Çıralı is hidden away far from the road, and is blessed with five kilometres of unspoiled beach between the ruins of Olympos and the fire-breathing mountain side called Yanartas. Go in August (if you can stand the heat) and see loggerhead turtles hatch first thing in the morning on the beach. The small pansiyons will look after you; the Bellerophon Hotel, with its cabins tucked away among the orange and pomegranate trees, certainly did for us.
Akif Kosk, Çıralı, Antalya, Turkey
+90 242 8257336
Having spent a few holidays in Turkey over the last few years, my recent stay in Dalyan is the best. I don't think many British people have heard of it, but it's such a lovely resort - small rather than large, and certainly not as brash as places like Marmaris.
For families it's ideal with a variety of activities in and around Dalyan from mud baths (lots of fun) to turtle spotting. We stayed at the Aydos Club Hotel in Dalyan booked through Simpson Travel. It was a lovely family-run hotel - small and friendly, just as we like it. Rahmi, the owner, organised activities to keep everyone entertained and we felt like royalty sailing in their traditional boat.
Aydos Club Hotel, Dalyan Turkey
+44(0)20 8392 5858
It's not posh, not pretentious, but it has enthusiastic, knowledgeable owners who really care about this wonderful area. It's both clean and comfortable and very affordable. The nearby beach is world renowned, yet not overcrowded. There are amazing archaeological sites to be explored and great excursions available too. Where else would you holiday in a place mentioned in the Bible? (Acts21:1)
Hotel Patara Viewpoint, Patara, Kas, Antalya
+90 242 8435184
The Golden Key at remote Bordubet on Turkey’s Lycean coast is situated on a shady creek. Watch kingfishers and black swans from your balcony, feed the rabbits or take a tranquil boat trip round to the private beach club where you can swim out to laze on a raft, jump on a floating trampoline, or explore the empty coastline by kayak. We took a day trip to the hot springs and mud baths at the Sultaniye Spa, had lunch directly opposite the Carian cliff tombs at Kaunos and were back in time for a sunset dinner at The Golden Key’s beach restaurant, situated on a little hill overlooking the tranquil cove. Heaven.
The coastal hamlet of Cirali, approximately 80kms south west of Antalya on the Lycian Way, is a pure delight. This low key resort in the Beydagalari National Park, is a popular holiday spot with Turkish families and the odd western European who like us arrived by happy fluke. The excellent 3km beach is where the loggerhead and green sea turtles come to lay their eggs and the crystal clear water makes for superb swimming. At the northern end of the beach you can explore the ruins of the ancient Lycian city of Olympus, where visitors to the beach ramble over the ruins of an amphitheatre, aqueducts and byzantine tombs. You can opt for quirky tree house accommodation in the Olympus valley, or a more peaceful option is to stay in Cirali itself at one of the small pensions.
Adrasan sits in a cove 10km off the main road and just 90Km south of Antalya. At the north end of the beach Hotel Paradise perches on a riverside flowing down to the beach. The water is not deep and tables and seating areas are scattered in the riverbed, connected by walkways. After a day enjoying the numerous family or adventure activities on offer along the promenade it makes for a very cool, calming ambience. Good food too, albeit infused with the strong local garlic.
For hardier hikers the clearly waymarked Lycian Way leads north over a rocky outcrop to the ancient site of Olympos. This ancient sprawling city must have been an archaeologist’s delight. Wonderfully decrepit, the ruins are open to clamber over, around and through. Keep to the south side of the riverbed in Olympos to avoid 99% of other tourists and find yourself alone amongst a 20-tier amphitheatre and Roman baths complex.
Walk through the village stopping at a tree house café for glasses of freshly squeezed orange and lemon then it is a gentle 4km along the beach and walk up to Chimera. This sacred and historic site has a number of eternal flames bursting through the rock with no vegetation to feed the flames.
Keep your eyes peeled too and you might see one of the protected caretta caretta loggerhead turtles.
It is a small hotel but with ensuite rooms, air con, swimming pool etc. Situated in beautiful natural surroundings on the coast near Lycian - site of Olympus. Owners Jon and Sue Graham offer fantastic value holidays and organise activities for all the family or just relax by the pool. Jon and Sue are exceptional hosts making everyone feel like visiting friends rather than paying guests.
