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Holiday cottage - What would make you feel welcome?(160 Posts)
We are moving to a house with a holiday cottage attached. Rural area two miles from beautiful coastline and two miles from nearest station. We have three young children and have our own ideas about what we need from a self catering cottage which is welcoming to a family. (DH would require an open fire - but there isn't one!) What is your list of requirements that would make a cottage really special for your holiday? From basics to luxury treats - we want to make it a real home from home for the whole family and obviously want people to recommend it and want to come back. What would do it for your family? Thanks for your thoughts.
I always like to see the extra touches, like a welcome pack (which you could offer as a chargeable extra), maybe some books and games, TV/DVD player. Linen provided (could be optional extra). A "locality" pack, detailing whats on in the local area, where the best beaches are, etc.
Maybe extras like babysitting/taxi service.
When advertising it, particularly on the net - details of how much it will roughly cost for the week I'm interested in, not a "ball park figure", ie £200-2000 doesn't help! Lots of photos. Contact email which is checked regularly.
One we went to in Cornwall had a huuuuge cream cake in the fridge
Have a small supply of tea, coffee, sugar , fresh milk and biscuits/homemeade cake for arrival and offer a basic shopping delivery or list of online stores locally. Enough dinnerware and cutlery for the residents plus a couple extra. Make it very clean and easy to sweep and wipe over during the hire. Dishwasher and wm. Separate lobby to store wet coats, boots and pushchair. Beach toys, cool box, barbecue etc available to borrow. Bath toys and mat.
We've stayed in a cottage where you've been ablet to do an online grocery shop which is delivered prior to arrival and packed away. That was great - especially with small children.
Clean, plain bedding, no chinzy country cottage frills, its much better if its pared back and more modern, imo, but with country touches.
Wooden floors, new furniture, lots of dining space,white plates and mugs, toiletries in the bathroom are nice. I'm jealous! I would love to do up and own a holiday cottage.
Oh, don't do what one website for a holiday cottage did. They announced 'Please Please take your boots off before you traipse mud all over our carpets'. That put me right off!
Random selection of books - raid local charity shops!
someone suggested wellies otme which I think was silly - how can I supply that many sizes!
we do supply umbrellas, toys indoor and out, picnic blanket
wine and a welcome pack of milik etc
we went to one recently which had basic breakfast things - ie. tea bags, milk, coffee, sugar - those little individual ceral boxes, bread and marmalade and Jam. Was lovely not to have to rush out first thing next morning after arriving late at night the day before.
Also - there were DVDs, books, local maps, info on local restaurants etc etc
there were nice toiletries in the bathroom - not massively posh ones - just nice tho.
Plus they had big open fire and all stuff for making fires was included.
Was best cottage have ever stayed in.
basket with some local produce would be nice, free WiFi
We stayed at a place that sold itself as for preschoolers - what was fab was: pile of books in each room, potty, toddler toilet seat, nappy bin, change mat, bath mat, bed guard, toys in lounge and in garden, childrens cutlery cups and plates, high chairs and booster seats, baby monitor, and backpack to borrow.
That really reduced the things to pack.
It would be great if the kitchen had basic herbs and spices, salt, pepper and oil - the bits that its a pain to buy a whole packet of just cos you need a teaspoon full
Offering a welcome pack and first night dinner in the fridge service would be great.
A big pack of things to do locally, plus nice food shops. Link to local activities on your website so that people know what is around you.
Ensuring that parents can have a nice evening is important - so Freeview, TV, DVD player (plus a few DVDs), and a BBQ.
I like a cottage that looks fairly up to date too - chintzy puts me off
Plenty of hot water and no coin meter!
A really easy to clean bathroom - ie no carpets to get soaked by splashy children.
Somewhere to hang wet clothes and a tumble drier.
Easy to use oven (we've been cursed with horrible complicated things that have no manuals before now)
A box of old toys/books/games. In fact books in general are always a good bonus.
Milk, bread and some sort of treat (we had a saffron cake in Cornwall once). A bottle of wine is also nice too but maybe a bit extravagant.
Make yourself known to the visitors and let them know you are there in case of problems, but don't hang around. Nothing more uncomfortable than the owner constantly knocking on the door and peering through the windows And beleive me I'ev experienced that!
And a few roll of loo paper and some soap is very helpful too.
I stayerd somewhere recently that had no towels
ah yes CMOTdibbler - the cottage we stayed in had basic herbs/ spices/ salt/ pepper and cooking oil - which was also excellent.
Plus TV with DVD player.
I'll tell you what my pet hates are and you can do the opposite!
-cheap cleaning products and equipment that make it hard to get the place looking decent at the end
-bad directions that make it hard to find the place
-lack of decent recycling facilities or no proper instructions on where to put recyclable waste, especially when they then tell you you are only allowed to put out a limited amount of rubbish at the end
-not enough sharp knives/chopping boards
-there's a dishwasher but they expect you to buy your own dishwasher powder
I love it when they provide books on the history of the local area to dip into - that can really improve your visit. A good visitors' book to share experiences with future visitors is great - we stayed in a cottage last summer that had a very well-organised folder where you could read other people's recommendations for the best restaurants, shops, play areas etc in the locality.
