The district of Gracia in Barcelona is one of the main student areas and therefore has a laidback, arty feel. There are many little squares, churches, bars and cafes to explore as well as Gaudi's Parc Guell within walking distance. When you're wandering about under the stars there are young, interesting people to meet in every square.
It's a lovely place to stay, much more relaxed than the city centre and easy to get to by metro and cheap(ish) by taxi in the early hours of the morning. Also, if you fancy a day by the sea, skip the undesirable beach in the city (Barcelonetta) and head for Sitges, 15 minutes by train, for a lazy day by the water and a big seafood paella, getting the last train back (about 10 pm) and heading out into the city.
It may not be as swish as the The Mirage or the Venetian, but The Luxor is a good cheaper option. It's housed in a huge glass pyramid, topped by a light that can be seen from outer space. The pyramid is hollow, which means there's an impressive amount of space when you look up. Try and get a room on the top floors of the pyramid facing the Strip. The view as the lights of Vegas turn on is brilliant.
A small family restaurant with the best chicken souvlaki and the driest local Robolo white wine (sold by weight) in this exquisite village. A strong family atmosphere, alfresco, and excellent for people and yacht watching.
On the main strip of this small village.
Check out the Hosteria Grau, if you want clean, affordable accommodation in the centre of town. The rooms are a little basic but you don't go to Barcelona to stay in your room and the staff are very friendly and helpful.
It's in the Gothic Quarter near La Rambla and there are plenty of late night cafes around should you need crepes and beer or an espresso at 1am.
C/ Ramelleres, 27; tel: 93 301 8135; www.hostalgrau.com
An apartment letting site.
For the traveller who doesn't want a package: live like a real New Yorker. Stay one night or as many as you like.
Excellent service from the company and the owners made us so very welcome. Also, more economical than a hotel room and you can make yourself a decent cup of tea after all that shopping.
The YMCAs in Manhattan are more comparable to upmarket backpackers' hostels than they are to the YMCAs we have in the UK. The one near Central Park West has the best facilities, including a reasonably priced cafe serving a wide choice of food. All three YMCAs in Manhattan have gym facilities. Most of all, the price for rooms is hard to beat - you could be ten minute's walk from Times Square for a fraction of the amount you'd pay for any other hotel in the city.
Harlem YMCA: 180 West 135th Street, NY 10030.
West Side YMCA: 5 West 63rd St., N.Y. 10023.
II found renting an apartment is a good-value option for a Barcelona city break. You pay about the same per night as for a standard double room in the cheaper hotels and get the benefits of self-catering facilities and more space. We rented a self-contained apartment just off the marina through Freestanza: clean, designer chic and about 70 euros per night. The beach, Gothic quarter, Ramblas and Borne all walkable. We felt we were living in Barcelona.
Kirk-where? It's pronounced Curr-coo-bree and is tucked away in SW Scotland about a trillion miles from everywhere. The Gladstone is a Georgian town house; simple, elegant and airy. It overlooks the River Dee estuary on one side and the High Street lined with multi coloured houses on the other. The tiny port has art and jazz festivals and The Gladstone does a dollop of haggis with breakfast. The Selkirk Arms, a stagger up the road, was reputedly where Robert Burns drank and wrote.
48 High Street
01 557 331 734
The rooms at the Panda Guesthouse are small cabins with comfy beds, lined with wicker panels. Nothing extravagant but clean and comfy - exactly to suit backpacking needs. It's a family run place, with a small restaurant serving cheap and tasty food - standard Thai/western dishes and the usual yummy breakfasts of fresh fruit, banana pancakes and so on. In the evening after the restaurant has closed and the family have gone home for the night they leave the lights on in the seating area so guests can stay up to read and talk as long as they like. Its also right inside the walls of the old town, where everybody wants to stay in Chiang Mai.
After a few days stay we went on a rafting tour. At the end of the tour I realised I was missing a pouch in which I had been keeping my cash and tickets. At some point I had left the pouch in my room, when we returned to Panda hostel the manager returned the pouch to me, unopened. Typical of this lovely, honest and friendly guesthouse.
