Europe’s Best Big-Time Small Destination 2014 is…

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Protect yourself from the intelligence agencies- Surveillance Proof Your Hotel Room

#thedaywefigtback- Surveillance Free Hotels- Cover

 

Hotel.info has some advice on how to handle sinster eavesdropping from the NSA and other mysterious intelligence agencies.

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Europe’s Best Big-Time Small Destinations

VOTE for the best towns, villages and small cities Europe has to offer

Top 52-Europe's Best Big-Time Small Destinations

hotel.info has teamed up to with Globalgrasshopper.com to feature some of our favourite European travel destinations in 2014. These are our picks for some of Europe’s best destinations off the beaten path with under 100,000 inhabitants.

Choose your favourite and get ready to plan your next trip to Europe’s finest and most picturesque towns and villages.

Pick the winner of Europe’s Best Big-Time Small Destination fan favourite with your votes! Be sure to show your love by voting in our online contest before the February 14th closing date.

After you are finished here, head to Global Grasshoppers for Part 2.
Point system explained:

  • Hotel Reviews- Weighted score of hotel.info customer reviews of all hotels in destination
  • Picture Perfect- Weighted score of images found on the web
  • Likeability- Weighted score of Facebook Likes for the city
  • #Mentions- Weighted score of Instagram “#” mentions
  • Action- Weighted score of Foursquare top recommendations
  • Adventure- Weighted score of the km distance to the nearest airport

Vote Now for All of Your Favourites in the Head to Head Match-Ups

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Dream Christmas Getaways from our Favourite Travel Bloggers

Beverley_Pack Your Passport

Here at Hotel.Info we’re always on the look out for new, exciting holiday destinations – especially over the festive period when it can be all too easy to stay cooped up inside.

We decided to ask a few of our favourite travel bloggers where they would most like to jet away to this festive season, and the answers were so varied! Here is what they came up with:

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The Rise of the UK Brewery and the Great British Beer

Never before has Britain been so in love with Beer. Of course – it’s something the Brits have always been famous for, and the beer in the UK is arguably the best in the world (and always has been).

In recent years though, a new drinking trend has begun, that being Micro Brewing.

Great British Beer

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A Special Barcelona Weekend

A special anniversary weekend in Barcelona…

Barcelona definitely seems to be a favourite destination for romantic getaways. It’s stupendously easy to get to from the UK and it’s one of those cities that you just relax into as soon as you step off the plane. My boyfriend and I had both been to Barcelona a number of times separately for work, but we’d never been together for a weekend. With the rain clouds looming over London it seemed like a mighty sensible idea to escape over to Barcelona and celebrate our anniversary there instead – it doesn’t take much convincing for me to get my passport out!

For some holidays, the hotel you stay in doesn’t matter so much as the location. If you’re going to be out sight-seeing all day every day or will be spending all your time on the beach, you can be a lot more flexible about the hotel and simply book anywhere nice enough to just rest your head at night. We wanted a really fab hotel for our short break though, ideally the type of hotel that you barely want to leave for the entire stay!
Luckily there were plenty of hotels on hotel.Info that fit the ‘MUST BE AMAZING’ criteria, but we kept coming back to Hotel Arts. It just looked stunning in every photo, plus it was on the beach which was a part of Barcelona neither of us had actually stayed in before.
As soon as we arrived it was clear we’d made the right choice for a romantic break.
Just LOOK at that view from our 33rd floor room…

View from Hotel Arts Barcelona

Lying in bed to see the sea and Montjuïc was pretty special indeed, especially with those stunning blue skies that we’re rarely treated to in November at home!

The bed was huuuuuuuge…

Huge Bed at Hotel Arts Barcelona

And don’t even get me started on how lush the bathroom was…

Bathroom decor Hotel Arts Barcelona

The décor was gorgeous (it left me with plenty of inspo for what I’d like to do in my own house) and we were treated to a huge bath, walk in shower and seriously luxe grooming products by Asprey. A huge dish of bath salts were replenished every day and the towels were as fluffy as you could ever wish for.

