probably is) the very best of that bunch; in fact, it’s the stuff of legends. Since opening in 1886, the last Singapore tiger was shot underneath the Bar and Billiards room (1902), the first Singapore sling was mixed at the Long Bar (1915), and, like Chateau Marmont in LA, a series of film stars have called it home. All the writers that you might associate with the waning years of the empire – Joseph Conrad, W Somerset Maugham, and Rudyard Kipling – have lived here. English colonels gathered here to sing “There Will Always Be an England” after Singapore surrendered to Japan in 1942. In short, Raffles embodies all that was glamorous about the Far East in colonial times. Nowadays, it’s still a glamorous bolthole. Its near-perfect Victorian imitation décor now looks a touch naff, but, with 2.5 staff per guest, you’ll be pampered like Gardner and Taylor were half a century ago. Its own Indian food is brilliant but so are the vendors outside the hotel – try the curries, noodles and satays safe in the knowledge that no food in Singapore makes you ill. And its rooms are perfect for relaxing in after a 13 hour flight. You can even stay in a Personality Suite, named after Conrad, Kipling, Chaplin, Wayne and others.
1 Beach Road Singapore 189673
Tel: +65 6337 1886
Fax: +65 6339 7650
Its exterior – an iconic colonial relic, designed in the style of such classical Greek structures as the Parthenon – may be exquisitely preserved, but there's nothing colonial within the walls of the present-day Fullerton. The interiors are clean, bold, and contemporary. Its infinity pool is bang up-to-date, its bathrooms stocked with custom-made Bulgari products, its restaurant delicious and its service impeccable (they even sent me a birthday card last year – remarkable). Choose one of its suites on the 5th floor for maximum luxury – having breakfast overlooking the harbour on a palatial terrace is one of Singapore’s great delights.
1 Fullerton Square Singapore 049178
Tel: (65) 6733 8388
Fax: (65) 6735 8388
With Singapore being Asia’s avant-garde country, the boutique phenomenon has just arrived. If you prefer cool over pool, choose The Scarlet or 1929. Both are located around Chinatown and represent the more confident, sexy vibe that Singapore has begun to embrace. The Scarlet is a complete contradiction of the city’s prim, proper, dull, boring reputation. Boudoir-like interiors are dominated by black, gold and (yes) scarlet; the restaurant, called Desire, serves dishes called Skinny Dipping, G-String and Cuckold; and there’s a private gym called Flaunt, a meeting room called Sanctum and an outdoor jacuzzi that helps make up for the lack of swimming.
33 Erskine Road Singapore 069333
Tel: +65 6511 3333
Fax: +65 6511 3303
I'd recommend the Pan Pacific - my flight was delayed for several hours but the hotel pick up service was waiting just after embarking of the plane. Got free rides to the city each morning when booked beforehand and the service was great.
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