Best and worst package holiday providers
With hundreds of travel companies to choose from, which ones offer the most help with your holiday planning and are the best to book with? Here, we reveal satisfaction ratings for the general travel companies that are used most by Which? members.
These reviews cover package holiday providers – that's companies that offer traditional beach, resort or poolside packages combining flights and accommodation. To read our full reviews, click on the links in the table or scroll down.
Check our table of if you want a holiday with a planned itinerary and accompanied by a dedicated guide. If you are looking for more freedom to roam, see our best . For more specialist holidays, find out how companies ranked for , and .
To be named a Which? Recommended Provider (WRP), companies must be highly rated in our survey. This year, we have taken extra steps to assess their treatment of customers throughout the coronavirus pandemic. We have also spoken to customers who were left out of pocket and scrutinised their refund policies for cancelled holidays.
Other package holiday providers
Co-op Travel – 78%
Being part of The Co-operative Group, claims to exist to create value for its customers. And indeed, it was the cheapest provider of long-haul holidays in our survey. While overall the company performed reasonably well, several comments were made about unideal lodgings. These ranged from ‘unsanitary’ to not being ‘quite as described’. In contrast, other happy holidaymakers found their hotels suitable and exactly what they’d paid for.
Which? verdict: Co-op Travel performed well in our survey of package and general travel companies, receiving high praise for its helpful customer service and great-value long-haul holidays. However, take note, there are mixed opinions about accommodation.
Mercury Holidays – 78%
offers a full spectrum of holiday options, from multi-centre escorted tours to beach resort packages in well-known European destinations. In our survey of package holiday companies, customers told us they had booked beach or poolside resort breaks with the company. The results highlight that Mercury Holidays is a solid performer across the board and overall a reliable package holiday provider.
Customers were particularly impressed with the bargains that could be found, and rated Mercury Holidays four stars out of five for value for money. The same rating was given for customer service and the organisation of the holiday. However, the quality of the accommodation provided was a bit hit and miss. Some customers praised ‘excellent’ hotels with ‘first-class’ food and service; others were disappointed with ‘dirty’ pool areas and ‘poor’ buffets.
Which? verdict: Although Mercury Holidays is a good all-rounder and offers value-for-money getaways, , which is also known for its good-value fly-and-flop breaks ranked much better and is a Which? Recommended Provider.
Love Holidays – 77%
Despite praise from customers such as ‘good all-round service,’ when the going gets tough, the company’s customer service appears to diminish. When the coronavirus crisis struck, affirmed that refunds aren’t its strong point. After cancelling thousands of holidays, the company refused to even discuss cash refunds with customers, instead offering credit notes, in some instances worth half the value of the trip.
Which? verdict: It’s a good idea to look elsewhere. You may find a value-for-money break, but when things go wrong this holiday company is not be trusted.
On the Beach – 75%
Online travel agent is a fly-and-flop holiday specialist that offers impressively good-value holidays. At just £64 a day on average for a short-haul holiday, no other company rivalled it on price. However, customers only gave it middle-of-the-road ratings in our survey of package holiday companies, so it sits in the lower half of our results table. It clinched just three stars for description matching reality, with one customer complaining their resort was ‘far more remote than described’. Other gripes included delays with transfers.
After coronavirus hit, On the Beach provided partial refunds speedily for cancelled package holidays – mainly because it ring-fences accommodation money in a separate account. However, many customers are still waiting for their flight money to be refunded.
Which? verdict: Bargains can be found, so it could be worth booking with On the Beach if you’re after a cheap and cheerful beach getaway. Just don’t expect anything fancy.
Travel Republic – 75%
When you take a look at what online agent has to offer, you’ll find plenty of cheap and cheerful deals. Out of the 22 companies that appear in our results table of package holiday providers, Travel Republic offers the second-cheapest short-haul breaks – on average, £66 a day.
The company generally delivers too, with customers rating its value-for-money holidays with four stars out of five. Travel Republic was also rated four stars for the quality of its accommodation, its customer service, the organisation of the holiday and for its online description matching the reality. One satisfied customer commented: ‘Good company, easy booking’.
