Our Middle East travel blog

Hot Off The Press

The thrill of the new. Nothing quite beats notching up a new destination or experience on the bedpost of life and, here at Original Travel, we're only too happy to help out by keeping you up to date with what's happening in the travel world. And we're in for an Autumn of new beginnings, with several hotels from some of our favourite groups opening around the globe. So if you want to not only keep up with the Joneses but surpass them entirely, here's where you should be heading to next…

Delightful Dunks

You know you're officially on holiday when you dive head first (or climb gracefully, or bomb, you get the picture) in to the cool, refreshing water of the hotel's swimming pool. And we're not talking about any old 25m situation, we're talking infinity pools with beautiful views, romantic private plunge pools and child-friendly pools to keep the little monsters busy for hours. So without further ado, here are seven of our favourite hotel swimming pools around the world...

Five of the Best: Spring Breaks

Let me take you back to where it all began for Original Travel, not with the US phenomenon of a week of wild partying during 'Spring Break' (although I can neither confirm nor deny that kind of behaviour), but with the Big Short Break. Pocket-sized adventures for those who are short on time but in search of a big experience because there's a whole world of, well, world out there just waiting to be explored in easily digestible, bite-sized time slots. And luckily, there are two such bite-sized time slots approaching in the form of the May Bank Holidays. How convenient. So here are a few of our favourite Big Short Break destinations this May...

Six of the Best: Tented Camps

Camping: one of the most divisive words in the travel lexicon. So often associated with cramped tents, dodgy Trangias and the vague whiff of wet dog. The irony is that some of the most luxurious and unique hotels in the world are tented camps; think large canopies, quirky furniture, spacious rooms and, most importantly, excellent service. So in the interest of myth-busting we've canvassed (see what we did there?) the Original Travel experts and come up with six of our very favourite tented camps around the world...

What's Hot Right Now

January is a month generally associated with New Year blues, dark days and distinctly British weather. That is to say it's not necessarily a favourite. In fact one of the only things it is good for is planning your getaways for the year ahead, and that's where we come in. Whether it's finding a perfectly secluded beach to relax on, tracking game with bushmen in the Kalahari or learning to mix the perfect caipirinha at a Brazilian beach bar, our team of experts is on hand to create your perfect holiday. And our first mission of the year is to bring you a collection of the hottest destinations for 2016 - the temperatures will be peachy and availability is going like hotcakes so it's time to get the diary out and start planning!

Festive Forays

Talk of Christmas already?! Well, it is just 91 short days away. That's a mere 2184 hours to go before we all start gleefully ripping open our presents, over-indulging on the turkey (and possibly the bubbly) and falling asleep in front of the telly, paper crown on head and drooling on our Christmas jumpers. It's enough to make anyone feel fantastically festive, no?

Return to Iran

With all the recent news surrounding the détente between the west and Iran, and the downgrading of Foreign Office Advice, I am chomping at the bit to get back out there…And excited to be offering two small group tours to the country in Spring and Autumn 2016. These will be small groups - so that we can stay in the smaller, more charming hotels (of which there are very few), visit the lesser known sites, and greedily accept any home visit invitation proffered to us - if only to sample the delicious Iranian fare which the country is so well known for.

Where You've Been in 2015

As your travel guardian angels we often write about and share our experiences of the destinations we've been lucky enough to visit, but enough about us, let's talk about you. Let's talk about the amazing places and experiences we've organised for our lovely clients this year. We're talking intrepid honeymoons, adventurous sabbaticals, secret beach breaks, fun-filled family getaways, cultural escapades and much, much more. We've sent people to over 100 countries so far this year (102, to be precise) and here are just a few of our favourites...

Our Top 10 New Year Holidays and Getaways

Between Aunt Marg's stuffy New Year's Eve party and getting stuck in hours of traffic, New Year's Eve is normally a painful ordeal. As a result, all those classic 'Bridget Jones' resolutions seem to go out the window in the early hours of the 1st January. We, at Original Travel, think that New Year's Eve should be spent revelling in all those things you intend to give up the next day. Why not escape that dreaded New Year's party, the never-ending pile of Christmas thank you letters needing to be written and the turkey you have been living off for days, and jet off to somewhere a little further from home. These are our top 10 best places to be for New Year's Eve...

