holiday hotline #4 – cheap group summer sun, Dubrovnik on a budget, Boston for under £500 and luxury Sofia hotels for less

Another week, another hotline!

And if you’re all ‘what you on about Chels?’ then let me explain. Once a week, over on Instagram, I ask you to send in your holiday conundrums and then I go off in hunt of some cheap holiday deals for us all.

So, what have we got this week?

Well, the one thing that I saw a LOT of were requests for group trips this summer so let’s delve a little deeper…

REQUEST: Summer group holiday for no more than £450 each

What’s Holly after then?

  • 5-7 nights
  • 8 people
  • From Manchester
  • Week of August 19th
  • Pool
  • Close to the action
  • Max £450 each

Phew! Holly is wanting a LOT of boxes ticking here but let’s see what we can find for the ultimate group getaway this summer.

Manchester to Faro
Sat 17th Aug to Sat 24th Aug
£126

TOP TIP: Remember when you’re searching for groups to always put in the correct number of travellers. This is because airlines often sell seats in price tiers and so they may only have a couple of tickets available at the cheap price you see in front of you – which gets a bit awkward when you click through to book and the prices suddenly rocket up!

Faro airport is the gateway to the Algarve – Portugal’s southernmost region known for its Atlantic beaches and golf resorts. What’s more, Portugal is really well priced and so you don’t need to spend a fortune once you’re out there as well.

Whilst you’re getting in late and leaving early, you save £59 each from flying at slightly better times.

Also, since Holly requested 5-7 days, this is a good way to get 6 whole none travel days for less. What’s more she won’t feel like she’s wasting money on that first night accommodation because the place I’ve found has to be booked for a 7 night minimum anyway.

ENTER STAGE LEFT:

OH HELLO.

Villa Avios is pretty decent, right?!!

I found this bad boy on Oliver’s Travels which is ‘a website where people can find and book exclusive, luxury chateaux without having to shell out a fortune’.

What I like about Oliver’s Travel is:

  • They only recommend places they’ve actually seen
  • You’ll often find homes that aren’t on Airbnb
  • They offer a best price guarantee
  • They have a free concierge service that can help sort out other aspects of your holiday

Should we have a bit more of a nosey?

So, wanna know how much this place is?

£2199 for 7 nights

That’s just £275 each for a group of 8 for a whole week – and since it sleeps 9, it could be as cheap as £245 each if they could recruit an extra person.

Whilst this villa isn’t quite in the thick of the action as some I found on Airbnb, it is easily the nicest l found in this price range and I was honestly shocked at how cheap it was compared to what else was on offer. Especially for 7 nights.

Also, you’re just a 15 minute drive from Albufeira which has a VIBRANT nightlife meaning if you wanted a big night out, your taxis are not going to cost you the world.

As well, there’s lots to do in the area including beaches, golf courses, mountain bike trails, surfing, water parks, deep sea fishing and scuba diving.

If you’re wondering how you’d even get to Villa Avios, do not fret.

At 40 mins drive away from Faro airport, I’d definitely recommend hiring a car for any stay on the Algarve. Car hire is cheap and there’s so much going on along the coastline that it would be a shame not to explore it.

In a group, I actually think 2 cars are better than one big people carrier as it normally much cheaper (the cheapest 9 seater I found was £530 for the week!), 2 cars will give you more space to cram luggage, and lastly it gives you the option to split up to try out different activities during the week.

So, for flights, accommodation and 2 cars for Holly’s group of 8 mates, the entire trip comes in at £418 each.

JOB DONE!

Right, we’ve got time for a few more quickies.

REQUEST: London to Boston November group trip

Sophie wants:

  • London to Boston
  • 30th Oct – 3rd Nov
  • Accommodation close to the city for under £1000

First things first, the flights.

London to Boston
Weds 30th Oct – Sun 3rd Nov
£270 each (pssst it’s only £255 if there’s only two of you)

We’ve started seeing cheap flights to Boston for a while now but damnnnnn son that’s a sweet ass deal.

Both fares only include a 10kg carry on bag but for a 4 night trip, YOU CAN DO IT. I BELIEVE IN YOU!

If not, it will cost you an extra £35 each way with Norwegian (add your bag separately rather than selecting LowFare+ as that is an extra £50 each way but does include meals and a seat reservation) or an extra £100 return with Virgin (this also gives you a seat reservation and extra air miles).

Now for the accommodation which, knowing America, finding a place for 6 people for 4 nights under £1000 is gonna be TRICKY.

