Buying and furnishing a holiday cottage in St Ives

Dreaming of owning your own St Ives cottage or apartment and making it pay for itself as a successful business plus enjoying many holidays in St Ives yourself? We will help fill those gaps of knowledge before you make the big leap.

Perhaps you have been coming to St Ives, Cornwall for decades with your family and can remember when you were a child experiencing all the wonders that this coastal town offers. Hot days on Porthmeor beach in your speedos or polka dot swimsuit splashing in the crystal clear sea or losing hours of your day rock pooling or buying holiday mementos and postcards from Fore Street shops to send back home? Those were the days when postcards arrived weeks after your holiday ended! We bet memories stretch to yummy fish and chips on the harbour front or ice-creams being protected from hungry seagulls too. We take joy in listening to our guests share their life-long St Ives holiday traditions and even more so when they take the plunge to buy their very own holiday home.

Perhaps you haven’t really visited St Ives but have seen Tripadvisor say it is one of the world’s 25 most wish-listed holiday spots. With this in mind, maybe you are ready to make a business investment?

What normally goes hand in hand when we are asked about the ins and outs of owning a holiday cottage in St Ives is ‘‘how much does it all cost?’’ That is the big question that can dampen dreams so we thought we would write a guide to buying and furnishing your very own holiday home and arm you with the questions you should be asking estate agencies when requesting a viewing.

Where in St Ives should I buy?

Is it where your heart is, where you may have enjoyed many St Ives holidays with your family in the past, perhaps Downalong or a holiday cottage on the beach? Or is it really important to you and your family to have parking and a garden? Do you absolutely want a sea view and if so, from which perspective? As you know, St Ives is rich in sea views and the most captivating vistas.

This question is very often answered with a question when asked of us at Orange Roofs. The question we reply with is, what is your budget? The luxury of a larger budget gives you a far greater choice of what area you are able to afford. Imagine St Ives as part of a heat map. When we say heat map, we don’t mean in the climate sense of the word, more in the sense of where is that sweet, hot spot where the vast majority of people wish to book a holiday cottage in St Ives, Cornwall. Take a look at St Ives below on a Google satellite map (beautiful, isn’t it?), the red circles show where there is the largest demand all year round, yellow is where there is still significant demand for the area all year round and green or blue is where the demand may drop off during the out of season weeks of the year (normally November to March).

Don’t lose heart, when we say the demand drops off, if you market the property smartly and make your holiday home appealing, then there is no reason to see healthy occupancy all year round. Plus, with new developments built higher up the hill of St Ives, some holiday apartments have spectacular sea views, balconies and parking as part of the package which is the sort of appeal guests seek.

If your budget allows, here are the key ingredients you can buy to make a profitable and successful holiday cottage in St Ives:

• Parking

Parking in St Ives can be very challenging for many whether they are life-long fans of the town or first-time visitors. Even locals huff and puff during school holidays! If you are able to buy a house in St Ives that can tick the much searched for box ‘parking’ then it will show in the rental value and quantity of bookings.

• Sea views

Who doesn’t love a holiday cottage by the sea? The one that is on the beach and has the sea views to boot? Not every holiday home can be on the beach but many will have sea views in St Ives. If your home has sea views from the living room and master bedroom then it will be a success. The more rooms with views the better particularly if that also includes the garden or balcony!

• 3 bedrooms (sleep 6)

By being more flexible to the number of guests the house is able to accommodate, your holiday home will appeal to the masses. Grandparents can enjoy holidays in St Ives with the grandchildren in the same house, friends can share the cost of a holiday, couples can have a romantic getaway and have the luxury of ‘space’. If you buy a 1 bedroom apartment in St Ives, your market is reduced to just singles staying or couples unless of course you have the space to put a sofa bed! Even so, the ideal number of bedrooms in a holiday cottage to achieve the best occupancy and revenue is 3. This is not to stay that a 4 bedroom house or 5 bedroom wouldn’t do well as a holiday home, the rental would most certainly be much higher and the potential for filling up to 25 weeks a year a true reality but they do tend to struggle to be filled in the quieter months of the year.

