This is a wonderfully relaxed bed and breakfast set in the stunning Sierra Montanhchez, near Caceres. Just the place to chill out after getting all hot and bothered with the wonders of Caceres,Trujillo or Merida. The finca is within easy reach of all. Great decoration, atmosphere and lovely pond, set into the rocks of a mountain.
A guesthouse in the midi-Pyrenees and the base for Jonathan's tours - walking holidays in the beautiful Ariege region of France. The village manor house has been restored with sympathy and flair. The garden - where Jonathan grows organic fruit and veg - a hidden oasis of terraces and lawns, provides a delightful lunch setting for Myriam's wonderful meals - all food is sourced locally and where possible, is organic. Jonathan is passionate about the area and an enthusiastic guide. When not based at home he's running similar walking tours in Crete.
If this sounds like an advertisement, well I'll come clean - I run creative writing holidays at Le Clos Enchante - also painting holidays, but we first met Jonathan and Myriam in Crete and have the greatest respect for his style of guiding - always taking his clients to meet local people, putting money into the local economy wherever possible (meals taken with shepherds) - both in France and in Crete.
And to save on those polluting airmiles why not travel to Le Clos Enchante by train on the excellent French rail service - as we did last year when our camper van broke down. After a B&B in Toulouse, we took an early morning train - changed in Bordeaux and Paris and got to Roscoff in plenty of time for our overnight crossing to Plymouth.
This is an unexplored area of the Castile-La Mancha region, with trekking areas, charming little towns around the Jucar River, great food and cozy B&Bs. Also has excellent local wine production, and it’s super cheap. Great day trips to Cuenca and the Mediterranean coast.
An inspiring ecolodge high in the Andes, in the small village of Chugchilan, near Latacunga (about a day's journey from Quito). It's in a beautiful rural location - just getting there is an adventure. Delicious veggie food, grown organically by the lodge. Composting toilets are an experience. Great hiking, biking and horseriding nearby - the lodge give you all the info you need. All local staff and loads of benefits go to the local community. And (the unusual bit for such a great ecolodge) - totally affordable at around $30 per person per night including breakfast and dinner. It's an amazing place.
See www.blacksheepinn.com for instructions on how to get there. Local buses or private vehicles can be arranged:
tel: 593 3 - 281-4587
This is a charming, newly-renovated cottage on a small organic vegetable farm in Wales. Its clever design means that it uses a tiny amount of green electricity to maintain a comfortable temperature day and night. The views of Cardigan Bay and the Snowdonia mountains are superb and the delights of the Lleyn Peninsula are on the doorstep.
Lovely taverna on Perissa's beachfront with wonderful, reasonably priced food and lovely service. The best food on the beach - much better than neighbour Charlina's, yet always less busy for some reason.
While at Perissa, avoid the 'club' Full Moon as the music is dire and the dj is very unpleasant if you make polite requests. Cds skip etc.
Also, the Athina Apartments are wonderful, just lovely - in a very quiet part of town.
Perissa Beach is very small, East side of Santorini, you can't miss any of the places mentioned.
This hotel is slightly away from the touristy part of Sultanahmet (good in some ways but taxis would only drop us at Sultanahmet Square).
The front road seems quiet (although building work is going on opposite at the moment, and the mosque and local traders start making noise early). The back of the hotel faces directly onto a railway line with frequent noisy commuter trains. Rooms 1, 4 and 7 face onto the track, so I'd clarify whether you are front facing or not. Talking to other guests, they, like us, were initially put in the large ground floor room at the back, which is noisy, dark and has no opening windows. We, like them, asked to be moved (my confirmation email mentioned a quiet front-facing room). After a bit of grumbling we were put in room 3. However the rooms at the front are very, very small, even though they are beautifully decorated. In our room the bed was jammed into an alcove (room 6 has identical layout). Anyone above 6' can't lie with their legs straight, which is uncomfortable.
Hot water was the best we've had in Turkey, and breakfasts were lovely.
