TripAdvisor.com, the website that features “real advice from real travellers”, has put out its India-specific list of “undiscovered jewel hotels”. Not all of them are really as undiscovered as you might want them to be, but it still makes for a pretty interesting mix of architectural styles, locales, service levels and price ranges.
The list, in order of popularity, price and the ratings of TripAdvisor editors:
Picture perfect: Mewar Haveli in Udaipur has a rooftop restaurant, overlooking Pichola lake, that serves delicacies from across India. Mewar Haveli, Udaipur
1.Mewar Haveli, Udaipur www.mewarhaveli.com(; Rs960 average nightly rate): A Rajasthanihavelion the banks of Pichola lake, it has been described as “the best value for money hotel” and “a destination in itself”.
2. Fifu Guest House, Jaisalmer (www.fifutravel.com; Rs1,488): Located outside the city, 10 minutes from the fort, the 12-room guest house is “an oasis”, says a traveller.
3. Jas Vilas, Jaipur (www.jasvilas.com; Rs1,392): A family mansion that’s been refitted as a hotel, it has just eight rooms, including three doubles. “Service is fantastic,” says one visitor.
4. Ratan Vilas, Jodhpur (www.ratanvilas.com; Rs1,440): In the best traditions of havelis-turned-hotels, this one is also decorated with family portraits and imbued with the flavours of Rajasthani cuisine. “Luxurious,” comments a visitor.
5. Siena Village, Chinnakanal (www.nivalink.com/siena/index.html; Rs1,776): Some 18km from Munnar and 6,000ft above sea level, this one hits just the right “no ostentation” note you want in a hill station. A “classy, clean and just above average place”, notes one guest.
6. Hotel de l’Orient, Puducherry (www.neemranahotels.com; Rs1,968): A lovingly restored family home, in line with other Neemrana properties, its courtyard dining is worth a visit by itself. One traveller wrote, “The quality shines through.”
7. Bethsaida Hermitage, Kerala (www.bethsaidahermitage.com; Rs2,208): Some 18km from the Thiruvananthapuram airport and on the coast, it offers various kinds of accommodation, from cottages to “Kottaram house”. “The highlight of our trip,” says one tourist.
8. Hotel Willow Banks, Shimla (www.willowbanks.com; Rs3,264): More than a century old, it started life as a British residence. The location, close to Mall Road, seems to be a major plus. “Offers a lot of convenience,” said one guest.
9. Presa di Goa Country House, Goa (www.presadigoa.com; Rs4,224): Located off the beach run in the little village of Nagoa, this is the place to go to for privacy, romance and relaxation. “Beautiful place,” said a visitor.
10. Casa Candolim, Goa (www.casacandolim.com; Rs8,400): Minutes away from the hub of Candolim in north Goa, it combines the efficiency of the boutique hotel with the sussegado vibe typical of the state. “Truly elating,” wrote one guest.
Fast cars, the stunning Sepang circuit, a double-sided main grandstand, 50,000 spectators and the checkered flag—the Malaysian Grand Prix, on 5 April, is the go-to destination for vicarious speed-fiends who don’t want to travel too far away. To make the decision easier, Tourism Malaysia, in association with its partners, is offering three-day packages starting from Rs13,599 and going up to Rs30,000. Valid only through 3-5 April, it includes airport transfers, three nights/four days accommodation at a four- or five-star hotel, one-day transfer to the circuit, sight-seeing tours, and, of course, the F1 ticket (Hillstand at the base level, gold category Grandstand at the higher end). Madhu Saliankar, marketing manager for Tourism Malaysia, says that the package is available only through the Mumbai-based Trust Travels. For itineraries and further details, log on to www.trustholidays.com
Short haul: Stay close to home at Sepang. Sepang International Circuit
Fly by Night--or Day
Exercise coach and neuro-psychotherapist Mark Bailey, who has mentored participants in programmes such as The Biggest Loser, now hosts the Fit to Fly segment on the BBC World News show fast:track. His tips on stress-free travel:
Get some sleep: Tiredness is the commonest condition among frequent flyers and we experience it physically and mentally. Getting to the airport on time, queueing up then going up 37,000ft for hours on end all add up. Different people experience tiredness differently. Some might feel more stressed or short-tempered, others lethargic.
Drink plenty of water: Dehydration is tricky, especially as it’s not always easy to know that you are dehydrated. Signs include fatigue and poor concentration, but just a small deficit of water in your body can result in poor digestion and a much slower brain. Fruit and vegetable have natural water content but the best thing to do is drink less alcohol and coffee and have more water before, during and after any flight. Buy a bottle of water after you’ve cleared security and sip on the plane.
Exercise: Sitting in a cramped position for hours on end is not the way your body is designed to function. Move around, stretch and breathe deeply at least once every 2 hours on a flight.
Eat natural: Choose natural foods (fruit, vegetable, meats/fish) over processed foods (such as bread and crackers).
Control time: As soon as you’re on board, set your watch for your destination time and try to edge towards that. So, if it’ll be night when you land, get some sleep on the flight and slot into the time when you arrive. If it is daytime, get into the daylight. This helps your body clock adjust more quickly.
Wind down:After 7pm local time, avoid brightly lit environments, laptops and TVs. When your eyes sense light your brain thinks it is daytime, so you begin to secrete certain hormones that make you feel alert just when you actually want to go to sleep. Don’t use a laptop or BlackBerry at night—put it to sleep so you can follow.
Rest:Human beings are much more than machines but we are similar to, say, an engine in some respects--we can’t function properly for too long without some basic things. An engine needs oil and petrol; we need water, food and rest. Quality rest is vital.
Mark Bailey can be seen in fast:track on BBC World News. for details on his work, visit www.markbaileyonline.com
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