The sybaritic lifestyles of the rich and powerful helped bring ancient Rome to its knees. Nowadays, luxury is a little less dangerously unbridled in the Eternal City, but there are many hotels offering sufficiently splendid décor and enough luxe pampering to make visitors feel that a little of the spirit of the Ancients lives on. Some of Rome’s top hotels rub up against magnificent Roman ruins, others occupy the former dwellings of great aristocratic families, still others are the domain of more recent fashion royalty. All offer exceptional levels of comfort.
The very idea of Tokyo – one of most densely packed cities on the planet – can be intimidating even before getting off the plane. In reality, however, it is a refreshingly easy city to visit. Despite its salaryman crowds, flashing neon and sprawling train networks, it is a place that thrives on running smoothly and safely. And an added gold star? It’s as clean as a city can possibly be. But perhaps best of all is its structure: lacking a clearly marked centre, it’s made up of a patchwork of different neighbourhoods, each distinct in identity and atmosphere – and so there are the museum-like fashion flagships of architectural nirvana Aoyama; the edgily rainbow-bright fashion tribes of trends-hub Harajuku; the low-key fashion stores and cafés of leafy Daikanyama; and the narrow lanes, old school kimono shops, temples and lively markets of Asakusa.
Over the past 20 years, the ‘mischievous’ Standard group has become the party-loving poster hotel for lifestyle hospitality in the US, from the Meatpacking District in New York to Downtown Los Angeles.
When Richard Branson sneezes the world catches a cold. So it’s not surprising that when Branson first said the words “cruise ship” in 2017, cruisers and non-cruisers alike sat up. You can bet your bottom dollar that cruise convention will be thrown overboard.
Brazil’s tourist draws are legendary. There’s the Amazon, a wild expanse almost twice the size of India that’s can boast 40,000 plant species, 1,300 birds, the world’s longest river – and an opera house. Or what about Rio, with its riotous carnival, picturesque setting and iconic statue? Few waterfalls anywhere on the planet can trump Iguaçu for beauty.
This is one of the most anticipated and indulgent holidays you’ll ever take, so naturally expectations are high. Once-in-a-lifetime experiences such as champagne picnics on uninhabited islands, diving with whale sharks and staying in over-water villas with their own chef tend have long lured happy couples. But now action and adventure are a top priority for newlyweds who have already taken sun, sea and sand holidays together numerous times – anything from gorilla encounters in Uganda to tandem skydiving in New Zealand. And twin-centre honeymoons – city and spa, safari and sand – are also very popular. Some things never go out of honeymoon style, though: a big bed, amazing views, fantastic food and top-notch service.
Malaga has shaken off its reputation as being merely the gateway to the Costa del Sol. Revamped and revitalised, the city now boasts a sleek port, an exciting culinary scene and a rapidly growing clutch of artistic attractions. In fact, it’s quickly becoming recognised as one of Spain’s cultural hubs, bursting at the seams with places to explore from the attention-grabbing Pompidou Centre and ever-popular Museu de Picasso – which celebrates Malaga’s most famous son – to the street-art-cloaked streets of its edgy Soho district.
Edinburgh is a cosmopolitan city, with a thriving café culture, vibrant and varied nightlife, great shopping and a strong contemporary arts scene. There’s no off season really; festivals – from film to jazz to food and beyond – happen every month, not to mention Hogmanay, International Festival and Fringe. While there are many incredible luxury hotels in and around the city centre that offer sumptuous bedrooms and excellent facilities, a handful are just as comfortable, arguably more characterful and equally as well-placed for exploring the city, but at an affordable price for those seeking a budget stay. Here's our ultimate guide to Edinburgh hotels that won't break the bank.
Britons don't seem to shout too much about trips to Germany, but we're flocking there in record numbers. According to the most recent figures from the German National Tourist Office (GNTO), 5.9m overnight stays were made by UK holidaymakers in 2018 – up five per cent on the previous year. Indeed, ONS data suggests it is our sixth favourite holiday destination, ahead of Portugal, Greece and Turkey – all of which, arguably, receive far more plaudits.
Bath is a real head-turner – just walking its World Heritage streets can lift your spirits. The photogenic Georgian architecture has a warm, sunny glow, while the sweeping crescents and terraced Circus make your head spin. Its biggest draw, the Roman Baths complex, cleverly makes the most of the city’s ancient foundations, while the words of former resident Jane Austen bring more recent history to life.
