City Breaks: Why You Should Book a Self Catering Holiday Cottage

October 24th, 2014
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At Sykes, our self-catering properties are great for a variety of purposes, but one thing we seldom talk about is how great they are for city breaks. Now, I know ‘self-catering holiday cottage’ is probably not at the top of your accommodation list for the next time you’re planning on hitting up your favourite city, but I’m here to tell you why it certainly should be!

Eat what you want, when you want

Enjoy home cooking in a fully equipped kitchen like this one in 5 Albion Mews in Chester.

Enjoy home cooking in a fully equipped kitchen like this one in 5 Albion Mews in Chester.

Whether you fancy a quick bite or a sit down meal, cities are full of a vast amount of culinary delights. If you’re not a fan of eating out or have dietary requirements, sometimes it can be much easier to just cook for yourself! This is where a self-catering property comes in; you can get your ingredients from local market places in the city then head back to cook and eat at your own leisure in the surrounds of a lovely holiday property. Perfect!

More space than a hotel

Bath Garden Rooms

Enjoy the peaceful outside space at Bath Garden Rooms

I’m certain you’ll be spending more of your city break enjoying the city than you will be in your accommodation but a bit of extra space never hurt anyone, and our properties have that in abundance! Many of our city break properties also have a terrace or small garden, which is ideal if you fancy a quiet drink outside one evening.

Good for non-drivers… and drivers

Park your car safely outside Flat 50 in York.

Park your car safely outside Flat 50 in York.

One of the positives about city breaks is the easy travel! Cities are a breeze to get to via public transport, so they’re a great alternative if you’re not a driver. On the other hand, many of our city break properties have their own parking available, which makes them a great choice for drivers, too – we all know how expensive city centre parking can be and choosing a self-catering property with its own parking can really help cut costs!

Book yourself a self-catering city break

Edinburgh Castle

Beautiful views like this one await you when you head on a city break with Sykes Cottages.

Tempted? I hope so! If you’d like to add a self-catering touch to your next city break, take a look at our city break page and book your next city break with us at Sykes Cottages.

Leanne Dempsey

By Leanne Dempsey

A lover of reading, eating and shopping Leanne will often be found spending time with her two pugs or snapping away on instagram. A big fan of the city, She likes nothing more than getting away for a weekend break in the UK, her favourite places being London and Bath.

Picture Perfect – The UK’s City Landmarks

October 23rd, 2014
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Every year, thousands of visitors flock to British towns on a city break. And with so much on offer, who could blame them? From fine dining to rich historic culture, our towns and cities really do have a lot to offer. Regardless of the food we eat or the people we encounter, there is one holiday experience that every tourist shares; visiting the city landmarks.

That’s right, landmarks – like Edinburgh Castle and Big Ben – pop up in just about everyone’s holiday photographs whether you’re a first time visitor to the area or a proud local. If you’re planning a city break in the UK then keep reading for our choice of the best city landmarks to visit and photograph.

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle

Image taken from Princess Street Gardens

Arguably the capital’s most famous attraction, Edinburgh Castle sits high on Castle Rock surveying the city below. Watching over the city of Edinburgh for hundreds of years, this impressive landmark has seen it all; from witch trials and drownings in the Nor Loch to modern events like the Fringe. Edinburgh Castle can receive up to 8,000 visitors a day with many flooding the drawbridge for pictures. For an alternative look at the castle, head to Princess Street Gardens where it’s a little quieter but the view is just as impressive.

York Minster

Image of York Minster via Flickr.

Image of York Minster via Flickr.

No matter where you are in York, gaze up and you’ll be greeted with the familiar sight of York Minster.  The cathedral opened its doors in 637AD and has dominated the city skyline ever since. Welcoming over 490,000 visitors a year, it’s no wonder York Minster graces the front of almost every postcard in town. There’s a variety of locations in York where you can capture an impressive picture of the cathedral but our favourite is from the city streets where you can really highlight its contrast in size from York’s other buildings.

Big Ben

Image of Big Ben via Flickr.

Image of Big Ben via Flickr.

As one of the most photographed landmarks in the world, Big Ben is not only London’s star attraction but one of the key images you picture when thinking of the English capital. From the bustling streets of Westminster, thousands of visitors ogle this iconic structure everyday, but only a few take the time to tour The Elizabeth Tower. That’s right, you can also tour this impressive building, although you’ll have to contact your local MP to arrange it (more information here). To make the most of your Big Ben holiday snaps, stand back and incorporate the Houses of Parliament too.

 The Roman Baths

Image of The Roman Baths via Flickr.

Image of The Roman Baths via Flickr.

It’s impossible to visit the City of Bath without taking a picture of the fascinating Roman Baths. People have visited these baths for thousands of years and the attraction draws in over one million visitors a year. You can capture some amazing images of the Baths from outside the attraction but for a really impressive image, head inside. Although visitors aren’t allowed to take a dip in the Great Bath, you’re welcome to capture its beauty through your camera lens, and who knows, you may be able to feature one of the costumed characters in your picture too.

