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Chill in This ‘Game of Thrones’ Ice Hotel

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Image credit: Lapland Hotels

Have watched Game of Thrones and wondered how cozy it would be to take a trip to the North in arctic temperatures? Wait no further, a new Game of Thrones themed hotel has opened in Kittilä, Finland.

You can now get the ultimate Westeros experience with the Lapland Hotels SnowVillage. Located in the resort of Kittilä, about 125 miles above the Arctic Circle and 90 minutes from Helsinki.

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Image credit: Lapland Hotels

With the help of professional ice sculptors from different parts of the world, the destination—made up of 24 rooms, 10 of which are for guests staying overnight—features an ice figure related to the popular TV show based on George R.R. Martin’s book series ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’.

Some attractions that can be spotted in the resort is the recreation of Braavos’ Hall of Faces and a replica of the Iron Throne, which is guarded by Gregor ‘The Mountain’ Clegane’. Some ice sculptures featured is a White Walker, complete with glowing blue eyes, and as well as a menacing dragon-shaped ice slide.

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Image credit: Lapland Hotels

Guests are also treated to a guided tour inside the SnowVillage, a buffet breakfast in the log restaurant and a diploma to commemorate your stay.

In addition to all the intricate sculptures and artworks, with the SnowVillage covering an area of 20,000 sqm, the ice hotel comes with a fully functioning bar, chapel, and a cinema.

With temperatures reaching at least -5C inside, suites are equipped with high-quality thermal sleeping bags to keep the guests warm. Despite this, guest are still advised to stay no longer than a night in the hotel due to the icy conditions. Guests who wish to stay longer around the SnowVillage are very much welcome to stay in the nearby log cabins.

Saving the Brown Tongue Path to Scafell Pike

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Every year, streams of humans flow continuously on the path of Brown Tongue, even at night. The route is walked on by 100,000 people every year, as it is the most direct way to the top of Scafell Pike, England’s highest mountain.

The impact of the tens of thousands of feet that have walked along the path for 30 years have made the work to control the erosion a never ending job. As a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds for the next phase of work enters its final stage, funding is still short of £17,000 from its target.

Path repairers are stressing the importance of the repairs of the paths so that it could preserve a large section in the middle of Brown Tongue for several more decades.

The crowdfunding effort is part of a larger year-long push to raise £100,000 for Scafell Pike as part of the Mend Our Mountains campaign, a UK-wide appeal led by the British Mountaineering Council. The council not only supports Fix the Fells alone, but it also has 13 similar campaigns and aims to raise £1M for path repairs in different locations.

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Brown Tongue is a route favoured by the Three Peaks Challenge participants, with most challengers tackling Scafell Pike in the dark, adding more pressure on the path. Brown Tongue is one of the most serious example of a problem often found in popular hill and mountains not just across Britain, but in the world.

If these worn out path ways were to be left alone, the erosion scars would grow bigger. It would wipe out vegetation, disturbing local habitats and hydrology, even destroying terrain features such as mountain tarns.

Maintenance for all the mountain paths in the Lake District and Fix the Fells, its costs an estimate of £500,000 a year. With similar organisations trying to do the same, maintaining the paths relies on fundraising to sustain its works.

Catch Up On Your Sleep in a Mobile Hotel Room at Unique Locations

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Image credit: Sleeperoo

Are you someone who’s always on the chase for novel experiences? You might be glad to hear that there is a mobile hotel room that offers overnight accommodation at unusual locations in Germany such as football stadiums, museums, churches and the great outdoors. Since its inauguration, some of the locations include a historic pier in the middle of the Baltic Sea, sleeping in the middle of a fruit tree forest and also an overnight stay in medieval castles.

This novel experience is brought to you by Sleeperoo, which is a sleep cube that stands separately for several months in an exclusive location in nature or perhaps at an exciting cultural spot. Guests can take this opportunity to immerse themselves in the atmosphere of the place. The whole idea of this is for guests to spend one night alone at a pop-up location of their choice listed on the website where they’ll be able to access an interactive map which provides descriptions of all the dates and locations that are available.

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Image credit: Sleeperoo

The Sleeperoo is equipped with a comfortable mattress that fits two adults, sheepskin rugs and pillows, and integrated LED lights. It is complete with three large panoramic windows that provide you with a view of your surroundings as well as the sky above you. Eco-friendly advocates should also be glad to know that the Sleeperoo cube is entirely made out of sustainable materials. In addition, there are snacks and drinks provided in a chillbox. Not to worry, the cube will be cleaned and the mattress will be covered with fresh linen in preparation for each stay. A toilet with washing facilities can also be found in the the immediate vicinity of the cube.

