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05 July 2008

Scottish self catering accommodation

I have already blogged about Bank of Self Catering - oddly the only part
of Scottish accommodation where you have to send a large portion of your
booking costs up front to book it and then the balance well before you
show up - unlike serviced accommodation which is a small amount to book
it and then usually the balance when you leave. This is despite
self-catering being in high demand and easily resellable. On top of
banking my cash for months, they then take credit card charges as well
(at least they did when I worked at VisitScotland), something serviced
accommodation didn't do.

I think Bank of Self Catering Ltd are calling too many shots here. What
I want is to put down a deposit to book the place (equivalent to the
likely profit they make from the booking) and then pay the balance by
credit card the week I turn up. No credit card charges either.

However this bank of self catering Ltd pales into insignificance next to
the standard of accommodation offered. I have stayed in decent hotels in
the middle of London that cost a similar amount than Scottish shoddy
self catering, yet offer so much more. Like clean sheets, new
mattresses, breakfast thrown in. You can use a mobile phone, free
broadband, room cleaned daily.

Self catering is so much more basic, yet still costs as much.

I write this from one such place. There is dirt round the fridge door.
The mattress smells. The duvet cover is dirty. There was no mention on
the schedule of there being no freezer. There was no mention on the
schedule of there being no shower. Only one bedroom has heating. The
kitchen smells. There is no change of linen available. In a weird set of
priorities there is a Sky box, but no freezer (excepting the one with a
'broken' sign on it).

Frankly I stayed in better as a student. At least the halls of residence
had a shower and extra pillows. Fortuntalely I have two phones, because
there's minimal coverage on Orange, pretty fundamental if you're
somewhere remote and this is your only line of communication. Having
rooms with "use at your own risk" on the door is not great either.

Benefits I'd get in a hotel such as broadband? forget it - I can't even
plug a video recorder into the TV to record programmes when we're out.

All this for a 350 advance payment months ago and another 350 advance
payment weeks ago, it's simply not good enough.

I stay in hotels about 200 nights a year and the sort of tired and dirty
accommodation you get in self catering places would not be accepted in
the serviced accommodation business. You get more thrown in and your
don't have to pay 100% well in advance. You usually also get decor that
is somewhat contemporary rather than decor and wiring that looks like
it's just escaped from the 1950s.

There are exceptions, however, we stayed in Self Catering Accommodation
in Armadale on the Isle of Skye: which was
excellent and we returned several times. They promised to be a home from
home and delivered on the promise, unlike so much of the rest of the
Scottish self catering market.

Get your act together otherwise we, and the rest of the visitors you
expect to get will go elsewhere.

The ideal self catering search would offer
Which mobile networks are available from the property
Can you leave payment until the week before.
Are credit cards accepted without penalties
Is there a working fridge
Is there a working freezer
is there a working washing machine
Is there a working tumble drier
Proper pictures of every room
A link to a location map (unlike which only offers
this for some listings, rather useless to the visitor unfamiliar with
placenames and locations)
I'm sure I could go on. The search options for self-catering are pretty
woeful online, even worse than Serviced Accommodation

When is the accommodation business going to get its act together?


Craig Cockburn ("coburn"). Director, Ltd
Web project manager and Internet specialist. CITP. C.Eng

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