In planning for our global grand tour I’ve had to think about what kitchen utensils I will want to use in holiday rentals along the way – and what I can justify taking in my luggage. For starters, I’m going to need a cleaver…

It has also got me thinking about what travellers expect a holiday rental kitchen to be equipped with when renting a property. One of the trends I’ve observed over the last couple of years staying in holiday rentals is a move to more sophisticated show kitchens.

We’ve also stayed at some properties where the kitchens have been awesome, but plenty of others where things have been a lot more, ahem, well, basic. Let’s just say you’d have a hard time making a toasted sandwich in some of them.

So just what is it that we think every holiday rental property should have in its kitchen?

Firstly, a list of the basics…

I’d been thinking about this for a while when it finally twigged – the Ikea Startbox! I’m not advocating Ikea – those knives with the plastic handles are awful – but the 365+ cookware is great value, and what’s in their Startbox is about the most basic level of kitchen utensils we’d expect. (Take a look here.)

In addition, there should be a decent stove (gas, pretty please) with oven (gas or electric), toaster, and kettle, thanks. That’s enough to get us by for a week or two, and is even good enough to be able to host a decent dinner party.

We’d be even happier if there were also decent non-stick pans, good cook’s knives, and an espresso machine – okay, we’ll settle for a traditional Italian stovetop espresso maker.

We do, however, understand that some of these items are prone to misuse. We had a guest at our apartment in Dubai who would leave the knob on the steamer that creates the cappuccino foam on our beautiful Gaggia espresso machine, almost causing its metal body to bulge under the pressure.

When it comes to the subject of what I can’t live without in the kitchen of a holiday home or apartment, no matter what’s provided, it’s really just a few things:

  • a decent cook’s knife
  • a thermometer for the oven and meat (I’m a cook, not a chef with the touch of an angel), and…
  • a silpat.

I also asked our readers on Twitter what was the single must-have kitchen item to take around the world and the best response I got was from Chef Gary Robinson, who formerly ran the superb restaurant Mezzanine in Dubai, and was once head chef to HRH The Prince of Wales.

Chef Gary suggested I take a Chinese cleaver, claiming that it’s the only knife he uses at home. But then he’s probably biased after years working in Hong Kong.

The cleaver is an excellent idea now that I think about it. Anything from chicken bones to stubborn cloves of garlic can be slaves to the flat blade. But how do I explain that to Customs every couple of weeks?

“Sir, why are you carrying a cleaver in your luggage?” Um…

So what’s the single must-have kitchen item that you expect to see in holiday rentals?

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