• Outside space

We have many guests asking for a dog friendly holiday cottage in St Ives and they also ask if it has an enclosed garden. There aren’t many cottages in St Ives that have this luxury but some do and when you are able to offer that reassurance to either dog owners or families with young children (particularly if the garden also has sea views) then it will show in the number of bookings all year round. Outside space can also be a balcony or a courtyard, these are also most appreciated for their views or the storage possibilities.

If you can’t stretch to all of the above, that’s fine, there are other important considerations when appealing to people browsing online using the search term ‘self-catering holiday home in St Ives’ or ‘holiday cottages in St Ives’ and these are what you allow in your holiday home and what you provide. Again, your budget may dictate your success.

  • Dog friendly holiday cottage

Will you accept a dog? With so many people travelling on holiday with their dogs, the demand for a holiday property in St Ives being dog friendly is very much on the up. At Orange Roofs we have two dogs, look at our team photo below to meet Sheppy and Hops, so we know all the right questions to ask of dog owners before they come on holiday

  • Family friendly holiday cottage

Cater for families who may not have much space in their cars when travelling with babies or toddlers. Provide a travel cot, high chair and perhaps have a fixed stair gate installed if staircases are steep. Welcome children of all ages;  by restricting families with young children to stay, you would cut out a fairly large chunk of demand and your occupancy would reflect this

  • Luxury holiday cottage

Many choose to take their holidays in St Ives and stay at a luxury holiday cottage that is clearly loved and maintained to a very high standard. Tastefully decorate the home and offer all the most recent mod cons and equipment within each room such as integrated appliances, sizeable Smart TVs, DAB sound systems, beautiful artwork and soft furnishings plus quality cookware, crockery and cutlery. Mattresses need to be of excellent quality and comfortable/ durable and the bedding should match the opulence of a great night’s sleep. Ask yourself if you will provide toiletries and how welcoming will your welcome hamper actually be? Scrimping on these costs only gets reflected in holiday rental, repeat guests and buoyant reviews

  • Short breaks

These are invaluable to holiday home owners looking to maximise their occupancy and revenue as people wanting to stay in St Ives out of school holiday times tend to want long weekends, mid-week stays or even 10 day stays. If the holiday letting agency has week long stay restrictions in place, that means a vast market share of bookings is potentially lost


Estate agencies that cover St Ives

St Ives, Cornwall has quite a few estate agencies in the town. There are other agencies located outside of St Ives but cover the coastal town. Below is a list of agencies – click on their names and you will be taken directly to their websites to browse properties for sale:

Miller Countrywide
Cross Estates
Miller and Son
Lillicrap Chilcott


There is of course Rightmove which seems to have the market share of properties for sale online but picking up the phone to the agencies directly is always a great idea as they know what is ‘about to come on’ as opposed to what is currently showing online.

What questions should I ask an estate agent when buying an established holiday let?

This is a very good question and one that is crucial in order to avoid time-wasting. If the property you have seen within your budget is already a holiday home and is being marketed by a self-catering agency in St Ives (like Orange Roofs), there are quite a few crunch questions to ask to establish the profitability of the home as well as its capital investment opportunities.

Question 1. How many bookings does it achieve each year?

This needs to be broken down into how many week long bookings, fortnight bookings and short breaks it has achieved in a given year. Also ask how many bookings had the owner (vendor) taken and which dates specifically. This will allow you to judge if your planned use of the holiday property would mirror theirs and if the revenue would be a true reflection of what you could expect. Any holiday letting agency in St Ives should easily be able to provide this information to the estate agent if asked.

Question 2. What is the gross annual revenue?

Again, this is a very easy question for holiday letting agencies to answer. The parameter ideally used is with the check in date being in the year reported. So, what is the gross revenue for all bookings that have a check in date within a given year. Normally, when Orange Roofs is asked this question, we supply the last 3 years gross revenue (if it has been in our portfolio that long). This may look like the following –

2019 – 30 bookings (excluding owner bookings) – £35,000
2020 – 28 bookings (excluding owner bookings) – £36,500
2021 – 34 bookings (excluding owner bookings) – £44,000

Question 3. What is the net annual revenue?

