How to grab a bargain staycation - as prices are slashed by up to 40% (2024)

So summer has finally decided to join the party. It's been quite the wait.

If it's got you thinking about a great British staycation, now is the time to bag a discount of up to 40 per cent in holiday cottages from Cornwall to Cumbria.

The weather in the first half of this year, together with the cost-of-living crisis, a surfeit of supply, and distractions in the form of the Euros and the General Election have created a perfect storm for cottage companies.

The upshot? There is plenty of availability, with some amazing bargains.

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of trade body UK Hospitality, says that bookings failed to materialise as much as expected in May and the first few weeks of June following an early Easter.

Georgian splendour: The Country House in Cumbria, which sleeps 16, has been heavily discounted. Four-night midweek stays there this month are now £2,970 down from £4,950

'The weather has undoubtedly been one impact on bookings,' she says. 'The cost of living has been another.'

A May study on the state of the market by tourist boards Visit England, Visit Scotland and Visit Wales showed that 29 per cent of people cited the weather as a barrier to taking an overnight trip in the UK, with 31per cent referencing the cost-of-living crisis.

Oversupply, too, is playing its part. Data from AirDNA, which tracks listings on holiday rental sites, showed that there were 355,000 short-term lets available in the UK in the 12 months to May 2024, a 15 per cent increase on the previous year.

Holiday-let owners who increased prices to match demand during a pandemic boom are now slashing them.

'We are seeing discounts all over the place even for the big weeks in August and July that were never typically available,' says Matt Fox, CEO of Snaptrip Group, a marketing partner for Hoseasons, Sykes and Holiday Cottages, among others. 'I have never seen so much availability for the first week of August.'


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You can even find places close to the beach with a sizeable amount off the advertised price.

For instance, Snaptrip lists Primrose Cottage in Beer, Devon, which is 200m from the coast, and has three bedrooms that sleep five in total.

In August, it is 29 per cent off, with three nights from £1,146.

Some of the best bargains are in the West Country where, according to Nicholls, 'there has been a significant increase in Airbnbs and self-catering holiday accommodation'.

In Cornwall's St Austell, Snaptrip has 33 per cent off the one-bed Cider Press cottage, which is free nearly every week in July and August and now costs £708 for three nights in August.

James Norton, director of Toad Hall Cottages, which has 1,300 properties in the West Country, says they had discounts of about 20 per cent on properties that are just a few minutes' walk from the beach.

A steal: Cider Press in St Austell, Cornwall is free nearly every week in July and August and now costs £708 for three nights in August

'Considering the last six to nine months of weather we have had, it is no surprise there are gaps in July in particular,' he adds.

The bigger the property, the bigger the discount, with some prices cut by up to 40 per cent.

Many large houses, which normally book up in January for the summer, are still empty for the peak season, says Ed Maughan, of, which lists 1,600 properties, mostly in the UK. The site currently has 40 per cent off The Country House in Cumbria, which sleeps 16.

Four-night midweek stays there this month are now £2,970 down from £4,950 – and £3,180 down from £5,300 in August.

The Whitehall Dairy, a house for ten in Powys, has 30 per cent off some weekends in July and August with three-night weekends now £1,848.

Ordinarily, big houses and premium properties on the coast or with hot tubs and pools tend to hold out for full-week bookings in peak season, but more property owners have opened up the short-breaks market to attract those trading down from longer getaways.

Rowena Owen, co-founder of Bloom Stays, with 110 cottages in Kent and Sussex, says there are often discounts of 30-40 per cent for midweek stays compared with weekend stays.

She adds that one of the best ways to get a deal is to ask about under-occupancy charges for a small group staying in a large house.

'Even if you see a big house for ten people that is expensive, it is worth saying there are only four of us going, can we have a discount?' she says.

Owen says that in the past, she would have expected to be up to 60 per cent sold by Easter, but that bookings patterns changed after the pandemic, meaning that cottages now tend to be only 20-25per cent booked by that time.

Staycation bargains: Bad weather, the cost-of-living crisis and distractions like the Euros and the election have created a perfect storm for cottage firms

Nicholls agrees that bookings in general now come in far later. 'It used to be three months, now it is three weeks and, at certain times, people will book three days in advance,' she says.

That means a sunny Wednesday could bring plenty of bookings for that weekend but not necessarily for peak summer, particularly as it's not yet clear if the good weather will continue.

'We have seen an uptick in the past few days,' says Fox. But he says that the football and election have distracted people from booking a break. 'As soon as England get knocked out or win, bookings will skyrocket,' he predicts. That means that if you want to bag a bargain, act fast.

Martin Dunford, founder of Cool Places, says: 'You have got a better chance than you have had for years of picking up a good place in a good location at a good time of year for a good price.'

...and if you're going abroad, get insured


Cover: Just 37% of travellers buy their insurance at the time of booking

Holidaymakers risk losing an average of £1,400 if they leave it to the last minute to buy travel insurance, research suggests.

Just 37 per cent of travellers buy their insurance at the time of booking, according to cover provider Staysure.

The remainder may be missing out on valuable cancellation cover, researchers say.

As many as 40 per cent of holidaymakers don't bother taking out insurance until a couple of weeks to a month before departure — and 8 per cent leave it until a week before to take out a policy.

This puts them at risk if they need to cancel their trip, which is the most common reason to claim on travel insurance. Staysure paid out an average of £1,414 per cancellation claim last year.

Holidaygoers may therefore be best placed to take out insurance as soon as they book a trip, so they are covered in case of illness or natural disaster.

The cancellation cover should be set at the right level so that travellers are not left out of pocket.


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How to grab a bargain staycation - as prices are slashed by up to 40% (2024)
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