While the dollar continues its steady decline against the British pound and the euro—recently falling to an all-time low against the euro—you can now lessen the blow by heading to Europe in the fall and find lower prices along with fewer tourists and milder temperatures.
Some of the biggest savings can be found in the air. Hotel rates too have come down. The Four Seasons Hotel in Prague, for example, is offering a ‘bed and breakfast’ package from 17 October to 27 December, with rates starting at €245 a night, or about $345 at $1.42 to the euro, down from €355 in high season. The Ritz-Carlton, Berlin, is offering rates from €225 a night in November, including breakfast and two glasses of champagne. Prices normally begin at €355 a night.
To get even more bang for your buck, Pam Baldwin, a Europe travel specialist at Carlson Wagonlit Travel in Richland, Washington, recommends booking package tours. Since tour operators tend to plan itineraries months in advance, she said, “Hotel rates have, in general, already been locked in at better rates than the current exchange.”
Globus, for example, is offering an 11-day ‘Portugal in Depth’ tour in October starting at $1,349 a person, or about $123 a person a day. Highlights include visits to Obidos, Fatima, a Port wine cellar and the Roman ruins of Conimbriga. Globus is also offering a Danube river cruise through its Avalon Waterways brand, which sails from Nuremberg to Budapest, with prices from $1,949 a person this November, including wine tastings and lectures. In August, the same cruise cost about $2,600, without the wine.
Deal or no deal, London is still outrageously expensive, as the pound continues to hover at the $2 mark, with even modest hotel accommodations costing upward of $300 a night. Travellers willing to stay outside the city will find some relief. “In the English countryside, as well as in Ireland and Scotland, many hotels and inns are offering some very attractive fall promotions that include meals, taxes and are often quoted in dollar rates,” said Gloria Welles, of En Route Travel in Pacific Palisades, California, a member of Virtuoso, the large travel agency network.
Go-Today.com, a travel website based in Bothell, Washington, that specializes in vacation packages, is offering a seven-night trip through England’s Lake District and Scotland starting at $1,399, including air, hotels and rental car. The new Ritz-Carlton, Powerscourt, County Wicklow, about 16 miles south of Dublin, is offering introductory rates from €255 a night, down from €490 a night.
If you’re dead set on staying in London, check out Eurocheapo.com’s new CheapoSearch, which shows availability for budget hotels in central neighbourhoods. For a long weekend in late October, the site pulled up several choices for under $200 a night, including the Best Western Corona near Victoria Station, the Garth Hotel in an 18th Century Georgian town house in Bloomsbury and the Mayflower, a chic hotel in Earls Court that gets good reviews on the TripAdvisor website.
The regions that tend to offer the best value for fall vacationers are Spain, Portugal, Central Europe, Greece and Turkey, Welles said.
“Large cities in Spain and Portugal are consistently less expensive than other Western European cities, and the generally mild weather—especially in the southmakes travel pleasant well into the winter months.” she said.