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Finding a place to stay - why you should do it together!

Initially I was in charge of the logistics because my husband would follow me anywhere (his words, not mine). Partly because I was good at it and I also enjoy the sport of it. I have definitely gotten worse with age. My husband isn't really interested, but following a few costly mistakes, he has become more involved.

Let's just say up front that we had a small list of "must haves". These included a flushing toilet, separate bedroom as we don't want to sleep in the same room we cook in, some sort of outdoor space, close to stuff to do, bars and restaurants, within a certain budget, private entrance and bathroom. That was pretty much it. Here's how the list grew:

The first stop in London was only for two nights. The size was alright but we were met with laundry drying in the bathroom, a mouldy piece of a leftover, half eaten wrap in the fridge, leftover food elsewhere and a door that was tricky to open and close. The place was pretty much in need of a good renovation. I should mention the dirty stairs and the broken mirror under the bed too! We did a review and let the owners know it wasn't good enough, but figured it was only for two nights so we stuck it out. Previous reviews were a mix of excellent and ok....I figure you have to imagine something in between and I suppose it was.

The next week we had booked another place that was another that had excellent and bad reviews, but again, it was within budget and it was in the right location. As soon as we walked in we were hit with a smell that was a mix of sweat, animal smells and smoke. It was a non smoking place, so can't explain that. It was also FILTHY and the floor was falling apart. I immediately sent a note to AirBnb and there was an offer to move to another place. We were too tired and stressed after bringing all my luggage there that we decided to stay and asked for a discount. We bought air freshener and used it all week. We also put sarongs on the couch and wore thongs indoors all week. I had a little cry, because at this point I was also missing my pillow and blanket.... First world problems.

I didn't know if we would have to fork out for another place out of our pocket and wait for a refund if we moved, but I found out recently that if you do have the energy to move, AirBnb will put you up in a better place, as long as one is available. Good to know I suppose, but the jury is out on whether you actually do get refunded if you decide to book somewhere else.

Next stop was Newcastle. As we had a lot of bags, we needed space. After looking at photos of one place I had booked, we realised my mistake. I thought there was a couch in the bedroom as well as one in the living room. It turns out I was wrong and my husband spotted it. The (one) couch was at the foot of the bed. Clever photography! How were we to move around without space for all of those bags? Not a problem as we had booked a place with free cancellation.

We found a larger place (obviously for more money and outside the budget) but it was available. However the next day, when we had confirmation was also the day our free cancellation had ticked over to a 50% loss.... oh boy. We went for it anyway, but now we started looking at other places we had booked. First really costly mistake by me.

So our list of things we wanted to know about a place was growing. Now we wanted to know the actual size of the property. It was also handy to check if there were stairs and the size of the bed! I wish there was a filter for bed size. I have been known to email the host to ask how big the bed is. Double beds are common in Europe. Also, a King size bed in Europe is what we call Queen size in Australia. It's ok to ask questions. Another host informed me (before accepting my booking) that there was no stand up shower. That's also on the list now.

Fast forward to Palermo and it's fine but we would prefer a larger outdoor area. It has the usual Italian balconies which are enough to accommodate a small chair or maybe two but nothing else. Another addition to the list, as well as an iron AND ironing board! This was the second place where I think they thought it was ok to iron on your bed! Fortunately, this host bought one for us. Don't be afraid to ask!

Inner city balconies are generally pretty small. Even your washing has to go over the edge! A little tip: add extra pegs when it's windy. It saves you having to run downstairs to collect your (now) dirty clothes!

Palermo is a fantastic conundrum. I will write about this place soon... However, the beaches that are available to the city are really dirty. It's an hour to a decent beach by a really ordinary public transport system. There's no way I'd hire a car here, and I'll tell you why when I do my little blog on this place. I don't need to tell you that my husband has added to our list: Decent access to a beach. Not for him so much as me. We do both love being near the water though.

Some places charge for cleaning. I am now checking when I book how and when that happens. As our shortest stay in any place is currently a minimum of one month, you need to clean! The current place has a cleaning fee of about $50 and that is for the final clean. We had to ask for cleaning gear to clean the bathroom and floor. Sheets and towels are changed every week. I think accommodation booking sites need to have all hosts say up front what they will do.

As I am doing a blog, I need internet. We also need it to find out about where we are and how to get places. Asking if there is a dedicated router in the apartment will be another question. The apartment we are in only has a booster, presumably from another apartment somewhere. It's crappy at best and we were told it's best in the second bedroom. The workspace is located in the main bedroom... We ended up with a decent SIM card each and use those as a hot spot. Probably a better solution to be honest.

So, with our list of needs growing and our budget staying the same, it's going to become a little bit of a compromise. The question is, when trying to find Utopia, do you really want to do that?

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