Why a self-catering apartment is your best budget bet

The view from our Madrid apartment

Endless ice cream in summer sun; enough drink to drown in; snacks swiftly supplied to suppress even the hint of hunger.

The all-inclusive package was a pretty good deal.

When I was 12 years old.

Then I matured and the glossy package holiday where everything was included didn’t seem quite as valuable through adult eyes.

The food is typically poorer quality. The service suffers too. And the price is actually pretty steep.

Inside our Budapest apartment
Did you last hotel room include an antique grand piano? Thought not.

A far better solution, as my teenage backpacking soul will attest to, is to go self-catered.

It’s the only form of accommodation Jo and I really use today.

Because while housework on holiday sucks (washing up will never be fun), the money you save and the control you gain over your routine simply makes self-catering irresistible.

Here are some of the advantages of self-catering accommodation.

You save quite a bit of money

Self-catering is just cheaper than staying in a hotel. Alright, so the service is your own, but once you’ve stayed on your own for a while you begin to wonder why you need the service of others at times anyway.

You especially save money on meals. It’s nice to wake up whenever you want, to make a lazy breakfast, then to venture out.

The view from our Madrid apartment
The view from our Madrid apartment

As long as the apartment has a decent kitchen or kitchenette, you’re all set for as many meals as you like.

And yes, hotel breakfasts can be nice. But once you include the cost of them into your room, they’re not actually particularly good value.

You have control of your routine

You wake up when you like. You go to bed when you like, often without fear of disturbing those in another room. You leave the place exactly as you need it for your stay.

In some self-catering apartments (particular apart-hotels) cleaning might even be offered. So you get your own apartment, own space, own routine and own cleaner for less than a hotel stay.

You don’t have to adhere to the routine of others; no set times for meals and so on. It’s just you, controlling your holiday and doing as you feel.

And if you’re caught in a tight spot with food and drink, just find a supermarket and head back to your place.

What’s not to love?

You feel more in touch with the place you’re staying

Apartments come in various styles, shapes and sizes. Staying in one – whether through something like Booking.com or AirBnB – is a great way to really feel at one with your destination.

Sometimes the apartments on offer are also in hard-to-reach locations, or super popular ones that were sold out months before. You could end up having an interesting stay for pretty much no money at all.

Our apartment right in the centre of Riga
Our apartment right in the centre of Riga

You can also see how people live their normal lives. Everyone around you is unlikely to be a traveller, so you can observe the routine of the local population and really meet some interesting people in the process.

Overall, it’s a more authentic experience than living in a cuddly bubble of a hotel resort.

You’re pushed out of your comfort zone

Staff are not on call all the time. There are not waiters at your beck and call. There is no room service.

It’s up to you to make the most of your stay – and that’s a good thing. So crack out the adventurer in you and live your holiday, your way.

What are your thoughts on self-catering?
Any tips for a good experience?

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