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National Parks of the UK – Part 1

From the Cairngorms in Scotland to Dartmoor in Devon, the UK is home to some of the most beautiful National Parks in the world.

Whether you want to go hiking in the hills or just admire the extraordinary landscape, our quick guide on what to do and where to stay is a great place to start planning your National Park holiday.

Dartmoor, Devon

Luxury Boutique Cottage, Devon - Moorland View, Home 282091

Picture from Luxury Boutique Cottage, Devon – Moorland View, Home 282091

What to see

The dramatic views of heather-covered moors and grand granite tors are breathtakingly beautiful. The landscape is varied and with 450 miles of paths, tracks and open moorland to explore, walkers of all abilities will feel catered for here.

What to do

If the weather’s not on your side, board the steam train that runs between Buckfastleigh and Totnes where you’ll be able to enjoy panoramic views of the River Dart. When the sun’s shining, explore an ancient castle or atmospheric abbey before stopping at a café for that must-have Devonshire cream tea.

Where to stay

This pretty cottage in Widecombe in the Moor is in the heart of Dartmoor and perfect for couples looking for a romantic break. Large groups and families will be surrounded by wildlife when they stay at this 19th-century farmhouse in Tavistock.

See all holiday rentals in Dartmoor National Park.

 

Brecon Beacons, Wales

Acre Brecon, Home 660634

Picture from Acre Brecon, Home 660634

What to see

Lush green glades, sparkling waterfalls and magical caves make a visit to the Brecon Beacons feel like you’ve stepped into a fairy-tale. The striking Black Mountains on the horizon add to its other-worldly feel.

What to do

If you’re feeling adventurous, the Brecon Beacons boasts over 600 miles of bridle paths and tracks so it’s perfect for pony trekking and horse riding. Take some binoculars with you to get a good look at the Red Kites along the way; these magnificent birds of prey are now common in the region. For a little light refreshment, enjoy a freshly made scone at one of the pretty farmhouse cafés in the area.

Where to stay

This cosy cottage in Crickhowell with views of the Usk Valley is just a 10 minute walk from the local pub. If you want to stay in Brecon itself, how about this spacious bungalow with panoramic views of the Black Mountains and free fishing available at the farm?

Take a look at more places to stay in the Brecon Beacons.

 

Cairngorms, Scotland

Picture from Heath Cottage, Home 248069

Picture from Heath Cottage, Home 248069

What to see

The Cairngorms National Park is Britain’s highest and largest mountain range. Its vast, wild landscape leaves its visitors with a sense of awe. The mighty snow-capped mountains and mysterious lochs are truly inspiring.

What to do

Amazingly, 25% of the UK’s endangered species can be found in the Cairngorms so wildlife enthusiasts will be in their element. You can take an organised tour but you’re likely to spot red squirrels in the woodland, ospreys fishing in the lochs and, If you’re very lucky, you might even get a glimpse of a Scottish wildcat. And of course, skiing is great activity to enjoy in the winter months.

Where to stay

If you’re looking for a rural retreat but don’t want to be without your mod cons, this charming cottage in Moray is complete with luxuries such as a woodburner and wi-fi.  Families will love this cottage in Newtonmore that has a fantastic dining room and kitchen for family evening meals and beautiful views of the Scottish countryside.

Browse more holiday homes in the Cairngorms National Park.

 

The Peak District, Derbyshire

Picture from Farm View Cottage Cosy 17th Century Cottage for 2, Home 569494

Picture from Farm View Cottage Cosy 17th Century Cottage for 2, Home 569494

What to see

The Peak District is one of the UK’s most popular National Parks and it’s easy to understand why. The rolling hills and craggy landscape is romantically beautiful, and it’s packed full of pretty villages just waiting to be explored.

What to do

A great way to get around the Peak District is by hiring a bike and following one of the many cycle trails. There are some fantastic walking tours too which can be booked through the local tourist information centre. If you’re a fan of Pride and Prejudice, then be sure to visit Chatsworth House, the setting for Darcy’s Pemberley. And if you’re feeling peckish, stop off in Bakewell to sample the famous Bakewell Pudding.

Where to stay

Set in 130 acres of private grounds, this cottage in Biggin-by-Hartington has its own private tennis courts and is just a short walk from the local village pub. Ever fancied staying in a converted water mill? Now is your chance: this mill apartment near Tideswell in the heart of the Peak District has picturesque riverside views.

See more holiday rentals in the Peak District.

 

The Broads, Norfolk and Suffolk

Tide & Time, Home 372633

Tide & Time, Home 372633

 What to see

As Britain’s largest protected wetland and third largest inland waterway, the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads is a haven for wildlife and some of the UK’s rarest breeds can be spotted there. Nestled among the woodland, waterways and fens, you’ll find historic landmarks and idyllic villages.

