The Hidden Dream Hotels of Portugal

Portugal is a fascinating and stunning country. With a warm Mediterranean climate and a landscape that goes from beaches to cliffs, mountains to valleys, plains to forests, and cities to countryside, it’s no wonder that it is a popular destination for tourists from all around the world.

To truly enjoy such an enchanting country, it’s only fitting to seek out unique, enchanting accommodation, too. Luckily, thanks to an innovative state-run programme back in the 1940s, Portugal offers just that.

António Ferro, then the Minister of Information and Propaganda as well as a playwright, proposed the creation of a range of small hotels that looked nothing like hotels; rustic and genuinely Portuguese properties called Pousadas which were intended to reflect the culture, cuisine and nature of the region. He said at the opening ceremony of the first, “At the current time, nearly all construction in Europe is intended for war. Our Pousadas will be fortresses of peace, refuges of grace and quiet.”

There are today more than thirty different properties, each one individual and attractive in its own way, throughout the length of Portugal. Although they are now managed by a private hotel group, many are still owned by the state and they hold true to their original concept.

The Pousadas of Portugal range from historic buildings to modern properties in locations of exceptional beauty. Each one is different, but they are categorised into four groups.

Historic Pousadas

Historic Pousadas are set in castles, palaces, fortresses, and convents and monasteries which date back as far as the 13th Century – yet still offer luxurious accommodation with all mod-cons. One example is the stunning Obidos Castle – a tourist attraction in its own right, this was the first historic building to open as a Pousada. Stay at the right time and you’ll be right at the heart of the annual medieval festival, or you can enjoy a honeymoon in a suite set in one of the castle’s turrets.

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Historic Design

Historic Design Pousadas are, to a large extent, quite similar to Historic ones, however these Pousadas tend to combine historic architecture with modern design – often because the historic property was too ruined to be restored entirely. A prime example would be the Pousada of Amares – a half-destroyed 12th century monastery called Santa Maria do Bouro, which took eight years for acclaimed Portuguese architect Eduardo Souto de Moura to complete. He said of this project that he was not restoring the building, rather “building a Pousada from the stones of a monastery.”

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Nature

If you wish to see the unspoilt countryside, the Nature Pousadas offer the best locations possible. Each is set in a stunning location of natural beauty, such as the Peneda-Geres National Park – Portugal’s only national park. Here, at the top of a mountain in the heart of the park, you can stay in a former hunter’s chalet and enjoy astonishing views.

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Charm

The final category is the Charming Pousada – these are set in areas with a unique, romantic atmosphere and are often typically Portuguese buildings. Whilst the concept of “charm” is fairly nebulous, it is hard to argue with the view from one such Pousada, as it’s said to be one of the finest panoramas in the world. Set high on Mount Santa Luzia, the Pousada of Viana Do Castelo has a spectacular view with the temple of Santa Luzia in the foreground and the Atlantic coast below – definitely charming!

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Because of the unique way that the Pousadas of Portugal use, restore and preserve historic buildings, they are an excellent way of not only experiencing Portugal’s culture but also helping to maintain it. Indeed, in 1995, they won an award from ASTA (American Society of Travel Agents) and the Smithsonian Foundation acknowledging the major role they play in preserving the environment and the cultural heritage for tourist purposes.

One word of advice – if you plan a holiday stay in any of the pousadas, it’s recommended that you take a GPS navigation system, as their stunning locations can often make them tricky to find!

