Alternative Holiday Destinations in the UK

July 25th, 2015
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At this time of year, it can be hard to find a holiday in the location you want. The most popular destinations get booked up early on in the year and if you’ve had to leave it until the last minute, it can be frustrating when you can’t find what you’re looking for. Here at Sykes, we know everything there is to know about holidaying in the UK. If there isn’t an available holiday in the area you wanted, we’ll use our expert knowledge to provide you with some alternative options in an area that will match all of your holiday requirements but that you may not have previously considered. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Instead of Cornwall… try Dorset

Cornwall is one of the most popular holiday destinations in the UK but with popularity comes a shortage of last-minute options. We do still have some fantastic cottages in Cornwall with availability for this summer but if you can’t find what you’re looking for in Cornwall, have you thought about Dorset instead? Like Cornwall, Dorset also offers spectacular coastline (think Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove), sweeping countryside, charming villages and plenty of walking and cycling opportunities. There are family attractions aplenty here and there’s lots of history and heritage to discover. Don’t miss out on a fantastic holiday spot just because you weren’t as familiar with it as other South West destinations!

Instead of the Lake District… try the Eden Valley

We’ve all heard of the Lake District, but have you heard about Cumbria’s best kept secret, the Eden Valley? The Eden Valley is a real hidden gem, situated between the Lakes and the Yorkshire Dales. It has all the sweeping valleys, lush green countryside and characterful villages of the Lakes, as well as being located along Britain’s most scenic railway line, from Carlisle to Settle. Its quieter status means that you’re more likely to find some availability here and what’s more, the Eden Valley offers the best of both worlds as you’re still within driving distance of the Lakes if you had your heart set on venturing there.

Instead of the North Cotswolds… try the South Cotswolds

The Cotswolds are one of the most charming places in the country with picturesque, quintessentially English villages, quaint country pubs and bags of history. Most visitors to this area flock to the North Cotswolds, where you’ll find villages such as Broadway, Stow-on-the-Wold and Bourton-on-the-Water. However, last year, the Lonely Planet listed the South Cotswolds as one of the Top 50 ‘secret’ holiday destinations in Europe. The South Cotswolds are just as beautiful as the North and don’t come with the same level of tourist footfall, offering a slower pace of life and often a more authentic feel. Villages such as Castle Combe, Malmesbury and Lacock are perfect spots for a South Cotswolds holiday.

To see our full range of holiday cottages, please visit our website. We have over 5,500 fantastic self-catering cottages for you to choose from across the UK and Ireland and we’ll do our very best to find you the perfect holiday for your trip.

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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.

Best Child Friendly Museums in Scotland

July 22nd, 2015
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Now I know that the majority of schools have either broken up for the summer, or will be doing so in the next few days, but that doesn’t mean that the learning should stop. No, that doesn’t mean you should be holding lessons at home during the school holidays, instead why don’ t you try an educational (and fun!) day out? It’s much easier than you think, but to give you a bit of a hand in finding somewhere to go we’ve tracked down the best museums north of the border for the whole family.

The National Musuem of Scotland

National Museum of Scotland 1. 01-10-2014 Nikki

The National Museum of Scotland

Where else is there to start than with Scotland’s National Museum? Located on Chambers St right in the the middle of Edinburgh it’s a free entry museum that caters for all members of the family, especially the little ones! With a variety of galleries specifically for the kids they certainly won’t get bored on a trip round this museum as they find themselves excavating the skeleton of a dinosaur or getting kitted out ready for a dive down to the bottom of the ocean, amongst other great activities.

Kids are welcome throughout the museum, including in the Brasserie and Balcony Cafe, or if you’d rather take your own food you’re free to eat packed lunches within certain areas of the building.

The Glasgow Science Centre

Or, alternatively, there’s the Glasgow Science Centre. Part of a recent renovation to the Clyde Waterfront the centre features an IMAX cinema, the Glasgow Tower, and the main attraction, the Science Mall. With three storeys packed right up to the rafters with a wide variety of hands on, interactive exhibits designed to teach all about science, it’s the perfect place to spend an afternoon as a family. Whether it’s taking a trip to the planetarium, experiencing the baffling illusions of the mind works or exploring the fascinating bodyworks you’re bound to have fun.

You’ll also be able to find the Elements Cafe, offering an array of tasty treats that includes a light option for the kids containing a butty, drink, some fruit and a dessert, all for just £3.50!