Visit Sleeperoo’s website for more information.

Have You Been to the Secret Town of Binn?

Switzerland is the place to be avid hikers and outdoor enthusiasts, may it be for its winter wonderland or its shining summer. The country has numerous hiking trails fitted for everyone, but located in the Upper Valais in southwest Switzerland, lies the beautiful yet little known Binntal or Binn Valley.

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Binn Valley is adorned by stunning natural beauty, amazing panoramas and ancient wooden villages filled with history and curious traditions. Before having a tunnel built in 1965, the valley and its villages were cut off from the rest of the world when winters arrives, having a unique feel of history and tradition that still sticks to today.

Many would consider Binn Valley to be too far and/or remote, but it is actually extremely easy and is a reasonable distance from the city. Binntal is only two hours away from the capital of Bern and can be accessed by most vehicles. If you still feel as though it might not be worth the travel, remember, you will be rewarded with some of the most jaw-dropping sceneries.

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Hidden behind towering walls of rock and a beautiful church, Binn seems like a secret. Guarded by the Binna river, the village is admired by its architecture, the picturesque stone bridge that dates back to 1564 and carved wooden masks that sport fierce expressions. The masks are hung up as a tradition of the Valais to ward off spirits. Binn Valley is also widely known for its mineral deposits, it is proclaimed to be one of the ten largest in the world.

Before the two-kilometer tunnel through the mountain was opened in 1965, Binn and Fäld was only accessible via a narrow road that faces along the Twingi gorge, which was extremely unsafe during the winter. This effectively closed off the villages from the outside world during winter, only having supplies be brought in by helicopter. But now with the tunnel providing a safer route for visitors, the old road is now used as a viewing platform for epic views that can be accessed by foot or bicycle.

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Ancient trade routes are are visible throughout the valley, such as the old Roman road. From the Binn village centre, there is a trail that is one the right side of the church that will lead you down through farmland and then to a small lake. The trail skirts the the lake which then turns into a 30-minutes flat walk along the gorge.

The hike gets a bit more challenging as there is a descent on a rugged trail. There is a part of a trail that is an old pilgrimage route to a church in Heiligkreuz, it is a 6.2km loop that takes about two to three hours. Binntal has a variety of hiking trails, like the trail to Imfeld (Fäld) that is deeply tucked into the valley and various alternative trails you can take to go back and forth the Binn valley.

You Can Now Enjoy the Alps’ Autumn Foliage Onboard a Train

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It’s Autumn again and you’ll be thrilled to know that spectacular foliage views can be expected everywhere in the Northern hemisphere. Enjoy some amazing views in Europe onboard a train ride and witness the colourful change of leaves come October.

The Vigezzina-Centovalli railway is a historical track in the Piedmontese Alps of Italy and brings you across to Switzerland. A Foliage Train has been organised, looking to provide guests with an opportunity to admire the beauty of the fall foliage via a slow-paced train ride from Italy’s Domodossola in the Alps to the Swiss city of Locarno on Lake Maggiore.

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This Foliage Train will bring you across 52 kilometres of journeys crossing 82 bridges along the way from Italy to Switzerland and back again. Passenger can choose to hop on at either side and also choose take a stop during the ride either in the Italian Vigezzo Valley or Centovalli in Switzerland.

Stops are made in historical villages such as Santa Maria Maggiore and Malesco, Villette, Re and Intragna just to name a few. Each of the historical villages house their own museums, sanctuaries and not forgetting a gourmet selection of fine food to accompany you while you enjoy the fall foliage of the Alps.

The trains will be running from 13th October all the way till 4th November. It is recommended that you book your tickets in advance as well as your intended stops. This is because buying a ticket might grant you some discounts and free gifts in each of the towns mapped on the Foliage Train’s route.

You can visit the railway’s official website for more information.

You Can Now Spend a Night at Oscar Wilde’s Former Pied-a-terre

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Image credit: Belmond Cadogan Hotel

Famous poet and playwright, Oscar Wilde once quoted “One should either be a work of art, or wear a work of art.” And now, you will soon be able to stay in one.

After four years and $48 million, the writer’s former pied-a-terre will reopen in December as the Belmond Cadogan Hotel after much of renovations.

