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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!

StillNoFuckingEyeDeer Sat 10-May-14 06:28:04

I've always found it useful to take a small supply of kitchen essentials - pepper, herbs, oil, one or two stock cubes etc. Things that you'd only use a small amount of over a week/two weeks, so wouldn't want to buy a whole jar/bottle/packet of, but which will make a big difference to your cooking.

I always pop in the postcode , find the supermarket that will deliver there and then place an order at home to arrive at the holiday home soon after we do. If it's not the supermarket I use at home I usually find a money off first home delivery coupon too. It's great to get there knowing that all essentials wine wine and cake will be delivered without having to make a trip to a supermarket on the first day.

boptanana Sat 10-May-14 15:41:26

I agree taking a pack of basics for cooking is so handy as well as some basic toys and kit for the kids if not provided. Getting a grocery delivery saves room in the car and takes the pressure off finding somewhere to eat on the first evening.

MakkaPakkasSponge Sat 10-May-14 15:52:51

Our family is doing its first villa holiday soon, so I'll be watching this thread for tips. The one thing I'm definitely taking is our blackout blind as DS is a poor sleeper unless its really dark.

flamingtoaster Sat 10-May-14 15:59:57

We always take quite a lot of food with us on holiday due to family allergies - and ahead of time I check out which supermarkets etc. stock things we might need to top up on. It really helps to take the ingredients for an easily cooked first meal (or even a pre-cooked casserole to reheat if not travelling too far). When the children were tiny I always took some of our usual washing powder with us, and bedding washed as normal at home - that way everything in the cot/buggy would always smell the same and ensured they would settle easily.

We always take a supply of herbs, salt pepper, vinegar, mayo and ketchup, oil, butter, loo roll, kitchen roll and anti bac spray! Great to be able to use little bits of stuff but also to spray everywhere before you start.

We find the nearest supermarket and get an online delivery and get it delivered asap. We but tons of bbq stuff so that the option is always there if we want it rather than having to rush off to stock up again. We also do a meal plan like we would at home and plan meals that readily come in jars/packets to take the pressure off. Pizzas, chilli cook in sauce, fajhita kits, curries etc. it means we keep the costs down for meals but maximises our time.

I quickly learned that a washing machine and a dishwasher is a godsend. You'll get tutted at for "doing washing when we're meant to be in holiday!" but I find it far easier to wash stuff a little bit each day, when i'm away and pack it all back up than to come back with a laundry mountain.

boptanana Sat 10-May-14 16:12:28

I agree taking a pack of basics for cooking is so handy as well as some basic toys and kit for the kids if not provided. Getting a grocery delivery saves room in the car and takes the pressure off finding somewhere to eat on the first evening.

starfishmummy Sat 10-May-14 17:23:21

We always make sure that we pick a cottage where bed linen and towels are provided. Sometimes we have to pay a bit extra (favourite cottage charges for towel hire) but it saves room in the car!

Alwas have a loo roll.or two handy in the car. As well as being useful on the journey we have sometimes arrived at cottages to find the "loo roll provided in each bathroom" that the owner mentions is just a few squares left by the previous occupants.

FrontForward Sat 10-May-14 18:39:56

Meal plan and supermarket delivery (don't think I'd fancy a cottage if there wasn't supermarket delivery available) The last thing you want is a shop on your first night. I usually make a lasagne in advance, freeze and take that defrosting on the journey.

Board games and good books -always been supplied but still good to be prepared with favourites

Check out local attractions/walks. Take dog towels and bed. It's essential to take my dog for me

NK5BM3 Sat 10-May-14 18:48:54

Wow!! I can't believe I'm one of the 5! grin Many thanks mumsnet and housetrip for organising this.

We go in two weeks - in terms of using this, no I've never used it before but going on the website it looked very user friendly. And indeed when we were enquiring about which properties were available, it was really quite straightforward. Put in the dates that you wish to be there, and press send. The owner will get back to you (some were quicker than others) and then you book it.

There were also reviews (like trip advisor) so you can tell if what the property says it is, really is it or not.

We are looking forward to doing stuff in London that we never have the time to do because we always have to catch the train home... Like going to the aquarium, Greenwich, various museums, eating lots of dimsum and other foods that we can't get in our local city!

Can't wait. The kids are very excited.

CheeseEMouse Sat 10-May-14 19:37:51

We take a picnic rug with us - this is handy for when outbut also makes a good substitute play mat for the baby whilst we are away.

addictedtosugar Sat 10-May-14 20:16:48

when you find a mini bottle of kitchen cleaner, washing up liquid etc (bounty packs were good), don't test them, save them and take on holiday rather than the standard bottles.
Baby wipes clean most things!

cate16 Sat 10-May-14 20:43:57

We always take the 'arrival day' evening meal with us - ready prepared in disposable foil containers - something simple that just needs sticking in the oven. Online shop booked for that evening too, that way no waiting in next morning and hopefully all breakfast goodies ready to eat.

ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS, take at least one toilet roll! smile

MadMonkeys Sat 10-May-14 20:55:35

I think the most important thing is like with any holiday - really research the property and area before booking so you get what you really want.

CointreauVersial Sat 10-May-14 21:54:04

If you are staying in the UK, book a Tesco delivery of essential groceries for the evening you arrive - they will deliver to any address, even if you don't live there. It makes the arrival so much easier.

And unpack everything straight away. Living out if the suitcase is miserable.

CointreauVersial Sat 10-May-14 21:56:32

Find out beforehand if you need to bring towels/sheets/beachtowels etc . It's a pain if you have to buy them when you get there, and an equal pain if you've brought yours from home and don't actually need them. angry

johnworf Sat 10-May-14 22:08:53

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

Don't know anyone who has booked with HouseTrip or indeed taken a holiday of this type.

