April 3, 2013 by Guest Author
Filed under Accommodation, Beaches and swimming, Devon and Cornwall, Eating and drinking, featured, Guest post, Hotels, Leisure, Nature, Shopping, Sightseeing, United Kingdom, Walking, World
Lynton and Lynmouth are two neighbouring villages on the coast of North Devon known for their extraordinary beauty and unique railway. Tiny Lynmouth can be found directly across from the crashing waves of the ocean, whilst Lynton sits 500 feet above it on a cliff overlooking spectacular scenery. Connecting the two towns is the Lynton & Lynmouth Cliff Railway, which consists of a funicular cliff lift.
The Cliff Railway
The history of the railway dates back to the late 19th century and it still operates in very much the same way is has for over a hundred years. Along the 862 foot track, railway passengers will be gifted with one of the most beautiful views in all of England. Both Lynton and Lynmouth have plenty to offer tourists in terms of English village charm, cultural attractions and natural surroundings. Visitors making the train ride up to Lynton can enjoy the scenic walking trails, most notably to the famous Valley of Rocks. The easy 20 minute trek reveals North Devon in all its glory and has become popular with tourists thanks to the herd of feral goats who make their home here. True to its name, the valley is also home to stunning rock formations.
Craft Shops and Cream teas
A charming ambiance and friendly locals make Lynton the perfect place to get away from it all. Visitors can choose from a good selection of local tea shops and eateries where they can enjoy true Devonshire cream tea among other things. Lynton is also full of great shops to explore. Crafting enthusiasts will not want to miss the Lyn Valley Art and Crafts, which is filled with beautifully handcrafted jewellery, ceramics and accessories. It is located on the site of an old church and focuses almost solely on goods made locally.
Down on the beach at Lynmouth
Down in Lynmouth, the beach is hard to resist. The shallow waters surrounding the town are ideal for rock pooling. When the tide is low the sea uncovers a wide range of shore crabs, anemones, periwinkles, limpets and mussels in a variety of sizes, colours and textures. Advanced surfers will also find that the waves around this part of North Devon are some of the best in the UK. Those who are looking to get on the water can partake in one of the many boat excursions departing from Lynmouth Quay daily. Boat trips typically last an hour or so, and show off the Exmoor coastline well.
Tourists have been attracted to Lynmouth and Lynton for well over a century and it’s easy to see why. The two charming villages could not be better situated to highlight the true natural beauty of the English coastline. The tallest cliffs in the country are located here and fall dramatically into a deep blue sea teeming with colourful sea life. The towns are as charming as the scenery and along with the fresh sea breeze; tourists will be greeted with the smiling faces of locals as they are more than happy to share their slice of paradise with the world.
Author Bio: Many thanks for this Guest Post to Karen Orson who has worked in travel and tourism for over a decade. While travelling the world through South America and Asia, she has always called Devon her home. Returning to her roots, Karen now works with Highcliffe House , a boutique guest house in the village of Lynton.
More things to enjoy in Devon and Cornwall
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Ski and snowboard enthusiasts flock to Utah for its legendary dry, light powder and impressive annual snowfall. There’s a reason why the state’s slogan is “Greatest Snow on Earth.”
Most ski enthusiasts fly into Salt Lake City and do one of the following:
- Drive to Park City and spend the week skiing at Park City, The Canyons, and Deer Valley – 3 world-class destination resorts, an authentic western town with great shops and restaurants and activities to keep the whole family satisfied.
- Drive up to Little Cottonwood Canyon and stay at ski-in, ski-out accommodations at either Snowbird or Alta – two mountains where diehard skiers can spend a whole week skiing challenging terrain and not get bored.
- Stay in Salt Lake City and use it as a base to travel to the ski resorts in the Park City area or Snowbird and Alta.
But, Utah has 14 ski resorts under the brand name of Ski Utah, and many skiers will never make it to those resorts. If you’re an avid skier like me, you’re probably always looking for a new ski area to try. The ski areas of Northern Utah have a few things in common: they’re affordable, they’re not crowded, and they get lots of snow! So leave the crowds of Park City behind and exchange those high-priced Deer Valley lift tickets for the laid-back atmosphere of the Ogden Valley.
Easy access from two airports
All of the major airlines fly into Salt Lake City (American, Delta, Frontier, Jet Blue, Southwest, US Airways, and United). Allegiant Airlines has added service from Phoenix into Ogden Airport and now Arizona skiers have affordable, non-stop flights into Ogden, giving them closer access to Ogden Valley ski areas.
