This fabulous hotel is on the Devon/Cornwall border overlooking the River Tamar. It manages to combine all of the essential ingredients of a fine country hotel in such a relaxed way that I can't believe anyone could find it anything other than perfect.
There are roaring log fires, beautiful gardens and fabulous rooms. Room 8 has handpainted wallpaper and looks straight out across the lawn and down to the river while room 1 is a gorgeous suite with doors opening directly on to the gardens and a vast bathroom complete with free standing bath which seems large and deep enough to host Olympic swimming events!
Afternoon tea is laid out at 3.30 every afternoon and is not to be missed for those whose idea of heaven is bowls of clotted cream, freshly baked scones (hot cross buns at Easter!) and traditional cakes such as Victoria Sandwich and apple and sultana cake.
Foodies will not be disappointed by the restaurant menu. The chef's risottos are fabulously creamy and rich - my particular favourite is wild mushroom with truffled brie although the fish starters are usually delicious as well. I'm not sure of the secret of the beef fillet but it is divine.
To top all of that, the staff are so friendly and truly cannot seem to do enough to assist.
I shall recommend everybody to contact Rahim Langoo to enjoy Kashmir as I did. It seems to me unnecessary to look for any other place/host when you visit Srinagar. It would be difficult to enjoy my visit as much as I did had I chosen anybody else.
The Fantasia Houseboat is very well heated always, and Nageem lake is much more quiet and restful than Dal lake. Excursions take you to the centre and to the other lake and the city is worth visiting. Very near (60 Kms or so) you have Gulmarg and Panhalgar covered with snow, streams of water on the valleys, ponies drinking from them. One may also enjoy a trip on the lakes in a Shikara (row boat) comfortably installed (with some blankets when I was there).
The homemade food is very acceptable because one does not go there counting on a Michelin star restaurant. And if you are lucky enough to have Rahim himself as guide it is a complete experience: helpful and gentle, discreet, not imposing his knowledge, allowing nice, interesting conversations, with good manners and humour. And he's a very good driver, very careful also, which is a tremendous advantage in India.
Rahim will also collect you from the airport.
Daily flights from Delhi to Srinagar
Kingsand is an undiscovered gem - which is why C4 are making a documentary about it! Unspoilt beaches, very kid friendly, stunning walks overlooking Plymouth Sound, tons of art exhibitions, but very low key and fun. Try Westcroftguesthouse.co.uk. Owners Sarah and Dylan have an art gallery as well, and the accommodation is lovely, overlooks the sea and the organic breakfasts are to be recommended. Perfect bolthole break!
Kingsand is on The Rame Peninsula, near Torpoint, Stations: St Germans or Plymouth mainline
Tigmi was a complete nightmare. We arrived there after a sublime stay at the Kasbah de Toubkal and what a comedown it was. Service was appalling in every respect. The so-called spa offered only a handful of the treatments on the menu. The room was freezing and three heaters had to be hauled in before they could get one to work. They used cold water for the pedicure. But worse was yet to come... the heater in my niece's room burst into flames in the middle of the night and no-one came to help despite us all screaming and yelling. There were no fire extinguishers in the rooms. The owner's response? The heater was made in China. In my room, there was a leakage of water overnight flooding the whole room and staining my leather luggage. The owner's response? I must have left a tap on. They were quite defensive and accusatory. No discount was offered nor any apology. We were supposed to just shrug it off apparently - just as they did. The French manager is so arrogant it beggars belief. The only saving grace? The food was good and the beds were comfortable. A ghastly place stuck in the middle of an extremely poor village. Don't waste your time going there... and don't believe the brochure.
If you're in Devon get into Totnes and enjoy the river Dart, Vire Island, the Town Museum, the Costume Museum in Bogan house. Then, if it's Friday or Saturday, you can enjoy the town market too. After that go on right up through the Narrows to the top of town and you'll find the Bay Horse Inn - lovely food, real beer, a warm atmosphere with a nice garden at the back - and local folk music on Tuesday nights, very good jazz evenings - at no extra charge! You can stay the night there too. A great place to be on your holiday!
The Bay Horse is in Cistern Street, by the Rotherfold, at the end of The Narrows, on your right going uphill.
Totnes station is on the main Paddington to Plymouth line. The whole town is within easy walking distance of the station.
This hostel excels in providing service. The cheerful owners cater for your every need with an attention to detail and warmth not always found in this sector of accommodation. Fedio's father's powerful rakia on arrival and mother's preserved fruit at breakfast leave you with the feeling you have stayed at a family house for an informal get together.
Oh, and did I mention the best view of the Yantra gorge in the city, all next door to one of the best small hotel restaurants in Bulgaria?
27 Gurko St
Dundee is a great place for shopping, even on a rainy day! There is the Overgate and Wellgate shopping centres which are both indoor and offer plenty of shops.
In between them is the main high street which also has a wide selection of shops such as Dixons, HMV and Game.
The newly built city quay area down near the waterfront has a TK Maxx and a few good restaurants that are worth checking out.
If you decide to spend the night you will find plenty of B&Bs and guest houses, most are just off the city centre but are still well within walking distance.
A rather wonderful family-run guest house, two minutes from the Assi ghats.
Clean and comfortable rooms (some with a balcony), hot water on demand and fresh home-cooked food.
