A skiing holiday in the Czech Republic needn’t break the bank. Rokytnice nad Jizerou is an excellent base if you’d like to hit the slopes and it’s easily accessible from Prague on public transport too (there are direct buses three times a day). Just because Easter’s almost here, don’t rule a winter sports jaunt out: there’s some snow on the peaks as late as May. There are two main resorts: the baby slopes of Studenov which can be reached on foot and for the more competent, Horni Domky which is served by a regular free Ski bus. A day’s pass for Studenov is 380CZK for adults (about £12) and 200CZK for children (about £7). The area is popular with Poles and Germans as well as Czechs so don’t expect the place to be overrun with Brits although there are plenty of English speaking instructors. As for food, if you can’t the Czech fried fare on offer in the stands and restaurants by the slopes then try the soups instead. There’s česnekova – a very garlicky broth bound to keep the vampires away – or porkova, a creamy leek concoction. Remember to ask for bread as it isn’t served automatically. A glass of švarak (mulled wine) or medovina (mead) is a great après ski pick me up too. We stayed at Pension Samohel, which is run by a former Czech ski champion: very friendly, good location, great food but take your own towels – the ones provided were tiny and had seen better days.
Rokytnice nad Jizerou 153, 512 44 Rokytnice nad Jizerou, Czech Republic
+420 604 200 934
Google map: bit.ly/YP8LZH
* Lisette is our Been there local for Prague. You can read her profile here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/articles/prague-local-lisette.jsp and follow her tips here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/travellers/LisettePrague
A seven mile circuit with amazing views over the rolling hills of Le Marche out to the Adriatic, northwards to the Gran Sasso and also of the surrounding Sibillini Mountains.
Drive up the zigzag track up to the Refugio Sibilla and then it is a short walk up to access the fine ridge up to the summit.
The area is full of legends. The eponymous sibyl, or prophetess, reputedly lived in a cave near the summit with a group of beautiful enchantresses who could turn into snakes if the need arose and nearby the Lago di Pilato marks the spot that Pontius Pilate's body supposedly found its final resting place. We had the mountain to ourselves in April, when fresh snow added to the beauty.
With remains of one of the seven cities mentioned in the Iliad, the home of writer Patrick Leigh Fermor and the chapel where Bruce Chatwin's ashes are buried, this is Greece ancient and modern - and for modern comforts stay at Anniska or Liakoto in the village.
A great find! We really loved this place. Views to die for, wonderful beaches close by and a beautiful village for morning coffee and croissants. I will be back here for sure! Free transfer to the aiport too. Trogir is a stunning place too! Try it, you will not regret it!
A secret hideaway! Found this place through a recommendation and went with the family. A few holiday apartments on a beautiful estate surrounded by vineyards, with a pool. We found the owners, who live there too, went out of their way to make us welcome and to give great tips on where to go to eat and how to avoid the tourist hoards! Local vineyard "Isole & Olena" visit was amazing! Also very close to Castellina in Chianti (great local market on a Saturday) and with views to San Gimingnano. We went last summer and are going back in August. The kids loved it as there were other kids there when we went and they made great friends. We easily visited Florence (hot!), Volterra (very winding roads) and Siena where Simon told us where to park and when to watch the horses training for the Palio (free and amazing!) Also they gave us directions to a free beach 'The White Sands' where we had a day trip which was brilliant. Ask Verity for some of her fresh eggs and Simon for some great wine! Roll on Summer! PS Hubby wants me to add - sunsets like I have never seen before - sat on terrace with wine and/or beer every night before going for dinner!
We treated ourselves to luxury by staying in a Welsh castle near Aberystwyth. It is in fact a grand house built as a Gothic folly complete with turrets and ramparts but inside it is very deservedly a five-star boutique hotel that is sumptuously decorated and inviting. Our room had a four poster, a bathroom with a circular bath and we had tremendous views out over the beautiful Aberdovey river which was ideal for our romantic stay. The breakfast was excellent and our host was friendly and made us feel at home. Well worth staying for something special.
My family have just returned from istanbul. This is the fourth time I have been to this beautiful city but this was the first time we stayed at Alibaba Suites I would highly recommend these apartments to anyone. They are only five minutes away from the Hagia Sophia and Sultanahmet Mosgue, are very clean, close to local shops where you are not paying tourist prices for food and other essentials. The apartments are fairly priced for what you get, better than staying in a hotel where you are stuck in one room. There was a lovely terrace upstairs where we used to have breakfast daily
Bunyamin and Moustafa, the two partners were very helpful and my children became attached to Bunyamin and wanted to visit them in their travel agency every day. We used to pass by and talk to Ben who was hospitable and would always give us good advice and looked after us as if we were their personal guests.
