Cottage Holidays! Self Catering Holiday Cottages Guide
1 – Introduction To Cottage Holidays
Cottage holidays and self catering holiday cottages are great for taking a welcome break and get away from the demands of everyday life. They are particularly advantageous when travelling with aged parents or small children. They are also great as a base for hiking holidays where you want your own independence to do all your own hikes.
Most people spend a lot of thought, time and effort regarding the kind of holiday that they want to take. However, many people limit their choices between exotic cruises, cultural holidays or even adventure holidays, particularly if they have lively kids. As a result, many overlook the many opportunities available to choose from on cottage holidays.
The popularity of choosing cottage holidays over hotel rooms has increased. In recent years, taking a holiday in self catering holiday cottages or private dwelling in preference to that of hotel accommodation has increased significantly.
Are you tired of your hectic daily schedule? Do you want to get away from day to day routine, strict targets and other errands? Are you weary of camping, fed up of caravanning or bored of hotels? If yes then cottage holidays may be just what you need!
In this article we first define what a cottage holiday is before describing the benefits in details. After briefly covering who might go on a cottage holiday we outline how to go about finding a holiday cottage. To end we describe the criteria to consider when choosing a holiday cottage for your own circumstances.
To find out more about a variety of different types of holiday cottages visit my holiday cottages guide. If you want to find a holiday cottage right now then go to my post on self catering holiday accommodation for popular holiday destinations.
A brief guide to cottage holidays as a base for a self catering holiday. There is something for everyone!
Contents On Cottage Holidays
Use the following guide to find out more about cottage holidays units:
- 1 – Introduction To Cottage Holidays
- 2 – What Are Cottage Holidays
- 3 – Benefits Of Cottage Holidays
- 3.1 – Choice And Flexibility
- 3.2 – Individuality, Space And Privacy
- 3.3 – Variety And Homely Comforts
- 3.4 – No Set Meals
- 3.5 – Family Friendly
- 3.6 – Lower Cost
- 4 – Who Might Go On Cottage Holidays
- 5 – Finding Holiday Cottages
- 6 – Choosing A Holiday Cottage
- 6.1 – Reason For Holiday
- 6.2 – Chosen Location
- 6.3 – Size Of Group
- 6.4 – Search Criteria
- 6.5 – Property Listings
- 6.6 – Children
- 7 – Summary On Cottage Holidays
2 – What Are Cottage Holidays
The definition of a cottage as used in the phrase “cottage holidays” is used somewhat freely. This is our definition of a cottage holiday:
- Self Catering – To start with, a cottage holiday means that the accommodation is normally of the self catering type with your own cooking facilities to use.
- Sole Use Property – A cottage holiday refers to any type of accommodation you stay in when going on a holiday or short break. The accommodation is usually an individual property for your sole use which is frequently owed by individuals.
3 – Benefits Of Cottage Holidays
The benefits you get from cottage holidays are varied and also depend on your reasons for taking your holiday or short break. Here are the main benefits we could think of summarized as: choice and flexibility; individuality, space and privacy; variety and homely comforts; no set meals; family friendly and lower cost:
3.1 – Choice And Flexibility
With a cottage holiday you have the choice and flexibility to do what you want, where you want and when you want:
- What – You can choose to do what you like. If you want to go sight seeing, shopping, to simply go for a walk, or just relax in your accommodation, it is up to you. There are no restricted or limited options, only your own imagination.
- Where – You can choose to stay virtually anywhere you like, be it near in the United Kingdom (England, Scotland or Wales), Ireland, France, Italy and further afield in Europe or the World.
- When – You can choose to go on your holiday or short break virtually any time of the year. When on your cottage holiday you make your own schedule to suit yourself. No being restricted or limited by the schedules of an organiser. You just do it when you are ready.
- How Long – You can choose the length of stay that suits you. There are holiday cottages available from one to several weeks and also mid-week and weekend short breaks.
3.2 – Individuality, Space And Privacy
With cottage holidays you can choose the individual property that suits you and can relax in the knowledge that it is for your own private use:
- Individuality – Nearly all holiday cottage accommodation is individually owned. This means that the accommodation has an individual character.
- Space – The majority of the holiday cottages provide you with more space and autonomy when compared with everyday hotel rooms. It is therefore possible for you to take virtually anything you want with you, provided that you are able to pack it and transport it with you. As a consequence, you do not have to think much about the space you need whilst on your cottage holiday. You do not have to feel guilty if you pack extra clothing. Also there is no need to worry about where you will store your luggage like you may have to with the little rooms provided by most hotels.
