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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!

AngelieMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 24-Jun-14 12:44:58

Thanks for all your comments!

The non-tester winner is spababe - congratulations smile I'll PM you shortly for your details.

florencebabyjo Fri 13-Jun-14 08:45:35

An activity pack for each child is essential and stops squabbles. Include paper, pens or crayons and a few small toys. I sometimes add a small new thing or a new pack of pens but often root round in their toy boxes to find things they haven't played with for ages is good too. Pound shops are great for little treats that don't cost much. These are also good for family packs of crispa and biscuits that are useful for chucking in with a picnic for day trips. Huge supplies of baby wipes are also essential as are dvd's for tired children at the end of a day when you're making dinner. Don't forget their teddies/ cuddle blankets too!

georgebear103 Wed 11-Jun-14 17:13:50

Take earplugs in case of noisy traffic, neighbours or birds!

RubyFlint Fri 06-Jun-14 22:25:27

I usually try to travel light on clothes. There will be a washing machine if it's a house/villa so no need to take tons of clothes with you!

I agree take basics from home like oil, sauce, coffee, tea, a couple of loo rolls, washing up liquid, a few dishwasher tabs and a simple meal for the first night if you're arriving late.

Have a good look around the property to see what's available. We stayed for a week in a beautiful villa in Spain and on the last day we discovered the garage key was left out for us to use the childrens outdoor toys, paddling pool, BBQ tools, windbreaks etc. all of which would have been very useful!

bigbella26 Thu 05-Jun-14 13:29:56

Always take a corkscrew just in case. I've had the first night ruined by not being able to get at the wine!

Lastly, a few more photos of 'out and about' in Brussels!

We are back! Sorry it's taken so long to feed back our comments. I had visitors from when we got back until yesterday! Anyway here are our comments and a few more photos of our time in Brussels with Housetrip.

Kitchen facilities

Very good, everything we could need although the microwave oven was the slowest known to mankind! Gas hob, no oven unless it was a combi microwave but this wasn't a problem.

Bedrooms/Sleeping arrangements

Two very good sized bedrooms both with double beds. The kids wouldn't sleep together so two singles would have been better. DS slept on a sofa bed in the sitting room rather than share with his sister.

Local area

Very interesting and diverse. If you walked in one direction, the area was quite run down and poor yet in the opposite direction, there were the most lovely, enormous art Noveau houses. The architecture was very interesting and as we said already, good transport links into Central Brussels. It was approx 25 to 30 mins from the house to the centre including a walk at the other end.

How were the checking in and out experiences?

Very easy. The owner lived in an apartment at the top of the house and was there on arrival and departure. He mailed his mobile number in advance so we could let him know when we would arrive.

Would you return/ try out another HouseTrip holiday?

Yes, it was much cheaper than a hotel if you need more than one room.

Would you recommend HouseTripping to a friend?

Yes

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?

Much cheaper for a family with older kids where you need two bedrooms. Also more convenient as there is more freedom than in a hotel. If it were just me and my partner, I would possibly go for a central hotel but this is a good option for families. Also, we were on a bit of a budget so the possibility to cook/ prepare sandwiches rather than eat out was ideal.

There was more than enough space and had the weather been better, the private garden and BBQ would have been lovely

Any other comments?

Do take a decent guide guide book. We used ours a lot as all the literature in the house was in French or Flemish.

We arrived at about 9 on the Monday evening when most of the local shops were closed which was fine with older kids as we wandered and found a 'night shop' but it wouldn't be ideal with tired babies or toddlers. Maybe we should have quizzed the owner a bit more before we went.

We found that most museums and attractions charged a fee so we had to rethink our plans once we got there. This wasn't a problem though and meant we ended up doing stuff we hadn't thought of.

Thanks again Mumsnet for picking us. We had a great time smile

MontysMum22 Tue 03-Jun-14 23:50:55

My tip is before you go especially if in the UK is to find out online as many places you can take the children if its wet weather and look for discount offers and codes at various parks and attractions you might visit. If you have a whole house its not as confining as a caravan so make sure what modern tech you can take with you to entertain the kids. It may well be possible to take their favourite DVDs or the games console to satisfy an older child or the laptop, if they have broadband where your staying. I have been on holiday in cottages/houses many times and have stayed in one place now three times. Its main attraction was the indoor heated pool it turned what would have been two weeks in Norfolk in torrential rain in May into a holiday destination everybody who went, two sets of Grandparents, two older children, one younger child and both parents wanted to go back to. It was well worth the extra cost and actually the two follow up visits we combined with attending a family wedding and actually had two weeks holiday for much less than it would have cost us for us all to stay in a hotel for just a couple of nights.

