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6 essentials to include in a guest information pack

Friday, February 13th, 2015
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Your cottage may feel like home to you, but to arriving guests it’ll be as unfamiliar as a hotel room. Luckily, there are number of things you can do to make your guests feel comfortable from the moment they arrive, and one of those is it to create a welcome pack.

Owner BA good welcome pack will contain information about the property and its owner. It’ll have a section about local amenities such as restaurants, pubs and shops. It will have emergency contact information, need-to-know appliance advice, and up to date information on local transport. Personal recommendations are a good idea too, as well as guest-book where holidaymakers can leave their own feedback.

Creating a welcome pack from scratch may sound a daunting task, but with our useful guide, you’ll have one put together in no time.

Things to include in your welcome pack

Your welcome pack needs to be as comprehensive as possible, so before you start, have a good think about what your guests might need to know when staying in your holiday let. Below, we’ve attached a few essentials we think every guest information pack should contain.

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A friendly welcome

Don’t dive in with the dos and donts; instead, welcome guests to your property with a friendly note that lets them know a little about you and your property. Most people that stay at your property will love to hear about its history, and are more likely to look after the place if they’ve received a friendly and personal ‘Hello’ from its owner.

Emergency Contact Information

One of the best ways to put your guests’ mind at rest is to include emergency contact information in your welcome pack. Be sure to include your own contact telephone or that of your caretaker or handyman, as well as phone numbers for local doctors, hospitals and dentists. If your property is pet friendly, including the number for the local vets is a nice touch too.

Appliance Information

Operating the appliances in your cottage might be second to nature for you, but for others, it can cause a real headache. That’s why it’s important to include detailed operating instructions on all of the appliances in your holiday home that guests will be using including ovens, TVs and the central heating. Although including all this information might sound unnecessary, it’ll save you time and inconvenience in the long run. After all, you don’t want to be woken in the middle of the night by a guest who can’t switch the tele on.

Lutra lutraDos and donts

Although nine out of ten guests will treat your holiday home with the respect it deserves, it’s important to include a few dos and donts to reduce the chance of something going awry. If your property is in a built up area, remind guests of this to avoid unwanted noise complaints. If your property is pet friendly, reiterate that pets should be kept off furnishings. Provide clear parking instructions to ensure guests don’t park on your neighbour’s property. And most importantly, remind guests that any problems should be reported to you as quickly as possible.

Local transport

Even if most guests travel to your cottage by car, it’s a great idea to include local transport information in your welcome pack. From taxi numbers to bus timetables, providing up to date transport information will be a godsend for some of your guests, especially if you live in an area with poor mobile reception. It’s also a good idea to provide brief instructions on how to get to the bus/ train station from your property as it may not be obvious to your guests.

Attractions and Amenities

One of the most obvious things to include in a welcome pack is a list of nearby attractions and amenities. Though most property owners will leave flyers and leaflets in their cottage, it’s a good idea to list a variety of attractions that cater for all ages, such as family days out and adult activities. If you have time, create a map of where the attractions are in relation to the cottage and include any attractions that you can personally recommend.

Get expert advice on letting your holiday home with Sykes

At Sykes, we pride ourselves on our service, and that service extends to our cottage owners. We have a dedicated team of property experts working day in day out to provide support and advice for our owners, with whatever queries they have. From pricing enquiries to interior design advice, our owners team are here for you. If you’re interested in letting your holiday home with Sykes Cottages, visit our Let Your Cottage page for further information.

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Jonathan Tuplin

By Jonathan Tuplin

Jonathan is a lover of books, music and good food. Originally from Yorkshire, there's nothing he likes more than a cycle in the country. One of his favourite spots in the UK is Tenby, where he spent many a happy holiday as a child.

10 things couples should try this Valentine’s Day

Thursday, February 12th, 2015
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Sorry, singletons aren’t welcome here, for today on the Sykes’ blog, we’ve gone all soft in honour of Valentine’s Day. Before you close this page at the speed of Cupid’s bow, hold fire; we’re not here to make you spend a quarter of a month’s wages on a bouquet of roses. Instead, we want you and your lover to try something out of the ordinary this Valentine’s Day. From horse riding in the Lakes to picnicking by boat, here’s 10 things every couple ought to try during the weekend of lurve.

