There have been some big changes recently at Little Hotels. We have combined with Best Small Hotels so Little Hotels now covers not just Spain, but the best small hotels in the UK, Ireland, France and Italy as well. Our philosophy remains unchanged; to bring you quality, charm, character and service from the little hotels that we would want to stay in (and in many cases have).
With the addition of new countries, we are now listing dozens more hotels that are new to us, so I can mention only a few. First and foremost is The 25 Boutique B&B in Torquay, judged by Trip Advisor reviewers to be the best B&B in the world. That's a pretty big accolade, but one that we find perfectly reasonable. As a long-time fan of Monty Python and Fawlty Towers, I can't fail to be amused by the irony that Torquay is home to the best B&B in the world.
Venice is a classic "bucket list" destination so we feel lucky to have found a proper Venetian canalside hotel that ticks all the Little Hotels boxes. Hotel Becher is just inches from the Rio de l'Barcaroli so visitors can arrive by water taxi straight to the door. We find it just about impossible to imagine anything that could personify the spirit of Venice better than this.
With all the new places coming on board, Spain has not been ignored. Casa Caballito de Mar is the littlest of little hotels. It's a quirky boutique B&B with two suites, being one of the most photographed houses in the traditional "pueblo blanco" of Bédar in Almeria. The view from the terrace is outstanding.
One For the Foodies
For many of us, some good meals out are an integral part of a good holiday. Who wouldn’t be wooed by the prospect of "unrivalled views of the French Riviera, three levels of cascading vegetable gardens churning out the sweetest produce and a team of outrageously talented cooks and front-of-house staff”?
According to the imaginatively-titled “World’s 50 Best Restaurants”, half of the top ten restaurants in the world are in France and Spain. At number 1 there’s the Mirazur in the South of France (the subject of the quote above). Then at 3 there’s the Asador Etxebarri in the Spanish Basque Country. The Basque Country is also home to Mugaritz at number 7. That is followed by Arpege in Paris and Disfrutar in Barcelona.
The UK has just two restaurants in the Top 50, The Clove Club and Lyle’s, both in London.
In contrast to the critically endangered species mentioned in our last newsletter, wild boar are doing very well in Spain, possibly too well. With no natural predators apart from the small population of wolves in the Cantabrian mountains, boar are thriving in many areas, especially where marginal agricultural areas have been abandoned and forst is taking over. However they are also drawn to the urban edges where they come into conflict with humans as they root around in gardens and rubbish containers.
Wild boar are the ancestors of domestic pigs. They are taller than a normal pig, heavily-built with a coarse coat of hair and the sort of face that only a mother could love. And speaking of mothers, although the boar are normally quite timid, it is wise not to get too close if a sow has her youngsters with her. Like mothers everywhere, boar are fiercely protective of their offspring, and their tusks are big and sharp!
Walk around any Iberian forest or mountain area and you'll see the large patches of bare earth scuffled up by boars. The animals are beneficial to woodland ecology as they root up and overturn the earth in search of worms and grubs. Such areas can then be colonised by new plants, so attracting insects and these in turn bring birds, and so on up the food chain. Their predation by wolves is a winner twice over (unless you're a wild boar). As well as simply being a source of food, the boar negate the need for wolves to go after domestic animals and therefore come into conflict with man, a scenario which never ends well for the species concerned.
One of the best places to see wild boar is in the Sierra Espuña in Murcia where they have become quite used to seeing the public and are content to root around near the paths and picnic areas.
Insider Tips for Booking Your Flights
When should I go?
How far in advance should I book?
How much will the flights cost?
All these questions and more are answered on our Flights Insider Tips page. No matter of whether you're thinking of flying London-Paris or New York-Bangkok, we can tell you the most popular months, the cheapest and most expensive days of the week, how far in advance to book to get the best prices, and most important of all what the price is likely to be.
From here on, our newsletters will be archived in our Blog section
, if you want to go back to read something again, it will always be there for you.
And finally.... There are two rules for ultimate success in life:
1. Never tell everything you know.