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Booking a Surprise Holiday: The Ultimate Guide

Saturday, September 27th, 2014
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Whether it’s for a birthday, anniversary or just because, nothing says you care like booking a surprise holiday for your loved one. Whether you want a relaxing break or something to let out your adventurous side, we have a huge choice of properties that will suit your every need and are happy to help keep your booking a surprise. Take a look below at our latest infographic for hints and tips on booking – and keeping – that holiday a surprise!

The Ultimate Guide to Booking a Surprise Holiday

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Booking a Surprise Holiday… The Ultimate Guide!

There is nothing  like a luxury, romantic break for two and they’re even sweeter when it’s a surprise. Booking a getaway whilst keeping your partner in the dark can seem like a logistical nightmare but read on to learn a few tips on how to make your surprise a success!

Making a Surprise Booking

When making your booking, ensure that all correspondence goes to an address that your loved one doesn’t have access to. Book using your work email and ask whether they will be sending you anything in the post – if so, use your work address for that, too!

If you have a shared bank account, make sure that you don’t use it to pay for your surprise holiday. Use your personal bank account to avoid raising suspicions!

If you make your booking using a shared computer, or a computer that your loved one has access to, be sure to delete your browsing history and cookies afterwards.

Is there a series that your partner never misses or a TV show they’ve been longing to watch? Then be sure to record them if they’re scheduled for whilst you are away.

Things to Keep in Mind

Make sure that both you and the recipient of the surprise have booked holidays from work on the dates that you would like to go away.

If you’re leaving it until last minute to unveil your surprise, you can take some of the strain from your loved one by doing some of their packing for them.

If you aren’t staying in the UK think about any identification that you both might need and check that any identification is up to date before embarking on your journey.

Don’t forget that if you or your partner have a four legged friend, make sure to book pet friendly accommodation or arrange for a friend or family member to look after them.

Let their friends and family know about the surprise, to ensure that they do not make plans with your loved one over the time you will be going away.

Extra Touches

While You’re Away

Think about whether you want to have a relaxing or an action packed getaway. Does your loved one need to unwind or would an energising holiday full of activities suit them better?

If romance and relaxation is on the cards, then why not book a meal at a local restaurant whilst you’re away? Or even better, order a food shop from an organic delivery service and cook up a romantic meal for two.

If you’re looking for something a little more action packed then take a look at what activities are available in the local area and plan your days accordingly. If you’re near the coast then why not surprise your lucky holiday companion with surfing lessons, or if they’d rather stay on dry land, book a segway tour through a local forest.

Back at Home

If you’re keeping the getaway a complete surprise and not telling your loved one until last minute, there are a few thoughtful things you can sort out back at home so that they don’t have to!

Postpone any deliveries that they may have. Do they have milk or the newspaper delivered? Perhaps they receive a health snack food box through the post. If so, then put these deliveries on hold until you return from your getaway.

 

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.

The UK’s Best Service Stations

Sunday, September 21st, 2014
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When I initially suggested the idea of a blog post about service stations, it took quite a bit of convincing the rest of the team! ‘Who would want to read that?’ they asked. Eventually, with the promise that I would give my findings a bit of the Sykes Cottages treatment (think heritage, stunning views and picnics), my colleagues agreed to a post about service stations being written and I was more than happy to take the reins. Service stations aren’t known for their charm, and making a visit to one is often a necessity rather than a choice, but there are a few gems around; read on to see where you can find them.

Motorway Service Station with the Best Views

Tebay Service Station View

The view from Tebay Service Station Image via Flickr

Tebay services in the Lake District is the ideal rest stop for stunning views that are a change from the continuous tarmac and brake lights of the motorway. The building of the station backs on to a lake, which gives an amazing view that even the weariest of travellers will appreciate!

Motorway Service Station with the Best Loos

Cleanest Loo

Image via Flickr

Perhaps not the most glamorous of topics discussed on the Sykes Cottages blog, but nevertheless a clean loo can make or break a service station – or anywhere really. To discover the best service station loo in the UK I headed straight to the source, so to speak, the Loo of the Year awards website. The current holder of the best motorway loo accolade is Cambridge Extra Services on the M11 who show a high quality of cleanliness. Well done!

