Staying in a Hotel vs. Renting a Flat When Visiting Europe

Map of Europe

If you are planning a ski trip to Europe this winter or just want to visit the Old Continent at some point, you should know your lodging options. Even though a hotel might be your first choice, you should think about renting an apartment, for example. Rentals have become very popular during vacations in Europe, and tourists seem satisfied with this type of accommodation. However, both a rental and a hotel might have advantages and disadvantages. As a result, this article is here to help you decide which one is the best between staying in a hotel vs. renting a flat when visiting Europe.

Booking

If you are used to staying at a hotel during vacations, you already know how things work. You do some research, find the hotel that meets your needs, make a call, and you have a room reserved. Or, if you already know the hotel you want to stay at, you can make a reservation online. When it comes to renting a flat, though, the research might take a little longer. Many rentals are not verified, even on booking sites, and some of them might not have reviews. That can make it a bit harder for you to determine whether or not that flat is good for you. However, if you are lucky, you might be able to find a suitable rental pretty quickly. Simply look for those with the most reviews and a detailed description. Examine the photos, the location, and the amenities, and then compare them to the reviews. If they check out, you have a winner.

Payment

When renting an apartment in Europe, you should know that booking websites charge a booking fee. The fee is part of the price, and it will be handed over to the owner, but only after you check in. Even if it might seem strange, this procedure is there to protect the owner from fraud. Furthermore, some websites will need identification to make the owner and their guests feel more secure.

On the other hand, when it comes to hotels and payment, you have more options. For instance, you don’t need to pay in advance if you don’t want to. Most of the time, hotels will charge you either at check-in or check-out. Some hotels might encourage you to pay in advance, offering discounts for prepaid rooms. However, you can still choose to pay for the room at check-in or out.

Person holding money.
If you plan to rent a flat in Europe, make sure you have Euros or money in the local currency with you.

Prices

The price makes a big difference when deciding between staying in a hotel vs. renting a flat when visiting Europe. If you pay between $100 and $150 per night for a hotel room, a rental will cost around $40. But, of course, it can depend on the destination you choose. However, unlike with hotel rooms, you might be asked to pay a safety deposit for the rental. This deposit can vary based on the apartment, so make sure to check before you book it. Also, you will have to pay the deposit upon arrival in cash. Most rental owners don’t accept credit cards, so you will need to have some money with you when you check in, ideally in local currency.

Check-ins

When it comes to check-ins, hotels might have a plus. They have a reception, so someone will be there to check you in 24/7. You will receive the key to your room, and then you are free to come and go as you wish. In a rental, on the other hand, you need to set an exact time when you will be checking in. As a result, when you agree on the hour with your host, make sure that you will be able to arrive on time. Research the exact location of the flat and how to get there. It is the same as a hotel room once you have checked in. You can come and go as you please because you will have the key to the flat. However, if you share the apartment with someone else, you may have to share the key.

The advantage of hotels vs. rented flats is the reception that is open 24/7.

Safety

If you are concerned about the safety of your valuables while traveling in Europe, both a hotel and a rental can be considered safe. Most hotels have CCTV coverage, making it difficult for your items to be unsafe while in the room. Furthermore, hotel security knows who entered the hotel, when they did so, and where they went. It’s pretty hard to get past them without being noticed. In rental flats, you can also have cameras at the entrance, and you and the owner are the only ones who have the key. But, if you are skeptical and need to find a way not to worry about your possessions while traveling, you can leave them in safe hands in a rented storage space back home. Your precious belongings will be safe during your travel, and you can enjoy your vacation stress-free.

Amenities

When it comes to staying in a hotel vs. renting a flat when visiting Europe, a hotel room will win if you prefer comfort. Hotels can offer breakfasts, housekeeping, laundry services, or room service. In addition, the employees will help you with anything you need. For example, you can ask about the location of the nearest pharmacy or where to buy the most original souvenirs. At the same time, internet services may be poor, or you may be required to pay for them. Then again, in a rental, even if you have to make your breakfast and do the laundry, you might have a much better internet connection. In addition, you can look for a flat that has all the things that will make you feel at home. Air conditioning, a balcony, a separate bathroom, a TV, or a parking space are just some examples.

If you rent a flat while visiting Europe, you will have all the comfort and amenities that you need.

Final words

Choosing the best accommodation for your trip to Europe is totally up to you. If you are willing to pay more but have an easy check-in, no deposits, comfort, and more security, you should choose to stay at a hotel. But if you want to pay less, live like a local, have all the amenities you want, and all the space you need, you should go with a rental. Your preferences will dictate whether you will go with staying in a hotel vs. renting a flat when visiting Europe.