Very, very friendly staff who will make you most welcome. Dr V.N Tripathi offers (advanced and beginners) yoga, meditation and Ayurveda lessons to guests.
I read the recommendations on the website and can vouch for them!
We stayed here and found it a great choice. The rooms are basic but clean and the staff were very helpful. Also, if you have the Lonely Planet for Ethopia and Eritrea 2006, the phone number is wrong!
Queen Elizabeth Road
Tel: +251 11 122 8080
A series of open-air concerts in Lucca, Tuscany each July, the main 'venue' being Piazza Napoleone, also known as Piazza Grande.
For such a small, albeit perfectly formed, town, this event has attracted some big names over the years - Oasis, Paul Simon, David Bowie, Neil Young, Van Morrison, Alanis Morrisette, Black Eyed Peas, James Brown - to name a few, and I cannot recommend it highly enough.
Concerts usually begin at around 9pm; it's still warm, and the main square is closed off from early evening. During concerts most of the bars and shops around the square remain open, and the majority of the events are standing only - but not all.
The official website is notoriously late in announcing the lineup, but for 2008 some names are confirmed already - Sheryl Crow, Leonard Cohen, Alicia Keys, Chicago, Erykah Badu and Mick Hucknall. The latter is a fixture by now, be it as himself or Simply Red. Elton John is also a frequent visitor. It's rare for tickets to sell out, so you can usually be sure of showing up and buying on the day, but the official site also explains how to get tickets.
Below are some links - the official site, a blog post about the 2008 festival, and our favourite site for Lucca hotels:
Lucca, Tuscany, Italy - main venue is Piazza Napoleone, inside the famous city walls.
Not a pub, but a bed & breakfast near the Colosseum. The rooms are beautiful, as lovely as we have seen in four-star hotels. The host couple is very kind. They helped us plan our time and suggested some great restaurants.
It is the place to stay in Edinburgh, it looks absolutely stunning on the outside and from the polite doormen to the Michelin-starred restaurant this is the height of luxury. Well worth a look around, even for a coffee if you cant afford to splash out for a room!
Tofino is on the Pacific coast of Vancouver Island. The area is formed of temperate rainforest and white sandy beaches which stretch for miles. Beyond its unbelievable natural beauty, it offers a rare thing in North America: harmony. The indigenous First Nations people, aided by eco-warriors, made a stand against the loggers in the 1980s and since then it has been given UN status as a natural wilderness.
The high-priced resorts dotted along the beaches are best avoided, especially in summer. To see the real Tofino go there in May (shoulder season) and stay in the town. The Tofino Motel offers great views at around $85 (£40) a night per room. If you like seafood Shelter and Schooner restaurants are a must, but for something more funky try Raincoast.
There are three impressive beaches nearby. Tonquin is but a short walk from the town and is good for a post-prandial stroll. Chesterman beach is a short drive away and is full of spirits and driftwood and as the site of First Nations resistance has great historical resonance. Long Beach is, well, just long. The caveats to all this are that because this is the raincoast it rains a lot. However, much natural beauty comes from this rain.
The First Nations people run several businesses in town offering whale watching, bear watching (you park near a beach and watch the bears forage for food) as well as trips to hot springs. The botanical garden are like nothing else, blending sculpture and nature. Getting to Tofino is easy. You can fly from downtown Vancouver from around $250 (£120) return by sea-plane, but the best way to travel is to take the Harbour Lynx from downtown Vancouver and then the Tofino bus across the island. Even though this journey takes around six hours, don't fall asleep. Remember you're going to paradise.
Fantastic range of "cures", massages and treatments at very reasonable prices. Also thermal baths. You can go à la carte or choose one of the many packages. Good quality hotels on site.
Buses from Luxembourg city/airport.
Casa Tío Juan is a self-catering rental house that sleeps up to 12. It's a traditional village house in the centre of Hoyos del Espino in the heart of the Sierra de Gredos. We had a great time there and will definitely be returning! Great mountains, stunning scenery and so much to do. The village has bars and restaurants, shops, a bank - everything that you could want within a few minutes walk. By car you can vistit Ávila, Toledo, Salamanca. The Sierra de Gredos is an undiscovered gem. Go before everyone else does!
For weekend city breaks to Calais the Bonsai hotel is a good choice. Tiny rooms but ideal location and budget prices. Located right opposite the main station, a few minutes' walk from the centre of the town of Calais. Most important - free parking facilities for those who travel by car.
Quai Du Danube, Calais, 62100
Private rooms are the budget way to go in Budapest. Rather like a B&B without the breakfast. Sometimes they are separate apartments and sometimes relatively independent guest units attached to a larger apartment (rather like a granny flat). Private rooms are usually centrally located, operated by Budapest-based expats and locals alike. They are not only a cheap option but also provide instant access to local knowledge via your host who will have the insider lowdown on the best places to see/do/go in the Hungarian capital. Some are quite chic and full of character and make for a memorable stay. Private rooms usually rent from around 30 Euros a night.
Ideally situated in the Bo-Kaap area (walking distance from Waterkant, downtown, waterfront and International Convention Centre), this charming guesthouse is owned and managed by Bruce who warmly welcomes you with true hospitality. Rose Lodge offers clean, tastefully decorated and very comfortable rooms. Delicious healthy breakfast is served on the terrace. Bruce was also very helpful in arranging airport transfers and he will gladly assist you with the planning of day trips or any other activities.
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