can you visit dubai for cheap?

Now that’s a cracking good question, and one I sought to find out after a friend announced that he’d like to celebrate turning the big 3-0 with a trip to Dubai.

I’m not gonna lie, the place has never been on my wishlist (I mean, I have a degree in Ancient History. I like OLD SHIT, y’know?) but I couldn’t bear the thought of being sat at home and seeing pictures of my mates driving around in gold lambos and getting diamonds encrusted in their incisors (okay, okay so I wasn’t 100% on what went down in Doobz at this point).

“Surely you’re not counting it in your holiday challenge?” many have asked but crikey, if I’ve got to squeeze in 10 trips this year I can hardly take a sly trip to Dubai ‘just for the lols’.

Yet the cost. Good lord and gracious heavens above, that place is expensive.

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They have a gold ATM, FGS.

When it came to accommodation, I quickly realised that the housemate and I weren’t going to be able to afford an apartment at the Marriott Hotel and Suites where our mates were staying, so I set out to find somewhere as close as I could.

Fortunately, Dubai is overrun with apartments (I swear twelve blocks went up whilst I was there) so actually, there was a lot of choice and we found a one bedroom place just two buildings down from the Marriott.

I found it on booking.com by using the map search and it came in at a sweet £184 each for 4 nights. (Edit: this apartment is no longer available so I’ve linked something similar!)

It was by no means luxury but it was clean, spacious and in a great location. Though if you like a soft bed, this is not the place for you… GOOD FOR THE BACK THO, INNIT.

It also had a nice pool area and as it was in The Princess Tower, the 2nd tallest building in Dubai, the views from its 102nd floor residents lounge are pretty special (and a hell of a lot cheaper than going up the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa).

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Plus, as Dubai grows, there are more and more budget friendly hotels popping up.

As for the flights, they were cheaper than what I was expecting considering we didn’t have any flexibility on our dates.

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The flight was… Well, I won’t lie, the flight out was AWFUL but that may have something to do with the 5 gins and 2 proseccos I’d necked before the flight (our mate has a MAGIC BANK CARD that got us into one of the lounges for ZERO PENNIES).

It also didn’t help that Qantas really crammed us in there – we’re talking a Ryanair amount of space here, lads – and I had a classic Chelsea I’m-dehydrated-in-a-small-space meltdown.

However, the flight back (after 0 gins, may I add) was much better. Emirates = more space, better food and better service in general.

I managed to book our flights for £279.83 using BudgetAir via Skyscanner but, as these were booked before I decided to be a holiday-going-heretic, we definitely could have flown for cheaper – I remember seeing one stop flights with Turkish Airlines for a sweet £200.

Here’s a quick example of the kind of prices you can get at the moment, using Thursday 21st Sep – Monday 25th Sep as an example:

London Gatwick – £224

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Manchester – £252

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London Heathrow – £255

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But enough about your potential shenanigans, how are the numbers looking for me?

The total cost of my trip to Dubai was £463.83.

Yes, it’s a lot, but don’t you think it makes this whole thing more interesting/ohmygodwhathaveidoneeahhhhhhhh

*slaps self in face with a wet haddock*

It leaves me with £1,075.45 for the remaining 8 holidays which when you break it down, is £134.43 a pop.

Doable. Right?

Well, until I remember that it needs to include a business class flight…

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GODDAMN IT, CHELSEA.

Ibiza, Valencia, Madrid, Porto, Berlin, Athens & Mykonos for £192.50

Have you heard about the trick you can do to get 18 days off straight this April?

Due to a load of bank holidays being either around or on the weekend this spring, you only need to take 9 days off to be free from Friday 14th April 2017 to Tuesday 2nd May 2017.

HolidayPirates found an incredible 7 European city trek for £145 last week, but, whilst I can’t have that huge stint off (WAIL), I wanted to see what could be done if we threw in a couple of beach destinations as well. Mostly because the thought of doing 7 major cities has me reaching for the compeeds… (WHAT A SEXY VISUAL).

Right, let’s kick this bad boy off.

IBIZA, SPAIN

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Saturday 15th April – 3 nights – 16°C

First up is Ibiza.

Whilst the party season hasn’t quite kicked off yet, the beautiful scenery and great food more than make up for it and are a perfect way to ease yourself into 2 and half weeks of jaunting around Europe.

Screen Shot 2017-01-31 at 14.55.51.pngLondon Stanstead – Ibiza
1725 – 2105
Ryanair
£20

VALENCIA, SPAIN

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Tuesday 18th April – 1 night – 20°C

It’s only a quick 45-minute flight over to Valencia to enjoy a one night stay and time to take in some of the city’s best bits.

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1240 – 1325
Ryanair
£26

MADRID, SPAIN

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Wednesday 19th April – 2 nights – 17°C

It can be easy to focus on flights but with all the faffing of getting to the airport and checking in, it’s always worth taking a look at where you can go by train as well.

In just 1 hour and 38 minutes, you can reach Madrid for 2 days of exploring the Spanish capital.
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Valencia – Madrid
1410 – 1548
Renfe (via trainline eu)
£18.50

 

 

The tickets for the 19th haven’t been released yet (they will be very soon!) so I’ve used the prices for the week before.

