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Your ideal holiday cottage

25 replies

SenoraPostrophe · 21/02/2004 13:24

I think something along these lines has been posted before, but I can't find it.

We're thinking of buying a cottage in rural Spain in order to let it out as a holiday home. As we're getting married this year and several family members are looking to hire cottages, I've noticed several gaps in what's available. In particular, we will try to make our cottage accessible for wheelchair users, and child friendly (by which I mean either no pool, or a pool with a fence round it, and an enclosed garden not just a cot and highchair). I was also thinking of making an ADSL connection available for laptop users who know how to set up a network, and maybe having a washing machine - these things are really for us when we use it, but I thought they might help - maybe we'll even put a dishwasher in when we're rich

But I was wondering if there was anything else which would make MN'ers choose our cottage over others in the area. Also how many rooms would you require? And would the size and number of beds make a difference? (eg if it's a 2 bedroom cottage should it have 2 double beds or a double and a twin? )

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fisil · 21/02/2004 13:36

I'm on this quest at the moment - I'll pop my thread back up to the top.

We rejected a place because you had to walk through one bedroom to get to another. We also preferred flexible sleeping arrangements - so a double and a twin is better. A sofa bed as additional space in the lounge is a good idea. And I know it sounds obvious, but several places didn't have enough seating round the dining table/in the lounge for the number of beds available.

Finally the customer service we are getting is very variable. We had a woman phone us up very early this morning, when she discovered she was unable to provide what we wanted, she told us off. Another bloke was very insulted when he returned my call and I asked him to remind me which property he was ringing about! I wasn't happy with the phone calls, anyway - it is much more convenient to do it all by e-mail.

Good luck - HTH

bluesky · 21/02/2004 13:40

SP, it sounds a good idea. A pool would be great for holidays, but definitely fenced/gated. Lots of shade, whether a patio/terrace or a huge tree, so that you can be outside, but little ones can be too, big rug under the tree.

Dishwasher would be a wonderful luxury. Washing machine great if there for more than a week.

A table to eat on, play games on, colouring etc in either the kitchen or sitting room. Perhaps one big living space.

Bedrooms; I think a double and twin works. My two cant bear to sleep in the same bed!!

But in the summer I am going away with my mum, and am over the moon that there are two twins, so we are able to have an adult and child per room, all of us in separate beds.

I think if you are a mum and make it homely and safe, then that will come across to other people.

wilbur · 21/02/2004 13:46

What a great project senora - I'll rent it! My ideal cottage to rent would be a three bedroom just because of flexibility to invite another friend or couple, or to divide 3 kids between the rooms. Secure garden with gated pool would be my choice too - I would be unlikely to rent somewhere with no pool unless it was right on the sea. Good selection of cooking utensils/serving dishes - not just 2 saucepans and everything else plastic, I want to feel the holiday meals are special (not bone china, of course, but a couple of nice terracotts dishes, things like that). Bookshelf for people to leave finished holiday trashy novels for next group. Folder with lots of guides to what there is to do in local area - for grown ups and kids, plus what restaurants are worth visiting, maybe even a couple of numbers for local babysitters (boy, I'm asking a lot here!) The last thing I would say, and this is purely personal due to allergies, is not too many soft furnishings that collect dust unless they can be put through the washer. This is probably less of a prob in Spain, but so often we have rented a cottage and it's full of feather cushions and eiderdowns which have been there since 1947 and I spend the week wheezing and red-eyed and eating anti-histamines like Smarties. It's a real pain and often puts me off holiday cottages. Good luck though - bet you'll find a lovely place.

SenoraPostrophe · 21/02/2004 14:21

Thanks guys. Not sure our budget will stretch to a pool just yet but you never know!

which is your thread fisil? (I'm poppng in and out today)

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fairydust · 21/02/2004 14:33

A cheapie fold up buggy so people dont have to worry about bring one.

Tinker · 21/02/2004 14:40

Provide bed linen and towels (lots of them, tea towels and bath towels) - too many say supply your own, which is a nightmare if you're flying and still a pita if you have a car.

Not bothered about a pool, I can't swim so always look for ones without one.

If you're near a beach of a manmade beach, provide buckets and spades etc. Also, old toys, bikes, bats and balls - don't have to be new, kids don't care about that.

Have a barbeque in the garden.

Enough knives and forks, the place we stayed at last year had broken ones and wobbly chairs!

A cd player is good, just a cheap one. Poss a tv and video as well.

Hm, will think of more. We really want to go to rural Spain, very hard to find somewhere reasonable.

SenoraPostrophe · 21/02/2004 15:07

The thing about towels though, is that people pinch them (don't they? )

Is it normal to ask for a security deposit for holiday homes?

