New around here?

Whether you’ve just caught me on Channel 4’s ‘Holidays Secrets: Is Last Minute Best?‘ or have stumbled across me another way, let me take a moment to say hello, my name is Chelsea and I’m a bit obsessed with searching for cheap holidays.

First things first, make sure you’re following me on Instagram, Twitter and YouTube for loads of cheap holiday tips.

I’ve got a new site in development at the moment so for now, let me show you a few posts that may help you save money on your next holiday.

You can also check out some discounts on your favourite brands here too!

I also do a weekly holiday hotline on Instagram where I ask you guys to submit your requests and then I go in search of the best deal for you.

You can check out the findings of my last hotlines here.

I also love capturing my own cheap holidays over on YouTube.

And I also post deals on my Twitter too.

Lastly, I offer even more travel perks to my Patreon followers including hotel upgrade templates, behind the scenes footage and access to my exclusive Instagram stories.

Thanks for stopping by – say hello and tell me where you’re hoping to travel to this year!

Can I visit Japan in cherry blossom season on a budget?

Welcome to the new and improved Holiday Hotline!

From now on, I’ll be selecting just one holiday query a week but I’ll be going IN on it, and covering all the bases.

If you want me to help you in the future, make sure you’re following me over on Instagram.

THE REQUEST

So, Amy’s been in touch, and here’s what she’s after.

  • Japan
  • End of March
  • Cherry blossom season
  • 2 people
  • Flying from Manchester
  • 2 weeks
  • £1500 each

As someone who visited Japan last year in cherry blossom season and booked it all pretty last minute – not advised, by the way – I know that this can be done!

Cherry blossom season is always super popular – with both tourists and the Japanese – and you can check out the best dates to visit the different areas here.

For 2020, Tokyo’s supposed to start flowering from 21 March and be in full bloom by 27 March.

But be aware that last year it came early and so it’s not quite an exact science!

I was so lucky as I found our flights for just £258 (ridiculous, I know!) and so the first hurdle is gonna be getting Amy to Tokyo on a budget…

Let’s do this.

FLIGHTS

So, as Amy wants the end of March, it does make things a bit pricier (it’s getting close to Easter!) so as a quick aside, if you can fly between Thurs 12th – Fri 27th March, you’ll pay £133 each less.

But anyway, onwards!

Tues 24th March to Tues 7th April
Manchester to Tokyo
Nippon Airways / Swiss Air
£670 each

£670 may not seem a great price initially but actually, according to the stats on Google Flights, it’s not too shabby at all!

There is also a £469 flight on the 29th March yet the connections are a total horror show. But… I guess an option if you love flying and long layovers???!


What about other airports?

Alright, alright, I suppose I can help a few others out as well.

London – Tues 24 Mar – Tues 7th Apr – from £370 each

It does involves a long layover in Shanghai both ways but they do have a 72 hour visa pass for people in transit and there are plenty of hotels in and around the airport for that overnight layover on the way home!

There’s also this option with much shorter layovers for £433 each.

If you wanna fly direct, the best price is from Mon 16th for £780 but if you want to go later on like Amy, it’s going to set you back £979 each!

Edinburgh – Tues 24th Mar – Tues 7th Apr – £706 each

It does involve a 19 hour layover in Amsterdam on the way out but it’s timed really nicely for you to enjoy an evening there and get up with loads of time for your early afternoon flight.

Inverness – Tues 24th Mar – Tues 7th Apr – £630 each

Another long layover in Amsterdam on the way out but again, a nice excuse for a quick trip there too!

Cardiff – Tues 24th Mar – Tues 7th Apr – £695 each

Once again! KLM with their Amsterdam breaks!

The hilarious thing is that if you were to fly direct from Amsterdam on all of these KLM flights it would cost MORE than any of these listed above. How does that even make sense?!


RAIL PASS

Normally I’d move onto accommodation but for exploring Japan, the rail pass is a very important component.

But first of all, what is it exactly?

The Japan Rail pass – also known as the JR Pass – is a special discounted ticket available for tourists. It offers unlimited travel on trains operated by Japan Railways Group and includes the high-speed service known as the Shinkansen, or the Bullet Train.

Prices – correct as of December 2019

TypeJR Ordinary PassJR Ordinary PassJR Green Pass
(First Class)
JR Green Pass
(First Class)
DurationAdultChildAdult Child
7 day£200£100£268£134
14 day£319£160£433£217
21 day£408£204£563£282

Can you find a discount? No. There aren’t any, so don’t waste your time looking for one (I did).

For a two week trip, I think 7 days feels too short and 14 feels too long but I think if you’re trying to save money, think about doing a stint in Tokyo either side of your travels (that’s what we did!) so you can go for the shorter pass.

However, I’m going put Amy down for the full whack – £319 each – just to cover all bases (and because I love to make life difficult for myself).

There’s no set website to buy your rail pass on – a load of third parties do this – but I can personally recommend Japan Travel Centre as they offer free delivery (they also offer free pick up if you’re in London which is what I did).

Top tip: You cannot reserve seats on most trains outside of the country so make sure you head to a travel centre when you arrive to get a seat! You’re travelling at peak times so it’s deffo worth doing this. More details are here.


ITINERARY

I swear I’ll get to accommodation next but more important is to first work out where you want to go.

There are loads of great two week itineraries available online – one of my fave things to do is to look at a professional tour and then try to recreate it – but for the purpose of this challenge, I’ll be following this:

25th – 29th Mar / 4 nights / Tokyo
29th Mar – 1st Apr / 3 nights / Kyoto
1st Apr – 3rd April / 2 nights / Hiroshima
3rd April – 5th April / 2 nights / Osaka
5th – 6th April / 2 nights / Tokyo

This is loosely based on my own journey but do your own research and see what you fancy.


ACCOMMODATION

Here we go then! We finally made it!

As the flight arrives in a day later, we actually need to find 13 nights accommodation for this trip.

Given that the total for flights and a rail pass is already £931 each (jeez) this means we have £519 each left for places to stay.

That’s just £43.67 a night each.

Can we do it?

YES WE CAN!


Hold on a second…

Before we get into this, what I found was the best way to keep to budget in Japan was to change accommodation every couple of nights or so. This allowed us to explore new areas, work around a hotel’s busy calendar and also save money on some nights and splurge on others.

