Renting an apartment allows you to experiment with the local cuisine - risi e bisi, fegato alla veneziana, and sarde in soar (sardines), all taken with polenta. There's two or three good cookbooks in English (mostly written by Americans, of course) available in the best bookshops (mostly behind San Marco).
Some friends and I spent a fortnight in Venice two years ago and shared a furnished apartment on the island of Giudecca. We borrowed the shopping trolley from the flat and bought fresh produce in the local shops and cooked our own delicious meals. We felt very much at home, sailing across to San Marco every morning on the vaporetta. A not-to-be-missed day out is to the islands of Murano and Burano; it is a chance to escape the bustle of Venice and it is another opportunity to explore the traditional Venetian culture of seagoing exploration.
Hotel accommodation for two adults and two teenagers is ridiculously expensive - even during October/November, which is a wonderful time to go. Through Rome Sweet Home (sic) we found a flat with a large bedroom, two small rooms and a balcony over a canal just round the corner from the wonderful Campo San Marco in Dorsoduro for 170 euros per night. It was all exactly as promised on the website.
Hotel Estheréa is a really great hotel on the Singel canal - a very good location, in such a compact city you can walk pretty much anywhere from here.
The rooms aren't huge but are well decorated and have very comfortable beds. The ensuite was spacious. Throughout the day in the lobby you can help yourself to tea, coffee and hot chocolate as well as fruit and, on a less healthy but far more addictive note, toffees. These can be enjoyed whilst relaxing in the grandly decorated library and lounge areas, also with canal views.
Breakfast is an extra, and at 14 euros isn't cheap, but the buffet is good and sets you up for the day. Alternatively there are plenty of sandwich shops, delis etc along the Singel or just a few minutes walk away. It is also well placed for restaurants in the evening.
The hotel is a 10 minute walk from the central station, you may want to take the tram if you have more luggage, but you can easily make it with a bag for the weekend.
Overall, Estheréa is definitely a good choice and played a big part in my enjoyment of the weekend I spent in Amsterdam.
Singel 303-309, 1012 WJ Amsterdam;
A small hotel on the island of Sant'Erasmo. The island is quiet and agricultural (artichokes their own endemic variety), few cars, you get bikes from the hotel. It is cheap and quiet and friendly. Getting to and from the main parts of Venice is easy, its not far from Murano.
Via Forti 13, Sant`Erasmo.
o4i 523 0642
Take vaporetto 13 from Fondamenta Nuove to Sant`Erasmos
Small Italian hotel, some rooms overlook small canal and campo S. Apostoli, close to Grand Canal and Rialto, reasonable price and very friendly and helpful.
Camp San Apostoli, Cannareggio, Venice.
A glorious, seen-better-days, art nouveau masterpiece amid the tourist tat of Wenceslas Square. The gound floor area is stunning and the pavement tables are a good place to people watch over a couple of cold ones, though a bit pricy for Prague. We stayed here in 2004 and got the room for less than £70 via a Czech website, so shop around. Though the rooms are in need of refurbishing this should not detract from the general ambience, or the central location. There is a metro station within yards and you are spoilt for choice with trams, including the night service.
The fast food kiosks all over Wenceslas Square are best avoided, a charming young lady gave me change for Kc100 when I gave her a Kc500 note, when I queried this she paid up without batting an eyelid, obviously not the first fat idiot from Gateshead she'd attempted to fleece.
Vaclavske Nam, just south of the junction with Jindrisska; nearest metro: Mustek
This hotel is redolent of Mitteleuropa and old Krakow, but like many such buildings it fell on hard times under communism. Renovation several years ago has returned its old atmosphere, and many original features survive, including the art nouveau Mirror Hall and stained glass by Wyspianski. The Pollera is reasonably priced and brilliantly located in the centre – tumble out of bed and you’re almost on the Rynek – but not too noisy.
ul. Szpitalna 30, Old Town (Stare Miasto). The hotel is a 10-minute walk from the main train station (Krakow Glowny)
This is a really cheap, fun place to stay in Fort Lauderdale, two minutes from the beach (you just have to cross the road). Although it looks a bit dodgy from the outside, the staff here are really friendly and I had a fantastic time when I went. I met tonnes of really nice people who really made my holiday!
