This is a great little gem of a place that might be the only one its kind in the world. It has taken the boutique hotel concept and turned it inside out - with the design and coolness factor turned up high. The 'hotel' moniker is misleading; it has but one room. It's a very stylish and beautiful room, mind you. The rest of the place consists of an art space, a design and a 'product' shop full of interesting items for the home, a beauty/skin care boutique, a clothing shop, a cafe, and a small interior garden. Confused? That's normal. But just drop in and you will feel that it all somehow makes sense. The cafe in particular is a great spot to eat and re-charge during a day of sight-seeing.
Staalstraat 7B, 1011 JJ Amsterdam, Netherlands
+31 20 523 5059
Google map: bit.ly/17Hy2Nl
* Jeff is our Been there local for Amsterdam. You can read his profile here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/articles/amsterdam-local-jeff-funnekotter.jsp and follow his tips here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/travellers/jefffunnekotter
A perfect base for reaching anywhere connected with the Gallipoli campaign is the charming boutique hotel, The Gallipoli Houses. Built, owned and expertly run by Eric Goossens and his wife Ozlem, the hotel is perfectly placed in the village of Kocadere, in the heart of the Gallipoli National Park.
Externally, the rooms are designed to blend in with the rest of the village, however the accommodation is modern, comfortable and has every convenience that you will need. The food and wine are carefully prepared and selected so that you have the opportunity to enjoy an authentic taste of Turkey. For those seeking to further their knowledge of the campaign of 1915, then you will find Eric a veritable encyclopedia on the subject.
I cannot think of a better place to stay to enjoy your visit to the Gallipoli peninsula
An amazing traditional ryokan in the heart of the preserved area of Kyoto (the next street along is where you can spot geisha in the evenings)
It's a prime spot for shopping for lunch at the amazing department store food halls, a walk along the river, transport links and also very close to some of the most beautiful shrines.
They provide a traditional Japanese breakfast and dinner in your room. We were blown away by the daily variations.
Dinner was an experience I want to repeat - outstanding.
The staff were also incredibly helpful in creating a vegetarian option for my mother and were really concerned about giving her the best they could.
The service is incredible, the atmosphere fantastic, and I wouldn't miss the opportunity to experience a tea ceremony in the ryokan's own tea house located in the courtyard.
229-2 Nishinocho, Yamato-Oji Higashi-Iru, Shinmonzen, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 605-0088
Just to show that these tips do work, when I had a long weekend in Marrakesh with my family I contacted Abedellatif who was recommended as a guide in the Villa Dinari post, even though we weren't staying there. He was really charming, and an excellent guide. He showed us lots of places we'd never have found, even with a guide book, because he was born and brought up in the Medina. We enjoyed his tour so much that we went on a tour with him to the Ourika Valley and saw a wonderful local market. I really do recommend him, and if we ever do go back to Marrakesh we'll definitely stay at his lovely home (he took us there for tea on our way back from the Ourika Valley).
Villa Dinari Alpha 41, Lots Bouzaoui, Commune al Ouidane, Marrakech Morocco
+212 524 32 89 22
Over the past six years we have been to some fantastic farms at Easter in different parts of Yorkshire. Farmstay.co.uk is run for farmers and you can choose self catering cottages on working farms. Our children have seen lambs being born, bottle fed the orphans, helped train sheep dogs, had quad bike rides, even taken the elastic bands in for show and tell!
Each farm has been slightly different but the enthusiasm of the farmers and love of what they do has been fantastic and has proved an experience to remember. This year we are going to Teesdale - Toby Hill farm and have high hopes for yet another great adventure. Support local farmers and have a fantastic holiday to boot!
Nestling amid the Quantocks, Blackmore Farm is a perfect base for exploring Somerset. From the four-poster bed in the 15th Century manor house to the romantically cosy Shepherd’s Hut (complete with en-suite), the range of fantastic accommodation suits all tastes (including wheelchair-accessible). Breakfast in the Great Hall, complete with log-fire, amid suits of armour, a stags head and a range of ancient weaponry. The spacious Cider Press offers a self-catering option – great for informal family gatherings. Visit the farm shop and tea-room (awarded “Cycle Somerset Best Coffee Stop 2012”) for delicious local produce, including ice-cream produced with cream fresh from their own dairy herd. The hosts, Ann and Ian Dyer, are warm, welcoming and immensely helpful.
