Driving from London to the Cote d'Azur with my wife and daughter I decided to break the journey by getting hideously lost in Brittany. I asked some local gents if they knew of a decent hotel for the night, but they insisted we stay with them at their French cooking school in Kerrouet. English was the main language spoken, although people were from all over the place and the atmosphere was great. It was a perfect base to visit the main spots in Brittany, like Dinard, St Malo, the Inter Celtic Festival at Lorient and the ancient stone alinement at Carnac. We never did get down to the south of France but had a splendid time in Brittany and I can now cook a mean Moules a la Creme!
We stayed at Riad Dar Eliane for four nights and our stay could not have been better. It was the first time that we have stayed in a riad so did not know quite what to expect. It is very different to a hotel but we enjoyed every moment of it. All the staff were so friendly and helpful throughout our stay. We had breakfast every morning on the roof terrace and it was absolutely delicious. It was such a nice clean place to come back to at the end of our day. The decor was lovely. The riad is conveniently situated just 10 minutes’ walk from the main square. We would definitely stay there again if we were to go back to Marrakech.
The staff here are superb, nothing is too much trouble. Really lovely people. The riad is beautiful and has a lovely charm about it. Very peaceful. The food is also excellent. Had a hamman, wow fantastic. I have never had such wonderful service. Would definitely recommend it to everyone.
62, Derb Boutouil Kannaria, Marrakech
A long stretch of often unoccupied sand stretched out just ten paces across the road from the Family Kingdom hotel at Lumley beach just outside Freetown. Admitedly it's busier at weekends when its full of locals coming to enjoy themselves or play football (including Sierra Leone's world beating amputee team). The children will enjoy sharing the resort hotel's playground and pool sometimes with children on a school trip from the city. Parents will wonder at the almost surreal statues of, among others, King Kong. Breakfast is outside and always accompanied by small and not so small deer and pretty regularly by monkeys (who can sneak into your rooms too). Bored? Almost anybody will organise a sea trip for you to another wonderful beach or try the evocative slave islands nearby such as banana island with its community organised chalets and fish in banana leaves for tea. And in the evening, Alex's bar across the road invariably has a fire eater emerging from the Man o' War bay as you eat and you can return to the hotel to watch the sun go down from the terrace of the moonview bar. Do avoid the rainy season and don't expect cash points.
Lumley beach and the hotel are accessible by boat from the airport that ties up at Alex's bar or cross on the helicopter for the (more expensive) excitement.
P.O.Box 94, Freetown, Sierra Leone
+232 22 236133
Google map: bit.ly/nGg9S3
A super cool, hip hostel designed especially for skateboarders. I really loved the cleanliness and social atmosphere, and the bed was super comfortable also. They have a little something for everyone: huge common room, outdoor patio, guest kitchen, free internet, organized parties and more. The design of the hostel is oriented around the skateboarding scene of Barcelona and they have a cool display of vintage skateboards and even a real skate ramp. When I arrived, the staff, super nice, international travelers, gave me an explanation of the city map pointing out cool sites to check out in the city. The map was made by the hostel and even had all the best skate spots in Barcelona marked in cool letters. The staff also helped me several times with directions to bars and even how to get to places outside of the city. Great hostel.
Awesome hostel located in central Berlin. Recently renovated and the rooms are decorated very cool and artsy. The hostel is very unique in that each room has a different theme which sets it apart from many other hostels.
The staff are incredibly helpful and friendly and ready to help you navigate your way through Berlin's many museums, parks, nightlife, etc. There's also an internet cafe inside so no need to worry about internet! The atmosphere of the hostel is very relaxed and the bar is a great place to hang out and meet other people staying in the hostel. It is also very centrally located and all of Berlin's major sights are very easily accessible from the hostel.
You can also rent bikes from the hostel for a very reasonable price. I really enjoyed staying here and would recommend it to any fellow traveler coming to Berlin! Also, no curfew! :)
A fantastic riad in the middle of the old medina of Essaouira. This riad has recently opened and it is very luxurious. The riad is decorated throughout with one-off African artwork, it is amazing. We had a double room which was very nice, it even had a flatscreen TV in it. All of the rooms are en-suite and even have their own lounge area.
