holiday hotline #2 – aug bank holiday getaways, manchester to barcelona, scottish road trips and cheap new york accommodation

Following the success of. the first holiday hotline (Will is currently planning his trip to Jordan – wahey!) I thought I’d get back on the search to find someone else a proper great holiday for less.

Make sure you’re following me on Instagram so that you know when the next hotline is live!

THE REQUEST: August bank holiday birthday fun – 4 days – somewhere hot

So, this week’s main hotline request comes in from Vicky who’s wanting a getaway over the August bank holiday as it’s her birthday that Friday and her work give her the DAY OFF – what a perk!

Heres what she’s after:

  • Ideally leave on evening of Thurs 22nd Aug
  • 4 days but could take more time off
  • Somewhere hot
  • Going with someone so can share a room

So, where are we going?

Looking at Thursday eve – Monday, there were plenty of options under £50 (including Cologne, Copenhagen, Oslo and Gothenburg) yet none were really giving that ‘hot’ vibe that Vicky was hoping to get.

Unfortunately, flights to warmer destinations such as Lisbon (one of my faves) were starting at £150 so I made the decision to change the return date to Tuesday 27th August instead.

London to Madrid
Thurs 22nd Aug – Tues 27th Aug
£84
(there’s also a flight back at 1310 for £94)

Why Madrid?

As the Spanish capital, there’s so much to see and do but having visited recently, I was really enamoured by the fact that it didn’t come with big city price tag.

With many menu del dia’s (three course lunches with wine – HALLOH) costing less than €10 and €1,20 rides on their well linked metro system, you’ll find that your money goes pretty far in this capital city.

Toledo

As well, with its brilliant connections, you can easily get a train out of the city and visit the UNESCO sites of Toledo and Salamanca, or how about a day trip to Madrid’s Wine Country?

As for the weather, Madrid in the summer gets HOT and August hits an average of 31 degrees – there’s a siesta for a reason. Which is why I think it’s important to find Vicky a hotel with not only some decent air con, but also some outdoor space and maybe, if we’re lucky, a pool.

Where are we staying then?

For this, I simply hopped on trivago and changed my filters to include:

  • Up to £100 a night
  • 3-5 star
  • Guest rating 7.5+
  • City centre location
  • With pool (fingers crossed)

With trivago, I always leave a bit of wiggle room with the price because annoyingly, they only filter based on the price they offer you in bold which is not always the cheapest price out there. That can be found by clicking on ‘more deals’.

Always click on ‘more deals’ for the best price

So, as you can see above, if we’d been looking for a room that cost £85 or less, this option wouldn’t have come up.

SNEAKY.

As Vicky will be staying 5 nights, I’m going to try and find a place around £80 a night so that she and her travel partner aren’t going to be spending more than £200 on accommodation each.

Option 1

Axel Hotel Madrid
£82 a night (£41 each)

  • 4 star with cool, quirky style
  • Very highly rated
  • Rooftop pool and terrace
  • Air con in every room
  • Adults only (no offence kids but HELL YEAH!)
  • Bizarrely would cost you £187 a night if you booked direct
  • Better photos can be found here (Booking.com always create such good picture galleries!)

I wouldn’t have picked up on this at all had I not checked out their own site, but Axel Hotels are a chain that focus on the LGBTIQ+ community who are proudly heterofriendly! They welcome everyone, no matter their sexual orientation, without prejudice which I think is a great business to support.

Option 2

H10 Puerta de Alcalá
£87 a night (£43.50 each)

  • 4 star with super chic decor
  • Very well rated
  • Incredible rooftop pool and terrace (H10 always NAIL this)
  • Air con
  • Again, you can peruse a better photo gallery (in my opinion) here

Option 3

Airbnb – Duplex with terrace in Central Madrid
£74.40 a night (£37.20 each)
(you can get £25 off here if you haven’t used Airbnb before!)

