This one’s for all the guys and girls who want something a little bit more off-the-beaten track than your average beach. Hen parties and stag parties these days tend to be over the top but some grooms and brides just want to have a relaxing getaway to keep calm and carry on ahead of their big day. If you think sunbathing in California or Hawaii is too obvious or if you, can’t stand tourists, why not take the road less travelled? There are plenty of secret and unexpected beaches around the world, hidden gems reserved strictly for locals or connoisseurs.
Blijburg aan Zee, the beach in Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Amsterdam is the proud owner of 165 canals, but, did you know it also has an achingly hip beach set on an artificial island in the middle of the city lake? Blijburg aan Zee is the place to be during the summer, with DJs playing day and night, regular art events and lots of beach activities like campfires and sandcastle building competitions making it the real deal. Perfect for a lively hen or stag do that’s pretty close to home.
This funky destination is located in Queens, New York and it’s the only official surfing destination in the Big Apple. It’s a great find if you’re looking for that bohemian beach destination in New York, making it a great addition to the city’s assets. It’s the newest hipster destination, but don’t let that put you off, it has great food and plenty of atmosphere. This is for the cosmopolitan hens who want the best of city break with a bit of beach thrown in.
Spain is a pretty obvious choice for travellers. But, there’s a reason tourists queue to visit Barcelona, Madrid and the Balearic Islands. If you’re in love with the Spanish way of life, but feel tired just thinking of tourists crowding your every move, try Cadaqués. This Catalonian town was an artist resort and inspired brilliant minds, especially surrealist painter Salvador Dali. You can even visit his house or learn more about him at a really good museum dedicated to his genius in Port Lligat, a neighbouring town. Perfect for a stag or hen with an artistic streak.
Tourists in Southern Asia have been known to ignore this beautiful island and choose more popular destinations like Phuket or Koh Samui. Phu Quoc is the largest island in the Gulf of Thailand and it boasts pristine beaches, fascinating reefs and hard–to-forget authentic Vietnamese cuisine. Get it while it’s still fresh and untouched by popular tour guide books. This is a long-haul stag or hen destination that you’ll never forget.
Capo Sant’Andrea, the island within an island in Elba
The Mediterranean island is where Napoleon famously was famously exiled. Fishing villages, ancient castles and green hills are just a few sightseeing gems for you and your friends in Capo Sant’Andrea. If you’re looking for serious beaches and serious partying, then this little island has exactly what you need.
No matter if you’re looking for a city escape or a secret beach on a dream island for your hen or stag party, there are more choices than you’d think. New York, Amsterdam Copenhagen, and Barcelona are just a few cities where local beaches are a perfect destination for an all-boys/all-girls vacation, while splendid islands and fishing towns in Vietnam, Spain, Estonia or Tasmania will give you the perfect holiday without transporting you to Touristville.
Amber Kingsley is a travel writer and has contributed to several travel sites and blogs. She loves spending time at the beach with her puppy Charlie and is always looking for the hidden gems of a city on her travels. She would loves finding out about more secret spots through her readers!
For anyone who loves snowboarding, skiing, and all things off piste, as well as knocking back the Schnapps, putting on ridiculous costumes and dancing on all night, then we want to let you in a little secret: it’s called Snowboming 2014 and it’s happening in Mayrhofen, Austria 7-12 April 2014.
The huge snow sport/music hybrid has just announced its latest headliners who’ll be taking to the snowy stages. The 25 million record selling Prodigy will head the Forest Stage for an awesome adrenaline fuelled night. Joining the party is The Chemical Brothers (DJ set), Chase & Status are bringing their dubstep infused beats, Rudimental will hit the slopes and Groove Armada round out the line up that also includes Four Tet, Daphni and Anthony Naples.
If you still can’t get your head around the idea, let us fill you in: Snowbombing is a festival that focuses on the random. All day the slopes are filled with skiers and boarders of all abilities improving their skills or relaxing at the spa of a 5* hotel.
