Sarah Loughlin hunts down the best travel deals for holidays in March.
March can be a very tense time in the office, being the final month of the holiday calendar for some companies. It brings to light that there are two types of person in every office. Person A has neither the time nor inclination to take vacation days. Person B works solely for vacations and uses up all allotted days in the first few months of said year…
Person A spends March complaining HR are insisting they take their remaining days off, even though they have far too much work to do (they will almost definitely come into the office on at least one of these ‘days off’); while Person B wishes March away staring longingly out of the office window and browsing last minute holidays that they can’t go on, trying not to throw office supplies at Person A.
For those lucky people who have squirrelled away some time, here are three great deals for this month…
A Weekend: Three nights in a prison cell in Stockholm, Sweden – Friday 20th March – Monday 23rd March £156.50
Flights from London Stansted to Stockholm Skavsta are just £50 return for next weekend. The bus from Skavsta airport to Stockholm takes 1h20 and costs £21.50 return; you can book your ticket in advance. The weather in the next few weeks doesn’t look too cold but it can get down to below freezing at this time of year so take lots of layers!
There are many different types of accommodation in Stockholm to fit every budget. For a quirky cheap get away why not stay in a prison cell! This hostel set up in an old prison is not ideal for couples because there are bunkbeds, but is definitely a quirky way to spend a weekend! And is great value, working out at roughly £75 per person for three nights based on two people sharing a cell with a private shower and toilet. If you don’t fancy bunk beds or just want to treat yourself why not upgrade to a double cell in the hotel part of the prison, £175 per person for three nights including breakfast. Both the hotel and hostel have good reviews on TripAdvisor.
If it’s not too chilly take a walk around the the old town (Gamla Stan) and maybe visit to the Royal Palace. There are guided tours of the Palace from Tuesday-Sunday between 11am-3pm included in the price of your ticket (£12), check out the website for more details.
The Vasa museum was my favourite part of our Stockholm trip; it houses the 17th century warship ‘Vasa’ which after sinking on her maiden voyage spent 300 years at the bottom of the sea. She is now on display and you can learn all about the history of the boat at the museum. If you have time head to Skansen, which is an open air history museum and zoo; well worth a visit!
A Week Skiing: Seven nights skiing in La Plagne, France – Saturday the 14th of March to Saturday 21st of March £399
Although the sun is out there is still plenty of skiing to be had! The snow in La Plagne looks good, with just under 10cm of powder forecast over the next week. for £399 you can stay in the Chalet Vidal for seven nights including flights from London Gatwick, return transfers to resort, and chalet board. Which includes breakfast, afternoon tea and six three course evening meals with wine. The chalet is in Plagne 1800, and is a short walk from the ski lifts. There is currently a special offer for this week which means that for £210 you get an area lift pass instead of a local lift pass, giving you access to the whole Paradiski area, rather than just La Plagne.
For a mid afternoon beer on the piste try Bar Fort Colorado a wooden fort on the piste just above Plagne Centre with deck chairs and music playing, ideal for sunny spring afternoons!
From where the chalet is in Plagne 1800 you can easily access other villages in resort such as Plagne Centre. Buses run every 15 minutes from 08.30am to 00.50am. So if you fancy a bit of cheeky apres at Scottys you don’t have to worry about getting back to the chalet in time for tea!
A Week in the Sun: Seven nights in Dubai, United Arab Emirates – Tuesday 17th March – Wednesday 25th March £745
Fly with Oman Air from London Heathrow to Dubai for £288 return. There are cheaper flights available but these flights strike the balance between convenient timings, flight length and price. Leaving the UK just after 9pm on Tuesday evening means you can go from work to the airport and travel over night; arriving in Dubai to start your holiday just after 11am on the Wednesday.
As with the flights, there are definitely cheaper hotels available, but Dubai is all about spoiling yourself a little bit! Stay at the 5* Sheraton Dubai Creek Hotel and Towers for £457 per person based on two people sharing. Located close to the old town this hotel is good value for a bit of luxury, with great views and an outdoor pool. The hotel is located only a ten minute walk to the metro station, so if you are budget conscious this is a great way to get around; the metro is clean and cheap. Taxis in Dubai are also fairly cheap compared to London so if you are travelling with a group it works out cheaper. The metro is not extensive so you may have to get taxis depending on where you want to go. From one side of Dubai to the other should cost no more than about £10, make sure you get a regular taxi and not a Lexus or hotel taxi as these will cost more. The best places to grab a taxi when out and about are at the entrance to a big hotel or shopping mall.
