For our next exclusive Google+ Hangout On Air we’ll be joined by Keith Jenkins of the fantastic velvetescape.com. Tune in live to discover Keith’s top tips for where to go to find luxury for less, and how to create those luxury moments in your holiday.
We’ll be going live with Keith at 1pm GMT. As always, the link to watch will appear on this event page 15 minutes before we go live.
Tweet your questions for Keith any time before and during the Hangout to @housetrip using the hashtag #luxuryforless
Featured image by Sarah_Ackerman
Paris is one of our favourite cities. It can be all things to all people: annual family holidays, romantic weekend getaways, luxurious escapes and quick, cheap breaks. And we categorically believe that the best way you can add flavour and quirk to any hightailing to Paris, is by staying in a holiday home.
So with that in mind, here are ten of our more luxurious, characterful homes in Paris available to rent and designed to leave you thinking longingly to yourself… “I wish I owned that”.
1) Slick, modern and clean…
in trendy Marais. http://www.housetrip.com/en/rentals/249927
2) Stylish, charming fusion of traditional and modern…
also in – still trendy – Marais. http://www.housetrip.com/en/rentals/197
3) Light, large and piano-ridden…
beautifully well located in the centre of Paris. http://www.housetrip.com/en/rentals/168112
4) Noble, elegant and stately…
you’ll feel part of the French nobility, pre-revolution of course. http://www.housetrip.com/en/rentals/254377
5) Spacious, luxurious and lofty…
with incredible views of the Eiffel Tower on your balcony. http://www.housetrip.com/en/rentals/257369
6) Splendidly grand…
and only 5 minutes from the Champs Elysées and l’Arc de Triomphe. http://www.housetrip.com/en/rentals/147069
7) Artistic, large and comfy…
and spread over 3 floors. http://www.housetrip.com/en/rentals/175788
8) Sunny, with a terrace and beautifully designed…
in the heart of Montmartre. http://www.housetrip.com/en/rentals/11523
9) Unique, stunning and a fantastic find…
it even has a library. http://www.housetrip.com/en/rentals/67085
10) Eclectic, bright and high-ceilinged former artist’s residence…
Henri Pinta’s old studio. http://www.housetrip.com/en/rentals/229141
But that’s not all. There are so many wonderful places to see in Paris, and incredible apartments, mansions, houses and houseboats to choose from.
When people travel to New York, they often stick to the main sights found in downtown Manhattan. While Times Square, Top of the Rock and The Empire State Building are amazing to see, there is more to New York City than the usual spots that people think of.
There are four other boroughs in New York City and we had the chance to explore two of them during our most recent trip to the Big Apple with HouseTrip.
When looking for a place to stay, choosing an apartment in Brooklyn or Queens is a great option. You’ll find more affordable prices and have a much larger living space. It’s a great choice for families who want to cook at home, have a separate room from the kids and enjoy the adventure of exploring the way real New Yorkers do.
Just because you are staying in Brooklyn, doesn’t mean you have to limit yourself to the sights in Brooklyn. Manhattan is only a short subway ride away. We were a mere four stops to downtown and for $30 we bought a Metro Card, giving us seven days of unlimited travel all over New York City.
With that said, don’t count out exploring Brooklyn and Queens. There’s a ton of stuff to see and do and you’ll find that some of the sights are more interesting than what you’ll find downtown.
We started our tour of Brooklyn with a movie and pizza with a Slice of Brooklyn. It’s very cool to see all the locations for iconic movies that were set in Brooklyn, from Saturday Night Fever, to Goodfellas and Once Upon a Time in America, to my personal favourite from the 80’s, Warriors. Remember the line? “Warriors come out and play!”
We ate at some of the best pizza joints in the city like Grimaldi’s and L&B Spumoni Gardens. Grimaldi’s attracts crowds forming lines down the street. It’s a New York institution and one of the few remaining pizzerias in the city that still cooks with a coal-burning oven.
