Owners In the course of a year, I probably visit over 100 vacation homes and cottages. Sometimes this is an annual inspection for rental cottages for my management agency; sometimes as part of my consultancy services to owners who are considering renting out their properties, and very occasionally it is in response to a complaint from a guest. Whatever the reason, I will always check the mattresses for comfort, cleanliness and general wear and tear.I used to feel uncomfortable doing that – as though it was just too personal, particularly with cottage owners who used their property themselves, and were just starting to think about renting out. Then I began to see a trend in feedback from rental guests, who invariably made a comment about the comfort of beds, whether they were satisfied or dissatisfied with their rental property. I also became concerned at the amount of owners who considered their cottage as a repository for cast-off and yard sale furniture as whatever they no longer considered usable at home went to the cottage.OK – that practice is fine…as long as you are not planning on asking people to pay for the privilege of staying in the cottage. Would you accept second rate accommodation if you stayed in a hotel? I doubt it. Neither should your guests.When I visit a property now, I'll test the mattresses thoroughly; look at the general age and condition of the bed frame, and put myself in the mind of a renter who has just arrived at the cottage looking forward to a great vacation. I think if you put a hidden camera in your cottage and watched people arrive, they would all do much the same as they looked in each bedroom – sit down on the bed and make a comment about how hard/soft/comfortable/squeaky the mattress is. What would they say about yours?Here’s a checklist to show when you need to buy a new set:The mattress is lumpy, bumpy, sagging or unevenThe mattress is 10 to 15 years oldIt makes noises, squeals like a pig, or sways when you lie downThere’s signs of wear, it’s torn, has stains or smells like mold or mildewRemember that putting a new mattress on an old foundation, pairing it with a foundation it wasn't designed to work with or adding a board between the mattress and foundation will affect comfort and reduce the useful life of your new mattress.Buying a new bed set doesn’t need to be expensive. You don’t have to get the top grade tempura-posture-paedic-throw- on- a- bowling- ball- type of mattress, however I’d suggest you pay as much attention to the comfort of your new cottage bed set as you would if you were buying a new one for home.If you are really not prepared to spend the money on replacing the beds, or just don’t feel it is necessary, think about purchasing a good quality memory foam mattress topper. This will cost considerably less than a new mattress and will extend the life of your bed set for several more years. This won't be effective if the mattress is past redemption.I would think about it in terms of how many additional days or weeks you would have to rent the property for the new bed to be paid for. A couple of weekends off-season perhaps? Then consider that advertising you have new beds can often attract interest in the property anyway. This upgrade may well pay for itself sooner than you think.Your guests deserve a good night’s sleep. They are paying for more than the privilege of using your waterfront and lazing on the dock, and will certainly let you know if they are not happy with the state and comfort of the beds.