The short private access road to the cottage is in awful condition and the surrounding area is rundown and neglected, but we understand it belongs to others and the cottage owners have no control over it. This is not the case when you pass through the gate.
Our first impression was that the small front garden with seating area was nice but becoming neglected and overgrown, and with much evidence of the numerous visiting chickens. Entering the cottage, the pale carpet (not a good choice for a holiday let) had been badly soiled by previous less concerned users which vacuuming alone didn't shift. Another legacy of the chickens! Not a great start.
The cottage was generally well equipped, the furniture robust and comfortable. The kitchen had most things needed although a tray would have been useful. We suspect anyone with a young child or baby would have been pleased with the equipment provided for them, a high chair, safety gate, etc and plenty of games. Although the frame of the permanent safety gate at the top of the steep stairs left a dangerous trip hazard.
The small rear garden, again equipped with garden chairs and a table, was in pretty much the same condition as the front garden - in need of a few days concentrated attention.
However, this area of Wales is highly dependent on good weather for walking or visiting places further afield (Fairbourne has little to offer other than a very good Indian restaurant) and unfortunately the weather during our stay was cloudy and wet. As a result we perhaps needed use of the cottage's facilities more than if the weather had been hot and dry. The shabby condition therefore became more pronounced.
A more thorough clean would have not gone amiss; as well as the soiled carpet, cobwebs were plentiful, around light fittings, window reveals and corners and the stair handrail was sticky. In addition, several items of maintenance needed attention; the decoration was tired and paper was peeling from the walls, pieces of skirting were either loose or missing and the broken bath panel was fixed in place with a strip of masking tape.
Of greatest concern were the electrics which could have been installed by a non-too-competent DIYer. The two-way switching on the stairs didn't work, you had to switch the light off at the bottom, climb the stairs in the dark and switch the light on when you reached the top. However, the biggest problem was the electric shower which didn't work (incorrect wiring??). This was badly needed on cold wet days and the only alternative was to use the bath; unfortunately the heating arrangements only provided sufficient water for one person. We saw no evidence of an electricity test certificate (Sykes Cottages – your standards are slipping!)
Other things which annoyed us: we found slug trails on the kitchen utensils, then found the culprit - a 2" long brown slug; the TV has only a few channels although this might be because of the hilly terrain around the cottage (or poor instructions) and the instructions for operating the heating system didn't seem to work. Fortunately on the one particularly cold day we needed the heating there was the electric fire and a log to burn left by the owners.
In all, we thought the cottage was in urgent need of an overhaul, some items being more important than others - we would have swapped the welcome pack for a working shower. We booked 7 days but after 4, we'd had enough and went home. The worst cottage we have stayed in, our rating 1 star.