• 9 best car seats that keep your baby safe from birth to 15 months
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    The Independent

    9 best car seats that keep your baby safe from birth to 15 months

    A baby’s car seat should be bought with confidence. This essential piece of kit has an important job, after all. On every car journey – from the first daunting drive home from hospital, to sleep-persuading loops around the block – your baby’s in-car throne serves to keep them safe, secure and ever-so snug.When it comes to safety testing, car seats in the UK have to conform to one of two standards: ECE R129 is the newest European-wide regulation, known as i-Size. This runs alongside the existing ECE R44 regulation, and parents can choose either seat type to use.Regulation ECE R44 seats are split into groups based on your baby’s weight: group 0 seats are suitable from birth up to 10kg (approximately nine months) and group 0+ for newborns to 13kg (approximately 12-15 months). All babies must be rear-facing until they are 15-months-old, as before this their necks are not strong enough to withstand the pressure of a head-on collision in the forward-facing position. In these weight-based car seats, your baby needs to stay rear facing until they weigh at least 9kg. i-Size seats use a child's height for fitting, keeping babies rearward-facing until they are 15-months-old. They have also had side-impact testing. Always make sure your car seat fits your child and your car, their head should not go beyond the seat.So, what’s Isofix? Isofix is an internationally recognised car seat fitting system, meaning seats aren’t installed with the car's 3-point seat belt, but instead provide a more secure fit by slotting into Isofix anchorage points built into all new cars – so you need to check a seat is compatible with your vehicle before you buy. A car seat can have an Isofix fitting whether it’s an i-Size or ECE R44-approved car seat.We road-tested these first car seats on both long journeys and quick trips. Each seat in our shortlist has of course been extensively safety tested to meet regulation standards, so our deep-dive is based on ease of use, comfort factor and the bonus extras that make a parent’s life a little easier. It’s then for you to decide what features matter the most when transporting your bundle from A to B.You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers ,but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent. Britax Römer baby-safe i-Size: £190, BritaxThe Britax baby-safe2 is a sturdy, affordable seat that conforms to i-Size standards, so is fitted in the rearward facing position and can be used until your baby reaches 13kg or 83cm. Peace of mind safety elements such as “superior side-impact protection”, plus an easy installation, sees the baby-safe carrier as a popular pick among new parents – in fact, this was the seat the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge chose to take their three little bundles home from the hospital.Deep padding makes for a comfy ride and a removable newborn insert means babies are secure from birth. The headrest height can be adjusted with one hand, and we were impressed by the seat’s integral recline: as you alter the headrest, the lying position changes automatically. The seat can be secured by a car’s 3-point seat belt but to have the Isofix fitting, you’ll need to buy either of the two compatible bases. We rate the Britax flex base (£175) as with four adjustable angles it allows the seat into an even flatter recline, offering the most ergonomic travel position for a new baby. Buy the extra adaptors and the baby-safe2 will work with many of the big-brand pushchairs too.Buy now Maxi-Cosi Jade car cot: £199, Maxi-CosiIt’s recommended that newborns are in a car seat for no longer than 30 minutes, with two hours being the maximum time for older babies. So what to do on that epic road trip? The Maxi-Cosi Jade is an i-Size seat offering a safe solution for long distance journeys. The carrycot design means a baby can sleep fully flat from birth, and stay in the seat for longer periods of time. You’ll find a soft mattress, 3-point safety harness, sun canopy and a newborn inlay to use until your baby is 60cm.We found fitting the additional 3wayfix Isofix base (£199) a fuss-free experience – there’s light and sound feedback to let you know that you’ve secured it correctly. The Jade then slides on and off the base so you can take it into the house, or attach it to a Maxi-Cosi pushchair, all while baby sleeps. The seat takes a maximum weight of 9kg, 70cm – making it suitable from birth to approximately six months – so it does have a shorter lifespan than the pick of group 0 + seats that’ll last you well over 12 months. Saying that, once you’ve purchased the 3wayfix base, it can be used with a next stage Maxi-Cosi seat, such as the pearl pro i-Size, for tots aged up to four-years-old.Buy now Joie i-spin 360: £280, MothercareIf you’ve ever struggled getting a small child in and out of a car, then you’ll know that the 360-degree rotation on the Joie i-spin is a highly covetable seat feature. With one hand you can swivel the seat to face you at the car door without the back-breaking work of bending right in. This newborn-suitable car seat also impresses on the longevity front. The rotation element, 6-height headrest and harness system that adjusts simultaneously means the Joie i-Spin can be used all the way up to 18kg – around four-years-old.You can keep it rearward-facing for this entire time, or rotate to the forward-facing position when it’s safe for older tots. We liked the clever safety feature that keeps the seat rearward until a child is the right size to turn, taking away any guesswork.Buy now Cosatto port car seat: £174.95, MothercareThis British brand has long been a parent-pleaser, offering well-designed baby kit adorned in quirky, statement-making prints. The port is Cosatto’s group 0+ seat that’s suitable for babies up to 13kg, and is fitted in the rearward-facing position. Although it’s not i-Size compliant, the seat is compatible with Cosatto’s port base (£124.95) if you’re wanting the extra security and click-and-go ease of Isofix.After a once-over of the manual, we secured the port with our car’s standard 3-point seat belt and found it straightforward to install and a stable ride for baby. There are 12 distinctive patterns to choose from including a bold spot and stripe, a Nordic woodland scene or a leopard print fabric designed by Paloma Faith. The seat can also be used as a travel system with Cosatto’s giggle and wow pram/pushchair.Buy now Jane koos i-Size: From £149, JaneIf you’re looking for a light, reliable car seat to lug around, the koos from Jane fits the bill. When fitted with the base (£160), the koos is an i-Size compliant seat that has reassuring features, including side-impact protection, a 5-position adjustable headrest and inserts to use with a newborn from 40-60cm.This car seat will last until your baby is around 15-months-old (or 83cm), and we found the fabrics soft and cosy – they come off easily for washing too. An adjustable carrying handle makes lifting the seat a doddle and it really comes into its own when used as part of a travel system with the Jane range of pushchairs – a one-click system takes the seat from car to pavement.Buy now Doona infant car seat: £299.99, DoonaIs it a car seat? Is it a pushchair? Actually, it’s both. The USP of the Doona is its integrated set of wheels that can be released in seconds – turning the seat into a stroller when out of the car. The seat conforms to ECE R44, rather than i-Size regulations, but it meets the testing standards for pushchairs and reclined cradles too. We installed the Doona using the car’s 3-point car seat belt, although if you’d prefer an Isofix fitting, there is an additional base to buy (£129.99).While the Doona isn’t designed to be used all day, we found it a great way to make short A to B trips, to have when travelling, or to keep at the grandparents’ house – negating the need for two sets of baby kit. The Doona is safe on an airplane and there’s eight on-trend fabric colours to choose from, which adds to the appeal.Buy now Cybex aton M i-Size: £128.99The aton M i-Size is a birth to 13kg seat from Cybex – a brand known for its premium baby hardware with super-sleek styling. The seat is ideal for newborns and babies up to 87cm, which is a slightly longer height capacity than some other infant seats in the group 0+ category.You have to buy the compatible Cybex base M separately for i-Size safety (£136.95), or secure the seat with the car’s 3-point seatbelt. We were won over by the simple installation and standout newborn-friendly features – there’s a removable insert for good positioning and Cybex’s sensorsafe clip tracks temperature and length of journey on your smartphone.A stylish design completes the package: the aton’s fabrics look high-end and come in a choice of eye catching colours or fashion prints. Team the seat with the Cybex pushchair and you have an ultra-attractive travel system that will protect your baby on-the-go.Buy now Graco milestone all-in-one car seat: £193.80, AmazonFor parents seeking a super-versatile car seat, The Graco milestone is a one-stop shop. Impressively, this seat is suitable for newborns and 12-year-olds, and every age in between. With a similar price-tag to car seats that last only a year, it’s undoubtedly a money-saver. The seat sits in the rearward-position for a baby, with two recline modes, and switches to forward-facing for a toddler. Machine washable covers can be whipped off easily and there’s a cup holder for bigger kids too.What you gain in value though, you do lose in portability as and it’s certainly not light at 8.9kg. All in all, this is a simple, durable seat that we found easy to install with the car’s 3-point seat belt.Buy now Nuna pipa lite LX: £250, John Lewis & PartnersWeighing in at just 2.5kg, the Nuna pipa lite LX is a lightweight car seat that’s suitable for a little one from birth to 13kg. We loved how the Isofix base comes with the seat so you’re good-to-go with one purchase. If your car doesn’t have Isofix anchorage, it can also be secured with a 3-point seatbelt. This flexibility, along with the seat’s featherweight carry, makes it a good option when regularly switching between cars.Our mini passenger slept snuggly thanks to the padded headrests and inserts that you can take out as they grow. A “dream drape” cover pulls down fully and secures with magnets – creating the perfect napping pod and protecting against the elements when carrying out of the car, or using it on a pushchair. The merino wool and technical fabrics are naturally fire resistant so the seat is free from fire retardant chemicals. A shock absorbing shell and side-impact protection give you all the necessary safety reassurances as you drive.Buy now The verdict: Car seatsWith its reassuringly rigorous safety standards, plus plenty of first-rate features, the sturdy Britax baby-safe 2 i-Size is our best buy. Cybex’s stylish aton M also picks up points for being a dependable i-Size seat that’s easy on the eye. When it comes to value for money, the Joie i-spin 360 deserves a mention for its clever design and long lifespan.For more information on how to choose the best car seat, read our buying guide.

