Frequently Asked Questions
Independent Escapes is a trading name used and powered by Secret Escapes Ltd. It is wholly independent of Independent Digital News and Media Limited.
What is Independent Escapes?
So how does Independent Escapes actually work?
At Independent Escapes, we think booking a holiday should be a fun, enjoyable and stress-free experience, so we decided to create a website where we hand-pick the best hotels and holidays and curate exclusive offers available only to our members. Our rates are the best you'll find online during our sale, that's our guarantee.
Every week we'll run short 'flash sales' lasting around ten days each - the time left is indicated on each individual sale. There may be as many as 140 sales going on at any one time, but we'll email you to let you know what's coming up during the week.
It's worth noting that, although all of our prices are better than anywhere else online during a flash sale, the availability of our lowest advertised rates may be limited.
By hand-picking hotels and holidays for members, Independent Escapes acts as an agent for the suppliers, tour operators and hotels featured on the site.
Why book with us?
Our ethos from day one has been to offer luxury hotels and holidays, at home and abroad, at prices better than anywhere else online - guaranteed.
As a member of Independent Escapes, you can rest assured that our rates are exclusive to you and cannot be beaten while our sale is live, leaving you safe in the knowledge that you needn't shop around once you've found your perfect getaway. In fact, if you look elsewhere online for the best price, we’re certain to beat it. There's no fuss - you pick the dates you stay before you pay.
We also try to make sure that all of our members see the value of booking with us. All of our offers are hand-picked by our team of travel experts, and we always try and secure little extras, like room upgrades, spa treatments or discounts, welcome gifts or even evening meals and cream teas - anything to make your stay extra special.
The Independent Escapes Price Guarantee
Guaranteed best rates online
What is the Independent Escapes Price Guarantee?
Our contracting team works hard hand-picking some fabulous deals, and our flash sale offers beat the best price you will find on the open market during our period of sale. We scour the internet far and wide to make sure we offer the lowest rates available. You shouldn't have to shop around - we guarantee our exclusive rates are not bettered elsewhere.
If we were to ever see a lower price for one of our flash sales, we'd immediately cancel the sale and either push for better discounts and extras for our members (like champagne on arrival, a room upgrade or a three-course meal) if we were to feature that hotel or holiday again, or just drop the deal altogether.
What happens if I find one of your flash sales cheaper elsewhere?
It's up to us to make sure that this never happens - and luckily it hasn't, so far. But, should you find a price elsewhere that has sneaked under our radar, please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll remove the offer from our site and renegotiate with our supplier.
How do you calculate the price and the discounts?
All of our flash sales are sold at exclusive members-only rates, cheaper than anywhere else online. The top rate advertised is the highest possible saving you can achieve with a particular offer and usually - but not always - represents the lowest price you could pay. Sometimes you may end up paying even less than the rate advertised, but there may only be a few available dates at these super low prices. The 'up to' price reductions are valid when the sale is set live.
We advertise the price after checking and re-checking the rates numerous times before setting a sale live. When a sale is set live on our site, we always ensure that our 'lead-in' rate - the price advertised at the top of the offer page - constitutes at least 10% of our total number of available dates for that sale.
Naturally, this leading 'best' rate advertised is usually the most popular, and often sells out before the remaining dates. Therefore, you may notice that a few days after the sale goes live, we're advertising a slightly higher 'lead' rate. This is only when the original rates have sold out and, if this happens, we will inform you of this change next to the new price. Full details of how our prices are calculated are available in the 'more details' section of each individual offer.
What do I get?
What do I get when I join?
We offer our members discounts of up to 60% on hand-picked boutique hotels and luxury holidays. If it's on flash sale on Independent Escapes, you won't find it cheaper anywhere else while we sell it - that’s our guarantee.
Who can join?
Everyone, we love you all.
How often will you send me emails?
We'll be sending a weekly summary (on Monday) of all the sales that are coming up during the next seven days, as well as reminders when the new sales start - just so you don’t miss out. You can opt out of any of the emails at any time, and we’ve recently launched a new contact preferences selector, where you can take a break from our daily emails and just receive our weekly summary.
Making a purchase
Why can’t I see your prices?
You’re probably not logged in yet. Once you're logged in and have selected an offer that appeals to you, the price should now appear with full offer details to the right of the picture gallery.
How do I buy?
You can buy just as you would on any other travel website, or you can pay £25 to hold a room while you decide.
What’s a ‘hold’?
Our members can ‘hold’ a date until the end of the sale by paying £25. Organising a holiday takes time, we know that. Especially when you’re travelling with others, organising several trips or just need time to plan - we understand that you may not be able to commit to a booking straight away.
