Back in May I spent the long Bank Holiday weekend in Porto with three of my nearest and dearest. We chose to stay in a house carefully booked on Wimdu rather than a hotel. This trip, and my recent trip to Iceland where I stayed in an epic house out in the country has definitely cemented my thoughts that apartments are better than hotels when it comes to holiday accommodation.

There are things I look for when I’m booking holiday accommodation, in order: price, proximity, reviews, quality and uniqueness.

Holiday apartment in Iceland

Price

In my opinion and experience apartments from websites like Wimdu.com are cheaper than nearby hotel accommodation. It was a brand new apartment in the centre of Porto by one of the main stations, Trindade. We paid 309 Euros for 4 nights for 4 people = €19.31pppn. There were two huge bedrooms, one with an ensuite and the other with a main bathroom. There was a good-sized kitchen and a huge lounge with a pull out bed for two. This was spacious living.

There was a hostel just up the road from this place and I’ve just checked the prices: for one bed in a four-bed dorm it’s €20 per night, or €18 in an 8-bed. Price point proven!

This was the same with the house in Iceland – it was much cheaper than the surrounding accommodation. I stayed in a house with four others in Brighton in May and that was the same. We paid £25per night for a bed in a 5-bed house, while friends booked into the nearby hostel for £30.

Proximity

The random apartments and houses you find on these accommodation sites are located in every city setting you could want. In Iceland we were out in the wilderness. You could only see five houses for miles – exactly what we wanted.

More space in the holiday apartments

In Porto, and in Brighton, we were smack bang in the centre. Next to the train station and on the beach respectively. I’m currently searching for accommodation in Ho Chi Minh City and the story’s the same there too. Sites like Wimdu have a interactive map so you can easily see where the accommodation is.

How close it is to what I want it to be close to is very important – when you’re on the go you need convenience.

Reviews

What other people say means a lot. If I’m booking accommodation I always look at the reviews and base my decisions on that rather than book somewhere no one has reviewed. There’s a lot more trust when you’re booking apartments over hotels as you just never know who’s house you’re staying in – I’m not ready to be the trailblazer when it comes to this yet. On Wimdu.com you can see the stars, and the written reviews. Giving you more of a precise and information when it comes to making a decision.

Unless you’re on a hotel aggregator site, you can never trust the reviews given on the hotel sites.

Quality

What does the apartment look like? Is it clean? Are there any cunning camera angles perfectly positioned to avoid things they don’t want to show? Do they show the full apartment including all the bedrooms?

Houses vs Hotels

You have to remember that what they’re showing you in these photos is the absolute best of what they have. If the photos are crappy at this stage – you never know what you’ll find when you actually get there. I also look for the quality in the description and the write up – have they given a full description as if they’re proud of their rental dwelling and actually want you there, or is it three sentences of non-descript rubbish?

You need to be choosey at this stage to separate the wheat from the sheaf.

Uniqueness

If I’m down to the final three and they’ve passed the three stipulations above, it’s time to test their uniqueness. As a travel blogger I want to be impressed by everything – and if I stay in a cool apartment it means I can show off on my blog and maybe even write a story about it.

Holiday apartments tend to be more unique than hotels. No two apartments are the same – not like hotels where they’ve actually gone out of their way to make it look text book same. I find this quite soulless. One of the best things about staying in holiday accommodation is the unique foibles of your chosen house.

I’ll always enjoy staying in hotels, but all the stipulations are in favour of holiday accommodation sites right now. They’re usually better value, you can find them all over the big cities, the sites have great review systems, show off the quality and keep digging and you’ll find they’re a lot more unique than their hotel counterparts.

El Tranvia: The Best Restaurant in Cienfuegos
Massive Trip Abroad? How to Save Money