For big groups like this, I do find that you get more value out of booking a holiday rental as three hotel rooms can really add up.

So, I’ve headed to Airbnb and have popped in the dates, 6 guests, selected ‘entire home’ and have specified at least 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms because too much sharing never makes for a nice trip – AMIRITE?

Then, using the map, I’ve zoomed into Boston so I can find something that isn’t too far away.

Straight away, I can see our budget is going to be a struggle. But what can we get that isn’t too far from it?

Airbnb
Dorchester – home next to subway that’s 20 mins to Downtown
3 bedrooms – 3 beds – 2 baths
£278.75 a night – £1115 total
(you can get £25 off here if you haven’t used Airbnb before!)

Airbnb
East Boston – short walk to transport for easy access to Downtown
3 bedrooms – 4 beds (2 are sofa beds) – 2 baths
£291.75 a night – £1167 total
(you can get £25 off here if you haven’t used Airbnb before!)

Airbnb
South Boston close to Downtown
3 bedrooms – 3 beds – 2 baths
£325 a night – £1300 total
(you can get £25 off here if you haven’t used Airbnb before!)

But still, how do we get to that £1000 pricetag?

By taking away a bedroom.

Airbnb
East Boston – Very close to airport and 15 mins drive central
2 bedrooms – 6 beds – 2 baths
£257.75 a night – £1029 total
(you can get £25 off here if you haven’t used Airbnb before!)

Given that there are 6 of them travelling, if they went with the cheapest Airbnb here, their whole trip would only cost them £441.50 each.

TO THE US OF A!!!

REQUEST: Warm June getaway from North West for two

Sophie is after:

  • 3 -4 nights
  • 2 adults
  • 22nd June +/- 1 day
  • Leaving Liverpool or Manchester
  • Somewhere warm
  • Not Barcelona or Rome
  • £200 each

Right, with a small budget it’s very important that we find… CHEAP FLIGHTS!

*spends lots of time searching and realises that if you want warm in June, you’re still going to have to spend a bit for flights*

Manchester to Dubrovnik
Sat 22nd June – Weds 26th June
£98

Whilst the price might be nudging £100, this is actually a great price for Dubrovnik. The least expensive flights for similar trips to Dubrovnik usually cost between £145 and £215!

If you haven’t heard of Dubrovnik before then CONGRATS because how you’ve managed to escape all that ‘it’s where they film Games of Thrones’ chatter is quite the achievement.

It’s a city in Southern Croatia fronting the Adriatic Sea and it’s known for its Old Town which is LUSH AF.

Whilst it is a hugely popular destination – they’ve even started limiting the number of cruise tourists visiting the Old Town – since you’re heading there in term time, it won’t be as busy as it could be.

And the good news is that weather wise, it looks sunny and around 28 degrees.

But the big ol’ question – is there anywhere decent enough to stay given that Sophie has just £200 left to cover 4 nights in a popular tourist destination?

*spends lots of time searching and realises just how damn popular Dubrovnik is especially when you’re searching for a trip that’s in 2 weeks*

If we’re really trying to keep to budget, this new listing could work really well.

Airbnb – Apartment Tonci
Dubrovnik
£49 a night – this includes all the additional fees
(you can get £25 off here if you haven’t used Airbnb before!)

An 8 min drive from the old town (you’re close to a bus station), this apartment is based in Babin Kuk which is a wealthy district known for its high-end hotels, stylish spas and yacht clubs. It’s also got a beach and plenty of supermarkets, bars and restaurants.

Whilst it currently has no reviews, you benefit from this by the 20% special offer that the host is offering for the first 3 guests who book a trip before now and 4th September. Yes, there is an element of ‘risk’ here, but it’s also a great way to bag a real bargain.

If you want a place with reviews, try this place for £63 a night, or this place for £69 a night.

Hotel wise, you’re going to be looking at guesthouses in this budget but there are plenty well rated rooms for under £200.

So, going with the cheapest flights and cheapest Airbnb, Sophie’s got herself a trip to a TOP DESTINATION for just £196 each.

That’s £4 each left for a pint at the airport.

I’m having fun, let’s do one more!

REQUEST: Accommodation in Sofia from 16th – 20th July

Okay, so Dani’s request is pretty straight forward.

  • Accommodation only in Sofia, Bulgaria
  • 16th – 20th July

So, let me take you through how I look for hotels if I’m looking for something more than just a cheap place to stay.

I start by googling ‘best hotels in Sofia’ or wherever I’m looking and normally, an article written by The Telegraph is a top result. For Sofia, it’s not, but I do instead find a ‘best hotels in Bulgaria‘ list instead which is a great place to start.

