Just a hop over the ocean, London continues to excite first time travelers and draw return visitors with sights, shopping, museums, a popular monarchy, pomp and circumstance, those enchanting side-streets, green parks, and intellectual trips to the theater. Even better, well-marketed travel deals make end of summer travel seem affordable and fall packages seem like downright bargains.
For lovers of the all-world best-seller The Da Vinci Code, British Airways (tel. 877/428-2228; www.britishairways.com) has a three night special end of summer that includes airfare, hotel accommodations at a three-star centrally located hotel, daily breakfast, and a guided tour of the London sites highlighted in the popular novel. Starting at $799 for travel out of New York's John F. Kennedy Airport, travel for this trip is good from now through September 30, 2006. There's one catch. (What would a Da Vinci Code package be without one?) You need to book by end of today, August 4, 2006. Prices from other cities are also available, such as $834 out of Philadelphia, $845 out of Boston, and $962 out of Houston. For $20, you get the use of a 24-hour Big Bus ticket, good for a ride on the hop on hop off sightseeing tour, a cruise along the Thames and walking tours of Beatles sites and pubs. It doesn't stop there; you can add on a two night extension to Paris for $269 that includes round-trip airfare and hotel. It's worth it to book fast. In all, that's five nights in Europe, all international and intra-Europe airfare, all hotel taxes, a Da Vinci Code tour, and daily breakfast for $1,069.
If you're not itching to go to London by the end of this summer, Virgin Atlantic Vacations (tel. 888/937-8474; www.virgin-vacations.com) has some very good deals that decrease in price as we move further away from the high-season summer months. Booking by August 24, 2006, you can lock in a seven day trip to London including airfare and hotel for $799 for travel from August 31 to October 31, 2006; $589 for travel from November 1 to December 19, 2006; $899 over the holidays from December 20 to December 24, 2006; and $559 from December 25, 2006 to March 25, 2007 (and yes, that includes New Years). A Saturday night stay is required for this package which must be booked 21 days in advance of travel with prices good for double occupancy travel. Virgin also has a shorter three night tour slightly lower in cost. The quick fling to London, which also needs to be booked by August 24, 2006, has low prices of $499 for travel between November 1 and December 19, 2006 and from December 25, 2006 to March 25, 2007. For both of these trips, airport security taxes and departure fees are additional. Also, full payment is due within one day of booking. Beefing up their available destinations, Virgin Atlantic offers well-priced deals all over the globe. The site is worth checking out on that note alone.
For a combination trip starting out in London before departing via train travel to Paris and Venice, European Destinations (tel. 877/267-2247; www.europeandestinations.com) is showcasing an eight day seven night trip starting in price at $915 out of the New York area. You need to book now to ensure these low-prices for travel from November to March. The trip includes all hotel, round-trip airfare, two nights in each city, train travel from London to Paris and Paris to Venice, all hotel taxes and daily breakfast in each city. Departures are also available from other United States gateways such as Los Angeles ($1,008), Chicago ($1,006), and Miami ($1138).
Go-Today (tel. 800/227-2235; www.go-today.com) has a "London New Year's Special" where if you book by August 10, 2006 you can ensure a price of $669 for a lengthy six night air and accommodations package. The trip is out of New York with additional departure cities available such as Boston for $30 more, Philadelphia for $60, and Atlanta, Dallas and Houston for $140 more. The trip leaves for London from December 25 to December 28, 2006. Go Today also offers London city trips through the fall and winter. A six night London special goes for $619 with travel good from March 8 to March 25, 2006. Once in London, you can extend your trip with a land-only Go Today package to destinations around the English countryside. A two night trip to Manchester costs $179 with travel good through October 31, 2006 while a two night break to Oxford starts at $289 good through the same dates. Call a Go Today phone representative to price the 2007 land-only countryside excursions.
To rent your own Apartment in London, Coach House London Vacation Rentals (tel. 011 44 20 8133-8332; chslondon.com/vr/index.htm) has a smattering of comfortable, often chic, properties all designed differently to appeal to a wide range of vacationers seeking privacy and the convenience of a non-hotel setting. From Chelsea studios for $150 a night to modernized three-bedroom historic houses built in 1697 that sleep 8 to 9, come complete with a huge English garden, and have to be seen to be believed for $430 per night total, these houses make you feel almost British. Somehow, Coach House Vacation Rentals make London even more enchanting.
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