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The Sunday Times Travel - 17 December 2017

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December 17, 2017
The
coolest
new hotels
for 2018
8
A warming
winter
weekend
in Lyons
6
Le Snooc:
the latest
craze in
the Alps
7
TRAVEL
SECTION OF
THE YEAR
Hold
on
tight
Hannah Summers
has found the
world’s most
thrilling tropical
island — and
you’ll never
guess where it is
2 December 17, 2017 The Sunday Times
Travel
THIS EXHIBIT’S
JUST THE TIP OF
THE FATBERG
DUNCAN
CRAIG
Assistant
Travel Editor
R
emember the “monster”
fatberg? The foul, congealed
mass of oil, grease, human
waste, nappies, wet wipes
and yet more wet wipes was
discovered in a sewer in Whitechapel, east
London, in September. It was repellent,
enormous (130 tons) and oddly
compelling. You couldn’t help but stare.
Well, that’s what the Museum of
London is banking on, having calved off
a chunk to go on display next year.
It’s part of the museum’s year-long
City Now City Future season, looking into
how we’re turning our urban areas into
steaming, clogged-up swamps of garbage
and detritus. (I paraphrase.) “Everything
about the fatberg is challenging,
especially collecting and curating it,”
the museum said. “But we can’t shy away
from engaging with the challenges this
city faces.”
Which is all very admirable, but I just
want to go along, point and go “Urrgh”.
I bet I won’t be the only one, if the long
tradition of head-scratchingly loopy stuff
being deemed worthy of museum
inclusion is anything to go by. Judged in
those terms, in fact, this is little more than
the tip of the fatberg.
You can stare at entire rooms of
noodles at the Instant Ramen Museum,
in Osaka. You can learn about the history
of embalming and see West African
caskets shaped like Mercs at Houston’s
National Museum of Funeral History.
The British Lawnmower Museum, in
Southport, meanwhile, has Nicholas
Parsons’s secateurs and the Qualcast
Panther that belonged to Jean Alexander,
Coronation Street’s Hilda Ogden.
At the Museum of Broken Relationships,
in Zagreb, which pairs breathtakingly
mundane household items with tales of
couples’ break-ups, you can see an iron
donated by a chap from Stavanger,
Norway. The caption reads: “This iron
was used to iron my wedding suit. Now it
is the only thing left.” Cheery.
You’ll want to get a look at the plastic
porta-potty at the Museum of Toilets,
in Delhi. So, too, the largest Pringle
BRIEFING
HIGH SPIRITS AT WEST COUNTRY AIRPORT
Exeter airport is the happiest in the
world, according to a report by
HappyOrNot, the Finnish company that
operates those smiley-face customer
satisfaction buttons in departure
lounges. It scored 89%, putting it top of
a list of 160 airports across 36 countries.
Cork, in Ireland, and Rome Fiumicino
came joint second, followed by Dallas
Fort Worth, in the US. HappyOrNot
declined to reveal which airports were
at the bottom of the list.
ever made at the Idaho Potato Museum.
And you won’t want to miss the penis
of a sperm whale at the Icelandic
Phallological Museum. (You couldn’t,
even if you tried.)
London has a particularly strong
tradition of bonkers museums and
exhibits. Even if it managed to suspend
the entire 820ft-long fatberg from its
ceiling wrapped in tinsel, the Museum
of London still wouldn’t be the capital’s
weirdest. That title belongs to the
Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities, in
Hackney, a treasure trove of whimsical,
bafflingly random stuff in the tradition
of the 17th-century Wunderkammer.
Once you’ve worked your way around
rooms full of shrunken heads, mummified
mermaids, dodo bones and a jar of what
is alleged to be Amy Winehouse’s poo,
you can enjoy your complimentary cup
of tea. (If you’re feeling up to it.) The
museum gets hundreds of visitors
a week and has a 76% “excellent” rating
on TripAdvisor. “Magnificently sordid,”
wrote one reviewer.
Which proves that people will gawp
at, well, pretty much anything. And why
not? All too often we visit museums to
look at what we feel we should be
viewing — or, worse, what others feel we
should be viewing.
Viktor Wynd rails against this tendency
for contemporary museums “to put
the world into neat little labelled
drawers dictated by an obscurantist elite
establishment... obsessed with a
pedantic overspecialisation of so-called
knowledge”. Yeah, what he said.
There’s no doubt that putting
something, anything, on a pedestal
imbues it with a certain gravitas. Witness
the teenage prankster who carefully
placed his glasses on the floor of San
Francisco Museum of Modern Art last
year, then tweeted pictures of crowds
earnestly pondering them, discussing
them — and even photographing them.
Put it on display and they will come.
And rightly, I say. Anyone who has
dutifully followed a guide around
museum after dusty museum in some
foreign capital will know that what the
curators think is important and
interesting is often neither. That lump
of fatberg will tell the visitor more about
the realities of life in London than any
number of dusty Victorian relics. And it’s
a lot more fun.
So hats off to the fatberg — a breath of
not-so-fresh air in the frequently stuffy
world of museology. Magnificently
sordid indeed.
CITY BEACHES FOR ROME
The banks of the Tiber are to be turned
into an urban beach next summer under
plans to revitalise Rome’s riverfront. A
2½-acre area downstream of Ponte
Marconi, south of the city centre, has
been earmarked for development, with a
sandy beach, deckchairs and showers
among planned attractions. “The Tiber is
too often experienced by Romans as a
wound, rather than being perceived as
a living and pulsating part of our city,”
said Virginia Raggi, the city’s mayor.
BIG
SHOT
TALL, DARK
STRANGERS
Congratulations
to Andy Howe,
this week’s winner
of our Big Shot
competition, in
association with
Audley Travel
(01993 838000,
audleytravel.com).
His sunset shot
of giraffes in the
Olare Motorogi
Conservancy, in
the Masai Mara,
Kenya, wins him a
£250 voucher —
and makes the
shortlist for the
main prizes,
which include a
13-day trip to
Mexico. Upload
your shots at
thesundaytimes.
co.uk/thebigshot
or enter on
Instagram, using
the hashtag
#STBigShot. Tag
us @sundaytimes
travel
l This week’s
competition closes
at 11.59pm on
Wednesday. Ages
18+; UK and RoI
only. T&Cs at the
sundaytimes.co.uk/
travelphotocomp
LETTERS
Revved up
over France
In reference to Duncan
Craig’s article last week
(“French roads drive me to
distraction”), sadly the author
of the piece fails to understand that once
one enters France, all bets are off
regarding what is and is not de rigueur
when driving. Surely the point of going
there in the first place is to experience a
more sedentary pace of life. The problem,
I suspect, is that we Brits are so used to
living life at 100mph, we fail to take the
opportunity to slow down a little, even
when on holiday. Embrace the journey
south to the Dordogne and try not to treat
it as another A-to-B slog that needs to be
ticked off. That said, I doubt the proposed
speed-reduction measure will do much to
reduce road deaths in France. Tailgating
is a national pastime.
