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Staycations lifted U.K. hotel performance during a much different summer. What’s next?

July and August are two of the most important months for hotels in the United Kingdom with travelers spread across the country as part of their summer holidays. However, it is no secret that summer looked much different this time around due to the global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As more recent performance reflects the return to school and continued lack of corporate and events business, we look back at the impact of leisure holidays on the U.K. summer then look ahead with data powered by Forward STAR.

At the time of writing this blog, new lockdown measures were being announced thanks to high alert levels in London, Manchester, and several other areas in the country. This further complicates the performance picture moving forward and highlights the need for benchmarking the future.

Staycation impact

The U.K.’s 57% occupancy level for the week ending 30 August was its highest since lockdown began. Thanks to summer holidays, leisure markets were the driving force behind rising occupancy levels. On Saturday, 29 August, the U.K. Regional market reached an occupancy level as high as 75.7%.

Data for the same week showed occupancy at just 35% in London, indicating some demand flowing into hotels, but at a limited rate. During the bank holiday, London posted an occupancy level as high as 48.7% on 29 August. This indicated more demand driven by domestic sources.

London occupancy spike

Occupancy on the books

Looking ahead, London is interesting due to guest tendency to book at the last minute. Thanks to leisure travel, especially from domestic sources, London’s occupancy on the books (as of 5 October) sat at just 14% for 31 October.

London occ on the books

Among submarkets, City and Shoreditch stand out in bookings for the coming months. However, it is important to note that guest tendency to cancel at the last minute could pull levels downward. Occupancy on the books in the submarket (as of 5 October) came in at 22% for 24 October—the highest levels in occupancy on the books for the next 90 days are during the weekends, specially Saturday, as we’ve seen in other markets around the world.

On the other hand, West End occupancy on the books (as of 5 October) was just 10% for 24 October. Unfortunately, cancellations continued to be prevalent towards the end of the month.

Last-minute pickup on the rise

As mentioned, last-minute bookings have been on the rise in London. Pickup for the next 83 days (as of 5 October) sat mostly below 1%.

At the same time, pickup for the rest of 2020 fell off due to continued uncertainty and increased capacity allowing for shorter booking times.

London pickup

Occupancy-on-the-books intelligence will help pinpoint recovery and provide much-needed context. Those insights can be accessed for free when you submit your data. If you are interested, please email