MT Business Travel: Frequent flyer Dido Harding's guide to Bratislava

HOW TO GET THERE - I fly with SkyEurope. It's cheap, easy and flies from Stansted. EasyJet flies from Luton. It takes just over two hours.

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

AIRPORT TO TOWN - Taxis are easy to get and take 30 minutes - congestion is never a problem. Taxis are metered, and it's always less than £10, so I've never felt ripped off.

BEST HOTEL - The Radisson SAS Carlton 1 (Hviezdoslavovo namestie 3, +421 2 5939 0000, www.bratislava.radissonsas.com) is the best hotel in Bratislava.

It has great views over the Danube and Hviezdoslav square. The Radisson has a beautiful old facade typical of the city's architecture, but inside offers everything you'd expect of a business hotel, such as a good gym and decent restaurants. The Crowne Plaza 2 (Hodzovo namestie 2, 5934 8111, www.ichotelsgroup.com) opened recently, just opposite the presidential palace in the town centre. Next to the Radisson is the Hotel Danube 3 (Rybne namestie 1, 5934 0000, www.hoteldanube.com) - a cheaper, and pleasant, locals' hotel.

BEST BUSINESS RESTAURANT - Bratislava has plenty of international restaurants, serving good food and both local and foreign wines. There are several restaurants that I use for working dinners. Mezzo Mezzo 4 (Rybarska brana 9, 5443 4393), Le Monde 5 (Venturska 1, 5922 7518) and Paparazzi 6 (Laurinska 1, 5464 7971) all offer a surprisingly modern and chic atmosphere and incredibly good value.

BEST CAFES AND BARS - I'm not usually out boozing late, but Bratislava has plenty of trendy nightspots, if that's what you're after. On a night out, the people dress more smartly than in central London. It's not like Prague, with its hundreds of heavy-drinking bars and rowdy stag parties, but there are plenty of chic wine bars and a cafe culture. Bratislava's centre is small - you can walk it across in 15 minutes, so it's easy to explore and find places.

A FEW HOURS TO KILL? - The Danube is a pleasant backdrop for walking or jogging. Bratislava Castle 7 is the city's main landmark, and makes a good first stop. It's a 10- to 15-minute walk from the old town and offers beautiful views of the surroundings. The old centre has plenty of traditional shops and sells a lot of Slovakia's famous glassware, and you can find more modern goods in the city's malls, such as Shopping Palace 8. In November and December, the town's Christmas markets sell a lot of stocking-fillers. With the lighting, crisp air and snow, it's a bright, romantic spectacle.

BUSINESS ETIQUETTE - Slovaks are very entrepreneurial, and the economy is doing well. The city welcomes foreign investment, and big Korean automotive plants, western retailers and global brands are heading to the city. The style of dress and meetings is more formal than in Britain. Slovakia is a traditional country - you see a lot of very smart people on their way to mass, and this attitude trickles through into business. People say what they think, and won't understand subtlety or the long flowery sentences favoured by the English. People are open to western ways and willing to take risks. Be courteous and formal, but direct.

SECRETS OF THE JET SET - Bratislava itself is a surprising jewel - it's like Prague was 15 years ago. The High Tatra mountains are a beautiful spot for skiing, and a nice place to spend the weekend. This is a very unspoilt area with a good deal of history and, as you drive there, you pass big beautiful castles in steep-sided valleys. Don't forget that Vienna is only 60km away - go there for the history or a shopping trip. Wrap up warm for the extremely cold winters, but enjoy the lovely, dry heat of the summer.

- Dido Harding is international support office director for Tesco.

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