Here’s a guide to booking a holiday cottage using the My Favourite Holiday Cottages website, together with lots of information about what your payment includes, how to make it and other generally accepted information about renting a holiday cottage that will give you more knowledge and confidence in the booking process.

Let’s assume you have been browsing the site and identified your favourite holiday cottage. What do you do next?

Firstly, Have you got all the information you need?

  • Prices: The cottage is within your budget
  • It’s available for your dates
  • Arrival day: many cottages have set ‘changeover’ days especially during school holidays. These are usually Fridays or Saturdays
  • It has specific facilities you’ll need, e.g. hot tub, ground floor bedroom, accepts pets etc.
  • It’s in your desired location (and the Google map within its advert shows that it isn’t located alongside a cement factory)
  • It’s received some good testimonials from past visitors

If not, then use the VisitWebsite button to see if the information is on the property's own website. 

Alternatively,  use the 'Contact' button to pull up details enabling you to ask the owner or manager further questions  by phone or email 

Once you've got what you need and would like to book your chosen holiday cottage, choose your preferred option:

 

1.     Click on the ‘Book Now’ Button. A ‘Book Now’ button open the booking page (it doesn’t commit you to booking – it just saves you time having to find the booking page on the property’s own website). This is useful if you would like further information about the property before booking it.

 

2.     Click the ‘Contact’ button in the top menu bar. This will show you the name and phone number of the owner or property manager responsible or handling bookings. It will also present you with an opportunity to email an enquiry message.

 

 

3.     Book onlinedirectly from the advert. Some holiday properties have their own online booking software which they display on their advert with My Favourite Holiday Cottages. If your cottage has this option you can book it straight away safe in the knowledge that you won’t be paying any booking fees or anything other than the standard rate for the dates you want to book (we don’t change owners commission on bookings and your payment goes directly to the owner – not to us).

 

What is included in the rental price?

A Typical Holiday Cottage Welcome Pack -  Usually included in the price

This isn’t a hard and fast rule (there may be somethings that you have to pay for in addition to the rental fee, so do check what the payment includes) but generally, it should cover:

  • All utility services: electricity, gas, oil etc.
  • Bed linen and towels. NB: Towels are for house use only. Always bring your own beach towels.
  • T-Towels and dish cloths
  • Wi-Fi
  • Loo Rolls: Good owners will ensure that there is one new loo roll in each loo.

Other complimentary items (although not always) which you’ll need to ask for include:

  • Stair-gates
  • Travel cots (you may be asked to supply your own bedding for these)
  • A basket of logs (for cottages with wood burners or open fires)
  • An initial supply of dishwasher tablets to see you through the first 24 hours

Many properties will include a complimentary welcome pack which includes things like tea, coffee, biscuits, cake – the kind of thing that you need to wind down after your journey.

You may be asked to pay for include:

  • Pets – usually a set amount per pet per booking. Always check the maximum number of pets permitted.
  • Additional fuel supplies: logs, coal.
  • Service charge for a hot tub or the heating of a swimming pool

Finally, do check booking term and conditions before you book - as these vary from property to property. This is another reason as to why we provide links to a holiday cottage’s own website as they will be displayed there.

 

Who is my booking contract with?

Check the terms and conditions of rental to be clear as to who your rental contract is with. Is it the agency or owner? In the event that you later wish to make a complaint or request a refund, this is with whom you will need to liaise.

 

How Do I pay the rental fee for my holiday cottage?

Expect to pay an initial deposit to secure your reservation if booking a cottage well in advance and the remainder of the charge a set time before your date of arrival. For example, many cottage owners will ask for a non-refundable deposit of between 20-30% of the rental fee, with the balance payable 8 weeks prior to your arrival.

If you are booking less than 6-8 weeks in advance you will probably be asked to pay the full amount.

Information about options to pay the rental fee are usually included in the booking terms and conditions, but here are the most common ones:

1.    Pay by card. Usually only larger cottages or where owners have multiple cottages tend to accept card payments.

2.     Pay by bank transfer. These days this is probably the simplest and easiest way to pay.

3.      Pay by PayPal: Most owners use a PayPal account as a more affordable way of enabling people to pay by card. PayPal payment also offer some security to bookers.

