For sure you’ve heard of self-catering accommodations before – they are getting more and more popular, after all, and for many good reasons. There was a time when you had to make sure your hotels were booked, that you knew when to check in and check out, that you had to check out the size of rooms and the meals – but all of that are in the past. Self-catering accommodations took care of that.
Self-catering accommodations offer many benefits, and if you’ve never experienced a holiday in such a house or flat, you may want to try it. Here are the essential reasons why self-catering accommodations are better for your family holiday.
A lot more freedom
The freedom that you get from renting a privately owned home or flat is much larger than the freedom any hotel, motel, inn, or resort will afford you – you are in a home away from home, and can truly do as you please. It’s a matter of making your own schedule (and hence, not having to adhere to one that is set for you), and it’s a matter of going where you please, when you please. In other words, it’s a matter of taking things into your hands.
Great for the family
When you’re with a family, you know that children can be a handful – and that’s often a concern or cause of stress when you have to visit public areas (such as dining rooms) or if you have to deal with many other people (such as is the case in a hotel). Self-catering accommodations such as the ones from www.edinburghpearlapartments.co.uk ensure you are not disturbed by other people and that you (or your children) won’t disturb anyone else.
Compared to a hotel room or other similar places, self-catering accommodations offer you a lot more space, and there are more rooms available for privacy as well.
You’ve got a great kitchen available, you’ve got your own living area, you may even get a laundry room and a terrace – just for you (and at a much cheaper rate than at a hotel).
A much better menu
You eat when you want to eat, where you want to eat, and what you want to eat. This is especially important if there are family members with dietary requirements.
All in all, it comes back to one basic thing: you get a lot more value for your money when you book with a self-catering accommodation – you get more freedom, a larger and more luxurious accommodation with great amenities, and you can plan your holiday just the way you want to. The next time you plan a holiday, do it differently. Go for self-catering accommodations and go to a home away from home.
Posted in Holidays
Opting to take a ferry to France is a great way to save money when you’re on a tight budget. However you could save even more than you expect if you take several other factors into consideration before you book your tickets.
In much the same way airplane tickets tend to vary in cost based on numerous factors, so too do the ferries to France. As such, if you’re able to book the right tickets you could actually end up traveling for a fraction of the normal cost.
Choose to travel off-peak
Weekends and holidays are when ticket prices tend to be at their highest – so if you’re able to be a bit flexibly, try to travel off-peak. The best fares are generally to be had midweek, and late night crossings are often a lot cheaper than at other times of the day. That being said keep in mind that if you’re modifying your travel plans and extending your stay for better ferry prices, you may incur additional costs for accommodation.
Book very early, or very late
To get the best deals on your tickets you should either book well in advance, or try to catch a last-minute ferry. Of the two booking early is definitely the ‘safer’ option, as although last minute offers can be great there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to get one, or that there’ll be space available. If possible, try to book your tickets at least a month or two prior to departure.
Try different ports
As you probably know, there are several ports throughout the UK where ferries depart to France. While Dover and Portsmouth are known to have the most competitive rates in general, it might not hurt to shop around and see what is available at other ports too. Just remember to factor in any additional travel costs that you may have to incur on your end to get to a different port too.
Compare fares between ferries
With so many different ferry operators there is certainly a lot of choice available. That is why it makes sense to compare the fares between ferries to find the best deals available. Nowadays there are websites that will help you to search the available rates across all the various operators, and if you vary the date and time as well as the ports you should be able to find some nice rates that you can take advantage of.
All said and done it really isn’t all that hard to find cheap ferries to France. Now that you’re aware of how the ticket prices can vary, all you need to do is start to look around and see if you can match your travel plans with some of the cheaper rates that are available and figure out exactly how much you could save by doing so. While that may take some effort, it will mean that you’ll have a bit more cash to spend enjoying your holiday in France.
Perhaps the single most important thing to remember when heading for a family cycling trip in Normandy is that the success or otherwise of your jaunt rests entirely with tantrum-prevention. Or to put it another way, if you can keep your kids happy, entertained and enthusiastic at all times, you are in for the trip of a lifetime – guaranteed. Much of this of course comes down to ensuring rest periods and eating times are spaced out thoughtfully and intelligently throughout the day, never forgetting that from around 2pm, you can forget being served in any local bars, restaurants and cafeterias!
