Author Archives: Dan Pilkington

About Dan Pilkington

Gekko connects people with places. Our hotel recommendation engine finds you hotels similar to ones you've loved before. You can then book your chosen hotel at the best price guaranteed, so you can have complete confidence in your hotel choice.

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Top 5 budget hotels in the UK

The Telegraph have announced their top 25 budget hotels in the UK. We like saving a bit of cash so we’ve picked our favourite five for a great value UK break.

1. The Premier Inn, London County Hall
In the historical County Hall building near London’s South Bank, beside the London Eye, opposite Big Ben and 350 metres from Waterloo Station, this Premier Inn has modern, family-friendly rooms which have been recently renovated. Many rooms overlook Jubilee Gardens while others look east down the Thames. Best views are from the fifth and sixth floors; room 600 takes the prize, with the Millennium Bridge, the City and the adjacent London Eye all visible. There is also an on-site restaurant and bar offering good-value refreshment.

Book The Premier Inn, London County Hall from £101
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2. Novotel, Liverpool
Unlike most of Liverpool’s hotel chains this Novotel hotel is in the heart of town. It’s a 10 minute walk from Lime Street Station and the Echo Arena, and close to the nightlife district. Restaurant and bar 24-hour room service Indoor pool, spa tub, sauna Guestrooms. Wireless Internet access (surcharge) Minibars LCD televisions.

Book the Novotel, Liverpool from £99
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3. Mercure Wessex, Winchester
If you pay an extra £10 you will be guaranteed one of the 28 (of 94) rooms that enjoy a view of Winchester Cathedral. (The average rate for a room and breakfast across the board is £100 at this city centre hotel) A further eight rooms have partial views. Walker’s, the onsite restaurant at Mercure Wessex Winchester, serves international dishes and opens for breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily. The King’s Lounge serves drinks and snacks from 11 AM to 11 PM.

Book Mercure Wessex, Winchester from £79
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4. Ibis, Leeds
Ibis Leeds is located just half a mile from the centre of Leeds. It is ideally located to explore the centre of Leeds and its many places of interest, conveniently close to shops and the station. The relaxing atmosphere of the hotel will appeal to business travellers and leisure travellers alike, with each of the 168 well equipped en-suite rooms boasting a desk, modem point, satellite television, tea and coffee making facilities and air-cooling.

Book the the Ibis, Leeds from £50
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5. The Premier Inn, Oxford
This hotel offers comfortable, great-value rooms and free parking. Oxford is not normally known for its responsibly priced hotels. To find the kind of value offered by this Premier Inn, you have to stay three miles outside in the Oxford Business Park (there’s a bus into town). There is a David Lloyd Leisure Club next to the hotel, offering discounted day passes. All of the large, clean and modern rooms have satellite TV, hairdryers, tea/coffee and telephone/modem points.

Book The Premier Inn, Oxford from £45
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Top 5 spa hotels in the UK

The Times has unveiled its top spa hotels in the world so we decided to pick out the ones that we love that are close to home (well, for us in London anyway). So if you’re looking to relax this Easter, book into one of these indulgent retreats.

4* Fowey Hall – A Luxury Family Hotel
Overlooking Fowey Port and the sea, this luxury family hotel with an indulgent spa retreat and fun kids’ facilities is a 5-minute walk from the sandy Readymoney Cove. Fowey Hall is a luxury country-house hotel with rich architecture that was inspiration for Toad Hall in ‘The Wind in the Willows’. In the grounds there is an indoor pool, games, a play area and a big trampoline. Enjoy gourmet cuisine, classic bistro dishes and local oysters and mussels from the hotel’s extensive shellfish menu. Find out more here

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5* Seaham Hall Hotel and The Serenity Spa
Indulge and unwind at Seaham Hall, a small, sea-facing luxury hotel with Michelin Star dining and an oriental-style spa. It has a cliff-top setting a 20 minutes from Newcastle. As well as its Michelin Star, The White Room restaurant has 3 AA Rosettes and serves fine, memorable cuisine for a true English experience. Inspired by Feng Shui, the spa connects to the hotel via a magical underground walkway and offers over 45 different treatments. Find out more here

4* Bishopstrow House & Halycon Spa
This English country house in the beautiful Wylye Valley has a luxurious spa, 2 AA Rosette dining in Mulberry, and is a 10-minute journey from Longleat House and Safari Park. Bishopstrow House is perfect for de-stressing and relaxing. Its halcyon spa has indoor and outdoor pools, a Rasul mud therapy room, Elemis treatments, a sauna, steam room and much more. Each bedroom has its own personality and is beautifully decorated. Find out more here

