Where to visit in Europe & travel photos of top European destinations
Category Archives: Save on Travel
How to save on travel; find cheap flights, cheap hotels, promotions, discounts, deals and cashbacks to save you money on your European trip. It does take a bit of research to save on travel but using price comparison sites can cut out some of legwork. You can do some cheap travelling in Europe if you go in low season, book in advance with a low cost airline and shop around for the best money saving deals.
Welcome to my blog, you may want to subscribe to my RSS feed. Thanks for visiting!
UK budget hotel chain Premier Inn, highly rated by Europe a la Carte readers, has some £29 rooms on offer for Sunday night stays, in selected hotels during August 2011, in their Summer Sundays promotion. Below are some of destinations with £29 rooms up for grabs, with links to our tips for things to do in that city. I’d advise you to book fast, as promotional room rates are generally snapped up quickly.
Click here to search for all Premier Inn locations.
Typical Premier Inn room
Click here to check for availability of Summer Sundays rooms in Birmingham.
You can save some extra money on purchases using UK cashback sites. In my example below, I could receive a cashback of 12% on an Expedia hotel booking by using TopCashBack. This would be a saving £18.48 on the best rate of £154 per night, found on the HotelsCombined price comparison site. To me, this appears to be the type of scenario in which to use a cashback site, as I’m making the purchase at the lowest available price, then having the chance of saving even more. I wouldn’t be too blinded by a high cashback offer, you need to check that the initial price you pay, excluding cashback, is a good deal, viewing the cashback as a nice extra.
Here are my money saving travel tips to how to save on travel. I reckon if you travel regularly you could save some serious cash by using my tips.
Avoid Airlines Booking Fees
Ryanair seems to be the worst culprit for high card payment (aka admin) fees of £6 per person per flight. Until 30 October 2011 you can avoid these charges if you pay by using any Mastercard prepaid debit card. However from 1 November the only way to avoid these charges will be to pay with a Ryanair branded ‘Cash Passport’ Mastercard prepaid debit card. A Visa Electron card saves you the booking fees with many other airlines such as easyJet and bmibaby.
We stayed at the 4 star Soreda Hotel in Qawra on our Malta trip in May 2011. We didn’t have great expectations of the Soreda Hotel, as it cost £18 per person per night on half board, booked through sunshine.co.uk and the guest reviews were mixed, many saying it was more like a 3 star hotel.
Exterior of the Soreda Hotel
We arrived at the hotel one hour before the official check in time of 2pm. I tested the hotel wifi, which is available in the lobby free of charge, on my mobile phone while waiting to check in and the signal was very good. We were allocated Room 105; although I had requested a room on the top floor when booking on sunshine.co.uk, it is made clear that requests can’t be guaranteed.
Lobby of the Soreda Hotel
We were happy with the room size, general condition and facilities. The wardrobe space was generous with plenty of hangers. There was a fridge and tea and coffee making facilities. It did seem a little mean that the tea bags and coffee sachets were only provided for the first day, then you had to either purchase from a shop or at reception. There were a few patches of mould in the tile grouting and some stains at the bottom of the bath under the shower.
Room 105 a the Soreda Hotel
Room 105 is at the back of the hotel facing into a courtyard which was good from the point of view that there was no traffic noise. However there was no privacy on the balcony, as there were no screens between the balconies. Many guests in neighbouring rooms were smoking on their balcony, so we had to keep the French doors shut to keep out the smell of cigarette smoke.
I had a swim at the hotel’s roof top pool on our first evening. We were pretty tired that evening as we had to get up at 3am to reach Edinburgh Airport for our 7am flight to Malta, so we planned an early night. However it was not to be, as we seemed to be directly above the entertainment stage. The music was so loud, we couldn’t talk or watch TV. Now the entertainment did finish at 11pm. Many guests were staying on an all-inclusive basis, so were down enjoying the entertainment at the bar.
Roof top pool at the Soreda Hotel
After the second night of loud entertainment we decided to request a transfer to a quieter room. Reception were very helpful and offered us a two bedroom apartment in a block across the street from the main hotel, at no extra charge. It was such a relief to be away from the evening noise. The apartment had a double and a single bedroom, a bathroom with shower over the bath and a separate toilet with wash basin. The cooking facilities were limited with a small electric oven with 2 rings on the top. That wasn’t as issue for us as we were staying on half board.
Kitchen area of apartment at Soreda Hotel
Some of the electrical wiring in the apartment looked a bit dodgy, as the wires were not embedded in the walls. The cleaning of the apartment could have been a bit more thorough.