Whichever way you look at it, Normandy is without any shadow of doubt one of the most outstanding cycling regions in the whole of Europe. Ever since the French government recently gave its official ‘voila’ to a new 443 kilometre cycling route that connects Mont Saint-Michel and Paris, families from all over the continent have been flocking to the region for dreamy weekend breaks. Brits in particular have extremely easy access to this glorious corner of France, with a quick hop on the overnight ferry with bikes in-tow being all it takes to soak up all that’s on offer.
The overnight ferry journey with Brittany Ferries never fails to prove exceptionally exciting for kids, kicking the holiday off on the right foot. By taking the overnight ferry, it is perfectly possible to cram three full days of cycling into a single long weekend. You’ll also find plenty of time to soak up the rest of the regional delights on offer, be it a horseback ride through a vineyard, sipping your way through the Cider Route or letting time pass you by on one of the region’s stunning beaches.
Back to cycling though, it’s regularly argued that the part of the route that runs through the Perche region of southern Normandy is by far and wide the most beautiful and enchanting of all. It stretches for a full 90km, which admittedly seems like quite the challenge, but is actually quite easy and manageable over three days – even with kids along for the ride. Most of the enormous route from Paris to Mont-Saint-Michel is traffic-free and gentle on the legs – this particular route being supremely enjoyable.
Part of the region’s voies vertes – aka green ways – the route follows the path of now abandoned railway lines that remain flat, safe, easy and enjoyable the whole way. Not only this, but the area is so completely tranquil and far from the nearest source of heavy traffic that letting your kids stray pretty far in front need not be a cause for concern. Even in the depths of summer, there is still plenty of room and you will never find the paths to be overly crowded. However, find your way out to this neck of the woods during the late spring or early summer and there’s every chance you will have km after km of this extraordinary cycle path to yourself.
Along the way, you will encounter everything from enchanting forests to the abandoned huts previously used by railway workers and the kinds of old buildings that just beg exploration. Over the past couple of decades or so, this particular region of Normandy has earned a strong reputation as the short break hotspot of choice for discerning residents of Paris in search of true tranquillity and escapism. Each time you come across a village along the way, you’ll find yourself presented with nothing less than a picture postcard snapshot of the kind of France few visitors are privileged to lay eyes on. Sleepy doesn’t even come into it, but you will almost always find the most idyllic lunch spots and eateries along the way, largely without a tourist insight.
This particular route involves a trip to Condé-sur-Huisne and back, which is a round-trip of approximately 27km. On another day, it is more than worth heading to Mortagne-au-Perche – an absolutely fantastic 30km roundtrip which if taken at the weekend will give you the opportunity to check out the local market. Once again, it’s the kind of affair that definitely isn’t put on just for the sake of tourists, meaning what’s on offer is as traditional and authentic as it gets. If you can score a jar or two of the local jam, you will not be disappointed! If you have a third day available, Mêle-sur-Sarthe represents another incredible place to head to and back again, promising some of the most glorious vistas of the surrounding Normandy countryside along the way.
There are plenty of places that make ideal bases for short cycling breaks to Normandy. The long and short of it being that to select anywhere on the Véloscenic route – Boissy Maugis for example – is to situate yourself right to the heart of exactly where you need to be. The local gîtes and farmhouse accommodation options come highly recommended, but at the same time it’s worth remembering that the kids are usually even happier with a spot of camping.
Not that this is the only outstanding cycling route available in Normandy – you might also want to consider the following options:
One of the most popular and highly acclaimed of all cycling routes in France, Lonely Planet recommends a round-trip route that starts and finishes in Bayeux. Often referred to as the D-Day cycle tour, you will set off down a series of quiet and tranquil roads which will eventually take you to Omaha Beach and the world famous American Cemetery. Port-en-Bessin-Huppain makes the most beautiful place to stop for a spot of lunch, after which it’s a case of enjoying a beautiful coastal cycle to Arromanche and taking in the extraordinary views from cinéma circulaire – more commonly referred to as the Arromanches 360.
