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 🤣

the future of how many holidays

I’ve had A LOT of fun embarking on cheap travels for the last two years but what’s next for this channel? Will my cheap travels continue?

Well, I sure hope so. But to keep on going, I’d love your help to spread the word of this channel! And if you’re not subscribed already, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR PAL?!

In return, I promise to upload more. Let’s give this a proper bash, eh?