Travel

India – A country with over 22 languages!

India has 22 official languages, namely Assamese, Bengali, Bodo, Dogri, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Maithili, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Santhali, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu.

There are also hundreds of other less prominent languages like Tulu, Bhojpuri and Ladakhi that are the main spoken language of some places.

Hindi

Hindi, natively spoken by 41% of the population, is the primary tongue of the people from the "Hindi Belt"(including the capital, Delhi) in Northern India. Many more people speak it as a second language. In addition, it is the main working language of the Central Government, and often serves as a common language among Indians with different native languages. If you can afford only one phrasebook, pick up the Hindi one as it will allow you to get by in most of India. The main exceptions are Tamil Nadu and the Northeast. Avoid speaking Hindi in these places, as the language is often met with varying degrees of hostility from the locals.

However, if possible, you are better off picking up as many words of the local language of the place you are going to - people are proud of their culture and language and will appreciate it if an outsider makes an attempt to communicate in it. Learn a few basics before you go with a Learn to Speak Hindi book.

Generally speaking, most official signs are trilingual in the local language (if not Hindi), Hindi and English, with the exception of Tamil Nadu where they are bilingual in Tamil and English.

 

English

English is widely spoken in major cities and around most tourist places, as well as in most government offices, and acts as the lingua franca among educated Indians. English has been spoken by Indians long enough that it has begun evolving its own rhythm, vocabulary, and inflection, much like French in Africa. Indeed, much has recently been made of subcontinental writers such as Arundhati Roy, Vikram Seth, and Salman Rushdie. The English you are likely to hear in India will be heavily influenced by British English, although spoken with the lilting stress and intonation of the speaker's other native language. Indians can usually tell regional English accents apart.

One of the most delightful quirks of Indian English is the language's adherence to Pre-1950s British English which to speakers in North America and Britain will sound oddly formal. Another source of fascination and intrigue for travelers is the ubiquitous use of English for cute quips in random places. One relatively common traffic sign reads, "Speed thrills, but kills". On the back of trucks everywhere you'll find "use dipper at night" or "Sound Horn".

 

Indians are adopting more and more native words into their English. A lot of these are already well known to speakers elsewhere. Chai (tea), Guru (learned teacher/master), cummerbund (literally waist-tie), Nirvana (extinction of the separative ego) and avatar (God in human form) are words that have left their original subcontinental home. However, Indians are using English loan words in their native languages at an even more rapid pace. As India modernizes blazingly fast, it has taken from English words for modern objects that simply did not exist a few decades ago. However, more importantly, bilingual Indians in informal conversation will often switch unpredictably between English and their native language when speaking to similar polyglots, thus effectively communicating in a hybridized language that relies on the listener's ability to speak both languages. A bilingual speaker in Delhi, might for example, say "mera fever bahut bad hai" (my fever is very bad) which mixes English with Hindi 50-50 in spite of the fact that perfectly good words exist for both 'fever' and 'bad' in Hindi. This hybrid is sometimes referred to as 'Hinglish.' It seems that English and Hindi are indeed converging among the bilingual sections of society. While English, as a distinct language, is here to stay for now, it appears that it will eventually over hundreds of years be absorbed into the vast cultural fabric of the subcontinent.

 

English speaking Indians may also seem commanding to a westerner. You may hear "come here," "sit here," "drink this," "bring me that" which may sound direct and demanding to the point of being rude to northern Europeans and Americans, but is in no way meant to be impolite.

Non-verbal communication is also important. Much has been made of the confusing Indian head nod for yes and no, but the only important thing to understand is that Indians have different nods for yes, ok and no.

  • If they are shaking their head back and forth, they mean yes.
  • If they are nodding their head in a tilting motion from right to left, they mean okay indicating acceptance. The movement is in a figure eight, and looks identical to the western nod for "Sort of".
  • If they shake their head from left to right twisting it about the vertical axis, they mean no.
  • There are differences in the way these signs are used in northern and southern India. The back to forth is yes and a vigorous left-right shift is no in North, though latter may be construed for yes in southern states like Tamilnadu. Look for verbal cues that accompany these sounds in south (like 'aaan' for yes ) in south to get the correct meaning.
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Top Things To Do in Chicago: A Weekend Guide

Chicago is a huge city and a fairly popular one in North America; and though last year alone I transited through the city 14 times I had never actually set foot outside of the airport. So needless to say, I was quite curious and excited to grab a camera and have my cousin host me while I played tourist in a city the size of Toronto.

I absolutely loved it!  Chicago has all of the architectural wonders, nightlife, and food scene of New York City but it is matched with the history, class and feel of London – plus there are a lot of parks, piers, colors, and squares so you never feel as congested as you may in Manhattan.

There are 7 things I would definitely recommend doing if you are in the Windy City for a brief period of time.  There are many more but as I grew up in a household of artists I try not to see every museum each time I go away, so the reason those are left off isn’t because I am culturally daft, but more so because I like to admire a different form of art – that which is visible outside.

 

So if you have two days in Chicago I recommend these 7 things:

1. Have Pizza

More specifically, have pizza at Giordano’s, this popular and famous deep dish style pizzeria serves you more of a pie than it does a traditional pizza. You will wait about 35 mins (while this may seem long it is completely worth the wait, and when you see the size of this thing and how much cheese exists in it you realize cooking time is key) and when you finally taste it your mouth erupts into fireworks at what is quite possibly the best mix of crust, cheese, sauce, sausage, onion and pepper ever.  It really is great, I think the proper term is stuffed pizza, but basically its a platter of awesome. The pies themselves are quite heavy (both weight and content wise) so my cousin and I took the second half of our pizza to go, and here is how I know it is a good pizza – it tastes just as good for breakfast the next morning. If you are in the windy city – allocate at least an hour of your day and check them out: www.giordanos.com

 

2. Picnic

Walk over to the Planetarium (again this is a situation where if you want to go in – by all means do so) and sit outside eating a sandwich while you are mesmerized by the magic that is the Chicago skyline. It is very comforting and soothing just to sit there (the gorgeous weather we had definitely helped) and star out on the various eras of architecture – just beautiful & having freshly baked cookies also helps with the whole experience

 

3. Sit Under the Cloud Gate with a Camera

This sculpture, which is part of Millennium park, was built in 2004 with an original proposed cost of $9 million yet somehow ended up with a price tag of (wait for it) $32 million which obviously  was not well received originally by the tax payers of Chicago. It’s beauty has since smoothed things over with Chicagoans? Chicagoites? Chicagans? (one of the above). It is made up of 168 stainless steel plates welded together with a highly polished exterior (covered always in finger prints) that has no visible seams. Really beautiful – and if anyone has ever seen the movie “The Sphere” it has a similar effect of leaving you staring in wonder as you marvel at it’s construction and seamless beauty.