  • 8 best wheeled travel bags that get you from A to B with ease
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    The Independent

    8 best wheeled travel bags that get you from A to B with ease

    As anyone who’s had to walk through airport security carrying a crippled case knows, a dependable wheeled bag can make or break a holidayWith more people than ever picking a wheeled bag over a backpack – for extra space minus back pain, for example – they’re no longer just the domain of business travellers and beleaguered parents packing for the family.Wheeled bags come in sports-friendly models – duffels that will house ski boots and tents – and multi-compartmented, gap year/sabbatical sizes, as well as classic cabin-sized hardshells.We tested these bags in all conditions, from a simple trundle through the airport for a couple of hours in an overhead locker; to an assault course of broken paving slabs and potholes in the city; to haphazardly being stuffed with a long weekend’s camping gear then being (accidentally) left out in the rain.Good, smooth wheeling was a prerequisite for any bag that made the list: ideally we looked for spinners (where the wheels move 360 degrees for better maneuverability), metal ball bearings for durability, and super solid construction. A decent warranty was also a plus. Then we looked for a good weight to space ratio – because, with airline restrictions, there’s no point buying one huge bag if all you’re left with is weight allowance for a travel pillow and a magazine. We tested a range of sizes – from petite overnight cabin bags to cases you could move house with – and styles, from traditional boxes to sports bags with wheels.When it comes to choosing between these last two – hardshell or soft, box or duffel – it’s best to decide based on what you’ll be carrying. You’ll snooze better knowing your expensive camera equipment and Go Pros are safely stored in an indestructible hard case like the Gregory, below. But if it’s clothes and shoes you’re hauling, a softshell will give you a bit more flexibility – though it’s worth looking for a case with multiple compartments like the Osprey that can keep flip flops and laundry away from your evening wear. From stylish to sporty, monogrammed to megasized, here are the best wheeled bags to suit any adventure.You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers , but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent. Briggs & Riley Rhapsody cabin spinner: £349, John Lewis & PartnersWe were genuinely surprised by how hard we fell for this smart little bag, part of sleek brand Briggs and Riley’s new Rhapsody collection. It’s marketed as an overnight bag, but because the handle is mounted on the outside, its 28l compartment is flat so goes really far, and the outer pocket has plenty of room for a laptop, tablet, passport and tickets. We managed to get a long weekend’s worth of packing inside without a problem. But what really won us over were the little luxury touches: the gorgeous plum outer, the unbelievably soft lining, the squishy leather handles, the space-age telescopic handle and its satisfying click, and the silky smooth wheels – plus the lifetime warranty. For us the size was a huge draw – it’s not much larger than a big briefcase, so it will stow anywhere – but Briggs & Riley do have a bigger size in the range. This is a bag undoubtedly designed for first class, but it can come with us anywhere.Buy now Osprey rolling transporter carry-on: £180, OspreyA really stylish bag that we fell in love with as soon as we saw its beautiful teal shell. The Rolling Transporter – a wheeled version of Osprey’s popular Transporter backpack range – is among the lightest of all the bags we tested, at 2.3kg for 38l of space. It’s designed to be an “adventure proof” bag – so it’s durable and water resistant, and it feels like it. The thick, soft material is a nice variant on the usual hardshell-cased wheeled bags. The bag is also really versatile, with pockets everywhere – front pockets for a laptop, a big easy access top compartment that would be ideal for storing a liquids bag – and a back sleeve for passport, tickets, magazines etc.Buy now Samsonite s’cure eco spinner: £175, SamsoniteA great innovation from one of the biggest brands in the game, this case is made from 85 per cent recycled polypropylene rescued from Samsonite’s own production process. A recycled bag is a good start, but Samsonite have thrown in some extra green features: the tags and part of the handle are all made from a lovely, mellow-coloured recycled wood. It’s anenvironmentally-friendly bag that’s gone undercover: the black shell and orange detail means that the wood features fit well into the design, and on the inside the bag has all the features you expect from a Samsonite case. Three-point locking keeps your stuff secure and protected from weather, and it boasts two internal compartments (one with a further divider and one with ribbons) and a TSA combination lock (one that American security have a universal key for so don’t need to break open to search your bag). A sustainable take on a classic case.Buy now Gregory quadro 45: £130, GregoryBest-known for making the kinds of backpacks that survive the Pacific Crest Trail, Gregory has brought the same outdoor savvy to this business class bag. We loved the look – which we dubbed industrial sci-fi – and the robust hardshell, which feels as weather and impact-proof as Gregory promises it is. But our favourite features were the ones Gregory brought over from the trail: the “active shield”, a vapour and odour-resistant compartment within the bag that’s perfect for ski or hiking boots – or if your trip is more bikini than Bear Grylls, laundry and swimwear. It’s light (3.5kg) and spacious (45l) and does everything else a travel bag should do well: the wheels spin well and there are easily access pockets for your passport and laptop. An outstanding adventure bag for anyone looking to ditch the backpack.Buy now Arc'teryx V80 rolling duffel: £350, Arc’teryx​This TARDIS-like case, by chic winter sports brand Arc’teryx, could well be the last you ever need to buy. With an astonishing 80 litres of space at just 3kg in weight, thanks to the super light hard anodized aluminum frame, which means you can pack even more without going over the airline weight limit. It packs down so well – into a sleek, black oblong – that you would have no idea you were towing half of your possessions through the airport. The bag is aimed at climbers and skiers but there’s no reason this couldn’t work as a family bag: Arc’teryx reckons you can pack 42g in per litre of space, which is a lot of luggage. Arc’teryx is always cooly reluctant to make grandiose statements about how indestructible its kit is, but the water-tight zips and reinforced outer mean this bag will cheerfully survive the absolute worst travel treatment.Buy now American Tourister eco wanderer: £99, American Tourister​We loved this budget-friendly bag, an efficient little spinner from American Tourister’s first eco-friendly range. The cabin size packs a respectable 40L, inside a soft shell with enough pockets to master even the most complicated airport security – that means accessible laptop and tablet pockets, passport and phone pockets. But best of all is that the bags are made from 100 per cent post consumer recycled materials, and American Tourister reckons that equals at least 27 plastic bottles saved per bag. None of that detracts from the stylishness of the bag – we loved the slightly 80s-feeling grey and orange model.Buy now North Face rolling thunder 30: £270, The North FaceOur favourite bag from the duffel/sports/suitcase hybrid category, the dramatically-named Rolling Thunder is an expedition-worthy bag for active holidays, camping holidays, and everything in between. A big zippered front panel (or top panel depending on whether you’re wheeling the bag or carrying it like a duffel) opens the cavernous 80l interior, which with minimal fuss and frills has more than enough room for a tent, sleeping bag, ropes and climbing equipment etc. From the zips to the handles, it feels extremely durable, and the inline skate-style wheels are smooth and sturdy. What we liked most about this bag was that it packed like a backpack – with one big compartment and multiple smaller pockets on the outside, which made it an intuitive switch for hikers and climbers who want to navigate airports without a pack attached to their backs.Buy now Jack Wolfskin beat train 70 travel bag: £140, Jack Wolfskin​This is a wheeled bag for people who are too cool for wheeled bags. It’s a lovely, cotton-look bag with tasteful taupe tags and zippers. It’s packed with features – some just for fun, like the internal world map and bucket list waiting to be filled in – and some intensely useful, like the four mesh inner pouches in the upper compartment (ideal for stuff you need to access quickly like a waterproof layer, sunglasses or map) and the upper strap that doubles as a lash point for a day pack. But for all that, it’s durable, with offroad-worthy wheels and reinforced base. Perfect for an adventurous gap year.Buy now The verdict: Wheeled travel bagsBriggs & Riley’s cabin bag was a genuine pleasure to take for a spin, a classy and understated bag in a brilliant and super portable size. For longer trips the Osprey rolling transporter (softshell) and Gregory quadro (hardshell) bags are super durable options that don’t scrimp on helpful features.

  • British Airways strike threat: When would the pilot walkout happen and which flights would be affected?
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    The Independent

    British Airways strike threat: When would the pilot walkout happen and which flights would be affected?

    Passengers booked on summer flights on British Airways face uncertainty because of a strike threat by pilots at BA.Nearly 4,000 members of flight crew who belong to the British Airline Pilots’ Association (Balpa) have voted in favour of industrial action in a dispute over pay.All but around 500 of the airline’s 4,500 pilots belong to Balpa. Nine out of 10 union members voted, with 93 per cent in favour of strikes. Of the entire pilot workforce, three-quarters opted for strike action. This is how the next few days and weeks could play out. What is the dispute about?Pay. British Airways says it is offering an increase in salaries well above the rate of inflation: an 11.5 per cent rise over three years. BA says: “We are pleased that the Unite and GMB trade unions, which represent nearly 90 per cent of all British Airways colleagues, have agreed to recommend this fair offer.”The airline also points to the number of job applications from pilots from other carriers, which it says are running at 1,000 per year, as an indication of how well its pilots are treated.But Brian Strutton, general secretary of Balpa, told The Independent: “It’s not as good as 11.5 per cent – British Airways are actually taking other money away from us. And the point being: 93 per cent of their pilots have said: ‘I want to go on strike’. So it can’t be that good a deal, can it?”The current dispute covers pilots working at Heathrow and Gatwick. It does not involve the CityFlyer operation based at London City. What happened in court?Immediately after the overwhelming vote in favour of a strike, BA, as is now traditional in industrial disputes, sought a High Court injunction against Balpa on the grounds of legal technicalities involving the ballot.The judge rejected British Airways’ application. The airline's subsequent appeal was also thrown out. When could a strike begin, and what is its likely effect?The union is required to give two weeks’ notice of any strike. The Independent understands it will not call a strike while talks are continuing. The earliest feasible date is Saturday 17 August, but Balpa stresses it is seeking a negotiated settlement and does not want to take industrial action.If a strike does go ahead, the amount of disruption depends how many BA pilots actually stop work. They have not taken industrial action for four decades, so it is impossible to predict behaviour.A feature of strikes at British Airways over the past decade – mainly involving cabin crew – is that a significant proportion of union members continue to work on stoppage days. What routes might be at risk?The airline is working on its contingency plans, but in order to get as many passengers to their destinations as possible there are some obvious candidates for cancellation – starting with the Singapore-Sydney section of BA’s only Australian route. It consumes a lot of pilot time and alternative carriers are readily available.Links on which there are frequent flights on British Airways’ partner airlines are also likely to see deep cuts: US points served by American Airlines, Heathrow to Barcelona and Madrid and Heathrow-Doha – where BA’s part-owner, Qatar Airways, has many daily flights.On very high-frequency links such as Heathrow-Geneva, services could be combined with larger aircraft used on fewer flights.The airline will endeavour to maintain a near-normal service on some routes that have a combination of high loads and high fares, particular on key long-haul links from Heathrow and Mediterranean links from Gatwick, using non-striking pilots and third-party airlines chartered in to cover.Routes such as Heathrow-Miami could be particularly prioritised because of the large number of passengers using the link in connection with cruises.But many of the 700 or so British Airways flights each day could be grounded, affecting tens of thousands of passengers on strike days – and some on “adjacent” days. BA will not roster pilots to, say, Los Angeles if they would be striking on the day they are due to fly back. When would cancellations be announced, and if my flight is grounded what will I be offered?If a strike is called, it is feasible that any passengers booked to travel during the spell of industrial action will be offered the option to cancel with a full refund, or change their travel dates away from the strike spell.This would reduce the scale of the problem for BA. When the airline has finalised its plans, passengers whose flights are cancelled are likely to be told a few days ahead.British Airways is obliged, under European air passengers’ rights rules, to get travellers to their destinations as swiftly as possible, buying tickets on other airlines – from easyJet to Emirates – if that is necessary.The big problem is: many flights are fully booked in late August, a peak month for travel.The airline also has an unlimited duty of care, providing meals and accommodation until the passenger can be transported to their destination. But it will deflect claims for “consequential losses,” such as hotel or rental car expenses that cannot be used.There is also the possibility of added “on-the-day” disruption – partly because air-traffic congestion in Europe is likely to delay many flights once again in August. Will I get compensation?Last year the Civil Aviation Authority was insistent that Ryanair should pay compensation of €250 or €400 per passenger, depending on the destination, and presumably it will urge any travellers affected by a British Airways strike to do the same; long-haul passengers would be entitled to €600 if their flights are cancelled with less than 14 days’ notice or delayed for over three hours.Coby Benson, flight delay compensation solicitor at Bott and Co, said: “The pay disputes are well within the airline’s control and the management of disgruntled staff is simply part and parcel of running any business and would not be considered an extraordinary circumstance." I can’t afford to wait to find out if my flight is cancelled. Should I book an alternative now?No. At present the airline is insisting normal terms and conditions apply for anyone who wants to change or cancel their flight.Were a strike to be called, it is likely that BA would allow some flexibility to passengers – for example offering full refunds, enabling travellers to seek alternative flights. But already fares on alternative airlines are increasing rapidly, as travellers making fresh arrangements book away from British Airways because of the strike threat.The dispute is already having an impact on bookings, which is a consequence of the strike ballot being called. Surely an August strike would cause untold damage to British Airways’ revenue and profits?Balpa says: “The cost to BA to settle dispute in full is significantly less than the cost would be of even a single day’s strike action.”On average, British Airways earns £35m in revenue per day. For each day of a pilots’ strike, the cost could run into tens of millions of pounds – involving lost revenue, additional care costs and buying tickets on other airlines.From BA’s perspective, August is not necessarily the most damaging month for a strike to take place. Business travel, which bankrolls the British Airways operation, is at a minimum.I sense that British Airways is prepared to take a strike rather than, as BA would see it, cave in. In the cabin crew dispute a decade ago, and more recently with the Mixed Fleet strikes, the airline has taken a relatively hard line. To offer pilots significantly more than Unite and GMB members have already settled for would cause significant industrial relations problems. Would you buy a ticket on BA from 17 August onwards – and, if so, would you expect to reach your destination?Yes, and yes. But not necessarily on time.

