Thailand Reopens with Hospital Perks

Thailand is allowing five Bangkok hotels, “Alternative State Quarantine hotels,” to offer fourteen day luxury quarantine passes.

A Mövenpick Resort has Bt58,000 ($1,832) “Homecoming Health Watch” packages, including airport transfers, full-board for 15 nights and outdoor walks in the hotel garden.

A little more budget friendly, according to the Financial Times, another hotel offers a perk you don’t see everyday. The Qiu Hotel

“offers a Bt32,000 “alternative state quarantine” package, (and) is already receiving bookings for July, its co-owner Maysa Phaoharuhan said. The offer includes full-board with three choices per meal and “unlimited” visits to nearby Sukhumvit Hospital.”

Friday Photo #33, Cappadocia


One of the main attractions in the Cappadocia region of Turkey is the sunrise balloon flight, seen here over the countryside surrounding the village of Goreme. Most of the providers congregate their balloons in a field on the edge of town. I heartily recommend Lars Erik More’s Kapadokya Balloons. They do their tours on their own for a much less mass-produced experience.

Not that the only way to enjoy Cappadocia is from a balloon. Just walking around, there are remarkable views wherever you look.



And you can stay in a hotel in a cave. Here’s a room we stayed in. Pretty darned nice. All in all, Cappadocia is far more unique than a Turkish beach vacation, and it’s just a short domestic flight from Istanbul or Ankara.


There are 382 more photos from Turkey, including many more from Cappadocia, in the Turkey Gallery at See all the Friday Photos.

And have a good weekend!

Luxury without the Hotel

The London company OneFineStay looks to have a portfolio of several outstanding, higher-end vacation rentals that look like the kind of thing that would appeal to CS&W readers. They've been good enough to describe a few of their properties here. This photo is from the Violin Factory, described below, and there are several more photos below the fold. Contact

Violin Factory1

The London ‘unhotel’

Traveling is all
about immersing yourself in the culture and lifestyle of your destination, and
what better way to do that than bypassing a hotel and living like a local
instead. London based company onefinestay allows you to do
exactly this, as they have over 500 upscale homes which they rent out to
travellers while the owners are out of town. When you arrive at your new
home you are handed an iPhone for your stay, loaded with local information and
recommendations collected from the home owner. The collection of onefinestay
homes includes some pretty unique
vacation rentals in London and New York
, so if you are looking for accommodation with a
difference you will certainly find it. For those with a taste for the unusual,
here is a little London preview:

The Violin Factory

Behind an unassuming set of old wooden doors lies this
breath-taking home right in the heart of London. Once a violin factory, it has
now been transformed into a modern architectural masterpiece where sunlight
from the ceiling windows floods into illuminate the triple height main room.
The home is no stranger to the limelight as its journey to completion in the
loving hands of its architect owner was featured on UK TV show Grand Designs,
and sci-fi fans may recognise it from Dr Who.

St Pancras Clock Tower

If you’re looking
for unusual then look no further than the Clock Tower at London St Pancras

Continue reading

Better Ending to Deadly Kidnapping

Good news for Judith Tebbutt this morning. As the BBC reports,

"Mrs Tebbutt was seized on 11 September last year from Kiwayu Safari Village, a luxury resort on a deserted stretch of Kenyan coastline, comprised of thatched cottages on the beach.

The couple had arrived only the previous day and were the only guests."

Her husband was killed in the kidnapping and she was taken by speedboat and held hostage in Somalia. She has been released on payment of ransom, and flown to Nairobi.

The Kiwayu Safari Village web site says only this:

"Sorry the website is unavailable due to the tragic events. Our thoughts and prayers are with the affected family."

The resort is described here as

"a barefoot luxury retreat on a deserted stretch of white beach facing out over the Indian Ocean," with prices from $400. 

Back last October we had a story about a deadly kidnapping from the small island of Manda in Kenya, about 75 miles south of the Somali border. The resort in that kidnapping, Manda Bay, closed and put up a statement that read in part

"Manda Bay will remain closed until we are totally confident that sufficient security has been provided for the whole area."