10 Most Original Souvenirs To Take Home From a Journey

Souvenir shops

One thing all travelers are currently asking is – is it the right time to travel again? The answer to this question depends on your location and desired destination. Some parts of the world have been affected by the pandemic more severely than others. So, it would be best to wait a bit longer to be safe. After all, we waited this long. What are a couple of months more? However, just because we cannot travel right now, that does not mean that you cannot start planning for your upcoming trip. You can use this time to dig deep and research all the mesmerizing places virtually before visiting. And, while you are researching, it won’t hurt to get some ideas regarding souvenirs. This article is here to help you with that. Here are 10 original souvenirs to take home from a journey. 

1. Argentina – Leather Items 

Argentina is famous for many things, and leather is one of them. So, next time you find yourself in this amazing country, be sure to pick up some leather items. Those can be shoes, belts, bags, wallets, or even watch straps. And, do not worry, you will not get scammed – the leather pieces from Argentina are of excellent quality, so do not hesitate to pay a bit extra.

2. China – Teapots

If you decide to travel to China, one of the most original souvenirs you can come home with is a Chinese teapot. These can be found pretty much anywhere in China. Their prices vary depending on their quality, of course. If you have some extra spending money in your budget, we recommend getting teapots made from Chinese porcelain. And, if you want a complete collection to give you the ultimate tea-drinking experience, you can also get teacups in matching painted sets. And don’t forget to buy some Chinese green or black tea. All of these make for excellent birthday gifts for travelers, too, so keep that in mind if you want to buy a gift for someone special. 

A teapot and cup.
There is nothing more original than a Chinese tea set.

3. England – Cadbury’s Chocolate

Even though Belgium is the world’s chocolate capital, many people argue that England can participate in the competition. But it is not just any chocolate – it is the famous Cadbury’s chocolate. This will also be a perfect gift to an American as this chocolate can no longer be found in the USA. 

4. Belgium – Lace

Speaking of Belgium, this country has a lot more to offer than just chocolate. For instance, Belgium is known for its authentic, hand-made lace and tapestry. Some of the most intricate laceworks can be found in the cities of Brussels and Bruges. You can take this lace home and make curtains, table spreads, or some of the most beautiful pieces of clothing out of it. But, let us warn you – Belgium’s lace comes with a hefty price tag! 

5. France – Macarons

It is no secret that France is famous for its cheeses, pastries and desserts. Some of those famous pastries include Croissants, Éclairs, Crepes, Crème Brûlée, etc. However, one dessert found its way to all of our hearts. The one and only – Macarons. These delectable pieces of heaven come in many colors and flavors. You can buy them almost anywhere throughout France. And even though they look delicate, they will survive the ride home.

A selection of macaroons.
Your friends will love you if you bring them macarons from your trip to France.

6. Ireland -Whisky

Besides food, alcohol and other popular drinks are some of the original souvenirs to take home from a journey. So, in Ireland, do not even think about going home without trying their signature whiskies. Every bar offers a variety of Irish whiskies. Try a couple and then buy a bottle of your favorite as your souvenir from Ireland.

7. Germany – Beer Stein

Most tourists travel to Germany during Oktoberfest. This festival is an excellent opportunity to dance, eat, drink, and simply have fun. Unfortunately, Oktoberfest was not held last year due to the pandemic. Nobody knows what will happen this year, but do not let that stop you from visiting Germany. It is a common travel myth that all the attractions are closed now. They are not! You can still try Germany’s famous beers and buy a beer stein as your souvenir.  

8. Italy – Venetian Masks

If you are looking for souvenirs you can buy that will not only stay on your fridge or your key chains, consider looking for pieces that serve a purpose. So, for example, when in Italy, consider investing in a Venetian Mask. They come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. And, they can be used as art pieces for your home, not only as souvenirs. You can use them to add a personal touch to your office or your living room. 

A Venetian mask.
A Venetian mask can also be a great gift for somebody special

9. Morocco – Ceramic Items 

Morocco is a country famous for being one of the most popular honeymoon destinations. It is also famous for hand-painted ceramic items. Most often, you will see colorful bowls being sold on the streets. But, you can find pretty much anything made of ceramics – mugs, glasses, pots, figurines, and even tiles. What makes them so unique is the color choice and various intricate floral and geometric designs. 

10. Russia – Lacquer Box

One of the most popular souvenirs to buy in Russia is the Matryoshka doll. But, this doll has become a cliché over the years as everybody buys it. So, when in Russia, instead of buying a doll set, consider purchasing the Lacquer box. This is a fantastic souvenir to take home. It too comes in many colors and sizes, but what makes it unique are the pictures from Russian fairy tales drawn on it

And there you have it – 10 most original souvenirs to take home from a journey. What souvenir would you buy?

 

Exploring London’s Underground Secrets

London1


Over the past century and a half, London’s Underground has seen two world wars, millions of passengers, and more secrets than we could begin to count. The “Tube” is used by Londoners and visitors to the beautiful city every hour of every day, but most are unaware of the history they’re traveling through.