Aside from the mega plush room though, what was really great about Hotel Arts was “The Club”. We were staying on the upper floors of the hotel in one of their ‘Club’ rooms, which meant we had a dedicated check in desk and concierge who attended to our every last need. Claire in particular looked after us so well when it came to recommendations and making our stay as seamless as possible.

We were greeted with champagne on arrival, but the surprising part was that the champagne never stopped flowing!

Champagne on Arrival at Hotel Arts Barcelona

The Club had food presentations throughout the day and drinks available from the moment we awoke to the moment we went to bed. All of this food and drink was included in the room price, so it was tempting to never leave! And that’s the perfect relaxing break for me, knowing you have a gorgeous lounge on hand stocked to the brim with delicious food and drink and stunning views over the sea.

Delicious food at Hotel Arts Barcelona

Food and Drinks at Hotel Arts Barcelona

It was so unbelievably relaxing, literally the clichéd ‘home from home’ feel that so many hotels strive for but so many don’t get quite right. But I suppose in this case, the ‘home’ at Hotel Arts was much nicer than the real one in England! I’m certainly not greeted with champers every time I enter the lounge at home, as much as I’d like to think that was the done thing!

Whilst we could have stayed nestled up in the Club for the entire weekend, we wanted to make sure we had a special night out to celebrate our anniversary. Ironically though, we didn’t have to go far to go ‘out’ for our special evening as we made reservations at Arola – one of the hotel’s finest restaurants, created by two Michelin starred chef Sergi Arola.

I was a little apprehensive that we were being very lazy by eating within the hotel, but as soon as we stepped inside the restaurant all worries were cast aside. We knew we were in a fantastic place.

I’m lucky enough to have eaten in some pretty special restaurants, but Arola was exquisite. It had been billed to us as ‘gourmet tapas with a gastronomic twist’ and it certainly didn’t disappoint.

The Arola take on patatas bravas will live in my memory for a very long time…

Best Patatas Bravas Ever at Hotel Arts Barcelona

Everything we ate was completely delightful. The chicken wings, the smoky aubergine…even the pan con tomate which you assembled yourself at the table. Everything was as delicious as it possibly could have been.

Delcious at Hotel Arts Barcelona

The cocktails were delectable too, as they were also at Frank’s – the hotel’s cocktail bar where we headed after rolling out of Arola. We never once felt like we were in ‘a hotel restaurant’ or ‘a hotel bar’, everywhere was very special with exceptionally good customer service.

The hotel was particularly glam at night…

Club Resident perks at Hotel Arts Barcelona

And you see that Smart car? As Club residents at the hotel we could have borrowed that car whenever we wanted over the weekend!

The sunset views from our room were pretty special too…

Nightime View from Hotel Arts Barcelona

We really couldn’t have had a better time, I can’t even begin to imagine how gorgeous Hotel Arts is in the height of summer.

During the day we read by the pool (albeit not in swim gear!) and explored the beach, but mostly we stayed up in the Club eating ourselves silly and gazing out to sea…

Sightseeing in Barcelona

We managed to pull ourselves away to hit the shops too, you can read about my shopping challenge here. The shopping justified the amount we ate, we argued!

We definitely recommend Hotel Arts for a romantic getaway, but be warned – you may never want to come home!

Barcelona Shopping Challenge

Poppy Dinsey’s Barcelona shopping challenge

I don’t think I’ve met anyone who has been to Barcelona who doesn’t absolutely ruddy love it. It is an *amazing* city. I was lucky enough to go there a few times as a child, but it wasn’t until I worked on a campaign with Mango at their global HQ back in the spring of 2011 that I realised, as a fully fledged adult with a credit card, what an amazing city it is for SHOPPING.

