The best holidays for solo travellers – and no single supplement – The Irish Times

Going solo on a trip can be its own reward. Photograph: PA
Solo travellers will shudder at the mention of single-room supplements and prices quoted as “per person sharing”, but tour operators and hotels are finally catching on to the growing trend of getting out there on your own. It is helpful to bear in mind that hotels charging per room aren’t doing it to gouge solo travellers: they have a rate they need to make for each space, so unless it happens to be a tiny room with a single bed — and who really wants that? — single rates, where they exist, are unlikely to be anything close to half price.
Life and circumstances change, and the prospect of solo travel can be more difficult if you have been previously used to travelling with a partner, especially if they made all the arrangements. If you prefer the idea of a little company, a holiday with an associated activity can fit the bill: art, writing, yoga, walking, horse riding or history all give you a shared experience to talk about, are more likely to include other guests on their own, and are a good way to spend time in company on your terms.
For longer trips and deeper experiences consider volunteering. Projects Abroad have options aimed at younger people, and also for those over 50. As volunteering is not like a regular trip, do make sure you understand where you’ll be staying and what is expected — on both sides. See projects-abroad.ie.
We’ve put together a list of places in Ireland, Europe and the wider world where you won’t be penalised for striking out on your own. It’s worth also checking out networks such as Friendship Travel, friendshiptravel.com, and Escaping Solo, escapingsolo.com for more ideas and offers.
The joys of solo travelling: ‘You’re exploring a new place and exploring yourself as well’ ]
Kelly’s Hotel in Rosslare
Kelly’s of Rosslare has a limited number of single rooms, with prices from €155 per night B&B, and €195 including a four-course dinner. A daily schedule of activities including walks, talks, games and quizzes, aerobics and golf means you can get involved and meet people if that takes your fancy, or you can simply enjoy the sea views and spa in the company of a very good book. Look out for wine weekends, art weekends and more throughout the year. As a rule of thumb, a single occupancy room at Kelly’s costs €30 more than you would have paid per person sharing. kellys.ie
The Twelve Hotel, Barna, Co Galway. Photograph: Paul Sherwood
In Barna, Co Galway, The Twelve has single occupancy rates from €134 B&B. This is the ideal spot for long beach walks, followed by a cosy evening with a very nice glass of wine (or two) from the boutique hotel’s celebrated list. The Twelve is also dog friendly, but note: if you are planning to bring your non-human pal, you’re looking at a special suite which is more costly, but what price can you put on love, right? Phone to enquire about the Pet Suites at 091 597000, with €15 off the best available rate for singles — applies to the Pet Suites only. thetwelvehotel.ie
‘It had always been my dream to travel but I never envisaged doing it completely alone’ ]
The Iveagh Garden Hotel on Dublin’s Harcourt Street offers discounted rates for B&B, and room only if you’re travelling solo. Expect to pay between €20 and €30 less for your room, subject to availability, if you’re on your own. It must be something about the transient nature of travel, but hotel bars are often more comfortable spaces to spend time alone, and the nice long one here is a great spot to sit, snack and ponder the deeper mysteries of life. iveaghgardenhotel.ie
Filly Island, the Cotswolds, from Unique Homestays
Unique Homestays have retreats from the palatial and magnificent, to the small and beautifully formed, across the UK and Ireland. Admittedly many of their drool-worthy properties in Their Solo Collection do sleep two, but you’re more than welcome by yourself, and so are dogs in spots from Cornwall to Kent, Snowdonia, and all the way to Co Kerry. Sample prices from £750 for a mini break, and £895 per week at Filly Island in the Cotswolds (pictured). uniquehomestays.com
Sleep Pod at Generator Amsterdam
Planning the kind of hectic solo trip where you just need somewhere to lay your head, but don’t fancy sharing a dorm? Generator have introduced sleeping pods at their locations in Amsterdam and Berlin. You can still hang out in the communal areas, but retreat to your own futuristic pod when you’re done. Downside? You’ll have to foray out to the shared bathrooms to go for a pee, but on the upside, they cost from just €35 per night, and you can always pretend you’re on an intergalactic mission in one of those sci-fi movies as the decor is just right. staygenerator.com
Sunway have some good options for solo winter sun trips in early 2024 with no single supplements. Depart January 8th for the Costa Del Sol, for seven nights including flights from €459 in a four-star, rising to €1,109 for a five-star. Try Tenerife, departing January 24th, from €409 in a two-star, to €1,389 for the luxe option. Head to Agadir, Morocco on January 31st from €269 in a two-star, all the way up to €1,099 in a five-star. Further January departures with no single supplements include Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura and Lanzarote. sunway.ie
