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Amsterdam is a lively city with a central downtown district that does not find time to rest. Here, remnants of the city’s maritime past are interwoven with elements of contemporary life that include bars, shops, cafés and vices with a broad spectrum of appeal. The liberal Dutch society tolerates cannabis usage and prostitution, much to the delight of those from neighbouring countries who travel here to celebrate buck’s parties or inquisitive tourists hailing from countries that are more conservative. While the legality of cannabis is hazy, this raunchy side of Amsterdam appeals to some while most are simply inquisitive and curious onlookers. When most travellers think of Holland and its largest city Amsterdam (The Hague is the capital), images of windmills, wooden shoes called clogs, wheels of Gouda cheese and fields of multicoloured tulips spring to mind. However, the reality is that the closest encounter most visitors will have with these Dutch icons is the endless rows of souvenirs displayed in tourist precincts like Bloemenmarkt, a floating flower market. However, visitors will definitely encounter bikes, dykes and lights while exploring the sights of this lively, multicultural and cosmopolitan city of just 800,000 residents. CENTRAL AMSTERDAM Holland has always intrigued me and even more so, when I realised that a quarter of the country is below sea level with its gateway Schiphol Airport situated on a former lake, several metres below sea level. As my KLM plane approached Schiphol, I checked beneath the seat for the lifejacket, just in case. Of course, planes do not land on water thanks to Holland’s ingenious network of ancient dykes and polders that keep the seawater at bay. I checked a map of Amsterdam to appreciate that the city and surrounding areas are indeed a network of canals, lakes, rivers and dykes holding back the waters of the North Sea. Amsterdam’s famous dykes are not so obvious but without retaining walls and floodgates to keep out the seawater, there would not be much to see of Amsterdam as basically it, and much of Holland, has been reclaimed from the sea. This reclamation has been ongoing for centuries and explains why the Dutch are such great hydrological engineers. I also discovered that one of the functions of windmills in days gone by was to pump water from the land out to sea to keep the seawater in check. Canals are one of the main attractions and a canal cruise is the best way to admire just how important these were for Amsterdam’s original settlers. While the River IJ divides Amsterdam, most visitors do not appreciate it as the main tourist attractions are in central Amsterdam just to the south of the river. From an elevated vantage point at the rear of the main railway station, I appreciated that the River IJ waterfront divides central Amsterdam and Amsterdam Noord. Both parts of the city are visible from the Centraal Station located in a lively port precinct where large ocean-going cruise ships moor at the nearby docks. Visitors emerge from the city side of Centraal Station on

For those Thais looking for the ultimate romantic getaway this Valentine’s Day, Airbnb announces that one lovestruck couple will be the first to spend the night in the historic home of Shakespeare’s Juliet in Verona, Italy. Casa di Giulietta has inspired generations with its iconic balcony that reflects Shakespeare’s description in Romeo & Juliet. And now one winner and their partner will be given unprecedented access to the 13th century building, to step back in time and relive the powerful words of Shakespeare. To enter and have the chance to win this unique Only On Airbnb stay, Thais must pen a letter to Juliet, sharing their own poignant love story and explaining why they and their partner would be perfect guests. Entries can be submitted at airbnb.com/juliet until 11:59pm EST on 2nd February 2020 (11:59am on 3rd February 2020 Thailand time). Working with an Italian architect, Airbnb has transformed the centuries-old building into a sumptuous stay fit for a modern day Romeo and Juliet: one couple will be waited on by a personal butler and treated to a romantic candlelit dinner prepared by two Michelin star chef Giancarlo Perbellini in a glittering dining room filled with crystals, candles and flowers. And after a busy day of feasting, exploring and reading Juliet’s love letters, they will retire for the night to Juliet’s medieval-themed bedroom which features “Letto di Giulietta”, the original bed used in Zeffirelli’s classic 1960s movie ‘Romeo and Juliet’. The 13th century townhouse is a celebrated landmark and museum in the center of Verona and thanks to Airbnb and Verona’s Municipality, the building will be turned into a home for the first time since the 1930s. “Juliet’s House is the most important museum in the City of Verona, attracting millions of visitors every year. Partnering with Airbnb brings the widely known Shakespearian myth of Romeo and Juliet to life in a way never before offered. We are excited to promote our cultural heritage, share traditions that were previously safeguarded, and bring international visibility to the City of Verona,” said Federico Sboarina, Mayor of Verona Municipality. Highlights from the Stay include: A Romeo and Juliet inspired exploration of Verona, the city of love. Private tour of the most romantic home in the history of literature. Reading and replying to some of Juliet’s most recent love letters. Exclusive access to Michelin star chef Giancarlo Perbellini while he prepares the romantic feast. Candlelit dinner for two prepared by Giancarlo in Juliet’s sumptuous dining room. A night in Juliet’s traditional bedroom transformed for the evening into a romantic boudoir. “Every day countless new connections are made across the world by people travelling on Airbnb - creating new friendships and sometimes new love. Since 2008, an estimated one million guests have hosted their weddings on Airbnb. This Stay will give one couple the unique chance to celebrate their love in what is possibly the most romantic home in the history of literature,” said Giacomo Trovato, General Manager for Italy at Airbnb.

