It has downsized the aircraft on the UK-Spain link to a DC9 and switched to Gatwick, but it still offers excellent value fares for a with-frills flight to the Spanish capital: Â£78 return. The one snag is that flights are infrequent: they operate only on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.For an instant briefing on how to immerse yourself in culture in the Spanish capital, see 48 Hours in Cultural Madrid in Traveller, with The Independent on Saturday, 18 January.A TRAINAlaris is the name of the high-speed trains on the rail link between Madrid and Valencia. Spain’s third-largest city is the only significant Spanish destination with no low-cost flights from the UK – so a good way to reach it is to combine a cheap flight to Madrid with this fast train. It departs from Atocha station in the capital six times a day, takes three-and-a-half hours to Valencia, and costs €36.50 (Â£24) each way: about one-third the price for a similar distance in Britain. Book online at . Set in a grand old Glasgow townhouse, with vast circling staircase and antique lift, the Arthouse Hotel was once the home of the local education board. The board moved out to more modern premises in 1999, leaving this elegant but ageing monolith to be converted into a stylish urban hotel.
And as you would guess from the name, the hotel’s main feature is its modern-day art collection.Not only does each room come with its own mini gallery, but the third-floor landing is a designated exhibition space for new work by students from Glasgow School of Art.There’s also a busy restaurant, a bar and a hair and beauty salon on site.LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATIONPretty much bang in the centre of Glasgow, it’s within 10 minutes’ walk of the main shopping streets, bars and restaurants. The Arthouse Hotel, 129 Bath Street, Glasgow, G2 2SY (0141-221 6789; ).Transport: Shops aside, most of the city’s attractions are a bit further afield, but you can hop on the metro at nearby Buchanan Street.Time to international airport: around 20 minutes (Â£16) by taxi or 30 (Â£3.50) by bus to Glasgow Airport.ARE YOU LYING COMFORTABLY?The 65 rooms are all fairly big and each boasts large, comfortable beds. The d?r is an approximation of Art Deco, based on simple, chunky shapes and red and gold colours. The bathrooms are pristinely shiny with bright white tiles and equally snowy towels.Freebies: lavender and tea-tree toiletries by a local firm, Arran Aromatics.Keeping in touch: all rooms have satellite TVs, phones and modem points.THE BOTTOM LINEStandard rooms cost Â£110, junior suites Â£150 and executive suites Â£180. Breakfast is an extra Â£7.50.I’m not paying that: Glasgow Youth Hostel (7-8 Park Terrace, 0141-332 3004; .uk) has en suite rooms from Â£10.50.. I t’s a simple law of economics: what goes up, must come down. But property seems to baffle even the most ingenious of soothsayers, businessmen and economists.
One day, the headlines read: “House prices slowing”, the next: “Property faces a fall”, and a week later: “Homes boom continues” One fact is inarguable, however. House prices in Britain are high and are likely to remain so for some time. It’s a simple law of economics: what goes up, must come down. A swelling network of lenders is now offering more than 4,000 mortgage products to lure today’s smarter borrower, while more than 200,000 buy-to-let landlords are using their new assets to bring in a second income or to prop up an ailing pension.But recent research has uncovered a more intriguing fact. Faced with a UK property price rise of 23 per cent in 2002, young, single people and first-timers are linking up to make their latest buys. A survey by the Council of Mortgage Lenders shows the number of mortgages taken out by pairs of friends or relatives almost doubled between 1997 and 2001. And last year’s figure is likely to be higher.Property, as we all know, can be unpredictable.