Tag Archives: book

Travels inspired by a good book

Has anything you’ve read recently made you start planning your next holiday? From Jessie Burton’s The Miniaturist to the fascinating history of Mona Lisa: A Life Discovered by Dianne Hales, we suggest some recent books that will give you some great ideas for your next trip.

Florence, Italy

Dianne Hales’ Mona Lisa: A Life Discovered

You know her elusive smile but what about her story? This book unveils Lisa Gherardini, the Florentine housewife who became the world’s most legendary artistic subject. It’s a fascinating portrait of a Renaissance everywoman swept up in the social scandals and political dramas of Florence’s most turbulent times.

Fancy following in her footsteps through Florence? Stop in Via Sguazza, the seedy street where she was born, and at the beautiful Baptistery where she was christened: Michelangelo dubbed its doors the “Gates of Paradise”. You can also tour Leonardo da Vinci’s birthplace in nearby Anchiano and soak up the gorgeous landscape of sundrenched vines and olive groves.

Find your model place to stay in Florence

Georgia, USA

Frances Mayes’ Under Magnolia

Under Magnolia is a poetic and and atmospheric memoir that oozes the hot, lush Deep South: you can almost taste the squishy pot of beans disintegrating in salt pork. Is that the sweet smell of honeysuckle? And how about the overripe peaches wafting through the balmy night air?

Follow in Mayes’ footsteps and take a leisurely saunter along the banks of the Chattahoochee River. You can also tour the Heard County Historical Center and Museum housed in the Old Jail for a fascinating glimpse into the heritage of this rural community.

Locate your own Georgian adventure

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Jessie Burton’s The Miniaturist

It’s 1686 and Petronella Oortman has just moved into her new husband’s elegant townhouse in Amsterdam’s most affluent district. Her husband gives her a cabinet-sized replica of their home as a wedding present and she commissions a mysterious miniaturist to furnish it. How can the miniaturist’s little creations reflect the household so familiarly? And what secrets do the eerily closed doors conceal?

You can check out the real cabinet house that inspired the novel at the city’s Rijksmuseum. The materials used and precise proportions are impressive. It’s only a couple of minutes walk to the excellent Van Gogh Museum where you can absorb masterpieces such as Almond Blossom and The Bedroom.

Choose your own pad in Amsterdam

Oaxaca, Mexico

ancient Mayan ruins temple of Tulum in Caribbean turquoise sea shore
Chilli Notes by Thomasina Miers

Feel the heat with the latest recipes from the founder of the Mexican street food cantina, Wahaca. They follow her delicious travels through Oaxaca, Mexico’s culinary capital, and around the rest of the world. Can you honestly resist the chilli-chocolate brownies as an indulgent late-night treat or the rose-scented slow roast lamb for the perfect Sunday lunch?

If you like it hot, you’ll love Oaxaca’s famous mole sauces and giant balls of quesillo cheese ribbons. They are delicious whether you get them from a simple stand in the Central de Abastos market or a lively café. You can always pick up some tips for your own kitchen adventures at the nearby La Casa de los Sabores Cooking School.

Explore places to stay in Oaxaca

Top 5 reasons why guests don’t book (and how to make sure they do!)

Finding it difficult to encourage holidaymakers to book after they’ve sent you an enquiry? We ask holidaymakers all the time about why they decided not to book. Read on to find out their top reasons and what you can do to secure those all-important bookings.

Tip #1 Keep your calendar up to date

We recently received this email from one disgruntled holidaymaker:

“Dear Holiday Lettings,

My son and I spent a considerable amount of time over three nights sifting through the villas on offer until we found exactly what we were looking for, available at the time we wanted and for at a price we could afford. Sadly, we allowed ourselves to get excited about the prospect of our sunny Italian holiday.

The reality was something of a letdown when we found that the availability dates were wrong and that the villa had been let for some considerable time. We looked again, only to find the same result. This was followed by another similar experience.”

Out of date availability is one of the main gripes that holidaymakers have when trying to make a booking. This can easily be avoided by updating your calendar as often as possible by logging into your account and going to Properties > Availability. They might keep your ad in mind for next year if it’s booked this time, but will steer clear in future if they have a bad experience.

Tip #2 Respond as soon as possible

Sadly, many enquiries that are sent through the site never receive a response. Even if you can’t accept a particular stay, responding is crucial if you want to be considered again. Speed is also key if you’re going to be the one to secure the booking before anyone else.

“The owner never responded to my request! Every time we called the mobile number provided, it just rang out to answer phone. This upset us, as obviously we wanted to book. However, we have booked another home through your site, which we are all looking forward to. Shame about the other villa owner. “

“I did not book the cottage as someone else got back to me a little sooner.”

“I have had no response from the owner of the property, I am disappointed that I have not heard anything back, I was a genuine customer wanting to let this property but because of this I have arranged to book another apartment.”

As it’s now possible for owners to take online payments via their Holiday Lettings advert, guests can book straight away. If you don’t use online bookings, you’ll need to bear that in mind and respond to enquiries as soon as they come in. Want to start taking online bookings? Find out more. You can also respond to enquiries on the go by downloading the Holiday Lettings app. This way, it doesn’t matter where you are – you’ll easily be able to respond to enquiries and booking requests.

Tip #3 Set your changeover day and length of stay

“… I did have a prompt reply from the owner but it seems that during peak periods you can only take a letting for 2 weeks min. It would be helpful if this was flagged up more clearly so time is not wasted on properties that are unavailable.”

“We have found somewhere else that was able to offer a Friday start date.”

It’s really important to make it clear on your advert what your minimum stay and changeover day is so you don’t have to disappoint anyone. It’s easy to specify –just go to Properties > Prices > General settings and give extra details if you need to in the Notes section on the same page.

Tip #4 Keep your prices up to date

“I was very interested in renting this property but the price quoted when I enquired was substantially more than that stated on the website for the period I’m interested in so I have decided not pursued this further.”

“When I had a reply the price was nearly £20 a night more than was quoted on your site, which was very disappointing as it was then over our budget.”

“We changed our minds because the price quoted on the price list was £1000 per week but it came through at £2000. We are looking at other options.”

Whether you’re using online booking or not, it’s important that your prices are right. Update often but also, keep your prices all inclusive so there are no hidden charges that might put holidaymakers off at a later date. Go to Properties > Prices to update.

Tip #5 A complete advert is an enquired about advert

“I haven’t booked, as I was hoping to see further photos of the property (only the bedroom and kitchen are shown.)”

“They weren’t clear about how I can pay. I want to know that the process is secure.”

“I did send them a message but now I’m worried because they don’t have reviews. Has someone else stayed there?”

Did you know that just one review can boost your enquiries by 40%? Find out more.

You’ve got space for 24 photos so fill your gallery with plenty of pictures of your home and the surrounding area. Log in and visit Properties > Photos upload your images.

Online booking gives guests extra peace of mind by giving them a safe and secure way of paying (and saves you the hassle of chasing up payments!). If you’re not using online booking, make sure your advert says how you accept payments, for example, bank transfer.  We recommend guests never pay by wire money transfer (such as Western Union).

See more tips about keeping your ad in shape to keep the bookings rolling in all year round.