The Netherlands is stuffed full of places where you can rent a cottage for a few days to get away with friends and family. Center Parcs is, after all, a Dutch invention. But there are a few things you should be aware of before you get too excited.
It looks so great on the website – that May holiday bargain cottage for four, which will cost you just €319 for three nights. But, as we at DutchNews.nl have all discovered to our cost, there are some things you may find out the hard way when renting a Dutch holiday home.
That bargain price of €319 may not all it seems. You may notice the little asterisk or the small print which point out that this price does not include compulsory additional costs.
If you are booking through a holiday company you will probably be asked to pay reservation costs – adding between €20 and €30 to the invoice. Then will come taxes and possibly a deposit. Tourist taxes are upwards of €3 or €4 per person a night.
But there is more. What about the exact location? Center Parcs, for example, will charge you an extra €33 to pick your location – so you can decide if you want the view of the lake or to be next to the car park.
Then there is the question of the bed linen. How many of us have failed to notice we have to ask for bed linen in advance and pay an extra €7 or €8 for the privilege of not bringing our own sheets on holiday?
You may well find that the sheets you have ordered are just placed on your bed and you will have to make it up anyway.
You will also be asked to pay extra if you can’t be bothered to bring your own towels. It might be worth doing so if you like more than a postage stamp to dry yourself on.
And then, you may find added on to your bill the dreaded eindschoonmaak, the end cleaning, which will cost you upwards of €60. This may be presented as optional – which means they will expect you to scrub the bathroom and get the burnt bits off the cooker if you decide not to pay.
Even if there is no extra charge (and there usually is) you will still be asked to strip the beds (even if you used their sheets) and leave your cottage bezemschoon (broom clean).
What you need to bring
Apart from your bed linen, towels and drying up cloths, there are a number of things you will need to bring with you.
If you are renting from a private owner it is probably worth asking if there are basics like washing up liquid and salt and pepper in the kitchen. Often you will find the house stripped of everything…. right down to any extra loo rolls.
And don’t think you are being nice by leaving the salt, pepper and washing up liquid you ended up buying for the next person. It will be taken away by the person who does the eindschoonmaak to add to the enormous collection of half-empty pots and bottles they have in their garage.
Coffee filters, a sharp knife or two, dishwasher tablets and a washing up brush should also be on your list of essentials.
We have stayed in holiday cottages which you have to clean before you start your holiday because they are so dirty (presumably left that way by people who decided to do it themselves rather than pay for the eindschoonmaak).
We once rented a house in Friesland and decided it was being illegally rented out by the neighbours after the owner died and no-one had noticed. It had not been updated since the pre-war years – which is great if you like yellow lino on the floor and ancient moth-ridden quilts on your bed.
We have also been surprised by the half bottle of wine left in the fridge which was only half full.
Also, beware of the one bedroom cottage that sleeps four. The sofa in the sitting room/ kitchen is the other bed.
How to find your holiday cottage
If you’ve got small children who need entertaining, the big holiday parks like Center Parcs and Landel Green Parks have swimming polls and other stuff laid on.
There are also loads of Dutch websites which rent out on behalf of private landlords as well as well as the Airbnbs of this world.
Staatsbosbeheer, the Dutch forestry commission rents out holiday houses – often really in the middle of nowhere. Not cheap
Natuurhuisje.nl specialises in rural lettings and gives all in prices
Strandhuisjes.nl focuses on beach huts
Bellavilla is a bit more upmarket and the prices are all inclusive
We’ve always had good results using the local tourist office – the VVV. They are happy to give you personal advice if you have specific needs and know their localities and their landlords.
DutchNews.nl has been free for 12 years, but now we are asking our readers to help. Your donation will enable us to keep providing you with fair and accurate news and features about all things Dutch.
Donate via Ideal, credit card or Paypal.