Archive for the ‘Cottage Owners’ Category

How To Make Your Cottage Bike Friendly

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014
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With influences including British success in the Olympics, a British winner of the Tour de France 2012 and Yorkshire’s very own Le Tour Grand Depart having taken place this weekend just gone, the popularity of cycling in the UK has increased dramatically in the past few years. Cycling holidays are becoming more and more popular and we’re seeing a large number of people booking holiday cottages with the intent of exploring the surrounding areas by bike. Ensuring that your holiday cottage is cycle friendly can be a brilliant way of attracting more bookings and so Sykes Cottages have put together a handy guide to a few, inexpensive suggestions to help you make sure your cottage is as bike friendly as possible.

Make sure you have some form of bike storage

via. Flickr

via. Flickr

One of the most obvious ways to make your holiday cottage cycle friendly is to provide a secure storage area for your guests’ bikes. Whether this is in the form of a cycle rack in a secure garage, a space-saving storage device in the cottage itself, or even just a bike lock, having some form of bike storage is essential if you want to attract cyclists to your property. There are many inexpensive storage devices on the market, so it doesn’t have to cost and arm and a leg and will certainly impress potential guests. It goes without saying but it’s also essential to make sure that you have enough storage to correspond with the maximum occupancy of guests permitted at your cottage.

Provide washing and drying facilities

Bike friendly holiday cottage in Haworth

The Old Forge, Haworth, Ref. 14036

When out on a bike, the likelihood is that you’re going to get a bit muddy; the last thing your guests will want to do is leave dirty clothes on your furniture or put their muddy cycling gear back into their suitcase. Cottage owners can easily solve this problem and cater to their guests’ needs by installing a washing machine and providing a specific drying area or a clothes airer. It’s also nice to create a space for muddy trainers; making life easier for your guests and limiting the amount of cleaning you’ll have to do on your changeover. If you have outside space at your property, an added bonus for cyclists is to have a hose-pipe available to wash down their bike after a particularly muddy ride; once again, making life easier for your guests when they have to transport their bike home and also preventing your cottage needing extra cleaning.

Stock up on information about cycling routes in the area

Bike route

Via Flickr

Something that will be particularly helpful to cyclists staying at your property is information on cycle routes in the area. You could provide leaflets from your local tourist information centre, print off information from the internet, or if you’re a keen cyclist yourself, provide your own information and suggestions on what to do in the area. A nice touch would be to leave a visitors book specifically for cyclists, so your guests can leave feedback and comments on the routes that they’ve tried with recommendations, hints and tips for the next guests.

Make your holiday cottage cycle friendly with Sykes Cottages

Bike friendly holiday cottage in Ironbridge

Courtyard Cottage, Ironbridge, Ref. 11346

There are many changes you can make to your property to help it appeal more to cyclists, some big and some small. This is not an exhaustive list of suggestions and if you already have a cycle-friendly property, or if you’re a keen cyclist and think that there’s something important that we’ve missed out then we’d love to know about it! You can get in touch with suggestions via our Facebook or Twitter pages.

If you have a holiday cottage of your own and you’re interested in learning more about how to make your holiday cottage bike friendly, or you’re interested in learning more about working with Sykes Cottages, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our dedicated owner’s department who will be more than happy to help. You can give them a call on 01244 356 695 or visit the owner’s page on our website. For more inspiration on how to make your holiday cottage bike friendly, you can check out the selection of cycle friendly holiday cottages already on our website.

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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.

Going Green: A Guide for Cottage Owners

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014
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“Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints”

Here at Sykes Cottages, we’ve found that this saying has started to hold more and more meaning for our customers; customers who are now actively seeking eco-friendly accommodation. There are a number of fantastic cottages advertised with Sykes as eco-friendly, but we would like to do more and I’m sure you would too! In this guide, you’ll find a number of suggestions that will start you on the path to greener accommodation, not only attracting more customers but saving yourself a few pounds along the way.