- Privacy – A cottage, if chosen with care, can provide you with a lot of privacy that can be perfect for families who want to spend some quality time together. You can escape from the busy working schedules that mark most of our daily lives. It can also be the ideal accommodation option for newlyweds who could take the benefit of this opportunity to get to know each other better!
3.3 – Variety And Homely Comforts
As many holiday cottages are individual and privately owned homes there are a wide variety to choose from. Variety comes in the form of property type, location, and facilities and equipment. Also, because each holiday cottage used to be a home for someone, they are like a home from home with homely comforts:
- Property Variety – Cottage holidays are taken in a wide range of different types of holiday accommodation in all shapes and sizes to suit your individual needs. Example property types include: detached or semi-detached houses; townhouses; bungalow; barn conversions; villas, lodges/chalets, flats, apartments or studios; and maybe the occasional manor house or castle, etc. And yes, cottage holidays also refer to the traditional definition of a cottage, a quaint and picturesque dwelling in the countryside.
- Location Variety – As holiday cottages are individual properties, you can find them located in different locations all over the world in major cities; countryside towns; villages; near to a pub, by the sea, by a river; near mountains or in the open countryside. Whichever type of location you prefer, you will be able to find a holiday cottage to match your needs. The options are vast.
- Facilities And Equipment Variety – Most holiday cottages are equipped with all the facilities and equipment associated with home life. The number of facilities together with the design and character of facilities and equipment will vary from property to property. However, all holiday cottages should have the standard facilities of a private lounge with audio visual equipment; private kitchen with cooking equipment; bedrooms with furniture for storage; and one or more private bathrooms for your group. Depending on the property type you may also have a garden or sun terrace, or even BBQ area. Some luxury holiday cottages may even come complete with a hot tub or swimming pool.
- Homely Comfort – The kind of accommodation you select for your holiday is likely to determine the degree of enjoyment you get from it. Staying somewhere that provides homely comforts like a lounge with comfortable seating and entertainment equipment; a kitchen with cooking facilities; and even a garden with furniture is great for making you feel like you are in a comfortable holiday home from home. These comforts may be especially welcome at times when the weather turns nasty. If you get caught out in a downpour you have somewhere comfortable to return to and your holiday is not ruined.
3.4 – No Set Meals
With cottage holidays there are no set rules for meal times only those that you may make for yourself. In fact there is no need for any rules. You decide what you eat, when you eat and where you.
Say goodbye to being tied down to hotel meal times. Say goodbye to the struggle involved when feeding a bunch of hungry campers with a camping stove. You no longer have to worry about your own diet. When catering for yourself you do not have to worry about the contents and ingredients are on the menu. You have to choice between cooking in the homely comfort of your holiday cottage with the luxury of your own cooking facilities or eating out at local eating establishments.
Part of the pleasure of a self-catering cottage holiday is that you do not have to have all your meals in one place. You have the option of exploring the local area and deciding where, what and when you eat. You could even experience a different eating establishment each night if you wish.
3.5 – Family Friendly
Holiday cottages are a particularly great option if you want to take children, pets or elderly people with you. If you want your nearest and dearest to really benefit from their holiday break, picking a self catering holiday cottage can be the best option:
- Children – Kids cannot really flourish to their greatest potential in artificial hotel rooms. The extra space that usually comes with holiday cottages enables your kids to feel like they are in a home away from home. Holiday cottages provide kids children with the freedom they need so much.
- Pets – Many but not all holiday cottage owners permit holiday makers to take their pets with them which can be a big cost saving in terms of pet boarding fees.
- Elderly Parents – You may want to take your parents away and be able to provide them with some tender loving care and attention. Taking them on a cottage holiday enabled you to achieve this. Your parents get to go away with you in comfort and you can keep an eye on them. More importantly, your parents feel that they are still part of your life and get to share memorable times with you.
3.6 – Lower Cost
The cost of a self catering cottage holiday when compared to a hotel or package holiday is highly likely to be lower:
- Lower Facilities Cost – Firstly, the cost of self catering holiday cottages all over the world are normally a lot less expensive when compared to the cost normally incurred when staying in a hotel room that provides the equivalent facilities. Having said that, can you actually get your own private kitchen or garden in a hotel? Maybe if you go to the luxury end of the market it could be at a higher cost.
- Buy Only What You Want – Secondly, with a cottage holiday you can just buy what you want and not be concerned about any items within the package that you do not use.
