Feb 8, 2016

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7 hotel rip-offs and how to avoid them

7 hotel rip-offs and how to avoid them

We scrimp and save all year for a big holiday, so that last thing we want is to get fleeced on avoidable costs when we get there. And, even though you’re set for a couple of night’s relaxation, don’t let your holiday good mood cloud your judgement. To help you stay ahead of the game, familiarise yourself with some common hotel rip-offs. Rip-off #1: Mini-bar madness We all love a bit of a splurge on holiday, but there are some areas where the purse strings should remain tightly drawn – mini bars are one of them. Notoriously overpriced, that tempting little fridge in your hotel room is a big bill waiting to happen. Last year, it was reported that a box of chocolates from the Peninsula Beverly Hills hotel in California would set you back a wince-inducing £57. OK, so not all mini bars will be this ridiculous, but you get the point. And the best way to avoid this expense-laden ploy? Simple – leave it shut and buy a bottle of water from the local shop. Rip-off #2: Over-the-top wi-fi fees Wi-fi is a strange one. It seems to divide the hotel world. Some offer it for free; some charge extortionate rates for it. It really just depends on where you are staying. Hilton, for example, offers it for free to loyalty club members when they book a stay directly with them, but if you aren’t a member you could be looking at a costly fee. So, if internet access is an essential for you, check the hotel’s policy before you book. Alternatively, you could go without the internet. You’ll survive, we promise. If this is out of the question, check if it’s free in the hotel’s public areas or a cafe or bar nearby. You can then get all of your browsing, Tweeting and email checking out of the way for the price of a drink. Rip-off #3: The hotel laundry service If you’re going away for so long that you need to wash your clothes, the hotel laundry service can be tempting. It can also be a complete rip-off. Our very own travel expert, Bob Atkinson, once paid £5 to wash his smalls in Argentina, and he rues the decision to this day. Hotels can charge anywhere from around 10 euros upwards for a load of laundry, whereas you’re always likely to find a cheaper deal...

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Feb 2, 2016

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Bid goodbye to Benidorm! 10 of the best alternative beach breaks...

Bid goodbye to Benidorm! 10 of the best alternative beach breaks

Drop the sunblock and back away from that beach towel, writes Anita Isalska. It’s time to seek horizons beyond Benidorm, Majorca and the rest of the beach-lover’s A-list, and we’re brimming with ideas for alternative holidays. Golden sands and periwinkle-blue skies are guaranteed, but you’ll find them on unsung Mediterranean isles, the Black Sea coast and even Albania. Bidding goodbye to Benidorm? Make Croatia’s Riviera your next stop With family-friendly beaches, theme parks and spas, as well as nightlife that captivates the 18-30 set, Benidorm is a tough addiction to break. But you’ll discover similar splendour along the Croatian Riviera. Start with Split, a charming seaside town with some of the Adriatic’s cleanest beaches. Keep the kids entertained with a ferry ride to Hvar island, bike rides on Marjan Hill or segway tours of the old town. Once you’ve stowed the young ones at a hotel kids’ club (try family-friendly Le Meridien Lav Split), you can wander through cavernous Diocletian’s Palace or guzzle cocktails on Split’s charming lanes. Book Croatia holidays Unmoved by Majorca? Sardinia’s shores are waiting Despite excellent beaches on every coast, the island of Sardinia doesn’t draw anything close to the same volume of visitors as Majorca. Find Sardinia’s best sunbathing spots along the northern Costa Smeralda, also home to its most glamorous resorts. Western Alghero is also excellent for kicking back on a beach, but the most peaceful pace can be found amid the baroque beauty of towns such as Oristano. And you won’t long for the Moorish forts of Majorca: Sardinia’s crumbling nuraghe (towers), which date right back to the Iron Age, add mystery to the island’s stunning coast. Compare Sardinia holidays Seduced by the Costa del Sol? Bask on the Black Sea Coast instead There’s more than one sunshine coast in Europe, and the Costa del Sol might have met its match in eastern Bulgaria. Blue Flag-awarded Sunny Beach is just one of numerous seaside dazzlers on the Black Sea coast. At the southern end of Burgas Bay you’ll find Sozopol, one of the region’s oldest towns; it’s popular with kitesurfers and paddleboarders, and backed by a charming old town. Further south find Ahtopol: this nostalgic beach town is beloved of budget travellers – but compared to Spain, most resorts along the Black Sea riviera will leave your...

