The Colliers UK Hotels Recovery Index has been created in tandem with the UK Hotels Market Index 2020 to analyse the impact on the rate at which hotel markets across the UK will recover from the Covid-19 crisis. This index does not measure how strong a market is, but how quickly that market will bounce back to the levels it achieved in 2019.


We have identified five core indicators to analyse for 35 markets in the UK. These indicators are those that have shown up in other markets such as China, USA and certain European countries (where hotels have re-opened already) as being important in influencing the rate of recovery. ​ The selection of markets has been broadly based on the original UK Hotel Market Index, as well as data availability, although certain tourist hotspots have also been included for comparison purposes.

These indicators considered are:

Domestic Visitors as a % of Total Travel
Leisure* Visits as a % of Total Domestic Travel
Budget* and Serviced Apartment Rooms as a % of Total Hotel Supply
Branded Rooms as a % of Total Hotel Supply
Reliance on the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Events (MICE) Sector

*Leisure visits comprise holidays and VFR (Visiting Friends and Relatives)

*Budget hotels also comprise 2-star and 3-star properties as defined on the AM:PM Hotels Database

How it works

The above criteria are individually scored on a scale of 1-5 for each market, with 1 being the lowest and 5 the highest. These are then consolidated into an overall weighted index figure and ranked accordingly. By consolidating such varied criteria into a single figure, we can assess which markets are likely to recover at a faster pace, and which ones are expected to take longer to reach 2019 performance levels. The Recovery Index does not indicate the strength of a market, just the rate at which it is expected to recover to its own normality. Accordingly, the main Index is a better indicator of underlying market strength.

Data provided by ​ ​ ​ ​


It goes without saying that careful reflection is required when interpreting the results of this newly created Recovery Index vs the UK Hotels Market Index which Colliers publishes on an annual basis.


Fundamentally, we anticipate that domestic leisure locations will recover at a quicker pace, given their smaller reliance on certain sources of business which have been badly affected by Covid-19 such as the number of overseas visitors and larger MICE events. So good news in the short term for traditional British seaside resorts such as Blackpool and Bournemouth, national park locations and Devon and Cornwall. This said some of these markets within the top 10 have traditionally been very small – so even though they appear top of the list, the uptick will be small in absolute terms.


Conversely, the bottom 10 locations are heavily reliant on overseas visitors and MICE business. No surprise that restrictions on air travel, quarantine measures and gatherings of large groups could affect these markets well into 2021. For hotel investors who have deeper pockets and the patience to wait for the market to return, clearly cities such as London, Oxford and Edinburgh remain of great interest.


UK Hotels Recovery Index

Largest MICE Markets


Domestic Markets

Domestic Leisure Markets

Budget & Serviced Apartments Room Supply (% of Total)

Branded Room Supply (% of Total)





The share of domestic visitation is one of the most important factors to consider in our analysis. This is based on the nature of the current Covid-19 crisis, which has led to international travel restrictions, country-specific lockdowns and flight suspensions across the world. Unsurprisingly, indefinite restrictions on overseas travel will facilitate the rise of “staycations” across the UK in the latter half of 2020 (once lockdown rules are lifted in the country and hotels are able to re-open), making domestic demand one of the key drivers of recovery. Markets which have historically enjoyed a higher proportion of domestic visitors are thus expected to outperform those with a heavier reliance on overseas tourism. Understanding how dependent a market is on domestic visitors is therefore critical to assess the pace of hotel performance recovery.


These trends have been observed in various other downturns and previous health epidemics, as well as the current recovery in China. Additionally, domestic tourism proved less volatile in the financial crisis of 2008/9, as consumers were more price sensitive and therefore chose to travel locally as a more affordable alternative; another factor which will influence higher levels of domestic travel in the current pandemic.

The purpose of visit for domestic travel will be a major factor when considering the rate at which hotel markets in the UK will recover following the current crisis. We envisage the revival in demand to predominantly be driven by domestic leisure travel, which will be a result of pent-up demand during the lockdown. This has already been evidenced in China, where there has been an increase in hotel demand from domestic leisure travellers, particularly in resort and leisure destinations. Spain is another example of this as the more leisure-oriented destinations such as the Spanish Islands have shown a quicker upturn than city centre destinations.


Business travel is likely to be slower to return as companies will try to minimise cost and risk of travel for their employees. Technology that allows for online meetings has also proven to be a successful alternative to in-person meetings, events and conferences, which is also likely to reduce corporate travel in the medium-term.

The share of economy and midscale hotels, as well as serviced apartments in a market is another key factor to consider when assessing the recovery of hotel performance in a particular destination. Hotels at the lower end of the market generally outperform upscale properties in downturns as travellers are facing budget constraints and are therefore in search of more affordable accommodation offerings. Markets that offer a greater range of options for price sensitive customers are thus likely to be a more popular choice for travel. This trend is particularly relevant for the current Covid-19 pandemic and has already been experienced in several other countries, with RevPAR declines more acute for hotels at the top end of the market in the USA, as well as occupancy levels recovering at a much faster pace in China for economy and midscale properties.


