Dakhla is a coastal city on the Atlantic Ocean located 1700 km south of Casablanca, right on the Tropic of Cancer. Its claim to fame is kite-surfing with hundreds of enthusiasts and professionals descending on this small city on a regular basis.
However, if you are not the bucket list type and prefer to go for a relaxing fishing trip rather then risking life and limb flying through the air on a surf board, then Bab Al Bahar hotel (part of the Best Western chain) could be something for you.
It is located in the town itself; right on the bay where you in the morning can hear the waves rolling onto the shore – not the worst kind of a wake-up call.
In the evening, enjoy dinner at the restaurant and dig into those shrimps, oysters, whatever seafood you fancy. If you happen to be there on a Saturday, don’t miss the special seafood buffet dinner, 20 Euros and you are set for the evening. Of course, a nice selection of wine is there to make this an even more enjoyable experience.
Bab Al Bahar hotel is well-known among those who venture to this part of the world. If you get a chance, spend a weekend here, it is definitely worth it.
A stylish Thief
On 9 January, Petter Stordalen‘s luxury design hotel, The Thief, opened its doors in Oslo. It is located in Tjuvholmen, an area known for its contemporary art scene and architecture. But it hasn’t always been such an idyllic part of town. Criminals and prostitutes were executed here during the 18th century and therefore the name of the hotel – ‘”The Thief.” It has 119 rooms (plus a suite) and each one of them have modern artwork by renowned artists such as Sir Peter Blake (who did the classic album cover for the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band), Magne Furuholmen (A-ha) and Albert Merz, just to mention a few. This is a dog-friendly hotel and your pooch will get a true five star welcome with services like dog sitting, dog walking, dog room service, dog menus and treats. The Thief is located next to the popular Aker Brygge with direct access to the Oslo Fjord, so as you can imagine, this must be the perfect summer hangout. We can’t wait to check-in and review this place next time we get a chance to visit Oslo. Have you already stayed in The Thief? Please share your opinion with us.
This week the Wikimedia Foundation takes on the travel industry by launching its new online travel guide, Wikivoyage, a wiki for travelers. It will be a free resource with practical information, hotel and restaurant recommendations (no advertisements) updated by volunteer contributors from around the world. What do you think? Hit or miss? Is there a need for additional online travel guides next to TripAdvisor and Lonely Planet?
Marseille – European Capital of Culture 2013
On 12 January, Marseille-Provence was officially inaugurated as the European Capital of Culture for 2013. During the year there will be hundreds of exhibitions and events focusing on Mediterranean culture, from a contemporary as well as a historical perspective. Are you planning to visit Marseille in 2013?
Guide (in English) about Marseille, practical tips, news and events.
From outside, Le Meridien Hotel in Vienna radiates old-fashioned luxury, along the lines of many other buildings in this city. But once you go inside, you’ll see something completely different.
Le Meridien is ultra-modern and its fashionable design starts in the lobby and continues all the way up to the room. We can guarantee that your stay here will be a completely new experience. Just take a look at the bathroom – it’s an avant-garde masterpiece!
After a long day strolling around various Christmas markets, the fitness center at Le Meridien will definitely get you into the right mood. Unwind in the beautiful SPA, have a nice sauna or why not go for a hot steam bath before getting ready for dinner.
The restaurant and bar are exquisitely decorated and offer some fun fare (we remember that the horseradish ice cream was a killer).
“Luxury has a soul” – should we say more?
All photos are courtesy of Le Meridien Hotel in Vienna.
Hotel de Crillon, located next door to the U.S. Embassy and a stone’s throw away from Champs Elysées, is considered one of the best hotels in the city. Maybe even THE best? Well, the jury is still out, we would say it’s probably between Hotel de Crillon and Hotel George V.
Individual service is one of the main selling points of this hotel. When you arrive, you are seated while doing your check-in (keyword “seated”, you don’t stand in a queue at the reception desk). Makes you feel very comfortable after a long trip.