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

I'm looking forward to spending some time with the family away from the humdrum of normal routine and yes, work. The children are just looking forward to going to London and going on a train journey; neither of which they've done before! DH can't wait to hit the science museum grin

How was the booking process?

Through the website was easy peasy. Very straight forward. Easy to view the properties available to us, see reviews and shots of the interior of the property.

The person who did all the booking for us was brilliant and really helpful.

smile

Cherryjellybean Sat 10-May-14 22:30:10

We always try and bring food for the first day ready or arrive in time to do a food shop before the next meal time.
If there's no wifi in the property, we try and find maps of places like supermarkets before we get there.
We try bring oil, salt and a few other basics with us.

ScrambledEggAndToast Sun 11-May-14 09:14:05

Make sure to ask the owners where the best local restaurants/attractions are. Tourist guides will tell you certain things but someone with "local knowledge" may be able to tell you about a little gem off the beaten track which you may never have found otherwise. Visit the local shops rather than the high street stores. Not only will you get to chat to more people, you will get to chat to people. Before you go, find out what things are available in the property e.g hairdryers, towels. It will save you cluttering up the car unnecessarily. If you are particularly fussy about certain items such as tea bags, take them with you in case you can't get them, especially if travelling abroad.

ScrambledEggAndToast Sun 11-May-14 09:15:19

*not only will you get to chat to more people! you will get to sample local produce.

That should read!!

HALA Sun 11-May-14 09:31:58

I always take some things like favourite family games, beach towels, and a supply of cereals, snacks and basic food items as there may not be a supermarket nearby. We also always make sure wether we are provided with towels and sheets or have to take some from home.

lottiegarbanzo Sun 11-May-14 15:26:23

When you do your online supermarket delivery, include at least two contact numbers for phones you will have with you - mobiles with different companies if you have them and the house landline if there is one.

Some cottages and apartments are difficult to find or identify and you don't want to replicate our experience of your 7-9pm order for the evening you arrive, including everything for that night's 'quick' dinner, arriving near ten, because the driver couldn't see the apartment name when he came at eight, then couldn't reach you because you didn't have your usual mobile with you, or, quite likely in lots of rural areas, there was no signal.

LocalEditorNottingham Sun 11-May-14 15:32:39

Well here's an obvious one, if you're holidaying in the UK - or is it?

Look at the Mumsnet Local site for the area you're going to. As well as visitor attractions it will list events, activities, festival and fairs etc so you can see what will be going on when you're there.

If there isn't as much info as you'd like, or you want to know about a specific area or activity, start a talk thread on local. The local editor and other local Mumsnetters may well be able to help with their inside knowledge.

Non - tester but I think you definitely need to be prepared. Do plenty of googling on the local area, check out transport links, where the supermarket is so that you can stock up on the way rather than have groceries in the car for however many hours or lugging them on the train.

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

sharond101 Tue 13-May-14 14:14:55

Put things away when finished with them.

Wipe things down with antibacterial wipes to save a big clean.

Plan easy meals with little effort and low volume washing up.

Book somewhere with a garden.

thesoupdragon44 Tue 13-May-14 14:18:39

I like to have a holiday home away from home, I think that my top tip will be to tidy up as you go, so that you don't have to spend your last day cleaning.

Bingbongbinglybunglyboo Tue 13-May-14 14:42:07

Non tester

Take everything for your childrens night time rituals. ( eg gro clock, music box black out blind etc) bed times are hard enough in a new place!

NettleTea Tue 13-May-14 15:51:23

non tester - this sounds like a luxury for me. We work out who might have to share rooms, ensure that we have checked out the local area for supermarkets and petrol stations, and wwhat is on in a low key manner to keep us amused while we settle in

lentilpot Tue 13-May-14 16:05:28

I have a little bag of stuff ready to take camping or self-catering with all the basics like salt, pepper, cooking oil, a tea towel, so that we always have those little things it's easy to forget in the supermarket.

mammamic Tue 13-May-14 17:25:43

NON TESTER

I want our time to be as relaxed as possible.

BEFORE WE GO:
- Lots of research into the area, things to see and do, bad weather plans
- We ask our daughter (10yr old, and have always done this), to think of things she'd like to do if we have rainy days - we let her take a backpack with her things for rainy days.
- We each get to choose one thing we'd like to do based on our research so that everyone is involved in the planning and I don't end up having to second guess how to make it the best possile break for everyone!

TAKE WITH US/WHEN WE'RE THERE:
- We take the meal for the first day of arrival - something that can be warmed in oven/microwave
- We take a hearty breakfast (full English, croissants etc) for morning so we can have a late brunch and do some basic planning for our time away

AndHarry Tue 13-May-14 21:11:18

Non-tester.

Do your research and find a house with a garden that's appropriate for your children so you can relax in the evenings and eat outside while they run off and play. A relaxing evening meal with less formality than at home is a great way to end the day on holiday before you put the kids to bed.

kateandme Wed 14-May-14 03:57:41

a first meal we find helpful.when you get to where your ataying you either just want to flop or dont know your bearings yet.so having packed a first meal even if its just a bag of pasta and jar of sauce is useful.
before you go i think genereal knowledge of the area is a good idea.i couldnt ever think of going somehwrre i hadnt looked up on the internet first!!having a little plan of ideas of whats around.where are the nearest shops.or at least somewhere to get a few supplys.we always take tea bags.
a towel and loo roll too.
if your going somewhere you dont know of those travel books a good for tips.
pack of cards and pictionary.
paper and pens.
ask friends who know the place.or ask the owner of local interests,shops,restuaratns.
batteries.
a book.

