Germany Working to Lift Travel Ban to 31 European Countries

German officials are currently working to lift travel bans in place to 31 European countries starting on June 15.

According to The Local, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is in talks with regional leaders about new health and safety guidelines as the country prepares to ease travel restrictions implemented to stop the coronavirus outbreak.

Merkel is warning officials to use caution when developing plans and exercise commonly accepted protocols from around the world to avoid a second wave of infections associated with the viral pandemic.

The German government began work Wednesday on a plan to allow travel to 26 other European Union nations and Britain, as well as the four non-European Union countries; Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

Each country had a different approach to the coronavirus quarantines, which has resulted in concerns from officials like Bavarian Premier Markus Soeder that the country is opening its borders too quickly.

“We have in Italy, Spain and France completely different infection numbers compared to Germany so I ask the federal government to think very carefully about this,” Soeder said during the meetings.

There are also local reports claiming Merkel is facing pressure from state premiers to move up the date that social distancing measures are relaxed from July 5 to June 29. Government officials did not comment.

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Holidays 2021: TravelSupermarket reveals the best value locations for next year

Holidays this year may happen later than usual due to ongoing travel restrictions and bans in the UK and abroad. While most holidaymakers usually take a summer break in July and August, many are looking at September and October breaks. Holiday price comparison site, TravelSupermarket looked at the bookings made on its site over the past month to identify what the most popular future depart month is and what destinations are the best value for money.

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Although October 2020 is the most popular future departure month to search for a package holiday, many are being more cautious and actually booking in April and May 2021.

Emma Coulthurst from TravelSupermarket said that the pandemic has changed people’s attitudes towards booking a holiday.

She said: “Who would have thought that the most popular times to book a holiday in May 2020 would be in a year’s time.

“But that is what the pandemic is currently doing to people’s booking patterns.

“Quarantines and the current FCO restriction on anything but essential travel mean that people are holding back on booking for this year compared with next year”.

TravelSupermarket also looked at all the prices and clicks on its site to see which destinations were the best value for holidays in Easter and May next year.

And it may not come as a surprise to most, but Spain is the best value.

Despite the country being hit hard by the coronavirus, it still remains a cheap favourite among travellers.

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Majorca, Malta, the Costa del Sol, Ibiza and Menorca are the top five best value package holiday spots.

Meanwhile, Lanzarote, Zante, the Algarve, the Costa Blanca and Gran Canaria make up the next five.

Those looking for self-catering may want to look at destinations in Turkey, with hot posts like Marmaris and Antalya being the best value.

Ms Coulthurst added: “We know that there is a pent-up desire to travel.

“We’re seeing people searching for holidays later in the year, October being the most popular month to look for a holiday.

“As the picture becomes clearer on the exact health protocols put in place at airports and on airlines and whether our Govt and countries will let us travel, more people are likely to book for this year.

“Currently, though, we’re seeing more Brits hedging their bets on holidays next year.”

Ms Coulthurst also said that cheap package holidays may be the best bet if you want to make sure your money remains protected.

She continued: “There are some really good prices out in the market, if you’re prepared to take the leap and book.

“It is nearly always a lot cheaper to go away at Easter than it is at May half term as a family as the weather is not as reliable but the money which you save can make it attractive.

“A package holiday is financially protected under ATOL and the Package Travel Regulations 2018.

“This means that if anything goes wrong with your holiday, you will be looked after and be entitled to your money back if the holiday doesn’t go ahead.”

The travel expert also said that while package holidays are reliably cheap and offer great value for money, people’s attitudes may change due to the coronavirus.

She concluded: “All-inclusive has been Brits’ favourite package holiday board type for a few years now.

“However, with the pandemic, self-catering options are likely to become more popular”.

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Portugal holiday: Do you have to self isolate if you go to Portugal? UK on brink of deal

Portugal is a popular holiday destination for Britons. Government officials are in talks with Portugal to create an air-bridge which would enable Britons to enjoy a summer holiday abroad. Express.co.uk takes a look at what this means for you and your holiday plans.

Portugal declared a state of emergency on March 18.

As of April 30, the Portuguese Government announced the transition to a state of public calamity and the implementation of a three-stage de-escalation plan to gradually ease current confinement and mobility measures.

Starting from May 4, each stage of the plan will last two weeks.

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The Foreign Commonwealth Office travel advice page reads: “As countries respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, including travel and border restrictions, the FCO advises British nationals against all but essential international travel.

“Any country or area may restrict travel without notice.

“If you live in the UK and are currently travelling abroad, you are strongly advised to return now, where and while there are still commercial routes available.

“Many airlines are suspending flights and many airports are closing, preventing flights from leaving.”

However, the Government is now in talks with Portugal about creating an air bridge which would enable holidaymakers to avoid having to self-isolate upon their return.

The air bridge would allow people to visit the country without quarantining for 14 days upon their return which will be the rule from June 8.

It was revealed this week a restriction-free travel deal could be brokered with the Portuguese before any other country when the blanket quarantine measures are eventually relaxed.

Other countries including Greece have expressed interest in striking a similar deal to enable UK visitors this year.

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Currently, from June 8 all visitors from countries outside the UK must self-isolate for 14 days.

Failure to comply with these rules risk a fine of £1,000.

This risk and the global pandemic will likely prevent many Britons from travelling abroad.

However, the Government is working on plans to ultimately relax its restrictions in favour of more focused “air bridges” which would allow Britons to travel to and from countries with low coronavirus rates and avoid quarantine.

