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DestinationsEurope

Top 10 Gay Friendly Hotels in Europe

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These top 10 gay friendly hotels in Europe will ensure you get the scene, beach, or rest and relaxation, that you are looking for.

 

Fancy a romantic getaway with that someone special, travelling solo, or planning a party weekend with friends? Choosing the right gay friendly hotels can make such a difference. Choose funky urban hideouts, cosy welcoming B&Bs or ultra modern beach clubs. From Barcelona to Berlin, Sitges to the South of France, there are so many options to choose from – but where to start? I asked LGBTQ+ holiday specialist Shane Coburn from The Holiday Shop for his recommendations. Let’s take a look at his top 10 gay friendly hotels in Europe.

gay friendly hotels
 

 

 

1. Axel Hotel – Barcelona, Spain

This trendy urban hotel is located in the centre of Barcelona’s gay district “Gayxample”. This adult-only retreat offers a luxurious, modern and fun place to meet up, or stay, in the heart of Barcelona’s gay scene. With its roof top Sky Bar overlooking the sea, this hotel is perfect by day or night. With only 101 rooms, this hotel is relatively small for Barcelona, but it is no underdog. Each room is carefully designed to create an atmosphere unrivalled, offering light airy rooms, soundproofed for a great night’s sleep!

gay friendly hotels in barcelona

View flights here   Book hotel here  
 

 

 

2. ME Sitges Terramar – Sitges, Spain.

The contemporary ME Sitges Terramar is the sophisticated choice in one of Spain’s most popular resort towns. This chic coastal hotel boasts a seafront location in the bustling Paseo Maritimo, close to the lively bars and upmarket restaurants. Playing host to its own Beach Club, Besito, makes this state-of-the-art hotel stand out from the crowd.

 

 
Sitges is well known among the LGBTQ+ community and is no stranger to gay friendly hotels. ME Sitges Terramar however, is cutting-edge and is one of the best in the area. ME offers a number of room categories from Aura Rooms to Chic Suites all of which will leave a lasting impression. With daily flights into Barcelona you can treat yourself to a weekend break or a week long holiday at any time of year.

gay friendly hotels in sitges

View flights here   Book hotel here
 

 

 

3. Hotel Morgana – Rome Italy

Rome is underrated when it comes to LGBTQ+ holidays, and Hotel Morgana is a perfect example of why Rome should not be overlooked for short break. Located in the heart of Rome next to Roma Termini (Rome’s central train station), Hotel Morgana is
within easy walking distance to all the night-life you need for a lively weekend. Whether you fancy cocktails in Company Roma or the laid-back cosiness of Coming Out, you have it all on your doorstep.

 

 
Although this hotel is not as high-tech as some of the above gay friendly hotels, it makes up for this with its own unique charm. It combines old Italian style with modern design very tastefully. Hit the gym, box your breakfast to go, hire a vespa and see the sights. The Colosseum, Roman Forum, Trevi Fountain and Spanish steps are all close by!

gay friendly hotels in europe

View flights here   Book hotel here
 

 

 

4. Ace Hotel – London, UK

You don’t have to go far to get the best LGBTQ+ experience Europe has to offer. The Ace Hotel in Shoreditch, London, is renowned among the gay community as one of London’s top hot-spots. There are ACE hotels all over the world, but Ace London is the original ACE hotel and some say the best!

 

 
Playing host to some of the world’s most well-known LGBTQ hotspots, such as G-A-Y London, the Ace Hotel is a lively, yet classic, destination for the gay friendly traveller. The Ace Hotel prides itself on its inclusiveness and individuality, offering an old take on the new world. This hotel sure knows a thing or two about design – I love the mix of modern and antique. Its mid-range price point also helps it to land a spot in my top 10 gay friendly hotels in Europe.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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View flights here   Book hotel here
 

 

 

5. Bill & Coo Suites – Mykonos Town, Greece

Although there are no direct flights to Mykonos from Ireland operating at present, please don’t let this deter you from visiting. Mykonos is a beautiful Greek Island and offers so much for the LGBTQ+ traveller, and you can easily reach Mykonos by land or sea via Athens…

 

 
Bill & Coo Suites is a seafront 5* Luxury Boutique hotel just 500m from Mykonos town, offering sunset views from 15 breath-taking suites. With only 24 guest rooms in total, you can expect service above and beyond your expectations. Bill & Coo is so much more than a hotel, I would describe it as a lifestyle. Two of the best restaurants on the Island call Bill & Coo home, complimented by the Valmont SPA, this hotel is a real treat. It is easy to see how it earned its place as one of The Leading Hotels Of The World – its heaven!

gay friendly hotels

View flights here   Book hotel here
 

 

 

6. Hotel DUO – Paris, France

Located in the beating heart that is Le Marais, Paris’ gay district, this hotel is all about design design design! Le Marais is home to the best gay culture that Paris has to offer, an energetic, arty and welcoming neighbourhood. Filled with bakeries, galleries and bars for all tastes, and only minutes away from Notre Dame, this 4-star hotel is a great option, even on a budget. The gay scene in Paris is as you would imagine, warm, inviting, safe and hard to resist. The location of this beautiful Hotel DUO could not offer more – it is a really exciting find!

gay friendly hotels in paris

View flights here   View hotel here
 

 

 

7. Axel Hotel – Berlin, Germany

Contemporary and charming, this is a unique find in the German capital. The Axel is a stylish, cosmopolitan hotel, just steps away from the legendary department store, KaDeWe – it is a location after my own heart. An adult-only hotel, Axel Berlin offers sleek rooms with a lot of personality and roof top views to amaze. Grab a cocktail from the bar and spend the evening soaking in the jacuzzi, or just stay at the bar planning the evening ahead! Axel do not describe themselves as Gay/LBGT Friendly, but instead boast, “we are heterofriendly”, a playful way to be more inclusive.

