A budget hotel in the old quarter with a stunning roof terrace - look out over the city and Giralda tower with a cold beer or two. In August the rooms are 68 euros, air-conditioned with modern bathrooms, and of course you're perfectly placed for exploring. Friendly young receptionists with solid insider knowledge and happy to share it.
Tel: (34) 954 53 94 13
I have stayed several times with my in-laws in Essaouira so have learned some tricks on how to eat the best food cheaply (and stay well).
The best option is some form of self-catering to take advantage of the amazingly fresh fish, fruit and vegetables on sale in the local market in the medina. Shopping is a really fun, exciting experience and the locals will not rip you off.
The fishmongers will prepare the fish for a small fee.
Anything you cook from such brilliant ingredients, even if it is just salad and grilled fish, will taste brilliant.
The one and only off-license shuts at 8pm every day and is located just outside the medina at the north entrance.
For breakfast (if you don't mind the potential calories) everybody universally agrees the best is Patisserie Driss just at the rear corner of the main square. Get there before 11am for the best choice of French pastries, fresh orange juice and good coffee.
For snacks, the takeaway pizza stands near Driss are all good.
If you want a more elaborate, heavy, traditional Moroccan meal, visit one of the small restaurants in the 'dog leg' off the main square, near the carpet shops. All offer standard set menus with tagine, traditional Harira, etc. All are roughly the same standard and price (although I've recently heard bad things about Petit Pearl).
If you like fish don't miss the cafe at the back of the fish market. You buy your fish then pay them to cook it for you. If doesn't get fresher than that!
Avoid fish stalls around the port, well known to serve old manky fish to tourists and responsible for many a tummy upset.
Essaouira - medina
Four-nights-a-week topical comedy show. Very close to the bone and possibly libellous humour! The Canal Cafe Theatre is in a great location above the Bridge House pub in Little Venice, which is a gorgeous, off the tourist rat-run part of London.
The place was good and the people at the front desk were really helpful. It was in a great location and its definitely somewhere I'd recommend to anyone visiting Prague.
Prague Square Hostel, Melantrichova 10, Prague 1, www.praguesquarehostel.com
Very trendy and very affordable discount store in the Shibuya-ku district of Tokyo. This is a great shop to stock up on trendy Tokyo fashions for presents back home, or just to treat yourself. Prices start from £1!
3-5 Udagawa-cho (Shibuya-ku)
They may still be more expensive than supermarkets but the lush Harrods-style food courts in the big department store Isetan are a great place to pick up Japanese delicacies for much cheaper than restaurant prices.
Take advantage too of the constant free samples…
See some of the coolest new technology at Honda’s flagship store. Ride the motorcycle simulator or see the demonstrations of ASIMO, the humanoid robot (daily at 10.30am, 11.50am and 3pm). Best of all, it’s free!
2-1-1 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku
You can’t leave Tokyo without sampling some sushi but the city can be a pricey place to eat out. Head instead to Kaiten-zushi for affordable plates from a conveyor belt. This fad may have spread to cheap London chains but the quality is definitely better out in Japan. There are several branches across the city, including Shinjuku.
It’s also handy for anyone who doesn’t speak Japanese or like surprises when it comes to their dinner!
This Tokyo hostel is really great – clean, affordable and with heaps of Japanese style including Tatami mat floors.
There’s also self-catering facilities, a comfortable lounge and no curfew for backpackers who like to party hard.
Situated in Asakusa, it’s a pleasantly peaceful base after a long day of sightseeing but close enough to all the major sights, shopping and nightlife to still be really convenient. Overall, a big thumbs up!
2-16-12 Nishiasakusa, Tokyo, Taito-ku, 111-0035, Japan
These hotels used to be Jury's hotels - they are around for another three years before they are turned into apartments. In the meantime they are found under 'D4 hotels'. Great location and a lot cheaper then before. I am staying here a lot.
This hotel is located perfectly close to Hyde Park. This makes it a great place to stay if you want to be very central, which we did. Everything that we wanted to see was close by.
It is in the heart of Paddington close to the train station.
Although the Rose Court was not the Ritz, it was good value for money. It cost us very little and all we really wanted was somewhere close to Hyde Park to crash out. It was perfect for that.
