Traveldesk: Value in Queens and piste in North Korea

Fionn Davenports rounds up this week's travel news

Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge, also the 59th Street Bridge

Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge, also the 59th Street Bridge

 

FIVE ATTRACTIONS IN MILAN

After a hugely successful Expo 2015, Milan is set to flex its tourist muscles in 2016; the city has partnered with New York to boost visitors and encourage people to visit for the Triennale design show next April. Here are five things to put on your Milan itinerary.

Ansaldo Workshops (Via Bergognone 34; teatroallascala.org; admission €5) Almost better than seeing an opera at La Scala is visiting the workshops where the stage sets are crafted and between 800 and 1,000 new costumes are handmade for every season. There are tours on Tuesdays and Thursdays, which must be booked in advance.

Chiesa di San Maurizio (Corso Magenta 15) The stunning 16th-century royal chapel has wall-to-wall frescoes, many done by Leonardo collaborator Bernardino Luini. The convent hall is lined with martyred saints – including St Lucia holding her eyes and St Agata with her breasts on a platter.

Pinacoteca di Brera (Via Brera 28; brera.beniculturali.it; admission €10) Napoleon’s “gift” to Milan is this fine collection of Old Masters, largely nicked from Venice: Rembrandt, Goya, Van Dyck and a host of Italians (Titian, Tintoretto and Veronese; Mantegna’s Lamentation over the Dead Christ is especially powerful).

Quadrilatero d’Oro Virtually every high-end fashion house is represented in the quadrangle of cobbled streets that make up the world’s fanciest shopping district: Via della Spiga, Via Monte Napoleone, Via Manzoni and Via Sant’Andrea. Shoppers will salivate.

‘The Last Supper’ (Piazza Santa Maria delle Grazie 2; cenacolovinciano.net; admission €8) Twenty-two years of restoration hasn’t done much to reinforce the fragility of Milan’s most famous art work. There’s a 15-minute limit on viewing time. Leonardo Da Vinci’s mural is as resplendent as its many thousands of touristy reproductions are drab. There are English-language tours (€3.50) twice a day; book in advance.

 

QUEENS FOR VALUE

Looking for the best hotel deals in New York? Queens is your best bet, according to a survey conducted by the New York Times.

The average price of a three-star hotel in Queens is $159, compared to $241 in Manhattan and $185 in Brooklyn. In the four-star bracket, Queens came out best at $238, whereas in Manhattan you’ll pay an average of $298 and in Brooklyn, $249.

The survey analysed room rates over the course of a year on bookings.com and eliminated any property that ranked below eight out of 10 in customer satisfaction and was more than 30 minutes from the major transport hubs in Manhattan: Grand Central Station, the World Trade Center, Union Square and Port Authority.

The survey also revealed that a large number of hotels in Queens and Brooklyn included breakfast in their room rate, which is rare in Manhattan.

 

PISTE IN NORTH KOREA

It might seem the unlikeliest of ski destinations, but North Korea has launched a series of ski tours aimed at foreign visitors. The 1,360-metre-high Masik-Ryong ski resort opened late last year in the east of the country, and includes 20km of trails, a luxury resort and restaurants.

It is the pet project of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, who apparently enjoyed skiing while studying in Switzerland and is committed to growing tourism numbers from 200,000 to 1 million a year.

Beijing-based Koryo Tours (koryogroup.com) offers packages from €1,290 for four days.

 

LGBT CRUISE OPTION

A new cruise line dedicated to the LGBT community has just been launched. Anteros Cruises (named after the Greek god) will begin sailing in the Caribbean and the Mediterranean in April 2017.

The 400-capacity yet-to-be named luxury ship will offer designer interiors, personalised service, a higher-than-average staff-to-guest ratio and Internet connectivity. Itineraries and events will be customised for the LGBT community. “Our number one priority is making our guests feel comfortable, relaxed, and open, so they can be themselves while enjoying our luxury yacht-like cruise experience,” says company director David Huang.

See anteroscruises.com

 

53 PROOVES THE MAGIC NUMBER

Comparison site Momodo has joined the popular debate on when the best time to buy your flight is and has come up with 53 days ahead of departure. It analysed booking data and found that flights were on average 26 per cent cheaper than last-minute prices. It also found that Tuesday flights were 12 per cent cheaper than Saturday flights, and flying at night would save you 6 per cent on flying at midday.

See momodo.com

 

GET AWAY AT HOME

The Radisson Blu (radissonhotelgalway.com) in Galway has midweek deals from €119 for two with the additional option of using the Spirit One Spa for €89 per person.

The Brehon (thebrehon.com) in Killarney has a two-night B&B deal for €199 per person sharing that includes one four-course dinner and a visit to Muckross House. The offer is valid weekends until December 18.

The Heritage (theheritage.com) in Killenard, Co Laois has an overnight B&B break from €105 per person sharing that includes dinner in the Arlington; it’s valid weekends only until Jan 31, 2016.

 

MICRO-GUIDE BORDEAUX

STAY Ecolodge des Chartrons (23 rue Raze; ecolodgedeschartrons.com; room from €120) Stonewashed traditional house in the heart of the Chartrons wine-merchant district.

EAT La Tupina (6 rue Porte de la Monnaie; latupina.com; menus €18-74) Southwestern French cuisine par excellence, including dishes such as milk-fed lamb and goose wings.

DO École du Vin (3 cours du 30 Juillet; bordeaux.com; two-hour classes €25) Two-hour introductory courses to wine-tasting run from July to September; two- and three-day courses (including châteaux visits) start at €335.

 

€254 BUDAPEST: 4 nights in K9 Residence Apartments. Includes flights and cycling tour. For travel November 30; see justsplit.com

€629 GRAN CANARIA CHRISTMAS: 7 nights’ all-inclusive at 3-star Ifa Interclub Atlantic. Includes flights, for travel December 19. See falconholidays.ie

€775 MALAGA: 5-day escorted tour staying at Malaga Parador Golf. Includes flights, four dinners and tours of Malaga and white villages of Andalucia and Nerja. Price per person sharing for travel on January 1. Book before December 1; see maptravel.ie