PurpleTravel.co.uk wants to find you a cheap holiday that you’ll never forget. Check out our top 10 best free attractions in the world before you decide on your next break away.
1. Kensington High Street Roof Gardens, London – It’s the biggest roof garden in Europe and is home to three different themed gardens, Spanish, Tudor style, English garden. What’s not to like? Image via @ Arripay
2. Park Guell, Barcelona – The lively Catalan city’s park is a feast for the eyes, with coloured lizards, tiled walkways and Gaudi’s inimitable style everywhere to see.
4. St Peter’s Basilica, The Vatican – The symbol of the Pope and one of the holiest sites for Catholics across the world, St Peter’s is also home to some of the most breathtaking collections of art in the world with works by Michealangelo. Image via @ RandyOHC.
5. Smithsonian, WashingtonDC – The biggest museum complex in the world, this is a whopper – with 19 museums, a National Zoo and nine research centres. Image via @ Wikicommons.
6. USCapitol, WashingtonDC – Visitors can wander around the impressive outdoor area of the Capitol and admire the iconic façade of the building. Image via @ Wikicommons.
7. NotreDameCathedral, Paris – One of the most well known buildings in the world, Notre Dame Cathedral is a miracle of architecture right in the centre of Paris. Image via @ Wikicommons.
8. The Grand Bazaar, Istanbul – It’s one of the biggest covered bazaars in the world with 58 alleys and more than 4.000 shops. That’s definitely where you’ll find a bargain! Image via @ Wikicommons.
9. Central Park, New York – Spring, summer, autumn or winter, Central Park is a delight for the senses, and an escape from the (sometimes) high prices of the Big Apple. Image via @ Wikicommons.
10. Symphony of Lights, Hong Kong – A huge light show offers a stunning backdrop to the city every single night. Grab a good place to watch it and soak up the colours, lasers and atmosphere. Image via @ Wikicommons.
Looking to really impress someone or maybe you’re in the middle of organising your honeymoon? Why not check out these amazing places to eat for a truly memorable holiday experience. Don’t forget to let us know which is your favourite!
Crater Floor Lunch, Ngorogoro, Tanzania Image via @ andBeyond.com
#1 This could be our personal favourite. The Batman hotel room built to resemble the Bat Cave. Everything is themed from the tv, shower even to a replica of the utterly cool Batmobile. It’s hard to think of a better start to our list of 10 film inspired hotel rooms.
#2 The Pacific Inn Motel, Forks, USA. For the Twi-Hards amongst us, you can sleep under framed pictures of Bella, Edward or Jacob and get a real feel for the town where the novels are set. Even Bruce Wayne would be impressed.
#3 Tron Suite at the ICEHOTEL, Sweden. Around 200km inside the Arctic Circle is novelty enough, but when you find a room made of ice and designed to replicate the imagery from the Disney film Tron: Legacy, then you’re unlikely to forget it.
#4 Time will probably tell if the Pirates of The Caribbean films will go down in history as classics, but for now Disney has immortalised the films in the form of a hotel room. The pirate experience begins immediately – the doorbell plays ‘yo, ho, ho a pirate’s life for me.’
#5 Luke Skywalker’s house in Hotel Sidi Driss, Tunisia If you’re a Star Wars fan you’ll recognise the dusty landscape here as that of Tatooine. The rooms are surprisingly cosy, built in a traditional style dug from the sites of the caverns. If you’re not a fan, then this hotel is probably not for you. Image via @ RapidTravelChai
#6 Endless mirrors, golden tickets and an Hammam – very James Bond at the Suite dedicated to 007 at the Seven Hotel Paris Image via @ Seven Hotel Paris
#7 Paris has a bit of a monopoly on intriguing hotels, in fact the Seven Hotel has a second one up it’s sleeve with the Alice Room. Dedicated to Alice’s journey through Wonderland, it’s got a rabbit hopping from the wall, psychedelic settings and two toilets with a chessboard in between. Image via @ Seven Hotel Paris
#8 At the drive-in a bed for five. Perfect for film buffs, the V8 Hotel in Stuttgart has a car shaped bed (that fits 5) and offers the feel of a drive in movie experience. Image via @ V8 Hotel
#9 It hasn’t quite become a movie yet, but just give it a little while. After the whirlwind success of 50 Shades of Grey, hotels are cashing in on theming up rooms to incorporate all things Christian Grey. The Heathman Hotel, USA is offering a 50 Shades of Grey holiday, you might remember it’s where Ana and Christian had an initial encounter. Just don’t forget to bring your own cuffs and whips. Image via @ Heathman Hotel PDX
#10 This is impressive whether you’re a Hobbit fan or not. Much love has been put into creating a dedicated ‘Shire’ experience in the lovely surrounds of Montana from gigantic mushrooms, a troll house, Hobbit trails, and even Gandalf’s hat in the room. Image via @ Hobbit House of Montana.
