What tempts UK travellers to stay in unique accommodation?

17th April 2019

It’s no surprise to us at eviivo that there is more value in staying at independent, quirky places than run-of-the-mill chain hotels – we’ve been banging on about it for years! Apparently, 21% of UK travellers are planning to book alternative accommodation in 2019*, which shows that the impetus is there for the market of unique accommodations.

So what exactly is ‘alternative accommodation’? We define it as any sort of place to stay that possesses something extra or different to your average hotel or B&B. This could range from a B&B in a converted windmill, to a property offering yoga on horseback or a boutique hotel where every room has its own theme inspired by destinations around the world… it could be anything, really, as long as it’s quirky!

Recently, on the back of this trend, Airbnb launched a promotion for a lucky guest to win a stay in the world-famous Louvre Museum in Paris for one night. This truly is a unique place to stay!

In more quirky accommodation news, Prince Charles has begun a project to transform the Castle of Mey into a 10-room bed and breakfast. It is the most northerly inhabited castle on the British mainland which the Queen Mother used when visiting friends in the Highlands mourning the death of her husband, King George VI, in 1952. Steeped in history, this renovation will open up a piece of royal history to the public and make a lovely place to stay!

Digging deeper into this trend, Booking.com conducted extensive research into what inspires British travellers to book an alternative place to stay. Booking.com’s UK Regional Director, Joost Vermeulen, said, “We are seeing a clear trend among UK travellers to try unique types of accommodation, and we understand that the perfect stay may look different for each of them.”

When it comes to what customers want from their accommodation, 26% of UK travellers want to stay surrounded by wildlife or reconnect with nature, whilst 43% of UK travellers want to live like a local when booking accommodation*, which is great news for independent properties, apartment vacation rentals and accommodation in rural areas.

Interestingly, 20% of UK travellers like statement accommodation to impress their friends and seem like a trendsetter*. This is quite a modern concept, in the age of Instagram influencers, where there is a trend in parading one’s life across social media. It follows, then, that 20% of UK travellers want to stay in attractive properties to share on Instagram and the like. But how long will this trend last? 27% of UK travellers plan to stay at least once in a unique accommodation like a castle or treehouse* – does that mean a one-time-only foray into the world of quirky B&Bs?

eviivo’s Quirkiest Place to Stay award was created in order to cater to the growing proportion of independent accommodations that offer something different from the usual hotel crowd. Being different means offering the guest a unique experience, and is for that reason a great selling point. Stand out from the crowd and you’ll reap the rewards in satisfied customers.

Winner of Quirkiest Place to Stay in 2018, Houseboat Harbourside View, Isle of Wight, have a fascinating story behind its conception, which you can listen to in an interview with them here. In 2017, Castle Levan won the title. We went to see them in the summer to find out how they were getting on using evvivo suite:

These properties won the title of Quirkiest Place to Stay because they each have something unique to offer guests that can’t be found elsewhere. So, will alternative accommodation continue to gain popularity? Or is this trend just a flash in the pan? We think it’s here to stay, and are rolling out initiatives like National B&B Week to raise awareness of the independent accommodation sector, and make sure the sector keeps on growing.

Sponsored by eviivo, National B&B Week is an awareness-raising exercise intended to encourage more holidaymakers to book a stay in a B&B or independent property across Britain. To demonstrate what these unique and individual properties have to offer and to celebrate the week, B&Bs have been creating National B&B Week themed offers for guests booking a stay between 18th-24th March. Whilst there are many discounts on offer, participants raised the bar this year and are proving just how quirky they are with some eye-catching offers, including discounts for fancy dress, and free, unlimited ice cream!

The event had backing from Parliament as well as hundreds of B&Bs, hotels, pubs with rooms and brands big and small in the travel industry. Michael Ellis, the UK Minister for Arts, Heritage, and Tourism, commented on B&B Week:

“Our B&Bs are world-class. Four of TripAdvisor’s top five B&Bs in the world are in Britain and this is something that we want to capitalise on. Britain is open for business and National B&B Week is a great opportunity for us to showcase this dynamic sector. I hope we can encourage even more people to support British tourism and experience the superb places on offer all across the nation.”

Will UK holidaymakers continue to be adventurous? From these statistics, it’s clear that us Brits are becoming more intrepid when it comes to holidays, and with the age of social media as ingrained as it is, it’s more than likely that unique and quirky places to stay will garner even more popularity in the years to come.

*Statistics from Insights.ehotelier.com

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