There’s the beautiful carousal and park under the Brooklyn Bridge, offering some of the best views of the Manhattan skyline in the swank yet loud neighbourhood known as DUMBO (Down under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass). Jim Carrey just bought a 16-million dollar apartment in this neighbourhood.
When visiting New York City, one must walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. It’s an event you’ll remember and the views are fantastic. Once you cross the bridge, follow the street to the end and the subway is just around the corner. You’re already half way home!
Brooklyn is home to Coney Island and boy has it changed. It’s now a family friendly destination where people take their kids to ride the roller coaster, people watch on the boardwalk and enjoy a hot dog at Nathan’s Famous Frankfurters.
It’s an easy subway ride to everywhere with New York’s extensive transit system and another option is to stay in Queens. Home to the US Open, Queens is a quiet oasis in the city. The wildlife refuge on Jamaica Bay is one of the most significant bird sanctuaries in the North Eastern United States. The owner of this Queens apartment on the water even offer boat trips on the bay to his guests.
After you’ve finished with all the hustle and bustle of New York City, Queens is a great place to wind down. We were surprised with the size and scope of the beaches out there. The Ramones sang about Rockaway Beach because it was one of their favourite places to hang out on and we can understand why. It’s a beautiful sandy beach and the largest city beach in all of the United States.
There’s nothing better than strolling along the waterfront, people watching on the boardwalk, hiking through the wildlife reserve or relaxing on the deck of an apartment rental overlooking the water at the Manhattan skyline. One would never think that New York could be so peaceful.
Here you can truly live local. Order a pizza from the local shop, get your groceries and have a home cooked meal and then enjoy a drink on the deck, watching the birds fly by as you embrace the silence. It’s a perfect way to end your NYC vacation.
There is so much to do outside Manhattan that it’s worth adding a few days on to your New York City vacation to check out the surrounding areas. HouseTrip offers plenty of options in all the boroughs. Staying outside of downtown offers more space at affordable prices and a very authentic experience to see New York as a local.
For more information on the apartments highlighted in this video check out:
http://www.housetrip.com/en/rentals/174215 - Brooklyn Brownstones number 1
http://www.housetrip.com/en/rentals/208464 - Brooklyn Brownstones number 2
http://www.housetrip.com/en/rentals/6267 - Queens on the Water
If your children are animal lovers, care for a treasured pet or deliver heartfelt speeches on the terrible effects of whaling on the sperm whale population; they’ve probably already told you that today is World Animal Day.
To celebrate a day of caring for the cute and fuzzy, the feathered and winged, even the scaly and slimy; we’ve put together some pictures ideas for your next holiday break, if you want to centre your holiday around getting your little activists enthused about some of the amazing creatures to be found in all corners of the globe.
When some animal rights lovers think of a zoo, they sometimes think of dank, dark cages and sad animals in wretched captivity. But the truth is that many zoos around the world are beautiful places to live, dedicated to animal conservation and providing their fluffy guests with plenty of room to roam and live free-range, as it were. These are some of the best.
Chester Zoo, Chester, England.
credit: Adam Foster
Tiergarten Schönbrunn, Vienna, Austria
National Zoological Gardens of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa
Bronx Zoo, New York City, United States
Berlin Zoological Garden, Berlin, Germany
credit: Tambako the Jaguar
Apart from the only way for many of us to experience incredibly tough to spot deepwater fish (such as the rarely-seen-in-captivity Sunfish which you can find in Valencia or Lisbon) – and the slow, otherworldly elegance of the earth beneath sea-level, aquariums are homebase for many marine biologists, whose jobs are to try and keep the oceanic ecosystems in balance.
Dubai Aquarium and Discovery Centre, Dubai, U.A.E.
