There’s always a lot of buzz over the £99 mystery holiday with Wowcher and Groupon – but are they worth a punt or are you better booking yourself?
Deals website Groupon have been running mystery holidays for years. The concept is simple – you pay £99pp for the deal, and a third party holiday company will book and plan you a holiday to one of 40+ destinations.
Most of the destinations are European city/beach breaks – but a few lucky people will win star prize trips to places like New York, Bali, Dubai and more.
The £99 price is based on two people sharing – so you’d have to buy two vouchers at £99 each and pay an admin fee of £5 to secure the deal.
In return, you get a two night trip to a mystery location (or bag a star prize) on the dates that you selected. In total for your 2 night trip, it will cost you £204 per couple for flights and hotel.
Not too long after booking, you’ll receive a call revealing your mystery destination and you’re given your itinerary.
You can choose which dates you travel between January & March (excluding peak dates), and weekend trips are available – which is a bonus for many people.
It all sounds good in principle, but is it really a good value? And what have people’s thoughts been on the trip? I did some digging.
My experience – it wasn’t really a £99 mystery holiday
I booked a £99 mystery holiday around 6 years ago, and it worked out very well. The excitement of not knowing where you are going straight away adds something to the experience.
When they initially phoned us up to tell us our destination, they told us we were going to Paris for the weekend – which we weren’t as thrilled about, as we’d already been there, so we asked if there was anywhere else we could go.
15 minutes later they phoned us back and informed us that we were going to Pisa in Italy, which instead we were much happier with.
The hotel they picked for us was just outside of the city centre, but still walking distance from everything. The only issue that we had were the flight times.
Our flight left London Stansted at 7am in the morning, which meant that we had to fork out a little bit more for an airport hotel, or we wouldn’t have made it.
Our flight home wasn’t the best too – it left at 10pm, which meant when we checked out of our room at 12pm, we were hanging around a lot waiting for our flight.
So in reality, it didn’t cost us £99 each with the extra hotels and airport parking, but we still had a good time – and we probably never would have traveled to Pisa otherwise.
How do the prices stack up?
I did a little analysis into this deal to figure out if it was really good or not. I had a look at all 41 locations that they could send you to and did a price comparison of how much it would cost for two of you to take a trip there on one of the dates within the trip.
There are a total of 11 luxury trips, which not surprisingly were a good deal at £204. However when we look at the other 28 places you could go (which are the ones you’re most likely to get), a lot of them weren’t good value.
I managed to make my own 2 day break to the Algarve for £94 for two people – less than half the price of booking through Groupon.
Even city breaks such as Dublin, Prague and Berlin were around £140 (£60ish cheaper), and you get the freedom of where you want to travel to.
Here’s a full breakdown of each location (and the cheapest I found it for) when I did some searching:
|Good value?||Destination (cheapest price we found)|
|Yes||3 night New York, 3 night Las Vegas, 7 night Bali, 3 night Dubai, 7 night Thailand, 2 night Iceland, 4 night Rome & Venice including transfers, 2 night Disneyland Paris including park tickets, 3 night all inclusive Greece, 3 night all inclusive Croatia, 3 night Switzerland Bernina Express, 2 night Brussels|
|No||Algarve (£94), Riga (£101), Costa Del Sol (£102), Krakow (£110), Costa Dorada (£111), Costa Brava (£114), Porto (£114), Bucherest (£116), Lake Garda (£124), Warsaw (£129), Malta (£134), Ibiza (£136), Budapest (£136), Dublin (£140), Prague (£141), Berlin (£143), Turin (£144), Lisbon (£150), Verona (£152), Mallorca (£156), Rome (£160), Madrid (£166), Venice (£172), Barcelona (£172), Marrakesh (£176), Milan (£176), Pisa (£187), Florence (£197), Paris (£198)|
With that being said, the cheapest trips that I found were usually midweek, so if that isn’t an option for you, and are booking a weekend, these trips might be good value (but it’s always worth checking yourself).
If you fancy it, it’s worth doing a quick check on comparison websites like Tripadvisor for hotels and Google Flights. That’s how I managed to piece together a trip for the prices you see above, and it only took a five minute search for each.
There’s a lot to think about with this, so here are the main points pros and cons to help you decide:
Pros of the £99 mystery holiday
- If you can only go away on weekends, it will probably end up a good deal.
- If you just like things to be planned for you, this is perfect for you. Very little planning is needed.
- You have the chance to win a luxury break to a far flung destination, and still get a holiday out of it if you don’t get one of the big ones.
- If you are flexible on dates, you could potentially save 50% on the price (depending on location).
- There may well be extra costs on airport hotels etc which will bump up the price.
- You don’t have much control over where you go – which means you could be going to the beach in the heart of winter.
So there we have it! Hopefully it’s given you some insight as to whether a £99 mystery holiday is a good option for you.
It might not be as cheap as it seems with extra costs, however if you’re a busy bee or can only do weekends, it’s something to consider! You can view the deal here.
If you want to start saving cash for a holiday, you can do that with a new app called Chip (and also get £10 free).