High demand pushes up coastal accommodation prices

UK seaside breaks look set to be more expensive this summer, according to a “snapshot investigation” that found some accommodation prices have risen by an average of 35% year-on-year.

Which? tracked the prices of 15 holiday lets in the top 10 most visited UK seaside destinations, and found that in every case, prices have increased from last summer.

The investigation looked at prices for 15 properties listed on Airbnb and Vrbo in the past year, in destinations such as St Ives, Whitby, Llandudno and Brighton.

The largest mark-up was for a one-bedroom maisonette in Brighton on Airbnb.

When checked in May 2020 for the first week of August 2020, the cost was £53 per night. But when it was checked in February 2021 for the equivalent period the property was £127 per night – an increase of 140%.

The cost of a one-week stay at a property in Llandudno has risen from £427 to £596, while seven nights in a property in St Ives has gone from £860 to £1,263.

Some price rises were more modest, with a one-bedroom cottage in Scarborough just 7% more expensive this summer.

Hosts on Airbnb set the prices and cleaning fees for properties listed on the platform. Airbnb said the price increases highlighted by Which? were “isolated examples”, while Vrbo also said hosts are in control and individually set the rental price for their properties.

The BBC reported: “Airbnb described the analysis as ‘misleading’ and claimed research has shown guests feel the company is more affordable than other accommodation options.

“Vrbo said it ‘does not set, change or influence the property prices a host chooses’, adding that holidaymakers agree to prices before they book.”

According to the government’s current plans for releasing England from lockdown, self-contained holiday accommodation breaks are set to return from April 12.

Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, said: “Many holidaymakers are looking forward to finally going to the seaside this summer, so it’s perhaps not a surprise that high demand has seen prices for some destinations shoot up too.

“If people are prepared to pay more for their summer holidays this year, it’s essential that they know their money will be protected or returned to them without hassle in the event they cannot travel as planned.

“Make sure you choose a provider that offers fair and flexible booking terms, so you won’t be left chasing a refund if something goes wrong.”

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