On the large roof terrace you have views of the Atlantic Ocean, there is a gentle breeze blowing which is really nice on a warm day. In the evening you get a magnificent view of the sunset over the Atlantic Ocean from the roof terrace.
The riad is in a quiet area of the medina, it is a few minutes walk away from the main shopping area, the fish market and a five minute walk away from the main beach of Essaouira.
The staff at the riad were very friendly, they all spoke good English and were happy to help us with everything that we needed, they were always smiling which made us feel good.
35 biss, bd my Abd errahmane Eddakhil
+212 524 785 508
Tucked away amongst the cliffs and forests, in an old Lycian valley dotted with treehouses, Turkmen offers a truly alternative summer holiday for those seeking the 'Lost Boy' experience. Wake up each morning high up among the birds and the leaves and enjoy a traditional Turkish breakfast in the comfort of a hammock beneath your tree. Days are spent exploring the valley; boat trips, canyoning, swimming and hiking are all on offer - but nothing beats a simple game of Backgammon with the competitive yet friendly locals. Evenings are spent watching the bright stars in the valley from the comfort of your Charduck (cushioned gazebo beneath treehouse) while listening to live music at the Golge bar. Share an apple shisha with the new friends you've made around the campfire and stumble back up your ladder into a clean, comfy bed in your very own tree.
This hostel is like an oasis in a desert of busy surf hostels. It's tucked away from the main road and the vibe is relaxed and friendly. Facilities are fantastic with a huge common room with pool table and volleyball courts - great fun after surfing. It is possibly the best spot to watch the sunset I have ever been too. They also do free pick up from Peniche Bus Station
This boutique hotel near San Luis is an oasis, a calm and elegant place where time stands still for you to relax and be pampered. The décor is soft and stylish, the gardens fragrant and peaceful. The main pool has a delightful small bar for a lunchtime snack and later, when lit by candles it is a cool place to watch the night sky and enjoy the scent from the garden. Dining at Biniarroca is a gastronomic delight. The Matre De and his team will ensure that your evening is an experience to remember. The food is a delightful mix of French and Mediterranean prepared to the highest standards of perfection and taste. A destination for couples and the single traveler who enjoy peace, quiet and fine dining.
We found this accommodation totally by chance, and are so happy we did. Not only did the place looks great, but our hosts, Tomo and Zeljka (and their dog Duje) were more than perfect hosts. We were accommodated in the Garden apartment, which is situated (as the name says) in the garden, separated from the other apartments. It was a great choice for us as we were there with our two-year-old: there weren't any stairs, so we could leave him free to run around the yard without being afraid something would happen. the garden was really beautiful, very tastefully arranged with stone table, barbecue, small fountain, lemon and orange trees, and aromatic lavander that gave a special touch to this peaceful place. There is also a jacuzzi "separé", where you can hide yourself from other people and relax.
Tomo and Zeljka were there for us any time we needed, and they offered us their help in everything they thought we might need, including preparing sea food and the barbecue.
Secret Garden is a small B&B of only three rooms. The host John could not have done enough for us. He picked us up from the bus station (even recommended the best company to travel with from Buenos Aires) and gave us a tour of the town. Each night we had cocktails amid the most relaxing environment. John organised a driver to take us to the Brazilian side of the falls and also recommended the fantastic bird park that we really enjoyed. The bus to the Argentinian side of the Falls picks you up at the end of the street. Would highly recommend Secret Garden to anyone interested in seeing the majestic Iguazu Falls. A really delightful place to stay.
You won’t have to pass an exam to get a room at Hôtel des Grandes Ecoles, just make sure to book in advance. This hotel, ensconced in an impasse with a garden, right in the heart of the Latin quarter, opposite where Hemingway lived in the Twenties, has affordable and lovely hotel rooms, some with Toile de Jouy wallpaper which will no doubt colour your dreams. Room from 118€. It is not cheap but worth the investment!
