One of the most meticulous planning I do before a trip is deciding where to stay, but it is the planning I enjoy the most as well. As a rule, if we’re staying longer than 3 nights, we always opt for a self-catering accommodation, since it allows us to set up a semblance of home and being independent travellers, we prefer to take care of ourselves.
It has been easier nowadays to find self-catering rentals compared to a few years ago, but it also means the options can also be more overwhelming. Self-catering rentals come on all kinds of shapes, sizes, prices and decor quirks. I always have fun in looking through them, and sift the options until we found a place we can imagine as home for the duration of the stay.
What we’re looking for:
- It fits within our budget of €150 per night (which comes to €50 per person/night). We might not mind going over it by a few euros a night if we’re convinced that we really like the place, but we can usually find a place for a lot less.
- Functioning kitchen. It should at least have the basics such as stove, kettle, fridge, crockery and cutlery. Who needs room service if you have your own, sufficiently stocked kitchen?
- We don’t have to share any indoor living space with anyone else, not even a host. This is why we also don’t do B&Bs. (It’s just us being introverts)
- There should be enough space for everyone, and that the space feel personal and homey (this is the most subjective of the requirements).
- Direct access outdoor. We love the ability to open our door and being able to directly walk around or sit outside.
- It’s a bonus if we can walk into town center or places to eat or shop, but it’s not a must if we have other means of transportation.
The list may seems like a lot of requirements, but I think they are reasonable ones. And when I’m faced with hundreds of options, it’s easier to have fixed parameters to start filtering them out. So far, with the budget we have, we have stayed in really wonderful places, which I believe gave us much better experience than staying in a hotel with comparable room rates.
Of all the places we’ve stayed in, these are our top 5.
1. Amed, Bali, Indonesia
This house perched on the cliff of Lombok Strait, with its own pool, lush garden, and private path to the sea tops our list of favourites.
The property: Aquamarine Sea View Villa
What we spent: €63 per night
What we got:
The house has one bedroom, but accommodates up to 4 people. There were no other guests at the neighbouring house when we were there, so we got the whole property all for ourselves. The housekeeper of the house can also cook your meals for you (which you have to pay extra), and she also helped us with calling the nearest grocery shop to deliver some supplies for us (which was 3 km away).
You can walk to several beaches in the area (or even discover hidden ones), and while it’s far from being a tourist area, it’s not difficult to find places to eat (mainly at other guesthouses).
2. Simon’s Town, South Africa
The property: A Boat House
What we spent: High season price of ZAR 1500 per night (which is around €100 by today’s exchange rate)
What we got:
A two-bedroom apartment (each bedroom with its own bathroom), with the unobstructed view of the False Bay, beautifully decorated, and a fully functional kitchen with everything you need. The house has an indoor pool, which is handy to use in all kinds of weather, especially with kids. It also comes with a game room with pool table, and BBQ. The house is within walking distance to the town center of Simon’s Town (going back is a steep uphill walk – but still doable even with a kid).
3. Jimbaran, Bali, Indonesia
The property: Mango Tree Villas
What we spent: At €160 per night, it stretched our budget a bit, but we are staying with 4 people instead of 3 (my sister joined us), so it still falls within the budget for per person/night.
What we got:
Located in the heart of Jimbaran village, it has a private pool, two bedrooms (sleeps 4), two bathrooms, and a well-designed open space living area with kitchen. The house is well-stocked with everything we needed, even sunhats and beach bags! It’s located close to Jimbaran market and beach, and taxis are never hard to find when we needed to go somewhere else.
4. Playa Lagun, Curaçao
The property: Aqualinda Playa Lagun (website is in Dutch)
What we spent: €575 per week
What we got:
The bungalow itself is not luxurious, but it’s well maintained and fully functional, and it’s on the pool side. It’s got one bedroom with additional sofa bed for the kid, and a roof terrace on the second floor. What makes it to the list is the location. The small but pretty beach of Playa Lagun is just a stone’s throw away. The beach also has a cafe and shop, and the next door’s resort got another restaurant. It’s our favourite place so far when it comes to the perfect place to relax.
5. Las Manchas, La Palma, The Canary Islands
The property: Casa Montana Rajada
What we spent: €475 per week
What we got:
The house has the remotest location we’ve been so far, and it’s the only one where we needed to chop our own wood for heating, but it’s all part of its charm. It has two bedrooms, one bathroom, a pool and a spacious garden. The view was fantastic, and on clear night, I could stay for hours outside looking at the stars.