After night falls, the best musicians and DJs fill unique stages across the mountains, including an igloo on top of the world and an enchanted forest! Snowbombing is heading into its 15th year, so you know it’s doing something right, especially when it gets reviews like: “The Greatest Show on Snow.”
For more info on tickets check out Snowbombing.com. All images courtesy of Snowbombing 2014.
Amazing Floating Hotels Around the World: If you think about it, land has been way over estimated, so, here at Purple Travel, we’ve found the best floating hotels, to stay somewhere really different.
Fab 4 Hotel, Liverpool – If you’ve never sung Yellow Submarine in the shower then, well, you’re lying! Now you can get a step closer to the Fab Four’s favourite floating ferry! It’s all thanks to a British businessman, Alfie Bubbles, who converted this original 25-metre long submarine to a hotel in 2012. Its interiors have been inspired by the 60s; however it features all modern amenities, such as Wi-Fi connection and 3D TV sets.
An overnight at this avant-garde accommodation costs approximately £146.
Salt and Sill, Klädesholmen, Sweden – Salt & Sill hotel is found in the western coast of Sweden and consists of 6 two-storey floating structures. It’s the first floating hotel in Sweden and an exceptional choice for fine dining. Guests can choose among 23 rooms, one of which is a suite featuring a separate platform with sauna.
Prices vary from season to season, but start from 1990 SEK from January to March and October to November.
4 Rivers Floating Lodge, Cambodia – The 4 Rivers Floating Lodge consists of twelve luxurious residencies on the banks of Mekong River and is located in a secluded area of the rainforest. However, all 45m2 rooms feature a Wi-Fi connection, mini bars and flat-screen TVs. This green accommodation offers a water bio-cleaning system and has also been made with eco-friendly materials.
Prices start from USD 203.15 for one person.
Queen Mary Hotel, Long Beach, California – History buffs would surely want to visit the Queen Mary Hotel, which arrive at Long Beach in 1967, after travelling for 37 years in the open sea. It weighs 81237 tones, featuring 314 rooms and suites, as well as 2 bars and 2 restaurants. Watch out, though, the ship is considered to be…haunted!
Shwe Inn The Floating Resort, Myanmar – This floating hotel is unique in Myanmar and opened to the public in 1996, over the tranquil Lake Inle, including traditional retreats and a swimming pool for guests that prefer not to swim in the lake waters. The famous Heya Ywama market is very close by boat, and the staff can arrange canoe cruises and hiking in the surrounding villages.
You’d be forgiven for thinking we’ve gone a bit piggy, what with our bacon beach post, but it seems we’re not alone. Read on for this amazing day out: The Pig Museum Stuttgart. Fun for a couples city break adventure, or just something a bit different (really different, if you ask us!)
The Pig Museum is a surreal collection of over 50,000 exhibits from all over the world to introduce you to the piggiest experience of your life. The SchweineMuseum on Schlachtofstraße 2A, 70188 Stuttgart offers visitors 25 themed rooms to explore featuring all things porcine. There are (stuffed) pigs to cuddle, representation of pigs in the arts as well as the science of pigs, from their anatomy, how little piglets are made as well as the history of the creatures. The kitsch art and culture is sure to win over grown ups, while kids can enjoy the stuffed animals and myths and legends surrounding pigs.
Meanwhile, if all this porky talk is making your mouth water (vegetarians look away now!) then you won’t bat an eyelid at the museum’s setting; in a former slaughterhouse. After exploring the piggery, a huge beer garden awaits, with tasty treats like knuckle of pork, grilled suckling pig and many more pork delicacies.
There’s more information on pricing and how to get to the Pig Museum Germany on their website here.
To make your visit extra special, you’ll be pleased to hear there’s a theme song to bring you through the museum, altogether now:
You may think that when it comes to Halloween, you’ve done the lot – egging the neighbours’ windows, DIY costumes, waking up drunk in a field somewhere, eating yourself sick on sweets – the list goes on. But for the supreme Halloween experience, you need to travel. We’ve compiled this list of the spookiest destinations available to make sure this Halloween is the most memorable of all. Enjoy these halloween holidays from Purple Travel… if you dare!!
