We have just returned from a week’s holiday in Devon where we rented a lovely house in the small town of Kingsbridge from Toad Hall Cottages.
This is our third time using Toad Hall Cottages and we remain quietly impressed. The company specialises in holiday property hire in Dorset, Devon and Cornwall and many of its properties are situated in lovely, picturesque locations.
|Bralo, Kingsbridge courtesy of Toad Hall Cottages|
Our first two hires were of a property called Blue Skies in one of my favourite locations, Noss Mayo, which is about 10 miles from Plymouth.
Devon has a special place in my heart as my parents were both born there and our childhood holidays always involved a stay with our grandparents who lived in Cattedown and Peverell. The Husband has become resigned to the fact that the area is always my first choice of holiday location.
Booking is easy, as you would expect. You simply select the property which interests you and check online availability and pricing. You do have to be quick because the properties are booked well in advance of school holidays and a deposit of one third is payable on booking, plus a security deposit which is refunded 3-4 days on return, provided you have not damaged the property or left it in a mess. The security deposit for Bralo was £175. The balance of your holiday is payable 6 weeks before the start of your booking.
A UK staycation has the reputation of costing more than a comparable holiday abroad but, to us, the benefits of a home-spun holiday far outweigh anything the Costas have to offer – although I am sure we will venture abroad at some point in the near future.
Once you ignore the galling fact that the price of all the holiday rental properties rockets in August (we paid around £1400 for a week) and then sink like a stone again in September (a comparable week would cost £570), the price is actually bearable if you are in a location where much of the entertainment is free and you are not being stung in excess of £50 entrance fees every time you enter a theme park or other similar attraction.
In terms of budget, it is possible to have a cost-effective holiday if you are happy with the simple pleasures of a bucket and spade and an ice cream, provided that the weather holds.
The other thing to remember is that the M5 can resemble a car park at peak periods so if you are travelling to Devon in August you may want to be flexible with the times you travel. It took us over 6 hours to return to Cardiff and on our next trip we may well travel home on the last night (the journey usually takes half that) to avoid numb bottoms and the suspicion that getting out of your car and walking might actually be quicker.
We stayed in “Bralo”, a 4 bedroomed detached property in Kingsbridge which is just a few miles from many great beaches – Thurlestone, Hope Cove, Salcombe, Slapton, Blackpool Sands, Torcross and Bigbury – and that’s without taking into account all the sights of Plymouth and the beauty of Dartmoor which are also practically on your doorstep.
You can access your holiday property from 3 pm in the afternoon and are asked to leave by 10 am on the morning of your departure date.
Bralo has a garage large enough for one standard saloon which you can use but parking is a little difficult as the house is directly opposite a primary school. It being school holidays, this was not a problem although the school was in constant use and I imagine that there would be lots more congestion during school run times.
The property was in immaculate condition and spotlessly clean. The quality of the fixtures and fittings was high (can’t go wrong with John Lewis, can you?!) and everything had been thought of, with the exception of pegs for the washing line and some bathroom cleaner.
Today though, everyone is so health and safety conscious I suspect that these items are deliberately not included.
There was plenty of space for up to 8 people to relax and spread out. The wood burning fire must be lovely in winter.
There’s a generously sized table to accommodate some great family meals when all you want to do is chill in your own space. There are only so many restaurant and pub meals we can take in a week.
One of the things we love most about self-catering is that you have the freedom to choose when and where you eat. Kingsbridge has a range of good local shops plus the ubiquitous Tesco and Morrisons so it’s easy to stock up for at least a couple of meals.
The kitchen was well equipped with a large fridge/freezer, washing machine, dishwasher and double oven.
There were lovely little personal touches everywhere.
There were two twin rooms downstairs both with TVs. My only gripe was that the blinds in the second twin room were too light to prevent the moonlight flooding through. Caitlin and Ieuan managed to share one of the two rooms without killing each other.
There was also a separate toilet with vanity unit and walk-in shower downstairs. The light / air con unit for this was great but if switched on in the middle of the night was rather loud if you were a light sleeper.
Upstairs there were two beautiful bedrooms, one with an ensuite and the other next to a bathroom with a stand-alone bath.
This particular property would work really well for two families or for a family with members of a variety of ages. There is, however, no disabled access and dogs are not welcome at Bralo, although many of Toad Hall Cottages’ other properties do welcome them – you just have to check before you book.
One of Bralo’s main strengths is its lovely garden which has clearly been landscaped and has a dining table to seat 8 in the back garden and a barbecue area in the front.
We loved Bralo and would highly recommend it as a holiday rental for a larger family.
Ieuan loved it so much he made his own mini guide with some charming selfies at the end of it. Alastair Sawday watch out.
You can find more information about Toad Hall Cottages on their website www.toadhallcottages.co.uk and they will also send you a brochure if you prefer. Just call 01503 272303. You can also find Toad Hall Cottages on Twitter and Facebook.
They will certainly be our first choice for our next holiday booking.