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!

the best places to drink beer in munich – with local recommendations

Before we crack on with the beer chat, if cocktails are more your thing, scroll down to the bottom for my list of recommendations that come straight from the locals!


Thanks in large part to the city’s larger than life annual beer festival, Oktoberfest, Munich is the go to destination if you’re looking to sink a few pints.

Oktoberfest serves beer from six breweries, coined ‘the big six’ which each brag lively beerhalls, alive with cantankerous singing and the oom-pah-pah of their raucous bands. Each welcome in rafts of tourists hoping to nail the true Bavarian experience.

And whilst we definitely wanted to do this as well, we were also really keen to find out:

  • Who serves the cheapest pint in the city?
  • Are there any microbreweries in the city?
  • Where can you drink beer whilst also enjoying Munich’s trendy bar scene?
  • And what historic pub features a ploy to make newbies buy the whole bar a round after one simple mistake?! (Niche? Never!)

So here we have it then. Our alternative beer tour of Munich:

Augustiner-Keller

Keeping things traditional, we started at Augustiner-Keller which pours the city’s oldest pint (well, not literally). The brew dates back to 1328 when the Augustinian Monks decided to craft a bevvie that was safer to drink that the polluted water at the time. Nice one lads!

Cost = €7,80 for 1 litre

It was a really nice beer – super delicious – and I tell ya, 1 litre at the start sure goes straight to your head!

The crowd was a nice mix of tourists and German families and friends, enjoying lunchtime together. Out of all of the beerhalls, this is thought of as a more ‘local’ experience.

The food was also excellent – proper traditional German fare – and I may or may not have accidentally ordered six sausages… (Back on the quorn when I’m home – honest).

Whilst we visited in Winter, this is a great place to come when the sun is shining as their beer garden has 5,000 seats!

Cafe Kosmos

Next, we headed to Cafe Kosmos which we heard was a great place to nab a bargain beer.

Cost = €1,30 for 0.3 litre.

It wasn’t a particularly special taste but if you’re on a budget, what a winner.

Its ‘rough around the edges’ feel lends to the laidback vibe and the array of Barbie dolls featured throughout were entertaining in the least…

A real local spot with a shit ton of character.

Stehausschank

This place was our favourite.

There used to be a load of standing bars across the city but this is the last remaining and it’s exactly what it sounds like. A bar. Where you stand.

This place doesn’t seem to have any place online but we simply searched this and headed to the place marked on Google Maps. Do not get it confused for one of the new standing bar additions, Giesinger Stehausschank.

Now there’s something VERY IMPORTANT you need to know about this particular bar and that’s on approaching the hatch where you order you beer, do NOT ring the bell next to it.

This is because whoever rings the bell is BOUND to buy every single person in the standing bar a beer. It’s written clearly to the side of the bell, but only in German, so I’d love to know the number of tourists who have got this wrong! Hahaha.

Fortunately, we were saved by a wonderful local who basically shouted ‘DO NOT TOUCH THE BELLLLLL’ as my hand wavered up towards it. What a hero.

They serve Giesinger beer which is NOT one of the big six – but we’ll explain a little more about them later.

Cost = €3,20 for 0.5 litres

We particularly liked this place because it was so tiny, you simply had to chat to the other people there! I’d found out about this place on a Time Out list yet one local said she was surprised to see us in there – so perhaps it’s not quite as popular as the other usual haunts?

Hofbräuhaus

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Ein Prosit

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Here we go then.

Known as the ‘world’s most famous tavern’, Hofbräuhaus is a beer institution and whilst we knew it was a top tourist destination, we still wanted to check what all the fuss was about.

I was particularly wowed by its gorgeously painted ceilings but in all honesty, it was JUST TOO BUSY. 

We did managed to find a table but it took a while to get someone’s attention to order and it was really missing the local feel for us.

Cost = €4,70 for 0.5 litre

It is worth saying that there’s normally a Bavarian band playing music which I’m sure would liven things up – but they seemed to be a on a break when we were there.

I’d still recommend going along, but try and head there at an off-peak time so you can experience it before it becomes overrun! 

Giesinger Bräustüberl

Remember I mentioned that beer that wasn’t part of the big six? Well this is where it comes from!

Giesinger is a smaller, more modern, brewery which makes a whole host of craft beers. Whilst it may not be an official beverage for the yearly Oktoberfest, it’s a brilliant alternative if you’re hoping to sample the city’s wares.

Cost = €3,50 for 0.5 litres 

Having read online that they sometimes turn tourists away over locals, I was a bit nervous on whether we’d get a spot (especially on a Saturday around 6pm) but we got lucky and got the last two seats at the bar. I think the fact that we wanted to eat too, definitely helped.

You can book ahead here, so I’d deffo recommend this as it’s not as central as the other spots (we uber-ed it there in 10 minutes for around 8 euros).

They’ve got a huge choice of craft beers – their own, and many more – so it’s definitely a great spot to check out.

Trisoux

Having necked around 5 pints already, James proclaimed that he was ‘full up’ of beer and so for our next spot, we wanted somewhere that not only served beer, but cocktails too.

Trisoux was recommended by a local via Instagram and it was a really cool bar that was filling up with friends meeting for an early evening beverage or twelve.

