Category Archives: Home

Gorgeous places to go gooey over dairy products

Nothing beats a decadent scoop of ice cream or lashings of golden butter on your toast. But where do the crème de la crème of dairy goods come from? From potting cream on a Cornish farm to making mozzarella in Campania, we’ve got some top spots for enjoying your favourite dairy products.

Cream in Camelford, UK

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It’s not just the cat that gets the cream at Cansford Farm. Watch the cream being separated, help pasteurise the milk and pot up some cream. You can even feed the calves and milk the cows. It wouldn’t be a proper trip to Cornwall without indulging in a cream tea – can you resist one on the farm?

The neighbouring Cornwall at War Museum is well worth a visit: sit in a bunker listening to the sound of bombs dropping around you, wander round the Officer’s eerie mess or take a trip across a former airstrip. Alternatively, you could follow the scent to St Kitts Herbery, where you can try their Bergamot Perfume or select a plant from the nursery.

Book your Cornish break

Chocolate in Bruges, Belgium

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The Choco-story exhibition follows the humble cocoa bean from its early days in the Americas to its present day popularity in Europe. Drift through the galleries and learn about the health benefits of hot chocolate as well as cocoa-growing methods, before tasting pralines made while you watch.

How about working off the tasting with a stroll along the city’s picturesque canals? On your way you can admire the quaint architecture and take in an exhibition of elaborate local lace. Stop as you cross the canal over St. Bonifaciusbrug bridge to catch dreamy views of the swan-filled Minnewater Lake.

Find a place to stay in Bruges

Cheese in Campania, Italy

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Calling all pizza fans! Here you can see how the Caseificio Michelangelo factory has made mozzarella for over half a century, from the first drop of milk to the finished cheese. You can make your own using traditional production moulds and tubs, then step outside and feast al fresco under the orange trees.

Pluck up your courage and venture down the nearby Amalfi Coast’s twists and turns – your rewards are Amalfi Cathedral’s shady cloisters, Positano’s sun-drenched beach and a zesty sip of chilled limoncello. Why not sail to the gorgeous island of Capri too? You can hike to the Roman emperors’ imposing holiday pad at Villa Jovis or marvel at the Blue Grotto’s ethereal light.

Book a pizza-filled stay in Campania

Butter in Cork, Ireland

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Find out more about dairy history at the Cork Butter Museum (did you know people used to preserve butter in bogs?). You can see a keg containing butter that’s over a thousand years old and a collection of butter bricks. Afterwards, wander past the retro wall displaying butter wrappers over the years.

You can spy dairy motifs throughout the city’s Shandon district, for example the cow above the former butter market. Absorb the nearby hilltop’s panoramic views over Cork city centre and stroll through Shandon’s quaint squares and alleyways. Pause in its art galleries to see inspiring works and check out the antique centres packed with quirky treasures.

Find your favourite Cork getaway

 

Holiday Lettings homes in the Press – January

Our owners have been gaining plenty of column inches this January. If you’d like your holiday home to be considered for a feature in the press, please get in touch by emailing press@holidaylettings.co.uk.

Here are some of January’s highlights.

Blaencwm, Home 138744 & Stargazer’s Loft, Home 236711

The Hay Festival in Powys (May 21-31) is attracting more lovers of literature every year, so it’s no surprise that demand for a holiday rental in the area rises at festival time.

Two homes advertised on Holiday Lettings were included in The Telegraph’s Hay Festival: accommodation booking guide. The article picks up on how the little touches at Blaencwm (Home 138744), such as fresh hens’ eggs and a pool table, make this holiday let a great option for families and friends. Cosy cottage Stargazer’s Loft (Home 236711) is singled out because of its close proximity to the festival (just two miles away).

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Blaencwm (Home 138744)

 

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Stargazer’s Loft (Home 236711)

 

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As many travellers are leaving the tent at home and looking for self-catering accommodation, media interest around holiday lets near festivals is increasing. Chestnutt Cottage (Home 1148897) was featured in The Telegraph’s Latitude Festival: accommodation booking guide as it’s just a 20 minute walk from Southwold. Guests can also rent a beach hut situated on Southwold Promenade and this got a special mention.

