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  • Socially distant but still fun and indulgent: a post-lockdown family getaway

    Posted 2020-07-07 05:30:04 by: bossgate

    At The Ickworth, a country house hotel owned by the National Trust, there are restrictions but still plenty of space for kids’ activities and picnicsWe are sitting for breakfast in the pretty conservatory of our hotel, when the unthinkable happens … my daughter’s bouncy ball escapes her and goes hopping across the floor towards the next table, coming to rest beside someone’s foot. Ah. Ok. Nobody panic. What do we do? What’s the protocol here? Such are the anxieties of family holidays this summer.Incorporating social distancing into a hotel is tricky anywhere, but even harder in a property specifically aimed at families with young children. How do you work it when kids are running around, rolling on the floor and putting their hands all over everything? Continue ...

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  • Which countries can UK holidaymakers visit without restrictions on arrival?

    Posted 2020-07-06 14:47:09 by: bossgate

    A guide to countries that UK tourists can now visit, in light of the government’s updated travel corridor listLast week, the government announced the countries that UK nationals could take holidays to without facing quarantine on return, also known as travel corridors. However, confusion remains over which countries Britons can visit without facing restrictions on arrival. Currently, this is 24 – out of the government’s list of 74.Many of the destinations on the list still have their own restrictions in place. Australia and New Zealand’s borders remain closed to international tourists; and Austria, the Netherlands, Cyprus and Japan have restrictions on countries that have seen high levels of coronavirus, including the UK. Continue ...

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  • No breakfast buffet and sanitising fog machines: a night in a post-lockdown London hotel

    Posted 2020-07-06 13:06:32 by: bossgate

    Check in at The Dixon near Tower Bridge … where staff are doing all they can to provide a bit of pampering while social distancing and keeping guests safe‘I’m afraid I can’t take your bags,” says the manager of The Dixon, a boutique hotel just south of Tower Bridge. He greets me in the lobby on reopening day (Saturday 4 July) after the pandemic forced the hotel to close for four months. A smile beams from behind the clear plastic visor that covers his face. “We have a new procedure, you see.”That procedure goes like this: when guests arrive they are directed to a non-contact temperature scanner and hand-sanitiser station. If a guest’s temperature is below 38C, they can proceed to reception where a masked clerk checks them in from behind a plastic screen. There, guests are offered a face covering and talked through the changes. Namely, that the gym is closed; there is no breakfast buffet (guests need to preorder); that social distancing must be maintained; and that should you need help with your luggage, you are to leave it with staff, who’ll sanitise it using a fogger machine before dropping it to your room. Continue ...

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  • What happens when a bloke hops into the lift with you?: post-lockdown in a Manchester hotel

    Posted 2020-07-06 12:32:13 by: bossgate

    As an aparthotel, the Native is well set up for social distancing, but is Manchester’s wider Northern Quarter as welcoming?Well this feels strange, doesn’t it? Leaving the house. With plans. Being able to sleep in a hotel room and sink a pint on Saturday night. But only, in my case, after sitting masked on an eerily empty tram as it trundles past the Nightingale Hospital North West, a reminder of how precarious England’s rush into the new normal might be.If travelling into Manchester city centre from its suburbs feels unreal, imagine the leap of faith it would require to book a city-break right now. Yet, at the 166-room Native aparthotel, 60 rooms sold late last week to … someone. Its public ground floor – previously bar, restaurant, cinema and Cultureplex arts space, now Ducie Street Warehouse – is reasonably busy with a glammed-up and self-consciously hip Northern Quarter crowd. None older than 32. Does the world now belong to health-confident 20-somethings? Possibly. Continue ...

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  • 10 of the best novels set in Russia – that will take you there

    Posted 2020-07-06 05:30:04 by: bossgate

    This list of novels and novellas will help you explore Russia’s vast landscapes and complex history Add your favourites to the commentsI spent several years wandering round Russia with books in my rucksack. And several more years reviewing Russian fiction and finding myself transported back, whether to a village with chickens pecking through orchards round a wooden church or to a drunken kitchen table debate in a high-rise overlooking the Moscow suburbs. This subjective list of engaging, relatively readable novels and novellas recreates various Russian landscapes, eras and atmospheres, often in ways that no amount of travelling could. As Ludmila Ulitskaya writes in The Big Green Tent: “Military historians have found many discrepancies in Tolstoy’s description of the Battle of Borodino, but the whole world imagines the event just as Tolstoy described it in War and Peace.” Continue ...

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  • The great escape: 10 lovely new holiday cottages in the UK

    Posted 2020-07-05 10:00:40 by: bossgate

    Many Brits will be holidaying in the UK this summer, fortunately there are many gorgeous getawatys to choose fromSince buying this coastal farm on a whim while filming in Pembrokeshire some 15 years ago, Griff Rhys Jones and his family have set about restoring the 70-acre estate’s cottages and outbuildings one by one, converting them into cosy holiday retreats that celebrate Welsh craftsmanship. The latest conversion of a granary, with exposed stone walls, Welsh slate floors and a woodburner, is no exception. It’s just a short stroll from the front door to the Pembrokeshire Coast Path (look out for dolphins) and beautiful Blue Flag beaches, such as Abermawr. From £989 for three nights in July – holidays in Wales are permitted from 15 July. Sleeps six (underthethatch.co.uk) Continue ...

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  • Italy this summer: three under-the-radar holiday regions

    Posted 2020-07-05 06:00:35 by: bossgate

    With more Italians holidaying at home this year and everyone keen to avoid tourist hotspots, we select beautiful areas for a peaceful breakWatching Italy’s coronavirus agony unfold was unbearably sad for those of us who love this exuberant, gregarious country. But as the months went on, I began thinking more selfishly: Italy was coming back to life, but would the UK’s chaotic response to the pandemic deprive me of my Italy fix this year? Continue ...

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  • Spain this summer: three under-the-radar holiday regions

    Posted 2020-07-04 10:00:10 by: bossgate

    This is the summer to skip Spain’s crowded costas and busy cities and head for its quiet and lovely mountains, countryside and coastThe Spanish tourist industry collapsed virtually overnight when the government declared a state of emergency on 14 March. But now most hotels and restaurants are open, with limited capacity and social distancing. Continue ...

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  • France this summer: four under-the-radar holiday regions

    Posted 2020-07-04 06:00:06 by: bossgate

    France will be a popular option for a post-lockdown break, and is big enough to offer lots of places where crowds can be avoided• Quiet regions of Spain and ItalyWith Europe set to reopen to Brits, the first place many will think of heading for a summer holiday is across the Channel. France has moved swiftly since the ending of lockdown, with a reassuring foundation of health and safety regulations. Continue ...

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  • Foreign holiday bookings playing catch up after UK government indecision

    Posted 2020-07-03 17:03:18 by: bossgate

    With the ‘safe list’ of countries finally announced, holiday bookings are expected to pick up, but tour operators are scrambling to make up for lost timeThe “safe list” for holidays was finally announced by the government today, but previous uncertainty around proposed “air bridges” and “travel corridors”, and the delay in publishing the list has caused fury among tour operators, senior MPs and the first ministers of Wales and Scotland. Nicola Sturgeon, first minister of Scotland, criticised the government’s “shambolic” decision-making process. However, now that a decision has been made consumer confidence is expected to return and bookings to increase. Many people have been hesitant to book a holiday abroad after mixed messages and delays from the government, and tour operators report seeing a high number of enquiries but few bookings. Continue ...

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