 

4. Walk Around Navy Pier

like most seaside cities Chicago has that cheesy tourist spot with trinkets, rides and games galore. However there’s is done with a little bit of class, yes there is a Ferris wheel, boat ride, and the overly large sized McDonald’s but like the rest of the city it isn’t densely littered with stands or buildings and it’s sparsity gives you a feeling of being a child again walking through a playground. It is colorful, fun, and by the water – simple but really all I need in life

(ps for an added bonus go inside the food stand to Gorton’s Popcorn and order the Chicago mix – your taste buds will thank you for this delicious mix of caramel and cheese that you would otherwise think is impossible to blend together)

 

5. Take an Architectural Cruise through the City

it really is a city full of architectural wonder – there are buildings from various designers that all compliment each other, and even the Trump tower was built to play homage to the three buildings in it’s surroundings. An archictural cruise will take you on a boat that allows you to see the city from the river and navigating under many of its 38 bridges. The guides are very fun and informative and it  is great to learn the history of buildings, architects, designers and the city itself while you take close looks at buildings you admire from the great vantage point by the Planetarium

 

6. Have a Drink at the Signature Room

Nothing feels more rewarding than having a cocktail on the 95th floor of the John Hancock Building after a full day of sightseeing, the views are incredible and you can a panoramic display of beauty that is Chicago. Note if you are a female, the very best view comes from the ladies’ washroom which is unobstructed and kept spotlessly clean.

 

7.  Visit Buckingham Fountain

a.k. the fountain in the opening credit of "Married with Children", and while the show was never one I enjoyed the fountain is beautiful and creates a beautiful centerpiece to the skyline behind.

 

While I am sure there are a million more things to see in Chicago, and I will go back to slowly start making that list shorter and see the family more frequently these are the ones I would recommend for travelers who, like me, save money with ridiculous stop overs and have a few hours to spend in Chicago.

If you're also there for a short time and want to pack in as much as possible, I'd recommend geting a Chicago cityPASS or joining a Hop on Hop off bus tour - they cover the main highlights of the city.

It really is a beautiful city and I cant wait to see more of it on my next layover!

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Things You Must Do When Visiting Menorca, Spain

You have the Balearic Islands, and then you have Menorca. Do not mistaken this beautiful treasure as a party island or 'just' a beach destination.

Menorca is filled with hidden treasures, beautiful historical monuments, old buildings and archeological sites. The culture in Menorca is remarkable and in order to really embrace your time spent on the island, there's 10 things you must do before departure.

 

Top things to do on Menorca:

1. Enjoy a full menu meal at a local restaurant

This is not your typical menu dish, but a never ending meal of appetizers, main courses, soups, desserts, liquor and coffee. Be sure to show up for your Spanish meals with a full appetite because there’s no way you’re going to have room for seconds.

 

2. Buy a pair of Pretty Ballerinas or Castell Menorca sandals

While Menorca may be a small island, there’s certainly no shortage of high quality shoes in the area. Menorca sandals are typical everyday sandals to wear around town and Pretty Ballerinas are produced globally at a steep price (even Kate Middleton chooses Pretty Ballerinas to wear out and about). Since the factory is in Menorca you can get stellar deals on some seriously high quality shoes.

 

3. Drink Cava and Pomada until the sun goes down

There’s nothing like drinking bubbly wine and freshly squeezed lemon and gin while relaxing on the island of Menorca. You’ll find these delicious drinks at just about any restaurant around town.

 

4. Learn the local dialects

There is quite some history around the people in Menorca speaking a slang of their own, and some of which has been adapted from the English language. It’s quite a neat thing to pick up on, especially when you speak Spanish yourself.

 

5. Spend a full day on the beautiful beaches

Can we name a few? Sure! Cala Galdana, Marcarella, Macarelleta, Turqueta, Mitjana, Mitjaneta, Trebaluger, Fustam y Escorxada, and the list goes on!

 

6. Explore a handful of archeological sites

There are over 1,500 archeological sites across the island, some that can be spotted from a mile away, others buried beneath the rubble. Depending on how deep you want to start exploring, there’s many beautiful archeological sites to be found!

 

7. Walk the old town of Ciutadella

The town of Ciutadella is not the capital any longer, but it’s still very much known as the historical capital due to the beautifully designed architecture, the Cathedral Ciudadela, the incredible archways around town and the historical city centre, Palacio Salort.

 

8. Get a history lesson on the myths of the island

There are numerous myths floating around the island about the stashes of gold stolen by Turkish pirates or the potential cannibals who roamed the island in ancient times or even wild stories related to the 2,300 year old vessels uncovered near the shore.

 

9. Roam the 6 km port of Mahón

Take your pick between tons of delicious restaurants like La Josefina for some lunch and coffee and then take a stroll along the water’s edge.

 

10. Super keen? Travel the entire coast by foot or kayak!

It is possible and in fact it is a rather popular thing to do. Most people take about one week to complete the 186 km coastal trail called the Cami de Cavalls.

 

Have you explored Menorca before? What other hot topics would you add to the list?

 

Travel tip shared by Jenna for Travel Dudes.

The #MustSeeMenorca trip was created and managed by iambassador in association with the Spain and Menorca Tourism Boards. Travel Dudes maintains full editorial control of the content published on this site.

Great Motorhome Movies to Inspire your Next Aventure

We all know that owning a motorhome means you can go almost anywhere and be able to stay in different locations surrounded by home comforts. It’s convenient and can somewhat reduce the stress of organising a family trip, especially if you look after your motorhome and have it serviced regularly.

Motorhomes have been a great part of family fun for years, so much so that they’ve become a focal point in some popular films.

These are some of our favourites:

Meet The Fockers (2004)

Who can forget this comedy classic with Ben Stiller and Robert De Niro? With two families about to become in-laws, they decide to spend some time together. Jack Byrnes (De Niro) chooses to meet everyone in his brand new motorhome, or RV if you’re American! Cue a whole host of dramas and hilarious events that occur along the way.

 
We’re The Millers (2013)

In one of the latest films to include a motorhome, David (Jason Sudeikis) packs his fake family into a motorhome to cross the border into Mexico to pay off his debts to a thug after being robbed and losing his stash. To escape any suspicion, his fake family are supposed to act as a smokescreen and portray an image of a happy family off for a holiday. Safe to say it doesn’t all go exactly to plan!
 
 

About Schmidt (2002)

Jack Nicholson faces a crossroads in his life when losing his wife just after purchasing their first motorhome. He decides to take a journey in it to visit his estranged daughter and convince her not to marry her fiancé as he feels she can do much better. An entertaining film that showcases the best use for a motorhome; reconnecting with family.
 
 

Paul (2011)

Comedy duo Simon Pegg and Nick Frost team up as two sci-fi enthusiasts who are on their way to San Diego’s Comic-Con in their rented motorhome. However, an alien named Paul (Seth Rogen) who has been living in a military base in America has had enough of Earth and hops on the first handy vehicle to escape – no guesses as to which vehicle that is! What follows is a crazy plan to help Paul return to his spaceship.
 
 

Breaking Bad (2008-2013)

This one's not a film, but has to be included! While it may not be the most legal or recommended use of a motorhome, you can’t ignore the phenomenon that was Breaking Bad. An ex-high school teacher and a dropout student team together to make a fortune from making illicit substances. A TV show that gripped the nation with each episode, the motorhome was the home for their activities to avoid getting caught. While it’s certainly an entertaining programme, we ask that you don’t try this at home!

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Top Functional & Stylish Daypacks

Functional or stylish? We’ve all had to make that decision before regarding what type of daypack we should get for our next big trip.

While deep down we know we should go for functional, the strong desire to still look good while traipsing through the airport duty free section often over-rides. What ultimately happens is sore shoulders from bad straps and frustration when you can’t find anything in your bag and have to unpack everything just to find your passport!