The Deep Aquarium, Hull, England
credit: Bruce Stokes
L’Oceanogràfic, Valencia, Spain
credit: Jofre Ferrer
Turkuazoo, Istanbul, Turkey
Oceanário de Lisboa, Lisbon, Portugal
Featured image of Squid, the HouseTrip office dog, by reversepanda.
“To improve is to change. To be perfect is to change often”
So said Winston Churchill. And while he is quoted perhaps too readily and loosely, by everyone from bloggers to soapboxers to tweeters (albeit with less ‘you are’s and more ‘ur’s in the latter case), that gent of unending eloquence was definitely onto something here.
This advice is, we feel, particularly useful for Hosts looking to spruce up their holiday rental. Do you think your rental property is perfect? Or would you like to learn a few easy ways to improve? And even if you do think it’s perfectly ship shape, according to The British Bulldog it won’t remain so unless you’re willing to take a critical look and make some alterations and updates from time to time.
So, we decided to get some more specific and relevant advice from another clever person. Anna Tobin, a renowned family travel and interior design blogger (her design blog is called www.dontcrampourstyle.com, it’s very good and worth reading), was kind enough to tell us her top ten tips for improving a holiday rental to make it more extraordinary. She’s had a slew of experience staying in a wide range of HouseTrip’s holiday rentals around the world, and we wanted to know what her thoughts were to add some extra “wow” to a rental property.
1) Don’t buy everything from one home store
credit: Ulf Bodin
Your guests don’t want to feel like they are staying in a department store catalogue. Mix and match your furniture, be eclectic and make your furniture choices interesting.
2) Add a touch of individualism, but not too much
Opt for a few one-off pieces from a thrift shop, antique store or homewares boutique – but don’t overdo it. People want to get a glimpse of the personality of the home owner, they don’t want to be overpowered by it.
3) See your furniture and décor as an investment and don’t buy cheap
If you choose the cheapest beds, sofas and white goods for example, you will end up having to replace them much faster than you would do if you went for a quality product and the penny-pinching option could end up costing you more in the long run. Cheap flat-pack furniture doesn’t tend to last as long as readymade either. Guests can sniff out when you’ve cut corners on quality and they won’t come back.
4) Introduce some local touches
Tourists like to see things that are unique to the place they are staying in, so root your property in its environment with, say, an English cottage garden if your place is in the UK; works of art on the walls by Catalan artists if your apartment is in Barcelona or a pot of hummus in the fridge of your Cypriotic kitchen.
5) Be practical
credit: Stephan Geyer
Don’t choose all white bed linen or pale carpets that could easily stain, don’t fill the kitchen with irreplaceable fine bone china, if you’re welcoming kids stock up on hardwearing children’s crockery.
6) Hide your personal stuff
If you live in your property most of the time and only rent it out occasionally, make sure that you leave at least one kitchen unit empty for your guests, ensure that the fridge and freezer are not filled up with half-empty milks and opened can of sweetcorn – they should be completely ready. Leave several drawers and a wardrobe free for your guests. They do not want to store their underwear next to yours!
7) Welcome guests to try your tastes
A holiday rental is special because it really is a home away from home. So encourage your guests to play your music, read your books and watch your movies. People like clues that tell them a bit about their host.
8) Don’t just accept kids, invite them
If you’re listed as a family friendly residence, make sure that you are family friendly and not just childproofed. Ensure that you have a high chair, cot and space to change a baby. If you invest in a steriliser and food puree maker too, it will make you even more inviting. Have some toys and family board games on hand for older children and maybe a football and tennis balls for them to use.
9) Supply some staples
People don’t want to arrive late at night to find that they have to run to the store for toilet paper, shampoo and coffee. Leave a few necessities for guests to use so that they feel comfortable and at home right away.
10) Ask for feedback
If a guest says that the house was lovely, but it was a shame that the sofa bed wasn’t at all comfortable, it could be worth investing in a new one. Read reviews and comments on other properties similar to your one too, you might pick up some helpful tips.
Featured image from http://www.housetrip.com/en/rentals/117387.