Oxymoron?

Anyone else got an aversion to caravans? I have, ever since myself and seven siblings were taken on a “family holiday” to Burnham-on-sea by our parents, in what was described as a spacious four birth caravan, see my dilemma, any it would appear that the unachievable has been achieved, a duo from California have apparently designed a genuinely tasteful caravan. The Hutte Hut has Baltic birch floors and futon-style cushions which convert the cosy living space into a comfy sleeping area. They have gone all high tec for caravans, it has a USB port as well. I still need convincing. sproutingsprocket.com

 

Two Tormented Souls

 

This spring the Munch Museum in the Norwegian Capitol, and Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum are working in partnership to bring two of the world’s best known artists together for a joint exhibition in Oslo, on display will be more than 100 works by the respective painters, famous pieces such as Van Gogh’s Starry Night over the Rhone, and Munch’s The Scream are included.Munch:Van Gogh opens May 9 and runs for four months, it then continues in Amsterdam.

munchmuseet.no/en;vangoghmuseum.nl Amsterdam.munchmuseet.no/en;

.no/en;vangoghmuseum.nl

 

Geeks Welcome

 

One for all you geeks out there, and there are millions of us, gaming heaven, a new 2.5 m facility is to open in Nottingham set up by GameCity, it’s the world’s first cultural centre for gaming. Opening Spring 2015, it will be a platform for exhibits from the National Videogame Archive, the intention is to help educate game makers, and support innovation.gamecity.org

 

 

Better Rates Against the Euro

 

Holiday companies generally fix the coming seasons prices the previous year, but the fallout from the new government elected in Greece has pushed the currency to a seven year low against the pound, in turn this has a direct impact on the package holiday prices now frequently higher than those offered direct by hotels. For example last week, Thomas Cook was offering a seven day package at Skiathos Princess Hotel for £1,273, in comparison, booking flight and hotel separately came to £888, that’s a significant saving if you are taking a family away, if you have not booked a holiday yet, it might be worth checking the offers out. However it is worth mentioning you will be giving up the protection offered by bonded tour operators, this can be overcome with relevant insurance.

 

New Rules for travellers to India

 

From March 14th if you wish to travel to India you will be required to attend appointment centres where your fingerprints and photograph will be taken in order to get the required visa, there are twelve centres across the country, tour operators are not happy with this arrangement ,believing this could have a negative impact on those wishing to book will be put off by this extra hassle. The Indian High Commission is standing firm on the new rule.

Further to the announcement that travellers must attend in person there has been new concerns from tour operators, Matt Fisher , of Real Holidays, said families would be worse affected as “People must make their own appointments, meaning families cannot be seen together at the same time , it ludicrous”

 

 

Posh Nosh for Less Dosh

 

Many of us have fancied a meal at a Michelin starred restaurant, but the price has sometimes been a bit prohibitive, now you can spoil yourself, as many London based Michelin starred restaurants have great lunchtime menus at much lower prices. Listed below are just some where you can indulge yourself.

Representing the Gordon Ramsay Group, is Restaurant Gordon Ramsey, it has  three Michelin stars, Clare Smyth has been head chef since 2008, her dishes are characterize classic Ramsey dishes made with her own twist.

The menu is modern French, with as you would expect, handpicked seasonal produce.

Lunch menu available from £41.00

T: 020 7352 4441 restaurant reservations

royalhospitalroad@gordonramsay.com

At the Park Lane Hilton you will find Galvin at Windows, it has a spectacular view over London, The menu is French cuisine, at lunch time there are several options available, three courses for £30, or add half a bottle of wine and coffee for £50. For bookings call 020 7208 4021.

In Soho you will find Arbutus, contemporary in design, relaxed atmosphere, menu is Italian influenced, there are 3 choices for each course, and a three course lunch will cost £19.95. For bookings call 020 7208 4021.