Due to this, I’d also recommend packing light. I actually only took my 45L Patagonia rucksack and James took a small wheelie case and a backpack. It made it so much easier.

Please be aware that Japanese rooms are MUCH smaller and if you’re staying in an Airbnb, it can feel pretty basic, but it’s a great insight into how many live in the city. Plus, make sure you check out some pod hotels because they are AMAZING/BIZARRE AF.

My top advice would be to get on trivago, enter your dates and just see what you can get for your money.

I’ve done some searching for you, but please do see the following places as a pick’n’mix selection!


Tokyo

Andon Ryokan – £84 a night / £42 each
Pssst – make sure you’re signed in to Booking.com as the price can go down more!

Traditional Ryokan style (you sleep on fold out futons on the floor) but with a modern twist – and a cracking breakfast included too!

Take a look at when we stayed there here!


ONE@Tokyo – £94 a night / £47 a night each

More western in style but with smaller rooms to keep the budget down.

Take a look at when we stayed there here!


9h nine hours Askusa – from £15 each

Yes, you do sleep in there.

Bizarrely, the price is often cheaper for men than women on the same night. It can also fluctuate from night to night and as you have to fully check out in the morning, I’d only recommend this as a first night or last night in an area. But a great experience!

Check out when we stayed in this type of capsule in Kyoto here!


Airbnb – £45.50 a night / £22.25 each

Not used Airbnb before? Get £25 off your first stay here!

It’s not looker, but if you’re wanting to save money and have more space than a pod, it’s not a bad price!


Airbnb – £70.75 a night / £35.37 each

Not used Airbnb before? Get £25 off your first stay here!

Teeny tiny, and in the traditional style, there’s not even room to swing a cat but with close transport links to Shinjuku, it may be just right for you!


Booking.com Apartment – £80.50 a night / £40.25


Book Tea Bed Ginza – £30.50 each

Book lover? Sleep amongst your favourite stories! How cool is that?!


Kyoto

The Millennials – £43.33 a night each

One of my most fave places I’ve ever stayed! It’s a pod hotel – but high tech with boutique hotel vibes. And a free beer hour!

Check our my written review here, or watch the video here.


Urban Hotel Kyoto – £77.67 a night / £38.84 each


The Celecton Kyoto Horikawa Sanjo – £65.66 a night / £32.83 each


Airbnb – £64.66 a night / £32.33 each

Not used Airbnb before? Get £25 off your first stay here!

Set in a hillside artist residence, you’re slightly out of the city and amongst Kyoto’s beautiful greenery here! But don’t worry, it doesn’t take long to travel central (they also have free bikes!)


Hiroshima

We didn’t go to Hiroshima but I wished we’d cut our Osaka trip slightly shorter to include it so that’s why it’s here.

WeBase Hiroshima – £64 a night / £32 each
Psst – remember to sign in to your account, you may get a cheaper price!


Nest Hiroshima – £79.50 a night / £39.75 each
Psst – remember to sign in to your account, you may get a cheaper price!


Airbnb – £62.50 a night / £31.25 each

Not used Airbnb before? Get £25 off your first stay here!


Osaka

Sonezaki Luxe Hotel – £71 a night / £35.50 each


Airbnb – £45 a night / £22.50 each


Airbnb – £59 a night / £29.50 each


PHEW!

So much for only choosing one hotline a week to save time – I think that was the most epic holiday search I’ve ever done!!

But I hope it goes to prove that Japan definitely can be done on a budget EVEN when the flights are coming through pricey.

I hope that helps Amy and whoever else is planning a Japanese getaway!

Wanna say thanks?

If I’ve helped you out, or you fancy getting access to more perks (and more holiday hotlines!) then you can also support me over on Patreon for the price of a really average coffee once a month.

Also, make sure you’re following me over on Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.


Want my help?

To be in with a chance of getting your request selected, make sure you’re following me on Instagram where I’ll give you a weekly reminder to get your request in.

Until next time!


I have used some affiliate links throughout this article. They don’t charge you more, but if you book through them you’ll be helping me to continue my cheap travel booking hobbies. TA PALS!

British Airways Flash Sale – Verona and Nice for just £24

Oh yes, two of my favourite words.

Flash sale.

Today, British Airways have announced a flash sale on flights to and from London Gatwick. They’ve got over 200,000 seats up for grabs for £30 or less each way based on a return fare for journeys until 29th March 2020.

So, what have they got on offer?

Nice from £47 return

I cannot think of this place without recalling a VERY OLD episode of BBC’s ‘Wish You Were Here’ where he visiting and repeated the line ‘Nice is nice‘.

Just googled. That episode was on in 1999.

Christ alive.

ANYWAY.

You can find your own deals here, or perhaps some of these work for you?

Click to book!

Verona from £47 return

Home of star crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet, Verona holds many charms beyond its links to Shakespeare.

You can find your own deals here, or perhaps some of these work for you?

Click to book!

Amsterdam from £52 return

I can’t believe I STILL haven’t been to Amsterdam on holiday and for this price, it’s gonna be hard to say no. In fact… HAND ME MY PURSE.

You can find your own deals here, or perhaps some of these work for you?

Click to book!


There are loads more deals including:

Make sure you book by Tuesday 5th November and as always, let me know where you decide to go!


Like going away for less? Come join me over on Instagram, YouTube and Twitter for even more cheap holiday tips, tricks and travel hacks.

Instagram

YouTube

Twitter

holiday hotline – cheap christmas markets, 4 star berlin hotels, £26 Kiev flights and cheap mini-moons to Naples

It’s time for the latest holiday hotline – a weekly affair where I go in search for the best bargains out there for you.

If you want to be involved in the next one, make sure you’re following me over on Instagram where I post the request on my story!

But less about future hotlines, more about this one!

ONWARDS!


THE REQUEST: Christmas Market Weekend Getaway

From: London
To: Anywhere
When: December
People: 2

Coming in at number 6 on the ‘Best Christmas Markets in Europe‘ list is Poznań  in Poland.

Not heard of it?

Don’t worry. All you need to know is that they’ve got a cute af Christmas market in their old market square and the average pint of beer costs £1.68.

SOLD.

FLIGHT

London to Poznań 
Fri 13th – Sun 15th Dec
Ryanair – small hand luggage only
From £46

Though I much prefer the timings on this flight which is £81.