Holiday agencies can go some way to helping you with this. Particularly if they pay the invoices on behalf of the owner or have in-house provisions for laundry, cleaning and maintenance. At Orange Roofs, we pay all invoices on behalf of the owner which are concerned with the physical running of their holiday home such as window cleaning, housekeeping, linen hire, gardening, refuse collection, maintenance visits and trades visits. It may take some time to add all this up, but it is doable. Your first question to the estate agency therefore should be, does the agency pay the invoices on behalf of the owner. If so, they will have this information on their system and the agent can ask the question for you. If the service is all in-house, they will definitely have those figures and costs to hand. If it is a holiday cottage in Cornwall where the owner pays all the invoices, then the estate agent will need to approach the vendor for this information.

The bills that Orange Roofs does not pay on behalf of owners are related to utilities such as gas bills, electricity, water or internet as well as replacements of soft furnishings, crockery, furniture etc as a result of wear and tear from holiday letting their cottage so again, these costs will need to be requested from the vendor to reach a true net figure.

If, for some reason, it’s difficult to get this information from holiday agencies then our advice would be to deduct around 35% – 40% (depending on the commission that your chosen holiday letting agency charges) from the gross revenue to reach a net figure.

Question 4. Does the holiday home need renovation or updating?

You may well see the obvious answer to this through the photos but do either call the holiday letting agency or ask the estate agent to do this on your behalf to get the letting agency’s thoughts and comments on whether it is keeping up with the market and what could be improved to increase its rental, occupancy and profitability.

Question 5. If I renovated, would the house value go up significantly at re-sale?

This is definitely a question for the estate agent as they will have market knowledge and will have an idea of what will happen in St Ives in the next few years and how it has fared in the past few years. You may be looking to keep hold of the property for quite some time so this is an irrelevant question but it’s definitely worth keeping in mind for future proofing.

These are essentially the key questions to ask to ascertain the income versus deductions. You should ask the same sort of questions of a holiday letting agency if the property you are looking to buy hasn’t been rented out to guests. With their experience, costs and sales statistics gleaned over the years with similar properties they already manage, you will come away with some really helpful insights and information. Here endeth the brain part of the process so now let’s ask the heart what it would like to know before buying a holiday home in St Ives.

How should I furnish my home?



Many existing holiday homes in St Ives are sold fully-furnished. This means it comes with everything! That sounds perfect, we hear you say. We recommend caution with this as most often than not the buyer is saddled with getting rid of furniture and items in the house that are ‘past it’. Take a long look around when viewing the property if it is being sold fully-furnished. Perhaps book a stay and try out all the beds and equipment and see what you love and what you would change in a shot! Find out what is being left and what has sentimental value therefore being taken away. These are normally the most attractive items…

If you are starting from scratch, furnishing a holiday home can be quite overwhelming and so, at Orange Roofs, we provide you with an inventory checklist to make the possibly daunting task far easier. As a rule of thumb, it needs to be as comfortable and well equipped as if it were your own home – perhaps even better! That is what paying guests expect. Don’t worry, you will be rewarded with a decent weekly rent as well as fabulous and appreciative reviews.

Living hundreds of miles from your new holiday home can make the prospect of furnishing the property very worrisome. We recommend appointing an interior designer/ project manager to take the stress away and who can focus on the balance between beauty and functionality of your St Ives holiday cottage. There are some locally based firms such Mint Interiors, Joanne Richrdson and Iroka. Cardiff based Hygge & Cwtch have completed a number of Cornish make-overs for our owners. They aspire to achieve natural harmonisation between light, space and homeliness so check out their website for ideas and contact details. If you didn’t want the expense of employing the services of professional interior designers, Orange Roofs’ Director, Sam Sheppard, has completed property make-overs on a tighter budget but with impressive results so, don’t hesitate to ask for more information if needed.

Fancy some inspiration? Take a look at the collection of properties that we manage by following this link and enjoy browsing the many photos.

Have a question or need more advice from Orange Roofs?

Give us a call on 01736 806100 or email who will be delighted to help.

(From left to right: Ross Sheppard, Sam Sheppard, Charlie Cannon and Billie Goulden)

(Sheppy is the blue merle collie and Hops is the Romanian rescue fox-lookey-likey)

Orange Roofs team

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