Top destinations and tips for self-catering cottages

A home away from home wouldn't be complete without a kitchen. In country cottages up and down the UK, it's the cooking space that's the heart of the abode. It's where you'll gather to chat and mingle in the evenings, where you'll rustle up smorgasbords of local fare and where you might even get to enjoy stunning views unfolding just outside the window. If you're searching for self-catering cottages but are in need of some inspiration, this destination and booking guide should come in handy.

Finding self-catering cottages near the beach

Being right by the coast is something loads of escapees dream about. Not only does it mean an adventure on the dunes, waves and cliffs, but also having uber-fresh seafood – smoked Northumbrian kippers, Cornish mackerels, Devonshire john dory – to cook up in your very own kitchen.

Head to the coast of Devon

Devon's a coastal gem of the West Country and one of the most iconic surfing destinations in the whole of the UK. To catch some waves, you'll need to head to the north shore, which hosts the huge bay of Saunton Sands. If you're not fussed on hopping on the board, a blustery walk to see the craggy cliffs and seabirds of Baggy Point can be followed with a hearty, homecooked meal back at the cottage.

Dine by the sea in Cornwall

Padstow's harbour has some of the most acclaimed boutique fishmongers in Cornwall. Fresh cuts and shellfish come in off the trawlers each morning, which makes the town a mecca for budding Rick Steins. From there, it could be just a short walk back to the kitchen in your self-catering cottage to grill the mackerel or sauté the mullet.

A self-catering cottage in Wales

There's no shortage of self-catering holiday rentals in Wales that shoulder up above the coast. From the Gower to Pembrokeshire, they often spill out onto breathtaking and secluded beaches. Having your own place to cook in the evening means you won't have to worry about being close to restaurants and bars, so you can choose the far-flung homes that stud Wales's wilder shorelines, too.

Self-catering holiday cottages in national parks

Give yourself the freedom to explore some of the UK's most celebrated wildernesses by opting for a self-catering rental inside a national park. There are countless to pick from, cradled between green valleys, high peaks and rolling moors. Here are just 3 enticing destinations to consider.

Book a stay in the Lake District

The Lake District might just be the most iconic stretch of countryside that England has to offer. It's now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, thanks to its association with the Romantic movement and its glorious pikes and peaks. Being able to cook for yourself in these parts will mean you can rustle up breakfast and be the first on the hiking paths that weave their way to the top of Skiddaw and Helvellyn mountains.

Consider the Peak District

The Peak District spreads over several counties in the very heart of England. For weekenders looking for a taste of nature, it's a really accessible place to seek out self-catering cottages – Manchester, Liverpool and Sheffield are all nearby. With your own stove and dining room, you won't have to worry about finding somewhere close to Buxton or Bakewell for eating – anywhere near the tors, caves and dales will do.

Scotland's Cairngorms beckon adventurers

Do your initial shop at Aviemore, stocking up on haggis, neeps and tatties, before breaking out into the wilder reaches of the Cairngorms to enjoy total seclusion in the Scottish Highlands. Raw summits like Ben Macdui, lonely lochs and even a rare UK ski field beckon, right on the doorstep, in these parts.

Bagging self-catering cottages on a budget

Anyone watching the pennies and pounds will find plenty to like about self-catering cottages – cooking your own food can save loads on eating out while you're exploring. To try and reduce the cost of your stay even more, consider the 3 handy booking hints below.

Secure your self-catering holiday cottage early

Self-catering cottages remain one of the UK's most popular types of holiday home. They enamour everyone, from couples to families to solo travellers, which means that they can also sell out fast. Booking early means having the selection of the best-priced and top-rated homes before they get snapped up.

Forgo other luxuries

These days, it's possible to push the envelope with self-catering cottages, with many rentals packing in frills and luxuries. That could be anything from a private pool to a real-wood fire to an al fresco hot tub. And while these might sound tempting, they can also crank up the cost of your stay, so consider something a little more humble if the budget is tight.

Go off the beaten track

With the added freedom of your own kitchen, there's no reason why you have to stick to the tried-and-tested destinations. So long as you can drop by a local market or a supermarket on your way to the pad, you should be set. Cue a medley of more off-radar homes that come not only with lower price tags but also a higher degree of seclusion, quietude and privacy.