Motorway Service Station with the Best Food Choices

Bread

Image via Flickr

When you think of motorway service station food you instantly think of food that is greasy, fast and quite overpriced. That is often still the case, but there are a few service stations that are looking to change this and provide hungry travellers with local, wholesome food! Gloucester Services on the M5 is one of these service stations, which tantalises travellers taste buds with artisan breads, seasonal fruit juices and homemade pies amongst others.

Motorway Service Station with the most Unique Aspect

Happendon Services

Image via Flickr

Not only is Happendon service station in Cairn Lodge one of the cheapest motorway stop-offs around, it was also once the location of Douglas Castle. If you head around the back of the service station you will find the fantastic remains of the castle which used to house the powerful medieval family, the Douglases. More recently, the remains of the castle stand proudly at the service station, giving a nice backdrop for tired drivers to replenish their batteries.

Motorway Service Station with the Best Place to Stop for a Picnic

Picnic

Image via Flickr

Mostly due to its incredible views, Killington Lake service station on the M6 southbound is arguably the best UK service station to stop off for a picnic. With picnic tables placed alongside the lake you can take in the views whilst you have a break from driving. Perfect!

So there we have it, five of the best service stations that our motorways have to offer! Do you have a particular service station that you always stop off at? Have you ever visited one of the above? Let us know via twitter or facebook, we’d love to know!

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.

The Scottish Referendum: How The UK’s Landscape Could Have Changed

Friday, September 19th, 2014
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The polls are closed, the votes have been tallied and it has been confirmed: Scotland is staying in the United Kingdom! There was a lot of talk during the run up to the referendum regarding politics and how various policies would change, which is rightfully so, however we thought that we would take a look at the more geographical changes and how statistically the UK’s physical landscape would have changed if the vote were a yes. Take a look at our nifty, easy to read graphic to see how the UK would have changed if it had lost it’s highland crown.

United-UK-Geography

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How The UK’s Landscape Could Have Changed

The campaigning is over, the polls have closed, the votes have been counted and Scotland is still a part of the United Kingdom! We were all told about the possible changes to the political landscape of the UK but what about the statistical, geographic ones? Here are a few of the things we would have lost here in the United Kingdom had Scotland become an independent country.

We could have been shorter

Without Ben Nevis, the UK would have been 854 foot shorter…

This is equivalent to 366 Shetland Ponies stood on top of each other.

We could have been shallower

If we would have lost the deepest body of water, Loch Morar, which is 310 metres at its deepest point, the UK would have been a little shallower… Even The Shard, the highest building in the European Union is smaller than this, standing at 306 metres.

We could have lost most of our coast

The UK coastline stretches for 19,895 miles however 11,550 of those miles are from the coast of Scotland…

This is equivalent to travelling from London to New York, a 3452 mile journey, three times with some miles left to spare!

We could have had fewer national parks

The UK would have had two less national parks with the potential loss of Cairngorms and Loch Lomond. These two national parks have a combined area of 2468.4m2 ….

This would have been an area loss twice the size of Luxembourg!

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.

Ten Reasons to Love Vintage Festivals

Thursday, September 11th, 2014
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From cars, clothing, music and the lifestyle, we’re a nation of vintage lovers. More and more vintage shops are appearing on our high street, more vintage cars can be seen touring country roads on a weekend, and vintage festivals are quickly becoming as popular as our summer music festivals. With this in mind, and our love of a good bit of bunting here at Sykes HQ, we thought we’d take a look at some of the reasons why vintage festivals are becoming so popular in the UK.

1. The Music

Image via Flickr

Image via Flickr

Take your ears back in time and listen to the songs, styles and genres that helped shape the music that we listen to today.

2. Everyone Dresses Up…

Image via Flickr

Image via Flickr

Festivals celebrating all things vintage are always the perfect excuse to get dolled up in your finery. Whether you fancy channelling the fifties with a feather headdress and pearls or epitomise the style of the swinging sixties with a bold mini dress, anything goes!

3. .. Including The Guys!

Image via Flickr

Image via Flickr

This dressing up malarkey isn’t just for the ladies. In bygone decades, men would always put their best fashion-focused foot forward and made sure they were looking dapper and dandy at all times.