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Chestnutt Cottage and Beach Hut (Home 1148897)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Villa Anne, Home 108952

Congratulations to the owners of Villa Anne (Home 108952) in Crete, Greece, whose child-friendly villa appeared in The Times’ The 50 best villas in the Mediterranean. Their villa has been fully child-proofed, putting parents’ minds at ease.The pool is alarmed to international standards and short wetsuits for all ages are supplied. Read more on The Times’ website.

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Villa Anne (Home 108952)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Woodstock, Home 5128209

Paula and Greg’s aim when renovating their traditional Victorian villa in Broadstairs, Kent, was to “retain as much of the character as possible but give it a modern touch”. The owners’ unique and quirky holiday let, Woodstock (Home 5128209), was featured in 25 Beautiful Homes Magazine. It includes an interview with the couple about why they bought the property and what their vision for it was. It also includes some fantastic images of their home which show the owners’ careful attention to detail and style.

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Woodstock, Home 5128209

 

5 ways to keep guests coming back

Picnic blanket, basket with food and wine, champagne, grape and sign WELCOMEMany owners tell us that guests who return year after year are incredibly valuable to them. They tend to book early, are more likely to rave to family and friends about how great your place is and, sometimes, become friends for life.

So what can you do to encourage your guests to return? Here are five ways to keep them coming back for more:

#1 A warm welcome

If you can be there to greet your guests in person and show them around, that’s brilliant. Don’t linger too long, however, as they’ll want to get on with their holiday as soon as possible. They probably won’t be in the mood for a detailed presentation about how the cooker works; that’s what your welcome pack is for. A friendly exchange and a short tour is enough to make them feel at home.

If you can’t be there, that’s fine as long as you’ve already given your guests detailed instructions about how to gain access and how to contact you should they have any problems. It’s also a good idea to give your guests a call shortly after checking in to ask if everything is ok.

#2 The VIP treatment

First impressions are important so, if you want your guests to return, each one needs to feel like they’re getting the VIP treatment. A welcome hamper full of goodies and little extras, such as a vase of fresh flowers or some homemade treats, will keep guests coming back to your place rather than trying somewhere else in the area next year.

Get to know your guests: if you know that they’re bringing a dog, get a couple of squeaky toys and some dog treats. If they’re travelling with young children, a few activity books and some crayons will be appreciated.

#3 Keep in touch

It’s a good idea to set up a mailing list so you can email all of your previous guests if you’ve got some news about your holiday home. For example, if you make some improvements to the property, such as the addition of a hot tub or extra bed, you could send an email to let them know and even include a picture. Don’t forget to include a link to your Holiday Lettings advert so they can make a booking online.

You might want to catch previous guests at a point when they’re likely to be planning their next holiday. Log in to your account to check when they made last year’s booking and send them a quote around the same time the following year. Add a personal message to encourage them to book again. Or go the extra mile and send previous guests a Christmas card featuring a picture of your home to act as a reminder.

#4 Extra incentives

Consider offering returning guests exclusive discounts and offers. For example, you could send an email shortly after their stay to say that returning guests get a percentage off their next booking if they book within one month. Or maybe you could let all of your guests know that if they make a repeat booking, they can stay an extra night for free.

#5 Saying goodbye (for now)

A successful check-in is just as important as a successful check-out. It’s great if you can meet your guests on their last day to collect the keys from them and wish them a safe journey home. But if you can’t be there, make sure they know well in advance what the check-out process is.

Send them an email shortly after they leave to welcome them back next year and to ask them to write a review of their stay. If they do leave a review, don’t forget to respond to it, reinforcing that you’ll be pleased to see them again soon. And for a final touch, consider leaving them a few little souvenirs from the local area, such as notebooks and keyrings, to remind them to come back again.

More like this

Useful info to include in your welcome pack

What’s in your welcome hamper?
Collect reviews with our email template
FAQ: How do I send a quote?

