Madeira for Easter

At various points in its history it has had booms from sugar cane, wine and bananas and visits from Darwin, Napoleon, Picasso, Churchill and Banks.  We loved this place for delicious seafood Portinho, Rua do Portinho, 9370-410 Madeira, Portugal and had a slightly rain interrupted trip to the lava pools in Porto Moniz.  We stayed at a brilliant apartment in Paul do Mar called The Docks Apartments. There it is, just at the end of the dock in the picture below.  Scenery was stunning and there was a fairly challenging walk up the cliff the the Jardin Atlantico hotel (2.5km / 600+ metres of climbing) to keep us entertained between bouts of seafood.


Favourite places to stay in Berlin

Adina self-catering apartments are near the central station (Hauptbanhof) and not far from East Berlin and great restaurants (c€100-150 per night)

The Kunst Hotel is something a bit quirkier but some of the rooms are right next to the railway line and we worked out very quickly why they put ear plugs on the bedside table.  So if you are staying here and don’t like the noise, be careful about selecting your room.  However it’s a fantastic place to stay and very well appointed.  Again, close to the Hauptbanhof and East Berlin (c€100-150 per night)

Otherwise, you can always go for my favourite German chain, MotelOne.  They have 8 sites in Berlin (c€70-100 per night).  Can’t go wrong if you can get in.

If you want somewhere stunning, try the independent luxury property called Mandala with massive rooms, delicious food and attentive service €200-300 per night.  For the penthouse suite, POA 🙂 but it is very very very very nice.  I’ve seen it but not stayed.

B&B in the Peak District and a Lancaster Bomber

We spent an unusually sunny weekend in the Peaks District. Lots of lycra and leather (cyclists and motorcyclists) and some beautiful scenery.  We stayed in a lovely B&B called Wind in the Willows.  It was around £125 per night and a beautiful and quiet spot in Glossop on the Manchester edge of the Peak District.  Not far, via a public footpath through a farm, there is wonderful walking and running.  We stumbled across a few hares (its May) and the wreckage from 1945 of a Lancaster  bomber.  The story behind it is listed on Astrecks; a sad tale of a Canadian crew who were just about to head home after the war and died in a training flight.  The wreck near Wind in the Willows is  titled ‘ Lancaster KB993, 408 Squadron RCAF’.


Paris under €150 a night?

Paris can be tough to find a decent place to stay without signing up to be fleeced at the Westin (which is very comfortable, of course).  I like these places:

  • Hotel Place des Vosges.  A great location in le marais.  Rooms are small but its a great spot to stay.  The problem with this one is you have to be on the ball to get a room as there aren’t that many and it is often booked out.
  • Hotel Vieux de Saule.  Location is also in le marais but closer to Le Republic which is probably a bit more central than Place des Vosges.  Again, the rooms are small but it was recently renovated so is very comfortable.
  • Mama Shelter has a great restaurant and bar downstairs and the rooms look excellent.  I’ve never stayed here but definitely give it a whirl if the Marais ones are full.
  • If your are there a little longer and there is a few of you, then contact Sarah at Appartments Actually, who have some beautiful properties.
  • Sarah recommends Hotel Jeanne D’Arc (also in le marais).  Its below the €150 price bracket and worth a try.

Hotel Lindenberg, Frankfurt

Great new hotel with no registration desk.  I loved this as I hate queuing to register for a room key.  They email you a login code and this gives you access to your room and to the hotel front door.  No check-in also meant that the manager, Eva, had time to show me around and offer me a coffee when I arrived.  Cool hotel with individually designed rooms.  Mine was called Lolita and most of it was red. Striking bathroom and very comfortable place to stay.  They have a “run your own cinema” down stairs with an extensive video library and a fully stocked bar (or you could go to the gym which is next to the cinema or course).

5 star Bellagio on Lake Como at a 3 star price

We stumbled upon the Residence Ulivo self catering units which are in the grounds of the Villa Serbelloni.  The apartments are an excellent standard and very comfortable, situated a short stroll up the hill and behind the main hotel.  As a guest of Residence Ulivo, you have access to the facilities as a guest of the hotel.  The budget is more 3 star than the 5 star one you will need if you stay in the main hotel.