In this weekly series, we scour the world in search of the most weird and wonderful hotels. From cave hotels to converted prisons, capsule pods to underwater guestrooms, you can expect only the unexpected. This week, we find out what is Glamping at the Canonici di san Marco.
What’s the gimmick? Ever heard of glamping? Glamping, made famous in The Only Way is Essex series, is glamorous camping a.k.a. all the fun and closeness to nature that camping offers without the worry of creepy crawlies, endless days without a shower and not so endless rolls of toilet paper. Cononici di san Marco in Venice offers a series of beautiful camping lodges, situated in 15,000 square metres of parkland.
Why stay? Each Lodge sleeps 2-6 guests, with a a spacious bedroom and a lounge area. Stay to enjoy beautiful 360 degree views over wheat fields, with enthralling countryside, native trees and stupendous flower displays at your doorstep. Here you will feel immersed in nature without having to give up modern comforts. Aside from the experience, the Lodges, created on a raised wooden floor, are ideally located for a day packed with adventure in Venice or the nearby cities of Padua and Treviso. Your holiday here can be a cultural, social, gastronomic or sporting stay – the choice is entirely up to you.
The Wow Factor: Inside the Lodges you will find soap necklaces from perfumed Provence, candelabras and candles for romantic moonlit moments, crystal champagne flutes and DOC Prosecco wine. Swap uncomfortable sleeping bags for charming four-poster beds with white tulle mosquito nets and colonial style fans. Forget tents and enjoy stunning antique sofas and armchairs that once graced the houses of Italian grandparents, now transformed into original and unique seats. And most importantly, instead of smelling like a farmyard animal, enjoy long, hot soaks in big bathtubs from England, transformed into modern shower fittings with antique cast-iron heaters.
Here’s our idea of heaven: powder soft, pure white, sandy beaches, never having to lift a finger as you’re brought cocktail after cocktail directly to your hammock. Long days of doing nothing except slapping on that bit of sun cream and watching your tan creep up on you. Palm trees swaying in the breeze and coconut milk served fresh from the tree. Hey, wake up! Sorry, we thought you might have been daydreaming like we do when we start to think of Koh Samui holidays
Beaches of Koh Samui
Primarily, people travel to Koh Samui for its legendary beaches. There are busy ones, quiet ones, water sports and relaxation, beach bars and epic parties, and beautiful people. All in a days’ work for Thai beaches really.
Laem Yai A quiet, secluded beach, perfect for couples or anyone just looking for a bit of peace and quiet.
Mae Nam A very beautiful, quiet and relaxed beach, perfect if you’re on a Christmas break on the island and really want that get-away-from-it-all kind experience.
BoPhut Otherwise known as the fisherman’s village, a great place to simply relax, and watch the world go by. But, go quickly! As this is becoming a firm favourite with tourists.
Chaweng This is the biggest and busiest beach on the island. You’ll find every type of life here from knackered looking backpackers, to luxury travellers in designer bikinis.
Lamai This is the island’s second beach, you’ll find a few more backpackers here than in other parts.
Bang Rak Home of the Big Buddha, it’s in a great location for hopping on a speedboat over to Had Rin on neighbouring island Koh Pha Ngan for the utterly legendary Full Moon Parties.
Click here to read more about family friendly beaches in Crete.
Things to do
Koh Samui with the kids Of all the Thai islands, Koh Samui is one of the most family friendly choices but there are still plenty of things to consider, pavements aren’t very pram friendly and high chairs aren’t readily available. Thai food is quite spicy, but there are generally child friendly options and childcare might not be available everywhere but locals definitely dote on children. We suggest sticking to the international style beach resorts for your own comfort and that of your little ones. There is plenty that kids will love and Bo Phut and Mae Nam are a great choice for travelling with youngsters.
A night of boxing Thai or Muay boxing is the national sport and the stadium near the Reggae Pub in Chaweng is at the centre of the action. The matches kick off (pun intended) around 9 and go on ‘til midnight. This is the real thing too, a noisy, exciting, hardcore night out.