Bubbles85 Wed 14-May-14 06:54:10

We always take enough to be self sufficient so we don't have to break up our holiday to go shopping.

ataraxia Wed 14-May-14 06:58:02

Surprised the amount of people that would want groceries delivered - I like to take the basics for first night then get to know the area (and new and different local products) by shopping the next day

Agree with taking small quantities of things you wouldn't want to buy new packets of, such as tin foil, cling film , tupperware, seasoning - actually, it would be great if you knew from the property listing that these things were provided!

Allthequeenshorses Wed 14-May-14 11:31:40

Non tester
By the time we get to holiday, I am usually on my knees and more often than not, being collected from office and heading straight there. So I bring out the "holiday box" really a large crate, about 6 weeks before we go. It sits in the spare room to begin with and I start getting a few extra treats in the weekly shop which get added in. I also put things like DVD's which have not yet been watched or games. Nearer the time I move it to the Dining room and add stuff as it pops into my head. Like others have said, small amounts of seasoning, dishwasher tablets, washing powder.
By the time I actually get round to packing, most of it has been done bit by bit. I'm awful for things popping into my head and if I don't write it down or do it then I forget clean about it. The holiday box has become abit of a family institution, but means none of the important things get forgotten.

telsa Wed 14-May-14 11:53:16

Non tester

Do your research - find out where the nearest amenities are, when the rubbish is collected, what bus routes are nearby. if you are lucky, the resident will have put all this in a manual. if not use the web.

Take a pint of milk and some bread with you....just in case.
Take photos of the place of things in the house when you arrive, so you have a crib for putting things right at the end.

Petal7 Wed 14-May-14 14:02:06

Agree with supermarket delivery. Also worth adding bulky items to it like wine and nappies to save room in car (i have 3 in nappy pants at night!) but do take some of both in case of substitutions!
I often take a portable stair gate and always take a "rainy day" box - crayons, paper, stickers etc.
And i often take my cafetiere, just in case! I need good coffee wherever i am.
Night light always comes too.

tinypumpkin Wed 14-May-14 22:20:04

Another one who says supermarket delivery here too. Definitely familiar bedtime stuff for children. A corkscrew for adults (just in case!)

SagaNorensLeatherTrousers Thu 15-May-14 02:41:48

Bring toilet roll! Often it's not stocked and if you have little ones in a long journey usually they need the toilet ASAP.

I've been known to take a few photos of the property upon arrival to have proof we have left it in the same state when leaving. <<paranoid>>

CheeryCherry Thu 15-May-14 17:13:00

I plan the meals ahead of the holiday, including a take away night, and do an online delivery to be delivered a couple of hours after we check in.
I often cook a chilli in advance, freeze it, and bring it with us with garlic bread so it makes a hassle free evening meal.
I always do a Google search of the area so we have a few options for visits or trips out. I may even book tickets in advance if it works out cheaper.
Get the children to each pack their own bag of favourite things including books, puzzle books, magazines, chargers!!
I always pack a few candles, boxes of tissues and extra loo roll just in case!

madeofkent Thu 15-May-14 18:16:29

Don't skimp on space, no matter how much cheaper it is. Book somewhere with an extra bed if necessary, even if you only use it to dump empty suitcases on. In the UK and northern Europe you really cannot guarantee good weather, and it's awful to have a rainy cold day when no-one wants to go out because they are tired, and there isn't enough room for the kids to spread their Lego all over the floor and nowhere to put wellies and raincoats to dry. And if someone falls ill, a cramped space is doubly miserable.

Ovengloves. What is it with holiday cottages. Even the NT forgets oven gloves. Or they provide just one small potholder. Not all of us live on ready meals.

A dressing table with proper lighting. Of three houses I stayed in last year, only one had a decently-lit dressing table. The same went for the four hotels I stayed on over the past year as well. Sticking it vaguely near a window is not enough, IT GETS DARK.

hunhun007 Thu 15-May-14 19:25:40

Non tester:
Be sure to check what is and what is NOT included in your villa / apartment, so there is no surprises once you arrive.
and then...
Make it feel like home. Bring your own pillow or maybe a small picture frame or a teddy... something which will make it more familiar.
It is different if you stay in the hotel, as it is a hotel and it looks like one, but if you are in a villa and have the whole house all to yourself, the young one might get a bit "out of place"
Other than this just enjoy yourself and take one day at the time!

Get a Kuhn Rikon knife with a cover to take with you, they are really sharp and stay sharp so you don't have to curse the blunt holiday-cottage knife all the time, and they are also brilliant for taking on picnics to cut the bread/cheese/whatever but without the risk of cutting yourself when you get it out of the bag.

nerysw Thu 15-May-14 21:24:21

Non-tester
I've done thorough research into days out before now when we go away and see what I can spend my Tesco Clubcard vouchers on days out-wise. We take some basics so we won't starve if we can't find a shop straight away and a couple of favourite toys and things to do (sticker books etc).

Wjjkl Thu 15-May-14 22:58:10

We always take emergency snacks with us so we always have something to eat if everything is closed or difficult to get to.

deels Fri 16-May-14 09:20:38

non tester-

picnic essentials re a must, plenty of research beforehand. pick out the local beauty spots. take with you food essentials. this would be, cucumbers and ketchup for my household. lol. and most of all just relax!

DifferentNow Sat 17-May-14 12:58:15

Non tester

We always take a basic food pack to cover breakfast items, drinks and snacks and to include loo and kitchen rolls, bin bags, washing up liquid, sponge etc. We make sure we take a backpack type bag for day trips out and water bottles.

