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How we differ from hotels
Emil Majkowski, CEO Apartmentsapart.com
Do you often stay in hotels?
If you do you’ll probably be familiar with the niggles that aren’t always apparent at first. Don’t get me wrong, I love hotels for the convenience and the room service, the grand lobbies and the fine restaurants, but after a while I miss the comfort and convenience of home. After all an apartment is designed to be a perfect living space giving freedom to the occupant to carry out any regular activity in comfort.

So what differences are there between a short term apartment and a hotel room? What differences can you expect in service? How can you avoid the pitfalls? I’ll try to give you the tips you need to make an informed, better choice of accommodation.
 
The Niggles of a hotel room
You’ve checked in downstairs in the glamorous foyer and you’ve made your way to your room. Perhaps you tipped the bellboy on the way. That’s the first thing that bothers me when I arrive. I feel compelled to tip the staff for tasks I am perfectly happy to do on my own. Anyway, it’s no big deal. A euro or two. No harm done.

Next – unpacking.
Usually there is enough cupboard space for a person travelling on their own, but if you are with a partner or with kids too, the cupboard space will be used up within seconds. I find I often need to use suitcases as a back up storage area which means they are constantly in use and cannot be stowed away.

Once you are unpacked you can go about enjoying the purpose of your visit, you’ll probably want to head out and see the sights or get off to those meetings. If you are on your own you might want to use the internet. Hotels love to nickel and dime the guests on this one. Top hotels can charge as much as 15 euro a day for access. It’s infuriating as the roaming tariff on your mobile is probably even worse. Admittedly some places do offer free internet, but make sure you check first.

For those who went out to enjoy the day the chances are you’ll have had a drink or two and you’ll be parched when you return late at night. The only option to quench that thirst will be lurking in the wallet-lightening minibar, A recent trend is the “bar fridge” that is entirely filled with paid fare which have sensors such that if any of them are moved then you have to pay. This prevents you from moving the rubbish out of the way for the duration of your visit so that you can store your sandwiches there.

One point here – why were you out all day? Part of the reason was of course to see the town or do your chores but another reason people return late to the hotel is that it’s just not a very comfortable place to dwell. TV in bed seems less of a luxury when it’s the rule, and inviting guests back to a hotel room is very different from inviting them back to being entertained in your living room. Oh what a difference a sofa, a table and chairs can make.

It’s morning, you wake up and start getting ready. Oh why does the cleaner always knock when you are in the bathroom? What to do? Run to the door naked or shout very loud and hope they hear? It usually works out somehow…

I don’t know about you but whenever I eat hotel breakfasts I tend to add pound per day to my waist. When I am home I have access to my preferred goodies, and cholesterol-on-toast is not usually among them.
The differences in an apartment
Ok so those are the main issues I have personally with hotel rooms. On the plus side,, they are cleaned daily, have oodles of towels, there is usually 16 hours-a-day room service and a bar in the foyer to meet other transients. If I were to stay a on my own for single night in a town I didn’t know I would probably still use a hotel.

However for longer stays or for stays involving more than one person, apartments come into their own.
How do they differ?

First of all: Presentation. When you book a hotel you usually see pictures of the nicest room. When you book an apartment, what you see is what you get.

Check in is usually done at the office which is nearby to the accommodation or might be in the same building. For single night stays this kind of check in procedure might be arduous if the apartment is some distance from the office, so make sure the apartment is very close in this case.

No room service and less maid service! I know, I know, but make a trip to the local grocery store and you’ll have everything you need to rustle up several days of tasty grub at a fraction of the cost in your very own kitchen. Food for 5 in a restaurant can easily cost 100 euro per meal. Apartments mean economy. That goes for the cleaning too. Apartment providers usually only clean if you ask them too at an extra cost. This helps keeps your cost down.

Speaking of economy, apartments are usually significantly cheaper, especially for more than one guest, and the savings really grow when groups of 4 or more stay. How much you save is up to your comfort preference. If two of you don’t mind sharing a sofa bed, a one bedroom apartment can accommodate four guests, but even a two bedroom apartment is much cheaper than two equivalent hotel rooms. Large numbers of guests in a single apartment can get the per-person price down to the equivalent price of a hostel.

How about convenience?
Business people or families will both find advantages in apartments. It’s much easier to hold a private business meeting in the apartment living room than sitting on a hotel bed and families will obviously prefer to be together in a single apartment instead of two separated hotel rooms. An apartment is your own space, designed for relaxation, economy and entertaining.

Privacy!
Often in hotels you will hear babies crying or *cough* other noises late at night owing to thin plasterboard walls with poor insulation. Apartments are better insulated. I am also a bit self conscious about being eyed by the reception staff on my way to the lift. An apartment is your own space where you are anonymous even in the common areas of the building.

Comfort.
As I mentioned earlier hotels are not functional when it comes to spreading your things about. Attempting this in a hotel room would mean an almost certain visit to the dentist after tripping over your trousers and smashing your teeth on the bedside table. Size really matters if you plan to spend any time at all at home.

And security?
You and your possessions are actually safer in an apartment if you lock the door properly. Always double lock and you will have no problems. Hotel hallways are a public area and hotel doors are easy to for a thief to open. You’ll also need to hope hotel cleaning staff are honest. I have had personal equipment go missing in hotel rooms in the past.
Tips on finding the best place for you
I hope I’ve outlined the main differences you can expect in your stay, but now the most important part. If you don’t find a good hotel, or a good apartment your experience will be ruined. So here’s what to look for before you book:

  • Are you disabled? Check about building access and elevators.
  • If there is no elevator what floor will you be on?
  • Will you need internet? Is it available? What does it cost?
  • Do you expect hot weather? Look for places with air conditioning
  • Location. Near friends, fun or transport. Make sure you are central
  • Construction works. Are there any in the area? Avoid
  • Use this website to book. The internet is full of scammers who take your money and run.
  • Never pay by Western Union as it’s almost guaranteed to be a scam.
  • Staying a single night? How far is the apartment from the check in location?

ApartmentsApart CEO