Bank holiday: Get away – or join the fun?

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Next month, a bank holiday bonanza offers the chance of a unique, extended break. Sarah Barrell reveals how to make the most of it

What's the attraction?

A month from now, a holiday anomaly occurs in the UK. Three events occur within the space of a fortnight to offer the chance for an extended break. Thanks to a late Easter, the Royal Wedding on 29 April and the May Day bank holiday, Brits working the standard week can enjoy an 11-day holiday and use up only three days' leave in the process.

If you haven't already made plans for this bank holiday bonanza – which starts on Good Friday (22 April) and ends on 2 May – don't panic. There are still plenty of packages, flights and hotel deals available. And if you'd prefer to stay put for all the pomp and circumstance, then London's hotels are also getting set for the party. Some of them aren't even charging a king's ransom for it.



Frugal France

Bargain holidays are available just across the Channel. The accommodation arm of Brittany Ferries, Holiday France Direct (0871 244 1245; www.holidayfrance direct.co.uk) is offering discounts on properties across the country during the period. For example, get 10 nights for the price of seven in the Western Loire, staying in a two-bedroom self-catering stone cottage, sleeping six. For stays starting on 23 April this property costs a total of £260. And once you book, the Brittany Ferry crossings are reasonably priced too: Portsmouth to Saint-Malo for two adults and two children (with a cabin) 23 April-3 May costs £354.

Pierre & Vacances (0870 0267 145; www.pv-holidays.com) has discounts across all its French properties for the holiday period. For example, a one-bedroom apartment sleeping up to five costs £617 (departing 22 April, departing 2 May), staying at Residence Le Green Beach, a new seaside resort in Normandy.



Hit the road

If you want to get the most out of the big break, how about a road trip? Wicked Campers (0808 234 8461; www.wickedcampers.co.uk) offers a range of converted small vans or space cruisers that accommodate two to three people, with a tent thrown in to sleep two more. The beds convert to sitting/table areas in the day, with a small kitchenette area at the back and an iPod dock. Wicked Campers is offering 12 days' round-trip campervan hire for £864 (for travel in the UK) or £936 (in Europe). There are collection depots in London, Dundee, Belfast and also Barcelona, Munich, Malaga, Amsterdam and on the Adriatic coast of Italy; availability at these sites is still reasonable during the period.



Get active

Can't face the Easter feast without the means to work it off? Then take a 10-day walking holiday from Bologna to Florence, with Inntravel (01653 617001; www.inntravel.co.uk). This self-guided break tours Italy's Via degli Dei (Route of the gods), following a series of drovers' roads and mule tracks through woods and broad, grassy ridges in the region's rugged peaks. Luggage is transferred ahead of you and accommodation is at traditional inns, with two nights in each city at either end of the trip. Departing 22 April, the cost is £1,195 per person, based on two sharing, including 10 nights' B&B accommodation, seven dinners, five picnics, luggage transfers, walking notes and maps. Flights can be arranged. Ryanair (0871 246 0000; www.ryanair.com) currently has return flights from Stansted to Bologna for £183 per person for these dates.

Or how about a week in the saddle in Montana? Ranch Rider (01509 618811; www.ranchrider.com) is offering discounts on seven-night holidays at Lonesome Spur, a ranch with frills such as a hot tub and aromatherapy teepee. A special deal for the extended holiday: nine-night breaks (for the price of seven), departing 22 April cost £893 per person (with no single supplement), including full-board accommodation, activities and transfers. Flights are not included; Delta (0845 600 0950; www.delta.com), has returns for £653 from Heathrow to Billings via Denver, departing 22 April.



Ski Sunday... and bank holiday Monday

With alpine snow rather patchy this season, you might not have had your skiing fix yet – and those who have waited have been rewarded with plenty of fresh powder. Zenith Holidays (01737 852242; www.zenithholidays.co.uk) has Easter and bank holiday deals on self-drives to resorts such as Zermatt in Switzerland. Departing 22 April, returning 2 May, a self-catering break at the Haus Viktoria apartment (sleeps four) costs £2,850 total for four people, including Eurotunnel crossings.