What to do

Renowned for its biodiversity, the Broads is the perfect place for nature lovers and there are plenty of opportunities to see elusive species such as the marsh harrier and even the rare Norfolk hawker dragonfly. If you can drag yourself away from wildlife-watching, pack up a picnic and take to the water for a relaxing day out on a hired boat.

Where to stay

For peace and quiet, stay at this converted stable in Lowestoft with the sandy beach just two miles away. And for a truly unique experience, this windmill dating back to the 1700s will really put the wind in your sails.

Find your favourite holiday home in the Suffolk or Norfolk Broads

Free photo shoots available – limited offer

Some holiday homes are eligible for a free photo shoot to help them attract more bookings. Owners who’ve already taken us up on this offer are receiving a massive 90% lift in enquiries on average.

Do I qualify for the free photo shoot?

If there’s a photographer available in your area you’ll receive an email inviting you to take up the offer. Keep an eye on your inbox and respond quickly to secure your slot.

Unfortunately we have a limited number of photographers with very tight schedules, so are unable to offer the photo shoot to everyone.

What happens next?

Once you’ve secured your slot, we’ll arrange a date and time that’s convenient for you for the photographer to come and visit your property.

Your new professional photos will be uploaded to your advert and a Visited by Holiday Lettings badge will go on your listing, encouraging more guests to book.

Want to find out more? Read our FAQ

Spot the difference

See how our photographers put a new dazzling new shine on these holiday homes.

Before the photo shoot                                          After the shoot: there’s much more                                                                                                         light on the living space at Brooks House.

Living room (before)

 

Before the photo shoot                                       After the shoot: Apartment Vila Sol Village looks                                                                                     set for a good night’s sleep.

Master bedroom (before)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before the photo shoot                                             After the shoot: a fresh perspective on the                                                                                               kitchen at 107 Royal Mile.

 

 

 

 

 

Before the photo shoot                                              After the shoot: Villa No. 27 is captured in a                                                                                             whole new light.

 

 

 

 

 

 

7 top tips from a professional

You can get your photos looking pristine even if you’re not in line for a free photo shoot. Read Mike’s top photography tips – he’s a professional photographer who runs his own holiday home in Spain.

If you’d like to find out more about getting a free photo shoot (subject to availability), please contact us: iwantphotos@holidaylettings.co.uk

From hot tubs to high chairs – how to find your dream holiday home

Whether you’re looking for a pet friendly pad, a camper van for adventurous types or a spacious villa for all the family, there really is something for everyone on Holiday Lettings – it’s just a matter of looking for it. That’s where our search filters come in. You’ll find them at the top of the search results.

Here’s how to use the filters to find the perfect place.

  • Where do you want to go? Use the drop down menus to select the country, region or town. If you’re not sure about where you want to stay, try using the map view. For example, you might not mind about which town you’re in as long as you’re near to specific attractions, such as the beach, so the map view comes in handy here.
  • When do you want to stay? Choose your arrival and departure dates if you’ve got a specific time in mind. If you’re flexible about when you want to go, leave this section blank (same goes for the other sections).
  • What size home are you looking for? Choose the size of property you’re looking for – either by the number of bedrooms or by the number of guests it sleeps.
  • How much do you want to spend? You can select your budget by typing the amount in the boxes or using the slider. Don’t forget to consider your travel costs when planning your holiday.
  • What type of place are you looking for? Maybe you’ve got your heart set on a cosy cottage or perhaps you’re picturing yourself in a grand château? You’ll find all sorts of different property types to choose from.
  • What do you want to do on holiday? If you’re looking for a specific activity, such as fishing or horse riding, you can select it from the dropdown menu to find all of the homes with that activity nearby. Read the listings to find out more about the activities on offer.

 

  • Who does the home need to be suitable for? If you’re looking for a place that’s been wheelchair friendly or has access for restricted mobility, you can use the dropdown menu to specify. Want to stay somewhere that welcomes pets? You can select this option from here too.
  • What facilities do you need? If you’ve got toddlers in tow, maybe you need a place with a high chair? Or perhaps you have a tribe of restless teenagers who’d love a games room.

You can order the properties by price, or even browse through them in map view or photo view.

Once you’ve found what you’re looking for, keep an eye out for the green Bookable online banner – this means you can book and pay online.

If you can’t see the banner, simply send the owner an enquiry. We recommend contacting 5-10 properties in case your first choice is not available.

See our help section about how to make a booking and how to pay for your stay for more info.