gay friendly hotels in berlin

View flights here   Book hotel here
 

 

 

8. Gold by Marina – Playa Del Ingles, Gran Canaria

Located right next to the famous Yumbo Centre in Playa Del Ingles, and only moments from the beach, this is the perfect choice for fun in the sun. Beautiful spacious rooms that were previously apartments, have been decorated with a light touch. The rooms still have a kitchenette, which can be handy if travelling with a group of friends. My top tip is go to the pool for midday and grab a cabana! It is only a short swim across to the bar, where they serve the best cocktails. 🍸

gay hotels in the canary islands

View flights here   Book hotel here
 

 

 

9. First Hotel Twentyseven – Copenhagen, Denmark

Modern Danish Design just off Radhuspladsen, First Hotel Twentyseven will not break the bank. Its central location has surprisingly, not given this hotel the expensive price tag Copenhagen is generally known for. Twentysevn offers some really interesting facilities, such as a bar… but not just any bar – Twentyseven is home to an Ice bar! 

 

 
If you fancy something a little hotter, you will find the most celebrated LGBTQ bars and hideouts just a five minute walk from the hotel. This hotel makes my list of the top gay friendly hotels in Europe for its value and location. For those interested the hotel has just opened a green oasis, which is set to become Copenhagen’s coolest backyard!

 

 
 
 
 
 
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View flights here   Book hotel here
 

 

 

10. Cinq & Sept –Languedoc, South France

Opened in 2009, celebrating its ten year anniversary this summer, is the luxurious guesthouse, Cinq & Sept. Nestled in the South of France, home to some of the world’s best wines, you can enjoy superb access to the regions gay-only beaches, picturesque castles and world famous cities.

 

 
This is a very social resort and would be my top pick for those travelling solo, offering group activities such as wine tasting, kayaking and beach club days. If you prefer to unwind alone, or with someone special, then look no further. Wine, dine, relax and socialise, Cinq & Sept truly deserves its spot in my top 10 gay friendly hotels in Europe!

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Here’s to warm days spent eating and drinking outside… #gayresort #cinqetsept #gaytravel #gayhotel #gayholiday #gayfrance

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View flights here    Book hotel here
 

 

 

Like travel deals? See more here.

 

Sarah

The Travel Expert

CruisesTravel Tips

Cruise Connection Cover – Travel Insurance for Cruise Holidays

marella dream

Booking a cruise holiday? Make sure you have cruise connection cover, the travel insurance for cruise holidays.  

 

Cruising is one of the travel industries hottest trends, with 18 new oceangoing cruise ships launched this year alone. It seems that cruise holidays are growing at a rate of knots – no pun intended! The way travellers book cruise holidays has changed too, so it is vital that we have the right travel insurance for cruise holidays.
 

 

 
Many cruisers don’t necessarily book a ‘cruise package’, with flights and transfers included. Cruise-only prices are advertised with all cruise lines, and savvy travellers think nothing of booking a weeks cruise around the Med, and then searching for flights to coincide with it. While there is nothing wrong with doing this per se, it is important that we realise that if you miss your flight due to adverse weather, strikes, or because of a flight delay, the cruise company, well to put it bluntly, won’t really care… Unfortunately they wont ask 5000 passengers to wait until you arrive at the embarkation point.  

travel insurance for cruise holidays
 

 

 
Ireland’s leading travel insurance provider, Multitrip.com, were quick to spot the growing cruise trend and the need for specific travel insurance for cruise holidays. They are now offering cruise connection cover as an add-on to all of their travel insurance policies.
 

 

 
The beauty of having cruise connection cover is this; if you have booked a cruise holiday but happen to miss your flight to the original cruise embarkation point, Multitrip.com will cover you for reasonable travel and accommodation expenses to meet your cruise’s next embarkation point. Similarly if your cruise fails to meet its intended disembarkation, you will be covered for any reasonable travel and accommodation expenses incurred to get you home.

travel insurance for cruise holidays
 

 

 
We all know that flights can be delayed at any time, but we are also in an unfortunate age of air-strikes, airline failures and adverse weather conditions, so having the right travel insurance for cruise holidays is vital.
 
It is also important to bear in mind that if you are booking a cruise holiday with a travel agency, they may be booking the cruise and flights separately, so it is important that you ask your travel agent to add cruise connection cover to your travel insurance policy.
 

 

 
At the time of issue, the add-on fee with Multitrip.com was just €12 to a single-trip travel insurance policy or €20 for a yearly policy. A small amount that could save you a fortune in the long run…
 

 
Book Here

 

For more details visit multitrip.com or see your local travel agent.

 

Like Travel Tips? See more here.

 

Other posts that may be of interest:

 

What does travel insurance cover?

Top tips for booking travel insurance

5 Reasons why we need travel insurance

 

 

 

Sarah

The Travel Expert

 

 

AmericaAsiaCruisesLong HaulRest of the World

3 Exclusive Yacht Cruises in the Caribbean, Bali & Seychelles, from €2499 Including Flights

yacht caribbean

Cruising around the Caribbean, island hopping in the Seychelles, and exploring the many islands of Indonesia – all three sound idyllic to me. These exclusive yacht cruises are combined with hotel stays for the ultimate holiday experience.

