The UK’s Smallest Cities

October 23rd, 2016
Pin It

When it comes to city breaks we immediately think of locations like London or Manchester, but what about the UK’s smaller cities – the unusual cities, cities crisscrossed with cobbled streets and dominated by historic cathedrals? These unique cities are ideal for weekend or midweek breaks and can be found throughout the UK. So if you’re looking to book a city break with a difference, keep reading as we list our favourite small UK cities.

St Davids, Pembrokeshire

Well known for its spectacular cathedral, the city of St Davids’ calm atmosphere and easy pace of life would fool anyone into thinking it was a quaint Welsh town. Even though St Davids is officially the smallest city in the UK, there is still plenty to see and do here including tours of the cathedral, hikes along the Welsh Coastal Path and adventurous boat tours.

If you’d like to visit this pint-sized city on your next getaway then Sykes Cottages has a fantastic range of St Davids holiday cottages all within a few miles of the city itself.

Truro, Cornwall

Don’t let Truro’s small size fool you, as the only city in Cornwall Truro is more than equipped to cope with large numbers of locals and tourists. Known as the shopping capital of Cornwall, visitors from all over flock to the area to explore the independent shops, art galleries, pubs and restaurants. If you’re lucky enough to visit Truro during April, then you can attend the Truro Festival for Music, an impressive festival ideal for music, art and comedy lovers.

When planning your visit to Truro, be sure to check out our selection of Truro holiday cottages. These charming Cornish cottages are not only ideal for exploring the city but can also be used as a base for visiting the rest of Cornwall too.

Perth, Perthshire

With its picturesque riverside location and charming selection of independent shops and businesses, the unexpected city of Perth is the ideal location for a couple’s getaway. Here guests can take a romantic stroll along the River Tay, explore the Black Watch Castle and Museum or place a bet at the Perth Racecourse before discovering the miniature city’s many bars and restaurants during the evening.

If you’re interested in a romantic break in Perth then our selection of Perth holiday cottages are perfect for couples; with cosy fires, welcoming kitchens and plenty great places to eat and drink nearby.

Ely, Cambridgeshire

The historic city of Ely can be found just 80 miles from London, perfect for escaping the Big Smoke for the weekend. There are plenty of fantastic shopping opportunities in Ely from the independent boutiques, gift shops and craft stores to the Ely Cathedral complete with its unusual octagon tower. For an extra special day out, we suggest booking a boat trip down the Great Ouse which is sure to create wonderful memories for you and your party.

Perfect for exploring the city, our Ely holiday cottages come with stylish décor, comfortable furnishings and fantastic amenities close by.

Bangor, Gwynedd

As one of the smallest cities in the UK, Bangor can often be overlooked when it comes to booking a holiday, but with Snowdonia National Park and the North Wales coast on your doorstep, Bangor is a fantastic location for an active escape. Whether you’re taking a stroll along Bangor pier, exploring the grounds at Penrhyn Castle, or bouncing around in the underground caverns at Bounce Below there are plenty of attractions to discover in the Bangor area.

Our selection of Bangor holiday cottages are ideal for families looking to explore North Wales on their next self-catering break. These cottages come with plenty of space both indoors and out, and you can even bring the dog along as many of our Bangor cottages are pet-friendly.

Pin It
Nicole Jones-Gerrard

By Nicole Jones-Gerrard

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 husband.

Last Minute Cottages for October Half Term

October 16th, 2016
Pin It

Still not made plans for October half term yet? Luckily for you, Sykes Cottages still has some beautiful properties available across the UK and Ireland that are just perfect for a family getaway during the school holidays. Take a look below at a few handpicked cottages still available over October half term.

Hayloft Cottage, Cumbria

Holiday cottage in Yorkshire

This peaceful cottage is located on a family-run farm in the Cumbrian countryside. Hayloft Cottage has been carefully created from an old farm building, retaining its character; the upside down style of the accommodation takes full advantage of the lovely views of the surrounding countryside. The property enjoys shared use of all the lawned and terraced areas on the farm which includes a fantastic children’s play area. The real pull for families is that the owners offer guided tours around the farm and are full of fascinating stories about what it’s like to be a farmer in the countryside.

