Many of us have been affected by recent political events and fluctuations in the world’s financial markets, and so too have our travel budgets. However thanks to a number of unique accommodation options which could help you reduce the cost of your vacation by over a third, there’s never been a better time to travel to Great Britain.
For many travelers, hotels and B & Bs remain the most popular choice of accommodation. Yet for those looking to maximise their budget and make the most of their time away, they aren’t necessarily the most economical and don’t always provide the most quintessentially British escape.
When searching for accommodation options in Britain, why not think outside the box and consider one of these alternatives?
Rent a flat or home
Having lived in England myself it feels a bit unnatural for me to stay in a hotel. I like to reminisce about life in my old flat while living like a local. If you want to experience life as a Briton, renting a flat is one way to go.
Not only can it be cheaper than a hotel room but with access to a kitchen, you'll save on the cost of eating out for every meal. Remember to fact in those savings if you are thinking about renting a flat compared to a hotel room. I have used both www.vrbo.com and www.homeaway.com to book my flats and I highly recommend them.
House and Pet Sit
The appeal of this option is that it’s completely free. For those looking to maximise their budget and experience a real British welcome by living like a local, securing free accommodation by choosing to house and pet sit is the ideal option.
Instead of checking into a hotel or paying over the odds for a rental, you can stay for free in homes all over Britain. Reduce the cost of your stay in the U.K. by over a third and help pet owners find peace of mind while they are away from home. You could secure a sit and care for a cat in a country cottage, or enjoy spending a week caring for a dog in one of the U.K.’s most popular tourist destinations. Take a look at the opportunities currently listed on TrustedHousesitters, you’ll likely be inspired to visit a part of Britain you’d never have considered before!
If house and pet sitting doesn’t fit with your itinerary and a flat rental is still too much for your budget then consider renting a room or a bed-sit. This is especially suited for people traveling alone or with a partner. (Room rentals are not normally an attractive option for families.) These rooms are usually found in someone’s home and may only consist of a bed and wardrobe. If your room is not en-suite, then you may have to share access to a bathroom with others but in some cases you may have access to the home’s kitchen as well.
The cost of a room rental can be two-thirds to one half the price of a hotel room - just be mindful of location. Residential homes with bed-sits are more likely to be found in the suburbs or outside city centres so remember to factor in the cost of additional travel when considering your budget. Room rentals can be found at www.airbnb.com and at the flat rental sites listed above.
Hostel or Dormitory Room
Hostels (sometimes referred to as “backpackers’ hostels” in the UK) have long been an inexpensive option for young travellers but now individuals as old as 80 are using them. At one time hosteling meant you slept in a bunk bed in a room with eight strangers and shared the same shower facilities but in the last few years the quality of available amenities has improved. Now some hostels offer private rooms, private showers and free breakfast. Most hostels include a lounge with shared amenities like a TV and a computer and some include a shared kitchen for self-catering.
Two good resources for finding a hostel are www.hostels.com and www.hostelworld.com. (Universities also let out empty dormitory rooms outside of term time. Check with individual schools for prices, available amenities and safety questions or visit www.university-rooms.com.)
Home or Cottage Rental
This option may be more appealing if you have a family, are traveling in a large group or wish to stay outside a city. Perhaps your aim is to spend a few days exploring the English countryside? Why not rent a quintessentially English cottage in a lovely English village? Need more head room? Then let out a two-up, two down house which is more commonly owned by English residents. Get a real feel for day to day life in modern Britain. For holiday home and cottage rentals, check out HolidayHome Rental and Cottages4U.
Another free accommodation option with a home exchange you simply find someone who is willing to exchange their home in Great Britain for yours whilst on holiday. When planning, the biggest hurdle will be finding someone with travel dates that match up with yours in the location you want, but if you can do it, this seems like a great way to go. Check out HomeExchange.com to learn more about home exchanges.
When planning your holiday to the U.K., don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone and consider different accommodation options. Not only could you save money, but living like a local means you may gain some cultural experiences that you will have missed with some of the more traditional choices.
Melissa Stoey is the author of Smitten by Britain- the world's first blog for Britophiles (people who love Great Britain.) She used to live in England and is a lifelong Britophile who enjoys sharing her passion for Blighty with others. At Smitten by Britain, Melissa writes about the people, places and things that make Britain great.