Anthony Martin, via thesundaytimes.co.uk
LETTER
OF THE
WEEK
French drivers tend to consider
themselves the true swashbuckling
descendants of the Musketeers — but
replacing swords with motor vehicles.
Otto Leipzig, via thesundaytimes.co.uk
Living in France for 16 years, I feel
qualified to make some comments about
road deaths. First, a huge number of
accidents on French roads (particularly in
the south) are suffered/caused by scooter
drivers ignoring virtually all the rules.
Second, while pedestrian crossings in the
UK are protected by “no parking” zigzag
lines, with severe fines for transgression,
in France crossings are painted willy-nilly
by the council, with marked parking right
up to the crossing, preventing visibility of
the pedestrian.
David, Nice, via thesundaytimes.co.uk
Duncan Craig is such an old moaner.
The proposed new French speed limit
on ordinary roads is the same as we
have here in Ireland (80kph). Only on
motorways do we get to the dizzy heights
of 120kph. Driving at 80kph means you
get to fifth gear at most, but fuel
consumption is terrific. Sit back and enjoy
the rural roads of France and Ireland.
Dave Wright, Co Wexford
One of the main causes of accidents on
French roads is large HGVs — often with
foreign plates from eastern Europe,
Spain and Portugal — avoiding toll
motorways. Toll motorways are a stupid
idea, pushing the most dangerous vehicles
off the safest roads.
M Sheridan, via thesundaytimes.co.uk
I love driving in France: the country roads
are empty and, even if you have to slow
to 20mph through the villages, there is
plenty to see. It’s high time the UK speed
limits were also lowered on rural roads.
Bryan Attewell, via thesundaytimes.co.uk
GREAT BRITISH BREAKS
BAKEWELL
ALAMY
COVER PHOTOGRAPH: FRANK HEUER/LAIF/CAMERA PRESS
The Sunday Times December 17, 2017 3
Shivani Ashoka
romps around Mr
Darcy’s Peak District
neighbourhood
WHY?
Best known for its signature treat, the
pretty town of Bakewell is within striking
distance of some of the most spectacular
stately homes in Britain, and surrounded
by superior walking country. It’s thought
to be the model for Lambton, in Jane
Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. The area is
at its picturesque best under clear winter
skies and a sparkling frost.
WHAT YOU DO
I hate French road signs that helpfully
tell you which way to go after you have
already taken the wrong one. Merde.
David Burch, via thesundaytimes.co.uk
Driving from Sweden to the UK to see
my relatives means a fair few miles in
France. Sweden has low speed limits,
so I am used to barely getting into fifth
gear without stalling. And, after the
wide-awake terror of German roads,
France is so relaxing.
Alan McRae, via thesundaytimes.co.uk
ICELAND ADVENTURES
Sarah Marshall’s article on Iceland
(“The Big Trip”, last week) reminded us
of the time when our son texted us from
his university room in Bath, announcing
WRITE TO
TRAVEL
AND WIN
£250
TOWARDS
A PRIDE OF
BRITAIN
HOTELS
STAY
that the northern lights were clearly
visible across the whole of the UK that
February night. Sadly, they were not to
be seen at all from our vantage point on
the Snaefellsnes peninsula, in Iceland.
Jane Schofield, London
Going to Iceland is like arriving on
another planet. The first time we
visited was in June, when we experienced
the extraordinary sight of the sun setting
and then immediately reappearing
after only a few moments of twilight.
From the stunning waterfalls to the
spectacular geysers that spontaneously
erupt as you stand and watch, you feel
you are on a part of the earth that is
still forming.
Kay Bagon, Hertfordshire
Congratulations to Anthony
Martin, who wins a £250
voucher towards a stay,
meals, drinks or spa
treatments at any
member of the
Pride of Britain
Hotels collection
in England,
Scotland and
Wales, all of which
specialise in the “art
of great hospitality”
(prideofbritainhotels.com).
For a chance to win the
same prize in a future issue,
email your stories and
comments to travel@
sunday-times.co.uk —
or write to Travel,
The Sunday Times,
1 London Bridge
Street, London
SE1 9GF. Please
include your name,
address and
telephone
number. Letters
may be edited.
Prize T&Cs: ages 18+; UK residents
only; the prize is non-transferable and
subject to availability; full T&Cs at
thesundaytimes.co.uk/travelletters
Start with a walk to Chatsworth, via the
walled village of Edensor. From Bakewell,
it’s about five miles, uphill through
woodland and fields, spying black sheep
and, unexpectedly for Derbyshire,
alpacas as you go. In Edensor, detour
to St Peter’s Church to see the grave of
John F Kennedy’s sister Kathleen — she
married into the Cavendish family and is
buried here.
You’ve made it to Chatsworth House,
the remarkable stately pile (and movie
location) that’s been home to the
aristocratic Cavendish family since 1549.
The interior is crammed with art spanning
4,000 years, but before you go in, make
the 400ft climb to the Hunting Tower for
superb views across the estate.
The grandest room is the Painted Hall.
It’s covered in murals depicting Julius
Caesar, though it’s not the temple to the
Roman it appears to be. William Cavendish
got his peerage after backing William of
Orange as ruler in 1688, and Caesar’s trials
and triumphs are supposed to symbolise
those of the king. He never came to see
them, though (£19.90; chatsworth.org).
Another of the area’s film stars, Haddon
Hall, is just down the road in Rowsley.
The Tudors knew how to do fabulous oak
furniture, and this manor has one of the
best-preserved collections in the world. The
guided tour has all the juicy history behind
the radical design of its long gallery, as
well as what Benedict Cumberbatch got
up to while filming Richard III here in 2016
(£14.50; haddonhall.co.uk).
Back in Bakewell, it’s time for pud. The
town has a pretty arched bridge, a buzzy
farmers’ market and cracking pork pies
at Bloomers of Bakewell, but for the
celebrated pudding (not tart — that’ll get
you into trouble), the best spot is the
Old Original Bakewell Pudding Shop,
a tearoom where they’ve been making
them for more than a century (from £5.95;
www.bakewellpuddingshop.co.uk).
A final walk in Matlock Bath, 20
minutes’ drive from Bakewell, will help
you burn off those treats. Start behind the
station and hike up the steep path into
High Tor woods for views of the limestone
crag, Riber Castle and Matlock town. At
the top, you can delve into the Heights of
Abraham, a network of mineral caverns
weaving deep into the hillside (£16;
heightsofabraham.com). Need to warm
up? A drink by the log-burner at the
18th-century White Lion should do the
trick (whitelionstarkholmes.co.uk).
2 miles
DEEP AND CRISP
AND EVEN
The village of
Edensor, on the
Chatsworth
Estate
Edensor
BAKEWELL
Fischer's at
Baslow Hall
Chatsworth
Peacock
at Rowsley
Haddon Hall
Heights
of Abraham
Matlock Bath
WHERE YOU EAT
On the edge of Chatsworth Park,
Fischer’s at Baslow Hall is a charming
blend of chintz and accomplished modern
British cooking. The twice-baked haddock
soufflé is a cracker (three courses from
£45; fischers-baslowhall.co.uk).