The quarantine in place for other countries will be reviewed at the end of June and then every three weeks after that time.

Portugal has confirmed 31,007 cases of coronavirus since the outbreak began, of which, 1,342 people have died.

This is just a fraction of neighbouring Spain’s figures at more than 280,000 infected and 27,155 dead.

The Foreign Minister told Reuters Portugal had requested additional information after the British quarantine decision.

It said: “Given the relevant reciprocal interests, the foreign ministry is confident that it will be possible to agree a solution that meets these interests, especially concerning the coming summer season.”

Several airlines have announced tentative plans to ramp up their operations from July.

Ryanair confirmed on Tuesday it would operate around 1,000 flights a day predominantly around northern Europe from July 1 which is equivalent to 40 percent of its total schedule.

Easyjet is due to resume flights from UK airports from June 15, but the only international route will be between Gatwick and Nice, France.

Travel company TUI is planning to resume flights to main holiday destinations in Europe by the end of June.

British Airways has said it is planning a “meaningful return to service” in July, subject to restrictions being eased.

Jet2.com and Jet2holidays have announced plans to resume flights and holidays on July 1.

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Holidays 2020: Britons could be jetting off to these destinations in time for summer

Holidays have been put on hold and lockdown measures around the world persist. Now, there seems to be a glimmer of hope at the end of the tunnel, as popular airlines gear up to restart flights and the government works to develop relationships with countries which will make international travel safer after the pandemic.

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Yet, with varying border restrictions around the world, the future of travel looks uncertain for Britons.

Luckily, Jon Thorne, Director of User Satisfaction at Skyscanner, shared an insight into some of the destinations which Britons may be able to get back to in time for summer.

The UK government recently revealed plans to impose a mandatory 14-day quarantine on people entering the UK from abroad.

However, those rules will not apply to those arriving from the Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.

This, Mr Thorne says, will make those neighbouring countries “attractive propositions for British travellers planning summer adventures.”

He also highlighted how potential “travel bubbles” could mean more European getaways in the near future.

“Officials at Heathrow Airport, the UK’s largest airport, have called on the government to open travel bubbles between the UK and other nations, most likely European and Schengen countries,” he explained.

“This would remove the need for quarantine and allow for more control over international movement.”

The UK government is in talks with other countries about the potential of opening up travel routes where cases of infection are low and controlled.

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“As they look ahead to the summer, nations around the world are discussing new travel alliances,” continues Mr Thorne.

“These ‘travel bubbles’, also called ‘travel corridors’ aim to allow passage between two or more countries without the need to quarantine.

“Three Baltic states, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia recently announced Europe’s first travel bubble.

“However, anyone entering from outside of these three nations will still need to quarantine for 14-days.”

Many European countries have already voiced their desire to welcome back British tourists as soon as it is safe to do so.

The Spanish Government officially confirmed that the country’s 14-day quarantine rule for international holidaymakers arriving into the country will cease on July 1, with Britons included.

Prime Minister of Spain Pedro Sanchez told people to “start planning their holidays” as national tourism would begin, followed by international holidays in July.

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He added: “There will be a tourist season this summer.

“Spain needs tourism and tourism needs security at origin and security at the destination.

“From now, foreign tourists can plan their vacations in our country.”

For travellers who hope to start planning their next escape, Mr Thorne says current cancellation policies on offer from travel providers could be key.

“Safety, is of course, paramount in many people’s minds,” he said.

“Many travellers are taking advantage of the airlines and hotels who are offering their most flexible cancellation policies ever and booking international travel for later this year and early next.”

He added that while there will undoubtedly be concerns regarding the virus moving forward, travel operators are working to ensure the safety of holidaymakers and staff.

“While it’s impossible to remove airborne pathogens completely, airlines have been finding new and better ways to keep the air onboard their flights clean for decades,” he added.

“It’s not just coronavirus that HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filters combat.

“Heathrow airport, the UK’s largest airport, is using thermal cameras to detect travellers with higher than normal temperatures, a symptom of COVID-19. The technology and measures being taken at airports across the world are far more stringent and advanced than ever before.

“Airports and airlines are still asking travellers to bring their own face masks, an important thing to consider when packing for your trip.”

Airlines including easyJet, Ryanair and Jet2 have all outlined plans to resume holidays as of July, with new hygiene measures in place for passengers and crew.

Airports, such as Heathrow are also trialling safety measures to test and trace passengers who show symptoms of COVID-19.

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Photograph of the week: Bran Castle, Romania – A Luxury Travel Blog

For many Bran Castle may be synonymous with “vampires” or “horror stories” but in reality is more of a beautiful medieval castle than a haunted place.

How did its association with Dracula come by then? We might attribute at least part of the reason to its location. Bran Castle is set in Transylvania region, Romania, close to the city of Brasov. It is perched on a dramatic hilltop above a valley and it is surrounded by a deep green forest, which gives it an air of mystery.

According to Bram Stoker’s book, his character, the vampire prince Dracula, lived in “a castle located high above a valley perched on a rock with a flowing river below”. The similarity between the fictional description and the reality is astonishing.

The other part of the reason is the Romanian ruler, Vlad Tepes (Vlad the Impaler), who
supposedly was used by Bram Stoker as an inspiration for his book. Vlad the Impaler ruled the historical region of Wallachia in the 15 th century and he was known for his cruel methods of punishment, which drove his enemies away in fear. His favorite means of execution was the impalement and there are many stories in the local folklore related to this.

