South Pelion has everything to offer at all seasons. Walk on ancient stone paths under plane and olive trees with glorious views of the Pagasitikos gulf or the Aegean. Swim at deserted pebbled coves or beaches with swathes of fine sand. Select from a range of reasonably priced places to stay and enjoy food in fish restaurants, small tavernas that offer regional cuisine, or more international eateries such as Casablanca in Horton. Visit traditional hill top villages with quiet, plane tree shaded cobbled squares, little fishing harbours, historical sites, tiny fresoed churches or the market in Argalasti for local produce including home brewed local spirit tsipouro. In addition you can take a trip to nearby Skiathos on board the Africana from Platania for a day or two of partying. You will certainly be glad to return to the peace and beauty of South Pelion.
Campsites include Louisa at Platanias (www.camplouisa.gr/en/draseis.html), hotels include Kima and Des Roses in Platanias and accommodation includes Katerina in Pelion and Valtoudi in Milina.
Two cabanas which sleep two people each, set in a nicely landscaped garden overlooking a small stream. The cabanas are functional, each with good showers, nice bed linen, air con and fans.
Ajith, the manager, is a nature fan, ex Yala jeep safari driver and can tell you all about the birds that surround the cabanas - kingfishers and woodpeckers nesting in the tree trunks. Good food, good tea, peaceful, excellent value. He made us a packed breakfast for our 5am safari start and accommodated my friend's gluten intolerance.
For a Yala national park safari use Sanjaya (driver) www.yalasafarijeep.com
I've been with him four times and each time have seen leopards. He's good on birds too.
38 Galmadawwa Road, Punchiakurugoda, Tissamaharama
This is a great little gem of a place that might be the only one its kind in the world. It has taken the boutique hotel concept and turned it inside out - with the design and coolness factor turned up high. The 'hotel' moniker is misleading; it has but one room. It's a very stylish and beautiful room, mind you. The rest of the place consists of an art space, a design and a 'product' shop full of interesting items for the home, a beauty/skin care boutique, a clothing shop, a cafe, and a small interior garden. Confused? That's normal. But just drop in and you will feel that it all somehow makes sense. The cafe in particular is a great spot to eat and re-charge during a day of sight-seeing.
Staalstraat 7B, 1011 JJ Amsterdam, Netherlands
+31 20 523 5059
Google map: bit.ly/17Hy2Nl
* Jeff is our Been there local for Amsterdam. You can read his profile here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/articles/amsterdam-local-jeff-funnekotter.jsp and follow his tips here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/travellers/jefffunnekotter
A perfect base for reaching anywhere connected with the Gallipoli campaign is the charming boutique hotel, The Gallipoli Houses. Built, owned and expertly run by Eric Goossens and his wife Ozlem, the hotel is perfectly placed in the village of Kocadere, in the heart of the Gallipoli National Park.
Externally, the rooms are designed to blend in with the rest of the village, however the accommodation is modern, comfortable and has every convenience that you will need. The food and wine are carefully prepared and selected so that you have the opportunity to enjoy an authentic taste of Turkey. For those seeking to further their knowledge of the campaign of 1915, then you will find Eric a veritable encyclopedia on the subject.
I cannot think of a better place to stay to enjoy your visit to the Gallipoli peninsula
A skiing holiday in the Czech Republic needn’t break the bank. Rokytnice nad Jizerou is an excellent base if you’d like to hit the slopes and it’s easily accessible from Prague on public transport too (there are direct buses three times a day). Just because Easter’s almost here, don’t rule a winter sports jaunt out: there’s some snow on the peaks as late as May. There are two main resorts: the baby slopes of Studenov which can be reached on foot and for the more competent, Horni Domky which is served by a regular free Ski bus. A day’s pass for Studenov is 380CZK for adults (about £12) and 200CZK for children (about £7). The area is popular with Poles and Germans as well as Czechs so don’t expect the place to be overrun with Brits although there are plenty of English speaking instructors. As for food, if you can’t the Czech fried fare on offer in the stands and restaurants by the slopes then try the soups instead. There’s česnekova – a very garlicky broth bound to keep the vampires away – or porkova, a creamy leek concoction. Remember to ask for bread as it isn’t served automatically. A glass of švarak (mulled wine) or medovina (mead) is a great après ski pick me up too. We stayed at Pension Samohel, which is run by a former Czech ski champion: very friendly, good location, great food but take your own towels – the ones provided were tiny and had seen better days.
