52 summer bargains that prove Britain isn’t a holiday rip-off

Are UK holidays a rip-off? That was the verdict of Nick Trend, Telegraph Travel’s consumer editor, who recently compared the cost of typical summer breaks in Britain and abroad. “Try searching for a two-bedroom holiday cottage in Cornwall this August,” he wrote. “The cheapest result for a week from August 6 on one of the leading sites, Holidaycottages.co.uk, currently costs £1,001 – and you could easily spend more than twice that for some of the most desirable places. 

© Provided by The Telegraph holidays in the uk, uk holiday bargains, where to stay in the uk this summer, summer holidays, travel

“Across the Channel in Brittany, however, it’s a totally different story. A similar search on the Gites de France website (gites-de-france.com) pulls up a huge choice of cottages in the region at a fraction of the cost.”

There’s no doubt that British breaks can feel overpriced – particularly if you are unfortunate enough for your stay to coincide with a week of dismal weather. But there’s still plenty of value to be found – even during the peak summer period – if you know where to look. Furthermore, with overseas holidays largely free from Covid red tape, our experts on the ground report that demand for UK breaks is well below last year’s levels.  

We asked a clutch of UK experts to provide a snapshot of the situation in their corner of the country, plus tips and recommendations for a stylish but economical summer holiday.

Cornwall

There’s been a lot of talk of greedy owners of Cornish properties, buoyed by insatiable demand during the pandemic, hiking prices for this summer. But it’s a fickle market and there are currently unsold weeks even in honeypots like St Ives.

If you’re not wedded to a sea view there’s still good value to be found. Take Ennys, a beautiful small estate near St Ives Bay (07712 815635; ennys.co.uk). The price of its pretty two-bedroom Garden Cottage hasn’t gone up in a decade yet it comes with access to a heated pool and grass tennis court. A high season week costs £1,470.

Classic Cottages (01326 555555; classiccottages.co.uk) also reports good summer availability, especially for couples, in pretty rural cottages and shepherd’s huts on the flanks of Bodmin Moor, on the Lizard and near Polperro – for under £100 a night. 

© Provided by The Telegraph Chapel House, UK holidays in Cornall

Basing yourself in a town is also a good way to bring the cost down. Penzance is well served by trains and buses, including the open-top Land’s End rover, and Chapel House (07810 020617; chapelhousepz.co.uk), a Georgian townhouse lovingly restored as a luxurious retreat by convivial Susan Stuart, has good availability in its sea view rooms for £195 per night including breakfast. 

For a Swallows and Amazons-style family glamping holiday in the heart of Doc Martin country, head for Cornish Tipi Holidays (01208 880781; cornishtipiholidays.co.uk). Hidden in 20 acres of native woodland beside a spring-fed lake near Port Isaac, it rents traditional North American tipis and has a wild camping meadow. A fully equipped large family tipi costs £1,127 for a high summer week with everything provided except food and bedding.

By Gill Charlton

The Lake District

Last summer, the Lake District was bursting at the seams. The struggle to find accommodation – with barely a sign of a bargain – could make you think twice about returning. Think again. According to Cumbria Tourism, 55 per cent of holiday businesses report lower bookings than usual for this year. There’s decent availability, and value for money, if you know where to look. 

© Provided by The Telegraph The Swan Hotel & Spa, spa hotels in the lake district – PWM Photography

Everyone wants to be by a lake but while Windermere, with its tourist-packed hubs of Bowness and Ambleside, may be the star, there are around a dozen more. Ullswater, only 20 minutes from the M6, offers lake cruises and fell walks (including Helvellyn) while The Quiet Site (thequietsite.co.uk), an eco-driven camping and glamping site above its western shores, offers three-night stays in its “gingerbread houses” (sleeping six) for £480 in August. Close to Lake Bassenthwaite, 10 minutes north of bustling Keswick and with attractive gardens, the dog-friendly Pheasant Inn (inncollectiongroup.com) is offering two-night summer breaks (including welcome drinks, dinner and a booklet of walks) from £319. 

Staying close, but not too close, to popular centres is a wise move. The Yan (grasmereglamping.co.uk), for example, a 15-minute walk from pretty Grasmere, has glamping pods priced at £460 for three nights (or £895 for a week), while the family- and dog-friendly Cuckoo Brow Inn (cuckoobrow.co.uk), between Windermere and Hawkshead, has availability from £122 a night. If you move fast, the riverside Swan Hotel (swanhotel.com), five minutes from the quieter southern end of Windermere and with colourful rooms and a new spa, is offering a 15 per cent reduction on rooms booked eight weeks ahead (from around £132). 

