John Hays opened the first branch of Hays Travel at the back of his mum’s clothes shop in County Durham in 1980. Led by John and his wife Irene, it’s now the UK’s largest independent travel agent – grew its portfolio dramatically when it bought out all 555 of Thomas Cook stores when the travel company went into liquidation in 2019.
Historically, Hays Travel stores were only found in the north of England, but today shops sit on high streets all over the country, from St Austell in Cornwall to Canterbury in Kent, and up to Moray in Scotland. Offering fly and flop holidays, city breaks and far-flung tours, the company prides itself on customer service and value. To book a trip, you have to call or pop into store, you can’t book online.
Hays Travel delivers on its good value for money promise and finds itself among the best near the top of the table in our survey of package holiday companies. It’s a Which? Recommended Provider.
With the many ways your holiday can be disrupted or cancelled, from traffic lights changing to a future lockdown, it’s crucial you book with a provider that has an excellent flexible booking policy. Which? analysis found that Hays Travel has one of the best.
You’ll get voucher credit or the opportunity to rebook fee-free if your destination downgrades to the amber list, and a full refund in the case of a lockdown or your destination moving to the red list.
Avg price per day: short haul/long haul
Description matching reality
Organisation of holiday
Value for money
When booking with an independent travel agent, you’d expect the customer service to be second-to-none and that’s certainly the case with Hays Travel, which was rated five out of five stars in this category in our survey of package holiday companies, and is now a Which? Recommended Provider. Staff received particular praise, with the words ‘helpful’ and ‘friendly’ appearing time and time again in comments from satisfied customers.
It’s not just the professional team who were a big hit with customers. Holidaymakers felt the accommodation that Hays Travel helped select was worthy of four stars out of five and holidays more often than not matched their descriptions – again being rated four stars.
Likewise, value for money was rated four out of five stars by customers – no great surprise since when compared to the other companies appearing in the top five of our results table, Hays Travel offers the cheapest short-haul holidays, averaging £85 a day.
Yes. This friendly, family-run travel agent knows how to look after its customers. Book a beach break with Hays Travel and you’ll no doubt bag a bargain. The odds suggest you’ll have a brilliant getaway too.