One of the reasons I set up this blog is to be able to help couples with advice regarding their own honeymoons – whether it’s choosing a destination or finding the perfect hotel – and so I’m always delighted to receive emails from people looking for a little inspiration. I recently received the following email from Rosalyn:
I don’t know if you will be able to help me but I am struggling to find a honeymoon. We are getting married on the 18th December and would like to go away from the 19/20th until the 2/3rd Jan. I know this is peak travel time but as a teacher I am restricted in dates. We have about £3500 to spend and are very open to any destination but are having trouble finding anything for our budget. Do you have any suggestions of places that might be able to help us?
Travelling over Christmas is always going to be more expensive than at other times of year – and so you will find your budget more limiting than it would be at others. Without knowing any more specifics about your requirements, I’ve put together a few options in the hope that one or two might tickle your fancy. Your best options will be to book through a tour operator – this will get you the best prices for flights and hotels, ensuring you get more for your money. I’d especially recommend contacting Travel Counsellors, Destinology and Kuoni, as well as looking at internet sites like Expedia.
If you’ve got your heart set on somewhere exotic for your honeymoon then you may well have to consider going for less than two weeks in order to be able to afford it – but it’s always worth shopping around to see what special offers different tour operators have, and you never know what they might be able to pull out of the bag for you if they know that it’s your honeymoon.
Here’s a few ideas I put together; all prices are for two people and include flights and accommodation, unless otherwise specified, from London, and were correct at the time of research.
Exotic enough to feel like you’re definitely far from home, yet only a few hours’ flight away (and, even better, with no jet lag), North Africa makes a good choice if you fancy spending a bit of time on the beach. Winters here are mild, but you should only need a jacket or a light jumper in the evenings – during the day you should find the weather warm (and sunny) enough for some beach time. My two picks here would be Egypt and Morocco. In the former, head to Sharm el Sheikh to make the most of the excellent diving and snorkelling, plus good trips into the desert, while in Morocco, the laid-back beach town of Essaouira makes a great place to kick back and relax – you could even combine it with a few days in Marrakech to break it up a bit.
Destinology have two weeks in Sharm el Sheikh from 20th December to 3rd January for £2488, staying at the five-star Maritim Royal Peninsula Hotel and Resort. Kuoni are offering fourteen nights in a mini-suite in the small but charming Hotel Riad Les Terrasses D’Essaouira for just £2544.
The Caribbean is by and large likely to be a bit beyond your price range, but it’s worth considering Cuba if you want a beach holiday in the region. The island’s tropical climate means that winters here are warm (even hot) and sunny – perfect for lazing by the pool or on the beach. Thomson has fourteen nights from 19th December at the three-star Brisas Guardalavaca for £3010.
I love Europe in winter – with fewer tourists around you can really get a feel for the cities, and often you’re rewarded by beautiful, clear, crisp days where the sun makes the old buildings light up magically. My choice would be to head over to Paris on the Eurostar, and from there you’ve got access to many other wonderful European cities via the excellent High Speed Rail Network. Head somewhere like Vienna to really soak up the Christmas feel at its markets, to Berlin for fantastic nightlife, or perhaps even to Venice (via night train – definitely very romantic) or Rome to discover just how beautiful the Italian cities are at this time of year. Travelling around by train and staying in four-star hotels should all fit fairly comfortably within your budget (you may even be able to squeeze in some five-stars), though you’ll probably have to book it all yourself – use a combination of Eurostar, Rail Europe and Expedia for the best deals.
Los Angeles and the desert
For a bit of old-fashioned US glamour, head over to LA and then out towards the desert at the now hip-again resort town of Palm Springs. Expedia can do a package including flights, 14 days car hire and seven-days accommodation in the four star Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel for £2025 – all you need to do then is to book seven nights elsewhere. Try Mr and Mrs Smith, who offer seven nights in the very cool and slightly retro Ace Hotel Palm Springs for just £985. Alternatively, head properly into the desert to beautiful Joshua Tree National Park, where i-escape have seven nights at Spin and Margie’s Desert Hide-away (one of my favourite places to stay – see here) for just £570. That’ll leave a nice bit of money left over for shopping…
Though it might not be quite the honeymoon you anticipated, there’s absolutely no shame in staying in the UK for your honeymoon – you could always have a low-key honeymoon in December, and then a trip abroad during the summer holidays. You could spend a bit of time in some lovely hotels, and then hire a cottage for a week or so somewhere beautiful like Dartmoor or Northumberland, where you both will be happy to hide yourselves away even if the weather is awful. Check out HomeAway Holiday Rentals for some excellent self-catering options (or see my post here); for hotels, Mr and Mrs Smith and i-escape are always good places to start.
Alternatively, honeymoon for less time
If you want to go further afield, then your best option would be to go away for a week or ten days, rather than two weeks. This is a great time of year to visit Thailand – Destinology have seven nights at the five-star Anantara Bophut on the beautiful island of Koh Samui for £3240, travelling from 20th to 27th December.
Another option is the Caribbean: Kuoni have seven nights in the Grotto Bay Beach Resort in Bermuda, travelling from 21st to 28th December, for £2202. That would leave you with enough extra money that you could do something else – perhaps have a few nights in a B&B or hotel back in the UK, or hop across to Paris or Belgium (or further afield) on the Eurostar and spend a bit of time there.
I’m always happy to help with any honeymoon questions that you may have – large or small – so do drop me a line if you have any questions.