 

I am a big fan of cruise holidays, but the idea of sailing around the Caribbean on a luxury yacht has a different appeal to cruising on a 5000-passenger cruise ship! Wouldn’t it be great to be able to explore tiny islands in the Caribbean that cruise ships can not visit, to jump into the sea when you come across a hidden cove in the archipelago of Indonesia, or enjoy secluded bays on a catamaran cruise around the Seychelles? The phrase ‘it’s about the journey not the destination’ springs to mind. I have teamed up with Tropical Sky who offer yacht cruises from exclusive locations around the world. No matter which option you choose, you can expect an intimate yacht cruise with unforgettable memories.

sunset on a yacht cruise

7 Nights All Inclusive Grenada Stay And 7 Nights Grenadines by Yacht Cruise, from €2899 Including Flights

This sounds like a trip of a lifetime and one I would love to experience! You will start off this amazing holiday with a four-night stay in the Coyaba Beach Resort in Grenada, which just happens to be located on the world-famous Grand Anse Beach. This is constantly voted one of the top beaches in the Caribbean.

The Coyaba Beach Resort is also home to a freshwater pool with a swim-up bar, the perfect place to enjoy some cocktails and take advantage of the all-inclusive arrangement. There are plenty of water sports available and scuba diving is highly recommended here. If you prefer to stay on land, yoga, tennis and beach volleyball are available. The Coyaba Beach Resort hosts local musicians three times a week, so you can expect a relaxed but lively atmosphere. 

yacht cruises in the caribbean

After a four-night stay, you will board a luxury yacht for a seven-night cruise around Caribbean islands that, until now, you may have only dreamed about. With just 14 people onboard, including a captain and steward, yacht cruises like this are hard to beat! Visit breath-taking locations such as Petit St Vincent, Tobago Cays and tiny Sandy Island – are you convinced yet? With meals and drinks included, your toughest decision will be whether to swim in the crystal-clear waters, or stay onboard and enjoy the stunning sea views. There will be plenty of snorkelling stops, including a day at the vibrant reef in Tobago Cays, where you should be able to swim alongside turtles. 

yacht cruises in the grenadines

After this seven-night dream cruise, you will finish off your stay at Coyaba Beach Resort for the remaining three nights. Price of €2899 includes flights, a seven-night all-inclusive stay at Coyaba Beach Resort and a seven-night yacht cruise. 

View offer here

 

 

11 Nights Star Clipper Cruises With Bali Stay, from €3429 Including Flights

Star Clippers are traditional four-mast sailing ships and are heralded as the world’s most spectacular tall-ships. With two pools, a library and a large dining room, they beautifully combine the atmosphere of sailing with the comfort of modern cruising. There are two different itineraries to choose from, both offering journeys through Indonesia’s unspoilt islands. Highlights include visits to Lombok, the Gili Islands and Komodo Island, home to the famous Komodo Dragons and the stunning Pink Beach. Regardless of which itinerary you choose, your holiday will start with a three-night stay at the 5-star Pavilions Hotel in Bali and culminate with an over-night stay. 

star clipper yacht cruises in bali

The Pavilions Hotel is a luxury boutique hotel in Sanur, Bali. All rooms are villa style with thatched roofs and four-poster beds, designed to reflect traditional Balinese architecture. Most villas, except the garden villas, have their own pool. This peaceful resort is designed for romance and relaxation and it receives outstanding reviews on TripAdvisor. You can even take advantage of the butler service and dine in the privacy of your own villa. 

yacht cruises in bali

Price of €3429 includes flights, a four-night stay at the Pavilions Hotel Bali and a seven-night yacht cruise. 

View offer here

 

7 Nights La Digue Dream Yacht Cruises With Seychelles Beach Stay, from €2589 Including Flights

With only 12 cabins, this intimate catamaran cruise will allow you to explore some of the Seychelles most beautiful islands over four days. Visit Coco Island, La Digue and Cousin Island before disembarking in Praslin. This seven-night holiday includes a pre-cruise, two-night stay at the highly rated Avani Barbarons Seychelles Resort and a post-cruise, two-night stay at the romantic Coco de Mer Hotel, Praslin. 

cruising in the seychelles - yacht cruises

Your first cruise stop is Saint Anne Marine Park, one of the best locations for snorkelling in the Seychelles. This will be followed by visits to Coco Island and La Digue. If you can manage to tear yourself away from the crystal-clear waters, why not rent a bike and explore the intriguing island of La Digue? With no cars in sight, you are likely to spot many carts drawn by oxen on your journey. Cousin Island is your last stop, a nature reserve where you will get a chance to see the famous giant tortoises. You will then cruise to Praslin where you will spend your last two nights. 

island hopping in the seychelles by yacht

Price of €2589 includes flights, a four-night hotel stay and a three-night catamaran cruise. Talk to the dedicated team in Tropical Sky about extending your stay in the Seychelles – or why not combine it with a city break in Dubai or Istanbul?

View offer here

 

Tropical Sky offer a range of cruise and long-haul holidays to destinations all over the world. Call one of their travel experts on 01 664 9999 to discuss any of these options, or to tailor-make a holiday to suit you. This post on exclusive yacht cruises was sponsored by Tropical Sky, but all views, as always, are my own.

 

Like this post? You might like:

The Best 5-Star hotels in the Caribbean

The ultimate Guide to choosing the right honeymoon

Luxurious All Inclusive resorts in the Indian Ocean

 

Sarah

 

travel deals

 
Best Travel Deals

The Travel Expert’s Best Travel Deals – 25th June 2019

Best Travel Deals

My best travel deals this week include last minute summer holidays, a super deal to Dubai, PortAventura for October mid-term break, an all-inclusive cruise and stay holiday, winter city breaks and lots more!

