Skip to content

Britain’s Staycation Boom May Be Over As Bookings Dry Up

Is the British staycation boom over? Short-term holiday rentals experienced a surge in recent years, especially during the pandemic, when Britons stayed at home in the UK, leading to a spike in rates.

However, holiday-let owners across the UK are reporting a significant fall in bookings so far this year as the sector feels the effects of the cost of living crisis, poor weather and an increasingly saturated market.

Helen Angove, 58, managing director of Woodland Collection Holidays in Townshend, Cornwall, about 10 miles from tourist hotspot St Ives, said demand in January and February fell by about 80% across her four three-bedroom holiday lets on the same period last year. “This year we had hardly any bookings at all in January or February. March and April bookings are down 20%.”

She attributes much of the sluggish demand to the poor weather. “So many [people] are fed up with the wet weather. They are going abroad to get some sunshine. The second big factor is the massive oversupply of holiday lets. A lot of people thought they could make easy money because of what happened during Covid.”

The one-bed cottage let out by Miriam Vanags in St Clears, Wales. She says guests have become much more demanding. Photograph: HandoutData supplied from AirDNA, which tracks listings on holiday rental sites Airbnb and Vrbo, found 342,000 short-term lets available in the UK in the 12 months to February 2024, up 19% on the previous year. New listings for homes in the UK jumped 22% year on year in 2023, while new apartment listings increased by 16%.

Yvonne Turnbull, 58, who lives in Horsham, West Sussex, has been letting out a three-bedroom apartment in Scarborough, North Yorkshire, for between £150 and £175 a night, including through Airbnb, for the past six years.

She said demand was significantly down on previous years, with no bookings for January, February or March, including half-term, and fewer bookings over Easter. Turnbull said Scarborough was now oversupplied with holiday lets. “When we started there were about 200 Airbnbs in the town. Now you’re looking at 1,000.”

Nor is the problem limited to seaside destinations. Veeve, which offers short-term rentals, has seen a 21% drop in booking values across its London portfolio of more than 500 properties from January to 19 March since the same period last year.

St Ives, Cornwall, is still popular, but demand for lets nearby has fallen significantly. Photograph: Ben Pipe Photography/Getty Images/Image SourceThe lack of bookings is another hit to the holiday-let industry after the government announced increased regulation and the end of tax relief from April 2025 in last month’s budget. New controls on holiday lets in England will be introduced this summer, including a mandatory national registration scheme and councils being given greater powers if they want to use them to control short-term lets by making them subject to the planning process.

Martin Dunford, founder of accommodation site Cool Places, said inquiries for UK self-catering accommodation were slightly down on last year but higher than before the pandemic. “We are finding that people are more careful. They have less money, tend to book later, watch the weather and try to get more for their money.”

Miriam Vanags, 60, and her husband have run a one-bedroom holiday cottage on their 18-acre smallholding in St Clears, Wales, for the past 17 years. She said people were demanding a lot more for their money. “They expect more of a hotel experience. Now we see a huge number of requests for hot tubs and wood burners, which seem to be deal breakers. Trends change.”

She added: “We have considered long-term letting and that is something we may revisit. Selling up may become a necessity, depending on whether things pick up.”

Featured News