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Renting an apartment or booking a hotel room, what’s your preferred travel choice?
Until very recently the idea of paying to stay in someone else’s apartment was a very alien concept to me. Looking at cheap weekend getaways first with my family and then with my friends, I was forced to consider the idea of paying to stay in someone’s home rather than a swish hotel room in order to keep costs down.
As you can probably tell,Â I wasn’t very keen on the idea at first, obsessing that it would never be up to my cleanliness standards (I’m a little OCD shall we say) or that we’d pick the one owned by a crazy mass murderer who would sneak back into the house at night to chop us up with an axe (I also have quite a vivid imagination).
Converted to renting a home away from home
However, I pushed all my irrational concerns aside and decided to give it a try during a recent trip to Lisbon and I became a total convert. Sure, hotels have their perks (room service, cooked breakfasts, swimming pools, concierges etc) but what I loved was the freedom having a home away from home provides.
The biggest plus – living space. When you rent a house or apartment you’re not cooped up in one little room, instead you’ve got the comfort of a sofa to chill on after a busy day out. Bliss.
Having a kitchen means you can eat what you want, when you want, trouble free and you might even have a nice dining table, allowing you to eat in on the odd evening when you’re just too tired to head back out and find a good restaurant.
Live like a local
One of the other things I’ve discovered about renting an apartment or house, is that you become even more immersed in the local culture. Hotel rooms pretty much look the same wherever you are, but when you rent out a home you get to experience what local living is like. In Lisbon, for example, I loved the shutters on the windows and the beautiful tiles and high ceilings of our apartment – I was also very surprised at how big a two bedroom flat can be!
During our trip to Bruges it was more of the same. We found a wonderful hidden gem of a townhouse minutes from the main square complete with a tight winding staircase and oh so European styling. We also often ventured out to local cafes and restaurants, where menus didn’t come in english but the food tasted twice as good at half the price!
Experience a part of the city you’d otherwise miss
Another thing to remember is that when you rent out a home, you often end up exploring a part of the city you might not otherwise see. So far I’ve only rented homes in Lisbon and Bruges, but on both occasions although the locations were still very central, I ended up going off the tourist track and seeing the ‘real’ city. Even just heading down a few side streets can add something to your visit.
So there you have it. Both hotels and rentals have their place, but when it comes to a get away with moreÂ than just my partner and I, then I’ll definitely be checking out a local place to stay…
So, hotel or apartment?
What’s your take on the hotels vs rentals argument? Have you ever used sites like Airbnb or Wimdu to find a place to stay when travelling or are you totally against the idea and will forever be a hotel purist?