To give you a bit more time to ponder, you can pay £25 to reserve a date in the calendar while you decide, meaning that no-one else will be able to book the date you hold (which will remain held until the offer expires). If you decide to book your trip, the £25 will automatically come off the total price and, if not, no problem - we'll credit the money back to your Independent Escapes account.
Important - a hold is NOT a deposit on a booking and is not a guaranteed, completed or confirmed booking. It's just a handy feature to prevent other members from pipping you to the post and booking this date.
Unfortunately, because the hotels and holidays that we feature are available to buy elsewhere (albeit not at the exclusive rates our members enjoy), the supplier may occasionally sell out while you're deciding. If that does happen, the date will be closed to sale and all holds will automatically be cancelled and the money refunded as credit on your Independent Escapes account. We will, of course, notify you if this should happen.
Please see our terms and conditions for more information.
What is a 'deposit-only' offer?
'Deposit-only' means that you only have to pay for part of the holiday now and the rest at a later date - before you travel, of course. We've added this to enable our members to get early-bird access to more amazing holidays, and because planning and paying for a holiday can take time.
Why can't I pay the full amount?
We offer these deposit-only holidays to give our members the chance to secure their holiday without having to pay the full amount up front. The supplier will contact you on the appropriate date before you travel to collect the remainder of the balance - but you can certainly pay the balance before the due date if you contact the supplier directly. The supplier details can be found in your booking confirmation.
...and if I don't pay the rest of the money by the time it's due?
Once you've paid the deposit to us, the supplier or tour operator will liase directly with you regarding the remaining balance. This is a non-refundable deposit - meaning if you don't pay the additional balance monies, you will lose the deposit.
What does paying the deposit guarantee me?
It guarantees you the holiday - simple as that. Once a deposit has been paid, you have entered into a legal contract with the tour operator and must follow their T&C's - just as you would if you had paid the full cost upfront.
How do I pay the balance and are there any charges?
The supplier will contact you when the balance is due - you will pay the balance directly with the supplier. Some suppliers may charge a small fee for using a credit card, but the supplier will notify you of this.
Booking fees and charges
What fees are included in the total price?
We do our best to keep fees and taxes to a minimum, but we may have to charge a small booking fee and a separate surcharge dependent on your method of payment. If these charges apply, you will be notified of the fee before you buy.
What is the booking fee?
A booking fee is a small administrative fee charged by Secret Escapes when you pay for your hotel or holiday with us. This fee helps us provide customer support and helps us cover the cost of transactions on our website. For total transaction values that cost less than £99, there will be no booking fee at all, and the most we'll charge per total transaction is £20 regardless of whether you've just spent £350 or £35,000.
What do I get for my booking fee?
Regardless of what you pay, by charging a small booking fee (depending on the size of your overall transaction value), we're able to provide our members (that's you) with a dedicated team on hand to help with any queries you may have about your booking. And importantly, even WITH a booking fee, the total price of your booking on Independent Escapes is still absolutely the lowest you will find anywhere else online.
Our offers - the small print…
What is my relationship as a customer with Independent Escapes once I’ve booked?
Independent Escapes is a travel agent, hand-picking and showcasing unbeatable and exclusive deals for its members. Once a customer has made a booking on Independent Escapes, the customer has effectively entered a contract with the hotel or supplier with which the booking was made. Why? Well, Independent Escapes is selling the hotel or tour operator’s product, and therefore it is up to the hotel, tour operator or supplier in question to ensure the customer gets what they paid for.
Where do you get your star ratings from?
We hand-pick the hotels and holidays we offer to you guys - our members. The star rating is a useful classification of the accommodation and reflects the standard of the establishment in its own country. A five-star London hotel may feel different to a five-star hotel in Athens or Istanbul, but we go to great lengths to ensure that each hotel we sell reaches and exceeds OUR standards, which we feel are far more important than an arbitrary star rating.
I’m not happy with the flight times I’ve been given?
As we’re acting on behalf of a supplier or tour operator when offering holidays that include flights, we’re not in control of the flight times and cannot offer alternatives directly. If you’ve booked a holiday with us that includes flights and you’re not happy with the times of travel, but they are as advertised when you made your booking, unfortunately, we can’t do anything about it. If the flight times have changed since you have made the booking and do not fall within the parameters suggested, please contact the supplier or tour operator directly.
My holiday includes flights - when do I get my exact flight times?
We always strive to ensure that our members have all of the information they need ahead of booking with us. If we sell a holiday that includes transport - be it flights, ferry, cruise or train - we will display the latest, most accurate travel times as supplied to us by our tour operator.
