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Is hotel availability and high pricing affecting leisure and/or business rail travel?

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robbeech

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Initial comments : This does related to the pandemic but not away from the railway topic, feel free to move it to a different area if necessary.


Having been without "away" work for the last 12 months i am starting to get a few more bits filtering in that requires me to travel. As a little background and context, in 2018 i spent <90 nights in my own bed so i'm accustomed to hotel stays, protocols, and crucially, pricing structures.

My question(s) are, is there a link between rail travel and overnight stays where pricing has increased for one or both of them?

When i used to work up in Edinburgh (usually a few days at a time) i'd usually travel on day 0 and travel home the day after i'd finished, if not the day after. The hotel i used was usually about £50 a night (less during the winter), a 10 minute bus ride or 45 minute walk from the city centre. It was worth travelling the day before and staying the night after i finished (with a bonus night if i had time) because it wasn't expensive to stay there. Now its over £100 per night, and there are less train opportunities, and fewer advances (for now) so i find myself in a position where i will end up leaving the house at 0430 on day 1, and leaving Edinburgh to drive home at 2030 on the last day, and it will still cost me more in hotels that it used to. I can't use the train for this journey so the railway loses out on £100 or so.

I don't mind the drive to Edinburgh its around 5 and a bit hours + a rest in the middle and parking is easy and free where i need to be, i'd happily do this drive everytime, as its the same price as the train if i'm on my own, and immediately half the price of the train if i travel with a colleague). Trips to London are similar, my last journey opportunity home has been slashed by an hour meaning i have to stay overnight or drive now.

I've looked at a couple of purely leisure trips for me and my partner in a few weeks time with an overnight stay. Places we've stayed before and enjoyed, arrived by train etc. All of them are at least 50% more expensive, the train journeys are more difficult (though i appreciate some timetables aren't finalised yet) and lack of advances make it a little more expensive on the journeys i've checked but might be significant on other flows.

It's not a complaint as such , merely an observation
My question here is, has anyone seen similar? Has anyone looked at using a train and hotel combination and decided against it because of hotel prices? train prices? both? Has anyone decided to use the car instead of the train because the hotel price has made it unviable to stay?
Has anyone noticed the opposite?

Curious to know how things have affected peoples overnight stays, be it business or pleasure.
 
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raetiamann

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I suspect that some in hospitality will be hoping to see a significant surge in demand for hotel nights, particularly in high tourism areas and they may be correct. Experience would suggest however that the market will quickly find its own level. My daughter will be away on Sunday night and I was looking for a hotel for her and I found a few bargains.

Train fares do concern me though as they seem to have risen substantially pre lockdown and I'm not seeing any signs of reductions. I'm talking leisure travel specifically, looking at advance fares.
 

robbeech

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Train fares do concern me though as they seem to have risen substantially pre lockdown and I'm not seeing any signs of reductions. I'm talking leisure travel specifically, looking at advance fares.
Reduced confirmed capacity for seat reservation TOCS, reduced suggested capacity for counted place TOCS, reduced probable capacity for throw em all on and blame the passengers TOCS, means reduced number of advances for journeys. Reduced cooperation and differing methods between TOCS seems to have led to very few "and connections" advances being released. Add that to a reduced timetable and (for reasons i cannot fathom) short forming at a time where lengthening would be helpful and possible means apparent increases in prices.

It's possible the cheapest tiers just don't get released, it's possible that only 1 of each of the cheapest tiers are released meaning unless the first person searches for 1 passenger, it'll never be sold. With operators offering as little as 12 tickets per 75 seat carriage even now there's little wonder advances on Seat Reservation, and even counted place operators are thin on the ground.
 

trainophile

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I have noticed a lot of Premier Inns are now considerably cheaper than Travelodge in the same town or city. Have managed to find at least two 3-night trips to fairly popular places for £29 a night at PI, whereas TL have been over £100 for the same period. Of course you can get lucky with TL, and when you find them they are as low as £24.99 a night, but the trick then is to find a run of consecutive nights all cheap!

I'm also still finding UK B&Bs or private hotels for as little as £33 a night (on booking.com with Genius discount), but in the main yes they are dearer than the equivalent time last year. You can't really blame them.