Les Iles Chausey
Take your bikes over to the Les Iles Chausey archipelago by the ferry that runs daily during the summertime and you’ll discover a side of Normandy that is even more beautiful than the mainland. Well, perhaps not more beautiful, but teaming with beautiful deserted beaches, a dramatic coastline and so much to explore on a fun afternoon with the family.
Le Pont de Normandie
Last up, a bike ride to Le Pont de Normandie also comes highly recommended. Once again, it’s a case of hopping on the ferry with your bikes to Le Havre, in order to soak up the sites of a supremely important feat of engineering which just so happens to also have its own cycle lane! Honfleur’s pretty harbour at the other end makes the entire journey more than worthwhile.
Over the past few years prices have been falling across much of Europe, making it a more attractive place than ever for family holidays. High-end destinations have become affordable for ordinary families and favourite beach resorts have started offering fantastic package deals. All this makes it easier to treat your family to an amazing holiday with something for everyone.
Dream destinations for kids
If you talk to children who have been on European holidays, you’ll find that these are some of the destinations they like best – and they all have something for grown-ups, too!
Salema, Portugal. This Algarve beauty spot may not be a big name but young children just love its long, golden beach, whilst clear, shallow waters make splashing around safer. It’s also great for finding shells. Stay in a local cottage and enjoy the unspoiled countryside.
Alghero, Sardinia. A mixture of sandy and pebbly beaches keeps things interesting and you can have a go at kayaking together. Stay at Monte Sixeri Farm where your kids can go wild in the playground or help feed the animals while you relax in the pool.
Arrieta, Lanzarote. Rugged countryside, a charming old town and secluded sandy beaches mean there’s a lot to explore. Stay in a yurt at Lanzarote Retreats where children will love the adventure playground, pool full of inflatable toys and friendly resident donkey.
Avoriaz, France. For something a bit different, check out this child-friendly ski resort that has some slopes safe enough for toddlers and horse-drawn sleighs to ride in. Stay in a spacious family chalet and take your kids to explore the Village des Enfants.
Devon, England. It may seem modest, but kids don’t care – they love fossil hunting on the beaches and exploring the souvenir shops in the villages, where there are many child-friendly eateries. Stay in a caravan at one of the many family-focused sites along the coast.
The dog comes too!
Recognising that your furry family members matter too, many of these locations are dog friendly. It’s increasingly easy to find pet-friendly hotels, some of which provide extras to make dogs feel welcome, and a high proportion of camping and caravan sites and rental cottages will let your pets stay too.
Make sure you take the time to prepare your pet for travelling. You’ll need to plan so you can find suitable food. Most basic medications like dog flea tablets, available from specialists such as Bob Martin Vetcare, are legal right across Europe but if your pet needs something more unusual then you should ask your vet for advice before you set off. Remember to pack familiar bedding and a few favourite toys to help your dog feel secure.
Planning your travel
Travelling with your children and the dog is always complicated. To cut down on the chaos it’s important to plan well around everything from rest stops (including ones where you can walk the dog) to packing snacks and water. You’ll need to check that your transport options can cater for everyone and you’ll need to find ways to make sure everyone has fun. Get it right, though, and nothing compares to the fun of being on holiday, all together.
Santorini is the jewel in the Agean Sea’s crown – a stunning island with a rugged landscape shaped by a volcanic eruption in the 16th Century B.C, its jagged cliff faces plunge into the turquoise sea while its beautiful beaches are made up of black, red, and white lava pebbles.
It’s not all about the coastline, though, and if you’re prepared to scratch below the surface or take a trip off the beaten track there are even more natural wonders to discover. Booking with travel-agents that specialise in the local area is a great way to get advice on the ‘insider’ things to do, away from the usual tourist destinations.
Here are 3 things you have to do if you visit though:
Check out the Caldera
The caldera is the underwater crater and the partly-visible rim of the volcano that formed Santorini and is one of the island’s truly natural wonders. It’s worth staying in one of the cliff-side villages of Fira, Firostefani, Imerovigli or Oia to make sure you have the time to take in this natural wonder.
And although not part of the island’s ‘natural’ beauty, the whitewashed, cubist buildings – some of which seem to be precariously clinging to the cliff faces – are perfectly at odds with the rugged rocks and add to what is a truly unique landscape.
