The Insider’s Guide to Finding An Ontario Cottage Rental this Summer

Are you thinking of an Ontario cottage rental for your vacation this summer? If so, you probably dream of fun and games on the water, lazing on the dock with that book you’ve been dying to read, balmy evenings spent barbecuing and watching a knockout sunset, and roasting marshmallows on the campfire. Then, waking to the sound of loons calling before another day in paradise. 

Not all Ontario cottage rentals are the same. You'll want to do your homework to find that perfect cottage for your group. This is a photo taken from the water of one our cottages.

You may be surprised to hear that cottages can book an entire year in advance with early calendar releases and return bookings! With rental agencies reporting high demand in every Ontario cottage country region, people tend to be scrambling for the last few cottages available by spring and already feel they have missed out. But there is hope!

While you may have already spent many hours vainly searching the big listing sites, eagerly following up on dates that look available only to find your hopes dashed again, don’t give up. You just have to do some savvy searching and planning ahead.

These practical tips will help to make sure your dream becomes a reality, even when it looks as though you may have missed out. All you need to do is your homework and have a great time this summer.

Sign up for Rental Agency’s Ontario Cottage Waitlists

Cottage rental agencies have been around for a long time and have many loyal and repeat guests. What you may not realize is that most of them don’t advertise their cottages on Airbnb, VRBO or Trip Advisor. When CLRM list new properties on our website we will send an email out to our waiting list to give them the first opportunity to book.

While the likes of Airbnb and VRBO will charge a hefty service fee that usually amounts to around 15% of the rental rate, most agencies have a single booking fee that’s under 5%. That can be a significant saving.

When you book with CLRM, you also benefit from being able to talk to the person who viewed and onboarded the cottage and we can give you an honest description of the place and help you decide if it’s the right one for you and all of your guests.

Still Looking For Your Dream Ontario Cottage Rental?

We’ll send you information on new listings and cancellations. Make sure you act quickly as they will book up fast.

Be Prepared to Compromise

Have a family meeting and decide:

  • Which area you want to visit
  • How far you are willing to travel
  • How much you want to pay
  • How remote you want to be
  • What facilities you must have, and which are not as important

You probably have a long list of things that combine to create the perfect family vacation. Some of them will be must-haves – the things you could not imagine being without. Maybe a clear waterfront for swimming, a flat area for play, pet friendly properties you can bring your dogs, unlimited wifi or a washing machine. These have to be the things that would absolutely keep you at home if you could not have them.

Then there are the nice-to-have items – say a dishwasher, a screened sunroom, a games room and/or an extra washroom. These might be on your original must-have list but you may be prepared to drop them in order to get a great cottage that fits most requirements.

Finally, list what you could call the “in your dreams” features. Maybe a hot tub, pool table, king beds or a close-by marina where you can rent a boat. These can be sacrificed quite easily and won’t impact your enjoyment if you don’t have them.

If you are traveling with others, make sure you find out the must-haves for everyone.

Be Selective About The Waterfront

One of the top features of an Ontario cottage rental is the waterfront! You can see this cottage has a beautiful dock leading to the water and has Muskoka chairs to relax after a busy day of swimming

If you want to swim on vacation, then weed-free waterfront should be on your must-have list. Likewise, if you have small children and want a wade-in shoreline, don’t compromise on this. After all this is what a cottage country vacation is all about and if you spend the whole week regretting a booking made in haste, the memories won’t be so great.

Having said that, you may be able to snag a cottage in a less popular area or waterway – maybe a river or no-motor lake. It’s surprising what you can get by being less choosy about the region or type of water.

Read the Listing Thoroughly

When you get notice of some availability you’ll need to act on it straight away. In the summer of 2022 agencies were reporting sending cottage availability information to a waitlist and getting a booking within 10 minutes.

There’s limited time to ask questions when you hear of an opening, as everyone else on that list gets the same info at the same time. It’s first come-first served. Having said that, if it doesn’t look like it will be a truly perfect match, reach out to our team and we’ll be happy to quickly let you know if it covers your must-have list.

Knowing exactly what you want will help you read efficiently through a listing. Create a checklist you can run through and tick off the must-haves. If you get those covered, then move on to the next section of nice-to-haves.

Try not to get carried away with the in-your-dreams list. If a cottage has a hot tub but is unsuitable for your group in every other way, it’s not one to spend your money on.

Check the Cancellation Policy

Most agencies will give you some leeway if you book and then realize it really is not for you, as long as you recognize this quickly and ask questions on your application. However, since they are charged by credit card fees at the time you book, expect to forfeit the booking fee, unless you change your mind on the same day before the reservation has been processed.

Don’t despair….there is definitely hope for those who haven’t booked yet. You just have to do a bit of work – make some friends with our amazing team of Reservationists, and they will help to find you a perfect spot for your summer vacation.

CottageLINK Rental Management
Toll Free: 1-866 323 6698

Our Hours:
Mon-Fri 9-5
Sat-Sun 9-5

Business Address:
PO Box 39036
Columbia PO, Waterloo, ON, Canada N2T 0A7

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