Accommodation specialist Stuba has reported that January 2021 was the best month for new bookings since March 2020.

The sales figures are 19% better than the previously best month since the start of the pandemic, which was December 2020.

Bookings in December were driven by last-minute accommodation sales, while January bookings have a much longer lead time than in previous years.

Compared to January 2020 and pre-pandemic levels, the average length of stay per hotel has increased by 31%, from 3.5 night to 4.6 nights.

The average nightly rate has increased by 9%.

Two thirds (68%) of January 2021 bookings are for arrivals after September 2021 and 15% are for 2022.

Stuba said travel to the US remains popular from September 2021, with almost half (47%) of the share for the post-September period. Most bookings are for the traditionally popular cities of New York, Orlando, Las Vegas, Miami, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

However, some destinations are showing stronger growth than they did in January 2020, including Maldives, Antigua, St Lucia, Barbados and Riviera Maya.

Matt Stuart (pictured), chief commercial officer, said the company is not seeing the usual sort of spike in sales that it normally would during the traditional peaks period but added: “We are seeing linear month-on-month growth which is positive.

“We are definitely noticing trends that travellers are booking longer and spending more throughout 2021 and into 2022.

“This is on the back of increased confidence in premium destinations such as the Caribbean and Indian Ocean and confidence in luxury hotels where there is a perception of increased Covid-friendly protocols and cleanliness.

“Whilst we are not back to pre-pandemic sales levels, we are seeing encouraging growth as consumer confidence increases for later 2021 and 2022.”