Radio Times Escapes is a registered trading name used and powered by Secret Escapes Ltd for and on behalf of Immediate Media Company Limited.
Frequently Asked Questions
The global COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the travel plans of a large number of members. The questions and answers outlined below may help you understand what is a complex and changing situation. Please be reassured that if you have an upcoming booking which is likely to be affected by COVID-19, we will contact you in advance of your departure date.
What happens if my trip is affected by COVID-19 restrictions?
Most governments now have stringent travel restrictions in place until further notice.
If it becomes likely that your trip will be impossible due to COVID-19, Secret Escapes (or a partner operator responsible for your trip) will contact you to discuss your options. A clear process has been developed to help customers in this situation and you do not need to do anything, you will be contacted. Please look out for messages from us and check your spam / voicemail regularly. Affected bookings are being prioritised by departure date.
If however, you do want to speak to us, please fill in the form on the Contact Us page
to help us help you most efficiently.
What is the best way to get a response to my enquiry?
There is a high volume of customer enquiries at this time, so please use the form on the Contact Us page
to reach us. This form has been designed in response to COVID-19 to give us all the information we need to respond to you quickly and efficiently. Please submit one form per booking. All enquiries are prioritised by date of travel.
If you submit an enquiry, please monitor your email (including spam folders) and voicemail.
Why is it taking time for Secret Escapes to respond to my query?
As you can imagine, this pandemic has created issues with high numbers of bookings and our Customer Services teams are working around the clock to reassure members and resolve their issues. We apologise if you have found it hard to reach us. New processes and an expanded team are helping us look after more and more people each day.
Members are being contacted in date order, with priority being given to those with the most imminent travel dates. As governments extend restrictions, new groups of members will be affected. We will respond to everyone as quickly as we can.
I have an upcoming trip and I haven’t heard from you. Why not?
We are contacting members in advance of departure dates, so please check your spam folder and voicemail. If you have not yet been contacted by us, this should happen shortly.
If you want further clarification, please fill in the form on the Contact Us page
. Your imminent departure date should see your enquiry prioritised.
If my trip is cancelled due to COVID-19, can I get a refund?
Secret Escapes offers two types of travel: Hotel-only trips and Package trips (any trip where travel (air, rail etc.) is included). Your options will vary depending on the type of trip that you have bought:
Hotel-only stays: With hotel-only trips, Secret Escapes acts as an intermediary and the contract is between you and the hotel. If you have purchased a hotel-only stay via Secret Escapes, then it is up to the hotel whether they will offer a refund or not. Secret Escapes is unable to refund any stay without the permission of the hotel. If the hotel does agree to a refund, Secret Escapes will assist members as appropriate. In these situations, hotels should refund 100% of the cost of the trip to customers. Secret Escapes continues to reimburse its hotel partners as per the normal payment cycle.
The good news is that almost all of our hotel partners are open to members postponing and rebooking their stay, so your trip need not be lost. At Secret Escapes we have now created a new rebooking process to help members with this. If your booking is affected, we will be in contact to help you with this.
Package stays: Two groups of package stays are available on Secret Escapes. The first group is offered by trusted partner operators. If your trip is one of these, then the operator responsible for your trip will contact you to discuss your options. As with hotel-only stays, in these cases Secret Escapes operates as an intermediary and the contract is between the member and the operator. The operator often has the most up-to-date information in these cases.
The second group of packages on the site is offered by Secret Escapes itself. With these trips, the Secret Escape team will contact you. You will be offered a credit note to cover the complete value of your trip, for use on any upcoming offer on the site. Any part of the credit note that has not been used will then be refunded to you as cash on the expiry date.
Only bookings affected by COVID-19 (ie those falling on dates where government restrictions are in place) will be credited or rebooked.
How do I know who is responsible for my trip and for looking after me?
Secret Escapes does not own its own hotels, so it acts as an intermediary between its members and carefully selected travel partners. Secret Escapes only works with reputable operators and it quality checks them regularly, using member feedback.
Where you book a hotel-only stay, the contract is between the customer and the hotel and with some package tours, the contract is between the customer and the tour operator. In some instances Secret Escapes is the operator. You can find your travel provider on your booking confirmation.
In the event of your trip being disrupted you will be contacted by either Secret Escapes or the operator of your trip.