 

Best last minute:

The beach or Blue Lagoon at Ölü Deniz, has been on my wish-list for some time. It is one of Turkey’s most photographed tourist attractions and with its mountain backdrop, it is renowned as a paragliders paradise! I found a great last minute deal, staying in the highly rated All Inclusive Sunshine Holiday Resort, in nearby Ovakik. Priced at just €499 including flights, all meals and drinks, departing the 3rd of July, this is great value for a last minute holiday in beautiful surroundings.

View offer here
 

 

 

Best summer sun:

Still searching for a summer holiday? I have picked my top 10 deals from TUI for July & August, with prices from €369 self catering and €419 Half Board. Spain, Portugal, Thailand, Turkey – you name it’s in this post! All prices include flights, accommodation, transfers and checked baggage – with no hidden extras! 

See more here
 

 

 

Best city break:

If you fancy planning a little city break this winter, perhaps now is the time to book it. Gohop is offering two nights in Barcelona from €131, Budapest from €149 and Amsterdam from €158. All prices include flights and 3-star hotel, for two nights.

See more here
 

 

 

Best family deal:

One of my best travel deals to PortAventura for the October Mid Term break, just got cheaper! Enjoy a four night stay in the highly rated Sanguli Resort in Salou with 2 day park passes to PortAventura and Ferrari Land, for just €935, based on 2 adults and 2 children sharing! There are larger homes available too if you have three or four children and there is an extra 10% off park passes to PortAventura throughout the year, if booked by the 30th of June.

See more here
 

 

 

Best cruise:

You know when one week doesn’t seem long enough, but two weeks is too long? This 10-day all-inclusive Med cruise and Majorca holiday is just perfect! Relax on one of Majorca’s sandy beaches for three nights, before boarding MSC Fantasia for a seven-day All-Inclusive cruise around the Mediterranean. Price from €1149 includes flights, transfers, three nights in a four-star hotel and meals and drinks on the cruise!

See more here
 

 

 

Best long haul deal:

One thing that you should know before booking a trip to Dubai, is dining out is expensive! That’s why this offer to the 5* Habtoor Grand Beach Resort & Spa, Autograph Collection Hotel, is actually an amazing deal! Price for a five-night stay with flights, breakfast and evening meal included, is only €719 in September. You will also receive Club Access, which includes breakfast served until 11am, afternoon tea, late afternoon drinks and canapés, non-alcoholic drinks from 11am – midnight, complimentary high-speed internet access and a 2pm check-out.

View offer here
 

 

 

Best staycation:

Enjoy a summer getaway to the 4-star Dunboyne Castle Hotel & Spa in Meath  for only €169 per couple. Price includes breakfast, a 3-course evening meal at the highly rated Ivy Restaurant and €10 spa credit (minimum spend €40).
 
View offer here
 

 

 

Did you know?

Irish Travel Agency Map Travel, have a direct flight to Israel in September. They also offer pilgrimages to the Holy Land. Return flights to Tel Aviv from the 13th – 21st of September are €599 per person and cultural packages to the Holy Land are €1695 for eight nights, including hotel half board, coach, guide and entrance fees. 

See more here
 

 

 
Prices are correct at the time of issue but are subject to change. Please note some of my best travel deals include affiliate links where I receive a small commission if a booking is made.

 

Sarah

 

travel deals

 

 

 

Travel

Queen Mary 2 Cruise Deal Including Flights, New York Stay & Transfers, From €1439

Cunard_opt_opt (1)

Combine the bright lights of New York City with a seven-night luxury cruise on the iconic Queen Mary 2. This cruise deal is one you won’t want to miss!

 

Imagine cruising into New York City, gazing at the Manhattan skyline from the deck of a luxury cruise ship – it must be an incredible experience. Audrey Hepburn and Clarke Gable have cruised on the Queen Mary 2, now you can too! I have teamed up with Jetline Cruise to tell you about this amazing Queen Mary 2 cruise deal that includes flights, a seven-night cruise and a three-night stay in New York, all for just €1439. They even include airport transfers and entrance tickets to the Empire State Building! I was amazed to see that the price of €1439 is even valid over New Year’s Eve. I can visualise the fireworks over Brooklyn Bridge already…

queen mary 2 cruise deal

Jetline Cruise’s Queen Mary 2 cruise deal is valid throughout 2019 and 2020. Prices vary depending on the time of travel and are clearly marked on their website. Whether you want to do some Christmas shopping in New York, or avail of the warm summer sun, just call their dedicated cruise team on 01 246 9690 and they will arrange it for you. 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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You can choose to cruise from Southampton to New York and fly home direct to Dublin, or vice versa. Both have their advantages! As I have already mentioned, cruising into New York will surely be an incredible experience, however, if you choose to leave the cruise until your return journey, you won’t have to endure a tiresome over-night flight home. Both options include direct flights to or from New York and flights to and from Southampton, a three-night stay in a 4-star hotel, entrance tickets to the Empire State Building and airport transfers.

queen mary 2 cruise deal

What is it like to cruise on the Queen Mary 2?

The Queen Mary 2 is Cunard’s flagship cruise-liner and it was re-mastered in 2016, with a staggering £90 million makeover. She has all the glitz and glamour associated with traditional cruising, but now has contemporary styling too. Expect fine dining, the best wine cellar at sea, exceptional service and sophisticated shopping.

There are five main dining options onboard, all included in the cost of your cruise, as well as two speciality restaurants, which incur a charge. Of course, no Cunard cruise would be complete without their signature afternoon tea, which incidentally is included in the price of your cruise.

 

Entertainment is what you would expect from Cunard – world class. From West-End-style shows in the grand Royal Court Theatre, to string quartets in intimate bars, the choice is yours. The Queen Mary 2 has a full-scale planetarium, famous speakers giving informative presentations, the largest library at sea and a luxury spa. This really is cruising at another level.