With Valentine’s Day falling on a Friday this year, replace the standard chocolates or long-stem roses with a short fairy-tale getaway at one of these luxury and upper upscale hotels and resorts. From romantic city escapades to dreamy beach retreats, We invite weary couples to hit pause, take a breather from the daily grind and embark on an amorous yet rejuvenating trip with their Valentine. Indulge in a mindful escape in urban Singapore Surrounded by lush green foliage and exuding timeless colonial charm, Hotel Fort Canning is the perfect base for spending some quality time together in Singapore. Lovebirds can experience the “Crazy Rich Asian” lifestyle this Valentine’s - indulging in retail therapy at the popular Orchard Road shopping belt, savouring the very best of culinary delicacies from fancy restaurants to authentic street eats, and feeding the mind with knowledge at the city’s various racial, religious and cultural enclaves. Take it up a notch with the hotel’s Love Blossoms special, where couples are treated to a complimentary bottle of Prosecco, a box of chocolate pralines, premium bubble bath with floral petals, and a pair of Hotel Fort Canning Love Squirrels. Enjoy a romantic tropical beach retreat on the coast of Da Nang, Vietnam For corporate warriors who need some Vitamin Sea, the sunny coast of Da Nang, Vietnam is perfect for a weekend rendezvous. Renowned as a beach lover’s paradise, the city is home to countless beaches with crystal-clear waters and soft powdery sand. Furama Resort Danang offers the ultimate Valentine’s Day retreat with their Honeymoon package. The two-night experience includes a private candlelit dinner with a bottle of house wine on the pristine Bac My An Beach, 60-min spa treatment and two glasses of “Honeymoon Cocktail”. Guests are also entitled to complimentary round-trip airport transfers allowing for a sweet celebration in style. Other than a revitalizing time at the resort, we recommend experiencing the magical underwater world at the Cham Islands, a beautiful spot off the Vietnamese coast teeming with marine life as well as diving and snorkeling activities as a couple. Embark on an extraordinary wellness journey in Seoul, South Korea Discover a different side of Seoul with a wellness itinerary that puts the spotlight on creating private and intimate moments for couples. Begin with a hike through Cheonggyesan Mountain on the scenic Wonteogol Trail, followed by a visit to Gangnam for Korean medicinal balance spa treatments at the flagship store of a well-known Korean beauty brand. For a memorable romantic experience, couples can immerse in beautiful sunset views while strolling along the Hangang River in the evening. Take the romantic wellness getaway a step further with the Promesse d'amour package at Lotte Hotel Seoul. Staying in the Executive Tower, guests will be greeted with a complimentary bottle of red wine, mini cookies and flowers when they step into the Junior Suite. The package also includes free access to the Le Salon executive lounge, as well as a private meal at Pierre Gagnaire à Seoul where the exquisite “Esprit” menu awaits guests. Experience the ultimate pampering in Lugano,

Lausanne, also known as the “Olympic Capital”, has been the home of the modern Olympic Movement for more than a hundred years. Today, more than 50 international sporting organizations call this region their home. Because of that, sport and the positive values that it carries has become a part of Switzerland’s DNA. Therefore, delivering the Youth Olympic Games' vision to inspire the youth of the world to adopt and live according to the Olympic values of Respect, Friendship and Excellence right from the heart of the Olympic Capital was an idea that made a lot of sense for the people of the city, the region and of Switzerland as a whole. From January 9 to 22 2020, Lausanne will be welcoming the third edition of the Winter Youth Olympic Games. 