After a British tourist was banned from entering the US for 10 years over a text referring to taking cocaine, here’s everything you need to know about how previous drug offences could affect your travel plans. What happened?Isabella Brazier-Jones travelled to Los Angeles with herRead More »
Staying in London doesn't have to mean splashing out, nor should you have to compromise on quality. Gone are the days of tired hostels: say hello to 22 of the best budget hotels in the capital – priced at less than £150 per night – with everything from rooftop terraces and pools, to comfortable bedrooms and proximity to central London. Locations include Bloomsbury, The City, Shoreditch and Wimbledon.
A couple in their sixties spent the first night of their holiday in Sardinia sleeping in a car beside a beach.Georgina Lewis and Derek Nicholls, from Shropshire, booked a trip to the Italian island with the online travel agent Loveholidays.The couple arrived at Olbia on schedule at 7.45pm on 2 May. They picked up a rental car and arrived an hour later at their booked apartment – only to find a notice saying the reception was closed from 8pm to 9.30am the following morning.Ms Lewis, former director of Wolverhampton Swimming School, said: “We rang the emergency number on the door but got no answer.“We then called the Loveholidays emergency number a couple of times but were told they could not contact anyone.”The company disputes this version of events, saying that Loveholidays was alerted to the issue just before 10pm. An agent contacted the service provider, a “bed bank” called HotelBeds, and called the couple back at 10.15pm to advise that a solution was being sought.Loveholidays said the couple were called again shortly before midnight and were advised to check into an adjacent apartment complex. “The customer advised that they were also going to look for their own accommodation for the evening and we didn’t hear anything back from them,” said the company.Loveholidays also says that a member of its staff made another call at 3.16am “to check on them and advising them to check in to the alternative accommodation for the night but they said they opted to sleep in the car”.Ms Lewis told The Independent: “We were miles from anywhere and all the hotels were shut. There was nowhere open.”The couple parked their small Fiat rental car close to the beach, and tried to sleep. The next morning they returned to the booked apartment only to find that major building work was going on, with pneumatic drills being used.Ms Lewis said: “The lady on reception said that they were not open properly till June.”Eventually, they say, Loveholidays called with a new accommodation option at 4.30pm on day two. They declined it because by then they had made their own arrangements.The company said: “We did not have the opportunity to offer alternative accommodation, at this time, as they advised that they had already checked out and booked alternative accommodation themselves.”Under the Package Travel Regulations, Loveholidays is responsible for delivering the booked holiday – or making suitable alternatives available. The travel firm told the couple on their holiday confirmation: “We do not create or organise package holidays.”But it told The Independent: “Loveholidays can confirm that this booking is covered by the Package Travel Regulations.Regarding the original problem of the apartment complex being closed, the firm said: ”The complaint has been logged and is being investigated with the accommodation supplier.”Loveholidays said: “We will be in touch with Mr Nicholls shortly to find a way to resolve this issue to his satisfaction.”The couple say they were initially offered £15 in compensation, which then rose to £20.
Dubrovnik isn't often associated with luxurious spa breaks – understandable really, since planning restrictions prevent hotels within the medieval fortifications from building new wellness complexes. But there are modern hotels on the Adriatic coast to the south of the Old Town which aren't so hampered – while to the north, on the Lapad peninsula, a number of large resorts offer award-winning wellness facilities. Visitors to Dubrovnik tend to come for the history and culture, certainly, but that doesn't mean forgoing a little pampering too.
