Category - Travel Tips

Find all the tips and advice you need with our handy online travel tips, created by the experts. Ensure you have the perfect holiday by reading our advice on how to pack, where to find the best deals and even which suncream to wear – Purple Travel

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Off the beaten track: Getting high (tea) in Amsterdam cafes
2
Football Crazy? Or maybe not.
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Purple Tips: Hidden Shopping Gems Europe
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What to wear on the beach in summer 2012
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Chocolate holidays: Would you go?
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Cool Cocktails
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How to pack your holiday bag like a pro
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Top tips for staying comfortable on your flight
9
PurpleTravelTalks: Don’t leave the seat next to you to chance.
10
Guide to the best value Caribbean holidays

Off the beaten track: Getting high (tea) in Amsterdam cafes

Off the beaten track: Getting high (tea) in Amsterdam cafes

Slowly, slowly the Dutch are beginning to appreciate a good ol’ cuppa. If you’re over the brownies, hate the smoke of the coffee shops and just want to enjoy a proper cup of tea, then let Purple Travel help you out.

True tea rooms are hard to find in this, ahem, coffee focused country. Too often do the Dutch serve up some questionable green concoction in place of your well-deserved PG Tips. While tea in Amsterdam is may seem like the boring option, we can safely say that the below venues are helping to polish tea’s image and finally set it free from its dull reputation.

GREENWOODS
What:
A traditional English tea room offering a selection of Grand cru loose leaf teas from De Eenhorn.
Don’t leave without: Ordering Eggs Benedict, just because you can – Greenwoods are responsible for Amsterdam’s first ever cooked English breakfast.
Best bit:
Greenwoods can provide picnic baskets for customers on request. Either take out on a hired boat for the day or impress a date in one of Amsterdam’s many parks. All freshly made on the day and with a choice to suit your tastes.
Price:
Pot for one is €4,95, pot for two is € 7.95.

TEA BAR
What:
A cute spot in Haarlemmerdijk serving up real deal teas, all arranged in transparent boxes where you can scoop the tea of preference in a little bag.
Don’t leave without: Trying at least three of their 60 flavours, which range from the standard Earl Grey to the spiced grandma’s apple-pie. This place puts England to shame.
Best Bit: The organic cookies to dip in.
Price: Reasonable – but depends on which tea you would like.

English: The Amstel Hotel in Amsterdam, the Ne...

The Amstel Hotel in Amsterdam (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

AMSTEL HOTEL
What: A royal setting to enjoy a proper high tea.
Don’t leave without: Getting a slice of cake too.
Best bit: The beautiful setting, the handmade shrimp croquettes and the excellent explanation provided about each of the teas.
Price: High tea will set you back a small fortune and even just a tea is pretty pricey at €7,50, but you do get a full pot..

HILTON HALF MOON LOUNGE
What: A large, traditional English-style living room that overlooks the Hilton Marina and garden.
Don’t leave without: Giving into the burgers – they’re something else, seriously.
Best bit: Proper tea with actual leaves and large sofas – a perfect place to relax, read or catch up on emails.
Price: It’s the Hilton, need I say more?

Football Crazy? Or maybe not.

Mykonos

Are you football mad? Will you be addicted to every game in Euro 2012, from the initial qualifier to the tense finals? Well, I have a confession to make. Although I will be supporting our team with gusto, thrilled at each goal and disappointed with each miss, I do have a tendency to daydream a little bit. At least I’m being honest about it, right? One of my favourite daydreaming topics is picturing myself on a picture perfect beach, or strolling up the cobbled streets of some historic town, possibly with a cocktail at the ready.

So with that in mind, I thought I’d offer some of the place I’ll be daydreaming about from Friday.. (in between huge cheers, of course!) Read More

Purple Tips: Hidden Shopping Gems Europe

Purple Tips: Hidden Shopping Gems Europe

It takes a special kind of tourist, one with a keen eye, a patient disposition and a thorough approach to research (not to mention an iPhone…), to visit a city and discover the gems that even its locals have no idea about. Anyone can stumble out of the tube at Knightsbridge and find themselves in Harrods and even my grandmother wouldn’t be too hard-pressed to locate one of the better boutiques on the Champs Elysees, but the real challenge, the one that may ultimately reward months of MI6-style investigations with a pair of one-off Chanel sandals, requires a far keener tourist.

