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HouseTrip review thread. Non-testers: Share your top tips on how to make the most of holidaying in an entire house, apartment or villa and you could win a £200 Boots voucher NOW CLOSED

(144 Posts)
AngelieMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 09-May-14 17:01:07

This thread is for the five lucky MN families who are going on a HouseTrip holiday this month.

HouseTrip say "HouseTrip is an online platform that allows visitors to choose from over 300,000 full homes from around the world to holiday in. From ivy-dappled country cottages to beach retreats and city-centre lofts, the service offers simplicity, value, flexibility and security for families looking for a hassle free and enjoyable holiday experience from start to finish."

Testers are visiting London, Edinburgh and Brussels – check back to this thread to find out how they are getting on.

We have asked testers to add feedback at least three times - before they go, when they are there and when they get back home.

Non testers: HouseTrip would love to know your top tips on how to make the most of holidaying in an entire house, apartment or villa. Everyone who adds a tip will be entered into a prize draw where one Mumsnetter will win a £200 Boots voucher, so that they can get stocked up for the holiday season.

Please note tips and comments may well be used by HouseTrip on their pages on Mumsnet, social media and elsewhere. Your MN name will not be used.

Testers – please share on this thread your overall opinion and experience plus your responses to the following questions.

Before you go
- Have you or anyone you know ever been on a HouseTrip holiday before, and if so where did they go?
- What are you looking forward to most? What are your DC looking forward to?
- How was the booking process?

On holiday
- How is it so far? What's the weather like?
- Describe your accommodation e.g. the amount of space, outdoor area, particular parts of the house etc.
- What else are you doing outside of the HouseTrip stay, in the local area?
- How does this compare to previous hotel holidays or previous home rental holidays you've experienced?
- What have you got up to at your HouseTrip property?
- Have you used the kitchen to cook at home? Where did you get cooking ingredients? If you haven’t been cooking much, how often did you choose to eat out?
- What have your DC enjoyed most about the HouseTrip experience? And what have you/your DH/DP enjoyed most?

When you are back

Overall opinions from you and others in the family:

How would you rate/ describe...

- Accommodation as a whole
- Kitchen facilities
- Bedrooms/Sleeping arrangements
- Local area
- How were the checking in and out experiences?
- Would you return/ try out another HouseTrip holiday?
- Would you recommend HouseTripping to a friend?
- What did you think about the value for money – especially compared to other family holidays? What did you think about the amount of space you get for the cost?
- Any other comments?

Please also do add a review on Mumsnet to the Self Catering pages.

Thanks
MNHQ

PS We've 'highlighted' the testers posts on this thread so we can see them!

TheHouseatWhoCorner Sun 11-May-14 18:51:34

Non tester.
Book a supermarket delivery.
Make sure you check if bed linen is included, remember to take tea towels.
Find the little book of useful stuff owners often leave.
Make sure DC know any areas that are off limits.
And remember to leave a message in the guest book and on trip advisor.

I keep a spreadsheet with all things to take on self catering hols, eg toilet roll, bottle opener etc. And a bag of small bottles containing washing up liquid etc. This makes it very easy to plan what to take.

themitch21 Sun 11-May-14 19:12:45

We always make sure to do a quick check and move any fragile or breakable items out of the reach of meddling little hands when we first get there. It saves the worry of having to pay for damages at the end.

Bigglesfliesundone Sun 11-May-14 19:50:27

I always make sure we take our own herbs and spices as it's a pain to have to buy things like that!

dd always makes her room her own the minute we get there by putting out all of her ponies and other plastic!

Is important to make it feel homely so we make sure our things are put away asap!

smile

chocolateshoes Sun 11-May-14 21:34:42

If we're travelling by car we take something ready for dinner that evening. Last year we drove to mid France and too a frozen homemade lasagne so by the time we got there it was defrosted but had stayed nicely chilled on the journey. The last thing I want to do after a long drive us to work out his to use a different cooker, & while the dinners is in the oven we can get on with unpacking.

starlight36 Sun 11-May-14 22:00:00

Non tester

We always take along our toddler bath mat as it rolls up quite small but along with a few favourite toys makes any bathroom feel just like home to our DC.

