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Osprey Holidays Blog

Two In One: Shona Explores Paris & Val d’Isere

Shona Anderson May 20th, 2024

I was lucky enough to attend a fabulous FAM trip hosted by Experimental Group. Experimental are currently in the midst of an exciting new project building the new Experimental Chalet Val d’Isere, which is due to open at the end of the year. For all ski related enquiries, our sister company, Ski Independence are on hand to help create the perfect ski holiday for your clients.

Day 1

After a smooth flight to Paris Beauvais airport, I hopped on a bus and arrived at Porte Maillot. From there I took the metro to the first hotel I was staying in, Experimental’s Hotel des Grands Boulevards. Wow, what a place! The hotel was marvellous and I was greeted with a warm smile by the friendly reception staff. As I was handed a set of real keys to my room, I already started to feel right at home.

After dropping my bags, I strolled along the beautiful Parisian streets and visited a selection of our fabulous featured hotels:

Once I had rendezvoused with the rest of the lovely agents in the group, we wandered around and saw some iconic Paris sites and headed back to the hotel to freshen up for dinner at the hotel. The restaurant has a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere, offering a great selection of dishes and unique cocktails made with ingredients from their very own on-site garden!

Day 2

We had a fabulous continental breakfast with plenty of pastries and had a tour of the hotel. Afterwards, we were treated to a superb food tour run by Through Eternity Tours, which included wine, French onion soup, galettes, chocolate and a lot of cheese!

Very happy and our bellies full, we took the scenic route back to our next hotel – The Grand Pigalle Hotel, a smaller, yet equally sophisticated slice of Paris. The Grand Pigalle hotel had a classically Parisian feel, with chic bedrooms and an elegant interior. My room had a beautiful balcony, perfect for a coffee and watching the world go by in the mornings.

In the evening, we had dinner at the hotel’s restaurant, Frenchie Pigalle, restaurant of the one-starred chef Gregory Marchand. The waiting staff were incredibly professional and knowledgeable, offering a description of each dish we had and the food was just to die for!

Day 3

After a blissful sleep in the comfiest beds, we had another delightful breakfast and were all feeling very excited for the journey ahead to Val d’Isere. Experimental will soon be opening new accommodation in Val d’Isere, which will be replacing the current L’Aigle Des Neiges.

We set off to Gare de Lyon and had a very easy journey to Chambery, before being picked up by our transfer to take us to our next accommodation.

When we arrived, snow was gently falling down around us. The resort of Val d’Isere is stunning, surrounded by cosy looking lodges and picturesque mountain backdrops. We stayed in the Chalet Marco Polo, which was absolutely breathtaking. Kitted out with a swimming pool, hot tub, games room and gym, it was a dream!

As the construction works of the new accommodation are still ongoing, we were taken on a tour of the showroom, which was mocked up to replicate one of the rooms at Experimental Chalet Val d’Isere. Equipped with hard hats and welly boots, we visualized what the accommodation will look like.

We were given a presentation from the Val d’Isere Tourist Office and afterwards treated to a mixology class by one of Experimental’s specialist mixologists. We had a private dinner which consisted of a spectacular 3-course meal, which was also to die for!

If you want to find out more about ski holidays with Ski Independence, visit our dedicated travel agent pages here. If you’re already registered with Osprey, that means you’re also registered with Ski Independence, and you can enquire today.

Day 4

After a wonderful breakfast with views of the mountains and gently falling snowflakes, we set off on our final activity – snowshoeing. I had never done this before and it was a great opportunity to get on the slopes and see the Alps in all their glory!

Sadly it was time to say goodbye, and after an incredible 4 days we packed our bags and headed to Geneva airport. The entire experience was the perfect mix of city sightseeing with a glorious alpine setting, and a fair few laughs along the way!

‘Til we meet again!

To find out more about Shona’s trip to Paris & Val d’Isere or if you’re interested in a similar trip,
give the team a call on 0131 243 8098 or send us an email.