As a seasoned cottage-renter...
Milk, tea, coffee (ideally "real" not instant, with a cafetiere), biscuits, salt, pepper and olive oil in the kitchen. I would include welcome pack in the price - if I'm renting a cottage I will pay significantly more for one that looks lovely, but would be a bit annoyed to be asked to pay a few quid for milk and biscuits and shampoo. Irrational but true.
Easy to clean
Provide all towels, bedding and some toiletries.
Cotton bedding and duvets if possible, not blankets (urgh)
Nice garden/place to sit outside if possible
Mirrors in sensible places eg over the sink in the bathroom
Make sure all furniture is secured to the wall, heavy TVs secured etc to be safe for small children.
Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms
Info pack with notes about the cottage (eg how heating works), local taxi/emergency numbers, leaflets about local restaurants, attractions etc.
If anything is wrong eg broken door handle, blown lightbulb etc., make a priority of getting it fixed - don't leave it and don't get shirty if renters mention it.
Be flexible with nice renters. I really get upset by incredibly suspicious and accusatory cottage owners who automatically assume I want to sneak 45 people into a cottage that sleeps 6, and intend to leave it in a mess. I don't. I know there must be some renters who abuse cottages but I think some cottage-owners get into a mentality that all members of the public are bastards out to rip them off - don't be like that! If people are nice and responsible, then let them bring an extra readybed or stay a couple of hours over as a special request. Being nice will bring repeat business.
We recently went to the cottage of our dreams (sadly only for one night as we were on a weekend tour) - the owner was lovely, she allowed us to bring readybed for DS, asked how old he was, greeted us with a present for him of some chocolate (ok not all parents would like that but she checked with us first), was available but not intrusive, cottage was beautiful, well-kept and everything provided.
definitly have a welocome pack as other posters have suggested.
we are going to a holiday cottage near whitby in june and trawling the web for ideas of what to in the area is my idea of hell as there are so many websites, a nice pack of leaflets, fliers etc. of whats in the area would be great.
also how about having different types of pillow available, i like a nice firm one<snurk> and dh likes soft fluffy ones.
And provide more crockery/cutlery than is needed for the number of people the house accomodates. I've been somewhere where there was literally one place setting per person and no more. So everything had to be washed up straight away. Really unfriendly.
What really put me off the cottage we went to last year (also attached to owners house) was a list of instructions on what we were not allowed to do and what we had to do. We booked the cottage envisaging that we would be able to let ds play in the garden - when we turned up it made it clear that it was their garden that we could walk around but no children could go round unaccompanied, and dogs should be on leads - the only place we could be was on the small patio area directly in front of the house. There was also a big rant about previous occupiers not sorting their rubbish into the appropriate bins properly. This all could have been done in a more positive way which would have been more welcoming. There also was no where to hang wet wetsuits to dry after a day at the beach. In contrast, both of the two cottages we'd been previously in a similar sort of location, had the same rubbish sorting requirements, but made this really easy to understand and polite - no problem. Both of them had a cupboard in the living room with toys for children.
I don't think you need to go for a bottle of wine - but a pint of milk, tea bags, coffee sachets and small pack of nice biscuits or a small cake would be lovely - ideally herbs, salt, pepper, oil in cupboard with note to say please use. Washing up liquid (good) and dishwasher detergent if there is a dishwasher (also good). Washing machine - essential! If you could offer the option of an internet delivery that could be packed away that would be great, but not everyone is close enough to do this - and you might have problems getting deliveries at an acceptable time for you etc.
Somewhere to sit outside - and some children's outdoor toys ideally.
Hope it goes well!
Oh, and please can you let us all know where it is as I think we might all book for later in the year/next summer
Oh yes and if you want to be child-friendly, some children's cups and cutlery too. many times in a cottage I've forgotten to bring a cup for DS and ended up with a toddler slurping from a pint glass or wineglass.
I'd love know where you are OP...
it sounds lovely.
Provide good cooking equipment - knives, saucepans and even cake tins and oven proof dishes .
Visitors book and local recommendations of things to do
If near coastline, a few buckets and spades not a bad idea
To be honest, I always now take salt, pepper and stuff as presume that not provided.
Is always nice to get a welcome pack - even if a box of biscuits. Breakfast packs are also great - and means I'm more likely to do the shopping for other food locally as I know can just turn up.
Linen and towels provided definitely. Cot and high chair provided. Some games/jigsaws/books/magazines. I've seen some offer bicycles for use by the guests, which was really attractive. Throw in a bottle of wine and I'm all yours!
When you advertise, I would suggest you include pictures of all rooms. and list details of child-friendly features such as stairgates, enclosed garden, available cot and highchair etc. If somewhere doesn't explicitly say what they have on offer I'd be inclined to keep looking elsewhere rather than investigate further.
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