ACCOMMODATION

The great thing about Poland is that you can get so much for your money! Check out these two amazing Airbnbs for a starter.

White Apartment
2 nights for £70 total
(Get £25 off here if you haven’t used Airbnb before!)



NEW Apartment
2 nights for £80 total
(Get £25 off here if you haven’t used Airbnb before!)

And with cheap Airbnbs also come cheap hotels!

PURO’s range of hotels are always chic and the one in Poznań is no different!

PURO Poznań Stare Miasto
2 nights for £130 total

So, a weekend getaway in a top 10 Christmas Market destination from just £81pp?

WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR BBZ?!


THE REQUEST: Boxing Day Flights to Moscow

From: London
To: Moscow
Dates: Leaving 26th Dec and coming back end of Jan
Budget: £200pp
People: 2

FLIGHTS

London to Moscow
Thurs 26th Dec – Thurs 30th Jan
Wizzair – small bag included
From £167 each

You can also fly on Christmas day, returning on the 30th Jan for £138 each.

Please note: you will need a visa to visit Moscow which will cost around £100 and will need to visit their visa centre in either London, Manchester or Edinburgh and allow for at least 20 business days for it to process so do it sooner rather than later! There is also an urgent option but it will cost you a lot more. Here’s the info you need as a British national.


THE REQUEST: Christmas getaway from Manchester

From: Manchester
To: Anywhere
Date: Leaving 24th Dec
Duration: 3-5 nights
Vibes: Fun!

Fun you say?

Well, there’s no place quite as fun as Berlin!

FLIGHTS

Manchester to Berlin
Tues 24th – Sun 29th Dec
Ryanair – small hand luggage only
easyJet – carry on case
£99 each

You can also return on the Saturday for £96 each.

ACCOMMODATION

Amazingly, the hotels are much cheaper than Airbnbs during this period so why not treat yourself?

Here’s my top picks.

Boutique Hotel i31
5 nights for £387 total / £77 a night
Save an extra 5€ with the code 2020DIRECT

Leonardo Hotel Berlin Mitte
5 nights for £320 total / £64 a night

Max Brown Kudaam
5 nights for £417 total / £83 a night
(but you can also book with a more well known site for £479 total)

This is the hotel that James and I stayed at this summer and we loved its cool, boutique vibes and most importantly the AMAZING breakfast place downstairs. The best bit about staying is that you can ring down to reserve a spot and not have to wait in their huge queues!!

However, if you fancy having your own space so that you can properly enjoy a cosy day in on Christmas Day, here’s a cute Airbnb that may suit too!

Berlin Neukölln 
5 nights for £469 total / £94 a night
(Get £25 off here if you haven’t used Airbnb before!)


THE REQUEST: December Trip to Kiev for 2

From: Birmingham/Manchester or London
To: Kiev, Ukraine
When: December
People: 2

FLIGHTS

The cheapest flight I could find was this bad boy:

Manchester to Kiev
Mon 9th – Fri 13th Dec
£26

There’s also this cheap option over a weekend from London.

London to Kiev
Weds 11th – Sun 15th Dec
From £47

There are also options with just Ryanair, or just Wizzair for a couple of pounds more.

ACCOMMODATION

2 Bedroom Apartment
4 nights for £232 total / £58 a night
(Get £25 off here if you haven’t used Airbnb before!)

Eco Wood Apartment
4 nights for £186 total / £45 a night
(Get £25 off here if you haven’t used Airbnb before!)

THE REQUEST: January mini-moon in Naples

From: Luton or Heathrow
To: Luton
When: 3 nights in January
People: 2

FLIGHTS

London Luton to Naples
Thurs 9th – Sun 12th Jan
easyJet – small carry on included
£65 each

ACCOMMODATION

First, let’s take a look to see if there are any cute (and romantic??) Airbnbs.

The Little House
3 nights for £192 total
(Get £25 off here if you haven’t used Airbnb before!)

BINGO!

HOW CUTE IS THAT?! (And just £64 a night? Yes please!)

I also love the look of this place for £63 a night, and this place for just £59 a night!

However, since this is for a mini honeymoon, let’s see if we can also find a great hotel choice.

Artemisia Domus
3 nights for £334 total
Breakfast included

Fancy the best room in the hotel? It’s £165 a night for the King Suite with spa bath!

LUSH.


That’s everything fo this week’s holiday hotline.

Once again, I’m so sorry if I didn’t get to yours this week but make sure you’re following me over on Instagram to get involved with the next one!

If I’ve helped you out, or you fancy getting access to more perks (and more holiday hotlines!) then you can also support me over on Patreon for the price of a really average coffee once a month.

Until next time!


I have used some affiliate links throughout this article. They don’t charge you more, but if you book through them you’ll be helping me to continue my cheap travel booking hobbies. For full transparency, I earn about 10p if you book a flight through a link so… Yeah, I’m rolling in it la!

holiday hotline #8 – £116 Krakow trip, Budapest in October, £302 flights to New York and a FAILED group getaway to Amsterdam

If you haven’t heard of the holiday hotline before, it’s something I do over on my Instagram stories where I ask you for what cheap getaway I can help find for you.

As I can only get to a few every week, I’ve decided to include how I go about finding deals so that even if you weren’t picked, there will hopefully be something here to help you with your own booking.

Well, as long as you don’t want a group trip to Amsterdam…

More of that coming up!


THE REQUEST: CHEAP Winter weekend getaway FROM MANCHESTER

From: Manchester
To: Krakow/Finland/Latvia/Slovakia
When: Jan/Feb weekend
People: 2

FLIGHT

Manchester to Krakow
Fri 7th – Sun 9th Feb
Ryanair – small hand luggage only
£84

If you’d like a bigger bag, you can also fly with easyJet and Jet2 for £111 who both allow a carry on case.

Not interested in Manchester? Here’s where else you could fly to that weekend:

London – from £42
Liverpool – from £104
Glasgow – from £136

ACCOMMODATION

As Krakow is so good on the pocket, I always like to make the most of it by staying a lush hotel that I normally couldn’t afford. 


PURO Kraków Kazimierz is that rare partnership of incredible style and incredible value, coming in at just £53.50 a night.

