Great family-run tapas restaurant with consistently good, well-priced food. Service can be a little slow but don't let that put you off. Recommended.
3 Wightman Road, London, N4 1RQ; tel: 020 8340 5400;
Closest railway station: Harringay;
Jetlagged after a 12-hour flight we stumbled into the W Mexico City late on a Friday night and wondered what was going on. Well-dressed people flooding in and out, pounding music, bright lights, men in black suits with FBI-style headsets… had we come to the wrong place?
Well, it just shows that you should never expect anything ordinary from a W Hotel. There’s custom-made 60s-styled furniture and coloured lighting in the lobby while bedrooms are decorated in bright cherry-red with a hammock in the ‘wetroom’.
The service, while friendly and eager to please, can be overwhelmingly American but that’s a cultural difference rather than a criticism – and it’s far better than being ignored in a British hotel. And, let’s be honest, hotels don’t get any cooler than this.
Campos Eliseos 252, Mexico City, 11560; tel: 55 91 38 1800;
Finding somewhere to eat on a weekend away is generally a hit-and-miss affair – there’s just no time to learn from your mistakes. Which is why a restaurant like Rick’s is a godsend. In fact, it was so good we ended up eating there two nights in a row.
55a Frederick Street, Edinburgh, EH2 1HL; tel: 0131 622 7800; www.ricksedinburgh.co.uk
We stumbled across this restaurant after it was misplaced in the Time Out guide but have remained thankful ever since. Ignore the handlebar moustaches, chainmail and handcuffs and enjoy the superb food at very reasonable prices. Highly recommended.
Tel: 93 323 67 84
Seeing as it's almost impossible to get a room now it's safe to say the secret's out. Hotel Banys Orientals is, possibly, one of the best value hotels in Europe - it's a boutique, designer property at a budget price.
Rooms come with hardwood floors, minimal four-poster beds, black-and-white prints on the walls, neutral décor and subtle lighting. And it's ideally located between the Gothic Quarter and the Born district. What's the catch? Well, there wasn't one. Now it's getting a reservation.
In a city of overpriced and, often, poor cuisine (compared to the rest of the country) this place is a real find.
Basic, no-frills Italian cooking and all the better for it — pasta, risotto, minestrone are all superb. And the owners make you feel more than welcome.
Possibly the best, and cheapest, dining in Venice.
Calle dei Boteri 1570-1571,
Tel: 041 721721
Given the popularity of Ibiza with the jetset of Jade Jagger, Kate Moss, Noel Gallagher and the like, it’s surprising that the White Isle only has one five-star hotel. Perched on the edge of a rugged cliff in the north-west of Ibiza, the Hotel Hacienda Na Xamena is far away from the maddening crowds of San Antonio and Ibiza Town and all the better for it.
Surrounded by the pine tree forests typical of the island, the white-walled hotel discreetly blends into the landscape, bearing no resemblance to the high-rise developments of the tourist areas. The 63 rooms all have a sea view, some have jacuzzis and some rooms even have a second jacuzzi out on a balcony-garden – you can just imagine supermodels and DJs knocking back bottles of champagne here.
The stunning pool offers an opportunity for sunning yourself if the walk down to the beach seems a bit much while the Arabian-style restaurant serves up sumptuous haute cuisine.
But, and there had to be one, a few things let down its five-star rating – the TV, for example, was the smallest I’ve seen in years and the bathroom was a little dated. Grumbles aside, and if you don’t mind being off-the-beaten-track, this is a glimpse of Ibiza’s jetset.
E-07815 San Miguel, Ibiza.
Tel: 00 34 971 33 45 00.
Despite their often minimal nature, designer hotels normally cost a lot for very little furnishing. Not so at Hotel Arena where rooms start at under 100 euros and offer stripped floorboards, white walls and school lockers – retro-style at a reasonable price.
However, the small and simple bathroom – just big enough for the sink, shower and toilet – reflects that this is a comfortable three-star and not a luxurious five-star property.
Originally built as a Roman Catholic orphanage in 1890, it’s a little way out of the centre, next to Oosterpark, and you’ll need a tram or taxi to get back and forth but as a result you gain extra space more central hotels can’t offer.
The adjoining bar and club – an old church complete with stained-glass window – ensure that this is definitely one of the cooler hang-outs in town and certainly one of the best value.
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