Sep302019

London and Plovdiv 10-night $500 trip I’d like to take, but unlikely to make

Feeling jumpy and I think it is more than the three cups of coffee driving the desire to travel sometime over the next two months. A relatively big trip in December-January seems too far away right now. TAP Portugal $114 one way tickets from San Francisco to London compound the need for feeling Europe around me.

Last week I outlined a trip possibility combining a TAP Portugal one way flight SFO to London Gatwick or Heathrow for $114.03 all-in traveling carry-on only. Combine that with cheap Choice Privileges reward nights at 10,000 to 12,000 points in central London makes six nights inexpensive.

Plovdiv, Bulgaria – European Capital of Culture 2019

I have this lingering attraction to the encounters and imagery I recall from two trips to Sofia, Bulgaria (5 nights total) with one side trip to Plovdiv (3 nights) in 2017. Plovdiv, Bulgaria is one of the oldest cities in Europe. This city with several millenniums of documented history and artifacts from ancient civilizations is one of those places where I felt an energy pulsating in the community.

Plovdiv is the European Capital of Culture in 2019.

Loads of street cats played a part in my memories of feeling life all around me while wandering on my own through the city.

Plovdiv is a trip destination on my mind I’d like to take, but probably won’t make involving the same TAP Portugal $114 one way flight deal from SFO to London. That one way ticket combined with a Norwegian one way home or even more simply a United round trip ticket to London for $369 is a great deal to take advantage of London as a destination and a departure point for cheap flights from London Stansted Airport STN to Plovdiv, Bulgaria PDV.

Plovdiv, Bulgaria mural

Holiday Inn Plovdiv, Bulgaria is only 5,000 points per night for dates through October 31. There are direct flights to Plovdiv from London or fly to Sofia and take an inexpensive train a few hours to Plovdiv. Visiting both cities offers a good comparison and contrast.

I stayed at Ramada Plovdiv at the Old Town and never made it to the part of town with Holiday Inn Plovdiv. Hotel ratings are good for Holiday Inn and prices are high for the city. 5,000 points is a steal for this hotel with rates generally over $125 per night for most dates in October 2019 when this hotel is available on PointBreaks rates.

Roman amphitheater constructed in 2nd century AD in center of Old Town Plovdiv shopping area.

Trip itinerary October 21 – Nov 1, 2019

Mon Oct 21, 2019  San Francisco SFO – London Gatwick LGW TAP Portugal

  • $113.90 one way TAP Portugal SFO-LIS-LGW

Tue Oct 22, 2019 London hotel overnight

Wed Oct 23, 2019 London Stansted STN to Plovdiv, Bulgaria PDV Ryanair

  • $102 round trip Ryanair STN-PDV Oct 23-30, 2019

Wed Oct 23 – Wed Oct 30 Holiday Inn Plovdiv

  • 35,000 IHG Rewards Club points

Wed Oct 30 Plovdiv, Bulgaria to London Stansted Ryanair flight

Wed Oct 30-Thu Oct 31 London hotel nights.

  • 20,000 Choice Privileges points for 2 nights at Comfort Hotel Hyde Park.

Fri Nov 1 London Gatwick – San Francisco Norwegian Airlines

  • $222 one way Norwegian LGW-SFO

Itinerary Total Price

Flights:

  • $438 for TAP Portugal SFO-LIS-LGW, Ryanair STN-PDV-STN, Norwegian LGW-SFO

Hotels:

  • 35,000 IHG Rewards Club points for 7 nights Holiday Inn Plovdiv, Bulgaria
  • 30,000 Choice Privileges points for 3 nights Comfort Hotel Hyde Park London

Airport Transportation:

  • Add $30 to $60 for transportation to from London Gatwick and London Stansted.

Plovdiv, Bulgaria is one of the least expensive cities in Europe. $20 to $30 per day goes pretty far.

2nd century AD Roman theater – Plovdiv, Bulgaria

 

Loyalty Traveler 2017 articles on Plovdiv, Bulgaria.

Plovdiv cool vibe, warm October night

Fell in love with Plovdiv immediately. Great place to chill out among Roman ruins, long pedestrian street, parks and Old Town.

Plovdiv Roman-1

Bulgaria Ramada Plovdiv Trimontium impressive for the brand

Second 67.50 EUR paid hotel night for Masterpass payment 7,500 bonus points + 1,000 stay points. Second night of 2-night stay on GoFast 23EUR + 3,000 points.

Ramada Plovdiv-1

Old Town and cats of Plovdiv

Plovdiv has lots of street cats. Old Town on a day with abundant sunshine provides an architectural delight.

Plovdiv Old Town-2

Enjoy the Colors – Plovdiv Street Art

Kapana district of Plovdiv is known for art, music and pubs.

Plovdiv wall-4DSC_0004

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

More articles by Ric Garrido »

Comments

  1. Are you still using Choice points from discover America or you have to buy higher price points?

    is the TAP booking class mileage earning?

  2. Slightly off-topic, but which London hotel would be the best use of the ihg free night certainly capped at 40000? I’ve only been to London once and had to stay in isle of dogs

  3. @Alan and Debit – I am still sitting on 160,000 points purchased in May during U.S Travel Association Daily Getaways sale and Kids First Auction. I paid $5.03 per 1,000 points. I have redeemed points for 9 nights since my purchases 4 months ago.

    Latest Choice Privileges points sale ended two weeks ago. They offer discount points several times per year in the $7.70 range.
    https://loyaltytraveler.boardingarea.com/2019/09/13/buy-up-to-250000-choice-privileges-points-at-30-discount-to-sep-17/

    Can also buy 6,000 points anytime ($66) and build account balance through Points PLus Cash reservations at $7.50 per 1,000 points.

  4. Hotel Indigo London Kensington is 40,000 points and a good location in central London.

    Holiday Inn Express London Victoria also 40,000 points.

    Staybridge Suites London Vauxhall 40,000 points is a popular hotel among IHG members from several reviews I have read.

    I have stayed at several IHG hotels in London.

    InterContinental Park Lane 70,000 points
    https://loyaltytraveler.boardingarea.com/2015/07/11/into-the-free-nights-at-intercontinental-london-park-lane/

    Hotel Indigo London Leicester Square 60,000
    https://loyaltytraveler.boardingarea.com/2018/10/19/my-room-over-the-stars-at-hotel-indigo-london-leicester-square/

    Holiday Inn London Bloomsbury 45,000
    https://loyaltytraveler.boardingarea.com/2015/12/05/review-holiday-inn-london-bloomsbury/

    Holiday Inn London Regent’s Park 45,000
    https://loyaltytraveler.boardingarea.com/2015/12/04/review-of-holiday-inn-london-regents-park/

    Holiday Inn London High Street 40,000
    https://loyaltytraveler.boardingarea.com/2017/02/22/my-square-foot-holiday-inn-london-kensington-unkingly-quiet/

    Holiday Inn Camden Lock 45,000
    https://loyaltytraveler.boardingarea.com/2015/07/13/rock-history-and-a-view-at-holiday-inn-london-camden-lock/

    Holiday Inn Whitechapel 35,000
    https://loyaltytraveler.boardingarea.com/2016/09/11/hotel-review-holiday-inn-london-commercial-road/

    Holiday Inn Express London Stratford 35,000 points
    https://loyaltytraveler.boardingarea.com/2018/01/13/crossing-greenwich-meridian-holiday-inn-express-london-stratford/

  5. Thanks so much Ric. The trip isn’t until summer, so I have plenty time to research those and read your reviews.

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