City breaks that you’ll never forget

Author: jayzep  |  Category: City Guides, Travel Destinations

Today’s busy lifestyles tend to leave little room in the calendar for a fortnight of holidays, and if your diary is already looking a little too full to shoehorn one in, you might be feeling a bit depressed.  Fortunately, there’s one sure-fire way to perk yourself up, and that’s to pepper your year with a few short city breaks. 

UK-based breaks

Travellers don’t even need to leave the country.  London is one of the world’s most popular destinations for city breaks, offering diversity, multiculturalism and historical architecture on almost every street.  A typical day in London can include a trip to the Tower of London, followed by a spin round the London Eye and a wander past Buckingham Palace.  Everything is conveniently within easy reach, and riding the London Underground is a great way to avoid the busy roads.

Take your pick

It’s not just London that will capture your heart – the UK is spoilt for choice when it comes to iconic cities.  Take Liverpool for example – the name immediately conjures up images of the Beatles, the Royal Liver Building and of course the Mersey Ferry.  Travellers might also want to consider Edinburgh.  For starters, check out the zoo, the castle and the festival – but remember to stay warm!

Whichever city you choose to visit this year, make it count.  Do ample research before embarking and make a list of desired must-see attractions so nothing gets missed.  A UK city break will be an unforgettable experience, and you’ll learn so much more about your homeland in the process.

Picture: stewartmorris

Make the most of your trip to Paris

Author: jayzep  |  Category: City Guides, Travel Destinations

Paris is known as one of the most romantic cities of all time. Not only that, but it’s also a stylish fashion hub, filled with great eateries, packed with beautiful architecture and has a number of amazing museums and historic sites. If you’re planning a weekend trip there, how can you possibly choose what to do?

If you’re short on time in Paris, try to figure out which things you want to do most. If you’ve always dreamed of cruising down the Seine with your loved one, or wandering the galleries of the Louvre, put those on your list. Cross off any that you’re a bit unsure about.

Don’t try to rush around seeing everything – if you’ve decided on a few valued places that you really want to go, it’s better to make the most of these rather than rushing around seeing a bit of everything and wearing yourself out. Take a bit of time just to wander a particular area and absorb some of the atmosphere, because that’s what really makes the place special.

If you’re with kids, be careful not to tire them out. They’ll appreciate it much more if you take things slowly. And if you have the time, reward them with a day out at Disneyland, because the trip needs to be fun for everyone.

Picture: Trodel

Enjoy Stockholm

Author: jayzep  |  Category: City Guides, Travel Destinations, Travel Tips

Stockholm, the capital of Sweden, is a holiday destination with splendid natural beauty.  Spread across 14 islands and connected by around 50 bridges, Stockholm is a majestic city standing on the clear waters of Lake Malaren.  Set against the backdrop of the Baltic Sea, the city features grand monuments and architecture that depict its 700-year-old history.

Attractions

Stockholm charms its visitors with a number of attractions.  The landscape of the city is dotted with royal palaces, gothic churches, grand museums, famous art galleries, and many other sightseeing destinations.  Adding to the appeal of this old world charm are fine restaurants, inviting bars, high quality shopping and souvenir stalls.

The colourful boats and yachts dotting the waterfront enhance the beauty of Stockholm.  Its serene beaches and lush green forests combine with the other attractions to create a great holiday destination.

The famous theatres and amusement parks of Stockholm are further notable features of the city.  The Swedish capital is also known for its wonderful nightlife, while a taste of the local cuisine should be on every visitor’s wishlist.  For those with a taste for designer labels, Stockholm is the perfect shopping destination.

Visitor information

Stockholm is located on the south-central east coast of Sweden and is easily accessible.  A flight to Stockholm-Arlanda airport is the simplest way to reach the city.  Stockholm Central is the main railway station.

Stockholm experiences a humid continental climate.  With warm summers and snowy winters the best time to visit the city is from May to July.

Picture: Let Ideas Compete

Discover the beauty of Athens

Author: jayzep  |  Category: City Guides, Travel Destinations, Travel Tips

Athens, the capital of Greece, is one of the most amazing tourist destinations in the world.  The beauty of the city lies in its magnificent history that dates back 3,400 years.  Tourists can catch sight of the grand heritage of Athens by visiting the colossal architectural works that still dominate the landscape of the city.

Attractions

Athens is home to some of the most famous archaeological monuments in Europe.  The historic city charms tourists with structural wonders such as the Acropolis, the Parthenon, the Ancient Agora, the Temple of Hephaestus, the Attalos Stoa and the Roman Forum.  Visitors can also enjoy the National Archaeological Museum, one of the greatest museums in the world preserving ancient Greek art.  The Panathenaic Stadium is another wonder that visitors must not miss while in the Greek capital.

Athens also hosts some of the finest theatrical plays, while music festivals and sports events offer further opportunity to enjoy exciting entertainment in the ancient city.  A vibrant and colourful nightlife introduces tourists to another interesting side of the historical city.

