A few words about cottage grading…

cottages.com grading

Whether you’re looking for a cosy romantic retreat, a fun-filled family getaway, or somewhere large, lavish and filled with luxury, you’ll find a fantastic selection in over 19,000 holiday properties listed with cottages.com.

All properties listed with cottages.com are visited, inspected and assessed by a team of regional managers.  Properties in England and Scotland are graded using VisitEngland and Visit Scotland’s official criteria.  Properties in Ireland, Wales, France are also graded using comparable standards.

Grading

We don’t accept any new properties that fall under the 3 star grade, so when you book with cottages.com, you’re booking a property that is recommended by holiday industry experts.

Properties are also reviewed by holidaymakers who’ve stayed in them.  Unedited customer feedback is gathered and presented for us through an independent response company called Reevoo.

Their scoring and reviews can be seen alongside properties on the website search result and property listing pages.  We’re incredibly proud that the scores and reviews we display are clear, honest and reflect the comprehensive opinions of people who have genuinely holidayed at the accommodation

When a property receives enough very positive feedback it gains Customers’ Choice status, which means an exceptional experience is in store for holidaymakers who book a stay there.

All this activity helps us maintain a 98% customer satisfaction rate (based on Reevoo feedback from tens of thousands of customers), so your holiday couldn’t be in safer hands.

The Best British Dishes (and where to enjoy them!)

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Fish and Chips

fish and chips

A seaside staple; no visit to the seaside is complete without a trip to the chippie to enjoy what Winston Churchill described as ‘the good companions’.

Fried fish may seem like a traditional British dish, but the idea originated come from Spanish and Portugese refugees who introduced it to the UK. The advent of the railways and trawl fishing meant that fish could be transported easily throughout the country and a trend was born!

Fish and chips are an early example of fusion food with one of the first mentions of chips coming from Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities in 1859. So important are fish and chips to people of the UK that they were one of the few foods never rationed in both World Wars.

Where to enjoy: Many say you get the best fish where you can see the sea. We’d have to agree; there’s nothing like fish and chips at the seaside. Visit Devon for the best regional fish and chips – according to the 2016 National Fish & Chip Awards.

Yorkshire Pudding

Yorkshire puddings

A mainstay of the roast dinner, Yorkshire puddings were invented in the 18th century and originally named ‘dripping puddings’ after the fat that dropped into the pan from roasting meat.

Yorkshire puddings were a lighter variation and originally served as a first course, where diners would fill up on it so they would eat less of the more expensive meat course that followed. Today, only the most devout fan of the ‘Yorkie’ would eat one without an accompaniment of meat, potatoes and gravy – though ‘toad in the hole’ with sausages is an acceptable alternative!

The annual Grassington Festival in the Dales hosts a Yorkshire Pudding World Championships followed by a Grand Yorkshire Pudding Relay Race. If you’re after tips then the Royal Society of Chemistry attempted to define the perfect pudding when they suggested that “a Yorkshire pudding isn’t a Yorkshire pudding if it is less than four inches tall.”

Where to enjoy: The Yorkshire Dales of course!

Cornish pasty

Cornish pasty

While you can enjoy a Yorkshire pudding anywhere in the UK, today if you’re looking to enjoy a traditional Cornish pasty you need to either visit Cornwall or find one that was made there.

In 2011, Cornish pasties were awarded ‘Protected Geographical Indication’ (PGI) status by the European Union. This means that only Cornish pasties shaped like the letter ‘D’, with ingredients of beef, swede, potato and onion and prepared in Cornwall could be sold as such.

This means they can be baked elsewhere, but if you see a Cornish pasty sold in the wild outside of Cornwall it means it will have been made in the far South West corner of England. For the true authentic taste, not to mention a great reason to visit one of the UK’s most stunning locations, we’d recommend visiting Cornwall to enjoy one for yourself.

Where to enjoy: Cornwall of course!

Chicken Tikka Masala

tikka masala

Perhaps a surprising addition, but this delicious delicacy is claimed to have originated in 1970s Glasgow by chef and proprietor of the Shish Mahal restaurant Ali Ahmed Aslam.

According to a tale told to the Hairy Bikers, a Glaswegian bus driver returned his chicken curry saying it was too dry. The chef, on a diet of tomato soup due to a stomach ulcer, added some to the dish, a classic was born and the driver and his friends came back so many times that they put it on the menu!

