Vacation Rentals 101

In Belgium, Brugge, hotels by Stacy

You’ll note that hotels haven’t been our friend this past year as we’ve travelled. Hotels in London, Edinburgh, and London-Greenwich all managed to leave their mark (literally) on my children’s foreheads. Plus, it’s nearly impossible to book three adults AND kids in one room, so if we travel with grandparents we require at least two rooms. You pay a fortune for hotel breakfasts and restaurant lunches your kids barely touch. And should a certain child go through all his spare pants, you’re left attempting to wash them in a sink. It was time to try something new. We rented a three-story apartment in Brugge for a few nights for less than the cost of two (average) hotel rooms. And this is what we got:

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St. Wahlburga Church was right out the window…

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St. Wahlburga Church

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Look, lots of breakables at kids' level!

Look, lots of breakables at kids’ level!

Daddy saw cool bunk beds when he booked this. I saw head trauma and moved the top mattress to the floor.

Daddy saw cool bunk beds when he booked this. I saw head trauma and moved the top mattress to the floor.

Rustic charm within an arms’ length of a 17th century church and a few minutes walk to the city center. It was awesome. But then there was this: IMG_7131IMG_7134IMG_7133IMG_7132 As you can see, it made for great post-nap entertainment. Lucky for me, my children are already early risers because at 7AM those bulldozers got down to business each morning. The flat’s owner conveniently left out all mention of construction in her online listing. And while it made getting in and out of the apartment a bit challenging at times, it wasn’t that bad until on our last day they hit a water pipe… A hotel can switch you to another room when you have no water. The owner of the flat you’re renting just reassures you she keeps calling the water company and they think it will be fixed soon. And six hours later it was fixed.

It was also a flat we can only stay in once because next time we’ll have a third walker/crawler on our hands and only two adults to guard the stairs:

IMG_7125IMG_7128 That’s two DIFFERENT staircases. And yet, miraculously, we walked away from this trip without any additional bumps or bruises. We even managed to not break anything in the apartment.

The verdict is still out on vacation rentals.

PROS

  • It was nice to have our own fridge and stove and oven (even if I was too scared to use it).
  • This place didn’t have a washing machine, but others we’ve looked at do and that would save us over-packing for fear of multiple “accidents” again.
  • We didn’t have to worry about being too noisy and bothering other guests.
  • We had plenty of space and an incredible atmosphere.
  • Cheaper than two hotel rooms

CONS

  • Reliability/accuracy of apartment’s description in listing can vary
  • Places may not be suitable/safe for young children
  • No hierarchy of management to complain to if things go wrong–just you and the owner.

We will definitely be renting again as we travel. Now we just have a better idea what to be on the lookout for as we browse rentals online and we will be reading user reviews a lot more carefully. Ultimately, though, I’m happy we chose the apartment over a hotel. It was a great experience and added to our Brugge adventure.