Luckily, those days are over with a huge range of both functional and stylish daypacks on the market. These daypacks can be used for all sorts of activities, from carry-ons to bags used for your daily commute. You can now look stylish while perfectly carry everything that you need while on the go.

It can be tricky to find a decent daypack though, so we’ve done the hard work for you and asked around to find the top functional & stylish daypacks currently on the market.

 

Top Functional & Stylish Daypacks

Listed in order of price (from lowest to highest).

1. The North Face Vault

This one is for the slightly sportier folk. It is one of North Face’s slightly less rugged options. Featuring a FlexVent, suspension system with compression-moulded shoulder straps and a ventilated back pad. It also has a 15” laptop sleeve in the main compartment and comes in a variety of colours and patterns.
Buy on Amazon for $55

 

2. Jansport Hatchet Backpack

This daypack comes in a variety of colours and patterns, from floral designs to two-tone colours. It fits up to 15” laptops and has a spacious interior with various compartments. The padded straps make it comfortable to carry for long periods of time.
Buy on Amazon for $60

 

3. Eastpak Austin Backpack

This daykpack can easily be used for both the office and exploring the great outdoors. It has a padded back and shoulders, making it really comfortable to wear for long periods of time. It has a drawstring close and buckle-strap for aesthetic purposes. The main compartment is roomy with a padded laptop sleeve and two side pockets. It comes in a variety of colours, including a few fun floral designs.
Buy on Amazon for $77

 

4. Chrome Mazer Vigil

Chrome bags are built for the road - from city streets to forests and mountains. The Chrome Mazer Vigil is a water-resistant urban expedition pack. It features a padded laptop sleeve fitting a 15" Macbook Pro, if you should feel like working in the woods or to bring it to your (coworking) office. You will also find hidden reflective attachment loops for any extra gear that you carry around. The adjustable ergo straps with EVA back panel make sure that you're comfortable when walking around. We liked the zip at the top, which makes it very easy to access the inside of the bag.
Buy on Amazon for $180

 

5. Sydney Paige Guidi

This stylish daypack has three external zip pockets and a spacious main compartment with large laptop fleece-lined padded sleeve. The main section has a drawstring and magnetic closure, and the back and shoulder straps are padded. What’s even more awesome about this daypack is that for every bag bought, a matching backpack will be filled with school supplies and donated to a child in need!
Buy on Amazon for $90

 

6. Herschel Supply Co. Little America Mid-Volume Backpack

This Herschel pack has a fleece lined laptop sleeve pocket, as well as ventilated mesh back padding, keeping you cool while on the go. The front magnetic buckles give it an old-fashioned rucksack feel, and this one also comes in various colours and designs (including the popular floral design). There aren’t as many compartments as some other bags, with only the main section and one outside pocket.
Buy on Amazon for $100

 

7. Sandqvist Harald Backpack

This Swedish daypack was designed to work well for both Nordic escapes and city galivanting – while still looking stylish. The interior laptop pocket will fit a 13” laptop and there is a big exterior pocket that will hold a decent amount of goodies to save you rummaging in the main compartment. It comes in petrol blue, blue, and black.
Buy on Amazon for $219

 

8. Fjallraven Kanken Laptop Backpack

This backpack features a funky square look and comes in a range of bright colours – don’t worry, they also have the generic black and grey if that’s more your vibe. There is a laptop sleeve in the main compartment, along with a document sleeve. On the outside there’s a small external pocket where you can store your other goodies.
Buy on Amazon for $115

 

9. Heimplanet Monolith Minimal Daypack

If you’re all about living the minimalist life then this daypack is for you. They come in either black, navy, or white. While it looks super basic from the outside, it’s not lacking any features. It is built from 500D Cordura and lined with water-resistant YKK zippers. Overall it can carry 18 litres, and can fit a 15” laptop in its internal sleeve.
Buy on Amazon for $120

 

10. Peak Design Everyday Backpack 30L

For travelers that travel with a lot of equipment - this backpack was made for you! Not only is this backpack weatherproof and comfortable to wear, but its aesthetic versatility is hard to match. The expandable design offers storage to hold 2 DSLR camera bodies with 3-6 lenses. The padded laptop sleeve can hold laptops up to 16" and there are 3 Flexhold Dividers that can be used to protect drones, lenses and cameras. There are also many exterior and interior pockets to carry all of the other small things that you take with you.
Buy on Amazon for $289

 

Travel tip shared by Bridget Langer for Travel Dudes

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Great Alternative Bars in Raval, Barcelona

This blog looks to introduce you to alternative bars in the neighbourhood of El Raval that the average tourist would never see.

The aim being that you can mix with locals in environments that welcome people from all walks of life. These reccommendations are for open-minded people that are searching for unique experiences when they walk into a bar, here in Barcelona.

 

Here are 5 great alternative bars in Raval, Barcelona

33/45

33/45 is one of the most intruiging bars you can see in Barcelona, situated on Carrer de Joaquín Costa, this neon lit bar is full of quirky furniture and offers visitors a chance to have a new bar experience. Offering reasonably priced drinks, the bar offers itself to expressive people that do not take themselves too seriously.

Opening every evening until around 2 am (except for midnight on Sundays), 33/45 is an ideal option to anyone wanting to keep the party going around El Raval. This sociable and relaxed environment is encaptured with the unique decoration it has to offer. 

Getting there:

This bar is located at Carrer de Joaquín Costa, 4.

Metro: Liceau (L3), an 8 minute walk / San Antoni (L2) a 5 minute walk

 

Madame Jasmine

Madame Jasmine follows as another alternative bar on offer in El Raval. It is seen as a busy and lively bar that is known for its friendly staff, unusual decoration and for being LGBTQ+ friendly. If you go here with an open-mind you will definitely leave with many great experiences to make your time in Barcelona one to remember! 

Opening from 6:30pm until 3:00am you will be able to visit at a time that suits you best. Places like this show why the locals of Barcelona and El Raval love to party!

Getting there:

This bar is located at Rambla del Raval, 22.

Metro: Para-lel (L2 and L3), a 7 minute walk / Drassens (L3), also a 7 minute walk

 

Nevermind

Nevermind is located slightly North of El Raval and is also known for its decoration, as well as its skater-image. Offering itself to skateboard and Street-wear fans alike in a way that stands out from normal bars or pubs in the city. Being located in a close proximity to Plaza Catalunya makes it extremely accessible, which is good to know considering it is open until 2:30 everyday and 3am on Fridays and Saturdays.

Like to two bars mentioned beforehand, customer experiences speak highly of the staff and the drinks prices alike.

Being situated 5 minutes walking from the Universitat de Barcelona means it attracts many students and young people looking to enjoy themselves on an evening.

Getting there:

This bar is located at Carrer dels Tallers, 68.

Metro: Universitat (L1 and L2), a 3 minute walk / Plaça de Catalunya (L1, L3, L6 and L7), a 7 minute walk

 

Big Bang Bar

The Big Bang Bar is found on Carrer d'En Botella, El Raval. At first glance, this small bar seems to go under the radar and does not immediately jump out to the usual pedestrian. However, you´re not just a usual pedestrian, you are becoming trained in finding these kind of gems in El Raval.

Once you enter the Big Bang, the black and white tiles on the floor combined with the wooden bar take you back in time and gain your full attention. With live music the norm here, this bar converts itself into a very intimate gig that you can enjoy with your partner, friends or family. The dark lighting is pierced with bright lights that really set the ambience as the evening draws in.

