Short cuts: A taste of the Alps in Munich

London A new rail service will make it easier for skiers to reach the resorts of Switzerland’s Valais region this winter. Eurostar already runs seasonal direct trains from London to the French Alps but a new collaboration with TGV Lyria will see passengers travel from London or Ashford to Lille, where a TGV continues direct to Aigle, Martigny, Visp and Brig – giving easy access to resorts such as Villars, Verbier and Saas Fee. The service means it will be possible to travel from St Pancras to Zermatt with only two changes of train. The trains will run on Saturdays from December 22 to April 13, and take just over nine hours to get from London to Brig. Tickets go on sale on Thursday and cost from £189 return.

Munich From October 23, the Mandarin Oriental hotel will bring a taste of the Alps to the centre of Munich, with a rooftop recreation of a traditional mountain restaurant. Until January 31, the Alm will offer Bavarian food and schnapps, served by waiters in lederhosen and with views over Munich’s old town.

Washington After arranging trips to North Korea and Northern Ireland, Libya and Bosnia, specialist tour operator Political Tours is setting its sights on the US. The company, which offers current affairs-focused trips led by journalists, politicians and academics, is running an eight-night itinerary coinciding with the final lead up to the election on November 6. It starts in Ohio, then follows the campaign trail in Virginia and Washington, DC. Highlights include meetings with Democratic and Republican campaign managers and union and religious pressure groups, and visits to CNN’s studio and the New York Times’ Washington bureau. The trip runs from October 31 to November 7 and costs £3,200.

New York Virgin Atlantic will unveil a new lounge, or “clubhouse” in the airline’s lexicon, at Newark Liberty airport on October 28. It is the work of Slade Architecture, who also created the highly praised Virgin lounge at JFK. The Newark lounge is the final phase of a £100m upgrade to the airline’s business class offering.

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