Wild Honey located on George Street,  is the sister restaurant to Arbutus , in this instance the menu is French influenced rather than Italian as at Arbutus, the décor is that of a gentlemen’s club dining room, they offer a cheeseboard as an option instead of dessert, three courses cost £29.50. For bookings call 020 7758 9160.

Located close to Kensington High street with all its shops, is Launceston Place, very convenient for when shopping gets too much, fare is traditional English, there is a vegetarian option, three courses cost £30. For bookings call 020 7937 6912.

The recently awarded Michelin starred restaurant Gymkhana, located on Albemarle Street, is very good value, as each meal is served with daal, saag paneer and bread. Two courses are £25 and three for £30.  For bookings call 020 3011 5900.

The owners of Gymkhana, also have a restaurant in Marylebone, The Trishna, the menu is akin to its sister restaurant but note a noteworthy, hence the lower cost, £18 for two courses, which includes a glass of wine or beer. For bookings call 020 7935 5624.

 

 

Two more bites for the Big Apple

Apple Core Hotels, the midtown Manhattan hotel group known for its centrally-located, stylish and affordable hotels recently opened two rooftop bars. Cloud Social at nyma, the new york Manhattan hotel and VU46 at The Hotel @ Times Square are the latest additions to the New York sky scene sweeping the city.

 Situated at nyma, Cloud Social has views of the Empire State building. Set on the hotel’s 17th floor and with room for 120 guests, Cloud Social is located in Korea Town and features an expansive terrace with laid-back lounge-style seating on offer are an array of cocktails (priced from $12/ £7.50) includes the signature Asian Cosmo made with Absolute Citron, Triple Sec and Cranberry Juice over shaved ginger.

 Meanwhile, mere moments from Times Square, VU46 sits on the 14th floor of The Hotel @ Times Square and has a more intimate feel, with space for 70 patrons. Winter warming specials (from $10/ £6.50); include Hot Spiked Cider, Chocolate Martini and Hot Toddy. Both venues will be open daily year-round and have enclosed indoor and heated outdoor seating.

 Says Viyay Dandapani, President of Apple Core Hotels, “Rooftop bars are a quintessentially New York attraction and we’re thrilled to add Cloud Social and VU46 to our portfolio. Both establishments fill the void in Manhattan for reasonably-priced rooftop venues with a relaxed atmosphere and slick service.”

Location:

Cloud Social (www.cloudsocialnyc.com) is located at 6 West 32nd Street (between 5th Avenue and Broadway). VU46 (www.vu46.com) is located at 59 West 46th Street (between 5th and 6th Avenues).Both bars are walking distance from some of New York’s key attractions.

A one-night stay at nyma, the new york manhattan hotel or The Hotel @ Times Square starts from $125/ approx. £80 per room per night (two sharing). Excellent free-of-charge amenities include WiFi, continental breakfast (think fresh bagels, jams, cereal and yoghurt), calls nationwide, 24-hour business centres, fitness centres and in-room coffee. makers. Children under 12 can stay free with parents, too.

www.applecorehotels.com.

 

 

ONE FOR THE SET-JETTERS

If you’re at a loose end next week, a sequence featuring a car chase for the latest Bond movie is being filmed in Rome starting on the 7th March, it will however cost up to £740 a day for an apartment overlooking the action on Via Nomentana, one for true Bond fanatics I feel.

 

Let it snow let it snow

There had been some grumblings that snow conditions in many of the traditional skiing resorts had been poor, but the good news is that over 6ft of snow has fallen over parts of the Pyrenees last week, tour operators are expecting a rush of bookings to take advantage of the marvellous skiing conditions, Andorra is expected to be the preferred destination, and with half term looming it’s possible to get a week at the Crest Apartments , in Pas de la Casa, Andorra from £939pp, including flights (020 8939 0726,crystalski.co.uk)

 

Greek Tragedy

I know it might seem a little unkind to take advantage of Greece’s financial troubles, but there are some great offers around during peak season with, in Crete suites at the luxury Daios Cove resort have been reduced from £428 to £299 a night, in addition the stylish St Nicolas Bay resort has cut rates by a third,£426 to £270, many of us would have chosen to go to Crete anyway, these offers mean our intended accommodation  could  be a little bit upmarket than originally planned.