Rokytnice nad Jizerou 153, 512 44 Rokytnice nad Jizerou, Czech Republic
+420 604 200 934
Google map: bit.ly/YP8LZH
* Lisette is our Been there local for Prague. You can read her profile here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/articles/prague-local-lisette.jsp and follow her tips here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/travellers/LisettePrague
We treated ourselves to luxury by staying in a Welsh castle near Aberystwyth. It is in fact a grand house built as a Gothic folly complete with turrets and ramparts but inside it is very deservedly a five-star boutique hotel that is sumptuously decorated and inviting. Our room had a four poster, a bathroom with a circular bath and we had tremendous views out over the beautiful Aberdovey river which was ideal for our romantic stay. The breakfast was excellent and our host was friendly and made us feel at home. Well worth staying for something special.
I stayed at this beautiful five-star boutique hotel in Luang Prabang. The surrounding countryside was beautiful, the facilities were amazing and the service was the best I have ever known. They helped us with many day trips and their knowledge about the surrounding area was top notch. I highly recommend this gem.
On a recent travel forum, somebody asked ‘ Is Marseillan in the Languedoc really as lovely as people say it is?' The answer is a resounding yes. Just walk down to the pretty little port and take in the view - sail boats bobbing on the silvery waters of the saltwater lagoon, and holiday cruisers drawn up to the moorings where a choice of restaurants awaits the lucky traveller. The impressive Chateau de Port, now a restaurant, looks out to sea, flanked by the cellars of local winemaker Henri de Richemer.
Your choice for lunch – Rive Gauche or Rive Droite ? Go left and a dozen waterside restaurants await, offering you everything from fresh shellfish to crepes and fresh salads. Go right, and choose from the fine dining at the Chateau to pizzas or oysters and a glass of Picpoul at the tiny fish stall.
But the really great thing about Marseillan is that it isn’t just a chic tourist façade, but a proper working town. The church square buzzes on Tuesday with the street market, the little indoor Halles opens daily for fruit, veg, fish and cheese. The Boulevard Hotel in the town centre offers steaks cooked on an open fire, or go to the Table d’Emilie for Michelin-style dining. The Bar Marine is where the local stop to people watch over a coffee, a Ricard, or to watch the evening footie on big screens. The Delicatessen restaurant is decorated with retro furnishings, and spills out into the shadow of the church on summer days.
Plunge into the narrow lanes of the pedestrianised old town for shady relief from the sun, where visitors and locals live happily side by side. And when you need a dip, clean, sandy uncrowded Mediterranean beaches are just five minutes away.
Throughout the town, tiny shellfish stalls packed with freshly harvested oysters and mussels raise their shutters at lunchtime and evenings. Locals queue for a kilo or two of oysters – this isn’t overpriced food for the few, but the local diet, cheap as chips. The Picpoul de Pinet wine which is only grown in this area is the perfect accompaniment – sit in any local restaurant and watch the two being enjoyed together. Visit the Picpoul domains which dot the area, and marvel at how many labels can thrive in such a small locality.
Marseillan really is a French town like no other, worth a visit at any time of the year. Buses connect with Beziers Cap d’Agde airport for the princely sum of 1.5 euros making it an easy place to visit for a short break without a car.
Walk through the ornate lobby of the Seven Hills hotel in Sultanahmet, and take the lift to the rooftop bar for the best view in Istanbul. Sip a Turkish beer or wine while drinking in the 360 degree panorama, including the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia and the ships on the Bosphorus. Swap seats each round for a different but equally stunning view!
The Saigon Saigon rooftop bar at The Caravelle hotel is the perfect place to enjoy a sundowner looking out over the city. Later, the Rooftop Garden bar at the famous downtown Rex Hotel is steeped in the history as a meeting place for journalists during the war. It has been glamorously updated and is the place to gaze over the city while enjoying a cocktail or a meal.
