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Including two return East Coast train tickets to York and free entry to 30 top attractions

The breakfast room at Halford House

B&B And Beyond: Halford House, Gloucestershire

A homely ambience is complemented by hotel-standard style and service at this elegant guesthouse, says Kate Simon

Third of MPs 'slam House of Commons toilets'

A third of MPs are unhappy with the cleanliness of toilets inside the House of Commons, a study has revealed.

The White Swan Inn's dining room is an object lesson in refurb, with maroon walls, stone-flagged floor and room dividers in the form of folding screens

The White Swan Inn, Market Place, Pickering, North Yorkshire

Pickering in North Yorkshire is a country town with exactly the right sort of attractions: 12th-century castle; bustling steam railway; church with medieval wall paintings admired by Pevsner and, not least, a quietly handsome inn on the high street.

What caused the Bicester Twister?

Swirling vortex causes alarm in Oxfordshire but UK is no stranger to the phenomenon. Michael McCarthy reports

Fully functional: a 'Master House' in Dessau

On the trail of Bauhaus

Bauhaus architecture is being celebrated in a new exhibition at the Barbican in London. Fiona Dunlop travels to centralGermany to see where it all began

La Torre del Visco, Aragón

The Big Six: Rural retreats in Spain

Le Domaine, Castilla y León

Ghostly: The dining-room is a whiter shade of pale

Adam Simmonds, Danesfield House Hotel and Spa, Henley Road, Marlow-on-Thames, Bucks

Late-night visitors to Marlow have often been shocked by the chilling apparition of the Grey Lady of Danesfield Park, a solemn-faced ghost holding a lantern, who glides around where the chapel once stood, before disappearing. We had a broadly similar experience on driving into the hotel grounds – seeing the chilling apparition of Danesfield House, a great white whale of a late-Victorian Gothic folly looming in front of you like Moby Dick. It's an extraordinary sight, with its tall chimneys, its clock tower and elaborately terraced gardens, and it carries an air of melancholy – the result, perhaps, of too many owners, speculators and changes of use. It was built in 1899 by the heir to the Sunlight soap fortune, who sold it the moment it was finished. It housed evacuees in the war and was requisitioned by the RAF. It was once home to the Hellfire Club of Medmenham, a bunch of crazed desperadoes from the nearby village. Since 1991 it's been a hotel. And in the past four years, it's picked up a reputation as home to one of the country's finest chefs, Adam Simmonds.

Being Modern: Foraging

As anyone who has studied those academically certified case histories of Stone Age man, The Flintstones and Captain Caveman, will know, foraging has been going on since prehistory. Bish-bash-bosh with the club and you've got a larvely bit of woolly mammoth for tea.

Harriet Walker: 'It's time to welcome in the spirit of spring'

Nothing beats that moment of transition from winter to spring: waking up to curtain-filtered sunshine and the first time you leave your coat behind. It's breathing in the smell of foliage and flowers rather than air so cold it sears the back of your nose. It's walking because you want to, not just when you have to. And it's eating rowdily and outside, enjoying the bacchanalia that good weather affords instead of slurping like hunched medieval kings in the day-long gloaming, wiping your hands on your dressing-gown.

Prime Minister David Cameron during a reception at 10 Downing Street yesterday. Former Labour minister Jack Straw said the Tories were prepared to evade rules stating that donors must be registered to vote in the UK

Matthew Norman: How much must the PM have to offer if he's worth £250,000 a pop?

At his age, the shock might have killed him. Straight up, Rupert Murdoch could have gone out like a light on learning that the rich and powerful can buy access to a Prime Minister. So praise be that his naive heart survived the epiphany, sparing him to confide his thoughts on the latest demi-scandal bedecked with the scintillatingly fresh suffix of "-gate". "What was Cameron thinking?" he tweeted. "No one, rightly or wrongly, will believe his story."

Matthew Norman: Surely Cameron is in line for a Michelin star?

If the PM's genius is worth £250,000 a pop, he must make Heston Blumenthal look like the Crossroads chef

Simon Kelner: Hospitality is just not the forte of the British

I was in Manchester last night, on an intensely private matter. Oh, all right, I was at a football match. Anyway, I was staying at the city centre hotel where I am a regular visitor. In the relatively short time I have patronised this establishment, it has changed names – and, I assume, ownership – three times, and in its latest incarnation it went from a hotel with a short, memorable name – just four letters – to one with a cumbersome, Americanised moniker – three words, 18 letters.

Five-minute memoir: Grant Gordon on how a Doctor Who heroine saved his dad

The Mini Clubman may be the iconic era-defining car of the Swinging Sixties, but it was the Austin 1100 which was the speedy, reliable compact car of choice for less groovy folk across the country.

Run wild: the Martinhal Resort

Where children are guests, not pests

Once upon a time, the most stylish accommodation was always the least child-friendly. No longer. Europe now has plenty of chic hotels for all ages

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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
Minoan Crete and Santorini
Prices correct as of 1 May 2015
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power