London's famous Cafe Royal (below right), which closed in 2008, should be reopening in June - just in time for the Olympics - as The Cafe Royal Hotel. Established in 1865 by a French wine merchant, the Regent Street address hosted over the years everyone who was anyone in London society, from the absinthe-swilling Oscar Wilde and Noel Coward to Mick Jagger and Princess Diana. From the 1950s to the 70s, it was the venue for black-tie boxing events, where the cream of British fighters went the distance under sparkling crystal chandeliers. The new owners, who bought a 125-year lease on the property from the Crown Estate, have restored the 19th-century interiors, including the original Grill Room, to their former glory and added a contemporary spa and indoor pool to the 159-room hotel. A website has yet to be created, but when one is, it should be accessible at www.thesethotels.com.
With the Maldives experiencing political and social strife, many tour- ists are reported to be looking to Mauritius (far right) as an alternative Indian Ocean destination, and Air Mauritius is offering some reasonably priced deals for Hong Kong travellers on its website (www. airmauritius.com). Until April 21, you can get three nights at the Veranda Paul & Virginie (www.veranda-resorts.com), which gets good online reviews, with economy-class flights for HK$7,880 (and for HK$7,380 from April 22 to June 30). Another good offer is three nights at Le Meridien (www. lemeridien-mauritius.com) for HK$8,480 from May 1 to June 30. Prices include breakfast and dinner, and airport transfers (but not tax fuel surcharges). Flights depart Hong Kong every Monday and Friday, arriving in Mauritius at 6.45pm and return every Thursday and Sunday at 9pm, arriving in Hong Kong the following morning.
Travel by the book
Few 20th-century writers romanticised as many foreign destinations, with the benefit of first-hand experience, as Agatha Christie. Her travels took her all around the world over several decades and provided backdrops for some of her most famous novels, including Murder on the Orient Express (1934) and Death on the Nile (1937), as well as lesser-known stories such as They Came to Baghdad (1951) and A Caribbean Mystery (1964). In 1922, Christie made her longest voyage, with husband Archie, on a 10-month tour to promote the British Empire Exhibition of 1924. The couple travelled to Africa, Australasia, Hawaii and North America. Letters home, postcards, newspaper cuttings and hundreds of photographs taken along the way have been collected in a new book titled The Grand Tour: Letters and photographs from the British Empire Expedition 1922 and compiled by the Christies' grandson, Mathew Pritchard. Due to be published next month, it can be pre-ordered from Amazon.co.uk at a big discount. A Kindle edition - perhaps not the best format for such a heavily illustrated book - will be available at Amazon.com from April 26.
Deal of the week
Farrington American Express Travel's business-class package to Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, will be available from April 1 for the rest of the year, and starts from HK$5,990 per person, twin share. This price will get you round-trip business-class flights on Dragonair and two nights with daily breakfast at The Pacific Sutera Hotel (www.suteraharbour.com). From HK$6,290, you can choose Le Meridien Kota Kinabalu (www.starwoodhotels.com), Shangri-La's Rasa Ria Resort (www.shangri-la.com) or Magellan Sutera Resort (www. suteraharbour.com). Shangri-La's Tanjung Aru Resort & Spa (below centre) starts from HK$6,390. As this is a year-long offer, these package rates will go up by about HK$200 to HK$400 at peak periods. For reservations and further details, visit www.amextravel. com.hk or call 3121 3121 and quote package ID: L2012BKIG051.