  • Send us a tip on great waterfalls the world over and win a £200 hotel voucher
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    The Guardian

    Send us a tip on great waterfalls the world over and win a £200 hotel voucher

    Hikers admire the 165-metre-high Engstligen falls in the Bernese Highlands, Switzerland. Photograph: Sloot/Getty ImagesThere are few natural landscape features as thrilling as torrents of water hurtling down cliffs, whether they are in Iceland, the Highlands, Yorkshire, Croatia, Brazil, Hawaii or Australia – the homes of some of the most celebrated. Many can only be reached at the end of long treks that make for adventure stories in themselves. Others have their own car parks, cafes and even hotels. Some can only be reached by taking a boat up a fjord or sea loch.Tell us about brilliant cascades anywhere, but bear in mind that we’ll only be publishing one entry for each waterfall, so if you tip the most famous (such as Victoria Falls or Niagara), you’re less likely to make the shortlist. And size isn’t all that matters; brilliant walks, views and landscapes are just as important. The experience is the thing.Please include details of how you reached the waterfall – whether it was a walk, a boat trip or a drive – and any information that would improve the experiences of other visitors. Any useful websites and, where relevant, places to stay should also be included.We would love to hear about your discoveries. Send tips from all parts of the world by filling in the form below, with as much detail as you can in around 100 words. We are sorry, but for legal reasons you must be a UK resident to enter this competition.Photographs are welcome if they are high-quality and you are happy to share, but it is the text that our judges will consider. If you do send photographs please ensure you are the copyright holder.The best tips will appear on the Guardian Travel website and may also appear in print in Guardian Travel. The winner, chosen by Tom Hall of Lonely Planet, will receive a £200 hotel voucher from UK.hotels.com.Competition closes Tuesday 30 July 2019, 10am BST If you’re having trouble using the form, click here. Read terms of service here.Read the terms and conditions

  • East Coast main line closure: Passengers stranded as overhead electric wire damage shuts rail line
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    The Independent

    East Coast main line closure: Passengers stranded as overhead electric wire damage shuts rail line

    Britain’s flagship rail line has come almost to a halt – with travellers urged not to try to travel today.Damage to the overhead electric wires between Grantham and Newark North Gate means no electric trains can run on a key section of the East Coast main line.Trains on the link from London King’s Cross to Yorkshire, Newcastle and Scotland have been cancelled or delayed by up to 90 minutes.The train due in from Leeds to King’s Cross at 4.01pm arrived 45 minutes late. The next four trains on the route were all cancelled.One train from London to Newcastle is operating 85 minutes late, and another to York is 90 minutes behind schedule.LNER, the main operator on the line, is advising passengers not to travel today.“Trains may be cancelled or delayed by up to 90 minutes,” the train operator said.“Some diesel trains will be able to divert via Gainsborough. Please allow for an extended journey time if you are on one of these trains.“Customers with tickets dated today, Tuesday 23 July may use their tickets tomorrow, Wednesday 24 July.“Customers who do decide to travel today can use tickets for cancelled services on the train before or after the service specified in the original booking.”Passengers between London and Scotland can use the West Coast main line between London Euston and Glasgow or Edinburgh.Travellers to Leeds can use East Midlands Trains from London St Pancras via Sheffield.Tickets will also be valid on TransPennine Express, Northern and CrossCountry for reasonable diversions. In addition, buses have been commissioned to run between Doncaster and Peterborough.

  • American Airlines passenger kicked off flight after bashing boyfriend with laptop for ‘looking at another woman’
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    The Independent

    American Airlines passenger kicked off flight after bashing boyfriend with laptop for ‘looking at another woman’

    A couple was removed from an American Airlines flight after the woman chased her boyfriend down the aisle and smashed a laptop computer over his head for “looking at another woman”.Shocking footage of the incident, which took place onboard a flight from Miami to Los Angeles, was shared on social media.In it, the female passenger can be heard loudly swearing at her other half.“You want to try to look at other women? F*** you,” she says.A flight attendant can be seen trying to calm the woman down, appealing to her by pointing out that a small child is sitting behind them.WARNING: The video below contains swearing.> hot girl summer has been postponed until further notice pic.twitter.com/FpxR61NA7G> > — Julia Scorupco (@juliascorupco) > > July 22, 2019“Yeah I know, I f***ing consoled the f***ing child,” the woman responds loudly.She also tells her boyfriend repeatedly to shut up.Another passenger can be heard saying, “Why don’t they take her off the plane?”After the man follows cabin crew instructions to accompany them to the front of the aircraft, his girlfriend chases him down the aisle and hits him with a laptop and her fists, causing other passengers to cry out in fear.The woman then barges past several flight attendants to retrieve her bag.“Ma’am, you’re going to be charged with assault,” one tells her, to which she responds: “Yeah, whatever.”The video was shared on Twitter by fellow passenger Julia Scorupco. “Yes she hulk smashed a Dell computer on his head,” she tweeted in a thread about the incident.The video quickly went viral and has been viewed 4.6 million times at the time of writing.An American Airlines spokesperson told The Independent: “Prior to departure from the gate on Sunday at Miami International Airport, two passengers who were travelling together were involved in a dispute. Law enforcement was requested, and both passengers were removed from the aircraft.“We thank the American crew who worked quickly to diffuse the situation. Their actions resulted in a safe environment for all of our passengers.”

  • Tourists blown back from jet blast as plane takes off metres away
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    The Independent

    Tourists blown back from jet blast as plane takes off metres away

    The nearest most people get to an airport runway is when they're sitting on an aircraft ready to depart.But at one Greek airport, tourists can get close enough to the runway to feel the force of a take-off.In video captured by YouTuber Cargospotter, people watching the take-off of a departing plane at Skiathos airport are seen being blown back from the force of the jet blast.As the Tui Airways aircraft gets ready for take-off, it is seen kicking up a cloud of dust in its wake.The jet blast forces tourists standing by a low wall just metres from the end of the runway to be pushed back.Later in the video, the force of a departing Air Horizont 737 aircraft almost causes a mini sandstorm.The airport on the Greek island is a popular tourist attraction, with planespotters lining up on the road behind the runway.People are warned not to get too close to the runway, with signs saying: “Danger. Please keep away from aircraft blast.”Last week, a British Airways Embraer E190 aircraft was filmed landing at Skiathos just metres above planespotters’ heads.Skiathos airport is dubbed by aviation enthusiasts “European St Maarten” due to its low landing. On the Caribbean island of St Maarten, hundreds of people gather to watch jumbo jets land just beyond a popular tourist beach.

  • The best boutique hotels in Manchester
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    The Independent

