Alice-Azania Jarvis: 'Is there really such a thing as a last-minute deal? It's difficult to find one'

In The Red

Yesssss! I'm going on holiday. Not yet, but in two weeks' time. I cannot wait. Until recently, I didn't think I'd be able to. As some of you may recall, I had an expensive plumbing disaster a while back which, for a while at least, looked like it might scupper my plans. I moaned about this a great deal; rightly, I didn't receive much sympathy.

Still, I can't help but feel thrilled that I'm getting to go. It's only to Cornwall, true, but it's still the first holiday I've been able to afford in two years. I've yet to actually book anything, but at least I know it's happening.

Of course, I should probably get organised sharpish, just in case it does all fall through. I've already left it late. I'm never quite sure what the best thing is to do. Should you book early, before all the best deals are snapped up, or leave it all until the last minute and try to get a special offer through one of those websites? Clearly I'll now have to go for the latter – though I can't help but wonder if there really is such thing as a last-minute deal. I've certainly had difficulty getting one.

What I want is a sweet little cottage near the sea (preferably in St Ives, which I've always wanted to visit). The boyfriend's tagging along too, so I don't want anything too small (confined spaces aren't, in my experience, conducive to functioning relationships). This, however, seems to be a little over-ambitious – so far I've struggled to find anything under £600 per week, and really I can't afford more than £200 per person – £250 at an absolute maximum. There were a few very reasonably priced cottages – I particularly fancied some of the ones on special offer at Carbis Bay, near St Ives – but, predictably, they've all been taken.

It's a similar story as far as B&Bs are concerned. I like the idea, but the only ones that appear to have any vacancies are the dirt-cheap options (call me spoilt but I'm not going without a bathroom; if I do, I know – just know – that I'll end up locked out of the room at some ungodly hour. I would rather stay at home than have to share a loo with strangers) or the super-expensive ones – fresh-fruit platters, personal espresso machines, and an impossibly high bill at the end of it.

So... it looks like it might have to be a youth hostel. Which isn't that appealing. I've stayed in more than my fair share of YHAs and no matter what your mother tells you, they really aren't all that. Or should I consider camping? Suggestions, as always, are welcome.

a.jarvis@independent.co.uk

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