Kenilworth Hotel in Kolkata, India

by Santorini Dave • Updated: June 24, 2019

Review of Kenilworth Hotel in Kolkata, India.

Kenilworth – A touch of history and a splash of charm in a vibrant area.

Within the former diplomatic enclave (before the British moved the capital to New Delhi), the Kenilworth still offers some historic elegance despite the upgrades and extensions. Rooms are in two buildings: those in the whitewashed Heritage Wing are closer to the noisy corner and likably old-fashioned, while those in the newer wing are disappointingly more like a motel than a colonial-era hotel and not as charming. Still, the facilities throughout are very good (although there is no pool) and it’s in a comparatively pleasant area packed with upmarket shops and tempting cafés and bars. Away from the tourist scene, the Kenilworth is a top-notch hotel without the top-end rates.

Kenilworth, Kolkata – The Location

  • Address: The official address of ‘1 & 2 Little Russel Street, Kankaria Estates’ isn’t much help to anyone. It’s actually on the corner of Little Russel Street (a side street) and the main thoroughfare, Shakespeare Sarani Road. In the inner southern suburbs.
  • Area: Comparatively affluent area, with many offices, banks, and other commercial buildings. Packed with middle-class workers during the day, so the cafés, bars, and shops are better than average.
  • How to Get There: Taxis from the pre-paid counters at the airport take about 1 hour (22km). From the main railway station (Howrah), the hotel is 25-35 minutes (9km) by taxi. See Local Transport below for more information about taxis and the metro.

Kenilworth, Kolkata – The Basics

  • Guests: Mostly business people of all nationalities, and some Indians attending weddings.
  • Views: Views from the Heritage Wing are of the courtyard garden or busy road (but the soundproofing is effective). The street views from the newer wing are more expansive, except for those on the ground floor.
  • Private Pools/Jacuzzis: Not expected or provided in an older-style inner-city hotel like this in Kolkata.
  • 
Wi-Fi: Available free throughout for all guests.
  • How to Book: Booking.com will have the best rates.
  • Phone: +91 (0)33 2282 3939
  • Email: [email protected]
  • Website: kenilworthhotels.com

Kenilworth, Kolkata – Amenities

  • Pool: Surprisingly, there isn’t a pool. Not expected in the older wing, but obviously ignored when designing the newer building.
  • Spa: Unusually, there is one, but the Sohum Spa & Salon offers little more than massages.
  • Fitness Center: Part of the spa complex and pleasingly large, the Pulse Fitness Centre also provides personal trainers.

Kenilworth, Kolkata – Food and Drink

  • Restaurants & Bars: Aromas – The main restaurant at the lobby serves breakfast to guests and a la carte meals all day. Pleasant garden setting and friendly staff. • Mae Kong – In the older Heritage Wing. Contemporary versions of cuisines from all over Asia. Splendid décor, and bar attached. • Ovenfresh – Delicious and fresh cakes, pastries, and breads.
  • Breakfast: Included for guests in the suites and more expensive rooms. Otherwise, pay at the time if required.
  • Room Service: Available from about 7 am to 11 pm.

Kenilworth, Kolkata – Rooms

  • Room Types: Executive Twin Rooms • Executive Deluxe Rooms • Business Club Rooms • Business Club View Rooms • Business Club Suites • Russel Suites
  • Smoking Rooms: No smoking in the rooms or public areas, but permitted elsewhere.
  • Best Room: Very swish and admirably spacious, the Russel Suites feature a charming contemporary décor, and the separate living/dining areas are quite large.
  • For Families: Nothing specific available, but some rooms in the newer wing have connecting doors.

Kenilworth, Kolkata – Local Transport

  • Walking: The sidewalks are full of food stalls, but it is a comparatively pleasant area for strolling. Plenty of tempting shops and cafés in the area.
  • Public Transport: The Kolkata Metro is reasonably useful to reach areas a little further south or north, but won’t reach the airport and main railway station (Howrah) until at least mid-2021. The nearest metro station, Maidan, is about 600m away. Head up the side-street, turn left at the junction, and then right at Chowringhee Road (7-minute walk).
  • Taxis & Auto-rickshaws: Taxis are easy to find. The yellow ones have no air-con, while the blue-and-white ones do. Both types have meters, but drivers need to be pressured into using them. Rides can also be booked using Uber and Ola apps. Unusually, no types of rickshaws anywhere in the area.

Kenilworth, Kolkata – What’s Nearby?

Restaurants & Bars

    All sorts of food stalls catering to local workers pack the footpaths, so this may be a good time and place to try some authentic street food.

  • Deck 88 – Lovely café with al fresco setting and lively bar, open from late afternoon. In The Astor hotel. 2-minute walk (140m).
  • Kebab-e-Que – At ground level below Deck 88. Classy décor and popular with meat lovers. 2-minute walk (140m).
  • Monkey Bar – One of several bars also serving excellent food, and located on the upper floors of office buildings along Camac Street. At the corner that the hotel faces, head left (east) and then turn right at the traffic lights. 5-minute walk (400m).
  • The Senator Hotel – Offers a café with value-packed buffets and a la carte meals all day. Just down Camac Steet from Monkey Bar. 6-minute walk (500m).
  • I Love Haldiram – Cafeteria-style, with huge dining area. Tasty food, low prices, and spotlessly clean. The traditional masala tea is excellent. Directly opposite The Senator Hotel. 6-minute walk (500m).

Shops

  • Better range of shops in this more affluent area. The New B. K. Market is an indoor collection of stalls, mostly selling clothes, but with few customers, the hard sell is common. On the other side of the road, 100m left (east) from the corner with the hotel. 1-minute walk.

Kenilworth, Kolkata – The Hotel

The historic hotel is ideal for all types or tourists.

The historic Kenilworth (which is also signposted in English) is popular among Indian tourists and business people, and is still ideal for foreign tourists as well.

The hotel is the classiest among nearby rivals.

The Kenilworth is easily the classiest hotel in the area.

The hotel has an older and a newer, more modern wing.

There are 2 sections: the Heritage Wing on the corner with the older rooms and this newer wing featuring modern rooms.

The Aromas restaurant serves breakfast and a la carte meals all day.

The lobby restaurant, Aromas, serves breakfast to hotel guests and a la carte meals all day.

Ovenfresh serves delicious home-baked pastries, cakes, and bread.

Next to Aromas, Ovenfresh offers delicious home-baked pastries, cakes, and breads.

The Mae Kong restaurant serves an authentic Asia menu.

In the older Heritage Wing, the Mae Kong restaurant serves authentic Asian cuisine.

The fitness center is fairly large.

Attached to the spa, the fitness center is quite large.

The newer wing rooms are spacious and modern.

Rooms in the newer wing are spacious, functional, and modern.

The commercial neighborhood features slightly affluent workers.

The area around the Kenilworth is packed with comparatively affluent workers from neighboring offices, banks, and other commercial buildings.

The neighborhood facilities are more for locals than tourists.

Facilities in the general area are set up for local workers rather than foreign tourists, but are still interesting.

The excellent street food around the hotel is worth a try.

Popular among business workers, the street food around the hotel is excellent and worth a try.

The area also features a lot of fruit stalls.

Unusually, there are also many fruit stalls in the general area.

The Deck 88 café/bar at The Astor hotel nearby is fabulous.

In The Astor hotel, about 150m around the corner from the Kenilworth, are 2 fabulous places to eat and drink, including the Deck 88 café/bar.

Kebab-e-Que is a classy restaurant at The Astor hotel.

On the ground floor of The Astor hotel, below Deck 88, is the classy Kebab-e-Que restaurant.

The Senator Hotel nearby is known for its excellent-value buffets.

Worth a 500m walk for the excellent-value buffets is the café at The Senator Hotel. From the corner at the Kenilworth, continue left (east) and turn right at the traffic lights.

I Love Haldiram serves tasty Indian and western food in a clean setting.

Opposite The Senator Hotel, the I Love Haldiram cafeteria serves tasty food in a spacious and spotless environment.

I Love Haldiram is also known for its sweets and pastries.

Counters at I Love Haldiram are packed with sickly-sweet confectionary and cakes.

There are several cafes and bars in the neighborhood.

On the same street as The Senator Hotel are several cafés/bars, most of them located on the upper floors of office buildings.

Monkey Bar near The Senator Hotel serves excellent food as well.

The most inviting bar/café near The Senator Hotel, Monkey Bar also serves excellent food.

The area has several upmarket shops.

Catering for more affluent workers, the general area offers a better range of upmarket shops than normal.

The white and blue taxis are metered and air-conditioned.

With a dearth of auto-rickshaws in the area, taxis are generally the easiest way to get around the city. The blue-and-white ones are metered and air-conditioned (but passengers are charged more if air-con is used).

Santorini Wineries and Wine Tours

Home > Greece > Santorini > Wine Tours
by Santorini Dave • Updated: June 24, 2019

Santorini Wines, Wineries, and Wine Tours

A vineyard at a Santorini winery near Oia.

Highly recommended: A Santorini wine tour that visits multiple wineries.

  • Best Santorini Winery Tours: Santorini Small Group Wine TourSantorini Private Wine Tour
  • Santorini is famous for its wine and wineries. This is one of the highlights of a Santorini trip.
  • Wine tours are incredibly popular on Santorini and they fill up quickly – book early.
  • Many wineries offer tours and wine tasting but if you want to visit multiple wineries, book a wine tour (most wineries are small and hard to find if you don’t know the island well). Most tours include hotel pickup and drop off.
  • It’s possible to visit wineries on your own but a tour makes getting from one to the next much quicker and easier. Plus, drinking and driving is very uncool.
  • Santorini wine is wonderful and unique owing to the dry and unusual climate. Be sure to try some even if you don’t go on a tour.
  • The Santorini wineries with the best caldera views are Santo and Venetsanos. Most wine tours will visit one or both of them.
  • Santorini boat tours don’t sell out as early, so book your wine tour first.

The Best Wine Tours in Santorini

1. Small Group Santorini Wine Tour

Santorini wine and food tour.
A great small-group tour that visits three traditional wineries and vineyards scattered around Santorini. Hotel pickup and drop off makes it all super easy. Will usually visit Santo Winery or Venetsanos (both with great caldera views) or Gavalas (my favorite) and 2 others. Starts at 3:30pm and lasts a little over four hours.

2. Santorini Private Wine Tour

Private tour of Santorini winery and wine making.
This is a private wine tour for serious wine lovers. Definitely worth it for the intimacy and attention to detail, but maybe not for everyone. Most people do it as a couple but the tour allows for a group of 6. Starts at 10am or 4pm with the evening tour having a sunset vies from either Santo or Venetsanos Wineries.

3. Santorini Sunset Wine Tour

Santorini Winery with Sunset and Caldera View
Wonderful small group tour in the early evening. Visit 3 wineries and have 12 tastings. Starts at 4:00pm and usually finishes at Venetsanos Winery (pictured above) for fantastic caldera views of the sunset.

Fully Booked Wine Tours

It’s common for the above tours to sell out in June, July, August, and September. If so these tours are also excellent:
Santorini Wine Roads Tour
Half-Day Wine Adventure Tour
Santorini Sunset Wine Tour

The Best Santorini Wineries

  • Santo Wines (Pyrgos) – The most comprehensive tours of any one winery. It has a large shop filled with wines and local food specialties. Fantastic views of the cliffs and caldera. (Most wine tours visit Santo or Venetsanos.)
  • Venetsanos Winery (Megalochori) – Similar views as Santo but a little smaller, with a little more charm.
  • Gavalas (Megalochori) – My favorite winery on Santorini. Small, friendly, intimate (but hard to find if you’re driving on your own).
  • Art Space Santorini (Exo Gonia) – A spellbinding mix of wine, caves, and art. The owner guides you around the property and explains its history with a thick Greek accent. Very cool.
  • Domaine Sigalas (Oia) – A small winery a 10-minute walk from a bus stop on the Fira-Oia bus route. It has wine tastings with appetizers from March to November.
  • Koutsoyannopoulos Wine Museum (Vothonas) – A 300 meter long cellar (8 meters underground) that hosts a wine museum. The museum presents the history of Greek wine and the life of vine-growers in Santorini since the 1600s.

Santorini Winery Reviews

Map of Santorini Wineries

Getting To Santorini Wineries:
• Buses from Fira to Akrotiri or Perissa will stop a short walk from Santo Winery, Venetsanos, Gavalas, and Boutari. (If coming from Oia, Imerovigli, or another village you’ll need to bus to Fira and then switch buses.)
• Buses from Fira to Kamari will stop a short walk from the Koutsoyannopoulos Wine Museum, Artemis Karamolegos Winery, Canava Roussos, Argyros Winery, and Art Space Winery. (If coming from Oia, Imerovigli, or another village you’ll need to bus to Fira and then switch buses.)
• Buses from Fira to Oia will stop a moderate walk from Vassaltis Vineyards and Domaine Sigalas Winery.
• Getting a Santorini taxi to and from wineries is possible, but in practice, a pretty big hassle.

Map of Santorini Wineries.

Pictures of Santorini Wineries

My photos of all the Santorini wineries from the Santorini Dave Instagram account.

Venetsanos Winery

View this post on Instagram

Venetsanos Winery – Megalochori. – A charming winery offering gorgeous views of caldera and volcanic cliffs. – As with most wineries in Santorini, assyrtiko is the most commonly used variety of grape. Used on its own or blended with other varieties like aidani and athiri. – Tours offered every hour and vary from 20-60 minutes. €6/person for tour alone or €15/person for tour and wine tasting. 6 different wines to choose from. A la carte menu with a variety of cheeses and some traditional food items like dolmathes available. – Open all year round at 10am with extended hours May to October. Closed December 15-January 15. – Popular spot for weddings and receptions (book far in advance). – Plenty of parking available if you’re driving. Take bus from Fira towards Perissa or Megalochori and ask driver to get of at Venetsanos. Stop a short walk to winery. #santorini #greece

A post shared by Santorini Dave (@santorinidave) on

Santo Wines

View this post on Instagram

Santo Wines Winery – Pyrgos – A modern winery with stunning views of the caldera and cliffs. -Assyrtiko, found all over the island, is the most popular white grape variety that thrives on Santorini’s volcanic soil. Used on its own or blended with other varieties such as the Athiri and Aidani white grape also found throughout the island. -Restaurant on site. -Large shop filled with wines and local food specialties. Also offer home delivery service with UPS. -Direct buses from Fira, Perissa, and Akrotiri. Otherwise take a bus from wherever you are and change at Fira. Tell the bus driver when you get on you want a stop at Santos and they will drop you off just outside the winery. Parking available on site if you’re driving -Popular spot for weddings and receptions (book far in advance). – Daily wine tours. Can call after 9:30am to make reservations or book online. €12 per person for 20 minutes followed by 2 wines for tasting, Assyrtiko and Kameni -Open 9am to 10pm, summer months until midnight #santorini #greece

A post shared by Santorini Dave (@santorinidave) on

Gavalas Winery

View this post on Instagram

Gavalas Winery – Megalochori – A small, friendly winery that has been family run for 5 generations. – Offers an intimate wine tasting experience without the views but Perissa can be seen in the distance from the outside patio. – Considered to be the oldest variety of white grape in Greece, assyrtiko is most commonly used in combination with other varieties like aidani and athiri. – 3 options for wine tasting available: 3,5 or 7 bottles. 3 bottles €10/person. 5 bottles €15/person. 7 bottles €20/person. – Tours take about an hour. – Good idea to make reservations, especially with larger groups, but drop-ins are welcome. – Hours of operation are: April 1st to October 30th 10am – 8pm. – No restaurant on site but there is a good taverna nearby that serves traditional Greek food. – Limited parking available if driving. – Bus stop is in Megalochori, about a 7-10 minute walk away. – Not all buses are direct to Megalochori, but you can change buses in Fira if yours doesn’t make a stop here. – Small selection of wine for purchase at reception. #santorini #greece

A post shared by Santorini Dave (@santorinidave) on

Boutari Winery

View this post on Instagram

Boutari Winery – Megalochori -A pioneer in wine making, this is Greece’s most historical wine company dating back to 1879. -In the early 80’s, Boutari brought its experience and innovative wine making strategies to Santorini and as such, continue to provide educational seminars. -In 1990, it was the first winery in Greece to open its doors to the public for organized wine tasting and tours. -Open all year round. 10am – 7pm April to October and 10am to 3pm November to March. -The indigenous grape in Santorini is assyrtiko and is used on its own or in combination with athiri and aidani. -Indoor restaurant on site and offers 5 traditional plates using local ingredients. -View of Akrotiri. -Daily wine tours available. Drop-ins welcome but reservations are recommended. You can book online or by calling. Various tours available ranging from 5-8 wines with and without food pairing and range from €15 for 45 minutes to €85 for 90 minutes. -Plenty of parking available if you’re driving. Bus stop in Megalochori, winery a short walk from there. Some direct routes to Megalochori, otherwise transfer in Fira. #santorini #greece

A post shared by Santorini Dave (@santorinidave) on

Domaine Sigalas

View this post on Instagram

Domaine Sigalas Winery – Oia – A small, scenic winery offering good views of the sunset. – Open all year round with extended hours during summer. December to March, closed on weekends but will accommodate reservations. – As with most of Santorini wineries, the most commonly used variety of white grape is assyrtiko, used alone or blended with athiri and/or aidani. – Tours and wine tasting options start at €12/person to €150/person depending on how many bottles you want to sample and if you include food. – Menu items are local and differ every month depending what seasonal items are available. If you want to try the on site food options, 48 hours notice is required to prepare. – Restaurants available within walking distance. Traditional taverna just up the road. – Parking available. – Bus stop a 10 minute walk on the Fira-Oia bus route. #santorini #greece

A post shared by Santorini Dave (@santorinidave) on

Art Space Winery

View this post on Instagram

ArtSpace Winery – Exo Gonia – A unique winery dating back to 1861. It’s a spellbinding mix of wine, caves and art. – The art exhibits occupy two old wine cellars where Greek and international artists’ work are on display. – In the adjacent underground cavern, 8-12 metres below ground, an old barn, is where the modern winery lies. – The most common variety of grape in Santorini, assyrtiko, is most commonly used for these wines, but also Aidani is used on its own or in combination with assyrtiko. – Wines available for purchase at reception. – Open daily 11am to 7pm April to October. November to March open by reservation only. – The owner, Mr. Antonis, personally takes you around the winery and art space explaining its history all with a thick accent. – Reservations are not necessary during high season. Mr. Antonis tries to accommodate every visitor. – Price of tasting varies depending on how many bottles you want to try. Starting at €10 for 4 wines and €20 for 8 wines. – Cold platters of meat and cheeses available on site. – Parking available. – Bus from Fira, stop at Exo Gonia. Winery a short walking distance from there. #santorini #greece

A post shared by Santorini Dave (@santorinidave) on

Estate Argyros

View this post on Instagram

Estate Argyros Winery – Episkopi Gonia – A large, modern winery located in the heart of its vineyards with ocean views. – Assyrtiko is the main variety of grape produced in the unique volcanic soil of Santorini and as such is most commonly used. Other varieties include Aidani, Arthiri and Mavrotragano, a deep, ruby red variety. – Open all year round. May to October 10am to 9pm. November to April 9am to 6pm. – Reservations for wine tasting and tours recommended but drop-ins accommodated. – €15/person for 60 minutes includes tour and 4 wines with cheese platter. – €40/person for 90 minutes includes tour and 7 wines with cold meat and cheese platter and a few selected Greek specialties depending on local ingredients. – Restaurants within walking distance. – Parking available. – Bus from Fira and stop within walking distance. Ask driver to stop at Argyros. #santorini #greece

A post shared by Santorini Dave (@santorinidave) on

Gaia Winery

View this post on Instagram

Gaia Winery – Exo Gonia. – A laid back, charming winery located directly on the water. – The main grape varieties used here are the indigenous white grape assyrtiko and the red grape agiorgitiko. – Reservations are recommended but drop-ins welcomed and accommodated. – Tours and tastings: 4 wines; €8 per person for 30-45 minutes. 8 wines; €15 per person for 45-60 minutes. – Cold meat and cheese platters available on site. Dinner is also available, but you have to request and book this option 2-3 days in advance. Modern and traditional food options available. – Restaurants available in nearby Kamari. About a 20 minute walk away or can bus it there. – Bus stop about a 5 minute walk away. Direct buses from Fira, Kamari and Monolithos. – Plenty of parking available. – Open for the summer season May to October 11am to 7pm. #santorini #greece

A post shared by Santorini Dave (@santorinidave) on

Hatzidakis Winery

View this post on Instagram

Hatzidakis Winery – Pyrgos. – Founded in 1997, this charming winery overlooks it’s vineyards just outside the village of Pyrgos. – This winery was the first to use the native red grape variety of mavrotragano. – Assyrtiko and Aidani, both white grape varieties indigenous to Santorini, are also commonly used. – Tour and Tasting: 6 wines with cheese platter, €14 per person. Duration aprox 45-60 minutes. – Open all year round. May to October Monday-Saturday 10:15am to 7pm. November to April Monday – Friday 8:30am to 4:30pm. – Drop ins welcome and accommodated but reservations recommended. During winter season, reservations only. – No restaurant on site but restaurants and tavernas in nearby Pyrgos. – Not an easy walk to winery or Pyrgos as it’s located just off a narrow, windy road not suitable for walking. – Bus stop in Pyrgos. Get off at the last stop. From there, winery can make arrangements to come pick you up only if you’ve made reservations. – Limited parking available. #santorini #greece

A post shared by Santorini Dave (@santorinidave) on

Canava Roussos

View this post on Instagram

Canava Roussos – Mesa Gonia – This traditional, laid back winery is the oldest in Santorini, founded in 1836. – The indigenous white grape varieties of assyrtiko, athiri, aidani and the red grape varieties of mavrathiro and mandilaria are used. – Parties of up to 5 people don’t necessarily need reservations but more than that, reservations recommended. – Tour and Tasting: 4 wines (assyrtiko) €3 per sample or €6 per glass. Tours are not structured so time varies depending on the group. – Cold meat and cheese platter available with tastings. – No restaurant on site or nearby. – Parking available. – Bus stop close by and an easy walk to winery from there. Ask driver to get off at stop for Roussos. #santorini #greece

A post shared by Santorini Dave (@santorinidave) on

Vassaltis Vineyards

View this post on Instagram

Vassaltis Winery – Vourvoulos – A laid back, modern winery with views of the water. – Relatively new winery, opened in 2016. – Reservations are highly recommended but drop-ins will be accommodated. Email or phone to book. – Open April to October, 7 days a week 11am to 8pm. Closed November to April. – Indigenous white grape varieties of assyrtiko, aidani, arthiri and red grapes of mavrotragano and mandilaria are used. – Tour and Tastings: 1) 3 wines and a tour, €20 per person. 2) 3 wines and amuse-bouche (Greek tapas), no tour, €15 per person. 3) 5 wines and amuse-bouche, no tour, €25 per person. This year tours are only at 3pm. This could change next year. – Restaurant on site. Seafood mostly on the menu with plenty of vegetarian options and some meat options. Traditional Greek items also available. – Parking available. – 2 bus stop options depending on if you come from the new or old road. If you are coming from the new road, bus stop about a 10 minute walk from the winery just before getting into the village of Vourvoulos. Ask bus driver to make a stop at the winery, If you are coming from the old road, you can get off at the square in Vourvoulos and check out the village. The winery is about a 20 minute walk from there. Or you can go past this and get off at the one closer to the winery. #santorini #greece

A post shared by Santorini Dave (@santorinidave) on

Koutsoyannopoulos Wine Museum

View this post on Instagram

Koutsoyannopoulos Winery and Museum – Exo Gonia – A winery that hosts a museum nestled in a cave 8 meters deep and 300 meters long. – The museum depicts scenes of what life was like for wine growers and makers in the 1600’s. – Museum tours are conducted through an audio guide available in 14 different languages and a guidebook available in 22 different languages. – Wine tasting options: 4 wines at 10€ per person; 6 wines at 15€ per person and 8 wines at 20€ per person. Prices include museum tour. – A variety of indigenous grapes used, most commonly assyrtiko and aithani. – Open all year round: November to March, Monday through Saturday: 9am to 5pm, Sunday: 10am to 5pm. April to October, Monday through Saturday: 9am to 7pm and Sunday: 10am to 7pm. – Plenty of parking available. – Bus stop about 100 meters away from winery. #santorini #greece

A post shared by Santorini Dave (@santorinidave) on

Artemis Karamolegos Winery

View this post on Instagram

Artemis Karamolegos Winery- Exo Gonia. – A modern winery with ocean views that began in 1952. – It boasts an excellent on site Greek/Mediterranean restaurant, Aroma Avlis, that has fresh seafood daily. Plenty of vegetarian and meat options available as well. – Reservations recommended for tours and wine tasting but drop-ins welcome. Book a day in advance if you want food pairing with your tasting. – Tours and Tasting options: 3 wines at 8€ per person. 4 wines at 11€ per person. 5 wines at 14€ per person. 5 PDO wines 15€ per person. 7 wines at 20€ per person. If you would like food pairing with your tasting, prices range from 65€ to 140€ depending on how many bottles of wine and what food options you select. – The indigenous white grape varieties of assyrtiko and aidani, and the red grape variety of mavrotragano are most commonly used. – Cooking classes available on site. – Wedding receptions also held here. Book far in advance. – Limited parking available. – Bus stop within 900 meters away. An easy walk, but on a busy main street. #santorini #greece

A post shared by Santorini Dave (@santorinidave) on

Read More

Holiday Inn Kolkata Airport Hotel in India

by Santorini Dave • Updated: June 24, 2019

Review of Holiday Inn Kolkata Airport Hotel in Kolkata, India.

Holiday Inn Kolkata Airport – Functional, well-priced, handy to facilities, and convenient to the airport.

Much better than just a transit hotel, the Holiday Inn offers decent facilities for business people and anyone with an early departure or late arrival by air. All the usual amenities are provided, including a gym and substantial pool. More importantly, the rooms, and especially the suites, are far more spacious than at rival hotels, and all are amazingly soundproofed considering the hotel is under a flight path. With a cluster of similar-looking (but inferior) hotels nearby, facilities in the immediate area are surprisingly good, including a supermarket next door and western-style mall a short walk away.

Holiday Inn Kolkata Airport – The Location

  • Address: Biswa Bangla Sarani Road, in Rajarhat (also called Chinar Park or New Town). Near the airport.
  • Area: Lively business and shopping district, with a supermarket next door and mall nearby. The backstreets are safe and interesting to wander around.
  • How to Get There: Taxis from the pre-paid counters at the airport take 10 minutes (4km), but many categories of rooms at the hotel include 1 or 2-way airport transfers. From the main railway station (Howrah), the hotel is 50-60 minutes (15km) by taxi. See Local Transport below for more information about taxis and the metro.
  • Handy to: Airport.

Holiday Inn Kolkata Airport – The Basics

  • Guests: Overwhelmingly airline passengers as well as some Indian business people.
  • Views: Rooms facing the front overlook the busy road (but with effective soundproofing). Others face another building or empty block. Views are not selling points for airport hotels.
  • Private Pools/Jacuzzis: Not expected or provided at this sort of airport hotel in Kolkata.
  • Extras: Transfers to and/or from the airport may be included, depending on the type of room booked.
  • Wi-Fi: Free and reliable throughout for all guests.
  • Phone: +91 (0)33 6699 6699
  • Email: [email protected]
  • Website: ihg.com

Holiday Inn Kolkata Airport – Amenities

  • Pool: Decent size and elevated for views. On the rooftop, but shares the area with an ugly and noisy air-conditioning system.
  • Spa: Not provided.
  • Fitness Center: Small, serviceable, and open 24/7, with a yoga studio, but not that private because of adjacent high-rises and lack of curtains.
  • For families: Children can eat free with special deals.
  • Other Facilities: Money-changing. Laundry. Business Center (open 24 hours).

Holiday Inn Kolkata Airport – Food and Drink

  • Restaurants & Bars: Social Kitchen – Bright and cheerful. All-day dining, and a la carte menu and buffets at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. • Urban Kitchen & Bar – Tasty grills and signature cocktails. At a mezzanine level, with live music on most nights. • Royal Bengal Sweet Company – Patisserie and coffee shop at the lobby for all sorts of sweet treats and tasty desserts.
  • Breakfast: All suites and executive rooms include breakfast.
  • Room Service: Available 24/7.

Holiday Inn Kolkata Airport – Rooms

  • Room Types: Deluxe Rooms • King Bed Deluxe Rooms • King Bed Executive Rooms • King Bed Junior Suites • King Bed Executive Suites
  • Smoking Rooms: No smoking in the rooms or public areas.
  • Best Room: King Bed Executive Suites are twice the size of all other rooms and suites, and feature separate living areas.
  • For Families: 1 or 2 small children can stay free in their parents’ room. Or book 2 rooms with connecting doors.

Holiday Inn Kolkata Airport – Local Transport

  • Walking: Plenty of shops, cafés, and bars along the main road, which has sidewalks, but is dangerous to cross. Wander about the backstreets for a glimpse of Indian suburban life.
  • Public Transport: Buses career along the main road at breakneck speeds but are of no use to tourists. The Kolkata Metro is also not practical, and won’t fully reach the airport and the surrounding areas until about mid-2021.
  • Taxis & Auto-rickshaws: Unmetered ‘taxis’ (which are just private cars) hang about outside. Far cheaper are the taxis that are yellow (with no air-conditioning) and blue-and-white (with air-con). Both types have meters, but drivers need to be pressured into using them. Metered taxis and auto-rickshaws can be found at the junction about 200m up the street (turn right from the hotel doors). Rides can also be booked using Uber and Ola apps. Cycle-rickshaws are available for short trips.

Holiday Inn Kolkata Airport – What’s Nearby?

Restaurants & Bars

  • To avoid risking serious injury (or worse) by crossing the road, head left (350m) from the hotel doors to Raj Darbar (in Hotel Raj Palace) for reasonably classy Indian food (4-minute walk), or turn right (50m) to the Shinryu Restaurant & Bar for authentic Chinese in a family-friendly setting (1-minute walk). Best of all is the patisserie and snack bar inside Spencer’s supermarket (70m, 1-minute walk).
  • A few decent restaurants are just over the other side of the road, including Ziya Restaurant (350m, 5-minute walk) and a Domino’s pizza joint in the Hotel Pipal Tree (450m, 6-minute walk).
  • Familiar fast-food outlets (e.g. McDonald’s and KFC) – and several other lesser-known choices – are at the City Centre New Town mall (600m, 7-minute walk).
  • Attached to the mall, hotel Swissôtel offers a couple of tempting options, including the casual Café Swiss with terraced views overlooking the mall atrium and the elegant Durbari restaurant for contemporary Indian. 7-minute walk (600m).

Shops

  • Next door (turn right) from the Holiday Inn is the well-stocked Spencer’s supermarket, which also sells fruit, cakes, and snacks. 1-minute walk (70m).
  • The large and western-style City Centre New Town mall is attached to the Swissôtel hotel about 600m east along the road (away from Spencer’s). 7-minute walk.

Holiday Inn Kolkata Airport – The Hotel

The hotel is located close to the airport.

The hotel is along a busy road only 4km from the airport.

The modern hotel lobby is functional.

The lobby is functional and modern, which is indicative of the hotel design throughout.

Royal Bengal Sweet Company serves coffee and pastries.

The Royal Bengal Sweet Company is a patisserie and coffee shop at the lobby.

Social Kitchen serves breakfast and other buffets through the day.

Just beyond the reception area, the Social Kitchen restaurant serves breakfast and other buffets throughout the day.

Social Kitchen also serves a la carte meals through the day.

In a bright and airy setting, Social Kitchen also offers a la carte meals all day.

The small fitness center could do with some privacy.

The fitness center is small, and with no curtains, it lacks privacy from neighboring buildings.

The large rooftop pool offers good street views.

The rooftop pool is fairly large and elevated for expansive street views.

The poolside terrace has some seats.

Alongside the pool is a modest terraced area with seats.

Accommodations feature a simple decor with some color.

The décor in all the room and suites is subdued, with some patches of color along the walls.

Accommodations are quite spacious.

Importantly, especially for transit passengers, all rooms and suites are spacious.

The area is a busy transport hub.

The general area is a busy transport hub for commuters.

Spencer’s supermarket next door is well-stocked, and has a patisserie and a snack bar.

Next door to the Holiday Inn, Spencer’s is a pleasingly well-stocked supermarket. It sells fresh fruit, and has a patisserie and snack bar.