Once you learn of the 150-years’ worth of secrets and history housed below England’s capital, you’ll earn a completely new appreciation for this feat of engineering and human-kind.

Underground History

In the early 1800s, London was booming. The influx of people bustling about quickly made it apparent that a better method of mass transportation was needed, and fast. The Metropolitan Railway took on the immense challenge of constructing the first underground line below the city. After months of construction, the 3 and three quarter mile railway carried 38,000 passengers safely to their destination on the inaugural ride on January 10, 1863.

soldiers parading on the streets of London

For the following five decades, London’s Underground saw changing ownership, builders, and thousands of passengers. However, once World War I began London saw its first air raid, and the tube was transformed into much more than a transportation system. The safe-haven continued on into the World War II.
Image Source: BiblioArchives

abandoned bomb shelter

Initially, British government officials tried to prevent the tube stations and lines use as bomb shelters. But, after their attempts to keep people from taking shelter there were decisively ignored, they decided to regulate the shelters instead. Trains continued to run on certain lines, bringing supplies, food, and other Londoner’s seeking shelter. A number of unused stations were converted into factories for wartime productions.
Image Source: secretlondon123

While the Tube was considered by many to be the safest haven, no place in London was completely protected from German Blitzes. Hundreds of Londoner’s lost their lives when the tube was hit by German bombs in 1940 through 1943.
Even in the times of crisis and tragedy, the Underground has remained as a point of togetherness for the people of London. It’s an unmistakable symbol of the ingenuity and strength of Britain as a whole.

Traveling the Underground Today

The Underground lines cover nine zones and stop at more than 200 stations. Even though there are nine zones, tourists typically stay in Zones 1 and 2 because they cover Central London where many of the major tourist attractions and hotels are located.

These days, 11 Tube lines transport locals and tourists throughout Britain’s capital:

  • Bakerloo Line
  • Central Line
  • Circle Line
  • District Line
  • Hammersmith & City Line
  • Jubilee Line
  • Metropolitan Line
  • Northern Line
  • Piccadilly Line
  • Victoria Line
  • Waterloo & City Line

Generally, the Underground runs are between 5:00 a.m. — 12:00 A.M., Monday through Saturday. Sunday times are reduced by a few hours with later starting times and earlier stopping times.

Secrets Along The Stops

We alluded to the importance of the Underground during the World Wars, and proof of that is beneath 8 of the 11 Tube lines. For under these lines sit deep-level air-raid shelters. The construction of the shelters took place between 1940 and 1942. Originally reserved for government officials, 5 of the 8 shelters opened up to civilians as bombing intensified.

abandoned tube station in London

Image Source: secretlondon123

The shelters that were constructed include:

  • Chancery Lane
  • Belsize Park
  • Camden Town
  • Goodge Street
  • Stockwell
  • Clapham North
  • Clapham Common
  • Clapham South

After the war ended, several of the shelters were still used by London’s military. The Goodge Street shelter was used by the army until the 1950s. The Chancery Lane shelter was used for the Kingsway Telephone Exchange during the Cold War years.

Recreated World War 2 communications room

Image Source: Shiny Things

In addition to the secrets you’ll uncover while traveling the Underground, you’ll also see all of the most iconic sights of the region.

Circle Line – Tower Hill Station

Tower Bridge – Built 120 years ago, the Tower Bridge is an engineering marvel and arguably one of the most recognizable attractions in the world. If you’re feeling brave, trek out onto the high bridges suspended between the bridges towers.

Tower Bridge in London

Image Source: spacedust2019

District Line – St James’s Station

St. James’s Park – Millions of visitors flock to the beautiful St. James’s Park every year. It’s the oldest of London’s eight Royal Parks, and it includes The Mall and the Horse Guards Parade.

View of St. James Park, London

Image Source: foshie

Jubilee Line – Westminster Station

Big Ben – Is there a more iconic London sight than Big Ben? Lucky for visitors, this sight is right along the Jubilee Line outside of Westminster Station. Whether you’re a history buff or just want to check it off of your bucket list, you need to stop by Big Ben.

Night view of Big Ben and Parliament Buildings

Image Source: Nan Palmero

Northern Line – Waterloo Station

London Eye – The London Eye is a larger-than-life Ferris wheel on the River Thames in London. From here, you will be treated to the most spectacular views of the city and a ride you won’t forget.

The London Eye at night

Image Source: Altug Karakoc

Piccadilly Line – Covent Garden or Leicester Square Station

Covent Garden – The district of Covent Garden in London is a hub for local shops, delicious food, and incredible street performers. Once you hop out of the Covent Garden station, you’ll have a tough time fitting everything you want to explore into just one day.

Covent Garden

Image Source: Aurelien Guichard

Parts of the Tube’s storied history are somber, but the incredible spirit of London persists and prevails. For once you wander the stations and secret passageways hidden beneath the surface, you’ll never think of London the same way again.