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Don’t fall at the last hurdle - the last things you buy can be the most important

Written by Simon Tolson on

I often spend a lot of time with an owner as they reach the end of a long refurbishment and it sometimes feels as though I’m as much a therapist as a consultant.  Inevitably the project is running late, one tradesman is holding up another and costs have been added at every stage so the budget has taken a battering.

It’s right at this point that the shopping needs to be done for all the last things to get ready for guests.  Perhaps there is a spreadsheet with a long list of small appliances, furnishings & pictures needed with a very big number at the bottom.

As the punch drunk owner heads out to the shops or settles down in front of the screen they are tempted to cut down on a few things and before you know it they are on a roll and hundreds or even a thousand pounds have been saved.

Now whilst you can definitely go over the top with buying the best of everything the items in a holiday let are heavily used by people who are not familiar with them and the old adage of buy cheap buy twice will often come into play.  There are areas where savings can be made without too much compromise- blow up some of your own photos, simple hoover, ordinary frying pans, plain crockery, quality but second hand suite but there are some things that you’ll wish you spent a bit more on.

Here’s my top things to think carefully about before a downgrade:

Kettle & toaster-

I’m not sure why these bother me so much, perhaps because they tend to feature in the kitchen photos so affect marketing as well as guest experience.  A posh matching pair will go a long way towards projecting an air of quality and a cheap set will transmit that you’re treating the place as second best.


Don’t be tempted- you’ll be replacing a cheap set after a few months.  I’m a big fan of Stellar saucepans which are all stainless.  My first one was a wedding present in 1986 and I still use it 3 or 4 times a week.


Cheap cutlery is not that much cheaper and it really feels like you’re giving people second best.  Make sure there’s plenty as 6 of each just won’t do!


If you must compromise then just get two really good sharp ones, big & small and a breadknife.


if you can get superfast then do so- one of the cheapest marketing wins you can get and before you ask yes it should be unlimited, your guests will use it a lot.

Outside furniture-

I have real sympathy here as there doesn’t seem to be a lot of middle ground, cheaper bolt together with metal fixings that rust or very expensive but beautiful teak that’ll last for decades.  I am quite a fan of the newer rattan style sets that seem to be lasting well where we have them.


Even in a small cottage you must have a full size tv- 32’’ is my suggested minimum.  They are really not that expensive nowadays and a smart one will deliver even more value. The age of the dvd is nearly over so you can sometimes buy a lod very cheaply and when housed in an inexpensive bookcase they look good and provide something practical for the guest.

Don’t falter, keep going, give your wallet one last squeeze and you’ll probably end up spending less in the long run and you’ll be so much happier when you look around the place in a few months when you arrive for that first proper holiday.

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Making great holidays happen in Cornwall