Families face paying hundreds more for breaks in the UK than abroad

The soaring cost of staycations: Families face paying hundreds more for breaks in the UK than abroad as price soars by up to 89% during pandemic

  • Average costs for private holiday accommodation in UK are up by 41% on average since 2019, says Which? 
  • Trips in Britain cost much more than travelling to Italy, Spain, France – even when the airfare is factored in
  • Chaos around constantly changing rules on foreign travel mean millions of people are holidaying at home

Holiday firms are turning the screw on struggling families with sky high charges that make British breaks hundreds of pounds more expensive than foreign trips.

The average costs for private holiday accommodation in the UK have increased by 41 per cent on average since 2019, according to research by Which?

Typically, trips to British destinations currently cost much more than travelling to popular European resort destinations – such as Italy, Spain, France – even when the airfare is factored in.

In August 2019, booking private accommodation in Brighton would have typically cost an average of £109 per night, but in August this year that cost has increased by 89 per cent to £206 per night. 

Experts at Which? said it is ‘hard to avoid the conclusion that some unscrupulous accommodation providers are charging over the odds’.

The chaos around the constantly changing rules on foreign travel, coupled with a failing and expensive coronavirus testing regime for travellers, means millions of people are holidaying at home.

In August 2019, booking private accommodation in Brighton would have typically cost an average of £109 per night, but in August this year that cost has increased by 89 per cent to £206 per night. Prices have increased by 42 per cent in St Ives

According to data from Kayak, the average nightly rate of three-star and four-star hotels in the UK in 2019 was £109 – 21 per cent more than Spain, 35 per cent more than Portugal and 79 per cent more than Malta

This has created a captive and lucrative market for hotels and others offering apartments and holiday cottages.

Research by Which? looking at the cost of seven nights this August in a highly rated hotel in Lake Garda, Italy, found it was nearly a quarter of the price of a comparable holiday in the Lake District.

Seven nights accommodation in Lake Garda cost £631, while the seven nights accommodation for two people in Lake Windermere would cost £2,381.

The consumer champion said the Lake District remained around £1,600 more expensive after factoring in travel costs. 

This is based on paying £43 in petrol for a return trip assuming an average mileage of 310 miles versus £171 for two return flights to Italy. 


Research by Which? looking at the cost of seven nights this August in a highly rated hotel in Lake Garda, Italy, found it was nearly a quarter of the price of a comparable holiday in the Lake District. Seven nights accommodation in Lake Garda (left) cost £631, while the seven nights accommodation for two people in Lake Windermere (right) would cost £2,381

Which? found that seven nights accommodation in a highly rated hotel in Nice would cost £679, while the same seven nights in Brighton would cost £1,088.

Despite return flights to Nice costing £406, the total cost of the Brighton holiday for two adults was still higher than the Nice holiday, at £1,131 compared to £1,085.

The only holiday that worked out marginally cheaper was a seven night beach break in Tenby, Wales, compared to Estepona, on the Costa del Sol in Spain. Which? put the total cost at £923 for Wales, which was just £10 less than the Spanish option.

The consumer champion found that even before the impact of Covid on travel plans, the UK was among the most expensive holiday destinations in Europe.

According to data from Kayak, the average nightly rate of three-star and four-star hotels in the UK in 2019 was £109 – 21 per cent more than Spain, 35 per cent more than Portugal and 79 per cent more than Malta.

Data from AirDNA shows that across the whole of the UK self-catered accommodation in August 2021 costs 41 per cent more on average than it did in 2019. This works out at roughly the equivalent of an extra £300 per week.

In August 2019, a private accommodation booking in Brighton would have cost an average of £109 each night, but this has gone up by 89 per cent to £206 per night in August this year. 

Prices have increased by 42 per cent in St Ives, 63 per cent in Sidmouth, and 74 per cent in Lyme Regis.

Which?’s advice for anyone looking to book a UK holiday is to be flexible with dates and destinations. It said savings can also be made by going directly to a hotel or accommodation owner rather than using booking websites.

The analysis by Which? was carried out in conjunction with the BBC’s Panorama, with a programme about the issue due to be shown on BBC One at 7.30pm tonight. 

Airbnb, which has been approached for comment, has previously claimed accommodation cost figures from third-party organisations can be misleading. 

The editor of Which? Travel, Rory Boland, said: ‘Holidaying at home has always been expensive, but the situation has become far worse during the pandemic and it’s no wonder many people have felt priced out of a holiday this year.

‘The reasons for these higher prices are complex, but it is hard to avoid the conclusion that some unscrupulous accommodation providers are charging over the odds.’

BBC Panorama: The Great British Staycation? is on BBC One at 7.30pm tonight

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