130/1 Rachamanka Rd, Chiang Mai
good value place situated in Kumkapi. Some distance from the main tourist areas but offering clean en-suite rooms with balconies, helpful English-speaking staff. Caters for the ‘weekend city-break’ market.
Kadirga Limani Caddesi 85; tel: (0212) 517 4203
Anybody that says Whistler is expensive should check out Allura Direct vacation rentals. We have booked two holidays through their website, each time choosing a condo that suits our needs of wanting something bigger and better than a hotel room.
It is a lot cheaper than booking through a UK travel agent, and we save ourselves at least £1000 each time we go. You pay for the condo and not the number of people staying, so there’s no single supplement for only having two people in a four person condo.
Istanbul’s latest design hotel situated on the city’s Asian side. A recently restored Ottoman distillery with thoughtfully designed rooms that unusually manage to strike a perfect balance between comfort and modernity. Large windows enable guest to take full advantage of the spectacular Bosphorus views. For added convenience, the hotel provides free scheduled boat shuttle service to the city centre.
I had a very poor experience when I stayed here. First of all, the location - it's in a very dark, secluded area of Moscow and I've heard several visitors have gotten into sticky problems returning home in the evening. Second, the building and the hostel are in a dilapidated condition. Third, expect to wait for a long time to get to the toilet and the shower - if you ever reach it.
Sultan's Inn: an inexpensive but lovely hostel with a nice terrace, showers and air-conditioning. I was very impressed with the price - I shared a room with a friend for around £12 per night each.
Chemberlitash Hamam: a spacious Turkish bath - the changing room, if I recall, is a corridor, but the actual hamam is large and one can spread out and lie on the marble slab in peace. In the smaller baths, there is no room on the central marble slab and you have to sit around, sweating and waiting for your turn for massage instead of lying down and relaxing.
Sultan's Inn (beware, there are many inns with Sultan in the name - so make sure you get this one): Mustafa Pasa Sokak No. 50, Kucukayasofya, Sultanahmet, 34700
Çemberlitas Hamami, Vezirhan Cad. 8 (off Divanyolu at the Column of Constantine; tel. 0212/522-7974; $25 bath, massage, and kese [a scrubbing using an abrasive mitt], including tip; $10 bath only; daily 6am-midnight with separate sections
This is a lovely, reasonably priced hotel located in Sultanahmet (the old town). It is a wooden Ottoman-style house with only seven rooms, which are all furnished with wooden Turkish furniture. It has a roof terrace from which you can see both the Blue Mosque and Aya Sofia.
The breakfast is very good - buffet style with plenty of things to choose from: yoghurt, different types of bread and pastries, olives, sliced meat, eggs and cheeses. Istanbul is a fantastic place to visit - and whatever you don't miss the Aya Sofia which is far more impressive (on the inside) than the Blue Mosque.
Akbiyik Degirmeni Sk No 7, Sultanahmet; tel: 212 516 71 30/ 516 71 31;
Most tourist trips to Slovenia take in Bled, an admittedly beautiful lake with a monastery on a lake in the middle. But 10 miles west of Bled is Bohinj, a totally unspoilt lake amidst the southern end of the Julian Alps. Great for snowboarding in winter, and surrounded by woodland that makes for some great walking in summer. Just watch out for bears.
There is a fine hotel on the eastern shore, and an equally good campsite to the west.
This is a great hotel, large but friendly. Fabulous location in Pest beside the National Museum and within walking distance of all the major sights in both Pest and Buda - minutes from the Danube. Good selection of bars, restaurants (Raday Utca street very good) and shopping. Excellent reception service with English spoken by all staff - very important here. The hotel has its own small pool and sauna, good buffet breakfasts with vegetarian options, and both a public and a private members' bar. We asked for a quiet room, which was good. Like many hotels in Cental Pest there is the likelihood of traffic noise if you are on a main road (it is a city). I would thoroughly recommend it.
Kecskemeti U 14, Budapest, 1053, Area VIII
Slightly scruffy but good-value outfit offering bed and breakfast at reasonable rates. Close to shops and restaurants in Aksaray. Rooms are good-sized and ensuite with TV. Mainly frequented by east European and Russian tourists.
Harriye Tuccari Caddesi 10, Aksaray; tel: 212 516 5467
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