© Provided by The Telegraph Queenshead at Askham, self catering holidays in the UK – Steven Barber

Widening your search area to the outer regions can also bring benefits. Guests at The Queen’s Head in Askham (queensheadaskham.co.uk), a traditional pub with eye-catching rooms from £130 a night, get the bonus of free entry to gardens – plus outdoor pool – of sister hotel Askham Hall. Over in lesser-visited Eskdale, near the west coast, friendly Woolpack Inn (woolpack.co.uk) – with simple but cosy rooms and a good selection of ales – has offers three-night midweek stays from £120 per person. Great walking is on the doorstep and it’s just a mile from the popular Ravenglass and Eskdale steam railway.

By Helen Pickles

East Anglia

Rewind a year and Norfolk and Suffolk’s sought-after coasts saw waiting lists for self-catering cottages, sold-out hotel rooms and packed campsites throughout the peak summer weeks.  

Fast forward to 2022 and Norfolk cottage holiday company Sowerbys says demand is returning to calmer, pre-pandemic levels. The seaside hotspots of Brancaster, Thornham, Burnham Overy Staithe and Blakeney, continue to command a premium, but venture just a little way inland to the pretty villages of Stanhoe, Binham and the Creakes and you’ll find affordable cottages a short drive to the best beaches. Among them is Hare Cottage (sowerbysholidaycottages.co.uk), a 17th-century, dog-friendly hideaway sleeping four in Docking – 10 minutes from the sea and near a pub, village store and fish and chip shop – which has summer availability for £785 per week. 

© Provided by The Telegraph Raynham Wild Meadow Glamping, glamping holidays in the uk

Lurking quietly below the radar, Raynham Wild Meadow Glamping (raynham.co.uk) has luxurious, family-sized yurts in estate grounds from £833 per week. And there’s still time to snap up a three-night stay at the popular Hoste Arms (thehostearms.com) in the Georgian town of Burnham Market, from £687 b&b in August, including afternoon tea and prosecco.

The overlooked but well-located Suffolk village of Reydon, just inland from the the busy resorts of Southwold and Walberswick, is home to Scotts Cottage (bestofsuffolk.co.uk), a terraced house sleeping four, from £984 for five nights. Further south, the seaside Wentworth Hotel (wentworth-aldeburgh.com) in Aldeburgh offers a two-night ‘Summer Break’ package from £570 for two people, including full English breakfast, three-course dinner, a cream tea and chocolates. Away from the sea, The Bildeston Crown (thebildestoncrown.com), an excellent base for exploring the wool town of Lavenham and Constable Country, has cosy rooms from £110 b&b per night.

By Sophie Butler

Scotland

Scots are renowned for being canny with their cash so it’s no surprise that in times of rising holiday prices they know where to find value for money. 

The starting point is to avoid popular destinations like Edinburgh and Skye. The rest of the country is a treasure trove of quiet and scenic hideaways – off the beaten track and far more affordable. Generally speaking, self-catering cottages, caravans and glamping sites work out cheaper for longer breaks, with more freedom than hotels.

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The charming village of Kippford, on a river estuary on the Solway Firth, is a tranquil place with a shop, a choice of places to eat, a lovely coastal path to the neighbouring village of Rockcliffe, and – in fair weather – magical sunrises and sunsets. It has a hotel costing £110 per night, but in August you can rent Cedar Lodge, a comfortable two-bedroom log cabin with views of the estuary, for £725 a week (cottages.com).

© Provided by The Telegraph Harvest Moon, family-friendly holidays in scotland

Ardnamurchan, meaning ‘headland of the great seas’, is the most remote of the West Highland peninsulas, accessible mainly by a winding, single-track road along the shores of Loch Sunart. Designated a National Scenic Area, it extends to a historic lighthouse on the most westerly point of the British mainland and is a short ferry ride to the Isle of Mull. Tucked away by the water’s edge is Laga Lodge, a three-bedroom boatman’s cottage available from June 30-July 3 for £447.50, based on a family of four (selfcatering-ardnamurchan.co.uk). 

If you fancy glamping by a secluded beach in a treehouse or beach cottage, head for Harvest Moon Holidays between North Berwick and Dunbar. All accommodations have wood-burning stoves, en-suite loos and hot showers, and there’s an on-site farm shop, BBQ and campfire facilities, and a Kids’ Corner with chickens, alpacas, lambs and pygmy goats. A treehouse sleeping six is £790 for four nights in late July (harvestmoonholidays.com).

Hidden at the end of a remote country road in ‘secret Argyll’ lies Port Ban Holiday Park with a small beachside collection of modern caravans, campers and glamping. It is a perfect place to unwind with a swim, cycle or walk, and nearby is a highly rated restaurant with rooms, the Kilberry Inn. Two-bedroom caravans are available for £328 in late August (portban.com).

