Last Minute Blues

Book a last-minute holiday. There are bargains galore for late bookings. So I was assured by the advertisements on the travel pages of every paper. And this year I decided to be bold, wait till the last moment, have a great holiday, save a fortune and wave to all those suckers who had paid full price.

Book a last-minute holiday. There are bargains galore for late bookings. So I was assured by the advertisements on the travel pages of every paper. And this year I decided to be bold, wait till the last moment, have a great holiday, save a fortune and wave to all those suckers who had paid full price.

Except that the ads don't tell the full story. I first tried booking a family beach holiday through Virgin, which has an encouraging phone message directing you to its "10 top offers". But, as with every travel firm I tried, after a week or so studying the brochures, I found I was rather better informed than the "travel consultants" who answered the phone.

My travel consultant could add nothing to the brochure descriptions and, after I had done the sums, agreed with me that the last-minute offers, with extra "flight supplements" and the fee for picking up tickets on departure, added up to more than the brochure price.

"How can you call it a last-minute offer?" I wailed. "Ah," she replied triumphantly, "this is a 'late search', not a 'late deal'."

At JMC, a delightful Scottish lady found me a couple of last-minute deals. But my suspicions were aroused when she began to flatter my virility. "It's a short walk to the beach," she said. "Och, you'll probably sprint it." No description was available, and again it didn't seem to be any cheaper than the brochure price. The word "deal" has a curious meaning in travel circles.

So, where better to go for a last-minute deal than lastminute.com? I tried the website and commendably it also gave a phone number for the lastminute.com "travel specialist". Even more commendably, the travel specialist was honest enough to tell me that she merely had in front of her a list from a travel agency and that, if I wanted their number, I could ring them. My faith in Martha Lane Fox's magical powers is not what it was.

Deciding on France, I then found a company which did cheap fares to Nîmes, only to find that Nîmes airport was to close in August. Time was getting short, I was getting desperate. I turned to my local Lunn Poly. "We don't recommend last-minute holidays for families. We can't guarantee where you'll end up."

In the end I did find an excellent last-minute holiday, an apartment in a complex, with pool, in the Cÿte d'Azur resort of Ste Maxime. But even that wasn't entirely happy travelling. I phoned the company, Motours, on the Sunday before we were due to leave. Apparently, the French firm in the resort were on answerphone on Sundays, so no bookings could be made on that day (it's only the busiest holiday month after all). They'd ring back next day.

They didn't. So I phoned them and booked a brochure-advertised family apartment with an extra shower room and a balcony overlooking the pool. There was no shower room. The balcony overlooked a busy road. But, a midnight haranguing of the man at reception led to a change of apartment to one with the advertised facilities.

We did have to change all the sheets, but as we stripped beds and chucked out dirty linen at 1am, I finally had that magical feeling of being on holiday - a very last-minute holiday.

News
A Brazilian wandering spider
news

World's most lethal spider found under a bunch of bananas

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Wonnacott dancing the pasadoble
TVStrictly Come Dancing The Result
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in the win over QPR
footballInternet reacts to miss shocker for Liverpool striker
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Arts and Entertainment
BBC's Antiques Roadshow uncovers a TIE fighter pilot helmet from the 1977 Star Wars film, valuing it at £50,000
TV

TV presenter Fiona Bruce seemed a bit startled by the find during the filming of Antiques Roadshow

News
people

Comedian says he 'never laughed as hard as I have writing with Rik'

Sport
Steven Caulker of QPR scores an own goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Queens Park Rangers and Liverpool
football
News
i100
Life and Style
tech
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
Latest stories from i100
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

    SCRUM Master

    £30 - 50k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a SCRUM Master to joi...

    Franchise Support Assistant

    £13,520: Recruitment Genius: As this role can be customer facing at times, the...

    Financial Controller

    £50000 - £60000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: A successful entertainment, even...

    Direct Marketing Executive - Offline - SW London

    £25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A fantastic opportunity h...

    Day In a Page

    Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

    'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

    If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
    James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
    Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

    Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

    Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
    Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

    Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

    Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
    How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

    How to dress with authority

    Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
    New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

    New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

    'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
    Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

    Tim Minchin interview

    For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
    Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
    Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

    Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

    Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album
    Hugh Bonneville & Peter James: 'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'

    How We Met: Hugh Bonneville & Peter James

    'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's heavenly crab dishes don't need hours of preparation

    Bill Granger's heavenly crab recipes

    Scared off by the strain of shelling a crab? Let a fishmonger do the hard work so you can focus on getting the flavours right
    Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

    Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

    After a remarkable conversion from reckless defender to prolific striker, Monaco's ace says he wants to make his loan deal at Old Trafford permanent
    Terry Venables: Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England

    Terry Venables column

    Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England
    The Inside Word: Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past

    Michael Calvin's Inside Word

    Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past