If you book with Hotels.com (who are currently offering the cheapest rate), you’ll also collect 2 nights stay as part of their loyalty programme. Once you’ve collected 10, you’ll get a free reward night!

However, if you’re wanting to keep the budget down, check out this cute little Airbnb instead which is just £32 a night.

You can get £25 off here if you haven’t used Airbnb before!


Between two, that means you could have yourself a cheap getaway from just £116 each!


THE REQUEST: GROUP GETAWAY TO AMSTERDAM

From: Liverpool
To: Amsterdam
When: 14th May
Duration: 4 nights
People: 10
Budget: £300 each

FLIGHTS

Liverpool to Amsterdam
Thurs 14th – Mon 18th May
EasyJet – who still allow small suitcases in hand luggage. Hurrah!
From £59

Note: this price is for 8 travellers – unfortunately you can’t book 10 at a time on Skyscanner though interestingly, this price is cheaper than booking for just 2 people by a few quid!

Top tip: Most airlines will do group bookings and whilst unfortunately it’s for a minimum of 15 for easyJet, it’s definitely worth keeping in mind as most give you the option to confirm the names of all your passengers last minute. This can be slightly more costly than if you booked in advance, but it can really take the stress out of organising big groups.

ACCOMMODATION

Now, I’m a bit nervous about trying to find a place for ten people as Amsterdam is NOTORIOUSLY SPENNY when it comes to places to stay.

This isn’t because it’s a super expensive destination, it’s just really popular and places get booked up fast, thus driving the price up so my biggest tip if you want to visit is book sooner rather than later!

From a quick look on Airbnb, I could see that there was absolutely nothing coming in under budget for a large group.

By thousands of pounds 😬😬😬

Well, apart from this which looked very promising but after clicking through the pictures I stumbled on this:

Do not trust anything that directs you away from Airbnb! This is totally against the rules and I wouldn’t be surprised if this gets pulled sooner or later.

I did find this Airbnb which comes in just over budget but boy, it looks a bit bleak for the money… I mean, where are the windows??!

Anyway, on with the search!

Next, I went over too hometogo which is like the trivago of holiday rentals – it searches loads of different sites including Airbnb, Homeaway and Booking.com, and brings you all the options in one place.

However, that wasn’t bringing up anywhere either!

Definitely me and not a stock image model thinking about how bad I’ve become at finding cheap holidays…

Time for PLAN B!

I’ve headed over to Booking.com’s apartments and what I’m looking for are smaller apartments that are in the same complex.

The only thing I found that could work was Cityden The Garden Amsterdam South – but if you haven’t clocked it from the name, it is 30 minutes from the city by public transport.

For 2 x two bedroom apartments (each has a sofa bed as well), the total cost would be £182.50 per person for 4 nights for ten people.

It looks lovely, but it seems quite far out, doesn’t it?

What about if we tried to find hotel rooms instead?

Just sneaking in – in budget – is the ibis Amsterdam City West. Whilst it’s still not super central, you’re not far from a metro that will get you to the main train station in a couple of minutes.

Selecting 2 x triple rooms and 2 x double rooms comes in at £221.80 a night each for 4 nights for ten people.

As a bargain hunter, I’m still not completely satisfied so my last search will be at the complete opposite that Sarah was looking for.

Hostels.

This time hopping over to hostelworld, where I find Clinknoord. A very well rated hostel in a fairly central location.

A 10 bed dorm with private bathroom for £179.30 each for 4 nights for ten people.

Jesus wept.

I’ve spent about an hour looking and these are genuinely the best deals I can find. So, do I have any final thoughts?

Yes.

Just go somewhere else.

🤣🤣🤣

If there’s one thing I can’t stand is paying a lot of money for something not that good.

Spending just 5 minutes looking at alternative options, I’ve already found flights from Liverpool to Barcelona for £91 and numerous apartments in the centre of the city that easy house 10 people.

See!

£217.20 each

All prices reflect accommodation only and other options:

£169.10 each

£164.74 each

£152.20 each

If you’re adamant that you want to go to Amsterdam – then find the accommodation first. Go to Airbnb and whack in your amount of guests without the dates. Find what you want and then check to see if it’s in budget, and when it’s available.

Then check for flight prices.

I hope that’s been on some help!!!


THE REQUEST: OCTOBER BUDAPEST WEEKEND FOR TWO

From: London
To: Budapest
Dates: 11th – 14th October
People: 2
Budget: £200

FLIGHTS

London to Budapest
Fri 11th – Mon 14th Oct
Wizzair – small hand luggage only
£107

But pssst, you can fly the 12th – 15th from just £53.

Accommodation

Budapest is yet another great city for getting great value out of your hotel, so let’s take a look at that first.

Heading to trivago, it does let me know that the Friday and the Saturday are more expensive than usual, so it may be that Airbnb is the way to go – but let’s see what we can rustle up.

The Malmaison Hotel Andrassy Budapest is extremely well rated and costs £90 a night.

Plus, as the cheapest price is with Hotels.com at the moment, you’d earn yourself 3 nights on their loyalty rewards programme where you get your 11th night for free.

However, I don’t think anything is gonna beat this BEAUTY from Airbnb which costs just £50 a night including fees.

(You can even get £25 off here if you haven’t used Airbnb before!)

Check out those high ceilings!

Between the two of you, that brings your three night trip to Budapest in for £182 each.

Okay, time for one more!


THE REQUEST: 50TH BIRTHDAY BREAK IN NEW YORK

From: Manchester
To: New York
Dates: April
Duration: 5 nights
People: 2
Details: 4* – it’s ma birthday innniiitt (okay fine Angela didn’t add that bit)

FLIGHTS

For this, I want to show you a brilliant function that Google Flights has.

As you can see above, once you pop your dates in, you can toggle the duration of the trip at the bottom which will really easily show you the best prices for the month you’re after.

THANK YOU GOOGLE.

So I’m going to go for the trip starting on the 22nd April et voila, a direct fare to New York with Virgin for just £319.

(Shit, people are going to start to realise that my cheap holiday skills aren’t that difficult to grasp… 🤣)

However, whilst Google have done the hard job for us here, they don’t always show the cheapest prices and so my next step is to put the dates into Skyscanner, and this is what comes up.

£302?!! YES PLEASE.

The reason Skyscanner is able to offer this cheaper is because, as you can see above, you’re actually buying from a third party. They are the exact same flights that you could book direct with Virgin, it’s just that these companies often offer discounts to entice you in.

