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Wallet-friendly winter sun

Castara Retreats


Look beyond the main Caribbean islands and you’ll find quality boutique hotels at staggering prices. Exhibit A: the 16 apartments of Castara Retreats, set on a hillside above Tobago’s especially verdant north-western coast. Though Firefly is the cheapest, it still comes with a four-poster bed, a kitchenette, a dining area and an ocean-facing garden terrace, while fragrant cedar wood and billowing white fabrics complete the tropical vibe. Snorkelling, fishing and even waterfall-jumping can all be arranged locally. From £95 per night,

The Hotelito


Yoga classes: The British-run Hotelito in Todos Santos, Mexico

Forget your Cancún and your Cabo San Lucas. The laid-back Baja California town of Todos Santos is Mexico’s coolest beach destination, offering superb surf breaks with cobblestone streets, health-food shops and indie galleries. Stay at The Hotelito, a ‘five-star B&B’ among mango trees, which is run by British interior designer Jenny Armit. Here you’ll find colourful casitas filled with stylish furniture, high-quality beds and twice-weekly yoga classes. The Hotelito will even help you kayak where sea lions roam. From £96 per night B&B,

Manathai Surin Phuket


Lotus position: The Manathai Surin Phuket. Rihanna (below) used to be seen at the local clubs

Behind buttery sand and dense palm trees on Phuket’s Surin Beach once sat glam nightclubs that attracted the likes of Rihanna and Jay-Z. After Thailand’s government silenced the speakers last year the swankiness segued into sleepiness – but the beach remains a star attraction. Manathai resort, which has arranged its 66 rustic-luxe bedrooms of traditional teak furniture and rattan blinds around lotus ponds, is a favourite. From £86 per night B&B,

Villa Don Hendrick

Sri Lanka

Jungle treat: The Villa Don Hendrick in Sri Lanka offers free drinks

Tired of extortionate minibars? Then you’ll love Villa Don Hendrick, a boutique B&B home to three red-roofed bungalows, a villa – and free minibars. Other pleasing touches are four-poster beds, solar-powered rainfall showers and columned terraces typical of Sri Lanka. Though just two miles from coastal market town Tangalle, the hotel is swathed in jungle viewable from the saddle on free borrowed bikes. Euro-Asian fusion dinners are offered each night. From £278 per person B&B for seven nights if booked before November 30,

Butiama Lodge


A snoozier alternative to Zanzibar, the notorious-sounding Mafia Island offers mangrove forests, golden sands and warm, aquamarine seas. Beside one of the island’s longest beaches is Butiama Lodge and its 15 bright bungalows with furniture made from old dhow boats. Each has an ocean-facing veranda with hammocks for optimal sunset viewing. Seven nights from £1,099 per person, half-board, including transfers and kayak hire,

Dar les Sirenes


Beatnik vibe: Essaouira in Morocco, has a chilled-out, budget feel

Long beloved of beatniks for its chilled atmosphere, the walled seaside city of Essaouira wins plaudits in Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2018 guide for its low-cost flights and inexpensive seafood. Similarly cheap is the five-room Dar Les Sirenes hotel. Clean lines and bright rugs have been added to the traditional lime-plaster walls of an old medina house. Cookery classes and horse-riding excursions are also offered. From £63 per night B&B,

Rove Downtown


Dubai’s hardly known for affordable hotels but the Rove chain is correcting that. Most impressive is its new Downtown hotel, which is within £5 taxi rides of the beach and ten minutes’ walk from Burj Khalifa. A turquoise-tiled pool and sundeck faces that rocket-like skyscraper, while inside guests – or Rovers – can use the mini-gym or lounge on beanbags in a PlayStation area. There’s also an excellent restaurant serving everything from shakshuka to pizzas and a youthful design. From £99 per night B&B,

Sempiak Villas

Lombok, Indonesia

Take one of Norwegian’s new low-cost flights to Singapore and carry on to Indonesian island Lombok. You’ll find white-sand beaches, surfers, fishermen and little else. Set above the idyllic Selong Belanak bay, the castaway-chic Sempiak Villas pair big beds with iPod docks and verandas. With a restaurant-serviced beach club, pool and spa, the facilities are five-star – but the prices, somehow, truly aren’t. Villas from £80 per night B&B,