Dec 15, 2015

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Britain’s best New Year’s Eve celebrations...

Britain’s best New Year’s Eve celebrations

Got no plans for New Year’s Eve yet? Don’t worry! There’s plenty going on across the UK – and you don’t have to pay a fortune to enjoy it. We’ve picked out some of this year’s best best New Year’s events, so look out for celebrations near you and get ready to link arms and start the countdown… London – see the fireworks for free For the last two years, London’s famous New Year’s Eve firework display has been ticketed due to the sheer number of people who flock to the banks of the Thames to see the show. And, as one of the hottest tickets in town, the show has already sold out. Luckily, a firework display of this size isn’t the kind of thing you can put on in private, so there are plenty of places you can see it, for free! Vauxhall Bridge, the Monument, Cannon Street and Tower Bridge are great options in the central London area, while Primrose Hill and Alexandra Palace will offer excellent views from further out. Expect most places to be very busy – some tube stations may even close early ­– so plan ahead and dress for the weather. If you have a bigger budget and are after something a little different, the restaurant SushiSamba (110 Bishopsgate, London EC2N 4AY; 0203 640 7330) is holding a Brazilian-style dinner party, with an all-white dress code, to channel the famous Rio NYE celebrations (tickets from £200pp). Book hotels in London The south west – fancy dress and a night on the town Bristol will have the usual selection of big club nights you’d expect to find in a city, along with the big prices to match. If you don’t manage to get into any of the big-name venues – or that’s just not your thing – plenty of pubs and bars around the city have live bands on to sing in the New Year in style. For an eclectic mix of tunes, Goldbrick House (69 Park St, Bristol, Avon BS1 5PB; 0117 945 1950) will be jumping well into the wee hours with Motown, funk and disco flavours. If you’re after something different, a number of towns across the region put on their own brand of fancy dress festivities. Bideford, St Ives and Dartmouth, to name a few, all encourage the good old tradition of getting dressed up...

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Dec 14, 2015

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9 last-minute gifts for the traveller in your life

9 last-minute gifts for the traveller in your life

Sorry to break it to you, but Christmas is nearly here again. That means less than two weeks left to get all those last presents bought, wrapped and sent off to Santa. Don’t panic though, you’ve still (just!) got time and we’re here to help. Here’s some inspiration on the best travel gifts available this year to get you going, whether you’re buying for a seasoned globetrotter or a casual holidaymaker. 1. Best for gadget addicts: Morphie powerstation mini In days of old, a map and an international telephone card would have been essential items for any avid traveller. But now, everything is combined into hand-held devices. So it’s essential to keep tablets and mobile phones charged for every eventuality – from needing directions in a strange city and Skyping home to scouring TripAdvisor for somewhere to eat. Enter the Morphie powerstation mini, a handy little gadget that gives your device that extra kick of juice when the battery hits red – the pocket-sized power source packs enough energy to charge the average smart phone twice over. Combine this with the Blacks Universal travel adapter and you’ve got the perfect power-themed gift. What’s the damage? £34.95 & £18 2. Best for wannabe photographers: InstaLens The social media revolution has made would-be photographers out of us all, especially the travelling set. However, no matter how many filters you add, there’s only so much you can do with a smartphone, and the alternatives can be pretty costly, too. So if you’re after a small gift, rather than a costly camera, InstaLens have developed a compact happy medium, perfect for the modern traveller. Small, simple and easy to use, the InstaLens transforms your average smartphone camera into a much more advanced piece of kit. Every sunrise, delicious Parisian pastry and iconic landmark selfie can now be snapped and shared with much higher quality. The tiny lens clicks on to your phone over the normal camera, enhancing the pictures you take with minimal fuss. What’s the damage? From £19.95 3. Best for regular travellers: Hand-held luggage scale With airlines constantly changing baggage allowances, getting the the weight spot-on on has become a bit of a headache for frequent fliers. But with hefty extra charges for overweight items, getting it right is always worth the extra effort. That’s why a hand-held luggage scale could be the ideal gift for the regular traveller in your life. No, it’s not...

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Dec 8, 2015

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Bah humbug! 8 places to escape Christmas this year...