Like a scare at bedtime? If things that go bump in the night and strange noises are things that you actually enjoy, then read on for our top 10 most haunted hotels. But, be warned, you’ll be staying here at your peril!
Image via @ Nomadic Lass
Karosta Prison Hotel, Latvia: This recreates that delightful experience of staying behind bars. Not only that, but it is said to be haunted by the ghosts of prisoners past whose footsteps echo the hallways at night.
Hotel Burchianti, Florence, Italy: This might be the most haunted on the list. It’s said that a ghost of a child skips down the corridors, while an apparition of a maid still carries out her cleaning duties in the early hours.
The Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai, India: The late chief engineer of the building is reported to roam the halls of the old wing of the hotel. W A Chambers apparently died of a broken heart, after he found out the palace wasn’t built to his original design.
Castle Leslie, County Monaghan, Ireland: A whole bunch of the Leslie family continue to haunt this 300 year old castle, including young Shane Leslie, who died in a war but returned to watch over the lake. The famous perhaps isn’t a person at all though; it’s a dog called Punch.
Langham Hotel, London, England: This may be a top quality 5 star hotel, but even that can’t stop ghostly carry on. Room 333 is the famous one, with a terrifying reputation. It’s said that zombie type ghosts approach guests with their arms outstretched. No, we don’t fancy that either.
The Stanley Hotel, Colorado, US: Seen The Shining? Did it give you the creeps? Yep, us too. Apparently, the Stanley was the inspiration behind the original Stephen King novel after he stayed there the night before it closed down for the season. The piano in the ballroom plays music, although there’s no one sitting there, while ghosts have appeared in various rooms at night.
Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, Banff, Canada: Lost your room key? Well it’s not so bad here as the vision of a former bellhop Sam Macauley roams the corridors, even going as far as carrying guests’ luggage for them.
Ostrich Inn, Colnbrook, England: This one might put you off hotels for life. The owners installed a secret trap door under the bed in what they said was the best room in the house. It was right above the kitchen. When guests fell asleep, the door would be opened and the bed tilted, so the guest would slide into a cauldron of boiling water. Many of these unfortunate guests still haunt the corridors today to warn current travellers.
Hotel Provincial, New Orleans, USA: The Provincial is haunted by a former soldier; the site was once a military hospital which burned down in 1874. Recordings made in the hotel revealed ghostly sounds, while one female guest said she was dragged from her bed kicking and screaming when she stayed there.
The Roosevelt Hotel, California, USA: If you like your ghosts high profile, there might not be a better choice than the Roosevelt, said to be haunted by the likes of Marilyn Monroe and Montgomery Clift.
Extend your summer or get in early for half term. The kids are back to school and a new (school) year is starting. Why not have something to look forward to, like an autumn tan, a spring in your step and a good injection of vitamin D in some of our favourite half term holiday picks. We take a look at where is hot during half term and what makes a great choice for children of all ages. If you fancy water slide parks, history lessons or just plain, old sandcastles and paddling in the sea, find out where to go with our best value destinations for half term holidays.
Where to spend your half term holidays
1. The Canaries – With an abundance of beaches, scuba diving, family bike rides and fantastic weather, cheap half term holidays in the Canaries are an obvious choice. Why not spend long, lazy days working on a winter tan on a black sandy beach in Tenerife, hike up the side of a volcano in Gran Canaria, or take a glass bottomed boat tour in Playa del Ingles? There is something to suit every type of family in the Canaries. Stay at Barcelo Lanzarote in Costa Teguise which offers adult and children’s swimming pools, playgrounds, kids club, giant monopoly and water slides as well as a spa for mum and dad.
2. Algarve – The Southern area of Portugal is still warm in October and there is plenty for children of all ages to keep busy with. Albufeira is a good family friendly hub, with plenty of child friendly restaurants, a sandy golden beach and nearby water parks. Stay at the Monica Isabel Beach Club in Albufeira, where you’ll find a great welcome, great rooms and great value.
