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Five ways to save on your next UK holiday

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With the cost-of-living crisis leaving less money in the household budget for fun holiday breaks, a staycation still has appeal.

You can cut your costs further, for example, by picking up the phone to book accommodation or by planning earlier mealtimes.

Trying to book your next UK trip may have you feeling sticker shock, but the consumer organisation Which? is suggesting ways to trim hundreds of pounds from your final bill.

Ele Clark, Which? money expert, said: “With all the travel chaos we witnessed last summer plus the recent ferry port issues, it’s no surprise that many of us are looking for a holiday in the UK this year. Although the cost of living is adding pressure to household budgets, there are ways to save money on a staycation.

“Looking even just a few miles beyond your preferred location can result in significant savings. You might also get a lower price or free extras by booking your hotel directly, while the opposite is true for car hire, where using a trusted broker could be much cheaper than going direct.”

Here are five top tips from Which?:

Comparison shop

It pays to look around before booking a place for a longer stay. Which? suggests browsing online comparison sites to find substantial cumulative savings over a stay of several days. (Some sites offer better deals than others, it said.)

Avoid the obvious destination 

Being flexible about where you choose to spend your holiday can go far to shrink the overall cost. Trade that famous location for a similar one nearby and you can save more than £900 on a one-week stay. Which? found that the average cost of a hotel room in Salcombe in Devon was £265 per night but less than an hour away in Dartmouth it rang up at  £136 per night.

Pick up the phone

Once you find a place you like online, it’s still a good idea to contact the B&B or hotel directly to see if they can offer a better deal. And if they won’t budge on price, try to negotiate perks – like free breakfast or a welcome cocktail. Which? Said this is often successful because of something called rate disparity clauses that mean hotels can’t list lower prices on their own sites but that doesn’t preclude them offering a better deal by email or phone.

As an example. Which? found a superior double room at The George Hotel on Loch Fyne in Argyll and Bute listed on for £215. But when it rang the property directly, it was offered the same room on the same date for £190, a saving of £25.

Book early if you need to hire a car

Which? found that you not only got a better price the earlier you book a hire car, you can often find a better deal when booking via a broker that might toss in a few freebies.

Which? said its recommended broker Zest Car Rental included excess reimbursement insurance and, often, a second driver at no extra charge. For example, Which? scanned prices for picking up a car in Bristol for a week in June. It said Zest quoted £735 including a second driver with the rental company Dollar. But booking the same car for the same week directly with Dollar came to £744 and cost another £10 a day if you wanted that extra driver.

Seek out dining deals

Another way to save is to ask whether nearby restaurants offer a set-menu deal and which time of day it might be offered: it could be just for lunch or only on certain days of the week, but it could include the same food at a lower price.

Which? found a main meal on the fine dining menu at The Witchery by the Castle in Edinburgh for around £80 per couple, but a two-course candlelit lunch for two people from noon to 4.30 p.m. for just under £60. 

Don’t overlook chain restaurants, it added, citing Côte in Covent Garden as offering a three-course set menu for £20.95 if you dined from noon to 7pm.