Deniz Mah, Cavuskoy Beld, Kumluca, Antalya
+90 242 883 1462
A long stretch of often unoccupied sand stretched out just ten paces across the road from the Family Kingdom hotel at Lumley beach just outside Freetown. Admitedly it's busier at weekends when its full of locals coming to enjoy themselves or play football (including Sierra Leone's world beating amputee team). The children will enjoy sharing the resort hotel's playground and pool sometimes with children on a school trip from the city. Parents will wonder at the almost surreal statues of, among others, King Kong. Breakfast is outside and always accompanied by small and not so small deer and pretty regularly by monkeys (who can sneak into your rooms too). Bored? Almost anybody will organise a sea trip for you to another wonderful beach or try the evocative slave islands nearby such as banana island with its community organised chalets and fish in banana leaves for tea. And in the evening, Alex's bar across the road invariably has a fire eater emerging from the Man o' War bay as you eat and you can return to the hotel to watch the sun go down from the terrace of the moonview bar. Do avoid the rainy season and don't expect cash points.
Lumley beach and the hotel are accessible by boat from the airport that ties up at Alex's bar or cross on the helicopter for the (more expensive) excitement.
P.O.Box 94, Freetown, Sierra Leone
+232 22 236133
Google map: bit.ly/nGg9S3
This boutique hotel near San Luis is an oasis, a calm and elegant place where time stands still for you to relax and be pampered. The décor is soft and stylish, the gardens fragrant and peaceful. The main pool has a delightful small bar for a lunchtime snack and later, when lit by candles it is a cool place to watch the night sky and enjoy the scent from the garden. Dining at Biniarroca is a gastronomic delight. The Matre De and his team will ensure that your evening is an experience to remember. The food is a delightful mix of French and Mediterranean prepared to the highest standards of perfection and taste. A destination for couples and the single traveler who enjoy peace, quiet and fine dining.
You won’t have to pass an exam to get a room at Hôtel des Grandes Ecoles, just make sure to book in advance. This hotel, ensconced in an impasse with a garden, right in the heart of the Latin quarter, opposite where Hemingway lived in the Twenties, has affordable and lovely hotel rooms, some with Toile de Jouy wallpaper which will no doubt colour your dreams. Room from 118€. It is not cheap but worth the investment!
It's a Victorian era hotel, built by Thomas Cook in 1886, and has not been overly modernised. It was used by passengers of the flying boat era, though I don't know if they stopped overnight or just for lunch. Now it is just 'old school': extensive gardens, grand piano in the bar, peace and quiet. Best position on the Corniche. Timeless.
If you don't mind that Tony Blair had a suite there, its worth a couple of nights.
A favourite holiday destination for folk from Barcelona and Madrid wanting to escape stifling city heat, Vejer de la Frontera is a stunning hilltop Moorish town 9km from the empty golden beaches of the Costa de la Luz on the Altlantic coast. Wander round the ancient cobbled streets in complete safety, eat delicious tapas in one of the many street cafes. Sit on the terrace of the hippy chic Hotel la Case del Califa with a glass of chilled local sherry and watch Morocco twinkling away in the distance. In August the Festival is wonderfully colourful; there’s music on every street corner, and even the hardest of hearts will melt at the sight of the kids dancing their socks off in the flamenco competitions - which are taken very seriously! There’s minimal tourism, the climate is cool and the townspeople are very friendly.
Recommended for pure romance and delight for bright cold winter days, (though beautiful in summer too). Give yourself two days. Drive through the winding Alpujarras mountains to reach El Ventorro, a rural hotel and restaurant, a couple of kilometres outside Alhama de Granada. Here, you can feast on incredible local food, from mushrooms collected in the forest, to local cheese and serrano ham, washed down with surprisingly delicious locally produced wine (well marketed in smart bottles- take one home with you) by a roaring fire in winter. At night you can stay in a beautifully lit cave room, with a four poster bed-the best sleep of your life! And the next day, you can choose whether to luxuriate in the atmospheric, heavenly (and spotless) Arabic baths built in the next door caves, or walk through the sandstone river valley and canyon to the historic town of Alhama de Granada, replete with Nazari ruins, a castle, historic squares, fountains and everything that Andalucia has to offer. If you can fit in the baths and the walk, you may be tempted to stay a second night in one of those beautiful caves and start the whole cycle again! And this whole delicious assault on the senses (cave bedroom, dinner, breakfast arabic baths) will only set you back about 70 euros. Stunning.