Skyscanner do vet all their third party companies and clearly show how customers rate them.

I’ve used them many times before and have only once had an issue when the price had increased and so they returned my money. In hindsight, I should have known it was going to happen as the fare was half the price of what everyone else was offering 🤣 (god loves a trier!)

Okay, so we’ve got the flight, now onto…

ACCOMMODATION

Now, Angela wants 4* and as someone who’s often cursed the prices of nice hotels in New York, I’m gonna do something a little rogue here…

🎉 CUE PACKAGE HOLIDAY 🎉

Since our flight is with Virgin, it does make me wonder if Virgin Holidays will have a good deal for these dates…

The cheapest deal is at Row Nyc for £912 per person (other sites list it as a 4 star but Virgin use their own rating system).

To work out if that’s a deal, we need to pop to trivago and whack in the same hotel.

Once I click through, I can see that Travel Republic are offering the room for 5 nights for £857 – which once split between two and added to the flight price comes in at £730.50 per person.

FFS VIRGIN HOLIDAYS.

I WAS ROOTING FOR YOU.

WE WERE ALL ROOTING FOR YOU.

Goddam you Virgin Holidays.

However, before we call it a day, I want to see if I can find a slightly nicer hotel for Angela.

ANGELA’S 50TH DESERVES MORE THAN A 6.5 RATING OKAY?!

So this time sticking to trivago, I’ve whacked in the dates and used the filters to find us a 4* hotel with at least a 7.5 guest rating.

A Queen Room at the Westgate New York City is coming in at £148 per night on loveholidays (it’s £267 on Booking.com!)

That’s £672 pp in total for the whole holiday.

A double room at Renaissance New York Hotel 57 is £152 a night.

That totals £682 each for 5 nights and a flight.

And finally, this Queen Room at Hotel Indigo Lower East Side New York is just £185 a night if you book through loveholidays.

This hotel is GORGEOUS – check out the photos on Booking.com (in my opinion, they have the best gallery!) and also check out how much more expensive it is if you book with them 👀

This would cost £764.50 each for everything.

Have a great 50th birthday, Angela!


That’s everything fo this week’s holiday hotline.

Once again, I’m so sorry if I didn’t get to yours this week but unfortunately the business of finding the best deals isn’t quick work!

Remember, you can get involved in the next holiday hotline by simply following me over on Instagram and looking out for it on my stories.

Until next time!


I have used some affiliate links throughout this article. They don’t charge you more, but if you book through them you’ll be helping me to continue my cheap travel booking hobbies. For full transparency, I earn about 10p if you book a flight through a link so… Yeah, I’m rolling in it 😂

holiday hotline #5 – cheap Christmas Markets, budget Reykjavik accommodation and September sun in Biarritz

It’s time for this week’s holiday hotline where I ask you to submit your requests via Instagram and I go on a search for you.

If you’re not following me already, head on over and you can be part of the next one!

Let’s see what we’ve got this week.

REQUEST: Family European Christmas Markets for less than £150 each

So, for today’s main Holiday Hotline deep dive, we’re getting festive. Yes, in June. But I’m all for people getting their plans together for some super cheat Christmas Market getaways.

So, let’s hear what Fiona is after:

  • European Christmas Markets
  • 28th Nov – 1st Dec 2019
  • From London Stansted (and flight back not too late)
  • 2 adults & 2 thirteen year olds
  • Flight & accommodation needed
  • £100 – £150 each

I’m gonna give Fiona two options. One will be a well established Christmas Market, the other will be less known – but cheaper.

Option One

For this, I went straight to European’s Best Destinations ‘Best Christmas Markets in Europe 2019‘ list. Seeing Tallinn as number one, I got VERY excited however there are no direct flights for Fiona’s dates. BOO.

So instead, I’ve opted for the capital of Czechia, Prague, which is sitting snugly at number 9.

Prague Christmas Market

Important: the main Christmas Market in Prague does not open until Saturday 30th November 2019 HOWEVER, the Prague Castle Christmas Market opens from 23rd November 2019 and there’s so much to see and do in the capital at all times of the year so I’m sure Fiona will find plenty to see and do!

Flights

Flying from Stansted, there are loads of flights to choose from for as cheap as £57 each! However, I’d personally either go for the £69 flight (to make the most of the first day) or the £107 flight (for great flight times there and back that mean no early mornings!!)

London Stansted to Prague
Thurs 28th Nov – Sun 1st Dec
From £57

Accommodation

As Fiona is looking for 2 adults and 2 teenagers, I think Airbnb is the perfect choice here.

I found this gorgeous apartment with great reviews which is within walking distance to both the Old Town and Wencelas Sq where both of the main Christmas Markets are.

What’s more, you check yourself in with a lockbox meaning that you don’t need to plan your day about meeting someone at the apartment.

Airbnb
2 bedrooms – 3 beds – 1 bath
£75.34 a night – £225 total
(you can get £25 off here if you haven’t used Airbnb before!)

So, for flights plus this apartment, Fiona would be looking at a price from £113.25 each for three nights in one of the top 10 Christmas Market destinations in Europe. Bargain!

Option 2

For our next option, we’re going off piste and exploring the less known – but suitably festive – Christmas Market in Wroclaw, Poland.

Wroclaw Christmas Market

inyourpocket.com

Opening on 22nd November 2019, Fiona will be able to enjoy the markets straight away and having spoken to a friend who used to live in Wroclaw, she said the main square looks pretty magical come Christmas time!

What’s more, Poland is ridiculously well priced and so your money will go really far here.

Flights

Again, a few choices but I’d go for the third one down if it was me to make the most of the trip!

London Stansted to Wroclaw
Thurs 28th Nov – Sun 1st Dec
From £45

Accommodation

You can definitely find cheaper (this newly listed £38 a night 2 bed for instance) but I just had to share this apartment which is just SO BEAUTIFUL – especially for the price!

Airbnb
2 bedrooms – 4 beds – 2.5 baths
£244 total – £81.34 a night
(you can get £25 off here if you haven’t used Airbnb before!)

With the £60 flights and accommodation, that comes out at £121 each for 3 nights.

If Fiona is really hoping to save money, however, there are a few one bedroom options (complete with sofa beds) that could work both for her group and for her pocket.

