You might not expect a luxury train to compare with ordinary rail services in terms of fares. But the Northern Belle's normal fare for opulent day excursions from Manchester is £170 – a couple of pounds cheaper than a standard-class day return from Manchester to London.

A TRAIN

You might not expect a luxury train to compare with ordinary rail services in terms of fares. But the Northern Belle's normal fare for opulent day excursions from Manchester is £170 – a couple of pounds cheaper than a standard-class day return from Manchester to London.

The collection of Pullman cars known as Northern Belle comprises the north-western outpost of the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express combine (0161 831 7900, www.orient-express.com). It is based in Crewe, but offers trips from Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds. Many of the departures are sold out for the summer, but space is still available on 9 August from Crewe or Manchester to Warwick Castle or Stratford-upon-Avon. The flat rate of £170 includes Buck's Fizz, a guided tour at the destination and dinner on the return trip.

However rich you may be, you are asked not to wear jeans or trainers, nor to use your mobile phone while on the train.

A BOAT

Book by tomorrow for an unrestricted cheap ferry crossing to Ireland. Irish Ferries (08705 17 17 17, www.irishferries.com) is selling a limited number of places from Pembroke to Rosslare or Holyhead to Dublin for £119 each way, covering a car plus two adults. Child places cost £10 each. A weekend supplement of £20 each applies for Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

A PLANE

Air fares to Spain peak during the school summer holidays, but GB Airways, which flies from London on behalf of British Airways (0845 77 333 77, www.ba.com) guarantees that its lowest fares "are available on every day of operation (though not on every flight)". From Gatwick to Palma or Valencia, the lowest return fare is £120; from Heathrow or Gatwick to Malaga or Gibraltar, £140; from Gatwick to Alicante or Seville, £140; and from Gatwick to Tenerife, £160.

A BED

In August, prices of many tourist facilities rise sharply. But upmarket hotels that aim largely at business travellers cut rates to try to fill rooms. Through the Hilton website www.hilton.com, for example, you can book weekend stays at the Hilton Brussels Residence for €90 (£60) per room per night. In Luxembourg, the rate is €111 (£74) and in Cologne €145 (£97).

In the US, the new chain of designer hotels, W Hotels ( www.starwood.com/whotels) has online rates in New Orleans for $129 (£86). Taxes of up to 15 per cent are not pre-payable at US hotels, so budget accordingly.

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