3. Crete – The southern Aegean is ideal in October. Prices have dropped, but temperatures are still high and Crete is a perennial choice for family friendly holidays. Stay at the Knossos Beach Bungalows and Suites, right on a sandy beach, with lots of loungers, umbrellas and children’s activities available.
4. Marrakech – is an exciting, exotic holiday choice all year, but especially good around October. It’s still warm and at only three hours flying time, it’s not too far to get somewhere very exotic. Children and adults can enjoy hiking in the Atlas Mountains, visiting the colourful souks or exploring the Kasbahs. Stay at the Aqua Fun Club – All Inclusive. This 5* accommodation has extensive spa facilities as well as water slides, adult and children only pools, a rafting river and children’s aqua tower.
5. Rome – If you want to get some learning in during the half term break, why not choose a city break in Rome. The weather should still be ok, in the early 20s and you and your children can enjoy seeing the Colosseum and some gladiators up close, head for the Time Elevator Roma (a high tech history lesson made with some very special effects) spark imaginations at the Explora children’s museum and munch on pasta and pizza. Stay at the RSH Spanish Steps Apartments, centrally located near the Trevi Fountain and with plenty of space for all the family after long days exploring the city.
6. Florida – has over 1,000 miles of sandy beaches, is the home of theme parks and has some of the best shopping in the world. Then of course there is Disney World to think of. Meet Mickey Mouse, see the fireworks and parades and generally have the time of your life and a half term holiday you’ll never forget. Stay at the Disney Area Superior Homes for a home away from home experience in Orlando and all the amenities you want within easy reach of the World Disney World Resort.
Tell us your choices for the best half term holidays and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.
Kate Power is community manager for Purple Travel.
Why not book cocktail holidays for you and your other half, your bunch of girlfriends or a stag or hen party. From Cuba to Paris, in spirit (!) of cocktail holidays, Purple Travel discovers some of the world’ most famous cocktails and where they came from…
The Mojito, Cuba
Traditionally made using white rum, sugar, lime, carbonated water and mint muddled together, the Mojito is generally believed to be the world’s first cocktail. Thought to have been drunk as early as the 16th century by pirates and sailors, its origins can be traced back to 16th century Cuba, where the drink was called the “El Draque”, in honour of explorer and sailor, Sir Francis Drake.
The legend goes that the drink was first created as a way of disguising the taste of tafia/aguardiente – a primitive form of rum. The modern name for the drink comes from a Cuban sauce called mojo, made from garlic, olive oil and citrus juice; the drink became known as a cocktail with “a little mojo” or, in Spanish, a “Mojito.”
The Singapore Sling, Singapore
The Singapore Sling was first concocted in – you guessed it – Singapore, made from a mixture of gin, cherry brandy and Benedictine, in equal parts, with a dash of bitters and Cointreau, finished off with pineapple, lime juice and grenadine. While the exact year it was created is not clear, most agree that the cocktail was first produced by a Hainanese-Chinese bartender named Mr. Ngiam Tong Boon at the Raffles Hotel’s Long Bar sometime between 1910 and 1915.
Today, the drink is served on all Singapore Airlines flights. You may have also seen it mentioned in many films and books, including Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, in which Raoul Duke talks about drinking “Singapore Slings with mescal on the side.” You can also order an original Singapore Sling at the Raffles Hotel’s Long Bar, where icons like Rudyard Kipling and others would once sip this famous, fruity cocktail.
The Sidecar, Paris
This classic cocktail that dates back around 100 years is a mix of equal parts brandy or Cognac, Cointreau and lemon juice. The Sidecar is believed to have been first created in Paris sometime during WWI. Harry’s Bar in Paris is the “little bistro” credited as the birthplace of this sweet, yet tangy cocktail, named after the motorcycle sidecar that supposedly carried an American captain to the bar one evening. The captain asked a French bartender for a pre-dinner cocktail that would help ease the chill he had caught outside. The bartender knew brandy would be the best liqueur to take off the chill, but he also refused to serve the traditional after dinner drink alone as a pre-dinner cocktail. The result was the bartender mixed the brandy with Cointreau and added fresh lemon juice to make an appropriate pre-dinner cocktail so the Sidecar was born.
