Weekend breaks

Forget Amsterdam – spend a weekend in the Hague

I love Amsterdam. I go every year for the galleries, the opera, the beer, the genever, the rijsttaffel, the brown cafés and, well, the fun. I’ve had many a fine time there, sometimes with and sometimes without dear Mrs Ray. It’s a top place.  I was cut to the quick, then, on hearing recently that the good burghers of Amsterdam had asked any British tourists in search of a ‘messy night’ to stay away. Admittedly, this controversial campaign is aimed chiefly at 18- to 35-year-olds on stag parties, rather than senior railcard-holders like me. But any drunk and disorderly behaviour risks a hefty fine and a criminal record – and since

Britain’s best boltholes for under £50 a night

Whether it’s train fares, energy bills or the supermarket shop, prices are rising and belts are tightening. But if you’re desperate to get away from it all, it’s still possible to have a break on a budget – however many people you’re taking with you. From cosy couples’ cabins to beach houses big enough for two families, and from Scotland to Sussex, these seven boltholes offer spring getaways with plenty of wow factor – and all cost no more than £50 per person per night. For couples  Tahuna Bothies, Aberdeenshire Sleeps: 2-4Price: From £100 a night (£50 each for two people)  These wooden huts on a corner of Scottish coast

How to spend 48 hours in Montreal

‘You’ll see when you get there,’ my friend said. ‘There’s just a different vibe in Montreal.’ He wasn’t wrong. I travelled from Toronto by train – a five-hour journey made infinitely more bearable by the impressive landscapes that flashed past the window – to find that Montreal is a tale of two cities. Still distinctly North American – and Canada’s second most populous metropolis – Montreal is dotted with all the chrome skyscrapers and wide, bustling intersections you would expect. Yet around each corner there is also a dose of seemingly incongruous European flavour: a cobbled street, an old stone church, a statue in a tree-lined square. For every modern

Not enough snow on the slopes? Try Tromsø

Europe’s ‘winter heatwave’ has left large parts of the Alps and Pyrenees bereft of snow over the past fortnight, causing grassy pistes and cancelled ski holidays. So where to go for a guaranteed winter wonderland? Well, Tromsø in Norway is 350km north of the Arctic Circle, so reliably snowy. In an average winter, it sees 160 days with at least 25cm of snow on the ground – and at the moment locals are having to dig out their cars. This small yet sophisticated city on the periphery of continental Europe is well worth a trip, especially if you’re after some wintry pursuits a little less high octane than downhill skiing.