  • Well rated with great reviews
  • Okay so NO POOL – but you do have your own cute terrace
  • The sofa bed means that two adults could have a bed each
  • Air conditioning
  • A kitchen with everything you could need to help you save money on food whilst in Madrid

So how much is this costing?

Based on going with the cheaper hotel, this 5 night birthday getaway will set Vicky back £289.

Which for a long capital city break across a popular bank holiday staying in a well rated, central hotel with a pool seems a pretty good deal to me.

I hope you have the best birthday holiday EVER, Vicky!

Any time for a few more requests?

Sure, let’s razz through a few more.

THE REQUEST: Venice – August bank holiday weekend

You lot are mad for your bank holiday getaways it seems!

Flights to Venice are not cheap but the best deal I could find was flying out later on the Friday and coming back early on the Tuesday morning.

London to Venice
Fri 23rd Aug – Tues 27th Aug
£126

If you can get the time off, you can also fly back on the Tues at 2125 for £134.

Venice isn’t necessarily the cheapest destination and is already pretty booked up that weekend but there’s still some decent deals to be had!

Airbnb – Sky Tower Suite
£65.67 a night (£32.84 each)
(you can get £25 off here if you haven’t used Airbnb before!)

In the same building as a hotel, what it lacks in personality it makes up for with its clean, practical and low cost. The hotel reception also means you can check in 24/7 and you’re just a 10 minute bus from the historic centre of Venice.

Airbnb – Venetian Bridge Private Room
£81.67 a night (£40.84 each)
(you can get £25 off here if you haven’t used Airbnb before!)

Hurrah, we’ve made it over to the main island but it does mean we’ll have to stay in a private room… But it’s a very cute one if that helps?!

Hotel Pausania
£108.33 a night + €21 on check in (£57.17 each)

If you want to be super central, get ready for some proper OLD SKOOL ITALIAN DECOR! Which I personally love. This place is 3 star, well rated and really close to many of Venice’s historic monuments.

THE REQUEST: Barcelona – September. About £500 all in. 3 people from Manchester.

Now this didn’t say how many days, so I’ve gone for a cheeky little long weekend getaway for you!

Manchester to Barcelona
Fri 6th Sep – Mon 9th Sep
£59 each

The Bicycle Apartments
£124.66 a night (£41.50 each)

As I wasn’t sure on what formation the 3 adults would need to sleep in, The Bicycle Apartments have a range of options that would work and if you can stretch to the Design Duplex at £55 a night each, you can all get a double bed!

An 11 min walk from Plaça d’Espanya and has plenty of transport options in its midst.

Total cost = £183.50 each leaving plenty of money for food and fun!

Went went to Barcelona last year and managed to bag ourselves an INSANE apartment for next to nothing so you could try giving Love Home Swap a try too!

THE REQUEST: Booked flights to NYC for 30th November – 5th December… Now to find a hotel? Under £700 please!
Where better to enjoy the New York skyline than in Brooklyn?!

Ah yes. New York accommodation. It’s never fun 🤣

Now, there are some options in Manhattan for around £140 a night but they are – pardon my French – absolute horse shit. And I refuse to recommend anyone stay anywhere so crap!

So instead, I’m going to take us across the East River to Brooklyn. It has easy access over to Manhattan and is a place to visit and enjoy in its own right. In fact, it’s my favourite area of New York!

It’s also particularly helpful if you’re flying in from JFK as it’s the same side of the city.

Henry Norman Hotel £684.28 total

  • Trendy 3.5 star hotel with excellent ratings
  • Greenpoint is another area that’s become a ‘hip’ place to visit in recent years
  • 11 min walk to the G line up to connect to then connect to either the L or the 7 across to Manhattan
  • Also, the hotel provides a shuttle to take you to nearby subway station

Hotel Le Jolie£799 total

  • Basic (but with a modern edge) 2.5 star hotel
  • Very well rated
  • Williamsburg is an AMAZING part of Brooklyn – full of cool shops, cafes, bars and restaurants
  • Great location – just a 7 min walk from L line over to Manhattan (20 mins to Union Square)

Less nice but cheeeap, is the Bogart Hotel for £519 and much more expensive, but super lovely is the Hoxton Williamsburg for £933.

