What Makes a Cottage a ‘Home from Home’?
Think about what it is you want from a holiday. Because each person is different, each holiday will be different and as such, the possibilities for an answer are endless.
There are infinite answers to this question. For some, it will be relaxation. Others adventure. It can be as general as ‘somewhere to get away from it all’ to as specific as ‘I want to wake up each morning to the cries of arctic turns on the wind’. It could be excellent food, or squeezing in a walk before sunrise. Or perhaps being able to take your dog with you, or endless tours of different distilleries, sampling the tasters as you go.
Indeed, it seems almost impossible to predict what folk want from a holiday, however, what is certain is what is wanted when it comes from holiday accommodation, whether that be hotel, a log cabin or self catering cottage. For a hotel, depending on the star rating, clean, comfortable and predictable. A Raddison in Nice could be a Raddison in Bristol. A log cabin – rustic and romantic, and also hoping that the roof doesn’t leak! The self catering cottage? The jewel in the crown of holiday accommodation, a self-catering holiday is a home from home, with all the perks of your own space in an entirely new location. Privacy and seclusion with home comfort, getting it right for you, your holiday, your needs, can make or break a holiday. Cosy or cavernous; in some cases comfortingly familiar (and sometimes joyously not so!); rustic and traditional or perhaps so modern you may as well be in the Guggenheim; the variety within the self-catering industry is boundless, it’s just the case of finding that one cottage, house or castle that is perfect for you.
With guests looking for a holiday house that is equal to or of a higher standard to their own home, the self catering industry has seen the standard expected by guests rise enormously. At Cottages and Castles we pride ourselves in having some of the most exquisite accommodation in some of the most spectacular areas in Scotland. So what makes a holiday cottage a home from home? We have put our heads together asking two questions: what do you want from a holiday, and what do you want from holiday accommodation? And this is what we can up with…
- A Warm Welcome
Wherever you turn up, and that could be after a five hour or ten minute drive, to start your holiday the way it means to go on is to arrive to a warm welcome. That could be a welcome basket or a starter pack, especially helpful if you have arrived at night. And a complimentary coffee will definitely make the first morning less grumpy. It could be opening the door to a cosy cottage, preheated and ready for your arrival. It could be a wee note with helpful hints on what to do or where to eat in the area. There are many ways that a warm welcome can be extended, and in doing so you feel welcome and provided for, a lovely way to start your break away. Luxurious and lovely linen and towels adds that extra touch of care, as no one nowadays wants to have to take their own on holiday, and 100% cotton fluffy towels in the bathrooms is a welcome squeeze after a hot shower.
2. Clean and Comfortable Interiors
The interior of the holiday home has to be the most important. For us, it is paramount that your self-catering accommodation is clean. Yes it’s a home from home, but you don’t want any evidence of others being there before you. Nothing ruins a holiday like crumbs on a worktop! Fresh linens with extra sets for each bedroom and perhaps a few extra blankets for the chillier nights; new looking crockery and cutlery; well vacuumed and well swept floors; dust free dressers and curtain rails – all essential to make a holiday home a happy home. How the social rooms are put together will affect how comfortable you are, and the living room, kitchen and dining room need to be set up for fun, sociable times, yet practical. Enough comfortable sofas and armchairs to compliment your party is essential, you don’t want too many people on the floor! If you are party of a large party then a separate dining room is fantastic for making an occasion out of every meal. A holiday home that goes the extra mile by providing entertainment such as TV and DVD access, board games, perhaps WIFI will give options for entertainment. The interior and décor should always be clean, fresh and inviting, but the little touches like pictures on the walls, plants, cushions and throws, books and games, are what gives a cottage a ‘homey’ feel. The Club House, just south of Inverness is a compact little cottage that is beautifully decorated with floor to ceiling windows and contains everything you will need during your stay. Guests will love the feature woodburning stove in the open plan living area. The bedrooms are stylishly decorated, each with luxuriously cosy beds and pillows that you can sink into at the end of each day. The comfortable open place living space has big glass doors that look out onto the hills. Spotlessly clean with lovely furnishing throughout, this one is not to be missed.
