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May 2010

Breaks In Miami Breach – Miami Beach Hotels

Posted May 27, 2010 by BookingBuddy

Miami If you’re searching for a place blessed with eternal summer, then look no further than Miami Beach. The city is full of blue skies and bluer waters, and a typical winter’s day will see the beach filling up with bronzed bodies soaking up the sun. The stunning Art Deco buildings dotting the city have starred in many movies and TV series, including Miami Vice and Scarface. The city itself has a vibrant cultural scene, and the large numbers of Hispanic residents have contributed many tasty dishes to Miami’s dining scene.

Everglades National Park – The stunning Everglades have featured in films and TV shows, but to see it in person still takes your breath away. Rent a kayak and spend a few pleasant hours paddling through mangroves and lakes, and working your way through lush jungles of sawgrass. You can also hike along the various trails and come face to face with the unique plants and animals found in the Everglades.

Versailles – Versailles in Miami is almost as famous as its French namesake, but there’s nothing French about this place. The restaurant itself is popular with the Cuban community and visitors, and for good reason. The walk-up window serves over 1000 cups of cafecitos a day – a sweet, strong Cuban espresso. Feast on big plates of ropa vieja (stewed, shredded beef) or a combination plate of lechon asado (roast pork), plied high with onions, peppers and maduros (sautéed plantain).

The Park Central – Experience Miami Beach from the comfort of your hotel room here. The Park Central is set in a beautiful Art Deco building, located on Ocean Drive, the city’s famous beachfront stretch. Should the beach get too crowded, simply retire to the hotel’s rooftop deck to continue your session in the sun. Period furniture in the rooms and black and white photographs hung on the walls help to evoke a sense of Miami’s history. Room rates start from £160.

Check here for Miami Beach travel information.


What To Do In The UK – June

Posted May 26, 2010 by BookingBuddy

EpsomDerby_Surrey_South  Summer is in full swing this month! The sun is out, so grab some juicy strawberries and cream, and enjoy the parks and gardens bursting with cheerful blooms. There are lots of events going on this month, and most of them are held outdoors, in order to take advantage of the glorious sunshine. Read on and see if you’ll be at any of these.

June 4th – Jul 26th – Free Range, Brick Lane, London
The year marks the 10th anniversary of this annual art and design exhibition. Free Range aims to showcase work by the freshest graduates from art and design schools around London. The show features a revolving exhibition, with new work being shown each week for eight weeks.
June 5th – Derby Day, Epsom, Surrey
One of the most famous races of the summer, the Derby is held among the lush rolling hills of Epsom. It’s a great opportunity to dress up and wear big, floral hats. Put your best foot forward and mingle with other race-goers, and indulge in a glass of champagne while cheering on your favourites.

June 11th – 13th – Download Festival, Derby

This festival may be your only chance to catch a glimpse of Goths in daylight. The acts playing are predominantly metal, punk and rock bands, so be prepared for lots of black-clad fans throwing the horns. This year’s line-up includes classic bands like Rage Against The Machine, AC/DC and Motorhead.

June 26th – 27th – Biggin Hill Air Fair, Biggin Hill Airport

This annual air show is one of the largest of its kind in Europe, and attracts both plane-spotters and day-trippers alike. Pack a picnic and some sunglasses, and spend the day gazing up at the various planes circling overhead. There will be a wide range of aircraft on display, many of them historic models such as Spitfires.


Breaks In Melbourne – Melbourne Hotels

Posted May 25, 2010 by BookingBuddy

Melbourne-square-australia  This summer, turn your world upside-down with a trip to Melbourne. The Antipodean city is said to be the most ‘European’ of Australian cities, with its trundling trams and quaint cafes. It lacks the stunning beaches of some other Australian cities, but Melbourne’s thriving cultural scene and great shopping destinations more than make up for it. It is a fairly compact city, and the neatly-grided streets make it easy to navigate around the city centre.

Pin Oak Court – Why would you want to go all the way out to the suburbs of Melbourne? Well, if you grew up watching the well loved soap Neighbours, you may recognise many of the houses from the long-running series here. When it isn’t doubling as the fictional ‘Ramsay Street’, Pin Oak court is actually a quiet suburban street, and those houses actually have real families living in them. You can join the official Neighbours tour, which takes you around the street and points out trivia connected to the series, or simply print out a map and make your own way there.

Hotel Lindrum – Hotel Lindrum is right in the heart of Melbourne’s busy city centre, but its old-world charm helps impart a sense of peace and tranquillity. The hotel has a sense of luxury and comfort, with all 59 rooms filled with rich, dark wood furniture, and lush carpets that help keep the noise to a low level. To relax in the evenings, pay a visit to the Billiard Room and sink a few balls, or simply enjoy a few drinks at the elegant Back Bar. Room rates start from £125.