If you purchased your trip through Secret Escapes, we will do whatever we can to help you. However, the operator of your trip (be it Secret Escapes or a partner) will always have the most up to date information.
I no longer want to travel. Can I cancel my trip?
Currently, most travel is impossible, with no clear end date. Where there is change, the situation is likely to differ by country as restrictions are eased. If restrictions are eased before your trip dates, you should expect to travel as planned and our normal terms and conditions for any amendments or cancellations will apply. Should your government travel advice change to advise against travel Secret Escapes or your travel provider will contact you to discuss your options.
Why am I being asked to rebook my hotel-only stay?
In this unprecedented situation, Secret Escapes has created a rebooking system in partnership with its hotels, to help members protect their stays. If your stay is impacted, you will be offered the chance to postpone your stay and rebook at a later date. You will be emailed the rebook form and by filling it in, you can help us best look after you.
How can Secret Escapes offer a rebooking option when it is impossible to tell when current travel restrictions will be lifted?
Current uncertainty means many customers who would like to rebook are unsure exactly when they would like to postpone their trip until. In these cases, Secret Escapes has created a voucher scheme with hotels to ensure the value of your trip is recognised by the hotel at a later date of your choosing.
Some people are choosing to book specific dates later in the year. Should COVID-19 continue to impact these later dates, then the trip will be postponed further.
I have already independently agreed on a rebooking with the hotel. Should I also contact Secret Escapes?
If you have come to an arrangement with your hotel directly, we would really appreciate it if you could notify us of your new dates. This will avoid us trying to make a duplicate booking with the hotel on your behalf.
The hotel is telling me that Secret Escapes should be refunding me, not them. Who is responsible?
Secret Escapes is contractually unable to refund customers without the explicit permission of the hotel. In cases where hotels have allowed us to refund on their behalf, we may be able to do so.
Secret Escapes has promised me credit in my account but it still hasn't arrived. Why?
Credit notes are now being rolled out to package customers whose trips have been impacted by COVID-19 outbreak. There was a short initial delay in issuing these credits, whilst Secret Escapes sought confirmation from travel bodies that your money remains protected under the ATOL scheme We are now confident that this is the case. If you receive a credit note, please make sure you keep a copy of it and the email it comes in, as they are evidence of the on-going protection of your money.
What if my hotel shuts, so I have nowhere to stay?
If your hotel shuts in response to COVID-19, but is not located in an area where official advice is advising against travel, your hotel should be in touch to discuss options. If you are worried, please use the form on the Contact Us page
to inform us and we will try and assist you.
What if the country I'm planning to visit refuses entry to people from my country?
It is unclear how and when countries will release travel restrictions. Should a country change its rules or bar travellers from other countries in a way that affects your booking, Secret Escapes or your travel provider will contact you to discuss your options.
If you have booked a hotel only deal, we advise you to monitor impacted destinations closely up to your date of departure, via your government's foreign travel advice site.
I have booked a hotel, but not flights, with Secret Escapes in a country subject to restrictions from COVID-19. What are my options?
For all hotel-only bookings impacted by COVID-19, we are working with hotels to postpone stays and rebook members later in the year. If your trip is affected, we will contact you. If you have been contacted by your hotel and you have made a direct arrangement, please use the form on the Contact Us page to update us of your plans.
If you bought your flights separately, you will need to follow up directly with your flight provider or explore your options with your travel insurance, so you know your rights if you are prevented from travelling.
What happens if an airline cancels my flight?
If your flight has been bought as part of your Secret Escapes booking and is impacted by airline changes, we or your travel provider will be in contact with you to discuss options
If you did not book your flights with Secret Escapes, you should check the terms and conditions of the airline you're flying with and your travel insurance policy, so you know your rights if you are prevented from travelling.
I bought a Roomer insurance policy to protect my trip and have had an email cancelling my policy. What is happening?
Secret Escapes was very disappointed not to have been consulted before Roomer emailed members, apparently reneging on its agreement. We have made repeated attempts to get updates from Roomer but no new information has been forthcoming. We will continue to press but in the meantime, we are working with all Roomer-affected bookings to offer rebooking on alternative dates, to protect those trips. If you are a Roomer-affected member and you already have preferred rebooking dates in mind, please use the form on the Contact Us page to notify us when you would like to travel.
Why is Secret Escapes refunding package bookings in the form of a credit and not as a chargeback to my bank/credit card account?