Besides his cruel nature, Vlad Tepes was the son of Vlad Dracul, a name very similar to
Dracula. In reality Dracul meant “the Dragon” in medieval Romanian and was a sobriquet received by his father after he became a member of the Order of the Dragon.

Many believe that the castle was inhabited by Vlad Tepes, but there are no historical records of this ever happening. Despite this, the bloodthirsty count's story is so popular and widespread that almost no one cares about the truth. The legend of Dracula is one, the story of Vlad Tepes is something else, but this "confusion" put the small town and its castle on the map of international tourism and has brought since then thousands of visitors to the area.

A visit inside the castle will reveal to you its true nature. Bran Castle started as a fortification, built by the Teutonic Knights in the 13 th century, after which, more than one hundred years later, at the end of the 14th century the actual castle was built by the Saxon community of Transylvania to protect the ongoing military invasion of the region and the trading route.

In the 20 th century the castle became a royal family residence after it was offered to Queen Mary of Romania as a reward for her help during World War I and the 1918 union of the country. It became one of the Queen’s favorite residences and she arranged it to become worthy of the royal family. It was inherited by her daughter, Princess Ileana and for a period of time belonged to the communists, but nowadays it is back in the possession of the Princess’ inheritors, who operate it as a museum and leave it open for the public.

The museum occupies four floors and hosts several objects of furniture, costumes, weapons, and personal items of the royal family, brought here mainly by the Habsburg family from their personal collection. The bedrooms and living area are tastefully decorated, although in no way opulent. The most interesting rooms to discover are the Music Salon and Queen Mary’s Bedroom.

Those looking for frightening experiences may also see an unusual display of torture tools in a room. It is a fascinating, but macabre part of history, so it is recommended that only people over the age of 18 enter the exhibition area. Of course, a tour would not be complete without a room dedicated to the legendary Dracula character.

The outside fortifications are impressive and they will take you back to medieval times. They include shooting ranges, narrow staircases and even a secret exit, which was once known only to soldiers. If the invaders managed to enter the fortress, the soldiers used this passage to climb to the top of the castle from where they threw stones and hot tar at the attackers to drive them away.

On the southern side of the hill we find a small village museum with traditional houses of the Rucar-Bran area, which highlights the local architecture and the old traditional occupations of the people: agriculture, animal husbandry, wool and wood processing.

Usually Bran Castle can be visited every day, although at this moment, due to the COVID situation it is closed to the public. As an interesting fact, sometimes it is listed on Airbnb for Halloween. Two people can get the opportunity to spend the night in the beautiful castle, sleeping in specially designed coffins.

Whether you are looking to uncover its mysteries or to capture its majestic looks, Bran Castle will make your visit worthwhile!

Thank you to Daniel Rosca from Romania Photo Tours for permission to share the photograph.

If you have a really special photograph you would like to share with A Luxury Travel Blog‘s readers, please contact us.

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Airline passengers trying to switch seats will be told to stay put amid pandemic

As the coronavirus pandemic transforms passenger aviation, the cheap-seats shuffle is no more.

Traditionally, some economy-class passengers on flights that are not full will move from their assigned seats before or shortly after take-off.

But anyone hoping to take advantage of extra space is likely to be scolded by cabin crew and told to go back to their assigned place.

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Passengers remaining in their allocated seats is one of the measures the International Air Transport Association (Iata) says will be necessary when aviation restarts at scale.

Iata’s member airlines are desperate to attract new business. The association calculates that the airline industry’s global debt could rise to $550bn (£450bn) by the end of the year.

The restart will depend upon passenger confidence. Airlines and airports are deploying measures from airport temperature checks to mandatory face coverings on board in a bid to reduce risk and reassure travellers.

But since some passengers may, knowingly or not, take flights while infectious, Iata is also recommending a track-and-trace system whereby nearby travellers can be reached after the journey and told to self-isolate.

Nick Careen, Iata’s senior vice president for airport, passenger, cargo and security, said: “Once you are in your seat, you can’t change any more.”

By ensuring the airline’s seating records tally with passenger behaviour, contact tracing will be much more effective.

Prior to the coronavirus pandemic some airlines sought to dampen self-service seat selection on board, in order not to disrupt complex “weight and balance” calculations. But many were lax, so long as passengers did not attempt to “self-upgrade”.

Alexandre de Juniac, Iata’s director general and CEO, said the aviation industry plans “a science-based biosecurity regime that will keep our passengers and crew safe while enabling efficient operations”.

He said: “The restart will go much more smoothly if governments cooperate.

“We must avoid the mess that followed 9/11 when governments acted unilaterally. This created confusion for airlines and travellers alike. And it took many years to clean up.

“We have a small window to avoid these mistakes with Covid-19 by agreeing global standards for a restart. In doing so, we must build in measures for continuous review so that we can streamline the system as science and technology evolve.”

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Tell us about the best bar you’ve found on holiday

A Caribbean beach shack with standout rum punch, sake and exotic snacks at a tiny izakaya in Tokyo, or a Moscow dive where you drank too much vodka with the locals. Maybe you found the wackiest coffee bar in still-weird Portland …

Ducking into a bar for something cold or caffeinated is a holiday ritual, and this week we’d like to hear about the most memorable drinking hole you’ve found on travels abroad – no cosy British pubs this time, much as we’re looking forward to a well-kept pint…

Please use the form below to tell us about your favourite bar, including location and website if appropriate, keeping your tip to around 100 words.

