The Highland Council has raised the possibility of introducing a tourist tax. Chris Taylor, VisitScotland regional leadership director, told The Independent: “Tourism is hugely important to the Highlands, supporting 16,000 jobs in the region and drawing millions of visitors each year.
A new boutique aparthotel features rooms designed to mimic the experience of being in the womb to help guests have a good night’s sleep. The Zed Rooms, opening in Shoreditch, London, are serviced apartments designed by experts to encourage REM-rich slumber. There’s also a bespoke sleep menu with dishes that are rich in serotonin, melatonin and tryptophan, created in partnership with Detox Kitchen.
There are fractures in the glass windows of Orania.Berlin, a chi-chi new boutique hotel in Kreuzberg. When Google unveiled plans for a new campus here, there was vociferous opposition with the outcry “Google go home”. It did – but even now there are white signs in shop windows with Google’s logo hidden behind a red no entry cross.
Thousands of holidaymakers appear to have lost money after being directed by TripAdvisor and Trivago to an Asia-based agency called HotelQuickly. Many readers have contacted The Independent after receiving alarming emails that suggest they may have been scammed – having made full payment, the reservation is then cancelled and a refund offered only in the form of a voucher. Les Davis said: “It looks as if HotelQuickly are either conning, defrauding or going bankrupt.
Northern Rail passengers will continue to suffer from overcrowding and delays as the company confirmed it had made only “modest changes” to its updated timetable, released on 9 December. Further timetable enhancements have been postponed until May 2019. Recent months have seen Northern Rail services hit by numerous delays and cancellations, while short trains with too few carriages at peak times have led to overcrowding.
Although I’d like to pretend I’m special, any Tom, Dick or Hans can play ’sleb in these parts by booking the Perrier-Jouet experience – priced at €92 for two people – which allows you to take a turn (or five) in the Kirchenkarbahn while chowing on steak tartare, smoked salmon, cured meats olives, tomatoes and bread and quaffing champers until mildly pickled. On the 75-minute transfer from Innsbruck we’d looked aghast at the exceedingly green valley – but, at 2,150m, Hochgurgl sneered at such woes.
Airlines are at risk of breaking consumer law by cancelling a passenger’s entire itinerary if they fail to check in for one flight, a consumer group has claimed.
New Zealand Police investigating the murder of British backpacker Grace Millane say that a body has been found and the search for the young traveller from Essex is now at an end. A 26-year-old man currently being held by police has been charged with killing Grace. As her family and friends grieve for her loss, the tragedy raises questions about the safety of travellers abroad – in particular young people on gap years.
Rail travellers are anxiously awaiting the introduction of new train timetables, which take effect across Britain on Sunday morning. The rail industry has warned of possible “pockets of disruption” when new schedules take effect. Services on Northern, TransPennine Express and Thameslink unravelled almost immediately – causing one in five of Britain’s rail passengers to suffer “extreme inconvenience and costly, stressful and sometimes dangerous disruption to their daily lives”, according to the Transport Select Committee.
Virgin Atlantic pilots who are members of the Professional Pilots Union (PPU) will strike over Christmas, the union has announced. PPU members overwhelmingly backed strike action in a recent ballot, with 71.5 per cent of the 72 per cent of those who voted in favour of industrial action. Virgin Atlantic does not recognise the PPU despite the fact it represents the largest number of the airline’s pilots, instead opting to deal only with the British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa).
Travellers for Paris this weekend will encounter a city under siege, with key tourist attractions – including the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre – closed “due to exceptional circumstances” on Saturday. French authorities are deploying 90,000 police and security forces across the country ahead of more anti-government riots and violence this weekend by the gilets jaunes protestors. Armoured vehicles will also be on the streets of Paris.
Virgin Atlantic has released mesmerising timelapse footage of an aircraft being given an elaborate makeover, complete with full paint job in Virgin’s livery and an interior redesign. The plane was one of four Airbus A330-200 models purchased in March by the airline from Air Berlin, which ceased operations in 2017. The aircraft in the video, named Daydream Believer, is seen being given a whole new coat of paint on the exterior, with wingtips and tail emblazoned in Virgin’s signature red, in a hangar at Manchester airport.
This might just be the dream job for keen travellers who want to see the world while getting paid – an anonymous family has advertised a post for a “lifestyle” photographer to accompany them on their travels around the world and document their trips. The request was shared on Perflocal, which pairs snappers with those looking for professional photographers, with the annual salary listed as £80,000.
