last minute easter holidays for less

Easter is not just about chocolate. It’s also about having TWO bank holidays, making getting away all that much sweeter.

Of course, everyone else has had the same idea and so if you’re looking for a last minute holiday, things are looking a liiiiiittle bit pricey. Therefore, I’ve had a quick peruse (okay fine I spent the whole of last night doing this) and rustled up some options for you. Please note that prices may go up by the time you click through but my advice is to buy sooner rather than later!

For all of these, do remember it’s EASTER! And therefore you may well find that attractions and transport services don’t run as usual so do check all of this before you book.

THE CITY BREAK

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Where?

Copenhagen

When?

3 nights: Fri 30th March – Mon 2nd April – From £84

2 nights: Saturday 31st March – Mon 2nd April – From £84

Screen Shot 2018-03-16 at 23.40.00.png(Flights above show Fri – Mon option from London Stansted)

What about from the rest of the UK?

Edinburgh – From £146 for Fri 30th March – Sun 1st April

Manchester – From £200 for Fri 30th March – Sun 1st April

Where should I stay?

I’m surprised to find so many decent options still available so get on trivago and have a browse.

To whet your appetite, here’s what I’d go for:

Copenhagen Strand Hotel

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  • 4 star
  • Super central – right next to Nyhavn
  • Great ratings
  • £99 a night via Hotels.com (plus you’ll earn two nights in loyalty points – reach 10 and you’ll get a free night stay somewhere!)

Total cost

From £184 per person (based on 2 sharing for 2 nights)

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!

THE EPIC TRIP

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Where?

San Francisco, baby!

When?

7 nights: Weds 28th March – Weds 4th April

Screen Shot 2018-03-16 at 23.36.08.pngLondon Gatwick to Oakland

Thinking ‘jeez that’s cheap, what’s the catch’ – well, that would be the luggage and your meals. Or lack of it I should say. £315 gets you 1 x 10kg hand luggage but hear me out – THIS IS DOABLE! In fact, I did a 6 day trip to San Francisco last year with just a small holdall and it was also full of recording kit (I was there for work).

As for food, pack a Pret for your first snack and then just buy what you fancy on board.

To add in a checked bag and meals, it will cost you an extra £100 which you may decide is worth it.

What about from the rest of the UK?

No bueno – unless you fancy shelling out £650! You can definitely get better deals at other points in the year.

Where should I stay?

So, here’s the touchy bit. San Francisco ain’t cheap. It’s not even close. But here’s an option I found.

Please note that you can often get caught out by taxes and fees in the US so DOUBLE CHECK before you book anything!

San Remo Hotel

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  • 2 star – old skool style with a shared bathroom but it’s always featured in lists compiled of the best but good value rooms in the city
  • Short walk to Fisherman’s Wharf but not too far from the centre either!
  • Great ratings
  • £102.86 a night (avg) including city tax via Hotels.com (plus you’ll earn seven nights in loyalty points – reach 10 and you’ll get a free night stay somewhere!)
  • £360 each based on 2 people sharing

Also…

When I visited San Francisco last year, the prices of hotels were through the roof. So, instead I booked using a website called hotwire where all you know is the star rating, the hotel facilities and a vague idea of what the rating is.

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One year on, I see that they’ve actually added in a button that reveals which four hotels it will be between – HELPFUL (though I personally think that’s less fun – HA).

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This option works out at $162.75 a night (once you add in taxes) = £117 a night WHICH means if you got any of the above you would:

Inn at Union Square – save £747.46

Villa Florence Hotel – save £233

Hotel Rex San Francisco – save £548

Handlery Union Square Hotel – £215.70

(Based on the best rates I found using trivago).

My advice if you do this is to stick to rooms that have a good recommendation rating. Priceline also offers this option – and for future knowledge, so does lastminute!

Total cost

From £667 per person (based on 2 sharing for 7 nights)

Why San Francisco?

Great food, loads to see and do, though don’t be thinking it will be hot, hot, hot just because it’s California. San Francisco’s average temp around this time is 17 degrees and it also has its own microclimates all over the city – you’ll be basking in the sunshine and then 10 minute down the road need to pull on a jumper. It’s bizarre!

