My Favourite Hotels Around the World

This Post Was Originally Published on the TuGo Travel Blog on November 25, 2019 by Mark Crone

The list of my favourite hotels around the world could go on and on—it’s almost unlimited. But I’ve put together a shortlist based on the hotel and the destination experience. There’s a mix of larger hotels and smaller properties. While it’s great to enjoy the hotel and its facilities, it’s also great to enjoy the area and destination. I’ve stayed at all 5 properties several times—they’re all comfortable and highly recommended. Here’s my shortlist of favourite hotels, in no particular order:

Flemings Mayfair, London

The Flemings Mayfair Hotel on Half Moon Street in London

In London, hotel choices are limitless and highly dependent on location. The Flemings is situated right in the heart of central London, in the prestigious Mayfair area. The first time I stayed there, I went for a walk through Green Park (down the street and minutes away) and literally came upon Buckingham Palace on the other side. The small hotel (129 rooms) is located on a quiet residential street which gives a homely feel to the hotel. Flemings Mayfair is an independent, family-owned property and the second oldest established hotel in London, dating back to 1731.
Room prices are available from £250 per night, which includes breakfast. It’s great value for central London and a well-equipped, recently renovated property!

Kristall Hotel, Austria

Winter view looking at the Hotel Kristall in Austria

The family-run Hotel Kristall in Perisau at Lake Achensee is a must-visit. In the winter, the area is a winter wonderland with skiing, skating, snowshoeing and more. In the summer you can go biking, hiking, golfing and trek mountains nearby. The small (50 room) hotel has a luxury feel and a comfortable ambience. There’s a renowned spa, gourmet dinners in the new vaulted cellar and weekly wine tastings in the wine repository. The hotel is a short walk from Lake Achensee, mountain attractions and nearby cable cars and mountain ranges. Staying at the Kristall is an escape holiday, where you simply lose track of days and time (the best kind of holidays)! The combination of the gorgeous landscape and the surrounding alpine world creates a lasting memory of Tyrol!
Suite prices start at 150 Euro per person with special inclusive packages available.

Royal York, Toronto

Inside a guest room at the Royal York Hotel in Toronto, Canada

The Fairmont Royal York, formerly and commonly known as the Royal York, is considered one of Canada’s grand railway hotels. It’s a large historic luxury hotel located along Front Street West, directly across from Union Station in the southern end of the Financial District, in central Downtown Toronto.
The hotel opened in June 1929 and has 1,363 guest rooms and suites, including Signature or Luxury, along with eight types of suites. In addition to first-rate facilities, the Royal York is connected to the PATH system, a series of pedestrian tunnels that connect numerous buildings in Downtown Toronto. There’s also a tunnel directly connecting the hotel to Union Station and to Scotiabank Arena (home of the NHL Toronto Maple Leafs, NBA Toronto Raptors and major concerts).
You can’t beat the Royal York’s location in Toronto. Room rates start at $195.

Caesars Palace, Las Vegas

Caesar Palace Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas

Caesars Palace opened in 1966 and is one of Las Vegas’s largest and best-known landmarks. The hotel is located right on the Las Vegas Strip between the Bellagio and The Mirage. Caesars is meant to give a Roman Empire feel with statues, columns and a 20-foot statue of Augustus Caesar near the entrance.
It’s a large deluxe resort property with 3,976 rooms and suites in six towers, a convention facility, a large range of restaurants and outdoor pools, among many other features. The hotel operates a large casino and “The Colosseum”, a venue for live music and sports entertainment, featuring major entertainers for one-night shows and residence stays. There’s also a sizable shopping mall attached to the resort called “The Forum Shops at Caesars”.
Despite its size, the hotel is very comfortable and has absolutely everything on site, making it a great choice for a Las Vegas stay. Rooms can be as low as $99 per night!

Burj Al Arab, Dubai

Aerial view of the Burj Al Arab in Dubai

Dubai is one of the seven emirates forming the United Arab Emirates, and it’s a very unique destination . It’s one of the most sought-after destinations for travellers from around the world, with its endless choices for fine dining, shopping, and luxury accommodations. The 7-star Burj Al Arab is perhaps the top choice in Dubai (and possibly anywhere).
The Burj al Arab is the iconic “sail” hotel located directly on the Persian Gulf in Dubai. It features all-suite accommodation, which includes butler service and a private beach. You don’t need to leave the property (and might not want to with room rates). The Burj has 201 suites, 9 restaurants, 5 pools, a spa, fitness centre and much more. If you’d like to make a grand entrance, you can arrive by helicopter on their roof or by chauffeur-driven Rolls Royce. It’s the lap of luxury and pure fantasy rolled into one: a once in a lifetime hotel experience.
It’s still one of my favourite hotels of all time! Rates start at $4,300 USD including breakfast for two.

These are my 5 favourite hotels, but my hotel list continues to grow! What’s your favourite?
Safe travels,
Mark

European Countries You Should Visit This Spring

A view of Belgrade – one of the European countries you should visit this spring.

