It’s nearly the end of the year and suddenly you realise you have a few days holiday left over, which you can’t carry into 2017. For the Times recently I came up with a few ideas on where to use those few precious days of freedom… (click on each page to enlarge).

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The Pound has been taking a bit of a battering since the Brexit vote in June, but you can still find decent hotel value in New York City, if you plan ahead. Truth be told, when I was over there earlier this year checking out more budget-oriented hotels, not many of them really had a stand-out “wow” factor, but if you’re visiting the Big Apple you’re not really going to loll around your room all day, right? You just want somewhere clean, comfortable and safe.

So here are 20 hotels where you can get a bit more bang for your buck, as featured in my article that appeared in the Times last weekend.

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This is a piece I wrote recently for the London Times on places to stay in New York, Los Angeles and Miami for under £100 a night (ie $165) including taxes for a double for two people – which took some searching. In the Big Apple you generally have to look off-season, andthen usually a Sunday or Monday night have the cheapest deals; in Miami summer is low season (which suits a lot of Brits just fine), while in LA it’s just plain difficult to find much that fits into that category that stood out….personally, if I was there and had a car I would try AirBnB first. Anyway, here’s what I came up with:

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Robbie Bargh runs Gorgeous Group and he describes himself as “a food and beverage conceptual creator – restaurant and bar specialist”. Robbie travels at least two weeks per month. At the moment he is working on projects as diverse as a new hotel in Singapore, a fast food concept in Accra, Ghana, a jazz café in Montreux, Switzerland, a sky bar and restaurant in Leeds and a Japanese bar b q in London. This is a man you want to follow on Twitter for new food & bar openings, especially ones that get service just right.

Robbie

Robbie Bargh

Where is your favourite place for breakfast and brunch in London?

I love Honey and Co just off Goodge Street. It’s tiny, run by a beautiful Israeli couple who used to work for Yotam Ottolenghi and have put their heart, soul and savings into this little space. It’s just fabulous. And the Lido Cafe in Brockwell Park too, I go there a lot.  Downtown, I’d say Berner’s Tavern at the Edition Hotel near Tottenham Court Road and the Wolseley as well – always a great place for meetings. I go there for breakfast and stay all day.

Favourite spots for dinner?

The Dairy in Clapham is a great new place. It’s owned by an entrepreneurial couple, he used to be a chef at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons. A great little find, open kitchen, cooks from the heart, amazing dishes. They can’t afford to pay for waiting staff so the chefs run the food. Beautiful cooking, lots of soul, they love hospitality.

I also love the Clove Club in Shoreditch, beautiful, very cool space, set menu, very hipster, but delivers. Dishoom in Shoreditch as well, I eat there once or twice a week – Shoreditch for breakfast, Covent Garden for dinner. And I’ll dip into Brixton Market once or twice a week, there are some great places there.

I went to a great little restaurant in Leeds a few weeks ago called the Arts Café, gosh it really blew me away. And the chef who owns that has also opened a new place called Shears Yard – I went there and thought the cooking was amazing.

Accra

For fast food in Accra, who you Ghana call?

Favourite restaurants abroad?

When I was in Canada last year I went to a fabulous restaurant in Ottawa called Supply And Demand – just incredible. Very simple. Ottawa is really just a large town/small city, so you get a lot of farmers and producers supplying restaurants directly, not through middle men, so I think you get a lot more love and passion for the food that way. The chefs are doing some incredible work there.My favourite cities to eat in are Istanbul, Portland and Los Angeles – try Gjelina in Venice Beach and Cooks County in West Hollywood, which was probably the best brunch I can remember in the last few years.

Favourite place to flop in the sun and switch off from work?

I’ve discovered La Colombe d’Or in St Paul de Vence, outside Nice. It’s a small boutique hotel, in the middle of nowhere relatively speaking – it’s about the pool and the food, and just a great place to relax and switch off. I also love the Maldives especially Soneva Fushi – if I could go there once a year I’d be happy.

