17.3.20

Why we always choose vacation rentals over hotels + a glimpse at The Prince Edward County Church Airbnb

From following our many travels over the years, you already know by now that we're typically Airbnb users. Before Airbnb, we rented vacation homes on other platforms or directly from owners, but we've always loved the freedom and flexibility that renting our own space brought over the constrictions and cost of hotels, especially in this season of life with three young kids.


With the current COVID-19 pandemic, I'm aware that writing on tourism of any kind may appear insensitive. I want to be very careful as I share these travel tips because I know many reading have had to cancel long awaited vacations, and that sting may remain for some time. As I write about vacation rentals over hotel stays, know that I'm speaking from past experience and in most cases, local travels. Many of the Airbnb stays we have enjoyed as a family have been in Quebec and Ontario, just short car journeys from home. Over the March Break we were invited to stay in the Prince Edward County Church, under four hours drive from Montreal and we had a really incredible time. For anyone re-thinking international travel in the upcoming months, I can't recommend vacation rentals in our own country enough, and the Prince Edward County Church in particular. Read on for why we love renting and a few pictures of the fabulous former church that hosted our family.


We have stayed at hotels as a family before, notably the Chateau Frontenac for Christmas when our kids were all age three and under and this past summer for a few days during the Bulgaria leg of our stay. If we've stayed in hotels in the past, we either had no other option for accommodation (as was the case in Bulgaria) or found a once-in-a-lifetime price and wanted the experience while it was temporarily in our budget (as was the case with the Chateau Frontenac, as they were undergoing some renovations and slashed their prices for a very short while). Renting homes has always been good to our family and I'd love to share why, nine times out of ten, we'll choose renting over a hotel. I also want to take a minute to share our recent March Break stay at the Prince Edward County Church, an Airbnb property that we were lucky enough to stay at for a few days. 


WHY WE RENT HOMES INSTEAD OF BOOKING HOTEL ROOMS
  1. The space

    As a family of five, hotel rooms are way too cramped for us. We live in an urban condo all year round, so we're not looking for a massive family home by any means, but we do want more space than essentially a large bedroom. Rental homes come in all shapes and sizes, of course, but I've yet to stay in one that was smaller than a basic hotel room! I like having a place to go before my family wakes or after the kids are down at the end of the day. That Christmas that we stayed in a hotel in Quebec City, Brad and I literally hung out in the closet so not to wake our sleeping babies! At the Prince Edward County Church we had so much space to ourselves - it was glorious. As a former Methodist church, you can imagine how unique the architecture was. One of the larger homes we've ever rented, it provided little nooks, balconies, and two living rooms.

     
  2. A fully functioning kitchen

    I love to cook and when travelling we still eat many of our meals at our rental space. Cooking your own meals is budget-friendly and provides comfort and routine for your kids, which is essential. It's also something nearly impossible to do when staying in a hotel. We love renting homes for the cooking possibility, and the Prince Edward County Church had such a great kitchen (including a Soda Stream, french press, tons of cookware, beautiful serve ware, etc). I ordered a Goodfood box ahead of time to be delivered to our Airbnb, which was so convenient! For anyone interested, I here's a code for $40 off your first order. I also brought some baked goods, easy snacks, and fun treats for the daytime. It's always worth asking your Airbnb host about what their kitchen does and does not have. Some rental homes have very little and others are really well stocked. Our March Break rental fell into the latter category, happily, but I have stayed in Airbnbs that didn't have can openers, cutting boards, or sharp knives, which made things tricky. Even if you're just using the kitchen for breakfast and snacks, rental space kitchens are preferable to a hotel's minibar.

     
  3. Separate bedrooms

    Unless you're splurging for a several suite hotel room, most hotel stays also mean sharing a bedroom with your kids. No thank you! I love how renting homes gives us all more privacy and comfort. The Prince Edward County Church actually had three bedrooms so my kids didn't all have to share, as they do at home, which was a major perk for them! Brad and I also had a king sized bed which we don't have at home, so everyone was spoiled :)

  4. Finances

    I've already mentioned this point so I won't drag it out any further. By and large, Airbnb rentals cost less than hotels stays and you get so much more. Plain and simple!
    Also, as an added incentive, book any Airbnb with this link and receive $60 off! (new users only)
  5. Getting the local experience

    Even if finances weren't in the equation, I think I'd always opt for renting a local home over a hotel for this exact reason. We love renting in small communities, off the tourist path, and really getting a feel for what life would be like living in that town/city/country. We love finding a local grocery store, markets and shops and moving right in, so to speak. Aside from renting a home, I'd recommend staying in fewer places and for longer to get this experience. I've seen European tours that boast covering five countries in five days and that's just not for me. We'd rather see fewer countries or cities but get to know the ones we do see really well
We have already planned an international trip this June which may or may not come to fruition. We'll be following the expert's advice and international laws when the time comes, but for now it's too early to tell if we'll need to cancel our trip or not. If we do cancel, we'll likely look at the Maritimes or Northern Quebec and definitely rent a home instead of booking a hotel. Staycations can still be adventurous and restful, so I'm not worried!

If any of you are looking at Prince Edward County, which is just over an hour from Toronto and under four hours from Montreal, you really must check out the Church. It's absolutely stunning and filled with history and unique touches around every corner. We were hosted by The Prince Edward County Church and did not pay for our stay, but I had been wanting to stay there for ages before the collaboration materialized and I know a few friends who have stayed there are raved about it. I can say with all honesty that their raving was well founded and our stay was something I'll never forget.

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