The Pisco Sour, Peru or possibly Chile
The Pisco Sour is made from Pisco (a regional brandy from South America), lemon juice, bitters and egg whites. Many debate whether the origin of this drink is Peruvian or Chilean: In Peru, the creation of the Pisco Sour is attributed to American expatriate Victor “Gringo” Morris at the Morris Bar in Lima; in Chile, it is attributed to the English steward of a sailing ship, which was stopped at the then Peruvian and now Chilean port city of Iquique in 1872.
Whatever the origins of this famous drink, the Pisco Sour has become an iconic cocktail in both countries. In fact, there are even two National Pisco Sour Days (Peru’s in the first Saturday of February and Chile’s is celebrated May 15th) to celebrate this famous cocktail!
White Russian, California
Named for the vodka used in the recipe, rather than the origin, White Russians combine equal parts of cream, vodka and Kahula. In 1961, the Diner’s Club Drink Book, gave a recipe for a “Black Russian” without cream, implying that the same cocktail with cream would therefore be named a White Russian. Today White Russians have inspired a drinking game, in which party-goers try to keep up with The Dude from The Big Lebowski (whose favourtie drink was a White Russian) in their consumption of the cocktail while watching the film itself.
The Manhattan, New York
Known as both “King of Cocktails” and the “Drinking Man’s Cocktail,” The Manhattan is a very potent mix of whiskey, sweet vermouth and bitters, garnished most often with a maraschino cherry.
Regarded as one of the best cocktails ever created, the Manhattan was supposedly first invented at the Manhattan Club in New York City in the early 1870s. Legend has it that the drink was invented for a banquet hosted by Lady Randolph Churchill (Winston Churchill’s mother) in honour of presidential candidate, Samuel J. Tilden. The success of the banquet prompted many people to request the drink by referring to the name of the club where it originated, calling it “the Manhattan cocktail.”
The Mai Tai, California
The tropical Mai Tai is made of a mixture of white and gold rum, pineapple juice, orange and/or lime juice and is of American origin despite its Polynesian name. First created by Victor Buergon, better known as “Trader Vic”, it was called Mai Tai as it was invented in the Polynesian-style restaurant in Oakland, California that bore his name.
Buergon created the first Mai Tai in honour of some friends who were visiting from Tahiti in 1944. As he served the new cocktail to his friends, they cried out, “Maitai roa!” (meaning “very good”), and the cocktail was born.
Tom Collins, New York
While many people assume the drink was named after a real person, there is much debate whether Tom Collins ever actually existed and whether he should be credited to this cocktail of gin, lemon and lime juice and soda water. One popular account involves a hoax that took over New York City in 1874.
A friend would tell you that he had just overheard someone named Tom Collins at a bar nearby saying terrible things about you. You would then race to that bar to confront him, only to be told that Tom Collins had just left for a bar a little further away. When you get there, the mysterious Collins would have decamped yet again for another joint across town. You would then chase him all over the city while your friends are in stictches laughing at you. According to Wall Street Journal columnist and cocktail historian Eric Felten, “It doesn’t take much to imagine how Tom Collins came to be a drink. How many times does someone have to barge into a saloon demanding a Tom Collins before the bartender takes the opportunity to offer him a cocktail so-named?”
Bloody Mary, California
Like the mixture itself, the history behind the Bloody Mary is a bit cloudy. One legend says that the original Bloody Mary, which was made using equal parts tomato juice and vodka and used as a hangover cure, was invented by comedian, songwriter and film producer George Jessel. Jessel claimed he created the drink one morning in Palm Beach during the 50s, as a way to recover from a night spent on the booze. He went as far as to appear in Smirnoff vodka ads declaring, “I, George Jessel invented the Bloody Mary.”