Daria Visits Venice

The Team May 2nd, 2024

I was lucky enough to explore the iconic city of Venice and meet some of our lovely new and existing partners. I arrived at Venice Marco Polo Airport early in the morning and took a bus no. 5 to Piazzale Roma and then a Vaporetto (water bus) no. 2 to San Marco. This is the quickest way to get to Venice by public transport, but I’d recommend taking an Alilaguna water bus (blue line) instead. It takes slightly longer, but it’s a direct water bus from the airport to Venice city centre so it’s much more comfortable, especially if you’re travelling with luggage.

I checked-in at the 4-star Hotel Kette where I was treated to a Superior Room with a Canal View. This elegant hotel is in a perfect location and is just a 5 minute walk from St Mark’s Square. It’s situated on a quiet side street, yet it’s still right in the heart of the city with amazing attractions on your doorstep. The interior is decorated in classic Venetian style with dark wood, Murano glass, marble floor and charming, traditional guest rooms. The hotel staff were incredibly friendly and helpful which made my stay all the more special!

After a quick break, I headed out to visit some of our featured hotels. I have to admit that I was slightly concerned about getting lost in the narrow streets and bridges of Venice… but it’s actually a very easy city to get around! Its a lot smaller than I had thought, so it was super easy to wander around.

On day 1 and 2 of my trip, I visited the following hotels:

After the site visits on day 2, I treated myself to some mouthwatering gelatos at Gelateria Paolin dal 1760, and it didn’t disappoint! With outdoor seating, it’s perfect for sunbathing and watching the world go by while you enjoy your lunch or gelato.

In the evening, I strolled along the canals to Ponte dell’Accademia bridge and Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute and watched the sun setting behind the buildings of Venice, it was truly unforgettable.

On day 3, I headed to St Mark’s Square for a guided tour of St. Mark’s Basilica and Doge’s Palace. A guided tour is a great option to load yourself with historical information you wouldn’t hear otherwise and to bypass the entrance queues. Our tour guide was very knowledgeable and informative and the tour itself was absolutely fantastic.

After the tour, I had a tasty lunch by the Grand Canal, then went back to the hotel to collect my luggage and headed back to the airport after a wonderful adventure.

The city is packed full of charm, I really fell in love with it. From its rich history and beautiful architecture to its picturesque bridges and canals at every turn. My best advice would be to just wander…and no matter which street you go down, you’ll always discover something incredible.

To find out more about my visit to Venice or if you’re interested in a similar trip,
give the team a call on 0131 243 8098 or send us an email.

Spring into Amsterdam!

Shona Anderson March 11th, 2024

Amsterdam has a unique charm at any time of year, but it really comes into its own during the spring months. Experience the wonderful canals of Amsterdam and vibrant flower markets which colour the entire city!

Amsterdam is an exciting destination brimming with culture, world-class museums and historical gems. On a typical spring day in Amsterdam, tables and chairs appear on the pavements and squares, and the sun glistens off the canals, whilst market stalls overflow with an array of colourful blooms. What’s amazing about this city is that there’s something for everyone, whether you’re looking for an intimate boutique hotel such as the Hotel Estherea or a peaceful, family friendly one like the Owl Hotel. This is also true for what’s on offer in Amsterdam – continue reading to find out what you can do in this beautiful city this spring!

Blooming Lovely

From 21 March to 12 May, the Keukenhof Gardens are in full bloom, with 800 varieties of tulips covering over 32 hectares and various themed gardens and sculptures, it’s a sight you can’t miss. Just 30-minutes from Amsterdam, tours to the gardens depart several times each day from the city centre. Our tour package to visit the bulb fields can be added onto any Amsterdam package which includes return transfers and some free time to roam around – a day well spent in Spring!

Cruising Around

No trip to Amsterdam is complete without a canal cruise where you can truly see local life unfold before you and the fragrance from the springtime flowers trace your journey. Explore this lively city from another perspective and relax as you cruise the UNESCO canal district of merchant’s houses, fascinating façades and historic landmarks.