It's on a busy street but that means you have two bus routes at your disposal, the bus is ultra-cheap too at $2 for a day-pass. It's also near the inland waterway where you can get on the boat-taxi - beautiful views of expensive mansions all the way to downtown.
2115 North Ocean Blvd;
tel: 1 954 567 7275
Wombats operate two hostels - one in Munich, and the original in Vienna. The hostels in both cities are models of how hostels should be run, with a friendly atmosphere, spotless rooms, a free laundry and a bar. The free "welcome drink" at said bar is a nice touch too, even if it is just half a pint.
tel: +43 1 897 23 36
Good quality guesthouse in a well-furnished 19th-century house. Very friendly owners; comfortable sitting room; first class breakfasts suitable for carnivores and veggies. Good value at £65 per night for a double ensuite. Although a little way out of the centre, it's only £3.70 by taxi from the Europa Bus Station, and there's a bus every five minutes or so along the nearby Ormeau Road.
Gay hotel/self catering resort.
Friendly staff, great atmosphere around the pool. Convenient for bars, restaurant, beach.
Opposite Cita Centre (avoid rooms next to the road if you are a particularly light sleeper).
Playa del Ingles, Gran Canaria
What a great place to stay. This budget accommodation is in a brilliant location and is within walking distance of loads of tourist attractions. It is safe and friendly and vibrant and has plenty of facilities on site including a bar, restaurant and internet cafe. Lots of buses and tube stations close by too and no curfew.
229 Great Portland Street
London, W1W 5PN;
tel: 020 7631 8310;
Tube: Great Portland Street Underground
This converted prison on the small island of Langholmen was home to Stockholm’s most notorious criminals until 1975. It now serves as an inexpensive hotel/hostel where the former cells have been turned into rooms, complete with original doors and small windows (minus the iron bars). Rooms are pretty basic, as you’d expect, but the building itself is impressive and has retained loads of authentic features. It’s absolutely vast, and has a restaurant, bar, cafe and museum. The traditional Swedish breakfast is worth paying extra for but we were disappointed not to see porridge on the menu.
Langholmsmuren 20, Gamla Kronohaktet, Langholmen; nearest station is Hornstull;
Vegetarian/vegan restaurant and tiny guesthouse in the Alpuharas Mountains outside of Granada. After weeks of salad and chips, this vegetarian couldn't get enough of the varied and inventive multicultural fare on offer. Set in a peaceful village, situated in the heart of trekking country, it’s a perfect break in the journey or a place to unwind at the end of the day. Recommended in Rough Guide to Andalucia, but should be more widely known.
Calle Alberca s/n, 18416 Mecina Fondales, La Taha, Granada;
tel: 958857 501;
A pub with rooms and great food. There are 10 en-suite bedrooms with fantastic views across the Cheshire plain. The food is great, popular with walkers along the Sandstone Trail footpaths, so large portions at reasonable prices.
Higher Burwardsley near Beeston and Peckforton castles. Signposted off the Tattenhall-Burwardsley road. Turn by the Post office in Burwardsley village
A reasonably priced (65 euros per day) apartment a stone's throw from the sea. There’s a peaceful fishing villagey atmosphere, but it’s only a 15 minute walk from the Ramblas. A perfect place to stay for a short break in Barcelona.
This card is excellent value for money. You get a discount on hotel rooms plus access to any public transport, to most of the museums and even to some of the boat trips on offer. You don't have to worry about tickets, which makes your stay much more relaxed. The hotels on offer suit any of your needs – ranging from two to five stars.
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