Breezy runs a cosy, relaxed catered chalet close to Chamonix town. Fantastic food and flowing wine. Her intimate knowledge of the valley is invaluable when it comes to making the most out of your precious ski or snowboarding holiday.
Fantastic farmhouse serving slow food dinners with ingredients mainly sourced from their own farm, swimming pool and great garden views near to the stunning town of Treia in central Le Marche. Best thing is the prices of £25 per night of £40 including the excellent evening meals
Peaceful and remote Majuli Island (the largest riverine island in the world) is home to many endangered birds, and an important wetland in Assam. The 'Mising' tribe, a subsistence farming community, lives here in simple bamboo and palm leaf houses built on stilts.
For a tranquil stay away from India's hustle and bustle, rent a room in one of the Assamese neo-Vaisnavite monasteries which dot the island.
(Not to be confused with Ali G's "Me Julie")
Get the ferry from Jorhat. If travelling with a driver and car ensure the driver books the ferry well in advance, it only takes three cars.
Google map: bit.ly/xnLFXy
Surrounded by the Indian Ocean, there are worst places to find yourself stranded than on the coral-ringed Chumbe Island, located off the coast of Zanzibar. Chumbe combines sustainable ecological living with luxury; an affordable, private haven with a conscience. As a guest on this island paradise (and there are never more than 14 people at any one time), you have your very own beach, steps away from the front door of your beautiful palm thatched eco-bungalow. The beaches surround a marine protected coral park with world-class snorkelling, as well as being home to a historic lighthouse and the protected (and nocturnal) coconut crabs. The beaches are perfect for relaxation, nature spotting and romance, far removed from those of a typical holiday resort. On our first night, we were the only guests on the island. On our final night, the staff (always attentive without being intrusive) arranged a private, secluded candlelit dinner for two on the beach as a surprise. Bliss.
By far the most spiritual, calming, friendly and awe inspiring place I have ever had the fortune to visit. As three intrepid travelling girlies we stayed with Elvira in her guesthouse. One of us was lucky enough to return six years later and we were still remembered (in a good way) even after only staying four days. Rapa Nui gives you everything, sandy beaches (Anakena) three vivid green breath taking volcanic lakes, rocky heather highlands, caves to have a little sleep in, stories of death defying acts of boys becoming men taking part in the birdman ceremony illuminated with petroglyphs, locals turning up to Hanga Roa for a concert (imagine a village hall) not in the loudest car with the biggest exhaust but by horseback, being serenaded by our guesthouse owner Elvira's son in Polynesian, Rapanuian and Spanish. Hitching a ride back into town after a long walk on a horse with no saddle cor blimey that hurt! That is even before I mention the Moai. If you are ever lucky enough to have the opportunity spend a some time on this remote island, do it, it will stay strong in your mind forever.
Fringed with pristine deserted beaches of pure white sand and surrounded by the sparkling Indian Ocean, Quilalea Island is a hidden gem. This 35 hectare island is set within a national park and offers seclusion and privacy.
From the magnificent beaches you can reach some of the best coral reefs in the world that provide a habitat for an abundance of marine life. Feeding and nesting grounds for the population of sea turtles, dugong, dolphins, sharks and whales can be found here.
It is the undiscovered nature of this island’s beaches that make it so special. Snorkel the island’s shores, kayak the mangroves or relax in a hammock beneath the giant baobabs on the island beaches. Quilalea is a tiny untouched paradise. Difficult to reach, this is the ultimate African beach retreat for an offbeat getaway.
There are few places to stay on the island - the newly refurbished lodges at ‘Azura’, a luxury ‘eco’ boutique retreat which has all the facilities you need, while being a perfect beach hideaway, is worth a visit.
The quaint city of Pemba has an international airport, for the Quirimbas Archipelago in Cabo Delgado Province, Northern Mozambique. From here you travel by light aircraft, helicopter or speedboat to the island.
+27 (0)767 050599
A paradise island combining postcard-perfect beaches, rustic luxury and a walk into real Malawian village life.
Sip a Malawi gin and tonic watching the sunset over Lake Malawi, have a candlelit dinner on the beach, snorkel through the fresh water of the lake admiring the most diverse collection of fish in any body of freshwater in the world. Venture into the island to meet the friendly villagers, visit their textile and furniture workshops or take in the largest cathedral in central Africa. All on a tiny island in the middle of one of Africa's great lakes.
