City break destinations
Posted March 10, 2011 by BookingBuddy
The Amalfi coast is famous for some of the most breathtaking scenery in Europe – higgledy-piggledy houses perched precariously on the sides of cliffs, white sailboats on top of brilliant blue water, and market squares thronged with people. Amalfi takes on a yellow tinge in the warmer months, thanks to the lemons that grow all around here. Quench your thirst with a chilled glass of locally-produced Limoncello as you sit on an outdoor terrace taking in the brilliant sunsets.
Ristorante Caravella – This Michelin-starred restaurant may not have the best views, but who has time to look out to sea when you’re faced with food this good? The menu makes is heavily seafood based. There’s spaghetti served with seafood, ravioli cooked with cuttlefish ink, and fried olive and mozzarella balls.
Hotel Residence – Set in a palatial old mansion, the Hotel Residence sits on the seafront overlooking Amalfi’s magnificent harbour. All 27 rooms here have been furnished with original antiques, in a style that remains sympathetic to the building’s origins. Room rates start from £120.
Amalfi Cathedral – This ancient cathedral is unmissable – its formidable bulk looms above Piazza del Duomo, where a set of steps lead up to the marbled, arched entrance. Spend some time admiring the gilt mosaics on the cathedral’s gable, or enter the Romanesque nave through the magnificent bronze doors, which now sport a patina of green. The bell tower looks over Amalfi’s harbour, and is covered with majolica tiles.
Check here for Amalfi travel information.
Posted March 9, 2011 by BookingBuddy
The smallest of the Emirates, Ajman is far removed from the glitz and glamour of its neighbouring states. Ajman has its fair share of shopping centres, but this quiet state offers a welcome rest from the hyperbole on show in other Emirates states. It’s worth spending a day or two here just for the beach – miles of white sand, bordered on one side by warm water and on the other by palm trees.
Ajman Museum – The building currently housing the Ajman Museum has been through many guises in the two centuries since it was built. First constructed as a fort, it then became the palace of Ajman’s ruler, before being turned into a police station in the 1970s. Visitors these days will be able to view a collection of archaeological finds, as well as old weapons and religious artifacts.
Kempinski Hotel Ajman – Nestled on the shores of Ajman, the Kempinski Hotel is one of the most popular hotels here, perhaps due to its stretch of private beach. The luxurious rooms and sophisticated furnishings may be just a little over the top, but there’s no doubt you’ll enjoy yourself here. Head to Hai Tao for an indulgent Chinese meal, or visit Sabella’s for intimate Italian dishes. The stuff can also arrange a romantic, candlelit dinner on the private beach. Room rates start from £70.
Bukhara Restaurant – Tucked away in the grounds of the Kempinski Hotel, the Bukhara flies the flag for Indian cuisine in Ajman. The open kitchen allows guests to enjoy the spectacle of kitchen life. Enjoy platters of tandoori-cooked meat or seafood, accompanied by stacks of fresh naan bread and refreshing dips.
Check here for Ajman travel information.
Posted March 8, 2011 by BookingBuddy
First time visitors to Croatia may find themselves pleasantly surprised at the country’s balmy Mediterranean climate. Croatia’s long coastline hugs the Adriatic, providing it with a multitude of sandy beaches that are perfect for spending lazy summer days on. Head to Dubrovnik to find out why Lord Byron proclaimed this World Heritage listed city the ‘pearl of the Adriatic’. The ancient city of Split is full of historic attractions, and ruins left over from Roman times.
Hotel President – Located beside the open-air market at British Square (Britanski Trg), the Hotel President offers a peaceful respite from city life in the Croatian metropolis. Guests can visit the market to shop for fresh food or antiques. The hotel itself is refreshingly modern, and the rooms are finished with roomy beds and colourful paintings on the walls. Room rates start from about £90.
Kamenice – Grab an outdoor table at this popular hangout and feast on fresh local cuisine. ‘Kamenice’ means oysters, and you’ll find plenty of that on the menu. There are also steaming platters of mussels, fried fish and squid, and a variety of omelettes.
