Located at the heart of the historic Old Town, Globtroter offers good value for money and a hospitable welcome to the city of Krakow. The hotel is located in a quiet courtyard off the Szczepanski square - minutes away from the Market Square.
Bed and breakfast (Chambres d'hotes). Beautiful house. Formerly priest's residence. Church nearby with working (twice a day) bells. Lovely garden and interior. Stay in suites of rooms that sleep up to six people. Cost for four people for three nights b&b £234. Evening meal (highly recommended) 16 euros. Clean and extremely comfortable. House has good ghost. Home made mure or pommeau (or both by the fire before dinner). Hostess Claudia Lacroix is a brilliant cook. Nothing too much for this hospitable, helpful, fiercely independent, interesting woman. Good conversation, local gossip, plentiful interesting local information. Perfect environment in which to relax with friends. Lots to see (William the conquerer's birthplace in nearby Falaise), too.
Claudia La Croix 02 33 36 03 96
Caen or Argentan station.
Small and friendly basic hotel on a lovely square just of the Ramblas and Gothic Quarter. You can stumble into and out of Barcelona in minutes. Room 209 is the best, 2 balconies, one overlooking the square, the other a narrow street. Comfy bed, quiet and clean bath/shower. All this for £60 a night!
C/Hospital 36, www.hostalramos.com, 93 302 07 23, Liceu
This is Berlin's one and only hostelboat, which means you can actually stay overnight on a boat on the River Spree for reasonable and have superb views over the river. I recommend it because it is something different, but apart from this, it's a very cosy place with very helpful people. Rooms are nice and have all attached bath. It is next to what's left of the wall and in general a cool place.
You can get off one of the main station, which is Ostbahnhof and walk along the wall, which enables you to admire the numerous murals, or you can get off the tube stations Warschauerstrasse or Schlesische Strasse, which are a bit closer;
This is a hotel of the future. Facing a tranquil green park in the Kifissia area of north Athens, the hotel is boutique style with fluid design, soft style that mingles rounded forms with bright, lively colours. It offers internet TVs complete with cordless keyboards that come as standard. For more local interaction, guests can check out the hotel's two-level restaurant and bar, where the modern Greek, European and international flavours of the menu are mirrored in the cosmopolitan blend that make up the Semiramis' clientele. It is a must for those who love design hotels! ₤155 per night.
Harilaou Trikoupi 48, 14562 Kifissia, Athens, Greece Tel +30210 6284400 Fax +30210 6284499 www.semiramisathens.com
Posh hotels for less. I've used this website on several occasions to book hotels in New York and San Francisco (booking service available for hotels across the US). It generally beats the competition on price - unless you're looking for a flight/hotel deal.
In the late 17th century, when the Portuguese Bandeirantes (literally standard bearers or pioneers) discovered gold and precious stones in Minas Gerais, a safe deep water port was required to ship these riches back to Europe. The calm, sheltered waters of the Baía da Ilha Grande, accessed by the precarious Indian trails that traversed the Serra da Bocaina, were ideally suited for this purpose. Thus, in about 1670, the settlement of Paraty was founded and within 20 years was one of the most prosperous ports in the Iberian Colonies.
Unfortunately for the good burghers of Paraty, but happily for the modern traveller, by 1720 a much shorter trail had been blazed from the prospecting towns of Minas to Rio de Janeiro. Despite a brief disturbance during the coffee and sugar booms of the 19th Century, this historical accident, and the fact that Paraty only became accessible by motor vehicle in the 1950s, left the region in its own development-free time bubble.
Today Paraty is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and its former wealth is reflected in some of the most beautiful and assiduously preserved colonial architecture in the whole of Brazil. The Centro Histórico is a masterpiece, with its baroque churches, roughly cobbled streets that flood with the rising tide and graceful merchants’ mansions. Set all this man-made elegance in a heart-stopping setting of rainforest-clad escarpments, the dramatic Costa Verde coastline, dozens of near deserted beaches and the tropical islands of the Baía and you have a combination of sophistication and natural exuberance that is hard to beat anywhere in Brazil.
