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Harbourside Holiday Cottages Blog

In the beginning

Welcome dear readers!

Please allow us to introduce ourselves. We are Martin and Sandra, owners, advertisers, cleaners and the persons responsible for almost all other aspects of running our holiday lets 'wren' and 'stables' cottages in Whitby.

Although it was 2010 before we bought wren cottage, our holiday letting story starts in the Summer of 2004, when we had a wonderful stay at the Bats and Broomsticks b and b in Whitby over a weekend in August. Kev and Tish are lovely, so if it's a bed and breakfast you're looking for, you should definitely look them up on the search engine of your choice, we guarantee you won't be disappointed. Neither of us had been to Whitby since we were kids some 35 years earlier and the visit made us wonder why we had left it so long. We had a wonderful time exploring the town, steeped in history with it's friendly folk, going for long walks to Sandsend and exploring the pubs and restaurants. It was to be the start of many happy visits over the next few years and our affection for Whitby never waned and remains just as strong to this day. We found we were probably visiting the town 4 or 5 times a year and as time went on, it started to occur to us that it would be lovely to be able to buy a little place to call our own.

So, early in 2010, we started looking at properties. We viewed a couple on the West Cliff that were great but eventually fell in love with little 'Wren Cottage' on the older East side and contacted the owner to arrange a trial stay. I suppose we could have arranged with the estate agent just to have a viewing but we wanted the full experience, so we booked a 2 night stay over the weekend. We made the drive from our home which is just South of York, up the A64, across the beautiful North York Moors on the A169, down Blue Bank into Sleights (test those brakes!) then finally into Whitby itself. People are often suprised that we still do the changeovers ourselves, given that the round trip is nearly 120 miles, but I (Martin), really enjoy the drive and find that any of my daily worries just slip away as our little car negotiates the twisting turns and undulations across the moors.

Anyway, back to the story... After a little hunting we found the perfect parking spot on the Ropery and excitedly hurried down Salt Pan Well Steps.

We loved wren cottage from the moment we set eyes on it. The grade 2 listed building was built more than 200 years ago and we could really feel all that history in every nook and cranny, from the outside loo building, now used as an outhouse for storage purposes to the split front door, which we find is ideal for 'hanging out of' with the beverage of your choice on a morning. Apparently the building was originally an Inn for smugglers and other ne'er-do-wells who we could imagine fleeing from the many doors when the local constabulary called.

 Feeling thoroughly recharged after a great weekend at wren cottage, we put in an offer, which was rejected. Undeterred we left it a couple of weeks, then put in a higher offer which was fortunately accepted. The purchase went smoothly and the previous owners were very helpful, leaving all sorts of stuff so that we only needed to make a minimum of purchases to keep the cottage going as the successful holiday let that it already was and had been since 2001. We followed the previous owners lead and placed an advert in the Dalesman magazine and set about the previously unexplored business of building this website, which has evolved quite a lot of the years.

We took our first booking in November 2010 and despite numerous worries, things have gone mainly smoothly ever since...There have been a few hiccups, but what business or indeed area of life doesn't get those from time to time? We stopped advertising in traditional print sometime in 2011 because it was proving too expensive for the number of enquiries gained. Since then, we've taken the vast majority of our bookings on the internet which generally come from our paid advertising on the Whitbyonline and Whitby websites, or searches on Google direct to our website or our Google business page.

Second Coming

 We never expected to ever own a holiday home so it was quite a suprise in 2011 when the opportunity arose to possibly expand and buy another.

The 'stables cottage' had been on the market for quite a while and we were quite lucky to get it for a bit of a knock down bargain price. The downside being that whereas wren cottage was largely 'ready to go' as a holiday let, 'the stables' needed quite a lot of work.

We had the place surveyed and were told that the electrical system was a bit 'Fred Flintstone', so we employed a local electrician to banish the dinos and fit a new consumer unit.

In the first year we decorated everywhere, fitted new heaters, replaced all kitchen drawer and door fronts, replaced most of the furniture and carpets and had new exterior doors and windows all replaced sympathetically with classic looking upvc. Since then, we've also invested in a new shower suite. The ceiling is quite low in the the shower room meaning that with the added height of the old shower tray, folk taller than about 5ft 10 would have their heads on the ceiling which was far from ideal so in 2016 we had a new loo and recessed tray shower fitted so that now, even a six footer can shower unimpeded...with only a little contortion required for beanpoles taller than that!

Our business model is quite unusual in that we have to factor in quite a lot of 'fuel and tyres' compared to holiday let owners that live closer to their properties or employ cleaners and management, but we knew that it might work well providing we could clean both properties when we do need to come for a changeover.

That more or less brings us up to date, expect the next section of the blog to be more about Whitby and forthcoming events, thank you for reading.