The apartment was cleaned every day and it was nice to come back to a nice and clean apartment.
Thank you very much Ben and Moustafa hope to see you soon again.
Almohalla 51 is an exquisite guesthouse in the small Andalucían town of Archidona, off the Malaga tourist trail and a world away from the tower blocks of the Costa del Sol (even though that's less than an hour away if you feel the urge!)
The owners, Myles and David are the perfect hosts; attentive, discreet and unfailingly helpful - arranging day trips (such as to Granada or Seville), suggesting the best local restaurants and generally making guests feel welcome and looked after over and above the norm. Bedrooms feature immaculate linen, iPod docks and generous bathrooms. Breakfast comes with a plentiful supply of fresh fruit, local olive oil, cheese and delicious fig jam. After sunning yourself in the town's main square you can return to base camp and continue soaking up the rays by the pool. But if it's chilly, the fire is always going and there's a stack of magazines, books and DVDs in the snug. Tea and coffee is available on tap and if you're lucky, still-warm-from-the-oven lemon cake in the afternoon. Later, the honesty bar is there if you fancy an aperitif.
Almolla 51 is stylish, mixing antiques with contemporary furnishings, intimate and restful but what sets it apart really is the thoughtful and charming owners. It only has five rooms so get in there quick!
This is an excellent auberge type of accommodation at Ait Oufi in the Dades Gorge, a stunning area of Morocco north west of the desert. We took this route on our way over to the coast south of Agadir. Unfortunately we were short of time so only had one night here with Ismail, his sister and brother. We would certainly return to experience more of the excellent menus on offer and also the chance to take guided tours in the area, led personally by Ismail. The brothers are all very innovative and skilled at providing a range of services to their guests. Ismail speaks excellent English.
You will certainly have a wonderful culinary experience as they have expertise at providing dishes you would not expect to be served in Morocco - e.g. amuse bouchee of goat's cheese and roast pepper served in a pastry tartlet, butternut squash soup, timbale of rice with pigeon stuffed with mushrooms. To finish we had the most scrumptious sugar tart. All of this provided a most welcome change after two weeks of tagine and couscous. Post-dinner stories all sincerely related gave us a real insight into the past life and experiences of this berber family. Any journalist seeking a heart-warming story would find some good copy here.
I stayed at this beautiful five-star boutique hotel in Luang Prabang. The surrounding countryside was beautiful, the facilities were amazing and the service was the best I have ever known. They helped us with many day trips and their knowledge about the surrounding area was top notch. I highly recommend this gem.
Panivol is a beautiful blue-shuttered ferme-auberge set in the Périgord-Limousin regional natural park. We loved it here because of the views, the building, the small restaurant with its old tiled floor, the goats and farm animals and the freshly prepared specialities from the farm. Whilst limited in choice, daily specials include sorrel or wild garlic omelette and civet de canard with local chestnuts. Finish with œufs à la neige sprinkled with wild strawberries. Last time we dined here one of the free range chickens (the kind that looks as if it is wearing big fluffy ankle socks) amusingly wandered into the dining area in amongst the tables and guests. Rooms are also available if you wish to stay.
Riyad Al Moussika is a beautiful, peaceful place to relax and unwind after a busy day sightseeing and shopping in the souks! Just a five minute walk from the main square, it is the perfect place to stay. We stayed in the green room which had it's own roof terrace, perfect for a bit of sunbathing. The room was spotless, with a view over the beautiful courtyard and pool. The breakfasts were great, as was the complimentary mint teas and pastries. We booked one evening in the restaurant of the riad, which was the best meal we had throughout our stay in Marrakech. The manager and staff were always friendly and willing to help. Would definitely recommend.
On a recent travel forum, somebody asked ‘ Is Marseillan in the Languedoc really as lovely as people say it is?' The answer is a resounding yes. Just walk down to the pretty little port and take in the view - sail boats bobbing on the silvery waters of the saltwater lagoon, and holiday cruisers drawn up to the moorings where a choice of restaurants awaits the lucky traveller. The impressive Chateau de Port, now a restaurant, looks out to sea, flanked by the cellars of local winemaker Henri de Richemer.