 

 

Currency

Many of us have little interest in the international currency market, however for those of us intending to do some skiing and après ski in the Swiss Alps this season, the decision taken by the national bank to abandon a cap on its currency against the Euro, has led to a significant increase in all thing Swiss, including the fondue.

 

Russian Bargains?

The continuing fall in the price of oil depressing the rouble has meant there has been a significant reduction in the amount of Russians travelling, the Association of Tour Operators of Russia has seen a reduction of almost 50% in overseas bookings and some agencies reporting business down by as much as 70%.

The traditional resorts usually catering to the Russian market are drastically under capacity, which has meant that hotels have drastically reduced room rates in order to claw back some business. In Turkey for example,  some five star hotels  have peak season discounts of up to 65%. The Belconti Resort in Belek, Antalya have rooms that start from £54 a night from Travel Republic.

 

Latest on travel to Jordan

Although the Foreign and Commonwealth office has not posted warnings against travel to Jordon, some travel companies have taken action with others monitoring the situation closely in light of Jordon’s announcement to “up the ante” against Isis. Chameleon Worldwide has no plans to cancel travel arrangements, but has given customers the option of changing their itinerary away from remote area at their request.

 

Treat the Old Bag this Mother’s Day

Afternoon Tea

Mother’s Day Champagne Afternoon Tea Celebrate Mother’s Day with a glass of Rosé Pink Champagne accompanied by delectable finger sandwiches  and sweet treats. Enjoy warm freshly scones served with rich Cornish clotted cream, homemade strawberry preserve and lemon curd all in the charming setting of The Landmark London’s stunning eight storey glass atrium.From £50 per person  on Sunday 15th March

Or if you’re too busy on the day try this, you probably won’t have to go either

A Scent Class

Treat your mum to a belated Mother’s Day , as The Landmark London partners with renowned perfumers Floris to offer a perfume master class, perfect for all cocktail and perfume lovers, spend an afternoon at the luxury five-star hotel exploring fragrances and creating your own scent profile with Edward Bodenham, a 9th generation Floris family member. Discover a British history of perfumery followed by a cocktail master class ( that’s more like it) to formulate the perfect perfume inspired cocktail.

Date: Saturday 21st March 2015

Time: 2:00pm – 4:00pm

Venue: The Mirror Bar, The Landmark London

Price: £65pp including a cocktail, canapés and a Floris goodie bag

 

Added Extra for Car Hire in Portugal

From the 2nd March tourists will have to pay an extra fifteen euro to Portuguese airports when picking up rental cars, it will apply to all hire cars collected from mainland suppliers that do not have service desks within the airport itself. The new tax is expected to effect the majority of cars hired in the Algarve.

 

New for Spring

Ryanair recently announced a new budget service from Stansted to the exotically named Azores, not currently a destination one usually associates with a budget carrier, this archipelago is found reclining 800 miles off the coast of Portugal. From April Ryanair has one-way flights from £38.99

 

Football in the Sun

We are not quite at the end of the Premier League, I don’t know who your monies on Chelsea, Manchester City or even Southampton, but for those of you who won’t know what to do with your weekends when it’s all over, here’s an idea for the interlude between seasons. The week long Tobago Football Legends Challenge kicks off  in June. Amongst the players taking part in this six a side competition are Robert DI Matteo, Gus Poyet, Darren Anderton and Ugo Ehiogu, and as it is been held at the Stadium named after Dwight York, you may see him in a pair of shorts too.

A seven-night tournament package, staying at the same hotel as the players, starts at £829pp; ba.com/magdalena

 

Declaration from Kuoni

For those customers  who have already booked travel arrangements with Kuoni, they have promised that following the news of its sale by the Swiss owners, there will be no detrimental effect on travellers, this also includes the subsidiary companies, Carrier,Kirker,Voyages, JULES Verne,CV Vilas and Journeys of Distinction, all owned by Kuoni.

