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Falling hotel prices make city breaks cheaper across Europe

Press release   •   Aug 29, 2020 00:00 BST

Post Office report reveals that prices are lower than last year in two-thirds of cities

City Costs Barometer (www.postoffice.co.uk/citycosts) also reports price falls from pre-lockdown levels in 92% of cities that are exempt from Government quarantine rules

Hotel costs have plunged since lockdown: falls of over 20 per cent found in 14 cities

Eastern European cities dominate best value top 10: Vilnius and Warsaw are cheapest

Lisbon returns to top 10 and is joined there by Porto and Athens in Western Europe

Belfast is in top 10 and best value of the four UK capitals with Edinburgh in second place

UK holidaymakers who are considering a break this autumn in cities whose countries are on the Government’s quarantine exemption list can look forward to seeing their pounds stretch further in many of Europe’s most popular cities – thanks largely to sharp falls in average hotel prices since the Covid-19 pandemic took hold in March. In a best value barometer dominated by Eastern Europe and led by Vilnius and Warsaw, Post Office Travel Money’s annual City Costs Barometer found that prices are as much as 26 per cent lower than a year ago and have also dropped by up to 26 per cent on pre-lockdown levels in early March.

Prices for 50 cities were researched in March, when the report was intended for publication but delayed by Covid-19. All 50 were price-checked in August but the Post Office decided to focus on 24 cities which are not subject to UK quarantine or other countries’ restrictions1.

The City Costs Barometer reveals that prices are lower than a year ago in two thirds of cities2, with the biggest falls of almost 26 per cent in Reykjavik and Oslo. Barometer costs also fell significantly in Belfast (-23.7 per cent) and Dublin (-19.3 per cent).

The Post Office found that even more cities – 22 (92 per cent) of the 24 surveyed - saw falls in their barometer cost3 when prices researched in August for meals, drinks, city transport, sightseeing and accommodation were compared with those collected before lockdown in March. Italian cities – Rome (-20 per cent), Milan (-18 per cent) and Verona (-18 per cent) - saw some of the biggest drops but the biggest fall of 25.5 per cent was in Dublin.

A key factor in the price falls has been greater hotel availability, which has led to more competition and lower room rates. Only two cities (Athens and Katowice) registered rises in the average cost of two nights’ three-star accommodation compared with March. By comparison, prices plunged over 20 per cent in 12 cities led by Dublin, Belfast and Rome4.

Eastern Europe dominates the City Costs Barometer top 10, taking seven places. With just a pound separating them, Vilnius (£166.36) and Warsaw (£167.43) are cheapest of the 24 cities.

Warsaw is one of three Polish cities to make the City Costs Barometer top 10. Krakow, previously a number one city in the barometer, is in seventh place with a barometer cost of £206.92, while Katowice, an emerging city break destination and new to the report this year, is in third place with a score of £170.04.

  • With Portugal newly added to the list of countries exempt from quarantine, Lisbon has re-entered the top 10 in fourth position (up from last year’s 14) with a year-on-year price fall of 8.4 per cent. Its barometer basket is now £192.36. Portugal’s second city, Porto (£199.38), is just behind in fifth place, although prices have risen almost 13 per cent since last year.

Slovakia’s capital Bratislava (6th, £206.92) retains its top 10 place while Estonian capital Tallinn (£235.45) is in eighth place and one of several cities to see a fall in meal prices since lockdown. A drop of over £20 in the cost of a meal for two helped it return to the top ten for the first time in five years.

Athens (£239.24) is another Western European city returning to the top 10, this time in ninth place. The Greek capital would have taken a higher place were it not for a rise in hotel costs. At £99 for two nights’ accommodation, that cost has leapt over 16 per cent year-on-year in direct contrast with the majority of other cities.

