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Updated: 2 Jul 2021

Struggling to find a UK seaside summer holiday stay? Book for 29% less in October half term

Snapshot research by Which? suggests that coastal holiday cottage prices are significantly cheaper on average during the October half term

If you're finding a cottage holiday in your favourite UK seaside destination is either too expensive or booked up for summer, it might be worth booking now for autumn instead to make a significant saving.

Snapshot research by Which? has found that a seven-night break in October (during half term) is, on average, 29% cheaper than a seven-night stay in August. We looked at the prices of 20 self-catering properties on various accommodation websites in 20 popular seaside locations.

While it's perhaps no surprise that holidays later in the year are cheaper, it should ease concerns if you're unable to get a booking in a covetable location this summer. The weather may be cooler in October, but you can expect less crowds and often have the beach all to yourself. Swap sunbathing on the sand for walks along the shore to enjoy the coast in all weathers.

If you're set on a domestic UK break this summer, though, our research revealsthere is still availability in August if you look further afield than popular locations such as Cornwall. In one week in August across all of England, for two adults with Hoseasons, there were still 914 cottages available to book - and that's just on one website. You might just have to swap to a seaside break for an inland countryside one instead.

More choice of seaside cottages in October half term for less
woman and man holding credit card looking at lapto

If you book now for autumn, you'll have a greater choice of properties than if you're trying to squeeze in a last-minute summer break. This means you'll likely find a better property for less money.

For example, when we checked on Sykes' website in mid June, for a family of four looking to stay in Cornwall for one specific week in August, they have the choice of 19 properties. However, compared with October half-term week, families would have 525 properties to choose from.

On Holidaycottages.co.uk for a family of four to stay in Cornwall in one specific week in August, everything was sold out. While October half term offered 113 properties.

Across the UK there are plenty of properties left for October half term. But, Alistair Handyside, executive chair of The Professional Association of Self-Caterers (PASC) UK told us that many PASC members are already full for October half terms 'with canny guests thinking ahead'.

Additionally, English Country Cottages told us: 'This year, we've seen increasing demand for holidays in peak periods and October half term is proving to be more popular than ever. We believe UK holidays still remain excellent value, though.'

Savings on coastal holidays of up to 48%

In addition to choice, some savings were huge when we looked at seaside cottages on various websites in or near the top 30 best-rated seaside towns (by Which? readers).

One cottage for a family of four on Hoseasons in Conwy was £1,489 for one week from 20 August and just £769 from 22 October - that's a saving of 48%.

Similarly, on Holidaycottages.co.uk, a property for four not far from Sidmouth was £2,895 for a specific week in August, or £1,515 in October half term - also 48% cheaper.

These savings were recorded on 16 June. Prices fluctuate, but the research gives an overall view of what it costs currently to book an October break.

Who should I book a seaside cottage break with?

Choosing a provider that has flexible booking policies or will refund you in the event of a lockdown is crucial.

Which? Recommended Providers, Forest Holidays and the National Trust both offer a great experience and flexible booking policies. See our full reviews.

Forest Holidays' luxury lodges are all located in forests across the UK, so if you want a seaside break, you need to choose the location wisely. In the Beddgelert, Wales, Forest Holidays location, for example, you're just 12 miles from highly rated seaside town Criccieth. And in the Deerpark location near Liskeard, Cornwall, you're less than 10 miles from the popular seaside town of Looe.

With Airbnb and Independent Cottages, you can find some great deals, however refund policies are at the owners' discretion. When booking on Airbnb, make sure you select the free cancellation filter to ensure that you can get your money back in the instance of a lockdown - many properties will let you cancel up to just days before.

Using Independent Cottages, you book directly with the owner. Refund policies are less clear, so you may need to get written proof of what scenarios owners will and won't refund for.

Find the full results from our cottage company survey.