The kids will all get a pack of stuff to keep them entertained too as they miss their toys and there's not often much for them to do when indoors. This might include a comic or sticker book and something like play doh - cheap, new and disposable.

asuwere Sun 18-May-14 17:47:17

Non-tester. Either book an online shop to be delivered when you arrive or if there is a click and collect nearby, arrange that and then you don't need to be at the property for a specific time! Remember household stuff such as toilet rolls, bin bags etc. If you have a young toddler, also useful to remember a sippy type cup/sports bottle so you don't risk having juice spilt.

johnworf Sun 18-May-14 20:27:51

Tester

On holiday

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

Having a fantastic time! We're in London and the weather couldn't be better smile

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

We're in a 2 bedroom apartment. Spacious enough for 4 of us. Tbh we use it as a base as we are out most of the time. Very modern and well kitted out. Beds comfortable; one double and one twin. Kitchen well equipped. Balconies for outside space.

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

What haven't we done?! We did a rough itinerary before we left home of places we'd like to see and bought a flexi ticket for the Thames cruises. Local tube was walkable in 10 minutes and from here we saw the Science Museum, Nat History Museum, a sightseeing cruise of the Thames up to Greenwich where we enjoyed the Cutty Sark, Royal Observatory and the Maritime Museum.

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

We normally go to Centre Parcs so it's about as different as you can possibly get! Loads of places to see, eat and explore. Many of the museums are free to get in.

What have you got up to at your HouseTrip property?

The first night we flopped after our journey. Next day we all had breakfast, watched tv and after we returned home we ordered a takeaway. Today we've all had showers/baths and lolled before we went out exploring and then for a lovely lunch.

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?

Yes, we used the kitchen to make dinner for the children last night whilst we had a takeaway. We brought most of the ingredients with us but there were plenty of local shops to buy basic such as bread and milk. We have had breakfast everyday in the property.

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

The children have so far enjoyed "everything!" DH loves it as a central base for exploring. Also everything is very close to hand e.g. shops, takeaways. Although we are central we are slightly off the beaten track and so we had no noise to disturb.

NK5BM3 Sun 18-May-14 21:41:30

Oh can't wait!! We are heading to London too, next Friday! Your plans sound v similar to ours too! Let's hope the weather holds up. Will report whilst there next week.

johnworf Sun 18-May-14 21:46:56

NK5BM3 have a super time!!

YeGodsAndLittleFishes Sun 18-May-14 22:09:36

Take children's interests into account when booking as well as your own (amd DH's/DP's) and involved teenagers in helping to narrow down the options so everyone knows what to expect (and what to think about when helping to book next time!)

As well as a first aid kit, pack a few extras such as plasters, sun cream and after sun, piriton, age appropriate pain relief and of course any medicines anyone needs. It's useful to have a zip up wash bag ready with space left for family meds, with a travel padlock. Don't pack it until the meds are in there, then you know you have them.

Encourage children to pack their own bag from an early age so that by thebtime they are teens they are doing it themselves.

Have any essential documents, phone numbers, directions and maps and plenty of spare change (can be needed for car parks or electricity meters) in the front of the car, not in the boot!

Find somewhere half way home that looks like a fun place stop for a couple of hours on the way home. It makes the holiday seem to last a bit longer.

kmills Mon 19-May-14 03:10:30

Take some essentials. Toilet roll, towel, soap, shampoo, etc. It's a nightmare arriving somewhere after a long journey and finding these aren't supplied. Better to be safe than sorry.

EvilHerbivore Mon 19-May-14 09:03:01

Possibly boringly too practical but I'd assess for fire escape routes and make sure DC (if old enough) know
Same with rules regarding use of pool/going outside/opening patio doors etc without asking or a grown up present

SixImpossible Mon 19-May-14 17:47:33

Take a house that sleeps more people than are staying there. In our experience holiday rentals always wedge in as many beds as possible, without really providing enough living or bathroom space.

We always choose a place that is different to home (we like to have an open fire) but still has enough mod cons (I don't want to spend my holiday handwashing dishes) without going overboard (no Xbox, for example).

Ratbagcatbag Mon 19-May-14 18:38:39

None tester.

I always triple check what's included in the place as we stay at as we have limited car space, so don't like to duplicate what I'm taking.

If we stay in a caravan and we can't get a shop delivered, we meal plan before we go and one stays and unpacks and one heads to the supermarket. This way twice is much as done in the same time. We always have either takeaway on the night we arrive or eat out it just makes life easier.

We try and prebook fun activities especially ones where they might be sold out, so last year prebooked coasterring with an excellent firm, when we went we were told they were booked all summer.

If we're going away in autumn and with a friends, due to the young ages of the children and the lack of BBQ opportunities we take a wasjig with us, a nice new one and we have lots of wine whilst having a laugh trying to do it on a spare table.

MrsMikeDelfino Mon 19-May-14 19:17:54

(Non- tester)
We always take a supply of 'essentials' to keep down costs as they easily creep up if you forget any of them!
Such as cooking supplies - herbs, bag of pasta, teabags etc. Essentials that you can easily whip up a quick and healthy meal and save on eating out at extortionate prices every night.
Washing up stuff (washing up liquid, tea towel, etc.) just in case they don't have them when you get there.
Silly little things you'd never think to take and really wish you'd taken some when you get there as they don't have any. (Bog toilet roll being another prime example... ) grin

IceNoSlice Mon 19-May-14 20:58:10

Non tester:
My tip would be to use the internet beforehand -
- trip advisor for reviews of the area, local attractions, rainy day activities etc
- walk jog run to plan some runs (if you're a runner!)
- mumsnet (or t'other site) to check out local child friendly things to do
- google earth to get your bearings

Unpack as soon as you arrive - much nicer to have clothes in drawers than having to rummage in bags.