Quintessentially Dutch

The best way to experience the beauty of spring is to get out into the countryside! Visit some of the Netherland’s most charming villages on the Marken, Volendam & Windmills tour, including the windmill village of Zaanse Schans and perhaps try some Dutch cheese in Volendam. Alternatively visit the miniature town of Madurodam and the famous pottery town of Delft as part of the Grand Holland tour.

Relaxing Outdoors

Vondelpark - Pond Gazebo 3

For relaxing days in Amsterdam take a visit to the magical Vondelpark made up of vast, lush greenery, ponds, footbridges and winding footpaths. On a warm spring day, the park evokes a peaceful atmosphere, perfect for a leisurely stroll, or how about cycling through on a hired bike like the locals? Your love for Amsterdam will surely blossom with so much to see and do, especially in the springtime.

To find out more about Amsterdam or any of our other 60 destinations call our City Break Specialists on 0131 243 8098 or request a tailor-made itinerary online.

Must-See Attractions in Europe

Shona Anderson January 25th, 2024


Spanish Riding School, Vienna

For something a little different, the Spanish Riding School offer incredible performances named after the country of origin of the Lipizzan (or Lipizzaner), the breed of horse used exclusively at the school. Performances are showcased to the public every month and it’s also possible to watch the horses during morning exercise. Opt for the guided tour if you wish to visit The Stallburg imperial stables, one of Vienna’s most distinguished Renaissance buildings and learn more about the famous stallions.

Spanish Riding School, Vienna, Austria

More on our Vienna City Breaks


Alhambra Palace, Granada

On top of the Sabika hill and situated on the left bank of the river Darro, the magnificent Alhambra Palace overlooks the beautiful city of Granada. The palace was originally constructed in the 13th century by the Nasrid Dynasty and later expanded upon by subsequent rulers. Today, visitors are able to look around the Nasrid Palaces, Alhambra towers, the Palace of Charles V, The Alcazaba, the Royal Baths and Generalife Gardens.

Alhambra Palace, Granada, Spain

More on our Granada City Breaks


La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

Designed by world-famous architect Antoni Gaudí, La Sagrada Familia began construction in 1882 and is a work in progress to this day. Embellished with beautiful stained glass windows and renowned for its distinctive architecture and profound symbolism, its not surprising that this magnificent basilica is the most visited attraction in Barcelona.

La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, Spain

More on our Barcelona City Breaks


Lake Bled, Ljubljana

A magical place to visit, Lake Bled offers incredibly picturesque views of Slovenia and the Julian Alps which rise to 2,864m high at Mount Triglav. For a great day out, walk around the lake which takes around an hour, and afterwards treat yourself to a tasty Bled cream cake – a local delicacy you just have to try!

Lake Bled, Ljubljana, Slovenia

More on our Ljubljana City Breaks


The Northern Lights, Reykjavik

An absolute bucket list activity, if you’re lucky enough to see them, the Northern Lights (scientific name Aurora Borealis) can be the highlight of a trip to Reykjavik. From the Blue Lagoon to the Geysirs, there’s no shortage of natural phenomena in this spectacular city. The best time to see the lights are in the winter months between September and April. Northern Lights tours run frequently which take you to the very best places, making a trip to Reykjavik simply unforgettable.

The Northern Lights, Reykjavik, Iceland

More on our Reykjavik City Breaks


The Eiffel Tower, Paris

A list of must-see’s would not be complete without mentioning The Eiffel Tower. This iconic attraction was built in 1889, initially for the 1889 Exposition Universelle which was a celebration of the 100th anniversary of the French revolution. The tower is the most visited monument in the world, offering magnificent panoramic views of Paris. Watch the tower light up in its daily light show which begins at dusk and sparkles every hour until 11pm.