In Bakewell, Piedaniel’s does
top-value French food — savoury snail
profiteroles and slow-braised pork belly —
in a smart, buzzy dining room (mains
from £12; piedaniels-restaurant.com).
WHERE YOU STAY
Chatsworth
House is
crammed
with art
spanning
4,000 years
Bang in the middle of Bakewell, the cosy
Rutland Arms Hotel dates back to
1804. This is where Austen is said to
have stayed while writing Pride and
Prejudice (doubles from £72, B&B;
rutlandarmsbakewell.co.uk).
The Peacock at Rowsley has 15
rooms with antiques, plush fabrics and
extraordinarily comfortable beds
(doubles from £205, B&B;
thepeacockatrowsley.com).
Shivani Ashoka was a guest of
visitpeakdistrict.com, visitbritain.com
and the Peacock at Rowsley
4 December 17, 2017 The Sunday Times
Travel
TOM HUGGON
POSTCARD FROM MAURITIUS
ON THE
EDGE
SCHOOL OF ROCKS Hannah gets ready for another descent on a canyoning adventure
There’s more to Mauritius than lazing on the beach. The island’s
interior offers a real adrenaline rush, says Hannah Summers
S
unlight and the spray from a
100ft waterfall are beating down
on our soaked, scrunched-up
faces. Tom’s on one side of the
rock face, I’m on the other and
we’re clinging to our respective ropes like
a couple of inexpert bell-ringers.
Tom, I should clarify, is not my soulmate,
lover or husband — though I should
probably be here on Mauritius with my
partner. It’s that sort of place, enticing
honeymooners to its shores for decades.
There are lots of things I should be
doing on an Indian Ocean island: I should
be admiring my tan lines, rather than the
chafe marks from my wetsuit. I should be
swigging rum instead of mouthfuls of river
water. And I should be reclining on my
lounger, not abseiling down a jigsaw of
waterfalls. But that would be, well, boring.
For all the beaches (200 miles of them),
fancy resorts (I lose count after 150) and
smooching couples (it would be weird to
count them), Mauritius offers more than
loved-up beach breaks. It’s now a hotbed
for adventure, with activities set around
the mountains that crisscross the interior
like wonky teeth, and the waterfalls that
gush through its southwest corner.
Tom and his other half are one of three
couples with whom I’m sharing today’s
six-hour canyoning trip. It will take in five
of the seven Tamarind Falls, with jumping
into rock pools and plenty of swimming as
well as the abseiling.
Our guide, Olivier, checks our ropes,
carabiners and harnesses, gives us a safety
briefing, then we’re off. What follows is
a day of slapstick comedy and mildly
stomach-churning fun. We judder down
soggy ropes into deep plunge pools, cling
onto slippery rocks, scramble beneath
torrents of water and hurl ourselves into
the cool river from 20ft-high rocks.
And while our group may be nimble
and up for a challenge, here in Mauritius
adrenaline-seekers come in all shapes and
sizes. A few months back, Olivier trained
an 86-year-old lady, who had apparently
been lured by the chance to abseil down
Tamarind’s 150ft-high showstopper.
Somewhat tamer is Black River Gorges
National Park, our next destination. We
fancy a sweaty hike with a glimpse of
wildlife, and that’s exactly what we get.
“The beginning is steep, my friends,” our
guide, Yan, tells us. “Go at your own pace.
Listen to the birds. Feel the wind on your
arms. Meditate.” Meditate?
The hike is indeed calming. The slopes
are covered with plump-leaved guava
trees. I don’t see any of the wild pigs and
deer that apparently roam the valley,
but I do spot a macaque and a pink pigeon
— a regal-looking bird with rose-coloured
feathers. And what the four-mile trail
lacks in hiking glute burn, it more
than makes up for with views. Passing
through Bat Valley, with its distinctive
cauliflower-like trees, we finish at a
wild-swimming spot, where we strip to
I should be reclining on a
lounger, not abseiling
down a jigsaw of waterfalls
our cossies and slide into the cooling
mountain water.
While Mauritius is scattered with
mountains, including the Bodyguard,
Ramparts and Three Tits (not named after
birds), it’s Le Morne, on a peninsula in
the southwest corner, that serves up the
most outrageous views. At 6.45am the
next day we’re chucked into the back of
our guide Matthieu’s pickup truck, then
we follow a peaceful track through a
beach-backed forest of spindly filao trees.
Ten minutes later, we’re gazing up at
our end point. A tiny white cross marks
1,640ft of altitude, and the spot where a
group of runaway slaves, the Maroons,
supposedly jumped off the mountain to
avoid being recaptured, unaware of the
abolition of slavery. “That’s some
history,” Matthieu says. “Now for the hike.
Don’t worry, everyone makes it to the top.
Well, almost everyone.”
With that, the entire group speeds off.
It doesn’t last long. Not because it’s
particularly hard — although Tom is quick
to point out my sweat moustache — but
because the forest-covered switchbacks
force you to slow up and take in the
ridiculously pretty views. Below us, a vast
turquoise lagoon is filled with kitesurfers,
while the reef throws up waves beyond.
At halfway, we’re confronted by a
near-vertical rock glowing in the sunlight.
“The Hillary Step of Mauritius,” says
Gunter, who’s dragged his wife up the
mountain for their 25th anniversary. He
may be joking, but it doesn’t look easy.
Thankfully, Matthieu knows what he’s
doing. Over the next hour, we learn how
to scramble, wedging toes and fingertips
into the sloping stone so we can ascend in
a half-climbing, half-leaning fashion.
I’d love to tell you how it looks up there.
But instead I’ll tell you how it sounds.
Whirring and whizzing. A fellow hiker’s
drone is filming the view and we watch
it, transfixed and a little miffed, until he
eventually parks it at our feet and allows
us to gaze in peace. The turquoise,
creams and emeralds of the sea swirl
and mingle below us like a tie-dye sheet.
It’s utterly incredible.
I’ve spent my entire climb up fretting
about how I’ll get down. We take
Matthieu’s recommendation, turn our
backs to the rock and descend the best
way possible: sliding on our bums. It’s
easier than I thought.
Ninety minutes later, we’re sprawled on
the beach in a state of sun-drenched zen.
It may only be 11am, but, hell, I’ve earned
this rum. Pass me another.
Hannah Summers was a guest of Yanature,
which offers guided hikes up Le Morne and
through the Black River Gorges National
Park from £34pp (trekkingmauritius.com);
and Otelair, which has canyoning trips from
£56pp (otelair.com). Western & Oriental
has seven-day breaks in Mauritius, staying
at the Constance Prince Maurice, from
£1,955pp, B&B, including flights and
transfers (westernoriental.com)
SIX OF THE ISLAND’S TOP BEACH HOTELS
For all the fun of the interior,
Mauritius does beaches
brilliantly. We’ve chosen our
favourite hotels on the sand
and given an indication of
room rates, from budget to
luxury — but you'll get
the keenest prices
by booking a
package with
a tour operator
such as
Hayes & Jarvis,
Travelbag or
Tropical Sky.