Favourite city for the buzz?

To re-energise I think London has it all, even more so than New York. We have so many different villages, our culture is a lot more 360 so there’s much more interaction between food and fashion and art and music and drinks, more crossover. In New York there are amazing things going on but in London there’s a lot more substance to it.

Forget the guidebook stuff, what things would you tell tourists to do in London?

I spend a lot of time going round Brixton and I’d say go to the market there. Go to Mare street in Hackney too, go to Rita’s for the cooking. Head to the V&A museum, you could spend a whole day there, and then Regent’s Park. Walk a lot. Having said that you can see what London’s about if you take the tube, our mix of cultures and personalities and our amazing melting pot.

SoSing

SoSingapore Hotel, opening later this year

Thanks Robbie! www.gorgeousgroup.com

 

The main thing I had heard about Bermuda before I went earlier this year was that it’s dull. Just goes to show you should always make up your own mind because I loved it. And to be honest, I can’t quite put my finger on why. (It certainly wasn’t for the prices. Ouch!) I was there for a few weeks but you can pretty much “do” the whole island in a day (it’s only about 21 miles by 4 miles), however the Bermudians were utterly charming, the beaches fantastic, and all in in all it just has a seductive air that I totally fell in love with. There are places that I leave and say “nice but I won’t be back” and then there are spots that, as I’m taxiing down the runway, I’ll think “yes, not sure when, but I will return here” – and Bermuda is very definitely in the latter category.

Front Street Hamilton. Rush hour.

Front Street Hamilton. Rush hour.

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Hamilton, from the harbour

There are worse ways to commute!

There are worse ways to commute!

Hamilton harbour - in travel round ups you read about Sydney, Vancouver and Rio but when it comes to lovely, natural harbours I think Hamilton definitely makes the list.

Hamilton harbour – in travel round ups you read about Sydney, Vancouver and Rio but when it comes to lovely, natural harbours I think Hamilton definitely makes the list.

Tourists can't hire cars on Bermuda, so your options are ferry (limited, but fun), bus (affordable, but not that frequent, and not really practical at night), taxi (ubiquitous but not that cheap) or scooter. I'm not sure I can recommend the latter, given the number of wobbly Americans I saw getting confused about driving on the "wrong" side of the road. (Well, it is a British colony, old bean).

Tourists can’t hire cars on Bermuda, so your options are ferry (limited, but fun), bus (affordable, but not that frequent on all routes, and not really practical at night), taxi (ubiquitous but not that cheap) or scooter. I’m not sure I can recommend the latter, given the number of wobbly Americans I saw getting confused about driving on the “wrong” side of the road. (Well, it is a British colony, old bean).

Hamilton's beautiful cathedral

Hamilton’s beautiful cathedral

Now THIS is why people come to Bermuda

Now THIS is why people come to Bermuda

View from the ferry

View from the ferry

Royal naval dockyard

Royal naval dockyard

St George's

St George’s

Home of the run swizzle!

Home of the Rum Swizzle!

Horseshoe Bay

Horseshoe Bay

A Bermuda bus - at stops, a blue pole means the bus is going away from Hamilton, while a pink one means it's going towards

A Bermuda bus – at stops, a blue pole means the bus is going away from Hamilton, while a pink one means it’s going towards.

I think one of the best ways to enjoy Bermuda would be to combine the island with New York for a detox-retox break. (It’s only an hour and a half’s flight from the Big Apple, so with BA/American Airlines you could do a triangular London-New York-Bermuda-London route or vv). Don’t forget it’s NOT the Caribbean, so it’s not the best bet for winter sun. (I was there till early November, and after October 31st the tourism industry seemed to hang a big “closed till March” sign over the whole place). If you don’t want a big ritzy hotel, I would definitely recommend the Rosedon Hotel in Hamilton. Small and very friendly.