By Gavin Bell

Wales

It’s a known fact that rates tumble and summer availability surges the minute you cross the Severn Bridge. And the deeper you venture into the heart of Wales, the rosier the picture gets. Yes, the weather is a tease, but who cares about the odd shower with some of Britain’s most ravishing beaches, mountains and valleys to explore. And you’ll be dodging a bullet when it comes to airport chaos and exorbitant flight prices. To keep things affordable, steer clear of coastal hotspots like Gower and Tenby, which positively heave when school’s out.  

Try Mid Wales for peaceful trails, wild swims and starry night skies. Tucked into the waterfall-draped folds of Abergwesyn Valley, Welsh Glamping (welshglamping.com) has Lotus Belle Tents sleeping four from £580 per week, with decks, barbecues, firepits and dreamy forest views. Hand-crafted log cabins with four-poster bunk beds and hot tubs cost from £740 per week. Or spent drowsy days watching dragonflies flutter above the lake at working farm Dŵr Y Felin (dwryfelin.co.uk), in the foothills of the Cambrian Mountains, which offers four-night, mid-week stays from £495 in hand-built log cabins with hot tubs. Eco-luxe By the Wye (bythewye.uk) in Hay has super-stylish treetop glamping, with three-night summer breaks from £605. 

© Provided by The Telegraph Brook Cottage Shepherd Huts, unusual places to stay in Wales

The best bargain? Campio’r Cothi (facebook.com), near the Roman Dolaucothi Gold Mines in Pumsaint, with riverside glamping on a sheep farm hemmed in by lovely woodland, where you can rent a bell tent with air beds for the whole family for £50 a night. Get in quick.

In North Wales, adults-only Brook Cottage Shepherd Huts (luxuryglampingwales.co.uk) has five chic huts in wildflower meadows from £115 per night – and the beaches of the Llŷn Peninsula on its doorstep. Try Afon Rhaiadr Country House (little-places.co.uk), with doubles from £95 b&b, for a splash of Victorian glamour near Dolgellau in Snowdonia, or Troedyrhiw (rarehideaways.co.uk), in a quiet wooded valley near Cardigan Bay, which has a cluster of charming digs, including The Coach House from £550 a week.

If you’d prefer a hotel, bargains include bike-and-muddy-boot-friendly The Wynnstay (wynnstay.wales) in Machnylleth, on Snowdonia’s southern fringes, with doubles from £105. Families and dogs are warmly welcome at The Greyhound Inn (greyhound-inn.com) in Usk, a charming 18th-century tavern near the Roman town of Caerleon with a flower-filled beer garden and doubles from £95. Edging west, you could sleep in a vineyard at Jabajak (little-places.co.uk) for £120 a night, or in an incredibly stylish sea-view room at the Manor Town House (manortownhouse.com) in Fishguard in Pembrokeshire, which has the best breakfast for miles.  

By Kerry Walker

The Peak District

The Peak District isn’t solely confined to the National Park of the same name. The region extends beyond that, and some of its best-known destinations – including Buxton, Matlock and Ashbourne – actually lie outside the Park boundaries. These fringe areas make good hunting grounds when you’re after extra value for money, but even within the National Park itself there’s still plenty of affordable accommodation on offer this summer and far more choice than there was this time last year.

Looking for a cute hideaway for two? Shepherd’s Crook (shepherdscrookhuts.co.uk) fits the bill perfectly. Tucked away in a private corner of a working sheep farm in Wincle, it’s a cut above the usual shepherd’s hut with its own little summer house, a fire pit and lovely views over the rolling Cheshire countryside. There’s good availability in July and August from £550 per week. 

© Provided by The Telegraph Peak House Winster, UK historic houses to stay in – Lu Jeffery

Rather grander in scale is Peak House, a luxurious, historic home in the pretty conservation village of Winster, near Matlock. There’s room for 14 people to relax in style here, gathering round the log-burning stove or playing croquet in the walled garden, depending on the vagaries of the Peak District weather. It has good peak season availability from £3,739 per week (or £38 per person per night) through the Wow House Company (thewowhousecompany.com).

When it comes to country cottages, there are still plenty of places offering character, comfort and charm without costing a fortune. In the upland Staffordshire village of Longnor, the streets are lined with attractive stone buildings, including Jack’s Cottage (oneoffplaces.co.uk), all flagged floors and exposed beams and available for £475 a week (sleeps two). 

A couple of miles from Ashbourne, Parkfields Stable works well for families, with a peaceful rural setting, plenty of outdoor space for kids to run around in, and an assortment of children’s books, toys and CDs. The owners throw in a welcome hamper and home-made cake as well. There are plenty of dates still free in July and August from £820 a week (sleeps four) with Premier Cottages (premiercottages.co.uk). 