Cool, calm and tranquil retreat away from the hustle and bustle of Marrakech. Very well run by John and his wonderful staff who were all incredibly friendly and helpful. Overall a delightful stay in a charming riad.
39 Derb Maada, Azbezt, Medina
+212 5 2437 5710
The agritourismo Il Piastrino is a family run B&B on a Tuscan farm with apartments and rooms. I recommend it because it is a family run agriturismo, where all food and produce come from the family's farm and the surrounding area. Nothing was too much trouble as they prepared a wonderful Tuscan meal including hams, cheeses with honey, melon and other traditional Italian foods for nine people on very short notice. Furthermore they arranged taxi transport to our next destination in Florence - roughly an hour away. Everything was hassle free. The setting was beautiful among the vineyards and olive groves and the outdoor pool was great to cool off in. It is also a short bicycle ride into the town of Vinci the birthplace of Leonardo Da Vinci.
An amazing restaurant with rooms in a valley near to Cortona. The setting is stunning and the pool is to die for. However the main reason to go here is for the food - either a meal in the restaurant or a cookery lesson with Alberto. We learnt how to cook a four course Italian meal (salad, pasta, main, pudding) and then sat down to eat it with Alberto, his lovely English wife and their daughter. An amazing experience, we can't wait to go back and have a full on meal in the restaurant. Prices are very reasonable too.
Try this self catering house and apartment on a organic olive farm on the hills outside Florence. It's not just the views, the peaceful countryside, the organic produce, the barional rooms, cosy kitchen or the refreshing pool that make this place special. Nor is it even the location which is excellent for touring Tuscany, or trips to the highlights of Florence (just a bus ride away), Pisa, and Siena. It is the warmth and welcome of the family who run the farm and live on site. Nothing is too much trouble! We sailed past all the queues at the Uffitzi museum and places of interest due to their prior telephone bookings, making the holiday with children stress free. Magical memories!
It's a Victorian era hotel, built by Thomas Cook in 1886, and has not been overly modernised. It was used by passengers of the flying boat era, though I don't know if they stopped overnight or just for lunch. Now it is just 'old school': extensive gardens, grand piano in the bar, peace and quiet. Best position on the Corniche. Timeless.
If you don't mind that Tony Blair had a suite there, its worth a couple of nights.
Up on top of Santa Catalina hill the Parador is the best place to start your visit to Jaén.
Have coffee or a beer under the majestic vaulted ceiling in the parador or sit on one of the cute patios and take in the views.
Then take a stroll along the elongated hill and around the interpretation centre, finally head to the end of the walkway to the huge white mounmental cross overlooking the city.
This marks the spot where the Catholic Kings defeated the Moors to retake the city of Jaén.
Castillo de Santa Catalina, 23001 Jaén
+34 953 23 00 00
Google map: bit.ly/keMufc
Last Autumn I spent two weeks in a beautiful part of Tuscany called "Val di Chiana", precisely near a village called Pozzo della Chiana, in the province of Arezzo, close to the border with Umbria.
I stayed at a place called Villa Scannagallo which was a beautiful country house divided into apartments, with an amazing garden, swimming pool, BBQ facilities and breathtaking view of the surrounding olive groves.
The owners are very welcoming and each apartment is beautifully furnished.
Situated 30 kilometres from Arezzo, it is also within easy reach of Siena (60 kilometres), and close to San Gimignano, Lake Trasimeno, Monte San Savino, Cortona, Montepulciano, Montalcino, Pienza and other lovely medieval villages of the Val di Chiana, and only 85 km away from Florence.
It is not far from a couple of major shopping outlets as well: www.themall.it and www.valdichianaoutlet.it. There are numerous local restaurants to be recommended and places where to buy the local products such as olive oil, wines (Rosso di Montepulciano and Vin Santo), pecorino cheese, honey, cantuccini biscuits, salami, pork sausages and T-bone steaks, as well as the delicious Tuscan bread.
I highly recommend it to anybody: families, couples, group of friends ...
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