In April, I reported about the high cost of holidays in this country. Was Britain shutting itself out of the market, I was wondering? Especially considering the remarkably high cost of vacation rentals, the price of which had risen significantly, in part due to the sharp increase in demand during the Covid-hit summers of 2020 and 2021.
It was easy to find, for example, a large choice of self-catering accommodation in Brittany this summer at just a third the cost of the cheapest places in Cornwall, while a four bed villa with pool on the Portuguese coast could be obtained for. much less than the equivalent in the West Country.
Now, however, it seems that cottage owners in Britain have gotten a little too greedy. Last week, a What? highlighted both the results of its reader satisfaction survey among vacation rental companies and its early summer pricing research. It found that between last April and July, the cost of renting a cottage in a peak week in August dropped by an average of 11%. In other words, if you left your booking at the last minute, you would likely get a significantly lower price.
Which? found that, even in mid-July, more than 11,000 cottages were still available in the last two weeks of August. And the magazine concluded that the price falls and the huge number of empty cottages could “suggest that UK holiday demand has declined as international travel returns in 2022 and, as a result, holiday cottage companies are lowering. prices to incentivize customers. “
Some of the biggest price drops occurred in the Lake District, where vacation rentals were 15% cheaper when booked in July than in April. Rates in Cornwall remained somewhat more stable, although they still fell by 9%. Even so, the coastal county was the most expensive destination of all, costing a medium sized cottage averaging £ 1,401 for a week in August. Meanwhile, the average price for an August weekly rental in Devon fell from £ 1,306 to £ 1,158, an 11% drop.
Other expensive destinations were the Isle of Wight (£ 1,362 on average), Hampshire (£ 1,280) and Dorset (£ 1,264). Northumberland and Norfolk looked pretty affordable (both at £ 972).
When did it come to Which? satisfaction survey, smaller specialists tended to do better. The Landmark Trust won with a score of 92%, followed by Classic Cottages (classic.co.uk) and Sally’s Cottages (sallyscottages.co.uk), both at 85%. The three big specialists, Vrbo (vrbo.com/en-gb) and cottages.com – both 75% – and Sykes (sykescottages.co.uk) – 72% – were in the bottom half of the rankings.
Who? the research only gives a snapshot and doesn’t tell us the prices for the rest of the year. But when I looked at the September dates this week, I had no problem finding many discounts. Cottages.com for example has 9,687 cottages available in the last week of this month, many with discounted rates; Classic offers discounts between 10 and 40% on some rentals; and Sally’s also has many offers.
But while it appears that the cost of vacation rentals is really starting to decline, there is a potential cloud on the horizon for winter bookings: rising energy prices. Normally the cost of heating and electricity is included in the rent. How cottage owners will feel about renting their properties to vacationers who can turn the heat on and off whenever they feel like it. Especially from November to February when rents are usually at their lowest?
Will the prices rise? Will they take the meter readings and charge extra for energy? Will they simply take them off the market until spring? The National Trust says it will not pass on the additional costs this year, although it will have to revise vacation prices for next year. Other agencies keep the cards closer to the chest.