What do you want when you go on holiday? Great scenery, things to do, excellent restaurants... oh hang on, let's throw in some world class adventure sports and free wine, and not just some cheap plonk but some of the high-end stuff, too.
Despite its rather sedate sounding name, Margaret River, three hours drive south of Perth, has all of these.
It's the home of world-class surfing competitions with frighteningly large waves which break against the rugged coastline with awesome power and regularity.
It's the home of Moss Wood, Leeuwin Estates and a hundred other world-class wineries, many of which have cellar door tastings and attached restaurants.
The local produce is so fresh and tasty that most of the restaurants deliver something a little special. Vasse Felix is particularly good for a smart dinner, but most of them are interesting.
Margaret River Cheese Co. (yummy cheddar), Chocolate Factory, Simmo's Ice Cream and Bootleg Brewery are all good stops between wine-tastings.
And that's just inland. The coastline of this area is one of the most beautiful on this side of the continent - or any side of any continent to be frank.
And the coastline offers up plenty of places to stay: north to south you've got Dunsborough, Yallingup, Gracetown and Prevelly/Gnarabup, where you'll often get stunning sea views from your deck, as you sip your day's purchases.
Some of the comments on Perth are pretty critical - but they also miss one of the great advantages: when you've got an area this beautiful, you don't want it to get too over-crowded. Margs gets pretty busy around Christmas, but the rest of the year you can normal find a corner of it - a beach-break, a vineyard, a restaurant - to keep to yourself.
Margaret River is three hours south of Perth. We like staying at Bavu Beach House www.bayubeachhouse.com
It's a great original resort with a intimate, personal feel to it! The chalets are traditional malaysian house on stilts with air conditioning and great features.
The Staff are excellant and as an added bonus it has a great restaurant! if your planning on going to Langkawi then i cannot recomend this place enough. check the link and decide for youself!
It's the only surviving Chinese mansion house outside of china. It is a great little boutique hotel for those fed up with the homogenous hotels of Asia. It is full of character, charm and a sense of grandure. Do check out the website and I am sure you'll agree!
Very well known hotel, very expensive to stay there but a must for anyone on a visit to Singapore is afternoon tea and a Singapore sling in the lobby area of the Raffles Hotel. It's one of those fantastic experiences and a defo must. Dress smartly.
Very local to city, just ask any locals who are very friendly to direct you.
A hostel run by an ex-backpacker (Tony), who displays a deep love for Singapore and a HUGE amount of knowledge of local areas and tourist attractions. The hostel is clean and well run, in between the Katong and Geylang area (5 mins from the president's house!) and always has a good amount of friendly travellers and backpackers to meet from many countries. I always return to the hostel when I travel to Singapore as they always make me feel welcome.
62 Castle St was formally known as the Trials Hotel and it has been re-opened and fully refurbished to make it a stunning boutique hotel. Each of the 20 bedrooms is unique. As it is a luxury hotel it is slightly dearer than some of your regular hotels but prices start at around £145 and increase to £175 for the Grand Suite. This hotel is located in the heart of the Liverpool business quarter so is in easy reach of shops, bars and restaurants.
Good hotel in the heart of Lhasa. Comfortable rooms which are clean and which sometimes have working heating. Great restaurant downstairs - try a yak burger for novelty, momos for pleasure and yak butter tea for punishment. Great place to stay. If you're starting off in Lhasa, it's a gentle introduction to Tibet. If you've crossed Lhasa to get here it will seem like the most luxurious hotel in the world. Reasonably priced.
Central Lhasa the address is:-
100 Beijing Dong Lu, Lhasa, Tibet, PRC
Tel: +86 891 6323496 ext.0 / 6364078
Fax: +86 891 6336845
The Kathmandu Guesthouse is a Thamel institution. Rooms are clean and comfy and though they are not the chepest rooms in Kathmandu it's a lovely place with really friendly, helpful staff and a very chilled atmosphere. You can organise tours and change money - there is an ATM there too.
Tel: 977 1 4700 800
This is the kind of hotel that backpackers stumble upon in their dreams and I myself discovered almost entirely by accident.
For a very affordable price, you get the kind of accommodation many hardened Asia travellers have almost forgotten existed.
The all-but brand-new rooms are beautifully set out with carved ebony furniture and the bathroom alone is worth the charge.
That’s before you taste the food. Hoi An is not only Vietnam’s best-preserved old town but one of its culinary capitals too.
If you tire of the hotel restaurant, check out Tien’s just across the road for an even better choice of cheap but sumptuous Vietnamese fare.
144 Cua Dai
Tel: +66 3 836 4700
Fax: +66 383 64 802
This gorgeous, sexy boutique hotel is located in a row of Chinese shop houses and perfectly positioned to enjoy the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of Singapore's vibrant Chinatown. Book online at the hotel website for the best rates.
Erskine Road, +65 6511 3333
We had a trememndous stay at this B&B in a 'real' neighbourhood. The energetic owners are qualified city guides and they completely transformed our holiday. They regularly organise all kinds of tailor-made itineries at very reasonable prices, from hiking in the forest to beach trips and city/cultural tours. Amazing.