Caernarfon Castle

Image of Carenarfon Castle via Flickr.

Image of Caernarfon Castle via Flickr.

As one of Wales’ top tourist attractions, Caernarfon Castle attracts more than 200,000 visitors a year. The castle’s creator, Kind Edward the 1st, wanted to show Wales that he meant business and Caernarfon castle was definitely the right way to do it with its impressive octagonal towers and unusual hourglass shaped design.  Boasting fantastic views over Caernarfon, this formidable fortress is sure to add drama to your holiday album. Make the most of the historic features and grab a picture with one of the giant cannons, or from atop of the castle walls.

This is just a small selection of the fantastic landmarks UK cities have to offer. If you’re dreaming of a city getaway, be sure to check out our City Breaks page. With fashionable city properties located throughout the UK, your holiday scrap book will be filled in no time!


By Nicole Westley

As a food lover Nicole can often be found in the kitchen, covered in flour and experimenting with new tastes! When not making a mess she loves to explore her Celtic roots by roaming the Scottish countryside or exploring the bays along the Anglesey coast with her fiancé.

Win a Romantic Retreat with VisitEngland

October 22nd, 2014
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Have you entered our competition in conjunction with VisitEngland yet? With the competition end date in sight, we want to make sure that you don’t miss out on the chance to win this fantastic prize and enjoy a cosy cottage holiday in one of our stunning romantic retreats! We’re offering one lucky winner £400 worth of Sykes Cottages vouchers and a luxury hamper full of goodies; but hurry, the competition closes on October 31st. You can enter by heading to the VisitEngland website.

Here at Sykes, we think a cottage getaway is the most romantic way to take a break with your partner (not that we’re biased!) and in honour of our competition with VisitEngland, we want to share just a few of our tips on making the most of your romantic getaway!

Turn your phones off

Romantic holiday cottage in the Peak District

House on the Hill, Peak District, Ref. 916619

There is nothing that kills the mood more than looking at your phone every few minutes to flick through Twitter, check your Facebook notifications and upload pictures to Instagram. Just stop. Avoid temptation by turning your phone off and instead, focus on spending time with your loved one.

Make the most of the cottage’s facilities

Romantic holiday cottage in Shropshire

The Old Chapel, Shropshire, Ref. 30035

If you do your research before you go and read about the facilities that your cottage has to offer, you’ll ensure that you get the most out of your getaway. If your cottage has a hot tub, make sure that you pack your swim suits; if there’s an iPod dock, create a romantic playlist for your time together; if your cottage has a bath then splash out on some luxurious bath products for you both to enjoy! It’s all in the details.

Treat yourselves

Romantic holiday cottage in Yorkshire Dales

Journeyman Loft, Yorkshire Dales, Ref. 12252

As all of our cottages are self-catering, why not stop off at a local food shop or supermarket on the journey to stock up on all of your favourite snacks, drinks and ingredients for delicious home-made meals. Eating in is much more intimate than heading out to a restaurant, where you are frequently interrupted by waiters and distracted by other diners; if you’re looking for the perfect romantic meal then we recommend you cook up a storm in your holiday cottage and enjoy the privacy!

If you’ve entered the competition already and are waiting with bated breath to find out the winner, why not spend your time planning your potential romantic getaway by having a browse of our fantastic romantic cottages collection. If you haven’t entered yet and want to do so, head to the VisitEngland website now!

Louise O'Toole

By Louise O'Toole

Louise loves reading, shopping, baking and cosy country pubs with log fires. A nice cup of tea will never be turned down. She has spent many childhood summers on the beach in Cornwall and walking the hills of the Lake District.

Five Unusual Things to Do in Edinburgh

October 21st, 2014
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Edinburgh is one of our favourite cities and we can often be found talking about the best places to go and things to do while you’re visiting the Scottish capital. Of course, there are the classics: Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Mile, Holyrood Palace, Arthur’s Seat; but what about the more unusual things to do, that aren’t often mentioned in guidebooks? If like us, you’re fond of heading off the beaten-track, check out our pick of the five most unusual things to do whilst you’re in Edinburgh.


Via Flickr

Go underground with The Real Mary King’s Close

Although there are ghost tours aplenty in Edinburgh, The Real Mary King’s Close stands out as something a little different. This fascinating tour takes you down underneath the Royal Mile to a warren of 17th century streets, or ‘closes’ as they’re known, that have been frozen in time. These closes were part-demolished and buried underneath the Royal Exchange for a very long time, awash with rumours of plague victims being buried in the walls, and urban legends of murders and ghosts. They’ve now been opened up to the public and visitors can take the tour under the streets of Edinburgh, learning about the closes’ history, the people that lived there and the grisly things that took place.