It’s about an hour drive from the Salt Lake City Airport and about a 20-minute drive from Ogden Airport to downtown Eden. Drive along the Ogden River Scenic Byway, which starts at the mouth of Ogden Canyon and circles the Pineview Reservoir into Eden. The byway is one of only 26 designated scenic byways in Utah and is rated as one of the 10 best scenic drives in America.
Staying in a town like Eden provides a central location to 3 ski areas in the Ogden Valley: Powder Mountain, Wolf Mountain Resort, and Snowbasin. You’re in downtown Eden when you reach the 4-way stop sign (but don’t blink or you’ll miss it). You’ll find the Village Market at the intersection – stop in to stock up on food and supplies before checking into your accommodations. There are plenty of lodging options in Eden and the surrounding areas; bed and breakfasts, inns and lodges, condos, and timeshare condos. If you’re with a ski group or vacationing with family, a condo is your best option.
The ski areas of Ogden Valley offer 3 distinct experiences: no-frills pure mountain skiing, ultimate luxury, and affordable, family-friendly fun.
Ski at Powder Mountain
Powder Mountain, located in Eden, is about a 15-minute drive from the town center. An adult lift ticket is only $65 – such a deal! The mountain, affectionately known as “Pow Mow,” is a no-frills mountain with a laid-back, down-home atmosphere. If you’re looking for a pure ski experience and lots of powder with no crowds and no lines, Pow Mow is the place. The resort has over 7,000 acres of skiable terrain, receives over 500 inches of snow each year, and is known for its snowcat skiing and tours. There are 7 lifts (only 1 is a high-speed quad) that serve more than 2,800 acres of skiing on 144 runs. The rest of the acreage accounts for snowcat skiing and backcountry skiing. The lifts may be slow, but that keeps people away and the powder stashes last for days!
If you do run out of powder, you can always find some at Powder Mountain’s Snowcat Powder Safari Tour. The tour accesses over 3,000 acres of backcountry bowls and will run you about $425 per person. If you want to watch your pocketbook but love the powder, you can satisfy your craving with single snowcat rides on Lightning Ridge or Rain Tree – all for $18 with a lift ticket. If you’re up for your own adventure, there’s 1,200 acres of backcountry skiing waiting for you off the back side of Powder Mountain. The Powder Country Shuttle (included in your lift ticket price) will transport you back to the lifts. There are ski shuttles from Eden if you don’t want to drive your car up to Powder Mountain ($5 round trip). For other Mountain Adventures, visit their website at www.powdermountain.com.
Ski at Snowbasin
As a contrast to the no-frills ruggedness of Powder Mountain, you’ll find ultimate mountain luxury at Snowbasin (A Sun Valley Resort). The resort had a major upgrade prior to the 2002 Salt Lake Winter Olympic Games. It’s known for its wide-open bowls, glades and groomers, and has one of the most advanced lift systems in the West. For thigh-burning cruisers, take the Needles Express Gondola for over 2,300 vertical feet of non-stop top to bottom skiing. The 8-passenger high speed gondola is only an 8-minute ride — so you can get lots of skiing in. Although the resort receives 300 inches of snow annually, Snowbasin has the world’s largest automated snowmaking system – so if it’s early season and there’s no snow at Powder Mountain yet, this is your place. Adult lift tickets run $82.
Although Snowbasin is not a destination resort (there is no lodging on the property), Snowbasin has all of the amenities of a destination resort – without the crowds. Three beautiful pine lodges with massive stone fireplaces, ruby and emerald chandeliers, and gourmet fare. Oh, and the bathrooms! Italian marble, bronze and crystal chandeliers, floor to ceiling commodes, beautifully inlaid African Anegre wood and hand-painted walls. I feel like I’m in the bathroom of a catering hall or a posh hotel — not a ski area! Don’t believe me? Snowbasin was among the 10 finalists competing for the 2011 Cintas’ America’s Best Restroom Contest! Visit their website www.snowbasin.com for more info.
Wolf Mountain Resort
Also located in Eden, Wolf Mountain Resort is known as Utah’s most affordable ski resort. It’s a small, family-friendly resort with 22 runs and is considered to be one of the best “learn to ski and ride” mountains in the Rockies. Wolf Mountain’s atmosphere can be compared to Powder Mountain’s in that it’s homey and laid back – the resort’s cafeteria is housed in an old dairy barn. The interior was recently restored to its former glory with open ceilings and the original wooden barn posts.
