News, deals and holiday inspiration
Toronto is getting ready to host the fourth WorldPride in June
A renovated lake view deluxe room at Ashford Castle, which reopens on March 14th
Set sail with Celebrity Cruises which has announced a new Suite Class for premium guests
Toronto takes Pride
Toronto is gearing up to host the fourth WorldPride, which will run from June 20th-29th, with a huge menu of cultural events, talks, street fairs, gigs and parades aimed at promoting and celebrating LGBT issues and communities. Most of the city’s art galleries and museums are participating. R ’n’ B singers Deborah Cox and Martha Wash, along with DJ David Morales, are just some of the performers lined up. It is estimated that WorldPride 2014 will be one of the biggest international festivals ever held. See worldpridetoronto.com.
Stena Line has announced that from March 31st, it will operate the Celtic Link ferry from Rosslare to Cherbourg, which runs a three-times weekly service (Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday) between Ireland and France, on the MV Celtic Horizon. Stena’s route manager Ian Davies predicts “long-term growth in tourist and freight traffic from the continent” and assures us that Celtic Horizon will continue to operate a year- round service.
For bookings and information, check out stenaline.ie.
Ashford Castle for under €100
Ashford Castle used to have Ireland’s most expensive rooms, but when the partially refurbished hotel reopens on March 14th, a standard room will cost as little as €95. It has been a busy year for the former Guinness family home: new owners Beatrice and Stanley Tollman of the Red Carnation Group, paid €20m to buy the hotel out of receivership, before closing it in January for a phased renovation. So far, some of the public areas and 30 of the 83 rooms have been renovated and wifi is now available throughout. A billiard room and cinema are being built and an indoor pool and spa will be ready by spring 2015, along with the remaining rooms. Pictured is a refurbished deluxe room.
FIVE FOR FREE IN AMSTERDAM
The big party in Amsterdam takes place on April 27th for Koninsdag [King’s Day] which replaced Queen’s Day following the accession of Willem-Alexander in 2013. It’s a great city for a party, but here are five things to do that won’t cost a penny:
The one-hour tour of this huge workshop offers a terrific insight into the process that transforms a dull stone into a girl’s best friend: you’ll get a quick lesson in the four Cs (clarity, cut, colour and carat) and watch diamond cutters in action. Nieuwe Uilenburgerstraat 173-175; gassan.com
One of Amsterdam’s most lovely sites, this cluster of historic buildings was once the 14th-century convent of the Beguine Order, the last of whom died in the 1970s. The courtyard chapel is beautiful, as is the late 14th-century Engelse Kerk. Dating from 1465, the house at No 34 is Holland’s oldest preserved wooden structure. The entrance is off Gedempte Begijnensloot. begijnhofamsterdam.nl
Most visitors to Amsterdam’s top museum ignore the Renaissance and Baroque gardens with their carefully manicured flowerbeds, elegant fountains and architectural fragments from 500 years of Dutch architecture. There’s also sculpture , including works by Henry Moore.
Museumstraat 1; rijksmuseum.nl
Civic Guard Gallery
Portraits of Amsterdam’s wealthiest and most powerful citizens – including a disproportionate number of soldiers – make up the collection at this gallery, part of the Amsterdam Museum next door. Kalverstraat 92; amsterdammuseum.nl
Amsterdam’s biggest market is the retail embodiment of the city’s multicultural identity. From local cheeses to Surina- mese snacks, you’ll find food for every taste, as well as clothes and knick-knacks.
Albert Cuypstraat, between Ferdinand Bolstraat and Van Woustraat.
Celebrity Suite Class
Celebrity Cruises, which has carved out a successful niche in the cruise market with its brand of affordable luxury (think W Hotel on the water for trendy 40-somethings), has announced a new Suite Class for its premium guests, which will give them their own restaurant, with an exclusive menu, complimentary access to all the speciality restaurants, premium beverages and free internet access. The new class will be operational from April 2015; what it will cost has yet to be announced. See celebritycruises.ie for more.
Lie back in business
Aer Lingus has finally taken steps to keep up with its competitors in business class, with bigger and better seats promised on all transatlantic flights by early 2015. The promised seat will be wider (24 inches to the current 21 inches), and will extend back into a fully horizontal lie-flat bed (the existing one is at an angle which gets uncomfortable after a while).
The cabin layout will change from the the existing 2-2-2 to a 1-2-1 style, which will give all passengers aisle access.
The travel show
Listen in to Fionn Davenport talking cruise holidays with Ross Golden Bannon and Joan Scales on Monday in The Travel Show. The Travel Show is available from irishtimes.com/life-and-style/travel and also from soundcloud.com and iTunes.
Deals of the week
€479 Three nights in Iceland, including flights from Dublin to Keflavik and transfers. Departs April 12th; see leetravel.ie
€1,054 Six-night 4-star-plus taster tour of India (Delhi, Agra and Jaipur). Price includes flights, taxes and transfers. Book by March 14th; incredibleindia.ie
STAY Brody House (VIII Brody Sandor utca 10; brodyhouse.com; rooms from €70). Former residence of the prime minister, now a chic boutique hotel – but there’s no lift.
EAT Csalogany 26 (I Csalogany utca 26; csalogany26.hu; four- to eight-course menus €26/€39) Small place in Buda, some say the best in town.
DRINK Muvesz Kavehaz (VI Andrassy út 29; muveszkavehaz.hu). The Artist’s Café dates from 1898.