Say ‘weekend away’ and we often think instinctively of boarding the EuroStar to Paris and wandering along the boulevards or strolling along eating tapas and taking in the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. If you want a bit of winter sun you may even have considered jetting off to Marrakech. But there might be somewhere just as unique fascinating on your doorstep which you could discover with a UK city break.
The only drawback is generally expense, especially if you’ve been saving up for ages, or have had to take out a student loan and are now needing to set funds aside to pay that back each month. Even a short break in a British city can cost dearly – as much as going abroad in a lot of cases. If you’re going as a family, costs can quickly mount up and before you know it, your long weekend in the UK is almost as much as a short haul week in the sun. But you don’t need to let loan repayments or high travel costs stop you from exploring the world.
If you’re savvy, there are ways to save money on breaks in Britain. You just have to think a little outside of the box.
Pay Less For Hotel Rooms
One of the biggest expenses with getting away in the UK is the cost of your hotel room. These days, everything is driven by online reviews, so the best rated hotels on TripAdvisor will tend to book up quickly or command a higher price. Getting a good deal depends on your destination. While countryside hotels, located somewhere like the Lake District, have far more bookings at the weekend, those in a city centre like Manchester often reduce room rates at the weekend because their peak demand is from business travellers during the week. Take a look at some different dates to work out the pattern, and see if it’s possible to be flexible with your travel plans to get the best deal. If breakfast is not included in your room rate, use Google Maps to find a great local cafe for your morning latte instead, as that’s another way to save cash and also experience something different. If you’re travelling with kids, you might want to consider a stay at a Youth Hostel. Modern hostels are a world away from ones you may remember visiting with your brownie pack years ago – modern ones have great facilities and usually offer some private rooms as well.
Overnight On A Sunday
Sundays tend to be the quietest night for most establishments – the weekend crowd have checked out and headed home and business travellers are yet to arrive – so it’s often when you can get the best deal. Sometimes that means a reduced rate on the room, other times you can also gain more value – offers such as complimentary meals or spa treatments included in the price are a common way hotels boost their Sunday trade. It’s also worth hunting down some ‘three for the price of two’ deals that are likely to be on offer – these often mean a half price stay on a Sunday if you book in for Friday and Saturday nights.
Walk Around To See The Sights
Think you need to take your car and pay to park? Why not try a car-free break? This works really well for city centres like Nottingham, Bath, Bristol, Oxford, or Edinburgh where the centres are quite compact and easily accessed by foot. In fact, you generally get to see a lot more in this way and gain a different view of the city than you may otherwise get. If you choose a hotel in a central location, it’s usually quite easy to get around and see the sights. In fact you can often find city guide walking tours you can access on your smartphone.
Look For A City Pass
A lot of city destinations offer a city pass scheme which offers you reduced price entry to local attractions and often a discount at certain bars and restaurants too, so if you plan your visit carefully, they can save you a lot of money. Work out in advance what attractions you want to visit in order to get the most value from your pass. The London Pass is especially worthwhile if you’re planning to check off a lot of the tourist attractions in one hit. And if you’re heading north of the border, Edinburgh also does it’s own version called the Edinburgh Royal Ticket that is well worth a look.
Visit Free Attractions
The best thing about a break in the UK is that there’s so many options for free attractions as well. If you visit London practically your whole weekend’s entertainment can be free, with the Science Museum, Natural History Museum, the British Museum, the National Gallery and the V&A all free to enter – although donations are encouraged. Attractions like the Imperial War Museum in Manchester, the Ashmolean in Oxford and the National Rail Museum in York are all free entry as well.
Do you have any other tips to add?