19 Lam Son Square, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
+84-8 3823 4999
Google map: bit.ly/15fQpGX
141 Nguyen Hue Blvd., District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Phone : +84-8 38292185 o
Google map: bit.ly/XXUFVn
Aer Bar is a rooftop bar with the most amazing panoramic views of Mumbai: its skyscrapers, racetrack, ocean and Haji Ali mosque.
114, Four Seasons Hotel, 34th Floor, Dr E Moses Marg, Worli, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400018, India
+91 22 2481 8000
Google map: bit.ly/YCL9HG
A lovely, laid-back, quiet rooftop bar and restaurant, with views of the Potala Palace. Pretty much only used by hotel guests, so not raucous, and with no-one hassling you for your table like the rooftop places off Barkhor Square. A perfect place for breakfast, or to let the afternoon and evening slip by.
No. 16 Taibeng Gang Wengdui Xingka Sangdong Yuan Lhasa, Tibet, China
+86 (891) 632 6695
The epitomy of a roof top bar. Set of the 17th floor of the hotel, the only access is via a lift with its own doorman. The food is incredible, the cocktails are amazing and served until 2am. The clientele are hip and occasionally famous.
You might think the Art Deco Imperial Hotel is too posh for you and your kind but think again. I visited it after a hard day's work wearing shabby clothes and the staff didn't bat an eyelid (such a lack of snobbishness that is typical of all Czech people that I've encountered.) On the ground floor it has a beautiful cafe/bar decorated with Art Nouveau mosaics. Treat yourself to a cocktail and enjoy the splendour of your surroundings.
On the 14th floor of a recently built hotel, you can drink and eat, and gaze at two thirds of Berlin. Favoured seats are along the west facing windows for sunset. Stunning!
This hotel is not only charming but has aimed their service toward selective discerning clients. It is in a very convenient place in the Buda district which is great in the evening, excellent restaurants within a minute's walk. The hotel is decorated in a modern way this mixed with excellent specification in furniture and bathrooms made our stay very memorable and I would definitely recommend this hotel.
Room Tip: excellent junior suite on the ground floor.
The castle is UNESCO heritage listed and its baroque 140 seat theatre is only one of five in the world. The town (pop.c 10,000) is full of fascinating renaissance and baroque buildings and due to the old brewery being the birth place of composer Smetana, there is a strong musical tradition in the town. The monastery gardens and its highly individual sculptures with subtle background music are a further attraction as is the very good and cheap beer and food. The stylish Hotel Aplaus offers double rooms from 2,600czk. To cool off, a visit to the old fashioned outdoor lido is a must.
Leaving a disappointingly grey, drizzly Lake Balaton, I needed to raise my spirits. I’d spotted a hotel on my map, at Retimajor among wetlands 30 miles away. As our shadows lengthened over the fields of sweetcorn and sunflowers, my bicycle and I sped along quiet lanes, to the tranquil haven of Retszilas Fishponds Nature Reserve. Despite having no booking, I was made welcome in an airy suite. As the sun set I watched waders and waterbirds settling for the night. Hungary’s only museum of fishery, a wellness centre and fishermen’s inn complement the outdoor activities.
Less than 100 miles apart, these South Moravian towns are linked by good cycling routes, vineyards around the River Morava, the heady smell of flowering lime trees, buildings of Baroque splendour, palaces and gardens, and market square cafes. In Kromeriz the highlight was Radnice restaurant serving a degustation menu with samples of local wine. In Mikulov, the Hotel Templ provided a comfortable room and excellent food, and was a good base for a day’s circular cycle route exploring the former Liechtenstein palaces of Valtice and Lednice, and the former Jewish area of Mikulov itself.
It is a new chateau, ugly from the outside but great on the inside in the middle of the Rose Valley. Whether sitting on the terrace and looking at both the Balkan and Sredna Gora Ranges a few miles apart or eating, hiking or visiting history in the vicinity, at £35 a night its a steal.
Moskovits, nr Karlovo
+359 882 645 452
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