Check out the creepy crawlies The Samui Butterfly Garden and Insect museum is a fun day out. You’ll find butterflies up to 25cms in length, while the insect museum has lots of different species and rare bugs as well as a bee house.
Sunset Snorkel Or morning snorkel or afternoon, anytime really. The diving here is wonderful, because the beaches are beautiful, the water is crystal clear and you can dive practically all year round.
Make friends with Nelly A jungle trip on an elephant’s back is a joy. The elephant is Thailand’s national animal, and Samui’s tropical rainforest centre makes it the obvious choice for exploring on this mighty animal’s back.
Party If partying is your thing, then there is possibly no better place in the whole world than Thailand. Head for Chaweng, the busiest and most party-centric beach on the island. Green Mango Square (named after the Green Mango club!) is just a couple of minutes from the beach and it’s filled with eye opening shows, featuring dancers in all stages of dress, there are booming sound systems, cocktails and hundreds of serious partying travellers. Join up with friends (or make new ones) in one of the many bars.
Full moon party Another option for those with partying in mind is to head for Bang Rak and hop on a speedboat for one of those Full Moon parties. There are bucket parties, dancing beaches and lots of health and safety issues to take note of. On big nights, like New Years, it draws up to 30,000 revellers. It tends to kick off with the bucket party. Each one is filled with some spirits and a handful of straws. That will give you a bit of an idea of what’s in store…
Na Muang Waterfall the spectacular pair of cascades are found a little inland from Nathon Bay and nicknamed the ‘Purple Waterfalls’ (so of course we’d love them!) They are named after the purple shade of their rock faces, if you go there, we want a picture!!
Mummy Monk In Lamai Beach, you’ll find the Mummified Monk, who died in the 70s in a seated position. Ever since his body’s been on display and even after 30 years shows little sign of deterioration.
Grandmother and Grandfather Rocks (pictured above) Ahem, these are a little on the risqué side, but obviously that’s what people are into, as these cheeky rock formations are one of the biggest attractions on the island. Just ask a local about the legend of the rocks that resemble male and female bits.
Where to stay
LuxuryMelati Beach Resort and Spa, Bophut: On a secluded beach, you’ll find this luxurious 5* resort, with outdoor baths, private pools and all sorts of food and drinks option. It has its own spa and the seafood and BBQ at the on-site restaurant are to die for.
FamiliesCocopalm Beach Resort: In Mae Nam Beach the Cocopalm is a far from the crowds of Chaweng, but still has plenty to keep kids busy. They’ll love the colourful surroundings and the quiet beach is ideal for building sandcastles.
CouplesDara Samui Beach Resort and Spa Villa: Think canopy draped beds, with luxurious traditional surroundings and a modern twist, that’s what you’ll get at this romantic 4*. This little slice of paradise is the place to go for a couples’ pamper session with excellent service and great facilities so you can do as much or as little as you like.
PartyingBeach Republic, Lamai: This is where the beautiful people go to party on Koh Samui. A really unique hotel, the Beach Republic is well equipped with entertaining people and prides itself on its ‘sexy, sophisticated and cosmopolitan’ atmosphere.
Click here to find more hotels in Thailand from Purple Travel.
In this weekly series, we scour the world in search of the most weird and wonderful hotels. From cave hotels to converted prisons, capsule pods to underwater guestrooms, you can expect only the unexpected. This week, we’re not even joking, this is a hotel in the shape of a giant human intestine. We hope you’re sitting comfortable for the CasAnus in Belgium.
What’s the gimmick? Well it’s pretty evident on first glance what the gimmick is. This is less a hotel and more a giant sculpture of a human intestine that someone just happens to have dumped a bed inside. Created by artist, Joep Van Lieshout, the ‘hotel’ is situated within the Verbeke Sculpture Park in Belgium.
Why stay? If you’re looking for luxury, do not stay here. However, if you looking for an unusual night to remember, it doesn’t get much more memorable than this.What sets Hotel Casanus Belgium apart is the sculpture park; there are some amazing creations to look at when you wake up and you’ll likely never overnight in anything like this again.