Meal plan - flexibly - so you don't have to come up with all The meals whilst wandering around the local spar and so you don't end up having pasta with veggy tomato sauce for three nights.

stephgr Tue 20-May-14 01:36:45

Non-tester. I'd visit websites for the location you are going to stay in to find out what events are taking place in the area during your stay because this will give you access to a greater variety of experiences which aren't available at home.

johnworf Tue 20-May-14 10:45:35

Overall opinions from you and others in the family:

How would you rate/ describe...

Accommodation as a whole

Comfortable beds. Kitchen was well equipped. Didn't need to bring anything as was all there for us. Was a little hard to find as was tucked away but instructions were given to us.

Kitchen facilities

Very well equipped. Huge fridge/freezer. Washing machine, dishwasher and microwave plus the usual kettle and toaster. Enough crockery for 6 people and lots of mugs and glasses.

Bedrooms/Sleeping arrangements

We had one twin and one double room. The twin was great with lots of room, a wardrobe, drawers and even a fan (great given the hot weekend). The double was rather cramped and the hanging space very limited.

Local area

We were in Clerkenwell off the main road. It was quiet. Takeaways, bars and local shops all within walking distance.

How were the checking in and out experiences?

Checking out was very straight forward; we left the keys on the dining table! Checking in was a little more complicated. We had to get to the Housetrip offices, which we couldn't find. After walking up and down Holborn for half an hour and asking several people I managed to find a number and call them. The building had been locked up so we had no chance of getting in. After 5 minutes an agent met us outside Accessorize and handed over the keys in the street. We then had to get another taxi back to the accommodation. Would have been much better if they'd met us at the accommodation and saved me a frazzled husband and grumpy children.

Would you return/ try out another HouseTrip holiday?

Quite possibly. It depends on where. Doubt it would be in London as it was quite ££££

Would you recommend HouseTripping to a friend?

Yes I would without hesitation.

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?

It was pricey for 3 days (£650) but I guess it depends on what you want to do during your stay. If you are happy in a Premier Inn that you use as just a base then it would work out much cheaper. However, if you intend to eat in and cook then I'd reccomend a Housetrip. DH said he wouldn't pay that much for 3 days but then we've paid much more for 5 days at Centre Parcs during school holidays.

The amount of space we had was adequate for a family of 4 but anymore people would have been a squash.

Any other comments?

DH would have liked a bigger tv (yes, I know) but overall we had a great time. The children got to see lots of the tourist spots in London and Greenwich was fab! Thank you Housetrip for allowing us to test out one of your properties. grin Thanks MN for picking us. xxxx

We've old done this once - we ordered groceries to be delivered the day we arrived and I brought the DCs cups and plates (they were both under 3 at the time) and a couple of favourite DVDs and cuddly toys. We spoke to the owner twice on the phone to get clued up on local transport links, tourist attractions and best places to eat nearby. It was a wonderful holiday that I would definitely repeat.

Mummytoboyz7 Tue 20-May-14 15:28:28

It's the same things that make a difference take the kids usual pillows and a blanket so they still feel like they have a piece of home when it comes to bedtime.

Doubtfuldaphne Tue 20-May-14 15:51:33

I always prefer this type of holiday now that I have children as you can make it a home from home and relax a little more, providing you bring your essentials. I always take extra utensils and some games and books, a docking station and ipod and some of dd's favourite toys. I find it a lot easier for the children to settle in this type of environment and you don't have the set times for breakfast etc s you can relax a lot more!

crimsonwitch Wed 21-May-14 01:50:27

Write a checklist before you go of essentials that may not be included, e.g. salt and pepper, sugar, kitchen towels, toilet roll etc. Take some antibacterial wipes to give the place a quick spruce (someone elses clean may not be the same as your clean). Research things to do in the are, and take some entertainment with you for rainy days, so the kids don't get bored. Wine, always remember to bring wine! wink

itisntme Wed 21-May-14 06:17:42

Non tester: do an online shop and have your shopping delivered soon after arriving. For first night we like to take a pre prepared frozen meal eg bolognase - defrosts on the way, so you don't need to worry about keeping food cool, and dead easy to just heat up when you get thete

HannahLI Wed 21-May-14 10:44:34

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.

My top tip is enjoy having the space and it all to yourself, take time each day once you come in to set the kids up in their own space within the house so they can have quiet time as sometimes holidays can get a bit over-exciting and much. Its also really nice to be able to cook and do things more like you would at home so don't be frightened to give the kids and activity and leave them to it whilst you cook - or get on with some relaxing yourself. Sometime it can be hard as a parent to relax and let it all go so use the safety of your whole holiday house to take time out, sit back with a good book or take a bath!

gloriafloria Fri 23-May-14 11:01:15

We go on google street map before hand and get a good look at where the house is located and what's nearby. Really makes it easier when first arriving as we have an idea of where to park etc.

mjmooseface Fri 23-May-14 16:21:43

Non - Tester:

Holidaying as a big family meant we usually stayed in an apartment, converted barn, chalet etc at holiday parks like Haven, which were all self-catering, when we went away. We would load up the minibus with big boxes full of food that we'd gotten from the supermarket to cook whilst away as eating out every day was pretty expensive! We would buy treats and the odd take away and eat at cafe's when we went to certain attractions, but mostly we would cook our own meals and take picnics!

Taking board games and card games for those mornings when the little ones are up before the adults want to start the day! Also good for rainy days.

We took plenty of toilet roll and towels, cutlery and plates for us all. It was literally like living in a proper home for the 1 or 2 weeks we were away.

It was much easier back then! Now I have my own family and neither me or OH drive and it makes going away a bit harder because there's only so much we can carry between us with the little one, too!

