One of the most important aspects of a holiday is finding accommodation, somewhere you’ll end up sleeping for the next few nights and somewhere that will be a base point in the middle of a new city or town. The most important aspect of finding accommodation is deciding what type of accommodation you’re actually going to use, whether it be a hostel, B&B (Bed & Breakfast), hotels or apartments. These each have their own advantages and disadvantages as well as their own unique features which individually tailor to each person.
B&B’s (Bed & Breakfasts)
B&B’s are simply places that include a room to sleep in overnight as well as including breakfast at the start of each morning. These lodgings tend to be quite small businesses and they are usually family run, with members of the family catering to different aspects of the business: greeting guests, cleaning, cooking breakfast or doing other small jobs around the house.
One advantage of staying at these establishments are that, unlike most hotels, there is a freshly cooked breakfast (usually with ingredients bought from a local farmer’s market or grown on site). These breakfasts are not only delicious but can be tailored to the individual since you can ask for specific items from the menu as well as asking for your food to be cooked in a certain way (if you like your boiled eggs hard or soft). However, a small minority of these establishments have a limited menu which fail to consider people with different diets such as people that are vegetarian or vegan, as they may offer a cooked breakfast that features meat with no substitutes for items such as sausages or bacon. It may be even harder to cater to people with gluten-free diets since B&B’s may not know the specific ingredients that go into every item that they serve at breakfast.
As mentioned before B&B’s are usually run by family members in their own home, which has been renovated to make their home into their business. This creating an exceptional level of customer service since these independent businesses need returning customers to make a profit, which means it’s more likely that they will take a hands-on approach to what the customer wants. Staying at a B&B provides the sense of it being a home since there are usually very few guests staying there as B&B’s generally only hold around 3 to 6 rooms. This may not be to everyone’s taste as some people staying there may find that they are forced to socialise with one another at breakfast. If you like meeting new people and sharing your experiences then this would be perfect for you. However, if you’re an introvert like me then this would be an absolute nightmare for me. Don’t get me wrong I enjoy talking to new people, but just at my own pace as well as not when I’m scoffing down breakfast and look like a hamster with its cheeks full.
The main reason people stay at B&B’s is for the locality of it since it is generally located in the heart of a town or city. This making it easy for tourists and travelers to go and explore during the day without having the hassle of taking public transport or having to take a long journey to get there. This also adds as a bonus for when you’re tired and just want your bed, which most days I do, after a long day of sightseeing and walking around. Even though B&B’s do pride themselves in a general location they can lack the amenities that hotels may offer such as a gym, spa and a swimming pool. Nonetheless, would you really expect a small family run business to be priding itself on a swimming pool and luxury amenities when its purpose is to give you a place to stay and a breakfast the morning after. Another downside to B&B’s being independent is that there isn’t usually a formal complaints policy and procedure that most hotels and hostels provide. If you had a complaint the furthest you could take it would be to the business/people you had stayed at, which in a worst case scenario may mean they ignore the matter which leaves you helpless.
Hotels are establishments that serve for a range of purposes, the main one being a place to stay for a couple of days, as well as providing meals and in some cases transport for guests. Hotels can either be part of a chain or independent, with hotels that are part of a chain being widely known as well as being very professional in the level of service that they aim to provide. In most hotels there are dedicated staff members for each section for the hotel: reception staff, chefs and waiters as well as cleaners with these people customarily wear uniform to show that they’re representing the hotel and being easy to spot for any queries or problems from guests.
I personally love the simplicity of hotels. When I travelled to Barcelona all I wanted to do was check in and get back into bed, since I had been up since 4am and had been travelling all day. The usual check in process begins by saying the name the booking is under, signing a few documents or providing photocopies of your passport and in some cases discussing the city tax. Nevertheless, not everything can be as simple as checking in and checking out hassle free. Most hotels have a policy where guests need to check out between 10am and 11am (some hotels make guests check out even earlier) and they can only check in from a certain time such as 2pm since cleaners need to make sure the room is tidy and presentable for the next guests.
Another thing I like about hotels is that they include a range of amenities, in which most come included in the price, such as WiFi, room service (in which your towels and bedding is changed daily) and if you’re lucky enough you might find a fridge or microwave in your room - the dream. These make staying away from home much easier since through these you’re able to do what you could do at home: speak to family and friends as well as keeping snacks in your room (maybe it’s just me). The only downside to this are that hotels can range in price, which also affects the quality of these amenities, since lower-budget hotels may provide slower WiFi as well as the comfort of your beds (this is not applicable to all hotels, but a majority). If hotels do include breakfast in the price, or even charge extra on top of the room rate, this breakfast has a likely chance of being cooked with cheaper and low quality ingredients. This is because they are being used to fed hundreds of people in some cases, so they will not be the freshest, with food being a buffet style (you can go up as much as you want and get whatever you want). Unlike B&B’s there is more of a chance that hotels will cater to vegetarians and vegans since there is a higher likelihood that guests will have different food diets.
Not only do most hotels have a dedicated complaints procedure for customers, which can either be through social media accounts or websites, some hotels have 24/7 receptions. This allowing guests to sort out problems immediately or making arrangements for them to be fixed, from the smallest of problems like asking for more towels (which are typically delivered to the room by staff members) or asking to be moved to another room (if there is a noise problem or in extreme cases bug infestations). With most chain hotels they will include generic hotel rooms, in this sense rooms don’t have a life of their own and most rooms will be exactly the same. In each room you’ll find a single or a double bed, a painting on the wall, a chair in the corner in the room and the generic ‘Welcome to the X Hotel! Have a wonderful stay’ book or pamphlet. This experience is tolerable for people just wanting a place to stay, but does not give the personalized experience that a B&B or an apartment may give. It would be highly unlikely that the staff there would remember your name or give you a personalized and memorable experience.
