ARM­CHAIR TRAV­ELLER

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of Mag­nif­i­cence ex­hi­bi­tion show­ing un­til July 19 and its shop has a range of tie-in wares, in­clud­ing beau­ti­fully blowsy crys­tal flower brooches (£25) and, for the home­maker who has ev­ery­thing, baroque frame fridge mag­nets (£5). www.van­dashop.com.

LOUNGE’S other best buys were a Cath Kid­ston Lon­don Carry All (£25; look in Har­vey Ni­chols or Sel­fridges) printed with in­stant sym­bols of Lon­don, such as red dou­ble-deck­ers, the Lon­don Eye and the Houses of Par­lia­ment, and fig-scented per­fume and can­dles from Miller Har­ris. ( Lyn Har­ris also cre­ates be­spoke per­fumes to match one’s colour­ing, per­son­al­ity and skin type; more on her stylish shop and tea sa­lon in May­fair in weeks to come.) www.cathkid­ston.co.uk; www.miller­har­ris.com.

BACK to gar­dens for a tick. Lounge was dis­ap­pointed to miss the Gar­den and Cos­mos ex­hi­bi­tion at the Bri­tish Mu­seum, which opened on May 28. There are 56 paint­ings on show of life in the royal court of Jodh­pur, in the desert state of Ra­jasthan, in the 18th and 19th cen­turies. As was the wont of those plea­sure-seek­ing In­dian rulers, Lounge ex­pects there

: See how the toffs live in Eng­land’s posh­est piles. There are cas­tles, con­verted abbeys and manors with bed­rooms the size of ball­rooms. Sun­day, 6pm, Bio.

: Mont­martre and other Left Bank precincts of Paris were used as back­drops to this 2001 feel-good hit star­ring the lovely Au­drey Tatou. Fri­day, 10pm, Show­case. are im­ages of ma­hara­jahs pic­nick­ing un­der full moons and comely maid­ens danc­ing. It’s part of the mu­seum’s In­dian Sum­mer sea­son; in con­junc­tion with the Royal Botanic Gar­dens at Kew, its Blooms­bury fore­court has ap­par­ently been trans­formed into a jas­mine-scented gar­den. Ex­hi­bi­tion to Au­gust 23; gar­den to Septem­ber 27. www.british­mu­seum.org.

IN­STEAD of a taxi from Heathrow into the city for an early-morn­ing ar­rival, Lounge and her travel col­league booked a chauf­feured car from Lewis Day Trans­port. A uni­formed driver meets and greets pas­sen­gers be­yond the cus­toms hall and es­corts them to a wait­ing Mercedes. With bot­tled wa­ter, boiled lol­lies and the morn­ing pa­pers to hand, what a civilised start to pro­ceed­ings. And at a set £70 for a cen­tral Lon­don trans­fer, not much more than a black cab with me­ter whirling in traf­fic. www.lewis­daylimo.com.

FIND of the week: Travel&In­dul­gence con­trib­u­tor Ken­dall Hill com­mends the re­fur­bished Foun­tain­side ho­tel in Ho­bart (which charges a re­ces­sion-bust­ing $129 a night) for its non-greedy stance on mini­bar prices. ‘‘ Priced for your en­joy­ment’’ is the mantra here; its in-room drinks and snacks are not marked up so, as Hill puts it, ‘‘ guests can en­joy a tip­ple without first con­sult­ing a fi­nan­cial ad­viser’’.

Foun­tain­side’s shock­ingly low mini­bar prices in­clude $1 for a 350ml bot­tle of wa­ter. Sam­boy chips and Twisties are $1.50, light beers are $2 and pre­mium beers, $3. A Ninth Is­land pinot noir or chardon­nay is an en­cour­ag­ing $12 a half-bot­tle.

The ho­tel keeps phone charges to a min­i­mum, too. Lounge is so as­ton­ished she needs to lie down with a cold Toblerone on her fore­head; TripAd­vi­sor’s per­nick­ety so­cial net­work­ers give it a good rap, too. www.foun­tain­side.com.au; www.tripad­vi­sor.com.

LOUNGE loves: Af­ter­noon tea at Syd­ney’s Sir Stam­ford at Cir­cu­lar Quay com­petes very well with Lon­don’s top high teas. Served daily from 1pm to 5pm in the ho­tel’s clubby bar, the cakes, pas­tries, scones and fin­ger sand­wiches are pre­sented on a tiered sil­ver stand and quan­ti­ties are gen­er­ous. But it’s the range of Ron­nefeldt teas (in­clud­ing an In­dian blend with wild cher­ries) and the care with brew­ing that most im­presses. A Ron­nefeldt strainer fits snugly in­side the teapot so no stray leaves make it to the cup and the cer­e­mony is ac­com­pa­nied by a timer to en­sure one’s earl grey or fancy sen­cha is prop­erly steeped. $38 a per­son, in­clud­ing a glass of sparkling wine; $18 for scones and tea. (02) 9252 4600; www.stam­ford.com.au.

LOUNGE loathes: Whinge­ing trav­ellers . . . but what fun is a re­cent sur­vey by Thomas Cook that turned up gripes such as: ‘‘ We booked an ex­cur­sion to a wa­ter park but no one told us we had to bring our swim­ming cos­tumes and tow­els.’’ Other clients com­plained that ‘‘ the beach was too sandy’’. And, ‘‘ We bought Ray-Ban sun­glasses for from a street trader, only to find out they were fake.’’ Or, how about, ‘‘ It took us nine hours to fly home from Ja­maica to Eng­land but it only took the Amer­i­cans three hours to get home.’’ Pity the poor sods who had to ‘‘ queue out­side with no air­con­di­tion­ing’’.

But best of all is this gem: ‘‘ No one told us there would be fish in the sea. The chil­dren were star­tled.’’ Just as well they didn’t bump into any nude plas­ticine gar­den gnomes in May’s patch at Chelsea. Price of Fiji cruises slashed by 25 per cent; free nights in New Zealand’s snowy Queen­stown; Asian hol­i­day give­away. Th­ese and other money-sav­ing of­fers are fea­tured in Travel&In­dul­gence’s hol­i­day deals, up­dated daily:

www.theaus­tralian.com.au/travel/dd

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