A guide to accommodation in the UK
UK accommodation covers all bases, from ancient cottages amongst manicured gardens to metropolitan five star hotels. Whether you’re travelling on a budget or you’re prepared to splash out, there are options available to suit almost every traveller.
The UK encompasses England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales; all of which host weather and landscapes that can be harsh and unforgiving. However, one thing many of them have in common is warm hospitality, with good ale.
Key accommodation considerations for the UK
Hotels and resorts
For those who enjoy a bit of traditional elegance, some of the most famous hotels in the world can be found in the UK. The iconic Savoy Hotel in London, with its English Edwardian and Art Deco charm, and famous high tea, offers rooms from 400GBP per night. In London, you could also choose Claridge’s, The Dorchester, The Ritz, or The Goring – the options for old world glamour and timeless luxury are enough to satisfy any discerning traveller.
Establishments like these will often have a host of staff such as porters, maid service and butlers, but unlike the USA tipping isn’t expected as such. A rough guideline to keep in mind is that if you feel the service is excellent or has gone beyond the job’s requirements, then a tip is appropriate. If you’re unsure, you can ask the concierge for advice.
If you’re heading out of the major cities, country retreats and manors are a popular option for a bit of luxury. Getting there can be an adventure, but many can also arrange for private cars with chauffeurs for an extra cost. If you’re travelling by rental vehicle, be sure to check if parking is available first, and if there are extra costs involved. Generally, you can expect to pay for extra luxuries, of which there are many available.
Hostels are a popular form of budget accommodation throughout the UK and they’re a great way to meet new friends on holiday. Most hostels will have options of larger or smaller bunk rooms, often with female only dorm rooms too. Many hostels even offer double rooms, for couples who want privacy on a budget. Be aware that linen and towels are usually provided, but may cost extra, so it’s worth checking this when you book.
As with any shared accommodation, hostels require a little bit of extra care when it comes to your belongings. Check before you book that the hostel has lockable storage available to guests and make sure that you leave your belongings locked away if you’re heading out. If locker storage isn’t available, keep your belongings on you, tucked away safely.
Another budget accommodation option that’s ideal for families is camping and holiday parks. These can be found throughout the UK and often in picturesque locations. Many also have stationary caravans or units available for rent, for those who don’t have tents available to use. If you’re staying in a tent, do not leave valuable items unattended when you’re out exploring.
Bed and breakfasts
A bed and breakfast (BnB) is a great option if you want a first-hand taste of good old British culture, as this usually involves staying in a family home or cottage. There are many BnBs all over the UK, run by regular people who open their homes, and kitchens, to visitors. These offer great value as breakfast is usually included and the buildings usually have plenty of history to go with them. It’s also a great way to get local knowledge of the area.
Since you’re staying in someone’s home, it’s worth knowing some basic rules around etiquette:
- Breakfast is usually served in a communal area, so expect home cooked food and polite conversation with other guests.
- If you’re arriving late, it’s always a good idea to get in touch with the BnB in advance to let them know.
- It is likely there will be other guests staying at the establishment, so noise curfews are often implemented.
For a different unique experience, there are also pub accommodation options. Like BnBs, these are usually smaller in size and offer food as part of the package – it is a pub, after all! Although pub accommodation isn’t technically a home, many of the managers of these establishments do live on the premises, so a level of respect fitting someone’s home is important.
Do your research
When it comes to accommodation, location makes a big difference - whether you want to be close to certain attractions or simply near a tube stop. Before booking accommodation, do some research on the neighbourhood it’s in to ensure it’s convenient and safe, especially if it’s in a larger city. Googling the neighbourhood can be a great way to determine whether there’s anything to make you reconsider your choice.
Fake booking websites
Imagine turning up to your destination, only to find your pre-paid accommodation doesn’t have your booking, or worse, doesn’t exist at all! Unfortunately, fake booking sites do exist, so try to stick to a booking site you know and trust, or book directly with the hotel. Watch out for sites with the hotel name in the URL (that aren’t the official hotel website) or sites that are advertising a property for a considerably lower rate than elsewhere. Basically, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
Checking travel websites like TripAdvisor for guest reviews can help to ensure you get what you want and that your accommodation meets your needs. Check that the host has local contact details and is a legitimate accommodation provider. Additionally, always make sure you read the fine print before booking so you don’t arrive to any nasty surprises.
Book a room with a safe or secure locker facilities whenever you can, and leave your valuables in the safe whenever you don’t need them with you. You can count on most accommodation providers in the UK to have safes available, but if you’re unsure, check before booking. If you’re taking anything irreplaceable with you, consider leaving it at home instead.
Couchsurfing, Airbnb and similar websites are an increasingly popular choice for travellers, but it’s important to be aware that your travel insurance may not cover this kind of accommodation. Our policy is designed to provide cover for unexpected events, and it isn’t unexpected that your belongings could be stolen if you are staying with a stranger. Read more about the risks associated with Airbnb and how you can stay safe when using this website to book accommodation.
If you do want to book your accommodation through sites such as Airbnb, there are still options available. Choosing the option to book an ‘entire home’ means that if your stuff is stolen or lost, you are more likely to be covered. If there isn’t a safe at the accommodation, it may be better to keep any valuables on you when you’re travelling.
If you are staying in shared accommodation, take the same precautions as you would in a hostel. Ensure your valuables are locked securely away and kept out of sight. If there isn’t a suitable option for securing your valuables, always keep them on you.
If your personal items are stolen from your accommodation, report it to the local police straight away and get a statement that proves the incident took place. You’ll need this document when it comes to making a claim. Get into the habit of keeping receipts for any valuable items that you’re likely to travel with, as we’ll also need to see these when you make a claim.
When you arrive at your accommodation, it pays to make sure you get what you’re promised upon check in. Carry a copy of your booking with you, as it can help to rectify any discrepancies between what you expect and what you receive.
Unfortunately, if you turn up to your accommodation and decide it just isn’t as pretty or spacious as you expected, your International Comprehensive travel insurance policy will not cover any cancellation costs based on these reasons. Make sure you read online reviews and check it has all the facilities you need before you book.
When you leave, make sure you check the bill properly for any unexpected extras before you pay. Gratuities can also appear on the bill, so always check with reception if you’re unsure about additional costs.
Last, but certainly not least, book your travel insurance as soon as you book your accommodation and flights. That way, your pre-paid costs are likely to be covered if something unexpected happens which prevents you from travelling, such as a family emergency or natural disaster.
The content of this article is general and provided for information purposes only. It is not intended to be medical advice. Southern Cross Travel Insurance (SCTI) doesn’t guarantee or warrant the accuracy, completeness or currency of the articles.
This article may contain hyperlinks to other websites owned or operated by third parties, or references to third party products or services. SCTI isn’t responsible for, and makes no recommendation about, the content or accuracy of any third party website, or for the suitability or performance of any product or service. The inclusion of a link in this article doesn’t imply that SCTI endorses the website or third party product/service.