The Wow Factor: The exhibition space does not aim to be an oasis. It is, according to the creators, “unfinished, in motion, unpolished, contradictory, untidy, complex, inharmonious, living and unmonumental, like the world outside of the museum walls.” Although you will find no lavish fixtures here, you will enjoy a “refreshing, unpretentious place to look at art and a subtle criticism of the art world”. And just in case you were wondering, there is a clean, comfortable double bed, an electric point, heater, shower and of course – a toilet.
Not content with being both the capital of the Parish of St. James and Jamaica’s second city, the Bay is also the island’s capital of tourism. From spring-breakers that descend each year for bouts of ritualized raucousness to homing Jamaica’s busiest airport and cruise-ship port – it’s no surprise that Montego Bay Jamaica has a steady stream of visitors. And with so much to see and do, narrowing it all down into one travel guide is no mean feat. We’ve selected our top picks – the best beaches, the most interesting areas, the most delicious places to eat and the most fun things to do. Enjoy…
Montego Bay Jamaica Travel Guide
Beaches in Montego Bay Jamaica
Jamaica is defined by its pristine sandy shores, and some of its best are in ‘MoBay’, as the locals call the area. A particularly renowned spot is Doctor’s Cave Beach, named so because it was once owned by a doctor who donated it to a local swimming club. Although there is a small entrance fee, it’s well worth it, as the quiet sands are perfect relaxing. However the nearby water sports facilities, eateries and golf courses mean the beach suits the more active of travellers equally.
Where to go in Montego Bay
Gloucester Ave Known as the ‘hip strip’, most of the hotels, restaurants, bars and souvenir shops of Montego Bay line this parade. The strip runs parallel to the beach and boasts some of the best eating options on the island.
Downtown Centred on pedestrian Sam Sharpe Sq, Downtown fans out over a grid, its cobbled roads reach competing storefronts, ridden by pushcart peddlers who seem to appear out of thin air on every corner. Downtown is a breath of fresh air from trinket tourist streets, featuring a selection of decaying Georgian buildings and the excellent Museum of St James, which bears poignant testament to the city’s brutal slave history.
Montego Freeport Aside from being one of Montego Bay’s main shopping ports, Freeport built in the 1960s, consists of five primary berths – two of which are dedicated exclusively for cruise shipping – making it a great photo spot.
Things to do in Montego Bay
Rose Hall Great House Rose Hall has an incredible past. The Great House was once the home of the notoriously evil Annie Palmer, the ‘White Witch of Rose Hall’, who murdered three husbands and terrorised her slaves. Two U.S. entrepreneurs, John and Michele Rollins, restored the building to its original glory, complete with period furnishings and lavish decor. Upon visiting, expect to get your bloog chilled as charming Jamaican hostesses tell tales of the evil Annie. There’s no need to fear though – a walk in the beautiful gardens is certain to restore your equilibrium. And if it doesn’t – head to Annie’s Pub in the dungeon of the Great House for something a little stronger to calm your nerves.
Aquasol Theme Park Situated on Walter Fletcher beach, Aquasol theme park offers a go-kart track with 10 Honda bumper carts, plenty of water sports (including kayaking, parasailing, banana boating and glass bottom boating) and sporting activities such as trampolines, wave runners, beach volleyball and two professional tennis courts. For when you get a bit peckish, The Voyage sports bar and restaurant serves excellent food, in front of 42 big-screen TV’s for sporting events, pool tables, slot machines and many other games.
Dunn River Falls While it’s entirely possible to fritter all of your time away on the beach, Jamiaca offers so much more than that. Dunn River Falls is a place where the fresh rain water cascades down stone terraces that cut right through the dense Jamaican rainforest and empties out into the Caribbean. Located between Ocho Rios and Montego Bay, this sublime spectacle puts the beach to shame. Not only can you see the beauty of the falls, but you can also climb up the cascading water from the beach below. From Montego Bay there are several tours available, but the least expensive option is to take one of the shared mini buses that drop you off right in front of the entrance. It takes about an hour and half each way for just a couple of quid.