4. Food and Drink

Pimms

Image via Flickr

Say goodbye to dodgy burger vans, hot dog stands and overpriced drinks. Vintage festivals are full of freshly baked goods, picnics and Pimms. Yum!

5. Meet Like-Minded People

Image via Flickr

Image via Flickr

Unfortunately, not everyone likes vintage. Some people just like things to be modern and it can be difficult to find other fanatics to discuss all things vintage. At vintage festivals you can strike up a sixties conversation with absolutely anyone!

6. Classic Cars

Vintage Car

Image via Flickr

It’s not just dancing, music and food at vintage festivals. At many you will see a selection of classic cars that, even if you’re not a motoring fan, you’re sure to appreciate!

7. Dancing

Image via Flickr

Image via Flickr

With such incredible music it would be difficult not to get a bit of a swing in your step and getting involved in the care-free atmosphere is where the most fun is!

8. Vintage Markets

Image via Flickr

Image via Flickr

For collectable items, one of a kind pieces or even just an excuse to pick up a little treat, vintage markets and boot sales are a regular occurrence at vintage fairs!

9. Poodle Parades

Image via Flickr

Image via Flickr

Dog lovers unite at Atomic Festival’s Poodle Parade, where you can see a number of these beautiful dogs permed to fifties perfection.

 10. The Chap Olympiad

Image via Flickr

Image via Flickr

Umbrella jousting, iron-board surfing and a pipeathlon all whilst wearing your dandiest clothing; The Chap Olympiad sounds pretty perfect to me!

There we are, ten reasons to love vintage themed festivals. Are you a seasoned vintage festival go-er? If so, we’d love to know what your favourite thing about these wonderful events are. Drop us a line on Twitter or Facebook and let us know.

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.

Holiday Planning: When Should I Book My Next Holiday?

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014
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I personally think that there are two types of holiday makers; those who like the adrenaline of leaving everything until the last minute, and those who like to meticulously plan and have something to be excited for. Whatever your holiday planning style, it is always worth keeping potential dates in mind, particularly if you need to book time off work or gather a large group. To help you out and give you some ideas, we have put together a short list of some upcoming dates that you might want to keep in mind for your holiday!

Families

Hoath House

Hoath House is large enough for the whole family!

With everyone having the same time off and people taking the opportunity to spend quality time with their loved ones, it is no surprise that school holidays are a popular time to head away. This popularity, however, means that the demand for properties during school holiday time is high. If you have a large family, a specific location in mind or a list of specific requirements it is certainly advisable to book early. It is not uncommon that our large coastal properties are booked for summer over a year in advance! Here are some dates you might want to keep in mind for upcoming school holidays:

October half term: 25th October – 3rd November 2014
Christmas and New Year holiday: 20th December – 4th January 2015
February half term: 7th – 22nd February 2015
Easter holiday: 28th March – 19th April 2015

Couples

Coachman's in Tintagel

Coachman’s in Tintagel looks like the ideal romantic retreat.

When it’s just the two of you, there is nothing better than deciding last minute to book a few nights somewhere romantic. Luckily, unless you’re a fan of crowds, you have the pick of the year to head away on a getaway! Like with family holidays, if you have particular needs then it is best to book in advance, but if your only requirement is to spend some quality time with your significant other then a last minute break can be a good idea. At Sykes Cottages, a large number of our properties provide last minute breaks, and they are bookable up to a week in advance of your check-in date. Perfect if you want to surprise your loved one but don’t think you can keep the secret for too long!

Friends

A large living space like this in Domecilia is perfect for friends.

A large living space like this in Domecilia is perfect for friends.

Whether it’s a birthday, a hen party, a stag do or just an excuse to get everyone together, sometimes there is nothing better than getting together with your friends. Particularly if you don’t get to see them often! Likewise with large properties for family holidays, it can be a good idea to book far in advance as they do tend to book up quickly. It can also be difficult to get everyone together, particularly considering work and other commitments, so it is best to figure out a date that is suitable for everyone sooner rather than later. For more choice when booking as a large group, staying clear of school holiday dates is a great idea and unless being beside the coast is a must, looking for properties more inland can really open up your options.

Whatever your holiday plans and whoever you are going with, at Sykes Cottages we’re sure to have something that suits you. So take a look at our wide range of cottages across the UK and Ireland and book today!

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.