LA PALMERAIE £
For a no-frills base, try this
boutique spot on the island’s
east coast. The hotel’s
location is its main draw —
inches from the beach and
near another large sweep of
sand at Palmar public beach.
Inside, the 60 white-walled
bedrooms are perked up
with fuchsia cushions and
Moroccan-style lamps —
ask for one on the top floor
for sea views. If the four
restaurants don’t appeal,
mingle with the locals at
Green Island, a laid-back
joint just along the coast.
hotel-palmeraie.com
DINAROBIN
BEACHCOMBER
GOLF RESORT
& SPA ££
Forget gazing
out at that
turquoise
ocean — at the
Dinarobin
Beachcomber
(right) it’s views of Le
Morne that you’ll wake to.
The mountain towers above
the resort’s 172 suites, three
villas and six pools. The
southwest location is ideal
for hiking and kitesurfing,
and the hotel has an
excellent boathouse and
sports centre, with all the
gear to get active. If you’re
more into sunbathing,
move on to its sister resort,
Trou aux Biches, on the
northwest coast, where
you’ll find a lively beach and
one of the best restaurants
on the island.
beachcombertours.co.uk
BAYSTONE BOUTIQUE
HOTEL & SPA ££
For quick access to
the nightlife of
Grand Baie,
try this New
York-style
beachfront pad
on the island’s
northwest
shore. With just
21 bedrooms, it’s
one of the smallest
hotels in Mauritius, but
there’s plenty of action to be
had, including watersports,
complimentary bike hire
and boat trips out to sea.
Almost everything in the
rooms is white — furniture,
floors, walls and sheets —
which gives a fresh, modern
feel, though spill at your
peril. Ask for a room in the
main building for views
over the water.
baystone.mu
CONSTANCE
PRINCE
MAURICE £££
Fancy a stay
on stilts? The
Constance Prince
Maurice (left), on
the northeast coast, is
the only hotel in Mauritius
with overwater villas. The
bad news is, you can’t dive in
— the lagoon is a protected
fish reserve. But the hotel
has a superb beach, a
putting green, a spa, two
18-hole golf courses, tennis
courts and fly-fishing trips at
sunrise. At night, take the
series of wooden pathways
that weave over the water
to the softly lit floating bar
and restaurant.
constancehotels.com
THE OBEROI £££
This classy cluster of 71
terracotta-coloured villas
and pavilions is on
the northwest
coast. The rooms
are decorated
in neutral tones
and have
four-poster
beds and sunken
marble baths.
The resort’s paths
wiggle through 20
acres of colourful gardens
filled with tropical birds and,
if 2,000ft of sandy beach
isn’t enough, there are two
pools to choose between.
In the evening, feast on
grilled fish at On the Rocks,
the hotel’s candlelit
beachside restaurant.
oberoihotels.com
FOUR SEASONS AT
ANAHITA £££
The best golf course on
Mauritius is at the plush Four
Seasons at Anahita (below),
on the east coast. Your first
golf lesson is free at this
90-room secluded resort,
but if you don’t fancy 18
holes, you can snorkel in the
mangroves and on
the nearby reef
with Rick, the
resident marine
biologist, or
laze on one of
several small
beaches. Bag a
beach pool villa
for a plunge pool,
an outdoor shower
and bathrobes so pretty,
you’ll be tempted to slip
one into your suitcase.
Don’t — you can buy them
at the on-site boutique.
fourseasons.com
6 December 17, 2017 The Sunday Times
Travel
THE BIG WEEKEND
L
ILLUSTRATION BY CLARE COLLINS AND JULIAN OSBALDSTONE
yons was recently named
Europe’s leading city-break
destination in the World
Traveller Awards. Glad they’ve
caught up: I’ve been saying
everyone should go for ages. France’s
second city has real substance — grand
rivers, high finance, radical politics (it
was Lyons rebels who first yelled “Live
working or die fighting!”) — but it has
rarely bothered about its appeal to
outsiders, which is half the appeal.
Fact is, there’s a lot for visitors to love,
especially at this time of year. Riversides,
gardens and parks make for bracing
and starkly beautiful walks, there are
world-class museums and shops, but it’s
France’s finest Renaissance centre that
really shines: come evening, the city
lights itself up wondrously and, in the
traditional bouchon restaurants, pots of
beaujolais and rascally food in heaps are
enough to warm anyone’s cockles.
Evening
Take cocktails at the new, central and
discreet Bourbon’s House. It’s a
seductive marriage of French panache
and London lounge (cocktails £10;
bourbonshouse.com). The Rhône side of
Rue de la République throbs with little
streets bustling with nightlife. Dine at the
Brazilian-run Italian Augusto (menus
from £23; augusto-restaurant-lyon.fr). If
you’re of a funky age, head for Maison
Mère, tucked in behind the Martinière
market on Place Gabriel Rambaud. It’s
one of the grooviest bars in Lyons — get
there before 11.30pm or prepare to queue
(free entry; mmlyon.com).
SUNDAY
SATURDAY
Morning
Bang central on the Presqu’île, between
the Rhône and the Saône, is Place
Bellecour. It’s large enough to have
contained the French Revolution. Take an
early coffee at Café Bellecour, frill-free
repair of lawyers and ladies in furs: you’ll
fit right in (espresso £1.60).
Then cross the Saône on Pont
Bonaparte to Vieux Lyon, an unbeatable
Renaissance warren crammed between
the river and Fourvière hill. Silk financed
the fine crush of mansions, courtyards
and inside-outside staircases. To tackle it
best, take the Lyon Food Tour (£62pp;
lyonfoodtour.com). It may sound pricy,
but you get a four-hour tour through the
labyrinth with an English-speaking guide
and, crucially, six tasting stops at proper
Lyonnais bars and food shops. These run
from cheese and charcuterie to plated
specialities in the Fines Gueules bouchon
— one of Lyons’s tie-loosening restaurants
serving traditional dishes of the people.
This is participating, rather than just
sightseeing. Book ahead and gather at
10am on Place Benoît Crépu.
Afternoon
Take the funicular (£2.50) up Fourvière
hill. This area is as vital to Lyons as the
Champs-Elysées is to Paris, and, without
the funicular, a hell of a hike. Thus to
the Notre-Dame basilica: it has a tower
at each corner, so the locals call it an
upside-down elephant. That’s too kind.
It’s more like a vast garden ornament the
wrong way up. The church was promised
to the Virgin Mary if she’d stop Prussian
invaders in 1870. It worked. Who knew the
Madonna could be bribed? The Prussians
were halted and the church was built,
though if they’d rewarded me with an
item of such neo-Byzantine excess, I’d
have been smiting left and right. It needs
visiting, nevertheless, to appreciate the
insanity of 19th-century French church
architecture and for outstanding views.
You’ll maybe see Mont Blanc.
Lyons started on this hill as the Roman
Lugdunum. Back then, the city was the
capital of Gaul, and it retains the remnants
of a theatre and an odeon. Best of all on the
site is the Musée Gallo-Romain, which
tells the classical tale in riveting fashion.