Before you read on, be warned. This blog post is not for the faint-hearted, the sun-seeker or the “let’s just have a MacDonalds”-er, this is for the shopper – the real shopper. While the list may be subject to add-ons or removals and is far from a comprehensive European shopping guide, I believe it contains some of the best-kept secrets of my own European travel experiences. Consider it a work in progress and feel free to reveal your own hidden treasure coves. Enjoy…

Copenhagen
As Scandinavia is fast becoming the centre of cool, it is no surprise that first on the list is the Acne Archive store in Copenhagen.  Archive is an Acne outlet store, selling a collection of classics by the offbeat Swedish foursome, as well as some recycled pieces from catwalks and samples. With 50% off all year round and new stock coming every week, it’s actually cheaper for Acne-lovers to fly over to Denmark for their new season wardrobes than it is to purchase the collections full price in their own country.

Athens
Following the philosophy, ‘one woman’s trash is another woman’s treasure’, Bohbo, a contemporary second-hand store in Athens, is an Aladdin’s cave of pristine Chanel, rare Marc Jacobs and well-selected vintage pieces. New items arrive daily, mostly donated from the wealthy, well-heeled women of the nearby Kolonaki neighbourhood, so the choice is continually diverse and fresh, with something on offer for everybody. Expect to find a wide range of unusual pieces alongside fashion classics such as Balenciaga motorcycle handbags and unworn Louboutins. On a recent excavation, I picked up a pair of cork-heeled Chanel Mary-Janes for just €120.

London
A renowned spot for stylists seeking retro designer looks, Bang Bang Clothing Exchange offers a dream mix of impeccably kept ‘I want you’ labels, excellent quality vintage and rare pieces from local designers. A little like New York’s Buffalo Exchange, Bang Bang also allows you to take your own unwanted clothing (as long as it reaches the standard of their stock) and exchange it for others within their store. However, unlike Buffalo, Bang Bang is extremely selective in its stock, meaning only the most pristine and fabulous clothing will be accepted.

Berlin
With so many interesting and unique stores flooding through Berlin at present, it’s impossible to choose just one. However, Darklands, situated in the arty area around Heidestrasse, north of Berlin’s main station, has really thrown itself to the forefront. Currently offering an impressive selection of avant-garde menswear, the shop is nomadic, moving every 15 months or so to a new location in a new area in order to shake off those shoppers whose noses are perpetually stuck into the air (buyers, stylists, anyone who works at Net-a-Porter – this means you). For this reason, the interior of their third instalment (Darklands 3.0) is the antithesis of a high-fashion world; expect life-sized dolls hanging from the ceiling, unsurprisingly dark clobber embellishing the walls, including coveted designer brands such as Damir Doma and Christian Poell and exposed lighting fixtures, all housed within what used to be non-descript, rough warehouse.

Milan
Stepping into Milan’s Cavalli e Nastri is like walking into some wealthy, old lady’s very well-organized designer closet. The petite shop, situated close to Moschino and Armani houses some of the most pristine vintage finery you’ll ever be so lucky to lay eyes upon. Pieces can date back to the late 1800s, but equally may include a 1950s organza prom dress or a pristine beaded flapper, hanging neatly beside a quality ’70s Pucci print. There is row upon row of glass drawers containing colourful stone brooches, earrings, and costume jewellery and a serious handbag collection (think Hermès, Dior, Chanel) in the rear room.

What to wear on the beach in summer 2012

We’ve been going mad for Pinterest lately. It’s a pretty cool site that allows you to create boards of your favourite things. While developing all our beautiful destination boards (check out Cuba and Morocco, our faves) we’ve been getting completely distracted with bikinis, shorts and shads and it got us thinking: what will we be wearing on the beach?

