For most people in search of mid-range accommodation for their vacation, the first and only option that comes to mind is a hotel. But there is an alternative that not only works out cheaper but has better amenities to boot: serviced apartments.
A serviced apartment is basically an apartment that’s fully furnished and offers the privacy and comforts of home, but is run like a hotel, with housekeeping staff that “service” the apartment.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be staying in a city for a long time to rent one of these apartments – as more and more serviced apartments crop up, it’s becoming possible to book them for short term stays as well.
If you’re wondering what a serviced apartment might be like, scroll down to check out my pictures of just such an apartment in Shanghai, China, and then read on to hear my 7 reasons why serviced apartments are better than hotels.
1. More space. This is one of the biggest upsides, particularly if you’re staying in the same city for a long period of time. Since serviced apartments will generally have a separate living and dining area (and even more living spaces if you choose an “executive” or “premier” apartment) you’re not just confined to a small bedroom. It can definitely help you from going stir crazy – particularly if you’re on a long business trip and just need to unwind someplace “homey” after a day of work.
2. A convenient configuration for family or group travel. You can often find apartments with several bedrooms and bathrooms branching off from one central living area, and this can work well for couples traveling with children or with another couple – everyone has their privacy/space but can still hang out together in the shared lounge room.
3. A kitchen. You may not be planning on doing much cooking during your vacation, but a kitchen with a fridge and microwave can be great for heating up leftovers from restaurant meals, storing late night snacks and drinks (no need to dip into the pricey mini-bar) and whipping up a quick breakfast. It’s also great if you have special dietary requirements, eat meals at a different time to the locals (I’ve been to countries where everyone eats lunch at noon and it’s hard to find food if you want lunch later than that), or if you’re traveling with children.
4. Less frequent housekeeping. This might seem odd given the fact that one of the perks of staying in a hotel is not having to make your own bed, but hear me out. Many traditional hotels will have housekeeping show up to your room everyday, sometimes even several times a day (to clean, to turn down your bed in the evening etc). This can actually get rather annoying if you decide to sleep in (and forget to put the “do not disturb” sign on the door), if you don’t want to leave your room while housekeeping does it up, and also if you don’t want to have to spend every day “tidying” prior to housekeeping’s arrival (I know this sounds strange, but I always go around my hotel picking up after myself before housekeeping comes – I don’t want to risk leaving anything super valuable lying around and I don’t want them to think something is trash when it’s not, like expense receipts or other paperwork). In serviced apartments, housekeeping is generally only conducted a couple times a week, which in my view is plenty (how often, after all, do you clean your house?). Of course, if you need them to come clean or replace something in between visits, they will.
5. DIY laundry. While most hotels will do your laundry for you, it’s generally pretty expensive. Serviced apartments will often come with a in-room washer and dryer, which means you can wash your clothes for free – perfect if you like to pack light or have children who dirty their clothes quickly.
6. It’s still like a hotel. Many serviced apartments still have all the trimmings you’ll find in a standard hotel building, such as a pool, gym, conference center, restaurants and concierge – so you don’t have to sacrifice any amenities.
7. The price. Serviced apartments will often work out cheaper than an equivalent hotel, and while some will require you to book for a month or a week to get a good deal, others still offer great rates for a stay of just a few nights. Of course, the fact that you can also cook your own meals can help you save even more money.
What do you think? Have you ever stayed in a serviced apartment? How was the experience better or worse than a typical hotel?