The Big Six: Los Angeles hotels

Featuring a chic rooftop poolside, antique-inspired interiors, a former cinema, diner-style eating, a Korean restaurant, and an all-service spa

Touch base: the portable loos on Aconcagua

Simon Calder: 48 Hours in Base Camp

The man who pays his way

'What's the weirdest restaurant you've ever visited?'

Tombs: this weird restaurant in Ahmedabad, India is famous for its milk tea and the tombs between the tables. The owner, who claims to have opened the restaurant 40 years ago, says he does not know who is buried there.

The latest scandal to hit The Toronto Mayor, Rob Ford, is an alleged video of him smoking crack cocaine that’s been seen by three journalists who all identified the Mayor

Toronto mayor Rob Ford leaves audience on tenterhooks after getting stuck in a lift

Another day, another embarrassing anecdote about Toronto’s illustrious mayor Rob Ford

Afghan children play cricket on the outskirts of Jalalabad, Nangarhar province, near to Alinghar, Laghman where the cricket players were shot by a gunman.

Five Afghan cricket players killed by suspected Taliban gunman

Authorities say the gunman rode on a motorbike and shot the group of men

Titus Clarysse eats at a restaurant in Ghent, western Belgium in 2009; Clarysse was known in and around the university town of Ghent for walking into any restaurant of his choosing, ordering anything for steak to lobsters and walking out without paying

Titus Clarysse: Belgian man who skipped 100 restaurant bills is killed

He was a “happy-go-lucky” guy who was notorious for spicing up life on benefits in the medieval Belgian town of Ghent by strolling into a restaurant, calmly ordering lobster washed down with the finest brandy or some other gastronomic delight and then walking out without paying the bill.

Shaken, not stirred: a pre-dinner martini

On the menu: Never go straight through to dinner, and never say aperitif

The aperitif is back, the aperitif is in. At Simon Rogan's joint in the Midland Hotel, Manchester, a guy in a bomber jacket breaks off a conversation with his date, "I'll have Just a Splash – that cocktail with Aperol and Prosecco," he says to the barman.

Jill Turton- Where to Shop in York

When was the last time you had a first time.....?

Win a luxury two-night spa break in York

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

Prince Harry’s girlfriend Cressida Bonas is mourning the sudden death of her stepfather, after he was found dead by his housekeeper last Friday.

Cressida Bonas’ stepfather Christopher Shaw found dead

Prince Harry’s girlfriend is mourning the sudden death of her 'formative father figure', who was discovered last Friday

Blair meeting with troops in Basra, Iraq in 2003

The day I tried (and failed) to arrest Tony Blair for war crimes: Barman attempts to detain former PM at trendy Shoreditch restaurant

One is an internationally renowned statesman; the other was a barman working at one of east London’s hippest restaurants. But it was the former Prime Minister, Tony Blair, who came out on top in an unusual clash on Friday. He managed to use his years of verbal dexterity – some would put it less politely – to talk himself out of what could have been a humiliating situation: a citizen’s arrest.

A £100,000 painting has been stolen from the home of an 89-year-old woman who was fooled by a fraud scam

£100,000 painting by Samuel Palmer stolen along with jewellery in fraud scam

A £100,000 painting has been stolen from the home of an 89-year-old woman who was fooled by a fraud scam, Scotland Yard said.

Hanging Rock is under threat

No picnic at Hanging Rock: Australian beauty spot which was setting for famed Seventies film under threat from hotel developers

Protest meetings – and even a protest picnic - held at the site as petition with 5,000 signatures urges council to reconsider

Carnage: A Kabul policeman surveys the damage

Foreigners targeted in Afghanistan blast as Labour MEP candidate Del Singh one of two Britons killed in Kabul attack which killed 21

Two Britons and four UN members were among the 21 people killed in the restaurant attack

Book review: 'A Highly Unlikely Scenario: Or A Neetsa Pizza Employee’s Guide To Saving The World' by Rachel Cantor

A riff on a cosmic joke turns this space comedy into something far greater

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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
Spain
Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there