Finding out how to find the best UK vacation rentals puts some people off even trying to organize this great and economical way to visit the UK. The internet has made this kind of vacation easier to arrange than ever before - there are hundreds of websites that offer great rentals all over the place.
But that very number has also made finding the right vacation rental for you much more confusing. Where do you begin?
How do you know where to look? Can you trust photographs? How long will it take to find what you want? Can you book online? Should you book online? It's a minefield out there.
My Top UK Vacation Rentals on the Web
These are the best sources of UK vacation rentals - self-catering as European's call it - that I've found on the web. These websites offer a good range of well described and fairly priced properties with sites that are fast and easy to navigate as well as clear information about how to book.
- HomeAway.com is a huge listing site with more than 250,000 paid vacation rental home listings in 100 countries. Click on the map of Europe under the map of the Continental USA and you are on your way. Navigation is incredibly easy. There are separate overview pages for:
This company is definitely my favorite. The only downsides that I can see are that you cannot book online (though you can email owners) and the selection for Wales is not very strong.
- Under the Thatch specialises in character cottages in Wales. If you've always dreamed of staying in a remote fisherman's cottage, a thatched cottage, a converted, white-washed stone barn or a gypsy caravan on the edge of a beach, this is where to look. Accommodations are beautifully described, with plenty of large, good quality pictures, inside and out. Special or last minute deals are always listed.
The online booking facility provides information about price before you've entered any personal details. If I have any quibbles at all, it is that the availability page is a bit busy and probably a nightmare if you are color blind. Luckly, if you pick a date that is unavailable, a floating box appears to let you know.
- West Country Cottages offers cottages in Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Somerset and the New Forest. Once you pick a region, a simple menu allows you to choose different size ranges - cottages for 2/3, for 4, for 5 or more. Descriptions are thorough and pictures are large, bright and full of useful detail.
- Cottages4You is one of Europe's larger vacation home rental companies and, as such, the selection is usually enormous. Once you've selected a country, region and the number in your party, a list of cottages appears. Descriptions are straightforward and adequate and symbols used to describe facilities and features are not overly complicated. The downside is, all the information you need is not in one place. You have to click on items to allow pop-ups of pictures or further information to appear. The price and availability widget is clever though. The price changes automatically as you move your cursor across the calendar.
- Premier Cottages features luxury, 4 and 5 star vacation rentals throughout the UK and Ireland. Though not the cheapest cottages around, these are good value - especially when compared to hotel rates for equivalent standards. The site includes links to cottage owners' own websites and excellent pictures of well decorated rental cottages. Plus, you book directly through the cottage owners - so you can get information from people who really know their properties. This is one I really like.
- Quality Cottages is a family run business that features stunning cottages, vacation homes and apartments all over Wales. We tried one of their substantial, dog-friendly vacation homes near Harlech on the edge of Snowdonia National Park and were blown away by the quality of both the accommodation and service. Good information was provided in advance and a starter pack of groceries was waiting for us when we arrived. The website and a brochure you can request are packed with photos that give you a very good idea about what to expect.