Traveldesk: Crowd-sourced dining and mandela themed holidays

Fionn Davenport rounds up this weeks travel deals and news



The underlying philosophy of social dining platform VizEat is that there’s nothing like a home-cooked meal. Launched in 2014 by a French couple inspired by sharing an Indian meal at Lake Titicaca in Peru, VizEat does for dining what AirBnB does for accommodation, offering diners and chefs a platform to meet and eat. VizEat now has 20,000 members across more than 50 countries, including Ireland.

Pick your destination, date and price range and then select from a range of meal types, from wine-tasting on a Parisian rooftop to eating home-made pasta in Rome.

Other variables like dietary restrictions and preferred language eliminate any awkward interactions and once you’ve settled the details, VizEat puts you in touch with your host to make arrangements including payment. Like AirBnB, VizEat then allows you to rate your host for other members to see. See


South African tourism has launched a new campaign built around a Nelson Mandela-themed itinerary. Called Madiba’s Journey, the itinerary features 27 tourist attractions and sites associated with the great man – one for every year of his incarceration – including Robben Island, the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg and the Mandela family home on Vilakazi Street in Soweto (right) (Archbishop Desmond Tutu lived on the same street, making it the only one in the world to have been home to two Nobel Peace Prize winners). To help plan a trip there is a website and a mobile app available; the app includes audio guides to all the attractions. See


A new flight-search site,, offers flexible fliers a new way to plan their breaks. It promises to cut time and hassle spent booking by allowing users to input a broad range of destinations and travel periods – for example, Europe June to September – and returns results showing the lowest fares for dozens of flight options. A test search for departures from Dublin between now and the end of the year shows that the cheapest three- day option in Europe was Copenhagen on December 14th (€118 return), seven days in Bangkok cost €574 if you leave on November 28th, and going to New York costs €457 if you fly on November 19th – via Amsterdam. The site doesn’t yet have a booking capability, so once you’ve clicked on a fare you are directed to CheapOair or Priceline to seal the deal.


US company Planetary Resources is busy working an ultra-fast “hyperloop” vacuum tube that will eventually transport passengers at speeds up to 1220k/mh between Dubai and Abu Dhabi, cutting travel time from 90 minutes to just 15. Here are five hotels in Dubai where you can gather your senses at journey’s end:

Barjeel Heritage Guest House (Shindagha Waterfront, near Heritage Village;; rooms from €90): One of the best budget options in Dubai Creek is this riad-style hotel with rooms wrapped around lovely courtyard. Four-poster beds, majilis-style couches in the suites and its location right on the waterfront make this a terrific choice.

Grand Midwest Tower (Sheikh Zayed Rd;; rooms from €100): You won’t get better value for money than at this modern hotel equipped with big self-catering studio and apartments decked out in stylish furnishings, comfortable beds and fast internet. There is a handful of pools, staff are super-friendly and it is right next to a metro station.

Jumeirah Zabeel Saray (West Crescent, Palm Jumeirah;; room from €440): Lavish and luxurious, the Zabeel Saray is designed in the style of an Ottoman palace. Everything is sumptuous, from the vast public spaces to the beautiful rooms, but still manages the rarest of Dubai feats – to be OTT without spilling over into vulgarity.

Palace Downtown Dubai (Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Boulevard, Old Town Island;; rooms from €350): As charmingly understated as it is compellingly chic, this lakefront hotel has beautiful rooms decorated in a combination of old-world elegance and arab splendour. All of the rooms overlook the Dubai fountain.

XVA Hotel (off Al Fahidi Street, Al Fahidi historic district;; room from €170): A heritage hotel in an old wind-tower in the heart of old Dubai, the 13 rooms of this lovely boutique hotel have gorgeous arabesque touches and lots of tasteful artwork. Breakfast is served in the downstairs cafe.


Delphi Adventure Resort ( in Leenane has a two-night midweek break with dinner, seaweed bath and use of the thermal suite for €188.50 per person sharing. The Galway Bay Hotel ( has a Cuan Spa Break for €129 pps that includes one night’s B&B, dinner and a choice of either facial, massage and mini pedicure or manicure. Maryborough Hotel and Spa (maryborough. com) in Cork city has an overnight spa break with dinner and one treatment for €350, but it is valid only until November 15th


STAY Der Teufelhof (Leonhardsgraben 49;; rooms from €160) Two hotels in one: the stylishly modern Kunsthotel and the elegantly old-world Galeriehotel annexe, in a converted convent next door.

EAT Weinstube Gifthüttli (Schneidergasse 11;; mains €26-35) Excellent first-floor restaurant serving Swiss specialities including stuffed veal and pork.

DO Fondation Beyeler (Baselstrasse 101;; admission €22) The Renzo Piano-designed building is incredible, but the collection it houses, assembled by former art dealers, is spectacular.