Serviced apartments are also a favoured choice in the current environment and are likely to be more resilient to the pandemic when compared to traditional hotels. This is largely due to the nature of their facilities, with self-contained apartments and limited public areas enabling much better adherence to social distancing protocols. Serviced apartments are also a preferred option for people having to quarantine as they provide more space and comfort.



Some of the biggest challenges in re-opening hotels during these uncertain times will be to regain guest confidence and implement new health and safety regulations in accordance with relevant protocols. Branded hotels are likely to be favoured here as they are better equipped to respond to such crises, enabling them to benefit from greater consumer confidence. Branded hotels also enjoy stronger distribution systems, which will allow them access to a wider pool of customers, generating higher volumes of room night demand. We have included this indicator to depict which markets have a higher proportion of branded hotel stock, enabling us to understand where visitors will gravitate towards when travelling after the pandemic.

A market’s reliance on the MICE sector will affect its rate of recovery. Destinations that are heavily reliant on MICE demand will experience considerable declines in hotel performance as conference and events in 2020 have been postponed due to the uncertainty surrounding protocols for large gatherings. This has already been demonstrated in Barcelona as its leading technology conference was cancelled for the first time in 33 years due to Covid-19. This resulted in a loss of 100,000 visitors over four days, and 430 empty hotels that usually were at capacity during the conference. ​ A similar impact is likely to be experienced in UK markets that historically benefit from a significant portion of MICE related demand.


Spotlight on top 3 markets


Spotlight on bottom 3 markets

other weak performers

Plymouth ranks as the top city in the Covid-19 Recovery Index, benefitting from a predominantly domestic tourism base (86%), as well as a significant portion of its domestic travellers visiting for leisure purposes. Plymouth, also known as Britain’s Ocean City, is renowned for attracting domestic tourists with a range of leisure attractions such as the Royal Theatre (one of the UK’s best attended regional theatres), National Marine Aquarium (the largest in the UK), Royal Citadel and The Barbican. Plymouth is also the last city along the coastline before Cornwall, making it a popular base for coach and group tours to explore the English Riviera sub-region. Plymouth’s hotel room stock is also largely concentrated at the lower end of the market, with budget brands such as Premier Inn and Travelodge dominating the city. Plymouth’s score is further enhanced by its modest reliance on the MICE Sector, which is likely to experience a slower recovery period.


Isle of Wight ranks second, mainly due to over 90% of its visitors travelling from domestic markets for leisure purposes. Additionally, it has a large proportion of budget hotels and limited reliance on MICE demand. Isle of Wight is a popular holiday destination due to its known beaches and seafront promenades including the sandy Shanklin Beach, Ventnor Beach and its historic Chalk Rock Needles and light house. The Isle of Wight’s score is pulled down slightly due to the lack of branded hotel stock in the local market. Exeter is in third place due to its large domestic travel base, as well as its pull as a popular leisure destination within the UK. Exeter attracts a significant amount of tourism through its historical sites such as Exeter Cathedral, Royal Albert Memorial Museum and the Exeter Quay. Furthermore, Exeter has a favourable hotel market structure, with a high percentage of both budget and branded hotels; two factors which will contribute to a quicker recovery timeline. ​

Additional markets which have been ranked in the top 10 include some of the UK’s most popular seaside destinations such as Cornwall, Bournemouth and Blackpool, all of which enjoy large volumes of domestic leisure travel. These coastal towns are likely to experience high demand levels from British holidaymakers when lockdown restrictions have been relaxed across the country, benefiting from pent-up demand and also serving as an alternative to international beach destinations for some travellers. Although not included as part of our analysis, we would expect other coastal resort towns in the UK to also experience a similar recovery pattern. Latest trends observed on regarding future bookings across the UK also support this analysis. ​ These do however come with some exceptions such as Brighton, which has scored lower than anticipated on the index. While Brighton is a renowned seaside resort town, it has a lower proportion of domestic travellers when compared to similar markets, as well as a limited supply of budget and branded hotel rooms. The lack of affordable accommodation options in Brighton is likely to deter a substantial number of visitors who are price sensitive following the Covid-19 crisis. Brighton also has a greater reliance on the MICE sector with year-round events and festivals, as well as several conferences such as its annual TNC event; the largest European research and education networking conference, Water Environment and Transport Conference and The Brighton UKSG Annual Conference and Exhibition.


Another unusual suspect is Bradford, which albeit is at the bottom of our UK Hotels Market Index 2020, has reached the top 10 in the Recovery Index rankings. Bradford’s positioning can be attributed to its significant supply of budget hotels, limited MICE-related demand and a considerable reliance on domestic and leisure visitation; all factors which are favoured in our index. It is important to note that our Recovery Index ranks hotel markets in accordance with how quickly performance is anticipated to recover to their 2019 levels, and therefore does not indicate that these are top performing markets for acquisition and development opportunities.

