A cottage can be many things, but essentially you have your own front door,
own kitchen, bathroom, and sleeping and living rooms. A good cottage is a
wonderfully flexible base to explore an area, and many people would never
stay anywhere else. If you are new to the concept of cottage holidays here
are our top tips.
Cottage hire usually runs from Saturday to Saturday. You will usually be
asked to arrive in mid to late afternoon, and leave by ten in the morning,
to allow the owner or caretaker to clean the cottage.
Many cottages book far in advance. Try not to set your heart on one
cottage for one particular summer week, unless you are willing to be
disappointed. If there is only one cottage that appeals, ask when the
booking calendar next opens, and whether you can put an advance deposit down
against a particular week for the following year.
Cottages are usually owned by individuals, and let through agencies who
handle the administration of bookings and brochures. This means the level of
service / friendliness / cleanliness will never be wholly consistent. Your
best bet is to deal with agencies who insist on high standards. You can find
over 200 of these on the site www.cottages.co.uk
Price is not a good indication of what a cottage is like inside. Price is
related much more to where a cottage is, how many it sleeps, and what time
of year you are looking to rent it. Look for quality schemes from agencies
to help you. It can be cottages in the less-desired locations that put the
work into the quality of fixtures and fittings.
There is no reward for delaying your booking. Unlike foreign holidays,
there are virtually no discounts for late booking. Owners of cottages tend
to not let them rather than offer them for less than the normal price.
On the other hand, there are thousands of cottages in every area of the
country, so you can spend pleasant hours searching out the one that's right
Check what is included in the price. This varies with different cottage
agencies, with some seeming to make charges for everything. Items to check
include booking fees, credit card charges, bed linen, fuel, electricity, and
charges for pets.
The best value holiday will always come from cottages in less popular
areas at quieter times of the year. The more complicated the price structure
an agency offers, the more likely you are to find a bargain.
You will normally be asked for a deposit when you book, with the balance
to be paid around two months before your holiday. After paying your deposit
you will receive a letter of confirmation, with details of your cottage,
price paid etc.
Beware of low- or no-deposit offers. They look attractive, but if you
have to cancel your holiday you usually lose the full deposit, which can be
quite a lot of money.
You will normally be given detailed directions to find the cottage when
you book. These are usually written by people who know the area well, and
spend all their days finding obscure properties. Give yourself plenty of
time to arrive in comfort, and preferably in daylight. Cottages are not like
hotels, and don't have big illuminated signs outside.
Another benefit of arriving in good time is the chance to ask for
guidance as to local shops, places to eat etc. No matter how helpful the
owner / caretaker may be, they have probably just been working frantically
to clean your cottage, and really want to go home and put their feet up.
Make sure you know how everything works, and above all check contact
arrangements for if you have a problem.
If you do have a problem, ask the owner or caretaker to resolve it. If
that doesn't work - call the agency straight away. They don't want you to
suffer for a week then write a letter, because there is nothing they can do
at that stage. Take notes of when you called, who you spoke to etc.
The web site www.cottageworld.com has over 13,000 cottages and a brilliant search function so if you are looking for something very particular it will help. Meanwhile www.cottages.co.uk now has around 500 carefully selected exceptional cottages and log cabins across the UK.