Saving Energy

There are a number of ways a cottage owner can save on the energy they are putting into their property or convert their existing energy supplies into a greener alternative. Solar panels are the obvious choice for green accommodation and many of our owners with this facility have already seen the benefit on their electricity bill; but there are other energy saving options available to you. Did you know that underfloor heating was first introduced by the Romans? This alternative heating option is a great way of warming both your holiday cottage’s rooms and hot water. It works by pumping warm water through plastic tubing embedded in the floor, not only saving on your heating bill but also increasing your usable floor space by eliminating bulky radiators.

If you’re looking at saving energy on a smaller scale then we would suggest introducing low-energy light bulbs. Usually the most expensive bulbs on the shelf, these energy-saving alternatives will definitely save you money in the long run, up to £45 a year! Where ever possible, you should make sure your windows are fitted with double glazing to help prevent heat loss. For older cottages that are not able to fit double glazing, make sure you hang heavy curtains to keep in the warmth and supply a draft excluder for the doors.

Water Usage

Here in the UK, there’s an increasing pressure being placed on our water supply, with the average Brit using around 150 litres of water a day! As an individual cottage owner you may think that there’s not much you can do to lessen the strain on the water supply, but by making just a few minor adjustments you could really help our environment.

Did you know that you could save 60 litres of water per week by simply fixing a dripping tap? This can be easily done by replacing the washer and takes no more than five minutes of your time; keeping your existing equipment well maintained is the easiest and probably the cheapest way to save water. You’ll find that many of our owners here at Sykes Cottages harvest their rainwater. By collecting the fallen rain, they are able to water the plants, wash down the paving and even fill up the bird bath – it’s a simple adjustment which makes a big difference in the long run. Another simple yet effective method of saving water is to collect all your bedding, towels and blankets to have them all washed together. Making sure you do all your washing at once rather than in several small loads will help lower your water usage and save you money on both the water and electricity bills!


With the government introducing an array of colourful bins to cope with every kind of waste, from left over food to glass and clothing, it has never been easier to recycle. There are many simply changes you can make to your everyday life that will aid you on your quest to greener accommodation, for example stopping your unwanted mail. We all get unwanted mail and within two minutes of opening it, it’s put straight in the bin. This mail can of course be put into your paper recycling bin, but wouldn’t it be better to save a tree and not receive the unwanted mail in the first place? By contacting the Mailing Preference Service and Royal Mail you’ll stop receiving unsolicited advertising and by being more aware when giving out your name and address, you can usually indicate that you do not want your details passed on for further promotion.

We have all heard the phrase “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” and with a number of charity shops up and down our high streets, this phrase is extremely relevant in today’s society.  When owning a self-catering holiday cottage, it’s important to have comfortable furnishing for your guests; but what happens when this furniture is no longer needed? We would suggest contacting a second hand furniture store; they would be glad to take your old furniture off your hands and can even suggest a range of second hand furniture which you could use instead of buying new.

I hope this guide has helped you see that making the change to eco-friendly accommodation is very simple and that in the long run, it could save you a lot of money as well as increasing your bookings. For more inspiration, make sure to check out our existing eco-friendly cottages or give our owners department a call for further advise on converting your property!

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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.

How can Sykes Cottages Help Cater Your Property to Families?

Friday, May 30th, 2014
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For many of us, our busy lives mean that we don’t spend as much quality time with our family as we would like to. School, work and social events seem to be trying to keep us apart from our loved ones and any time we get to spend together is often rushed. This is why family holidays are so important; they are a time to switch off, forget the day-to-day and just spend quality time with the family. If you have a holiday cottage with enough space, it can be a great idea to make sure that it caters for families and at Sykes Cottages we’re happy to help our cottage owners do just that! 

We’re here to help

Rushmore Lodge in Kent. Reference: 16229

If you’re unsure of anything or want suggestions of how to make your property a little more family friendly, then don’t hesitate to ask your area manager or give us a call and speak to a member of our owner care department. We know what appeals to families and we’re more than happy to share that knowledge with you! Why not make life a little easier for new parents by having a cot, high chair and maybe even a baby monitor available? And if you want your property to attract families with toddlers then installing stair gates, rounding any sharp corners with cushions and not having anything dangerous within reach of curious hands will be really appreciated by parents. Parents of older children and young teenagers will really appreciate things that will keep them entertained such as trampolines or slides in the back garden or DVDs and books to provide entertainment no matter what the weather decides to do!

