When planning family holidays there are lots of factors to consider to make your trip the very best. Looking at temperatures, short flight times, family activities available and value for money, we find the most family friendly destinations in Europe are:
Although Turkey enjoys the highest average temperature, with Gumbet, Belek and Bodrum all enjoying averages of 25 degrees C during the summer.
The Costa Blanca on the Spanish mainland comes a close second, averaging temperatures of 24.5o between May and October.
Average sea temperatures
For comfortable swimming temperatures, especially for younger children, resorts across Turkey also fit the bill with Antalya, Alanya, Belek and Side all enjoying averages of 25o. Cyprus also has lovely warm sea, with an average temperature of 24.5o.
Water parks and amusement parks
Amusement parks and water parks are great for family fun. Crete, Greece's largest and most southerly island, has the most parks with a massive 10, including WaterCity in Anapolis near Heraklion.
Next is the beautiful island of Cyprus with 9 attractions, including award-winning Fasouri Watermania Water Park in Limassol.
Spain also offers a variety of park options for families. The Costa Blanca, Costa Brava and the Costa Dorada all boast 7 water or amusement parks, as do Sardinia, Italy’s largest island, the Algarve region of Portugal and Tenerife in the Canary Islands.
A short flight is a big consideration for those planning a family holiday. If you are looking for a beach break with a limited travel time you should consider the Costa Brava and the Costa Dorada regions of Spain. These destinations both have average flight times of just over 2 hours from the UK.
Majorca, the sun-kissed Balearic Island is also a great choice for a close to home destination, with an average flight time of just short of 2 and a half hours. Alternatively the Costa de la Luz region of Spain is also perfect for families looking to minimise their travel time, as are Ibiza and Sardinia.
Best value for money
A big factor for British families is to minimise cost. Based on a family of 4, the lowest cost holiday destinations are the Costa Calida and the Costa Brava on the Spanish mainland and the Canary Island of La Palma.
Travel to Kefalonia in Greece or the Algarve in Portugal to get more bang for your buck.
For great family deals just search our latest offers here.
New Orleans is a testament to living history. Entire neighbourhoods, buildings, cobblestone streets and ancient oaks are markers of bygone eras. The history of New Orleans has turned the city into a colourful and exciting destination.
The History of New Orleans
Claimed for the French crown by explorer Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle in 1682, La Nouvelle-Orleans was founded in 1718 by Jean Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville and became the capital of the French Colony in 1723. The city developed around the Vieux Carré (Old Square), a central square from which the French Quarter evolved.
A vital trading and commercial hub, Spain took control of New Orleans in 1763 and this 37 year rule can still be seen in the city’s street names and architecture, like the Cabildo and the Presbytere. This period also reflected Spain’s more liberal views on race that fostered a class of free people of colour.
In 1800, the Spanish ceded Louisiana back to France but after only 3 years Napoleon sold the city and the French Colony to the United States in the Louisiana Purchase. Despite this sale the residents of New Orleans held tight to their Francophile ways. Language and customs, cuisine, opera and social mores were still French. A sophisticated and cosmopolitan society was created by the Creoles (the American-born offspring of European settlers) in New Orleans. This French influence can still be seen in the Creole cottages, the Ursuline Convent and Charity Hospital as well as the streets of the French Quarter.
War of Independence & Civil War Eras
The British tried to claim the land during the War of Independence in 1812 but Andrew Jackson turned back more than 7,500 British soldiers, forcing them to abandon the area and ending the war.
As American plantation owners prospered, the French and Creoles of New Orleans socially rejected these nouveau riche. This led to the Americans staying across Canal Street in their own neighbourhoods.
In the mid-1800s, the highest concentration of millionaires in America could be found between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, fortunes founded on the slave trade and huge sugar plantations along the Mississippi River. Louisiana sugar plantations produced an estimated 450 million pounds of sugar per year, worth more than $20 million in the 1850s.
Elegant mansions were built by these millionaires on their plantations. Both depended heavily on slaves, one of the key motivators of the American Civil War. Union troops occupied New Orleans but the city didn't fight back, thus sparing itself from destruction. This signalled the end of New Orleans halcyon days, an era to become known as Antebellum (after the war).
After the war there was poverty, racial tension and governmental chaos. The city’s plantation owners could not match their antebellum success but the port of New Orleans preserved its essential status, as it does to this day.
Discover the period at the Old U.S. Mint, the only Confederate mint and the oldest U.S. mint in existence; or visit Louisiana’s Civil War Museum in the Warehouse District; see the statue of Margaret Gaffney Haughery, a beloved Irish immigrant whose bakery supplied bread to hungry families during the war and founder of orphanages, in the Lower Garden District.
World War II
New Orleans played a special role in the second world war. Shipbuilder and local industrialist Andrew Higgins invented a boat designed to float in Louisiana’s shallow water swamps and marshes. Built in local shipyards, “Higgins Boats” were used throughout the war for getting soldiers, vehicles and equipment off big ships to shore, most notably during the D-day invasion on the Normandy beaches.
After WWII land reclamation allowed New Orleans to expand. Similarly the history of New Orleans continues to create a city of rich culture, an eclectic mix of neighbourhoods - from the funky, bohemian Bywater all the way to the oak-lined Garden District, and civic pride. There's something for every type of traveller from authentic live music, historic architecture and vibrant nightlife.
New Orleans was an important port for trade with the Caribbean quickly becoming a target for piracy. Brothers Jean and Pierre Lafitte were perhaps the most infamous. Visit Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop on Bourbon Street, the base of these pirates, which claims to be the oldest structure housing a bar in the United States.
The first Mardi Gras in the United States was celebrated in March 1699 when Iberville and Bienville landed at the mouth of the Mississippi River on Mardi Gras, 60 miles south of New Orleans. They named the spot Point du Mardi Gras and celebrated with their men. By the 1730s the Mardi Gras was celebrated with parties and street fairs.
In 1857, a secret society of New Orleans businessmen called the Mistick Krewe of Comus organized a torch-lit Carnival procession. The present-day New Orleans Mardi Gras with marching bands and floats can be traced to this celebration.
