Four breaks on a budget

From the Algarve to Venice and beyond, Chris Carter picks four of the best budget getaways – and one that's currently out of the reach of all but the richest of the rich.


Pine Cliffs: get to the Algarve before the swarms of tourists do


This "sprawling" clifftop five-star resort boasts a "tricky"golf course, the Annabel Croft tennis academy and a sunset champagne bar, all with the "magnificent Praia da Falesia Beach at its feet". "Sprawling" is indeed the word, adds Sebastian Shakespeare in the Daily Mail.

The accommodation, including the newly refurbished 215-bedroom hotel, is so widely dispersed there's even a Noddy train that will sometimes go off-piste to take you where you want to go.

From €77 per person per night see

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Before you get to the relaxing part of your stay at the AMA Hotel and Health Retreat Andalusia, you must start with a check-up and fill in a multi-page medical form "more anxiety-inducing than my tax return", says The Times's Laura Whateley.

The spa treatments following that ordeal are a "surprisingly good-value way to recharge your batteries" however, with the organic crystal-healing facial a particular favourite. Yoga and meditation are on offer, along with a gym, indoor pool, hot tub and saunas.

Once all that's out of the way, tuck into the food and drink. The two "excellent" restaurants are headed up by a former El Bulli chef, and the bar is well stocked with local wines and sherry.

From £695 per person including flights see



It's not hard to see why Edgar House in Chester was named the best small hotel in the TripAdvisor Travellers' Choice Awards. The Georgian property enjoys a "blissfully peaceful location", set on the city's Roman walls overlooking the river Dee, says Marjorie Yue in the Daily Mirror.

And the restaurant, Twenty2, is "amazing", serving local produce prepared by head chef Neil Griffith.

From £84.50 per person see


Try the "creamy gorgonzola, fig and roasted walnuts" and arancini balls of stuffed rice at Osteria al Squero. Wash it all down with a trendy aperol spritz cocktail, while admiring the canal overlooking Venice's oldest gondola yard from the 17th century.

Just a short hop away is Novecento a family-run boutique bed and breakfast. The bedrooms are "luxurious, sexy and opulent". There's even a "lovely" private courtyard and garden in which to enjoy breakfast when the sun is shining. Start the day with "a treat of home-made cakes, great coffee and a sweet and savoury buffet".

Doubles from €115 see

Looking forward to affordable space travel


Space tourism sounds like a flight of fancy. But former Nasa astronaut Don Thomas believes it's much closer than we think. Sending tourists into orbit is closer to reality now thanks to the rise of commercial enterprise in space exploration, he told Chris Leadbeater on

Private firm Space X, notes Thomas, is to start sending crews to the International Space Station (ISS) from next year. "Shortly after that, I would envisage they will send paying customers as well."

It'll be expensive, but still within reach. Right now, it costs $65m to fly with the Russians as a tourist to the ISS. Within a "decadeor so, you will see flights to space for $10,000 to $15,000", says Thomas. "It won't just be for millionaires and billionaires."