An ideal location for a drink at night as it is open from around 9pm until around 2:30 am most evenings, being closed Mondays and Tuesdays. We would urge anyone who enjoys live music with great drinks to visit here.

Getting there:

This bar is located at Carrer d'En Botella, 7.

Metro: Liceu (L3), a 9 minute walk / San Antoni (L2), a 5 minute walk

 

Centric Bar

Lastly, the Centric Bar is the most traditional option of the 5 bars, offering cheap tapas and a very wide range of drinks for you to enjoy in a very sleek and rustic setting. Opening from 8 am (9am Fridays and Saturdays) and closing between 1-2am everyday, this choice enables you to enjoy breakfasts and lunches, as well as tapas and evening meals. 

It is worth noting that the compact design of the bar means that it gets busy quickly here, especially around midday as the lunchtime rush ensues. Despite that, this bar is also reasonably priced and well-staffed to ensure you have a great time.

Getting there:

This bar is located on Carrer de les Ramelleres, 27.

Metro: Universitat (L1 and L2), a 4 minute walk / Plaça de Catalunya (L1, L3, L6 and L7), a 5 minute walk

 

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A Pocket Guide to the Thai Islands

We all crave an island escape... and your choices on which Thai islands to visit are endless.

This comprehensive condensed pocket guide should help make picking which one to visit a little easier. I haven't visited every island in Thailand... Those missing from this guide include the Similan Islands, Koh Lipe, and Koh Lanta... time to start planning my next trip!

 

Here's a guide to Thailand's islands:

Koh Chang and Koh Samet:

The Bangkok crowds' best kept secret, Koh Chang and Koh Samet are favored for their proximity to the city - both under 300km away from BKK, perfect for a weekend getaway. Off the beaten path, they're less developed but still equally as beautiful as other islands.  Think white sandy beaches and luscious tropical jungle... Paradise! Koh Chang is bigger, meaning more hotels and restaurants etc. It's quickly becoming a tourist favorite. The majority of Koh Samet is a national park; a recent 11pm noise ban sees the music stop before midnight… This isn't the place for all night parties.

Choose these if you want an undisturbed getaway and only have time for a quick trip - buses run from Bangkok, including Suvarnabuhmi, to the two piers servicing the islands.

 

Koh Tao:

Divers flock to Koh Tao, a dream surrounded by aquamarine waters and thriving coral reefs. Busiest around full moon - as backpackers trek over from Koh Phangan - it is hedonism's ultimate antidote... This doesn't mean that after a day spent submerged scuba diving, you can't let loose. Sairee is lined with beach bars, and most hotels/hostels in the island's smaller villages have their own bar set ups in place…

Choose this if you want to get PADI certificatied at a bargain price with the added reassurance of international dive instructors. It’s also perfect for a post Full Moon Party detox, the local nightlife's laidback and dissapointment free.

 

Koh Samui:

Koh Samui is one of Thailand's most well known islands. With an airport on the island (budget permitting), ferries can be skipped! A foreign tourist destination, enter the luxury resorts and fast food joints lining Chaweng. If you're mid gap year/backpacking across South East Asia, stay in Chaweng. Home to ArkBar (and their famous pool parties), and outdoor club Green Mango, it's the perfect Full Moon Party warm up. Bophut and Lamai are both under ten minutes away by taxi, close enough to the action but more exclusive.

Choose this if you want an island that doubles as a complete holiday; a great base to explore the surrounding islands and Ang Thong National Park. P.S. whilst not Bangkok's Grand Palace, Wat Plai Laem and Wat Phra Yai - the Big Buddha Temple - are both 10 minutes north of Chaweng and worth stopping at.

 

Koh Phangan:

No introduction's necessary... Koh Phangan's Haad Rin Beach is home to the epic Full Moon Party. Accommodation in Haad Rin itself is generally sub par; one of the only selling points being that they're in walking distance from the action. Beachside resorts are plentiful but a 30 minute drive from Haad Rin. Sadly, Koh Phangan is known just for the Full Moon Party and not much else...

Choose this if you don't want to catch a speedboat back to Koh Samui at 5am post party (I wouldn't recommend this, for safety reasons amongst other things). P.S. if the Full Moon Party leaves you nursing a huge hangover, head to Amsterdam Bar for a lazy day spent poolside with panoramic views, or INFINITY Beach Club, the private cabanas and hammocks a perfect contrast to the hungover hubbub of Haad Rin. Both reachable by taxi.

 

Koh Phi Phi:

I don't know if it's the absence of cars and the fact you can walk everywhere that makes Phi Phi my favorite, or the carefree atmosphere, but something changes every time I arrive. The sheer cliffs of Phi Phi Don (the main island), jut out regally from the azure waters. Ask me to define paradise and I’ll pull out a picture of this place. Yes, it’s succumbed to tourism, but at its heart everything’s the same. It’s easy to see why the islands were chosen as the filming location for The Beach. Side note: Maya Bay really isn’t worth the 200 baht per person entrance fee; avoid tours and rent a long tail boat on Phi Phi, making sure to swim with the monkeys - remember to bring some fruit - on your way to Phi Phi Leh Lagoon - home to some of the bluest waters I’ve yet to come across. No trip's complete without trekking up to the viewpoint. Walk back through the jungle, following the signs, to the secluded Long Beach.

Choose this if you want to feel like you've stumbled across an uninhabited island. Although Phi Phi is no longer untouched, it holds the charm of an era pre mass tourism. P.S. it’s also a major diving hub, and a great place to get PADI certified.

 

Phuket:

Although not a first choice for a small island escape, Phuket has its perks. The resorts here are larger and more plentiful; you’ll find everything from malls to multiple golf courses, and as of July 2016 even an Elephant Sanctuary, scattered across the island. Patong’s nightlife rivals some of Bangkok’s, hosting everything from bars and clubs to the infamous Ping Pong shows, centred around Bangla Road. Head up the coast to Surin and Kamala or south to Karon and Kata, to escape the hedonism and westernized facade. Multiple day tours are on offer to Phi Phi from Phuket, meaning you don't have to overnight there.

Choose this if you don't want to leave behind all the comforts of modern conveniences. Phuket is, like Koh Samui, a great base providing you with plenty of opportunities to get out and explore.

 

Travel tip shared by NextStepTo
nextstepto.com

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Blooming Mad Over the Western Cape West Coast’s Wildflowers

The Western Cape’s wildflower route has become one of South Africa’s most popular attractions.

People are absolutely blooming mad over these flowers – and it’s easy to see why. The flowers that you’ll see along the West Coast and Namaqualand are endemic to the Western Cape, so you will not be able to visit any other place in South Africa that will be as colourful.

Each year, families or young couples drive from near and far to appreciate this short-lived spectacle. Even people who fly from Johannesburg to Cape Town rent a car to embark on the West Coast wildflower route.

Tip: Use the bathroom before leaving home if you’re embarking on a day drive to the West Coast, as public toilets are few and far between.