THE REQUEST: Mid August trip in Scotland. Ending in Glasgow. Car hire, beautiful roads & good value

Okay, there’s a lot to unpack here but here are my headlines:

  • Look into the North Coast 500 road trip. James and I did it in 6 days last summer and it was phenomenal
  • Whilst in many places you may have no choice, but always choose B&Bs over hotels. Much better value for money and the breakfasts are EPIC!!!! Check Airbnb too for B&Bs
  • For car hire, Skyscanner is great at giving an overview but also check Turo – it’s like Airbnb but for people’s cars!
  • Also, if you’re very lucky you may be able to relocate a campervan from Edinburgh for £1 A DAY with Spaceship Rentals! The only problem is you’ll probably have to return it to London… But hey, did I mention the £1 a day??!
  • We also ended our trip in Glasgow and went all out by staying at the Dakota hotel. It’s not cheap but we got their Friday night offer (can only be booked via their website) where we both got a cocktail, £25 each towards dinner, a cooked breakfast and a LUSH ROOM for £200 (£100 each). It was a total treat but I would absolutely recommend it, especially after a week of B&Bs!!
Dakota Glasgow
THE REQUEST: More drunk videos of James

Hahaha. We’re off to Croatia on Wednesday so I’m sure there will be more to come. But for now, skip to 37 seconds to keep you going.

This is from the FIRST VLOG I EVER MADE!!! #classicdrunkjames


So, thats it for the second every holiday hotline! I’m so sorry to all the people I didn’t get to – I do hope I can help you out in the future.

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

£5 flights to gothenburg

I know I say this all the time but I genuinely wasn’t planning to go away but when I stumbled across some £5 flights to Gothenburg (cheers Ryanair), I simply could not resist!

That and James had NEVER been to Scandinavia before so we basically HAD to go. Right?!

Now, all things Scandi are known for being chic and… Well, bloody expensive. But the good news is that Gothenburg is probably one of the cheapest places you can visit if you want to get your Nordic on.

Finding your own £5 flights is super simple – watch from 1 min 39 secs to find out how!

cheap christmas market weekend getaways from london

Christmas may only be 6 weeks away but if you’re hoping to amp up your excitement with a festive weekend break, there’s still time to bag a bargain.

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All deals listed are:

  • 2 night weekend breaks – Fri to Sun or Sat to Mon
  • Decent flight times that allow at least 1.5 days in your chosen city
  • Based on 2 people travelling
  • Less than £150pp for flights and accommodation

First up, we’re taking a look at deals from London. Make sure you check back throughout the week to also find deals from other areas on the UK!

(Prices last updated on Monday 12th November at 7:30am)

30th Nov – 2nd Dec

Warsaw, Poland 

  • Christmas markets start: 24th November 2018
  • Poland is great value – the average cost of a pint is £2
  • As Poland’s capital, there’s lots to see and do around the city!

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Flight – £73pp

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Airbnb – £48pp

  • City centre studio apartment
  • Great reviews
  • Not booked with Airbnb before? Sign up here to get £25 off your first booking

Total cost – £121 per person 


Sat 1st Dec – Mon 3rd Dec

Toulouse, France

  • Christmas markets start: 23rd November 2018
  • Held in the heart of Toulouse, at the famous Place du Capitole
  • Airport is just a 18 minute drive from the city centre

Screen Shot 2018-11-11 at 21.24.01.pngFlight – £21pp

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Hotel – £81pp

  • Le Grand Balcon Toulouse
  • 4 star city centre top rated boutique hotel
  • You could find even cheaper hotels or Airbnbs but this is a great deal!

