9 top tips to book the perfect Devon staycation

Rear view of a couple relaxing on a blanket on a beach as the sun sets in front of them.

Pick the right property and you will be able to relax and enjoy the perfect Devon staycation. - Credit: Neville Stanikk/VisitDevon

EMILY MERCER, marketing manager at leading South West letting agency Helpful Holidays, gives us an insight into the changing world of staycations and offers 9 top tips on booking your dream Devon holiday 

With its spectacular coastline, rugged moorland and numerous sites of interest, it is unsurprising Devon remains one of the most popular holiday destinations in the UK. Like all of the holiday lettings agencies in the region, at Helpful Holidays, the last few seasons have been some of the busiest in our 40-year history. Demand has been at a record level and properties have been booking back-to-back.  

Whilst some might say this is the Covid effect, I believe it is much more than that. Clearly there has been an uplift in the staycation market in recent times, the so-called ‘staycation boom’, but these booking trends had begun in the years prior to Covid-19, and have been merely accelerated by the pandemic.  

Notably, at Helpful Holidays we had already seen a clear shift in booking habits, with people no longer waiting until after Christmas to book their summer break in a Boxing Day sale, or reserving the same holiday home year after year.  

We are now seeing two distinct groups of holidaymakers…those in search of the traditional experience of a one- or two-week-long summer holiday booked in advance, and those who book within eight weeks of their holiday, often for just a short break - sometimes purely to make the most of the good weather forecast for the weekend ahead. In that respect, the staycation market has really changed! 

And it seems this preference for holidaying closer to home is here to stay. At Helpful Holidays, bookings so far this year are 35% up versus the same point in 2019! So, if like many others you are looking to book a holiday in Devon, here are my 9 top tips: 

Couple using laptop to book holiday tickets.

It is best to book your staycation online if at all possible. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

1. Book online if possible, and keep checking for new properties – most websites offer live availability and showcase a letting agency’s full portfolio, including their recently added properties. Around 25 per cent of the UK’s holiday home owners started letting during the pandemic, and with more entering the holiday letting industry daily, if you are struggling to find the right cottage, don’t give up! 

2. Plan ahead for that special break. With many holiday letting agencies providing 24-month availability, if you are searching for a cottage for a special family gathering, celebratory birthday or landmark occasion, choose and book your property early. This is particularly important if you require a large house as they tend to get booked up further in advance. 

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3. Don’t settle for less than the best. With many second home owners now choosing to let their properties as holiday lets in place of long term lets, it really is a holidaymakers’ market, with options to suit all budgets and requirements. Whilst customer demand is high, the holiday properties need to remain competitive in their offering – don’t compromise on quality or style.  

4. Consider booking with an agency who has a local office. Whilst many agencies are owned by national companies, not all provide local teams ‘on the ground’ here in Devon. Those with local offices, like us at Chagford-based Helpful Holidays, have teams on hand 24/7 to problem solve and ensure you enjoy a smooth holiday experience. We can also give first-hand advice on the best places to visit and restaurants to book! 

5. Look at options other than cottages. Glamping is certainly the new camping with a 45 per cent uplift in bookings in 2021. And with a wealth of glamping options available, this is a fun alternative.  

6. Self-catering holidays aren’t just for summer fun. Increasingly Devon is becoming known as a year-round destination, attractive to foodies, nature enthusiasts, beachgoers and festival fans in all seasons. In off-peak months such as May, June and September, the weather can be just as good as the summer but with lower prices. With many cottages offering wood burning stoves, out of season getaways are also understandably popular. 

Interior of a glamping yurt.

Glamping is an increasingly popular Devon staycation choice. - Credit: Hooe's Yurts

7. Consider how much you want to explore. Some travellers, particularly those staying in popular towns such as Salcombe, Dartmouth or Torbay, may wish to ditch their car and spend their holiday exploring on foot. However, for those that wish to go further afield to experience Devon’s diverse coastline and countryside, consider booking earlier to ensure you can secure a property with parking. 

8. For those travelling with pets, several of Devon’s eateries and attractions welcome four-legged friends, but be aware, some of Devon’s most beautiful beaches have dog restrictions from April to October.  

9. Whatever accommodation you choose to stay in, be sure to plan your break, and book any restaurants, activities or experiences you particularly wish to enjoy – especially during the busy summer months. And remember, some of the best experiences in Devon are free, from walking barefoot on the beach, to crabbing on the quayside. 

Closeup of firewood burning in fire.

An open fire is often on the 'must have' list for those booking a Devon staycation. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Top holiday cottage features 

If you are thinking of booking a staycation holiday, but are unsure what makes the best self-catering cottages, here are some of the most popular features Helpful Holiday guests look for: 

Garden 

Wi-fi 

Off-road parking 

Dishwasher 

High chair 

Cot 

Open fire 

Near a pub 

Near a shop 

Ground floor bedroom 

Spotlight on properties 

If you are thinking of holidaying in Devon, quirky properties have seen an increase in popularity. Here are some examples of more unusual getaways: 

Exterior of a modern thatched house.

The Old Smithy is a one-of-a-kind luxury conversion for two. - Credit: Helpful Holidays

The Old Smithy in Luppitt, is a one-of-a-kind luxury conversion for two, bursting with character including a thatched roof, exposed beams and window seats.  

View across a lawn to a cream-coloured country house.

Sandwell Manor is an extraordinary Georgian manor house. - Credit: Helpful Holidays

Sandwell Manor, near Totnes, is an extraordinary Georgian manor house for a family of 14. Nestled in a pretty valley with spectacular rural views, the property even features a croquet lawn, baby grand piano and bar area! 

Kitchen interior of a Devon holiday let.

Primrose Barn has floor to ceiling windows, showcasing the stunning country views. - Credit: Helpful Holidays

Primrose Barn in Doddiscombsleigh is a charming barn conversion in a tranquil location, complete with floor to ceiling windows, showcasing the stunning country views.