There are a few large shops and department stores in the area.

Also very near to the hotel are a few large shops and department stores.

Raj Darbar close by is a good Indian restaurant.

Turn left from the hotel doors and walk about 350m to Raj Darbar, a reasonably classy Indian restaurant.

The City Centre New Town mall is also within walking distance.

In front of the Swissôtel hotel (in white) is the western-style City Centre New Town mall. Turn left from the doors at the Holiday Inn and walk about 1km.

The mall has a McDonald’s outlet.

Sometimes a visit to McDonald’s is welcome. Part of the City Centre New Town mall.

Café Swiss in Swissôtel is a casual and airy bistro.

Inside Swissôtel, which is attached to the mall, Café Swiss is a casual and airy bistro.

Café Swiss offers outdoor seating with views of the mall.

Café Swiss also offers terraced seating with views over the atrium within the adjacent mall.

The mall extends into other buildings around Swissôtel.

The City Centre mall extends into other buildings near the Swissôtel, about 1km from the Holiday Inn.

Taxis and auto-rickshaws can be hailed at the junction 200m away.

To get a metered taxi or auto-rickshaw, head right about 200m from the doors of the Holiday Inn to the junction.

The Ivy House Hotel in Kolkata, India

by Santorini Dave • Updated: June 24, 2019

Review of The Ivy House in Kolkata, India.

The Ivy House – Cozy and care-free oasis featuring an adorable tea shop and courtyard garden.

With only a handful of rooms individually decorated and named after indigenous flowers, this guesthouse is an instantly likable respite from the chaos that is central Kolkata. Lovingly furnished and featuring 4-poster beds in most rooms, The Ivy is also hugely popular for the endearing café which serves afternoon high teas and breakfast (included). Best of all, rates are pleasingly affordable for overpriced Kolkata, and discounts are available for single travelers. No pool or gym – as expected at a petite guesthouse – but certainly cable TV, air-con, and lovely bathrooms. Set peacefully back from the busy street and a short walk from a chaotic junction in downtown.

The Ivy House – The Location

  • Address: The official address is ‘4 Swinhoe St’ in Ballygunge, an inner southern suburb. It actually faces the end of Swinhoe St and is along Anil Maitra Road. About 350m from a major thoroughfare, Old Ballygunge Road. Useful landmarks are Weavers Studio (on a corner 50m from the guesthouse) and Kasturi Food Plaza (virtually opposite The Ivy).
  • Area: In a busy but comparatively clean and safe residential area in the inner city. All rooms are on the ground floor, with private residences on upper levels. 150m back from the surprisingly busy street in front.
  • How to Get There: Taxis from the pre-paid counters at the airport take 40-50 minutes (21km). From the main railway station (Howrah), the hotel is 35-45 minutes (11km) by taxi. See Local Transport below for more information about taxis and the metro.

The Ivy House – The Basics

  • Guests: Budget-minded independent travelers of all ages.
  • Views: All rooms are on the ground floor. Some look out to a tiny porch area to the back, and one faces the courtyard at the front.
  • Private Pools/Jacuzzis: Certainly not expected or provided at an inner-city guesthouse like this.
  • 
Wi-Fi: Included free throughout. Individual routers provide excellent access in each room.
  • How to Book: Booking.com will have the best rates.
  • Phone: +91 8777 090 903
  • Email: [email protected]
  • Website: cochraneplacehotel.com

The Ivy House – Amenities

  • Pool, Spa, & Fitness Center: Not expected or provided.
  • Other Facilities: Karma Kettle Tearoom café and teashop. Laundry.

The Ivy House – Food and Drink

  • Restaurant: The endearing Karma Kettle Tearoom is within a covered courtyard. Nothing more than light meals, sandwiches, and of course, lots of choices of tea (and coffee). Try the grand afternoon high tea. The attached teashop is worth visiting if staying elsewhere.
  • Breakfast: Included in all rates.
  • Room Service: Not expected or provided.

The Ivy House – Rooms

  • Room Types: All much the same inside, only the décor changes a little, so there are no categories of rooms.
  • Smoking Rooms: No smoking allowed anywhere on the premises.
  • Best Room: The best is the room facing the courtyard entrance, so the windows offer more light and feeling of space.
  • For Families: Some rooms are large enough for an extra single bed. Otherwise, book 2 adjoining rooms, but none have connecting doors.

The Ivy House – Local Transport

  • Walking: Backstreets are pleasant to stroll about: safe, clean, and not too busy. Quite a few shops and cafés in the general area, but the main road 350m away is very noisy.
  • Public Transport: Buses and trams career along the main road, 350m away, but are of no use to tourists. The nearest metro station, Jatin Das Park, is an inconvenient 2.5km away (12-minute drive). Additionally, the Kolkata Metro is not useful to most tourists until it connects to the airport and main railway station at Howrah by mid-2021.
  • Taxis & Auto-rickshaws: Plenty of yellow taxis (with no air-con) and blue-and-white ones (with air-con) for longer trips. Both types have meters, but drivers need to be pressured into using them. Rides can also be booked using Uber and Ola apps. Also, a few auto-rickshaws around the streets, and more along the main road. Man-pulled rickshaws also available for short trips around the backstreets.

The Ivy House – What’s Nearby?

Restaurants & Bars

  • Fish Fish – Inviting little place directly opposite the guesthouse entrance. Also offers a few tasty Chinese meals and better-than-expected service. 1-minute walk.
  • Kasturi Food Plaza – Rather odd name for a cute café, just down the street from Fish Fish. Great for trying local food. On 2 levels. 1-minute walk (40m).
  • Melting Pot – Very cozy and welcoming, with a menu more westernized than rivals, e.g. pasta and burgers. About 200m around the corner. Head left from guesthouse gates and then left again. 2-minute walk.
  • Mirch Masala Restaurant & Bar – Downstairs bar that’s not typically dingy and restaurant with bizarre decor, but fantastic Chinese and Indian food. On the road to the Radisson hotel. From the junction on the main road (see below), head left (south) and turn right at Dover Place. (Follow for signs for the Radisson.) 8-minute walk (600m).

Shops

  • A few shops in the backstreets are worth checking out. To reach the junction along the main road, turn right at the guesthouse gates and follow the street (Anil Maitra Road) for 350m. Most shops along the main road seem to be jewelers and tailors, but are interesting enough.

The Ivy House – The Hotel

The guesthouse is located in a quiet inner southern suburb.

The guesthouse is about 350m from a main road within the inner southern suburbs.

The guesthouse neighborhood is pleasant for strolling.

The street outside The Ivy House is surprisingly busy at times, but the backstreets are pleasant for strolling around.

The guesthouse is located slightly away from the busy street.

Thankfully, the guesthouse is set back about 150m from the busy street outside.

The small guesthouse offers only a few rooms on the ground floor.

The Ivy is like a home and only provides a handful of rooms on the ground floor.

The delightful Karma Kettle Tearoom is located in the courtyard.

Certainly part of the appeal of staying at this guesthouse is the delightful Karma Kettle Tearoom in the courtyard.

Karma Kettle Tearoom serves high teas and light meals.

The tearoom at the guesthouse offers high teas every afternoon and light meals all day.

The guesthouse also features an adorable teashop.

Attached to the café and within the grounds of the guesthouse is the adorable teashop.

The rooms are uniquely decorated and named.

The handful of rooms are individually decorated and named.

The bright and contemporary rooms have an old-fashioned charm.

The décor within each room is bright and contemporary, although retaining an old-fashioned charm.

The spacious bathrooms are modern.

The bathrooms are spacious and modern.

Fish Fish is a good local cafe opposite the guesthouse.

A useful landmark and a worthwhile local café is Fish Fish, opposite the guesthouse entrance.

Fish Fish serves seafood and Chinese cuisine.

As well as the namesake food, Fish Fish also offers Chinese meals.

Kasturi Food Plaza close by serves good quality Indian food.

Less than 100m past Fish Fish, the Kasturi Food Plaza provides quality Indian food in a pleasant setting.

Melting Pot is a pleasant cafe nearby serving western food.

Particularly inviting and more westernized than rivals is Melting Pot, about 200m around the corner from the guesthouse.

Mirch Masala restaurant and bar is worth the walk.

About 600m from The Ivy and on the way to the Radisson Hotel, Mirch Masala Restaurant and Bar is certainly worth the walk.

Mirch Masala has a funky decor and excellent food.

The décor in the Mirch Masala restaurant and bar is fascinating and the food is excellent.

Signs leading to the Radisson hotel are prominent in the area.

On the corner of the main road to Mirch Masala, look for these signs to the Radisson hotel further down the street.

Human rickshaws can be found in the backstreets around the guesthouse.

One way to get around the backstreets is on the sort of rickshaws banned in many parts of India.

Auto-rickshaws are convenient for trips to the city center.

For trips around the city center, use an auto-rickshaw. They mostly hang around the main road 350m away from the guesthouse.

Hotel Hindusthan International in Kolkata, India

by Santorini Dave • Updated: June 24, 2019

Review of Hotel Hindusthan International in Kolkata, India.

Hotel Hindusthan International – Stylish and affordable mid-range option in a vibrant area.

Overwhelmingly catering to Indians (with Indian-style rates), the recently-refurbished Hotel Hindusthan is still a wonderful option for foreigners. The overall layout and design, especially at the opulent lobby, are of a standard expected at an international-brand five-star, but the HHI (as it’s affectionately known) offers significantly more personality and charm than most rivals. All rooms are nicely decorated with a slightly old-fashioned style, and the sizeable desk indicates that many guests are on business. The area is typically noisy and dirty, but also energetic and convenient, and it’s walking distance to a metro station and several pleasant cafés and bars.

Hotel Hindusthan International – The Location

  • Address: 235/1 AJC Bose Road, Sreepally, in the inner southern suburbs.
  • Area: Comparatively affluent area, with many offices, banks, and other commercial buildings. Packed with middle-class workers during the day, so the cafés, bars, and shops are better than average.
  • How to Get There: Taxis from the pre-paid counters at the airport take 50 minutes (23km). From the main railway station (Howrah), the hotel is 25-35 minutes (8km) by taxi. See Local Transport below for more information about taxis and the metro.

Hotel Hindusthan International – The Basics

  • Guests: Most are Indians on business or attending conferences or weddings.
  • Views: About half the rooms face the main road, but the soundproofing is very effective. The others facing the back are far quieter.
  • Private Pools/Jacuzzis: Not expected or provided at an older-style inner-city hotel like this in Kolkata.
  • Extras: Daily newspaper delivered to each room.
  • Wi-Fi: Available free throughout for all guests.
  • How to Book: Booking.com will have the best rates.
  • Phone: +91 (0)33 2280 2323
  • Email: [email protected]
  • Website: hhikolkata.com

Hotel Hindusthan International – Amenities

  • Pool: The indoor pool is quite large, but not as inviting as the outdoor pools offered by rivals.
  • Spa: The spa is classier than expected, but only offers little more than massages.
  • Fitness Center: The Verve is pleasingly spacious and packed with all the latest gear.
  • For Families: Baby-sitting.
  • Other Facilities: Laundry. Money-changer. Business Center. Beauty salon. Boutiques.

Hotel Hindusthan International – Food and Drink

  • Restaurants: Kalash – Gourmet Indian, specializing in local cuisine. Gorgeous setting and silver service. • Mythh – Open-plan kitchen serving buffets for lunch and dinner, and a la carte 24/7. • The Oriental Express – Variety of Asian cuisines. Fashionable setting attached to the Mythh. Not overcrowded, so intimate tables are available. • Pastry Shop – Tasty treats including cakes, pastries, sweets, and breads.
  • Bars: Ugr – Unusual layout and popular with trendy business types. • Virgose – Ultra-hip bar/lounge with imported spirits and dazzling live music.
  • Breakfast: Only included with the most expensive suites, or pay for it at the time.
  • Room Service: Available 24/7.

Hotel Hindusthan International – Rooms

  • Room Types: Colony Premium Rooms • Colony Rooms • Imperial Rooms • Suites • Presidential Suites
  • Smoking Rooms: No smoking in the rooms or public areas, but permitted elsewhere.
  • Best Room: Twice the size of the other suites, the Presidential Suites feature 2 bedrooms and separate living/dining rooms. Lots of free inclusions, such as airport transfers.
  • For Families: Not ostensibly set up for families, so get 2 rooms with connecting doors. The Presidential Suites have 2 bedrooms.

Hotel Hindusthan International – Local Transport

  • Walking: The sidewalks are full of food stalls, but it is a comparatively pleasant area for strolling. Plenty of tempting shops and cafés in the area.
  • Public Transport: The Kolkata Metro is reasonably useful to reach areas a little further south or north, but won’t reach the airport and main railway station (Howrah) until at least mid-2021. The nearest metro station, Rabindra Sadan, is conveniently located at the major corner, 350m heading left (west) from the hotel gates (4-minute walk).
  • Taxis & Auto-rickshaws: Plenty of yellow taxis (with no air-con) and blue-and-white ones (with air-con) for longer trips. Both types have meters, but drivers need to be pressured into using them. Rides can also be booked using Uber and Ola apps. Unusually, no types of rickshaws anywhere in the area.

Hotel Hindusthan International – What’s Nearby?

Restaurants & Bars

    All sorts of food stalls catering to local workers pack the sidewalks, so this may be a good time and place to try some authentic street food.

  • The Senator Hotel – Offers a café with value-packed buffets and a la carte meals all day. Head right from the hotel gates, then left up Camac Steet. 4-minute walk (300m).
  • I Love Haldiram – Spotlessly clean and hugely popular cafeteria offering tasty food, sticky sweets, and yummy cakes – all at low prices. 2 outlets: 1 opposite The Senator Hotel (300m, 4-minute walk), and another at the major junction 350m heading left from the hotel gates (4-minute walk).
  • Monkey Bar – One of several bars also serving excellent food, and located on the upper floors of office buildings along Camac Street. Just up from The Senator Hotel. 6-minute walk (450m).
  • Deck 88 – Lovely café with al fresco setting and lively bar, open from late afternoon. In The Astor hotel, about 650m away. Past the Senator, then left at the major junction. 8-minute walk.
  • Kebab-e-Que – At ground level below Deck 88. Classy décor and popular with meat lovers. 8-minute walk (650m).

Shops

  • Better range of shops in this more middle-class area.

Hotel Hindusthan International – The Hotel

The hotel is located in a commercial area.

The hotel is in a vibrant area of banks and offices, but the main road is typically dirty and noisy.

All rooms are soundproofed, and half face the back of the hotel.

About half the rooms of this 5-star hotel face the back of the hotel, away from the main road, but all rooms are effectively soundproofed.

The recently-refurbished hotel offers 5-star facilities at a cheaper price.

The hotel has been recently refurbished and offers 5-star facilities at lower rates.

The sparkling lobby sets the tone for the rest of the hotel.

The sparkling lobby area is indicative of the hotel throughout.

The Pastry Shop sells delicious pastries, cakes, and sweets.

Just around the corner from the reception desk, he Pastry Shop sells a range of delicious pastries, cakes, and sweets.

The Oriental Express serves several Asian cuisines.

Also at the hotel, The Oriental Express offers a wide range of Asian cuisines (other than just Indian).

Breakfast is served at the stylish Mythh restaurant.

Mythh is another stylish restaurant at Hotel Hindusthan. It serves breakfast to guests.

The Ugr bar/lounge is very popular.

The Ugr bar/lounge is popular among local workers.

Kalash restaurant is popular amongst locals for its Indian menu.

Another excellent restaurant at the hotel, Kalash is renowned across the city for its exquisite Indian cuisine.

All accommodations are spacious.

All rooms and suites are spacious and feature full-length windows.

Rooms have a subdued but pleasant decor.

The décor throughout the rooms is subdued but pleasant.

Large desks are provided in the rooms for the mostly business travelers.

The sizable desk indicates that many guests are staying for business purposes.

Bathrooms have an appealing old-fashioned charm.

The bathrooms are likably old-fashioned.

There are several popular food stalls around the hotel.

The sidewalks are tightly packed with food stalls which are popular with middle-class workers, so this may be a good place to try authentic street food.

The pleasant Deck 88 café/bar is located in The Astor nearby.

In The Astor hotel, about 650m from the Hotel Hindusthan, is the very pleasant Deck 88 café/bar.

The Senator Hotel's cafe offers good value buffets.

The café at The Senator Hotel offers good-value buffets for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

2 outlets of the very popular Haldiram cafeterias are nearby.

There are 2 outlets of the hugely popular Haldiram cafeterias within a short walk of the hotel.

The large and clean Haldiram Cafeterias are very cheap.

The Haldiram cafeterias are large, spotlessly clean, and pleasingly cheap.

The Monkey Bar is a trendy bar along Camac Street.

One of several trendy café/bars along Camac Street, and almost opposite The Senator Hotel, is the Monkey Bar.

The main road in front has several good restaurants.

The hotel faces a main road lined with clean and casual restaurants.

The area has several upmarket shops.

Shops near the hotel are more upmarket than usual and cater for more affluent local workers.

The metro would be more useful once it's better connected.

The local metro station is about 350m away. However, services are of limited use to tourists until they connect the metro to the airport and railway station in about mid-2021.

The Elgin Fairlawn Hotel in Kolkata, India

by Santorini Dave • Updated: June 23, 2019

Review of The Elgrin Fairlawn in Kolkata, India.

The Elgin Fairlawn – Adorable guesthouse with history and charm that 5-star hotels cannot buy.

This delightfully old-fashioned guesthouse still seems stuck in the old colonial days. Along Sudder Street, a renowned backpacker area slowly becoming gentrified, the charisma of this 225-year-old building is evident from the stairwells lined with old photos and guest lounges filled with antique furniture. Adding immeasurably to the appeal are the dining room with chandeliers and tablecloths, shady courtyard café, and communal balcony providing wicker chairs and street views. Some of the wonderfully old-style rooms probably need updating, but all are spacious and comfortable. Furthermore, the inner-city area, handy to the metro and Indian Museum, is comparatively pleasant.

The Elgin Fairlawn, Kolkata – The Location

  • Address: 13A Sudder Street, about 250m from a major thoroughfare (Jawaharlal Nehru Road which turns into Chowringhee Road) in an inner-city suburb. The Indian Museum is a major landmark at the corner of Jawaharlal Nehru Road and Sudder Street.
  • Area: A fun area that’s far cleaner, safer, and less crowded than most of Kolkata. The street features plenty of places to eat and drink for westerners, a few agencies changing money and arranging train tickets, and some colonial-era buildings.
  • How to Get There: Taxis from the pre-paid counters at the airport take 45-55 minutes (22km). From the main railway station (Howrah), the hotel is about 20 minutes (5km) by taxi. See Local Transport below for more information about taxis and the metro.
  • Handy to: Indian Museum.

The Elgin Fairlawn, Kolkata – The Basics

  • Guests: Most guests are older and appreciate the history and old-fashioned setting.
  • Views: In an old building where views didn’t matter at the time. Many rooms have frosted windows facing outside and offering no views at all. A few facing the front overlook the pretty garden and courtyard.
  • Private Pools/Jacuzzis: Not expected or provided at an old guesthouse like this in Kolkata.
  • Wi-Fi: Free throughout for all guests.
  • How to Book: Booking.com will have the best rates.
  • Phone: +91 (0)33 2252 1510
  • Email: [email protected]
  • Website: elginhotels.com

The Elgin Fairlawn, Kolkata – Amenities

  • Pool, Spa, & Fitness Center: Not expected or provided.
  • Other Facilities: Guest lounges. Laundry.

The Elgin Fairlawn, Kolkata – Food and Drink

  • Restaurants & Bar: The Lobby Lounge – Graceful setting, perfect for chatting with other guests. Also with seating in a shady courtyard. • The Dining Room – Colonial-era décor of chandeliers, tablecloths, and walls packed with old photos. Breakfast, high teas every afternoon, and tasty meals all day.
  • Breakfast: Full English breakfast included in all rates.
  • Room Service: Available between about 7.30 am and 9 pm.

The Elgin Fairlawn, Kolkata – Rooms

  • Room Types: No categories of rooms, just ‘singles’ and ‘doubles/twins’.
  • Smoking Rooms: No smoking in the rooms or public areas, but permitted in dedicated sections.
  • Best Room: Rooms are fairly similar inside, with either single or double/twin beds. The quietest are those on the upper floor and furthest from the reception area and dining room.
  • For Families: No space in the rooms for an extra single bed, so the only option is 2 adjoining rooms (which won’t have connecting doors).

The Elgin Fairlawn, Kolkata – Local Transport

  • Walking: One of the nicest and most interesting areas anywhere in Kolkata, where top-end boutiques share street space with market traders. Some homeless people closer to the Indian Museum, but locals are used to foreigners.
  • Public Transport: Buses and trams career along the main road about 250m away but are of no use to tourists. The guesthouse is halfway (about 700m) between 2 stations for the Kolkata Metro: Esplanade (8-minute walk north along the main road) and Park Street (8-minute walk south). The metro provides a couple of useful stops to avoid jam-packed sidewalks, but won’t connect to the airport and main railway station (Howrah) until at least mid-2021.
  • Taxis & Auto-rickshaws: Plenty of yellow taxis (with no air-con) and blue-and-white ones (with air-con) for longer trips. Both types have meters, but drivers need to be pressured into using them. Rides can also be booked using Uber and Ola apps. Inexplicable lack of auto-rickshaws in the area, but man-pulled versions available for short trips.

The Elgin Fairlawn, Kolkata – What’s Nearby?

Restaurants & Bars

    Fabulous selection of budget-priced restaurants where pizzas rather than pakoras dominate the menus.

  • Blue Sky Café – Long-time favorite for all types of western meals, as well as the usual Indian fare. Just 50m (heading away from the museum). 1-minute walk.
  • Lytton Hotel – This old-fashioned hotel offers Gaylords Restaurant (changing menu of Indian, Chinese, and western delights), Garden Restaurant (shady courtyard overlooking the street, with barbecues and cocktails during evenings), and Sunset Bar (cheerful and welcoming). 100m towards the Indian Museum. 1-minute walk.
  • Kasturi Restaurant – One of several across Kolkata for unfussy Indian food at reasonable prices in a clean setting. 2-minute walk (180m).
  • Zaranj – At the corner opposite the Indian Museum, 250m away. Plush and pricey, the menu is tempting and the service, impeccable. 2-minute walk (200m).

Shops

  • Sudder Street is lined with interesting shops, as much for foreign tourists as Indian locals. The alleys off Sudder are also packed with market stalls. An attraction for some is the helpful (and rare) travel agencies which can arrange train tickets and change money.

Attractions

  • The must-see Indian Museum is the country’s largest and oldest. It houses a world-class collection of ancient artifacts from India and beyond, along with Raj-era relics housed in an occasionally frustrating manner. Open from 10 am to 6.30 pm on weekdays and until 8 pm on weekends. On the main road at the turnoff to Sudder Street, 250m away. 3-minute walk.

The Elgin Fairlawn, Kolkata – The Hotel

The guesthouse is located on quiet Sudder Street in the city center.

The guesthouse is along Sudder Street, a quiet and well-known lane in the city center.

The historic guesthouse has been popular with independent travelers for decades.

Originally built in 1783, The Elgin has been a favorite among independent travelers for decades.

The courtyard café serves coffee, cakes, and light meals.

Between the front gate and main building, the courtyard café offers coffee, cakes, and light meals.

The courtyard café is very popular.

The courtyard café at The Elgin is a popular hangout and welcome respite.

The guesthouse has an incomparable hisorical charm.

The guesthouse exudes a historical charm that 5-star hotels cannot even begin to emulate.

The Lobby Lounge has a magnificent historical vibe.

The Lobby Lounge opposite the reception desk sets the tone for this historical guesthouse.

The Dining Room also has a delightful colonial-era decor.

The Dining Room at The Elgin features a delightful colonial-era décor.

The guesthouse is filled with antique furniture and photos.

Guests can spend hours admiring the antique furniture and inspecting the photos on the walls throughout the guesthouse.

The upstairs guest lounge is a wonderful place to relax.

The guest lounge upstairs is another wonderful place to relax in and chat with fellow guests.

The Balcony Lounge offers street views from wicker chairs.

Adding further to the appeal is The Balcony Lounge on the upper floor providing wicker chairs and street views.

The guesthouse maintains the same green tone, style, and decor throughout.

The style and décor has been wonderfully maintained throughout.

The stairwell too is fascinating.

Even the stairwell is packed with fascinating old photos.

The very comfortable rooms are pleasantly old-fashioned.

Rooms are likably old-fashioned and very comfortable.

The delightful rooms could be renovated.

Some rooms probably need renovations but are still delightful.

The magnificent Indian Museum is at the corner of Sudder Street.

The turnoff to Sudder Street from the main road is dominated by the magnificent Indian Museum.

Wesleyan Chapel is one of few colonial buildings on Sudder Street.

Sudder Street is home to a few colonial buildings, such as the Wesleyan Chapel.

The area around the guesthouse entrance is more pleasant than near the Indian Museum.

Near the Indian Museum, some people run food stalls during the day and sleep on the street during the night, but the area near the guesthouse entrance is more pleasant.

Sudder Street alleys have several market stalls.

The alleys off Sudder Street are crammed with market stalls.

Sudder Street offers several facilities for backpackers and foreign tourists.

Sudder Street has long been a favorite hangout area for backpackers. There are facilities like money changers and travel agencies which are surprisingly hard to find elsewhere in the city.

The refined Zaranj bistro is opposite the Indian Museum.

Zaranj is a refined bistro at the turnoff to Sudder Street and opposite the Indian Museum.

The Lytton Hotel has the cheerful Sunset Bar.

The Sunset Bar at the nearby Lytton Hotel is far more cheerful than most other bars in the city.

The Garden Restaurant is terrific for eating and drinking.

Also at the Lytton, the Garden Restaurant is a terrific place for a meal or drink.

Sudder Street restaurants are focused more on foreign tourists than locals.

All sorts of restaurants along Sudder Street cater more for foreign tourists than Indian locals.

Kasturi restaurant nearby serves Indian food in a clean setting.

About 200m from the guesthouse, Kasturi is a decent restaurant offering Indian food in a clean setting.

Blue Sky Café opposite Kasturi is a crowd favorite.

Blue Sky Café is another long-time favorite close by.

Human rickshaws still operate in the general area.

One way to get around the local area is on the sort of old-fashioned rickshaws banned in many other Indian cities.

The Best Tours in Amsterdam

Home > Amsterdam > Amsterdam Tours
by Santorini Dave • Updated: June 23, 2019

1. Rijksmuseum Skip-the-Line Museum Tour

Amsterdam Artist Tour
Amazing musuem. Vermeer, Rembrandt, and an overview of Amsterdam’s impressive history. Both the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh are world-class but if you can only make it to one, then go to the Rijksmuseum. The above tour is very good. The Rijksmuseum Private Tour is great.

2. Van Gogh Skip-the-Line Museum Tour

Amsterdam Art Tour
Another wonderful museum just steps from the Rijksmuseum. And once again, the skip-the-line tour is good. The Van Gogh Private Guided Tour is great.

3. Amsterdam Bike Tour

Amsterdam Bike Tours
Bike tours are a wonderful way to see the city’s top attractions and this is a great tour of central Amsterdam’s highlights. If you want to bike to a few surrounding towns then do the Countryside Bike Tour (4 hours) or the Windmills, Cheese & Clogs Bike Tour (3 hours).

4. Canal Dinner Cruise

Amsterdam Boat Tour
Romantic tour of the Amsterdam canals while served a pretty tasty dinner (much better than you’d expect). There are meat, fish, and vegetarian options. For lighter fare do the Dutch Cheese & Wine Cruise or the Classic Canal Cruise (just tea and coffee).

5. Pizza Cruise with Unlimited Drinks

Amsterdam Boat Tour
This one doesn’t pretend to be romantic, chic, or trendy. It’s just plain fun – and the best family-friendly canal tour in Amsterdam.

6. Marken, Volendam, and Edam Full-Day Tour from Amsterdam

Amsterdam Canal Day Trip
These are three picturesque charming towns just north of Amsterdam. The tour includes a cheese tasting, windmill visit, short boat trip, and lunch. (It’s also easy to rent a bike and get here on your own if that sounds more appealing than a coach.)

7. Food Tasting Tour of Jordaan

Amsterdam Food Tours
The Jordaan is the hippest trendiest neighborhood in the city and this is the best food tour in Amsterdam. Our whole family loved this tour (kids were 11 and 14 at the time).

8. History of World War II Private Walking Tour

Amsterdam History Tour
Fantastic private tour around the most consequential sights from Amsterdam’s World War II history. Highly recommended.

More Great Amsterdam Tours

From June to September tours get booked months in advance and usually sell out. The following are also good quality tours if you need extra options.

Read More

Hotel De Sovrani in Kolkata, India

by Santorini Dave • Updated: June 23, 2019

Review of Hotel De Sovrani in Kolkata, India.

Hotel De Sovrani – Functional, inexpensive, and in the quietest and cleanest part of the city.

Within the comparatively upmarket suburb of Salt Lake City, this small and personable mid-range hotel provides amenities expected at an overpriced four-star place in downtown, but without the hassles of staying in the city center. Rooms are comfortable and nicely furnished, some with separate and sizable living/dining areas. A standout feature is the rooftop pool with a jacuzzi and café/bar alongside, overlooking the streets. Also, the location is fabulous: halfway between the airport and downtown, the hotel is surrounded by wide, shady, and clean streets (with sidewalks), and only a short walk from a major mall with a food court, games arcade, and cinema.

Hotel De Sovrani – The Location

  • Address: DD-21 DD Block, Sector 1, Salt Lake City. This is a typical address for this area but means nothing to taxi drivers. The hotel is about 500m northeast of the City Centre mall. Turn at the corner of the main road (3rd Avenue) with the high-rise Sonnet Hotel. The De Sovrani is about 150m from that corner.
  • Area: Purpose-built suburb of (mostly) upmarket apartments, shops, and bistros, as well as a mall. Clean, safe, and easy to walk around. Conveniently located halfway between the airport and downtown.
  • How to Get There: Taxis from the pre-paid counters at the airport take 25-30 minutes (12km). From the main railway station (Howrah), the hotel is 30-40 minutes (9km) by taxi. See Local Transport below for more information about taxis and the metro.
  • Handy to: City Centre mall.

Hotel De Sovrani – The Basics

  • Guests: Mostly business people from across India, but ideal for foreign tourists as well.
  • Views: With few other high-rises in the area, the street views are extensive and interesting.
  • Private Pools/Jacuzzis: Not expected or provided at a city hotel like this in suburban Kolkata.
  • Extras: Daily newspaper delivered to each room.
  • Wi-Fi: Free throughout for all guests.
  • Phone: +91 (0)33 6604 3000
  • Email: [email protected]
  • Website: desovrani.com

Hotel De Sovrani – Amenities

  • Pool: The sort expected of a 4 or 5-star hotel in downtown. On the rooftop, with a bar and terrific views. Jacuzzi attached.
  • Spa: Room alongside the gym offers massages but nothing else.
  • Fitness Center: Surprisingly large and well-equipped for a hotel of this size.
  • Other Facilities: Money-changing. Travel desk. Laundry.

Hotel De Sovrani – Food and Drink

  • Restaurants & Bars: Sand – Open 24 hours for all sorts of meals, but specializes in traditional local cuisine. Buffets often at lunch and dinner. • Skyview Café – Alongside the rooftop pool, so the views are extensive. Various events on most nights, including karaoke and comedy performances. • Chocolake – Homemade and delicious treats. Famous for its cheesecakes. • The Library – Urbane bar/lounge for signature cocktails. Live music and DJs on most nights.
  • Breakfast: Included in all rates, which is unusual for Kolkata.
  • Room Service: Available 24/7.

Hotel De Sovrani – Rooms

  • Room Types: Standard Rooms • Deluxe Rooms • Executive Suites • Deluxe Executive Suites
  • Smoking Rooms: Smoking is allowed in some rooms.
  • Best Room: Deluxe Executive Suites are about 4 times larger than the Standard Rooms. On the highest floors for superior views, and separate living/dining areas as spacious as the bedrooms.
  • For Families: All suites are huge, and with separate living/dining areas, there is plenty of space for 1 or 2 extra single beds.

