Having spent thousands of nights in hotels, travel writers Lara Dunston & Terence Carter are opting for slow travel and holiday homes instead. Copyright © 2022 Terence Carter / Grantourismo. All Rights Reserved.

Goodbye Hotel Fatigue, Hello Holiday Homes!

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We’ve spent well over a thousand nights in hotels in the last four years we’ve been on the road. Every chance we’ve had we’ve opted to check into apartment rentals and holiday homes instead. Now we’re going to be doing that for a year, on our grand tour of the world.

If we’ve been researching a guidebook where we’ve had to cover large areas of a country by car, as we did in Greece, Syria, Thailand, Cyprus, Italy, Spain and Australia in recent years, we’ve had no choice but to stay in a different town and different hotel almost every night.

Now don’t get us wrong, we love a great hotel. Whether it’s a chic boutique place, intimate family-owned affair, or big luxe beach resort, we appreciate the attention to detail that goes into making a good hotel great: intuitive, attentive service; fine quality linens and furnishings; cutting-edge technology; thoughtfully-chosen amenities; a well-stocked mini-bar; and beautiful bathroom products.

But we’re well and truly suffering from hotel fatigue.

While we’re not dismantling the trouser press for fun, as Richard Quest has apparently done, the process of checking in and out each day has become tedious, the incessant knocks on the door and phone calls to the room tiresome. Why is it that mini bars always need to be checked after we arrive?

Then there’s the endless waiting around – whether it’s for luggage that takes forever to get to the room, a promised ironing board that never appears, or a bell boy who has clearly lost his way.

On those days we’re so exhausted we don’t want to get out of bed, it would be heaven not to have to hurry to breakfast by ten. Nor deal with the scrum at the buffet, where even the most civilised people become savages as they fight for what’s apparently the last scrap of food on the planet.

And those nights when we have a deadline to meet or thousands of photos to download it would be nice to not have to order another cold Club Sandwich from room service because the restaurant staff’s shift finished well before ours.

And we have to admit, it has got to the point where our critical faculties are always switched on, and after so many hotels stays our expectations are so high, that it’s become impossible to relax at all.

So that explains why, when, say, we’ve had a city guidebook to research requiring us to stay in one place for a while, we’ve jumped at the opportunity to rent a place, carry our own luggage upstairs, stock our own fridge, cook our own meals, and eat as late or as early as we like.

Our hotel fatigue is only one of the reasons we’re so excited about this year ahead in holiday homes, and we’ll share more about our grand tour project in coming posts.

But don’t worry, we’re not going to switch off those critical faculties. We’ll be applying the same rigorous analysis, critical assessment, and opinionated writing style to our reviews of holiday rental properties that we’ve always applied to our hotel reviews. And you’ll find those reviews filed under The Digs.

But with a new property to assess every two weeks rather than every couple of days, we will take things a little bit easier for a while.

Do you ever suffer from hotel fatigue? And at what point do you decide to opt for holiday homes or apartment rentals instead of a hotel? We’d love to know.

Pictured above? Pics from a wonderful stay in 2008 at a friend’s holiday rental in Turkey.


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A travel and food writer who has experienced over 70 countries and written for The Guardian, Australian Gourmet Traveller, Feast, Delicious, National Geographic Traveller, Conde Nast Traveller, Travel+Leisure Southeast Asia, DestinAsian, TIME, CNN, The Independent, The Telegraph, Sunday Times Travel Magazine, AFAR, Wanderlust, International Traveller, Get Lost, Four Seasons Magazine, Fah Thai, Sawasdee, and more, as well as authored more than 40 guidebooks for Lonely Planet, DK, Footprint, Rough Guides, Fodors, Thomas Cook, and AA Guides.

20 thoughts on “Goodbye Hotel Fatigue, Hello Holiday Homes!”