3. A Beautiful Garden Space
People holiday in Scotland for the location views, and surprisingly enough, not the weather! Is there anything better than arriving somewhere late at night when it is dark and waking up to a breathtaking view that you didn’t know was there? Who isn’t on the look out for a lovely garden when choosing a holiday home? A place where one can sit quietly in the sun, soaking up the rays with a morning coffee or an afternoon glass of wine, just outside your back door. In the Spring and Summer, surrounded by flowers and the warm buzz of bees and the smell of new grass. Perhaps with comfortable patio chairs and a table to enjoy an al fresco meal. For those with small families, a private garden is an excellent way to keep young children safe and get their daily quota of fresh air, whilst the grown ups can indulge with a book or that ever elusive afternoon snooze. Flower beds, pot plants, decking areas, outdoor seating are all things that make a garden space exciting and luxurious, and throw in a Summer house, BBQ area, lawn games and a hot tub and you are winning! Middleholms is a wonderful old stone farmhouse, renovated to the highest standard, and has a large garden with fabulous views across the Esk valley. Accessed by a long private drive, the property is totally secluded, sheltered by woodland on the South, and surrounded by farmland. Not only does it have a lovely conservatory, but the gardens space has been designed to accommodate al fresco living, with a large lawn for outside play and a patio complete with table for 10! In the summer it is full of wildlife, with the secluded location perfect for avid nature lovers, and the rise and fall of the landscaping around the house makes it an adventure for the children to explore!
4. A Great Kitchen to Cook in
The assumption goes that if you are choosing a self catering holiday at some point (when not devouring delicious local cuisine at the closest, cosiest pub) you will be using the kitchen. What people expect from a kitchen varies greatly – some require all the modcons under the sun, from coffee machines and breadmakers to every handheld gadget known to man – my favourite is the ever essential baked potato cutter (seriously). For others the simple basics will suffice, as long as they are user friendly. For everyone though, a kitchen should be clean and ready to use the minute you walk in. Tea towels clean and plenty to spare; crockery and cutlery ready to go; and a good supply of cleaning products to make life easy. A well equipped kitchen is the difference between a cheese toasty and a three course, Michelin star meal – there is nothing more frustrating than planning to cook something and not having the equipment to do it with. With large groups all cooking together, the kitchen has the ability to make or break friendships with usually a few people needing to be in there at the same time, so a well equipped kitchen with spares could save many a relationship. North Lodge, a 5 minute drive from Arbroath, has been newly renovated and is presented in a very stylish and modern way yet has all the comforting cosiness of a country cottage. A cosy little place, it welcomes with complete new and tasteful furniture, creating a relaxing and tranquil atmosphere. The well equipped kitchen is not only stylish but spotlessly clean, and with the funky black and white chessboard tiles it might inspire some creative cooking! The kitchen has all the provisions to satisfy cooking ideas, and the dishwasher, washing machine, all the other electrical machinery like tumble dryer and microwave lighten the workload! Come try your culinary skills in this gem of a cottage.
5. All the Small Practicalities
It’s all about the small things. The things we don’t think about needing until right then in the moment. Is there anything more frustrating than being caught with no loo roll? So to finish, a list of all the small and potentially overlooked practicalities that are essential to making your self-catering holiday a success. A hairdryer is very useful, as most of us can’t fit it in a suitcase; oven gloves – think about how frustrating not having these mits would be; salt and pepper; an ironing board – there is nothing fun about ironing whilst sitting on the floor; bin liners and plenty of them; a few boxes of tissues, rather self-explanatory; emergency supplies such as torches and a first-aid kit; and finally, that ever important deck of cards – a variety of games is optimal, but you can’t go wrong with a simple deck of cards.
So there you have it. 5 things that make or break a self-catering holiday. Whether a twitcher or a white water sports enthusiast; whether it be in the wild highlands or the dramatic west coast; whether you require every mod-con under the sun or prefer more rustic quarters, the cottage, house or castle that you return to at the end of your day should be an exciting and delightful proposition. So come and find the perfect home from home specifically for you and your wants and needs. There are plenty to choose from!
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