Where you sleep matters.

You can marvel at Stonehenge, scream down the roller coasters at Pleasure Beach, and take romantic walks along the seashore, but your once-in-a-lifetime trip to Britain could be ruined by a noisy hostel or 82 steps to your bed and breakfast room. The last thing you want is to have your holiday memories obscured by that dingy hotel with cockroaches, sticky pillows, and gurgling noises from the drain. My solution: home rental.

One of my all-time favourite travelling experiences was when my mom, grandma, and two cousins came across the Pond and we visited London, Edinburgh, and the Cotswolds. It was an amazing trip, and I think a big reason we all enjoyed it so much was because we stayed in private homes.

We didn’t know any of the owners. In fact, we only met one. The rest were known only through computer messages and notes attached to complimentary bottles of wine. Using websites like airbnb.com and VRBO, we rented two flats and a cottage, each experience better than the last. We found homes that were close to public transport, big enough for 5 people, and had oodles of character.

Ediburgh apartment window

Peeking out from our Edinburgh apartment

Stepping into an apartment is a completely different experience from a hotel, or even a bed and breakfast. In those places you’re a guest; in an apartment you are a local. This isn’t a sterile, faceless room meant for sleeping. It’s a living breathing home with family photos, colourful duvets, half-finished sticks of butter, and a personality of its own. Of course there’s always a chance that a house could fall short of your expectations, but user reviews are a great help in deciding which owners are trustworthy and which locations suit your needs.

My neighbourhood…for three nights

We collected our first key from the kebab shop down the road. We got to shop at the grocery store and cook our own meals, watch DVDs from the owner’s collection, and see a side of town that tourists miss out on. Your typical tourist doesn’t go to Fulham, but we did. We discovered delicious Middle-Eastern cuisine, bought ice cream late at night from the Sainsbury’s down the road, and had coffee and crumpets for breakfast in our ivy-covered garden.

It’s great to deal directly with homeowners instead of staff at a reception desk. These are people who love their city and are often full of insider information on what to see and do. Sometimes they’ll even give you special extras, like the wonderful owner who left us a smartphone and travel adapters. That’s an experience that money can’t buyoh wait, it can!

Perhaps best of all, renting an apartment can actually be the cheaper option for traveling. If you’re travelling with someone else (especially if your party is three or more), a rented flat can be much more cost-effective than multiple rooms at a bed and breakfast or hotel. Plus, no check-in times or curfew, and no noisy neighbours in the next room.

 

So let’s sum this up. The advantages are:

  • better atmosphere
  • more flexibility
  • plenty of self-service conveniences
  • experiencing the “hidden” side of town
  • more affordable than bed and breakfasts or fancy hotels (especially for large or odd-numbered groups)
  • becoming a local for a few days
What are you waiting for? Do some research and see what fantastic places you can find for your next holiday.

Have you ever rented a home for a holiday? What was your experience? Any funny hotel stories?

Written by Abigail Young

I've had a passion for everything British my entire life, despite being raised as a small-town girl in the American Midwest, After years of dreaming, I got the chance to live and work in England for an entire year. Now I write about my favorite country, and hopefully inspire my fellow Britophiles to get over there and experience it for themselves.

This article has 2 comments

  1. Cranberry Morning Reply

    I’ve heard of both of those sites but have never used them – yet. Our granddaughter used airbnb when she visited Norway and France; our daughter used VBRO when she visited Italy. Both were pleased with accommodations and the experience. We’ve stayed in budget B&Bs, a small (12 room) hotel in London, and a holiday cottage outside York. We liked all, for various reasons. The holiday cottage proved to be the least expensive since we had our daughter and her husband with us, who shared the expenses. I love the feature of visiting with the owners in a B&B. The hotel was central London so very convenient. The rooms were microscopic, but we didn’t care; we weren’t there to spend time in the room anyway. The holiday cottage gave us the ability to come and go as we pleased and be located in a perfect spot for seeing the area. Funny story? Not really, but I do wonder why it’s taking the Brits so long to figure out that they could have a central spigot in the sink that would combine hot water with cold water. LOL

  2. Sarah Reply

    Another one to consider is http://www.couchsurfing.com – its free! Perhaps not so easy if you have a large party, but for one or two people you get to stay in someone’s house for free.

    I just came across your blog via a picture of pottage on Pinterest, and I am very impressed. Try some of the lesser known areas when you come back again!

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