However, Eric Felten writes, “Given Jessel’s knack for self-promotion, many doubted his claim.” Many skeptics favoured a legend involving the head bartender at the St. Regis Hotel in New York named Fernand “Peter” Petriot. Petriot was supposedly serving up Blood Marys under the alias of “Red Snappers” at the hotel’s King Cole Bar from the ‘40s. In reality, the Bloody Mary popular today is in fact a combination of the two men’s creations; Petriot admitted that “George Jessel said he created it, but it was really nothing but vodka and tomato juice when I took it over.” While credit for the original drink goes to Jessel, Petriot wasthe one who added salt, pepper, cayenne and Worcestershire sauce to the concoction, creating the modern Bloody Mary.
The Martini, California
The first Martini was poured sometime between 1862 and 1871 and was called a Martinez, a name to honour the town of Martinez, California, where it was supposedly first dreamed up by bartender Julio Richelieu, proprietor of the eponymous Julio Richelieu Saloon. Today, Martini has become more of a class of drinks than one drink in particular – with variations like Appletinis, Vodka martinis and others becoming popular over the years.
Although the origins of the first Martinez date back to the 1860s, the modern Martini first rose in popularity starting in 1900s during the prohibition period. The Martini then became the drink of choice (or no choice as the case was at the time!) in speakeasies across the country due to the quick accessibility of gin. The modern Vodka Martini, which James Bond enjoys shaken, not stirred, was not created until much later.
Find out where to let loose, let your hair down and go wild in our Purple 10 World’s Best Party Towns. If we’re missing something, head for the comments and let us know what it is and why.
Phuket, Thailand. Thanks to its ‘anything goes’ reputation, Phuket has become a must-stop destination on the backpacker trail. There are cabaret shows, go go bars, Thai boxing and plenty more. Just remember: what happens in Phuket stays in Phuket! Madness level: 8.9.
Las Vegas, USA. Strippers, gambling and a getting totally wasted. No wonder The Hangover was filmed in Las Vegas. If you want to go to crazy partying, this is a city that will go crazy with you. Madness level: 8.
Barcelona, Spain. Get off the famous avenue Las Ramblas and head for the late night parties in the north of the city that don’t start ’til 1am. Stick with the locals who’ll guide you the best clubs of your life. Madness level: 7.1.
Berlin, Germany. Seriously, Berlin is mad. If you’re committed to partying like a maniac, then the hipster capital of the world has leather themed clubs, converted warehouses made for industrial nights out and everything in between. Madness level: 7.8.
Dubai, United Arab Emirates. If you’ve recently won the lottery you might want to head for the gold plated chic of Dubai’s clubs and bars. The city is packed with champagne serving waiters, beautiful people and the most decadent of party experiences. Madness level: 5.9.
Thessaloniki, Greece. Not the most famous, but one of the best on mainland Greece for nightlife, Thessaloniki’s a student city that offers great nightlife all year round, not just in the heady summer months. And, it’s no distance really from the UK. Madness level: 7.1.
Miami, USA. Go to South Beach, relax in plush lounges or party in your bikini for hours on end. The clubs that line Miami’s art-deco streets are made for blinged out clubbing. Just beware: it can add up! Madness level: 8.6.
Ibiza, Spain. It wouldn’t be much of a list of party cities if Ibiza wasn’t included. Despite the high price of drinks and clubs, party animals flock to the island and for party people, it’s a must visit at least once in your life. There are beach parties all day, and the best DJs in the world all night. Madness level: 6.9.
Albufeira, Portugal. Thanks to its dedicated strip of bars and clubs, there are cheap drinks, all night dancing and loads of places to stay boozing all night, Albufeira’s a good, handy choice from the UK for epic partying. Also makes for a great stag or hen do. Madness level: 8.3.
Prague, Czech Republic. Although not quite as cheap as it once was, the free flowing beer of Prague make it a consistently good choice. There are bars, pubs, locals, clubs, kiosks and restaurants, basically anything where you can buy beer they have it. Get detoxed now, so you’ll be ready. Madness level: 8.0.
A beach in the Bahamas dedicated solely to pigs sounds like something from a Pixar movie, doesn’t it? But behold! It’s real. This is Bacon Beach, or Big Major Cay if you want to be serious about it. These pictures slipped across our desk and made us squeal just like little piggies! How did we never hear about this before?