As we soak up the final rays for another year, hotel bookers LateRooms.com documents how Britain has holidayed at home and abroad this summer – from city breaks to exploring some of the UK’s lesser-visited coasted and rural spots, as well as the European destinations we simply couldn’t get enough of.
Brits are sticking to old habits when heading on UK city breaks. London, Manchester, Birmingham and Edinburgh sit pretty on top of a 10 strong list of destinations that has remained virtually static for the last five years.
Of these top 10 most popular UK destinations this July and August, six are northern towns or cities, with summer events like the Edinburgh Fringe and Manchester Pride providing perfect destinations for a trip away.
Edinburgh topped the UK’s most expensive destination during August, due to the Edinburgh festival, where room costs increased by 75% on January (the most economical time to visit the city) and averaged £20 per night more expensive than London.
Larger coastal resorts such as Blackpool, Brighton and Bournemouth have continued to enjoy a rise in visitor numbers, and sit atop the list of the UK’s most popular seaside towns and cities. Blackpool, in particular, has been part of a retro revival that has seen other traditional resorts including Southend-on-Sea, Margate and Skegness also witness a boom in bookings.
Old favourite Weston-super-Mare has returned to rude health following the catastrophic fire that wrecked the Grand Pier’s pavilion in 2008, jumping 13 places since 2011 to the UK’s 10th most popular overnight coastal resort. With visitors expected to have ploughed an extra £7m into the local economy this past summer alone*, hoteliers have seen booking numbers jump as many look to visit Banksy’s acclaimed Dismaland exhibition.
But for every classic comeback there has been an up and coming seaside resort making waves: among some of the coastal villages that boomed this summer were Burry Port in Carmarthenshire (up 180%), Anstruther on Scotland’s Fife coast (up 166%), Anglesey’s Treaddur Bay (up 114%) and South Hayling in Hampshire (up 136%).
And away from the coastline, a number of smaller towns and villages have seen spikes in booking as exploratory Brits opt for lesser-known destinations on an increasing basis. Amongst them, Castle Cary, a market town in Somerset, saw bookings up 126% this summer compared to last year, Cumbria’s Cartmel on the outskirts of the Lake District proved another popular bolt hole with visitors up 116% on July and August 2014. Shipston-on-Stour, one of the Cotswolds’ lesser-known towns, saw bookings go up by 95% and Cheshire’s footballer friendly Alderley Edge saw a 58% increase in bookings through the LateRooms.com site since last year.
And if Brits haven’t been soaking up the clean sea air or a show in the West End, chances are they’ve been abroad.
The most popular European destination this summer was Amsterdam – the rest of the top 10 were also city breaks with Paris, Rome and Barcelona proving favourites once again.
The continental drifters have shown themselves happy to brave the Dubai summer heat, with the city in the desert ranking most popular non-European destination for the second year in a row. Kuala Lumpur rose from sixth to second in the popularity stakes while Bangkok was third.