26 years after obtaining the title of Olympic Capital, Lausanne will become an Olympic city by hosting the second largest multisport winter event after the Olympic Winter Games. This event will offer a unique and unforgettable Olympic experience to young athletes. The combination of culture, performance and education will give rise to a genuine celebration of sports. The Youth Olympic Games (YOG) is an international Olympic sporting event of the highest level for athletes aged 15 to 18. They combine sports performance, culture and education in an authentic celebration of sport with a festive atmosphere. The aim is to encourage young people to adopt and represent the positive values of sport – respect for others, for themselves and for our environment; friendship between people and cultures; and, excellence in self-giving – and to become sports ambassadors throughout the world. The Lausanne 2020 Torch Tour starts 21 September to 9 January! As is tradition, the Lausanne 2020 Olympic torch will be lit in Athens, Greece, on September 17. The next day, it will make its way back to Switzerland, where it will make an appearance at a Swiss Games for the first time since the Winter Olympic Games in St. Moritz in 1948. From 21 September, the torch will travel through the 26 Swiss cantons for a four-month trip that will end on the evening of the opening ceremony of Lausanne 2020, on 9 January. For more information on The Youth Olympic Games Lausanne 2020 please click here Beau Rivage Palace is looking forward to welcome guests for the YOG Lausanne 2020. In conjunction with YOG Lausanne 2020, the entrance to the nearby The Olympic Museum will be free of charge from Monday 6 to Sunday 26 January 2020. Since 1861, Beau-Rivage Palace has been proving that tradition and innovation – just like cultural heritage and modernity – complement each other very well. Ideally situated on the banks of Lake Geneva, Beau-Rivage Palace is nestled in a natural beauty spot just a stone’s throw away from the centre of Lausanne. Like the neighbouring International Olympic Committee, the palace is an institution in the Ouchy district. Merely 10-minutes away from the vibrant city centre, the hotel benefits from the Mediterranean atmosphere of the nearby harbour. The hotel’s four hectare large garden and splendid terrace form an oasis of

As a new year dawns, our desire to discover and explore more of the world is awakened. To help inspire travelers to achieve this ambition, Lifestyle+Travel and Booking.com has delved into global booking trends to reveal 10 of the top emerging travel destinations for 2020. From hidden gems in Eastern Europe to under-the-radar spots in Asia, these up-and-coming destinations promise novel experiences, untouched natural beauty and the chance to soak up the magic before everyone else catches on. Salta, Argentina Bright colonial architecture with colorful and unique landscapes nearby, Salta is located in the heart of the Argentine Andes and is a great ‘best of both worlds’ destination for the one-in-five of global travelers who want to visit Argentina in 2020. Whether taking in the colorful cityscape with a visit to 9 de Julio Plaza, a lush public square in the heart of the city, San Francisco Church, a historic church and monastery that dates back to the 1600s or exploring the nearby colorful landscape of The Hill of Seven Colors and Salinas Grandes (salt flats), a trip to this beautiful part of the world will leave a colorful impression. Where to stay: Sociable Hostal Prisamata is the perfect accommodation for travelers looking to mingle with other like minded adventurers. The communal spaces at this friendly hostel are perfect for planning excursions and enjoying the continental breakfast on offer. The accommodation is also well located to explore the sites nearby as it’s walking distance from the 9 de Julio Plaza and helps organize tours to the other sites in the area. Takamatsu, Japan Takamatsu, also known as Udon Kingdom and the Gateway of Shikoku, is a port town that’s the perfect vacation for travelers interested in vibrant food scenes and scenic backdrops. Once you have finished feasting on noodles, a must-visit is the picturesque Ritsurin Park. The park is a Japanese national treasure and is home to many tea houses where travelers can experience a traditional Japanese tea ceremony; plus the Engetsu-kyo (moon crossing) bridge and iconic lotus ponds. Where to stay: Complete your trip to Japan by staying in an authentic Ryokan (a traditional Japanese inn), with a visit to Kiyomisanso Hanajyukai. This accommodation is located in Takamatsu, with nearby sites including the Kitahamaebisu Shrine and the Heike Monogatari Historical Museum. Travelers can enjoy a soak in the hot spring bath, a delicious Asian breakfast and sea views from their private balcony. Seogwipo, South Korea The second largest city on South Korea’s Jeju Island, Seogwipo, is a bustling coastal city surrounded by natural wonders of the volcanic coastline. Ideal for active travelers, Seogwipo’s clear blue waters will prove popular with scuba-diving enthusiasts, while nearby Mount Hallasan is a great option for those looking to lace up their boots and take a hike. Seogwipo is also the perfect base to visit the nearby waterfalls - Cheonjiyeon Falls and Jeongbang. To refuel after a day of adventuring, the Seogwipo Olle Market offers tastes of the region with various street food and fresh produce stalls, while downtown Seogwipo is home to many