The celebrated 57th Street Buckingham Hotel, built in 1929, is to be restored this year as The Quin Hotel. Once frequented by musical legends such as pianist/composer Ignacy Jan Paderewski, the historic 18-storey beauty is set to open in February 2013, and hopes to capitalise on this musical and artistic heritage. Its luxurious in-house amenities even include a gallery, featuring paintings by Irish artist, Patrick Graham. Furthermore, the hotel’s location, which is within walking distance of Carnegie Hall, the Museum of Modern Art and the 57th Street gallery district, is sure to add to its cultural flair. The hotel will have 200 rooms, an American restaurant, a spa and a business centre.
The Thief, Oslo
Recently opened in downtown Olso, Norway, is a former 18th-century prisoner colony come waterfront hotel. Aptly named The Thief, the name derives from the days when criminals were brought to Tjuvholmen, nicknamed “Thief Island”, which lies just off the coast. Today, the same waterfront is made up of art galleries, bars, cafes, restaurants, shops, and now, to the modern 119-room, nine-floor hotel. A member of Design Hotels, The Thief boasts a penthouse suite, panoramic views of the city and a rooftop terrace. Although it’s unlikely that you will be wishing to escape from this prison, as cars are forbidden along the Scandinavian coastline, the primary way of getting around is via foot or bike.
Four Seasons Hotel Lion Palace, St. Petersburg
Once home to a Russian princess, Four Seasons Hotel Lion Palace St. Petersburg is, as its name suggests, a restored palace. Expected to open sometime in spring 2013, the hotel’s majestic marble staircase is embellished with gold and bronze moulding, a nod to its 1820s glory; the designers even used the original architectural drawings as a reference. One of the palace’s earlier courtyards is now a glass enclosed Tea Lounge, serving breakfast, tea and a light dinner. Hungrier guests can indulge in some fine Italian cuisine at the Percorso restaurant or decadent Asian fare at Sintoho, followed by a glass of cognac at Xander bar. In the works is also a four-level luxury spa with an enclosed rooftop pool and several treatment rooms.
Hong Kong-based Peninsula Hotels group will this year make its European debut with its Parisian addition, set to open in late 2013. The hotel will occupy the Beaux-Arts gem constructed in 1908, which was once home to the Majestic Hotel. Great measures are being taken to make certain the building is restored to its original magnificence and ensure that it blends flawlessly with the surrounding Parisian architecture in the sophisticated neighbourhood of the 16th arrondissement. Once complete, The Peninsula will house an impressive 200 guest rooms and a spa on the enviable Avenue Kléber near the Champs-Élysées.
Opening in Las Vegas is the first-ever hotel from master sushi chef Nobu Matsuhisa. Expected to open within Caesars Palace on February 4, the hotel will be one of the first expansions of a restaurant into the world of hotels – a new trend for the New Year perhaps… watch this space. The idea of a hotel built around a restaurant concept is something we quite admire, and with interior design from David Rockwell, including a hand-layed river rock wall, we’re certain the venue will not disappoint. And of course, ordering room service from Nobu is a dream soon to be realised.
Shangri-La Bosphorus, set to open in Istanbul in the first quarter of 2013, will be the luxury hotel brand’s first property in Turkey. Sitting neatly on the shore of the Bosphorus Strait in the Besiktas district near the Dolmabahce Palace, the hotel is ideally located for all the local amenities. Its addition to the Istanbul skyline will be particularly of note, as on completion Shangri-La Bosphorus will be the second tallest building on the coastline. With 186 guest rooms, including 17 suites with sea views, the hotel’s design is contemporary mixed with Asian touches. This theme crosses over to the hotel restaurant, which serves both Western and Asian cuisine, while in the Lobby Lounge guests can enjoy afternoon tea and tapas. Ladies may indulge at The Spa at Shangri-La, which will specialise in Chinese healing therapies, yet also include two Turkish hammams.
