Want to know where your money will go further this summer? Researchers have compared the average flight and hotel prices, strength of the pound, and the cost of food and drink across a variety of destinations to find the cheapest this year. In Europe, Turkey comes top: a three-course meal in Marmaris, on the Turkish Riviera, will cost just £7.50 (approx. ₹770) a head and a round of drinks under a fiver (approx. ₹515). Bulgaria is also consistently cited as one of the most affordable destinations, with the Post Office naming it the ‘cheapest beach getaway in Europe’ for four years running. Black Sea resorts such as Varna and Obzor are also much quieter in high summer than the Mediterranean equivalents, so worth considering for value.
When you don’t want to go as budget as camping, glamping is a brilliant halfway house. Plus, what you get for your money will often exceed anything an expensive hotel can offer, especially if you like the rustic, wilderness approach. Canopy & Stars has great ideas for unique places to stay, including treehouses, lakeside cabins, yurts and gypsy caravans in the UK and Europe. They’ve also recently achieved the highest B Corp score** in travel in the world, so you can book with a clearer conscience. You can search for places under £100 (approx. ₹10,000) a night (we love Caban Crwn in the heart of the Welsh countryside and Pondenrosa, a wagon in the Yorkshire woods). Outside the UK, La Casetta Sul Mare is a beautiful Tuscan eco lodge with sea views, and Sky Light is a stunning lakeside treehouse in the French Dordogne with a bedroom with its own terrace upstairs, hanging chairs and loungers on the terraces, a skylight shower, and a woodland hot tub.
ENJOY A BOUTIQUE BREAK ON A BUDGET
Want a weekend at a boutique hotel at Travelodge prices? Try a pub with rooms. Shepherd Neame, the UK’s oldest brewer, has a wide range across Kent and the South East including The Sun Inn in the centre of Faversham, where the brewery is based, and The George Hotel in Cranbrook, which dates back to the 14th century. Queen Elizabeth I stayed here in 1573 and you can imagine her sweeping up the huge staircase flanked by suits of armour and ‘retiring’ to The Crimson Room, which you can still stay in (complete with an Elizabethan-style four-poster bed). Pub classics such as Spitfire beer-battered fish ’n’ chips are reasonably priced and a full English breakfast is included in the morning. We also love the award-winning White Star Tavern in Southampton, which feels more like a boutique hotel than a boozer. Once the Alliance Hotel (you can still see the sign outside) and owned by the White Star Shipping Line (hence the new name), it’s been completely refurbished with an elegant maritime theme. There are 16 cosy and comfy ‘cabins’ and one for solo travellers, too. Run by Fuller’s and with a delicious menu, which includes Angela Hartnett’s Roasted Butternut Squash and Goat’s Cheese Ravioli, it’s a great place to stay pre- or post-cruise as it’s a short walk from Southampton Cruise Terminal.
Van life has become a huge trend in the last few years and is a brilliant way to holiday for less, especially if you hanker after a touring getaway. The Caravan and Motorhome Club provides members with access to more than 2,700 quality campsites in the UK and overseas and annual membership is just £59 (approx. ₹6,100). This year sees the launch of new European tours, whereby members can choose from 19 escorted tours in 10 different locations. If you want more independence, you can book your own campsites; Camping InNature on France’s Lake Arques has the Corbières mountains as a backdrop and offers canoeing, fishing, horse riding and an aqua park on site. You’re also just an hour’s drive from the Mediterranean. Hire a camper van via The Caravan and Motorhome Club or check out Quirky Campers for something with tons of character.
