Image Copyright liseykina, 2011 Used under license from Shutterstock.com
I’ve just come back from a road trip around northern Spain (more on that in a future blog) and had a superb time. Only thing is, even the best hotels in the world can’t always deliver what you want. If you’re in Barcelona and want to shop at the world-famous food market La Boqueria, take your incredible haul back and cook it, you’ll need some kitchen facilities. Or you want to dress down, crack open some wine and enjoy the evening sunshine? You’ll need a balcony, pool or garden for that. Hotels don’t always have them. Want to live like a local? Kick back in casual clothes? Need somewhere to stash your surfboard? Just want a little privacy with your partner? You get the gist - hotels probably aren’t the answer.
Holiday homes near beaches
Seaside holidays make particular demands on your accommodation. You’re after somewhere comfortable but, ideally, where you can get to with sand on your feet, water dripping off your shorts. While apartments might seem cheapest, they rarely make the most sense. Team up with some friends, hire a villa and watch the costs tumble. You’ll have plenty of space and possibly your own pool too.
Spain, Portugal and Greece all fit the bill here, and prices are really reasonable right now. Try around Alicante, Spain and west of Faro along the Algarve region in southern Portugal. Try sites like Owners Direct and Holiday Lettings. They’re UK-based, so English-speaking, which should reduce language issues. Just ensure you’ve got some air-conditioning in summer!
City break apartment rentals
Hotel costs can be sky-high in popular city destinations like London, Paris and Barcelona. If you’re staying longer than three days or so, apartments can be a cheaper option, even in the centre. Not least because you may eat out at expensive restaurants less. Good transport links, kitchen facilities and easy access to the keys are crucial.
Try these website options for holiday home rentals:
These demand a slightly different approach but often offer exceptional value. You’ll need a rental car, but holiday home rentals with views, outside space (terraces, a pool, etc), security and privacy are key.
In hotter regions like southern Italy and central Spain, mountain retreats offer more comfortable temperatures, not to mention exceptional views. Try around Lake Bracciano, about an hour north of Rome, or the Dordogne region east of Bordeaux in southern France. The region offers superb wines and more reasonable prices than the Cote D'Azur on the Mediterranean coast.
Remember that whilst a little peace and tranquillity is great, you’ll still need supplies and evenings out for dinner and drinks, so a bustling market town with restaurants and a supermarket within reach is important.
Top tips whatever the holiday:
- Book for at least a week for the best rates. The longer, the better.
- Location is vital – close to airports is good, at the end of the runway, less so. Equally, you can be ‘too close’ to the centre of things – noise could well be a problem. Just be handy for transport options.
- For anything other than city breaks, you’ll almost certainly need a car, despite what the brochure may say. Going direct to the big car rental companies isn’t always the best method – try aggregators like Vroom Vroom Vroom or Travel Supermaket for cheap car hire.
- Much of August is a write-off in Europe – it’s hot, many businesses are closed and it’s full of tourists. The smart money is on other months.
With the accommodation under control, now all you need are some top restaurant tips, fashion advice and a woman on your arm. Might I suggest this fantastic blog which might help you improve your chances of all three?