Family run cottages with marine biologist owner and qualified dive master. There are communal dinners from freshly caught fish and home grown veg which allow you to chat to other guests and compare marine life you've spotted. They can organise trips to nearby reefs (all four types of reefs are found in these islands) and deserted islands allowing you to explore the region and visit the bajo sea gypsy's. Fantastic snorkelling off the jetty. The family were lovely and friendly, taking us to see the local village and school and on nature walks to see hornbills and monkeys on the island. They also have a few homemade canoes you can borrow to paddle around the island. It cost around £10 per night per person for three meals a day and accommodation in May 2011. As there are only 10 cottages, it's never busy and we could often have the whole beach to ourselves. We planned to say four days and ended up staying two weeks!
Togian Islands are off North Sulawesi. An overnight ferry ride (best to upgrade to get reclining chairs) from Gorontalo. Most resorts meet the ferry and take you back to the island you're staying on for free. Fadilla Cottages (fadhilacottages.free.fr/)and www.sulawesi-info.com/togianislands.html
Google map: bit.ly/A0v4Vr
Isla Holbox is technically a peninsula but you can only reach it by ferry following a three hour bus trip from Cancun. The roads are all made of sand and you get around by golf cart or on foot. On a trip there this past November tourists were conspicuous by their absence and we had the long beach pretty much to ourselves. The Ida y Vuelta hostel provided a good base just a block from the beach - a simple, clean cabana with bathroom cost just $20 a night. You can eat at the food stalls around the town square for next to nothing or splurge $10 on a whole grilled fish for two at Miriam's. Compared to other beach resorts and islands in the Yucatan Isla Holbox is still unspoiled - however the mosquitos can be bad in the wet season and the crowds arrive in the summer for the whale sharks.
Sleek accommodation on this laid-back, modern-art loving island, with views over the tranquil Sea of Japan, as well as of Kusama Yayoi's giant spotted pumpkin on the seashore. Desert island bliss and a change of pace guaranteed.
Marken Gjestehus is an award winning hostel in the heart of Bergen (only 250 meters from the train and bus station). I have stayed there twice myself, and can definitely recommend this place. I stayed in the dorms, but they also have private rooms. In dorms you also get a locker with a key, so you can safely store luggage. Everything is very clean and nice. Great kitchen, fully equipped with everything you need. The staff are very helpful and nice. I will definitely stay here again next time I go to Bergen.
The West Bank – May 2011. We drove along the road until our path was blocked by huge boulders and we could go no further. Clambering over boulders we continued uphill by foot. On arrival, we were greeted warmly and shown into a brightly coloured cave by Daoud, our host, who told us of the history of the farm.
Situated on a hill-top south of Bethlehem, Daher’s vineyard has been in the same family since 1916, when it was purchased by Daher Nassar, grandfather of the family who now run it.
In 1991 the Israeli government declared the area including the Nassar’s land, to be Israeli state land. The family’s challenge has meant ongoing litigation. Despite this, the Tent of Nations was founded in 2000 as an educational and environmental organic farm “seeking to build bridges between different people, and between people and the land”
They have no mains electricity or running water. Solar panels have been installed and their water is collected via rainfall. Visitors and volunteers arrive from all over the world, and support groups are based in the UK and North America. They also run a number of other projects locally including projects for young people.
Our visit was part of a Holy Land Pilgrimage, when we met with local people and learn about organizations – of both Palestinians and Israelis - working for peace in the West Bank. Despite their difficult circumstances, I left with a feeling of optimism and hope for the future. A visit is a truly awe inspiring, unforgettable experience.
Atan Street 17, PO Box 28, Bethlehem, Palestine
Hotel in the centre of town and next to the train station. Dead easy to find as the Jaarsbeursplein is even signposted from the station! But only five minutes away from the Oudge Gracht area with lots of bars and restaurants - again through the station.
Located in one of the many cardamom plantations that cling to the side of the higher slopes, our hotel grandly calls itself “Olive Brook: Republic of Nature”. It sat up a one in three climb just off the only road running along the valley and consisted of six bungalows overlooking a colourful and well-maintained garden. Good start.
As is the norm in India, every car that approaches a bend beeps its horn. Loudly. Several times. There are bends either side of our hotel. Not so good. Contrary to expectations, however, we were not kept awake all night by frantic horn blowing as it turns out everyone retires to bed early in these parts, and since the road takes you nowhere but to other hotels it was virtually deserted after 9:30pm. Phew.