It has to be said that, as a popular weekend retreat for the well-heeled of São Paulo and Rio, Paraty is not cheap by Brazilian standards but if anywhere around Rio is worth a bit of a splurge, this is it. One lower priced accommodation option is the Cigarras Pouso Familiar near the bus station. It is a popular location for makers of period movies and novellas and has en suite rooms including breakfast at R$100 and small self catering apartments for around R$150. My personal favourite, however, is the gorgeous Mercado de Pouso, Paraty’s former coffee market, on the old quayside beside the Santa Rita church, where a double room with air conditioning, ceiling fan and bathroom with breakfast included will set you back around R$250. The hotel also has its own 80 foot schooner and organises dolphin spotting, diving and beach cruises to the islands. For the truly budget minded, camping is available at the Camping Club do Brasil a short distance out of town beside the Praia do Pontal.
One of the real pleasures of Paraty is its bewildering profusion of excellent restaurants. In a high class field there are two that really stand out. The Restaurante da Matriz is situated in a colonial house on the main square, Praça da Matriz. It is rightly famous throughout Brazil for its deliciously authentic Caiçara dishes, named after the natives of this coastal region. Try the mouthwatering sea bass and shrimp moqueca, a traditional fish stew spiced with ferociously piquant dendê oil, or the prawns fried in batter with ginger and mango sauce.
If that doesn’t take your fancy, on Rua do Comercio you will find Merlin o Mago, an award winning establishment with an idiosyncratic fusion style that incorporates the best of Europe, Asia and Brazil. The restaurant is aptly named as its chef, the German-born former restaurant critic, Hado Steinbrecher, is truly a magician. His onion ice cream (yes, that’s onion ice cream) dumplings on tomato with grilled goat’s cheese are a sensation and you’ll have to go a long way to find anything to beat the lobster in orange sauce.
A good, if expensive, time to visit Paraty is during the low season months of July and August when two events draw visitors from all over the world. Every August since 1972 the town has organised the Festival da Pinga. Time was when the town and surrounding area had over 200 distilleries, or “alambiques”, producing Brazil’s sugar cane spirit, cachaça, the principal ingredient of the ubiquitous caipirinha. Whilst the alambiques are somewhat less numerous today, Paraty is still a major producer and the festival attracts some 20,000 aficionados who take their cachaça as seriously as any single malt whisky drinker.
For those of a less bacchanalian disposition, for four days every July Paraty becomes a sort of tropical Hay-on-Wye as it presents the annual Festa Literária Internacional de Paraty. Run by Bloomsbury Publishing founder, Liz Calder, the festival has played host to the likes of Martin Amis, Ian McEwan and Salman Rushdie and, after only three years, is already established as one of the world’s premier literary events.
Do bear in mind that accommodation prices can double and even triple during these busy periods and hotel bookings should be made weeks, if not months, in advance.
As far as activities are concerned, clearly the sea plays a major role. A number of companies offer skippered sailing and motor yacht charters in modern, well equipped boats and Paraty is also one of Brazil’s scuba diving meccas with a host of companies to choose from. On the other hand, if just lazing on a palm-fringed beach is your thing, the boat ride to Praia do Sono is an absolute must. Quite simply, they don’t make beaches any lovelier. Praia do Sono and the larger, busier beach at Trindade can also be reached by bus.
Paraty’s other major attraction is the Parque Nacional da Serra da Bocaina, which straddles the border of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro and is home to endangered species such as spider and howler monkeys, harpy eagles, tree porcupines and giant anteaters. Four wheel drive and horseback tours of the Park and the Trilha de Ouro (gold trail), with English speaking guides, can be arranged at the Centro de Informações Turisticas on Avenida Roberto Silveira.
Paraty is a magical, almost unreal place with a delight round every corner. From the moment you arrive your senses will be overwhelmed by a heady confection of sights, sounds, smells and tastes that few places in the world can equal. Don’t take my word for it, though. While anchored in the Baía da Ilha Grande during his second South American voyage of 1501, Amerigo Vespucci wrote in a letter home, “Oh God! If there was a paradise on earth, it would not be very far from here!” He was not wrong.