The standard rooms are smallish but nicely decorated in a baroque style. At your disposal there are several restaurants (the stylish restaurant Les Ambassadeurs and L’Obé, which is more relaxed) where you will encounter some of the best French cuisine. After your meal, you may want to enjoy a late digestive at the piano bar – it is renowned as a major meeting point in Paris among the powerful and famous.
The hotel was built in 1758 and has seen history in the making for over two centuries. During the past decade, it has changed owners several times and, according to the French media, the hotel was bought in 2010 by a member of the Saudi Arabian royal family.
Although it is in excellent shape, a few bits and pieces do look border-line shabby and when we asked the staff about it, we were told that the new owner plans to close it down in 2013 for a major refurbishment.
One can only imagine how Hotel de Crillon will look after it had been thoroughly polished through. Then it just might beat George V.
Sandy beaches, cliff-hanging mountains, desert-like dunes, you find it all in Gran Canaria – a volcanic island in the Atlantic that has been a magnet for tourists for decades. With postcard settings, a climate to kill for and fabulous food this island is simply a must to visit. Interested? Read more about what Gran Canaria has to offer in National Geographic Traveler.
Also check out our hotel and restaurant guide to Gran Canaria.
The 5-star Hotel Splendide Royal in Rome is a member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World and advertises itself as “designed to be royal and luxurious.” We really don’t know what royalty they are talking about but suspect those that have lost all their money gambling and now reside in this hotel that at least has “royal” in its name. We stayed in a suite that was smaller than most standard rooms in an average 5-star hotel. The so-called living room could barely accommodate two people. The bedroom wasn’t much bigger.
The top floor Restaurant Mirabelle boasts of having one Michelin Star. We suspect the Michelin people have not been checking on their client recently. Sure, the view from the 7th floor over Rome is amazing, mesmerizing and the atmosphere romantic. But the food was really below any standards. The pasta was overcooked and the sauce tasteless, the fish a bit chewy. There is no bar downstairs and the one upstairs closes in the evening when the restaurant opens. To call it a bar is probably a bit pushing it since there are only two bar stools and enough space for about 3-4 people to mingle without getting their elbows into each others faces.
Hotel Splendide Royal definitely does not deserve its 5-stars, 4 maybe, if not 3.5. Or it needs a major face-lift to get up to the level it professes it is already.
Next time you get a chance to visit Geneva, the beautiful city on the lake, why not make your stay as comfortable as possible? Check-in at the centrally located Beau Rivage, a five star luxury hotel established and still owned by the Mayer family since 1865.
The hotel is not only luxury, good service and excellent dining but a historical landmark that has witnessed events that have shaped politics over the past two centuries. For example, in 1898, the Empress Élisabeth of Wittelsbach was killed by an anarchist just as she left the hotel; and in 1918 the “birth” of Czechoslovakia was signed on its premises. The atmosphere whispers historical references, many we didn’t know, but were happy to listen to.
Beau Rivage is basically a legend among connoisseurs who come here for the ambience but also the gastronomy offered by the two restaurants – the Le Chat-Botté and Patara (fine Thai cuisine). The bar L’Atrium is known as a top meeting point for local dignitaries and international financiers.
Our stay here was very pleasant. The location next to the Geneva lake is unbeatable and the service at the reception impeccable. The room is well planned and offered everything we could ask for. The only drawback we could find was the WiFi, it was way too slow.
In 2008, Beau Rivage became the first and only luxury hotel in Geneva to get an ISO 9001-200 quality certificate from the International Organization for Standardization. In 2009, it became a member of the Leading Hotels of the World. Not bad, not bad at all.
Summer has arrived and some of us might be scratching our heads while trying to come up with a last minute vacation plan. If you then decide to spend your summer holiday in a five star resort in the south of Gran Canaria (Maspalomas/Meloneras) we have created a list of the five best hotels this area can offer.
1. Seaside Grand Hotel Residencia
In our view, the best resort in Gran Canaria. It’s luxurious and offers everything imaginable for the picky traveller. The hotel is quiet but yet centrally located near numerous bars and restaurants. Be aware though, Grand Hotel Residencia is very pricey and you better hurry booking since it might be tough getting a room on such short notice.