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SenoraPostrophe · 21/02/2004 15:11

PS Tinker - do you need help? If you were to book a cottage in Granada province I could lend you cutlery/towels/buggy etc. Plus when I was looking, I found loads near here which gave phone number for Spanish-speakers only. I could help you book one of those if you like (but they probably have all the same problems). I'd say come and stay with us, but it might be a bit cramped!

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SenoraPostrophe · 21/02/2004 15:13

Or, if you can wait a few weeks we may have found something that'd be ready for the summer! (I'm so excited about this. I've never bought a house before. Just hope we can get the money together)

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fisil · 21/02/2004 15:24

SP - my thread is the one looking for a gite in northern France. I'm having a night mare finding one - didn't realise that this is "late" to be booking. With 5 months to go, that's at least 4 1/2 months more than we've booked before. I thought I was being hyper-organised this year!

Marina · 21/02/2004 19:37

SP, what we like about self-catering is:
Three bedrooms to split the children up, and one bedroom (ideally) to have the kind of bed that can be a double zipped up or two singles unzipped.
Bathtub - shower over it rather than separate is fine, but small people need tubs.
Rigid paddling pool (rather than inflatable) for safe toddler cooling.
Enclosed, level grounds/garden with no sudden drops. Don't expect anything fancy, just safe.
Some kind of shade in the daytime - portico, substantial tree, again, nothing fancy.
Washing machine - essential. Would not consider anywhere without one. And drying facilities - just a line and some pegs - also essential.
Highchair and cheap buggy would be bliss, although in all the gites I've stayed in, their condition has wanted me to break out the flit-gun...still ended up using them and ds has lived to tell the tale.
We also always appreciate kitchens where the knives are sharp, the pans heavy gauge, the corkscrew and tin-opener are the proper sort and not the cheapo variety, and there is some plastic crockery for the children. A teapot and mugs rather than teeny continental espresso cups are also welcome.
Gites sometimes hire linen for a modest charge and cunningly, it is usually clean and perfectly acceptable...but you'd have to be bonkers to want to pinch it. Given a lot of your clientele will be flying in, I'd risk it, personally.
Gites also routinely charge a security deposit of between £50 and £200 per property, partly to ensure the huge electricity costs are met! I think you are totally within your rights to do this - you can always waive it on meeting your tenants, gite owners have done this for us before now.
Good luck with all your plans - sounds like you have some good times lined up!

Clayhead · 21/02/2004 20:02

When I'm booking somewhere I look for:

  • dishwasher (I have one a home and don't want to wash up whilst away)
  • microwave
  • enclosed garden
  • washing machine
  • as many bathrooms as possible (i.e. if going with grandparents too, 2 bathrooms)

    Also, I've noticed over the years that we sometimes rent a place for say, 6, and then there are only 4 or 5 easy chairs/spaces at the table etc. If you have 6 beds then you need 6 chairs. Sounds simple I know but lots of people get it wrong.

    I have also noticed that more and more brochures are putting in the bed sizes, i.e. if it's double or king size, don't know if this makes a difference.
JJ · 21/02/2004 20:17

We go to places off season, so a pool is not much to us. But an enclosed garden would be! (I'm trying not to look at other people's responses so you can gauge mine accordingly.)

ADSL would be great. A functional way to cook outdoors would be good for us -- with instructions (ie, where's the coal, how do you turn on the gas) would be great as would a decent coffee maker. The basics on arrival (coffee being one of them, some milk in the fridge, salt, sugar, pasta and olive oil) would be appreciated. But decent pans and pots or at least one of everything you need are necessary. Towels are good as they're so bulky to haul on holiday. I'd opt for the better sheets, as they'll last you longer and make a good impression. Washing machine is a necessity as is a dishwasher, unless it's someone we sort of know.

Umm umm umm. More bedrooms are better for us as we all like separate bedrooms (well, three, that is, the parents and then two boys). Twins are good, I think, in the smaller bedrooms, esp if it's child-friendly place. But always say exactly what's what! For a 2 bed place, we'd only rent a double and twin, if that helps.

Good luck.. let me know how it goes and where it will be.

helenmc · 21/02/2004 20:18

can I add a TV & video and a range of films/cartoons/kids programmes. A kettle, sharp knives, decent bottle opener, loads of matching crockery, plastic cups for kids, decent hoover and everything else that every one has mentioned!!

miranda2 · 21/02/2004 21:01

Been looking for cottages this summer, so here goes.

A double bed (pref kingsize). If three bedrooms, one of the others should be zip-linked so if two couples go they can both have a double. I don't want kids in with me, so pref. room for the cot(which I'd want provided) in the 'kids' room, not the parents room.
Providing a pushchair (poss backpack too?) would be brilliant - also possibly a car seat, or details of a rental company that has safe ones available?
Things to entertain toddlers, which would be a pain to take (thats why we're staying in Britain this year!) - maybe buckets and spades and sandpit, small Little Tikes playhouse/climbing fram, some jigsaws and books suitable for various ages, maybe a wooden (Brio type) railway set??? (Quite nickable though I'd have thought, but we can't go anywhere without one! Could get a cheapo one from Tesco? Or a garage and cars, dolls house, etc - you know the sort of things, saves you having to take 'stuff'.

