The best value places in the sun

Presenters Danni Menzies, Jonnie Irwin and Scarlette Douglas reveal their favourite islands for a bargain

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Would you like a beautiful villa somewhere sunny? Wouldn’t we all. So we asked three of the presenters of A Place in the Sun – which is back on Channel 4 this weekend – where to find the best deal.

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Danni Menzies

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Best value place in the sun? Matala, Crete

How much? 3/4 bedroom houses are between 200,000 and 300,000 euros in Crete, but there are plenty of bargains to be had.

How easy is it to get to? London to Heraklion is a 4hr flight and it’s an hour’s drive from Heraklion airport.

Other selling points? The local town is quiet and quaint. The main pebble beach is surrounded by cliffs which are great for hiking over. The nearby “red beach” is listed as one of the top ten beaches in the world because of its lovely, deep-red sand, and if you like a nude beach, well, it’s that too! The food is always incredible wherever you eat. I’m a veggie and I have plenty of options. Komo Beach is a five-minute drive away, where there are water sports and you can walk for miles.

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Matala, Crete

Downsides? Matala is not a package holiday destination and the people who visit there are usually a little “hippyish”, so the nightlife is relaxed. It’s not where a place to go for a party getaway.

Favourite way to spend a day there? I’d get up and have fresh pancakes and fruit, then hike up over the cliffs to the red beach. While there I’d make my own body mud scrub with the clay and bask in the sun. After hiking back over, I’d chill at one of the bars looking out over the sea. I’d order a Greek salad and a few drinks, and make some friends. When I go away I like to relax and make the most of downtime. However, I’d usually hire a moped to do a bit of exploring and get to the turtle sanctuary!


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Jonnie Irwin

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Best value place in the sun? Best value I’ve seen recently is southern Phuket in Thailand. 

How much? Although you’ll see some small studios listed cheaper, a decent one-bed apartment starts at around £60k with two bed houses with a private pool starting at £150k. Properties that require work aren’t popular and can be found even cheaper. 

How easy is it to get to? No direct flights but relatively straight-forward with the big airlines having one stop-off through the likes of Dubai or Bangkok. 

Other selling points? Great scuba-diving, beaches, markets and food. Stay local – especially street food. 

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Rawai Beach at sunrise

Downsides? There’s not much integration between foreigners and locals, and the concentrated expat areas are best avoided. It takes a good 15 hrs to get there so plan your trip to avoid the monsoon/rainy season. Buying property there can be a little complicated, especially freehold, so make sure you get an expert independent lawyer on board. 

Favourite way to spend a day there? Start the day with a run up to the impressive Big Buddha, which sits overlooking the bay and soak up the views. Then ride over to Nai Han Beach for some downtime and a massage. Head back via Rawai Beach to buy freshly landed fish to cook, washed down with a few Chang beers. 


Scarlette Douglas

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Best value place in the sun? That would have to be Ibiza! It has the party side and the chilled-out side and it’s absolutely beautiful.

How much? It all depends on what you’re looking for, but you can pick up a decent size two-bedroom apartment in a nice location for around £150k.

How easy is it to get to? So easy, as it is a popular holiday destination most airlines fly there frequently.

Other selling points? Beautiful beaches, gorgeous coastlines, mountainous views, brilliant shops and of course that all important nightlife that Ibiza is famous for. If you’re looking for more of a relaxing time, they have great spas, yoga retreats and fitness camps that are also very appealing. And not to forget the music festivals that are slightly more sophisticated than the clubs!

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Ibiza port and old town

Downsides? Property prices range immensely but you can find some good deals. If you don’t like the nightlife, stay away from the obviously busy places like San Antonio as they can get pretty rowdy.

Favourite way to spend a day there? I would most probably stroll along the beach with a fruit smoothie and watch the world go by. Pop into some shops and have a healthy lunch. Everyone looks healthy and fit there so I would want to feel good, too! In the evening, a nice restaurant overlooking the sea would suit me.

A Place in the Sun: Summer Sun is on Saturdays at 4.30pm, and Winter Sun is on Sundays at 4.30pm. 


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Radio Times Travel offer

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Minos Beach Art hotel is a luxury five star hotel with a strong reputation for being a small and stylish hotel with incredible services and fine cuisine. This beautiful hotel is located on the beach in the town of Agios Nikolaos in Crete, and is set in tranquil, natural gardens, conveniently set for guests who wish to take advantage of the local bus service – perfect for sightseeing within the local area. Read more and book.

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