    The best boutique hotels in Manchester

    Manchester is a city full of energy, famous for its nightlife, music and sport. Its thriving cultural venues and exciting events, such as the Manchester International Festival, are also increasingly attracting international attention.A wave of new hotel openings in the last five years means that visitors have a fabulous choice of places to stay with more – such as the new Relais & Chateau Stock Exchange – set to open.From flamboyant stays in the heart of the action and cool-as-a-cucumber apartments, to out-of-town retreats, here are the Manchester boutique hotels you’ll struggle to leave. Best for a buzzy neighbourhood: The Cow Hollow Hotel Neighbourhood: The Northern QuarterIn the city centre’s hip Northern Quarter, with trendy bars, restaurants and shops on its doorstep, this chic hotel is ideally located for an action-packed city break. Owners Muj and Amelia Rana have paid attention to detail, with original features from the former textile warehouse complemented by bold modern statements, such as a fake palm tree in reception. Rooms are compact but stylish, with bronze rainfall showers, king-size Hypnos beds and Ren toiletries. And thoughtful extras such as prosecco and nibbles, Netflix access, milk and cookies before bed, and hairstyling kits will make you feel thoroughly spoilt.Rooms from £99 per night cowhollow.co.uk Best for relaxation: King Street Townhouse Neighbourhood: City centreThis comfortable cocoon of style in Manchester’s city centre is the place to stay if you need to unwind. Laze in its seventh-floor infinity spa pool while admiring the Town Hall’s clock opposite, settle into one of the afternoon tea lounge’s velvet sofas, or wallow in your roll-top bath (which are in all but entry-level Snug rooms). The interior décor in public areas is a delight, with locally-sourced artwork, statement lighting and parquet flooring, while the bedrooms share a calming colour scheme – but each is unique. There’s a small cinema in the cellar too, with select screenings for hotel guests.Rooms from £144 per night eclectichotels.co.uk/king-street-townhouse Best for nightlife: Velvet Hotel Neighbourhood: Canal StreetOn Manchester’s energetic Canal Street, surrounded by bars, clubs and restaurants, this flamboyant boutique hotel has 19 individually styled bedrooms. They range from dark, moody affairs with exposed brick and even a huge gothic mural, to spaces decorated in gentler blues, creams and golds. Some have four-poster beds, some enormous square bathtubs; guests seeking a specific feature should state their preference when booking. There’s a Marco Pierre White-branded Mr White’s English Chophouse in the basement and a buzzy bar. Rooms above the bar may experience some noise – but if you’re in Manchester for its nightlife, take advantage of the “party packages”, which include a discounted rate, a bottle of prosecco and a late check out.Rooms from £120 per night velvetmanchester.com Best for a romantic retreat: Great John Street Neighbourhood: St John’sOne of Manchester’s longest-standing boutique options is tucked away behind Deansgate in the city centre. In a former Victorian schoolhouse, its rooftop playground is a popular spot for parties, and you can enjoy a drink here or in the rooftop lounge, providing it isn’t reserved for a private event. Most bedrooms are duplex, with huge windows and have stand-out bathrooms – all have either roll-top or duck-egg shaped bathtubs, and some even have two. The attention to detail in the décor is impressive, with individually selected ornaments and lashings of velvet. The hotel’s sophisticated Oyster Bar serves afternoon tea and a small selection of mains. Rooms from £120 per night eclectichotels.co.uk/great-john-street/ Best for city slickers: Whitworth Locke Neighbourhood: Canal StreetThe rooms in this slick aparthotel are a refreshing change from the average chain offerings, decorated in blush pink with brass details and fully-equipped kitchenettes. Public areas are central to the experience and their cool interiors have been designed by New-York based Grzywinski+Pons. Intended as spaces for locals and guest to mingle, they include a coffee shop run by local independent Foundation, a glass-roofed cocktail bar, a jungle-themed co-working space, and a minimalist gym where regular yoga classes are held. Rooms from £99 per night lockeliving.com/whitworth-locke Best for history: ABode Manchester Neighbourhood: PiccadillyMany of the original features of this former 19th-century textile warehouse have been restored – expect parquet flooring, huge windows, original tiling and metal columns. These are complemented by classy décor in rooms, with tartan accents, book-themed feature walls and green glass-tiled bathrooms. The hotel’s location, just a two-minute walk from Piccadilly railway station, means the bars and restaurants of the Northern Quarter are nearby, but you’ll be tempted to sashay down the bar’s ‘catwalk’ to order a cocktail on your way out.Rooms from £129 per night, including breakfast abodemanchester.co.uk Best for theatrics: Hotel Gotham Neighbourhood: City centreSlip into this imposing Art Deco building, known as The King of King Street, to a world where staff are in character and bling is the order of the day. The building’s history as a former branch of the Midland Bank has been used as a theme, with senior staff dressed as pinstripe clad bank managers, moneybag do-not-disturb signs on doors, and toiletries atop gold bullion. Rooms are dark and moody with luxurious extras as standard – expect the use of a free mobile phone during your stay, coffee machines and marble bathrooms. Venture up to the private members’ club on the seventh floor and enjoy a drink on one of the three terraces looking out over Manchester’s rooftops, then request a table next to one of the arched windows in the hotel’s restaurant, Honey.Rooms from £150 per night hotelgotham.co.uk Best out-of-town retreat: Didsbury House Hotel Neighbourhood: DidsburyEscape the city centre and unwind in this Victorian villa in the well-to-do south Manchester suburb of Didsbury. Owner Sally O’Loughlin is in charge of interiors and she has created an elegant retreat, with statement wallpaper, locally commissioned artwork and thoughtful lighting. With extras such as Nespresso machines, Sky TV and Temple Spa toiletries as standard, rooms are hard to leave – especially if you have a roll-top bath. But if you do venture out, you can snuggle up in front of the fire in the lounge or enjoy a drink on the terrace.Rooms from £85 per night didsburyhouse.co.uk Best for boutique on a budget: The Abel Heywood Hotel Neighbourhood: Northern QuarterNamed after a former Manchester mayor and publisher, this pub with 15 rooms offers good value accommodation in the trendy Northern Quarter. Entry-level rooms are small but have everything you need if you’re visiting to take advantage of the city’s nightlife, while loft rooms have record players with a vinyl collection to rifle through, as well as a double sofa bed for extra guests. The pub itself is done out to look like a Victorian drinking spot, and its Jessie Heywood’s gin emporium has more than 70 types of gin to sample.Rooms from £70 per night abelheywood.co.uk Best for an adults-only escape: Malmaison Manchester Neighbourhood: PiccadillyA trusty classic on the Manchester hotel scene, the Malmaison Manchester may now have lots of competition, but its sense of fun will still make you smile. Although technically part of the Malmaison chain, it's boutique in feel. There are cheeky quotes on everything from light-boxes to toiletries, and its buzzy bar and restaurant are popular with locals as well as guests. The rooms in the hotel’s original Victorian building (once a Victorian dolls’ hospital) have been more recently refurbished than those in the newer block. With their cool grey tones, these rooms have more character due to their quirky shapes and sizes. Don’t forget to treat yourself to some pampering at the hotel’s small spa or nail bar during your stay.Rooms from £89 per night malmaison.com/locations/manchester

  • Game-changing staggered seating on flights receives FAA approval
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    The Independent

    Game-changing staggered seating on flights receives FAA approval

    A new staggered seating design that makes flying in the middle seat more comfortable has received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the US civil aviation body.The S1, an innovative seating structure that puts the middle airline seat several inches lower than and further back from the aisle and window seats, has already received orders from an unnamed US airline since gaining approval.It will be installed on 50 aircraft by the end of 2020, reports Fast Company. Molon Labe Seating has been developing the product for five years, with the aim of creating a type of seating that increases passengers’ comfort without reducing a plane’s capacity.The seats’ design also means every traveller has elbow room: armrests are angled so that the middle passenger can use the back portion and the window and aisle passengers can use the front.To make the middle seat even more desirable, at 21 inches rather than 18 it is several inches wider than the adjacent chairs in the S1 model.Every seat also comes with its own smartphone or tablet holder, USB port and latchless table.“We have discovered that what looks like a small stagger actually makes a huge difference,” said Molon Labe founder Hank Scott. “The trick is to actually sit in the seat. In fact, our main sales tool is to ship seats to airlines so they can sit in them.”While the S1 is designed for short-haul commuter flights, the company is also developing staggered S2 and S3 models for long-haul journeys, which come with the widest seats plus the biggest inflight entertainment systems in economy class on the market.The seats also have an optional bonus feature called “side slip”, which enables the aisle seat to slide over the centre seat.This design quirk means the aisles can be made wider during boarding, allowing passengers to get on and off the plane more quickly.

  • The best farm stays in Europe
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    The Independent

    The best farm stays in Europe

    Whether you’re looking for a gastronomic getaway or a hardcore hiking holiday in the great outdoors, farm stays have so much to offer for the adventurous traveller. Many have a real emphasis on food and sustainability, manufacturing incredible organic produce, such as wine and olive oil.Here’s my pick of the best farm stays in Europe. Best for cycling: Monnàber Vell, MallorcaWhether you’re an experienced cyclist or just fancy an afternoon pottering around the Tramuntana Mountains, the charming Monnàber Vell is a perfect starting point. Set in 400 acres of rustic land, the hotel offers trekking bikes to explore the surrounding countryside or rent something a little more serious to whizz over to the golden beaches of Pollença. After a hard day in the saddle, head back to the hotel and enjoy a restorative sports massage in the spa before tucking into dinner prepared with organic ingredients straight from the garden. Rooms start from £155 per night monnabervell.com Best for wine lovers: Tarantola Farmhouse, Sicily Situated in the bucolic surroundings of wine country in the north east of Sicily, Tarantola Farmhouse produces three excellent wines from their own vineyard: Conti Testa Chardonnay, Conti Testa Nero d'Avola and Conti Testa Cabernet Syrah. To help you navigate your way around the different grape varieties, the farmhouse offers guests a wine tasting course (from €15pp). It also specialises in organic food and produce everything on site, with the exception of meat. Chef Saverio is well known for his pasta dishes and holds regular cooking classes to help you recreate them once you’re back home (€65pp).Rooms start from £73 per night gorgodeldrago.it/menu1.htm Best for wellbeing: The Good Life, Syros, GreeceTravellers wanting to reconnect with nature will feel right at home at The Good Life, designated a "blue zone" by National Geographic for the long lifespan of its inhabitants, on the beautiful Greek Island of Syros. Stretch your legs with a long walk through the olive groves, realign your chakras at a yoga class and then make your way to the beach to cool off in the azure sea. Foodies can cook up a storm on the BBQ – the farm provides a delicious welcome pack with everything you need to stay sated – and keep refreshed with plenty of in-house wine. Visitors in autumn can also participate in the olive or grape harvest; pickers are rewarded with a slap up Greek meal grilled to perfection on the BBQ in the olive groves come evening.Rooms start from £54 per night goodlifegreece.com/farm-holidays-greece/ Best for foodies: Coombeshead Farm, Cornwall, UK You know something is going to be killer when you mix grill king Tom Adams (formerly of London's Pitt Cue) with the queen of Manhattan, April Bloomfield. The pair’s passion project is a remote getaway in the Cornish countryside, where guests can experience farm life and feast on modern British cuisine. After a fabulous dinner, wake up in one of the hotel’s five rooms and tuck into a full English breakfast before foraging in the beautiful valley and woodland surrounding the farm.Rooms start from £175 and dinner from £65pp coombesheadfarm.co.uk Best for chilling: Can Sastre, IbizaAfter a hard day’s night on the White Isle, relax with a drink by the beautiful pool at Can Sastre and savour the fresh scent of citrus fruits and honeysuckle wafting through the air. Located in San Rafael, just fifteen minutes from Ibiza Town, this stunning agriturismo is set within ten acres of land, complete with plenty of quiet courtyards, shady terraces and comfy hammocks. There are four rooms to choose from, each with their own Balearic-chic vibe, walk in showers and private terraces. Rooms start from £420 per night cansastre.com Best for hiking: Ecoparco Neule, SardiniaBetween the myrtle trees on the mountains overlooking the beautiful shores of Lake Cedrino in eastern Sardinia, Ecoparco Neule is perfectly situated for hikers seeking a taste of the good life. Start the day on the terrace with a hearty breakfast of local cheese, sausages and eggs, before joining one of the organised treks to explore the rugged coves and blissful beaches along the Orosei Gulf. Feeling adventurous? Head into the mountains and trek through the dramatic Gorropu Gorge. Rooms start from £68 per night agriturismoneule.com/iframe.htm

  • Boy who stole two planes for a joyride could receive pilot training
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    The Independent

    Boy who stole two planes for a joyride could receive pilot training

    A Chinese boy who stole two seaplanes and took them for a joyride could receive pilot training.The 13-year-old drove the aircraft around a car park before hitting a crash barrier with one, causing 8,000 yuan (£935) worth of damage, reports the South China Morning Post.He was caught on CCTV arriving by electric bike at the Taihu Lake hangar in eastern Zhejiang province around midnight on 15 July. The teenager from Huzhou city had spent a large part of the weekend observing staff doing maintenance work on the planes at the SeaRey base in preparation for the stunt.He was seen pulling a 450kg seaplane from its hangar, climbing into the cockpit and starting the engine.He proceeded to drive it around the airport, hitting the barrier before switching to another plane and taking it for a further three circuits of the car park.The prankster’s parents only realised what their son had been up to when staff contacted them to negotiate a settlement for the damage caused.However, he was praised for his observation skills, with the SeaRey base director saying: “We pilots all admired him.” The director added that he would like to train the teen to become a pilot at the base.It’s not the first time a teenager has attempted to commandeer an aircraft.In 2018 US police arrested two teenagers who stole a plane after driving a tractor onto an airport runway.Authorities in eastern Utah said the boys, aged 14 and 15, were seen “flying very low” over a major road after taking off in the small aircraft from a private airstrip.The pair stole the plane near the village of Jensen and later landed 13 miles away at a public airport in the city of Vernal.

