An Irish castle escape, a fjords cruise and a quintessential London hotel are on the radar, as our publisher picks his favourite deals from this week’s Top 20®
£125 -- Luxury Irish Castle Escape w/50€ Credit, Reg £270+
Castles -- or “cassels!”, as turret-struck American visitors are wont to call them: there’s possibly no more romantic place to escape to. Our deal to Solis Lough Eske Castle, tucked away in 43 acres of Irish woodland near the town of Donegal, strikes me as a particular bargain for two reasons. The first is the more obvious one -- a price slashed (yes, I am using pillaging and besieging metaphors here) by more than 50% on a package that includes restaurant credit, a full Irish breakfast, a history tour of the property and spa discounts. The second harks back to a period when no one in Ireland knew what a spa discount was. At the time of the founding of the first Lough Eske Castle, you had to be a member of the minor aristocracy to get through the imposing front door. Nowadays, then, you really are getting a deal fit, if not for a king, then at least for an earl (or a countess). More than 700 Travelzoo subscribers have already recognised this for the right royal steal it is, so get in quick!
£129 -- Grand Victorian Central London Hotel, Reg £280+
No, £129 for a hotel is still not cheap, but a little sniffing around shows this is a very attractive little package indeed. First, it’s in London, where that amount of money will often get you little more than a box somewhere scraping at the borders of Zone 2. Hotel Russell, on the other hand, is in Bloomsbury, one of the most beautiful -- for my money, possibly the most beautiful -- central parts of the capital: it has none of the snootiness of Mayfair, say, or the blandness of somewhere like Pimlico. What it has instead is oodles of quirky character, which is partly why writers such as Virginia Woolf and EM Forster made it their home; the British Museum adds a whole bucket of interest and you’ll find plenty of independent bookstores and restaurants down the little streets that form the warp and weft of the quarter. Second, if you are going to stay in a London hotel, stay somewhere Victorian -- the period when the capital was arguably at its most stylish. Vaulted ceilings, marble columns and a mosaic floor characterise the interior of the Russell, which dates from 1898 but was refurbished only this year.
£449 -- Norwegian Fjords: 8-Night Spring No-Fly Cruise
Looking at the crinkled coast of Norway, I’m reminded of the late, brilliant British humourist Douglas Adams’s conceit that there was an intergalactic competition for best fjord design (won in this case by his childishly named character Slartibartfast). You’ll certainly pass some winning fjords on this cruise, as it sidles up some gorgeous parts of the Scandinavian coast. But the question is whether you’ll be able even to make your way over to the gangway, given all the distractions -- including wine tastings and cookery demonstrations -- thrown in, as well as a rare £150 reduction on the price.