Whether it be Birmingham or Bari, city breaks are still really popular, and there is a slew of hotels on all the various websites offering city centre rooms. However, increasingly, we’ve been finding great deals staying in self-catering apartments, in super locations for very reasonable prices.
|Plenty of comforts|
Why go self-catering?
There are many benefits to staying in a self-catering apartment. This type of accommodation definitely feels like a home away from home because first of all, you have freedom. Freedom to come and go as you please – in a hotel I usually feel obliged to stay out all day. Lie in if you want to without the concierge chasing you out in order to service the room – most will do the room every third day and you can ask if you want it done more frequently. Cook (or not) if you want to; with a fridge and cooking facilities to hand you can manage your refreshments as you want them, within your budget. The genuine comfort of sufficient armchairs/sofas in which to really enjoy a good sit down when you’ve finished foot slogging around town all day.
As a growing niche in the market, it seems that the quality of these apartments is very high. Get a taste of loft style living in a big city like Birmingham or enter the lap of luxury in converted theatres or grand villas in Italy.
Location, location, location… you can find apartments at the heart of wherever it’s happening, (whatever it is your looking for). All of the usual online booking sites seem to do great deals on apartments too.
All the comforts of home are standard these days, television (often with DVD players), WIFI (I won’t stay anywhere that does not offer it) and copious outlets for all of your gadgets are almost de rigeur. Washing machines and ironing gear are also common.
|A kitchen fit for real life|
Obviously, self-catering means cooking, if you’re happy to bring your inner Domestic Goddess (or in my house Galloping Gourmet) with you then that’s great, but if part of your idea of a holiday is to escape the drudgery of cooking, then… just don’t. However, self-catering is a great way to balance a small budget and defeating “restaurant fatigue” by alternating the cooking/eating out. If one of you does most of the cooking at home, maybe the non/less-cooking partner could take a turn on holiday.
Many so called ‘self- catering’ establishments don’t really seem to expect you to cater for yourself at all
What to be aware of
Self-catering can mean different things to different proprietors. Many don’t really seem to think you actually want to cater for yourself. So be warned, the level of equipment may vary considerably – I’ve been in places that seemed to have read my mind in having everything you could possibly need but also some that have had one tiny electric ring that didn’t really work; insufficient or broken pans, impenetrable mechanisms with no instructions and a kitchen where turning on the oven blew all of the fuses in the property.
If your holiday depends heavily on being able to cook for yourself, it may be worth an email to your host beforehand, checking what they have. Just to be on the safe side here are some things to consider bringing with you.
- A tea-towel
- A small bottle of cooking oil
- A small container of salt/pepper/seasoning of your choice
- A few stock cubes
- A small jar of instant coffee/tea bags
- A mini bottle of washing up liquid and a dishcloth
- Universal sink plug (yes even after all this time)
- A small chopping board*
- Travel kettle*
- Sharp knife and scissors*
*If you have hold luggage.
You can, of course, buy all of these in the local supermarket but usually, you will end up wasting a lot of it.
Even on a long trip, you can fit in a “city break”. We are alternating between hotels and apartments depending on the deals available and that’s working out really well.
What’s do you think of apartments as holiday accommodation? Is there anything else that you think should be in a self-catering survival kit? I ‘d really be interested to know if I’ve left anything out.