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There are many reasons why holiday cottage owners should stay in their own self catering accommodation.

Unless you actually stay somewhere, sleep there, use the oven, turn on the TV, sit on the sofa, load the dishwasher it is impossible to know what it is really like from the guests point of view. 

What works?  What is uncomfortable?  Can you see things differently when sitting down?  Maybe an odd cobweb or two has escaped your view?  Are there cracked plates, chipped glasses, does the diswasher clean properly? Are the pillows comfortable or the duvets warm enough? 

We stay in our holiday cottages for at least two or three mid-week nights about every six to eight weeks, sometimes with friends or family, sometimes on our own and sometimes with our dog.  Each time it's a different experience and each time we find little things that we wouldn't pick up otherwise. 

Some of the jobs that we seem to do everytime we stay include: removing chipped glasses, plates, bowls and mugs, sharpening knives, putting back loose pages into the information folder, removing out of date information leaflets, replacing light bulbs, tidying the spare duvets and pillows, deleting recorded programmes from the Sky box and mending board games boxes.  All these jobs are small, but when you stay somewhere they are the annoying little things that make an impression. 

Unless you stay a night or two in your own holiday cottage, you just won't pick up on all of these things or more.   It is the attention to detail that shows that you really care.  You can only find out exactly what needs attention if you stay in the holiday cottage yourself.

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The only way to experience your holiday cottage from the guests point of view is to stay in it.  That's not the same as being there and checking it out, you do need to stay there. 

I've just come back from a few days at both Riverside House and Valley View holiday cottages in the Peak District.  And I've booked to stay there again in September.  Using up a few mid-week days doesn't cost me very much, but I get to find out a lot.

At Valley View I picked up that the velux black out blinds, which give a great nights sleep, were slightly out of kilter.  Once moved darkness was resumed.  I only saw that because I was lying in bed!

A few other little niggles like broken curtain hooks, a blunt snooker cue for the pool table, a wobbly kitchen door handle and teak oiling the outside bench were all dealt with over the few days.  Some things you just don't notice straight away.

At Riverside House the kindling was topped up (well it is the Peak District), the blunt scissors sharpened and pieces from the puzzles gathered together.  Whilst sitting enjoying the sun on the private patio we also noticed that a tree branch was overgrown and making too much shade, so we did some trimming too.

All these are little things, but add to the big picture.  These are things that the guest will experience and will notice.  They probably won't tell you, but unless you are living there, as a holiday cottage owner you won't pick up on these things.  

So holiday cottage owners, go and treat yourselves to a couple of days away and experience the break from the guests angle.  

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Are you planning on a holiday with a large group of friends or a large family group? 

It can be really difficult trying to find the right date, the best accommodation and where to stay.  

Here's some tips to make it just that bit easier!

Choose one person to act as group coordinator, preferably someone who has some time during the day or evening to deal with emails and phone calls within the group and with accommodation providers.

Next set the date and make sure everyone puts it in their diary or calendar.  For a large group you are going to need to plan far in advance, at least 6 months if not longer if you want school holiday dates (even up to one year in advance).   If you are planning for a special birthday or anniversary the date may not be flexible.  Even more reason to plan far in advance.

Now find which area you'd like to stay in, with a back up destination too.  Look at the map and where you all live.  Where is relatively easy for all the group to get to?  Do you need public transport links?   Do you want a rural break or town break? 

List the criteria for the accommodation: number of bedrooms, bathrooms, size of lounge, kitchen, are towels and bed linen required, do you need pet or child friendly accommodation, a garden, games room, wi fi, log fire or off street parking?  Do you want a pub nearby or local shops or do you want to be able to go on long walks from the door?  The list is seemingly endless so pick the top three to five criteria for your search as you probably won't find everything that you want.  

Now start looking for accommodation armed with your information.  Many of the large holiday cottage websites allow you to search by date, size of group, region and by pet friendly and child friendly criteria.  This will really narrow down the search.  Take a look at Owner's Direct and Holiday Lettings amongst the big ones, but also look for regional specific websites.  In the Peak District there's the Ashborne Accommodation website and Visit Tideswell, both run by local holiday cottage owners.

In the organic search engine listings you can also search for 'sleeps 9', 'sleeps 10' etc and the area or region too.  This will then bring up plenty of independent holiday cottage owners websites.

You will end up with a list of possibilities.  Start sending out emails to the owners direct or via the larger websites you can send a number of emails at once.  Key questions are size of accommodation, availability, pet, child friendly and of course price!

Let the group coordinator handle all this and draw up a short-list of three.  You may not have much time to decide as the large holiday cottages book up fast!  Give everyone in the group a deadline to respond and pick a favourite and a second and even third choice. 

Get the group coordinator to call the holiday cottage owner direct, speaking to them will answer so many of the questions you have and show that you are genuinely interested.  You will also get a chance to pick their brains about the area, where to eat, visit and what facilities the cottage has.

Be prepared to pay a deposit of 25% or more to book the holiday cottage.  The coordinator of the group can pay that up front and claim back from the group later.  Find out when the balance and breakages bond is required and let the group know when their share of the payment is needed.  Collect this in advance of the due date.

If you need help in organising a large group holiday, get in touch, we've been running large group holiday breaks in the Peak District for ten years: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


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The Peak District is often at its prettiest in the winter months.  With fewer visitors and the scenery dusted with frost or snow, there's never a bad time to visit.  Here are a few things you should consider before you book a winter break:


  • What is the heating situation at your accommodation?  Some holiday cottages charge for heating, gas or firewood.  Make sure you know before you go.  At Riverside House and Valley View holiday cottages we include all heating in our prices and we also include an unlimited free supply of logs and kindling for the log fires too. Ideal for a cosy winter break!
  • Is your car winter ready? If you're travelling some distance, make sure you have checked your tires, got a few spare blankets etc.
  • Do you have the right footwear for walking in the snow?  What about clothing - no one wants to be wet and soggy all day!
  • Check that the attractions you wish to visit are open out of season.
  • Don't forget that it gets dark a lot earlier in winter - make sure you plan your walks accordingly and don't find yourself lost in the dark. At both our holiday cottages we provide outside lighting and torches in the cottages for you to use.  


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Riverside House : BOOK NOW

Riverside House
   Sleeps up to 12

Valley View : BOOK NOW

Valley View
   Sleeps up to 15


Valley View

Fully booked now for weekends until June 2018.  

Ask us about mid-week break deals

Sleeps up to 15+ five dogs (£15 per pet) in 6 bedrooms

Riverside House

From Sat 14 April for up to four nights

Now reduced by £100! 

Sleeps 9 + 2 + 5 dogs (£15 per pet) in 4 bedrooms, plus huge games room!

Call 07980 390 520 or send an email:




  • spacious accommodation
  • 4-star standard
  • dog and pet-friendly
  • flexible booking
  • short breaks available
  • deal direct with the owner Wendy Boast
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Valley View

Valley View

Valley View is a self catering holiday cottage for up to 15 people in Milldale (right in Dovedale - within 100 yards of the River Dove) in the Peak District.

Click HERE for the Valley View web site.

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Riverside House

Riverside House

Riverside House is a self catering holiday cottage for up to 12 people in Litton Mill (close to Millers Dale and Tideswell) in the Peak District.

Click HERE for the Riverside House web site (complete with its own video).

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