Hotel De Sovrani – Local Transport

  • Walking: With wide streets and shady sidewalks, this is the nicest area in Kolkata for a stroll. Plenty to see and minimal traffic. A few slums, but the area is comparatively safe and clean.
  • Public Transport: The Kolkata Metro hasn’t yet linked Salt Lake City with the center of Kolkata, but will by about mid-2021. The station is conveniently located at the City Centre mall about 550m from the hotel (7-minute walk).
  • Taxis & Auto-rickshaws: Plenty of yellow taxis (with no air-con) and blue-and-white ones (with air-con) for longer trips. Both types have meters, but drivers need to be pressured into using them. Rides can also be booked using Uber and Ola apps. Lots of auto-rickshaws and bicycle versions around the streets for short trips.

Hotel De Sovrani – What’s Nearby?

Restaurants & Bars

  • Ambrosia Bar – Under renovation during 2019. Dingy bar, but more inviting café with hearty portions at cheap prices. Just opposite the hotel. 1-minute walk (10m).
  • The Sonnet – This hotel on the corner offers Aura (garden views and dinner buffets, open 24/7) and Unwine (classy bar, with lengthy list of cocktails and imported spirits). 2-minute walk (150m).
  • Food Court – Impressive range of options, including Domino’s pizza. In the City Centre mall, 450m down the main road. 6-minute walk.
  • Café Coffee Day – One in a popular chain of cafés across India for drinks and light meals. Outdoor seating. Also at the mall. 6-minute walk (450m).
  • Afraa Deli – Very appealing café next to Starbucks at the mall. Seating outside, serving a range of pastries and sandwiches rarely seen elsewhere. 7-minute walk (600m).

Shops

  • The City Centre mall is a fairly large area of shops and cafés about 5 minutes on foot down the main road. A little easy to get disoriented, but spacious, clean, and fun to wander about. Also, a food court, games arcade, and cinema showing the latest Bollywood blockbusters. 6-minute walk (450m).

Hotel De Sovrani – The Hotel

The hotel is located in the upmarket Salt Lake City suburb.

The hotel is in Salt Lake City, a more upmarket suburb about halfway between the airport and city center.

The hotel is located on a quiet side street.

The hotel is along a side street with minimal traffic.

Chocolake offers a few homemade delights in the lobby.

Chocolake is a tiny patisserie in the lobby offering tasty homemade delights.

The 24/7 Sand restaurant offers a very diverse menu.

The signature restaurant at the hotel, Sand, is open 24 hours. It offers an extended menu with all sorts of cuisines.

The Library is a sophisticated bar and lounge.

Also inside the hotel, The Library is a sophisticated bar and lounge.

The rooftop Skyview Café hosts interesting events on most nights.

Alongside the rooftop pool, the Skyview Café hosts interesting events on most nights, including comedy shows and karaoke.

Skyview Café offers great views.

Seats at the Skyview Café provide extensive views of the suburban streets.

The rooftop pool is a standout feature, and is closed during the winter.

A standout feature of the hotel is the rooftop pool on the 9th floor. (Like many others, it was closed during the winter months.)

All accommodations are spacious and well-furnished.

All rooms are very nicely furnished and reasonably spacious.

However, the windows are smaller than expected.

Windows in the rooms could be larger given that views are more impressive than most hotels in the city center.

The spacious suites feature dining areas.

The suites are far more spacious than the rooms, and feature dining areas.

The suites have large living and dining areas.

The separate living and dining areas in the suites are as spacious as the bedrooms.

The hotel facilities are as good as the more expensive 4-star hotels.

The hotel provides room facilities as nice as those in more expensive 4-star hotels in downtown.

The views of Salt Lake City are interesting.

Most rooms and suites offer interesting views of the streets around Salt Lake City.

The Ambrosia Bar nearby offers decent meals at cheap prices.

Just opposite the street, the Ambrosia Bar doesn’t look much from the outside, but offers decent meals at cheap prices.

Aura restaurant at The Sonnet hotel close by offers all-day dining.

Only 150m from the De Sovrani, The Sonnet hotel features the Aura restaurant for all-day dining and garden views.

The Sonnet features the classy Unwine bar and lounge at the lobby level.

Unwine is a classy bar and lounge at the lobby level of The Sonnet.

The City Centre mall is located within walking distance of the hotel.

Only 600m from the De Sovrani, the City Centre mall is home to all sorts of places to shop and eat.

Café Coffee Day in the mall offers light meals and outdoor seating.

At the mall, Café Coffee Day provides an outdoor setting and serves light meals.

The mall has an impressive food court.

On a higher floor of the mall is an impressive food court offering many choices.

The delightful Afraa Deli serves light and healthy meals.

Next to the more renowned Starbucks, the Afraa Deli is a delightful café. It sells the sort of light and healthy meals rarely offered in the city center.

The City Centre mall has plenty of classy shops.

There are plenty of classy places to shop within the City Centre mall, only 500m from the hotel.

There are several boutiques in the air-conditioned mall.

A few air-conditioned arcades within the mall are lined with boutiques.

The mall offers several outdoor seating options as well.

There are also some pleasant outdoor areas within the mall.

The mall has a large games arcade.

Also at the mall is the extensive games arcade.

The metro would be more useful once it's better connected.

The Kolkata Metro links a few areas within Salt Lake City, but won’t be connected to the rest of the city until at least mid-2021.

Cycle-rickshaws are an interesting mode of transport.

One interesting way to get around the local area is on a colorful cycle-rickshaw.

Salt Lake City has pleasant and shady sidewalks.

The purpose-built suburb of Salt Lake City has shady sidewalks not seen elsewhere in Kolkata.

Auto-rickshaws are very popular for local trips.

There are always plenty of auto-rickshaws around for local trips.

Tahiti with Kids – Best Family Hotels

by Santorini Dave • Updated: June 21, 2019

Affiliate Disclosure: Booking.com is my favorite website for booking hotels (and yes, it’s the site I always use when reserving a room). It’s safe, easy to use, and consistently has great rates. All hotel links on my site are affiliate links meaning I earn a small fee when you book a hotel. (There is never any extra cost to you for using these links). I use some of these earnings for my monthly donation to the wonderful non-profit GiveDirectly. Read more about my charitable giving here.

See Also:

The 5 Best Hotels for Families in Tahiti

InterContinental Tahiti Resort & Spa

The main lagoon-style pool at kids-friendly InterContinental Tahiti Resort & Spa.
2 pools – 1 enormous and shaped like a lagoon offsets the lack of beach. Family-focussed cultural shows and activities; even a manmade ‘lagoonarium’ for fish-feeding and safe snorkelling. Rooms easily fit in an extra single bed, while suites and bungalows comfortably accommodate families of 4. Only a 5-minute drive from the airport, but no facilities within walking distance.
Hotel phone: (689) 4086 5178

InterContinental Moorea Resort & Spa

Pools have infinity edges at family-friendly InterContinental Moorea Resort & Spa.
Magnificent setting, with immense tropical gardens and beaches in all directions. Amazing kids’ club offers activities with a Polynesian flair and ecological focus at the turtle and dolphin centres onsite. Also tennis courts, superb pools and plenty of water sports. Rooms fit in 1 extra single bed, while bungalows have space for 4. And management are keen to accommodate any other family configurations.
Hotel phone: (689) 4086 5178

Hôtel Les Tipaniers

Tranquil waters at family-friendly Hôtel Les Tipaniers.
Parents would adore the divine setting and traditional design; children are likely to relish the impressive beach and abundant water sports. No pool, but plenty of lawns to run around. Bungalows are spacious and secluded, many with a kitchen and some with 2 bedrooms accommodating a family of 6. And it’s within an easy walk of the village centre, with quaint shops and cafés.
Hotel phone: (689) 4056 1267

Manava Beach Resort & Spa Moorea

Overwater bungalows and pool at family-friendly Manava Beach Resort & Spa.
Classic tropical holiday vibe, with massive pool and several divine beaches. Dive centre, with plenty of water-sports. And an easy walk to the village. Rare chance for families to stay in above-water bungalows, which can fit in an extra single bed. Other bungalows and the twin-level duplexes comfortably accommodate a family of 4.
Hotel phone: (689) 4043 1788

Royal Tahitien Hôtel

Pool with tropical vibe at family-friendly Royal Tahitien Hôtel.
Attractions are the pool, suburban setting (close to downtown and the airport) and beach frontage – although with black sand. Similar to a motel (with parking outside the rooms) and a resort (with substantial gardens and ponds). Standard Rooms allow an extra single bed, while the Studios can accommodate a family of 4, and feature a well-equipped kitchen. Unclear whether it’s deliberately retro ‘60s or just needs updating, but most children probably wouldn’t notice or care.
Hotel phone: (689) 4050 4040

Read More

Best Things to Do in Puerto Vallarta

by Santorini Dave • Updated: June 21, 2019

See Also

Top 10 Things to Do in Puerto Vallarta

  1. Walk the Malecon

    Puerto Vallarta's beach boardwalk, the Malecon.
    Considered the heart of the city, the Malecon is a pedestrian-only esplanade following the shore for about a kilometer from Hotel Rosita in the north to the Los Arcos Amphitheater in the south. By day its most prominent features are its sculptures; “Boy on the Seahorse” being the most iconic. (This one is a replica; the original is further south on Los Muertos Beach). Free walking tours of the sculptures are available Tuesday mornings at 9:30 from November through April. Several shops, galleries, and restaurants line the way. At night, the Malecon lights up with food stalls, buskers, and street performers. Free music and cultural shows are held almost every night at the Los Arcos Amphitheater. Though the official Malecon covers just one kilometer, an extension of the Malecon (the Malecon II), continues along Los Muertos Beach south of the Cuale River through Zona Romantica, with more sculptures, food, nightlife, and the gorgeous Los Muertos Pier lighting the night.

  2. Discover Your New Favorite Foods

    The best food tours in Puerto Vallarta
    Puerto Vallarta is a foodie paradise, thanks to top-notch seafood and produce, the rich culinary traditions of Jalisco, and the hundreds of chefs who have made Vallarta their home. With throngs of restaurants and food stalls to choose from, one of the best ways to get to know the real city is on a food tour. Head off the beaten path into the neighborhoods of the Old Town to experience the variety of foods that make this city so beloved among gourmands. Several companies offer food tours; the best options are the Chef’s Pass Taco and Street Foods Tour (evenings, for adventurous eaters) and Vallarta Food Tours’ Taste of Pitillal (mornings, classic local flavors). Both tours last around three to three and a half hours with a good deal of walking, so wear comfy shoes and come hungry. Beer is available for purchase at most stops, but if you have a chance, try the raicilla (aka Mexican moonshine) – it never disappoints!

  3. Surf Sayulita

    The best surfing in Puerto Vallarta
    One of the top surfing destinations in the world, Sayulita’s main beach offers consistent surf almost all year round. Just an hour north of Puerto Vallarta, this eclectic little village has been a popular destination for surfers since the 1960s. Waves here are steady but not too wild, making this the ideal spot for beginners. There are several shops for lessons and rentals, but the best is Surf’n Sayulita. David, the owner, is a lifelong surfer and experienced instructor for all ages and abilities. Single lessons or full day trips (with or without lessons) are affordable, and available for individuals or groups. Located on Calle Gaviota, just half a block from the beach. Downtown Sayulita is walkable and filled with casual bars, lively cantinas, and fun local crafts, so plan on spending at least a day here to experience it all.

  4. Explore Marietas Islands

    Exploring the Marietas Islands off Puerto Vallarta
    Sometimes called the Mexican Galapagos, Islas Marietas Islands National Park is a small, uninhabited archipelago recognized by UNESCO as a vital breeding and shelter site for marine birds, most notably the blue footed booby. It’s also home to the most diverse population of reef fish in Banderas Bay and a wide variety of coral. But its main draw is the Hidden Beach, located in a manmade crater, the aftermath of military bombing exercises in the early half of the twentieth century. After becoming a national park in the ‘60s, the Marietas Islands and the Hidden Beach became popular camping spots. However, access to the islands was closed after too many careless tourists damaged the coral and started wildfires. The park has only just been re-opened in Spring 2017, with limited numbers of visitors allowed per day. Guests will need to book a tour to gain access to the Hidden Beach. The closest departure point is from Punta de Mita, though many tours operate from Puerto Vallarta and Sayulita. Punta Mita Adventures, Vallarta Adventures, and Sayulita Entourage are the best tour operators in each respective area.

  5. Get Up Close to Crocodiles

    Puerto Vallarta crocodile tour
    El Cora is a fantastic eco-sanctuary for crocodiles and other native animals and plants. Guided tours are led by knowledgeable local biologists and are fully interactive. Guests are invited inside enclosures to handle the baby and adult crocodiles, while learning about their biology and habits. Several wild crocodiles live in the surrounding Quelele Lagoon, and the guides are usually able to call them closer for guests to observe (though visitors are not allowed to touch the wild crocs). The park is open for drop in tours from 11a-6p every day except Wednesday for a suggested donation of 200 pesos (about US$11). Night tours are offered on select dates and include a performance of the Huichol crocodile legend. Check their Facebook page for performance dates and reserve in advance. For long term travelers, El Cora welcomes volunteers who want to assist in their conservation efforts. Located just north of Puerto Vallarta in Bucerías, on a long dirt road behind Flamingos Golf.

  6. Wander the Old Town

    Best things to do in Old Town Puerto Vallarta
    For a true taste of Vallarta’s Old Mexico charm, travelers should spend a day exploring Old Town, just inland from the Malecon. This highly walkable downtown features several attractions within just a few minutes of each other. The most striking feature of the city is Guadalupe Church (Parroquia de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe), a gorgeous colonial brick church with a wrought iron crown. Services are offered three times a day on weekdays and seven times on Sundays, with bilingual masses available at certain hours, for those who want a closer look. Just to the south, travelers will find the Mercado Municipal, the flea market north of the Cuale River, with great local crafts on the main floor and an array of fantastic, cheap restaurants up above. Cross over the wooden swinging bridge to reach Cuale River Island, a tropical island with a secluded feel, offering a small archeology museum, a cultural center with art classes, and several craft vendors and restaurants. Head south across the river into Zona Romantica and duck into the several art galleries on Basilio Badillo and Lázaro Cárdenas streets. Grab a happy hour drink on Olas Atlas Street and watch the sunset from Los Muertos Pier. Walk back north along the Malecon, if you still have energy left.

  7. Cuddle a Baby Lion

    Vallarta Zoo
    Vallarta Zoo (Zoológico de Vallarta) is unlike any other zoo, allowing guests to pet and interact with almost all of the animals. For US$10 entry plus $5 optional for a bag of food, the animals walk right up to the front of their enclosures for a handfed treat. The giraffe and hippos are especially popular for feeding. For an extra charge, visitors are allowed into a special enclosure to hold, cuddle, and play with the baby big cats, which can be lions, tigers, panthers, and/or jaguars (depending on availability), plus monkeys and lemurs. This hands-on experience costs US$85 and is inclusive of entry, a food bag, two drinks, and a souvenir from their shop. This is truly a unique experience and worth every penny. However, be advised that the zoo here is not like a typical, pristine Western zoo. Though the animals are well-fed and cared for, their habitats are smaller than guests may be used to seeing. Located south of Puerto Vallarta in Mismaloya.

  8. Make Your Own Chocolates

    Puerto Vallarta chocolate making class
    Chocolate is one of Mexico’s greatest gifts to the world, with the first and still highest quality cacao beans cultivated here. ChocoMuseo’s Bean to Bar Workshop takes students through the complete process of chocolate making. Beginning with a brief history lesson in chocolate, the class then provides hands on instruction in roasting and grinding the beans followed by mixing and molding the chocolates. Other classes cover truffles and how to cook a traditional Mexican mole. Its three story location includes a chocolate shop, café, and a factory open for tours of the process.

  9. Hike through a Jungle Garden

    Day trip to the Vallarta Botanical Gardens.
    The Vallarta Botanical Gardens cover 64 acres of the Mismaloya jungle to the south of the city. Unlike a typical manicured garden, the landscape here is largely left wild, with several hiking trails winding their way over steep hills and down to the edge of the Los Horcones River (bring a swimsuit and towel if you want to take a dip). Trails vary from moderate to difficult, and a good pair of shoes is necessary to navigate over the uneven paths. Hike early to avoid the heat, then return to the center of the gardens, a flat area with a huge collection of orchids, the largest in Mexico, as well as an aquatic plants pond and a cactus garden. Birds, butterflies, and iguanas are all found here, plus a fresh Mexican restaurant with good food and even better cocktails.

  10. Sail Off into the Sunset at Banderas Bay

    Best sunset sailing charters in Puerto Vallarta
    Vallarta is known for its colorful orange and purple sunsets and, under the right conditions, the rare “green flash” just as the sun disappears over the horizon. There’s no better spot to see the city’s famous sunsets than from aboard a sailboat, gliding over the calm waters in the Banderas Bay. You’ll have a great vantage point here to see not only an unobstructed view of the horizon, but also dolphins, turtles, manta rays, and in the winter months, maybe a whale or two. Most cruises offer an open bar, hors d’oeuvres, and sweets along the way, and last about three hours. The best sunset sailing tours are offered by Ada Sailing, leaving from Marina Vallarta, and Ally Cat Sailing Adventures, leaving from La Cruz Marina near Bucerías.

Vanuatu with Kids – Best Family Hotels

by Santorini Dave • Updated: June 21, 2019

Affiliate Disclosure: Booking.com is my favorite website for booking hotels (and yes, it’s the site I always use when reserving a room). It’s safe, easy to use, and consistently has great rates. All hotel links on my site are affiliate links meaning I earn a small fee when you book a hotel. (There is never any extra cost to you for using these links). I use some of these earnings for my monthly donation to the wonderful non-profit GiveDirectly. Read more about my charitable giving here.

See Also:

The Best Hotels for Families in Vanuatu

Aquana Beach Resort

Swimming pool at family-friendly Aquana Beach Resort.
Probably the best resort on the main island for families, with genuine tropical vibe, adorable sandy bay and calm shallow waters. Also, engaging activities, free child-minding with gracious nannies, and children’s menus. 1-bedroom bungalows easily fit in 2 extra single beds; those with 2 bedrooms can sleep up to 6. And management will do almost anything to accommodate any family configuration. Kayaking, snorkelling and exploring uninhabited islets help guests forget the isolation.
Hotel phone: (678) 35532

Cocomo Resort & Apartments

Attractive kids' playground at Cocomo Resort.
Likeable tropical getaway, one of the best around Port Vila. 1-bedroom rooms and villas have space for an extra single; the self-catering two-bedroom apartments sleep up to 7. Younger ones would appreciate the modest games room, shady playground and movie nights. Massive supermarket and stadium very close by may also entice. But the beach is a little disappointing, and the resort is a little isolated.
Hotel phone: (678) 25505

Erakor Island Resort & Spa

Tropical vibe at kids-friendly Erakor Island Resort.
The bad news: there’s no pool. The good news: most youngsters won’t care as they explore the tropical island, splash about the awesome beaches and clamber around the wooden playground. Abundant activities also offered: e.g. movie nights, beach bonfires and free water-sports. And a fantastic choice of rooms: 1-bedroom villas can accommodate a family of 4, while others have 2 or even 4 bedrooms (with a private beach).
Hotel phone: (678) 23098

Hideaway Island Resort & Marine Sanctuary

Pool with water views at family-friendly Hideaway Island Resort.
The young ones would relish the tropical island vibe, with hidden beaches and pristine gardens. Some villas have a private pool, but there’s also a pool for everyone. Abundant activities (many free, such as village tours and boat trips), as well as rental of water-sports gear at no cost. Some bungalows have connecting doors, and can cater for up to 5. And all so accessible from the capital and airport.
Hotel phone: (678) 22963

Iririki Island Resort & Spa

Attractive and colourful playground at kids-friendly Iririki Isand Resort.
Simply, no need to go anywhere else. Free snorkelling gear, kayaks and bicycles; tennis courts; loads of evening entertainment; and even more to do during the day. For children: a games room, playground and free kids’ club, with plenty of activities. Baby-sitting also available. And a wide range of suitable accommodation, including family bungalows and self-contained apartments. And, incredibly, all of this within a 3-minute boat ride of downtown Port Vila.
Hotel phone: (678) 35060

Poppy’s on the Lagoon Resort

Attractive pool at kids-friendly Poppy's on the Lagoon Resort.
Plenty of space inside the bungalows and suites with 2 bedrooms, and massive villas and apartments with 3. Some are clustered tightly around the main pool; others are spread up the hill. Child-friendly, with nannies and baby-sitting service, games/DVD library and massive treehouse embracing an extraordinary banyan tree. Snorkelling, kayaking and canoeing, and a few daily activities for the young ones.
Hotel phone: (678) 23425

Read More

Best Things to Do in Los Cabos

by Santorini Dave • Updated: June 21, 2019

See Also

Top 10 Things to Do in Los Cabos

  1. Kayak to El Arco

    Kayaking and snorkeling at El Arco in Los Cabos
    Highly recommended! El Arco (the arch) is Cabo’s most iconic landmark, a striking rock formation rising from the southernmost point of the Baja Peninsula, where the Pacific Ocean becomes the Sea of Cortez. The best way to visit El Arco is by kayak; this is the only way to access the cove and get up close to the arch, as larger boats are unable to maneuver the tight space there. Tours last about 3.5 hours, with the price inclusive of hotel transfer, life vests, snorkel gear, and refreshments and snacks. Kid-friendly for swimmers ages 7 and up.

  2. Snorkel the Sea of Cortez

    Where to snorkel in Los Cabos, Mexico
    Called “The Aquarium of the World” by Jacques Cousteau, the Sea of Cortez is one of the world’s richest marine environments. Thousands of unique species are found here, from sea lions to sea turtles, from colorful reef fish to mobula rays – a type of manta ray that leaps out of the water. The dazzling blue waters in this gulf are gentle for most of the year, though temperatures vary; the warmest months for snorkeling are June through December. Explorers can snorkel on their own, swimming off the coast at Santa Maria, Chileno Bay, or day tripping up to Cabo Pulmo. For guided tours, try Cabo Trek for the best private trip or Esperanza’s Tours for a fantastic, affordable tour for couples or smaller groups.
    Reviews: Cabo Trek, Esperanza’s Tours

  3. Explore an Oasis at Sierra de la Laguna

    Hiking in the Sierra de la Lagina
    Sierra de la Laguna offers a striking contrast to the deserts of Los Cabos: a lush oasis with waterfalls, cold granite pools, natural waterslides, hot springs, and leafy green trees. To find the best spots in this pristine UNESCO biosphere reserve, travelers will definitely need a guide. Baja Sierra Adventures is the single best tour operator for Sierra de la Laguna. Owner Edgardo Cortes takes guests on multi-sport treks – hiking, biking, and swimming all of the area’s hidden wonders. Day trips, overnights, or multi-day excursions all include intimate dining at working ranches, mingling with the locals, and sometimes tortilla-making lessons over an open fire. Tours are adaptable for each group and can be easy to strenuous, great for families or couples. Available year-round, except for August and September. Travelers will need to rent a car to get to Santiago, the tour’s home base.
    Reviews

  4. Amazing Cabo Bar Crawl

    Best bar crawl in Los Cabos
    Cabo San Lucas is known for its wild nightlife scene, and the best way to learn the hotspots is on a pub crawl. Drink and dash through 4 or 5 bars in about three or four hours, solving puzzles and completing challenges along the way (though every tour can be quite different depending on your guide).

  5. San Jose Art Walk

    Art walk in San Jose del Cabo
    Spend an evening walking through the art galleries in historic downtown San Jose, when the town’s quaint, Spanish colonial streets fill with colorful street performers, food stalls, musicians, and dancers. Superb local artwork here ranges from painting to sculpture to jewelry and beyond, each gallery with its own unique flair. Travelers can sample wine and tequila in the galleries or stop by the local cantinas for tacos, margaritas, and ceviche. The Art Walk is a free, all-ages event that takes place every Thursday evening between 5 and 9 from November through June. The main galleries are located on Obregon, Morelos, Guerrero, and Comonfort streets. Maps are available at any storefront and are helpful for finding the smaller galleries on the side streets. Tours are available but totally unnecessary.
    Reviews

  6. Burrito Safari

    Rancho Carisuva donkey hike, Los Cabos
    Enjoy Rancho Carisuva’s sunset or morning hike with a trusty little donkey (burrito) as companion. In this unique hike, guests will explore the Baja desert landscape, learn about local plants and wildlife, and take a break at a seaside clifftop lookout, where your friendly burro will offer beer and snacks. The hike back to the ranch follows a pristine beach. This is part of a rescue program that helps donkeys who have been abused or abandoned by local farmers and miners due to technological advances. The Burrito Safari is family-friendly and can be combined with ATV tours or horseback riding. Tours last about two hours, and rates include beer, water, and snacks, plus round-trip transportation. Guests may choose to provide their own transportation and get 30% off the tour price.
    Reviews

  7. Swim with Sharks

    Swimming with sharks in Los Cabos
    Cabo Shark Dive’s exhilarating tour offers a rare chance to safely swim, snorkel, or dive in the open water (no cages) with these apex predators. The Sea of Cortez is home to a variety of sharks that can be seen year-round, but this area is especially great for spotting silkies, blues, makos (the world’s fastest), and hammerheads that begin to gather here every March. Though sharks are the main attraction, guests may also get the opportunity to swim with other marine life, such as dolphins, sea lions, whales, and manta rays. Tours last roughly 5 hours, depending on how fast the sharks find the chum; guests will need to wait patiently. Very occasionally, no sharks will come. It’s rare that this happens, but in this case, guests will be offered a second tour at 50% off. Ages 13 and up only; minors must be accompanied by an adult.
    Reviews

  8. Learn to Cook Baja Style

    Cooking class at Los Tamarindos, Los Cabos, Mexico
    A hands-on cooking class is an amazing way to connect with Baja culture. Most classes begin with a trip to the local market or farm, where students will learn about indigenous ingredients and how to choose them. Authentic recipes for ceviche, salsas, mole, tamales, and more are taught in restaurants or home kitchens in classes that usually last around four or five hours, including time to eat your creations. Casa de Colores and Cookin’ Cabo offer home-cooking, family-friendly classes in Cabo San Lucas, while Huerta Los Tamarindos is on a charming organic farm, slightly more upscale, and has amazingly delicious food.
    Reviews: Casa de Colores, Cookin’ Cabo, Huerta los Tamarindos

  9. Lovers Beach and Divorce Beach

    Lovers Beach and Divorce Beach
    These twin beaches jut out into the Sea of Cortez near El Arco, with Lovers Beach facing the calm gulf side and Divorce Beach facing the choppy Pacific. The water on the Lovers side is popular for snorkeling and swimming; the Divorce side is best for lounging, but the water is too rough to swim. Travelers will need to bring their own towels and umbrellas, but there usually are locals selling beer and refreshments. Lovers and Divorce less crowded than the main Medano Beach, because they are harder to get to. Most people take a water taxi to get there. Be advised that there is no dock on the beach side; the captain will pull up as close to shore as they can, and guests will then need to jump out and negotiate their way to the beach. There are locals who will help people ashore and handle their gear, usually for another 80 pesos ($5 USD). Another option is to hike to the beaches from the Grand Solmar, a moderate hike but not for novices. It only takes about 10 to 15 minutes to scrabble over the rocks. Stick to the inside, and don’t try to get by on the beach side.
    Reviews: Lovers Beach, Divorce Beach

  10. San Jose Estuary

    Bird sanctuary in Los Cabos, Mexico
    A marshy, freshwater lagoon and bird sanctuary, the San Jose Estuary is fed by an underwater river and covers about 2000 acres, including a thin strip of beach. Several hundred local and migrating bird species are found here, including Great Blue Herons, White-faced Ibis, and endangered Belding’s Yellowthroats. A little trail cuts through the area for hiking or biking, while kayaking is popular in the lagoon. Be sure to stop by the Wirikuta Cactus Garden just to the west of the Estuary, which houses about 1800 varieties of cacti as well as a sculpture garden. The Estuary is about 10 minutes’ walk from Downtown San Jose or 15 minutes bicycling from the Hotel Zone.
    Reviews: Estuary, Cactus Garden

Read More

The Best Beaches in Hawaii

by Santorini Dave • Updated: June 21, 2019

See Also

Recommended Hawaii Tours

Waianapanapa Black Sand Beach on the Road To Hana tour in Maui.

Waianapanapa Black Sand Beach on the Road To Hana tour in Maui.

The 25 Best Beaches in Hawaii

  • Hanalei BayKauai
    The best beach in Hawaii.
    Absolutely stunning beach, crescent shaped and surrounded by mountains. There are actually three beaches here, and Black Pot Beach is the best of them, at the mouth of the Hanalei River with the huge pier that kids love jumping from. This beach is great for swimming, surfing, fishing, and paddleboarding; camping is allowed with a permit.

    Recommended Hotels: Hanalei Dolphin Cottages (moderate) • Hanalei Inn (budget) • St Regis Princeville (luxury)

  • Ka’anapali BeachMaui
    Kaanapali Beach on Maui
    Gorgeous, three-mile stretch of white sand, perfect for swimming. Snorkeling is best on the north end near Black Rock, but currents are strong up there. This is a busy, high-energy beach.

    Recommended hotels: Ka’anapali Beach Hotel (moderate) • Westin Maui Resort and Spa (luxury)

  • Waikiki BeachOahu
    Waikiki Beach on Oahu
    Waikiki Beach is best known as the birthplace of modern surfing. A manmade beach, it was designed to be versatile and is great for swimming, standup paddleboarding, kayaking, and people watching; certain areas are walled off from the waves, perfect for little kids and beginning swimmers.

    Recommended Hotels: Halekulani (luxury) • Moana Surfrider (luxury) • Park Shore Waikiki (moderate) • Waikiki Prince (budget)

  • Poipu BeachKauai
    Poipu Beach on Kauai
    “Sunny Poipu” is wonderful stretch of white sand beach, shaped like three half-moons. Gentle waves and unique reefs make this a great spot for swimming, snorkeling, scuba, boogieboarding, and beginner surfing. Popular with families, busy with tourists.

    Recommended hotels: Grand Hyatt Kauai (luxury) • Ko’a Kea (luxury) • Whaler’s Cove (moderate)

  • Ho’okipa BeachMaui
    Ho'okipa Beach on Maui
    Best known for surfing, windsurfing, and kitesurfing. Waves here can be big in the winter, but in the summer it’s great for swimming; enter the water all the way down at the eastern end to avoid rocks. This is also a great spot to find sea turtles that come ashore in droves at sunset.

    Recommended hotels: The Inn at Mama’s Fish House (luxury) • Pa’ia Inn (moderate) • Mangolani Inn (moderate)

  • Waimea BayOahu
    Waimea Bay Beach on Oahu
    Famous for huge waves, Waimea Bay hosts international surfing competitions every year. In the summer, though, the waves die down almost entirely, making the beach perfect for swimming. During summer months, this is the most popular beach with families on Oahu’s North Shore.

    Recommended hotels: Ke Iki Beach Bungalows (moderate)

  • Wailea BeachMaui
    Wailea Beach on Maui
    Wailea Beach has it all: soft sand, gentle waves, and clear water, perfect for nearly all water activities. This is a busy beach with many resorts in the area.

    Recommended hotels: Grand Wailea (luxury) • Hotel Wailea (luxury) • Andaz Maui (luxury)

  • Kauna’oa Beach (aka Mauna Kea Beach) • Big Island
    Kaunaoa Beach on Hawaii's Big Island
    Sparkling, turquoise waters and fine white sand make this the Big Island’s best beach. Waves are usually gentle, and there are two reefs. A fantastic spot for snorkeling, swimming, and sunning.

    Recommended Hotels: Mauna Kea Beach Hotel (luxury) • Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel (luxury)

  • Kapalua BayMaui
    Kapalua Bay Beach on Maui
    Crescent-shaped bay with gentle waves and blue waters, popular with families. This stunning beach is flanked by two reefs and offers great swimming and snorkeling. Water can be cloudy in the middle, so head to the north end for the best snorkeling.

    Recommended hotels: Montage Kapalua Bay (luxury) • Ritz Carlton (luxury) • Napili Kai Beach Resort (moderate)

  • Carlsmith BeachBig Island
    Carlsmith Beach on Hawaii's Big Isand
    A truly unique spot for swimming, snorkeling, and sea turtle encounters! This spectacular beach is made of a series of big lagoons fed by cool, freshwater springs. The shore is rocky, but the bottom is sandy.

    Recommended hotels: The Lotus Garden (budget) • Kama’aina Inn (moderate)

  • Baldwin Beach Maui
    Baldwin Beach on Maui
    Perfect for swimming and bodyboarding with a calm lagoon area called Baby Beach that’s great for little ones. This dazzling beach stretches out a mile long and can be busy, especially on weekends.