We unpack some toys straight away so that the DC can be amused whilst we try to unpack and organise all the stuff.

Much to the amusement of DH I hunt out the visitors book and read it from cover to cover looking for helpful local tips!

manfalou Mon 12-May-14 12:11:42

Non Tester...

Take your everyday essentials with you but in smaller quantities so you're not taking to much baggage.

Take into account if there is a dish washer and if you intend to use it... we didn't have a dish washer at home so offers our neighbours a couple of £ to have a couple of their dish washer tabs, saving us buying a full box which we'd never use.

If its a large villa share go with another family. Plan your meals before you go and see if you can split the cost of essentials and what ever food you intend to take with. Plus the cost of staying in the villa reduces.

Fillybuster Mon 12-May-14 13:06:54

Non tester here.

We rent villas and apartments for most holidays in the UK and abroad, so have a fairly good routine established now.

As well as herbs, spices and other kitchen basics, the best things we always take are:

- Large collapsible freezer/cool bag: absolutely essential for picnics on the beach, at stately homes etc etc.
- 2-3 large freezer blocks (the blue sort) and 1-2 squidgy ones. Despite the weight in the suitcase, these are critical for the success of the freezer bag!
- 1 or 2 packets of supermarket sandwich bags: these are brilliant for everything, from actual food-related stuff to collecting shells, keeping loose crayons and playing cards in and so on.
- Really large, thin cotton throw, bit like a quadruple size sarong. Fantastic for sitting on; wrapping up wet children in; covering stuff with...generally a Really Useful Thing to have on holiday.

Moogdroog Mon 12-May-14 13:07:11

Utterly thrilled to be a tester - this head brightened up my summer no end grin

- Have you or anyone you know ever been on a HouseTrip holiday before, and if so where did they go?
No I don't know anyone that has used HouseTrip before - been telling everyone about it so maybe people will try it soon.

- What are you looking forward to most? What are your DC looking forward to?
I'm most looking forward to a change of scene, some quality time with the kids and a chance to explore. DS (5) can't really see past his barely containable excitement about going on a plane. DD (3) is looking forward to the zoo and seeing some dinosaurs in the museum

- How was the booking process?
Booking process was very easy. We could get a good feel for the apartments from the photos on the website, the write ups and the reviews. You have to check availability for the place you want to stay and our first choice wasn't available. Once we'd settled on one that was, the booking itself took no time at all. The owners have since been in touch with directions etc and to find out the ages of our DCs as they provide some age appropriate toys and DVDs- brilliant!

So far, so great. Can't wait till half term+

Moogdroog Mon 12-May-14 13:09:38

Forgot to say, we're off to Edinburgh grin

Hopezibah Mon 12-May-14 13:13:04

Non-tester: I love the idea of that concept as it is like a home from home - but likely to be lots nicer than home! Its great to stay in places where the kids can feel at home with enough space for them to play and enjoy -especially if the weather turns bad.

A lucky tester here grin

We are going to Brussels for three nights and are super excited! My partner and I are looking forward to museums, galleries and generally pottering. We are very good window shoppers and can wander happily for hours without buying anything! The apartment we have chosen looks very interesting and different to any villa or apartment we have stayed in before as it is also a mini art gallery which hosts guest exhibitions.

My daughter is 16 and is also interested in museums but generally is excited just to explore new places. She also speaks Dutch so feels comfortable that she can communicate in shops etc. My son is 12 and once he got over the initial disappointment that there are no skateparks near the apartment, grin he is excited to go on the plane, just to be on holiday and to eat chocolate, waffles and Belgian fries,

We have made an initial list of things we would like to do and see which include

The Royal Palace
Van Buuren Art Deco house, maze and garden
The Museum of Natural Sciences which holds Europe's largest dinosaur collection
Mary chocolatier which seems to hold tasting workshops as well as selling beautifully presented chocolates
Musee Royal des Beaux Arts which has works by Breugel, Van Dyck, Rembrandt and Reuben

There will also be lots of pottering, wandering around parks and gardens if the weather is good and eating! The apartment has a garden and a BBQ which the kids will enjoy.

