Discover the perfect cottage
Searching for the right cottage for you and your travel group? There are rentals of all shapes, sizes and styles to pick from, whether diminutive shacks for 2 or sprawling manors in the English countryside. Then there's the sheer wealth of enticing destinations you could explore, starting with the green dales of Old Blighty and stretching out to the coast of France, Italy and beyond. These guides to all things cottages are here to help when it's time to book.
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There's something truly enticing about a cottage by the sea. Whether you find it perched on the Welsh cliffs above the dolphin-filled bays of Pembrokeshire or by the buzzing resort towns of north Norfolk, you can guarantee a blast of fresh salt breezes and a chance to leave your footprints in the sand.
Among England's most iconic natural reserves are the Peak District and the Lake District. One covers vast swathes of Derbyshire in the very heart of the country, offering pastoral dales and little farming communities, deep caves and intriguing UNESCO sites from the Victorian milling era. The other is home to glistening Lake Windermere and hearty Ambleside, where a cottage stay can either be about scrambling up Scafell Pike and Skiddaw or unravelling the rich history of Romantic poetry in the heritage museums.
Turn that next getaway to nature into something special by homing in on luxury cottages. You'll still get all the joys of an escape to the country, only with added creature comforts and frills. Houses in this category tend to be the cream of the cottage crop, offering things like bubbling hot tubs – often with a view – and even private swimming pools. They might also have a touch of local heritage worked into their design – a face of honey-coloured Cotswold stone here, a slate-topped Welsh roof there.
The counties of Cornwall and Devon are a real treat when it comes to cottage escapes. Not only are they brimming with farm conversions and old fisher's huts, but they also pack in loads of loveable towns and villages. Take Padstow, which hosts crooked terraces from centuries gone by near its seafood bistros and pasty-scented harbour. Consider Salcombe, a mecca for yacht sailors and boating clubs by the English Channel. Or, look to the rentals of Woolacombe, which put roaring surf swells and windy headland walks on the doorstep.
There's no reason why the pup can't tag along for the journey, what with so many cottages now offering a place for the pooch. Features like enclosed gardens and dog-proof gates are what pet owners will look out for. Then, it's just a case of picking somewhere with plenty of off-leash opportunities in the vicinity, like the wide sands of north Devon or the undulating fields of the Northumberland National Park or the rocky trekking trails of the Scottish Great Glen – the list goes on.
Wales proves time and time again to be an immersive and amazing place for a cottage stay. Its southern reaches are taken by pristine beaches, which run along between the oak woods of the Gower Peninsular to uncover windswept surf bays like Llangennith. The west is the province of Pembrokeshire, with its 186-mile coastal walking path connecting all sorts of holiday homes in pretty St David's and pastel-painted Tenby. Meanwhile, the north tends to attract the adventurers. It's spiked by mighty Snowdon mountain but also has the wave-washed beaches and crumbly castles of Anglesey and Conwy to boot.
Looking to explore beyond the holiday cottages of the UK? A hop across the English Channel can reveal the stone-built longhouses of Brittany and traditional Normandy cottages, putting mysterious UNESCO-tagged monasteries like Mont-Saint-Michel and the immersive story of 1066 on the menu. Venture even further and you could come to French cottages between the rising peaks and glinting beaches of the Cote d'Azur. Alternatively, the enigmatic Emerald Isle heralds cottages in Ireland near the bucket-list Ring of Kerry and the foot-stomping pubs of Dublin.
No matter if you're searching for a remote cottage in the depths of the Scottish Highlands or a romantic bolthole for 2 in the pastoral reaches of the Cotswolds, you're bound to find that these sorts of homes away from home can cater to a really wide variety of sorts of trips. Some can be bagged last minute for those spontaneous weekend jaunts up Scafell Pike, while others are primed for larger groups, touting hot tubs, country kitchens, big gardens and even space for the pooch.