However, as we’re an agent acting on behalf of a tour operator, the exact travel times are out of our control and may be subject to change according to the tour operator’s terms and condition. We link to these terms and conditions in the ‘travel details’ section of each offer that includes travel, and we’ll supply the flight times or range of flight times accordingly. You will receive your final, confirmed flight times from the tour operator when your booking has been confirmed by them. Suppliers differ in how they operate their confirmation process, but it is up to them to send you accurate flight times once your booking is confirmed.
For more information on flight times, please see our terms and conditions.
What if I have a complaint while I’m away?
If you’re unhappy with any aspect of your hotel or holiday and you feel the experience you bought is/was not up to scratch - be it your room, the service, the food or the cleanliness - please take this issue up with the hotel management, your tour operator or resort representative. They will be able to deal with any issue you may have there and then, and we will assist you as much as possible in getting a resolution.
In massively rare cases, a customer may feel that the hotel or holiday is/was not as advertised by us - essentially, you didn’t feel you received what you bought - again, immediately notify the hotel management, your tour operator or resort representative in the first instance for a speedy resolution. However, please also contact us on email@example.com We’re here to make booking luxury travel a truly enjoyable experience, but we also need to know if things aren’t as they should be. Your feedback is incredibly important to us.
If you have an issue with your flight - such as delays or cancellations - please contact the tour operator directly (an emergency contact number will be on your booking confirmation).
What if my booking is changed or cancelled?
We take immense care in making sure all details, prices and information we provide is correct. Very occasionally, we may have to correct an error in a deal we’ve advertised - this may take place before you book or just after. If we have to make a change to your booking after it has been made, we will do so having informed you as soon as possible, in line with our terms and conditions. Again - this is very rare.
In very rare cases (we’re talking yeti-spotting, and the like), a supplier, tour operator or hotel may cancel a booking after it has been made on our site. This is completely out of our control, as the provider may have sold out of rooms or seats without updating us and is therefore unable to honour the booking. As we’re an agent, and your contract once you’ve booked is with the provider, we’ll support you in getting a refund or changing your dates. We (Independent Escapes) are not responsible for costs associated with a cancellation by the provider (for instance, you may have booked a hotel in Spain and immediately booked separate flights only for the hotel to cancel the booking) - this is why we always recommend that you buy travel insurance to cover against cancellations.
For further information about changes and cancellations, please see our terms and conditions.
The boring, but VERY important stuff
Are your suppliers member of ATOL?
ATOL is a protection scheme for air holidays and flights managed by the Civil Aviation Authority ("CAA").
All tour operators and travel firms selling air holiday packages and flights in the UK are required by law to hold a license called an Air Travel Organiser's License ("ATOL"). All of our tour operators offering flight-inclusive holidays have their own ATOL number.
ATOL protects you from losing your money or being stranded abroad. Holiday packages (with flights) sold on Secret Escapes are always ATOL protected by the Civil Aviation Authority. The ATOL number of the particular agent will be shown in the sale details. ATOL protection does not apply to all holiday and travel services shown on this website, only to "with flights" packages.
Do I need to book travel insurance?
We would always recommend you book travel insurance whenever you book a break. Travel insurance has to be the least glamorous aspect of buying a holiday, we understand that. But it's also one of the most important steps in ensuring your holiday is a great success. We recommend that all of our members booking with us should purchase adequate travel insurance for the type of trip they take - whether it's a foreign holiday or a UK break.
Depending on your level of protection (and we'd always recommend a comprehensive plan), travel insurance covers you against cancellations, healthcare, family emergency, baggage, supplier failure and a whole host of other potential issues. It’s always best to be on the safe side...
Am I covered by ATOL?
We're required by law to sell packages (holidays with travel included) only with suppliers and tour operators that are ATOL protected. So, if you've bought a package holiday with us, you are covered - and you will find the appropriate ATOL reference number on your travel documentation. If you've booked a hotel only with us - with no travel included - you're NOT covered by ATOL and must take out adequate (we prefer 'comprehensive'!) travel insurance.
Many of the flights and flight-inclusive holidays on this website are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. But, ATOL protection does not apply to all holiday and travel services listed on this website. Please ask us to confirm what protection may apply to your booking. If you do not receive an ATOL Certificate then the booking will not be ATOL protected. If you do receive an ATOL Certificate but all the parts of your trip are not listed on it those parts will not be ATOL protected. Please see our booking conditions for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to: .
What is End Supplier Failure Cover?
More and more people are now booking parts of their trips separately, rather than choosing to buy a package holiday. End Supplier Failure occurs when an independent supplier, such as an airline or hotel, goes bankrupt. Cover for this is usually only part of a comprehensive insurance policy, so be sure to select one that includes it before you travel - ideally immediately after you've paid for your hotel or holiday with us.