Struggling to book a staycation retreat this summer? Don’t despair – these specialist homestay firms could open the door
- An inspector checks Plum Guide properties against a 150-point set of criteria
- There are more than 1,000 family-friendly properties listed on Kid & Coe
- With more than 7million properties, Airbnb is the go-to for holiday rentals
Families reunited: Today, there are hundreds of homestay properties in the UK (and farther afield) at varying prices
Stories of holiday cottage prices rising by up to 70 per cent a year have raised eyebrows — and blood pressure.
With so few travel options abroad that don’t require quarantine on return to the UK, it’s no surprise that staycations are more popular than ever.
The problem is, cottages have been booked months in advance, as have hotels, campsites and B&Bs. The result? Prices have shot up.
Which leaves homestays — staying at properties that for part of the year are real homes unavailable for rent, or second homes/apartments that owners have decided to offer to holidaymakers.
Today, there are hundreds of properties in the UK (and farther afield) at varying prices, often listed on lettings websites.
So here’s our guide to the home rental market.
All companies we mention offer Covid-19 compliant sanitisation.
AMERICAN PIONEER: Vrbo (vrbo.co.uk)
Millwood Manor in Dalton-in-Furness, which sleeps 12, from £2,103 for three nights. It is available as a holiday rental on Vrbo
One of the bedrooms inside Millwood Manor. The property has good availability in June and September and some in July and August
Vacation Rentals by Owner was founded in the U.S. in 1995. Specificity is the selling point here — as houses, apartments, farmhouses, chalets, estates, caravans, cottages, bungalows, studios and houseboats (and many more) can be selected. There are two million properties; you must book for at least a week.
The average price in London works out at £72pp per night; in Edinburgh £52pp. Best value UK destinations are Great Yarmouth (£23pp) and Bodmin (£29pp).
GOOD TO KNOW: Digital payment isn’t mandatory; some hosts want a posted cheque.
PICK OF THE BUNCH: Three nights at Millwood Manor, Dalton-in-Furness, which sleeps 12, from £2,103. Good availability in June and September, some in July and August.
HIGH LIFE: The Plum Guide (theplumguide.com)
Great getaway: Babbling Brooks, a three-bedroom property in Lancashire, which has availability all summer
Inside Babbling Brooks, which is available on The Plum Guide. An inspector checks prospective property inclusions for the guide against a 150-point set of criteria
This is aimed at the discerning traveller. An inspector checks prospective property inclusions against a 150-point set of criteria, so places with dodgy showers, limited kitchen utensils and slow wi-fi won’t make the cut.
Only 3 per cent of properties inspected are selected. It operates in ten countries including the UK, Italy, France, Portugal and the U.S.
GOOD TO KNOW: The highest price in London is £8,008 per night and the lowest £87.
PICK OF THE BUNCH: Five nights at three-bedroom Babbling Brooks, in Lancashire, from £1,444. Availability all summer.
REFINED: onefinestay (onefinestay.com)
Inside a three-bedroom house in the west London area of Chiswick, which is available to book on onefinestay
Three nights at the house starts from £1,005 and there is availability all summer
The vast Accor Hotels Group owns onefinestay, the Plum Guide’s main competitor for high-end properties.
The website is split into the ‘city collection’ (London, Paris, New York) and the ‘villa collection’ (including St Barts, St John, and Turks and Caicos). In the UK the company operates only in London.
GOOD TO KNOW: Guests can earn points for Accor Hotels.
PICK OF THE BUNCH: Three nights in a three-bedroom house in Chiswick from £1,005. Availability all summer.
KEEP IT REAL: Homestay (homestay.com)
A home in Miserden in the Cotswolds that’s bookable through Homestay
As home rental websites get larger, increasing numbers of professionally managed properties have popped up.
Homestay, founded in 2013, hopes to bring back people’s early experiences of companies such as Airbnb, when they only offered rooms in homes that were in use by the owners.
It focuses on being budget-friendly and has 33,000 offerings, operating in 160 countries at an average price of £24 a night.
GOOD TO KNOW: Only individual rooms can be rented, which may be less popular because of Covid.
PICK OF THE BUNCH: Seven nights at a home in the village of Miserden, in the Cotswolds, from £504, sleeping four. Availability all summer.
FAMILY FAVES: Kid & Coe (kidandcoe.com)
There are more than 1,000 family-friendly properties in 50 locations listed on the website Kid & Coe. Pictured is one of them, The Victory Residence in Kingsdown, Kent
Inside The Victory Residence. Four nights at the four-bedroom property starts from £1,000. It has good availability in June and July
Families head to the same resorts year after year because they are reliable. Kid & Coe hopes to provide the same reassurance when it comes to holiday homes. There are more than 1,000 properties in 50 locations including the UK, France, Portugal, the U.S. and Mexico. All are suited to families with children. Each listing has details of bed types, toys, activities and even decor.
GOOD TO KNOW: There are categories including best for babies and toddlers, older children, all-inclusive and coastal escapes.
PICK OF THE BUNCH: Four nights at four-bedroom The Victory Residence in Kingsdown, Kent, from £1,000. Good availability in June and July.
THE BIGGEST: Airbnb (airbnb.co.uk)
Four nights at five-bedroom Broadgate in the Lake District starts from £252. It is available to book on Airbnb
One of the bedrooms at Broadgate, which has availability throughout the summer
With more than seven million properties worldwide, Airbnb has become the go-to for holiday rentals. Naturally, there is huge variety regarding location, size and house type (entire properties or a single room).
GOOD TO KNOW: Airbnb has partnered with British Airways, so you can earn Avios points on stays.
PICK OF THE BUNCH: Four nights at five-bedroom Broadgate, in the Lake District, from £252. Availability all summer.
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