Useful info to include in your welcome pack

welcomeYour welcome pack is one of the most useful resources for your guests. Along with other info, it should explain how to use appliances in your home and what to do in case of emergencies.

Use a binder with tabs separating each section so the information is easy to find. Along with your tips, place a welcome letter at the beginning of your book to help your guests feel at home when they first arrive. Don’t forget to leave it somewhere your guests will easily find it, such as a table near the door in the hallway or on the dining table.

Here’s a list of information we recommend including in your welcome pack:

Essential information:

  •         Emergency numbers/contact information
  •         Address of the nearest doctor’s surgery and hospital
  •         Area maps
  •         Wi-Fi network and password
  •         Beach/park passes
  •         Check-out times and departure instructions

User guides for:

  •         Appliances
  •         Entertainment systems
  •         Water, plumbing and heating systems

Inventory of household supplies:

  •         Toilet paper, paper towels, linens, etc.
  •         Food items

Area amenities:

  •         Restaurants – include menus for takeaway and delivery options
  •         Supermarkets, farmer’s markets, nearest shop
  •         Local attractions – hiking trails, best beaches, amusement parks, etc.
  •         Local dog park or dog-friendly beaches

Transport options:

  •         Bus routes
  •         Taxi services
  •         Car and bike rentals
  •         Airports, train stations, etc.

More like this

What’s in your welcome hamper?

More space for photos – change your gallery with the season

We’ve increased the number of photos you can store in your advert to 100. Your gallery will still display 24, but with all that space to add extra pictures it’ll be much easier to keep your gallery up to date.

Instead of having to upload new photos over existing ones, you can now simply move them out of your displayed gallery to your store of saved photos and swap new ones in. This means you can keep your gallery looking fresh and seasonal all year round. Here are some ideas about using your gallery to attract bookings for each season.

Spring

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Well-lit photos of your home with extra springtime touches (for example, the table laid ready for dinner complete with a vase of tulips) help to freshen up your gallery. As the trees start to blossom and flowers start to bloom, get out and about with your camera and take some pictures of the local area too – for example,  bluebells in a nearby forest or a field of daffodils.

 Summer

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Summer brings some of the most beautiful sunsets so it’s a good idea to get some snaps when the sun’s going down – especially if you’ve got a balcony with a sea view. If there are beaches near your home, head down on a clear day and get plenty of pictures. If you’ve got a garden, capture some of the ways it can be enjoyed. You might want to set the table for an al fresco lunch,  or bring some of your outdoor toys or equipment into shot, such as a trampoline or swing.

 Autumn

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As the leaves start to turn red and brown and the nights draw in, it’s time to get some autumn photos of your home and area. If you’ve got a wood-burning stove or an open fire, a softly lit picture of the room with the fire blazing away will help potential guests imagine themselves relaxing there on a chilly day. Pictures of local indoor attractions, such as museums, theatres and water parks, make good additions to your gallery for when the weather is less favourable.

 Winter

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Take several photos of your home dressed for the Christmas holidays, complete with twinkling lights and a tree. If you get snow in your area in winter, pictures of dazzling white landscapes are really effective. Local area photos such as nearby Christmas markets and wintry woodland walks also work well.

To start adding photos to your gallery, go to Properties > Add / update photos.

 

More like this

4 top tips on how to order your photos
Photography tips to get guests booking

Top 20 Family Travel Bloggers – 2015

Let’s face it, going on holiday with children can be a little challenging at times so the prospect of travelling internationally, and on a regular basis, can be even more daunting. If you’re putting off a family trip to avoid hearing “Are we nearly there yet?” and worrying about packing everything apart from the kitchen sink, then worry no more: our top 20 family travel bloggers are at the rescue.

They’ve been there and done that with children in tow and have lived to tell the tale. In fact, they’ve found that travelling with children offers a whole new perspective and, with careful planning, is as easy as ABC.

