This ship was built in 1955 in the Viana shipyard and for many years served as a hospital ship to Portuguese fishermen on the cod banks Newfoundland. But in 1984 it was taken out of service and spent several years languishing in Lisbon harbour. In 1997 it was sold for scrap, but fortunately she was rescued in 1998 by the community of Viana and is now moored in the town's harbour, the property of the Gil Eannes Foundation. Repair work is ongoing but it is already open to the public for a very reasonable sum - a fascinating part of Portugal's maritime past. There is also a youth hostel in part of the hull.
Luxury but extremely affordable B&B - four ladies travelling together had two very well appointed and comfortable bedrooms made up as twins - own bathroom and sitting room and extremely welcome hosts Pete and Gaye. Pete keeps some sheep and we had our own shearing session. One of us left camera behind which Gaye kindly left at our motel in Christchurch where we were heading a week later. Excellent breakfast and will do supper too.
45 Mairaki Road, Fernside, Rangiora 7471, New Zealand
+64 3-313 5180
Google map: bit.ly/f5nXde
A small hotel on the waterfront in the Geres National Park. The hotel serves the best Portuguese food. The owners are fluent in English. The view is absolutely breathtaking. Within walking distance is the lagoon with a wide variety of watersports or just sit on your balcony and take in the fresh pine air!
This is a great shabby chic hotel in downtown Manhattan that offers comfortable accommodation at a price you're unlikely to be able to beat in New York.
Woody Allen used the hotel in his film Manhattan Murder Mystery and the hotel claims that Madonna has stayed there at some point, though I have no idea if this latter fact is true or, indeed, if anyone could care less.
There are shared bathrooms on every floor and these are cleaned regularly and always in a decent state. The rooms, depending on size, have a wash basin and a TV.
Very comfortable all round and, although a fair way out of the centre of New York, the hotel is very close to the Union Square/14th Street subway station, which is the intersection of a number of subway lines, effectively making it very easy to reach anywhere in the city.
Dar Darma is a nice riad in the Medina that we discovered surfing on the net. It's a great place to stay with comfortable rooms and the staff are very kind. It is very near to the Museum of Marrakech and also the famous square is not very far from there. The cuisine too is very good.
+39 02 66 99 27 204
I spent two nights at the Siam Classic in Bangkok and couldn’t find fault with this stylish hostel. Handily, it’s located at Hua Lamphong (one end of the metro line), just five minutes from Bangkok Central Station and also on the edge of the old town.
For 4,500 Thai baht (about £9) I had a cosy, clean and sweet-smelling single room with free Wifi and a simple breakfast (egg and toast) in the morning. The shared showers were strong and hot and there was a lovely roof terrace - perfect for chilling out away from the city noise. There are also banks opposite and a launderette just round the corner.
I went on the recommendation of a friend who’d formed such a bond with the owners that they’d let him store some of his luggage while he went away for a month. While I’m obviously not guaranteeing they’ll provide this service for all their guests, hopefully this indicates what nice folk the guys at the Siam Classic are.
This is an amazing private villa to rent in the countryside just 20 mins from the centre of Marrakech.
Myself and my husband plus four friends shared it for a week and had an amazing time. The house is really spacious with lush gardens and a pool, so we all had enough private space, but delicious communal meals cooked for us by the amazing house-keeper. All we had to do was hop on the free shuttle which dropped us to the supermarket to stock up on ingredients.
We were lucky to have great weather so didn't really leave the side of the pool much.
A couple of trips to the Medina satisfied our retail needs and we had some nice lunches and dinner in town (would recommend Cafe De La Poste in the new part of town, and Terrace Des Epices in the Souks)
+44 (0)20 8940 9493
This is a hotel that immediately becomes a home away from home.
It is not on the beach and is not a resort hotel. However, if you are looking for something that is smaller and more personal you can do no better than here.
The rooms are beautiful and very comfortable, coffee and water were provided and breakfast is included in the price. Breakfast was served each morning under shelter and consisted of a fruit plate, coffee/tea, homemade smoothie or juice and a savoury or sweet dish (pancakes, breakfast burritos etc) depending on the day of the week.
It is away from the beach but is easily walkable and the managers and their families were some of the friendliest most hospitable people I've encountered travelling. They would assist and arrange with whatever we needed.
I would have no hesitation in going back to The Bungalows were I to return to Cabo San Lucas.
