While many at this time of year are dreaming of warm-weather getaways, it might seem silly to swap a cold winter at home for a comparably cold one overseas. But if good weather’s not a priority, here’s why there’s no better time to book a trip to the U.K.
Flights are at their Cheapest
Throughout February, nonstop round-trip flights from NYC to London on British Airways and American are available for as little as $490—increasing to $540 in March. If you are willing to make stops, you can get to Glasgow from NYC for $550.
But the best deal available is on a route you might not have thought of. Late last year, British Airways and American offered a deal from the U.S. to Inverness in the Scottish Highlands and it lasts through March, meaning you can fly from Washington, D.C. to Inverness for as little as $430 (with one stop in Heathrow). The best part? You won’t fight the crowds drawn to the Highlands in summer.
If you can actually snag them, Wow Air is selling flights from across the U.S to Europe for basically peanuts (for example, $90 one way from Washington, D.C. to Gatwick, or from Pittsburgh to Edinburgh) but expect the return flight to be double the cost and be prepared to travel with as little luggage, and few frills, as possible.
Hotels are at their Most Affordable
With the exception of February half-term week, (roughly February 10-18) when schoolchildren are on holiday, the winter months offer some of the best opportunities for hotel savings. Especially in London, where hotel rates in February can be around 20-percent cheaper than in spring or summer. At the Citizen M Tower of London, one of the more reasonably priced central London hotels, a room that can be booked in February for £80 ($110) goes up to £103 ($142) in April.
That trend holds true throughout the U.K. Edinburgh’s centrally located, design-centered, and budget-friendly Motel One, for example, offers rooms that cost £69 ($95) in February, and go up to £84 ($116) in April, peaking at £184 ($253) during the festival month of August. At Cardiff’s Hotel Indigo, rooms start at £70 ($103) in February and go up to £88 ($121) in April, while rooms at Belfast’s Malmaison go from £75 ($103) in February to £105 ($144) in April.
There are Lots of Winter Events
So, visiting the U.K in winter rather than summer makes financial sense, but is there anything to do in these cold, dark months? Tourism websites will be able to give an overview of what’s going on in their respective cities, but, as for London, you can be among the first to visit the newly renovated Hayward Gallery, which reopens on January 25 with a major retrospective of German photographer Andreas Gursky. While around the Southbank, you can check out the new ABBA exhibition, then warm up in the rooftop Finnish sauna (through February 11). The Kew Gardens’ orchid festival (February 10 to March 11, £12.75 entrance) will likely brighten up even the dullest of winter days, as will London’s (free) Chinese New Year celebrations on February 18.