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Travellers' checks

Adam Nebbs

 

Blown away Following a refit at an as-yet unspecified mainland port, the former Cunard cruise ship Queen Elizabeth 2 (right, in Hong Kong, in 1988), better known as the QE2 and once a regular visitor to these waters, could be headed back to Victoria Harbour for good in a couple of years. There are plans to convert the vessel into a floating hotel and though its ultimate berthing place has yet to be disclosed, speculation has centred around Hong Kong and Shanghai. The idea sounds novel, but it wouldn't be the first time Hong Kong has seen such accommodation. A converted sailing ship, with masts removed and roof added, the majestic Hotel Marina was rapturously welcomed by the local press when it opened for business almost 123 years ago. "There are twenty-four bedrooms, each with its own private bath-room, and hinged screens are fitted by which the verandah can be shut in at each side and made private," noted The Hongkong Daily Press in July 1890. "On the saloon deck are the dining room, billiard room, card room and pantry, ice-house, etc … The promenade deck has an area of 8,000 [square] feet and of course gets the breeze from whatever quarter it may be blowing. There are electric bells fitted throughout the ship, the cuisine is excellent, and every arrangement for the comfort of guests that could be expected in a first class hotel is provided." At a time before air conditioners, or even electric fans, were available, the hotel's breezy location was expected to be a considerable attraction. It advertised "exceptional advantages for Healthfulness and Refreshing breezes; the avoidance of street noises, and unwholesome odours, &c." Sadly, those refreshing breezes seem to have been the hotel's undoing, for the following October, Hongkong Telegraph (whose proprietor was a major shareholder in the venture) reported that it had blown clear across the harbour "much to the uneasiness of her few residents". Less than two weeks later, Hong Kong's first floating hotel was out of business.

 

Vin driving The Grand Hôtel de Bordeaux & Spa (top) has launched a series of "wine journeys", whereby connoisseurs can "discover the charm and elegance of the region's finest grand cru wineries" while motoring between Bordeaux chateaux. Excursions on offer include the Classic Car Wine Journey, which takes guests in a vintage vehicle to a choice of three chateaux in Margaux, St-Julien, St-Estèphe, Pauillac, St-Emilion, Pessac-Léognan and Sauternes. The Jefferson Wine Journey follows in the footsteps of the third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson, and includes a visit to the US consulate in Bordeaux, to meet the consul himself. The Ernest Hemingway Wine Journey keeps to a simpler itinerary, with trips to a couple of Margaux chateaux. All three journeys include one or two nights' accommodation at the hotel and cost between €1,140 (HK$11,450) and €2,200. For more details, go to www.ghbordeaux.com and click through Menu/The World of Wine/Wine Concierge Service.

 

Cycle seeing If you're planning to visit London this summer for some sightseeing, but would like to try something a bit less run-of-the-mill than an open-top bus tour, you might consider Tally Ho! Cycle Tours. Organised by the dapper Jack Harris (right), these three-, four- and five-hour tours set off at a civilised pace and cover some of the better- and lesser-known corners of London, not on clunky blue "Boris bikes" (a cycle hire scheme nicknamed after London Mayor Boris Johnson) but on vintage-style Pashley bicycles and tandems. More adventurous cyclists can head off on their own with a map, perhaps a bottle of ginger beer in their wicker basket and a puncture-repair kit, to explore the city at their leisure. Tours cost from £20 (HK$235) and must be booked in advance at www.tallyhocycletours.com.

 

Deal of the week Tiglion Travel is offering a cheap two-night package to Penang, Malaysia, with hotels on offer including the island's default heritage hotel, the Eastern & Oriental (below), for HK$3,390, including economy-class flights with Cathay Pacific and a few useful extras including Wi-fi, daily breakfast in the Sarkies Corner coffee shop, a daily fruit platter and newspaper, 24-hour butler service and pressing for two garments. This price will be available for travel until June 30. For a list of other hotels on offer - including Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion (HK$2,490), which is of a similar vintage to the E&O and, some would say, more authentically preserved - go to www.tiglion.com/package, select Malaysia/Penang and choose Tour code No 3554.

 

 

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