Total cost – £102 per person


Fri 7th Dec – Sun 9th Dec

Bucharest, Romania

  • Christmas markets start: 1st December 2018
  • Yes, you’ll pay more for your flights but you’ll spend a lot less when you’re there – we’re talking £1.50 a pint!
  • As the capital, you’ll have plenty to see and do

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Flight – £94pp

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Airbnb – £41pp

  • Just a 10 min walk to the Old Town (and 23 mins from the market)
  • Brilliant reviews
  • Not booked with Airbnb before? Sign up here to get £25 off your first booking

Total cost – £135 per person


Sat 8th Dec – Mon 10th Dec

Bremen, Germany

  • Christmas markets start: 26th November 2018
  • No one does German markets like the Germans, right?!
  • Bremen airport is super close to the city centre – only 10 mins away!

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Flight – £34pp

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Hotel – £95pp

  • Maritim Hotel and Congress Centrum Bremen
  • 4 star city centre and well rated
  • I do prefer a more modern hotel but for the location and the fact that most places (even Airbnb) is super booked up, it’s a good deal!

Total cost – £129 per person


Fri 14th Dec – Sun 16th Dec

Copenhagen, Denmark

  • Christmas market starts: all will be open from 17th November 2018
  • Often featured in top 10 lists of the best markets in Europe
  • Make sure to visit the city centre amusement park Tivoli which looks incredible at Christmas – park entrance will cost you 110DK (around £12) and then you pay extra for rides

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Flight – £67pp

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Hotel – £97pp

Total cost – £164 per person

FINE I WENT OVER BUDGET ON THIS ONE – but it does have free breakfast so… Can you let it slide??!

If you want something fancier than a 2 star, you could also try this lush 4 star hotel for the same price but it is a little further out. However, Copenhagen public transport is very good.

FINAL OPTION: you could also fly to the Danish city of Aarhus on the same dates for a mere £35! The flight times are mint too and, having visited twice before, I can imagine Christmas on its cute, cobbled streets being proper magical.


Sat 15th Dec – Mon 17th Dec

Gothenburg, Sweden

  • The second largest city in Sweden has plenty to offer – including the fact that it’s a hell of a lot easier to get to from the airport than its capital (if you’re flying cheap, that is!). The centre is just a 30 minute bus shuttle away.
  • Another Scandi country with a festival amusement park! Visit Liseberg for artificial snow and over five million fairy lights (110 SEK – around £9.50)

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Flight – £46pp

Gothenburg Hotel.jpg

Hotel – £91pp

  • Scandic No 25
  • The room may be on the cosy side but this hotel is well rated and in a great location
  • Free breakfast – this will definitely help in pricey Sweden!

Total cost – £137 per person


If you do end up booking any of these deals – or finding an even better one of your own – then please, let me know!

As well as commenting below, you can also find me on Twitter and on Instagram.

London done – Manchester deals are next!


watch related videos:

James and I visited the Christmas markets in Timisoara, Romania last year and for a two night break for two adults with B&B accommodation, flights, airport transfers, a three-course meal, coffee, mulled wine and cake spent the grand total of… £92.10 each.

I AM NOT JOKING.

how to stay in a €1,000,000 holiday apartment | barcelona wedding vlog

What’s even better than going on holiday and living like a local? Going on holiday and living like a LUXURY LOCAL!

Our apartment in Barcelona was stunning – and here’s exactly how you could stay here yourself for a whole lot less money than your average hotel.

ENTER STAGE LEFT: Love Home Swap!

This is the second time we’ve used Love Home Swap (remember that insane New York apartment with the Emmy Award? Yeah, that one was one of them too) so to say we’re impressed is a total understatement. I really love how not only the quality of homes on the site are proper BANGIN’, but also that there’s nice ‘community vibes’ – because no one’s there to make money out of you. Everyone’s just after the same thing – somewhere nice to stay.