To reach Paraty from Rio, take an air conditioned coach from the Rodoviária Novo Rio bus station. The journey time is about four hours. Here are some useful websites: Paraty, www.paraty.com.br/iindex.asp. Mercado de Pouso, www.mercadodepouso.com.br/. Cigarras Pouso Familiar, www.paraty.com.br/cigarras/ICIGARRA.HTM. Merlin o Mago, www.paraty.com.br/merlin. Restaurante da Matriz, www.paraty.com.br/matriz/index.asp. For yacht charters, Coconut Yacht Adventures (www.geocities.com/bra1868/) is a reliable German run company and for diving, Mr. Big Paraty (tel. 024/3371-1327) has a good reputation.
A lovely hostel right on the harbour at Tsim Tsa Shui - it's next door to the famous Peninsula hotel, and you get the same amazing views for a fraction of the price. Breakfast is great value, the rooms are hotel standard rather than hostel and there's a gym and swimming pool. Rooms are great value at 800-900HK dollars, which is about £55-65 for a double.
Bright, fresh and sleek, this hotel is a cool retreat from the Athens heat. Downtown in the heart of the city, it's a stylish, urban resort with unconventional atmosphere and thoughtful service. With simple lines and vivid colours, the hotel surrounds guests in absolute calm.
26 Sofokleous & Klisthenous Street, 105 52 Athens, Greece email: firstname.lastname@example.org tel +30 210 5248511, fax +30 210 5248517
This bed and breakfast network is superb. You are set up in one of the colonial mansions in Santa Teresa, a picturesque bohemian barrio clinging onto the hillside. You reach its 19th-century grandeur by boneshaking tram that rattles through the narrow streets. We stayed in a huge villa - Casa Ana - with a spectacular breakfast in a walled garden. The place was so atmospheric; a real antidote to the flash of the Zona Sul and the poverty of the favelas. And with the relatively cheap taxis it's easy to get anywhere. Highly recommended.
Serviced apartments often work better than hotels for families or couples travelling together. They are more spacious than a hotel room and usually include a kitchen, dining and sitting areas, plus bedrooms. Some even have laundry facilities and include a 'breakfast basket' in the room price. A two-bedroom apartment is always cheaper than two hotel rooms of the equivalent star rating and has the same level of service; You don't need to make the bed and towels are changed and rooms cleaned every day!
Medina is the best brand and their hot deals - especially outside of the school holidays - can be very economical. I particularly like the Medina at Coogee and the Grand near Darling Harbour. Both have swimming pools. The Macleay at Potts Point is also good - it is worth paying extra for a Harbour view. From the Macleay there is a pleasant and interesting walk through Wooloomooloo to the Domain and the Art Gallery of NSW.
A cosy, friendly place on the edge of Boeung Kak Lake, pushed right to the end of a dirt road crammed full of backpacker's bars, restaurants and guesthouses. The perfect place to wind down after a hectic day's motorcycle taxiing, taking in the sunset from the veranda whilst chatting about travel, beer and home with other backpackers who seem to have been housed up here for their whole lives.
On the edge of Boeung Kak lake, to the north of the train station. Follow the path left as you come to the Mosque and keep going until you can't go any further.
A hostel on the south-western edge of town. A laid-back idyll, run by a young couple who are always happy to see new guests. They will find a bed for you somewhere, whether it be a double room with TV and Fridge (a luxury in the summer), or merely a hammock tied between two trees in their garde. Everybody receives the highest order of hospitality. Check it out!
They advertise at the train stations and in phone boxes. Pick up a leaftlet and get on the bus.
Carlton Arms Hotel is $94 for a double with themed, wacky and arty decor in rooms and corridors. Basic and friendly, it's like staying in a community arts centre. Central with sights and restaurants in walking distance.
160 East 25th Street, corner of 3rd Avenue. 212 679 0680. email@example.com
Great hotel and cheap (170 reais a night) for a twin/double room. One block from Ipanema beach (not Copacabana)- friendly/accommodating staff - clean rooms and nice little rooftop pool that overlooks the city. Good place.
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