Short cuts: Travel news and inspiration


The Hôtel de Crillon, the grand Parisian hotel that opened in 1909 and occupies a palace commissioned by Louis XV in 1758, is to close at the end of the month for a two-year refurbishment. As a result, some 3,500 lots of furniture, memorabilia and fine wines are to be sold at auction. Items being offered include art deco bar stools (guide price €200-€300), the mahogany and silver dessert trolley (€3,000-€4,000), as well as numerous items of Louis XV-style furniture, wines from the remarkable cellar that supplied its Michelin-starred restaurant, porcelain, silverware, light fittings and tapestries. The sale, being handled by auctioneers Artcurial, will be held at the hotel over five days from April 18 to 22 (viewing from April 12 to 16).


At the start of the 20th century, the houseboats on Srinagar’s Dal Lake offered the height of luxury to visitors seeking an escape from the plains’ summer heat. But the region’s political struggles led to dwindling tourist numbers, and an air of faded grandeur settled over many of the boats. Now though, with visitor numbers rising once more, a luxurious new houseboat is to open. Mary-Ann Denison-Pender, of the independent Indian hotel directory Mahout, says it “promises to raise the level of comfort and design on the lakes to an all-new high”. Sukoon, due to open on March 20, is a traditional vessel built in the 1970s but entirely refurbished, with five spacious cabins, each with bathroom, wifi and purified water on tap. Dinner is included (the cooks are Kashmiri and Keralan), as is use of a solar-powered motorboat to get to and from shore. From Rs7,500 (£95).,


Orient-Express continues its expansion into the Americas with its reinvention of El Encanto in Santa Barbara, which opens on March 18. Established in 1913, the 92-room hotel has played host to Hollywood legends such as Clark Gable, Carole Lombard, Barbra Streisand and Sharon Stone. President Franklin D Roosevelt was such a regular it became known, during his time in office, as the White House of the West. From $525 plus taxes.


James Jayasundera, founder of Ampersand Travel, which specialises in bespoke trips to India and south Asia, is diversifying into UK tourism. Targeted at the affluent end of the Indian and South American markets, its suggested itineraries focus on British art, architecture, fashion, literature (taking in London, Oxford, Cambridge, Bath and Stratford) and sport (Wimbledon, Ascot). There’s also a six-day course (from £1,868pp) entitled “Learn to be an English Gentleman or Lady”, the necessary attributes for which turn out to be an ability to ride, to shoot clay pigeons, to play tennis, croquet and polo, and to develop a taste for afternoon tea at Claridge’s.

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