The breakfast at the Soreda Hotel was fine with a selection of hot cooked items including omelette, fried, scrambled and boiled eggs, bacon, beans, fried bread and sausages. There was also a selection of cereals, fruit salad (which was fresh fruit some days and tinned others), fruit juice (which tasted like squash), yoghurt, croissants, cake and bread. The tea and coffee machines were a pain, as they dispensed such small servings, a cappuccino and a small white coffee just filled up one cup. On the whole the dinners were better with delicious soups, an extensive salad buffet, various pastas, a carvery meat, one fish dish and a couple of other meat dishes. There was a good choice of desserts.
Dinner salad buffet at the Soreda Hotel
We spent another two nights at the hotel after our return flight to Edinburgh with Ryanair was cancelled on 24 May due to the ash cloud. We were able to stay on in the same apartment at a cost of 32 Euro per night per person on half board. This was quite a bit more than the £18 a night we paid when booking in advance on the sunshine.co.uk site but still a very reasonable price for short notice. Again reception were very helpful in printing our Ryanair boarding passes for our re-booked flight; this was only possible during office hours but was free of charge.
In summary, we were very happy with our stay at the Soreda Hotel and would rate it as excellent value for money. I probably wouldn’t be saying that if we’d had to remain in Room 105 with that thumping music for the nine nights. However the hotel did allocate us another room very graciously. I’d agree that it’s more like a three star hotel than a four star. I was able to pick up an excellent signal on my netbook on the free wifi in the lobby. The food was pretty good overall.
I want to ask fellow Brits, “Are you are making the most of the UK?”. The term staycation has become increasingly common over the last few years. You can take that to mean literally staying at home, such as in my post “7 Reason to Have a Holiday in Your Own Home” or taking a holiday within the UK.
Whipsiddery Beach in Newquay, Cornwall
Podcast: Are We Brits Making the Most of Our Own Country?
For many Brits, a holiday equates to flying somewhere with better weather than normally found in the UK. Well we’re currently enjoying a warm spell in April 2011, with temperatures higher than some spots in the Med, which does demonstrate that the UK weather can be good too. Then there’s the argument that many destinations abroad offer better value for money.
I’d like to illustrate that you can have great short breaks and holidays in the UK on a budget. My examples have a strong Scottish bias, as I’m Scottish but living in north-east England, so I’m up in Scotland at every opportunity.
At the beginning of April 2011 I stayed for 3 nights at the Travelodge Edinburgh West End for 3 nights paying only £19 a night for a double room on the advance booking saver rate. The hotel is very close to the Dean Gallery and the Gallery of Modern Art, both free to enter, offering wet weather options. One day I walked along the Water of Leith to the Botanic Garden (free to enter), where in addition to admiring the daffodils and rhododendrons, I looked around two art exhibitions at Inverleith House.
View from John Hope Gateway at the Edinburgh Botanic Garden
Another day I drove north to Fife to climb up Falkland Hill. It was touch and go if I’d stay dry as as it was a showery day but I was lucky.
View from ascent of Falkland Hill
I booked 2 nights at the Travelodge Perth Broxden Junction at the start of May 2011 at the price of £15 a night, booked in the Travelodge sale in early April 2011. I love Perthshire and we visited Hermitage at Dunkeld. There’s a leisure pool in Perth, a museum, theatre and concert hall.
Robert Burns statue at the Birks of Aberfeldy in Perthshire
In late July we had a three night Summer break to Helensburgh on the west coast of Scotland based on a £19 a night Travelodge room. The total cost was £80 a night including accommodation, food and transport.
Kilcreggan, near Helensburgh
I hope that reading this has got you planning your next UK staycation.
Travelodge UK are offering £19 Saver rooms for stays during the Half Term holidays between 27 May – 5 June 2011. I did a quick search for availability of £19 rooms in central Scotland and found reasonable availability, except on Saturdays nights. I even found some £19 rooms at my favourite Edinburgh Travelodge, the West End, where I spent three nights earlier this month (paying the £19 a night Saver rate).
Entrance to Edinburgh West End Traveldoge
You’ll need to book your room on the Travelodge site at least 21 days in advance to get the £19 rate but £29 rooms are available up to 7 days before arrival.
I stayed at the Premier Inn Glenrothes in east central Scotland for one night on Saturday 22 January 2011. I managed to bag the room for only £19 a night (room only) during the Christmas sale on the Premier Inn website. Now I recently did a comparison of the two biggest UK budget hotel brands in the UK, Premier Inn versus Travelodge in which I concluded that Travelodge was better mainly due to wider availability of cheaper rooms. However on this occasion a room at the Glenrothes Travelodge for the same night was priced at £23.50.