So why not treat yourself or a loved one to this amazing cruise holiday? With flights, hotel, cruise and transfers included in the cost, this Queen Mary 2 cruise deal, should not be missed! 

View offer here

 

Who are Jetline Cruise?

For those of you who may not be familiar with Jetline Cruise, they are a multi-award winning cruise tour operator that has sold cruises for 18 years to 250,000 customers! They launched in Ireland last year and their cruise and stay holidays have proved very popular with Irish cruisers. You also have the peace of mind of knowing that Jetline Cruise are licensed and bonded in Ireland, so your booking is 100% financially protected.  You can read my blog about the Jetline cruise launch in Ireland and what they offer, here.

 

See All Jetline Cruise Offers Here

 

Jetline cruise

 

Prices are correct at the time of issue but are subject to change. This post was sponsored by Jetline Cruise but all views, as always, are my own.

Family HolidaysTravel Tips

Top Tips for Travelling With Kids

airport with children

Travelling with kids can be daunting, so check out my top tips to help make your journey a little easier.

 

Before you go:

Discuss what type of holiday you want with your partner. Many parents book the top family complexes because they think they need to. A kids pool may be all you need. Kid clubs can be handy, but many only start at age 3, you will need a specific club or crèche that caters for babies and toddlers. If travelling with an infant, ask yourself are you going to leave your baby in a crèche? So many parents don’t even use the facilities on offer.
 

 

 
There will be many future holidays where you need to book the best family complexes, where slides in the pool and mini discos will be the best part of your child’s holiday, but if your children are young, why not take advantage while you can and book a holiday that suits you too! Talk to your kids, ask them what they want from a holiday, it may just be free WiFi!

travelling with kids

 

 

 

Check your airlines baggage allowance:

Many airlines allow you to bring a buggy / stroller as well as one piece of equipment, i.e car seat, booster seat or travel cot, separate to your baggage allowance. Aer Lingus insist that infants cabin baggage must be included in your own allowance, while Ryanair allow an additional 5kg, free of charge. Airlines baggage policy, child’s meals and seat requests all vary, so when travelling with kids, it is important to check with the airline you are flying with.

travelling with kids
 

 

 

Don’t be put off by long flights when travelling with kids:

With the exception of the crawling age (usually 7 – 12 months), travelling with babies and toddlers on airplanes should not be a big ordeal. In most cases they will have a nap and once you bring plenty of snacks and toys to keep them entertained, it is usually, in my opinion, fairly straightforward. Many people choose to book short flights to Majorca or the Algarve (2 and a half hours), but then spend 2 hours on a coach to get to their resort. Personally I would prefer to spend 4 hours on a plane to the Canary Islands and take a 10 minute taxi ride to my accommodation.  
 

 

 
If you are flying to the USA, try to fly direct where possible. Being able to clear customs in Ireland before you fly is a life-saver. There is nothing worse when you are travelling with kids, than having to queue for 90 minutes to clear customs, when you arrive at your destination.

We flew via Heathrow to San Francisco last year and we barely made the connection, we literally had to run onto the plane. Athough we made the flight, our bags didn’t! We queued for 90 minutes at customs, only to find our bags were not on the carousel! We had no luggage for two days. I’m a firm believer that families should fly direct where possible. If you can’t, allow plentyy of connecting time between flights.

Read my top tips for long flights here.

travelling with kids
 

 

 
Ditch the trunkis:

Did you know that a 20kg checked bag to the Canary Islands is €110 during the summer months? I have many travel tips for travelling with kids, but one of my favourites is to invest in light weight hand luggage! Get rid of the trunkis as soon as your children are able to wheel heavier cases. Kids like wheeling their own cases anyway and if you invest in the best lightweight suitcase available, you can save a fortune on checked baggage charges. I tell my children they can bring whatever fits in their case, this usually works out well when packing! Buy a portable luggage scales and bring it with you to avoid any stress thinking your luggage may be over weight. You can buy them for less than €10.

travelling with kids
 

 

 

Travelling with kids on city breaks:

If travelling on a city break, choose an early flight home. Once you have checked out of the hotel, the kids will just want to go home and you will spend a fortune trying to amuse them on the last day. The €30 saving you thought you made by coming back on the later flight, believe me, you will spend it twice over. For city breaks where there is a lot of walking involved, buy a cheap fold up scooter from Smyths for €15. Depending on your weight allowance, leave it behind you if necessary.
 

 

 
Try to fit some sightseeing in the morning while the kids are fresh and plan an activity for them in the afternoon – a visit to a park, zoo or kids attraction is ideal. Give them maps and let them help plan your day. My kids bring cameras with them and enjoy taking pictures and selfies. Encourage them to take selfies in front of famous landmarks, they can show them to their friends or teachers when they get home.

Top ten city breaks for families
 Check out my top 10 city breaks for families here.

 

 

 

Always bring lots of supplies when travelling with kids:

Although I would like to say that my kids don’t need electronic devices on holidays, unfortunately, they do! We invested in a Media share many years ago and we don’t leave home without it. It is a small portable device that creates it’s own WiFi network. Children, or adults, can watch movies on their tablets or phones anywhere, even on a plane. It is really compact so it is much easier to carry than a portable DVD player and lots of DVDs.
 

 

 
If travelling on an airplane with babies or toddlers, make sure you bring ample snacks. Children are always hungrier when they travel. I suggest bringing twice what you think you might need, in case of delays. A new toy or colouring / activity book is also a good idea and whatever you do, don’t forget wipes and a change of clothes!

travel hacks
 

 

 

Email the hotel before you go:

Avoid bringing the kitchen sink! Most hotels have baby equipment, so you wont have to bring your own. These are not always advertised in brochures, incase many families ask for buggies, sterilisers or bottle warmers at the same time. Call or email the hotel before you go and ask them what equipment they have. Pre book it if possible.
 