  • How to pick your perfect Croatian island
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    The Independent

    How to pick your perfect Croatian island

    With 1,244 islands strewn all along Croatia’s long Adriatic coast, it can be hard to choose just one for a holiday. Admittedly, only 48 are inhabited, but even that’s a huge choice to start with.Here are a few suggestions that might help to narrow it down. Best for sandy beaches: RabIn country where sandy beaches are quite rare, little Rab, tucked into the Kvarner Gulf near Istria, manages to snaffle about 30 of them. The Lopar peninsula has some of Rab’s most popular beaches, including Rajska and its smaller neighbour Livačina, as well as Sahara naturist beach. Don’t miss beautiful Rab Town, with its narrow medieval streets and pine-sheltered town beaches.Where to stay: The stately four-star Imperial Hotel in Rab Town has doubles from €158 per night, B&B. Best for wine lovers: KorčulaIt’s not easy to get Croatian wine beyond its borders, which is an excellent reason to come to Korčula and try varieties that are found nowhere else. Head to Lumbarda and take a tour of Zure, Bire and Popić wineries that produce grk, a gorgeously dry white wine that’s not grown anywhere else in the world. And check out the sandy beaches around Lumbarda while you’re at it. Korčula Town is like a laid-back mini Dubrovnik, with a delightful old town built in a fishbone-shaped grid.Where to stay: Lumbarda Resorts has apartments in Lumbarda, with sea views and a pool, from €720 for six nights’ self-catering. Best for going off grid: Kornati IslandsThere’s a surreal beauty to the 89 islands that make up the Kornati National Park. They’re barren, seriously rustic – no mains water or electricity – and have more sheep than people. But if you’re looking for a peaceful place to hike through olive groves and swim in impossibly clear water, this is it. Vrulje on Kornat is the biggest settlement, where you can find a few simple restaurants in high season and private houses to rent. If you’re not in your own boat, book an excursion from the nearby island of Murter.Where to stay: The Cute Fisherman’s House sleeps four and has a five-night minimum rental for €139 per night, including transfer and the use of a boat. Best for greenery: MljetIt’s hard to find a more forested island in the Adriatic than green, serene Mljet – which includes another of Croatia’s national parks. Day-trippers from Dubrovnik barely scratch the surface, as they tend to stick to the national park at the western end. But that’s a very good place to start, with two saltwater lakes and loads of hiking and cycling trails to explore. Venture east to the sandy beaches at Saplunara and Limuni, stopping at the Odysseus grotto along the way.Where to stay: Villa Mirosa is a short walk from Saplunara and has a pool and doubles from €108, B&B. Best for easy access: KrkRijeka airport is actually on the Kvarner island of Krk, making it Croatia’s only island airport that serves UK airlines. So no fuss with ferries, leaving you more time to stroll around the Venetian marble streets of Krk Town and dive into its clean beaches. There’s more beach action further south at Baška, with a mile-long Blue Flag beach. If you have time, pop into the hilltop village of Vrbnik and seek out its unique vrbnička žlahtina white wine.Where to stay: Valamar Koralj in Krk Town faces its own swimming bay and has half-board doubles from €169 per night. Best for active holidays: BračMention Croatian beaches and Zlatni Rat usually springs to mind. This sun-bleached V-shaped beach that hangs off the southern coast of Brač at Bol is one of the country’s most distinctive images – and it has some fabulous windsurfing too. Thanks to the bura wind that blasts through the Adriatic, windsurfers and kitesurfers are in for an adventure in watersports hot spots including Povlja, Sutevan, Murvica and Sumartin. Hikers and mountain bikers can follow the trails up to the Adriatic’s highest point, Vidova Gora, at 778m, and soak up some sublime views.Where to stay: Stylish boutique Hotel Bol has a pool and doubles from €108, B&B. Best for relaxation: LošinjMaybe it’s the profusion of soothing wild herbs smothering this island in the Kvarner Gulf, but Lošinj instantly puts you in a mellow mood. Forested trails curve around much of the island, inviting lazy strolls and bike rides from beach to beach. From its main port, Mali Lošinj, you can join equally leisurely boat trips offering seafood picnics. From Veli Lošinj you can join excursions to spot the island’s colony of bottlenose dolphins.Where to stay: Villa Diana in a prime spot in front of Čikat Bay has half-board doubles from €177 a night. Best for romance: Sveti KlementWhile everyone else heads to Hvar and makes a busy island even busier, just 10 minutes away by boat is sleepy Sveti Klement. This car-free island has a wonderfully bohemian feel to it, especially thanks to the botanical gardens planted more than a century ago by botanist Eugen Meneghello at Palmižana. Soon bungalows and restaurants appeared in the grounds, which are still run by the Meneghello family. There’s little else to do but swim, eat, hike, snorkel and pootle around the island in a little boat. Perfect.Where to stay: Palmižana Meneghello has bungalows with gardens from €140 a night, B&B.

  • From Bojo beach to Jeremy Island, here's how to escape Britain's political turmoil
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    The Independent

    From Bojo beach to Jeremy Island, here's how to escape Britain's political turmoil

    All these deals have been checked on the morning of Tuesday 23 July. They are based on two people travelling together. Bojo Beach Resort, Ghana“Welcome to luxury and exotic pleasures,” trills the website for this complex at Kokrobite, on the Atlantic shore 20 miles west of the Ghanaian capital Accra. “Bojo beach presents its visitors with a series of exciting and adventurous experiences that will keep them coming back every time the opportunity presents itself.”Travelling on Wednesday 24 July for one week, the lowest fare is £1,018 on Royal Air Maroc from Gatwick via Casablanca. A standard room costs US$159 (£128). Jeremy Island, South CarolinaForty miles northeast of Charleston, low-lying Jeremy Island is on the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge – a jigsaw of creeks, barrier islands and salt marshes designated as “Class I Wilderness”.Resident and visiting wildlife includes almost 300 species of birds, the largest nesting population of loggerhead sea turtles outside Florida and two dozen types of reptiles.Thanks to the new British Airways link from Heathrow to Charleston, you can access Jeremy very easily. Departing on Thursday 25 July for a three-night stay in at the luxury Dewberry Charleston in the city’s historic district costs £1,294 through BA Holidays. Schengen, LuxembourgThis pretty village on the Moselle River is at the southeast corner of Luxembourg, at the point where France and Germany converge – which is why the name has been adopted Europe-wide to symbolise unity.Return flights on Flybe from Manchester to Luxembourg, out on Thursday 25 July and back on Sunday 28 July, cost a very reasonable £205 return. From March next year, all onward transport will be free, when Luxembourg becomes the first country to offer free buses, trams and trains nationwide. Until then, bus 315 from Luxembourg City costs €2 for the 39-minute journey.The best place to stay is the superb Youth Hostel in a renovated convent in the adjacent village of Remerschen, costing €20 (£18) per person per night. May Mountain, Idaho“It is, perhaps, the most interesting summit in the northern Lemhi Range,” says the Idaho Climbing Guide.” Properly equipped and guided, you can climb the 10,000-foot peak in a day. It is located 100 miles west of Yellowstone National Park, and West Yellowstone is the best gateway.Departing on 24 July for a week on Delta Airlines from Heathrow via Salt Lake City (with an overnight stay at your expense) costs £1,907 return.An alternative May Mountain is located in the state of Maine, described as “small and relatively isolated”. Tory Island, IrelandAs a backstop, you could always opt for most remote inhabited island off the coast of Ireland: where music and dance traditions are alive and well, as well as a wealth of wildlife. Fly to Donegal airport, voted the most beautiful in the world, on Loganair from Glasgow. Departing on Sunday 28 July for a week costs £215 return. The MV Queen Of Aran run by Tory Ferry sails four times a day from Magheroarty. The 45-minute voyage costs €25 return. The leading place to stay is the Tory Island Harbour View Hotel.Not everything on Wikipedia is accurate. The online encyclopaedia says: “The word Tory comes from the Middle Irish word Tóraidhe which means ‘bandit’.” Downing Street, Auckland, New ZealandThe furthest Downing Street from London SW1A 2AA is believed to be in the north Auckland suburb of Glenfield, 11,400 miles away. At number 10 is a 1970s detached home in extensive grounds, valued at NZ$900,000 (£487,000). A one-way ticket departing tonight on Air China via Beijing costs £1,036 through LastMinute.com.

  • British Airways strike: Pilots vote overwhelmingly for walkout over pay affecting thousands of flights
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    The Independent

    British Airways strike: Pilots vote overwhelmingly for walkout over pay affecting thousands of flights

    Millions of British Airways passengers booked to travel from the second week of August onwards face uncertainty about their flights, after 93 per cent of BA pilots voted in favour of industrial action on a turn-out of 90 per cent.The British Airline Pilots’ Association (Balpa) represents about 85 per cent of British Airways captains, senior first officers and first officers, which means that seven out of 10 of the airline’s pilots support a strike in their dispute over pay.Brian Strutton, general secretary of Balpa, said: “This strong result demonstrates the resolve of BA pilots, and shows BA that it must table a sensible improved offer if a strike is to be averted.“Sadly three days of Acas talks have not moved the company’s position one iota. Settlement of this dispute is in BA’s hands.“We do not wish to inconvenience our customers which is why we have tried to resolve this matter through negotiation starting last November – it is BA who has regrettably chosen to drag this out into the summer months.”The union has not announced any industrial action as it faces an immediate court challenge from the airline.BA is seeking a High Court injunction against Balpa on the grounds of legal technicalities involving the ballot.The hearing is scheduled for Tuesday morning at the High Court.British Airways says it is offering a pay rise worth 11.5 per cent over three years, well above the rate of inflation.The union says: ”Thankfully BA is no longer in a fight for survival so, like the airline’s senior managers and directors, pilots deserve a small fraction of that profit via, for instance, a profit share scheme.”Balpa says it will issue an update on strike action in due course.ere BA to be refused an injunction and a strike were announced tomorrow, the earliest it could begin is 6 August.All but around 500 of the airline’s 4,500 pilots belong to Balpa.Bookings for British Airways in August are heavy, with an estimated 3.75 million passengers booked to fly with the airline.The Independent has asked British Airways for a response.The current dispute covers pilots working at Heathrow and Gatwick. It does not involve the CityFlyer operation based at London City.