It’s a long journey from a Glasgow curry house to Westminster, but in 2001 Robin Cook, the British Foreign Secretary, declared that chicken tikka masala is “a true British national dish, not only because it is the most popular, but because it is a perfect illustration of the way Britain absorbs and adapts external influences.” We couldn’t have put it better ourselves!

Where to enjoy: Visit Glasgow for the unlikely home of this classic curry.

Scones

Scones

Britons have the invention of baking powder to thank for the creation of the delicious  scone. One of the most refined eating experiences one could wish to enjoy, before baking powder was added scones were flat, wide as plates and baked on a griddle from unleavened oats.

Once scones could rise they were baked in the oven and the scones we know and love (and eat!) today were born. Sweet scones with cream and jam are a firm favourite, but it’s safe to say that scones are as versatile as they are delicious! Savoury, cheese and many more variations are all available for enjoying.

Where to enjoy: Scones with Devon cream in Devon are to die for!

Pork Pies

Pork Pies

The humble pie can be traced back to Egyptian times, with very basic pies being baked on hot coals. The Greeks then built upon this with the addition of pastry and meat, and this was then taken by the Romans – with the pastry ‘cover’ often thrown away instead of being eaten.

Once pies reached medieval Europe they started to resemble the pies we eat today. The pastry was baked until it was almost inedible (rumoured to have been used by the gentry to feed their servants!) but the filling was normally bird, more specifically, magpie. Hence the name!

Melton Mowbray pork pies gained popularity amongst fox hunters in the late 1700s. The crusts are hand shaped and the pies are baked free-standing, which gives them their unique shape. So unique are Melton Mowbray’s pies that they gained ‘Protected Designation of Origin’ status from the European Union. Only pies made with the specified technique and within a designated area can be labelled Melton Mowbray.

Where to enjoy: Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire is the only place to enjoy pork pie perfection.

Victoria Sponge

Victoria sponge

Rumoured to have been invented in Spain in the mid-16th Century, the common sponge was one of Queen Victoria’s favourite desserts, but with the addition of jam, cream and a light dusting of sugar on top it became the classic we know and love today.

The Victoria sponge is also cooked with extra fat, to ensure an incredibly indulgent dessert. Though the recipe is relatively straightforward, as Marry Berry will doubtless tell you, it’s all about timing and temperature to ensure a good rise and consistency. For that reason many oven manufacturers use the cake recipe to test their products!

Other British recipes named after famous people include peach melba, invented at the Savoy in London in honour of Australian opera singer Nellie Melba (the same chef also invented Melba toast – obviously a bit of a fan!). Beef Wellington was named after the Duke of Wellington, and the common sandwich was named after John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich – who reputedly demanded meat tucked between two pieces of bread from his valet, and thus, a culinary institution was born!

Where to enjoy: Queen Victoria was a great fan of the remote beauty of the Isle of Wight, so enjoying a Victoria sponge amongst the glorious green countryside and gorgeous seascapes seems like a perfect celebration of this classic cake.

Dalbeg Beach, Isle of Lewis

Dalbeg Bay

Andy from Broxburn painted this stunning picture of Dalbeg Beach on his cottages.com break, and we thought we’d share it with you! Located on the northern side of the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, Dalbeg is a lovely sheltered bay with stunning scenery and wildlife. Take a look at our cottages in the region if you fancy finding your own inspiration.

Fun, Food & Frights – 8 of the Best Autumn Festivals

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness…and festivals! The autumn months offer some of the UK’s most fascinating, tasty, unusual, arty and eccentric celebrations.

All you’ve got to do is slip into the party spirit…

1. Indy Man Beer Convention, Manchester

Beer fest

If you’re an architecture aficionado, or a beer drinker…or both, then Manchester’s Indy Man Beer Convention is the festival for you.  Now in its fourth year and held in the Grade II listed, tiled beauty of Victoria Baths on Hathersage Road, it’s probably your only chance to drink craft beer in an empty and exquisitely elegant Edwardian swimming pool. This celebration of the golden drop has been described as intimate, exciting and forward-thinking and showcases beers from the best breweries in the UK, Europe and the USA.

www.indymanbeercon.co.uk    6-9 October 2016

2. Galoshans Festival, Greenock, Scotland

The town of Greenock lies west of Glasgow, in the Scottish lowlands. For two days, every October its streets revive the traditional celebration of Galoshans. Galoshans is the Scots words for ‘guising’ in which people in the west of Scotland would visit each other’s houses at the end of October to perform a play and perhaps enjoy a ‘treat’ if well received. It’s been credited with originating the American tradition of trick or treating. This year look forward to music, dance, visual arts and street theatre from all over Europe and a Halloween Parade with prizes for your wee ones.