Where to eat in Montego Bay
Whether you’re looking for authentic Jamaican cuisine, something British or even a curry – Montego Bay has it all in terms of restaurants. There’sThe Houseboat Grill, situated in the calm waters of the Montego Bay Marine Park Fish Sanctuary. This unusual floating restaurant offers a unique setting for an intimate, one of a kind dining experience and some of the freshest fish in Jamaica. Or, Day O Plantation Restaurant, located in the lush tropical hills of Montego Bay City, is surrounded by a colourful tropical garden. Here you can sample the finest in Jamaican and foreign cuisine, all within elegant Jamaican splendour. Or, why not head to the Hip Strip to a local and tourist favourite alike, The Pelican Restaurant (no website). Well- known as one of Montego Bay’s best places to find mouth-watering Jamaican cuisine, their menu features classic Jamaican specialties like steamed red snapper with okras and bammy, ackee and salted codfish with boiled green bananas, yam and fried Johnny cakes.
Book a cheap holiday to Montego Bay Jamaica with Purple Travel (ABTA member) by calling us on our free hotline 0207 993 9228.
Make the most of your holiday with our Marrakech Travel Guide. Everything you should see, do, experience and stay in one handy place! Enjoy the Purple Travel Marrakech Travel Guide.
It might seem like an exotic, bustling place to go and, well, it is! But Marrakech is a lot more than that. The Moroccan city makes an amazing autumn holiday and here’s why: it’s got fantastic weather, great atmosphere and lots of budget friendly options and it’s just over three hours away. You’ll feel like you’re worlds apart after just a couple of hours.
The iconic city of Marrakech dates back to the 11th century. It probably looks a bit familiar since it’s been used as a backdrop for tonnes of movies like Raiders of the Lost Ark and even an episode of the Apprentice, while it’s become intertwined with The Rolling Stones who fell in love with the ‘anything goes’ atmosphere in the 60s.
In this weekly series, we scour the world in search of the most weird and wonderful hotels. From cave hotels to converted prisons, capsule pods to underwater guestrooms, you can expect only the unexpected. This week, enjoy a Night Less Ordinary Roar and Snore in Sydney, where you sleep in a zoo.
What’s the gimmick? Fancy waking up next to a lion? At Roar and Snore in Sydney’s Taronga Zoo, guests can do just that. Find yourself sleeping in one of the architecturally designed tents, with views of the Sydney harbour to one side and lions, snow leopards and meerkats on the other.
Why stay? For animal enthusiasts, it doesn’t get much better than waking up to the roar of a lion or an elephant trumpeting as you prepare to experience the Zoo before the crowds. Feed a giraffe or pat a seal as you go behind the scenes to learn the secrets of this famous and fascinating Zoo. And if that wasn’t enough, experience sunrise at one of the world’s most famous views from one of the best possible positions to see it.
The Wow Factor: Your incredible overnight Zoo experience begins with refreshments on arrival, followed by an opportunity to get up close and personal with some of the Zoo’s most friendly creatures. After a buffet dinner you hike through the zoo on a night zoo safari led by a zoo educator, where you can see the animals relax after their daylight duties. Then settle in for the night in a cosy, fully-furnished tent.
Price includes guided night Zoo Safari, tent accommodation, dinner, refreshments, breakfast, two back of house tours and admission to the zoo the following day. Prices start from $436.50AUD for one adult and one child. Click here for details.
With its traditional fishing villages, exclusive five-star resorts and lush vegetation, Christ Church Barbados blends the exotic with the familiar. Known as the Little England of the Caribbean, Barbados is an island that prides itself on its British customs and yet can’t help but embody the authentic spirit of the Caribbean.
When to go to Barbados
Barbados has a tropical climate, meaning it’s hot and sunny all year-round. The best time to go however, is between December and May when there’s less humidity and rainfall.