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Still booking hotels for your holidays? It’s time for a change

Top 20 lifestyle bloggers of 2015

lifestyleHave you ever wondered if there are ways that you could enhance your lifestyle? Whether you want to live more healthily or simply revamp your wardrobe, there are handy hints galore from our top 20 lifestyle bloggers.

Tigerlilly Quinn

From folksy fabrics to upcycled furniture, Fritha Strickland offers ideas to suit all fans of vintage design. She might even motivate you to knock that wall down. You can also read about Fritha’s well-deserved breaks, whether it’s a family expedition to Paris or a girls’ weekend in London. @Tigerlillyquinn

Mari’s World

This is an excellent how-to guide on managing a busy lifestyle. What should you plant in the veggie patch? And how do you entertain the kids at half term? It’s also full of terrific travel ideas like hiking the Gruffalo Trail and honeymooning on the Amalfi Coast. @Maris_world

Lizventures

“Experiencing new adventures is one of my greatest joys,” says Liz Mays. It’s well worth checking out her restaurant reviews if you’re looking for somewhere different to eat. And, once you’ve read her review, you won’t be able to resist investigating the Bodie Island Lighthouse either. @blueviolet

Jasmin Charlotte

It’d definitely be tough to beat Jasmin’s hectic schedule last year. She moved from New Zealand to London and set out to explore Europe. In 2014 she headed off on holiday an impressive 11 times, with destinations ranging from historic Cambridge to gorgeous Monaco. Watch this space for updates during 2015. @jasxcharlotte

Life in a Break Down

In Life in a Break Down, Sarah Bailey puts health problems behind her and thinks about the fun things in life. Fashionistas will appreciate her reviews of cosmetics and jewellery. There are also useful posts on handy travel hacks and how holidays can refresh relationships. @Life_BreakDown

Pouting In Heels

Katie Portman describes herself as an ordinary person trying to build an extraordinary life. Her writing focuses on how she aims for the perfect work-life balance. She urges other women to be happier and aim higher too. Highlights include inspirational quotes, spending quality time with her daughter at the Yorkshire Wildlife Park (and choosing killer heels). @KateLPortman

Belle du Brighton

Resident blogger, Lauren, offers insights into buzzing Brighton that will soon have you racing to the seaside. When you’ve explored the city, you can find out about her holidays too. She explains how to explore when you’re pregnant and gives tips on wandering through the souks of Marrakesh. @BelleduBrighton

Hungry Healthy Happy

Meet Dannii Martin, your guide to losing seven stone and keeping it off. Her blog chronicles how she got fit and shows how you can too, from dealing with emotional eating to rustling up creamy avocado pasta. Now she’s healthier, she travels more and, in fact, just got back from Jamaica – Caribbean Spiced Chicken anyone? @HHH_Dannii

Amy Antoinette

Follow Amy and family as they migrate from the UK to a build a new life in the USA. Her blog covers long-haul flights with an energetic toddler and key differences between the UK and America. This makes it a great read for anybody who has ever wanted a fresh start but hasn’t got the ticket – yet. @amyantoinette

coco+kelley

Super-chic coco+kelley adds effortless elegance to food and furnishings. Its founder, Cassandra Lavalle, also blogs about her jaunts: like a romantic getaway in Quincy, Washington and a stay in Sydney. There are lovely images of her sister’s sun-baked trip to Mexico to peruse as well. @casslavalle

Zena’s Suitcase

Have you struggled to control a tricky toddler or sulky teenager when you’re out and about? Help’s at hand with Zena’s Suitcase. Zena, mum of three, explains how your children can enjoy festivals and – almost – ensure a tantrum-free train journey. @zenas_suitcase

Kath Eats

Nutritionist, Kath Younger, serves up delicious slices of life in her blog. Featuring odes to oatmeal and activities from hiking routes to festivals in her native Charlottesville, there’s something for everyone. She also reports on her trips away – so log on for pics of California’s rolling Wine Country and the Dominican Republic’s stunning beaches. @KathEats

Cherished By Me

Welcome to the world of Nova, mother of five children, aged from 7 to 20. “We love travelling” she writes, “and spend quite a bit of time exploring London.” They also recently sampled the treats at Walt Disney World’s restaurants: the photos of the pistachio and cherry trifle will make your mouth water. @cherishedbyme

I Want You To Know

Getting to know London couldn’t be easier than with Kristabel. She knows all the best restaurants and can give you the gen on the coolest shops in Hackney. She also discusses her other outings. So whether you’re planning to tour Cornwall or Cambodia, read on. @fashionknitsta

HiFashion

Girl-about-town Sherin loves fashion; she uses going away as an unmissable opportunity to shop and model new outfits. Photos and details of what she wears then appear on her blog. So if you don’t know what to take on your next escape then you may just find some inspiration here. @HiFashionSherin