Trains still affordable, although you have to do a lot of time-consuming research and be flexible about what times you can travel and by what route if you want the cheapest journey possible.
 

robbeech

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Perhaps i'm just unlucky with what i've looked at.

I do a lot of TL and PI (and other chain) booking for other people, and of course use them myself but if it's just me i have always tried to favour small independent places, the same as i do with pubs, restaurants, garages, shops etc. Local business and all that. I'll default to a chain when i'm booking for other people as some people prefer to know what they're getting rather than unknown....character.

With regard to multi night stays, one of the chains (can't remember which and don't know if they still do it) used to alter the price of each night based on how long you stayed, and i do NOT mean in favour of the guest. You could search for Friday for 1 night, Saturday for 1 night and Sunday for 1 night and get £50 £60 and £40, and then search for Friday for 3 nights and get £200.
 

Ianno87

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Reduced confirmed capacity for seat reservation TOCS, reduced suggested capacity for counted place TOCS, reduced probable capacity for throw em all on and blame the passengers TOCS, means reduced number of advances for journeys. Reduced cooperation and differing methods between TOCS seems to have led to very few "and connections" advances being released. Add that to a reduced timetable and (for reasons i cannot fathom) short forming at a time where lengthening would be helpful and possible means apparent increases in prices.

It's possible the cheapest tiers just don't get released, it's possible that only 1 of each of the cheapest tiers are released meaning unless the first person searches for 1 passenger, it'll never be sold. With operators offering as little as 12 tickets per 75 seat carriage even now there's little wonder advances on Seat Reservation, and even counted place operators are thin on the ground.

Yes, seems to be TOCs generally not releasing the cheapest tiers of Advances, due to the reduced social distancing capacity.
 

Butts

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I have noticed a lot of Premier Inns are now considerably cheaper than Travelodge in the same town or city. Have managed to find at least two 3-night trips to fairly popular places for £29 a night at PI, whereas TL have been over £100 for the same period. Of course you can get lucky with TL, and when you find them they are as low as £24.99 a night, but the trick then is to find a run of consecutive nights all cheap!

I'm also still finding UK B&Bs or private hotels for as little as £33 a night (on booking.com with Genius discount), but in the main yes they are dearer than the equivalent time last year. You can't really blame them.

Trains still affordable, although you have to do a lot of time-consuming research and be flexible about what times you can travel and by what route if you want the cheapest journey possible.

I must concur with the surprising price variation between Travelodge and Premier Inn in the latters favour.

£29pn near Heathrow Airport in a couple of weeks time for three consecutive nights at a Premier Inn.

Have also got reasonable rates (as part of BA package) at Express by Holiday Inn's in Newcastle, Belfast and Dublin over the course of the next four weeks. Bonus with them the rate includes Breakfast.

Trains, I have secured reasonably priced Advanced First Class Fares (with 2 Together Railcard) on Avanti from SAD to PRE and EUS.
 

Kite159

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There are a few bargains to be had, i.e. I booked the Travelodge in St Albans for a Saturday night at the start of June for £28 flex last night. Normally St Albans is quite expensive for hotels (although I believe that is a new build hotel).

Hotels in the prime tourist destinations for domestic holidays have increased in price due to an increase of demand.
 

Bletchleyite

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I do a lot of TL and PI (and other chain) booking for other people, and of course use them myself but if it's just me i have always tried to favour small independent places, the same as i do with pubs, restaurants, garages, shops etc. Local business and all that. I'll default to a chain when i'm booking for other people as some people prefer to know what they're getting rather than unknown....character.

Certainly I like to go for PI because the last thing I want if I'm rocking up late at night is quirks, I just want to get my key as quickly as possible (without worrying about early closure of reception) and plonk myself in a bed I know will be comfortable. Indeed, "you know what you're going to get" is their current advertising promotion.

I use TL occasionally, but every time I've used it I've wished I paid extra for PI, it really is rubbish in comparison and often the price difference is small. If PI is cheaper, bonus.
 

philjo

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A friend who books a lot of hotels for walking groups told me that in popular areas such as the Lake District, many have increased their prices by 20% this summer and have also hiked the single supplement for sole use of a double/twin room.
 

