Cities Most in Need of a Wellness Break

Our latest study reveals the UK cities most in need of a relaxing getaway post-pandemic.

The last three years have proved undeniably stressful for UK residents, from coping with the coronavirus pandemic to the ongoing cost-of-living crisis, skyrocketing inflation and, currently, the post-Christmas January blues.

To brighten spirits, Brits may be looking to book a break to relax and recharge. And at My Favourite Cottages, we know just how invaluable that time away can be.

But which UK city is most in need of a wellness break?

We analysed the most common Google search terms related to wellness breaks and retreats to discover which cities’ residents most desire one post-pandemic.

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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 4,540 on average post-pandemic (June – November 2022) - an increase of 598 percent.

Brummies’ 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 2,400 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 increased interest of 111 percent for this type of holiday. Searches rose from 640 per month pre-pandemic to 1,350 post-pandemic on average. ‘Spa break’ specifically saw a post-pandemic search increase of 126 percent for Durham residents.

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 UK cities most worried about the impact of the cost-of-living crisis. This feeling isn’t unusual, with another report finding that the crisis 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.

Completing the top ten cities are St Albans (up 66%), Wrexham (up 56%), Gloucester (up 55%), Leicester (up 54%), and York (up 45%).

Our research clearly highlights many people are struggling with stress and anxiety post-pandemic, and that one of the primary ways to relieve this feeling is getting a relaxing break booked in.

Whether your New Year’s resolution is to take more time for yourself or you’re looking to brighten your January blues, a few days away is a great way to care for your mental health. 

At My Favourite Cottages, we have coastal properties available to rent with stunning sea views, or nestled in the countryside, that are perfect for a break away from reality. And you don’t need to splash out on an expensive spa break for the life of luxury either; many of our cottages are fitted with hot tubs to give you the ultimate relaxing experience.


My Favourite Cottages used Google Keyword Planner to identify the change in Google searches for terms relevant to spa breaks, wellness breaks, yoga retreats, and mindfulness retreats. Average monthly search volume data was collected for the period September 2019-February 2020 to show pre-pandemic interest, and June 2022-November 2022 to show post-pandemic interest in these activities.

The study looks at UK cities with a population above 20k according to Wikipedia. The City of London was replaced with Greater London and used population data from the ONS. My Favourite Cottages also worked out the data per capita, which shows the average monthly searches per 100 thousand people.

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