Green Mama’s Pad

If you’ve ever wondered how to live both stylishly and greenly, look no further than this site . It’s all about engaging with the great outdoors. Fancy seeing the rich foliage of New England? Or taking in the tropical rainforests of Hawaii? The only difficulty is picking which of the places she has recommended to visit first. @GreenMamasPad

Sisterly Style

Sister act, Amelia and Elisa, are on a mission to make every day a stylish experience. As the perfect personal shoppers, they can sort Palm Beach wardrobe dilemmas and oversee photo shoots in Lima. Their articles, in both English and Spanish, are brilliant excuses for a shopping spree – see you on Rodeo Drive! @SisterlyStyle

Lux Life

Catherine Lux’s blog is a lavish blend of high-end travel, fashion, events and restaurants. You can discover what its like to attend opulent balls and hang out at trendy parties. Then drop anchor in the Greek islands or jet off to Cuba. It’s the ultimate in vicarious living. @luxlifeblog

Little Miss Katy

When you’re having a bad week, Katy English’s Happy Monday pieces might just cheer you up. They list the best things that have happened to her in the last few days, from sipping white hot chocolate to winning the pub quiz. She also researches places like Turkey that she will see one day and features them on her website. @MissKatyEnglish

Hamptons to Hollywood

If you’re heading to either Long Island or LA, then get the goss from Hamptons to Hollywood. It really captures the atmosphere of these special spots. From nights out at glam Skybar to hangover-curing brunches for the next day, this blog helps you to live like a local. @KyJoLang

 

Badge-for-top-lifestyle-bloggers

Is your holiday home pet friendly?

dogIf your holiday home is in a rural or coastal area with plenty of walking opportunities, or if you simply want to reach out to a wider market of potential guests, then it’s well worth thinking about accepting pets at your holiday home.

All pet cats, dogs and ferrets can enter or re-enter the UK from any country in the world without quarantine provided they meet the rules of the PETS scheme. See the gov.uk website for details of the scheme.

But before you market your holiday home as pet friendly, read about the benefits and the ways you can prepare your property for four-legged friends.

What are the benefits of accepting pets?

  • You’ll be reaching out to a larger market so you’re likely to increase your number of bookings. According to a poll by travelsupermarket.com, two in five Britons now take their pets on holiday.
  • Less hassle than you think. It’s normal practice to charge £10-£20 per pet to cover additional cleaning and the provision of food/water bowls, etc. Find out more about adding extra fees to your standard prices.

Common worries and how to overcome them

  • Odours. If you ensure your home is well aired and provide a good quality vacuum cleaner and air fresheners, any odours will be reduced.
  • Hair. Pets will shed hair in your holiday home – another reason to invest in a powerful vacuum cleaner, but also an incentive for you to determine house rules and request pets are kept off soft furnishings. Leave the vacuum cleaner in your holiday home so guests can hoover up as they go along.
  • Damage. Request that guests never leave dogs alone in your home and that they keep a close eye on them. Make sure that any fragile items are removed beforehand.
  • Fleas. The vast majority of responsible pet owners keep their pets free of fleas at all times. However, even with the best intentions it’s possible that a pet could pick up fleas while at the beach or just out and about. Have some flea spray on hand at your home and leave a note to say where it is. Check your home when airing it between guests – you can even ask people to flea treat their animals before staying.

Is my holiday home suitable for pets? Ask yourself:

  • If your holiday home is in a resort/complex, do the community rules allow pets on site?
  • Is there enough indoor space? Is there enough room in the kitchen/living room for a dog to lie  down and for guests to still walk around easily?
  • Are the bedrooms and living areas separate? It will be difficult to make sure dogs are kept off beds if you have a studio apartment.
  • Have you considered putting a stair gate in to prevent dogs from going upstairs? This would also be helpful if guests want to restrict pets to certain areas of the house while children or babies are playing on the floor.
  • Are you happy to remove any expensive/fragile furnishings?
  • Does your home have a secure, enclosed garden? Are there holes in hedges or fences where animals could escape? This is particularly important if the holiday home leads straight out onto a busy road or a field of livestock.

Finishing touches:

  • A doggie welcome pack. You could include some treats, a new hide bone and some tennis balls for a game of fetch.
  • Separate water and food bowls.
  • Waste bags for owners to clean up after their dogs. A shovel and a separate bin in the garden will also be appreciated.
  • Some old towels to protect carpets when dogs come in from a muddy walk.

 

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7 types of successful holiday home owner

Shot of a young man working on a laptop at homeWe’ve been working with holiday home owners and property managers worldwide for over 15 years, so we’ve learned a thing or two from them about how they keep business booming. From the organiser to the social-savvy marketer, here are seven types of successful holiday home owner – are you one, or all, of these?

