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14 Feb 2021

Holiday cottage rentals in Cornwall, St Ives and the rest of the UK - are they really selling out?

Which? research finds lots of properties on Hoseasons and Cottages.com still available, but it depends when you want to travel

Which? recently dispelled rumours that UK holidays were running out and three weeks later, we can confirm there are still plenty of properties left if you're flexible about where or when you travel. That's despite further headlines of a UK holiday booking boom.

In our research, we checked the availability of cottages across a range of dates from some of the UK's biggest holiday cottage and private rental companies. We found there are still thousands of properties across the UK to book for parties of two and four in both the May half term and the school summer holidays. If you are flexible on your destination, you will still find plenty of accommodation available.

However, availability is reducing in popular holiday hot spots. We found 50% fewer cottages were available on some property types in Cornwall.

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Availability of holiday cottage rentals in Cornwall

St Mawes, Cornwall

When we checked Cottages.com, we found property availability for two adults for 24-31 July (the first week of the school summer holidays for many) had decreased by 50% since we last checked in January. There are now 209 cottages left to book and the cheapest property available is £559.

For two adults and two children looking to take a holiday between 29 May - 5 June (May half term for many), there are just 129 properties left to book - a 36% decrease in availability.

Data from AirDNA, a company that tracks Airbnb and Vrbo vacation rentals, shows night availability has reduced 15% across both rental websites combined for May half term for St Ives, leaving 50% of available nights left to book.

Availability of holiday cottage rentals elsewhere in the UK

Popular holiday hotspots in the UK sell out every year. Outside of Cornwall, Which? found availability in the UK has reduced only slightly since we checked three weeks ago. Our research found a 9-12% decrease in properties on Hoseasons in the UK for 29 May - 5 June (depending on whether you're looking for two adults or a family of four). However, there are still thousands of cottages left.

Cottages.com's accommodation availability in England decreased slightly more for the same week by 17 - 22%, but there are still plenty of cottages available.

Both companies also have more than 2,000 unbooked properties in England for the first week of the school holidays for two adults, with the cheapest in price ranging from £395 to £435.

According to AirDNA data, available nights for week commencing 31 May in Suffolk, Brighton and Hove, and Conwy on Airbnb and Vrbo, had reduced between 4% and 9%. This data is not a definitive assessment of Airbnb and Vrbo bookings but gives a clear picture that holidays aren't rapidly being booked in every location.

A survey by yougov found that just 9% of people had booked a UK holiday.

Should I book a UK summer holiday cottage?

If you're thinking of booking, it's best to wait until we have a clearer picture on restrictions or you may be left fighting for your money back.

If you do want to book, you should choose a cottage holiday company with clear and flexible refund policies that did right by their customers in the first lockdown. Find cottage companies with the most flexible booking policies.

Importantly, don't use either Hoseasons or Cottages.com. There are far better providers.

Find the full cottage holiday provider reviews and survey results