At the moment there are two of us plus my ds (2.5) and we are only looking at places with cot (though most are saying we have to take our own as they only provide one for 'babies' - but he still sleeps in a cot despite being over 2...), indoor pool (GB in winter - would def. want pool in spain, fenced would be ideal (or alternatively provide a fenced bit of garden for them to go in), and at least 2 bedrooms (NOT a sofa bed in the lounge). If you do do a sofa bed, make it comfortable to sleep on, not one of those horrid metal action pull out ones with thin mattresses! Get an IKEA one that is designed to actually be a bed every night).
Gosh, I'm demanding aren't I??
Bedrooms and toddler entertainment facilities are top priority for me rather than machines etc, but would agree you want decent kitchn stuff (proper wine glasses, a cafetiere, etc) - that sort of thing makes the difference as to whether you'd go back another year.

miranda2 · 21/02/2004 21:03

Forgot to say, there HAS to be a bath, not just a shower.

triplets · 22/02/2004 09:13

Good morning everyone! Up until my trio were born we owned a beautiful apartment in Majorca which we rented out to family and friends very successfully. Everyone was always full of praise as they said it was like home. We have rented cottages etc many many times and on the whole have been very disappointed with the standard of cleanliness and utensils etc. For me the MOST important thing is to provide a good size freezer, especially if the accomodation is fairly rural, children loathe being dragged round supermarkets and so do I on holiday so its great to be able to stock up and have somewhere for icecreams! Also a toaster, very British and much missed when you are away, and definitely a microwave. We also provided beach equipment, and lots of people would leave buckets and spades anyway. Yes a secondhand library of books and a few games for the kids, and a hair dryer! Let me know if you want anymore ideas and please can we rent?

SecondhandRose · 22/02/2004 11:40

If you get a CD player start collecting all the free CD's you get with a newspaper. That way it doesn't matter if things disappear.

My holiday home is advertised on the General board if anyone's interested. It's in Cheshire!

Tinker · 22/02/2004 20:52

SP - thanks for the offer of help. Think for this year we have finally, finally agreed that we're going to go to Alsace - this is a compromise since can't find many cottages in Germany. Bit of a difference from Spain! Atm the downside of Spain (for us) is the driving, would need at least a 3 week holiday (couldn't afford to hire a car for 2 weeks - in fact, forgot to mention that first thing I look for in a cottage is the price. Just being abroad is more important to me than a dishwasher - don't have one here, don't expect one there). But doesn't mean we don't want to do it one day, definitely do. Was in Barcelona last week so am currently in love with Spain

twiglett · 22/02/2004 21:02

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SenoraPostrophe · 23/02/2004 09:49

Thanks everyone.

Consensus would seem to be as much luxury as we can possibly afford, a fully equipped kitchen (though I am loath to buy matching crocks - it's just against my nature! )
and 1 double room with 2 twins (pref one that can convert into a double). A good thing to bear in mind as the places we're looking at are a 5 bed (which is in need of rennovation so could be converted into a 3 and a 1 I guess) and a pair of 2 bed houses.

The bikes are a good idea as there are few hire places here. And I like the idea of a holiday-reading swap bookshelf too. Will keep thinking!

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Galaxy · 23/02/2004 09:52

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CountessDracula · 23/02/2004 09:54

Soft bed linen and nice fluffy pillows (not feather as you may then have to fork out on additional ones for people with allergies).

IMO nothing worse than going to a lovely holiday cottage and not being able to sleep well because the duvet covers are scratchy and the pillows like boards. I always go for cottages that say Egyptian cotton bedding!

No swirly carpets!

Boot rack if in the country to stop people treading mud in to your carpets.

Nice shady terrace to avoid the sun on those hot days.

I would say do have a pool but make sure it is securely fenced.

Demented · 23/02/2004 11:11

No advice but can you let us all know on Mumsnet when it is ready? I want to go already!

Azure · 23/02/2004 13:15

I would say definitely a washing machine and preferably a dishwasher. Shady place for sitting outside - not bothered about a pool, personally. I would like DS to be able to rung around outside without watching him constantly. Nice selection of glasses - wine, water - and I do prefer matching crockery. Second the comment about decent sized mugs. The place should be toddler-proof, with all glasses and crockery in wall cabinets - at the place we stayed in in Mallorca last year, DS managed to break a glass within 5 minutes of being there. We then had to spend out first 1/2 hour moving everything out of the bottom cupboards. Sounds like an exciting project!

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