They hired a "fast response boat" and reopened December 1st.

Lesson: Take your East African beach holiday beyond Somali speedboat range, down to Mozambique or out to Seychelles.



When the Hotel Is the Destination

CranehotelCheck out the photos on the left. Next to the Harbour Master's office on a dock in the town of Harlingen, Netherlands, there's a working crane you can spin around. Better, you can rent it and drive it around all night. It's been converted to a hotel room. How could any former little boy resist?

That's my top find in a fun, nearly 300 page directory of strange places to stay from the web site Unusual and Unique Hotels of the World. I recommend you spend some time with it when you're not busy. You'll enjoy it.

Alongside a few tree houses and ice hotels (we'll have our own report from above the Arctic Circle in Lapland at the end of the year) and other offbeat places to stay, there's also a cave hotel in Cappadocia. But there's a destination I can speak of from my own experience, I can heartily recommend the Cappadocia Cave Suites. Extraordinary facility, gracious hospitality. Here's a couple of shots of our room:


Fit for a Pharaoh?


It’s the Max Grundig Klinik Schlosshotel Bühlerhöhe. Excellent clinic, great oncology department. “Former Ukrainian President Vickor Yushchenko and former Russian Economics Minister German Gref have been treated there.”

And it’s a possible exile in Germany for Hosni Mubarak.

A High End Hotel. Really Really High: Lhasa Luxury.


Denver may be the mile-high city, but this luxury resort is located 12,000 feet up in the Himalayas, in Lhasa, Tibet.

The St. Regis Lhasa Resort opened this week. Boy, have times changed. Time was, you needed a Tibet Travel Permit (Apparently you still do) and there really wasn't a choice of hotels. 

In 1999 it took us four days to travel overland from Kathmandu to Lhasa. Now it's 47 hours 28 minutes by express train from Beijing. And when you arrive, the St. Regis Lhasa Resort offers you "three diverse restaurants, wine bar, and tea room" and "Iridium, the Spa…." "With awe-inspiring views of the Lhasa, our beautifully adorned 162 guest rooms and villas feature plasma TV, High Speed Internet Access, and spacious marble bathrooms."

Checking a random date next summer, we've found the Shigatse Suite, with Potala Palace View and 24 Hr Butler Service, listed at a mere $944.26 per night (6,267.50 CNY).

Here, on the other hand, is the state of the art at our hotel back in 1999:


Yup. Times have changed.

(Photos from Top: The Potala Palace, bottom: A less-than-luxury Lhasa hotel. See more photos from Tibet in the China Gallery at And here's the story of our 1999 drive in from Kathmandu.)

Cooking Tips from People Who Serve You Airline Food

This is pretty funny:

"In this episode Bobby and Sara test the myth: Can you make a grilled cheese sandwich in your hotel room with the hotel room iron?"


Macedonian Luxury

2 501 Places continues its series (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8) about the Balkans. And last week the NYT ran a feature about Macedonia's wine country, which mentioned the Stonebridge Hotel "Among the several luxury hotels downtown" in Skopje, the Macedonian capital.

We've yet to get to Macedonia, so just planning ahead, I found the Stonebridge Hotel on TripAdvisor, where it's ranked ninth at the moment among Skopje hotels.

The NYT article called the hotel "intriguing" and the Tripadvisor comments run the gamut from "When you enter the hotel you say WOW! but when you enter the room you say HMMM." to "It is elegant and well appointed" to "Also slipers (sic) are good idea."

Consider the photo at left, which is from the hotel's main web page. It's not so much the comely lass and her businesswear. Just wondering about the busy businessman on his laptop. Maybe Macedonian men have unique postures. Or perhaps not all the rooms come with facilities.

See our photos from the region in the Former Yugoslavia Gallery and the Albania 1993 Gallery at


Pool with a View



These two hotel infinity pools hit my desk from two different places on the same day. That was unusual, so I thought I’d pass them on. Top: the Marina Bay Sands Hotel, Singapore. Bottom: the Hotel Caruso Belvedere, Ravello, Italy.