Catching some rays… Although the public beaches in Dubai do not have the services of the swanky private beach clubs, they are free, clean, and full of lovely white sand! For a nice chilled out beach day try Umm Suqeim Public Beach which has views of the Burj Al Arab.
Dubai is home to a number of water parks, including Aquaventure, which is part of the Atlantis Hotel on the Palm. I am not one for water parks normally, but this place is incredible! Definitely an all day affair, it is roughly the same price as theme parks in the UK, so get there early to avoid queues and make the most of the day! After a hard day of sunbathing on a rubber ring in the lazy river, treat yourself to a Cold Stone Creamery on the way out of the hotel. If you have never been to one before, and you like ice-cream, this is the place for you. Choose your own flavour combinations and then watch them skilfully juggle your ice-cream and throw it into a cup without even looking! Best. Day. Ever.
However, if you don’t fancy venturing out why not just have a pool day at the hotel with a good book!
Fancy a spot of shopping? From the Sheraton it is just a 25 minute meander along the waterfront to the famous spice souk. From the spice souk you can take an Abra (small wooden boat) over to the textile souk for only one dirham (about 20p). This area of town is great to see a bit of the history of Dubai, but remember to cover your shoulders and knees when out and about in this area because although very liberal, it is arabic country. Not only is it respectful to the local culture, you will also feel more comfortable because you may get people staring at you if you wear something revealing in this area of Dubai. If you want to learn more about the culture and heritage, why not stop for breakfast or lunch at the cultural centre. The Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding offers a chance to have a traditional Emirati meal in old Dubai and find out about the culture and history, prices start from about £15 and you have to book in advance.
Dubai is also known for its modern shopping malls, housing not only every shop you could ever want but also attractions such as an indoor ski slope, an aquarium, and a waterfall! The malls are open late so a great place to go for a post dinner stroll.
Eating and drinking… Where to start? There is so much going on in Dubai, you cant try everything… but here are my fave picks through out the week. For a full list of ideas see Time Out.
Wednesday After a long flight from London you will need to rehydrate! Why not try Vida Downtown’s Cheese and Wine night. For just £28 you get three glasses of wine and a cheese buffet. The bar is small and relaxed with a great atmosphere.
Thursday – Head for dinner at Zaroob for the best arabic food you have ever had. And it’s a bargain to boot! Sit outside under the fariy lights a sip your lemon mint while chatting with friends – ideal! If you fancy a drink afterwards take a short taxi ride to the H hotel and head to the entrance of the 40 Kong rooftop bar – just to the right of the hotel. You will be whisked up in the lift and emerge on the roof which has a great atmosphere and panoramic views.
Friday – The Saturday of the Middle East, Friday is a tough one in Dubai. With so many things going on, how will you choose? For me its got to be brunch. Who doesn’t love getting all dressed up 11am in a fancy frock and eating and drinking all day long? There are brunches to suit all sorts of groups and budgets, why not try the quirky picnic brunch at Vida Downtown. Set in the chic courtyard next to the pool you collect your picnic basket full of drinks and then head to your table. Its a mix of buffet and table service. Both the service and food are great, and for £55 eating and drinking alcohol all day its a pretty good deal! Brunch is served from 1pm-5pm but people seem to arrive early to dig in to the picnic! You can also upgrade to a cabana by the pool for £18 per person. Best to reserve a table in advance.
Saturday – After brunch you are going to need a bit of fresh air and a chilled out evening to recover. What better than a sunset cruise around the creek on your very own BBQ donut? The floating BBQ’s seat eight people and you need to book a time slot in advance. Incredible food, and relaxing atmosphere, perfect way to end the day!
Sunday After the amazing donut feast you wont want to eat again for a while, but incase you do feel peckish head to the Mango Tree, a great Thai place with a terrace overlooking the Dubai Fountains. Make sure to call ahead and make a reservation; ask for a table on the Terrace so you can watch the fountain shows over dinner. Afterwards head to Calabar at the Address Downtown to the super relaxed garden and have a cocktail while chilling out on a bean bags.
Monday – Like Margaritas? Claw has 2-4-1 Margarita Mondays! And also a great food menu.
Tuesday – Ladies nights in Dubai are a mid-week treat for the credit card! With exclusive night clubs such as Mahiki offering free entry and free drinks for ladies there is no excuse not to have an amazing last night before sleeping it off on the plane the next day!
For more ideas about great holiday deals check out my previous post ‘How to Fly for £17 Return’.
All prices and availability were accurate on Wednesday the 11th of March; please check websites for up to date pricing.