Our Top Ten Honeymoon Hotels

Everybody loves a list, and anyone planning a honeymoon needs this particular one in their life. After much deliberation the team at Original Travel have come up with their Top 10 Honeymoon Hotels from around the world. Editing the list down to a mere ten proved mighty difficult, and more than a little contentious, but we like a challenge, so here goes with the finest post-wedding wonders…

The Best Family Holidays

From adventurous safaris and relaxing in the sun to fun in the snow and exciting city breaks, here are, in our opinion, the best family holidays.

Dubai: Why Go?

I have been to lots of places in my life, and have a list ten times that of places I want to go. The more I work in travel, the more places get added to that list. But never Dubai. For some, Dubai is the cognoscenti's James Blunt. The place you feel clever not to like. Shallow, fake, geared to hedonism and lacking in taste, culture, history depth (Dubai, not James Blunt).

Best Places to Watch the Sunrise

Seize the day! The early bird catches the worm!.. you get the picture, and if you can drag yourself from peaceful slumber, here's our top 5 places around the world to watch the sunrise.

Our Little Black Book of Travel

Percy Shelley once wrote "Soul meets soul on lovers' lips." However, at Original Travel we like to think that soul meets soul on a far flung holiday... Spring is in the air and we've cast our favourite romantic holidays as characters in our very own Little Black Book. Don Juan, this one's for you! Here are our Top Five romantic destinations for 2014.

Discovering Dubai

After having my reservations about the place - I was pleasantly impressed with what Dubai has to offer.

Fourteen destinations for 2014

14 for '14? Sounds like a set of Mitchell Johnson's bowling figures from the recent Ashes debacle (one for the chaps there) but on this occasion referring to our predictions for the 14 destinations that are going to be big news in 2014.

A short break in Israel

How many countries in the world offer deserts, vibrant cities, beaches, archaeological and biblical sites - all within such short distances from each other? We reveal why Israel makes for a great short break destination...

Exclusive Winter Sun Offers

So far so mild, but you just know that a good (c)old British winter is coming down the line, and when it does, you want to make sure you're as far from it as possible. Oh, and ideally staying somewhere with a juicy special offer. As luck would have it, here are a few of our latest, exclusive autumn/winter sun offers.

Loafing Abroad: The Best Luxury Hotels in the World

In ten years of owning a travel company I've found that clients fall into two very distinct camps. For some, the hotel is a mere utility - a roof over their heads at night while they pack endless activities into busy daytime schedules. For others, it's only about the hotel, and the thought of actually doing anything brings them out in a cold sweat that can only be remedied by another chilled glass of rosé. I know which camp I'm in, and after years swanning around the world staying in fabulous hotels and lodges (all in the interests of research, you understand), here's my list of the loafiest best luxury hotels in the world.

October Half Term Holidays

October half term is a fantastic time to get away with the family and catch some last minute sun before winter sets in. Here are our top luxury October half term holiday destinations, guaranteed to amaze you and your family and take your minds well and truly off the stresses at home…

Summer Honeymoon Destinations

There are a whole plethora of places to jet off to once you've tied the knot and here are just a few of OT's top places to escape to in the summer season...

Affordable Luxury Holidays

Didn't think it was possible to do a luxury holiday in an affordable price bracket? Think again. These are our favourite exclusive holidays that don't come at eyewateringly exclusive prices...

Room with a View Favourites

These are ten of our all-time favourite rooms with views that we will never tire of! How do you like your views? From sunrises over deep gorges and flat plateaus, to long drawn-out sunsets casting long shadows along the beach, often the most memorable aspects of travelling are the views. Whether you're staying in valleys or on mountains, near volcanoes or cliffs, inland or by the sea, there are hotels with just about every imaginable view possible. These are ten of our room with a view favourites that we will never tire of!

