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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Chee

Why Travelling Local is Still One of 2023's Top Trends – According to the Experts

Why travel anywhere else? Explore the beauty of travelling locally through luxury homestay platforms with trusted property owners. Feel at home in carefully selected holiday houses, ranging from luxury cottages to grand, sprawling manors. These websites allow you to curate your perfect holiday through their properties to create unforgettable memories in the comfort of your home away from home. We have spoken to individuals from luxury homestay rental websites, who have made a business through this increasingly popular option.


Unique Holiday Stays, Director Emilie Marlow

Photos from uniqueholidaystays.co.uk

Unique Holiday Stays is an online renting website, ranging from quaint to extravagant properties across the UK, France and Mykonos.


What do you search for in a unique stay when deciding upon properties?


At Unique Holiday Stays, we look for properties that offer guests a premium and memorable experience. That ‘special something’ could be the location, a historical or architectural feature, a bold interior or simply a combination of luxurious gadgets and extras. Stunning seafront properties, hot tubs, swimming pools, and off grid experiences are all examples of features we look for when expanding our portfolio.



Why do you think people are optioning to travel locally?


Prior to the pandemic, we saw a real resurgence in UK-based holidays. Many of our guests are multi-generational families or friends meeting together to celebrate occasions such as a wedding, anniversary, or milestone birthday. For many, it's more convenient to search for a unique property in the UK because for some guests, travelling long distance isn’t an option. The convenience of staycations in general has also been heightened by the pandemic. The ease of being able to coordinate a domestic short break with friends or larger groups can be a project in itself, so opting to travel locally has almost become the ‘new norm’. Having a choice of unique stays so close to home makes it much easier for people than travelling abroad and this is why our properties are so popular.


Why would you recommend travelling locally to others?


Our properties give people the opportunity to explore parts of their home country they may not have ventured to before. In the UK we have stunning landscapes, historical towns, and beautiful properties where people can visit and create their own treasured memories together – there is so much we haven’t discovered yet.



A great example is one of our properties – Watch Hill. The breath-taking Georgian seaside manor house is incredibly unique and gives our guests an experience they couldn’t get outside of the UK. Many of our guests are also celebrating sentimental occasions with friends or family who they may not have seen for a while. So, travelling locally provides that ease for people to come together more often.


Oliver's Travels, Founder Oliver Bell

Photos from oliverstravels.com

Oliver's Travels is a homestay renting website, focusing on luxury properties worldwide.


Why would you recommend travelling locally to others?


The idea behind Oliver’s Travels is to live like a local. When you stay in a home that has an owner from the area, you get a more authentic experience on holiday and the added benefit of their local knowledge.


Green travel also continues to be a hot topic with more and more travellers wanting to do their bit for the environment. When you swap out short-haul flights for train journeys instead, it not only has a much lower ecological impact but also guests can make the most of their journey by enjoying the beautiful scenery. We have curated an excellent Sustainable Collection of homes that can be reached by train which makes them perfect for those wanting to watch their footprint when they travel.


The company is also taking crucial steps to lower our carbon footprint such as encouraging our guests to eat local produce which is why so many of our villas provide produce from their vegetable gardens or are within walking distance to amenities.


At Oliver’s Travels, we have a dedicated concierge service which can organise all sorts of fantastic extras to your holiday that includes booking local activities, bike and vehicle hire and great recommendations for the area, among many other services. This allows customers to really live like a local.



What do you search for in a unique stay when deciding upon properties?


Our tagline is ‘Why do Ordinary’ – we focus on characterful, quirky and unique properties which differentiate us from other players in the industry.


All our properties have been personally inspected by our team and have received our ‘seal of approval’. This is our checklist of ten essentials that every property must have. This includes being in a beautiful location, having a unique and charming character and quirky touches that make the holiday home one of a kind. We also look for at least 5 fun features whether this is a hot tub or outdoor games we make sure there is something for everyone. Most importantly though, we look for the Wow Factor. Each property on our website has to have something to make it truly spectacular. This could be a stunning view or a striking architectural feature, but we make sure everyone benefits from a ‘Wow’ moment.


How has the popularity of homestays changed over the past couple of years?


As a business, Oliver’s Travels is continuing to grow which is fantastic for us. In fact, in 2022 we sent over 100,000 people off on holiday to our homes around the world! There is still a huge demand for UK properties as well, and I think since the pandemic we all have a newfound love for exploring Britain and this will only continue, especially with the majority of people having the flexibility of working from home and going into the office.