It’s worth noting that there is a massive homeless problem in the city – I visited last March and I didn’t let it put me off though I was wary of travelling (on my own) of an evening. I’d also avoid the area of Tenderloin – it’s very close to Union Square (and many hotels are on the cusp).

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But I can’t end on a downer – I LOVED IT when I visited. Especially the Mission District (incredibly cool shops, cafes and bars) and Haight Ashbury for the hippie love and interesting characters.

As always, let me know if you book – or why not tell me where you’d love to visit, and I’ll keep my eyes open for you…


All prices accurate as of 17/03/2018

new video – ask a local is back!

After Ask a Local: New York was a ROARING SUCCESS (by which I mean James and I got very drunk and had a lovely time, thank you very much), we decided to let locals decide our day plans in London.

I’m really excited about filming a whole host of these (spoiler: just did one in Istanbul at the weekend!) and doing more videos about SAVING SOME DOLLA DOLLA.

chatting travel with matt and tom

Matt and Tom, off of the YouTubez, invited me onto their Park Bench series to talk all things travel for which I was MORE THAN WILLING.

Due to their well deserved popularity, I also smashed through 1,000 subscribers on my own channel (WHOOP WHOOP) so it’s official, it’s not just my Mum watching (hi Mum, I know you’ll be reading this and yes, I am very grateful for your loyal, unwavering support and no, I can’t make it home for Mother’s Day sorry).

The video features loads of travel tips (with a load I’d never heard of before – WHODATHUNKIT?) so give it a watch and make sure you subscribe to the wonders that are Matt and Tom as well.

Lovely.

the final holiday – where are we going and how have we managed to afford it?!!

It’s here! The final one!

I said it was going to be epic and boy it is. The only issue is that darned budget… WHY DIDN’T I JUST MAKE LIFE EASY FOR MYSELF BY GOING ON A 5 NIGHT BREAK TO MOROCCO OR SOMETHING?!! I could have had cash to spare…

But alas, if you’re going to do something, do it properly.

I’m also going to be posting a video a day between now and Christmas (when we arrive home!) so you can find out if we bring it all in for the £1709 limit.

I’ll be honest, right now, it’s looking very, very close… Mostly because I haven’t even booked the last night’s accommodation yet… BUT I’M SURE IT WILL ALL BE FINE (breathe Chelsea breathe).

Tomorrow sees us taking to the city in the search for locals’ recommendations… Should be fun!

 

holiday to dubai? add sri lanka, india or thailand from just £69 extra

If you’ve got your heart set on Dubai, there’s plenty of one stop options to get you there for less than £230 – I talked about these in my last blog post.

However, if you’re flying direct with a top class airline, there’s a great way to make the most out of your money by using Dubai as a stop off.

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Intrigued?

Dubai isn’t called the ‘gateway to the middle east’ for nothing – it’s a key hub for connecting flights, especially when you’re flying from the UK. Therefore, adding in an additional return flight to Sri Lanka, Thailand or India could end up only costing you an additional £69.

For example, here’s the straight forward return from London.

Dubai
Thurs 5th Oct – Mon 16th Oct

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So, say we wanted to spend 4 nights in Dubai to explore the city, where could we head on to next?

As our chosen airline, Emirates, flies to over 150 destinations, it means that there’s a lot of choice when it comes to adding another trip on. All you have to do is search for a ‘multi-city’ flight, which is made pretty easy by sites like Skyscanner and Kayak.

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For example, if we were to add in a flight on Monday 9th October to another destination and then return back to London on Monday 16th October (which automatically would send us via Dubai), this is how much it would cost.