Vilamora in Portugal with Travel Department
Escorted trips are a very good choice for people dipping their toes into more adventurous waters. All the organising is done for you, and with optional excursions, you can be in as much company as you like — or not. Travel Department are the Irish experts, and while you can slot into any of their trips, you’ll also find solo options in their 2024 itineraries, including Portugal’s Algarve for seven nights, with departures on March 5th, May 14th and November 12th, from €889 half board, including flights and transfers. Or try the Montenegro Riviera, also for seven nights, with departures on April 11th, 25th and October 10th, from €1,138 all-inclusive. Look out too for solo-focussed trips to India and South Africa at traveldepartment.com
Cooking in Umbria with Responsible Travel
Cooking for one? Sure why not, when you’re doing it in Italy’s beautiful Umbria. Responsible Travel have a five-night trip to a delicious organic agriturismo, where you’ll go truffle hunting and tasting, have two days of cooking classes, plus wine tastings and excursions. No single supplement on selected dates, from €1,820, full board with wine, excluding flights. Find more Responsible Travel activities with no single supplements such as salsa dancing in Cuba from €2,168; painting in Morocco from €1,387; and walking in the Pyrenees from €1,695, all at responsibletravel.com
Pandaw river cruising
Going further afield, Pandaw, who specialise in Asian River Cruising will take you up the Mekong in January for seven nights from €3,415 excluding flights. There are no single supplements for this, and selected other cruises throughout 2024, including trips on the Ganges, and across Vietnam’s epic Halong Bay. Cocktail hour and the option of shared tables let you mingle and meet. pandaw.com
Kenya Safari with Newmarket Holidays
Flying out of Belfast, Newmarket Holidays has a No Single Supplement offer on a six-night Grand Safari trip to Kenya’s Maasai Mara, with flights, full board accommodation, safari tours and a boat ride on Lake Naivasha. Bond over shared activities and safaris, departing May 7th, £3,838. newmarketholidays.co.uk
Norweigan Cruise Lines Epic
With everything taken care of from the moment you get on board, and plenty of entertainment options, cruising is either your idea of heaven or hell. Going solo used to rack the costs up pretty quickly, but cruise companies are catching on to the trend of travelling alone. Norwegian’s Epic has a solo section on board, with solo cabins and lounges. A solo cabin on the Epic departing December 30th from Orlando for seven nights plus a pre-night in Orlando, including full board and gratuities comes in at €2,299. Or depart on February 22nd for three nights in Orlando and seven nights on board, taking in the Caribbean and Mexico in a solo cabin, with full board and gratuities for €2,345 with sunway.ie
Sunway has a dedicated area on their website detailing solo specials for cruises to Madeira, the Bahamas, the Caribbean and more, including Transatlantic cruises, guaranteed to have you arriving Stateside without the attendant jetlag. See sunway.ie/cruise-types/single, where you are directed to call to confirm prices, as options, amenities and offers vary, depending on the cruise line. An Avoiding Christmas option takes you to Miami with a fly-cruise on the MSC Fantasia, with three nights in a hotel in Miami, and four nights on board the MSC Fantasia in an inside cabin, from €1,148, sunway.ie. Whoever you book with, your total cruise price can end up in the “how long is a piece of string”? category, as you add drinks packages and shore excursions.
The Ombak Putih with SeaTrek
Explore the islands of Indonesia with SeaTrek on board a traditional pinisi sailing ship for a totally different type of cruise. With just six or 12 cabins on board (depending on the ship), you’re in a small group, sharing communal tables for meals. Solo travellers can opt to share with a roommate of the same gender in a twin bunk cabin, or if no roomie is on board, you get a cabin to yourself at no extra cost. SeaTrek will introduce you to your roommate ahead of time, so you can get the introductions out of the way before you’re out on the high seas. Alternatively, opt to pay a 75 per cent supplement on the full fare for a cabin to yourself. A nine-day Whale Sharks, Corals and Dragons cruise starts at €4,938 all-inclusive, excluding flights and tips. seatrekbali.com
Aranui 5
Staying on the high seas, the Aranui 5 will bring you to the Austral Islands, 500km south of Tahiti on the unique cargo-cruise ship. The Aranui won’t actually be bringing cargo on these tours; instead, your highlights will include remote islands with white sandy beaches, local explorations, hikes and swimming in perfectly pristine waters. No single supplement on departures on March 30th and November 2nd, from €5,209 for 11 days excluding flights. aranui.com
Gemma Tipton contributes to The Irish Times on art, architecture and other aspects of culture
© 2023 The Irish Times DAC
© 2023 The Irish Times DAC

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