4.     Pay by cheque. Still perfectly acceptable, although it takes a few days for cheques to arrive, be paid in and cleared before an owner can confirm receipt of your money. Don’t expect to be allowed to use this option if booking less than a week or so before your date of arrival.

Don’t offer to pay by cash on arrival. Suggesting this risks the owner deciding you may not be a responsible or trustworthy guest and decline to accept your booking.

 

What is a Security Deposit?

Many properties apply a refundable security deposit. They are not always called ‘security deposits’ but are there to cover the cost of any damage or breakages that occur during your stay. NB: Most owners will overlook little things like breaking a single wine glass and will simply appreciate it if you tell them so that they can replace it. Good owners always keep a like-for-like store of things like crockery and glasses.

Also, if you leave something behind in the cottage, owners are far more likely to return it by post if they can deduct the cost from your security deposit rather than having to wait for you to send them the cost of postage first. This may sound a little penny-pinching, but over the past year, I have spent almost £100 in jiffy bags and stamps reuniting guests at my own cottage with their property – not counting the time and cost of a 20-mile round-trip to the post office on each occasion!

 

What happens if I have to cancel my booking?

It’s always a good idea to take out travel insurance to cover yourself against unforeseen circumstances that require you to cancel your holiday. Your rights to a refund vary according to the terms and conditions of hire. Always check these. If you are renting via an agency or a website such as Trip Advisor, Booking.com or Homeaway, these will have specific terms for refunds.

Generally, assume that the deposit you pay is non-refundable aside from a short ‘cooling off’ period when first making the booking of 24-48 hours. If you cancel before your balance is due, then you’re unlikely to be expected to pay the amount outstanding.

Remember that you are paying for exclusive use of the cottage for a specified time period, regardless of whether you are there or not. So, if you arrive a day late because you have been held up or have to depart early, this won’t entitle you to a refund unless you were prevented by the owner or the owners actions which prevented you from accessing the cottage.

The owner may be amendable to you changing the dates if your cancelation leaves a reasonable time for the owner to relate the property, e.g. 8 weeks or more. If this is the case, then be prepared to pay an administration fee to cover the administration cost incurred in transferring your booking (and the additional marketing costs entailed in advertising  a newly available week!).

 

What happens when I have paid?

Once you have paid your rental fees in full, then the owner or manager should send you details giving you directions to the cottage and arrangements for access. They will need your full contact details, largely for insurance purposes. Some owners will be there to greet you, which means you’ll have to agree approximate arrival time. Others will provide keysafe codes allowing you to arrive at a time of your choosing. Owners will also provide their details and, if relevant, those of their housekeeper should you need to contact them during your holiday.

Arrival time at this Instow Beach House in North Devon is 4.00pm. Arrive beforehand and you can always have a picnic on the beach while you wait!

What time can I arrive at my holiday cottage? 

Because cleaning a cottage is quite an exercise (for my own cottage we have up to 4 people doing the house cleaning and garden maintenance on changeover day), arrival times are usually 4.00pm or occasionally earlier. Departure times are usually around 10.00am. Liability insurance tends not to cover guests being in the property while cleaners and their equipment are still are still at work. If forewarned and agreed, they may be amendable to you dropping off luggage. Better still, give them your mobile number so that they can text you when they have finished work.

 

Can I pre-order groceries to be delivered before I arrive?

Most owners will be happy to ‘see in’ a pre-ordered grocery delivery if it arrives while they are cleaning, (although don’t expect them to do an itemised check). Do check with them before ordering as they will need to tell you when they will be at the property. They’ll also be able to tell you which supermarkets will deliver to your cottage.

 

Got all that?

Don’t worry, much of it is common sense and you’ll find owners and agents alike will be very happy to assist you with your booking, so don’t be afraid to ask questions if you’re in any doubt. It’ll make their day!

 

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Eleven Top Tips for Booking Holiday Cottages

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