    Recommended hotels: Pa’ia Inn (moderate) • Mangolani Inn (moderate) • The Inn at Mama’s Fish House (luxury)

  • Hapuna BeachBig Island
    Hapuna Beach on Hawaii's Big Island
    This breathtaking spot is the largest white sand beach on the Big Island. It’s fairly flat, not too crowded, perfect for families, and has great snorkeling, swimming, and boogieboarding. There are shade trees and a lava tube on the south end.

    Recommended hotels: Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel (luxury) • Mauna Kea Beach Hotel (luxury)

  • Kekaha BeachKauai
    Kekaha Beach on Kauai
    Kekaha Beach marks the start of the longest stretch of white sand on Kaua’i. On the west end of the island, its distance from resort areas means this spot is usually quiet, more of a locals’ hangout than a tourist destination. Waters can be rough and waves can get big, making this a great spot for experienced surfers and swimmers, beach bumming, spectacular sunsets, and views of Ni’ihau aka The Forbidden Isle.

    Recommended hotels: Waimea Plantation Cottages

  • Richardson BeachBig Island
    Richardson Beach on Hawaii's Big island
    Heavenly black sand beach near Hilo, where the ocean is fed by freshwater springs. With its tidepools, calm waves, and tropical fish, this is an excellent spot for snorkeling with family.

    Recommended hotels: The Lotus Garden (budget) • Kama’aina Inn (moderate)

  • Banzai PipelineO’ahu
    Banzai Pipeline Beach on Oahu
    Actually part of ‘Ehukai Beach, the legendary Banzai Pipeline, aka The Pipe, is one of the world’s most famous, challenging, and dangerous surf spots. International surf competitions are held here every winter. In summer, extra sand deposits make the beach grow, and the waves flatten out for lovely swimming.

    Recommended hotels: Ke Iki Beach Bungalows (moderate)

  • Hamoa Beach Maui
    Hamoa Beach on Maui
    Hamoa Beach is a salt-and-pepper beach, with white sand and black lava rock sand, near Hana. Surrounded by sea cliffs and lush with jungle greens, this is a family-friendly beach great for surfing, snorkeling, scuba, and swimming. Currents are strong outside the bay, and waves can get big, especially in winter.

    Recommended hotels: Travaasa Hana (luxury) • Hana Kai (moderate)

  • Wai’anapanapa State ParkMaui
    Waianapanapa State Park Beach on Maui
    This picturesque black sand beach near Hana offers the most bang for your buck. Visitors will find a lava tube, blowhole, vibrant green jungle, and black lava cliffs with hiking trails. Water is often rough, so be cautious.

    Recommended hotels: Travaasa Hana (luxury) • Hana Kai (moderate)

  • Napili Bay Maui
    Napili Bay Beach on Maui
    West Maui white sand beach, excellent for swimming and snorkeling. This little beach sits in between crowded Ka’anapali Beach and Kapalua Bay, but is usually quieter. Great for swimming and snorkeling in summer and for experienced surfing in the winter.

    Recommended hotels: Napili Kai Beach Resort (moderate) • Montage Kapalua Bay (luxury) • Ritz Carlton (luxury)

  • Lydgate Beach ParkKauai
    Lydgate Beach Park on Kauai
    A fantastic family beach, Lydgate Beach has two protected lagoon areas filled with tropical fish and calm waters, perfect for swimming and snorkeling. The adjacent park has bike trails, a big wooden playground, and a grassy area where many people fly kites.

    Recommended hotels: Hilton Garden Inn (moderate) • Fern Grotto Inn (moderate)

  • Kahaluu Beach ParkBig Island
    Kahaluu Beach on Hawaii's Big Island
    A little cove in Kailua-Kona teeming with tropical fish, sea turtles, and colorful coral. The beach itself is not very pretty, but the abundance of wildlife here is astounding. Come early in the morning to avoid crowds.

    Recommended hotels: Kanaloa at Kona by Outrigger (moderate) • Holualoa Inn (luxury) • Courtyard King Kamehamaha’s Kona Beach Hotel (moderate)

  • Sunset Beach ParkOahu
    Sunset Beach Park on Oahu
    Big wave surf spot on Oahu’s North Shore, part of the Triple Crown surfing competition, which also includes Waimea Bay and Banzai Pipeline. In the summer, this becomes a family beach with striking tropical fish in the reef. Perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and bodyboarding.

    Recommended hotels: Ke Iki Beach Bungalows (moderate)

  • Coconut Island (aka Moku Ola) • Big Island
    Coconut Island Beach on Hawaii's Big Island
    This little island in Hilo Bay is very popular with families and is connected to downtown by a footbridge. It has great swimming, a tower where local kids jump into the water, several tiny beaches, and a grassy area for picnicking. This spot is culturally significant as an ancient City of Refuge; if lawbreakers could outrun the warriors chasing them and make it here, they would be pardoned for their crimes.

    Recommended hotels: The Lotus Garden (budget) • Kama’aina Inn (moderate)

  • Kalapaki BeachKauai
    Kalapaki Beach on Kauai
    This gorgeous white sand beach in a little cove has gentle waters, and is great for swimming, standup paddleboarding, and sailing. Close to downtown Lihue and restaurants, this beach is a favorite for families.

    Recommended hotels: Garden Island Inn (budget) • Kauai Marriott Resort (luxury)

  • Anaeho’omalu Bay Beach (aka A-Bay) • Maui
    Anaehoomalu Beach on Hawaii's Big Island
    Salt-and-pepper sand beach with tidepools and coconut groves, adjacent to two ancient fishponds. The offshore reef softens the waves here and provides superior snorkeling, scuba, swimming, and net fishing. Just south of Waikoloa Beach and much less crowded.

    Recommended hotels: Hilton Waikoloa Village (luxury) • Waikoloa Beach Marriott (luxury) • Lava Lava Beach Club (luxury)

  • Kamakohonu Beach (aka King Kam Beach, aka Kids Beach) • Big Island
    Kamakohonu Beach on Hawaii's Big Island
    In downtown Kailua-Kona, this beach is as flat as a pond, perfect for small children and a popular spot for swimming, snorkeling, canoeing, and kayaking. This is also home to ‘Ahu’ena Heiau, King Kamehameha the Great’s personal temple and where he spent his last seven years.

    Recommended hotels: Courtyard King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel (moderate) • Holualoa Inn (luxury) • Royal Kona Resort (moderate)

  • BONUS OFF THE BEATEN PATH BEACH: Waiohuli Beach • Maui
    Waiohuli Beach on Maui
    Maybe Maui’s best kept secret, Waiohuli Beach in South Kihei is completely unheard of by tourists and rarely frequented by locals, though you may spot a few fishing there. Shallow waters make it great for walking, wading, and for little ones to splash in. An excellent spot to relax and catch a dazzling sunset. This beach is not listed on any map, but is very easy to get to; just take South Kihei Road until it meets West Lipoa Street near St Theresa Church, then head west. The road dead ends at the beach.

    Recommended hotels: Aloha Aku Inn and Suites (moderate) • Maui Sunseeker LGBT Resort (budget) • Andaz Maui at Wailea (luxury)

What’s the best Hawaii beach for me?

  • What are Hawaii’s best beaches for kids?
    Hawaii has an abundance of kid-friendly beaches, though Po’ipu Beach and Hapuna Beach stand out for their consistently good weather, calm water and access to facilities. Po’ipu Beach has a lifeguard on duty seven days a week, and its central cove has a lagoon area with extra gentle waves perfect for little ones. Hapuna Beach has shallow waters and nearly always small waves, great for beginners. Other great family beaches include Hanalei Bay, Baldwin Beach, Ka’napali Beach, and Coconut Island.
  • What are Hawaii’s best party beaches?
    The best beach for partying in Hawaii is definitely Waikiki Beach. City lights keep the beach glowing, there’s a free firework show every Friday night, and last call’s not ‘til 4 a.m. Almost everywhere else in the state winds down around 9 o’ clock, if not earlier. For daytime partying, Little Beach on Maui is best. It’s overrun by nudists most days (which is totally illegal!), and Sundays at sunset there’s usually a drum circle going on with fire dancers, magic brownies, and folks drinking out of brown paper bags.
  • What are Hawaii’s most tranquil beaches?
    Most of the time, a quiet beach means one that’s off the beaten path. For a very quiet beach that’s easily accessible, though, Waiohuli Beach in South Kihei can’t be beat. Shallow water with lack of snorkeling keeps most visitors away, but for people who just want to hear the waves or take in a sunset, this is a wonderful option. The black sand beach at Wai’anapanapa State Park is also fairly quiet, surrounded by absolutely stunning landscape. Another great spot is Secret Beach in Kauai; stop by here early in the morning for great odds of swimming with a pod of wild spinner dolphins.
  • What are Hawaii’s best beaches for snorkeling?
    Much of Hawaii is surrounded by reefs, which means that great snorkeling spots are everywhere. The Big Island has some of the healthiest reefs and clearest waters of all the islands. For beginners, Kahaluu Beach Park is best for its calm waters and overflow of wildlife. Black Rock, at the north end of Ka’anapali Beach in Maui, is another wonderful spot, though currents can be stronger here. Molikini Crater, Kapalua Bay, and Po’ipu Beach area also prime areas for snorkeling.
  • What are Hawaii’s best beaches for surfing?
    The choice of best beaches for surfing really depends on the skill level of the surfer. Waikiki Beach is where modern surfing took off, and it’s still one of the best places for beginners. Kahaluu Beach is a wonderful option for those staying on the Big Island, while Po’ipu Beach is great for first timers in Maui. Oahu’s North Shore beaches, including Waimea Bay, Banzai Pipeline, and Sunset Beach, along with Kaua’i’s Hanalei Bay are all perfect spots for beginners in the summertime, but when winter rolls around, they’re best left to the pros.
  • What are Hawaii’s best beaches for swimming?
    Great swimming beaches can be found all over Hawaii. Some of the best are in Maui, and include Kapalua Beach, Baldwin Beach, and Napili Beach. Hapuna Beach is the best on the Big Island; Po’ipu Beach and Hanalei Bay are best in Kauai; and Waikiki is best year-round in Oahu.
  • What are Hawaii’s best beaches for animal lovers?
    There’s an incredible amount of marine life in Hawaii, and the best spots for them depend on which animal you’re hoping to see. The most consistent beach for sea turtles is Ho’okipa Beach in Maui at sunset. Ka’anapali Beach in Maui may be your best bet for spotting humpback whales. Keauhou Bay on the Big Island is best for spotting manta rays, but taking a boat tour off the coast will let travelers get a better look. The beaches in Haleiwa are best for swimming with sharks. Monk seals are often spotted on Po’ipu Beach or on the tiny, hard to reach beaches of the Na Pali Coast in Kauai. Dolphins are everywhere, but Secret Beach in Kauai is a good place to look for them, especially early in the morning.
  • Which are Hawaii’s best beaches for seashells?
    Seashells in Hawaii are rarely found on the beach; usually, people spot them while kayaking, snorkeling, or diving. Be sure to get a guidebook for identifying shells, and be advised that cone shells often house stinging snails. Respect nature, and take only broken or abandoned shells. With these things in mind, the waters off Hanalei Bay in Kauai and Hapuna Beach on the Big Island are the best spots for finding shells.
  • Which are Hawaii’s best beaches for sea glass?
    Glass Beach in Kaua’i, as its name implies, is a great spot to look for sea glass. But with a name like that, it has attracted a lot of glass hunters over the years, so its supplies are dwindling. Honoli’i Beach Park on the Big Island tends to have plenty of glass; travelers will want to wear sturdy shoes for the walk. On Oahu, Sandy Beach may be the best bet.

See Also

The Best Tours and Things To Do in Hawaii

by Santorini Dave • Updated: June 21, 2019

See Also

The 11 Best Tours & Day Trips in Hawaii

One of the best tours in Hawaii.

The Road To Hana tour in Maui, Hawaii.

The 25 Best Things To Do in Hawaii

1. Snorkel with SharksOahu

Dive with sharks on Oahu
One Ocean Diving offers a shark tour unlike all others, the only one in which guests snorkel without a cage, and the only one that goes to where the sharks live rather than attracting them with food, so they can be observed in a calm, natural state. This is an exhilarating experience, perhaps even life-changing, a chance to get up close with the oceans’ apex predators and gain new insight and understanding of these magnificent creatures. Owned and run by marine biologists and experts in shark behavior patterns, One Ocean is part of a conservation and scientific study group. There are no age requirements, but guests must be at least 4 feet tall and strong swimmers: children must be accompanied by two adults. Tours are two hours long, with about 30-45 minutes in the water. Operating out of Hale’iwa, close to the river for an amazing SUP experience, surfing spots Banzai Pipeling and Waimea Bay, and famous Matsumoto’s shave ice (though Anahulu’s down the street is more flavorful, shorter line, and less expensive).

2. Doors-Off Helicopter TourKauai

Doors-off helicopter tour of Kauai
Jack Harter Helicopters is a must! About seventy percent of gorgeous Kauai is inaccessible by foot; the only way to see it all is by helicopter, and flying with the doors off means the stunning views are completely unobstructed. Breathtaking landscape surrounds guests, including the Na Pali Coast, Waimea Canyon, Mount Waialeale, and Jurassic Falls. For doors-off tours, passengers must be at least ten years old. They do offer tours with the doors on (and air conditioning) that are suitable for younger guests; however, this can wind up being an expensive nap for little ones! Tours last 60 or 90 minutes in total air time; plan for additional time for safety instructions and transportation to and from the helicopters (provided by the company). Flying out of Lihue, Jack Harter Helicopters is close to Kalapaki Beach and Backcountry Adventures tubing tours.

3. Manta Ray Night Dive and Snorkel EcoadventureBig Island

Dive with manta rays on Hawaii's Big Island

Neptune Charlie’s Ocean Safari helps guests get up close to these gentle giants, averaging a twelve foot wingspan. Around sunset, boats leave the Kona coast for the offshore gathering spot of hundreds of rays. Manta rays are attracted to the area using lights, held onto by guests, and they put on a show of waving and rolling in search of plankton within inches of the snorkelers. There are no age restrictions, but six years and up is recommended. The three hour tour leaves from Honokohau Marina, close to Pine Trees Surfing Beach and Ocean Rider Seahorse Farm, making it a perfect ending for a day of sun, sand, and nature.

4. Sunrise Lava TourBig Island

Get within feet of a lava flow at Volcanoes National Park

Epic Lava Tours hosts a spectacular guided hike to visit active lava flows. Beginning within Volcanoes National Park, guests get within a few feet of fresh lava, take in the sunrise, and visit lesser known areas within the rainforest park. Snack, water, and rain ponchos provided. The hike is long, about four to five miles in each direction, depending on current volcanic activity. There are no age restrictions, but it may be too strenuous a hike for very young children. Additionally, volcanic fumes are strong; pregnant women, infants, and the elderly are advised not to get this close. Tours begin at 4 a.m. and end between 9 and 10, depending on how near the lava is flowing that day.

5. Na Pali Sunset Dinner SailKauai

Catamaran sunset dinner cruise around Kauai's Na Pali Coast

Captain Andy’s catamaran sails feature dramatic views of the rugged Na Pali Coast. Sheer and jagged cliffs, encounters with spinner dolphins plus more sea life, and sunset colors make this an excellent choice for a romantic evening for two. Great dinner with cocktails included. Boats leave from Ele’ele and last four hours. Stop by Kauai Island Brewing Company on the way for a flight of local beers, as food and cocktails on the boat aren’t served until a couple hours after departure.

6. Molokini Express, Adventure SnorkelingMaui

Short and affordable snorkeling excursion off Maui

Blue Water Rafting offers one of the shorter and more affordable snorkeling trips out of Maui to the crystal waters off Molokini, a volcanic crater and seabird sanctuary. The inflatable rafts are small and maneuverable, able to get very close to plunging cliffs. This is amazing snorkeling in areas where bigger boats are unable to fit, with tropical fish everywhere and over an hour spent in the water. The highlight of the trip, though, is the ride itself, as the tiny boat catches air, leaping over the waves. Children aged four and up are welcome; younger children are allowed on private charters. The tour lasts two hours total and leaves from the Kihei Boat Ramp, near Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge, home to endangered wetland birds, and Maui Brewing Company, with a tasting room and brewery tours.

7. Mountain Tubing through Canals and TunnelsKauai

Tubing tour through Kauai

Kauai Backcountry Adventures is the only group offering tubing tours on the island. Guests are driven through the rainforest to the old Lihue Plantation, where they are given a headlamp and tube and set to float through the old irrigation system built in the late nineteenth century. Fun and knowledgeable guides keep the banter going as everyone drifts past lush landscapes and through pitch dark tunnels. Finish with a light lunch. Children five years and up allowed. Tour departs from Lihue, near the helicopter tours, Fern Grotto, and Lydgate Beach Park.

8. North Shore Beach Tour Oahu

Tour visiting Oahu's best surfing, swimming, and snorkeling sites

Aloha Beach Bus’ deluxe tour breaks travelers out of Waikiki and up to Hale’iwa in the North Shore for an all-day sun and surf adventure. Learn about the history of surfing among Hawaiian royalty, and visit the most famous surf spots in the world, Banzai Pipeline and Waimea Bay, with water clear enough to see the bottom and a huge rock for cliff jumping. Guests are invited to swim, surf, snorkel, canoe, or scuba here. At Pua’ena Point, snorkel with sea turtles, before moving on the Wailua River for standup paddleboarding and shave ice. Finish with a trip to the Dole Plantation for pineapple ice cream. Lunch at Tsue’s Farm is included. All ages welcome.

9. Tour a Kona Coffee FarmBig Island

Tour an organic, sustainable, working coffee plantation on Hawaii's Big Island

Kona Old Style at Kuaiwi Farm offers guided tours of their five-acre organic, sustainable, working coffee plantation. Alongside coffee berries, find macadamias, cacao, bananas, pineapples, and more. Learn the intricacies of the coffee-making process from start to finish. Tours include a delightful tasting of their own award-winning coffees, mac nuts, and jams. The basic tour lasts two hours and welcomes all ages. An optional chocolate-making class can be added for guests over ten years.

10. Spot a Sunken Ship from aboard a SubmarineMaui

Go 100 feet underwater in a submarine in search of sea life and sunken ships off Maui

Atlantis Submarines Maui explore ocean depths in search of reef sharks, dolphins, eels and tropical fish. Diving over 100 feet underwater, the submarines pass by a sunken ship and visit three reefs. This is a great escape from the midday heat, and it’s a perfect way for not-so-strong swimmers to experience marine wildlife. No age limits, but guests must be at least 36” tall. Tour leaves from Lahaina, right off Front Street, near Banyan Court Park and several restaurants, boutiques, and beaches.

11. Nighttime Paddle board under FireworksOahu

Nighttime paddle boarding under fireworks off Oahu

Every Friday night, Nocturnal Adventures Hawaii offers guided tours of the reef off the coast of Waikiki Beach. Paddle boards are fixed with glowing lights underneath, illuminating the wildlife under the surface. Tours leave just before sunset in search of tropical fish and sea turtles. After dark, guests sit down on their boards while still floating on the waves, as the weekly fireworks show explodes directly overhead. All ages welcome, but children eight and under must share a paddle board with an adult. Tours depart from Waikiki Beach, near shops, dining, Honolulu Zoo, and Diamond Head.

12. Hilo Rainforest Hike and Volcano OverlookBig Island

Customizable rainforest and volcano tours on Hawaii's Big Island

Marylou’s Big Island Guided Tours are fully customizable, taking guests to sites of their choosing. Opt for the Hawaii Volcano Night Glow Tour to see sights around Hilo before heading to the Kilauea Volcano overlook at dusk to see the fiery glow. Suggested sites include Richardson’s Black Sand Beach, Rainbow Falls, Liliuokalani Gardens, Thurston Lava Tube, Volcanoes National Park, and more. Choose your own adventure, or opt for a pre-set package. Tours depart from Hilo, near Coconut Island, Pacific Tsunami Museum, and the Lyman House Museum. All ages welcome.

13. Visit Hawaii’s Only MeaderyKauai

Working meadery on Hawaii's Big Island

Nani Moon Meadery is working hard to elevate mead, the world’s first alcoholic drink, and modernize its flavor profile for a contemporary palate. Each variety is made with local fruits, like lilikoi and guava, and sometimes spiced with ginger or chili. Far from the cloying sweetness of traditional mead, the drinks here are crisp and light. Guests are invited to taste their full range of flavors or observe the bottling process. Hive-to-Glass tours, where guests meet the bees, taste the honeys, and try the meads, are coming soon! Adults only. Located in Kapa’a town and close to Fern Grotto, plus the old town boutiques, restaurants, and beaches.

14. Meet the Goats at a Working Dairy FarmMaui

Working goat dairy farm on Maui

Surfing Goat Dairy Farm is a family-friendly agrotourism spot open daily, a little different than the usual Hawaiian attraction. Casual walking tours take about 20 minutes and do not require reservations; feed the goats, check out the modern milking machines, watch the cheesemaking process, and taste several of their 30 varieties of cheeses and quark. Reservations are suggested for the Evening Chores Tour, where guests learn to hand milk a goat, in addition to everything offered in the casual tour. Located in Kula, partway down the side of the Haleakala Crater and near the Ocean Vodka Distillery. Check out their shop for all things goat milk, from soaps to truffles to popsicles. Bonus fact: the farm owners will trade cheese for worn out surfboards! All ages welcome.

15. Ride a Bike • Big Island and Maui

Rent a bike on Maui or Hawaii's Big Island

The two most bike friendly islands are Big Island and Maui; rentals are available in several locations there at affordable rates. Big Island has few designated bike lanes, but most roads and highways have wide shoulders that bikers are encouraged to use. For mountain biking, there are several trails for all skill levels within Volcanoes National Park. The tour company Velissimo has several options for day trips, as well as a week-long circle island tour. Maui has more bike infrastructure built into their roads, making it a cinch to cycle around Lahaina and Kihei using rentals from Haleakala Bike Co. The most popular bike tour by far is a downhill ride at sunrise from the Haleakala Crater.

16. Road to HanaMaui

Scenic driving route in Maui

Beginning in Pa’ia, the Hana Highway runs east through tropical rainforest, a winding road of switchback turns dug into sheer cliffsides with blind curves leading into one-lane bridges. The landscape is as dramatic as the road, featuring waterfalls, bamboo forests, and the largest ancient lava rock temple in all of Polynesia. There are dozens of stops along the way, some of the best being Wai’anapanapa State Park, which is a great one-stop-shop with a lava tube, blowhole, black sand beach, and hiking trail; Wailua Falls, with a short hike to the waterfall and plunge pool; and Nahiku Marketplace, a few little roadside shacks midway through with food vendors and a couple of shops. Driving yourself allows the freedom to set your own pace, choosing only the stops that pique your interests. Less confident drivers may opt for taking a guided tour or helicopter ride. However it’s done, the Road to Hana is a must for every Maui trip!

17. Waimea CanyonKauai

Breathtaking canyon in western Kauai

Nicknamed the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, Waimea Canyon in western Kauai is roughly ten miles long, one mile wide, and 3300 feet deep. Breathtaking views from the rim show the steep sides in red and orange color bands, purple shadows, and sparse green scrub. The road up is smooth and not too curvy, so there is no need for a tour. Waimea Canyon Road leads directly to the viewpoint in the state park, but there are several other lookouts along the way offering different perspectives. Further up in Kokee State Park, several hiking trails run along the canyon’s rim or through rainforest. From Princeville or Kapa’a town, plan on a little more than an hour travel time each direction. This is a great activity for active families or couples.

18. Sunset with Sea Turtles Maui

Sea turtles swim ashore at sunset on Maui's Ho'okipa Beach

Every night at sunset no matter what time of the year, sea turtles swim ashore to rest at Ho’okipa Beach Park. On the east end of the beach at the bottom of the cliff near the water, twenty to forty at a time will gather together and sleep. These are endangered creatures, so be sure to respect the cordoned off area and give them their space on shore. As long as people are respectful and refrain from touching them, people are allowed to swim and snorkel with the turtles, though Ho’okipa Beach is not known for great swimming. Surfing, kitesurfing, and windsurfing are the most popular activities here. A park volunteer will be here to answer any questions guests may have about the turtles. Located just east of Pa’ia town and Mama’s Fish House, this is a perfect place to stop and relax after a day wandering Hana, or while waiting on their dinner reservations at Mama’s.

19. Hilo Farmers MarketBig Island

Large farmers market on Hawaii's Big Island with food, art, and flowers

Recognized as one of the best in the U.S., Hilo Farmers Market has over 200 vendors selling local fruits, veggies, and flowers. This is a fantastic stop for a variety of cheap eats, with several specialty food vendors selling Thai food, sushi, Peruvian tamales, Ka’u and Kona coffees, and baked goods. Tarot card readings, local arts, and on first and third Saturdays, free kids’ art activities. The Farmers Market is located in downtown Hilo and is open year round every Wednesday and Saturday from 6am – 2pm. Walking distance to the aquarium, Pacific Tsunami Museum, Lyman Museum, and the beach at Bayfront Park.

20. Ahu’ena HeiauBig Island

Historic religious temple on Hawaii's Big Island

One of the most historically significant spots in Hawaii, this is the religious temple used by King Kamehameha the Great, who united all of the Hawaiian islands. This heiau became the center of political power during the height of his reign and later, the site of his death. The king’s son and heir Liholiho broke taboo here, and less than a year after the king’s death, this was the site where the first American Christian missionaries landed. Damaged in a hurricane, the site has been lovingly restored in recent years. Ahu’ena Heiau is free, open to the public, and suitable for all ages. Located in Kailua-Kona right on Kailua Bay, walking distance to Hulihe’e Palace, once the former vacation home of the Hawaiian royal family, now a museum; and Mokuaikaua Church, Hawaii’s oldest Christian church, founded in 1820.

21. Pay Respects to DukeOahu

statue of Duke Kahanamoku on Waikiki Beach

The father of modern surfing and Hawaii’s Ambassador of Aloha, Duke Kahanamoku is memorialized by a 9 foot tall bronze statue right on the sands of Waikiki Beach. A gold medal Olympic swimmer, waterman, Hollywood actor, and sheriff of Honolulu, Duke’s charisma and popularity was instrumental in reviving the sport of surfing and spreading its popularity worldwide. The statue stands with open arms, draped in flower leis left by admirers. This is one of the most photographed sites in Waikiki, located on Kalakalua Avenue near the Waikiki Police Station. For more photos and memorabilia, check out Duke’s Canoe Club restaurant and the Moana Surfrider hotel’s historic tour on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 11:00. While at the Surfrider, be sure to grab some Dole Whip pineapple ice cream; the only other places in the world where you can get it are at the Dole Plantation or at Disney parks.

22. Bum Around in Pa’ia TownMaui

Bohemian surf town on Maui's North Shore

Pa’ia is a little, boho, surfer town on Maui’s North Shore. The historic main street bustles with hundreds of local, independent boutiques, surf shops, cafés, art galleries, and more. Some of the island’s best restaurants are here, including Mama’s Fish House, Pa’ia Fish Market, and Hana Ranch Provisions, making it a foodie’s heaven. Make sure to head off the main drag and visit the Dharma Center, consecrated by the Dalai Lama; guests are permitted to spin the prayer wheel and photograph the murals inside the stupa. Pa’ia is officially the first stop on the Road to Hana, making it a great place to stay the night before or after the big drive. Or spend a day in the area, splitting time between downtown Pa’ia and the ocean at Baldwin Beach or Ho’okipa Beach Park.

23. Lahaina TownMaui

Waterfront Maui town with shops and galleries

Front Street is the main road on the waterfront in the historic whaling town of Lahaina, now a destination for great restaurants, art galleries, and shopping. Spend the day on the historic trail, a self-guided walking tour through the city with stops at the Baldwin House, Banyan Court Park, Old Lahaina Lighthouse, and the Old Prison. Come back at night for world class dining at Lahaina Grill or Star Noodle. Every Friday night is Art Night, featuring gallery openings, artist demonstrations, and entertainment. Maps for the Historic Trail and Art Night can be found online or at the Lahaina Visitor Center in the courthouse.

24. Shave Ice and Poke all islands

Hawaiian shave ice can be found across all islands

No matter where travelers are in Hawaii, they can always find “ono grinds,” or good food. The two most well-known local dishes, both absolute musts, are poke and shave ice. Poke, rhyming with “OK,” is usually made with tuna or octopus, chopped into cubes, seasoned, and served raw. Visitors will find this at nearly every restaurant, deli, or grocery store in Hawaii. Just as ubiquitous is shave ice, a dessert made by shaving down a block of ice into fine pieces and topping with colorful flavored syrups. Shave ice is often served on top of vanilla or coconut ice cream and topped with sweetened condensed milk; other popular additions are azuki beans or li hung mui (preserved plum) powder. Eat these at every opportunity; they are hard to come by outside of the islands.

25. Holualoa Town Big Island

Arts colony on Hawaii's Big Island

Holualoa is an arts colony in the Kona mountains. Just a twenty minute drive from Kailua-Kona, this small town is surprisingly full of visual arts galleries, showcasing painting, sculpture, ceramics, and jewelry. The best known is Studio 7, featuring the art of two generations of the Morinoue family. Donkey Mill Art Center is just a little further south, offering classes and exhibits that are often free. Two galleries are located in the Historic Kona Hotel, a hot pink two-story at the entrance to Holualoa. Thespian Thursdays feature all kinds of performance art every week at Holuakoa Café.

Bonus: Hand Tap Tattoo • Oahu

Traditional hand-tapped tattooing in downtown Honolulu

For the brave! Soul Signature Tattoo in Downtown Honolulu offers traditional, Polynesian style hand tap tattoos. Blades of varying widths are tapped with a stick, depositing ink into the skin in the form of tiny cuts. This is the oldest form of tattooing, and each Polynesian culture has its own distinct style. Shop owner and artist Aisea has been integral in the birth of modern Polynesian tattooing as one of the founders of Manalua Association, a group working in several Pacific Islands, including Tonga, Tahiti, and the Philippines to educate tattoo artists there on curbing the spread of bloodborne pathogens, while reviving traditional tattoo styles.

See Also

The Raj Palace Hotel in Jaipur, India

by Santorini Dave • Updated: June 20, 2019

Review of The Raj Palace in Jaipur, India.

The Raj Palace – Old-world charm and convenient position, offering indescribable luxury and grandeur.

The Raj Palace offers the quintessential palace-style hotel: whitewashed walls, billiard-table lawns with croquet pitch, expansive terraces of checkered tiles, and restaurants and bars showcasing class and history. Within a 300-year-old former palace which was only converted to a hotel in the late 1990s, its rooms are fit for royalty. Even the lowest category rooms are extraordinary. The pool, gym, and spa are undersized, but this is expected of a hotel built as a palace, not a resort. And the location is faultless: just outside the walls of the Old City and a few minutes by auto-rickshaw from the City Palace.

The Raj Palace – The Location

  • Address: Amer Road. About 300m from the Jorawar (Zorawar) Singh Gate, the main northern entrance to the Old City. The hotel gates are 50m from the road, and rooms are even further back.
  • Area: Busy and crowded streets, with facilities more suited to local residents than foreign tourists.
  • How to Get There: From the airport (14km, 35-minute drive), take a pre-paid taxi or walk outside for an auto-rickshaw. Other important places like the train terminal (6km, 25-minute drive), main bus station (5km, 25-minute drive), and nearest metro station (4km, 17-minute drive) are not too far.
  • Handy to: Old City.

The Raj Palace – The Basics

  • Guests: Many guests are on packaged tours that include 1-2 nights in a genuine palace hotel.
  • Views: All rooms and suites are on higher levels overlooking the lawn, while a few face a quiet internal courtyard.
  • Private Pools/Jacuzzis: One of the Presidential Suites features a rooftop jacuzzi and pool.
  • Wi-Fi: Should be free throughout, but double-check when booking.
  • How to Book: Booking.com will have the best rates.
  • Phone: +91 (0)141 263 4077
  • Email: [email protected]
  • Website: rajpalace.com

The Raj Palace – Amenities

  • Pool: Since it’s a 300-year-old palace which has not been ruthlessly modernized while being converted to a hotel, the pool is undersized, but the courtyard setting is still very attractive.
  • Spa: Similarly, the Prakriti Spa near the pool is tiny and only offers massages.
  • Fitness Center: Suits the layout of an ancient royal palace rather than a modern resort hotel.