If you haven’t booked your end-of-year getaway yet, there’s still time. With the holiday season just around the corner, it’s time to recharge and explore new cities and neighbourhoods. From a sala-style home in Chiang Mai’s old quarter to a luxury barn house in Khao Yai; from an island villa in southern Thailand to a designer’s house in Bangkok’s Chinatown, these seasonal stays are sure to put the ho ho ho in your holidays. Thai Sala House In The Old Town (Chiang Mai) Immerse yourself in history this holiday season with a stay at this one bedroom (2 guests) traditional sala Thai house located right in the heart of Chiang Mai’s old town. Within walking distance of temples, Sunday Walking Street, museums and more, the central location makes it an ideal home base for discovering everything Chiang Mai has to offer. If you're looking to immerse yourself in the local scene and explore what Chiang Mai and surrounds has to offer, check out these Airbnb Experiences: Organic Farm Thai Cooking Experience, Secrets of Sak Yant, Cafe Hopping With A Coffee Connoisseur. Designer’s House in Chinatown (Bangkok) Interested in a city break this holiday season? Make this renovated Airbnb Plus four-bedroom (9 guests) house your home for the holiday. Located in Chinatown, it’s the perfect base from which to explore the history and culture of this old quarter, its local neighbourhoods, alleyways while trying out the delicious bites from the street vendors. The best way to see the real Bangkok is through the eyes of a local – check out these Airbnb Experiences for an alternative view of Bangkok: Living Along The Kong, The Secret Of China Town And Local Life, Tuk Tuk Adventure And Thai Street Food. Khao Yai Barnhouse (Nakhon Ratchasima) Just two-hours by car for Bangkok, Nakhon Ratchasima is a popular weekend getaway for city-dwellers and is famed for its cooler, refreshing weather, especially during the December/ January holiday season. Home of Thailand's first national park, Khao Yai, this luxury five-bedroom (11 guests) property inspired by the English countryside is surrounded by a golf course and has sweeping views of the nearby mountains. The vast outdoor spaces and large kitchen makes this barnhouse ideal for family and group holidays. Villa Aria on Koh Yao Noi (Phang Nga) Head south to the island of Koh Yao Noi in Phang Nga province for a tranquil break. The island is home to an active local fishing community and incredible landscapes and flora, as well as some beautiful, and deserted, beaches. This custom wooden two-bedroom (4 guests) house was built by local artisans. Situated on the east side of the island, it offers a quiet retreat with spectacular views across Phang Nga Bay and the beach is just 300 metres away. For those travelling in a larger group, there are two neighbouring apartments that can also be booked making this an ideal island hangout for the holiday season.   For those looking to travel overseas this holiday season, below are some stunning stays in Asia-Pacific that will make for a delightful holiday-break. Alternatively,

Latest Airbnb booking data has revealed growing interest in lesser-known destinations and eco-conscious cities across the globe, as travellers look for new, local and authentic travel experiences beyond big cities. In Thailand, emerging destinations across the country are increasingly appealing to both domestic and international travellers. Case-in-point is Buriram in Thailand’s Northeast saw 383% growth in bookings* year-over-year, propelling it into third place on Airbnb’s top 20 global destinations to visit next year. Here are the Top 20 trending destinations for 2020: 1. Milwaukee, WI, US The host of next year’s Democratic National Convention, Milwaukee makes it to the top of our trending list. This historic gem on the shores of Lake Michigan often slips under the radar but has a terrific bar and restaurant scene and fascinating cultural attractions that include a Calatrava-designed art museum. And with over 105 miles of scenic bike lanes, it’s easy to see why Milwaukee is experiencing an upsurge in interest among guests on Airbnb. 2. Bilbao, Spain Bilbao’s transformation from rust belt city to flourishing culture hub is truly remarkable. The city’s Frank Gehry-designed Guggenheim Museum put Bilbao on the map when it opened back in 1997. Since then the Basque city has been on an ever upward ascent, winning the European City of the Year in 2018. Visitors to the area are rewarded with a lively dining scene, breathtaking architecture and an unforgettable cityscape. Next year, Bilbao will also become a top destination for sports fans: it’s one of the host cities of Europe’s most beloved soccer competition. 