Urban Apartments
1 double and 1 sofa bed
£93 total – £31 a night

Design Apart Centrum
1 double and 1 sofa bed
£124 total – £41.34 a night

With the cheapest flights and the cheapest one bed apartment, this 3 night trip could end up working out at just £68.25 each!!

Right – I think we’ve got time for a couple more…


REQUEST: Christmas Markets in Estonia

Another Christmas Market request! You lot are getting well festive.

  • Christmas Market 2019
  • Estonia please!!!

Since we’ve already discovered that Estonia’s capital, Tallinn, has been named as the number one European Christmas Market destination for this 2019, I thought it was worth finding out when would be the cheapest time to fly.

European Best Destinations

Tallinn Christmas Market
Open: 17th November 2019 – 6th January 2020

There are direct flights from both London and Edinburgh, so let’s take a look at what deals we can find there.

2 night getaways from London

Weds 20th Nov – Fri 22nd Nov – £50

Weds 27th Nov – Fri 29th Nov – £52

Weds 4th Dec – Fri 6th Dec – £65

Sun 8th Dec – Tues 10th Dec – £68

Mon 9th Dec – Weds 11th Dec – £55

Weds 11th Dec – Fri 13th Dec – £55

Sun 15th Dec – Tues 17th Dec – £88

Mon 16th Dec – Weds 18th Dec – £73

Tues 17th Dec – Thurs 19th Dec – £79


3 night getaways from London

Fri 22nd Nov – Mon 25th Nov- £56

Fri 29th Nov – Mon 2nd Dec – £66

Fri 6th Dec – Mon 9th Dec – £66

Fri 13th Dec – Mon 16th Dec – £82


3 night getaways from Edinburgh

Fri 22nd Nov – Mon 25th Nov – £74

Fri 13th Dec – Mon 16th Dec – £119

Fri 20th Dec – Mon 23rd Dec – £112

Accommodation

The great news is that Estonia will feel really affordable versus costs in the UK and so I think it would be a great opportunity to stay somewhere lush.

Searching for the dates Fri 13th Dec – Mon 16th Dec, I found:

Park Inn by Radisson Central Tallinn
3 star
£61 a night

Hilton Tallinn Park
4 star
£88 a night

Or, if you want somewhere cheap (but still lovely!)

Airbnb
1 bedroom – 2 beds – 1 bath
£46 a night
(you can get £25 off here if you haven’t used Airbnb before!)

Opting for the Airbnb means you could bag yourself a 3 night Christmas stay in Tallinn for two from just £123 each.


REQUEST: Reykjavik accommodation in December

Next up is a request from Boudicca who’s after:

  • Reykjavik accommodation
  • 19th – 22nd Dec

Having returned from Iceland back in March, I’ve got a bit of a feel for what kind of accommodation there is on offer in Iceland’s capital.

  • Guesthouse
    • A great option if you’re wanting to save money as many have free breakfast and shared kitchen facilities so that you can prepare food for the day ahead
  • Hostel
    • Don’t baulk just yet – many offer private rooms and offer a vibrant bar with plenty of happy hour deals. Plus, many have kitchen facilities too.
  • Hotel
    • Often at a similar price to the two above but you may not get any of the extra facilities that can help when you’re saving money. And if you want somewhere fancy, expect to pay a lot!
  • Airbnb
    • There are plenty of Airbnbs but for your own place, expect to pay more than an average hotel! But worth a browse as plenty of guesthouses and private rooms are on here too.

Here’s a couple of good value options I found for Boudicca’s dates:

Hlemmur Square – Hostel
Private Room with private bathroom
Shared kitchen
0.5 miles to city centre
£72 a night

If you’re willing to spend more, this place has also got some really beautiful rooms that still allow you to embrace the fun that comes from staying at a hostel, and the shared kitchen facilities for saving money down the line.

Hotel Reykjavik Lights – Hotel
4 star
Free breakfast
1.7 miles from city centre
£66 a night

Now, Boudicca didn’t actually mention a budget so let’s go WILD and throw in a pricey but alternative option too.

Harbour View
Cabin with a view
£245 a night

These are a 22 min drive north of the airport (and 5 miles from the Blue Lagoon) and are luxury cabins that offer a view over the harbour in Grindavik. They also have plenty of space saving gadgets so if tiny houses are your kinda thing, this place is for you.

Yes, it’s pretty pricey but hey, what’s wrong with a big of cabin porn to peruse for fun?! If you are interested in spending your hard earned cash on a night here, I’d recommend giving Matt D’Avella’s video of them a watch.

Another hotel that I absolutely DROOL over is the Ion Adventure Hotel which is a 50 min drive from Reykjavik set in the middle of nowhere.

But at £299 a night… Perhaps we’ll just stick to looking at it online.

REQUEST: 5 night sunny September getaway for under £250pp

I couldn’t not pick Becky’s request after she sent the most beautifully laidd out summary of what she was after. Just look at it:

So, I’m thinking FRANCE. I’m thinking COASTAL. I’m thinking:

BIARRITZ

Biarritz is a popular beach resort right at the bottom of the west coast of France. Wiki calls it ‘elegant’ whilst it also retains a youthful edge as a major surfing destination.

What’s more, my Mum and Dad go all the time and say it’s lush.

Case closed.

In September you can still expect an average temperature of 24 degrees and you’re also just a 45 min drive (or bus!) to San Sebastian in Spain which is revered for its food. What a great day trip that would make!

London Stansted to Biarritz
Weds 11th Sep – Sun 15th Sep
£40

Thanks to those cheap flights, that leaves us with just over £400 to find some nice accommodation for 5 nights.

Hôtel Le Saphir
2 star – very well rated
Twin room with patio
Next to the beach
£75.60 a night – £378 total

Studios Régina
Serviced studio apartment
1 double and 1 sofa bed
Close to the beach
£70.60 a night – £353 total

Airbnb
1 bedroom – 1 bathroom
Fantastic central location
Self check in
£59 a night – £295 total
(you can get £25 off here if you haven’t used Airbnb before!)

Picking the Airbnb, this trip would be just £187.50 each for Becky and her mate.

Smashing.


That’s it for this week’s holiday hotline. If I didn’t get you then I’m SO SORRY but blimey, there was a lot of you to get through and I hope I can help you out in the future.

