The service apartment is a great option when traveling abroad, if the price is in your range and you plan on spending more than 1 to 2 days in a particular city. If you have traveling companions and can split the bill, you can rent these for comparable if not less than some finer hotel rooms. You just have to take the time to look and check out the reviews. Why a service apartment? Do you really like staying in a hotel room more than a day or two? Some people love doing this, they think it’s the lap of luxury, to be catered to and wear plush white robes. I always find a day or two of this and I am pretty much over it. My comfort comes from being more at home in a place. Some B&Bs are a bit home like and stays there can be good, especially if you have that first meal of the day prepared. It depends if you like being catered to or need a more home-like environment and being self sufficient. But, you may have to do some shopping.
Hint: Be prepared for a lot of Scottish or Irish Breakfast in these places. Massive. After a few stays on your trip you may get an over do. Do a lot of walking so you can breathe.
Service apartments are what we think of as extended stay in the US. Or you can also opt in for the rentals like through a company like Air BNB where you stay in someone’s flat. There are some pros and cons to these arrangements, you have to weigh the options for your needs. Also, cooking or preparing some of your own meals can help your budget, if you want to do that. But be aware, just like eating out can be expensive, you are in a country that may have higher food prices in general, so be prepared for sticker shock. So if you are at a city with an outdoor farmers market scheduled or stationary, check it out as you will be helping locals feed their own.
I like the serviced apartment option if I am staying somewhere for a length of time and really just want to feel like part of the community for a few days. You see how some of the people live in the city, granted not everyone is represented in the area you are staying, a neighborhood, but you get a better sense of how people truly live when you are not in some steel and glass hotel. You usually have to make arrangements with the company/letting agency that runs the apartment to meet, this could end up being not until 4 or 5 pm which means you are stuck with cases for the day. Check with the agent as some of them do have a check in and some do not. They don’t all have a office you can go to, so this can eat up some of your time of the day waiting to meet them. Hotels have a concierge so you can check in bags before your stay. Most service apartments come with all the amenities of a home away from home, just like when you left yours. And sometimes you can use their laundry facilities in the kitchen and refresh from your travels. Plonking down on a sofa with a book or watching telly can be really refreshing after trudging around all day. If you are lucky, previous fellow travelers may have left you food treats or teas, check the cabinets before you shop, and some leave books behind with a note to have a good read. However, some self service can get expensive depending on the real estate area and style. Keep checking for better deals. Some can be moderate and comparable to hotel pricing, if not cheaper. You need to shop around. Check reviews on specific companies as well.
Some Useful Links and Articles for Planning
Home Away Listing Site for UK
Staycity – London, Dublin, York, Edinburgh, Paris, Manchester, Birmingham
Corrib Galway Self Catering Summer (NUI Campus) – Rent from the University , a lot of features for student summer rental housing. Public transit friendly.
Note: I do not receive funding or perks from any of these sites or companies, I merely list here to help your search.