Diocletian’s Palace – Built by the Roman emperor Diocletian in the 4th century, the imposing Diocletian’s Palace is a city within a city. The magnificent edifice was built with imported marble, and finished off with Egyptian sphinxes and columns. The Palace is in remarkably well-preserved, although there are still several areas undergoing restoration. Visitors will need to spend several hours taking everything in – the palace is a wonderful example of Roman excess, from the huge Peristyle to the basement with its soaring vaulted ceilings.
Check here for Croatia travel information.
Posted March 3, 2011 by BookingBuddy
If you still think of Eastern European countries as cold, grey outposts, then a visit to Bulgaria will soon change all that. It has emerged from the shadow of the Iron Curtain, and is fast becoming a popular holiday destination. Visitors have plenty to choose from – sandy Black Sea beaches, lush mountainscapes, hidden villages and colourful, cosmopolitan cities.
Rila Monastery – If you’re heading to the Rila Mountains, make a pit stop at the historic Rila Monastery for a look at this World Heritage listed landmark. The monastery was built near the cave where the hermit Saint Ivan originally spent his days. The modern day complex encompasses not just the cave, but a whole series of magnificent buildings, churches and towers.
Hebros Hotel Restaurant – Located in the Hebros Hotel, this restaurant offers diners a slightly upscale version of traditional Bulgarian dishes. Start off with a choice of soups salads, and move on to homemade meatballs, breaded pork fillets, or rabbit stewed with plums.
Dedeman Trimontium Princess Plovdiv – Look past its fairly uninspiring facade, and you’ll find a comfortable, spacious hotel with pleasantly neutral furnishings. The hotel is perfect as a base for visitors who wish to explore this ancient city. It is only 10 minutes walk from Old Plovdiv, the city’s atmospheric old town. Room rates start from around £40 per night.
Check here for cheap flights to Bulgaria.
Posted March 2, 2011 by BookingBuddy
Paris may be more hyped up, but Prague is the real city of romance. The Czech capital has more than its fair share of spectacular architecture - the majority are clustered within the historic centre, but those willing to venture further afield will be rewarded a more cosmopolitan view of the city. Sightseeing can take its toll on your feet, so sit down in one of Prague’s great cafes and enjoy a rich hot chocolate or glass of Czech wine.
Old Town – It may be full of other camera-wielding tourists, but to entirely skip the Old Town wouldbe unforgivable. Prague’s historical nexus is filled with a staggering variety of architectural wonders.Take a look at the Astronomical Clock, or Orloj. It built more than 600 years ago and features an array of animated figures that appear every hour. Visit the exhibition in the Old Town Bridge Tower to find out more about the significance of the famous Charles Bridge, and to enjoy the bird’s eyeview of the Old Town from the top of the tower.
Alchymist Grand Hotel and Spa – The opulent surroundings might be a bit much for some, but if over-the-top Baroque style is your cup of tea, then a stay in the Alchymist Grand Hotel and Spa might just be the thing for you. This boutique hotel is housed in a magnificent mansion a few short steps away from Prague Castle. The interior courtyards here are full of old-world charm, and are just the spot for enjoying a quiet tea break. Room rates start from about £170.
Grand Cafe Orient – Cubism reigns supreme in the Grand Cafe Orient, designed by architect Josef Goscar (his bust greets customers as they enter the cafe.) The interior harks back to Cubism’s heyday in the early 20th century, with elegant Cubist-inspired furniture and fittings. The menu itself features a variety of Czech cafe favourites, interspersed with a few international offerings.
Check here for cheap flights to Prague.
(Photo: Vera Kratochvil)
Posted February 23, 2011 by BookingBuddy
Ayia Napa has been a paradise for partygoers for years, so if you haven’t been there yet, it might be time to consider a trip soon! The clubs are far from the only attraction here – Ayia Napa’s incredible beaches, with their fine white sand and clear blue waters have drawn many visitors over the years. Relax on Nissi Beach and top up your tan with the beautiful people, or head to Cape Greco for a possible sighting of the mythical Ayia Napa Sea Monster.
