Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Gain in Spain; It's Official - Spain Is Now Our Favourite Holiday Destination

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Gain in Spain; It's Official - Spain Is Now Our Favourite Holiday Destination

Article excerpt

Byline: NICK REDMAN

SPAIN has overtaken France as the most popular overseas destination for Brits, according to a new report from the Office of National Statistics.

No wonder - from haute cuisine to high treks, the country has something for everyone.

Best for bargain-hunters Flights to Madrid, on Iberia from Gatwick, start at [pounds sterling]92 at www.opodo.co.uk (booking until 1 August 2004). Until 31 December, there are threenightsfor-two deals at all Madrid's 28 NH Hoteles (00 800 0115 0116, www.nh-hoteles.

com); doubles from [pounds sterling]68 room only in a central five-star.

Holiday Autos (www.

holidayautos.co.uk) has global rental reductions for pickups until 31 October 2004 (book by 16 December): on Tenerife, a week's car hire is only [pounds sterling]63.

Best for design devotees Bilbao became a byword for urban regeneration when Frank Gehry unveiled the Guggenheim there in 1997.

On show until 18 April 2004 is Jean Dubuffet - Traces of an Adventure.

Make a pilgrimage to the city's two best interior-design stores, Urbana (at Elcano, 15) and Mosel (Gran Via, 53). Stay at Hotel Miro - refurbished with a facade in green aluminium and stone and 50 rooms, pale and Zennish.

Doubles [pounds sterling]111 room only; Design Hotels (0800 169 8817, www.designhotels.com).

Best for families If they're city kids, show them Barcelona: Gaudi's playful buildings seem designed with children in mind. Ascend Tibidabo, for its fairground; see Parc Guell and its mosaic dragons; and performance-art human "statues" on the Ramblas. For beach-bunnies, try Zahara on the Costa de la Luz; the Melia Atlanterra is best for babies and children.

Full programme for all ages. A week from [pounds sterling]610pp B&B (35 per cent discount for under-12s), with Magic of Spain (0870 888 0222, www.magictravelgroup.co.uk).

Best for clubbers When partying Madrilenos need a new high they head for Valencia. Around kicking-out time in London, Caballeros - a street of designer bars - is just getting going.

Recommended: Johnny Maracas, at 39, and Cafe Sant Jaume, at 51. Expect glam girls, adoring boys and huge vodka tonics. …

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