Now, full disclaimer here, we’re no experts but we’ve been doing a lot of reading about what to wear this summer and along with a few old reliables like the handy maxi dress, a cute cardi and some flip flops, we’ve come up with a few extras that will make you want to strut down the beach like the true fashionista you are!

Neon: A neon bikini will definitely get you noticed on the beach. Not for the faint hearted, eye wateringly bright pink, yellow or green are super hot for this summer. However, if you’re a bit scared of this new extra bright, bright, how about a neon manicure for a little pop of colour?

High waisted shorts: We weren’t really convinced by these until we saw some great pictures and realised what a good look it is!

Keep it sporty: Mixing up your workout wear with your beach wear for a change of style. It’s simple because you already have all the ingredients… and Marc Jacobs is doing it!

Crop on: It may not suit everyone to show off your middle in a tiny crop top, but we say if you’ve got it, flaunt it. Crop tops are huge and the best bit is, if you’re not quite brave enough to show everything, layering is another top trend!

Go for the clash: Mixing florals with leopard print or chunky bracelets with sequins for evenings mean you’ll be bang on trend this summer.

Gladiator sandals: An old reliable. We don’t think these bad boys will ever go out of fashion. Any of these would do us nicely!

What about the guys? We haven’t forgotten, we know everyone wants to look good on their hols, so dudes can take some inspiration from the 90s! If you were fashionable once, you can be again.

Now all we need is a cheap holiday deal to parade around in our new fashions!

Ps. our lovely holiday style board has lots more ideas!

Source: goo.gl via PurpleTravel.co.uk on Pinterest Enhanced by Zemanta

Chocolate holidays: Would you go?

Chocolate! We don’t know about you, but we like any way, melted, in bars, egg shaped, hot chocolate, there are chocolate perfumes, chocolate pasta (try it!) and even body creams and moisturisers. We reckon it’s fair to say chocolate is on a lot of people’s minds this weekend in particular with Easter eggs, but, it’s not just now!

This image was selected as a picture of the we...

Did you know there are chocolate holidays? Specific destinations all over the world dedicated to this delicious bean? We’ve done a little research and found some great holiday destinations for all you chocolate lovers, or for anyone looking to impress them.

Read More

Cool Cocktails


One thing that is top of our list every summer is a tropical cocktail on our holidays. We decided to put our heads together to figure out some of the best places to go for cocktails in the sun this year. It’s a tough thing to get that perfect mix of a nicely mixed drink, the right atmosphere, brilliant weather and of course a chatty barman helps!

So, here’s ours, don’t forget to share yours…

Everyone’s heard of sangria right? Well what better place to enjoy a glass of this gorgeous chilled red wine (we know, it sounds a bit odd!) than in the glorious setting of Spain’s Puerto Banus. By adding some red wine, the freshest choice fruit, a little sugar and brandy you have the perfect recipe for a great evening cocktail. It’s the best tipple to get your night started.

After a hard day’s work soaking up the sunshine on the beach, we think a margarita is one of the best ways to unwind in the fantastic resort of Cancun in Mexico. A drop of tequila, triple sec and some lemon or lime juice will quench your thirst and cool you down and the glorious surroundings will make it ten times better.

The Maldives is the place to go to enjoy a simply breathtaking sunset with a mai tai in hand. Marvel as the stars begin to glisten in the sky and relax with the gentle lapping of the waves around you. Even after a few cool cocktails you will not forget your holiday to this amazing archipelago.

There is only one cocktail we could possibly recommend in NYC. You need to find a manhattan in Manhattan. It’s a legendary cocktail for a legendary city. After seeing the Empire State, taking in a show and maybe meeting the locals, there’s no better nightcap in The Big Apple.

Santorini is one of the most romantic of the Greek islands and is home to one of the most legendary sunsets in the world. A caiprinha is our choice, even if it’s not as authentic as ouzo, it has a certain summery charm to it. Grab your other half and head for the highest point you can find in between the blue domed houses and settle in for a serious show.

