A study by consumer group Which? indicated prices have been hiked in 10 of the UK’s most visited beach destinations, including St Ives, Whitby, Llandudno and Brighton, when booked via accommodation booking platforms Airbnb and Vrbo.
People in England could be permitted to stay in self-contained accommodation such as holiday lets from April 12 under Boris Johnson’s road map for easing lockdown restrictions.
Foreign holidays – which may be allowed from May 17 – are likely to involve several restrictions and requirements such as coronavirus testing and self-isolation periods, leading to many preferring to book staycations instead.
Researchers from Which? looked at prices for a total of 15 properties on Airbnb and Vrbo.
The cost of stays in July and August is typically 35 per cent higher now than if the equivalent dates last summer were booked during May and June 2020.
A one-bedroom maisonette in Brighton had the largest mark up, increasing in price from £53 per night to £127 per night.
The cost of a one-week stay at a property in Llandudno has risen from £427 to £596, while seven nights in a property on St Ives has gone from £860 to £1,263. Some price rises were more modest, with a one-bedroom cottage in Scarborough just seven per cent more expensive this summer.
Airbnb described the analysis as “misleading” and claimed research has shown guests feel the firm 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.
Bridlington hotelier Tim Norman said rates were slightly higher if people booked via the online platforms they use, which include Expedia, but said they needed to cover the “massive” commissions they charged.
However prices haven’t gone up at his hotel, the Royal Hotel, on Shaftesbury Road, in the past two years.
Mr Norman said: “Although we’d love to put our prices up 35 per cent we are not going to. People have been struggling this last year and we know they want to come away for a wonderful seaside break. The best way to do that is to ensure they don’t feel they are being ripped off.”
Which? is encouraging consumers booking a staycation to choose a flexible accommodation provider that has committed to offering full cash refunds or no-fee rebooking if a trip cannot go ahead due to coronavirus.
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.
He advised people booking holidays to make sure they choose a provider who offers fair and flexible booking terms in case they cannot travel as expected.
Owner of the Belfry B&B in Whitby’s West Cliff, Phill Hesketh, said they had put their prices up by just £3 per room, saying they valued their many repeat guests.
He said: “They supported us during the pandemic – we had to refund very few bookings. There was probably £20,000 worth of deposits that were moved and that’s all because our current guests trust us. We look after them, they look after us.”