Top Tips for Choosing Self Catering Accommodation


April 22, 2023

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Are you thinking about choosing self catering accommodation for your next family holiday? 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!

Based on my experience here are my tips for choosing self catering accommodation for a family holiday.

Do Your Research

It is worth spending time researching different options for your trip. There are some great deals to be had on self catering villas and apartments, especially if you are willing to wait until closer to your trip to book.

I typically check bigger websites such as or AirBnB and then, if I find somewhere I like, I will see if they have their own website to book direct, which can offer better value.

I also look at reviews from people who have stayed and check out other travel websites to get a feel for the area before I commit.

Booking Flights

tips for choosing self catering accommodation

Flights can be the least expensive part of the trip if you spend time looking and comparing different routes and options.

In the past we have booked flights first, when they have been good value, and waited until closer to the time we are travelling 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.

Check In and Checkout

Search by check in dates when you are doing your research as some villas only accept bookings with arrivals on certain days.

If 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. Or you could even consider booking an extra day if the price is right, so you have a full day there before leaving for the airport at night.

On one trip where we had hired a rental car, we spent the day at a water-park before making out way to the airport.  We left our luggage in the car and just took what we needed. Most have showers and changing facilities where you can get freshened up for your flight home.

Look For Locations Near Amenities

tips for choosing self catering accommodation

Getting a place that is near a town or at least has good transport links to a town or village with amenities can be more expensive, but does offer more freedom for your holiday.

You can sometimes get places that are walking distance to the local town or village which means you won’t need to hire a car unless you really want to. It also means, you can walk in for the evening and not worry about having to drive home afterwards.

Check What the Deposit Covers

Always check what the deposit is and what your payment covers e.g electricity, heating a pool etc.

Also check if there is a cleaning fee or other extras that are not covered by your initial payment. And be sure to find out how you will get your deposit back after the holiday is over.

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.

Getting a place with a BBQ gives you the freedom of catering for fussy eaters too.  And let’s face it, food always tastes better when cooked over hot coals!

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Consider Taking the Welcome Hamper

tips for choosing self catering accommodation

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

Arrive Prepared

Check in advance what is provided. For instance, most rentals will provide bed linen and towels for showers etc. but may not provide beach towels. Knowing in advance means you can decide to bring them from home or buy cheap ones while you are there and leave them behind afterwards.

And if your accommodation has a dishwasher and/or a washing machine, pack some detergent tablets to use while you are there. You can’t always buy these in small box sizes and they may not be given by the host.

Swimming Pools

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.

Also depending on time the time of year, it can be nice to opt for a heated pool. This may be an extra charge, so be sure to ask before you travel for extra charges for this service as they can add up.


Not all places offer TV streaming services, so if you have them, pack your favourite box set to catch up on once the kids are in bed!

Most rental places do offer a board game or might have a pool table or darts board. Do bring a pack of cards and rediscover some of the card games you played when you were a child.

Ask the host if they have books that can be borrowed while you are there. Unless you have an e-reader, books can eat into your weight allowance and space and many places have shelves full to enjoy.


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Pros and Cons of Booking Self Catering Accommodation

booking self catering accommodation


  • Different tastes and family sizes can be catered for.
  • Facilities – most have well equipped kitchens with everything you need to cook some meals at home and cut back on eating out costs.
  • Less luggage – many 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 you won’t have to share the pool with large numbers of other visitors 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 and outdoor space to enjoy too.
  • Entertainment – Most come with books, games and DVD’s and some even have TV, satellite channels or streaming services and game players to keep everyone amused.


  • Expense – It will sometimes be more expensive than a hotel break but you can make savings by eating some of your meals at home. Looking out for deals from airlines for your flights can help cut back on costs. You can also save on luggage costs as most rentals have washing machines.
  • Transfers – If you are not hiring a car you will have to organise your own transport to your accommodation. Some hosts can organise this for you and with apps such as Uber, it can be booked in advance and be relatively inexpensive.
  • Social – You miss out on meeting other families if your accommodation is on a plot of its’ own. But you can take part in off-site activities and meet other families this way. You can also consider booking a self catering place in the grounds of the holiday village or hotel.
  • Catering – You may not want to cook while on holidays.

I hope I have inspired to do some research and look into what is on offer when it comes to self catering accommodation for your next family holiday, you might be pleasantly surprised!

tips for choosing self catering accommodation

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