The Raj Palace – Food and Drink

  • Restaurants: The Royal Lounge – Coffee shop is as regal as imagined. Perfect for afternoon tea. Sit inside or along the terrace. • Swapna Mahal – Featuring majestic furniture, crystal chandeliers, and elegantly-dressed staff. Even a crockery museum. A la carte and buffets, as well as thalis (set meals in steel plates) fit for a king. • Kebab Shop – The terrace outside the Swapna Mahal converts to kebab stalls during the evenings.
  • Bar: Shikarbadi Bar – So reminiscent of the British Raj era with plush leather seats, paintings of hunting expeditions, and colonial antiques. Serves imported beers and spirits.
  • Breakfast: Not included.
  • Room Service: Available 24/7.

The Raj Palace – Rooms

  • Room Types: Heritage Rooms • Premier Rooms • Historical Rooms • Prestige Suites • Palace Suites • Presidential Suites
  • Smoking Rooms: No smoking in the rooms or public areas, but permitted elsewhere.
  • Best Room: The Presidential Suites are indescribably elegant with 2 or 4 bedrooms, ornately painted walls, and gold-plated bathroom fittings. One suite even features a museum, library, and rooftop pool with jacuzzi. These suites are among the most extraordinary anywhere in India.
  • For Families: Not that interested in families, but there’s space in the rooms for 1 extra single bed and for 2 singles in the suites. One Presidential Suite has 2 bedrooms; the other has 4.

The Raj Palace – Local Transport

  • Walking: The front gates are about 50m from a major road, which is noisy and crowded. Disappointingly, little of interest to guests in the immediate area.
  • Public Transport: The Jaipur Metro is of limited use to tourists – at least until the 2 new stations in the Old City are completed in about 2021. The nearest station, Chandpole, is too far away (4km, 17-minute drive) to be of any use.
  • Taxis & Auto-rickshaws: Taxis (unmetered) are poorly-marked and almost impossible to find without help from the hotel reception, and useless in the Old City anyway. Otherwise, Uber and Ola work effectively. However, just about anywhere, including the airport, is accessible by abundant auto-rickshaws. Some are electric and feature 2 small benches.

The Raj Palace – What’s Nearby?

Restaurants & Bars

    These 2 are the best of a limited choice within a short walk north up the road, but they’re more for locals than foreign tourists.

  • Pink City Kings – With a family section and vast menu (vegetarian only). 3-minute walk (260m).
  • Madhav Restaurant +91 (0)141 267 2875 – In the Hotel Madhav Palace for authentic Indian food at local prices. 4-minute walk (300m).

Otherwise, jump into an auto-rickshaw and head to the Pearl Palace Hotel (6km, 20-minute ride). The restaurant at this hotel, and 2 others directly opposite (listed below), offer rooftop settings with vast views, intimate lighting, competitive prices, and live music on most nights. All are open from about 7 am to 11 pm.

  • The Peacock Rooftop Restaurant – In the Pearl Palace Hotel. Remarkably extensive menu also features pizza, pasta, salad, and Chinese. Can get overcrowded at times, affecting service. Bookings recommended.
  • Chitrakatha – Quiet and laidback. More tempting selection of Indian cuisine than the other 2.
  • Kalyan Rooftop Restaurant – The cheapest and least crowded, with TV sports and comfortable furniture. Also, a lovely restaurant inside with a delightful wooden Rajasthani design.

Shops

  • A few shops just within the Old City walls about 300m away. Not much else within walking distance, however, so catch an auto-rickshaw to the area around the City Palace (see below).

Attractions

  • Jantar Mantar – UNESCO World Heritage site featuring the world’s largest stone sundial and 18 other instruments. 1 of 5 astronomical observatories built in north India in the 18th-century by Maharaj Sawaii Jai Singh II. Right opposite the City Palace. 6-minute drive (2km).
  • A frenetic maze of shops, markets, traffic, and more traffic, the Old City is both fascinating and frustrating to wander about. In the center, the City Palace (open daily from 9 am to 5.30 pm) is a marvelous example of Mughal and Rajasthani architecture, and is packed with courtyards, gardens, and museums. The nearest entrance to the Old City, Jorawar (Zorawar) Singh Gate, is only 300m (4-minute walk) from the hotel, while the City Palace is about 2km (7-minute drive) away.
  • Hawa Mahal – This 18th-century sandstone summer palace features 953 windows which let in cool breezes during the summer, and allowed the Royalty to view the streets below without being seen. Visit early morning to watch the sun’s rays filter through the latticework. 7-minute drive (2km).
  • Amber Palace – UNESCO World Heritage site, also known as Amer Fort among locals, featuring 4 must-see courtyards (Shila Devi Temple, public audience hall, private audience hall, and Mirror Palace), and sound and light shows in the evening. Open from 9 am to 5 pm daily. 12-minute drive (6km).
  • Nahargarh Fort – Historic defense fort overlooking Jaipur. Houses the Jaipur Wax Museum by the entrance, and features a second, updated Sheesh Mahal (Mirror Palace). 25-minute drive (13km).

The Raj Palace – The Hotel

The hotel is located at the northern edge of the Old City.

This 300-year-old former palace is on the northern edge of the Old City.

The hotel entrance exemplifies its history and grandeur.

The history and grandeur of this majestic hotel starts at the main door.

The royal palace was converted to a hotel in the late 1990s.

Although so old, the building was only converted to a hotel in the late 1990s, maintaining the glorious style reminiscent of royal dynasties.

Rooms offer views of the lawns or the inner courtyard.

Most rooms face the lawn, while some overlook an internal courtyard.

The swimming pool can be a little small.

Not originally designed as a hotel, some facilities – such as the swimming pool – are understandably a little small.

The Turkish bath style pool gets crowded easily.

In the style of a Turkish bath, the pool is inviting, but could become easily crowded.

The fitness center is a bit small as well.

Similarly, creating a larger fitness center would considerably change the design and layout of the hotel.

The small spa offers only massages.

Near the pool, the spa is also small, and only offers massages.

The Royal Lounge offers tea with a regal experience.

The regal experience can be greatly enhanced with tea at The Royal Lounge.

Swapna Mahal features imperial furniture, crystal chandeliers, and even a crockery museum.

The signature restaurant, Swapna Mahal, boasts imperial furniture, crystal chandeliers, and even a crockery museum.

Shikarbadi Bar features a colonial-era design.

The Shikarbadi Bar is reminiscent of the sort of place British rulers may have relaxed at during the colonial era.

Drinks can also be enjoyed by the lawn.

Guests can also enjoy a drink along the terrace facing the extended lawn.

The lawn also has a croquet pitch.

Most rooms face the lawn, which also features a croquet pitch.

The Presidential Suites are extremely majestic.

The Presidential Suites are indescribably majestic.

Presidential Suite bedrooms are extremely elegant.

Bedrooms in the Presidential Suites are as elegant as imagined.

The Presidential Suites bathrooms come with gold-plated fittings.

The massive bathrooms in the Presidential Suites feature gold-plated fittings.

Even the lowest category rooms are delightful.

Even the lowest category rooms are very sumptuous.

All room furnishings are appealing.

Furnishing in every room is so resplendent.

The hotel is located in a fairly busy area.

The Raj Palace is just outside the northern walls of the Old City, and within a fairly hectic area.

The neighborhood offers facilities mostly for locals.

Facilities along the main road outside the hotel are of little interest to foreign tourists.

Madhav Restaurant opposite the hotel is decent.

The Madhav Restaurant, on the other side of the road from the hotel gates, is one of few decent restaurants near the Raj.

Pink City Kings close by is a good place to eat, especially for families.

Another place to eat, especially good for families, is Pink City Kings, just up the road from the hotel (away from the Old City).

Peacock Rooftop Restaurant is a good place for dinner.

Options for an evening meal are limited, so take an auto-rickshaw to the popular Peacock Rooftop Restaurant (in the Pearl Palace Hotel).

The Chitrakatha hotel has a delightful rooftop cafe.

Opposite The Peacock, the Chitrakatha hotel offers another delightful rooftop café.

Hotel Kalyan next door has a rooftop cafe and another indoors.

A third in a cluster next to The Peacock and Chitrakatha, the Hotel Kalyan has a rooftop café and another inside with traditional wooden décor.

The Old City's main entrance is a short stroll away.

The hotel is only 300m from the Jorawar (Zorawar) Singh Gate, the main entrance to the northern part of the Old City.

The Old City has a few souvenir shops close to the hotel.

There are a few souvenir shops within the Old City walls only 300m from the hotel gates.

Jaipur features electric auto-rickshaws.

Plenty of auto-rickshaws whisk people around the Old City. Some are electric and have bench seats.

The chaotic Old City is vast and fascinating.

The Old City is chaotic and would take days to explore fully.

The Old City markets are busy after dark.

The several markets within the Old City are more energetic after dark.

Read More

Umaid Mahal Hotel in Jaipur, India

by Santorini Dave • Updated: June 20, 2019

Review of Umaid Mahal in Jaipur, India.

Umaid Mahal – Personable and peaceful, featuring a lavish design and historical grace.

Little sister to the nearby palace-style hotel, Umaid Bhawan (also reviewed), the lavishness is evident at the gold-plated dungeon-style front door. The extravagance continues from the marble lobby to the incredibly ornate corridors linking the rooms and the inner courtyards which are adorned with chandeliers and paintings of Rajasthan. Rooms are admirably spacious and lovingly filled with antiques and old-style prints, but views are somewhat limited. With its Rajput design and expansive panoramas, the rooftop café is considerably more appealing than those at similar guesthouses, and the colonial-style lounge bar is also particularly inviting. The lovely pool is undersized, but the location along a quiet suburban street is a definite bonus.

Umaid Mahal – The Location

  • Address: C-20 B-2 Bihari Marg (road) in the inner-city suburb of Bani Park. 100m from the main road, Sawai Jai Singh Highway. Look for the turnoff at the KP Motors showroom.
  • Area: Nicely located along a quiet suburban street of middle-class housing.
  • How to Get There: From the airport (13km, 30-minute drive), take a pre-paid taxi or walk outside for an auto-rickshaw. From other important places: train terminal (1.2km, 14-minute walk), main bus station (2.1km, 10-minute drive), and nearest metro station (1.9km, 7-minute drive).

Umaid Mahal – The Basics

  • Guests: Mostly older couples who enjoy the quiet setting and historical ambience.
  • Views: With many rooms packed into a tight area, views are limited. Rooms facing the front overlook the quiet streets, while others face neighboring buildings. A handful offer balconies which are so small that they’re hardly worthwhile.
  • Private Pools/Jacuzzis: Certainly not expected – or provided – at this sort of inner-city guesthouse in Jaipur.
  • Extras: Daily newspaper delivered to each room. Free pickup from the train or bus stations.
  • Wi-Fi: Available free throughout for all guests.
  • How to Book: Booking.com will have the best rates.
  • Phone: +91 (0)141 220 1952
  • Email: [email protected]
  • Website: umaidmahal.com

Umaid Mahal – Amenities

  • Pool: Like many similar guesthouses, the pool is undersized and could get crowded very easily, but the setting is lovely and similar in style to a Turkish bath.
  • Spa & Fitness Center: None. Probably because there’s simply no space.
  • Other Facilities: Same-day laundry. Business Center. Travel advice/bookings.

Umaid Mahal – Food and Drink

  • Restaurants & Bar: The rooftop café with its terrace, intimate tables, and old-style design is very appealing. The opulent Taikhana restaurant in the basement lacks natural light – perhaps, best for breakfast only. Attached to the Taikhana, the Restro Bar, with its plush lounges and portraits of nobility, is reminiscent of British India.
  • Breakfast: Buffet breakfast is included in all rates.
  • Room Service: Limited and available from 7 am to 9 pm.

Umaid Mahal – Rooms

  • Room Types: Royal Deluxe Rooms.
  • Smoking Rooms: No smoking in the rooms or public areas, but permitted elsewhere.
  • Best Room: With only one category, rooms are fairly similar. The best are those furthest away from the lobby and pool areas.
  • For Families: Some rooms are sold as ‘triples’, while others can easily accommodate families of 4.

Umaid Mahal – Local Transport

  • Walking: The streets around the hotel are comparatively quiet, clean, and safe. The main road (only 100m from the hotel), along which are some limited facilities, is less attractive.
  • Public Transport: The Jaipur Metro is of limited use to tourists – at least until the 2 new stations in the Old City are completed in about 2021. The nearest station, Jaipur Metro Station, is 1.9km away (7-minute drive), and is attached to the train station.
  • Taxis & Auto-rickshaws: Taxis (unmetered) are poorly-marked and almost impossible to find without help from the hotel reception, and useless in the Old City anyway. Otherwise, Uber and Ola work effectively. However, just about anywhere, including the airport, is accessible by abundant auto-rickshaws. Some are electric and feature 2 small benches.

Umaid Mahal – What’s Nearby?

Restaurants & Bars

    Not a great choice within the immediate vicinity.

  • Shahpura House +91 (0)141 408 9100 – Lovely guesthouse 150m away on Devi Marg road. Offers the Sapphire Restaurant (stylish and airy, with bar attached and facing the lawns) and Rasa (fine dining and heavenly setting, but dinner only). 2-minute walk.

Otherwise, head southeast along the main road for 600m to the chaotic Collectorate Circle roundabout. Nearby are several options.

  • Hotel Jaipur Ashok +91 (0)141 220 4491 – Decent restaurant in the uniquely-designed hotel, but the setting is a bit dreary. Facing the roundabout. 9-minute walk (700m).
  • Café Coffee Day – One in a countrywide chain of cheerful cafés serving drinks and light meals. In a colorful office block, 200m down M.I. Road from the roundabout. 10-minute walk (800m).
  • Glocal Tadka – Basement-level vegetarian restaurant in Crystal Mall, 500m down M.I. Road from the roundabout. 11-minute walk (900m).
  • Icekraft Jaipur Banipark – Finest in the region by a mile for western meals such as burgers, waffles, and tacos. Ground floor of Crystal Mall, past Café Coffee Day. 11-minute walk (900m).

Shops

  • No shops along the street in front, but a few on the main road about 100m away. Otherwise, head to the Old City (see below).

Attractions

  • A frenetic maze of shops, markets, traffic, and more traffic, the Old City is both fascinating and frustrating to wander about. In the center, the City Palace (open daily from 9 am to 5.30 pm) is a marvelous example of Mughal and Rajasthani architecture, and is packed with courtyards, gardens, and museums. The nearest entrance to the Old City, Chandpole Gate, is about 3km (10-minute drive) from the guesthouse, while the City Palace is about 5km (20-minute drive). Both are best accessed by auto-rickshaw.
  • Jantar Mantar – UNESCO World Heritage site featuring the world’s largest stone sundial and 18 other instruments. 1 of 5 astronomical observatories built in north India in the 18th-century by Maharaj Sawaii Jai Singh II. Right opposite the City Palace. 21-minute drive (5km).
  • Hawa Mahal – This 18th-century sandstone summer palace features 953 windows which let in cool breezes during the summer, and allowed the Royalty to view the streets below without being seen. Visit early morning to watch the sun’s rays filter through the latticework. 22-minute drive (5km).
  • Amber Palace – UNESCO World Heritage site, also known as Amer Fort among locals, featuring 4 must-see courtyards (Shila Devi Temple, public audience hall, private audience hall, and Mirror Palace), and sound and light shows in the evening. Open from 9 am to 5 pm daily. 35-minute drive (12km).
  • Nahargarh Fort – Historic defense fort overlooking Jaipur. Houses the Jaipur Wax Museum by the entrance, and features a second, updated Sheesh Mahal (Mirror Palace). 50-minute drive (18km).

Umaid Mahal – The Hotel

The front door has been meticulously crafted.

Even the front door has been expertly crafted to retain the overall theme.

The lobby is lavishly decorated.

As expected, after entering the front door, the lobby area is also sumptuous.

Marble corridors and terraces lead to the rooms.

The design of the hotel is quite extraordinary. Access to rooms is along narrow corridors and terraces of marble which are lined with royal portraits.

The hotel is packed with exquisite paintings.

Courtyards and alcoves within the hotel are packed with paintings of old India and other exquisite reminders of the country’s past.

The beautifully renovated restaurant is located on the rooftop.

The restaurant on the hotel rooftop has also been beautifully renovated.

The rooftop offers vast suburban views.

The rooftop offers vast views of the suburban streets.

The luxurious Restro Bar features several royal portraits.

The plush Restro Bar in the hotel is also lined with portraits of former nobility.

The basement-level Taikhana restaurant houses the Restro Bar.

The Restro Bar is attached to the Taikhana restaurant in the hotel basement.

The opulent Taikhana restaurant serves breakfast and other meals.

Breakfast and other meals are served in the Taikhana restaurant. It is opulent but a little dark because it’s in the basement.

The smallish pool is like a Turkish bath.

The undersized pool is squeezed into a limited space, but it does boast an enticing setting reminiscent of a Turkish bath.

The rooms are all surprisingly spacious.

Considering the limited space throughout the hotel, rooms are surprisingly spacious.

Room walls are lines with fascinating old photos and prints.

Walls in every room are lined with fascinating prints and photos of old India.

Views from rooms are unremarkable despite the full-length windows.

All rooms feature full-length windows, but given the limited space and inner-city location, views are unremarkable.

Rooms come with old-fashioned furnishings and usual mod cons.

The furnishings in all rooms are suitably old-fashioned, but all the usual mod cons are also included.

Some rooms feature small balconies.

Some rooms feature balconies which are standing-room only and provide limited views.

The bright and airy Sapphire Restaurant is close by.

Only 150m from the Umaid Mahal is the bright and airy Sapphire Restaurant in the elegant Shahpura House hotel.

Hotel Jaipur Ashok is about half a kilometer from the hotel.

At the Collectorate Circle roundabout, some 600m from Umaid Mahal, is the restaurant in the Hotel Jaipur Ashok.

Café Coffee Day serves lights meals, coffee, and drinks.

Not far from the roundabout, Café Coffee Day is great for a drink or light meal.

Glocal Tadka restaurant is located in the Crystal Mall.

In Crystal Mall, 300m from the roundabout, is the vegetarian Glocal Tadka restaurant.

Icekraft serves tasty western food at Crystal Mall.

The most tempting place to eat in the area is Icekraft, also at Crystal Mall.

The Old City's outer gates are about 3km away.

The guesthouse is about 3km from the outer walls of the Old City.

The City Palace area offers the finest shopping.

The finest shopping is around the City Palace area.

The Old City markets are busy after dark.

The markets in the Old City are particularly robust after dark.

Jaipur features electric auto-rickshaws.

Unlike most cities in India, some auto-rickshaws in Jaipur are electric.

Read More

Umaid Bhawan Hotel in Jaipur, India

by Santorini Dave • Updated: June 20, 2019

Review of Umaid Bhawan in Jaipur, India.

Umaid Bhawan – Serene and opulent palace-style guesthouse packed with charisma.

Smaller, though no less palatial than rivals, the Umaid Bhawan is at the bottom of a quiet dead-end street, but within a short auto-rickshaw trip of the Old City. The opulence (which is a little overwhelming at times) continues throughout, from the marble lobby to the alcoves of antique furniture and courtyards with fountains. Like most guesthouses in Jaipur, space is limited, and there are too many rooms in a tight area, but most are fairly spacious inside. The main attractions, however, are certainly the personable service (often lacking in larger hotels), rooftop café with traditional design, and stunning pool.

Umaid Bhawan – The Location

  • Address: D1-2A, off Bihari Marg (road) at Bani Park, within an inner-city western suburb. Look for the turnoff to Bihari Marg at the KP Motors showroom along Sawai Jai Singh Highway. Then turn right at the Madhuban guesthouse.
  • Area: Nicely located on a dead-end street in a quiet suburb of middle-class housing. About 150m from the main road, which has some limited facilities.
  • How to Get There: From the airport (14km, 40-minute drive), take a pre-paid taxi or walk outside for an auto-rickshaw. From other important places: train terminal (2.5km, 9-minute drive), main bus station (2km, 9-minute drive), and nearest metro station (2km, 9-minute drive).

Umaid Bhawan – The Basics

  • Guests: Mostly older couples seeking a heritage-style hotel with more affordable rates.
  • Views: Better than most hotels of this size, but still hit-and-miss. Some rooms face a corridor/terrace which could be noisy at times, while others offer limited windows and no views of any significance.
  • Private Pools/Jacuzzis: Not expected – or provided – at this sort of inner-city hotel in Jaipur.
  • Wi-Fi: Free throughout for all guests.
  • How to Book: Booking.com will have the best rates.
  • Phone: +91 (0)141 231 6184
  • Email: [email protected]
  • Website: umaidbhawan.com

Umaid Bhawan – Amenities

  • Pool: Reasonably small, like other similar hotels/guesthouses, but the setting is gorgeous. Similar layout to a Turkish bath and flanked by colorful murals.
  • Spa & Fitness Center: None. Perhaps not really expected given the limited space.
  • Other Facilities: Clothing boutique/tailor. Puppet/dance shows. Business Center. Travel desk. Same-day laundry.

Umaid Bhawan – Food and Drink

  • Restaurant & Bar: The Fort View Restaurant on the rooftop provides a splendid terrace setting, with Rajput-inspired design and broad views. Some intimate tables along the edge. Meals could also be served at the stylish dining room indoors, but this is used mostly for breakfast. Also a bar, where the décor is at its most vivid.
  • Breakfast: Usually not included, but this may depend on how the room was booked.
  • Room Service: Limited service available during restaurants hours – 7 am to 9.30 pm.

Umaid Bhawan – Rooms

  • Room Types: Royal Deluxe Rooms • Royal Suites
  • Smoking Rooms: No smoking in the rooms or public areas, but permitted elsewhere.
  • Best Room: Royal Suites are more spacious, and the décor is even more ornate.
  • For Families: Not particularly well set up for families, but certainly space for 2 extra single beds in most suites.

Umaid Bhawan – Local Transport

  • Walking: Streets around the hotel are comparatively quiet, clean, and safe. Only 150m from the busy main road, which offers some limited facilities.
  • Public Transport: The Jaipur Metro is of limited use to tourists – at least until the 2 new stations in the Old City are completed in about 2021. The nearest station, Sindhi Camp, is 2km away (9-minute drive), and is attached to the bus station.
  • Taxis & Auto-rickshaws: Taxis (unmetered) are poorly-marked and almost impossible to find without help from the hotel reception, and useless in the Old City anyway. Otherwise, Uber and Ola work effectively. However, just about anywhere, including the airport, is accessible by abundant auto-rickshaws. Some are electric and feature 2 small benches.

Umaid Bhawan – What’s Nearby?

Restaurants & Bars

    Nothing much within the immediate vicinity, but 500m away via the main road is the chaotic Collectorate Circle roundabout, with a few options nearby.

  • Hotel Jaipur Ashok +91 (0)141 220 4491 – Decent restaurant in the uniquely-designed hotel, but the setting is a bit dreary. At the roundabout. 8-minute walk (650m).
  • Restaurant Cinnamon – In the Hamston Park Golden Manor hotel next door. Classy Indian dinner buffets and a la carte all day. 100m down Shiv Marg road from the roundabout. 8-minute walk (650m).
  • Hitchki Bar & Kitchen – Dingy bar in a basement below the Hamston Park hotel (see above), but decent meals and cheap beer. 8-minute walk (650m).
  • Café Coffee Day – One in a countrywide chain of cheerful cafés serving drinks and light meals. In a colorful office block, 200m down M.I. Road from the roundabout. 9-minute walk (750m).
  • Icekraft Jaipur Banipark – Finest in the region by a mile for western meals such as burgers, waffles, and tacos. Ground floor of Crystal Mall, past Café Coffee Day. 11-minute walk (900m).

Shops

  • No shops around the nearby streets, but a few along the main road about 150m away. Otherwise, head into the center of the Old City (see below).

Attractions

  • A frenetic maze of shops, markets, traffic, and more traffic, the Old City is both fascinating and frustrating to wander about. In the center, the City Palace (open daily from 9 am to 5.30 pm) is a marvelous example of Mughal and Rajasthani architecture, and is packed with courtyards, gardens, and museums. The nearest entrance to the Old City, Chandpole Gate, is about 2.5km (10-minute drive) from the guesthouse, while the City Palace is about 4.5km (19-minute drive). Both are best accessed by auto-rickshaw.
  • Jantar Mantar – UNESCO World Heritage site featuring the world’s largest stone sundial and 18 other instruments. 1 of 5 astronomical observatories built in north India in the 18th-century by Maharaj Sawaii Jai Singh II. Right opposite the City Palace. 20-minute drive (4.7km).
  • Hawa Mahal – This 18th-century sandstone summer palace features 953 windows which let in cool breezes during the summer, and allowed the Royalty to view the streets below without being seen. Visit early morning to watch the sun’s rays filter through the latticework. 21-minute drive (6km).
  • Amber Palace – UNESCO World Heritage site, also known as Amer Fort among locals, featuring 4 must-see courtyards (Shila Devi Temple, public audience hall, private audience hall, and Mirror Palace), and sound and light shows in the evening. Open from 9 am to 5 pm daily. 35-minute drive (12km).
  • Nahargarh Fort – Historic defense fort overlooking Jaipur. Houses the Jaipur Wax Museum by the entrance, and features a second, updated Sheesh Mahal (Mirror Palace). 50-minute drive (18km).

Umaid Bhawan – The Hotel

The hotel is located in a middle-class, inner-city suburb.

The hotel is pleasantly located at the end of a no-through road in a middle-class and inner-city suburb.

The former royal palace has been beautifully converted into a hotel.

The Umaid Bhawan is one of many heritage-style hotels in Jaipur that has been beautifully converted from a former royal palace or mansion of nobility.

Rooms in the 2 wings of the hotel offer no worthwhile views.

The hotel comprises 2 almost identical wings. Space is limited throughout, however, so most rooms have no worthwhile views.

The hotel has several alcoves with old-fashioned furniture.

Alcoves and niches all over the hotel are packed with old-fashioned furniture.

Courtyards offer relaxed seating in natural light.

Some courtyards provide natural light and particularly inviting places to relax.

Many rooms open to a terrace with seating.

Many rooms face a terrace with tables and chairs.

The garden is quite small.

With so many rooms squeezed into a tight space, the extent of the garden is quite limited.

The lobby has an elegant clothes boutique.

Near the lobby is an elegant clothes boutique.

The pool has a impressive design but lacks shade and lounge chairs.

The design of the pool is particularly impressive, but it lacks shade and lounge chairs because it also has been squeezed into a limited space.

The pool features attractive traditional murals on the walls.

The walls alongside the pool feature very attractive traditional murals.

The rooftop has been converted into a cafe.

Like most similar hotels, the rooftop has been converted into a café.

Fort View Restaurant offers intimate tables and great views.

The Fort View Restaurant on the hotel rooftop provides intimate tables and fascinating views.

Every floor features a different layout and theme.

Every level features a different style and layout, especially along the terraces that link each room.

The spacious rooms feature old-fashioned furnishings.

All rooms are spacious and packed with suitably old-fashioned furnishings.

The small windows in some rooms offer less natural light.

Some rooms can be a little dark because the undersized windows offer minimal natural light.

Suites feature large window-side sitting areas.

Suites feature sitting areas alongside the full-length windows.

The main road offers a few shops and cafes.

There are very few facilities around the streets close to the hotel, but it is only 150m from a main road which offers a few Indian-style shops and cafés.

Hotel Jaipur Ashok nearby has a decent restaurant.

At the roundabout about 500m from the hotel, the Hotel Jaipur Ashok has a decent restaurant.

Restaurant Cinnamon is a short stroll away.

Approximately 100m down Shiv Marg road from the roundabout is the excellent Restaurant Cinnamon in the Hamston Park Golden Manor hotel.

Hitchki Bar & Kitchen is located below Restaurant Cinnamon.

In a basement below Restaurant Cinnamon, the rather dingy Hitchki Bar & Kitchen serves cheap beer and tasty food.

Café Coffee Day is close to the roundabout.

The cheerful Café Coffee Day is about 200m from the roundabout.

Icekraft serves tasty western food at Crystal Mall.

The finest place to eat in the area, especially for western food, Icekraft is about 300m from the roundabout.

Jaipur features electric auto-rickshaws.

The walls of the Old City are about 2.5km from the hotel, best reached by auto-rickshaws, some of which are electric.

The City Palace area offers the finest shopping.

The best range of shops is around the City Palace deep within the Old City.

The Old City is vast and fascinating.

It could take days to fully explore the Old City.

Read More

Hotel Pulitzer in Barcelona, Spain

Home > Seattle > Barcelona Travel Guide > Hotel Pulitzer
by Santorini Dave • Updated: June 20, 2019

Affiliate Disclosure: Booking.com is my favorite website for booking hotels (and yes, it’s the site I always use when reserving a room). It’s safe, easy to use, and consistently has great rates. All links to Booking on my site are affiliate links meaning I earn a small fee when you book a hotel. (There is never any extra cost to you for using these links). I use some of these earnings for my monthly donation to the wonderful non-profit GiveDirectly. Read more about my charitable giving here.

See Also

Hotel Pulitzer – Barcelona

Super-central, design-conscious 4-star hotel just off Plaça Catalunya.

Hotel Pulitzer is effortlessly stylish, with Asian-inspired common areas, dotted with Korean and Chinese porcelain, and framed photographs by Spanish photographers throughout the building. All 91 rooms are done in neutral creams and charcoals, with dark-wood furnishings and flat-screen TVs; superior rooms come with Bose speakers and striking artwork. Bathrooms are tiled in aquamarine, with walk-in rain showers and Malin & Goetz products. Good lunchtime dining, live DJ sets on the roof terrace and excellent service are among Pulitzer’s attractions. Within easy reach of most of the city’s top attractions (either on foot or by public transport).

Hotel Pulitzer – Location

  • Address: Carrer de Bergara, 8
  • Nearest Metro/Train: Catalunya
  • Area: Located just off Plaça Catalunya, right at the top of La Rambla. Perfectly positioned for sightseeing on foot in L’Eixample, with Gaudi buildings within a 10-minute walk, as well as in Barri Gòtic and El Raval, both a 5-minute walk away. Walkable to La Ribera and Museu Picasso (16 minutes) and even La Sagrada Familia (35 minutes). Excellent transport connections. L’Eixample is a walkable grid of wide, modern streets, dotted with attractive modernist buildings. Numerous restaurants, high-end boutiques, and bars a short walk from the hotel.
  • How To Get There: Take the train from Barcelona International Airport to Barcelona-Sants train station, then the R6 light rail east for one stop to Catalunya. Hotel Pulitzer is a 2-minute walk away.
  • Handy To: Casa Batlló, La Rambla, La Pedrera.

Hotel Pulitzer – The Basics

  • Ages: The hotel’s clientele tends to be a mix of couples on a city vacation and business travelers, though families with babies can be accommodated. Pulitzer Terrace and the Lobby Bar are 18+.
  • View: Street views from the large windows in higher floor rooms; back-facing rooms overlook the garden and are quieter. Excellent city views from the rooftop terrace.
  • Private Pools/Jacuzzis: No private pools/Jacuzzis.
  • Laundry: In-room laundry service is available.
  • Parking: No parking is available.
  • Extras: Bicycles and electric scooters for rent from reception. The concierge can arrange tours of Barcelona according to guest interests.
  • Phone: +34 020-678-7111
  • Website: www.hotelpulitzer.es
  • Email: [email protected]
  • When To Book: Reserve 2-3 months in advance for the high season (mid-March to June, September to November), as well as the Christmas/ New Year period.
  • How To Book: Booking.com will have the best rates.

Hotel Pulitzer – Amenities

  • Pool: No pool.
  • Spa: No spa, but in-room beauty treatments and massages can be arranged on request.
  • Fitness Center: There is no fitness center on site, but the hotel has a special deal with the nearby Holmes Place fitness center; guests may attend for €16 per day.
  • For Disabled Guests: Two rooms are adapted for wheelchair users.
  • For Families: Baby cots are available and babysitting can be arranged on request. Older children can be accommodated in existing beds; there is no room for extra beds.

Hotel Pulitzer – Food and Drink

  • Restaurants: On the ground floor, plant-filled Greenhouse Restaurant (1-4pm) specializes in Mediterranean dishes made from locally sourced meats, catch of the day and seasonal vegetables. Elegant decor. $$
  • Lounge/Bar: Lobby Bar (7am-midnight) serves snacks during the day, as well as tea, coffee, and cocktails. You can have breakfast here, and take your drink out on the landscaped patio on warm days. Open from mid-May to late October, the chic rooftop Pulitzer Terrace (6pm to midnight) hosts DJ sets Wednesday to Friday and vermouth and DJ events on weekends from 4pm from April onwards.
  • Breakfast: Not complimentary. Extensive breakfast buffet available in the Lobby Bar from 7-11am; €16 per person.
  • Room Service: Available from Greenhouse Restaurant from 7am to midnight.