The go-getter. As a wise sage once said, the early bird catches the worm. Successful owners are proactive and determined to maximise bookings by following up every enquiry with a quoteresponding quickly and being ready to answer any questions from potential guests. Owners who are quick off the mark will snap up the bookings.

The welcoming host. First impressions are often long-lasting. Owners who provide their guests with a warm welcome will see those guests coming back year after year. Owners who give their guests the VIP treatment, from the moment an enquiry comes in to the day the guest checks out, are sure to succeed. They can even make some valuable friendships along the way.

The social-savvy marketer. Aside from your listing on Holiday Lettings and TripAdvisor, there are lots of other ways to get the word out about your property. FacebookTwitterGoogle+ and Pinterest are all fantastic tools for promoting your place. Don’t forget to add a link to your Holiday Lettings listing so that guests can book online. Some owners even run a blog about their place, posting news of any recent improvements and info about events in the local area.

The student. Successful holiday home owners are always learning and seeking to improve their business. It’s a good idea to keep tabs on the latest travel industry news, such as info about any new airlines operating in the area, by subscribing to websites such as travelweekly.co.uk. Forums are a good place to exchange insider knowledge with other owners and the owners/managers section of our blog is packed full of advice.

The tour guide. The more information you can give your guests about the area, the more enjoyable their holiday will be. Give them tips about the best places to eat, walk and sightsee, plus advice about local trains and buses. They won’t want to spend too much time researching the area, so be their tour guide and give them a head start. Find out more about how to think like a local.

The organiser. Guests tell us that one of their biggest bugbears is finding adverts that have out-of-date information on them. Be sure to keep your calendar updated regularly, your prices set at least 18 months in advance and your photos recent. This will keep your potential guests happy and make sure that your home appears in all relevant searches. Log in to update your ad.

The communicator. One of the most important traits of a successful holiday home owner is to be a good communicator. That means responding to all enquiries, being at the end of the phone should your guests need you while they’re on holiday and listening to their feedback. Show you’re interested  in their opinion by asking them to write a review of your place, then respond to it, even if it’s just to thank them for their comments.

Click on the links in the article for more advice.

5 places to celebrate National Ravioli Day

Time to dig into a bowl of pasta parcels stuffed full of tasty ingredients as 20 March marks National Ravioli Day. In honour of this, here are some of best places where you can tuck into this delicious speciality.

Piccolo Parma, Mineola, USA

Every day is Ravioli Day at Piccolo Parma. They offer a combination of quirky and classic flavours from apple to artichoke, and sauces including triple sec cream and vodka. Last year, they even marked National Ravioli Day with a tasting menu of six courses and over 30 different ravioli. Drop by to see what’s on the menu this time around.

While you’re in Mineola, it’s well worth getting to know the area. There’s the fascinating Cradle of Aviation Museum just up the road. It’s only a few miles from the town to Old Westbury Gardens, the perfect spot for a moment of relaxation. You could also check out the colourful Nunley’s Carousel and ride on the back of one of the vintage horses.

Pick a perfect apartment in nearby New York

Taverna Trilussa, Rome, Italy

italy

The Taverna Trilussa restaurant has won awards in Milan and Rome for its Mimosa Ravioli. The exact ingredients are top secret, but if you fancy trying to unravel the mystery, then dig into a plate of them on the pretty terrace. The sauce is beautifully creamy and the staff hints that there’s no meat or fish inside. Any ideas? To round off the perfect evening, treat yourself to a trio of house tiramisù, millefoglie and mousse.

Since the restaurant’s at the heart of the buzzing Trastevere district, why not explore this part of Rome further? There’s a terrific flea market, bohemian cafés aplenty and vibrant nightspots where you can join the locals. During the day, architecture buffs will appreciate the sensational Santa Maria in Trastevere church with its glistening gold mosaics.

Sample some of the world’s finest pasta in Rome

Latium, London, UK

rome

Fancy a meal consisting entirely of ravioli? Then look no further than Latium’s Ravioli Menu. You can kick off with a potato and nutmeg filling and move on to ricotta cheese and lemon parcels for the main course. Later there’s a mint version stuffed with pineapple and drizzled with coconut sauce for dessert.

It’s only a quick walk from the restaurant to the multiple shopping opportunities of Oxford Street, where you may find something to tempt you. Keen photographers will then enjoy a wander round the neighbouring Photographers’ Gallery to catch a cool exhibition. By that point you may well be tired after a hard day of pounding the streets – if so, take a break at the Agua Bathhouse Spa.

