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The Bode Museum in Berlin sits on the Spree river.


On a budget

Looking for an international city with affordable hotel rooms? You might consider choosing one that starts with a B. Based on its Hotel Price Index, has released a list of the top five urban destinations with luxury rooms under $200. Second through fifth places go to Budapest, Beijing, Bangkok and Berlin in that order. The only exception to the B rule is Marrakesh, which comes in at No. 1. Average daily five-star hotel rooms in the exotic Moroccan city start at $166.

In the air

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A new California airline is offering "all-you-can-fly first-class" service for as little as $790 (U.S.) a month. The unusual pricing model comes from Surf Air, which plans to start flights this summer linking Palo Alto, Monterey, Santa Barbara and Los Angeles. Using mid-sized executive aircraft, it will fly out of uncongested regional airports. Passengers, expected to be mainly frequent fliers, will buy memberships that bring unlimited flight benefits and concierge service. Future destinations could include Las Vegas and Lake Tahoe.

In the room

Forget about skyscraper hotels. The Intercontinental Shimao Shanghai Wonderland is being billed as a groundscraper. Set to open by early 2015, the luxury resort hotel is being built down the sides of an abandoned quarry pit 50 kilometres outside Shanghai. Only three of its 19 floors will be above ground. Complete with a spa, sports facilities and an underwater restaurant, the hotel will be the focal point for a new theme park. It was designed by Atkins, a British-based engineering and design firm.

Sources:, Travel & Leisure,

Special to The Globe and Mail

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