2. Lopesan Villa Del Conde Resort and Thalasso
Big, boisterous, lots of things to do, several pools, fantastic spa, restaurants, bars…you name it. On top of that, every evening you will be offered various entertainment at the outdoor stage located in the picturesque hotel courtyard. Rather expensive but a great place that definitely will satisfy the entire family.
3. Lopesan Baobab Resort
A family paradise with plenty of entertainment for kids.The food is excellent and you have a pick of several restaurants to eat. Prices are relatively reasonable. We would not, though, recommend this hotel for a romantic or lazy holiday since there is a big risk you wouldn’t appreciate being overwhelmed by kids playing football in the hotel corridor in the early morning hours!! (yep, it happened to us).
4. Sheraton Salobre Golf Resort and Spa
If you are into golf, this is your best bet. Located in the mountains a bit outside Maspalomas, Salobre Golf has one of the most picturesque courses on the island. The Resort offers several restaurants and pool areas (don’t miss the roof top pool with an extraordinary view). One big drawback though: Maspalomas town and the ocean are a 10 minutes taxi/bus ride away.
5. H10 Playa Meloneras Palace
With a nice and quite location and plenty of entertainment in the evening this hotel is perfect for the family. It is not the most luxurious but definitely the most affordable 5-star hotel in the Maspalomas area.
For more information about Gran Canaria, photos, hotel and restaurant reviews, check out our free e-guide.
Hotel Santa Catalina is considered the best hotel in Las Palmas (Gran Canaria) and all major dignitaries usually stay here. It offers 202 rooms decorated in a beautiful old Spanish style and the junior suites are very spacious. The ones at the lower levels have huge terraces overlooking a park.
The hotel has one buffet restaurant and one a la carte restaurant (nicely located at the terrace next to the main entrance) and one bar. We stayed in this hotel several times and generally had a very pleasant experience. It has a historic feeling that is compelling, especially compared to the super modern five star hotel complexes in Maspalomas and Meloneras. The breakfast is nice but you are better off having lunch or dinner somewhere else. Restaurant Segundo Muelle located next door is the best choice in our view; they serve exquisite food in a trendy atmosphere.
There is an OK-ish pool, pretty small for a five star but functional enough and there is also a spa (unfortunately we never checked it out since it looked quite old). The location is fabulous, you are next to the Yacht Harbor with many restaurants and bars and downtown shopping is only a few minutes away. Hotel Santa Catalina is a nice place to spend a weekend but would not be our first choice for a week-long holiday. The hotel has a pleasant atmosphere but is in need of some renovation to remain number one in Las Palmas.
A Luxury Collection Hotel in Vienna, Bristol has opened its doors to heads of state, composers, rock stars and, of course, since it is located across the street from the Vienna Opera, to plenty of opera celebrities. This historical landmark dazzles with its opulence, grandeur and charm. The staircase looks like it came from a palace and the luxurious lobby is a wonderful place to have a tete-à-tete (sorry, l’accent circonflexe missing) or to savor a drink before going to the Opera (as many do).
The rooms are not very large but spacious enough and offer all the amenities one would expect from a 5 star hotel.
Restaurant Korso is well known in the city as a gourmet’s delight and don’t miss the bar downstairs which is one of the most elegant in Vienna. Over a glass of some gorgeous Austrian wine try their smoked salmon; it will probably be one of your better meals.
The staff at the hotel are of the old school type: proper, efficient, and non-intrusive. If craving for that ticket to the Opera, the concierge is the one to talk to, they can do amazing things.
The location of Bristol is about as good as it gets, steps away from many historical sites that Vienna is famous for and close to some awesome shopping, be it for luxury goods or the usual tourist trinkets.
There are very few hotels in the world that are as good as Hotel Bristol so don’t miss your chance to try it out. Many A-list types would vouch that you can’t find it much better.