- Eat What & When You Want – Thirdly, as you will be catering for yourselves in your own private kitchen, you can just buy and eat what you want and not be worried about any food you do not eat as with a hotel or catered holiday. You can make a cup of tea of coffee or a drink for the children any time you want and it will not cost much. An additional bonus may be that you are less likely to eat too much.
- No Pressure To Tip Staff – Lastly, as you will be doing all tasks for yourselves you will not be paying for any staff service or feel that you have to tip staff.
4 – Who Might Go On Cottage Holidays
Holiday cottages come in all different sizes to suit all sorts of holiday makers. Whatever kind of holiday or break you are looking for, you can find a holiday cottage to make it a perfect occasion. The choice is up to you. There are holiday cottages for:
- Families – If you have family that wants to go away on holiday together, including children, pets, or elderly parents then there are a wide range of medium sized holiday cottage options sleeping 4 to 8 people to choose from.
- Small Groups – If you have close group of friends or a small group from a community or social group that want to meet up on holiday you can find larger holiday cottages that sleep up to about 20 people.
- Couples – If there is just the two of you, you will be able to find a wide variety of smaller properties to satisfy your needs. If you want a romantic time away you can find an idyllic small converted barn or traditional cottage that sleeps just two people.
5 – Finding Holiday Cottages
There are two main places you can go to find holiday cottages.
Which you use will depend mainly on how much you want to be involved in the selection process; or how much effort you are prepared to put in to find something that suits your needs:
5.1 – Travel Consultants
If you go to a travel consultant, they should have access to a wide variety of agents that deal with self catering accommodation rentals for holiday makers. If you are arranging your mode of travel with a travel consultant, it could be beneficial to also delegate the task of finding suitable accommodation to them at the same time. This has the advantage that another person is doing the hard work on your behalf with regard to searching for and booking the holiday cottage. This is fine as long as you give the consultant unambiguous instructions as to what you want. A second advantage is in terms of payment. You should only need to pay one person for both travel and accommodation. Also, you may be able to obtain a payment option which spreads the cost over a period of time, if the consultant provides this facility.
5.2 – On The Internet
The Internet is a great place to search for holiday cottages. You can make use of search engines such as Google or any other and you will be presented with various options for finding holiday cottages. Some benefits to searching for holiday cottages online are given below:
- Personal Preference – With online searching you can make a choice based on your own individual criteria and preferences.
- Property Viewing – Whilst searching you may actually have the chance to view the properties via photographs or virtual tours and get a personal feeling for how suitable it is.
- Tourist Information – For those people unfamiliar with a particular area, searching the Internet is also a brilliant approach to discover more about it to help you plan your sightseeing adventures and activities before heading off on your holiday.
5.3 – Types Of Website
Many websites set up to provide holiday cottages are run by either tour operators or agents. Some of them also allow home owners to list their home as available to rent. Searching for holiday cottages online can be done in a number of ways as described below:
- National Agents – Searching for holiday cottages on a national basis, the UK for example using a term like “UK Cottage Holidays”, should provide options to search holiday cottage agents that have a national database of cottages. They may also deal with holiday cottages in several other countries, including abroad.
- Regional Agents – Searching for holiday cottages using a regional term will give results for agents of holiday cottages for that region. Example terms include a county term such as “Cornwall Cottage Holidays”; a popular holiday zone term like “Lake District Cottage Holidays” or a several counties term like “South West Holiday Cottages”.
- Local Agents And Owners – Unless you know the name of a specific local agent or owner of holiday cottages, you will probably be searching based on a local area term such as a city, town or village such as “Bude Holiday Cottages” or a zone such as “North Cornwall Holiday Cottages”.
Whatever search term you use, you are likely to get a large number of search results to choose from. Note however, each search you do may give results for all three type of holiday cottage provider identified above. This is because the larger providers will also target smaller areas.
5.4 – Personal Choice
How you find your holiday cottage for your cottage holiday will be a personal choice. My personal preference is to search the Internet and to first try a large reputable holiday cottage agent that I am familiar with, such as Cottages4You. If I cannot find something suitable via them then I will try a different or smaller agent, depending on where I want to go.
6 – Choosing A Holiday Cottage
Finding the right holiday cottage for your circumstances will take some time and effort like any other type of holiday but it is well worth it. Ensure you know what you are looking for before you start searching. Also make sure you read and understand the terms and conditions of the websites. Then when you find what you want, book it before someone else does. If you need some clarification on some aspects of the property there should be a telephone number or email address you can contact for clarification.
