I’m going to try and post more new hotel openings on Mondays, to give us a post-weekend boost on an otherwise rather grey start to the working week. (Well, if you’re reading this in London it’s pretty grim today. Ignore than bit if you’re in Cape Town, Buenos Aires or Melbourne right now).
This week it’s Copenhagen and the newly-opened Nobis Hotel. It’s a sister property to the Miss Clara in Stockholm which is one of my favourite hotels in Europe, and where I took my sister for her round number birthday last year.
Rates at the Nobis for a double room start from around 2500 Krone (£300 / €340 / US$400).
I get sent information about a lot of new hotels. I’m going to try and post more of them from now on. Even if you and I never get to visit them, they’re nice to look at on the top deck of the bus on a Monday morning in October!
Bikaner is a city in Rajasthan, east of the border with Pakistan and surrounded by the Thar Desert. It was once a great staging post on the great caravan routes that criss-crossed the region. In terms of tourism it’s number one attraction is the Junagarh Fort, built between 1588 and 1593.
This is the newly-opened Narendra Bhawan in Bikaner. Formerly owned by the last Maharaja of Bikaner (HH Narendra Singhji, 1948 – 2003), the hotel’s interiors play on his journey through life, and are full of carefully-sourced antiques and artefacts from around the world.
The craftsmanship is superb and Art Deco furniture contrasts brilliantly with Rajput and European. Built of soft pink sandstone, the tall building surrounds a pretty inner courtyard, overlooked by airy corridors, and has a lovely rooftop pool.
There are 82 bedrooms: some are contemporary, others more traditional and some more avant garde. The interiors of each reflect the different categories and phases of the Maharaja’s life. They vary from bright and minimalist to more ‘arty’ or more traditional.
You can find more information at the website of India travel specialist Mahout. (The details and photos here has been provided by Mary-Anne Denison-Pender, the MD of that company, who is encyclopaedic in her knowledge of Indian hotels.)
The price for a “Prince Room” is from £190 per room per night (for two people) including breakfast.
We’ve all seen those pictures and film of travellers dressed in their Sunday best in the 1960s being served champagne and caviar, and a rack of lamb carved beside their seat. What’s not pointed out, though, is that the exorbitant airfares back then meant only the wealthiest in society could travel.
But I’d argue the golden age of travel is now, when most people can jet off to New York for £350 or Thailand for not much more if they want.
There’s a downside though. You can forget that rack of lamb for a start, if you’re travelling down the back.
(1) Choose an aisle seat. Yes, it’s nice to look out of the window, but it’s nicer not to have to clamber over two people in the middle of the night when you want to use the loo. Use the website Seatguru to check out seat plans of the plane you’ll be on.
(2) Load up your iPad/tablet with TV shows and movies. Yes many airlines have seat-back TV these days, but it’s nice to be able to catch up on shows you’ve meant to see. Why not go old school and – gasp! – read a book.
(4) Many airlines in economy have stopped giving out eye shades, ear plugs and in some cases blankets, so stock up with your own if you need them. Dress in layers in case you are unlucky enough to be under an air vent.
(5) Stay hydrated. Yes, I know it’s easy to come over all Gwyneth Paltrow, but it’s important to drink plenty of water or juice in the air if you want to arrive feeling slightly more than death warmed up. The crew will come round with cups or just go and ask them in the galley: it’s a good chance to stretch your legs anyway. Should you avoid a glass of wine or a G&T? Hell no: you’re on holiday.
Another tip (I know I said five)…if possible try and go for a quick jog when you arrive just to loosen up stiffened joints and limbs that have been stuck in a cramped seat for 10 hours or more. Plus you can orientate yourself if you’re staying in a new city for the first time. And they say it helps with jet lag, although in my experience, not much helps with jetlag other than sleep.
What are your top tips for flying long haul? Please let me know.
I love this travel video from new tour company The Heart of Russia. Ittakes stereotypes (thank you YouTube and vodka) and shows that, despite what you think you know, there’s a different side waiting to be explored. It certainly makes me want to go to Saratov and the Volga region, which doesn’t feature on most (any?) of the usual itineraries to Russia.