To ordinary Britons from the city, the Lake District is a place of tranquil beauty. To the hundreds of Jewish orphans who arrived there from the death camps in 1945 to start a new life, it was nothing less than paradise.
Given all the chocoholics in the world, it's surprising it took so long for a hotel to arrive that is dedicated to their whims, and OD'ing on the sweet stuff is not hard to do at the 13-room Chocolate Boutique Hotel in the West Cliff area of Bournemouth.
An Edwardian house painted Milky Bar cream piped in chocolate brown, its rooms are named for the varieties foodies are likely to seek out in their local Waitrose.
It only opens today, yet half of Britain is already geared up for Alice in Wonderland fever. The new film has inspired catwalk creations, and now it's hoped it will also inspire tourists.
Everyone knows the fictional Alice dreamt of her surreal world while napping by the Thames, but director Tim Burton's wild interpretation of Lewis Carroll's book was based on locations in Devon and Cornwall, while the Carroll trail itself starts in Cheshire.
As a professional stressbuster, Rabbi Marcia Plumb is used to being greeted with the heartfelt cry: “Houston, we have a problem.” After all, the Texas-born guru has made Jewish angst the focus of her life’s work since leaving the USA, being ordained and setting up in London as a spiritual coach.
No British hotel is quite so bound up with its home town as the Randolph (which we are now supposed to call the Macdonald Randolph since it fell under ownership of the Scottish hotel group).
You could blame this on Inspector Morse (an episode of the iconic ITV series was filmed here and Morse's creator, Colin Dexter, is a regular in the Morse Bar).However, the hotel was famous long before TV became the norm - it was a favourite for decades with Oxford's flamboyant academics.
It is Friday night, and guests are coming for dinner. You do not know them well but you would like to impress them. Chopped liver, lockshen soup and roast chicken suddenly seem a tad old fashioned — and yet you hesitate to deviate from the norm in case your guests are actually looking forward to a traditional menu on Shabbat.
In a town centre overloaded with the baroque, The Ring Hotel is a breath of fresh air. Aficionadoes of Vienna will know that an edgy, modern city lurks below the veneer of olde worlde grandeur, but until recently you had to head into distant neighbourhoods to discover the handful of hip boutique hotels already in place.
Once envisaged as a grand Georgian port on the Durham coast, Seaham segued into a mining village before the pits closed 30 years ago. Now the black beaches have given way to a romantic wild coastal strip, the little town is to be revitalised by a new marina and Seaham Hall, where Lord Byron wrote his Hebrew Melodies, has metamorphosed into one of the hospitality jewels of north-east England.
When Jackie Benjamin gave birth to her first son 18 years ago, the last thing she expected was a descent into manic depression. “I felt elated and euphoric, and so keen to write down all the details of Alex’s birth I didn’t feel like sleeping,” says the Birmingham-based lawyer.
But gradually she became more and more fraught trying to breastfeed, while the lack of sleep made her “so tired, I thought I was going to die. No-one mentioned they thought I was going mad, but when a social worker called, I did wonder if they wanted to section me or take my child away.”
It may not be any kind of proof that Amy Winehouse is back on the straight and narrow, but her father sets a lot of store by the fact she will be at the family Seder this year — and, with luck, not touching even a ritual drop of her four glasses of wine.
For his November trip to London, Dr Norman Rosenthal has packed a very important piece of bedside equipment with his shaving kit and toothbrush. It is the size of a paperback, but it is not a book or even an alarm clock — it’s a portable lightbox.
“I don’t go anywhere without it,” says the man who learned the hard way that he needed a daily turbo-infusion of wattage to get him through the winter. For Rosenthal is the man who discovered that diminishing daylight brings on SAD — the seasonal affective disorder which translates to one in five of us as winter blues.
One effect of Istanbul’s stint as European Capital of Culture 2010 will be an opportunity to showcase its shiny modern face. The city, best known for ancient Byzantine and Ottoman splendours, is actually a hip, thrusting metropolis with great designer shopping and a burgeoning contemporary art scene. But with a famous historic skyline dominated by domes, minarets and fortified Ottoman palaces, 21st century Istanbul remains largely unknown.
It took almost a decade after it became a hip, clubbing capital for Reyjkavik to get the hostelry it was crying out for. The 101 Hotel, named for the central postal district where it stands, remains the height of cool. Where else could you bump into Bjork in the bar or find yourself sharing the hot tub with visiting rock stars?
You wouldn’t think you could spend a morning in Greece, an afternoon in Rome and a lazy Sunday in ancient Egypt — all without leaving Oxford. You wouldn’t know it because the Ashmolean — a once fusty, dusty collection of curios crammed into display cases — didn’t let you know. But that place is a planet removed from the marvellous museum which has just reopened.
More than £61m has gone into transforming Britain’s oldest museum into what must surely be the best showcase the nation has of the world’s most important civilisations.
It was a legacy she never expected to put to the test. But when her husband was diagnosed with prostate cancer, Paula Davis felt instinctively that her grandfather’s dietary cure was the best bet for his survival.
“Conventional treatments can have unpleasant side effects like impotence and incontinence; it was Brian’s body, and he felt a treatment aiming to rid the body of disease through diet was a saner approach,” says the granddaughter of Dr Max Gerson.
Arriving at the Montefiore in the evening to be confronted by buzz and beautiful people, you could be forgiven for thinking your taxi had dropped you at a restaurant rather than a hotel. For this Tel Aviv boutique hostelry is, essentially, a restaurant with rooms. And those rooms display the most contemporary brand of chic that hotel-dwellers in Israel have ever been offered.
Considering its vibrancy, beauty and historical treasures, it’s amazing that Durham is not a major fixture on the tourist trail. One can only assume it’s because this little jewel of a city and county are squashed between the majesty of Yorkshire, which trumpets its offerings much louder, and the glorious Northumberland coast.
But this tiny place — which has been dubbed the best to visit in the UK — won’t be hiding its light under a bushel much longer.
Chandeliers, halogen lighting and three loos are not standard equipment in most Cornish self-catering cottages. You can find slate floors, whitewashed walls and other rustic accoutrements in many holiday homes, but all too often accompanied by damp, draughts and ill-equipped kitchens.
But Gambridge Barn, described by Classic Cottages as “chic”, actually exceeds expectations. Claire, who owns the property, has made a new stable conversion her decorating dream — and for fans of smart contemporary living, it works.