  • Emirates leaves disabled passenger ‘in limbo’ for three months after breaking her wheelchair
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    The Independent

    Emirates leaves disabled passenger ‘in limbo’ for three months after breaking her wheelchair

    A disabled passenger has spoken out against Emirates’ “appalling” treatment of her after the airline broke her wheelchair and failed to offer any response for almost three months.Jen Warren, an anaesthetist and mother of two from Rugby in the West Midlands, said the carrier had “really upset” her by leaving her “in limbo” since her flight on 24 April.“They’ve treated me absolutely appallingly,” she told The Independent. “Not only have they trashed my wheelchair, but they don’t seem to care.”The damage occurred during a return flight from Mauritius to Birmingham via Dubai.As soon as Ms Warren saw her wheelchair in the baggage reclaim hall, she knew something was amiss: “I couldn’t steer in a straight line at all,” she said. “Normally I push our one-year-old’s pushchair myself while my husband deals with the luggage, but I couldn’t.”They immediately reported the problem to baggage claims company K2 Global at the airport, who promptly offered to take away the chair and have it repaired, or gave Ms Warren the option of having it repaired locally.She opted for the latter as she didn’t want to be left without her chair for long.After several attempts to repair the damage failed, Ms Warren was forced to accept she would need a new wheelchair.She contacted K2 Global with a quote for a new one, and was told the information had been passed along to Emirates.However, after a month, Ms Warren had still heard nothing from the airline. She followed up with K2 Global in June, who assured her that several emails marked “urgent” had been sent to Emirates regarding her wheelchair.“I appreciate these things take time, but when you’re trying to use a chair that only goes in one direction and do a school run, it’s a nightmare,” said Ms Warren. “I’m an active user, I like to get out a lot. If I knew it would take this long, I would have got a new chair straight away.”She added: “If you took someone’s car keys or took away their shoes, they might appreciate how difficult it is.”At the time of first talking to The Independent on 18 July, Ms Warren had still heard nothing official from the airline.Correspondence with Emirates via social media produced lacklustre results, with representatives offering no timeframe or information on when Ms Warren might receive a response.“We’re still following up with our customer relations team,” wrote several different Emirates employees, despite the fact it had been nearly two months since the issue was initially raised.Ms Warren, who is currently on maternity leave, was forced to stump up almost £1,000 herself for a new wheelchair as she couldn’t claim on insurance without a response from the airline.“The uncertainty makes the situation much worse,” she said. “I’m fortunate in that I’m a doctor and could afford to buy a new chair, but I know a lot of people aren’t in that position.“People have no concept of how much a wheelchair costs. They think you can buy one off the shelf or replace it quite easily – but you can’t. It takes time to find the right size and they’re not easily adjustable.”The complete lack of response from Emirates has affected Ms Warren more than the financial outlay, she said.“I’d like them to recognise that they’ve taken away my main mobility aid for three months – I’m frustrated that they can ignore someone for this length of time,” said Ms Warren. “They’ve really, really upset me by this lack of communication.“I want them to look at their policy about how they deal with these types of things. Accidents happen, but it’s all about how you deal with them. “It’s not a particularly complicated issue to look into. They should be able to give you an offer within a couple of weeks and provide a replacement while they make a decision.” She added: “I’m sure if one of Emirates’ aeroplanes was out of action for three months, and they were told ‘Sorry for the delay, we’re looking into it’, they wouldn’t just accept it.”Since The Independent has been in touch, Emirates has finally sent Ms Warren an official email offering £650 towards the cost of a new wheelchair.A spokesperson said: “Emirates takes its responsibility for meeting the needs of our wheelchair passengers seriously and we apologise to the passenger for the time it has taken to resolve this matter. We are corresponding directly with the passenger and on 18 July shared a settlement offer with her.”

  • How to visit San Francisco on a budget
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    The Independent

    How to visit San Francisco on a budget

    American cities have a surprising knack for emptying your wallet, and San Francisco is no exception. Between the taxes that bump up every bill, pricey attractions and glasses of local wine that inexplicably cost $20 (£16), it doesn’t take long before you feel the pinch. But with a bit of forward planning and a dose of savvy, you can take in the city without breaking the bank. The best place to start? Your flight. Norwegian recently started flying to San Francisco International Airport from London Gatwick, replacing its flights to nearby Oakland. Their fares are a good deal cheaper than other carriers, though I’d recommend adding a checked bag, seat reservation and meal to your trip (£50) to make things more comfortable. The next expense will be accommodation. With even dorm beds in hostels running at around $50, it can be tough to find value. But don’t make the mistake of shifting further from the city centre – the last time I visited I stayed in an Airbnb in San Mateo, and the commute (and additional expense) was a pain. The Hilton San Francisco Union Square and Parc 55 hotels are bang in the middle of the city, and you can snag a good deal if you book in advance.The more popular tourist attractions can be pricey, so pick what you really want to see and plan around it. A trip to Alcatraz ($39.90), for example, is one you wouldn’t want to miss. You can buy direct or get a CityPASS ($94) that includes entry to Alcatraz – it’ll also get you 3 days of cable cars and M transport and other selected attractions, with an overall saving of 48 per cent. You can also get a CityPASS that includes entrance to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, if that’s more your bag. And a visit to SFMOMA ($25) is worth every penny. For one, it’s an absolute beast following an expansion in 2016 – the exhibition space is spread over 10 storeys, and nearly 45,000 square feet of the gallery is actually free to view. The free bit includes large scale installations including a seriously cool video mural entitled The Chronicles of San Francisco that’s on display until the summer of 2020. If you want a little more guidance as you mooch around the city, Wild SF offers walking tours that aren’t in any way dull or cringeworthy (as so many can be). Its street art tour of the Mission ($20) serves as an excellent introduction to this eclectic, cool district, and it also runs a Free SF tour every day in the city (though most people tip between $10-15). Fancy catching a ball game? Admission to Oracle Park is surprisingly cheap – tickets can start at $6 (making entrance far less than a beer inside, which can run up to $20). You can also catch a few innings for free in the standing room viewing area, though you’ll be on your feet for a while. Eating on a budget needn’t mean bad food. In fact, the cheapest Michelin starred restaurant in America is in San Francisco. Al’s Place is a cool little place in the Mission, where enviably hip wait staff bring out hearty, inventive dishes like brine pickled fries with apple sauce and rare duck with dollops of zingy peach chutney.Even fast food is done right. At Super Duper Burgers, the patties are all natural and freshly ground, the shakes are organic and the fries come doused with fresh garlic and aged cheddar, should you be so inclined (hot tip – you totally should). I took my burger around the corner to Yerba Buena Gardens and took in a free lunchtime concert. Street food culture is strong in San Francisco, as is the farmers market scene. Head to the Ferry Building Plaza on a Saturday morning and you can fill an organic cotton tote bag with juicy peaches, local kale and all the fixings for a picnic. In The Presidio national park, there’s a street food picnic every Sunday until October, with food trucks from local restaurants setting up shop and doling out dishes from all over the world to ravenous reception. My gooey, buttery grilled cheese sandwich cost $8, and a juicy mango, carved into a flower and doused in salt and cayenne pepper, was $7 (a good dollar’s worth dripped down my chin, but boy, was it worth it). The park itself is a revelation. Just a short hop from Union Square (the free PresidiGo Downtown Shuttle gets you there in 30 minutes) lies a huge expanse of wild Californian countryside, with dreamy views of the city below. You can walk one of the short trails, past Californian poppies and, in a discovery I found oddly thrilling, poison ivy.Another thrilling discovery? Musee Mécanique in Fisherman’s Wharf. I don’t win any cool points by admitting that I recognised it from The Princess Diaries, but even if you’re not a fan of early Anne Hathaway teen flicks, this free penny arcade is filled with antique games, where you can box with robots, get your fortune told or find out how hot you are. Only 25 cents to learn that I’m ‘mild’? Bargain. Travel essentials Getting thereFly to San Francisco from Gatwick with Norwegian, from £284.80 return. Staying thereRates at Parc 55 and Hilton San Francisco Union Square both start at $249, room only. Visiting thereSee sftravel.com

  • The best hotels in Malta
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    The Independent

