Ask T+L: Road Trip Tips, Affordable Barcelona, and Cultural Tours of India
Q: What’s your best advice for making the most of a road trip? —Wendy Roberts, Arcadia, Calif.
“Rather than just rely on GPS, always bring along a map. It will give you the bigger picture, show you the region’s topography, and help you choose the most interesting itinerary. On a recent trip through California for my Ovation TV travel show, Scenic Route, I discovered great field-to-table restaurants by asking growers at farmers’ markets and roadside stands which local dining rooms they supplied. When booking a hotel, ask if they offer special rates for AAA cardholders (the membership fee of $58 often pays for itself). If you arrive at a chain hotel without reservations after, say, eight o’clock in the evening, request a reduced rate. The later you arrive, the better you should fare.” —T+L Los Angeles correspondent David A. Keeps
Q: I’m looking to stay in a stylish—yet affordable—hotel in Barcelona next month. Any ideas? —Christian Massey, Hudson, Ohio
A: In Las Ramblas, the 147 rooms at Grand Hotel Central (doubles from $225) have dark wood floors and spacious bathrooms; head to the rooftop infinity pool for spectacular views of Barri Gòtic and the city’s ancient walls. The Hotel Actual (doubles from $185), a stone-and-glass town house in the Modernist Gràcia district, has 34 natural-toned rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows and two Belle Époque–era suites with frescoes. Meanwhile, the Hotel Villa Emilia (doubles from $157) is a 10-minute walk from the historic city center and has 53 rooms and a lounge with a grand piano.
Q: Can you recommend a few options for in-depth cultural tours of India? —James Seargent, Spencer, W. Va.
A: The 15-day Heritage India tour from Cox & Kings (from $7,885 per person, double) includes village excursions with members of the royal family of Nimach—plus visits to major sites such as the Taj Mahal. Greaves India (from $4,440 per person) offers the nine-day Southern Delights, where guests view sixth-century sculptures on Elephanta Island, near Mumbai Harbour, and attend a performance of the ancient Kathakali dance. Finally, Gap Adventures (888/800-4100; gapadventures.com; from $1,549 per person, double) has a 14-day India Culture & Cuisine itinerary that brings guests from the Dilli Haat food stalls, in Delhi, to Mumbai’s Sassoon Docks (one of the city’s largest fish markets).
Q: My wife and I are planning to spend a weekend in Nantucket. Where should we stay and what should we do? —Lee Fry, Wells, Nev.
A: The Veranda House (doubles from $309), a circa-1684 manse, has three wraparound porches with views of the harbor; the concierge will arrange day trips to the beach of your choice (we suggest the nearby and secluded Madequecham). The next day, stop by the ’Sconset Café (lunch for two $25) for a bowl of house-made quahog chowder before exploring the village’s rose-covered fisherman’s cottages. Come evening, try the halibut with creamed artichokes at the Summer House Restaurant (dinner for two $110), in Siasconset, the island’s easternmost point.
Grand Hotel Central
Few would argue with the fact that the Grand Central Hotel has the best roof terrace in Barcelona. With views of the entire city and an infinity pool that lights up at night, it's one of the most popular places to enjoy a cocktail on a summer night. The hotel itself is excellent too, with its romantic ambience that features soft lighting, lots of black and grays, and very modern rooms with views onto one of the city's main arteries.
A circa-1684 manse with three wraparound porches with views of the harbor; the concierge will arrange day trips to the beach of your choice (we suggest the nearby and secluded Madequecham).
Cox & Kings
Founded in 1758, Cox & Kings is the oldest travel company in the world, and it prides itself on using its 250 years of experience to provide clients with unforgettable travel experiences. Cox & Kings specializes in tours to some of the world’s most exciting destinations, including the Seychelles, Tibet, Madrid, and Argentina. The company offers a variety of travel experiences, and clients can choose from custom-designed journeys, private journeys, group journeys, and relax and explore journeys, which take full advantage of Cox & Kings’ knowledge of the best and most luxurious hotels, villas, and retreats around the globe. t+l trip pick Portrait of Kenya. Spot Somali ostriches and reticulated giraffes in Samburu National Reserve, balloon over the Masai Mara savanna, and adopt an elephant at the Daphne Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage.
A stone-and-glass town house in the Modernist Gràcia district with 34 natural-toned rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows and two Belle Époque–era suites with frescoes.
Hotel Villa Emilia
A 10-minute walk from the historic city center, this hotel has 53 rooms and a lounge with a grand piano.
Since 1979, the Cambata family have used their deep Indian roots to guide travelers on journeys to the Indian subcontinent. Based in Chicago, Greaves India prepares trekkers to explore bird sanctuaries, spice plantations, and marketplaces, customizing trips based on budgets and wish lists. Greaves also offers expeditions to Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives. These luxury trips can include pre-arranged transportation and English-speaking guides, and tour packages range from the group "Family India" tour to the $5,400-per-person "Ultimate Tiger Safari." No consulting fees are required.
Stop here for a bowl of house-made quahog chowder before exploring the village's rose-covered fisherman's cottages.
Summer House Restaurant
Try the halibut with creamed artichokes at this restaurant, in Siasconset, the island's easternmost point.