Be entranced by the night sky in Northumberland

When the lights go out this Valentine’s Day, don’t take it to the bedroom. Instead, layer up and head to Northumberland, where the starry night sky hanging over Kielder Water will sweep you off your tootsies. In 2013, Northumberland’s night sky was granted protected dark sky status, making it one of the best places to stargaze in Europe.

Enjoy afternoon tea at Corfe Castle

The romantic ruins of Corfe Castle are a dreamy daytrip destination for couples at the best of times, but on Valentine’s Day, this evocative Civil War relic comes into its own. After a hand-in-hand stroll around the castle, take an afternoon tea of heart-shaped shortbread, chocolate dipped strawberries and Victoria sponge cake in the castle’s cosy café.

Hire a classic car and head for the hills

Leave the Merc at home this weekend and travel in style with a retro hire car. There are lots of classic motors available to rent for a weekend jaunt to the countryside, from the chic Jaguar E-type to the Austin Healey. With the breeze in your hair, you can explore some of England’s prettiest spots; we’d recommend the Cotswolds, whose charming villages are as timeless as your chosen wheels.

Wander the Wild Atlantic Way in Ireland

If you’re looking for alone time this Valentine’s Day, there’s only one place for it: the Wild Atlantic Way. Spanning the length of Ireland’s west coast, this evocative seaboard trail is about as far flung as it gets. Think soaring sea cliffs, windswept beaches, and some of the friendliest locals in Europe. If you choose, you won’t see another soul for miles – bliss.

Explore the mystical Ingleton Waterfall Trail

Does the sight of a waterfall render you all of a flutter? Then steady yourself, for the Ingleton Waterfall Trail has lots of them. Beginning in the sleepy village of Ingleton, this circular trail takes visitors on a journey through some of the most spectacular waterfall scenery in England – trust me, you’ll want the camera.

Savour a romantic rail journey in Snowdonia

Picture a steam train chugging through a leafy valley. Then, picture yourself aboard it, sipping a glass of champagne as you sit and admire the views. Sound good? Then book yourself aboard the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railway, whose carriages and engines are over 150 years old. The Ffestiniog Railway has over forty miles of track, and passes some of Snowdonia’s prettiest landscapes.

Picnic on the River Fowey in Cornwall

Fowey Picnic Boat

Perused our Discover Cornwall Visitor Guide recently? Then you’ll know about the Fowey Picnic Boat. For those who haven’t: the Fowey Picnic Boat offers the chance to picnic aboard a 1930’s motor launch captained by friendly skipper, Brian. Brian will take lovebirds on a two-hour cruise of the beautiful River Fowey whilst they gorge on a delicious picnic. If you can’t make it for Valentine’s, it’s the perfect daytrip come summer.

Saddle up in the Lake District

You’ve walked, cycled, kayaked and climbed your way across the Lake District – but have you ever explored this wonderful region on horseback? With an endless supply of fells, dells and coast to explore, Cumbria and the Lake District is one of the best places in the country for four-legged discovery. Like lovers of old, you too can saddle up and feel at one with nature this Valentine’s Day.

Enjoy a snowy sled dog tour in Scotland

Or, swap ponies for pooches and enjoy an unforgettable sled dog tour in the Scottish Highlands this Valentine’s Day. With a little help from some strong-as-on-ox canines, you can see the Highlands like never before. Over the Valentine’s weekend, Scotland’s likely to be covered in a blanket of snow, which will only add to the enchantment. After your mushing sesh, head back to the warmth of a Scottish log cabin and warm your extremities beside the fire.

Book a last minute Valentine’s getaway

Just want to get away with the person you love? That’s fine too! But you’ll have to be quick, as there’s only a few days left to book a last minute getaway for cupid’s big weekend. Visit our Valentine’s cottages page today, and use the search bar on the left of the page to find the perfect cottage for your romantic getaway.

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Jonathan Tuplin

By Jonathan Tuplin

Jonathan is a lover of books, music and good food. Originally from Yorkshire, there's nothing he likes more than a cycle in the country. One of his favourite spots in the UK is Tenby, where he spent many a happy holiday as a child.

Dickens’ Britain: Celebrate the 203rd birthday of Charles Dickens

Saturday, February 7th, 2015
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Charles Dickens was, and still remains, one of the UK’s most prolific writers, penning a total of fifteen novels, five novellas and hundreds of short stories. His works include some of the world’s most beloved fictional characters, including Oliver Twist, Miss Havisham and Ebenezer Scrooge, and he is widely regarded as one of the best writers of his generation.

