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What do you look for in a holiday cottage?

(112 Posts)
WetAugust Sat 27-Jul-13 19:56:13

What do you look for when booking a holiday cottage?

Old / new building?

How important is parking directly outside?

How far would you travel to a beach?

Rural or in a town?

Garden or walled courtyard?

Is downstairs bathroom acceptable?

Minimum number of bedrooms?

Stylish interior or would basic be acceptable?

Anything else?

Location for me is everything. I’m thinking of Cornwall (west / north coast) or Pembrokeshire – probably a bucket and spade holiday if you have children.

It’s not about booking a ‘dream cottage’ just about separating the must haves from the desirables - the sort of cottage you have booked or would book.

Thank you.

frostyfingers Fri 02-Aug-13 14:27:26

We booked this year a house through a company we'd used before because the first house was really well equipped, homely, and welcoming. Sadly this time round we were left 1 d/w tablet, 1 cleaning sponge and 2 teatowels - and that was it. This was abroad and we'd flown so it wasn't like we could bring loads of stuff with us. No maps, local info, trashy books, pen/paper/games and although the promised play station did work, most of the games were missing from the cases.

If I were to rent out a house I'd fill it with books, games, cards, pen & paper, provide a map of the area, and a load of tourist leaflets. An oven glove would have been useful, plus salt/pepper, spices etc. I know it all costs money but strongly feel that if you put these touches in at the beginning of the holiday period, then generally guests are happy to top up and leave behind stuff. I certainly have been in the past - left over jar of coffee, half a packet of pasta, that sort of thing.

neontetra Thu 01-Aug-13 23:59:17

Has to accept a dog. Pleasant enclosed garden is a must, with seating. Dh will only stay in period properties (doesn't bother me). A nice looking house is more tempting to book though, silly as it sounds.
Location-wise, I used to insist on at least one pub within walking distance, though now we have dd that is less relevant. Shop and takeaway options within walking distance are a real plus. We favour village locations on the whole.

teabagpleb Thu 01-Aug-13 23:47:43

With small children, my desires are a lot different to previously.
Enclosed garden. Properly enclosed, not just a two-bar fence a toddler could climb under or through.
Washing machine and dishwasher.
WiFi was a godsend when last year's place turned out to have no mobile reception there nor in the nearest 2 towns. We ended up tweeting and Facebooking each other!
Robust furniture, only a few ornaments that can be put away, lack of deathtraps like stairs with a drop.
Spare bedding. Just stayed in a nice apartment but no bedding for the sofabed. Ds wasn't fussed, luckily.
If you provide a travel cot, make it a decent one, not a rickety wooden cot that's too small for a toddler (recent hotel).
If the hot water or heating aren't on on arrival, make sure instructions are foolproof and in a really obvious place.
Also make sure your instructions for finding the place are up to date so people don't end up trying to ask locals in French where there might be a giant illuminated hedgehog and being told it was removed 5 years earlier.

If a small place, somewhere to leave a buggy. Left ours under the stairs of the apartment block last week as advised by the cleaner, so didn't carry it up 2 flights of stairs, only to get a nasty note on it saying it was in the way (no way - no-one could walk there, aisle totally clear) and we should leave it in the car or complain to our letting agent! Was very tempted to reply that the car was in London and to enquire why the architect had left hallway space wasted under the stairs if not for buggies, and they could contact X Agents themselves if they had a problem. But couldn't be bothered.

Periwinkle007 Thu 01-Aug-13 19:17:57

no pets, having stayed somewhere with fleas once I now ONLY book places which don't accept dogs.

clean, simple, not really old furnishings. Doesn't have to be new and fancy just sofas and beds etc you might actually want to use.

a little garden, nice views? safe for children. not too pokey. nice to have character of some sort if possible. washing machine is helpful for families but I wouldn't use a dishwasher if there was one. parking please, makes life so much easier. it is helpful if more than 1 loo roll is supplied, and a bar of soap too.

leaflets and local info great.

Happiestinwellybobs Thu 01-Aug-13 19:14:15

neeps I'm not surprised. We have a beloved pooch and struggle to find somewhere that fits our brief (as nice or nicer than our home) but which allows dogs. We often find the better cottages booked up earlier.

