This excellent restaurant is in the middle of the red light district - an oasis of peace and tranquility in one of the busiest parts of Amsterdam. It's a fantastic place to go after wandering the canals of the red light district at night for an hour or so. The food is excellent and the service even better in a calm and chic environment. Inside you can eat upstairs or downstairs but, if you go in the summer, try and book a table outside on the lovely terrace.
Join the crowds of people milling along the wallen, this restaurant is down a tiny lane opposite the Casa Rosso - at the end of a dubious alley you suddenly find youself in a tiny, leafy square.
Ouderzids Achterburgwal 99; tel: 020 330 2257
Stylish restaurant with a great mix of Moroccan and European design. A friend of mine booked it for us and we ate on the roof terrace which has great views over Marrakech. There are two menus: one typically Moroccan and the other more fusion International/Moroccan. I had a Moroccan tajine which was extremely tasty.
Reservation is recommended. It's not cheap but it's a romantic place and is also good for small groups.
55 Souk Hal Fassi
Tel: +212 (0)24 378190
This is an historic building built in Japanese style in 1911. It sits high above Hollywood Blvd with a view toward downtown. Interesting fusion dishes and a great bar. A great place to escape Hollywood's frantic pace in a beautiful setting to enjoy the twinkling lights.
A wonderful spot to study the skyline and enjoy drinks, small plates or dinner, moderate prices. Romantic and historic at the same time. Be sure to check out history on website.
Prague has a surfeit of beer gardens set in various parks around the city, where small shacks sell cheap beer and wine to a laid-back crowd. One of the nicest and most romantic is in Letenské sade; with fantastic views over the city and often at least one person strumming a guitar there's no better place to enjoy a summer's afternoon. There is also an acclaimed restaurant housed in an impressive Neo-Renaissance château in the park should you feel like treating yourselves.
Nábřeží Edvarda Beneše, 170 00 Praha 7, Czech Republic
+420 221 714 444
Google map: bit.ly/Z9BkmX
A ride on the Lady Crystal can make an incredibly romantic date setting or a wonderful party venue, and is one of the best ways to get a really scenic night view of Tokyo’s Rainbow Bridge. There are a few different cruises to choose from: the lunch cruise (7,000yen), afternoon cruise (1,800 yen), the dinner cruise (12,500 yen) and the night cruise (3,800 all you can drink). The cruises are subject to good weather conditions and should probably be booked beforehand to avoid disappointment. I’d definitely recommend the one hour night cruise for an incredible view of the lit up bridge with the city lights nestled in the background.
Google map: bit.ly/TS8Aya
* Hollie is our Been there local for Tokyo. You can check out her profile here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/articles/tokyo-local-hollie-mantle.jsp and follow her tips here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/travellers/HollieMantle
Book an 5am trip from Yogjakarta to Borobadur Unesco site, an amazing 9th century temple and arrive in time for a romantic sunrise. A photographer's dream! We were rewarded with amazing views and a vast temple to discover. Such a welcome relief from the hustle and bustle backpacking across Java. Remember to take a picnic breakfast!
Burritos, Tacos, Fajitas, and enchiladas. Since moving to Austin Texas I have finally learnt the difference between these delicious belt-loosening meals. I can recommend a great number of excellent Tex-Mex places, but for a touch of class then look no further than Papi Tinos on the hipster end of East Sixth Street. Sit out under the stars on the front garden of this beautiful white craftsman’s houses, as candles
flicker on intimate simple white tables and a Mexican acoustic guitar sets a calming rhythm. The menu is small, but each dish is intricately constructed in a way that dispels the common myth that Tex-Mex dishes are simply stogy mush. I particularly recommend the Cerviche de Pescado served with Mango and the Camerones a la Diablo (Grilled shrimp tossed in a spicy peanut salsa on a bed of diced avocado and mango with a splash of lime juice). Chicken, veggie or cheese enchiladas are served with red salsa, green salsa or de mole and they really are homemade. Unlike many places, the margaritas are made from fresh ingredients and are perfect
accompaniments to the spice. I advise you to keep room for pudding. While the Churros are tempting, I fully recommend the Helado de Mazapan (Peanut ice-cream with a puff cruller and seasonal fresh fruit – it is a bit like eating a classy Snickers bar. The Brunch menu is also excellent, particularly for egg lovers. Papi Tinos is ideal for a romantic evening, but the back yard also contains large tables for groups looking for a delicious meal before a trendy night out in one of the neighboring dive bars.
A la antiguita, 1306 east 6th Austin, TX 78702
+1 512 479 1306
Google map: bit.ly/WgBKcD
* Mark Sheaves is our Been there local for Austin. You can read his profile and about Austin here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/articles/austin-local-mark-sheaves.jsp and you can follow his tips here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/travellers/MarkSheaves. Check out other locals here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/trails/been-there-locals.jsp
Time was that when the Edinburgh Festival finished at the end of August the city quickly slipped back into its famous genteel torpor. No more. Nothing matches the city for vibrancy in the famously rainy month of August but September and October in Scotland's most enigmatic city are often drier and sunnier. Walking hand-in-hand down the old cobbled ginnels (alleyways) of the Old Town or sipping cocktails on any number of rooftop terraces like that of Harvey Nichols, the place is full of romantic possibilities. Wrap up well, there is a chill that blows in from the North Sea. There is plenty of culture from the newly refurbished Scottish National Museum and Scottish National Portrait Gallery to theatres and concerts, not to mention fine dining from the likes of Tom Kitchin and Mark Greenaway. And Edinburgh must be unique in that in the middle of the city there is not only a castle sitting on a volcanic plug but a little patch of the Highlands in the shape of Arthur’s Seat and Salisbury Crags. With the Scottish independence debate high on the agenda there has never been a better time to visit the Athens of the North.
