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Hi Michele. My fiancée and I are looking for advice on a luxury honeymoon in January next year. We would like somewhere hot and relaxing but with a few things to do out and about. We don’t mind where it is as long as it’s lovely!! We were looking at about £2000pp for 10-14 days all inclusive. We are also looking to book a mini moon in Europe at the end of October this year, somewhere romantic and picturesque for a few days. For the shorter trip in October we’re pretty open to ideas, say 3-5 nights, not necessarily beach style, I was looking on Secret Escapes at some really lovely rural retreats in Italy and France and something like that would be ideal. If possible, we’d like that one to come in at £500pp max.
Any help you can give us would be fantastic. Thank you
I will start with the shorter ‘mini moon’ first. As you say, Secret Escapes often have some good deals to various European places and it is worth keeping an eye out for deals. If you want to go somewhere that will still be warm in later October, you will have to go reasonably far south as places such as most of France, Lake Garda and Venice in Italy are starting to get pretty cool. I would also recommend avoiding half term week as prices will rise considerably. For most schools this is 23 – 27 October 2017.
My top tip for saving money is to join Top cashback as you can get around 10-12% on hotel bookings and 3-4% on hotel plus flights. I would try eBookers as the first choice for booking the European break if the prices are the same as elsewhere. They normally have the highest rate of cash back for hotel+flight. Also make sure you join their loyalty club as you will get credit to spend on your next trip with them. Expedia is also worth a look.
Where to go in Europe
For a romantic mini break I would recommend either the Amalfi coast in Italy or Dubrovnik in Croatia. Both of these will still be reasonably warm at around 18-22c.
The Amalfi coast has a range of destinations such as Sorrento which is the main tourist centre. This is busy but relatively unspoilt with a wide choice of restaurants and hotels. It will be a quieter time to visit so prices should be reasonable. From here you can visit Pompeii, as well as the other pretty villages along the coast. You could also base yourself in Positano, a pretty village winding down the hill to a beach which has good boat connections. Ravello is a smaller option which is up in the hills but has amazing views.
British Airways has a sale on until 21 March and there are plenty of hotels in the Amalfi area featured for under £500pp including business class flights for 3 nights. The link is here.
Dubrovnik has some beautiful hotels and is a lovely UNESCO world heritage city on the coast. I would recommend the Excelsior hotel overlooking the old town, which is just a short stroll away from the action. If you just want to lounge, the hotel has a good spa and plenty of restaurants, shops and bars within walking distance. If you want to get out and about you can do a wine tour with beautiful scenery along the peninsula. Alternatively catch a boat to one of the islands or the coastal town of Cavtat, which is a lovely place for lunch or dinner. British Airways have holidays for under £500pp for 3 nights including business class flights, although they don’t have the Excelsior. Expedia has the Excelsior and business class flights for just over £500pp. If you use either of these I would recommend using Top cashback to get up to 4% back on the cost.
You may decide to go economy for such a short flight. As a treat you could buy lounge access which you can normally get for around £20pp. I will be doing a feature on paid lounge access options shortly.
Worldwide honeymoon options
If you want to go somewhere with a few things to do, I would probably rule out the Caribbean, Maldives and Mauritius even though these are traditional honeymoon destinations. For value for money and good weather, I would aim for South East Asia. I sugest considering Vietnam, Langkawi in Malaysia and Thailand or Bali. Very few hotels do all inclusive in South East Asia, as prices are generally pretty cheap. You would be better just paying as you go. You can normally get Qatar business class sale fares from Oslo, Stockholm and Helsinki to Bangkok, Singapore for around £1000pp or less. Bali, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh city in Vietnam are slightly more at around £1300pp. Qatar will be introducing their new business class suites this year which I talked about here.
Firstly you could consider Vietnam. Vietnam has become a much more sophisticated destination in recent years with 5 star hotels, fantastic food and lots to see and do. It also has great beaches and is still good value for money. A romantic trip to take is an overnight cruise in stunning Halong Bay. There are also the cities of Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi to explore plus the beach areas along the coast for some relaxation.
Another option would be Langkawi, an island off the coast of Malaysia. You could combine this with a short stop over in Singapore or Kuala Lumpur. The choice would probably depend on which was cheaper to fly to with Qatar. Both cities have plenty to do and lots of luxury hotel options. Kuala Lumpur is normally cheaper to stay and eat in. Flights to Langkawi from either stop off are cheap, at around £80pp. A couple of options in Langkawi around the main town are the Bon Ton resort which is a boutique, traditional style resort in huts at around £155 per room per night. The other option is the Casa del Mar. This is another boutique resort within walking distance of plenty of restaurants and shops. It works out around £200 per room per night. If you wanted more peace and quiet, The Danna resort is more isolated but very luxurious at £200per night. For things to do I recommend a mangrove tour to see the wildlife, including monkeys. There is also a cable car, sky bridge and a night market.
This is the option that is furthest away, but very good value once you are there. Flying time is around 16 hours plus any stop off. Prices for a decent luxury hotel start at around £150 per room with private pool villas around the £200 mark. Hiring a driver for the day is really cheap so I recommend getting about to see some of the beautiful temples and countryside. Malaysian airlines were doing some very good deals at under £2000 per person in business class including hotel for 10 days. It is worth keeping an eye out for more of these deals.
Finally Thailand is a good option weather wise in January. If you are heading to Koh Samui, then it is best to leave it to later January, as there is less chance of rain. You could spend a couple of nights in Bangkok at somewhere like the Shangri-la hotel which is set on the bank of the river. Then you could head to either Phuket or Koh Samui islands. Both have a mix of relaxation and things to do and see. Thai cookery courses are a good option if you like the food. In Koh Samui, if you wanted a big choice of hotels and plenty of nightlife/restaurants, you could stay in Chaweng. This is the busiest resort on the island. I recommend Poppies, which is a boutique hotel on the beach, at the quieter end of Chaweng. It features romantic Thai style cottages set in tropical gardens, with outdoor bathrooms. They are around £244 per night. Otherwise, for somewhere quieter but with things within walking distance, I would recommend staying around Fisherman’s village/Bophut. The Anantara is a luxurious hotel for around £189 per night.
Most of these options would come in just over £2000pp by the time you had added in the cost of getting to Scandinavia and any internal flights in Asia. The next Qatar sale is likely to be in April or May. It may be worth deciding on where you want to go before then, so you can snap up a bargain.