We’ve been going on and on about the Eiffel Tower, Buckingham Palace, and Colosseum throughout the years. Oui, oui, Western Europe has magnificent attractions we’re all dying to see. However, blinded by over-tourism, we often overlook the wonders that Eastern Europe might have to offer. If you have itchy feet and wondering where to go next, here are some European countries you should visit this spring.

1. Great value for your money

Prices have gone up in the western part of Europe and are getting pricier with every minute. It might be a good idea to take a break from awfully overpriced coffee shops in Rome and save some money while exploring the not-so-basic wonders of the old land. It could be refreshing to look into Balkan countries – such as Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia, and Slovenia. All of them are excellent and money-saving options.

Prices for travel services, including everything from lodging to transportation to excursions, are much more affordable in Eastern than in Western Europe. For example, a private walking tour may cost $100 or less, but a lovely supper for two with wine would cost $40.

2. You will never be hungry

We can promise you that you will never be hungry in Hungary! Or any other country in Eastern Europe. This region is abundant in gourmet options that would make any foodie salivate and some of the greatest beers, wines, and liquors found anywhere in the globe. In most cases, these tiny nations don’t produce enough to export, so they retain the finest for themselves instead of selling it.

Some of the ‘must try’ dishes are:

  1. Serbian sarma
  2. Bosnian kebabs
  3. Istrian Yota in Croatia
  4. Hungarian goulash
  5. Slovenian buckwheat spoonbread

Of course, nothing in the Balkans goes without some liquor, so you can choose between head-spinning sljivovica and medovaca to add to the dishes’ flavor.

A must try – Sarma

There’s one dish in Eastern Europe that is an absolute favorite for locals and every tourist that is lucky enough to try it. Yes, we are talking about sarma. Pickled cabbage, ground beef, and rice are the main ingredients in traditional sarma. However, the dish may be made with vine leaves or minced fish meat. One thing is for sure – your tastebuds won’t be indifferent after meeting this beauty. Ajvar is another honorable mention coming from Serbia that might go well with sarma. It’s basically some kind of salad made of paprika – but every description is an understatement – you simply have to try it.

A bowl of sarma.
Get ready for an explosion of different tastes! With so many European countries you should visit this spring, you’ll be able to try out many authentic dishes.

3. You can have a variety of cultural experiences

Within a very limited geographic region, you might encounter many distinctive and disparate cultures. Although the distance between Finland and Albania is not great, their cultures are worlds apart. It’s possible to go to numerous countries in one week since everything is within simple driving distance and no more than a couple of hours away by air.

The cultural diversity might require some more time to explore, and you might consider moving here for a while. And if you are considering making such a long and complex move, it’s best to live it up to professional international US movers. You might need help getting here from the US and transporting all your luggage. Go east if you think you would have fun going through culture shock after culture shock.

4. A strong sense of heritage

Although they are catching up with contemporary times, towns like Prague and Krakow are still steeped in history. Their residents continue to observe and enjoy local traditions and festivals year-round. Cobblestone streets and tiny passageways are charming and simple to traverse, and there’s a different sight waiting around every corner. There are still certain regions where horse and carriage remain the primary mode of transportation. In fact, it’s getting to know the heritage of visited countries that will make you a traveler instead of a tourist

A horse drawn carriage.
Include a horse carriage ride in your itinerary to experience the charms of a city.

Spring is a perfect time to visit the Serbian district of Kraljevo because of the unique celebrations of medieval times. So-called ‘Lilac days’ celebrate the love of king Milutin for his future wife – Helene D’Anjou. He ordered the whole area to be planted in lilacs as a wedding gift for her. Allegedly, her hair contained some purple glow that resembled lilacs. How romantic!

5. All the European countries you should visit this spring have breathtaking landscapes

The area offers a diverse range of settings that appeal to many travelers. From magnificent natural beauty, including a variety of national parks, mountains, lakes, and coastline, to rural villages and cosmopolitan towns, among other things. There’s something for everyone. You can make an exciting road trip and see as much as possible. If you’re an adventure-seeking traveler, you should not miss the following places:

  • Lake Bled in Slovenia
  • Plitvice lake in Croatia
  • Budapest Caves
  • Kotor Bay

Kotor – a tiny gem in the mountains

Being a part of a small country called Montenegro, a Balkan gem on its own, Kotor is an inspiration to many artists of this region. If you climb a mountain near Kotor in spring, you will witness the most beautiful landscape where mountains meet the sea.

Kotor Bay at daylight.
It remains a mystery whether Kotor is more beautiful at night or at day.

6. You will be welcomed with open arms

Compared to Western Europeans, who are sick and tired of tourist disturbing their peace, residents of Eastern countries are excited to have guests. These nations, formerly inaccessible to outsiders, are now welcoming tourists with open arms. They are just as keen on getting to know us as we are on learning more about them. If you’re traveling single, don’t worry. The nations in this region are among the friendliest and safest in the world. It is uncommon to encounter off-limits locations, even late at night, and this region has not been the focus of any terrorist activity in recent history. If you choose these European countries you should visit this spring, one thing is for sure – you will be welcomed in the best possible way. 

Best Family Vacations in Canada – Spring Edition

There’s a vacation spot in Canada for everyone: restless youngsters, demanding adolescents, and moms and dads. From eastern beaches to northern lakes, ziplining to horseback riding, puffins to dinosaurs, no person would be able to remain indifferent – especially families. Reconnect with your kids and Canada’s natural wonders this spring. The following is a list of some of the best family vacations in Canada.

Toronto

Toronto is among the best destinations for family vacations in Canada because it is home to so many fantastic sights to see and things to do. And visiting in spring will allow you to move around with fewer visitors than in the summer months.

The Science Museum and Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada are great options for families, so you can make these your first stop. Next, kids of all ages can enjoy visiting Little India. Here, they can sit in a tuk-tuk and try many different national dishes. It’s an excellent chance for them to explore other cultures and cuisines! Finally, a trip to the Toronto Islands, where an old-school amusement park for children under ten is housed, is an excellent choice for exhausted moms and dads who want to relax rather than race from one attraction to the next. Parents who enjoy craft beer will be delighted to learn that Toronto is home to a large number of breweries that welcome children.

Overall, Toronto is the place to go if you want ample city conveniences with a neighborhood feel. That’s why the best part of the city is exploring all its diverse communities. So, make sure to uncover the true beauty of Toronto by following local’s guides on where to go and what to see.

A skyline of Toronto during a sunset
Toronto offers a wide variety of activities for families

Quebec City

Quebec offers the feel of a genuine European vacation without ever having to leave North America. It’s one of the most family-friendly places in Canada, with the best schools and daycare and so many fun activities for both the kids and the parents. This is why so many new families settle here every year. In the upper and lower ancient towns, you can go for a walk, stop at a patisserie or sweets shop, and dine. For families with young children, the Funicular and a tour to the Chateau Frontenac are must-dos. 

And, if you ever need a break from the historic city center, you can quickly change the vibe. One of the most stunning places to see in Quebec is Montmorency Falls and the beautiful Ile d’Orleans. A cable car takes you to the top, where you can walk across a bridge that spans the falls and return via cable car or stairs on the other side. If you’ve got young children, consider stopping at the summit’s playground. If you don’t stop, the island features a one-hour-long circle road. But don’t forget to stop by the chocolate shop, visit the roadside stalls offering jam, maple syrup, and other homemade delights, and snap a few shots before returning to the city.

Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls are a must-see, but it might seem intimidating at first for families with kids. But don’t worry! It’s all about making it as easy as possible for visitors to take in this natural treasure. And it might just become one of the most memorable travels with your children.

On the Hornblower Cruise, you go so near the falls that you can feel the water on your face. The variety offered by Niagara Falls makes them one of the best family vacations in Canada.

Visitors with more time on their hands can take advantage of numerous family-friendly attractions in town, including an indoor water park, miniature golf, and out-of-this-world culinary establishments.

Those who prefer a slower pace and more natural surroundings may find Niagara’s skyscrapers a little overpowering. However, there are a plethora of other options. Niagara on the Lake, for example, is a picture-perfect town with charming shops and a small village atmosphere and is just a short drive from the Falls. Families seeking a peaceful, leisurely getaway would also appreciate Ontario Wine County located nearby.

Algonquin Park

Even though Canada is home to several magnificent cities, Algonquin Park offers a sense of the country’s untamed wilderness. Moose, polar bears, and beavers are Canada’s most recognizable natural species. And if you’re eager for wildlife encounters, Algonquin Provincial Park, located three hours north of Toronto, is the Canadian wilderness you imagined: clear lakes, towering pines, and flowing rivers. 

Rent a canoe and go for a paddle on one of the lakes for a truly Canadian experience. By camping, you can enjoy Algonquin Provincial Park in the evening while baking smores around the campfire. Non-campers can rent Yurts in the Park, and there are hotels and inns all around it. Only a few eateries can be found in the park, but you must try the world-famous Beavertails: a deep-fried, sugar-coated pastry that includes no beaver.

A high-angle photo of Algonquin Park’s forests.
Algonquin Park is an ideal family vacation for more active families.

Montreal

Montreal is a lovely and easy-to-enjoy city in both its old and new neighborhoods. Green areas and outdoor cafes make any summer day out in town a delight. Montreal’s fresh produce markets deserve their high reputation for the quality of their produce.

The Botanical Gardens, the Biodome, and the Science Museum of Montreal are among the must-sees. Still, the city has a robust cultural calendar, and many museums that cater to both adults and children, and you could quickly fill a vacation to Montreal with activities every single day.

A skyline of Montreal in the evening
Montreal will capture your family’s hearts with its amazing sights and pleasant atmosphere.

Final words

We hope you liked our selection of the best family vacations in Canada. From the hustle and bustle of the cities to the incredible wilderness, Canada really has it all! Spring has just started, so pack up your entire family and get on to traveling! Have an amazing time!