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Cars & travel.

How to save on UK Holidays

You don't need to fork out over the odds for a break in Blighty. Follow our 9 tips for a great value-for-money holiday at home
Lauren Bell
Dartmouth_aug19 483454

While UK holidays are convenient and there’s less risk of cancellation during these uncertain times, they can often be pricey. 

With accommodation plus meals out and days spent visiting attractions, it soon adds up.

But by making a few small changes and following our top tips, that holiday on home soil should become much more affordable.

Video: five ways to save on your UK holidays

1. Choose a more affordable destination

Where you choose to stay has a bigger bearing on cottage prices than you might expect. Holidays in the north of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland all tend to be cheaper (per person, per night) than the rest of England. For example, we found a week-long cottage break in Yorkshire and Humber for six people could be £450 cheaper overall at £1,466, than a similar stay in the South East when we checked in June 2020.

2. Find a cheap stay three miles down the road

cottage with beautiful garden
Holidaymakers can save more than £400 on a one-week UK holiday just by swapping a well-known location for a similar destination, just a few miles away.

We compared average hotel room rates at 10 popular towns, cities and seaside resorts with accommodation costs at similar destinations nearby. The result? Holidaymakers could save between £24 and £59 per room, per night.

We compared the likes of Dartmouth with Salcombe and Tenby with Saundersfoot. Find out the full results of our research into hotel room rates.

3. Shop around for the best value hotel room rate 

When booking hotel accommodation — shop around. Check price comparison sites, such as Travelzoo or Booking.com, and always contact the hotel directly to see if they have any good deals.

You may not always be offered a better price, but a free breakfast or evening meal discount will perhaps be added to your room package. It’s worth a try.

Joining the free loyalty scheme of a chain hotel or a hotel booking website can also reap rewards. Points could earn you discounted room rates, a room upgrade, spa credits and late check out.

4. Avoid events when booking accommodation

When big sporting events, festivals and gigs are taking place in a particular area, you’ll find yourself paying over the odds for accommodation because hotel room demand is higher. Unless you want to attend a specific event, choose a different week.

For example, bedrooms in Cheltenham during the Gold Cup horse race meeting can be almost six times more expensive than if you arrived a week later. 

We also found a B&B in Milton Keynes could be more than 60% cheaper if you arrived the week after the nearby Silverstone Grand Prix.

If your dates are flexible, look to see if a hotel’s website lists a monthly view of prices. 

5. Look out for attraction vouchers and deals to make savings

Keep an eye out for visitor attraction deals. A good starting point is tourist board websites. Discounts can also be found on daysoutguide.co.uk, in association with National Rail. You need to travel by train to qualify for offers. For example, if you’re heading to Brighton, you can make use of the 2-for-1 offer to the SEA LIFE aquarium. A couple can save £21.50 on the entrance fee. Just be sure to do the maths before buying any deals to check they’re worth the money. With attraction saver passes for example - which allow you to visit a wide array of attractions in a set period - be sure that you plan to maximise use of the pass or it may be cheaper to pay for attractions separately.

Discover the best-rated historic attractions in the UK 

6. Cut food costs by dining out at lunch

Don’t be put off by a fine-dining restaurant’s budget-busting a la carte menu. Instead, check whether they offer any set menu deals earlier in the day. You can enjoy the same cuisine and attentive service for a fraction of the price. All you have to do is eat a little earlier.

Chain restaurants, such as Cote Brasserie, offer excellent value-for-money deals, allowing early diners to eat for less.

7. Save money by getting your groceries to pay for your UK holiday

Although there are other supermarket loyalty schemes, Tesco has linked up with a significant number of accommodation and attraction providers. The scheme is ideal for shoppers who want their holiday budget to go further.

Collect points on your Clubcard every time you shop in Tesco. Every point is equivalent to 1p. However if you use them with a Tesco Rewards Partner - such as Pizza Express and Legoland Windsor - points are worth three times as much, so 50p converts to £1.50. 

Looking for a British weekend break? Find out the best rated destinations for accommodation, food, attractions and more with the best city breaks in the UK [link].

8. Book your car hire through a broker to save money

woman driving car

Which? research has found that, on average, customers get a better price booking with a broker than going direct. The best brokers also throw in extras for free.

Use Which? Recommended Provider Zest Car Rental, recognised for its pricing transparency and customer service – and you’ll get excess reimbursement insurance and, often, a second driver free of charge. 

When we looked for a week’s hire in Glasgow, Zest quoted £203 with Dollar, which included an additional driver. Booking with Dollar direct it cost £268 for the same car with an extra driver. That’s a saving of £65.

9. Cut costs by sharing your cottage with another household

If government Covid rules allow it at the time of travel, why not share your self-catering property with friends or family members? Accommodation with room for four or more often works out cheaper per adult than a similar option for two. 

We looked on Airbnb’s website and found a one-bedroom apartment in St Florence, near Tenby, costing £573 for a week in September. A cottage sleeping six in the village (plus room for two children), with the same rating cost £584. That works out at £292 per household, saving £281. 

Looking for a UK self-catering break? Find out which cottage holiday companies you can trust to book through.