If you're planning a visit to Washington, D.C., here's a number to call for toll-free information on hotels: (800) 554-2220. Everything from suites for businessmen to low-budget pads for student groups. Central Reservations Center's Nancy Riker tells us: "We give travelers the kind of help and advice they get from their best friends if they lived in Washington." Riker and her associates provide the service free. Listings of hotels, motels, inns in every corner of the city. Every price category. Central's goal isn't to "sell" a particular property but to steer travelers to lodgings that suite their individual tastes, pocketbooks, Riker says.
A handy pamphlet listing temperatures around the world (month-by-month) is offered free by Grand Central Travel, 5555Madison Ave., New York 10022. A total of 50 cities, Amsterdam to Vienna. Tells, for example, how the highs in Hong Kong range from 62 in February to 88 in August (when that magnificent city swelters with humidity to match the temperature). Grand Central will also mail you a free world atlas depicting 14 individual areas of the globe. It's pocket-size, brings the whole world in miniature to travelers.
Shannon Stump of Visa Travel announces a new reservation service for privately owned condominiums and timeshares. In some cases, rentals are cheaper than hotels, Shannon says. These are resort condos, California to New York. In Lake Tahoe there's a two-bedroom unit that sleeps eight and rents for $425 a week. (Extras include a hot tub, a washer/dryer, tennis, swimming pool, shuttles to nearby ski/casino areas). Contact Stump by calling toll free (800) 331-8400. Outside California the number is (800) 445-5050.
Swissair has published a brand-new edition of its "Kosher Guide to Hotels and Restaurants in Europe." Contains addresses, telephone numbers of more than 120 properties in 22 countries. Pocket-size for easy reference. And it's free. Contact your local Swissair office or write to the Swissair Center, 608 Fifth Ave., New York 10020.
The bed-and-breakfast craze has spread to Florida where a Miami-based company lists a network of homes. Key West to Palm Beach. Others near the Kennedy Space Center, Tampa, Gainesville. In Key West, travelers are put up in a conch house in Old Town (circa 1859). Features a wraparound balcony. The hostess, a retired artist, reportedly "loves company." For a brochure describing properties send a stamped, self-addressed envelope to Bed & Breakfast Co., P.O. Box 262, South Miami, Fla. 33243, or telephone (305) 661-3270.
Meanwhile, a central reservations center has been established in Orlando, Fla., for travelers in need of hotel/resort rooms near Disney World. "We are unbiased, know the area well," says manager Kathy Ortigoza. Call toll-free (800) 322-2220. Inside Florida the number is (800) 235-2220.
Robert S. Zywicki publishes a magazine called The Itinerary that he describes as "the world's only magazine geared to the special needs of travelers with disabilities." Contains hard-to-find facts on destinations, guides, transportation and tour operators who specialize in services for the disabled. Zywicki, a victim of rheumatoid arthritis and a former newspaper editor, is an acknowledged authority on the subject of travel and the disabled. His magazine is published bimonthly. Subscription rate: $7 a year. Write to Box 1084, Bayonne, N.J. 07002.
Sgt. Pepper's singles travel club is sponsoring a five-day, four-night trip to Cabo San Lucas in Mexico. Departing Feb. 14 (Valentine's day), returning Feb. 18 (Presidents' Day). Price: $351.50. Details from Carol Rosner, 9028 1/2 Balboa Blvd., Northridge 91325, or call (818) 893-2728/993-3202. Other trips, monthly socials are in the planning stages.
Portugal--Carol K. Stark, La Jolla: "Enjoyed Bistro Breque in Lisbon, Portugal, Bar Buenos Aires 28-B, Lisbon. Telephone: 607-006. Inexpensive, a fine meal for two including Portuguese wine, under $20. Owner caters to Americans."
New Mexico--Joel Berkovitz, Los Angeles: "A wonderful new restaurant in Santa Fe, N.M., Ali Baba's, 229 Galisteo. Telephone (505) 984-8200. Middle Eastern standard fare. Home-baked desserts including baklava."
England--Mrs. Francis J. Lohr, Los Angeles: ". . .The Pear Tree guest house, Catcott, Somerset, England. Converted 300-year-old farmhouse. Good home cooking, garden produce in season. Rate, 75 (about $87.50) including breakfast and dinner. Easy drive to Bath, Stratford-Upon-Avon, Wales."
Hawaii--Robbie Louise Smith, Pacific Palisades: "A great place to eat at Princeville on the island of Kauai in Hawaii is the Pot Luck at the Princeville Shopping Center. A deli with a difference. Consistently good food, reasonable prices, warm, friendly ambiance. Phone (808) 826-6601."
Seattle--Donald L. Hoelzel, Los Angeles: "Sorrento Hotel, 900 Madison St., Seattle, Wash. Rates: $85/$115. Corporate discounts can be arranged. Complimentary half bottle of wine, fruit and crackers, matchbooks engraved with guest's name, mint on pillow, free copy of the Wall Street Journal, a certificate for a full bottle of wine if you dine at the hotel restaurant."
Belgium--Colman Andrews, Venice: "The Belgian artist Luc Canon, with whom I've been corresponding for several years, is now accepting paying guests at his restored farm in LaHamaide about half an hour's drive from Brussels, 20 minutes from the French border. He promises a modern room with bath, plus food--$35 to $40 a day, all inclusive. Antique furniture, thousands of books and paintings as in a museum. Owner's intention is not to make money, but to help people meet other people."
Europe--Mrs. Barbara Ellenhorn, Claremont: "Recommend Julie Albert, consultant to the independent traveler in Europe. We were most pleased with our trip and appreciate the recommendations and tips from Mrs. Albert. She can be reached at (714) 626-0571 or by writing to 1096 Harvard Ave., Claremont, Calif. 91711.
England--E.L. Dlugensky, San Diego: "Enjoyed a B&B; operated by Audrey and Derek Robson-Smith in a quiet area 10 minutes from Gatwick Airport in England. Only 20 per couple for airport pickup and return, full English breakfast. Address: 22 Roffe's Close, Copthorne, Sussex RH10 3QY, England. Phone Copthorne (0342) 713979."