Speak of New Orleans and you immediately think of jazz. Evolving in the late 19th century, jazz combined ragtime, blues, spirituals and the American songbook, a result of the diverse ethnic and racial groups — French, Spanish, African, Italian, German, and Irish — found in New Orleans.
The 1920s roared along the Mississippi, ignoring Prohibition and welcoming travellers. Authors, artists and the adventurous discovered the French Quarter. Le Petit Theater was opened on St. Peter Street. New Orleans provided the soundtrack to the era.
The city’s music is its beating heart. The musical notes of jazz, brass, R&B and soul fill the air along with night–blooming jasmine. Walk down Frenchmen Street, in the Marigny neighbourhood and take in the vibrant cafes, music clubs and restaurants including Snug Harbor, dba. and the Spotted Cat.
New Orleans has produced musical giants like Louis Armstrong, Dr. John and Allen Toussaint. New acts follow in the tradition at Preservation Hall on Bourbon Street, Mother-In-Law Lounge on Claiborne Avenue, Rock-N-Bowl in Mid-City, the Maple Leaf Uptown and Vaughn’s in the Bywater where you can dance the night away. It’s all part of the magic that is found only in New Orleans.
New Orleans has a love affair with its traditional fare. Join the romance over by crawfish etouffe at a smart restaurant or with a bowl of gumbo at a backstreet bistro. Grab a po-boy sandwich stuffed with fried oysters for a picnic. This heady mix of Creole, Cajun and Anglo-American cuisine is totally unique. Discover the most famous dishes below.
New Orleans King Cakes
New Orleans Pralines
In a city steeped in history, New Orleans has a history of mixing innovative cocktails. Antoine Amédé Peychaud, is thought to have mixed the very first Sazerac in his pharmacy on Royal Street in the 1830s. From an eye-opening Brandy Milk Punch to a flaming Café Brûlot, the quintessential Crescent City nightcap, raise a glass to New Orleans’ past and a toast the city’s most famous cocktails.
New Orleans is a great destination for any time of year and any type of holiday. Speak to us to plan your food adventure in the Big Easy.
In Greece, well-being has a long history. What is not widely known is that Greece has many therapeutic thermal springs, mostly on the mainland but not exclusively. From antiquity to today, these numerous thermal springs and spas have alleviated ailments, revitalised the body and the mind, stimulated and relaxed the body and soul. The waters from the springs have a blend of natural minerals that can have a positive effect to humans in a number of ways. Thermal water is known to help improve the condition of various skin decease like eczema among others; it also helps in medical conditions like rheumatism, arthritis and gynaecological problems.
According to the Special Committee for the Protection of Natural Mineral Springs, there are 20 recognised thermal springs in Greece. Here is our pick of the best.
The oldest and best known natural spa in Greece. Edipsos is mentioned in the works of Aristotle, Plutarch and Strabon. The town even minted its own coins. In Roman times the area flourished and its healing waters were visited by the emperors Hadrian, Septimus Severus and Marcus Aurilius and remains of the Roman Baths still exist.
It is possible to bathe in the rock pools where steaming hot water pours through, leaving multicoloured sediment in strange formations. It gets very busy and there can be jellyfish so most people nowadays prefer to enjoy the healing benefits at one of the many spa hotels in the area. Perhaps the most historic is the Thermae Sylla Spa, which is built on two ancient thermal springs.
The healing properties of the thermae is due to the sodium chlorides, strongly carbonated and moderately sulphurated waters. The baths are recommended to be taken at temperatures of 28 to 34o C for a range of conditions, from rheumatism and arthritis to skin and respiratory diseases. It is certainly a relaxing way to feel better.
Vouliagmeni Lake, Attica
Located in the Attica region just outside Athens, Lake Vouliagmeni is a spectacular natural phenomenon. Formed as a covered lagoon about 2,000 years ago, the roof collapsed. This gave the lake it's name, from the Greek word “vouliazo” that means to submerge. It is now a national monument and part of the Natura 2000.
The lake’s waters are fed both by the sea and the underground thermal springs and so offer an excellent thermal spa experience. Swimming in the lake promotes wellness from the water temperature of between 22-29 degrees and the minerals in the brackish water. The healing properties of the lake come from its potent mix of salts and minerals (sodium, potassium, lithium, ammonium, calcium, iron, chlorine, iodine and a small amount of radiation). The lake also contains Garra Rufa fish (known as spa fish) which aid exfoliation as well as giving you a massage!
Around the lake there are grassy areas equipped with sunbeds and umbrellas for relaxation. A range of amenities are available, including Wi-Fi, changing rooms, lifeguards and medical facilities, playground, parking, etc. All in all, Lake Vouliagmeni provides an outstanding natural spa experience.
Loutra Pozar, Aridea
Located in the Pella region of Greece, Loutra Pozar thermal baths are at the bottom of the Vouras mountain, fed by waterfalls. Pozar hot springs are created by rain water, which penetrates deep into the ground, where is heated and then gradually rises and is enriched with minerals and other elements. The water has a constant temperature of 37 °C and can be enjoyed in the natural swimming pools or in a bath at one of the spas. The water has healing properties against arthritis, kidney diseases, skin diseases, gynaecological problems and circulatory problems.
Pozar's hot springs are a short distance from Loutraki and Edessa, located amongst huge trees. For those wanting to combine nature, relaxation and healing waters, Loutra Pozar is the perfect choice.
Take some respite from the vibrant and bustling city of Thessaloniki at Lagkada. The first balneotherapy (bathing in the thermal waters) facilities in the region of Lagadas dated back to 900 AD. It is thought that the baths were created by Ioustinianos, a byzantine military doctor. Today, two baths from the years 900 and 1400 are still used. Modern day development of the baths began in 1925 and today Lagadas is a large and thermal city. In addition to the ancient baths are two modern group tubs, 21 individual jacuzzis and 20 personal tubs. Face and body treatments, beauty and rehabilitation care are available.
The hot springs curative water is 39oC and contains sodium, potassium and calcium amongst other minerals. The waters are recommended for rheumatism, arthritis, gynaecological ailments, skin and kidney problems.
