Is there anything better than coming home after a long and strenuous journey, falling into a freshly made bed without lifting a finger (thanks for that, five-days-ago-Kathi), indulging in a home-cooked dinner and lounging on your couch while watching your favourite film for the 5th time in the past four months – What we do in the Shadows, anyone?  That instant bra-off feeling of freedom in the privacy of your own home is unbeatable. No way the cosiest of hostel or hotel rooms could have that same effect. But what about wanderlust? Staying at home just to feel the comfort of a home all the time is simply not an option. I demand the feeling of home while being on the road – and I don’t mean the ‘home is where the WiFi is’-kind of home. I mean the ‘wow, it’s like I actually lived here’-kind of home. That’s something only a flat can give you. Yay for holiday rentals!

‘And you’ll feel at home anywhere in the world’

If you like your flats to be pretty as well as homey, you should check out the platform Only-apartments. Considering that my own flat is not necessarily picture-worthy (eight months in, and still not a single picture up on my living room walls…), I instantly fell in love with the selection of apartments up there. The founders, Elisabet and Alon, are an architects couple from Spain, who started only-apartments with renting out only one apartment – namely their own flat in Barcelona. I sat down with them to get my head around how this one flat turned into an abundance of design apartments, and what they think makes the perfect holiday rental.

Welcome home - anywhere in the world - Only Apartments - Elisabeth Cristia and Alon Eldar

So, Alon, did you always prefer apartments over hotels?

Oh no – I started travelling when I was very young. At the beginning, when looking for accommodation, I always looked for a place where I could relax after a “hard” day of walking, visiting a city… usually a comfortable hotel room.

Then how did you convert from hotel guest to apartment lodger?

Everything changed when I spent a year in Sweden thanks to an Erasmus grant. There I discovered that it was much more interesting and comfortable to discover a place while staying at someone’s house, in an entire apartment. It is like having your own house everywhere in the world and it allows you to discover local places, local people.

And what makes an apartment better than a hotel? What is the advantage?

I think a hotel room is perfect when you are travelling for just one night, but when you stay for a whole weekend or longer, the feeling of having your own space, your own apartment, is important. When I stay at a hotel I always have the feeling of being “expelled” and forced to spend the whole day outside but, in an apartment, this doesn’t happen. I can stay in my own salon, cook in my own kitchen…in the end, feel like a local all around the world.

Only Apartments - Glasgow Apartment-1 Only Apartments - Glasgow Apartment-20

Alon goes on to tell me about their company – how they started acquiring more and more apartments in the old town of Barcelona, how many of their friends chipped in their flats to be included on the platform, how they expanded beyond the limits of Spain with their first apartment in Paris, and how everything just kept coming since then. Today, Only-apartments offers over 30,000 apartments in over 100 countries – there are over 1,000 cheap apartments in Barcelona alone. Note, not all these belong to Elisabet and Alon, but anybody can list their own beautiful apartment on the platform. And different than on other platforms, you can book directly and guaranteed – no risk of last minute cancellations because of illness or change of mind.

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Back to finding the perfect holiday apartment – as an expert, what do you think makes that perfect flat?

Good question – it has to be a warm and comfortable place. It is not always about its size, but about how it makes you feel. Of course, when talking about holidays, the location of the apartment is very important. When the sun is shining and you have a terrace where you can enjoy your breakfast – that is the best thing ever!!!

How about the must-have features – what are the key ingredients for a good apartment?

A kitchen and Wi-Fi. Internet has become one of the most important features of an apartment. During the last years, we have seen that an apartment with internet is booked a lot more than an apartment without internet. Also, the kitchen is something that makes you feel like you are at home and, of course, makes your holidays cheaper as you don’t have to eat out in restaurants all the time.

I also like to discover the details of an apartment – does it have everything a traveler needs? Of course, a “welcome gift” always makes me smile.

WiFi, a fully equipped kitchen and ideally a box of chocolate – sounds good to me! What I really like about Only-apartments is, that even though there are so many of them, all the apartments seem handpicked. Every listing comes with beautiful photos and a floor plan, so you won’t buy a pig in poke. Elisabet tells me the visual presentation is so important to them, because that’s what they expect when looking for holiday apartments themselves, but also because they are architects. They could not not include a floor plan.

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Recap: the Pros & the Cons of holiday apartments

Pro:

– experiencing a city like a local

– getting personal advice and recommendations from the apartment owners

– saving money on food because there is a kitchen

– taking part in the daily life of the area you live in

– no disturbing phone calls from reception or house keeping coming knocking because you forgot to put the sign outside

– your own private safe zone to which you can return all day long

– often cheaper and more comfort than a hotel room

Con:

– nobody will make your bed for you (which you will miss anyways, if you sleep through regular housekeeping hours…)

Only Apartments - Glasgow Apartment-4

Finally, I ask the two about how travellers can instantly feel like locals in a new city – here’s what they say:

The best thing of renting an apartment is that you are not forced to stay in the touristic areas, but you can choose other, more local places. Ask the person handing you the keys of ‘your house’ all the things you want to know about the area – supermarkets, shops, restaurants etc. To feel like a local it is important to not only visit the most touristy places of a city, but to discover other districts and join the everyday life activities like shopping for food or having breakfast on the balcony.

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How about you – do you prefer to stay in hotels or apartments? What would your perfect holiday apartment look like – and where would it be? Let us know about your experiences in the comments!

* The post is a cooperation with Only-apartments.
The photos show Herald apartment in Glasgow – an apartment for
which I 
would throw my own flat over board without batting an eye…