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The Family Adventure Project

Stuart, Kirstie and their three children have a passion for adventure. Their mission is to spend quality time together as a family while exploring the world. From ideas on where to go hiking and sailing to practical advice such as choosing the right cycling gear for kids, The Family Adventure Project is a great place to start. @familyonabike

World Travel Family

Having completed a year of non-stop round-the-world travel, the authors of World Travel Family blog offer a fantastic insight into what to expect when travelling full time with children. You’ll find ideas and tips on the practicalities, and advice on how to adapt your travel style to accommodate your kids. Find out how “seeing things through children’s eyes is magical.” @worldtravelfam

Family Rambling

Jody and her family have been rambling since her two daughters were infants, so they’ve learned a lot about travel over the years. They share their family tips, info on how to make flying with children look easy and destination advice. Family Rambling’s focus is on inspiring others to enjoy fun family travel. @JodyHalsted

Mummy Travels

Mummy Travels aims to shed light on the reality of travelling with “a bump, baby and now, a single-minded toddler whirlwind of energy”. Cathy Winston of Mummy Travels has visited 55 countries and her award-winning writing has been published in a string of national papers and magazines, including the Independent and National Geographic. From travel checklists to destination guides, Cathy’s valuable advice and sense of humour make for a great read. @mummytravels

Family Road Tripping

If you don’t mind travelling in the car with children for long periods of time, Family Road Tripping is for you. Molly Thornberg, her husband and four children are experienced road trippers and their blog has heaps of advice, including how to keep children entertained with car games and how best to pack. @FamilyRoadTripn

Family, Food and Travel

Combining Kerrie’s passions for food and travel, this blog offers travel info such as hotel reviews and where to go for days out, and recipes including hearty soups and healthy Mexican dishes. Kerrie’s dream is to take her boys to every continent – she embraces the challenge and shares her tips on travelling with twins. @BusyMomofTwins1

Jetlag and Mayhem

 Nicola’s love of travel didn’t end when she had children. In fact, it’s her mission to introduce her children to the travel bug and “turn them into mini jetsetters!” Nicola has loads of advice on planning your trip and her handy printable packing checklists help you get organised. She also blogs about the latest travel gadgets and has a catalogue of destination guides. @JetlagandMayhem

Mums Do Travel

From family volunteering holidays to Bushcraft courses, Gretta Schifano shares her experiences of family travel with much humour and knowledge. On the blog you’ll find holiday ideas, recommendations for attractions to visit with kids and honest opinions on accommodation. And to top it off, her competitions page is regularly updated. @grettaschifano

Traveling Canucks

Canadian new parents, Cam and Nicole Wears, are the brains behind Traveling Canucks. Their aim is to show that it’s possible to balance family and a career with travelling the globe. They started off with backpacks but swapped them for luggage on wheels after their two sons were born. Their blog is packed with advice and tips on travelling with children and how to save for the next adventure. @travelcanucks

Where’s Sharon?

Sharon’s blog about her adventures with her family is proof that travelling with kids can be even more rewarding than travelling without. Sharon’s aim is to reassure parents who are thinking about taking the plunge and offer a new perspective to seasoned family travellers. The family has travelled the globe, blogging about “the good, the bad and the ugly of family travel.” @WheresSharon

Gone With the Family

Lisa’s mission is to show her kids the world. She’s been travelling with them since her eldest daughter was four months old – she’s now 17 so the family have plenty of experience under their belt! As Lisa says, “I believe that travel is one of the most educational experiences a child can have and I delight in traveling with my children and seeing the world through their eyes.” @GoneWithFamily

The Talking Suitcase

Dana and husband have been travelling with their two energetic children since getting out of debt and saving up. The Talking Suitcase is all about how to travel with two children while sticking to a budget. Dana has practical advice on how to make funds go further without sacrificing comfort, covering everything from keeping kids entertained to getting cheap flights. @suitcasetalks

We 3 Travel

Tamara of We 3 Travel has a clear philosophy when it comes to family travel: “the more you involve kids in planning the trip and prepare them for what you will visit, the more they will get out of the experience.” From city stays in Barcelona to zip-lining in Costa Rica, We 3 Travel  offers advice on planning ahead plus first-hand experiences of what it’s like to travel with children in tow. @tgruber

