Just recently we have a had a couple of groups of holiday cottage novices. We realised that there was not much in the way of an explanation of cottage holidays out there. We thought it would be a great idea to jot down some ideas of what to look for and what to think about when deciding whether to have a break in a holiday cottage (or not!).
What is a cottage holiday?
Firstly, let’s define a cottage holiday. A cottage holiday is where you are renting, for a defined period of time, a self contained home. The rental period can be anything from a few days to several weeks. It is generally a holiday where you are able to cater wholly for yourself. You may choose to eat a lot of meals out but, unlike a hotel or B&B, breakfast and evening meals are not generally provided.
So what’s so great about self-catering?
The great advantage of a cottage holiday is that you have that space to yourself and can use it however you choose to – splodge out in front of the tv, get up and have breakfast at mid-day – the choice is yours! It is quite often the best option if you also want to bring your pet on holiday. A lot of cottages will allow you to bring your pet for free or for a small additional fee. We have welcomed dogs, cats and even a parrot!
Thinking about your cottage holiday
The first factor to consider is where you would like to go geographically. You are sure to find a self-catering option in most parts of the country.
Apart from the general location or area also think about whether you want to be in a town, village or rural location. A rural location may sound fabulous but if you need to be within walking distance of a pub, then it may not be ideal.
Demand (in the UK) is higher in the warmer summer months when the majority of attractions and things to do in your chosen locality are fully operational. Don’t dismiss a winter break, however. It can be very relaxing when there are fewer people around. Unlike a B&B or hotel prices holiday cottage prices usually vary for seasonality.
For how long?
Traditionally cottage holidays were sold by the week but times have changed. Having said that changeover days are still quite often are fixed on either a Friday or Saturday and short breaks may only be available during quieter times of the year. Not every cottage is the same, however. Some, like us, offer short breaks throughout the year and have flexibility over changeover days.
Because of the time to clean and prepare a cottage for the next guests, cottage holidays are really optimised for three nights or more – we want you to feel at home and to relax. Quite often we get enquiries for 2 nights or even 1 night – don’t be surprised if you do not get much of a discount. A hotel or B&B may be a better option for you in this instance.
For how many guests?
You will need to think about how many beds and/or bedrooms you need as a minimum. We would suggest that you don’t abuse the capacity of the cottage you eventually choose. Cottage owners want you to have a great, comfortable stay so cottages are generally designed for the comfort of the maximum number of guests in all respects, from the number of beds to the amount of crockery and cutlery!
Other needs or requirements
Another factor to consider early on is whether you have any special requirements. It is also helpful to prioritise your requirements as the perfect match may not always be possible. Is it more important to you to have an outside dining area or a downstairs bathroom for instance?
Please also consider whether you have any accessibility issues. Would steep narrow stairs put you off staying in a particular property? You might need to pore through every detail of a cottage’s particulars but these areas should be described and discoverable as part of the research phase. If there is any doubt then do enquire of the owner.
Different cottages have different booking methods but all should explain their bookings process (and cancellation policy!)
Generally you will be charged for the property as a unit, no matter how many guests are occupying it. You will probably be asked to pay a deposit immediately with the balance a few weeks before your break.
Some of the items you may be charged extra for include;
– a breakage deposit
– a fee for paying by credit card,
– a fee for booking through an agency
– electricity or gas consumed
– you may be asked to buy your own logs if there is a log burner or open fire
– internet usage
– if you plan to bring a pet
It is worth checking before you book if any of the above apply – it could amount to a tidy sum!
What to bring, what to do, what happens if something goes wrong and what to expect after your cottage holiday. All the details can be found here