 

The best viewing times for West Coast wild flowers

Drive the West Coast flower route from the end of August to mid-September to have the best chance of seeing wildflowers in full bloom. Visitors often make the mistake of driving too early or too late in the season and are left disappointed by meagre splashes of colour here and there. Keep in mind that if the sky is cloudy or overcast, the flowers don’t open. Keep your eye on the weather forecast, so that you can plan your trip for a sunny day or perhaps phone the West Coast National Park on the day to check the weather before making the trip: +27 (0) 22 772 2144

 

The quaint towns you’ll come across along the wildflower route

It’s advisable to begin your drive from Cape Town early in the morning, so that by the time you reach the flowers, their petals will have opened. You may also miss some traffic – not guaranteed though!

 

Yzerfontein

Follow the R27 out of Cape Town, driving through Bloubergstrand and Melkbosstrand until you reach the R315 intersection. Turning left will take you to the lovely small town of Yzerfontein where you may see carpets of cheerful white or yellow daisies. Also, keep an eye out for the pretty flowering grasses that glisten in the sunlight. Stop at the beach to admire the azure ocean as you enjoy sipping the hot coffee from the thermos flask you brought along with you.

 

Darling

Driving from Yzerfontein back to the R27/R315 intersection, cross the R27 and follow the R315 to the quaint town of Darling. In 2016, the famous Wild Flower Show takes place from Friday 16 September to Sunday 18 September. You will be welcomed by the burst of colour and fresh perfume of a variety of “pypies”, vygies and daisies, as well as other fynbos species. Often the most beautiful flowers are small and grow close to the ground, so keep your eye on the ground as you wander along the dusty paths. Tickets for the Darling Wildflower Show cost R50p/p for adults and R30p/p for children older than 13. Entry is free for children under the age of 13. Pensioners will pay R30p/p on the Friday. Tickets will be available on the day at the festival door and online at Quicket.co.za.

Return the way you came by driving back to the R27/R315 intersection where you will turn right to follow the R27, which will take you to the West Coast National Park. (Kindly note that road works are currently under way and that there are stop-and-go measures in place, which could delay your journey by up to an hour). The West Coast National Park can also be entered at the second gate situated in Park Street, on the Langebaan side of the park.

 

West Coast National Park

The Potsberg section of the West Coast National Park is where you need to be. Here, over 80 different species of wild flowers are on display. Do not rush the drive because on the way there are wonderful places to braai (bbq) and picnic, with some spots almost on the rocks. Many families gather at these braai areas and enjoy the ocean spray while cooking lunch on the fire (admittedly also battling to keep the fire burning at the same time). These picnic spots are called Kraalbaai, Preekstoel and Uitkyk.

The West Coast National Park’s Geelbek restaurant sells ready-packed picnic baskets if you wish to travel back to the picnic sites, or you can take a seat and order a delicious meal, mostly traditional South African fare.

Tip: While you’re in the West Coast National Park you have to visit Langebaan’s sparkling lagoon.

The West Coast is so inspiring that many South African artists have written songs and poems about its unhurried way of life, beauty and serenity.

 

Tankwa Karoo National Park

If you’re not in a hurry, you can journey onwards to Tankwa Karoo National Park where the beauty of the flowers becomes even more impressive. On the Roggeveld Escarpment, you’ll see gorgeous lilac, white, burned orange, red and pink flowers.

Why not make a weekend of it and stay the night somewhere in the area. Consider one of the small towns along the way, or book accommodation at either the West Coast National Park or Tankwa Karoo National Park.

Tip: Book your accommodation for the popular flower season early in the year.
Photo of Tankwa Karoo National Park

West Coast National Park accommodation:
Tel: +27 (0) 22 772 2144

Tankwa Karoo National Park accommodation:
Tel: +27 (0) 27 341 1927

Iceland: Northern Lights, Fairy Tales and Top Travel Tips

There are so many journeys I am still dreaming of, but this one I know, will always be one of the most meaningful ones to me.

My passion about Iceland has grown over the years. It all started with a thing for fairies.

I read a lot of books about them and I learned, that Iceland even has an elf minister.

Whenever there is a building to be erected, this minister has to check first, if any fairies live on the ground.

If so, there can't anything be built. There happens to be a road for example that winds around a big rock. You couldn't move the rock, because it's a fairy meeting place.

Later, Björk became one of my favourite artists. When I listen to her music, I dream about the vast landscapes, the amazing national parks and of course of Northern Lights.

 

I am always excited to go on a new journey, but this time it's even more thrilling.

Arriving at Reykjavik airport, it feels like time someone pushed the "winter fast forward" button. There is snow and icy pavements, a Christmasy feeling arises. It's about 17:00 and it is completely dark outside. We obviously missed the few hours of daylight today. These days the sun rises at about 10:15 and sets at about 16:15.

Note to ourselves: days must be planned wisely.

Our first excursion day starts with a stroll through Reykjavik. No matter where the wind comes from, I want to pretend it comes from the North Pole. It is sooooo cold. We walk along the boardwalk Sæbraut and pass by Sólfar.

The next building along the way is the impressive Harpa, a beautiful building with many sparkling little windows and a fantastic view onto the harbour. Harpa is a very young concert hall and conference centre. The opening concert was held on May 4, 2011.

It is designed by the Danish firm Henning Larsen Architects in co-operation with Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson, who is one of my absolutely favourites. The structure consists of a steel framework clad with irregularly-shaped glass panels of different colours.

 

Up on a hill in the city centre you find the probably mostly discussed building of the Iceland - the Hallgrímskirkja. While they were certain about the place and even the name of the church from the beginning on, it took a long time and a lot of arguing until its completion.

In 1937 architect Guðjón Samúelsson received the order to build the church. With his house of God he wanted to create a unique building that symbolically combines Iceland's landscapes and modern architecture. The fassade is supposed to show the famous basalt columns. The very high neo-Gothic hall should underline the barren vastness. The white interior should be a symbol for Iceland's many glaciers. One could expect that this intend had as many opponents as proponents.

During the construction (until 1974), church services were held in the basement. Afterwards they happened in a worthier room, but it took another 12 years to finalise the  construcion in 1986. Unbelievable but true, the church still wasn't quite finished. The font and windows were only provisional and needed to be replaced. Finally in 1990 the organ was built.

Today the church is not only used as a church, but likewise for exhibitions or performances. The tower is open for public from 9:00-18:00, daily. We think with this story it is ok to invest 600 ISK to enjoy the view over the city from up here.

 

The day draws to a close, so it's time to hop into the car to drive to the Blue Lagoon. We want to be there for the sunset. Let me tell you, even if you are not a spa lover, you do not want to leave this place again, once you dive into the blue milky water.

The power plant Svartsengi carries water with a temperature of 240°C  from a depth of 2 km. This water is used to heat the surrounding villages and the nearby airport. Furthermore, electricity is produced with its steam.

The remaining water (still with a temperature of 70°C) is gathered in the Blue Lagoon. It is naturally enriched with silica, salt and algea. Combined, they form the lagoon's typical blue-grey water colour. The ground of this lake consists partly of shelly and blue sand. People with skin diseases, especially people suffering from psoriases realize a healing impact of the water. The Bláa lónið today is Iceland's most popular natural bath.

Due to the enlargement of the power plant, the original bathing lake had to vanish. In a minor distance, the new Blue Lagoon was built. To this refurbished and enlarged "Super-Spa" people from all over the world come to relax and make use of the healing earth. 

The waterfall of healing water is used as a natural massage including skin peeling. You can relax in a steam bath built into a artificial lava cave and of course, you can use several saunas as well. More than 120.000 people come each year to spend a few relaxing hours in the Blue Lagoon.