Book a foodie break in London

Marcelli’s Ravioli Factory and Restaurant, Eureka, USA

These are ravioli like “mamma used to make” – the deep-fried appetisers are, perhaps, even better (though please don’t tell her). Marcelli’s make their own pasta dough and sausages for that authentic home-cooked taste. Had enough ravioli? The sumptuous fettuccine alfredo or rich spaghetti and meatballs are excellent alternatives.

Work off the excesses with a stroll through Sequoia Park Garden, where you can wander through the woods and take in vast redwood trees. History fans will be keen to tour the Fort Humboldt State Historic Park, which creates a vivid snapshot of the area’s heritage. The park is a 10 minute drive from the beautiful Humboldt Bay where you can spot seals or take a trip out on the water.

Try some traditional pasta dishes in Eureka

Osteria Francescana, Modena, Italy

italy2

Often rated Italy’s best restaurant, the Osteria Francescana also delivers delicious ravioli. Luxury’s the name of the game here so, if you’re lucky, you might be able to try the ravioli filled with foie gras and black truffle; the crispy leek garnish is the perfect finishing touch. It looks like a work of art and tastes even better.

Modena itself is a lovely place to wander round. In the Piazza Grande you can watch the world go by with a cappuccino and gaze up at the soaring Ghirlandina tower (the breathtaking views from the top are ample reward for the climb). There’s also the traditional Albinelli market where you can sample the local speciality, balsamic vinegar.

Watch the world go by in Modena

Still booking hotels for your holidays? It’s time for a change

spain villaOne of the best things about going on holiday is, to quote a well-worn expression, “getting away from it all”. So why book one room in a hotel, surrounded by other guests, when you can enjoy the privacy of a whole house for a fraction of the price? Here’s why hotels are out and holiday rentals are in.

More for your money. We all want value for money and you’ll certainly get that with a holiday rental. You’ll have more space, exclusive use of facilities such as the kitchen and garden, and sometimes, extra luxuries such as a hot tub or private swimming pool. It’s a world away from a hotel holiday, where eating out gets expensive and finding a spare sun-lounger near the pool is no mean feat.

Feel at home. When you book a private holiday home, you can do what you want, when you want. There’s no need to worry about getting dressed (or even getting up!) for breakfast and you can have your eggs just the way you like them. Don’t feel like going out? You’ll have plenty of room to relax in the garden or curl up with a book on the sofa.

Great for kids. Anyone who’s got children will know they don’t like being confined to one area for any great length of time. Staying in a holiday home allows teenagers some privacy and excitable toddlers the freedom to make as much noise as they like. And it’s a great opportunity for families to spend some quality time together, from barbecues on the patio to board games in the dining room.

Your pets can come too. Many holiday homes are pet-friendly so guests can bring their four-legged friends along. You won’t need to worry about expensive kennel fees and your pet will love exploring the area with you.

A unique experience. Ever stayed in a castle, lighthouse or watermill before? Well, now is your chance. We’ve got all sorts of homes on Holiday Lettings. Take a look at this tree house in Costa RicaShepherd’s Hut in Snowdonia and this Pigeon Loft in France to see what we mean.

Ready to book your dream holiday rental? Here’s how it works.

5 fab experiences for a memorable Mother’s Day

mothersdayMother’s Day is the perfect opportunity to spoil your mum and make her feel appreciated. So why not treat her (and yourself) to a special experience? We’ve got five ideas to help you plan a fantastic holiday that she’ll love, whether your Mum’s a green-fingered gardener or a musical theatre lover.

For the theatre fan – catch Mamma Mia! on Broadway, New York

Bride-to-be Sophie invites three of her mother’s old flames to her wedding but can she find out which is her real father? An extravaganza of fun, music and dance ensues – it’ll have you both dancing in the aisle. Enjoy singing along to ABBA classics from Dancing Queen to Waterloo.

Once you’ve emerged from the show, absorb the hustle and bustle of Times Square. You can watch filming of the Good Morning America TV show here. For a peaceful surprise, take a few steps to the beautiful Church of Saint Mary the Virgin.

Book a New York apartment your mum will love

For the sweet mum – join the Chocolate Walking Tour and Workshop, Brussels

This tour is choc-full of deliciousness. Your mum’s only difficulty will be deciding which of the chocolate boutiques’ offerings are the best: options include classic pralines or orangettes (candied orange strips dipped in dark chocolate). Chocoholics can even study with a Master Chocolatier and make their own sweet creations.

If you still haven’t had enough of the sweet stuff, you can visit the central Cocoa and Chocolate Museum, followed by a walk around the heart of delightful Brussels. Its picturesque Grand Place and art nouveau houses will impress architecture fans, whereas shoppers can browse the Place du Grand Sablon’s tempting antique shops and flea market.