The Three Best Places to Stay in Crete

The gorgeous Greek Island of Crete is one of the most relaxing and naturally beautiful places in Europe to take a family holiday. Being the most Southern point of Europe it has an extremely mild climate and Summery temperatures stretch from March to October. The best time to go is probably May-June or September as these have really cosy temperatures (averaging 24oC) so you won’t be toasted and there’s less overcrowding. If you love culture then Crete is teaming with history but it is also perfect for lounging by pools and swimming in the crystal sea. Below we explore the three best holiday destinations on Greece’s biggest island.

travel3Kalives

If you are looking for somewhere laid back then Kalives is the perfect untouched destination. Situated on the North East of the Island just 20km from Chania, this village has the right mix of attractions, amenities and tranquil beaches. Staying in a stunning villa in the nearby villages will mean you have a private place to escape to. Villa Galania from Freelance holidays is a beautiful property with a generous pool which won The Sunday Times Europe’s 100 Sexiest Villas. Kalives has two twin beaches separated by a canal called Maistrali and Xydas. The combination of golden sand, water sports and water-side tavernas make up the perfect destination.

 

Rethymnon

Rethymnon is Crete’s third largest town, but doesn’t have a hectic city feel. It combines charming historic buildings with a costal setting meaning there is a lot to do. Rethymnon is a town of contrasts: on one side is the beach town with modern hotels and tavernas and on the East there are the traditional coastal villages. If you love history don’t miss a trip to the Venitian Fortress where you can learn about the town’s history and enjoy the amazing views across the sea. In order to soak up the charm of the Old Town you could stay in a hotel such as The Rimondi. Tucked away in the winding streets of the Old Town this boutique hotel offers a luxurious place to spend your free time.

 

Agios Nikolaos

Situated in the North West of Crete, in the sheltered and beautiful shores of the Mirabelo bay, Agios Nikolaos is a wonderful place to have a holiday. This town mixes modern with history and manages to be leisurely but also bustling. There are plenty of shops and good cafes, particularly those situated around the little lake that sits in the town centre. Agios Nikolaos has a marina, port and long beach where there are many opportunities for doing watersports. Thalassa Villas offers luxury villas overlooking the Mirabelo bay.

 

Crete is an unmissable part of Europe as it is home to the oldest European civilisation, and also boasts a climate similar to North Africa. Discover the beauty and laid-back culture of the island this holiday season.

Europe’s Top Historical Sites

Are you a history buff? Do archaeological artefacts excite you? Then why not chose a holiday that has plenty of historical sites nearby to visit? We’re lucky to live in a very long established continent where ancient civilisations roamed the earth up to 20,000 years ago and lived fascinating lives. Each country has its own story to tell and different civilisations and settlers. From Neolithic cave paintings in France to Viking hoards in Sweden, Europe has a wealth of extraordinary sites. Here we pick the cream of Europe’s crop for you to visit.

The Roman Forum, Rome, Italy

The Roman forum was once the beating heart of the ancient Roman city and this site is not to be missed. The Forum holds some of the most integral buildings of the ancient Roman civilisation including the massive market place and the Senate, which is the location of Julius Caesar’s assassination. It’s free to visit the monument during the day but if you walk up the steps of the Campidoglio at night there are also breathtaking lighted views. If you do your research, you can find some decently priced hotels in Rome.

 Lascaux Caves, Dordogne, France

This is one of the oldest discoveries in Europe and depicts an idea of life as far back as 17,000 years. The site was discovered by teenagers in 1940 and has since been made a UNESCO world heritage site. The cave complex may have been home to a Palaeolithic tribe and contained rooms such as The Hall of the Bulls, the Passageway, the Nave, the Apse, and the Chamber of Felines. The cave is now closed due to damage from human contact and a mould infestation; however Lascaux II, built nearby is a replica site with a museum. Why not make a whole holiday of it in the beautiful setting of the Dordogne?

Knossos Palace of Knossos, Crete, Greece

The Island of Crete is where the Minoan civilisation settled up to 20,000 years ago, so unsurprisingly the Island is littered with evidence of their time. There are remains of Minoan palaces all over the Island, but the largest and best preserved is Knossos, just outside of the capital, Heraklion. This magnificent suite was uncovered by Englishman Arthur Evans in 1900. Although he restored areas of it to look like the original, the vast majority are around 3,000 years old. Crete has much to offer tourists who love history and is perfect for family holidays. Come and stay in one of the many beautiful Cretan villas.