Bletchleyite

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A friend who books a lot of hotels for walking groups told me that in popular areas such as the Lake District, many have increased their prices by 20% this summer and have also hiked the single supplement for sole use of a double/twin room.

Hostels have been hit far, far harder than hotels, because they haven't been able to open fully since last March due to the shared accommodation and kitchens, so it's understandable that (as they are either small businesses or charity operated) they might need to up their prices to fill the hole that has left.

Hotels, once you close the restaurant and if you leave rooms empty between bookings, are really no different to a block of flats in terms of risk posed. (Which as an aside is why I'm surprised they are not open now).
 

Bald Rick

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Re advance rail fares - most operators are releasing tickets 6 weeks out at present, so anything further out than that may not have the full range of advance fares available. And as has been said, with reduced capacity on board due to social distancing, they will be pricing at a level where the trains will be ‘full’.

If the rules on social distancing change, then I would expect train operators to pretty quickly release more seats wher they can.

For hotels, my general view is that the chains are pricing cheap, but the independents are pricing high in anticipation of a surge in demand with staycations. Particularly in popular tourist spots, of which Edinburgh is one.

Normally St Albans is quite expensive for hotels (although I believe that is a new build hotel).

It is very new. St Albans has been short of hotel capacity for as long as I can remember - indeed one of the bigger ones shut down about 7-8 years ago and is now retirement flats. The Travelodge opened a few weeks ago and has a brand new pub underneath it. It’s a Young’s pub though, so may not be too popular with the discerning locals!
 

robbeech

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Certainly I like to go for PI because the last thing I want if I'm rocking up late at night is quirks, I just want to get my key as quickly as possible (without worrying about early closure of reception) and plonk myself in a bed I know will be comfortable. Indeed, "you know what you're going to get" is their current advertising promotion.

I use TL occasionally, but every time I've used it I've wished I paid extra for PI, it really is rubbish in comparison and often the price difference is small. If PI is cheaper, bonus.

I see this logic. Certainly my tendency to go with independent hotels is based upon the times when I have a more leisurely visit (work or otherwise) and I do tend to have a list of places I know for this purpose.
If I’m doing a late arrival or a single night in an unfamiliar location then I’ll take a safe bet with a chain wherever possible.
 

philosopher

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I must concur with the surprising price variation between Travelodge and Premier Inn in the latters favour.

£29pn near Heathrow Airport in a couple of weeks time for three consecutive nights at a Premier Inn.

Have also got reasonable rates (as part of BA package) at Express by Holiday Inn's in Newcastle, Belfast and Dublin over the course of the next four weeks. Bonus with them the rate includes Breakfast.

Trains, I have secured reasonably priced Advanced First Class Fares (with 2 Together Railcard) on Avanti from SAD to PRE and EUS.
I remember last year booking a 4 star Holiday Inn in Belfast over a weekend in September for £45 a night. I imagine such a hotel in normal circumstances would be quite a bit more expensive.
 

johntea

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Business...I'm generally in a hotel because either I have an event to get to or I'm on a training course so I want a half decent hotel close to the venue so I actually feel refreshed and ready to attend the event!

Leisure...I'm quite flexible, I once spent a week in London but ended up staying in Stevenage as the saving was like night and day even taking into account the rail fare to/from Stevenage (granted I had a railcard at the time), the Premier Inn there near the station is actually one of the best I've ever stayed in! South Mimms Premier Inn is also excellent and always cheap, Kings Cross to Potters Bar then a short bus or taxi journey...even has a major service station that you can walk to on foot in about 10 minutes if you fancy a expensive KFC at 3am :D

Travelodge / Premier Inn at £50 or below a night is usually my baseline, they consistently do the job of a bed and a shower which is all I need, I do like to try and support the more local businesses if I go to the seaside or whatever but you certainly have to do plenty of research before booking in some cases! (beware of fake reviews by the mates of the owners is all I'll say...) - there are some fantastic venues though such as The Almar in Scarborough, the trouble being they become very quickly fully booked up in the peak! I'm also rather addicted to watching that 'Four In A Bed' programme on Channel 4 ;)
 

43066

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Initial comments : This does related to the pandemic but not away from the railway topic, feel free to move it to a different area if necessary.


