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A holiday cottage is a cottage used for accommodation, which has become common in the United Kingdom and Canada. They are typically small homes that vacationers can rent and run as if it were their own home for the duration of their stay. This gives them the freedom to eat in, eat out, stay in bed all day and generally come and go as they please. In contrast to this, accommodation in a bed and breakfast or hotel usually involves some sort of restriction on the time of day guests need to vacate their rooms for cleaning and so on.
Young children and babies can be more easily accommodated for in a holiday cottage where the parents do not feel pressure from other families (e.g. in a hotel resort) who may not have young children. The fact that guests are on holiday in a home together, often with three generations in larger houses, brings a much different atmosphere to the holiday.
Holiday Cottages are nowadays found across the length and breadth of the UK, with many destinations from town houses to forests. New Forest Holiday Cottages have become more popular in recent years, gaining a higher profile from such news as the New Forest becoming a National Park. Many other areas in the UK have seen a growth in the Holiday Cottage industry such as the Lake District and Cornwall. There are typically two routes to renting a holiday cottage. Either direct with an owner, or through the auspices of a holiday cottage agency. Several holiday home portals list cottages available direct from the owner, and charge an fee for listing the property.
In Canada, the most popular destination is the Muskoka region of Ontario, known for its many lakes and forests. Muskoka is even referred to as "cottage country" and sees over 2.1 million visitors annually. On the East Coast, the Maritimes are home to many oceanfront cottages. Likewise, British Columbia on the West Coast is another popular vacation destination for cottage-seekers.
The holiday cottage market in both Canada and the UK is highly competitive – and big business. In the UK, this increased competition has led to significant improvements in the quality of properties on offer – so gone are the swirly carpets and tacky furniture of old, to be replaced by tasteful hues, character furnishings and quality appliances, in some cases providing a standard of accommodation more akin to a 'boutique' hotel. This improvement in standards has in turn contributed to the increase in the popularity of holiday cottages for weekend breaks, offering in many cases the same standard of accommodation as an hotel, yet with the increased freedom that a holiday cottage offers.
One other significant development in the UK holiday cottage market is that of Farm Stays, driven partly by the farmers and the poor returns they get from farming itself, but also by the desire of parents wanting their children to experience rural life first-hand.
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