Holiday Rentals are rentals of different types of accommodation such as apartments, houses, cottages or home stays, in which people usually rent out properties that they own or have bought. The most common site people associate with holiday rentals is Airbnb since people can either rent out their property on there or people can find a place to stay either in their home country or the place they are travelling to.
The hassle of travelling with a lot of people is a nightmare since the thought of someone misplacing their passport or being late to the airport would ruin a holiday before it had even begun. The even bigger nightmare is finding accommodation that everyone likes, whether it be the price tag that comes along with it or the decor of bedroom they’ll be staying in. Apartments these days are usually modern and suited to everyone's tastes so that people will want to rent it while abroad. When I was in Australia me and my family stayed in a home that belonged to a family that rented it to us while they were out of the country. This home had that warm feeling surrounding it since around the house some of the rooms were decorated for children but others were more modern and grown up for the adults. Regardless, the home may look like a home from the pictures but in depth information is needed before agreeing to renting a home from somebody you don’t know in a place you haven’t been to. In this situation it’s best to book through a website as well as researching the neighborhood: Is it safe? Is there good transport links? Is this property located in the centre of a town or on the quiet outskirts? Another handy tip would be to look at the property or ask the owner what security measures they have in place.
Even though holiday rentals are not everybody’s cup of tea, it can save a lot of money in the long run especially if you’re travelling with a lot of people. If you are travelling with 10 people and are dividing the price equally then you would be paying only 10% of the price for the whole property (including a bed, shower facilities and the amenities of a home). It may be a hassle checking in since communication between the renter and guests may be limited and you’d have to contact them to resolve the problem. For example, the renter may hide a key in a padlocked box with a number for a code to unlock it, if the code did not work you’d be stuck in the middle of someone’s front garden with a bunch of suitcases waiting for them to contact you and fix it.
A home away from home is exactly what the title says: you have to do everything you’d do at home at this holiday rental. Some people may be lucky enough to get a BBQ thrown in with their accommodation since it was already part of the property which means fresh delicious food as well as spending some quality time with family or friends. With a kitchen provided many people enjoy to make home cooked meals, which would save time and money of going out and finding something to eat (with a lot of people this can take ages). Nevertheless, the subject of cleaning will eventually come up since there are no waiters or people to clean up after yourself and other guests staying. Cleaning up after yourself must be one of the most apprehended tasks for each party involved as being on holiday means you just want to relax, it makes it even worse if you’re the one left in charge of cleaning. One of the only downsides to leaving a holiday rental isn’t the fond memories of the place but in some cases being charged extra for someone to clean up after you when you depart. Some renters may charge up to £100 for a property to be cleaned since this includes washing duvets and towels as well as cleaning places such as the kitchen and the bathroom.
Hostels are a type of establishment in which categorize themselves in providing inexpensive accommodation with the catch being you may have to share this accommodation with other people as well as sharing bathroom facilities. Hostels appeal to mostly students and young people not only for the inexpensive price but the chance to meet other travelers and to make friends (especially if travelling alone).
When I mentioned that hostels were inexpensive, I really meant it. Hostels can be as cheap as £10 per night, if you’re travelling to a place where you’re going to spend most of your time out, what’s the point in spending hundreds of pounds on a hotel room just because it has a bit more privacy and luxury. The only downside to getting this inexpensive accommodation may be sharing facilities such as showers and toilets with people, no not literally, this isn’t Fifty Shades of Grey. The shower or sink may not be in the best condition since some people don’t understand the basic concept of tidying up after themselves. People, including myself, may be put off by this and this putting me off the whole idea of sharing facilities, yet I’m still up to the idea of staying at a hostel at least one time in my life for the experience.
Hostels usually include a safe and locker which can be used to put valuables in during the day and at night. As much as I love checking my Twitter feed in the morning since it’s like an electronic morning newspaper, this may be difficult since the effort put into getting up from my bed and getting it from my locker would prove too much for someone as lazy as me. This also stops you charging your phone overnight since you might wake up and find you’ve been charging thin air, oh how technology has progressed. My friends have told me horror stories that in some hostels they have had some lockers however these have not been padlocked leaving them open for anyone to go into. As much as I would like to trust that people, who are in the same situation as me and staying under the same roof as me, wouldn’t go through my bags, I had to come to reality about the world we live in.
Hostels allow countless opportunities for people from around the globe to interact and share their different experiences of not just the country you’re travelling to, but anywhere they’ve been to. If you’re a person who enjoys meeting new people and possibly taking tours with these people, since some people may prefer to travel with someone else, especially in a country they’re not familiar with. Even though people may enjoy talking about their experiences during the day, some just love expressing their own at night and making sure everyone knows about it. In a hostel you may have to put up with people coming in from a night out (if there’s not a curfew), which if you’re light sleeper is the most annoying thing in the world. Yes I know you enjoyed your night out, but you’ve just woken everyone up and you’ll probably not remember this or sheepishly apologize in the morning. The best thing to do while researching a hostel would be to read reviews regarding the atmosphere and character of it.
To summarize, the accommodation you want to stay at depends on the person as well as the company you’re travelling with and more importantly your budget. For solo travel hostels would be the best option for a budget friendly trip where as holiday rentals would be your best bet for travelling as a large group without trying to break the bank. If you want a holiday where everything is taken care of as well as staying for a longer visit a hotel would be the best option but a B&B would be a better option if you’re only staying in the area for the night or a few days.
Tips and tricks for all aspects of travelling, most of which include saving money.