Prices were reasonable (hotels in Istanbul do seem more expensive than you'd expect) at 60€ for a double, 80€ if you wanted the room with a balcony onto the railway line (room 7, I think). Laundry was expensive $6 for 2kg. We were required to pay as soon as we arrived (we wondered if that was because some people wanted to cut short their stay after a noisy/cramped night)
It looked like hotels on Akbiyik Caddesi and Utangac Sokak were in the same kind of price range, but slightly easier to get to, and possibly quieter.
Having said all that, we loved staying in Istanbul and had a fantastic holiday. Turkey really is the least hassle, friendliest place we've been to, especially Istanbul.
Akbiyik Degirmeni Sk no. 7, Sultanhamet;
tel: 212 516 7130/7131;
We stayed at Onetangi beach on Waiheke Island for a week in late March, just before the Jazz festival and schools broke for Easter. The beach was deserted and the water was warm. Onetangi Beachfront Apartments were really nice and right on the beach.
Waiheke Island is half an hour on the ferry into the Hauraki Gulf. Fuller Ferries operate a regular service from Auckland's harbourfront;
Worth the trip alone. The Pacific beaches are stunning and Tofino is a great little town - posh-hippy, laid back, with great restaurants. The Rainforest Cafe offers sublime high quality food. Walk through the temperate rainforests and the cathedrals of tall cedars and pines. You will probably see bears on your way too. In Tofino try the Wolf House bed and breakfast, a really great bed and breakfast with lots of character.
Tofino is on Vancouver Island;
Rainforest Cafe: 250 725 2215;
Wolf House: 250 725-2330
A nice basic hotel in Goreme. Helpful English speaking owner (who is a little pushy with the offers of tours but hey so's everyone).
We booked room 5 which is a cave room with a jacuzzi! (sadly solar heated water, so none too hot when we were there).
Nice conservatory overlooking the town where breakfast is served, stocked with a few magazines, TV and free broadband.
In early May we paid 60 YTL (about £25)/night for the room, and were given an additional 10% discount for 'phone booking.
+90 (0)38 42712136
The highly atmospheric district of Kreuzberg was famed for its squat scene, punks and alternative culture (which was partly due to its status on the very edge of West Berlin). Now that the wall has come down its status as an 'alternative' district has diminished considerably. But despite encroaching gentrification, particularly in the west, it still has its own special character.
For an overview of Kreuzberg take U-bahn line U1 from Schlesisches Tor to Gleisdreick. Trains run along an elevated section. West Kreuzberg is traditionally more upmarket, whereas the east is still more down-at-heel.
The main sights include the Jewish Museum and the Transport and Technical Museum. Typical Berlin tenements survive in Kreuzberg, and there are particularly interesting blocks at Chamissoplatz and Riehmer's Hofgarten, between Yorckstrasse and Hagelbergerstrasse.
Kreuzberg is also a good area for budget accommodation and has decent bars and restaurants.
Kreuzberg begins immediately south of Checkpoint Charlie so it's within walking distance of the centre. U-bahn lines U1, U6 and U7 run through the district, as do S-bahn lines S1 and S2.
We had a really good experience here. Cosy, clean apartment with a balcony, friendly staff, not expensive! We really felt the luxury like in any hotel - the service was excellent and we enjoyed the privacy.
I just spent a month in a gorgeous apartment in leafy Lagoa. It was in a secure, small Art Deco building on a street that is located between three great shopping/eating areas and a taxi rank. The price was £2,000 all in, and included a cleaning lady once a week. It's one street back from the lagoon itself, so I spent many afternoons just gawping at the view as I walked, ran or cycled along the water-side footpath to the bars, restaurants, boutiques and, most imporant, the beach of Ipanema!
Rua sacopa, Lagoa, RJ;
Overlooking English Bay and beside Stanley Park - ask for a room with a bay view. It is a local landmark built in 1912 of brick and terracotta and is covered in Virginia creeper. 25 minute walk to city centre. Rates from $100 high season.
1154 Gilford St;
tel: 604 681 9321;
I wouldn't recommend this hostel, no matter how cheap and central it appears from the website. Unless you like the smell of boiling blood and junkies EVERYWHERE. Apart from that Vancouver's a decent place from which to get to other nice places.
Stayed at wonderful Riad Kniza - amazing service and such attention to detail with the rooms as the owner is an antiques dealer.
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