Brochures of the week

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The Independent Travel
Holiday lets don't come much grander than the sumptuous pads featured in the Venetian Apartments brochure (some even have their own private waterside entrances, where I suppose you can tie up your hire boat at night).

Ann-Marie Doyle, owner of this company, writes a chatty introduction, explaining that you will feel like a local if you stay in one of her properties. Also welcome is the informality she introduces by writing things like, "In addition to Venice, I have several apartments in Florence, Rome and Verona".

Published on thick matt paper, the pictures are large enough to get a good idea of what awaits. But all the shots have a very pink tinge which makes you wonder if Barbara Cartland was the art director on this project.

Choose from the likes of the eight apartments in the Palazzetto San Lio on the Rialto (very The Wings of a Dove) or the spacious flat in the Palazzo Santa Maria Formosa (a bit too English for my liking).

Also recommended is the Inn-Active Summer 98 brochure, for walking, cycling, farmhouses and hotels in France, Spain, Italy, Switzerland and Norway. This firm promises "innovative holidays for independent travellers" and seems to have a glut of places off the beaten track, in pretty locations.

In Spain, for example, it can organise fly-drives, put you up in white- washed hotels, and help you plan walking tours. Although pleasing to look at, this brochure does have a slightly complicated pricing structure, and you will need to ponder details such as "prices per person based on a minimum of two people, a double room and travelling in one car (self- drive). *Save pounds 48 each additional person in one car ... Air travel: fly- drive via Malaga. Extra night fly-drive, add pounds 28 per car." It is easier filling in a social security claim. But for once it's worthwhile persevering.

Venetian Apartments, tel 0181 878 1130; Inn-Active Summer 98, tel 01653 628811.