For a break from generic hotel rooms and clone-like resorts, here is our eclectic selection of retro travel destinations; from Parisian vintage to shabby-chic in Texas, slip back in time with these elegant and kitsch holiday spots.
Visually, much of Cuba has stayed in a time-warp since the Castro brothers took control in 1959; old 1950s cars still roam the streets and the facade of many buildings retain an old-world charm. Follow in the footsteps of two of Cuba’s most famous sons, and have beer at Castillo de Farnes, where Ché and Castro toasted the success of the Revolution. Or raise a glass to Hemingway at his old haunt La Bodeguita del Medio. Some of the country’s best-preserved architecture can be found in Havana: the capital city and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Old Havana is one of the Americas’ most impressive colonial centres; stroll through shady plazas to the world famous Malecón and sup on an ice-cold mojito.
This big city with a small town feel lives by the mantra “Keep Austin Weird”. The unofficial Austin slogan is a nod to how the city embraces its eclectic mix of residents, as well as its desire to preserve local businesses and resist commercialization. As a result, the laid-back city has a thriving arts scene and is a magnet for lovers of kitsch paraphernalia and Rockabilly cool, with many diners and stores standing as they were 50 years ago. The area known as South Congress, or “Soco” – a cultural district stretching down Congress Avenue from Downtown – is home to many coffee shops, kitsch stores and restaurants. Pick up vintage-style art work at Road House Relics, including neon signs and Rockabilly prints.
For a touch of nostalgia amid an ever-changing backdrop, climb aboard the Danube Express, and apperciate stunning Eastern European scenery from the comfort of a beautiful 1950s-style train carriage. The cream and navy Danube Express tours Eastern and Central Europe from Budapest, and passengers are offered a choice of “classic” and “deluxe” sleeper carriages that were initially built for accommodating Hungary’s most prestigious government figures. A relatively new venture, the Danube Express launched in September 2008, and will be adding escorted tours from London and several tailored stays to their service for 2010.
The dainty cafes and prestigious fashion boutiques of the elegant French capital offer much for the vintage lover. To experience this side of Paris in full, try Ooh la la Vintage who specialise in vintage Parisian breaks. The trip includes tours of vintage fashion shops, a night of classic cabaret glamour at the Moulin Rouge, visits to old brasseries and cafes and a stay in a retro hotel dripping with old-style attention to detail, all done whilst driving around in a vintage Citroën 2CV. Their “vintage master class” offers all there is to know about the Parisian vintage fashion scene, including a rundown on the history of the industry and tips on how to pick out a good vintage piece.
For retro kitsch at its most colourful, head to the 2008 European Capital of Culture, Liverpool, and relive the swinging Sixties. Music lovers will find many a Merseybeat-themed tour of the city which highlight the famous haunts of the fab four. Along a similar vein, the Hard Days Night Hotel is a Beatles-themed establishment in the heart of the “Beatles Quarter”, found next to the famous Cavern Club where manager Brian Epstein first saw The Beatles perform in 1961. Head to the hotel bar for a Honey Can’t Buy Me Love cocktail, or stay in the deluxe McCartney suite that comes complete with a white grand piano.