Holidays in England now permitted! Wales self-catering accommodation from 11th July 2020

Good news… Holidays in England now permitted! Many holiday apartments or homes, cottages or bungalows, campsites, caravan parks, cafes, bars, pubs and restaurants can now open providing they follow Covid-19 Secure guidelines.

Look for the We’re Good to go logo…

Can I book a cottage in Wales?

In Wales self-catering accommodation can accept bookings from 11th July and holidays can start from this date.  Self-catering accommodation in Scotland is now open and further restrictions should be lifted if conditions allow.  You can now travel from Great Britain to Northern Ireland for a holiday, however, a 14-day quarantine is in place for those visiting Ireland from GB.  Phew – it’s pretty confusing!

With holidaying abroad looking complicated demand for cottage holidays is high. Savvy individuals are making bookings now in the hope that they will get away at some stage.  Admin fees may be applied to discourage lots of speculative bookings.

Worth noting is that organisations are insisting that employees take their annual leave allowance – even if for those who are furloughed. As the long as the “R rate” stays below 1, holiday accommodation will be at a premium.  Come rain or shine a change of scenery might be just what you need.

When can I book a cottage in the UK for a holiday?

Currently (May 2020) all holiday accommodation from cottages to campsites and even hotels are closed to paying guests except for the odd exceptions that are allowed to sleep people travelling for funerals or those identified by the government as “critical workers”. Every day there seems to be a story in the press of a hopeful couple turning up somewhere like the Cotswolds or the Peak District for an Airbnb booking!  Yet the rules are pretty clear.

Travelling for day trips to the coast or countryside is now allowed in England (different rules for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) – staying overnight is still a no-no!

To the frustration of many in the hospitality industry, the government has not yet given any commitment to when restrictions will be lifted.  “Baby steps” is what Boris said.  Hospitality businesses were included in the “step three” of the government’s recovery strategy. No earlier than the 4th of July!  Itching to get going many holiday accommodation providers have started taking bookings for dates after July 4.  Many are offering the ability to change dates or give refunds should there be an extension or return of the lockdown.

With holidaying abroad looking complicated demand for cottage holidays is likely to be high. Savvy individuals are making bookings now in the hope that they will get away at some stage.  Admin fees may be applied to discourage lots of speculative bookings.

Worth noting is that organisations are insisting that employees take their annual leave allowance – even if holiday plans have been cancelled. So, if the “R rate” stays below 1 and tourism is open up holiday accommodation will be at a premium.

Should I book a holiday cottage to social distance or self-isolate?

Tempting as it may be to ‘tough-out’ these extraordinary days in a rural idyll or by the bracing seaside really you shouldn’t! The chances are, if you are arriving from a larger town or city — especially London, what you’ll be bringing is germs. While some cottage owners were actively marketing their holiday accommodation as the perfect spot to avoid Covid-19, the local populations of areas such as Cornwall, North Wales and the Highlands are not happy. The pressure is being put on local services, and if people become ill, the NHS health care facilities will not be able to cope. And now we have been told to avoid all unnecessary travel!

Yet It will be tough financially for many holiday cottage owners. Easter usually is the start of the season with many places booked months in advance. Now it looks likely that many aren’t taking bookings until after 4th June 2020.

So booking a holiday cottage in the UK will be an excellent option for the future. Just not now. Please don’t travel unnecessarily — losing out on a holiday is better than risking lives!

Nickolay Romensky from London, UK Photo Nickolay Romensky from London, UK

No pet passport? Not a problem with a dog-friendly cottage holidays

Why not holiday with your pet in the UK next year?

It could be a safer bet than planning a trip abroad. It could become more complicated, and more expensive to take your pet on holiday in Europe if we leave the EU without a deal. The current Pet Passport Scheme will no longer exist. The Government advice, for those wishing to travel to the EU is to contact a vet at least 4 months prior to travel. This is to ensure time for all the necessary blood tests and vaccinations. So, for those looking for an Easter break with the dog, it could mean a trip to Cornwall instead of Calvados! Subject to the result of the General Election.

It’s not all bad though; in the UK there are plenty of cottages that welcome pets. They do fill up quickly so book early is our advice.

Here are our Top 10 things to consider when taking your pet on holiday:

1/ You save on kennel/cattery fees – costs are around £12 – £18 per day. Dog sitters charge even more. Over a week the savings could go towards meals out or a cottage with a hot tub!

2/ Is your pet a good traveller? A long car journey is stressful enough without a howling dog in the back or a cat that is sick the moment you leave home! Take water with you, and stop for a break every few hours to let pets relieve themselves!

3/ Are dogs allowed on nearby beaches? Seasonal bans exist in some areas, so it’s always worth checking. A surprising number of beaches in Cornwall do allow dogs.

4/ Are there good walks close by? Are there parks or fields to exercise your pet in?

5/ Does the cottage have a garden? Or is there an accessible space to let the dog out?

6/ Remember to take poo bags, collar, lead, treats, bedding, crate, towels, bowls, food, balls, and toys. …and a tick remove!

7/ Is your pet microchipped? Do they have a nametag with your correct contact details? It’s useful to use your mobile phone number.