We would never want anyone to know our dog had stayed there so I always sweep/vacuum regularly and ensure there isn't a trace of Happiestdog.

neepsandtatties Thu 01-Aug-13 18:50:12

My in-laws have two identical holiday lets (stable conversions). One allows pets, one doesn't. The pets allowed one has a much higher occupancy than the pet-free one.

rockybalboa Wed 31-Jul-13 22:58:41

Pet free. I don't want to stay anywhere where other people's smelly dogs have been. Not that fussed about downstairs bathroom. Fuss free and uncluttered whether decor is modern or traditional. Never fail to be amazed by how many tatty trinkets some cottage owners dump in a house, why?!? I do like some element of effort/personal touch though as bland Homebase room set style doesn't appeal. Outside space would be a bonus, don't care if garden or courtyard but if you have outside you should provide a BBQ. I'm not a fan of rural home or away so that wouldn't be a box ticker for me. I like a well equipped kitchen so we can cook our own meals. I've spent an inordinate amount of time looking for holiday cottages this week and to be fair, it's v last minute so we have to compromise but the house in Dartmouth full to the brim of creepy looking teddies was a no no! Not fussed about parking because a lot of places in Devon and Cornwall require you to park in the main town carpark which is fine as long as you know beforehand. I quite like my holiday cottages to be well stocked with up to date tourist info leaflets etc and I like to be able to recycle my rubbish (although I will take recycling home if necess!).

Loshad Wed 31-Jul-13 22:56:23

Don't need TV or WiFi, in fact prefer it if not present.
Must haves are washing machine, dishwasher, large table for dinner, and garden. Parking must be close by. No beds in living area. Scenic peaceful location, if sheets provided must be cotton/ linen. Pets allowed if UK! don't tend to stress old dog by taking her on the ferry to mainland Europe.
Do not expect dishwasher tablets etc, always take essentials with us.
Not loads of ornaments/Nic nacks.
Nice extras include board games, sports equipment ( eg fishing rods, bikes, rackets), random spare novels in case you run out of reading matter.

ZuleikaJambiere Wed 31-Jul-13 22:48:38

I won't comment on summer holidays, as everything I'd say has already been said. But in addition to a family summer holiday, we go away with friends in the winter and our needs are pretty different then.

Firstly we have failed to ever find a 5 bedroom cottage with 3 doubles/king size, it's nearly always 2 and we have to take it in turns to be the couple in the twin room. Also, the living room must have enough seating for everyone and the same in the dining room - eating in shifts or lounging on the floor drives me mad. As these are winter breaks, good heating and a boot room/utility room are essential for wet clothes. Walking distance to a shop for yet more milk/selection of papers/sweets to bribe the kids is also essential.

(PS if you get one in Pembrokeshire, let me know, it's my favourite place in the world)

Ohhelpohnoitsa Wed 31-Jul-13 22:09:12

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Ohhelpohnoitsa Wed 31-Jul-13 18:51:46

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

BlackandGold Mon 29-Jul-13 18:16:13

Stayed in an amazing converted farm building in Devon last year. Clean, comfortable, everything provided but hated having to drive down one track lanes with passing places to get to it!

WetAugust Sun 28-Jul-13 20:25:57

I did have a good look at their website Delayed as it's a part of the country that I'm quite keen on visiting - thanks

DelayedActionMouseMaker Sun 28-Jul-13 20:21:15

Oh but they also do much smaller places, well worth checking out. Another company who do things well (or did when we last went 3 years ago) is Niche Retreats in Cornwall.

DelayedActionMouseMaker Sun 28-Jul-13 20:20:03

Wet August, out of our price range too, luckily we were guests of sme lovely friends. smile

EnlightenedOwl Sun 28-Jul-13 18:49:35

A nice sitting out area
I go for non smoking no pets
hidden extras put me off one cottage was offering mid week bed linen change for £50 - £50 for new bedding!
no cluttery ornaments littered everywhere I am the one who breaks things!
I also won't feed a coin meter gas electricity should be included
A washing machine is a nice addition but not a deal breaker can manage without a dishwasher
A small welcome pack is very much appreciated.
I pay about up to £550 and that gets you a pretty decent two/three bed cottage with most facilities.

marleebrodie Sun 28-Jul-13 12:09:06

Washing machine and dryer
No pets- I like pets we have pets but I don't want to holiday where somebody else has taken their pets.
Modern plumbing decent power shower
Satellite tv or at least freeview
Modern good quality furnishings

YoniAsOldAsYoFeel Sun 28-Jul-13 11:18:14

Dishwasher, washing machine and tumble dryer. I always do the majority of the laundry whilst away so I don't have to do it when we get home. Comfy beds and a good shower are a must too. An open fire is a nice to have when it gets a bit chillier.

WetAugust Sun 28-Jul-13 11:04:01

All really good advice - thank you

I'm starting to think it boils down to those who just want a simple base for the great outdoors and those who want effectively a home from home.

Two very different markets in almost aspect - including cost.

My 'top end' cottage this year was about £950 a week. For that it was in the middle of the town, had 3 bedrooms, one ensuite, two living rooms, large kitchen / diner, wood-burning stove, dishwasher, fridge, microwave, freezer, cooker, (small) TV, central heating, large main bathroom with roll-top bath, all refurbished to a good standard about 3 years ago with good quality furniture and a large well kept garden. Bags of character as it was C17th.