Cost = €4 for 0.5 litre

What was great was that the beer on tap was Löwenbräu which, you’ve guessed it, is another big six player so it was a great way to sample that without being squished into a beerhall. It felt quite sophisticated in fact!

James, instead, went for a sherry and soda.

Seriously. 

I’m disgusted.

And thus endeth our alternative beer tour!

Alternative local recommendations

Before you go!

As mentioned above, I did reach out to a few Munich based instagrammers to get their insider tips and the three who got back to me were so helpful.

In general, they all said they avoided the ‘beer’ drinking places but they gave me a raft of bars that they’d hang out in instead.

Here’s what they had to say:

Tobi

Daniel

Charlie

Thank you so much to all three of them for sharing their knowledge – go and follow them to if you’ve found their lists helpful!

the ultimate warsaw guide | practical tips you must know before visiting poland’s capital

This ultimate guide to Poland’s capital will clue you up on transport, accommodation, activities and so much more – so you can spend less time faffing, and more time enjoying your trip!

how expensive is a weekend in warsaw? | vlog

Visiting Poland can be super cheap but what about its capital, Warsaw? Well, we decided to try our best to wine, dine and get cultured with a budget of just £100 each.

Could this be the most affordable European city break EVERRRR??!!

Important to note that we didn’t change our normal holidaying habits to keep this under budget because we wanted to show just how much it would cost to go, explore and enjoy a few treats.

top tips on finding the best black friday travel deals

IMG_5834.JPG#ad #BlackFriday #Expedia

The wonderful thing about being obsessed about finding travel deals is that when a brand you know and love gets in touch and says things such as ‘we’re offering up to 75% off hotels for Black Friday, does that interest you?’ it’s the easiest decision in the world.

So here is a post brought to you by yours truly – and Expedia.

Here’s the deal. On Friday 23rd November at 9am, they’ll be releasing a hotel coupon from here that could see you saving up to 75% off (fan me down, lads).

This can only be used on their app so make sure you’ve got it downloaded and ready to go at 9am before someone else (read: me) swipes a bargain from right underneath your nozzle.

DOWNLOAD ME NOW

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As I’m also in the market for a hotel or two at the moment (when am I not?), I also got thinking about all the things that can help make Black Friday shopping an ease and not an effort. Starting with…

1. Mark your calendar

This year, Black Friday lands on Friday 23rd November however some brands may start to trickle out the deals a few days before and after.

2. Research

The best way to get a good deal is to prepare and have a think about where you’d like to go.

On my list at the moment is:

  • Santiago in Chile
  • Cape Town in South Africa
  • The Azores in Portugal

(so HOLLER AT ME if you see any deals for these come up)

ferdinand-stohr-987490-unsplash
Who fancies a trip to the Azores with me?

So, what we all need to do before Black Friday is research those destinations a bit more:

  • Who flies there?
  • What routes do they take?
  • Will I need a visa?
  • Will I need to get injections?
  • When is a good time to visit?

Sure, you might find a proper cheap flight but if you find out you’re there for monsoon season and your £100 visa won’t even come back in time, you’ll be gutted.

3. Get ready

As you may need to pounce on a deal, it’s definitely worth asking yourself the following questions:

  • How much time can you take off?

Check your holiday allowances and remember, if you haven’t booked Christmas off yet (and you’re on a standard UK full time contract), you’ll need 4 days to take off between 22nd Dec – 1st Jan.

  • Can you get the time off work?

If you’ve got some dates in mind, it’s worth putting some feelers out with whoever controls your holiday allowance. In the very least, check when you definitely couldn’t take time off to avoid disappointment.

  • Who would you go with?

Be it a mate or a date, get them on board now. That, or just embark on your own solo adventure which makes things a hell of a lot easier to organise!

IMG_2412.JPG
I tend to holiday with the ‘housemate’…

  • Do you have everyone’s details?

Get all the travellers passport details ready to go!

  • How much can you spend?

This is really important because sales are EXCITING and before you know it, you’ve plonked £400 on your credit card that you can’t really afford. If you’re travelling with others, agree on your budget, and factor in a maximum price you’d go to if you find something proper lush.

  • Do you have the money?

Most sites will need you to put the full amount onto one card so if you’re going away with someone else, make sure you’ve got enough to cover the cost

4. Bookmark, follow and download

Now you’ve got an idea of where you’re going, it’s time to bookmark websites, follow social media accounts and download apps in preparation.

A good trick on Twitter is to create a list of airlines, hotel groups and comparison sites, which will compile all their social accounts in one place.

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If I was being coy, this is where I’d slip in the old ‘oh, did you know Expedia are up to something fun too?’ trick but I feel like I’ve blown that already. So, all I’m gonna say, again, is UP TO 75% OFF ON THEIR APP! DOWNLOAD IT NOW!

5. Check that you’re actually getting a deal

  • Check the location – nobody wants to stay 25km from where they intended
  • Check the reviews
  • And lastly, check what price it usually retails at

Right, I’m off to limber up for Black Friday morning. Do come and join me on Instagram where I’ll be sharing what I discover!

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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.

go karting around tokyo is a REAL THING

Our first two days in Tokyo included yakitori in piss alley, maid cafes, the golden gai and even a whizz around the city that in no way resembled nintendo’s mario kart…