The Premier Inn Glenrothes is located just off the big roundabout as you drive into the town heading north from Kirkcaldy. There’s plenty of parking at the front and the back of the hotel. I checked in just after 2pm and requested a room at the back of the hotel at the end of the corridor, which I judged would be quieter. The receptionist was very helpful, although I’d already been allocated a room she gave me a room which matched my request.
Exterior of Premier Inn Glenrothes
My room was a good size with the sofa bed made up as a single bed. There’s a thermostat to control the heating and the room was warm within minutes. I also like the fact that there’s a heated towel rail in the bathroom to make it a bit warmer and to avoid soggy towels. The bed was very comfortable but I didn’t like the pillows, they were too soft for my liking.
Breakfast is served next door at the Brewer’s Fayre. It costs £8 per adult but kids eat free with paying adults. I didn’t bother with breakfast at the restaurant, I just ate some cereal and fruit I’d brought with me in my room. I noticed that the restaurant was doing two main courses for £10 and two desserts for £2 Monday – Friday until 18.30, meaning a couple could eat a two course meal for £12,. That seems better value than breakfast for £16 for two guests?
My room at the Premier Inn Glenrothes
While the town of Glenrothes may not be on many peoples’ top Scottish destination list, it does make a good overnight stop as you head north up the east coast from Edinburgh or as a base for spending for exploring the Fife region. Some suggestions of things to do in the area are a visit to Falkland to see the Palace and climb up Falkland Hill, the historic village of Ceres and the seaside town of St Andrews.
I’d recommend the Premier Inn Glenrothes if you can find a cheap room here by booking in advance on the non refundable rate or during a sale.
I was looking forward to staying at that Premier Inn as I really like the location down on the Forth Estuary next to Newhaven Harbour. One big benefit of staying here is the free parking, as parking around Edinburgh city centre is expensive and it can be hard to find a space. The hotel is located around 2 miles from the city centre but there are regular buses from a stop just across from the hotel.
I was delighted with my room at it was on the first floor with an estuary view. The room was a good size with two comfy chairs and a coffee table, as well as a chair at the desk.
My room at Premier Inn Edinburgh Leith
I’d recommend the Premier Inn Edinburgh Leith if you prefer not to be in the city centre and/or are coming to Edinburgh by car. You’ll either need to book well in advance on the non refundable rate or during a promotion, if you want to get a cheap room here. There’s a Brewers Fayre restaurant attached to the hotel, a large Asda supermarket and another couple of pubs within walking distance. The Ocean Terminal shopping and leisure centre and the home of the Royal Yacht Britannia is around half a mile away from the hotel. You can see all my photos/videos of the Premier Inn Edinburgh Leith on Flckr.
There’s a £15 room promotion starting today (Thursday 7 April 2011) on Travelodge UK. It’s only available for stays from 21 April – 4 May 2011, so ideal for the May Bank Holiday in England.
I’d recommend that you get on the Travelodge UK site early to book your £15 room, as these promotions usually sell out fast. This is a great price as many Travelodges have family rooms which can sleep up to 2 adults and 2 children.
Update 10.00 on 7 April 2011: I just booked a couple of nights in Perth for £15 a night. No problems with Travelodge site, I was able to search and book quickly.
I stayed for three nights at the 3 star Days Hotel Manchester City when attending the Travel Bloggers Unite Conference in March 2011. I searched for a hotel that was good value, located in the city centre, offered free internet connection and included breakfast in the rate. I found the Days Hotel Manchester City for £45 a night for a double room for 2 guests including English breakfast buffet on the HotelsCombined price comparison site. I was delighted that the hotel offered free wired internet connection in the room and free wifi in the lobby.
Lobby at Days Hotel Manchester City
It took me around ten minutes to walk to the hotel from Manchester Piccadilly rail station. I received a very warm welcome from the receptionist who checked me in. The hotel is adjacent to student halls of residence. There was some external noise from the students but less than I generally experience in city centre hotels.
My double room at Days Hotels Manchester City
My room, classified as a city double, was beautifully furnished in a contemporary style. I loved the colours and the quality of the fittings. There was good size power shower. It was great to have a wired internet connection as hotel wifi is often unstable. However it was very small for a double and I was quite glad I was staying there alone.
The breakfast buffet was very good, even including smoked salmon and trout. In fact for a 3 star hotel, the spread was as good as in some four star UK hotels.
In summary, I’d recommend the Days Hotel Manchester City for a budget yet quality, if a little cramped, accommodation in Manchester city centre with a very good breakfast and free internet connection.
Click here to search for all hotels in Manchester using the HotelsCombined price comparison site. I’m a big fan of HotelsCombined and it’s my first port of call when searching for the lowest prices on my travels.
The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.