Send your tip by Tuesday 2 June at 10am BST. We’re afraid that in these difficult times, there is no prize on offer for the week’s best entry – though hopefully that will return soon. But in the spirit of solidarity and optimism, we’d still love you to share your memories with fellow readers. That also means you do not need to be a UK resident to submit a tip.

Have a look at our past winners and other tips

Photographs are welcome if they are high-quality (at least 700 pixels wide, please) and you are happy to share them but it is the text we will consider. If you do send photographs please ensure you are the copyright holder.

The best tips will appear on the Guardian Travel website next week.

If you’re having trouble using the form, click here

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That Summer: Cycling through Uzbekistan’s Silk Road cities in 2015

Uzbekistan had not been on my travel horizons until I got talking to an Uzbek salesman who happened to be sitting opposite me on a train in Germany in the summer of 2010.

He was clearly good at his job, for I quickly became gripped by his descriptions of his homeland and by the photos of turquoise-domed mosques he insisted on showing me on his phone. It all seemed so far removed from the pine forest zipping past the window during our conversation.

His niche of selling bike tours was also appealing, as I have always been active and outdoor-minded.

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Is this the 'greatest safari in the world'?

Wildly luxurious! The £102K safari billed ‘the world’s greatest’ where guests fly to plush African lodges in an Emirates A319 PRIVATE JET, which has 10 bedroom suites and a shower spa

  • The Roar Africa Emirates Executive Private Jet Safari’s itinerary includes Africa’s Holy Grail experiences
  • It will take in Victoria Falls, the Okavango Delta, Kenya’s Great Migration, and mountain gorillas in Rwanda
  • The trip, which takes place in August 2021 and is being offered to just 10 people, begins in Dubai

It’s being billed as ‘the greatest safari in the world’ – though some might conclude that it’s the greatest holiday in the world. Full stop.

Unsurprisingly, it’s not cheap. You’ll need to find $125,000 (£102,000) to book a place on the ‘Roar Africa Emirates Executive Private Jet Safari’, but for that whopping sum, you’ll go ‘beyond first class’, flown on a bespoke Emirates A319 – complete with 10 private suites and a ‘shower spa’ – to four jaw-dropping African camps and lodges.

And the 12-day itinerary includes Africa’s ‘Holy Grail’ experiences – taking in Zimbabwe’s Victoria Falls (one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World), the Okavango Delta in Botswana (the largest inland delta in the world), Kenya’s Great Migration, and the world’s last wild mountain gorillas in the forests of Rwanda.

‘The greatest safari in the world’ will see guests flown around Africa on an Emirates A319 private jet (pictured)

The Emirates A319 (pictured) will be the sole means of international transport throughout the entire journey

The jet, said Emirates, was ‘created for guests who want to go beyond first class and reflects the glamour of a bygone era, when air travel was both exclusive and an integral aspect of luxury travel experiences’

The trip, which takes place in August 2021 and is being offered to just 10 people, begins with a night at the five-star Burj Al Arab Jumeirah hotel in Dubai.

The Emirates A319 the guests board the next day for Africa will be the sole means of international transport throughout the entire journey.

They will feel like royalty – if they aren’t already.

The Emirates private A319 has a ‘powder room, an expansive lounge which functions as a communal gathering space or restaurant, and a cabin crew committed to providing the highest levels of personal service’. And five-star bathrooms

The Emirates A319 has 10 private suites, pictured. On the safari flight the guests will enjoy screenings of documentaries about Africa from notables such as historian David Attenborough

The 12-day itinerary includes Africa’s ‘Holy Grail’ experiences – taking in Zimbabwe’s Victoria Falls (one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World), the Okavango Delta in Botswana (the largest inland delta in the world), Kenya’s Great Migration, and the world’s last wild mountain gorillas in the forests of Rwanda. Pictured are the suites on the Emirates A319

The jet, said Emirates, was ‘created for guests who want to go beyond first class and reflects the glamour of a bygone era, when air travel was both exclusive and an integral aspect of luxury travel experiences’.

As well as private suites and a private shower spa, there’s also a ‘powder room, an expansive lounge which functions as a communal gathering space or restaurant, and a cabin crew committed to providing the highest levels of personal service’.

Guests will also enjoy screenings of documentaries about Africa from notables such as historian David Attenborough, conservationists Dereck and Beverly Joubert, and environmentalist and filmmaker Craig Foster.

All the destinations for the trip – which is being run jointly with ultra-luxe travel firm Roar Africa – have been hand-picked ‘because of their shared vision and commitment to creating a better future, combined with the charm and hospitality of their local communities and residents’.

They’re also extremely luxuriously.

The first destination, on August 18, 2021, is Mpala Jena Camp, located in the Zambezi National Park in Zimbabwe, a few miles upstream from Victoria Falls.

The first destination, on August 18, 2021, is Mpala Jena Camp (pictured), located in the Zambezi National Park in Zimbabwe

All the rooms at Mpala Jena Camp, pictured, boast private plunge pools with views of the Zambezi River

Its website says: ‘The camp’s guest tents are under flowing canvas, with open (yet netted) views of the river and Moroccan influences throughout the décor, a reference to the early Arab explorer’s adventures up the Zambezi in search of gold in the 16th century. Decking in front of the tent leads to a private plunge pool with views of the flowing waters of the Zambezi River.’

The second lodge, which the guests will arrive at on August 20, is Duba Plains Okavango Delta in Botswana, which ‘evokes the classic African safari style of the 1920’s’ with ‘rooms raised on recycled railway sleeper decking and with stunning views of the surrounding floodplain’.

