Chic hotels, a kosher cruise and solo trips
La Pedrera, Gaudi’s spectacular building in the centre of Barcelona: visit on Crystal Cruise’s kosher voyage
The Israeli press is claiming that four Israeli hotels are to lose their Sheraton branding. Starwood, the international chain which owns the brand — along with a number of other premium brands such as St Regis, Westin, and Meridien — is alleged to have decided to remove its brand from the beachside Sheraton Moriah Tel Aviv, Sheraton Plaza Jerusalem, and the Tiberias and Eilat hotels. The chic Sheraton City Tower and the gorgeously refurbished Sheraton Tel Aviv will retain the brand name (www.starwoodhotels.com).
- The latest edition of the Chic Retreats book is just out, featuring more than 250 luxury boutique hotels around the world. Reassuringly, their definition of a “boutique” hotel is 40 rooms or fewer rather than the misleading (and usually self-declared) definition of small(ish) hotel with few amenities. The book is crammed with colour pictures and information on the location, facilities and room rates. And when you purchase a copy (£20) it comes with a Chic Retreats membership card which entitles you to benefits as well as a reduction of up to 10 per cent off room rates. Buy online at www.chicretreats.com.
- Asia specialist Travel Indochina is offering some of its most popular trips for solo travellers. There are several departures on two of the most popular tours — a 10-day Vietnam trip and a 14-day Cambodia-Vietnam combo. The trips encourage solos to travel as if with friends, with dinner and pre-dinner drinks. Prices are from £1,580 (single occupancy) include accommodation, internal flights, transport, sightseeing and guides, but not international flights (www.travelindochina.co.uk; 01865 268940).
- Hendon-based travel agent, Travelink is offering a glatt kosher cruise with upscale line Crystal Cruises. The cruise, aboard Crystal Serenity from August 21 to September 2, sails from Barclona, calling at Monte Carlo (with an overnight stop), Florence, Rome, Sorrento, Scicily, Dubrovnik, and finally to Venice where there is another overnight stay. The cost is from $6,896 (£4,169) per person, based on two sharing (020 8 931 8000; www.travelinkuk.com)
- If you are thinking of heading to Tel Aviv this summer to experience Israel’s coolest city, ISSTA are offering some tempting deals, including a week at the city’s gorgeously refurbished Dan Panorama from £907 per person, and the Rimonim Optima from £756 per person. Prices are based on two sharing and include breakfast and flights (www.isstadirect.com; 0800 032 0458).
- For those who want to take a break with the whole family, Elite Hotels are extending their “Grandparents Stay Free” offer until the end of August. Two-night breaks start from £760 and include accommodation — one room for parents and kids, another (deluxe) for grandparents — with breakfast for all. Dinner each evening is also included — but only for parents. Hotels include the magnificent Luton Hoo in Bedfordshire (so handy for an overnight stay before or after an El Al flight into Luton); Tylney Hall, Hampshire; Ashdown Park, East Sussex and the Grand Hotel, Eastbourne (www.elitehotels.co.uk).
- Kids can celebrate the summer solstice, Scandinavian style, at Legoland Windsor’s Viking Midsummer Fest this weekend. Activities on June 20 and 21 include re-enactments of Viking battles, encampments where kids can get an insight into the lives of Viking warriors and comedy Vikings. All kids who go to the park dressed as Vikings and princesses (and visit sponsors, VisitDenmark, stand) can enter a draw to win a family trip to Denmark worth £2,000 (www.legoland.co.uk)
- Silversea’s newest ultra-luxury ship, Silver Spirit — set to explore some 20 countries and 45 ports on her 91-day inaugural voyage — will also have some seriously starry celebrities on board, including John Cleese, who will join the Buenos Aires to Santiago sector from February 20, and astronaut Dr Kathryn Sullivan (Los Angeles to New York sector, April 2). Departing from Fort Lauderdale on January 21, the new liner will visit South America and the Mexican Riviera before crossing the Panama Canal and sailing north to New York City (www.silversea.com; 0844 770 9030).