Having been without "away" work for the last 12 months i am starting to get a few more bits filtering in that requires me to travel. As a little background and context, in 2018 i spent <90 nights in my own bed so i'm accustomed to hotel stays, protocols, and crucially, pricing structures.

My question(s) are, is there a link between rail travel and overnight stays where pricing has increased for one or both of them?

When i used to work up in Edinburgh (usually a few days at a time) i'd usually travel on day 0 and travel home the day after i'd finished, if not the day after. The hotel i used was usually about £50 a night (less during the winter), a 10 minute bus ride or 45 minute walk from the city centre. It was worth travelling the day before and staying the night after i finished (with a bonus night if i had time) because it wasn't expensive to stay there. Now its over £100 per night, and there are less train opportunities, and fewer advances (for now) so i find myself in a position where i will end up leaving the house at 0430 on day 1, and leaving Edinburgh to drive home at 2030 on the last day, and it will still cost me more in hotels that it used to. I can't use the train for this journey so the railway loses out on £100 or so.

I don't mind the drive to Edinburgh its around 5 and a bit hours + a rest in the middle and parking is easy and free where i need to be, i'd happily do this drive everytime, as its the same price as the train if i'm on my own, and immediately half the price of the train if i travel with a colleague). Trips to London are similar, my last journey opportunity home has been slashed by an hour meaning i have to stay overnight or drive now.

I've looked at a couple of purely leisure trips for me and my partner in a few weeks time with an overnight stay. Places we've stayed before and enjoyed, arrived by train etc. All of them are at least 50% more expensive, the train journeys are more difficult (though i appreciate some timetables aren't finalised yet) and lack of advances make it a little more expensive on the journeys i've checked but might be significant on other flows.

It's not a complaint as such , merely an observation
My question here is, has anyone seen similar? Has anyone looked at using a train and hotel combination and decided against it because of hotel prices? train prices? both? Has anyone decided to use the car instead of the train because the hotel price has made it unviable to stay?
Has anyone noticed the opposite?

Curious to know how things have affected peoples overnight stays, be it business or pleasure.

I’ve certainly noticed amid my staycation planning that hotel prices in the U.K. have markedly increased, to the point where many are now bordering on Micky taking and indulging in blatant profiteering. As to whether this is affecting rail travel, I have no idea, but it can’t be helping.

I’d imagine the business market is less affected as it’s generally a lot less price sensitive than leisure. Certainly in my experience of it (in a former life) we would be bought open returns and stay in Malmaison type properties, which are far from the cheapest. That said, I get the impression that frivolously expensive business travel is cracked down on a lot more these days, and Covid will only have encouraged that.

It is very new. St Albans has been short of hotel capacity for as long as I can remember - indeed one of the bigger ones shut down about 7-8 years ago and is now retirement flats. The Travelodge opened a few weeks ago and has a brand new pub underneath it. It’s a Young’s pub though, so may not be too popular with the discerning locals!

I’ve always wondered what the customer base is for hotels in southeastern suburban locations such as St Albans (as nice as it is). It’s not really a tourist hotspot in the way Oxford and Cambridge are, and I would assume most business travellers would stay closer to central London.

As for pubs, you could do worse than a Young’s, although I’d prefer a Sam Smith’s!
 
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bramling

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I’ve certainly noticed amid my staycation planning that hotel prices in the U.K. have markedly increased, to the point where many are now bordering on Micky taking and indulging in blatant profiteering. As to whether this is affecting rail travel, I have no idea, but it can’t be helping.

I’d imagine the business market is less affected as it’s generally a lot less price sensitive than leisure. Certainly in my experience of it (in a former life) we would be bought open returns and stay in Malmaison type properties, which are far from the cheapest. That said, I get the impression that frivolously expensive business travel is cracked down on a lot more these days, and Covid will only have encouraged that.



