About Holiday Cottage holidays
 

 
  
     We have never
      stayed in a
    holiday cottage
 


Every year more and more people are choosing to stay in a holiday cottage for a holiday or a short break. For our overseas visitors, a cottage is a British term referring to a small house in the country. In reality many holiday cottages posses much character due to their age, location and past history. They are often tastefully converted old industrial buildings such as farm out buildings, light houses, mills, churches or chapels, which make for an exciting place to spend a holiday and explore the area.

A holiday cottage is nearly always self-catering which means that during your stay, you can come and go and eat as you please (unlike a hotel). In this respect it is much more flexible and very much like living at home and hence the term, holiday home or home from home.

However be aware that a holiday home refers to any sort of self-catering accommodation including flats, chalets and static caravans. A holiday cottage is a solidly built house.

Holiday cottages are normally owned and looked after by individuals and let on a weekly basis (generally from a Saturday to a Saturday). During the low season cottages may be rented for a few days at a reduced rate which is called a short break.

 

 

Unlike a hotel

 

Unlike a hotel where you book for so many nights, the usual weekly dates quoted for a rental period mean that you arrive mid to late afternoon on your arrival date and depart in the morning of the leaving date.

Unlike a hotel, you are expected to leave the accommodation in the same good state of cleanliness as you found it. This helps to keep prices down.

Some accommodation providers may ask you for some caution money when you arrive which is returned when you depart.

 
 
Price:
Seasons
&
Location

 

 

  Prices are nearly always quoted for a one week stay (and not per person like a package holiday). Therefore when you work out the price per person, the value of such accommodation can be appreciated. Pricing also very much reflects demand both in terms of season and location and the quality of the accommodation.

The time of year will vary the rental price for the same property by as much as 350%. High (or peak) season means basically the 'school summer holidays' while low or off season are the winter and early spring time months and mid season being in between.
Taking a break during the low season is proving ever more popular, be it for the snow on the hills, the stormy seas or the desire to get away from it all.

The location of the property will vary the rental price greatly as well. For example a cottage within walking distance to the beach or coast will cost much more than one a few miles inland.

Therefore the cheaper places are always found away from the touristy areas, during the low season and in basic accommodation.

 

 
   Extra Costs etc.   Before you book it is worth checking what is included in the rental price and what extra costs one can expect. Is electricity included in the price? Are bed linen and towels provided? Is there a garden? Are pets welcome? If needed, can a cot and high chair be provided? The policy on heating, smoking and whether parking is available.

 

 
Quality:
Grading
&
Visitor
Comments

 

 

  Quality is a big issue. An official Tourist Board Grade (from 1 (ok) to 5 (top quality) Stars or Keys) will give a good indication of what to expect. However the size of the accommodation has little effect on the grade and so even a small holiday cottage can obtain a Grade 5 rating.
To continue to carry its grade, each accommodation needs to be graded once a year. Grading costs the accommodation provider about 100 a year.

Another way of assessing the standard of the accommodation is to read what past visitors wrote in the visitors book. A good web site will display many recent entries from the visitors book (which can be inspected on arrival)!

Booking through an agency rather than with an unknown owner will also give you a greater sense of security.

 

 
  Booking:
Agents
or
Direct

 

  About 85% of all holiday cottages to rent in the UK are only bookable through an agent. It is a bit of a myth to think that when you book direct with the owner that you can save the agents fees, as all properties are rented at the market price. Just some owners want to do everything themselves while most leave the marketing, advertising and booking in the hands of an agent.

Increasingly a small number of agencies are also letting owners take bookings as well. You are well advised to know exactly with whom you are booking, their association to the accommodation and if agents, whether they are the sole agent for the property. These days re-intermediation where a few internet only agents book from other agents does occur and so things could get messy.

Generally a deposit of around 30% of the rental cost will secure your booking with the balance payment due a few weeks before or on arrival. A letter confirming all the details including travel directions and key pick up will be sent once the deposit has been received.

It is important to note that the best (value) places have the peak season weeks booked out far in advance. Book before Christmas for the following summer to get your preferred week as when the New Year arrives, so do the weeks get booked up. Leaving booking for the summer months until the last minute will only limit your choice and increase your frustration.
It is also worth to note that property owners generally don't drop the price in the last minute of any un-booked weeks, preferring to leave the property vacant.

 

 
Arrival
&
Departure
  Many holiday cottages lie at the heart of a 'labyrinth' of country lanes. It may therefore be wise to arrive in the hours of day light. House keys can usually be picked up around 4 pm (afternoon).
Vacating the accommodation is usually around 10 am (morning) on the day of departure.

 

 

Cancellation

 

  Once you have booked a property (generally when the deposit has been received) you become liable for the balance payment which is why a cancellation insurance policy is recommended. In general however, most owners or agents will try and re-let and if successful refund you your deposit minus an administration fee.

 

 
Finally

 

  Owners take pride in their accommodation and will do their best to make your stay as pleasant as possible. Respect their property and treat it as if it were yours. Ask if you have a problem. Above all, look forward to a unique holiday. Some owners even offer a baby sitting service!

 

 
 

 

 

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