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I’ll be honest, I wasn’t aware of self catering cottages as a form of holiday accommodation. For most of my life, it’s been B&Bs and hotels when I go away on holiday. My brother’s wife came back from a 4 star cottage on the Devon coast and she raved about how it was a home away from a home. It wouldn’t really be a home away from home for me as I live in a city centre apartment, but it got me a-thinking.
I have a large family with lots of aunties, uncles, cousins, brothers and sisters. For over 30 years, we used to get together once a year at Christmas in my uncle’s house, as he had the biggest home, but these days that doesn’t even happen. As everyone has gotten a little older and the kids from the 80s and 90s now have kids, there just isn’t the room for all of us. Even with us breaking out the Peter Key emergency chairs. I remember as a kid that this part of Christmas getting all the family together was my favourite part of Christmas. Even more opening the presents!
So last Christmas my brother’s wife and I started doing some “holiday cottages” searches on Google. We visited a few websites and did some price checks for Christmas week on large cottages that sleep 20. Out of all the well known websites you could do some review/customer feedback checks on, Sykes was the best value option. We couldn’t book a 2 night break over Christmas because it is a peak booking week and they only accept 7 night bookings. You also had to book Thursday to Thursday which was a bit strange. I understand that they’re trying to get two week long rental periods out of Christmas and New year (as the beach boys said 'wouldn’t it be nice' to get them both for the same week?) but Thursday to Thursday … what’s that all about? Anyhow because there was so many of us we could split the price 9 ways between each family and it worked out very reasonable even at a full week price. We didn’t end up staying for the full week but, because the cottage was technically ours for that week, we all didn’t have to leave the cottage on the same day at the same checkout time. We were in a very lovely part of the lakes so, rather than bothering with that useless week between Christmas and New Year, some of us stayed on for an extra night or two and enjoyed the scenery and the walks in the surrounding area.
The property was a Victorian house with high ceilings, four floors and wide open, spacious rooms. When I wanted a bit of space from everyone else, the property was big enough to find a quite nook for some down time. When I wanted to be with everyone else to eat turkey and have a Bucks Fizz, the property was big enough to allow that as there were plenty of seating and dining chairs/tables for everyone. There was also a games room to keep the kids busy, which was great because they are even more screechy and excitable and loud and unbearable than usual at Christmas. It wasn’t ultra luxurious but it was warm and comfortable. Taken as a whole, I was very pleased: with the property, the service (the call centre staff are lovely, kept me on the phone for ages with small talk) and mainly I was pleased with my ingenious idea of how to get a family too big for any of our houses under one roof during the festive season. We’ll be looking to book it again next Christmas.