Home Money So what’s cheaper for a three-month retirement gap year… a Cunard cruise ship, a Park Lane hotel or a luxury over-65 village?

So what’s cheaper for a three-month retirement gap year… a Cunard cruise ship, a Park Lane hotel or a luxury over-65 village?

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So what's cheaper for a three-month retirement gap year... a Cunard cruise ship, a Park Lane hotel or a luxury over-65 village?

Have you ever dreamed of taking a sabbatical to retire from household management, say goodbye to daily tasks and rest for a few months?

If you decide to get away, what would be the best option: a world cruise; a five-star hotel in London; Or live in a luxury apartment in a retirement community?

Three tempting alternatives, all at different prices, with different levels of cost inclusions and optional extras.

Let’s take a look.


107 nights – £49,466 for two

Entertainment ranges from swimming pools to pub quizzes, card games, lectures and art classes to dancing with the orchestra in the ballroom.

Entertainment ranges from swimming pools to pub quizzes, card games, lectures and art classes to dancing with the orchestra in the ballroom.

You’ll be able to set sail from Southampton on Cunard’s glamorous new Queen Anne cruise ship on January 9.

The route will take you to sunny America, Australasia, Southeast Asia, the Gulf and the Mediterranean, arriving home come spring.

On the 107-night circumnavigation of the world, in addition to breakfast, lunch and dinner, white-gloved waiters serve afternoon tea daily in the Queens Ballroom, and if you’re still hungry, you can order room service at any time of the night. or day, all included in the rate.

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How to save if you stay living at home

There is no denying that living at home is the cheapest of all. Especially since the majority of pensioners will no longer have a mortgage. But you still have to spend money on food, heat and transportation. So how much do you really save at home?

Retirement households spend an average of £439.61 a week, which is equivalent to £6,783 over 107 nights, according to the Office for National Statistics.

That includes £59.50 a week on food and non-alcoholic drinks and an additional £12.50 on alcohol or tobacco. Energy bills cost an average of £62.70 per week, but are likely to be even higher during winter.

A further £48.50 goes on transport, while the average retired household spends £50.20 a week on entertainment and culture.

Over a year, couples looking for a “comfortable” retirement need a combined income of £59,000, while a single person would need £43,100, according to industry guidelines.

The Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA) says this would allow pensioners to enjoy a two-week break in Europe, three long weekends in the UK a year, £70 per person each week on food and replace a car every five years. .

The association’s ‘retirement living standards’ are widely used by the pensions industry as a measure of how much money people need in retirement to maintain their spending habits. The cost of a “comfortable” retirement has risen by £5,000 for couples over the past year, due to high inflation. Energy bills have risen by £1,265 a year for single households and £715 for couples, she says.

In addition to the four main dining rooms (assigned by cabin category) and the buffet restaurant, there are many other places to eat at an additional cost.

Entertainment ranges from a well-stocked library to pub quizzes, card games, lectures and art classes, to orchestral dancing in the ballroom, concerts and plays, gala dinners and captain’s cocktail parties.

On a tour that includes New York, the Panama Canal, Sydney and Hawaii, you will visit 28 destinations in 18 countries and relax for 68 days at sea with time to lounge poolside.

The cost for two people sharing a cottage with a sea view and a good-sized window is £37,298 (cunard.com), which equates to £348.60 per cottage per night, for two. But there are other costs that must be taken into account.

Although service charges, which apply on shorter cruises, start at $16 per person (£12.50) per day; £25 per couple is included in the fare on round-the-world trips, internet usage is not, and it costs $1,444.50 (around £1,136) for the basic package for a single device – around £10.60 per day .

You’ll also need to add mandatory travel insurance, offered from £11,032.70 for a couple by Holiday Extras (holidayextras.com), Cunard’s recommended insurance provider.

All this adds up to £49,466.70, about £462.30 for two people per night.


107 nights – £50,386

If you prefer to stay put while being looked after in style, with plenty to see and do within easy reach, an extended stay at a five-star hotel in the capital ticks those boxes.

Check into the Hilton Park Lane and you’ll never have to bother making your bed, a concierge will help you with sightseeing tips and theater reservations, and you’ll have the freedom to dine in or out at a wide variety of nearby restaurants. but unlike a cruise, meals have an additional cost.

The hotel brasserie offers two courses for £22 and three for £26. All rooms have kettles, coffee makers and mini fridges, so you can save on hotel breakfast (up to £44 per person) by making your own.

