A bothy in the Scottish Highlands
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Accommodation options in the UK

Alongside the usual hotels, there are plenty of options when it comes to booking accommodation in the UK. Whether you're looking for dog-friendly cottages and farms stays, or a luxury getaway in a castle, you'll find a range of places to stay at every budget.

It’s not all castles and stately homes, some of the most beautiful places in the UK are best explored in non-static accommodation. These more unusual options include renting canal boats on the Norfolk Broads or the Caledonian Canal, or hiring a VW campervan to explore the wilds of Wales or Northern Scotland.

Pubs and coaching inns in the UK

A British institution, pubs are not just places to have a pint and a pork pie, they can also be a low-key place to stay overnight. It’s an easy way to support small businesses, experience a slice of local-life, and have amazing food and drinks on tap (not to mention not having to worry about driving home). ‘Stay in a Pub lists some of the best pub stays in Britain.

Popular hiking routes like Hadrian's Wall, the Cornish Coast, and the Cumbria Way, often cater to walkers with a luggage transfer service. Bed and Breakfasts, inns, and even local campsites will arrange for your baggage to be dropped off at your next stay.

Bothies in Scotland

In Scotland, bothies traditionally provide a free-to-use shelter for walkers and travellers. These often once-derelict buildings have been restored to provide a very basic shelter for visitors to remote locations.

Think of them like a tent with walls - there is no running water or sanitation (though some do provide a shovel). You can also bring your own wood to use the fireplace for heating in many bothies.

There are 83 public bothies in Scotland managed by the Mountain Bothies Association, simply find the location of one through their website and hope it’s not already occupied. You will also find the ‘Bothy Code’ on the site, a set of important rules to follow when staying in this unique accommodation option.

You can also find bothies in remote areas of Northern England, Northern Ireland and Wales. Some privately owned bothies have now been converted into slightly more comfortable versions of this Scottish wilderness icon too.

Other once public buildings like lighthouses, windmills, water towers, churches and even prison cells have also been converted into quirky accommodation options in the UK. More upmarket options include stays in castles, country houses and wilderness retreats.

Glamping in the UK

In more rural parts of the UK, ‘glamping pods’ and converted shepherds' huts are popular ways to experience the outdoors without pitching a tent. Yurts, bell tents and converted vehicles all make for excellent budget accommodation options.

Pitchup is a great place to look. But make sure to fully understand what is included before booking (cooking utensils, bedding etc.) as some can be quite basic.

Hiring a campervan in the UK

Another option to explore the more out-of-the-way destinations in the UK is to hire a campervan.

Caravanning has long been a popular option for UK residents and the islands are well set up with campsites that cater to every level.

Some of the UK’s roads can get narrow so it’s always best to plan routes in advance, or ask the campsite for directions if in doubt.

Budget accommodation in the UK

There are a number of budget chain hotels in the UK like Travelodge, Premier Inn, Z Hotels, and Holiday Inn. These often won’t show up on price comparison sites but are a great way to save on accommodation costs if you don’t mind the lack of character.

When it comes to hostels, the charity YHA has a network of over 150 affordable hostels throughout England and Wales.

House-sitting and home swaps are also common if you prefer to stay in one place for a longer time.

Holiday homes and self-catering cottages

Self-catering cottages come in all shapes and sizes, from luxury mansions to quaint townhouses. They are a great option if you want to stay somewhere homely, cook your own meals, or stay in a group or with family.

However, the UK’s beauty spots are affected by the growing number of holiday lets, Cornwall in particular has seen locals being priced out of their hometowns due to the popularity of holiday homes.

Housing prices in London have also skyrocketed in recent years, meaning it’s often unimaginable for local people to live in tourist areas. Some areas like the Lake District have set up schemes to only allow locals to buy property, with clauses that ban holiday-letting.

There is no easy solution, but often a small amount of research can reveal if the owners are themselves locals, or instead own multiple rental properties.

Sustainable and community-based accommodation

There are a growing number of eco-conscious accommodation options in the UK. From environmentally friendly practices at hotels and B&Bs, to low-impact farm stays and camping, you don’t have to spend a lot to be sustainable.

One of the UK’s biggest charities, the National Trust, have over 500 holiday cottages across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Staying in one of them helps conserve the buildings and landscapes that you are visiting.

Certified B Corp Canopy and Stars hunts out the best sustainable accommodation options in the UK, focusing on wild places and supporting the communities they work with through tourism.

Cool Stays is another booking site that ranks eco-friendly stays in the UK, while also trying to improve their own green credentials.

Accommodation costs in the UK

Accommodation prices in the UK can vary depending on the season. Expect to pay more in beauty spots and major cities, while quiet areas like the North East of England can be a lot cheaper.

  • Budget (including camping pods, shepherd huts, campervan hire, glamping, hostels): Under £100 per night

  • Mid-range (self-catering cottages, B&B’s, pubs): £100 – 300 per night

  • Luxury (hotels, castles etc): £300+ per night

Accommodation costs in London

Prices in London are heavily inflated when compared to the rest of the UK. In central London expect to pay over £100 per night for a basic room with a shared bathroom.

When looking for cheaper accommodation it’s best to stick to chain hostels like YHA or Wombats, as budget B&Bs can be in very poor condition - especially in central areas. Stay a little further out of ‘The City’ to save on costs and find better standards.

Accessible accommodation

The National Accessible Scheme (NAS) was created to assess the suitability of accommodation in the UK for various disabilities.

Visit England has a lot of handy resources for finding accessible accommodation. Information can be found on accommodation with ceiling hoists and handrails, accessible attractions and itineraries, as well as UK charities offering free wheelchair use.

Planning a trip to the UK? Read our UK travel guides

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Jo Williams

Author - Jo Williams

Jo Williams is a freelance writer with 10 years' experience working in travel and tourism. A Brit who got fed up with the 9 to 5 corporate life, she sold everything to become a full-time wanderer.

Jo has travelled to over 70 countries and worked throughout Europe for a major tour operator. She hopes to inspire you to work less and travel more.

Last Updated 7 February 2024

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