How to choose the ideal holiday home


Peppers Bale Penthouse, with over 300sqm of Luxury, in its
Absolute Beach Front Penthouse.
Here's a thought guaranteed to scare you: Christmas is coming. If you're planning the great Australian holiday, here are a few tips when booking a holiday home that will set you ahead of the pack.

But don't be shy: keep scrolling down and you'll also find the winners of the 2013 Stayz best holiday rentals for lovers of pets, the great outdoors and each other.



BOOK WELL AHEAD
In peak times, such as Christmas, school holidays and the ski season, houses can be booked out 12 months in advance. Otherwise, allow at least three months.

GO OFF-PEAK
Most properties have midweek specials and some beach areas drop their prices in the colder months or throw in an extra night free. Traditionally, May is the slowest month.

BE ADD-ON AWARE
Many owners add special touches, particularly in their downtime, such as breakfast baskets filled with home-made jams and eggs from their own hens, or a bottle of local wine on arrival.

STAY LONGER
Some properties have two-night minimum stays on the weekends, and up to seven-night minimum stays in the peak seasons. Staying two weeks usually attracts a lower rate.

GET MOBILE
If you're flying in, book your car at the same time, so you're not left stranded on the ground.

Stay with the stars

Our top picks of the Stayz 2013 holiday rental winners.

INDULGENCE WINNER
Toraja Luxury, NSW
A luxury pad with 180-degree ocean panoramas just outside Byron Bay. Sleeps six.
Who goes there? Honeymooners and lovers (of each other and of luxury).
When to go All year round thanks to the swimming pool, open fireplace, outdoor lounges and gourmet kitchen.
Must-visit local attraction The sparkling beaches of Broken Head and Lennox Head.
Guest comment "The pool area is a beautiful spot to while away the hours ... the verandah [and all of the windows in the house] look out over rolling green pastures to the sea."
Trip notes From $470 to $1100, minimum three nights, stayz.com.au/115047.

ROMANCE WINNER
Liptrap Loft, Vic
A rustic shack in Walkerville, south Gippsland. Sleeps six.
Who goes there? Bushies for privacy and a Japanese bathhouse.
When to go Summer for the beach, winter for the whales and their calves in Waratah Bay for R&R.
Must-visit local attraction Wilson's Promontory, 30 minutes away, is a naturist's delight.
Guest comment "Eccentric in a beautiful way, the furniture is a delight.We will return in winter to hunker down with the fire and listen to nature's best."
Trip notes From $190 to $265 a night, minimum two nights, stayz.com.au/22270.

OUTDOOR WINNER
The Evening Star, Vic
A polished two-bedroom cottage outside Bright, in the Victorian High Country. Sleeps four.
Who goes there? Mountain lovers, bike riders, kids over 10 years old.
When to go Autumn for the colour.
Must-visit local attraction Bright's foodie scene and Hotham's ski fields are 45 minutes away.
Guest comment "Deafening silence, crisp mountain air and amazing views from a gorgeous house where all the little touches have been added."
Trip notes From $250 (weekdays) to $400 (weekends) a night, minimum two nights, stayz.com.au/19289.

ECO-FRIENDLY WINNER
Riversdale Retreat, Vic
A super-slick eco-cottage at Chewton, near Castlemaine. Sleeps three.
Who goes there? Melbourne foodies. Shortlisted for the World Architecture Festival Awards 2009.
When to go Great for a cold-weather getaway.
Must-visit local attraction Daylesford and the restaurants and vintage shopping in Kyneton and Castlemaine.
Guest comment "It felt a bit like a groovy city pad in the middle of the bush. Even honoured by visits from kangaroos and red-bellied robins. Enjoyed bushwalking and the marvellous Chewton market."
Trip notes Costs $220 a double (Monday-Thursday), $265 (Friday-Sunday), minimum two nights, stayz.com.au/66476.

PET FRIENDLY WINNER
Noosa Holiday House, Qld
A three-story house at Castaways Beach, near Noosa. Sleeps eight.
Who goes there? Pet-owning design lovers.
When to go A minute from the beach, summer is hugely popular.
Must-visit local attraction The restaurant strip at Sunshine Beach; Peregian Beach design markets.
Guest comment "With the home being on three levels, we were able to have time to ourselves and our children loved the free Wi-Fi. Dog loved the backyard ... lots of great bush, beach and rainforest walks."
Trip notes From $550 to $900 a night, minimum five nights, stayz.com.au/55345.
Stayz is a division of Fairfax Media.

Source: Belinda Jackson, Sun-Herald newspaper

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