Archive for the ‘Holiday Ideas’ Category

5 Easy London Escapes

Sunday, July 6th, 2014
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With a diverse culture, lots to do and plenty of opportunities, it is no surprise that London is bursting at the seams with tourists and locals alike. But every now and again it’s nice to escape the crowds, leave your oyster card at home and head a little further afield for some fresh air and a different scene.

If a London Escape is something you are thinking about, then you’ve come to the right place! We’ve created a nifty little guide pinpointing some of the fantastic places that you can head to when you want a little break away from the capital.

Whether you consider yourself a bit of a culture vulture, fancy a romantic break or just want to head away with the family, we have a few ideas for you. The best thing about these escapes is that they are each roughly two hours or less from The City of London and we’ve picked out a few things that you can get up to in each area. We’ve even given you an interesting fact about each of the destinations, so that you can impress your travelling companions with your knowledge!


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Five Easy London Escapes

London is a great place, but there comes a time when we all need to escape the daily grind. Travel just a few hours, and you can find a spot that’s perfect for beach lovers, foodies, romantics, culture vultures or families…

Oxford for culture vultures

59.8 miles from London with a 1 hour & 17 minute drive or a 58 minute train journey

See: The impressive Bodleian Library, which is one of the oldest in the world

Do: Wander the cobbled streets and marvel at the 38 colleges that make up one of the world’s most famous universities

Don’t miss: Christ Church College, the largest and grandest building in the university complex and location for the Harry Potter films

Did you know? The oldest form of graffiti on record can be spotted at the bottom of the stairs in the Great Hall at Christ Church, it says ‘no peel’ and there are different stories as to what it refers to

Whitstable for beach lovers

61.2 miles from London with a 1 hour & 16 minute drive or train journey

See: The Tankerton Slopes with their rolling hills and colourful beach huts provide a great vantage point overlooking the coast

Do: Take in the town by foot so you don’t miss the quirky cafes and independent shops dotted around the old high street

Don’t miss: The nautical artefacts and art of The Whitstable Museum and Gallery, which also hosts special exhibitions 6 times a year

Did you know? Oysters are synonymous with Whitstable and have been harvested in the town since Roman times

Brighton for foodies

53.7 miles from London with a 1 hour 30 drive or a 1 hour train journey

See: The Lanes, a maze of quaint cobbled streets littered with traditional pubs, independent cafes and top notch eateries

Do: Eat at Riddle and Finns- classic seafood dishes are brought to life at this Brighton culinary institution

Don’t miss: The Royal Pavilion, an incredibly ornate structure that looks as if it would be more at home in India

Did you know? Brighton and Hove’s food and drink festival occurs twice a year and is one of the largest of its kind in the UK

Bath for romantic breaks

115 miles from London with a 2 hour 6 minute drive or a 1 hour 27 minute train journey

See: A panoramic view of the city from atop Bath Abbey’s 160 foot tower, a Grade I listed building featuring no less than 212 steps

Do: Take in the architecture of Bath’s iconic Roman bathhouse and treat yourself to a dip in the natural hot spring water of the Thermae Bath Spa

Don’t miss: Jane Austen’s house and visitor centre, a charming memorial to the late novelist who set two of her novels in the city

Did you know?  Bath is the only whole UK city to be designated a world heritage site by UNESCO.

Stratford Upon Avon for families

109 miles from London with a 1 hour 46 minute drive or a 1 hour 59 minute train journey

See: The sciencey MAD Museum is brimming with odd contraptions, giving kids the chance to unleash their inner inventor

Do: Take the kids on the Stratford Treasure Trail; not only is it a great way to explore the city and get some exercise, but there’s also prizes to be won!

Don’t miss: A fun family workshop at the Royal Shakespeare Company; little ones can learn some of the bard’s famous lines before settling down to enjoy a show

Did you know? Shakespeare wrote 37 plays in his lifetime- an average of 1.5 a year!