As we walk from the car towards the lagoon with our thick winter coats, hats and scarfs, we cannot imagine to only wear a swim suit in a few minutes and take an outside swim. The second we leave the warm building is tough, but the moment when you dive into the hot water is incredible. For hours we just float through the water, search for the hottest streams and have a drink from the bar (Yes, in the water!).

After this extraordinary spa event, you actually don't want anything, but cuddle into comfortable clothes and go to bed.

 

However, our day is not over yet. At 20:30 we get picked up at our hotel for a Northern Lights excursion. Oh, I wonder for how long I have desperately wished to see those lights. I have always been uncertain, if it will ever happen, because it means travelling north in the winter (too cold, too cold).

Here we are (with 12 fully packed busses, yay), ready to head for one of the most exciting excursions in my life. The omens are favourable, the tour guide says. Much different from the days before, when they couldn’t spot any lights or the tours even had to be cancelled due to bad weather conditions.

We drive out into the dark. We are told fairy tales and facts about the Aurora Borealis and Icelandic myths.

Northern Lights scientificly is are natural lights that display in the sky particularly in the high latitude (Arctic and Antarctic) regions, caused by the collision of energetic charged particles with atoms in the high altitude atmosphere (thermosphere). The charged particles originate in the magnetosphere and solar winds are directed by the Earth's magnetic field into the atmosphere.

It feels a bit like being in an American storm chaser movie, or in one of those supernatural TV shows. “We have spotted a magnetic field”, the guide says and we stop on a field. All the sudden the guide screams “it’s happening, get out, it’s happening”.

And there it is!

It starts with a little glow and evolves to be a green glimmering strap drawing itself over the night sky.

I stop breathing!

I am so thankful for this dream coming true. The light gets bigger, disappears and comes back again. I have no words for it, but I try to capture this moment. Of course, the photos are far away from reality, but see for yourself.

 

On Sunday, it’s our “bottom left corner excursion day”.

We drive along the so called Golden Circle and start with the Þingvellir National Park. The park is located about 50km north east of Reykjavik on a plateau. The national park of Þingvellir encompasses 27km² and was declared in 1928. Today it is the oldest one of Iceland. The continental drift between the North American and Eurasian plates can be clearly seen in the cracks or faults which traverse the region. The biggest one is Almannagjá, a veritable canyon. This also causes the often-measurable earthquakes in the area.

Þingvellir is a former place where in ancient times moots where held. The Alþingi (assembly) at Þingvellir was Iceland's supreme legislative and judicial authority from its establishment in 930 until 1271. The Lögberg (Law Rock) was the focal point of the Alþingi and a natural platform for holding speeches. The Lawspeaker, elected for three years at a time, presided over the assembly and recited the law of the land.

Before the law was written down, he was expected to recite it from memory (how many laws could there have been?) on the Lögberg over the course of three summers along with the complete assembly procedures every summer.

Inauguration and dissolution of the assembly took place at the Lögberg, where rulings made by the Law Council were announced, the calendar was confirmed, legal actions were brought and other announcements made which concerned the entire nation. Anyone attending the assembly was entitled to present his case on important issues from the Lögberg.

 

Next en route, after driving through stunning beautiful sceneries with lakes and even a little forest (they are hard to find) is Geysir. The Great Geysir, or Stori-Geysir, has been dormant since 1916 when it suddenly ceased to spout. It came to life only once in 1935, and as quickly went back to sleep.  

Since then its repose has sporadically been disturbed by the dumping of tonnes of carbolic soap powder into its seething orifice in order to tickle it to spout.

It is not exactly known when Geysir was created. It is believed that it came into existence around the end of the 13th century when a series of strong earthquakes, accompanied by a devastating eruption of Mt. Hekla, hit Haukadalur, the geothermal valley where Geysir is located.

What is known is that it spouted regularly every third hour or so up to the beginning of the 19th century and thereafter progressively at much longer intervals until it completely stopped in 1916. Whether its silence is eternal or temporary, no one knows. When it was alive and shooting, it could thunderously blast a spectacular jet of superheated water and steam into the air as high as 60 to 80 metres according to different sources. Its opening is 18 metres wide and its chamber 20 metres deep.

 

The attraction of the area is now Strokkur (The Churn), another geyser 100 metres south of the Great Geysir, which erupts at regular intervals every 6-10 minutes and its white column of boiling water can reach as high as 20-30 metres.

The whole area is a geothermal park sitting on top of a vast boiling cauldron. Belching sulphurous mud pots of unusual colours, hissing steam vents, hot and cold springs, warm streams, and primitive plants can all be found here. Don't be afraid, you will get used to the smell of sulphur.

Now, during winter it is fascinating how the hot water freezes seconds after it erupts from the ground. The results are bushes and branches covered with an icy coat.

Yet another and final highlight of this journey is already waiting in line: Gullfoss. If you search for pictures on the internet, you are already overwhelmed by its beauty and it suddenly hops onto the "Top 3 to do" in Iceland.

When we arrive at the nearby parking lot, we can already hear the water, but without this sound you would not guess it is there.

Gullfoss is in the river Hvítá, which has its origin in the glacier lake Hvítávatn at Lángjökull glacier about 40km north of Gullfoss. The glacial water is brownish, since it carries lots of sediments that the glacial ice has carved off the earth.

About a kilometer above the falls it turns sharply to the left and flows down into a wide curved three-step staircase and then abruptly plunges in two stages (11m and 21m) into a crevice 32m deep. The crevice, about 20m wide, and 2.5 km in length, is at right angles to the flow of the river. The average amount of water running over this waterfall is 140 m³/s in the summertime and 80 m³/s in the wintertime.

Gullfoss is called the "Golden Falls", since on a sunny day the water plunging down the staircase truly looks golden. To stand at Gullfoss and wallow in the beauty and the wonder of nature is an uplifting experience.

Sigríður Tómasdóttir, the daughter of Tómas Tómasson who owned the waterfall in the first half of the 20th century must have felt the same. She lived at a farm nearby and loved Gullfoss as no one else. At this period of time much speculation about using Gullfoss to harness electricity was going on. Foreign investors who rented Gullfoss indirectly from the owners wanted to build a hydroelectric powerplant, which would have changed and destroyed Gullfoss forever.

As the story goes, we shall be thankfull to Sigríður Tómasdóttir that we can still enjoy the beauty of this waterfall, because she was the one that protested so intensly against these plans by going as far to threat that she would throw herself into Gullfoss and therby kill herself. To make her threat believeable she went barefoot on a protest march from Gullfoss to Reykjavik. In those days the roads weren't paved and when she arrived after 120 kilometers her feet were bleeding and she was in very bad shape. The people believed her and listened and the powerplant at Gullfoss was never built.

See, you just have to love Iceland for its wonderful fairy tales.

 

During our last dinner we recall the past (only 2) days.

It is unbelievable, how many amazing things we have seen!

Sights of which some might think they will never see in life.

Oh lovely world of travelling, you are the best medicine and make everything feel so right, that there is only one feeling left:

Happiness!

 

Travel Diary shared by Landmeedchen
www.landmeedchen.com

Country: 

Where To Stay In Rome: Our Rome Accommodation Guide

Rome, the capital city of Italy, is a cosmopolitan city packed with history, culture, and delicious food.

