Holidays and short breaks, hotels and travel are notorious for institutionalised acts of discrimination against the undeserving: Singles are often penalised for not having a partner. As if being a wallflower is not bad enough some hotels load the bill when singles check in at reception.Before I check in I check out and here’s the rub. A London hotel for a two night package charges £235 per person. If you are travelling alone you need to add £90 more than the guy next door who brought ‘a friend’ along. The Royal Garden Hotel adds £100 to the single’s bill and is far from being alone. It is common practice.Hotels respond to criticism by claiming they lose the charge on the partner’s bill. It makes sense then to book a hotel that charges by the room rather than by the person. Either that or bring along a friend. Hotels that charge extra for singles might be a little more ethical if the extra fee was levied only when the hotel is fully booked and they are turning couples away.Pick a PartnerMy cheeky suggestion that they put aside a reception area where singles can relax, chat up and choose someone to share their room with was not well received. Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea after all.
The same applies for those who fancy a sea cruise. My eyes lit up when I spotted a three-night Norwegian cruise for a paltry £99. Rubbing my hands in expectation, I looked forward to exploring the fjords by day and propping up the bars at night. It was then that the penny dropped; lots of them. The fare was based on two sharing a two-berth cabin.As we move into the third millennium’s second decade one of the biggest spending consumer groups are the singles. In the holiday trade there are web-based tour operators whose modus operandi is to target the singles. This makes subsequent socialising legitimate: No one is going to be offended if Sally is chatted up or Jeanette flutters her eyelashes at Gareth as their single status can be presumed.For singles this is far preferable to going on an ordinary package tour. Who wants to be Billy-no-mates in the restaurant or worse, fall in love with someone else’s spouse or partner? It rather spoils the holiday for everyone.Exotic LocationsI scour the specialist tour operators’ websites who want singles to join them on trips to exotic locations, seductive surroundings; perfect settings for a holiday of which more than memories might last a lifetime. With considerable panache I conduct a search through the appropriately named worldwide web.Whoa! Singles! Have Fun. Meet new Friends! Great Deals £895 for 7-nights skiing? Look at that price again! That is budget? Anyway who needs white snow when you can have white sandy beaches with palm trees? Grenada seems to tick all the right boxes for carefree philanders like me. Sure there are a few spa and gym temptations thrown in but £1,899 for seven nights? Maybe to compensate I will find someone rich and famous to chat with in the restaurant or bars: a premier division football player, a movie star, or top model? I am beginning to cotton on.Are these solo holidays strategically located, imaginatively planned and priced to provide an opportunity for single ladies seeking a supra-rich boyfriend; maybe James Bond? After all, at £2,000 for a seven day break in the Bahamas one is unlikely to be rubbing shoulders with the crowd that frequent the local bistros and bars.Gold Digging VampiresThis might then be the ideal opportunity for me to meet an upwardly mobile model, a gold-digging vamp, or a celebrity wannabe willing to invest a night in fame and fortune? However the thought of explaining across the breakfast table that my runabout is a fifteen year old shopping trolley and I am an under-resourced hack pours cold water on that scheme-dream. I have no wish to have a bowl of cornflakes emptied over my lap after a night of unbridled debauchery.
I discover a tour company specialising in singles holidays which seemed more reasonable. This one was going to set me back £235 for a week hamming up the bon vivant in Tenerife. Ever the restless traveller I moved on further to a rival company. I gulped: £500 plus for a week’s stay in Turkey did not strike me as competitive. That is until I checked out solo.com; they offer 4 nights in Salzburg for £829 or a 4-night winter break in Italy for £429.Clearly singles are being charged double with bells on. It was as clear as Bahamian waters that holidays exclusively tailored for singles translates into high price vacations. Possibly the thinking behind it is that singles, most of them without dependents, have plenty of disposable income. The obvious solution was to find a partner as two travellers can obviously travel far cheaper than one. Is there anyone out there?