A family run dairy farm set in rolling Somerset countryside with an incredible restaurant. Food is sourced from the farm and neighbouring land celebrating all that is fresh and local. A warm welcome, fair prices and food created with love.
We visited this lovely Bed and Breakfast a few weeks ago, which is a beautifully restored barn on a beef and sheep farm. After a day exploring the Peak district (with many options for walking, cycling etc), this is the perfect place to completely relax.
The owner, Jane Bassett was very welcoming, made a delicious breakfast and told us all about the farm including her part-time role as Midwife during lambing season! Highly recommend for a peaceful stay on a really interesting working farm.
We - my wife and I and our then 15-year-old youngest daughter - were walking Hadrian's Wall a few years ago, with pre-booked accommodation. The rain set in as we left Birdoswald Roman fort; we crossed the River Irthing on a new bridge and walked alongside the ancient Roman bridge; and there, built in the remains of a milecastle, was our next bed for the night: Willowford Farm, run by a couple from Manchester, Liam and Lauren, who breed sheep. Our rooms, with a view over the farmyard, had footbaths - very welcome after a long day's walk - and their home cooked evening meal, for meat-eaters and vegetarians, was superb: they're part of a consortium of farmers who produce locally sourced food. The next morning, as we put our damp boots on for the next bit of the walk, we were entertained by Milly the dog in the farmyard. Willowford had the best food and the nicest people of our whole walk along Hadrian's Wall.
The Secret Garden B&B is run by John Fernandes and it's a wonderful place. It's very private, with only three rooms, and everything is taken care of with personal touch. The rooms are clean and comfortable, and the breakfast provided is generous and good.
The location is also very strategic, comfortably nestled among a housing area, but within walking distance to restaurants and shops.
John is a very hospitable host. He took us around the town, gave us good advice on places to eat and visit, and ensured that we are comfortable and have everything we needed, including helping us to arrange for transportation. He also invited us for evening happy hour so we could meet and chat with him and other travelers.
The Secret Garden B&B is a really good find with reasonable price. Don't miss it!
Docharn Lodge B&B is a jewel in the Cairngorm National Park. It is the only B&B in the Highlands to have accommodation better than some five-star hotels we have stayed in throughout the UK (they even have Molton Brown products, fluffy robes and slippers, a wee nip of whisky and wine in the rooms!) Newly opened - get there quick before they have no room. Such wonderful hosts, it's a haven in some of the most beautiful countryside in the world.
A skiing holiday in the Czech Republic needn’t break the bank. Rokytnice nad Jizerou is an excellent base if you’d like to hit the slopes and it’s easily accessible from Prague on public transport too (there are direct buses three times a day). Just because Easter’s almost here, don’t rule a winter sports jaunt out: there’s some snow on the peaks as late as May. There are two main resorts: the baby slopes of Studenov which can be reached on foot and for the more competent, Horni Domky which is served by a regular free Ski bus. A day’s pass for Studenov is 380CZK for adults (about £12) and 200CZK for children (about £7). The area is popular with Poles and Germans as well as Czechs so don’t expect the place to be overrun with Brits although there are plenty of English speaking instructors. As for food, if you can’t the Czech fried fare on offer in the stands and restaurants by the slopes then try the soups instead. There’s česnekova – a very garlicky broth bound to keep the vampires away – or porkova, a creamy leek concoction. Remember to ask for bread as it isn’t served automatically. A glass of švarak (mulled wine) or medovina (mead) is a great après ski pick me up too. We stayed at Pension Samohel, which is run by a former Czech ski champion: very friendly, good location, great food but take your own towels – the ones provided were tiny and had seen better days.
Rokytnice nad Jizerou 153, 512 44 Rokytnice nad Jizerou, Czech Republic
+420 604 200 934
Google map: bit.ly/YP8LZH
* Lisette is our Been there local for Prague. You can read her profile here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/articles/prague-local-lisette.jsp and follow her tips here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/travellers/LisettePrague
A seven mile circuit with amazing views over the rolling hills of Le Marche out to the Adriatic, northwards to the Gran Sasso and also of the surrounding Sibillini Mountains.
