Booking a budget-friendly stay in the UK can be a fine art, and falling into certain traps can leave you splashing out more than if you’d jetted overseas.
What’s more, competition for 2022 breaks in the UK could soon start to ramp up. International travel is yet to fully recover, and many holidaymakers prefer the security in booking closer to home.
If you follow our advice, you should be able to find yourself a value-for-money break.
1) Seeking a bargain seaside stay? Stay flexible with locations
While the likes of St Ives and Padstow are classic choices for UK holidaymakers heading to the coast in the summertime, these two Cornish hotspots scored just two out of five for value for money in our seaside town survey.Opting for more geographical flexibility could help if you’re hoping to get more bang for your buck.
Bamburgh, Filey and Dungeness all received full marks in the value for money category, so try these locations if you’re looking for something special on a budget.
These spots also stood out for their stunning scenery, with added peace and quiet credentials. Not only will they impress visually, you’re less likely to find such large throngs of people visiting, unlike in more well-known destinations such as Whitby or Whitstable.
If, however, you are not worried about battling crowds – or you’re heading to the seaside out of peak season – Whitby is a great option for making overall savings. It’s one of the cheaper towns at the top end of our survey, with an average nightly hotel rate of £79, and four out of five stars for value for money.
2) Think outside the box when choosing city break destinations
Looking for a top-rated UK city break that offers great value? Instead of common go-tos like London and Edinburgh, which can break the bank at peak times, opt for something more imaginative.
Liverpool, Glasgow, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Chester, Cardiff and Wells all scored a full five stars in the value-for-money category in our city survey, meaning Which? Readers think your money’s well spent in these locations.
The best-rated large city of the six was Liverpool. If you’re hunting down a lively location with a bounty of art galleries and bars, shopping spots and good food, this is a great option for a weekend away. While its average nightly hotel rate is at the higher end of the scale (£104), readers thought this city in the North West of England was worth every penny.
Still too pricey? Opt for Glasgow instead. It was rated highly for accommodation, food and drink, and cultural attractions by readers and its average hotel nightly rate is £89.
Chester and Wells are also ideal if you’re looking for smaller-scale cities. Chester is well-rated for shopping , while Wells scored five out of five for its cultural sights and attractions. It’s hardly surprising given that it’s one of the smallest cities in the UK and still manages to house a gothic cathedral, in-tact medieval street and Bishop’s Palace – home to the Bishops of Bath and Wells.
3) Cosy countryside holiday? Pick your cottage location wisely
In a recent survey we found the difference between the least and most expensive parts of the UK adds up to £500 for a week-long stay. So, pick your cottage holiday location wisely if you want to make savings.
We found that the cheapest areas to choose were Scotland and Wales. On average they worked out at £37 per person per night (pppn).
And the most expensive? Unsurprisingly, it’s the South East of England followed by the South West.
Not all popular beauty spots are rip-offs though. Heart set on the Lake District? Don’t fret – despite the allure of its rippling lakes, atmospheric dense woodlands and array of vertiginous fells to scale, cottages in the north west of England are only slightly pricier at £39pppn.
Devon – despite its notoriety as a summer break spot – also needn’t be avoided altogether. To find a good deal, stay open-minded when it comes to the specific town or village you choose to settle in. When we looked at accommodation costs on the South Coast of Devon for example, we found savings of £59 per night by choosing Dartmouth over Salcombe and they’re just 20 miles apart.
And the good news is, Dartmouth was rated far better overall in our seaside town survey results. Similarly we found prices in Eastbourne for just £66 compared to Brighton’s £122 per night, with Eastbourne ranked better by Which? readers.
4) Think before booking the cheapest accommodation you spot
If you’re on a budget you may be tempted to opt for the company advertising the cheapest cottage stay – and there are plenty offering bargains at less than £40pppn. However, we found that cheap isn’t always cheerful when it comes to holiday rentals.
Cottages.com for example offers accommodation for just £38pppn on average. But it’s slightly concerning that our readers only awarded it three out of five for the quality of its rentals as well as value for money in our annual survey. It might therefore pay dividends to allocate a little more of your budget on the cottage itself to avoid disappointment.
Which? Recommended Provider (WRP) National Trust’s fees might leave your wallet feeling lighter, but the money you pay to this charity goes back into preserving historically, culturally or architecturally important buildings. Plus, almost nine in 10 National Trust customers were satisfied with the outcome of their cancelled booking during the pandemic – more than any other provider in our survey.
Additionally, WRP Rural Retreats – demanding the steepest fees – specialises in luxurious lodgings, so the extra pounds spent will ensure your accommodation is more upmarket, if that’s important to you.
Even if a higher end property isn’t a must, make sure you don’t end up settling for a substandard cottage by picking a provider you can trust. WRPs are a great place to start because not only do readers rate them highly, they have flexible refund policies – in case Coronavirus causes disruption to your trip. See our cottage company reviews.