www.galoshans.com  28-30 October

3. Cambridge Jazz Festival, Cambridgeshire

Jazz drum

Every November, the romantic university city of Cambridge hosts 12 days of live jazz music. Though perhaps not best known for its jazz scene, the genre thrives in all its guises here. Cambridge Jazz festival organisers particularly want to banish stereotypes and encourage a new audience, especially young people.  Musicians from around the corner, the country and the world have been invited to perform in the city. Expect more ‘out-there’ performances such as jazz poetry, hip hop and gypsy jazz plus big bands and solo artists.

www.cambridgejazzfestival.org.uk   16-27 November 2016

4. Kendal Mountain Festival, Lake District

It’s an outdoor enthusiast’s dream – a festival that’s all about mountains; films about mountains; exhibitions, sports events and top brand equipment. Plus there’s a load of beer and music thrown in, all against the beautiful backdrop of the southern Lakes. The festival aims to ‘inspire more people to explore, enjoy and represent mountains, wilderness and their cultures.’ This year they’ll be showing 70 films, with an international film competition, high profile premieres and lectures from guest speakers. And, if the weather holds, why not strike further into the National Park to experience some mountain magic for yourself.

www.mountainfest.co.uk  17-20 November

5. Slindon Pumpkin Festival, West Sussex

pumpkins

Dear gourd, this is definitely the most unusual festival on our list, perhaps in the whole country! On the southern edge of the South Downs National Park the small National Trust village of Slindon hides a big autumnal secret. For more than 20 years its tiny festival, free to all, has charmed and surprised visitors. The Upton family make amazing art from a vast array of gourds and squashes in remarkable colours; rich reds and oranges, to yellows through to blue hues. The highlight is the huge picture designed entirely from pumpkins and laid out on their barn roof. Previous depictions have celebrated Cinderella, spitfires, dinosaurs and most recently honoured the Shoreham lifeboat.

www.slindonpumpkins.co.uk   Throughout October.

6. Bath Children’s Literature Festival, Somerset

Transporting children into weird and wonderful realms, teaching kids to count or lulling them to sleep; children’s books play a huge role in young lives. Bath Children’s Literature Festival aims both to entertain and to get kids really excited about reading!  Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the festival has featured some of the most famous children’s authors and illustrators, including Jacqueline Wilson, Julia Donaldson and Neil Gaiman. 2016 invites David Walliams and Sir Chris Hoy, amongst others. Expect inspiring readings, crafts, games and, if your child’s favourite author is there…a lengthy wait for an autograph!

www.bathfestivals.org.uk/childrens-literature  1-9 October

7. Gwledd Conwy Feast, Conwy

Conwy

Beginning the festivities with a big bang at its Friday night firework display, the Gwledd Conwy Feast celebrates the best of Wales’ food, music and arts. Marquees resound all weekend with the best music North Wales has to offer. There are cookery demonstrations, entertainment and the most delicious super-fresh, super-local food, such as Conwy mussels, lobsters from the Great Orme headland and charcuterie and cheeses. Add beers, wines and a new Welsh drinks bar and you’ve definitely got a feast on your hands! The setting is cracking too – a medieval castle and picturesque harbour beside the beautiful Conwy estuary.

www.conwyfeast.co.uk    22-23 October

8. Museums at Night, UK-wide

The nights are drawing in and word turns to tales of spooks and sprites and Halloween. So, what better time to prowl around some of the UK’s premier museums, galleries historic buildings and heritage sights…after lights out? The Museums at Night festival is being celebrated all over Britain, in many different ways. Learn about the art of preserving anatomical specimens in Edinburgh, enjoy a child-friendly Slime and Snakes Halloween Party at Sunderland’s Museum and Winter Gardens, explore Powis castle and gardens after sunset or brave a scary sleepover at The Novium in Chichester, if you dare.

www.museumsatnight.org.uk   27-29 October

 

5 Reasons to Visit Norfolk – Inspire & Explore by cottages.com

The team recently visited Norfolk to bring you a selection of some of the best things to see and do in this beautiful part of the UK. Feeling inspired? Start your exploration by taking a look at some of the finest holiday cottages in Norfolk today. Subscribe to our YouTube channel for more great holiday videos.