Treasures abound. I was particularly
taken with the cracking mosaics,
including one of Hercules plastered (£6;
museegalloromain.grandlyon.com).
Back down the hill, there may be time
for late shopping. Posh stores — MaxMara,
Sonia Rykiel — cluster around Place des
Jacobins, hipper ones further up the
Presqu’île, in the narrow streets below
Croix-Rousse hill, around the Passage
Thiaffait. Right by the passage, look out
for VDC/B, a showcase for local designers
(villagedescreateurs.com).
LYONS
Roman ruins, cockle-warming grub and world-class
museums. My kind of city, says Anthony Peregrine
River
Saône
Passage
Thiaffait
Carlton
Notre-Dame Vieux
Lyon
Musée
Gallo-Romain
Confluence
400yd
Musée des
Beaux-Arts
Place
Bellecour
Presqu'île
Place des
Jacobins
Comptoir
Abel
Augusto
River
Rhône
Halles
Paul
Bocuse
Musée de la
Résistance et
de la Déportation
GETTING THERE
EasyJet flies to Lyons
from Gatwick, Luton,
Southend, Bristol,
Manchester and Belfast.
Direct Eurostar trains from
London St Pancras (from
4hr 41min) resume on May
4; from £98 return. Until
then, change in Paris or
Lille; from £100 return
(eurostar.com).
WHERE TO STAY
Newest in town, funky and
overwhelmingly organic,
the MOB Hotel, in the
Confluence district, is a
hotel deconstructed and
put back together for
hipsters. Think DJ sets,
young staff and minimalist
rooms (doubles from £87;
mobhotel.lyon).
More traditional is the
Carlton, in a central
location on the Presqu’île,
where the plush rooms
have a red colour scheme
and original tapestries
(doubles from £129;
sofitel.com).
Morning
If it’s sunny, unclip a city bike (£1.30 a
day; velov.grandlyon.com) and pedal
the Rhône banks north to the green and
watery Parc de la Tête d’Or. Real
Lyonnais repair here to jog, walk,
contemplate crocodiles. (They’re penned
in; it’s a zoo.) Pedal on to the Halles
Paul Bocuse, the chicest indoor market
in France, for a seafood lunch — stuffed
clams, say, or scallops — at the Maison
Rousseau stand (two-course lunch about
£20; maison-rousseau.com).
If the weather’s inclement, choose your
subject. Feeling artistic? Head for the
monumental St Pierre abbey, on Place
des Terreaux. There, look out for the
impressionists, Rodin’s Temptation
of St Anthony and, until March 5, a show
comparing 20th-century Mexican and
French art at the Musée des Beaux-Arts
(£10.50; mba-lyon.fr).
Otherwise, head to the Musée de la
Résistance et de la Déportation, in
Klaus Barbie’s former Gestapo HQ. Lyons
played a valiant role in the Resistance; a
painful one in the deportation to camps.
The museum covers the episodes with
clarity and power (£7; chrd.lyon.fr).
Now, try a profoundly warming lunch
of pike dumplings and veal kidneys at
the Café des Négociants, within whose
Second Empire splendour all of Lyons
has been assembling since 1864 (mains
from £19; lesnegociants.com).
Afternoon
Hop on the T1 tram, direction Debourg, to
the Musée des Confluences. You can’t
miss it. At the point where the Saône and
the Rhône meet, it’s either a vast silver
cloud (they say) or all the world’s kitchen
foil crushed together (I say). Within, it is
outstanding, a virtuoso romp through
life and death, evolution, the animal
kingdom, the universe and pretty much
everything else, all in accessible, fun
form. No space here to do it justice. Trust
me and go (£8; museedesconfluences.fr).
Evening
After aperitifs at the retro L’Antiquaire, on
Rue Hippolyte Flandrin (facebook.com/
theantiquaryroom), finish in properly
Lyonnais fashion in another bouchon.
There are dozens. The oldest (1726), and,
usefully, open on Sunday evenings, is
Comptoir Abel, south of Place Bellecour
(mains from £14; cafecomptoirabel.fr).
Please note: Lyonnais cooking can be
full-frontal. Think twice before ordering
tablier de sapeur (tripe), salade de museau
(brawn salad) or andouillette (sausage of
disgusting bits). Bon appétit.
The Sunday Times December 17, 2017 7
SNOOC.SKI
W
atch your backs,
skiers. There’s a new
way to whizz about in
the mountains — and it
takes as little as an
hour to learn how to do it.
Le Snooc, a French invention, works
in two ways. You can use it to go uphill
by splitting it into a pair of rudimentary
touring skis. Stick a grippy slice of fabric
(a “skin”) to the underside of each ski,
grab a couple of telescopic poles for
balance, and — hey, presto — you can walk
up your mountain. Then, at the top, you
peel off the skins, clip one ski on top of the
other and screw a plastic seat into both.
Your skis have become a sledge and you’re
ready to blast back down the slope.
If that sounds much too weird and
Gallic ever to catch on, well, I’m sorry to
disappoint you: it already has. Nearly
100 French resorts have so far agreed to
allow Snoocs onto their lifts and pistes,
and several now offer Snoocing lessons.
One of them is Serre Chevalier, which
is where I went last week for a jolly good
sit-down — and quickly discovered that
the sledging part of this new discipline
isn’t quite as simple as I thought.
“Can we talk about steering again?”
asked my Snooc instructor, Edouard,
as I emerged from a snowdrift of my own
making, 15 seconds into my first descent.
I’d gone flying straight down a steep
slope, failed to steer round a bump and
somersaulted head-first off the Snooc.
It had been snowing overnight and the
mountain was covered in a blanket of
light, fluffy powder. Half of it now seemed
to be down the back of my jacket.
SNOOC ALORS
The latest craze sweeping the French Alps is a
doddle, says Sean Newsom — once you stop giggling
Turns out that you don’t steer by
leaning or jamming your foot into the
slope, as you do on an old-fashioned
sledge. You swing your shoulders instead.
“Pretend you’re Gene Kelly in Singin’
in the Rain,” Edouard advised. “Make a
SIT BACK AND
ENJOY THE RIDE
Clip one ski onto
the other, attach
the seat and you
have a sledge
big shape with your body and the Snooc
will follow.”
He wasn’t kidding. Within an hour, I
was Snoocing about all over the place,
carving turns left and right across Serre
Chevalier’s quieter pistes. I was also
hollering like a nine-year-old. Would I
rather have been skiing? That’s hardly the
point. This is an invention aimed primarily
at non-skiers, who have no other way to
explore a snow-covered mountain with
such control and flexibility.
I’m astonished to say that, for two
mornings in Serre Chevalier, I didn’t
miss “normal” skiing at all. OK, the
Snooc’s rudimentary touring
bindings are too flimsy for climbing
steep slopes. But once Edouard and
I had found a gentle forest track,
Snoocing uphill became just as soothing
and glorious as ski-touring usually is.