However, despite all this praise, Travel Republic is far from top of the results table – plenty of other companies outperformed it. And when things go wrong, the company doesn’t impress. During the coronavirus crisis, customers felt it was slow to issue refunds and difficult to get in contact with. Travel Republic’s policies and service let it down.
Which? verdict: For peace of mind, especially with the ongoing pandemic, we’d look elsewhere. Travel Republic will deliver a decent holiday at a great price, but this comes with a risk.
Secret Escapes – 72%
From its alluring descriptions and promise of hand-picked hotels to its dreamy-looking photos of idyllic holidays, everything about this travel company seems appealing. However, judging by the results of our package holiday companies survey, customers aren’t all that impressed with the reality.
performed averagely for its beach/resort breaks, but the company found itself ranked near the bottom of the results table – it couldn’t match up to competitors. As one customer commented: ‘It was OK, but not great and not as luxurious as they’d described’. Another said there were renovations going on in their hotel which they hadn’t been made aware of.
When it came to dealing with refunds during the coronavirus crisis, the travel company fell short. People had to wait for refunds from partners who were stalling and many were automatically issued a credit note instead of a refund, which you could swap back to cash in 2021.
Which? verdict: Secret Escapes looks good on paper, but in reality both Hays Travel and Jet2Holidays offer a better service for beach/resort holidays and you know they’ll refund in a crisis.
Balkan Holidays – 71%
offers holidays – both summer breaks and winter escapes – to Bulgaria, Croatia, Slovenia, Montenegro and Romania. Given that it’s a specialist tour operator for south-eastern Europe, you’d assume the company would have nailed down this area of travel. However, it seems that’s not the case. Balkan Holidays received a decent enough customer score, but it was way behind others and so sits fourth from bottom in our results table. Its one saving grace was the price customers could expect to pay for a holiday – on average just £70 a day. That said, the company still only scored three out of five stars for value for money.
When the coronavirus crisis hit, Balkan Holidays didn’t deny customers a refund for cancelled holidays. It did, however, automatically issue a refund credit note, but you could instantly reject this and request a monetary refund instead. Customers didn’t have to wait for the credit note’s date to expire like with other travel companies.
Which? verdict: Balkan Holidays may offer cheap getaways, but also check out the bargains on offer with On the Beach, who achieved a higher customer score.
Broadway Travel – 70%
is a well-established company offering beach and poolside package holidays, as well as city breaks in mostly European destinations. An independent operator with fairly low prices, the company landed itself four out of five stars for several categories, including value for money.
Broadway Travel received plenty of positive comments about its staff too. Customers described team members as ‘pleasant,’ ‘knowledgeable,’ and ‘helpful’. Accommodation seemed to be what let the company down, with customers only rating this three stars out of five.
During the coronavirus crisis, Broadway Travel did not offer customers a refund within 14 days as required by law. The company automatically issued a refund credit note, which could later be exchanged for cash.
Which? verdict: Broadway Travel does offer holidays at reasonable prices, but don’t make it your first choice – there are too many other companies rated more highly.
Best at Travel – 69%
offers ‘affordable luxury holidays’ to destinations all over the world, from Europe and the USA to the Caribbean and Africa. Given the bold choice of name, you might expect this travel company to be one of the ‘best’. Unfortunately, Best at Travel actually found itself second from bottom in our results table. The company excels at organising holidays however, receiving four out of five stars in this category. But while the booking process might be smooth, our survey showed that when customers arrived at their chosen getaway destination, it didn’t always match up to what had been promised. Customers only gave Best at Travel three stars for value for money too. It has also been slow on refunding holidays cancelled because of coronavirus.
How we researched holiday companies
In March and April 2020, we asked Which? Connect panel members and the public to complete an online survey about their experiences of booking and going on holiday in the last two years. We define a package holiday as a traditional beach/resort holiday combining flights and accommodation. We only reported on companies and star rating categories when we received at least 30 responses.