I would also recommend it for business travellers. If you are trying to make money in London and not spend it you won't find better value and location.
1 - 3 Talbot Square, Paddington, London
Charming independent hostel a stone's throw away from the magnificent Pembrokeshire Coastal Path. Chris and Sue offer a warm welcome to families and non-families alike! The Old School is 'green' in many respects (recycling, use of public transport etc) but not in a preachy way.
great section on getting there by car AND public transport
The hot springs are my favourite part about going to visit Arenal. My advice would be - don't skimp and go to the cheapest but also don't go for Baldi which is the most expensive 5* resort, mainly aimed at the American/gringo market. I would advise going to Tabacon which is really reasonable and also really plush with good facilities, wet bars, a disco and slides as well as the incredibly hot spring at 40 degrees! Last time I went was in an evening and I really think this is the best time to go to avoid crowds and hopefully get a look at the lava spewing from Arenal (it also means you don't feel too guilty about having a few cocktails!)
Instead of trekking accompanied by 50 ponies plus handlers, guides and cooks (which somewhat destroys the peace and quiet of the Himalayas), stay in local homestays instead. It means that you only need a small bag to carry clothes etc, as all food plus water refills and bedding is provided. We didn't even have a guide but used a good map and compass, and it was so much better to be able to go where we wanted, when we wanted, rather than being constrained by a guide's plan. The homestays were fantastic and a great way to meet local people and eat local food. We even learnt a bit of Ladakhi and helped people learn some more English. The company which started the homestay is also a charity which works with villagers to preserve the local environment and wildlife, so you're actually doing some good too. The whole thing felt like a really valid exchange, with everyone benefitting.
Himalayan Homestays - several of the tour operators in Leh will help you book this, but you have to ask as they would prefer to sell you an expensive guided trek (of course). You can buy a map of the homestays, with suggested routes (choice of three) for 150Rs.
Uncle Tan's is a very basic camp located in the heart of the rainforest near Sandakan. It can be quite tough - squat toilets, lots and lots of mosquitos and mud, long walks through jungle - but the chance to see the wildlife is unbeatable. I saw a dominant male orangutan from about 5m away, plus a reticulated snake, tarantula, scorpion, lots of proboscis monkeys, bearded pigs, hornbills etc. Fantastic place with brilliant fun staff and a lovely communual atmosphere.
On the main road to Semporna, a few miles outside Sandakan (quite near airport) - any bus will drop you off if you tell them where you're going. Make sure you get cash out first though, as there are no ATMs for miles.
We went on a trip organised by the Livingstone Tanzania trust and we spent time visiting places we would have been scared of visiting without their help, staying with families in their homes and seeing an Africa we'd never seen before. The different tribes were fascinating and the landscapes completely beautiful.
Before our safari we visited the school that they sponsor, met the kids and saw their farm. The safari was a budget one, budget because we stayed in a local guest house rather than in expensive European ones and so the money was kept in the community, which was important to us. The vehicles were excellent and the guides knowledgable and friendly. We saw no other white faces!
Based in Babati, 175km from Arusha.
Upon arrival in Tokyo Narita International airport (or just before you leave!), don't just rush headlong into the city... If you have come long-haul and are tired, there's nothing better than to get your head down at one of the airport hotels for a few hours, and then use Narita as a gentle introduction to Japan/Tokyo. It is a nice small town, which is very walkable, and has many little gems including a temple, local restaurants, shops and backstreet pubs. Prices for food, hotels et al will be much cheaper that Tokyo city, and it allows you to acclimatise in a much less hectic/congested atmosphere. I have always found it a perfect way to take a breather before business in Japan and/or exploring the country on vacation.
On your own in Tokyo? Search out large office blocks, daytime or night time, there's usually a food court either at ground or upper level. Japan can be expensive and this is an easy and inexpensive way to eat out alone. Don't worry about the language, there are the plastic plates to point out.
All over town
Want to save money on your next hotel stay? All you have to do is ask. Whilst hotels often publish the 'best deal' on their websites, hidden promotional codes and special offers may not automatically show. Contact your desired hotel directly and they will more often than not offer you the real best rate. Even if they don't have a special rate or negotiated rate for your company, I have contacted chains before such as the Westin, and they have offered me a 10% discount for working for a 'recognised corporate'. If you don't ask you don't get!
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