I’ve always wondered what the customer base is for hotels in southeastern suburban locations such as St Albans (as nice as it is). It’s not really a tourist hotspot in the way Oxford and Cambridge are, and I would assume most business travellers would stay closer to central London.

As for pubs, you could do worse than a Young’s, although I’d prefer a Sam Smith’s!

For the price of UK hotels, it’s simply economics unfortunately. One can either look at it that demand for UK holidays will have increased massively (due to lack of foreign holidays) whilst supply of UK holidays has remained broadly constant, or an alternative view is that supply of holidays in general has fallen massively (due to foreign holidays being de-facto unavailable) whilst demand for holidays in general will have remained broadly constant - or perhaps even increased slightly due to pent-up demand. Either way, this will push the price up to a much higher equilibrium than normal, with price being the rationing device as it always is for everything.

Thankfully my June and July holidays were booked in good time, and for our September one we will simply choose somewhere well off the tourist trail. A good time to take a holiday somewhere like Port Talbot?!

As regards London area hotels, I’ve wondered same. There’s even talk of a Travelodge opening up in Stevenage of all places. I gather there is believed to be a market for people who would stay outside London in order to get a cheaper price, and then travel in. Seems crazy to me, but allegedly Travelodge were (pre Covid) heavily pushing this. Naturally that strategy might now be a bit of a dead duck...

I guess the trouble with a central London hotel is there’s unlikely to be parking, so if you can get one in suburbia with a car park then it’s much less of a headache to stay there and have a journey like half an hour to central London on Thameslink when required.
 
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leedslad82

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I was planning a leisure trip to London. I found hotel and air b n b prices had been hiked and cheapest train on lner from leeds was over £100 each return. So decided not to bother and just going to have a few days out from home. Could have got flixbus which was £4.98 return for both of us but didn't fancy 4 hours on a coach wearing my mask
 

dk1

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A friend who books a lot of hotels for walking groups told me that in popular areas such as the Lake District, many have increased their prices by 20% this summer and have also hiked the single supplement for sole use of a double/twin room.
The hotel I usually book in Torquay is around £1250 per week. It’s coming in at £1039 for 4 nights on separate dates this Summer.
 

Watershed

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As a slightly contrary point of data, Travelodge and Premier Inn have been regularly offering rooms for around £30 a night during recent months. You might have expected that during the period where leisure stays were forbidden, but this largely remains the case in Scotland and Wales, even though leisure stays are now endorsed there. For example, looking for a stay tomorrow (Friday) night, plenty of Premier Inn hotels are showing around the £30-40 mark in both Cardiff and Edinburgh.
 

Bald Rick

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I’ve always wondered what the customer base is for hotels in southeastern suburban locations such as St Albans (as nice as it is). It’s not really a tourist hotspot in the way Oxford and Cambridge are, and I would assume most business travellers would stay closer to central London.

As for pubs, you could do worse than a Young’s, although I’d prefer a Sam Smith’s!

People on business, Foreign tourists looking for a quick trip out of London, and not a few older couples looking to go somewhere different, or, increasingly, visiting their grown up children (+ grandchildren) and staying close where there’s ‘no room at the inn’ . At least that’s what mine use them for!

As for Sam Smith’s, I’d rather go without!
 

Skymonster

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Hotels in the prime tourist destinations for domestic holidays have increased in price due to an increase of demand.
Yes, very much so. I get that they want to recover some lost revenue, but some are pricing way above what might have been expected even in pre-covid times and some so high people will not bother. And then when foreign travel is easier again, those same people won't even consider the UK on the basis they perceive it to be expensive / overpriced. This year, UK hoteliers should be doing all they can to encourage domestic holidays as a means of building market awareness and loyalty going forward, not pricing themselves out of consideration.
 

Horizon22

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Yes, very much so. I get that they want to recover some lost revenue, but some are pricing way above what might have been expected even in pre-covid times and some so high people will not bother. And then when foreign travel is easier again, those same people won't even consider the UK on the basis they perceive it to be expensive / overpriced. This year, UK hoteliers should be doing all they can to encourage domestic holidays as a means of building market awareness and loyalty going forward, not pricing themselves out of consideration.

