Sunday, 16 November 2014

Holidays for singles v holidays by yourself.

I've been travelling by myself since I was 18, admittedly I stick to the well known, and sensibly priced, areas - Spain, Germany and the UK - and once budget airlines were readily available I started booking accommodation and flights separately.

And saved a lot of money, generally a couple of hundred pounds per trip.

Booking directly with a hotel, or at least not using the High Street travel agents, mostly removes the single supplement.

Nowadays, however, more and more companies are advertising singles holidays, but are they worth the high prices?

One particular solo traveller company is offering a week in Calella, Costa Brava, in June next year (2015) for just over £1200 per person

It includes return flights with BA from Gatwick to Barcelona, and 7 nights of unspecified board at the Hotel Garbi.

Now if you book this yourself, the BA flights cost £251 for Business Class or you could do it for about £100 Economy.

The Hotel Garbi can be booked for £41 per night Half Board, this is £287 for 7 nights.

I've not stopped at the Hotel Garbi, but I do pass it on a daily basis when I stay in Calella as it is opposite the beach, and it looks clean and well kept.

So booking separately, this is a total of £538 per person, flying Business Class.  So what is the additional £700 for?

Has anyone ever booked a singles holiday?  Are they worth the additional cost?

Monday, 10 November 2014

Novotel Birmingham Centre, Broad Street, Birmingham.

The Novotel is a 4 star hotel situated right on Broad Street in Birmingham city centre.  It is a short walk from both the ICC and the NIA as well as all the bars on Broad Street itself.

The foyer is light and airy, there is plenty of seating available, a play area (this seems to be compulsory these days wherever you go), and the reception staff are friendly and efficient.  Check in was dealt with very quickly, you have the option of 1 or 2 keycards for your room which is a very good idea.

The corridors are clean and brightly lit, there is a shoe shine machine on each floor.

I had booked and paid for a single room, but was given a room with a double bed, the double sofa bed had also been made up meaning that as well as not being able to use the sofa, the space in the room was reduced.

The bathroom was bright, however the sink drained very slowly due to the strange shape, I prefer proper bowl shaped sinks but that is just personal preference.  The shower screen was a bit narrow which allowed some of the spray to escape onto the floor.  However, there was plenty of hot water and the shower was easy to use compared to some places I have stayed.

The toilet was separate and did not look like it had been updated since the 70s, but it was clean and fit for purpose, there was also an energy saving light in there which didn't really reach full brightness until you were just about to switch it off.

There were the usual tea and coffee making facilities along with the added benefit of a mini fridge, which I imagine was originally the mini bar.  Unusually for a UK hotel, there was also a safe.

The television was fantastic, better than my home set, there was the option to plug your ipod/iphone into the set if you wanted to listen to your music.

My main concern was the interconnecting door with the neighbouring room with what seemed like quite a flimsy lock, it was opposite the bathroom.  I am not an easily scared person, but there is something about interconnecting doors in a hotel which I do not like.

Breakfast was served from 7am which is fantastic for early risers.  There was a central island with all variety of cereal, fruit and fruit juice.

On a counter along the side of the room, were various cold cuts of meat and cheese, there was also buffet style hot items if you prefer a Full English breakfast.  Unfortunately, these items were lukewarm at best.

Coffee or tea was made on request and brought directly to your table.

Overall, it was a well appointed, clean and friendly hotel.  Would I stay there again?  Yes, but only if the price was right and I would eat breakfast elsewhere.