Our Dynamic Earth

Again located in the heart of Edinburgh at the bottom of Hollyrood Road, Our Dynamic Earth is a museum like no other! Telling the tale of our planet, right from the big bang through to the present day it’s a fully immersive experiecne allowing you to feel the heat of a volcano or lose yourself in a tropical rainforest, and you’ll even have the chance to watch a film on Scotland’s only 360 degree dome theatre. And then there’s the Ocean Commotion soft play area, perfect for burning off any extra energy that the little ones might have.

Hopefully you’ll have found this useful, who knows, maybe you’re even planning a trip up to Scotland to try them out? If that’s the case make sure that you take a look at our selection of properties north of the Border so you have somewhere to rest your legs at the end of the day.

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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.

Safe Swimming in South Wales

July 21st, 2015
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On a hot summer’s day there is nothing better than escaping the uncomfortable heat by submerging yourself in cold, clear water. South Wales is one of the best locations in the UK for this with plenty of wild swimming spots available throughout the region. If you’re planning a trip to South Wales this year then why not try out one of the local swimming spots? The following areas are great for safe swimming and with plenty of space and beautiful scenery, you’re sure to enjoy a dip in these Welsh waters.

Broad Haven Beach

Broad Haven is a beach famed for its long stretch of sand and beautiful views across St Brides Bay but did you know that it’s also a fantastic place to take a dip? With shallow waters and a lifeguard on patrol between June 20th and September 6th, this is a wonderful location for a spot of safe swimming. Older children can spend their afternoons splashing about in the calm waters as the younger kids explore one of the many rock pools, leaving the adults free to relax on the sand and enjoy the fantastic Welsh scenery.

The River Usk

Located in the Brecon Beacons National Park, the River Usk is one of Wales’ most charming rivers with beautiful scenery, an abundance of wildlife and plenty of opportunities for wild swimming. Some of our favourite areas for safe swimming along the River Usk include the two secluded pools at Llangynidr, which offer a perfect escape from everyday life with their picturesque country setting and smooth, flat red rocks; and the island picnic site, just outside the town of Usk, which is great for those looking for a gentler pace with the waters running deep under the old railway bridge.

Barafundle Bay

Barafundle Bay could be Wales’ prettiest beach; with its crystal clear waters, golden sands, lovely dunes and captivating woodland, this stretch of coast is perfect for the holiday scrap book. Make your way over the dunes and down towards the water for a truly relaxing swim amongst the waves and if you’re feeling a little lonely why not bring Rover along? With dogs welcome on the beach all year round, this is the perfect area for safe swimming with the dog, just make sure your dog is comfortable in the water and a good swimmer!

The River Wye

Snaking its way through the British countryside for 215 kilometres and forming part of the border between Wales and England, the River Wye is the UK’s fifth longest river and as such offers many great areas for safe swimming. One of our favourite locations along the River Wye can be found in Pen-doll Rocks near Builth Wells in Powys. This exciting stretch of the River Wye laps through the rocky gorge before making its way downstream to the white sandy bays. The rocky cliff area is more suited to strong, experienced swimmers but the sandy bays are perfect for all skill sets.

If we’ve left you craving a holiday to South Wales where you can explore all these swim locations for yourself then why not check out our South Wales cottages? Full of character and charm, these properties are perfect for drying off and relaxing in front of the fire after a busy day swimming and exploring the local area.

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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.

5 Reasons to Vote for Sykes Cottages in the 2015 British Travel Awards

July 19th, 2015
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Emotions are running high here in the Sykes Cottages office as, for the third year in a row, we have been nominated for a British Travel Award! This year we will be fighting for the title of “Best UK Holiday Cottage/Self Catering Booking Company” and would love your support. To help convince you that Sykes Cottages deserve to take home this reputable award, here are just five of the many reasons you should click through and vote for us this year.

We’re an award-winning company


Not only have we won our category at the last two British Travel Awards but in this past year alone, Sykes Cottages have also been listed as one of the London Stock Exchange’s 1000 Companies to Inspire Britain and won a prestigious Travolution Award for “Best use of Search Engine Marketing”. We are extremely proud of our accomplishments here at Sykes Cottages, believing that each award shows the commitment we have to our staff, customers and property owners.

We provide a dedicated team of Holiday Advisors

Some of the Sykes Cottages team celebrating in 2013

Some of the Sykes Cottages team celebrating in 2013

Our Holiday Advisors are the friendly voice that greet you when you call up or email Sykes Cottages. Their expert knowledge of properties and great advice on UK and Irish destinations have seen them correctly match thousands of customers to their dream holiday cottage. So whether you contact us at 9am for a trip to Ireland or 9pm looking for a last minute getaway in the Cotswolds, our Holiday Advisors are on hand to help!

