Forget the dreary hotel room, miniature-sized kettles and the need to tip a porter every time they look at you. Renting holiday homes directly from the owner opens up a whole new experience of living like a local, as well as offering five star accommodation at three star prices. Don’t believe us? This stunning apartment in Mexico City sleeps six and costs just £71 a night (£12pp) to rent!
Now you’ve picked your jaw back up off the floor, we’ve put together this simple guide on everything you need to know about holiday home rentals, so you get it right first time.
What exactly is a holiday home rental?
A holiday home rental is simply privately owned accommodation (apartments, chalets, villas) that the owner is prepared to rent out for a short amount of time each year. These aren’t owned by companies or major accommodation providers, which means the costs are often lower as the owner isn’t focused on just making money.
What about the facilities?
Facilities will vary wildly, based on where the accommodation is and how much you’re prepared to pay. Most will be rented to you on a self-catering basis, with homes in warmer climates often coming equipped with BBQs for some al-fresco dining.
The larger the property, the more likely it is that you’ll also be spoilt by having access to a private pool and some extra luxuries such as flat screen TVs and extensive bathrooms.
Although duvets and pillows are usually provided, you may have to pay a surcharge for linen so check in advance if this is the case, as you may be able to save some cash by taking your own towels and bedding.
Where can I find holiday homes to rent?
With the growth in people looking for cheaper accommodation options, more and more websites are available that allow owners to list their properties and for you to search in specific destinations. To help you get start we’ve listed some of the biggest (and more trusted) sites below:
HomeAway.co.uk is the biggest holiday rentals site with over 650,000 properties listed worldwide. It should be your first port of call to get an idea of the types of properties available and the rates you’re likely to pay. You can also use the filters to search for specific facilities, such as a pool, Wi-Fi access or air-con.
If you’re also tempted at the idea of renting out your own home, check out uGuest.com, which not only lists properties, but also offers access to their Owners’ Club. This enables you to earn points by renting out your own home that can then be used to rent another member’s home. It’s a great way to keep the cost down and helps you to connect with holiday home owners worldwide, from shabby chic city centre apartments to beachside retreats.
HolidayLettings.co.uk is run by the same company behind Trip Advisor, which means you can also find independent reviews for many of the 200,000+ holiday homes and properties listed. There’s also a handy deals section where you can browse late deals and promotions by country. Perfect to save that extra bit of cash if you’ve got flexibility on when you can travel.
Airbnb is probably one of the most well known sites but differs from the others as your stay also involves a ‘host’. This means you’ll be greeted personally and the space available may be anything from just a room up to a fully equipped apartment. It’s a great option if you’re travelling by yourself or as a smaller party and is a great way to get first hand knowledge on must-see attractions directly from your host. It takes couch surfing to the extreme and if you’re not picky, you can crash in New York from just £18 a night.
How do the costs of holiday rentals compare with hotels?
The £1 billion question – as a rule of thumb, if you’re travelling as a group size of four or above, you’ll often find that holiday home rentals are cheaper and will offer more facilities than you’d get at a hotel.
This makes the rentals great for a family holiday or for a group of friends to let loose and enjoy living like a local for a week. For individual travellers, make sure you check out sites that focus on staying with a host rather than renting out the entire property.
IMPORTANT - Final checklist when booking a holiday home rental
Rent outside of peak-season to get the best prices – the difference can be a saving of up to 50%
Check the area before making a final decision – if you’re in the middle of nowhere you’ll have the extra expense of hefty airport transfers and a hire car
Try contacting the owner to see if they can drop the price a little – it never hurts to ask and they’re more likely to say yes if it’s during the low-season
Make sure you know EXACTLY what’s included in the price and if there are surcharges for cleaning, air-conditioning etc.
Always pay by credit card for added protection (especially for any new-build properties)
If you’re unable to pay with a credit card, see if the booking site offers a payment system which protects you against potential financial losses