Top Tips for Choosing Self Catering Accommodation

Are you thinking about choosing self catering accommodation for your next family holiday? Find out what David, Dad of 2, has to advise:

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swimming poolWhen considering your next family holiday I would recommend checking out self catering options. We are a family of 4, with 2 girls aged 8 and 10. Our children have different tastes, one can’t get enough of the sun or the pool and the other likes to play indoors with her dolls, come out for a dip and retreat back indoors from the sun’s rays. Catering for both make a family holiday difficult as one of us has to stay by the pool while the other retreats to a hotel room or apartment, not ideal for a family break!

A friend suggested a self catering villa with our own pool. I initially thought this option would be beyond our budget but with a bit of research and choosing destinations with low cost flights, we have succeeded in having 3 amazing holidays where everyone in the family was catered for! Last year we booked a holiday to Lanzarote and even moved mid-holiday to experience 2 different areas on the island. Here are my tips for choosing self catering accommodation for a family holiday based on my experience:

#1. Choose Somewhere With a BBQ

Cooking outdoors does not feel like such a chore when you’re on holiday and most holiday destinations have a great selection of products on offer in the local supermarket.

#2. Look for a Villa or House Near Town

You can sometimes get villas that are walking distance to the local town which means you won’t need to hire a car.

#3. Check the Deposit

Always check what the deposit is and what your payment covers e.g Electricity etc. Check if there is a cleaning fee.

#4. Be Sure to Book from a Reputable Website

I recommend Home and Away and  Canvas Holidays,  Remember if it looks too good to be true it probably is!

#5. Consider Taking the Welcome Hamper

villa eileen lanzaroteIf you are landing late at night it may be worth getting the welcome hamper that some companies offer as this saves you trying to find something to eat first thing before you have found your bearings.

#6. Pack a Few Dishwasher Tablets

If your villa has a dishwasher, pack some detergent tablets to use while you are there.

#7. Check if Beach Towels are Included

Check if beach towels are included then you can decide if you need to bring your own or buy cheap ones while you are there.

#8. Bring Movies

Pack your favourite Box Set to catch up on once the kids are in bed!

#9. See if Late Checkout is Available

FlyingIf your flight is leaving in the evening check before you travel, if it is possible to get a late check out or if you can leave your luggage at an office to collect later.If it is not and you have hired a rental car, consider taking the family to a water-park for the day. Most have showers and changing facilities where you can get freshened up for your flight home.

#10. Do Your Research

There are some great deals to be had on self catering villas, especially if you wait until 6 weeks before you travel to book. I typically check  Home and Away, and  Canvas Holidays, websites, which cater for most European destinations and some also cater for USA, Canada and Africa.

#11. Look at Check In Dates

Look at the check in dates as some villas only accept bookings with arrivals on certain days.

#12. Check Out Flight Costs Before Making Your Final Choice

In the past we have booked flights first and waited to get a good deal on the villa. This works well if your destination is popular as there will be many villas to choose from.

#13. Check Out Pool

It is law in some European countries to have a fence and gate around a private pool but not all countries have this law.  If you are traveling with small children ensure your villa has safety measures in place around the pool.


So what are the pros and cons of booking self catering accommodation?


  • Casa Cristal PoolDifferent tastes can be catered for.
  • Facilities – most have great kitchens with everything you need to cook some meals at home and cut back on eating out costs.
  • Less luggage – most have washing machines so you don’t need to pack so much!
  • Privacy – if you have a villa or are part of a small complex no sharing the pool and no saving sunbeds at 6am!
  • Comfort – No getting up early to get out of your room before cleaning staff arrive.
  • Space – you usually have a sitting room as well as bedrooms.
  • Entertainment – Most come with books, games and DVD’s and some even have TV, Satellite channels and game players to keep everyone amused.


  • Casa Cristal LanzaroteExpense – It will sometimes be more expensive than a hotel break but you can make savings by eating some or your meals at the villa and looking out for deals from airlines for your flights. You can also save on luggage costs as most villas have washing machines.
  • Transfers – If you are not hiring a car you will have to organise your travel to the villa. Some companies can organise this for you.
  • Social – You miss out on meeting other families if your villa/ cottage or appartment is on a plot on it’s own. But you can take part in off-site activities and meet other families this way.
  • Catering – You may not want to cook while on holidays.

What’s your experience of self catering accommodation on family holidays? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Other useful articles:

Family trip to Cornwall, Achill Island, Mayo with older kids and Family Holiday in Portugal.

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