Visitor information

Athens enjoys a stream of visitors from all parts of the world.  The easiest way to reach the city is by taking a flight to Athens airport, while the national rail service TrainOSE connects Athens to many other Greek towns and cities.

The weather in the Greek capital consists of hot summers and cool winters.  The best time to enjoy a trip to the ancient city is between the months of April and June.

Picture: Arian Zwegers

The low cost hotel alternative in London

Author: jayzep  |  Category: City Guides, Travel Destinations, Travel Guides

Those visiting London are faced with a barrage of options when considering overnight accommodation. Whether opting for a modern boutique hotel, reputable brand name or family-run guesthouse, the requirements are generally the same: cleanliness, location and comfort. These can be found just as often in the smaller bed and breakfast establishments as they can in the big name hotels.

What makes independent guesthouses most attractive is the rates, which are generally considerably lower than at larger hotels. This shouldn’t mean losing out on basic amenities, however, and you should still be able to find some great centrally-located deals that include en suite facilities, online booking, large family rooms and, for those who can’t go away without tweeting about it, free Wi-Fi.

For longer stays in London or for families that would rather have a little more space and independence, serviced apartments are ideal. Many of London’s small hotels, including the Jesmond Dene Hotel, have expanded to include a number of serviced apartments that combine the freedom of self-catering with the luxury of a cleaning service. This is an ideal way to accommodate larger groups of up to six people and take advantage of private kitchen facilities, a washing machine, and that little bit more space.

Serviced apartments around Kings Cross and St Pancras have the advantage over traditional self-catering accommodation of being centrally located, making them much more practical for a family hoping to tour the museums and other attractions than accommodation in the suburbs.

A guide to London Hotels

Author: jayzep  |  Category: City Guides, Travel Tips

Finding the right hotel in London can be a daunting task as there are literally thousands to choose from, so we have decided to share our best hotels to suit any budget, from those who want to flash the cash, to those with a smaller budget.

Luxury Hotels

The Ritz London

www.theritzlondon.com

This 5 star hotel situated near Piccadilly Circus exudes luxury and sophistication. Five types of room are available from the luxurious Superior Queen Suite to the stunning Prince of Wales suite, and all have been fully restored with period features.

The level of service at The Ritz London is second to none with staff members ready to serve you whenever you need them to. A range of complimentary services are at guests disposable including laundry and dry cleaning services, Valet Service, Fast Wi-Fi connection and 24 hour room service.

All this luxury come at a price though, and with rooms starting at approximately £435 per night it is out of most peoples reach.

Independent London hotels

The Jesmond Dene Hotel

www.jesmonddenehotel.co.uk

The Jesmond Dene Hotel is situated near the St. Pancras Euro Tunnel terminal and just a two minute walk from King’s Cross underground meaning that travelling throughout the city is easy and convenient.

This independent hotel has a range of rooms to choose from and offers a range of facilities including free Wi-Fi, 24 hour reception and luggage storage. There is also a concierge service that can help you find the best restaurants and bars, shopping experiences and excursions that London has to offer.

Complimentary breakfast is included for those who book online through the website. Rooms start from just £62 per night.

Budget Hotels

Hotel Ibis London City

www.ibis.com/gb/hotel-5011-ibis-london-city/index.shtml

The Ibis London City Hotel is situated in the heart of the city near the Tower of London and has 348 modern rooms. Room facilities include en suite bathrooms, satellite TV and tea and coffee making supplies.

It also features a restaurant and bar serving a range of bistro style meals and drinks.

Each room come equipped with Ibis bedding custom made Sweet Beds which offer the ultimate in comfort. Wireless internet is available by request.

For a city centre location the Ibis London City Hotel offers some of the best prices with rooms costing from £69 per night.

Travel guide to Las Vegas

Author: jayzep  |  Category: City Guides, Travel Destinations, Travel Guides

Everyone has heard of Las Vegas, which is also known as the Sin City.  However, people who know very little about this incredible city should keep in mind one thing: Las Vegas is a sensational place where the world’s finest restaurants, talented chefs, cosmopolitan hotels, opulent spas, indoor Venetian canals, Elvis impersonators and penny slots have met.  Why should a tourist visit Las Vegas? Well, simply because there is no other place like it.

Attractions

Situated in the middle of the Nevada desert, this city is famous not for its climate or desert environment, but for its allure and mega-hotel casinos decorated to create a fairytale atmosphere.  Most casinos have themes that evoke exotic, mysterious, romantic or faraway destinations.

Besides casinos, you will find an assortment of entertainment options, including the Adventuredome at Circus, Aquarium at The Mirage, Auto Collections, Botanical Gardens, Flamingo Garden, Gallery of Fine Art, Chinatown Plaza and the Wax Museum.  The list can go on and on.

