Cycling holidays don’t always have to be in tents, youth hostels or bed and breakfasts. Basing yourself in a Cottage can be a great way to see an area, and then come home to a place of relaxation.
One of the many new trends emerging as a result of the global economic downturn has been a shift away from luxury holidays in boutique hotels and a resurgence in family-friendly self-catering holidays. Rather than cutting out vacations altogether, many of us are rediscovering the pleasure of shifting the focus away from spending lots of money and towards spending time together as a family. Aside from the obvious cost-saving benefits of holidays in self-catering cottages, you will find that that intimacy and closeness that comes from spending a few days or weeks cooking, eating and exploring together, creates a really special atmosphere that you will find difficult to beat. Cottage holidays are an option both in the UK and abroad and you will find that by switching from a large hotel chain to a privately owned cottage you will be treated to a much more personalised service.
One of the most obvious benefits of a holiday in a self-catering cottage is the greater flexibility involved. Rather than presenting yourself for breakfast at the designated time, you are free to pack up some snacks and climb a hill for a picnic breakfast at sunrise or head out on a nature trail and enjoy a meal al fresco. Preparing your own meals is also a great way to get the children involved and learning about where the food they take for granted really comes from.
Why not make a day of it by coming up with a recipe together using local ingredients, head off to the local markets to buy the ingredients then return to your cottage in the evening to prepare the meal before sitting down together to eat and share stories about the day. Not only will everyone enjoy a great sense of achievement but sticking to locally sourced products is also much more environmentally friendly compared to indulging in exotic restaurant meals that often rack up a huge number of ‘food miles’ on the journey to your plate.
There are a wide variety of cottages to choose from, from cosy, romantic cottages in idyllic country settings to sprawling farmhouses with enough room for even large families to find quiet spaces for themselves. A cottage holiday is also a fun alternative for getting away with a group of friends and many cottage owners offer reduced rates for longer stays. This is an excellent option for an alternative stag or hen weekend for those that enjoy connecting with nature. If you book for a week and fill all the rooms then the cost per person is surprisingly low and you will find you really get to know each other much better when you are sitting around the fireplace in the evening than you would in a noisy bar.
That’s not to say that cottage holidays restrict you to staying in every night. There are many fabulous cottages in towns and close to public transport links so even those that don’t want to drive can easily explore the local entertainment options. One of the best things about holidaying in a cottage is that you will usually find yourself in a smaller town or village and so a trip to the local pub or café will expose you to the real local life and provide a much deeper insight into the local culture than would a city nightclub. You will usually find an evening in a small village pub to be full of surprises with impromptu live music, great story-tellers and snippets of local gossip to keep you entertained until the wee small hours.
On clear summer nights, a cottage with a garden is a wonderful place to relax and unwind. Why not get a barbecue going and share stories over a tasty meal and a few drinks as the sun goes down. Spend the day visiting farm shops and fill the car with tasty meats and vegetables then whip up a feast for your friends. By getting away from the bright city lights, you are also much more likely to see a fabulous alterative light show as the stars begin to sparkle overhead.
Many cottage owners like to leave a helpful booklet of local information in the cottage for you to peruse and often contain local walks and information about where to find, for example, shops, restaurants and petrol stations. These are a great source of inspiration and sitting around leafing through the local literature planning the next day’s trip is always great fun. Other thoughtful services you are likely to find during yourt cottage holiday include board games, radio or music player and often even a television and DVD player, so even if the weather turns bad you can be sure you won’t be bored.
All in all, a self-catering cottage holiday is a great way to relax and really spend some quality time with friends and family. Children will love the fun of preparing meals and looking after their home away from home and the opportunties to enjoy the great outdoors are virtually limitless.