Snap, an innovative intercity bus operator, has announced a “temporary pause in operations” while talks with its backers continue.The business model involves using spare capacity from local coach companies to run long-distance services, mainly to and from London.Its slogan promises a trip from “A to B like a VIP” for fares as low as £5, with demand aggregated and trips operated only when there are enough passengers.Passengers register their interest in travelling on a particular route on a specific date on their smartphones.Since Snap began running coaches between Nottingham and London in 2016, it has carried 220,000 passengers.At the end of service on Monday 17 June, services will stop and booked passengers will be given full refunds.The firm’s founder and chief executive, Thomas Ableman, said he hoped operations would resume in SeptemberSince its launch in October 2016, Snap has been financed by venture capital funding markets.It raised additional funds in September 2017. Another investment round, which began in January 2019, has not yet closed.While some individual routes have been “cash positive”, Snap is loss-making as a whole.Mr Ableman said: ”This is not an unusual model for businesses such as Snap that have a central tech development overhead.”“Despite strong support from our largest investor, we still need to close a deal with new co-investors to ensure we have sufficient growth capital for future cities.“Many businesses at this stage would keep quiet, carry on fundraising in the background and not reveal there was a problem until they went bust. That is not the kind of company I have set out to lead.“All our operators will receive full payment for trips run and will be offered payment equal to the profits they would have earned for future contracted trips.”It faced competition from established coach operators, Megabus and National Express, as well as the railways.
I’m standing in a hot, cramped toilet cubicle in Jakarta while a man I’ve just met fiddles with something behind the toilet cistern. Seconds later, the entire back wall swings open and I step into Jakarta’s most popular jazz club.Prohibition Asia is a speakeasy that looks, feels and smells (you can smoke in bars here, and cigars are the indulgence of choice) like a bar Sinatra might have propped up in his heyday. One wall has been covered with a mural depicting a pistol-toting, fedora-wearing wise guy, and the bare bulbs dangling above the bar, with its leather seats and backdrop of artfully exposed brickwork, give the room a golden glow. “We’re going for a 1920s vibe,” says wonderfully dapper food and beverage manager Kenny Riyanto. “This includes the drinks – we’ve got lots of prohibition-era cocktails, such as negronis.”I'm in town for Jakarta’s Java Jazz Festival – an odd concept for a country more famous for its beach parties. But jazz is huge in Indonesia, and the festival celebrated its 15th anniversary this year. The majority of Asia’s best jazz musicians hail from Indonesia. Take Joey Alexander, an Indonesian pianist whose album topped the global jazz charts within a week of its release in 2015 (Joey was 11 at the time), or the late Bubi Chen, regarded as the godfather of Indonesian jazz. He honed his craft with the help of a two-year stint in America under the tutelage of pianist Teddy Wilson, who regularly accompanied Billie Holiday. Why Indonesia? There are various theories. Many claim better access to the internet (Indonesia has always had strict laws relating to censorship of online content) has exposed Indonesian music fans to a wider range of genres than ever before. “We’ve got 34 provinces and each one has its own music style,” says Anwar Sani, whose jazz band is topping the bill at Prohibition Asia tonight. “Indonesians love music, whether it’s blues, rock n’ roll or jazz.” Anwar’s favourite jazz musician is the late Chet Baker, but we bond over a shared love of Brit pop band Suede, while manager Kenny reveals a soft spot for punk band Rancid. Similarly, the packed line up at Java Jazz – there are 11 stages – is nothing if not diverse. Jamie Cullum, Dionne Warwick and Joss Stone have all headlined. But so have Sting and the Goo Goo Dolls – a reminder that organisers are all too aware that tickets to jazz events sell quicker when there’s a more mainstream name chucked into the mix. It’s a tactic used by Prohibition Asia, too, although Kenny admits he gets frustrated with certain requests. “The most common ones are Ed Sheeran and Bruno Mars,” he groans. It’s a careful balancing act. “We have to compromise,” admits Anwar. “We’ll play Bruno Mars if someone requests it, but we’ll mix it up by playing a funked-up or acid jazz version.”Over at the festival site, The Soul Rebels are taking to the stage. This New Orleans-based brass ensemble are known for their mix of jazz, blues and funk, and they’ve collaborated with everyone from Metallica to Green Day and Snoop Dog. Their set is brilliant, and includes jazzed-up