With nearly 3,000 years of globally influential art, architecture, and culture on display it’s no wonder that hordes of tourist’s flock to this city every year. Because of its popularity among tourists, there are also plenty of accommodation options.

It can get a bit overwhelming trying to find the perfect place to stay while in Rome, which is why we have created the ultimate Rome accommodation guide.

From budget-friendly hotels and hostels to chic and classy hotels, we’ve covered all the bases when it comes to knowing the ins and outs of where to stay in Rome. Browse through some of the below options to make the best decision for booking your Rome accommodation.

 

Where to stay in Rome: Best Neighborhoods to Stay in Rome

With so many beautiful neighborhoods in Rome, it’s hard to choose the perfect spot for you. We’ve listed a few of the more popular neighborhoods for tourists and what they have to offer to help you make your choice.

 

The Termini District

The Termini District is the best area to look at for budget minded travelers as this area has the best budget and mid-range accommodation options available. You’ll also find some great hostels and guesthouses in this area. Termini is also next to the most popular train station in Rome, making it a convenient place if you’re traveling into/out of Rome by train. It’s a bit further from the central district, but you’ll easily get buses to and from this area. The trendy neighborhood of Monti is just minutes away.

Look for accommodation in the Termini District 

 

Monti

Monti is a picturesque and convenient neighborhood to stay in Rome, situated between the Colosseum and Via Nazionale. It’s a trendy neighborhood packed with wine bars, boutiques, and some really good restaurants. It’s also walking distance to the Colosseum and Roman Forum, and only one metro stop away from the main train station.

Look for accommodation in Monti

 

The Historical Centre / Centro Storico

If being in the middle of the action is your thing, then you’ll want to look for accommodation in the historical centre. This area holds 90% of the tourist sites, including the Vatican, Colosseum, Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, and P. Navona. Expectedly, accommodation tends to be more expensive in this area. There are a few budget-friendly options available, just don’t expect too much from them in terms of size.

Look for accommodation in the Historical Centre

 

Trastevere

The cobblestone walkways in Trastevere are some of the most charming streets in Rome. This neighborhood is popular for going out at night and is conveniently located just across the bridge from the heart of the historic centre. There are also lots of food options available. There is however, no metro station so you’ll have to make use of buses, trams, or local trains if you need to make use of public transportation.

Look for accommodation in Trastevere

 

Where to stay in Rome: Rome Accommodation Guide

Now that you know all about the best Rome neighborhoods to stay in, let’s jump into the best Rome accommodation. From easy on the budget hostels and cozy boutique hotels to luxury five-star hotels and apartment rentals – we’ve covered them all.

If there’s also a specific feature that you’re looking for, then check out our unique accommodation guide that highlights a few properties with specific features – from the best party atmosphere to the best vintage design.

 

Budget-friendly Hotels in Rome

We know that not all budgets extend further than the basics, but that doesn’t mean that you have to stay in a dodgy hotel in some back alley. We’ve found a few budget-friendly hotels in Rome that are still modern and comfortable.

 

Vatican Relais Rome

Located just a five-minute walk from St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican Relais Rome is a great budget-friendly choice, particularly for family travelers. There are six stylish and contemporary rooms with flat-screen TVs, minibars, and private bathrooms. The hotel is surrounded by several restaurants and the popular shopping destination Via Cola di Rienzo is just three blocks away. A continental buffet breakfast is included in all rates.

Rooms from €130

 

YHR Guesthouse Suite 51

Centrally located in historic Rome, YHR Guesthouse Suite 51 is 500 meters from the Basilica of Our Lady in Trastevere. The rooms are located on the second floor of a 19th-century building. Each of the rooms are beautifully decorated and include air-conditioning, minibars, coffeemakers, and free Wi-Fi. The guest house also includes communal spaces such as a kitchen and breakfast room, where guests can enjoy an Italian style breakfast.

Rooms from €90

 

Colosseum Garden

Located just two minutes from the Colosseum, Colosseum Garden offers a great location and budget-friendly rates. The rooms and apartments are small, though to be expected in Rome, and the apartments include fully equipped kitchens and patio gardens. The hotel’s lounge and terrace feature colorful and retro designs, creating a fun, urban atmosphere.

Rooms from €100

 

Hotel Marcantonio

Hotel Marcantonia is located just 200 meters from Roma Termini Station making it a super convenient for those traveling by train. The hotel is set in a 19th-century building with modern interiors. Small and basic, but clean and friendly, located on the 5th floor but there is an elevator and 24 hour reception. A simple breakfast is served to your room in the mornings.
 
Rooms from €80
 

Hostels in Rome

Gone are the days of dark and grungy hostels. There are loads of fun, fresh, and modern hostels in Rome that cater for students, young travelers and even older travelers looking to explore a more interactive accommodation style. Below is a list of a few of the top hostels in Rome, offering great features, locations, and friendly vibes.

 

The Beehive

Stylish, eco-conscious and clean, The Beehive ticks all the boxes for a good hostel. It’s a bit more on the luxury side, though still maintains a homey feel. It has a friendly, laidback vibe with spotlessly clean rooms and common areas. The main downside is the lack of a guest kitchen, though private rooms have their own kitchenette and there is an on-site restaurant. The on-site café caters specifically for vegetarians and vegans. It’s located two blocks from the central train station.

Dorms from €35

 

Generator

Generator hostels are popular throughout Europe, and the hostel in Rome lives up to the brand’s reputation. Situated on top of one of the seven hills in Rome, the location is central and convenient. It’s within walking distance of the Roma Termini station and the Colosseum – public transport is also nearby. It’s quite a large hostel with 78 rooms spread across seven floors, so you’ll likely always get a bed. On-site amenities include free Wi-Fi, deli-style café, bar and chill-out lounge. There’s also a cool rooftop terrace, with awesome city views.

Dorms from €29

 

The Bricks, Rome

Located a bit further out from town, 1.5 kilometers from the Vatican Museums, The Bricks Rome makes up for it in design. The rooms are setup apartment style.  Each floor includes a kitchen, a shared bathroom and several apartments. There’s a quaint central courtyard between the two buildings, which includes a few colorful café-style tables and chairs along with a rooftop sun terrace with sun loungers. Rooms cater for two to four guests, rather than the larger dorm rooms found in most hostels – therefore, rates are more expansive than traditional hostels.

Rooms from €70

 

Boutique Hotels in Rome

If cozy, intimate and welcoming is your kind of vibe then you’ll love the below list of boutique hotels in Rome. The limited number of available rooms means that the staff are extra devoted to making your stay in Rome the most unforgettable one.

 

Residenza Torre Colonna

One of Rome’s more unusual boutique hotels, Residenza Torre Colonna is housed in a medieval tower in the centre of Rome. Each of the five guest rooms are stacked on top of the other in one of the city’s Medieval watchtowers. The inside is not what you’d expect, with rather contemporary furnishings with bold colors on the walls. The roof terrace is a highlight, with a hot tub and views over Trajan’s market. Breakfast is included in rates.

Rooms from €200

 

Nerva Boutique Hotel

Housed in a vintage building, just five minutes from the Colosseum, Nerva Boutique Hotel is a friendly boutique hotel with Mediterranean vintage décor. It has a lovely homely atmosphere, and the staff add a personal touch to each guests’ visit. There’s plenty of light, with bright open spaces decorated with contemporary artworks and warm color palettes. The breakfast, which isn’t included in rates, includes traditional croissants, cakes, fresh fruit, cold cuts, and cheese.