    The best hotels in Malta

    Newbies to Malta, known for package deals offering sun and sea, have recently discovered what those in-the-know were already well aware of: that this is an extraordinary cultural destination with a unique history (and pre-history), as well as 300 days of sunshine a year and sparkling azure seas. Accommodation options on this central Mediterranean island have flourished in recent years, alongside its self-image. Boutique hotels and designer B&Bs, which are mostly historic on the outside and contemporary within, have been opening across the country. This is nowhere more true than in Malta’s charming little fortified capital, built by the Knights of St John (The Knights of Malta) overlooking the famous Grand Harbour. Valletta, already a Unesco World Heritage City, has been revitalised beyond recognition in the last few years, evolving into a thriving, buzzing bastion of cultural and culinary pleasure, with plenty of characterful places to reside in comfort.The island’s diminutive size also makes it ripe for exploration; it takes little more than an hour to drive the length of the island, meaning nowhere is far from anywhere.These are the best hotels in Malta. Best for colonial-era comfort: Phoenicia Neighbourhood: Valletta Malta’s first five-star hotel, this 1930s grande dame is still the home-from-home for British royals visiting the former colony. Ideally located abutting Valletta’s bastion walls just outside City Gate, it’s walking distance to all the sights, bars and restaurants of the capital, as well as ferries, buses and taxis. Being outside the walls, it has vehicle access right to the door and space for a long garden and infinity pool overlooking Marsamxett Harbour; a brand-new spa and fitness centre are also coming soon. Staying at the Phoenicia enables you to tick off a sight while sleeping. Doubles from €180 phoeniciamalta.com Best boutique with bonuses: Palazzo Consiglia Neighbourhood: Valletta Tucked tardis-like into a 400-year-old Valletta townhouse, this charming boutique hotel tops its 13 rooms with a roof terrace and plunge pool, and tails them with a small cellar spa complete with historic cistern-turned-whirlpool tub. Its restaurant (serving a plentiful, quality breakfast) occupies the old chapel, while the original limestone courtyard has been covered with a retractable roof providing all-weather sitting space, bar, foyer and breakfast extension. Friendly staff are happy to assist with reservations and navigation – plus everything in Malta’s lovely little capital is on your doorstep. Doubles from €190 palazzoconsiglia.com Best for a touch of contemporary cool: SU29 Neighbourhood: VallettaAt SU29, each of the suite-sized double rooms are completely different: from the Classic, complete with its own traditional Maltese gallarija (closed wooden balcony); to Fitness, adorned with a working punch bag and gloves to match for a bit of high-intensity fun before dinner. There are touches of humour throughout, such as a gnome table bearing your towel, for example, as well as a changing display of contemporary art, which is available for purchase. Outside, you step back into history on a typical narrow Valletta street of limestone steps just metres from the Upper Barrakka Gardens with their panoramic views of the Grand Harbour. Everything in the capital is in walking distance and on a clement Friday night, live jazz spills out onto SU29’s street from a neighbouring bar, along with a relaxed small crowd of Vallettans. Doubles from €165 su29hotel.com Best for peace: Corinthia Palace Neighbourhood: AttardIn a quiet, classy residential district opposite the president’s summer palace (in the public San Anton Gardens), the five-star Corinthia Palace offers a get-away-from-it-all option just 20 minutes’ drive from Valletta. Laze in the generous double pool in the peaceful garden, or sample the services of the spa – reopening after a full refurb by the beginning of 2020 – complete with substantial (and warm) indoor pool, sauna and an extensive menu of treatments. Your culinary needs are equally well catered for with the fine-dining Villa Corinthia flanked by the original villa around which the hotel was built, as well as the eastern Rickshaw restaurant, foyer bar-brasserie, and a contemporary Mediterranean Summer Kitchen for seasonal al fresco eating. Double rooms from €130 corinthia.com Best for living like a Maltese aristocrat: Xara Palace Neighbourhood: MdinaThe only hotel inside the walls of Malta’s first capital, Mdina, this is the place to stay to fully appreciate “The Silent City”. With the day-trippers gone, the medieval labyrinth of tiny limestone streets belongs to you and the old Maltese titled families who still have their palazzi inside Mdina’s bastions. The Xara Palace is itself a converted seventeenth-century palazzo – and still furnished like one too. Each room and suite is individual and art and objets d’art are dotted throughout. The covered central courtyard acts as bar and foyer while the excellent (if pricey) fine dining de Mondian French and Mediterranean restaurant occupies the top floor and long narrow bastion-top terrace with panoramic views over the island. Doubles from €250 xarapalace.com Best on a budget: Inhawi Boutique Hostel Neighbourhood: St Julian’s With its own pool, terrace and narrow strip of garden hung with a handful of hammocks, this remarkable-value hostel lies just off the buzzing waterfront of Balluta Bay. The hostel has a friendly boutique vibe and excellent facilities. Guests can self-cater in the large kitchen, complete with retractable roof, or head out into the eatery-encrusted streets of St Julian’s. Breakfast can also be inexpensively bought in-house on the terrace next to reception which by night becomes an independent (non-budget) gourmet restaurant. Each broad, comfortable bunk includes its own socket and bedside lamp and you can choose from a 12-bed dorm to a twin room. Double (twin) rooms from €40, dorm bunk from €12 inhawi.com Best all-inclusive seaside stay: DB Seabank Resort and Spa Neighbourhood: MelliehaAcross the road from Malta’s longest beach, the 1km golden-sand Mellieha Bay, the DB Seabank Resort and Spa features Malta’s largest hotel swimming pool, as well as an adults-only option and a substantial heated indoor pool. There’s a spa with sauna, steam room and treatments; a range of sports (on land and sea); an active kids club; and even its own bowling alley. Come evening, there may be dancing (kids get their own disco), a magician or floor show. There’s something for everyone on the food front too, with five restaurants falling within the all-inclusive tag and a sixth which can be sampled once during your stay: from a vast international buffet, to Brazilian meat-cut-at-your-table, and The Jungle, a rainforest-themed American diner with a kids’ play area at its centre. Double rooms (all-inclusive) from €90 (min stay four nights in winter, five in summer) dbhotelsresorts.com Best for trendsetters and art lovers: Boco Boutique Neighbourhood: Bormla/Cospicua, Three CitiesOn a residential street in the still-traditional but increasingly trendy area of the Three Cities where Bormla (Cospicua) borders Birgu (Vittoriosa), this imaginative arty boutique spends a fair time with its tongue gently in its cheek. Rise from your comfortable bed, flanked by lightbox lamps, to take a shower and you’ll find someone has got there before you – a painted figure on the glass screen like a contemporary head-in-the-hole seaside photo op. Rooms are numbered with a pantone shade for the colour of the room. Frankly, the place is fun – and in a great spot too. All the sights of Birgu can be reached on foot and it’s less than five minutes to the ferry that takes 15 minutes to cross the famous Grand Harbour to Valletta. Double rooms from €75 bocoboutique.com Best for living like a (luxurious) local: Loggia Mariposa Neighbourhood: NaxxarNaxxar was an entirely residential area until relatively recently, although a few B&Bs, several restaurants and a couple of little bar-coffee shops have now been introduced. It’s still a traditionally upmarket Maltese market town, however, and settling in here you can live like a (lucky) local. Loggia Mariposa is an elegant Aladdin’s Cave of the owner’s collections, with a sleek sunken plunge-pool out the back for cooling off, and a traditional limestone dining room where the owner serves a set-you-up breakfast including homemade cakes and jams. It’s a few minutes’ walk to the vast parish church, much admired by the Maltese, and the Versailles-inspired Palazzo Parisio with its fine-dining Luna restaurant. Doubles from €100 loggiamariposa.com Best for a scenic Gozitan getaway: Ta’ Cenc & Spa Neighbourhood: Sannat, Gozo Placed between the traditional Gozitan village of Sannat and the top of the towering Ta’ Cenc cliffs, this hotel is all about the location. The hotel also offers peaceful attractive terraces – on one of which a large buffet breakfast is served – two generous-sized outdoor pools, comfortable rooms and a spa with sauna, treatment rooms and a delightful inside-outside pool atmospherically lit as the sun goes down. Service has been a bit variable over the years but it’s a real treat to be able to wander out onto the rocky garigue, dotted with ancient dolmens, and watch the sun set into the sea 145m below. Wandering the other way takes you into a typical Gozitan village square complete with over-sized parish church, band club (with local bar), and – in this case – Beppe’s steakhouse which serves up some of the best steak in Malta. Doubles from €140 tacenc.com

  • Two planes collide at Nashville Airport
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    The Independent

    Two planes collide at Nashville Airport

    Two Southwest Airlines collided on the tarmac at Nashville International Airport, resulting in one plane’s wingtip being clipped.The incident happened when both planes were pulling back from their respective gates for take-off. No-one was injured, although both aircraft were removed from service for a maintenance evaluation.The planes were due to depart for St Louis, Missouri, and Atlanta, Georgia. It’s understood that passengers were transferred to other planes to continue their journeys. One passenger onboard one of the flights posted a photograph of a damaged plane wing to Twitter, saying “Welcome to Crashville”.> Welcome to Crashville. Got stuck waiting on a plane at BNA due to weather on the way back to Atlanta. We finally pull back and they crash the plane into another plane. Took the S right off. What’s going on @SouthwestAir Crashville outhwest Letsgo pic.twitter.com/zZrf5JP3sZ> > — eric borden (@HundredproofEB) > > July 21, 2019

  • Air travellers could be hit with ‘opt-out’ carbon tax on flights
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    The Independent

    Air travellers could be hit with ‘opt-out’ carbon tax on flights

    The government is considering adding an opt-out carbon tax to flights as part of a new call for evidence.Launched by Transport Secretary Chris Grayling, the Department for Transport campaign is inviting people to share their views on whether it should be mandatory for companies selling tickets for flights, ferries, trains and coach travel to be transparent about carbon emissions and offer offsetting options at the point of sale.The Carbon Offsetting in Transport call for evidence highlights that one barrier to uptake from passengers is a lack of awareness about the availability and purpose of carbon offsetting schemes.“One way to increase uptake could be to follow an opt-out rather than opt-in model, under which the cost of offsetting carbon emissions would be automatically included for consumers, unless they selected not to pay to offset their emissions,” suggests the DfT.However, it stresses that any such initiative should still be “voluntary”.The transport sector produces the greatest share of UK greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for approximately one third of carbon emissions in 2018.Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: “Climate change affects every one of us and we are committed to ensuring that transport plays its part in delivering net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.“An offsetting scheme could help inform travellers about how much carbon their journey produces and provide the opportunity to fund schemes, like tree planting, to compensate for those emissions.“However, our focus remains to target the development, production and uptake of zero emission technology across all modes of transport.”The call for evidence will address consumer concerns about whether their carbon offsetting payments are supporting worthwhile, quality projects. It will also explore consumer awareness about the amount of carbon produced by different modes of transport and how passengers might offset the emissions from their journey.A number of airlines, including Ryanair, already offer passengers the opportunity to offset their emissions during the booking process.“UK airlines are committed to decarbonising aviation and are working with government to continue progress through the introduction of new greener technologies, including more efficient aircraft and engines, sustainable aviation fuels and vital airspace modernisation,” said Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK.“As a global sector, international carbon offsetting has a critical role to play in enabling aviation to reach our targets, and UK airlines are participating in the global carbon offsetting scheme – Corsia – which will deliver carbon neutral global aviation growth from 2020.”The call for evidence is the latest move in the government’s drive to achieve “net zero” carbon emissions by 2050.The consultation closes at 11.45pm on 26 September 2019.

  • The best spa hotels in the Lake District
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    The Independent

    The best spa hotels in the Lake District

    Every year, some 15 million people pitch up to explore the craggy fells and gleaming mountain tarns of the Lake District National Park. But this place – once just a collection of remote Cumberland counties, bordered by the Irish Sea and the Pennines – didn’t even get its name until 1730.But ever since the romantic poets arrived in the 19th century, Lakeland (as it’s known by locals) has been a cultural phenomenon, beloved by Wordsworth, Coleridge, Ransome and, of course, Beatrix Potter, who lived and wrote in the Lakes. Now a Unesco World Heritage Site, it’s as popular as ever, meaning you’ll need a restful spot to kick back in and escape the crowds with a soothing spa session.Here’s our pick of the best spa hotels in the Lake District. Brimstone Neighbourhood: WindermereArguably the sultriest hotel in the Lakes, the chalet-style Brimstone comes with neutral-hued suites, side-by-side slipper baths, moody lighting and a private spa just for two. Set on the original site of a gunpowder works at the foot of a million-year-old volcano, it’s part of the picturesque Langdale Estate, surrounded by brooding fens, sinuous lakes and owl-flecked forests. Choose from candlelit massages and body treatments, get invigorated via the networks of foot baths, ice showers, steam rooms and saunas, then float on your back in the heated rooftop pool as the moon casts its glow across the water. Spa suites from £490 per night brimstonehotel.co.uk Gilpin Hotel & Lake House Neighbourhood: Windermere The folks at Gilpin Hotel & Lake House have built their brand on the ethos of "kicking back". The Swedish-style Jetty Spa comprises a series of soothingly Scandi wooden buildings designed so you take a "spa trail" winding through the deer-speckled forest, popping into private pools and spa suites, where you can get your knots kneaded in front of a roaring fire, and cabins for aromatherapy treatments overlooking the water. Try hot stone massages in the early evening as the mists roll in, then chill out at the boat house for cream tea and Lakeland views. If you want something more energetic, there’s fishing, shooting, horse-riding, mountain biking and paintballing, too. Classic rooms from £180 per night thegilpin.co.uk Lodore Falls Hotel and Spa Neighbourhood: Derwentwater There’s nothing fussy about this lodge-style Victorian building, with its central tower, tall gables and a light touch and contemporary feel throughout. But its Falls Spa – overlooking the beautiful waterfalls, lakes and mountains of Derwentwater – is surprisingly swish, with a champagne bar, outdoor hydrotherapy pool, thermal suite and free boot hire so you can pound the surrounding walking trails with muddy glee. There’s also a private Rasul room for Arabian wellness rituals and unusual "liquid gold" scalp massages. Spa suites from £460 per night lakedistrictspa.co.uk Rothay Garden Hotel & Riverside Spa Neighbourhood: Grasmere > View this post on Instagram> > When it's a grey day outside, our riverside spa is the perfect retreat. spa lakedistrict grasmere> > A post shared by Rothay Garden Hotel (@rothaygardenhotel) on Mar 10, 2017 at 6:50am PST