 

AudioTrip Launches 

 

‘The Ultimate Guide to Europe’

AudioTrip is a free mobile app which gives comprehensive, up-to-date guides to over 20 cities worldwide, with detailed information about each city’s main tourist attractions. This autumn sees the launch of a new feature to the guide – The Ultimate Guide to Europe. The AudioTrip team has joined forces with 25 local experts in cities from Amsterdam to Warsaw to provide an in-depth guide that goes above and beyond descriptions of the usual tourist traps. These storytelling experts, ranging from BBC journalists to guide book authors, give you a unique experience of their select city, based on years of local knowledge. And at £8.00 for 25 expertly produced guides, which works out to 32p per guide, (and no need to follow anyone waving an umbrella,) it is a real steal! for more information visit www.audiotrip.org

 

Furleigh Estate Win at Champagne

World Championships

Congratulations to the Furleigh Estate vineyard in Dorset for beating the French at their own game! The winery has been awarded both gold and silver medals at the first ever Champagne & Sparkling Wine World Championships. The competition, launched by internationally renowned writer Tom Stevenson, has been created to provide consumers and the trade with the definitive annual guide to the very best champagnes and sparkling wines in the world.

The Estate produces a range of white, rosé and red sparkling and still wines – its bestseller being the award-winning sparkling Classic Cuvee 2011. 

If you are thinking ahead to Christmas, why not go British this year?

 

Furleigh sparkling wines are stocked at Waitrose, Selfridges and World Duty Free at Gatwick and Heathrow.

 

Botswana ‘Green Season’ Safaris

If you have always thought the price tag for a safari was beyond your limits, here is a chance to give it a try at a discount of 40 per cent on average costs. Luxury safari operators Gane and Marshall are offering wildlife fans the chance to see Botswana, the ultimate safari destination, during the months of November through to March at a dramatically reduced cost. At this time of year, the area is transformed from arid to green, thanks to short bursts of rainfall and the odd thunderstorm, which can make for a really dramatic experience for the visitor, as it is the season when many species give birth to their young. Not only does the trip include a guided visit to the Victoria Falls, but the area is also famous for sightings of elephant, lion, wild dog, leopard, cheetah, giraffe, zebra, tsessebe, kudu, lechwe, impala, wildebeest and waterbuck. If, like some of us, you are unsure as to what some of these species are....why not go and see for yourself?

 

Prices for Gane and Marshall’s six-night, luxury Botswana’s Green Season, from 15 November 2014 until 31 March 2015, start from £2,783pp. This represents a saving of £1,838pp compared with a Botswana safari in peak season.

 

www.ganeandmarshall.com

 

Abu Dhabi Formula 1 at Yas Viceroy Hotel

This year’s Etihad Airways F1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix takes place on the weekend of 21 - 23 November 2014 and is the culmination of the racing calendar. To enjoy this adrenalin-fuelled experience to the max, stay at the luxury Yas Viceroy, the only hotel in the world located on a Formula 1 racetrack. A booking for the Race Weekend deal ensures that you will see practice and qualifying races followed by the 305km race on Day 3, as well as having access to the Pit Lane before the races on 20th November and the four post-race concerts. Since last year featured Jay-Z, you can expect a similar calibre line-up this November. As well as stunning views of the racetrack from the spacious terrace of the hotel’s Origins Restaurant and the stylish rooftop Latitude Lounge, there is a bridge linking the hotel’s two main buildings suspended over the track, ensuring close-up vistas for avid fans.

 

The Race Weekend at Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi is from £898 per room/night (AED 5,650) including the hotel pass with access to various F1 event areas and After-Race concerts. Minimum 

4-night stay.

 

www.viceroyhotelsandresorts.com/abudhabi