The springs at Kallithea have been famous since Hellenic times for their beneficial properties. The waters flowing into the sea from the surrounding rocks attracted visitors from all over the known world. Kallithea Thermal Spa that we can see today was built by the occupying Italians in December 1928. The buildings were damaged during World War II and allowed to fall into disrepair until Kallithea town council and its mayor, Yannis Iatridis, renovated the site. The springs were restored to their former glory with great attention to detail and were successfully reopened to the public.
The waters of Kallithea are thought suitable for the treatment of arthritis, skin conditions, obesity, diabetes, tropical diseases, dysentery, malaria, allergies, asthma, cystitis, diarrhoea and intestinal conditions.
Having swum in the healing waters and walked through the fabulous art deco buildings and seen the wonderful local black and white pebble floors, I can highly recommend a visit to this spa.
The thermal springs of Loutraki promotes wellbeing and revitalization of the body. It is also thought to treat and prevent various diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and osteoporosis, gynaecological disorders, sciatica, musculoskeletal complaints, and skin disorders. The healing waters have been known since ancient times, indeed Xenophon refers to the use of this special water by the Spartans. These thermal spas have turned Loutraki into an important tourist attraction in Greece, due partly to its fame and partly due to its convenient position just one hour from Athens and close to the Corinth Canal.
20th century visits to benefit from the healing waters were boosted by containing the springs in a spa built in 1932. Restored in 2009 and connected to the luxurious modern building of Loutraki Thermal Spa, a host of treatments are offered here in addition to balneotherapy. A charming town has grown up at Loutraki and it makes a great base for an exploration of the region.
Agios Fokas, Kos
The therma or hot springs are situated in the southeastern corner of the island 13 kilometers away from Kos town at Agios Fokas. The area has a wild beauty of deep gulches, rocks and black pebbles, the result of volcanic eruptions millions of years ago.
The hot springs have been present here for centuries. The waters reputed healing properties result from water rich in potassium, calcium, magnesium, sulphur and sodium, elements considered beneficial in curing skin, arthritic or rheumatic ailments. The temperature of the waters hovers between 30-50 Celsius.
A pool has been dug so that seawater enters, cooling the hot thermal waters so that it is pleasant to bathe in. The time I visited the area (some years ago!) the pool didn't exist so you either sat in very hot water or cool sea water. Even so, it was still on of the great experiences of any visit to Kos.
For those seeking to combine mountain sports with a touch of nature’s luxurious sensations, the mythical Lake Drakolimni offers a unique experience. At an altitude of 2,050 meters, on the Gamila peak, in Epirus region, Lake Drakolimni is not an easy conquest. The path up to the lake, which starts from the village Small Papigon, takes about 4 hours to walk, giving visitors the chance to enjoy diving into the bracing waters.
If you want to promote your wellbeing and health, the natural thermal springs of Greece are a great choice. It is easy to add them to a Greek holiday itinerary. Get in touch with us for more details.
Travel planning can be daunting. It’s easy to get overwhelmed, especially when it is a complicated itinerary or a long world-spanning journey.
I have planned countless trips and holidays for over the years (for myself, friends, family and customers) and understand how getting the essentials right is key. So here is a step-by-step guide on how to travel plan effectively and with less stress.
1. Decide on your destination(s)
This sounds as though it should be the easiest step of all. With all the destination guides available on the internet nowadays there can be a risk of information overload unless you have a clear idea to start with. Instead of thinking that you want to go to a continent or country, it is much better to hone in on a specific region, island or city. Saying that you are going to Antigua rather than the Caribbean concentrates your mind and makes planning much smoother. Guidebooks and maps are also useful ways of finding out more about your chosen destination, routes and culture.
2. Decide the length of your trip
How long are you going away for? Until you know that you can't have a concrete plan. Sometimes it will be dependent on how much time off you have from work. Other times you might be flexible from 7 to 10 days. Try to be specific, for example "I'm going to Antigua for 14 nights". This will make it easier for you to find the right flight, hotel or package out of the vast array available.
3. Cost planning
Now you know where you want to go, where you going and how long you are going for, you need to set a budget. Firstly consider your style of travel, luxury hotels, all inclusive, backpacking, etc. You can then check out costs online on holiday comparison sites. Travel forums are also useful to find out how much things cost in your chosen destination. This gives you a guide as to how much you'll need for spending money. Don't forget to check the exchange rate so you know how much local currency you'll need to order. These days I find it more economical to get a small amount of currency for immediate needs on arrival then get what I need from the ATM in the destination. Of course this won't work if you're going somewhere remote!
4. Check for last minute deals
It's always worth checking travel offers to see if you can save money. You may dream of Antigua but perhaps there are special offers to Barbados right now. Maybe you can get an upgraded cabin on a cruise, or maybe you can go further for your budget. The world is a big place and there are so many places to see. Sometimes you can get a better deal if you're flexible. This does, of course, mean that you start your destination research again. But it is much quicker when the place has already been chosen.
5. Package deal or separate elements?
It is most often better to book your holiday as a package if you are taking a stay-put holiday in one destination. If you're planning a trip itinerary with multiple stops then you will almost certainly have to book your flight, accommodation and transfers separately.
6. Plan your activities
OK, so you have planned how to get to your destination and where you are staying, now you need to think about what you'll do when you get there. Of course you don't need to know every detail, just outline the major activities you want to enjoy and have an idea of the cost. Activities available will vary dependent on your destination and again, Tripadvisor forums can be really helpful. You can ask fellow travellers or local residents whether you can parascend, bungee jump or horse ride. Find out which local suppliers offer quad biking, surfing, gorge climbing or child-friendly activities. The internet is also a great place to find out more about landmarks that you want to discover on your sightseeing days. Not forgetting which are the best restaurants to try. Whatever you want to do you should make sure that your insurance covers it, particularly adrenaline sports.
Now you've decided where you are going, when, how and what you'll be doing when you get there, you are ready to plan what you need to take with you. A great tip to ensure you don't forget anything is to have a packing checklist. I've been using the same list for over 30 years and it hasn't changed much - apart from replacing the Walkman, camera and film with my mobile phone!