In Cuba it has to be a mojito and it has to be after a walk along the Malecón in Cuba’s historic capital of Havana. Surround yourself with the unbelievable atmosphere, listen to some Latin tunes and discover your Cuban spirit in this amazing city.

Those are our top choices for a cocktail holiday this summer. As always we want to know what you think. Send your suggestions our way so maybe we can try them out too!

How to pack your holiday bag like a pro

Whether it’s a wheelie suitcase, an over the shoulder or a bunch of plastic bags sellotaped together (ed’s note, we don’t recommend this) it’s hard to get everything you need for a holiday to fit.We all know the feeling of hopping up on and down on the case to make sure it closes and the frustration when it doesn’t. So we’ve got some super tips for anyone jetting off for a bit of sunshine!

We hope you won't have to pack like this!

  1.  Make a list. It’s a good place to start so you can tick off what you’ve packed and know you won’t have forgotten anything.
  2. Be ruthless! You might have been saving up a nice top, or jacket for a special occasion, it doesn’t get any more special than a holiday so if you’re absolutely sure you’ll wear it, bring it. If not, then chuck it. Most people take far too many clothes with them, and you might get the bargain of a lifetime on your holiday!
  3. Roll it up. This is a tip from cabin crew, who, let’s face it; know what they are talking about. Rolling your clothes saves space and stops creasing.
  4. Remember to check your airports rules on flying with liquids and maybe invest in some travel containers. The general rule is liquids of no more than 100ml are allowed in hand luggage and must be placed in a clear plastic bag. Usually you can pick these bags up at the airport. Keep these in an outer pocket of your bag, or with your hand luggage, so you can easily access it going through security. You can always pick up some shampoo and shower gel when you arrive.
  5. Wear a pair of trainers for extra comfiness (yes, we like to make up words around here!) on your flight and pack your flat sandals and wedges/shoes in your case. You can tuck small items like socks inside your shoes to save room and keep them in shape.
  6. If you’re really worried about the weight of your case, you should recheck what you’re bringing, do you really need everything? And weigh your bag to make sure you’re not over the standard 15kg check in limit of most airlines.
  7. Wear your heaviest clothes, e.g. a jumper or coat on the flight for a little extra warmth and to spare room in your bag.
  8. Think layers, a couple of t-shirts you can throw over your bikini, a light cardigan or pashmina for evenings.

Remember, you’re going on holidays! Bring clothes you’re comfy in and enjoy wearing. Now you know how to pack like a pro and you’ll be jetting off to the sun in no time!

Top tips for staying comfortable on your flight

Anyone who has flown before usually has some tricks for staying comfortable and distracted, so we decided to put them all together in one handy place, so you can print them out and have the best flight ever! As always, if you have any more, we’d love to hear them.

So, here goes, as always, we’d love to hear if you have anymore, just add your comment below. 

  1. Drink plenty of water; it’s the only way to keep hydrated in the pressurised atmosphere of a plane. Steer clear of coffee or tea and stick to water to stay feeling tip-top!
  2. Reading material: always bring a couple of magazines or books with you and try to bring more than you think you’ll need. Inevitably there’s a little extra waiting around and there’s nothing worse than staring at the other passengers for excitement (unless that’s what you’re into!)
  3. Bring something to entertain yourself. A great choice is a tablet computer, like an ipad, on which you can watch movies, listen to music, or play games (all with the aid of headphones, so you don’t upset your neighbours!)
  4. Take a little stroll around the cabin; this is quite important especially on longer flights. There are some exercises you can do from your seat, but it’s hard to beat a walk around the cabin and a couple of stretches to make you feel a little better.
  5. Bring a toothbrush! It’s always nice to give yourself a quick refresh and cleanup before landing; it’ll help you feel better and is quite nice for anyone you’re meeting at the other side too.
  6. Don’t check the time! You can’t do anything to get to your destination faster and it will only make you feel a bit frustrated.
PS. We think it’s probably best to steer clear of outfits like the one pictured and don’t do like Joey in Friends when he wore every single item of Chandler’s clothes at once (remember that?)
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PurpleTravelTalks: Don’t leave the seat next to you to chance.

