Cottage Holidays have become increasingly popular over the last twenty years. The idea of a cottage of character set in beautiful countryside where you can relax and feel at home has bags of appeal, but is there a set of rules or etiquette that should be observed? The answer is yes and although some of them are obvious or written into any rental agreement, some are more instinctive and subtle.
When you agree to rent a cottage through an agency there is usually a formal agreement that needs to be agreed before the transaction takes place. One of these conditions is a security or damages deposit which is usually returned to the renter when the property has been checked after the rental has taken place. This obviously is to protect the owner of the property against any major damages that may occur. In my experience the odd cup or glass breakage is usually ignored, although contractually can be upheld, but should a bed be broken after children have used it as a trampoline, then tat may be a different matter.
This leads to the obvious question who is the owner and why do they rent the property. Owners of holiday cottages come in all shapes and sizes from the individual to small companies. Individuals may use the property as their own home for part of the year and rent it at other times. Much as they can be set in idyllic countryside, some of those areas have few jobs and tourism may be their only way of making an income. Other small firms have bought up more than one property and developed them with love and care into lovely holiday homes with modern comforts that they may never have had previously. When you think that the property that you are renting is someone's pride and joy, it will give you a better insight into the Dos and Don'ts of the cottage rental etiquette.
As a renter, you should make yourself feel at home and use the facilities that are on offer. Books may be left to read, games to play, swimming pools to be used. If something is not working, do not be afraid of contacting the owner and asking about it politely, as possibly the owner may not know about it. However treat the house like your home and not recklessly. After the rental period, obviously the owner or cleaner will come and clean the property. However, this process should only entail a 'normal' amount of cleaning, such as vacuuming, washing bed linen and cleaning the bathroom and kitchen. It should not involve stains removed from furniture or the carpet, sheets and rubbish piled high, or every dish left dirty.
This unwritten contract should go both ways. When you arrive at the holiday cottage after possibly a long journey, there is nothing nicer than a welcome pack. It does not have to be extravagant, but a bottle of wine, chocolates, biscuits or fruit can make the customer feel more at home. A guest book to inform the customer about the local area, nearest shops, restaurants and attractions, is also an essential item as is the telephone number in case of any problems. Any contact should be courteous and friendly, especially from the owner, as he should be hoping for repeat custom. If a customer complains that an item is broken or not as it should be, the owner should be helpful and try to rectify the situation as efficiently as possible.
The last thing about holiday cottages is "What should I take?" Customers should always check with the booking website or cottage owner / agency what is supplied with the property and what is not. For example, bed linen and bath towels may be supplied, but beach towels will probably not be supplied. Cottage holidays are self catering, which implies that customers should not expect a fridge full of food and should bring their own supplies like lavatory paper, in case owners do not supply it.
Cottage holidays are enjoyable and by observing the etiquette, customers and owners can avoid any major issues.