Dining room and table dressed with pink and silver birthday balloons
Buffet on dining room table
Dining Room Table set for dinner

It’s the time of year when many of us start planning for the year ahead. It’s always good to have something to look forward to in the cold and dark winter months.

It’s clear from our bookings that lots of people are planning ahead earlier than ever before. We have our first enquiry for a date in 2026 last week and 2025 is already booking up.

We wrote our Ten Tips for Planning the Perfect Stay back in 2020 just as the country was starting to unlock post Covid. It seems like a lifetime ago now. Our tips are just as valid now as then. But we thought we’d make a few other suggestions if you are starting to think about organising a gathering.

Obviously, we hope that you are thinking about the Long Barn for your visit.

But we thought we’d write it from the perspective of making a booking anywhere and suggest some of the pitfalls to avoid.

Courtyard garden in sunshine
Garden wooden table and birch tree in sunshine
Teak furniture in Long Barn garden
  1. Agree the dates.

This sounds obvious but some of our enquires come from guests who are still deciding. If you don’t want to miss out on the place of your dreams (and also want to avoid lots of to-ing and fro-ing) then pin the dates down first. It will really help with the decision-making process. And obviously, the earlier you can do this, the better. Many places book up months if not years in advance.

  1. Decide what the non-negotiables are.

A few questions to ask your group are:

What’s the budget? We break the Long Barn prices down to a price per head per night on our web site to help people see the value you get for a great quality of accommodation.

Is there a maximum distance from home or geographical area that everyone is happy to travel to? We know we get lots of bookings due to our geography as for many groups, we are in the middle for them to travel to.

How many bedrooms do you need? Don’t just focus on just how many people a cottage sleeps. Some places look to sleep many, but when you investigate the small print, there can be a few rooms sleeping a lot of people. This may be great for some groups; others may want 2 people maximum per room. Also check the sizes; are they all a good size or is there a broom cupboard masquerading as a bedroom.

How many bathrooms? Make sure that there are enough between your group to share if they aren’t ensuite. We know that a big reason people book with us is that all 7 double bedrooms are ensuite and all a generous size. There is no broom cupboard or “short straw” room. Also check how the property is heated, especially the hot water. The Long Barn has a biomass boiler so there is constant hot water. So no worries about running out when everyone comes in after a days walking.

Is there space enough for everyone to sit down to eat and to relax. If not in the details, look at the photos. If it’s still not clear, then ask. We’re surprised the number of places where the seating in the living room is pretty snug for a large group. If you’re booking multiple cottages on one site, check that there is space for you all to sit round one dining room table.

Is it dog friendly? Don’t assume – some places aren’t or restrict numbers. We often have guests book and then ask a few weeks before arriving. Happily, we do welcome dogs, but we have wondered what happens if guests have booked a place that doesn’t.

Iron Bed with blue cushions
Wooden bed with blue cushions and fluffy robes
SUperking bed in sunny bedroom with original beams

3. Decide a short list of places.

We think this is probably the most daunting part.

If you have friends or family who’ve been somewhere they recommend, it’s always worth asking. A personal recommendation gives you the reassurance that the place you’re booking will be right.

The plus for large groups is along with all the usual booking sites like Booking.com and Sykes, there are some specialist sites for large groups. We’d highly recommend Group Accommodation who we use for the Long Barn; they have a great selection of places.

If you have a particular area in mind, there are also some really good local agents who can give you a good personal service. For example, Baytown Holiday Cottages are a great local firm to us who specialise in cottages in Robin Hoods Bay.

We’d also recommend keeping a note of which places you’ve shortlisted and reasons why. We often get enquiries where (understandably) the person enquiring has been looking at so many places, they’ve forgotten which one is which.

And if you are splitting the search with someone, let each other know what you’re looking at. We often have multiple enquires from the same group – it’s not a problem for us, but it’s just duplicating the work for you.

Don’t forget to check the review sites – most places should have reviews on google, trip advisor, Facebook or elsewhere. Again, it will give you a feel of the place – there are often guests photos on these.

It’s also worth checking the places social media. You can get more current information from their Facebook or Instagram pages on both the property and things to do in the surrounding area.

4. Ask questions?

When you’ve finally decided on the one, and it is available, take a breath and just double check its facilities.

Don’t assume and make sure you ask about anything that you’re unsure of. It gives you a chance to get a feel of what the people you are renting off are like, and it also makes sure you know any restrictions e.g. dog friendly, walk in showers on the ground floor for accessibility, parking on the site, nearest pub etc.

Ask if they haven’t already, if they can send you their welcome guide to give more information on what’s available. We send our digital guide out to every enquiry as we think it’s a great way for people to get a feel for the Long Barn and the surrounding area.

If you have specific things that you want to do e.g. decorate for a party, get a caterer in, organise some activities etc, this is a great time to find out what you can get help with. And what is allowed – some places will have restrictions.

If we are able, we are happy to let guests in a little early to set up the Long Barn. Equally, if we have people leaving on the same day, we can’t always guarantee it as we need to make sure we have the barn clean and perfect for the incoming guests. But we will always do what we can to help.

Most places have their own web site with more information than you can find on a 3rd part site like Sykes or Air BNB. You can get more of a feel for the place and the owners. You may also find that the prices may be cheaper if you book direct – check with the owner before booking.

Welcome Hamper with flowers and other goodies
Living Room with comfy sofas and wood burner
Large games room with table tennis, table football projector screen

5. Check the small print

Always look at the T&Cs when booking to avoid finding out something that you can’t do in the property at the last minute.

Check what’s included and what isn’t. We hate hidden charges so we include logs, bbq fuel etc all in the price at the Long Barn.

Check on cancellation charges and deposit refunds. Some places will refund a deposit, others won’t. Check your own insurance if you have to cancel at short notice. Some places may offer their own insurance policy for you. We decided after Covid, that to give our guests reassurance, we offer a no quibble cancellation for an additional 5% of the rental. This means that guests can cancel right up to the last minute, and we will refund.

Don’t forget to make a note of when the final balance is due, so that you have everyone’s money in ahead of the time it has to be paid.

Hopefully, if you’ve followed all these steps, you’ll have booked the place of your dreams, and you just have to decide what you want to do during your stay.

Now’s the time to read our 10 tips for the perfect stay blog to make sure that you have the most wonderful stay where ever it is.

Hopefully at the Long Barn.