UK regional hotels are recording some of the highest occupancy rates in Europe owing to domestic long-stay visitors during the pandemic.

Exeter recorded the highest city occupancy rate in Europe in December and three more UK cities – Liverpool, Bath and Aberdeen – made the top ten, according to figures compiled by hospitality data analyst STR.

Robin Rossmann, STR managing director, reported 90% of hotels in Europe were open by October although the figure has fallen back to 80% this month (January).

Two thirds of hotels were closed at the peak of the first lockdown.

Rossman said: “Domestic long-stay has changed the top-performing markets in Europe.”

He reported an occupancy rate of 51% in Exeter in December, 40% in Liverpool, 39% in Bath and 33% in Aberdeen. Bristol also made it into the 20 top-performing cities in Europe.

The figures measure occupancy across hotels which are open. A separate ‘total room inventory’ (TRI) measure of occupancy across all hotels whether open or closed left Baku with the highest occupancy rate of 51% and Exeter second with 49%.

However, six UK cities were in the top-20 for occupancy by this measure, including Bristol and Nottingham.

STR reported the current average occupancy rate across Europe as 15% and in the UK as 22%.

Rossmann said: “The UK, Russia and Turkey dominate the 20 top-performing markets in Europe.”

He forecast the UK and German hospitality sectors would lead the recovery in Europe, saying: “Domestic demand accounts for 60% to 80% of demand for most markets.

“We expect the UK and German occupancy to outperform Europe because of their bigger domestic markets. Regional markets will continue to outperform capital cities.”

Rossmann noted Glasgow is already sold out for the UN Climate Change Conference in November 2021 and said: “There will be huge pent-up demand as soon as there is the confidence and ability to travel.”