While remote, the Maldives’ island of Noonu Atoll, is possibly the most perfect setting for the upcoming Cheval Blanc Randheli (part of LVMH’s luxury hotel portfolio). Set to open this summer, the extravagant 45 loft-style villas, some of which will be set on the white-sand beach, while others will be propped up on stilts over turquoise waters, will feature personal infinity pools, flawlessly selected interiors and awe-inspiring views of the contiguous lagoon. The Cheval Blanc Spa will be readily available for indulgent treatments, and a fleet of traditional Maldivian fishing boats, specially crafted for Cheval Blanc, will allow guests to explore the local area at its most romantic. The heavenly retreat will also include four restaurants, ranging from fine dining to a fish market, as well as cigar and wine cellars.
It’s never a bad time to think ahead, that’s why we’ve put together our list of great holiday destinations that’ll be perfect from April next year. For couples, or honeymooners, families or small groups, here’s where you should be booking now for the best value. Enjoy our choice of the best cheap Easter holidays and save money with Purple Travel.
Malta in April should see some absolutely fantastic weather, but it won’t be so hot that you can’t actually enjoy the stunning surrounds of this island. Valetta, the capital is a tremendously beautiful city, home to lovely architecture and fantastic restaurants. While just up the coast you’ll find picturesque St Paul’s Bay, a great choice for watching the world go by.
Top tip: Gozo Island nearby is a place where it seems time is standing still. The perfect get-away-from-it-all daytrip.
The most southerly of the Greek islands, Crete offers amazing food all year round, a fantastic choice of accommodation and some of the best weather at that time of year. On top of that, Easter in Greece is a great tradition so it’s ideal for families who want a slight twist on a traditional holiday.
Top tip: Orthodox Easter is on May 5 and is a time when families and friends get together and share food, drinks and laughter. The smaller villages will be beautiful to visit on Easter Sunday.
Majorca is great value anytime, so there’s no reason not to go. From partying with your mates, to family friendly getaways, the island has something to suit all tastes, and budgets. Majorca has a whopping coastline of over 550km, and plenty of that is beach. Spring is well and truly springing in Majorca so you’ll find little rain. A well oiled tourist infrastructure means it’s well able to cater for the 8 million tourists who visit each year. From the capital Palma, to the party city of Magaluf, or the tiny villages that dot the coastline, there really is some sunshine for everyone.
Top tip: A little off the beaten track you’ll find the Cuevas del Drach in Porto Christy, a cave system featuring one of the world’s biggest underground lakes.
Paris in the springtime. Someone should write a song about that, oh, someone already did, because they realised how simply beautiful it is. The French capital is made for long strolls hand in hand with your other half, trips up the famous Eiffel Tower, or seeing whether the Mona Lisa is really worth all the talk at the world famous Louvre Museum. Enjoy the City of Love, in the words of Ernest Hemingway who called it a ‘celebration of life.’
Top tip: Slow down! Whether you have a weekend or a week, Paris works on a different time than home. Boulangeries are made for lazy snacks on croissants and you’ll find them everywhere, while Parisians might not stop to admire the beautiful architecture of their city, you’d be mad not to.
So, you want to spend Easter 2013 being a rock star right? Who doesn’t?! Head for the glitz and glamour of Barbados. The homeland of singer Rihanna, this is where the beautiful people spend their holidays. Relax on a yacht in the Bay of Holetown, or hit the clubs on First Street. If it’s relaxation you’d prefer the Aqua Restaurant and Lounge is a big favourite amongst the local glam pack.
An archipelago of nearly 1,200 islands, the Maldives is absolutely idyllic. The Indian Ocean is beautiful in April, with excellent weather and a romantic atmosphere makes it perfect for couples or honeymooners, looking for their own water villa. Explore the reefs by day, and sip a cocktail watching the most beautiful sunset of your life by night. The Maldives is made for romance.
