After figuring out how to get to your location the next item on the list is typically accommodation. While we were traveling quickly around Asia I found that looking for the right hotel or apartment was the thing that took up the majority of my time. There are just so many options it is hard to decide what to do.
Here are 5 benefits to staying in an apartment instead of a hotel:
As a large family one of our biggest expenses is food. When we stay in a hotel we are forced to eat nearly every meal out at a restaurant. Some places in the world this is no big deal but when you move into Europe, Australia, or the United States the cost can get truly outrageous.
Hotel rooms often include mini refrigerators and possibly a coffee maker or microwave but that is it. In an apartment we typically found full kitchens so we could make real meals rather than just snacks. Grocery shopping and cooking rather than eating out can save a load of money freeing it up for more important activities like scuba diving or skiing.
For us this is hugely important. Staying in a small hotel room gives you very little space to stretch out, organize your things, or really have any privacy at all. With 3 boys it is so helpful to have separated rooms so every can do their own thing. I also find that when living a nomadic life staying in an apartment or house gives a little bit more of a "home" feeling, far more than when staying in a one room hotel.
If staying someplace for a while we have even been able to entertain for dinners and have friends stay with us. This is simply not an option in a hotel room. There just isn't the space to do it!
You may think a full apartment would be more expensive than a hotel room but we have found the opposite to be true, even before factoring in the food cost savings by eating in. For example, if you plan a housetrip in London a 2 bedroom flat can be far less expensive than a nice downtown hotel. And if you want you can even split that cost with another family since there will be so much more space. The same is true all over the world. In both Thailand and Malaysia we saved a fortune by staying in an apartment and it was more comfortable as well!
If you plan to only stay in an area for a couple of days then the apartment is probably not going to save you money, in fact it may be more expensive. For travelers staying put for 1-2 weeks or more there are often times great rates offered for those extended stays. I have had good luck bargaining with hotels as well but never managed to get them a low as an apartment's weekly or monthly rate.
Sometimes privacy doesn't matter, especially if you are on a short trip but most of the time it only takes a few days for privacy to become a huge issue. Parents need some quiet space and children do as well. Oftentimes we would get 2 hotel rooms rather than just 1 but an apartment is so much more comfortable and private.
It's nice internally to have more privacy as well as when you want to sit outside and just relax. It gets very old to hear children bickering or to have to get fully dressed, bra and all, before heading out the door to grab a coffee. In a house or apartment you can make your own and enjoy the privacy that having your own yard or balcony can provide. Even the nicest hotels cannot offer this same level of privacy.
I don't know about you but for us one of the things we love most about travel is getting to see how locals live. When you stay in a hotel it is typically in tourist row and the experience is nothing at all like it is for locals. Granted most apartments we stay in are also slightly different standards that locals tend to live in but usually they are located in a local neighborhood and we are able to immerse ourselves in the culture by living like locals and among neighbors. It just feels a bit more authentic!
There you have it; the case for apartment stays instead of hotel stays! It's not for everyone but under certain circumstances it is a far more valuable experience. I love staying in hotels as well for certain reasons but overall the better value and experience is in staying in an apartment.