Ask Joan

London on a budget, bring the babies to Marbella and going to Australia

Affordable accommodation in pricey Kensington (above) and Knightsbridge

Affordable accommodation in pricey Kensington (above) and Knightsbridge


We are a couple with two adult daughters going to London mid-July for four days. I’m wondering if you could recommend a reasonably priced guesthouse or small hotel near Knightsbridge. MC, Mayo

Reasonably-priced and Knightsbridge don’t really go together, especially when you add in July. So don’t delay and make a booking as quick as possible. I know of one company that is an agency for B&Bs in nice private homes in the Knightsbridge, Chelsea, Kensington and Mayfair areas. Uptown Reservations book accommodation on behalf of homeowners and the rates are around £125 per night for a twin or double. You can contact them on 0044-207 937 2001 and

Within a reasonable distance from Knightsbridge, the Premier Inns at Earls Court and Olympia work out at around £103 - £125 per night, not including breakfast. The Travelodge on Drury Lane at Covent Garden is on the underground line to Knightsbridge and has rates from £79- £115 per night.

In nearby Kensington, the Lincoln House Hotel on Gloucester Place has rooms in July from £95-£120 and gives a five per cent discount for cash settlement,

The Tune Hotel at Westminster is probably one of the lowest priced hotels in London and costs from £50 per night for a double/twin; you will need to bring your own towel and toiletries, or pay a daily extra,

We are two couples with new babies who would like to go away for a week, preferably with a bit of sunshine, in September/October time. We are happy to fly but perhaps no longer than 2-3 hours. Ultimately we are looking for an easy holiday with a little sunshine for the parents and suitable for the babies. RF, Wicklow

Travelling with babies can be a bit stressful, with all the paraphernalia, so a jaunt to the Costa del Sol would probably be enough of a trip. Fly Aer Lingus if you can as it has a nice big jet on that route, which is roomy for travelling with babies. The earlier flights in the day are on the A330. October tends to be better value than September.

I think Marbella is a good location for your trip, and stay by the Paseo Maritimo, as you will have a lovely smooth path for buggies, beside the sea and there are plenty of restaurants and cafes here.

There is a good variety of accommodation in Marbella from quality self-catering to nice hotels. For budget self-catering, try It is an aparthotel on the Paseo with studio apartments for around €65 per night.

A bit more luxurious accommodation is available in the same area at the Skol Apartments, and their prices go right down in October, The four-star NH Hotel Marbella is about 10 minutes walk to the seaside and beside a lively area. Rates in October are under €70 per night,

My family and I are planning to travel to Sydney at the end of January 2014 or beginning of February 2014 for a daughter’s wedding. We are looking for the cheapest possible option. Could you advise please, what would be the best time to book the flights ? We are thinking of travelling with Etihad .
JA, Roscommon

Etihad and Emirates airlines are both competing for the long-haul traffic out of Ireland, and that means great fares for us. Generally they put out sale fares every few months and the easiest way to get notification is to sign up for the online newsletter on their websites.

Both airlines are also working with the travel trade and providing sale fares through travel agents. It may be a good idea to book through an agent as they will have access to all airlines fares and sales. It may also be that another airline will have better prices.

Agents with strong Australia business links are, 01-804 7188,, 01-677 7888 and, 01-602 1906.

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