how to stay in a €1,000,000 holiday apartment | barcelona wedding vlog

What’s even better than going on holiday and living like a local? Going on holiday and living like a LUXURY LOCAL!

Our apartment in Barcelona was stunning – and here’s exactly how you could stay here yourself for a whole lot less money than your average hotel.

ENTER STAGE LEFT: Love Home Swap!

This is the second time we’ve used Love Home Swap (remember that insane New York apartment with the Emmy Award? Yeah, that one was one of them too) so to say we’re impressed is a total understatement. I really love how not only the quality of homes on the site are proper BANGIN’, but also that there’s nice ‘community vibes’ – because no one’s there to make money out of you. Everyone’s just after the same thing – somewhere nice to stay.

In this video, I’ll break down how we found this particular apartment and how we used Love Home Swap’s clever ‘points swap’ feature to stay. We also go to our friends’ incredible Barcelona wedding, get a chronic hangover (standard) and properly explore the neighbourhood of Eixample.

the holiday breakdown – how much did it all cost?

So yes, yes, I went on loads of holidays last year however, I realised today that I’ve actually yet to post all of them, along with their costs, in one easy-to-find place.

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Remember the rules?

I had £1709 (half the price the average Brit spends in a year) to go on:

  1. At least 10 holidays
  2. Trips must be 2 nights or more and two must be 5 nights or more
  3. Only use 28 days of annual leave
  4. At least 3 continents
  5. At least one flight must be business class

The holidays

1) Valencia, Spain

easyJet flights – £62pp
1 night – Bloc Hotel Gatwick – £32.72pp
2 nights – Hotel Balandret – £75pp
Total – £169.72pp

2) Dubai, UAE

Qantas/Emirates flights – £279.83pp
4 nights – Princess Tower Apartments (similar) – £184pp
Total – £463.83pp

3) Aarhus, Denmark

Ryanair flights – £43.33pp
2 nights – friend’s apartment – free!
Total – £43.33pp

4) Dublin, Ireland

Stena Line ferry & petrol – £14pp
2 nights – Mec Hostel, Dublin – £65pp
Total – £79pp

5) Benidorm, Spain

British Airways Business Class – £216pp
3 nights – Pierre & Vacances Benidorm Levante – £72pp
Total – £288pp

6) Margate, UK

Southeastern train – £13.30pp
2 nights – Airbnb – £25pp
Total – £38.30pp

7) Paris, France

Eurostar snap – £50pp
14 nights – Nomador catsit – free!
Total = £50pp

8) Gdańsk, Poland

Ryanair flight – £16pp
2 nights – Little Home – Prestige – £33pp
Total = £49pp

9) Timisoara, Romania

Ryanair flight – £20pp
2 nights – NH Timisoara – £35pp
Total = £55pp

10) New York & Miami, USA

British Airways return flights – £358pp
2 nights – New York apartment – £45pp
Frontier flights to Miami – £32pp
3 nights – Miami Homestay – £40pp
2 nights – Miami Airbnb – £40pp
1 night – Shelborne South Beach – £66pp
Total = £581pp

Overall total = £1817.18
Cashback = £112.73

Final total = £1704.45

holiday one: winter sun weekend break for less than £170

As I sat down to get my booking on, I had three things in mind.

  • I wanted to go somewhere new
  • I wanted to go some warm(ish)
  • I wanted to go somewhere for 2 nights

I was also planning on going with the housemate, James, so everything I’d be searching for would be for two.

So with a quick stretch of my most prominent key-tapping fingers, I set forth, loose in the wily heaths of the world wide web.

Here’s how I got on:

 

1. Flights first

I bloody love Skyscanner because its nifty search tool allows you to search ‘everywhere’ when you’re not sure where to go, and ‘cheapest month’, when you just want a good deal.

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This time, I knew my dates so just used ‘everywhere’.

After sifting through many a cold (but cheap) destination, I settled on Valencia.

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Total cost – £61.98 each (yes, I really am counting that 2p!)

Tip – Whilst there certainly are last minute deals to be had, deals were pretty thin on the ground 10 days before. I saw some incredibly cheap flights (£38) to Cyprus at the same time just 2 weeks ago!

Booked with easyJet (via Skyscanner)

Cashback – No monies for easyJet, but we’ll let it slide… This time…

2. Getting to Gatwick

Since our flight is leaving Gatwick at 7:10AM, I’d rather put my head into a bag of wet prawns that leave the house at half three on a Saturday morning. Therefore, I had a quick look for a cheap hotel at the airport itself et voilà!

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The BLOC hotel is actually IN THE TERMINAL. As in, roll out of bed, brush teeth, do 12 lunges (how else do you think I maintain my physique?) and walk through security.

What’s more, some of the rooms look out onto the runway which excited James so much, he asked if we could just stay there for the weekend.

I found a ‘no window’ room for £71 on hotels.com, but after hitting up trivago which is a great tool for comparing prices, I found one with a window for £67 on a site called Amoma. What’s more, when I checked if it did cashback, I saw that there was a 5% off code as well. Screen Shot 2017-01-24 at 16.45.46.png

Total cost – £32.78 each

Tip – Always use a comparative site such as trivago to check you’ve got the cheapest price on your hotel.

Booked with Amoma (via TopCashback)

Cashback – 9.2% cashback = £5.95 PLUS a cheeky 5% off code to boot (HOTEL5OFF – expires 31st March 2017).

3. A Valencia hotel worth of an Instagram (or six)

There were a bevvy of beautiful hotels for under £75 a night to choose from, including the highly rated Hotel Vincii Mercat and Vincii Palace.

However, it was two others that caught my eye.

First, One Shot Colon because – well, yes, because of the absolute lolathon the name gave me (and its minimalist but cool decor, great reviews and a bargain price of £50 a night).

But we ended up going for the slightly more expensive Hotel Balandret which has a 4.5 rating on TripAdvisor, and also comes second in The Telegraph’s expert ‘best hotels in Valencia’ list.

It’s also on the sea front (we paid an extra £15 in total to have a sea view) and comes with free breakfast each morning.

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Total cost – £75 each

Tip – Sure, we could have done this bit for cheaper but a few extra pounds has got us a better room and we’ll save money on spends by eating in for breakfast.

Also, the hotel is part of Hotels.com’s loyalty scheme so we’ve banked 2 nights out of the 10 needed to get a free night stay at a hotel in the future.

Booked with Hotels.com (via TopCashback)

Cashback – 9.2% = £8.15


Total cost = £169.72

Total potential cashback = £14.10

As the cashback is only a bonus once it comes through, there’s no deducting it from the final total (just yet) so for now, here’s what we’re left with:

Total left = £1543.29

Holiday one: BOOKED.