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Just in Time: Five Winter Vacation Bargains

London: No, seriously. No, I mean it, ducky. This may sound counter-intuitive, given that the British capital is usually one of the world's most expensive cities, but London hasn't been this affordable in years. And if it drizzles, so what? With its splendid galleries and museums, restaurants and theaters, there's no better place to be indoors. General admission to cultural treasures such as the National Gallery, Victoria and Albert Museum and National Portrait Gallery is free. With the British pound trading at $1.40, the lowest since 1985, once-stratospheric prices are losing altitude, and that's a good thing for visitors who want a rich experience but don't want to ransom the Bank of England to get it. Even posh London hotels, long known for eye-watering rates, are coming down a bit. Como Hotels' boutique Halkin Hotel and trendsetter Metropolitan Hotel are knocking 200 pounds (about $280) off nightly rack rates through May 31.

A similar phenomenon is rippling through the English countryside: A superior double room at stately Middlethorpe Hall & Spa, in Yorkshire, booked through Travelocity on Sunday, March 29, costs just $137 a night. Post-winter, the situation gets pricier; the same room booked on Travelocity costs $332 on Sunday, Sept. 27.

OK, we said five great winter bargains, but there are many, so here's one more: Walt Disney Co. is offering seven-night stays and seven days of park tickets at Walt Disney World Resorts for the price of a four-night stay and four days of park tickets -- great family fun.

David Armstrong is a San Francisco Bay Area-based writer. He covers airlines and airports, hotels and resorts, food and wine, and writes travel destination features.
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