London ranks the lowest in our Recovery Index, owing its position to a strong reliance on both international tourism (c.60%) and the MICE sector, as well as having one of the lowest proportions of budget hotel room stock (approximately 50%) when compared with other markets. London is one of the world’s leading tourism destinations for international travellers, playing host to major year-round events including Wimbledon Tennis, London Fashion Week, Chelsea Flower show and the bi-annual Farnborough Air Show. The capital city also holds an extensive range of conferences and exhibitions, with London ExCeL alone hosting 400 events in 2019 with over 4 million delegates. These venues and events have historically been key demand generators for London’s hotels, however, will not contribute to room night demand in the near future due to the global travel restrictions and rules against large gatherings, quite apart from the fact that ExCel is now the Nightingale Hospital. ​ Another reason why London is likely to recover at a slower rate than other destinations in the UK is its source markets, with American travellers representing the highest proportion of inbound tourism (approximately 14% in 2018). With long-haul flights expected to be the last to resume normal operation, this will further delay London in welcoming tourists from the USA. ​ London is also a global financial hub, generating a healthy portion of business related demand, particularly from overseas travellers. As business travel is predicted to be the last to resume, this is another factor that will delay the city’s hotel market recovery.


Oxford and Cambridge are also positioned in the bottom 3, sharing similar characteristics with London in terms of a low domestic demand base, coupled with limited hotel stock at the lower end of the market. These markets are also major university hubs and due to the uncertainty of students returning in 2020, they are expected to face a significant reduction in visitation from friends and relatives of students as a consequence. Furthermore, they have a significant reliance on MICE related demand with their venues hosting the Oxford annual International Conference on Childhood Education, the Oxford Farming Conference and the annual Cambridge FinTech conference. It is important to stress here that these markets are in fact some of the UK’s top performers in terms of RevPAR levels, and the Recovery Index only ranks these markets according to how fast their hotel performance is likely to recover to 2019 levels. London, for example, boasts the highest RevPAR in the UK and is one of the most sought after hotel markets in Europe. However, given that our index punishes a high reliance on international tourism and the MICE sector, as well as a low percentage of budget stock, the capital city ranks at the bottom of the index.

Additional markets which have been ranked in the bottom 10 include some of the UK’s most important MICE destinations such as Glasgow, Manchester and Edinburgh. Glasgow has traditionally attracted a significant amount of international travellers as a leading international conference destination, recording the highest volume of delegates across Scotland. The SEC Centre in Glasgow, which includes the SSE Hydro Arena, is Scotland’s largest exhibition and conference venue for public events, concerts and conferences, and a key generator of hotel demand. Manchester is also a highly event-driven city where concerts and sporting events (particularly home football fixtures with Manchester United FC and Manchester City FC, as well as test cricket at Old Trafford) generate high volumes of international demand and overnight visits throughout the year. Edinburgh also hosts a large volume of conferences and is known as the world’s leading festival city, with 12 major annual festivals including Edinburgh International Festival, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Edinburgh International Book Festival and the Edinburgh International Science Festival. These markets, together with other weak performers such as Reading and Bath, also score lower on the index as they rely more heavily on international visitation (between 30-44%). Edinburgh and Manchester are in fact the most visited provincial UK cities by overseas travellers, recording 2.4 million and 1.4 million visits in 2018, respectively.


Manchester and Reading also generate a substantial amount of business related demand, which is likely to have a strong impact on their hotels in 2020. Manchester is the largest regional corporate finance and stockbroking centre in England and Reading is home to several major international companies such as Microsoft, Prudential, PepsiCo and Oracle, all of which are considered to be some of the main demand generators in the area. Stratford-upon-Avon and Bath rank in the bottom 10 primarily due to the structure of their hotel markets, with a much higher portion of hotels positioned at the upscale level (67% and 52%, respectively). Brighton, which is a strong domestic leisure destination, ranks lower than expected due to similar characteristics.


Given that our Recovery Index punishes a low domestic and leisure tourism base, a high percentage of non-branded hotels, a lower share of budget and extended stay room stock and a strong reliance on the MICE sector, some markets will rank lower than expected. Of course this is a general market recovery index and site/property specific factors will lead to significant variances. This is particularly relevant for individual budget/midscale hotels and serviced apartments, which we expect to cope better with the Covid-19 crisis. Similarly, we envisage hotels with a higher reliance on rooms revenue to outperform full-service products. This is due to social distancing protocols which will inevitably limit the use of public areas and ancillary facilities in the short-term, including restaurants, bars, meetings spaces and spa amenities.


Marc Finney

Head of Hotels & Resorts Consulting

+44 7825 602797

Ben Godon

Head of Hospitality Asset Management

+44 7920 501 838

Julian Troup

Head of Hotels Agency

+44 7825 891233

David Hossack

Head of Hotels Valuation

+44 7919 015899

Siddhika Shah

Senior Consultant, Hotels & Resorts Consulting

​ +44 7717 863580

Claire Camplisson

Director, Hospitality Asset Management

+44 7920 750729

Anette Blystad

Analyst, Hotels & Resorts Consulting

+44 7842 602160

Irene Pastor

Analyst, Hospitality Asset Management

+44 7825 ​ 504353