Previous year my 'low end' cottage was £640 a week. Also in the middle of the town and also C17th. That's where the similarity stops.
Basic small kitchen/living room with dangerously steep stairs to two very cramped bedrooms. No dishwasher, no freezer, broken microwave, small electric fire. Two really uncomfortable settees. Bathroom in extension downstairs with only shower and just a courtyard outside with no privacy.

So, £300 and a world of difference in comfort and quality, which was worth paying for.
Delayed yours looked amazing but very out of my price range.

whereareyou Sun 28-Jul-13 10:48:05

I agree that coastal retreats in Northumberland are excellent.

We want at least the same facilities as at home, even if smaller cottage.

Not basic, for a UK stay it is usually an add on to our main summer holiday,so I don't want to go somewhere that isn't lovely. Especially as the UK weather is so mixed, you can be in the cottage more than abroad.

I want somewhere I curl up with a book after a walk in February that is warm and comfortable. Otherwise I may as well do day trips from home or weekend small hotel stays.


Dishwasher and well equipped and maintained kitchen

Bathroom and ensuite with decent spec.


If aimed at more than 5 days stays,I want a washing machine and tumble drier.

Freeview and dvd player with films,but we had sky tv with films and a wii/ playstation at our coastal retreats cottage and this was a real treat in evenings for the children, especially when weather not great.

Outside space to play and sit,preferably with some play equipment such as bats and balls (well maintained and kept neatly) and a lovely garden or good view.

Parking outside.

Must be stylish, well decorated definitely( doesn't matter if ikea stuff added in, as long as it looks well put together not 'fussy') and immaculately,clean. No fusty smells.

Quality, cotton bedding and frequently replaced clean mattress - I always check.

Comfortable sofa for reading, with logburner if a winter stay.

Facility to arrange online food delivery for arrival and a small 'welcome pack' of milk, eggs,butter,jam,bakery bread,cake and wine.

Spotless, soft towels.

Dishwasher tablets, loo roll, hand soap, washing up liquid in enough quantity to last for a short stay of less than 5 days.

3 bedrooms, so grandparent can come.

Near a small village/ town for eating out, food shopping.

Beach optional, as we often go for countryside. Interesting area with places to visit and good pubs for eating are a must though.

We prefer to pay more and share holiday and cost with grandparent.

I wouldn't normally go for anywhere with a closeby river with young children, although the fenced off area sounds a possibility if it is large enough. A boat is great for parents with older children.

The 5 star cottage market, but equipped for families is the way I would go if I was buying a cottage. These places are always booked well ahead, and people return visit which saves costs in terms of marketing.

Cremolafoam Sun 28-Jul-13 10:43:36

Oh forgot to mention pillows.
These should be plentiful and in a choice of firm- soft. Also really loath silly satin cushions & bedcovers that you know cannot be washed.( the mind boggles ) At least a cotton bedspread can be thrown in the wash.

BackforGood Sun 28-Jul-13 09:46:54

It's apparent that a lot of us have different things that are / aren't important, or are important but opposite of each other (eg, pets allowed / not allowed).
Personally I don't want a TV, and would resent paying for stuff such as Sky, wi-fi, etc when I'm not going to use it - I'd rather pay less and have something simple. My dc have loved the whole excitement of having bunks on holiday, and it's meant we can all fit into a smaller cottage - but I can see that people with tiny children wouldn't want them, etc.etc
So I think the main thing is to be Clear about what you are offering. If you advertise as pet free, then DON'T let people bring a pet! If you say it's an easy stroll to the beach, I would expect to be able to do that in under 10 mins with a pushchair and a tired toddler- not a hike down a cliff path with stiles to negotiate or whatever. We all want different things, so make it clear in the advert / on the website what it is that's there.

middleagedspread Sun 28-Jul-13 09:25:25

If it's marketed as a beach cottage 2o mins walk is enough. Views would be a bonus. Also somewhere to hang wet suits.
Parking is essential as is a walkable pub that does food.
I wouldn't consider anywhere that didn't have a king sized bed & dish washer.
Somewhere (garden, terrace) to eat meals outside.
Not too low ceilings would be good.

MadeOfStarDust Sun 28-Jul-13 08:47:25


for us it is a cheap bed somewhere else..

Taffeta Sun 28-Jul-13 08:38:39

Within 8 miles of beach
Shower and bath
Up to date decor and furnishings. I find cottages that need updating really depressing. Natural light, not dingy.
Some outdoor space with a table and chairs so can sit outside with a drink or have breakfast
Proper beds in rooms, double for us and a room each for DC with updated bedclothes
DVD library a bonus
Dishwasher a bonus
Washing machine and tumble dryer a necessity if staying more than 5 days
Parking next to property
Rural preferred to town, as we live semi rurally at home and aren't used to lots of noise

Not worried about what it's stocked with, bring own and get an online delivery arranged within a few hours of arrival.

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