Travel with Bender

The Bender family left Australia in May 2012 and have been travelling the world ever since. The family have visited dozens of countries and stayed in over 100 hotels and apartments, so they’ve got heaps of first-hand experiences to share when it comes to travelling with children. Their award-winning blog aims to show other families thinking of open-ended travel that, if they can do it, you can do it too! @TravelwitBender

The Q Family Adventures

From camping to cruising to skiing, The Q Family Adventures blog has advice on where to stay, what to see and what to pack. The Q Family has been travelling all over the world ever since the children were babies, and their reviews of hotels and travel gadgets are an invaluable resource. @Theqfamily

Jet with Kids

For the past decade, Anya has been testing out her travel parenting skills on a global scale. With her son, she has travelled to 5 continents, 32+ countries and circled the globe on an around-the-world tour. And as a published author of a guidebook about flying with children, Anya has the answer to  all of your questions about taking to the air. @JetWithAnya

Family Travel Times

If you want to read about travelling with children from the perspective of a child, the Family Travel Times is the blog for you. That’s because the whole family contribute, including the two children, Jess and Robert. Join them on their travels from days out in the UK to adventures around the rest of the world. @sarahjebner

The Vacation Gals

The Vacation Gals are three professional travel writers (and mums) who share their ideas for family trips, but also blog about travel without children. Their award-winning blog covers outdoor adventure holidays, travel gadget reviews, romantic escapes and “girlfriend getaways”. @TheVacationGals

The Mum Blog

London-based British Mum Liz Jarvis has been travel blogging since 2009. Since then she’s won a host of accolades and been featured in many top family travel blog lists. Liz has many interests from travel and gaming to movies and chocolate, so there’s plenty to keep you entertained. @LizJarvisUK

Baby Routes

Combining parenthood, travel and a love of the great outdoors, Baby Routes is a fantastic resource for any parent who loves walking with their children. Kate founded Baby Routes in 2012 and since then she’s been reviewing places to go walking, putting outdoor gear for kids through its paces and sharing her tips for successful walking with children. @babyroutes

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5 of the Best Desert Island Holidays

Feel like getting away from it all on your own desert island but want to be more jet-setter than shipwrecked castaway? We’ve selected places to stay on some of the world’s most spectacular private islands.

Collanmore Lodge, Collanmore, Ireland

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Clew Bay has an island for every day of the year. At its heart is Collanmore Island, an outstandingly beautiful setting with sensational bay views. Why not take them in from Collanmore Lodge? Check out its private bar, hot tub, sauna and landscaped gardens too – they’re perfect for relaxing in after a day exploring the island.

The island is only a minute from the mainland and 12 minutes from Westport town. Start your cycling trip on the famous Great Western Greenway trail there. Climb iconic Croagh Patrick, the nearby pilgrimage mountain. You can also walk to Westport House and Country Estate, one of Ireland’s favourite tourist attractions.

Apurawan Villa, Puerto Princesa, Philippines

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Gaze at the South China Sea all day from your own white sandy beach when you stay in this gorgeous Apurawan villa. Make coconut oil and sample it in delicious local fish dishes, or plant fruit and tropical hardwood trees in the garden. At night, you can fall asleep soothed by the sounds of the waves and rainforest.

The Subterranean River National Park is worth a special trip when you’re in this area. Here you’ll find the earth’s longest navigable underground river and, reputedly, its most beautiful. It winds through a spectacular cave for 8.2 kilometres before flowing into the sea.

Coconut Villa, Koh Mak, Thailand

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 This luxury villa offers abundant tropical gardens with stunning views across the water to the islands in the Marine National Park. Fancy a swimming pool? Sunbathing areas? Traditional Thai massages? It’s all included here.

Dotted among the island’s 10,000 palm trees you’ll find a temple, three fishing villages, rubber plantations, two uninhabited beaches, a market and three diving schools. You can kayak to small offshore islands or take a boat trip and go snorkelling.