versions of hits like Eurythmics’ Sweet Dreams and The Outhere Brothers’ Boom Boom Boom. They’ve played here before and know how to work the audience perfectly, at one point getting them to side-step back and forth in perfect unison. “It always feels like the first show here – the energy’s always amazing,” says snare drummer Lumar Leblanc backstage. “There’s so much appreciation – perhaps because they don’t get as many opportunities to see bands like ours perform live.”Side-stepping neatly back and forth might sound like a strange way to show appreciation, but less so here. Audiences seem more polite and orderly. Maybe it’s the lack of alcohol – Indonesia is a Muslim country, and although alcohol’s available, festival-goers’ beverage of choice seems to be drinks produced by the sponsors. Polystyrene plates of spicy rendang are typically washed down with iced tea from Teh Botol, and milk drinks from Indomilk. Later that evening I head to one of the largest stages to watch Grammy-nominated jazz singer Gretchen Parlato (daughter of Dave Parlato, Frank Zappa’s bassist). Thousands of people fill the venue, although most are sitting cross-legged on the floor in neat lines. I can’t help but feel it must be slightly unnerving for foreign artists. Barring The Soul Rebels, who’ve played here before, the Indonesian acts seem much better at working the audience. The brilliant Saxx in the City, Indonesia’s top saxophone act, are a case in point. “Indonesian fans are slightly more passive,” admits the band’s Nicky Manuputty. “They’ll sit and listen, but in their hearts they’re going absolutely crazy!”And never more so than on the festival’s final night, when I head to the main stage to see American soft rock band Toto strut their stuff. They might not appeal to the thousands of hardcore jazz fans who’ve come to the festival, but for others, they’re the main event, and as a result, thousands more Indonesians have been introduced to the wonderful world of jazz. And there’s something rather surreal – and quite cool – about being in the front row of a Jakartan jazz festival, watching thousands of Indonesians go absolutely bezerk as Toto belts out Rosanna – albeit a jazzed-up version. The entire audience seems to know every song, word for word. This includes the beautiful hijab-wearing woman next to me, who’s happily head-banging away. The late, great Bubi Chen would be proud. Travel essentials Getting thereBritish Airways flies from London Heathrow to Singapore from £447 return. Air Asia flies from Singapore to Jakarta from around £100 return. Staying there Double rooms at the recently-opened Alila Jakarta from £185, B&B. More informationindonesia.travel
From Roman times to the present day, visitors have flocked to Bath to bathe in its natural thermal waters. The most famous spot for wallowing is the Thermae Bath Spa complex, which is open to the general public – but many of Bath's hotels offer their own enticing spas, with indulgent treatments and thermal facilities. Whether located in the city centre or in the surrounding countryside, these are the best spa hotels in Bath.
There’s no off-season in Edinburgh, thanks to its numerous festivals, fringe events and celebrations – not to mention the Michelin-starred restaurants, thriving café culture, and strong arts scene. It's also catnip for families, who come to explore Edinburgh Castle, the Edinburgh Dungeon, the Museum of Childhood, and the Storytelling Centre. Picking the right place to stay is important when travelling with children, so here's our expert's guide to the best family-friendly hotels in Edinburgh – including the top places to stay for family rooms, child-friendly dining, complimentary toys and games, and proximity to the sights and sounds of Scotland's vibrant capital.
Waking up to the sound of the waves crashing onto the shore from your bed is what real luxury is all about – and in Spain it is very easy to make it happen. Choose a romantic boutique bolthole on a cove on the Costa Brava or a cool urban hotel on the endless beaches along the Valencian coast. Or maybe a resort-style complex right by the Mediterranean on the Costa del Sol, where you can have lunch with your feet in the sand. Just slip out of your hotel and into the warm, turquoise sea – whether you want to snorkel, surf or just float the day away. Stay at one of our top beachfront hotels on the Spanish coast to get the full moodlifting effect without even trying.
Bordeaux and Burgundy: the very words have a rich and well-rounded ring to them. Partly, it’s those initial bulbous ‘B’s. Mainly, though, it’s that, for centuries, they have lent a civilised, even spiritual, texture to fleshly pleasures. Lots of places furnish good wine and food. None other does so in the presence of quite so many châteaux and world-class abbeys. Nowhere else is good living so stamped into the DNA, both a product and a locomotive of the past. Nowhere else do you feel that being plump is a duty imposed by history.