Top tip: A seaplane tour is a beautiful (and cosy) way of discovering the islands. It’s a little expensive and weather dependent, but well worth it for the views.
Cape Verde these little islands of Africa’s western coast have a great mix of beaches and culture, sunshine and activities. It’s got plenty for children with watersports and beautiful beaches, while mum and dad will love the atmosphere and selection of restaurants. On top of that it’s easy to get to, (and actually not that far away, really) and won’t break the bank for an early sunshine session.
Top tip: Visit Pico de Fogo where you’ll find an active volcano! The landscape is really beautiful and perfect for exploring with the kids on horseback.
For more on cheap Easter holidays this year, visit Purple Travel and save money on flights, hotels and transfers.
The city of lovers, the city of light, the city home of the Mona Lisa. Here’s the Purple Travel guide to Paris for Lovers: the ultimate guide on where to stay, what to see and how best to enjoy the French capital. Paris is a city filled with sights and sounds of hundreds of years dedicated to the arts and music, haute cuisine and haute couture and you’d be hard pressed in living there for many years to see it all.
Copyright by Moyan Brenn
For the big stuff, the Louvre, The Eiffel Tower, the Catacombs, Notre Dame and the Pantheon (among many others) we suggest the Paris Museum Pass. A pre paid ticket that gets you into over 70 museums across the city. It’s also worth remembering, most museums are closed on either Monday or Tuesday, so check before you go.
With so many sights it can get a little overwhelming, if you want to stay a little more off the beaten track, then here is our top five ‘other’ things to do in Paris.
We’ve all heard the stories of people joining, or attempting to join the mile high club, but it’s not something airlines are usually into. Until now. UK low cost airline Jet2.com, is introducing mid flight speed dating from tomorrow.
Departing from Leeds Bradford International Airport, 100 sexy singles, 50 men and 50 women will fly to the ultimate city of romance: Paris. Each one secured their place by sending in a picture of themselves looking their most sultry and they each wrote a love essay on why they deserved to be there!
Of course, the singles won’t be left all on their own to pair off, the morning flyers will get lots of encouragement from The Only Way is Essex’s Mario Falcone and Lucy Mecklenburgh. The TOWIE stars will be doing their best to help the singles discover if they’re flying with the love of their lives.
The group will test their dating skills on a love boat tour along the Seine and in an extra twist the most popular man and woman amongst the group will win a 5* star holiday with their chosen other half. It’s not clear yet if it has to be someone they meet in the air.
The ‘love flights’ are free and this one filled up fast. There is a second love flight planned from Manchester leaving on November 24, and if it’s successful, more flight plans for Valentine’s Day 2013.
You can check out some of the singles who’ll be boarding the love plane, on the Facebook page here. If you want to be in with a chance of finding a hot date on a future flight, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Paris – je t’aime. You are the ultimate city break, a haven of girlish fantasy, a macaroon paradise, a swish, sassy, chic enclave of all things hip and fabulous. Dive in our posh girls guide to Paris.
It’s a given that Paris is every girl’s dream getaway, from the shopping to the eating to the dancing the night away. But the posh girl in Paris is looking for that je ne sais quoi, which isn’t found in most guides to Paris. We assumed that you fine ladies may have better things to do than trawl the Internet looking for establishments that cater to your er… calibre (filing nails, sipping from teacups etc etc), so we created this list of Paris’ best posh girl must-do’s. Don’t mention it.
This new hotel, part of the Elegancia group, was designed by Paris it-boy Ora-Ito and inspired by Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. Rather than typical hotel rooms, Hotel O comprises 29 cabins, in a space vessel style, cutting guests off from the hectic Parisian streets and and Etienne-Marcel shopping meccas at its doorstep. Each room has a unique colour scheme, built with four materials: wood, cork, felt and Corian, to create a harmonious blend of clean lines and smooth curves. The breakfast room doubles as a bar, serving a short range of cocktails using quality, often organic spirits.