Vue de Monde – This elegant restaurant in the city centre serves up equally elegant food to match its surroundings. The food is based on classically inspired French cuisine, with a few twists to incorporate the cosmopolitan ingredients available in this bustling city. Lunchtime features prettily plated classics like Lobster Thermidor and poached chicken, and more modern dishes such as Wagyu beef with crunchy nashi pears and rich macadamia nuts. There is also an extensive degustation menu available, and lucky customers may be able to secure seats at the chefs’ table, to watch the chefs themselves at work.

Check here for cheap flights to Melbourne.


Every Ash Cloud Has A Silver Lining

Posted May 20, 2010 by BookingBuddy

Plane_sky  The volcanic ash cloud spewing out from Eyjafjallajokull has disrupted many travel plans and caused plenty of flights to be cancelled or delayed. But every cloud has its silver lining, and this is also true for the ash cloud looming in our skies at the moment. Those of you who are willing to take a chance and book a flight soon may stand to benefit. Some airlines have recently announced deals and promotions in a bid to entice cautious customers back to help fill their seats.

Low-cost carrier bmibaby are currently holding a sale, with many fares slashed to 50% off. These include flights from Cardiff to Edinburgh or Jersey, for £9.99. Other deals include flights from Birmingham to Amsterdam for £19.99, and from Manchester to Prague for £24.99. The sale is only on until the end of May, so get clicking now to score yourself a cheap ticket!

Scandinavian carrier SAS is also attempting to draw passengers back with a range of discounted airfares. Deals include one-way fares to Helsinki and Copenhagen for £59, and to Trondheim and Kristiansund for £97. You’ll also be able to get return fares to New York and Chicago for only £466. The sale started on 18 May and will end on 27 May, so get yourself over to the SAS website now!

Malaysia-based low-cost carrier Air Asia is currently having a great ‘Free Seats’ sale, with passengers paying for only the tax and fees. You’ll be able to score yourself a flight from London to Kuala Lumpur for only £249 one way. Tickets from Kuala Lumpur to Manila or Gold Coast cost only £33 one-way. The sale started on 18 May, and will end on 23 May, so hurry up if you’re searching for a great overseas break!


Breaks In Marbella – Marbella Hotels

Posted May 19, 2010 by BookingBuddy

Marbella_orange_square  This summer, why not avoid the usual crowded beach resorts and rub shoulders with the jet set in Marbella instead? This beautiful Mediterranean resort is famous for its well-heeled visitors, who include actors, pop stars and royalty. The Old Town, with its famous Orange Square draws lots of visitors, and the beaches lining the coast are beautiful and understandly popular. If you want to do a spot of people watching, then secure a spot along the Puerto Banus, the yacht marina where the rich and famous spend their time. Don’t forget to try the local cuisine too – fabulously fresh seafood and rich; hearty dishes of paella are justifiably popular.

Orange Square - The Orange Square ¬- or “La Plaza de los Naranjos” - is a charming sight, and lies in the heart of the Old Town. Its name comes from the profusion of fragrant Seville orange trees that grow here, and fill the place with their scent. The square dates back to the late 15th-century, and is overlooked by the Town Hall and the Chapel of Santiago. Pay a visit to the tourism office to get some sightseeing tips, or just sit back in one of the many cafes surrounding the square and watch the world go by.

La Villa Marbella – This tiny boutique hotel is right in the Old Town, which makes it very convenient when you want to explore Marbella. The fourteen rooms are spread between five buildings, only a couple of minutes from each other. The rooms have been named after famous places – Boracay, Angkor, Lhasa etc– and decorated accordingly, which ensures a touch of personality. You’ll enjoy lots of space and sunlight, and even benefit from a terrace or balcony if you’re in one of the larger rooms. Rates start from about £140.

Santiago – This half-century old institution on the seafront is famed for the quality of its seafood, showcasing the best and freshest finds of the day. The menu moves through various regions, and is a seafood connoisseur’s dream. Start with succulent grilled scallops, a flavourful bonito carpaccio, or some tender grilled octopus. The seafood and fish paella comes in a huge serving for two people, and is swimming with the treasures of the sea.

Check here for Marbella travel information.


Breaks In Maastricht – Maastricht Hotels

Posted May 18, 2010 by BookingBuddy

Maastricht  Maastricht is one of the smaller cities in the Netherlands, but it is a very green and pleasant place to have a break in. The picturesque River Maas divides the city in half, and on either side are warrens of cobblestone streets, with a multitude of historic buildings laid out everywhere. Take some time out to visit the Vrijthof square, with the distinctive Gothic church of Sint-Janskerk in one corner, and the Sint-Servaas Basilica in another. For a pleasant day out, explore the Sint-Pietersberg caves, a vast sandstone quarry filled with thousands of man-made tunnels.

