I want to preface this by saying we have made many attempts to contact Sykes via chat, email, phone and social media channels with no response.
I received an automated email form from Sykes Cottages to leave a review after I left my cottage. I wrote an honest review of our experience and it was not published.
That is fraudulent! The whole point of reviews is so that travelers can read other people’s experiences and so that cottage owners can be accountable and motivated to help their guests have a great experience.
So, I wanted to put this out there tagged with keywords in hopes that it would surface in google searches at the very least and ultimately help serve as a warning to future travelers.
We rented Lucy’s Cottage in Old Colwyn in Wales in July of 2018.
We arrived at Lucy’s Cottage on a Friday night, tired and anxious to start some laundry, take showers and settle in. We discovered some dirty, wet laundry in the washing machine covered in slimy dog hair as was the whole machine. We then sat down on the couch and quickly noticed that our clothes were thickly covered in hair as were our phones and laptop screens. Upon further walking around the cottage we quickly realized it had not been cleaned in between renters, aside from new sheets and fresh towels. The carpets had not been vacuumed, the kitchen was ignored, the living room furniture was covered in hair, etc.
The next morning we immediately got on a customer service chat with Sykes at SykesCottages.co.uk to let them know. I was assured someone would call us immediately. No one ever called. Later that afternoon we tried to get through and finally got someone from Sykes Cottages on the phone. They said they'd send cleaners over to Lucy’s Cottage within the hour. We waited and an hour later we got an email saying someone would be coming tomorrow at 2:30. Frustrating! The next day we left to give the cleaners space and returned home late in the late afternoon to discover no one had cleaned. We immediately called Sykes Cottages again and were told to put the keys in the lockbox, head back out and that "the cleaners would probably be there soon". We said no - we needed to know what was going on. They said they'd call the owner of Lucy’s Cottage and call us back. They never called us back but instead the owner showed up unannounced. She was flustered and initially defensive, but quickly softened and became embarrassed upon seeing the state of the cottage. She started cleaning herself and it seemed like she ran the vacuum a bit, but then just left the Hoover and all its parts strewn about the kitchen and left -- she seemed very uncomfortable and nervous.
Lucy’s Cottage was still visibly dirty after she left. We used the Hoover ourselves and the brush was thickly coated with hair - we took pictures of this and sent them to Sykes Cottages at firstname.lastname@example.org. Finally the next evening actual cleaners came, but they only cleaned the kitchen. They did not address the living room or the bedrooms or any of the major areas. Quite baffling honestly. We are not fussy people and understand this a pet friendly cottage, but so much hair that it's on our clothes, in our food, coating all of our stuff - that is not okay. Even if I had brought my own dog on holiday I would not have wanted to be coated in someone else's mess.
After many more attempts to contact Sykes Cottages (they aren't good on chat, they don't answer emails, and when calling you're usually on hold for quite some time) we finally got someone to call us back and after many back and forth phone calls we managed to get a partial refund, but not after much time spent on the phone and lots of stress and headaches. This was no easy process and Sykes customer service was completely inadequate. Sykes took absolutely no responsibility for the overall customer experience and it is quite shocking that they take 25% of every rental fee from the owners when they provide nothing in return except for a listing on a website. Absurd! I feel bad for the owners.
Back to Lucy’s Cottage -- in addition to it being filthy, there were also many things not in working order -- the bathtub plug did not work, the downstairs toilet did not flush properly so we couldn't use it, the overhead light in the kitchen above the stove was out so cooking was dark. The main light in the kitchen as well as the light in the upstairs bathroom were wonky -- you would turn the switch on and the lights would flicker and then slowly come on very dim. After 2-3 minutes they would fully brighten -- extremely annoying if you're coming in with groceries and need light immediately or trying to get ready in the bathroom.
The kitchen is extremely sparsely stocked. The cottage is a two bedroom and sleeps four people -- but there is no way four people could prepare a meal together as there are only two very small, scratched up frying pans and two equally small saucepans -- hardly enough to make any sort of meal. There wasn't even a pot large enough to boil potatoes or pasta. There are also no food storage containers of any kind.
Four people would be cramped in Lucy’s Cottage - it is built for two. The table outside had two chairs, the couches farther back in the garden is seating for two, etc.
The kitchen table is wedged against the wall and the refrigerator. In order to actually sit at the kitchen table -- you have to pull the table and chairs away from the wall and the fridge, which is difficult to do as the table has an extremely heavy base and an extremely heavy glass top and the chairs don't move easily either. Totally impractical. Speaking of the glass top table -- it was covered in hand prints and pet hair as it had also not been cleaned. There was so much pet hair in the kitchen that we were picking it out of our food.
With white carpets, glass tables, and a couch made of woven fabric that collects hair - this cottage is not outfitted in a very smart way.
As stated before -- the furniture was so thickly coated in pet hair that you couldn't even sit on it -- your clothes would be immediately covered in hair. Finally we just took some sheets and blankets and covered the furniture so we were able to sit on it. The recliner in the living room stunk like an old, wet towel. In the downstairs loo there was no hand towel nor was there anywhere to put a hand towel so you couldn't dry your hands, and in the upstairs loo there was not only no hand towel or rack, there was also nowhere to hang your bath towels! The loo roll holders in each bathroom were wonky and difficult to dispense from.
The carpet in both bedrooms upstairs is white and is stained and was thickly coated with pet hair. There is a sign asking renters to put the trash cans out on Tuesday. We went to put the can out on Tuesday and it was extremely heavy and overflowing with garbage -- clearly it had not been emptied in some time. The trash was never picked up - only the recycling is picked up on Tuesdays. We were not told when the garbage was picked up and clearly none of the previous renters were told either. Also - there is a great recycling program but the cottage had no way to collect recycling inside, there is only one small trash bin in the kitchen (be sure you bring your own garbage bags as those are not provided). Other little things like the drawers to the dresser to store your clothes were all dirty -- full of human hair and pet hair and crumbs. We had to clean them out with a wet rag before we could put away our clothes.
We found the Lucy’s Cottage listing on SykesCottages.co.uk to be extremely misleading -- stating that the rainbow bridge and the north wales coast are just a stroll away when in reality -- Lucy’s Cottage sits on top of a high cliff and there is no beach access from the town at all. You have to go in to the next town over by car or by bus in order to access the beach. The cottage listing also boasts amazing sea views from the bedrooms -- one bedroom looks onto a parking lot and the second does not have a sea view unless you stand on a chair and wedge yourself in the corner -- only then can you see a sliver of the water. The listing also boasts sea views from the back garden. The garden is in fact surrounded by ten foot tall hedges -- there is a tiny gap at the end of the hedge and again, if you stand on your tip toes and crane your neck -- you can get a tiny peek at the sea.
To top it all off, we received a direct email from the owner snidely saying she was sorry the "cottage wasn't up to our standards", as if this whole issue was a problem we created. She tried to guilt us by saying she had "driven 180 miles round trip after work" to check on the cottage - as if this is our concern. We didn't ask for the owner, we just wanted the cottage clean. It was her choice to drive all that way. The email and those statements were just so rude and unnecessary.
I'm sure Sykes Cottages would say they "did everything they could" and will claim we should be happy with our partial refund. A partial refund is nice, but it does not even come close to making up for the stress and headache of dealing with all that we did. Overall this cottage is misrepresented and very much overpriced. It seems cheaply and very sparsely fitted with an owner that isn't fit for hosting and a cleaning crew that is grossly inadequate, in addition to Sykes as a rental company being downright negligent and awful. Steer clear and save yourself the headache!
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