So whilst I may have been in Barcelona last weekend for a romantic anniversary break, I was very excited to have been set a shopping challenge by Hotel.Info to see what damage I could do with 200 euros in my pocket! It’s rare that I can convince my boyfriend to accompany me shopping on holiday, but the fact that the shopping trip was dressed up as ‘a challenge’ meant he could just about be persuaded to leave the comfort of the stunning Hotel Arts where we were staying. And he was glad he came, as he ended up buying more than me!

It’s worth pointing out how good the menswear shopping is in Barcelona, there’s everything you can wish for from stunningly tailored suits to beautiful leather goods and accessories (if money’s not an object, the men’s shoes in The Outpost are worth ogling over – or do as we did and just stare longingly through the window) to fantastic menswear collections in Zara and Mango that far outstrip what’s on offer in the UK stores – and come at a much more reasonable price.

The Spanish are just that bit more stylish, which makes shopping in Spain a real pleasure. It’s a cliché that gets bandied about for most of our European neighbours, but we could all learn a thing or two from those who live across the Channel! The first thing I noticed when we checked in to Hotel Arts was how stylish the uniforms were, when I complimented the receptionist on them she told me they were designed by Spanish fashion house Cortana. I’m not sure many top fashion houses are designing uniforms in London yet?! Perhaps a good sense of style is just in Spanish blood, Barcelona certainly has the most impressive art and design I’ve ever come across.

Barcelona Shopping with Poppy Dinsey

Barcelona is an easy city to shop in and I would always recommend to any newcomer to start at the top of Passeig de Gracia and work their way down. Passeig de Gracia is a wonderful, long street which has all the designer boutiques you could wish for as well as all the European high street stores you can imagine – including HUGE branches of Mango and Zara. There are department stores here too, with El Corte Inglés taking pride of place.

To make the shopping challenge more ‘challengey’, and to stop my boyfriend from moaning too much, I put a time limit of two hours on it. Two hours and two hundred euros. We said we’d pretty much stick to Passeig de Gracia and we started off by perving over all the designer garmz…

El Corte Ingles with Poppy Dinsey

Determined I wasn’t going to spend my entire budget on one item, I didn’t even let myself enter the likes of Loewe and Adolfo Domínguez. The first store to lure me in was El Corte Ingles, mainly for the fab beauty department. I’ve been on a skincare high recently and I wanted to see if they carried any niche Spanish brands that I may not have tried. But before I knew it I was half an hour into my time budget (eeeep!) so I headed out empty handed, having decided I really should stick to fashion and accessories rather than a whole heap of moisturisers.

We headed to Mango next, which went rather brilliantly I have to say. I could have spent the full budget in there (hell, I could have spent 20,000 euros in there!) but I reigned it in. Mango isn’t killer expensive in the UK, but the prices are SO much better in Spain.

I bought a jacket, cape and two jumpers…

Shopping at Mango Barcelona with Poppy Dinsey

I am slightly in love with all four of them, but the pinstripe jacket is VERY cool on. All of their ‘Suit’ range was great actually.

From Mango we went to Swatch, which I appreciate is Swiss not Spanish! I always associate Swatch with being abroad though, I think it’s because as a kid I only knew the brand from airports, whereas now I see their little stores all over the world. I bought a Swatch when I was in Melbourne earlier this year and have worn it endlessly, so I wanted to get one from the same range in Barcelona to act as a nice souvenir that I could enjoy every day.

This was the one I went for…

Keeping Time with Swatch in Barcelona

But the Swatch coupled with the Mango haul did mean there wasn’t much budget left!

I could hear Zara calling my name, but we checked out some of the other great Spanish high street brands on Passeig de Gracia before caving. We went in Pull & Bear, Bershka and Stradivarius – whilst I lamented that I’m probably a bit too old for Stradivarius now *sob*.

Although the boyf had done pretty darn well in Mango H.E already, he was ready to tackle Zara menswear (it was SO crazy busy in there) and I was ready to put my last few euros to good use.

