The last three years have proved undeniably stressful for the UK, from coping with the coronavirus pandemic to the ongoing cost-of-living crisis, skyrocketing inflation and, currently, the post-Christmas January blues. To brighten your spirits, Brits may be looking to book a break to relax and recharge. The UK health and wellness spa industry is predicted to grow by 5.3 percent in 2023, indicative of post-covid interest in mental well-being and relaxation.
But which UK city is most in need of a wellness break? My Favourite Cottages analysed the most common Google search terms related to wellness breaks and retreats to discover which cities most desire one post-pandemic.
In first place is Birmingham, with residents searching for a wellness break 650 times a month on average pre-pandemic (September 2019 – February 2020) and 4540 on average post-pandemic (June – November 2022) – an increase of 598 percent.
The most notable searches of the last six months were for ‘spa break’, which were up from 210 searches per month on average pre-pandemic to 2400 post-pandemic. ‘Cheap spa break’, in particular, saw an increase of 250 percent. The West Midlands metropolis is home to 1.3 million people and faced some of the toughest restrictions amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Its residents have also been hit by the cost-of-living crisis, as the city currently sits below the national average for gross disposable household income.
Durham is the second city most in need of a wellness break, seeing an increase of 111 percent from 640 pre-pandemic searches per month on average to 1350 post-pandemic. ‘Spa break’ specifically saw a post-pandemic search increase of 126 percent. A study suggests that Durham residents felt low levels of happiness between 2021 and 2022 and that, like Birmingham, this could be due to intense COVID restrictions that were in place until the early months of 2021.
In third place is Swansea, with a jump from 320 pre-pandemic searches per month on average to 640 post-pandemic searches for wellness breaks, a 100 percent increase. ‘Spa break’ and ‘spa weekend’ were two of the most common search terms from city residents, with a 435 percent and 300 percent increase.
A recent study found that Swansea is one of the top UK cities most worried about the impact of the cost-of-living crisis, which is unsurprising, with another report finding that it has heightened anxiety and stress for many. Fourth and fifth place is occupied by Preston and Cardiff, who had 500 and 580 pre-pandemic online searches per month on average, which have surged to 890 and 1010 post-pandemic – a 78 percent and 74 percent increase, respectively.
Google searches for ‘spa break near me’ in Preston and ‘yoga retreat’ in Cardiff saw an increase of 178 percent and 150 percent each. Lancashire towns and cities have seen some of the highest UK inflation rates in the past six months, whilst an estimated 45 percent of Welsh households are considered ‘fuel poor’ due to high energy costs. Completing the top ten cities are St Albans (up 66%), Wrexham (up 56%), Gloucester (up 55%), Leicester (up 54%), and York (up 45%).
Harry Roberts, managing director at My Favourite Cottages, commented on the findings: The uncertainty of the current economic climate is subjecting many of us to stress and anxiety, reflected in the increase in searches. Mental well-being is a bigger focus now more than ever, and it is important to schedule breaks to ease the pressures of everyday life, relax and recharge.
Whether your New Year’s resolution is to take more time for yourself or you’re looking to brighten your January blues, a wellness break is a great way to care for your mental health. At My Favourite Cottages, we have a number of properties available to rent in coastal areas, such as Devon, Somerset, Cornwall, Scotland and Exmoor, that are perfect for a break away from reality.