Travel Desk: Live like an Austrian emperor for €699 a night

News, deals and holiday inspiration including 53 days on a luxury round-the-world train (and plane) trip and five great airport restaurants

Sat, Mar 29, 2014, 01:00

Stay at the Schönbrunn
Austrian emperor Franz Joseph’s lavish, 1,441-room summer palace (above) is Vienna’s number one tourist attraction, and now visitors will have the opportunity to experience the palace as overnight guests with the opening of a new suite in the palace’s East Wing. The new apartment has two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a salon, a living room and a kitchenette.

The basic overnight package costs €699; the Imperial Suite package, which includes a carriage ride, 24-hour butler and chef, a limousine service and a private guided tour of the palace, costs €4,900. The suite launches April 30th; see austria-trend.at for details and bookings.

Experience village life in Indonesia
Indonesia’s Ministry of Tourism has announced plans to develop 561 villages for tourism in 2014, encouraging visitors to sample village life beyond the resorts of Bali and Lombok. The project spans 19 provinces and will give tourists a deeper insight into a country with 350 ethnic groups. One of the villages being developed is Kembang Arum in Yogyakarta, one of Java’s most important cultural regions. Visitors will be able to take batik courses, learn about Javanese gamelan music and try their hand at ploughing rice paddies. Semarang (the nearest airport to Yogyakarta) is a one-hour flight west of Denpasar in Bali. For information on Indonesia, see indonesia.travel.

Around the world by luxury train
It’s a train lovers’ trip of a lifetime: a 53-day escorted journey around the world aboard some of the world’s most luxurious trains, including the Tsar’s Gold private train from Mongolia to Moscow and the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express (left) to Paris. Train holiday specialist Great Rail Journeys has just announced details of this epic trip, which includes visits to the Terracotta Warriors in X’ian, Lake Baikal on the Russian steppes, the American West and the great cities of Old Europe. The five-star trip costs €26,294 (€31,497 with single supplement), which works out at €496 a day. Included are flights (London to New York and San Francisco to Shanghai), rail travel, accommodation and most meals. The trip departs London on May 18th, 2015; see greatrail.com.

Design a ski resort
Club Med has asked clients to take a role in designing its resort in the French Alps, scheduled to open in Val Thorens at the end of the year. Club Med Facebook fans can weigh in on the resort’s name and logo as well as its interior design (everything from wallpaper to armchairs), and what the après-ski scene should offer. See apps.facebook.com/clubmed-myvalthorens.


The world’s best airport restaurants
Heston Blumenthal is opening Perfectionists’ Café in Heathrow’s Terminal 2 on June 2nd, offering passengers a high-end take on British classics. Here are five other airport restaurants worth a detour:

Altitude, Geneva
Michelin-starred Dupont & Byrne’s eponymous chefs, Gilles Dupont and Dublin-born Thomas Byrne, helped chef Fabien Legon design an exquisite menu of French classics served in this third-floor restaurant overlooking the runway and the Alps beyond. See altitude-geneva.ch.

Bubbles Seafood & Wine Bar, Amsterdam Schipol
Plump oysters and a signature dish of traditional raw herring with bread and onions are the culinary incentive, but the real draw of this restaurant in Departure Lounge 1 is the extensive Champagne and wine menu, enjoyed in full view of the bar’s huge saltwater aquarium. It’s the sister restaurant of Amsterdam’s Bubbles & Wines. See bubblesandwines.com.

Leehyun Bibimbap, Seoul-Incheon International Airport
The airport food court is home to outlets serving cuisines from all over the world including Leehyun Bibimbap, where you can eat a fabulous version of the national dish – a bowl of white rice and namul (sautéed, seasoned vegetables), gochujang (chilli pepper paste), topped with sliced beef and either a raw or fried egg. Duty-Free Area 3F, near Gate 12.

Piquillo, JFK Airport, New York
If you’re travelling JetBlue from Terminal 5, then Piquillo is the standout spot in the extensive food court (and the best choice for food in the entire airport). It serves a wide range of tapas and a good selection of Spanish red wines. JFK Terminal 5.

Porta Gaig, Barcelona
This sensational restaurant by Michelin-starred chef Carles Gaig (his other spot is Fonda Gaig, in the middle of town) is many people’s choice for the best airport restaurant in the world. Fabulous Catalan specialities are served in a bright, elegant dining room. It’s in Terminal 1, Planta 3.

Ferry to Little Sri Lanka
New York City Tourism has launched a new campaign to draw tourists to Staten Island. Despite featuring in a recent episode of Lena Dunham’s Girls, Staten Island is New York’s forgotten borough, but it’s worth exploring. A trip on the ferry (above) is one of the best things you can do in New York. Once there, it’s all about the up-and-coming neighbourhood of Tompkinsville (aka Little Sri Lanka), where cricket is played instead of baseball and authentic Sri Lankan restaurants have sprung up. Recommended choices include New Asha (322 Victory Blvd; mains under $10) and Lakruwana Gourmet (668 Bay St).

Micro-Guide: Boston
STAY Ames Hotel (1 Court St; ameshotel.com; rooms from $280) Modern minimalist hotel in a classic 19th century building.
EAT Pomodoro (319 Hanover St; mains from $23) North End hole-in-the-wall that serves sensational Italian food.
DO Fenway Park (4 Yawkey Way; redsox.com; tickets $25-125) Watch Boston’s beloved Red Sox play baseball in America’s oldest stadium.

Deals of the week
€629 LANZAROTE: Seven nights half-board at 4-star Coronas Playa, Costa Teguise, Lanzarote. Price pps. Depart April 27; thomsonholidays.ie.
€1,318 PORTUGAL: even nights B&B for family of four (two adults, two kids) in a junior suite at 4-star Vila Gale Hotel, Cascais, Portugal. Includes transfers and surf lessons. April 13th-20th; see surfholidays.com.
€2,889 MYANMAR: 12-day escorted tour of Myanmar. Includes all flights (including four internal flights), transfers, entrance fees, tour guide and two lunches. See discovertravel.ie.

Travel show
The new-look Ryanair and the future of air travel will feature on Monday’s show, see irishtimes.com/life-and-style/travel/travel-show.

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