UK holiday let prices skyrocket with staycation demand

UK: Research from “consumer champion” brand Which? shows that holiday let prices have increased by as much as 140 per cent in certain UK seaside destinations compared to the same time a year ago.

While so-called celebratory “vaxications” are on the rise among travellers itching to spend their saved-up money on travel, there is, on the other hand, a significant percentage of the UK population showing hesitancy to book holidays abroad when doubt remains over the timeframe of relaxing Covid-19 restrictions and the pace of the vaccine rollout.

At the time of writing, households in the UK will be able to book stays in self-catered accommodation from 12 April [ahead of hotels and B&Bs on 17 May], according to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s recent roadmap announcement out of lockdown. Foreign holidays, however, may only be permitted from 17 May at the very earliest.

That continuing sense of uncertainty is simultaneously driving up holiday let prices, as a study by consumer group Which? revealed that the prices of properties on Airbnb and Vrbo had increased in ten of the UK’s most in-demand staycation destinations compared to the same period last year.

Domestic holidaymakers now face paying on average 35 per cent more on a UK seaside break over July and August this year, compared to May and June 2020 when the first lockdown was beginning to be eased.

Which? also found that the biggest price increase in its study was for a one-bed maisonette in Brighton that was listed on Airbnb  in 2020 for £53 per night, but will now cost £127 this summer, marking a 140 per cent rise.

The highlights of the Which? study included these price increases from Summer 2020 to 2021:

  • Brighton: £53 per night – £127 per night [140 per cent rise]
  • Eastbourne: £409 for seven nights – £696 [70 per cent rise]
  • St Ives: £860 for seven nights – £1,263 [47 per cent rise]
  • Llandudno: £427 for seven nights – £596 [40 per cent rise]
  • Bournemouth: £722 for seven nights – £958 [33 per cent rise]
  • Swanage: £652 for seven nights – £840 [29 per cent rise]
  • Scarborough: £609 for seven nights – £693 [14 per cent rise]

Which? Travel editor Rory Boland 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,” he added.

Short-term rental property management platform Guesty recently released data indicating that Boris Johnson’s roadmap announcement had sparked an increase in UK short-term rental reservation volume by 88 per cent compared to the reservation volume one week prior.

The volume of bookings made between 22-28 February 2021 that were observed by Guesty was 160 per cent more than the average weekly reservation volume seen in the UK throughout all of the Covid-19 pandemic to that point. The majority of those reservations were made for the summer season.

In total, UK 2021 short-term rental summer reservation volume [June, July and August] was 36 per cent higher than UK 2020 summer reservation volume.