On other airlines, such as British Airways and Singapore, my preference would be very clear: upstairs on an A380 “SuperJumbo”. Downstairs on the main deck of the A380 is reasonable: 10 seats abreast, in a 3-4-3 formation, there is 25 inches per seat. Compare this with the nine-abreast/3-3-3 Boeing 787 “Dreamliner”, which offers only 22 inches per seat.
Calling all Downton Abbey super fans – the estate where much of the popular show was filmed is opening its doors for a Christmas dinner on 15 December. Highclere Castle, a 5,000-acre country estate in Hampshire that provided the backdrop to many of Downton’s iconic scenes, will be offering the experience on just one date during the festive season. The dinner will include charred salmon and avocado salad to start, roast turkey, fondant potatoes, sprouts with chestnuts and Vichy carrots for the main and Christmas pudding with brandy cream sauce to finish.
Just 85.9 per cent of UK trains hit the punctuality target during the period, a fall of 2.5 per cent compared to the previous year, data from the Office of Rail and Road shows. It comes as train fares are set to jump 3.1 per cent in January, which will add almost £150 to a season ticket between Brighton and London.
In Railwayland, the second Sunday in December is a time to rejoice: the day winter train timetables change across Europe and beyond, and often the date chosen to launch faster trains and new routes. The latest European Rail Timetable reveals some of the improvements from 9 December: new day and night expresses between Berlin and Vienna, better air-rail links at Munich and Kiev, high-speed trains from Tangier to Casablanca and a restored connection between Moscow and Samarkand. First, some good news: trains that were axed from the schedules on the East Coast main line “to improve reliability” are being restored, meaning Stirling will once again be linked with London.
Northern Rail services will be disrupted again on Saturday 8 December, with the train operator running a much-reduced schedule in response to a planned strike. The strikes were called as part of an ongoing dispute over the role of train guards and rail safety involving the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union. Travellers have been affected by bouts of industrial action taken by Northern Rail staff in March and June.
A male passenger had to be restrained by cabin crew on a British Airways flight after allegedly trying to punch fellow travellers. The unnamed man was filmed being held down by crew and passengers while they used what appeared to be seatbelts to form a harness to keep him in place. The incident occurred on 5 December on a flight from London Heathrow to Singapore.
The iconic ‘I Amsterdam’ letters in front of the city’s Rijksmuseum have been dismantled amid claims that they were encouraging mass tourism. According to the city’s tourism bureau, “these letters were removed at the request of the City of Amsterdam because they were drawing too big of a crowd to an already limited space”. After the slogan was removed, Amsterdam designer Pauline Wiersema erected three more letters spelling ‘HUH’.
Sir Terry Morgan has resigned as chairman of HS2 Ltd and Crossrail Ltd, the Department for Transport has said. Allan Cook has been confirmed as the new chair of HS2 Ltd. A successor for Sir Terry on Crossrail Ltd will be announced in due course, the government has said. Sir Terry recently joined HS2 Ltd and was chairman of Crossrail Ltd for almost a decade.
The Northern Lights could be seen in the UK tonight, experts have said. The phenomenon could be visible as far south as the north of England, Northern Ireland and Scotland. Scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) say there is a 45 per cent chance of G1-class geomagnetic storms on 5 December, when a coronal mass ejection (CME) is expected to hit Earth’s magnetic field.
While rail travellers in Britain prepare for tickets to cost 3.1 per cent more in 2019, Luxembourg is set to become the first country in the world to abolish all fares on public transport. A new coalition government is taking office in the Grand Duchy with the promise of abolishing tickets on trains, trams and buses next summer. At present fares are capped at a low level: €2 for up to two hours of travel, which in the small nation covers almost any journey.
Laid-back yet lively, Brussels still happily flies under the radar of many a city breaker. There’s much more to the de facto European capital than head-turning brews, art nouveau gems and medieval marvels – though those have enduring appeal, too. A little scratch behind the institutional façade reveals hip boutiques, restaurants doing exciting things with local produce and a thriving art and music scene.
The silent Grundig wireless sets, empty wine bottles and tired musical instruments made for diverting lunch decor in Ghibabo. After a protracted independence war and 20 years of unresolved border conflict, a peace agreement between Eritrea and Ethiopia was signed in July. Ethiopian Amharic voices are still a novelty in Asmara.