3. Buriram, Thailand The rural province of Buriram is home to some of Thailand’s most treasured Khmer relics. Its best known monument is the incredible Phanom Rung complex which is comparable in grandeur to its much more famous Cambodian neighbor, Angkor Wat. In addition to ancient ruins, the province has also become a sporting hotspot: 2018 saw the inaugural MotoGP motor racing event at the Chang International Circuit which also plays host to the Buriram Marathon each year. MotoGP is scheduled to return in March next year. 4. Sunbury, Victoria, Australia A short drive northwest of Melbourne, the suburb of Sunbury is a popular spot with savvy locals thanks to its wildlife, wineries and Victorian-era architecture. Its biggest claim to fame is as the birthplace of cricket’s most sought-after trophy — The Ashes. In 2020, Sunbury looks to attract cricket fans from near and far as Melbourne will be hosting the ICC T20 World Cup. 5. Romania Romania, with its pristine hills and ancient rural villages, is the perfect destination for anyone looking for something off-the-beaten-track. The country has some of the best preserved virgin forests in Europe and, according to the 2018 Environmental Performance Index, ranks 15th globally when it comes to ecosystem vitality. 6. Xi'an, China Often cited as one of the birthplaces of Chinese civilization, Xi'an is best known as the home of the terracotta warriors — a vast collection of prehistoric clay soldiers discovered by local farmers in 1974. Today, the capital of China’s western Shaanxi province is a major culinary melting pot while

Highclere Castle - the home of Downton Abbey - is now available for a once-in-a-lifetime stay available only on Airbnb. For one night only, Highclere Castle will open its doors to two guests, giving super fans an opportunity to immerse themselves in the iconic location of Downton Abbey, and learn what life might have been like for the Crawleys. Guests will be treated like royalty during their stay, with the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon inviting their guests to join them for an exclusive evening of cocktails in the Saloon followed by a traditional dinner in the State Dining Room, being waited on by Highclere Castle's own butler. After dinner, coffee will be served in the Library before the guests retire to one of the principal bedrooms with an en-suite bathroom and views over 1,000 acres of rolling parkland. Before departing the next day, guests will enjoy a delicious breakfast prior to a private tour of Highclere Castle's extensive grounds. The Castle itself covers 100,000 square feet and has a total of 300 rooms. Throughout the property, the rooms are opulently decorated and furnished, with each detail providing a unique insight into Highclere Castle's history. Fans will get the opportunity to explore iconic rooms, such as the Drawing Room, or relax in one of the Gallery bedrooms, following in the footsteps of kings and queens. In celebration of the motion picture event Downton Abbey, booking for the listing will open on October 1, 2019 at 12PM BST. Lady Carnarvon, Host on Airbnb comments: "It's an absolute privilege and pleasure to call Highclere Castle my home and I am delighted to be able to share it on Airbnb for a truly unique stay. Highclere Castle has been in the Carnarvon family since 1679 and has an incredibly rich history. I am passionate about the stories and heritage of Highclere Castle, and I am looking forward to welcoming our future guests." Hadi Moussa, General Manager for Northern Europe Airbnb comments: "We are thrilled to be able to offer fans the ultimate Downton Abbey experience through this once-in-a-lifetime-stay at Highclere Castle. At Airbnb we are passionate about offering unique and unforgettable travel experiences to our community, and we are certain that guests will have a magical experience while staying on the iconic location of Downton Abbey." Booking details: To view Highclere Castle - home of Downton Abbey - on Airbnb, visit airbnb.com/downtonabbey Highclere Castle is only available for a one-night stay for up to two guests on November 26, 2019 costing £150 inclusive. Reservation opportunities will go live on October 1, 2019 at 12PM BST. To celebrate this special offering, Airbnb will be making a donation to The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.  