 

 

Like this post? You  might like these too:

Top tips about travelling with babies and toddlers 

Tips for driving with babies and small children.

 

Like Travel Tips ? See more here.

 

 

 
Sarah

The Travel Expert Sarah Slattery

 

Travel

Top 10 Sun Holiday Deals in August

TUI-Couples-compressor

Portugal, Spain, Greece and Thailand – I have so many great holiday deals in July and August to tempt you! With one week holidays from €399, as well as 4-star hotel deals, there is something for everyone below.

 

I have teamed up with TUI, who have so many great holiday deals in July August. I have picked some of my favourites to share with you. You can rest assured that all of my accommodation choices are recommended and have received great reviews on TripAdvisor. 

I have selected particular dates in August based on two sharing, but should you wish to change dates or duration, just click on the links below and edit the search to suit your requirements. Hopefully one of these holiday deals in July and August will see you jetting off on a last-minute summer holiday….

 

 

All prices include flights, transfers and checked baggage – with NO HIDDEN EXTRAS!

 

1. Rhodes: Evi Studios, Pefkos, 28th August, €393

 Rhodes is one of my favourite Greek Islands. Rhodes Town has a chic waterfront packed with trendy bars on one side and the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Colossus of Rhodes, on the other. There is lots to discover outside the capital too, from the hilltop town of Lindos to the neighbouring islands of Simi.

I have chosen the Evi Studios which are located in the pretty resort of Pefkos. With beach access from the apartments and only 500 metres to the resort centre, it’s no wonder they are highly rated ontripadvisor.   

holiday deals in july and august to rhodes

View offer here

 

2. Majorca: Son Baulo Hotel, Half Board, 28th August, €527

Located on a superb beach, with a nature reserve next door, the Son Baulo’s location is second to none. If you like active holidays, you will love the hiking and cycle trails nearby. If that doesn’t float your boat, you can choose to laze by the large lagoon pool or on the white sandy beach. Enjoy the nightly entertainment, or walk the tree-lined promenade into C’an Picafort for a change of scene. This hotel offers breakfast and evening meal included in the price, so it is excellent value for a summer holiday in beautiful surroundings.

holiday deals in july and august to majorca

View offer here

Check out TUI’s Flight Only Deals from €149 return including taxes.

 

4. Turkey: Club Evin Apartments, 19th August, €595

Located in the pretty resort of Marmaris, these are one of the most sought after apartments in the area. As well as a swimming pool, there is a spa with Turkish bath, sauna and gym on site. The Club Evin is located just 15 minutes walk from the beach and the centre of Marmaris, but they have a restaurant and bar with nightly entertainment, if you fancy a night in. If you still need convincing, the Club Evin is ranked number seven out of 248 hotels in Marmaris on TripAdvisor!

holiday deals in july and august to turkey

 

View offer here

 

3. Cyprus: Helios Bay Hotel, B&B, 28th August from €483

You only have to read the outstanding reviews on TripAdvisor to know the Helios Bay Hotel is a great place to stay in Cyprus. With direct flights reintroduced to Paphos this year by TUI, now is the time to go. This incredible deal is half-price too! Located beside the beach with stunning sea-views and close to shops, bars and restaurants, what more could you need? 

holiday deals in july and august to cyprus

View offer here 

Check out TUI’s Flight Only deals from €279 return including taxes.

 

5. Gran Canaria: 29th August, Terrazamar Suites from €451

Originally a small fishing village, Puerto Rico has been transformed into a lively holiday resort. Purpose built, Puerto Rico is set into the hillside, so sea-views are a given! There is a stylish marina, a sandy beach, two shopping centres and a wide choice of bars and restaurants. 

There are many accommodation options to choose from, but I have selected the Terraza Mar Suites, as they are one of the most sought after apartments in the resort and are rated very highly on TripAdvisor. Centrally located, they are only 300 metres from the shopping centre and approximately 12 minutes walk to the beach. On site there is an outdoor swimming pool, pool bar, restaurant, tennis courts and a children’s play area. The apartments are very well equipped inside too, with satellite TVs and sun loungers on the balcony or terrace. 

holiday deals in july and august to puerto rico

View offer here

 

6. Algarve, Albufeira: 19th August, Casa Mitchell Apartments, €599

If you are looking for holiday deals in July and August, the Algarve will surely be on your list. Only a short flight from Irish airports, with wide sandy beaches, great restaurants and just the right amount of nightlife, it ticks all boxes.

This deal includes a stay at the Casa Mitchell Apartments in Albufeira, which receive excellent reviews on TripAdvisor and were awarded a Certificate of Excellence. This family-run apart-hotel is set in a converted old townhouse in Albufeira and it is only a short walk to the old town and Fisherman’s Beach.

holidays in july and august to portugal

View offer here

 

7. Salou: Hotel Belvedere, Half Board, 30th August, €493

One of Salou’s most popular hotels, (ranked eighth out of 93 hotels in Salou on TripAdvisor), the Belvedere is an ideal choice for a summer break. There is a large pool on site as well as a whirlpool and Turkish bath. The Belvedere is located close to the beach and only a 10-minute walk to the centre of Salou. You can choose to relax and enjoy their live entertainment, or pop down into the town centre at night-time. If you want to venture a little further, Tarragona and Barcelona are close by and are ideal for day trips.

holiday deals in july and august to salou

View offer here

 

