Booking.com Reveals the UK’s Most Welcoming Destinations for a sociable and wallet-friendly twist on your next staycation
Travel is bouncing back in 2023, and research from Booking.com shows we are keen to get back out there, uncover new destinations and make memories with friends, old and new, as 66% of Brits report that travelling will always be worth it.
To celebrate this, Booking.com is unveiling the UK’s Most Welcoming Destinations for 2023** as part of its Traveller Reviews Awards for 2023 along with some budget friendly travel hacks to help inspire your next trip and make your holiday budget stretch further. So, whether you’re looking to explore a new corner of the UK, or are trying to save a few pounds by holidaying closer to home, read on for suggestions for things to do and places to stay in the UK’s most welcoming destinations along with some budget friendly tips for when you’re travelling!
Up one spot from last year into the number one position, Kirkwall is the largest town in the Orkney archipelago, off the north coast of Scotland, and is the former site of an ancient Norse town. Soak up the Viking history and heritage, and wallow in the stunning natural beauty and local wildlife on one of the island’s many nature or beach walks – this destination has something for everyone, and you’ll soon see why it’s in the number one position. With so much natural beauty and stunning nature on your doorstep you won’t need to spend much money to enjoy yourself here!
Where to stay: Highland Park House
Set in an impressive Victorian mansion and furnished throughout with antiques, Highland Park House is located in the countryside, a short drive from Kirkwall town centre, and the UNESCO World Heritage Site, The Ring of Brodgar. Surrounding the property are panoramic coastal views, hills to climb and beaches to stroll along. Receiving consistently high reviews, this property offers comfortable beds, a full Scottish breakfast, and a warm welcome to all guests. It also hosts a programme of events, including art courses and tours.
Enniskillen, County Fermanagh
Enniskillen, in Northern Ireland is another location holding its ground in the top five from 2022 – and no wonder, it’s stunning! Located in the centre of County Fermanagh, Enniskillen is surrounded by picturesque scenery, vast lakes, and natural beauty. When you’ve had your fill of landscapes and walks – or if you need a wet-weather option – you can visit a castle, gallery, museum, or even a cosy café, and soak up Enniskillen’s warm hospitality. Be at one with nature in the countryside, boost your mental health and unwind in this pretty town, where you’ll soon forget you haven’t actually left the UK!
Where to stay: Willowbank House
Surrounded by water, it’s no surprise that there are fifteen fishing piers within 350 yards of Willowbank House B&B! Wake up to a delicious home-cooked and locally sourced breakfast whilst you admire the views of Lough Erne from the property, then spend the day exploring the local area. If fishing’s not your thing, try exploring the nearby Marble Arch Caves, visit Enniskillen Castle, or take a trip to Devenish Island. You won’t have to travel far to see the best of the area, and you’ll soon see why Enniskillen keeps featuring in Booking.com’s top destinations year on year.
Pitlochry – Perthshire
Lying on the River Tummel, Pitlochry is on the edge of the Cairngorms National Park, which is great for hiking in the summer and skiing in the winter. So, if you’re looking for a ski trip without breaking the bank, you may find a ski staycation is cheaper than flying abroad.
Where to stay: Craigmhor Lodge & Courtyard
Travel Sustainable Property
Craigmhor Lodge and Courtyard has won multiple awards – and on visiting you’ll soon see why. Located in private woodland, this period property puts you at the heart of nature in the centre of Pitlochry. Admire the mountain views from the sun terrace, take a stroll by a fast-flowing river, go for a bike ride or a round of golf at Pitlochry Golf Course, just a two-minute drive from the property. Your hosts will extend a warm welcome each morning, offering guests a delicious traditional cooked breakfast, and can even arrange picnic hampers for you to take out for a day in the mountains.
Glastonbury – Somerset
Heading south from the highlands, we arrive in Glastonbury – another of our top-ten destinations. Firmly on the map from festival fame, you’ll soon discover this pretty Somerset village has lots to offer budget-conscious visitors. Take a hike up Glastonbury Tor, visit the ancient and medieval sites or let the friendly locals regale you with stories of the myths surrounding them!