Björkö, Sweden

Off the shores of Lake Mälaren in Sweden is Björkö, also known as “Birch Island”. The island is rich with evidence of Bronze Age communities and has many old monuments and new museums to discover more about Viking life. The oldest excavated site is a 3,000 year old burial site with cairns and burial mounds. Don’t miss Birka, also on the island which is an excavated and reconstructed Viking town. Björkö is a short boat trip from Stockholm. Stay in the surrounding area in a holiday home or apartment and take in the incredible natural beauty of Sweden.

Stonehenge, Wiltshire, England

The oldest and most impressive Stone Age monument in Britain, Stonehenge has to be the first stop on your tour of Europe’s archaeological sites. Archaeologists are unsure of many facts about the stone circle, including the purpose of it, and the dates of erection are estimated between 3000 and 2200 BC. Popular beliefs of usage include a burial site, place of worship or a giant sundial. The new visitors centre is due to open 18th December this year, so now is a great time to visit. If you fancy staying in Wiltshire, there are plenty of holiday cottages on offer.

So there you have our list of most popular and fascinating archaeological monuments in Europe. They were chosen for the variety of historical find, and country, but there are many more places to visit, particularly in Greece and Italy. Wherever you go, there is always history to discover and delight, whether it’s 300 or 3000 years old. Just have fun and learn lots!

Cornwall Vs Provence: Which Should You Choose For Your Holiday?

Historically France and England have a long-standing rivalry, and with increasing numbers of Brits staying at home this year, it seems that the battle between France and England is extending to holidays too. If you are weighing up your holiday options consider this case study on the merits of two of the most popular French and English holiday destinations – Cornwall and Provence – before you choose your destination for your holiday.

Activities

Brewery tours in Cornwall can offer you a wonderful daytime excursion and Skinners Brewery offer a very reasonably priced option when you are thinking of holidaying in England so why not take a look at their website www.skinnersbrewery.com for more information.

Wine tours offer a different experience for your holiday and should you choose to holiday in France this year Provence Wine Tours have a variety of different tours to suit your tastes and budget, for more information on what they can offer you see their website www.provencewinetours.com.

Food

British food is seeing a total revival in recent years, so now is the perfect time to holiday in England if you want to experience some wonderful food.  The Good Food Guide can help you find the perfect places to eat out in England on your holiday so check out their website www.thegoodfoodguide.co.uk to find anything from pub grub to five star dining to suit your tastes.

French cuisine has always had a good reputation, as home to the Michelin star food is a huge part of French culture. Whether you are feeling adventurous and want to try out frogs legs or would rather stick with simple yet wholesome meals Dine In France can help you locate the perfect restaurant if you visit their website www.dineinfrance.com and check out their easy to use restaurant finder.

Accommodation

When holidaying in Cornwall it’s important to think about accommodation. Avoid commercial hotel chains and holiday sites to truly experience the beauty of a British holiday. Duchy Holidays offer a huge choice of quaint cottages along the coast, so if you want an idyllic holiday experience find yourself the right place to stay by visiting their website www.duchyholidays.co.uk  and enjoy a quintessentially British experience.

When it comes to a holiday in France, you’ll get the most from your experience if you choose to experience the luxury of a traditional French villa. A villa offers you a way to escape the crowds and truly experience the tranquillity of France and Affinity Holidays France offer a beautiful range of opulent villas for you to choose from on their website www.affinity-holidays-france.com if you decide to choose France for your holiday.

Once France was the favoured holiday destination of the British, but with all the wealth of wonderful activities available on your own back doorstep it’s time to weigh your options when it comes to booking your holiday. Both destinations offer you a huge variety of opportunities to experience culture, relaxation and fun, so regardless of which you choose you can be safe in the knowledge that you’ll have the holiday of a lifetime.

Top 5 Affordable Hotels for the Horses

Whether it’s a flat race or a National Hunt course with hurdles and ditches, horse racing is an exciting sport to watch, and thousands of people flock to England’s racecourses every year. Of course, that means thousands of people looking for somewhere to stay. If you’re thinking of donning a fancy hat and maybe having a little flutter in person, here are some great hotels close to the races.

