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 #1 – solo travel, jordan hacks, dog friendly retreats and birthday fun in budapest

If you’re following me over on Instagram, you may already know that I’ve opened up shop and am taking your holiday requests once a week!

And in the first official ‘holiday hotline’, I had so many requests through that I literally could spend all week searching for getaways for you all.

Alas, I only had a couple of hours to properly research one meaty request and then I thought I’d give my fleeting thoughts to a few others as well.

All of this is over on my stories today and remember, if you’re after a holiday of your own, follow and get ready to submit your own request next time!

THE REQUEST: Perfect solo retreat in Europe first week of July

What a great first query to get stuck into!

Now, if I was planning a solo trip, I’d definitely want to spend some time chilling and enjoying my own company but then I know that I’d definitely get bored and want something or someone to entertain me a little. So what I’m going to suggest is a nice mix of the two.

Now, I’ve clocked the word ‘perfect’ here and thought SHIT THIS IS NOT AN ALL INCLUSIVE CALIPPO ON THE BEACH JOBBY. They want something special. So that’s exactly what I’m going to deliver.

So where are we going?

Well, here’s the flights:

London to Paphos
Sat 29th June – Sun 7th July
£121

Paphos is full of incredible food, archaeological sites, and road trips to beautiful beaches. Plus, at a whopping 4 hours 30 mins flight out there, it’s literally as far as you can get in Europe without hitting the middle east.

Speaking of which…

Paphos to Amman
Weds 3rd July – Sat 6th July
£30

YEH BOI. Not only are we doing Cyprus, but we’re gonna fly on over to Jordan. JUST COZ WE CAN.

Told you this was gonna be spesh.

The top tip here is that you can fly to Jordan from Cyprus for disgustingly cheap. In fact, flying Tuesday to Saturday will cost just £14 return, but the flights for Weds to Sat worked better for what I’ve got planned.

To put into perspective just how cheap these flights are, do you want to see how much it would cost to fly direct from London to Amman on the same dates?

VILE.

But before we get excited by Jordan, let’s get back to Cyprus to talk car hire and accommodation.

Car hire

Paphos and the surrounding area is definitely worth exploring so renting a car will help you to get out during the day if you don’t fancy just chilling at the pool.

The good news is car hire is super cheap at £35 for 4 days.

Paphos Accommodation

There are still so many options available for a whole range of budgets but given what’s coming up in Jordan, I think keeping it on the cheaper (but definitely still cheerful) side will help level out the costs later on.

Paphos Airbnb Studio
Sat 29th June – Weds 3rd July
£47.25 a night / £196 total
(you can get £25 off here if you haven’t used Airbnb before!)

This studio apartment is the perfect base. With a small kitchen, air conditioning, balcony and access to a shared pool, it ticks a lot of boxes.

You’re also just 700m from the sea and in easy access to sights, restaurants and nightlife. What’s more, you get access via a lockbox meaning you won’t be charged more for that late check in.

I was really impressed with how many options there were both in Paphos and the nearby area so here’s a few more if you’re interested:

Paphos Airbnb Private Room
£19 a night / £76 total

Tala Airbnb Apartment
£54.74 a night / £219 total

Kathikas Airbnb Entire Stone House
£83 a night / £334 total

Pissouri Airbnb Entire Villa w/Private Pool
£97.50 a night / £390 total

And if you fancied chilling out at a hotel instead, this 5 star option is very well priced considering… Well, considering it’s 5 star!

Azia Resort and Spa
£91 a night / £364.16 total

Next stop – Jordan!

The Wednesday is an early start back to the airport to embark on the next adventure.

Named as one of Lonely Planet’s ‘top places to travel in 2019’, now’s your chance to get ahead of the pack before it gets TOO popular.

Some of the most popular reasons to visit include ancient ruins in Petra, the epic desert wilderness of Wadi Rum and the incredible buoyancy of the Dead Sea.

Now, it’s absolutely possible to visit all three of these places from Amman yourself HOWEVER, as a solo traveller you won’t be able to split the cost of a hire car, hotel rooms or a tour guide, so I think this would be a great chance to embark on a group tour. It also gives you the chance to meet new people!

For our trip to Jordan, I’ve found a 4 day tour, that begins with a pickup at Amman airport. Given our early arrival, this also gives us time to explore the city for the day before we get on the road.

Across the next three days, we’ll explore the desert, Petra and visit the Dead Sea all before being brought back in time for our flight home on the Saturday.

The tour is £372 via Tour Radar and includes:

  • 3 star hotel accommodation for 3 nights (though you may well be sharing will a fellow group member)
  • Tour guide in Jordan (for min 5 persons)
  • 3 breakfasts & 2 dinners
  • All transportation and English speaking driver

Not included are your entrance fee to Petra ($60), tips and additional meals but for what works out as £93 a day, I think it’s exceptional value.

This particular tour worked really well for these dates but currently has only 1 review, so I’d definitely recommend chatting more to Tour Radar (they’re the middle man who sells on the tours) before you book. This 3 day tour has loads of great review but didn’t work as well for our dates.

