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Forecasts in the UK are suggesting that temperatures are set to continue to rise over the coming year and as Britain lurches towards an uncertain future with our relationship with Europe, is it perhaps time to look again at England as a holiday destination of choice? According to research by the Resolution Foundation in 2017, there were 5.2 million people (1 in 10 UK adults) who had more than one home and 79% of those were renting the second home out – either as holiday lets or more long-term rentals as a means of saving for their retirement or to fund care homes for elderly relatives.

We are now used to, and more comfortable with, the Airbnb concept which was first launched in the US in 2008 whereby you can rent either an entire property or just a room in someone’s house instead of opting to stay in a hotel. Now, some 11 years on, Airbnb have over 6 million rooms listed in over 81,000 cities across the world. London has 77,000 listings on Airbnb which is a four-fold increase since 2015 and prompted Mayor Sadiq Kahn to call for a greater enforcement of the 90-night maximum rental for short-term property lets to protect the long-term rental market in London.

Whatever the reason for wanting to let a property, it’s clear that it is a crowded market place and the internet means that potential hirers have a plethora of sites to browse to pick their ultimate getaway, so it needs to be something more than a trip to Ikea to stock up on throws and the latest flat pack essentials if you are truly going to stand out from the crowd.

One boutique holiday letting agency Mulberry Cottages, which specialises in luxury, design-led properties, saw a staggering 71 per cent rise in short-break bookings made in January and February 2019 compared to the same period in 2018 across the whole portfolio.

With online curb appeal being key to influencing guests to stay a property, a select group of Mulberry Cottages property owners and interior designers have shared their expertise on how to maximise the visual appeal of your holiday home.

Set a theme

Captain Quarters, located in Margate on the Kent coast, boasts a nautical theme as a nod to its location and has been designed to resemble a sea captain’s accommodation. Regency bay windows with sea views give the impression to guests that they are standing on the bridge of a ship and a tropical themed bathroom has been decorated to juxtapose the calm serenity of the rest of the house and includes wooden decking as flooring, wicker baskets and butterflies, birds and vines on the walls. “I wanted it to feel like the ship had docked at an exotic island and you were stepping out onto the deck,” explains property owner Liz. To pay tribute to the local area, Captain Quarters also features carefully selected artwork by famous local Margate resident JMW Turner.

Captain’s Quarters

Think differently

Francesca Rowan Plowden, the interior designer behind Battel Hall in Maidstone, Kent, and Goodnestone Park in Goodnestone, Kent, recommends looking at a holiday home differently to your usual home interior design. Owners should think about what the property will be used for, for example if it is likely to be booked for weddings then there needs to be space to hang a wedding dress.

Francesca says, “How a property functions in your day to day life is different when compared to a rental. A holiday let cannot be too cluttered, so look at the things that are no longer needed. For example, a property I was transforming into a holiday let had three wardrobes, but a holiday home doesn’t need that many wardrobes as no one is living there or needs that much storage space.”

Goodnestone Library – Goodnestone Park

Create an experience

Guests want an experience that they won’t get at home. You do not have to create a home that a guest will want to live in, it doesn’t need to be practical, but it must create a memorable experience. Amy Gardner, owner and interior designer of Bells Cottage in Tenterden, Kent, says, “You need to be imaginative and fun. A holiday let doesn’t necessarily need a kitchen as well as a dining room so why not turn the dining room into a games room for guests.”

Bell’s Cottage

Pay tribute to its origins

Every house has a story to tell. Mulberry Cottages property La Gallina, which is Spanish for ‘The Hen’, is a former chicken house in the owner Soujata’s childhood home in Hartfield, Sussex, which has been transformed into a luxury holiday home. Soujata has paid tribute to the building’s former residents with subtle pieces throughout the home, including chicken themed coat hooks, candle holders, ornaments, and an early Emma Bridgewater chicken tea set. Soujata says, “We haven’t changed the lay-out at all, the bedroom is where the chickens roosted. I wanted to keep as many original features as possible.”

La Gallina

Mulberry Cottages boasts over 600 handpicked, self-catering properties in England. Properties range from countryside manor houses and chocolate box cottages to beachside retreats to city centre apartments, over half of which are pet-friendly.

Book at mulberrycottages.com or by calling 01227 464958

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