Holiday time is precious, which is why so many of us choose to spend it lying atop a sunbed in the Mediterranean.
But UK-based holidays have come a long way since the days of bunk beds and pantomine shows at Butlins. The British countryside is liberally sprinkled with a host of charming and affordable vacation cottages, many of them large enough to accommodate all of your extended family.
There are other advantages to staying at home too. Apart from being cheaper than luxury coastal hotels, you also avoid the hassle of commercial airlines. Instead, you can travel to your destination in your own car, bringing with you all the cargo you need - including the family pet.
Here's our pick of the best holiday cottages in the country.
Coastguard Cottage 3, Devon
South-west England is the UK's leading destination for domestic getaways, and renting your own cottage is the ideal way to take in all of its sights. Devon's Coastguard Cottage 3, a half-hour walk from the coast, is the ideal spot to set up camp, and it costs no more than £900 for the week during the peak holiday season, acommodating a maximum of four guests.
The Old Schoolhouse, Scottish Highlands
While being close to a gastro pub is a prerequisite for many of us, Scotland's Old Schoolhouse - located in the idyllic Highlands - is perfect for those who want to get away from it all (and we're talking no Wi-Fi here). At £1,250 for the week, it's not cheap, but the surroundings are about as good as they get.
Pagham Beach House, West Sussex
A short drive from Chichester, Pagham Beach House is the perfect place to bring a six- or seven-person party. The interior is spacious and open-plan, perfect for hosting family barbecues. It's also situated right on the beach, which means you can happily dip into the sea without having to worry about shivering on your way back home. Costs £2,350 for a week in the summer.
While bringing along the whole family appeals to some, you needn't feel guilty about favouring a romantic getaway for two - and there are few more picturesque places to spend it in the UK than the Northumberland countryisde. Sandhills is a cozy cottage located just a few minutes off the coast, and it's the perfect setting for some quality couple time - especially at just £600 for the week.
Admittedly Cornwall's Praahola deviates just slightly from the traditional British holiday cottage formula, and at nearly £5,000 for a week it's not exactly cheap either. But it's right on the Cornwall coast and boasts a hotel-sized swimming pool in its back garden. It also sleeps some 10 guests, with enough dining space to entertain your extended family, kids and all.
Of course, the beach isn't for everyone. If you favour muddy walks in the countryside, then you could do much worse than Nethergill cottage, located in the heart of the famous Yorkshire Dales. At £655 a week, it's a good price for three- or four-person parties looking to enjoy the great outdoors (although there isn't much on offer for the kids).