Make sure you include the essentials such as passport, tickets and money. You can add types of clothing and footwear (the checklist stops me forgetting nightwear!), toiletries, medication, etc. What you pack depends entirely on where you are going but I just cross off what I don't need from the list and add extras. When I go shopping pre-trip I take the list with me and highlight items as I buy them. When I pack my suitcase I lay out the items on the bed first and tick them off the list before packing the case. Happy days.
Why not download my checklist to get you started?
Still feeling overwhelmed? Why not use an experienced travel agent to make the travel planning process a cinch. Tasteful Travel are with you every step of the planning journey and can support you before, during and after your holiday.
Designed for adults who are looking for a fun, lively holiday in hotels with great design but a relaxed vibe, Cook's Club from Thomas Cook is a great offering for couples, groups of friends and families with children over 16. With simple, stylish rooms and a central pool hub the hotels have great quality casual dining and lively bar areas.
Enjoy poolside soundtracks throughout the day and a DJ on the decks at night. Cook's Club hotels also offer themed evenings, from RnB parties to BBQ cookouts. Dance till midnight at your chosen hotel and enjoy cocktails at the Captain Cook bar, mixed with premium spirits and served in quirky glass tumblers.
Dine informally at the street-food inspired Cantina. Instead of buffet style canteens, all dishes are made fresh to order - from hangover brunches to vegan treats.
Cook's Club Adakoy Marmaris has been named one of Europe's best new hotels 2019 by The i Paper. The hotel is nestled in a secluded waterfront location and offers great watersports.
Along with the Adakoy, an especially selected group of hotels form the Cook's Club. The concept is a new collection of hotels which are stripped back to focus only on the things that matter to a new generation of travellers. Here you can be surrounded by like-minded people here and spend an action-packed yet relaxing break.
Cook's Club will also be available in super cool Sardinia, Italy; Kos, Greece; Alanya, Turkey; Palma Beach, Majorca; and Sunny Beach in this year's hot spot, Bulgaria. All will have the urban chic look even though in coastal locations. The focus is on what today's traveller wants, especially the young and hip.
Instead of booking your adult only holidays direct, get extra savings on Thomas Cook's Club through a travel agent like Tasteful Travel. Search our offers for the latest deals under 'Beach Resorts & Hotels' or speak to our travel experts today.
Set within a loop of the river Severn, Shrewsbury is home to striking half- timbered Tudor and Jacobean buildings. With more than 650 of the edifices listed, many of them, including Shrewsbury's castle, are medieval. A wander through the winding streets is a joy at any time of year. Home of a vibrant music and arts scene, this compact town is far from dull and makes a wonderful winter weekend destination.
At the heart of the town-centre life of Shrewsbury with its shops, bars, cafes, art galleries and medieval streets is the Lion & Pheasant boutique hotel. Housed within an historic 16th-century inn, the hotel mixes original character and beamed ceilings with contemporary décor and eclectic furniture. Here, you can enjoy a romantic fine dining experience in a relaxed and comfortable setting, or sip your drink of choice in the stylish bar. Walk off your lunch with a stroll along the riverside, only a short distance away. Make the Lion & Pheasant your base to explore the fascinating country town of Shropshire.
The Cotswolds are magnificent at any time of year, but in autumn the rolling hills are truly breath taking. When thinking of picture-perfect Cotswold villages, they don’t come much more picturesque than Upper and Lower Slaughter in Gloucestershire. These villages with their charming riverside cottages, stone bridges crossing the River Eye are hard to beat for autumnal walks. Take a turn around Eyford House. Crunch through the fallen leaves on your riverside walk before repairing to a delightful country pub to warm up.
Travel further afield to one or both of the best-known Cotswold towns, Stow-on-the-Wold and Moreton-in-Marsh. Stow is an important shopping centre and has many fine antique shops, art galleries and craftsmen. Once the scene of huge annual fairs where as many as 20,000 sheep were sold at one time, Stow remains a fascinating market town entered across a bridge over the river. Moreton-in-Marsh is one of the principal market towns of the Cotswolds, situated on the Fosse Way Roman road. Full of 18th century houses and coaching houses, Moreton-in-Marsh still holds a market every Thursday around the Redesdale Market Hall. Wherever you go in the Cotswolds you will be surprised and delighted by the golden stoned towns and picture perfect villages.
The Slaughters Country Inn in Lower Slaughter is a great choice for exploring the footpaths and bridleways. In the evening, settle down by the roaring fireside enjoying a pint of local ale and the Inn's excellent gastro-pub fare made with the finest local produce. The Slaughters Country Inn is part of the AA Hotel Group of the Year 2017-18.
Blending traditional features of the oldest part of the house with contemporary design, the Inn’s 25 guest rooms and six charming cottages are all designed to reflect the property’s unique character. The friendly and rustic bar welcomes guests with sofas and shelves lined with books and board games. All in all, the perfect winter retreat from the hustle and bustle of Christmas preparations!
One of the most complete medieval villages in England, Lavenham was built by wealthy wool merchants of the Tudor era. Stroll through the historic town with its half-timbered houses, the Guildhall, the market cross, quaint shops, pubs and restaurants for a memorable visit. Notice the large oak doors, wide enough to allow the wool sacks to be unloaded during the halcyon days of the village. Despite its bustling past, Lavenham has remained small, making it an easy place to get to know.
The birthplace of the painter Thomas Gainsborough is in nearby Sudbury. Here you can wander through the museum and gallery then view the garden. An ancient mulberry tree still stands as the garden’s centrepiece, just as it did when it was planted in the early 1600s. Sudbury is also home to ancient water meadows which make a great walking option. Or follow in the footsteps of Queen Elizabeth I and Beatrix Potter at Melford Hall. This charming brick mansion is a great day out for all the family. If you have more than a weekend you could go further afield to charming Bury St Edmunds, the National Trust's Ikworth House or West Stow Anglo-Saxon Village for a living history experience.
The Swan is a stunning 4 star hotel with high quality dining, located in the heart of the historic centre. The afternoon tea is a must and there are frequent lunch and dinner events so make sure you check what's on. The hotel has 45 perfectly appointed bedrooms with all the little luxuries you need. Each room is utterly individual as they are all slightly different and as charming as they are comfortable. Any stay at the Swan comes with style and flair built in.
