When it's summer time in Ontario, the best way to get away from the city is in the comfort of a holiday home with a lake view, grilling on the barbecue, and eating s'mores by the fireside. How do you find that perfect cottage in Ontario this summer? Here are a few tips that you can follow to make it easy!
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Here's what we're covering:
Finding the perfect cottage in Ontario this summer
Where to look for cottages
I've been cottaging for years now and it's become somewhat of an annual tradition. As the trip planner amongst us, I was always charged with finding cottages. For the most part, my experience is limited to the province of Ontario here in Canada but I have done a few cottages in the US and in the UK.
With the internet age, it has now become incredibly easy to find cottages. Whether it's on classified ads like Kijiji/Craigslist or cottage specific websites, there are listings all over the place. For Ontario I'd recommend Cottages in Canada, which has quite the exhaustive inventory of any. In the US, FlipKey has always been good for me. If you remember, my last winter trip to Utah for snowboarding and Sundance was at a FlipKey property.
What to look for in a cottage
From experience, there are a few things you want to keep your eye on when making bookings to cottages. Some of this is intuitive but hopefully this'll be a good reminder for you.
- Minimum days required – One of the big challenges you'll face when booking cottages is the minimum number of days required for a stay. A lot of places won't let you just book for the 3 days long weekend. Most require a minimum of 5-7 days.
- Deposits – This is pretty standard but just be aware this is happening.
- Cleaning fee – This is another one of those things to be aware of. Sometimes it's hidden in the sub text so make sure you pick up on this when signing the contracts.
- Size – This one is a “duh” one but can the cottage fit the people you're going to have? A cheap hack to consider is if anyone is willing to sleeping bag it and if so, it may be possible to look for a cottage that has less beds.
- Amenities – Just like a hotel, you'll want to know what's available in the house and that'll help you narrow down what cottages you're looking for. The good thing is that a lot of these cottage search engines will allow you to filter on amenities.
- Location – Location is always key. At a high level, are you looking to be in somewhere like Muskoka -or are are you okay with Collingwood? Digging deeper, are you looking for a place with backyard access to the lake or is a normal house up north ok?
- Proximity to activities – This is along the lines of location but ask yourself whether you want to be close to somewhere you can kayak or hike trails or would you rather be closer to a beach? None of that has to be mutually exclusive of course.
- Hot tub – This was almost a mandatory requirement when I was looking for cottages in Utah in the winter. I just had to throw this in there.
- BBQ – Some call me a grill master, others just like the fact that I do it for them. I don't know why this wouldn't be at a cottage but you never know.
- Wifi – As much as we'd like to disconnect, it's always nice to be able to be connected when we want to while away. This one's easy to miss.
When to look for a cottage
This is probably the most important question of all because if you search too late, it won't matter what you know about the above because there won't be any cottages left to pick from.
Cottages are always on people's mind and you'll notice that once winter thaws and spring rolls in, people are already starting to book them. If you're looking for a long weekend, you'll have to book especially early.
Rule of thumb – book early. It's as simple as that. Once you know a date and location where you want to be, lock it in ASAP.
If you're in Ontario, make sure to read the following few pieces that'll help you get started:
- Best Airbnb Muskoka Cottages For All Budgets
- How to Find Muskoka Cottage Rentals in Ontario
- 9 Getaway-Worthy Northern Ontario Resorts in the Summer
What to pack for the cottage
Don't worry, I have you covered here. Read the ultimate cottage packing list and you'll be all set.
Happy cottaging everyone!
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