  1. Mmm, I think hotels are delicious. I love fresh linens every day and beds I don’t have to make. It feels luxurious–truly a “getaway.” But I’d get tired of them too, if I’d spent as much time as you have in them. We opt for rental homes on holiday because it’s especially good for a family. We love a little more room to spread out, marketing for veggies alongside the locals, experimenting with cuisine, and having time to walk the neighborhoods and absorb the culture outside of the “hotel zone.” I’m excited for you and your new adventure!

  2. I have long believed that hotel-based holidays would slowly concede to holidays rentals and home exchange. If not ahead of time, your project is certainly abreast of this trend. It is awesome, but taken step by step, and tackled in the way you have outlined above, it will open the door for a swathe of the travelling public. I am glad, and would have expected it, that a contractual arrangement leaves you free to criticise as and when, and if need be, so your site can become a trusted leader of this genre of holiday. Good luck, I look forward to reading yr posts. Hopefully they will not simply cover well known destinations, but also home rentals in the developing world, though I suppose you will be guided, if not directed, on choice by your employers?

  3. Hotels are incredibly convenient for short stays IF they tick all of your boxes for cleanliness, privacy, location, etc. But we love guest houses and self accommodating apartments for all of the reasons that you have cited and because there are times when you are simply too tired to drag yourself out for a meal and having a stocked fridge in your own kitchen is soothing. I also agree with Lisa’s statement above about the ‘spreading out’ factor.

    Looking forward to seeing the range of countries and styles of holiday homes you stay in. And having read your other blog, I am also looking forward to hearing how you FEEL about the atmosphere of the city, town, or village — whether you felt at home with the people, were things easy to find, reasonable to purchase, etc. You write so well that I have no doubt that we will all learn a LOT from this new site!

  4. Thank you! We’re really excited too! Totally agree hotels can be heavenly – we stayed in some gorgeous ones last year esp (W Doha was pretty special; stayed in fab places in Mallorca), but it’s check-in and other processes that have burnt us out. Thoroughly looking forward to freedom and space of holiday homes, as you say, plus the local experiences & being out of the ‘hotel zone’ (really good point!). But looks like you have an exciting project planned too – another grand tour of sorts @TheWorldCalls – good luck with that, best thing you can do for the kids.

  5. Hi Christine – I guess we’ve always seen the value of hotels and holiday rentals, depending on the style of travel, although to be honest, I doubt I’d opt for a holiday rental for less than 3 days. Like you, I think increasingly people will look to rentals, as a result of a move toward travellers wanting to spend longer periods of time in one place.

    It’s interesting you say you might have expected we’d have the freedom to be opinionated, because I recently saw a discussion on Jeremy Head’s excellent blog Travel Blather where a tour operator said he’d want editorial control over content if he’d funded the writer/blogger’s trip. I can’t locate that post but maybe Jeremy can provide us with the link. We’re fortunate that our partners are on our side as far as editorial control goes.

    As for destinations, we’ve been going through a process of selecting places to ensure we have a good combo of popular places travellers search for when they’re looking for holiday accomm. to rent, and off-the-beaten-track destinations we’d like to encourage travellers to visit. While HomeAway is a web-based property with a global audience and a global company with a US office, our project partner is the UK office, and what I’ve found interesting is that places that might be off-the-beaten-track to UK/European travellers are not so to Americans or Australians and vice versa. I’ll be very interested to see what you and other travellers think of our destinations.

    Thanks for dropping by!

  6. i’m loving what i’ve sread so far.. with a 4 year old and one on the way, home rentals are what i’ve been reaching out for, especially where I can hang with the locals and immerse myself in culture on an extended leave, especially if the home owners are close by and are great storytellers over a few bottles of wine.. if you find any homes that include the use of bicycles i’d love to know…


  7. Hi Deborah – thanks for dropping by and sharing your thoughts – and for your kind words! Totally agree with you about being able to chill out so easily in a holiday home. Yep, we’re really looking forward to getting on the road again and experiencing these properties and places, but there’s still so much to do – eek!