Citronelle, Eden Island, Seychelles

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Sit out on your apartment deck in one of the world’s most exclusive residential marinas when you stay at Citronelle. Stroll down the pontoon to book a boat trip or spend a day island-hopping around Praslin, La Digue or Cerf.

You can watch giant tortoises and birds in their natural environment, or dive among reefs, wrecks and canyons teeming with exotic life. Take a trek inland on jungle trails, try a great local restaurant, or simply enjoy the gentle pace of island life.

Sekawa Beach Cottage, Savusavu, Fiji

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Wake up in the cool of this Fijian forest cottage to the sounds of tropical bird song. Wander along your private beach collecting shells. Or take to the water and admire Savusavu Bay’s characterful Fijian villages, immaculate coral reefs and picturesque fishing boats.

Savusavu town is charmingly quaint, a sweetly perfumed South Pacific port filled with hibiscus flowers, surrounded by gentle verdant hills and tucked into a wide bay. Here you can do it all, from visiting waterfalls to watching rugby, or just relaxing in a hammock.

Looking forward to 2015

Rowena, owner of Home 163206

Rowena, our guest blogger, tells us why she’s looking forward to 2015.

It’s the start of a brand new year and I’d like to make it the best yet for our holiday home.

Last year was a slower year for our rental in Cyprus, which left me wondering why. Was it generally a quieter year for my region or did my personal commitments distract me from promoting our lovely property? The latter, I suspect, as I got married in 2014 and had other obligations that got in the way.

So, now Christmas is over I’m looking for ways to make 2015 a fantastic year for our holiday home bookings.

Increase our online exposure

An article in Travel Weekly back in 2012 revealed that 80% of holiday bookings are made online. And with the popularity of booking from mobiles and tablets soaring, I need to ensure we have a strong online presence for our home.

I’m going to continue advertising on Holiday Lettings (which also means my reviews from past and future guests will appear on TripAdvisor) and increase our impact by running deal adverts at key times of the year. Deals are great: travellers love a bargain and I’d like to fill my empty weeks.

Keep our advert up to date

I’ve updated our advert with fresh content and new pictures from our recent trip to Cyprus. It’s easy to forget that your advert needs refreshing regularly, but it’s really important to make sure everything is accurate and relevant for current travellers.

Things like out of date prices, calendars and photos won’t sell our home to potential guests. Show your guests you’re on top of things, and they’re more likely to book.

Plan home improvements and maintenance

I’m always looking for ways to improve our holiday home. For inspiration I think about which features I like to see when I book a stay somewhere.

I’ve got some exciting ideas planned (more on that in a future blog post) and we’re off to Cyprus again in February to make some improvements and do essential maintenance on our home. This will make it even nicer for our guests and for us to enjoy.

Keep in touch

Many of our bookings are from repeat guests, but there are many more who have emailed us on their return to say how much they loved our house and would like to book again for future holidays.

In 2015, I’m going to improve my communication and contact these past guests to remind them of our lovely holiday home. This could be just the boost they need to plan their next break at our place.

So to everyone out there who is also working on attracting guests and increasing bookings for the year to come, I wish you a very happy new year. And here’s to a successful 2015!

 

 

Be inspired by your guests

Whether you’ve got TripAdvisor reviews on your advert or a guest book at your home full of comments, your future guests will definitely want to read other people’s impressions of your home. In today’s competitive market, reviews form a vital part of your advertising: they offer reassurance and provide valuable first-hand experience.

You can even use your guests’ reviews to improve your advert. Here’s how:

 

“The photos don’t do it justice”

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If your guests are raving about the décor in your place but their reviews say that the “photos don’t do it justice”, it’s time to take some better photos! Similarly, if they’re talking about the local beach but you don’t have any photos of it, you’re missing an opportunity to promote your area. Read our tips on how to work wonders with your photo gallery.

 

“Walk to the apartment in 3 minutes…”

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If you usually drive around the area near your holiday home, your guests’ reviews can offer insight into the best ways of getting around using public transport. Which bus to use and how long it takes to get to nearby amenities and attractions is all valuable info for guests.

