/ Travel & Leisure

Would you pay extra to pre-book a sunbed?

Thomas Cook has a new optional extra for holidaymakers this year – those wishing to secure a sunbed for their summer hols can pre-book one – at a cost. Would you pay to beat the early-morning scrum?

In a trial scheme launched by the travel agent, customers will be able to pay £22 to pre-book a sunbed. Not only do you get peace of mind that you’ll be able to get a spot around the pool, but you can even book a specific spot.

Now, depending on your holidaying experiences some of you will be well-acquainted with an early-morning scrum for a sunbed. If you are, this news may be music to your ears, but for others it will be yet another added ‘premium’ to what is already an expensive outlay.

Sunbed scrums

I recall one holiday to the Balearic Island of Menorca where we couldn’t work out how early some people got up in order to secure a sunbed in the premium pool-side spot. We tried on a few occasions to get to the pool in time to bag a nice sunbed, and despite being outside for 8am we still weren’t early enough. We gave up and settled for the beach instead.

On another holiday to Rhodes, we watched the hotel staff fastidiously enforce the rules of ‘no sunbed reservations’ as they paced the pool before its opening time and removed all the towels placed on the beds before breakfast.

In truth, we holidaymakers can really get ourselves worked up about a sunbed spot. And sometimes for good reasons too.

The hotel in the video below in Gran Canaria opens its pool at 8am, with people reportedly queuing from 7.30am in order to bag the best sunbeds. This video recently went viral for exposing just how ridiculous the scramble for sunbeds can be:

Are we going booking barmy?

While it may seem excessive to rush to reserve your sunbed, sometimes it might be necessary. What happens when you’re a large family and you need several sunbeds together, surely then it makes sense to be able to secure a bed… maybe even pre-book one?

Having stayed in hotels before where they’ve had around 700 rooms, but only around 200 sunbeds and a pokey pool area to crowd around. I now know that dealing with those kind of ratios means there’s no way I’m going to get a spot by the pool, let alone a sunbed in the first place.

And to me, that all seems a bit unfair – I wouldn’t expect every room to have a sunbed assigned, but surely a holidaymaker’s hotel should ensure that it has the capacity to fit its customers comfortably around its pool. I couldn’t see myself booking and paying extra to secure a premium-spot sunbed.

Where does it all end, are we going to be booking zones in the pool soon too?!

Would you pre-book a sunbed?

Thomas Cook’s sunbed reservation service will be available in 30 hotels this summer, with a proportion of sunbeds excluded from the scheme to cater for those customers who don’t wish to pay more.

So will you be paying to reserve a sunbed this summer? Do you think this is a good scheme, or do you see this as yet another added extra charge to your holiday costs?

Would you pay extra to pre-book your holiday sunbed?
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I hope the bookings come with a skin cancer warning. I’ve had it and it’s b***y scary. Save money and your skin, don’t book a sunbed, or book one in the shade.


A very valid point, @sophie-gilbert! Yes, I suppose there’s always the option to book a bed in the shade. And don’t forget the sunscreen either as the sun can still get to you even when you’re in the shade


The best suntan I ever got was using factor 50 under a sunshade on the beach !!! ⛱️ It was rather hot and a bit breezy though.


The whole thing sounds a bit shady to me. Apart from the health risk, why spend your time, having just got out of one bed, to go back to another less comfortable one on an overcrowded bit of paving when you’ve made “an expensive outlay” on a holiday? Beaches to go to, buildings to visit, new country to explore. Still, a holiday is to be used as each one wants, and if roasting is the intention then paying a small amount to ensure you get a suitable place on the slow cooker is a good move.


Thanks for the amusing video, Lauren. I prefer active holidays and if and when this is no longer a possibility, the last thing I would do is to sit in a neat row of chairs alongside lots of other people doing the same and basting themselves periodically in suntan cream. Someone else can take my place by the pool.


Thank you, Wavechange, for letting us know there was an ‘amusing’ video hiding behind the hyperlink in Lauren’s post. I stupidly assumed it was going to show a list of the top sunscreens and I was not going to open it. This is a drawback of hyperlinks: they give you no clue as to the content. With a full URL there is usually some indication of the subject and whether it is text, image or video.

Sorry, this is not on topic but I believe it is in context; there is no need to respond or discuss the point!


I’m trying to work out what percentage of the W? subscriber base would go on holidays to spend most days being gently charbroiled then quibble about whatever’s being charged to sit among heaving hordes of profusely sweating and possibly overweight, semi-naked specimen’s of humanity, complaining about the heat, smelling of sun cream, deet, gently drying perspiration and cheap shower gel, while thinking about where to sit for the all-in-one lunch deals, moaning about inflation, the cost of living, Brexit, the last time the boiler was serviced,the flight home, terrorism, the weather back home, insurance, the cost of drinks, whether to take a cruise next time, where the sun glasses are, how much to tip the concierge for that cafe down the road that sold the underdone scallops that gave Uncle Ernie the runs all night, where to buy the cheapest suitcase since the airline managed to ruin the nice ones you got really cheaply from that auction place last year, all the while dodging the dripping ice creams being carried by small children who always time it so that the last dollop inevitably falls off just as they pass your lounger…

Not that high, I’d have thought.


There speaks the voice of experience.

I am not comfortable in the boiling sun and have to apply the maximum factor sunscreen if I am going to spend any amount of time exposing myself to its harmful rays. I usually pull my lounger into a shady nook with a gentle breeze and watch the local lizards gambol among the bougainvilleas. Some popular holiday spots in the Aegean are so small and lacking in more than half an hour’s interest that there is nothing better to do than hang around the hotel doling on the Trex. Not for me; give me a decent town or city any day – preferably one with an underground system or some tramways.


Only ever once used a lounger – and that was to sit on for 10 minutes. We’ve always done walking, sailing, climbing, riding and flying (well, hang gliding and parascending) on holidays. Being very fair I’ve always avoided the sun. Horrible thing, hanging around in the sky just waiting to dump highly energetic particles and death rays on you. Should be banned in my opinion.


I’m not sure if we’ve surveyed holiday preferences before. European package holidays are popular though, especially amongst families. It sounds like you might have had a poor experience with one though – maybe there’s a convo in holiday preferences?🤔


Me? I just don’t like the sun. But I don’t like potholing, either, so I’m hard to please.


I don’t think you should have to pay for something you should get as part of your holiday. I am not a big fan of beach holidays and I’ve only been on three. I did go to Greece last year, we paid for all inclusive which was nice but doubt we’d do it again because I didn’t spend that much time at the hotel. Luckily, when we did choose to relax by the pool we were always able to get a sunbed, without having to get up early – but maybe that’s because it was September 🤔


Not spending much time in the hotel seems the essence of a good holiday in a new place.