Peter's Post: You can't beat La Mamounia
Our travel expert answers questions about routes and destinations around the world
For my wife's 40th birthday I want to fulfil our dream of visiting Marrakech in Morocco. I have sorted out flights, but need to know the very best place to stay. Is La Mamounia still the city's finest hotel or is there another place I should consider? I am looking for something romantic and really special for this once-in-a-lifetime trip. - Lee Drummond
After an extensive, three-year face-lift, La Mamounia has regained its status as the country's finest and one of the best in Africa. Regarded as a palace of relaxation, it has hosted guests and luminaries over the years as diverse as Winston Churchill, Omar Sharif and Elton John.
It is now the ultimate Moroccan palace with spectacular décor and facilities. You can dine at the pool or in a traditional house and take advantage of the new spa. All this luxury and pampering does not come cheap, though. You can expect to pay around 5500 Moroccan dirhams (R4750) for a double room and 7500 Dirhams (R6500) for a suite ( www.mamounia.com). If that's a bit expensive, Marrakech is also home to a number of superb boutique hotels. One of the best is Dar Seven, which has the feel of an elegant home thanks to potted olive trees, antique doors and windows and a dining table in the open-air courtyard. You can get a room here for 150-200 euros (R1470-R1070). See www.mrandmrssmith.com for a selection of other boutique hotels.
If you would prefer a simpler experience, there are hundreds of riads in the old city that offer impossibly glamorous settings for a special occasion such as yours. One of the most romantic is Riad Enija. Built as a royal residence and then home to a wealthy silk merchant, it is rich in history and charm. It is made up of three houses filled with antiques, offering dreamy courtyards, comfortable rooms and fine fare. For information visit www.riadenija.com.
Another traditional riad that would make a charming place to stay is the Dar Sbihi. Expect mosaic-tile walls, cedar-wood doors painted in geometric designs and hand-carved archways. A central patio is surrounded by a gallery of arcades and it has a hammam and a swimming pool. See www.riaddarsbihi.com. Rates for rooms in the best riads start at around 100 euros (R980).
I am travelling through Buenos Aires in June and would like to find a reasonably priced hotel near the city centre. Could you also please help me with transport and sightseeing tips? - Gladys Smith
Accommodation is not cheap in Buenos Aires, but you can find discounted prices on a discount website such as www.hotels.com which you can adjust to give you room rates in rands. Among the hotels on offer are the two-star Hotel Astor (from R322), the three-star Ker Urquiza Hotel and Suites (R390) and the four-star Mansion Dandi Royal Tango Boutique Hotel (R406 per night).
A good upmarket choice is the five-star Claridge Hotel (from R1099 per night). Other upmarket choices are the Hilton Buenos Aires (R1013) and the Sheraton Libertador Hotel (R1111).
There are three airports in the city, but you will probably use the Ezeiza International Airport 35km from the centre. There are ordinary public bus services, but it is best to use a taxi or a chauffeur-driven car to take you to the hotel on arrival.
You can easily use the bus service within the city to get around. For sightseeing it is worth considering hiring a private tour guide from Buenos Tours ( www.buenostours.com), who offer English-speaking expat guides. They will draw up a programme based on your interests and can explain the nuances of the city's culture.
Places to visit include the National Museum (free entry), La Recoleta (the neighbourhood where Eva Peron is buried), the Teatro Colon opera house, the Puerto Madero riverfront area (a hip shopping and residential neighbourhood), El viejo Almacen (the city's most famous tango club) and the San Telmo flea market.
We are considering driving from Madrid Airport to Barcelona in July. Can you give us information on the distance, travelling time and a possible stopover to break the trip. - Sheldon Masters
The distance is 504km. The journey will take you around seven hours to complete, with Zaragoza being the usual midway stop between the two centres.
Most travellers prefer to take the train (3-4 hours, see www.seat61.com) or the short flight on this very busy route.