Tinyminx Fri 23-May-14 19:20:23

I pack rubber gloves as well as washing up sponge, single washpowder tablets (to avoid spillage), dishwasher tablets and some immediate supplies - tea, coffee, milk, bread. And some pegs!
The rubber gloves are invaluable, whether washing up or other cleaning jobs....staying in a whole villa/house etc I don't want to leave any spill ages or mess that we make.
I also take an insulated bag so that it will do for sandwiches etc on the journey, and then for making and taking picnics out during our stay, rather than having to stop to buy lunches which can be expensive.

Siri1 Fri 23-May-14 20:04:03

We took a (new) garden trug with the baby's toys and sleeping bag etc to out holiday chalet. There was only a shower so we used the trug as a bath for the little one. She squealed with excitement at the novelty.
We bought a couple of new toys to take her mind off the trip.
Quesadillas are an easy first night meal for all the family - we had grated apple and cheese. Simple.

ILoveMyCaravan Sat 24-May-14 21:12:30

Non-tester

Always take basics for cleaning - rubber gloves, anti-bac wipes, tea towels, kitchen roll and toilet roll. Also a box with various medicine/plasters and antiseptic cream. Oh and definitely a big box of our favourite tea bags! A starter bag for meal prep - olive oil, herbs, tomato puree, stock cubes, S&P, dried pasta/rice - so that I only need to buy fresh stuff once there.

I always research the area on the internet before we go away and make a list of possible places to visit, some inside and some outside so we're prepared whatever the weather.

If travelling by car then I normally pack sandwiches, snacks and water bottles for DCs plus a huge bowl of fruit which they can pick at during the journey so they're not scoffing chocolate/sweets all the time.

NK5BM3 Sun 25-May-14 08:44:02

On holiday

How is it so far? What's the weather like?
Having a great time! We are in London and although it was raining yesterday at the start and during the afternoon we weren't really affected because we'd decided to do to the natural history museum. The kids were super excited about being on holiday that the addition of the brollies wasn't an issue (I guess at 6 and 3 they are used to the English weather?!) grin

Describe your accommodation eg the amount of space, outdoor area, particular parts of the house
We are in a 2bed apt. Spacious enough for 4 of us. One twin, and one double. One ensuite and one other. All mod cons, so there was no need to bring anything other than breakfast stuff. Kitchen well equipped, ton of dish washing tablets, balconies where we've enjoyed breakfast to morning with the morning sun.

There is also an underground parking for cars (which we had) and a concierge at the reception. Feels all very safe.

What else are you doing outside of the housetrip stay, in the local area?
We've done a trip to the natural history museum yesterday, local tube was 10min walk away along a very picturesque walk by the Thames. Also went to the lady Diana play park which was a fantastic park right in the middle of London. The kids might have liked it as much as the dinosaurs?!! grin Intend to go to the aquarium today, and Greenwich tomorrow.

How does this compare to previous hotel holidays or previous home rental holidays you've experienced?
We've gone on farm cottage holidays before and it's similar in that you have the run of the place for however long you've booked it. Difference obviously in that on the farm, you do farm/countryside stuff and being in London you feel that you've got to make the best of it, and go out and see the sights, museums, etc. and of course, of the farm you drive around the area, London you go on the tube (which is very expensive!!).

What have you got up to at your housetrip property?

The first night, we brought a takeaway from sainsburys for us, and kids had a pizza. Which was a sound choice. Showers and sleep. Second day we had breakfast, then went out. Had dinner out so came back again to just showers and sleep. Today, we've just had breakfast and the kids are playing in the sun on the balcony. Will go out in a bit.

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 haven't really used the kitchen for anything beyond heating up the takeaways, and breakfast stuff. Reason being we made the decision when we got this trip to London that we wanted to take advantage of all the amazing food here in London. So last night we had a fab dinner at a Chinese restaurant that we knew about. I imagine tonight we will do something similar.

What have your dc enjoyed most about the housetrip experience? And have you/your dh enjoyed most?

The children have enjoyed everything... From TV, showers (we have a shower over the bath at home so a stand alone shower is a novelty!). Dh enjoys the nearness to the Thames and river things, we are in zone 2 and it's just really nice to be in London and at the natural history museum (eg) for before it opens up at 10! We live an hour-ish away from London and even with the best of wills, with the trains coming once an hour, the earliest we get into London for anything (with kids) is nearer lunch time.

Tortoise Sun 25-May-14 11:03:11

Testers- what did you do for video diary? I'm not sure what they are looking for.

Moogdroog Sun 25-May-14 16:58:55

Was about to ask the same about the video diaries - a bit clueless about what's needed.

We leave tomorrow for Edinburgh at stupid o'clock. Kids very excited and we're busy packing.

NK5BM3 Sun 25-May-14 21:11:42

Erm, I just videoed as we went along, I'm still on holiday, so haven't sent anything. But I was just going to send a few of the videos and then let them decide what to do with them. I've done it with the iPad.

crashbangboom Sun 25-May-14 21:31:24

I always take my wok.... Currys, spag bol, stirfry.... Can cook so much it in!

Ohhelpohnoitsa Sun 25-May-14 21:54:45

None tester here. We always hire a villa. Sad as it sounds on holiday, we do all the washing before we come home. it makes sense ...dries in a flash and means you dont bring smelly laundry home nor do you have to wash and (attempt to ) dry 6 loads when you return. Except last year.......when it rained and rained AFTER I had washed 3 loads and we had to bring it back semi wet. That was grim.

Bubbles85 Mon 26-May-14 06:44:50

Non tester - take enough food with you in case you can't find a supermarket. We've been through that already!