8/ What are the wet weather options? Are there pet-friendly attractions nearby? A cottage, lodge or even a caravan definitely has the advantage over a tent. Camping with wet dogs is not fun!

9/ Check flea and worm treatments are up to date.

10/ Is your pet able to be left alone for short periods? Or will it bark and disturb others? Is it house-trained?

Other factors to consider, if you’re planning on taking your dog away with you, are:

How do they cope with other dogs, new situations or crowds of people. Can they relax on the beach? Does the presence of young children running about, or people playing Frisbee, over-excite them? How do they cope in the heat? Can you provide shade for them?

That said, there are many benefits in having your pet with you; the cost saving is just one. Above all it is fun! Dogs are great for getting reluctant children out walking. In England and Wales, we are fortunate to have a fantastic network of public footpaths. In Scotland, there are plenty of wonderful lochs, forests, and glens to explore.

Nearly 55,000-holiday properties in, or around 70,000 locations

At Cottage World you can easily find cottages that allow pets. It’s simple to find the right destination with over 70,000 locations listed. For example, if you are want to stay near a National Trust or English Heritage attraction, or close to a specific city, town or village you can use our extensive ‘search’ facility, and then select your ‘must have’ options. Want a log cabin in the New Forest that sleeps 6 and welcomes pets? Or a cottage in the Lake District that allows dogs and has a hot tub? We’ve got them listed!

Over 15500 Pet-Friendly Holidays in the UK and Ireland

So, if your usual destination is the Dordogne with the dog, why not opt for the delights of Devon instead; you can avoid the stress and expense of visits to the vet. Forget ‘what if we leave without a deal?’ and give yourself some certainty! Summer 2018 was a scorcher; staying in the UK was a great choice. If you want the pick of the best pet-friendly accommodation in the UK, the golden rule is to “book early” as Fred Pontin famously used to say!

Here’s a roundup of Cottage Agents offer pages…

Holiday Home Get-togethers – Tips for planning a large gathering or family celebration

Having recently organised a large family gathering to celebrate my mothers 80th Birthday, I know all about the stresses and strains of event planning.  There are so many things to think about, not least finding a large house big enough for 14 people! My advice is to book accommodation well in advance and plan everything you can in good time, particularly if you want to have a summer weekend event.

Blaithwaite House

What’s your budget for your group holiday/weekend break?

So where do you start when the idea of having a family ‘get-together’, friends reunion, ‘big’ birthday celebration, hen party or stage weekend is suggested?  Who is invited? And who is doing the organisation? Are good places to begin.  What is your budget? And who is paying for what?

It’s good to get these things clear early on.  You don’t want to go ahead and find a beautiful house that sleeps 20 only to find that it is way out of your price range or that some people want to find cheap accommodation for the weekend and spend as little as possible.  In my case, my mother had set aside an amount to pay for her 80th Birthday celebration.  She had initially wanted to go into a hotel, however, after discussions, it was agreed that a large house or a group of cottages near each other, was a better idea and would be more flexible – plus we could take our own booze and avoid expensive bar bills!

When is the best time to book accommodation for a large group? Get the date for your large gathering sorted early!

The key thing to agree on, once who is invited is sorted, is a date or a choice of dates.  This can be tricky if your group has lots of commitments, have school children with busy social lives, or work weekends.  So giving everyone as much notice a possible is a must.  I say a choice of dates because, once you start looking for large accommodation, you may be restricting your choice of properties if you only have one date.  We only had one date – because my mother’s birthday was on a Saturday, she wanted to the weekend celebration to be then.

Find the best location for your event

So, with a date in mind, what next for finding that perfect weekend away.  Well, location, location, location is the next big thing.  There are some fabulous large properties in Scotland, great for a ‘hen weekends’. No use if the majority of your group live in Cornwall without cars and without public transport options. It’s good to know your travel limitations – who will be arriving by car? Is there a railway station nearby or a bus service?  It could be that some of your party are abroad and will be flying in – finding a holiday house near an airport could be important, particularly if time is limited.  Consider the direction everyone will be coming from.  We chose a central location in the Peak District as we had family travelling from the north, south and midlands.  If a lot of your group are in the South East then looking for a large cottage near London, or a big house in Hampshire, Dorset or the Cotswolds could be the best option.

To save money on your cottage holiday it’s worth looking to stay where fewer want to go. Less popular destinations are often as attractive as popular places it’s just that people haven’t heard of them!  Travelling might be easier too.  Whilst the Malvern Hills aren’t as stunning as Snowdonia, they are easier to get to! In the less popular destinations, cottage owners generally work hard to keep standards high and visitors coming back. Devon and Cornwall have some wonderful large houses that can be best appreciated without crowds of people.  Or if you don’t want to travel that far, a large cottage in Somerset or Wiltshire might work

Do you want to rent a country cottage or a seaside property?  Again, it’s worth thinking about the time of year.  Dragging your friends to a house in North Wales may not be ideal in the depths of winter. That said, there are some great places to stay in the winter months that are less busy and cheaper than at the height of the summer. There are 13 weeks of school holidays a year and 39 weeks that are not. So if you’re restricted to school holidays, you know that you will be paying a premium. This, unfortunately, is the reality of the market and supply and demand; lots of people want those weeks so the price goes up. However, if you can go away in term time, you could grab yourself a bargain.  The traditional Whit weekend of May / start of June can often offer the best value.  Prices are lower than the high season and if you’re lucky you can enjoy the long days with lovely weather.

