Hotels vs. Apartments vs. Hostels
Our plans were to be gone for nine months. I knew Italy would be the most expensive, but still, at 120/night, that was 3600 Euros (at the time, over $5000 CDN) for one month.
For half of us.
Even hostels were, at their cheapest, about 20 Euros per person, and that might have been an eight or twelve person room.
I considered that we were going to be staying in Rome longer than the average person (one week), so I broadened my Google search to 'long term holiday rental' or something like that, and stumbled upon all sorts of apartment rentals, available for anywhere from a few days to a few months. Sifting through dozens of links, I found all sorts of interesting options, from lovely two level digs with fireplaces and sitting rooms for a couple thousand euros a night, all the way down to stuff that even we could afford. After looking at loads of photos, checking availability, and nixing the ones that were just too far away from anything, I settled on The Morandi, which I unfortunately can no longer find online.
At 600 Euros for a week, it worked out to 85 a night, cheaper than many hotels. Although it was small, it had an awesome patio, and we ate out there every day.
One of the big draws of an apartment is having your own kitchen, which provides at least two benefits. First, you can save a ton of money by buying groceries and making your own meals, as opposed to always eating at a restaurant. Secondly, you have an opportunity to interact with local people in a very real way, just by buying groceries at the market, doing the normal things that everyone else is doing and being a part of the community. It was a satisfying experience.
On the other hand, that means you have to spend time buying your groceries and making your own meals - and doing your own dishes. But, having an apartment to spread out in, to come home to and relax meant that at the end of a day of walking, sightseeing, museums, etc. the kids had an opportunity to do their own thing for a bit while the meal was prepared, rather than sitting at a restaurant table waiting for the food to come. You also will be able to find an apartment big enough for everyone. Needing two hotel rooms for a family holiday would not be fun.
Before we left home, I had only a few things booked:
- Week 1 - apartment in Rome
- Week 2 - apartment in Montichiello
- Week 3 - apartment in Florence
- Week 8 and 9 - house on Chios Island
Everything else was going to be taken care of on the road as I didn't want our schedule to be too rigid. After our amazing experiences in Rome and Montichiello, I was online pretty regularly, seeking out apartments. The Florence flat only solidified our opinions of apartment living.
|Super bright living area in Athens|
|Extraordinarily large deck on our Astros apartment|
|View from our window in Florence|
If you're looking to buy a trulli, you might want to talk to him as well.
|The lane to our trulli|
|One of the supermarkets nearby|
|Watercolour: view as we walked toward old Istanbul|
|View from a playground near our apartment.|
|Hatzelenis office in Chios Harbour|
Fabulous people, very helpful and friendly, just going beyond expectations when things got kind of tough for us.
|Breakfast on the veranda|
|A fifteen minute walk to Volissos|
|Geckos scared the crap out of me the first night, after that we were friends|
(when she wasn't doing all the cooking)), a kitchen to make and store your food, and often in established neighbourhoods - meaning a rich cultural experience.
If you're travelling as a family, it may even be cheaper than a hostel.