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We found A&K first rate when I worked with Rob Mason in organising our trip to Russia in 2014 so decided to use A&K again for our trip this time to India. The first trip boosted our confidence in your company.Our Guide in St. Petersburg was perfect! The hotel was lovely in that it was of a very high standard but also very historic and in keeping with the beauty of the City. All this has boosted our confidence to try India with A&K.
- PF, Nottingham
Here's a selection of some recent articles to whet your appetite:
ROMA. Amor spelt backwards
By Rebecca Cox and Ellie Hughes, Europe Sales Team
The perfect escape from the British rain, Rome is a great city break no matter what time of year. With very mild winters we found it to be sunny and quiet during our visit in January, and would definitely recommend it for a romantic getaway during spring or autumn.
As you approach the city centre, you will bathe in the magnificence of Rome’s monuments as they rise before you. Greeted with a very welcome glass of Prosecco at the Palazzo Manfredi, our home for the night, we were awed by the hotel’s amazing views of the Colosseum and the ruins of the gladiator’s changing rooms.
The hotel represents the perfect location for a city break in Rome, and their Michelin star Aroma restaurant is the go-to place for romance in Rome. Having been the location of over 250 proposals since the restaurants opening, with its splendid views it really wasn't difficult to see why. What’s more, the friendly team of staff will create amazing food for you and your loved one, we suggest sampling the seasonally changing tasting menu over a glass of Italian wine.
Should you need to stretch your legs, walk to Campidoglio and take a moment to admire the impressive Roman Forum, before descending the hill to take a seat and listen to the buskers play.
The next day, after a relaxing lie-in, sip your morning coffee, watching Rome wake up and come to life again from the excellent vantage point Palazzo Manfredi provides. After a delicious breakfast, take the opportunity to explore this incredible city by taking a walking tour.
Our guide, Wally, a very warm, enchanting Italian woman with a fascinating knowledge of Rome helped us to fall in love with the city (not that that was a very difficult task)! She describes the role of a guide as “translating the immediate sensation given by looking at a work of art or monument because everything is symbolic”. We really felt that without Wally, we wouldn’t have been able to see as much of Rome as we did and learn so much. With the additional aid of our private driver Lionel, whose permit allows true ‘insider access’ as the vehicles Abercrombie & Kent use are able to drive almost anywhere in the city, we were able to explore the Colosseum, the Forum, the Vatican, see the iconic Swiss Guards, marvel at the incredible Pantheon, go to the Trevi and visit world-famous piazzas, such as Navona and Spagna. Of course, there is even more to Rome than the history, you can’t forget the shopping!
As tempting as it was to browse the array of designer shops for the day, we instead stopped for a delicious lunch at the Hotel De Russie. Just meters from the bustling Piazza di Popolo, the terrace gardens here are a hidden gem, a total oasis of calm in this lively city. Stop for a cocktail amidst the flowers, and possibly buy a bunch for your loved one from their in-house florist, Sebastian.
After lunch, we recommend taking a relaxing stroll down Via di Condotti or di Corso selecting yourself a treat from one of Rome's ultra-stylish boutiques, such as Patrizia Pepe. Before venturing for a walk along the Tiber and perhaps getting a coffee at Castel Sant'Angelo's café.
For a truly romantic evening, flag down a taxi and head to Colle di Gianicolo, where Italians say is the best place to watch the sun set over this glorious city. When the moon appears, it may or may not hit your eye like a big pizza pie.
Continue exploring the Eternal City by night and opt to take a short walk to the Nonna Betta restaurant, a local favourite. Famous for artichokes, it also provides plenty of other incredible meals. The primi platti here are so incredible, your mouthwatering eyes are certain to make your company jealous! On the way back, take a quick detour to the Trevi and buy some gelato as the crowds are quieter at night and what can you say is more Italian than eating gelato by the Trevi in Rome? Even if when we did it, it was January and we were probably close to becoming gelato ourselves! When in Rome, so the say...
Our second night was spent in the Hotel Rose Garden Palace, where the large whirlpool with waterfall and spa offer a relaxing retreat after a long day exploring. Located close to the Borghese gardens, this is the perfect location from which to start your Sunday walk in the park, hand in hand. We recommend stopping to admire the incredible collection of artwork by the most celebrated of Italian renaissance artists including Carravaggio and Raphael, housed at Galleria Borghese.
