Secrets for finding the perfect holiday apartment

There are thousands and thousands of options out there. How to decide for the perfect holiday apartment can be tricky – but don’t worry! Here are a few tips to help you out so you can organize your next holidays like a star!

It was shortly after midnight in a cold January evening when we arrived. We were tired from the drive, hungry, and so were the dogs. There it was, this nice little cabin somewhere hidden in south France. We had received the code to the lockbox a few minutes before, and were looking forward to a shower, a snack and bed. When we opened the door, we realized that it was way smaller than the impression we had from the pictures. Also older. But hey, it’s fine. It’s only a place to replenish the energies and rest.

I went for a shower and noticed that the water just dropped. It felt a bit like the old days, when people had to make do with a cup of warm water from the stove. Again, it’s fine. Where’s the adventure spirit, right?

watering can, water, shower, metal, zinc plated, sheet, decoration, commodity, silver, day
Showering… XIX Century Style

And then I noticed I’d love to have that stove, because those few drops of water were ice cold. There was no hot water coming out of the shower. Now it was no longer fine, and our patience was running out. Thankfully the host answered the phone and was fast in guiding us to a solution, even after midnight. At least we could have a hot shower to compensate the other aspects that were far from our expectations.

Lesson learned

There’s more to a nice, welcoming vacation home than what we can see on the online ads. When choosing a home, there are very objective aspects we all look at. But it’s the ones hidden behind those aspects that make for the best vacation experience or a living nightmare. Of course, this will depend on filtering the initial results, so let’s talk about those for a minute.

The basics

The ideal place for vacation depends at first on the group setup and expectations. How many people are traveling? Are they all adults, and if not, is it safe for your kids? Are you bringing your pet with you? If you are driving, is there a parking space? What kind of vacation is it? You probably don’t need a log cabin with a fireplace if you’re heading to the beach and the temperature is going to be on the 30s…

Hotel, Zimmer, Vorhang, Grün, Möbel, Bett, Hotelzimmer
Modern and trendy…
Blockhaus, Anmelden, Home, Schlafzimmer, Rustikal, Land
…or rustic and cozy?

Once these general lines have been decided upon and you have a 15 to 20 options that match your criteria, it’s important to check the accuracy of the description and pictures. Of course everyone will make nice pictures of their holiday apartment or home, but it’s important to see if these pictures are not deceiving. Do the rooms look bigger than the description states they are? Does it look like there’s any kind of computer treatment in the photos meaning the home might not be in the best shape? These items are absolute no-go for us, after we learned it the hard way.

The not so obvious

This is where the search becomes very personal and detailed. There’s no one size fits all. And this is what makes all the difference to your vacation experience.

Finding the perfect holiday apartment for you

1. Make sure it fits your personal needs

The perfect holiday apartment - Father and son on a hammock
Your vacation is about what you like

Each of us have different needs when traveling. Some people want to have many restaurants around. Others want to have space and equipment to cook, or maybe they need to prepare the meals for a baby. Others like to sleep with their windows open, other prefer chilling in a climatized room. Some will go for a pulsing nightlife, others will prefer a good movie in a comfortable couch. Being in the most beautiful house won’t make it for a great vacation if it does not match in your lifestyle and the things you like to do.

2. Bad service spoils any other aspect of your experience

No communication, man not listening to the phone
What’s the point of talking if the owner won’t hear you?

Have you ever been to a restaurant where the food was awesome but the staff treated you like you weren’t even there? You don’t want to feel like that when you are on holidays. But how to prevent that? Make a few tests so you can see how the owner reacts to you. Send a message, ask a few questions. See how long the owner takes to reply, and how their reply is written. You don’t want to stay at a place where the owner is indifferent to you, doesn’t reply to your messages or doesn’t react to your needs.

3. You don’t have to drag half of your home with you

Brown and black leather hard case lot
You shouldn’t spend more time on packing than on the holiday itself…

The perfect holiday apartment or home will be equipped accordingly, so you can just take the essential. Check if the apartment has what you need: infrastructure like wifi, dishwasher and washing machine, microwave, equipment like cooking pans and trays, amenities like hairdryer, air-conditioning so you don’t stay up all night sweating, towels so you don’t need to bring a container with bedding and so on.

