Q My wife and I will fly into Heathrow from Dulles, arriving early in the morning and flying out 14 hours later to South Africa. Is there a hotel at or near the London airport where we can shower, sleep and eat?
A Many hotels near Heathrow offer day-use rates, but you usually can't book them online at the chain's reservation site or through its toll-free number. Instead, you must call the hotel itself. While this may sound bothersome, you can negotiate some sweet deals by talking with a reservationist.
For example, I called the Comfort Inn Heathrow (011-44-20-8-573-6162) and a reservationist offered me a deal of about $110 for a room from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. But when I balked, he said, "What's your budget? We'll work with you on a better price." We agreed on about $100, including the 17.5 percent tax, and I believe he would have gone lower had I been ready to book. The Comfort Inn is about 2.6 miles from the airport.
The Hilton Heathrow Airport Hotel, connected to the facility by a covered walkway, also offers day-use rates, but you'll pay for the convenience: It's $225 for a room from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m., and I couldn't persuade the hotel to lower the rate. Info: 011-44-20-8759-7755.
Cheaper hotels with day-use rates include the Holiday Inn Ariel Hotel (011-44-870-4009040), with prices as low as $55, and the Ibis Heathrow Airport (011-44-208-7594888), with rates as low as $45.
For a list of other hotels near the airport: http://milesfaster.co.uk/heathrow-hotels-london.htm or http://londontoolkit.com/travel/heathrow_hotels.htm.
My two sisters and I are planning to send our parents to Bermuda. My mother uses crutches or a cane to walk, so we need accommodations on a bus stop that is accessible. What's the best place?
Bermuda is not the best destination for the disabled. Because the country doesn't have a version of the Americans With Disabilities Act, restaurants, transportation services, stores, hotels, etc., are not required by law to accommodate those with mobility issues. Walking with a cane is problematic in many areas because there are few sidewalks outside the main cities of Hamilton and St. George's. And the island is generally hilly.
Keith A. Forbes, a physically handicapped Bermudian who writes the Web page for the Bermuda Physically Handicapped Association (441-293-5035, www.bermuda-online.org/BPHA.htm) recommends your parents take ferries, rather than buses, to get around because "new ferries serving Hamilton, Dockyard and St. George's now have ground-level access for the disabled." For lodging, he recommends the "close-to-Hamilton, close-to-ferries" Waterloo House (800-468-4100, www.waterloohouse.com), where rooms start at $340 per night wth continental breakfast and afternoon tea.
The Bermuda Department of Tourism (800-BERMUDA, www.bermudatourism.com), which publishes a free "Accessible Bermuda" booklet, recommends several upscale properties for mobility-impaired visitors, including Elbow Beach, Fairmont Hamilton Princess, Fairmont Southampton and Wyndham Bermuda Resort & Spa.
"They offer full service and dining facilities, have large elevators, wide doorways, accessible bathrooms, public rooms with a minimum of steps and reasonably accessible recreation areas," said Mary Ramsay, a spokeswoman for Bermuda Tourism.
We will be in Milan in December and would like to attend an opera in the newly renovated opera house. Any pointers on how to do this ?
La Scala, Milan's famous opera house, has been closed since December 2001 while undergoing a $67 million renovation. It's scheduled to reopen Dec. 7, although it will close again in January to complete details of the renovation, with a subsequent reopening scheduled for spring.
"Europa Riconosciuta" ("Europa Revealed") by Antonio Salieri, the first opera performed when the theater opened in 1778, is set to be performed on seven dates in December and four dates in January. Tickets will not go on sale until about two months before Dec. 7, and they will be very difficult to obtain. Prices have not been officially released, but Internet brokers are posting prices of $500 and up. For details, contact La Scala at 011-39-02-72-003-744 or www.teatroallascala.it.
Maria Meyer, spokeswoman for Select Italy (847-853-1661, www.selectitaly.com), a U.S. agency that specializes in tickets to events, sights and performances in Italy, said her company is trying to obtain tickets, but she added that she expects they will cost several hundred dollars each.
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