A week of glorious sunshine, in an indulgent hotel with direct flights – for less than the cost of your soggy summer staycation? Whisper it, but there are bargains to be had this winter: a budget of £1,000 easily covers flights and accommodation to a balmy, beautiful locale – plus in some cases, all-inclusive dining, too.
And just as the UK’s weather turns miserable, the forecast for our holidays looks brighter than it has done in months, with the easing of testing rules and the demise of the traffic light system from October 4. While yes, these glad tidings have sparked an increase in demand for holidays, there is plenty of availability yet, particularly in late November and early December.
All countries listed below are currently on the UK’s green or amber lists – which, as of next month, will be combined into one ‘low risk’ category. As ever, all companies listed offer flexible rebooking/refund policies, in case of changing travel restrictions or personal circumstances. All prices include flights and accommodation, and are correct at time of press. Do think of us when you’re sipping that piña colada in the pool.
United Arab Emirates
Nov/Dec weather: 24°C average, virtually no chance of rain
Explore the souks, heritage and museums of Dubai’s historic quarter (near the Creek), with a stay at the five-star Canvas Hotel Dubai - Mgallery: from £609pp via lastminute.com (including flights, departing November 8). The area’s top attractions are a few minutes’ walk away, and the hotel runs a free shuttle to the beach too – as well as offering a sunny rooftop pool. But if you’ve set your heart on a fly-and-flop break, lastminute.com also has seven nights at the five-star Amwaj Rotana Jumeirah Beach from £969pp (again with direct flights, departing December 2). Both rates include breakfast.
Looking beyond Dubai, your budget will stretch a lot further in Ras Al Khaimah – the neighbouring emirate, just a 90-minute drive from Dubai Airport. Right on the Caribbean-esque beach, with all-inclusive board and a gorgeous infinity pool, British Airways Holidays is offering seven nights at the Hampton By Hilton Marjan Island from £839pp (on selected dates between November 1-30 ).
Any restrictions? All passengers arriving in Dubai from the UK must hold a negative certificate for a PCR test taken no more than 72 hours before departure. More details can be found here.
Nov/Dec weather: 26°C average, with chance of (brief) rains
In Marigot Bay, on the leeward (sheltered) coast of St Lucia, British Airways has seven-night breaks at the Marigot Beach Club & Dive Resort from £749pp (room only) – travelling on selected dates between November 1-30, flying direct from Gatwick. “This upmarket all-suite resort will attract yachters, yacht-watchers and those looking for a sedate and sophisticated place to relax,” wrote our reviewer Antonia Windsor, awarding it 8 out of 10 for its location and facilities. A little further north in Rodney Bay, TUI offers seven nights all-inclusive at the 3T Bay Gardens Marina Haven, also with Gatwick flights, from £902pp (departing November 23). There’s a free shuttle bus to the beach, as well as a pool and gardens to enjoy.
Any restrictions? Travellers who have been fully vaccinated are not required to quarantine on arrival. Pre-travel tests are now mandatory; all visitors must provide certification of a negative PCR test taken five days or fewer before travel to St Lucia. More details can be found here.
Nov/Dec weather: Highs of 30°C, little chance of rain
“Although only 10 minutes from the capital, Buccaneer Beach Club has an away-from-it-all atmosphere,” writes our island expert Judith Baker. “The pastel-painted self-catering beachfront cottages and suites are clustered around a small pool” – while the powder-soft sands of Dickenson Bay are right on the doorstep, too. Via lastminute.com, a seven-night break with direct BA flights costs from £859pp (departing November 4). While all the accommodation is self-catering, there’s a great restaurant nearby at the Siboney Beach Club (Coconut Grove), and you can get groceries delivered to your cottage.
Any restrictions? From October 1, you must take a PCR test up to four days before your flight to Antigua, and partially- or non-vaccinated arrivals will only be permitted to stay in selected hotels/areas. More details can be found here.
Nov/Dec weather: 32°C average, little chance of rain
TUI is offering seven-night breaks at 3T Rooms on the Beach Negril, on a bed and breakfast board basis, from £865 per person – with flights from Birmingham. Surrounded by tropical gardens, the hotel has its own pool and is right on Negril Beach – within walking distance of a watersports centre, for scuba diving and waterskiing trips. Alternatively, for an all-inclusive break, lastminute.com has a seven-night holiday at SeaGarden Beach Resort – in lively Montego Bay – from £929pp (incl flights).
Any restrictions? You’ll need to take a PCR test on arrival, and stay within your resort/approved excursions during your trip – a ‘quarantine’ of sorts, but not dissimilar to a regular Jamaica beach holiday in practice. At time of press, the FCDO advises against non-essential travel to Jamaica, which can make sourcing travel insurance difficult (yet not impossible). More details can be found here.
Nov/Dec weather: Highs of 22°C, sometimes cloudy with chance of rain
Situated on Florida’s Gulf Coast, Tampa Bay is a one-stop-shop for family breaks – home to The Florida Aquarium, Adventure Island waterpark and roller coasters galore at Busch Gardens Tampa. With British Airways Holidays, a stay at Holiday Inn Express & Suites puts you a 10-minute walk from the entrance at Busch Gardens – from £762pp including flights from Gatwick and breakfast (for six nights, departing December 2). A little further inland from the action, yet with a free shuttle to the city’s best bits, Hilton Garden Inn Tampa North is yours for £799pp (same inclusions, same date; book by 13 October 2021).
Any restrictions? The White House has announced that non-essential travel will be permitted from the UK from “early November”, but has not yet clarified a date, nor the requirements of entry. However, it is understood that all arrivals must be fully vaccinated and provide a negative PCR test taken within three days of departure. More details can be found here.