How to Start and Run a Holiday Let Business

Published on 17 September 2019

We invited the team at holiday letting agency Lakelovers to offer some insights into the holiday letting business. They have 40 years experience in the holiday letting market, and have lots of pearls of wisdom to offer!

They tell us why they think the Lake District is a great location for a holiday let, and cover the top considerations for the purchase and set up of your property.

A good holiday let could earn property owners in excess of £20K a year*. And UK tourism trends show significant further opportunity in this market.

For several reasons British holidaymakers are swapping overseas breaks for staycations in England. Then there’s the overseas visitors to the UK too, of which VisitBritain forecast 2019 as a record-breaking year, with a 3.3% increase.

The Lake District has long been the number one tourist destination outside of London and with being awarded UNESCO World Heritage Status in 2017 and the opening of Carlisle Lake District Airport in 2019, the Lake District is the place to be.

The fantastic Lakelovers Owner Management team give us the low-down on kick-starting starting your holiday let business:

1 Choosing the right property location

We recommend that you buy based on a good location. And what makes the Lake District such a great choice for a holiday let?

Thanks to National Park and World Heritage Status, the area has robust property prices and attracts national and international visitors. This protection also reduces the risk of development, which could spoil views and reduce property value.

And holiday letting in the area benefits from high occupancy rates thanks to an unrivalled long season for a rural tourism area.

So is anywhere in the Lake District a good location? When choosing a holiday let property location, you're looking for association with famous Lake District destinations, such as Hawkshead, Grasmere and Coniston.

2. Interpreting the right layout

So you settle on a location and you snap up a 3-bed terrace in Ambleside.

What’s next?

The first thing to do is to interpret what layout would get the very best out of your property. For example, 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, sleeping 4 is ideal. The key is about balancing sleeping, bathrooms and living provision. What you don’t want is a 3 bedroom terrace in Ambleside, sleeping 6, if the living room doesn’t accommodate 6 guests and if you only have 1 bathroom.

Recent research has revealed a gap in the UK holiday let market at the moment for 3 bedroom and 3 bathroom holiday accommodation. There has been a notable shift in the market away from traditional family, 4 person, bookings. In fact, a large majority of bookings come from adult-only holidays.

3 Choosing your target market

On the subject of bookings, here at Lakelovers we are interested in whole-year occupancy and this is why we are unique in offering owners the whole package, from buying a property through to listing as a holiday let. We pride ourselves on delivering the best return on investment in the Lake District for our owners and knowing your target market is key to this.

Do you have a property in the centre of Bowness and are looking to attract young and trendy couples? Or do you have a large holiday let in Grasmere where you’d like to charge premium prices that a luxury market would expect? Are you looking to buy a property in North Lakes, Keswick perhaps, that you will target at the dog-friendly market? The next step is making sure you make your property appeals to that market.

“The holiday cottage market continues to develop and evolve and owners that are able to respond to guests searching for flexible arrival dates, short breaks and looking for uniqueness and best value can quickly achieve great results and stand out from the crowd. Understand your market and target it correctly.” Graham Wilkinson, Lakelovers Owner Manager team.

4 Market Appeal

So what would a trendy couple expect when arriving in your Bowness apartment? Super-fast WiFi is a must, the latest in entertainment such as Apple TV, Netflix, bluetooth sound systems and a well-known coffee machine should satisfy this hipster market.

If you’re looking to attract the luxury market, you’ll need to make sure your property is kitted out to the highest-spec and give your guests no reason to leave your property. Leisure facilities, like a swimming pool, hot tub, sauna, should be included within your holiday let spec. For entertainment, think a snooker table, library, games consoles and cinema room. Kitchen and dining spaces need to be large and designed with socialising and hosting in mind. A quality and well-equipped kitchen is required with wine cooler, large fridge and ovens and quality glassware.

If you’re opting for a broader appeal, perhaps dog-friendly, then keep to double bedrooms as these give better return on investment and use zip-link mattresses to switch between twin and double bed layout.

If you buy well and present well, you can charge the best possible rates. The Lake District has a prestigious hospitality reputation and is home to some of the UK’s top restaurants and food producers. So if you’re thinking of investing in a holiday let, the Lake District is a strong contender.

“The demand for holiday cottages has never been greater but with increasing choice, presenting high quality accommodation in the best locations, this lays the surest foundation to owning a successful holiday let.” Graham Wilkinson, Lakelovers Owner Manager team.


*based on Lakelovers figures for 2018, a good holiday let can earn property owners in excess of £20K a year for a sleeps 2 capacity and then upwards based on several leading attributes to realise in excess of £100K a year for exceptional, large properties.

If you're thinking of starting your holiday let business, take a look at our range of holiday let mortgages at The Cumberland.