In which we present a regular round-up of news from the world of Grown-up Travel
The deep south (of France) by train
Considering how close are Britain and France – the White Cliffs of Dover stand just 21 miles from Cap Gris Nez – you can fly to an implausible number of French airports from the UK. Even in the bleakness of early December, before the ski season flights to Chambéry and Grenoble begin, I can count 18 destinations from London airports alone, from Bergerac to Tours.
Allow me to add the “Swiss” airport of Basel (deep inside French territory, connected to the rest of Switzerland only by a narrow umbilical known as the Route Douanière) and Geneva (the main airport for the French Alps). With a scattering of destinations such as Rennes, refreshingly served only from airports outside London, there are about two dozen alluring villes to which you can fly even in the lowest of seasons.
All of which presents a problem for Eurostar. Less than a year after the train operator started services through the Channel Tunnel from London to Paris and Brussels, an odd little airline called easyJet started. While Eurostar now dominates the market between the capitals of Britain, France and Belgium, it has always had a problem taking people further. The budget airlines have proved extremely successful in connecting airports across the UK with cities scattered across France, at fares that looked frankly unfeasible when Eurostar first put its business plan together.
Only one train connection a day between London and Nice (the 8.31am from St Pancras) can get you to the Côte d’Azur in under nine hours, while a dozen jets are lined up to get you there in two hours – with the added bonus that Nice airport is at the west end of the Promenade des Anglais. The train journey could be accelerated to eight hours if Eurostar ran a direct train, but the firm has correctly observed that this would constitute the fast track to penury.
Top 10 Los Angeles hotels: Options for all budgets
A new Top 10 hotels list for Los Angeles gives travelers of every budget an option, with rates ranging from about $150 a night for a basic room to thousands of dollars for swanky suites.
The list was compiled for USA TODAY’s Hotel Check-In by ReviewPro, a company that calculates hotels’ scores by crunching consumer reviews from web sources such as online review giant TripAdvisor.
The No. 1 spot goes to the basic-looking, independent Magic Castle Hotel in Hollywood.
The most recent review on TripAdvisor says the Magic Castle is “reminiscent of the hotels of the ’50s with the service of yesteryear. Where else do you get white-glove popsicle service poolside?” The hotel includes your Wi-Fi connection in the nightly rate.
Before we get to the full list, here are a few highlights:
Most affordable: The Omni in downtown Los Angeles, where TripAdvisor cites a starting nightly rate of $157.
Most expensive: The posh Four Seasons on palm-tree lined Doheny Drive on the Los Angeles-Beverly Hills border.
Hippest: The Redbury, located in Hollywood almost directly across the street from the landmark Capitol Records tower. Each spacious guest room contains a record player and a selection of vinyl records, and the hotel’s restaurant Cleo with denim-wearing servers is a local favorite in hip Hollywood.
Most pet friendly: The Palomar Los Angeles-Westwood, which is part of the Kimpton hotel chain.
Newest: Mr. C Beverly Hills, a short drive away from the fashionable Rodeo Drive, opened in the summer of 2011 with Italian style from the Cipriani family (known for Harry’s Bar in Venice and restaurants around the world).
Smallest: The contemporary, 49-room Elan Hotel at the crossroads of Beverly Hills and West Hollywood.
Seoul encourages Gangnam Style tourism
A new tourist board video aiming to reveal the “real Gangnam” in Seoul is already enjoying a large following, just days after its release.
Following the extraordinary success of the Gangnam Style song by the South Korean rap artist PSY, the promotional clip was released a week ago by the Seoul Tourism Organisation, and already has more than 300,000 views on the video-sharing website YouTube.
The video is a low-budget play on PSY’s original, underlining foreign misconceptions of the meaning of Gangnam, which has variously been taken to mean active, trend and crazy.
In it, it highlights the appeal of the upmarket Gangnam neighbourhood in the country’s capital city, which features as the backdrop to the original record-breaking YouTube video.
In PSY’s video, which overtook Justin Bieber’s ‘Baby’ on YouTube as the most viewed ever last month, the 34-year-old artist performs his distinctive dance moves in the high-rise neighbourhood to the south of the city.
Since the video’s release in August, it has been viewed more than 880 million times, and also holds the Guinness world record for the most liked song ever with well over five million “likes”.
The Gangnam area’s prodigious development over the last few decades has made it known as one of the richest and most influential areas of Seoul. PSY’s video is in fact a parody of the fast-living, flashy lifestyle for which Gangnam residents have a reputation – but that has not stopped tourism officials from trying to capitalise on its success.
The world’s 22 worst travel tips
From arming yourself to avoiding cannibalism, well-wishers love to weigh in on travel plans.
Travel tips can come in handy, but what about ill-advised and just plain weird warnings?
We’ve pulled together some of the worst travel advice offered to travellers below.
Have you ever been given terrible travel advice? Leave a comment.
@faveplaceSsue said she was told to buy travellers checks on her trip but found them a “royal pain”.
Andy Hayes: “‘Buy expensive luggage.’ There doesn’t seem to be a relationship between luggage price and quality.”
@JimODonnell2: “Shouldn’t you take a gun?” – mum.
@TravelingAnna: “They eat people over there, you know.” I swear a remote family member said this about the South Pacific.
Trina Enriquez: “There’s no way I’m flying out of the country with all of these terrorist threats. I’m staying right here in the US of A.”
@TravelEditor: “Why go to a foreign country when you can visit the Disney replica instead? It’s safer.”
@deliciousbaby: “A travel agent recommended that we take a bus from Zimbabwe to Namibia. It’s routed through a war zone (Caprivi Strip).”
@AnjaniLadki: “‘Book a hotel when you get there.’ I hate doing that! It’s a waste of time, energy and it’s stressful.”
@anorthernnomad: “‘You don’t need to book a hostel in advance for a weekend in Amsterdam.” That resulted in 1 night in sketchiest hostel ever and 1 in the train station!”