10 best websites for booking a city break
Here are 10 companies to turn to for booking city break packages to Europe online. 😎
British Airways Holidays
Best for: guaranteed savings
British Airways flies to dozens of European cities, mostly from London airports. You can book the flights in combination with a vast range of hotels in many cities. Guaranteed savings are promised for 'flight + hotel' bookings over booking the elements separately on BA's website: you're usefully told exactly what the saving is for your booking. Decent hotel search options (by star rating, type, area of city, facilities). Packages accrue 'bonus' Avios (air miles) points for Executive Club members (it's free to join).
Best for: those with lots of luggage
Jet2holidays has grown rapidly to become the UK's second-biggest tour operator. Flights, with budget airline Jet2.com, are mostly from the Midlands and the north, but some are from its new Stansted hub. Unlike when booking Jet2.com flights on their own, a 22kg checked-in baggage allowance is included in prices on package bookings. Helpful inspiration pages (city breaks with beaches, good for families etc), and brownie points for being able to compare package prices on alternative dates and from alternative airports.
Best for: low-cost city breaks
easyJet holidays, which is operated by Spain-based Hotelopia Holidays, offers flight/accommodation packages to the cities easyJet flies to, with lots of three-, four- and five-star hotels in key destinations. You can't tell when flights are cheapest (as on easyjet.com), but search and booking processes are fairly smooth; useful hotel filters include limiting results to those with high TripAdvisor ratings. Note that unlike with Jet2holidays, taking checked-in baggage costs extra.
Best for: choice
Travel giant Expedia can fix a 'Flight + Hotel' package to any major European city with any airline, staying in a vast selection of hotels at all price points, as well as lots of apartments (aparthotels and private flats). Other selling points: excellent accommodation search filters; Expedia-verified guest reviews of places to stay; flight options neatly listed by price; and enticing, bookable excursions such as 'skip-the-line' tours of Barcelona's Sagrada Familia. You can collect Nectar points from bookings.
Best for: Eurostar packages
Another all-encompassing option, with packages combining flights with various airlines and hotels for all budgets across any European city you can fly to. True to its name, lastminute.com is good at flagging up last-minute weekend getaways. Also, lastminute.com is Eurostar's official provider of Eurostar/hotel packages, not just to cities served by Eurostar such as Paris, Lille and Brussels, but also other French and Belgian cities reached with connecting trains.
Best for: ease of use
This long-established, York-based short breaks operator is best known for UK trips, but it also covers European cities too – offering packages with a choice of airlines, or Eurostar, plus a big selection of hotels. The website is commendably clear: the extra cost of checking in a bag when flying is spelt out prominently; on chosen dates the lowest fare for flights and lowest-priced hotel is simply displayed; and with Eurostar bookings you can select departures from a price grid.
Best for: Italophiles
Citalia really knows its stuff about Italy: it has specialised in holidays there for over 85 years. Hotels are hand-picked – it's a good sign that there are not too many per city (13 in Florence for example) – and are evocatively described. Breaks are offered to some less obvious cities such as Genoa and Turin. Train travel is possible, including on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, and if you fancy visiting several cities in one trip there's an easy-to-use online multi-centre holiday builder.
Best for: a household name tour operator
Thomas Cook's City Escapes brand sells flight/hotel packages to all the major European cities, plus Eurostar/hotel breaks to key French and Belgian destinations. Search options are not especially sophisticated – you can pare down hotel options by ratings, board and city area, but not for any facilities you might require. And while you're offered flights with a range of airlines, Ryanair won't be among them: you need to book through a Thomas Cook shop for those.
Best for: late payments
This major online travel agency offers a vast choice of flights and hotels for city breaks. Flight information is easily digestible – thumbs up for being able to add in baggage costs across all results in a single click. Good search options for hotels, and Travel Republic customer reviews (often hundreds per hotel) are clearly shown. On many bookings, you need pay upfront just for the flights and a £1 deposit for the hotel, with the hotel balance required only a fortnight before departure.
Best for: price comparison
Given the many variables, it's a tougher job for price-comparison websites to compare packages than flights or hotels, but Travelsupermarket makes a decent stab at it. For a three-night package staying at a five-star hotel in Amsterdam on specific dates, I was given quotes with British Airways Holidays, easyJet holidays, Expedia and ebookers that varied by £150 – though importantly the flights differed, and some deals included breakfast and some were room only. For other cities, alternative package providers can appear in the results.