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Feb 2, 2016

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The cheapest five-star city break is…...

The cheapest five-star city break is…

Us Brits love a bargain. Especially when it comes to getting away. In fact, according to recent research by TravelSupermarket, our holiday choices are often motivated by the cheap deals we can find. Of course, getting away for less doesn’t mean you necessarily want to skimp on the little luxuries that make you feel like you’ve escaped the nine-to-five. Quite the opposite. So, if you like the sound of a five-star city break for a three-star price tag, read...

Feb 2, 2016

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Revealed! How to do London with kids

Revealed! How to do London with kids

It’s the UK’s biggest city and boasts some of the country’s most famous landmarks, from Big Ben and Tower Bridge to the London Eye and Buckingham Palace. And although London is crammed with pricey designer shops, high-end eateries and glitzy nightclubs, it’s also home to hundreds of family-friendly restaurants and attractions, writes Fiona Whitty. The biggest problem is where to start. Allow us to help… Where to stay with kids The three designer-led Nadler Hotels are in great...

Feb 1, 2016

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Booking now vs booking late: The great holiday dilemma...

Booking now vs booking late: The great holiday dilemma

The Christmas holidays are a long, distant memory and your New Year’s resolution has already become a tedious ordeal. What could possibly pull you from the rigours of a post-festive slump? Why, booking your big summer 2016 holiday, of course. Whether you are planning a week in the sun, a city break for a long weekend or your main family getaway, you will be deluged with advertising shouting about holiday deals and offers. And, of course, getting organised...

Jan 26, 2016

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Should I travel to Tunisia?

Should I travel to Tunisia?

Updated advice: The current state of emergency in Tunisia has now been extended until February 2016. Please see the FCO site for further information. Following the deadly Tunisian terror attack in the resort of Port El Kantaoui, near Sousse, on June 26, 2015 – as well as the earlier atrocity in Tunis on March 18, 2015 – many holidaymakers will have had their summer holidays cancelled and may be wondering whether they should still travel to this popular sunshine destination in...

Jan 22, 2016

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Should I travel to Egypt?

Should I travel to Egypt?

As a result of a plane crash on October 31, 2015 in Egypt’s Sinai region that claimed the lives of all 224 passengers, the British government has suspended flights to and from Sharm El Sheikh International Airport. The situation left a number of British nationals stranded in Egypt, and, due to the nature of the incident, it may also be causing concern for those scheduled to fly to the popular resort in the coming weeks and months. UK carriers...

Jan 19, 2016

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Where are Brits flocking to this summer?...

Where are Brits flocking to this summer?

The new year might still be in its infancy, but for many Brits it’s already time to start thinking about the long-awaited summer holiday. And with the January holiday sales in full swing, there are plenty of deals up for grabs for super savvy travellers willing to search – those bargains won’t come and find you, you know. So, to help inspire you when planning your summer getaway, we’ve crunched the numbers to find out where Brits are looking to...

Jan 19, 2016

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The best UK events to perk up your weekends...

The best UK events to perk up your weekends

After a long week of work, Friday slowly rolls around again. “Finally”, you think, “two days of sweet freedom!” Five o’clock strikes and you make a dash for the nearest exit. But in your state of spreadsheet-induced euphoria, you’ve missed one minor detail: you haven’t actually made any plans for the weekend. So another marathon box-set session beckons or perhaps another Friday night at the pub has your name on it? No! Your TV can wait. The UK is...

Jan 19, 2016

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How to book your next holiday with confidence...

How to book your next holiday with confidence

With the influx of travel ads on the TV at the moment, and the freezing weather, many of us have already turned our attention to booking that all-important summer holiday or maybe even a series of breaks for 2016. Will it be the Med or somewhere far-flung? A beach break or a city trip? A cruise or a self-drive adventure? Whatever you choose, make sure you book your holiday safely and securely to avoid any travel-related disasters later...