High hotel prices got you down? Maybe you just boycott having to book multiple hotel rooms for your family vacation. Or you just might not be able to find a centrally located hotel that fits you. Your first thought might be to check out Airbnb for locals renting out their apartment or home, but with the rise of Airbnb being illegal in many cities, is it really the best option? Another option you might not know about is serviced apartments – an Airbnb alternative meets hotel that even we can get behind.
While we don’t like Airbnb for a number of reasons including safety concerns and the negative impact on local communities, serviced apartments are a bit different. Serviced apartments give holiday apartment lovers everything they enjoy about the experience, while still operating as a professional business with additional amenities you’ll rarely get with an Airbnb.
Serviced apartments are holiday apartment meets hotel, combining the best of both worlds.
1. Serviced apartments give you more space
Sometimes you just need more space.
It’s true that hotels can be a challenge for families. Quadruple rooms can definitely accommodate families of up to four, and they can work if your kids are younger and don’t mind sharing a bed. But if you’re a family of more than four or a family with teens, one room just won’t do.
Everyone appreciates a little privacy, and that privacy can be essential for taking the edge off when your family is thrown together 24/7.
Serviced apartments offer multiple bedrooms without the added cost of booking more than one hotel room or a suite. With multiple bedrooms, kids’ bedtime doesn’t mean it’s also adult bedtime. And keeping kids on their bedtime schedule can help avoid tantrums and cranky kids from ruining the vacation.
2. Serviced apartments are cost effective
We get it. Hotels can be expensive, especially for a family or a small group traveling together.
It can feel like a waste of money booking more than one room. And the need to eat out 2-3 meals per day can add up quickly for a family on a budget.
Serviced apartments are not only fully furnished, but stocked with all the essentials like a stove top, oven, microwave, coffee maker, fridge and cooking utensils. With all the proper cookery and utensils, you can cook more like you would at home. A trip to the neighborhood grocery store can even be fun.
3. Serviced apartments are Airbnb meets hotel
One of our gripes about Airbnb is that most listings are individually owned and a lot of services we enjoy, or even need, just aren’t available. Owners want to know exactly what time you’ll arrive so that they can meet you to give you the keys. There’s no place to store luggage between that 11am checkout and your evening flight. And you might even be expected to clean up, take out the trash and even strip the beds before you leave.
Serviced apartments give you everything you love about a holiday apartment experience, but more.
Serviced apartments are called “serviced” because guests benefit from additional services. Services like daily or weekly housekeeping, linen changes, and reception and concierge services that can help with airport transfers and restaurant and activity bookings. Sometimes there’s also other guest perks like an onsite fitness center or VIP lounge for guests. In some serviced apartments, services like in-room spa treatments or in-room dining are even available.
4. Serviced apartments are more secure
One of my biggest concerns about Airbnb, especially when I’m traveling solo, is safety. Those safety concerns are about a lot more than just location. With private individuals you simply can’t know for sure what you’re getting and Airbnb owners aren’t held to any codes or standards.
That’s why serviced apartments are an excellent Airbnb alternative.
We like to opt for serviced apartments with 24 hour reception. Receptionists are aware of guest comings and goings, and even more importantly, they’ll recognize those that don’t belong. Receptionists also alert guests to things like a natural disaster or fire.
Many luxury serviced apartments also have features like secure building entry and CCTV security systems in common areas like entries, stairwells and elevators. In-room safes are even a common feature.
5. Serviced apartments have more options when things go wrong
Things can even go wrong at hotels. We’ve definitely had to switch rooms because something wasn’t working or we ended up on the floor where the high school basketball team is a bit too rowdy.
But what do you do when things go wrong – or worse, aren’t at all as described – in your Airbnb? It’s rare that an Airbnb owner has multiple listings and that they can move you to another apartment when the need arises.
One time in London when we were attending a conference during a very cold week in winter, we stayed at a serviced apartment and the hot water heater went out. The apartment company was able to move us to another apartment just up a few floors instead of being inconvenienced without heat or hot water.
However, the year before I shared an Airbnb with a friend to attend that same conference. A pull out bed was included in the listing, but didn’t exist. The owner brought an inflatable mattress over, which I had to blow up myself and had a slow leak. I definitely wasn’t my best or in the mood to network after a horrible night’s sleep.
Serviced apartments with an on-site reception are the best option, as you can get 24/7 assistance when you need it.