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Thomson Hotels & Apartments

Self Catering - Accommodation in Style
by Andrew M Kelly

For many folk a vacation consists of a trip to a foreign land where we spend our time split between bar and beach. However there are many of us that like to enjoy the finer aspects of a place we choose to visit for a vacation. We like to experience the real culture, taste the culinary delights of that region and generally become part of that society for the duration of our vacation. Once of the best ways to fully immerse yourself into a foreign culture is to live amongst the ordinary people, of the city, town or village, in self catering accommodation.

By choosing to stay in self catering accommodation you are going to be avoiding the usual masses of tourist heading for the restaurant or the strange ritual of racing to the sun loungers next to the hotel pool. Self catering accommodation usually consists of the basic requirements for living, fridge, freezer, cooker and the likes. Usually it is a house or cottage in a regional style or an apartment in a larger building. In many cities self catering apartments are in very modern, purpose built, buildings with some having shared facilities such as pools, gyms and entertainment areas not unlike those available in larger hotels.

In rural areas self catering accommodation can be something really special. You may find yourself hiring a small cottage set in lovely countryside with only the native wildlife for neighbors. Or you may be lucky enough to find a lovely period house in a small rural village surrounded by old fashioned regional buildings. In such rural locations it is common for the locals to know that you are the folk staying at that address, such small communities are often extremely friendly and more than willing to stop and spend time chatting. You can really experience something of the real way of life there and you will often find that the local people are so kind and helpful that, by the end of you vacation, you will already be feeling rather at home and you may even be considering returning again.

If you are looking for something really special why not visit Scotland. Many folk in the U.S.A. can trace their family roots back to Scotland and there are many people keen to investigate their genealogy. The best way to trace your roots in Scotland is to visit local historical societies, local libraries and such places that may contain records of your ancestors. In some areas, such as the Outer Hebrides, there are many historical societies with a wealth of information and on the Isle of Harris there is a genealogy center containing microfilm and other resources. There is lots of self catering accommodation available of Harris but of all the cottages and houses available to rent one of the most interesting is a small 'blackhouse'.

A blackhouse is an old fashioned cottage type building with walls made of the local stone. Blackhouses have a thatch roof and small windows to protect those inside from the harsh winter weather. The blackhouse at Scarista, Harris, was built using all of the old methods but rather than having a sparse interior this self catering cottage has been brought right up to modern standards offering all of the modern comforts we have become accustomed to. The building is set within a short walking distance from one of the, many, spectacular beaches found on Harris (reputed for having the best beaches in Europe). Set on a family croft (small holding or small farm) your neighbors will be gorgeous looking highland cattle.


In some places in Scotland it is possible to find castles and other fine buildings available as self catering accommodation. For the more adventurous there are even haunted castles. If you are planning a vacation this year why not consider something a little out of the ordinary?

If you are looking for self catering accommodation on Harris then why not visit
For further information on the Outer Hebrides visit the incredibly large and informative Virtual Hebrides at

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