September 13, 2013 6:32 pm

Short cuts: travel news and inspiration

Open House London, a new hotel in New York’s JFK airport, a five-night holiday in Botswana and Gothenburg city tours in classic Volvo PVs
House on Willoughby Road, London

House on Willoughby Road, London

UK: More than 800 buildings across the capital will open their doors to the public for Open House London next weekend. Most are usually off-limits to the public – 10 Downing Street, for example, is to be included for the first time in the event’s 21-year history. Other highlights range from grand civic buildings, such as the Bank of England and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, to major infrastructure projects, including the Canary Wharf Crossrail construction site. Perhaps most fascinating of all, though, is the chance to see inside notable private homes, such as a modernist white house amid the Victorian terraces of Willoughby Road, Hampstead. Designed by Guard Tillman Pollock Architects, it was shortlisted for a Royal Institute of British Architects award last year. Access to Downing Street is ticketed but most other buildings are on a free, first-come basis. www.openhouselondon.org.uk

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US: The TWA Flight Center, a celebrated “mid-century modern” terminal at New York’s JFK airport, is set to become a hotel in the fashionable Standard chain. Plans to open a hotel in the terminal, designed by the Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen, were first mooted more than two years ago when its owner, the Port Authority of New York, invited hoteliers and developers including Donald Trump and the Starwood Group to tour the building. It has now emerged that André Balazs Properties, which runs eight hotels in Los Angeles, Miami and New York, has been selected for the project, to be called The Standard, Flight Center. No opening date has been announced and negotiations over the design are ongoing, complicated by the fact the terminal, which opened in 1962 and closed to the public in 2001, is a designated historic landmark and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Meanwhile, Trump has revealed details of a $200m project to convert Washington’s 19th-century Old Post Office building into a 270-room hotel, to open in 2016.

Botswana: Fifteen years ago, Alexander McCall Smith, a law professor at Edinburgh university, published a quirky novel about private investigators in Gaborone. The book, The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, went on to sell more than 20m copies worldwide, and spawned a series of 13 follow-ups. Now McCall Smith is returning to Botswana to lead a five-night holiday, organised by Orient-Express. Guests will stay at two of the company’s safari camps, watch game with the author and have the chance to chat with him around the campfire. The trip, from November 22-27, costs £3,867 full-board. www.eagleislandcamp.com

Sweden: Rome has Vespa tours, Paris has 2CVs and London Mini Coopers. Now Gothenburg is getting in on the act, with the launch of city tours in classic Volvo PVs, built in the city between 1947 and 1965. Participants can drive or be passengers on the trips, with a guide communicating between cars by radio. www.timetravelgbg.se

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