It's a luxury hotel like many others in the area but it's perched on a cliff face and has its own James Bond-style private beach at the bottom of the cliff.
There are a few spots on the Spanish coast that remain undeveloped and the Parque Natural de Cabo de Gata-Nijar just east of Almeria is one of them. An area of cliffs, arid hills, spectacular beaches and picturesque fishing villages, although not undiscovered this area has a wildness and a sense of space for those seeking a more elemental seaside holiday. Stay in San Jose if you want a small taste of nightlife, otherwise stay at Los Escullos, either at the hotel or the campsite and during the day take a walk to the centre of the extinct volcano and spend the evening lying on the warm rocks by the sea watching the stars.
Los Escullos, 04118 Almeria, Spain
+34 950 389 811
Google map: bit.ly/jFdyTB
Los Escullos, 04118 Los Escullos Nijar Almeria, Spain
Google map: bit.ly/iIp4Kp
+34 950 38 97 33
In Las Alpujarras is a traditional group of homesteads and farm buildings which have been beautifully transformed into an hotel/apartment complex, enjoying fantastic views of the Sierra Nevada National Park. We (wife, son and I ) stayed there in 2009 and enjoyed this peaceful, idyllic location including it's inexpensive fine menu and wines. It has it's own vineyard, stables, hermitage and swimming pool to enjoy. Heaven!
The most friendly and comfortable hotel you could wish for, with great views, top class food and a wonderful pool. Feel like part of the family. Walk ancient and historical mule trails with expert guides, learn how to paint, or simply sit and enjoy the luxury. A bit of magic in rural Andalucía.
Canillas de Albaida, Malaga 29755
+34 95 203 0444
These two traditional Spanish houses are 2,200ft up in the gorgeous Andalucian mountains and offer rare peace and quiet for writers. You wake every morning to blue skies and stunning views across almond trees and olive groves. The ancient village of Comares is within walking distance and is the highest pueblos blancos in the area. It has the remains of a Moorish fort, great restaurants and incredible views down to the sea. Every year on the penultimate Saturday of July, there is a festival of the local 'Verdiales' music, where the men huddle together to play guitars and violins, while the women in costume dance around them. This hidden gem is far more authentic than the tourist-filled Ronda or Granada.
The Garni Hotel Konak is situated on the edge of the old town with easy access by taxi (10 Bosnian Marks from the bus station). It is very clean and modern with extremely helpful, friendly and pleasant staff. A few metres away on the opposite side of the road is Sartours, an excellent, highly informative (they are very passionate about their city) and inexpensive family run tour guide agency. We had an excellent 20th century tour in their own car.
Castel san Vincenzo is an Italian municipality of 566 inhabitants of the province of Isernia in Molise. In its territory you find the famous abbey of Saint Vincenzo to the Volturno. The village is situated to the western stratums of the Walloon mount. The earth of Saint Castel Vincenzo is rich of lives, olive trees, walnuts and gelsi.
The original abbey of San Vincenzo was destroyed in 881AD and rebuilt. This is the abbey we can still see today. The two areas of Castellone al Volturno and Castel San Vincenzo al Volturno were combined in 1928 and in 1990 became an important part of the National Park of Abruzzo and Molise.
The local food is delicious. Expect dishes like Zucchine secche with dried plums (dried courgettes, a Christmas dish), Dardaglione (polenta with vegetables), Torcinelli Christmas (pancakes), Farrozzi (risotto made with pig's blood and thymus) and jiciuotti (dried corn and baked in a clay pot).
San Vincenzo is located near the airport either in Rome or Pescara.
You can easily get there by car, coach and train.
One beautiful hotel in San Vincenzo is Tenuta la Bandita.
Via Campagna nord 30, 57020 Sassetta
Google map: bit.ly/lrqIiR
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