Back to Paphos!

After an incredible four days of exploration, we’ll be ready to relax so for the last evening in Cyprus, I think it’s time to go ALL OUT and stay somewhere lush.

Staying a hotel will also help with that late flight the next day home as they’ll be able to keep hold of our luggage, and we should be able to still chill out by the pool all day should we want to!

Almyra
Sat 6th July – Sun 7th July
£129 a night with breakfast

As I said, I’m all about going cheaper at the beginning so you can stay the last evening in LUXURY.

This hotel is gorgeous. It even features on the Mr & Mrs Smith website which if you don’t know, is like a directory of bloody beautiful hotels. They don’t let any old muck on there.

However, if you’re hoping to spend a little less, there are plenty of other options including:

Azia Resort & Spa
£114 a night

St George Hotel
£76.96 a night

So how much for the whole trip?

Flights – £151
Paphos car hire – £35
Paphos Airbnb Accommodation – £196
Jordan 4 day tour – £372
Paphos luxury hotel – £129
Total = £883

It may not be a ‘budget trip’ but for the price, I think it’s pretty damn special (I TOLD YA SO!!)

What if I don’t have £883? Is there anywhere else you’d recommend?

Yes! For a solo trip I’d definitely recommend getting a cheap flight out to Germany (so many in July for under £60) and using their great train network to visit a few different cities.

Germany in the summer is gorgeous and thanks to the popularity of Europe’s interrail passes, many cities are so ready to embrace people travelling on their own.

Stay in trendy hostels for under £20 a night to meet new people and act as a base for exploring historical cities with GREAT BEER!

Now for a few quick requests.

THE REQUEST: 4 day Italian escape

I went to a wedding in Italy last year and flew into Perugia – a place I’d never heard of before but would definitely visit again.

Explore the beautiful city (and eat at La Taverna – INSANE FOOD!), hire a car and explore the Italian countryside – you’re not far from Tuscany either!

There’s loads of decently priced flight options but I found Fri 28th June – Tues 2nd July for £109 which is pretty good considering it’s the summer.

When I went, I stayed with three friends in this sweet apartment which is set in the grounds of a families LUSCIOUS garden. There’s just two or three other apartments so you often have the pool to yourself. It was GORGEOUS.

THE REQUEST: Can take our 20kg dog without a passport, no/few kids, nice accommodation, good nature

I stayed in dog-friendly The Gallivant right on the beach of Camber Sands in East Sussex last year and it is gorgeous.

With spa treatments, yoga on the beach and a great restaurant, it ticks all the boxes for a boutique getaway that feels like a treat.

What’s more, they only allow babies under 18 months and children over the age of 12.

Rates start at £115 a night and they even have a ‘dog lovers escape‘ deal which is £330 for two nights (Mon – Thurs in Sep-May) with breakfast, afternoon tea, a 3 course dinner, endless dog biscuits and a dog rug, toy and water in your room!

THE REQUEST: The best comparison site?

My go to is Skyscanner but I like to check Momondo for prices, particularly for long haul flights.

I also like Google Flights for spotting cheap fare patterns but then I’d always check the price against those mentioned above.

THE REQUEST: Villa in Portugal (Vilamoura are) for 8 adults, a 4 year old and 6 month old

Get on the ol’ Airbnb and my top tip is to not forget about the other websites too!

Hometogo is a handy website for comparing holiday rental sites (it saves you a hell of a lot of time!) – though unfortunately they don’t compare Airbnb!

Also, sites like Booking.com now offer apartments and villas so try searching there too.

THE REQUEST: Looking to go Copenhagen for 2 nights in Dec for 3 adults & 2 children

Manchester to Copenhagen
Fri 6th Dec – Sun 8th Dec
£69 each

Central Airbnb
£388 for 2 nights
(you can get £25 off here if you haven’t used Airbnb before!)

4* hotel – 1 x Superior Extra and 1 x Standard room
£555

1* hotel – 1 x Double Room + 2 extra beds and 1 x Single Standard room
£350

Make sure to visit Tivoli theme park – it’s beautiful at Christmas!!

THE REQUEST: Budapest in Nov for 40th birthday

Bristol to Budapest
Thurs 7th Nov – Sat 9th Nov
£68

You can also go for 5 nights, returning on Thursday 14th Nov for the same price!

Since you’re celebrating your 40th, it only seems right that you should stay somewhere nice. Both of these are great boutique hotel options!

Hotel Moments
£109 a night with breakfast

Brody House
£120 a night with breakfast


Right, that’s all for the first official holiday hotline!

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!


I have used affiliate links throughout this article. They don’t charge you more (in fact, I’ve put non-affiliate links where that’s the case), but if you book through them you’ll be helping me to continue my cheap travel booking hobbies. For full transparency, I make around 10p if you book a flight through one of my links so… Yeh. NO ONE’S GETTING RICH HERE PAL 😂