Meanwhile, the descents were
pure, effortless fun, though I’d
recommend finding the quietest
pistes possible on which to master your
technique. That means you won’t have to
worry about colliding with unsuspecting
skiers if you mistime your turn.
It’ll also allow you the occasional
moment of speed-freakery — when you
stop carving and point the Snooc straight
downhill. The first time I tried it, I was hit
so hard by helpless, adrenaline-soaked
laughter, I fell off the sledge.
That’s my excuse, anyway.
Ski Experience has two hours of Snooc
instruction from £41pp for two people
(ski-experience.org). Sean Newsom was
a guest of Serre Chevalier Tourist Office
(serre-chevalier.com) and Inghams, which
has a week at the Hôtel Plein Sud, in
Chantemerle, from £499pp, half-board,
including flights and transfers (01483
345787, inghams.co.uk). To find out more
about Le Snooc, visit snooc.ski
8 December 17, 2017 The Sunday Times
Travel
HOT
HOTELS
2018
From chic tented lodges to hip
poshtels, Susan d’Arcy picks the
year’s most exciting openings
LONDON
You’ll be able to check in at two of the
capital’s most famous landmarks next
year. First, Soho House will open White
City House, in the old BBC Television
Centre, west London. The grade II listed
building, nicknamed “the doughnut”
because of its circular design, will house
45 vintage-styled bedrooms, a cinema, a
Cowshed spa and the group’s trademark
rooftop pool (opens in April; rates TBC;
sohohouse.com).
Meanwhile, Great Scotland Yard,
the former Whitehall HQ of the
Metropolitan Police, is having a £50m
makeover to create three restaurants
and 153 five-star rooms with an arresting
design that reflects their Edwardian
heritage (opens in the summer; rates TBC;
galliardhomes.com).
If you’re on a budget, the newly opened
Pilgrm hotel, in Paddington, designed
by Jason Catifeoglou (the brains behind
the Zetter Townhouses), is chic and
cheap. The 73 rooms have original
cast-iron radiators and mahogany floors,
accessorised with Marshall speakers and
Tom Dixon cloud carpets. An all-day cafe
offers fusion breakfast options such as
tea-poached eggs with kimchi rice
(doubles from £109; thepilgrm.com).
Bloomsbury is tipped to take over from
its rival Marylebone as the city’s hippest
neighbourhood. Some A-listers have
already defected from Chiltern Street to
the speakeasy sexiness of the Coral Room,
part of a multimillion-pound makeover of
the Lutyens-designed Bloomsbury hotel
and its 153 art-deco bedrooms (doubles
from £199; doylecollection.com).
The area’s next big news will be the
former Hotel Russell, on Russell Square,
which will reopen in April as the
Principal London, with the spectacular
Palm Court for tea; Fitz’s, a dimly lit,
leather-clad bar that evokes the Gatsby
era; and 334 rooms in champagne shades
(doubles from £225; phcompany.com).
MANCHESTER
Former Manchester United teammates
Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs are set to
open their ambitious conversion of the
historic Stock Exchange into a 40-room
hotel. The renovation celebrates the grade
II listed Edwardian baroque architecture,
and throws in a moody slate-grey and
emerald-green palette in the rooms.
The restaurant, The Man Who Fell to
Earth, is the brainchild of the celebrity
chef Michael O’Hare, who holds a
Michelin star at his restaurant in Leeds
(opens in spring; doubles from £225;
thestockexchangehotel.co.uk).
CAMBRIDGE
The university town is lacking first-class
accommodation, at least until the
University Arms emerges from its
two-year, £80m renovation. The
restaurant, the Parker’s Tavern, will offer
a playful twist on the traditional college
dining hall, and the 192 calm, classic
bedrooms are by the in-demand designer
Martin Brudnizki, of Lime Wood, Soho
House Miami and the Ivy fame. It deserves
top marks for its sense of humour: the
bar’s Point of No Return cocktail is so
potent, it includes a bacon sarnie
delivered to your bedroom door the next
morning — not too early, mind (opens in
spring; rates TBC; universityarms.com).
BUCKINGHAMSHIRE
It may be close to John Betjeman’s least
favourite town, Slough, but at the
Langley, all you can see is 500 acres of
luscious Capability Brown landscapes,
ornate plasterwork and baroque
fireplaces fit for a king, or at least the
Duke of Marlborough, who once owned
this stucco and stone hunting lodge.
Matt Roberts, David Cameron’s former
personal trainer, will put guests through
their paces with a posh version of parkour
in the grade II listed gardens, and the spa
offers cryotherapy, an extreme-cold
treatment said to reduce inflammation,
increase energy levels and boost sleep.
Or you could rely on the bespoke beds
in the 41 elegant rooms (opens in June;
rates TBC; thelangley.com).
ABERDEENSHIRE
Iwan and Manuela Wirth, whose Hauser
& Wirth gallery transformed the sleepy
Somerset town of Bruton, have spent two
years sensitively injecting style steroids
into the Fife Arms. Set in Braemar, a
traditional village famous for its Highland
Games and for having Balmoral as its
neighbour, the 46-bedroom Victorian
hotel now has contemporary artwork
and furniture celebrating its Scottish
heritage. The pièce de résistance will be a
central courtyard with a heather canopy:
Federica Bertolini, the general manager,
is confident that it will be so beautiful,
guests will want to dine al fresco. Good
luck with that (opens in spring; rates TBC;
thefifearms.com).
INNER HEBRIDES
Gordon Campbell Gray introduced
minimalism to the London hotel scene
with One Aldwych, back in 1998. At the
Machrie, on Islay, he looks set to produce
a game-changer for Scottish country
houses, too. The 18th-century converted
farmhouse sits on seven miles of beach,
and if it’s chilly outside, you’ll feel the
impact of those Atlantic rollers through
the double-height window in the glam
sitting room. It will have 47 Scandi-style
bedrooms, a 30-seat cinema and an
18-hole golf course designed by the
former European Ryder Cup vice-captain
DJ Russell (opens in spring; doubles from
£150, B&B; campbellgrayhotels.com).
LIMERICK
JP McManus, the co-owner of Sandy Lane,
in Barbados, has spent £50m turning
19th-century Adare Manor into the
Gleneagles of Ireland, with 842 acres
for hunting, shooting, fishing and golfing:
an 18-hole Tom Fazio golf course will
open next spring and is bidding to host
the Ryder Cup in 2026. The 104-bedroom
hotel has neogothic interiors, with
gold-leaf ceilings, stained-glass windows
and masses of marble. There’s a
super-exclusive La Mer spa and live Irish
music in the Tack Room bar (doubles
from £285, B&B; adaremanor.com).
PARIS
The Experimental Cocktail Club’s Hotel
des Grands Boulevards is accessed
via a secret passageway in the 2nd
arrondissement. Its 50 rooms will channel
Marie Antoinette extravagance, with
canopied beds, distressed furniture and
televisions hidden in mirrors. The prize
feature, though, is the rooftop bar,
where you can sip the Club’s celebrated
cocktails, including Mauve, made from
cachaca, purple carrot and coconut
cordial (opens in January; doubles from
£150; grandsboulevardshotel.com).