Secret Escapes is acting in accordance with advice outlined by ABTA which recommends the refunding of package bookings into credit, with any remaining credit being converted to cash at the end of 12 months.
Can Secret Escapes help me get back from abroad if I can no longer leave my holiday destination?
At Secret Escapes, we (and our operator partners) do everything we can to help customers who encounter difficulties whilst abroad. If you do have problems during a trip, your in-country team will be focused on supporting you. Secret Escapes gained experience of this type of problem during the locking down process and the team were able to help many customers get home safely. Whilst local law dictates what happens in different countries and the FCO are best placed to offer support on the ground, we are committed to doing everything we can to help our customers.
What is a refundable deal?
Refundable deals can be identified on the Secret Escapes site by the 'Refundable' label and shield icon. These deals can be cancelled any time up to 8 days before booking date, for a full cash refund. These deals have been created in response to the uncertainty COVID19 has caused and they enable members to book with confidence. (You must actively cancel your booking to get a refund.)
How are you making travel safe for members?
Keeping members safe is our top priority, so all our hotel partners are committed to complying with public health policy, as directed by their local authorities. There may be differences in public health policy across regions and countries.
What impact will social distancing have on my trip?
As hotels begin to open up, some facilities may be closed or restricted to ensure customer safety. Where we know that this is the case, we reference it in the specifics of the offer. However, we expect this may change or flex over time and on a hotel-by-hotel basis, so we are advising all booked members to contact hotels before their trip to get clarity on what is and isn't accessible.
What is Secret Escapes?
So how does Secret Escapes actually work?
At Secret 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.
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 250 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, the availability of our lowest advertised rates may be limited.
By hand-picking hotels and holidays for members, Secret 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.
As a member of Secret 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. 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.
How do you calculate the price and the discounts?
All of our flash sales are sold at exclusive members-only rates. 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.
You should note that packages - offers that include travel - are priced per person, not per room.
What do I get?
What do I get when I join?
We offer our members luxury travel at low prices with discounts on hand-picked boutique hotels and luxury holidays.
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 Secret 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 Secret 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&Cs - just as you would if you had paid the full cost upfront.
How do I pay the balance?
The supplier will contact you when the balance is due - you will pay the balance directly with the supplier.
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 booking fee. If a booking fee applies, it will be included in the prices you see on our website, and be shown in the breakdown in your booking confirmation.
What is the booking fee?
A booking fee is an 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.
What do I get for my booking fee?
Regardless of what you pay, by charging a booking fee, 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.
Where can I get a VAT invoice?
Secret Escapes acts solely as an agent between the customer and the hotel or tour operator, and therefore cannot issue an invoice for a sale made by the hotel or tour operator.
Should you require an invoice displaying the VAT paid, this can only be obtained directly from the hotel, which, legally, is the entity that provided the service for you. Of course, through our selection of partners, we always try to ensure that customers receive an invoice at check-out. However, Secret Escapes is first and foremost a portal for leisure travellers, which is why individual hotels may not issue an invoice displaying the VAT for business travel. Unfortunately in this case, Secret Escapes cannot intervene because of its intermediary role.
Secret Escapes can only issue a separate invoice displaying the VAT from any applicable booking fees or card surcharge. To obtain this, simply contact our customer service team on email@example.com and provide your booking ID, which can be found in your booking confirmation email.
Invitations and credits
How do I share Secret Escapes with my friends?
We love it when people share - in fact, we’ve totally incentivised it. You receive credit when the friends you invite (using your very own referral link) join Secret Escapes. £5 when five of your friends join, £25 when 25 join and £50 when 50 of your friends have joined using your link. You also get £25 credit for each purchase your friends make with us.
What happens if more than one person recommends Secret Escapes to someone, who gets the £25 credit?
The person eligible for the £25 credit would be the one whose email the user clicked on.
Will there be a cash alternative to £25 credit for recommending a friend?
No. The £25 credit can only be used against purchases on Secret Escapes.
Our offers - the small print…
What is my relationship as a customer with Secret Escapes once I’ve booked?
Secret Escapes is a travel agent, hand-picking and showcasing unbeatable and exclusive deals for its members. Once a customer has made a booking on Secret Escapes, the customer has effectively entered a contract with the hotel or supplier with which the booking was made. Why? Well, Secret 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 (Secret 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.