Your choice for lunch – Rive Gauche or Rive Droite ? Go left and a dozen waterside restaurants await, offering you everything from fresh shellfish to crepes and fresh salads. Go right, and choose from the fine dining at the Chateau to pizzas or oysters and a glass of Picpoul at the tiny fish stall.
But the really great thing about Marseillan is that it isn’t just a chic tourist façade, but a proper working town. The church square buzzes on Tuesday with the street market, the little indoor Halles opens daily for fruit, veg, fish and cheese. The Boulevard Hotel in the town centre offers steaks cooked on an open fire, or go to the Table d’Emilie for Michelin-style dining. The Bar Marine is where the local stop to people watch over a coffee, a Ricard, or to watch the evening footie on big screens. The Delicatessen restaurant is decorated with retro furnishings, and spills out into the shadow of the church on summer days.
Plunge into the narrow lanes of the pedestrianised old town for shady relief from the sun, where visitors and locals live happily side by side. And when you need a dip, clean, sandy uncrowded Mediterranean beaches are just five minutes away.
Throughout the town, tiny shellfish stalls packed with freshly harvested oysters and mussels raise their shutters at lunchtime and evenings. Locals queue for a kilo or two of oysters – this isn’t overpriced food for the few, but the local diet, cheap as chips. The Picpoul de Pinet wine which is only grown in this area is the perfect accompaniment – sit in any local restaurant and watch the two being enjoyed together. Visit the Picpoul domains which dot the area, and marvel at how many labels can thrive in such a small locality.
Marseillan really is a French town like no other, worth a visit at any time of the year. Buses connect with Beziers Cap d’Agde airport for the princely sum of 1.5 euros making it an easy place to visit for a short break without a car.
Sit on the terrace at sunset above the Metate restaurant at the Far View Lodge in Mesa Verde National Park, and you could be forgiven for thinking you have died and gone to heaven. The view is as far as the eye can see, and as the sun goes down the day-trippers leave the park to the wildlife and those few lucky enough to be staying the night at the lodge or nearby campsite. The rooftop bar serves unusual cocktails, including a delicious Prickly Pear Margherita. Liberally apply mosquito repellant and sit outside to watch the elk walking by almost close enough to touch. Sheer bliss.
First of all, the south east coast is definitely the better place to be in Zanzibar - it is not as crowded as the north (ie. Nungwi and Kendwa). Paje is the next busiest place, but Ndame is perfectly located - near enough to walk to the action, but you can also just hang out there and you have no hassle. The lodge has meters and meters of beachfront, the rooms all dotted along the front and the restaurant has some delicious food! Most importantly, the staff are super-friendly and you think like they really enjoy working there - you don't find that in many places.
Ndame is not super luxury, but it is exactly why it is so nice - you just feel relaxed and at home there.
A lovely, laid-back, quiet rooftop bar and restaurant, with views of the Potala Palace. Pretty much only used by hotel guests, so not raucous, and with no-one hassling you for your table like the rooftop places off Barkhor Square. A perfect place for breakfast, or to let the afternoon and evening slip by.
No. 16 Taibeng Gang Wengdui Xingka Sangdong Yuan Lhasa, Tibet, China
+86 (891) 632 6695
The epitomy of a roof top bar. Set of the 17th floor of the hotel, the only access is via a lift with its own doorman. The food is incredible, the cocktails are amazing and served until 2am. The clientele are hip and occasionally famous.
B&B, with licensed bar, overlooking the North Shore of the town. Fantastic hearty Yorkshire breakfasts which should keep you going all day. Jude and Alan are very knowledgeable about places to eat and drink in the town. The place was so good we stayed an extra night. Ask for a sea view when booking.
From the moment we were greeted with 'Welcome to Paradise' at Bequia airport by our wonderful driver, Thaddius, we stepped into another world. Jasmine at Ylang Ylang is just fabulous. To think of it as a suite is to underplay it - it's a massive apartment, with a great American-style kitchen, very comfortable sitting room (although we lived outside most of the time), and three big double ensuite bedrooms - the one we used has gorgeous views across the pool to the bay. The massive outdoor gazebo with barbecue kitchen and furnishings is to die for. Owners Ian and Barbara have provided every possible home comfort, and with maid service and gardener/pool cleaner, you will really feel as though you have landed in the lap of luxury. A short walk down the hill takes you to a track which leads to the bayside walkway past bars, cafes and restaurants, and if you want to go further, call for or flag down a taxi, or climb aboard the dollar bus with the locals - great fun.
Bequia is a gorgeous little island, and this villa is a perfect place to enjoy it.
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