CORFU
Angsana Corfu and Ikos Dassia are
welcome openings on a Greek island
where villa holidays generally rule.
Angsana, on the east coast, has 199
contemporary bedrooms, six restaurants,
a rooftop bar, a huge infinity pool and
an impressive 16-room spa (opens in
summer; doubles from £215; angsana.com).
The Ikos Dassia, on sheltered Dassia
Bay, will be an upmarket all-inclusive
with classic Med decor, a private beach
and six restaurants from chefs with
Michelin credentials (opens in May; doubles
from £170, all-inclusive; ikosresorts.com).
ANDALUSIA
The mantra may be no carbs before
Marbs, but you should indulge to the
full if you check in at Nobu Marbella,
an adults-only playground between
Marbella’s old town and Puerto Banus.
Nobu Matsuhisa’s Japanese cuisine
provides the yin to the yang of a superb
mixology cart and guests’ temporary
membership of the Owners Club, where
Formula One drivers and supermodels
shell out £2,000 or more a year for the
privilege of propping up the bar. The
creamy decor of the 81 rooms, the 24-hour
breakfast and the private beach will help
with hangovers (opens in April; doubles
from £295, B&B; nobuhotels.com).
NEW YORK
The Sydell Group, America’s trendiest
hotelier and co-owner of the Ned, in
London, is democratising the Big Apple’s
hotel scene with Freehand New York, a
“poshtel” that mixes dorms and doubles
The Sunday Times December 17, 2017 9
teak floors, four-posters, chandeliers and
hand-bashed copper bathtubs. Some are
on the beach, others clustered around
water holes for wildlife-watching, though
nearby Yala National Park is a better bet
to spot wild elephants, sloth bears and
leopards (doubles from £285, B&B;
resplendentceylon.com).
GRENADA
Not only did the spice island escape
unscathed from this year’s hurricanes,
it is home to one of the hottest new
openings in the Caribbean. Silversands,
on gorgeous Grand Anse Beach, will have
43 minimalist suites, a 330ft infinity
pool and a laid-back beach club with a
resident DJ providing the soundtrack
for some first-class barefoot hedonism
(opens in March; doubles from £600,
B&B; silversandsgrenada.com).
ST KITTS
without scrimping on style. Expect
midcentury furniture and bespoke
artworks in the 358 rooms, and a buzzing
social scene, including a branch of Broken
Shaker, one of the world’s best bars,
on a rooftop that overlooks Gramercy
Park (opens in February; doubles from
£119; freehandhotels.com).
LOS ANGELES
After taking New York and Miami by storm
with its eco-luxury approach, 1 Hotels has
acquired the Jeremy, on Sunset Boulevard,
to convert into 1 West Hollywood. The
268 rooms have the group’s signature
sustainably chic industrial look, and there
are art installations and spectacular living
walls in the public spaces (opens in July;
rates TBC; 1hotels.com).
Nearby, the famous Sunset Tower,
where John Wayne once kept a cow on his
balcony to have fresh milk for his coffee,
is about to complete a nip and tuck of its
81 art deco rooms, adding a new bar and
an indoor/outdoor pool restaurant where
the clientele will usually include someone
from a Vanity Fair cover (doubles from
£255; sunsettowerhotel.com).
CAMBODIA
Shinta Mani Wild, in the little-visited
Cardamom Mountains, will have 16 luxury
tents filled with dark woods, rattan and
colonial curios. It’s on a wildlife migration
route, so, from the freestanding bath on
your room’s deck, you may spot gibbons,
elephants and tigers. Local guides lead
expeditions into the rainforest to forage
for dinner (opens in autumn; doubles
from £1,373, all-inclusive; shintamani.com).
SRI LANKA
Resplendent Ceylon, the people behind
the wildly popular Ceylon Tea Trails,
have brought the romance of the African
safari to Sri Lanka with the Wild Coast
Tented Lodge. The hotel has 28 canvas
“cocoon” suites, with vaulted ceilings,
Park Hyatt’s first Caribbean property has
just opened in glitzy Christophe Harbour,
on the island’s southern tip, overlooking
Banana Bay and Nevis. The 126 rooms
are clean-lined and contemporary, and
some of the suites have private rooftop
plunge pools. The three restaurants serve
everything from French fine dining to
seafood; and Miraval, one of America’s
leading wellness brands, is running the
spa, where treatments include scrubs
using the island’s salt and brown sugar
(doubles from £338; parkyhyatt.com).
NAMIBIA
Shipwreck Lodge is in the Skeleton
Coast Central Concession area, an
eerily beautiful wilderness where the
rusty remains of ships pepper the
wind-whipped shoreline. In keeping with
the drama, all 12 chalets are designed to
look like shipwrecks and have views of
sky-high sand dunes and an often-angry
Atlantic (opens in June; rates TBC;
skeletoncoastlodge.com).
BOTSWANA
MAKE A SPLASH
Top, poolside
at Nobu Marbella.
Left, the lounge
at the University
Arms, Cambridge;
and the bar at
the Bloomsbury,
London
Do you know anyone in their thirties who
is planning a wedding and likes Botswana?
Wilderness Safaris, the Prada of safari
operators, has a honeymoon solution that
may just get Harry and Meghan’s approval.
Mombo, its flagship camp in the Okavango
Delta, is being rebuilt, with sustainability
as key as style: the nine tented suites will
feature recycled timber, gauze instead of
glass for the floor-to-ceiling windows,
freestanding copper baths and vast decks
with plunge pools (opens in March;
doubles from £1,408pp, all-inclusive;
wilderness-safaris.com).
20 nights
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The Golden Triangle
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in Delhi, 1 night in Agra and 2 nights in Jaipur
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14 December 17, 2017 The Sunday Times
Travel
ALAMY; GETTY
MY HOLS
SIMON ROGAN
The chef ate moss mousse off a lump of
mud in France, had a jetski disaster in
Corfu and was left penniless in the Gambia
My work is hectic, so, when
I have a holiday, I do as little
as possible. I’ve been to the
Gambia a couple of times.
It’s guaranteed 35C in December — right
up my street. The country is very poor,
so my partner, Penny, and I always go
laden with gifts, old clothes, anything
we don’t want any more. Then, on the
day we fly home, we give it all away
and leave with the bare minimum.
One time we did that, then our flight
was delayed for 24 hours. We had
almost nothing —
no money, just the basics — and
we had to survive 24 hours.
It was a disaster.
I go to Ibiza a few
times a year to see
friends. I’m a bit old
for superclubs and
glowsticks, so I steer
away from the madness
of Ibiza Town — it’s
more about beach bars
and private parties. We
always stay in Santa Eulalia.
The last hotel we tried
was the Aguas de Ibiza,
where the famous chef
Sergi Arola has a restaurant
on the roof. The view
overlooking the bay and
the marina is amazing.