Look out for offers and discounts

Another plus if you are looking for a large property and without school-aged children, is that bigger properties tend to drop the most in price outside school holidays, as families can’t travel then.  So three couples splitting the cost of a large cottage could be a real bargain. Now’s the time, if you have a baby or pre-schoolers, to take advantage of holidaying in term time! Share the cost with another couple or take along Grandparents and you’ve got built-in babysitters!

Here’s a roundup of Cottage Agents offer pages

How many beds do you need to sleep everyone? Is the accommodation suitable for disabled guests? Child-friendly? Does it allow dogs? What must your holiday home offer?

Do you need accommodation suitable for children?  Or do you have people in your group with mobility issues?  We didn’t have any babies or very small children to cater for, so no cots or high chairs needed,  instead, we wanted to find somewhere that was ok for older children – so finding a property with a garden was important, so that they could kick a ball around. And of course, having Wifi in the cottage was vital!  We did look at some cottages with a swimming pool. Some had private pools or if they were a group of cottages they often had a shared swimming pool. Swimming is a great family activity for all ages, so long as the weather is ok.  Lots of large holiday houses have hot tubs – which now seem a pre-requisite for any Hen Party!

You also need to consider the number of double, twin or single rooms you need.  Who’s happy sharing? And how many rooms are en-suite, if not all how many bathrooms in the property are there?  We managed to find accommodation with en-suite and all rooms to the same standard.

What about the dog? Do you need to bring your pets to stay?  Thankfully, we didn’t!  It can save on kennelling fees though, especially if there is more than one dog.  Look for properties that allow pets, but beware it might narrow your choice. And check that everyone in your party is happy that the dog is coming!

Don’t want to cook? Who’s doing the catering in your cottage?

How are you going to cater for everyone? And who’s going to do all the shopping? If you have a group of cottages or lodges together it might be that everyone brings their food for breakfast and lunch and then you eat at the local pub in the evenings. Or you could find a house big enough for you all to eat together. We were lucky that the place we rented had a dinning table big enough for 14 and also the option for us to eat (and seat everyone) outside.  Some cottage complexes have cottages that have the capacity to seat more people that they can sleep! Perfect for just this type of large gathering.

We decided to have a caterer cook for us on the Saturday evening – so no cooking or no clearing up that night.  For the other food needs we arranged a home delivery from a nearby supermarket.  This is a great way to organise the food and drink.  With most supermarkets you can check if they deliver to the area, by putting in the postcode of the rental property.  Some holiday properties also offer a catering service, food delivery, fresh milk, meat and bread, or provide a welcome hamper or have an on-site restaurant.  It’s good to use local products if you can, it helps support the local economy, and smaller shops will often offer a delivery service too.  The one thing I forgot to organise was flowers; luckily there was a florist nearby.

Fancy horse-riding or need a pub in walking distance? What activities are near your cottage?

Once you’ve decided roughly where is the country have your gathering you want to be you can consider other requirements.  Do you want a cottage in walking distance to a pub? Or with shops close by?  Do you want a holiday house that you can walk to the beach from or a country cottage in a National Park with direct access to good walks and Public Rights of Way?  Or perhaps you want to rent somewhere be near a town, so that you can go the theatre or to restaurants.

We were happy spending time together, and were fortunate that the weather was glorious. Had it rained then there were plenty of board games and DVD’s to keep everyone amused.  I had planned a circular walk for the Sunday, which took in a pub along route – always good to keep motivation.   It could be that your group wants more organised events such as clay pigeon shooting, horse-riding or quad biking, depending on your location, these activities are often available nearby.  For those wanting a more relaxing experience a cottage near a spa or beauty parlour could be a winner.  Day packages at spas are often good value, and a popular choice for hen weekends, 40th Birthday’s or just a ‘girly’ weekend.

If you’re organising a golfing break for a large group, finding a large house near a golf course could be a more flexible option than staying in a hotel – particularly if there’s a pub nearby offering food.

Start searching for your perfect weekend away

So our advice for booking a large cottage and arranging a gathering with lots of people is to start early, look at less popular locations and search for your requirement  – whether it’s ‘dog-friendly cottages’ or ‘wifi’, using the Cottage World search tool. Happy holidays!

Top tips for planning a large gathering

  • Set a budget for your holiday and agree who is paying
  • Find a suitable date for the event
  • What facilities MUST your holiday rental property offer?
  • Choose a good, easily accessible location for all your guests
  • Consider home deliveries and the cottage catering requirements
  • What group activities do you want near your accommodation?
  • Use Cottage World to search for your specific requirements
  • To get the best locations and choice of cottages for large groups Book early!

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Self-catering cottage holidays in the UK and Ireland can still be a green option. You can have the comforts of home and the flexibility to do what you want; when you want - without the hassles of air travel!

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