As far as exploring Eastern Europe, the postcard cities of Prague (Czech) and Budapest (Hungary) steal the tourism thunder. It means their charming neighbour Bratislava goes unnoticed, serving as a transit city for tours of bordering Austria and Hungary. But there’s reason to stop and stare at this photogenic Slovak capital.
Walking through the narrow lanes of ancient Staré Město (Old Town), you can step through the gothic Michael’s Gate and unravel the history and beauty of the 15th-century hilltop Bratislava Castle without the jostle and hustle of tourists. Around now until the end of February, when temperatures drop below zero, hearts will soar at the sight of the Hviezdoslav Square blanketed in snow.
The Tulip House Boutique Hotel (a 10-minute walk away) will warm you back up with its cheerful art nouveau facade and blazing hospitality. The roomy executive suites are beautiful spaces to rest in before you hit up nearby Slovak National Theatre or the festivals by the River Danube. Call 00421 2 32 17 18 19 or email email@example.com.
Discover Slovakia in absolute luxury in business class with Fly Dubai’s direct flights from Dubai to Bratislava. Visit www.flydubai.com.
Carlton Palace Hotel, Deira
This DSF why not try going back to the city’s retail roots? Spend the weekend pottering around Deira’s traditional gold souk and spice souks, swot up on some heritage and skip dreaded traffic with a luxe stay at Carlton Palace Hotel. The five-star hotel’s DSF weekend deal is a steal with spacious rooms for Dh400 per night. Until February 1. Call 04 205 1281, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mandarin Oriental, Bodrum, Turkey
The peninsular port of Bodrum, where ancient wonders, chic shopping districts, and holidaying stars like Cristiano Ronaldo co-exist, has recently seen bespoke health retreats add to its appeal. The luxurious Mandarin Oriental’s five-day Healthy Living Programme at Dh3,780 per person per night includes mindful eating, facials, pilates, functional assessments and more until April 30. Call 0090 252 311 28 88.
Travel app of the week
Travelling from Vienna to Bratislava and unsure of which train to board? This public transport app will help navigate trams, trains and subways of over 400 cities. Free on iOs.
Style on the go
Swim and sing Turn every holiday by a waterbody into a pool or beach party with this waterproof speaker. Its rugged rubber frame withstands splashes, has Bluetooth connectivity, and doubles up as a portable power-bank. Dh215, Merlin.
Mighty mini Orange duffel bags like this carroty number from Mini are the new black suitcase. It’s the perfect size for spontaneous weekend getaways and the adjustable shoulder strap and easy-to-clean plastic exterior makes it airport friendly. Dh257, AGMC showroom.
Call for cover Style and safety lock lips in this playful lipstick iPhone 6 case. The silicone exterior will protect from slips and falls so your gadget returns unhurt from holidays. About Dh185, Lulu Guinness store, Souk Madinat.