The best hostel I have EVER stayed in anywhere (and I've been around...)
Amazing in every way possible; really cozy, clean and comfortable hostel in a beautiful listed building on the doorstep to everything and the staff are so friendly and welcoming and really want to help you explore and enjoy a city that they love.
If you're a single traveller or small group who really wants to have a great time in Budapest (day and night) then this is the place for you.
Here we are, stuck in Hendaye because of a storm and this sweet little hotel has come to our rescue. Wonderful people, comfortable rooms and Hendaye is a really sweet little place. Rooms are 50, 60, and 75 euros for one, two, and three people respectively. We are super lucky to have found this place and would definitely recommend it for a longer visit.
Hotel de la Gare
1, Rue Déportes
05 59 20 81 90
The Art Academy B&B in Dorsoduro, Venice is a truly wonderful little gem. Tucked away by the side of the Accademia bridge you couldn't wish for a nicer to stay whilst exploring the marvels of Venice. The hosts Barbara and Mara were friendly and welcoming - despite our delayed 1 am appearance due to fog and an un-expected route via Trieste!
The rooms are immaculately clean and bright and spacious with simple furnishings. Some rooms have views of the Grand Canal..... the thrill of opening the shutters in the morning and seeing it all before you cannot be beaten.Rooms are available with en-suite or shared bathrooms, we opted for the latter and it was all perfectly fine.No queues or drama, perfectly nice bathroom with all the usual facilities. A lovely Italian breakfast is served in a room with views of the Grand Canal - so not much talking over breakfast but plenty of gawping!
Trust me, I have been to Venice before and places to stay that are as good as this, as centrally located and with such friendly & helpful hosts can be counted on the fingers of one hand. If flashy and fancy is your thing, then this isn't for you, but if you want to see and experience the friendlier side of Venice then do go and stay! Tell them Emma sent you!
In desperate need of a break from the credit crunch doom and winter gloom and conscious of our pledge to pull in our purse strings, with a little organizing and shrewd spending we had a fabulous time in Le Marche, Italy.
We saved loads by booking a weekday flight with Ryan Air to Ancona and heading into the beautiful province of Macerata, just outside the beautiful Sibillini National Park.
To keep costs down we stayed at some excellent self catering apartments that cost under £20pp a night, and shopped locally for food. Prices for some items in the supermarkets are no cheaper than the UK, but if you shop ‘Italian’; wine, parmesan, mascarpone and bread, you get good value and good quality. The weekly markets in most towns are full of fresh, seasonal produce for creating a fantastic meal. If you want cheaper wine, buy it direct from the local cantinas. We found one in Tolentino called Il Pollenza where we bought some lovely Rosso Piceno for €1.40 per litre.
We like to go walking, and this place was ideal for short walks around town or longer, more challenging hiking in the mountains. The owners of the villa where we were staying had walking itineraries and maps we could use. We stayed in the lower snow free foothills as higher up the local ski resort was in full swing, and although we didn’t ski, at our holiday villa they had a few skis and a sledge available for guests.
One thing we did cotton on to was the fabulous bar snacks that are free if you turn up to the bar just before midday and have a small glass of Verdicchio or an aperitivo with the locals. If you drink what the locals are drinking you can save on your bar bill (beers in Italy are not cheap).
We did splash out a couple of nights on dinner. There were plenty of local places to choose from. We had the best pizza ever for €5 and another night we went to a great osteria "Scherzi parte" that served up regional Marche dishes. As we had had our free ‘starter’ at the bar before hand we skipped antipasti and had a two plates of pasta between us, which was just right, and then tucked in to the tasty grilled meats and salad. We drank the house wine at €5 per litre and finished off with a light, creamy, home made pannacotta. The bill was just over €60 for four.
Edinburgh can be an expensive place to stay, but there are some budget options available. Rooms-in-Edinburgh have over a dozen hostels that have beds from £12 a night. There are also several budget hotels which have great city centre locations and are only £50 a room.