You can even get up close to the caldera and its characteristic volcanic rock smells, by staying in any one of the cave houses, or Yposkafo, that were built by locals to protect against the high winds that sometimes batter the coast but now house luxury tourist accommodation.
If you’re feeling active then taking the seven-and-a-half mile clifftop walk between Fira and Oia is a great way to check out the breath-taking scenery this part of the island has to offer.
Hit the hot springs
You can get an even closer view of the volcano by taking a short boat ride to the centre of the caldera and the small volcanic island of Nea Kameni. Enjoy the stunning views from a different perspective while walking among the steaming craters and take a dip in the hot springs to reap the benefits of the anti-ageing properties of the water.
Experience a sunset
There are few things as beautiful or romantic as a sunset, and the weather in Santorini means you can enjoy breath-taking sunsets all year round from almost anywhere on the island.
If it’s romance you’re after, take a trip out to some of the more remote spots, like the lighthouse at Faros, or Vlihada beach where you can enjoy sundown from the shadows cast by the volcanic rock formations.
Pyrgos is great for sunset seekers as it’s one of the island’s highest points, while the Oia Castle offers one of the most popular vantage points.
Explore the beautiful beaches
The beaches of Santorini are truly unique and some of the best ones can only be reached by boat – White Beach, for instance, is a black pebble beach surrounded by chalk-white cliffs, while Red Beach has red and black volcanic pebbles and is flanked by imposing red rock cliffs.
A trip to Cape Columbo will take you to one of the island’s most isolated and quietest beaches, the only real downside being that this part of the island can get very windy and the waves pretty powerful – and it’s this wind and wave combination that has carved out the rugged coastline at Columbo.
The nights are drawing in; it’s dark by 4pm and the air’s taken on a bitter chill. It’s time to put away with the floaty dresses and shorts and pull out the winter coats, jumpers and scarves in a bid to stay warm throughout the winter months. At this time of year we prefer to draw the curtains against the gloom, crank up the heating and snuggle up indoors.
Of course, a lot of us like to take a bit of time out in winter and take a trip away. While it’s no longer beach season, there are still plenty of great places to visit in the UK, whether it’s for a week away or just a romantic weekend with lots of opportunities for comfort and warmth. Here are some of the cosiest places to visit in the UK this winter.
Millgate House, North Yorkshire
Millgate House is perfect for people looking for a cosy and intimate trip away. The B&B was once a Regency house, offers three beautiful rooms and a unique, warm décor full of quirky antiques and pictures, not to mention a fantastic breakfast. There’s an open fireplace too, ideal for relaxing during the long, cold nights.
Boathouse, Knotts End
Located in the Lake District, the Boathouse is a unique and incredibly lovely place to stay. Surrounded by forests and a glacial lake, the house is decked out in warm oaks and has all the amenities you need for an intimate trip to the Lakes. It even comes with its own rowing boat! The Lake District is full of cosy retreats for the winter.
Bailiffscourt, West Yorkshire
The ancient manor house, built by Guinness magnate Lord Moyne, is heavily inspired by medieval architecture, with original stonework and woodwork, creating a close space. The effect is a warm and cosy place complete with roaring fireplaces, a spa and four poster beds decked out in beautiful reds and golds. A great place for people looking for a more traditional experience in West Yorkshire.
The Feathered Nest, Oxfordshire
Situated in a little village, the Feathered Nest is ideal for people looking for the perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle of daily life. Each bedroom offers its own unique and cosy quirks and there’s an open fire in the bar for those chilly winter nights. The converted malt house also has plenty of history for anyone interested.
Tan y Bwlch, Gwynedd
This little Welsh cottage is perfect for holing up during the winter. It’s largely unaltered from its original state and offers everything from a rustic fireplace to original wooden beams and floors. The interior has been carefully cultivated for historical accuracy, and it’s a great place to curl up and sit out the cold, dark nights of winter.
This is just scratching the surface of the cosiest and most intimate winter holiday retreats in the UK during winter, but there are plenty of ways to make sure your own home is a haven from the chilly weather outside. For one thing, making sure you have a warm and comfortable bed from Bedstar is a sure fire way to beat the winter blues; after all, what’s better than snuggling up under a thick, fluffy duvet and drifting away to sleep?
