Real Estate

First-timer’s guide to renting a cottage


Thanks to the Internet, cottage rentals are more accessible than ever. But despite the amenities and value—not to mention the peace and quiet—offered by many cottage rentals, first-time renters often have cold feet about staying at someone’s personal property. Even though the reservation process is as easy as booking a hotel, staying at a rental cottage is a paradigm shift away from name-brand hotel rooms.

To a lot of people, a cookie-cutter hotel room doesn’t exactly sound like a dream vacation: claustrophobic square footage, minibar snacks that cost an arm and a leg, and a picturesque view of a parking lot. Yet hotel accommodation is something we’ve all grown curiously accustomed to. Cottage rentals enter stage left: who wouldn’t prefer a one-of-a-kind accommodation option that offers great amenities and an average of five times the square footage for half the price of a hotel room? Not to mention the incredible outdoor experience that a cottage can offer.

To help first-time renters feel as comfortable renting a cottage as they feel booking a hotel room, we’ve compiled a list of essential tips for the perfect cottage-rental experience.

Simplify the search

You’ll find plenty of cottage-rental opportunities on general sites like Kijiji and Craigslist, but to really dial in your search based on the precise cottage amenities and cottage-country locations you’re looking for, a dedicated vacation-rentals site like VRBO is likely your best bet.

To make your online search earlier, consider these questions ahead of time:

•    Where do you want to travel?
•    What are your travel dates?
•    How many guests will you be travelling with, and how many bedrooms will you need?
•    What amenities are you looking for (e.g., wireless Internet, hot tub, sauna, pet-friendly, wheelchair accessible)?

Window shop

Most destinations have a range of rentals, from rustic cabins in a woodland setting to estates in the lap of lakefront luxury. Look around at what’s out there and compare your options.

You should also look for listings that include several good quality photos and a detailed description of the property, its location, features, and amenities.

Send out inquiries

Once you’ve narrowed down your list of potential rental properties, send inquiries to property owners to open up communication and take the guesswork out of booking. Be open about your questions, concerns and expectations and look for the same level of transparency from the property owner. Start with following questions:

•    How long have you been listing your property?
•    How long have you had this property?
•    Is this your primary residence or vacation property?
•    Will you or a designated contact person be available in case of emergency?
•    What are your expectations?
•    What are your house rules?
•    What is your cancellation policy?
•    What will be provided at your property (e.g., coffee maker, toiletries, kitchen staples, canoe or other water toys)?

Book your chosen cottage

Once you’ve picked the perfect rental property, it’s time to book it. But before you do, make sure you’re clear on the details such as cancellation policy, pet policy, check in and check out, and other possible fees.

If you’re using a dedicated service, you can book a cottage by making a reservation online.

Enjoy your cottage rental!

Now that your legwork is done, it’s time to enjoy the cottage experience. And upon your return, be sure to write a review of the property on its listing page. Other travelers will appreciate your insight, and the property owner will be thankful for your feedback.

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