After the onslaught of chaos and cancellations witnessed at UK airports and ferry ports in recent months, it’s no surprise that many people will have opted for a staycation this year instead of travelling abroad.
As the cost of living crisis continues to impact household budgets up and down the country, Which? has rounded up top tips for how to slash hundreds of pounds from the cost of going on holiday in the UK.
- Choose a more affordable destination
Choosing the right destination can have a big impact on holiday budgets and accommodation prices, but Which? found top-rated destinations with hotels at reasonable prices. Six of the top-rated seaside towns and villages from Which?’s recent survey had an average hotel rate of £100 or less, and scored a rating of at least 70 per cent. Llandudno, Conwy; Filey, North Yorkshire; Lynmouth, Devon; Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumberland and Tynemouth, Tyne and Wear, were ranked in the top five.
In general, Which? found that holidays in the north of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland all tend to be cheaper, per person, per night, than the rest of England. For example, a week-long mid-sized cottage break in Yorkshire in August is on average more than £500 cheaper than a similar stay in Cornwall, according to recent research from Which? Travel.
- Find a cheap stay three miles down the road
Holidaymakers can save more than £400 on a one-week UK holiday by swapping a well-known location for a similar destination, just a few miles away. Which? compared average hotel room rates at 10 popular towns, cities and seaside resorts with accommodation costs at similar but less well-known destinations nearby. The result? Holidaymakers could save between £24 and £59 per room, per night. Which? compared the likes of Dartmouth with Salcombe, and Tenby with Saundersfoot.
- Shop around for the best value hotel room rate
If booking hotel accommodation, Which? suggests shopping around for the best prices. It is worth browsing online comparison sites for longer stays in hotels, as the cumulative savings can be substantial. In 2021, Which? investigated the best and worst comparison sites and found that consumers could make substantial savings on lengthier bookings by using certain sites. Trivago found the best prices most consistently, but Kayak, Skyscanner, TravelSupermarket and TripAdvisor also performed well.
- Try booking directly with the hotel
Using comparison sites to check prices and locations is a good place to start, but don’t be afraid to contact the hotel or B&B directly. Which? found that holidaymakers can often get even better rates or perks – like free breakfasts or champagne on arrival – by booking directly.
- Sign up to loyalty schemes
While it won’t provide instant savings, it could be worth signing up to free loyalty schemes with hotel chains and booking websites to save money when booking trips away. Some supermarket reward schemes such as Tesco Clubcard and Nectar often have partnerships with attractions and accommodation, so it’s worth looking into saving up some points and letting your weekly shop do something for you. In fact, Tesco Clubcard points are worth triple the value when used with a Tesco Rewards Partner, such as Best Western, Hotels.com and Warner Leisure Hotels – meaning 50p converts to £1.50.
- Avoid events when booking accommodation
When booking a place to stay, it is worth checking if any big sporting events, festivals, or gigs are taking place in the area when you’re planning to visit, as higher demand could push up the price. Unless you’re planning to attend a specific event, holidaymakers could save by choosing a different week. For example, Which? found bedrooms in Cheltenham during the Gold Cup horse race meeting can cost almost six times more than the week after the event. Similarly, a B&B in Milton Keynes could be more than 60 per cent cheaper if you arrived the week after the nearby Silverstone Grand Prix. If your dates are flexible, look to see if a hotel’s website lists a monthly view of prices.
- Book your car hire through a broker
If hiring a car to travel in the UK, Which? research found that, on average, customers get a better price booking with a broker than going direct. The best brokers also throw in extras for free. Zest Car Rental, recognised by Which? for its pricing transparency and customer service, offers excess reimbursement insurance and, often, a second driver free of charge. Which? looked at the price of a week’s car hire in Glasgow and found it was possible to save £65 by booking with a broker, Zest quoted £203 with Dollar, which included an additional driver. Booking with Dollar directly cost £268.
- Share a cottage with another household
Holidaymakers could save on holiday cottages, by planning to stay with friends or family and splitting the cost. Accommodation with room for four or more people often works out cheaper per adult than a similar option for two. We looked on Airbnb’s website and found a one-bedroom apartment in St Florence, near Tenby, costing £573 for a week in September. A cottage sleeping six in the village (plus room for two children), with the same rating, cost £584. That works out at £292 per household, saving £281.
- Check for last-minute holiday cottages
Which? Travel recently found that prices for holiday cottages in England have come down in 2022, as more people travel abroad. On average, holiday cottages for a week’s getaway in August were 11 per cent cheaper if booked in late July rather than three months earlier. Which? has been tracking the prices and availability of one, two and three-bed holiday cottages in England listed on the three biggest providers – for a one-week peak-season stay, since April.
- Visiting a holiday park? Choose one that offers good value for money
Which? recently did a survey of the UK’s best holiday parks and found that you needn’t go for the most expensive options to have a great experience. Resorts such as Center Parcs and Pontins faced criticism over their value for money, and were beaten to the top by family-run resorts that cost less and scored highly in most categories, such as John Fowler Holiday Parks, Potters Resorts and Waterside Holiday Group.
Guy Hobbs, Editor of Which? Travel, said:
“After the ferry port and airport chaos of recent weeks – and the hot weather – it’s no surprise that many of us are looking for a holiday in the UK this summer. Although the cost of living is adding pressure to household budgets, there’s no need to pay over the odds for your staycation.
“Which? research has revealed fantastic bucket and spade resorts on the UK coast where a hotel room costs less than £100 a night on average. Reduced demand means you can also get a bargain on last-minute holiday cottages this summer. And we’ve also found great savings if you book directly with hotels, while the opposite is true for car hire – a trusted broker will help you save.”
Notes to editors:
- Over the coming months, Which? will be highlighting free and useful money-saving advice every Monday to help consumers manage the ongoing cost of living crisis. The series will cover a range of topics, from how to save money on household bills, to childcare and travel.
- Which? looked at the quality of nearly 100 seaside towns and villages in the UK and found the six best-rated seaside towns for beach-lovers on a budget. All of the seaside towns and villages included in the round-up had an average hotel rate of £100 or less and received a customer satisfaction score of at least 70 per cent.
Rights of reply
Center Parcs declined to comment on Which?’s holiday parks survey and Pontins did not respond to a request for comment.
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