Closer to home, Belfast completes the top 10 in 10th place with a total of £252.65 and was boosted by a sharp fall in hotel costs, thanks to greater availability. Its barometer total has dropped almost 24 per cent since last summer and is 25 per cent lower than in March. Prices are 22 per cent lower than in Dublin (£323.95), although the Irish capital has also seen a significant fall in costs (-19.3 per cent year-on-year, -25.5 per cent since March) because of lower accommodation prices. Galway City, new for 2020, is slightly pricier at £333.71.

Belfast is also the lowest-priced of the four UK capital cities, although Edinburgh (14th, £268.75), Cardiff (15th, £273.45) and London (18th, £318.16) each recorded sizeable year-on-year price falls of 9.9 per cent, 7.1 per cent and 14.4 per cent respectively.

Italian cities look better value this year with prices well down on March levels. Three of them saw double-digit percentage prices falls: In 11th place, Rome is cheapest at £265.55 while Milan is 12th at £266.35 and Verona (£279.42) is in 16th place. Venice (21st, £356.25) is 6.6 per cent cheaper than pre-lockdown. Hotel prices are a key factor but another has been reduced admission to museums and galleries. Rome’s Borghese Gallery has lowered entry prices from £18.75 to £11.92, the Doge Palace Museum in Venice now charges under £23 compared with £28 pre-lockdown and in Milan the Pinacoteca di Brera now offers free entry (was £14).

Nick Boden, Head of Post Office Travel Money, which accounts for one-in-four UK currency transactions said: “This year’s report reveals that there is plenty of choice across Europe in cities that offer great value. Prices compare very well with those a year ago, partly because sterling is stronger than in late summer 2019 but more notably because of the falls in hotel prices caused by greater availability after the Covid-19 lockdown. We have chosen to feature only those cities currently excluded from quarantine restrictions but we urge people planning trips to watch FCO advice carefully before booking their holiday.”

Most expensive in the 2020 City Costs Barometer is Copenhagen, where the barometer total of £394.74 is over twice as high as the top four cities in the report.

Ends

For more information, please contact:

Lily Cunningham Post Office Press Office 07967 240604

Lily.Cunningham@postoffice.co.uk

Christine Ball CBPR 01798 874177 / 07976 285997 cball@cballpr.co.uk

A full breakdown of prices can be found in the accompanying tables and tables showing the full 50 cities are available on request.

Notes to Editors:

The Post Office is the UK’s leading provider of foreign currency, offering euro on demand at around 5,000 branches. These can also be ordered online at postoffice.co.uk for same day ‘click and collect’ at selected branches, for next day collection at any branch or for home delivery. 1,600 larger Post Office Branches stock 30 leading currencies while around 60 currencies can be pre-ordered at over 11,500 branches or online at www.postoffice.co.uk/travel for next day branch or home delivery.

1 Although their countries are on the Government’s exemption list, three cities – Budapest, Helsinki and Riga -have been excluded from the report because of impractical entry regulations for a city break.

2 Prices have fallen year-on-year in 14 of 21 cities that were also surveyed last year. These are: Oslo (-25.6%), Reykjavik (-25.6%), Belfast (-23.7%), Dublin (-19.3%), Lisbon (-8.4%), London (-14.4%), Edinburgh (-9.9%), Cardiff (-7.1%), Copenhagen (-4.7%), Verona (-3.8%), Rome (-1%), Krakow (-0.7%), Tallinn (-0.6%) and Warsaw (-0.6%).

3 Compared with the pre-lockdown position in March, prices have fallen in 22 cities. The two where they have risen are: Athens (+8.4%) and Katowice (+4.9%)

4 Hotel prices have fallen by over 20 per cent since March in 12 cities:

Dublin -61.4%

Belfast -60.2%

Rome -38.3%

County Galway -35.1%

Edinburgh -33.9%

Oslo -31.8%

Lisbon -27.5%

Verona -26.8%

Ljubljana -23.5%

London -23.3%

Porto -22.5%

Krakow -21.3%

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