Use these tips in the How to get there section of your advert. Go to Properties > Update location info to update your advert.

 

“Beautiful sunrises and sunsets…”

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You can also use your reviews to get ideas for your descriptions. This review mentions the “breathtaking” views and the “quaint harbour town”, evoking a tranquil seaside holiday. Need more ideas for your area descriptions? Find out how to think like a local.

 

“Thank you for your feedback…”

It’s a good idea to respond to all of your reviews, even if it’s just to thank your guest for the feedback. It also gives you the opportunity to emphasise the positive points the guest has made and address any of their suggestions for improvement. Read our top tips for responding to guest reviews.

Here’s an example of a great review and response:

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More like this

Think like a local – what’s in your area?
How TripAdvisor reviews work
How to collect TripAdvisor reviews (and boost bookings!)

Red squirrel spotting in the UK

Red squirrel with a hazelnut in his teeth

Red squirrels are as rare as they are enchanting. Spring’s not far off and it’s the perfect time to spot them at their most active in their natural habitat. If you’re nuts about red squirrels, why not book a stay where you’ll be in with a chance of seeing them? We bring you some of our favourite places to find real-life Squirrel Nutkins.

Pentraeth Forest, Anglesey

By the late 1990s there were fewer than 40 adult squirrels left on Anglesey. The population has now grown to 700 thanks to conservation efforts across the area. Pentraeth Forest’s one of the best places to spot them as this was their last stronghold on the island. You might be able to glimpse a red tail vanishing up a tall tree or hear the clatter of claws along a branch.

Peer out of the forest over the vast sands of Red Wharf Bay and then join the Anglesey Coastal Path. Fancy cycling, walking or horse-riding along some if its 125 stunning miles? You can tour the dramatic South Stack Lighthouse, visit the evocative ruins of Penmon Priory or or hike up imposing Holyhead Mountain on your way.

Choose your perfect pad in Anglesey

Mount Stewart, County Down

Red squirrels have taken up residence in the park of Mount Stewart stately home near Newtownards in County Down, so why not drop by? You’re most likely to spot them behind the house and to the north of the lake in the early morning or late afternoon. Follow their trail from the gorgeous formal gardens, drifting past the lake and Rhododendron hill. The gardens have a charming Italianate feel and shelter one of the oldest vines in the UK.

While you’re in Newtownards, scale the 122 steps up nearby Scrabo Tower for views that, on a clear day, extend to Scotland, the Isle of Man and even the Lake District. Back on the ground, how about meeting adorable alpacas and petting cuddly lambs at the neighbouring Ark Open Farm? Then find out more about the First World War in Ireland with a trip down the road to the Somme Heritage Centre: their mock-up trench brings the past vividly to life.

Explore places to stay in County Down

Brownsea Island, Dorset

Sail away to this tranquil island in Poole Harbour – it’s a haven for wildlife and with a bit of luck, you’ll see sika deer and wading birds. There are over 250 squirrels on the island as they have no grey rivals to compete with here. Watch out for partially-nibbled pine cones in the wooded areas as a clue that they’re not far off.

When you’ve landed back on the mainland, try crabbing on Poole’s vibrant quayside or explore the town’s fascinating past by following the Cockle Trail. Visit the studio of the legendary Poole Pottery where you can see the artisans at work and produce your own masterpiece. And it wouldn’t be a proper trip to Poole without getting out on the water of Europe’s largest natural harbour.

Find your home-from-home in Dorset

Craik Forest, Scottish Borders

Get away from it all in Craik Forest as you saunter along the gorgeous Aithouse Burn and feel the power of Wolfcleuch Waterfall. You can also visit the forest’s excellent viewing hide and shelter while you wait to see red squirrels in their natural habitat. Will you catch them gathering and burying their supply of nuts?

Visit the 16-century Drumlanrig Tower in nearby Hawick and discover its important role in defending the region. There’s also a 120-year old working weaving mill in the town where you can learn how tweeds are made. Alternatively, relax in the pretty walled garden of neighbouring Wilton Lodge Park.

Locate your dream holiday let in the Scottish Borders