Since April 12, overnight stays in self-contained accommodation in England with members of a person’s household or bubble have been allowed, opening up the door to staycations in the UK once more.
The UK Short Term Accommodation Association (STAA), the trade body representing the fast-growing short-let sector in the UK, has highlighted the relevant government guidelines to enable consumers to make informed and compliant decisions about where to take a break or holiday in the UK this spring.
The STAA has also suggested six top tips to help people make the most of the opportunities the UK hospitality sector can offer them for their holidays or short breaks from April 12 onwards:
Take a series of City breaks – there’s a unique opportunity now for people to visit towns and cities across the country without the crowds, queues and traffic that usually accompanies international tourists. Many cities like London, Bath, York, Edinburgh and Cardiff have introduced European-style outdoor café and restaurant seating to make it a much more engaging experience, which will make city breaks more appealing especially as we are about to see temperatures rise and spring in full swing.
Visit friends and family you haven’t seen for months – you’ll be able to reacquaint yourself with your loved ones by renting a self-contained property close to where your friends and relatives live. You’ll be able to host a household or up to 6 people outside in the garden of your rented property and go on walks with them. Having a whole property to yourself means that all the family (and in some instances pets) will be able to sleep comfortably.
Arrange a belated Valentine’s trip away – having perhaps been denied a romantic excursion in February, now might be a great opportunity for Cupid’s arrow to be fired in a direction away from home. Whether it’s a young couple that has been living apart, a married couple escaping the walls of their own home or an older couple who have been prevented from having their annual winter sun trip away, there are a variety of country cottages, city centre apartments and coastal houses available to rekindle the romance!
Work away from home – with people not needing to go into their places of work, with a good broadband connection, more people can ‘up sticks’ and spend much longer than usual away from home, relocating to a destination where they can combine their work with a holiday or short break and indulge in some exciting pastimes such as hill-walking, kite-surfing, cycling or even wild swimming.
Spend like you would on a holiday abroad – feedback from people who took their holidays in the UK last summer suggests that you should treat your time away in the UK in much the same way as you would if you were going abroad when it comes to spending your money. Don’t treat it as a compromise or as a second choice, spend your money on eating out or takeaways, and buy from local shops and attractions. It will help boost the local economies and make it a more enjoyable and memorable trip.
Stay Covid-19 safe and look for the ‘Good to go’ accreditation – with Covid-19 still a risk, self-contained properties are perhaps the safest and most convenient type of holiday accommodation available under current social distancing guidelines. All of the STAA’s members have implemented the industry-wide cleaning protocols established last year to ensure that properties are clean and safe. Properties that display the official ‘Good to Go’ accreditation from Visit England show that they are following government and industry guidelines.
The STAA says the key guidelines consumers need to be aware of in regard to renting a property are:
Self-contained accommodation is open for leisure stays – these properties are defined as having facilities such as kitchens, bathrooms and access points that are restricted to the exclusive use of the single household or bubble that is renting it. Examples are cottages, chalets and whole houses. A reception area is not treated as a shared facility or indoor communal area for check-in purposes.
Accommodation on a park or complex can open as long as they are not reliant on sharing facilities – this means that in addition to ‘self-contained accommodation’ (listed above), holiday parks, yurts, holiday boats and motels can also be booked for a leisure stay provided guests don’t need to share facilities like bathrooms, shower blocks or kitchens.
Merilee Karr, chair of the STAA, said: “After months of not being able to fully open to the public for leisure stays, the industry is gearing up to welcome back guests for their well-deserved holidays and short breaks. With the restrictions on foreign travel likely to continue for some months yet, the UK staycation can provide people with a high-quality replacement that should quench their thirst for some time away from homes that they have stayed in for far too long!”
She added: “The combination of good spring weather and the huge variety that Britain has to offer should make it a great time for many to see parts of the country they hadn’t previously visited. And the opening of self-contained accommodation will enable many people to see family and friends that they haven’t seen for a long time whist at the same time complying with the government guidelines and staying safe from Covid-19.”
Karr went on: “City breaks offer people something different and, without the crowds of international visitors, it could be a great time to see the sights that our towns and cities offer in great abundance. Our members are chomping at the bit to welcome back guests and we hope their experiences will mean that the hospitality sector and local economies can recover some of the lost income from the last 12 months and that the UK staycation becomes a reinvigorated staple of our annual holiday plans.”