On August 23 the guests will arrive at the incredible Mara Plains Camp in the Kenyan Maasai Mara. MailOnline Travel can vouch for this one. The author of this story stayed there in 2016, describing it as ‘a camp that specialises in making its guests feel like they’re kings and queens of the savannah’, that ‘takes glamping into uncharted territory with luxuriousness and service I didn’t know could exist in tents’.

The second lodge, which the guests will arrive at on August 20, is Duba Plains Okavango Delta (pictured) in Botswana

Ultra-luxury lodge: Duba Plains ‘evokes the classic African safari style of the 1920’s’

The rooms at Duba Plains are raised on recycled railway sleeper decking and have ‘stunning views of the surrounding floodplain’

THE WORLD’S GREATEST SAFARI ITINERARY 

August 17, 2021 – Burj Al Arab Jumeirah, Dubai, UAE

August 18, 19 – Mpala Jena Camp, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

August 20, 21, 22 – Duba Plains Okavango Delta 

August 23, 24, 25 – Mara Plains Camp, Maasai Mara, Kenya

August 26, 27, 28 – Singita Kwitonda, Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda 

The fourth stopover, on August 26, is at Singita Kwitonda in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park.

It has an ‘unparalleled position [that] puts life-changing gorilla-trekking experiences within easy reach’, along with eight luxurious suites with private heated plunge pools.

Plus ‘large timber-framed windows that welcome the breathtaking scenery and volcano views inside’.

On August 23 the Roar Africa Emirates guests will arrive at the incredible Mara Plains Camp (pictured) in Kenya

The fourth stopover, on August 26, is at Singita Kwitonda (pictured) in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park 

Singita Kwitonda has an ‘unparalleled position [that] puts life-changing gorilla-trekking experiences within easy reach’. And nice bath tubs

Deborah Calmeyer, founder and CEO of Roar Africa

The expert chaperones accompanying the group, meanwhile, include Deborah Calmeyer, founder and CEO of Roar Africa, Humphrey Gumbo, Roar Africa’s specialist safari guide with nearly 20 years of professional guiding experience in multiple African countries – and Dr. Ian McCallum, ‘renowned poet, conservationist and psychiatrist who is one of the most eloquent ambassadors for wilderness and wild animals’.

Guests will also ‘enjoy interacting with other seasoned professionals in their respective fields with extensive knowledge of their African homeland’.

Included among the ‘notable participants who will impart fascinating facts and keen insights into the regions visited’ is Zoologist Dr. Lucy King, who will ‘speak to her personal conservation journey with elephants, bees, and villages’.

Ms Calmeyer explained that the bucket list experience is designed to deepen knowledge of the natural world.

She said: ‘It has never been more important than now to curate experiences that facilitate an understanding of how the natural world works. We have curated this strategic itinerary by working from a place of deep insight and acute understanding of Africa’s many strengths and complexities. We have painstakingly selected profound destinations and intimate wildlife discoveries to reveal what must be done to ensure that Africa’s people, nature and animals survive and thrive. 

‘And knowing that time is a non-renewable resource, guests will appreciate the absolute exclusivity and unparalleled ease of travel.

‘This authentic experience not only sets a new paradigm in ultra-luxe adventure and sustainable travel, but is a robust catalyst for change by facilitating active participation and insightful dialogue between informed, conscious travellers and local communities. Our goal is to change the philosophy and worldview of leaders, and I truly believe this is the greatest and most impactful safari experience on earth… it will make your wildest dreams come true.’

The trip will be ‘carbon neutral with high-quality offsets’ and Roar Africa will be donating 100 per cent of the trip’s proceeds to The Great Plains Foundation, which ‘will go directly towards conservation education programs for young people who live in and around the areas visited’.

The Roar Africa Emirates Executive Private Jet African Safari will also be offered August 28 to September 7, 2022, and in 2023 (dates to be determined). 

For more information about the Roar Africa Emirates Executive Private Jet Safari visit www.emirates-executive.com and roarafrica.com.

Coming soon – film producer Frank Mannion’s engaging account of a five-day Out of Africa tour with Roar Africa.

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Britain's best hotels, B&Bs and perfect pubs with rooms

From fantastic family-run B&Bs to brilliant boutique hotels and perfect pubs with rooms… here are the gems that make Britain sparkle

  • Mousehole in Cornwall is home to The Old Coastguard, a family-run hotel with mesmerising sea views
  • Stay in the suite where Winston Churchill fine-tuned the D-Day plans at Knockinaam Lodge in Scotland  
  • Tudor Farmhouse, Gloucestershire, is an award-winning 20-room boutique hotel that draws a repeat crowd 

Step back in time, a century or so ago, and this green and pleasant land of ours was blessed with inns and hostelries to welcome weary travellers. But 50 years ago the domestic market paled and could not compete with the lure of a foreign tan and exotic sights. Now, though, home-grown hospitality has come back into its glorious own.

London may be the coolest city on the planet but show me a village that doesn’t boast a chic gastropub with rooms, or a market town with a boutique hotel at its hub. The real gems are instantly recognisable, most likely family-run, with charming hosts. And you sense every detail is considered, whether it’s immaculate (expensive) bed linen, fresh posies artfully placed or a jar of handmade cookies in the room.

One such gem is the boutique hotel Tudor Farmhouse, on the high street of Clearwell in Gloucestershire’s Forest of Dean, into which owners Colin Fell and wife Hari have poured heart and soul (plus buckets of money). There are plenty of others – and while these sweet weekend breaks are hardly bargains, they are tremendous value for money and we should celebrate the best of Great British hospitality.