Faversham, the oldest market town in Kent, is a must for those in search of a great place to unwind. Located on a winding creek, Faversham is bursting with history. With an eclectic mix of independent shops, nearby places to visit, great walks and a reputation for fine food.
Faversham was the centre of the nation's explosive’s industry for 400 years so you can pay a call to Oare Gunpower Works or the 18th century Chart Gunpowder Mills. If you prefer the outdoors why not visit the national fruit collections at Brogdale or Mount Ephraim Gardens. If you book enough months in advance you could treat yourself to a table at The Sportsman pub, the Michelin starred restaurant. Lovely Whitstable and its oyster restaurants are a short drive away too. There is so much to see and do around Faversham you will be spoilt for choice.
A great choice for a weekend away is The Sun Inn, a beautiful old town-centre inn full of heritage. The pub, in Faversham’s conservation area, is full of original features like inglenook fireplaces and oak beams. It’s one of the most popular pubs in Faversham to drink, eat and stay, providing 12 stylish rooms. Just a short stroll from the Shepherd Neame brewery, The Sun serves distinctive Kentish cask ales of course. In addition to being a haven for real ale aficionados, the pub also offers a variety of top quality snacks and main meals to be enjoyed in the bar, restaurant or (in clement weather) in the courtyard garden. Take you morning coffee and breakfasts in the adjoining No.9 Coffee Shop. Escape the everyday and drink in the atmosphere of one of Faversham’s oldest pubs.
Glorious Camber Sands
Camber, located east of the ancient Cinque Ports town of Rye, has over 2 miles of beach, much of it golden sands. Home to the only sand dune system in East Sussex, it provides a valuable natural habitat to many animals and plants. Camber Sands isn't just dreamy in the summer months. In the autumn and winter months you can take a blustery walk along the beach and over the dunes. Nearby Rye is a 'must visit'. Once a port from Roman times, the harbour silted up gradually stranding the town inland.
Perched on a hill, the medieval town’s unhurried atmosphere and enchanting streets are dreamy. Rye is small enough to make you feel at home but with so much to discover. Antiques, books, records and artisan goods are Rye’s speciality, along with galleries, evidence of the town's thriving art community. Cobbled streets and narrow passages are ready to explore. Mermaid Street is peppered with ancient buildings and the renowned 15th century Mermaid Inn.
Winchelsea is another of the Cinque Ports stranded by the receding sea. The town now stands on an inland hilltop. This stunning village has ancient roots and its picturesque Georgian houses have inspired many an artist.
Romney Marsh - known for its natural beauty, the diversity of its habitats, rich history, extensive coastline and its sheep - is within easy reach of Camber. Even if you don't get to visit it is likely that you will have the opportunity to sample some of the region's fine produce, particularly the celebrated 'Salt Marsh Lamb'.
Once you've been for a bracing walk or done your days out to the local attractions, cosy up at the Gallivant. A restaurant with rooms, just across the road from the dunes, the Gallivant is relaxing hideaway. The 20 beautiful bedrooms have super-soft beds and giant roll top baths. The lounge boasts a log fire and a book-lined snug. The hotel's restaurant has a locally sourced menu that's well worth sampling. This coastal styled accommodation is a great choice for a weekend to recharge your batteries.
Hip Hebden Bridge
On the confluence of two rivers, hidden in a narrow valley alongside the windswept Pennine moors of Cragg Vale, stands Hebden Bridge. Home to my mother's family, this small town of weathered sandstone cottages is quite different to its neighbours, Mytholmroyd and Heptonstall. The reason for this is that it attracted the hippy movement from the 70s onward, thus turning itself into a unique destination.
Hebden Bridge grew up as a settlement on the packhorse route between Halifax and Burnley. Steep hills with fast-flowing streams and access to major wool markets meant that the town was ideal for water-powered weaving mills. The Rochdale canal passing through Hebden Bridge ensured that the cloth manufactured there could be distributed with ease. Now these signs of the town's origins house art, culture and independent shops, selling everything from vintage crockery and luxury soft furnishings to Fair Trade food. Colourful barges now tie up on the canal, once the bustling hub of the "Trouser Town". Hebden Bridge is also a market town so you can browse from Thursday to Sunday each week.
Hebden Bridge is a great base for exploring the local area. Hardcastle Crags is a spectacular place for a walk. Brave the stepping stones over the river or take in the views at the top of rocky outcrops or visit picturesque Gibson Mill - stop for tea at the National Trust cafe there. Also nearby is Halifax with its plethora of activities and places to see. Don't miss the wonderful market, housed in a grand Victorian hall, or the 18th century Piece Hall where local wool merchants used to sell their 'pieces' of cloth. After a massive renovation project, the Piece Hall is now home to high-quality boutiques and unique shops for artisans, it is also an event and festival space as well as housing heritage spaces where you can learn the history of this magnificent building. There is so much more to see funky Hebden Bridge and the surrounding area that a weekend may not be enough!
Why not stay at Croft Mill serviced apartments? Combining comfort and style with the added freedom of self-catering facilities should you just want to cuddle up instead of venturing out to eat. The amenities of Hebden Bridge are a short walk away. This 4 star property comes with secure parking and Wi-Fi. A Complimentary Welcome Breakfast Pack with fresh local produce is provided, full of all the ingredients necessary to complete a unique breakfast experience at Croft Mill. The perfect choice for immersing yourself in this historic and quirky town.
We hope you are feeling inspired to discover wonderful small towns in England this winter. To book a weekend at any of these properties or a selection of handpicked accommodation get in touch now.
The Brexit process seems to keep dragging on and on. Don't let it get you down. Time to plan your escape - at least temporarily. Brits are booking just as many holidays as ever, so at least the uncertainty of Brexit has not managed to take all the joy out of life! Here's some inspiration for your next journey.
Africa is a large continent with a huge array of vistas and activities so you can expect to find something to suit everyone. With its breathtaking natural beauty, contrasts diversity, your holiday to Africa will certainly be unforgettable.
For luxury resorts head to the north to Morocco and Egypt. This is a side of Africa full of history and a different culture to the rest of the continent. Fringed by the Mediterranean it is only a short flight too. Combine beach, city and a river cruise for the ultimate Egyptian experience. Whilst in Morocco visitors can combine desert, mountains, city and beach life.
