Monday, 20 August 2007

Lessons for the holiday letter

( This is not useful advice on how to write a postcard.)

Having just arrived back from an eventful ten days in Scotland I’ve jotted down some points to remember for those in the holiday lettings business:

When a guest requests instructions on how to find your remote and romantic hideaway cottage, don’t direct her via a narrow road where the bridge has been closed for repairs for the past 8 weeks. The resulting 14 mile detour at the end of a long drive doesn’t make for a contented visitor.

Avoid filling the cottage with dry and dusty flower arrangements. The temptation to use them to light the fire may prove too great for your tired and chilly guest when she arrives and can’t find any kindling.

Remember to sort through all those useful leaflets on local attractions on a regular basis. A minimum of at least once a year is suggested. Guests aren’t interested in what fun they could have had if only they had been there in 2003/2004. This is particularly true if the leaflets are too shiny to light the fire.

If an open fire is a main feature, do warn your guest not to light it when a slight breeze is blowing. This will save her having to run into the garden in her nightie when the cottage fills up with smoke, or at least ensure she is wearing her best nightie and not just an old tee shirt, socks and walking boots, when she attempts to light the morning fire.

If an elderly relative leaves you a dirty old three piece suit in a will, don’t give it pride of place in your holiday cottage. ( The same can be said for a double bed, wardrobe, stained table mats etc….)

Likewise, a holiday let is not the place to store all those strange ornaments and faded dusty plastic flower arrangements left over from the last village hall table top sale.

Clean pillow cases and duvet covers do not hide an all pervading smell of stale bedding. Not all of your guests will have their own clean sleeping bags with them. Fortunately we did.

Double beds are crucial to a romantic holiday let. They aren't comfy if they dip so badly in the middle that guests are forced to hang on to the edges all night or sleep stacked up in a pile in the middle. (OK, I know that can be fun for a short while, but I need my sleep.)

Most important. Don’t just rely on the fact your cottage is situated in an outstandingly beautiful area of Scotland. An effort had been made to clean the cottage and it had a fancy microwave and washing machine, but the overall impression was so grotty that we actually considered sleeping in our tent in the garden and only using the kitchen and bathroom. The area is lovely, with huge heather moors, wonderful wildlife, secret glens and pretty villages. We even came across a couple of outstanding art galleries in the most unexpected hidden places, but we will think twice before returning to the Glenlivet area again.

12 comments:

toady said...

That's an awful shame when you've worked hard all year and looked forward to a break. Is there a tourist office to complain to? I'd demand my money back. There used to be an internet site where you could post about shoddy accommodation. Toady

Posie Rosie said...

Oh that did make me laugh, but must have been completely annoying for you. I am really sorry your cottage was not up to scratch, but really enjoyed your list of 'don'ts', especially the one about taking your 'best nightie' to evacuate smoky cottage decently! It is awful when your accomodation doesn't match up to even basic expectations. Posie x

ChrisH said...

Hmm, I know that cottage well... but I think it was in Norfolk or was it Dorset? It seems to move around a lot anyway. I do remember the one in Norfolk didn't a loo. 'But of course they have a loo' I trilled. And yes they did - outside. Try that without being forewarned when you have two small girls who are afraid of the dark!!!

I particularly liked your 'don't' about the three piece suite - very true, unfortunately!

Pondside said...

Are you sure you weren't in Denmark - at Hornbaek? I really had to laugh at the comment about the shiny, outdated pamphlets. What a shame that you saved your time and your money for such disappointing accomodation.

Faith said...

Oh grief poor you! Its appalling that people can let out places in such a state! I hope you complain to the owners and tourist board and everyone!

Chrish's reply made me laugh, cos reminded me of when i was the small girl and parents had rented a place and there was no bath! We found it eventually, it had been boarded over and now was a retirement home for spiders!

FunkyMunky said...

What a shame! It must have been awful for you ... though I must admit I had to laugh at the thought of you running outside in your old t-shirt as the cottage filled with smoke! I think you should definitely complain. Perhaps they might do something about it before someone else's holiday is potentially ruined. So glad you found some enjoyment in your holiday though.

@themill said...

Oh, you poor thing. Come to Northumberland next year!!! My cottage is lovely - it's on my blog page.

Seriously though, you really must complain to as many tourist bodies and any agencies with any connection to it at all. This sort of thing gives all of us in the business a bad name. Also, name and shame.

WesterWitch/Headmistress said...

And that sums up beautifully why we decided to do self catering. We too had many holidays like yours and thought - we can do better. I have lost count of the number of guests who have looked around cesspit cottages with relief written all over their faces . . .and then they tell us their horror stories . . .And many of their stories come from Visitscotland star rated cottages - long story but we now refuse to be part of the very expensive and totally useless Visitscotland.

Elizabethd said...

That is so sad, and leaves you feeling you cant trust any others. I'm sure there are good ones, and i do agree that it would be wise to talk to whichever agency/tourist board you found the property on.
We do have nice cottages in France!

Suffolkmum said...

Oh, that cottage moves around a lot - your tale was sadly all too familiar. We so often (but not always, thankfully!) come away thinking 'we just know we could do so much better'! I hate those beds - we stayed in one once that was like that, and damp as well, and we ended up camping out in front of the gas fire in the sitting room for a week. Grim. And the pamphlets - I could go on and on ....

Posie Rosie said...

Hi just to say the Highland cows are bred for beef. They provide a fantastic quality of beef, but take about four years before they reach their 'slaughter' age, oh that sounds awful, whioch is why they are not as popular as other beef herds who produce quicker 'yields'. However they are really hardy, tend to calve themselves without any bother, none of this intensive breeding where the calves are too big for the cow and therefore need a big hand with calving or a caesarian. They are also generally good natured and ours are quite happy to let the happy farmer clap them, although you always have to be ready for the long horns, they can injure you, just at the turn of a head. The beef from them gets a good price, the happy farmer bought a cow for each child, and is hoping when the abbatoir opens to sell directly to the public, via the cottages and the internet. Oh dear, have written a bit of a blog here. Posie

elizabethm said...

That is just dreadful and taken hugely to heart by us holiday cottage owners. Truly, honestly, we do none of these things! i want to say like at the mill, come here, it is lovely and you will like it and it will make up for the nightmare, just not fair to take your money for something so grotty. it makes me cross.