The Dovecote, North Wales

Holiday cottage in Wales

The Dovecote is a pretty first floor apartment in the charming harbour village of Abersoch. Set in a Grade II listed house surrounded by -tropical Italianate gardens, this spacious holiday home also offers panoramic sea views. Abersoch’s harbour, shops and restaurants are just a short stroll away and the property benefits from private access to the beach- it may not be sunbathing weather but beaches in autumn are beautiful places to walk and play family games of football. Other brilliant half term activities nearby include the The Children’s Farm Park, Criccieth Castle and Llanfair Slate Caverns.

44 Lower Lake, Sussex

Holiday cottage in Sussex

For a historical half term holiday, why not pay a visit to 44 Lower Lake. This traditional, Grade II listed 17 century cottage is located in the medieval town of Battle, where the Battle of Hastings took place. This quaint town with its cobbled streets and narrow alleys is bursting with history. Visit Battle Abbey, indulge an a high tea at Mrs Burton’s or step back in time and explore mysterious tunnels and caves at Smugglers Adventure. The property itself is charming with a cosy woodburning stove, beamed ceilings and plenty of space for a family to spread out in.

To see our full range of holiday cottages for October half term, you can visit our website or give our expert reservations team a call. They’re on hand to help seven days a week from 9am until 8pm and will be more than happy to help you find the right property for your family holiday.

Pin It
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.

Sykes Cottages 2016 Pumpkin Carving Halloween Competition

October 13th, 2016
Pin It

It’s the spookiest time of the year, which means it is the perfect opportunity for a Halloween Competition and the chance to Win a £500 Sykes Cottages Voucher.

Competition closes at midnight GMT on the 1st November 2016, any entries sent after this time won’t be counted.


To enter the Sykes Cottages 2016 Pumpkin Carving Halloween Competition, take a picture of your spooky creation or put it into a blog post and show us all the fun you had making it! Once you’ve carved your pumpkin masterpiece, all you need to do is let us know. Tweet a picture/link to @SykesCottages and use the hashtag #SykesHalloween. Alternatively, you can send us an email your entry here: We are also on Instagram and Facebook meaning that there are plenty of ways to enter. To enter on Facebook post your creation to our page or enter on Instagram with the hashtag #SykesHalloween.


Don’t forget to promote your Pumpkin carving masterpieces across your own social channels.

Competition Terms & Conditions:

How it works: There are two ways to enter the Sykes Cottages 2016 Pumpkin Carving Halloween Competition. 1) By sharing a photo of your Pumpkin creation with the hashtag #SykesHalloween on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. 2) By creating a blog post that showcases your pumpkin masterpiece and all the fun you had creating it. Sykes Cottages will then review the entries and select the winner who will receive the prize*.

  • *The prize is a £500 Sykes Cottages Voucher. For information on how to redeem a Sykes Cottages Voucher please see here.
  • The competition is open to any person/blogger located within the United Kingdom or Ireland and aged 18 and over, except for employees of Sykes Cottages and their families, partners and anyone else connected with the creation and administration of the promotion.
  • One winner will be selected within 7 working days of the competition close date (01/11/2016). The winner must claim their prize within 30 days of notification or the prize will be void and the winner will be re-selected from all other entrants.
  • To be in with a chance of winning, entrants must reside within the United Kingdom or Ireland.
  • No responsibility can be accepted for entries not received for whatever reason.
  • The prize is non transferable and there shall be no alternative prize, or cash alternative offered.
  • Sykes Cottages reserves the right to declare any competition null and void and stage another competition in its place.
  • Sykes Cottages is entitled to refuse to process any prize where necessary, for example, if you are unable to or fail to produced sufficient identification when claiming a prize.
  • There can only be one entry per person and per blog, multiple entries will not be counted.
  • By entering the competition, you agree to allow your entry to be shared across Sykes Cottages’ multiple social media platforms. E.g. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Blog.
  • The prize is supplied “as is” with no guarantee to its suitability.
  • Sykes Cottages will not be held accountable for any costs, losses, damages and expenses (including travel fees) which the winner may incur in relation to the competition or prize or as a result of any misrepresentation of the prize.
  • The winner accepts that their name may be provided or published in social media.
  • Sykes Cottages’ decision on the winner is final.
  • Entry into this competition constitutes acceptance of these Terms and Conditions.
  • Terms and Conditions are governed by the laws of England.