BlackeyedSusan Tue 03-Jun-14 22:59:38

tips.

pack your own kitchen knife, tin opener, scissors and potato peeler. label with name.

take my own teatowels, kitchen roll dish cloth, washing up gloves, soap, handtowels, anti bac spray. i used to be a chambermaid in a hotel. I do not trust anyone to clean well in the time you are allocated.

pack enough food to last until you get to the supermarket. freeze milk before travelling and use as a cold pack. in cool bag. (breakfast cereals/dried fruit/bread/jam/butter/coffee tea for the firstnight)

take ready measured bags of washing powder for the machine.

take an extra loo roll.

a roll of sandwich bags and bin bags come in useful for all sorts of things.

I take microfibre towels bought in home bargains and a couple of tesco value towels as they have a large area but are very thin and do not take up much room in the case. holiday towels and teatowels live in the suitcase all year. they are washed and returned there ready for next year.

this year I forgot the herbs but did remember the salt and pepper.

Ruby6918 Tue 03-Jun-14 22:25:39

i prefer to bring my own tea towels and pillows if im driving therea and can fit them in the car,i also bring black out linings so many properties just have blinds and the sun can put your head awy or make sure u enquire about window coverings for heat and noise etc before u go, find out things to do in the area before your visit and talk them through with everyone going so you know options for good and bad weather, check out where the nearest doctor/chemist is just in case, then just go and love it big time!

museumworker Tue 03-Jun-14 21:16:38

Non-tester here. As well as food basics, favourite toys and blankets, we take earplugs as normally have to have the youngest in with us! And a monitor so we can sit outside if the weather is nice but still know we can hear him.

scotchtikidoll Tue 03-Jun-14 19:50:31

This is probably quite an odd one, but I've been known to bring my own cleaning products- when you're abroad it is hard to know which washing up liquid is anti-bacterial or which washing tablets are non-bio. The brands I trust are also not always available when away!

thesoupdragon44 Tue 03-Jun-14 19:02:27

When I go away, I always pack enough easy meals for the first 2 nights. If you have them frozen they act as coolers for the rest of your food. Then you don't have to panic finding food on the day you arrive. You can all have a good look around, find your feet ready for your holiday.

hareinthemoon Tue 03-Jun-14 18:27:17

Non-tester - I always like to get a little diary/book for the (older) DCs to fill in with their experiences.
Sometimes it works smile

Tortoise Sun 01-Jun-14 20:49:11

Also where do I send the hideous videos of myself talking about the experience and some photos of the property etc ?

Tortoise Sun 01-Jun-14 20:46:18

- Accommodation as a whole
The accommodation was lovely. 3rd floor 2 bed apartment. All the flights of stairs were the only downside!
- Kitchen facilities
Cooker, dishwasher, microwave etc all equipment needed. Couldn't find washing up liquid or tea towel on the last day which made clearing up breakfast bowls a bit tricky!
- Bedrooms/Sleeping arrangements
2 bedroom, each with a double bed, sofa bed in lounge. 2 singles in one of the room would have been better. I had to share with 11 and 9 yr old DDs! Teenage boys wouldn't share a bed!
- Local area
There were plenty of shops nearby Inc small Tesco and Sainsbury. Train station within 5 min walk and bus stops.
I did read online about a drive by shooting on the road near us, when we were already there which happened in March. It would have put me off had I see it before.
- How were the checking in and out experiences?
Check in was very easy. We arranged time to arrive and were met there by a host. She was lovely and apologised that she hadn't quite finished bed making.
Check out was easy too. We just had to lock up and put keys in the downstairs mail box for that apartment.
- Would you return/ try out another HouseTrip holiday?
I'd try another housetrip but although we enjoyed London I wouldn't want to go again too soon. It's too busy for me! I'm a country girl lol.
- Would you recommend HouseTripping to a friend?
Absolutely! It was a brilliant experience and worked really well. Much nicer than a caravan that We'd normally stay at a holiday park.
- What did you think about the value for money – especially compared to other family holidays?
I can't remember exact price, think it was just under £500 for 3 nights. It's quite expensive but also being London I expected it to be. Only thing that put me off was the £350 security deposit. That's a lot of extra money to find before a holiday.
What did you think about the amount of space you get for the cost?
Very good. We had plenty of space.
- Any other comments?
A big highlight for DDs was the pigeon nest on the balcony with chicks in. We think they were around 2 days old when we arrived. Baby pigeons are really ugly lol!