Sir Elton John might be attending the royal party in London on 29 April, but the end-of-season festival at Ischgl, Austria ( www.ischgl.com) has become the biggest ski bash since 2008 when his piano was airlifted to the Top of the Mountain concert. This year, The Killers headline on 30 April. Ski Solutions (020- 7471 7700; www.skisolutions.com) offers a three-night stay at the four-star Hotel Elisabeth, Ischgl from 28 April - 1 May for £745 per person, including scheduled flights from Heathrow to Zurich with Swiss car hire (transfer time three hours) and half board based on two sharing. Alternatively, you can spend seven nights at the same hotel for £1,295 per person, or 10 nights for £1,775. The resort closes on 1 May.



Exotic Easter

Nowhere does Easter celebrations quite like Greece. The festival is a big blow-out for the Orthodox calendar, and this year the Orthodox and Western Christian calendars coincide. Head south to the sunny island of Rhodes where family feasts and church services fill Easter weekend, with parades through public squares and the handing out of bread and roses to the faithful. The website www.hotels.com is offering discounts at the new five-star Sheraton Rhodes, the first Sheraton in Greece, at the promotional rate of £1,064 per week, for a double room (from 23 April). Ryanair (0871 246 0000; www.ryanair.com) launches flights to the island on 13 April. Departing 23 April returning 2 May, returns from Stansted currently cost £249 per person. Flights from Liverpool are also available.

From next week, you can fly from the UK non-stop to Buenos Aires, bringing Argentina within easier reach for a short break. British Airways (0844 493 0787; www.ba.com) has flights from London Heathrow on 22 April, returning 2 May for £1,009 per person. www.hotels.com is also offering special rates on hotels in the city: 10 nights at the Park Elegance Unique Hotel from 22 April costs £674 for two people, including breakfast.



How can I watch the wedding up close?

Check into a hotel within easy each of the royal route to Westminster. Octopus Travel ( www.octopustravel.co.uk) has a list of accommodation still available that doesn't come with royally inflated rates, with double rooms from £165 per night, B&B (based on checking in at the three-star Rathbone Hotel, near Tottenham Court Road, on 28 or 29 April). Superbreak (0871 221 2717; www.superbreak.com) also has bargain hotel deals, including a three-night B&B stay at a three-star hotel in the Waterloo/Victoria area (addresses are released on booking), arriving on 28 April for £249 per person, including a London Eye ticket.

Best Scottish Tours (0131 208 2208; www.best-scottish-tours.co.uk) is offering a six-day small group tour of Scotland's royal castles, departing 24 April. See the turrets at Edinburgh, Stirling and Balmoral then visit St Andrews where William met his future wife, before travelling by train to London to check into a Westminster hotel. The cost is £1,500 per person including half-board, three-star hotel accommodation, guide, transport and entrance into attractions.

Get royal treatment at the capital's key attractions: Hampton Court Palace will host a show of courtly love based around Henry VIII's wooing of Jane Seymour, while visitors to the Chelsea Physic Garden can watch the wedding on big screens in London's oldest botanic gardens. A London Sightseeing Pass ( www.londonpass.com) admits holders to these and many more venues and, with priority access, to the front of the queue – visitors swipe their London Pass at the entrance, rather than having to queue for tickets. A one-day pass costs £43 for adults, £28 for children.



To get away from it all...

If you can take an additional week off work, Walks Worldwide (0845 301 4737; www.walksworldwide.com) has a new trip to the remote region of Mustang, in Nepal. "Forbidden Land" usually departs on set dates as a group trip but the company is setting up independent trips over the bank holiday/Easter period. This 11-night trek (19 days away) costs £1,690 per person, all-inclusive on the ground, and flights can be arranged (from around £700). In this mountainous enclave, culturally and geographically part of Tibet, you won't find screens broadcasting the wedding but you will find, in the tiny village of Kagbeni, a Yacdonalds, selling burgers made from local yak meat.



What Google will tell you...

Local residents may protest, but "Camp Royale is a stroke of genius," according to Joy Williams from National Express. Clapham Common will be transformed into a campsite for the weekend of the wedding ( www.camproyale.co.uk). National Express is running special coaches from 35 locations to the south London green space that is welcoming revellers who want to cheer on the couple but who don't have a royal fortune to spend on hotels. There will be free cups of tea, prizes for the most patriotically dressed tents and space for 10,000 people to camp (£82.90 per person for three nights).



