Yourtime 12 Friday, 18 September 2009 London Lite U ntil recently self-catering holidays always involved creaky beds, mountains of washing up, acres of chintz and dodgy VHS machines. But thats all changing. Welcome to the new world of boutique self-catering -- stylish getaways that come packed with extra features and hotel-style services. these properties are springing up all over the place -- boutique specialist Mr & Mrs Smith say this is the fastest growing part of their business. Want a massage? A roast dinner on Sunday -- and the dishes cleared away? A hot air balloon ride? You got it. Heres our pick of the best... FAMILY FRIENDLY Chaucer Barn, Norfolk tHiS award-winning barn conversion was invented for large group holidays. Set in the norfolk countryside, just two miles from the coast, it has bags of space and the dramatic double-height kitchen is unbeatable for those raucous group lunches. its also practical for children, with seven bathrooms. Best bits: the property comes with a DVD library, full Sky package, X Box, a selec- tion of board games and table tennis. Services: Chaucer Barn provides a wel- come hamper, including fresh cake, norfolk cheeses and farm bacon. Home cooked meals can be delivered for 7 pp. Details: 44 per night based on 18 people sharing. (three-night min in low season. Five-night min in high season) See chaucerbarn.com ENjoY LuxE DEcoR AND A host By Lucie Greene Celebrity hotspot Rio de Janeiro WHO Jessica Simpson films her new TV show on Rios beaches. WHY GO To relax on the beach, party and tour the rainforests. THE VIBE Spectacular nature and a cheerful cultural hub. BEST FOR Copacabana beach, Sugarloaf mountain, Maracna footy stadium. WHERE TO STAY The Fasano Rio (00 55 021 3202 4000), designed by Philipe Starck, is the epitome of modernist luxury. Dont miss the penthouse pool with views of the Atlantic. Double rooms from 264. WHERE TO EAT Enjoy a feijoada (bean stew with meat and sides) at the Casa da Feijoada (00 55 021 2523 4994). Three courses: 17. WHAT TO DO The Jardim Botnico (00 55 021 3874 1808) offers rare glimpses of rainforest foliage, bromeliad and orchid greenhouses. Admission from 2, free guided tours. SOMETHING DIFFERENT Explore the favelas (hillside slums). See favelatour.com.br for details. TOP TIP Avoid going in high season, which runs from December-March. HOW TO GET THERE British Airways (britishairways.com) has round-trip flights from London Heathrow to Rio for 418.80. FOR MORE DETAILS riodejaneiro.com jENNIFER BARtoN LONG BAR, RAFFLES HOTEL, SINGAPORE RAFFleS is synonymous with the Singapore Sling, which was created in its long Bar in 1915. Bar- tender ngiam tong Boon invented the hot pink cocktail, based on gin and cherry liqueur, with more than 2,000 served on a good day here. See raffles.com BAR HEMINGWAY, HOTEL RITZ, PARIS This cosy literary hangout changed its name to commemo- rate former regular Ernest hemingway. Other famous drinkers have included F scott Fitzgerald and Jean- Paul sartre. Cocktail prices have certainly risen since its glory days, with creations by award-winning barman Colin Field costing 27, see ritzparis.com HARRYS BAR, VENICE tHe most glamorous bar in Venice is also the birthplace of the Bellini cocktail. A mix of Prosecco and white peach juice, it was first served in 1948 by Harrys founder Giuseppe Cipri- ani. See cipriani.com EL FLORIDITA, HAVANA AnOThEr hemingway haunt, this watering hole is dubbed The Cradle of the Daiquiri. The cocktail was a favourite of the writer, although he preferred his with twice the rum and no sugar, now served up as a Papa hemingway cocktail, see floridita-cuba.com TOP OF THE MARK, MARK HOPKINS HOTEL, SAN FRANCISCO this 19th floor bar was where Second World War servicemen would go for a drink before setting sail towards the Pacific. to- day its known for its 100 Martinis menu. See inter- continentalmarkhopkins. com EILEEN stRoNG Singapore Sling: Raffles The5best...classiccocktailbars Holiday rentals with 5* service Cool conversion: super-stylish Chaucer Barn Brazil nut: actress Jessica Simpson index.html2.html3.html4.html5.html6.html7.html8.html9.html10.html11.html12.html13.html14.html15.html16.html17.html18.html19.html20.html21.html22.html23.html24.html25.html26.html27.html28.html29.html30.html31.html32.html33.html34.html35.html36.html37.html38.html39.html40.html41.html42.html43.html44.html45.html46.html47.html48.html49.html50.html51.html