Competition opens at midnight BST on 14th October 2016.


Competition closes at midnight GMT on the 1st November 2016, any entries sent after this time won’t be counted.

Photo credit –

Pin It
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.

Introducing: The West Bay Club & Spa, Isle of Wight

October 7th, 2016
Pin It

Sykes Cottages is delighted to introduce you to The West Bay Club & Spa on the beautiful Isle of Wight. As of today, you will now be able to book their stunning holiday homes through the Sykes Cottages website.

The West Bay Club & Spa provides family friendly self-catering accommodation set within 15 acres of landscaped grounds, just outside the picturesque village of Yarmouth. As soon as you set foot in these picture-perfect surroundings, you’ll feel your mind clear and your body unwind as you embark on your exploration of Island life.

Designed with comfort and relaxation in mind

Sleeping between two and nine guests, their New England-style houses have been designed with comfort and relaxation in mind. The West Bay Club & Spa is the perfect place from which to discover all that the exquisite Isle of Wight has to offer, whether you’re looking for a weekend escape from the city or a family holiday by the sea.

West Bay holiday homes

Something to suit everyone

Guests will enjoy access to the indulgent Island Wellness Spa which offers natural and holistic therapies to help you feel relaxed, rested and restored. You can also make the most of the Club with its 20 metre swimming pool, top-of-the-range gym and fitness suite, tennis coaching and over 60 studio classes.

Families will love the bespoke activity programme on offer for children, as well as the on-site play area and splash pool, which ensures that there’s something to suit even the youngest members of your party. Membership to The Club, its facilities and many of the activities at West Bay are included in the price of your stay as is the ferry transfer, making a holiday to The West Bay Club & Spa as carefree as possible.

Family on walking route

Explore the spectacular Isle of Wight

The Island itself is full of history and has over 50 miles of spectacular unspoilt coastline with more Blue Flag beaches than any other destination in England. Though it’s famous for its traditional seaside towns, you’ll also find sprawling sandy shorelines, rugged cliffs and hidden coves just waiting to be explored. For the more adventurous, the Isle of Wight is also a brilliant choice for an action-packed holiday. Whether you fancy sailing, cycling or surfing, there’s something for everyone and there are plenty of scenic walking opportunities that the whole family can get involved in.

To book your holiday at The West Bay Club & Spa, please visit our website where you’ll find a wide variety of properties to choose from. If you need help finding the perfect property for your getaway then you can give us a call on 01244356695 and our friendly reservations experts will be able to advise on the right property for you. Our phone lines are open seven days a week from 9am until 8pm.

Isle of Wight

Sykes Cottages staff recommendations

Some of the Sykes Cottages team recently had the opportunity to visit The West Bay Club & Spa where they stayed for two nights, trying their hand at the activities on offer and being pampered at the Island Wellness Spa. Here are just a few testimonials from our team about their stay:

“I thought The West Bay Club & Spa was a serene, relaxing and friendly place. The grounds and facilities were extremely well-kept and the staff were incredibly welcoming and helpful- nothing was too much trouble for them. I loved the spa, it was beautifully designed and the treatments on offer were really unique, I chose the Hawaiian Lomi Lomi massage which was amazing! ”- Alice Barnett, Revenue Management Team

What struck me most was the chilled out atmosphere. It’s such a relaxing haven and the ferry crossing was quick and simple. My tennis lesson was with an enthusiastic and friendly coach who improved my game immensely”- Max Bailey, Key Account Manager

I had a wonderful time at West Bay. I found the staff to be warm and attentive and I would recommend this to family and friends in a shot”- Leanne Cotton, Reservations Agent

“What a welcoming place. Love an active holiday. Love being pampered. Love food. Just a few reasons why I enjoyed, and would happily recommend The West Bay Club to my closest friends. But experiences aside, what really made West Bay for me was the wonderful staff who were genuinely friendly. I look forward to heading back to the beautiful Isle of Wight, with a group of friends and road bikes in tow”- Laura Champion, CRM Marketing Manager

Sykes staff on Isle of Wight

Sykes staff on their visit to The West Bay Club & Spa


Pin It
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.