Wolf Mountain is a great place for kids if you want to give them lessons. From the parking lot, it’s a short walk to the ski school, which is located in a cozy yurt. After you get the kids signed up, all they have to do is exit the other side of the yurt, and they’re right at the learning area and the Magic Carpet beginner’s lift. While the kids are in ski school, adults will enjoy 22 runs on 110 acres. There are some challenging runs at Wolf too, and the mountain is not crowded so the snow stays fresh!
Wolf Mountain is a good choice when the Ogden Canyon road is closed or the roads are icy and you don’t feel like making the trip to Snowbasin or Powder Mountain. Or, if you want to sleep in or do something else during the day Wolf has night skiing, and the mountain is open until 9 pm. But how about just for the skiing itself? It’s great fun for the entire family – if you want to ski a half a day or even a whole day. And, you can’t beat the prices and some of their incredible deals. On Mondays, a group of four can ski for $40 from 4 pm to 9 pm – that’s $10 each! On Tuesdays, skiers can buy one full price lift ticket and get the second one for $10. For more amazing deals, check out www.wolfmountainutah.com.
Shooting Star Saloon in Huntsville
After skiing all over the Ogden Valley you’ll work up a hearty Western appetite so head on down to the Shooting Star Saloon in nearby Huntsville. The saloon was established in 1879 and is the longest continually operating saloon in Utah. The ceiling is covered with dollar bills, and there’s a stuffed St. Bernard head on the wall – it’s the world’s largest St. Bernard weighing in at 298 pounds – the owner had his beloved dog stuffed after he died in 1957. Try the Star Burger – made with two beef patties, cheese, and slices of knockwurst – mouthwatering!
So, if you’re looking to pick up a few new pins and patches, add these Ogden Valley ski areas to your Ski Wish List!
Author Bio: Many thanks to Linda Steinmuller for this Guest Post. Linda is a travel writer, copywriter and reporter for her local newspaper in Brooklyn, New York. She loves to ski and visit new ski areas whenever she can.
Photo credits: Earl’s lodge at Snowbasin by FaceshotsPhotography.com, Cat skiing at Powder mountain by Gregg Greer, The Road up to Powder Mountain by Stan Evans, and Shooting Star Saloon by Linda Steinmuller
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For me, a wonderful hotel is an essential ingredient of a city-break like the one I’ve just returned from in Budapest. I sometimes hear people say “Just give me somewhere clean and comfortable to come back to sleep” and think “Are they mad?” Call me greedy, but I just want more from my hotels! Give me clean and comfortable of course, but give me a little luxury, stylish furnishings that inspire me to go home and redecorate, perfumed bowls of hyacinths, artistic touches that catch my eye and service that makes me feel special. All of these are what makes a short stay in a city full of happy memories.
Which brings me to the Hotel Intercontinental Budapest, that I selected from the many hotel options available through the Avios website, as we were using Avios points. You may remember the old British Airways Air Miles that have now been reinvented as Avios points – you can earn them while shopping and then use them to treat yourself to a short break like ours. With only three days to pack in as much fun as possible, we wanted somewhere central and the Intercontinental is perfectly positioned, right by the Danube and within an easy walk of many of the key landmarks such as the Chain Bridge, Castle District and St Stephen’s Basilica. For a trip with my sisters and parents who are in their 70s, this kind of classy, 5 star hotel was ideal for a stay that wraps you in a cocoon of luxury without stress of any kind.
I hope you enjoy the video below about our stay at the Intercontinental Budapest
If you can’t see the video above about the Intercontinental Budapest, see it on my site here or on Youtube here
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And then there was the view! Although the hotel is not especially exciting to look at from the outside, being a block of a building covered with grey glass, when you are on the inside looking out it’s quite another matter. This is one hotel where you must book a room with a river view. My bedroom window framed a perfect postcard shot of the Danube with the dome of the Royal Palace rising from Castle Hill on the other side. I could have happily sat there all day watching the boats, like the huge barge filled with cars, go up and down the river, each on their way to somewhere interesting. As night fell, the lights twinkled on Castle hill and the Chain bridge, reflecting on the river, creating a magical view.
