Travel desk: Luxury French retreat, where to bare all in Munich, and ‘Mad Men’ lounges to visit

Sat, Apr 19, 2014, 01:00

ARTIST'S RETREAT
Domaine de la Baume, the 18th-century mansion of Expressionist painter Bernard Buffet (1928-99), has opened this weekend as the newest hotel in the luxury Maisons & Hotels Sibuet group. The 99-acre estate in Tourtour, 130km northeast of Marseille (served by Aer Lingus and Ryanair), features 15 bedrooms (23 more will be added next year), tennis courts, a swimming pool, an equestrian centre and an aromatherapy spa, as well as gardens that include olive groves and an apiary. Rates start at €433 for a double, including breakfast and dinner for two with wine. See domaine-delabaume.com

IRISH TRAVEL WEBSITES NOT UP TO CODE
Nearly 80 per cent of Irish travel websites surveyed by the European Commission were not compliant with consumer rights and despite the intercession of the National Consumer Agency – including cases taken against Aer Lingus and Ryanair – more than 50 per cent remain non-compliant (the two airlines now comply). Of 24 sites checked, 21 were found to have irregularities, the most common being lack of transparent complaints procedure, failure to present optional price supplements and not indicating the total price.


MUNICH'S PLACES TO BARE ALL
As of this week, it is legal to take your clothes off in public in Munich – so long as you stick to one of six newly designated nudist zones spread throughout the city. The zones are all in public parks, including three in the beautiful Englischer Garten (above), a short walk from the city centre and a longtime favourite spot for naturalists. The new law formalizes a long-established practice, and comes after months of debate following the lapse of Bavaria’s public nudity law last autumn.


TOP FIVE MAD MEN LOUNGES
Mad Men is back on TV. Here are five New York lounges where you can indulge your inner Don and Peggy amid the clink of ice cubes:


BRANDY LIBRARY
There are more than 120 different cocktails on the menu at the Tribeca lounge, including the classic sidecar, as well hundreds of types of brandies and whiskies, served in a clubby atmosphere (memberships are available).
25 North Moore St; brandylibrary.com


EMPLOYEES ONLY
If you want a seat at this elegant, old-school bar, you have to show up when it opens at 6pm. Once in, order Don Draper’s favourite drink, an Old Fashioned (usually whiskey or brandy with bitters and sugar, and a twist) – it’s reputed to be the best place in the city to drink one.
510 Hudson St; employeesonlynyc.com


PEGU CLUB
The epicentre of New York’s cocktail revolution is this stylish bar with hand-carved wooden decorations and understated paper lamps, designed in imitation of the original Pegu, a British officers’ club that opened in Rangoon in 1880. All the classics are expertly prepared and a nice touch is your own box of four eyedroppers – lemon, lime, bitters and syrup – for personalised adjustments to your drink.
77 West Houston St; peguclub.com


PLEASE DON'T TELL
Better known by its initials PDT, this is a bar with a speakeasy vibe – and it’s accessed via a telephone box at the back of a gourmet hot dog cafe (dial ‘1’ on the phone and they’ll let you in). Once inside, it’s all about the excellent cocktails (and of course the feeling of having discovered a secret bar).
113 St Mark’s Place; pdtnyc.com


TEMPLE BAR
A cocktail lounge with 1920s decor, it’s the kind of place you’d imagine the cast of The Great Gatsby would hang out. The house specialty is a whiskey sour, but they really know how to mix a decent drink.
332 Lafayette St; templebarnyc.com

INTO THE WILD IN CANADA
Canadian Affair has launched a series of season-specific packages aimed at discovering the country’s wildlife (bears, whales, caribou, wolves and eagles) in their natural habitats. The “Canadian Big 5” collection ranges from overnight packages to see grey wolves in Quebec (€239, June to September) to a four-night polar bear sightseeing trip in northern Manitoba (€2,419, including flights from Winnipeg to Churchill, October 30th or November 12th). Whale-watching season is May to October – a seven-day viewing package starts at €769. Prices do not include flights to Canada.
See canadianaffair.ie

I'D RATHER HAVE BREAKFAST
According to a new survey by hotels.com, travellers would opt for a free breakfast over free wifi, but still rank connectivity above room size or a shower. In the top 10 hotel amenities, breakfast was more important than 24-hour desk service, a bar or air-conditioning. Non-smoking rooms ranked seventh in the list of in-room amenities, below coffee and tea-making facilities but above daily housekeeping.

MICRO-GUIDE: CAPETOWN
STAY Tintswalo Atlantic (Chapman’s Peak Dr, Hout Bay; tintswalo.com; single/double €350/€480). The only luxury lodge in Table Mountain National Park – with views to match.
EAT The Kitchen (111 Sir Lowry Rd, Woodstock; karendudley.co.za; €3.50-€5). In a city laden with great restaurants, this gourmet sandwich spot was Michelle Obama’s favourite.
DO Franschhoek. Don’t miss a day trip to Cape Wineland’s smallest but prettiest town, with some of the best restaurants in South Africa.

DEALS OF THE WEEK
PORTUGAL €499 7 nights self-catering at 3-star Palmeiras de Santa Eulalia Apartments in Albufeira. Departs from Cork or Dublin, August 30th or 31st; sunway.ie
FJORDS €1,599 Five-night escorted tour of Norwegian fjords, including journey on the Flam Railway and visits to Bryggen, Naeroyfjord and Geirangerfjord. Half-board; flights to Oslo extra. See project-travel.ie
INDIA €1,899 10-night fully escorted tour of India, with overnights in Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Jodhpur and Udaipur. Includes flights, transfers and guided tours. No single supplement charged. Departs September 1; see traveldepartment.ie