I guess the fact that we've had "forced" demand essentially with the reduction of summer holidays is that they can probably cope with the people who will pay the extra which balances out those who won't bother.
 

johntea

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As regards London area hotels, I’ve wondered same. There’s even talk of a Travelodge opening up in Stevenage of all places. I gather there is believed to be a market for people who would stay outside London in order to get a cheaper price, and then travel in. Seems crazy to me, but allegedly Travelodge were (pre Covid) heavily pushing this. Naturally that strategy might now be a bit of a dead duck...

I guess the trouble with a central London hotel is there’s unlikely to be parking, so if you can get one in suburbia with a car park then it’s much less of a headache to stay there and have a journey like half an hour to central London on Thameslink when required.

I suspect this is the reason why the Hertfordshire hotels are so popular, straight off the motorway, park your car and forget about it, jump on a 20 minute train into Central London

Although the area around Stevenage station is already pretty well served so not sure where Travelodge would plan to stick something up

stevenage.PNG
 

peters

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I have noticed a lot of Premier Inns are now considerably cheaper than Travelodge in the same town or city.

I found Premier Inn rooms in Bristol for £29 a night last week (breakfast excluded), which suggests they have plenty of places for the dates I searched for. I couldn't find a bargain like that in the Mendips but still possible to find double rooms for £60 a night there.
 

Taunton

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We found in the West Country last year that hotel prices had substantially increased during the summer time when travel was permitted, compared to the previous year. It was coupled with a distinct downturn in standards of service as well.

The Eden Project still charging full admission, but only when you got inside did you discover whole items had been closed off was a typical example. Restaurants which only had half staff but were stuffed full with people waiting for the kitchen. Grumpiness all round.
 

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I think they are going to do everything they can to recoup their profit margin - lower customer service, higher room rates etc. Whether this will be sustainable long term when customers are " wise" to it remains to be seen ( and they have alternatives again).
 

Silver Cobra

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For the price of UK hotels, it’s simply economics unfortunately. One can either look at it that demand for UK holidays will have increased massively (due to lack of foreign holidays) whilst supply of UK holidays has remained broadly constant, or an alternative view is that supply of holidays in general has fallen massively (due to foreign holidays being de-facto unavailable) whilst demand for holidays in general will have remained broadly constant - or perhaps even increased slightly due to pent-up demand. Either way, this will push the price up to a much higher equilibrium than normal, with price being the rationing device as it always is for everything.

Thankfully my June and July holidays were booked in good time, and for our September one we will simply choose somewhere well off the tourist trail. A good time to take a holiday somewhere like Port Talbot?!

Likewise for myself, I'm glad I put down money on a stay at the Travelodge in Lowestoft during the first week of August back at the end of March. For four nights, I paid £285 for their flexi-rate (considerably more than the £175 I paid last year for 6 nights, but of course last year was quite a blip due to the early stages of the pandemic), but checking it today they now want £418 for the same four nights, which is nearly a 50% hike. The nearby Premier Inn is at £432 for the same four nights. While the saver rate at both reduces the cost to around £355-360, I wouldn't trust booking in a way that's not refundable right now.
 

Wolfie

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I’ve certainly noticed amid my staycation planning that hotel prices in the U.K. have markedly increased, to the point where many are now bordering on Micky taking and indulging in blatant profiteering. As to whether this is affecting rail travel, I have no idea, but it can’t be helping.

I’d imagine the business market is less affected as it’s generally a lot less price sensitive than leisure. Certainly in my experience of it (in a former life) we would be bought open returns and stay in Malmaison type properties, which are far from the cheapest. That said, I get the impression that frivolously expensive business travel is cracked down on a lot more these days, and Covid will only have encouraged that.



I’ve always wondered what the customer base is for hotels in southeastern suburban locations such as St Albans (as nice as it is). It’s not really a tourist hotspot in the way Oxford and Cambridge are, and I would assume most business travellers would stay closer to central London.

As for pubs, you could do worse than a Young’s, although I’d prefer a Sam Smith’s!
Young's are now just a bloody expensive pub owning company. They long since got out of brewing.
 
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