In this video, I’ll break down how we found this particular apartment and how we used Love Home Swap’s clever ‘points swap’ feature to stay. We also go to our friends’ incredible Barcelona wedding, get a chronic hangover (standard) and properly explore the neighbourhood of Eixample.

my 5* stay at the sofitel st james and how you can stay luxe for less

I often get asked what I prefer when I go away – a hotel stay or a short term rental.

And whilst I love having a a full size fridge to store my 2 euro wine (what, that’s not the first thing you buy when you’re on holiday?!!), I’ve really started to appreciate a night or two at a super lush hotel.

That’s why when Booking.com asked if I fancied staying a night at the Sofitel London St James I had to enforce the ’10 min text back rule’ as to not scare them off by going ‘OF COURSE I BLOODY DO I’M OUTSIDE ALREADY CAN YOU LET ME IN PLZ BBZ’.

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Being a mere 35 minutes from my usual place of residence, this was definitely more of a ‘staycation’ but a quick google summarised the hotel’s 5 star credentials (restaurant and bar – tick, spa – tick, Hermès toiletries – TICK) meaning that this mere jaunt across town warranted a full face of makeup, a coiffed bouffant and an IRONED TOP (huge feat).

On arrival, the doorman took our bags and I had around 3.7 seconds to come up with my new ‘I always frequent 5* hotels’ alias (Tamara, interior designer, wears jodhpurs on the weekend).

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We were given a Luxury Room (the hierarchy of rooms goes Classic – Superior – Luxury – Premium Luxury) and all you need to know is that the bed was HEAVEN ON EARTH. James had to do a bit of a high jump backwards spring to get on and I thought I’d nearly lost him in the marshmallow folds at one point.

The next morning, we swanned down to breakfast and I was made up over the Veggie Fry Up (£14 – not too bad for a central London hotel) which someone had actually given some thought to. The sweet potato hash brown and overloaded avocado on toast were veggie brekkie EXCLUSIVE. Other breakfastaries (real word) take note.

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Being INCREDIBLY CENTRAL (basically the Queen’s neighbours) and pretty plush, this hotel ain’t the cheapest. In fact, when I rang up reservations to ask what price their rooms start at, I unwittingly entered a volley of dead end questions and was told “unless you know the date, I can’t tell you a price”. Thanks love.

Booking.com, however, were a little more forthcoming and online it states that ‘prices for upcoming dates start at £331 per night’.

Sofitel St James Booking.com

For someone who loves a good deal, that’s a lot of money (hell, I think I did three holidays for that last year) but more and more I’ve found myself planning getaways where I’m happy to stay somewhere less flash if it means that I can go all out for the last night or two.

So, what are my tips for staying somewhere glam AF without breaking the bank?

  1. Stay on a Sunday – with the weekend tourists packing back off home and the business breaks yet to begin, Sundays can often be the cheapest night of the week.
  2. Off peak – stay in a quiet period. For example, my Ma and Pa, always go away on the 1st January (it’s their anniversary the day after) and they always bag a great deal. Talk about starting the new year right.
  3. Book cheap and blag an upgrade – heading to a nice hotel but got the cheapest room? Story of my life. If blagging an upgrade doesn’t work (I speak about how to do this here), then try asking at the desk if there’s anything available. I tried this on a recent work trip to Mexico and managed to get a suite with late checkout for just £30 extra.
  4. Get a discount – if you haven’t used it already, you can still get £25 off your next stay at booking.com by using my referral link – I don’t get anything by you using the link, it’s just an actual, real life legit way for you to save money. As long as it’s over £50 and you haven’t used a referral code before (mine or anyone else’s), it’s an easy way to make your next luxuuurrrioussss stay that bit more affordable.

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The suite life

As always, let me know where you end up booking (or if you score any amazing 5* hotel deals) as I shall always endeavour to holiday vicariously through you all!


