It’s Just a Cottage!

old_lawnchairs I've heard the expression, ‘it's just a cottage', too many times. Used to make excuses for tired and mis-matched furniture, saggy mattresses, ancient appliances and 70's décor, it's a cop out. Having ‘just a cottage' is absolutely fine… unless it is being rented out.

Some friends of mine were over from UK last week. They'd booked a cottage through a private listing because the price and location were right and they liked the look of the waterfront. In general they had a good time, but commented that the place was ‘tired', ‘had seen better days', and was in need of updating. Some of the appliances were not working properly; the barbecue was very old and in need of repair, and the bed was very uncomfortable.

My friend is a travel consultant, and this is the impression of cottage rental in Ontario he is taking back to the UK and passing on to his clients.

I spoke to an owner of another cottage yesterday, who told me people expect too much from cottage rental. She said they should enjoy the rustic nature of the experience and not complain about the old furniture and rusted appliances that are “part of the experience”. I completely disagree.

Yes, expectations are rising and can be unrealistic occasionally. However, there are basic standards that we, as cottage owners, should all aspire to reaching and exceeding. It doesn't matter whether the cottage is rented for $600 or $4000 a week – the core standards should be met.

Let's treat our guests with respect and provide them with clean, attractive and comfortable accommodation they will talk about positively when they get home.

This may be the end of my rant this morning, but it is an area I feel passionate about. I'd love to hear from any of my readers who feel the same.

Photo by Ann Douglas

Jennifer Jilks

I have mixed feelings about this one! I think your blog entry around Honesty: http://vacationrentalformula.com/adding-value/honesty-can-bring-more-rental-guests-honest is a good example of this concept. There is a difference between ‘rustic’ and rusty, however.

Beds need to be good. Lord knows we slept on beds made before I was born. My parents wouldn’t let us change a thing in the cottage. My husband called it a shrine to 1962, when it was built and then furnished using 2nd hand items then. Since then you have to ensure that things are in working order.

I heard of someone using a washing machine that was 30 years old, but it functions well as it is an orginal design, with mechanical systems that were designed to last.

Heather Bayer

I agree to a certain extent. There is nothing wrong with ‘rustic’ providing it is clean and comfortable and is not advertised as anything else, and the photographs clearly indicate the decor and furnishings are from another era. However, there are many new renters who have never experienced the type of cottage our parents cherished and we loved as children. Their expectations are based on the Florida villas and sanitised hotel rooms they have experienced on packaged vacations. I’m not suggesting we offer this type of accommodation but as owners we need to be fully aware of these expecations and anticipate the feedback that will come when these are not met.

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