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TRAVEL Q&A

Jolly Good Deals

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By K.C. Summers
Special to The Washington Post
Sunday, June 15, 2008

Q. I'm traveling to London this summer and would like to spend a week touring outside the city. Any suggestions for budget hotels and interesting places to visit? What are your thoughts on Stratford-upon-Avon, castles and Cambridge?

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Norman N. VanToai, Bethesda

A. Several chain hotels in Britain offer rooms at budget rates, or what passes for budget in the United Kingdom these days. Paul Chibeba, a media relations executive with VisitBritain, the country's tourism office, recommends Premier Inn ( http://www.premierinn.com), the country's largest chain, with rates from about $94, and Travelodge ( http://www.travelodge.co.uk), whose "saver rooms" run from about $57 to $116 and must be booked online at least seven days in advance.

For your itinerary, Chibeba suggests either Oxford or Cambridge, Stratford-upon-Avon and perhaps Bath. "The advantage of driving means that they can drive through the Cotswolds and stop at villages, for example, en route from Oxford to Bath," he said. Thistle Hotels ( http://www.thistle.com), another popular chain, has "a really nice property in Stratford-upon-Avon," he said, with rooms starting at about $157 a night.

Two good castle choices: Berkeley Castle ( http://www.berkeley-castle.com) in Gloucestershire and Warwick Castle ( http://www.warwick-castle.co.uk) near Stratford-upon-Avon. Admission to both is included in the Great British Heritage Pass family pass, which costs about $187 for seven days and provides entry for two adults and up to three children younger than 15 to Shakespeare's Birthplace, Stonehenge, Hampton Court Palace and almost 600 other stately homes, castles and gardens in Britain. Details: http://www.visitbritain.com/onlineshop.

If you haven't reserved a rental car yet, consider 1car1 (866-362-3121, http://www.1car1.us), which is offering American travelers to Britain a week's rental of an economy vehicle for $199, all-inclusive. The deal is valid through 2008. The company also offers a 10 percent discount for rentals of two weeks or more.

We are visiting Niagara Falls and would like to stay on the U.S. side close to the falls. The Comfort Inn at the Pointe would be perfect, but it's booked. What are the next best choices?

Jane Altenhofen, Washington

Not to worry, says Kate Scaglione, director of marketing and communication with the Niagara USA tourism office: Half a dozen other hotels are within walking distance of the falls, including the Grand Niagara Hotel, soon to become a Holiday Inn (716-285-2521, http://www.holidayinn.com; doubles from $95 a night); the Crown Plaza Hotel Niagara Falls (888-444-0401, http://www.ichotelsgroup.com; $139); the Quality Hotel and Suites at the Falls (877-282-1212, http://www.qualityniagarafalls.com; $130); and the Red Coach Inn (716-282-1459, http://www.redcoach.com; $109), which is modeled after an English country house.

And don't forget B&Bs. The Hillcrest Inn (716-278-9676, http://www.hillcrestniagara.com; from $95), for example, has four guest rooms in an elegant Georgian mansion on a quiet street five minutes from the falls. For more lodging options: 877-325-5787, http://www.niagara-usa.com.

Your Turn

Ed Conley of Fairfax thinks the reader who wants to take her grandson to visit a nearby rain forest [Travel Q&A, June 8] should look no farther than Costa Rica. "My wife and I have made two trips with our grandson to Costa Rica," he wrote in an e-mail. "Costa Rica is much more modern [than Panama or Belize] and more suited to a novice trip. All the major hotel chains are represented. . . . You can explore coffee plantations, volcanoes (active and dormant), butterfly farms, the National Zoo (a marvelous place) . . . and much more. All of this is doable from San Jose or any of the resorts."

Send queries by e-mail (travelqa@ washpost.com) or U.S. mail (Travel Q&A, Washington Post Travel Section, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071). Please include your name and town.


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