A recent focus for us has been to increase our domestic travel offering so we can accommodate the increased demand for staycations. At Oliver’s Travels, we have taken the time to get to know the coasts, forests, and chocolate box towns of the UK, so we can offer a range of staycations from cosy cottages in England to grand castles in the rolling countryside of Scotland and quirky barn conversions the stunning mountain foothills in Wales - we have something for everyone.



Unique Homestays

Photos from uniquehomestays.com

Unique Homestays is a renting website focused on luxury self-catering holidays, ranging from cottages to country houses across the UK and Ireland.


Why would you recommend travelling locally to others?


At Unique Homestays, we champion the luxury of off-the-beaten-path staycations here in the UK. That a holiday; be it one of relaxation, adventure, or celebration, can be just as (if not more) memorable on home soil, as it can be in a far-flung destination. We seek out hidden gem homes in breathtaking locations that cannot be found or booked elsewhere.

We have it all

In Britain, we are fortunate to have the array of areas that we do and can offer a destination for nearly all kinds of desires. Hot summers at the beach in Cornwall where azure waters and white sands rival that of the Caribbean, charming chocolate-box villages in The Cotswolds that give those in Provence a run for their money, and majestic mountainous beauty spots in Wales, Scotland and Ireland where you can put on the walking boots, wetsuit, or skis (come winter) and enjoy a real heart-pounding adventure.

Nostalgia

Travelling locally is a great way for people to explore areas that are rich with memory and nostalgia – be it your favourite beachside town from childhood, the city in which you found independence at university, or that special place you sojourned on your first romantic getaway. When it comes down to it, it’s those precious, simple moments during holidays that you remember and cherish. And it’s clear to see that you don’t need to jump on a plane to create those.

Friends and family

Another huge positive about travelling locally is being closer to friends and family, so why not invite them along too? Our most enjoyable and memorable holidays are usually thanks to the people in them. At Unique Homestays, we saw a big rise in large group get-togethers in the post-pandemic world, which is why we created our house party collection; comprising sleeps 9+ holiday homes, perfectly suited to large gatherings of friends and family. Milestone birthdays, anniversaries, summer holidays and Dickens-style Christmases; these are our most popular reasons people get together.

Environment

Finally, the planet is a huge factor to consider when choosing to travel locally or further afield. Staying closer to home is a proactive step towards contributing to the welfare of the planet; swapping a long-haul flight for more environmentally-friendly options like a short train ride. Many of our homes incorporate EV chargers, which supports an increasing number of guests choosing to travel by electric car. We are passionate about sustainability at Unique Homestays, from incorporating eco technologies to green toiletries, so those wanting to travel locally across the British Isles are encouraged to peruse our eco-friendly collection.


What do you search for in a unique stay when deciding upon properties?


At Unique Homestays, our experienced property team takes a specific approach when welcoming a new property to the portfolio, with each successful arrival being handpicked for its ‘uniqueness’; taking into account inspiring design, a breath-taking location, luxurious and plentiful facilities, plus peace and privacy for guests. Every home is personally visited by the team to assess its suitability, with less than half of all new member enquiries making it through to the visit stage, and only a handful of those making the final grade. With 180 homes as part of the ever-evolving collection, guests can be confident in the fact that each and every Unique Homestays property really is special.

How has the popularity of homestays changed over the past couple of years?


The pandemic saw a huge surge in interest in close-to-home holidays which continued far after travel restrictions eased. In 2022, Unique Homestays had its most successful year in 21 years of business; both financially for our property owners and achieving the highest overall occupancy showing demand had never been higher.

Rail and airport strikes have not helped in promoting the return of overseas breaks either. Luxury travellers have been willing to spend more on high-end escapes in the knowledge the service and property will be of a standard that’s second to none. We have seen increased demand for more remote locations such as Wales and Scotland, and other AONBS. Cornwall and the Devon coast remain sought-after destinations long-standing.

Data from market research firm Mintel showed that in 2019, Britons paid out £14 billion on UK holidays. Since then, the rising cost of living and value of the pound may also be contributing to people wanting to stay close to home. American private equity company Blackstone, for example, is investing £170 million into holiday UK parks.

Times may be uncertain, but if one thing is for sure then it’s that people have opened their eyes to what’s on the doorstep. Celebrities investing in second homes and UK breaks have helped shine a light on the glamour a UK break can bring. You really don’t have to travel far for luxury if you’re lucky enough to live in the UK.



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