Hotels.com price index charts Royal Wedding effect

The average cost of a hotel room in the UK fell by 1% in the first half of the year to £82 a night, according to a new study from Hotels.com.


However, several towns and cities near London and in popular tourist destinations saw an above average percentage rise year on year, according to the latest Hotel Price Index.


The faltering economy, the relative weakness of sterling, one-off events such as the Royal Wedding and popular culture, including TV programmes and pop concerts, were cited as among the factors influencing the cost of a room for UK travellers.


London was the most popular destination for overseas visitors followed by Edinburgh and Manchester. The capital was also the most popular destination for domestic travellers ahead of Manchester, Edinburgh, Birmingham and Glasgow.


The average room cost in London rose 3% to £113 with the city at full capacity for events such as the Chelsea Flower Show and the Wimbledon tennis tournament.


More than half of all visits to the UK include a London component and the capital’s continuing popularity and higher prices in general forced visitors to look elsewhere for accommodation, according to the survey.


This trend led to some “pronounced” price rises in towns close to the city with the room rates in Watford up 27% to £70, High Wycombe up 16% to £62 and Stevenage up 13% to £53.


This was particularly evident during the Royal Wedding in April with both foreign and domestic travellers seeking cheaper hotels outside London and commuting in for the day.


Many of the traditional tourist destinations saw price rises, with Cambridge up 6% to £100 and York up 5% to £88. The popularity of Oxford led to a 5% increase to £103.


The buoyancy of the leisure hotel sector and traditional seaside resorts saw double-digit percentage price rises such as Scarborough up 18% to £60 and Southend-on-Sea up 12% to £85 – it’s popularity enhanced by the ITV reality show The Only Way Is Essex.


The low value of the pound and a squeeze on household budgets both acted to bolster domestic demand.


There were also rises in Channel Island destinations with St Peter Port in Guernsey up 4% to £115 and St Helier on Jersey up 6% to £110.


The Lake District also remained popular with Bowness-on-Windermere at £134 a night having the highest average hotel price in Britain for domestic travellers.


But hotel prices in many of the largest cities stayed relatively flat with the average room rate in Newcastle-upon-Tyne the same as last year at £81. There was a 1% fall in Liverpool to £77 and a 1% rise in Leeds to £67.


The Take That tour boosted occupancy rates in June which contributed to a 1% rise in venue cities such as Manchester, Cardiff and Glasgow.


Hotels.com marketing vice president Matt Walls said: “The overall 1% fall in UK hotel prices made domestic hotels attractive to British consumers struggling with rising inflation and shrinking household income.


“The sector was also boosted by the relative weakness of the pound which led to an influx of foreign visitors and many popular tourist destinations actually saw some significant price increases as demand increased.


“A mixture of factors influenced UK prices in the first half of the year from the economy through to one-off events and popular culture but the average room rate of £82 still represented great value for consumers.”


He added: “The Royal Wedding was good news for the national hotel market although many of the places which benefited were around London as visitors sought value outside the capital. This could be a factor next year during the Diamond Jubilee celebrations and Olympics.”

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