Five Reasons To Ditch All Inclusive and Stay In Independent Accomodation On Your Next Family Holiday

A great little AirBnB find in the Lake District – only £60 a night in June!

1. It can often be cheaper.

Okay, if you’re trying to book a cottage in central St Ives, Cornwall in the middle of summer it probably won’t be. But there are loads of places that are just outside of the main tourist towns, or just outside a national park or area of outstanding natural beauty and they can be a bargain. For example a cottage in the Brecon Beacons National Park can easily cost £150 plus a night, but staying in the (still gorgeous) land around the park can be as little as £50 to £60 a night. Most holiday parks and hotels will be in the high tourist areas, so come with the higher price tag. You’re often paying for facilities you might not even use as well, like a gym and spa. If you’ve got kids and you’re doing a staycation you’ve probably taken the car, so you can get a real bargain by staying just slightly off the beaten track.

2. Your kids can’t emotionally blackmail you into taking them to the disco every night.

I’m sure there are people that love this kind of kids entertainment. They will say that I’m crazy and it’s great to let a giant orange dog entertain your kids whilst you have a well earned gin and tonic. Well earned? I’m in a giant cavernous room with an over zealous, giant orange dog, fifty other children and AgafuckgingDoo has just started. No amount alcohol is going make this okay. It’s your holiday too, and the likihood is you’ve already spent the day in penny arcades and stood around whilst they bob up and down on one of those shit £2 rides outside a tat shop so skip the crazy orange dog and have a gin and tonic in peace whilst your kids happily play on the trampoline in the garden.

3. You will spend less on food and eat more healthily with a supermarket delivery

If you stay in a hotel or holiday park the temptation is there to eat in the restaurant every night or get room service, and if they have an onsite shop, you’re likely to find yourself paying £1.40 for a can of Tango. Unless you’ve decided to holiday in the Outer Hebrides, there’s a high likihood that one of the large supermarkets deliver. Last summer Alex and I stayed in the Lake District. Our cottage was on the top of a fell and we had absolutely no neighbours except the farm our hosts lived in. Both ASDA and TESCO still delivered there. You can order your shopping online before you leave and arrange for it to be delivered a few hours after your arrival. This is much cheaper than eating out every night, and also allows you to limit junk food in the evenings (if you don’t order any, they can’t ask for it!). I know some people don’t like the idea of cooking when they’re on holiday, but even if you buy convenience foods like ready made pastas etc, you’ll still save money compared with going out. And who doesn’t enjoy a barbeque as the rain starts threaten on holiday?

4. It offers more flexibility

A hotel or resort is likely to offer certain accomodation, all of which is very similar, just larger or smaller. There isn’t really that much difference between a chalet on one park compared with another when comparing like for like prices. It can take a bit of time to seek it out, but with independent accomodation you can usually get almost spot on what you’re looking for.

  • Want a modern apartment?
  • A traditional thatched cottage?
  • Need a microwave for sterilising bottles?
  • Want to take your Perfect Prep machine and baby food processor*?
  • Is a hot tub a must?
  • Do you want the kids to have swings or a slide to play on?
  • Want to take the dog?
  • Need to be on a bus route?

You can basically pop all of your requirements into websites like airbnb or and it will throw up only the properties that suit your exact requirements. If you don’t have time to search, cottage companies like Sykes Cottages customer services teams can help narrow down your search (you will pay more commission using companies like this compared with say, AirBnB, but it may be worth it to save you time).

*It’s always best to check with your hosts that it’s okay to bring your own electricals

5. You will do more to support the local economy

I do get why people like places like Butlins or Center Parcs. Everything you possibly need is right there for you to have a full week’s holiday. Many people can spend their entire holiday inside the walls of a park or resort, especially those who go all inclusive. And this is fine, but you’re not doing much to support the economy of the area you’re visiting. In order for our tourist trade to thrive, we need to spend money at the local fish and chip shop, not on a pizza from the american chain inside the resort. If you stay in independent accomodation you’re more likely to rely on local tourist attractions, cafes and shops rather than spending all of your money with one large multi-million pound corporation and its kid’s club who charged you £1.40 for that can of Tango earlier.

Alex and Ivor relaxing in reception at SACO Eden Locke, Edinburgh

Some websites to get you started:

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