Aintree

The Aintree racecourse is home to the Grand National, possibly the most famous horse race in the country. You can already book tickets for next year’s Grand National, but it’s not their only race. This year, there are also race days in October and December to look forward to.

The Hotel: The Park Hotel – http://www.theparkhotel.biz/

Conveniently close to the racecourse, and offering everything you need for a comfortable stay. There’s a bar and restaurant on site, and plenty of car parking too.

Goodwood

Glorious Goodwood is over for another year, but the Goodwood racecourse hosts a number of prestigious races on the flat racing calendar, as well as other events including motor sport events.

The Hotel: Crouchers Hotel – http://www.crouchershotel.co.uk

A short but very scenic drive away from the racecourse, this friendly and welcoming hotel gives you equally easy access to the city of Chichester, the South Downs and the coast as well. A great restaurant and bar on site, and beautiful gardens too.

Ascot

You can’t talk about horse racing without mentioning the famous Ascot racecourse. Although there are eighteen meetings between May and October, Royal Ascot in June is obviously the main draw. Just make sure that you’re dressed to the rules if you want to get into the Royal Enclosure.

The Hotel: Highclere Hotel http://www.highclerehotel.com/

A pretty village hotel just a mile from the racecourse, the Highclere is welcoming, friendly and affordable. There’s no bar, but they are fully licensed and can serve drinks to your room. It’s perfect for staying close to the horses and still having money in your wallet when you get to the course.

Cartmel

This is a much smaller racecourse, but it’s fascinating! It has a four furlong run-in, the longest in Great Britain, and brings surprisingly large crowds to this little Lake District village. Races are held between May and August, and other events are held here too.

The Hotel: Grange Hotel – http://www.grange-hotel.co.uk/

The pretty, unspoilt town of Grange-over-Sands is just a short drive from Cartmel, and this beautiful hotel is a great choice. Stunning views, stylish rooms and a fantastic restaurant.

York

York Racecourse is the third biggest racecourse in the country in terms of total prize money offered, and stages three of the country’s Group One flat races – the International Stakes, Nunthorpe Stakes and the Yorkshire Oaks.

The Hotel: Beechwood Close Hotel – http://www.beechwood-close.co.uk/

Set in the Clifton area, just two miles from the racecourse, this hotel offers comfortable guestrooms as well as a welcoming lounge, bar and restaurant. They have their own grounds too, so you can enjoy an evening drink on the lawn.

A Very Scottish Holiday

With all eyes on Andy Murray after his dominance at Wimbledon and talk of a referendum on Scottish Independence, the Saltire has been flying high of late. Scotland is a nation eager to show off its heritage to the rest of the world, so why not take a look. With outstanding natural beauty and rugged landscapes Scotland has some of the best holiday locations right in its back garden. Here is a short list of some the top short breaks Scotland has to offer:

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Golfing Holiday

Fancy yourself a bit of a pro? Scotland boasts some of the most breathtaking courses in beautiful locations across the country. From the splendour of St Andrews and the British Open to a more modest course for the casual golfer, Golf Around Scotland caters for your needs. Making the process as easy as just turning up to play, it’s the perfect way to spend your weekend. Experience golf in its birthplace, the way it was made to be played.

Hunting

The more adventurous holiday makers need look no further, Scotland boasts some of the best hunting holidays the world has to offer. If you want to add some adrenalin to the outstanding backdrop of the Scottish highlands then a specialised hunting holiday would be the perfect choice. Hunting Scotland offers an array of specialised hunting experiences to suit your requirements. The dedicated staff will work to ensure every aspect of your hunt will be catered to your liking, with guides and experienced hunters at hand to assist in showing you the best of Scottish game. By combining the thrill of the chase with the best Scottish scenery and hospitality, you’ll be sure to come away with a prize memory.

