Thousands of lodgings in Scotland, England, Ireland and Wales cost less than $100 a night, including breakfast. That's what they say at Visit Britain, the useful and efficient tourism office for the United Kingdom.
Anyone who has tried to book a room in London may find that hard to believe, as everything in the UK seems to cost twice as much as in the United States. That image is not improved by the cost of one English pound at about $2, lowest value for the U.S. dollar in 15 years.
The secret to saving money is to get out of London. It helps to travel outside the summer season.
In October, before and after a convention of the Society of American Travel Writers in Manchester, England, where the top hotels charge several hundred dollars a night for a room, I tested the $100-a-night promise on my own.
True enough, for three nights' lodgings I found nice accommodations at $100 or less each night, including a full English breakfast of eggs and bacon, sausage and tomato (that's tuh-mah-toe), mushrooms and toast, juice and coffee. Huge breakfasts saved me lunch money, as my appetite didn't return until late afternoon, just in time for tea and something sweet.
Thanks to the Internet, my quest for reasonable lodgings was successful in Manchester, which is a cosmopolitan, bustling city designed for walking, shopping and dining at sophisticated restaurants such as the two winners I tried, Simply Heathcotes and Room. Other local restaurants.
After luxurious days at the posh Radisson Edwardian, I moved to the Britannia Sachas, a tourist hotel only a few blocks away and still in the center of Manchester. Before leaving the United States, I found and reserved the hotel at Booking.com. The Website, a smooth operation, sent me an e-mail confirming my reservation and another after my stay to see whether everything went well. It did.
Britannia Sachas Hotel, at 98 English pounds for two nights, was clean and well managed. My room, 624, was bright and airy, with windows toward the morning sun, which Manchester, not known for its sunshine, provided for me both days. The hotel was an easy walk to restaurants and to the train, which I used for the 38-minute journey to Liverpool, a city preparing for a 2008 tourism onslaught as Europe's Capital of Culture for the year.
My other lodgings find was unplanned and unreserved. Earlier in the trip, I was driving south toward Manchester. Tired and thirsty about 6 p.m., I exited off the M6 Motorway toward the Lake District. I pulled off the 4-lane exit highway at the first town I liked the sound of -- Grange-over-Sands -- and stopped at the first inn offering accommodations.
The Lindale Inn in tiny Lindale, Cumbria, next to Grange-over-Sands, was a perfect one-night stop, with a clean room and bath for 38 pounds, about $76 for bed and breakfast. Downstairs was an inviting local pub for cold beer on tap and dinner of lamb chops. Total dinner bill, including beer: 14 pounds. Telephone 44-15395-32416.
I would recommend both of these lodgings, especially at less than $100 a night.
David Molyneaux is editor of TravelMavens.net