Everyone’s been through it, that awkward moment; you’re stuck on a flight next to a chatterbox, when all you want to do is have a snooze. You do that not-so subtle thing of sticking in your headphones and hope for the best. Well now, a couple of airlines are introducing ‘social seating’ so you can use your Facebook to pick who you’ll sit beside.

We hear airlines like Air France, Malaysia Airline and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines are planning on the move. ‘Social seating’ will enable you to browse the Facebook or LinkedIn profiles of people on your flight and see what you’ve got in common. We think they want you to check out their pictures; see what their interests are and then you can decide if you want to sit next to them.

It will probably be geared a little more to the business audience, people who want to talk management or strategy, but it’s easy to see how it could catch on. So, we’ve been having a little chat about it here and we think it’s definitely got a lot of positives, but what happens if someone you know requests a seat next to you and you’re not exactly thrilled about it?

Maybe you’d be a little more interested in ‘antisocial seating’? An airline called AirAsia is giving customers the option to take up all the seats beside them. For a price you’ll be able to stretch out across three seats or simple ensure the one right beside you is free. You’ll be notified a few hours before – and if there are no spare seats you’ll get a refund.

We’d love to know what you think. Are you a social or antisocial sitter!? Tell us what you reckon in the comments section.

Guide to the best value Caribbean holidays

Summer is still months away and it seems the list of short-haul destinations for winter sun are getting slim. If you still want to get away on a moderate budget, the Caribbean is the best alternative. We’ve narrowed down the most worth-while places to enjoy the best value Caribbean holidays. Light on the wallet but heavy on fun!best value Caribbean holidays from Purple Travel

Dominican Republic – Punta Cana

The fantastic climate, coupled with excellent standard all-inclusive resorts, long sandy beaches, and moderate prices makes the Dominican Republic the destination of choice for a Caribbean holiday. The resort of Punta Cana is on the South-East side of the Island and is home to Bavaro – a stunning stretch of white sand beach leading into turquoise waters. If you’re looking at Dominican as an option, paying a slight premium to stay on this stunning shore as opposed to Puerto Plata is well worth it.

 Cuba – Varadero

This beautiful island is not only the birthplace of the refreshing Mojito – it is the place to be if you’re looking to experience an incredible culture coupled with stunning beaches. Because of the vast size of the island, it is difficult to get to Havana’s gorgeous architecture if you’re staying anywhere other than Varadero. If you don’t want to compromise between a beach getaway of a lifetime and an unforgettable cultural experience, then Varadero is definitely the place for you. The abundance of reasonably-priced all inclusive resorts in this area are sure to delight you.

Jamaica – Negril

Jamaica is the place for lush landscapes, long sandy beaches, and fantastic nightlife. If you want it all, Jamaica is the definite must-see. Negril is the most popular tourist resort in the area. Located on the West Coast, here you will find all the famous Jamaican all-inclusive hotels lined along the 7-mile sandy beach. The abundance of shops, restaurants and bars in Negril are sure to keep every day as action-packed or as lazy as you want.

Mexico – Cancun

Cancun is a favourite destination for the entire family. Couples will love the luxurious all-inclusive hotels in the area, fantastic Mexican cuisine, and the stunning stretches of sandy beach. For the party animals, Cancun has a reputation for some of the liveliest nightlife in the Caribbean, which makes it a favourite spot for North Americans during their school holidays. Your little ones will be entertained by all the organized activities on the beach and the wide array of facilities for children at the hotels. Excursions are also widely available – a favourite being the Mayan Ruins of Chichen Itza, which are well worth the trip.

These destinations rank top for budget and value, but many other Caribbean islands are worth seeing if you can afford the premium price. St. Lucia and Barbados are top choices, as well as St. Maarten, Aruba, the US Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands, Bahamas and Turks & Caicos just to name a few. For more information on the best value Caribbean holidays visit our website or give us a ring on 0207 993 9228.

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