We categorise your property


Baby friendly, toddler friendly, child friendly and just all round family friendly; we have them as pages on our website. These are the first places that potential guests will look and your property will be included on all the pages that are relevant, making sure that your property is seen by those most likely to book it! Can you provide a cot? Then you’ll be on the baby friendly page; if you have stairs and provide a stair gate, then you’ll fit in just fine on the toddler friendly page; and if you have added little extras such as books, DVDs or other fun things to do then the child friendly page is where your property belongs.

Extended Family

Wonderful dining table perfect for a large family at The Hall in Middleton
Property reference: 903958

We understand that family does not just involve those living under the same roof, and often families who live in different parts of the UK like to holiday together. If you have the space and your property is in a convenient location that would appeal to multiple-household-holidaymakers, we will be more than happy to advise you of anything you may be unsure of when catering for these guests. Things such as how bedrooms would best be configured, how many guests can comfortably stay in the property and if there is enough parking for multiple cars are all things to think about to ensure that larger families have a brilliant time on holiday!

Don’t Forget Those Furry Family Members

Image via Flickr

To those of us who share our lives and homes with a four-legged friend, they really are members of the family who deserve a holiday just as much as us humans do. Whilst it is not possible for every property to be pet friendly, if you have the facilities where a dog will be safe it can be a fantastic idea to open up your cottage to furry family members. This will not only increase your bookings but will also ensure that your guests have a fantastic time, as they will not be worrying so much about their pooches being left behind in a kennel. We are more than happy to suggest ways for our owners to make their property appealing for pet owners, or you can take a look at our tips to making your holiday cottage pet friendly for a few important things to keep in mind!

We’d love you to join us

These are just some of the ways that Sykes Cottages can help you cater to the family holiday market and get those all-important bookings. If you have a property that you feel is family friendly and you want to join an award winning self catering booking agency, then take a look at our owners page or give us a call for more information.

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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.

How to Make a Holiday Cottage Pet Friendly

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014
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Are you trying to think of a way to get your bookings up? Why not consider making your holiday cottage pet friendly? After all we do live in a pet mad country! Back in 2012 ran a survey and found that 39% of pet owners like to take their animals away with them, and when you consider that around one quarter of households in the UK own a dog you can see how big the market we’re talking about is.  This is why here at Sykes we’ve produced a little list of things that you should consider when trying to pet proof your cottage, so take a look.

In the House

via. Flickr

via. Flickr

Firstly, make sure that any potentially toxic items are kept well out of reach. Things such as cleaning products are the main concern here so it might be best to keep them in a high cupboard well away from any overly curious canines or if they can’t be kept high enough it might be worthwhile putting some sort of lock on the door. Then there is also the issue of cables, to stop these from getting chewed you should tuck them away behind the appliances or even invest in some cable protectors that should deter even the most persistent of pets. Finally there is the issue of hair. This tends to be one of the biggest reservations about making a cottage available to people bringing their pets, however when dealt with properly it isn’t that much of a problem. Having said that it is definitely worth investing in a powerful vacuum to make sure you get it all up between stays, and if you make the vacuum available to them many pet owners will have a quick run around with the hoover.


via. Flickr

via. Flickr

The main concern with a garden at a holiday cottage is whether or not it is escape proof. Believe me, as the owner of a dog with Houdini-esque capabilities it is definitely worth your while to make sure that the garden is properly secure. The fencing should be high enough to prevent any larger animals from clearing it and you might even consider sinking it below ground level to deter any digs for freedom. You should also be careful about products that you use in the garden, things like weed killers and slug pellets often pose a risk to dogs and so should be avoided. One other thing to consider is the dog mess, guests will be especially grateful if you leave behind some waste bags and a little shovel for them to use to clear up after their pooches.

Little Touches

via. Flickr

via. Flickr

Then there are the little things that you can do which might make all the difference to the holiday goers. Some people invest in things like a food and water bowl for the cottage just in case the guests forget theirs. You could also leave some old towels in the property for drying off the pooch after those long walks, as it will help preserve the carpet and will cut down on the cleaning on changeover day. Or if you want to go the whole hog then you could even consider leaving a little canine welcome pack with some biscuits and maybe a couple of tennis balls which would definitely go down a treat.