Book your Escape

So if you’re looking for a short break from London, then what are you waiting for? Head over to the Sykes Cottages main page to browse our properties and book your getaway 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.

Sykes’ Spotlight On: Quirky Properties

Saturday, July 5th, 2014
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If you’ve ever wanted to sleep in a railway carriage, stay over in a chapel or snooze in a signal box then you’ve come to the right place. One of the biggest benefits about staying in a holiday cottage rather than a hotel is the huge amount of choice when it comes to the style of accommodation and at Sykes Cottages, we’re proud of our large variety of accommodation types. Whether you want a traditional cottage, a modern apartment or something a little out of the ordinary, we are bound to have something to suit you! Today we’re taking a look at some of our most unique and quirky properties that will make you think twice about staying in a standard double on the third floor again.

The Old Baptist Chapel

South Wales & Pembrokeshire

The Old Baptist Chapel, South Wales & Pembrokeshire

property reference 22484

Satisfying both modern tastes and those who like things a little more traditional is The Old Baptist Chapel in South Wales. The modern décor and furnishings of this property work well with its original features to provide both attractive and comfortable accommodation.

Brookbank Folly

Royal Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire

Brookbank Folly, hand built cottage Royal Forest of Dean

property reference 6733

Not only is Brookbank Folly located just on the edge of the Royal Forest of Dean, but it was also hand built using timber from the forest itself! Blending seamlessly into its surroundings and being full of character with exposed beams, wooden floors and stained glass windows, you would be forgiven for thinking that you were staying right in the thick of the forest.

Converted Railway Carriage

North York Moors & Coast

Converted Railway Carriage Self Catering Accommodation Near Whitby

property reference 3877

Forget the Orient Express! Perhaps one of the quirkiest and most unique properties in the Sykes family is the Converted Railway Carriage in Hawsker. Whilst the carriage has been refurbished to make comfortable accommodation for six, many of its original features have been left including first class seats, sliding windows and the shape of the carriage. The carriage is now static, but when sitting on one of these train seats and looking out of the window onto the beautiful countryside, you can almost imagine yourself going on a great adventure.

The Laggan Drey

Northern Highlands & Cairngorms National Park

The Laggan Drey, Self Catering Accommodation in Northern Highlands

property reference 1525

If you still have those childhood dreams of living in a treehouse then The Laggan Drey could be your answer. This timber cottage is located on the outskirts of Laggan and is built on stilts to give guests a stunning view of Ben Alder and Creag Meagaidh. The exposed beams and open plan living space give this property plenty of character and the outside space makes it feel as though you are secluded in your own treehouse world!

See More Quirky Cottages

Quirky Pinterest Board Sykes Cottages

head to our Quirky Cottages Pinterest board for more fantastically unique properties

We have far too many quirky and unusual properties to share them all in one blog post, so take a look at our quirky cottages pinterest board where you can see many more unique holiday cottages that are just a little out of the ordinary!

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.

Last Minute Breaks for July 2014

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014
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With the England team safely back in the UK and our hopes of World Cup victory long gone, our social calendar has been left wide open. Luckily the sun has decided to put in an appearance and help distract us from the remainder of the tournament, so why not make the most of the beautiful weather and book yourself a last minute holiday with Sykes Cottages? There are a number of spectacular events taking place throughout the UK over the next week which are sure to offer a distraction from the beautiful game. If you’re still not convinced then take a look at this selection of upcoming events and see if we can persuade you to pack your bags and book a last minute break in the UK.

Tour de France – Yorkshire

Holme Moss; Picture via Flickr.

Holme Moss; Picture via Flickr.

The worlds’ premier cycling competition is coming to Yorkshire this weekend and just like the World Cup, it will be impossible to miss. Passing through a number of towns including Leeds, Harrogate, York and Sheffield, the Tour de France promises to be a memorable event for all those involved. With a number of Yorkshire cottages still available within driving distance of the route, a trip to Yorkshire this weekend is a must for all cycling enthusiasts.

Bruce Festival – Dunfermline

Dunfermline Abbey: Via Flickr

Dunfermline Abbey: Picture via Flickr.