What Google won't tell you... until now

If you insist on waving to the happy couple from the streets of London, and also want a break before resuming work, then there is one sure bet: after the ceremony in Westminster Abbey, walk across the river to Waterloo and board the next train to Southampton; this will get you to the Docks in good time to board Celebrity Eclipse, destination Cobh in Ireland – formerly known, appropriately, as Queenstown. The short cruise ends at 5.30am on Tuesday 3 May, giving you a good chance of being in the office by 9am ( www.rccl.com).

Who said that?

"A good holiday is one spent among people whose notions of time are vaguer than yours." – JB Priestley

"There are plenty of options around. Bookings are in line with what tour operators expected to see. Many people were unaware of the extended break available, so didn't book particularly early." – Derek Moore, chairman, Association of Independent Tour Operators (AITO)

"As well as this being a great moment for national celebration, I think we also have to remember that this is two young people who love each other who have made this announcement, who are looking forward to their wedding, and we must give them plenty of space to think about the future and what they are about to do." – David Cameron, the Prime Minister.

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
Arts and Entertainment
Characters in the new series are based on real people, say its creators, unlike Arya and Clegane the Dog in ‘Game of Thrones’
tv'The Last Kingdom' embraces politics, religion, warfare, courage, love and loyalty, say creators
News
people
Life and Style
tech
News
Justin Bieber performing in Paris earlier this year
people
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Freeman and Lauren O'Neil in Jamie Lloyd's Richard III
theatreReview: The monarch's malign magnetism and diabolic effrontery aren’t felt
Arts and Entertainment
'Molecular Man +1+1+1' by Jonathan Borofsky at Yorkshire Sculpture park
tv
News
Glamour magazine hosts a yoga class with Yogalosophy author Mandy Ingber on June 10, 2013 in New York City.
newsFather Padraig O'Baoill said the exercise was 'unsavoury' in a weekly parish newsletter
Extras
indybest
News
people'She is unstoppable', says Jean Paul Gaultier at Paris show
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Sport
Alexis Sanchez and apparently his barber Carlos Moles in Barcelona today
football
Arts and Entertainment
Miley Cyrus has her magic LSD brain stolen in this crazy video produced with The Flaming Lips
video
Arts and Entertainment
In his own words: Oscar Wilde in 1882
theatreNew play by the Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials - and what they reveal about the man
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Unless films such as Guardians of the Galaxy, pictured, can buck the trend, this summer could be the first in 13 years that not a single Hollywood blockbuster takes $300m
filmWith US films earning record-breaking amounts at the Chinese box office, Hollywood is more than happy to take its lead from its new-found Asian audience
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Volunteer Digital Marketing Trustee needed

    Voluntary, reasonable expenses reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Are you keen on...

    Java Swing Developer - Hounslow - £33K to £45K

    £33000 - £45000 per annum + 8% Bonus, pension: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: ...

    Corporate Events Sales Manager, Marlow,Buckinghamshire

    £30K- £40K pa + Commision £10K + Benefits: Charter Selection: Rapidly expandin...

    Corporate Sales Manager, High Wycombe

    £30K- £35K pa + Commision £10K + Benefits: Charter Selection: Rapidly expandin...

    Day In a Page

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    The German people demand an end to the fighting
    New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

    New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

    For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
    Can scientists save the world's sea life from

    Can scientists save our sea life?

    By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
    Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

    Richard III review

    Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
    Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

    Hollywood targets Asian audiences

    The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial
    Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app - and my mum keeps trying to hook me up!'

    Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app'

    Five years on from its launch and Grindr is the world's most popular dating app for gay men. Its founder Joel Simkhai answers his critics, describes his isolation as a child
    Autocorrect has its uses but it can go rogue with embarrassing results - so is it time to ditch it?

    Is it time to ditch autocorrect?

    Matthew J X Malady persuaded friends to message manually instead, but failed to factor in fat fingers and drunk texting
    10 best girls' summer dresses

    Frock chick: 10 best girls' summer dresses

    Get them ready for the holidays with these cool and pretty options 
    Westminster’s dark secret: Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together

    Westminster’s dark secret

    Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Dulce et decorum est - a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    Dulce et decorum est: a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality
    Google tells popular music website to censor album cover art in 'sexually explicit content' ban

    Naked censorship?

    The strange case of Google, the music website and the nudity take-down requests
    Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

    Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

    As England take on India at Trent Bridge, here is our pick of the high-performing bats to help you up your run-count this summer 
    Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014 comment: David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

    David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

    Captain appears to give up as shocking 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat threatens ramifications in Brazil