Most properties are fully refundable. Because flexibility matters.

Most properties are fully refundable. Because flexibility matters.

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Picture yourself snuggling up by the side of a crackling log fire, warming the post-hike feet and sipping a steaming cocoa. Imagine reclining on a timber-built deck with sweeping views over the Appalachian Mountains. Consider a cute bolthole in the Alps, where pine forests and lakes twinkle between the peaks, or a seaside escape on the shores of the UK, with visions of rolling surf and rock-ribbed cliffs every morning. All of these and more are made possible by cottages, an accommodation option that might just be tailor-made for travellers who'd like immersion, adventure and something a little different from their globetrotting this year.

Cottages come in all shapes and sizes, styles and personalities. A cottage in Cape Town is likely to be totally different to a cottage in Lake Tahoe, for example. While one will sit between the fynbos-clad peaks and the cellar doors of the Franschhoek Wine Trail – 4-star Rose Cottage with its pools and BBQ grills is a doozy – the other will put you close to ski pistes or next to the pine-shrouded hiking paths that wiggle up into the Californian Sierra Nevada. Then there are classic English cottages, nestled in the Lake District or above the wave-splashed beaches of Devonshire. The United States has other country escapes, like the cottages in Fredericksburg, where you can taste Texan reds and whites and visit rustic ranches – check out the plush Vineyard Trail Cottages for somewhere with serious bucolic charm. And there are oodles of other similar style stays all over the world, from the peaks of France to the hills of Tuscany, the plains of Poland to the wild reaches of Scandinavia.

Style-wise, cottages tend to evoke the spirit of their environment. Mountain escapes might be dressed in pine timbers and have gabled roofs of wooden slats. Seaside cottages could be whitewashed and sturdy, forever bracing the winds of the Atlantic or Pacific oceans. Forest cottages might be caked in moss and surrounded by lanky redwoods. Cottage stays offer a level of immersion and authenticity that's difficult to pinpoint in a classic city hotel. Whether it comes from the beautiful views or the manicured rose gardens, the nearby vineyards or the traditional architectural features within, you can rest assured there'll be something to write home about from your next cottage stay.