Choose from this selection of tempting holiday homes in Brussels

For the stressed-out superwoman – relax at After the Rain spa, Geneva

Your mum’ll feel all her stresses and strains melt away at Geneva’s super-luxurious After the Rain spa. Luxuriate in the warmth of the hammam or have a nap in the relaxation room. Or maybe try one of their signature gold facials or edelweiss body scrubs while you’re there.

Continue the tranquil vibe with a vintage boat cruise on the calm waters of Lake Geneva. You’ll drift past the vast Jet d’Eau fountain, which shoots out 50 litres of water, and if you’re lucky you’ll see a rainbow appearing in the mist. A quaint café on the central Place Bourg du Four is a lovely spot to relax and people-watch at the end of the day.

Take a relaxing break in Geneva

For the elegant lady – take afternoon tea at Betty’s, Harrogate

Betty’s is an iconic tearoom in an iconic location, and their afternoon tea is particularly indulgent. Sit back in the graceful room and take in the crystal chandeliers, piano playing and vista over the park. There are then 18 speciality teas to sample as well as delicate sandwiches and sumptuous cakes.

When you’re refreshed, drop into the nearby Royal Pump Room Museum; it tells the story of this elegant spa town and features beautifully ornate architecture. Why not stroll the streets of Harrogate’s picturesque Montpellier quarter? Alternatively, head to the charming market town of Pateley Bridge and join a llama trek.

Find a stylish holiday home in Harrogate

For the avid gardener – wander through the Château de Villandry gardens, Loire Valley

Any keen gardener will love the Château de Villandry’s palace estate. Stroll through some of the country’s finest gardens taking in the ornamental vines, free-flowing flowers and pretty fountains. Another highlight is the kitchen garden, where you can check out colourful arrangements of the season’s vegetables, from cabbages to carrots.

If you can’t get enough of châteaux, then you’ll enjoy the romantic Château de l’Islette too. While you’re in the vicinity, it’s well worth ducking into the Grottes Pétrifiantes – eerie caves filled with gigantic limestone stalactites. And it wouldn’t be a proper trip to the Loire Valley without a session at one of the fab local wineries.

Enjoy some outside space in the Loire Valley

 

Top 20 Adventure Travel Bloggers – 2015

adventureDo you dream about setting off on the adventure of a lifetime? Whether you’re an armchair traveller or are currently plotting the route of an imminent expedition, there’s inspiration and encouragement at hand from our top 20 adventure travel bloggers.

Ordinary Traveler

Christy and Scott believe that travel is for absolutely everyone; they prompt busy people to make the most of precious holidays and illustrate how to balance the reality of work with dream travels. They successfully juggle professional lives in San Diego with fab forays as far as the Scottish islands and remote Nepalese villages. Yes, you really can have it all – and Ordinary Traveler is the proof. @OrdinaryTravelr

Mapping Megan

If you’ve drafted a travel bucket list but haven’t (yet) ticked anything off it, then Megan Claire’s blog will soon have you raring to go. You can scroll around her personal world map as she completes her list. Then click on posts detailing specific experiences, including safaris in Africa and camping in the Amazon Rain Forest; which ideas will you nab for your own list? @mappingmegan

Adventure Women

Sisters (plus their mothers and friends) are doing it for themselves! Susan Eckert puts together
bespoke trips that motivate women over 30 to challenge themselves within a safe and supportive environment. Will you join them to cross the Serengeti’s vast plains or track through Slovenia’s spectacular mountains? If you can’t decide which, you can always browse their terrific photos and videos. @AdvWomen

The Travel Camel

Shane Dallas seeks out the world’s least appreciated locations, uncovering hidden gems along the way. If you like straying far from the beaten track, then you should read about Shane’s journeys from Kurdistan to North Korea and absorb his useful safety hints. You might just find yourself adding a trip to that disregarded destination into your diary too. @TheTravelCamel

Hiking the Trail

Fans of action-packed adventures will appreciate Adam Nutting’s online journal. It offers updates on his latest escapades, whether striding down the Appalachian Trail, hurtling through the Snake River or backpacking in the Seven Devils mountains. There are also invaluable travel tips and gear reviews to consider if you’re planning your own expedition. @HikingTheTrail

Borders of Adventure

There’s no need to leave your social conscience when you jet off: Becki Enright unearths different dimensions to misunderstood destinations on her travels. She recently toured the eerie US Embassy in Tehran and also reported on the cultural rejuvenation of Athens.  Her pieces show how your adventuring can have a sense of responsibility and purpose too. @BordersofAdv

