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Travel advice: New Year breaks; budget London hotels; Italy by train

If you don’t want to self-cater, hotel packages are a good option, with some
hotels including a special dinner on New Year’s Eve. The Hoste Arms in
Norfolk (hostearms.co.uk),
for example, offers a two-night break from around £370 per person, sharing a
double room, with champagne reception, dinner and dancing, plus breakfast
and dinner on the second night.

For a selection of comfortable hotels in a scenic part of the country, visit
Great Inns of Britain’s website (greatinns.co.uk).
Some members of the Wolsey Lodge group (wolseylodges.com),
an association of luxury b bs around the UK, also open their doors to
guests at New Year, often offering lower prices and a more personal
experience.

Another idea is a spa break and many UK spas offer New Year’s Eve packages.
Celebrations at the Champneys resorts (0843 316 2222; healthfarms.co.uk),
for example, start at around £338 per person, full board, including a
four-course dinner and live music with treatments and use of facilities.
Extra nights cost from £99 per person. For more spa break ideas visit belaqua.co.uk.

For full-on festivities, how about Hogmanay in Edinburgh. A three-night luxury
hotel break in the city centre at the Bonham hotel costs around £460 per
person through The Town House Company (0131 274 7400; townhousecompany.com).
This includes breakfast, a gala dinner, a three-course dinner on New Year’s
Eve and “Street Party” tickets.

If you’d prefer to travel farther afield, Inntravel (01653 617000; inntravel.co.uk)
offers an interesting selection of reasonably priced short breaks in Spain,
Austria and Italy over the New Year. A three-night stay in Bologna, for
example, costs from £298 per person, staying in a three-star hotel with
breakfast and New Year’s Eve dinner, but you’ll have to add the cost of
flights. Even so, it could just squeeze in on budget.

Good-value London

Katy Webb writes
We’re treating ourselves to a night in London. Can you suggest somewhere to
stay that is good value and central but is not a chain hotel, please?

Sophie Butler replies
How about The Fielding (020 7836 8305; thefieldinghotel.co.uk),
in Bow Street, Covent Garden? It offers double rooms from £140 midweek. It
doesn’t serve breakfast, but rooms have tea-making facilities and there are
plenty of cafés nearby.

Italy by train

Ann Le-Brun writes
Can you suggest who to use for touring Italy by train, please? I don’t want an
organised tour, but to plan my own.

Sophie Butler replies
Thomas Cook publishes a monthly European Rail Timetable (£13.99 plus p
p from thomascookpublishing.com).
Italy’s trenitalia.com
and Rail Europe (08708 304862; raileurope.co.uk)
can help plan itineraries.

Airline gift vouchers

Arlene Winterton writes
I would like to give a friend a gift voucher that she can use to buy flights
for a summer holiday next year. Do you know if any airlines offer such a
thing?

Sophie Butler replies
Monarch (08719 405040; monarch.co.uk)
offers vouchers of any denomination that can be used as full or part payment
for flights. They are valid for 12 months from date of purchase but are
non-refundable and non-transferable.

Pet-friendly hotels

Emma Eaton writes
We are planning to drive through Europe with our two dogs. Can you recommend a
source of information on pet-friendly hotels?

Sophie Butler replies
Eurotunnel’s website (eurotunnel.com)
has an advanced search facility showing Continental hotels which will accept
pets (sometimes for a small supplement). Click on “Inspiring Ideas”.

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