Relaxing Country Breaks

If a more laid back break is more your cup of tea, then simply enjoy the countryside for its tranquillity and grace. Take in the many lochs and ranges and retreat back to the open fire for a glass of whiskey and a wholesome meal. You don’t even have to ‘rough it’, the Scottish countryside boasts some beautiful modern accommodation to allow you to experience the outdoors in style and, more importantly comfort. Take a look at this Guardian article to sample some of the beautiful resorts, scattered across this varied and exceptional country.

So take a step back from the fast paced cities and experience the other side of Scotland in all its natural splendour. The Scottish outdoors has a wealth of activities to meet your every whim, so get back to nature and enjoy this beautiful country the way it was meant to be seen.

Cheap, Cheerful, Travelling Accommodation!

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Travelling has always been popular especially amongst students or post-grads that are out there to experience the world a little before settling down into a job and a home. Travelling can be very expensive but it doesn’t have to be! There are many ways to travel about the world without having to break the bank with supplies and accommodation. If you’re thinking about going on a worldly trip here are a few accommodation options and methods of travel that might be of some use!

Hostels

Hostels are cheap, cheap, cheap! You will find a hostel almost everywhere in the world and they are extremely popular amongst the avid travellers! Hostels offer a bed to sleep in, often breakfast and also showering facilities. In peak seasons it is important to research the hostels to ensure they have a bed free for you to stay. Hostels are a great way to meet other people who are travelling just like you, and who knows you may pick up a friend or two while you spend time in the place that you are currently in! If you are planning to stay there a while, ask the hostel owners if they could use a hand in return for a free bed and breakfast, this way you are living for free and you get to know the locals and the guests. The more connections you make can aid you when you move on, such as staying in someone’s house that you have met, therefore always thinking ahead! Click here for a list of hostels and price ranges worldwide.

Couchsurfing

With making new friends and connections in mind, couch surfing is a great way to stay places for free! It is an online community of travelling people from all over the world and it is exactly what it says on the tin. You know your desired location, and by signing up to the community you can find people who are willing to host you for a night or two in their home. This is particularly great if you are unsure of the area that you are going to and by staying with a local they can teach you about the culture and the way of life of their town. Always remember SAFETY FIRST therefore if the person you are staying with does not appear to have good intentions leave immediately, and ALWAYS tell someone where you are staying, who you are staying with and the address. This is also necessary in case of emergencies. Click here to learn more about the Couchsurfing community.

Motor Homes

If you’re taking a road trip, a motor home is an investment worth making. Road trips cost a lot in fuel, and the last thing you need on top of this is accommodation also! Investing in a motor home means your accommodation is sorted as it is attached to your vehicle! There are a range of different motor homes available in style and size therefore you can design it to suit how many people will be going and the amount of space and beds you will need. If it’s travelling to a different country, or just to the local caravan site where you can set up camp these are great for this use. Campsites and mobile home sites usually offer a motor home section for you to stop for the night at a small price. Travelling this way is fantastic if you are taking children along with you, as it also becomes a funner experience for them. For more information and for a full range of motor homes and services click here.

Canal Boat Hire

If you fancy something a bit more extravagant and different hire a canal boat for your holiday! This gives you an opportunity to sail to different places by the canals, and you have your live in accommodation too! Canal boats come in all different sizes and styles therefore you can have it as big or as fancy as you wish. This is another fun one if you’re travelling with kids, but if you’ve been travelling on trains and planes and just want to spend peaceful time away from all the hectic transports, a canal boat is definitely an option for you. Click here for boat hire in the UK, which will give you an idea of the price range available and the boats available for this kind of travelling.

House Sitting

This is exactly what you think it is! If you don’t fancy a boat, a motor home or a hostel and would rather stay in a hotel but can’t afford it, house sitting is perfect for you! You arrange to stay in someone’s house for free and in doing so there are certain things that they will need you to do, for example look after their pet. Similar to this would be house swapping, where you stay in that person’s house and they stay in yours for free. This is a nice way of travelling for comfort, or if you wish to travel one place at a time and return home. There are lots of websites out there that offer these services click here for more information about house sitting.