At the Hilton Park Lane hotel in London, Hyde Park and Green Park are just around the corner

At the Hilton Park Lane hotel in London, Hyde Park and Green Park are just around the corner

You’ll have Hyde Park and Green Park on your doorstep, and free museums such as the V&A, National Gallery, Tate Britain and Wallace Collection within a 30-minute walk, or a short bus ride away (free with senior bus passes). from other regions of England). ).

And hotel guests can access the gym, sauna and steam room for free.

Those who book with Canny will get the best room rates through the Hilton Honors program, which is free to join and comes with the benefit of free Internet, bottled water and other benefits, as well as earning points for future stays.

To stay at the Hilton Park Lane during the same dates as the Cunard cruise, 9 January to 27 April 2025 – 107 nights in a double room with park or city views, the total cost would be £39,686.26. Add, say, a modest £50 per person per day for meals (£10,700) and the total comes to £50,386.26, from around £471 per night for two.


107 nights – £56,280

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Auriens Chelsea, a 56-story complex for wealthy over-65s in London's posh neighborhood, has the air of a posh hotel

Auriens Chelsea, a 56-story complex for wealthy over-65s in London’s posh neighborhood, has the feel of a posh hotel

A more permanent option that is becoming increasingly popular among affluent seniors is to rent, rather than buy, an apartment in a luxury retirement community.

Auriens Chelsea, a 56-apartment complex for wealthy over-65s in fashionable London, has the feel of a posh hotel, with warm, attentive staff. The head chef of the private restaurant is the former head chef of the Savoy. And the restaurant and bar manager is from the Mayfair club, Annabel’s.

Daily cleaning service for your apartment can be arranged, along with other additional services.

There’s a gym and spa on site, and the beautiful garden, designed by a Chelsea Flower Show gold medal winner, is a peaceful place to read with a coffee.

Residents can be as private or sociable as they like and are offered a program of events and activities, such as joining the choir, book talks and piano recitals.

Located just off King’s Road, Auriens is just a walk from the Royal Court Theatre, Cadogan Hall and the Peter Jones department store in Sloane Square, or across the river to Battersea Park.

For this worry-free living in a one-bedroom apartment, rent starts at £16,000 a month, covering maintenance, utilities, council tax, broadband, telephone and TV package and TV licence, but not the meals.

That’s £192,000 a year.

To compare the cost of living in Auriens (auriens.com) for the same period as the 107-night Cunard world cruise or hotel stay, we can divide the annual rent by 365 (£526.27 per day) and multiply times 107. The result is £56,280.93 for two people plus restaurant bills (the Sunday roast at the restaurant costs £60 per person), or the cost of the food prepared and eaten at home.

So the cheapest way to spend just over 15 weeks wrapped in comfort is the Cunard World Cruise (cunard.com) with full board at £462 per night per couple.

A stay at the Hilton Park Lane hotel (hilton.com) is close behind, but eating more moderately, at £471 a night for two.

And thirdly, Auriens Chelsea retirement community, a long-term commitment with no meals included for £526 a night.

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The same, for less…

The cruise – 99 nights

A 99-night world cruise offered by P&O (pocruises.com) on the child-free ship Arcadia with evening entertainment and menus designed with British tastes in mind, sets sail from Southampton on January 3, 2025.

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The voyage heads to the Caribbean, the Panama Canal, Mexico and the west coast of the United States, crosses the Pacific to Australia and New Zealand, through Southeast Asia to Mauritius and around the Cape of Good Hope, heading to the Canary Islands .

A window cabin including full board costs from £21,898 for two. Basic internet costs from £757.35 for a device.

Travel insurance for a couple costs from £2,693.19 with Saga (saga.co.uk/travel-insurance). The total is £25,348.54 for 99 nights for two people (£256.05 per day).

The hotel – 99 nights

The Grand Hotel in Torquay (richardsonhotels.co.uk) dates back to the golden age of seaside holidays on the English Riviera. Two staying in a double room with sea views in the Grand pay from £21,893 including dinner and breakfast. If you add £10 each day for lunch, that’s £23,873, or £241.14 per night.

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the retirement community

Cooper’s Hill, a former stately home and part of Brunel University, is a 128-apartment retirement community for over 55s, located in the 67-acre Magna Carta Park near Egham in Surrey. It is one of almost two dozen Audley Villages (audleyvillages.co.uk).

Residents have community gardens, a restaurant, tennis courts, minibus service and social events. For permanent residents who choose not to buy, prices start at £6,000 a month for a two-bedroom apartment, which covers service charges and a night porter. The annual rental of £72,000 a year (£19,528.77 for 99 nights) equates to £197.26 per night.

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