Take a step back in time at the 2014 Bruce Festival in Dunfermline, Scotland. This historic event will take place on July 12th and 13th as part of Scotland’s Homecoming celebrations and is expected to be one of the highlights in Scotland’s calendar. The 2014 programme is set to include jousting, medieval battles, falconry displays, medieval music and a historic puppet show. Suitable for the whole family, we would highly suggest a trip to Dunfermline next weekend.

Open Air Theatre – Chester

Historic City of Chester picture via Flickr.

Historic City of Chester picture via Flickr.

The Chester Grosvenor Park is setting itself up for one of the finest theatre performances this side of London. The only other theatre of its kind outside of the capital, the Grosvenor Park Theatre has gained a fantastic reputation for performance, display and fun. With a capacity of 400, the actors are always greeted with rapturous applause and a standing ovation from the crowd. If you’re visiting Chester this season then you’re in for a treat as the plays on offer are Macbeth, The Secret Garden and The Comedy of Errors.

Wakestock Festival – Abersoch

Abersoch Beach: Picture via Flickr.

Abersoch Beach: Picture via Flickr.

Wakestock festival began way back in the year 2000 with a wakeboarding contest during the day followed by an evening party in a car park with 500 people. Today Wakestock is a major music and wakeboarding festival which attracts over 20,000 people each year! Held in the beautiful surroundings of Cardigan Bay in North Wales this year’s festival takes places between July 11th and 13th. An excellent excuse to hit the beach, watch world class water sports and listen to some of Britain’s top artists Wakestock is a must for all UK party goers.

We hope this small selection of events has helped convince you to take a short break over the upcoming weeks and with over 500 cottages still available for last minute breaks we are sure to have a property to suite your needs. For more information on our last minute breaks please visit our cottage page or call our holiday specialists on 01244 356695.


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.

London Vs Everywhere Else

Friday, June 27th, 2014
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Recently, the chief executive of Visit England announced that London is overshadowing the rest of the country in terms of its popularity. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m as partial to a city break in the capital as the next man, but I couldn’t help but make a mental list of all the things that people are missing by not exploring other parts of England. So without further ado, here’s five reasons why you’d be mad to hang around in London when there’s a whole country to uncover!

What about the beaches?

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

From Dorset to Northumberland, the English coastline is a magnificent spectacle. For centuries, people have flocked to our shores in search of inspiration, adventure and above all, fun. Though London is situated on a pretty impressive river, it lacks the timeless quality of the coast. Overseas travellers will find a handful of glorious beaches within a couple of hours of the Big Smoke, including Brighton, Aldeburgh and Southend-on-Sea, but there are many more if you plan on travelling further afield.

Urban sprawl or serene countryside?

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Is there anything more charming than the English countryside? A place where cows graze in grassy paddocks, country lanes connect time forgotten villages and timber clad taverns provide a welcome pit stop for the weary traveller. Here in England, we’re blessed with some of the world’s most beautiful pockets of countryside, including the Lake District, the Cotswolds and the Peak District- and these are just the heavy hitters. Go off the beaten track in areas like the Yorkshire Dales, the Norfolk Broads, Northumberland and Dorset, and you can find a piece of a countryside that’ll leave you longing to quit the city for good.

Regional Food

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Although London has one of the most varied gastronomic palates in the world, it can be difficult to find regional English cuisine in the capital, especially if you’re not looking to pay through the nose to sample some. England is home to an endless supply of top nosh, the majority of which being exclusive to one region or another. In the south west, there’s the Cornish pasty, the Cream Tea and extra creamy ice cream; whilst in East Anglia, seafood reigns supreme. In the north east, Parmo, Pikelets, Stottie Cake and Yorkshire pudding provide plenty of sustenance; whilst in the north west, the Cumberland Sausage, Eccles Cake and Lancashire Hotpot are sure to fill you up.


