The Real Deal: Round-trip airfare, five nights' accommodations, transfers, admission fees, sightseeing tours, some meals, and a theater performance, from $1,806 per person — plus taxes of about $165.
When: Depart on April 30, 2008; add $92 for Sept. 17, Oct. 1, 15; $357 for June 25, July 23, Aug. 20, Sept. 3.
Gateways: New York City; add $138 for Chicago; $150 for Miami; $163 for Houston; $192 for L.A.; $230 for Seattle; $246 for Denver; additional cities available.
The fine print: Breakfast daily, hotel taxes and service charges, a theater show with dinner, sightseeing tours, admission fees, group airport-hotel transfers, local transportation by luxury coach, and the services of a professional tour director are all included. Other perks include a welcome drink; one "London for less" card per room for discounts on tours, shopping, and restaurants; a flight bag, a ticket wallet, and luggage tags and a strap. Airport taxes and fuel surcharges are an additional $165 per person. Based on double occupancy; single supplement is $518. Read these guidelines before you book any Real Deal.
Contact: CIE Tours, 800/243-8687, cietours.com.
Why it's a deal: For comparison purposes, the lowest round-trip fare between New York City and London in late April, according to a recent SideStep search, was $476 (Air Canada). For an additional $1,330, or about $266 a day, CIE covers accommodations — including breakfast daily and taxes — transportation by luxury coach, a West End theater show with dinner, sightseeing tours, entrance fees, and the services of a professional tour guide — plus the time-saving factor of being able to book everything at one place.
Trip details: The 2008 London Experience package includes round-trip airfare on a major carrier and five nights' accommodations. Upon your arrival at the airport, you'll be transferred to the 138-room Jurys Great Russell Street Hotel in central London to check in.
The 20th-century hotel, designed by famed English architect Sir Edwin Lutyens, is walking distance from the Tottenham Court Road tube station, Covent Garden, and the British Museum. The theater and financial districts and the superb shopping along Oxford and Bond streets are also within easy reach.
The package includes three full-day extensive city tours. The first organized excursion starts with a visit to the Tower of London to see the ravens, the guards (known as Yeoman Warders or Beefeaters), the Traitor's Gate, the White Tower, and the Crown Jewels. This tour will take you past other must-see London attractions, such as St. Paul's Cathedral, Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, and the Houses of Parliament. End the busy day with an evening trip to the West End theater district for a dinner with your tour mates, followed by a theater play.
The second city tour covers the Queen's official residence, Windsor Castle, where you'll get a glimpse of the upper, middle, and lower wards, St. George's Chapel, and the Round Tower. Then you'll drive to Hampton Court Palace to explore its gardens, gatehouse, Tudor kitchens, and the Great Vine.
Tour number three is a full-day excursion to Salisbury Plain, the site of iconic Stonehenge, which dates back to about 3,000 B.C. Afterwards, visit the hot springs of Bath, a popular spa retreat since Roman times and the setting of some of Jane Austen's novels.
You'll also have a couple of days to explore London on your own. Noteworthy attractions include the National Gallery, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Tate Modern, and Oxo Tower Warf. Or if you've had your fill of sightseeing and just want to shop till you drop, you won't have to stray far from your hotel. But remember, no shopping trip is complete without stopping by the famous department store Harrods, on Brompton Road.
If you'd like to extend your stay, additional nights in London start from 294 per room per night.
For more tips on what to do in the area, visit the official Web site of the British Tourist Authority. Before you go, check the latest exchange rate, the local time, and the weather forecast at BudgetTravel.com.