Stay warm and comfy this winter, and maybe take some time to see how beautiful the UK can really be in during the colder months.
Booking a luxury weekend break in London is easier than you think. You can relax your cares away in the lap of luxury while you take in all that this fun city has to offer, and you can have an experience that you will never forget.
For help in setting up your luxury weekend break in London, check out the five step guide below.
The first step you need to take is determining where you want to stay. There are plenty of luxury accommodations throughout London, but to really make the most of your weekend, it is best to book luxury suites London that will give you everything that you need to remain comfortable and content throughout your stay. Remember, not all hotels are created equal, and some are far more luxurious than others, so take your time to research the options that provide you with clean, spacious rooms and plenty of amenities.
London is also filled with luxurious spas where you can kick back and indulge in some of the best services for pampering yourself. From manicures and pedicures, to facials and whole body treatments, and, of course, massages, there are plenty of ways to feel like royalty. The best spas will have breathtaking views, all new facilities that are modern and clean, and friendly staff that are ready to help you feel magnificent.
Sure, there are more places to eat throughout London than you can count, but if you want to dine like royalty, you can’t just go to any old restaurant. Instead, look for those restaurants that have made a name for themselves in the city as being the best of the best and the most opulent. Take, for example, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, which is considered one of the top culinary experiences you can enjoy in Britain, thanks to the fact that its chef is one of the highest rated of all of the chefs in the UK.
Set aside some time to really take in London’s unique beauty and history by exploring it by day and by night during your weekend break. With so many incredible landmarks, from gardens to palaces, be sure to bring your camera, wear comfortable shoes, and book private transportation to get to where you are going easily, comfortably, and quickly.
London also features places like Sloane Street, which is the best shopping avenue in the city if you are in search of the world’s top luxury brands, from clothing to accessories created by the most famous designers. So go ahead and buy yourself something nice to remember your trip.
Now that you know how to plan a luxurious weekend getaway in London, what are you waiting for? As one of the most popular cities on the planet, this is one place that you will never forget, especially if you make it a point to experience only the very best that it has to offer.
More and more people are choosing to go on river cruises instead of ocean cruises. It is also for this reason that tour operators like Tauck Tours are becoming so popular. Indeed, a river cruise is an opportunity to have a unique, luxurious holiday at a very affordable price. However, is it right for you?
Are Your Ready for a River Cruise?
The reality is that not everybody will enjoy a river cruise. While they have many benefits, some people simply enjoy ocean cruises or traditional modes of travel more. If you like some of the following things, then a river cruise may not be for you:
If that is what you enjoy doing, then a river cruise is definitely not for you. That isn’t to say everything about ocean cruising is bad. After all, they are hugely successful and the inspiration behind river cruises as well. Indeed, if you have a choice between all the different types of vacations you can take, then an ocean cruise is probably the second best option out there. But the first best option simply has to be the river cruise.
Today, ocean liners have everything you can possibly think of, from five star dining experience to rock climbing walls and from casinos to ice skating facilities. Their rooms are luxurious, the entertainment is grand and the food is fantastic. But, in reality, it is almost like you are in a floating piece of Las Vegas. While this is enjoyable and certainly something that everybody should enjoy at least once in their lives, isn’t there more to a vacation than that?
With a river cruise, you will have the opportunity to experience new cities and destinations and you will get a unique perspective on the world. You will not have to spend days on the water with no land in sight. Rather, you will be able to enjoy the most breathtaking views every step of the way and you will be able to spend time in some of the world’s most fascinating historic and cultural cities.
Planning a last minute holiday in the sun? You have plenty of time to get it organised yet (it’s only July, after all)! If you’re travelling from the UK, you have the whole EU at your fingertips, only a few hours’ flight away. It’s easy to take the family along too, without it costing the earth. Here are some fantastic options that might just be what you’re looking for:
Tuscany is known for its beautiful climate and decadent wines. Stay at a stunning 18th century farmhouse, which has multiple apartments for other families lucky enough to be staying there. Your kids may find themselves playmates, which would give you an opportunity to truly relax, while they all have fun in the pool. Oh, and did we mention that this estate grows its own amazing wine on-site? Where do we sign up?
