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Travel in England without making accommodation reservations in advance?

In the past, it was possible to travel in Great Britain without making accommodation reservations in advance. One went to the local tourist office and asked about available accommodation for that night. Is it still possible to do that? I would like to be able to travel with some flexibility. I'll be traveling in late May, probably in Kent, Devon or Cornwall.

Thanks for any advice you might be able to offer.

Posted by
3978 posts

With the advent of internet bookings and local government cutbacks since the recession, fewer tourist offices are open or they are open for shorter hours. Use the internet rather than rely on tourist offices.

There is a Bank Holiday weekend on 25 May when popular places such as Devon and Cornwall will be booked up. Also 22 May to 1 June is school half term holiday for much of the country, so I would book accommodation for this week.

Posted by
4128 posts

Why not book in advance? Planning helps you to save money and know what to do when you get there.

Posted by
583 posts

There’s no doubt that the TI ‘Book A Bed Ahead’ service, seemingly now rendered redundant by the internet was a great thing. However in it’s absence pre booking is the way to go - unless you want to pay through the nose for stop overs that weren’t previously booked up (there may very well be a good reason or three why this is the case!).

Book ahead. It’s the way to be sure of getting what you want, where you want, at something like the price you want! Have a great trip!


Posted by
2588 posts

There are a lot of B&Bs that do not advertise, they depend solely on their sign posted outside. When we are going to be driving around we never book ahead, when we decide that we want to stop soon for the night we start looking for B&B signs, we have never had trouble finding a place to stay, it’s been the months from March through August. We only book our first and last nights, and in London.

Posted by
5817 posts

I really wouldn't want to try it in Devon or Cornwall in late May.

Posted by
2 posts

Thanks to all who answered my query - very helpful information! Sounds like either last-minute booking on the internet or looking for signs at b and b's that don't have an internet presence might be something to try off-season, but it might be risky in late May.

Posted by
1067 posts

Yeah, to be honest I think that advice is best left in the 1990s. Variable rate pricing will mean that if you’re grabbing the last room, it’ll often come at a steep premium. Even in the offseason, you’ll be taking a risk. Places could shut down for the offseason or be doing renovations, limiting the supply of available rooms.

I’m not sure how many local tourist offices even still exist with the list of friendly mom and pop accommodations that you can ring up. In some cities, the tourist office is all online anyway and being run from someone’s MacBook.

Posted by
23402 posts

Some of the formerly government owned TIs now are really fronts for tour bus companies or particular hotels. It is harder to get the kind of information I used to rely on them for, from them - even if they are open. The internet is best.

Late May especially.