Dar Bibine is quite simply the most lovely place I have ever stayed. Tucked away down a side street in a quiet village on the relaxed island of Djerba, it is run by two welcoming Belgian expats with a true love for their adopted homeland. We arrived in the wee hours following a very late flight from London via Tunis and despite the late hour were welcomed with continental kisses through the bougainvillea draped doorway into a white and blue fairyland lit with candles and scented with jasmine and orange blossom by both Isabelle and Gerard who dealt with our luggage and even offered to pay the taxi for us and add it to our bill to ensure we weren't cheated.
Gerard is an architect and his eye for design comes through; four beautifully decorated rooms surround a small but perfectly formed swimming pool while above the roof has been converted into a relaxing space to eat, sunbathe, read, or quietly cuddle (the last made possible by the area being divided into sections with flowing drapes and bountiful bougainvillea.) Isabelle is an accomplished cook and often came and found us while we relaxed in the sun to deliver tasty snacks (cool melon, tangy cheeses, olives) or cold beers. The building is situated not far from the village mosque and the calls of the muezzin drift across the walls and into the courtyard without being loud enough to cause disturbance. One side of the guest house is also bordered by a Jewish synagogue (Djerba has an ancient tradition of Islam and Judaism peacefully coexisting) and it was truly magical one Friday evening to sit as the moon rose and listen to both the muezzin calling and the gentlemen of the synagogue sharing their respective faiths in their steady tones across the evening air.
The hotel provides breakfast, with options to your taste but can include fried eggs in the shape of fish, with dots of fiery hot sauce for bubbles, or the really delicious chocolate cous cous and tiny pastries, always accompanied by very strong coffee and cold orange juice. Evening meals, also prepared after a discussion of your tastes, can be provided (and anyone staying there should absolutely do so one evening) for an extremely reasonable extra cost, given the quality of the food. Choice in the village itself is limited but taxis are cheap, reliable and readily available and the main towns on the island are only a very short drive away.
A highlight for us was the tour of the island which Isabelle arranged for us with Faisal, a lively native who managed to speak bits of English, French, German and Italian - often in one sentence! He spent several hours showing us sights including Roman ruins, underground mosques and potteries (the heat made working and praying underground a necessity in times past) and even climbed trees to retrieve dates, olives and pomegranates for us to sample claiming (as he did about nearly everything) that these were the best available tout le mondo! At the end of the tour we were so enchanted we ended up paying him nearly triple what he had requested, certainly the best value £40 I have ever spent. I did consider suggesting Faisal as a tip himself but suspect he doesn't have a website and might need to be contacted by friends of friends (he was that type of chap).
A good tip would be to go prepared to exercise any lingering school French. Isabelle has excellent English but the locals have almost none and we found ourselves racking our brains for long forgotten vocabulary to describe what we wanted. That said, everyone was extremely friendly and patient and rather delighted to be muddling through with us.
Our visit to Djerba was so excellent that we have often said that we aren't sure we'd want to return in case it was all a dream.
Rue Abdel Wahab 7, Erriadh, Djerba
The Villa Balbianello is situated in a small town called Lenno on the west side of Lake Como. It is open from Easter and throughout the summer and you can get there both by boat shuttle or through the back gate (when opened) although this is a hilly way to get there but very pleasant. It was built in the 1500's by Cardinal Angelo Durini but was last privately owned by the famous Italian arctic explorer Guido Monzino who died in 1988 and left the entire villa estate and gardens to the Italian National Trust. It stays the same today as it did when he died and you can almost feel his presence as you take the guided tour throughout the property. Entrance into the main house is only permitted with an authorised guide (which can be booked) but if you like you can enjoy the magnificent terraced gardens for a small fee. The Villa is famous for its film scenes from Casino Royale and Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones as they were both filmed there. The views are stunning, the flowers glorious and the range of artifacts contained within the house both stunning and priceless. In my view this is the best place to visit on Lake Como. Don't miss out!
A really romantic converted hayloft tucked away gite-style in the garden of the owners' home. Full of character coupled with modern comforts and lots of lovely little touches like an iPod dock, plenty of films on DVD to watch after a hard days' sightseeing and complimentary dressing gowns. We got a bottle of wine when we arrived together with home made muffins, and fruit. Torquay is an ideal holiday spot with endless places to visit, but it wouldn't have been the same without retiring back to Windchimes afterwards. Lovely hosts. We couldn't have asked for more.