Hotel Pulitzer – Rooms

  • Room Types: Double • Double with Balcony • Superior Double • Suite • List of all rooms
  • Smoking Rooms: Hotel Pulitzer is 100% smoke-free.
  • Best Room: The Pulitzer Suite comes with a private outdoor terrace with sun loungers, fireplace, mini-library, and a comfortable seating area with Chesterfield sofa and armchair.
  • For Families: No family rooms available.

Hotel Pulitzer – Local Transport

  • Walking: Plaça Catalunya is a 1-minute walk away, La Rambla is a 5-minute stroll, and it takes 12-19 minutes to walk to Gaudi’s Casa Batlló and Casa Pedrera, respectively. There are several other worthwhile modernist buildings within easy walking distance. The surrounding streets are packed with cafes, refined restaurants, tapas bars, and mostly high-end fashion boutiques. Walkable to El Raval, Barri Gòtic, La Ribera and Gràcia neighborhoods.
  • Metro/Train: From the nearby Catalunya stop, the u-shaped Line 3 metro runs north to L’Eixample and also south towards the waterfront and then northwest past Poble Sec to the Barcelona-Sants train station. A more direct way to get to Barcelona-Sants is to take the R6 light rail line from Catalunya. Catalunya is also the jumping-off point for Tibidabo (funfair on top of a hill) via the L6 metro line.
  • Taxis, Uber, MyTaxi, Cabify: Taxis and Uber charge around €25-38 from the airport to the hotel. Within the city, Uber rides cost around half of taxi fares. It’s often quicker to walk, cycle or jump on the metro.

Hotel Pulitzer – What’s Nearby?

Recommended Nearby Tours

  • Runner Bean Tours – Highly recommended free walking tours of Barcelona; these include the popular walk around the Gothic Quarter and a Gaudi-themed walk.
  • Fat Tire Bike Tours – City bike tours of varying length, from Gaudi-themed ones that end at the Sagrada Familia to e-bike tours of Montjuïc.
  • Food Wine Tours – A range of foodie tours, from a tapas walking tour to Penedes and Sitges wine-tasting tours outside the city. Private options available.
  • gudBIKE – Free cycling tours of the city that depart from Liceu metro and take in Port Vell, Barceloneta, Sagrada Familia and other attractions. Daily at 10.30am in Spanish and at 3pm on Wednesdays and Saturdays in English. Start location: 8-minute walk.

Nearby Restaurants

  • Elisabets 1962 – Old-school, unpretentious neighborhood eatery, ideal for a filling menu del día (daily special), bocadillos (sandwiches) and classic tapas. 5-minute walk.
  • Dos Palillos – Michelin-starred Spanish-Asian fusion bar dining at its finest. Diners sit around the open kitchen and choose between the 17- and 20-course tasting menus. Courses range between bite-sized and tapas-sized and are a fun, creative exploration of Spanish, Thai, Japanese, Chinese, and Vietnamese flavors. Reservations essential. 5-minute walk.
  • Gats – Stylish fusion bistro with dishes that range from arroz de montaña (paella with botifarra sausage and asparagus) and tuna tataki to classic tapas. Short and sweet cava and wine menu, too. 6-minute walk.
  • Monvínic – This legendary wine emporium is attached to a sleek bistro with strong eco-credentials and menu items like beef sweetbreads with hazelnuts, line-caught squid stuffed with chickpeas, and chargrilled pigeon breast with rice. Reservations recommended. 7-minute walk.
  • Caravelle – Hipster eatery with a Mexican slant that serves craft beer to a laptop-toting crowd between mealtimes and a mix of tacos, smoked pork ribs, cheeseburgers, and ceviche bowls the rest of the time. 8-minute walk.
  • Shunka – A block north of La Catedral, this casual Japanese oldtimer is all minimalist decor and open kitchen, with the short but sweet menu divided into rice, seafood, meat, udon, sushi, sashimi, and maki. The 10-course surprise tasting menu is worth the splurge. 9-minute walk.
  • Patagonia Beef & Wine – This Argentinian steakhouse offers perfectly seared slabs of rump steak, skirt steak, tenderloin, sirloin, and rib-eye, coupled with a solid list of Argentinian and Spanish wines. 10-minute walk.
  • Tapas 24 – A gourmet spin put on classic tapas by superstar chef Carles Abellan. Feast on McFois burgers, bikinis (ham and cheese toasties with truffles), slow-cooked oxtail, and more. 10-minute walk.
  • Hawker 45 – Perch at the long red bar overlooking the open kitchen and dig into shared plates of Asian-inspired tapas: bulgogi ‘bombs’, laksa-tinged risotto, Indonesian lamb satay and more. 12-minute walk.
  • Mr Kao – Inside Hotel Claris, this elegant Shanghai-style fusion restaurant specializes in high-end dim sum (siu mai with langostines, jiao zi with pig’s trotters) and hearty mains like crispy-skinned Peking duck. 17-minute walk.

Nearby Cafes

  • Xurreria San Roman – This little café is among the best places in the city for crispy, piping-hot churros (deep-fried tubular doughnuts), served in paper cones. For best results, dip them in super-thick hot chocolate. 11-minute walk.
  • Satan’s Coffee Corner – Bright hipster café, popular with Barcelona’s younger crowd. Good Ethiopian coffee, plus interesting breakfast options, from tuna melts to chia pudding and Japanese-style omelettes. 12-minute walk.
  • Cereal Hunters – This Spanish chain of all-day breakfast cafes specializes in every type of cereal you can think of. The place to go if you’re missing your Lucky Charms, Captain Crunch, and Trix. 12-minute walk.

Nearby Bars and Breweries

  • Txapela – Classic Basque tapas bar right on the Rambla de Catalunya, with tiny, elaborate bocadillos (open sandwiches) and txakoli (Basque white wine) by the glass. 3-minute walk.
  • El Drapaire – With 14 rotating craft beers on tap, this wooden-beamed tavern sources brews from Spain, Germany, Belgium, the UK, and New England. The bar nibbles are as varied as the beer: stuffed bao buns, charcuterie platters, filled bagels, and nachos. 4-minute walk.
  • Boadas – Barcelona’s oldest cocktail bar has a timeless elegance about it, as well as professional, bow-tied bartenders who’ll mix you a Fantasia or a Dracula. 4-minute walk.
  • Beer’linale – Stone-walled bistro serving nicely presented Mediterranean fare, with over 180 bottled brews from around the world to wash it down with. 7-minute walk.
  • Kraftank Barcelona – Apart from its own five beers brewed onsite (three IPA, plus a red ale and a wheat beer), this gleaming steampunk brewpub sources guest beers from all over the world (Slovenia, Czech Republic, New England). Supporting cast of tapas and Angus beef burgers. 8-minute walk.
  • Casa Almirall – Dark, old-world bar that’s been around since 1860, with Modernista decor, good selection of quality beers, and absinthe done right. Very reasonable prices. 9-minute walk.
  • Kælderkold – This Danish-run, intimate craft “beertopia” has 15 regularly rotating beers on tap, with a particularly good selection of Scandinavian brews. There’s always pils and weizenbier in the mix, and you can also opt for a beer cocktail. 9-minute walk.
  • Garage Beer Co – One of Barcelona’s original craft beer breweries, with mismatched furniture and a tap room open daily for tastings of beers brewed onsite as well as guest beers from Catalunya and beyond. Good bar food, lively in the evenings. 11-minute walk.
  • Alcoba Azul – Tiny, candlelit bar with low ceilings and medieval stone walls. Squeeze in for good tapas – morcilla, tostas (open-topped sandwiches), patatas bravas – and plenty of wines by the glass. 12-minute walk.
  • Cervecería Catalana – This Eixample institution is good at any time of day – for morning coffees, plus Catalonian and Spanish beers the rest of the time, as well as an excellent array of classic tapas. 15-minute walk.

Nearby Shopping and Cool Shops

  • FNAC – The largest branch of the famed music, book, and electronics emporium in Barcelona. 3-minute walk.
  • FC Botiga Official Store – The L’Eixample branch of the official Barcelona FC football club. Get your Lionel Messi jerseys and other merchandise here. 3-minute walk.
  • El Corte Inglés – Popular Spanish department store chain on Plaça Catalunya with a gourmet food shop, supermarket, homewares, and electronics. 4-minute walk.
  • Altaïr – Vast travel bookstore with an excellent selection of guidebooks, maps, travel literature, and more. There’s a good café downstairs. 5-minute walk.
  • La Portorriqueña – Going strong for over a century, this shop sells coffee beans from around the world. 5-minute walk.
  • Pangea the Travel Store – This travel agency doubles as an inspired travel concept store, with nifty gadgets to take on the road with you and books on art, architecture, and more. 6-minute walk.
  • Torrons Vicens – Different varieties of turron (nougat) are the specialty, sold here since 1775. Handmade chocolates and other sweet treats also available. 7-minute walk.
  • Chök – All things chocolatey, as well as a huge array of doughnuts, macarons, cronuts and more. 7-minute walk.
  • Dr Bloom – Barcelona fashion label that releases a new collection of colorful, bold dresses, tops, and shawls every month. 8-minute walk.
  • Sala Parés – Barcelona’s oldest art gallery doubles as a shop selling many works from Catalan artists such as Magí Puig, Xavier Rodés and Núria Guinovart. 8-minute walk.
  • La Capell – Inside the Collegi de Arquitectes, this gift shop sells wonderful gadgets, educational toys, original, Barcelona-themed jewelry, and books on architecture and art. 9-minute walk.
  • Artesania Catalunya – Unique, locally made gifts, from thimbles resembling Gaudi’s chimneys and Salvador Dali-inspired sculpture to jewelry, wooden toys, and more. 11-minute walk.

Nearby Attractions

  • La Rambla – Stretching from the waterfront to Plaça Catalunya, La Rambla is Barcelona’s most famous pedestrian boulevard, overlooked by stately 19th century buildings and lined with restaurants, historic buildings, and souvenir stalls. It’s a great place for people-watching and acts as a boundary between Barri Gòtic to the east and El Raval to the west. 6-minute walk.
  • MACBA – Barcelona’s premier contemporary art museum is home to a permanent collection that focuses mostly on contemporary art movements in Catalunya and Spain since 1945. Temporary exhibitions range from sculpture and paintings by Catalan greats such as Antoni Tàpies or Joan Miró to installations by the likes of Francesc Torres. 8-minute walk.
  • La Catedral de Barcelona – Barcelona’s vast Gothic cathedral has pride of place in the heart of the Gothic Quarter. Apart from the richly decorated interior, it’s worth paying to take the elevator up to the roof for a bird’s eye view of medieval Barcelona. 10-minute walk.
  • Casa Batlló – Gaudi took inspiration from the sea when he redesigned this apartment building in the late 19th century, and the interior is every bit as fascinating as the mosaic-covered exterior. There are rippling walls, doorways, and window frames, shell-like ceiling patterns, and balconies that look either like toothy fish maws or carnival masks. Point an audioguide at a room, and the display screen comes alive with fish and other creatures of the deep, reflecting the architect’s vision. Don’t miss the indoor courtyard or tile-covered roof terrace. 12-minute walk.
  • Museu d’Història de Barcelona – The excellent Barcelona History Museum walks you through the excavated ruins of the original Roman settlement of Barcino, dating back to 12BC. Upstairs, the displays explore medieval Barcelona’s growth as an important Mediterranean trading port. 12-minute walk.
  • Palau Güell – Less well-known than Gaudi’s other buildings, this 1880s palace is a lively mix of architectural styles (neogothic, Art Nouveau, Islamic). It’s particularly worth a visit to check out the striking music room, the dome-like hall, and the magnificent mosaics on the roof. 12-minute walk.
  • Fundació Antoni Tàpies – This striking modernista building, designed in 1885 by Catalan architect Domènech i Montaner, holds an impressive collection of paintings by leading 20th century Catalan artist Antoni Tàpies. His art was inspired by Zen meditation, left-wing politics, incarnation in the Christian faith, and more. Temporary exhibitions also. 12-minute walk.
  • Museu Egipci – Excellent private museum full of artifacts from ancient Egypt, divided into thematic areas (mummification, the pharaoh, religious practices, etc). Check out the sarcophagi, gold jewelry, funereal implements, and more. Popular with school groups. 16-minute walk.
  • La Pedrera – One of Gaudi’s most famous works, La Pedrera is striking – from the rippling façade, inspired by the mountains of Montserrat, to the apartments, with their balconies of tangled metal. An elevator whisks you up to the jaw-dropping rooftop, lined with Gaudí’s undulating chimneys (night tours available). Great views of the city from the top. Book tickets online. 19-minute walk.
  • Casa de les Punxes – Built in 1903, this Gothic castle was designed by modernist architect Josep Puig i Cadafalch. Inside, exhibits tell the story of Sant Jordi, the patron saint of Catalonia who defeated a dragon. One of several interactive displays for kids lets them look for dragon elements in the design of the house. The exterior, with its spiky conical roofs, wrought-iron balconies, and beautiful stained-glass windows is beautiful. 24-minute walk.

Nearby Markets or Grocery Stores

  • Mercat de la Boquería – Barcelona’s most famous produce market – meat stalls with dangling legs of jamón and displays filled with botifarra (Catalan sausage) and chorizos, seafood stalls with heaped razor clams and shrimp, olive stalls offering dozens of different kinds of olives and fresh juice stalls. The tapas stalls that fringe the main market area make an excellent stop for a snack and a drink. 8-minute walk.
  • Mercadillo de la Plaça de Sant Josep – Every weekend, this little plaza in front of the church showcases the works of 15 or so local artists, some of whom are happy to draw a caricature of you. 9-minute walk.
  • Mercat Gòtic – This flea market has been taking place in front of La Catedral every Thursday for over 40 years. Browse the stalls for antiques, decorative art, vintage cameras, silverware, coins and more. 10-minute walk.

Read More

Pearl Palace Heritage Hotel in Jaipur, India

by Santorini Dave • Updated: June 20, 2019

Review of Pearl Palace Heritage in Jaipur, India.

Pearl Palace Heritage Hotel – Modern, yet regal, with unique rooms, but currently lacking some facilities.

This multi award-winning boutique hotel is very different. It’s new and thus not a proper ‘heritage’ or ‘palace’ hotel (despite the name), but is no less refined or captivating. And rooms are immensely attractive, individually named, and decorated according to different Indian themes. The brightly-tiled bathrooms are a standout, and most rooms feature sizeable balconies overlooking the quiet suburban street. Adding to the allure are the stairwells lined with old photos, hand-painted walls and ceilings, and almost Byzantine-style corridors. Some of the facilities expected are absent, however, but the management plans to add a gym, spa, pool, and proper restaurant in the future.

Pearl Palace Heritage Hotel – The Location

  • Address: 54 Gopal Bari, Lane 2, just off Ajmer Road, in the inner part of the city.
  • Area: Along a quiet suburban street of upper-class housing, with nothing much of interest nearby. About 200m from a major thoroughfare, Ajmer Road, which has some facilities.
  • How to Get There: From the airport (12km, 34-minute drive), take a pre-paid taxi or walk outside for an auto-rickshaw. The train terminal (1.5km, 6-minute drive), main bus station (2km, 12-minute drive), and metro station (350m, 5-minute walk) are also close by.

Pearl Palace Heritage Hotel – The Basics

  • Guests: The regal setting and high prices appeal mostly to older guests.
  • Views: Most rooms face the front street which is quiet, and with 5 levels and no other high-rises nearby, views are extensive.
  • Private Pools/Jacuzzis: Not really expected – or provided – at this sort of inner-city boutique-style hotel in Jaipur.
  • Wi-Fi: Free throughout for all guests.
  • How to Book: Booking.com will have the best rates.
  • Phone: +91 (0)141 237 5242
  • Email: [email protected]
  • Website: pearlpalaceheritage.com

Pearl Palace Heritage Hotel – Amenities

  • Pool: Surprisingly, there is no pool. The management plans to build one soon.
  • Spa & Fitness Center: None. The management also has plans to build both within the existing building in the immediate future.

Pearl Palace Heritage Hotel – Food and Drink

  • Restaurant & Bar: Small indoor café area sporting a vivid décor. Serves breakfast and limited menus at lunch and dinner. Not really a restaurant and a bit stuffy, so guests are urged by hotel staff to visit the rooftop restaurant in the sister hotel (see below).
  • Breakfast: Included in all rates.
  • Room Service: Available from 7 am to 11 pm, but menu is limited until there’s a proper restaurant on-site.

Pearl Palace Heritage Hotel – Rooms

  • Room Types: No room categories. All rooms are unique and individually named.
  • Smoking Rooms: No smoking on the premises.
  • Best Room: Impossible to say, with so many elegant choices. The best rooms are probably higher up, offering superior views.
  • For Families: Rooms are too compact to fit in an extra single bed. The Viceroy Premium Room can accommodate 4 people.

Pearl Palace Heritage Hotel – Local Transport

  • Walking: Nothing within walking distance of interest to guests, but the nearby streets are comparatively quiet, clean, and safe.
  • Public Transport: The Jaipur Metro is of limited use to tourists – at least until the 2 new stations in the Old City are completed in about 2021. The nearest station, Jaipur Junction, is only 350m away (5-minute walk), and is attached to the train terminal.
  • Taxis & Auto-rickshaws: Taxis (unmetered) are poorly-marked and almost impossible to find without help from the hotel reception, and useless in the Old City anyway. Otherwise, Uber and Ola work effectively. However, just about anywhere, including the airport, is accessible by abundant auto-rickshaws. Some are electric and feature 2 small benches.

Pearl Palace Heritage Hotel – What’s Nearby?

Restaurants & Bars

    Nothing within the immediate area, so guests are urged by hotel staff to visit the restaurant at the sister Pearl Palace Hotel nearby, for which a free shuttle service is also available. This restaurant, and 2 others directly opposite (listed below), offer rooftop settings with vast views, intimate lighting, competitive prices, and live music on most nights. All are open from about 7 am to 11 pm.

  • The Peacock Rooftop Restaurant – In the Pearl Palace Hotel. Remarkably extensive menu also features pizza, pasta, salad, and Chinese. Can get overcrowded at times, affecting service. Bookings recommended. 6-minute walk (500mm).
  • Chitrakatha – Quiet and laidback. More tempting selection of Indian cuisine than the other 2. 6-minute walk (500m).
  • Kalyan Rooftop Restaurant – The cheapest and least crowded, with TV sports and comfortable furniture. Also, a lovely restaurant inside with a delightful wooden Rajasthani design. 6-minute walk (500m).

Shops

  • No shops along the suburban streets nearby, but some on Ajmer Road about 200m away. Otherwise, head to the Old City (see below).

Attractions

  • A frenetic maze of shops, markets, traffic, and more traffic, the Old City is both fascinating and frustrating to wander about. In the center, the City Palace (open daily from 9 am to 5.30 pm) is a marvelous example of Mughal and Rajasthani architecture, and is packed with courtyards, gardens, and museums. The nearest entrance to the Old City, Chandpole Gate, is 2.5km (12-minute drive) from the hotel, while the City Palace is about 4km (13-minute drive) away.
  • Jantar Mantar – UNESCO World Heritage site featuring the world’s largest stone sundial and 18 other instruments. 1 of 5 astronomical observatories built in north India in the 18th-century by Maharaj Sawaii Jai Singh II. Right opposite the City Palace. 14-minute drive (4.4km).
  • Hawa Mahal – This 18th-century sandstone summer palace features 953 windows which let in cool breezes during the summer, and allowed the Royalty to view the streets below without being seen. Visit early morning to watch the sun’s rays filter through the latticework. 14-minute drive (4.7km).
  • Amber Palace – UNESCO World Heritage site, also known as Amer Fort among locals, featuring 4 must-see courtyards (Shila Devi Temple, public audience hall, private audience hall, and Mirror Palace), and sound and light shows in the evening. Open from 9 am to 5 pm daily. 30-minute drive (13km).
  • Nahargarh Fort – Historic defense fort overlooking Jaipur. Houses the Jaipur Wax Museum by the entrance, and features a second, updated Sheesh Mahal (Mirror Palace). 45-minute drive (19km).

Pearl Palace Heritage Hotel – The Hotel

The newly-built hotel resembles a historic palace.

Even though it’s very similar in many ways to other historic palace-style hotels in Jaipur, this majestic hotel was only built a few years ago.

The hand-painted walls and ceilings and the craftsmanship all across the hotel is fascinating.

Walls and ceilings are hand-painted, and guests can spend hours admiring the craftsmanship all over the hotel.

The stairwells too feature lots of old photos.

Even the stairwells are crammed with old photos, adding enormously to the appeal.

Guests can enjoy breakfast and pre-ordered meals in a special dining area.

As of 2019, there was no dedicated restaurant on-site. Guests can enjoy breakfast in this modest but brightly-decorated area, and other meals can be pre-ordered and eaten there, too.

The dining area is decorated with carvings and paintings.

Guests can admire the decorations while waiting for food and drinks at the in-house café area.

The corridors leading to the rooms are exraordinary.

Extraordinary corridors – different on each floor – lead to an assortment of rooms.

Each room comes with a unique Indian theme and decor.

Every room is individually decorated with separate themes from across India.

The colorful rooms are individually named.

Each room is independently named and vividly decorated.

The bathrooms are also very attractive.

Even the bathrooms are quite striking.

The Varanasi-themed room is different and very bright.

The room with a décor based on Varanasi is a little lurid and completely different to any other room in the hotel.

The mural over the bed in the Varanasi-themed room is hand made.

The wall above the bed In the Varanasi-themed room is molded by hand to resemble the sacred river city.

All the bathrooms in the hotel are unique as well.

Remarkably, not only is every room unique, but so is each bathroom in the hotel.

Some rooms are smaller and/or brash.

Some rooms are a little smaller and more ostentatious than others.

Guests are encouraged to dine at The Peacock Rooftop Restaurant nearby.

Until a restaurant is built on-site, guests are encouraged to dine at The Peacock Rooftop Restaurant at the sister Pearl Palace Hotel, 650m away.

The Peacock has some romantic corners.

Sections of The Peacock Rooftop Restaurant are very romantic.

The Peacock hosts live music every night.

Live music is usually held each evening at The Peacock.

The Chitrakatha hotel has a delightful rooftop cafe.

On the other side of the road from The Peacock, the Chitrakatha is quieter and more laidback.

Hotel Kalyan next door has a rooftop cafe and another indoors.

Also directly opposite The Peacock is another classy rooftop restaurant at Hotel Kalyan. Thus, there are 3 similar restaurants only meters apart to choose from.

The Old City's walls are about 2.5km away.

The walls of the Old City are about 2.5km from the Pearl Palace Heritage Hotel.

The vibrant Old City is vast and chaotic.

The Old City is fascinating and crowded, and could take days to explore fully.

The Old City vegetable market is open till all the produce is sold.

The vegetable market in the Old City closes when all the produce has been sold.

Jaipur features electric auto-rickshaws.

Unlike many cities in India, some auto-rickshaws in Jaipur are electric and feature small bench seats.

Read More

Tara Niwas Hotel in Jaipur, India

by Santorini Dave • Updated: June 20, 2019

Review of Tara Niwas in Jaipur, India.

Tara Niwas – Quaint, friendly, and terrific value, with more serenity and tranquility than most.

One in a bunch of associated guesthouses renovated from mansions in Jaipur, the Tara Niwas is along a peaceful suburban street and far from the chaos elsewhere. Rooms could be updated a little, but are still spacious, with the added bonus of windows on the back offering more light than those facing the corridor/terrace. Other reasons to stay here are the useful amenities for travelers, e.g. inexpensive café on-site, book exchange, free computer use, same-day laundry, money-changing at realistic rates, and travel advice and bookings. There’s also a petite garden with rabbits, and unlike rival guesthouses, a few places to eat, drink, and shop are within a short walk.

Tara Niwas – The Location

  • Address: 22/B Shiv Marg road, which runs off the major Collectorate Circle roundabout. In the inner-city area of Bani Park.
  • Area: Along a comparatively pleasant street in a suburb of middle-class housing. Some facilities near the chaotic roundabout, 200m to the southwest.
  • How to Get There: From the airport (14km, 35-minute drive), take a pre-paid taxi or walk outside for an auto-rickshaw. The train terminal (2km, 8-minute drive), main bus station (1.6km, 7-minute drive), and nearest metro station (1.5km, 6-minute drive) are all close by.

Tara Niwas – The Basics

  • Guests: Caters to all sorts of travelers, including families, but most seem to be independent foreign tourists looking for a quiet mid-range guesthouse.
  • Views: Like most inner-city guesthouses, views are hit-and-miss. While most rooms face the corridor/terrace, they also (unlike others) have windows at the back which look out to nearby buildings.
  • Private Pools/Jacuzzis: Certainly not expected – or provided – at this sort of inner-city guesthouse in Jaipur.
  • Extras: Daily newspaper delivered to each room.
  • Wi-Fi: Free throughout for all guests, but slower further from the lobby.
  • How to Book: Booking.com will have the best rates.
  • Phone: +91 (0)141 220 6823
  • Email: [email protected]
  • Website: aryaniwas.com

Tara Niwas – Amenities

  • Pool, Spa, & Fitness Center: Not expected or provided.
  • Other Facilities: Computer station. Same-day laundry. Fixed-price souvenir counter. Money-changing. Travel desk. Book exchange.

Tara Niwas – Food and Drink

  • Restaurant: Quaint café at ground level. Limited but changing menu of vegetarian meals, with hearty serves at low prices. Try the thalis (set meals in steel plates). A few western choices too, and home-baked cakes and breads. No bar.
  • Breakfast: Not included, but only a minimal extra cost.
  • Room Service: Limited service available from 6.30 am to 11 pm.

Tara Niwas – Rooms

  • Room Types: Economy Rooms • Superior Rooms • Deluxe Rooms • Family Deluxe Rooms
  • Smoking Rooms: May be permitted in some rooms, so check with the management.
  • Best Room: Rooms are fairly similar, with the size being the major difference. The Deluxe Rooms are slightly larger and more likely to be quieter.
  • For Families: An extra single bed can be placed in most rooms, while the Family Deluxe Rooms can comfortably accommodate groups of 4.

Tara Niwas – Local Transport

  • Walking: Not much of interest within walking distance, except near the Collectorate Circle roundabout, about 200m down the road. The backstreets are pleasant; not so, the Collectorate Circle with its chaotic traffic.
  • Public Transport: The Jaipur Metro is of limited use to tourists – at least until the 2 new stations in the Old City are completed in about 2021. The nearest station to the guesthouse is Sindhi Camp, 1.5km away (6-minute drive), and is attached to the bus station.
  • Taxis & Auto-rickshaws: Taxis (unmetered) are poorly-marked and almost impossible to find without help from the hotel reception, and useless in the Old City anyway. Otherwise, Uber and Ola work effectively. However, just about anywhere, including the airport, is accessible by abundant auto-rickshaws. Some are electric and feature 2 small benches.

Tara Niwas – What’s Nearby?

Restaurants & Bars

  • Restaurant Cinnamon – In the Hamston Park Golden Manor hotel next door. Classy Indian dinner buffets and a la carte all day. 1-minute walk (90m).
  • Hitchki Bar & Kitchen – Dingy bar in a basement below the Hamston Park hotel (see above), but decent meals and cheap beer. 1-minute walk (90m).
  • Hotel Jaipur Ashok +91 (0)141 220 4491 – Decent restaurant in the uniquely-designed hotel, but the setting is a bit dreary. At Collectorate Circle roundabout 200m down the street. 3-minute walk (230m).
  • Café Coffee Day – One in a countrywide chain of cheerful cafés serving drinks and light meals. In a colorful office block, 200m down M.I. Road from the roundabout. 6-minute walk (500m).
  • Glocal Tadka – Basement-level vegetarian restaurant in Crystal Mall, 500m down M.I. Road from the roundabout. 9-minute walk (700m).
  • Icekraft Jaipur Banipark – Best in the area by a mile for western meals such as burgers, waffles, and tacos. Ground floor of Crystal Mall. 9-minute walk (700m).

Shops

  • A few shops along M.I. Road, such as the Crystal Mall, which is 700m from the guesthouse, via the Collectorate Circle roundabout. 9-minute walk.

Attractions

  • A frenetic maze of shops, markets, traffic, and more traffic, the Old City is both fascinating and frustrating to wander about. In the center, the City Palace (open daily from 9 am to 5.30 pm) is a marvelous example of Mughal and Rajasthani architecture, and is packed with courtyards, gardens, and museums. The nearest entrance to the Old City, Chandpole Gate, is about 2km (6-minute drive) from the guesthouse, while the City Palace is about 4km (15-minute drive). Both are best accessed by auto-rickshaw.
  • Jantar Mantar – UNESCO World Heritage site featuring the world’s largest stone sundial and 18 other instruments. 1 of 5 astronomical observatories built in north India in the 18th-century by Maharaj Sawaii Jai Singh II. Right opposite the City Palace. 16-minute drive (4km).
  • Hawa Mahal – This 18th-century sandstone summer palace features 953 windows which let in cool breezes during the summer, and allowed the Royalty to view the streets below without being seen. Visit early morning to watch the sun’s rays filter through the latticework. 17-minute drive (4.5km).
  • Amber Palace – UNESCO World Heritage site, also known as Amer Fort among locals, featuring 4 must-see courtyards (Shila Devi Temple, public audience hall, private audience hall, and Mirror Palace), and sound and light shows in the evening. Open from 9 am to 5 pm daily. 32-minute drive (11km).
  • Nahargarh Fort – Historic defense fort overlooking Jaipur. Houses the Jaipur Wax Museum by the entrance, and features a second, updated Sheesh Mahal (Mirror Palace). 45-minute drive (17km).

Tara Niwas – The Hotel

The guesthouse is located in a middle-class suburb.

The guesthouse is along a quiet suburban street of middle-class housing in the inner city.

The owners sell bonsai plants on the property.

The converted mansion features likable touches throughout, such as a stall selling bonsai plants set up by the owners.

The small garden has a rabbit hutch.

Between the street and reception area is a small garden.

The on-site cafe serves large servings of vegetarian food.

The café on the ground floor serves hearty portions of vegetarian food (Indian and Western) at low prices.

The cafe serves delicious thalis.

The thalis are particularly filling and delicious at the guesthouse café.

The guesthouse even has a decent souvenir counter.

A small counter at the Tara Niwas offers quality souvenirs at admirably competitive prices.

The corridors feature lots of traditional arts and crafts.

The guesthouse corridors are lined with traditional arts and crafts.

The guesthouse is decorated nicely with traditional works.

There are numerous appealing decorations along the corridors and terraces.

Rooms feature windows in the front and the back.

Most rooms feature windows facing the corridor/terrace, but unlike rivals, rooms also have 1 or 2 windows at the back. This provides more light and even some breeze.

Each level has a relaxation area for guests.

An area at the front on each level provides a charming place for any guest to relax.

The spacious rooms are colorfully decorated.

Rooms are reasonably spacious, with a bright décor and colorful prints on the walls.

All rooms come with small sitting areas.

Each room features a small sitting area.

The street in front is quiet, clean, and safe.

The street in front of the guesthouse is comparatively quiet, clean, and safe.

The classy Restaurant Cinnamon serves an Indian menu.

In the Hamston Park Golden Manor hotel next to the guesthouse, the classy Restaurant Cinnamon serves Indian cuisine, including dinner buffets. The Hitchki Bar & Kitchen is in a basement below.

Hotel Jaipur Ashok's restaurant serves Indian food.

Another option for mostly Indian food is the restaurant at Hotel Jaipur Ashok at the Collectorate Circle roundabout, just 200m from the guesthouse.

M.I. Road has a few shopping options.

M.I. Road, which branches out from Collectorate Circle, has a few shopping areas.

Café Coffee Day serves light meals and drinks.

Within the colorful building in the previous photo, Café Coffee Day serves drinks and light meals all day and late into the evening.

Crystal Mall is the main shopping center within walking distance of the guesthouse.

Crystal Mall, the main (but still modest) shopping center along this part of M.I. Road, is about 700m from the guesthouse.

Glocal Tadka restaurant is located in the Crystal Mall.

In a basement level of Crystal Mall is the Glocal Tadka vegetarian restaurant.

Icekraft serves tasty western food at Crystal Mall.