8. Costa del Sol: 4*+ Hotel Florida, Half Board, 28th August, €699

This super hotel is from TUI’s Platinum range. With a superb location in the heart of Fuengirola and just metres from the beach, it is not surprising that is ranked so highly on TripAdvisor. I am a big fan of Fuengirola. The old town is great for shopping and has a great mix of local boutiques and high street stores like Zara, Mango, etc. Fuengirola is also home to some of the best tapas bars on the Costa del Sol. This summer holiday deal is excellent value. Not only will you be staying in a 4-star hotel, but also this deal includes breakfast and evening meal each day! 

holiday deals in july and august to costa del sol

View offer here

 

9. Lanzarote, Cinco Plaza Apartments, 29th August, €406!

holiday deals in july and august to lanzarote

The Cinco Plaza are one of  Lanzarote’s most sought after holiday apartments. Located just minutes from the beach and the resort centre with great facilities on site, what more could you need? Highly rated on tripadvisor, the Cinco Plaza apartments are the perfect place to enjoy the highlights of Puerto del Carmen. Note this deal departs from Shannon airport.

View offer here

 

10. Thailand: 11th August, Luxury Apsara Beachfront Resort, All Inclusive, €1487

Did you know that TUI sell long-haul holidays too? Not only do they have direct flights from Dublin to Mexico during the summer, but they also offer flights to Asia, Africa and the Caribbean with scheduled airlines. I picked this sweet deal to Thailand from their website as it is incredible value for such a great hotel, with all meals and drinks included.

The chic Apsara Beachfront Resort and Villas in Khao Lak is the perfect spot for couples who are looking for a relaxing holiday on a superb beach. As the name suggests, it is located right on the beach, but also has the added bonus of an infinity pool and luxury spa. This amazing property is highly rated on TripAdvisor and includes all meals and drinks throughout your stay.

holiday deals in july and august to thailand

View offer here

 

Want to try somewhere new? TUI is also offering Lakes and Mountains holidays in Austria from €402 and All Inclusive holidays in Mexico from €1236.

 

So there you have it, my best holiday deals in July and August from TUI. I hope I have managed to find one that might suit you. This post was sponsored by TUI but all views, as always, are my own.

 

 

Sarah

travel deals

 
DestinationsEurope

Visiting The Victor Hugo Market – The Best Way to Get A Taste Of Toulouse

victor-hugo-market-toulouse-lunch-compressor

Want to get a better understanding of French gastronomy and culture? Take a food tour of the Victor Hugo Market in Toulouse.  

 

Visiting the Marché Victor Hugo is on every list of things to do in Toulouse, but I didn’t fancy trying to decode various foods with unpronounceable French names. Thankfully I didn’t need to play roulette with my food choices, or use my pigeon-French at the market stalls – because I took a food tour of the Victor Hugo Market with Taste of Toulouse.

victor hugo market toulouse
 

 

 
The fact that our host Jessica was from the United States was the first thing that surprised me! I’m not saying I expected Jean-Luc with a handlebar moustache, but I was surprised. She moved to Toulouse from Chicago and spotted a gap in the market to educate tourists about French gastronomy, without the stereotypical references to snails or frogs legs! I was with a group of journalists and we all had some knowledge of French cuisine, but she anticipated perfectly what we wanted and needed to know. My sister married a French chef, so I do know my pomme from my pomme de terre, but I did get a much better understanding of French gastronomy and culture on this tour. 
 
victor hugo market toulouse
 

 

 
Another surprise was that we spent the entire three and a half hour tour inside the Victor Hugo Market. I take food tours regularly on holidays, but this tour was unique because we never left the market. The ground floor is packed with circa 100 vendors selling everything from foie gras to candied violets (a local sweet in Toulouse). Upstairs there are five restaurants that only offer fresh produce from the market located below them. Walking around with Jessica, sampling the delicious produce was one of the highlights of my weekend in Toulouse.  

victor hugo market toulouse
 

 

 
Jessica started the tour by introducing us to the French staple, the baguette. She purchased baguettes from Maison Beauhaire – who are proud winners of Meilleurs Ouvriers de France, a unique and prestigious trade award in France. This was one of those situations where I can only say ‘you had to be there’! How Jessica made a 15-minute conversation about baguettes interesting, I will never know – but she did! I was well and truly amazed about how little I knew about something that I bought in my local supermarket every week.

victor hugo market toulouse
 

 

 
Did you know that a traditional baguette (baguette de tradition) is made only of water, flour, salt and yeast – nothing else should be added. When you buy a baguette in France, there is no fear that it will be soft by the end of the day, despite having no preservatives added. I learned how to tell the difference between a hand-made baguette and one that sits on a conveyor belt. I learned that the naturally-occurring sugars should caramelise to give a sweet taste on the crust, and therefore never to buy a pale or undercooked baguette. I have found myself studying baguettes in my local SuperValu since I returned home. Cuisine de France no longer makes the grade I’m afraid…

 

 
After the intriguing baguette lesson, we stopped at various stalls including Maison Garcia, which was one of my favourites. Their saucisson sec (dried pork sausage, flavoured with only salt and pepper) and their rillettes d’oie et lapin (goose and rabbit rillettes, which is shredded meat cooked in fat) were delicious, so much so that I brought some home, vacuum packed. I am convinced my son Luke (11) will be a food critic one day, he has an incredible palate. He devoured the saucisson that I brought home and asked if we can order more online – sadly they don’t ship outside of France. 

victor hugo market toulouse
 

 

 
Our next stop was the Papaix et Fils, a farm-to-counter foie gras producer. Jessica explained about the feeding process and somewhat alleviated our concerns about how the geese were fed. Of course it is impossible to find a truly humane way to make foie gras, but it was nice to be able to talk to the farm owner and hear how he cared for his ducks. We tasted foie gras ‘entier,’ the purest form of foie gras, which I had never tried before. This is a whole lobe of foie gras, only seasoned with salt and pepper, then sliced – not spread like regular paté. It was delicious.

victor hugo market toulouse
 

 

 
With sustainability being on everybody’s minds, to witness how there is little or no food waste in France was remarkable. In true French style, Papaix et Fils didn’t only sell foie gras. We tasted the 100% duck boudin (blood sausage), fritons (fried duck skin – almost like snack), and slow-cooked magret de canard (duck breast) too. 
 