Our room with a view
We quickly settled into our rooms at the Intercontinental, mine with twin queen beds on the 6th floor which I was sharing with my sister, my parents on the 9th floor with a king bed and room for a sofa by the window. The bedroom was classic and elegant, with cherry-wood headboards and furniture, a black tortoiseshell bedside lamp and soft green bed throws and easy chairs. There were all the conveniences you’d expect, like a desk with Internet connection, a flat screen TV, a fridge with mini-bar , safe and ironing board. On the wall were some modern prints of the Budapest Castle district which picked up the deep red colour scheme and echoed the view outside from the window. The room was lit entirely by the side and floor lights, with no ceiling lights and I found the lighting levels a little too low in the evening, which was my only fault with the room.
A choice of standard and high speed Internet is available in the room at a charge which wasn’t cheap, something I’ve noticed is common in luxury hotels. It seems to be upside down thinking that if you stay in an inexpensive hostel you get free and fast wifi, but if you stay in a 5 star hotel, you pay through the nose for Internet access, so I hope that this is one charge that the hotel will change, as travellers come to expect wifi as part of the service rather than an optional extra.
The bathroom was compact but elegant with a wooden vanity unit and black marble sink surround, cream marble wall tiles and a range of luxurious toiletries. It was a little on the small side, but then my parent’s room on the 9th floor had a lovely bathroom which was much bigger with a frosted glass wall and room for both a bath and walk-in shower, so I guess it depends which room you book.
I’m not a great watcher of TV when I travel, preferring to get out and explore the place I’m visiting, but I did like the short video playing on the flat screen TV in which Chief Concierge, János Valcz, gave us his recommendations for things to see in Budapest, from fine dining and souvenir shopping, to a memorable dip in the Szechenyi Thermal Baths. It’s great to see a hotel using video in this way to bring their guests an insider’s view of the city and introduce them to the concierges who are there to help you get the most out of your visit. You can watch the video on Youtube here.
The Club Lounge
On our arrival from the airport, we were sent up in the lift to the 1st floor for a personal check-in service in the Club Lounge which was an extra benefit that the hotel had kindly extended us. This luxurious private lounge is a really beautiful place to relax with figured velvet armchairs, glossy coffee table books about Hungary and more exceptional views out towards the Danube and the Chain bridge from the full length windows.
The lounge also has computer terminals, free wifi and international papers, with complimentary drinks and snacks being served throughout the day. There is also the option to eat breakfast in the lounge as a quieter alternative to the main dining room. I really enjoyed gathering in the Club Lounge with my parents and sisters to have a chat over a coffee and make our plans for exploring Budapest or to have a lunchtime snack before heading out again.
The Club lounge is open for members of the Intercontinental Priority Club and Ambassador Loyalty Programmes and can also be purchased as an extra during your stay. I noticed that some of the room rates advertised also included use of the Club Lounge and I think that this would be be best value way of accessing the lounge which was really a lovely place to relax, meet with friends or business colleagues.
The Pool and Spa at Intercontinental Budapest
Budapest is a city built on thermal springs that feed the public spas like the Gellert and the Szechenyi Baths, but I’ll let you into a little secret. The Intercontinental has a fabulous pool and spa that’s tucked away on the first floor and perfect for a refreshing early morning swim or a few languid lengths and a warm up in the sauna after a day’s sightseeing. My parents, sisters and I all enjoyed a gentle swim at different times during our stay and pretty much had the place to ourself. With such a lovely spa and pool, I think the Intercontinental would be a fabulous place to base yourself for a girl’s getaway incorporating treatments at the hotel with visits to some of the other famous thermal baths of Budapest.
The pool has a pretty coloured effect with tiles that graduate from sea green at one end to turquoise at the other, while the dark stained wood, green recliners and eastern harp music give the spa a vaguely oriental air. There are two private treatment rooms and the spa uses Hungarian Kaviczky products which incorporate natural, organic agents, such as the waters and mud of the thermal lake at Heviz where our family spent a surreal afternoon a couple of years ago, drifting among the water lilies with rubber rings to keep us afloat. The spa often runs seasonal promotions such as a couple’s massage with champagne for Valentine’s day or a Mother’s day package, so be sure to check when you go for your swim. There is also a gym, which is useful to keep fit if you’re on business, although when I’m on holiday I prefer to keep fit by walking everywhere or in the case of Budapest, racing the funicular up to the top of castle hill.
Dining and more at the Intercontinental Budapest
The whole of the ground floor of the Intercontinental benefits from that view, through full length windows towards the Danube, Castle Hill and riverside walk. The lobby area is elegant and classical, with velvet button backed sofas, biedermeier style cherrywood furniture and some pretty bowls of hyacinths with wild catkins strewn over them that seemed to herald spring. Through the lobby seating area is the bar, where we stopped on our return from dinner one evening and sipped a coffee, listening to the musicians at the white Elton John piano. Hanging above the bar I noticed an large bulbous container of Palinka, the traditional spirit of Hungary that is often flavoured with fruits like cherry or apricot, although be warned that it’s eye-wateringly strong.