Ayia Napa Monastery – Visit this historic monastery for a tranquil respite from hung over clubbers and sunburnt beach bodies. Ayia Napa Monastery sits in the centre of town, on the site of an illuminated icon discovered by a hunter. The sycamore tree by the gate is thought to be over 600 years old, and the cool fountain in the courtyard was built nearly 500 years ago.
Napa Mermaid Hotel – Forget the cheap fittings and crowded public areas of other resorts on Ayia Napa – the Napa Mermaid Hotel offers guests a chance to relax in quietly elegant surroundings. The rooms are decorated in neutral, luxurious furnishings, and look out over the sea. The facilities include both an outdoor pool and a heated indoor pool, as well as a gym, tennis court and spa. Room rates start from £60.
Clarabel Restaurant – This family-run restaurant offers an array of Mediterranean and Cypriot dishes on its menu. Enjoy a variety of mezes, or enjoy the flambé dishes, cooked on a portable flambé trolley right in front of your table!
Check here for Ayia Napa travel information.
(Photo: Paolo Neo)
Posted February 22, 2011 by BookingBuddy
If Ayia Napa is the only thing that comes to mind when you think of Cyprus, then it may be time for another visit to this sunny Mediterranean island! History buffs will have a great time exploring archaeological sites or simply wandering through the historic streets of Nicosia. The Troodos Mountains covers a significant portion of the island, is home to some of the oldest trees on earth! It is also a popular destination for skiers and snowboarders.
Bellapais Gardens – Set in a romantic landscape of fertile gardens and meandering paths, the Bellapais Gardens in Kyrenia is the ideal destination for a relaxing getaway. With only 17 self-contained cottages, you’ll be sure to enjoy some tranquillity while staying here. Most of the cottages come with a terrace when you can enjoy views that stretch all the way to the sea. Bellapais Abbey is only a minute away from the hotel, and can be seen while you have a relaxing swim in the spring water pool. Room rates start from around £50.
Nicosia – A tale of two cities unfolds daily in Nicosia – it is the capital city of both Cyprus and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, with the Green Line dividing Nicosia in half. On the Cypriot side, the picturesque Old City is popular with visitors. The narrow streets are filled with the scent of jasmine and lined with a multitude of shops. The historic Famagusta Gate houses a cultural centre, and the Ledra Observatory Museum gives visitors a bird’s eye view of Nicosia.
Antonaros Tavern – This unassuming little restaurant in Limasol has only mezedes on its menu, so you’ll be able to sample a wide array of local dishes at once. There are plenty of familiar items, such as dolmades (stuffed vine leaves), halloumi and soulaki. You’ll also find some seafood dishes here, and freshly grilled fish.
Check here for cheap flights to Cyprus.
(Photo: Paolo Neo)
Posted February 16, 2011 by BookingBuddy
It’s only about an hour’s flight from Miami, but life on Turks and Caico’s seems a world away from the fast pace of city life. Don’t worry if you can’t quite decide where you want to spend your break – the islands are small enough and close enough that you can easily squeeze several of them in during a short break. You’ll find all the trappings of a must-visit Caribbean destination here – crystal clear waters, fine white sand and colourful reefs. You may also be able to spot a herd of humpback whales off the coast, or a donkey wandering the streets of a quiet country town.
Grand Turk Lighthouse – This working lighthouse has had a long and rather turbulent history, starting with its construction in the UK over 150 years ago. It was then brought over to Grand Turk brick by brick, and rebuilt on the island’s northern tip. The lighthouse runs on electricity these days, and the old lens is now on display in the museum.
