Time to book your holiday cottage!

There was an interesting story on the BBC Radio Newspod yesterday (Friday, January 23) about tourism in Britain (it is the last story on the Newspod). People in the travel industry are expecting travel in Britain to increase for two reasons: 1) the pound is low making Britain a more affordable destination, 2) the economy is not doing well and Brits will save money by traveling at home instead of going abroad.

A recent article in the UK newspaper The Telegraph talks about how Europeans are booking up UK cottages because of the low pound.

The Telegraph, January 20, Germans snap up UK cottage breaks as pound weakens, by Natalie Paris. “Traditional cottage breaks are being snapped up by Europeans who are rushing to book in record numbers this year, attracted by the devalued pound.”

So if you are thinking about traveling to Britain this year, it is time to start booking! We are planning a few weeks in the Cotswolds in May and have started looking at cotttages. I am going to get something booked soon.

Thanks to Marta for telling me about the radio show and the newspaper article!

Vacation rentals make travel much more affordable

The BBC radio show talked about vacation rentals (called holiday cottages in Britain) and how they make a vacation more affordable because they are less expensive per night and let you do some of your own cooking. Staying in holiday cottages is called self-catering – because you look after yourself.

They interviewed the owner of a vacation rental agency for Wales – Brecon Beacons Holiday Cottages – that has been in business for over 30 years.  She has not seen the increase in European bookings reported in the Telegraph story and thought that Europe is “on hold” because of the bad economic times.

She talked about the “Green Wellie Brigade”, well-to-do Londoners who rent big country houses for weekend gatherings, and said they are not getting as many of these groups now.

They interviewed a couple from Cirencester (in the Cotswolds) who were staying in one of the Breacon Becons cottages and they said they were traveling in Britain, instead of going abroad, because it was more affordable and because there is so much to see and do in Britain.

Cottages have changed over the years

The vacation rental agency owner said she has seen many changes in holiday cottages over the years. When she started over 30 years ago the country cottages were basic, but now people want all the mod cons (modern conveniences). She said they want cottages that are better equipped than their homes!

I have seen this trend also over the years and even notice in myself that I want more luxurious places (perhaps because I am getting older and lazier). We stayed in our first European vacation rentals 21 years ago. We spent a year traveling around Europe, mostly staying in vacation rentals one or two weeks at a time. Vacation rentals were inexpensive and usually plain – which was fine because we were looking for less expensive accommodations.

Since that trip we have returned to Europe regularly, always staying in vacation rentals. About ten years ago vacation rentals started to change – nicer furniture, more appliances, welcome baskets, a house book with lots of local information. You still found the “original” places that were setup in the 60s and never changed since – you still find these today.

In many ways I miss the older way of vacation rentals – very inexpensive, simple, country cottage types of places. You can still find them, but you have to look a bit harder.

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Pauline Kenny

Pauline Kenny and Steve Cohen are US expats living in Dorset. We moved to the UK in 2010. Read about our move. If you would like to talk about travel, please join us on the Slow Europe Travel Forums.

2 thoughts on “Time to book your holiday cottage!”

  1. The trend in Ontario is the same. Properties have more features and facilities and are just generally more welcoming. However, the 70s style still exist and all have the same green or orange shag pile carpet; beige/brown curtains and orange sofa and chairs. I’ve seen some new cottages attempting a ‘retro’ style but it just doesn’t work.

    Your post makes me yearn for a Cotswold cottage vacation. Charlbury or Finstock are my favourite villages – just on the edge of the Cotswolds. Perhaps later this year!

  2. Vacation rentals are a starting “fad” in Portugal and you can get fantastic deals. I have heard nothing but great things from people who have stayed in homes there. Have not heard such good stories about this in Spain, for example.
    In Portugal its just not an “industry” as such yet, so you are still very much getting what you are bargaining for. If you have acquaintences there ask them if they know anyone cuase word of mouth is a great way to go.

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