These are only a few of the money saving ways to travel however far or near the places are that you want to visit! For more ideas on free and cheap ways to travel check out this article on 15 Ways to Travel.

Ready To Travel?

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Are you really ready to travel?

I have just booked and paid for 6 weeks travel in Australia in the summer! I am very excited and cannot wait to travel! But am I really ready to travel?

I will be travelling from Cairns all the way down the coast to Melbourne and then across the county to Perth, I want to experience as much as I possibly can whilst I’m there, from the gorgeous beaches to the buzzing nightlife and varied wildlife!

This will require a lot of planning and I am aware and ready for that. There is so much to think about from Visa to travel money, accommodation to food and drink. The other thing I really need to take care is my health to ensure that I am in the best shape I can be for my travels, I would hate to get ill whilst I’m out there and miss out on experiences because of that.  So I have got a plan to ensure I am really ready to travel!

Skin – Everyone knows how important it is to protect your skin from the sun by wearing protective clothing and creams. Check out the SunSmart homepage for more information on how to protect your skin in the sun: Cancer.org.

Eyes – Sunglasses are essential to make sure you protect your eyes from the sun’s harmful rays at all times.

Teeth – I have been having real problems with my teeth recently, and wanted to get them sorted before I went traveling, because the last thing I wanted was to be relaxing in paradise but suffering from a massive headache thanks to my teeth! To try and avoid any issues I had my wisdom teeth removed last month, at Manor Dental Care, who I would recommend to anyone needing oral surgery Manchester. I have been pain free since; now all I’ve got to do is remember to pack my toothbrush and toothpaste so I can look after them!

Clothes – I need to ensure that I pack enough of the right clothes, so that I will have enough to last me the 6 weeks, without overloading my rucksack to the point where I can’t carry it!

So once I have got all of my travel money through and my Visa and everything in place, I will just need to pack my bag and then I’m ready to get on the plane and jet of to the other side of the world, wish me luck!

Paris: On Our Doorstep

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I have just returned from one of the most surreal and enviable experiences of my life. My good friend Bryony posted on Facebook that she was taking a trip to Paris to look at some inner city properties and asked if anyone wanted to join her. Of course the post was bombarded with eager requests, jokes, and statements of disbelief, but she was in earnest. Her parents are of course incredibly rich, but despite prejudices Bry is an exceptionally hard worker who earns her own keep. Well, maybe not all the time, but extending her theatre company to Paris required a new living space, and to my surprise only a few of us had genuinely meant to come along. I booked the Friday off work and packed up my stuff for the trip. I was eager to see some of the live music clubs in Paris and slunk my guitar on my back just in case. I had only visited Paris once and didn’t get the chance to see many of the popular tourist attractions as listed here, so this was going to be good no matter what.

It was too early to think when we arrived at Paris, so when me and our friends Jon and El followed Bry to a limousine outside the airport, I initially thought little of it. Unbeknownst to me, Bryony wasn’t taking us to see just any Paris apartments: we were heading to the 16th District, home to some of the most expensive apartments in Paris. Bry had searched for Paris apartments for sale online and booked her viewings with Home and Prestige after falling in love with their exquisite properties. They were the ones who sent the limo too, talk about first class!

Paris is split into twenty districts, each with something new to offer, but the 12th and 16th “arrondissements” are particularly well-known for their beautiful suburban parks: the closest one to us being the Bois de Boulogne. As we marvelled at the sleek Parisian interiors of the apartments, and then back outside to gawp some more at the City of Lights, I got me thinking about how often we take the time to visit our European cousins. Bry hadn’t paid for my flight and it was a lot cheaper than I had thought, even leaving me with some little cash for spends. Not everyone can afford a luxury Parisian apartment, but even the cheaper apartments in the 18th district looked out to the Montmatre which houses the illustrious Sacré Coeur. All this is a short plane ride away and I’ve been kicking myself since for not visiting Paris more than once.

