The coast is dear: some UK seaside accommodation prices up by a third

Holidaymakers face paying more for a UK seaside break this summer as a snapshot investigation suggests some accommodation prices have risen by an average of 35 per cent compared with last summer, according to new research from Which?.

With demand for UK holidays expected to soar this summer, Which? tracked the prices of 15 holiday lets in the top 10 most visited UK seaside destinations, and found that in every case, prices have increased from last summer.

The consumer champion’s snapshot investigation looked at prices for 15 properties listed between Airbnb and Vrbo in the past year, in destinations such as St Ives, Whitby, Llandudno and Brighton.

Which? first looked at the prices of these listings in May and June 2020, for various dates in July and August 2020. The research then looked at the prices of the same properties in February 2021 for similar dates in July and August 2021, and found all had increased in price, with an average increase of 35 per cent.

The largest markup of the properties Which? looked at was for a one-bedroom maisonette in Brighton on Airbnb. When the consumer champion checked the price of the listing in May 2020 for the first week of August 2020, the cost was £53 per night. But when it checked again in February 2021 for the same period the property was £127 per night – an increase of 140 per cent.

It also found a 70 per cent increase in price for a one-bedroom property in the centre of Eastbourne on Airbnb. Last year, for a one-week holiday in the first week of August, it would have cost £409. This year, the same week costs £696.

On Vrbo, a one-bedroom property in Bournemouth rose from £722 for the first week of August last year to £958 this year – an increase of 33 per cent.

Other price rises were more modest. A one-bedroom cottage on Airbnb in Scarborough increased by seven per cent for similar August dates this year, while a one-bedroom property on Vrbo in Swanage with views over the Purbeck Hills had gone up by just two per cent.

Hosts on Airbnb set the prices and cleaning fees for properties listed on the platform. Airbnb said the price increases highlighted by Which? were “isolated examples”, while Vrbo also said hosts are in control and individually set the rental price for their properties.

According to the government’s current plans for releasing England from lockdown, self-contained holiday accommodation breaks are set to return from 12 April.

Demand for UK holidays is likely to be even higher this summer than last year, as there is currently less risk involved in taking a UK holiday than a holiday abroad while coronavirus restrictions, such as testing and hotel quarantine for UK arrivals, remain in place.

There is still some risk involved in booking holidays in the UK for this summer, such as being told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace or local restrictions preventing you from travelling. However most of these risks can be overcome by booking with a reputable company that has a generous flexible booking policy.

Which? is encouraging anyone booking a UK holiday to ensure they choose a flexible accommodation provider that has committed to offering full cash refunds or fee-free rebooking if your holiday is unable to go ahead as planned due to coronavirus.


Rory Boland, Editor of Which? Travel, said: 

“Many holidaymakers are looking forward to finally going to the seaside this summer, so it’s perhaps not a surprise that high demand has seen prices for some destinations shoot up too.

“If people are prepared to pay more for their summer holidays this year, it’s essential that they know their money will be protected or returned to them without hassle in the event they cannot travel as planned. Make sure you choose a provider that offers fair and flexible booking terms, so you won’t be left chasing a refund if something goes wrong.”


Full table of price increases:

Right of replies:

Vrbo told Which?: “We are operating as a two-sided marketplace, connecting holidaymakers and holiday-home hosts, without being part of any contractual agreements between those parties at any time. That means that all rental contracts are closed between the holidaymaker and the holiday-home host, or the property manager directly.

“The hosts are also in control and individually set the rental price for their properties, the payment terms and all cancellation policies. Those policies are stated on the booking page for each property and must be acknowledged, and agreed to, by all holidaymakers before a booking on Vrbo is possible.

“Vrbo’s service fee is a percentage of the total amount of the reservation, excluding taxes and refundable fees paid by the guest. The service fee amount varies. Generally, the higher the reservation amount, the lower the percentage of the service fee. A value-added tax is charged on the service fee where required by local regulations.

“Vrbo does not set, change or influence the property prices a host chooses. However, Vrbo provides useful tips and information for hosts on how to be successful with their listing on Vrbo. For instance, Vrbo’s MarketMaker™ gives hosts access to real-time data about competitors, holidaymakers, local events and holidays. This allows them to adjust their prices, if needed, to remain competitive and attractive for holidaymakers.”


Airbnb told Which?: “This misleading research features isolated examples that are not representative of prices on Airbnb. A survey shows that more than half of UK guests choose Airbnb because it is more affordable than a hotel or other options. With the Great British staycation back on the horizon, hosts are ready to provide clean and private accommodation to help families and loved ones safely reconnect, and around half say they rely on the additional income from hosting.” 


Notes to editors: 

  1. When can I go on holiday in the UK? Is it safe to book?
  2. UK holiday cottage companies with the best flexible booking policies 
  3. Holiday cottage rentals in Cornwall, St Ives and the rest of the UK – are they really selling out?
  4. Best seaside towns in the UK

Press Release