For many years, self-catering and holiday rentals were associated with budget travel. Providing a bolt-hole for groups of adventurers, holiday homes were primarily a place to sleep and cook, functional spaces from which you headed out and about. Of course, there is still a market for this. Budget travellers will always consider accommodation as a necessary but purely incidental part of their explorations, with price and functionality coming first. Another group of travellers, who may have previously been more inclined towards hotels, are beginning to be drawn by the stylish and luxurious surroundings of a new breed of high-end holiday homes.
With even middle range hotels making the particular experience they offer an integral part of people’s holidays – creating an atmosphere through interior design, culture and service – it makes sense that the holiday home and self-catering industry would go this way too. The exclusive luxury holiday homes provided by companies such as The Hideaways Club even offer cleaning and concierge services, reflecting the convenience of a hotel but with more freedom to treat the accommodation as a home. This gives people the opportunity to become immersed in a lifestyle, rather than simply being on holiday.
For those whom the accommodation is very much part of the holiday experience, some holiday homes are so distinct that they could become the main attraction for choosing that location in the first place. This is evident in extraordinary holiday rentals in the form of treehouses, gypsy caravans, converted railway carriages and many others. Here people can experience unique culture, exceptional architecture and idiosyncratic interior design without even stepping outside their front door. This reflects people’s desire for authentic, unusual experiences, with designers and holiday park owners looking for ever more creative ways to catch people’s attention.
Extraordinary attention to detail is paid in these spaces to create the atmosphere which people are buying into. Seaside locations, for example, tend to look like how people would picture their ideal life by the sea, while the interior design of an Italian villa conveys a beautiful life led enjoying wine and sunshine. Far from only being a base from which to explore the charms of a holiday destination, these homes need to speak to the fantasies people have about the area, becoming an intrinsic part of the experience.
There appears to be a desire in the high-end yet rustic style of these holiday homes, from shepherd’s huts to rentable castles, for an original experience as far away from the everyday as possible – although somehow still entrenched in it. While hotels offer an escape and a break from real life, holiday homes such as these let you experience a romantic and magical alternative life instead. Whether you’re playing out childhood dreams in a fairy-tale treehouse or relaxing in the luxury of a French chateau, holiday homes are no longer simple accommodation, but places to feed your imagination.