Mumbai, India +£69
Thurs 5th Oct – Mon 9th Oct – Mon 16th OctScreen Shot 2017-04-24 at 23.20.23.png

Colombo, Sri Lanka +£88
Thurs 5th Oct – Mon 9th Oct – Mon 16th OctColombo - £427.png

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia + £116
Thurs 5th Oct – Mon 9th Oct – Mon 16th OctKuala Lumpur - £455.pngHong Kong, China +£117
Thurs 5th Oct – Mon 9th Oct – Mon 16th OctHong Kong - £456.png

Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam +£129
Thurs 5th Oct – Mon 9th Oct – Mon 16th OctScreen Shot 2017-04-24 at 23.47.59.png

Bali, Indonesia + £142
Thurs 5th Oct – Mon 9th Oct – Mon 16th Oct
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Phuket, Thailand +£150
Thurs 5th Oct – Mon 9th Oct – Mon 16th OctPhuket - £489.png

And these are just a handful of options. The basic rule is ‘does the airline you’re originally flying with go anywhere else?’ If so, get searching for multi-city deals.

It’s important to note that this doesn’t necessarily mean that this would be the cheapest way of getting to that extra destination, but it does give you a great option if you were heading somewhere anyway, or wanting to do 2 destinations in 1.

Good luck with your search!

holiday two | is dubai worth the money?

I was very aware that getting some cheap flights and accommodation for Dubai wasn’t going to be the end of it. In fact, it’s been the only holiday since I was about 19 that I have actively saved for (my normal holidays mostly involve just eating and drinking which isn’t too dissimilar from my everyday life).

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By the time Dubai rolled around, I’d saved £500 (HUGE FEAT FOR ME, FELT LIKE A REAL LIVE ADULT) so that I wouldn’t have to worry about costs. After all, we were going away for a friends’ 30th birthday and so I knew it was going to be a one off expense that I wasn’t likely to do again.

So, what did we get up to? And most importantly, was it worth it?

The Apartment
The Princess Tower
£184 for 4 nights
(this apartment is no longer available so here’s something similar in a nearby towerblock)

Having seen our friends’ flash suites at the Marriott before checking in, we were a little apprehensive of what we’d find but overall, it was clean, spacious and had everything we needed. Sure, we wouldn’t want to hang out and spend our evenings there, but that wasn’t really the point.

Plus, the 97th floor residents lounge had amazing views and the outdoor jacuzzi on hangover number one really helped us out.

Worth it? Definitely.

The Pool
Zero Gravity
£35 for entry + free drink

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After dropping our things off, we headed to Zero Gravity, a beach, bar and restaurant located by Dubai Marina. Costing £35 to get in (or slightly less for a couple – though note that this doesn’t include friends or same sex couples), the price included a free drink and access to all the facilities.

It was very much a place to be seen. The bathrooms were INCROYABLE. Showers, mirrors, hairdryers, straighteners – I almost felt a bit bad for having not put any make up on that day (almost). On my first visit, two girls were doing a mini-photoshoot in there and on my second, they were just finishing up (realised that this could be interpreted that I have a very weak bladder but I was only 2 beers in by this point, fellas).

There’s plenty of sunbeds on the beach and around the pool but if you want a big sunbed, it comes at a price. £200 minimum spend to be exact (YOWZERS). Fortunately, it was a quiet day so we managed to get a couple towards the back without promising away all our dirhams though, between 10 of us and at Dubai prices, we may just have reached the minimum spend… Twice.

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So, was it worth it?

It’s a toughie and it all depends what you want out of your day. If you want a whole day of sunbathing but you want the ease of having everything on hand, then it kind of makes sense. If you’re just going for a couple of hours, maybe not.

As for drinking, it’s definitely pricey – we’re talking about £8 for a bottle of beer and £11 for a cocktail so if you’re wanting to get merry, get ready to spend a lot. But at the same time, you can’t drink on free public beaches.

For me, I had a great time but given that we were only there three hours, I’d say it wasn’t worth the cost. But I can totally see why people go.

The Brunch
Bubbalicious at The Westin Dubai
£125 for 4 hours of unlimited food, drink and prosecco 

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It seemed that when anyone went to Dubai, the one thing they’d bang on about on their return was the brunch. No, not Eggs Benedict but a full scale Red Hot World Buffet on steroids with free flowing fizz.

According to our friends, Bubbalicious is the best, but it’s also the most expensive. There’s plenty of cheaper brunches that take place each Friday (the start of Dubai’s weekend), but we’ve been assured that you get what you pay for.

