I have just finished a holiday around Europe for two months and booked dozens of apartments ,villas ,houses ,hotels on the intenet before hand
I have learned some costly but valuable lessons ,I thought they may save others a lot of trouble and heartache ,
Problem most frequently occuring ..at least 50 percent of the time was finding the place /and or getting to it ,
For big cities
Making a note of one way systems in advance would have saved us much heart ache .The city apartments where very easy to locate but impossible to get to.Parking was also often hugely expensive sometimes adding up to a quatre onto our overall accomodation costs,
Paris 25 euros a day ..accomodation 100 euros a night
Vienna 22 euros accomodation 144 euros a night
Venice ..the best and cheapest was only 20 euros for patrolled parking with 24 hour access.
Barcelona 20 euros accomodation 100 euros a night
It was often some distance from the accomodation to the nearest 24 hour access parking as many car parks closed for bank holidays ,sundays or after a certain time at night.
For rural villas /cottages
The main problem was bad directions ,most people who rented accomodation to us forgot that they were familar with the place and we were not .
NEVER EVER EVER belive the phrase "its very easy to find"
.eg 2nd turning on the right .. often means 4 or 5th turning after two roads that go no where and a farm track, or even worse, on the right but on the wrong right ie owners says right when they are going one way down a road but you are going another way so it is really left ,we found directions that said things are ..right at the garden center or at the supermarket etc worked better,Right or left at the church or school,police station etc sound great but there is often more than one school or church.
WORST directional instruction ever is "go along the road a bit" this turned out to be anything from 50 or 100 yards to 15 or so miles
also we often had a problem finding specific houses because the owners did not leave detailed instuctions that were equaly useful day or night ,Its the house with the blue door,or with the red gate etc are useless at night in a village with no street lights.Even photos are no good in the dark and is not always possible to time your trip to arrive in daylight.
Following on from this and our main mistake was NOT CHECKING CONTACT NUMBERS IN ADVANCE,these only once actualy worked properly ,we frequently got answering machines ..usualy in spanish /french /german /Ital;ian ,or nothing at all,
It is not always possible to use mobils in some rural areas and local phones may need special cards and have only local langugue instructions.
Never if you possibly can pay on the day for non hotel accomodation , even if thats standard practice for the owners ,you either end up carrying around a huge amount of cash /or desperatly looking for a cash machine /or worse still we got charged an extra 60 euros in non specified fees that the owner in some very rural village in Austria because he knew we could not go anywhere else.This took the bill from 30 euros to 90 and used up all our ready cash leaving us no money for petrol ,food etc until we found a cash machine..he is on my to do list now we are home!
.If you pay in advance you can of course loose all the cash if it turns out to be dodgy or you end up not going but perhaps holiday insurance would cover this?
Try to get lots of photos of the inside
The central heating in our "ski hut" in Austria turned out to be a victorian wood burning stove and it had very strange decor, our daughter called it look what I killed, there was a stuffed marmot on one windowsill and a load of animal skins and a bear trap in another corner ,whilst outside had a stuffed falcon.
Most accomadation was lovely but we had a couple of mistakes and one that we never managed to get into and that may possibly not even exist .
And one last invaluble piece of knowledge.. ,mc donalds have clean toilets,they are open early and close late ,you do not need a degree in the local langugue to ask for the toilets in them.. and you can all go for the price of a small burger,we found toilets expensive in several countries and impossible to find in others or worse still ,very very dodgy ,At Mc Donalds ladies dont walk in to the loo to nearly fall over the mens urinals, ,they have seats at the height seats are supposed to be ,locking doors ,loo roll and they are almost always clean AND best of all there is no little old lady at the door with a dish waiting for their tip.
bye and safe Journey