UK holidays: Best cottage providers unveiled in new survey – where to book this autumn

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Holiday cottages are a terrific choice for Britons looking to enjoy a break in the UK. Not all cottage providers are equal though, with some offering a much better service than others. New findings have unveiled which are the very best companies for 2020.

Consumer brand Which? carried out its first-ever survey of UK holiday cottage providers this summer.

Smaller providers were shown to outshine big name brands for self-catered UK holidays.

Which? asked more than 6,500 people about their experiences with 19 UK holiday cottage providers.

They were surveyed across a range of criteria, including the quality of their accommodation, ease of making a booking, customer service and value for money.

Which? also independently assessed the companies’ approaches to refunding customers whose bookings were cancelled as a result of the coronavirus outbreak when it carried out the survey in June.

The company which came out on top was The Landmark Trust – a charity dedicated to the conservation of unique historic landmarks.

With only 200 properties, The Landmark Trust was the smallest provider in Which?’s survey but was remarkably the only company to score five stars across every category, gaining a total score of 88 percent.

However, it did miss out on the Which? Recommended Provider status, as, while it offers refunds or free rebooking options for holidays it has to cancel, it is not automatically issuing refunds to customers who cancel holidays themselves because of coronavirus, or who are unable to take their holidays because of local lockdowns.

The second best holiday cottage provider was The National Trust – a charity and membership organisation for heritage conservation in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The National Trust was awarded a customer rating of 85 percent.

Unlike The Landmark Trust, the charity was named a Which? Recommended Provider on account of its high scores and generous refund policy, giving any customer unable to travel because of Covid-19 a full refund if they do not want to reschedule.

Customers were impressed by the attractive properties in great locations.

One person surveyed said of The National Trust: “We stayed in a house that I had dreamed of stopping in when I visited the Lakes as a young adult. To have my children there with us was magical.”

In third place was Heart of the Lakes which operates in the Lake District.

The provider has over 300 Lake District Cottages, including luxury cottages, apartments and lodges for all requirements.

Forest Holidays – which offers short breaks and log cabin holidays in 11 UK forest locations – came in fourth place and also received Which? Recommended Provider status, with a score of 77 percent.

Its refund policy impressed Which?’s travel experts, committing to refunding customers who cannot travel due to local lockdown restrictions, while customers rated the quality of its accommodation and customer service.

One guest told Which?: “The facilities in the lodge were first class and everything we required and more was there on arrival.”

Rounding off the top five was Independent Cottages which has over 1800 independently owned holiday homes to rent in the UK.

Rory Boland, Editor of Which? Travel, said of the survey’s findings: “With international travel restrictions still in place across the country and bookings for UK holidays extending into next year, it’s clear that self-catered accommodation providers will be in high demand for the foreseeable future.

“While holidaymakers value interesting and well-presented properties at a good price, the importance of fair and flexible terms when it comes to cancellations and refunds cannot be understated.

“Always do your research before booking, to make sure you’re not stung if coronavirus restrictions prevent your holiday from going ahead.”

Top 10 holiday cottage providers in the UK

The Landmark Trust

National Trust

Heart of the Lakes

Forest Holidays

Independent Cottages

Lakelovers

Rural retreats

English Country Cottages

Suffolk Secrets

Airbnb

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