Drive up the zigzag track up to the Refugio Sibilla and then it is a short walk up to access the fine ridge up to the summit.
The area is full of legends. The eponymous sibyl, or prophetess, reputedly lived in a cave near the summit with a group of beautiful enchantresses who could turn into snakes if the need arose and nearby the Lago di Pilato marks the spot that Pontius Pilate's body supposedly found its final resting place. We had the mountain to ourselves in April, when fresh snow added to the beauty.
With remains of one of the seven cities mentioned in the Iliad, the home of writer Patrick Leigh Fermor and the chapel where Bruce Chatwin's ashes are buried, this is Greece ancient and modern - and for modern comforts stay at Anniska or Liakoto in the village.
A great find! We really loved this place. Views to die for, wonderful beaches close by and a beautiful village for morning coffee and croissants. I will be back here for sure! Free transfer to the aiport too. Trogir is a stunning place too! Try it, you will not regret it!
A secret hideaway! Found this place through a recommendation and went with the family. A few holiday apartments on a beautiful estate surrounded by vineyards, with a pool. We found the owners, who live there too, went out of their way to make us welcome and to give great tips on where to go to eat and how to avoid the tourist hoards! Local vineyard "Isole & Olena" visit was amazing! Also very close to Castellina in Chianti (great local market on a Saturday) and with views to San Gimingnano. We went last summer and are going back in August. The kids loved it as there were other kids there when we went and they made great friends. We easily visited Florence (hot!), Volterra (very winding roads) and Siena where Simon told us where to park and when to watch the horses training for the Palio (free and amazing!) Also they gave us directions to a free beach 'The White Sands' where we had a day trip which was brilliant. Ask Verity for some of her fresh eggs and Simon for some great wine! Roll on Summer! PS Hubby wants me to add - sunsets like I have never seen before - sat on terrace with wine and/or beer every night before going for dinner!
We treated ourselves to luxury by staying in a Welsh castle near Aberystwyth. It is in fact a grand house built as a Gothic folly complete with turrets and ramparts but inside it is very deservedly a five-star boutique hotel that is sumptuously decorated and inviting. Our room had a four poster, a bathroom with a circular bath and we had tremendous views out over the beautiful Aberdovey river which was ideal for our romantic stay. The breakfast was excellent and our host was friendly and made us feel at home. Well worth staying for something special.
My family have just returned from istanbul. This is the fourth time I have been to this beautiful city but this was the first time we stayed at Alibaba Suites I would highly recommend these apartments to anyone. They are only five minutes away from the Hagia Sophia and Sultanahmet Mosgue, are very clean, close to local shops where you are not paying tourist prices for food and other essentials. The apartments are fairly priced for what you get, better than staying in a hotel where you are stuck in one room. There was a lovely terrace upstairs where we used to have breakfast daily
Bunyamin and Moustafa, the two partners were very helpful and my children became attached to Bunyamin and wanted to visit them in their travel agency every day. We used to pass by and talk to Ben who was hospitable and would always give us good advice and looked after us as if we were their personal guests.
The apartment was cleaned every day and it was nice to come back to a nice and clean apartment.
Thank you very much Ben and Moustafa hope to see you soon again.
Almohalla 51 is an exquisite guesthouse in the small Andalucían town of Archidona, off the Malaga tourist trail and a world away from the tower blocks of the Costa del Sol (even though that's less than an hour away if you feel the urge!)
The owners, Myles and David are the perfect hosts; attentive, discreet and unfailingly helpful - arranging day trips (such as to Granada or Seville), suggesting the best local restaurants and generally making guests feel welcome and looked after over and above the norm. Bedrooms feature immaculate linen, iPod docks and generous bathrooms. Breakfast comes with a plentiful supply of fresh fruit, local olive oil, cheese and delicious fig jam. After sunning yourself in the town's main square you can return to base camp and continue soaking up the rays by the pool. But if it's chilly, the fire is always going and there's a stack of magazines, books and DVDs in the snug. Tea and coffee is available on tap and if you're lucky, still-warm-from-the-oven lemon cake in the afternoon. Later, the honesty bar is there if you fancy an aperitif.
Almolla 51 is stylish, mixing antiques with contemporary furnishings, intimate and restful but what sets it apart really is the thoughtful and charming owners. It only has five rooms so get in there quick!
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