Jul
26
2017

5 step guide to a Melbourne city escape between Christmas and New Year

By Melbourne / Victoria /

It’s a long way off but there’s a certain time of year the rest of the human race are either snoozing or have escaped to somewhere else when it comes to Melbourne city and inner city ‘burbs. With Christmas and Boxing Day out of the way and many catching their breath before New Year’s suddenly arrives, Melbourne’s a little sleepy and there are some great hotel deals on offer if you’re looking for a quick getaway.

For a two night, three day stay and play in the big smoke, here are five suggestions for a great Melbourne short stay in 12 months time. The biggest tip of all is you have to be organised so get that calendar ready with reminders.

Flights … the gang at skyscanner recently revealed some observations about the best time to buy flights for Christmas/New Year’s. According to Skyscanner’s research, the best time to buy a Christmas flight is during the week of November 21 for an average savings of more than 6%. Get on the newsletter mailouts, too, for the sales.

Wheels …  Goes without saying you need to click through to the DriveNow Melbourne airport car rental deals at any time of the year. For a three day rental you could be looking at anywhere from $150-$200+ all up depending on your choice of car and size. Will you need a car for the quick-fire getaway? Yes, though you won’t need to be in it often, but it will definitely come in handy for those little trips a few kilometres away during the day – if you choose to venture that far.

Bed … Come December the deals start hatching as distressed inventory (aka rooms that need to be booked) are on offer. We chose the delightful Melbourne Parkview Hotel in Albert Park, on St Kilda Rd. Sniff out deals closer to the date, but some rippers come with breakfast for two and free parking. Better still, everything’s within walking distance, including Albert Park Lake for a morning stroll (about 5km), Commercial Road and Chapel Street buzz, restaurants along St Kilda Road and more.

R&R … Literally 15 minutes by foot along St Kilda Rd from your hotel you will discover a treat for the senses at Leelawadee Thai Massage & Skin Care. We booked a double one-hour Thai massage in the same room mid-afternoon, allowed little feet trodding along the body for a few minutes before sinking into a luxurious and relaxing massage for $130 all up! Awesome value. While a little jelly like we skipped across the road to stylish cocktail bar The Amberoom for a jug of water and a cocktail.

Feast … Say hello to Roxborough Bar and Kitchen in Acland Street, St Kilda, as recommended by good friend and Chin Chin executive chef extraordinaire Benjamin Cooper. It’s a decent 15 minute walk from the hotel or a 5 minute $10-15 taxi. This little gem is making waves on the Melbourne food scene with its spacious open vibe, cleanliness and immaculate service in such an intimate setting (yep, it’s cosy, but it works). The food is scrumptious: snacks like Bruny Island oysters, Jamon and manchego croquetas, lime cured watermelon with goats curd and basil. Entrees to share that jump off the menu include Pippies and clams with smoked pork hock, broad beans and parsely, or how about Chargrilled Queensland king prawns, with garlic and smoked paprika butter. Sumptuous mains that hit the spot are Chargrilled 400g pasture fed Gippsland Entrecote on the bone with bone marrow butter, roasted spring garlic, silver beet puree, or Twice cooked Milawa half free range chicken diavolo with a spring pea and tarragon chicken jus. This place rocks.

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Jul
24
2017

The best of Birmingham in the English summer

By UK /

English summer in Birmingham is absolutely glorious. The city in West Midlands is one of the greenest in all of England, with more than 3,000 hectares of green park spaces. It also has more kilometres of canals than Venice! There’s also plenty of activities to keep you busy in Birmingham during the summer months.

Snap up one of DriveNow’s great car hire deals at Birmingham Airport and add these ideas to your bucket list.

Aston Hall

Aston Hall is one of the last great architectural masterpieces from the Jacobean era. This seventeenth century red-brick mansion overlooks a gorgeous public park. Step back in time by joining a guided tour, who explains Aston Hall’s history as you walk through the detailed interiors. Learn about those who lived here and the 1637 government attack on these walls. If you want to relax and admire the site’s beauty in peace, take a stroll in Lady Holte’s Garden.

Kingsbury Water Park

Drive half an hour North East from Birmingham and you’ll find yourself at one of the region’s most exciting destinations. It boasts 15 lakes across nearly 250 hectares of parkland. You can go for a quiet stroll or along the paths, go bird watching, or take the kids on a donkey ride. There’s even a mini railway that takes you through this breathtaking landscape. There’s something for everyone at Kingsbury Water Park.

Summer Market

The Birmingham Seasonal Markets put the city’s best food, drink, arts and music on show. Birmingham’s Summer Market is held at The Bond at Digbeth, which is one of the city’s creative hubs. For one day each summer you can enjoy a family day out where you can pick up unique, hand-crafted clothes and crafts. It’s also a great place to find delicious street food and beer. You’ll be spoiled for choice!

Mostly Jazz, Funk and Soul Festival

Moseley’s famous festival attractions thousands of people every summer. Why not be part of all the fun? The Mostly Jazz, Funk and Soul Festival brings some of the world’s best musicians right to south Birmingham’s doorstep. Throw on your dancing shoes as you move to blues, funk, soul and jazz at the gorgeous Moseley Park.