The Old Coastguard

The pretty village of Mousehole in Cornwall is home to The Old Coastguard, a family-run hotel with mesmerising sea views 

After a fire in June 2019, The Old Coastguard in the pretty village of Mousehole in Cornwall had to close for renovation. It was due to reopen in March this year. But this uber-friendly, family-run hotel doesn’t need a sob story to lure back its many loyal guests. Leave that to its wonderful situation and mesmerising sea views from all of its 14 super-comfy rooms, its excellent, sleep-inducing beds and consistently great local fare. Book early for fresh-out-of-the-water hake and scallops, and other top-quality Cornish produce. All this plus an award-winning wine list, fabulous cocktails, charming staff, easy-breezy service and a lovely, laid-back ambience. It’s not just the locals who can’t wait to get back here.

Dinner, B&B from £205, oldcoastguardhotel.co.uk.

Stoulgrove Country House

Sue Antrum is a natural hostess and welcomes guests with tea and a warmed Welsh cake to her Monmouthshire bed and breakfast. Luxurious without being grand, Stoulgrove is an impressive remodelled Georgian property tucked away beyond electric gates in Woodcroft village, near Chepstow. Three large rooms include a top-floor suite with separate lounge, all with swish Sanderson fabrics and Farrow & Ball paints. The gardens have great views, there are seats and terraces for when it’s hot outside, and a games room with table football, pool and darts board for when it’s not.

B&B from £115 per night, stoulgrovebandb.com.

Ynyshir

Dining is at the heart of Ynyshir – but don’t be fooled by the traditional appearance of this Victorian manor house, hidden away in Powys in rural north Wales. Head chef and owner Gareth Ward is all about invention, bringing a Japanese twist and cutting-edge approach to his cuisine, which includes a staggering 20-course menu. With vinyl records playing, there is a definite rock ’n’ roll vibe in the dining room, but the bucolic location hasn’t been forgotten. Set in 11 glorious acres, the rooms – some of which are in the grounds amid towering eucalyptus trees – capture the essence of the setting with floor-to-ceiling windows, wood-burning stoves and slate features. With five AA Rosettes and one Michelin star under its belt, you could come here simply for the food, but it offers so much more.

Dinner B&B from £300, ynyshir.co.uk.

The Cookie Jar

The plushest room at The Cookie Jar in Alnwick features a walk-in shower beneath a circular stained-glass window

Hotelier Debbie Cook is the proud owner of The Cookie Jar, a welcoming, 11-room boutique hotel in a former convent nestled between Alnwick Castle and the Northumberland market town’s Bailiffgate Museum. 

The Mother Superior category of plushest rooms includes the spacious former chapel, which has a free-standing metal bathtub and walk-in shower beneath its circular stained-glass window.

Popular with walkers and shooting parties, this dapper yet pleasantly down-to-earth hotel has a gun room and kennels. Dogs are welcome in the cosy guest rooms, which are stocked with ground coffee and a jar of moreish cookies. 

Breakfast in the bistro overlooking the terraced garden features a tempting spread of granola, pastries and freshly baked bread, plus the option of hot food, such as locally sourced Craster kippers.

B&B from £165 a night, cookiejaralnwick.com.

The Duncombe Arms

This old pub in Ellastone, on the edge of the Peak District National Park in Staffordshire, has been luring visitors since 1850. But these days, with ten characterful bedrooms up for grabs, the quintessential English inn offers more than just a pint and a smile. While the pub is all flagstone floors, cosy nooks and leather banquettes, guest rooms are light, airy and full of charming details. Cheerful wallpaper from Colefax & Fowler is mix-matched with original art that you can buy, and the French-style bathrooms are stocked with luxurious Bamford products. Head chef Jake Boyce’s menu is bursting with crowd-pleasers – succulent Derbyshire lamb and a magnificent praline soufflé are just two highlights.

B&B from £160 for a king-size double, duncombearms.co.uk.

Tudor Farmhouse

Tudor Farmhouse in Gloucestershire is an award-winning 20-room boutique hotel that draws a repeat crowd 

Husband-and-wife team Colin and Hari Fell have run this award-winning 20-room boutique hotel on the high street of Clearwell in Gloucestershire for 17 years. Their cosy two-rosette restaurant draws a repeat crowd with a creative locally sourced menu from beef and brill to bean croquette.

The Loft, a separate outdoor cabin, is magazine-chic with Monsoon shower, roll-top bath and a hefty guest guide to devour.

As ever, it’s the details that make the place shine, such as a reception pleasingly adorned with maps and rugs piled up for guest picnics – do order a hamper for a riverside champagne lunch!

Dinner B&B from £159, tudorfarmhousehotel.co.uk.

Knockinaam Lodge

Time warp: Guests at Knockinaam Lodge in Dumfries and Galloway can stay in the Churchill Suite where the former PM fine-tuned the D-Day plans 

On the remote road to Knockinaam Lodge in Dumfries and Galloway, you wonder who would open a hotel in such a place. But where the mainland stops abruptly at the Irish Sea, a wonderfully time-warped country house suddenly appears. It looks on to a private shingle beach and secluded cove for steel-yourself dips and sunset strolls.

Inside, the period lodge feels like Downton Abbey-on-Sea, while the loveliest of the ten rooms come with sleigh beds and roll-top baths. Alternatively, opt for the Churchill Suite, where the former PM fine-tuned the D-Day plans. 