The hotel holds is an integral location in Oscar Wilde’s life and in history. After losing a libel case against the Marquess of Queensberry, Wilde was arrested at the hotel on 1895. He even wrote a poem entitled, ‘The Arrest of Oscar Wilde at the Cadogan Hotel’, which states the entire ordeal.

Other than being a major historical importance to the literary and LGBTQ community—Wilde was arrested over homosexuality, a crime in England during his time—the hotel is looking to become a destination for several other reasons.

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Image credit: Belmond Cadogan Hotel

Despite going through several renovations, the hotel has preserved many of the original designs from the 1800s. Such as wood panelling, stained glass windows and even working fireplaces. The hotel has 57 rooms available for guests, all decorated with hints of modern and historic aesthetic that anyone would enjoy.

Other than the superb architecture, the hotel also has several other new dining options available inside the hotel. From tea lounges, terrace café to a classic British bar. The main restaurant, directed by Adam Handling, will be offering a menu filled with sustainable and contemporary British fare.

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Image credit: Belmond Cadogan Hotel

Every morning, pastries, croissants, bread and crumpets is delivered to guest rooms for breakfast. Guests can also spend their time in the private gardens or the hotel tennis courts.

If you wish to stay in the hotel, take a travel trip from ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ writer. In his playwright of ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’, one of the characters made a remark, saying he never travels without his diary.

5 Things to Do in Switzerland

As one of the most developed countries in the world, Switzerland takes the top few ranks in terms of quality of life, economic competitiveness and human development. That aside, this amazing country is also home to ravishing landscapes — perfect for once-in-a-lifetime trips be it Alpine skiing, hiking or mountain biking around glacier-encrusted mountain areas.

Find yourselves scaling down world famous peaks and getting lost in contemporary culture as you embark on your Switzerland adventure. Check out 5 of our favourites to get started:

1. Admire the Majestic Matterhorn

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What’s Switzerland without skiing? Visit the skit resort in Zermatt, and you will find yourselves gliding down top-class slopes that are complemented with majestic views of the iconic, tooth-shaped Matterhorn.

If you’re not so much of an adrenaline junkie, there are other ways for you to admire the Matterhorn. You can make your way to the summit of the Rothorn via a short half hour cable car journey away from Zermatt. Be sure to enjoy the spectacular panoramic vista of the surrounding mountains along the way.

2. Cruise Along the GoldenPass Line

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Image credit: Kabelleger

The GoldenPass Line is known to be a scenic route through Switzerland offering the opportunity to catch a glimpse of some of the country’s best scenery. You’ll be travelling from Lucerne to Montreux (or vice versa) over a five and a half hours long journey. During the ride, you’ll be passing through six Swiss cantons via three mountain passes. Enjoy the view of mesmerising landscapes along the way and feast your eyes on lakes, waterfalls and valleys that are complete with Swiss chalets.

As the GoldenPass is not a direct line, do take note that you have to switch trains in Interlaken and Zweisimmen. Here’s a tip — pack extra batteries for the road as you wouldn’t want to miss any photograph opportunities along the way.

3. Explore Swiss National Park

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Image credit: Hansueli Krapf

The Swiss National Park happens to be the Alps’ oldest park. Founded in 1914, it is located in the canton of Graubünden in eastern Switzerland. The park covers over 170 square kilometres, with 80 kilometres of it dedicated to hiking trails that bring you closer to nature.

While you’re on the trails, keep a lookout for the park’s residents  — the ibexes, chamois, marmots, golden eagles and bearded cultures.

As part of conservation efforts, visitors are forbidden to leave the trails so as to preserve the natural state of the national park as much as possible.

4. Hike in the Alps

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Hiking in Switzerland is without a doubt an unforgettable experience. Decked out with impressive trails, dramatic mountain peaks and quiet, off the beaten path valleys to explore, Switzerland is packed with surprises.You’ll be able to hike relatively easily thanks to clearly signposted pathways. Plus, there are numerous lifts and buses in the ski resort areas which helps you to navigate the area.

To better acquaint yourselves with the hiking trails, you can equip your smartphones with an app that consists of routes for the 32 hikes around Switzerland.

5. Learn About Cheese-Making in Gruyères

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Image credit: PerSona77

Who doesn’t love cheese? Be it melted cheese in a fondue, raclette cheese or raw cheese, Switzerland promises to never disappoint. Le Gruyère can be said to be the most popular and most famous of all Swiss cheeses. When you visit the medieval town of Gruyères, you can discover the art of cheese-making in La Maison du Gruyère. Plus, you can even try some of the cheese for yourselves.

