As dog owners (really?!) and dislikers of flying, sailing and very hot climates, my good lady and myself are avid fans of the British Cottage Holiday. In fact after many years of such mini-breaks we are veritable connoisseurs.
One of the first things we do on arriving at a new cottage is to seek out the Visitors Book. These little volumes are normally a source of much useful hands-on local knowledge, plus fascinating insights into different people's values and priorities. They are a much more truthful indicator of quality than trip advisor, albeit less useful as the holiday has already been committed.
The best books have running stories where a visitor makes a particular comment and then the next person to stay takes umbrage and contradicts them in the start of a long literary running battle. We once found a 2 year argument about a sofa in a cottage in South Cornwall.
The comments really say more about the authors than the residence and are a wonderful insight for a social psychologist such as myself. Consider the following comment we found a couple of weeks ago at a log cabin in Yorkshire (transcribed word for word):
"Superb lodge - best hot tub we've ever come across - must be used under a clear sky night! Lovely shower nice and spacious (at expense of small kitchen - unfortunately our only gripe!) certainly plan to return!
1. Toilet roll holders within easy reach
2. Wok in kitchen!
3. General selection of knives and slotted serving spoons
4. Bin bag supply (had to use one from another bin for kitchen!)
5. Non creaky headboard on double bed!
6. Spot lamps/ reading lamps on lounge
7. More clothes storage (drawers etc)
8. iPod dock?
PS all in all fantastic place!"