Our bungalow was vast. We had a front sitting area and an inner sanctum home to a huge double bed and an even bigger bathroom. The rooms were spotless, with a comfortable bed and hot running water. Each night we sat on our veranda, sipping beer and unusual (i.e rubbish) local wine, listening to the sounds of the jungle. Like most places, the small hotel doesn't serve alcohol, but equally doesn't mind if you bring your own. The hotel food was less than inspiring, pretty to look at but rather bland in taste if you are used to the fiery curries found in Kerala. They will cook to order, though, so make them aware of what you do and don't like.
Olive Brook, P. B. No:62, Pothamedu, Munnar,
Idukki(Dist.), Kerala 685 612
+91 4865 230588
Hostel opened few months ago near from Plaza Serrano (place with a lot of bars, restaurants and clubs really great at night!) well located! nice house,rooms are clean, cool and relaxing atmosphere, great music. We even made a barbecue on the terrace.
You'll appreciate the contrast between the crazy Buenos Aires and this haven.
Nelson, a small town in the interior of British Columbia, wonderfully designed by the architect Francis Rattenbury - who also designed the parliament buildings in Victoria - will make you reassess what you think civilisation should be like. It was made unique by a huge influx of American draft-dodgers during the Vietnam War, and has been kept unspoiled by constant overshadowing courtesy of the Rockies and their ski towns. Its many intellectual inputs (Russian pacifists settled there, sponsored by none other than Tolstoy himself) and its beautiful setting, folded compactly onto the shores of lake Kootenay by the underrated Selkirk Mountains, combine the majestic Canadian wilderness with the best minds and values our species has created. To top it off, the most beautiful YHA hostel I’ve ever seen ‘The Dancing Bear’ is located right in the centre.
I think everyone in the world should visit the French island of Réunion in the Indian Ocean, and specifically the volcanic craters in the middle of the island. Most tourism seems to have been attracted to Réunion's more beachy neighbour, Maruitius, so the island is largely unspoiled and, thanks to the fact that the entire island was recently named a UNESCO World Heritage site, likely to stay that way. Geologically very young and hosting two volcanoes (one live and one dormant) it's full not only of idyllic beaches but also of fairytale craggy peaks and deep valleys. Piton de la Neige, the dormant volcano, is surrounded by three craters (called cirques) that are all big enough to house several villages and each breath-taking in their own way. The Crique de Cilaos is accessible by bus from the town of St Louis, which climbs over the edge of the crater and down inside. The road includes over 250 hairpin bends, so just making it to the town is life-affirming. Being surrounded by the walls of the crater induces a realisation of the small and transitory nature of human existence that is calming and refreshing. The local residents help this along - what's important here is enjoying nature, whether it's through canyoning through rivers and waterfalls, hiking to high peaks, or just sitting back and taking in the view. We stayed in the family-run 'Claire de Lune' guest house, which has a dormitory for large groups and offers fabulous traditional Creole meals cooked by the owner's mother. I came back refreshed and with a renewed sense of both the awesomeness of the natural world and the important role each of us plays in it.
Catch the bus from the St Louis bus station on the south side of the island, which take about an hour and a half.
Clair de la Lune:
10, rue Winceslas Rivière 97413 Cilaos
+33(0)262 31 88 03
Once you've booked your first casa particular you enter an unofficial chain where the owners of your present casa will offer to book your next one and arrange for you to be picked up at your point of arrival. We were gently bounced from one casa to the other up and down Cuba. Of course they're taking a cut but it does make things easier for you.
Situated in a maze of muddy, busy, narrow alleyways, this relatively large riad offered us a touch of calm elegance and sophistication. We were treated with warm hospitality, offered help whenever we needed it by Adil the manager and all his staff. They spoke good English and nothing was too much trouble for them in this delightfully furnished, conveniently situated riad. The generous sized public spaces, including interior gardens, were tastefully decorated and furnished as were the bedrooms. The one evening meal which we had there on the night of our arrival and the breakfasts on the roof terrace were generous and enjoyable. Having the riad's driver collect us from the airport and lead us through the narrow dark alleyways to the welcoming mint tea on arrival in the riad was a good move.
I would definitely stay there again
21, derb Roukni, Marrakech, Maroc
+212 666 97 87 03
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