Tester here. Off to Brussels later today. Neighbours feeding the cats, dog off on her holidays to my parents where she will be spoiled rotten. We are very excited!! grin grin

We just bought a Time Out guide book to Brussels which looks good and has a two day walking tour which includes lots of the things we wanted to do anyway, so we will follow that and see how we get on. It includes lots of museums so whilst DP and I will be happy, my youngest child, 12, may get a bit tired of it so we may have to deviate from the plan and eat lots of chocolate and frites with mayonnaise!

The forecast looks very wet, though warm, so we have packed shower-proof jackets. I cleaned the house thoroughly yesterday (always nice to come home to a clean and tidy house!) and we are taking a picnic tea to eat at the airport as flights are around 5 and it will be late by the time we get to the apartment. smile

I am planning on taking the iPad and will use it to do a video diary and take photos as I haven't heard anything different from the Mumsnet team. Hope this is okay.

Thank you Mumsnet and Housetrip. What a brilliant treat.

Babycarmen Mon 26-May-14 12:29:32

Cooking basics are essential. I agree that researching the local area is extremely important too, not just for activities but for hospitals, pharmacies etc in case of emergencies.

Bubbles85 Mon 26-May-14 13:03:58

Non tester - take enough food with you in case you can't find a supermarket. We've been through that already!

Tortoise Mon 26-May-14 17:32:32

Thanks for replies re video diary.
We have arrived at our London apartment. It's very clean and tidy. Had a nice walk around Hyde park and a look at the princess Diana memorial fountain. Shame the weather is miserable. Luckily mostly dry until now. Tomorrow we are going on a Thames river cruise sightseeing tour.

NK5BM3 Mon 26-May-14 18:57:12

Tester

We are from London and it was a really good break!

Overall opinions from you and others in the family:

How would you rate/describe..

- accommodation as a whole
Very good, ds who is 6 just said 'awesome'! He liked everything about it, and so did we. It was a 2bed apt with one twin, and one double. The twin was located in the master which had an ensuite shower. The main bathroom had a bath as well. All mod cons, with plenty of dishwashing tabs, and sufficient cutlery, plates, mugs, cups, etc. big fridge, freezer. Spacious enough.

- kitchen facilities
Whoops - see above (am on iPad, can't really re type!)

- bedrooms/sleeping
See above

-local area
We were in the North Greenwich area, so v near the O2 and the Thames river. Pleasant walk to the station via the river walkway. Kids enjoyed the walk even in the rain. Near the station there was a tesco express, and lots of restaurants like wagamamas and chiquito. Didn't quite go into the O2 but I would imagine it's pretty self sufficient. It's also zone2 on jubilee line. So it's 15 min to Westminster.

-checkin and check out
Checking out was easy, just put the keys and garage fob into the letter box at the bottom of the apt. The concierge was there too so we could have left it there. Checking in, it was easy enough, ring them an hour before and they would meet us at the apt. Except that there was abit of a mess up in terms of where the keys were (on their end, not mine) but things were resolved easy enough and they were apologetic so not a problem. We were waiting around for an hour. Kids amused themselves in the playground area, so that was ok.

The host talked us through the keys, house stuff, garage, bin store. All very nice and pleasant.

- would you return/try out another housetrip holiday
Dh said 'for free??" grin I think it was slightly expensive for 3 days (£345) for a family but then maybe for 4 grown ups, in London 3 days, that's very decent I think, especially with all the mod cons.

Yes I think we definitely would try this out again.

- would you recommend house tripping to a friend?
Yes we would. Our experience was very pleasant, and everything went smoothly. It looks like the other person who has checked in/out so far on this thread has also had a great experience. Looking at the website, there are many happy experiences so yes I would. But of course, I'd read the feedback carefully, just like you would say on trip advisor.

-value for money and compared to other family holidays? What did you think about the amount of space you get for the cost?
In hindsight, I think it was value for money. In that I'm assuming a travel lodge would still be £100/day for a family room. I was in a single room in a travel lodge type place in London and it was £115. So for London it was very worth it I think.

For the amount of space, it was fantastic. No one was climbing over anyone, there were two bathrooms! Plus wifi, and we could have cooked all meals if we wished.

Thank you mumsnet for choosing us!!! smile thanks

NK5BM3 Mon 26-May-14 18:57:39

Whoops, it should say, we were in London... Not we are from London. Doh.

Tortoise Mon 26-May-14 20:16:23

This is the living room, it's very cosy. And we have discovered a pigeon nest on the balcony with 2 baby birds in! This was very exciting for DD1 and DD2.
We just had papa John's pizzas delivered! yum!

Moogdroog Mon 26-May-14 20:44:23

Well we are here in Edinburgh. Arrived just after lunch, but felt much later as we had such an early flight. Kids loved the flight/airport experience.

The apartment is lovely, so homely and comfortable. I am seriously coveting some of the Deco furniture (its an art deco building). Our hosts were here waiting for us, we got a lovely welcome and we shown around and pointed in the right direction of the things 2 and 5 year olds enjoy (I.e. playgrounds)

So far today we've been to the playground, been out for Pizza Express (thank you Clubcard) and got a feel for the area (really nice).

More exploring tomorrow.

Thank you so much HouseTrip and Mumsnet flowers

Hermancakedestroyer Tue 27-May-14 10:26:52

Non tester : I like to take a little welcome pack for when I arrive at a villa / holiday home. I would include things like tea bags, coffee, long life milk, biscuits, matches, tea towel, washing up liquid, wine.....so that we can have an emergency cuppa on arrival whilst we sort out luggage etc.
I glance through mumsnet to look at tips and recommendations of my chosen holiday place.
I like to buy my travel goodies from boots well in advance of going in holiday as it builds the excitement of going away up!
Really looking forward to some sunshine and chilled holiday time.