Rooms from €260

 

Hotel Art by The Spanish Steps

Hotel Art is a four-star boutique hotel set in a converted chapel, just 300 meters from the Spanish Steps. The 46 rooms are spread across four wings, each with its own color and design. Each room has an exquisite old masterpiece on the wall from an Italian artist. The rooms include all the basic amenities, some even with whirlpool tubs. Italian architecture is highlighted throughout the hotel, including a deconsecrated chapel in the hall, vaulted ceilings, and frescos. Pets are also welcome here and breakfast is included in rates.

Rooms from €260

 

Luxury Five-Star Hotels in Rome

If you’re looking to completely splurge on your Rome accommodation, then we’ve found the best hotels for you. Offering complete five-star luxury from start to finish, you’ll find a little piece of heaven at each of these properties.

 

Villa Spalletti Trivelli

Villa Spalletti Trivelli is set in a historical villa, just 200 meters from the Quirinale Presidential Palace. The luxurious rooms are decorated with a combination of modern and traditional styles, featuring elegant antique and contemporary furnishings. The hotel also features a wellness center with gym, bio sauna, Turkish bath, and massage treatments. Rates include a buffet breakfast with both Italian and American options, served in the shaded garden terrace.

Rooms from €890

 

Hassler Roma

Hassler Roma is one of the city’s most famous hotels, set atop the Spanish Steps. Its restaurant, the Michelin-starred Imàgo, is located on the 6th-floor and has panoramic views over Rome’s rooftops. There’s another two on-site restaurants, Salone Eva and Palm Court. Wellness facilities include gym, sauna, and Turkish bath. All rooms are spacious and classically furnished and include free use of a smartphone (for both national and international calls).

Rooms from €1,300

 

Rome Cavalieri

Rome Cavalieri is surrounded by large Mediterranean gardens, with stunning views of Rome and the Vatican from its hilltop position in Montemario. Each of the 345 guest rooms has its own balcony along with luxurious interiors and marble bathrooms. There are two restaurants and four bars, including the 3-Michelin star rooftop restaurant, La Pergola. L'Uliveto features a poolside terrace where you can enjoy classic Italian and international dishes. Additional features include large wellness center with gym and Grand Spa, two tennis courts, and indoor swimming pool. The hotel is famous for its large art collection, including antique furniture, paintings, tapestries, statues and artefacts.

Rooms from €690

 

Apartments/ holiday rentals in Rome

Apartments / holiday rentals are ideal for larger groups of travelers and family travelers. It means that you have more space and privacy as well as more functional amenities (like fully-equipped kitchenettes and private laundry facilities). Here are a few great options for apartments in Rome.

 

Amazing Piazza Venezia Suites

Situated in the center of Rome, the Amazing Piazza Venezia Suites is a just 65 meters from Piazza Venezia. Apartments are spacious with separate dining/ seating areas along with fully equipped kitchens. All include small furnished balconies, overlooking the quaint cobblestone street below. Apartments can cater for up to four guests. A free breakfast is included in all rates, which is situated at a nearby café.

Apartments from €480

 

Vino e Oli Residenze

Vino e Oli Residenze has an ideal location in Rome, just 500 meters from the Vatican Museums and a kilometer from Peter’s Basilica. All units include dining and seating areas along with kitchens equipped with stovetops, dishwashers, microwaves, large refrigerators, electric kettles and espresso coffeemakers. Décor is extravagant, including bright and colorful furnishings mixed with a vintage flair – each apartment has its own unique style. Apartments cater for two to six guests, with either one or two bedrooms.

Apartments from €250

Airbnbs in Rome

Home Sweet Home

This quaint home is located near  Basilica of St. John Lateran and is surrounded by restaurants and cafes. It features one bedroom and bathroom and caters for up to three guests. The decor is clean and crisp with a black and white theme. There is a small lounge with flat-screen TV and kitchenette with microwave, electric kettle, toaster, and coffeemaker.

Apartments from €70

 

Coliseum View Suite

The best part about this stylish and bright suite is its Coliseum views. Housed in an old Roman building, it keeps the typical Roman charm while keeping modern. It's just a minutes walk from the Coliseum and surrounded by cafes, restaurants, bars, and gelato shops. This is the perfect spot for first-time tourists to Rome.

Apartments from €86

 

A Hipster Dream in Monti District

Located on the second floor of a historic building, this Airbnb is an ideal option for a couple or group of travelers (up to four). Both the building and the flat have been recently updated, with the interior featuring small 'hipster' accents. The apartment has beautiful furniture and decor, including leather couch, facebrick ceilings, old school tables, instagram'esque artwork, and hipster light fittings. Views overlook the bustling Monti neighborhood.

Apartments from €90

 

Rome Accommodation With….

…party atmosphere

The Yellow Hostel

Voted the best party hostel in Rome, The Yellow Hostel is for travelers looking for a lively and youthful atmosphere. The hostel hosts parties with various talented DJ’s almost every night, and if there’s no party that night the staff know exactly where to send you. The hostel also prides itself in being super ‘cool’, offering iPad’s for rental, a chillout patio and outdoor lounge, and gourmet restaurant. Its location is relatively central, situated near the Roma Termini station.

Dorms from €30

 

…A vintage design

Villa Laetitia

Villa Laetitia is a historical residence designed by Armando Brasini, restored to its current splendor by the Fendi Venturini Family. Each of the nine rooms feature a unique style with beautiful artworks, photography, and vintage furniture. The rooms take up two floors of the villa and the garden house, with most overlooking the ancient Tiber River and Della Vittoria district. The experience of staying here is a blend of luxurious and homely. Guests can also taste delicious Italian fare from Michelin-starred Chef Danilo Ciavattini in the hotel’s restaurant, Enoteca la Torre.

Rooms from €140

 

…a central location

Condotti Palace

Situated on a cobblestone street lined by restaurants and shops, the Condotti Palace has a great location in Rome. It’s within walking distance of numerous iconic sights, including the Spanish Steps which are just two blocks away. Other sights within a 15-minute walk from the hotel include Via Condotti, Piazza Popolo, Santa Maria del Popolo church, Trevi Fountain, Villa Borghese gardens, Pantheon and Palazzo Barnerini.

Rooms from €320

 

…a true Roman experience

Il Boom B&B

With only three guest rooms, the Il Boom B & B offers a taste of Roman life with its homely atmosphere. It’s situated in a quiet area near the lively Trastevere area of Old Rome, close to several cafes, restaurants, and historic landmarks. Set in an old house, the cosy rooms feature vintage décor with vaulted ceilings and lovely city views. Only one of the guest rooms have an en-suite bathroom and guests need to walk up a flight of stairs to access the rooms – true Roman style. Rates also include a small buffet breakfast with sweet and savory treats.

Rooms from €270

 

And if you’re budget can’t afford any of the above hotels, you can always try CouchSurfing! We hope that we have helped you figure out where to stay in Rome with this post!

 

Prices correct at time of writing.

 

Looking for things to do in Rome? Check out our Rome Activity Guide for a full list of the must-see sights of Rome.

 

Travel tip shared by Bridget for Travel Dudes

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