One thing that I love about travel is the variety of accommodation available. Even though it hasn’t been too exotic for me yet (I’m talking about tree houses and ice hotels, for example), I've had my fair share of houses, apartments, bungalows, lodges, hotel rooms, guest houses, bed & breakfasts, motels, hostel rooms, night trains, cabins, camper vans, yurts, underground caves (alright, that IS exotic -yay!) and tents.
Now different places and different occasions call for different lodging, right? From the purpose of your journey (say it's business related), to your time-frame (relaxed approach or tight schedule) to your own preferences ("One night on an air mattress equals five massage sessions. No thanks.") to what is available ("Well, there's still room in the stables, now that you ask..."), you have a variety of options to choose from. Okay, so the underground caves are not everywhere, but let's not split hairs here.
This year Loz and I discovered something new that hit the bullseye with us: renting an apartment for a city-break. Before, I had never really thought beyond hotels and hostels, which are admittedly fine options, but just can't beat living in my own apartment during a holiday.
It seems that renting an apartment has not made it yet into the classic accommodation-while-on-vacation picks, and that means a lot of people might unknowingly miss out. Now don't be afraid yet, maybe you're not one of them. Maybe you're more like Coco Chanel or Jimi Hendrix or other famous people who enjoyed and enjoy living in hotels for whole years. Although we might talk a slightly unusual lifestyle here. As for me, I can neither sew very well nor play the guitar, hence that lifestyle is at a whole different level.
So why do I prefer renting an apartment over a hotel room on a holiday?
- I really do feel more like a local. I can pretend I just moved here and this is my new flat. To the people I meet in the hall way it might as well be like that and they treat me as a part of their everyday life.
- I am independent. I can come and go when I want. I can get in and out of bed when I want - and don't have to worry about missing breakfast, because I can make my own meals, having a kitchen at my disposal. Good for one's budget, too. And usually apartments are conveniently located with a local supermarket being not too far away.
- I feel at home. This is a base where I can relax on a couch with a blanket after a day of stepping three times into dog poo. A hotel room usually consists of a bed, a study and an en-suite bathroom. To me that doesn't quite translate into "Enjoy hanging out here!" but into "You may sleep here, brush your teeth here and sit straight while you write a letter to your tax consultant here". Sadly I don't have a tax consultant.
- I feel inspired. Hotels often come across kind of sterile to me, no matter how well they are furnished, lit and decorated (there are some quirky exceptions, though). I understand that this is a desirable feature, because it should translate into clean and proper, but sometimes somewhere along the way it also translates into soulless, and that has a tendency to slightly depress me. Apartments, on the other hand, will express more individuality and creativity. You will also be amazed at how many different coffee-making apparatuses exist in this great big world of ours once you have entered the universe of apartment-renting.
- It is totally within my budget. If you think renting a whole apartment versus a hotel-room must be quite expensive, think again - or check it out yourself at Wimdu, and you will find that you can choose something to match your budget, however small or big that may be. Plus it's fun to virtually peek-a-boo into peoples' houses :).
- I like trying out something new when I feel it could really benefit me. As I said, renting an apartment for a vacation / a city-stay does not yet come automatically to mind as an option for each and everyone, and since it is kind of a 'new' thing that works via the internet, you might have your doubts. Very reasonable, as nobody wants to be scammed, less than ever when it comes to arriving in a foreign city after a long journey and just wanting to put your feet up in the apartment you have booked. But if you are anything like me and feel that staying in your own apartment instead of a hotel could significantly raise the quality of your stay, do a bit of research and you will find that there are rules in place to ensure that everyone involved is safe-guarded - so why not give it a try?
- Tea. The biggest reason though why I personally prefer apartments is because it enables me to drink my daily minimum of three litres of tea. That's right. I drink tea. A lot. Oddly, European hotels (with the refreshing exception of England) don't believe that a 'cuppa' is a human necessity several times a day. In my case, several litres a day. A kettle is therefore a must - a must not found in most hotel rooms, but in every apartment. And there you have it.
Should you now have gotten the impression that I feel that a dentist practice has more charm than any hotel room, I must correct you. I do also love staying in hotels. It just depends on the circumstances I'm in.
I have for instance fond memories of a fantastic hotel stay for one night in downtown Seoul, South Korea, on my way back from Australia, courtesy of the airline I flew with. Yes, there were a kettle and tea-bags in the room, but after several months of back-packing, I was really over the moon to have an amazing room to myself (did I mention it had a kettle?).
And we're talking fancy shizz-nizz here: the toilet was so high-tech that I couldn't work out how to flush it - 5 minutes before I had to go downstairs for dinner. I pressed many buttons until I found the one that cheerfully shot a water fountain straight at me, wetting my only pair of pants in a fashion that indicated serious incontinence on my behalf. So that was kind of interesting. After that, I immediately found the right button, of course. But that was AWESOME! I wish I could have seen my face...
I conclude: in the end it's really all about the memories that you end up creating in a place, isn't it? And if that place is one that manages to be in accordance with your preferences, all the better! So I hope this post has opened up options for you.
If it hasn't, you will at least have learned that you should never stand IN FRONT of a high tech toilet while figuring out how to flush it. Unless you fancy a free shower.
So, thank you for reading, and if you have any questions or know about other forms of accommodation that you feel are truly bodacious yet under-represented, you are very welcome to hit the comments!
Disclaimer – we were hosted by Wimdu for our recent trip down to Girona, and most of the photos in this post are from the apartment we were loaned for our four days. Opinions remains our own – no amount of kettles can buy our thoughts!