Where to stay: Orchard Farm Luxury Glamping
Travel Sustainable Property
Get back to nature in these stunning luxury glamping units, which feature private patios, and all the mod-cons – it won’t feel much like camping at all! Set in a beautiful, leafy, green site in Butleigh, just outside Glastonbury town, the area is popular with golfers, twitchers, and hikers. Why not hire a bike and explore the local area for some family fun on a budget, or take a day trip to nearby Bristol, Bath or Weston-Super-Mare whilst you’re in the area? This property is also included in the Early 2023 Deal, so book now for a discount on stays between 1st January and 31st March!
Stamford – Lincolnshire
Boasting pretty 17th century buildings and no fewer than five medieval churches, Stamford in Lincolnshire is a charming and picturesque town famed for its church spires. There’s a bustling high-street, an annual international horse show in nearby Burghley House, and Rutland Water, Europe's largest man-made lake, is just over the county border. It will be no surprise to locals that their pretty hometown has made it into this year’s top ten.
Where to stay: Old Bank Apartments
The stylish, modern interiors of Old Bank Apartments contrast nicely with the town’s rich history and old buildings. Make Stamford your base to explore the local area, which offers good hiking and cycling opportunities in the surrounding area. Sound a bit too energetic for you? Take a visit to nearly Burghley House or host a dinner party in the fully equipped kitchen in your apartment – it’s cheaper than eating out and a great money saving holiday tip!
Savvy Saving Tips for Travellers
1. Embrace spontaneity: Those looking to bag a travel bargain should look for late and last minute deals, such as Booking.com’s Early 2023 Deals. Discounts start at 15 percent at participating properties indicated by the “Early 2023 Deals'' badge and are valid for stays with check-out on or before 31st March 2023.
2. Travel mid-week: Not only is a midweek getaway one of the best opportunities to grab a deal but can also be a savvy way to avoid the crowds. Those looking for a peaceful, penny-pinching break will enjoy the quieter pace and, as there’s less demand, travellers are more likely to save on their stay.
3. Give them the cold shoulder: Those travellers looking to get away could consider cheaper options during the destination's shoulder-season, by visiting popular spots at less expected times. Get creative with your journeys by considering off-season destinations to make your money stretch further.
4. Streamline your travel: Booking everything in one place can be a great way to maximise on loyalty schemes and deals on offer when booking too. A proven tactic for the 56% of travellers* who will optimise their app and loyalty schemes for their 2023 travels. Booking.com Genius members can unlock new levels and get access to a lifetime of discounts and travel rewards that never expire.
*Travel Predictions 2023 research commissioned by Booking.com and conducted among a sample of adults who plan to travel for business or leisure in the next 12-24 months. In total 24,179 respondents across 32 countries and territories were polled (including 1014 from Argentina, 1006 from Australia, 505 from Austria, 504 from Belgium, 1009 from Brazil, 503 from Canada, 1009 from China, 1010 from Colombia, 505 from Croatia, 505 from Denmark, 1010 from France, 1001 from Germany, 500 from Hong Kong, 1005 from India, 504 from Ireland, 504 from Israel, 1008 from Italy, 1003 from Japan, 504 from Mexico, 502 from The Netherlands, 1007 from New Zealand, 1009 from Portugal, 507 from Singapore, 1008 from South Korea, 1001 from Spain, 505 from Sweden, 508 from Switzerland, 500 from Taiwan, 504 from Thailand, 1006 from the UK, 1009 from the US and 504 from Vietnam). Respondents completed an online survey in August 2022.
**To be recognised with an award in the UK, destinations had to have at least 50 eligible accommodations to be included in this list and were sorted by the highest share of award recipients per destination. Only customers that have actually stayed at an accommodation, rented a car or rode in a taxi can leave a review of their experience on Booking.com. As these reviews are never edited or adjusted in any way, travellers can reference them for an authentic account of what the real traveller experience is like at every place to stay or with every ground transport provider on Booking.com. The most welcoming destinations globally include those destinations that have a large number of awarded properties, offering a huge amount of choice to travellers from all over the world. Meanwhile, those recognised at a country level have a high proportion of awarded properties for the size of the town or city, enabling us to celebrate some more off the beaten track/smaller destinations.