But £125 is a hell of a lot of money…

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Having been regaled with tales of ‘this one time at brunch…’, I was prepared for the sheer extravagance of it all. The food hall was impressive. Every single kind of food that you could want was there, and whilst I compared it to Red Hot World Buffet, the food is of a much higher quality. Yet, if I’m honest, I’m not really a buffet girl. I like a plate of food that’s been thought about and several drinks in, it was an effort to even remember to eat, let alone find foods that complimented one another.

What I was really impressed with was the drink. There were no knock offs here. Premium beers, spirits and cocktail creations were widely available almost instantly (queues only appeared in the last 30 minutes) and our prosecco glasses were kept topped up at the table. It was incredibly easy to see how people get so trollied at these things…

As I was vlogging (or attempting to at least) during this, I kept a log of evrything I had during those 4 hours.

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Sweet baby jesus.

I actually thought I wasn’t drunk when 4pm rolled in!

After ‘stockpiling’ the drinks in the last 30 minutes, we drank at our table until 4:30pm before taking a couple of drinks each up to the DJ in the hotel club.

So.

Was. It. Worth. It?

Now, let’s not be silly here – £125 is a lot of money. But given the sheer expense of drinks in a bar out there, it’s actually quite easy to get your money’s worth if you’re on a blow out. I actually didn’t spend another penny that day so all in all, I would say it was worth it.

The boat
Cozmo Yachts
£30 each for 18 people for 3 hours – bring your own booze

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When our friend had said ‘I’m thinking of hiring a yacht the day after brunch’, I was a little apprehensive given the fact it was the day following our £125 brunch. Yet, when the price came back as £30 each for 3 hours and that we could take our own drink on board, I thought it was pretty damn reasonable.

The boat was bigger than expected and sat up top deck with the wind whipping around us was the perfect way to shake off our brunch hangovers.

If you fancy doing something similar, just keep in mind that buying drink in Dubai can be difficult – you need a licence to buy some from a store. We’d picked up a couple bottles of gin in duty free (£11 for a litre!) and the boat supplied mixers and ice.

Our boat trip included speeding past the Palm, taking in the sights and having a bit of a dip in the calm (but cold!) waters.

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Absolutely and most definitely worth it.

The tallest building in the world
The Burj Khalifa
£44 for level 124 – £109 (!!!) for level 148

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For our last day, we had really wanted to do a desert safari to inject a little ‘culture’ into the trip, but the weather was god awful and we’d been warned that it was only really worth doing in the sunshine.

With that in mind, we instead decided to check out the mall (which I didn’t actually find that impressive – HUGE but same old shops as you get anywhere) and with it, the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa.

The queues were pretty mega given that we’d already booked a timeslot. It took us an hour to reach the lifts which just so happened to be the exact amount of time it took for a clump of clouds to settle around the viewing deck.

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Lousy views aside, I did feel a little let down about the experience as a whole. Yes, the lift that shot us up in 60 seconds was impressive but it really was just a viewing platform and not a lot more.

For £44, I would have to say that it wasn’t worth it. However the housemate, who is very fond of any feat of architecture or engineering, was really impressed so take from that what you will.

Overall

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So that’s what we got up to, but overall, was it worth it?

It’s tough because it’s not that straight forward. I had a really good time with my friends and after editing the vlog, I was reminded again of what a laugh I’d had but… My lord, it was expensive.

What with the activities plus my food and drink, the £500 I’d saved was decimated and whilst it may not look or sound like it, there were even a couple of evenings where I didn’t drink at all (honest!).

But I had fun, right? Yes, yes, yes.

And I’m glad I went? Absolutely.

So that means it was worth it, surely? Hmmm. Not quite.

I’m happy that I can say I’ve been but I’m not in any rush to go back. The thing is, because Dubai is so new, they’ve borrowed elements from much loved places around the world to create this ‘best of’ metropolitan smorgasbord, yet I didn’t really buy it. I left feeling like I hadn’t really discovered anything new and whilst I had lots of fun, I was very aware that I could have done a lot of it elsewhere for a cheaper price…

Let’s just hope I can find a stonker of a deal for holiday number three, eh?!

You can also watch what we got up to here: