Hello, it’s Edmund from Landed Houses. This article should help you find that perfect country house for your party or wedding. It is a small industry round-up, talking about my competitors, things they are good at, and things to watch out for.
Tips to Find a Country House
Decide what’s important to you, price or time.
Whilst this might seem an odd question, the country house industry is split between ‘agents’ and ‘directories’. In a hurry? You might find agents jump quicker. Making the most of your budget? You might find a better deal using a directory.
- Agents do the finding for you, will check availability and come back with options. They can also arrange activities.
- Agents almost always charge 10-20% commission, taking a cut from what you pay for the ‘stay’ and passing the remainder over to the house. It’s expensive to provide a good service, enquiries that are successful need to fund lots of enquiries that go dead.
- Although the commission is unlikely to be transparent to you, it does mean that the house earns less and you have less room to negotiate.
- You might get less choice. Some houses (particularly those that are well established) refuse to work with agents and only deal direct.
- If you find a house via an agent’s website, it might be possible to find the ‘real name’ and go direct. Beware agents don’t like it (for obvious reasons) and you are much better to go direct before making an enquiry. Try searching for the house’s image using Google image search, look at maps, search for keywords you find in the article (‘large Georgian house to rent near Bath’) and so forth.
- Examples of agents include Kate and Toms, The Wow House Company and Oliver’s Travels. AirBnB charge commission to both the guests and the house, which can prove prohibitively expensive on large properties and there is no ‘personal service’.
- Directories are ‘portals’ (think Yellow Pages) which allow you to search for a property that meets your requirements. Portals charge houses an annual fee and allow bookings to directly from visitors to houses.
- Finding somewhere is time-consuming, particularly if you’re booking a stay within the next six months.
- There is usually no ability to search by date because there are lots of houses (in my experience, about half the market) that do not publish availability. The onus is therefore on you to reach out to houses to inquire about availability.
- Once you’ve found a few houses that fit your requirements, contact them either via the houses’ websites or via the portal contact form. (Use the form on the page you saw the house on, not a generic company contact form.) The form on Landed Houses’ house pages goes directly to the house owner’s inbox. Hooray!
- By contacting a house directly you should automatically receive a good rate. If you have a few options and a strong preference for one which is beyond budget, you can always telephone and ask whether they can do anything on the price. Be reasonable and, if you are, there’s no harm in asking. Before you negotiate too hard, remember most houses are occupied for most of the year and there are often multiple enquiries for the same date.
- Landed Houses is focussed on large houses in the UK. Other examples of directories include The Big Domain and Group Accommodation, which both larger, international and offering different levels of accommodation, e.g. bunkhouses. You can also try Big Cottages. Wedding-focussed directories can be useful too, although it can be hard to find private houses vs hotels.