Today is the 203rd anniversary of Dickens’ birth, and to celebrate, we’re taking a look at some of the places that were the inspiration behind some of English literature’s most important settings.

St James’ Church, Cooling, Kent

Located amid the bleak heathlands of Kent’s Hoo Peninsula, the village of Cooling was subject to the Dickens’ treatment in the 1850s when its church, St James’, became the setting for the opening character of Dickens’ 13th novel, Great Expectations.  St James’ is the backdrop of Pip’s meeting with the convict, and is described as a desolate, sinister and bleak place. Far from being forsaken, the 13th church is a fascinating historic site with many original features, and is open daily to visitors.

Bowes Academy, Barnard Castle, County Durham

Anyone who’s read Nicholas Nickleby will recognise the infamous Dotheboy’s Hall – the imposing boarding school governed by devilish disciplinarian, Wackford Squeers – but have you heard of Bowes Academy? This was an actual Victorian boarding school located in the town of Barnard Castle, which Dickens visited on a tour of northern England. Recently, Bowes Academy was converted into apartments and renamed Dotheboys Hall as homage to Dickens novel. It’s thought Dickens based the brutal Wackford Squeers on the then headmaster of the school, William Shaw, a fact which has caused controversy since the book’s publication.

Restoration House, Rochester, Kent

Beyond the historic city walls of Rochester lies one of England’s most undervalued medieval houses: Restoration House. Dickens chose the palatial manor house as the setting for his revered character, Miss Haversham, one of the primary antagonists of Great Expectations. Looking at Restoration’s imposing exterior and dark furnished chambers, it’s easy to see why the novelist would choose this to be Haversham’s home. Today, Restoration House serves as a fascinating example of a Tudor manor house, and its house and grounds are open to the public on selected dates.

 Bonchurch, Isle of Wight

In the Victorian-era, the Isle of Wight was very much the in vogue destination for the filthy rich London elite. Queen Victoria had a holiday home here; Charles Darwin began his Origin of Species on the island; and Lewis Carroll spent many long holidays lounging on the Isle of Wight’s beaches. Dickens too, was a frequent visitor, and was particularly fond of the St Boniface Down. In 1845, the writer rented Winterbourne County House for the entire summer, and it’s thought much of his beloved novel, David Copperfield, was written during his visit.

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Jonathan Tuplin

By Jonathan Tuplin

Jonathan is a lover of books, music and good food. Originally from Yorkshire, there's nothing he likes more than a cycle in the country. One of his favourite spots in the UK is Tenby, where he spent many a happy holiday as a child.

England’s Most Picturesque Places – Volume II

Thursday, February 5th, 2015
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Last week on the Sykes blog, we featured a shortlist of the top 10 most picturesque places in England. As you’d expect, all the usual suspects were there – Cornwall, Yorkshire, Cumbria, Devon, Kent, Derbyshire, Northumberland, Dorset, Isle of Wight and Gloucestershire – but there are some obvious omissions; where for instance is Somerset? Norfolk? Lancashire? Lincolnshire? Suffolk? Oxfordshire? Shropshire? And so on and so on…

Sadly, these places missed out on a place in the top ten, but that’s not to say they aren’t perfectly picturesque in their own right.

Today, we want to pay homage to the lesser known counties that we think are as pretty as the Cumbrias and Cornwalls of this world – so let’s get down to it.

Somerset

With two AONBs (the Quantocks and Mendips) and one National Park (Exmoor) Somerset packs a picturesque punch. This small yet perfectly formed county offers the very best of coast and country; from the seaside resorts of Minehead and Weston-super-Mare to the rural charm of Taunton, Wells and Cheddar. Don’t miss a hike in the Blackdown Hills, a ride on the West Somerset Steam Railway and a drive through the stunning Cheddar Gorge.

Norfolk

Despite being one of England’s flattest counties, Norfolk proves you don’t need peaks to be picturesque. This beloved county is home to a handful of England’s – nay, Britain’s – most beautiful beaches, including Hunstanton, Sheringham and Holkham. Then there’s the Broads, whose canals, windmills and thatched roof cottages are irrevocably English. Head into Norwich, the county capital, and you’ll be delighted with the prettiness of the place. Norwich is one of England’s oldest cities, and was once the second largest city in the country after London.