Our first day in our quirky and unusual apartment in Brussels. The apartment is also a museum and is dedicated to the Belgian frite and contains lots of chip related art works grin. The apartment is open to the public one weekend a month and contains lots of exhibits from local artists. We were met by our very welcoming host, Hugues, who lives with his family in the apartment upstairs. He gave us lots of information about places to eat, public transport and places to visit.

The apartment has two good sized double bedrooms, a large bathroom with a bath and shower, a well equipped kitchen and a sitting room. We also have a pretty garden with a BBQ and hope the weather will be good enough to use it on our last day.

Some of the local architecture is beautiful and we are well placed for public transport, though this is a little more expensive than we anticipated. It costs approximately €20 for four to travel, return, to the centre of Brussels.

Eating out is also rather pricey though fortunately, we are a five minute walk from a Lidl. I've posted a few photos of the apartment and will add more later of our first day in Brussels

spababe Wed 28-May-14 11:34:40

Have a look at the location of the property on google street map firstly so you can check the location of the nearest supermarket and also if there are child friendly restaurants and attractions nearby. Secondly look at the street view of the property so that you can easily recognise it when you arrive!

milliemoon Wed 28-May-14 19:39:42

Plan plan and plan! decide what nights you are likely to eat in and make sure you have the ingredients to take and find out whether there will be the necessary pots, pans and plates etc

Moogdroog Wed 28-May-14 20:29:28

On holiday
- How is it so far? What's the weather like?
So, this is the last full day of our HouseTrip holiday - we fly home tomorrow evening, so we can squeeze a bit more fun out of our trip yet. So far is been a great trip, though pretty exhausting (the DCs have woken up for the day at 4.30 and 5am so far!). The weather has been a mixed bag - overcast yesterday with some rain this afternoon. Not to bad at all. We absolutely love Edinburgh - such a beautiful, interesting and friendly city. I'm impressed and would love to come back.

- Describe your accommodation e.g. the amount of space, outdoor area, particular parts of the house etc.
The apartment is on the ground floor of a large Art Deco block in the Morningside area of the city , on a quiet street just minutes from the main road with loads of lovely shops. The apartment is warm, comfortable and very homely, with more than enough space for the 4 of us. It's been beautifully furnished with deco furniture in the bedrooms and has all the mod cons we could wish for (dishwasher, washing machine, ipod dock, bluray player) and extremely comfortable beds (which the dcs keep falling out of!). We have a small patio out the front and access to a huge communal space at the back. Our hosts provided loads of toys and books for the kids - we couldn't be more pleased! Pics coming shortly.

- What else are you doing outside of the HouseTrip stay, in the local area?
We're on a bit of a shoestring budget, but thankfully Edinburgh has loads of free stuff to n enjoy. The first day everyone was very tired so we went to a playground just a couple of minutes walk away and then out for a Tesco Clubcard dinner smile. Yesterday was mostly spent on the National Museum which is amazing and thoroughly recommended. The T Rex skeleton was a bit hit and there's loads of interactive stuff for the kids. Today we visited the Museum of Childhood, the Storytelling Centre, mooched about the Royal Mile and walked up Calton Hill for the view. Tomorrow I'm really hoping I can squeeze in an art gallery or two before we go home. We've barely scratched the surface!

- How does this compare to previous hotel holidays or previous home rental holidays you've experienced?
Well, this is really our first family holiday, but we've had the odd night in a hotel and a Centre Parcs stay before DD came along. It makes so much difference having the whole place to ourselves. Staying in a family room in a hotel is a bit of a nightmare with small DCs as you can't do anything once they're in bed. Compared to the Centre Parcs trip, I'm appreciating all the little touches that you don't get in a corporate environment. Being self catering also keeps the cost down.

- What have you got up to at your HouseTrip property?
We've spent a fair bit of time here. We've chilled out with some telly when needed, had our breakfast here and cooked a couple of evening meals. DH and I have got some serious box set watching done in the evenings!

- 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 have used the kitchen a great deal. It's well equipped, so have had breakfast here, made packed lunches and cooked a couple of evening meals. There's a Waitrose 2 mins walk from here and a Simply Food about 5 mins away. Plus there was a reasonable stock of tea and coffee plus a few other bits to get us started. We ate out the day we arrived and intend to have lunch out tomorrow as we'll be flying home around teatime.

- What have your DC enjoyed most about the HouseTrip experience? And what have you/your DH/DP enjoyed most?
They've enjoyed sharing a room and exploring the toys and bills that are here. And as I said above, they loved the museum and the novelty of going on a plane. We've enjoyed exploring and having a change of scene. We've appreciated the space and convenience of having a whole apartment rather than a hotel. Edinburgh is a wonderful city that I'd love to come back to.

Thank you so much to HouseTrip, Mumsnet and our lively, thoughtful hosts. It has been such a treat! flowers flowers flowers

Moogdroog Wed 28-May-14 20:30:38

Lovely hosts, not lively!

CrewElla Wed 28-May-14 21:17:02

Non tester (who wishes she could have been a tester!)

I think it's important to bring a little bit of home with you, especially for the kids so they feel comfortable. We bring favourite toys, comforters, books, and games. A nightlight is a godsend as well.

Other than that it's about being organised and knowing what's available where you are going but also exploring the area and finding things that are slightly off the beaten track.

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.

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

Couple of pics from natural history museum.

- 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.

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.

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.

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.

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

A few pics of our apartment

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.

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.

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!

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 ?

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

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.

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!

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.

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!

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.

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.

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

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

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!

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!

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

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

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!

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.

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