Hopefully we’ve thought of a few things that might have slipped your mind but if you have any suggestions then we would love to hear them. Or if you want you can always take a look at our other pet friendly cottages to see if you can get a bit of inspiration there.


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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.

Sykes Special- Interview with a Cottage Owner Part 2

Friday, April 25th, 2014
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Today on the Sykes Cottages blog, we’re bringing you an interview with another of our fabulous cottages owners. After the success of our last post, in which we spoke to Stephen Bacon about his holiday cottages in Norfolk, we decided to continue our investigation into the background behind the cottages that we work with and get some insider tips on owning and letting out a holiday cottage from the experts. Today, Megan Graham, who owns a stunning romantic getaway in North Wales, has kindly agreed to talk to us.

Cottage owner and her dog

Megan and her dog, Ben

Thank you for setting aside some time for us! Tell us a bit about yourself, Megan.

I am 55 years old and 8 years ago, I purchased a converted woollen mill in North Wales. Since then, I have spent quite a lot of time (and money) renovating and extending my own cottage as well as converting my holiday let, Watermill Cottage. I have a Rough Collie dog called Ben and thoroughly enjoy taking him on long walks in the hills surrounding the cottage (when I am not working of course!) I am hoping that the holiday let will top up my pension when I retire.

How did you come to own the cottage?

It is located in the grounds of my own cottage, which is a converted woollen mill. Watermill Cottage originally housed part of the mill workings. It had become rather dilapidated over time and I converted it into living accommodation approximately 5 years ago.

Can you tell us a bit more about the area that the cottage is in?

It’s on the banks of the River Wheeler, just outside the village of Afonwen in North Wales. I really enjoy the wildlife, the peace and tranquillity of the area, and the range of walks just outside the front door; the Offa’s Dyke path is within easy walking distance. The cottage also comes with fishing rights and offers guests the opportunity to see badgers which is fascinating as many people have never seen them in their natural environment.

Cottage in North Wales

Megan’s property, Watermill Cottage

What features do you think make your cottage more marketable?

The underfloor heating is a fantastic addition and I always leave a welcome pack for my guests including a complimentary pint of milk and bottle of wine, together with tea, coffee, sugar and guest soap. The cottage also accepts 2 well-behaved dogs which makes it much more marketable to pet owners. There are extensive dog walking opportunities adjacent to the property, where dogs can exercise off their leads in safety. The surrounding area and fishing rights are also great selling points.

What is your favourite part of the property?

The views down to the river and the under floor heating! I am also hoping that the newly refurbished kitchen will be a great asset.

Do you get to spend a lot of time there?

I have never slept in it but I am always in and out of it as it is next door to my own home.

Have you ever had any visits from special guests that have ended in a rewarding experience?

A couple came for their honeymoon and said it was absolutely perfect for them. They really enjoyed the peace and quiet after a hectic wedding day. Another guest was writing a book and had been struggling to make progress, however she said sitting in the window of the cottage and at the picnic table overlooking the river had provided her with inspiration and she was able to write a few chapters during her stay.

Cottage bedroom

The bedroom at Watermill Cottage

Why did you decide to start renting out the cottage?

To supplement my income.

Do you have any advice for people thinking about renting out a holiday cottage?

Always ensure that the cottage is welcoming, spotlessly clean, warm and nicely furnished. I like to include a few extra personal touches such as a welcome pack, slow cooker, iron and ironing board, hair dryer, portable fan heater, OS Maps, walking books and places of interest in local area. Basically, I do my best to try to ensure that the accommodation is as close to hotel standards as possible.

How did you find out about Sykes?

Through my daughter as she is friendly with one of the managers.

How do you find working with Sykes?

They provide excellent service! Everyone is very helpful and accommodating and the joining process was very quick and simple. I also like that working with Sykes means that I don’t get pestered by time wasters!

We’d like to say a big thank you to Megan for taking the time to answer our questions. If you’d like more information about Watermill Cottage or if you want to book a holiday in this delightful property, please visit our website.

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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.