What clients can expect…
Self-catering accommodation in Europe is not like renting an apartment in Surfers Paradise or a N.Z. motel. Self-catering in Europe will be as much a cultural/local experience as a place to stay. There are many exceptions but the following are common. Owners and keyholders come in all shapes and sizes! Some speak wonderful English – some have no English. Some are all smiles and so helpful – some are reserved or even a little grumpy! Some will bake you a cake and babysit your children – others will meet you upon arrival and “leave you to it” unless of course you have a problem. Most owners have taken no formal training in the hospitality industry. They often receive tax advantages to set up a tourist accommodation set up and have their regular day jobs or businesses. Some owners are the best “bonus extra” – they can be a true highlight of a self-catering stay
“Authentic – with character” can come at a price!
Many properties are hundreds of years old. Doorways can be low and plumbing not as great as home. Showers in Europe are traditionally quite small and bathrooms in city apartments can be very compact. The locals live with these facilities all the time – they are unaccustomed to the spaciousness of our own homes and can not believe how big our houses are!
Kitchens can be quite simply equipped – more especially in Europe
Sometimes no oven or microwave. Electric jugs are unheard of in Europe along with toasters. The locals buy their coffee at cafes and breakfast is a croissant from the baker. Equipment can be a real mixture – odd sized saucepans with equally odd lids. The locals (especially in Europe) assume you will be eating-out most of the time.
Do not expect the standard milk, tea and coffee or even salt & pepper to be provided, as you would find in a N.Z. motel. Provisions can vary from a wonderful hamper of local goodies to nothing! Many owners have strong feelings about leaving food out – they see it as unhygienic. Therefore it is important that you allow time on your check-in day to do a “good shop”. This includes washing powder, dish washing liquid. Many owners have provided these sorts of things in the past but have found different guests like different type of milk etc. In Europe most local village shops are closed Sunday and sometimes Monday. If you find you are short of anything once you check in most local shops are open until 6-7pm even on a Saturday.
Cities can be noisy but exciting!
We endeavour to source apartments that are as quiet as possible, however, it is essential to be aware that cities never go to sleep. Plus many European cities like Rome and Paris have cobblestone streets with locals rushing about on motor-scooters. The locals dine late and it can be noisy. Rubbish trucks can come by at odd hours – that can even happen in Waikiki. Our recommendation is that clients staying in cities sleep-in and go to bed later – this is the pattern of European city dwellers. E.g. many department stores in Paris do not even open until 10am!
Eating is important – especially in Europe
Owners will put greater emphasis on providing a large dining table – rather than extensive lounge furniture. Meal time is the most important time of the day. Shops and villages close in the middle of the day in rural European locations for up to 3 hours+. For country stays we recommend clients get up early and take full advantage of the morning – sleeping in will restrict your day-tripping activities.
Linen and Towels
Basic bed linen and bath towels are always provided (or occasionally hired direct). This is one set per person and you launder during the week if required. In some country locations owners come from very much a farming, almost peasant background, and do not notice if sheets & pillow cases do not match and that there are different coloured towels provided! They are practical, down to earth people. Towels are not always as thick and fluffy as you are accustomed to at home and occasionally you may be provided with extra large waffle-weave cotton towels – like huge thick tea towels. These feel a little odd at first but the benefit is that they dry very quickly if you feel like having another shower later in the day. Face clothes are not standard anywhere in Europe (even in hotels) so we recommend you take your own.