PORTO, PORTUGAL

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Friday 21st April – 3 nights – 20°C

After the winter rains, Porto is looking LUSH, making it the perfect destination for spring.

3 nights means you can explore the city, take a boat trip and also visit Foz beach.

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Madrid – Porto
0920 – 0935
Ryanair
£21

BERLIN, GERMANY

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Mon 24th April – 2 nights – 14°C

After a beach day in Porto, it’s time to head back to a big city to check out the museums and galleries in Berlin. Oh, and to test out all those cracking beers as well.

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Porto – Berlin
1635 – 2050
Ryanair
£28

ATHENS, GREECE

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Weds 26th April – 1 night – 20°C

Next, we’re heading back south for an evening in the Greek capital of Athens.

Berlin – Athensscreen-shot-2017-01-30-at-23-56-19
1300 – 1655
Ryanair
£26

MYKONOS, GREECE

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Thurs 27th April – 3 nights – 20°C

And in the spirit of not doing too much on holiday, it’s only right that we finish this whole thing off with one last beach stop in Mykonos.

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Athens – Mykonos
1400 – 1450
Ryanair
£15

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM

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Sunday 30th April – 8943894379 nights – 15°C

It can often be pretty sad when it’s time to come home but DON’T WORRY, you’ve still got May Day Monday off to wind down/do all your washing/start planning your next holiday.

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Mykonos – London Gatwick
1305 – 1500
easyJet
£38


So, how have we done?

Well, in just 16 days we’ll have visited 7 different destinations for the total cost of £192.50.

Aye, that’s not too shabby. Not too shabby at all.

holiday one: winter sun weekend break for less than £170

As I sat down to get my booking on, I had three things in mind.

  • I wanted to go somewhere new
  • I wanted to go some warm(ish)
  • I wanted to go somewhere for 2 nights

I was also planning on going with the housemate, James, so everything I’d be searching for would be for two.

So with a quick stretch of my most prominent key-tapping fingers, I set forth, loose in the wily heaths of the world wide web.

Here’s how I got on:

 

1. Flights first

I bloody love Skyscanner because its nifty search tool allows you to search ‘everywhere’ when you’re not sure where to go, and ‘cheapest month’, when you just want a good deal.

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This time, I knew my dates so just used ‘everywhere’.

After sifting through many a cold (but cheap) destination, I settled on Valencia.

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Total cost – £61.98 each (yes, I really am counting that 2p!)

Tip – Whilst there certainly are last minute deals to be had, deals were pretty thin on the ground 10 days before. I saw some incredibly cheap flights (£38) to Cyprus at the same time just 2 weeks ago!

Booked with easyJet (via Skyscanner)

Cashback – No monies for easyJet, but we’ll let it slide… This time…

2. Getting to Gatwick

Since our flight is leaving Gatwick at 7:10AM, I’d rather put my head into a bag of wet prawns that leave the house at half three on a Saturday morning. Therefore, I had a quick look for a cheap hotel at the airport itself et voilà!

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The BLOC hotel is actually IN THE TERMINAL. As in, roll out of bed, brush teeth, do 12 lunges (how else do you think I maintain my physique?) and walk through security.

What’s more, some of the rooms look out onto the runway which excited James so much, he asked if we could just stay there for the weekend.

I found a ‘no window’ room for £71 on hotels.com, but after hitting up trivago which is a great tool for comparing prices, I found one with a window for £67 on a site called Amoma. What’s more, when I checked if it did cashback, I saw that there was a 5% off code as well. Screen Shot 2017-01-24 at 16.45.46.png

Total cost – £32.78 each

Tip – Always use a comparative site such as trivago to check you’ve got the cheapest price on your hotel.

Booked with Amoma (via TopCashback)

Cashback – 9.2% cashback = £5.95 PLUS a cheeky 5% off code to boot (HOTEL5OFF – expires 31st March 2017).

3. A Valencia hotel worth of an Instagram (or six)

There were a bevvy of beautiful hotels for under £75 a night to choose from, including the highly rated Hotel Vincii Mercat and Vincii Palace.

However, it was two others that caught my eye.

First, One Shot Colon because – well, yes, because of the absolute lolathon the name gave me (and its minimalist but cool decor, great reviews and a bargain price of £50 a night).

But we ended up going for the slightly more expensive Hotel Balandret which has a 4.5 rating on TripAdvisor, and also comes second in The Telegraph’s expert ‘best hotels in Valencia’ list.

It’s also on the sea front (we paid an extra £15 in total to have a sea view) and comes with free breakfast each morning.

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Total cost – £75 each

Tip – Sure, we could have done this bit for cheaper but a few extra pounds has got us a better room and we’ll save money on spends by eating in for breakfast.

Also, the hotel is part of Hotels.com’s loyalty scheme so we’ve banked 2 nights out of the 10 needed to get a free night stay at a hotel in the future.

Booked with Hotels.com (via TopCashback)

Cashback – 9.2% = £8.15


Total cost = £169.72

Total potential cashback = £14.10

As the cashback is only a bonus once it comes through, there’s no deducting it from the final total (just yet) so for now, here’s what we’re left with:

Total left = £1543.29

Holiday one: BOOKED.