Where to See Autumn Colours in the UK

October 2nd, 2016
Pin It

Cosy jumpers, roaring fires and pumpkin-spiced… well, everything! These are just some of the things that make autumn my favourite time of the year, but there is something else that makes autumn top of my seasons list and that’s the colours! Warm browns, rich oranges and deep reds are all around us at this time of year and here at Sykes Cottages, we just can’t get enough of them. In fact we’re so in love with autumn colours that we’ve put together a fantastic list of the best places to see autumn colours in the UK. So lace up your boots and pop on your woolly hat, it’s time to visit one of these scenic locations before the autumn colours are gone for another year.

Bedgebury Forest, Kent

Bedgebury Forest

Image of Bedgebury by Albert KubxcaCC 2.0

Located close to the Sussex border in Kent, you’ll find Bedgebury Forest. Here you can ride your bike across the numerous cycle paths and gaze up at the changing canopy as the wind rustles through the golden leaves. Bedgebury Forest also welcomes dogs and with plenty of trees to sniff and fallen leaves to roll in, your four-legged friend is sure to enjoy the day out! Please be aware that dogs are allowed off the lead in the forest but must be kept on the lead at all times when in The National Pinetum, around the children’s play area and on the red mountain-bike route.

Prices: If arriving by car the cost is £10 Monday to Friday and £12 at weekends and bank holidays.
Opening times: 8am to 6pm until October 28th then 8am to 5pm until November 30th.
More information:

Dyffryn Gardens, the Vale of Glamorgan

Dyffryn Gardens

Image of Dyffryn Gardens by Ben SalterCC 2.0

Located in the Vale of Glamorgan, Dyffryn Gardens cover over 55 acres with formal and informal gardens, providing plenty of space for an autumnal adventure. It’s a very exciting time at the gardens this autumn as it marks the start of a five year project which will help protect the beautiful trees within their Arboretum. Why not make your trip to Dyffryn Gardens an annual one? This way you’ll be able to monitor the progress of the project and capture the true beauty of their woody collection.

Prices: £8.80 for adults, £4.40 for children and £22 for families.
Opening times: 10am to 5pm until October 30th then 10am to 4pm until November 30th.
More information:

Westonbirt, The National Arboretum, Gloucestershire


Image of Westonbirt by Mark KentCC 2.0

Westonbirt is possibly the best place in the UK to view autumn colours as their Arboretum is home to over 15,000 tree specimens from all over the world! Here you can follow one of the Arboretum’s many walkways or take to the skies and look down over the colourful foliage from the STIHL Treetop Walkway. October highlights at Westonbirt include the Japanese maples, Cappadocian maple and Sweet gum where as in November, visitors should look out for the Nikko maple, Native oak and Paperbark maple.

Prices: £9 for adults and £4 for children.
Opening times: 9am to 5pm, last admission is 4:30pm.
More Information:

Bodnant Gardens, Conwy

Bodnant gardens

Image of Bodnant Gardens by Paul PierceCC 2.0

The world-famous Bodnant Gardens cover over 80 acres of land above the River Conwy. Home to National Collections and Campion Trees, guests could spend hours exploring the variety of exotic and colourful plants on display. There is a wonderful selection of events taking place at Bodnant this autumn, including a specialist walk to see the autumn colours on October 12th and the ‘Head Gardener’s Walk’ on November 16th where guests can find out all about the gardens’ history and development.

Prices: £12.38 for adults and £6.20 for children.
Opening times: 10am to 5pm until November 1st then 10am until 4pm until the end of December.
More information:

Pin It
Nicole Jones-Gerrard

By Nicole Jones-Gerrard

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 husband.