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30 Jun 2021

Where can I go on holiday in the UK and who with? Is it safe to book?

holiday cottage UK

England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are all permitting domestic holidays this summer. However, Scotland has banned travel to and from specific areas of England.

While holiday accommodation in the UK is open you'll need to check the rules before taking a trip as there are still restrictions in place on how many people can meet indoors and therefore holiday together.

Rules on the numbers of people who can meet and where they can travel to and from could be changed at any time - as demonstrated most recently in Scotland. Scotland although has lifted its ban on travel to Manchester, Salford and Bolton, is still restricting holidaymakers from Blackburn and Darwen.

If you do choose to book a trip, it's important you do so with a holiday cottage or accommodation provider that will refund you and that has a good flexible booking policy. Then if rules do change, you should have more financial protections.

Read on for everything you should consider before booking a holiday in the UK this summer.

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Can I go on holiday in Wales?

All holiday accommodation in Wales is open. However, there are still restrictions on how many people can meet inside.

If you are from Wales, bear in mind when choosing accommodation you can only share this with members of your extended household - this is now up to three households. Each household must only be part of one 'bubble' and you should avoid swapping bubbles unless necessary.

Can I go on holiday in England?
St Mawes, Cornwall

Holiday accommodation in England is now open. You can stay with a group of up to six from any number of households, or any number of people provided they are from just two households.

People from all over the UK are permitted to holiday in England, apart from a few exceptions. Scotland does not permit travel to or from Blackburn and Darwen. If you are from Scotland, do not book a holiday in these areas.

In England, residents living in areas where the Delta variant is spreading most quickly are discouraged from meeting inside and therefore holidaying together. These areas can be found on the government website.

Can I go on holiday in Scotland?

Holiday accommodation in Scotland is now open.

Scotland does not allow holidaymakers travelling from Blackburn or Darwen - except for permitted reasons. This restriction is not permanent and is due to higher Covid rates in those areas.

Different areas of Scotland are rated as levels from 0-4 depending on prevalence of Covid.

Accommodation is not permitted to open in Level 4 areas - but none of Scotland is currently classified as Level 4. Additionally, travel between a Level 3 or Level 4 area in Scotland and anywhere else in the world is not allowed except for a permitted reason.

Everywhere in Scotland is currently rated 0-2 and you can travel freely between these areas.

In a Level 0 area, eight people from 4 households can share holiday accommodation.

In a Level 1 or 2 area, a maximum of 6 people from up to 3 households can share accommodation.

Can I go on holiday in Northern Ireland?

Holiday accommodation in Northern Ireland is open. You can stay in accommodation with up to six people from no more than two households. If a household has six or more members though, the number can be greater than six, but a maximum of 10. Children aged 12 and under aren't counted in the total.

If travelling from the Common Travel Area to visit Northern Ireland, you are advised to take a lateral flow test before you travel and only visit if this is negative. You are also advised to take this on day two and eight of your stay.

Should I book a holiday in the UK?

woman on laptop making card payment

If you're planning a holiday, remember that if any UK country has a spike in coronavirus cases, travel could be reduced again, so be sure to book with a flexible self-catering holiday company.

For example, National Trust will refund if there is a national or local lockdown. And on Airbnb, you can filter accommodation to find the most flexible policies (be careful because not all policies are good - owners set these themselves). A good policy on Airbnb will allow you to cancel closer to the holiday date if lockdowns occur.

Back in March, Which? investigated the refund policies and customer experiences from all major holiday cottage providers to help you choose. But policies can change, so be sure to check all terms and conditions before parting with your cash.

The possibility of local restrictions

Remember that rules can change overnight. The government said it didn't intend for tiered restrictions to return in England, but that doesn't mean local restrictions can't differ. For example, the government has told people living in a few specific areas in England to minimise travel where possible and avoid meeting inside. See the areas affected here.

In Scotland, levels still exist. Keep an eye on the level rating in your area.

If the area where your holiday cottage is located is placed under level 4 restrictions in Scotland (which prevent it from opening), then you should be given a full refund. However, it's a grey area if you're living somewhere that is placed under these rules and can't travel at the time of your booking, but your accommodation is somewhere that can open.

To guarantee a refund, choose a cottage holiday company with flexible booking policies.

Contracting Covid-19 or being told to isolate
covid testing

You need to consider the possibility you could catch Covid-19 or be asked to isolate by the NHS Test and Trace app at the time of your holiday. Many cottage holiday providers will not refund you in these instances. Instead, you'll need insurance.

Some reputable cottage providers do offer amendments or refunds if Covid-19 restrictions mean you aren't able to travel. However, others have trickier terms and conditions and may let you amend your booking but only to bring the date forward. Others will try to accommodate requests to move your date but say there's no guarantee. Find out which cottage holiday providers readers rated in our survey.

Be clear before booking if you're covered. If you need insurance, make sure your policy will cover you in this instance.

Limits on guests in holiday cottages

From 21 June, all restrictions were due to be dropped in England. However, this date has been pushed back to 19 July, but could change.

If restrictions are dropped in July, you will be able to once again holiday with multiple people.

Northern Ireland hopes that from 5 July, up to 10 people from two households can holiday together (or up to 15 people from two households if your household has 10 members already). This proposed date will be reviewed on 1 July.

Every area of Scotland was due to move to Level 0 on 28 June, but First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has pushed this back by three weeks. Level 0 would mean eight people from four households could share holiday accommodation.

Wales pushed back its recent plan to ease restrictions further and this will be reviewed on 15 July. If this goes ahead, six people from any household can meet inside and therefore take a holiday together. They do not need to be from an extended household - the current rule in Wales.

Remember all indicative dates could be changed.