SELF-CATER BY THE SEA
Who doesn’t love a bucket-and-spade British seaside break? But with hotel prices up 11 per cent this year, one of the best options for a family or multigenerational staycation is to hire a self catering property. Atlanta House, a beautiful Victorian building set on a clifftop in Cornwall, is a real find. Positioned moments from the beaches of Trevone Bay, this holiday home is beautifully decorated across two floors and sleeps up to 10 guests (dogs are welcome, too). There’s a roll-top bath in the main bathroom with uninterrupted views of the sea and nature-inspired toiletries from local brand Land & Water. Kids will love the snug (which can also double up as a bedroom) with its own TV, DVD player/DVDs and board games to keep them entertained. But the beauty of this house is its location, with two beaches—sandy Porthmissen Bay and rocky Newtrain Bay—just a stone’s throw away. At Newtrain there’s an extraordinary natural bathing pool, while Porthmissen has a giant blowhole. Outdoor activities include den building, bird spotting, horse riding, and yoga on the beach.
There’s a welcome basket included, with locally sourced treats such as an elderflower cake, Cornish apple juice, rhubarb jam, home-made granola and Knightor wine, and plenty of shops in the nearby village to stock up on extras. Eating out is affordable, too—try pizza at Bruno’s beachside bar as you watch the sun go down, or cook at home and dine in the private courtyard at the back of the house. For special occasions, private chef experiences, beach-based dining or cooking boxes can be arranged and Cornwall’s food capital, Padstow, is just two miles down the road.
BOOK AN ALL-INCLUSIVE DEAL
The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) estimates 29 per cent of Brits are planning to take an all-inclusive break this year and the spike in demand is likely down to cost-conscious travellers wanting to know how much they’ll pay up front. The MarBella Collection’s MarBella Corfu has a new ultra all-inclusive offering this summer with unlimited ice cream, snacks and refreshments poolside or on the beach, complimentary childcare for children aged four to 12 and a sunset cruise during your stay.
LOOK FOR FIVE-STAR VALUE
It can pay to splash out on a luxury five-star hotel if the extras make it worthwhile. Newly opened and with heaps of glamour, the NICI in Dorset is one such hotel. More like South Beach in Miami than the Bournemouth Riviera, you’ll save money by not having to fly and a stay includes the use of a huge outdoor pool with poolside cabanas (for up to six people), garden hot tubs, sunken fire pits, an outdoor activity centre with complimentary use of beach games and water sports kit (paddleboard kayaks and surfboards), alongside a luxury spa with indoor heated pool and aromatherapy sauna. There’s also an in-house cinema and children’s games room. There are 84 bedrooms, many with sea views, plus outdoor dining at the South Beach Restaurant & Bar, set against a backdrop of gold palm trees and burnt orange decor. Families, or those looking for longer stays, can also book the hotel’s Courtyard Rooms, which come with a living room, kitchenette and one or two bedrooms, allowing you to self-cater or use the hotel’s facilities as you wish.
SAIL AWAY ON A TASTER CRUISE
Avalon Waterways’ taster cruises are a great way for first-timers to see if they enjoy life rolling down one of Europe’s mighty rivers. Unlike ocean cruises, you’re always close to shore and it’s a great way to experience multiple city breaks in one voyage as ships usually dock in the heart of European capitals—such as Budapest, Vienna and Bratislava on the four-day A Taste of the Danube cruise. Everything on board is covered in the upfront cost, including complimentary sparkling wine with breakfast, wine, beer or soft drinks with lunch and dinner, tea, coffee and snacks 24 hours a day, daily shore excursions, gratuities, and an expert cruise director.
HIRE A BIG HOUSE IN EUROPE
For the perfect villa, you’ll find better bargains slightly off the beaten track. Vintage Travel offers Galicia, a beautiful yet relatively undiscovered part of northern Spain, just north of Portugal. The same standard of house on the French Cote d’Azur would cost twice as much and many owners have invested in private pools to make their properties more attractive. It can be twinned with northern Portugal (fly in and out of Porto or Vigo) and the food, wine, history, and beaches are all spectacular. Casa del Molino has spacious interiors, panoramic sea views, a private pool on a big lawn, alfresco dining terrace, table tennis, table football and hard-surface ball games area. The village of Samieira, with its sheltered beach and shops selling local produce, is nearby. There’s a regular bus to Pontevedra and Santiago de Compostela and other trips include a boat trip from pretty fishing village Combarro to the mussel beds.
This piece first appeared in Good Housekeeping.