luxury Tag

baden-baden casino, germany, most beautiful casino, best casinos in the world
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A royal plush

Baden-Baden Casino, Germany Marlene Dietrich called it “the most beautiful casino in the world”. The glamour, I imagine, loses its lustre if you’re not winning. The great Russian writer Fyodor Dostoevsky immortalised it in his novel ‘The Gambler’, which he wrote to pay off debts he accumulated at its tables. And so the famous Baden-Baden Casino became infamous and a getaway for the rich and powerful. “In the nineteenth century Baden-Baden became internationally famous when people came here to the gambling house,” local guide Valeria Casagrandi tells me. “At that time it was open only between May and October and that’s why Baden-Baden was the summer capital, or the summer residence, of Europe.” We walk through the large glass doors and into a striking room with soft yellow lights, mirrors, and wood finishings. “This is the oldest casino in Germany and one of the oldest in Europe and this is the reception,” Valeria says. “In the afternoon...

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19 November
Melville Castle hotel, Scotland, Edinburgh, David Hay
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What’s it like to own a castle?

Melville Castle, Scotland Before we get started, it’s important you get the idea of an old stuffy lord owning a castle out of your head. This is no Downton Abbey – this is the real thing. And in the case of Scotland’s Melville Castle, it’s David Hay – young, single and handsome – who has the keys to the castle. “Would you like to come back and stay at my castle?” We joke about the potential for pick-up lines in nearby Edinburgh, but David claims he’s never made the most of the opportunity. “Other people may have made more use of the fact they could go into town and say ‘by the way, tell that girl I’ve got a castle’ but it’s never changed my life at all.” The grand old Melville Castle estate with its huge main building, bounding plains and distant gate has not always been in the Hay family. David’s father...

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23 October
gellert baths, baths in budapest, hungary
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Bathing in Budapest

Gellert Baths, Budapest In the past century, the Gellert public baths in Budapest have only ever been closed once – when a major pipe burst. But, other than that, they have opened every single day through winters, wars, bombings and recessions. And now, in this spectacular old building with so much history and resilience, I am standing naked and awkward. “Take your shorts off”, the middle-aged stocky Hungarian masseuse had just instructed me. I had thought a massage would be a good idea and had seen the main carpeted room where other people were getting one on soft beds. But it was apparently full and so I had been to taken to a strange annex. The room was tiled all over and echoed when my bare feet hit the marbled floor. The air was moist and seemed to drip from the ceiling. The whole room was quite large – certainly unnecessarily large for...

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25 September
ashford castle, ireland, luxury hotel in ireland
  |   Accommodation   |   5 Comments

How the other half live

Ashford Castle, Ireland When you spend pretty much all your time in budget hotels, hostels, and the couches of generous friends, a nice bit of accommodation feels like luxury. There are some places in the world where you feel you’ve arrived somewhere special before you even walk in the door. To put it bluntly, there are some damn nice hotels in the world. And then there’s Ireland’s Ashford Castle. I’ve got to say right now that I didn’t even stay the night here. This was a lunch stop on my quick tour of Ireland – but I did get a chance to peek around and it was a fascinating insight into the way the other half live. The photo gallery in one corridor shows the celebrities who have stayed here. It’s a collection of some of the most famous actors, musicians and statespeople of our times: Bob Hope, Brad Pitt, Jack Nicholson, John...

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04 July
the ss rotterdam, the netherlnds, holland, things in rotterdam
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Frank’s return to the water

On board the SS Rotterdam, The Netherlands Dutchman Frank van Eijnatten has returned to the water. More than forty years after he first served on the SS Rotterdam, he’s back on board, looking after a whole new group of international travellers. Frank looks like the kind of man you expect to find a cruise ship. At 68 years of age, his hair has all but disappeared and his stomach has done the opposite. He has the complexion of a Northern European and is dressed in thin spectacles and the casual uniform of a seaman. He’s a friendly fellow who introduces himself with a warning that he will talk a lot. It turns out to be no lie. He laughs as he tells stories, chuckling as he explains that each week more of the original crew are dying from old age. I’m not quite sure why that’s humorous but Frank makes everyone believe they’re...

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29 May
Museo Casa Enzo Ferrari, Modena, ferrari museum, italy, cars (2)
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“Cars are only beautiful when they win”

Museo Casa Enzo Ferrari, Modena In the vast stadium of fluorescent light, the cars look like glowing orbs of style. Raised on low platforms, each machine is given a respectful space from the others. Despite the name, this is not a museum. This is more a shrine… and everything is set up to allow visitors to worship. For car enthusiasts (I’m not going to pretend to be one), Ferrari is one of the gods. Like religion generally, there are many faiths – but devotees of each believe fervently in theirs. It is no different with cars and Ferrari has one of the largest and most faithful congregations in the world. The Enzo Ferrari Museum in the Italian city of Modena is built on the site of the man’s birthplace. But it is only partly about Enzo Ferrari and his life. You see, his life became the car brand (not just in name) and...

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07 January
jackie onassis naked, skorpios, greek islands, aristotle onassis (4)
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Jackie’s island

Jackie Onassis naked She thought she was safe, far away from the creatures that chased her, armed with their notebooks and cameras. She thought she had found a sanctuary where she could be free from constant fear of an invasion. So it was here, on the island of Skorpios in the Ionian Sea, that Jackie Onassis slipped out of her clothes and prepared to lay down naked in the Greek sun. Click. A local paparazzo had found her...

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20 August