Away from the tourist-orientated boutiques of the Barri Gotic, the high street stores around Placa de Catalunya and the high-end designers of l'Eixample is Barcelona's coolest district: the Raval. The district's charming mix of historic architectural styles in varying degrees of dilapidation and lower rents than most of central Barcelona have attracted young and up-and-coming artists and designers; they and their fashionable friends have transformed the Raval into the sunny, Catalan equivalent of Shoreditch. Like Shoreditch, the northern parts of Raval, close to the sleek modern art gallery, have been intensely regenerated and now draw the tourist crowds to what was once the 'wrong' side of the Ramblas. The southern reaches of the neighbourhood are still definitely on the seedy and even dangerous side, but somewhere in the middle is a genuinely cool and intriguing maze of streets peppered with achingly-hip bars, little galleries and a clutch of fantastic, independently-owned shops. The zenith of this is Carrer de Riera Baixa, a colourful street that might just be the best place to shop in Barcelona right now. It is neither pricey nor generic, and the mix of vintage and cutting-edge and unique new clothing boutiques makes it an irresistible stop for the cool young things of the city. Join them before the rest of the world finds out and the independent stores are forced elsewhere.
Carrer de Riera Baixa, El Raval, Barcelona. Less than ten minutes walk from Liceu metro on the Ramblas.
If you're looking for gifts or souvenirs which are uniquely spanish but not tacky or generic you must visit El Arco Artesano on the Plaza Mayor. A whole range of prices and everything beautiful, handmade and local. I got myself a gift of some earrings and a beautiful scarf; a perfect reminder of this place with out having to have "Spain" or "toro" written all over it. Lots of accessories, homewares, decorative items etc. Fantastic.
El Arco Artesano
Plaza Mayor 9 (in the corner tucked in beside Ben and Jerry's icecream)
Madrid isn't necessarily the cheapest city in the world in which to eat out, and if you're on a budget, and fancy hitting the town too but don't know how you can afford to do both, this is the answer: do as the Spanish do and drink and snack all evening in the multitudes of Tapas Bars throughout the city. Placa Santa Ana is one of the liveliest and most celebrated places in which to do this, though prices can be higher than in more up and coming districts such as Chueca or Lavapies - though both these areas have a wide range of trendy places serving quality food and drinks. Avoid the Placa Mayor and its immediate environs as you pay vastly inflated prices which don't equate to value for money. If you're not sure which bar to choose, just check out the menus and prices, ask one of the (usually friendly and helpful) locals or as a rule of thumb head for somewhere that looks busy. Not only are you eating and drinking for far less than a restaurant or cocktail bar, you are getting a real taste of what Madrid life is all about. Enjoy!
Across central Madrid
If you want to immerse yourself within the busy environment that Japan offers, then your best bet would be to stay at The Tokyo Hostel, in Ryusen Taito-Ku. The hostel is often home to a number of backpackers from all over the globe and makes for a fun and social accommodation option. Offering a superb selection of room options, from dorms to private rooms and at a great price too, this is an ideal place to stay when visiting the Japanese capital.
The no curfew rule means that you have access to the hostel 24 hours a day, meaning no restrictions to your evening’s plans. All in all this is an ideal hostel in Tokyo, as it offers great amenities and central location.
It's reasonably priced, in a great location, you get automatic membership to the NSW club which is attached. Rooms are great space with microwave, fridge, sink, decent bathroom. It's a great all round hotel for those on a budget but still don't want to be too far from anything (it's just round the corner from Martin Place and five mins walk from Darling harbour).
Google map: tinyurl.com/powuua
This is "real" Alexandria and a real treat too. Unlike the Khan in Cairo, tourists don't get hassled to buy stuff here. As it is not touristy you'd better bring a phrase book if you are looking for something specific, otherwise just enjoy wandering around the streets.
The Eastern end starts with clothes and material (some lovely scarves here), then there are a few streets with spices (far, far cheaper than Cairo!) and then the fresh fish, fruit and vegetables take over.
Best buys are loofas, dried Hibiscus, dates and Halva.
It's relatively easy to find your way home as well; as turning off the main street will take you to the Corniche and a taxi will never be too far away.
Walk inland from the Unknown Soldier memorial on the Corniche (Midan Orabi) until you hit the main crossroads (Midan el-Tahrir). Go right here and you'll gradually walk deeper and deeper into the market. It runs parallel to the Corniche between here and El-Anfushi area, just a few blocks in from the bay.