As we are flying we won't take much in the way of household things but will make sure we have salt, pepper, loo roll and herbs and spices and a pack of cards. We've checked and there are lots of grocery shops including a Lidl close by.

We haven't been on a Housetrip holiday before but have done quite a few self catering holidays, mostly in France where you book direct with the owner. The booking process was pretty easy apart from a problem with the Housetrip website when I tried to book. On the booking page, when I entered our details and travel dates, the page kept jumping to another page which meant I had to fill in the details again. This happened about 10 times and we also had several messages saying the site was very busy and to try again later. Eventually we managed to reserve the apartment and the owner got in touch very quickly to confirm. The Housetrip team were fabulous and very helpful, organising the payment and flights very quickly. I would certainly look into booking another holiday with them in the future.

Finally, the apartment owner has been extremely helpful, sending us information about the best way to travel to the house from the airport, which trams and trains to get and a link to train timetables. We can't wait and are just hoping for good weather. Thanks so much to the Mumsnet team smile smile

madeleinefaye Mon 12-May-14 14:45:10

Read the guest book if there is one! There's usually something that might not be obvious that someone has mentioned in there that will help you.

Have a meal prepared for your first night, preferably something with no cooking required so you can relax.

Travel sized toiletries are almost always on offer at boots or at supermarkets, I put them in my handbag especially for longer trips so that they're easily accessible before we unpack everything.

mummy81 Mon 12-May-14 15:04:56

Non tester
I always take our high chair as places don't always provide.

RhinosAreFatUnicorns Mon 12-May-14 20:27:46

Non tester. We often book cottages in this country. I always take a box full of items such as kitchen roll, tin foil, sauces, matches, candles, dishwasher tablets, washing liquid, a couple of cloths, tea towels etc.

Where possible I book a grocery shop to arrive a couple of hours after we have arrived. I give a couple of hours so as to allow for traffic jams etc.

And as we always go dog-friendly, I always take plenty of towels, blankets etc. so as to keep the place clean.

I plan ahead as to where the nearest shop/takeaway/pub/chemist are.

Willemdefoeismine Mon 12-May-14 20:37:22

Lots of things...

If you're going as part of a big group do consider the sleeping options beforehand and try to allocate rooms accordingly.

Take a frozen meal with you for the first night and it will be nicely defrosted for cooking by the time you arrive.

Do your background research on what's on, where to visit, costs etc.. and work out at least some of your week's activities before you arrive - it's too easy to rely on lots of tourist info being available at your holiday home but not always the case. And you can waste days not really knowing what to do if you've not done your prep beforehand.

Check out decent take-away options, fish and chip shops, good pubs etc... in advance.....there's nothing worse than being in the dark and going to the wrong places....

Yes to doing an online shop to be delivered to your holiday home, particularly if you are in a big group. Nothing more tedious than spending every day at the supermarket..... And do work out a meal plan too..again it saves time and energy (you are on holiday after all!).

Take a few non-techy board games, a pack of cards and colouring books (even for the grown-ups) - therapeutic and more relaxing than technology.

A few books and ones that can be shared around....

Take the basics with you - matches, loo roll, washing up liquid, coffee/tea, carton milk, breakfast cereals and extra food for one meal just in case your food order delivery is delayed....

So much to pre-plan...

Keepcalmanddrinkwine Mon 12-May-14 20:54:19

Non-tester:
If you can, arrange for a box of basics to be waiting for you, either with the owners or online shopping. If you can't, make sure you take enough teabags, milk, squash and cereal to get you through the first morning.

Take a few familiar books, games, toys, puzzles for the children to help them settle.

Have wine.

Maiyakat Mon 12-May-14 21:31:54

For the sake of my stress levels I child-proof the house as quickly as possible! Having a house with a cot and highchair helps, as well as some toys and games. Also a fan of doing a supermarket delivery/click and collect.

GetKnitted Mon 12-May-14 22:02:50

My tip as a parent of small children, remember to take a dvd for your (and possibly dvd playing device) as there will be lots of evening time to relax once the kids are sleeping. A dvd for them will also speed up packing for the trip home!