Beaches in Christ Church Barbados
The beaches around Christ Church are the chief reason why this area of Barbados sees such soaring numbers of tourists. Snorkelling, surfing and windsurfing opportunities are infinite, particularly at Dover Beach due to its favourable conditions for body boarding. Rockley Beach, with its tropical palm trees, comfortable sun loungers and good choice of local shops is another favourite. Enterprise Beach, frequently referred to as Miami, is a sandy spot that’s very much favoured with the locals due to its sheltered setting, crystal clear waters and calm waves. Windsurfers should head to Silver Sands, widely considered to be the best place to windsurf spot on Barbados. Tropical Bottom Bay is lined with mature coconut palms and boasts outstanding views of the shore. Unfortunately, swimming is not recommended here as the waves can be strong. Close to Christ Church is Crane Beach, a remarkably beautiful spot, which deservedly ranks amongst the world’s most acclaimed beaches. Crane, which takes its name from the large crane that was once located here to load and unload ships, plays home to an historic cliff-top hotel that dates back to 1867 – an excellent photo opportunity. The New York Times says, “A wave can travel nearly three thousand miles in the open ocean, undisturbed by sandbars, reefs or land, before it breaks here — on an unlikely little island shaped like a teardrop, off the radar of all but the most devoted surfers.”
What to see on the island
Apart from the beaches and water sports of Barbados Resorts like Christ Church, there are some excellent tourist attractions, especially those concentrated around the lively Saint Lawrence Gap area. Here’s our pick of the best:
OISTINS FISH MARKET
Oistins Fish Market is a must-see attraction in Christ Church. Watch fisherman hauling in their daily catch and barter for some of the freshest, most delicious fish you will ever eat. Visit on a Friday or Saturday night to take part in the community fish fry, where you will enjoy the live Caribbean music, friendly atmosphere and a feast of grilled barracuda, dolphin fish, flying fish, marlin, snapper and tuna – to name but a few.
ST JOHN’S CHURCH
St John’s Church, on Hackleton’s Cliff, is not only one of the loveliest churches on Barbados, but it is also the burial place of Ferdinando Paleologus, last member of a family descended from ancient Greek royalty, who was a warden of the church and died in 1665.
GARRISON SAVANNAH HORSE RACING
A day at the races feels entirely different when sipping coconut water, tasting authentic Bajan cuisine, and basking in the Caribbean sun. “I hate horse-racing myself, but the atmosphere is great,” notes one Virtualtourist reviewer, “there are stalls selling Bajan food, parades, all sorts of activities, crafts stalls, etc. and the Bajans make a fun day of it.”
Located a little further away from the coast are some excellent attractions: the botanic gardens; a couple of nature reserves, including the wetlands of the Graeme Hall Swamp, which have attracted more than 160 species of bird, including some beautiful pink flamingos. In the middle of the island is Welchman Hall Gully, a kilometre-long walking trail through a sheltered and shaded ravine which hosts 200 flowering plants.
Holders Season is how the smart kids gets their cultural fix; held at Holders, a plantation house owned by Johnny and Wendy Kidd (parents of Jodie), this art and music festival is a glam event that presents the best of the island.
BAJAN ROOTS AND RHYTHM
This EXCELLENT dinner theatre takes place in the heart of the lively St. Lawrence Gap area of Christ Church. Staged at the Plantation Garden Theatre, this production showcases the culture and traditions of Barbados. Performers at ‘Bajan Roots and Rhythm’ don spectacular costumes, and a buffet and drinks are included in the price of admission.
Where to eat in Christ Church Barbados
St Lawrence Gap, Christ Church, Barbados (00 1 246 435 6564; www.piscesbarbados.com). A beautiful restaurant overlooking the sea. Good blackened fish and friendly service.
Overlooking the sweeping view of pretty Miami Beach, Café Luna offers alfresco dining on top of the Mediterranean-style Little Arches Hotel. This is spectacular at lunchtime and magical in the moonlight, serving up contemporary favourites from around the world, including fresh Scottish salmon grilled to perfection, oven-roasted New Zealand rack of lamb, fresh seafood bouillabaisse, and local chicken breast with mango chutney. Sushi is a specialty on Thursday and Friday nights; on Saturday night, a champagne and lobster option enhances the regular menu.
