Whilst the cost of flying has dropped significantly in recent years, allowing more and more people to travel abroad for their holidays who have in the past not been able to, we have at the same time seen a corresponding rise in the demand for luxury travel with new luxury travel companies popping up all the time, promising new unique experiences.
Whatever you are looking for on your holiday, be it more of the budget variety or higher end, holiday makers are looking for value for money and getting as much as they can out of their holiday experience.
The airport experience will not rank highly with the majority of travellers. Thanks in part to having to get to the airport hours before your flight and standing in long queues to go through security. Those of us who still remember the good old days of flying (which were not so long ago), when it was actually fun and an enjoyable experience, may well choose to pay a little bit extra for the privilege of having access to an airport lounge, where you can relax before your flight boards and enjoy complimentary drinks and snacks and in some cases, full meals. Many lounges also offer child-friendly areas thankfully, as travelling with young kids is always a challenge, both for the parents and fellow travellers.
These days you don’t have to be flying in Business or First Class to be able to use airport lounges and enjoy a bit of that luxury travel experience, as there are companies such as Priority Pass and DragonPass that allow you to pay for the privilege even if you are flying in Economy.
For those of you who fly away on business on a regular basis, this tranquil oasis away from all the airport buzz and frenzy means that you can get some work done before you board your flight and be more productive right up to the last minute before your flight is called for boarding. Most airline lounges offer free Wi-Fi, PCs and even photocopying facilities.
At the luxury travel end of the market, the airlines are falling over themselves to lure the wealthy customers in, with airline from the Far East and Middle East now setting the standard. A lie-flat bed is now pretty much standard in Business Class and Channel 4 recently went behind the scenes at Singapore Airlines, where a one-way flight can cost a staggering £9,500. For this you get your own private suite with a bedroom, leather chair, wardrobe, en-suite bathroom plus a large 32-inch Television on which to watch all those movies.
Choosing a hotel
Many holiday makers choose to fly Economy, saving thousands of pounds in some cases, and rather spend their hard-earned cash on luxury accommodation instead. Whilst there are plenty of budget hotels to choose from, the offering at the higher end of the market has increased ten-fold in recent years, with most of the large hotel chains having five-star brands in their portfolio. Hilton, Marriott and Starwood are prime examples with brands such as the Waldorf Astoria, Ritz-Carlton and The Luxury Collection. If you are staying in one of their Executive Rooms, you are more than likely to have access to the hotel’s Executive Lounge, where you can enjoy complimentary breakfast each morning, snacks and beverages throughout the day and evening canapés and cocktails. Some hotels even offer private airport transfers.
Travel company Trivago says that “your hotel room should offer plush pillows, soft and oversized bath towels, complimentary refreshments, full-size toiletries, and a special welcome touch to help guests feel ‘special’ in a luxury stay. Outside of your sleeping zone, late checkout, poolside service, gourmet foods, spa rooms, and private cabanas all top the list of must-have gimmicks to make a stay even more luxurious.”
Travelling by train can be far more enjoyable than flying these days, particularly if you are heading over to Paris or Brussels from London. Eurostar offers a seamless and largely hassle-free journey in comfort. But if you are hankering for something a little more luxurious, then there is the Northern Belle which offers luxury journeys around Britain and of course the Belmond Orient Express if it’s Europe you are looking to explore. With Planet Rail you can experience a luxury journey throughout Europe, including UK breaks that are nothing like hiking through Europe when you were a student with your Interrail pass.
Of course, many people choose to pack up their car and drive across to the Continent rather than face the airport. This is a far more practical way to travel if you have kids and you are off on a family holiday. But many Brits also choose to drive to The Alps every winter for their dose of skiing and with the car manufacturers offering 4-wheel drive in a number of models, you don’t even have to mess around with snow chains anymore.
The Audi A3 is a perfect example of innovative design and sophisticated technology. It is packed with features to assist you as the driver with things like parking assistance, edge detection and cross traffic assist, making any long drive an altogether more enjoyable and relaxing experience.
Coach travel has improved dramatically in recent years with many luxury coach companies offering spacious travel from 16-seaters upwards. Sumptuous leather seats that recline and on-board toilets and refreshments are a far cry from those student days of cheap no-frills coach travel.
Whilst the majority of us may not be able to afford a Business Class seat on an airplane or stay in a luxurious five-star hotel or resort, we can at least strive for that luxury travel experience. In the meantime, there has never been a better time to travel, with plenty of choice and value for money deals available.
Happy travels and bon voyage!
Simon Burrell is Editor-in-Chief of Our Man On The Ground Travel and Lifestyle Magazine, a member of The British Guild of Travel Writers and professional photographer.