This is an amazing hotel. We stayed here as part of our honeymoon touring Sardinia a couple of years ago and it was our favourite location. The rooms are quirky and individual, the views of the mountains are stunning and the food is just incredible. We went half-board and struggled to finish the four course dinners - tip - don't be tempted to gorge on the anti-pasti or pasta courses or you'll never finish the suckling pig - famous across the island and a speciality of the hotel (you can see - and smell - them roasting on the old-style open fire). We were lucky enough to watch a demonstration of pane carasau (Italian flatbread) being made on-site too. It's an amazing place and if you're a foodie it's a must.
Helmsley is a very nice town. I really appreciate the Verbena spa, it is one of the best I have been to! Helmsley has really nice surroundings and many small boutiques with friendly, helpful staff. I'm especially fond of Libby Butler's jewellery. It is a great place for a romantic weekend, or a fun and relaxing weekend with friends.
Utter luxury. Spent a week not really doing much - it's not really the place to go if you want to explore, it's more a place for relaxing, eating and drinking. Loved the bath on the balcony!
For a wonderful simple romantic break, you can't beat Scotland and the West Highland Railway which takes you past breath taking scenery to Mallaig. From here you can see the Inner Hebridean islands and travel onto Arisaig, a pretty small town with boat trips out to Rhum, Eigg and Muck. If you're lucky, as we were, you can watch dolphins and mink whales on the early boat ride over and bask in the beauty and tranquility of the islands when you reach there.
A city with a big heart, from home made chocolate snowballs at The University Cafe (a Glaswegian institution that hasn’t changed since it opened in 1918) on Byres Road, a stroll round the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, lunch in the Merchant City, a peruse down the ‘style mile’ in the afternoon and a candle lit dinner at night. This is a city you can enjoy being lost in. But, ultimately, it’s the people that make Glasgow - even in the rain they have a smile for everyone. I would absolutely recommend No.1 Devonshire Gardens, an indulgent experience, where they will do their best to upgrade your room for free. My boyfriend doesn’t believe in Valentines Day - he says I hoodwinked him into it, but I know this city will always hold a special place in our hearts - may even move there one day.
Devonshire Gardens, Glasgow, G12 0UX
+44(0)141 339 2001
Google map: bit.ly/GYs8vd
24 Candleriggs, Merchant City, Glasgow, G1 1TD
+44(0)141 552 1114
Google map: bit.ly/GYG5FE
Kelvingrove Art Gallery
Argyle Street, Glasgow G3 8AG
+44(0)141 276 9599
Google map: bit.ly/Hidn1z
The mountain resort of Sinaia is only a couple of hours from Bucharest and is a must-see on any tour of Romania with its fairy-tale Peles Castle set amongst beautiful pine forests. To add a touch of romance though, you should leave the main town behind and hike or taxi up to stay in the Economat Hotel, which is part of the castle gatehouse and has amazing views. It's beautiful, quiet, and ridulously cheap (30 euros per night for a double room) and even in August, when Bucharest swelters in 35-40 degrees, up in the mountains the night chill forces you to snuggle up close!
Now is the best time to go to southern Egypt – the weather is perfect and the locals will be particularly pleased to see you after a lean year. The Winter Palace’s grander rooms and elegant late 19th century façade overlook the Nile, and conceal from the bustle of the Corniche a lush and well tended garden. You can relax with a drink or a swim after a day exploring the sights, and watch the desert sun turn even the drabbest building to gold as the sound of the muezzin rises from mosques all around. For a romantic dinner, albeit without alcohol, go to the atmospheric Sofra, where delicious mezze are served on round brass tables under hand-blown glass chandeliers.
Corniche el Nile street Luxor
Google map: bit.ly/H3jLOJ
90 Mohamed Farid St.
+20 95 2359752
Google map: bit.ly/HmHdos
+20 95 235 9752
Bremen lends itself to romantic getaways, it has a maze of cobbled streets and art nouveaux arcades all interlaced with fairy tale stories and delicious sweets.
But what better way to cuddle up with your loved one than on a rose petal strewn bed in the worlds smallest hotel, the Hochzeitshaus! You can have the whole one room hotel to yourselves for a decadent romantic treat that you can't get anywhere else in the world.
Hochzeitshaus' were traditionally set up as a places for newly-weds to spend their first night of marriage, so if you do feel a little amorous when you sink into the en-suite jacuzzi, you can feel happy that you are just carrying on a long tradition.
Il Ngwesi is a beautiful eco-lodge run by the local Laikipiak Maasai tribe in the breathtaking Savannah north of Mount Kenya. It is very remote. We went for our silver wedding anniversary and flew in over Treetops Lodge in a three-seater plane. We were the only ones staying and were met on the air strip and taken to our accommodation, the Prince William Banda, overlooking a waterhole. It was open plan in every sense, including the toilet and shower! We did sleep under the thatched roof the first night, but after that it was under the stars. We were superbly looked after by the Maasai; the walking safaris, sundowners and bush breakfasts were superb and the horizon pool looking over the savannah and back drop of hills was divine. A truly romantic place as I am sure the previous residents, William Wales and Kate Middleton, would concur.
Send your feedback or queries to firstname.lastname@example.org