NicNak71 Tue 13-May-14 00:53:32

Non tester . We have taken a few trips like this now and one of the things I always do is take our own pillows. Also a torch is essential as there are no guarantees that there will be one there, we've been caught out during a huge thunder storm when all the power went off. Creeping around in the dark in unfamiliar surroundings can be very painful!

DoctorGilbertson Tue 13-May-14 04:57:46

Non testers: HouseTrip would love to know your top tips on how to make the most of holidaying in an entire house, apartment or villa.

Parking. This is a really boring point, but I get quite stressed if I do not know where I will be able to park so I always check if the house has parking and where to park if not. Google street view is quite helpful. Period cottages in historic areas are not.

KateOxford Tue 13-May-14 10:17:03

NON TESTER I have a packing list for winter and summer holidays which I print off and then tick as I pack. I gather things up that we don't need to use as often about two weeks ahead and put them in a holdall. I take home made frozen meals for our baby in a cool bag with ice bags so that we can put them straight in the freezer when we get there. That way she has a meal ready for every day as my older child can eat more of what we eat ie chips! I pack each child's clothes in separate holdalls so it's easier to unpack and we unpack the same day we arrive so that it feels more like a home. We take their own cuddly toys but hire bedding and towels as it's less to pack and wash on return. I take enough nappies and pull ups for both children as I can take the right amount and don't have to go to shops and hunt down the right sizes, they're also more expensive in holiday. We love renting a house and take things like films to watch in the evenings. I don't pre order a supermarket shop as we always go to the same place and know the shops, I prefer to get bread and cheese etc from the independent shops - it's actually cheaper and much nicer. I take enough dishwasher tablets and washing tablets so that we don't end up buying big boxes of thigs like that and not having room to bring them home. I also take a loo roll and soap for when we arrive!

Tortoise Tue 13-May-14 11:40:44

I had a phone call from MN (exciting!) at the end of last week saying that one of the chosen couldn't make it and offering us the chance to go to London.

Have you or anyone you know ever been on a HouseTrip holiday before, and if so where did they go?

I'd not heard of Housetrip at all so it's all new to me.

What are you looking forward to most? What are your DC looking forward to?

Just looking forward to getting away from home and spending time with my 4 dc. This is my first trip to London as an adult! Scared but excited, doing lots of research into trains because I dont drive.
DC are looking forward to their first trip to London and a trip to science museum and natural history museum.

How was the booking process?
Housetrip website is easy to use and there's lots of info about each property as well as photos and reviews.
A very helpful chap from housetrip is in the process of sorting all the booking and has been quick to answer any queries.
Thank you MN and Housetrip.

Roseformeplease Tue 13-May-14 11:56:55

We self-cater all the time (we can't usually afford hotels and prefer the extra space of a sitting room, kitchen and 2 bedrooms). We have fairly bitter memories of a tiny hotel room overseas with a toddler and going to bed at 7pm and being quiet every night where just the addition of a sitting room would have meant a lovely holiday. So, we self-cater.

We don't have the joys of internet shopping where we live, so love the chance to do a big internet shop, meal planning for the week we are away. My advice is always to do this because it saves a huge amount of time faffing around in unfamiliar supermarkets and means you can focus on your holiday. This also means that we have something ready to eat on the first night. We use a range of agencies to book and have never heard of House Trip before. We rent out our own properties so might look at them as owners, if the Mumsnet jury (so jealous) are positive about the experience.

The other tip is to get a property that is as good, if not better, than your home. We have a dishwasher, so will not go somewhere without one. We need WiFi to run our business while away and also for our teens. We try to ensure that we have 2 bathrooms (DH and 2 teens - I am the quick one!) and so on. We will compromise if price becomes an issue but we don't usually have to.

Making a note of the frozen lasagne tip!

Like everyone else, I think forward planning is the key, whether in terms of groceries, or checking out local shops and places to go.

Letitsnow9 Tue 13-May-14 14:06:22

Taking small amounts of things needed but don't stress about it, if you forget something you can easily buy it when your there. Do some googling of the area and take activities to do inside if it rains

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