Subject: Cheap air &hotel to London
Thought this might interest some of you. From Frommer's e-mail newsletter, a great deal to London and elsewhere. Sandy in LA

London 101 For $466: Council Travel Saves Grief and Cash With Air/Hotel Starter Package

Even the most headstrong independent traveler often prefers to have a modicum of pre-planning when entering a new city for the first time. Although one of the sublime pleasures of travel is inventing your path as you go along, it's sensible to have at least the first few nights covered while you're scoping out new territory.

That's the idea behind the so-called starter package. Give 'em air fare and a bed for a few nights, hand 'em a map, and let 'em go. One such plan offered by Council Travel, the trusty worldwide youth-and-student bookers, offers just such a safety net for high-season travelers to Europe.

It's called Trip-On London, and it's not the kind of package that herds you into a series of buses with a lot of other newbie tourists. The budget-obsessed, independence-oriented Council will book your round-trip air fare (you pick how long you want to stay) and more: For $466, you also get two nights at a hostel, or for $508, two nights at the Royal National in Bloomsbury, a gargantuan modern affair near dozens of prime attractions and the West End. The hotel option is of more value if you have a buddy, but if it's meeting fellow travelers you want, then a hostel's for you. You'll also get a few other goodies to make the transition easier, including a train ride from airport to lodging, a London map and guide, a copy of the popular Time Out magazine to point you toward the current entertainment, an organizer,

and double-decker buses for three days. After that, you're on your own to explore London or to roam farther afield.

If you want to work out the value, here's help. Hotel lodging in London is routinely expensive, especially during the early part of high season, which this package covers. Expect to pay at least $60 a night even at a modest urban B&B. Direct train transport from airport to central London can cost around $20, and transit passes within central London cost $18 for three days if purchased there. So already, that's about $160 in necessary costs. If you diligently scour the bucket shops, you might find air fare to London for the leftover amount, although at this time of year, we doubt it. But is it worth the effort to cobble together your own package? That's your call.

Council just quoted us these prices, which are affected by daily changes in air fare. None include taxes and all may sell out. They're based on trips taken before June 15 (to accommodate the post-graduation backpack crowd); after that, prices go up between $125-180:

From Hotel Hostel

Boston $517 $475 New York $508 $466 Washington, DC $539 $497 Miami $628 $586 Chicago $577 $535 Houston $614 $572 Seattle $646 $604 Los Angeles $630 $588

The air fare is based on flyers with GO25 or ISIC cards, but with availability and luck, anyone can wrangle such a price. The package is also extremely flexible: Council can whip up a stay that includes as many hotel/hostel nights you want (with free transport to match), you can use your free nights in Paris hotels, or you can fly into London but out of Paris, adding an excursion on the Chunnel train [] in between. For value and experience, we suggest taking the basic two-night option and seeking discoveries on your own.

For more information, call Council Travel at 800/2-COUNCIL, or visit And stay tuned: Council plans to launch more Trip-On packages soon, including to Rome and Madrid.