Before you hop on the plane, become a true Pizzaiolo at a traditional pizza-making class at Al Grottino. A trattoria which is adored by the locals! Afterwards, enjoy a pizza of your making - I recommend a pumpkin and pancetta pizza bianchi!
We bid arrivederci to Italy, not only with a new-found appreciation of the art and architecture of this ancient city, but having fallen in love with the unbelievable cuisine, culture and kindness of the people who live there. So in true Roman style, carpe diem and book yourself a trip to Rome today.
Plan your own Rome or Italian break by contacting on of our Europe specialists on 01242 547934 or enquire online.
A Place in the Sun
When it comes to islands, Sicily is arguably one of the Mediterranean's most spectacular. Crystal clear water, beautiful beaches, archaeological gems and second-to-none culinary delights - prepare to be bowled over! The perfect destinations for foodies, let your taste buds go into overdrive -from the famous chocolate of Modica, pistachio from Bronte, almond sweets from Erice and the islands famous granita (flavoured ice). The landscape, running from valleys to mountains, offering a variety that is unique in Italy.
PALAZZO SCARLATTO, CATANIA
The perfect symphony of contrasts, Palazzo Scarlatto combines modern elements with traditional features that extend from its design to its use -it is great for both summer and winter, with beaches within a 10 minute drive and the ski lifts of Mount Etna just 30km away. Originally an old winery, the villa now blends contemporary interiors with original stone walls and coved ceilings that create an airy yet comfortable feel. With space for up to 20 guests, Palazzo Scarlatto is ideal for groups. Outside, citrus groves frame the large swimming pool and form a natural border to the garden in which dining under the stars is a must. For day trips and excursions, it barely takes half an hour to reach Taormina, Sicily's centre for the international jet-set, and Catania, a town with UNESCO listed historic quarter and plenty of outstanding restaurants.
Bedrooms: 10, Sleeps: 20
CASA OLIVO, CEFALU
Surrounded by olive groves and affording spectacular sea views, this stunning and well-presented three bedroom property is spread across one main house and two annexes, making it ideal for a group of friends travelling together. With the beautiful Sicilian summers in mind, Casa Olivo has been designed for outdoor living, with an impressive pool and plenty of relaxation spaces that allow for independence. The outside dining with seating for up to 10 people is perfect to finish the day with a barbecue, enjoying the sunset while the pizza bakes in the built-in oven. The famous seaside resort of Cefalu can be reached within a short drive and offers sandy beaches, a picturesque historic centre, a fine Norman cathedral and excellent Sicilian food.
Bedrooms: 3, Sleeps: 6
From beautiful scenery to warm Mediterranean hospitality, Croatia is a country full of undiscovered, treasures. Whilst Game of Thrones fans will recognise Dubrovnik as the fictional city of King's Landing, the appeal of Croatia extends way beyond its TV showcasing. Dramatic mountains, crystal clear waters, medieval cities, great food and friendly locals… what are you waiting for?
RAY RESIDENCE, DUBROVNIK
There is hardly a better view to be found over the Mediterranean and the Old Town of Dubrovnik than the one from Ray Residence. Perched on the cliffs above the clear, turquoise sea, this exceptional villa guarantees complete relaxation and privacy in a breathtaking setting. Featuring a spa that boasts sauna, pool, gym and cardio area, the villa caters to all tastes, from active holidays to wellbeing breaks. The extensive terraced garden stretches out to the seafront and grants direct access to the water. Scenic terraces and a pergola offer plenty of space for a leisurely lunch or simply a good glass of wine from the private cellar with a selection of exclusive vintages.
VILLA OAZA, HVAR
Within walking distance to the centre of the sought-after town of Hvar, Villa Oaza combines traditional Baroque features with modern design elements to create a truly luxurious holiday experience. Sprawling over 650m² on three floors, Villa Oaza boasts a wellness area with sauna, pool, Jacuzzi and massage room for up to 10 guests. All five bedrooms benefit from their own ensuite bathrooms and are spread out over the first floor and ground floor, ideal for families or a group of friends. Whilst the villa offers plenty of reasons to stay inside, it is perfectly set within the town centre and it only takes a few steps out of the door to reach the waterfront and main promenade of Hvar.
We have a fantastic portfolio of villas and ski chalets. Please call our travel specialists on 01242 547 705 for more information or visit akvillas.com
Europe: Spring is in the air
The sun is creeping through the clouds and the blossom is starting to flower: blow away the winter blues with a spring break in Europe, the perfect kick start to your summer, and with the Euro currently in favour there hasn't been a better time to travel than now. If all this talk of Valentine's Day has got you in the mood for romance then look no further than the European shores for a starry-eyed break. Need a holiday, but have the kids in tow? No problem. One of the deal-breakers for those with young families is that space on holiday to get a good night's sleep is vital, yet it's not ideal to have little ones in their own room down the corridor. Rocco Forte Hotels, a firm A&K favourite in Europe, will guarantee interconnecting rooms at time of booking should they be available so that you can rest easy knowing that you can be disturbed at any time of the day or night, while retaining your own peace and quiet. Book a stay in a Rocco Forte Hotel & we will guarantee that your interconnecting room request will be granted.
With lashings of culture and the most outstanding scenery, Austria has long been on the grand tour of destinations that must be visited when in Europe. Whether it is glittering Vienna or bucolic Salzburg with its hills and beautiful lakes on its doorstep, Austria offers much more than a whistle-stop city break for music or Christmas markets, it's practically perfect in the spring. While the lure of Sachertorte and hot chocolate is perfect for snuggling up against an autumnal or wintery chill, in spring the hills are alive (yes, with the sound of music) and many festivals, such as Osterfestspiele at Easter, draw crowds from all around.
Book now and stay for four nights but pay for three at the Hotel Sacher Salzburg.
Home to Casanova and Romeo & Juliet, you couldn't find anywhere much more romantic than Italy, but have you thought of seeing it in a different light? Perhaps Italy's most famous export, its food, is second to none, and there's nothing like wandering the back streets of Rome, Naples or even Florence to find tiny trattorias and welcoming gelaterias for a taste of the real Italy. We can take you to the finest markets that only locals know about, where we can help you select the best produce before a cooking class with a renowned chef; what a way to add a new dish to your repertoire. For Florence as a family, stay at the Rocco Forte Savoy and upon arrival each child will receive a VIP kid's card. With many interconnecting room options this is our family go to in the city. Head to Sicily with the kids and you'll find family bliss at Verdura Resort; the family-friendly resort is replete with in-room bath toys, a temperature tester and plenty of bubbles while teddy bears and homemade cookies with milk are all part of the little one's turndown service. In Rome, the Hotel de Russie has a hidden secret - a garden that is a WWF butterfly oasis, with space for children to play and explore yet still to be in the heart of the city.
Stay three nights and pay for two at the Hotel Brunelleschi in Florence or Hotel Castello di Casole in the heart of the Tuscan countryside - or why not make a week of it and do both!
St Petersburg has long been a firm favourite with A&K; not only as we have an office in the city but also due to the newly-opened Faberg� Museum being high on all our must-visit lists (especially for those of us who haven't headed north yet). During spring the ice and snow may still linger but the days get lighter and the dazzling fountains at Peterhof open in May, heralding the official start to spring. We'd recommend the city's newcomer for a luxurious and relaxing stay: the Four Seasons Lion Palace. Want the inside scoop? Just ask Rob in the Europe team: he's still talking about his stay here and will happily provide recommendations for St Petersburg and beyond. If you've kids in tow then look no further than the Hotel Astoria St Petersburg. Located in St Isaacs Square, the Astoria is as central as you can get, with the added bonus of Teddy Turndown Service (with little dressing gowns and slippers) and breakfasts that will set even the fussiest eaters up for the day.
Munich may not be high on your list of family destinations but bear with us. Packed with culture and child-friendly sights, Munich is an architectural delight. The Church of the Asam Brothers is one of the finest examples of Baroque architecture in Europe, and the Neo-Gothic town hall features an 80m clock tower where mechanical figures of knights fight a daily tournament. Due to its magical beauty, Neuschwanstein Castle in the nearby countryside attracts many visitors from near and far, and is best visited early before it gets too busy (try the spring). Looking more like a stage set than a real palace, it is no wonder Walt Disney used it as the model for his Sleeping Beauty castle and later Disneyland castle itself. The Rocco Forte Charles Hotel is child-friendly from the outset, with a ladder to aid them getting to the reception desk and a cuddly Charly lion in your room, as well as children-friendly spa treatments, not forgetting those interconnecting rooms.
Seville has an average temperature of 18 degrees in April, making it far preferable to the damp and drizzly affair we usual endure in the UK. With the start of the British Airways direct route on the 26th February this dazzling city with its imposing architecture and outstanding tapas is an ideal break. The Alfonso XIII in the heart of the city is walking distance to the shops, amazing delis and all important tapas bars.
To create your own European adventure enquire online or call 01242 547 703
It may be only October, but to get the best deal on a Christmas break now is the time to book. As integral to Christmas as turkey and disappointing cracker jokes, Christmas markets are fabulously festive and the ideal way to escape the madness at home. Here are our top five breaks.
Charming Prague's fairytale backdrop of cobbled streets and elaborate architecture makes for a magical Christmas setting. With a history spanning ten centuries, a host of superb hotels and a wonderful classical music scene, the jewel of the Czech Republic is both a joy to explore and easy to reach thanks to short flight times from the UK, making it the perfect festive break. Prague's Christmas markets, or Vánocní trhy, are the country's most impressive, lighting up the sky and the towering buildings of Old Town Square and St Wenceslas Square, selling local crafts, wooden toys and traditional food.
Just a short hop on the Eurostar, Paris is the perfect destination to escape to for a festive holiday, and ideal for families. Little ones will enjoy sipping chocolat chaud in its many cafes, twirling on the pop up Christmas carousels and admiring the lights adorning Boulevard Haussmann. The Champs Elysees Christmas Market has improved in recent years to include artisanal food producers, shucking oysters, roasting chestnuts and stands whipping up freshly made crepes. After taking your fill, try the ice skating rink on - yes, on - the first floor of the Eiffel Tower.
Romantic Salzburg is famous for its festivals all year round, and Christmas is certainly no exception. Dating back to the 15th century, its Christmas festivities are located at the foot of the Hohensalzburg Fortress and include choral singing, Alpine wares and nativity exhibits. On Mirabell Square you can sample culinary delicacies such as Sacher-Torte and mulled wine, while perusing lovingly decorated stalls. Getreidegasse, where Mozart was born and lived, is bustling with shops and restaurants serving nockerl and strudel; Café Tomaselli is where you'll find the best hot chocolate.
Berlin's modern, sophisticated vibe lends itself to an exciting city break any time of the year, but the city still embraces Christmas traditions with gusto. Boasting over 50 Christmas markets, from the trendy to the unashamedly naff, there's a taste to suit everyone. Breitscheidplatz is home to one of the city's most popular markets and is dominated by a 20m high Christmas tree; WeihnachtsZauber is brilliant for food, offering roasted almonds, bratwurst and the ever-popular Glühwein.
Scandinavia is becoming an increasingly popular holiday destination and Stockholm's wintry landscape only enhances the city's chocolate-box buildings and cobbled alleyways. Gamla Stan (Old Town) is a slice of genuine Stockholm Christmas; the little red stalls crowd into the colourful square, selling traditional Swedish products like gingerbread, cheeses, crafts and the inescapable glögg. Spread over 14 islands, Stockholm is a delight to explore, and the winding streets of the Old Town are packed with eclectic cafes, bars and authentic Scandi shops, with the famous Sami patterns adorning everything from sweaters to baubles.
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To find out more about our Europe team, click on the consultant links below or call them on 01242 547 703 or enquire online
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Jon Dunne's client writes; “I would like to thank all the team on Sanctuary Sunboat IV for their exceptional and outstanding care during my seven-night cruise. For your future clients, I can assure you that the security was first-class. Thank you to everybody at Abercrombie & Kent for a marvellous holiday.”
- SW, London