Le Bristol Paris, pearl of Oetker Collection, invites all bon vivants to discover superb wines presented by their passionate wine masters, over a four-course dinner from Eric Frechon’s Michelin starred kitchens. The 2019 series of Wine Mondays begins on October 7th. France has long been known as the country of good taste, fine fare and gastronomy. At the heart of this prestigious heritage, there is the noble grape which transforms into a treasure of infinite colours and flavours. At Le Bristol Paris, there are no less than twelve sommeliers each equally determined to seek out the finest wines for the pleasure of the Palace guests. Twelve Wine Masters Under the guidance of Bernard Neveu, Sommelier Director, twelve sommeliers assiduously explore great vintages and seek out the finest newcomers. This elite team of sommeliers discover new wines that will eventually become part of the French gastronomic experience, earning the privilege to be paired with the Michelin starred cuisine of this Parisian Palace. They are masters in creating sublime food and wine pairings, committed connoisseurs, they elevate the profession to an art. A century and half of oenology Le Bristol’s cellars are a hallowed place where some of the rarest wines age with around 100,000 bottles, 60,000 are literally beneath the Palace. There are some legendary vintages such as a Riversaltes 1875, or a Petrus 1961, both on Epicure’s wine list, an historic tome with 2,500 references, cataloguing a century and a half of oenology.  “One of the greatest in the world” proclaims the American magazine Wine Spectator, who gave Epicure’s list their highest accolade, the Wine Spectator Grand Award, for the 4th year in a row. The treasure hunt At Le Bristol Paris wine and the wine makers are held in utmost reverence, and Wine Mondays are dedicated to them. These shared evenings of discovery begin months earlier when you find Bernard Neveu and his team striding along the most beautiful domains across the countryside, from the Côte d’Or to Bordeaux, Alsace’s plains to the Loire valley’s hillsides, seeking the most precious bottles. Their treasure hunt culminates at brasserie de luxe 114 Faubourg where they share their greatest finds and best encounters in their Wine Mondays. Wines are paired with a four course dinner created for the evening by three Michelin starred Chef Eric Frechon. Wine Mondays At these evenings the sommeliers reveal remarkable wines, private domains and passionate wine-growers but above all, give meaning to the word pleasure. The evening takes place in the stylish floral surrounds of 114 Faubourg, over a four-course gastronomic dinner. Price €140 per guest. Continuing the degustation, the wine which is given pride of place will be included in the 114 Faubourg wine list for the upcoming month. Price: €140 per guest Programme 2019-2020 7th October 2019 Domaine Mongeard-Mugneret / Bourgogne Côte de Nuits Family-owned since 1620 in the heart of the prestigious village of Vosne Romanée, the Mongeard-Mugneret estate has some 30 hectares of vineyards divided into 35 appellations, including the magnificent grands crus such as Echezeaux, Grands-Echezeaux, Clos de Vougeot and Richebourg. Wines offer the velvety texture and delicacy typical of great Burgundy wines,