Travellers' checks

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 18 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 18 March, 2012, 12:00am


Such a lovely place

The Beverly Hills Hotel (above right; celebrates its centenary this year with a series of accommodation and dining promotions that might make a worthwhile stay, or just a detour, for anyone visiting Los Angeles. Located on Sunset Boulevard, the sprawling five-hectare property was featured on the front cover of the Eagles' 1976 album Hotel California and was the first building to go up in the now celebrity-filled neighbourhood. Rates for the Centennial Celebration package, which includes two complimentary cocktails, a centenary candle and choc- olate truffle box, and daily American breakfast for two, start from US$660 per night. Closer to home, another hotel marking 100 years in business is the Manila Hotel (, which was built in similar style to the Beverly Hills Hotel as part of the Americanisation of the United States' new colonial possession. For many years the best hotel in the Philippines, it underwent a major refurbishment and extension in the 1970s, since when it seems to have fared less well than similarly historic Southeast Asian properties, although many reviews on are curiously positive.

Reel estate

Even if you haven't yet heard about it, you'll probably soon be familiar with The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, a British comedy film that is due for theatrical release in Hong Kong in mid-May. British travel firms are already preparing a selection of summer package tours to the film's locations in sweltering Rajasthan. Most are based at the titular hotel, which in real life is the Ravla Khempur in Udaipur. The hotel's website ( seems to have permanently crashed under the weight of its newfound fame, but it may be back up by the time you read this. Among the stock players of British cinema wheeled out to play a group of retirees who move to India to see out their days in supposed affordable luxury are Maggie Smith, Judi Dench (above, at the Ravla Khempur) and Bill Nighy. While filming, the actors stayed at the rather more upmarket Oberoi Udaivilas (above left), whose website is very much up and running at Trailers for the film, which is based on the book These Foolish Things, by Deborah Moggach - recently retitled to tie in with the film - are available to view at

Talking Turkey

New to the Istanbul hotel scene this month is Le M?ridien Istanbul Etiler (, a fairly striking 34-storey, three-tiered structure that, although locally designed, does little to enhance the city's classical skyline. Among the hotel's 259 guest rooms and suites are 21 long-stay residence suites and, unless you're in the market for one of these or are a Starwood Preferred Guest member with points to spend or accrue, you might want to consider a more centrally located hotel, such as the Pera Palas or Four Seasons. Etiler is a smart, cosmopolitan district, but it's about 15 kilometres from Istanbul's main attractions, in the Sultanahmet district. That's a long way to travel in one of Europe's most congested cities. On the upside, opening rates start from just Euro159 (HK$1,600) with breakfast and free use of the hotel's Turkish baths.

Deal of the week

Cherry picking from among the many hotels on offer with Swire Travel's two-night Singapore package, we have the InterContinental (top right; www. for HK$3,490 on weekends; Hotel 1929 ( for HK$2,890; the Grand Hyatt ( for HK$3,790; the Shangri-La Hotel ( for HK$4,190 and the Ritz-Carlton Millenia (www. for HK$3,390 on weekends. These per person, twin-share prices include round-trip, economy-class flights with Cathay Pacific and daily breakfast, and will be available until the middle of July. For more details and reservations, call Swire Travel on 3151 8888, or visit