If you fancy being involved with the next one, make sure you’re following on Instagram and checking on my stories.

Until then!


I have used some affiliate links throughout this article. They don’t charge you more, but if you book through them you’ll be helping me to continue my cheap travel booking hobbies. For full transparency, I earn about 10p if you book a flight through a link so… 🤣

holiday hotline #3 – summer in Ljubljana, European mini moons, £150 family accommodation, cosy UK stay, Dublin departures & Seville group stays

Once a week, I open up the holiday hotline to see what travel queries I can answer from you guys.

So let’s see what’s on the cards this week!

THE REQUEST: 3-5 nights in Ljubljana in July or August

Will got in touch and gave me the following brief:

  • Ljubljana
  • Flights & accommodation
  • July/August
  • 3-5 nights
  • Based in Shrewsbury but can fly from anywhere

Slovenia’s capital, Ljubljana, is getting some real traction at the moment and with the average cost of a pint coming in at £2.20, I CAN SEE WHY!

There’s lots to see and do in the city and you’re also not too far from the devastatingly beautiful Lake Bled!

Flights

Since Will is coming from Shrewsbury, his nearest airports are Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield and Birmingham. Unfortunately, only Manchester flies direct and DAMN it’s expensive (and only once a week). However, I have found a couple of cheap one stop options from Manchester – albeit with lengthy layovers in Brussels.

£108

£125

However, the best prices for direct are – you guessed it – from London.

3 night trips

London to Ljubljana
Fri 16th Aug – Mon 19th Aug
£112

London to Ljubljana
Sun 14th July – Weds 17th July
£98

4 night trips

London to Ljubljana
Mon 15th July – Fri 19th July
£103

Top tip: Skyscanner has a great calendar view that normally shows really easily the cost of a return flight, HOWEVER, it was not playing ball with this combination and kept showing up blank dates.

Therefore, I headed over to Google Flights instead which was much clearer in its prices.

It’s a great tool, just once you find the cheapest option, do check the dates on Skyscanner and Momondo once more to check you’re getting the best price.

For Will’s query, I’m going to go for the 3 night trip between Sun 14th July – Weds 17th July for £98.

Let’s crack on with the accommodation!

Accommodation

First of all, let’s take a look at a central apartment.

With Airbnb, the average entire home is coming in around £103 but I’ve found this cute and well rated studio for just £73 a night.

Airbnb
£219 total for 3 nights
(you can get £25 off here if you haven’t used Airbnb before!)

If he fancies something lighter, brighter and with a balcony, I also found this home for £85 a night.

Airbnb
£255 total for 3 nights
(you can get £25 off here if you haven’t used Airbnb before!)

There’s also two separate beds should he be travelling with someone he’d rather not share a bed with 😂

Lastly, let’s have a quick look at hotels.

As always, I recommend hopping over to trivago and using the filters to help narrow down your results. For this, I’m selecting 3 star+, a guest rating of 7.5+ and near the city centre.

Quickly I found the 4 star Grand Hotel Union which is super central, extremely well rated and £97 a night including free breakfast.

Grand Hotel Union
£291 total for 3 nights

Another great find is this 4 star hotel that’s just £78 a night and even includes breakfast.

Central Hotel
£234 for 3 nights

However, if Will’s wanting to keep the budget small, there’s also this super affordable option which is just 850 yards from the old town, is very well rated and is just £53.33 a night.

AURA Guesthouse Ljubljana
£160 for 3 nights

This means that this 3 night getaway could cost Will and his travel partner as little as £178 each – not too shabby, eh?


THE REQUEST: September mini moon with beautiful views

Joanne asked for:

  • Mini moon
  • September
  • Beautiful views
  • Nice food
  • Europe

I’ve been lusting after this hotel for AGES so please Joanne, go live out my dreams for me!!

Gillham Vineyard Hotel
Cyprus
Adults only (the mini moon dream????!)
Rates start from £114.47 and come with breakfast and a bottle of wine
Half board options are also available

The restaurant on site is great, and you’re not too far to head out in a hire car to explore what other foodie options Cyprus has to offer! I’d recommend looking at the Rose Suites which come with their own balcony overlooking the vineyard – and the great news is that they’re not even the most expensive type of room!


THE REQUEST: Family accommodation for £150 total in school holidays

So this next one for Abbie is TOUGH! She’s after:

  • Between 25th July – 31st August
  • 3-7 days
  • 2 adults and 2 kids
  • £150 all in

I tried using Ryanair’s fare finder but the closest cheap flight I could find in this date range was £33.80 return to Dortmund in Germany which would have only left £14 for the accommodation…

So it looks like it’s going to be a UK stay!

Whilst this is a super tight budget, the good thing is that you can search ‘United Kingdom’ on Airbnb and then bring down your budget.

I’ve popped in £50 a night and here’s what I’ve found that wasn’t a tent in a field (honestly way too many of them on Airbnb???)

Airbnb – 2 double rooms
Tillicoultry – 20 min drive from Stirling, Scotland
£46 a night
(you can get £25 off here if you haven’t used Airbnb before!)

Airbnb – 2 double rooms
Blantyre – 20 min drive from Glasgow, Scotland
£46 a night
(you can get £25 off here if you haven’t used Airbnb before!)

Whilst this one has no reviews yet, this is a great way to bag a place for a cheaper price as the cost is usually low as they try to get their first bookings!

Another great website to try searching is hometogo which is the world’s largest holiday rental search engine.

Unfortunately there wasn’t anything available coming in at under £50 a night – but it’s definitely one worth checking in the future if you’re after an apartment or villa. Airbnb is not the only option!

My last search was on trivago as it could be that we could swipe a family room for a good price!

Holiday Inn Aberdeen West
Aberdeen, Scotland
Queen room with sofa bed
£43 a night

Hampton By Hilton
Aberdeen, Scotland
Family room with free breakfast
£50 a night

Holiday Inn Express Stafford
Stafford, England
Family room with free breakfast
£54 a night

Okay, perhaps Aberdeen and Stafford aren’t the most ‘traditional’ holiday destinations, but both would serve a great base for exploring the area!

CURVEBALL

Now these don’t work for the exact dates but house sitting can mean totally free accommodation so if you wanted to get out of the UK, this may be a good option to look into.