Life, Love and Adventure

Dawn Kealing has travelled through 12 countries including Jordan and Mexico since 2012. She chronicles her reactions to the different cultures that she encounters; highlights include a hot-air-balloon ride over Egypt’s Valley of the Kings as the sun rose and meeting sloths at the jaguar reserve in Costa Rica. Will she make it to El Salvador and Panama? Watch this space. @DawnKealing

Monkeys and Mountains

Named after blogger Laurel Robbins’ favourite things, Monkeys and Mountains recounts her quirky travels. The blog offers a winning blend of adrenaline-pumping action punctuated with intervals of well-deserved luxury. Whether you’re tempted by swimming with sharks or devouring legally protected pastries, there’s sure to be something of interest. @Laurel_Robbins

Just One Way Ticket

This is the perfect how-to- guide for anyone who has ever dreamt of just taking off. With ideas for fun things to do in Malaysia and great pictures of the Philippines, Sabrina Iovino will soon have your packing your bags too. There’s no need to book a return ticket either as, fortunately, she explains how she finances her voyages of discovery. See you at the airport! @Just1WayTicket

Go, See, Write

A real-life Phileas Fogg, Michael Hodson set off to circumnavigate the globe without any bookings or ever boarding a plane.  It took him 16 months to investigate 44 countries across six continents; he’s now permanently on the road so Go, See, Write is the best places to keep up-to-date with his latest jaunts.@GoSeeWrite

Five Dollar Traveller

Why let minimal funds stop you living life to the full? Tommo and Megsy have trained elephants in Thailand, stayed in a volcanic spa in South Korea and minded a 16th-century French chateau – and spend under $750 a month on this stylish living. So if you’ve got champagne tastes but a beer budget (or simply fancy spending a month in the French Alps for under $225) then their blog is for you. @5Dollartravel

The Epic Adventurer

It’s so enriching to live like a local when you’re away, and this blog’s your resident expert on the best-kept secrets from Boston to Bangkok. Your reward for stepping out of tourist haunts is the authenticity of cool coffee shops and trendy cocktail bars it recommends. Full of thoughts on engaging with different cultures in a sustainable way, it’s well worth a look. @EpicAdventurer

Getting Stamped

As Hannah and Adam say, ‘a full passport is a happy passport’. They’d know, having toured nearly 50 countries from Australia to Zambia since they escaped from suburbia 18 months ago. You can find out how they saved for their road trip, get the scoop on Rome’s finest gelato and cook authentic green curry. @GettingStamped

GlobalGrasshopper

This team of self-confessed travel snobs specialise in tracking down wild spots near busy resorts, for instance Turkey’s craggy interior and Tenerife’s majestic Anaga mountains. They also highlight other beautiful places around the world – can you resist taking in the UK’s most spectacular views or the most gorgeous locations in Bali? @globalgrasshopr

Adventurous Kate

Meet Kate McCulley, the ultimate guide to being a solo female traveller. She demonstrates how to explore on your own – straightforwardly, safely and still thrillingly. How do you handle being alone in a party destination? And how do you separate safety facts from fiction? You can also learn (one way or another) from her crazy escapades like getting shipwrecked in Indonesia and eating 10 chilli peppers super-quickly in Laos too. @adventurouskate

Off the Path

After a hit-and-run incident, Sebastian Canaves decided it was time to see the world. He urges you to do the same, even if you can only spare a few days and suggests weekends away from snowy Oslo to sunny Mallorca. To inspire your next break, flick through his photo essays or download his handy ebooks on Edinburgh and Bangkok. @offthepathcom

Divergent Travelers

Here you can follow the twists and turns of Lina and Dave’s path through the unknown and unexpected. They awoke from the American Dream in 2013, decided to hit the road with a round-the-world trip and are still going strong. Their website enables them to share their decision-making process and its consequences with other travellers. @divergenttravel

Paul Kirtley’s Blog

Do you know how to generate water in frozen environments? Or build emergency shelters? If you don’t, then you should probably study Paul Kirtley’s blog before you venture into the wilderness. You can also find out about his own extreme excursions: some of the latest examples are canoeing down Manitoba’s savage Bloodvein River and cross-country skiing across the Hardanger Plateau in the bleak Norwegian winter. @PKirt

Section Hiker

Grab your rucksack and head to the hills with Section Hiker. Whether you’re a novice or are already proficient, you’ll pick up lots of recommendations ranging from spice kit ingredients to must-have gear. There’s also a forum where you can canvas opinions and pose questions to other members of the walking community. @philipwerner

AdventureRob

Robert Fitzsimmons was made redundant and promptly spent the entire settlement on travelling the world. He also set up his blog at this time and says ‘’I hope it inspires others to leave the rat race and travel, even if it’s just for a little bit.’ He’s now embarking on new adventures, planning trips with his wife and new baby. @AdventureRob

 

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