What inspired you to start Kip Hideaways?
Liz: Both of our backgrounds are in boutique travel, so it was a natural progression. Over the years that as friends and from working together, we’d both discovered some really gorgeous little hideaways for our own holidays, that were great value, and we always used to say, ‘there should be a website just of these’ – because they’re not easy to find, and when you do, it’s so rewarding because you have such a special holiday as a result. When we both found ourselves freelance at the same time, we made a pub-inspired decision to set one up ourselves – and amazed ourselves that we followed through with it the next day! Once we started, we became absolutely hooked on creating it, and now both work full-time on Kip, which feels like a dream come true.
Have you always wanted to work in this area?
Sarah: Absolutely. We are both hugely passionate about finding and sharing gorgeous hidden gems and so proud of Kip and everything it stands for. It was really important to us to build a brand around everything we truly loved about UK-travel and one that supported sustainable, grassroots places to stay. Our tagline is ‘small places with soul’ and we are hugely selective and take great care curating our collection and that’s what we feel really sets us apart from other sites. To see both our membership and collection of hideaways grow over the last two years has been incredible.
What’s your top piece of advice for anyone looking for a holiday or travel idea?
Liz: For us it’s important to stay somewhere that truly inspires you, whether that’s the decor, setting or experience. Holidays are such a wonderful opportunity to go somewhere that really excites you, so don’t settle for mediocre. We also think it’s important to really make the most of that time away, properly switching off and immersing yourself in the experience of it. Whether it’s a cosy Cotswolds cottage or a cabin in the wilderness it’s all about living in the moment and soaking it all up.
Which are your favourite areas to visit and why?
Sarah: We love off-the-beaten track places, particularly in Wales and Scotland, both of which are so empty compared to many of the English holiday hotspots. Wales’s rugged Cambrian Mountains, stunning Llyn Peninsula, and the peaceful Vale of Glamorhan, and Scotland’s epic West Coast and the Isle of Skye.
Who is one of your biggest inspirations – either professionally or personally?
Liz: My parents. They are both incredibly hard working, positive and kind. They absolutely live life to the max, loving every day.
Sarah: I’m incredibly lucky to have a wonderful circle of friends, family and colleagues and especially through lock-down and difficult times I really learnt how important it was to cultivate and nurture those connections. I couldn’t possibly choose just one but I think my message is to surround yourself with people who inspire you. Also, David Attenborough is and always will be my absolute hero, what a legend.
What do you think makes a successful trip/Kip hideaway destination?
Liz: Beautiful natural surroundings. We love to walk, cycle, swim, sea kayak and paddleboard, and to eat alfresco meals, all year round. The interiors of our hideaways are always incredible – that’s why we choose them – but the surrounds are what we fill our days with.
What’s the hardest thing about your job?
Liz: Without a doubt, the work/life balance. We’re both parents to young children, so want to be fully present for them when they are not at school, but it’s very hard to switch off when the emails and work Whats’Apps constantly flood in. I work in the early morning whereas Sarah works in the late evening a lot, when the kids are (hopefully!) asleep.
Sarah: Yes, Liz sums it up perfectly, the juggle and that guilt you get from feeling you’re never quite getting the balance right. But, we’re working on it!
Which part of your job do you most enjoy?
Sarah: Visiting all the hideaways and getting to know our owners, all of whom are so lovely. We feel very lucky to do what we do and every time we visit somewhere new it’s like wow this is our job! And it’s so exciting to be able to support our independent owners, by sharing their offering with our likeminded community. All round it’s a win-win.
Do you find it easy to balance work and play?
Liz: Absolutely not! See above. We are both trying hard to find a better balance, though, and vowing to take a bit of time for ourselves regularly too, which is always the first thing to go when you’re mad busy. We feel super lucky to be living the lives we’re living, but equally want to give more to both work and play!
Talk us through your typical day – from waking up to going to bed.
Liz: I’m an early bird, up at 6am to do some work before my daughter gets up at 8am. I then generally work while she’s at school, bar the odd Pilates class or walk with a friend, then pick her up again at 3pm and hang out with her for the rest of the day. Activities / playdates / homework / supper / life admin, it’s pretty chaotic (and my house is usually a mess!). I try to watch an hour of television with my husband before I go up to bed at 9.30pm, where I read for as long as I can before I start to panic about not getting enough sleep and pass straight out.
Sarah: Oh, that’s actually a really tough one for me! It’s quite hard to pin me down a typical day, they really vary so much in terms of where I am and what I’m working on – and dare I say, I like it that way. Working mostly remotely means I often have the freedom to be anywhere, and I try and take advantage of that as much as I can. But wherever I am, I like to try and start the day with a walk. Getting out into nature and stretching my legs always puts me in the best mood. And there’s always coffee involved, lots of coffee!