One of the largest urban parks in Europe, the verdant expanses of Roundhay Park offers a huge range of different surroundings, all of which are a world away from the bustle of the city centre, only five miles away. Fields, forests, lakes and golf courses cover much of the parkland, but there are also many beautifully landscaped gardens, especially on the other side of Princes Avenue from the park proper. Canal Gardens with its crocus fields, scented borders and water features, is a great place to stop and pause. Next to it is Tropical World, a menagerie of rare animal and plant species in simulated habitats ranging from desert to Amazonian rainforest - always popular with children. The Roundhay Fox pub, situated in the middle of the park, is a lovely traditional pub with fantastic outdoor terrace, and there is a good range of dining options and shops both in the centre of Roundhay, and at the southern end of the park in Oakwood. There are also frequent events in the park in summer, particularly the ever-popular Indian delights of the Leeds Mela.
Roundhay Park, Princes Avenue, Roundhay, Leeds, LS8. Bus no2 or 13 from the city centre (New Briggate/Vicar Lane).
Val d'Isere is, in my humble opinion one of the best ski resorts in the world because it has everything. It is part of the Espace Killy, one of the biggest ski areas in the world, so they have runs for everybody. Everytime I've been, six and counting, its been really sunny, if not a little cold.
The village itself also has a great night life, restaurants and shops. It really is a great all round resort. However I did find my last trip in December 2008 a little painful as pound is very weak against the Euro, so get all your kit before you go. The link below should get you started..
A lovely park by the river, essentially the grounds of the Yorkshire Museum. If the sun is shining you can't beat grabbing a sandwich or salad (nearby Deli De Clare recommended) and joining the office workers, students, young families, couples and parties of (mainly French) school kids on the manicured lawns. Choose to sit in the shadows of medieval ruins, by a timbered tudor lodge or in the shadow of mature trees.
An awful lot cheaper and more enjoyable than being ripped off in a tourist trap.
Entrances on Museum St and Marygate.
Deli de Clare on Lendal by the Museum St entrance.
It seems that with the credit crunch UK hotels are doing great deals. I just stayed at the Millennium a four star right in the centre of Glasgow. It was only £69 per night including breakfast and dinner ! The offer is still valid - how long can they do deals like this ?
The Moorings is a B&B in a fantastic position in the pretty medieval seaside town of Looe. My first dread was that it would be chintzy and uncomfortable in a B&B, but I’m delighted to say I was dead wrong. The showers were powerful, the rooms were airy and relaxing, the view was beautiful and I spent hours watching the children crabbing while reading a book out on the balcony. Add to that that it is five minutes pleasant walk to the sea past a working fish harbour! It was a really relaxing, friendly and family orientated holiday.
There is a website www.themooringslooe.com, and Looe has a train station.
We stayed in this pousada (guest house/B&B) for three nights in January 2009. It's a charming family run hotel very well located in Sao Paulo (Jardim, near av Paulista). There's a taxi stand right outside and there's shopping and restaurants in walking distance. The staff are friendly and speak English. The restaurant and lounge area are very well kept and they serve a very good breakfast (with homemade mango jam). Our room was clean and had AC. We had a room in the back (#11) which was very quiet. Our friends who were also staying in the pousada didn't have AC and they ended up in a room in the front of the pousada which was not that quiet. I would recommend asking to be in the back.
The pousada is one of the cheapest options in that area so you shouldn’t expect much. For me, what’s important was to have a clean room in a good location (therefore security). But for instance, there’s no shampoo, the shower doesn’t always have hot water and the bed was quite hard.
Alameda Franca, 1621/1633
Tel: + 55 (011) 3062-1444
After staying in a fabulous place in Florence (see our other tip about Il Ghiro) we thought it couldn't get any better. How wrong we were. The Beehive is extraordinary. A beautiful, warm, clean, friendly hostel with free internet and the most incredible vegetarian cafe downstairs (you can also eat at the cafe if you are not a guest). We can't believe our luck and we are wishing we could stay in a place like this everywhere we go. By far, the best hostel possible. The term "hostel" doesn't remotely do it justice. It's home, in Rome.
Via Marghera 8
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