StayCotswold shows its pedigree as dog-friendly accommodation fuels bumper growth

A Cotswolds holiday home rentals business has achieved record annual results, fuelled by meeting growing demand from visitors for dog-friendly accommodation and properties with hot tubs.

StayCotswold delivered more than 9,000 bookings in the year to March, a rise of 46 per cent on the previous 12 months, and a 45 per cent increase in gross booking value.

Its portfolio of properties includes cottages, houses, luxury converted barns, manor houses and farmhouses as well as a growing collection of shepherd’s huts. The properties can cater for two people all the way up to groups of 28.

The portfolio grew by 43 per cent in the year to March and currently stands at 231, of which 145 are dog-friendly properties.

The company is forecasting further strong growth this year as the number of homes on its books continues to increase. It is targeting expansion in the central and south Cotswolds areas around locations including Cirencester, Stroud, Painswick, Tetbury, Nailsworth and Malmesbury, in addition to its continued focus on the north Cotswolds.

Managing director Tom Burdett said there has been a significant rise in the number of holiday homes that accept dogs in response to demand from guests who want to bring their four-legged friends, especially at larger properties where several generations or families are staying together.

He added: “Customers booking smaller properties tend to be couples and families going away, and it also makes sense for them to bring their pet rather than paying kennel fees or finding a dog sitter.

“The Cotswolds are renowned for being dog-friendly, so people love to bring their pets here as they are welcome in many shops, cafés, restaurants and pubs. We recommend that our owners allow dogs, and accepting them can increase booking volumes. More and more have opted to go down this route over the past year.”

The award-winning company’s dedicated dog-friendly page is the second most visited section on its website after the home page.

The number of StayCotswold properties with hot tubs has also risen, with 10 per cent of the portfolio now offering this feature.

Tom said: “The appeal of a hot tub seems to resonate more among people booking smaller properties, possibly due to sharing the experience with a partner or a small group, rather than a large number of guests.

“We do, however, have a considerable number of bigger properties with hot tubs, and these are appreciated by guests. Having a hot tub tends to have a positive impact on occupancy levels across the board.

“Guests like to get out and about to explore the region and, after a long day of seeing what the Cotswolds has to offer, they like to return to their holiday accommodation and unwind and relax. A hot tub is a fantastic way to do this.”

StayCotswold, based in Stow-on-the Wold, is now the largest independent holiday home rentals business in the region in terms of the number of properties on its books, said Tom.

He said the company has seen growth in bookings for town centre locations as well as rural properties, as the Cotswolds region becomes increasingly popular for staycations and for overseas tourism.

“Bookings for May were especially good due to the two bank holidays and half-term break, July and August are looking strong, and almost 50 per cent of Christmas week bookings have been sold already,” he added.

“Our appeal is based on a number of factors, including our targeted marketing strategies and variable pricing model, plus the fact that we are based in the area and know it well, so we can help our guests get a more authentic Cotswolds break.

“Whilst they are in the Cotswolds, they can live like a local because we tell them about the best places to experience and the hidden gems.”

StayCotswold has expanded its team with the appointment of Nicole Marina to its guest services team, succeeding Jennifer McCann who has moved to owner recruitment with a focus on the central and south Cotswolds working alongside Tom. Cassie Knox has taken up the new position of office team leader. The company now has 18 staff, up from 13 a year ago.

StayCotswold was a sponsor of this month’s Churchill Car Show in Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire – the first since the pandemic.