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6 unbelievable hotels with surprising extras

We’ve all come back from holidays having spent a whole lot more than we originally intended or could really afford. If you’re determined to do better next time, it helps to book the kind of hotel where meals and activities are included in the price, so you can keep unexpected extras to a minimum. We’ve found six places that fit the bill perfectly…

1. Ikos Aria, Kos – fly from £85

Photo credit: Ikos Aria

Ikos Resorts is a small Greek group of luxury hotels that’s already proved a hit in Halkidiki and Corfu. Now it’s brought its award-winning formula to the Dodecanese islands, where the brand new Ikos Aria, its fourth property, has just opened on the southwest coast of Kos. Rooms are super-chic, with a pale colour palette, smart TVs and floor-to-ceiling windows that let the light flood in. When it comes to food and drink, you get seven bars and eight restaurants to choose from, half of them with menus devised by Michelin-starred chefs. Better yet, they’re included in the room rate, as are the in-room minibars (refilled every day), the children’s clubs (for ages 4 to 17) and a wide assortment of activities, including yoga, paddle boarding and canoeing. Heck, they even throw in the loan of a Mini for a day, so you can explore the island without forking out more for car hire. Rooms from around £144 a night with a minimum stay of 5 nights over the summer months.

2. Labranda Targa Club Aqua Parc, Marrakech – fly from £44

Photo credit: Labranda Targa Club Aqua Parc

Most tourists in Marrakech spend their time exploring the city’s lively street life and haggling for exotic souvenirs in the maze of alleyways that make up the central souks. But if all you really want to do is soak up some sunshine you could just base yourself at the Labranda Targa resort hotel on the northwest outskirts of town and pass a day or two doing nothing more demanding than flopping on a sun lounger in between dips into one of the four pools. Children get their own playground, miniclub and a freshwater pool with slides, and there’s an animation team keeping guests entertained throughout the day. Rooms are fairly basic but also very affordable, with rates from as little at £60 per night in June (including meals, drinks and some activities). And if you do decide to head into town, there’s a free shuttle bus to take you there.

3. Fantasia Bahia Principe, Tenerife – fly from £45

Photo credit: Fantasia Bahia Principe Tenerife

If you’re travelling with young children in tow, they’re going to be happy little bunnies at this newly opened family-friendly resort on the south coast of Tenerife. Not only do they get assorted play areas, children’s clubs stuffed full of age-appropriate games, crafts and activities, plus their own dedicated water park and splash pool, there’s even a fairytale castle and giant Dragon Tree, complete with light show at night. Parents will probably be pretty content too, given that it’s all included in the price, along with meals, snacks, various activities and some lavish-looking evening shows. This fantasy-themed hotel is apparently based on the story of Papimber and the Gardens of the Hesperides. No, we haven’t a clue who or what Papimber is – but it all looks like jolly good fun. Rooms cost from around £185 a night.

4. The Syntopia, Crete – fly from £51

Photo credit: The Syntopia

Rethymno’s appealing combination of charming old town, taverna-lined harbour and long sandy beach makes it an understandable favourite with visitors to Crete. This year it’s acquired a handsome new place to stay with the opening of The Syntopia, set just back from the coast on the eastern edge of town. Designed to offer an alternative to the island’s classic hotels, this adults-only resort promises a barefoot-luxury, hippie-chic vibe and is clearly aimed at an Instagram-savvy, sociable clientele. The décor incorporates lots of wood, wicker and stone; there are stylish day beds, palm trees and a cushion-strewn tipi by the pool; and entertainment options include live music, weekly pool parties, an open-air cinema and a programme of occasional events including cheese-making and raki-tasting. Most of the facilities, as well as food and drink, are included in your room rate and although there’s an extra charge for spa treatments, you get a 15-minute massage on the house. Rooms cost from around £104 a night.

5. Hilton Dalaman Sarigerme Resort, Turkey – fly from £89

Photo credit: Hilton Dalaman Sarigerme Resort

Turkey’s Turquoise Coast enjoyed a real boom in popularity last year and that looks all set to continue this summer. It’s at least partly down to the fact that a great exchange rate makes the country extra affordable for UK travellers but it also helps that the beautiful shoreline of southern Turkey is littered with an ever-growing number of swish accommodation options. Among them is the Hilton Dalaman Sarigerme Resort, set in large, well-tended grounds and home to an abundance of facilities, including nine restaurants, even more bars, and a whopping 10 swimming pools, some with slides to keep the kids occupied when they’re not being entertained in the children’s clubs. Meals, drinks and snacks are included in the cost, minibars are refilled daily. And even better, you don’t have to pay anything extra for many of the on-site activities, such as archery, fitness classes, sauna and certain water sports. Rooms cost from around £141 a night.

6. Pestana Bay Ocean Aparthotel, Madeira – fly from £70

Photo credit: Pestana Bay Ocean Aparthotel

It’s a half-hour drive from Madeira airport to the Pestana Bay Ocean Aparthotel, which sits right on the shingle beach of Praia Formosa. Leave your window open at night and you can fall asleep to the sound of waves crashing on pebbles. A giant kingfisher mural adorns one end of the building and the simply furnished rooms (from £104 a night) have large windows leading out on to a balcony and splashes of tropical colour in the soft furnishings. All rooms come with kitchenettes – which you might never use, given that drinks and meals are included in the room rate. No need to fret about missing a meal if you go out for a day either – they’ll kindly give you a boxed lunch to take with you. Free facilities include an outdoor pool, sauna, Turkish bath and games room, and if you want to head into central Funchal, the hotel runs a complimentary shuttle service until early evening.

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All flight and prices mentioned in this article are estimates of the cheapest prices based on Skyscanner’s flight search tools. These are subject to change and were correct at time of writing on 28 May 2019.