We enjoyed looking at the artworks around the lobby, including some abstract paintings in gold, terracotta and black and the sculpture we came to know as Kiss Kiss in which lips gently touch on disembodied faces. I expect that these artworks change regularly but there was a lovely carved wooden frieze of turn of the century street scenes, right opposite the lift which we enjoyed too, especially that girl on the swing.
At the opposite end of the hotel to the lobby is the spacious restaurant where we really enjoyed the buffet breakfast every morning with a huge selection of pastries, cereals and fruit if you were trying to stay healthy, or numerous hot dishes if you were indulging yourself. Although we ate out every night and didn’t get a chance to try the restaurant, we thought the menu looked very appetising with a mixture of international and local dishes such as Hungarian goat’s cheese on pumpkin puree or goose liver with roasted apples in a Tokaj wine and honey sauce. The hotel often runs themed food events to coincide with the many festivals and events going on in the city, such as the Formula 1 in July or the St Stephen’s day festival in August, and the Sunday brunch is also very popular, with a children’s corner so parents can relax.
So what did we see in Budapest?
If you’re visiting Budapest on a short break, you couldn’t get a better location than the Intercontinental which is at the heart of all the key things you’ll want to see. Cross the Chain bridge by the hotel and you’ll be standing in front of the funicular that takes you up to the top of castle hill, although it’s only a 10 minute walk if you’re feeling energetic. Stroll along the top to see many of the old palace buildings which now house galleries and museums, and end up by the colourful St Mathius Church and Fisherman’s Bastion where the views across to the Hungarian Parliament Building are fantastic, and you might just be serenaded by some gypsy violinists.
Close to the hotel is St Stephen’s Basilica where we went to mass on Sunday and in the surrounding streets are many excellent small restaurants and bars to try, such as The Strudel House where we ate on our first night. If you run out of energy for walking, the yellow No 2 and 2A tram is perfect for sightseeing as it runs along the river and stops right outside the Intercontinental Hotel. A couple of tram stops in one direction and you can look around the Central Market where we we stopped for lunch one day or from the same tram stop walk across Liberty Bridge to the Gellert baths for the old fashioned Budapest spa experience.
A couple of tram stops in the opposite direction will take you to the Hungarian Parliament Building and then on to Margaret Bridge where there’s a lovely park on the island in the Danube with an outdoor lido baths that we visited on a previous summer holiday. Not far from the hotel is the start of Andrassy Ut, a long boulevard lined with designer brands, where you’ll also find the House of Terror, a fascinating museum that gave us a taste of what the Hungarian people went through in the last century under the Nazi and Communist regimes.
We were extremely happy with our choice of the Intercontinental Hotel for our Budapest city break booked through Avios. The central location enabled us to easily see everything we wanted while the fabulous views and luxurous surroundings made our family gathering really memorable.
Need to know for the Intercontinental Budapest
Intercontinental Budapest, Apaczai Csere J. u. 12-14, Budapest H-1052, Hungary
We booked the Intercontinental Budapest as part of our city break through Avios, the easy way to collect points when you shop online, which you can then convert into a flight, hotel, holiday or day out with the family. Start planning how to spend your points on the Avios website and you can follow Avios on Twitter @AviosUK or on their AviosUK Facebook page and see some flying lawnmowers on the Avios YouTube channel
The Intercontinental Budapest can be booked using your Avios Points and a room similar to ours at the time that we were there in February was around 15,000 Avios points or £150-180 per room/night including breakfast but may be higher in peak season. For best rates book well ahead or enjoy a low season break as we did. It’s also worth looking out for packages that include breakfast and use of the exclusive Club Lounge. You can follow the Intercontinental Budapest on Twitter @ICBudapest and on their Intercontinental Budapest Facebook Page.
Other costs: WiFi charges (standard and fast service) were £11-19 per 24 hrs or £23-42 for 3 days. Breakfast if not booked with your room package 8000 HUF (£22)
My thanks to Avios and Intercontinental Budapest who hosted my spring break in Budapest
Other stories from our Budapest trip
You’ll also find our sister blog with tips on how to build a successful travel blog at My Blogging Journey