Jul
20
2017

Monkey mayhem at Stoke on Trent: 5 things to do

By UK /

Stoke on Trent is one of Staffordshire’s most charming cities. It’s home to England’s pottery industry. People even famously refer to the area as ‘The Potteries’. But there’s more to Stoke on Trent than meets the eye. It’s a place full of many. Hire a car from Stoke on Trent and tick off these five things to do.

Visit the Trentham Monkey Forest

The Monkey Forest at the Trentham Estate is one of the most charming places you’ll ever visit. Walk along a path to see them swinging in the trees and interacting with each other. You’ll be able to get up close and personal with more than 140 Barbary macaques from Algeria and Morocco.

Admire Trentham Gardens

While your at Trentham make sure you also put aside the time to visit the glorious Trentham Gardens. It doesn’t matter what time of year you visit the gardens, you’ll find an intriguing landscape. Admire the Trentham Lake as you take a quiet stroll along the lakeside walk. There’s also exciting activities for kids at the children’s adventure playground, like sand pits, a zip wire and a maze.

Have fun at Alton Towers Resort

Nemesis and Galactica are some of the thrilling rollercoasters that you can hitch a ride on at this world-famous theme park. Alton Towers also has plenty of other rides that are suitable for people who aren’t chasing such an adrenaline rush. There’s plenty of options for kids too, like Nina’s Science Lab and the In the Night Garden’s magical boat ride.

Discover the Gladstone Pottery Museum

Here you’ll find one museum that shares the complete history of The Potteries. Stoke-on-Trent has become famous around the world for its pottery.  Therefore, a visit to the Gladstone Pottery Museum should be high on your priority list. Visit the workshops, watch daily demonstrations and let a guide describe the industry’s significance to the city. You can even buy some souvenirs at the end.

Step back in time at Ford Green Hall

It was home to the Ford Family for nearly two centuries. Today, you can still walk through the furnished rooms which feature old textiles and ceramics. The historic farmhouse museum takes visitors back to the 17th century and gives an interesting insight to life during this time. The award-winning museum is open Monday to Thursday from 1-4pm.

Jul
18
2017

The best luxury hotels in Adelaide and surrounds

By Australia / South Australia /

There are many incredible luxury hotels in South Australia. Whether you want to explore Adelaide city, venture to the Barossa Valley or witness the natural beauty of the Flinders Ranges, we have you covered for where to stay.

First, snap up one of DriveNow’s cheap car hire deals from Adelaide. Then take your pick from one of these five luxury hotels…

The Playford Adelaide

In the heart of Adelaide’s rich cultural precinct is The Playford. It’s one of Australia’s most awarded boutique luxury hotels. If you’re looking for a truly relaxing getaway then we recommend booking one of the Studio Spa Suites. It has everything you could ever dream of and more, including a lounge area and a walk-in marble ensuite. All while you have the city’s arts, cultural and entertainment hotspot right on your doorstep.

The Mayfair Adelaide

Stay in a stunning heritage-listed building that’s right across the road from Rundle Mall, which is Adelaide’s most popular shopping strip. It has 170 rooms and suites which feature modern amenities and luxurious extras. The venue boasts a gym, business centre and function rooms. You can also experience innovative food and wine at the Mayflower Restaurant, or you can check out the rooftop bar, Hennessy.

The Louise (pictured)

Drive just 45 minutes from Adelaide and you’ll reach The Louise in the beautiful Barossa Valley. Enjoy your very own private terrace along with a spacious ensuite at this gorgeous retreat. You’re surrounded by a picturesque vineyard in a tranquil part of the Barossa Valley – that is, the old German town of Marananga.

Southern Ocean Lodge

Take the ferry to reach the pristine Kangaroo Island, where one of the most beautiful lodges in Australia awaits. You’ll stay on a secluded cliff with incredible views of rugged coastline. You’ll soak up luxury and comfort as you explore the natural island, which is often referred to as Australia’s very own Galapagos. Stay here just a few nights and it’ll be difficult to leave.

Ikara Safari Camp

Do you want a luxurious experience with a difference? Then look no further than the award-winning Ikara Safari Camp. It’s far from your ordinary camping experience. Instead, you get to go ‘glamping’ with a luxury safari tent in the highest point of the beautiful Flinders Ranges. You’ll have your own private verandah where you can sip on some wine in the evenings. There’s also plush, king size beds, air-con and beautiful furnishings. Wake up every morning to your hosts serving you a delicious hot breakfast.

Jul
15
2017

Dallas activities you must experience in Texas

By Texas / United States /

There are plenty of Dallas activities suitable for all travellers. This city continues to amaze millions of tourists every year. The stadiums, the museums, the food portions in the restaurants – everything is so big! If you’re heading to the deep south, make sure you find yourself a great car hire deal before checking out some of the best Dallas activities on offer.