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5* Chewton Glen Hotel
Chewton Glen, probably the best combination of country house grandeur, food and spa facilities anywhere in the uk. A five red star hotel on the edge of the New Forest and just minutes walk from the sea. Chewton Glen is a luxury hotel, spa and country club situated between the ancient New Forest and the sea. Featuring an award-winning restaurant, world-class leisure activities, luxurious accommodation, and modern conference facilities, Chewton Glen is the perfect destination for romantic escapes, relaxing getaways, or corporate events alike. Find out more here

5* Rocco Forte Balmoral Hotel
The Rocco Forte Collection’s Balmoral is a luxury hotel in the true sense of the word. With its majestic clock tower, the hotel is a unique and contemporary luxury five-star property in the very heart of Edinburgh. While many Edinburgh hotels claim to have Edinburgh’s landmarks on their doorstep, few can say their doorstep is a landmark. Located on Princes Street, in Edinburgh’s main shopping area and next to Waverley Station, The Balmoral is close to the leading luxury department stores and within walking distance of many Edinburgh attractions. Find out more here

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Top 5 things to do in Istanbul

Legendary Shopping District1. The Grand Bazaar
Four thousand shops, stalls, restaurants – even its own mosque. With goods that are both cheap and extravagant you’ll be sure to bag a bargain. Make sure you head over to Dhoku, whose hand-woven Turkish kilims bear ethno-cool designs conceived by the international architecture group Superpool. The best part is that prices are fixed and there’s no hard sell. A sure relief as throughout Grand Bazaar there is an army of arm-twisting  salesmen. For those looking for a piece of Turkish authentic furniture then head over to the Asmalimescit district for some curvy, organic wood furnishings from Turkey’s hottest interior design group, Autoban. Find out more here

Hotels near The Grand Bazaar:
Ottoman Hotel Park
Rast Hotel
Tan Hotel

Italian restaurant2. Lucca & Babylon
The Lucca, an Italian restaurant and cocktail lounge for people who want to  indulge in the city’s top after-work and pre-party scenes. The cozy interior sets the atmoshphere, plenty of artwork and even a few books, a DJ spins loud house and soul music while the professionals and socialites sip champagne cocktails and pomegranate mojitos. If your looking for a place with excellent music then Babylon is a must. The best live music from Turkey and around the globe, as well as the occasional star DJ, join the cool kids and dance until your hearts content. Find out more

Hotels near the Lucca & Babylon:
Swissotel The Bosphorus Istanbul
Çırağan Palace Kempinski Istanbul
Radisson Sas Bosphorus Hotel

3. Mikla
For a fantastic view of Istanbul’s amazing skyline why not do it in style at the Mikla. This beautiful restaurant thanks to celeb chef Mehmet Gurs serves global-fusion food. Foie gras and porcini terrine, cherrywood-smoked lamb loin with walnut pistou, Turkish coffee, millefeuille and much more await if you can pry your eyes from the view.

Hotels Near the Mikla:
The Marmara Taksim
The Marmara Pera
Pera Rose Hotel

4. Topkapi Palace
The Topkapi oozes history, of course there are other attractions such as the ruins of the Roman Hippodrome, the massively vaulted Hagia Sofia Cathedral, the cobalt-tiled Blue Mosque. But the best stories lurk in the centuries-old walls of Topkapi Palace, where sultans plotted murders and invasions, eunuchs and harem girls cavorted in plush dens and court artists and artisans fashioned some of the most beautifully wrought creations in Islam. Make time to pop round the corner to the Blue Mosque – just avoid prayer time. Find out more

Hotels Near the Topkapi Palace:
Arena Hotel
Gülhanepark Hotel
Hotel Yasmak Sultan

5. Istiklal Caddesi
This 19th century, French influenced area is where Istanbullus eat, shop, drink and have fun. This cosmopolitan area includes cinemas, bars, theatres and restaurants as well as a wide range of shops. On the main drag there are cake shops of appalling sinfulness (Inci Pastanesi, Istiklal Caddesi, No 124), some of the best bookshops in the world (Pandora, Buyukparmakkapi Sokak, 3, and Simurg, Hasnun Galip Sokak). Nevizade Sokak is the place to go to drink beer and rakı. This is best approached through the Fish Market (Balık Pazar), which has its own Armenian church (Uc Horon). Find out more here

Hotels Near the Istiklal Caddesi:
The Marmara Taksim
Misafir Suites Istanbul
Nippon Hotel

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The 5 top things to do in New York this spring

1. Tim Burton at MOMA: Until 26 April
Tim Burton has just cemented his reputation as one of the world’s finest and most influential directors with his recent masterpiece Alice In Wonderland. Following on from classics like The Nightmare Before Christmas, Edward Scissorhands and Beetlejuice, Burton has created another trip into his own distinctive world and his fevered imagination is fully explored in this exhibition at MOMA. From early childhood drawings to never-seen-before moving image works, this is a fascinating insight into Burton’s mind. Throw in concept art, storyboards, puppets, maquettes, costumes and cinematic ephemera from his films and this is a must for any Burton fan. Find out more here