Keen London cyclists - you know, the kind who wander around in lycra and silly caps - spend an awful lot of time going round in circles. Laps - of Regent’s Park or Richmond Park, more often than not - are a mind-numbingly dull yet inescapable part of the capital’s two-wheeled culture. One Wednesday last summer, however, while my cycling buddies were dodging traffic on Regent’s Park’s Outer Circle, I was discovering the most beautiful lap in the world.
Despising tourists isn’t new. A French visitor to London in 1552 recorded that “the common people are proud and seditious... these villains hate all sorts of strangers [and] spit in our faces.” Hardly the red carpet treatment.
Thomas Cook has moved to reassure customers that they need not worry about their holiday plans as the tour operator wrestles with concerns over its financial position.
The British country house hotel was born in 1949, brought to us in the pink and frilly shape of Sharrow Bay, overlooking Ullswater in the Lake District. Presided over by a splendid couple, Francis Coulson and his partner Brian Sack, it came complete with a gargantuan afternoon tea, and Sack’s famous Icky Sticky Toffee Pudding and Coulson’s bedtime poems on the pillow. People adored it. There had been leisure hotels in Britain before, of course, but this was the first where you could be assured of being personally pampered in beautiful rural surroundings, with a committed owner at the helm offering a warm welcome, decent food, peace and quiet.
Cornwall is on everyone’s lips these days. Those lingering shots of wild moorland, Grecian blue sea and soft pale sand in every episode of the BBC’s Poldark have drawn visitors from around the world. Despite such popularity the county retains its cloak of tradition and sense of isolation. Yet hidden behind the stone walls of farmhouses and fishermen’s cottages are stylish apartments and restaurants where acclaimed chefs serve up the finest seafood.
The cover story in this Sunday's print edition celebrates Queen Victoria’s legacy in India. It set us thinking about other unexpected traces of Britishness abroad, from police uniforms and phone boxes in Gibraltar or Bermuda to cricket pitches in Corfu and India, monuments around the world, churches, relics of military history and the “Man U fan” found everywhere from the Maldives to Marrakech. If you have seen a fascinating example of this on your travels, why not share your story? The reader who sends in the best entry wins a £500 voucher.
Having it all is most definitely a good thing but it can also be a somewhat overwhelming – where to start? London has so much to offer, for all tastes, budgets and cultural persuasions. There is proper (grisly) history, statement buildings old and new, and world-class museums housed in jaw-dropping architecture. There are wonderful parks dotted, peacefully, throughout the city, markets galore, a thriving culinary scene spanning street food, fine dining and global cuisine that rivals any city in the world. It’s also a centre for fashion, art and music.
Berlin grabs headlines for its slew of art spaces, notorious nightlife and burgeoning start-up scene, and the inner-city neighbourhoods (Prenzlauer Berg and Kreuzber, for instance) are peppered with hip bars and restaurants, as well as quirky museums, independent shops and boutique hotels. Matching slick furnishings with an intimate, often seductive atmosphere and an emphasis on personalised service, these discreet and stylish places to stay appeal to a range of discerning travellers, from romantic weekenders to hip city-hoppers. We share our pick of Berlin's best boutique hotels, for those who appreciate the more personal touches of travelling.
If somebody challenged you to run 400 metres, you’d most likely have no trouble – but what if those 400 metres were up a ski jump? Yep, us neither.
Lovers of history will be bewitched by Mexico's exquisite haciendas with their Matisse-like blocks of colour, Mayan arts and crafts and antique wooden furniture. From luxury boutique hotels found deep in the Yucatán jungle to palatial erstwhile henequen estates, here's our pick of some of the most historic places to stay.
American author E.B. White once quipped about this city of eight million inhabitants: "New York provides not only a continuing excitation but also a spectacle that is continuing." And while he may have said this nearly a century ago, his words still ring true to this day. The City that Never Sleeps is in constant motion – yes, even at 3am – and while the surface may be always transforming, its heart never really changes. Spend a day seeing the sites in Manhattan and another day wandering the heart of global hipsterism in Brooklyn. There's no better time to take a bite out of this pulsating metropolis.
Granted, it’s much smaller than Nice, but Cannes positively gleams on the surface. In fact, there are few city promenades more dazzling than La Croisette. Since British aristocrats rolled in to what was then a tiny fishing village in the 1830s, the place has been fashioning itself in the image of the fashionable. More recently, its real achievement has been to spin out across the whole year the sparkle generated by the world’s most notable film festival.
The land of fire and ice is awash with glaciers, towering volcanoes and geothermal pools. Add to that Reykjavik, its hip capital, and you have a destination that provides not just otherworldly sights but also plenty of culture.