Vouniotis Pension is a charming family run hotel located in Mykonos town located close to the area little Venice.
This is an upmarket backpackers guesthouse popular with all ages. We paid £13 a night for a double room with aircon, ensuite, TV, fridge, free wifi and a small balcony with views towards the mountains behind. The house has character with murals on the walls and quirky decor. Our room was very spacious and homely. The bathroom was wetroom style and fairly dated and well-used but clean with a good hot shower. It is in a very central location but set back from the busy street so feels like a welcome retreat. There is also a huge roof terrace with sunloungers and a four poster bed where you can chill out. Staff are friendly and helpful and don’t push tours and trips but do offer both. They also own a massage shop across the road which is very cheap and a really relaxing environment with experienced trained masseuses. I paid 150 Baht (£3) for a head, shoulders, neck and back massage but was given this pyjama outfit to wear and had my whole body worked on for a full hour and came out floating on air! The room rate doesn’t include breakfast but there is a café next to a small swimming pool on the ground floor. Thai food was good and better value and taste than the Western menu. We actually went just along the road to another café for breakfast run by a lovely tiny lady called Eing who makes the most amazing banana pancakes!
7 Ratchadamnoen Road, Lane 1, Thapae Gate, Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand
A fantastic find but the taxi driver didn’t know where it was so we drove down Street 240 for some time. Look out for a red and white sign saying BOOKS and also a sign for Naturae which is the healthfood shop and café in the same building where you are served a lovely continental breakfast with freshly squeezed juice. We paid $50 which included a $5 per night discount at their suggestion as our room had suffered a leak from above so there was some discolouration on the ceiling. The design throughout the shop and rooms is funky and modern with bright accent colours. Our room was light and spacious with dark wooden furniture, flatscreen TV, free wifi, kettle and a big walk-in shower in the bathroom. We were delighted with the terrace area which was larger than expected especially the promised plunge pool which was a long deep trough easily big enough for two to stretch out and cool off. It felt like a real oasis after a hot day in the busy city. You can also use the pool in the sister hotel, The Pavilion which is just round the corner. This would be more suitable if you want a full hotel service and perhaps reception staff with better English but the 240 is ideal for a city break. The style of the property epitomises the street it is named after which is full of chic and contemporary boutiques and cafes with a real cosmopolitan feel which we were surprised to find existed in Cambodia.
This hotel cost more than other accommodation we chose while spending three weeks on holiday in Thailand and Cambodia at $110 per night but was money well spent and felt like a real treat. Any hassle or stress was taken away with careful thought and faultless customer service as our every need had been considered and included in the room rate. We were collected from the bus station by a driver with air-conditioned car and taken to the airport at the end of our stay. A tuktuk driver was assigned to us for the duration and we could call on him all day and throughout the evening for lifts into town or to visit the Angkor Wat temples. Dawud was friendly and attentive with good English, telling us to relax and enjoy our holiday and waiting for several hours at times while we went shopping or on a boat trip. On arriving at the hotel to check in we were given cold flannels and refreshing lemongrass tea. The outskirts of Siem Reap away from the main tourist streets are scruffy with lots of litter. The hotel is a short drive out of town but walking in through the gate you find a leafy calm oasis in colonial style with tasteful décor and attention to detail. The swimming pool is small and simple with a waterfall wall. Our room was large with a ground floor balcony, stylish furniture, a modern bathroom with rain shower, flatscreen TV and free wifi albeit with a low signal. The bed had a mosquito net probably more for romantic effect than genuine need and at turndown they left a bedtime story each night which was a sweet touch. It was a haven to return to after a hot day exploring. Breakfast was excellent with fresh fruit, yoghurt and gorgeous home-made chocolate brownies! They used lovely local crockery and the buffet was kept clean and refreshed throughout service with a further option to order hot food cooked to order such as an omelette. Each table was given a plate of four croissants daily which we always took with us for later as they made the perfect picnic!
