Are UK holidays a rip-off? Telegraph readers are divided on the value of a Great British break

After two summers when disruption to overseas travel flooded the market with domestic holidaymakers, Nick Trend questions whether Britain is now pricing itself out of the market. 

Expensive accommodation, lack of choice and the broader spectrum of holiday costs are pushing prospective holidaymakers away from the UK and back to the Continent.

At the end of last summer, for example, Which? published an investigation into the price of accommodation and eating out in the UK. It found that the typical cost for a night in an Airbnb in August had increased by 41 per cent between 2019 and 2021 and hotel prices in Britain were far higher than in its continental neighbours. 

So, are we being ripped off by an unscrupulous tourist industry? Telegraph readers in the comments section were split. Some say they have turned their backs on British destinations as they can find better value and weather elsewhere, while others say the hassle of flying deters them, urging others to look beyond the obvious UK hotspots for a worthwhile holiday.

Read on to see what your fellow readers had to say.

In favour of British holidays – and their value

‘Look beyond the obvious hotspots’

@Jon Dobinson:        

“Maybe the answer is to look beyond the obvious hotspots. I’ve just returned from a long weekend in Northern Ireland. Stunning unspoilt scenery, amazing pubs, live music everywhere, few tourists, and a living story everyone in the UK should attempt to understand and experience. There’s wonderful food, and I’d be surprised if there are many more affordable parts of the UK.”

‘I disagree about the variety of food available in the UK’

@Glen Thompson:

“I disagree about the variety of food available in the UK. Even a small British Town in a non-tourist area will have at least Indian, Chinese and Italian restaurants as well as a pub with more traditional fare. In France and Italy, in particular, they often only have restaurants selling French or Italian food.”

‘I suggest beautiful south Somerset’

@Matt McKellar:

“As an owner of a self-catering holiday complex, may I suggest beautiful south Somerset? As pretty as the Cotswolds or Cornwall but without the hordes and high prices.”

‘The UK is great for a city break’

@Shaun Cudworth:

“The UK has just had a couple of years to itself and people believed the hype, but it will soon settle down. Loads of people have headed abroad already, rediscovering their favourites or have been tempted with a new destination by a travel agent bargain. 

“Let’s face it, we don’t have the wherewithal to make the UK a real mass market destination. It’s great for a city break in London, Edinburgh, Leeds or York, or maybe a few days in Cornwall, Scotland or the Lakes. 

“We just don’t have the tourist infrastructure in place nor the energy or investment to make it for an affordable family holiday destination outside of caravan parks and camping.”

‘One should also consider the stress of flying’

@Ken Platt:

“It is not just the price of the holiday abroad one considers, it is also the stress of going to the airport three hours before the flight and then the delay of the flight. Unless you are going on a long-haul flight in business class, flying can be an awful experience and returning to the UK can also be a nightmare. I’ve experienced this flying into Manchester Airport over recent years as it is not unusual to wait in Manchester Airport for your luggage for over two hours. It is a dreadful place to fly into.”

Against UK breaks – and the prices

‘The weather is the elephant in the room’

@Norma Barrell:

“There is an enormous elephant in the room when it comes to UK holidays: the weather. I love Cornwall, but I have spent too many miserable weeks wearing a woolly jumper and eating chips, staring at the sky and wondering if it will stop raining. You cannot relax, you cannot make plans. It can be cold, wet and miserable, with, yes, the odd glorious day, but it’s not worth the risk. 

“In a quiet part of Spain, every day is warm, clear and suitable for an al-fresco meal or a swim.”

‘VAT and no staff are two huge factors affecting UK hospitality’

@John Smith:

“Two huge factors affecting UK hospitality. First is VAT at 20%. The Government is getting a fifth of your meal or pint. Not so in most other countries. 

“Secondly, there are no staff. Pot washers are on £15 plus an hour in some places. In Spain there is no benefits system that comes even close to ours. There is a week’s dole for every year worked and that’s about it. 

“In the UK people actually calculate if it’s more profitable to stay at home than drag themselves out of bed. A shambles.”

‘Spain is far better value than the UK’

@Ford Prefect:

“I have a place in Spain and love the restaurants and their service. 

“My friends have just booked a penthouse facing the sea for 2,000 euros for seven weeks starting in September when the weather will be perfect. It is far better value than the UK. 

“Yesterday my three-course lunch with half a bottle of wine cost me only 12 euros. No contest.”

‘Accommodation is now double the price’

@Michelle Holbeche:

“For years we have enjoyed lovely breaks to the south coast but the four bedroom house I rented three years ago in Polzeath is now double the price for the same week. 

“France and Spain offer so much better value. I’m sad to say for the first year in as long as I can remember, there will be no UK holiday this year.”

‘We found nowhere with above average reviews’

@Christopher Price:

“We tried to host our extended family for three nights in mid-June. We wanted somewhere that could accommodate 14 people, so expected it to be expensive. However, we found nowhere with above average reviews that was less than 5,000 pounds for the three nights. We were astonished, and have chosen instead to go to Portugal.”

Do you think holidays in the UK are a rip-off? Please let us know in the comments section below.