A luxury vacation to the United Kingdom isn’t only for the deep-pocketed set, said Nicola Butler, the owner of NoteWorthy, a London travel company specializing in upscale trips around Britain.
“The favorable exchange rate between the dollar and the pound make the United Kingdom a more affordable destination in general, and there are other ways to have a high-end trip without paying high-end prices,” she said.
Here are Butler’s top tips.
Book with a travel adviser
There’s value to be had, Butler said, by booking your trip with a travel adviser who is part of a travel network such as Signature, Ensemble, American Express or Virtuoso. These advisers can get you extras for free at your hotel such as breakfast, food and beverage credits, spa credits and sizable welcome amenities (a bottle of brand-name Champagne, for instance). An adviser who specializes in Britain will also have the connections to arrange perks such as a backstage tour of a theater or a skip the line entry to a popular attraction.
When in cities, rely on walking to get around
Private cars and taxis can ratchet up the cost of your trip significantly because fuel costs in Britain are high — a day of sightseeing in London by taxi, for example, can easily run a few hundred pounds. Save money, and get some exercise at the same time, by using walking as your main mode of transportation. Fortunately, according to Butler, many cities in the Britain such as Bath, Oxford, Glasgow and York are best explored on foot. “You’ll discover hidden treasures and appreciate your surroundings more by walking,” she said. “The money you save is a bonus.”
Splurge on breakfast and tea
Britain is famous for its hearty breakfasts and lavish afternoon teas. Enjoying either or both traditions at a luxury hotel like Claridge’s, in London, or The Balmoral Hotel, in Edinburgh, is 50 percent less expensive than dinner in a pricey restaurant but has the same sense of extravagance. “You’ll enjoy delicious food and doting service and spend time in a luxe ambience without breaking the bank,” Butler said.
Visit lesser known areas
Sure, London and Edinburgh are popular destinations, but they’re also expensive. A getaway to a less-discovered region, such as Norfolk (home to the Queen’s country retreat, Sandringham Estate) or Sussex (home to the 14th-century Bodiam Castle), on the other hand, is more manageable on a budget. “You can stay in lovely, locally owned hotels, eat in nice restaurants and see great sights for 30 percent less than what the same experience would cost you in a more touristy city,” Butler said.
Consider a January trip
If chilly days don’t bother you, January is the cheapest month to take a vacation to Britain. “The hotels have the lowest prices, and since tourism is usually weak, restaurants, theaters and museums offer deals to boost business,” Butler said.