Monday, 14 October 2013

Warning - When is a package holiday not a package?

I have recently booked "holiday packages" using companies such as Low cost holidays and Travel Republic

In the opening pages of the websites you have an option to book a package of flight and hotel and later add in airport transfers, insurance car hire and more.

The company put the deal together for you, total it all up and you pay a single price to them.  Sounds like a package deal doesn't it?  Well that is where the similarity ends especially if you have any problems later on.

Here is an example of how we found out otherwise.

Within 2 weeks of departure we heard that the hotel had been overbooked and was no longer available.

The options offered were to change to another hotel or to cancel.

Alternative hotels offered were nowhere near as good as the one booked (mainly because prices had gone up a lot since the booking was made and the hotels being offered were price based.).

It turns out the cancellation and full refund offered is only for the hotel.  The budget flights, airport transfers and other extras each have their own cancellation charges which within 2 weeks of travel are often 100%.

So bearing in mind this leaves you losing out whichever way you decide to go are there any advantages of booking this kind of package?

Seems to me that you might as well either:-
Book all the components individually with whoever offers the cheapest price on each one
Or pay a premium price and book a complete package with a company such as Thomas Cook or Thomson

Saturday, 12 October 2013

If you only visit one stately home in England I suggest this one ...

We recently visited Chatsworth House near Chesterfield in Derbyshire.  As members of National Trust we thought we had seen some really good examples but this trumped the lot.

The building itself is magnificent from the outside but the interior just blows you away.  There are more rooms on show than in any other property and each one seems to have something that makes you go "wow".

Admission is quite steep at £16 per adult for house and garden but I still feel it is money well spent.

You walk around the house in your own time and within each room there are written guides (in many languages) and also someone who you can ask direct questions of.

In the chapel the Damien Hirst sculpture was a bit gruesome showing Saint Bartholomew skinning himself alive.

Many rooms have magnificent painted ceilings and the owners have added a sculpture room and modern art area.

After working your way through the house you end up in the gardens where there are a number of cafes.  We found the meal deal at £8 was enough for us to share.  A choice of sandwich, salad or freshly made pasty, any drink plus a slice of home baked cake.

You could spend a whole day in the gardens just wandering around.  There are many different sections designed at different stages and all around you keep coming across sculptures.  Luckily when we visited there were additional ones as an exhibition.

I won't spoil it by telling you too much but highly recommend a visit and maybe the following photos will inspire you.