Join a JKF history tour

One of the must-do Dallas activities is a history tour that’s all about one of US history’s most famous presidents, John F Kennedy. Dealey Plaza is perhaps the most famous site, as it’s where he was shot dead in 1963. There are other significant sites as well, such as the theatre where assassin Lee Harvey Oswald fled to after the shooting. Hire a local guide who can fill you in on the grim but fascinating history.

Dig in with a food tour

Explore some of the most trendy restaurants and bars that Dallas has to offer. The Dallas Uptown Food Tour is one of the stand outs. It takes you to the trendy West Village, before you venture on foot to off-the-beaten-path eateries. Other tours take you to chocolatiers, wineries or popular eateries that serve up a traditional Texas BBQ. It’s just a matter of hopping online and seeing what type of food tour suits your taste buds!

Saddle up at Texas Horse Park

This will probably be one of the best Dallas activities for travelling families. You’ll find yourself in the heart of the Great Trinity Forest where people of all ages can get a taste of Texas ranching. Learn the basics of  horse riding on more than 300 acres of natural forest landscape. The great thing about this destination too is that it’s only minutes from Downtown Dallas.

See the Dallas Cowboys in action

In Dallas, footy isn’t just a game or entertainment. It’s almost a religion within itself. If you want a true Dallas experience, then make sure you visit the city during footy season to catch hometown heroes the Dallas Cowboys in action. The team’s home ground, the AT&T Stadium, is just a 20 minute drive from the city centre. It’s a modern jewel with one of the world’s largest scoreboards and luxurious suites.

Jul
10
2017

Great Victorian Campervan Adventures Within Two Hours of Melbourne 

By Australia / Victoria /

Victorian campervan adventures are some of the best in the whole of Australia. Whether you want to explore the stunning coast, inland lakes or historic cities, Victoria has it all. You just need to hire a campervan from Melbourne. Then you can truly get started on one of these Victorian campervan adventures.

Blairgowrie

It would be difficult to find anywhere quite like Blairgowrie. It’s one of the most simple but charming seaside locations in all of Victoria, especially in summer when the light brings out the ocean’s gorgeous blue. The beach is family friendly and you only need to drive for an hour and a half from Melbourne.

Ballarat

Ballarat, north west of Melbourne, is one of a kind. Sovereign Hill is the city’s most famous attraction. Go panning for real gold and learn about the hardships that migrants faced as they sought fortune during the 1850s Gold Rush. If you enjoy bushwalking, the Grampians National Park is nearby.

Macedon Ranges

This is a great place to visit in autumn when the leaves turn different shades of red and gold. You could easily eat and drink your way across this part of central Victoria. There’s a seemingly endless choice of venues to sample gourmet food and wine. You may choose to relax at a spa or have a picnic in one of the beautiful public gardens scattered across the region. The choice is yours!

Lorne

Planning a visit to the Great Ocean Road? Look no further than Lorne. It’s a great location to base yourself as you travel up and down the coast visiting iconic attractions like the Twelve Apostles and Port Fairy. Lorne is also an easy one hour drive from Melbourne. In the summer, the patrolled surf beach is a great place to spend time with the family.

Jul
08
2017

5 Great Campervan Adventures near Sydney

By Australia / New South Wales /

Are you looking for an incredible Sydney campervan hire deal to get your family holiday started? Hitting the road with a campervan is one of the most affordable travel options for families. The best part is you don’t even have to drive very far to unlock some of the most exciting destinations in New South Wales.

Look no further than DriveNow for the best Sydney campervan hire options.

Here are five places you should visit.

Port Stephens

Two hours north of Sydney and you’ll reach Port Stephens. It’s one of the most famous holiday spots in New South Wales. In a location that’s home to more than 150 bottle nose dolphins, why not take a dolphin spotting cruise? You can go whale watching and also enjoy some fabulous surf beaches. There’s also the thrilling quad bike tours on sand dunes for adventure lovers.

Forster

The gorgeous seaside town of Forster is a sight you’ll never forget. If you enjoy bushwalking, then Booti Booti National Park is the place for you to explore. It covers eight hectares of scenic bushland, sandy beaches and rainforest. At the northern end of the park is Cape Hawke Lookout with 360 degree views. It’s only a three and a half hour drive north of Sydney.

Cessnock

This is the perfect destination for anyone who wants an enjoyable but simple holiday. Cessnock is surrounded by the Hunter Valley’s popular wineries. You may decide to spend your day relaxing on a golf course, or take the kids to feed kangaroos at the Hunter Valley Zoo. All this is just less than two hours south west of Sydney.

Katoomba

Katoomba is one of the best places to park your campervan if you want to explore the Blue Mountains. You could keep yourself busy for days in this scenic town. Not far away you can admire the Three Sisters, or pay a visit to Wentworth Falls. An hour and a half west of Sydney and you’ll also find cave tours and plenty of bushwalks.

Bathurst

Venture less than three hours west of Sydney and you’ll find a gem of a holiday destination. The Mount Panorama Circuit plays host to the Bathurst 1000 race every October. But don’t worry… if you’re not a revhead then there’s plenty to do for the rest of the year when the crowds aren’t around. For example, there’s the Abercrombie Caves, fishing tours, wineries and heritage tours through the city.