The Eiffel Tower, Paris, France

More on our Paris City Breaks


Festive Opening Hours 2023/24

Shona Anderson December 19th, 2023

From everyone at Osprey Holidays, we wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! If you wish to get in touch please contact us on 0131 243 8098 and find our festive opening hours below:

Festive Opening Hours 2023/24

  • Saturday 23rd December: 9.00am-4.00pm
  • Sunday 24th December: Closed
  • Christmas Day: Closed
  • Boxing Day: Closed
  • 27th, 28th, 29th December: 9.00am-5.30pm
  • Saturday 30th December: 9.00am-4.00pm
  • New Years Eve: Closed
  • New Year’s Day: Closed
  • Tuesday 2nd January: 9.00am-5.30pm

Lisa and Stephanie’s Trip to Reykjavik

The Team November 20th, 2023

Day 1:
We arrived in Reykjavik later on in the evening where our transfer bus Gray Line was waiting for us. With a 50 minute journey into the centre we were well on our way to soak up the Icelandic culture. Arriving at the Fosshotel Reykjavik, we dumped our bags and headed back out for a bite to eat. We found a great little pizza stop called Devitos – definitely one of the best pizzas we’ve ever had!

Day 2:
It was an early start for us, so we enjoyed a hearty breakfast and headed to the coach for our first tour of the day, The Golden Circle. With a 6 hour tour ahead of us, we were excited to see the 3 main attractions that we had heard so much about from colleagues and friends. It was a 45 minute drive until we reached our first stop, Iceland’s National Park. The sun had just begun to rise as we arrived, giving amazing views over Lake Þingvallavatn with the stunning greenery around us.

Our second stop was the one we were most looking forward to out of the 3 attractions. From the National Park to The Geysirs the journey took 50 minutes. The Geysirs were incredible to witness with several at the beginning of the trail and the largest, geyser Strokkur, just a 5 minute walk up a gentle hill. The hot springs erupt every 5-8 minutes so it wasn’t long before the action happened right in front of our eyes. The wait in the cold was completely worth it – an experience neither of us have had the pleasure of seeing before.

This was our longest stop so we treated ourselves to Icelandic fish & chips for lunch. With full tummies all round, we set off for our third and final stop of the tour, the Gulfoss ‘Golden’ Waterfall, just 15 minutes along from the Geysirs. We decided to brave the stairs to the viewing platform and get as close as possible to the powerful falls. Let’s just say, we weren’t disappointed! The waterfall was stunning, almost like looking at a picture from a magazine.

Soon enough, the time had flown by and the temperatures had dropped; it was time to head back to the hotel. Arriving back into Reykjavik late afternoon, we had our first hotel visit of the trip, Fosshotel Reykjavik. As we were staying here, we already had a good idea of the facilities on offer. After our tour, we decided to check out the main shopping street Laugavegur, a 5-minute walk away. The Laugavegur is a long street lined with many shops, restaurants, and bars, ranging from tourist to high end. The street itself takes around 30 mins to walk from one end to the other.

After having dinner at the Fosshotel Reykjavik it was time to layer up in search of the Northern Lights. Unfortunately, it wasn’t our night and the lights didn’t make an appearance. Luckily with Reykjavik excursions you can book again every night for up to 2 years, so we booked again for the next day.

Day 3:
We started our 5 hotel visits, all within walking distance of each other. Each hotel had different personalities with unique characteristics. The hotel’s we visited were:

Hotel Holt – 4*
Center Hotel Plaza – 3*
Reykjavik Centrum -4*
Hotel Borg by Keahotels – 4*
Apotek by Keahotels – 4*

With our successful hotel visits completed, it was time to make our way back, grab our swimwear and head to the Sky Lagoon.

The Sky Lagoon
The lagoon was like stepping into a bath, exactly what we needed after our morning visits. The views across Reykjavik alone are out of this world, with the infinity ledge over looking the Atlantic ocean you could very well be in paradise. The swim up bar was a must because let’s face it…. who doesn’t want a picture holding a glass of fizz while floating in a natural lagoon surrounded by incredible nature!