Via Flickr

Via Flickr

It’s no secret, London is expensive. Hotels, food, drink, entertainment; it’s all considerably pricier in the capital- between 20%-50% dearer, to be exact. The cost of accommodation is particularly eye-watering, with the average price for a two night break in the city coming in at well over £200; compare that to a two night break in any other English city, and you might find yourself asking if it’s really worth it.

Peace and Quiet

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

One thing you certainly won’t find in London is peace and quiet. As one of the world’s biggest and busiest cities, it can be difficult to find a quiet corner amid the hub-bub, though they do exist. If you value your quiet time, opt for a daytrip or two to the capital instead of staying there. Kent, Essex and Cambridgeshire are on the city’s doorstep, and all have plenty of countryside for when you need to relax. Alternatively, if you’re looking for complete seclusion, try Northumberland, a large county in North East England whose population of 315,000 is but a pin drop compared to London’s 8.3 million.

London Vs Everywhere Else

Via Flickr

So there you have it, five reasons why you’d be barking mad to spend all of your time in London on a visit to the UK. Of course, London is a spectacular city, and certainly shouldn’t be missed, but if you’re planning a visit to England, be sure to spread your wings and embark on a road, train or bus trip to the nether regions of this fine country.

Alternatively, if you think I’m spouting nonsense and would prefer to stay firmly in the capital, check out our guide to things to see and do in London.

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.

Rent a Holiday Cottage with a Tennis Court

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014
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With Wimbledon now in full swing, the UK has been gripped by tennis fever once again! If the likes of Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams have inspired you to dust off your racket and head out to the tennis court, then why not check out some of our fantastic holiday cottages with tennis courts; the perfect place to practice your serve over the summer!

 Colly Cottage, Dorset

Holiday cottage in Dorset with tennis court

Colly Cottage, Dorset, Ref 16387

Colly Cottage is  a self-contained wing of a beautiful thatched cottage that dates back to 1780. Nestled in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in Dorset, just 1.5 miles from the charming market town of Bridport, Colly Cottage offers families and friends a relaxing holiday amongst stunning rural surroundings. There are many fantastic features to this Dorset holiday cottage including two bedrooms with en-suites and off-road parking. Colly Cottage also boasts access to the owner’s tennis court; the perfect countryside retreat for a spot of tennis on a sunny morning!

Hayloft, Yorkshire Dales

Holiday cottage in Yorkshire Dales with tennis court

Hayloft, Yorkshire Dales, Ref 22460

This superb self-catering apartment is set in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales, located within the grounds of a Grade II listed estate. Hayloft is the perfect retreat for loved-up couples who fancy getting away from it all and spending some quality time together in a tranquil, peaceful setting. The apartment has plenty of modern conveniences and luxurious, romantic features such as a king-size bed and free-standing bath tub. Sporty couples will enjoy the surrounding areas which boast unparalleled opportunities for walking and cycling and guests also have use of the owner’s hard tennis court within the picturesque grounds of the estate.

Greystead Old Church, Northumberland

Holiday cottage in Northumberland with tennis court

Greystead Old Church, Northumberland, Ref 23575

Greystead Old Church is a very special property in which to holiday. This superb holiday home has been lovingly converted from a nineteenth century, former Georgian church. Still containing many of the original features such as stained glass windows, exposed stonework and a Gothic archway, Greystead Old Church is steeped in history and makes for a truly memorable holiday. The charm and character of this property is cleverly balanced with contemporary and luxury fittings. With Greystead Old Church, you needn’t sacrifice character for modern conveniences and this property even comes with an all-weather tennis court and BBQ for you to enjoy.

Our holiday cottages with tennis courts

Holiday cottage with tennis court

Groom’s Rooms, Yorkshire Dales, Ref 22462

At Sykes Cottages, we have a fantastic collection of self-catering cottage with tennis courts, with properties across the UK and Ireland. If you’d like more information on our cottages with tennis facilities then please visit our website or give our reservations team a call. They’re available from 9.00am until 9.30pm, 7 days a week and will be more than happy to help you 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.