On the ground floor of Crystal Mall, Icekraft offers a range of tasty western food.

The Old City's walls are about 2km away.

The walls of the Old City are about 2km by auto-rickshaw from the guesthouse.

The Old City is very vast and chaotic.

The Old City is vast and chaotic and could take days to explore fully.

The Old City has several markets.

There are several markets within the Old City.

Auto-rickshaws are the optimum mode to explore the Old City.

The most convenient way to reach and travel around the Old City is by auto-rickshaw.

Read More

Om Niwas Suite Hotel in Jaipur, India

by Santorini Dave • Updated: June 20, 2019

Review of Om Niwas Suite Hotel in Jaipur, India.

Om Niwas Suite Hotel – Suites with kitchens in a tranquil and charming guesthouse, but (like many) it’s a little isolated.

Ideal for small groups or families, the palatial-looking and eco-friendly Om Niwas offers a range of suites, all with separate living areas and decent-sized kitchens, and some with dining tables, too. A few feature tiny balconies which provide limited views (expected within the inner city), but all have plenty of windows offering more light than rival guesthouses. The overall vibe is welcoming, with an almost colonial-era charm, evidenced by the wicker chairs on the lawns and Mughal-inspired rooftop sitting area with an English-style garden. Like many newly renovated guesthouses, it’s in a quiet suburban street (a definite bonus), but almost nothing is within walking distance, so look forward to enjoying the auto-rickshaw rides.

Om Niwas Suite Hotel – The Location

  • Address: E-23 Kaushalya Path, Durga Marg, Bani Park, in the inner-city. Look for the signed turnoff opposite the Military Hospital along Ram Mandir Road (all road signs in this area are in Hindi).
  • Area: Along a comparatively pleasant and peaceful street in a suburb of middle-class housing within the more upmarket Bani Park area, but nothing of interest within walking distance.
  • How to Get There: From the airport (13km, 32-minute drive), take a pre-paid taxi or walk outside for an auto-rickshaw. The train terminal (1.4km, 5-minute drive), main bus station (2.5km, 9-minute drive), and nearest metro station (1.8km, 7-minute drive) are also close by.

Om Niwas Suite Hotel – The Basics

  • Guests: Mostly older western couples who enjoy the tranquil setting, but ideal for families as well.
  • Views: Unlike many guesthouses, suites have 2 sets of windows: 1 facing the corridor/terrace and the other overlooking the streets and buildings behind. A few rooms at the front overlook the small lawn and main street (which is quiet).
  • Kitchen: Unusually, all suites feature fairly large kitchens.
  • Private Pools/Jacuzzis: Certainly not expected – or provided – at this sort of inner-city guesthouse in Jaipur.
  • Wi-Fi: Included free throughout for all guests.
  • How to Book: Booking.com will have the best rates.
  • Phone: +91 (0)141 220 5352
  • Email: [email protected]
  • Website: aryaniwas.com

Om Niwas Suite Hotel – Amenities

  • Pool, Spa & Fitness Center: Not expected or provided.
  • 
Other Facilities: Travel advice/bookings. Same-day laundry.

Om Niwas Suite Hotel – Food and Drink

  • Restaurant: The Amaltas Restaurant specializes in traditional (vegetarian) Rajasthani cuisine, but also serves European and Chinese food. Meals can be enjoyed in the basement area or on the rooftop. Delicious home-baked items such as cakes and bread, too. No bar on-site.
  • Breakfast: Included in all rates.
  • Room Service: Limited service available from 7 am to 8 pm.

Om Niwas Suite Hotel – Rooms

  • Room Types: Studio Suites • Luxury Suites • Family Suites • Superior Luxury Suites
  • Smoking Rooms: Some rooms in all categories allow smoking.
  • Best Room: Superior Luxury Suites feature separate living/dining areas, as well as kitchens, and balconies with garden views.
  • For Families: One of very few in Jaipur to offer suites for families. Each Family Suite is spacious, with 2 bedrooms and bathrooms, a kitchen, and a separate living area, for up to 5 people.

Om Niwas Suite Hotel – Local Transport

  • Walking: Nothing much of interest around the streets just outside, but more pleasant for walking than most areas.
  • Public Transport: The Jaipur Metro is of limited use to tourists – at least until the 2 new stations in the Old City are completed in about 2021. The nearest station, Jaipur Junction, is 1.8km away (7-minute drive), and is attached to the train terminal.
  • Taxis & Auto-rickshaws: Taxis (unmetered) are poorly-marked and almost impossible to find without help from the hotel reception, and useless in the Old City anyway. Otherwise, Uber and Ola work effectively. However, just about anywhere, including the airport, is accessible by abundant auto-rickshaws. Some are electric and feature 2 small benches.

Om Niwas Suite Hotel – What’s Nearby?

Restaurants & Bars

    Nothing nearby, so go to Collectorate Circle, a roundabout with insane traffic about 1km away. (Best by auto-rickshaw.)

  • Hotel Jaipur Ashok +91 (0)141 220 4491 – Decent restaurant in the uniquely-designed hotel, but the setting is a bit dreary. 4-minute drive (1.2km).
  • Restaurant Cinnamon – In the Hamston Park Golden Manor hotel, next to the sister guesthouse, Tara Niwas. Classy Indian dinner buffets and a la carte all day. 250m down Shiv Marg road from the roundabout. 4-minute drive (1.2km).
  • Hitchki Bar & Kitchen – Dingy bar in a basement below the Hamston Park hotel (see above), but decent meals and cheap beer. 4-minute drive (1.2km).
  • Glocal Tadka – Basement-level vegetarian restaurant in Crystal Mall, 500m down M.I. Road from the roundabout. 4-minute drive (1.3km).
  • Icekraft Jaipur Banipark – Best in the area by a mile for western meals such as burgers, waffles, and tacos. Ground floor of Crystal Mall. 4-minute drive (1.3km).
  • Café Coffee Day – One in a countrywide chain of cheerful cafés serving drinks and light meals. In a colorful office block, 200m down M.I. Road from the roundabout. 5-minute drive (1.4km).

Shops

  • No shops within walking distance, so hop on an auto-rickshaw and head to M.I. Road, where there are a few modest options such as the Crystal Mall. 4-minute drive (1.3km).

Attractions

  • A frenetic maze of shops, markets, traffic, and more traffic, the Old City is both fascinating and frustrating to wander about. In the center, the City Palace (open daily from 9 am to 5.30 pm) is a marvelous example of Mughal and Rajasthani architecture, and is packed with courtyards, gardens, and museums. The nearest entrance to the Old City, Chandpole Gate, is about 3km (9-minute drive) from the guesthouse, while the City Palace is about 5km (18-minute drive). Both are best accessed by auto-rickshaw.
  • Jantar Mantar – UNESCO World Heritage site featuring the world’s largest stone sundial and 18 other instruments. 1 of 5 astronomical observatories built in north India in the 18th-century by Maharaj Sawaii Jai Singh II. Right opposite the City Palace. 18-minute drive (5km).
  • Hawa Mahal – This 18th-century sandstone summer palace features 953 windows which let in cool breezes during the summer, and allowed the Royalty to view the streets below without being seen. Visit early morning to watch the sun’s rays filter through the latticework. 19-minute drive (6km).
  • Amber Palace – UNESCO World Heritage site, also known as Amer Fort among locals, featuring 4 must-see courtyards (Shila Devi Temple, public audience hall, private audience hall, and Mirror Palace), and sound and light shows in the evening. Open from 9 am to 5 pm daily. 32-minute drive (13km).
  • Nahargarh Fort – Historic defense fort overlooking Jaipur. Houses the Jaipur Wax Museum by the entrance, and features a second, updated Sheesh Mahal (Mirror Palace). 45-minute drive (19km).

Om Niwas Suite Hotel – The Hotel

The guesthouse is located in a quiet middle class housing suburb.

The guesthouse is along a quiet suburban street of middle-class housing and is isolated, so there are no facilities within walking distance.

The guesthouse has a small garden by the entrance.

Between the street and main building is a small but shady garden.

The guesthouse lobby is modest.

The lobby is modest, as expected of a boutique-style guesthouse.

Amaltas Restaurant on-site serves vegetarian meals from India, China, and Europe.

Within the Om Niwas, the Amaltas Restaurant provides a range of vegetarian meals from India, China, and Europe.

The restaurant's top floor seating is a better place to relax and enjoy a meal.

A better place to relax – and perhaps enjoy a meal – is the restaurant area on the top floor of the guesthouse.

The pleasant rooftop has Mughal-inspired features and lots of flowers.

The guesthouse rooftop is particularly pleasant, with Mughal-inspired features and plenty of flowers.

The guesthouse offers views of the backstreets.

Most views from the guesthouse are of the backstreets among this quieter part of Jaipur.

The spacious suites are decorated well.

Suites are spacious and well decorated, if a little understated in the standard versions.

Suites offer windows facing the back as well as the front.

Unlike most rival guesthouses, the suites offer windows to the back as well as facing the corridor/terrace.

Some suites come with tiny standing-room only balconies.

Some suites feature balconies that are barely standing-room only, so views are very limited, as expected of an inner-city guesthouse like this.

The higher floor suites are more spacious but views are blocked by trees.

Some suites on the higher floors are more spacious and the outlook from the windows is of trees rather than buildings.

The larger suites' living areas are well-furnished and have plenty of windows.

The separate living areas in the larger suites are pleasantly furnished. Plenty of windows offer light and a feeling of space.

All suites come with large kitchens.

Each suite features a kitchen – some quite substantial.

Some suites come with dining tables.

And some suites also provide dining tables.

The classy Restaurant Cinnamon serves an Indian menu.

In the Hamston Park Golden Manor hotel (next to the sister guesthouse, Tara Niwas), the stylish Restaurant Cinnamon serves Indian cuisine. The Hitchki Bar & Kitchen is in a dingy basement below.

Hotel Jaipur Ashok offers mostly Indian food about 1km from the guesthouse.

Another option for mostly Indian food is the restaurant in the uniquely-designed Hotel Jaipur Ashok, at the roundabout, just 1km from Om Niwas.

M.I. Road about 1km away has a few shopping options.

M.I. Road, which branches out from the Collectorate Circle roundabout 1km from the guesthouse, has a few shopping areas.

Café Coffee Day serves light meals and drinks.

Within the colorful building in the previous photo, Café Coffee Day serves drinks and light meals all day and late into the evening.

Crystal Mall is a modest shopping center within walking distance of the guesthouse.

Crystal Mall, the main – but still fairly modest – shopping center along this part of M.I. Road is about 1.2km from the guesthouse.

Glocal Tadka vegetarian restaurant is located in the Crystal Mall.

In the basement level of Crystal Mall is the Glocal Tadka vegetarian restaurant.

Icekraft serves tasty western food at Crystal Mall.

On the ground floor of Crystal Mall, Icekraft offers a range of tasty western food.

The Old City's walls are about 3km away.

The walls of the Old City are about 3km from the guesthouse.

The vast and chaotic Old City requires time to explore.

Allow plenty of time to fully explore the Old City.

The Old City markets are busy after dark.

The markets in the Old City are particularly vibrant after dusk.

Jaipur features electric auto-rickshaws.

Unlike most Indian cities, some auto-rickshaws in Jaipur are electric and offer 2 bench seats.

Read More

Hotel Shahpura House in Jaipur, India

by Santorini Dave • Updated: June 20, 2019

Review of Shahpura House in Jaipur, India.

Shahpura House – Very stylish heritage-style guesthouse, but overbuilt.

Along a pleasant residential street, the traditional charm is immediately evident from the moustachioed doorman to the marble lobby. The outdoor courtyards featuring fountains, antique furniture-filled indoor niches, and quadrangle patios with chandeliers add enormously to the appeal. Every wall is either lined with historical prints or is hand-painted with stunning motifs, and all rooms are lovingly decorated with suitable old-world elegance. The only downside is the limited space throughout the hotel. While there is a lawn, pool, boutique, restaurant/bar, and terraces for guests to relax on, rooms are cramped together, with many offering small windows that look directly across a courtyard to another room. Rooms facing the ground floor terrace are even noisier and less secluded.

Shahpura House – The Location

  • Address: D-257 Devi Marg (road) in the inner-city and upmarket suburb of Bani Park.
  • Area: Along a quiet street of middle-class housing. About 200m from a major road, Sawai Jai Singh Highway, along which there are some limited facilities.
  • How to Get There: From the airport (13km, 31-minute drive), take a pre-paid taxi or walk outside for an auto-rickshaw. Other important places: train terminal (1.7km, 6-minute drive), main bus station (2.1km, 9-minute drive), and nearest metro station (2.1km, 8-minute drive).

Shahpura House – The Basics

  • Guests: Mostly couples and small groups of all ages.
  • Views: Views are limited. The more expensive suites feature porches facing the quiet street, but many rooms and suites face each other. The undersized windows (expected with the historical design) provide minimal natural light, so rooms can be dark.
  • Private Pools/Jacuzzis: Not expected – or provided – at this sort of inner-city hotel in Jaipur.
  • Wi-Fi: Available free throughout for all guests.
  • How to Book: Booking.com will have the best rates.
  • Phone: +91 (0)141 408 9100
  • Email: [email protected]
  • Website: shahpura.com

Shahpura House – Amenities

  • Pool: Despite the limited space throughout the hotel, the pool is quite large. Lined with lounge chairs, it faces the lawn.
  • Spa & Fitness Center: None. Probably because there is simply no space.
  • Other Facilities: Clothing boutique.

Shahpura House – Food and Drink

  • Restaurants & Bars: Sapphire Restaurant – Faces the pool and lawn (with 2 horse buggies). Buffet breakfast and cuisine from India, China, and Europe for lunch and dinner. The colonial-style bar is dominated by a snooker table and sells imported wines, beers, and spirits. • Rasa – Divine outdoor terrace setting or cool air-conditioning indoor. Silver service and fine dining, specializing in Rajasthani cuisine. Dinner only.
  • Breakfast: Not included.
  • Room Service: Available from 7 am to 11 pm.

Shahpura House – Rooms

  • Room Types: Deluxe Rooms • Suites • Royal Suites • Shahpura Suites
  • Smoking Rooms: No smoking on the premises.
  • Best Room: Located in a separate part of the hotel, the Shahpura Suites are very luxurious. Finest street views and spacious living areas.
  • For Families: Not well set up for families. Ask the management about squeezing in an extra single bed. Otherwise, book 2 adjoining rooms (which won’t have connecting doors).

Shahpura House – Local Transport

  • Walking: The streets around the hotel are comparatively quiet, clean, and safe. Less so is the main road, only 200m away, where there are some limited facilities.
  • Public Transport: The Jaipur Metro is of limited use to tourists – at least until the 2 new stations in the Old City are completed in about 2021. The nearest station, Sindhi Camp, is 2.1km away (8-minute drive), and is attached to the bus station.
  • Taxis & Auto-rickshaws: Taxis (unmetered) are poorly-marked and almost impossible to find without help from the hotel reception, and useless in the Old City anyway. Otherwise, Uber and Ola work effectively. However, just about anywhere, including the airport, is accessible by abundant auto-rickshaws. Some are electric and feature 2 small benches.

Shahpura House – What’s Nearby?

Restaurants & Bars

    Not a great choice nearby.

  • Umaid Mahal – Very opulent hotel offering the Taikhana Restaurant in the basement, with an attached bar. The rooftop café is more appealing. Head southeast along the street and turn left. 2-minute walk (130m).

Or head southeast along the street from the hotel gates for 600m to the chaotic Collectorate Circle roundabout. Nearby are several options.

  • Hotel Jaipur Ashok +91 (0)141 220 4491 – Decent restaurant in the uniquely-designed hotel, but the setting is a bit dreary. Facing the roundabout. 10-minute walk (800m).
  • Café Coffee Day – One in a countrywide chain of cheerful cafés serving drinks and light meals. In a colorful office block, 200m down M.I. Road from the roundabout. 10-minute walk (800m).
  • Icekraft Jaipur Banipark – Finest in the area by a mile for western meals such as burgers, waffles, and tacos. Ground floor of Crystal Mall, past Café Coffee Day. 11-minute walk (900m).
  • Glocal Tadka – Basement-level vegetarian restaurant in Crystal Mall, 300m down M.I. Road from the roundabout. 11-minute walk (900m).

Shops

  • A few shops along the main road, 200m from the hotel, and around the Collectorate Circle roundabout, but nothing to get excited about. So head to the Old City (see below).

Attractions

  • A frenetic maze of shops, markets, traffic, and more traffic, the Old City is both fascinating and frustrating to wander about. In the center, the City Palace (open daily from 9 am to 5.30 pm) is a marvelous example of Mughal and Rajasthani architecture, and is packed with courtyards, gardens, and museums. The nearest entrance to the Old City, Chandpole Gate, is about 3km (9-minute drive) from the guesthouse, while the City Palace is about 5km (18-minute drive). Both are best accessed by auto-rickshaw.
  • Jantar Mantar – UNESCO World Heritage site featuring the world’s largest stone sundial and 18 other instruments. 1 of 5 astronomical observatories built in north India in the 18th-century by Maharaj Sawaii Jai Singh II. Right opposite the City Palace. 20-minute drive (5km).
  • Hawa Mahal – This 18th-century sandstone summer palace features 953 windows which let in cool breezes during the summer, and allowed the Royalty to view the streets below without being seen. Visit early morning to watch the sun’s rays filter through the latticework. 20-minute drive (6km).
  • Amber Palace – UNESCO World Heritage site, also known as Amer Fort among locals, featuring 4 must-see courtyards (Shila Devi Temple, public audience hall, private audience hall, and Mirror Palace), and sound and light shows in the evening. Open from 9 am to 5 pm daily. 35-minute drive (12km).
  • Nahargarh Fort – Historic defense fort overlooking Jaipur. Houses the Jaipur Wax Museum by the entrance, and features a second, updated Sheesh Mahal (Mirror Palace). 50-minute drive (18km).

Shahpura House – The Hotel

The hotel is located along a quiet side street.

The hotel is along a quiet side-street, distant from any significant traffic noise.

The imposing doorman is actually very welcoming.

The doorman is actually a lot more welcoming than his ‘mean smile’ might indicate.

The terrace near the entrance is shady and welcoming.

The shady terrace between the main door and lobby is indicative of the style throughout the hotel.

The lobby hosts the portraits of a former king and queen of Rajasthan.

Pride of place at the lobby are portraits of a former king and queen of Rajasthan.

There is a lot of old-style furniture around the hotel.

Many niches and alcoves around the hotel are packed with old-style furniture.

There are many historic Indian works all over the hotel.

There are so many reminders of India and its history all over the hotel.

The cramped design means some rooms face others.

One downside is the tendency to squeeze in too many rooms within a limited space. So some rooms have small windows that directly face another.

Some ground floor rooms can get noisy and offer no views.

Some rooms face a ground floor corridor which can get noisy. These rooms also offer minimal natural light and zero views.

Huge inner courtyards are decorated with ornate rugs and old paintings.

Despite rooms being squeezed into tight areas, there are huge inner courtyards furnished with ornate rugs and lined with old paintings and prints.

The hotel has a fantastic collection of art and furnishings.

Guests could easily spend hours wandering around the corridors admiring the art and furnishings.

Some courtyard walls feature wonderful hand paintings.

Some walls around the courtyards are wonderfully hand-painted.

The rooftop offers views and lots of breeze.

The hotel rooftop offers a nice breeze and street views.

There are terraces on each level for guests to relax.

Each level has a terrace on which guests can relax.

The hotel even has a chic boutique.

Between the lobby and ground-level restaurant is a chic boutique.

The bar is colonial-style and has a snooker table.

The colonial-style bar at the hotel features a snooker table.

Guests can have breakfast and a la carte meals at the Sapphire Restaurant.

The Sapphire Restaurant serves breakfast to guests and a la carte meals all day.

The Sapphire Restaurant offers tables with lawn and pool views.

Intimate tables at the Sapphire Restaurant overlook the lawn and pool.

The hotel lawn showcases 2 old horse buggies.

At the back of the front lawn are 2 old horse buggies.

Most rooms feature 4-poster beds.

A prominent feature of most rooms are the 4-poster beds.

Some suites feature living areas with old furniture and new mod cons.

Some suites have separate living areas with mod cons and old-fashioned furniture.

The hotel porch has lots of antiques and old India memorabilia.

Some larger suites also feature porches filled with antiques and other reminders of old India.

The hotel is located in a quiet, middle-class residential area.

The hotel is in a middle-class residential area with little of interest to guests, but a main road, 200m away, does offer a few Indian-style shops and cafés.

Taikhana Restaurant at the opulent Umaid Mahal hotel is worth a visit.

In the basement of the opulent Umaid Mahal hotel is the Taikhana Restaurant. The café on the rooftop of that hotel is more appealing.

Hotel Jaipur Ashok and its restaurant are within walking distance of the hotel.

At the Collectorate Circle roundabout, some 600m from the Shahpura, is the restaurant in the Hotel Jaipur Ashok.

Café Coffee Day serves light meals and drinks.

Not far from the roundabout, Café Coffee Day is a cheery place for a drink or light meal.

Glocal Tadka restaurant is located in the Crystal Mall.

In Crystal Mall, 300m from the roundabout, is the vegetarian Glocal Tadka restaurant.

Icekraft serves tasty western food at Crystal Mall.

The most tempting place to eat in the area is Icekraft, also at Crystal Mall.

The Old City's walls are about 3km away.

The hotel is about 3km from the walls of the Old City.

The fascinating Old City can take days to explore.

The Old City is fascinating, but exploring it fully could take days.

Auto-rickshaws are the best means to explore the Old City.

The best way to reach and get around the Old City from the hotel is by auto-rickshaw.

Read More

The Best Barcelona Restaurants

by Santorini Dave • Updated: June 20, 2019

See Also

Food Tour & Cooking Class

The Market Tour and Private Cooking Class is excellent (but expensive). Highly recommended!

The 19 Best Places to Eat in Barcelona

1. Tickets Bar – $$$$

Best places to eat in Barcelona
The hottest ticket in Barcelona. If you’re a serious foodie, you’ve probably heard of the now-closed el Bulli, known at the time as the world’s best restaurant, helmed by Catalan superstar chef, Ferran Adrià. Tickets Bar is owned by Ferran and his brother Albert and it’s basically a circus-themed tapas bar with the most creative tapas you’re ever likely to taste – a globally-inspired world tour in a few dishes. It’s a casual, informal, buzzy place, and the only tapas bar in town that you have to book online two months in advance. Food-wise you have two choices: order tapas a la carte, or decide how much you want to spend and have the waiter choose for you. Dishes are fun and playful: expect dishes like liquid olives (a nod to Ferran Adrià’s molecular gastronomy), wafer-thin ‘pizza’ with buffalo mozzarella, a ‘Nordic landscape’ of cured beef with vinegar snow and sweet pickles, Peruvian and Japanese oysters, and suckling pig mini-sandwiches. Fun, busy, memorable.
Avinguda del Paraŀlel, 164
• Nearest transport: Poble Sec metro
Reviews

2. Viana Barcelona – $$-$$$

Best gourmet tapas in Barcelona
Gourmet tapas bar. Hidden down a tiny street in Barri Gòtic, Viana is a winning combination of vintage decor, internationally-inspired tapas, carefully chosen wines, and original cocktails. This place has only been open a couple of years and has already firmly established itself as one of Barcelona’s most popular tapas bars – a beacon of light in a sea of mediocre places that spill off La Rambla. The succinct ‘eclectic Mediterranean’ menu is divided into tapas, mains, and ‘happy ending’ desserts. Grab a few small dishes (burrata with guacamole, Galician octopus in tempura, prawn and white fish ceviche) to share or get here early for a proper sit-down meal of slow-cooked beef cheeks and cod in blood orange sauce, and don’t miss the ‘threesome of chocolate’. Of the house cocktails, the signature blackberry mojito is a winner. Friendly service, flawless presentation, busy, friendly, fun vibe. Book a table in advance; bar seating for walk-in customers.
Carrer del Vidre, 7
• Nearest transport: Liceu metro
Reviews

3. Restaurante Lasarte – $$$$

Michelin star dining in Barcelona
Barcelona’s first 3-Michelin-star restaurant. Run by Martín Berasategui, one of Spain’s most decorated chefs, Lasarte earned its third Michelin star in 2017. There are two tasting menus to choose from; the 7-course (185 Euros) and the splurge-y 11-course (210 Euros) with additional wine pairings, as well as an a la carte menu. The decor is quite understated – all blond wood and flowing lines – leaving the focus squarely on the food. And what food! The menu changes seasonally, but you can expect the likes of sea bass with mantis shrimp broth and clam mayo, Wagyu carpaccio with frozen mozzarella powder, charcoal-grilled pigeon with olive and galangal and almond and salt praline with rum ice cream. Everything is beautifully presented and the flavors are amazing. The meal is a once-in-your-lifetime treat. Smart-casual. Advance reservations essential.
Carrer de Mallorca, 259
• Nearest transport: Passeig de Gràcia
Reviews

4. 7 Portes – $$$$

Best seafood restaurant in Barcelona
Old-school seafood restaurant. On the edge of Barceloneta, this elegant restaurant is all white linen service and bow-tied waiters. It’s also one of the very few arrocerías (rice restaurants) in Barcelona where you can get portions of paella, fideuà (paella-like vermicelli dish), and other rice dishes for one person; in most places it has to be for a minimum of two. Apart from rice dishes, 7 Portes specializes in dishes like chicken roasted with mushrooms and Moscatel wine, overflowing platters of steamed seafood, and grilled catch of the day. Picasso, poet Federico García Lorca, and Orson Welles have all once dined here; look for the little plaques with their names. Lots of dishes designed for sharing and excellent value.
Passeig d’Isabel II, 14
• Nearest transport: Barceloneta metro
Reviews

5. Pinotxo Bar – $$-$$$

Best food in Barcelona's La Boquería market
Tapas bar in the busy La Boquería market. If you’ve walked up and down La Rambla, Barcelona’s most popular pedestrian thoroughfare, you will have seen crowds streaming into the city’s most popular fresh produce market. On the fringes of the market there’s a number of tapas counter bars, and Bar Pinotxo is the best of the lot. It’s been going strong for over 70 years, while attracting some of Barcelona’s top chefs, along with a throng of tourists and locals in the know. You won’t find a menu here; just look at the platters along the counter and ask the bow-tied owner, Juanito Bayen, about the daily specials. These may include truita de carfoxes (artichoke omelette), cigrons (garbanzo beans with cilantro), botifarra (grilled Catalan sausage), bacallà amb Samfaina (codfish with ratatouille) and cap i pota (veal head and leg). Get here early, as some of the specials run out, and be prepared to queue. Busy, fun, quick meal. Cash only.
Carrer la Rambla, 89
• Nearest transport: Liceu metro
Reviews

6. Big Al’s American Kitchen – $$-$$$

Best hamburgers in Barcelona
The Barcelona branch of the award-winning hamburger joint. Several years ago, Big Al’s first opened in the beach town of Sitges and now they’ve brought their phenomenally successful American burgers to Barcelona. There are 20 different burgers to choose from, from Fat Elvis (bacon, caramelized banana, peanut butter) and spicy jalapeño (habanero alioli, caramelized jalapeños, cheese) to the ultimate burger challenge: The Widowmaker (6 patties, pulled pork, quadruple-decker bun) – eat it in less than 30 minutes and you get your picture on the Wall of Fame. Burgers aside, you can also get pulled pork sandwiches, hot wings, brisket sliders, nachos, and quesadillas, along with a good selection of craft beers. Inexpensive, popular with young locals and families.
Carrer de Corsega, 178
• Nearest transport: Hospital Clínic metro
Reviews

7. Celerí – $$-$$$

Best vegetarian restaurant in Barcelona
Excellent organic and vegetarian food. What to do as an accomplished chef working at a 3-star Michelin restaurant after it closes? If you’re Xavier Pellicer, you open an organic and (largely) vegetarian restaurant. Celerí, a cellar restaurant where the menu revolves around vegetables, is a change of pace and style for Pellicer. Leeks, beans, potatoes, cauliflower, eggplant, squash, and various tubers are each presented in a vegan dish, a vegetarian dish, and an omnivore dish, with a few wild fish and ecologically raised meat dishes as well. Veggie standouts include the beetroot gazpacho, roasted wild mushrooms in garlic oil, squash blossoms on red pesto, and heirloom tomatoes with mozzarella foam, capers, and basil. Omnivores shouldn’t miss the shrimp carpaccio. Sheet glass separates diners from the open kitchen, and each dish is presented by the chef who cooked it. The wines are mostly organic and biodynamic and there’s a nice, happy buzz to this casual place as it fills up with couples and groups of friends. Reservations recommended.
Passatge Marimon, 5
• Nearest transport: Diagonal or Hospital Clínic metro
Reviews

8. Dos Palillos – $$$$

Spanish Asian fusion cuisine in Barcelona
Michelin-starred Spanish-Asian fusion. Run by Albert Raurich (former protégé of Catalan superstar chef Ferran Adrià) and his Japanese wife and sommelier, Tamae Imachi, this is bar dining at its finest. There are two seatings per night with diners given the choice between two tasting menus: the 17-course or the 20-course. The courses range between bite-sized and tapas-sized and are a fun, creative exploration of Spanish, Thai, Japanese, Chinese and Vietnamese flavors. Bar seating surrounds the open kitchen, so you can watch the chefs at work. Expect dishes like sea urchin on crispy rice, cuttlefish tartar with fish roe, toro (fatty tuna) in ponzu sauce, smoked soya ice cream with edamame, and tender, melt-in-your-mouth pork belly, cooked for 16 hours. The presentation is beautiful and Dos Palillos is great for a romantic night out or for dinner with friends. Reservations essential.
Carrer d’Elisabets, 9
• Nearest transport: Liceu or Universitat metro
Reviews

9. Moments – $$$$

Best Catalan cuisine restaurant in Barcelona
Michelin-starred, contemporary interpretations of traditional Catalan cuisine. Located inside the Mandarin Oriental hotel, Moments is run by Carme Ruscalleda, the celebrated Catalan chef already responsible for two of the world’s best restaurants, and her son Raül Balam. The mother-and-son team uses seasonal, local ingredients to playfully reimagine traditional Catalan dishes with contemporary twists and international touches. Expect the likes of venison with black garlic and artichokes, rice with prawn tails, wild sea bass with eggplant, and Duroc pork with daikon and pistachio. The 14-course tasting menu (171 Euros) is a special treat, with each dish inspired by a classic movie (Titanic, Wizard of Oz, Breakfast at Tiffany’s). The extensive wine list features many rare vintages. The sleek dining room with its gold-leafed ceiling adds to the refined atmosphere. To watch the food-as-art being created, request to sit at the chef’s table, overlooking the open kitchen. Tranquil, romantic, ideal for a special occasion. Reservations essential.
Passeig de Gràcia, 38-40
Reviews

10. Alkimia – $$$$

Romantic date restaurant in Barcelona
Seasonal, creative, Michelin-starred dining. Run by highly respected local chef, Jordi Vilà, Alkimia’s been part of the Barcelona dining scene for 15 years. The concept is simple: all dishes are created from locally-sourced, seasonal ingredients, with surprising textures and clean, unpretentious flavors. Visitors are ushered into a striking dining room, with a frescoed ceiling and open kitchen. Choose between a la carte and two tasting menus (11/13 courses for 98/155 Euros), then sit back as seamless service delivers dish after beautiful dish. These may include shrimp tartar, cuttlefish stuffed with botifarra negra (Catalan sausage), baby squid with the first peas of the season, lamb and squash ravioli, leek and porcini mushroom tart, and a red fruit gazpacho with galangal (ginger-like root). There’s an interesting wine list to boot and the homemade bread is excellent. Relaxed atmosphere, romantic, friendly. Reservations.
Ronda Sant Antoni, 41
• Nearest transport: Universitat or Sant Antoni metro
Reviews

11. Roca Moo – $$$$

Chaeap Michelin-starred dining in Barcelona
Fun, affordable Michelin-star dining. The Roca brothers, responsible for El Celler de Can Roca (twice the World’s Best Restaurant), run a more casual operation inside Hotel Omm. The dining area is a bright and stylish space, reachable by passing through the lobby. The place is dominated by the open kitchen behind the bar, where you can watch young chefs preparing your dishes. There’s an affordable 4-course lunch tasting menu (49 Euros) on weekdays, offering a taster of the restaurant’s creative, imaginatively-presented dishes, as well as a Classics tasting menu (80 Euros), but for the best of Roca Moo, splurge on the Joan Roca tasting menu (110 Euros). The menu changes, according to what’s seasonally available, but dishes may include pigeon carpaccio, raw mackerel, seabass with asparagus and lemon peel, lamb shoulder with black garlic, and chocolate with bitter orange. Fun, friendly, romantic. Reservations highly recommended.
Carrer de Roselló, 265
• Nearest transport: Diagonal metro
Reviews