ChocolateMama Sun 01-Jun-14 17:57:54

Top tip to make life easier is to get a grocery delivery for the day you arrive. Also, take plenty of board games/books/DVSs etc to keep everyone entertained if the weather is not so great outside. I also think it is often nice when staying in a lovely house to enjoy hanging out in the property and not feel that we need to be 'doing' something outside the house all the time.

Moogdroog Fri 30-May-14 21:46:28

*When you are back

Overall opinions from you and others in the family:

How would you rate/ describe...

- Accommodation as a whole*

The apartment was fantastic. Very clean, very comfortable and homely. Plenty of space for us all. Apartment was on a quiet road but just minutes from the main road with lots of shops and amenities. Plus a playground 2 minutes away.

- Kitchen facilities
Again, very good. Induction hob, fan oven (identical to the one at home), dishwasher, washing machine, freezer, plenty of crockery, utensils etc and a decent size table to eat at.

- Bedrooms/Sleeping arrangements
2 good size bedrooms (a double and twin), exceptionally comfortable beds, with lovely White Company linen. Loads of clothes storage in beautiful deco wardrobes. Very cosy. Only 1 possible improvement would be cot sides for the beds - our DCs fell out - but I wouldn't expect it to be honest.

- Local area
Very nice, quiet and friendly area. About 15 mins into town on the frequent buses. A Waitrose and Simply Food very close, plus loads of smart shops.
Edinburgh is beautiful - amazing! So much to see.

- How were the checking in and out experiences?
Really easy. We were met at the apartment, welcomed and shown around. Our hosts let us use the apartment for the final day as our flight wasn't till late and we just left the keys. Great.

- Would you return/ try out another HouseTrip holiday?
Absolutely! I've been very impressed. Especially good for city breaks.

- Would you recommend HouseTripping to a friend?
Yes, and already have done.

- 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?
Very good value I think for the space you get. I'm sure you could stay in a family room in a hotel for slightly cheaper, but that's hard work with small kids.

- Any other comments?
Nothing other than to say thank you so much. We had a great time in Edinburgh and felt very at home in our HouseTrip apartment.

Moogdroog Fri 30-May-14 09:57:42

A few pics of our apartment

JS06 Thu 29-May-14 15:10:50

Non-tester - we tend to make great use of the books and magazines or dvdd left for us on holiday. It gives the kids another distraction and it's interesting to see what's in other accommodation in comparison to our own.

I love having the opportunity to be in new surroundings and enjoy the 'less is more' feeling of having less to clean and being able to keep the place tidy very quickly.

unadulterateddad Thu 29-May-14 10:30:44

non-tester, Always make sure i have a box of essentials easily accessible for when you first arrive, so that you've got food to have something to eat/drink etc without having to unpack straight away. the chance for a quick relax as soon as you arrive is priceless.

sassolino Thu 29-May-14 10:09:47

Non-tester: We book a cottage in Cornwall for a week every summer in the past few years. It is well equipped, and there are some essentials like salt, sugar, basic tea bags and instant coffee. I do a grocery order in advance to be delivered a couple of days after we arrive, we also bring enough food with us to last the first two days, as the cottage is in a tiny village without shops.
We also leave a treat like ice lollies in the freezer for the next holiday-makers.
We take some books and favourite toys with us, two ipads with games for the rainy weather.
Looking forward to our week in the cottage this summer.

- How is it so far? What's the weather like?

Weather drizzly and overcast for the first two days but today, our last day, it looks a little brighter

- Describe your accommodation e.g. the amount of space, outdoor area, particular parts of the house etc.

