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The Cost of a Staycation: Pre-Pandemic VS Now

The Cost of a Staycation: Pre-Pandemic VS Now


his year there's been more demand than ever for towbars, roof boxes, and caravan movers, with more and more people choosing camping and caravanning holidays for the very first time.

Many of our customers have cited expensive hotel and Airbnb prices as the main reason for choosing camping or caravanning, so we were interested to know just how much the prices of hotels and Airbnb properties have changed pre-pandemic compared to now.

Back in 2018, we conducted research and created our very own Airbnb VS Hotels: A Price Comparison. So, we decided to take this past data and do some more digging.

Top 10 Staycation Destination: The Average Cost

According to, the 10 most popular locations overall in 2021 (% share of all bookings) are:

  1. Devon
  2. Cornwall
  3. Cumbria
  4. North Yorkshire
  5. Dyfed, South West Wales
  6. Powys, Mid Wales
  7. Norfolk
  8. Gwynedd, North West Wales
  9. Dorset
  10. Derbyshire

Using a data scraper, we pulled prices (per night) of hotels and Airbnb properties in each area based on a family of 4 and then calculated the average cost.

Hotel Stays

Comparing the average cost of booking a hotel in 2018 to 2021 shows that the percentage difference has increased in every location. However, some locations are much more expensive in comparison to others. Leading the way as the location with the largest hotel price increases is Cornwall. With the average one-night stay for a family of 4 priced at £157, a hotel getaway is now 67% more expensive than it was pre-pandemic.

Cornwall is followed by Pembrokeshire (44%) and Dorset (42%).

At the other end of the spectrum, in Norfolk (3%), Powys (3%), Derbyshire (8%), and Cumbria (10%), hotel prices have only increased marginally.

The Cost of a Staycation: Pre-Pandemic VS Now

Airbnb Stays

While the increase in hotel prices varies in expense, we were shocked at the jump in price when comparing Airbnb costs to pre-pandemic levels. In all locations, Airbnb getaways have jumped in price by 40% or more.

Price hikes were the most substantial in Dorset (67%), Cornwall (59%), and Devon (57%), taking advantage of those who are craving sun, sea, and sand. Meanwhile, at the lower end of the scale in Gwynedd (40%), Powys (41%), and Cumbria (48%), the average cost has still gone up significantly.

The comparison data that we have analysed explains the rise in first-time campers and caravaners. Studying the Family Deal site pricing 2021 by the Camping and Caravan Club shows that the average cost, regardless of location, for a family-sized pitch is less than £30 a night.

The Cost of a Staycation: Pre-Pandemic VS Now

City Breaks: The Average Cost

If it's a city break you want, then camping and caravanning aren't an option. However, we were still curious to see how the average cost of one-night stays in a UK city compared to pre-pandemic levels. We analysed these city break favourites:

  • Liverpool
  • Edinburgh
  • Bristol
  • Oxford
  • London
  • Manchester
  • York
  • Glasgow
  • Cambridge
  • Newcastle
  • Cardiff

So, what did we find?

Hotel Stays

Interestingly, the average price of a hotel stay is a bit of a mixed bag when compared with pre-pandemic costs. Some city-based hotels have increased their prices, with York (52%), Newcastle (49%), and Glasgow (38%) topping the list for the biggest increases. However, some city-based hotels have decreased their prices.

The average price of a one-night hotel stay in Bristol is 24% lower than it was in 2018. Cardiff, London, and Edinburgh also emerged in 2021 with lower average prices than they did in 2018.

The Cost of a Staycation: Pre-Pandemic VS Now

Airbnb Stays

While hotel city breaks remain similar or cheaper to what they were pre-pandemic, this is not the case for Airbnb properties in UK cities. We once again found price hikes across all cities that we researched, with Liverpool seeing the biggest percentage increase (530%). While a one-night stay in Liverpool averaged £44 pre-pandemic, it now averages at £277. The next substantial percentage increase was in Edinburgh (443%) followed by Bristol (238%).

The city with the smallest percentage increase was Cardiff with 43%. However, it is worth pointing out that the average cost of an Airbnb property is by far the most expensive- by a sizable margin. The average cost of an Airbnb property in 2021 is a phenomenal £497.

The Cost of a Staycation: Pre-Pandemic VS Now


In conclusion, our data comparison shows that while hotel prices have increased amid the demand for UK getaways, it is still possible to find reasonable hotel rates depending on location. And, you're more likely to find cheaper hotel prices if you consider a city break.

Our research suggests that booking an Airbnb property is the most expensive option, regardless of the type of getaway you want. It is a stark contrast to pre-pandemic pricing, where Airbnb accommodation was significantly cheaper than choosing to stay in a hotel.

If you're one of those first-time campers or caravanners (or even a well-seasoned one!) planning a more cost-effective UK getaway then you can buy your towbars and caravan movers from Witter Towbars. If you're camping, you can also find some helpful tips in our 50 Things to Take Camping guide.

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