When you’re on a self-catering break, staying in a holiday cottage, you expect a high degree of personal freedom, where you can set your own schedule, make your own eating arrangements, and generally enjoy a

Picture by Petr Krotochvil

holiday that’s a home away from home.

However, holiday cottages do have rules, and while these shouldn’t have a negative impact on the quality of your stay, they are important from the point of view of safety and common courtesy.

Many of them are, in fact unwritten, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t follow them, if you’re going to be a good guest.


If you’re given an appointed time to arrive at your holiday accommodation, don’t be too early. It can prove especially difficult where there are several properties in one place, with queues of cars leaving and arriving.

If possible, do arrive at your holiday cottage in daylight hours. After dark, finding things like locks, keys and entrances can prove complex, particularly if you’re out in the countryside. Be on the safe side and bring a torch with you.

Do check in advance if you require disabled access – people can have different ideas about what this means and, depending on the disability, conditions can vary.

Don’t assume that “dogs welcome” means any pet – caged birds will be fine but it’s unusual to take a cat, for example.

Your holiday cottage may state that towels are included, but please don’t assume this will cover all your needs. You should pack your own beach towels (if applicable), and you might want to pack a large bath towel of your own.

Do ask the owner any questions on arrival, but don’t overwhelm them with detailed queries about the area, places to eat etc – their time is limited and while you’re on holiday, they’re not.

If there’s a welcome pack at the cottage, do take the time to read it – it will probably contain useful information about the cottage and the local area and its amenities.

Don’t keep any complaints to yourself – if there’s something you feel is wrong, or missing, then let the owner know as soon as you can after your arrival, so that they can fix it. That way everyone’s happy.


Do check you’re leaving your holiday cottage in the same state you found it. No one’s expecting you to act like an au pair throughout your holiday, but you should leave the place tidy as a courtesy to the owner.

If there are any breakages do admit to them – it’s not fair on the owner if they then must deal with unreported items that are broken or missing.

If there’s a visitors’ book, do write in it – useful comments, including constructive criticism, should always be welcome, since the holiday cottage owner will want to ensure that guests have the best possible experience.