  8. Hey Christine,
    I want to make one thing clear at the outset of the project – we love good hotels. Seriously. This isn’t a for/against argument – each type of accommodation has its place. Quality hotels are not going anywhere. If it’s a 2-3 day break, a rental apartment might not be the best choice unless you know the destination really well. Sometimes hotel desk staff *can* be incredibly helpful to find you a restaurant @ 11pm – we’ve tested them! Sometimes the pampering can be what you’re after – we get it – we love it – we do it. We see rental accommodation for holidays as something different. It’s clear what you’re ‘giving up’, but it’s not so clear what you gain, which is what we’re out to explore over the next 12 months…


  9. Interesting to see you stepping away from hotels temporarily, while a relative hotel outsider is stepping into a 365 nights in a different hotel room in Amsterdam experiment. See my blog.

  10. Hi Terence

    Of course hotels are a fixture for short stays, plus there will always be people who prefer not to have to make their own bed, on holiday, as it were.

    But I do believe that package-style hotel holidays will ease.

    And along with home rentals, the rapidly growing home exchange, is an equal way in which tourism is moving.

    When I first joined a HomeExchange programme, I had 25 enquiries to swap in the first month, free of course, from such diverse places as Poland, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Croatia, Florida, NYC, Italy, Spain and many from Australia.

    best wishes

  11. Oh, you’re kidding?! Oh, that’s too funny! We know Amsterdam well (wrote a Lonely Planet Best of Guide to A. a few years ago), so we’ll be interested to watch your project. But you try 365×4 and see whether you’ll embrace the project so enthusiastically! Just joking – as Terence said – we do love hotels (and I know you know that from my CTG blog), but this is just the little break we need from them. Good luck with it! We’ll go check out your blog.

  12. Hi Xander – well, we’ll make a special effort to look for places for bicycles for you – I hadn’t thought of that, but what a great idea! There are certainly destinations we’re going to where we want to be able to bike so we’ll keep our eyes peeled. Now as for listening to local storytellers over bottles of wine. That *was* on the to-do list!

  13. Hi Lara and Terry,
    Hope things are well. Believe it or not, ‘Xander, a few comments above mine is my brother-in-law. He sent me a link to Home Away since we are planning a family
    reunion/vacation for next year and he knew of our plans for an RTW when my girls are older. And I was so excited because I knew you guys were on this project! Looking forward to reading all about your experiences in these home-away-from-home homes (how to use the word ‘home’ 3x in a sentence).
    Jen Laceda

  14. YAY, lara! i am so excited for you and terry. we always try to stay in a home or apt – with my disabilities, it is much easier to travel slowly. i can’t wait to read of your adventures!!

  15. Hi Lara and Terry!

    I love a good hotel for a short break but for longer stays enjoy the space and freedom of a ‘home’. I think a holiday rental also lends itself to family or groups and in my opinion it seems more difficult to find quality rentals (without breaking the bank) for two. Looking forward to followng your Grand Tour and will be interested to hear your thoughts on holiday home rental.

    Have fun!

  16. Hi Jessie! Thank you! We’re very excited too, as you can imagine. I can’t wait to be on the road writing about our adventures, but still a lot of prep to do and other projects to finish. Thanks for visiting!

  17. Hi Lara, Just wanted to say a big Hello. you will be staying in My Penthouse in London in February & I hope you both have a great time there. Looking forward to meeting you & watching with interest your year of holiday home travel. Warmest Regards…see you soon..Bob Burrage

  18. Hi Lisa

    Thanks for your comments – totally agree with you! We’ll make a special attempt to look out for some good places for couples for you and let you know how we go. Glad you’re going to join us on our adventure!


  19. For stays of longer than 2-3 nights there’s no contest as far as I’m concerned, it’s a holiday rental every time. No dragging myself to a breakfast room at a fixed time to eat breakfast (usually far more than I want) surrounded by strangers, plenty of space to spread out in, invariably more in the way of luxuries, e.g. DVD players, than you would find in a cheaper hotel or guest house, and far more competitive on price. A recent example, 4 nights in an apartment in St Ives with fabulous sea views for around 50 pounds a night.

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