I’ve used Nomador twice before (it’s free to sign up and message three owners) and from a quick peruse I’ve found two housesits in France that could work a treat. One even has its own pool!

Normandy housesit with pool – 20th July – 27th July

Parisian apartment – 25th July to 5th Aug

Here’s all my tips on bagging that free house sit!

THE REQUEST: One night cosy UK stay for cheap

This one comes from Roushan who’s after:

  • End of July
  • One night
  • Easy to get to from London
  • Cosy to chill in
  • Super cheap!

If you’re after super cheap, a really good place to look for a cute place is definitely Airbnb as you’re likely to get much more space for your money – and if you’re lucky, you may get an additional living room space to chill out in.

To help narrow down the search, I’ve decided to look for Saturday 27th July 2019:

Airbnb – Farm Home Annex
Stanton near Bury St Edmunds – 1 hr 47 mins drive from London
£49 a night
(you can get £25 off here if you haven’t used Airbnb before!)

B&B in Georgian House
Wymondham near Norwich – 2 hour drive from London
£65 a night
(you can get £25 off here if you haven’t used Airbnb before!)

Airbnb – Studio flat
Thorpe Langton – cute village in Leicestershire – 2 hour drive from London
£64 a night
(you can get £25 off here if you haven’t used Airbnb before!)

Whilst the next options aren’t quite as cheap, they’re much closer to London and they also tick the ‘couples break’ box really well as they both feature on Mr and Mrs Smith – a hotel site that compiles chic stays for romantic getaways.

Aviator
Farnborough – 1 hour 30 mins drive from London
Views across their private airfield
£105 a night

And finally, I’m adding in this one because you can get there via the overground from London meaning you’ll cut down significantly on your travel costs.

The Crown Hotel
Amersham – Zone 6 on Metropolitan Line (peak – £7 / off peak = £4.10)
This was the inn from Four Weddings and a Funeral!
£122 a night

I’ve stayed at this place before and it just serves up so many country pub vibes. I loved it!

Not quite as close for Roushan but still worth sharing are:

Airbnb – Private Room
South Yorkshire
£35 a night

Airbnb – Private guesthouse
Derbyshire
£58 a night

THE REQUEST: Edinburgh to Tokyo trip in April 2020

Liam wanted:

  • Edinburgh to Tokyo
  • April 2020
  • 1 week

Whilst I’ve ran out of time to plan Liam’s whole trip for him, I can recommend staying at The Millennials pod hotel. IT’S AMAZING!

I did a full review with pictures about my stay in their Kyoto hotel and it was just such a good experience.

The Millennials Shibuya
Tokyo
Upcoming rates from £45 a night

You can also watch how our stay went down for yourself!

REQUEST: Hot summer holiday from Dublin

Viv has asked for:

  • Dublin to anywhere cheap af
  • Touristy
  • Flight out Weds
  • July or Aug
  • Warm please

Here’s some flights that might help you on your way, Viv. Lisbon is one of my FAVOURITE cities and it’s really affordable, especially for a capital.

The same goes for Madrid – check out last week’s hotline where I spoke about this more in full!

Palma in Majorca is more of the ‘touristy’ vibe you may be after and if you find yourself your own villa, you could save so much money on food and drink across the week.

Dublin to Lisbon
£88

Dublin to Lisbon
£73

Dublin to Lisbon
£82

Dublin to Madrid
£55

Dublin to Palma
£73

REQUEST: Seville rental for group stay

Sean’s off to Seville with his mates and has already bagged himself some cheap flights. So what does he need?

  • Accommodation for 4 people
  • 5 nights between 4th – 9th Sep
  • 3 beds – no sofa beds
  • Kitsch vibe

This was actually a lot harder than I thought it would be, but here are some great value options that I rustled up:

City Centre Sevilla ARCO MACARENA
£543 total – £135.75 each

This apartment currently doesn’t have many reviews so maybe it’s worth enquiring and asking if they have any more reviews (they may have this listed elsewhere!) before booking. However, what they lack in reviews they make up for in PRICE!

Airbnb
£565 total – £141.65 each
(you can get £25 off here if you haven’t used Airbnb before!)

And whilst the next one would cost £314 each, I couldn’t resist click on this place 😍😍😍

Luxury loft with pool in Seville centre
£1259 total – £314.75 each


And because I couldn’t resist, I did two quick ones on insta as well:

London – Lisbon
Thurs 8th Aug – Sun 11th Aug
£201

And the great news is that unlike Ryanair and Wizzair, TAP still allows 8kg for hand luggage (55x40x20), as well as an additional small personal item- such as a handbag – up to 2kg.

Accommodation wise, Amy was looking for somewhere lux for her and her girls (and didn’t mind paying for the pleasure) so I recommend getting on trivago, whacking in 5 stars and seeing what she can find in budget. I’m also a big fan on the Telegraph’s best hotel lists.

But if their own places is what they’re after, these options are pretty nice too!

Designer Penthouse Apartment
4 bedrooms – 5 bathrooms
£665 a night – £332.50 total each

I initially found this as one of Airbnb’s ‘plus’ range (‘hand picked high quality homes known for great reviews) yet I actually found it on tripadvisor for £400 cheaper across 3 days! (Always shop around!!)

Stylish apartment with terrace
5 bedrooms – 3 bathrooms
£527 a night – £263.50 total each


Lastly, Abi asked about car insurance and my tips are always:

  • Compare costs on Skyscanner
  • Check if local firms are cheaper (you may need to use Google Translate for this!)
  • When chosen, opt for the basic insurance package
  • Buy additional excess insurance from moneymaxim separately – you will save a FORTUNE and it’s fully endorsed by Martin Lewis and his crew
  • We saved £54 by doing this on a recent 4 day car hire in Croatia!

THAT’S A WRAP!

Again, so sorry if I didn’t get around to your request but I hope the above may have given you some tips or offered some general holiday inspo that you may be able to use in the future.

Make sure to give me a follow on Instagram if you want to be involved in the next one – and let me know if you end up booking any of these!

Let’s end with a photo of me drunk, sat in a basket from my holiday in Croatia last week.

Lovely.


I have used affiliate links throughout this article. They don’t charge you more, but if you book through them you’ll be helping me to continue my cheap travel booking hobbies. For full transparency, I earn about 10p if you book a flight through a link 🤣