Lancashire

Lancashire is all too often overlooked as a holiday destination, and we haven’t the foggiest why. Go beyond the metropolis of Greater Manchester and you’ll be greeted with some of the prettiest and quietest countryside in England. From the Ribblehead Valley and the Forest of Bowland to the Arnside and Silverdale AONB, Lancashire offers rugged beauty without the usual gaggle of tourists. The county is home to several historic towns too including Lancaster, Ormskirk and Clitheroe, all of which offer a pleasant place to stay on your trip to this picturesque English county.

Shropshire

Landlocked on the border of Wales, Shropshire is a surprisingly rugged and attractive English county. In the south, the Shropshire Hills Area of Oustanding Natural Beauty has peaks and valleys that North Wales would be proud of; and to the north, the medieval town of Shrewsbury offers the same level of historic eye-candy as York, Chester and Norwich. Speaking of history; pay a visit to the picturesque Severn Valley, where you’ll find all manner of fascinating museums, as well as the World Heritage Site of Ironbridge – thought to be the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution.

Oxfordshire

Did you know that Oxfordshire is home to the Cotswolds, one of England’s most beloved and picturesque regions? Well, it is, which makes it – in our opinion – one of England’s prettiest counties. The Cotswolds are renowned for their postcard blend of rolling hills and chocolate box towns and villages, including Burford, Chipping Norton and Bampton. Of course, no visit to Oxfordshire would be complete without a daytrip to the “City of Dreaming Spires” – aka Oxford – whose historic architecture will have you reaching for the camera.

Think we’ve missed a particularly picturesque corner of England? Disagree with our choices? Let us know your favourite English county on Facebook or Twitter!

Don’t forget to check out our Top 10 most picturesque places in England for even more holiday inspiration.

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Jonathan Tuplin

By Jonathan Tuplin

Jonathan is a lover of books, music and good food. Originally from Yorkshire, there's nothing he likes more than a cycle in the country. One of his favourite spots in the UK is Tenby, where he spent many a happy holiday as a child.

England’s Top 10 most picturesque counties revealed

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015
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It’s a debate that’s raged on for years: which of England’s eighty-three counties is the prettiest? Could it be Somerset with its treasured Quantocks? Dorset with its inspiring Durdle Door? Or Norfolk with its beloved Broads? To settle this once and for all, we asked one thousand Brits to tell us which English county they love the most – here’s what we found.

Cornwall voted most picturesque county in England

Image by Darren Flinders is licensed under CC 2.0

Image by Darren Flinders is licensed under CC 2.0

That’s right, one in five respondents voted Cornwall as England’s prettiest destination, and it’s hardly surprising, given the county’s evocative mix of coast and country. Cornwall is a firm favourite among many UK holidaymakers thanks to its wonderful beaches and rugged heathlands, not to mention its seemingly endless heritage. You can find out more about England’s prettiest region by visiting our brilliant new visitor guide, Discover Cornwall.

Image by James Whitesmith is licensed under CC 2.0

Image by James Whitesmith is licensed under CC 2.0

Yorkshire was voted England’s second prettiest destination in the poll, with a respectable 18% of the vote. Despite failing to topple Cornwall from its picturesque pedestal, God’s Own County remains one of the UK’s most revered holiday destinations, and was dubbed Europe’s best destination at the World Travel Awards in 2013.

Coming in a close third was Cumbria, whose world-famous national park – the Lake District – will certainly have helped the county climb up the rankings. But the Lakes aren’t the only thing this northern county has to shout about; head to the coast, and you’ll find some of England’s most beautiful, secluded and windswept beaches, as well as a handful of charming towns and villages.

Which English counties completed the top 10? Find out below…

Picturesque 3

The Leadership Factor polled 1,019 British adults in December 2014 on behalf of Sykes Cottages.

Top 10 Most Picturesque Counties in England

  1. Cornwall
  2. Yorkshire
  3. Cumbria
  4. Devon
  5. Kent
  6. Derbyshire
  7. Northumberland
  8. Dorset
  9. Isle of Wight
  10. Gloucestershire

So there you have it: a definitive shortlist of England’s most picturesque counties. Do you agree with the top 3? Which English county would you choose? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter – we’d love to hear from you.

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Jonathan Tuplin

By Jonathan Tuplin

Jonathan is a lover of books, music and good food. Originally from Yorkshire, there's nothing he likes more than a cycle in the country. One of his favourite spots in the UK is Tenby, where he spent many a happy holiday as a child.