10-15 minute walk from Botafogo beach
Tel: 55 21 2554 8980
In August 2006 I was traveling from Rakwana to Aluthgama when I realised that I wouldn’t make the coast by night fall. My friend Lahiru lives in the Bulatsinhala area and he introduced me to the Field View Inn.
The rooms at the Field View Inn are clean and comfortable, they have attached shower room, fan and mosquito net (which I didn’t need).
Good food and drink is available in the large bar-restaurant up to 11pm. We had an excellent dinner of fried rice, with several cool lagers served by the friendly but incessantly polite staff. Next morning coffee was brought to our room and we took a walk through the friendly little town of Bulatsinhala before breakfast. The final bill came as a pleasant surprise, I couldn’t really ask for more.
This is not a tourist area, I was the only foreigner staying at the hotel, the other customers in the bar were all Sinhalese. However the decor suggests it might occasionally be busy with local wedding parties so it might be as well to telephone ahead and reserve your room. Tel: 034-2283021
From Colombo, it's about an hour drive to Horana where you can pick up direct and frequent buses to Bulatsinhala. Alternatively you can take a bus from Aluthgama to Matugama and pick up the Bulatsinhala bus there.
Dias Rest (AKA the White Monkey Guest House) is maybe not the most accessible of places but it is an ideal base for the independent traveller and for anyone who really wants to get away from it all, this has become my favourite Rest House in Sri Lanka and if I had a book to write I would write it here.
Due to a derailment I arrived at the Guesthouse quite late but I had telephoned ahead and Dias was waiting with the warmest of welcomes and dinner was ready. Because I arrived in the dark I was totally unprepared for the sight that hit me when I emerged from my room on that first morning. I like my superlatives but I was honestly lost for words to describe the views from this place.
There is a cottage with two double beds and a lived-in feel to it, I preferred the simply furnished family rooms (also two double beds) all have bathrooms with shower and toilet. It is incredible value for money - I questioned the bill because I thought Dias had simply not charged me enough.
It's not the Ritz and the mountainside position makes access difficult for anyone with heavy luggage or mobility problems but I cannot speak highly enough about this place.
Tell them Mark sent you!
Clinging to a steep mountainside 3km outside the hill town of Haputale, if you are travelling light the walk from Haputale is worth the effort, otherwise a three wheeler from the town will cost around Rs 200.
Four-star, central, very clean, business rooms (£40) have free internet access. Restaurant does weird western food if you can't face Chinese for the 17th night in a row. I had fish fingers and chips with a blob of jam and my partner had mushrooms on toast with a little pool of lemon curd. Gorgeous.
No.55, Section 2, Ren Min Nan Ave, Chengdu, Sichuan 610016.
A picturesque fishing port on the border of Spain and Portugal, at the far western end of the Costa de la Luz. Great for seafood, golf, bowling, kitesurfing, sailing ... phew!
Nearby Isla Canela is where the Spaniards go for THEIR holidays, but the rest of Europe seems to have missed it!
A lovely private villa set in an idyllic setting near Mandrem beach (north Goa). The villa was the perfect place to relax and unwind, with its own large swimming pool and even a maid. If you want to visit Goa but want to enjoy a touch of luxury while you are there I would reccommend this place.
www.goaretreat.com, 01626 772880
The Bahia Cabana is both a hotel (Days Inn) and bar on the south end of Ft. Lauderdale beach. My recommendation is more about the ambiance of the tiki bar than the accommodation, so don't go staying there based on my comments! "Beach Resort" is a stretch if you ask me.
It is truly one of the last remaining, typical Ft. Lauderdale beach bars. Famous for their "rum-runner" drinks (ok, who isn't?) it also is a relaxing and fun atmosphere to wind down your day. Sitting alongside Fort Lauderdale's largest boat marina, you can watch the day come to an end as people bring their boats back in, unload their fish (or suntan lotion) and discuss very easily with the locals.
If you go to their website, it looks like a dump I have to say, but do stop and have one drink if you're in the area. I guarantee you'll stay for two!
I can highly recommend the Mansion San Antonio bed and breakfast in Lima, Peru. The property is located on a very quiet residential street in the Miraflores area of Lima. While some areas of Lima are reported to be unsafe, Miraflores is situated in one of the more upscale neighborhoods and I felt comfortable walking to bars and restaurants at night (about 10 minutes walk).
Many good restaurants and some of the larger well known hotels are nearby. Even though the San Antonio is on a quiet street,you need to only walk about 1 minute to a reach a busy intersection where it was very easy to find a taxi.
The large room I had was spotless. TV, DVD, room service available. And a full size bar of soap in the bathroom! Maybe that's a small detail but as a frequent traveller who's used to the matchbox size sliver you usually find,it was appreciated.
The best part was the friendly and helpful staff. Always available to assist and answer questions, not only about the property but about anything a tourist would need to know about Lima. I especially remember the manager, Jean Carlo, whose helpful advice and attention to detail was more in line with what you'd expect from a concierge in a 5 star hotel.
I'll definitely be returning!
Av. Tejada 531 Miraflores.
Lima , Peru
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