A B&B just to the south of Oxford city centre (a 10-15 minute walk). It’s clean, comfortable and decent value - all too rare in this city. It's not particular beautiful but it's close to the river, colleges, shops etc and does the job at a good price (singles from £40, doubles from £54).
118 Abingdon Road, Oxford, OX1 4PZ; tel: 01865 244725
Budget hotel located opposite the Albert Dock and five minutes' walk to the city centre - cheap and cheerful. You can have a single, double or triple room for £29.
25 Wapping, Baltic Triangle. Opposite the entrance to the Albert Dock
It is only a £1 or 50p for concessions to get in, and it is a museum but is set in an uncluttered way in that you can explore the various rooms of the keep yourself. The view from the top is more extensive that the one from the Baltic viewing platform, as you can see up the Derwent valley and out past Byker.
Near Newcastle Central Station, also next to The Bridge Hotel
We recently stayed at Westwood House in Ilfracombe, North Devon. We found it by accident as it hasn't been open very long, but we were glad we did. Although it's classed a B&B, it's more like a small boutique hotel. The £75 room we stayed in was beautifully decorated and the bed was very comfortable. The room came equipped with a widescreen TV and DVD player so we were able to enjoy a film after our night out at Damien Hirst's restaurant. After a great nights sleep we were treated to an organic breakfast which was delicious and set us up for the day of walking ahead. We've stayed in lots of good B&Bs and hotels over the years but credit where it's due, this is probably the best to date.
Stunning views over the north coast of Ireland and the sun setting on the nearby Scottish isles - and that's only what you see when you are sitting beside the open fire in the common room!
Nearby attractions are the Giant's Causeway, an 8 mile walk along the coastal path that passes the hostel, and Carrick a rede rope bridge, four miles into the other direction. A five minutes' walk gets you down into Whitepark Bay, a beautiful stretch of white sand, perfect to quickly tire out children after dinner.
The hostel is small and clean and always booked out at the weekends. The self-catering kitchen allows you to avoid sampling the local cuisine, which might be a good thing if you are a foreigner or suffer from heart problems.
Whitepark Bay Youth Hostel,
157 Whitepark Road,
t: +44 (0) 28 9032 4733
A smart portside restaurant serving amazing value for money "menu del dia". There’s soup, a choice of starter and main, wine and water, dessert, coffee, digestive liqueur and sweets. All for the quite incredible price of 8.5 euros (and it tastes great as well).
This YHA is set in a grand old mansion. When I was there, the elegance of the common dining and lounge areas was enhanced by the presence of rather bookish types ranging in age from their mid-20s to 50s, rather than the unsettlingly young and just-discovered-alcohol kind of guests that hostels can attract.
Set on one of Bath's most presigious streets, on a hill leading up to the university, it has lush green grounds and is far enough from the city to feel secluded. But it's just a short walk down to the town centre. Don't walk along the road; ask the staff about the shortcut that follows the edge of nearby pastures - with views across the city - and crosses lochs before reaching the town centre.
Staff are friendly, food is good value, and the rooms are cosy and - given that your roommates are obliging - comfortably quiet.
Bathwick Hill, take the number 18 bus from the bus station, or it's a 15-minute walk from the centre of town.
www.yha.org.uk/hostel/hostelpages/85.html; 0870 770 5688
You couldn't get much more central in London than this hostel off Piccadilly Circus, meaning you can cut down on transport costs. Some rooms have been refurbished recently with new pod-style dorms, individually painted by selected artists. The style is eclectic but fun. Pod bed prices start at £12.
12 Sherwood Street, London W1F 7BR,
www.piccadillybackpackers.com, 0207 434 9009. Nearest tube is Piccadilly Circus
A Quaker hostel just off Plaza de la Revolucion. Originally the home of muralist Jose Clemente Orozco, it was donated to the mission after his death.
Rooms are dormitory style although there are a couple of private double rooms with their own bathrooms. You can cook your own food in one of the two kitchens or have breakfast for 15 pesos. Lots of interesting people work at or stay at the hostel and it is a great place to base yourself while in Mex City. We stayed in one of the doubles for about £7 a night.
Ignacio Mariscal 132,Col. nearest Metro Plaza de la Revolucion
Located on Insurgentes Sur in the Condesa neighborhood, this hotel is conveniently near the fun in the Zona Rosa.
I shared a double room. It was clean, quiet, and had a large bathroom with a giant shower, TV, breakfast and coffee. This hotel is comparable to any moderately priced business hotel in the US. At the equivalent of $40 US per night it's a bargain. The staff were professional and attentive.
Insurgentes Sur 287, Col Hipodromo, Condesa, CP 06100
Access to Metrobus. Located south of the Glorieta Insurgentes.
I've lived here for four years as a foreigner and never even seen a robbery or any kind of unpleasantness on the metro. For 2 pesos (not 10) i.e. about 12 pence to get anywhere, often faster than by road, it's unbeatable: safe and clean, (even if a bit old and ropey). Also one of the best places to watch and learn about life here.
A bright and lively family run restaurant situated at the beach end of Hampton St, Pelagos offers traditional greek food and a great atmosphere (with lively greek music playing in the background). Great for families and others wanting a proper greek feed, Pelagos is a must visit. Note: take-away is also available!
265 Hampton St (beach end)
Hampton, VIC 3188
Tel: (03) 9598-3332
White maize (called elotes) is one of the best steet foods you can buy in Mexico City.
The ears are boiled, then impaled on a wooden stick, and smeared with salt, lime juice, mayonnaise, a parmesan-like cheese and chili powder. It's unbelievably tasty, and a boon for vegetarians who may be feeling a little overwhelmed by the volume of meat on display. a good elote shouldn't set you back more than six or seven pesos.
The same corn, but in kernel form, is cooked into pozole, an amazing everything-soup that you eat with shredded lettuce leaves and raw chopped onion.
On just about any street corner, often from vendors who push steaming urns of corn and call 'elooootes'.
Mexico has just had three new low cost airlines start up their operations. Azteca Airlines, Volaris, and Interjet all offer low cost flight from Mexico City to other parts of Mexico, including the second city, Guadalajara. So take advantage, and explore more of Mexico when you come.
Wonderful restaurant, serving gorgeous food at ludicrously affordable prices, it's deservedly popular, although be prepared to queue with locals and tourists alike (well worth it and the queue moves very swiftly) you almost feel sorry for the surrounding eateries whilst in that 50 yard long queue. Plaça Reial is a popular haunt with some of Barcelona's more "colourful" characters, which only adds to the restaurant's charm.
Plaça Reial, Barcelona. tel: 93 317 3075.
A very large modern tapas bar popular with locals. Excellent place for a group to go out for a meal/night out. The best thing about it is the prices, second best is the staff - great craic. You can sit at the bar for a casual bite and a beer, pointing out what you want from the huge array of appetising Tapas on display on the bar, or sit down and order off the menu. A group of four of us sat down for a meal at about 9.30.
We left after 2am (last out of the place), with plenty of beers and about three-four tapa each on board. The cost was an astonishing 30 euro each including a tip on top of the included service charge, as the waiter was such a laugh. Highly recommended for a cheap and utterly cheerful night out. You may have to wait a little while for a table, but people are constantly coming and going, so don’t be put off by a queue.
Rambla Catalunya, 18; tel: 93 318 1997
Vegas can be an expensive place once you've gambled, shopped and seen a few shows. Save a bit of money by eating at one of the buffets. For around $12 you get all you can eat. There's a surprisingly good range of food, including plenty of friut and veg if you starting to tire of burgers and Coke.
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