Located about half way down Africa on the east coast, Kenya is a paradise for outdoor lovers. With its soft powdery beaches, snow-capped mountains, endless savannah and the vastness of Lake Victoria, Kenya can give you once in a lifetime experiences, like wildlife spotting on a safari.
Let's not forget South Africa, the rainbow nation. From bustling cities like Cape Town and Durban to splendid game reserves where you can view the 'big 5' - lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and Cape Buffalo. There are also mountain retreats and scenic coastal drives, not to mention great shopping and museums in Johannesburg. Fancy a tour around awe-inspiring Victoria Falls or a great wine tasting tour around Stellenbosch? Whatever your lifestyle you will find the perfect holiday in South Africa.
Why not head over to our Offers page and search for our latest Africa deals now (select holiday type then country).
England is a beautiful, surprising, historic and wonderful place. Why go abroad when there is so much to see here? From historic castles to lush green countryside to stunning coastline to ancient ports and activities galore.
Following the Brexit vote there is even more reason to stay in the UK, what with rising prices and the falling value of sterling. Get more bang for your buck in dear old Blighty. Visit extraordinary historic houses, castles and towns. The list is endless and no matter where you go, the United Kingdom is steeped in history everywhere you look. Along with this there is a huge range of accommodation to suit every pocket. There is also plenty to do from outdoor pursuits to craft workshops to museums, cinemas and children's activities.
Great Britain now produces excellent food and drink and is a haven for the foodie. Drink in the local brews in Kent, where not only is there the oldest brewery in England but also a multitude of vineyards, not to mention great pubs. Or head to Somerset where cider is king. Tour an orchard and learn how cider is made. Sample excellent local produce in West Sussex with a trip to a dairy to learn how to make cheese. Artisan producers of all types of gourmet foods abound, as do award winning vineyards. Take a trip into East Sussex and tour a quaint old brewery in Lewes.
There are so many amazing sights to see away from the obvious tourist attractions in Britain. In Yorkshire take a trip on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal and learn the history of the longest canal tunnel in the world at Standedge in Marsden, West Yorkshire. Taste remarkably good wines at one of the most northerly vineyards in the country, whilst you take a break from touring the breathtaking moorland scenery. Or head to the seaside at Whitby with its ancient abbey and old fishermen's cottages.
England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland offer some amazing choices for short or long breaks. With steam railways, mountains, lakes, rivers both fast and slow and of course endless coastline. Whether you love adrenaline sports like zorbing or white water rafting or prefer to read a newspaper in a pub with a roaring fire - you will certainly find a holiday to suit you in the UK.
Tasteful Travel design bespoke UK tours so why not book a consultation now? We also have a range of short breaks and accommodation so check out our latest offers here. If you need some inspiration for your travel planning just head over to our Destinations page and get booking your staycation now.
After you've said “I do” and set the date, one of the best parts of planning a wedding is dreaming of the honeymoon to follow. It will be your first holiday together as a married couple and you'll want it to be memorable. Here are some luxury destination ideas to get excited about.
Singapore is full of romance with memorable sightseeing spots you can explore arm in arm with your loved one. It has outstanding dining options, world-class nightlife and a safe and pleasant environment for an exciting honeymoon experience.
There is a huge range of top quality hotels in Singapore, many boasting spas. Book a couple's spa experience for the ultimate romantic treat. Try the historic Fullerton, iconic Raffles or the elegance of the Shangri-La. For more modern luxury pick the Ritz-Carlton Millenia or the Four Seasons.
Whether you are looking for a relaxing or action-packed holiday, Singapore has it all. Walk together through the wonderful Gardens by the Bay or chill out on the beach at Sentosa Island. Visit Universal Studios for an adrenaline fix or take a night safari to get up close to leopards and other nocturnal animals.
Romance is in the air at a rooftop bars. Get stunning views and first class dining at 1-Altitude at Raffles Place. Enjoy cocktails mixed by award winning mixologists at the CE LA VI skybar at the Marina Bay Sands, a microbrewery overlooking the city.
There are so many dining opportunities you'll be spoilt for choice. Take a trip on Singapore's cable car. Step into your very own private cabin and enjoy spectacular views of the city as you share a delicious 4-course meal. Grab a snack from a Hawker stall or choose fine dining in a huge array of top class hotels and restaurants. Don't forget to try Chinese and Malaysian cuisine or take a cookery lesson together.
Singapore is a buzzing and cosmopolitan city and is the perfect choice for the honeymooning couple.
A honeymoon in the Maldives gives you a chance to be together in a way that never happens at home. The name means ‘garland of islands’ in Dhivehi, the local language and evokes the wonder of this collection of magical islands. Overwater bungalows or villas in amongst the lush vegetation provide private love nests, secluded for maximum privacy and romance. Gaze from the veranda or the plunge pool across the panoramic views over the lagoon lapping the beach. The breeze rustling the palm fronds seems to whisper romance.
Each resort is on its own island so there are no strangers and the staff care for their guests in their private world. Crystal clear lagoons, white sand beaches and colourful coral reefs are standard in the Maldive islands. Exclusive upgrades, candlelit dinners under starry skies and bespoke experiences-for-two can be arranged to give your married life an amazing start.
Taj Exotica Resort and Spa for the lap of luxury on Emboodhu Finolhu island in the middle of one of the largest lagoons in Maldives. Just a 15-minute speedboat ride from the airport brings you to this idyllic resort, amidst the coral reefs.
On a private island in heart shaped Addu Atoll stands Shangri-La's Villingili Resort & Spa, an exclusive all-villa hideaway. Just 5 minutes by speedboat from the airport, the resort offers a range of activities, totally romantic dining experiences and the only 9-hole golf course in the Maldives.
One & Only Reethi Rah on one of the largest islands in North Malé Atoll. Enjoy a Thai massage over the water in the resort's award winning spa or revel in the marine life assisted by their Dive Centre. Dine in restaurants with stunning views or experience awe-inspiring private dining.