Bah humbug! 8 places to escape Christmas this year

While some people love nothing more than traditional turkey dinners, Christmas morning Buck’s Fizz and the Queen’s Speech, others simply want to avoid it. If Yuletide mayhem is not your thing, we’ve got the perfect tonic for you: eight places to where you can escape the chaos of Christmas this year. 1. Christmas shopping with a difference: Marrakech A bustling city of souks, markets and unique craft boutiques, Marrakech offers a welcome respite to the tacky fairy lights and irritating Christmas songs you’ll find on...

Dec 8, 2015

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Desperate to escape? Surprisingly cheap last-minute getaways...

Desperate to escape? Surprisingly cheap last-minute getaways

With less than three weeks until Christmas, it’s not too late to book a last-minute getaway ahead of December 25 for some winter sunshine – and a cheeky festive tan. Alternatively, if you fancy escaping the festive frenzy and spending Christmas day itself abroad, there’s still availability. Or, if you love all things Santa-related but know you’ll need a boost in January, there are bargains around in early 2016 too. So, to add some sparkle to your festive...

Dec 8, 2015

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The ultimate Christmas travel guide

The ultimate Christmas travel guide

It’s the time of year when dodgy festive jumpers are acceptable and mulled wine is flowing freely. And many of us are excitedly making travel plans to visit family and friends in the UK, abroad, or even anticipating a toasty Christmas on the beach. But travelling at one of the busiest times of the year can be stressful, so here are our top tips to prevent anything ruining your festive cheer. 1. Remember the basics Going abroad? Lucky you! But at this...

Dec 7, 2015

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With bells on! Christmas with the wow factor...

With bells on! Christmas with the wow factor

Bored of cold mince pies and tired pieces of tinsel? Then inject some wow factor into your Christmas with a visit to one of these places, writes Tamara Hinson. We’ve got Christmas trees made from sand, beautiful beachside ice rinks and a Christmas-themed chocolate river (in Dubai, of course). Admire the world’s largest Christmas tree made from sand in Florida Meet Sandi, a Christmas tree made from sand in West Palm Beach, Florida. The ultimate sand castle is...

Nov 24, 2015

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Retail therapy! The world’s best shopping destinations...

Retail therapy! The world’s best shopping destinations

Shopping abroad has a glamour that can’t be matched by pounding the pavements of your local high street. In these heavenly shopping hubs, you’ll want to browse and barter your way from gleaming mega-malls and exclusive designers to late-night markets. Because ‘shop until you drop’ is for quitters, writes Anita Isalska. Best for all that glitters: Dubai Record-breaking skyscrapers, palm-shaped resorts and indoor ski slopes make Dubai a playground for the ultra-rich. But the city-state’s smorgasbord of malls and...

Nov 24, 2015

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How to book a New Year break on a budget...

How to book a New Year break on a budget

New Year’s Eve is the biggest party night of the year. It can also be an occasion where you feel compelled to spend a small fortune to make special. But wait, even if you’re looking to go away, there’s no need to wake up on January 1 regretting a splurge. No matter how late you’ve left booking a break, here are a some handy tips to help you keep the costs down while still enjoying a big end-of-year knees up away...

Nov 23, 2015

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10 of the UK’s cosiest hotels

10 of the UK’s cosiest hotels

The mercury’s plummeted and we’ve all gone into forced hibernation. So a weekend getaway to one of these unbelievably cosy hotels might be just what the doctor ordered, writes Tamara Hinson.  1. Dial House, Bourton on the Water, the Cotswolds Price: From £76.50 per room per night on a bed and breakfast basis This stunning hotel, which dates back to 1698, can be found in Bourton on the Water, which is widely regarded as one of England’s prettiest villages....

Nov 23, 2015

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7 holiday rip-offs and how to avoid them...

7 holiday rip-offs and how to avoid them

Nothing ruins fabulous travel memories more than a right royal holiday rip-off. And there are plenty of them. From sneaky debit card charges to scamming holiday companies, rip-offs can fiddle holidaymakers out of hundreds of pounds. However, the good news is that many of these money-wasters are avoidable if you know what to look out for. Here are some of the classic rip-offs – and how to protect yourself. Rip-off #1: The vanishing holiday company Before you’ve even left...