As bloated bankers feast on caviar and champagne for lunch, celebrities dodge taxes and politicians live large while the rest of us scrounge, it seems that things have never been so unequal. In fact with a new series of hit 1980s soap Dallas on air, documenting the lives of the disgustingly rich, and as footballer’s flaunt their ill-gotten gains while the rest of us live with cuts to public services, it sometimes seems like we are back in the bad old days of Thatcherism. Yet you don’t have to gaze enviously at the yachts and mansions of oil oligarchs and media moguls, because you too can have your taste of luxury, if only for a week or two. Here is how to live like a rich person, amongst the glitterati and beautiful people, without having to shell out a million bucks to pay for it.
Photo by Julien Haler on Flickr.com. Used under Creative Commons Licence.
Hire a Yacht
While you may never get your hands on a 150 foot long super yacht berthed permanently in St Tropez or Newport Beach, luxury yachts are actually within your reach. Head down to your local marina and check out the range of sailing yacht charters, which are often competitively priced. If you group together with friends, each paying a portion of the total fee, in order to hire a yacht or sailing boat for a day or two you will find you can live the high life without having to be as rich as Roman Abramovich.
Hotels in places such as Monaco and central Paris or luxury resorts in the Swiss Alps do not come cheap, but there are alternatives that can land you a room in St Moritz, Baden-Baden or Martha’s Vineyard. Many of the hostels in these areas are just as lavish and ornate as the sumptuous private hotels, and are often equally well located in the centre of town. While you may have to make one or two sacrifices in terms of space and amenities, you will discover that you can live for a couple of weeks on a mere pittance in the most exclusive areas of town.
The rich and famous tend to flock to the same places – those most expensive, upscale and exclusive restaurants, bars and cafés that just don’t seem made for people like us. Yet as long as you are confident, anyone can march into these lavish establishments and order a simple lemonade or espresso. Savour your drink over an hour or two, it will most likely cost a fair bit, and linger at your seat in order to people watch. As long as you have a drink in front of you, they can’t kick you out, and you have just as much right to be there as anyone else. So who says you can’t hang out with millionaires?
Out of Season
While you may be priced out of the most exclusive luxury resorts on the planet, during the off-season such places are often empty. This has two benefits – massively discounted prices are on offer, and when you finally do arrive, you get the whole place to yourself. Canny travellers going on holiday out of season gleefully regale you with tales of how they had an entire castle to themselves in Slovenia, how they essentially had their own private beach in Dubai, or how they got rooms at a hotel on the Grand Canal in Venice for less than the price of a pair of cinema tickets.
Rent a Mansion
A stately French château surrounded by vineyards, a Gothic castle high up in the Bavarian Alps, a sleek modernist home overlooking the Hollywood Hills. We’d all love to live in a luxury mansion. Alas, only the select few can afford such opulence. But wait, there is a way around this. Many luxury properties are offered for rent by the week, and, if you get together with friends and family, you will find that you can afford the most outrageously luxurious mansion on offer for less than the price of a dingy hotel room, at least when the cost is divided up between everyone. Fancy your own Greek island for a few days? It’s doable. Want a seaside villa in Spain? Easy. Fancy a town house in Medieval Bruges? Go for it.
John is a passionate and well versed travel writer with a love for yacht charters in the Azores, backpacking through Patagonia and hostelling in Asia.