Two large bedrooms, an open plan lounge/kitchen diner. There is a pretty garden downstairs accessed by a spiral staircase from the kitchen or one of the bedrooms. The house is a topsy turvy design with the bedrooms and bathrooms downstairs. The bathroom is large with a great shower.

- What else are you doing outside of the HouseTrip stay, in the local area?

Visiting museums, pottering around the local area, window shopping, went to the Museum of Cocoa and Chocolate yesterday and planning a visit to an Art Deco house this afternoon.

- How does this compare to previous hotel holidays or previous home rental holidays you've experienced?

We think the accommodation is very well equipped and close to the tram and supermarket. At a more rural location, a car is usually essential but here, everything can be accessed easily by public transport. We have found the trams a little expensive and were slightly disappointed to discover that unlike in Britain where most museums and galleries are free, almost everything here (except the churches!) incurs a fee of approximately €10 per person. This could make the holiday a little expensive.

- What have you got up to at your HouseTrip property?

As above. We spent the evenings at home, cooking, playing cards, watching some tv.

- 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?

We ate out a couple of times at lunchtime but have cooked every evening. We shopped at the local supermarket, Lidl, and some ingredients were kindly provided by the owner eg olive oil, salt, pepper, some herbs. There was also a welcome pack of a lovely Belgian beer in the fridge.

- What have your DC enjoyed most about the HouseTrip experience? And what have you/your DH/DP enjoyed the most.

The kids liked the house, especially the WiFi (teenagers!), the chocolate museum and the waffles. We enjoyed the architecture in the centre, the Musee des Beaux Arts, the main square and we are looking forward to the van Burrell museum. The beer is good!! Just being somewhere different for a few days is a special treat. smile

About to take a quick video of the house and garden before we go for a walk and take advantage of the dry weather.

Tortoise Wed 28-May-14 22:01:11

Couple of pics from natural history museum.

Tortoise Wed 28-May-14 21:51:43

On holiday
- How is it so far? What's the weather like?
Tomorrow is our last day, check out tomorrow morning. We've had a really good time despite pretty rubbish weather. luckily most things dc wanted were indoors.

- Describe your accommodation e.g. the amount of space, outdoor area, particular parts of the house etc.
We are in a 2 bedroom 3rd floor apartment. It's very nice and cost. There are 2 double beds ( 2 singles in one room would have been better) and a soft bed in lounge.
With 2 teen boys there was no way they would share a double so DS1 had one double, DS2 had sofa bed and I shared the other double with DD1 and DD2! Not ideal but ok.
Small park 2 mins away but been too wet for that.
Lots of shops 5 mins walk away Inc small Tesco and Sainsburys.
Close to train stations. We used buses and trains which did get expensive. We are in islington so not really close to main places like museums.

- What else are you doing outside of the HouseTrip stay, in the local area?
We've been in Hyde park and DCs paddled feet in the Diana memorial fountain.
Tuesday we did the circular Thames boat tour which despite a fair bit of rain we spent most of it above deck seeing the sights.
Then we got the underground to science museum. 1st time ever on the tube which was really scary and a bit confusing!
Had a few hours there then got train and bus back.
Today we've spent all day at the science museum. Met up with my auntie and he dp and they live in London. Not seen her for around 2 yrs. DC not seen them for around 8 years! So that was nice.

- How does this compare to previous hotel holidays or previous home rental holidays you've experienced?
Never braved hotels with DC or tried home rentals. We always do holiday parks so dc have evening entertainment.

- What have you got up to at your HouseTrip property?

We haven't been here much besides sleeping and evenings. Mainly relaxed watching tv and we played monopoly which was provided in the property. It took 2 evenings to finish with DD2 age 9 thrashing us all!

- 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?
We only cooked one night and that was only pies and micro chips (not tried before!) because we were all tired out from days activities. We had pizza delivered the first night (never had delivery before because none local at home) which was nice. Then burger king today so just sandwiches or soup for tea.

- What have your DC enjoyed most about the HouseTrip experience? And what have you/your DH/DP enjoyed most?
DC enjoyed experiencing London for the first time and going to the museums. They didn't enjoy so much walking, well teenagers mainly! They aren't used to exercise lol.
I've enjoyed London as an adult (not been since secondary school ) and I really liked the Diana memorial fountain in Hyde park.

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