12. Irati Taverna Basca – $$-$$$

Best Basque tapas bar in Barcelona
Lively Basque tapas bar. Though this little tapas bar is right in the Barri Gòtic, only a block from La Rambla, it manages to avoid being a tourist trap and serves fantastic tapas. Like with most typical Basque bars, there’s a spread of around three dozen different pintxos (tiny open-faced sandwiches) on the counter. Just help yourself and the staff with add up how much you owe based on the number of toothpicks on your plate. But the pintxos aren’t the main draw here. For the best experience, grab one of the tables at the back and order a few hot dishes from the menu, from the seasonal artichokes stewed with cod and clams, and baby calamari sautéed with green peas to grilled beef with tempranillo wine sauce. Wash it all down with a spritzy Txacolí (young Basque white wine). No reservations. Buzzy, friendly, fun vibe. The bar gets really crowded in the evenings, so get here early.
Calle Cardenal Casanas, 17
• Nearest transport: Liceu metro
Reviews

13. Totora – $$-$$$

Best Peruvian restaurant in Barcelona
Elegant Peruvian cuisine. Until recently, Totora has been one of the outposts of the culinary empire of Gastón Acurio, Peru’s superstar chef largely responsible for popularizing Peruvian food worldwide. But though the management has changed, the menu remains the same and this is still the best upscale Peruvian restaurant in Barcelona. All the classics are present and properly-prepared, from arroz con mariscos (seafood-fried rice), causa limeña (cold potato entrée with chicken, seafood, avocado and olives), ají de gallina (chicken in a spicy, nutty sauce) to arroz con pato (rice dish with slow-cooked duck) and anticuchos de corazon (beef heart skewers). But it’s seafood that’s the specialty here, and the ceviches in particular: the seabass ceviche, served with sweet potato, giant corn, and a shot of leche de tigre (a spicy mix of fish and lime juices with Peruvian chillies) is the classic one, but the ceviche de mariscos (seafood ceviche) and ceviche de atún (tuna ceviche) are just as good. Then there are also the tiraditos (sashimi-style raw tuna, salmon and mackerel) served in a spicy sauce. There are plenty of dishes meant for sharing and a full array of Peruvian drinks, from chicha morada (purple corn drink) and Inca Cola (the ubiquitous, electric-yellow soda) to pisco sour – Peru’s national cocktail. Popular for romantic meals and group gatherings.
Carrer de Corsega, 235
• Nearest transport: Diagonal or Hospital Clínic metro
Reviews

14. Hoja Santa – $$$$

Best Mexican food in Barcelona
High-end, traditional Mexican food with Catalan touches. Named after an herb widely used in Mexican cooking, this contemporary restaurant is a joint effort between Mexican chef Paco Méndez and renowned Catalan chef Albert Adrià. Picture this: you’re sitting in a bright, cheerful dining room, completely devoid of clichéd sombreros, cacti or Mexican flags, while dish after dish appears, presented in clever and unusual ways. Sea urchin toast on a leaf. Cockles with pineapple aguachile in a shell. A charred artichoke served on round rocks. Cochinita pibil (Yucatan-style, slow-cooked pork) and avocado with black garlic mole – all beautifully plated on slate and stone. Flavors are authentic, service is friendly and prompt, and the signature margaritas are a wonderful accompaniment. Choose between a la carte or the seasonal tasting menu. Bustling, friendly, informal. Reservations.
Avenida Mistral, 54-56
• Nearest transport: Poble Sec or Plaça Espanya metro
Reviews

15. Shunka – $$-$$$

Best Japanese restaurant in Barcelona
Stylish yet unpretentious Japanese restaurant. Though its flashier, Michelin-starred sister restaurant, Koy Shunka, is just around the corner, many locals prefer this place when it comes to quality Japanese food. Shunka is a block away from Barcelona’s cathedral and inside it’s all minimalist decor, blond wood fixtures, bustling waiters, and seating at the bar for solo diners. The short but sweet menu is divided into rice, seafood, meat, udon, sushi, sashimi and maki, with an emphasis on quality ingredients and clean flavours. Standout dishes include white fish carpaccio with straw mushrooms, tuna, salmon and avocado combo maki, and anything with toro (fatty tuna belly). The 10-course surprise tasting menu is well worth the splurge at 65 Euros. Casual, relaxed, friendly vibe. Great value for money.
Carrer dels Sagristans, 5
• Nearest transport: Jaume I
Reviews

16. La Bella Napoli – $$-$$$

Best pizza in Barcelona
The best pizza in Barcelona. With its red-and-white checked tablecloths and Neapolitan waiters, this is one of the best restaurants in Barcelona for authentic Italian food, and for pizza in particular. The thin and crispy pizzas that come out of their wood-fired oven are among the best you’ll find outside Italy. On the extensive pizza menu, our favorites include the Sofia Loren (with rucola, provolone cheese, and fresh tomatoes) and the Quattro Stagioni (with mozzarella, jam, artichokes, salami, and olives). There’s a good selection of risottos, fresh pastas, and house-made gnocchi and specialties include papardelle with lobster. The wine list includes tipples from all over Italy and the service is prompt. Popular with families. Reservations are a good idea for dinner and on weekends.
Carrer de Margarit, 14
• Nearest transport: Paral.lel metro
Reviews

17. Semproniana – $$-$$$

Best French-Catalan fusion in Barcelona
Fun French-Catalan fusion dishes. Colorful and whimsical, with mismatched furniture, Semproniana is a lunchtime favorite with local foodies of all ages. Most dishes come in three sizes: small, medium and extra large, and they are local chef Ada Parellada’s playful takes on French and Catalan classics. I recommend getting a number of small dishes to share. Highlights include shrimp tartare, arroz del venere con queso Maó (black rice topped with soft cheese from Menorca), cod with rosemary and honey, pasta tubes stuffed with butifarra negra (Catalan black pudding), and grilled vegetable and couscous stack. The three-course weekday lunch is a steal at 16 Euros. Buzzy, fun, casual.
Carrer del Rossello, 148
• Nearest transport: Hospital Clínic metro
Reviews

18. Bubó – $$-$$$

Best desserts in Barcelona
Excellent patisserie and cake shop located in Born, the maze of tiny streets just north of Barceloneta. Ten years ago, Bubó was a humble patisserie. Now it has branches in Japan and Abu Dhabi, and this original outlet is one of the best places in town for coffee, gourmet pastries (croissants, pan au chocolat), and beautiful desserts. Choose from elaborate cheesecakes and chocolate creations to macarons with uniquely local flavors, such as crema Catalana. This branch of Bubó has branched out into savory foods as well – There’s an attached café and restaurant that serves decent tapas (grilled shrimp, pork skewers, patatas bravas) and more substantial mains, such as rabo de toro (oxtail) and burgers. Great all-rounder, good for people-watching.
Caputxes, 10
• Nearest transport: Barceloneta metro
Reviews

19. Xurrería Sagrada Familia – $

Best churros and chocolate in Barcelona
A great spot for the quintessential Spanish snack of chocolate con churros. In an enviable location, right across the street from Barcelona’s most famous landmark, this family-run churrería (churros café) has been attracting locals and visitors since the 1950s. Chocolate con churros to the Spanish is like tea and cake to the British, and this little place does it really well. The drinking chocolate is appropriately thick and decadent, and the churros (deep-fried, tubular donuts) come in five different versions: original, filled with Nutella, dulce de leche, or vanilla cream, and covered in chocolate. Nice little terrace. Good for a quick bite.
Placa de la Sagrada Familia
• Nearest transport: Sagrada Família metro
Reviews

Read More

The Best Hotels in Milan

Home > Italy > Milan Best Hotels
by Santorini Dave • Updated: June 20, 2019

Affiliate Disclosure: Booking.com is my favorite website for booking hotels (and yes, it’s the site I always use when reserving a room). It’s safe, easy to use, and consistently has great rates. All hotel links on my site are affiliate links meaning I earn a small fee when you book a hotel. (There is never any extra cost to you for using these links). I use some of these earnings for my monthly donation to the wonderful non-profit GiveDirectly. Read more about my charitable giving here.

The 15 Best Luxury Hotels in Milan

1. Grand Hotel et de Milan

Historic Milan Verdi hotel
Built in 1863, the refined and histoic Grand Hotel in Milan is ideally situated near the city’s best shopping district. Roman columns dot the lobby (there’s an authentic piece of Roman-era wall in the hotel’s basement), and the rooms feature period furnishings, parquet floors, and marble bathrooms. The elegant Verdi Suite was the composer’s home for 27 years, writing masterpiece operas that would later be performed at the La Scala theater next door. There’s a formal restaurant along with the more casual (but still exceptional) greenhouse-like Caruso Room, along with a sophisticated bar located in the main lobby. Conveniently located next to Montenapoleone Metro Station.
Hotel phone: +39 02 723141

2. Armani Hotel Milano

Luxury fashion hotel in Milan
Private and exclusive, the ultra-modern Armani is a true design hotel, located in the stylish Via Montenapoleone fashion district within the city center. Giorgio Armani himself approved every element of the hotel (the building itself is even shaped like an “A”), and the alignment with his chic brand makes for an impeccably classy experience. Rooms are tasteful and spacious, with huge bathrooms that feature Armani toiletries and rainfall showers. Signature suites are set on two levels, with incorporated kitchens. There’s a superb spa with partner saunas, as well as Michelin-starred dining on-site; you’ll find the Emporio Armani store and the celebrated Nobu restaurant just downstairs.
Hotel phone: +39 02 8883 8888

3. Château Monfort

Fun and whimsical Milan luxury hotel
Milan’s high-end hotels can be a little stuffy, but the Chateau Momfort is anything but. Located a little off the beaten path but still within a short walk of the Duomo, the décor features whimsical fairy-tale themes, with a cotton candy lobby that looks like a Hollywood movie set. Opera-themed rooms and suites patterned after favorites like The Nutcracker and Madame Butterfly feature quirky furnishings, hardwood floors, and generous bathrooms. There’s a better than decent restaurant with a huge library/wine cellar, and the on-site spa has a salt water pool, sauna, and Turkish bath.
Hotel phone: +39 02 776761

4. Bulgari Hotel Milano

Luxury Milan hotel near the Brera District
Bulgari lives up to its ultra-luxe branding with this contemporary-designed luxury hotel. The entrance is off a quiet, secluded street lined with Renaissance-era architecture in the center of the city, near the Brera district and overlooking the Botanical Gardens. Once inside, guests enjoy a private garden restaurant, afternoon tea, and a beautiful indoor lap pool/spa area, among many other amenities. The hotel features Premium and Deluxe rooms that can sleep 4 (and most have views as well), with several Deluxe rooms that can connect to a Junior suite for larger families.
Hotel phone: +39 02 805 8051

5. Magna Pars Suites Milano

Luxury Milan hotel in Navigli District
Full of wood, windows, and natural light, the sleek and modern all-suite Magna Pars is located in the festive Navigli area, which is also Milan’s design district. This five-star hotel is situated within a converted perfume factory (they still make perfume onsite), and each suite here has its own signature scent. They vary in size; the Executive Family Suite sleeps 4, while the Grand Presidential Suite has a bar and a small private library. Outdoor spaces include an open-air courtyard and rooftop deck. There’s an exceptional on-site restaurant, a gym, and a wellness spa with a Turkish bath. Located a bit outside of the main tourist area, the hotel offers complimentary shuttle service to central Milan.
Hotel phone: +39 02 833 8371

6. Mandarin Oriental Milan

Luxury Milan hotel near La Scala
Combining Italian design with clean, modern-styled luxury and a subtle Asian influence, the Mandarin excels with impeccable service. Located on a quiet street that is still quite close to the city center and just a block or two from the famous Teatro alla Scala opera house, the hotel is situated within a quartet of beautifully restored 18th century buildings. Guest rooms are quite spacious with huge, marble-finished bathrooms; suites are similarly lavish, and some have private terraces. There’s also an opulent indoor pool/spa, a celebrity-stylist hair salon, and one of the city’s most acclaimed restaurants, Seta, which boasts two Michelin stars.
Hotel phone: +39 02 8731 8888

7. STRAF

Luxury Milan hotel near the Duomo
Impeccably sleek and centrally-located, the STRAF hotel is a dream for lovers of modern design. Twin and double rooms feature stylish slate or concrete furnishings along with LED TVs and minibars, while “well-being” rooms feature aromatherapy and massage chairs. Art is prominently featured throughout the hotel, and there are often mini galleries featuring the work of local artists on site. The bar, located adjacent to the lobby, is a popular meeting place for locals, and the restaurant serves an excellent continental buffet breakfast. All this, just a 2-minute walk from the Duomo.
Hotel phone: +39 02 805081

8. Four Seasons Hotel Milano

Milan luxury hotel with spa
An elegant luxury hotel with rooms set in a 15th-century convent, the Milan Four Seasons seamlessly blends old world charm and new world convenience. Located in the heart of the city’s shopping district, the rooms are spacious and stylishly furnished, with some Premium rooms sporting views of the huge courtyard garden in the center of the complex. The hotel features a wonderful spa with an absolutely exquisite pool area, along with a top-notch lounge and garden restaurant. Suites are available as well; the executive king suite sleeps up to four. Located three blocks from Montenapoleone Metro Station.
Hotel phone: +39 02 77088

9. Palazzo Parigi Hotel and Grand Spa

Milan luxury suites with kitchens
Elegant and full of Italian neo-classical touches, this five-star hotel has all the trimmings, with excellent restaurants (one in a private garden), a beautiful indoor pool, and a superb spa. Rooms are quite large, and there are 8 different varieties of suites, some of which have kitchens and private terraces. The largest can be connected with other rooms to accommodate up to 5 guests. Halal food, prayer mat, and compass are provided for Muslim guests, and as a corporate partner of Teatro alla Scala, the hotel often provides special deals for arts patrons. Located in a relatively quiet residential district just north of the Duomo, it’s still within walking distance to all major sites, and a short stroll away from Milan’s lovely public garden (Giardini Pubblici Indro Montanelli).
Hotel phone: +39 02 625625

10. Hotel Principe Di Savoia

Luxury hotel in Milan's Porto Nuova neighborhood
Set outside Milan’s bustling core, but conveniently situated thanks to the Repubblica Metro station next door, the Principe di Savoia exudes old-world elegance in the modern Porta Nuova neighborhood. Many of the rooms feature views that show off the lively urban edge of this increasingly contemporary city, with new skyscrapers punctuating the landscape. Guest rooms are decorated in traditional, upscale Italian fashion, with marble bathrooms and hand-painted frescoes. The suites are plush and spacious; the presidential suite has three bedrooms and a private pool. The hotel also features an excellent restaurant, a gorgeous, oval-shaped lounge, a rooftop terrace, an indoor pool, and a spa. Guests can also take advantage of limousine service to the city center.
Hotel phone: +39 02 62301

11. Park Hyatt Milano

Milan luxury hotel with Michelin-starred restaurants
The Park Hyatt, located on the edge of the Galleria and Piazza de Duomo, features spacious and elegant accommodations with high ceilings and absolutely huge bathrooms. Two separate in-house restaurants feature food from a Michelin-starred Sicilian chef, and there are two lounges, a gorgeous spa, and a large gym. Four different classes of suite all include private terraces, and can sleep up to 4 guests. Perfect location at the center of everything.
Hotel phone: +39 02 8821 1234

12. Baglioni Hotel Carlton

Milan luxury hotel on  Via  Della  Spiga
Located right on Via Della Spiga, one of Milan’s best pedestrianized shopping streets, this five-star luxury boutique hotel is well-located and quiet. Guest rooms are comfortably-sized (Deluxe rooms sleep up to five) and traditionally-furnished, while suites are downright opulent, with terraces that can be connected to adjoining rooms. The on-site restaurant, Baretto al Baglioni, is a destination for many of the city’s most fashionable diners, offering both a formal dining space and an open, light-filled café. The hotel also features a spa (with its own entrance off Via Spiga) and garden terrace.
Hotel phone: +39 02 77077

13. Excelsior Hotel Gallia

Luxury Milan hotel with large suites
Located close to the Centrale metro station, this sleek and modern Italian design hotel has something for everyone. Its 1000 sqm Katara Royal Suite is the largest in Italy, with 4 bedrooms, a private hot tub, and a separate entrance. For the rest of us, there’s an indoor pool and Shiseido spa, a rooftop restaurant, and a virtual golf range. The hotel also features impeccably attentive staff and many cool amenities – like complimentary Maserati car service, for instance.
Hotel phone: +39 02 67851

14. Sina De La Ville

Luxury Milan hotel near the  Galleria
Right off the Galleria and close to the Duomo and Milan’s best shopping, the Sina de la Ville is ideally situated, with soundproof rooms to block out the tourist din. The hotel features a rooftop sun terrace with an year-round outdoor plunge pool, as well as an indoor pool and a wellness center with sauna, Turkish bath, and Jacuzzi. Common areas have a club-like feel, and guest rooms feature contemporary or traditional décor (some with fabric-lined walls) with comfortably modern bathrooms. An on-site restaurant provides a la carte dining and breakfast buffets, and a poolside snack bar.
Hotel phone: +39 02 879 1311

15. Hotel Manzoni

Luxury Milan fashion district hotel
Easy and elegant, this unpretentious 4-star hotel offers impeccable lodging in the heart of the fashion district. The Manzoni has 47 guest rooms featuring parquet floors, marble bathrooms, and LCD TVs, with suites that can sleep up to 3. The common areas are done up in classically ornate Italian fashion, with marble floors and polished wood paneling. There’s also a basic gym, wellness center, courtyard restaurant, and complimentary breakfast served daily.
Hotel phone: +39 02 7600 5700

Read More

The Best Paris Restaurants

Home > Paris > Paris Restaurants
by Santorini Dave • Updated: June 20, 2019

See Also

The Best Places To Eat In Paris

Dining in Paris

Where To Eat In Paris, France.

  • Meal times in Paris: Lunch is typically from noon to 3pm and dinner from 7-10pm, with the restaurant/kitchen closed during off hours.
  • Reservations in Paris: Reservations are important and many restaurants in Paris keep to a strict seating schedule, especially for dinner. 1st service is generally around 7 or 7:30pm and 2nd service is approximately at 9pm. More places have adopted online booking, but if you’re trying to call remember that most restaurants close between lunch and dinner (3-7pm).
  • Dress Code in Paris: There isn’t a formal dress code in restaurants, with nicer places even accepting “smart casual.” Upscale establishments still require a jacket, and in general shorts on men are frowned upon.
  • Bread: In France, bread isn’t meant to be a pre-meal snack so don’t expect it to be served with butter or olive oil. It’s typically used to soak up the sauces on your plate.
  • Wine: French wines are defined by region, not the grape, so don’t expect to see Pinot Noir or Chardonnay on the menu. A quick general overview: mineral whites like Sauvignon Blanc are from the Loire Valley, Chardonnay is associated with Burgundy, Beaujolais is typically a lighter style red using Gamay, Pinot Noir is the dominant red in Burgundy, and Southern Rhone tends to be round and fruity with a combination of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre. If you’re looking for something bigger, try the Languedoc or Bordeaux.
  • Cheese: Is considered dessert and eaten at the end of the meal.
  • Tipping in Paris: Tipping is not a percentage of the bill but rather an appreciative gesture. Rounding up the bill is common or even 5 to 10 euros if you’re somewhere more pricey.

The 35 Best Restaurants in Paris

1. Verjus – 1st • $$$$

The best restaurants in Paris.
Inventive French fare in an elegant yet cozy setting, just steps from the Palais Royal. Its 78€ tasting menu changes regularly and is one of the most creative and affordable in town.
Map • +33 1 42 97 54 40 • Nearest Metro: Pyramides

2. Restaurant yam’Tcha – 1st • $$$$

The best restaurants in Paris.
Inspired Chinese take on contemporary French cooking. The chef spent years in China honing her craft before coming back to Paris to open up one of the most unique contributions to the city’s gastronomic scene. For an unusual pairing, opt for the tea instead of traditional wine. Service is friendly and flawless.
Map • +33 1 40 26 08 07 • Nearest Metro: Louvre-Rivoli

3. Juveniles – 1st • $$

The best restaurants in Paris.
Wine shop turned restaurant with cozy French home cooking. Prices are affordable, portions are generous and the warm welcome from Margaux and her boyfriend Romain make this a favorite.
Map • +33 1 42 97 46 49 • Nearest Metro: Pyramides

4. Aux Lyonnais – 2nd • $$$

The rustic and hearty cuisine of Lyon is celebrated here at this Alain Ducasse bistro. Traditional classics like quenelles (a pillowy cloud of fish served in a seafood sauce) or Pot de la cuisinière lyonnaise (suckling pig with foie gras) are exceptional. The 1890 dining room feels like a step back in time.
Map • +33 1 42 96 65 04 • Nearest Metro: Grands Boulevards

5. Frenchie Wine Bar – 2nd • $$

Creative small plates and a unique wine list; a taste of the same cooking that you’d find across the street at the hard-to-book Restaurant Frenchie. The wine bar offers a fun and relaxed scene without the hassle of booking months in advance.
Map • +33 1 40 39 96 19 • Nearest Metro: Sentier

6. Coinstot Vino – 2nd • $$

Natural wine-focused restaurant with simple French food inside the charming Passage des Panoramas. Though its location inside a historic monument might say tourist trap, the crowd is mostly neighborhood regulars and die-hard natural wine fans. As the night progresses, the vibe skews younger; once they shut the Passage gates off around 11pm you‘ll feel like you‘re in a private party.
Map • +33 1 44 82 08 54 • Nearest Metro: Grands Boulevards

7. Bistro Grands Boulevards – 2nd • $$$

Mediterranean-influenced dishes in a beautiful, airy setting that makes you feel like you’re dining al fresco. The retractable glass roof opens up in nice weather for dining under the stars. Serious wine and cocktail list with a rooftop bar in the summer.
Map • +33 1 85 73 33 33 • Nearest Metro: Grands Boulevards

8. Marché Des Enfant Rouges – 3rd (Marais) • $-$$

A cross between a farmers’ market and a food hall, the dining options at the Marché Des Enfant Rouges are some of the most diverse you’ll find in one place. Everything from a wine bar to classic French to Japanese bento boxes to Moroccan couscous or the ever-popular vendor that sings while making crepes. Great for families.
Map • Nearest Metro: Filles du Calvaire

9. Le Mary Celeste – 3rd (Marais (3rd) • $$

Fusion-friendly small plates, outstanding cocktails, and oysters on the half shell in a hip setting. Raucous crowd and loud music. Great for groups.
Map • +33 1 42 77 98 37 • Nearest Metro: Filles du Calvaire

10. Hugo & Co. – 5th (Latin Quarter) • $$

Shareable plates with a twist from Cambodian-born, NY-trained Tomy Gousset. Drawing from this diverse background, dishes include a stellar savory pancake with guanciale and pecorino, as well as a pork cutlet with black rice, cabbage and curry sauce. Convivial setting with a mix of clientele due to its Latin Quarter location – academics, students, creatives, and visitors.
Map • +33 9 53 92 62 77 • Nearest Metro: Cardinal Lemoine

11. La Bouteille D’Or – 5th • $$$

The best restaurants in Paris.
Hip space in one of the oldest restaurants in Paris, with stunning views of Notre Dame and an internationally-influenced menu. Dating back to 1631, La Bouteille D’Or has been updated with modern décor, a large outdoor terrace and a reasonably-priced three course 34€ menu. The location and views are unbeatable.
Map • +33 1 84 83 00 75 • Nearest Metro: Maubert-Mutualité

12. Semilla – 6th (Saint Germain) • $$$

Contemporary French cooking from an award-winning chef in the heart of Saint Germain. Reasonable prices, an extensive wine list, and a friendly, bi-lingual staff make Semilla popular with locals and visitors alike.
Map • +33 1 43 54 34 50 • Nearest Metro: Saint Germain des Près

13. Le Relais de L’Entrecôte – 6th (St. Germain) • $$$

Classic steak frites are the only thing on the menu at this popular restaurant chain. Though it may seem like a tourist trap, Le Relais de L’Entrecôte is an institution. Regulars come for the famous sauce while value diners appreciate the mountain of french fries and generous portions. Additional locations in the 8th and the 14th.
Map • +33 1 45 49 16 00 • Nearest Metro: Saint Germain des Près

14. Ze Kitchen Galerie – 6th (Saint Germain) • $$$$

Imaginative mix of Asian ingredients and French technique in a modern, upscale setting. Creative combinations like shrimp ravioli in tamarind sauce or white chocolate wasabi ice cream earned it 1 Michelin star.
Map • +33 1 44 32 00 32 • Nearest Metro: Odeon

15. L’Avant Comptoir du Marché – 6th (Saint Germain) • $$

Recommended restaurant in Paris.
This Spanish influenced, small plates, natural wine bar popular with Parisians has a new, larger space in the Saint Germain Covered Market (known for its excellent vendors). Friendly, easy-going atmosphere.
Map • +33 1 44 27 07 97 • Nearest Metro: Mabillon

16. David Toutain – 7th • $$$$

Modern French food from one of the most inventive chefs in Paris. Surprising and successful flavor combinations earned him a Michelin star. Minimalist décor compliments the adventurous tasting menu.
Map • +33 1 45 50 11 10 • Nearest Metro: La Tour-Maubourg

17. Café Constant – 7th • $$$

Classic French food, a prime location near the Eiffel Tower, and a convenient no reservations policy make Café Constant a great standby. Favorites are the more contemporary tartare of salmon and oysters served on the half shell or the hearty Parmentier de canard (a sort of upscale Shepherd’s pie). Always popular and crowded, just join the queue to get a table.
Map • +33 1 47 53 73 34 • Nearest Metro: École Militaire

18. Le Cinq – 8th • $$$$

3-star Michelin inside the Four Seasons Hotel with a wine list as thick as a phone book. This is haute cuisine at its finest. Dress code required.
Map • +33 1 49 52 71 54 • Nearest Metro: Georges V

19. Le Laurent – 8th • $$$$

A secluded 1-star Michelin in a former hunting lodge of Louis XIV. Its unique and romantic setting lends a French countryside feel; large bay windows overlook lovely gardens and in the summer months tables are set up on the terrace near a beautiful fountain.
Map • +33 1 42 25 00 39 • Nearest Metro: Champs-Elysées Clemenceau

20. Bouillon Chartier – 9th • $$

The best restaurants in Paris.
A stunning Belle Epoque dining room with old school waiters that write your order on white paper table cloths – and cheap prices. With mains priced around 9-14 euros, this bustling brasserie turns out solid fare like Confit du Canard or escargot in a fun, lively atmosphere. Great for families.
Map • +33 1 47 70 86 29 • Nearest Metro: Grands Boulevards

21. Buvette – 9th • $$

The Best Romantic Restaurant in Paris.
Cozy, rustic space with a neighborhood vibe and French classics like Croque Monsieur and Coq au Vin. Unlike most places in Paris, Buvette is open throughout the day as a café, bar, and restaurant. In the up-and-coming South Pigalle.
Map • +33 1 44 63 41 71 • Nearest Metro: Pigalle

22. Pink Mamma – 9th • $$

The best trendy restaurants in Paris.
Meat-centric menu inside a stunning 4-story former hospital. Each level has its own character, starting with the speak-easy basement with Italian-influenced cocktails. The real treat is the glass-enclosed top floor with views over the city. Excellent pizzas and pastas round out the menu.
Map • +33 1 40 36 03 94 • Nearest Metro: Pigalle

23. Le Galopin – 10th • $$$$

Good restaurant in Paris.
Refined and elegant tasting menu driven by great, seasonal ingredients in a tourist-free part of Paris. Beautifully-executed dishes that are at once nuanced and complex. Its laid-back atmosphere, simple yet stylish décor, and charming location on a neighborhood square (Place Sainte-Marthe) make it a destination.
Map • +33 1 42 06 05 03 • Nearest Metro: Belleville

24. Les Arlots – 10th • $$$

Excellent neighborhood bistro offering modern-interpreted French classics near Gare du Nord. Top quality ingredients and prize-winning house-made sausage. Strong natural wine list, low-key vibe, perfect if you’re catching the Eurostar.
Map • +33 1 42 82 92 01 • Nearest Metro: Gare du Nord

25. Septime – 11th • $$$$

The best Michelin Star restaurants in Paris.
1-star michelin with one of the best modern French tasting menus in Paris. A favorite among foodies and voted one of the world’s 50 best restaurants. Simple, rustic-industrial decor in a low key, off the beaten path part of the 11th. Definitely worth the trek and the effort to get a reservation.
Map • +33 1 43 67 38 29 • Nearest Metro: Charonne

26. Bidoche – 11th • $$$$

Awesome Paris Restaurant.
Butcher shop by day, restaurant by night. Choose among some of the highest quality meat in France (beef, veal, lamb or pork) and have them prepare it for you in the chic, hidden restaurant in the back. The fun part is selecting your cut from the boutique.
Map • +33 9 81 12 59 81 • Nearest Metro: Oberkampf

27. Bistrot Paul Bert – 11th • $$$

The best 5 star restaurant in Paris.
Consistent, top quality bistro fare (think steak Bearnaise or soufflé au Grand Marnier). The classic interior – woodwork, mosaic tiles, and zinc countertops – has a timeless Parisian feel. It’s in all the guide books (for good reason), but it’s popular with locals too.
Map • +33 1 43 72 24 01 • Nearest Metro: Faidherbe-Chaligny

28. Aux Deux Amis – 11th • $$

Lively wine bar with a local vibe and great small plates. Frequented by Parisian fashionistas and natural wine aficionados, the crowd skews young and hip. Expect contemporary French food with a menu that changes daily.
Map • +33 1 58 30 38 13 • Nearest Metro: Oberkampf

29. Fulgurances – 11th • $$$$

The most experimental restaurant in Paris. An incubator of sorts, Fulgurances showcases a rotating roster of burgeoning chefs by offering them a temporary residency to let them run their own restaurant. Check the website to see who is being hosted.
Map • +33 1 43 48 14 59 • Nearest Metro: Rue des Boulets

30. Le Chateaubriand – 11th • $$$$

Consistently ranked as one of the world’s 50 best restaurants, its no choice, 75€ tasting menu changes every night. Friendly service, modest wood interiors, in a low-key part of the 11th. Very popular with visitors so expect to book weeks in advance.
Map • +33 1 43 57 45 95 • Nearest Metro: Goncourt

31. L’Assiette – 14th • $$$

In a more residential part of Paris, this is the place for hard to find home cooked dishes like hearty cassoulet or pork knuckle rillettes. Simple interiors with touches of marble and antique glass. Near the Catacombs but tourist-free.
Map • +33 1 43 22 64 86 • Nearest Metro: Mouton-Duvernet

32. Les Grands Verres – 16th • $$$

Mediterranean-inspired cuisine inside a gorgeous space in the Palais Tokyo. This vibrant and hip take on museum dining updates the traditional mold with small shareable plates and a great cocktail list.
Map • +33 1 85 53 03 61 • Nearest Metro: Alma-Marceau

33. L’Oiseau Blanc – 16th • $$$$

The best Paris restaurant with view.
Romantic setting with a spectacular view of the Eiffel Tower and Michelin-worthy food. This stunning rooftop restaurant inside the Peninsula Hotel is perfect for a special occasion. Elegant interiors, impeccable service, and a terrace open in the summer to enjoy a pre-meal drink while taking in the monuments.
Map • +33 1 58 12 67 30 • Nearest Metro: Kléber

34. Le Grand 8 – 18th (Montmartre) • $$$

Good Paris restaurants with view.
Traditional, unfussy, French food with gorgeous views at the foot of Sacré Coeur. Tucked away on a pretty, tree-lined street, this neighborhood gem offers a low-key vibe and a strong natural wine list.
Map • +33 1 42 55 04 55 • Nearest Metro: Lamarck-Caulaincourt

35. Le Grand Bain – 20th (Belleville) • $$$

The best romantic Paris restaurants for honeymoon.
Off the beaten path, contemporary small plates restaurant on a street famed for its graffiti in Belleville, an artsy and edgy hotspot in Northeast Paris. The dining room can get loud.
Map • +33 9 83 02 72 02 • Nearest Metro: Belleville

Read More