Holy Island Accommodation Survey (March 2023) and Census Highlights

Holy Island Accommodation Survey 2023

Accommodation Survey, March 2023 (and 2021 Census Highlights)

This year we have a more robust view, not only of accommodation on Holy Island, but also of the breakdown between “lived-in” houses and holiday homes. This is because the 2021 census took place during the pandemic lockdown, which means those responding to the census questionnaire were, with minor exceptions, people who live on the island. Some highlights from the Census are also included at the end of this report.

High-level summary of findings

  • Year on year changes: Five new holiday homes opened on the island in 2022 and three have closed down. There was no net change to the number of short stay or retreat properties.
  • During high season, when all accommodation providers are open, Holy island has a capacity to host 280 visitors a night in guest accommodation (or 306 if the capacity for retreats is included). Note that capacity does not mean occupancy, as some bookings will have fewer guests staying than the property/room actually caters for. If we estimate occupancy to be 85%, the actual number of guests staying would be 238 (excluding retreats).
  • There are nine short-stay providers (36 rooms, 78 guest capacity), 41 holiday lets (202 guest capacity) and four retreat properties (26 guest capacity).
  • There are seven dog-friendly short-stay rooms (no change) and 23 dog-friendly holiday lets (an increase of 4 properties).
  • There is only one short-stay wheelchair-friendly room and five wheelchair-friendly holiday lets (no change).
  • 53% of short-stay rooms can be booked instantly online, while the figure for holiday lets is 63%.
  • Permanent residents and holiday/second home occupancy
    Based on the 2021 census, 48% of dwellings on the island are lived in by residents. Holiday lets make up 24% of dwellings and a further 28% are second homes or other homes not lived in permanently. This is by far one of the most accurate measures we’ve had, as the 2021 census was conducted during lockdown, and therefore, with a few negligible exceptions, only island residents were counted.

The survey in detail

Total overnight guest capacity for the entire island (all accommodation types)

If all accommodation on the island is fully booked and all accommodation is open (which is increasingly common in high season), the total guest capacity is:

Rooms/bedrooms: 134 (+9 change) (145 with retreats)

Overnight guest capacity: 280* (+18 change) (306 with retreats)

* Note that the number of actual guest will be lower, as some short stay rooms will be taken for lower occupancy (e.g. single occupancy in double room), and holiday lets will have fewer guests staying than their maximum capacity (e.g. three people staying in a holiday let that has a capacity of six). At a rough estimate, this would be 85% occupancy, which would make it 238 visitors.

Serviced accommodation / Shorter stays (Hotels/B&Bs/Guesthouses/Other)

Number of properties: 9 (no change)

Number of rooms: 36 (no change)

Guest capacity: 78 (bedrooms vary: 1-4 guest capacity)

Wheelchair accessible rooms: 1

Dog friendly rooms: ~7

Properties with instant online booking:

Number of rooms available for instant online bookings: 19 (53%)

Holiday lets / Longer stays

Number of properties: 41 (+5 new, -3 closed)*

Number of bedrooms: 98 (+9 net)

Total guest capacity: 202 (+18 net. Bedrooms vary, 1-4 guest capacity. Some holiday lets have extra sofa beds)

Dog friendly properties: 23 (+4 net. 56%)

Wheelchair accessible properties: 5 (no change. 14%)

Properties with instant online booking: 26 (+7 change. 63%)

* The overall figure includes the addition of 5 new holiday lets and 2 holiday lets that were not known to us before (not listed on any island-related site or not advertised widely). In 2022, one holiday let was permanently closed down, one is on long term rental and one is in the process of being sold with its future unclear to us at this time. The net effect is therefore the addition of 7 holiday lets to survey data and the removal of 3 (net: +4).

Share of overall housing: permanent homes, holiday let, second homes,

Overall dwellings on the island: 168

Overall dwellings used as homes: 80 (48%)

Holiday lets: 41 (24%)

Second homes and other: 47 (28%)*

* “Other” includes retreat houses that count as dwellings (1-2%), staff accommodation vacant during the pandemic and any other unaccounted for elsewhere.

Retreat Houses

In 2023, there is one retreat house for groups, two for individuals or small groups and one flat for an individual. There is no net change in retreat guest capacity.

Number of properties: 4

Number of rooms/bedrooms: 11

Total guest capacity: 26

Other accommodation

The SVP Ozanam Camp house will sometimes take adult groups during term times. It has 8 dormitories, each with 8 beds (total occupancy of 64). As the camp is occupied for a good part of the high season, and the children in the camp do not have the same impact on local services (pubs/cafes/shops/parking) as adults do, its numbers are not tallied in the overall totals above, but it is included here for completeness.

2021 Census data

Below are some highlights from the data collected in the 2021 census for Holy Island. This refers to tenure of households that were present on Census Day (21 March 2021), during lockdown, and therefore applies, with some minor exceptions, only to people living on the island, not to holiday lets and second home owners.

Holy Island Population

Population: 150
Households: 80

Household size

1 person in household 40.3%
2 people in household 37.7%
3 people in household 14.3%
4 or more people in household 7.7%

Population age breakdown

0-19: 9.6%
20-44: 24.3%
45-64: 28.2%
Over 65: 37.9%


No religion 27.8%
Christian 62.9%
Buddhist 0.7%
Not answered 8.6%

Tenure of household*

Owns outright 51.3%
Owns with a mortgage or loan or shared ownership 17.1%
Social rented 10.5%
Private rented or lives rent free 21.1%

* a reminder that this applies to residents only, who were here during Census Day, not to holiday homes and second homes.

Note from the ONS: The data in this profile are aggregated from small areas on a best-fit basis, and therefore may differ slightly from other sources.


– Accommodation percentages are rounded to the nearest decimal point.

– Some properties can be categorised as either holiday lets or short stays. They are assigned to one of the two categories only (the one closest to their purpose) to avoid double-counting.


– Guest accommodation numbers are sourced from the accommodation pages of Visit Lindisfarne.

– Number of dwellings on the island sourced from Street Check.

– 2021 Census data is sourced from the government’s census data.

Image source: Bing

Citation (permalink): https://holy-island.uk/holy-island-accommodation-survey-and-march-2023/

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