five young women sitting on a cottage deck
Where to Stay

Where to stay in PEI? Part 1 – Cottages

“Where should we stay in PEI?” is a question with many answers. The first answer should be, “it depends”. Of course, it all depends on a number of factors such as:

Factors to Consider:

  • What are you planning to do while you’re there?
  • How many people are in your group?
  • Are you looking for an outdoors experience?
  • What’s your budget?
  • Do you have children or pets coming with you?
  • Are there mobility or disability issues you need to accommodate?
  • What part of the island do you plan to see?
  • Do you plan to stay in one place or will you be move around to multiple areas of the province?

Once you’ve answered these questions there are a number of broad categories of accommodations to choose from. We’ve left out couch surfing but that’s always an option depending on who you know!

  • Cottages/Cabins
  • Campgrounds
  • Hotels/Motels
  • Full or part home sharing

All accommodations providers in Prince Edward Island must be licensed and inspected by Quality Tourism Services (QTS). QTS  is contracted by the PEI government to inspect tourism accommodations. Anyone renting a cottage or other accommodation privately, (i.e. not a commercial rental cottage or hotel), should ensure it is licensed and inspected by QTS.

If you like to unpack, stay put and feel like you’re at home on vacation, then a cottage/cabin or full/part home sharing is likely your best option. If you’re going to be a night here and there, then a hotel/motel or home sharing (AirBnb) type of accommodation may work better. And if you’re a back to nature, outdoorsy type, PEI has campgrounds galore for you to choose from.

Commercial cottages:

In the first of this 3 part series, we’ll discuss the two main types of cottages in Prince Edward Island. The first are commercial rental housekeeping cottages. This type is a resort may have anywhere from 2  to 10 or more housekeeping cottages for rent in a single area. These are especially common in the north shore area near Cavendish Beach and other beaches in the National Park area. 

One advantage to this type of cottage is for groups who may be comprised of several families traveling together. They will be able to rent several cottages in very close proximity to each other. While renting several hotel rooms would provide the same proximity, often families want additional amenities (playgrounds, laundromat, pools, etc) a hotel may not provide. In addition, renting this type of cottage can be less expensive than renting multiple rooms at a hotel.

Most commonly this type of cottage offers two bedrooms but one, three or four bedroom cottages are also available. The cottage would generally include a living room, a kitchen and a deck or patio. Inside typically only linens, towels and kitchenware (plates/cutlery/pots etc) are provided. Guests must provide not only their own food but also condiments, spices, food wrap/tin foil, etc. Occasionally commercial cottages with larger numbers of housekeeping units will have a shared swimming pool.

Private cottages:

The second type of cottage are those which are privately owned and rented for either some or all  of the tourist season. Cottages in this category are typically bigger starting at 3 bedrooms, sleeping 6 or 8. It’s not difficult to find one cottage that sleeps 12 or 14 people. Compared to the price of renting hotel rooms for that many people, renting a large cottage and preparing some of your meals can be more cost effective.

As a renter I personally preferred this type of cottage to housekeeping units as they are typically better equipped than housekeeping units, often having much more “common space” and other amenities such as laundry facilities, multiple washrooms, books/games, kayaks/canoes, bicycles, other sports equipment, and much better equipped kitchens. While people may think having larger and more common space isn’t really a big deal because you’ll be spending most of the day outside or away from the cottage, I would have to say that the weather doesn’t always cooperate in Canada, even in summer.

If you get a rainy day or two you’ll appreciate having extra space as the kids get a bit wild from being cooped up. In addition, a cottage of this type may have also access to a pool/tennis court such as we do in our community of The Hebrides. After spending a day at the beach, it was not uncommon for our kids to want to go swimming again after dinner so it was very convenient for the kids to walk to the pool from the cottage rather than packing up the car again and heading back to the beach.

Our Cottage:

For the past three summers we’ve traveled with some of my husband’s family members. The four bedroom cottages we rented easily accommodated four adults and four or five children. It was during our August 2018 trip when we saw that a nearby cottage (pictured below) was for sale. By the end of the week we had signed an agreement and closed the deal just three weeks later.

As we are Nova Scotia residents who are still working at this point, we cannot use our cottage for the entire summer or even most of the summer. So we will use it for several weeks each season and allow others to rent it for the remaining weeks. Last fall I spent a week putting a fresh coat of paint inside and this spring we’ll be adding air conditioning, as well as a side desk and front deck before rental season begins. While my husband feels we need to keep the small shed (lower left in photo) as storage, I still might turn it into a playhouse or a she shed!

The water you see at the top of the photo is the small lower portion of New London Bay. Just out of sight on the right is the main part of New London Bay where I can see the sun rising over the distant dunes from the bedroom window.

So while I’d rather be there all summer, at this point we can’t be. Renting the cottage out for the time we’re not there helps pay off the mortgage sooner. Some people have asked if we’re concerned about having renters in our summer home. We’re not! Using a reputable, local property management firm that specializes in summer cottage rentals gives us peace of mind that our investment will be taken care of when in use by others. They handle booking the cottage, cleaning, dealing with any issues that may come up, etc for us.

rectangular swimming pool with picnic tables neaby

How to find a private cottage:

So how can you find this type of cottage? There are several options such as an online vacation rental company. The one we use is PEISummerVacationRentals.com. Others include: VRBO.com, Homeaway.com, CanadaStays.com, or AirBnB.ca. Just be sure if you’re using a global site that the currency is set to quote in Canadian dollars or you could get a nasty surprise when it comes time to pay.

If you don’t want to spend a lot of time on the internet, if you’re on the island, you may see signs in a yard if the cottage is rentable so when you’re driving in an area you like, keep your eyes peeled!

I hope this information is helpful and in the next post we’ll discuss campgrounds.

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