In this weekly series, we scour the world in search of the most weird and wonderful hotels. From cave hotels to converted prisons, capsule pods to underwater guestrooms, you can expect only the unexpected. This week, Huettenpalast in Berlin.
What’s the gimmick? Situated inNeukölln, Berlin, Huettenpalast is a former vacuum-cleaner factory floor, where you can spend the night in an old caravan or a wooden hut. It’s camping, but without the mud, much and yuck of pitching a tent in a field. Instead, guests sleep in a renovated caravan or cabin, inside the building, and share a living room with other guests.
Why stay? For that summer feeling of camping all year round – even in winter – and a little bit of retro-happiness. Whether you crave numerous amenities, interesting design or just a cheap bed to crash on, Huettenpalast will deliver.
The Wow Factor: The sunny campsite contains a center dining area where little baggies of croissants, apples, and drinks are hung on a painted tree for breakfast each morning. Just outside the warehouse’s glass doors is a garden patio where guests can lounge on the hammock, and mingle with other ‘campers’. This cosy, original, eco-friendly and most importantly, cheap hotel, is the perfect base to wander around a district once called “little Istanbul” and now spotted by the New York Times as “one of the most creative places” in Berlin.
In this semi-weekly series, we scour the world in search of the most weird and wonderful hotels. From cave hotels to converted prisons, capsule pods to underwater guestrooms, you can expect only the unexpected. This week, go back in time at the Nevada City Hotel.
What’s the gimmick? Located just one mile west of Virginia City, the Nevada City Hotel began life as a stage stop in the 1860s. Today, the stage station is the front portion of the hotel, while the back is comprised of buildings from Yellowstone Park.
Why stay? The hotel itself is a two-story log cabin with a sitting parlour and cowboy-style saloon in the main lobby with a full espresso bar. Period antiques and knotty pine emphasise the western décor, creating the feeling of stepping back in time. Stay here to immerse yourself in late 1800s cowboy land – you’re sure to have a rootin’ tootin’ good time.
The Wow Factor: There are 10 guest rooms in the cabin, but for a little more cash, guests can stay in one of the authentic Victorian suites, which feature 1860s Victorian antiques, polished burlwood furniture, balconies and private baths.
‘Museum’ probably isn’t the perfect word for the combination of art and nature you’ll find just off the Cancun coast. Holidays here are of course the stuff dreams are made of and for something really special we love a day at Mexico’s Underwater Sculpture Park. Sculptor Jason de Caires Taylor has installed hundreds of natural clay statues that will act as a reef to encourage coral and sealife growth.
The Cancun Underwater Museum acts as a restoration project, the statues have been built as artificial reefs to attract marine life and improve the natural reef that’s been damaged over the years. The displays are perfectly placed to attract glass bottomed boats, divers and snorkelers. Now 450 permanent life size sculptures make up one of the most ambitious and attractive underwater art works in the world.
Here are some of our favourites:
Man on Fire: This eerie sculpture was one of the first installed in 2009. It’s been cut with 75 holes, to allow fast growing fire coral to thrive. As the coral grows it will begin to bloom red, hence the name Man on Fire. It’s actually been cast from a local fisherman named Joachim and is meant to reflect the current world environmental situation.
The Banker: The meaning of this one is fairly clear cut. A suited man has his head buried in the sand. What’s that phrase, a picture paints a thousand words? Well this sculpture paints a lot more. It symbolizes the current economic crisis and the accountability of banking institutions. The sculpture itself is made for crustaceans and young fish to grow and breed.
The Silent Evolution: In the shape of an eye and the newest addition, this is an underwater village of hundreds of life size sculptures, all cast from local people. The silent museum takes you up, close and personal to view art in a way you may never have imagine. Like the others they’re made from special PH neutral clay to promote coral growth and life.
For more information visit the Aqua World Cancun website. You can find regular diving trips, including for beginners or certified.