You can be as active or relaxed as you wish; swimming, snorkelling, diving or night fishing. Take a champagne sunset cruise, picnic on a sandbank and visit a desert island for just the two of you for a day. Explore the undersea world in a whale submarine or see the reefs from a seaplane. The islands have fragile eco systems so do your bit for responsible tourism and join in a coral-planting session or plant a commemorative coconut palm.
With so many picture perfect and romantic destinations in Australia, it is the perfect choice for a relaxing honeymoon to recharge your batteries. With such a huge country to discover, the range of scenery and experiences are second to none. From the World Heritage site of the Great Barrier Reef to the Red Centre, the outback, and the bustling cities, love-struck newlyweds can drink in the beautiful landscapes and revel in warm hospitality Australia has to offer.
The Whitsunday Islands
With pristine beaches and teeming with colourful marine life, Hamilton Island is paradise on earth. One of the Whitsunday Islands in Queensland, it offers good weather year round and some outstanding accommodation. At the northern tip of Hamilton Island, qualia is a completely private hideaway situated within the Great Barrier Reef. Only one island away from the brilliant white sands of Whitehaven Beach, Hamilton Island is the perfect location for exploring one of the most beautiful parts of Australia, or for a barefoot chill-out.
For a city-centric honeymoon, Melbourne is a vibrant and bustling destination. With its quaint alleys and cafe-filled lanes and historic buildings, Melbourne enchants. Activities abound: watching movies under the stars; taking a gourmet boat trip; private wine tasting tours, romantic strolls around the Botanical Gardens; or visits to museums and galleries, Melbourne has it all. It is also one of the culinary hubs of Australia, so you'll be spoilt for choice with restaurants, cafes, wine bars and micro-breweries. Treat yourself to butler service at The Langham for the ultimate stay in Melbourne.
For foodies you could not pick a better location for your honeymoon than the Barossa Valley. A region full of farms and wineries, the Barossa is one of the best places in Australia to sip a glass of wine. The locals are very welcoming and friendly in the Barossa and you can also enjoy many festivals like the Barossa Gourmet Weekend, Barossa Vintage Festival and so much more. Recharge your senses at 1860 Wine Country Cottages where you can walk hand-in-hand in the quiet countryside or experience their Boutique Wine and Food Trails. Relaxing and laid back, a honeymoon in the Barossa Valley is a unique experience.
'Found in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, heavenly Hawaii offers a breathtaking honeymoon to romantic newlyweds. Consisting of six unique islands, Hawaii invites you to experience distinct adventures, activities and sights. From the hustle and big surf of Oahu to the pineapple plantations and volcano views of Maui, to the coffee farms of Hawaii (big island) to the dramatic scenery of Kauai, Hawaii gives honeymooners a huge choice of amazing holidays.
On Maui you can experience a huge variety of scenery and climates on such a small island. When I visited this magical island we stayed in the historic Lahaina area where it rarely rains but visited tropical Hana after a picturesque and memorable drive, discovered British looking meadows on our way to Haleakala National Park - a barren volcanic landscape. Take part in the Old Lahina Luau or try Maui wines at Ulupalakua Vineyards and visit one of the many excellent restaurants. Explore this fabulous island from the Four Seasons Resort Maui on Wailea Beach. Unwind in style on a Maui honeymoon.
The third largest island of Hawaii, Oahu is sometimes called "The Gathering Place" and it lives up to the name as it houses the capital, Honolulu, and is the most populous island of the group. A honeymoon on Oahu gives lovers a great balance between buzzing metropolis and laid back surf resorts. Its a fascinating island with so much to experience, like the Dole Plantation, where you can eat the best pineapple you ever had! Don't forget to sample a delicious cocktail, the Mai Tai took its current form in 1954 at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in iconic Waikiki. While you're in Waikiki you can climb Diamond Head, an extinct volcano which has been used as a military base. The amazing views from the top are worth climbing all those stairs.
For the best surf in the world head to the North Shore where you'll find the famous Banzai Pipeline - best leave the surfing to the professionals as it can be dangerous for the inexperienced but its great to watch. I found the Polynesian Cultural Center fun as well as fascinating and you can also sit where Elvis did on the base of the double palm from Blue Hawaii! No visit to Oahu would be complete without a sobering visit to Pearl Harbour. Oahu really does have something for everyone.
Escape to the "Garden Island", Kauai is the northernmost island in the Hawaiian chain. When you see the emerald valleys, sharp mountains and cliffs carved by the elements, Kauai will take your breath away. With tropical rainforests, rivers and waterfalls it is not surprising that the island offers so many outdoor pursuits. Kayaking, hiking and ziplining are available. Discover the Wailua River, Poipu Beach and Kokee State Park. Head to the South Shore for Old Koloa Town, a historic and charming town which was built on sugar production, which explains the vibrant multi-cultural population of the town today.
Although Kauai is full of resorts, golf, shopping, beaches and sights, there are many places which are only accessible by air or sea, ensuring that it cannot be overdeveloped. If you want an active honeymoon in beautiful scenery, look no further than Kauai.
For more information on any of these amazing destinations or to book your honeymoon, get in touch with our travel specialists today.
Not take a cruise yet? Wonder if you might feel claustrophobic or feel seasick? Well as a sufferer of both conditions I can tell you that neither affected me on my first cruise.
Instead cruising was an experience very like what you see on the adverts, sitting in the pool on deck watching the children play and looking out to sea at the endlessly changing vista. The food was amazing and there was something for everyone to do. No doubt any of your friends who have cruised will also tell you this type of holiday has a lot to recommend it. Here are some of the reasons you should give it a try.
1. Great value for money
Fares include food, accommodation, daytime and evening entertainment and transfers. On land for a hotel, dinner and a show you could pay considerably more for the same standard. There are often even better deals including free kids places, drinks packages and more. Luxury cruise lines are even more inclusive, drinks, gratuities, shore excursions, onboard credits, and even flights packaged into the fare.
2. Unpack once
You float from one destination to the other without having the hassle of getting on and off trains, planes and automobiles! Choose your cruise dependent on the ports of call you wish to visit and then just relax.
3. Stress-free planning
If you don't want the hassle of planning your itinerary before you go on holiday then a cruise is the perfect choice. Once you book you just need to turn up! All the details are planned for you and all you really have to do is choose the destination, the dates and the shore excursions you wish to take. It really is a relaxing way to vacation.