Hotels near MOMA:
Club Quarters Rockefeller Center
Warwick New York
Hilton New York

2. Whitney Biennial: Until 30 May
The Whitney Museum of American Art Biennial hasn’t got a theme this year, just a date: 2010. The exhibition represents a small portion of the world’s contemporary art production, including artists such as David Adamo, Julia Fish, Rashaad Newsome (and about 50 others). The Whitney chose the date to, “give the idea of time as an element of the Biennial and to demonstrate the influence of the past on 2010.” The Whitney is on Madison Avenue at 75th Street.
Find out more here

Hotels near The Whitney:
Hotel Wales
The Franklin Hotel
The Surrey

3. Tribeca Film Festival, 21 April – 2 May
Established in 2002 to revitalise Lower Manhattan after September 11th, the Tribeca Film Festival is now one of the most prominent and recognisable film festivals in the world. With Robert De Niro leading the way, it rarely goes wrong. The 2010 film list includes much-anticipated movies from Michael Winterbottom and Neil Jordan. Find out more here

Hotels in Lower Manhattan:
Duane Street Hotel Tribeca
Thompson LES
Soho Grand Hotel

4. Cirque du Soliel, Banana Shpeel: Until 3 May
Produced by the famous Cirque du Soleil, Banana Shpeel is a new twist on vaudeville, a theatrical mix of comedy and dance currently playing at The Beacon Theatre off Broadway until May. Mixing jokes with tap, hip hop, eccentric dance and slapstick, all linked by a hilarious narrative, it’s a visual treat. Find out more here

Hotels near Broadway:
Hotel 41 at Times Square
AKA Times Square
Millennium Broadway

5. Gossip Girl location tours: Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays
If you’re a fan of hit TV show Gossip Girl then you’ll love this tour of the programme’s top locations around New York. The characters are all glossy NYC socialites who love sex, drugs and intrigue and now you can see their playground. See the hotel where the Van der Woodsens live, the Constance Billard School for Girls where the characters are students and the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum, scene of the Bass / Van der Woodsen wedding. Find out more here

Hotels in the Lower East Side:
Hotel on Rivington
Blue Moon Hotel
The GEM Hotel SoHo

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Compare hotel prices on Booking.com and Expedia

We think that Gekko is the smarter way to find the right hotel for your trip. Gekko already helps you find a hotel you’ll love by giving you personalised hotel recommendations and now we’re giving you the chance to compare hotel prices on two of the largest online travel companies.

On over 20,000 top hotels in our most popular cities, we will now show you the hotel rates on Booking.com and Expedia for the dates that you would like to stay. So you can now find the right hotel and book at the best price on your favourite travel site.

Find a hotel you’ll love on Gekko now.

We are going to be adding more top travel sites in the next few weeks so keep checking the Gekko blog or sign up here to receive Gekko updates.

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Top 10 Hotel Bars in New York City

1. Gansevoort rooftop
Fantastic rooftop bar in Manhattan, just moments from NYC’s main attractions, which is perfect for a sunny summer afternoon but avoid the Meat Packing Bridge and Tunnel crowd at the weekends.
See the Gansevoort rooftop.

2. The Library Hotel
Great bar for evening drinks or afternoon coffee. Take a look at the Library.

3. Gramercy Park
Great downstairs bar and up on the rooftop too. Find out more about the Gramercy Park hotel.

4. Soho Grand
Great for indie muso celeb spotting. Check out the Soho Grand.

5. The Peninsular rooftop
Great views of the city and Central Park from this rooftop bar. Check out the Pen here.

6. The Hudson
Indoors and outdoors – great daytime or evening, gets very busy later. See The Hudson hotel.

7. The Royalton
Really cool hotel bar in Midtown Manhattan between Times Square and the Rockefeller Center. Great cocktails and you can hang out with the wannabe beautiful people – my mate Tony loved the place! Click here for details of the Royalton.

8. The Bowery
A little old skool on the decor but great cocktails. The Bowery hotel.

9. The Mercer
Great for drinks and food, upstairs or down in the basement! See The Mercer.

10. The Rivington
I love the restaurant here and the bar is a lively place to enjoy after dinner. Take a look at The Rivington.

There are three new additions to New York that I have yet to visit –

The Standard New York in the Meat Packing District.
The Andaz on Wall Street.
The Crosby Street Hotel in SoHo.

I’d welcome any comments from people who have been to any of these!

For a Gekko’s other hotspots in NYC, see my New York Address Book.

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