Cabins, South France
This characterful cabin is a little wonky around the edges, but you can tell that it was a real labour of love – the nearby owner made it himself, and he has a wealth of knowledge on the local area, so get in his good books and he will make your holiday easy. You have fantastic views of the lake and gardens, plus your own kitchen, so you won’t have to stray too far from your cabin, if you don’t want to! And who could blame you – with the amazing scenery and charming, raised decking, you won’t want to go anywhere else.
Green Holidays, Ireland
For an amazing variety of outdoor pursuits, The Three Towers is an eco lodge – with apartments and cottages – which offers pony riding, as well as donkey walking, in the verdant Irish countryside. There is more than 2,000 acres of woodland close to your holiday home, ripe for exploring. The owners have “enchanted” certain areas of forestry for the children, filling them with magical fairies and gnomes – endless hours of play for the little ones. Best of all, it’s a short plane or ferry ride away.
Have you always wanted to stay in a tipi, somewhere close to nature? Portugal has a great campsite called Tipis in the Algarve, where everything is brightly coloured and you even have access to a pool. On hand, you will have a small vegetable garden to explore, and a yoga platform perfect for your morning sun salutations. They run communal BBQ nights, so you can get some grub with other likeminded people and make new friends. Bonus: the beach is just a 15 minute drive away!
A Quick Note On Booking Your Flight…
If you are looking for flights to any of the above, be sure to book at the cheapest time as possible, to make sure that your family holiday stays affordable! Go with a cheap flights operator, but read the comments about their services for your next trip on an established site, such as these Bravofly reviews. Don’t accidentally spoil your holiday by going with the wrong travel agent, as hidden costs and poor customer service can really dampen the holiday – choose someone you know you can trust.
Not everyone loves the beach. Sand gets everywhere, it can get quite dull fairly quickly and who knows what is lurking below the ocean surface? It is possible to have a fun, fulfilling and relaxing holiday without heading to the coast and suffering the wind, seagulls and unpredictable weather. One of Britain’s great strengths as a holiday destination is it’s diversity. From rolling hills to vibrant cities there are breaks to suit everyone. Providers such as UK Breakaways cover a huge variety of holidays and there some fantastic last minute deals to be had across the internet.
A great guide to some of the most picturesque areas of the country is the official National Parks website. There are parks all over the country which means you can travel as little or as far as you want to get to your next rural holiday destination. Hiring cottages, camping or even ‘glamping’ allows you to get back to nature and might mean that you save a bit of money. There are also activities to be done such as sailing, hiking and cycling.
As Britain is not blessed with the most reliably sunny weather conditions, it is not over-furnished with water parks. However if you are near to Stoke, Sunderland, Blackpool or Paignton you are in luck as they have WaterWorld, Wet N Wild, Sandcastle and Splashdown respectively.
Britain has it’s fair share of great theme parks. Alton Towers has always led the way with great, high-octane rides, a kiddie-friendly offer and fantastic hotels. Legoland Windsor, Thorpe Park in Surrey as well as Flamingo Land in North Yorkshire and Drayton Manor in Staffordshire are also well worth the trip.
Ignore London. We’ve all been there, got the teddy bear beef eater and looked at the wax works in Madame Tussauds. There are many more interesting cities to see around the UK. Since gaining the title of Capital of Culture in 2008 Liverpool has gone from strength to strength with excellent museums, galleries and places to eat. Glasgow has a similarly vibrant cultural offer as does Cardiff. For more ‘olde worlde’ charm try York, Edinburgh or Chester.
For an altogether slower paced break, try a barge holiday either in the Norfolk broads, North Yorkshire or the Cotswolds. Seeing the countryside drift by while enjoying a cool glass of wine or a nice book is a thoroughly relaxing way to spend a few of your annual leave days. Companies such as Waterways give advice and have a portal to book through. In the words of Mr Alan Partridge “Water-way to have a good time!”
For the active family and cycling trips is high energy and lots of fun. Cycling gives you the freedom to see the country on your own terms, it’s safe and great exercise.