We know we've been looking at Western Europe quite a bit lately in this column -- perhaps you have, too. Between high airfares and the fluctuations in currencies, it's wise to lock in packages that don't tack on significantly more money than the advertised rate. This week's Smart Deal from Virgin Vacations (tel. 888/937-8474; www.virgin-vacations.com) features London in the fall, and it's priced from $649 for four nights, including airfare.
You can take this trip in the summer, but expect to pay at least $1,049 per person for the same package. Fortunately, when it comes to things to do in London, most of the museums are free. You should also plan to do some of the obligatory things: See the London Eye, tour the Tower of London, observe the stoic guards at Buckingham Palace, eat fish and chips in a pub, and take afternoon tea.
Trip Type: Air-inclusive; independent
What the Quoted Price Gets You: Round-trip airfare from New York-JFK to London Heathrow, four nights' hotel, continental breakfast daily, hotel taxes and service charges, and airline fuel surcharges.
What Else You'll Have to Pay: Government taxes and fees, which could add up to $160.
When: Sept. 15-Oct. 16 (from $749); Oct. 19-Dec. 15 (from $649)
Book By: As soon as possible to ensure availability
Other Details: For this package, travel is not possible on Sunday or Monday. If November is too long to wait, the package is $100 more from Sept. 15-Oct. 16. Many other gateways are available, too, and the price will change accordingly.
The hotels included in the package (based on availability) are the Ibis London City Hotel, which is in the Financial District near Liverpool Street and a Tube stop, or the Ibis London Earl's Court, in West London near the exhibition center. Both are three-star tourist class hotels.
If you want to stay in fancier digs, upgrade to the Sheraton Park Lane Hotel (add $300 per person) or the Sanderson (add $700 per person). Through Virgin Vacations, you can also pre-book airport-hotel transfers (add $28 per person) and get a head start on sightseeing, including buying London Eye tickets (add $26 per person) and the Magic of London Tour (add $107 per person).
All prices are per person and, if lodging is a component of the package, based upon two people traveling together (unless otherwise noted). The prices listed are general starting rates; see "What Else You'll Have to Pay" for details about associated taxes and fees. Base-prices, taxes, and fees can vary based on point of departure and time of travel. Trip add-ons like sightseeing tours and meal plans may also increase the price. Check with the tour operator for additional gateways and any single supplements, which is the extra cost that a solo traveler would pay to book the deal.
Talk with fellow Frommer's travelers on our Great Britain forum.