Friday, April 26, 2013

Friday Five: Why we book apartments when we travel

Dining area in an apartment in Berlin.

When we were planning our trips about Europe, hubby and I chanced across a website, Wimdu, which allowed you to rent apartments to stay in many locations around the world. These apartments were mainly lived-in ones, where the owners made arrangements to move when you booked their apartment for a stay. The whole idea appealed to us, since we've not too fond of the cookie cutter rooms in hotels, and we found ourselves booking our stays off the site for almost every trip we made. Here's five reasons why:

1. We get to save money.
The cost of renting an apartment can sometimes be cheaper than booking a hotel, more so if you require two or more rooms if you have other family members like grandparents tagging along for the trip. Also, leaving a review on Wimdu for your apartment stay usually means you get a discount code for your next stay!

The room Junior J slept in when we were in Bordeaux, which was actually a room for a little girl!

2. We get more room for our buck.
We had the option of finding apartments that had at least two bedrooms, instead of having to squeeze together in a family hotel room. This was great because it accommodated the two boys' different bedtimes, and ensured that big brother didn't disturb his baby brother when he was napping. Also, more room for the boys to explore was a boon when I had to leave the boys to play on their own, while I prepared meals on days the hubby was not around.

Also, some families that put up their apartment for rental have children, which means the kids can get access to toys...

Junior J was delighted to find a panda amongst the stuffed toys left in his room in Copenhagen.

... and other baby-related items like high chairs, which is a must for feeding our little Mr Active!

3. We have access to a kitchen. 
This was really important since I had to cook for baby J on our trips, as well as settle our meals on days that the hubby was out on attachment or attending a conference (I was not confident of bringing both the boys out for meals on my own, since baby J was so hard to feed!).

Another plus point of renting a lived-in apartment was that in most cases, you get a fully equipped kitchen and don't need to drag along your own pots and pans. Also, these kitchens usually had all the condiments needed for cooking, so you wouldn't need to bring your own or buy them.

Trying my hand at cooking fish soup when we were in Bordeaux. 

Aside from the kitchen, we always found it handy to have the access to a washing machine (and sometimes dryer). When you have young kids (where puke and pee accidents may happen anytime), a washer is always a big plus. And that also meant I didn't need to pack so much clothes for the trip since we could always do a load when we needed it!

4. We get to sample local produce.
Having access to a kitchen meant that we got to buy local produce and cook our own meals! Hubby and I love browsing and shopping at the local markets, and it was quite a joy buying fresh ingredients for our meals. While I admit I love pigging out at hotel breakfast buffets and it was a little troublesome for hubby to run out in the mornings to buy breakfast, it was a nice experience having freshly baked bread in the mornings, piping hot from a nearby bakery!

Home-cooked mussels in Bordeaux.

5. We get to soak in culture and live like a local.
Most apartment renters would be more than happy to point out nearby amenities as well as other points of attraction. They would usually recommend places to dine, and we enjoyed taking walks about and exploring. 

Marketing in the Marche des Capucins, while armed with a baguette.

In a sense, you get to experience how the locals live, shopping at the places they shop, eating at the places they eat, standing in line at the post office. There were some minor inconveniences, like having to figure out how to sort your trash (each country seems to do it differently!), or having to shift all the fragile decor pieces to a safe place before letting the boys loose. However, staying in these apartments was quite an experience. 

The view from our apartment in Venice.

What about you? Do you book apartments to stay when you travel?

PS: This is not a sponsored post. We're just sharing since we found this website useful!

Mum in the Making

Linking up with:
Amazingly Still


  1. thanks for sharing this. I agree it would be an even more meaningful experience to stay in a local's home. Why visit when you can live it! :)

    Ai @ Sakura Haruka

  2. We booked an apartment via a different website previously but didn't have a very good experience because it was much smaller than we expected. The photos we saw on the website made it look way nicer than it was too! Maybe we will try out this website next time, as the apartments seem much nicer here, and you've raised really good reasons to choose an apartment over a hotel. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Hi Justina, thanks for linking up and sharing such an awesome website! It will definitely come in handy when our family goes on overseas trip (when the kids are much older)!

    Beautiful photos too <3

  4. This is such a cool concept - thanks for sharing! We're going to London at the end of May and this might be a solution to our accommodation. Will definitely check it out :)

    (Was trying to link up for Friday Five but couldn't finish my post in time! Will try to do it soon!)

  5. We have been doing the serviced apartment thing in KL and Bangkok. I always thought it was an expensive option in Asia but we had great experiences. Our KL apartment was in a great location and larger than our apartment in Sg for over $100 a night less than hotels in the same area. With a three year old extra space for running around and the ability to go into another room once she is down for the night was wonderful. Glad you had such great experiences in Europe. My Dad is doing something similar in New York this summer and at a good reduction on a hotel stay with significantly more space.

  6. I experienced it during my honeymoon in Germany. Agree that the feeling was completely different and indeed warm. would love to do it all over again (:



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