4. Fun for all ages
There is entertainment to suit your whole intergenerational party. Many cruise lines now feature a range of activities for the kids split into different age ranges. From rock climbing to zip wires, kids clubs to surf simulators, video games to dancing. But cruises don't just entertain the young, there are top class shows, lectures, cookery classes, spas, exercise classes and much, much more for the adults - no matter what age. So take your grandchildren, children or just cruise as a couple, you'll find all you need to keep you busy, happy and entertained.
5. Great range of ship styles
Cruises are no longer a 'one size fits all' holiday. The ideal ship may be a 'mega-liner' with all the amenities from outdoor cinemas to skydiving simulators. You may prefer a smaller, more intimate cruise experience with old-style elegance. More of an explorer? Choose one of the newer ships which are being purpose built to cruise the less explored destinations of Antarctica or the Amazon. Alternatively pick the ultimate luxury of a clipper ship or a smaller vessel with impeccable service and amenities. Whatever your style there is a ship to suit you.
6. A world within a world
Cruise liners are like miniature worlds of their own. If you left something at home, need to wash your clothes, have health issues or just need to keep in touch with your loved ones there are ways to do this onboard. So ships are equipped with onboard shops, laundries, medical facilities, Wi-Fi and many other useful services as well as all the fun stuff.
7. Sightsee with ease
Nervous of sightseeing in an exotic destination on your own? Worried about the language barrier? No problem. Explore with the shore excursions arranged by the cruise lines. With these you will be transported from the ship to the sightseeing location with crew or a local guide (or both). This gives you the security of a group as well as local knowledge and English-speaking guides. Alternatively you can always team up with other passengers to share a taxi or a local guide.
8. Cruising is romantic
A cruise provides lots of together time. The sweeping vistas passing by, the wind in your hair and being on deck under the twinkling stars can certainly set the mood for romance. Take the love of your life with you or perhaps you'll find that special someone onboard. Don't forget, cruise lines can do special packages for honeymoons, anniversaries and you can even get married onboard.
9. A social occasion
A cruise gives you plenty of opportunity to mix and mingle. There are people from home and from all over the world who cruise and you may meet them at the pool, at the dinner table or in the bar. Children can meet lots of new friends too during the many youth-centric activities. A ship is a safe environment too - so you don't have to worry about the teenagers going off with their friends. Meet new friends onboard and you may cruise together next time.
10. World class food
There is so much choice onboard a cruise ship that the only thing you need to worry about is your waistline! There are buffets with a dazzling array of dishes for you to choose from so you can be sure that even the pickiest eater is catered for. There are also a la carte restaurants, often serving a particular cuisine, such as Italian, Chinese or French. Fine dining options will be available on the more luxury ships. Rest assured that no matter how much your cruise costs the food will be wonderful and served with style. On some cruises you might even get to tour the kitchens and try your hand at the chef's creations. A cruise is definitely a great choice for the foodie.
So what are you waiting for? Take a look at our latest cruise deals here.
If you love the Yuletide and can't get enough of the baubles, bells and twinkling lights, then a Christmas wedding is just right for you! Here’s some inspiration for decking those wedding halls and being very jolly.
Although not a common one, if you love Christmas it can be a knockout wedding theme. There is so much scope to let your imagination run riot, cuddle up in the cold weather and ramp up the romance by lighting up the darkness.
Winter wonderland wedding
Fill your mood board with shades of white to fit your style. Creams and pinky whites will soften the look of your wedding decor. Table linen, drapery and chairs can all be white but you can change up the look with textured fabric. Accents of colour can be introduced in ribbons or bows and add greenery or white flowers to complete your winter wonderland look. And don’t forget a bit of sparkle with some metallic details to be bang on trend.
Cool wedding colours
Choose red and green as your wedding colours if you are keeping it traditional. Bring these colours bang up to date with lots of elegant greenery and luxurious fresh flowers. If you want a more opulent touch, opt for rich shades of purple or burgundy. Mix your chosen statement colours with softer shades, such as peach, pink or creamy white. Share your colour scheme with your wedding planner or venue so they can bring it to life. They may well have some great suggestions for you too.
Christmas - woodland style
Think of Christmas and we think of trees. Create a wonderful woodland theme with lots of natural elements, like pinecones and green foliage. Like the song, there’s holly and there’s ivy but there is also mistletoe. These are the obvious choices but you could think about adding other evergreen boughs and seasonal greenery. Delicate white blooms such as snowdrops and lilies add a wintery touch to a woodland theme. For your bouquet add a splash of colour with berries and pine cones to contrast with pale foliage and white flowers.
Dressing for a Christmas wedding
Here at Tasteful Travel we absolutely adore winter weddings. They are always filled with sleek white colour schemes, have imaginative décor and a stunning winter wedding dress. Winter weddings need dresses that will keep you warm but still be dreamy. Long sleeves are not always necessary if you choose a beautiful bolero, jacket, shawl, shrug or cape to go over the dress. Think about delicate embellishment, a touch of crystal, metallic accents or a touch of colour for the perfect Christmas wedding gown.
Location, location, location
Where will you tie the knot at Christmas? Either you head for a snowy destination or you create your winter wonderland wherever you choose. Lapland is the most Christmassy destination you can think of and there is great skiing to go with your wedding in Switzerland, Austria, Greece and so many European destinations. Further afield marry during a white Christmas in New Zealand, California and Japan.
Even in the hottest of destination weddings the winter theme can be brought to the proceedings with baubles, white flowers, candles and metallic accessories. And the same can be said for any venue closer to home. At Tasteful Travel we love to find the perfect destination wedding for our clients at any time of year so why not contact us for more inspiration.
With the magic of Christmas sprinkled through your wedding flowers, bridal wear and decor, you are sure to have a very special day. Extra little touches can be added by way of your wedding favours. Wrap them up like little Christmas presents or miniature stockings. Treat your guests to shortbread or gingerbread, small bottles of mulled wine or anything else Christmassy. Use sticks of cinnamon to decorate for an ultra wintery look. And finally, don't forget to choose your favourite Christmas tunes for the dance floor!