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Appliances in England

Pauline Kenny updates by Susan (aka Panda)

This page is an overview of the appliances you will find in most vacation rentals in the United Kingdom.


UK plugs are not the standard plugs used in much of Europe. They are as pictured below. You need a plug adapter for the electrical things you bring to the UK. See our Europe Trip Planning - Electronics page for more information about plug and power adapters.

North American and United Kingdom plugs and adapters

Plug and AC Adapter for my notebook with the United Kingdom Adapter plug

Where to Buy Plug Adapters

Purchase plug adapters from our affiliate Amazon (see details at bottom of page).

Wall Switches/Plugs

Plugs in England have an extra level of safety - an on/off switch for each socket. In the photo below, you can see the socket with the plug in it is turned on (on the left), but the other is off. Put the plug in the socket with the socket turned off, then turn on the socket. Remember the voltage is much higher in England and you do not want to get a shock when putting in the plug. Turn the socket off when the appliance is not in use.

Wall socket with two sockets and two on/off switches


Many vacation rentals in England do not have phones. Most holiday cottages are used by people from England and it is assumed that they either want to "get away from it all" or will have their own cell phone. If a cottage does have a phone, it will be one of the following types:

  • Coin Box Phone: You can make out going calls using coins, but you cannot receive calls and you cannot use it with your computer to go online (there is no place to plug in the phone line).
  • Incoming Calls Only: This is a regular phone, but it has been set up so that you can only receive calls, you cannot make any calls. You cannot use it with your computer.
  • Telephone: Usually this means a phone that you can use to receive or make calls, but always check to be sure. If you need to connect your computer to a phone to go online, be sure to tell the agent/owner and confirm that you can do this. Some phones are hardwired into the wall and you cannot unplug the phone and plug in your computer modem.

Coin Box phone in a vacation rental

Stovetops and Ovens

In England, most vacation rentals have stovetops and ovens. Some ovens have a fan setting for defrost or for oven cooking. If the oven does not turn on, check the fan setting.

Water Heaters

A common type of water heater in vacation rentals is an "on demand" heater; the water is heated as it runs. It can be slow to get the hot water started, but usually these work very well. In our Winchcombe cottage in 2004, the water heater was used for the heating system as well as the hot water. Beware if you are trying to run two showers or a basin tap and a shower at the same time since from one of these ‘combi’ boilers, as they are known, as the flow rate will be very disappointing. We have also run across immersion water heaters. These you turn on 30 minutes before you have a bath or shower, but you may not have to do this as they are often on timers to ensure that there will be sufficient hot water in the morning or for bedtime.

Washing Machines and Dryers

Washer and dryer in one machine, May 2005

Many vacation rentals have a small washer/dryer combination; this is one machine that looks like a washer, but it also a dryer. You put in the laundry and it washes, spins, rinses, and then dries. These are usually small machines and you do not want to fill them too much, or the dryer will not work. Fill them about 2/3s full. You can often get a better result by doing the wash, taking out the clothes and dividing into two shorter drying sessions.

The photo to the right is a Hotpoint washer/dryer in our Somerset vacation rental.

How To Use

On the control panel you find the following: a drawer to pull out and add soap (on the left), buttons for economy wash or half load, the descriptions of cycles, settings for the dryer (length of dry time), settings for the cycle, on/off button.

For adding the soap, usually there are two places labeled 1 and 2. If you select a prewash, put soap for the prewash in compartment 1. For the regular wash, put soap in compartment 2.

Set the cycle, set the time for drying (usually 60 or 90 minutes), put in the soap, load the clothes, close the front loading door, press the on/off button. Make sure the power is switched on (at the wall). Many of the cycles are quite long (two hours for the wash alone is not unknown): unless you are washing sheets or towels, use the Half Load option. The ‘Quick Wash’ cycle on most machines of between 25 and 45 minutes gives a perfectly adequate result for clothes unless it has been a particularly muddy hike! The Economy button often means either a reduced heat or water just as it comes from the water tank or pipeline – fine for the summer months or if using the latest low temperature washing detergents.

UK Washer/Dryer control panel, May 2005

The control panel. Click for a larger image.

Electric Kettle

All English vacation rentals have an electric kettle and they are fabulous. They boil water in just a few minutes! Put the water in the kettle, put the kettle on its base, turn it on (there will be a switch, usually on the handle, and a light comes on), and the water is boiled before you know it. The kettle turns off once the water has reached a rolling boil. (Make sure the socket is turned on at the wall!)

Electric kettle. Put it on the base and flip the switch under the handle.


You will find "cafetiere" coffee makers in most cottages. They are also called a "French Press".

To use: Take the top and the filter off, rinse with warm water, put in the ground coffee, pour boiled water over the grounds (make sure it is "off the boil"), put top and filter on and let sit for a few minutes. Then gently push the plunger down so the filter and coffee grounds move to the bottom and the coffee sits above. Pour when the plunger is all the way down.

Electric kettle and cafetiere - coffee and water are in, plunger is up.

How much coffee? Use the same amounts as for a drip coffee maker. The caffetiere in this photo holds 4 cups (5 oz. per cup, total of 20 fluid ounces). I put one tablespoon of ground coffee for each cup - 4 tablespoons. This might be a bit strong.

Other Appliances in Vacation Rentals

In most English vacation rental cottages, you will find a toaster and a microwave.

US to United Kingdom Plug Adapters

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