Oh no hang on, it’s three hotels long. FGS BULGARIA – I’M TRYING TO DO A BIT HERE.

Anyway, it does show us one hotel in Sofia called ‘Maison Sofia Hotel’ and so next I open up Trivago and I whack that name in, alongside my dates.

Straightaway, it’s showing me that we can get Dani a room at this four star hotel from just £47 a night (always click on ‘more deals’ for the cheapest price!)

However, at 2.2 miles to the city centre, I’m interested in what we can get even more central.

So now I adjust the filters and I select 3 star+ hotels, a guest rating of 7.5+ and within 1 mile of the city centre.

Straight away I’m VERY interested in this 5 star, well rated, LUXURY COLLECTION hotel from just £84 a night.

The 5 star InterContinental Sofia is also just £88 a night.

Finally, if it is price that Dani’s after, this also looks like a great deal for just £34 a night.


If you’d like some holiday help then make sure you’re following me on Instagram for the next instalment of the holiday hotline!


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 🤣

cheap christmas market weekend getaways from manchester

I think you can’t get excited for Christmas until AT LEAST 25th November however, that doesn’t mean to say we can’t all be booking our Christmas Market getaways now…

Berlin Christmas Market

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 £175pp for flights and accommodation

And this time, I’m looking at departures from Manchester.

(You can check out my London deals here).

Sat 1st Dec – Mon 3rd Dec

Hamburg, Germany

Hamburg.jpg

  • Christmas Markets start: 22nd November 2018
  • When it comes to this sort of thing, Hamburg is a worldie. I mean, nothing says German Markets more than actual real life Germany, right?
  • Great food, great drink, great nightlife – Hamburg should be on your wishlist, regardless of markets!

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Flight – £96pp

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Airbnb – £71.50pp

  • This Airbnb may not be nothing particularly fancy, but it looks clean, full of light and has got great reviews
  • Location wise, you’re just a few metro stops away from the action
  • Not booked with Airbnb before? Sign up here to get £25 off your first booking
  • For a bit more, you could stay in this CUTE studio for £85.50 per person – it’s slightly more central as well

Total cost – £167.50 per person

Sat 8th Dec – Mon 10th Dec

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Amsterdam.jpg

  • Christmas markets start: from 17th November 2018
  • Amsterdam has A LOT going on for Christmas including multiple markets, multiple ice rinks and even a World Christmas Circus!
  • It’s such a popular city to visit anyway – you won’t be stuck for things to do!

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Amsterdam – £80pp (there are a few cheaper options but I preferred the timings on this one)

Qbic Hotel - Amsterdam.jpg

Hotel – £78pp

  • Qbic Hotel Amsterdam WTC
  • This is a proper cool 3 star hotel – I actually once won a stay at the Qbic in London (I am bloody jammy) which I gave to my parents and they loved it!! A really great way to do a more budget stay but without having to lose out on the style
  • Whilst on a map you may think it’s fairly far out, it’s in the area of Amsterdam Zuid which is well known for its museums. The hotel is also next to the Metro station and so you can be at Centraal station in just 10 minutes

Total cost – £158 per person

Also for the same dates is a cracking £27 flight to Belfast – their markets are also supposed to be top notch.

Sat 15th Dec – Mon 17th Dec

Basel, Switzerland

Basel .jpg

  • Christmas markets start: from 22nd November 2018
  • This is not your start up Christmas Market, this is your bonafide WINTER WONDERLAND Christmas Market but do keep in mind that Switzerland is PRICEY!
  • The airport is actually in France so you can say you’ve visited two countries in one – kapow

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Flight – £64pp (or just £54pp if you left at 1810)

There are some really decently priced Airbnbs including this and this HOWEVER, in 2018, Basel introduced a nifty little incentive for tourists where if you book into a hotel, you get a free BaselCard which gives you free public transport and a load of discounts! Given how spendy the city is, I think that’s a good deal. The website says that it will be handed to you on check in, but apparently if your booking is marked ‘mobility ticket’ then you can even use it to get to your hotel. Madness. So make sure you email your hotel ahead of time to ask what’s what.

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Hotel – £81 each

  • Hyperion Hotel Basel
  • I really wasn’t expecting such lush hotels for the budget! This one is 4 star and really well rated
  • 22 min walk from the markets!

Total cost – £145 per person


Let me know if you end up booking any of these – or if you find your own deals of your own! I STILL haven’t booked a getaway for myself… There are just TOO MANY OPTIONS!