Relaxing Holidays: Fly and Flop

If day-to-day life is a whirlwind of chaos, long hours at work and too little sleep, you'd be forgiven for wanting to do absolutely nothing when on holiday.

The Best Places to Get Lost and Try Something Different

From remote wildernesses to hectic metropolises, often one of the greatest experiences to have whilst travelling is to lose all sense of time and direction and get thoroughly caught up in your new surroundings. Enter one of our areas of expertise - unique holidays - and some of our absolute favourite places to get lost and try something different…

10 Best Big Short Breaks

Way back in the mists of time, or on January 17th 2003 to be exact, Original Travel launched on an unsuspecting world with its natty new concept, the Big Short Break. The portfolio of trips were designed to provide what A A Gill called an 'espresso break' - a short, sharp hit of travel that provided a change of scene and mental refreshment. Minimum time, maximum experience, basically. The Big Short Break concept has gone on to win us multiple awards, and the trips have remained remarkably similar over the intervening decade. On that note, here are our 10 best big short breaks (see what we've done there?).

Oman Camping and Mountain Trekking in the Desert

The English explorer Wilfred Thesiger spent the best part of six years living with Bedouin tribesmen in the Empty Quarter in modern day Oman. If he was alive today, I'd be hugely tempted to suggest going back to the place he loved so much. I know he'd be relieved to find that the beautiful Empty Quarter, the largest sand sea in the world and home to dunes well over one hundred metres tall, is still as untouched and staggeringly beautiful as before.

Spotlight on Jordan: Lawrence of Arabia turns 50

It is the 50th Anniversary of the epic classic Lawrence of Arabia. I remember first watching it and it was quite a defining moment; the desert, the stars, the epic horse and camel battles. It was also thanks to Lawrence that I was initially persuaded to visit Jordan.

My Favourite Place: Abu Dhabi

Luxury holidays to Abu Dhabi aren't often an obvious choice, as the country isn't a particularly well known destination. After a recent visit, part of me wants to keep it that way and not let it get too busy - but then I wouldn't want to be selfish…

Top 5 Toddler Holidays For Your Little Terrors!

Lydia Gard is a freelance writer specialising in luxury family travel, since having two boys she is determined to find truly luxurious places that celebrate rather than simply tolerate young families. In her first of 6 blogs Lydia talks us through the her top 5 toddler holidays...

The Best Cities in the World

As well as great loves, scandals and tragedies, the cities that set the scene in literature often tell their own story. They also make amazing starting points for the holiday of a lifetime. From the romance of St. Petersburg to the magic of Uttar Pradesh, here are our best cities in the world…

80 Senses: #54 - Paragliding into Six Senses Zighy Bay

What a way to arrive. Competition in the hotel business is cut-throat, and properties are coming up with ever more outlandish ways to earn a few lines of coverage in the press or to generate conversation. The Maldives has gone with the whole underwater theme - first there was the underwater spa, the first underwater restaurant, and now an underwater club is coming soon.

80 Senses: #22 - Beirut Nightlife

The Lebanese know how to party. Understandable, really, as a reaction to their traumatic recent history, and Beirut nightlife can be a wonderful antidote to the doom and gloom back here in Blighty because the locals still party like it's 2008.

80 Senses: #9 - Libya

We look forward to sending people back to Libya. In time.After a year of turmoil in North Africa and the Middle East, the dust seems finally to be settling. The deeply unpleasant Syrian dictator Bashar Assad is still - at time of writing - clinging to power with increasingly bloodstained fingers, but most of the countries that experienced an Arab Spring have reached their denouement.

New Destinations: Should I Stay Or Should I Go Now?

Those famous philosophers The Clash inadvertently put a modern moral dilemma in a punk nutshell - should we really travel to countries ruled by dubious regimes? Well, in some cases the answer is a categoric and resounding no (who'd want to go to France, anyway?), but for most of these destinations the situation is a little less black and white. Consider the following new destinations you could experience.

I can't imagine that I could have enjoyed any better service from any other individual

Nancy

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