4. Attention to detail

Fresh bed linen and towels - the perfect holiday apartment
The best experience is a mix of the feeling of vacation with the comfort of your home

You can find every kind of holiday home, from really basic setups where you’ll get a bed and a bathroom (if you’re lucky), to places where you’ll have champagne and strawberries over silk sheets on the bed and a jacuzzi with rose petals. In our experience, the perfect holiday apartment doesn’t go overboard, but we do enjoy some nice touches. Organization and especially cleanliness are a must, and a little welcoming arrangement can be just perfect.

5. Read the reviews

perfect holiday apartment: good reviews
A good look at the reviews can tell what expects you on your holidays

This is a tricky one for two reasons. First, everyone has to start somewhere. New apartments won’t have reviews, or at least not enough, to make them a safe choice. And second, what one person finds irrelevant might be exactly what you’re looking for. Still, reviews are quite helpful, especially when there are many of them. You can get a good feel of what to expect not only from the apartment but also from how the owner treats their guests, so it might be worth spending a couple of minutes reading them before closing the deal.

6. Check the neighborhood

google street view
A quick check on Google can provide a realistic overview of the place you’re planning to visit

The apartment or house is great, but where is it located? If you’re not familiar with the surroundings, google is your friend! Check the address on google maps, take a look at google street view if available, and read a few articles about the place. Make sure that it’s safe / not dangerous and that it fits your expectations regarding what you can easily reach from the home you’re renting. Are there restaurants, grocery stores, pharmacies, pubs around? If you’re going with a specific objective in mind and want to visit a specific touristic destination, how far is it from the apartment? If you’re not driving, is there public transportation nearby?

7. Early bookers don’t break the bank…

Money - ten euro bills
Why spend more money than necessary? A little advance can go a long way!

Everyone knows the supply and demand principle. As you get closer to the date you want to travel, less homes will be available, consequently the prices will go up and cancellation policies will get stricter – especially if you’re planning to travel in the high season. But you can escape this trap if you just book your stay sooner. In many places, you get save as much as 30% by being an early bird and closing the deal a few months in advance.

8. …but last minute opportunities shouldn’t be overlooked

Last minute clock countdown
Last minute deals can also be a great opportunity to save!

On the other hand, last minute offers tend to be very rewarding as well, if you are willing to take the risk. This is because renting cheaper can be better than not renting at all, in some cases. For this reason, if owners have a cancellation or a free room/apartment for the next days, there is a chance they will drop the prices to make the place more attractive. Keep an eye out for good prices – but make sure you check all other aspects so you don’t rent something that is really below your expectations.

9. Ask questions to avoid surprises

perfect holiday apartment - Guest questions messaging
Messaging the owner not only gets you the information you asked for, but also a feel for how the owner treats you and how fast they react

As I mentioned before, exchanging a few messages with the owner might be a good idea to get a feel for how they treat their guests. But there’s more you can do to ensure you have found the perfect holiday apartment or home. Ask questions! You need to cook for the baby? Ask if there’s enough utensils in the kitchen. Bringing your pet with you? Ask if there are any extra fees (at Sun with Style there aren’t!). Planning to receive visitors? Check if it’s allowed. Renting a car? Ask if there’s a parking space. The possibilities are endless and only you can decide what is really relevant, but we as owners should always be ready to answer questions related to our guests’ needs and wishes!

10. Rent only registered and compliant properties

perfect holiday apartment - placa alojamento local
Portuguese sign of registered rental property

This is really basic, but almost no traveler does it regularly. Most countries have regulations for rental properties.

For example, in Portugal, owners are required to register they property under the “Alojamento Local” regulations, which will provide them with a registry number in the format XXXXX/AL. In our case, you can find this information on our Imprint. Additionally, we are required to provide the foreigners department with personal information from foreign guests. This is a requirement inside all the Shenghen space in Europe, to keep safety standards for guests and locals.

Also, properties need to have insurance, emergency signs, fire extinguishers. a complaint book available to the guests which is audited by the government and a property instruction manual. These regulations change from country to country, but wherever you go, you don’t want to stay at a property that doesn’t care about the guests’ safety and well-being. When something goes wrong, you want to be at a legal holiday home, where the owner is not careless about you and your family! Always check if the property is registered and compliant!

Do you have any other tips on how to find the perfect apartment for your holidays? Let us know in the comment below!

Talk soon,

/R.

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