Shopping Success in Barcelona with Poppy Dinsey

I wanted all the coats in Zara, typically, but having spent nearly my entire budget already (including on a coat!) I had to resist so headed down to Zara Home to see if there were any lovely trinkets I could afford. Zara Home is such a flippin pleasure, I’m so glad we have a few stores in London carrying it now. Still, it’s cheaper in Spain and I managed to stretch my very last cents to get me this gorge candle, eye mask and perfume…

Shopping Extras

All in all, a very successful trip!

Back to the Hotel Arts after the Bareclona Shopping Spree

I couldn’t recommend the shopping in Barcelona more highly, def give yourself a few hours to enjoy the boutiques and high street stores if you’re ever in the city – even if it’s just to walk past Gaudi’s creations!

x

A Foodie’s Guide to London


This month we’re all about the amazing city of London and exploring all those hidden gems the city has to offer!

We’re concentrating on the foodie’s guide to the city – finding all those utterly delicious places to eat and drink that may be a little bit off the beaten path.

For a round up and some serious travel-inspiration have a watch of our recent video – we set off around London with lots of great recommendations from London locals to find those secret foodie hot-spots.







A guide to food and drink in London by hotel.info
Ever wondered where the best places for food and drink are in London? Or perhaps where the hidden gems are hiding? We’ve been exploring the city with a London blogger, asking them to point out their favourite food haunts. So now you’ll have some amazing places to spend your lunch money next time you’re in town!

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The Most Haunted Hotels in the UK

Checking into these hotels is guaranteed to give you the goosebumps

most_haunted_UK_hotels





Spend the night if you dare, at these fine establishments [insert maniacal laughter]!

Already spent the night with a poltergeist? Tell us all about that frightful night in the comments below.



10.) Ruthin Castle Hotel, Denbigshire, Wales

3-star hotel offering doubles starting at £121 for Halloween weekend.
“BOO”k here

9.) The Georgian House Hotel, London SW1V

4-star hotel offering doubles starting at £124 for Halloween weekend.
“BOO”k here

8.) Bestwood Lodge Hotel, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire

3-star hotel offering doubles starting at £40 for Halloween weekend. “BOO”k here

7.) Ackergill Tower Castle Hotel, Wick, Caithness, Scotland

5-star hotel offering doubles starting at £249 for Halloween weekend. “BOO”k here

6.) Coombe Abbey Hotel, Coventry, Warwickshire

4-star hotel offering doubles starting at £75 for Halloween weekend. “BOO”k here

5.) Dunkenhalgh Hotel & Spa, Blackburn, Lancashire

4-star hotel offering doubles starting at £68 for Halloween weekend.
“BOO”k here

4.) Tudor House Hotel, Tewksbury, Gloucestershire

3-star hotel offering doubles starting at £49 for Halloween weekend. “BOO”k here

3.) Grange Langham Court Hotel, London W1B

4-star hotel offering doubles starting at £179 for Halloween weekend. “BOO”k here

2.) Pengethley Manor, Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire

3-star hotel offering doubles starting at £60 for Halloween weekend.“BOO”k here

1.) The Feathers Hotel, Ludlow, Shropshire

3-star hotel offering doubles starting at £115 for Halloween weekend. “BOO”k here





***Prices and availabilty are subject to change***

hotel.info iPhone-Mania

iPhone 5s launch in London and Berlin

hotel.info Facebook iPhone Giveaway

hotel.info spent the night in Berlin and London and braved the weather to be able to get our hands on one of the first iPhones avialable.

Camping out in Covent Garden, we asked the iPhone supporters what their perfect night in bed would be. In Berlin we even brought a bed a long for those feeling a bit sleepy!


Now it’s your chance

Head over to the iPhone post at the hotel.info Facebook page and simply answer the question, “What would be your most extreme one night stay for an iPhone?” with a comment and you will be entered to win your very own iPhone 5s!!!

Learn more about the contest here:
Contest Terms and Conditions