We do sometimes get asked, particularly by foreign visitors, what is self-catering? Self-catering refers to a property, typically a holiday cottage, which provides the necessary facilities to allow guests to cater for themselves whilst away from home, be it on pleasure or business. You may hear self-catering holiday cottage also referred to as a holiday let or vacation rental.
Over the past few years, the quality of self-catering accommodation in the UK has improved considerably. It was once viewed as a cheap holiday option with accommodation often being pretty basic; mismatched glasses, chipped plates and a dated, tired decor; reflective of a property that was only used for a few weeks of the year. How the business has changed since then, as has the quality of accommodation being offered. In so many cases it has gone from being a part-time hobby to a full-time occupation, with owners taking a great deal of pride in their properties/business and the ‘holiday experience’ they offer.
The choice of self-catering accommodation in the UK is incredibly diverse with something to suit all needs ranging from a cosy romantic retreat for two to a big house or complex catering for large parties such as weddings, walking groups, hen nights or a reunion of friend’s. There is something to suit all budgets, whether you are looking for a very basic place to lay your hat or a boutique retreat with all the luxuries of a hotel and lots of personal space to relax.
Self-catering provides the opportunity to experience a different way of life – why not stay on a farm; in a quaint old character cottage with beams and an open fire; a log cabin beside a loch or a stylish city apartment – the choices are endless.
Generally self-catering properties offer many, if not all of the facilities that you would expect to find at home. They provide the space that a hotel rarely offers and a high degree of flexibility which can be especially popular with families; couples looking for some privacy or people who want to take their pet away on holiday with them.
What to expect from self-catering
Owners advertising on Independent Cottages have taken the decision to manage their own holiday homes and liaise with the holiday maker directly. One of the main advantages of this for the holiday maker is that you get to speak to the owner directly who has firsthand experience and information about the cottage, its facilities and the surrounding area. Make sure you do your research and ask the owner any questions you have – an extra bit of planning and preparation makes for a good start to the holiday and will save any disappointment upon arrival!
Holiday accommodation, along with its facilities and quality, can vary considerably, so you will need to read all the information provided on the advertisement and owners website (providing they have one), to establish if the accommodation is suitable and meets your personal requirements. Self-catering often provides a home from home with facilities that may include:
- Living areas with comfortable seating, colour televisions, DVD players and CD players. A good number of holiday homes also offer satellite TV and internet access these days.
- Well equipped kitchens for cooking a simple breakfast to a full blown Christmas dinner. These may include crockery, glasses, pots and pans, bake ware, cooking utensils, kettle, toaster, microwave, fridge, freezer, oven and hob. Many will also offer washing machines, tumble dryers and dishwashers and some may have the luxury of range cookers, coffee machines and granite worktops!
- Bathrooms and/or shower rooms but double check exactly which – if your idea of a holiday is sitting in a deep bubbly bath with a glass of wine at the end of the day, you are going to be disappointed if the cottage only has a shower! It is also worth checking how many bath/shower rooms there are, to ensure provisions meet your party’s needs and avoid queuing for the shower in the morning!
- Gardens and/or patio areas for outdoor living. If you are booking a cottage in a busy market town or a city apartment, it may not have an outside area and it may not have private parking. Many will offer gardens, patios, sitting areas or a balcony with equipment that ranges from a table and chairs to sun loungers for relaxing. Some have hot tubs, private swimming pools, tennis courts and others sit in acres of grounds with additional facilities including on-site fishing and livery for horses. Others will offer facilities for storage of outdoor equipment, launch facilities/mooring for a boat and some even offer the use of a day boat!
As a general rule, you would expect self-catering accommodation to be cleaned and presented in a neat and tidy fashion for your arrival. The majority of owners provide bedding and many also have beds made up ready for arrival with fresh bed linen and towels (some may charge for this) but do double check at the point of booking. Some will provide a welcome hamper or gift such as a bottle of wine; provisions for your first breakfast; a homemade cake; or tea, coffee and biscuits for arrival. Others will equip the cottage with everything needed to get your started such as a toilet roll, kitchen roll, hand soap, cleaning products and have the fire ready for lighting! Cleaning equipment/products are often left in the cottage and whilst owners appreciate you are on holiday, you will be expected to look after the holiday home during your stay and leave it as you found it, when you depart. Some owners will take a security deposit when booking to cover any excessive cleaning, damages or breakages and some may charge for an end of stay clean.
Self-catering in the UK has improved so much over the years and with so many good deals on offer, and at short notice, why not book yours now?