© Provided by The Telegraph Brookside Cottage, cottages in the UK

Travelling with a dog? It’s welcome at Brookside Cottage in Beeley, a 17th-century village house that also delivers on the location front. From here, you can walk through parkland to glorious Chatsworth House, and it’s mere yards from the front door to the Devonshire Arms, one of the Peak District’s best country inns. Dog Friendly Retreats offers dates in July and August from £885 a week for six people (dogfriendlyretreats.com).

By Suzanne King

The South Coast

One thing that visitors to the Kent, Sussex and Dorset coasts can be assured of is variety. You’re never too far from a vineyard, castle, pier, beach, downland walk or slice of heritage coast and, who knows, you could be sleeping in a woodland cabin, windmill, wine lodge, tree house, converted lighthouse or oast house. Use your imagination, cast your net wide, be flexible (arriving on a Monday can help), mix and match locations and take advantage of local train and bus routes to get around.

Snuggling up to the North Foreland Lighthouse on the Kent coast, above Broadstairs, are two dazzling cottages. They share a lawned garden and nearby is Joss Bay’s sandy beach, and a golf course. Khina, one of the pair, sleeps four and costs £1,220 per week in August (coolstays.com). 

© Provided by The Telegraph amazing places to stay in Kent – ianmacdonald

Bisected by Pellingford Brook, Wowo Campsite (wowo.co.uk; adults from £14 per night) has yurts, shepherds huts, bell tents and geo-domes. There’s an intriguing forest glade spa and children can go on foraging trails and get involved in circus workshops. Nearby distractions include Lewes Castle, the Bluebell Vineyard, horse riding in the Ashdown Forest and bike trails in Deers Leap Park. To arrive at Wowo in style take the train to East Grinstead and pick up the heritage Bluebell Railway. 

Pubs with rooms aren’t just for winter weekends. At the Bell in Ticehurst (thebellinticehurst.com), on the Kent-Sussex border, there are garden lodges and stylish rooms. One lodge has stairs that spiral to a mezzanine, complete with record player; another a balcony overlooking its stunning garden, which recently featured on Gardeners’ World. There is availability this summer, with mid-week doubles from £165 a night. 

© Provided by The Telegraph The Bell in Ticehurst, East Sussex holidays – Saltwick Media

Got the New Forest and Jurassic Coast in your sights? Green Valley Yurts (greenvalleyyurts.com) ships its lattice-roofed gers over from Mongolia, and the site is on an organic smallholding near the Dorset village of Cerne Abbas. The roomy “homes” have wood-burning stoves, decks, and outdoor fire pits with bench seating. Spotless communal areas include solar-heated showers and a timber-clad kitchen. Three-night weekend or four-night mid-week stays in a five-person yurt cost from £399 during the school holidays.

Whisper it, but there is even affordable hotel accommodation in Brighton. Facing the West Pier and rocking the coastal vibe with a palette of cheery colours, Selina offers three-night weekend stays in late July from £438 for a double or £778 for a family room (selina.com).

By Teresa Machan

Devon

An idyllic country inn for £65 a night (The Lamb Inn at Sandford; lambinnsandford.co.uk), a suite in a luxury hotel for £163 (Kentisbury Grange; kentisburygrange.com), a family holiday cottage near the sea for £522 per week (Toad Hall Cottages; toadhallcottages.co.uk) – if you think British summer holidays are a rip-off following the pandemic, think again. All these options are currently available in Devon in mid-August. 

Holiday cottage owners tell me that, as the majority of people opt for overseas holidays again, demand for accommodation has fallen well below normal, so prices have had to follow suit. The ongoing cost of living crisis also means they are having to be realistic with their pricing. 

© Provided by The Telegraph Longlands, Devon summer holidays

“Devon has become a victim of its own success,” says Claire Wills of quirky accommodation website Coolstays. “Owners elevated their prices last year, but suddenly everyone is feeling the pinch, so now they’ve had to drop their rates significantly to attract budget-conscious guests.” 

The biggest bargains are in North Devon, where a surge of new openings and takeovers by Londoners buying up holiday properties during the pandemic has led to a glut of summer availability. Longlands, near Combe Martin, still has plenty of empty glamping lodges over the peak period, with prices for a week’s stay starting at £1,255 for a property sleeping six (longlandsdevon.co.uk). Koa Tree Camp, near Welcombe, has wood cabins sleeping four for £135 per night (koatreecamp.com). 

“Compared to this time last year, holidaymakers are spoiled for choice,” says Wills. 

By Suzy Bennett

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