This is a small resort overlooking the sea with white-washed villas set around gardens and a tiny but attractive pool. It isn’t as polished perhaps as some of the bigger corporate hotels but that is part of its charm. There are various villa types and prices but none are basic boring hotel rooms and they range from about £35-65 per night. They are minimalist in design but with quirky touches and individual character. All the rooms are named after starsigns and we stayed in Taurus which had real wow factor with huge floor to ceiling windows and a private roof deck and we also had a couple of nights in Libra which was a cosy seaview and had a balcony, small lounge area and a massive bathroom which was half inside half outside so you could shower in the sunshine or under the stars! The rooms have a flatscreen TV and DVD player and wifi is available but charged at around £2 an hour with pay-as-you-go cards at reception. The staff are friendly especially a girl called Moi and they can organise trips and tickets but don’t pressure with you any sales patter. They also looked after our luggage when we went away to Koh Mak for a couple of nights and arranged a breakfast box when we had to leave early to catch a flight. The restaurant is slightly more expensive than others in the area but offers a good menu and a lovely location on the water’s edge where you can hang out in hammocks or sit at tables. A good buffet breakfast is also served here and included in the room rates. Warapura is good value for money as it offers a little luxury without charging a fortune. The resort isn’t directly on the beach but you can take a kayak out or walk along the road and reach Lonely Beach in ten minutes. We were pleasantly surprised and impressed with the area which we knew was popular with backpackers staying in basic bungalows. Despite having a reputation for wild parties, the atmosphere was really chilled and laidback with a slightly scruffy hippy feel and plenty of cafes and bars to suit everyone.
4/3 Moo 1 Koh Chang, Tahi Koh Chang, Trat, Thailand 23170
Wuppertal is a midsize industrial city in the Ruhr, within an hours travel of Cologne Dortmund or Dusseldorf, with a large chemical factory as its main employer. Possibly this explains its absence from any tourist itineraries. But it does have the Schwebebahn - a 100-year -old monorail that runs along above the river and roads, while gently swaying 10 metres above the ground, linking all the town districts together. Spend a day or two here, riding the rail and then visiting Wuppertals excellent zoo. All inclusive tickets are available at the stations. The lion enclosure is particularly recommended. We stayed at the ArtFabrik hotel which although not centrally located has decor and a vibe that seriously added to the fun of the weekend.
Budget week end in Amsterdam? Sorted. This place is basic but spotless. Old Dutch art nouveau house with an Anapurna of stairs to climb and no lift. Atmospheric old building literally over the road from the Rijksmuseum. Beautiful breakfast room and splendid breakfast. Catch the 197 bus from Schipol and it stops outside the door. Friendly, attentive staff. If you just need a place to sleep and enjoy the sights, this is the one. I'll be back.
The best bed and breakfast in Scotland, I'd say. Rosebank House is a wonderful Victorian House in the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park area. Mal and Paul made us most welcome.
Lub D is a funky well-located well-appointed hotel in Silom district. The staff are young and hip with fair English and a helpful manner; the hotel is new and very clean; the other visitors are varied and well-travelled. Nice European breakfast, great bathrooms, free 24 hour internet, all very clean and secure. Email them if you want to stay seven nights or more, they'll do you a bespoke rate (I saved 33% with a single email this way). A local market with many fresh cheap eats is three streets away. You'll pay 500 baht taxi from the airport at 3am including tolls and tip; Lub D will email you a taxi map in Thai when you confirm your booking making it so easy. Note that some tour bookings can be achieved more cheaply from travel agent on Silom especially if there are two of you - we saved 250 Bt each on the floating market this way.
Eric the Red is - without a doubt - the best guesthouse in Reykjavik.
Found in a convenient, central location next to the iconic church, the Hallgrimskirkja, and seven minutes’ walk from the bus station, Eric the Red has simple, clean rooms, free WiFi and great breakfasts.
Charming host Rúnar is a carpenter and art lover and he and his partner Edda have filled the house with paintings by local artists and treat all guests like long lost relatives. There are 12 rooms, although Edda also has an apartment to let a few minutes' walk away.
Breakfasts are great and a good opportunity to try the delicious skyr (a bit like yoghurt). Edda and Rúnar help with travel information, tales of Icelandic life, history and culture on long chats in their cosy kitchen and their ginger cat, Raki, is friendly and welcoming, like all Icelanders.
Indulgence Divine is a beautiful boutique house in the heart of pretty, sleepy Birgu - a short water taxi from the capital Valetta. The house is immaculately presented, with care and thought put into every detail - don't miss the roof terrace on sunny mornings and the secret room (!) A quirky treat, excellently managed by Aldo based in the UK and his father based in Malta, who went to great lengths to help us from picking us up at the airport to recommending restaurants via email and generally being lovely to deal with. Five stars!
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