Great 'Cheap Holiday Rentals' Hunt. How to grab fab self-catering properties for less

MSE_Jenny Posts: 1,312
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MSE Staff
Self-catering villas and rentals can be much cheaper than equivalent hotels; the problem is finding them at good prices. So we’d like to tap MoneySavers for their top tips on grabbing bargain hideaways, from white-washed villas to cosy cottages.

How can you haggle down the price, and avoid renting a pig sty? Should you go directly to private owners or via an agency?

Please press 'reply' to share your top tips.



  • Jelliebeen
    Jelliebeen Posts: 331 Forumite
    I go direct from the owner - you don't pay any comission/middle man that way.
    My parents actually advertise their s/c apartment on so I tend to use that one since it's come on my radar.

    I don't really like the idea of haggling if you get it direct from the owner. There's no harm in asking politely, but if the answer's no, leave it at that. On the whole, these people aren't part of big businesses and won't appreciate people trying to knock even more money off. It's still much cheaper than hotels and the prices are set bearing all the overheads in mind. My parents actually said if they rented theirs for less than the asking price, they'd make a loss given the amount of electricty people use these days!

    Make good use of the kitchen and local markets to cook food on the cheap rather than eating out. You'll save a fortune!
  • webrow
    webrow Posts: 6 Forumite
    edited 31 July 2009 at 10:34AM
    I've found looking on Gumtree really good for holidays accommodation. Also my friend has a timeshare and is with a timeshare company, they sell off their apartments for late availability really cheap, and they are all over, don't usually have UK apartments though, don't think I'm allowed to put details here.

    If anyone wants to know more about getting last minute availability, rather than put details on here message me and I might be able to help!;D

    I have just got back from a 1 week in Cagliari in Sardinia. Me, Partner and his 3 kids. We ended up spending £1050 for all of us including spendos. We rented an apartment (£300), it was close to the beach, bought in all supplies from supermarket, spent days on beach, made sandwichs for lunch etc. Ryanair flights were £160 for all of us, we only checked in 2 bags as we only needed limited stuff for beach etc and apartment had washing machine! Found apartment on gumtree. Fantastic holiday!! Normally we would spend this per person but both me and my partner lost our jobs earlier this year but I'm back in work now, so we had to slash the budget. I think I would always holiday like this in future. I love budgeting now!!!
  • Perhaps this is well known anyway, but if you're thinking of heading to Venice think of going in November when I've found apartment rentals and hotel prices to be much cheaper and everywhere less crowded. I managed to negotiate on the price and the removal of a late arrival fee.

    BUT! The reason for this is because it's about the only month in the year that's off-season in Venice and the reason for this is because the risk of flooding is traditionally much much higher. However, flooding seems to have become a year-round risk these days, and you can get lucky - I've had a gloriously sunny (if cold) and unfloody weekend there in November.
  • wigansheryl
    wigansheryl Posts: 29 Forumite
    I take SC breaks in this country a couple of times a year. The trick is to leave it as late as possible - a risky strategy for some, as prices do tend to come down the later you leave it. In the Easter school holidays this year, I got a 5* beach front apartment at Treyarnon Beach for £500 instead of £950 simply by leaving it until 4 days befor we wanted to go. I have had similar deals up in Northumberland and the Scottish Highlands. You need to be flexible about where you stay - at Easter I wanted to go to Cornwall, but did not fix my sights on any particular location in Cornwall. I also find looking for smaller agencies and owners direct also works. You have to be prepared to invest time in searching out the bargains - the good thing is once you are aware of them you can bookmark them for future use! At the end of the day, if you leave it late, the owner would rather have some money for the week rather than none!
  • crispcg
    crispcg Posts: 58 Forumite
    I own a villa in Orlando and you can get some fantastic deals by booking directly with the owner. I regularly get asked for a discount either by people looking to book a year or more in advance or searching for a last minute bargain which I will gladly offer. Try for worldwide destinations or for Florida. You're sure to find a great bargain!
  • oysterlover
    oysterlover Posts: 18 Forumite
    Over the last 8 years I have booked self catering accomodation through and have had some amazingly cheap deals. Now my family have grown up and left home we can go "out of season" and get even better prices. It's quite daunting the first time you part with your hard earned cash. The people we have dealt with over the years have been genuinely lovely people and after all it is their personal holiday home you are staying in so don't expect cloned uninspiring basic boxes! good commumication is important. Get all the things you need to know sorted out via phone or e.mail before you pay anything. Highly reccommended way to holiday.
  • lagoslife
    lagoslife Posts: 163 Forumite
    Private owners usually offer better deals. You can search for late deals and special offers direct from holiday rental owners on the following sites.

    My experience is that the later you leave it, the better deal you get. Some of the properties also have reviews from past guests and their own websites which can be useful.

    Agencies may also offer deals and more protection when booking.

    With all this rain I need a holiday!
  • gofes
    gofes Posts: 6 Forumite

    My parents booked (through my ebay account) a week in the Peak District for a 1/3 of the usual cost. As this was only booked 2 weeks before the holiday.

    They were very happy with the cottage, and still got the welcome pack of local food and home made cakes.
  • marc291
    marc291 Posts: 19 Forumite
    edited 31 July 2009 at 10:34AM
    I own a Villa that I rent and I use many websites and agents, if your looking for a deal dont just look at the Special Offer pages as these have to be paid for at a premium by the onwers. Somtimes the best deals can be found by looking at last minute availabilty as the owner will be happy to take a lower price rather than the property being empty. Large properties can often be obtained for large discounts for couples as the owners will have less costs and risks. So even if the property is for 8 people its worth asking a price for two.
    Booking well in advance is also a good way to get a deal, School Holidays fill up very quickly and you can often get a discount or at present years prices for next year. Finally Ebay, owners often sell last minute availability at greatly reduced prices, just ensure you check all the details and know whats included and whats not. Dont want any nasty surprises.
    These are all the biggest and best for bookings, the also in some cases monitor the owners and offer some secuirty or peace of mind when booking.
  • I am sure that a lot of the time there is no problem renting direct from an owner. But just be careful as I know someone who transferred money into a Spanish account after having found a villa on one of these advertising sites, and the villa did not exist! Many insurance policies will not cover you for this. Sometimes it is better to get the security which comes from dealing with a company.
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