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Renting a holiday property for a large group

Renting self-catering holiday accommodation in Scotland, England, Wales and Ireland

Renting a holiday property for a large group Holidaying in large groups or as an extended family can be great fun, but it is worth being clear about your accommodation requirements before booking a holiday property. A group staying altogether in one large property may work well, but is not always the most relaxing way to spend a holiday with a large group. From personal experience, we have found a more successful option to be renting a few separate holiday cottages on one site. This allows each family, or smaller group, to have their own space and facilities, while still enjoying the benefits of being on holiday with a larger party.

For several years now, my family has enjoyed a week in the summer in self-catering holiday homes in England, Scotland and Wales. Our group - comprising grandparents, siblings, in-laws and cousins - have rented three separate cottages on one complex, and found this to be a very successful arrangement. By staying in different holiday homes on the same site, we have been able to enjoy a holiday with the extended family, yet still have the opportunity for individual families to have time on their own.

The advantages of renting a number of separate properties are particularly obvious if the party includes several children. Taking a holiday with a large number of children can be immensely enjoyable, but there can also be more stressful times when it is great to be able to have your own property to relax in. Separate holiday cottages give children a place to wind down in the evenings away from the excitement of the rest of the party and give your own family valuable time on their own. Similarly, accommodation for individual groups may also be suitable for large parties who are taking a break together over New Year or Easter, or for a get-together of friends and relations for a special occasion. Each group will have different requirements for their holiday let, and it is important to establish your criteria before searching for a holiday property to rent.

However, we have found that finding suitable accommodation for a large group is not always easy. Searching for more than one cottage at the same property over the Internet can be frustrating; although booking one large holiday house is relatively straightforward, it is less easy find suitable accommodation for a large group looking for separate cottages in the same place. Some websites feature each property as a separate entry, and only sometimes make reference to adjacent properties that would be suitable for other members of the group. Others list all the cottages in the whole property complex on one page, with individual accommodation described under the one main heading. Because of this, you need to search carefully for your exact requirements and if necessary refine your search according to the design of the particular website.

When looking for holiday homes for a large group (whether for business hire, family holidays, Hen party gatherings or reunions), there are a number of areas to consider. First, check that changeover dates for the individual properties coincide with each other. In large cottage complexes, some of the cottages may be let from a Saturday to a Saturday while for other cottages the rental period will be Friday to Friday. If this is the case with the properties you wish to book, the problem may not be insurmountable - indeed, one year we found it a positive advantage to have one family arriving a day early and being settled and stocked up with food before the others arrived. But it may also be a huge drawback, particularly if it means that one section of the party will have to move out of their premises a day before everyone else. Above all, do not presume that you can just move around and squeeze everyone in to the remaining properties on the final night, as your rental agreement will not allow you to exceed the maximum number of people in each property. Second, check on the number of bedrooms and beds in each property to ensure that you book appropriate sleeping configurations. You do not want to end up having a toddler sharing a sofa bed with a granny! Each property should be a suitable size for the particular family grouping, and finding holiday properties that correspond to the exact size of your party is not always easy.

Check also the facilities of individual properties, as well as the shared facilities available at the holiday complex. A shared swimming pool is a wonderful amenity to enjoy, while games rooms and plenty of outside space for ball games and children's activities is essential for those on holiday with a large number of children. Individual outdoor garden or patio space is also ideal, and barbeque facilities are very welcome as a BBQ is a sociable and simple way to enjoy a supper for a large group. One of the downsides, in fact, of renting individual properties on the same site is that the dining facilities of each cottage will inevitably only cater for a smaller number of people. We have spent rather a lot of time carrying plates, glasses and chairs from one house to another in order to enjoy a meal together, and it is only fair on the owners that these are returned to the correct property afterwards. In this sense, renting one large property for the whole group may be more convenient, and it is necessary to weigh such factors up before booking your holiday house.

Taking a holiday as a large group also requires working out how money is to be spent and how the catering is to be shared. It is well worth being clear about this from the beginning, to avoid any misunderstanding. We usually find it simplest for each family to stock up individual self-catering cottages with the basics, and then to split the cost of any shared meals out. We enjoy large family meals in the evenings, and take it in turns to cook. This means that although when it is your turn to cook you have to shop and cater for a large number of people, you then have two days off in which to relax and enjoy someone else's cooking!

Having spent several very happy holidays in joint self-catering properties, we would certainly recommend renting a group of holiday cottages together for a large party of people. However, it is also advisable to think carefully about your group's needs and requirements before booking, and to take into consideration the pros and cons of different set ups. Good luck with your search!

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