  • British Airways grounds Cairo flights: Key questions and answers
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    The Independent

    British Airways grounds Cairo flights: Key questions and answers

    All British Airways flights between London Heathrow and Cairo have been cancelled for a week because of heightened security concerns.BA made the decision shortly before the Saturday evening departure of its usual daily flight from Heathrow to the Egyptian capital.German airline Lufthansa later followed suit, grounding its Saturday night flights from Frankfurt and Munich to Cairo and the early inbound services on Sunday from Egypt. What was it that prompted British Airways and Lufthansa to ground their planes?The Foreign Office says: “There’s a heightened risk of terrorism against aviation. Additional security measures are in place for flights departing from Egypt to the UK.”British Airways says: “We constantly review our security arrangements at all our airports around the world, and have suspended flights to Cairo for seven days as a precaution to allow for further assessment.“The safety and security of our customers and crew is always our priority, and we would never operate an aircraft unless it was safe to do so.Lufthansa suspended services from its two hubs to Cairo on Saturday, with cancellations of early flights from the Egyptian capital to Germany. But after that, flights will resume. A Lufthansa spokesperson said: “We took the decision as a precaution but after assessing the situation will be operating as normal.”Egyptair is continuing to fly twice daily between Heathrow and Cairo.The circumstances indicated there is intelligence available to European governments about a specific threat involving flights departing from Cairo airport; flights to and from Hurghada airport, the main Egyptian gateway from the UK, have continued as normal. Who uses the British Airways flights?Despite the Pyramids, the Egyptian Museum and a wealth of other attractions, Cairo is no longer a big destination for British tourists. The BA flights are used mainly by passengers with family connections in Egypt, people connecting from other destinations at Heathrow, and by business travellers. Is it unusual for an airline to cancel flights on specific route like this?Yes, highly unusual – especially for a specific timeframe as in this case of exactly one week. No British Airways tickets are available on the route any time up to Saturday 27 July, but flights are on sale again from Sunday.This has to be seen in the context of the tragedy on 31 October 2015, when a Russian passenger jet crashed shortly after take off from Sharm el Sheikh airport in Egypt. It’s thought a bomb placed on board at the airport was responsible for the deaths of 224 people. Shortly afterwards, the Foreign Office imposed a ban on all UK airlines flying from the airport, which serves Egypt’s premier resort.Intelligence reports express similar concerns about a threat to western aircraft at Cairo. What about other UK airlines?Flights are continuing as normal. The main operator is Thomas Cook, which flies daily from Manchester to the Red Sea resort of Hurghada, as well as other flights from Birmingham, Gatwick and Newcastle. It also has a link between Birmingham and Marsa Alam. The other significant airline is easyJet, which flies to Hurghada from Gatwick. A spokesperson said: “We will continue our flying programme as planned, but this will be kept under continuous review.“We adhere to any guidance and advice given by the authorities.” What are passengers’ rights if they were booked on British Airways?The airline is offering a choice between a full refund, postponing their journey or being rebooked on other flights – which, if sufficient space is available, will be on Egyptair.But if other European airlines join BA and Lufthansa in cancelling flights, there will be a serious shortage of seats at what’s a very busy time. And what about people who are booked to travel on other flights between the UK and Egypt but now don’t want to fly?Unless the Foreign Office itself grounds planes, as it has done in the case of Sharm el Sheikh, then normal conditions will apply and passengers will not be able to cancel without losing some or all of their money. The same goes for people with package holidays booked to Egypt: they have no legal right to a refund or different destinations, though they may find their holiday company is sympathetic.Thomas Cook is still selling packages for later this month.Travel insurance firms will not refund the cost of holidays for what is termed “disinclination to travel”.

  • Second airline suspends flights to Cairo over ‘security concerns’
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    The Independent

    Second airline suspends flights to Cairo over ‘security concerns’

    German airline Lufthansa has followed British Airways in suspending flights to Cairo, citing security concerns.A Lufthansa spokesman told The Independent two flights to the Egyptian capital had been cancelled.He said the airline’s service to and from the city would resume on Sunday.More follows

  • British Airways suspends flights to Cairo for seven days as security ‘precaution’
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    The Independent

    British Airways suspends flights to Cairo for seven days as security ‘precaution’

    British Airways has suspended all flights to Cairo for seven days as a security precaution.The airline announced on Saturday evening that all flights into the Egyptian capital had been halted to allow for an assessment of security there.“We constantly review our security arrangements at all our airports around the world, and have suspended flights to Cairo for seven days as a precaution to allow for further assessment,” a statement said.“The safety and security of our customers and crew is always our priority, and we would never operate an aircraft unless it was safe to do so.”A spokesperson for the airline declined to provide further information about the suspensions, saying the company did not comment on security matters.Three Egyptian airport security sources told the Reuters news agency that British staff were checking security at Cairo airport on Wednesday and Thursday.It is understood British Airways made the Department for Transport aware of its decision ahead of the announcement.A government spokesperson said: “We are aware that British Airways is notifying passengers that it has decided to suspend flights to Cairo temporarily.”Cairo Airport website’s arrivals page listed flight BA155 from London, due to arrive in Terminal 2 at 11.15pm local time, as cancelled.The British Foreign Office advises against all but essential travel by air to and from the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, but has not issued similar warnings against air travel to and from Cairo.“An estimated 415,000 British nationals visited Egypt in 2018,” according to the website’s advice page, which was last updated on Friday. “Most visits are trouble free.“Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Egypt. Although most attacks occur in North Sinai, there is a risk of terrorist attacks across the country.”Some affected passengers used social media to share pictures which appeared to show a letter handed out by British Airways with a similar message about security.

  • Electric dreams: at last a glimpse of reality
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    The Independent

    Electric dreams: at last a glimpse of reality

    Over a weekend when everyone is gazing back into space, allow me a glance towards the future of aviation.The most exciting technological development for your flying and mine in the coming decades is nothing to do with high speed or ultra-long range. Rather, it is about slow, short but clean hops.Electric cars are easy. Weight is not too much of an issue, extremes of power are unnecessary and when the battery starts running down you can safely and easily pull into one of the increasing number of service stations with fast-charge facilities, buy a cup of tea and read an article like this before you motor on, quietly. My first experience this week of a fully electric car, a Nissan Leaf on the A5 in north Wales this week, made me realise that it is an extremely civilised form of transport. So what is to stop the same basic concept expanding to aviation? Physics.While small electric-powered craft have made successful flights, the challenge is to create planes that are big enough and have sufficient range to compete with conventional aircraft.The main issue is that aviation fuel contains a vast amount of energy in each kilogram, and has the added bonus of vanishing once it has done its work – conveniently reducing the weight of the plane, and therefore its fuel burn.The problem for designers of clean planes: boosting the power-to-weight ratio of the batteries. Even the most efficient cells struggle to deliver more than a tiny fraction of hydrocarbon power from the equivalent weight.Wright Electric, which aims “for every short flight to be electric within 20 years”, candidly admits that its plans depend on the weight (and volume) of batteries shrinking while power remains constant: “With present technology, we’d quickly use up all our energy at takeoff and never get anywhere.”Of the many start-ups seeking to revolutionise air travel, Wright was the first to team up with a leading UK airline, easyJet. But the budget airline will be strictly kerosene powered for the foreseeable future.Across at Heathrow, the airport’s boss says the first electric-hybrid aircraft to use Heathrow Airport will escape landing charges for a year – a prize worth up to £1m – and hopes it will be touching down by 2030. Note the “hybrid” – with the punch of hydrocarbons pushing the plane into the sky, before batteries taking care of the cruise.But at the Paris Air Show in June, the tiny US airline Cape Air signed a “letter of intent” for 10 or more nine-seater commuter planes made by Eviation.The name of the plane is Alice. The aircraft manufacturer says: “Alice uses distributed propulsion with one main pusher propeller at the tail and two pusher propellers at the wingtips to reduce drag, create redundancy, and improve efficiency.“We’re bridging distances and opening a range of new destinations accessible for on-demand transportation by enabling emission-free air travel for the price of a train ticket.”Its electric plane, called Alice, will fly up to 650 miles at an impressive 300mph.Cape Air is the perfect customer. It is based in Hyannis on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and mainly flies rich people to and from their homes in Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. The airline currently uses small Cessna 402 aircraft, with about the same payload. The fare for a Friday evening 91-mile, 48-minute hop between Boston and Nantucket is an impressive $339 (£271), which would help pay the $4m (£3.2m) price tag on those planes.A letter of intent, let me remind you, is a non-binding order; British Airways’ parent company, IAG, signed one with Boeing for 200 737 Max jets at the same French fair.But if commercial electric aviation is to flourish, it will need to start with short hops for wealthy individuals. Tomorrow Cape Cod – perhaps the day after, the Isles of Scilly.

  • Airline KLM accused of sending ‘homophobic’ email about cabin crew ‘approaching’ same-sex couples
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    The Independent

    Airline KLM accused of sending ‘homophobic’ email about cabin crew ‘approaching’ same-sex couples

    Dutch airline KLM has come under fire after a customer published a screenshot of a “homophobic” email allegedly sent to them by a customer service representative.Twitter user @ErinClaireSF posted the correspondence on the social media platform, along with the caption: “Gay brothers and sisters, KLM will approach you and let you know someone has complained about you holding hands on board. The crew will decide the best course of action.”The original message the customer service agent was responding to wasn’t shared, but the alleged KLM response in the screen shot begins by addressing a query about the airline’s breastfeeding policy.“The Twitter post is simply a reminder to mothers breastfeeding on board that they may be told by the cabin staff to cover up in case somebody a passenger for example, tell the cabin crew they are uncomfortable on what they are seeing,” it says.It continues: “Same as with the same-sex relationship that you gave as an example, if needed be the cabin crew can approach the said party and base on the response they were given, then they would act and respond accordingly.> Gay brothers and sisters, @KLM will approach you and let you know someone has complained about you holding hands on board. The crew will decide the best course of action. Cc: @stonewalluk pic.twitter.com/t8dJTBwcsy> > — Erin ‘Normalise It’ Resists (@ErinClaireSF) > > July 18, 2019“This type of concern is on a case to case basis, and should be dealt with based upon the response of the said parties.”The email appears to have been sent from KLM UK Reservations, and is signed off simply “Aaron”.Social media users were shocked by the email, with one Twitter user commenting: “This is just support for homophobia. When someone says ‘those two guys are holding hands, it offends me’ the only proper response is telling them to f*** off back to the 1950s.”A KLM spokesperson told The Independent: “We’re currently investigating this reply as it does not represent our official point of view at all. We understand this reply is offending and we distance ourselves completely from it.”The airline says it is taking the accusation “very seriously”.It is the third time the beleaguered airline has hit the headlines in recent weeks.A mother expressed her shock at being asked to “cover up” while breastfeeding during a recent KLM flight, while an ill-advised tweet from the airline indicating the seats in which passengers are most likely to die on an aircraft also ruffled feathers on the five-year anniversary of the MH17 crash which killed all 298 passengers and crew.