Apart from the sensational cheeses, the town’s cobbled streets are beautiful to explore. Take some time to check out the traditional meringue and rich Gruyère cream, which is also a speciality of the region.

How About Staying In An Indoor Caravan For Your Next trip?

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Image credit: Hüttenpalast

You don’t have to always drag a caravan behind your car and pitch up to campsites for the night. There’s now a caravan hotel in Berlin that allows you to stay in a caravan all the same, but without the hassle of travelling around with it.

Hüttenpalast, situated in the Neukölln district of Berlin, happens to be an indoor caravan park. Home to eight vibrant and eye-catching caravans, you can rent these caravans to spend the night. Hüttenpalast was founded by Silke Lorenzen and Sarah Vollmer after realising that the neighbourhood lacked a suitable place for visiting family and friends to stay overnight.

The building which houses the caravans was actually a former vacuum cleaner factory.

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Image credit: Hüttenpalast

Each of the eight caravans have been designed and crafted by a different designer and is up for rental from £70 (~US$82) a night. It’s not that much of a difference when you compare it to general camping as you’ll be using shared bathrooms. The only difference is that you won’t have to find yourselves in situations where you walk across a field in the dark to nearby facilities.

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Image credit: Hüttenpalast

As the on-site caravans are not soundproof, guests should be mindful about their noise levels and remain respectful to their fellow neighbours. Stay connected with the availability of Wi-Fi and meet your fellow campers at the two communal gardens at the back fo the halls. Plus, you’ll be able to fill your tummies with a sumptuous breakfast buffet served each morning.

If you’re not so much into caravans, there are six traditional hotel rooms available with ensuite bathrooms. Additionally, you can also choose from three wooden huts to retire for the night. If you’re travelling in a big group, you can choose to rent out one of the three halls that can accommodate up to 14 people.

You can visit Hüttenpalast’s website for more information.

The Quaint City-State, San Marino

One of the smallest countries in Europe is growing in popularity faster than any other country on the continent. San Marino, a 24 square-mile country, is getting lots of attention from tourists all over and has become Europe’s fastest growing destination last year.

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Image credit: Max_Ryazanov

From 2016 to 2017, San Marino’s tourism grew more than 30%, more than 78,000 people visited the country last year. That may not look impressive, but given that the country only has a population of about 33,500, it is a big number. The number of tourists that visited San Marino last year is almost double the number of people that actually live there!

Though in the last few years, San Marino was reported to be the least visited place in Europe. But, as it gets known by other people, tourism in San Marino is slowly soaring up everyone’s travel list’s.

Located inside north-eastern Italy, about a three-hour drive from Florence, San Marino is the fifth smallest country in the world. Despite this, the country has lots to offer to entertain visitors.

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If you are a history buff, San Marino might be your perfect cup of tea. It is the last independently-governed city-state in Italy, hence, it is full of fascinating history waiting to be discovered. In fact, the San Marino Historic Centre and Mount Titano is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

One of the nation’s main draws is the well preserved medieval architecture. Some of the building around the town dates back to the 11th century, wandering around the old walled city and its several palazzos will surely take you to another era.

Meet Europe’s Fastest Growing Tourist Destination

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It doesn’t matter if your country’s big or small when it comes to tourism. One of Europe’s smallest countries is experience a growth in tourism numbers way faster than any other location on the continent.

With reference to the data provided by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), San Marino has become Europe’s fastest growing destination as of last year.

San Marino, which only measures 24-square-mile in size, saw a 31.1% growth in tourism from 2016 to 2017, with more than 78,000 travellers visiting the country last year. Before you decide that the numbers does not seem to impress you, you should know that the country only has a population of approximately 33,500. To put things into perspective, more than twice as many people visited San Marino last year compared to the residents living there.

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San Marino is located within northeast Italy, and you’ll be able to arrive there after a three-hour drive from Florence. Although it’s the fifth smallest country in the world, there’s still lots of activities in store for you which promises to keep you entertained. You should also know that it is the last remaining independently-governed city-state in Italy and history buffs will enjoy themselves there as they explore the country’s fascinating history. The historic centre of San Marino is also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The nation has a well-preserved collection of medieval architecture, with some citadels dating as far back as to the 11th century.

Just a heads up if you’re intending to visit San Marino, do remember to act on it quickly as it’ll probably get more and more tourists with its rising popularity.