The 7 step ritual is unique to the Sky Lagoon and we both managed 2 minutes in the cold plunge pool. For us the sauna was a much better ritual!

Back to Reykjavik we went for another hotel visit, the 5* Reykjavik Edition. We also had the pleasure of dining in the Tides restaurant, the food was out of this world. After dinner it was time to head back out to try to catch the Northern Lights! Despite conditions being better it just wasn’t meant to be. Nevermind, it’s a perfect excuse to return to Iceland…

Day 4:
More hotel visit visits for us to complete our trip. Each hotel was in a superb location and walkable to the main Laugavegur and each hotel was unique in its own way. We visited:

Fosshotel Raudara – 3*
Hotel Klettur – 3*
Sand Hotel by Keahotels – 4*

Sadly our time in Iceland was coming to an end, so we headed back to the airport for our flight home. Iceland, its been a blast!

To find out more about Lisa and Stephanie’s visit to Reykjavik or if you’re interested in a similar trip,
give the team a call on 0131 243 8098 or send us an email.

Lisa and Stephanie are going to Reykjavik!

The Team November 10th, 2023

Lisa and I are really looking forward to our first ever trip to Reykjavik in Iceland this week! We will be learning more about the destination, visiting the hotels we offer and experiencing some of the trips that are most popular with visitors. We’re keeping a close eye on the weather and changing what we’ve packed every time it updates!

We’ll be staying at the 4-star Fosshotel Reykjavik, which is ideally located in the city centre with a short walk to local shops, restaurants and cafes.

We will also be visiting:

Hotel Holt

Reykjavik Centrum (Osprey Select)

Hotel Borg by Keahotels (Osprey Select)

The Reykjavik Edition Hotel

Fosshotel Raudara (Osprey Select)

Hotel Klettur

Sand Hotel by Keahotels

Centerhotel Plaza

We’re going to be kept busy, with a full day Golden Circle tour and a Northern Lights trip too. We have our fingers and toes crossed that we get to see the Northern Lights. We’re leaving it in the hands of the weather gods – but we’ll try again the next night if things don’t work out on the first attempt!

We’re also really looking forward to trying something a bit different at the Sky Lagoon with its 7 step ritual – ‘slow down and relax’ sounds amazing, the ‘cool down with cold plunge’ maybe less so…

Keep an eye out for photos of our trip on the Osprey Holidays social media feeds, we’ll be sure to post lots to make you all jealous!

If you’re interested in a similar trip, give our team a call on 0131 243 8098

Diane Visits Helsinki and Arctic Lakeland

The Team June 29th, 2023
Helsinki and Arctic Lakeland

I was lucky enough to be invited on the FAM trip hosted by Visit Finland. Finland is not a country I’m familiar with, apart from knowing the capital is Helsinki and it’s the home of Santa Claus in Lapland! Over the course of the week I discovered there is so much more to this beautiful country.

Day 1

After a smooth flight I arrived in Helsinki late afternoon and was whisked off to my hotel. The airport is roughly 30 minutes’ drive from the city centre or there’s a train station at the airport that goes straight to Central Station. Everything was very well signposted.

Read the rest of this entry »

Louise and Amy Visit London & Paris!

The Team May 23rd, 2023
Visit London & Paris: the banks of the River Seine in Paris

Edinburgh to London

Having had a relaxing and surprisingly quick journey down from Edinburgh on the LNER train, being looked after by very attentive staff, we arrived in London mid-afternoon. Finding the underground was easy as it is situated right at King’s Cross and we arrived to the H10 London Waterloo Hotel in around half an hour. The reception provided us with a warm welcome and the added bonus of a refreshing drink!

Read the rest of this entry »

Best Dog Friendly Hotels in the UK

Sarah Black October 8th, 2021

Credit: Roberto Nickson, Unsplash

One of the best rewards about holidaying in the UK is that it’s so easy to bring your furry companion to join you. Places such as the Lake District and Cotswolds both known for their beautiful dog walking areas are full of pet friendly hotels Read the rest of this entry »

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