How to bag a last-minute holiday cottage in the UK for less by following these tips
- Here’s our three-step strategy to get the best deal on the perfect holiday cottage
- Find a holiday home through an owners’ co-operative such as Premier Cottages
- Contact cottage companies to check for last-minute cancellations
Every week our Holiday Hero Neil Simpson takes an in-depth look at a brilliant holiday topic, doing all the legwork so you don’t have to. This week: how to book a last-minute holiday cottage – for less.
The clock is ticking if you want a summer staycation in the UK and are still looking for the perfect holiday cottage.
But while many country cottages are booked a year in advance (and some companies let you reserve them up to two years ahead of time), it’s not too late to find the right place for this summer. Here’s our three-step strategy to get the best deal.
ONE: START WITH A SPECIALIST
Child-friendly: Cranshaws Manse in the Scottish Borders
Be specific about what you need and there’s likely to be a cottage rental company ready to help. New parents can go for ‘C&C Tots’ properties from crabtreeand crabtree.com. They have fully fenced gardens far from busy roads and everything from stairgates and travel cots to high-chairs and cupboard locks included – and the larder is stocked with a ‘first weekend’ supply of baby food.
One of C&C’s favourite family-ready properties is Cranshaws Manse in the Scottish Borders that sleeps up to ten (so new grandparents can join the fun) from £1,325 a week.
If it’s style you want, look at The Joules Collection properties from holidaycottages.co.uk, for dog-friendly properties try petspyjamas.com or for pure indulgence search for ‘hot tubs’ at cottages.com (you’ll get more than 1,500 places to choose from).
TWO: BEAT THE HIDDEN ‘EXTRAS’
Find a holiday home through an owners’ co-operative such as Premier Cottages (premiercottages.co.uk) and you’ll get an all-inclusive price with welcome packs of tea, coffee, milk and sugar thrown in. You’ll also find washing-up liquid and other basic cleaning essentials under the kitchen sink.
For couples, one of Premier Cottages’ cosiest offerings is The Cottage, near Cardigan Bay in Wales. You’ll find home-made bread or warm Welsh cakes waiting on arrival and you can book six nights this summer for an all-in £497. By contrast, book through a company such as Airbnb and a low headline price can soon be inflated with compulsory cleaning and service fees.
Book an August week in a converted barn in Devon and the initial £698 cost hits £835 when the £25 cleaning fee and £112 service charge are added. Pick an Airbnb stone cottage near Bath and the £441 weekly rent rises by nearly a quarter once £91 of charges are piled on top.
THREE: BE PERSISTENT
Cosy: A bedroom at Murton Cottage in Burford, Oxfordshire
Every year cottage companies get last-minute cancellations. Staff suggest making regular phone calls (rather than sending emails) to ask about unexpected availability.
You can also get serious discounts if you snap up the last remaining free weeks of otherwise-popular properties. Head to the Forest of Dean and there are good prices on cosy cottages close to the ancient pathways of Puzzlewood, seen in everything from Doctor Who to Star Wars. Search under ‘Cottages’ at puzzlewood.net and get a week in a ‘sleeps-four’ farmyard cottage from £654 in late August.
Or head to the Last Minute section at sykescottages.co.uk for a late-availability list including undiscovered, new-to-the-market properties.
Among them is the three-bedroom, oak-beamed Murton Cottage on Burford High Street, Oxfordshire, available from £1,244 a week in July.