In the chic restaurants you can have a variety of dining options, ranging from simple dishes to omnipresent buffets.  Additionally, you can enjoy an impressive assortment of cafes, pubs, bars and clubs.  Before visiting Las Vegas, a tourist should also know that nightlife never ends in this city.  

Climate

In Las Vegas you will experience a subtropical climate, with an average of 300 sunny days per year.  The summer months are usually very hot, with temperatures ranging between 34 and 40 degrees Celsius.  During winter, Las Vegas has quite low temperatures that can often drop below 16 degrees Celsius. 

Getting there, getting around

The most comfortable way to reach this city is by plane.  A regular flight from London to Las Vegas takes less than 11 hours.  To help you get around the city, Las Vegas provides a reliable transport network, which includes taxis, buses, monorails and rental cars.  Upon arrival, you can rent a small holiday apartment or you can reserve a room at one of the top of the range hotels available in Las Vegas.

Picture: wbeem

The city on water – Venice

Author: jayzep  |  Category: City Guides, Travel Destinations, Travel Guides

Venice is as unique a city as you are ever likely to visit.  As such, there are times at which there are twice as many tourists as locals, but this is merely indicative of the huge array of attractions on offer. As a collection of 118 islands linked together by a maze of waterways, canals and bridges, just walking around this city is an experience.  Stunning architecture, such as the Gothic palazzos, is surrounded by a unique transport infrastructure that makes Venice truly astonishing on a first visit.  It is essentially a pedestrian city.  Stopping or walking slowly on a bridge can cause traffic, and the sleek water taxis are appropriately more expensive than the waterbuses.

With a history as one of the most important commercial cities in Western Europe as it traded with the rest of the world, Venice has a past to which the numerous churches and museums are testament. The city is steeped in culture.  Famous for its art, the galleries can occupy you for hours on end and Venice is still today a flourishing contemporary art scene.  From atmospheric wine bars to the city’s one and only jazz club, Venice mixes romance and history like nowhere else in the world.

A must-see is St Mark’s Square, famous for the hundred of pigeons that can be found there.  Another must is to take a gondola ride down the river.  These are expensive, but such a vintage part of Venetian history that you really would feel as though you were missing out.  There is no shortage of tourist facilities in Venice, so you can rest assured that a city which is so proud of its architecture and decor will offer some fantastic places to stay and eat.  Venice even has a unique cuisine, different to that of the rest of northern Italy, which ensures that you will not be hungry on your Venice city break.

Picture courtesy of Monosnaps

Getting the most out of London

Author: jayzep  |  Category: City Guides, Travel Destinations, Travel Guides

Guests at the Jesmond Dene: St. Pancras hotel will want to get the most out of their stay in London.  The following are some tips to help them do so: 

•    Travelling on the London underground is cheaper after 9 A.M., when the morning commute and consequent rush has ended.  A visitor’s Oyster Card is a better value option for tube journeys than paper tickets.
•    London buses can be a great way to get around the city because they often have their own dedicated road lanes.  Bus routes can seem complicated, but the route will be shown at the bus stop.
•    For anyone bringing a car into London, be advised that a congestion charge applies to the central city area.  A car entering the centre of London on weekdays between the hours of 7 A.M. and 6 P.M. will incur a daily charge, which will increase on the next charging day if the charge has not been paid in advance or on the day in question.  There is no congestion charge on public holidays.
•    London taxis, or “black cabs,” are synonymous with the city.  Black Cab drivers undergo a course on London called “the knowledge,” so there is very little, if nothing, they will not know about the city.  There will be taxi stands at hotels and in the major tourist areas, but a taxi can also be hailed from the side of the road.  Minicabs, which differ from the purpose-built black cabs, are also plentiful.
•    To get away from the hustle and bustle of London’s streets, a visit to one of the city’s many parks and green spaces is a must.  Amongst the better known are Hyde Park in West London, one of eight Royal Parks, and Hampstead Heath, which offers a great view of London from
Parliament Hill. 

Staff at the the Jesmond Dene Hotel London will help guests with any questions they might have about their stay in London.

Visiting London: tube guide

Author: jayzep  |  Category: City Guides, Travel Guides, Travel Tips

On arrival in London you could be forgiven for feeling a little overwhelmed; it is busy, noisy and at first glance the tube map looks like senseless, colourful spaghetti.  However, whether you are setting out for the day or making your way back to your London bed and breakfast, travelling by tube is very simple.  Arm yourself with a classic A-Z or equivalent smart phone map, identify your location and that of your destination and which tube stations are closest, and at your departure station, use the tube map to calculate the route.

When you emerge into the ticket hall of the destination station, there are local area maps on which you can locate the theatre, park, or market to which you are heading.  Use the closest exit, to save crossing roads in the terrifying traffic.

Finally, a couple of top tips: if you are doing lots of exploring, buy a travelcard – you can use it on buses too; also remember that sometimes it is faster to walk above ground than change lines for the sake of one stop.