See the Penguin Parade

While Edinburgh Zoo may not be the most unusual place for people to visit, the Penguin Parade is certainly one-of-a-kind. Edinburgh Zoo was actually the first zoo in the world to start housing and breeding penguins back in 1913, and they’ve remained a firm favourite with visitors ever since. The daily tradition of the Penguin Parade began in 1951 when a keeper accidentally left the enclosure door open and was followed around the zoo by the inquisitive escapees. It delighted visitors so much that the zoo continued the tradition and now, a parade of Gentoos, Rockhoppers and King Penguins occurs every day at 2.15pm.

Penguin at Edinburgh Zoo

Via Flickr

Visit the Royal Commonwealth Pool

Want to dive from the same diving board as Tom Daley? Head to Edinburgh’s Royal Commonwealth Pool, which played host to the diving events at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games! This 50m swimming pool has its own dedicated diving pool with facilities including 1m and 3m spring boards, as well as 3m, 5m, 7.5m and 10m platforms. You can either turn up at specially-allocated time slots for casual diving practice or pre-book an individual diving session with an instructor.

Walk the Water of Leith

Described as one of Edinburgh’s “best kept secrets”, the Water of Leith Walkway is a stunning path that takes you through Edinburgh city centre, along the River Leith and on to Leith itself. The walkway is perfect for a crisp afternoon stroll and takes walkers through charming villages such as Dean Village and Stockbridge; it also reveals fantastic views of Murrayfield Stadium.

Water of Leith, Edinburgh

Via Flickr

Take a Turkish Bath

Take a trip east from the city centre to the seaside suburb of Portobello, to discover a part of Edinburgh less-known to tourists. Whilst visiting this delightful beach resort, make sure you pay a visit to the Portobello Turkish Baths, which are one of only three working Turkish Baths still left in Scotland. Guests can take their pick from a steam room, relaxation area, three hot rooms and a cold plunge pool. Why not treat yourself to a little relaxation time away from the busy city and come back feeling fresh, rejuvenated and ready to sight-see!

If you’re planning on visiting Edinburgh or the surrounding areas, then make sure you check out Sykes Cottages’ fantastic range of holiday cottages in Scotland. We have over 550 properties located across the country, so you’re sure to find what you’re looking for!

Louise O'Toole

By Louise O'Toole

Louise loves reading, shopping, baking and cosy country pubs with log fires. A nice cup of tea will never be turned down. She has spent many childhood summers on the beach in Cornwall and walking the hills of the Lake District.

Cottages for a Family Holiday this Half Term

October 20th, 2014
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It may seem like yesterday the kids went back to school but, believe it or not, the October half term is creeping up on us – and there’s no better time to take a break! You get to see the UK in all its autumnal glory with long country walks and warming comfort foods being the order of the day. We’ve tracked down some of the cottages that are still available to book for the school holidays, so that you can have a look and start planning your autumn escape.

Berian Cross, Pembrokeshire


Berian Cross, ref. 14417

First up  is Berian Cross in the sleepy hamlet of Brynberian, around five miles from Newport in south Wales. A chocolate box cottage, Berian Cross features three bedrooms which sleep up to seven people between them. This property is perfect for a lover of the outdoors; situated in the heart of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, it gives easy access to walks, bike rides and even boat trips. And what’s better, back at the cottage there’s a luxury kitchen waiting for you to rustle up a nice warming meal at the end of the day!

The Granary, Norfolk


The Granary, ref. 14213

Or there’s The Granary, a grade II listed cottage in the town of Downham Market, not too far from King’s Lynn in Norfolk. A cosy property with an open fire in the living room, a wonderful country kitchen, and a bay window looking out over the cottage garden, you’ll never want to set foot outside! Should you venture out, you’ll be spoilt for choice with spots like the RSPB reserves at both Snettisham and Titchwell Marsh, as well as a range of stately homes a short way away, including Sandringham Estate and Holkham Hall.

Bwthyn Awel, Anglesey


Bwythyn Awyl, ref. 913963

Finally there’s Bwythyn Awyl on Anglesey; a delightful property that can sleep up to ten people throughout its five bedrooms, two of which come with their own en-suites! There’s a luxury NEFF kitchen too, which leads to a raised deck where you’ll find stunning views over the sea. And that’s not all; within a few miles, you’ll be able to find the palatial Plas Newydd Country House, as well as the South Stack Lighthouse, one of the most iconic sights of Anglesey.

But don’t forget those properties are just a few examples of the fantastic cottages that are still available over the half term period! We’ve got everything from cosy cottages in the countryside to houses big enough for the whole family, so if you fancy taking a break then have a look at the full selection or call us on 01244 356695 and we’ll help find your dream holiday cottage!

Jamie Tomkins

By Jamie Tomkins

Jamie is a big fan of long weekend walks with the dog, especially when there is the chance to refuel with lunch in a country pub. Living in Lancaster for three years gave him the perfect opportunity to spend a lot of time in the Lake District.