For our summer holiday this year, the Wright clan headed to Germany for a week's stay in the heart of the Black Forest.
There were three reasons we chose to do this: 1. VIP is a MFL (Modern Foreign Languages' teacher) and is a total Germanophile 2. Our eldest has chosen to take German as a GCSE and we thought it would be great for him to try chatting with the locals and 3. The Black Forest is supposedly beautiful.
Ever since our first experience of staying in an apartment as a family in Hamburg, I've been a HUGE fan. They provide more space – both sleeping and liveable – and allow for a more pleasurable stay.
VIP and I spend all day making sure the whole family has a great time on holiday. And in the evening, we like nothing more than spreading ourselves out across the apartment to get some much-needed ‘me time'.
The kids will play on their devices (and not be arguing), VIP will be sitting on the balcony burying his head in a book and I'll no doubt be tapping away on my trusty MacBook, getting my thoughts down on paper, so to speak. And that's how we all like it.
We booked to stay in the Penthouse-Appartements Freiburg, which is about a 10-minute tram ride from the centre of Freiburg itself.
Appartement 5 was booked through Booking.com and it cost 845 euros for five days in the summer holidays.
A little pricey you may think, but well worth the price especially when we saved money on the flights with easyJet, spending around £132.07 each for a return flight.
Plus we also saved at the airport parking too by using JustPark – it cost us £40 for the week compared to the £145 it would have cost at the long-stay car park at Gatwick North (£25 per day for the first day and £20 for subsequent days).
What Freiburg Appartements provides
- Senseo Philips coffee machine
- A microwave
- A fridge (but no freezer)
- Vacuum cleaner
- Fans (3)
- Washing machine
- Clothes dryer
- Iron, ironing board
- Kitchen towels (2)
- Toilet rolls (5)
- Washing up liquid, dishcloths and washing up scourer
- Soap from a dispenser: we only had a small amount in the shower and there was no soap in the bathroom, so I was glad i brought my own.
- Towels – plenty, so you won't go short.
- Dishwasher tablets (one per day)
What to bring
- Shampoo, conditioner, shower gel
- Laundry powder (if you want to wash your clothes)
- An air mister if you're staying in the hot summer months. You can buy one or make your own!
What I loved
The owner of the apartment clearly had their head screwed on as they provide a laminated sheet detailing everything – from what trams go into the city centre, to the nearest supermarket and restaurants – it was a very handy guide indeed.
I liked the fact that the accommodation was based in a quieter area of town; although I love the atmosphere that a busy area offers, it was nice to not have rowdy groups of people keeping us awake.
I was also pleasantly surprised that the apartment had provided some of the general things I thought we'd end up buying ourselves – washing-up liquid, kitchen towels, loo roll etc… it made the whole shopping experience much more pleasurable when we didn't have to worry about forgetting household essentials.
On the day we were due to arrive, we changed our arrival time at the very last minute, arriving about five hours before we said we would.
We called ahead to warn them, giving them just 30 minutes' notice, but all was fine and the apartment was cleaned in time and ready for when we arrived – that's German efficiency for you!
A stay at Freiburg Appartements also comes with a parking space and there's a petrol station right next door, which is really handy.
The decor in the apartment was lovely with some really nice touches such as artwork showcasing Freiburg and really nice lighting.
The bathroom was clean and had everything we needed – towels, soap etc but was really low on the shampoo/conditioner/shower gel – so I was glad I'd brought my own supplies.
Room for improvement
We travelled at a time when the whole of Europe seemed to be experiencing an unusual heat wave that lasted weeks. We were seeing temperatures in their early 30s in Freiburg – and at times it was stifling.
I would have really appreciated an apartment with air-conditioning. Being Brits, we weren't used to the scorching heat and we could have done with some relief from the relentless heat.
The apartment offered two fans – one in one of the bedrooms and the second in the lounge. As it turned out, VIP ended up sleeping on the balcony, Luis had one of the fans in his room and Girlwrighter and I shared the other fan in the second bedroom.
On the first night VIP and I couldn't sleep because of the heat and ended up taking cold showers and staying awake until gone 1.30am when it was cool enough to even contemplate sleeping. In fact, VIP never actually slept IN the apartments – he was outside on the balcony as the heat was unbearable.
It's a big ask to expect the apartments to install air-conditioning, but traditionally, Freiburg is known for seeing temperatures rise into the 30s, so it really should have been installed when the apartments were built.
In the short term however, ceiling fans would have provided light relief – or failing that, at least four fans – one for each of us should have been available.
The bed pillows were more like cushions and didn't really offer much head support. I ended up using a sofa cushion on the bed as my pillow, as the ones provided were no good for me.
Finally, a small freezer space would possibly have been useful for storing things like ice (to help cool down) or buying frozen pizzas from the supermarket one night. We managed fine with the fridge, but having a freezer would have made things a little easier.
If you do end up booking a stay at the Freiburg Appartements, here are some top tips to ensure you have a pleasurable stay.
- Although there's an Aldi and a Lidl within a five-minute drive of the apartment, you'll find everything you need and more from the local supermarket, Kaufland. It's spread over two floors, is huge and prices are really reasonable too. Check out the clearance shelves while you're in there too – I spotted a huge German flag for VIP to use in his classroom – originally 4.50 euros, reduced to just 50 cents!
- A great place to dine out in the evening is McNamara's Irish Pub. It's less than a ten-minute walk from the apartment, the food is really good, there's a great atmosphere (naturally – it's an Irish pub!) and they offer live music on Fridays and a quiz night on Sundays. We came fourth in the quiz – and they still gave us a prize which was really generous. Thanks Jacob for a great craic!
- Leave all the blinds down during the day in the apartment. It will help reflect the heat and the apartment won't be nearly as hot as if you'd had them up all day.
- On the ground floor of the building is a bakery that also sells refreshments and hot meals. It's open from 8am until 8pm every day and will get you out of a tight fix if you've got nothing in to eat or drink.
- Remember not to buy any frozen food from the supermarket as the apartment doesn't have a freezer.
Have you stayed in an apartment as a family? If not, would you? And if you have, what is it that you like about them?
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