Hotel d’Orangerie – Located between the River Maas and the old Markt, the Hotel d’Orangerie makes a convenient base to start your explorations of this compact city. It takes only a few minutes to get to the Vrijthof, and Maastricht Central Station is just 10 minutes away. The hotel itself is housed in an 18th century building, and has a wonderful, old-fashioned feel. All windows are double-glazed and come with blackout curtains, which help to cut out most of the street noise from outside. Breakfast includes a variety of tasty breads, fresh salmon, and juicy fruit salad. Room rates start from £90.


St. Pietersberg Caves – Get hold of a torch and make your way to the south of the city, where you’ll be able to explore the fantastic St. Pietersberg caves. These 250km of tunnels and passageways are all manmade, formed over several centuries as the town dug out its sandstone for use in their buildings.  During the Second World War, the caves virtually functioned as a second town to most of the population, and even included a chapel and bakery. These days, you’ll be able to catch glimpses of fossils and paintings preserved on the cave walls.


Brasserie Bonhomme – Enjoy excellent views over the Maas as well as your food at this casual riverside café. The menu combines Dutch and regional specialties with familiar fare such as toasted ham and cheese sandwiches. Give the local delights a go now that you’re here. If you’re in need of something warm and filling, go for the Maastricht sour meat, or the homemade chicken with tangy Indonesian-influenced Atjar (a kind of pickle). The snacks – croquettes, chicken wings, garlicky squid - are great for sharing, and go well with the beers on offer. 

Check here for cheap flights to Maastricht.


Breaks In Lausanne – Lausanne Hotels

Posted May 13, 2010 by BookingBuddy

Lavaux  The little city of Lausanne packs a real punch beneath its idyllic, picture-perfect surface. It’s a favoured destination for many extreme sports enthusiasts, who flock to the waterfront resort of Ouchy in the city’s south to enjoy its hilly streets and flat, well-paved areas. The headquarters of the International Olympic Committee are based in Lausanne, and there are several sports clubs here too. The tiny Swiss city also has a thriving cultural scene, with many museums hidden around its manicured streets.  Take advantage of the beautiful, mountainous landscape surrounding the city, and go for hikes while you’re there, or just relax at the waterfront resorts.

Lavaux Vineyards – These extensive vineyards are situated on the mountainous hillside to the east of Lausanne, by the pristine shores of Lake Geneva. The Lavaux vineyards are now a UNESCO World Heritage site, and show evidence of having been in operation since the Roman era. A short walk through the vineyards, and you’ll see vistas that don’t seem to have changed in the last thousand years. You’ll also be able to enjoy beautiful views over the sparkling blue Lake Geneva, and if you’re very lucky, a local family may invite you in to have a look at their wine cellar. Failing that, you can always explore the wine trails, and go for wine tastings at various cellars.

Café Romand – This brasserie has been in business since the 1950s, and serves up familiar, comfortable dishes that suit the place’s casual, old-fashioned charm. The fondues seem to be popular with the clientele, and are great for sharing. There are also some tripe dishes, and lots of pork – knuckle, leg and other flavourful parts are available. There are also more fun-of-the-mill dishes such as spaghetti bolognaise, steaks, and sandwiches. While the dishes are not ‘Nouveau cuisine’, they are all very tasty, and make for a great filling meal.

Hotel Aulac – This lovely, clean hotel is housed in a very picturesque Belle Époque building, and is situated right on the shores of Lake Geneva. Most rooms come with a balcony, so you’re likely to enjoy very beautiful views from the comfort of your room. It is only a short walk to the Olympic Museum, and a speedy train ride will take you into the old part of town. The hotel also very thoughtfully provides its guests with a complimentary transport card that can be used on buses and trains throughout the city. Room rates start from £75.

Check here for Lausanne travel information.


Will The Dreamliner Take You On Your Dream Holiday?

Posted May 12, 2010 by BookingBuddy

Boeing-787-dreamliner-passagierraum Fashion is a fickle business, and these days, even aircraft can go in and out of style. Just a couple of years ago, the Airbus A380 was the ‘it’ plane – companies were snapping them up by the dozen, and everybody else Tweeting about how they’d just had their first ride on it.

These days, you’re lucky to even get a bored look when you mention the A380. It looks like the latest ‘it’ plane may turn out to be Boeing’s 787, also affectionately known as the Dreamliner. Companies that have already placed their orders for the Dreamliner include Chilean carrier LAN, Ethiopian Airlines, Icelandair, Air New Zealand, and ANA. Japanese carrier ANA will be the first to get their hands on these planes, with the first delivery taking place at the end of this year.

And what makes the Dreamliner so different from other aircraft? Well, for one, the designers are said to have tried to create a warm, welcoming feeling in the cabin. This is achieved through the use of LED lighting, to cleverly imitate the look of open sky. The in-cabin altitude has also been reduced slightly, in order to help combat the headaches, nausea and fatigue commonly experienced by passengers. It is also built with carbon-composites, rather than the usual aluminium, which is supposed to make the aircraft lighter and stronger.