On a holiday to Corfu a long time ago,
I got overvigorous on a jetski. I probably
used muscles I don’t usually use, riding
against the waves, standing up like a
jockey. So, when I got off and tried to
stagger up the beach, I couldn’t walk. I
was waddling in a strange way for three
days, and taking almost an hour to
do a two-minute walk to the pool.
It was horrific. My body was
basically paralysed because of that
disastrous half-hour on a jetski.
The best meal I’ve had abroad
was at La Ferme de Mon Père, in
Megève, France. It’s closed now,
but at the time it was one of
the best restaurants in the
world, with three Michelin
stars and a chef at the top
of his game. The building
was a recreation of his
father’s farm. The floor
had a big glass panel in it,
through which you could
see pigs, and there were hay
bales and cows looking at
you through the wall. It was
like a film set — incredible.
The meal was 25 to 30
courses of really avant-garde
food, but with lots of
ingredients foraged from
the foot of Mont Blanc.
The first course of five
Our experts
answer your
travel queries
RIPPLE TIDE Dawn at
Whitecliff Bay, on the Isle
of Wight
Simon Rogan, 51, is the
chef-patron of L’Enclume,
which has two Michelin stars,
and oversees the kitchen at its
sister restaurant, Rogan & Co.
Both are in Cartmel, in the
Lake District. He recently
opened the Aulis chef’s table
in Soho, London. His Roganic
restaurant is returning to
Marylebone, London, on
January 9 (tasting menu from
£80; roganic.uk)
little snacks was served on a big lump of
freshly dug-up turf, worms and all. There
was a little glass of moss mousse, so light,
with such a pure vegetal flavour. I’ll never
forget that, it’s one of the best things I’ve
eaten in my life.
I’m from a fairly working-class family,
so we didn’t go on foreign holidays much.
Instead, we used to go to the Isle of Wight.
It was close to Southampton, where we
lived, but for me it was an epic journey.
We’d hop on the Red Funnel ferry and
it felt like going on a mini cruise. My
parents had a caravan overlooking
Whitecliff Bay, to the east of the island,
and I remember visiting all the towns on
that part of the coast — Ventnor, Shanklin
and Sandown.
Ventnor is probably one of my favourite
places in the whole of the UK. I love it.
In fact, I might take off on
my own and go and spend
a couple of days there by
myself soon. It’s so fun.
Interview by Alessia Horwich
COMPETITION WIN A MICHELIN-STARRED FAMILY BREAK FOR FOUR
WITH COMO
THE HALKIN,
LONDON
WHERE WAS I?
It’s chilly. With urgent haste,
I strike out to find this town’s
walls. More than a mile’s
worth remain, if only I could
find them. Eventually I do, but
for walls read “low earthwork”.
I suppose I shouldn’t be too
disappointed: they must be
1,000 years old.
At least I found them, unlike
the abandoned nine-mile
canal branch that passed
through town. Its main line to
the south, opened fully by
1810, is 52 miles long. The
railway, in the form of the
M&SWJR, did for it; even that
fell prey to progress, though a
short stretch survives in the
form of a heritage line south
of the town. Coincidentally, a
railway engineer (born 1816)
was appointed its MP in 1865.
It’s too cold for such
cogitations, however, so,
hoping to restore some
feeling to my extremities, I
return to the jalopy and my
flask of turnip and ginger
soup. Which, it transpires,
is rather too effective. Note
to self: next time, ease up on
the ginger.
Fresh air suddenly seems
appealing again, so I decide
to miss the village 2½ miles
north, birthplace of a
composer. (I know: he wrote
Sinfonia Antartica.) A walk to
an Iron Age hillfort will restore
bodily equilibrium. In heading
11 miles south-southeast, I
cross the canal’s main line
and pass a former RAF
airfield. Opened in 1940, it
was used for aircraft
assembly and storage; the
hillfort is two miles southeast.
I throw on my overcoat and
puff my way to a height of
869ft. There’s no mistake: at
11 acres, the fort is impressive.
And exposed. Because I’m
starting to feel cold again.
And I left my flask in the car.
Chris Fautley
sweets include smoked
pineapple and mango torrija.
The prize includes one
afternoon tea for four, as well
as dinner for all the family at
Ametsa, excluding drinks. For
more information, or to book,
call 020 7333 1000 or visit
comohotels.com/thehalkin.
The prize must be taken
between January 3 and
June 30, 2018, subject to
availability and excluding
public holidays, Valentine’s
Day and the Easter weekend.
HOW TO ENTER
THE QUESTIONS
1 What is the name of the town?
2 Who was the composer?
THE PRIZE
ASK
THE
TEAM
This week’s prize is a
gastronomic two-night break
for a family of four at COMO
The Halkin, in Belgravia,
London. The chic five-star
boutique hotel is a short stroll
from Hyde Park, Buckingham
Palace and the designer
shops of Knightsbridge,
including Harvey Nichols and
Harrods. Its Michelin-starred
Basque restaurant, Ametsa
with Arzak Instruction,
is celebrated as much for its
Spanish afternoon tea as for
lunch and dinner. A new
winter afternoon tea menu
has just been launched: garlic
pintxos and Iberico ham
croquettes take the place of
cucumber sandwiches, and
Only one entry per person,
at thesundaytimes.co.uk/
wherewasi by Wednesday.
Normal Times Newspapers
rules apply. No
correspondence will be
entered into.
LAST WEEK’S PRIZE
The answers are Alnwick and
Malcolm III. Steve Crane of
Leicestershire wins a break
for two in Portugal, as a guest
of the Magnolia Hotel.
My parents are hoping to
holiday in the Lake District
next May or June. They’d
like to stay in a B&B on the
edge of the national park
and use public transport to
explore. Please can you
recommend a good base?
Ruth Organ, Worcestershire
Sean Newsom
replies
If you’re exploring
the Lakes without
your own transport,
Windermere is the best base.
A branch from the main
London-Glasgow railway line
delivers you straight to the top
end of town. Several useful
scheduled buses depart from
here (stagecoach.com): the
open-topped 599, for example,
is handy for Grasmere, home
to the Wordsworth Museum
(£8.95; wordsworth.org.uk)
and the starting point for a
range of spectacular walks
into Langdale. There’s no need
to walk back again. After a pie
and a pint at the Old Dungeon
Ghyll hotel (pies from £11.95;
odg.co.uk), you can catch
the 516 from Langdale back
to Windermere.
The 599 will also take you
to Bowness, where you can
board a steamer for a cruise
around the lake. A Freedom
of the Lake ticket offers
unlimited travel for 24 hours
(£15; windermere-lakecruises.
co.uk).
Mountain Goat minibus
tours depart from the tourist
information office in
Windermere. The Six Lakes in
a Morning route costs £25 and
circles Helvellyn, taking in
Thirlmere, the Castlerigg Stone
Circle, pictured, and Ullswater
en route (mountain-goat.com).
The key to all this is to get a
B&B near your transport hub.
The Southview Guest House,
is a five-minute walk from
the station and has cheerful
doubles from £84 in May
(southviewwindermere.co.uk).
Email your questions to
asktheteam@sunday-times.
co.uk
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