We’re highly rated on TripAdvisor

Trip Advisor 2014

For the past four years Sykes Cottages have received “Rated Excellent” awards from the review site TripAdvisor. With thousands of reviews across the site for Sykes Cottages, we pride ourselves on our high level “Excellent” reviews, in fact we are so proud of the feedback we receive, we’ve even added it to our own site with many properties displaying recent TripAdvisor reviews down the left-hand side of the page.

Over half of our cottages of pet friendly

Here at Sykes Cottages, we understand the need to have your dog by your side at all times and that’s why over half of our properties are advertised as pet friendly. These popular cottages have seen many happy visitors come and go with their four-legged friends, offering them a home from home as they explore the surrounding area with their pooch before returning to the cottage for a night cuddled up in front of the fire.

There are great prizes to be won

Spend your winnings on a trip to Little Thatch (reference 919506) in Dorset

Spend your winnings on a trip to Little Thatch (reference 919506) in Dorset

Not only is a vote for Sykes Cottages greatly appreciated from everyone who works here, but voting in the British Travel Awards also enters you into a prize draw to win some pretty amazing prizes. Some of the star prizes up for grabs this year include a 10 night Canary Islands cruise from Barcelona; a seven night tour of Prague, Budapest and Vienna; a seven night holiday for two people to Sharm El Sheikh and £500 worth of Sykes Cottages vouchers! For more information and to see all the prizes available simply visit the British Travel Award website.

We really hope this list of 5 reasons to vote for Sykes Cottages in the 2015 British Travel Awards has convinced you that we deserve this prestigious award. If you would like to vote for us then please click here and fill in the form today – thank you!

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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.

5 Last Minute Summer Holidays for Families

July 15th, 2015
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Decided to book a last minute summer holiday but not sure where to start? Below, we’ve listed five fantastic holiday cottages in the UK that still have availability in the school summer holidays; from Cornwall to the Lake District, these cottages lovely cottages are perfect for a family getaway. Act quickly though, as they’re sure to be snapped up soon!

12 Deva Terrace, Cheshire

Beautiful Georgian terraced property in Chester, overlooking the River Dee. Just a few minutes’ walk from the centre of Chester with its shops and restaurants, as well as family attractions including Chester Zoo, Blue Planet Aquarium and the Roman Dewa Experience.

Price: 7 nights in the summer holidays from £750. Sleeps 4.

Read more here: 12 Deva Terrace, Chester, Cheshire

Fairoak, Lake District

Victorian Lakeland terrace just 1.5 miles from Lake Windermere. Located at the heart of the popular Lake District town of Windermere, this pretty cottage is perfect for families looking for a getaway in the Lakes this summer, with spectacular scenery just a short drive away and fantastic family attractions on your doorstep.

Price: 7 nights in the summer holidays from £766. Sleeps 5.

Read more here:  Fairoak, Windermere, Lake District

Rose Cottage, Devon

Pretty holiday cottage on a non-working farm amongst tranquil, rolling countryside and meadows, yet not far from the Devon coastline. Rose Cottage is lovely and cosy; perfect for relaxing after a day on the beach! There’s a private, sun-trap garden boasting spectacular sea views and the property also offers direct access to a footpath leading to Hallsands beach and the South West Coast Path.

Price: 7 nights in the summer holidays from £842. Sleeps 4.

Read more here: Rose Cottage, Hallsands, Devon

The Station Flat, Cornwall

Wonderfully unique holiday apartment situated above the ticket office alongside the Lappa Valley Steam Railway, just 4.5 miles from the popular holiday destination of Newquay. Guests at The Station Flat can enjoy all the on-site facilities at at the Lappa Valley Steam Railway -a fantastic family day out- including steam train rides, canoeing and miniature golf.

Price: 7 nights in the summer holidays from £787. Sleeps 4.

Read more here: The Station Flat, St Newlyn East, Cornwall

St Edmunds, Norfolk

Located just 150 yards from the beach in the seaside town of Mundesley, St Edmunds is a brilliant choice for a coastal family holiday. The property is modern, bright and airy with plenty of room for everyone, and with its beautiful sandy beach and colourful beach huts, Mundesley makes for a traditional seaside holiday on the Norfolk coastline.

Price: 7 nights in the summer holidays from £1185. Sleeps 8.

Read more here: St Edmunds, Mundesley, Norfolk

If you want to see our full list of holiday cottages still available for the school summer holidays, you can do so by visiting our website or by giving our team of holiday advisors a call on 01244 356 695.

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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.