We booked our first family holiday in Cornwall about 6 months ago, ready for our friend’s wedding on 1st September. We booked a cottage, part of Woodview Cottages – through Holiday Rentals for 8 nights starting on 31st August, and it looked lovely! It was one of many holiday cottages and holiday homes we looked at when searching for short breaks, holidays and properties across the whole of the county.
Why did we book Woodview Cottages – Mowhay Cottage?
We paid £320 for the 8 nights, and had use of a cot and high chair to make things easier. It was situated in a great location, where we could access everything in Cornwall easily by car. We had plans to visit everywhere from West Cornwall to North Cornwall and even stop in North Devon on the way home.
We had a lovely day on the Friday, stopping off in Somerset for lunch with a friend and her family, before driving on to our holiday cottage. LP was great in the car, considering the journey was 5hrs, broken up by the lunch stop in the middle.
When we turned up at the cottage, it looked exactly as pictured, although the owners house, opposite the cottage, looked incredibly run down and unloved. The owner thing we noticed immediately about the property was how dated everything was. Like staying at your Grandparents’ house! But it was as described in the letting information and added to the character… Or so we thought!
When did we find out there was a problem with the cottage?
We unpacked and the cottage smelt heavily of cleaning products, as we arrived at 4pm and they had freshly cleaned the cottage ready for our arrival. The owner set about putting the highchair and cot in the cottage whilst we drove round to our parking spot.
We unpacked whilst LP played. The cottage was all on one floor and so LP had free reign, unlike at home where we have to be mindful of stairs!
I cooked LP dinner and had a look at the highchair, to work out how to harness her into it. It had a padded seat and backrest and smelt musty to me. I put this down to it being stored in a shed/garage and not used often. We’d brought a booster seat with us to use out and about so I decided to use this instead.
LP had dinner, and we gave her a bath. After the bath I noticed that the walls looked strange, damp in places, but I put this down to the lack of ventilation in the bathroom and the fact we’d been steaming the room up.
LP had a really bad night’s sleep, tossing and turning, waking up hourly at best. We hadn’t had a night that bad in a long time! When we went to bed, we realised there were only 2 pillows on the double bed, and Dave and I are both used to two pillows each, so I hunted around for more. I found two pillows in the storage drawers under the bed, but when I pulled them out they were covered in mould….
After that the night was just a blur. I don’t think any of us got much sleep, and as the night wore on the cottage, and mainly the bedroom, smelt increasingly damp and musty.
I ended up getting up at 6am with LP and I felt terrible. My nose was blocked, my breathing wasn’t great and my eyes were streaming. LP played whilst I started inspecting the cottage. I noticed lines of black mold where the bedroom walls met the ceiling, and patches along the bottom of walls near the floor that had obviously been scrubbed off. The bathroom was still patchy, and had moldy patches on the ceiling too.
It was at this point that Dave and I decided we couldn’t stay in the cottage another night.
We had to be at a wedding 15mins away by Midday. We had to pack up everything into the car and we had to find somewhere else to live for a week.
I was a complete mess. Luckily we had an internet connection and I’d brought my laptop with us, so I started hunting for holiday parks nearby with accommodation. By this point I’d packed up as much of our stuff as possible and it was 8am. Dave went to the owners house to talk to him and get our money back, but it took over an hour to get a response! This really was not what we expected when we were looking at cottages to rent in Cornwall!
Meanwhile, I’d found a couple of nearby holiday parks but couldn’t find out online if they had availability as the starting date was the 3rd September, a couple of days later! I tried to ring but they didn’t open until 9am!
So I started getting ready for the wedding, putting make up on whilst an emotional wreck is not the easiest of things to do. But somehow I managed to get ready and not look too bad!
By now I had resigned myself to the fact that we might need to drive home after the wedding – 5 hours away! Or we would just get a Travelodge for the night.
I finished getting ready, and moved the bed to reach the only plug sockets to plug my phone in. Part of me wishes I hadn’t moved the bed. The wall behind the headboard was black with mold and the carpet under the bed was literally growing.
I have never seen anything so disgusting, and to think not only had we slept in that room, but we’d let LP sleep there too! I cannot believe anyone would rent somewhere in that condition, and go to the lengths of cleaning off the mould but not dealing with the problem. There were also plug in air fresheners everywhere to mask the smell, but the longer we stayed there the more damp the cottage was smelling.
I showed Dave the damp behind the bed and he went back to try and find the owner again. Eventually the owner came up to the cottage with Dave and we showed him the damp. He didn’t really seem that shocked by the damp behind the bed, the fact that he’d rented the cottage to us or the fact that I was visibly upset to the point I was finding it hard to talk. He gave us a cheque for our money back – and mentioned that he wouldn’t charge for the night we’d had in the cottage! I said that the place was a complete health risk and he said ‘Is it?’…. He really didn’t seem that bothered by the whole situation, and even made it seem like an inconvenience that he would now have to ‘pay for cleaning to sort this out’. The place didn’t need cleaning, it needed damp proofing.
At 9am I rang a lovely lady from a nearby holiday park – Holborne Doubledois – who was incredibly understanding, especially as I started crying on the phone! They had availability for a 2 bed Lodge, had travel cots for hire, and would allow us to check in early at 1pm instead of the usual 3pm. The Lodge was £450, so 50% more than the cottage had cost, but even if we hadn’t had the awful cottage experience the Lodge would have been worth every penny! It looked brand new with a modern interior, flat screen TV, bathroom and en suite, fully fitted kitchen and convenient parking right outside! It was perfect!
We managed, somehow, to get ready for the wedding, and to get there on time – even having the world’s most expensive bacon sandwich at the pub next door beforehand – and then whizzed over to Holborne to check in before the reception started. It was such a relief to walk through the Lodge door to the lovely, fresh smelling holiday home, with clean bedding, a welcome pack of tea and coffee and a travel cot in the corner.
After that we went back to the Wedding and really enjoyed ourselves. Our holiday could now start properly!
I want to make sure that no-one else rents this cottage, or the adjoining cottage owned by the same person. All the rental websites seem to be in favour of the owner, rather than the holidaymaker and they don’t seem to let you leave negative reviews – the last reviews for this cottage being in 2011… so I’ve decided the best people to complain to, who may listen and take note, are those on the World Wide Web!
Please, do not rent this cottage, through any of the following websites, or anywhere else. It’s a health risk, and I wouldn’t want anyone else to stay there. It was so far from the perfect holiday we had imagined and there are so many Cornish cottage holidays – definitely book a different one!
Cottage: Mowhay Cottage, Pensilva nr Liskeard, Cornwall Also, adjoining Linhay Cottage. Combined they make up Woodview Cottages.
Owner: Per Walther
Website: Woodview Cottages