Da Conch Shack – True to its name, Da Conch Shack’s specialty is conch, served cracked, curried, stewed and almost any other way you can think of. The conchs are served fresh from the sea, caught by local fishermen and kept in pens near the shack. Those who aren’t into conch needn’t worry, there’s plenty of other seafood and even jerk chicken on the menu. Wash down all down with a pitcher of Jan’s Infamous Rum Punch, and enjoy a rum cake or real rum and raisin ice cream before you leave.
Osprey Beach Hotel – Fall asleep to the calming sounds of the waves lapping against the shore at the Osprey Beach Hotel in Grand Turk. There are 27 rooms that open onto the beachfront, and another 10 more that look into a lush tropical courtyard. The suites are equipped with kitchens so you can enjoy your own home-cooked meals, or head to the Birdcage Restaurant for some local cuisine. Room rates start from around £65.
Check here for Turks and Caicos travel information.
Posted February 15, 2011 by BookingBuddy
Like her Caribbean neighbours, Jamaica has plenty of sun, sea and sand, but it is its turbulent past and distinctive culture that set it apart. The local cuisine is unforgettable – take some time out to try some ackee and saltfish, and local fruits such as star apples, guineps and jackfruits. Negril’s dramatic black and blue landscape and laidback lifestyle is perfect for those who want a relaxing holiday. The Blue Mountains offers visitors a chance to see the world’s second largest butterfly and numerous unique plants, as well as some of the best coffee in the world.
Hot Pot – This casual, unpretentious joint serves food that’s nothing like the bland hotel fare you’ll find in the tourist traps nearby. The menu at Hot Pot features comfortable Jamaican home-cooking, the sort of stuff you’ll enjoy if you had a Jamaican grandmother. Enjoy ackee and saltfish, curried mutton, stewed pork or beef, and a plethora of animal parts served with beans. Wash it all down with a can of Red Stripe or refreshingly cold coconut water.
Blue Cave Castle – True to its name, the Blue Cave Castle is an incredible castle-shaped building, set just above a glittering blue cave rumoured to be a former pirates’ hideout. All the rooms here have wonderful views, and a couple of rooms have direct access to the ocean and the eponymous Blue Cave via a series of steps chiselled into the cliff. Room rates start from £38.
Dunn’s River Falls – If you think Dunn’s River Falls look familiar, it’s probably because you’ve seen it in a film or two. Jamaica’s most spectacular waterfalls are popular with visitors as well as filmmakers. It’s a wonderful escape on hot days, as the water cools you down while you’re hiking up the falls. Pack a skimpy swimsuit and pretend you’re Ursula Andress (or Sean Connery) while splashing about in the pools here.
Check here for Jamaica travel information.
Posted February 9, 2011 by BookingBuddy
Discover the spicy side of life with a holiday in Grenada! The beaches here are less crowded than some other Caribbean islands, but they are no less beautiful. Away from the beaches, you’ll discover an abundance of cool waterfalls, flourishing nature reserves, and notable forts. Visitors may also want to check out the spice plantations and bring home some freshly harvested spices for themselves.
Petit Anse Hotel – Located in a beautiful, secluded cove, the Petit Anse Hotel provides guests with beachfront views, as well as a tranquil garden to relax in. Unwind on your four poster bed while the ceiling fan keeps you cool in your room. The hotel is not far from a beach where turtles lay their eggs, so you may even be able to go turtle-watching! Room rates start from £75.
Gouyave Nutmeg Factory – Visit this nutmeg processing plant to for an insight into why Grenada is known as the ‘Island of Spice’. Nutmeg and mace, the island’s most popular exports, are sorted and processed in this factory, one of Grenada’s largest processing facilities. Get a personalised jute bag from the stencil room to remember your trip, and visit ‘Nutmeg World’ for pre-packaged spices.
La Sagesse – Sitting on a stretch of dramatic black sand beach, La Sagesse is famous for its fresh fish and seafood, as well as for its take on Grenadian cuisine. Their ‘Catch of the Day’ platter features the best of the day’s catch. Other dishes include savoury lambi (conch) creole, grilled lobster tail, filet mignon and chicken piccata.
Check here for Grenada travel information.