The history of Parisian tea salons is lovingly linked to the history of the Ladurée family. In 1862, Louis Ernest Ladurée opened his first a bakery at 16 rue Royale in Paris. The decoration of the pastry shop was entrusted to Jules Cheret, a famous turn-of-the-century painter and poster artist, who sought inspiration from the painting techniques used for the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and the Garnier Opera. Now with salons all over Paris and beyond, Laduree have become famous for their macrons – small, round cakes, crisp on the outside, smooth and soft in the middle, in various colours and flavours. No posh girl could complete their trip to Paris without having a macaron or two at the original tea salon on rue Royale. Decorated in original wood paneling, with a cascade of angels and gourmet fairies on the ceilings, this unique café is a symbol of the French art of living.
Gallic gastronomic grandeur meets old school glamour at Hotel Meurice in the heart of Paris. It has the skeleton of all typical Parisian fine eateries – mosaic floor, crystal chandeliers, heavy damask curtains – but has recently had a super-modern overhaul by designer Phillipe Starck. Chef Yannick Alléno bagged a third Michelin star in 2007, due to his brilliantly inventive cooking, which is based on a deep knowledge of classical Escoffier vintage culinary technique. Flex your posh girl muscles with a course of In addition to crispy green ravioli with a fricassee of snails and wild garlic.
It would almost be a crime to stay in Paris and not take a visit to staple French fashion house, Chanel. The masters of timeless luxury, their window displays at the rue Cambon location are particularly beautiful.
It’s true that diamonds are a girl’s best friend, but in Paris, costume diamonds are the posh girl’s. Bijoux Burma offers the best of both worlds, presenting a variety of colourful precious gems in bracelets, rings, necklaces, earrings and broaches, as well as costume jewellery that is arguably even more spectacular.
THE TASTE OF PARIS
Drink tea with a difference at W Lounge
A place to don your new purchases and dance to Paris’ hottest DJs spin, while sipping one of W Lounge’s signature cocktails. This innovative cocktail menu, crafted by W Hotels Worldwide Director of Cocktail Culture, Joseph Boroski, contains only the most fabulous drinks in Paris. Managed by one of the city’s top bar experts, Aurélie Panhelleux, the W Lounge even offers Do It Yourself Cocktail Sessions on a Tuesday and a unique twist on teatime with their exclusive Cockteals tea-infused drinks.
Sip champagne at The Ritz
With a hardcore following of young and trendy Parisians, The Ritz Bar Terrasse, weather permitting, is the place to be in Paris. With a collection of chic and comfortable outdoor lounge chairs, which overlook the interior courtyard of this legendary hotel, when you’ve made this kind of mark on the world of luxury, there’s really no other option, but to have your own champagne label. Enter the Ritz Brut and Ritz Brut Rose. Perfect for spending a Parisian evening nibbling on fresh strawberries, and drinking bubbles with a loved one, if you don’t want to go for their delicious own brand, you can of course indulge in some Cristal (995 Euro), Perrier Jouët Belle Epoque (500 Euro) and Dom Ruinart Brut Rosé (600 Euro) by the bottle.
Another astonishing interior under the belt of Philippe Starck, this hotel is a decadent, art-filled rebellion of colour, pattern and texture. Stark’s own interpretation of 1930s Paris. Then came the spa: an ethereal, snow-white world of plush lounging spaces, the longest swimming pool in any Paris hotel and fabulous treatments by Clarins. Try the Balance of Power face treatment by My Blend (€295 for 105 minutes), which uses a combination of eight creams and seven boosters, chosen by the therapist from a possible 400.
Get done at Doux Me
The Doux Me beauty room at Hôtel Costes offers personalised facials, body treatments and massages, using only organic products and vegetable-based oils that will leave your posh-girl skin feeling, soft, smooth and revitalised. Created for women, by women, this is ever Sloane Ranger’s dream pampering sesh.
Not simply content with being home to the Eiffel Tower, the Mona Lisa and the Champs-Élysées, Paris is going futuristic in an effort to make locals and tourists alike jump for joy.
Plans have been unveiled for a new bridge to cross the Seine that is part trampoline, part inflatable and part walkway. It’s all part of the competition ‘Archtriumph’.
The designs show an inflatable border, inside which a trampoline mesh would be stretched. When it’s inflated the ‘bridge’ is raised from the water, and designers AZC say users can simply feel the joyous release of gravity as they bounce across the river.
They say: “It is based on the concept of happiness, something fun and frivolous to combat stressful Paris.”
So what do you think, will the bridge have Parisians jumping for joy?