Friends in high places are a new level of fun, but I admit I had nothing to offer when it came to making a decision on any of the illustrious properties we had seen. After a bit of evening shopping and consulting, Bry demanded that I perform for her: what a diva. I’d taken a look at some of the live music bars Paris had to offer and settled on Les Combustibles, a jazz/blues bar in the 12th district. We had an absolutely incredible evening; the acts were just brilliant, and I didn’t do too badly myself, for an Englishman. There is something truly magnifique about authentic French music, especially in the heart of Paris.

I was very sad to leave, until I remembered that Bry would be settling the deal as soon as she had organised the correct moving date for her company. Looks like I’ll have a good excuse to see more of Paris very soon and I sincerely recommend paying a visit to our European neighbours.

Physical Context: The Difference between a Hotel and a Holiday Cottage

If you have ever seen the movie The Holiday, you will remember the snowy little cottage in Surrey that Kate Winslet’s advertises online as ‘up for swap’. When Cameron Diaz consequently arrives at the little cottage she struggles to acclimatise to the British climate and far more simplistic lifestyle that the little cottage supports. Diaz’s character finds herself desperate to escape. Her feelings dramatically change when she meets a man with whom she falls in love (sorry to ruin it for anyone!) and maybe few watchers notice the first time round, but as Diaz’s character begins falling in love with this man (played by Jude Law) she begins to enjoy, even find comfort in the things about the little cottage and England which at first distressed. Both Diaz and Winslet’s character go on a sort of journey discovering new things about themselves through swapping their homes.

While it might seem a little odd to try and push the virtues of holiday cottages over hotels by telling anyone that the holiday home can be an acquired taste, like many red wine drinkers or pongy cheese eaters attest, it is taste well worth acquiring. Had Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz have been two characters who attempted to escape their lovelorn realities through booking into a Premier Inn or a motel or even some wonderful four star fancy hotel, rather than swapping homes, I don’t imagine the film would’ve made it to production, never mind completion. There would have been no story to tell, or if there had it would most likely be a story about how wonderful the hotel was rather than how enlightening the experience was.

So, like in the movie, I favour a holiday home or cottage to a hotel. For me there is no story, no adventure to be had by simply by booking into a hotel; even if the hotel is particularly beautiful or the hoteliers particularly good story tellers, the problem for me is that I want to discover my own story, not be spoon fed other peoples; I want to be a part of the story rather than an audience member. I want to escape the hustle and bustle of business, not enter one…even as a guest.

From the depth of the window sills which, like rings in a tree, provide a clue as to the age of a cottage to the little touches that hint at who may have formally been living in the place like whispered secrets. I remember while staying in one holiday cottage in Cornwall, like those provided by DuchyHolidays, actually discovering notches in a kitchen wall beside an old stone fire place. Running my finger over these little bumps was like discovering a fossil or shell you discover at the beach as a child; you don’t fully understand where they come from or what they mean, but somehow you’re awestruck by their being. If someone found chunks of wall missing in their hotel room you’d probably only hear about it in the form of a furious review on a site such as Trip Advisor. Yet, this is my point about the difference context can make.

Hotels for me are too eager to sponge away any sign anyone else has resided within them. For me the difference between clean and well maintained accommodation and sterile, depersonalised accommodation is exactly that; hotels lack the personality and authenticity a holiday cottage provides. I step into a holiday cottage and I feel like I’m waking up beside someone I love; that moment of being a part of something so intimate and special unperceived by anyone or anything but each other fills me with awe; I am free to understand or misunderstand my life for this small amount of time and adventure as I please; I am free to who I am, and who I truly am happens to be someone who enjoys the nooks, crannies and sometime surprises of a Cornish cottage. I delight in the perfect, little imperfections that make things and people lovable. It is like getting to know someone for the first time, and sometimes even falling in love. And that, for me, describes the perfect holiday.