Dinner, B&B from £330 a night, knockinaamlodge.com.

The Fife Arms

Artful:  The hotel bar at the Fife Arms in Braemar features an arching display of antlers and bottles of malt whiskies

This artfully designed hotel at Braemar in the Cairngorms National Park is owned by globally renowned art dealers and philanthropists Iwan and Manuela Wirth.

The recently restored Victorian property showcases thousands of artworks in its 46 bedrooms and public spaces. Among bespoke contemporary works, the collection includes a portrait by Lucian Freud and a Pablo Picasso musketeer.

Scottish game, such as Highland venison, is a speciality in the dining room, and while spa treatments are one way to unwind after walking, so too is taking a seat in The Highland Stag, the hotel bar in which taxidermy, an arching display of antlers and bottles of malt whiskies convey the skills of local artisans.

B&B £340 a night, thefifearms.com.

Baraset Barn

A foodie’s fantasy of a place a (complimentary) bike ride away from Stratford-on-Avon, Baraset Barn in Warwickshire has a setting every bit as impressive as its food. The barn restaurant comes with flagged floors, impossibly high vaulted beamed roof and exposed-brick walls, but has been done out with modern fittings, including statement ceiling lights and fabric chairs. The 16 rooms in a modern ‘barn’ just across a stylish courtyard aren’t bad either: spacious affairs with bursts of colour and floor-to-ceiling windows looking on to a meadow. Add to the mix incredibly attentive staff, a cool decked area for summer meals, plus truly amazing value, and you have the recipe for the perfect stay.

B&B from £120, barasetbarn.co.uk.

Bushmill’s Inn

The Bushmill’s Inn in County Antrim dates from the 17th Century and has the higgledy-piggledy rooms, nooks and crannies to prove it 

There’s character coupled with Irish charm at The Bushmill’s Inn in County Antrim, which dates from the 17th Century and has the higgledy-piggledy rooms, nooks and crannies to prove it (though with 41 bright, modern bedrooms). Refuel in a wooden booth beneath the timbered roof after exploring the Giant’s Causeway and other nearby attractions including Game Of Thrones filming locations and the Carrick- a-Red Rope Bridge. And one of the world’s oldest whiskey distilleries gives tours just down the road.

B&B from £120, bushmillsinn.com.

Griffin Inn  

A good pub is one of the great joys of life; a good pub with rooms – where you can tuck into both the menu and the wine list, safe in the knowledge that your bed is just a few steps away – is the ultimate weekend treat. The views from the two-acre garden at the Griffin Inn in Fletching, East Sussex, are spectacular. Owned by the Pullan family for more than 40 years, there are 13 elegant bedrooms housed in the pub and two adjoining buildings, all in pretty, pastel hues, some with four-posters. In summer, feast on wood-roasted paellas and pizzas from the outdoor oven, and truly mouth-watering puds.

B&B from £100, thegriffininn.co.uk.

The Bell

Eclectic: Pictured is one of the panelled bedrooms at The Bell in East Sussex, a quirky inn with 700 years of success

Hungry travellers have been visiting this quirky venue in Ticehurst, East Sussex, since 1296, and the wooden floor, exposed brick and heavy beams in the bar are pleasingly free of any Farrow & Ball-style makeover. There’s nothing old-fashioned about the food, however, with a locally sourced menu encompassing everything from pub classics to Asian dishes. The seven bedrooms feature an eclectic mix of books, antiques and rich linens, or book a garden lodge with a private firepit. 

B&B from £95 a night, thebellinticehurst.com. 

The Ceilidh Place

The Highlands doesn’t usually stir up images of blockbuster ocean views and imagination-haunting beaches. But Ullapool’s The Ceilidh Place has all that and more on its doorstep.

The family-run hotel, with sparkling views across Loch Broom and the heather-strewn hills of Ross and Cromarty, has an art-filled lounge and a community-run bookshop. Rustic and retro rooms all come with hand-picked libraries with no TVs to distract you.

Foodies will be in their element too. The restaurant makes the best of the fishing fleet anchored out front, with a menu crammed with langoustines, mussels and crab. The hotel also has a soundtrack with the clue in its name: grab a pint, then dance your socks off to a local folk band. 

B&B from £150, theceilidhplace.com.

Strand House

Strand House is located near stunning Portstewart Strand beach in the Northern Irish coastal town of Portstewart

The Northern Irish coastal town of Portstewart is famous for its Atlantic-blasted golf courses and stunning Portstewart Strand beach, but it is also famous for its breakfasts.

The stylish boutique B&B featuring five beach-chic rooms is run by Tom and Ernestine McKeever, who deserve their armful of awards for those breakfasts alone: thick slices of salty bacon and smoked salmon balanced on butter-smothered bread freshly baked by Ernestine herself.

B&B from £130 per night, strandguesthouse.com.

East End Arms

The delightful East End Arms, tucked away in a hamlet just outside Lymington, Hampshire, is owned by John Isley – former bassist of rock band Dire Straits – who has wisely maintained the rustic bar while creating two cosy dining rooms. Food is spectacular and includes Lymington crab and saddle of venison. The Inn’s five rooms are chic in shades of cream and grey, with sumptuous beds.

B&B from £125, sawdays.co.uk.

Wash House Studio

Cute: Wash House Studio in Orford offers a self-contained studio for two and is a great base for exploring 

In the Suffolk village of Orford, breakfast at the Wash House Studio is a hamper stuffed with home-made jams, local apple juice and fresh bread and pastries from the nearby award-winning Pump Street Bakery.