While this all sounds very good on paper, will it actually make a difference to your travelling experience? Well, I guess we’ll have to wait a year or so to find out. If you manage to score a seat on that first Dreamliner to fly out with ANA later this year, please drop us a comment here and let us know how the experience went.


Breaks In Kuala Lumpur – Kuala Lumpur Hotels

Posted May 11, 2010 by BookingBuddy

Kuala_Lumpur_KLCC_park1-7821c  Its name may roughly translate to ‘muddy city’, but there’s nothing backward about the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur. Often affectionately shortened to just ‘KL’, this tropical metropolis is one of the busiest and most modern cities in the world. The skyline easily rivals that of New York or Hong Kong, and its business district boasts the tallest twin buildings in the world, the awe-inspiring Petronas Twin Towers. The city has also held on to its heritage, with lots of picture-perfect buildings such as the KL Railway Station and the Victoria Institution dotted around its bustling streets. Cool off in one of the many leafy parks around the city, or in one of the city’s many air-conditioned shopping malls.

Berjaya Times Square – When is a shopping centre more than just a shopping centre? When it has a theme park situated within its premises, of course! Cosmo’s World is located on the 5th to 8th floors of the building, and features the longest indoor roller coaster in the world. It’s sure to delight children, as well as the young at heart. Berjaya Times Square itself is a sprawling one-stop complex, filled with shops, the aforementioned theme park as well as a hotel, restaurants, a huge bowling alley and even an IMAX theatre. You’ll be able to find something to satisfy any family member in here.

Nasi Kandar Pelita – Get a taste of Malaysian cuisine’s multicultural influences at this branch of a famous local chain. Pelita Nasi Kandar serves up a range of humble, yet tasty local dishes with a wonderful home-cooked flavour that many franchises seem to lack. Most dishes are bursting with spiciness, so be sure to order a large helping of steamed rice to help counter that heat. The Kari ayam – a herby chicken curry – goes well with the bland rice. If you’re after a more ‘exotic’ dish, why not try the Kari Kepala Ikan – a spicy, fragrant curry, with a fleshy fish head importing lots of flavour to the broth?

Traders Hotel – The central location of this hotel makes it a great base from which to start exploring the rest of the city. It is just a short walk across to the famous Petronas Twin Towers, and some rooms offer breathtaking views of the city’s impressive skyline. The hotel also has a rooftop pool that gives you more of those spectacular views while you work out, and is also equipped with Jacuzzis, a sauna, and a spa to help you relax after walking about in the humid city. KL is known for its wealth of dining options, but if you can’t be bothered to leave the hotel, the two in-house restaurants will provide some very tasty fare too. Room rates start at about £100.

Check here for Kuala Lumpur travel information.


Music Festivals Without The Mud

Posted May 6, 2010 by BookingBuddy

Fuji_rock_fes_in_naeba  Summer is nearly here, and that means that music festival season is on its way too. While music and mud may go hand-in-hand, it doesn’t always have to be this way. This year, if you’d like to enjoy your favourite bands without having to be covered in a layer of mud, why not forgo the filthy pleasures of Glastonbury and make your way to some of these festivals instead?

All Tomorrow’s Parties, Butlins Minehead, UK
This intimate music festival takes place in the kitschy confines of Butlins in Minehead. Instead of roughing it out in a rain-sodden field under a flimsy tent, music fans will be able to stay in the relative luxury of a holiday resort. Your ticket price includes accommodation in a private room with friends, and even comes with a self-catering option should you want your own kitchen. Matt Groening, the creator of The Simpsons and Futurama, will curate this year’s festival.

Benicassim International Festival, Benicassim, Spain
Benicassim takes place on the beautiful Spanish beach resort of the same name, so while you may have to stay in a tent, at least it’ll be warm and sunny. Try and try yourself away from the festival stages for a little while to explore the delights of this quiet town. Cool off at the water park Aquarama, hire a go-kart and race a few friends, or bowl a few rounds at the bowling alley. This year’s festival line-up includes Lily Allen, Charlotte Gainsbourg, and The Prodigy.

Fuji Rock Festival, Naeba Ski Resort, Japan

This festival is situated in the scenic surrounds of Naeba Ski Resort, and prides itself on being ‘The cleanest festival in the world’. The festival is still called Fuji Rock, even though it is no longer held near Mount Fuji these days. Between acts, festivalgoers can also hike along some of the hilly trails, exploring lush woodland and cool, clear streams. For some truly astounding views, grab a ride on Dragondola, an aerial lift that up to the top of the mountain, and said to be the longest such lift in the world. This year’s line-up includes Air, Belle and Sebastian, and Hot Chip.


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