GREAT EUROPEAN ESCAPES
The name’s Bond: In the heart of London’s Westminster, the 331-room St Ermin’s, a member of Accor’s MGallery collection, has a package that promises guests can discover their inner Agent 007. Billed as the ‘‘only publicly accessible establishment in London closely associated with the history of espionage’’, St Ermin’s and the adjacent building were used by officers of the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6). The likes of Ian Fleming, KimPhilby and GuyBurgess were known to have worked from the building; Burgess frequently met his Russian contact in the bar to hand over top-secret government files. The new Budding Bonds Package includes two nights in a family room for two adults and two children, an iSpy for St Ermin’s pack for each child and a local London Spy Walk challenge. £550 ($843), including VAT, for a two-night stay, subject to availability. More: + 44 800 6350 438; sterminshotel.co.uk. Trails in Spain: Outdoor Travel’s Taste of Catalunya walking holiday departs March 16 and is priced from $2790 a person twin-share (more than $200 off the 2012 rate); accommodation is in quality hotels, inns and private homes, and meals and wine, support staff and vehicle, local transport, guided walking and luggage transfers are included. More: 1800 331 582 ; outdoortravel.com.au. Stroll through the seasons: Hidden Italy has revamped its website and is offering a range of seasonal guided tours and self-guided walks next year, including to Verona and the Dolomites, the Cinque Terre, rural Tuscany and around Sicily. More: hiddenitaly.com.au. Ontrack: Rail Europe has a ‘‘cool winter’’ promotion of up to 20 per cent off Eurostar tickets, BritRail passes and five-day German Rail passes; or take advantage of the buy one and get one free deal for the Swiss Pass. Valid to December 18. More: holidaystoeurope.com.au/specials. Singular sensation: Book a 10 to 15-day 2013 Tauck river voyage in Europe with Cruiseabout by November 28 and receive two nights free. As part of the deal, solo travellers will not be charged single supplements on European cruise departures in 2013 if booked in category one cabins. More: 1300 450 133; cruiseabout.com.au. Grab the goggles: Boutique Melbourne agency Cousins Tours & Travel has swimming tours of Europe next year — destinations include Italy, Spain and Turkey. (Itineraries in Guatemala, Belize and Peru are also possible.) The agency bills itself as a pioneer in sporting travel, such as cycling and triathlon trips, and is the main sponsor and organiser of the Great Victorian Swim Series. More: cousinsswimmingtours.com. Designer details: Finnair and design house Marimekko are teaming up — from the northern spring next year, the carrier’s aircraft will feature a bespoke Marimekko collection of textiles and tableware. Twoof Finnair’s longhaul aircraft will feature livery based on distinctively colourful Marimekko patterns. Finnair connects daily from Australia with its OneWorld partners in Singapore, Bangkok and HongKongto more than 50 European destinations. More: finnair.com/au. Tales of the city: Lisbon Story Guesthouse in the historic centre of the Portuguese capital is a property with a conscience. Management has partnered with the charity Comunidade Vida e Paz to distribute meals to the homeless each month. Hotel guests can contribute, if they wish, by leaving money, food, toiletries or clothing to be delivered to those in need. Lisbon Story Guesthouse has 11 quirky guestrooms, each with a narrative theme; the most spacious rooms are about j110 ($135) a night, with breakfast. More: lisbonstoryguesthouse.com. The roads ahead: Dubrovnik, the islands of the Dalmatian coast and Montenegro all feature on a new seven-day small-group trip to Croatia from Back-Roads Touring. From $2650 a person twin-share, with an earlybird saving of $135 a person if booked and paid by December 15. The escorted tour departs from Trogir and includes wine and oyster tastings, a folkloric performance in Lazareti, six nights’ accommodation with breakfasts, mini-coach transport, Split-Korcula-Ston ferry transport and three dinners. More: 1300 100 410; backroadstouring.com.au. Swish Swiss: Insight Vacations has a seven-day Magical Switzerland tour from $2299 a person twin-share (single supplement from an extra $315) that covers premium accommodation, luxury transport and an experienced tour director. Departures from November 25 to March 24. More: 1300 237 886; insightvacations.com. Listen up, ladies: Twofun ‘‘shopping, eating and drinking’’ tours of the Loire Valley, Provence and the Cote d’Azur for womenare available from Australian operator Lily & Lulu from September 12-26 and September 28-October 12. More: lilyandlulu.com.au.
Daniel Craig as Agent 007 in the new Bond film,