The self-contained studio for two is a converted 19th Century coastguard’s wash house, and so pretty you’ll instantly wish you were an artist practising your watercolours in the wildflower meadow opposite.

From the studio you can take a stroll to Orford Castle ruins and then explore Orford Ness nature reserve.

Two nights £235, orfordwashhouse.co.uk.

The Oyster Smack Inn

Down the coast in Essex, Burnham on Crouch is one of the most beautiful places you’ve never heard of. Unless you’re a yachtie, in which case you’ll know all about the tiny waterfront town’s 100-plus listed Georgian buildings, thriving sailing scene and RSPB-owned Wallasea Island wetlands.

At its heart is the Oyster Smack Inn, a historic 19th Century pub with rooms. The owner, chef Trevor Howell, serves local seafood and seasonal farm produce in the packed-with-locals restaurant, which is run like clockwork by friendly, super-organised manager Dasha Dydko.

B&B from £70, theoystersmackinn.co.uk

Chapel House

A smart, red-brick Georgian building in a commanding position in Penzance – mere steps from the seafront – Chapel House has palm trees, ‘Cornish exotics’ in the garden and a lovely sea-facing terrace. Inside, the six-bedroom hotel blends style with elegant simplicity. Large, airy rooms take full advantage of the stunning light the area is famous for, while the trad-meets-mid-century furniture is utterly chic. Sumptuous guest rooms have sea views, oak beds, vast baths and/or waterfall showers.

Across the courtyard, two Scandi-esque ‘super-suites’ have kitchenettes and state-of-the-art wetrooms. Owner Susan Stuart has poured her passion into this place and serves scrumptious meals of local produce at communal tables. Later, graze on cake after a dip in the hot tub overlooking the harbour and shimmering Mount’s Bay.

B&B from £150, chapelhousepz.co.uk.

Dunstane Houses

Sheer indulgence: Dunstane Houses, located outside Edinburgh city centre, has 15 rooms with walk-in showers and copper baths

Here, morning porridge comes laden with heather honey and cream, or served the traditional Scottish way, with water and salt. This Victorian mansion outside Edinburgh city centre is a five-star showcase for Scottishness. There are 70 different malt whiskies behind the wood-panelled bar as well as Scottish gins and craft beers.

The food is resolutely Scottish too, with haggis bon bons, shellfish and cheese, but it’s served in a relaxed, all-day setting. Sofas may be covered in Orkney tweed but there’s nothing stuffy about this hotel; it’s a passion project, pure, simple and fun.

Orkney-born owners Shirley and Derek Mowat have even managed to source whisky-scented toiletries. In the 15 brilliantly comfortable rooms, from doubles to vast suites, tartan has its place but so does sheer indulgence, with walk-in showers and copper baths. All beds have Vispring mattresses on the basis that if they’re good enough for the Queen, they’re good enough for the Dunstane’s guests.

In 2018, the Mowats bought the equally grand house opposite, so now there are 35 rooms. Two weeks before the lockdown, Dunstane won the Best Hotel Experience in VisitScotland’s Thistle awards.

B&B from £157, thedunstane.com.

Lakeside Hotel

On the most beautiful and serene corner of Windermere, the Lakeside would be a winner from its setting alone. Once a 19th Century coaching inn with a wraparound conservatory, wide grass lawns lead straight to the water.

It doesn’t sell itself cheap, nor is it extortionate. Always privately owned, the Lakeside is comfortable with tradition but it has moved with the times by incorporating a spa and indoor swimming pool. There are bike racks and a rowing boat for guests; paddle boarders and wild swimmers have also joined the Lakeside regulars in recent years. Staff are just as loyal – many have notched up more than 30 years’ service.

Above all, it’s a welcoming place for couples and multi-generational families, as well as locals who use the hotel’s moorings to pop over by boat for Sunday lunch. The main restaurant is one of the area’s best, with tasting menus and chateaubriand, but there’s also another more casual restaurant and in summer, tables spill out on to the lawn, especially for afternoon tea.

The Lakeside & Haverthwaite steam railway is just outside the hotel, as is the pier for the Bowness steam ferry.

Of the 75 rooms and suites, ground-floor rooms have their own terraces with tables and chairs; there are family suites too. Some rooms have been adapted for people with mobility impairment and like everything at the Lakeside, it’s been subtly done to look effortless.

B&B from £245, lakesidehotel.co.uk.

The Bridge House

Vintage style: The Bridge House in Ross-on-Wye is a stylish getaway that feels like a private club. Pictured is the charming dining room 

Guests can enjoy outstanding views over the sparkling River Wye from the B&B (stock image)

This B&B in Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire, feels more like a private club. The eight rooms are stylish, and some come with four-poster beds and free-standing baths. Owners Kathryn and Kevin Whyte are great hosts, too, with fuss-free, friendly service – they will organise anything from fishing to balloon rides for guests.

Help yourself to an aperitif from the honesty bar or enjoy the lovely gardens with outstanding views over the sparkling River Wye.

B&B from £105 a night, bridgehouserossonwye.co.uk.

  • All prices per room, per night, unless otherwise stated.

Contributors: Angelina Villa-Clarke, Sarah Turner, Jane Knight, Wendy Gomersall, Jennifer Cox, Vicki Reeve, Stuart Forster, Annabelle Thorpe and Mike MacEacheran.

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