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Flower Power: London in Bloom
In search of the perfect spring vacation, we came across what we thought would be an ideal way to end winter hibernation. As we all know, there is nothing more symbolic of spring than flowers. So this spring, take a deep breath and smell the blossoms—in England.
Virgin Vacations has a special that’ll wake up all your senses. Right now it has a package vacation to pricey London this spring that folds in a host of “extras,” including admission to the legendary Chelsea Flower Show in London, held on the grounds of the Royal Hospital from May 24-28. Stroll through the gardens and hothouses and you’ll see some of the world’s most beautiful blooms.
The lead offer is priced at $1,099 and includes roundtrip airfare from NYC (or Newark), a six-night hotel stay, daily continental breakfast, a seven-day central zone London Travel Card (a valued at USD$75), a pub pass (lunch and drink in a pub valued at USD$25) and, of course, an admission ticket to the Chelsea Flower Show on May 26, 27 or 28 (valued at USD$70). Since the tickets must be purchased in advance (not at the flower show’s gate) and sell out quickly, this may be a good way to guarantee entrance to such a popular event.
The package is valid for departures from May 23-25 and must be booked by Apr. 25. Prices for participating US gateways are:
If the Chelsea Flower Show package is too expensive (and we admit that it’s expensive to visit the British capital during this event, which also happens to fall around the same time as Memorial Day Weekend), then perhaps Go-Today.com’s London Spring Fling is more your speed? For travel now through May 31, it has an air and three-night getaway starting a $429 per person. This price-tag includes roundtrip airfare from NYC on an available carrier, three nights at a decent but basic hotel, daily continental breakfast, and all hotel taxes and service charges. But hurry, tickets must be purchased by Mar. 17.
Another Virgin special to London is its “2 for 1” package, which is good for travel in July and August. Travelers who book a reservation from Virgin’s “Best Deals on Virgin Atlantic” travel category before Mar. 31 will be rewarded with a “buy one get one free” offer for transportation, dining options, participating sightseeing tours and West End London theater tickets for select performances at the Apollo Theatre and the Shaftesbury Theatre. In some instances, the offer is valid only for purchases made online directly through Virgin, so check their website for more details. For travel to London in the summer, Virgin prices start at $749 per person for 3-night hotel plus airfare and $849 for a six-nights hotel stay with airfare.
If you’d rather have a more authentic London stay than what a hotel can provide, check out Coach House short-term vacation rentals, whose range of 70 properties includes cozy apartments for two as well as grand mansions that can sleep up to 12 guests.
A family business run by Meena and Harley Nott, Coach House London Vacation Rentals properties are primarily homes of London residents who are away for an extended period. Most locations are 10 minutes away from the tube, have a working telephone, and some have a computer and internet access. Prices for rentals range from studio flats starting at $130/night to two-bedroom apartments starting from $145/night. For $50 per person per night, you can also choose to stay at the Coach House itself, which is a traditional B&B. While they don’t approach the low rates of the city’s hostels, these are bloody good prices for accommodations in London, a town where the average hotel room costs upwards of $250/night.
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