Booking.com gave me the room (THANX GUYZ!) and, having not written anything more than a YouTube bio in a while, I decided to blog about it. Therefore, here lie my honest thoughts, feelings and advice for you to enjoy your own luxury stay! 😄

the recap | most drunk, biggest fail & best accommodation

Do you remember at the end of each series of Friends where they did their ‘and here’s our best bits’ episode? Well, this is basically that.

Featuring most drunk, biggest fail and best accomm – oh, and James attempts to do the non-handed shot one last time…

WHY DOES THAT BOY NOT LEARN?!!

april short breaks for less than £150pp

My holiday withdrawals are too much.

So, to take the edge off, I’ve decided to do a monthly round up of some of the great getaways on offer in the coming months.

We’re talking weekend breaks (1 day off maximum) with decent flight times and well rated accommodation.

All prices will be based on two people sharing a room and I’ll tend to recommend hotels just so that you have a place to store your luggage before and after check in.

I’ll also be flinging in some NON-LONDON (😱) options every single month.

Right! Let’s kick things off with April.

FROM LONDON

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Where?

Copenhagen – the capital of Denmark

When?

Saturday 21st April – Monday 23rd April

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*Note that you’ll fly from Stansted and come back to Luton.

How much?

£36 with Go To Gate via Momondo, or you can buy directly with Ryanair for £44. Remember to use a private browser!

Where should I stay?

66 Guldsmeden

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  • 3 star
  • Close to the city centre
  • In Vesterbro, Copenhagen’s fashionable meat packing district
  • Great ratings
  • £113 a night via iloveecohotels

Total cost

£149 per person

Why Copenhagen?

Great food, great architecture and bloody lovely people. I recommend checking out Torvehallerne food market, Kanal Cafeen for smørrebrød and Tivoli for the world’s most aesthetically pleasing amusement park!

FROM LIVERPOOL

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Where?

Ibiza – Spain’s party island (before the party kicks off!)

When?

Sat 21st – Mon 23rd April (also available the weekend before for £2 more)

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How much?

£38 with Go To Gate via Momondo, or you can buy directly with Ryanair for £40.

Where should I stay?

OD Ocean Drive

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  • 4 star
  • Close to Ibiza Town
  • Great ratings
  • Roof terrace with sea views
  • Breakfast included
  • £99 a night via loveholidays

Total cost

£137 per person

Why Ibiza?

Ibiza’s clubs don’t open until May so if that’s what you’re after, hold off. However, spring is an amazing time to visit as the island is blooming into life. There’s plenty of restaurants still open if you base yourself near a main town and you’ll be blessed with near empty beaches when you go exploring. What’s more, with an average temperature of 18°C, it’s a great place to reacquaint yourself with a little bit of sunshine!

FROM GLASGOW

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Where?

Olhão – a small fishing town that’s just an 18 minute taxi journey from the airport

When?

Fri 20th April – Sun 22nd April

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How much?

£90 – I found the rate on Skyscanner, but you could also book direct with Ryanair

Where should I stay?

Hotel Cidade de Olhão

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Worth a mention also is Real Marina Hotel & Spa which would send you a whopping £7 over your budget – but it comes with breakfast and is a 5 star spa hotel 💅🏻

Total cost

£148 per person

Why Olhão?

Before going to Olhão for the first time, a Portuguese friend laughed and said ‘why on earth are you going there?’. Unlike its neighbouring Algarve towns, Olhão is not a tourist hotspot. Instead, you get a small fishing town that’s full of character and great, fresh food. Make sure you check out the local fruit and fish markets and take the ferry out to Culatra, a large sand bar island with a charming small village vibe. If you’re after loads to do, this isn’t the place for you, but if you’re after a chill in the sunshine (average temps are around 22°C by this point), then I’d definitely recommend it.


As well as booking holidays, I also LOVE hearing about them, so make sure to let me know where you end up heading this April!