 

 
Jessica picked up a selection of cheeses from Fromagerie Emilie, Chèvre de Pic (raw milk ash-rinded goat cheese from the Tarn & Garonne), Cantal Entre Doux (pressed, uncooked raw milk cow cheese from Auvergne), Brebis Artisanal (pressed, uncooked raw milk sheet cheese from Béarn, in the Pyrenees), and Roquefort (raw milk sheep blue cheese from Aveyron). 

cheese at victor hugo market
 

 

 
Although we enjoyed light bites from various food stalls during the tour, most of Jessica’s purchases went straight into her large straw basket. Much to our delight, at the end of the tour Jessica led us to a wine bar. There was a large wine barrel with a reserved sign on it and a waitress arrived immediately with sparkling wine and an ice bucket. Lunch was looking good! Jessica proudly displayed her purchases and poured us all a glass of wine. Once again Jessica described what we were eating and paired the food with different wines. Last but not least we had various ganache and praliné chocolates from Criollo Chocolatier.  It really was the perfect ending to a superb tour. 

taste of toulouse tour of victor hugo market
 

 

 
My visit to the Victor Hugo Market was one highlights of my weekend in Toulouse. Don’t let the ‘modern brutalist’ architecture put you off – although brash on the outside, it is anything but on the inside. Opened in 1892, the Victor Hugo Market is the largest market in Toulouse with over 100 top-class vendors. It was wonderful to see locals shopping here instead of at large supermarket chains. The Victor Hugo Market is the beating heart of Toulouse. I only wish we had something similar in scale and quality in my own home town.
 

For more information and booking visit Taste of Toulouse.com
 
 

 
Sarah

The Travel Expert Sarah Slattery

Best Travel Deals

The Travel Expert’s Best Travel Deals – 18th June 2019

Best-Travel-Deals-updated-compressor

In this weeks Best Travel Deals I have summer holidays from €350, a city break in Toulouse, a family trip to Cancun for the October mid term break, super deals to the USA, a cruise to the brand new Perfect Day at CocoCay and lots more…..

 

Best last minute:

I am a big fan of Austria and I think there is some great last minute deals there at the moment. I chose the 3* Pension Hannes because of it’s outstanding reviews on tripadvisor and because there is 50% off the brochure price! Price for flights and a seven-night stay, with breakfast and evening meal included, as well as airport transfers and checked baggage is only €350, departing the 26th of June. You better be quick though, this won’t last long! #StealOfTheWeek

View offer here
 

 

 

Best summer sun:

Enjoy a week in the Greek island of Rhodes in August for only €380. You will be staying in the highly rated Nimar Villagio apartments. Rated number 1 on tripadvisor, these are the perfect choice if you are looking for round off the summer with a relaxing break away. Price includes flights, accommodation, transfers and checked baggage.

View offer here
 

 

 

Best family deal:

Want to try something new this October mid term? Go all-inclusive in Cancun from just €1099 per person. Price includes flights, checked baggage and seven-nights in the highly rated 4* Sunset Marina Resort & Yacht Club, with all meals and drinks included.

View offer here
 

 

 

Best cruise:

Have you heard about Royal Caribbean’s private island in the Bahamas called Perfect Day at Cococay? It looks amazing, I can’t wait to see it. This super cruise deal includes a day there as well as a stop in Port Canaveral, where the Kennedy Space Centre is! Fly direct from Dublin with Aer Lingus and enjoy a pre cruise hotel stay, before boarding Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas for a seven night cruise. Price for flights, hotel, cruise, meals and entertainment is only €1150 on the 21st or 29th of February and wait for it, you also get a free upgrade to a balcony cabin!

View offer here
 

 

 

Best long haul deal:

Visit San Francisco, Los Angeles and Las Vegas on one epic nine night trip. This amazing deal is only €1329 and includes ALL flights and three nights hotel stays in each city!

View offer here
 

 

 

Best city break:

Were you following my city break to Toulouse last weekend? Why not go there too! Enjoy a three night weekend break on 13th of September staying in one of the best hotels in the city, the 5* Hotel Le Grand Balcon, for only €286! Use promo code 4STAR2019 to save €10 per person off the Aer Lingus flights.

View flights here €131pp with promo code 4STAR2019

 
View hotel here €155pp
 

 

 

Best staycation:

Did you hear that Center Parcs is open earlier than expected? Price for 2 adults and 2 children for four nights on either the 29th of July or 5th of August is only €999, staying in a 2 bedroom Woodland Lodge.

See more here
 

 

 

Best early booking offer:

Tour America have an amazing package deals to Las Vegas including flights and hotels. Price is only €511 in November for five nights or €515 in February for four nights! These are based on 2 sharing, get a few friends to go and the price might be even lower… 

View offer here
 

 

 

Best seat sale:

Aer Lingus have kept their 4-star Skytrax rating and want to say thank you! They have an exclusive promo code 4STAR2019 which can be used to get up to 20% off flights to Spain, Italy, France and Portugal, between the 15th of July and 30th of September. 

See more here
 

 

 
Prices are correct at the time of issue but are subject to change. Please note some of my best travel deals include affiliate links where I receive a small commission if a booking is made.

 

Sarah

 

travel deals

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