By my estimation, if I stood in a certain position and stretched out my arms diagonally, I could simultaneously touch the dark wood concierge’s desk that sits to the left of the doorway of this Georgian town house and the white, dark wood-topped curvy reception desk a little way in on the right side of the small lobby.
Few of us need a particular reason to visit Tuscany but, if you do, the Puccini Opera Festival, commemorating the 90th year since the Italian maestro died, should do the trick.
There is, certainly, nowhere better to enjoy Puccini’s soaring operatic melodies than on warm nights under a moon-lit sky at an open-air amphitheatre on the edge of Lake Massaciuccoli in Torre del Lago.
Friends were sceptical when I told them of my plans to visit Berlin. And it wasn't hard to understand why. Paris has Versailles and food, Rome has the Colosseum and fashion, Athens has the Acropolis and antiquity, Madrid has the Prado and flamenco.
There are 600 acres of land surrounding this remote but very stately home in St Laois. Parked by its lake are bikes and golf buggies but the best way to look around is by pony and trap. The driver, Lionel, points out the estate’s parish church, various follies, such as the viewing tower built to create jobs during the potato famine, the grottos and hidden gardens.
I had just turned into the side street from Dublin’s famous Grafton Street to the Westbury when I saw it. I instantly recognised the life size statue of Dublin-bred Phil Lynott. I was still humming “The Boys are Back in town” when I got to the reception desk on the first floor. “A fan of Thin Lizzy are you?” asked Eddie, the concierge in a charming Irish lilt.
When you are alone in a strange town, spending a few nights there can seem a little, lonely. So on a recent budget trip to Worcester, I shied away from the faceless chain hotels, opting instead for a bed and breakfast.
I found one in the village of Ladywood, a few minutes drive from town and noisy local pubs. At the every least, I reasoned, I would be in pleasant surroundings.