Before you book your holiday cottage, it is worthwhile writing down a list of your criteria so that you can compare it against properties and therefore aid your decision process. Here are some factors to consider in your choice of holiday cottage:
6.1 – Reason For Holiday
Each holiday you take may have unique criteria. The more you consider the reason in advance, the more likely you are to enjoy it. What is the reason for your holiday? Here are some questions:
- Normal – Is it just a normal holiday for you and your partner?
- Romantic – Is it a romantic or a surprise holiday for two?
- Celebration – Is it a notable celebration for someone?
- Parents – Is it a family holiday to include your parents?
- Children/Pets – Is it to include children and/or pets for some quality family time?
6.2 – Chosen Location
Your location in terms of country, region and vicinity is usually going to be your first and most important criteria. Vicinity is highly likely to depend on the size of your group; the type of people in your group; and of course, their personal preferences. However, here are some typical vicinity scenarios:
- City, Town Or Village – Larger group that may want to celebrate being together are likely to prefer to be near a city, town or village with easy access to eating establishments like restaurants, bistros and cafes.
- Beach, Park Or Attractions – With families that have children, or parents with them, a location close to amenities like a beach, a park, or where there is easy access to visitor attractions is likely to be of paramount importance. Families will probably also want to be near supermarkets and high streets for shopping, and be near medical facilities in case of an emergency situation or an illness.
- Isolated Locations – If you are a couple on an intimate break alone, you are likely to want to be located in a secluded location for peace and tranquillity so you can enjoy each others company. Choosing a countryside, mountainside, riverside or isolated coastal cottage is more likely to guaranteeing you will be able to relax and enjoy you holiday.
6.3 – Size Of Group
One of the most important considerations during your property search will be the number of people in your group. In parallel with number of people will be the number and type of beds required. The most efficient way to find a suitable property would be to look for properties using the combination of both number of people in the group and number of bedrooms required. Look for websites that provide this facility as it will save a fair amount of time. If you have a large group you will be looking for bigger properties.
Properties may say that they sleep a certain number of people, or a specific number of men and women. However, be aware that some of the beds may indeed turn out to be either a sofa bed or bunk beds. These options may be fine for children as part of a family holiday but do not assume that people in your group will settle for a sofa bed or a bunk bed. Make sure you know the number and type of sleeping arrangements required for every member of your group, and always read the detailed property descriptions so that you can satisfy them, before booking a property. This will avoid any disappointments or even arguments on arrival.
6.4 – Search Criteria
Many holiday cottage websites have a database search facility for finding a cottage to match your preferences. They will usually provide a list of criteria by which you can search the available properties. Basic search criteria included on most websites are:
- Number of people
Many websites also provide an advanced or detailed availability search calendar which includes the basic search criteria and extra search criteria. Some examples of the extra search criteria are:
- Price range
- Start Date
- Length of stay
- Number of bedrooms
As well as the above criteria, you may also be able to select some features that you want at the property. Some examples may be:
- Pets welcome
- Swimming pool
- Pub nearby
- Ease of access
- Cot available
- Enclosed Garden
- Open Fire
6.5 – Property Listings
Each individual property listing should have several photographs showing various areas of the property such as the exterior, lounge, kitchen and bedrooms plus a written description. Also, within the body of the description and/or as a text (and/or icon) list, they should identify all the facilities provided. Here is an example text list:
- Electricity included
- Gas central heating included
- Bed linen and towels included
- High chair
- Satellite TV
- Washing Machine
- Fridge freezer
- Roadside parking
- No smoking
6.6 – Children
When taking young children away on a cottage holiday with you, items such as cots and gates may be important requirements. On top of that, you may want to check that they have safety precautions for infants, for example, covering ponds and swimming pools effectively if they are not in use. A games and DVD collection may also be among your requirements or even a pool table for those times when the weather is too poor to venture out.
7 – Summary On Cottage Holidays
Here we have defined a cottage holiday as a holiday in self catering accommodation which you have the sole use of.
Next we described in detail the main benefits of a cottage holiday as: choice and flexibility; individuality, space and privacy; variety and homely comforts; no set meals; family friendly and lower cost.
We then briefly outlined who might go on a cottage holiday as being families, small groups and couples.
After describing the main ways to find a holiday cottage we describe criteria to consider when choosing a holiday cottage.
Whether it is a one or two week long annual holiday or a short break or get away from the demands of everyday life, cottage holidays and self catering holiday cottages are a great option, especially if you have aged parents or small children with you.
So next time you get tired of your busy day to day routine, or want to escape from the tight deadlines and endless tasks of work, consider a cottage holiday.
If you are fed up of tents and camping, jaded by hotel rooms, or tired of compact caravans, a cottage holiday could give you a fresh new perspective on holidays!